Calvary Chapel Distinctives: The Priority Of The Word
This is my summary and response to the “Priority Of The Word” chapter in Chuck Smith’s book, “Calvary Chapel Distinctives.”
This chapter gives an explanation as to why Calvary Chapel has chosen to teach through the bible book by book, chapter by chapter and verse by verse. Smith claims that it is important to teach the “whole counsel of God (Acts 20:27).” He believes teaching from cover to cover (Genesis to Revelation) is the best way to do it.
Chuck Smith is not against topical sermons (p. 51). He believes churches that are ONLY committed to topical sermons are prone to leave out important topics that they feel might be boring, difficult or controversial. Smith asserts, “If you’re only preaching topically, you may also tend to avoid controversial or difficult topics, and the people won’t gain a well-balanced view of God’s truth. So the value of going straight through the bible is that you can say, ‘I have not shunned to declare to you all the counsel of God’ (p. 52).”
According to Chuck Smith in this chapter, if a person were to leave out difficult or controversial topics they would be guilty of not preaching the whole counsel of God and would fail at presenting a well-balanced view of God’s truth. However, it was only one chapter ago, or four pages prior, that Smith made the opposite claim! He admitted to leaving out controversial topics for the purpose of maintaining a balanced view. He states, “Some people object because they feel that I gloss over certain passages of Scripture, and they’re correct. But glossing over controversial issues is often deliberate because there are usually two sides. And I have found that it’s important not to be divisive and not allow people to become polarized on issues, because the moment they are polarized, there’s division (p. 48).”
This leaves us with the following conclusions:
- It’s possible to preach the bible book by book, chapter by chapter, verse by verse, Genesis through Revelation and STILL gloss over controversial issues, topics and passages of Scripture as Smith admitted to doing.
- A particular method of preaching does not guarantee that a particular preacher will be faithful with the text or won’t gloss over controversial issues (as was his premise in this chapter).
- Based on Chuck Smith’s own standards, and his own admission in the prior chapter: Calvary Chapel does NOT “declare the whole counsel of God.”
- Calvary Chapel’s ministry philosophy isn’t very consistent.
See also prior related post: Calvary Chapel Verse by Verse Teaching Through the Bible