Beware or fall – no double standards

At the end of Peter’s second letter he says these words.

You therefore, beloved, since you know this beforehand, beware lest you also fall from your own steadfastness, being led away with the error of the wicked; but grow in the grace and knowledge of our Lord and Savior Jesus Christ.

There seems to be a double standard that is becoming more prevalent these days (that’s what the picture of the sweet & sour pork is for, get it?). I was going to say “popular” but that’s not quite right. It just is and it’s disturbing. The double standard is this; stand up for truth but don’t be divisive. Declare what is right, what you are for, but don’t talk about what you are against and be divisive. It is as though the expectation is that by only talking about love, grace, mercy, and forgiveness we will build unity and grow, but if we walk about the dangers of false doctrines and unbiblical practices we no longer care about love, grace, mercy, and forgiveness, and we are divisive, closed minded anti-tradition traditionalists.

There seems to me to be an either/or mentality. You are either for things and are on the right track, or you are against things and on the wrong track. I believe the Bible teaches that we are to teach both. Both are required. One comment I read on a blog asked if we are on a journey, learning, growing, and loving, or if we are a guard on the wall of a fortress keeping the enemy out. The Biblical reality is that we are both. We are sojourners, we are pilgrims, we are nomads in this world. Not only that but we are in enemy territory. Our citizenship is not of this world. So while we are nomads on a journey we also post guards to keep from being robbed or killed. As shepherds we lead the sheep to green pastures while watching out for wolves. But what is happening now is some say we are either one other the other, and keeping guard and keeping the enemy out is bad and divisive.

This is what is playing out in the Calvary Chapel fellowship of churches as we speak. It concerns me. Why? Well, while it won’t effect me personally or the church I pastor, it will effect a lot of things, many we can’t see at this point. In some ways we are at a “proof is in the pudding” point. We are at that third generation point in CC. We have been riding on coat tails and it is soon going to be apparent if our momentum is in the Spirit or if it is in man, or in one man in particular. That man being Pastor Chuck Smith.

My point in discussing what I’m about to discuss isn’t about Pastor Chuck per se, rather it is about the reactions to various decisions he has made and opinions he has expressed. See, back in the day of the Jesus scene, Chuck was all about the love. Jesus wasn’t harsh and judgmental of sinners, He came to save them. He didn’t come for those who were well but those who were sick. This, the power of the Spirit in the life of the believer, and the end times were the main thrusts of Chuck’s preaching and teaching. They still are. As they should be. No question.

However, when some within CC rose up and were putting an emphasis on some practices, Chuck said, “That isn’t us. This is who we are. If you want to do that, you are free to go do that.” He didn’t condemn those who left, but he did teach what was right concerning those practices. Over the years Chuck also taught on doctrines and practices that weren’t Biblically sound. Word of faith, cults, the occult, etc. In all of this Chuck taught people the love, grace, mercy and forgiveness of God, how to love and serve one another, and he taught people what to watch out for.

Recently Pastor Chuck has taken some very public positions on some things that have been happening in the Christian community. Specifically, Rick Warren and the Purpose Driven books, the Emergent Church (with regard to the errant theology), he has been re-emphasizing the pre-trib rapture and literal millennium end times view, and has also been coming against strict Calvinism (the kind that goes beyond sovereign election and ignores man’s responsibility to choose).

Reactions in the CC community have run from blindly following to outright opposition. Those who blindly follow to do what Chuck does and say what Chuck says without considering the issue for themselves. I don’t think that’s a good thing. We shouldn’t just swallow anything from anyone no matter who it is or how much we respect them. Those who are outright oppositional seem to be saying that the only thing Chuck is about now is what he is against, that his legacy will be division and opposition. I think that’s ridiculous.

Peter’s warning to the beloved was, “Beware lest you also fall from your own steadfastness, being led away with the error of the wicked.” Beware. Watch out. Keep your guard up why? Because we are supposed to be steadfast and we might fall away from that. Not from salvation

NOTE – Somehow the ending of this post got erased. I remember writing it and posting it, and I think seeing it after it posted. But it isn’t there now. I don’t remember how it ended unfortunately. Al I can remember was that Peter tells us to both beware and to grow in the knowledge and grace of our Lord Jesus Christ. Doing one isn’t to the exclusion of the other. At times one may need to be emphasized, but that doesn’t mean the other has been abandoned. Sorry about the technical glitch.

  1. Corb,
    A fella asked me what I’d been learning lately, I told him “the older I get the more I know what I don’t want to do”.
    I think Chuck Smith has decided to clarify what he believes are essential strategies (distinctives) for developing a Calvary Chapel fellowship (implied: what is not). I wonder if this is the pathway to a denomination?

  2. KT – I have a friend who I will use as an illustration. Christian family. They rightly decided that the church they were going to was no longer on the right track so they went church shopping. It soon became apparent to them that it was not only important for them to have a list of things that a church was for, but also a list of things a church rejected. Why? Because churches and pastors can say that they believe in the historic, orthodox Christian faith and still teach and encourage things that are really contrary to God’s word.

    I think that this reality has been around for a while but no one wanted to acknowledge it. We have already arrived at the point where we need to define not only what we are for but what we reject because there are some many things out there being done under the banner of Christianity and church. Christians who decide that they need to find a new church are no longer looking for a healthy, well balanced church, they are looking for one that will, like Jesus, teach what is the truth and what isn’t. “But Jesus never turned people away.” True, but He did say and teach things that made people want to not be a part of what He was about. While He didn’t reject people, they did reject Him.

    As time goes on we I believe that we, as pastors and Christians, do need to become more specific as to what we believe on more issues. The inerrancy of scripture, young earth creationism, the perpetuity of the gifts, pre-trib/wrath rapture, etc.

    To me it is important for CC to define these things for the sake of integrity. But my identity as a pastor, our identity as a church doesn’t reside in CC. CC could crumble and we would still be who we are. So while this could be a pathway to a denomination, it doesn’t have to be.

  3. Corby,
    Perhaps it was the Lord protecting me .. as a member of the ‘saved in the 70’s’ crowd, life seemed more simple at the time. There were fellowships that were conservative, those into charismania, and then the cults, as defined by Dr. Walter Martin (Kingdom of the Cults), the preacher opposing bad doctrine of the day.. you knew what he was against, no doubt in anyone’s mind.
    A believer could fellowship, worship, and obey the Lord without concern for the alternate agendas.

  4. Kent – Interesting observation. That’s a good illustration of what I was saying to KT. Back in the day it was a lot more clear. Now it’s pretty muddy. Dr. Martin was an amazing guy and an amazing mind. He certainly took his fair share of flack for defending and evangelizing simultaneously.

  5. I wonder how much the increase availability of information has contributed to the muddy waters. When I got saved we had one Christian bookstore in town, now every Target, Walmart, Costco carries the Christian Best Sellers, and anyone with an opinion and a computer (including me) has a blog. When I was growing up Catholic I had no idea what other churches in town did or believed, now they all have web pages. I can’t help but have to make distinctions between what I am for and what I am against in light of all I’m exposed to.

  6. MaryAnn – Interesting observation. I think the availability, and perhaps the even more available misinformation, has had a tremendous impact. Like I said, you can read a church statement of faith online, but that doesn’t necessarily reflect the reality of what goes on there. You do some more research, find good an bad sources, next thing you know, you don’t know anything.

  7. Clara – Thank you for posting. I read you comment and decided that I’m going to need to delete it because (a) it is irrelevant to the point of this posting, and (2) takes the point of the post in a totally other direction that it doesn’t need to go. If we were discussing that particular theological viewpoint then maybe I would allow it. But since we aren’t, it doesn’t serve the goal of the posting. I have no problem with discussing that topic, I’m not filtering or censoring, I’m just trying to keep things on track. If we ever do get into that topic feel free to repost.

    Thank you again for participating. Post any time. I would ask, though, that whatever anyone posts, it be in line with the point of discussion. It doesn’t have to agree with the point, but it should be on the point. That’s all I’m saying.

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