The Calvary Chapel Chronicles: DNA, Part 1
It makes up the building blocks that are passed down from generation to generation in all living things…we are, to some degree, who are parents were.
This often is also the case in organizations and churches and it’s certainly evident in the history of Calvary Chapel.
While Lonnie Frisbee and the musicians were critical to the initial revival, their influence in the CC movement today is negligible compared to the imprint of Chuck Smith.
Smith’s religious training came at the hands of the Foursquare Church, a denomination founded by the legendary Aimee Semple McPherson.
“Sister Aimee” was Pentecostal and the four corners of her “Foursquare Gospel” were the power of the Gospel to transform lives through conversion, the baptism of the Holy Ghost, divine healing, and the Rapture of the church.
Speaking in tongues was minimized during public services so as not to offend…
Her theology was a self taught, fundamentalist, amalgam of early Pentecostal doctrine and Wesleyan holiness teachings, along with a large serving of dispensational eschatology.
There were enemies to be named and fought…communism, modernism, and theological liberals to name a few.
There was also fervent patriotism and she had influence politically.
Her ecclesiology was made up on the fly, though she emulated to a degree that of the Salvation Army.
The only denomination she could fit in was one she created and controlled.
She was a one woman show…and what a show it was.
She was also a pioneer…no one used the media, especially the nascent technology of radio, like Sister Aimee.
She innately understood the power of music and her Angelus Temple had the best in town.
She founded her own Bible college… “LIFE” (Lighthouse of International Foursquare Evangelism) and it is from there that Chuck Smith graduated.
There were scandals, some behind the scenes, some of which made headlines.
They didn’t affect the true believers…there was only one Aimee and she was family to those she led and pastored.
Though her popularity waned over the years, 50,000 people attended her funeral, true believers to the end.
It was in this heady brew of personality cult and ecclesiastical independence that Chuck Smith learned his earliest lessons in ministry.
Aimee’s church would prove not to fit the independent Smith and he had to find a place to mold to his own ways.
I submit that when he did and God began to move… that he leaned heavily on what he had learned from his Foursquare days and from the life of “Sister Aimee”.
Like Aimee, the only place he could fit was a place he made himself.
As a side note, Lonnie Frisbee would not be the first bisexual “prophet” that Smith would work with.
He traveled with Paul Cain in the late fifties…a man who would later admit to issues with same sex attraction and alcohol.
Smith didn’t expose him…
Next week we’ll look at how Chuck Smith became “Papa Chuck”…