The Chalke Response

As expected my article on Premier answering Steve Chalke’s accusations against both the Bible and the church got a fierce response. These responses teach us a great deal about the church in the UK today and our weaknesses. Chalke himself has responded (in a way).

The Heresy Hunters

Firstly there are those who welcomed the article and then took the opportunity to stick the boot into others. The inability to distinguish between primary and secondary issues is a cause of great strive. It means that whilst there are those who will fight to the last ditch on their particular doctrinal/cultural shibboleth, there are others who, in order to avoid that, won’t join the battle about anything!

The Empathisers

Secondly many of the responses were sympathetic and sad – recognizing the good that Chalke has done but lamenting his fall from grace – this strikes me as a much more Christian response.

The Defenders

Thirdly there were those who tried to defend Chalke – the most common line being expressed in the following tweet – Chalke is one of the few people that is transcending the liberal/conservative divide, coming towards real kingdom stuff”.   The flowery language is meaningless.   Everything that Chalke teaches is just classic 19th Century Protestant liberalism but in evangelical language.   Although Chalke wrote a book somewhat arrogantly entitled ‘The Lost Message of Jesus” (which presumably he, like all cult leaders, had found), there is actually nothing new in what he says.   It is the same with Rob Bell and Brian McLaren and others of their ilk. They have not found a ‘third way’; they have just rejected the ‘narrow’ way for the usual broad path.

The Mockers

But it is the fourth group who really disturb me.   They are those who ignore the issues and just play the man and on social media this can be really ugly. So for example ‘Tom’ tweeted “Your article published yesterday absolutely reeks of bitterness. I was just wondering, have you ever met the guy?”   The trouble is that there is no answer to this – although I tried.   There was no bitterness in my article but that’s how Tom ‘felt’ and so it must be so –because feeling transcends reality. It also enables you to attack the person and not have to engage with the arguments.

The Mouse

WjlOGKWd_400x400One that really surprised me is a well known Anglican blogger called The Church Mouse.  He really went to town with the personal stuff. As an aside I always think it is cowardly to attack known individuals from the safety or your anonymous blog – stand up and be counted! Are you a man or a mouse?!

 

Anyway this is what he started off with:

Text book straw man argument. Steve Chalke doesn’t say any of the things he is accused of here. Better to take the best of your opponent’s argument and engage with it seriously than treat it with contempt.”

At first I assumed that he had just made a mistake and gave him tbe benefit of the doubt. If you read my article you will see that Chalke did say at least several of the things said in my article – not least because I give direct quotes from him! I would argue that everything I said that Chalke said is correct.   Why would I lie? Why would I make it up? And if I am mistaken or have misunderstood I am quite happy to be corrected.
But the Mouse went on:

The following are some of the false claims you make on Steve’s behalf: (1) The Bible is not God’s word; (2) The Bible is not God’s revelation; (3) Genesis is “a parody”; (3) Jesus would “have nothing to do with much of the Bible; (4) Jesus “corrects and throws out” bits of the OT…You do not use any direct quotes for those claims, none of which Steve makes. There are others, of lesser importance, such as your representation of Steve’s reading of Moses in Numbers 15 (again no direct quotes used).

Twitter is of course, even with the 280 characters, a difficult place to debate in any depth, but a simple reading of my article – and watching the three Chalke videos I am critiquing will proof that Chalke does say or indicate each of these points. For example if you say “The Bible is a library and not a book – that’s what the Bible literally means… the church over time has come to regard as sacred. It reflects the moral values and consciousness of each author” then you are saying that the Bible is not the word of God. You are saying it was the Church not God who over time said it was sacred. You are saying that it reflects the values and consciousness of each author not the values and consciousness of God.
When all this was pointed out, The Mouse went into full patronising mode.

Oh dear. I just said you got it wrong. That isn’t the worst thing in the world. If you’re going to write and engage on Twitter please don’t fly off the handle. Some may think you are unable to handle even the mildest criticism.

 (All these tweets by the way can retweeted as confirmation bias by those who want to have a go!)… But the trouble is The Mouse did not just say I got it wrong. He said that I made false claims and that I deliberately said that Steve said things he didn’t. In most normal peoples books that is an accusation of lying – but in the irrational world of the 21st Century post-modern Christian it means because I never actually used the words ‘ you are lying’ I did not accuse you of lying.

Speaking of lying (have you noticed how in our world everyone wants to back up their case by accusing everyone else’s opinion as lying?) The Mouse then went on to state:

I think you have interpreted Steve’s videos and asserted your wrong interpretation as his words. You just got it wrong. Your quotes from the videos are so short (often just two words) that they don’t fairly represent his arguments.

You’ll notice the standard response of the post-modern liberal – it’s all about ‘interpretation’. It’s the Alice-in –Wonderland ‘words mean whatever I want them to mean’. Steve’s videos are quite clear – he is a good communicator- who knew exactly what he was saying, and said it well.   The irony here is that the Mouse after accusing me of ‘getting it wrong’ by making false claims (which is apparently not lying) then went on to tell an ‘untruth’ himself, asserting that my quotes were ‘often just two words’. None of them were. Read it and see.   Again I assumed that The Mouse had just in the heat of the moment made a mistake (we all do) and I wouldn’t want to accuse him of lying, so I gave him the chance to apologise and correct it. He refused. So we are left with a blatant and demonstrable lie.

My view is that the Mouse was trying to shut down debate by basically slandering me as dishonest and some kind of fundamentalist who was either too stupid to understand what Steve was saying or just plain dishonest. When his bullying patronising did not work he then just resorted to insult.   Again this was for the benefit of his fans rather than my correction or edification

“This has to be the worst advert for the Solas Centre in history. Is this how you teach people to engage in public?”

I’m a sensitive soul so this kind of barb tends to get underneath the skin.   It makes you question (not a bad thing) whether you are being a bad witness, harming your church or organisation, or giving a bad example of public engagement? The accusation is of the type that even making it is considered proof of its existence – like the one about bitterness. There is after all, no smoke without fire.  It was for me, a surprising and somewhat irrational and unnecessary attack.

The Rainbow Christians

And of course all this is followed avidly by those (often with rainbow flags beside their names) who ‘like’, ‘retweet’, repeat the same arguments/accusations and come up with such sweet witticisms as “calm down dear’.  The sad thing is that so much of this comes from people who profess to be Christians – and even more ‘real Christians’ who are all for love.   Liberal Loving Christians tend to be in practice some of the most illiberal and unloving people I have met! (Not all…but it does seem to be a pattern!).   Sometimes I find non-Christian liberals to be more open…

The Puritan

The result of all this is quite deliberate. There is no intention of engaging, or ‘having a conversation’. It’s all about demonising, mocking and seeking to shut down any questioning of their ideology.   I am quite happy to admit I am wrong – and to be honest, I hate having these kind of arguments – they become deeply personal and I find them highly stressful.   But I am not going to be bullied by this kind of emotive, irrational intimidation.   These are the people who spread the word that you are narrow, nasty and some kind of 21st Puritan bigot. (My favourite insult was the man who asked “How would you feel about being described as a 17th Century Puritan who uses Evangelical language” – an insult which I regarded as a compliment!).     But the gossip often works. I’ve lost count of the number of times I have gone to speak in a place and been told afterwards ‘you’re not as bad/nasty/dumb as they say you are!

The Strife of Tongues

I was asked today – how do you cope with this stuff? I’m not sure I do. I’m deeply conscious of my own flaws and sinfulness but I guess the best answer is to say that I just go to the Psalms – its astonishing how many of them are to do with gossip, lies and people speaking ill of you!   The tongue is a deadly poison…but my antidote is the truth, love and beauty of Christ. The purity of God’s Word is a tremendous refuge from the strife of tongues!

Chalke Responds…

Finally Chalke’s own response. As it happens I will be down in London this week. It was suggested that Premier’s ‘Unbelievable’ might host a discussion/debate between myself and Chalke. I would have been very happy to interrupt my schedule to do that. But it turns out that Steve has no desire to engage with me. It’s almost as though he is the Dawkins of liberal Christianity – only prepared to dialogue with those who agree with him or those who would look good on his CV!

I often find that people who are into conversation, dialogue and respect don’t have enough respect for those they disagree with to converse and dialogue! Personally I regard it as cowardly and as rude as hiding behind the wall of an anonymous blog.  So Steve will continue his ‘smile to camera’ demolition of Christian doctrine, safe in the knowledge that if anyone like me is stupid enough to challenge his newly found ‘lost message of Jesus’ – they can be suitably trashed by his fans on social media.

But the truth will out.

Let me stress again the only reason I bother with all this is not to have an argument (I have enough of those already) but because I genuinely believe what I said in the initial post – that Steve’s teaching takes us away from Christ.  And his glory is all.   I pray that anything I say that detracts from that will be removed.
Meanwhile I leave you with my Psalm from Sing Psalms for yesterday:

PSALM 37                  10 9 10 9 anapaestic

 

1          Do not fret on account of the wicked,

do not envy the ones who do wrong;

2          For like grass they will very soon wither,

like green plants they will not flourish long.

 

3          Put your trust in the LORD and be upright;

then secure in the land you will live.

4          Take delight in the LORD above all things—

the desires of your heart he will give.

 

5          To the LORD let your way be committed;

trust in him—he will do what is right.

6          Then your justice will shine like the morning,

your just cause like the sun in its might.

 

7          So be silent and seek the LORD’s presence,

and be patient until he replies;

Do not fret when you see the successful,

if their schemes are promoted through lies.

 

PS.   I just came across this:

David Robertson (who tweets as @theweeflea and is a Baptist minister in Dundee), has taken exception to the approach Steve Chalke (another Baptist minister and founder of the Oasis Charitable Trust) to the Bible. Robertson even compares Chalke to the devil, pretending to be ‘a smiling shining angel of light’; Chalke is a man who would have us follow him rather than Jesus, a man who makes up the Gospel to suit himself; a man who is a ‘false teacher’; a man whose message is ‘anti-Christ’.

I don’t mind a good argument about the Bible and how we use and interpret it. The Bible, like all of Christian doctrine, belief and practice, is an ‘essentially contested concept’ (as Stephen Sykes once put it). There has never been a time when all Christians in all places have agreed about any of it. To disagree – about the Bible, atonement, Mary, sin, grace, St Paul, icons, or even Jesus – is not to be ‘anti-Christ’; it is simply to be one fallible human being discussing important things with another fallible human being. There simply isn’t one right interpretation or understanding against which all others are wrong: there is no divine magisterium to which some people have access and others don’t, and have only, therefore, to obey.

But it’s more than that too. Disagreement about these things, however fundamental we think they are, even if we are looking for ‘good disagreement’ – which means we may never agree – does not turn the person you disagree with into the anti-Christ. David Robertson isn’t alone in doing this: the internet, especially Twitter, is full of people who appear to think that denigrating other people is the only way to get your point across – just look at some of the, frankly odious, responses to the appointment of Bishop Sarah Mullaly to London, let alone the ways in which our political debate has been so debased.

If I may use the Bible in this discussion, I would like to point to the way in which Jesus castigates those whose faith is based on self-righteousness rather than on love. I would also say that a faith that is completely dependent on being right is actually a form of fear, as if the whole house of cards will come crashing down if certainty about any of it is removed. It seems to me that the Christian faith is first and foremost a way of life, and not a house of any kind. I have argued before that I think it is also to forget that the God of Abraham, Isaac, Jacob, Jesus and Paul is a living God who has never stopped leading God’s people from where they think they would like to stop to where God would like them to be. And we haven’t got there yet. And the scary thing about stopping where you would like to be is that we tend to build a calf to worship and call it God.

The rush to judgement, the labelling of others as ‘anti-Christ’ or ‘heretic’ or ‘false teacher’ or ‘the least in the kingdom of heaven’, needs have no part in all our discussion and disagreement. Jesus (again, if I am allowed to bring him in to the discussion) seems to think that it is the fruit of a righteous life that matters, where even those who do not profess the faith we hold might be on the same side. Love not only defines the fundamental reality of the universe (God), and the fundamental kind of relationship we are to have with other people, it is the only thing that matters.

Jonathan Draper, General Secretary of Modern Church

I’m almost tempted to host a competition to see who can find the most flaws and logical fallacies in this nasty wee blog – but let me just say some.

  1. I’m not a Baptist minister
  2.  Yes there has been plenty of times when all Christians have agreed about some of the Bible!
  3. There is a divine magisterium – its called the Bible…and its not as obscure as Jonathan claims.
  4. Disagreeing with someone does not turn them into Anti-Christ….and I never said it did.  Disagreeing with, going against the message of Christ, does mean you are going against (Anti) Christ).  I claimed that Steve’s message was against the teachings of Christ rather than being ‘the lost message of Jesus’.   Again ironically Jonathan accuses me of going against the message of Christ thereby making me anti-Christ!
  5. Its not good to complain about the internet being used to denigrate people and then use the internet to denigrate me ie. Calling me self-righteous.
  6. Yep – Jesus does attack the Pharisees and the false teachers.   In very strong terms…which means Jonathan would condemn Jesus!
  7. Jonathan complains about a faith that is dependent on being right (again note the denigration he gets into) whilst of course being convinced that he is right to say this!
  8. The Christian faith is not a house – but Jesus and his apostles would disagree….but who are they to say they are right!
  9. Yes  – there is a calf being built.  Your own theology and ideology being set up as a replacement for the sure and certain word of God.
  10. Yes – indeed – you have rushed to judgement.  And as I listen to you all I hear is judgement.
  11. Yes – Jesus does say we should live a righteous life but he does not say it doesn’t matter what faith you have.  The first commandment is to love the Lord your God with all your heart, soul and mind.  We are not permitted just to invent our own gods or worship idols.
  12. Love is the only thing that matters.  The only problem is that Jonathan is unable to define love – not least because he is unable to say who God is.

This is a great example of what happens when you reject the God of the Bible.  You end up making your own waffle, and being judgemental in your own name (all of course whilst declaring you are being non-judgemental).

 

 

 

 

 

46 thoughts on “The Chalke Response

  1. While following your ‘discussion’ with The Mouse I was ready to jump in with my trusty sword in one hand and swinging my helmet with the other if I thought it was needed, but you did well to hold your truthful ground, upsetting though the experience must have been.

    Feeling unsettled, off I went off to my weekly intercessory prayer session, meeting up with my indomitable 80+ years prayer warrior friend to do business with the Sacred Three. And what a time we had – you would have loved it.

    As always, and among many other things, we prayed that God would bring repentance into His Church; light a flame within the hearts of ministers/leaders/members so that we would blaze brightly for Jesus in our generation, holding fast to the Word of God as we are instructed to do.

    We pleaded with God to rise up and scatter his enemies and in tears called out to Him to save this generation of children from the enemy. As always, you were prayed for and my prayer warrior friend does not hold back in asking for strength, protection, opportunities and wisdom and thanking God for men and women who are on the Lord’s side.

    Off home I went, not feeling unsettled any more and thoughts of snarling dogs (and mice) long gone; instead a heart full of joy and thankfulness that we serve a living Saviour who is our Strength, a God who is a fortress, whose word is eternal and whose faithfulness to us will see us through the good days and the not so good.

    May the Spirit of the Lord anoint you, keep you, bless you. May He be glorified in all our lives for He alone is worthy.

    Sheila

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  2. I’d also been reading “Fret not thyself because of the ungodly…” (BCP) and been struck by how apposite.
    Easy to say, not easy to do, but praying for you, David.

    “…a 17th Century Puritan who uses Evangelical language” – a compliment indeed 🙂

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  3. David

    There are many things I could say so, quite simply, are you not ‘playing the man’ when you write

    “It’s almost as though he [Chalke] is the Dawkins of liberal Christianity – only prepared to dialogue with those who agree with him or those who would look [good?] on his CV!”

    That is nasty

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    1. Maybe…except I am dealing with his refusal to engage in dialogue and conversation – preferring instead to snipe at biblical Christians from the sidelines…so no, on reflection I don’t think it is playing the man….and I don’t think its nasty – as least not as nasty as Paul telling the circumcising heretics to go the whole way and castrate themselves! Or Jesus calling the Pharisees white-washed tombs – twice dead!

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      1. Maybe we are too soft on false teachers in case we are seen as unloving. In the case of Chalke, his good works (charity) don’t give him the right to make up what he believes as he goes along. I can’t think of anything more egotistical than someone thinking that he/she can reinvent the Christian faith – what utter arrogance!

        If the Bible has no authority then what do we have as authority? The opinions of our Church leaders perhaps, which in effect would make churches little more than cults and leaders like Gurus,

        Shame, he doesn’t want to discuss this with you. He was made to look ridiculous in his debates with Andrew Wilson so perhaps he’s wise not to engage with you as the outcome would be unfavourable.

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      2. The nasty bit was imputing to him the motive of wanting scalps for his CV. That was ad hominem

        By all means comment on what he says, rather than why you think he might say it

        If you think it is heretical, then say so and explain why, again without commenting on him or whether he is ignorant, stupid, sly, satanic, schizophrenic etc,

        If you think this is a castration issue, then say so and explain why this is as bad as the early church misunderstanding justification by grace through faith

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      3. No it wasn’t ad hom – it was a dig at Richard Dawkins and is a referral to Dawkins refusal to debate those who are beneath him. What bothers me (and what you don’t mention) is why would someone who asks for a conversation refuse to debate those who disagree with him. And I never said he was ignorant, stupid, sly, satanic, schizophrenic etc so why bring that up? Sounds a bit nasty and ad hom to me! You need me to explain to you why denying the Bible is the Word of God, saying Moses ‘misheard’ God or misrepresenting what Jesus says, denying what Jesus says about marriage etc….is a serious issue?

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      4. Only if you’re in Dundee! I’m kind of busy….and personally I’m not really into discussing Chalke with other people….but I guess it depends what these matters are…

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      5. David,

        Of course those statements you attribute to Chalke are serious. My point was not to attribute motives to him. Nor did I say that you had said that list of ‘s’ about Chalke,

        Nevertheless I think some of your readers have said that he is the antichrist or something not far short. Comments that he cannot be a Christian are akin to MacArthur saying that anyone denying Penal Substitution is not a Christian.

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      6. No – if you read the article you will have seen that I said his message was anti-Christ – and it is because it directly contradicts what Jesus said. This is way beyond denying penal substitution…

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  4. David — I am so very pleased with your clear stand for truth, and your careful evaluation of Chalke, and your critics. Much encouraged that you are a pillar for the truth.

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  5. David,

    You already know, but just to remind you: the only opinion in response to your article that really matters is God’s.

    Time will tell for the “well done good and faithful servant” but until then how do we know the mind of Christ?
    Q. 3. What is the Word of God? A. The holy Scriptures of the Old and New Testament are the Word of God, the only rule of faith and obedience.

    I think you stand on good ground. Don’t be silenced, but don’t forget to rest.

    Joyously in Christ,
    Andrew

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  6. David, Can you confirm if you were or not referring to me or Dominic in regards to your comment of “sticking your boot into others”.
    I don’t tweet so i don’t know if you were referring to tweet comments or us who commented on your post.
    Our commentary of Rick Warren is not sticking your boot into others. Instead it’s doing what you do at times, creating an awareness and raising a red flag.
    Yes we must distinguish between salvtion, health and so what issues.
    Yet we are also to be aware of unhealthy teaching taught by those with mass influence.
    Doing this is not sticking the boot in.
    Again i don’t know who you were referring to. A clarification of this would b great if you have the time. Thanks

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      1. Thanks for responding David, I can now relax and get a good nights sleep.
        Even though it 5 am here in Western Australia and i just got up !

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  7. David Robertson thank you so very much for speaking out the truth with such courage and clarity. Thank you for your persistence and your willingness to put your head above the parapet and to speak so well on so many topics to a world where sound reasoning and the truth is increasingly being ignored attacked and dismissed by blind fools in a world gone beyond mad.
    I stand with you, you are not alone, and I pledge to pray for you each and every day. Thank you.

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  8. I had never heard of “Modern Church”, but out of interest I googled it.
    This quote featured in bold on the website is revealing:

    “…‘I am not of the opinion that we should stick with what Martin Luther did 300 years ago, because only death remains fixed. Life is always in motion.’”

    The conclusion sounds all dynamic and buzzy, but there’s a problem with the main premiss. Didn’t somebody once say that Heaven and Earth would pass away and indeed death itself, but not his Word?

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  9. It’s a little surprising to see so few comments on this and your original blog bearing in mind the importance of the matter, and the osmosis influence of Chalke’s teaching. Is it due to apathy , ignorance, an inability to bring anything fresh to the table, or an undisclosed change in editorial policy over postings, or rapid transition from one topic to another and the needed harnessing of your health resources?
    As with the CoS and the manipulated non debate with???, and with Dollar, it would appear to be unrealistic to expect Chalke to debate – it is not the way they operate.
    It would be expecting too much of Chalke to familiarise himself with DA Carson’s fairly recent tome on Scripture.

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  10. David

    Since you say some pretty tough things about me above, I hope you will have the grace to allow me a short reply. Firstly, I deeply regret that our conversation got out of hand. After 10 years on twitter, this was possibly the worst conversation I’ve had and I am ashamed that I allowed it to go the way it did. I can understand why you felt my first two tweets were harsh and direct and I could have approached them differently.

    I will repeat what I said before – I don’t believe you lied and never said so. I am truly baffled that you cannot accept that it is possible to make a false statement that is an honest and genuinely held error. This is what I believe you have done. This is quite different from an deliberate intention to deceive (a lie), which I don’t believe you were attempting. I can only once again ask you to reflect on this and take me a little more at my word.

    With regard to the conduct of our conversation, after again expressing my regret that I did not seek to calm it down more effectively, I’m afraid I don’t recognise your description above and invite you readers to read the exchange themselves (starting here https://twitter.com/thechurchmouse/status/950128656696922116). At no point did I impugn your motivations or make any comment on you personally. I never made any comment on anything other than the text of your article. I repeatedly attempted to explain that I did not believe you to be a liar, just in error, and repeatedly asked you to calm your language. I must say, however, that you did make some comments about me personally and have done so again above. Your final tweet to me yesterday in which you called me “smug, superior, irrational, dishonest and unbiblical” was particularly hurtful.

    Since you cite as evidence of my dishonesty my reference to ‘two words’, I have checked your article once again and note that you quote Steve on 8 separate occasions, half of which are between one and four words. Two of them are one word (‘dialogue’ and ‘misheard’), one is three words (‘smooth talking preachers’) and one is four words (‘lost message of Jesus’). To describe these as ‘two words’ is clearly wrong, but I don’t think totally unreasonable given the brevity requirements of twitter.

    So in conclusion, I hugely regret the way the conversation went. I have never met you or come across you before this article and have nothing whatsoever against you personally. I would only ask that you reflect on this and consider your personal comments about me here and elsewhere. I don’t always get it right when discussing things online, but we should certainly aim as Christians for the highest level of integrity in our public conversations and I don’t think either of us achieved that in this instance. I regret my part in that.

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    1. Thanks – very difficult to respond since you are able to hide behind the cover of anonymity.

      Yes it wasn’t pleasant and I didn’t appreciate your accusing me of ‘making false claims’ or saying that Chalke said things he did not say (and I do regard that as the equivalent of saying I am lying)… But lets accept that that was not what you intended to say…what I am more concerned with is that you think that Chalke did not say what I said (despite the quotes). I did find your tweets smug, superior, irrational, unbiblical and dishonest. Sorry about that.

      When one word is put in quotes its usually a way of just emphasising that particular word – the context made it clear. My quotes were not just two words’.

      I have nothing against you personally because I havn’t a clue who you are. I found your attacks on me unhelpful, and dishonest. I will reflect on my own comments (and I have done)…can I suggest you reflect on yours. And the next time you want to accuse someone of misrepresenting or making false claims about someone else, can I suggest you be more careful how you do it? I have sympathy with this – I also regret things I say online. In this instance I regret that our interaction took away from the dangers of Chalke’s heresies…

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  11. I would not be a Christian, had I not been faced with the fact I am a sinner. And liberal Christianity avoids this truth like the plague! Hiding behind the veil of “we are all sinners”, but devoid of a solution to sin, because such a solution must be found in a reliable source, and as the bible is unreliable, we cannot look there. So where do we look?
    Well liberal Christianity doesn’t provide a solution, it acknowledges the indisputable disposition of sin, but in the absence of an objective solution, allows us to retain our sinfulness. So sinners remain sinners. The power of sin is not rendered ineffective. Newness of life is not imparted. Minds are not renewed. We just have a sinners club. And such is anti-Christ, because it makes the cross of no effect.

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    1. gene515

      By God’s grace, I became a Christian by joining up the dots, rather like the Ethopian eunuch. And I rejoiced that God was on His throne and all would be well. Maybe you would say that, because I was not convicted of sin, like Paul and you, that I was not a Christian.

      My next six years were spent in a well-known conservative evangelical church where I was robbed of the joy of my salvation, and was reminded daily of my sin (which never ‘felt’ forgiven), and started to doubt whether I was a Christian. Perhaps that showed that I was, by then, a Christian !?!

      I would never describe myself as liberal, but I think liberalism does “acknowledges the indisputable disposition of sin” and “an objective solution” in the form of the Cross, even though they may prefer the Christus Victor theory over the Transfer of Penalty theory.

      As for “retain our sinfulness”, Luther would claim that we would always remain ‘peccator’. Nor, for me or for others I know, is “the power of sin rendered ineffective”. Wesley tried to persuade us of that but 1 John makes it clear we ( well that is most of us – I haven’t met you so I don’t know) do sin.

      I agree “Newness of life is imparted” and “Minds are renewed” but I doubt we mean the same thing by this

      Yes, the cross cancels the power of sin – but the power or authority of sin to condemn us. Only glory will render ineffective the power of sin to tempt, lure and influence us

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      1. Richard, thank you for the reply. To clarify, I do not hold the view we need to be constantly aware of sin. In the truth of the gospel, ‘there is no condemnation to those in Christ Jesus,’ and ‘sin no longer has dominion.’
        And like you, my awareness of sin became acute after my journey of faith began. But I discovered the conscience is made clear, not by denial of the sin that is revealed to us, but applying the solution.
        It was not possible to find deliverance and salvation from the power of sin, until I knew I had a problem with it. Until we undertake our journey, we are blissfully unaware. However, like Pilgrim, the purpose of becoming aware of the burden of sin, is to bring about deliverance, not through ignorance.

        I’m glad you raise the issue of ‘feeling’ forgiven. That is a point indeed. The gospel is to impart an understanding that forgiveness is not based upon how we feel. But an objective fact. My feelings can be come what may, but they do not determine the truth. Wesley has persuaded many of this truth. So did Paul.
        The challenge of 1 John is not to the teaching of Wesley or the like, but the liberal that refuses to acknowledge sin in the first place. Wesley and Paul do not deny sin, they proclaim the gospel that renders sin ineffective, so it no longer has dominion in the life of the Christian, who abides in Christ, the solution.

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      2. Gene,
        Thank you for your useful reply which then raises other interesting points
        Yes – applying the solution, which is external
        Yes – an awareness of sin often comes later (though some assume it is integral to conversion/rebirth)
        Yes – the feeling of, indeed joy at, being forgiven will follow – unless Gal 3.3 – some rob you of it as happened to me

        My joy was taken from me because this particular large London conservative evangelic church was big on the ‘by their fruits shall you know them’ verse, and I ‘felt’/perceived I had very little to show. This made the gospel no longer external. Effectively I returned to a Roman Catholic position of assessing my salvation by my progress/works. I know this happens a lot and many leave. Those that stay tend to be the complacent ones, so the application of the law to them gets stronger, under the guise of the Third Use of the Law which Luther himself

        We are often taught that, on rebirth we are freed from the power of sin to condemn and to influence us, and in glory we will be free from the presence of sin. However I would depart from you and Wesley on this perfectionism. I think the bible suggests that, in the Christian life, we are still very much under the power of sin to influence, and in our weakness, we do fall. Nevertheless I recognise that I must acknowledge the ‘power’ of 1 Corinthians 10:13 !!

        That common ‘power’ interpretation works alongside the ‘fruit’ verse to suggest that if you sin, you are either not a Christian or you have sinned willfully, for which a harsher penalty is reserved (Hebrews). No joy either way!

        Like you, I prefer the word ‘dominion’.to ‘power’ since this lessens the risk of that ‘joy-robber’

        In schools, teachers are told not to focus on bad behaviour but encourage, praise and reward good behaviour and see the bad behaviour fall away. Sharing the gospel should surely really be the same. (That’s not to say we just preach the love of God as some liberals do. By no means! We preach the forgiveness and mercy of God which begs the question from what have we been released and forgiven)

        How say you??

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    1. This is a bit odd.

      Some of us felt that David’s criticisms of Chalke might be founded but others seemed ad hominem. But when we point this out, we are accused of being ad hominem.

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      1. My namesake (Richard F) suggested you were being ad hominem when you suggested Chalke would not want to meet you because you would not look good on his CV

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  12. There’s confusion sometimes over what is or isn’t ad hominem. William Lane Craig very helpfully and also entertainingly clarifies here:

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  13. Interesting. WLC might be right that

    ad hominem = to reject a man and therefore reject his arguments

    whereas something like

    contra hominem = to reject a man’s arguments and therefore reject the man

    The first is illogical, and the second is unkind ?

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  14. David,
    You may be interested in this link to a large number of comments on an original blog Post by David Bennett on a blog of CoE theologian Ian Paul. You may recall DB who was converty from radical gay activism. I think you linked a link from Sam Allberry a good while ago, but not sure.
    The comments seem to include those from high profile Anglicans and seem to reveal what is going on in the CoE with SSM, LGBT, theology and Chalke’s contribution and influence. Scrolling down to final comments show a signing off of my penny’s worth in a running engagement with someone, Penelope Cowell Doe, who seems to be prominent with significant influence and underpinning anti – christ, liberal theology in the whole debate . It is highly instructive, as are all the comments. I wonder if this level of engagement happened in the CoS or Episcoplian Church in Scotland.
    Reading into today’s Times, it seems as though the CoE have deferred SSM decision for three years.
    Although I have no idea of who the people are. It seems that one of the contribibutors is in the process of preparing a paper for Synod? on the subject, but hasn’t come to a conclusion yet.
    The CoE needs prayers as much as all of us do.
    https://www.psephizo.com/sexuality-2/a-plea-for-inclusion/comment-page-1/#comment-350477

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  15. hi David,

    I stumbled across this site from a link via Justin Brierly and have found lots of it helpful.

    I remember watching a long debate with yourself and Peter Tatchell some years ago on a Christian station and have to say it was a wonderful conversation. Not just what you said but more how you said it to each other.

    I am surprised that issues like the ones raised in this article are still raging in 2018, I thought this must have been a historical debate as the views Steve Chalke presented have been the case for a few years.

    I don’t wise to wade into the gay marriage debate particularly, as I have done many times before.

    However, my biggest concern is how do we decide which parts of the Bible still apply to today and which ones don’t.

    For example, the new testament to me (a layman) appears to be very hard hitting on divorce and remarriage unless their has been adultery. My other pressing question with regard to what does apply and doesnt from scripture is, why is divorce and remarriage so acceptable in the evangelical church and yet homosexual marriage isnt?

    I would love your thoughts (and any one elses) on this who wishes to engage.
    I honestly dont have any agenda here other than seeking Biblical truth.

    I have asked this question repeatedly of many friends and Biblical teachers and sadly as yet havent had a helpful answer.

    God bless,
    gav

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    1. Thanks Gav…..You are correct the NT is hard hitting on divorce and remarriage. From my perspective we should be no more accepting of divorce and remarriage (except on biblical grounds) than we should of homosexual marriage – it does appear to be a bit ‘pick’n’ mix. Although I have to say that it may sometimes appear like this because it is the society which keeps raising the question…largely its their obsession not ours⁄

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  16. Thanks so much David,

    So do you feel that Christian churches and leaders should refuse to marry people who have previously been married and since divorced unless there was adultery?

    Should the archbishop refuse to marry Harry to Meg as she has been married before?

    I really am seeking truth on this.

    I met a guy I havent seen for years last week and sadly found out his marriage had ended, but after 4 years apart he had found someone new. I didnt know whether to be happy for him that he was finally moving on, or that Biblically the right advice is for him and his ex-wife to reconcile? What if one party doesnt want to reconcile? Is the best biblical advice to remain single for life?

    This is a very common issue in the church sadly, and of course marriage is a very difficult commitment to follow through on. I certainly am no expert or saint in this area. I worry that we arent being consistent with regards to remarriage at all and there is a real lack of teaching and specific application of scripture in this albeit it sensitive area.

    Thanks hugely for your time.

    God bless,
    gav

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    1. Its a wee bit more complex – but in general yes – but to some extent it depends on the years and the changes in circumstances. The situation you describe would be dependent on the reasons for the divorce. I agree with your last paragraph

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  17. Thanks for your reply. I would love you to do a fuller blog on this as time allows.

    Can you expand on the years and changes in circumstances bit?

    I realise it is a very complex issue.

    God bless
    gav

    Like

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