The 5 Craziest Things Chuck Smith of Calvary Chapel Ever Said
Now that the proper time of mourning has passed, we can stop with the respectability game and report the truth: while Calvary Chapel founder Chuck Smith, who passed away from cancer last week at 86, was a titan of American Christianity, he was quite often a raving lunatic who seemed better suited to hosting Coast to Coast AM than preaching about God.
This observation isn't the bias of a godless leftist, as so many Calvary Chapel members have claimed in their hundreds of letters, comments, and phone calls sent my way after my obit last week (Santo Niño de Atocha all the way, bitches!), but facts thankfully documented in many outlets. Don't believe me? Let's go into the Wayback Machine and consider five of Papa Chuck's crazier musings. And while Calvary Chapel members will say Smith was merely following the Bible, we don't remember Pope Francis ever going gonzo like this!
5. The (Many) Times Chuck Smith Predicted the End Times...and Was Wrong, Wrong, Wrong
One of the biggest critiques Smith endured from fellow Christians was his zeal for trying to predict the End Times. In books like the appropriately titled End Times: A Report on Future Survival and numerous DVDs and commentaries, Smith would predict Jesus' coming with increasing confidence, for years pegging 1981 as the date. "From my understanding of biblical prophecies, I'm convinced that the Lord is coming for His Church before the end of 1981," he wrote. "I could be wrong, but it's a deep conviction in my heart, and all my plans are predicated upon that belief."
What happened? A bunch of people showed up to the Calvary Chapel mother ship in SanTana on New Year's Eve in 1981...and nothing. Eventually, someone told Chuckie to knock it off with the false prophecies, so Smith tempered his outlook, going so far as to deny he ever offered predictions--and here's the audio to prove it. Tellingly, End Times is no longer available via Calvary Chapel--you'll have to find a copy yourself at the Bookman.
4. When Chuck Smith Wished Divine Retribution on the Abused Son of One of His Pastors
One of Smith's biggest critics over the past couple of years has been Alex Grenier, the stepson of Calvary Chapel Visalia pastor Bob Grenier. Alex says Bob physically abused him as a child, and has long sought redress for it; Bob denies all charges and is suing Alex for defamation. But Smith believed Alex's charges, going so far as to meet with him then saying he has no control over any of Calvary Chapel's pastors--a lie if ever there was one.
Then it got personal. As we reported in 2011, Smith attacked Alex Grenier from the pulpit of the Calvary Chapel mother ship, cracking, "I feel sorry for the guy, because...what I could do wouldn't hurt much, but I'll tell you what the Lord can do can really..." Smith chuckled a bit, then ended, "I'm glad I have the Lord on my side."
Coincidence or not, as Alex notes on his blog, Smith was diagnosed with cancer a month later.