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Calvary Chapel Distinctives: The Priority Of The Word

by randy on October 4th, 2010

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:

  1. 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.
  2. 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).
  3. 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.”
  4. Calvary Chapel’s ministry philosophy isn’t very consistent.

See also prior related post: Calvary Chapel Verse by Verse Teaching Through the Bible

  1. Gail S. permalink

    Having been in this denomination for almost 6 years I can attest to the fact that the scriptures that cause the most controversy among Christians are not taught from the pulpit. It scares me to think that there are Christians out there that feel they must censor God. It scares me even more when I realize how many of us sit under this censorship.

  2. Scott F. permalink

    CC has done so many wonderful things for the BoC, but the “line upon line, precept upon precept” teaching method isn’t one of them. Sure, they touch upon each verse of the bible (maybe, as Pastor Smith himself states) but it could not be any more ironic for CC leadership to use that passage from Is. 28 to support this method. It’s like trying to refute Christ’s resurrection from the Gospels! Randy, for this post you should link back to your 10/30/09 post on MP about this. You spell out the problem in detail there so I won’t here, but if any CC’ers are still “listening” to this thread, read *all* of Is. 28 — at least down to v. 13 — to understand the problem. It really is mind boggling.

  3. randy permalink

    I am appreciative of the foundation CC has laid for me in my early years, but at the same time there was just as much junk that to this day still haunts my theology. They came about at the culmination of some pretty strange thoughts and doctrines in the history of the Church. I really believe there is no reason why CC couldn’t change and become something like what Sovereign Grace is to the reformed community. Unfortunately it would require they, as CJ did, admit to having been wrong on quite a few accounts. Imagine how much MORE that would do for the BoC if they did.

    Thanks for the link suggestion. Done!

  4. jason permalink

    It’s strange. Having been and still currently in, though not wholly, a CC church, I too appreciate the reverence I gained for the Word yet at the same time am starting to find I can’t stand listening to passages being so undertreated for the sake of “getting through the book”. Not to mention straight up mistreatments. It’s a wierd place to be in having been a part of CC for so long.

  5. Tom permalink

    I go to Calvary chapel in Melbourne, Fl. I have a problem when they say one church many places. They have one senior Pastor who teaches using video text to other 3 chapels instead of the local Pastors or teachers teaching.There is something wrong with this and I am asking others to comment.

    • randy permalink

      Tom- There are lots of churches doing this. I think it’s a combination of the celebrity pastor mentality and a very low view of what church actually is.

    • Anonymous permalink

      I left Calvary Chapel Melbourne nearly 2 yrs. ago. The model of the multi- site and their new logo is part of Rick Warren’s Purpose Driven Plan. Go to the library and check out the book “The Purpose Driven Church”. They are on the growth movement track and have been for some time. There are many issues with that church. As I started to look online for various resources and bible studies to help me at home, it was then I realized how badly they handle the Word of God in that particular church. There were many other issues as well. But, they are “off” in many areas. They have made the bible all about life principles and not about Christ. I could go on forever with the issues, no accountability for finances etc…we left and feel in some sense, the nearly 10 yrs. we attended there was a waste of valuable time. I’ve had to re-learn everything. I never realized how off I was in my belief systems. It has been eye opening to say the least. When I started to read books by men like Charles Spurgeon, Martin Luther, and the early church fathers, along with my bible, I was horrified to see how far the church has drifted from sound doctrine and theology. I pray you find a church you can call home, but I don’t even recommend anyone to attend there. I’ve lost friendships in the church for taking a stance on these issues.

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