Dynamite Publishing

Is Calvary Chapel a cult? What is wrong? How Calvary Chapel adds to the Bible…

Have you ever had a strange feeling in your gut about Calvary Chapel? If so, you will want to read this (it has been my most-viewed article).

You walk into the church on a Sunday morning. Everyone is worshipping God with hands raised. You greet smiling faces. The message is delivered from the Bible (word for word) in a powerful, authoritative manner by the senior pastor. Greetings are made. You drop some money in the “tithe” box. Great day at church, and you do this year after year after year. The pastor says his church only goes by “the Word”. Indeed, that’s how it appears on the outside. You sense there is something wrong at the church, but you just cannot pinpoint it and doubt yourself. After all, the Bible is taught word for word from the pulpit, and there are a lot of members.

This church movement that claims to “simply teach the Word, simply” also follows a set of teachings they say are simply “foundational”, written by a man named Chuck Smith. Oddly, these extra-Biblical doctrines are not brought up. Why? This set of “foundational” teachings that most Calvary Chapel churchgoers are kept in the dark about is (drum roll, please):

The Calvary Chapel Distinctives by Chuck Smith (PDF)

So, what is this “Distinctives” document, exactly? You thought that you were being taught by leaders whose allegiance, leadership models, practices and doctrines were solely based upon the Word of God and sound doctrine rightly divided (2 Tim. 2:15)?

Not so fast.

Calvary Chapels appear to be a very solid, Biblical church. In fact, the messages are usually word-for-word out of the Bible; however, they do manage to insert their twists on scripture. Almost anyone would gather that from attending on Sundays. This is where it gets tricky. Discernment is needed. There is more behind the mask. There is a curtain, so don’t be fooled. Get a little closer, stay a little longer, dig a little deeper, and you will see something quite different at play. A friend of mine, a Calvary Chapel pastor’s son, once said that discovering the issues at Calvary Chapel is like peeling back the layers of an onion. Keep peeling, dig deeper, and don’t settle for the outside.

Have you ever had an odd feeling in your gut when attending a Calvary Chapel but you just didn’t know why? Listen to it. It could be God warning you.

Know your church and what goes on behind closed doors. Most importantly, know the Bible. You could protect yourself and your loved ones from physical abuse, sexual abuse, spiritual abuse and/or practices and legalistic teachings contrary to orthodox Christianity. Church abuse is epidemic.

The root of abuse is error in teaching (and the human heart, of course). In section two of The Distinctives, Smith discusses the Moses/Aaron form of leadership. He also twists the meaning of a “hireling” to mean someone who is not accountable to a board of directors:

“Becoming a hireling is a real danger when the church is run by a Presbyterian kind of a government, and the Board is ruling over the church. The pastor is hired by the Board and can be fired by the Board in the same fashion. With that kind of rule the pastor becomes a hireling.”

Did you catch that subtle yet powerful twist? Smith here is putting the pastor above the board of directors (the “board” is a worldly, business term and is found nowhere in the Bible). In many states, at least in Nevada, the attorney general frowns upon a non-profit with a “one-man show”. The Nevada Attorney General’s A Guide to Non-Profits warns:

Beware of the one person show. That is, if one or two directors dominate the board and the organization’s activities, do not relax and assume everything is running smoothly. ‘Nonmanagement’ is the quickest route toward trouble. Also, do not allow staff to exercise undue control over the board. Be aware of, and informed about, every major action taken by the organization. The buck stops with you.” (Emphasis mine)

Is this not what is happening at Calvary Chapels worldwide? Why are Calvary Chapels permitted tax-exempt status when they leave a bloody trail of abuse stories in communities? Are they truly contributing to “the public good”? There was once an entire website dedicated to helping abuse survivors from Calvary Chapel. It was called www.calvarychapelabuse.com. The author wrote on it for several years before he retired from writing about this subject. Smith’s leadership model is a pyramid of pride as opposed to Christ’s humble, servant-based leadership model. If the pastor cannot be hired or fired by the board, doesn’t that make the pastor a church boss with no accountability whatsoever (as opposed to a “hireling”)? Jesus said a hireling is someone who does not care for the sheep, not someone who is accountable to a board or fellow Christians (John 10:13). In fact, every true pastor/shepherd will be accountable to others. A true, humble servant of God wants to be accountable to Godly people and will listen to correction (Proverbs 12:1; 2 Tim. 4:2). A pastor who cannot get fired is a pastor who can get away with anything in the name of God or being “the Lord’s anointed one”! Do you see any similarities with the Roman Catholic Church?

Smith was no dummy. This is a clever set up and ripe breeding ground for abuse and false teachings to go unchecked in the church. Smith simply (and unbelievably) puts the pastor at the top of the pyramid in his Moses/Aaron form of leadership, on a deserted, pastoral island unto himself separate from any possibility of being fired by the Board or having healthy accountability. We are in the New Testament era – not the era of Moses – it’s the new covenant. Smith twists these Old Testament passages, adding to the Word and creating new, unbiblical “traditions of men”, and churches do this to suit their own legalistic agendas. This is precisely what the lax and liberal Pharisees did. Jesus had a problem with that.

You see, these teachings are “foundational” to the Calvary Chapel church you attend. What are you being taught? Do a quick internet search about Calvary Chapels, and you will find trails of abuse stories and a lack of financial accountability as well.

Calvary Chapel can also be found on the Cult Education Institute.

Please don’t be deceived. Calvary Chapel is not a biblical church. Calvary Chapel has no love or tolerance for those who have questions. When it comes to the bereans, those who would use their intellects to think for themselves, the leaders often threaten with words such as, “touch not the Lord’s anointed”. Even worse, they will condemn with fear tactics and threats that God will “hurt” you if you dare ask them questions or expose church abuses. Where in the Bible does it say to threaten to hurt others? It doesn’t. The top two commands are to love.

“not lording it over those entrusted to you, but being examples to the flock.” (1 Peter 5:3; BSB)

Chuck Smith used this tactic on someone years ago. His public shaming on a man was actually two years (to the day) prior to Smith’s passing. He publicly chastised his critic in front of thousands at a Sunday service, a man who had questions and was speaking out against abuses in the church (particularly, child abuse). Here are the words of Chuck Smith:

“…and you know, I feel sorry for the guy because what I could do wouldn’t hurt much..but…what the Lord will do…um…you know…well…I’m glad I have the Lord on my side“.

How’s that for cultic?

Related:

The Moses Model by Spiritual Sounding Board

Cult Warning Signs by Cult Education Institute

Invalid Reasons for Staying in a Church you Know Teaches False Doctrine by Famine in the Land

The Misunderstood Gift of Discernment by Free Believers Network

Is Sozo a cult? What is Sozo? A look at the new Scientology, Bethel Church, Bill Johnson and the new age…

A while back, I wrote about Sozo being more dangerous than Scientology.  In a nutshell, Sozo is more cleverly disguised than Scientology. TruNews provides an audio discussion at the link below.

Below, Rick Wiles of TruNews describes Sozo:

https://www.trunews.com/article/is-sozo-prayer-warmed-up-scientology

New Age churches such as Bethel in Redding California are teaching people to vibrate and get into harmony with God and the universe.  They are also anticipating audibly hearing a new sound from Heaven.  And a popular craze currently circulating in many Charismanic churches – especially Bethel – is something called Sozo Prayer. 

We’re going to discuss the Sozo Prayer movement today and some other weird things happening in the New Age charismanic churches.

Without a doubt, the premier name in New Age churches is Bethel in Redding California.  Over 8,000 people attend religious services each week at Bethel.   The senior pastor is Rev. Bill Johnson. They emphasize the super-natural. 

– TruNews with Rick Wiles

NEWS: CA mega-church has a fit over proposed conversion therapy legislation

http://www.slowlyboiledfrog.com/2018/03/ca-mega-church-has-fit-over-proposed.html

The following is an excerpt about Bethel Church from The Slowly Boiled Frog by David Cary Hart:

What the folks at Bethel don’t seem to get is that they are embracing a form of conversion therapy that is at odds with every mainstream medical and counseling peer organization. “Professionally-guided” conversion therapy is an oxymoron.

While I was at it, an exploration of Bethel Church was in order. The operation, run like a commercial enterprise, consumes a staggering amount of tax-deducted dollars. Receipts and expenditures are a secret known only to highly compensated church leadership.

Bethel Church’s website screams “cult” — very similar in tone to Scientology or the Unification Church (Moonies). It is a massive operation, structurally and financially. They claim to have missionaries around the globe. The church operates out of a $100 million campus in Redding, CA. They have a television network and world-class video conferencing facilities. Several church members are on the Redding city council. Last year, the church donated $500,000 to the city and shortly thereafter received approval for a new campus in spite of dozens of formally submitted citizen concerns… READ MORE.

Stay Away from Sozo Prayer! What is sozo? Is sozo a cult or cultic sect? Who is Bill Johnson?

What is sozo?  Is sozo safe?  Is sozo a cult?  Is Bethel Church safe?  Does God still heal and do miracles (I believe he does).  Let’s define sozo and take a deeper look below (click link)…

Stay Away from Sozo Prayer!

An article about the frequency of Narcissistic Personality Disorder in pastors…

http://www.aacc.net/2017/12/11/let-us-prey-the-frequency-of-narcissistic-personality-disorder-in-pastors/

The above helpful article was found on the American Association of Christian Counselors’ website.  Enjoy!

Glory Clouds by Wretched TV (Todd Friel): A Commentary

The fascist and dominionist roots and history of sozo and its ties to Latter Rain, NAR and Dominionism

Sozo is tied to Bethel Church in Redding, California, which has strong affiliation with the Latter Rain Movement and Dominionism.  Dominionism is also known as the New Apostolic Reformation or the Seven Mountains Mandate.  All these movements can be likened to separate, polluted “rivers” which come from the same muddy waste dump.  In America, sozo originated at Bill Johnson’s Bethel church in Redding, California.  The following is some rather awesome information on the “sketchy” history of sozo and its related movements:

“The origins of the movement are sketchy, but trace back to at least two influences, the Latter Rain movement and Dominionism.

The Latter Rain movement gained traction in the 1950s as a movement holding Pentecostal beliefs but largely outside the existing Pentecostal denominations, teaching the imminent rise of a victorious church that transcended denominational organizations and endowed with supernatural power through miraculous working of the Holy Spirit. The early Latter Rain movement is sometimes linked to William Branham, although most reject Branham’s Jesus-only baptism beliefs, and may have also had some influence on parts of the Jesus Movement and on the Discipling and Shepherding movement. Among the Latter Rain movement’s teachings were that the rise of a victorious church of “overcomers” endowed with supernatural power to wage spiritual warfare and perform miracles would usher in the second coming of Christ. The terms “Manifest Sons of God” and “Joel’s Army” referred to these “overcomers”.

Dominionism is a movement that began in the 1970s with Calvinist roots, teaching that the Biblical admonition for Christians to “take dominion” over all the earth includes taking dominion over civil government and law, and that civil law should be based on Biblical teachings.”

The problem with dominionism of course is that it is fascist and militant all the while hiding behind the cloak of being “good” and “Christian”.  The dominionist leaders have an agenda to wipe out other Christian denominations and to take over civil society.  They believe that they, as God’s elite group, are mandated by Jesus himself to do this by force.

Unless we want a fascist system to gain foothold in our nation, we need to be aware of the dominionists’ influence on politics and America.  There are many conservative politicians who are dominionists (I will talk about that more in the coming weeks).

The interview below is quite eye-opening.

The persecution of Christians: A look at what the Bible says about work for the Kingdom and Christianity…

Therefore, my beloved brethren, be steadfast, immovable, always abounding in the work of the Lord, knowing that your labor is not in vain in the Lord.
— I Corinthians 15:58 NKJV

At the end of Chapter 15 of I Corinthians, the Apostle Paul proclaimed to the church at Corinth the glory of their final destiny. He proclaimed to them that the “corruptible must put on incorruption” and the “mortal must put on immortality.” He proclaimed to them that when this happens “Death is swallowed up in victory.” And all of this is because we have the ultimate “victory through our Lord Jesus Christ” (I Corinthians 15:53-57).

Given the glory of our ultimate victory through Christ, Paul exhorted the church in our verse for today to do three things:

First of all, they should remain steadfast and immovable. It was part of Paul’s practice in all the churches to warn them that “all who desire to live godly in Christ Jesus will suffer persecution” (II Timothy 3:12), and that “after my departure savage wolves will come in among you, not sparing the flock” (Acts 20:29). Despite all of this, the church should stand fast in the faith.

Second, the church should always abound in the work of the Lord. The persecution and the savage wolves will be sent by Satan for the very purpose of stopping this work. Nevertheless, the church should stay steadfast and immovable and abound in every work. That is, they should not just do some work, they should do an overabundance of work. The church should do all they can to advance and enhance the Kingdom of God.

Finally, the church should know that their labor will not be in vain. Despite the persecution and the savage wolves, the work of the church will go forth and be successful. Jesus’ prophecy that the church will be His witness “to the ends of the earth” will come true (Acts 1:8). Further, if the church will remain steadfast and immovable and abound in the work of the Lord, they will reap Jesus’ promise of “a hundredfold now in this time” and His promise of “everlasting life” (Mark 10:30).

There may be persecutions and savage wolves that have pushed you to the point of giving up your work. Remain steadfast and immovable, for that work is not done in vain.

© 2016 by Bible League International

The forgotten verse of 1 Corinthians 11:19 about heresies and the crucial gift of discernment

http://www.bibletruths.net/archives/BTARO96.htm

There are so many verses in the Bible that are over-preached and then many which are conveniently ignored by modern-day teachers who preach unity at any cost.  Yes, unity is a good thing, but to have true, Godly unity…it must be a unity based on Truth, not compromise.

“For there must be also heresies among you, that they which are approved may be made manifest among you.” (1 Corinthians 11:19)

Paul said there “must be” heresies among believers.  The word heresies comes from the Greek word hairesisa (Strongs 139).  It means a self-chosen opinion, or a religious or philosophical sect. Basically, any teaching (man-made) that is against (contradicts) the Bible’s sound teaching and sound doctrine, rightly divided (2 Tim. 2:15), is a heresy.

Often, God allows heresies or sects (divisions away from the truth of God’s Word) to arise.  The Christians with the spiritual gift of discernment (or prophetic gift of standing on the truth) who very plainly see this will not have it easy in these times where truth is not popular at all, even among churches.  This is a sacrificial gift as it is often ignored, misunderstood and even abused by leadership (spiritual abuse is very real and prevalent today more than ever).  It’s very important for people with this gift to learn more about their gift and to stand strong.  It is crucial to understand this gift (whether you have it or not) because it is the most abused gift.  The apostle Paul said to “not” be ignorant of spiritual gifts.

Back to the verse.  The apostle Paul was saying here in this commonly forgotten verse that heresies and false teachings are a test to see who will stay faithful to God’s Word and who will not.  Often, the people who will not stay faithful to God’s Word will accuse the faithful of being divisive or ungraceful, or worse, thus bringing the way of truth into disrepute.  This is a warped twist on the truth, and this is partly what the Bible means when it says, “And many shall follow their pernicious ways; by reason of whom the way of truth shall be evil spoken of” (2 Peter 2:2).  This is speaking of the “many” people who divide away from God’s Word while at the same time falsely claiming to be “tolerant” or “graceful”.  The Christians who stay true to God’s Word will be slandered or evil spoken of.  This is exactly what happens today.  The people who stay faithful to His Word are worthy of His Kingdom.  We must not cave into deceptive teachings, for they are a test for God to see who is genuinely loyal to Him and who is not.  So, stand strong today in the truth of God, and seek to understand God and how He mysteriously works!

“For the time will come when they will not endure sound doctrine; but after their own lusts shall they draw to themselves teachers, having itching ears…” (2 TIm. 4:3)

Have a blessed day!

Related:

The Misunderstood Gift of Discernment

A quick question: Is sozo more dangerous than scientology? A look at blatantly obvious vs. disguised falsehood…

Do you think sozo is more or less dangerous than Scientology?

Here is why I ask: Scientology has nothing to do with Jesus; as far as I understand, Scientologists do not really use the word Jesus or talk about Jesus at all.  They also do not claim to be Christians. 

On the other hand, sozo teachers and “sozoists” claim that what they are doing is of God, Jesus and the Holy Spirit.  They claim that sozo is Christian, yet the followers of Bill Johnson deny Christ’s divinity and hypostatic union before He was age thirty.  This disguise may prove to be particularly more enticing to others, you think? 

Which one is more dangerous, then?  The blatantly obvious cult or the disguised “Christian” cult?  “Then we will no longer be immature like children. We won’t be tossed and blown about by every wind of new teaching. We will not be influenced when people try to trick us with lies so clever they sound like the truth” (Eph. 4:14; nlv).
 
What do you say?

“Oh, that you would bear with me in a little folly—and indeed you do bear with me. For I am jealous for you with godly jealousy. For I have betrothed you to one husband, that I may present you as a chaste virgin to Christ. But I fear, lest somehow, as the serpent deceived Eve by his craftiness, so your minds may be corrupted from the simplicity that is in Christ. For if he who comes preaches another Jesus whom we have not preached, or if you receive a different spirit which you have not received, or a different gospel which you have not accepted—you may well put up with it!” (2 Corinthians 11:1-4)

12 But what I do, I will also continue to do, that I may cut off the opportunity from those who desire an opportunity to be regarded just as we are in the things of which they boast. 13 For such are false apostles, deceitful workers, transforming themselves into apostles of Christ. 14 And no wonder! For Satan himself transforms himself into an angel of light. 15 Therefore it is no great thing if his ministers also transform themselves into ministers of righteousness, whose end will be according to their works.” (vs. 12-15)

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