No doubt, Chuck Smith is one of the most influential figures in the modern American church. He's the father of "contemporary worship," he give life and vitality to the charismatic movement when it had no credibility, and he served as an important father figure to a generation of kids from the 1960's who did not have fathers--the so-called "Jesus People" movement.
But his theology has long been suspect. He's not only made a number of nutty end-times predictions (see my last "Who Said That?"), but he is militant in his opposition to Reformed theology in particular and Reformational theology in general. At best, he's a classic Arminian. At worst, he's a thorough-going Pelagian. His theology is characterized by an ecclecticism typical of independent Bible Church fundamentalism.
Having attended Calvary Chapel back in the 1970's, I've long thought one of his most erroneous (and dangerous) notions was his view that church government is grounded in a one-to-one relationship between the pastor and Jesus (called the "Moses Model"--see Click here: The Philosophy of Ministry of Calvary Chapel).
The Moses Model positions the pastor as the one who communicates the will of God to the church--not only in terms of theological teaching, but also in terms of overall ministry management and direction. The pastor is elevated above other church officers (pastors) and "board members." What the pastor says, God says . . . Calvary Chapels have always been secretive about money and their finances--a fruit of this approach to church government.
Chuck Smith does not see a proper role for deacons and elders as is so clearly taught in the New Testament. Many people consider "ecclesiology" the least important loci of Christian doctrine and don't give things like this much thought. But this is what happens when you don't.
And so, not surprisingly, the chickens have come home to roost with the sad scandal going in Albuquerque and Southern California as reported recently in Christianity Today (H. T. my friend and colleague Danny Hyde--http://dannyhyde.squarespace.com/).
If you've ever attended a Calvary Chapel (or still do) you need to read this article carefully (see the link below). This is what happens when ministers place themselves above Scripture ("just me and Jesus") and above other church officers (i.e., a group of elders who watch the pastor's life and doctrine). This is what happens when church business is conducted in secret and when budgets are hidden from the congregation. If this is not a good argument for Reformed/Presbyterian church government--which protects both ministers and church members from each other--I don't know what is!
It is all very sad. But it is not at all surprising . . .