The Calvary Chapel Chronicles

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140 Responses

  1. Kevin H says:

    It is inevitable that there will be some who will comment here and will challenge, if not outright attack the veracity of Smith’s moral failure and Michael’s choice to write about it publicly. Who knows what else will go on off-blog that we will never see.

    Knowing that there is a significant level of CC pastors and other CC people who still read here, especially on these types of articles, I would encourage those who also know and/or have been told these things about Smith and believe them to be true to speak up and affirm Michael’s pronouncement of the moral failure(s). Don’t leave your brother hanging out to dry.

  2. Martin Luther's Disciple says:

    I will open up – I have no idea if the story is true – but without someone going on the record how is this not an 8th commandment violation of bearing false witness or at least in the category of passing along gossip?
    Michael – I am not accusing you but at least all those who say “I have heard that” and then passed it along with nothing to substantiate it.
    But I do think much of the “history” of CC is folklore so it does fit in.

  3. Michael says:

    Thank you, Kevin,
    I would be shocked if anyone publicly backs me up.
    Still, I stand by what I wrote and why I wrote it.

  4. Xenia says:

    I would be inclined to say “who cares” except for the fact that apparently, according to Michael’s analysis, the keeping of the secret has propagated a culture of secrecy and blackmail which reminds me of the current problems in the Catholic Church.

    It explains a lot about CC culture.

  5. Michael says:

    That is why this had to be written.

  6. Kevin H says:


    You have long been the mouthpiece for some on the inside of CC who see and recognize troubles and difficulties but choose not to speak about them in a public fashion while relying on you to do so. If at any time, this would be a very good time for some of those, if not even others in the know, to speak up and affirm you and your words if they know them to be true.

  7. Em says:

    A moral failure? It seems that it was handled badly and still is, perhaps… but it is one that i pray the discussion here brings clarity on some principles of our Faith that we seem very conflicted about….
    I agree with MLD that gossip is more destructive than one sinful sexual scandal…
    should that sin have been covered? Well, an equally valid question might be, should one follow a man to the degree that a sin repented of by that man shakes or destroys our faith in God? It seems to me that, perhaps, the greater sin or sins were creating an atmosphere where the myth of a man’s purity was more important than God, Himself in the lives of all involved….
    Was Smith sullied more because of his sin or because of how it was handled?
    for me, it’s just a ponder as he was never a player in my walk with our Lord… i give him credit, tho, for bringing some of my family to redemption – a redemption that is proving eternal

    i hope to read this thread today and gain understanding from the comments on this

  8. Kevin H says:

    Maybe it’s time to put to rest (or at least make some exceptions to) the “No Talk Rule”.

  9. Bob Sweat says:

    Using the words of Chuck presented on this tread, I should have never left my church 27 years ago. On the one hand, I certainty would have enjoyed doing what God called me to do, but on the other hand, I would be disobedient.

    Oh well!

  10. Bob Sweat says:


  11. Xenia says:

    On the other hand….

    If a ministry is bringing a lot of people into the Kingdom, should the leader shatter that work by a public confession? Even if it eats him up inside, it could be that he’s keeping the secret secret for the sake of the flock. I really can see a fallen pastor taking this approach with love for the people as his number one motive. Not always, of course.

  12. Nancy says:

    Agreeing with Xenia

  13. Xenia says:

    On the other hand (I have run out of hands)

    A fallen pastor who chooses to keep his secret for the sake of the flock is attributing the work of God to his own self. And that would be a mistake.

  14. Xenia says:

    So I think (counting feet now) the following:

    If a pastor falls, he really should confess and find some other line of work.
    If out of compassion for his flock he chooses to keep the sins secret and stays, that means:

    1. He might be thinking he is indispensable, which is a grave error and means he is taking credit for God’s work;
    2. The cover up will eat him up inside and have a corrupting affect on personality and character;
    3. This corruption will affect his whole ministry.

  15. Kevin H says:


    You did what was right and honoring to God. Your humility has touched many here over the years.

  16. victorious says:

    The Scriptures are clear that God chose Jesus to lead this revival, since He alone has the capacity as both God and Man to lead the revival that on the one hand transcends time and on the other makes itself known within specific times, locations and cultures.

    Jesus chooses to use His bride the church as the co-anointed community of His Kingdom. That anointing is both collective and individual. I use the word anointing in relation to the use of the phrase “God uses” .But, the individual anointing does not exist apart from the collective anointing. The Spirit was poured out on all and the whole body ministered and manifested that God was using “them” before Peter expressed His anointing in His preaching on Jesus of Nazareth.

    Soon afterwards the whole body lived out their anointing in sustained fellowship. Within the context of that sustained anointing of the whole body, the Apostles carried out their specific anointing with the evidences of not only sound doctrine but signs and miracles as well being present.

    Not once did Peter say, “God used me”. At the council of Jerusalem in debate over the role of the Gentiles, Peter testified as a witness to the effects of His ministry. But the focus was not on Him (nor on Paul) being “used by God” but on the leadership of Jesus giving the Spirit to the Gentiles and therefore including them as part of His body.

    My point is this. God has Jesus as His leader and does not have only paradoxical people at His disposal. Jesus chooses a Bride collective to include in His mission. God will anoint and therefore “use me” to minister because He has a bride and a body He has anointed. I may be filled with the Spirit and used in such a way as a catalyst to spur on fruit in the lives of others. It may appear to outsiders and those who received the benefit of my grace gifting being exercised that “I” was the one God chose to use to lead such and such a ministry. My perceived personal anointing may persist and the effects continue to be observed and testified to by others over a significant period of time. However, it is not due to the fact that God chose to “use me”. God chose to and continue to use Jesus and this Jesus continues to call and include a bride collective. Because that Bride is a body and is interdependent upon each other there will be individual expressions of that anointing.

    I think this perspective is needed if we seek to gain wisdom and let go of the chaff in to the wind so we can understand how to join with Jesus on His mission.

  17. Kevin H says:


    I see all your hands and feet and add my own. I can see how a pastor, assuming good intentions, may not want to disrupt a current work being done by the Lord by not making a public confession. But that decision really isn’t up to us. God will continue to work as He wills, regardless of whether or not a public confession is made. Or regardless of whether or not the pastor is removed from their position. Ultimately, the pastor and the other church leaders need to follow what God has told us about the standards required for the position. That is what falls to our responsibility.

  18. Steve says:

    What Smith said to Christianity Today in 2007 shows the completely obvious corruption and non biblical nature in CCs model of church goverance. It should be as plane as day to anyone especially a CC pastor.
    Please renounce what Smith told Christianity Today.
    Whether or not Smith is guilty of moral failure I have no clue and don’t really care other than what Smith has taught and practiced seems to have cascaded and done significant damage to the body of Christ ironically all in the name of saving more souls. Sorry but the senior pastor should never be of the pay grade that he and he alone is responsible for running a successful ministry. Isn’t that the Holy Spirit job that works within all the members of the congregation?

  19. CrucifiED says:

    I was deeply committed to CC from the early 90’s until 2010. I learned of CC through Reis’ radio ministry and didn’t learn of Chuck Smith until after attending our new CC startup for a couple of years.

    I was at numerous men’s and pastor’s conferences and never heard the slightest word from anyone on this matter. What I did hear constantly were several stories a year about fallen pastors, followed by plenty of spiritual warnings to never do the same, lest we disqualify ourselves from ministry.

    Chuck himself would clearly teach that a pastor who fell to this sin could not be a senior pastor any longer. My little church used this as our rule when we had a similar issue, and the CC rules we had been taught along the way were the reason we did… and I lost a lot of friends because of it.

    I am almost angry to know this now about Chuck. Not because he did it, but because of how he spoke to us who hadn’t screwed up yet with scary sermons about strange fire and failing to run the race. It was our diet at every conference rather than teaching us how to exegete scripture properly.

    Even the last pastor’s conference I went to even went so far as to have the pastors telling us all that we should resign from our positions if we had ever watched anything inappropriate on the church computer, and had everyone they scared during the service running up to the stage to repent.

    But all the while, they knew of this about Chuck… and kept it such a secret that I thought I was being taught the Christian faith by men who had never done these things, preaching that I better never do these things either… or I/we are out.

    I’m grateful once again to this blog for telling me the truth. I didn’t received it well in the beginning when I first found PP, but you woke me up to a lot of truth from that point on.

  20. Duane Arnold says:


    May I speak to a clarifying reality check? In the 1970s if you were in or around Full Gospel, Foursquare, or A of G circles, this was a situation that you heard of… often. Sometimes, if the scandal was public, something was done. Much, much more often, it was dealt with quietly and usually without the knowledge of the congregation. If you were in ministry, you would hear about what happened on the understanding that “it would go no further”. It was almost cultural. (An extreme case might be seen in the 1972 documentary on Marjoe Gortner.)

    This is not to excuse Smith, it is, however, an attempt to understand. We have described CCCM and the revival as a “perfect storm”. That was true of Smith as well. He could not see the future or the ramifications of what had taken place and/or the silence that followed. Like all of us, he had feet of clay. Unfortunately, some behaviors and the code of silence became something much more destructive as it spread to newly formed CCs, often headed by those with little training or limited backgrounds to deal with many normative pastoral concerns. Again, a “perfect storm”.

  21. JM says:

    Because of the repercussions of this particular posting, we are praying for you, Michael. Thank you so very much for being willing to do this.

    I have genuinely appreciated all the different perspectives on all of your posts so far. I hope I will have time later to read all the comments soon.

  22. CrucifiED says:

    “Unfortunately, some behaviors and the code of silence became something much more destructive as it spread to newly formed CCs, often headed by those with little training or limited backgrounds to deal with many normative pastoral concerns.”

    Very well put Duane. This is a perfect way to describe many of the frustrations with us smaller churches who were trying to figure out how to do church like Chuck. In the end of it all I look back and realize that there were a lot of things said and taught by the leadership (that I championed and made me proud — you know, all that integrity and accountability talk) that didn’t seem to apply when we heard about these problems with… said leadership.

  23. Steve says:


    If I am not mistaken Smith was also convinced that Christ would surely return in the 80s, then the 90s, then 2000, ect. That added to this perfect storm. Why confess or step down from ministry if you have everyone whipped up into a frenzy to believe with certainty Christ coming back in a few short years. Maybe that was particular of the Evangelical culture of the day but also was quite counter cultural in general.

  24. Surfing Man says:

    Chuck had a mistress for close to 2 years in the mid 70’s. It was one woman and he was seriously contemplating leaving Kay over the relationship. Michael is telling the truth and ultimately it helps us all to understand a flawed man, church and movement that has blessed many of us.
    Michaels insights about Chuck being leaned on by some (not all) family members and other people who knew about the affair is true as well. Chuck was manipulated for decades by some people because they knew. It’s a sad fact.
    I think Calvary Pastors need to ask the CCA council if this is true. It could be a very humbling thing for Calvary Chapel as a movement.
    Pastor Chuck stood up at a Pastors Conference in the last years of his life and told the men that he had never suffered a day of burnout in his ministerial life…he suggested that if a pastor in the room was suffering from burnout that they should find another vocation. It was quite the pronouncement.
    So, to those pastors reading this who are struggling with burnout…know that Chuck was lying that day. I hate to even say that but he was. Chuck went way beyond a burn out for two full years at Costa Mesa. He wasn’t Teflon coated and some of his “legend” shouldn’t be believed even though God used him in wonderful ways.
    Thanks for reading. Bless you all who are part of this community.

  25. Em says:

    i am trying to think back over my life as a Christian and before that… was there ever a man of God whose sins impacted my Faith or caused me to doubt that there was a God to whom we all will answer some day… i am indebted to many teachers, they are the ones who pointed me to God

    the ego of the pastor may be his achilles heel… how many times can one hear how wonderful they are before one begins to believe it?… how many men reach the point where they convince themselves that “their wife is the problem” because she just doesn’t realize how wonderful they are 🙂
    we sin, we confess and move on – yes – but that probably means moving out of the ministry IMHO – doesn’t mean you’re washed up as a Christian or as a teacher, but pastoring a flock is questionable IMHO…again
    The devil made me do it? Well… he may have had a lot to do with it, probably did, but….

  26. JM says:

    Surfing Man–glad to see somebody has the guts to be out with it. So many of us figured out what was going on long ago and were chronically ill in our spirits over the hypocrisy that we saw. It isn’t necessarily the validity of the original “Movement” that seems to be in question. It’s the validity of the veneration of Chuck Smith–who was simply one of many instruments. No-one seemed to be mature enough or even willing to draw the line between God and someone He chose to use. This thinking is responsible for much of what plagues the church today. From the bottom of my being, I hope people will come clean and have the decency to learn from this and make strides to make sure no man is ever put above God’s holiness again. Chuck may have been complicit in the lying and cover up and that’s on him. The fact that it was allowed to permeate and affect the entire Association is on everyone who knew and put what they wanted over what God wanted. What has been delineated here is nothing short of blackmail and it is disgusting in a Christian context. It is also the fruit that began with sexual sin, lying and the cover up. This is why you do not put these pastors back in the pulpit! In this case–the sin of omission was probably as great as the sin of commission and all of it led to scary things.

  27. The Least of These says:

    It is with sadness I read this post. Not because I think Michael is wrong in posting it, but because this understanding had to be clarified in an attempt to grasp the resulting culture of CC with all it’s open good work and all it’s hidden missteps. For years I sat in silence, wondering why this house of God that I loved was rotting from the inside. And why the refusal to acknowledge the slow degrading by those in positions of power? Something at the core of CCCM was amiss. All the while I witnessed first hand persistent corrosive decision making that was pervasive, leaking like potassium hydroxide on a battery, from every level, from all the players.

    And then I realized the massive jigsaw puzzle of Calvary Chapel was missing a key piece. It was missing that one piece that finishes the picture. Michael’s post tells us about that piece. Was I there when the situation happened so long ago. No. Did I see it? No. But too many people towards the end of Chuck’s life, who were present back in the day- people very, very close to him- seemed they could not hold it in any longer. As the church began to fail, they searched out safe people to speak to. I was one of them. I never spoke of it. But I repeatedly heard the same story by different individuals- all people in a position know, each unaware that I already knew. They were grateful to be heard. To them Smith was losing perspective and discernment in public ways. Through the ensuing years, Smith in his later year faced a daily game that became less about the miracle of revival as opposed to suppressing the truth to keep the show going. It drove Smith to hire Brodersen, McClure and Courson, The Pastoral Trifecta, in an effort to surround himself with trusted men all under the guise of determining who might take over some day. It led to Smith telling multiple pastors at the same time that they were in the batters box to take the pulpit, like Heitzig, who dropped everything, took a questionable severance pay of 240k to head to So Cal to be closer to the action, all the while telling Brodersen behind closed doors it was all his for the taking. It created this weird turf battle which no one could quite understand. (And which ultimately the winner was the one who stayed put the longest.) It led to questionable financial decisions at board meetings, and real efforts to obfuscate the paper trail. And as the charade built, business as usual became more and more like a terrible play unfolding with key players being given access and privilege, and detractors being ostracized. All this to hide a terrible thing. A thing which would have stripped him of Papa, and made him more like a mere man.

    The historical problem of corruption is real in CCCM, stemming from those days. The historical misuse of power is real. The financial mismanagement was real. And so as hard as all this is to read, as sad as it is, Michael’s disclosure is the piece that makes the nonsense make sense. It’s why Hocking and the Sabolick and so many others like Coy, were (and are still) allowed to have a pass. It inadvertently became a place where crafty men with zipper problems could get a redo, while women were relegated to non status as the weaker, less in intelligent sex. The idea grew that you can’t speak against the pastor, God’s anointed, or demand he step down from impropriety because that church was given to him by God. We didn’t demand of Smith, so we can’t demand it of each other.

    I don’t want any of this to be true. I despise that we have to have these discussions. My own personal disillusionment is one I may never fully recover from. But the truth is Samson cut hair, and it was inevitable the house would fall down. I can not answer the question as to whether this knowledge being public is gossip. I’m not that smart. Rather, I see this story of CCCM as one on the historical timeline of Christianity that is both tragic and beautiful and hopefully one from which we can learn. At minimum maybe the people here on this blog can be a support for the wounded by understanding the internal complexities derived from decades of mythology built up to hide the truth.

  28. Brideofchrist says:

    My child was very deeply impacted by a similar situation at a large CC in the San Diego area. A man left the fire department to become a pastor at this CC. My family was very close with his family. My daughter was baptised by this pastor ( the photos are still in her photo album). Our two daughters were exactly the same age as his two daughters. This man began an affair with a woman he was counseling in the church offices week nights. My daughter idolized this handsome pastor – he was definitely a second father figure for her, as well as her beloved pastor .This pastor left his wife of 30 years for the woman he was counseling and left CC all at the same time. My daughter was 13 at the time and when I broke the news to her she sobbed in her room for almost two hours. This daughter rarely cried about anything, so I know she was very deeply upset by this betrayal of her trust.. Brian Broderson drove all the way down here from Big Calvary to try and talk this man out of leaving his sweet wife, but her husband refused to even meet with Brian. I will always wonder how this impacted my daughter’s faith Such a tender age to witness such hypocrisy. She was just married recently to an architect and she is now vice president of the LA office of a distinguished international financial company. She graduated from UCLA and has worked in Hong Kong, San Francisco, and New York city. She is a beautiful, successful young woman, but she only attends church when she comes home to visit us. I know she still believes in God, but I’m not sure she trusts pastors anymore after seeing the hypocrisy of this CD pastor and how he hurt his wife and children – our good friends.

  29. Jeff Sheckstein says:

    Bride of Christ

    I pray your daughter will find her way “home.”

    KC as I knew him was one of the shallowest and least transparent people I knew when at that church. While no “model” of Christianity myself, I am glad I will not be him when God calls him into question with what He gave him as I saw it. And tAlk about a person who put up a front and betrayed many. I’m sorry your daughter had to see it go down. Hypocrisy indeed.


  30. Bob says:

    As many here know… chuck denied the affair when asked point blank in the taped phone call by alex g. So, chuck also lied or this is horrible slander! I was told by one of the top 5 cardinals that it was certainly true!

    What I have learned through my short existence on this earth… Trust no man!

  31. Em says:

    When i quit college to go to work, my Texas uncle, a corporate exec. , gave me some very sound advice:
    “Em, the first thing to always keep in mind out there, people are no d*mned good.”
    for me that meant all of us are likely to let someone down someday… enjoy the human race as much as possible, tho. – Jesus did…

  32. Erunner says:

    I knew this was coming but it sure is a punch in the gut. I was in the CC system for thirty plus years but never one who was in the know about anything.

    The above comments and those yet to come will add much to this revelation.

    I’ve got a few observations of my own.

    1. Scores won’t believe this because of the source. I wouldn’t be surprised if people are being told not to visit this blog or to believe what they might read. After all this blog has had an agenda since it’s inception.

    2. How in the world do you ever bring this up to anyone in the system? Or is it best to be quiet?

    3. It seems to me that those whose words would have some clout are either thinking this was unwise or they don’t know if it’s worth it to affirm the article.

    4. How will this impact Smith family members who don’t or didn’t know? Grandchildren, etc.?

    5. I can see this really crushing many who see Pastor Chuck as an icon who walked the walk and was the father of the whole Jesus movement in Southern California.

    6. Sadly I think there are and will be those who will take great delight in this article.

    7. As always there’s bound to be a lot of chatter behind the scenes as I’m sure Michael is being innundated with e-mail’s, etc.

    8. There are many discernment folks who routinely report on the “falls” of others in the body. Will they start writing rebuttals to this article as quickly as possible?

    9. I’ll still hold Pastor Chuck in high regard. He had feet of clay and if we look at Scripture this is nothing new.

  33. Michael says:

    Thank you all, as is often the case, the comments are better than the article.
    I’ve had to be away from the computer for most of the day, so please forgive my absence.

    I’ll do a follow up on this tomorrow to answer some of the questions raised…but suffice to say that no one who has been in the movement for any length of time is going to dispute what I wrote.
    It’s indisputable.
    They may dispute whether I should have written it, but not what I have written.

    Suffice also to say that no one from the movement will affirm what I have written…they have been putting me out front to take the beating for years..

  34. CM says:

    A few observations…

    In addition to the blackmail angle that was mentioned in earlier posts, and the corrosive atmosphere Chuck’s failing caused, we must also mention that the devil I am sure used this to sully the Church, Christians, and the like.

    Also this corrosive atmosphere is a perfect environment for sociopaths to work their way up the ladders of power and influence.

  35. CM says:

    One more thing…

    Think of the effects of the cognitive dissonance as a result of Chuck’s affair, the failings of his 1st generation leaders from keeping the mythology and secret and the clear teaching of pastoral qualifications….

  36. Erunner says:

    “Suffice also to say that no one from the movement will affirm what I have written…they have been putting me out front to take the beating for years..”

    That’s sad.

  37. Jeff Sheckstein says:

    There are many here who seemed somewhat upset or alarmed as to why Michael is carrying the flag alone.

    If I might lay out a possible explanation for why “no one from the movement,”et al has commented on or affirmed or addressed the matter. re: Chuck faithfulness or lack thereof. Preliminary, I know some here may find this possible explanation unacceptable given the “issue at hand.” I get it.

    However, I believe that many who “know” are not addressing this matter out of their respect for Chuck’s wife, Kay, who is still alive although apparently suffering to some degree from the effects of dementia. I can say this respect is for her, her, her position in the matter, as well as the manner in which she has ministered and carried herself throughout Chuck’s ministry. I believe there is nothing to be gained here from her perspective in revisiting this issue and for those lucid moments, I’m sure this only be painful and unproductive to her condition were it to reach her.

    Again, I am only trying to give a possible explanation, and knowing Kay from my interactions with her and through her women’s ministry leadership, I can easily see this explanation as having credence and a significant bearing on on the decision to address this issue.

    Thx for hearing me out

  38. Michael says:


    That is a real possibility for some.

  39. Linnea says:

    When I left the local CC affiliate, it was in response to how the ministry I was involved in had been handled, and as an extension, how I had been handled. In my estimation, and in retrospect after leaving, Ichabod had been written on the door of that church. Did the money leave? No. Did the crowds leave? No. Did God’s Spirit wane in that assembly?…in my estimation, yes. Hiding sin, without repentance, always has severe consequences, both for the individual and the assembly.

  40. JM says:

    Marriage is such a private matter that, if Kay chose to stay with Chuck after the trauma of his behavior, her wishes and her privacy should be respected. She would have been the most disrespected and deeply wounded of all affected parties. I’ve seen the ravages of that kind of despicable behavior before and he had better have treated her properly after she stayed. This abused woman could have blown it all up for Papa Chuck. He deserved it–but she did not do it.

    I wonder who talked her out of it and what they got out of it?

    I will assume Chuck and Kay were both highly influenced by the Pennecostalism from which Chuck hailed. Maybe there was fear because of the mis-applied, “Do Not Touch God’s Anointed”. If so, this woman may have suffered far more than any of the rest of us under the weight of this false teaching.

    Then there’s the “blame the woman” syndrome. You know they are all whores trying to get men to fall. Surely there’s no blame for a straying pastor in light of that codified CC”truth”.

    Sadly, on some occasions, women stay for other reasons that have to do with their own standing. I don’t need to know. I do wish someone would have talked her into some kind of ultimatum to Chuck to leave the pulpit way back when. Whatever rationalization occurred, the bad fruit of covered up sin continues to speak for itself. Calvary Chapel turned from being God’s enterprise to a mere man’s at some point. It must have been running on freneticism and fumes for quite some time.

  41. CM says:

    As a follow-up to JM’s comments….

    Remember both Chuck and Kay Smith came from the Foursquare church. The failures, scandals, and the like of its founder Aimee Semple Mcpherson no doubt loomed large in their minds too.

  42. Steve says:


    Can you name who the top 5 Cardinals are so we all know who you are referencing?

  43. Bob says:

    OK Steve, he is mentioned in the book, “A Venture in Faith”… She was working at cccm and was paid quite well to keep quiet. I’ve said enough!

  44. AA says:

    Though I have long since moved on from CC there have been things that I didn’t understand that nagged in the back of my mind. This series has helped put some of those pieces in place, through understanding comes healing for me. My prayer Is for many others too. Thank you for putting this together Michae & the thoughts of so many in the PxP community.

  45. JM says:

    CM – I concur. The FourSquare background must have had its effect.

    AA – I would have to confess that it has been my hope and prayer that information presented here would be a sort of cathartic to many who suffered under this entity. I still believe the truth (even painful ones) can set people free. May that be one of the good fruits of this endeavor.

  46. JM says:

    I have debated asking another question and was hoping this subject would come up on its own. Infact, if I am “jumping the gun”, and you intend to cover this– then no worries. I’ll wait.

    I read on the CCAbuse blog, before its demise, that it was mainly Chuck Fromm (Smith’s nephew) who talked Chuck out of stepping down from the pulpit. I have also read in other places that Fromm “inherited” Maranatha Music sometime after that.

    Putting the information from the “Abuse” blog together with what you shared in your above post, it would imply that Fromm, was among other family members who used what they knew about Chuck’s adultery (they blackmailed) to gain financial footholds inside of the burgeoning CC businesses. If so, who were the others that “inherited” these other “businesses”? CC surely became a house of nepotism and it appears there was a reason why.

    If you (or anyone else, for that matter) are able to comment on that, it would be greatly appreciated.

  47. Michael says:


    I’ve heard the story about Fromm being the one who talked Smith out of disaster.
    I don’t have any evidence at all that he used that to get Maranatha Music and wouldn’t imply that.

  48. JD says:

    As they say, it goes with the territory.

  49. JM says:

    Thank you, Michael.

  50. Bob says:

    How many cc pastors were in “the Know” and followed likewise papa c’s example to their own dismay and downfall? This is the true root of Ichabod, when Eli the High Priest allowed sin in the House of God!

  51. Bob says:

    Why was David H. allowed to pastor at cccm so quickly after his fall?

  52. Bob says:

    Did Bob Coy know and follow suit?

  53. Michael says:


    The system allowed people to get away with sin, no doubt about it.
    What we have to say looking at the scandals in other denominations is that we haven’t found a system to prevent it yet.

    Coy’s fall surprised people outside CC Ft. Lauderdale. CCFL was not surprised…his antics were known…

  54. Jim says:

    I remember hearing about this from my CC pastor in the early 90’s… it was known and whispered but never explained. I’m probably in the minority, but I don’t believe a failing like this should necessarily be the end of a man’s ability to minister… if there is good and thorough repentance.
    I always assumed that was the case. The secrecy thing… call it the no-talk rule… it’s a thing for sure. It is definitely part of the CC culture. If you want to talk about lies, bribery, etc. you are labeled as divisive and critical… Michael, I hope no one on either side of the CC split is egging you on with these posts. I believe what you say, that some like you to take the brunt of exposing stuff, and you could be furthering their agenda.

  55. JM says:

    Bob–Good Questions!

    The link below is Jacob Prasch’s response to the 2007 Christianity Today article. In regards to CC’s immorality problem, Prasch’s compromised integrity slip is showing:

  56. Michael says:

    The Hocking business was a whole different ballgame.
    Some inside CCCM went to great lengths to stop him coming to Calvary, to no avail…Smith thought he was a too good of a teacher to be sidelined.

    People forget that Hocking was a very popular radio preacher at the time…

  57. Bob says:

    Thanks JM, Prasch is neurotic, self-proclaimed OMD sleuth at best who tried to jump on the cc bandwagon late in the game… he fell off!

  58. Michael says:


    Nobody has ever successfully pressured me to say anything on this blog.
    I don’t tell my writing plans to anybody outside my private circle…I’ve lived with this for too many years and it is the key to understanding much about the movement.
    It was time.

  59. Bob says:

    ODM 😉

  60. Bob says:

    Love him or hate him, agree with him or not… Michael is like the home plate umpire in game 7 of the cc world series!

  61. Martin Luther's Disciple says:

    If what is being said is true – and it very well be – how can we say that anything at CCCM was a work of God after the early 70s when the “affair” occurred? Not so much that God can’t work through sinners, but at that point and especially when someone else knew, Satan had Smith and the whole CCCM organization by the short hairs and from that point on, it became the work of the devil. (Not all CC – just CCCM).

    Let’s call it what it is / was.

  62. Michael says:

    Jacob Prasch can kiss my ass.
    I know how much time Moll put into that article and I know how much heat he took afterward…someday I hope he writes a book about that.
    I was involved with that piece from the beginning…

  63. Michael says:


    It would be far beyond my purview to make that kind of a statement.
    When we see similar things in other denominations you would have to conclude that much of the church was under the power of the enemy.
    I’m not going there…

  64. Xenia says:

    I think all kinds of people have all kinds of secrets. I think we would be shocked if we knew all there was to know. God, in His wisdom and for the sake of His people has chosen to allow some secrets to remain secret and for some secrets to be made known.

  65. Martin Luther's Disciple says:

    Michael, “I’m not going there.”

    I did!

  66. Xenia says:

    I think whatever CS did or did not do impacted CC culture, which I (in retrospect) find to be secretive, authoritarian, and oppressive.

    But he main problem with CC, from my point of view, is the dispensationalist theology which existed before CS came into prominence. I left them because of the theology.

    It is tempting to suggest that CC is the way it is (and this applies to the other authoritarian churches we’ve discussed over the years) because of faulty theology. One might suggest that since CC is adamantly against anything that smacks of “salvation by works” or “working one’s way to heaven” this allows them to be soft on sin, or at least, certain sins. (Remember, you can always find a character from the OT who practiced these sins and still found favor with God.)

    Yet what of the Catholics, who actually do believe their salvation depends on their works? This hasn’t prevented their clergy from committing the most horrendous sins imaginable, and not just a few cases, either but hundreds upon hundreds.

    It’s not the theology that is causing this problem.

  67. JM says:

    Michael, you have hit upon something that should be said loudly:
    “We haven’t found a system to prevent it [sin] yet.”

    There is an old, exemplary conversation that goes something like, “Why do people commit evil?” The exampled answer was, “Because they can.” Church government (much like secular) is only as good as the people who populate it. That’s why, personally, I will always hold those who knew about the incredible level of corruption within CC and did nothing, just as responsible as Chuck Smith for all atrocities committed.

    Things will never change until we all take responsibility for our own faith, nurture a personal relationship with God and read the Bible for ourselves. The Holy Spirit has always been there and we all have access. I have often described the Bible to others as (only in part) a sort of “a Believer’s Bill of Rights.” We must quit abdicating our faith to others who may or may not be bona fide leaders. How do we know the vetting process? We need to know what we believe. Then, when something contrary to what God tells us comes along, we will recognize it and get away from it sooner rather than later without any sort of false guilt or doubt. We will have owned our own thoughts and allowed the engrafting of the Word. Over time, this will bypass a lot of heartache. (Notice I do not say, “all” heartache. I don’t believe we can be completely protected from everything–but we can grow and do better.) We all stand as equal before God’s throne. No one person or “Association” should ever have had that kind of power over us nor should we ever let them have it again. Where the Spirit of the Lord is there is liberty. If there are any mental tentacles related to a tenure at CC that still hold anyone and continue to make them afraid on any level, it is my hope that the truths told in this series of posts will cause all of them to be released.

    There is a passage in Isaiah in which people viewing Satan while he is down in a pit are marveling at his true appearance (the puny figure they were finally able to see). For those that suffered deeply under the thumb of the machine CC became, it may help to recognize that much of what oppressed you was based upon a lie. There was little to no weight to it. You were robbed. You were worthy and that truth was hidden from you so as to hold up a mythical, sick agenda. You were always free, but they were not going to tell you. Power and who had it was all.

    I know that Calvary Chapel cannot technically be called a “cult”. I get that. However, when you read about the extreme difficulties experienced by people who came out of a cult or any repressive belief-system, there are striking similarities. I know this because part of my family were in a cult. There is a darkness here that I have seen before.

  68. The Least of These says:

    I have often said that what happened CCCM in the early 1970’s as a tsunami at high tide and there was an inherent propulsion that kept it rolling strong even after Smith’s missteps. It is a testament to the power of God in the lives of so many people, pastors and laity, who truly wanted good things, better lives, and relationship with God. I can not say CCCM ceased to be a work of God, that simply isn’t the truth. I can say that what was set in motion led to CCCM’s eventual denouement. Along the long journey to the end humanity stepped in, egos and license took a hold, it got political… not unlike so many church institutions do… look no further than recent exposures of the Catholic church in Pennsylvania… and if you want to call that the Devil that anyone’s prerogative. But this wording I steer clear from because it simply does not contextualize it as what it really was which was an interplay between mankind and God, evil impulses and poor decisions, and our weakness as human beings and God’s mercy for His people.

    And to say something to the BrideofChrist: Sheckstein is correct on his assessment of the “pastor” in question. I will only add that he was good at what he did, and that he never should have been hired in the first place. He played right into the hand of the good old boy club, his sociopathy hidden to them because he was so good at playing a role. My prayers are also that your daughter finds a vibrant and deeply resonant relationship with our Savior.

  69. ( |o )====::: says:

    “…from that point on, it became the work of the devil. (Not all CC – just CCCM).”

    The Bible & history refutes this idea.

    The “work of God” is ongoing, all the time, everywhere, and even if personalities make bad choices God keeps things going by using all the unseen (but known and energized by Him) “little people” who unceasingly bring God’s love, message and touch to those around them and a hurting world.

  70. Martin Luther's Disciple says:

    G, then that could be said of anything. No matter how evil, it’s God’s work.
    You obviously didn’t read close enough to what I said. I was pointing out that if what had been laid out, the cheating, the lying, the cover up, the blackmail, the payoffs, the compromises towards the sins of others were what fueled CCCM, the yes, Satan had all by the short hairs. If what was being claimed was true that is not God working in that situation.
    Satan got what he wanted – look at all the hurt and disgruntled ex CC folks – many now Christ deniers. Look at the division even after Chuck’s death.
    Once the blackmail began it became Satan’s world.

    If what we have been reading here today is true.

  71. bob1 says:

    With this “logic,” all denominations are pawns of Satan. You can find sinful
    acts by founders or practitioners of many if not all Xn groups.

  72. ( |o )====::: says:

    I read every word of your post and I missed absolutely nothing.
    What I said :: cannot :: be said about anything, no matter how evil.
    You are a poor student of history, both biblical and secular.
    The “work of God” that is being discussed, CCCM, has been wonderful, flawed, and continues to be achieving what he wants in spite of the failings of many of the personality/leaders. You completely miss the point that God uses His People, indivisuals, little unknown people who live the teachings and values of Jesus, doing their alms in secret, not to be seen of man/woman, not to gain rewars. The people in the pews, the ministry team volunteers, the staff who are kind, selfless, sacrificial, prayerful, noble in their humility… THEY are the vessels of God, serving HIM by loving and serving each other and their friends and neighbors who are poor, widowed, fatherless or motherless.

    Division is healthy, especially when too much power is centralized in the control of greedy and ambitious individuals.

    Division is how your admired icon, Martin Luther, created something fresh from something corrupt and flawed.

    Thousands of local churches have been created and thousands more because men and women of good conscience experience something which they cannot and should not abide, and they tell others who decide to vote with their feet, gather in homes, seek God, and love others without some branded dove-logo or oath of fealty to a flawed and corrupt Moses-Model”.

    THAT’S how God continues his work.

    “Believe in something, even if it means sacrificing everything.”

    …ain’t new, it’s just more real than ever before

  73. Em says:

    we have the letters to the seven churches for a reason… a reason beyond documenting those 7 IMV
    do we sort thru the shortcomings (sins) of church bodies because we need to explain them or do we just simply say, “That is wrong, don’t do what “they” did” and then get our focus back on our salvation…
    is it wrong to point out that CS betrayed his wife and God? no
    is it wrong to list what turned into chain sinning in other, maybe worse, areas as a result? no
    and it probably isn’t wrong in this instance to raise a red flag: “don’t elevate your teachers or pastors to a level that causes their lives and personalities to impact yours more than God, Himself, does. It is probably best to not elevate them at all… i don’t equate respect with elevate, BTW 🙂
    in the end, shouldn’t we learn, shouldn’t we examine our reactions and instruct ourselves? shouldn’t we grow? shouldn’t we admit that we began as children, as newborn babes and grow and thank God for every inch of understanding that, by His grace we’ve received?
    when i was a child, humanly speaking, i had no use for my grandfather’s faith – he was part of the holiness movement and he demanded pure living of every Christian… it was years into the Faith that i realized that his standard was God’s, but he lived by grace, he was full of humor and kindness – the life he lived was one that i could only wish that i’d lived… and i suspect that the 20th century big shots in the faith – so called will be shining his shoes in Eternity
    yes, G, i agree the “work of God” goes on… it goes on in spite of our “big shot” Christians… but, it appears, sometimes God uses one them for a time … i don’t see how we can deny that in light of the evidence

  74. Brideofchrist says:

    I want to thank both Least of These and Jeff S. for their comments. I was saved at a CD and my husband and I were married by Pastor Bill Goodrich and we attended various CCs in The San Diego area for over 30 years. Something changed at CC over the years and I began to feel like a frog in a slowly boiling pot – each year they seemed to become more rigid, more political, and more legalistic. This combined with the many scandals we witnessed disturbed us. Some very bad counseling experiences we experienced finally pushed us over the edge. I want to thank Michael because I have been in much turmoil over this – We gave over 30 years of our time and money to CC, and towards the end I felt terrible about having done so. Now I think that I was there early enough to have received many blessings from Calvary during the early years. The Moses model of leadership gives pastors too much power and status and “absolute power corrupts” as history has shown us. I am grateful to both Michael and the many others who have posted comments that have helped me make sense of my experiences at CC. I will forever feel very conflicted about their influence in my life . I have good friends who still attend CC, so I do wonder if they can ever return to their ‘first love” and early good works. I never speak to my CC friends about the reasons we left – I hope the Holy Spirit guides them well. Blessings to all, and I am praying for you, Michael.

  75. Martin Luther's Disciple says:

    G, I am not speaking of Chuck’s affair at all – I am speaking of 50 yrs of operation under coverup, blackmail and payoff. All of this colored all decisions made.

    Look, even David Hocking and Jimmy Swaggart were more honorable. They owned up to their sin, both put themselves under church discipline – even though they each backed out – but their sin was above board and they were not in fear of blackmail and continuing to bring shame to God. This does not even account for those Chuck caused to sin by allowing them to blackmail him or those who in good faith tried to cover for him.
    IF what we read hear is true – we have nothing but a 50 yr sham operation. The fact that some were saved does not excuse the many who left the faith.

    But you are welcome to your opinion – I choose to believe satan was in control becuase folk chose satan over God.

  76. ( |o )====::: says:

    My experience following Jesus has been just that, following JESUS.
    He led me to explore, experience & serve the community of St. John The Baptist Roman Catholic Church,
    He led me to explore, experience & serve the community of The Jesus people Movement,
    He led me to explore, experience & serve the community of CCCM,
    He led me to explore, experience & serve the community of SVCC,
    He led me to explore, experience & serve the community of Capo Beach Calvary Chapel,
    He led me to explore, experience & serve the community of TheEffect,
    He led me to explore, experience & serve the community of TheGrovesChurch,
    He led me to explore, experience & serve the community of Reflexion…

    I am enriched by the lifetime of love from the families and friends of each community Jesus has led me to.

    He will continue to lead me to new individuals who are passionate about God & other people, and I remain inspired by His sense of humor as he chooses to love and heal the world through broken people like us.

  77. Martin Luther's Disciple says:

    G, you 12:35 statement is wonderful…but has nothing to do with a church built on by a bunch of confidence men. (I am assuming men – perhaps women also.)

  78. bob1 says:

    It’s always a great idea to not throw stones when you live in a glass house.

    The founder of the LCMS, Martin Stephan, was an accused adulterer. It also
    appears that it was at least 1 reason he fled his homeland for the USA.
    He was basically booted out of his country partly because of accusations
    of infidelity.

    “Reverend Stephan never admitted to doing anything wrong, yet the constant attacks on him during the latter years of his life, coupled with multiple women on separate occasions accusing him of adultery were enough to convince the colonists and most people.”

    I think if anything this proves what Michael’s been saying — that God seems to
    utilize flawed and sinful men — Chuck Smith, Martin Stephan, etc.

  79. ( |o )====::: says:

    Thanks, it’s simply the truth of my life experience.

    Here’s the thing, EVERY CHURCH that has a building, board, donor income, mission/vision statement is built by HUMANS who seek to inspire others to like-minded affiliation, involvement and community. Calvary Chapel Costa Mesa was/is hardly a place built by “con-men/women”, that is completely disingenuous. I know you to have a tendency to try to be a provocateur, and it continues to be unhelpful after our many, many years of interaction here on Phoenix Preacher. I really don’t know if you understand that you are behaving as a troll in this case, and it’s not helpful, and to dismiss ALL the good Jesus Christ has done through the sincerely committed leaders and members of a local church called “Calvary Chapel Costa Mesa” is a grave error.

    It’s about embarrassed, flawed humanity, making mistakes, and ultimately making peace and moving forward and often knowing when it’s time to step down and move on.

    One time Romaine dressed me down, savagely, for some youthful question I dared ask.
    The guy put me off so badly I immediately stopped going to his bible studies and actively avoided him for a year. Then, guess what? One Friday afternoon he comes into the very Kelly-Moore paint store in Santa Ana that I worked at behind the counter, my job being eye-matching & tinting paint and serving the customers.

    Deep breath.

    I was scared sh*tless, and decided to be a total pro the whole time I waited on him, just as I had been trained to do by my company, using the “pretend he’s a total stranger” approach. When I had filled his order Romaine stopped me after I carried his 4 gallon box of paint to his car and he looked me right in the eye and apologized for being unkind to me “that time”. I just smiled, shook his hand and told him all was well between us, and to call me if he had any issues with the paint. Whenever I saw him on the CCCM campus we’d just flash a mutual quick nod and smile, sharing reconciliation.

    I continue to pray for the church leaders who have bought into the formula for disaster called “The Moses Model”. Moses himself failed, so much so that God, in His mercy, denied him entry into The Promised Land. All leader’s roles end, and all leaders are reduced back to the humanity they have been all along.

  80. Headless Unicorn Guy says:

    “A movement had been spawned through his efforts and the efforts of another who was neither spoken of or beatified. The “other one” was both gay and reckless, full of both the Spirit and unholy passions. Such stories were not to be repeated, such men were not to be remembered. ”

    I thought that referred to Lonnie Frisbee being doubleplusunpersoned.
    Was Chuck Smith’s “failure” his association with LF, and this was his deep dark secret that must not be mentioned? Or was it something else in his past?

    Christian Monist once wrote of a song from a local band that went “I’m F’ed Up, You’re F’ed Up, He’s F’ed Up, She’s F’ed Up, We’re All F’ed Up!” And pretending you’re not F’ed Up starts the deceit going; what Christian Monist called “Living up around the 100th floor” (where reality is the ground floor). The Leader must always be strong and successful, and cannot show any flaw or weakness. And one day it all blows sky-high.

  81. Martin Luther's Disciple says:

    bob1 – you must have missed something in the Martin Stephan story. The fledgling church booted his but out – put him and his possessions in a canoe and sent him across the river. No one covered up his sin, no one defended him. Better yet, no one blackmailed him to keep quiet or took ‘loot’ and or future favors from him for silence.
    To keep going, future young pastors were not taught that sin was OK for the leadership and punishable for the pewsters.
    There was great consequence for that church which took the holy action as at the time, they thought they had no church as they had no bishop / pastor.

    Now remember, I have been prefacing all my comments on “if what we have been reading here is true…” See back in the mid 19th century, what was to later become the LCMS wasn’t built on lies, blackmail etc – to laughingly “protect the congregation & family.”
    If what we are reading is true…

  82. CM says:

    Speaking of ODMs…

    Prasch, a certain wife of an ODM, and many others seemed to gloss over Chuck’s infidelities and scandals when he was on “their” team. But when folks in the CC machine they don’t like come to prominence (for whatever reasons and means), they suddenly discover there is sin in the camp and breathlessly point it out.

    All I can say to these ODMs is, “Gee thanks for hopping on the bandwagon…”

  83. JM says:

    I have had my troubles with the ODMs in trying to get them to deal with the immorality in the CC camp. Some still venerate the Chuck so highly that I think they would lose everything (including their marbles) if they condescended to the truth.

  84. bob1 says:

    I didn’t miss anything. But you may have missed the fact that while Stephan was accused by more than one woman of adultery, “he was exiled from the colony in May of 1839 as a result of allegations that he misused funds in the treasury”…(and this, from a Lutheran museum source!)

    So again…if CC is the spawn of Satan, then so is the LCMS.

  85. Martin Luther's Disciple says:

    bob1 – you don’t think this statement makes ALL the difference in the world???? “he was exiled from the colony…”

    I have not read that line in any CCCM commentary.

  86. Judy says:

    I’m not sure it’s a bad thing to bring this to light. God brought David’s sin to light and we all get to read about it. David repented, God didn’t take away his kingship, but David paid for his sins down the road because consequences are a real kick in the teeth. And they come.

    The idea that pastors who fall can repent and get back to ministry quickly kind of irks me a little. When someone has a fall, generally there are problems, things in their life they have not dealt with. Sometimes they don’t even see the root cause of their sin. People have relational patterns, emotional patterns, things that lead to sin and it can take time to come to terms with that. Sometimes you have to let God dig deep. That takes time because we can only handle so much light at one time.

    I don’t know the answer to anything except I do know that God does what He wants and power belongs to him, not Chuck Smith and not to CC. It belongs to God, not the mega churches, not the so call prophets, and no one else. I often think that God is just as happy to use some little humble guy as he is to use some big celebrity who has his own agent. Well, how much of that is really of God anyway? Sometimes God needs a leader, I get that.

    I gave up on thinking anyone is “good”. None of us are good. We are all good in Christ, in who He is in us. But we are not good.

  87. CM says:


    That would be the cognitive dissonance kicking in and they have to contort themselves into justifying it or redirecting, in order to cope with the dissonance.

  88. CM says:

    Speaking of Prasch, is he still the angry old man that was kicked to the curb by most everyone in CC when he went after their stars? Is he at the “yelling at kids on his lawn” stage yet?

  89. Steve says:

    I am kind of with MLD here. I had no idea how bad the cover-up was, the blackmale and the high paid mistress in cccm to keep quiet for years. If this true, the church was built on a sham and lies. My own anecdotal experience at ccphilly which tried to be an exact replica of cccm in the east was very spiritually damaging to me. So maybe just maybe MLD is right if this story is as true as reported here.

  90. Anonymouse says:

    When I think of how high the porn viewing rates among pastors are…
    How how the average age of porn exposures is now 7.5 years old…
    How many young men and women deal with it…
    And how leaders won’t preach against this when they deal with this or similar issues in their lives,
    I think it is absolutely necessary to bring these things to light.

  91. Jim Vander Spek says:

    The proliferation of paid “pastors” is the problem. We would be much better off if we modeled our fellowships on a structure somewhat like the LDS—no paid ministers, and an expectation that all men go on a mission and be equipped to teach.

    All this dirt on Chuck Smith is new to me, but I suspect that this evil serves God’s purpose in causing the “Moses Model” to die in flames.

  92. Babylon's Dread says:

    How likely is this story to have any traction? It seems there is no corroboration by a witness who has first hand knowledge. Two witnesses is of course better. Where does this go from here?

    It actually is an important piece of the story if validated. I am the son of a father who damaged his family with his failure to be faithful. These things have outcomes in sons and daughters. The Bible is not ashamed to tell the whole story on saints but I do note that post-Pentecost moral failures are mostly unavailable to us in scripture. Yet they are abundant in the church.

    The information age is drowning us in discouraging reports.

    I hope this posting does nothing to torpedo the ongoing story because it is really important and there are a number of chapters to come forth.

  93. Babylon's Dread says:

    I have a vested interest in Jim Vander Spek being amiss about “paid pastors” being “the problem.” Nevertheless, it is surprising how consistently money sex and power is the presenting problem. We have much to learn and the poverty chastity and servant vows of the big church don’t seem to solve the matter either.

  94. Michael says:


    There are lots of corroborating witnesses…they’ll just be damned if they are going to affirm me.
    Doing so would be social suicide for a CC guy.
    Where does this go from here…nowhere, except to put down a foundation for many upcoming articles.

    No one is going to torpedo the ongoing story…I’m tired of packing it around.

  95. Kevin H says:

    So it looks like my exhortation in the first comment in this thread made no difference. I guess it’s just the same old same old.

  96. A Friend says:

    In 1994 a movie was released called “Discloser.” It starred Michael Douglas and Demi Moore. Michael was being set up corporately in part for a sexual harassment lawsuit. Unbeknown to Michael the sexual harassment lawsuit was just a smoke screen to a much bigger set up against Michael. Michael’s energies were focused on the sexual harassment lawsuit but he kept receiving anonymous, untraceable emails from “A FRIEND,” simply stating: “SOLVE THE PROBLEM.” After Michael won the lawsuit he was confused why he still received an email message “SOLVE THE PROBLEM.” Thus Michael begin to realize the lawsuit was merely a smoke screen and begin to unravel the puzzle. I would submit:

  97. McGarrett says:

    A Friend,

    Please explain what your point is?

  98. Stephen says:

    Michael, thank you for writing this article.

    And than you for everyone who,has commented.

    To be honest, by thoughts are…various…on the topic.

  99. Stephen says:

    Oops…”my thoughts,”not “by thoughts.”

    As someone still involved in a CC and have been troubled by many issues spoken about on this site (many issues I noticed before coming here to PP, although I’ve learned a lot since being here)…I’m at a loss for words at the moment.

  100. Babylon's Dread says:

    A Friend

    The movie was Disclosure and I think you are suggesting that the accused is not the truly guilty party. I very much trust MN on this one.

  101. CM says:

    I would submit that Chuck’s infidelities were known among the inner circle and the early generation leaders that came up in the beginnings of the movement. The rank and file were kept in the dark and still are.

    Also, I suspect there a need to keep the fatherly Papa Chuck mystique, especially since many of the Jesus people movement really did not have any good fatherly figures in their lives (even by those in the know). This ties into Michael’s earlier post in this series in some way.

  102. Bryan Frei says:

    I found out that my late Grandfather was a bigamist, posthumously. The revelation helped tear down the “Superman-fantasy” I had pictured of him; my emulating of him immediately plummeted. Not that there weren’t still certain aspects of his work life and character worth emulating, but marriage didn’t happen to be one of them—-any longer.

  103. Jim says:

    If God had not freed me of the idolatry I was practicing (via the root canal of life in church leadership), this story would shock and disappoint me. Through my currently jaded view of church leaders, I can only raise one eyebrow.

    For what it’s worth, God became much larger in my sight after He removed the pedestals.

  104. Jim says:

    I’ll summarize my comment above-Michael is doing God’s work.

  105. Linnea says:

    Jim Vander Spek at 2:17…I’ve come to the same conclusion about church government and find the LDS model interesting. It is a sacrifice for the current bishop of the church, because he puts his career goals, and potentially family time, on hold during his role. However, because serving is a part of that church’s culture, he has help from many elders and ministry leaders. What deserves more exploration is the process of how a bishop in the LDS faith is chosen.

  106. Michael says:

    “And he gave the apostles, the prophets, the evangelists, the shepherds and teachers,”
    (Ephesians 4:11 ESV)

    “And God has appointed in the church first apostles, second prophets, third teachers, then miracles, then gifts of healing, helping, administrating, and various kinds of tongues.Are all apostles? Are all prophets? Are all teachers? Do all work miracles?”
    (1 Corinthians 12:28–29 ESV)

    “Let the elders who rule well be considered worthy of double honor, especially those who labor in preaching and teaching.”
    (1 Timothy 5:17 ESV)

    “Not many of you should become teachers, my brothers, for you know that we who teach will be judged with greater strictness.”
    (James 3:1 ESV)

    The pastoral position is an office appointed by God.
    The NT expectation is that the pastor will be supported by the church.

    The amount of time and money needed to be properly educated, along with the time needed to use that education in your calling for the sake of the church is immense.

  107. JM says:

    As my dear mother used to say, “Finding __?__ is about as easy as finding hen’s teeth.” I would fill in that blank with, not just CC pastors, but pastors of all stripes. That being said–“you are not to muzzle the ox while he’s threshing.” The pastor should be supported by those he blesses with his teaching. One should also never put aside the caveat contained in that passage: “elders who rule well”. The inverse of all of that would be those that do not rule well should not be supported. That’s where the congregation should be engaged with everything that is going on. No blind trust. It’s not good for the pastor or the congregation. A good pastor will welcome respectful input. (Notice I said, “respectful”)

    This is good Michael. It is healthy to be reminded of the Scripture behind how this is really supposed to work. I find great benefit from your refresher. Thank you.

  108. CM says:

    I began going to Calvary Costa Mesa, when I was 17. I married a Calvary pastor when I was 25. We started our church in our home in 1982. It grew rapidly. It all went to his head. He was friends with “the biggies” and they were on our board. He was a heidious husband. By 2000 he filed for divorce. I went to Chuck for help and he was very good and sweet to me.
    But all through the year when the divorce proceedings were going forward, I was heartbroken that he hadn’t taken him out of the pulpit for us to get help. I begged him to do something about him but he wouldn’t. Over night I lost everything, I was thrown out of my home, lost all my Calvary Chapel pastors wife’s friends. He had all his staff on “his side”. Two days after our divorce, he married a woman who was 3 years older than our oldest daughter. Even then he wasn’t removed from being the pastor. Finally most of the staff quit and some people in the church signed a petition to have him removed. It was only then that he was removed.
    He is now since divorced from this other person, but none of it matters because he is and has been employed as a pastor in one of Calvary’s mega church’s. In the most deepest saddest and devestating ways my family has suffered, yet he just keeps preaching into the sunset.
    I know one day that God will heal and reveal, but I have never been able to figure out how he has been permitted to go on on as usual.
    Do you think this was part of the “cover up” ? I’m scared to hit the done button because I’ve never done anything like this before.

  109. Michael says:


    All that’s a result of the culture for sure…especially when it comes to someone as notorious as your ex…

  110. Linnea says:

    Michael–I don’t doubt that the time, money, and commitment to rightly handle the scriptures, as well as to counsel parishioners is huge. I admire those that are willing to make that commitment. Sadly, some don’t.

    I think the biggest deterrent against sound teaching and productive relationships with the congregation is the cultural tendency to believe what is publicized about a person or an entity. I see it everywhere-at church, in politics, at work. People read or see something, believe it, and give it no more thought. They fail to look for evidence of what virtue was advertised. They give grace to the celebrity and stone the accuser. Consequently, the celebrity welcomes, and over time, expects that grace, while shielding him or herself from potential detractors. Lord help us…

  111. Michael says:


    That is why I encourage people to be involved in all aspects of the church and demand transparency…there should be no curtains to have to try to peak behind.

    If transparency is denied…run.

  112. JM says:

    For days I have been thinking about proper perspective in regards to CCCM and the way in which Chuck (and his entourage of sycophants) held power. What part was flesh? What part was inspired of the devil? Personally, I believe that the exact location of where to draw those lines are in God’s purview. However, is it reasonable to ask if there were indications that both the flesh and the devil were present? While this may not be the place to wrestle with those things, I think these questions are still valid. Maybe now that the myth has been deflated, everything about this ministry can be evaluated in light of the evidence and what God says about it all. An honest perusal of Scripture to find out how God defines sin, true repentance and the fruit of each would be very healthy. Let each man decide.

    Before I comment further, I wish to vent about one of the many things that greatly disturb me in light of more full revelations about CS. I now know it was an even more heinous and hypocritical act than was first known, as to what happened at Lonnie Frisbee’s funeral. At that service, Chuck described Lonnie as a Sampson figure. I actually have no trouble with conceding that as a possible characterization of Frisbee. That’s actually not my gripe. Chuck’s own sin was not a simple “stumbling” but an actual, longer term of “practicing” sin (definitely a distinction in Scripture) and he went to great and disgusting lengths to cover it up. (Whose money was used to pay off the adulteress? Was it money mixed with the offerings of the people?). In light of Chuck’s failure to disclose his own lack of integrity, I feel that he had no right to say anything about another flawed Christian figure anytime, anywhere, ever. He had no right to give advice on marriage, ministry or–and especially–righteousness! He had not come clean, he was defrauding his flock and the Association, and he was nothing more than a liar. He may have been the great CS–but he was a liar and a cheat. His “standing” or prestige among the brethren will have no affect on my right to call him what he was. Infact–the Bible would back that up because it clearly says that we are NOT to be a respecter of persons. Sin and corruption is what it is and we are to remove it from the church–not corrupt everything around us for our own selfish gain like he and his cohorts were willing to do.

    The “pastors/leaders” who could corroborate these facts may be worried about “social suicide” (I do not fault you, Michael, for simply speaking the truth here), but it is obvious to this poster that they are worthless if that is their criteria for what is right. This would be a good time–maybe the last time–that they will be given the opportunity to come clean. Their name is on so much suffering. If their pride allows them to rationalize “social suicide” as a reason to continue to hide in the cesspool of the “do not talk” rule, then they are a stumbling block and an impediment wherever they are “serving”. They do not deserve to be there. I would go further and say that they (and those like them) would be the reason the movement of the Holy Spirit is so sparse in recent times. “They” would be the reason so many had to “go outside of the camp” to get relief. The sin saturated camp had become a source of corruption and deep hurt to so many, that it was useless. God will not be mocked. These “men” have sat upon sin and been quiet in clear disobedience to their duties to the flock of God. They will be held accountable for that. It’s possible they may escape exposure here on earth–but I wouldn’t want to be them in the hereafter if that’s the way it goes. Frankly–I hope people will figure out who they are and they will be exposed for the refuse that they are in the body of Christ. These “pastor/leaders” need to repent of their cowardice. I crudely ask, “Just what are they using their “manhood” for anyway?” How many are like Coy and Caldwell and using it to simply carry on the well-established CC tradition of unrepentant immorality? Is that what it is to be about? If not, maybe their manhood is just missing. Maybe they were so obtuse, they didn’t know it was missing and we should help these poor men locate their lost manhood. Maybe they left it at the cleaners. Maybe they gave it away when they agreed to go along with the other woosies that thought defying God was okay as long as it was CS telling then to commit this sin. I mean, Chuck was like, God…right? Maybe they lost it in the same place as they lost their healthy fear of God? Maybe they put it in the grave where they buried their decency, integrity and love for someone beside themselves.

    In regards to Chuck–I can’t help but think of King Saul.

    Saul started out with everything. Saul, at one point, was filled with the Spirit and prophesied with the prophets. Saul was anointed by Samuel and God gave him the unique chance to be the very first king of all Israel–the ground floor of something new. Almost immediately, he failed. Of particular import was his disobedience when he took for himself the duties of a priest. Because of his fear of losing what he had and his lack of faith in God’s ability to keep him in his newly minted kingship he rationalized this great sin. When tested, Saul put himself above God’s Word (what had clearly been said about sacrifices). His rebellious and ill-advised actions that he thought would help him save face and keep his kingship actually cost him God’s favor and he was told his kingdom would be taken from him.

    In this case, even though Saul was “God’s anointed”–God, Himself, told him that he would be removed. Someone else was actually anointed to take his place. God showed that he was not stupid or surprised. He did not leave His sheep without a leader. He had a replacement. The “anointing” upon Saul did not put him above God’s holiness, nor did it shield him from the consequences of his actions. Sadly, rather than abiding by God’s rendering on the matter, Saul continued in his disobedience. He did not pack up and vacate. Some say Saul’s sin of disobedience may have led to indecisive results in battle. Saul’s brand of corrosive pride led him to being spiritually oppressed by an unclean spirit and he made life miserable for all around him–especially his own son. What’s worse, to continue to keep the kingdom that was no longer his, he tried repeatedly to undermine and kill the successor that God had chosen. Ultimately, he turned to necromancy and committed suicide.

    Sadly–if you want to go even further back–Saul was the result of a faithless request by the people of Israel. If you wanted to, you could easily and rightly blame the people for wanting to use the standard of what the “World” offered in their request for a king. There is also something to be noted in the blindness of people who want a leader who looks and sounds like Santa Claus to be perfect and real so very bad that they completely ignore every indication that he is not.

    Lots of gleaning to do.

  113. Em says:

    i presumptuously posted 1 Cor. 5 over on open blogging and, as I read the comments here i want to shout, don’t feel disloyal or petty or afraid to condemn what is wrong in our gatherings we call church… if you do, read that chapter of Corinthians thoughtfully and bless Michael… from what i read there, this IS God’s work playing out here on the PhxP and long overdue

  114. CM (not the one who married a CC Pastor) says:

    CM (the one who did not marry a CC pastor at 25),

    Maybe I should change my name…..

    I am the CM who did not get it Piled Higher and Deeper but only left after more S level…

  115. Jerod says:

    I directed someone here for encouragement, and I regret it.
    She’s very sick and feeling too afraid to fall apart before God. Michael, you’ve been very honest about your struggles and doubts through your health problems and I thought maybe she would find some solace and comraderie… But she’ll read these articles and these comments instead. Your are better at pastoring and being random and creating a space where we feel accepted for all our weirdness. Shrink your menu, as Chef Ramsay would say.

    So I’ll be straightforward, and you’ll give two ****s and probably boot me again because you are a CC guy after all. Don’t claim innocence because “this isn’t a church”. We are always the church. It just happens to be where we say a lot of stuff.

    Earlier I wrote:

    Wow. You just reached back 11 years to tell Prasch to kiss your ass. Nice 😉

    I’d hate to be on your elder board.

    Why does Jacob Prasch get Michael so riled? I can’t find anywhere where Michael has really entered his crosshairs. Have you two even spoken?

    If he just yelled, “Norton!” could you laugh and move on?

    This Calvary Chapel series is like trying to hold on to the smell of a fart in the wind.

    On ODM’s
    ODM’S truly believe they are doing the Lord’s work x-D

    like Michael does. 😮

    So I guess everyone who bashes Michael also has a point?
    “Take care how you measure”
    Many of us here aren’t taking advantage of sheep but maybe there are those of us Christ would still call adulterers, murderers, slanderers, etc.

    I will bet everybody’s waiting for Wednesday like hens waiting to peck at something. I was. Then I remembered I still love my old pastor.

    This only comes out when the split in CC is fossilizing. What took so long? Why speak ill of a man and his yes men after he’s dead and can give no rebuttal? True or not, if you had a problem maybe you could have published this online or flown down to Costa Mesa 15 years ago
    and maybe have had a chat with him… or two, or three, or ten.

    We all got hurt by Calvary Chapel, it’s yes men, it’s “anointed”, and it’s model. We touched the anointed and we all found out its alright, they were just dudes saying stuff. We’re okay! God still loves us and uses us.

    Mmaaaaybeee it’s time to move on…

    For all of us

    Just a thought.

  116. Reuben says:

    “Mmaaaaybeee it’s time to move on…”

    Nah. Exposing the evils of the church is a worthy cause. As Em posted,

    “9 I wrote to you in my letter not to associate with sexually immoral people— 10 not at all meaning the people of this world who are immoral, or the greedy and swindlers, or idolaters. In that case you would have to leave this world. 11 But now I am writing to you that you must not associate with anyone who claims to be a brother or sister[c] but is sexually immoral or greedy, an idolater or slanderer, a drunkard or swindler. Do not even eat with such people.”

    So own your Bible, and ditch the fornicators.

  117. Michael says:


    I should probably write a stand alone piece to answer your questions, but I’m in the process of passing another kidney stone and don’t feel like it.
    First of all, people have been telling me what I should and should not write for 17 years.
    I still haven’t bothered to care what those folks think and have no plans to do so today.
    Last time I checked, the blog had my name on it.
    Perhaps you can write your own and do as you please on it.
    This is not a church.
    This is a privately owned social media property.
    When there is a way to partake of the sacraments online I’ll reconsider.
    I am not a CC guy, I’m an Anglican.
    The fact that I exercise the right of personal property here does not reflect on my pastoral care, unless you can walk into your pastors home, get a snack out of the refrigerator, critique his furniture,then take a nap in his bed.
    I’ll finish later…

  118. Michael says:

    On Jacob Prasch;

    The link provided was his response to the CT article.
    It was inaccurate and ignorant. much like the rest of his work.
    I worked on that article on I know what the author went through to research it and get it published and I also know the incredible backlash he got afterward that affected his life and career .
    What I said to Prasch was indelicate, but better than what I had to edit out.

  119. Michael says:

    “This Calvary Chapel series is like trying to hold on to the smell of a fart in the wind.”

    I have others who believe it a breath of fresh air.

    This brings me to a point of confusion.

    I don’t like Breitbart.
    I find it revolting and offensive.
    So…I don’t read Breitbart.

    If you don’t like what I write, don’t read it.
    There is no evil cabal invading your house, commandeering your mouse, and forcing you this site.
    Not that I know of at least…

  120. Michael says:

    “This only comes out when the split in CC is fossilizing. What took so long? Why speak ill of a man and his yes men after he’s dead and can give no rebuttal? ”

    This has nothing to do with the split…I don’t see how you make that connection.
    I’m not “speaking ill of the dead”, I’m recording the history I know and the history I lived.
    What took so long?
    That will need a longer response…

  121. JM says:

    Dear Michael,

    First, we, here, want you to know we are genuinely sorry to hear that you are having to go through the excruciating pain of passing a kidney stone. I have seen natural childbirth and it’s unbelievable in its own right. However, I also saw my 6’4″ father writhe in pain, unable to control his movements as he passed a stone. Some say the passing of a kidney stone can rival or exceed that of natural childbirth. I have no trouble with that after what I saw. May God give you grace and help in abundance for what you are going through. You surely need both.

    Secondly, I do not know if my posting that stupid article by Prasch about the Hocking matter, etc., has been mistakenly given a positive spin. I actually posted it to expose his stupidity. I want that clear. He’s a blowhard and loves himself way too much.

    Lastly, it is difficult to impossible to believe that Jerrod has very good reading comprehension skills. If he did, he wouldn’t have made so very many ill-informed statements. His words say more about him than the subject he proposes to comment on. He deliberately mis-states reasons for the information being given in these series of posts and does a disservice to those that are being set free by the truths exposed therein. I hope he does the work necessary to sharpen his ability to reason.

  122. Michael says:


    Thank you…these are unpleasant afflictions, but thus far I’ve stayed out of the hospital with this one and have hope it will leave soon.
    We’ve always had critics…we a point. 🙂

  123. JM says:

    Michael, your patience exceeds mine. But that’s a good thing. 🙂
    Hope this episode is very short lived and you heal quickly.

  124. CM (the MS one) says:


    In regards to the kidney stone, all I can is that too shall pass (my lame attempt at humor).

    In regards to speaking ill of the dead, all the skeletons in Abraham’s closet (trying to pimp out his wife by pretending it was his sister), David’s closet (self-explanatory), Moses, and others are revealed in Scripture. These are the heroes of the faith.

    Yet I find it odd that Jerrod is taken aback when Chuck Smith’s history is revealed warts and all. Sounds to me that cognitive dissonance and the “Papa” chuck syndrome kicking in.

  125. Duane Arnold says:

    I remember in the John Adams/Thomas Jefferson correspondence, Adam’s asked the question, “Will anyone ever write an accurate account of our revolution?” While they were still alive, Adams and Jefferson felt an obligation to posterity to speak of the events and the people involved so that lessons might be learned – not from a fictional account, but from an accurate account. As I see it, Michael is simply engaging in the task of an historian, separating truth from fiction and trying to ascertain motives and results. We have nothing to fear from such an exercise… and there might even be great profit.

  126. Anne says:

    Michael speaks the truth of secrets hidden in plain sight and the deep, wide raging effects on the keepers of the secrets and upon those throughout the movement who hadn’t a clue but whose lives would suffer the impacts nevertheless.
    Michael carefully corroborated everything.
    Even Kay’s choice of handling the matter colored everything about the Women’s Ministry and particular women featured to speak at retreats who emphasized that though biblically allowed to leave adulterous husbands had received great blessing glory from God by standing by their men.

  127. JM says:


    Sadly, your story corroborates much of what was reported by, not only those who were counseled at CCCM, but also those who attended some of those Women’t Ministry retreats, etc.

    In all my years–I have only known one CC couple (out of perhaps dozens) who fully survived the trauma of the unfaithful husband. I tend to think that it was because the erring husband had no history of straying (this man “stumbled”–not “practiced” sin, like the two-years of CS with the payoff and cover up). Strangely (by CCCM’s standards) this man was so devastated by his own behavior that he was willing to eat more dirt than I’ve ever seen. He even yelled at other men who were condoning immorality. It still took years and years to rebuild that union. I’ve never seen anything like it since. Both parties emphatically and clearly said that one thing that helped them survive was to get away from Calvary Chapel. That is an indisputable fact.

    As far as I know–this woman has never told any other woman to stay. She did not use her situation as any sort of template because each situation she saw was considered separately and the risk of further abuse was actually too great. She told some to get away from their husbands.

    I have long thought that the way that some Calvary Chapel’s marriage counseling was done, was to reinforce their own, strange “world view” and to rationalize some view of Chuck’s. Well…now we know. So much suffering. So many sad stories to tell…

  128. Kevin L says:

    I’m thankful for this…

    There is another thing which cannot be overlooked or minimized…that being that despite what is known about Chuck Smith, he was God’s chosen man to lead this revival and the institution that arose out of it.

    God is not afraid of paradox or paradoxical people…they are what He has to work with…

    His Grace knows no bounds. Blows me away.

  129. Martin Luther's Disciple says:

    Kevin L – Hi, I don’t think I have seen you here before. I am not questioning if Chuck Smith was or was not “God’s chosen man to lead this revival and the institution that arose out of it.” – but my question is, how do you know he was?

    Welcome aboard 🙂

  130. McGarrett says:

    God is not afraid of paradox or paradoxical people…they are what He has to work with…
    Hi Kevin,

    Just asking? When does paradox or paradoxical people intersect, become infected by sin, cover up, and have a trickle down effect on people around them, those who justify the greater good to be paramount, whatever that can be interpreted as being. I feel like this mind set is no different than CEO’s who feel like it is justifiable to lie, to protect the stockholders.

  131. Babylon's Dread says:

    A father disciplines his kids
    A father tells his kids who they are
    A father makes a way for his kids to go forward
    A father does not leave his house in confused rivalry

  132. JM says:

    CM @ September 8, 2018 at 12:21 pm ( The one who DID marry the CC Pastor)

    Any system that would foster the self-seeking ministry of a man like that, and then encourage it to flourish inside of it had already lost its soul. I submit that at some point, CC was a corpse that should have been buried. Not only because the stench of its decay and sin (as if that wasn’t bad enough), but also because of the disease of cruelty and entitlement it continued to spread. It was so deadly, it left bodies of the maimed and injured everywhere. Even secular people would call that wrong.

    What God’s leaders did with their wives was a source of great rebuke in the book of Malachi and was cited as part of their lack of blessing. Further, after you were bereft of both your home and your marriage, what CCCM did next left you as virtual orphans. What the church does to those who have suffered as you did is also a source of great rebuke. Infact, in Isaiah–it was listed as one of the causes of judgement. The people who treated you so very unChristlike are not off the hook. Time that has been given to these people is for reason of repentance–not approval.

    I cannot imagine the depth of your pain in what you suffered at the hand of these blights upon The Faith. I cannot help but applaud you for surviving, though. You would have to be an extraordinary person (as are many whose stories mirror yours). May God find you and bless you where ever you are and may He fill you and your family with good things. May He restore all that was lost to you both here and in the hereafter.

  133. Kevin L says:

    Sorry! Just now seeing this. Sorry if I was not clear. I was merely saying I’m thankful that God still uses us even in our brokenness. To me, that’s a paradox in and of itself. This is certainly not to minimize sin. But when we sin there is great Grace available. God used Chuck to bring many people to Faith in Jesus. Even though he was a broken and sinful man. God still blessed many people through him. We should praise God for the results IMO.

  134. Steve says:

    Kevin L,
    I praise God that God took me out on CC before loosing my faith. Who knows how many folks were hurt by the resulting sin or have lost their faith completely. We will never know. This is why the “ends” never justify the “means”. It’s kind of sobering.

  135. Jean says:

    It would really be nice and reverent if people would give the Word of God and the power of the Gospel the credit they deserve for bringing people to faith in Jesus.

    Are we still focused on the persuasion, oratory skill, gimmicks, appearances, emotional draws, moral credentials, etc., of the preacher instead of boasting in the Lord for accomplishing His will where and in whom he so chooses? I would submit that these human attributes are capable of creating only foundations made of sand. Only Christ and his Word create a rock foundation.

  136. Steve says:

    Jean, I completely agree. Well said!

  137. Jean says:

    Thank you Steve.

    One other thought: A preacher cannot bring anyone to Christ, but a good preacher can bring Christ to us.

  138. JM says:

    YES, JEAN!!!!!!!

    Wanted to amen to some of your comments on the new thread, too!!

  139. chico says:

    You can bet your ass that if it were a gay relationship it would have been exposed to the world!! Christians are such hypocrites!!!

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