The Calvary Chapel Chronicles: DNA, Part 1

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95 Responses

  1. Steven says:

    Michael,

    Thank you for this installment. I hope (perhaps in future installments), to see how Chuck Smith leaned he’s I’ll on the things he learned at LIFE.

    Independence, dispensational theology, music…these things seem self-explanatory, though.

  2. Martin Luther's Disciple says:

    Sister Aimee was a whackadoodle. The only thing Chuck Smith could learn there was personality based ministry.

  3. BrideofChrist says:

    Wow. I attended Calvary Chapel churches in Southern California for over 30 years and I had no idea that Chuck Smith started out under Aimme Semple Mcpherson. She is a very controversial figure with many scandals, mysteries, and multiple marriages . Just last month there was a fascinating article in the LA Times dedicated to her which told of the huge impact had had in both the Los Angeles area and the entire country . The article said that she was a flashy dresser, she socialized with Hollywood stars in LA nightclubs and was even accused of gaming her own kidnapping in order to cover up an affair with a fellow church worker. The police nearly charged her for initiating an investigation into her “fabricated” kidnapping . I thought I knew everything there was to know about Calvary Chapel and this shocks me. Calvary treats women so badly and I can’t help but wonder how Chuck Smith ever could have graduated from Aimee’s church’s university and then go on to found a church which limits women’s church participation in leadership so strictly. My daughter and her husband now live in Kid Angeles right in the same area where Aimee ‘s huge once was.

  4. Michael says:

    Thank you, Steven.

    MLD,

    Sister Aimee was a genius…and maybe the most important figure in the history of American evangelicalism.

  5. BrideofChrist says:

    ‘Aimee Sample Mcpherson: The LA Evangelist Who Built the First Megachurch’ at http://www.latimes.com/opinion/op-ed/la-oe-krist-aimee-semple-mcpherson

  6. Michael says:

    BrideofChrist,

    It’s hard for us today to get a handle on how large a figure Aimee Semple McPherson was.
    Think of a mix of Billy Graham and Beyonce…

  7. Martin Luther's Disciple says:

    Michael, your comment about Sister Aimee says much about evangelicalism. Charles Finney was very influential also. I doubt either were Christians. But they sure as heck could draw the crowds and get people excited.

  8. JM says:

    The Paul Cain entry on Wikipedia has been wiped of the fact that Chuck Smith was his campaign manager back before Smith took over CC. Chuck Smith’s Wikipedia entry is also wiped of his history with Paul Cain. There is a video of an interview with Paul Cain saying that Chuck Smith had worked for him. Further, there are reports that maintain Cain was present during at least one of the water baptisms down at Pirate’s Cove. That would mean that their association (and possibly Cain’s influence) lasted into the CC/Jesus Freak era.

    Why would that association be wiped?

    The reason Cain is important is that, there was always supernatural phenomena that followed him. Chuck liked that, but because of his background with the uber Pennecostal Four Squares–he lacked the discernment to identify the phenomena as unclean. This lack of discernment was to be a problem throughout his career.

    Cain had “visitations” from entities that were not sent from God. During two nights of a so-called Spiritual Warfare Conference in Anaheim, California in 1988, there was a large camera battery that blew out and on the next night, the phone system was blown out when no one was using it. Both events were caused by phenomena that have since been identified as those that occur with heavy demonic activity. Somehow electrical fields are affected at those times.

    Maybe there’s a reason others omit Paul Cain.

    All I know is that I am grateful that you did include that information in this first installment.

    Thank You Michael!!!

  9. JM says:

    CLARIFICATION: I did not mean that ALL supernatural phenomena are unclean. Obviously, the actions of the Holy Spirit are supernatural and yet, holy”and “clean”. In one comment above, I am only speaking of a counterfeit (Cain) that went unidentified because of a lack of discernment. I don’t think there was enough maturity to discern all sources of the supernatural during the height of the Jesus Movement. Some things that shouldn’t have slipped through did. I saw both.

  10. sue says:

    One thing we learned after attending Calvary Chapel for 20 years is there was no mention of Lonnie Frisbee and I heard he was the one that really got the Calgary Chapel movement moving and not Chuck.

  11. Michael says:

    JM,

    Thank you!

  12. Michael says:

    Sue,

    Lonnie Frisbee was vital to the beginning of the movement…but he could not have sustained it in any way.

  13. Michael says:

    MLD,

    Aimee was “morally challenged”….but history shows us that many of God’s people were and are.
    I don’t doubt her faith at all.
    My theological prejudices against Finney are such that I will properly leave the question of his eternal soul in God’s hands…

  14. Duane Arnold says:

    Michael,

    You’ve got the DNA just right. Aimee and the Foursquare were enormously important with regard to American (note I say “American”) Evangelicalism. That model has now been exported to the four corners of the world.

  15. Michael says:

    Thank you, Duane!

  16. Em says:

    Well… 😊

    I am probably the only one who has publicly and very loudly corrected Aimee right in the middle of her Sunday morning sermon – it didn’t set well with Aimee and she gave a short lecture to the little girl in the balcony… I wasn’t impressed
    Memory lane…
    The north-south street car stopped a short walk from her Angeles Temple – canny planning?
    It overlooked Echo Lake where all the ducklings that children got for Easter were “dropped off” as they became the inevitable big messy ducks…
    Aimee rode a motorcycle…. in church
    For all that, they did a wonderful work among the homeless and starving during the depression… My Jewish high school social studies teacher said he’d never let anyone say anything disrespectful about them. The teacher had worked for the government during that time. His job was to go out looking for people who’d collapsed, near starvation and get them helo. He said that Angeles Temple was the only organization that never turned a single person away.
    Aimee wasn’t all that well regarded by the public… She was not in the same league as Billy Graham.. not here on earth anyway
    That’s my recollection, but i was not a Believer then… My mother didn’t want me brainwashed with religious ideas. 😇

    I promise not to interrupt here anymore- no lecture needed. LOL

  17. Jeff Rodrigues says:

    To add to the discussion, Chuck Smith has been open about concerns he had relating to being part of the Foursquare denomination, and even about the associations with it relating to Aimee Semple McPherson. To quote him from a 2006 pastors’ conference…

    “I was in a denomination, but I was not really happy with the denomination. It was a Foursquare, but I was a circle. I just didn’t fit in that square. And nothing against Foursquare. A great denomination. Wonderful people. But I just didn’t fit. And I knew I didn’t fit. And I was longing to be independent. I didn’t like having to answer for Aimee Simple McPherson. Was she really kidnapped and all? And I had a hard time with that… Well, the name even sort of had a… You know, people would say, ‘Oh you’re a pastor. That’s wonderful. What church do you pastor?’ ‘Foursquare.’ ‘Oh, well, that’s nice!’ I just couldn’t handle that. Because I didn’t create… all of that… flamboyant stuff. I’m not a flamboyant person. When I was in Tucson, we got new hymnals. Foursquare hymnals of course. Her picture is… on the front first page. And so when we got these new hymnals, I took a razor blade and I cut the first page out of the book because I didn’t want people to get the idea that we were worshiping Aimee. And so many people had that idea. I can remember when the district supervisor came to visit. And he opened up the hymnal, and I saw him sort of take a second look. And afterwards, he mentioned it.”

    He shared other concerns relating to being part of the Foursquare denomination in the book, “Chuck Smith Autobiography: A Memoir of Grace.”

  18. Martin Luther's Disciple says:

    Michael, when you say “Smith didn’t expose him” – are you saying Smith knew?

  19. Jim Vander Spek says:

    I believe that The Foursquare Church and LIFE Bible College were firmly in the conventional Pentecostal fold by the time Chuck Smith came of age. The founder of this large denomination has generally been an embarrassment to them. He was 17 when she died. I am curious to know how she may have influenced him and his ministry and whether he ever spoke about this.

  20. Michael says:

    MLD,

    I can’t be sure, but based on anecdotal evidence I believe he did.
    It wasn’t much of a secret…

  21. Michael says:

    JVS,

    I believe that Aimee influenced almost everything about American evangelicalism and I’m far from alone in that estimation.

    We know that Smith had attended Angelus Temple on occasion and went to her school…and I would hardly say that she was an embarrassment to those in the denomination.

    There are similar scoundrels about today without any of the genius she possessed.

  22. Captain Kevin says:

    Good kick-off to the series, Michael. Thank you.

  23. The New Victor says:

    Em,

    That’s a great story. Keep “em” coming :^)

  24. JD says:

    We attended a Foursquare Church about 22 years ago, but left when they got caught up in the “slain in the spirit” phenomenon. They loved to claim Chuck as coming from their denomination.

  25. Jerod says:

    I am forever grateful to my short walk through Calvary. There are things about it that I’ll miss, though the music and the incessant recording aren’t those things.
    One thing that I’ve come to realize “through it all” is that there are true believers in every denomination
    (going out on a limb here, but maybe even in apostate denominations?)
    whom Jesus has called to himself and, frankly, who am I to cast doubt on them?
    I think Jesus spoke to that with the sons of Zebedee.
    One thing I think that will keep this world from waxing worse as quickly as it is beginning to wax

    is if we give each other grace, the benefit of the doubt, and the forgiveness we didn’t deserve.

  26. Babylon's Dread says:

    The phenomenon of Chuck Smith is fascinating. Thank you for this insight Michael. It seems pretty clear that Chuck was trying to leave Aimee and her tribe but it is not so readily obvious how she marked him. You nailed that.

    What it seems Frisbee did was give the movement momentum. He was the Pied Piper who gave the whole matter a big push. Still, the genius was taking that momentum and shifting it from unbridled charismania (Chuck’s word I think) to imminent eschatology.

    Frisbee embodies the ’15 minutes of fame’ moniker and he is way beyond the conscious knowledge of the rank and file Calvaryite. The stickiness of CC is the any moment rapture. Only Hal Lindsey and Tim LaHaye did more to sear that into the iconography of the mind.

    When I began ministry; Rapture, Tribulation, Millennium, Antichrist etc had all become lexicography of the pew that had to be demystified before you could even talk to people about the kingdom of God.

    With fatherly steadiness he accomplished what meteoric flash could not. He branded himself into the popular mind.

  27. Michael says:

    Well said and thank you, BD.
    I think your insights here are right on…

  28. Duane Arnold says:

    Michael,
    May I say it out loud… this is a really great thread! It’s filled with insights, honest questions, recollections, and a very reasoned and kind approach to a difficult subject. It’s a real tribute to you and this community…

  29. Michael says:

    Duane,

    Thank you…there have been some outstanding contributions…which makes this whole process much easier.

  30. DavidM says:

    Regarding Lonnie, without him, there would have been no CCCM and no CC movement as we know it. One of Chuck Smith’s strengths was to take risks on young people with potential. He did so with Lonnie, and it was an incredible sight to behold. Granted, sometimes those risks backfired and produced disastrous results. But Lonnie was the right young man for that particular time. I can neither dissect nor explain it, but when he preached a simple gospel message, it reached me profoundly and I made the decision to follow Jesus. That was over 48 years ago and I have been doing my best to follow Jesus since that day. A few short years later, it was easy to see the feet of clay of both Chuck and Lonnie. But that does not invalidate how deeply God used them. It is a shame that Lonnie has sort of been airbrushed out of the CC history.

  31. Michael says:

    DavidM,

    I’m debating whether to do a stand alone piece on Frisbee.
    I think he’s more important in understanding “revival” than Smith…Lonnie’s power was utterly inexplicable and had to be the power of God.
    Today, his sermons on Youtube have none of that power…God was sovereignly doing something in that moment
    Fascinating stuff…

  32. Kevin H says:

    “It is a shame that Lonnie has sort of been airbrushed out of the CC history.”

    I have heard the name Chuck Smith at my church probably more than a thousand times. I have never once heard the name Lonnie Frisbee. Not once.

    However, I did hear him spoken about in a sermon once, although his name was not divulged. There was a story told of how years ago a “self-proclaimed prophet” was working his way through various Calvary Chapels and doing and teaching harmful charismania stuff. We were then told that this prophet died from AIDS and was outed at his funeral for being gay. 99% of the congregation probably had no idea who was being talked about. It is the closest I ever heard Lonnie Frisbee being mentioned at my church.

  33. L. Ron Corby says:

    This is a good place to point this out (again), though it’s a loaded statement, but now it makes more sense in light of this post. Short disclaimer. I love and respect what I consider the best of what CC was ever trying to do or be. So when I speak in support of CC or with admiration and fondness for CC and my background in it, that’s where it comes from. When I speak negatively, it’s always with a desire to fix it, never with critical pointing fingers.

    Having said that, looking back from the early 90s for myself and farther back through the lens of others, there were (and some could argue are still in CCA) elements of the culture within the inner-working and outward-facing parts of CC/CCCM that were very similar to what has been recently revealed about Scientology through the Leah Remini docuseries. In short; protect the organization and protect the leader at all costs, even if it is sin because the greater sin would be a public black eye resulting in less effective ministry and evangelism.

    Airbrushing people out of narratives, hiding embarrassing facts, using people with personality and charisma to draw and then discarding them when the next personality comes along, these are not unheard of in what are more or less personality cults like Sister Aimy, Katherine Cullman (sp?), L. Ron Hubbard, and what grew up around Chuck Smith. **I am in no way saying that Chuck tried to build a personality cult around himself.** I want to make that clear. However, it happened none the less, and others mirrored it and intentionally/unintentionally did the same and continue to do so. At the least they aren’t dismantling those constructs. It is apart of the DNA.

    But I do believe it is fixable.

    I believe Chuck’s heart was sincerely to draw and point people to Jesus. But more often than now, “success” at doing so comes with high prices.

  34. L. Ron Corby says:

    * But more often than not.

  35. Tim says:

    Just a thought…perhaps Lonnie isn’t mentioned in many CC’s because (1) there are other examples of evangelists within the movement that are known outside SoCal, (2) because when pastors are teaching verse-by-verse, they’re more likely to reference Chuck as a Bible teacher, rather than an evangelist, and (3) because Lonnie’s extreme Pentecostalism is as well-known as his evangelism.

    But what do I know? I’m just a CC pastor that has zero connection to the hippie-era. I didn’t get any real contact with CC until 2003.

  36. L. Ron Corby says:

    I should add that I think things have shifted greatly with Brian and the new direction of CGN. It should much more difficult for bad things to grow under the new direction.

    Tim, quick aside, if I remember right, even in the “A Venture of Faith” video, Lonnie’s face is shown but his name is never mentioned. I could be remembering incorrectly.

  37. Michael says:

    “In short; protect the organization and protect the leader at all costs, even if it is sin because the greater sin would be a public black eye resulting in less effective ministry and evangelism.”

    I’ll address this next week…

    I’ll also ruffle things and say that CGN looks more like CCA every day…

  38. Steven says:

    Corby,

    “I should add that I think things have shifted greatly with Brian and the new direction of CGN. It should much more difficult for bad things to grow under the new direction”

    How so? I don’t know/see any greater accountability nor structure than before.

  39. Tim says:

    Corby –
    It’s been a long time since I’ve watched “Venture of Faith.” I remember seeing Lonnie’s picture, but I can’t be certain as to whether his name was mentioned. Offhand, my recollection is that it *was* there, but I could be wrong.

    Looking at my copy of “The Word for Today” Bible just now, I see that Lonnie Frisbee is mentioned by name in the Calvary Chapel History at the front (page ix). It’s difficult for me to see that as “whitewashing.”

  40. Jeff Sheckstein says:

    Corby. The Frisbee reference from the Venture In Faith video was a clip from the Kathryn Kuhlman program that had Chuck as its guest with the hippies, musicians, etc., one of which I believe was a short missive from Lonnie.

    Tim. Likely Dave Rolph was responsible for the Frisbee reference in the Word For Today bible intro. of Calvary Chapel. Chuck certainly reviewed it and thereby “approved” it, but knowing Chuck, I doubt he would have penned in a reference to Lonnie himself.

  41. L. Ron Corby says:

    Steven – I meant it in the context of what I talked about. Personality cult, protect the organization, etc., not in terms of what you mention.

  42. Babylon's Dread says:

    @ Tim concerning Lonnie,

    Having pursued this matter in doctoral research it is clear that Lonnie was omitted from both Calvary and Vineyard histories until recently. In Chuck Smith’s book, “Harvest (Gang members, drug addicts, mental patients, society’s rejects…Chuck Smith’s amazing story of Calvary Chapel and the unlikely leaders God called.)” dated 1987. There is a passage that directly references the contributions of ‘a young man’ who was clearly Lonnie and he was not named. Lonnie was involved in Greg Laurie’s conversion, Mike Mackintosh’s healing from PTSD, and Chuck Girard’s connection to Smith. He was the agent of hundreds maybe thousands of conversions. His omission was intentional in the history. There would have been no clearer place for him to be lauded than the book Harvest.

    Further, Lonnie was the direct agent of the explosion of growth at the Anaheim Vineyard after Mother’s Day 1980 when he led a service that directly resulted in the outpouring that led Vineyard to become an international movement and ultimately to be separated from CC. It is not without notice that Lonnie was also omitted in the printed reports of that event/process in John Wimber’s books. Specifically he was omitted by name in Chapter 8 of Power Evangelism (which also errs on the date calling it 1979 rather than 1980 – a matter that Hank Hanegraaff blew out of proportion) In that chapter Lonnie is called ‘a young man’ who was known to be ‘unpredictable.’ The results of his ministry at Vineyard cannot be overstated.

    In both churches he was instrumental in phenomenal growth and controversy. I have written about it at length in my unpublished research.

    Let me be very clear. Lonnie was omitted because his sexual behavior was scandalous and to associate great growth and revival with a man whose sin was so notorious was to cast doubt on the validity of the whole matter. That was how people thought 25 years ago… this is indisputable.

    In fairness to Chuck Smith he loved Lonnie till the day Lonnie died and when he eulogized Lonnie as a “Samsonlike” figure it infuriated many who thought he had betrayed Lonnie. I do not think that can be validated. Chuck was always forgiving and restorative to Lonnie. The imagery of Samson was too much for emotionally devoted family and friends. For the record I love this man’s passion for Jesus and honor what God did through Lonnie. No one knows how to apportion credit for the work that God did by him. We are best to simply note that God by and through Lonnie did great exploits. Soli Deo Gloria !

  43. UnCCed says:

    It’s odd, but as I look back on my time, though relative late to the “party” (early 90s), but very close to the 1st and 2nd gen guys, I find I’m now more upset at myself for falling for a lot of the manipulation, than I used to be angry at them for doing it.
    Maybe its extensive experience in my career that’s witnessed most of the “WE have it all figured out and THEY are ignorant” ploys turn out to be gimmicks, as just as useful.
    For all of those “old wineskins,” there’s a reason why God used them for so long, not they they couldn’t/shouldn’t have changed in some ways, but I no longer believe God was waiting 2k years for surfboards, Hawaiian shirts, new Bible styles/versions/colors/smells, etc, guitars, and other stuff to REALLY be “unhindered.”
    Why?
    A lot of the same abuse, nonsense, and other things Satan figured-out how to do, he did the same in our circles, except we fell for the same old “we’re better” lie, didn’t see it coming. I guarantee you all the kids molested, women abused (some murdered), people stolen from, didn’t see it coming either.

  44. Babylon's Dread says:

    The matter of Lonnie’s exclusion has been so fervently backlashed in the last 15 years that it is not surprising that he would be included in more recent histories. His exclusion in “Harvest” and other places postdated his fall from good standing with Calvary Chapel. Further, Lonnie was mentioned in the very earliest writings of Chuck … below is a footnote from my work that shows it.

    140
    Smith, Chuck and Hugh Steven, The Reproducers (Philadelphia, PA: Calvary Chapel of Philadelphia, 2011), 60-1. This delightful story is told over and again even after it has become an anachronism. It should also be noted that the original publication of this small text was done in 1972. Not only was this the height of the hippie inclusion to Calvary it was also a sweeter time for Chuck and Lonnie who is celebrated in the text as the revivalist and co-reproducer for kingdom expansion.

  45. Milos says:

    In his autobiography, Chuck Smith talked about how he did not fit in nor did he feel at home in Foursquare, but he chose to continue with the denomination out of respect for his mother, but he did so without taking the soup. When his mother passed away, he wrote that he felt free to leave Foursquare, which he did.
    Martin Luther was trained and served in the Roman Catholic Church before recognizing its faults and going a different direction. Should we hold his past against him?

  46. Martin Luther's Disciple says:

    Milos, Luther didn’t leave the RCC – he was excommunicated while under threat of death.

  47. Michael says:

    I don’t take the association as a black mark,but an explanatory one.
    I started in the Assemblies of God and I’m glad I did.

  48. Milos says:

    MLD – you get the point.
    Michael, I appreciate and respect that response.

  49. The New Victor says:

    I regret that it never occurred to me to all my mother, raised Dutch Reformed in the Midwest, how she was attracted to the CC movement. Being born in ’42, she was a little old to be a hippie, but she ran on the edges of those circles living in San Francisco on either side of 1970, even driving a VW bus. Though we attended a Lutheran Church from ’80-83 and me in the Lutheran school, it gave me good exposure to the liturgical tradition, and some education, albeit a shallow dip.

    If I feel the need to abandon CC, I might go LCMS, though there are plenty of smaller independent churches around here from which to choose. There’s even a Greek Orthodox church two blocks away, which conspicuously stands out in East San Jose. It’s tiny.

  50. Jtk says:

    A tough “contradiction” in my mind is how God uses people in serious sin(s) in great ways.

    It’s cooked my fat head a few times.

    Paul Cain’s words and ministry completely saved and delivered a precious older woman named Jean Raborg. I knew her personally, and it is one of the best stories of Christian transformation I’ve ever heard. It’s been published.

    I’d love an explanation for this paradox.

    I know the gifts and callings of God are irrevocable. So it seems God still pours out gifts, natural talent and abilities but doesn’t require character for them to be doled out.
    *WE* are still to seek sanctification, we must look hard in the mirror and deal with our issues.

    Seems strange JM dismisses Paul Cain so easily. It is at least philosophically possible that when evil forces showed up, they were opposing Cain instead of being welcomed by him, is it not?

    We see such in Mark 5, in Daniel with the “prince of Persia” and in a lot of opposition today to the Gospel, here and abroad.

    And I don’t know if I’ve ever met a genuine faker. People who put on a good face to call themselves a believer, but not beyond that.

    I’ve met LOADS of gifted believers with issues so deep and scary who won’t deal with them and they “pollute” wide and deep…

  51. Jtk says:

    Michael on August 2, 2018 at 8:13 pm
    “I started in the Assemblies of God and I’m glad I did.”

    How much stuff have you seen that you are convinced is 100% fake?
    How do you deal with those?

    Thanks for this series, in advance.

    I was the only believer in a PACKED Honor’s sociology of the 1960’s and discovered CC and the Jesus People. NOBODY enjoyed hearing about it, but I was fascinated.

  52. Michael says:

    JTK,

    In the church I attended, fake wasn’t allowed.
    The pastor squashed nonsense pretty quickly.
    I saw quite a bit of fake in a Vineyard and a Foursquare churches I attended…and most of what I see in the NAR looks like pure chicanery to me.

  53. Dave Rolph says:

    Interesting thread with a lot of great comments. Sister Aimee was a trailblazer in so many areas of church life, including the use of media, seeker friendliness, homeless outreach, food banks, civic influence, church planting and in numerous other areas. Like almost all great people she was also weird. Normal, healthy people don’t change the world.

    Sheckstein is right about me being responsible for including Lonnie in the History of Calvary Chapel section in the Word For Today Bible, but it is also true that Chuck didn’t object to it. Chuck would speak often about his appreciation for Lonnie but he tended to avoid speaking publicly about him because whenever he would someone would bring up homosexuality and AIDS. When David Di Sabatino did his video on Lonnie (i think it was called “Hippie Preacher” or something like that) David sent me an early copy of it and I watched it with Chuck and Kay. They both loved it, and other than correcting a few minor details they felt it was accurate.

    I was with Chuck when Paul Cain came to confront Chuck for telling someone that Paul was a homosexual (which at that time Paul denied.) Chuck was very gracious and apologized to Paul and prayed with him. You can’t understand Chuck without understanding that he never wanted to stand in the way of someone else being used by God. Especially “anointed” people. (I always went back and forth with Chuck about the difference between “talented” and “anointed” but it at least isn’t always easy to discern the difference.)

    The biggest problem with history is the difficulty in recreating the story accurately. Historical revisionism runs rampant because people want to slant the story to support their personal interests and biases. Nowhere is this more true than in church history, especially when it comes to revivals. Revival is messy and irrational and contradictory and embarrassing and almost always involves key individuals who are crazy. But when you clean up the story you kill it. And you make the ensuing generations feel like they will never be special. The only way to overcome historical revisionism is to have more voices telling the story. The truth is in there somewhere.

  54. Michael says:

    Dave,

    Thank you!
    I hope you keep commenting…I’d prefer more voices who were there to speak rather than just myself.

  55. Babylon's Dread says:

    Anyone who delves into history knows that getting it right is elusive beyond our imagining. We simply cannot know to the point of absolute. This does not mean we cannot know anything. It just means we approach the matter with some care.

    For example I have friends who swear by Gandhi and MLKing as the ultimate icons of pacifism and yet I have been reading about Gandhi and how his impact was only possible because of the liberal democratic ways of the regime he critiqued. Further, I read the humorous account of how expensive it was said to be for the patrons of Gandhi to keep him living in his beloved poverty. Such are the ironies and inconsistencies of history.

  56. JD says:

    “Normal, healthy people don’t change the world.”
    Really? Think sgain.
    Does an army of boot-lickers get the victory ? For you maybe, but not for the LORD.

  57. Michael says:

    JD,
    I think what Dave is saying is that many of the most important figures historically were often a little odd and sometimes more than a little.
    I have found this to be the norm, not the exception…

  58. Linnea says:

    Michael @10:43 am…yes, please do a piece on Lonnie. Airbrushing him out of the Calvary narrative was wrong. We got to see Samson, we got to see David, we got to Moses, and all of them in the breadth of their faith journey. Shoot, Hebrews 11 should be more than enough reason to look at the astonishing way in which our Father uses us…warts and all.

  59. Linnea says:

    Yes, amen to Dave Ralph’s comments and Michael’s affirmation at 1:35pm. I agree– few movers and shakers are well-integrated into societal norms and peer conformances.

  60. Oengus says:

    quote: “He traveled with Paul Cain in the late fifties…a man who would later admit to issues with same sex attraction and alcohol.”

    This supposed “factoid” gets repeated a lot on the Internet. However, after researching this, I haven’t been able to find any other source than what is asserted by Paul Cain himself in one (possibly surreptitiously filmed) video. In the process of tracking this down, I also found out that Paul Cain has in the past made patently non-factual statements about his relationship to Chuck. And I could not find any independent corroboration for what Paul says, either by why of third party witnesses or newspaper articles. If anyone has something more solid than merely hearsay information about this, I would be very interested in seeing it.

    My opinion, for now at least, is Paul Cain in that video was probably “burnishing his reputation” — with the expectation that probably nobody would bother to confirm or disprove what he was saying — and there is good reason not to accept it at face value. I think this “factoid” is a very good example of how dubious information gets propagated all over the internet.

  61. Babylon's Dread says:

    @Oengus

    Read Rolph 11:15AM “I was with Chuck when Paul Cain came to confront Chuck for telling someone that Paul was a homosexual (which at that time Paul denied.) Chuck was very gracious and apologized to Paul and prayed with him. You can’t understand Chuck without understanding that he never wanted to stand in the way of someone else being used by God. Especially “anointed” people”.

    Rolph is an impeccable source and an eyewitness

  62. Oengus says:

    @B’s Dread: “Read Rolph 11:15AM …”

    I believe you have altogether missed my point. I was focusing on the widely propagated claim that Chuck was involved in some kind of ministry capacity back in the 1950s with Paul Cain, specifically in Arizona. Now it is a indeed a fact that Smith and his family resided for a time in Arizona back in the early 1950s, but I haven’t found any solid corroborating evidence that suggests that Smith was actually working for/with Paul Cain in some capacity.

    Now it is entirely possible that Rolph is indeed recollecting some meeting between Smith & Cain that occurred at a *later time*. But this is not what I am talking about. On the other hand, if Rolph is an actual *eyewitness* for events that happened back in the 1950s — such as actually being present in any of the revival services that Paul Cain held in Arizona and testifying that Chuck Smith was actively collaborating somehow with Paul Cain in those services — then I would be interested in hearing Rolph speak for himself about this matter.

    You can see my article about all this at my blog Cuthbert’s Cave.

  63. Dave Rolph says:

    Oengus- Chuck didn’t “work for” Cain. The impression I got from both of them was that various evangelists would come through town and the local pastors like Chuck would basically support the efforts. Anyone who thinks that Chuck ever “worked for” anyone didn’t know him very well. Once someone gets famous everyone claims to have given him his start ergo historical revision.

  64. Michael says:

    I can’t find the correspondence now but others have confirmed to me that they worked together. I’m not sure why this would be controversial now…they both were different people in the fifties.

    Oengus, for someone who is such a stickler for facts you sure got the CCA split wrong…

  65. victorious says:

    Some of my thought.

    Why does God use certain people in ways where there are observable and tangible physical, emotional and spiritual benefits to others?

    Because God is pouring out His Spirit upon all people and is seeking to draw a group of people together and built a beautiful people for Himself.

    One could say that in Acts 2 God used Peter to bring thousands to Himself and to each other in fellowship. Peter was the mouthpiece and gets the atform notoriety but in actuality if you read all the details :

    Of Jesus promise in Acts1:8 to all of His existing disciples ( not just the 12) ,

    The 120 speaking in tongues, the sign of little fires above each one,

    The sound of the Spirit in the midst of Jersusalem drawing the attention of worshipping Jews in town for Pentecost.

    The detailed promise of Joel that Peter affirmed and proclaimed that God was offering the new birth of His Spirit to all and bestowing that gift those who respnded in repentance and believing trust in Jesus of Nazareth.

    The subsequent steadfast gatherings of all who responded in smaller house churches, it was evident that God was significantky using many, not just one or a few notable people.

    Why does God use a person such as a Paul Cain or Lonnie Frisbee even in spite of their questionable conditions? Because in reality God is using a group of people with the intention of building a community; a community that could and should offer healing and wholeness to a Cain or Frisbee. A community that would not just objectify them positively for their outward anointing and then negatively when they did not just take care if their sin on their own.

    That is the part I find sad. We nor any of us is designed for greatness. We are redeemed for goodness as insividuals and as a community.

    If I had a guitar and knew how to play it it would be gently weeping.

  66. victorious says:

    When posting from an Iphone I sure wish I could edit my mispellings or my misplaced thumb taps like in Facebook.

  67. Oengus says:

    PP Quote: “I can’t find the correspondence now but others have confirmed to me that they worked together.”

    So who are these “others” of which you speak? Let them come forward and speak for themselves, which would be more convincing I think than merely citing the existence of apparently missing “correspondence.” I would love to be able to amend the article I wrote to include the updated information. Heh, for all I know, maybe Paul Cain was telling the solemn truth after all.

    PP Quote: “you sure got the CCA split wrong…”

    You are entitled to your opinion. My opinions are entirely mine. Phoenix is World Famous (grin). My blog barely gets zero traffic, although people are free to read it and decide for themselves regarding what I get wrong and what I get right. Thanks for at least directing some traffic my way.

  68. CM says:

    Not to sound like a shill….

    But interestingly, my 2nd cousin wrote perhaps one of the definitive biographies on Aimee Semple McPherson.

  69. Babylon's Dread says:

    “Why does God use a person such as a Paul Cain or Lonnie Frisbee even in spite of their questionable conditions?”

    I say it this way in my church, “Why does God use such messed up people?”
    Ans. “It is the only kind he has.”

  70. Babylon's Dread says:

    Oengus,

    I think Rolph’s input is making it clear that he both knew Chuck Smith very well and was aware of his ministry involvement with Paul Cain. It really isn’t a big deal to imagine that they knew one another and collaborated in ministry. It implies nothing about Chuck.

  71. JM says:

    Michael–what place would you give to Kathryn Kuhlman in light of Chuck’s interactions with her. (There’s, of course, the famous video of Kathryn, Chuck and Lonnie on the same stage.) I read that many comparisons were drawn between Sister Aimee and Kuhlman.

    If I am stealing your thunder and this subject is to be covered in a later post, then no worries. I will wait.

  72. Michael says:

    JM,
    I’m away from the house, but I’ll speak to that later…

  73. JD says:

    What about the stories about “old RR money”, that Chuck’s family owned a private pullman car? And that he told Raul to get rid of a BMW because of what people would think? In other words; it’s ok to get rich, just don’t flaunt it or people will talk.

  74. Michael says:

    JM,

    I don’t put much into the Kathryn Kuhlman show appearance.
    What people don’t remember is that her show was a national program on CBS…a very different time, indeed.
    I don’t think Smith was a fan and he remained utterly opposed to women as pastors.

  75. Michael says:

    JD,

    There are too many stories about Smith’s alleged assets to track down.
    He wasn’t poor and he was a very sharp businessman.
    Beyond that, I don’t know and I’m not sure how germane it all is.

  76. Now Unto Him says:

    Here Cain says Smith was campaign manager for his miracle meetings. Also in other video Chuck was the worship leader for Cains meetings as well. He did both, and both went fishing and camping together. Chuck said from the pulpit when he was pastor at the HB FOURSQUARE. They he knew of a real NT prophet, and if he would come out of hiding and minister again, he will show you a thing or two about the prophetic.

    https://youtu.be/PtJqZwWAd2A

  77. Jill says:

    Michael, thank you for getting back to my query. I confess that I had a different impression of Chuck’s attitude toward Kuhlman based upon other comments I have seen in the past. However, I did not have as much information as I would have liked to nail it down. This helps. I agree that he was emphatically against women preaching. A staple of Calvary Chapel became the weird way that some of them viewed women. That is probably a subject for another type of post, though. Thanks again!

  78. JM says:

    Now Unto Him,
    Can you give even a rough date for when Chuck made that statement about “knowing a real NT prophet? It might give weight to the idea that he meant Paul Cain.
    Thanks ahead!

  79. Jeff Sheckstein says:

    I’m not so sure you are right about Chuck and Kuhlman. I know for a fact he had all of Dino’s albums, including a complete collection of bootlegs

  80. Linnea says:

    I believe Calvary’s and Chuck’s culture was defined by the times. I do agree that women can tend to be more emotional, more reactive, but who’s to say that God hasn’t given them this capacity for His good? Women sense things that men don’t (witness the women at Jesus’ tomb).

    We all have role in the kingdom of God. It’s a shame that we don’t respect all the roles, whether divided by gender, or people group, or some other division.

  81. Now unto him says:

    @JM you can contact hope chapel in huntington beach when the timeline when Chuck was pastor.
    I recall seeing the dates it was sometime during the mid to late 60’s. He was pastor there for only 2-3 year if i recall.

  82. JM says:

    Thank you for the information, “Now unto Him”.

  83. WSJ says:

    Around 1992, Lonnie was sharing with myself a few others how Greg Lauries secretary had contacted him. And had asked on behalf of Greg to stop sharing the story about Gregs sudden conversion experience. And how Greg was instantly “slain the spirit, and speaking in tongues” when Lonnie had pointed his finger at him. Because Greg was making a mockery of some of the Christians gathering there on the grass and Newport Harbor HS and he was also using bad language. So in Lonnies own words he pointed at Greg who was maybe 20-30 ft away and prayed he Holy Spirit would deal with this kid who was disrupting his meeting. And the rest is history…But Lonnie affirmed Gregs encounter just happened like that. Which doesnt surprise me because i had lunch with a man a few weeks ago who had a similar experience in 1981 on Mothers Day at the Vineyard. Where a group of 21 and younger (non pentecostals)where invited to the front of the high school stage. And Lonnie prayed over this group with just a prayer. And suddenly, a wave of electricity and wind appeared out of knowhere and knocked all of us to the ground speaking in tongues. I had listed to Wimbers account on youtube regarding the Mothers Day of 1981. And Wimber said many of kids where healed and had to be carried home because they where still under this experience. Fun stuff IMO….The sad thing is Laurie has despised his birth right, and has sanitized his testimony to make it more respectable. When in fact others there who i talked to that day out at newport harbor hs do confirm Lonnies version of how Laurie was filled with the Spirit.

  84. Seraphim says:

    @wsj

    Wow that is quite the testimony regarding Greg Laurie’s conversion.

    Which leads me to the following question. Is being slain in the spirit legit? I think so sometimes.

    I would love to hear Michaels response.

  85. Em says:

    “We all have role in the kingdom of God. It’s a shame that we don’t respect all the roles, whether divided by gender, or people group, or some other division.” amen respect the roles and respect the genius of God’s design – respect it, learn it and live it… it isn’t mandatory to be a husband or a wife to be in God’s design… those are two roles created to make survival possible and pleasant IMHO – love the “men make the living and women make it worth living,” but that requires a lot of respect for the person and the role – it is just as good to be a great teacher, missionary or any other demanding role that one is gifted to fulfill… woman as preachers and men as dressmakers? … some are so gifted, but such is rare as i see it … dunno

    sorry to interrupt the Smith, Lenny , Laurie conversation – i’m done now 🙂

  86. Dave Rolph says:

    Pastor Romaine told me that one night Greg Laurie and Lonnie were goofing around in the parking lot of the tent when they were supposed to be patrolling the lot. Romaine started yelling at them (as only he could do) and Lonnie smiled at him and said, “Romaine, you need more love” and touched him on the head. Romaine went to the ground and was unconscious for several seconds. I told that story to Chuck Missler several years ago and he said he had a similar experience with Lonnie. I know of no two men who are less likely to be slain in the Spirit than Romaine and Missler. Legit? Amazing for sure.

  87. JD says:

    Just heard Pastor Chuck on the radio saying “Check my bank account, I’m not rich”. Really? Twenty million we hear from someone in the know. If he was such a financial wizard, why weren’t his affairs in order when he died? The family is still fighting and the church he founded is a mess because of him.
    In my meager lifetime, I’ve seen three people who had an incredible darkness in their eyes. A JW lady we bought a car from 30 years ago, Katheryn Khulman, and Chuck Smith. Just sayin’.

  88. Michael says:

    JD,

    I’ve probably talked to more people “in the know” than most and I don’t have a handle on Smith’s personal finances.
    CCCM had massive financial resources, but his personal assets remain a bit of a mystery.
    The family is and always has been dysfunctional,but that’s another chapter for another time.
    The church is a mess…but that was going to happen anytime you lose the founder.
    Seeing “incredible darkness” in someones eyes is entirely subjective.
    For the record, I’m a bit of a Kuhlman fan…fascinating character…

  89. Michael says:

    ” Is being slain in the spirit legit?”
    Maybe…sometimes.
    I think it’s possible, but not normative.
    I was “baptized in the Spirit” and spoke in tongues as a result…I have no idea why at this point in my life,but the experience was real.

  90. victorious says:

    Reading this installment and the stories and comments around it adds to my great hope and excitement for the future in participating with others in the harvest Jesus continues to bring.

  91. victorious says:

    “I was “baptized in the Spirit” and spoke in tongues as a result…I” I received the gift of tongues early on as it accompanied my ongoing experience of being baptism in the Spirit.

    However, I always exercised that tongue privately when my desire to continue praying or praising eclipsed my minds ability to find cognitive, rational thoughts to fuel further prayer.

    A couple of months ago I went forward at a Pentecost Sunday service at a Vineyard and received a fresh burst of tongues released in the company of other saints. I also received some beautiful words of prophetic encouragement in the experience. Holding fast to that which is good.

  92. victorious says:

    I am also enjoying reading Lonnie’s autobiography written with Roger Sachs.

    It’s time to do it again.

  93. WSJ says:

    Paul Cain was invited by Chuck to have a series of meetings at the Foursquare church called Hope Chapel in Huntington Beach back in the 60s.

  94. JM says:

    WSJ–
    Thank you for the additional information. I only shared a small bit of the information about phenomena that surrounded Cain in the years post Chuck. This dude is scary, in my book. What you have shared disturbs me because this man was allowed access to a congregation without any kind of filter given to them. Others may object–but I stand by my assumption that Chuck lacked proper discernment during this time because of the background from which he came. Good testimonies not withstanding, a closer look might be reasonable in regards to phenomena that surrounded anyone else in Chuck’s orbit. Sadly, Lonnie Frisbee does come to mind. There was a lot going on during that time and there really weren’t enough spiritual “grownups” to weigh it all out. I think of the passage in Corinthians in which those who had prophetic words were to have them weighed by others. Some of that was eventually enacted–but well after a lot of damage was done. Just some thoughts.

  95. pstrmike says:

    I was going to go into detail about an experience of being slain in the Spirit that I had, but I’ll forego that and say that I think what happened to me was legit.

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