My dad passed.
Dad remains a giant of Christianity (though like many of the giants, toiled in relative obscurity) and the more you knew him, the more you’ll understand while he’ll enjoy his promotion, we’re deprived of more leadership than you can imagine.
I’ve thought much recently about the giants we’ve lost. Besides dad, Walter Martin, the Chucks (Smith and Missler), and what each taught.
- Walter Martin — earnestly contend for the faith.
- Chuck Smith — teach the Word and reach the lost — even those completely different from yourself.
- Chuck Missler — science itself proves the God of the Bible exists.
- Dad — If we agree on the basics, don’t divide over (his word) “fluff” issues.
You might not have known dad’s message, but I’d lost count of the times he said about something that’s a fluff issue, not important (doesn’t mean a right or wrong answer doesn’t exist though) so don’t divide over it. We grew up in a Presbyterian church, and attended others as well — some non-denominational, but over the decades other denominations as well.
I recall when Chuck Smith set up the tent in Costa Mesa dad wanted to know what was going on; he certainly had disagreement with Chuck on at least one area (those who know dad know exactly what that is), but in the end said Chuck was a good guy (because what they didn’t agree on was, well, fluff).
I always wondered how we could attend so many doctrinally different groups. It wasn’t until years later dad related his “fluff” principal, and then I understood. Character, integrity, and accepting Jesus as savior mattered to dad, and frankly not much else. I could relate stories about dad’s interaction with people he disagreed with (strongly if you know dad), but still considered friends.
I’ve noticed each of our recent giants of the faith passed when what they were trying to teach the world and the church desperately tried to ignore, and later openly rejected.
- Walter Martin — as cults, liberal theology and other garbage rose, Walter’s voice remains a stern warning against “modernizing” the church, and listening to old messages from him he’d certainly be shocked at what passes for the church now.
- Chuck Smith — Nobody wants to teach the Bible, and those that do … frequently ignore the lessons therein. Since Chuck’s passing, I no longer recognize Calvary Chapel as it strays from what he founded. I recall the last time I spoke to him in Costa Mesa, and his demeanor and attitude hadn’t wavered.
- Chuck Missler — science and the Bible? Nope. Open hostility to science exists today, and that’s sad, as a stunning creation exists just waiting for science to discover.
- Dad — Fluff? That’s now most important. True, since the first century Christians have divided over stupid issues (pre-trib, Calvinism, baptism, ad nauseam) but division, anger, and strife over silly trivial issues waxes worse not better, and the dawn of the pandemic age (2020–2021) only intensified the desire of some “pastors” to increase division.
Examples abound for stupid, silly, and trivial ideas to divide over:
- A friend of mine once related a story upon her first visit to a church they stopped her at the door and asked if see was a Calvinist … for only Calvinists could fellowship there.
- Dad once related a guy told him when he read the Bible, he would put toss it back on the coffee table, but when he read the KJV, he reverently gently placed it down.
- I heard a guy say can someone really be saved if you’re witnessing and didn’t use the King James Version?
- COVID and when/how the church meets (remote meeting via Zoom doesn’t count, it must be in person no matter what), basic sanitization, protecting the flock from a pandemic, etc (and banishing people not agreeing).
For myself, you wouldn’t believe some of the hatred I’ve received over the years (most of it from “Christians” … atheists generally showed more respect, at least to me) on many of the so-called vital issues Christians divide over — baptism, Calvinism vs free will, pre-trib, science, math, COVID, and other nonsense (i.e. “fluff”).
It seems the Church forgot (or willfully cast aside) what Paul taught:
Moreover, brethren, I declare unto you the gospel which I preached unto you, which also ye have received, and wherein ye stand; … For I delivered unto you first of all that which I also received, how that Christ died for our sins according to the scriptures; And that he was buried, and that he rose again the third day according to the scriptures …
That’s it. That’s the Gospel. That’s the definition of Christian. All else has (and always will be) … fluff. If you agree on that (and the Bible is the inspired inerrant Word of God), we’re together. Sadly, often in the church today you have to be a “D” or “R”, a Calvinist (or not), reject healthcare in a pandemic, and other silly side issues having nothing to do with foundational doctrine.
I regret not being bolder on what dad taught, but as Elisha took up Elijah’s mantle, I’ll try and pick up dad’s. Let’s focus on the Gospel, not idiotic side issues.
A theory exists called Strauss–Howe generational theory, where societies traverse through four stages — the last being a crisis, as people forget the concepts and ideas from previous generations. At that point society either fixes the problems or sinks down.
The church differs not. As great leaders of the church have passed in recent decades, the church faces its own fourth turning crisis, as the lessons from those leaders are forgotten, or worse, willfully abandoned. As the dawn of the pandemic age (2020—2021) proved, many pastors willfully and proudly abandoned previous rock-solid principles, such as love for people, as the church enters its own fourth-turning crisis.
The question: will the church and its pastors repent and turn back to basic principles, or proudly continue down the path of hypocrisy?
Since Chuck Smith’s passing in 2013, Calvary Chapel and the denomination Chuck founded abandoned ideas he built on. Many are proud they’ve abandoned Chuck’s foundation, and simply searching “Calvary Chapel COVID” shows what some of the church embraced instead of ministry; like most denominations, it continues drifting far from where it began, resembling the original in name only.
Dad tried to warn us about the church dividing over stupid issues. I’ve seen that warning be both heeded, and sadly, ignored. We’re repeating the mistakes of Judges as the great church leaders pass on.
In those days there was no king in Israel: every man did that which was right in his own eyes.
The only thing we learn from church history is the church fails to learn from history.
After someone passes, frequently discussion turns to how can we honor and respect them? What to put on the headstone, flowery words at the funeral, notices in the newspaper — all miss the mark.
No, true honor is none of those. It’s do you maintain their example, or ignore it?
Hypocrisy is standing in the pulpit on Sunday saying we’re going to honor someone’s legacy … while ignoring his teaching and example.
Why can’t people just be honest?
We want to take our church in a different direction, so whatever from our foundations we don’t like we’ll ignore, and anyone not agreeing with these new political positions will be asked to leave.
We don’t want to follow foundational church doctrine, and don’t want to contend for the faith once for all delivered to the saints so we’ll ignore Walter Martin and his warnings regarding “modernizing” the church.
Science? We’re anti-science so ignore what Missler taught and revealed, rejecting science, math, rational thinking, and logic.
And we’ll specifically focus (and divide over) fluff issues like politics (and pandemics), and banish anyone holding different views, after all politics must have priority over ministry and Paul’s teaching.
It would be refreshing to see people be honest and admit they’re rejecting what they say they follow.
Dad’s most important lesson? It’s all fluff … focus on 1 Corinthians 15. If you get that right, other minor points are just that. Minor.
… at 3am or any other time.