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Choose your Chuck

I spent most of my teenage years growing up in Calvary Chapel, so the name Chuck Smith was quite familiar to me, though I’ve never met the fellow. He’s well known as one of the innovators in the “New Paradigm” church movment from the 1970′s. He founded the Jesus People movement (or at least played a big role in it) and was instrumental to opening up the church to people on the margins of society at the time.

However, permeating Chuck Smith’s ministry and the Calvary Chapel movement as a whole there remained a somewhat entrenched form of fundamentalism. At its core, despite its missional or progressive clothing, the crucial issues for Chuck Smith and Calvary Chapel have always been the standard evangelical hot buttons: abortion, homosexuality, prayer in schools, biblical inerrancy, eternal torment, dispensational, pre-trib eschatology, etc.

Now, having this background and having moved quite a bit in another direction in my own Christian life (see my ‘Am I an Evangelical?’ series), it interested me greatly to see this article in the L.A. Times comparing and contrasting Chuck Smith with his son, Chuck Smith, Jr., also a pastor and for a long time also a Calvary Chapel pastor.

I won’t duplicate the contents of the article here, but I must say that I was struck by the humility and vulnerablity of the younger Smith (and more impressed with his book selection). I think both father and son should be commended for how they have handled their relationship and allowed their differences to be ok. However, when I look at the differences between the two of them, I am greatly moved by how Smith Jr.’s life bears much more of a cruciform and humble character. All pastors should find something to learn in his humility and care for his congregation.


  1. R.O. Flyer wrote:

    thanks, halden. good article.

    Tuesday, November 28, 2006 at 2:26 am | Permalink
  2. a. steward wrote:

    That’s a great article. I feel some similar confusion about a lot of things from the very formative years that I spent at a pentecostal church in high school. You should check out last week’s This American Life. Its called “Heritics,” and is about what happens to the pastor of a 5,000 member church when he stops believing in hell. It’s a good story, and an amazing piece of radio documentary to boot.

    Wednesday, November 29, 2006 at 11:53 pm | Permalink

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