The Calvary Chapel Chronicles

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42 Responses

  1. Babylon's Dread says:

    This will be worthwhile.

  2. Michael says:


    I hope so…truly.

  3. Em says:

    You have affirmed many in the Faith that had been marginalized by power hungry exploiters of this wonderful life in Christ. Only God knows, but it is hard to see some of those who’ve claimed leadership in churches as even knowing God or the terror of His holiness or the majesty…..
    Praying God strengthen you and bless these Wednesday writings

  4. Michael says:

    Thank you, Em…I hope it’s worth reading.

  5. Steven says:

    Looking forward to this

  6. JM says:

    Wow, Em!! You said it well!!

    Dear Michael, we here, humbly and deeply thank you for being willing to do the postings you have described. We have suffered in no small way because of this entity. As I stated once before, I will probably never be strong enough to speak about all of it. Suffice to say, we also know that we do not own suffering. Reading the accounts on this site (as well as on one that does not exist anymore) has reinforced that the suffering was more wide spread than first known.

    We know the pitfalls of going against such a formidable institution and will continue to lift you up in our prayers. I also know personally, how debilitating chronic ill-health can be. May God give you a special dispensation so that you can complete this task with vigor and grace.

  7. Papias says:

    This will be a good series and I will be looking forward to it.

    When I left CC I wrote up a piece on my experiences. Michael – Feel free to use any part of that if you so desire.

    Since leaving this one particular CC, I have run into many of the people with whom I used to fellowship with there. Nearly everyone has left this CC, so the only way they continue to have a church is by new people getting sucked in and churned out. As far as I can tell, the pastor is still doing what he was doing when I was there.

    What hurts are the stories from others who stayed after I left.

  8. Duane Arnold says:


    To quote some favorite theologians (CS&N) “It’s been a long time comin’ It’s goin’ to be a long time gone”.
    This series will be a landmark…

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

    “But you know
    The darkest hour
    Is always, always just before the dawn”

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

    …because, you know, there’s always gotta be hope to make something better, and so it is with Calvary Chapel

    In the liner notes for the 1991 box set Crosby, Stills & Nash, David Crosby wrote: “It was written the night Bobby Kennedy was killed. I believed in him because he said he wanted to make some positive changes in America, and he hadn’t been bought and sold like Johnson and Nixon – cats who made their deals years ago with the special interests in this country in order to gain power. I thought Bobby, like his brother, was a leader who had not made those deals. I was already angry about Jack Kennedy getting killed and it boiled over into this song when they got his brother, too.”

  11. Linnea says:

    Michael , you know I have always encouraged your efforts to expose blatant opposition to what our Lord taught and modeled.

    This last week, with my Father-in-Law’s death brought about actions that numb my soul. My mother-in-law has been subjected to swooping in, grandstanding, vulture attacks, false grief, and finally, unbelievable, she cut out my supportive husband and her son, who has helped her and her failing husband for years. It’s unbelievable on one hand, but in the grand scheme of “Christians” who profess to follow Christ, is is not unbelievable, but very sad and disheartening. In the midst of this loss, brothers and sisters from long ago came to grieve with us, and for that I am eternally grateful. The bottom line is this….how we treat one another, day by day, and at life’s greatest junctures, is a test of our souls. It is the litmus test of our core beliefs. I’m so grateful for those innocent and God-loving individuals, but trying to process those in the family who look for an opportunity to scavenge shreds. I shouldn’t be surprised, but I always am.

  12. Michael says:


    I was a banker for years…and too often my job was chasing off vultures.
    I could never get my arms around such things.
    My heart goes out to you and your husband…I’ve seen first hand this type of greed and cruelty.
    You’re both in my prayers…

  13. JD says:

    I got to shake Bobby Kennedy’s hand at Lakewood Center during the day before he got shot. Our Roman Catholic neighbors said “don’t ever wash your hand”, to the stern consternation of my Lutheran mom.
    Will be waiting for the truth about Pastor Chuck to come out; after all, enquiring minds want to know.

  14. Captain Kevin says:

    Michael, in addition to looking forward to these writings, I will be praying for your protection.

    Linnea, so heartbreaking. Praying for your family.

  15. pstrmike says:

    Always wondered if RFK would have won the nomination and then the presidency. That was a very bad day in a very bad year.

    CSNY was one of my favorite groups growing up, but I thought that Crosby was always too stoned to know what he was talking about.

    I think I’ve been reading here for about 13 or more years. I was once a CC pastor (technically, still a part of CGN), an originally took issue with some of Michael’s articles. I had people within CC that corroborated his stories, along with my own experiences of spiritual abuse in CC churches. I’ve met many people because of my early involvement with this blog and became friends with Michael. I became Michael’s pastor who some thought Michael made up that story as well.

    I have mixed feelings about this project. The story needs to be told, but like the poor, the tyrant will always be with us.

  16. Jerod says:


    Shotgunning method to volunteer consumption


    What really, REALLY happened?

  17. Anne says:

    I’ve often wondered if I’d live long enough for you to write the book . I’m grateful for you labors over all the years. I just recently read a journal kept by a CC old timer during 1976 which wa a pivotal year in my early relationship with CC. Re-reading it now from the distance of a few decades helped me lay some old ghosts and burdens down. Perhaps I’ve always secretly hoped for that from your book as well. That there may be some benefit in seeing it from the distance of a decade or two instead of being gobsmack in the middle of the smoke and mirrors of the legends v the humanity. May you find peace, strength, and continued sustenance throughout this undertaking.

  18. Kevin H says:


    I pray that God gives you the strength and protection as you work through this series. This will not be an easy thing to do and could renew some heated and unscrupulous opposition. It obviously has not been an easy thing to even put together in the first place with the difficulties encountered in writing a book.

    Despite all that, this will probably be a needed series. God bless you for doing so. Although it may bring friction and ill feelings for some, it will also be a means of healing for some and may bring about the needed warning for some to recognize and get out of suspicious situations before getting hurt themselves. Even if it does not bring about significant overall change in the organization(s), it will still provide help and healing to others who need it.

  19. JM says:

    Anne & Kevin H –

    Thank you for your comments. You echo so much of what is in this weary and worn heart. 🙂

  20. Xenia says:

    Your series will probably bring some interesting new people to the blog.

  21. Michael says:

    Thanks for the kind words everybody.
    While I hope that I’m able to bring some light to others. I think I’m doing this for me more than anyone else…it’s part of finishing well and finishing what was set before me a long time ago.

  22. Ben Burned says:

    This should be interesting. How many weeks do you think it will take? I’m thinking at least a year.

  23. Ms. ODM says:

    Coming directly from a glass house 🙁

  24. Anne says:

    Ms. ODM – The greatest lesson in life is that we are all glass houses. My favorites have more than a few cracks from plenty of rocks. A few even ground to practically sand yet still reflect the brightest of light.

  25. pstrmike says:

    well said Anne

  26. JM says:

    Dear Ms ODM, Perhaps I should not be–but I am puzzled by your remark. When I used to frequent more sites similar to yours, I appreciated a lot of your postings. I really respected it when you did your best to ferret out the truth about John Stewart when he seemed to swap out “the wife of his youth” for a newer, sexier, more compliant model. And, to your credit, it bothered you that Stewart flaunted his sin in a very public way (at CC or other public venues where he could hawk his books) with seemingly little to no pushback from the powers at CCCM.

    The reason I bring this up is because, if that bothered you (rightly so), why doesn’t it bother you that Pastor Chuck lied and covered up his own sin of immorality, which led to covering up the same sin in other pastors, which made it easy for John Stewart to do what he did. (It has been asserted that Stewart actually knew about Chuck’s adultery and that’s why he got a pass to continue on the radio show, etc.) It is not unreasonable to conclude that this hidden, immoral leaven from the top down led to not only what Stewart got away with, but the ease with which others were able to commit lifelong immoralities, perversions and abuses. (Can we say Coy, Caldwell, Cardelli, Flanders, and…?)

    After spending time at four different Calvary Chapels over a period of 20 years, it became abundantly clear that their problems were systemic rather than unique to each body. I did, however, hope that my family’s horrific experiences were not universal. Over time, and with a great suspicion of what was really going on after the David Hocking debacle, I found out what my family experienced was not that unusual and abuses were quite widespread. Sadly our experiences were mirrored by more people than I could have ever imagined. Sadly, there was also a pattern. These people’s sufferings came about because of CC’s heavy-handed approach which, in turn, was directly traced back to Chuck Smith’s invention and Scriptural misuse of the Old Testament Moses Model as well as the unscriptural “touch not God’s anointed” philosophies. For all the good he was said to have done–his name is still connected to a system that fostered wide spread abuse and he never, never, ever repented of any of it. His obsession with his arbitrary, delusional take on Moses and “God’s anointed” allowed pastors to abuse and commit immorality with impunity. Chuck invoked this authoritarian model himself at his own church to the point that when a young man saw the vicious way his parents were treated at CCCM–knowing it was with the full knowledge of Chuck himself– eventually committed suicide.

    My journey to know Christ nearly cost me my life both as I was coming and after I came to faith. In my zeal to follow Him post confession, I wanted to know everything I could about what the Gospel consisted of and what it did not. I was so affected by what I saw in the part of the family who were in or influenced by their cult that I sought God fervently so I would never fall prey to the kind of error that enslaved all of them. My earliest history begins at Calvary Chapel which seemed to champion orthodoxy through their support of apologetics and certain discernment ministries. I will always be grateful for that little CC satellite through which one of my family heard the Gospel and then, came back to our remote community and shared it with the rest of us. It is from that point we were drawn into the CC world. It was the time of the “Jesus Freaks”. However, I will always wish I did not stay so long. I will have to live with the damage done to my family the rest of my life. I know now that, for a large portion of their existence, the Calvary Chapel Association covered their affinity for pastoral sin and denial with a cloak of championing orthodoxy. It was enough to confuse and deflect a lot of scrutiny and it worked. How many couples sat for counseling not knowing their pastor had broken his own marriage vows. Worse–how many women and children were left with pastors who had a problem with restraining themselves sexually. Was it worth it CC pastors who were quiet when you knew there was perversion practiced among many of your own number? Can you live with all the harm that was fostered by your cowardly silence? Your day is coming.

    I was formerly on a different path–one that carried with it the assumption that certain watchdog ministries were operating honestly and morally. Weight was given to that assumption because, even those that had their beginnings with an association to Calvary Chapel were willing to decry what they deemed were CC’s compromises. However, I began to notice there were certain things they many would not post about. In my innocence, I begin to advocate that they expose some of the pastors who had disqualified themselves through sexual immorality so that others would not give them a new pulpit or other position and let them do it again. I figured anyone with an IQ of 1 would know that you don’t keep putting the fox back into the hen house. I also wondered why some Discernment speakers were constantly going into venues with other speakers who had never repented of sins against God or their families (especially their wives) or their congregations. They also stood with pastors who in addition to having their abuses covered up, had been found to have refused to rebuke publicly other leaders who had committed sins in a public way. It became clear that these “good guys” had slid into what amounted to a “good ole’ boys club” and enjoyed hearing themselves talk so much they would compromise and hold the hands of unrepentant leaders just to be heard. I learned that even these “good guys” had a price. One man likes to speak at prophecy conferences so he ignores the sins of the men he stands with. For another man it was to finally get his testimony published. They have their reward.

    I further learned that it is more than an extreme possibility that a certain man knew that Chuck had committed adultery and, yet, was part of both the board of Calvary Chapel Costa Mesa and Berean Call for years post Chuck’s disqualification. It’s thought to be why BC pulled their punches when it came to Calvary Chapel on some occasions. It doesn’t mean everyone knew–but this man knew. It also becomes a reasonable question as to what another man did with what he knew as he was part of the Berean Call board while simultaneously being a CC pastor of his own church. What about Jacob Prasch who stood up and defended David Hocking after there were reasonable, Biblical objections to Hocking not going through restoration and teaching only a handful of weeks after his sin was discovered. There has been speculation that Prasch did so to defend his own agenda of staying on the CC talk circuit. He parlayed his friendship with Smith into a greater recognition for himself. Either way, Prasch did as much harm as Chuck Smith for not agreeing that Hocking should have gone through the restoration process at his own church to bypass the “appearance of evil”. Because Hocking was always encouraged to take the easy way out in defiance of Scripture, he has had a shadow of sin over his life ever since. I actually feel bad for him. I heard he is probably a nice guy. That’s what happens when we do the wrong thing. It’s so sad that high placed Christians who should have known better, chose expediency over God’s righteousness and holiness. This is evil and affected way too many people. It boils down to selfishness in the end and not a view to what is good for God and His people.

    If anyone is thinking that exposing the rot that has been inside of CC for so long is not proper treatment of Chuck’s legacy, then we have lost all sense of personal responsibility or what is needed for a credible church leader. No one held a gun to anyone’s head back in the day when the fearless leader committed his sin. As a leader–a teacher of God’s word– when you commit certain sins the consequences are quite clear. He and the abetters were the ones who were disobedient. This is an effort at simply exposing corruption that should have been dealt with a long time ago. Because others chose to cover up these wrongs and were stupid enough to think they could get away with it in the face of a very “unstupid” and holy God, all they did was delay the inevitable. That’s on everyone who knew, had the power to address it and did nothing. Again–stupid reigns for anyone who thinks you can build a legacy on lies. What is good, if it is truly good– will stand.

    Here is something to think about. If there are those in discernment or other ministries who object to what Michael is doing, and want to direct their anger at something–they can look in the mirror. There is no one to blame but themselves. If these ministries were doing their job and had a point of view that they wanted to impose on all of the corruption that is to be revealed, then they should have done their own investigation and commented on this a very long time ago. Instead they obfuscated, accused and threatened. How’s that been working? Many did not want to know because it got in the way of their idolatrous view of Chuck and the inflated view they had of Calvary Chapel. Many in CC’s orbit have known about these things for a long time and benefitted from the cover up. So now–they get what they get and they deserve it. I hope they, too, are exposed for their many hypocrisies. Maybe, just maybe, they will fear God enough to clean out their own house of their willful blindnesses and mindless complicities. Maybe they should look up the meaning of true repentance and do it.

  27. Em says:

    I’m wondering if one infidelity can be repented and forgiven and the person not lose his ministry – just pondering …
    Also wondering if we pew sitters should ever put a man on a pedestal… wondering if every pastor, every teacher ought not to fear God first and their God fearing vigilant congregation second… ? we pew sitters are not sponges … or we shouldn’t be … get catechised, get wisdom, get discernment
    The Phoenix Preacher is enabling, giving the pew sitters – the saints – permission, to call God, their God without filtering their Faith thru these, evidently, elitist untouchables – May God bless you all from Michael on down the list (you, too, dusty).

  28. The New Victor says:

    I don’t know if it was a coincidence or what but instead of the sermon today they showed half of a message by Chuck Smith explaining the CC distinctives. I missed our pastor’s into on why they were showing it. I’ve missed maybe 2 sundays a year in the past five and this was the first time they’ve shown something like that in service. I’ve never heard him speak other than maybe if it was in the Lonnie frisbee documentary which I saw on YouTube.

  29. Clarke Lauffer says:

    Good Morning, in my studies thought this would also encourage you;

    Romans 5:1-11, meditating upon God’s unmerited Favor in giving us His grace to live today. I reflect upon how much of my life is at times trying to live and survive outside of this grace in which we stand. It says we have access by faith into this grace. My pride not even being aware causes God’s resistance to my access in this grace. My heart cry’s Lord I need your grace and I believe by this faith you will supply it fully to me at this very moment as I once again humble myself before you and surrender everything to you. The battle is not seeing our hearts as God does, He wants to bring wholeness peace and His presence to our insanity. Verse 3 and 4 says we also Glory in tribulations knowing that tribulation produces perseverance , and perseverance character and character hope. The kind of hope that does not disappoint verse 5.

    We are on track and all the stuff we are currently dealing with is from God for God and our good.

    I would ask you to pray about bringing up the past which God’s Grace has cleansed us all from. He is faithful to chasten and prune us all regarding those things in all our lives that have been rooted in pride and the flesh. He will have His perfect will accomplished in all of our lives. Calvary Chapel is just a wine skin that God uses in significant ways in a time when countless thousands were without hope and without God in this world. Perhaps we would be better reviewing the History of Israel or the struggles and failings of the early days of the Apostles to be reminded of all our weakness as mere men. To just focus upon Calvary Chapel we can bring unnecessary reproach and hurt upon the many believers in Calvary’s that are truly being led by God’s Word and faithful men who live for God’s Glory and the feeding of His flock. As Paul said forgetting those things that lay behind and pressing onward to the mark and high calling of God in Christ Jesus. Agape

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

    “Those who cannot remember the past are condemned to repeat it.”
    George Santayana

    The believers who are and were part of the foundation, the growth, the highs and lows of Calvary Chapel Costa Mesa and the “Calvary Chapel Movement” dare not be silent about the issues of poor governance, abuse, and manipulation that were, sadly, a part of our experience. Those who are so fragile as to be unable to learn of, review, and critique the good and bad of the church are in need of growing into maturity. Truth and honesty are vital parts of that growth, pruning away the hero worship and ceasing the unhealthy practices of silencing questions and critiques of fellow believers are what makes for a healthy and living community of believers.

    Kind regards,
    ( |o )====:::

  31. JM says:

    ( |o )====:::

    You said it very well. THANK YOU!

  32. Xenia says:

    I agree with (-o)===::: on this, even though I have complained about it in the past.

    As a student of history I have to ask where would we be if every time something scandalous happened it was decided to let bygones be bygones and sweep the unpleasantness under the rug? Our history books would be pamphlets and we would learn nothing from the past. Even the Bible itself would be thinner. While there is no need to dwell (or worse, rejoice) on sordidness, and some personal stories that are really just gossip really don’t need to be told, Calvary Chapel was a founding member of a movement that has impacted almost every branch of Christianity in America, if not the world. Frankly, I think the Orthodox Church and the Amish might be the only churches unaffected by the Calvary style of doing church. If you see a drum set on your church’s “stage,” your parish has been affected. If your pastor dresses in casual clothing instead of vestments or a suit and tie, your church has been impacted, for better or for worse. The history of Calvary Chapel needs to be told, warts and all because it represents a turning point in American religion and culture.

  33. Martin Luther's Disciple says:

    I can agree with G and Xenia – the story needs to be told “warts and all.” However, what we normally see is a story told “warts and that is all”. A story like the history of CC seems as if it should be 5 to 10 praiseworthy articles to each “wart” article.
    Oh yes, IMHO 🙂

  34. Duane Arnold says:

    In addition to certain of the very good comments above, I think it should be said that there are lessons to be learned from reflecting on CCs history. True, some of the lessons are somewhat painful. On the other hand, there are also good and valuable things to be learned. Although I am not privy to what Michael is writing, I have to believe that it will be fair and even handed. Also, before we forget, something extraordinary did happen with CC. I truly believe that this will provide a space for reflection on both the good and the bad of the movement.

  35. Em says:

    So many thoughtful comments here… Over the years reading here, it is evident that there were some pretty bad actors in the CC movement – understandable as, in spite of those warts (and some warthogs ? ) so many walked thru that door to find Jesus and their redemption… Smith and company got the devil’s full attention and the devil did seek to destroy…. and so our Lord found a rebel saint over the border in Oregon and used him as a spiritual medic in this war….
    I think that the saga can be laid out before the world in a way that is gracious and makes all who read a lot wiser concerning this amazing spiritual battle
    Or so it seems to this interloping evangelical – dunno, tho, do i? ?

  36. Michael says:

    My intention is to write a history from my perspective and from the hundreds of conversations I’ve had over the last 16 years with members, clergy and critics.
    I’m interested in gaining and sharing understanding…whether I’m up to such a task remains to be seen.

  37. Xenia says:

    While it is true that the ministries of CC brought many people to the Lord, it is also true that the ministries of CC brought many people’s faith to ruin. I count myself among the latter, and thank God that he found a place for me elsewhere.

  38. Em says:

    Xenia, amen! God always finds a place for His. and heals the wounds, if we let Him. ?

  39. Sue says:

    My husband and I left the Calvary Chapel church 2 years ago after being there for 20 years. Some things good about Calvary Chapel and a lot of things are not. Do your own research there is a lot on the internet.

  40. Sue says:

    Calvary Chapel in our experience lacked church discipline when needed. The only time they told you to leave is if you disagreed on their biblical interpretation. So much for debate. Also the Moses model is a terrible model for any church to follow. It gives too much power to one person.

  41. Headless Unicorn Guy says:

    “Today, the Calvary Chapel “movement” has split and the movement isn’t moving anywhere fast.”

    Cults rarely survive the death of their Founding Cult Leader. (And some, like Jim Jones or Bo & Peep, make sure of it.)

    Few Joseph Smiths are followed by a Brigham Young who can turn their personality cult into a self-sustaining religious system.

  1. October 1, 2020

    […] Calvary Chapel Chronicles: Introduction […]

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