As a semi-permanent staff member at Summit Ministries in Manitou Springs, CO, I have been planning on finding a surrogate home church to attend for the eight weeks that I will be here, just to add some sort of routine comfort to my life. I have grown up in Calvary Chapels. In California my parents were faithful members of Calvary Chapel Hanford (when we still met int he YMCA). I remember being led to Christ by the pastor there. My parents were both on the worship team, so I usually arrived early and stayed late, which had its advantages, including being given rides on the dollies by those setting up and taking down the stage every Sunday and getting to partake of some of the donuts reserved for the ministry leaders. Those eight years were glorious in the eyes of a young child and, occasionally, I still find myself nostalgically revelling in the memories of those good times.
So, when our family moved to Memphis in ’97, it was only natural that we would seek out the nearest Calvary Chapel branch, which happened to be located in Bartlett. I don’t want to turn this into a criticism of any institution or of its leaders, but I became somewhat discouraged and disillusioned and decided to leave. Since then my loyalties to the CC “denomination” have been slim at best. I miss the community I had at Hanford and was dismayed that I had not been able to find an adequate replacement.
To bring this long reverie back to the present, I discovered that there was a Calvary Chapel located in Colorado Springs called the Rocky Mountain Calvary Chapel. I decided to attend. The name was familiar, and I at least had some knowledge of what to expect (and I knew I could get away with wearing jeans and a t-shirt). I don’t want to give judgment prematurely, as I have only attended one Sunday morning service, but I felt so totally refreshed and strengthened after this morning’s service. The praise and worship was led by a group of four guys – two acoustics, one percussionist, and one singer. They played with skill and style, yet also kept the sound clean, uncluttered and not distracting. What was the clincher for me, however, was the pastor and his message. It was actually quite ironic, as he happened to be teaching on Romans 8:28, a passage that I had just finished being taught by my reformed pastor back home in Tennessee, so I was quite excited to witness the contrasts in interpretation.
Surprisingly, though, the messages were quite similar. The RMC pastor broke down verses 28-32 into three sections – Confidence in all things working for good for believers (vs. 28), Confidence in the calling, foreknowledge and choosing of the elect by God (vs. 29-30), and Confidence in God’s love (vs. 31-32).
For treatment of the verses 29-30 he explained:
- the Bible teaches predestination, foreknowledge, and God’s choosing of His elect before the foundations of the world
- the Bible also teaches that man has the responsibility of choice
- there is an ongoing debate on the weight of each of these two points known as Calvinism and Armenianism
- both are taught in Scripture, so he will stand on Scripture and believe both rather than pick one or the other and try to fit God into his finite intellect, “because if God can fit inside my intellect, then He is too small to be worshipped”
- he is not dismayed that God chose and drew certain men to Him, but rather overwhelmed that God would choose him or anyone to be saved!
I will let all my CC friends decide what they think about that, but it has always been my impression that the CC camp has always been ardently Armenian, with no exception, so it was very refreshing to hear from a pastor that allows for both views. Also, although we are instructed to seek after the things of God and train ourselves to be discerning and knowledgable, I agree that we need to remember that we are finite creatures crafted by an infinite God, and we need to allow for the fact that we may never know exactly how certain details of God’s sovereignty and providence work out in the moral responsiblities of man. Needless to say, I have a feeling that the existence of this church will make it even harder for me to leave CO and return to the wild and woeful desolation that is Mississippi.