An LA Times Obituary on Pastor Chuck Smith, the founder of the Calvary Chapel movement

Posted by Kendall Harmon

In his church office, pastor Chuck Smith kept a crown made of thorns and a jar full of candy. The thorns were from the Holy Land. The candy was for his grandkids. The image suggested his special appeal as a preacher: A harsh, old-school Christianity delivered with grandfatherly sweetness.

Smith, the founder of the Jesus People and the Calvary Chapel movement, and one of the most influential figures in modern American Christianity, died Thursday morning at his home in Newport Beach after a two-year battle with lung cancer, church officials said. He was 86.

"He was definitely a pioneer," said Donald E. Miller, a professor of religion at USC. "He had a transformative impact on Protestantism."

Read it all.

Filed under: * Christian Life / Church LifeParish MinistryDeath / Burial / FuneralsMinistry of the Ordained* Culture-WatchHistoryReligion & Culture* International News & CommentaryAmerica/U.S.A.* Religion News & CommentaryOther ChurchesEvangelicals

Posted October 15, 2013 at 6:31 am [Printer Friendly] [Print w/ comments]

1. New Reformation Advocate wrote:

What this obit doesn’t mention is the extremely important role that a distincitive and innovative music style played at Chuck Smith’s church.  Love Song was a smash hit with the young hippie types who flocked to Calvary Chapel, and the Maranatha label that emerged represented a winsome soft-rock musical style that captivated countless Christians (and non-Christians or not-yet-believers) of multiple generations and backgrounds.  I remember well the tremendous appeal it had for me as a teenager and twenty-something in the 1970s.

One final comment.  Even though Chuck Smith loathed the idea that his movement might crystalize and harden into a denomination, and the leaders of the Calvary Chapel phenomenon did their best to resist such institutionalization, the fact is that the many hundreds of Calvary Churches across North America are in fact a denomination now.  The same with John Wimber and the Vineyard movement.  Even anti-denominational (or proudly “post-denominational” ones) groups can’t survive and propogate themselves over time and distance without becoming institutionalized and thus denominations in reality.  Just look at the Campbellite movement.  Alexandder Campbell strove mightily to keep his movement from morphing into yet another Protestant denomination.  But today, his spritiual descendants have become a plethora of related denominations:  from the best known “The Christian Church (Disciples of Christ)” and the various forms of “The Church of Christ” (instrumental and non-instrumental) to the less knwon more conservative varieties of “The Christian Church.” 

But the reality was that Chuck Smith was unique.  Though often immitated by his many admirers who tried to copy his example, Chuck Smith just couldn’t be cloned.  Just like Rick Warren, or Bill Hybels, or Greg Laurie, or Nicky Gumble, etc., etc., can’t (and shouldn’t) be cloned.  We each must fulfill the unique calling that we have received from Christ.

But I thank God for the remarkable, faithful life and witness of his anointed (but flawed) servant, Churck Smith.

David Handy+

October 15, 10:37 am | [comment link]
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