Calvary Chapel Beliefs and Practices

What Doctrines Do Calvary Chapels Believe and Teach?

Worship Service
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Rather than a denomination, Calvary Chapel is an affiliation of like-minded churches. As a result, Calvary Chapel beliefs can vary from church to church. However, as a rule, Calvary Chapels believe in the fundamental doctrines of evangelical Protestantism but reject some teachings as unscriptural.

For example, Calvary Chapel rejects 5-Point Calvinism, asserting that Jesus Christ died for all the sins of all the world, spurning Calvinism's doctrine of Limited Atonement, which says Christ died only for the Elect. Also, Calvary Chapel rejects the Calvinist doctrine of Irresistible Grace, maintaining that men and women have free will and can ignore the call of God.

Calvary Chapel also teaches that Christians cannot be demon-possessed, believing it is impossible for a believer to be filled by the Holy Spirit and demons at the same time.

Calvary Chapel strongly opposes the prosperity gospel, calling it a "perversion of Scripture often used to fleece the flock of God."

Further, Calvary Chapel rejects human prophecy that would supersede the Word of God, and teaches a balanced approach to spiritual gifts, stressing the importance of biblical teaching.

One potential concern of Calvary Chapel teaching is the way church government is structured. Edler boards and deacons are typically put in place to deal with church business and administration. And Calvary Chapels usually appoint a spiritual board of elders to care for the spiritual and counseling needs of the body. However, following what these churches call the "Moses Model," the senior pastor is usually the highest authority at Calvary Chapel. Defenders say it minimizes church politics, but critics say there is a danger of the senior pastor being unaccountable to anyone. 

Calvary Chapel Beliefs

Baptism - Calvary Chapel practices believer's baptism of people who are old enough to understand the significance of the ordinance. A child may be baptized if the parents can testify to his or her ability to understand the meaning and purpose of baptism.

Bible - Calvary Chapel beliefs are in "the inerrancy of Scripture, that the Bible, Old and New Testaments, is the inspired, infallible Word of God." Teaching from Scripture is at the heart of these churches.

Communion - Communion is practiced as a memorial, in remembrance of Jesus Christ's sacrifice on the cross. Bread and wine, or grape juice, are unchanged elements, symbols of Jesus' body and blood.

Gifts of the Spirit - "Many Pentecostals think Calvary Chapel is not emotional enough, and many fundamentalists think Calvary Chapel is too emotional," according to Calvary Chapel literature. The church encourages the exercise of gifts of the Spirit, but always decently and in order. Mature church members may lead "afterglow" services where people can use gifts of the Spirit.

Heaven, Hell - Calvary Chapel beliefs hold that heaven and hell are real, literal places. The saved, who trust in Christ for the forgiveness of sins and redemption, will spend eternity with him in heaven. Those who reject Christ will be eternally separated from God in hell.

Jesus Christ - Jesus is fully human and fully God. Christ died on the cross to atone for humanity's sins, was bodily resurrected through the power of the Holy Spirit, ascended into heaven, and is our eternal intercessor.

New Birth - A person is born again when he or she repents of sin and accepts Jesus Christ as personal Lord and Savior. Believers are sealed by the Holy Spirit forever, their sins are forgiven, and they are adopted as a child of God who will spend eternity in heaven.

Salvation - Salvation is a free gift offered to all through the grace of Jesus Christ.

Second Coming - Calvary Chapel beliefs say that the second coming of Christ will be "personal, pre-millennial, and visible." Calvary Chapel holds that "the church will be raptured before the seven-year tribulation period described in Revelation chapters 6 through 18."

Trinity - Calvary Chapel teaching on the Trinity says God is One, eternally existing in three separate Persons: Father, Son, and Holy Spirit.

Calvary Chapel Practices

Sacraments - Calvary Chapel conducts two ordinances, baptism and communion. Baptism of believers is by immersion and may be conducted indoors in a baptismal vessel or outdoors in a natural body of water.

Communion, or the Lord's Supper, varies in frequency from church to church. Some have communion quarterly during weekend corporate services and monthly during midweek services. It may also be offered quarterly or monthly in small groups. Believers receive both bread and grape juice or wine.

Worship Service - Worship services are not standardized in Calvary Chapels, but typically include praise and worship at the beginning, a greeting, the message, and a time for prayer. Most Calvary Chapels use contemporary music, but many retain traditional hymns with organ and piano. Again, casual attire is the norm, but some church members prefer to wear suits and neckties, or dresses. A "come as you are" approach allows for a variety of clothing styles, from very relaxed to dressy.

Fellowship is encouraged before and after services. Some churches are in stand-alone buildings, but others are in renovated stores. A large lobby, cafe, grill, and bookstore often serve as informal mingling places.

To learn more about Calvary Chapel beliefs, visit the official Calvary Chapel website.


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Zavada, Jack. "Calvary Chapel Beliefs and Practices." Learn Religions, Aug. 27, 2020, Zavada, Jack. (2020, August 27). Calvary Chapel Beliefs and Practices. Retrieved from Zavada, Jack. "Calvary Chapel Beliefs and Practices." Learn Religions. (accessed June 3, 2023).