Christianity Knowledge Base

Calvary Chapel's logo which represents the Holy Spirit.

Statement of Faith[]

The following "Statement of Faith" is the view of, and was written by Pastor Chuck Smith, Calvary Chapel, Costa Mesa, CA

  • Calvary Chapel has been formed as a fellowship of believers in the Lordship of Jesus Christ. Our supreme desire is to know Christ and be conformed to His image by the power of the Holy Spirit. We are not a denominational church, nor are we opposed to denominations as such, only to their over-emphasis of the doctrinal differences that have led to the division of the Body of Christ.
  • We believe the only true basis of Christian fellowship is Christ's Agape love, which is greater than any differences we possess and without which we have no right to claim ourselves Christians.
  • We believe worship of God should be spiritual. Therefore, we remain flexible and yielded to the leading of the Holy Spirit to direct our worship.
  • We believe worship of God should be inspirational. Therefore, we give great place to music in our worship.
  • We believe worship of God should be intelligent. Therefore, our services are designed with great emphasis upon the teaching of the Word of God that He might instruct us how He should be worshiped.
  • We believe worship of God should be fruitful. Therefore, we look for His love in our lives as the supreme manifestation that we have truly been worshiping Him.
  • We believe in all the basic doctrines of historic Christianity.
  • We believe in the inerrancy of Scripture, that the Bible, Old and New Testaments are the inspired, infallible Word of God.
  • We believe that God is eternally existent in three distinct persons: Father, Son and Holy Spirit.
  • We believe that God is the personal, transcendent, and sovereign Creator of all things.
  • We believe that Jesus Christ is fully God and fully human, that He was born of a virgin, lived a sinless life, provided for the atonement of our sins by His substitutionary death on the cross, was bodily raised from the dead, ascended back to the right hand of the Father, and ever lives to make intercession for us.
  • We believe in the personal, visible, and pre-millennial second coming of Jesus Christ to the earth. He will return with His saints and set up a kingdom of which there will be no end.
  • After Jesus ascended to Heaven, He poured out His Holy Spirit on the believers in Jerusalem, enabling them to fulfill His command to preach the Gospel to the entire world, an obligation shared by all believers today.
  • We believe that all people are, by nature, separated from God and responsible for their own sin, but that salvation, redemption, and forgiveness are freely offered to all by the grace of our Lord Jesus Christ. When a person repents of sin and accepts Jesus Christ as personal Savior and Lord, trusting Him to save, that person is immediately born again and sealed by the Holy Spirit, all his/her sins are forgiven, and that person becomes a child of God, destined to spend eternity with the Lord.
  • We believe in the gifts of the Holy Spirit mentioned in the Scriptures, and that they are valid for today if they are exercised within the scriptural guidelines. We as believers are to covet the best gifts, seeking to exercise them in love that the whole Body of Christ might be edified. We believe that love is more important than the most spectacular gifts, and without this love all exercise of spiritual gifts is worthless.

Cover of Time Magazine, June 21st, 1971

History of Calvary Chapel[]

Calvary Chapel is a non-denominational Christian church which began in 1965 in Costa Mesa, California. Calvary Chapel's pastor, Chuck Smith became a leading figure in what has become known as the "Jesus Movement."

It has been estimated that in a two-year period in the mid '70s, Calvary Chapel of Costa Mesa had performed well over eight thousand baptisms. During that same period, they were instrumental in 20,000 conversions to the Christian faith. Their decadal growth rate had been calculated by church growth experts to be near the ten thousand percent level.

A remarkable pattern kept repeating itself. As soon as they moved into a new building, their fellowship was already be too big for the facilities. In two years they moved from their original building (one of the first church buildings in Costa Mesa) to a rented Lutheran church overlooking the Pacific. Soon thereafter they decided to do something unprecedented at the time and move the church to a school that they had bought. The building did not match up to code so they tore it down and built another. But by the time the sanctuary of 330 seats was completed in 1969, they were already forced to go to two services, and eventually had to use the outside courtyard for 500 more seats. This was all fine in good weather.

But by 1971 the large crowds and the winter rains forced them to move again. They bought a ten-acre tract of land on the Costa Mesa/Santa Ana border. Orange County was quickly changing and the once-famous orange orchards were making way for the exploding population of Los Angeles. Soon after buying the land, they again did the unprecedented and erected a giant circus tent that could seat 1,600 at a stretch. This was soon enlarged to hold 2,000 seats. Meanwhile they began building an enormous sanctuary adjacent to this site.

By the time Calvary Chapel fellowship had celebrated opening day in 1973 moving into the vast new sanctuary of 2,200 seats, the building was already too small to contain the numbers turning out. They held three Sunday morning services and had more than 4,000 people at each one. Many had to sit on the carpeted floor. A large portion of floor space was left without pews so as to provide that option.

Calvary Chapel also ministers over the airwaves, and this must account for many of those who travel long distances to fellowship here. A Nielsen survey indicated that their Sunday morning Calvary Chapel service is the most listened-to program in the area during the entire week. As of 1987, Calvary's outreach has included numerous radio programs, television broadcasts, and the production and distribution of tapes and records. The missions outreach is considerable. Calvary Chapel not only supports Wycliffe Bible Translators, Campus Crusade, Missionary Aviation Fellowship, and other groups, but they also donate to Third World needs. They then built a radio station in San Salvador and gave it to the local pastors there. They also gave money to Open Doors to purchase the ship that, in tandem with a barge, delivered one million Bibles to mainland China. Their financial commitment to missions exceeds the local expense budget by over 50%.

Today, Calvary Chapel of Costa Mesa, the church which only had twenty-five members has established more than five hundred affiliate Calvary Chapels across the world and is among the world's largest churches with more than thirty-five thousand calling it their home church. It is one of the ten largest Protestant churches in the United States.

What is it that makes Calvary Chapel different from other Bible-believing, evangelical churches?[]

It's always good to have a grasp of the unique work that God has done in the fellowship of believers in the body of Christ. If Calvary Chapel is exactly like the church across the street, they believe that it would be better to simply merge the two. But, if there are distinctives that make it different, they have concluded that they have a unique and special place in the plan of God. Certainly there are churches that share many of their beliefs and practices. They're not renegades. But God has done a wonderful work of balance in the Calvary Chapel movement that does make them different in many areas.


Open air baptism in the Pacific Ocean

There are many who believe in the gifts and the ministry of the Holy Spirit, but they don't have a strong emphasis on Biblical teaching, nor do they look to the Word to guide their experiences with the Holy Spirit. There are many who have a strong emphasis on teaching the Word of God, but they don't share the view that the gifts of the Holy Spirit are available and valid today. In Calvary Chapel, they teach the Word of God verse by verse from Genesis to Revelation, with an open heart to the work of the Holy Spirit. It is this balance that makes Calvary Chapel a distinct and uniquely blessed movement of God. And so it's important to understand the Biblical principles that make up the picture of why God has allowed us all to exist and grow.

This is not to say that all Calvary Chapels are identical. It is amazing at how God can take simple basic elements and create such variety out of them. Basically, it is observed that all of us have two eyes, a nose, a mouth, and two ears, and yet how different we all look from each other! People also have different emotional make-ups. Now, God loves everyone. He loves the highly emotional and He loves the dull and unemotional. In the same way, wanting all men to be able to relate to Him, God created a wide variety of churches. Some churches appeal to those who are very emotional in their nature while others appeal to a more staid and formal personality. God, desiring to reach and bless all kinds of people, seems to enjoy having a wide variety of churches so that everybody's needs might be met, from the highly emotional to the very formal, and all those in between. Each of us has a part to play in God's plan, but we all need to know where we fit in this wide spectrum. That is why it's crucial for us to grasp what they call the Calvary Chapel Distinctives. As you see what makes their fellowship unique, you will hopefully come to better understand their position in the body of Christ.

Below are links to Calvary Chapel's Distinctives...

External links[]

Calvary Chapel's Distinctives[]

  1. The Call To The Ministry
  2. God's Model For The Church
  3. Church Government
  4. Empowered By The Spirit
  5. Building The Church God's Way
  6. Grace Upon Grace
  7. The Priority Of The Word
  8. The Centrality Of Jesus Christ
  9. The Rapture Of The Church
  10. Having Begun In The Spirit
  11. The Supremacy Of Love
  12. Striking The Balance
  13. Ventures Of Faith

Calvary Chapel Websites[]

  1. Calvary Chapel Homepage
  2. Calvary Chapel Costa Mesa
  3. The Word for Today
  4. Missions
  5. Calvary Chapel Bible College
  6. Exhaustive Audio Archive of Calvary Chapel Preachers and Sermons

Calvary Chapel Books Online[]

Index of EBooks

  1. Calvinism, Arminianism and The Word of God
  2. Charisma vs. Charismania
  3. Christian Family Relationships
  4. Comfort For Those Who Mourn
  5. Effective Prayer Life
  6. Harvest
  7. Living Water
  8. The Claims of Christ
  9. The Gospel According To Grace
  10. The Philosophy of Ministry of Calvary Chapel
  11. What the World is Coming To
  12. Why Grace Changes Everything

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