Calvary Chapel’s Steady Slide Into Apostasy
In 1965 Chuck Smith founded what is now known as Calvary Chapel. The 1960’s were a tumultuous time in America. The Vietnam War was at its peak; the Cold War was still raging on; people were on edge following the Cuban Missile Crisis of 1962, and the youth were rebelling. Hippies began protesting the “establishment” and advocating “free love” and experimental drug use. These directionless youth were, perhaps providentially, being primed for someone to lead them.
Calvary Chapel began with 25 people and has blossomed into a network of 1700 independent Calvary Chapels. Shortly after Smith began his bible study he was introduced to Lonnie Frisbee, who impressed Smith with his charisma. Frisbee was a long-haired, radical hippie and Jesus look-a-like who mentored the likes of Harvest Crusade’s Greg Laurie. Frisbee’s Jesus-like locks, and his connections to the hippie world meant growth for Calvary Chapel. By 1968, Frisbee was a leader within the Calvary Chapel movement, and by 1971 the Jesus Movement was well underway; influencing pop culture to the extent that Elton John made reference to “Jesus freaks” in his song Tiny Dancer. Frisbee and Smith were a dynamic team and arguably two of the most influential players in the Jesus Movement, yet in 1971 they parted ways due to Smith’s reluctance to embrace Frisbee’s enthusiasm for experience-based signs and wonders. Smith was known for being a verse by verse bible teacher, and rightly concluded that an emphasis on experience was dangerous; even coining the term “charismania”. This verse by verse emphasis generally continued throughout the Calvary Chapel movement, however, in recent years especially, there have been many egregious errors.
After Smith’s passing in late 2013, his son in law Brian Broderson took over the Costa Mesa operation (the Mecca of Calvary Chapel’s). Broderson has aligned himself with several emergent heretics, from Nicky Gumbel to Rick Warren. Of course, Broderson isn’t the only Calvary Chapel pastor to head down a dark path. Bob Coy resigned from Calvary Chapel Ft. Lauderdale after being caught in adultery. Calvary Chapel Kendall’s Pedro Garcia quietly made his church a “Hillsong Family” church, submitting to their heretical network. Not long after, Pedro was removed due to “lifestyle choices”. It’s a sad day when a church that covered up pedophilia for decades removes you. I wonder what he did. Calvary Chapel Golden Spring’s pastor Raul Ries has allowed his degenerate son, Ryan, to not only serve in the church (ah… shameless nepotism), but has left his heretical endorsements unaddressed. Ryan is good friends with and promoter of Brian “Head” Welch, whom “God has led” back into the satanic band Korn, according to him. I thought God did not tempt anyone with evil. Maybe I missed something. Ryan also recently attended the Azusa Now apostasy gathering which included Lou Engle literally kissing the feet of a catholic priest. Ryan’s thoughts on that? ….“beyond epic”. On an “epic” note, I would encourage you to look at the official IRS 990 documents showing Raul Ries’ $500,000.00 per/year salary (not uncommon for mega church pastors). That’s epic… and might I add, thoroughly consistent with the biblical model… isn’t it?
Well, the plot thickens. I used to attend Calvary of Albuquerque, headed by pastor and CEO Skip Heitzig. Skip studied under Chuck Smith, and later came to Albuquerque to start his big business, and boy did he. With an average weekly attendance of 13,000, and friends like Franklin Graham; they have tremendous influence. For 3 years I was heavily involved here early in my christian walk, and was the leader of an apologetics ministry through their college group. Being at the church 3 days a week if not more was regular for me, and I saw first-hand the boyish and nepotistic nature of these guys. Skip had an assistant pastor named Chip. Skip and Chip (sounds like a cartoon); both employed their sons Nate and Jesse to “pastor”. Chip Lusko is also father to fledgling heretic Levi Lusko, who has received the coveted Passion Conference invitation 2 years in a row. Levi has also embraced the Alpha Course’s Nicky Gumbel, Steven Furtick, Carl Lentz, Ed Young Jr., and recently spoke with Joyce Meyer.
I regularly attended a bible study on Wednesday mornings with a man named Sam Garcia. Sam is both a bible study leader and the head of web development for Calvary Albuquerque. I left Calvary Chapel in 2012, but given my association with Sam, thought it fit to warn him of Levi Lusko’s heretical associations, given that Calvary still hosts Levi, and promotes his material. Levi is a good friend to all things Calvary Chapel as well as Greg Laurie and others. Truly hoping Sam would listen, I detailed Levi’s compromise over the last few years and showed that he was in sin by “mere” virtue of his promotion of false teachers. Here is what Calvary Chapel’s bible study “teacher” said to me.
“..to judge Levi Lusko as spiritually “dangerous” simply because you deemed Steven Furtick, Carl Lentz, John Piper, Beth Moore, Christine Caine, Rick Warren, Louie Giglio, Joyce Meyer, Joel Osteen and Brian Houston as dangerous. This simply tells me that you purport yourself to be a Berean but are the furthest thing from it. It is clear to me that you’ve never heard teachings from these people, but judge them as false teachers, prosperity teachers, or spiritually dangerous without ever having heard them.”
He then goes on to say,
“I encourage you to look at the extremely fruitful ministries of Steven Furtick, Carl Lentz, John Piper, Beth Moore, Christine Caine, Rick Warren, Louie Giglio, Joyce Meyer, Joel Osteen and Brian Houston.”
That’s right, folks; pope lover Rick Warren is a “fruitful” minister, according to Sam. If you had any doubt, this man told me that Joyce Meyer and Joel Osteen were “EXTREMELY frutiful” ministers. Joel Osteen? This is the, “fill out your name” part of the test. Even Benny Hinn rebuked Joel Osteen….BENNY HINN; the other false teacher!! Any dunce with a shirt on can tell that Mr. “discover the champion in you” is a fraud. When a false teacher can spot a false teacher better than you, something is severely wrong. I still can’t believe what he wrote. Is this what Calvary Chapel has become? YES.
Skip still allows Rick Warren to be played on their radio station, Connection Radio, with no regard for his ecumenical agenda. On that note, Calvary’s second radio station, Star 88, was home to a weekly show called “Shock Therapy” where hipsters gathered to give advice that they are not qualified to give, as the questions are generally not related to hair gel or skinny jeans. On one such episode (2/4/2016), they began to promote contemplative prayer (@ 26:00min). These men are all employed by Calvary Chapel.
After receiving Sam’s shocking email, I sent an open letter addressed to as many Calvary Albuquerque “pastors” as I could, including their core group, asking if these statements were the held consensus of them and Skip personally. It has been over two months and I have yet to receive a response. This man says that Joel Osteen, Joyce Meyer, Rick Warren, Christine Caine, Beth Moore, etc. are “extremely fruitiful” ministers, and nobody has a response???
Ichabod. Coming soon, to a door near you… the dove has left the building.
P.S. Calvary Chapel is in the midst of a split, as Brian Broderson resigned from the Calvary Chapel Association.