Bible Christianity Jesus Christ Theology

Steve Chalke and the Cross of Christ

Steve Chalke is often presented on mainstream Christian media (and indeed the secular media) as a Christian preacher who presents one point of view – that many do not agree with – but who nonetheless remains a Christian whose views are just a different take on Christianity.   In reality it has been many years since Rev. Chalke has taught anything approaching biblical Christianity, but in the latest of his hubristic attempts to emulate Luther’s 95 Theses, he has reached a new low. His attack on the cross of Christ is desperately sad and is about as anti-Gospel as you can imagine.

In three talks (Chalke Talk 33 – Traditional view of the cross “cheapens God’s forgiveness”, 34- “Misunderstanding the Cross has made Church ‘angry’ and ‘judgemental’ and 35- “Christianity is not a personal rescue plan”) Chalke shows just how far he has gone.   Here is no. 35


I’m afraid that I can’t recommend watching this or any of the others. It’s not just the smarmy and mocking approach that makes them so hard to watch – it’s the dumbed down reasoning and the sheer anti-Christian teaching done in the name of Christ.   Chalke in this sense is far more dangerous and far more dishonest than most atheist apologists.

Here are some of the arguments he makes. (Some of them are just 19th Century Protestant liberalism rehashed (although Chalke seems genuinely to believe he is being original – I suspect he is being fed this stuff and doesn’t really know what he is talking about) and some of them are so foolish and irrational that I suspect some people will think I am making them up- but if you doubt it listen to the talks).

1) He rejects any concept of the wrath of God – if God is angry he is a slave to his own anger – despite what the Bible and Jesus teaches. “Since we have now been justified by his blood, how much more shall we be saved from God’s wrath through him!” (Romans 5:9).In his comments on the hymn ‘In Christ Alone’ he supports the view of the PCUSA that it is wrong to sing about the wrath of God being satisfied and should be replaced with ‘The Love of God was ‘ magnified’ – Chalke and his fellow liberals in the PCUSA forget that the love of God is magnified by the wrath of God against injustice and sin, being satisfied. I’m not sure how the Love of God is magnified by just excusing rather than dealing with sin.  That’s ok Hitler – I’ll just forgive you, because love wins!

2) He takes the world as his criteria and uses their arguments. He accepts the caricature of the Simpson’s Ned Flanders.   It bothers Chalke that the cross is ‘foolishness to the world’ – It bothers me when professing Christians try to so amend the cross that it is acceptable to the world!     “For the message of the cross is foolishness to those who are perishing, but to us who are being saved it is the power of God.(1 Corinthians 1:18)

3) Its pagan to see the cross as a sacrifice of blood.   It is equal to virgins being sacrificed. The early OT is simply a reflection of the worship cults of the pagan religions that surrounded Israel. Chalke’s understanding of history is as poor as his blasphemous theology.   The early OT (as well as the later and the New) is a challenge to the pagan culture, not a copy of it. Chalke’s cavalier and dishonest use of the Bible is shown by his misuse of Hosea 6:6 – God desires mercy not sacrifice.  This ignores completely the context – the wrath of God (which Chalke says doesn’t exist) against his people for ignoring his covenant. We sow the wind and we reap the whirlwind (Hosea 8:7).

4) Why doesn’t God just forgive sin – after all that is what he asks us to do? If God needs sacrifice is there really forgiveness? Yes – without the shedding of blood there is no forgiveness of sins (Hebrews 9:22).   Chalke forgets that we are not God – without sin, holy and pure. And that sin is ultimately against God, not us.

5) The Cross makes an absolute mockery of Jesus’s teaching. God himself is unwilling to follow the teaching of Jesus. Like most attempts to be smart and witty, this just ends up being blasphemous. It is also a nonsense and a dishonest misrepresentation of the teaching of Jesus – who taught about the wrath of God, judgement and hell more than anyone. Chalke does not believe in the Jesus who came to give his life as a ransom for many, for their sins.

6) The substitionary theory of the atonement is something borne out of 16th Century European reformation thinking, driven by the legal mindset of lawyer John Calvin.   Jesus taught us our Father, Calvin taught us our lawyer. Steve Chalke is the evangelical Dan Brown of church history. He has clearly not read either the Church Fathers or John Calvin – whose teaching about the Fatherhood of God is beautiful. Lies are not any the more attractive just because they come in the form of a Twitter like sound-bite.

7) The church is judgemental, bigoted and self-righteous because of this theory of the cross.  Says the man who is being judgemental, bigoted and self-righteous about those who don’t accept his theory of the cross. The reality is there are always people who bring shame on what they believe by how they express it.   Christ dying on the cross for our sins is not the cause of judgementalism, bigotry and self-righteousness – it is the cure.

8) The cross is a demonstration of God’s love but not Christ dying for our sins. Jesus did not die on the cross for our sins but just absorbs the injustices of all around.   The Cross demonstrates that Jesus practiced what he taught….he goes the extra mile and just absorbs evil, he soaks up hate, rejection and pain. Demonstrating what a true Messiah really looks like.   The cross is not about Gods anger but humanities.  The idea of the cross as just a demonstration (it does of course demonstrate the love of Jesus) is horrific. If the cross was not necessary then it is as ridiculous to say it was a demonstration of love as it would be for me to say that my jumping of the Tay Bridge and committing suicide somehow showed my wife how much I loved her!

9) The Biblical/traditional teaching of the cross is “biblically deficient, pastorally disastrous and culturally catastrophic. “  The truth is precisely the opposite.   Chalke’s view is demonstrably opposed to the Bible. It is also pastorally disastrous. Take away the cross and I have nothing powerful and real to offer my people. What can wash away your sin? Nothing but the blood of Jesus.   And the cultural catastrophe occurs when the Church compromises with and just reflects the culture. Chalke sadly is someone who reads the bible through the lens of the culture, not the culture through the lens of the bible.

10) Putting everything on the Cross reduces the 33 years of Jesus’s life and work to one weekend. That is not what the Gospels are about. Chalke clearly does not get the Gospels. If anyone reads them you will note that 50% of each Gospel is about the death of Christ. They are not traditional biographies.   The Gospel writers clearly saw that the heart and centre of their good news, was the death and resurrection of Jesus. This is why he came. The sneering mocking comment about a weekend is appallingly ignorant. We know almost nothing about the first 30 years of Jesus life – that is for a reason. His ministry and teaching did not begin until his baptism. His miracles proved he was the Son of God, his teaching got him killed and all this was the purpose for his life. For Chalke to be so sneeringly dismissive of the Gospel writers is for him to be sneeringly dismissive of Christ.

11) If God needed a sacrifice how could Jesus go round forgiving sins before his death?   Jesus would have said to Nicodemeus – ‘ you have to be born again but unfortunately Nick – not just yet”. Why did Jesus preach or teach at all?   If it all depended on the cross?  It’s hard to see how this argument can be taken seriously.   Abraham, Moses and all the saints of the Old Testament were forgiven by looking forward to Christ, those of us who live after the Cross look backwards. The Cross is the centre. Chalk again mocks in ignorance.

12) Its like an instant forgiveness cash machine – a personal rescue plan – no inbuilt challenge to moral change   It makes Jesus death the entire content of our good news.    Yes we do preach Christ crucified. That is the centre of the Gospel message. Christ is dead for you, is the Good News. Christ is risen for you is the Good news. But the notion that this has no moral implications is absurd. It is beyond irony that a man who teaches that the Gospel is ‘God accepts you just as you are’, now argues that it is about ‘moral change’. Chalke is a classic liberal legalist, who because he rejects the Cross-, imposes a burden upon people that no one can carry

13) Those who uphold to the traditional view don’t mention the resurrection because for them it’s not necessary; it’s just a happy ending. That is just a straightforward lie. I have never met anyone who teaches the Cross of Jesus who does not mention the resurrection. Jesus was shown to be the Son of God in power by his resurrection from the dead (Romans 1:4).

14) The biblical view of the cross fails to engage, hearts, minds and thinking of our culture as we search for answers to questions. Fails to speak to or challenge our culture in any significant way. What does the Cross mean for wider affairs of our local community or our governments foreign policy or the challenge to the market economy or the issue of climate change?  The Biblical view of the Cross does engage hearts, minds and the thinking of our culture. It challenges and it goes far deeper than the cheap, superficial and shallow applications of Chalkes version of the Cross.   Nothing challenges our culture like the Cross. It is offensive to our culture. Chalkes message on the other hand is just a political and cultural liberalism that tells our culture it is right all along.


There are however two areas where Chalke is right. The words of the songs we sing matter as do the words of the theologians we read. Which is why I question the wisdom of mainstream Christian media who report Chalke as a Christian teacher, when he clearly is nothing of the sort.

Chalke is also right to say that what we believe shapes the way we behave. Indeed. “For, as I have often told you before and now tell you again even with tears, many live as enemies of the cross of Christ.” (Philippians 3:18)

And there is one area of cheer as regards Chalke. Whilst the secular and religious establishments welcome him, it appears that ordinary Christians are not interested in his heresies. His videos have hardly taken off – the one I have just cited was at the time of writing viewed by just 382 people. I suspect that this will not be a new Reformation for the Church!   But we need to beware and to warn the Lord’s people of the dangers of the wolves who seek to destroy the flock through their false teaching.   Enough.

The Chalke Conversation – Agreement and Disagreement

The Anti-Christ Message of Steve Chalke

PS. (Please feel free to pass this on to those most at risk – those young in the faith who may be deceived by the smile and the nice words and what at a superficial level appear to be attractive concepts)












  1. Thank you for your commitment to responding to this kind of vile, contaminating nonsense. ‘Contaminating’ in that it is so plausible to those who just don’t know their Bibles. I am a pastoral tutor for a diocesan training programme. The course is fairly minimal on Bible content and one meets tutees who swallow Chalke-ery having no perspective from which to judge it.

  2. How desperately sad to see how far this man has departed from the Biblical Gospel 🙁 Does he even bother reading God’s word? It is a reminder of how vitally important it is for us to read the Bible and to sit under faithful Bible teaching so that we can discern such false teaching. What was it Jesus said? “If you hold to my teaching, you are really my disciples. Then you will know the truth, and the truth will set you free.” (John 8:31-32)

  3. You offer (only) two bible verses of relevance in a defence of Penal Substitution.

    Rom 5.9 does not support the PS idea that the Father took out His wrath on His son, merely that He is wrathful and there will come a time when that wrath issues is judgment. This might sound the same but it is not

    Heb 9.22 does not say what you, a teacher of Israel, says that it says. It. starts ‘under the law’. This might sound the same but it is not

    Your view of scripture suggests you should amend your misquote of Heb 9.22 immediately

    1. Oh dear. Please don’t try to be clever especially when you are accusing people of false teaching and misquoting. Read everything in context. Hebrews 9:22 does say that under the law ‘nearly everything be cleansed with blood’ before adding ‘and without the shedding of blood there is no forgiveness’. In case you think that only refers to the law if you go back to verse 14 you will see that the whole point of the chapter is to talk about how the blood of Christ cleanses us from all sin, so that we may serve the living God. The whole of Hebrews teaches penal substitution.

      Romans 5:9 does teach that something which Chalke denies (the wrath of God) and in the context of the whole chapter it does teach that Christ died to save us from that wrath.

      1. I think I need to say ‘don’t be so patronising’

        The fact is that you misquoted Heb 9.22 and, even now, do not repent of it

        Yes, I can go back to v14 but then I can go back to v1 too. Hebrews is about the out-datedness of the old covenant, which you nevertheless want to call on to justify a 500 year old penal and ‘blood’ notion

        Do you want to correct your misquote of v22 or are you happy with your abbreviation of it?

      2. Believe me that was not patronising….I was simply pointing out how you ignored context and misquoted in order to accuse me of the very same thing. I quoted Hebrews 9:22 perfectly (I didn’t quote the whole verse because it was not necessary any more than it was necessary to quote the whole chapter. You are aware that the Bible was not written in verses and chapters?)….it does say without the shedding of blood there is no forgiveness of sins and it is not just talking about the cleansing of the outward things in the Old Covenant temple v.1 refers to this – but verses 11-14 refer to the fact that it is the blood of Christ which obtains eternal redemption. Unless you are arguing that Hebrews was written in the 16th Century (who knows with the kind of post-modern liberal ‘Christian’ way of looking at things – that may be possible!) then your comment on blood is as blasphemous as it is ignorant.

  4. “The words we sing do matter…” A visiting preacher, last Sunday mentioned “cosmic child abuser” (I think dismissing it, – I wasn’t paying much attention at that time ) but went on to say that she had no difficulty with the love of God being “reckless” pointing out that there had been disagreement on social media. For those who may not know, there is a newish song called “Reckless Love”.
    Afterwards, I said to her that, while there was an abandon to the love of God in Christ Jesus, there is no way the Cross of Christ could be described as reckless in the ordinary meaning of the word. It is deliberate, preplanned and I then when on to link the idea of reckless love with a similar theological foundation as cosmic child abuser. (With a caveat that I didn’t know for sure -though she didn’t disagree ). I also mention that God’s love is only ever Holy Love and as she had a theology degree would know that Jonathan Edwards highlighted as do others, that there is a beauty to that Holiness. I was surprised at the bristling response which was basically, that she had a theology degree and drew a distinction between my understanding as a Christian and how none Christians who lived unloved and unlovely lives (presumably younger) would respond better to the idea that God’s love for them was reckless and then went onto link it with work with drug addicts and how society and others shunned by mainstream society would consider that work as reckless love. Again I disagreed. I’m more lost in wonder love and praise that Christ deliberately died for me and said that working with the rejected is not loving them recklessly but loving them till it hurts, at a cost.
    Dear O Dear. Maybe it was because of me that she bristled.

  5. Thank you for opposing this blasphemous material. Haroon

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  6. For all this liberal false teaching, it remains as fruitless as the nature and origin of its seed.
    The reason all of this liberal gibberish is expressed, is because of the fact sin abounds, and we continue to reap what we sow. The cry of Paul in Romans 7 is that of every soul who gets a dose of their own heart. ‘Oh wretched man that I am, who shall save me?’
    Not the liberal gospel that God loves me anyway. No, rather the Cross, upon which all my guilt and shame is laid up on him. The cross that did not subdue its victim, nor merely change their behaviour. The cross has one purpose. Execution. Death. Rendered lifeless. That is the gospel of Christ, to be found in him is for the wrath of God to be satisfied, and sin to no longer have dominion.
    The liberal gospel has no solution to sin, other than to claim God loves us despite our sin, and our sins are not that sinful anymore.

  7. I recently watched the ‘Monster god debate’ with Brian Zahnd and Michael Brown which discusses these issues. Perhaps you’ve seen it too; it’s worth a watch, it’s on YouTube.

    Rather than simply take sides I’d like to point out something I noticed in all of this which I see going on here too.

    In that debate I saw disagreement but I also saw something else: slight confusion. I see two opposing sides who both know they are not 100% right and suspect that at times their opponent has a point- but can’t admit it because they don’t really understand it.

    But here’s where the confusion comes in: both sides are so passionate that they have ‘the truth’ they are unable to really listen to what is really being said by the opponent. It’s not surprising when you realise that each came into the debate mainly ready to speak not to listen. Then you see all sorts of disagreements and discussion going on about things the other person didn’t actually say. Perhaps you are a perfect communicator- I am not. I know we feel passionately that something about the truth as we see it is being put at risk but we should still be humble about this shouldn’t we? Just shout and rant instead if you like- it’s not going to get us very far.

    To see this in action for yourself- pretend for a moment that you know nothing and have no strong opinions and watch the monster god debate video. You’ll notice that Zahnd and Brown actually say very similar things- in different ways, using slightly different metaphors and language. They simply just don’t understand each other very much. (Although I think Zahnd seems more switched onto this phenomenon going on and you can feel both men trying hard to come to some unity of thought.)

    I’m describing what some call the culture wars. They’re not new but they do seem to be increasing. At times opposing sides equally need to come up for air, take some breaths, calm down and listen to what is being imperfectly communicated. I fear in our passion to defend ‘truth’ we lose our ability to really listen. We might find that we learn from one another. Look up people and notice what’s going on! The world isn’t interested in our ‘important’ opinions about what is ‘biblical’. It wants food, clothes, justice and love instead. There’s more ‘truth’ there than anyone’s imperfect opinion on the meaning of the cross.

    I say all this because I’ve been on a long journey and changed my mind on many things I once thought true. I simply learned more and understood more- that’s what we’re supposed to do isn’t it? I haven’t finished yet, perhaps I’ll change my mind again. I’m not wavering about though- I’m following a good direction that gets brighter every day.

    I’m glad that Jesus described another way of knowing that doesn’t depend on my cleverness or yours, or history or theologians. Jesus’ criteria for whether we truly ‘know’ him- is our treatment of the ‘least of these’, the poor, the refuge, the prisoner… (Matthew 25) Perhaps we can move towards a place where these kinds of debates are no longer that important because we see, trust and follow Jesus a little better instead. I suspect that Chalke, Robertson, Zahnd and Brown all ‘know’ some of this kind of ‘truth’. Now there’s a challenge to our binary thinking.

    1. The question of what any of us “knows” is not the point. The blogger is saying that Steve Chalke’s book directly contradicts scripture; that there is no scriptural mandate in the Bible for what he says. Some issues are legitimate areas of debate (e.g. the meaning of “predestined”) but some positions are simply heresy.

  8. You hear very little in evangelical churches about the wrath of God. It was as if it wasn’t relevant to them. Some of them are no doubt Chalkeites in embryonic form.

  9. For some further examination of the wrath of God go to ‘Community in mission What is the wrath of God?’

  10. For a lengthy discussion on various understandings of the Atonement, see: “Called to Communion – Catholic and Reformed conceptions of the Atonement”, including the comments from people of different backgrounds.0

  11. Never heard of this bloke before. Based on his charity work and the Stop the Trafik campaign and what it has achieved to date I can’t see what you’re so upset about.

    You’re whining about doctrinal interpretation and he’s out there ”mucking in”

    According to Wiki Tom Wright seems to think the bloke is all right and all you do is try to tear him to pieces.

    Let’s be honest, it is not as if Christian doctrine and biblical exegesis and hermeneutics is set in stone, is it?

    1. Ark,
      You are aware that Christianity is not Religion of Salvation by works. While in no way are his works of charity to be discounted they could be done by you, in your unbelief.
      I see from one of your comments on another post of David’s that you do read, or at least dip into the Bible. How about reading Ephesians Chapter 1 and 2 and even for the sake of a thought experiment, doubt your doubts and take it as read, as reality, why wouldn’t you want it? May the God you don’t believe, bless you richly,
      Yours in Christ,

      1. Some consider it is by faith AND by works.
        Certainly this is what it says in your bible I believe, yes?
        It was faith and works the last time I read it?
        Does your bible not have these particular verses?
        I can quote them if you like?

        I’ll read Ephesians again, sure, no problem, and we can have a discussion, if David permits?

        First, though, explain why James is wrong?

      2. Try again, Ark.
        It’s there in Ephesians and elsewhere. James, soaked in scripture, does not contradict this, referring back, echoing to two distinct events, episodes with Abraham. Works are evidence of faith.

      3. PS Ark,
        I take it that with all this charitable work of yours, you are saved!

      4. Catholic teaching – derived from biblical interpretation – consider faith and works.

        The Catholic religion preceded the Protestant faith, and the Catholics Church were the ones who authorised the original various ”books” that were canonized and went into the bible.

        So, based on this we have to say that the Catholics call the tune.

        Faith and works, Geoff.

      5. Ark,
        As an atheist, you are not a stakeholder, nor is Wiki a standard of competence in the discussion of faith and works.
        Catholics and Protestants can both gather around the Apostles Creed. You can’t and don’t.
        And lastly, you continue to demonstrate, why, even if permitted by David, I’d be reluctant to get involved in any conversation with you, particularly through limited and constrained medium of a comments section.
        Why wouldn’t you want what is set out in Ephesians Chapters 1 & 2?
        May you come to know Jesus.
        As an aside, as you are a street photographer, William Klein, Tony Ray-Jones, Cartier- Bresson, Robert Frank, Martin Parr, and Don McCullin (Homecoming) are amongst some exemplars are they not?

      6. First: I’ve told you already. Ephesians is considered a disputed work, so the last thing I am going to is put any stock in a likely fraudulent piece of biblical text. My question is: why do you?
        Address this first, please, if you are going to recommend that I accept it. And please, don’t simply brush the issue off with another hand-wave type comment.

        Second: Catholic Doctrine is specific. Faith AND works.
        I researched the info directly from a Catholic website. No Wiki. Although I am aware of the biblical passages I thought it best that as this is about a doctrinal issue and its interpretation, then the Catholic perspective is surely the ”go-to” , as they were the compilation of the bible and the ones who established the final Canon. Although the Protestants rejected several books.
        Whether I have a stake is neither here nor there. You are arguing one perspective and I am merely pointing out the original perspective, and you are probably aware there are specific biblical verses where the biblical character Jesus of Nazareth confirms this.

  12. Our Mr Chalk has clearly lost his way & lost the plot. I would not like to be in his shoes in the impending Judgement before the Throne of God.
    Can you imagine the look on Chalk’s face as Jesus says to him, Get away from Me, I Never knew you!
    It wont go well for him on that day & no smarmy comment will cut any ice with God!

    1. Well Raymond, you don’t need to worry. You won’t be in Mr Chalk’s (sic.) shoes on that day. You will be in your own!

    2. Saved to serve and be Image Bearers, not idol worshippers.
      Take note of the foot washing and meal sharing in John 13. At the end of John ‘As the Father ……so I send you.’

  13. As I listened I found myself increasingly wondering whether Chalke believes in the Trinity. He kept mocking about a God who won’t forgive unless “someone else” pays for it. He says this is no forgiveness at all. He’s completely missed the point that it would be no forgiveness at all if it didn’t cost God. And it has cost God – not someone else, not even a chosen angel, but God the Son.
    Keller very helpfully said at the National Prayer Breakfast that all forgiveness involves self-renunciation (which is why our therapeutic age doesn’t really forgive). There is self-renunciation at the cross because the Father and Son are one.
    The word “heretic” should only be used very carefully, but can be used of Chalke from the evidence of these videos.

  14. Listened to 2 of S Chalke’s questions. Shocking! I literally started to feel sick! I don’t know if I can listen to any more of them. I don’t understand, and maybe nobody does, how someone who seemed to originally be ‘sound’ in theology, can depart and embrace and teach heresy at this level!!
    The other major problem I find with S. C’s bible teaching, is that I would have to follow him, or someone like him, in order to then truly understand and live the Christian life. I couldn’t just read the bible and let it speak to me. That is cult-like.

  15. I don’t think I could stomach having my own blog like you David. I would find it difficult and wearing, having an Ark enemy, on a daily basis, and more than one of them!

  16. “So that’s what I think .What do you think ? I think that you are playing a very dangerous game , Mr Chalke . What you or I , or any other would ever think is not the issue here. Your interpretation and overview of the NT scripture concerning the cross of Christ is indeed blasphemy . I suggest you read and believe what John Stott has covered in his classic , The Cross of Christ .

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