Calvary Chapel Recalls Chuck Smith’s Book / Drops Purpose Driven Materials

Orginally published on Monday, June 19, 2006 at 1:27 AM
by Todd Rhoades

According to a release on the Calvary Chapel Distribution website, a 'recall' of Pastor Chuck Smith's book "When Storms Come" has been issued because of it's mention and support of Rick Warren's "Purpose Driven" movement. According to the release, the founder of Calvary Chapel's book is being recalled due to "issues with content and packaging"...

On the same webpage it says, “The teaching and positions of Rick Warren have come into conflict with us as Calvary Chapel.  Pastor Chuck has directed us to discontinue this product effective immediately.”

Any Calvary Chapelites want to chime in on this one?  What was the final straw for Chuck here?  He evidently endorsed PD in his book (that’s now recalled).  What theological error caused Calvary to break the tie?  What has Rick Warren done differently here lately that would cause this action?  Just wondering, because I have no idea.

Oh… and before anyone chimes in to say that CC’s are just being true to the Word, remember that CC has some issues of it’s own internally here lately… most recently the CC Albuquerque situation, and the current legal fight over the CC radio network.  There are many fine CC pastors and churches to be sure; but just like everyone else, they have their problems and issues.

Back to the subject at hand… what’s behind this?


[Special thanks to Dave Zierenberg for the link!]

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 TRACKBACKS: (1) There are 139 Comments:

  • Posted by Pastor Todd

    I am also very interested in what might have been the reason as well.

    Thanks Todd for trying to keep us informed.

    Todd M.

  • Posted by kent

    Two things -

    First congratulations on the new website, you have put in a tremendous amount of work on this. It looks great.

    Secondly, I am unaware of any major theological error of the PD movement. I do not understand the internal conflicts in the kingdom of God. What is it about our inability to support and work with one another?

  • Posted by Randy Ehle

    I almost hate to do this on the launch day of this great new site, but I’ve got a big concern here, Todd:  You are specifically and intentionally inviting speculation.  I, too, would be interested in knowing what’s behind this CC/PD “rift”, but I’m not sure this is the best way to go about it.

    That said, I remain convinced that you are offering a great service to the Christian leadership community here at MMI, and I pray that God will bless your efforts and the ministries of those who participate here.

  • Posted by

    Thanks, Randy… I understand your concern.  I don’t want (and really wasn’t asking people to speculate)… but I would like to know from someone who knows what the straw was the broke the camel’s back.

    I surely don’t want this to become a gossip board; but when something is newsworthy, I hope we can discuss it without becoming scandalous about it.  smile


  • Posted by

    Randy, I think you are right if people (like me) would weigh in and speculate or jump to the defense of RW or jump in to bash the RW detractors - cause I simply don’t know what “teachings and positions of RW have come into conflict with the CC.”

    On the other hand, there are people (like me) who respect both RW and Chuck Smith.  For that reason I’m really curious about what now, so many years after PDL has been out and CS has supported RW, has caused CC and CS to make this decision. 

    Heretofore I’ve not heard from anything from the RW detractors that I find holds up as doctrinal or theological error.  Apparently neither did Chuck Smith until now.  I’m left wondering if there is something new from RW or PDL that we need to know about.


  • Posted by

    Thanks, Wendi… and I think that by releasing a vague statement like they did, CC is almost inviting speculation (which is not good).


  • Posted by K c

    Go to the following link for possible info and insight into Chuck Smith and recall of book.


  • Posted by

    KC -

    The only thing on the link you gave us about the CC decision is this . . .

    [Both Purpose Driven and the emerging church promote contemplative spirituality, which is a belief system that is contrary to biblical Christianity. Popular authors such as Richard Foster, Brian McLaren, Rick Warren, Henri Nouwen, Brennan Manning and many others teach contemplative spirituality (also known as spiritual formation) ]

    . . . which of course is nothing.  Where, specifically is the theological problem that is contrary to historic Christian orthodoxy?  I’ve still not heard it.

    BTW - what are we to do about all the great church fathers who were monastics and contemplatives, and have offered us some of our richest theology.  Or . . . about all the great (and fundamental and conservative) seminaries that have “spiritual formation” departments.

    Oh the danger of generalization . . .



  • Posted by

    It is difficult when leadership makes decisions that don’t seem logical.  As a pastor, I am asked questions about decisions and statements made by Christian leaders, and its tough to come up with sensible answers.

  • Posted by Randy Ehle

    Here is an undated position paper in which Calvary Chapel seeks to distance itself from the emerging church movement, but says nothing of Rick Warren.  http://www3.calvarychapel.com/ccof2/parsontoparson.pdf

  • Posted by tiber jumper

    “Jesus said “ I pray that they may be one.....”

  • Posted by

    I�m saddened by this CC position paper, because like so much of the criticism against the emergent / seeker church it totally generalizes and lumps all kinds of churches into one heretical category without any evidence that any particular church should be categorized as such.  Worst of all, it encourages Christians to judge wrongly and without evidence, other churches and pastors as �false teachers� (pg. 2, par. 4) anyone who reads a book by Brian McLaren or uses ministry methods sensitive toward seekers.  It implies that having discussions with homosexuals or Muslims means condoning sin or attending a Yoga class is heretical.  It breeds arrogance. 

    I guess this distances CC from RW also based on the comments against �seeker sensitive churches.� But I sure wish that someone would point out the errant theology rather than generalizing or calling methodology theology (which it is not).

    I remain confused though about what happened.  Did Chuck Smith at one time advocate RW and PDL and now change his mind?  RW has always been using the same methods and with the same message.  What�s changed? 


  • Posted by

    It’s been asked twice about the errant theology… will this discussion be allowed?

  • Posted by

    Oops . . . sorry I asked about errant theology.  We’ve heard all that before.

    What I really do want to know is why . . . all of a sudden . . . after selling PDL on their through their resources since it was published . . . has Calvary Chapel just now decided that there is a problem?

    Who changed?  Calvary Chapel or RW?  What happened?  Are there any Calvary Chapelites who know something?  I searched all over their websites and there is no indication of anything that we haven’t heard from the anti-PDL folks all along.


  • Posted by

    Well said, Wendi.  I agree that CC is confusing methodology with theology.  There are many seeker-sensitive and emergent churches that are not compromising the Gospel or questioning the inerrancy of scripture.  As Leonard Sweet says, the pure water of the Word should remain unpolluted and unchanged.  But the containers that hold the water can change with each successive generation (paraphrase).  You can change methodology without compromising theology.  CC’s position paper says they are a movement, not a denomination.  I think that was once true, but now they are closer to a denomination than they think.  A few decades ago Chuck Smith led a movement that went against the tide of what mainstream churches were doing.  I’m sorry that he is now opposed to others who would do the same.

  • Posted by eric

    Those of us who are on the progressive side of church methodology would be wise to recognize that medium and message are not always separated. In fact, many time the medium IS the message. The medium also affects how the message is understood and recieved.

    I also have to hold this in tension with the movement of culture.

    But I guess this is a something for the Forums, so I will move this there.

  • Posted by Jeff

    I guess that “according to CC” Spiritual Formation is not Biblical.  I would like to know what is Biblical?

  • Posted by

    Not mentioned in the above story is that Chuck has asked any CC churches who adopt “emergent” ideas to drop CC from their name.  Those who have taken him up on that include his son Chuck Smith Jr. 

    I spent some time this weekend with a man who was involved in the earliest days of CC and the larger “Jesus People” movement.  He has stayed prominent in the SoCal and national ministry scene.  Many of you would know his name and his work, though I don�t feel free to identify him further.  But look for him in an upcoming reunion of an old Christian band -grin-

    He stays on top of church issues and has attended some Emergent conferences.  He’s currently involved in a non-CC church led by a very well known pastor who is close enough to the CC scene to have a regular spot on CSN radio. 

    In our discussion about CC’s position paper regarding RW and Emergent, this guy just shook his head and said it’s deja-vu all over again, because Chuck is sounding an awful lot like all the folks who condemned CC in the early days.  It seems we just keep repeating ourselves. 

    Another person who was in on the discussion had recently gone through CC’s 2 year Bible School in preparation for CC ministry.  When Chuck Jr,s name came up, he said “Well, he’s been using candles and stuff like that lately.” Further discussion brought up spirituality (I must not understand what that means, ‘cause it doesn’t sound bad to me) contemplative prayer, labyrinths, incense and other apparently dangerous stuff.

    A few minutes ago, over on the story about �inclusive language� and the PCUSA, I posted some comments about a possible split in that denomination and a split in progress in another denomination.  Congregations leaving CC kind of qualifies for a third denominational split.  Then we have all the trouble in the Episcopal Church.  Seems like everyone is dividing except the Independents � and they don�t have an organization to split from.  What�s going on?

  • Posted by

    I might be able to shed some light on the split between CC & PDL...we were part of a CC that adopted the PD program about 4 years ago.  At first, we went along with the “program”, although we wondered why a CC would be adopting a program as this is against one of the Calvary Chapel Distinctives.  Over time, the watered down, sappy sermons bored us - and left as empty and hungry for God’s truth - and we sought some real, biblical teaching outside of our home church.  Every bible study at our old church had been converted to a small group - and taught only from Rick Warren’s books.  Even the sermons were downloaded from pastors.com and fed to us as if our pastor had written them himself.  Every member of the church was required to take a “Basic Christianity 101” course - even if you had been a member for many, many years.  The only “purpose” of this class that I could discern was to get everyone to sign the new “membership covenant”, also against CC general policy, so that it could be used as a disciplinary instrument later on.  Those members who did not have a clear conscience about signing the membership covenant were quietly, over time, removed from positions of leadership in the church.  Finally, when we asked some questions about what was going on - and why we were not following what CC generally supported and believed...we were invited to leave.

    Now - what happened with us - could happen with ANY church - that’s how PDC operates - it takes over the church.  Even Warren calls his program replacing the “CPU” of the church, the operating system.  That’s a major change. 

  • Posted by

    Ex-PDC Member,

    Actually, there is no ‘PDC program’ as you describe, and if you actually read “The Purpose Driven Church” which Rick’s structure of ministry comes from, you’ll find that it’s merely a listing of different areas of ministry in the church.  It’s really nothing all that ground-breaking.

    As far as Rick and his ‘program’ taking over your church, I’m not sure what to say.  I hear this same line (or I should say I’ve read this same line) on every anti-Rick Warren site I’ve seen.  Quite honestly, I’ve never seen it happen (but I’ve seen people get honked off and leave because they perceive things have changed).

    I’m sorry you were asked to leave your church.  I’m sorry your church changed.  But I’m guessing it was because of something much deeper than because of Rick’s teaching invading your church.

    Was your church growing during this time?  Was there an increased activity to reach the lost with the gospel message?  I don’t know… I’m just wondering.  Because this seems to rattle some of the old faithful at some churches.  Then, they tend argue that everything is watered-down, sappy and boring; when in reality people are coming to Christ.

    So… really, this doesn’t give much more insight into why CC made the decision to break ties with PD.  When it comes to down to the bottom line, our loyalty shouldn’t be to CC or PD; but to scripture; and I think both movements have been as faithful as possible to doing that.

    My opinion only,


  • Posted by

    Dear Todd -

    Please do some more research.  I wish my experience were rare.  Unfortunately, it is happening over and over again - and as the PDC program matures - everyone will see the fruit.  Rick Warren uses a book called “Transitioning” by Dan Southerland which explains more about the actual implementation of his program.  And yes, I have read the PDC book and the PDL book.  I strongly recommend a new book by Bob DeWaay, “Redefining Christianity”.

    One common reaction as problems come up - is to blame or point the finger at the people or church members who question the program - no matter how gently or scripturally they do it.  At some point, we should question the program itself.  And BTW - I welcomed new members heartily - one reason I went along with the changes we had for several years before asking questions.  I do not object to “change” - but what is our goal?  Change for change sake is not always good.  What are we changing toward? 

    My former church has collapsed like a puffed up piece of dough.  At the beginning, the church doubled in size with all the props of PDL.  We had more bottoms in seats - but no real converts except as I witnessed above.  But as the more mature members of the congregation left - some quietly, some after speaking to the pastor, some forcefully expelled, the structure of the church fell.  Paul calls us members of a body in Corinthians.  What happens if we chop off a toe - or a finger - or an ear?  The church might limp for a while - but when more and more body parts are amputated....

    And as far as removing members from a church - or driving them out - who gave any pastor the right to decide who should belong - and who not?  Shouldn’t such judgement be left to God?  Here is a recent article from Rick Warren’s pastors toolbox which should shed some more light:  http://www.pastors.com/RWMT/?id=263&artid=4533&expand=1 .  Who did the judging - and removing of members even in Rick Warren’s example?  And what were they judged for - unbelief in God - or lack of support of Moses?

  • Posted by Todd Rhoades

    We’ll have to agree to disagree on this one, I guess.  I don’t want to stray too much from the original intent of the article; and definitely don’t want to go in to a treatise or defense of PD.  (We’ve been there, done that there).

    There is no doubt that some people have not taken a liking to PD; and some churches (yours included) suffered because of leadership or whatever.  I’m not sure why, to be honest.  Maybe it’s the leadership that are implementing the change; maybe it’s some of the changes itself being different whan what churches are used to; but there will always be casualties.  There are many churches who have had tremendous success where some have failed miserably.  It’s not that easy to put your finger on.

    I do hope that you’ve found someplace that you can worship freely.


  • Posted by

    Dear Todd -

    Thank you for listening.  And I, too, can agree to disagree.  The truth will show in the end, so to speak.  I have found a church home in a Calvary Chapel that is not PD.  My prayer is that all Calvary Chapels would forsake PD - or change their affiliation.  If a church wants to be purpose driven, then let them come under the mantle of Saddleback Church - and call themselves what they are - not hide under a different name.

    As far as the leader not implementing the program properly, my former leader was weak in that he had probably been downloading sermons for a while - from other sources before pastors.com.  Maybe he was lazy, insecure, whatever.  He had been using books to substitute for studying the bible itself in our small groups and in his counseling, too.  The road of compromise is paved with good intentions as they say.  But I suspect, many other pastors are on the same road....When did God’s Word lose its power to change our lives?

    When believers get tired of hula skirts, superman costumes, and other entertainment substituting for the gospel, when they desire and need to hear what God’s Word teaches in whole not in part, I pray that they will find a faithful church.

  • Posted by eric

    I think EX-PDC member may have a point. If you are going to be PD, call yourself PD. If you are going to be CC call yourself CC and live by that.

    There does need to be times where churches innovate and learn from others, but denominations and associations have certain distinctives their adherents should maitain. I don’t mean they should follow without thinking things through or follow into heresy. But, a denomination or association has a right to say, this is what we believe and how our churches should act, and then expect them to live within those boundaries.

    Churches are part of a denomination or association because they like the philosophy of ministry, the distinctives, the culture of that particular association. If they cease to like that, then they should cease to call themselves by that associations name.

    I believe this, so I left a particular denomination. (I also believe it was God opening doors and leading me elsewhere).

  • Hello,
    I am the editor of Lighthouse Trails Research Project. We issued the original press release on Chuck Smith’s book, When Storms Come. The book was recalled because an editor inserted New Age/contemplative language into the book, unbeknownst to Chuck Smith. The book recall actually had nothing to do with Rick Warren or Purpose Driven. However, Calvary Chapel decided to drop all Purpose Driven materials and announced that at the same time as their recall notice on When Storms Come. One of the reasons we believe they have dropped PDL is because of Rick Warren’s connections and promotion of the emerging church and contemplative spirituality. You may view our press releases for more information. You may visit our website http://www.lighthousetrailsresearch.com to learn why the contemplative prayer movement (spiritual formation) and the emerging church movement are both promoting New Age/Eastern practices that are contrary to the Word of God and negate the gospel of Jesus Christ. Calvary Chapel, in their denouncement of the emerging church and contemplative had to include PDL in this rejection because all three promote the same thing. If anyone has questions, you may email me at . Thank you for your time.

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