What does the picture of the bird flying downward symbolize for Calvary Chapel?

QUESTION: What does the picture of the bird flying downward symbolize for Calvary Chapel?

Answer: The dove image that is seen in many (but not all) Calvary Chapel fellowships symbolizes the descending dove, highlighting the ministry of the Holy Spirit coming upon believers to empower them for service. (The imagery is obviously taken from the Gospel accounts where John the Baptist saw the Holy Spirit descending upon Jesus in the form of a dove.) The "maranatha dove" was first used during the Jesus Movement of the 1960's and 70's, and over the years simply became an identifying symbol of Calvary Chapel. It doesn't, however, hold any major doctrinal significance, nor does it suggest an emphasis on any teaching of the Bible above another.

5 comments:

  1. Is there a way to order one of these wall hanging doves for my home? I attend Calvary Chapel in San Antonio, and Love the Dove.

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    1. Hmmm, there may be, but I actually had ours commissioned several years ago after seeing one just like it at Calvary Chapel in Boise, Idaho. (I actually found the guy who made CC Boise's and had him make ours.) The one you see in the photo above is quite large, about 3 feet across. Unfortunately I don't know of anyone who is making these doves. But if you know someone good at wood working you might consider giving them an image and seeing if they can recreate it for you. God bless!

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  3. Hi Pastor Paul, I have struggled with the image of the dove for years. It is like a spirit check inside me, but I just ignored the spirit check even though it never left my inner being. Then today when I was studying in my ESV Bible in Ex 3, which is one of my favorite stories, Moses calls Horeb, the moutain of God, as if it had been known as the mountain of God or YHWH for some time. That led me to research Horeb, which led me to a video on Bible discoveries, that said the Israelites had violated the 7th Commandment and strayed from God while in Egypt. Well, I have to admit, I wasn't sure which the 7th Commandment was, so I looked up Ex 20 (at least I knew where they were). Ex 20:4 clearly states You shall not make for yourself a carved image, or any likeness of anything that is in heaven above, or that is in the earth beneath, or that is in the water under the earth. So I searched "image" and one of the verses that came up was Dt. 4:15-19 specifically mentions images of winged birds. And in Dt. 27:15 no images in metal. Well, I have seen the dove painted, carved, cast in metal, etc. Of course, I have been told it is a symbol of the Holy Spirit descending. And, we don't worship the image. But, if the Bible clearly says no images, and in Dt. 4:15, God speaks and says "You did not see the LORD’s form on the day he spoke to you from the heart of the fire at Mount Sinai. 16 So do not corrupt yourselves by making an idol in any form." I am troubled in my spirit about seeing images of the dove in Calvary Chapels. I have been taught not to split hairs with the Word. So, help me out, what do you think?

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    1. You're absolutely right. God told Israel not to make any kind of graven image. But WHY did He prohibit such things? In Leviticus God explains the reason BEHIND the prohibition:

      “You shall not make idols for yourselves or erect an image or pillar, and you shall not set up a figured stone in your land to bow down to it, for I am the LORD your God." Leviticus 26:1 (ESV)

      You can see from this verse that what God forbade was the carving or erecting of any that the Israelites might BOW DOWN and worship. THAT was what God wanted to save them from doing. And we see from Israel's history that they were VERY prone to doing that. In fact, not long after receiving that Commandment they directed Aaron to fashion the image of a golden calf which they DID bow down and worship. You see, the worship of images is something that pagans do, and Israel had just come out of 400 years of living in a pagan nation (Egypt) when God gave them that commandment.


      Again, if you look at the passage you quoted in Deuteronomy 4:15–19, you will see that God specifically tells His people to stay away from carved images for a REASON: Lest they "...be drawn away and bow down to them and serve them."

      The Calvary Chapel dove is a symbol pointing to Scriptures and that is all. It is meant as a reminder and nothing more of the work and power of God's Holy Spirit among believers. We do not worship the dove IN ANY WAY, nor do we serve it. It is nothing more than a hunk of wood (or whatever it is made from). We worship God and Him alone.

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