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The Lost Message of Chalke

Sometimes in life I have to do depressing things – reading Steve Chalke’s latest book was one of them.  The Lost Message of Paul is a depressing book for any biblical Christian with any degree of intelligence to read.  It’s shallow, superficial, dishonest and disingenuous.   But it is important that Christians know about this.  Chalke is now a wolf amongst the sheep….I wrote this review for my Christian Today column last week.   Please read and pass on if you feel it is appropriate to do so. 
Steve Chalke
Rev Steve Chalke

In 2004, Steve Chalke discovered ‘The Lost Message of Jesus’ and published his book with that name. Fifteen years later he has discovered ‘The Lost Message of Paul’, and this month publishes a book with that title.

This is an easy to read, and well-written book – much better stylistically than the earlier work. As always with Chalke the book will be described as ‘controversial’ and will delight some (like Rob Bell and Brian McLaren) and appal others. From a personal perspective, I found that The Lost Message of Paul contained some interesting information, provocative arguments, challenging questions and old heresies.

Steve argues that ‘all the old narratives are dead’ and that we need a ‘new story’. He blames Augustine, Luther and Calvin for getting Paul’s message wrong. But his new story suffers from some major defects.

Biblically Inaccurate

Amongst the other earth-shattering revelations, we are informed that Paul was not a Christian – “it is a mistake to regard Paul as a Christian. Paul wasn’t a Christian. He was a Jew”. This is sadly all too typical of the style that Chalke employs – make a shocking statement based on a false dichotomy and there are some who will say ‘wow’!

But others who know their Bibles will recognise that this particular theological emperor has no clothes. King Agrippa assumed that Paul was a Christian and that he was trying to make him one (Acts 26:28).

Chalke’s error is to forget that you can be both a Jew and a Christian (as most of the very early Christians were). Indeed you could argue that Paul was amongst the very first to be called a Christian. “And when he found him, he brought him to Antioch. So for a whole year Barnabas and Saul met with the church and taught great numbers of people. The disciples were called Christians first at Antioch.” (Acts 11:26)

Historically Hysterical

If the biblical understanding is all over the place, the historical is even worse. For example, Chalke tells us that the cross only began to appear as a symbol of Christianity in the 5th Century. But we have clear evidence of the cross being used as a symbol of Christianity from the 2nd Century. The Octavius of Minucius Felix, Clement of Alexandria, Tertullian all mention the cross as a Christian symbol – long before the 5th Century.

If you want to know what Luther, Calvin and Augustine thought and taught – don’t read this book!

Theologically Arrogant

As for the theological – it all depends on who you are listening to. According to Chalke “everyone agrees” that the Lutheran perspective on Paul, Judaism, faith and works was fundamentally misleading. Luther was mistaken to argue for justification by faith alone. Everyone? John Piper? Sinclair Ferguson? Philip Jenson? John Stott? Amy Orr-Ewing? Billy Graham? Al Mohler? Everyone?!

The arrogance is breathtaking. Luther, Calvin, Augustine, the Creeds and most of the Church did not understand faith, the cross or judgement – even Tom Wright gets it wrong. But never fear, Steve Chalke has now discovered it. This is, to say the least, a bold claim!

The arrogance doesn’t stop with historical figures though. Steve knows better than Jesus, Paul, David, John and the other authors of the Bible – they were apparently unaware that God is not to be referred to with a gender-specific pronoun. In fact, one wonders how Steve even knows what Paul thinks, or what he did, because Steve is not sure that Paul actually wrote many of the letters attributed to him.

This uncertainty results in a pick ‘n’ mix theology throughout the book – the Bible is not the infallible word of God, God cannot be wrath and love; there is no original sin; Adam and Eve is a myth; the atonement is “a pre-Christian pagan idea”; Hell has no place in Paul’s message. The Lost Message of Paul – seems a mirror image of The Lost Message of Jesus.

Strawmen

Tim Keller has a wise word for those of us who engage in dialogue and discussion. When we are arguing against something, we should always deal with the best of their case – not the worst. It’s a standard ‘worldly’ trick to set up strawmen which are easy to demolish. The Lost Message of Paul is populated with enough such strawmen to fill a field.

One example is Chalke’s mischaracterisation of those who hold to justification by faith. He describes our definition of faith as being “the ability to hold to a particular set of intellectual positions”. Not one of the people Chalke demonises holds to that position. Nor do they hold to the view that faith is in a set of concepts as Chalke claims. Biblical faith is in a person – Jesus Christ.

This setting up of strawmen is the greatest weakness of the book – “faith from an old Protestant point of view, becomes something that you are either born with – good news for you – or not – bad for you”. I have read many ‘old Protestants’ and have yet to come across one who thinks that faith is something you are born with.

The Truth

71F2oOg0wpL._AC_UL436_There is one area where I strongly agree with Chalke – we should not merely use the Bible to proclaim our own pre-conceived views.

He rightly states that “Anyone who makes absolutist claims based on what they claim to be the technicalities of the Greek language, is in fact simply being disingenuous” – the only problem is that he says this after just spending three chapters making absolutist claims based on what he claims to be the technicalities of the Greek language!

We should not “force our preconceived cultural assumptions on to this extraordinary first-century pioneer”. And yet we find that The Lost Message of Paul astonishingly reflects exactly what Steve and 21st Century liberals are concerned about – homophobia, Islamaphobia, climate change etc.

He also rightly warns about taking a few verses out of context and “using them as a prop for their own pre-developed ideas. It still happens”.  Indeed it does. This book is a prime example.

“If we respect the Bible we can’t simply use it as an echo chamber to magnify our own thoughts and opinions.” That’s what I find distinctly uncomfortable about the Bible. I have my own opinions and views and often I find that the Bible does not agree with me! But my opinions can be wrong, God’s Word never is – and it is wrong of me to judge the Word of God and try to make it suit my personal, social and political views. Once you remove the certainty of the Word of God, all you are left with is your own opinions (or others).

The Lost Message of Chalke

In conclusion, this book begins well in that it discusses Paul and his context, but by the end, Paul is removed to the sidelines, as the lost message of Steve Chalke takes centre stage. Paul retreats into the background as Steve discusses his ideas of heaven and hell, the wiring of the brain and what ‘salvation’ really means. Paul barely gets a look in.

Chalke rightly warns that bad theology costs lives. Indeed it does – a theology which takes away from the Bible, leads away from the Christ of the Bible, and ultimately is no Gospel at all.

Chalke’s Lost Message is a 21st century fulfillment of what Paul warned the 1st century Galatian church about: “I am astonished that you are so quickly deserting the one who called you to live in the grace of Christ and are turning to a different gospel – which is really no gospel at all. Evidently some people are throwing you into confusion and are trying to pervert the gospel of Christ.” (Galatians 1:6-7)

My hope and prayer is that Steve Chalke will turn back to the Gospel he once believed, and use his considerable gifts in the service of the real Christ and his message. If we follow Chalke’s Lost Message we will not only lose the message of Paul, but we will also lose the message of Christ. I can think of nothing more tragic and deadly.

David Robertson is a minister in the Free Church of Scotland. He blogs at www.theweeflea.com

Steve Chalke and the Cross of Christ

79 comments

  1. How very very sad. Also sadly I know of some who once professed Jesus and have now walked away from Him and now these days do not attend any church. This verse comes to mind. 1 John 2.19 They went out from us, but they were not of us; for if they had been of us, they would no doubt have continued with us: but they went out, that they might be made manifest that they were not all of us. KJV.

    1. Agreed. Thank you for bringing this to our attention, David. A broad review of the theology and what is at stake. I have witnessed that through the constant repeating shrewd lies, it is possible to make people believe that heaven is hell – and hell heaven. The greater the lie, the more readily it is believed. How sad that people do not listen more carefully and test what they hear.

      We lift you up in our prayers.

  2. This isn’t really anything new from Chalke, it’s just New Perspectivism taken to the extreme. Furthermore David, I only need to correct you a little (though you are right that Chalke is wrong on the cross symbol dating), Ignatius of Antioch (who could be as early as 1st century)very explicitly refers to the cross as a symbol of the Christian faith “my soul is a sacrifice for the cross” etc. So it may be even earlier.
    Regardless, Chalke is a Pelagian heretic and has been for some time. I tremble at what judgement he is to face for trying to say to people like me and others (btw now married to my wife) that our desires make us who we are.

    1. T,
      Having read your comments on a number of David’s articles in what seems like the distant ( two or so years now) past?, I find it deeply uplifting to read of life transformation God has wrought in you, with a renewing of the mind and life desire reorientation to Christ who makes us who we are in union with him.
      It reminds me of this:
      “I am not what I ought to be, I am not what I want to be, I am not what I hope to be in another world; but still I am not what I once used to be, and by the grace of God I am what I am”
      ― John Newton
      Thanks,
      Geoff

      1. I’m glad you find my comments edifying. God is great; and I am a poor sinner. But praise be to God, for His grace is greater than any sin. Sola Deo Gloria.

  3. Yes sad nd I have to re echo what Stephen Meharg has quoted 1 John 2:19. I have not read the book. In fact I have never read what Chalk has written, but I used to watch him on TV and what makes him dangerous, is that he is a first class media performer. He is charming, sharp and comes across very well on the small screen and so it going to have an appeal to the audience, especially if they are not all that well versed in scripture. We therefore need to pray that chalk will turn back and people will not be fooled.

  4. Hello David, In the early 90’s my newly converted husband John and I joined members of a Baptist Church on their first Alpha Course. I had been an ‘on and off’ believer most of my life until fully coming to faith 7 years previously so we were happy to meet up with such kindly and helpful Christians. Every week the meetings were really enjoyable. Then came the Holy Spirit weekend and before we arrived John advised me to just watch and “be careful”. On the main evening the pastor was keen for us all to speak in tongues and attempted to lay hands on us. I had asked for this gift before being the only Believer I knew who didn’t, but always ended my prayer with “if it be Thy will Lord”. Again nothing happened to me – or John – but, ……. the meeting deteriorated into couples arguing and weeping. Afterwards we went for a peaceful walk in the dark wet country lane and realised we hadn’t heard the gospel once.
    After that we looked into the authors our new group followed (Kenneth Hagin – Ulf Eckman et al ) plus the antics taking place in Holy Trinity Brompton church, London. It was an extraordinary learning curve and safeguard for us both to recognise these false teachers. And it has been no surprise to witness the success of the Alpha Course.

    1. 22 years ago I became a Christian on an Alpha Course in the CoE. I am not sure Hagin had anything to do with the corse. There certainly wasn’t any mention of speaking in tongues on the Holy Spirit away day. And there was far more to the 12 week course than that, covering, scripture, the Church, prayer, with the Trinity, ever in the background.
      My understanding is that Australian John Chapman had some influence on the gestation period of the Course and it became evident that American John Wimber had a significant influence on the lives of the leaders of HTB.
      I’d self describe as a non cessationist, but reformed.
      Chalke is not in the same category as Alpha.
      While I’ve only read reviews of what he has written, it seems that he has drunk deeply from the well of liberal unbelieving biblical criticism, (what he seeks to de and re-construct in scripture is far from new and is embraced by unbelieving liberals in what what appears to be a widespread way in mainstream denominations such as CoS and Anglican Church) so much so that he seems to be a follower of Marcion, and unable to say with any integrity of belief, the Apostles or Nicene Creed. Though I stand to be corrected.

  5. “The arrogance is breathtaking. Luther, Calvin, Augustine, the Creeds and most of the Church did not understand faith, the cross or judgement – even Tom Wright gets it wrong.”

    Of course, Luther was an expert on that point of view. Whether you say he had breath-taking arrogance or something else, it cannot be denied that Luther rejected the historic teaching of what at that time was THE Church and set himself up as the new authority. From that perspective, Chalke is no other than a twenty-first century version of Luther.

    “Steve is not sure that Paul actually wrote many of the letters attributed to him.”
    But, then, neither was Luther sure that many of the books in the Bible were actually inspired by God. He wanted to remove the Epistle of James, the Epistle of Jude, the Letter to the Hebrews and Revelation.

    The Protestant historian Philip Schaff wrote:

    “The most important example of dogmatic influence in Luther’s version is the famous interpolation of the word alone in Rom. 3:28 (allein durch den Glauben), by which he intended to emphasize his solifidian doctrine of justification, on the plea that the German idiom required the insertion for the sake of clearness. But he thereby brought Paul into direct verbal conflict with James, who says (James 2:24), “by works a man is justified, and not only by faith” (“nicht durch den Glauben allein”). It is well known that Luther deemed it impossible to harmonize the two apostles in this article, and characterized the Epistle of James as an “epistle of straw,” because it had no evangelical character (“keine evangelische Art”)
    (History of the Christian Church, book 7, chapter 4.)

    And Luther himself, wrote:
    “to my mind, it [the book of the Apocalypse/Revelation] bears upon it no marks of an apostolic or prophetic character…Everyone may form his own judgment of this book; as for myself, I feel an aversion to it, and to me this is sufficient reason for rejecting it.”
    (Sammtliche Werke, 63, pp169-170, ‘The Facts About Luther’, O’Hare, TAN Books, 1987, p203)

  6. I will add Chalke to my prayer list. He is close to heresy here and God says not to add or take away from the Scriptures. He is in a dangerous place here!

  7. Small point about whether Paul thought of himself as a ‘Christian’. I’m pretty sure that started off as a name given to followers of Jesus, not a self description. It’s not uncommon for that kind of thing to happen. I think it’s the same for the term ‘Hebrew’. So although yours and Steve Chalke’s thinking about this goes deeper, it seems unlikely that Paul thought of himself with that exact term. Not sure how long it takes for a name given from the outside to be adopted by the named community…

    Link to study of naming of Christians below

    https://www.jstor.org/stable/1453236?read-now=1&seq=14#metadata_info_tab_contents

  8. For what it is worth, I have now received my preordered copy of Chalke’s book and from what I have read so far, I love it. But maybe that was inevitable given I like Rob Bell and Brian McLaren too. What saddens me is that a debate which is impossible to resolve and which has done so much damage to the church throughout history – i.e. how to read and interpret Scripture, including how literally – continues to cause splits and divisions in the church – e.g. Gafcon vs others. I cannot help but think Jesus weeps over this and, if it weren’t for the fact he abhorred violence, would have banged heads together, telling people to focus on what matters – which is a shared compassion found in Christ. To those who disagree with Chalke: good luck to you; focus on what you do agree with and use that for God’s greater glory and the mission of the church. To those who agree: ditto, serve God and neighbour filled with a Spirit of love. Theological disputes rarely lead anyone to Christ. Love, kindness and compassion do. So love as you would be loved, let others do the same, and stop undermining each other’s efforts to testify to Christ in the world.

    1. You would be right if we were talking about minor differences between Christians – but we are not. We are talking about two different religions (read Machen’s Christianity and Liberalism for a fuller explanation); we are talking about two different Christs. This is not just a theological dispute. If you follow Chalke’s line there is no Christ to bring anyone to! And its unnecessary anyway as everyone is saved! You can’t love just by repeating the words – you love you must know the One who is Love – the God of the Bible….not the god of Steve Chalke’s imagination.

      1. I appreciate the response but where does it leave us and, more importantly, the church? You (and others) are quite convinced that you are right; Chalke and others the same. Unfortunately, there is no basis upon which to make a judgment: those who take The Bible more literally read into the Bible that it should be so; those who don’t, read into The Bible that it shouldn’t. Both are Biblically-based. Both have historical precedent. Both are intellectually guided. Both are the products of faith and belief in Christ. Both ultimately employ circular reasoning. Personally, I suspect neither is right nor wrong and that God is bigger than our acts to contain him (or her). But that is not my point: rather, the point is that (at the risk of over-generalisation) whilst the more conservative and evangelical attack the more ‘progressive’ and liberal in the church, and vice versa, they do so to their mutual detriment – people look on and abandon the churches, and abandon Christ. Perhaps we all need to take seriously what Christ himself said – his is the way of peace, which means that any aggression, even through words, is problematic and hinders The Gospel. Perhaps Chalke is right, perhaps not. God alone knows, and can decide. Many blessings to you, and to your readers.

      2. There is a basis on which to make a judgement…if they speak not according to the Word of God then they are wrong. It’s not actually that difficult. I don’t accept that Chalke’s position takes the bible seriously or that it is based on faith in Christ – nor that it is intellectually guided. Your point about ‘neither is right or wrong’ is just spiritual waffle. If Chalke says that everyone is saved and the bible says they are not – both cannot be right.

        Yes people are abandoning the churches – largely the churches that teach ‘progressive’ doctrine. They do not abandon the Church because liberals who teach one thing, and biblical Christians who teach another, disagree.

        God alone does know. And he has decided. And he has revealed his decision…those who have ears, let them hear…

  9. The problem with the word of God is it can be read and interpreted in many ways – perhaps God even intended that. It is like pieces of a jigsaw but a jigsaw that can be put together in more than one way. I won’t add much more because I suspect I respect your opinion more than you respect mine other than to note that ultimately what you write relies not on fact but upon assertion, belief and conjecture, as does Chalke’s – you have more in common then I think either of you would recognise! God is beyond all our understanding and, seeing the wickedness and folly of man [sic], I am very grateful of that. To Christ be the glory.

    1. Again – that is your view of the Word of God…it is not the Word of God’s view of the Word of God….it is clear and certain. But you like it to be obscure so you can make it mean whatever you want it to mean. My position does rely on fact…whereas yours is based upon feeling – what you want to be true. You ignore what the Bible actually says and justify your feeling by saying that the Bible actually says nothing clearly. Which Christ do you want to have the glory? The Christ of Chalke or the Christ of the Bible?

      1. David, are you not a pastor? Please try to be kind to people – encourage, show humility and unity. Let’s move past your strange fascination with Steve Chalke, and let us at least credit him for his commitment to attempting to understand God’s word, and the humility to do as he understands. He may be all the things you accuse him of, but he has also helped countless people and communities – that at least looks like Christ. Steve always encourages people to discuss and continue thinking – so let us do that without slander. If, in his error, he encourages kind, Christ-centered discussion, he is no villain.

        But to your above point, can we not encourage Richard and acknowledge what he believes and is thinking through, rather than dismissing it as ‘his view of the Word of God’ vs. yours, which is the correct view? (Now that sounds familiar!)

        If your view is factual – I have been looking for you! You are the person who understands the factual position behind the songs and poems, the prophecy, the apocalyptic, the hymns, the symbolism and contextually relevant. You have unlocked nuances of scripture that have been coded in millennia of history. Brilliant!!!

        You claim to have the factual position, so tell me this:

        Was David inspired by God or Satan before he took the census? They cannot both be true.
        What is the punishment for adultery? I think we and Jesus avoid the facts here!
        You seem certain that God has a penis. Are you sure God is not also a door, a light, a lion, lamb, refuge, shelter…? Where is the ‘fact’.
        What about the flood narrative? Is that fact? Even the bits that contradict themselves? Are we allowed to apply the documentary hypothesis or is that tantamount to an admission that the Bible is and always has been a collection of human writings? Our language is emotion.
        Was the earth formed in six days? Should we disregard all of science and hermeneutics? If so, I wish I had never tried to study scripture!
        Are dinosaur fossils a ploy of God’s to trick those who lack faith?
        Did Nineveh take three days to cross? What was Jonah dragging?
        How did Judas die?
        What is the order of creation?
        I just watched Planets with Brian Cox. He claims the Earth is 4.6 billion years old. He’s way out – right?
        An eye for an eye and – … Jesus got me confused?

        These are not simple questions. Don’t ridicule people who have the integrity to grapple with them. It’s that attitude that turns people away from the Church.

        And to your comment about a position of feelings. Subjective feelings are deeper, more personal and more real than any fact. What is the greatest law? It is not a cold fact, it is love – relationship, embrace, journeying. That is the language of scripture. Your greatest truth is not your birth date or weight. It is that you are bound in your relationships with your family and friends. Those who you love, and those who love you. God is love, therefore – scripture must be subjective, artistic, feeling. It is what makes it real.

      2. Benny – what a nasty, petty, irrational, unloving and judgemental post. Too much nonsense to deal with it all – but here are a few samples.

        Chalke is not committed to attempting to understand Gods Word. His whole raisin d’etre is to undermine it.

        He does not encourage people to discuss and continue thinking. He tells people what to think and refuses discussion.

        You ask for no slander and your post is full of it.

        You think Scripture is ‘coded in millennia of history’ and needs experts like Chalke to ‘decode it’. I believe in the Holy Spirit and His ability to inspire clarity not obscurity.

        Jesus ‘avoids the facts’. Unlike of course you – who sees all!

        I never said and do not believe that God has a penis. That is a crass, crude and ignorant remark from you.

        You don’t have the ‘integrity’ to grapple with these questions. There is no ‘grappling or integrity. Just arrogant know it all mockery.

        Your last paragraph is just the mockery of the ignorant and those who think they know better that God. You use a false notion of love to deny the God who is Love. And you hide behind fine sounding religious words whilst denying the Word.

      3. David, I do not mean to come across nasty or petty, slanderous, ignorant, a know it all or other labels. If I appear so, I am truly sorry. My point is that we should avoid slinging accusations like that. I felt that you come across quite harsh – that may be down to the medium of written rather than spoken words and the lack of tone. Right there, there is an argument for the skill we must employ as people seeking to understand the written word of God.

        I am not sure this conversation will or should go any further. But I must say that you should consider how you speak of people, especially Steve Chalke. To disagree is fine – but to say he has a machiavellian agenda is ignorant and mean. He spent three years writing his most recent book, he researched and consulted endless experts (who you say he cherry-picked – though what the alternative is I am unsure), and has gained the recognition from scholars across the Church. Don’t belittle all he does. It is beneath anyone who considers themselves scholarly.

        I do not know how to respond to your comments. Some are plainly not true. The Lost Message of Paul begins with ‘I want to start a conversation’.

        Yes, you are right. I do believe we need experts like Steve to help us understand the Bible. That is to say, we need people who are willing to do the hard work of helping us learn. We do not know it all – no one does. If we did, we wouldn’t sling cheap shots and names at each other over the internet. We’d embrace and encourage each other – acknowledging that we’re all on a journey to become more Christ-like. And, of course, scripture is coded – because it is relevant! How many of us appreciate just how much the Samaritans were hated by the Jews; that they were considered heretics. When we learn about their history, suddenly Jesus’ parable (not factual story) takes on more depth and challenge. How many of us know from a first reading that Jesus took Buddha’s story of a son who left his father and spent his inheritance on wild living and then invented the father who breaks cultural norms to embrace his son without question. How many of us intrinsically or instinctively know the significance of the ring? When we learn about Jesus’ world and culture, our reading of scripture is enriched and the challenge sharpened. We should be thankful for people who do this work for us and reveal the Bible’s message.

        You know that the Bible has been used to authenticate all manner of evils, the apartheid and racism, the crusades, wars, killings, slander, homophobia and so on. And yet we do not obey commands to sell our possessions. It must be true then, that God’s Spirit doesn’t always reveal scriptures true meaning.

        My point is certainly not that I know it all, nor that Steve or any other scholar does. It is very much the opposite. We do not know all the facts, which is why we should continue to learn and discuss. It is only you who claimed to have the facts.

        Again, it was not my intention to appear a know-it-all. I was merely making the point that it is impossible to read the Bible factually because it employs metaphor and symbols. Please do not judge me, you do not even know me. I have enough integrity to grapple with the Bible and the example of Christ. I do not claim to be good at it – but I am trying.

        Here’s the nub of it. We too often reduce Christianity into a fragile collection of doctrines that we must defend and protect. We should not be concerned for God’s sake – God is beyond our wisdom and arguments. Not for a moment do I deny the Word of God, it is my truest effort to understand and imitate it. Jesus taught us how to live, not what to think.

        When asked to summarise the law, Jesus said LOVE LOVE LOVE. Only we Christians feel the need to define what love is. My challenge to you, is to love Steve, love Richard, love me. Don’t love in a way that is indistinguishable from your judgment; love like every Jew loves themselves (in the knowledge that God loves them and is for them). Love with kind, uplifting, generous and humorous words. Like you say, take the best of what people offer – but rather than attack that, learn from it.

        We are one family.

      4. Thanks Benny –

        You should not go by your feelings. I feel you come across as harsh and condemnatory. So be it. Our feelings could be wrong.

        Your defence of Chalke seems to be 1) it’s not nice to critique him and 2) others consider him scholarly. I don’t accept 1 and I can’t just go by what those who agree with him say. His book is dreadful – in so many ways – not least in its scholarship. I get the impression that he is no scholar and just quote mines what he wants or what he is told by others. The book tells us far more about Chalke than it does about Paul.

        “Of course Scripture is coded, as it is relevant” – Thats meaningless non-sense. Scripture is perspicuous and is not written in code.

        Who denies that its helpful to know the history and contexts of the cultures in which Scripture is written? But that is not ‘code’…

        There is no evidence that Jesus knew and took the story of the Buddha and used it for one of his parables. You just think that sounds nice…

        Chalke does not know the history – his ignorance and misuse of history is astounding.

        The fact that the Bible has been misused to justify all manners of evil does not falsify the Bible or justify our rather strange claim that it is written in a code that only the scholarly elect can fathom!

        “It is only you who have claimed to have the facts” – that is demonstrably false. Chalke’s book is full of claims to have the facts. In fact that is the purpose of the book. The real message of Paul has been hidden – but now Steve Chalke has discovered it and is telling us. Chalke claims to have lots of facts so how can you write ‘its only you who claimed to have the facts’? You contradict yourself because even this recent post claims to have lots of facts.

        You also dishonestly argue against what is not being said – setting up a strawman which you then demolish. I never said or implied that the Bible does not use metaphor or symbol. You are as ‘doctrinal’ as anyone else – its just that one of your doctrines is the claim that you are not doctrinal.

        “Jesus taught us how to live, not what to think” is another meaningless doctrine which goes against Christ. What we think directly affects how we think. Jesus DID teach us how to think.

        You ask me not to judge you, because I do not know you – whilst at the same time judging me, whom you do not know. That is rank hypocrisy. I don’t judge you- I judge the statements you are making and comment on them. I don’t know your heart – but I do recognise nonsense when it is written.

        And please don’t play the ‘you think you know it all, but I am investigating a God who is bigger than your doctrines’ card. Your boasting about yourself is not edifying. Please don’t reduce the Word to your narrow words.

        Your last paragraph is yet again one of those passive/aggressive nonsensical passages. You ‘love’; those who disagree with you don’t. You don’t seem to allow for the possibility that it is precisely because we love that we oppose false teaching about Jesus. You also condemn Christ because he does not fit your criteria…

        No – we are not ‘one family’…’they went out from us because they were not of us’. Chalke teaches a different Christ, a different Bible and thus belongs to a different family. You may think that is harsh – but sometimes the truth sounds harsh…It would be unloving to let Chalke continue in his error – and worse to let others be taken in by it.

      5. Okay, signing off as clearly this is unhelpful.

        Please read through your comments and mine. Ask who is libel. Ask yourself whether your words are kind and encouraging or fall short of grace. If mine have offended you, I do apologise. Truly, I want to encourage you. That is not meaningless nonsense, I am not boasting (believe me!), calming high ground or mean any slight by that, we need to learn together, and learn to be together, and work hard at not tearing each other down.

        But, yes, we are one family. We are one in Christ. We may disagree, you may think me an awful person – but I am your father’s son.

        Am happy to chat, you have my email and I can provide you with my number.

      6. And yet Benny you are doing it again. You claim the moral high ground…you are being kind, not libellous etc. And again you refuse to engage with what is being said – responding with truisms and what you think are nice words. You tear down and then urge us not to tear down! No – we are not one family in Christ – if we are not in Christ. Steve Chalke believes in a different Christ to me. The question is – which Christ do you believe in? The Jesus of the Bible or the Jesus of Chalke?

      7. Thanks for your message. What would you like me to respond to? Do you think we’ll resolve anything? If you think we might, I’m happy’ish’ to keep going. Or I said, we can arrange a call – I’m happy to discuss anything. If you want to talk about a lack of response – you didn’t answer any of my original questions.

        To one point – I agree with you – it is important what we think, really important. But I think our primary concern, or at least equal, should be how we act not just what we think. One is the fruit of the other. So you can have it either way. Time and again it was Jesus’ behaviour that challenged people – not just his words, theology and philosophy.

        My issue is with how you tear down Steve Chalke and belittle others. I also think your claim to read the Bible factually, which is yours not Steve’s or mine is misguided. I’m sorry if my words to that point (said in jest) offended you.

        To your final question, the ‘Jesus of the Bible’ or ‘Jesus of Chalke’ I take huge issue with. It is incredibly arrogant and rude. But here is my answer. Neither. I go with the Jesus of Benny – because that is the best I can. Do not twist my words – I am not recreating Jesus as I see fit; I talk with friends, read books and blogs, watch people who are Christlike, read scripture, fast, and pray, all in an attempt to better understand the Messiah who lived 2,000 years ago. My understanding is imperfect, which is why I think we need to encourage each other and keep learning. My Jesus is how I can most honestly understand the Bible, which is the same for you and for Steve.

        We are one. What does your Bible say?
        Brother.

      8. Benny – you have lots of fine sounding words – whilst at the same time decrying the importance of words. There are so many errors in your post.

        No one claimed it was just Jesus’s words that challenged people. But his words were vital. He is the Word. He spoke as one who had authority. He promised his disciples would speak his word.

        You complain about my ‘tearing down’ Steve Chalke – whilst you attempt to tear me down.

        If course I read the Bible factually – ie. that the Bible is truth and that the facts within it are true facts. Do you read it as just a myth that can mean whatever you want it to?

        You think it is arrogant and rude to ask whether you believe in the Jesus of the Bible….and your response is breathtaking. You don’t believe in the Jesus of the Bible, you believe in the Jesus of Benny. It’s your own personal Jesus! I have bad news for you – he doesn’t exist!

        You watch people who are Christlike? But how do you know what Christlike is? The BIble can’t tell you because it doesn’t deal in facts. And no, my Jesus is not how I understand the Bible…The Bible is how I understand who Jesus is. I don’t just make up my own one.

        What does the Bible say (its not mine – so try to keep away from the snarky comments – I wrote nothing of it). The Bible teells us that there are false Christs, that Christ warned of those who ‘did many wonderful works’ in his name but yet he did not know them. It tells me that not all who name the name of Christ are Christians – and to beware of false teachers. The bible you read says the same things – its just that you chose not to listen…as well as your own personal Jesus – you have your own personal Bible.

      9. Hello David, thanks for taking the time to respond, again.

        You must be reading something else – I am not tearing you down! Though I disagree with you, I have tried to encourage you – and encouraged you to encourage others. My position does not negate yours. It is your position that negates mine. You claim my understanding of Jesus does not exist. I would not say that to you.

        I’m sure there are errors in my post, and I hold my hand up to that. Not for a moment do I claim to have all the answers – hence not claiming to understand Jesus perfectly.

        You have shown that in reading just a couple of blog posts, it is easy to misinterpret things – why can this not be true of the Bible? When I say that I don’t ‘believe in the Jesus of the Bible’, it is a recognition that I cannot possibly come to a complete understanding of Jesus. I also mean that my understanding of Jesus is based on how I understand scripture – whether we like it or not, it is true for us all. And we need to come to that understanding in order to grow. How we understand the gospels plays an important role in how we understand Christ – how he treated people, how he taught and led etc. Take the two of us for example, we both love Jesus and yet, through our reading of scripture, have focused on different aspects of his character – you (and this is no judgement or criticism – I am sure that in different circumstances I could learn much from you) seem to focus on legalistic orthodoxy; and I focus on his rule-breaking grace and inclusion. You are clearly more conservative and want to uphold the values that have been taught to you – you have an extremely high regard for scripture, and you fear misunderstanding or misrepresenting it. I am more liberal, and, whilst I value scripture – I believe that it is the perfect word of God, imperfectly passed on through human authors to a partial audience. I think it tells a meandering story of God breaking into history and peeling away our bias and blind spots. We clearly read scripture differently and approach the task of understanding it form different perspectives. I don’t want to put words in your mouth, but I would guess that you believe the truth of God is found in the detail of scripture – whereas I believe that the truth of scripture is found in the big picture of God. In truth – we need each other. The big picture and the detail. Right?

        As you say – you have your own understanding. But understanding is far more complex than lifting words from a page or whispered into our hearts- we always bring our own context, and we understand Jesus’ context to different degrees. And so, whilst my response might be breath-taking – I hope you see that it is honest, true and humble.

        If reading scripture were entirely passive, and God tells each of us what we need to know – there is no argument. There is no misunderstanding, just different messages for different people. Any error would be God’s lack of clarity. Who are we to say one person hears from God and another does not? Answer: through our reasoned understanding.

        I do not think the Bible is a myths – however, I know that it contains them. Disclaimer – myth is a genre, not a pagan fairytale.
        To read myth as myth, is not a disservice; to read myth as historical – is misled. For example, if you read the flood narrative as historical we can ‘learn’ quite a few untruths about God:
        1. God’s great plan is not so great = God is not so smart. God’s plan of redemption fails!
        2. God is genocidal and hypocritical
        3. God is unforgiving
        4. Someone taught Noah a load of sacrificial rules before they were passed on to Israel!
        For the record, I do not believe any of these things.
        If, however, we do some homework and compare it to very similar ancient near eastern text, such as the Atrahasis or Gilgamesh Epic – we might come to the conclusion that the flood narrative is a reworking of an existing popular myth – rewritten to introduce some truths about God. Rather than a bizarre historical event, it can be read as an extraordinary piece of theology that reveals some of God’s nature. Everyone believed that the gods flooded the earth to destroy the noisy humans – but the Hebrew version is different, it says that it was about God’s redemptive plan. Everyone believed that the flood was so great is scared even the gods, but the Hebrew versions says God was always in control. And that is our continued struggle – to take what society says about us and about God, and bring truth and light. Society says we’re not enough, that we need to look better, be smarter, be happier, have more holidays, own more stuff – but God says – ‘you are loved!’ That’s the good news. That is also why we should encourage each other.

        Myths are not silly stories, they were skilfully crafted to convey the prevailing zeitgeist. We read them now and think how silly they sound – but that’s because we have a very immature approach to scripture. We claim to hold scripture so preciously, and yet we employ less literary analysis than a GCSE student is required to pass their exams. Too often we make virtually no attempt to truly understand it – we simply presume Paul miswrote the beginnings of his letters. Rather than ‘To the Church in Corinth’, we read it as ‘To you, my best friend, I was thinking about you earlier and God told me to pass on a message. Don’t worry about any translation issues on misunderstandings – God took my pen and wrote it in his own hand. Of course, I, Paul, can’t understand it – it doesn’t seem to make any sense of my world or culture, not to mention the language – but I trust it’ll be received well.’
        I really don’t mean this to be rude – it is a caricature of how I think we sometimes treat the Bible.

        When you say that the Bible provides the foundation for how you understand Jesus and that you don’t make up your own – that is absolutely the same for me and I believe for Steve and all of us. Our honest struggle is obviously how to we develop our understanding? We all seem to see Jesus differently – that’s odd isn’t it! Is it that just the people who agree with us (you) are right? Or could it be that we all see a little? To go back to my original point – we should encourage each other – Richard, Steve, me, the liberals, the conservatives, the Protestants and Catholics. We’re in it together!

        The Bible tells us enough for us to recognise Christlike people, they are loving and inclusive. They break the rules (even the religious ones) that exclude people or tell them anything other than ‘you are loved’. We know that God is love – so should we be afraid of being loving? Can we be too loving? What does that even mean? Let’s work that through!

        I wish your last paragraph were not the last – it is hurtful and incredibly mean. I think it best we ignore it.

        All I can say is, when Christ was asked how we should act and for his summation of the law… the answer came ‘love God and love your neighbour as yourself’. Which, for the record, is consistent with the Benny’s Jesus. You seem to have quite a high regard for yourself (I would not change that), perhaps you need to extend that to your neighbour.

      10. If you read over your own posts you will see how you attempt to tear down and destroy – in the name of love. Likewise with this one…If this is what you call ‘encouragement’ I would hate to see what happens when you seek to discourage!

        Its a basic principle of logic – A cannot be non A. The Jesus who says that there are people who go to hell, cannot be the same Jesus who says that there is no hell, or that noone goes there.

        The Jesus who believed in Noah’s flood is different from the Jesus you profess to worship – who did not and just understood it as some myth….

        You are correct in saying that your view is a caricature of the Bible. It is also spectacularly arrogant.

        Steve – (and apparently you) does not see the Jesus of the Bible…because he believes that the Bible is wrong about many things and that even the teaching about Jesus in the Bible is wrong.

        I have no intention of encouraging Steve. He is a false prophet who has wandered far away from Christ – witness his latest tweet celebrating Pride and his attacks on those churches who do not. No – I am not ‘one’ with Steve.

        Your definition of Christlike is just made up….’loving and inclusive’ – what does that mean? Inclusive of racists, nazis and paedophiles? You talk a lot about love – but its just talk without definition. The abuser will often talk about love…does that mean we have to accept their words.

        Yes we are to love God. But again what does that mean? Which God? And what is it to love God? Amongst other things it is to obey him. If you deliberately disobey him (like celebrating ‘Pride’) then in what sense do you love him?

        Your lack of self awareness comes across in your nasty, snide and superior wee comment ‘you seem to have quite a high regard for yourself’. Actually I don’t. But that doesn’t really matter – what matters is our regard for Christ. I have no interest or regard for ‘Benny’s Christ’. I just worship our Lord Jesus Christ – as revealed to us in the Scriptures.

        I suggest that we are done. Your inability to reason, think clearly and continual desire to pass on blasphemy as somehow being Christlike is both disturbing and divisive. The day will tell!

      11. The Bible is NOT ‘the Word of God’. Never claims to be. Never was. That’s Bibliolatry. If anyone deserves that title, according to John, it is Jesus. It’s not about a book, it’s about a person; a Way. You fundamentalists are playing with words and the rest of us are just walking away because your claims are incredible. I don’t agree with all that Steve has written but at least he’s open to new thinking. He’s nothing like radical enough! It’s all a human creation, including the Bible, and we go on making it ever new, or it dies. Which it will unless it changes.

      12. Ben – the Bible is the Word of God. It claims to be such in many places – and Jesus regarded it as such. But you are right about liberal fundamentalists – as you have just indicated you think you know better than Jesus, better than his word and that you can just make things up to suit your own views as you go along. Although it is quite amusing that you think Steve is ‘open to new thinking’. There isn’t a single new idea in his writings – its just a rehash of 19th Century Protestant liberalism! It’s God who makes all things new – not you!

    2. Richard, I love your heart! Isn’t it good to know, that God forgives our theology, as well as our sin! 😇 Live lived!

  10. To be fair you didn’t get your teeth into his ability to takes us on a guided tour of every possible exegetical fallacy. It is like he has read Carson as an instruction manual not a warning. He spends most of the book taking a minor but well documented interpretative discussion and treating it as though it is a radical new thing that changes everything. The truth is that even if you do think Paul means faithfulness of Christ, you still have plenty of Scripture pointing to believing in. On the other hand reformed Christians not too excited by faithfulness of Christ have something called imputed Righteousness so don’t need to hang too much on the phrase!

  11. I was enjoying the thread. I don’t think Benny’s definition of what it means to be Christlike is made up. Loving and inclusive is how Jesus always comes across how I read the Bible. Jesus got cross at people who were not inclusive and taught his disciples to love. To my understanding, that is factual and not blasphemy. ‘If’ I were theological, I might say that to call love and inclusion a blasphemy IS blasphemy. I have a 12 year-old daughter who yesterday told me about what she learned in Sunday-school. I hope in 39 years of being a Christian I understand more than she does, but I wouldn’t say she does not know Jesus or that her Jesus is fake. We are either learning or know it all.

    I followed the thread and I think Benny is sometimes irreverend and maybe he needs to simplify his arguments for us who have not studied as much. I will research Noah’s Ark. I would like to know what other stories follow older traditions. But he isn’t snide. He tried to be polite but his words are sometimes twisted. Like when he said ‘Do not twist my words’ and then you did exactly that. Or when he said he wouldn’t change the high regard you have for yourself. I don’t think he meant that in a rude way. If you read the Bible in the same tone as you read Benny’s posts, no wonder you do not know what love is. I mention this because I think you could have an interesting conversation. Why don’t you read eachothers messages with a lighter tone in your heads? I think you will find they are not as nasty as you think. I once went to a course that said we should read emails like a love letter. Then we won’t get angry or defensive.

    I hope to hear more. Thank you for hosting these conversations. God bless.
    Lewis

    p.s. I do not have anything to add to your discussion but just wanted to say you shouldn’t read nastiness into each other’s messages.

    1. Lewis – do you think that Jesus would be ‘loving and inclusive’ of Nazis, racists and paedophiles? If not, why not? I don’t think that I twisted Benny’s words – he said that he believed in ‘Benny’s Jesus’ – no one elses. I’m also intrigued that you think you have the right to judge that I do not know what love is! What gives you that right to judge in that way?

    2. Actually I had finished posting on this thread but was continuing to follow up with the replies. It is both interesting and at the same time depressing when we see a picture of how some see Jesus. Jesus is probably one of the most un-inclusive figures in history. It’s His way or no way. We see this in Matthew 10.12-14 where He gives the disciples instructions on how they should spread the gospel.
      And when ye come into an house, salute it.

      13 And if the house be worthy, let your peace come upon it: but if it be not worthy, let your peace return to you.

      14 And whosoever shall not receive you, nor hear your words, when ye depart out of that house or city, shake off the dust of your feet.

      15 Verily I say unto you, It shall be more tolerable for the land of Sodom and Gomorrha in the day of judgment, than for that city.

      Then again in John 14.6 He declares again it’s His way or no way.

      Jesus saith unto him, I am the way, the truth, and the life: no man cometh unto the Father, but by me.

      Matthew chapter 23 is also quite an insight into the mind of our Lord where He also admonished the pharisees when He called them a brood of vipers and declared quite a few woes on the religious of the day.

      I don’t think it’s an accurate picture of the biblical Jesus to claim He is all embracing and inclusive. These are just my thoughts on this ongoing debate but reading former posts I don’t think certain people will be agreeing with me.

      1. An interesting take on those verses. Your quote is almost worth putting on a t-shirt! ‘Jesus is one of the most un-inclusive figures in history!’?!?!? 👌

        First off, he sent his disciples out. He told them to go. Matt 10 is what to do when people do not welcome them.

        Next up. Jesus is the way! So let’s follow him. Jesus included heretics and the Nazis of the day (the Roman Empire).

        That leads to the last – Jesus’ issue with the pharisees was that they used their religious rules to judge, condemn and exclude.

        I believe Jesus was more tolerant of others than we are today. I also believe all people are God’s children.

        What do people think about grace? Does God forgive all?

      2. If all people are already God’s children then why did Jesus come so that we could get the opportunity to become God’s children? (John 1). Why did Jesus to the Pharisees ‘you are of your Father the devil?”

        There is a difference between tolerance and acceptance…

  12. Sorry David. I did not mean it that way. I was using your comment:

    ‘Yes we are to love God. But again what does that mean? Which God? And what is it to love God? Amongst other things it is to obey him. If you deliberately disobey him (like celebrating ‘Pride’) then in what sense do you love him?’

    I did not mention that I have a son who is gay. We have always supported him but because of his youth group, he tried to take his life twice. After much prayer we moved church. How can God, who is love, hate who he is. Please do not pull me into this conversation. I am struggling to work out what I believe about all these things.

    Like Benny, I can’t claim to have all the answers. I am searching for Jesus and I know that I sometimes settle for the Jesus we have decided he was not who he actually is. It is interesting you mention racists – there was a whole theology and understanding of Jesus that supported segregation and I think the BIble condones slavery? They got Jesus confused too. How do we know that we haven’t?

    I will give your question some thought, I have not considered it before. But if we remove the labels of Nazis, racist and paedophile – we would have people who are broken and fall short of God’s perfect will like I do every day. Maybe if we able to love them and show them God’s love, they might change? A friend once told me that he was abused as a child and was expelled from 3 schools for fighting. He is a very good person but still has insecurities. He said that he had anger in him all his life because of what happened. He said it is God’s love that began to remove his anger.

    God bless
    Lewis

    1. Lewis,

      I am sorry to hear about your son’s struggles – its an experience that many have been through. I would however question your assertion that sexuality determines identity.

      You will note that you were not ‘pulled’ into this conversation – you came into it of your own accord – and you are very welcome!

      No – the Bible does not condone slavery.

      You comment about removing the label and seeing broken and fallen people is spot on. That is also true for those who identify as gay.

  13. Hi David et al,

    Jesus said we should love our enemies – Matt 5:44. Assuming we want to take the words of Jesus literally, how do we apply this to Nazis, racists, acting pedophiles, war criminals, and topically, Bosco Ntaganda?

    Ax

      1. I think this is why the Psalmist wrote:

        Do not pity the dead. Pity the living, and, above all those who live without love.

        We must learn to truly love as God does. Love means guiding and acknowledging what is right from what is false.

  14. Unfortunately there appears not to be a reply button underneath Si T to reply directly.

    I’m afraid I don’t agree with you on anything you have posted and I certainly am not sure where you got the idea of the tee shirt? Yes Jesus was sending them out and He told them how to respond if they did not listen, that was to reject them. To me that smacks of uninclusiveness.

    Yes Jesus included the groups you mentioned IF they repented and followed Him, it’s not a passive inclusion.

    Then you point out this….. “Jesus’ issue with the pharisees was that they used their religious rules to judge, condemn and exclude”……. My immediate thought is……. And?…. He certainly wasn’t including them whilst heaping woes on them.

    Lastly you say we are all Gods children. I would wonder what book chapter and verse from holy Scripture you found that in. We might well all be Gods creation, we certainly are not all Gods children. Jesus while on earth spent quite a bit of time instructing us to find the narrow road and stay out of hell. Why would He do so if we are all Gods children? You assertion we are all Gods children sounds to me like universalism which again you will find nowhere in Holy Scripture.

    And with this I bow out of this conversation. I shouldn’t really have got involved in the first place.

    Good day sir/madam.

  15. HE is great. HE is not inclusive or tolerant or loving of people who do not know him.

    When the Lord thy God shall bring thee into the land whither thou goest to possess it, and hath cast out many nations before thee, the Hittites, and the Girgashites, and the Amorites, and the Canaanites, and the Perizzites, and the Hivites, and the Jebusites, seven nations greater and mightier than thou;
    And when the Lord thy God shall deliver them before thee; thou shalt smite them, and utterly destroy them; thou shalt make no covenant with them, nor shew mercy unto them:
    Neither shalt thou make marriages with them; thy daughter thou shalt not give unto his son, nor his daughter shalt thou take unto thy son.
    For they will turn away thy son from following me, that they may serve other gods: so will the anger of the Lord be kindled against you, and destroy thee suddenly.
    But thus shall ye deal with them; ye shall destroy their altars, and break down their images, and cut down their groves, and burn their graven images with fire.
    Deuteronomy 7:1-5

    HIS standards are exacting but through HIS grace, we are no longer required to sell all of our possessions and can yet meat.

    Thanks be to God.

  16. I come from a somewhat different perspective but, I believe, an important one. I largely agreed in the past with Steve Chalke’s perspectives on many things. I found myself joining Oasis Church where he is Senior Minister. And yes I found a lot of inspiration in his words. But I changed my mind. Or more precisely had it changed for me. I discovered to my great cost that Steve Chalke is the the man he appears to be. He is not a man of integrity and he really does seek primarily to promote himself. He protects those in his church who are useful to him and throws under a bus those who need justice but are of no use to him and his agenda. I have been fighting to be heard for nearly 6 years and all people do is close ranks. The profound irony is that his doctrine of inclusion is remarkably exclusive and cult like.

    I hope one day the man behind the media friendly facade will be exposed for who he is and how he treats those who are of no interest or use to him.

    1. Thanks Tony – that is also my experience. Chalke talks the talk when it comes to dialogue and inclusion but he does not walk the walk. A couple of examples. Someone from my congregation was going to work with Oasis but expressed the view that she did not agree with Chalke on the atonement – she was told that that was not an option. When Chalke said he was having a ‘dialogue’ from all over the UK re SSM with different points of view, he refused to have people like myself and instead had Tony Campolo (as the anti-SSM) even though Campolo was not. Finally when I was doing an Unbelievable programme in London I offered to give up my slot in order to have a dialogue with Steve. He flat out refused. A journalist told me that he was not surprised because Chalke does not dialogue with people he does not dominate.

      1. I am sorry to hear that Tony. I hope you can find someone who will promote YOU. Someone who will give you time, will sit with you, listen and help you in whatever it is you seek.

        Some words of encouragement:
        Some faces, that Day, will be bright – laughing, rejoicing at good news. And other faces, that Day, will have upon them dust. Blackness will cover them. Those are the disbelievers, the wicked ones
        Amen

  17. Let us just clarify what a cult is before accusing a church of being one. It is somewhere you are told what to believe, where arguments or views are not valued and voices silenced. When I visited, Oasis it was the first church I felt I could question and was not preached at.

    1. But everyone in a cult says that! Steve Chalke did preach at you – it’s disturbing that you did not notice! It’s just what he preached! And yes he wants to silence some who disagree with him. Ask him about conversion therapy?

      1. Again, the reason my contribution is not what one might expect here is that I do hold views similar to Chalke. We could argue about this forever. But I knew Steve Chalke and he is not only a highly dishonest and unethical person but in the process of throwing me under the bus he broke the law and even more extraordinarily he asked me to break the law too, to cover up for him.

        In case of doubt… I refused.

        I have spent 6 years trying to deal with this. Not only did the Baptist Union and the Oasis charity shut the door on me so did the Evangelical Alliance. You couldn’t make this stuff up.

    2. You visited Oasis. I was deeply involved and on a leadership programme. Trust me Oasis is the very last place to go if you want to ask questions. Even when it’s about your own life. Mind control and conformity are alive and well. Oasis is a mirage.

      1. Tony, forgive me – but the EA, Baptist Union and Oasis? Why have you not taken this to the police?

  18. It is not the strength of the body, but the strength of the spirit. Psm 118

    I fear leaders who have nice soundbites but do not truly know the word. We must be vigilant like watchmen in the night.

  19. Seriously, David. Not sure if my post didn’t reach you or whether you decided not to share it? How do you decide what is allowed or not? You clearly don’t agree with all the ideas here. So where is my message to for Lewis – needs to know that your view is not the only view! Why is it that you pick some contributions apart and others you leave?

  20. David,

    Just a couple of thoughts fun me:

    1. I completely agree with your review of the latest teaching from Steve C (heard the podcasts but but read the book). In fact, for a man who retweets all of his own tweets, names his books to suggest only he has found the answer and calls great attention to his own ministries, I sense an ego issue. And I wonder if it’s his ego that leads him away from the εγω ειμαι, because he’s clearly defining God from his own precepts (e.g. this is how I’m a father, so now what does that mean for our heavenly father…)

    2. Observationally, I sense a bit of an obsession. I’d suggest a moment to reflect on this in your own time.

    3. Your treatment of others, who have shared their views in a sensitive and considerate manner surprises me. Yes, I believe you are right about your theology. But I’d recommend re-reading some discourses on here, being careful to put aside the theological debate and honestly reflect to yourself how you have communicated. Personally, feels a bit like reading 1 Cor. It’s like there must be another message that I can’t see to warrant how you write, because I don’t feel there is justification for your words or tone. You may be right about your theology, but I don’t believe you’re right in your assessment of others.

    My advice; separate theology and person. Respond to what Steve writes as separate to who he is, you might find you’re less obsessed. Similarly on here, be clear and distinct in disagreeing with the theology but loving the person. This could certainly be more evident.

    Your justifiable critique of heretical theology will have more substance if your character better reflects the fruit of it.

    1. Thanks Steve – I have taken some time this morning to reflect upon what you say. I would like to see some examples of what you are talking about. I have reread the review and I don’t see what you see there. I have responded to what Steve writes – that is the point of the review of the book. I don’t know Steve and so can’t comment on who he is. But the book is false teaching – and dishonest. I also find it a little strange that you feel free to condemn Steve as an egotist (and my character as bearing bad fruit!) whilst at the same time condemning judging others. Perhaps I’m not the only one who needs to do a little self-reflection? (something I do not dispute)….Anyway thanks for the admonition – even though in this case I don’t see what you are talking about….

    2. Thanks for your response, David.

      Forgive me, I was probably unclear, but I wasn’t asking you to reflect on your comments about Steve C, you’re writing an open review to the world about what he’s written. If you were to suggest heresy or that his attitude is egotistical, that’s not a judgement per se, it’s intrinsic to reviewing his book, which is itself a window into who he is.

      Rather I was asking you to reflect on your comments towards the likes of Benny on this comments forum (e.g. 11:02pm on 4th Jul – this didn’t seem a fair response to his olive branch). These are discourses between you and someone else, hence very different to a book review. And it’s in here that I feel you are writing in a tone and using language towards people that isn’t justified based on what they’ve said. This should be separated from your views of their theology, which you have every right to disagree with.

      This is your forum, so you could equate to your house (in reality parlance). My question to you; would you talk to Benny face to face (and others like him) like that in your house?

      And yes, I love to self reflect, so I’ll go do that. Thank you

      1. Thanks for the clarification…..appreciated. There were over 50 comments on that post so it’s good to know what you are actually referring to – Benny’s comments. To answer your question – yes that is exactly how I would talk to Benny in my own home (I’m curious as to how you can infer or know tone from online). I do not like the passive/aggressive mode of questioning that so many Christians engage in and I do call them out on it. But that is nothing to someone attacking God and Christ as Benny did…..so yes I would challenge him in the same way…

        Always glad for the opportunity to reflect…apologies for all I have and will get wrong!

      2. Slight retraction…

        I know that Steve Chalke has been called a heretic, the Anti Christ (really!!), and a demon – he probably has pretty thick skin now. I imagine the main reason he would not want to discuss with you, David (assuming he could fit around your schedule), is why we should all stop this. What progress are we making here? Hurling our arguments back and forth.

        I’ve asked questions that haven’t been answered – I’m only told that I’m petty and horrible for asking them. They are genuine questions. If then, we are not able to talk and discuss – why would anyone in their right mind want to waste their life having insults thrown at them? And from reading your blog – I can see why Steve would not want to discuss with you – if indeed he was even aware of your invite.

        Another question for you, and answer honestly. Would you want to have conversation with someone who implied you are the anti-christ? Would you respect their position and think that they have either the moral integrity or theological nous to have a worthwhile conversation? Would you want to give them any time? People who do such horrible things, should not be rewarded and then allowed to claim a higher ground.

      3. Feel free to imagine what you like! All I can do is go by what he says. He claims that he wants to dialogue with those who disagree with him. He was offered by Premier radio an opportunity to do so and refused. He claimed to have a conference looking at both sides of the SSM debate…and only had speakers on the one side.

        Would I like to have conversation with someone who implied I was the anti-Christ? Of course. I would be more than happy to do so. Especially if they were a church leader and someone who was undermining my work. I assume you are talking about me when you ask that question? You are clearly implying that I am the person who has done this ‘horrible’ thing (I note how you object to what you do being called ‘horrible’, but feel free to lay the charge upon others!). Except you are wrong. And you are again bearing false witness. I did not call Steve the anti-Christ.

      4. David,

        https://theweeflea.com/2018/01/07/the-anti-christ-message-of-steve-chalke/
        ?

        Please don’t play semantics. As someone who reads so literally, the implication is stark.

        Once again, you are entitled to your own thoughts and I honestly respect that. I love that you are passionate about your beliefs and it is admirable how you have committed so much time and effort to share them. In that respect you are similar to Steve. Though I might not agree with everything you both say or believe (you both know things that I do not (yet – may never), and I hope I have some insight too), we are all in pursuit of a Christ-centered life. Please don’t attack this. We should encourage each other – something we are falling foul of.

        I am not claiming any moral high ground – let’s be honest, it’s been left unmanned. I am simply trying to close our conversation on a positive note.

        What I struggle with is your judgement of others (I realise you think that this is me judging you – but it’s really not!) I would never imply that someone is the anti-Christ and put it into the public domain. I would not call someone a heretic and stir up a storm – even when someone could not follow Jesus’ simple command to love our neighbour, even those who think differently, and we had previously considered heretics (Good Samaritan). My last wee plea is that you are more generous towards those you disagree with – as generous as you would be to your teenage self who didn’t have as much understanding as you do now. To yourself, you would surely say – ‘yes – but’, ‘not quite’, ‘have you considered it this way?’ rather than condemnation.

        As someone who has given so much time to study and service, and has presumably been a Christian for many years – perhaps more than I have been around; I assume you have some valuable insights – but all I have seen and read is your attacks of Steve’s position, my own and others. You have never once justified or explained your positions – even in the latest post to Phil. And, though you thought my questions in my original post were mean and upsetting, they are honest. And I would value your thoughts, though they have not been forthcoming. This is a real shame as I routinely seek out different perspectives and their justification. Here I have found almost none and have been turned off by the personal attacks, which I think reflects the worst of us all. This is an important point – if people, such as yourself, who have more conservative views regarding Biblical hermeneutics are not willing to provide an antithesis to the views of Steve, and N.T. Wright etc, how do we have a discussion? You have attacked Steve for suggesting Adam and Eve is a myth – but without justifying your position, how are we to respond? If you are suggesting that we take the primeval history literally – we need to have a conversation about what science is ‘teaching us’. Is the earth 4.5 billion years old? Did the dinosaurs walk this planet? – these are questions that I had when I was 10 and because the Church’s (my church) response was black and white – it didn’t fit with the Bible ergo – it cannot be true. I was made to feel stupid – why could I not hold these different truths together? Plainly, they do not exist on the same timeline. Rather than condemning people who respond to these questions, you should offer your own understanding, and like a good student – show your working. I would value it.

        Let me finish by saying that I respect your commitment to this blog, to sharing your thoughts and views – though it is important to recognise that they are just that – your thoughts. It is no criticism to say that you haven’t all the answers – none of us do! As an historian, you know that – I think I heard you say “context, context, context”, that requires study and learning – context enriches, deepens and sometimes contradicts what text can superficially imply. As we gain more context, we find more answers. That’s what makes the Church so exciting – we should be learning together and supporting each other as we break in God’s kingdom and shalom.

      5. It’s not semantics. I think the message of Chalke is anti Christ in that it is anti his message – I don’t think he is the anti-Christ. The difference is important.

        Of course you were claiming the moral high ground…your posts are full of how loving you are and nasty I am!

        You would never call anyone a heretic? Even if they were? Or do heretics not exist in your world?

        I agree that ‘all you have seen’ is the attacks – but I suspect that that is as much to do with your limited vision as it is to do with my limited ability to communicate!

        I have frequently explained and justified my position in my posts – your problem is just simply that you don’t accept the justification. I did not merely write ‘Steve is a heretic’ – I spent a great deal of time explaining why.

        You also frequently conflate and make up my arguments – ie. Yes Adam and Eve are not a myth (I believe that because Jesus did and I follow Christ)….but that says nothing about the age of the earth. And yes dinosaurs did walk this planet….

        You are not just in the position of the humble inquirer seeking truth. You come on here with a number of serious accusations – rather than questions. I have very little time for those kind of games.

        And again you play your little games….’it no criticism to say you don’t have all the answers’ you write – as though I state that I do…

        I see that Steve is now telling us that the discovery of some ancient erotica in Pompel shows that Paul was not against homosexuality! It really is something else when you interpret the bible through erotica! Although in reality what Steve is doing is reinterpreting the Bible through todays culture. I prefer to view the culture through the eyes of the Bible…I know which one is the more reliable…

        All the best…

  21. Hi Steve and David,

    I am hesitantly responding as I do not think that this has not been a helpful conversation – nor do I think anyone is really engaging with the issues – but rather becoming more entrenched. And I think the character assassination is below us all but does perhaps reveal our own flaws. David, believe me when I say – it is not because you would dominate a conversation that people do not want to engage with you. You upset people. You have upset me. I repeatedly asked for a telephone conversation – not once did you respond to my invitation. I therefore find your suggestion of how you would like to discuss with me a little disingenuous.

    For the record, I do not think that Steve has an ego issue. He is clearly driven and very motivated – but I do not confuse that with an unhealthy ego – beyond the naturally part of our psyche. He’s written a book that he believes in and wants people to discuss – of course he will promote it. The alternative is to not take it seriously. Theology and our Christian walk, we always must.

    Like you say, Steve, we too often fall into the trap of reviewing character rather than content. The fruit of Steve Chalke speaks for itself. He is a man doing all he can to share God’s love as he understands it.

    Then we come to the theology. Whether we agree with this or not, I think we all have a responsibility to engage with it. Let’s not be afraid – if it is false, it changes nothing! If our conclusion is that we understand things differently, let us not condemn the author. He is not a heretic for thinking differently, we all do. We all know things that the others do not – that cannot render us good or bad – orthodox or heretic. We are all learning. Unless we claim to understand God (if we do, we’d have some philosophical issues), we are all learning and changing. Some of the great ‘heretics’ of the past turned out to be spot on. Bruno was burned for his heresy. Of course, the act of burning someone for saying something that we do not agree with IS heresy. We MUST stop staying that someone who thinking differently is a heretic. Like Steve Green says, it makes us look foolish (paraphrase), but we must bear fruit. Which is love!!!!

    I’ve been in trouble for saying that – but it was how Jesus summarised everything – so it’s got to be worth something, right?

    Finally, I did not attack God or Jesus. If I accidentally did, I am sorry – but I’m pretty sure they didn’t mind. I may have challenged your idea of who God is – but that is something different – but deserves an apology all the same, if you felt it mean. I wonder whether you would apologise to Steve Chalke for not allowing him his view?

    1. Benny,

      Of course I upset people. So did Jesus. So did Paul. So does every single Christian who teaches the truth of the Bible. It is upsetting…

      You seem very easily upset…you go around making accusations and yet get upset when you are challenged on them and suddenly start claiming the moral high ground – about how loving you are and horrible I am! You state that you ‘repeatedly’ asked for a telephone conversation (although I only recall that offer being made once). Why? What would be the point? I get hundreds of messages every week…I would be more than happy to meet with you if you happened to be around Dundee 9or now Sydney) but why waste time on a pointless conversation on the phone. You had plenty opportunity to contact me privately but instead chose to publish attacks on me publicly. I have answered them in public. If you don’t want that to happen – don’t make the attacks public.

      “The fruit of Steve Chalke speaks for itself”. Indeed it does. As do his words – which is what I am commenting on.

      False theology does change things – its why Jesus was so vehement about it – and the apostles.

      Steve is a heretic – not for ‘thinking differently’ but for publicly expressing heretical teaching.

      You keep talking about love – but refuse to define it.

      Yes you did attack God and Jesus. You said that Jesus ‘avoided the facts about adultery’. You accused me (falsely) of saying that ‘God has a penis’. You said that you did not go with the ‘Jesus of the Bible’ or the Jesus of Chalke but you went with your own personal Jesus, ‘the Jesus of Benny’. You said that according to the Noah account God’s plan was not great, he was not smart, his plan of redemption failed, he was genocidal and hypocritical, unforgiving etc”

      You also continually bear false witness (by the way how does that fit the measure of love?). I did not say that Chalke was not allowed his view and therefore I am not going to apologise for that. I did and do say that his views are against what Christ teaches, they are against the Bible, they are false teaching. And I am not only permitted but obliged to state that. When someone is putting poison into the food fed to God’s people, and turning non Christians away from the Gospel and into Hell, then yes I have not only a right but a duty to call it out. Love demands nothing less.

    2. I’ll put it as bluntly as possible. Christianity is not about expressing God’s love in the best way we know how, but rather listening to God’s revelation to us and showing that love to others.

      Steve Chalke is very open about the fact he wishes for Churches who teach biblical views on homosexuality to be made illegal (and disgracefully conflates it with the horrors of gay cure therapy) . He is a Pelagian, semi-Gnostic and barely Trinitarian. His claim that the cross is symbolic in this book is touching on heresies that haven’t been seen in people who claim Christianity in 1800 years and were responded to by the early church in terms that were extremely direct (doctrine of demons). Chalke’s pride is actually very clear: he belives his definition of love is better than God’s. He has no love for God’s people, but rather is a wolf seeking to get them to follow the world. False teaching in the name of love is the most hateful thing of all.

  22. Hi David,

    I am looking for some guidance. I follow you on Twitter and saw that you promoted a Tom Holland Unbelievable video. In it Tom (and N.T. Wright agrees) says that Paul only wrote 7 of the letters atributed to him, yet this is one of your criticisms of Steve’s book. I am not well read on this issue, in fact it is the first I have heard of this. I understand that you disagree with Steve Chalke, Tom Holland and N.T. Wright – I would appreciate hearing your thoughts and insight.

    Kind regards
    Phil

    1. I put up many videos – it does not mean I promote or agree with them – I often put them up because although I disagree with them I find them interesting. I believe that Paul wrote all the books attributed to him – except perhaps Hebrews…

      1. Please could you elaborate – why do you so strongly disagree with Chalke, Holland and Wright? I think it is unfair to attack a possition and not explain your own. I hope that doesn’t come across confrontational in anway; I had though N.T. Wright was universally respected and you have me all confused. Is that not the case?

        I appreciate our time

      2. Sure – I don’t ‘strongly disagree with Chalke, Holland and Wright. I just think that the Pauline epistles were written by Paul. NT Wright is respected, but he is not infallible. I was not aware that Holland was an NT scholar. I do however strongly disagree with Steve Chalke – but if his only error was the authorship of the Pauline epistles – I wouldn;t really care. I strongly disagree with his misrepresentation of Christ, his preaching of a false gospel and his compromise with the world.

  23. Thank you David,

    I don’t want to get into the name calling club as I’m not sure enough of what I think to label someone either wrong or a heretic.

    To my previous point, please could you explain your position further. If you haven’t a further, that is okay, but I had assumed you had a more developed position, given your earlier comments. You have aroused my interest in this particular issue.

    Thank you in advance.

    1. Hi Phil….not really….sorry but I have no real interest in arguing about the authorship of the Pauline epistles….there are many other subjects which deserve my time…this ain’t one of them. I’m sure there are lots of books that can help – try the New Bible Commentary for example.

  24. Steve Chalke’s book ‘The Lost Message of Paul’ is a breath of fresh air. A real inspiration that I would recommend to everyone interested in better understanding the context of Paul’s New Testament letters to the communities he encouraged. Although many will make every effort to undermine it’s content, you are left to decide based on an informed reading of the Bible.
    (Comment by a follower of Jesus for over 42 years who continues to be amazed how the Bible speaks today and to each generation)

    1. I prefer to read Chalke through the prism of the Bible, than read the Bible through the prism of Chalke. The Bible does indeed speak today to each generation – despite all the efforts of Chalke and others to undermine and silence it!

  25. Out of interest, how can you be so sure that Steve is wrong and you, right? Are you not reading the Bible through the prism of Robertson?
    As someone who has come to terms with not having all of the answers, it is your self-assurance and condemnation of Steve and others that most I find most challenging to get on board with.
    If there is only one way to read the Bible (your way), is that not a form o gnosticism?

    1. I have no self assurance….I don’t trust my self, nor the self appointed scholars. But I do trust God and I believe that Almighty God is perfectly able of making his Word clear. You say that you have come to terms with not having all the answers but thats a smug self-righteous remark because in reality you are saying ‘unlike you’. And you are very certain of your position…HOw can I be sure? If they speak not according to the Word….don’t believe me and don’t believe Steve…believe what God says…or can your God not speak clearly?

      1. But you see it is circular. One interpretation of the Word vs. another.
        We all claim “I’m right’ because all the people I agree with, agree with me.”

        You claim God is perfectly capable of speaking clearly, and yet your blog is devoted to attacking people who you would claim have not heard correctly.

      2. No – its not circular…although as you are someone who clearly delights in twisting words and perverting truth in order to make your point, I can understand why you would say that. My blog is not ‘devoted to attacking people who have not heard correctly’. My blog is devoted to a variety of subjects. I personally am devoted to Christ – which is why, when people like Steve and you attack him or his word, I respond.

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