Much of the problem to me was summed up in Chuck Smith's own words:
During the investigation for this article, Smith cautioned CT's reporter: "The Lord warns, 'Don't touch my anointed. Do my prophet no harm.' I think that you are trying to do harm to the work of God. I surely wouldn't want to be in your shoes."Unfortunately, such a self-referential claim of authority must be challenged and rejected immediately. Not least, because it amounts to a threat. The reporter is being told "Mess with me and God's gonna settle your hash." Others also using such threatening language in the recent past include Jimmy Swaggart, Benny Hinn, Mike Warnke. I've never thought of Pastor Smith being numbered in such company, but honestly believe Christians should have an almost Pavlovian response when any -- I mean ANY -- alleged authority uses such Scripture twisting language to validate their actions and attitudes.
For one thing, a true prophet is usually known by two things. First, that prophet's words come true. And second, the prophet her or him self usually ends up dead at the hands of people who couldn't stand to hear the truth he was tellling.
For another thing, a true prophet is not the powerful head of what appears to be a corporate entity. He or she is rather the head of nothing except perhaps the lips or hand that write / speak prophetically.
There is rarely a biblical example of a true prophet telling someone "thus says the Lord" in which the prophet profits! I suggest one peruse the OT and NT to see if this stands. On the contrary, in every modern case I can think of where such words have been used, the alleged words from God did in fact directly strengthen the position (financially and power-wise) of the "leader" mouthing those words.
Next comes the issue of just who put the leader there. In fact, is the leader a leader or a misleader? I, for one, question that Mike Warnke (whose alleged "ex-satanist" testimony Mike Hertenstein and myself showed to be fabricated) was ever "anointed" by God to be anything. Likewise, for Benny Hinn to claim God's anointing awakens tremendous skepticism within me. Frankly, I don't think so.
And that brings up the issue of just what does make an American "evangelical leader" a leader. There is in fact very little resemblance between the first century Church's way of doing leadership and our way. Our consumerist culture has assured that the most "popular" leaders are often the worst leaders, not the best ones. But they are often gifted in one way or another, even if it is purely in shoveling hype.
Again, I hope and believe Chuck Smith is better than that. But children ended up hurt and abused sexually as the result of a doctrine Smith (and thus most Calvary Chapels) held regarding leadership. That doctrine, according to CT, comes from Smith's belief that Moses is the role model for leadership today:
"I'm responsible to the Lord. We have a board of elders. We go over the budget. The people recognize that God has called me to be the leader of this fellowship. We are not led by a board of elders. I feel my primary responsibility is to the Lord. And one day I'm going to answer to him, not to a board of elders."
Again, I question this on a number of levels. There is a (to me) undue fascination with Old Testament Israel among some Calvary leaders, linked in part I suspect to their belief that Israel the nation is at the center of prophecy (see Tim LaHaye's novels and Hal Lindsay's "Late Great Planet Earth" for two illustrations of this theology). But let's leave dispensationalism out of the discussion for the present.
Saying "God has called me" is very dangerous when said to defend one's power. It is, in effect, an usurpation of God's Name. A power claim over others is one which asserts authority of a unilateral nature and an alleged omniscient quality. If I tell someone, "God told me to tell you" x, y, or z... I'm treading on very, very thin ice which may end up drowning both me and those I'm claiming such authority over.
Please do pray for Chuck Smith, Calvary Chapel, and those affected by mistakes made.
And as for the rest of us, lest we think we're immune, it might be a time for us to deeply ponder how God uses not just the Word but also human agency to insure that all of us can be accountable and held accountable.
Otherwise, there is only the frightening image I have never forgotten. Jimmy Swaggart, who upon being arrested with a prostitute and a back seat full of porn, said to the TV cameras: "I am responsible only to God."
Oh, yes, sir. You are indeed. If you insist. He gave you the Church for a reason, for as foolish and ungraceful as we can often be (and ARE!), we are also the very imperfect avenue through which His Grace flows out toward others. If we refuse accountability there is only judgement, becuase we by denying accountability also deny the power of conviction and of grace to save us from our own self-destructive egos and lust for power and prestige.
Or so this pilgrim, still very much an egoist himself, sees it...