We mustn’t let this fallout between the Evangelical Alliance and Steve Chalke cause more harm

Evangelical Alliance Oasis TrustSo as of yesterday, the Evangelical Alliance (EA) have decided to part company with Steve Chalke’s Oasis Trust over gay relationships. Once again we see that evangelicals can cope with quite a few doctrinal disagreements, but when it comes to homosexuality, more often than not, lines end up being drawn that cause more division than gracious resolution. And speaking as an evangelical, it hurts.

This might be one of those stories that bypasses the national media and remains an internal dispute that will keep Christians debating for the weeks to come, or it may end up with causing the evangelical wing of the Church in this country a big headache, if a mainstream media story is spun that evangelical Christians are homophobic and ostracise anyone who strays from the one man, one woman, no sex outside of heterosexual marriage line. Despite David Cameron’s recent encouragement to Christians to be more ‘evangelical’ about their faith, the word struggles to sell itself. You can’t expect to win many friends outside of the church (and even within some parts) if you announce that you are an evangelical Christian. This is mostly the fault of bull-headed American evangelicalism which is so closely tied to Republican right-wing politics, but recently as Christians have wrestled with the gay-marriage legislation as it passed through parliament, it has been the evangelical arm of the Church that has often been seen fighting hardest against it.

Yet when you consider the essence of what it means to be evangelical, it is and should be a beautiful thing. It is a deep and heartfelt commitment to the joy of the Gospel of Jesus, to unending grace, to salvation by faith and not by works and a love and devotion to God’s word through the Bible. The Evangelical Alliance who have come to serve as a focal point for those who share these values over more than 160 years now draw together 79 denominations, 3,500 churches, 750 organisations and thousands of individual members. That represents a significant percentage of the church attending population in this country.

As with Anglicanism, to be evangelical is not narrow and fixed beyond certain core beliefs and principles. Evangelicals will disagree on a range of issues of secondary importance. The EA’s Evangelical Relationships Commitment states:

‘We respect the diversity of culture, experience and doctrinal understanding that God grants to His people, and acknowledge that some differences over issues not essential to salvation may well remain until the end of time.

‘We call on each other, when speaking or writing of those issues of faith or practice that divide us, to acknowledge our own failings and the possibility that we ourselves may be mistaken, avoiding personal hostility and abuse, and speaking the truth in love and gentleness.’

Especially given that the EA’s strapline is ‘Better Together’, kicking an organisation out of the Alliance should therefore hopefully be a rare event, that only comes when a breakdown of relationship and serious disagreement occurs. According to their press release, the EA have not rushed into this decision to remove Oasis lightly and have worked with them for some time to resolve their differences. However from an observer’s perspective, it has been heading towards this conclusion for some time.

Steve Chalke was once the poster boy of the evangelical movement; a heroic figure held in high esteem. He was and is a gifted communicator, with a passion for justice and social activism serving the poor and vulnerable. He has a rare ability to make things happen and on a large scale. His Christmas Cracker radio stations at the end of the 80s  raised more than £4 million for some of the world’s poorest communities. Through his Oasis Trust, he has set up hostels for the homeless, Stop the Traffik – now a major coalition of over 200 charities dedicated to ending human trafficking – and runs a chain of school academies. No one should belittle these huge achievements and the EA has been keen to acknowledge their deep respect for the work and achievements of the Oasis Trust.

It is regrettable that this work motivated by faith has not been enough to keep Oasis within the EA fold, but the much of the problem is that Oasis is intrinsically linked to Steve Chalke. By choosing to publish some of his theological articles on their website rather than on a personal one under Chalke’s name, the controversies that he has generated over the last year through his interpretation of the Bible in particular has fallen into the organisation’s lap. Although the Oasis board have said that they have no corporate view on Chalke’s pro-gay relationship stance, they have published a range of resources affirming this position including provocatively an Order of Service for a Commitment and Blessing Service following a Civil Partnership.

Steve Chalke is still a heavyweight in Christian circles and despite his controversial book The Lost Message of Jesus, which rejected the theology of penal substitution as “a form of cosmic child abuse” annoying many readers and leading to Word Alive’s split from Spring Harvest in 2007, the EA were able to work through the tensions and avoid a fallout with Chalke. This time though views on sexuality have pushed the relationship over the edge in spite of the fact that a growing minority of evangelicals are coming out in favour of monogamous gay relationships  and that sexuality is not specifically mentioned in the EA Basis of Faith.

The EA does have form in this area though. In 2002 the organisation Courage was forced to leave the EA. Its work involved supporting gay and lesbian Christians and affirmed monogamous single-sex relationships along the lines of Oasis’ current position. It very much looks as though any public warmth towards single-sex relationships is off the cards for EA members if they wish to keep their membership. As fellow blogger, Peter kirk put it yesterday:

‘In its action today the Evangelical Alliance seems to have turned its back on Clive Calver’s (former general secretary of the EA) vision of evangelical Christians putting aside differences over secondary matters to work together. Instead it has elevated one particular secondary matter to be a touchstone of evangelicalism. And it has done so in a way which plays into the hands of the popular press, with its anti-Christian agenda of portraying the church as obsessed with sexuality and intolerably homophobic. This is most unfortunate.’

It is indeed most unfortunate that two great organisations who do so much good and have much in common have been unable to resolve their differences. It is more than unfortunate that at a time of increased sensitivities towards gay relationships this will do nothing to improve the image of evangelical Christians. The decision is not homophobic in itself, but the perceptions of the media may not be so considerate and forgiving. For many Christians who are trying hard to break down barriers and welcome gay people into the Church, this will not help at all.

Even though Steve Chalke’s views will not be shared by many Christians, evangelical or otherwise, is this division that will cause many to feel they have to take sides, not having considered it necessary previously, worth the cost? Are Steve Chalke and Oasis such a big a threat to the standing and structures of the EA that they must be expelled in this way? Just how dogmatic do the EA intend to be in defending a party line of their own creation?

At least both sides in their statements have expressed a strong desire to avoid any unseemly dispute and to speak well of each other. There will be much to work through and angry voices to calm following this announcement. The EA Basis of Faith also says that we have a Christian duty of trust and mutual encouragement to all who serve Christ as Lord. This has not been the EA or Oasis’ finest hour, but it now provides the opportunity for a good deal of Christian love, grace and reconciliation to be demonstrated by all who are affected. Lets not make a deeply undesirable situation a whole lot worse.



Categories: Christian organisations, Homosexuality

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96 replies

  1. A sad day for evangelicalism. Seems to be goodbye EA, hello FA: Fundamentalist Alliance. In the meantime, Accepting Evangelicals is growing, and has issued this response: Better together – apparently not…

  2. Thanks Gillan, that’s a really helpful perspective seeking to de-escalate

  3. I’ve quoted this elsewhere, but I think it’s important enough to warrant citing again, so hope you’ll forgive me repeating myself. From the Very Revd Michael Sadgrove, Dean of Durham:

    … I think we need to be more intelligent about thinking biblically in relation to equal marriage. It’s not enough to quote texts by themselves, as if they prove or disprove a particular position: what’s necessary is to understand the direction in which scripture is leading us in the way we reflect on human relationships. I was struck by a conversation the other day with a convinced evangelical who asked: why does the church come across as so hostile to equal marriage when it’s so clear from the Bible that covenanted monogamous lifelong commitment is always better than casual, promiscuous coupling? For the covenanted relationship is precisely how God marries himself to humanity. Shouldn’t the church positively welcome equal marriage as affirming this rich biblical insight into God’s nature and ours? And even if we aren’t sure, isn’t it better to risk a more generous way of reading biblical writings rather than a narrower, in the spirit of a text I come back to in so many controversial settings: ‘there is no longer Jew or Greek, slave or free, male and female, for all of you are one in Christ Jesus’ (Galatians 3.28). This is the kind of hermeneutical risk I see Jesus taking with Torah texts in the gospels.

    Equal Marriage: crossing the threshold

    • “Very Revd” Michael Sadgrove, Dean of Durham IS CLEARLY NOT A CHRISTIAN! No person born again of God and given a new heart and a new spirit (Ezekiel 36:26-27) would flout Gods commandments, and encourage others to do so in this way…

  4. At its best Evangelical theology is good news to everyone, and Oasis have been at the cutting edge of the Shaftesbury/ Wilberforce tradition of discipleship. At its worst, the expression of these views can become hidebound and pharisaical. It doesn’t have to and, in my experience locally, it usually doesn’t. Linda Woodhead’s research makes it clear that the conventional views of homosexuality with which all of us a certain age were brought up are no longer as prevalent among Christians, including Evangelical Christians, as they were until very recently. It behoves Church leaders to understand this fact, and, more importantly, why this is so — the power behind change has not been libertinism, but a strong moral and theological instinct for respecting the basic human dignity of gay people by allowing and encouraging them to marry. It’s a kingdom argument, that the Church is often too embarrassed to take seriously.

    • Thank you for taking the time to post Alan. What has been so encouraging to see recently is that the dignity of gay people is being taken as equally seriously as the theology of sexuality. It is no longer purely an academic exercise for the majority of evangelicals I know and meet.

    • “It’s a kingdom argument” – this is novel take on the Kingdom regarding personal dignity, sexuality and marriage Bishop. Could you please explain or provide link to source material?

  5. The intransigence could be viewed as coming more from Oasis as they won’t post an alternative view point ALONGSIDE the pro SSM view. Additionally Point 3 of the EA statement of faith states “The divine inspiration and supreme authority of the Old and New Testament Scriptures, which are the written Word of God—fully trustworthy for faith and conduct” . Many including myself view a pro SSM as contrary to scripture, I have written a blog post on this http://rifever.blogspot.co.uk/2014/04/god-and-sex.html. I fully understand the desire to be inclusive but I cannot see how scripture can support this around this issue. Therefore this does not become a secondary issue about sexual matters but a primary matter around the authority of scripture. If the Church compromises too much then we will lose the power and authority of Christ.

    • Seems to me, Graham, that you’re conflating your interpretation of Scripture with the authority of Scripture: you may find Benny Hazlehurst’s Bible Says No series at Accepting Evangelicals helpful; see here: Accepting Evangelicals: Resources.

      Those evangelicals who accept same sex marriage are not rejecting the authority of Scripture but the authority of those who claim that Scripture must only be interpreted their way — and that’s another matter entirely.

      As for losing the authority and power of Christ — pffft! The power of Christ is seen most authoritatively in the Cross, in his willing self-surrender, giving himself away and refusing to exert his power. That’s the paradox of our faith, made perfect in weakness; and the EA would do well to learn from that.

      • No Phil Groom, ALL who pervertedly say the bible allows for ANY sexual contact outside one man/one woman who are married to each other are God HATERS; as is clearly shown by their rebellion against God and self-worshipping insistence upon ignoring the bible’s plain teaching, and putting SELF on the throne!
        “Though they know God’s decree that those who practice such things deserve to die, they not only do them but give approval to those who practice them.” (Romans 1:32)

        Well done Evangelical Alliance for kicking out Oasis Trust. Steve Chalke showed himself to be apostate years ago with his denial of substitutionary atonement! Whilst support for gay marriage/any gay relationship makes it clear that THE PRO-GAY PERSON IS NOT SAVED, as saved people do not rebel against God by promoting a lifestyle God hates! – back to Rom 1:32 again!

        • Sounds like there’s a lot of hate in your heart, Helen. Thankfully, you are not my judge: God is; and God is love and mercy triumphs over judgement. May the Lord bless you and shine his light upon you as you seek his will.

      • Helen, the passage you refers to is speaking about our own place in the context of a fallen mankind whose falleness is portrayed by actions which extend much further than to issues of sexuality 29 They have become filled with every kind of wickedness, evil, greed and depravity. They are full of envy, murder, strife, deceit and malice. They are gossips, 30 slanderers, God-haters, insolent, arrogant and boastful; they invent ways of doing evil; they disobey their parents; 31 they have no understanding, no fidelity, no love, no mercy.

        Following on from the verse you have kindly provided we have the point of this whole paragraph, which is not a teaching about sexual morality, any more than it is a reminder not to be insolent, arrogant or boastful:

        2 You, therefore, have no excuse, you who pass judgment on someone else, for at whatever point you judge another, you are condemning yourself, because you who pass judgment do the same things. 2 Now we know that God’s judgment against those who do such things is based on truth. 3 So when you, a mere human being, pass judgment on them and yet do the same things, do you think you will escape God’s judgment? 4 Or do you show contempt for the riches of his kindness, forbearance and patience, not realizing that God’s kindness is intended to lead you to repentance?

        As someone once said, whenever we see a therefore, we should find out what it is there-for. The whole point of this passage is to focus on need for us as Christians to not pass judgement on one another!

    • This is a question around which various positions are sincerely taken by Evangelical Christians. It’s not the first — the taking of life in war, even Evolution, are similar and past controversies raged more furiously around, for example the institution of slavery, in the way documented by Mark Noll in his book on the Civil War as a Theological problem. This doesn’t mean either that the subject doesn’t matter or that the Bible is irrelevant to them — it’s all about how a Biblically based faith is applied to people’s lives. In these circumstances, would it not be wiser not to try and direct from the centre, not even by censoring other people’s websites, but to provide gracious space in which truth can emerge, one way or the other?

      • Ian, the passages you quote about passing judgement are WAY out of context! They are referring (in Rom 2) to JEWS who think they are not guilty of the things the gentiles have just been accused of, but are just as guilty.In the context of the whole book of Romans this part, ch 2 is building a case for the conclusion of ch 3, that ALL have sinned and need a saviour. It CANNOT be used to trump other passages which tell us to admonish each other (eg Col 3:16), and to judge righteously ( 1 Cor 5:11- 6:5, & John 7:24)
        Note 1 Cor 5:11 says we are not to associate with anyone who calls himself a brother who is sexually immoral.
        And Ian, You quote that “God’s kindness is meant to lead us to REPENTANCE.” – Exactly!!! Repentance is heartfelt sorrow for sin, of such magnitude that the sinner TURNS from the sin and towards Christ, so grateful for His kindness that he makes every effort not to sin in that way again! – Or in any way! IT IS PRECISELY THE COMMITTING OF HOMOSEXUAL SIN (or condoning it in others) WHICH SHOWS THERE WAS NO REPENTANCE!! If you’ve REALLY repented, you stop!

      • Helen, you are entitled to your views of course, but there is little evidence that I am aware of that the Church to whom Paul is writing is either exclusively Gentile or Jewish, and in any case the text runs through Chapters 1 – 3 without changing audience. In fact it is you that was quoting out of context in your first comment.

  6. My own reflection is less about the issues and more about the way in which this decision has been made and communicated. http://calebsreflections.wordpress.com/2014/05/03/alliances-are-hard-to-maintain/

  7. It seems odd that this split is because of Chalke’s view on same-sex marriage, rather than his views on the Bible. His recent debates with Andrew Wilson on Premier TV and in the pages of Christianity Magazine (http://christianitymagazine.co.uk/bibledebate) strongly suggest that Chalke has abandoned an Evangelical view of the Bible, which is a far more fundamental issue.

  8. Hi,

    I am miffed why the church should care what society thinks of the church? Do you actually think our Father in heaven what society thinks about the body of Christ. Jesus was full of grace and truth, John 1:17. Our societies want grace from us Christians but what it rejects is Truth, that Jesus is Lord and His word is truth. Jesus is worthy of any stuff that society throws at us, I love the trinity and my desire is to live in His presence and reflect his grace and truth and not win a popularity contest to be rejecting truth and are totally deceived about the reality of who Jesus is.

    Tim Wright

  9. I’m afraid I’m going to disagree with you here. I think the EAUK made the right decision.

    I don’t believe that sexuality can be considered “adiaphora”, i.e. matters indifferent which Christians are free to disagree about. Baptism is one obvious example of adiaphora – if I were a credo-baptist I would disagree with the Anglican church down the road – but I would still be happy to call them evangelical because I think both positions are possible from Scripture (Scripture is genuinely not clear on this issue).

    I cannot say the same about sexuality: I think Scripture is abundantly clear, and those who hold to a high view of it (such as described in the EA’s basis of faith) should also say the same.

    Additionally, any sexual sin is a serious business and I think to merely “agree to disagree” about it would both play down its severity and undermine pastoral care in churches which did hold to a prohibition on same-sex relationships.

    • Thanks for being willing to disagree with me Phill. To be honest I’m more disappointed with Oasis who have unnecessarily set themselves up as a theology centre on human sexuality, putting the EA in a difficult situation, especially when Oasis have not engaged with the EA’s requests to present both sides of a difficult debate on their site, even if they still openly favour one alongside that. I don’t see why Oasis have decided to make what is basically Steve Chalke’s own personal views into a key part of what they do when it isn’t directly relevant to what they do.

      Steve Chalke has been pushing buttons over the last few years stirring up various debates. That is his individual choice, but it shouldn’t have been attached to Oasis so directly in this way. If they had done this situation would never have arisen.

      • Thanks Gillan for being gracious in disagreement!

        I agree with you on Oasis / Chalke. His article ‘have we misread the Bible?’ is on the front page of their website at the time of writing – it does seem Chalke’s views and theirs are tightly entwined.

        Also, I think if Chalke had just wanted to start a conversation that would have been one thing – it seems he’s actually gone further and endorsed same-sex relationships without listening to the concerns that other members of the EA might have.

      • Hi Phill and Gillan, the complication here is that whilst Steve Chalke may well be expressing views that are personal, that the scope of Oasis is broad, and perhaps more importantly Steves views are not a million miles away from others within the evangelical community. Some of these people are currently members of the evangelical alliance and so the action of Steve Clifford and the Board has much wider implications than simply a breakdown between two organisations. It is for this reason that once the EA made the decision it did, it was incumbent on them to engage with their extensive membership and essentially ask them to endorse its decision which in effect was taken on their behalf. That was not achieved just because they issued a press release. If they don’t think they need to they seem to have misunderstood what the Alliance is meant to be. It is not a democratic body, but it does need to accept some form of collective agency.

    • Excellent, Phill, I couldn’t agree more!

    • Are we separate from the rest of society? I do care. About 6 years ago I started a new job. One of my co-workers was obviously gay. Not a problem for me and I enjoyed working with him. Until we had one of those ‘management training days’ and we had to say what motivates us. My faith became very clear. Instantly, the shutters came down and it took a few months of gently and persistently assuring him that I was OK with gay people to open things up between us.
      That had a big impact on him and also on my other co-workers who saw a Christian in a new light. A couple of them even started going to church again!

      • I’m glad of the positive impact you had on your co-workers.

        However, I think it’s possible to have a positive impact without ‘affirming’ gay relationships. I hope that if God has told us what he wants, he will still be able to call people to himself.

        • Hi Phill,

          Sorry for the delay in replying. There are two problems with your reply. The first is that I cannot see that homosexuality is, in itself a sin. Of course gay people will be sinners, as we all are, but not because they are gay. I come from a Dutch family were homosexuality has never been illegal. I clearly remember back in the early 70s going to a family party where there were two guys holding hands, clearly a couple. I was about 10 at the time and asked my mother about this. She explained that some men prefer other men. OK, I thought, this is just something that happens in Holland but not in England, like cycle paths and tulip growing. When I became a Christian in my 30s I considered the biblical evidence but the reasons for maintaining this tolerant view seemed much stronger than being judgemental towards Gay people.
          The second reason is that I live in the real world. As a Christian gay colleagues and friends will assume I am against them unless I do affirm their identity. It is sad but true. It is this identity, not their relationships, that is the important thing. I can no more ignore that then they could ignore my identity as a wife and mother.

        • Hi,

          Thank you for replying, and no worries about the time. I’d love to chat to you (and others who have replied) about this properly some time as I think it raises an interesting issue.

          But to briefly mention the points you raise;

          1) As I said before, I think the Bible is clear on sexuality.

          2) I do appreciate people will assume I am against them – but I think the response to that is not to affirm sin. God calls sinners to him, one particular kind of sexual sin does not exempt you from his call. God loves people where they are but does not leave them there.

          In addition, I think we have to let God and the Bible define what our identity is rather than people defining it themselves. Ultimately who you are attracted to does not define your identity. I appreciate that is a massive difference between how much of society sees it, but if God has indeed given us an identity then it is not helpful to affirm someone’s self-created identity.

      • Its the pedant in me Phill, but what do you mean by affirming relationships (of any sort). Like Monica I have friends who are gay. I don’t usually get asked to affirm their relationships any more than they affirm my faith. I also have many friends whose sexuality is unknown to me. Some of them are Gossips, some exhibit envy. Some of these people are members of local Churches, most are not. I find that respecting all people I meet, irrespective of their situation is the most effective way of them asking me what I believe. I usually rely on the Holy Spirit to challenge what needs challenging in the order it chooses. All I can hope to do is point towards Jesus, some days that is easier than others. When they do trust me enough to ask me what I think the Bible teaches about life, I work things through with them, so they have the confidence to carry on reading and learning for themselves.

      • What I meant was, you can do everything Monica (and you) suggest while still holding to a traditional ethic on sexuality. I’m sorry if I wasn’t clear.

      • My point Phill is that we can talk as much as we like about what we believe or adhere to, but at work and at play in society, people rarely talk (in my experience) about their sexual appetites and behaviour. Hence my question. As for what I am supposed to hold onto, that is equally unlikely to emerge in social conversation.

  10. Homosexuality is NOT a “secondary issue” over which Christians can agree to differ! Someone who refuses to repent of their sin – and/or condones/promotes the sin of another is NOT submitting to Christ, so Christ’s forgiveness does NOT extend to them.

  11. Helen: I don’t know you, or anything about you. I’m not saying you’re wrong in your beliefs or even that I necessarily disagree with you. But I worry that you are so quick to condemn others who, reading the same Bible you read, worshipping the same God, loving the same Jesus, have come to a different conclusion than you have. I admit that I have done that, too, as I have written about here: http://atpaulwaters.wordpress.com/2014/04/28/dear-pink-panther-did-i-ever-say-sorry/
    If we want the right to say ‘go and sin no more’, we first have to have the courage to say ‘neither do I condemn you’. Isn’t that Jesus’ example?

    • Paul,

      I don’t hear any condemnation in her tone or her words. We can totally disagree and think someone is wrong and it is not condemning. I don’t think it would be “wrong” to consider a person not a Christian, if they did not believe in the exclusiveness of Christ and his reconciling all things to Himself. Most of the teachings of Jesus are pretty clear.

      • Hi Timothy!

        Sorry about the delay in replying. Well – to suggest that Christ’s forgiveness does not extend to someone who understands the Bible differently from me is hard to understand as anything but condemnation. However, I agree with you that it is possible to disagree without that constituting condemnation. I also agree that someone who denies Christ cannot be a Christian – but then they would hardly want to call themselves Christian either, I imagine.

        But that is not the issue here. What we are discussing, after all, is a question of ethics, not of doctrine, and it’s a question about which Jesus did not say anything at all (nothing that is recorded at least). Whether we like it or not, Christians have come to different conclusions about what the Bible _does_ teach about this issue, so my point is simply that we need to be listening to each other carefully, and we need to have some humility in our dialogue with other Christians.

        Who gets forgiven – is thankfully not up to us.

        Have a blessed Sunday!

      • Paul, people who openly state they are ex-Christians on liberal sites show up and claim to be Christians on evangelical sites all the time. This seems to be a fairly common ‘tactic’ when the topic is gay rights and the church.

      • Agree with your points Timothy, but would stress the clarity of what Jesus said as Paul appears to be a tad puzzled on what that was.
        SO Paul, I strongly disagree on the heart of this issue. it’s definitely not one of ethics but specifically very much about discipleship and, therefore, doctrinal. And Jesus had plenty to say about sexual immorality being a likely cause for the loss of salvation for a couple of churches He’d visited personally: Pergamos and Thyatira. It was so serious He even dictated a letter to each instructing them to repent! (Rev 3 refers) Why should it be any different today? It isn’t!

        So any difference in our understanding what’s plainly stated in scripture is a window on our own souls, is it not?.

      • HI Paul and thanks for your patience – have been full-time priority developments, but our matter is important. Your para 1) “…no biblical record that Jesus said anything specific about homosexuality”; (para 3) ”We should look honestly at “what the Bible says”…people reading the same Bible come to different conclusions”. So, briefly:

        Such exclusion logic as (1) is faulty exegesis because it makes ‘here and now’ interpret ’then and now’. Hence, many misunderstand original intent or ‘plain meaning‘ of biblical texts and don’t take whole scripture into account. We cannot use today’s cultural concepts to interpret or qualify what Jesus said. He said that in Him the Law is fulfilled/perfected and when satan tried tempting Him, then Jesus stood on the prime authority of scripture; “It IS written!” What wasn’t there in scripture but was religiously approved He improved upon by authoritatively instructing, “You have heard…BUT I say…”

        Therefore, if non-abusive genital homosexuality is sanctioned by God then wouldn’t Jesus have made a definitive declaration that it is? But He didn’t. And Paul clearly referred to there being no change in traditional Hebrew morality re. either ‘abusive’ or consensual homosexuality, as at Romans 1:24-28. Furthermore, he’d already referred in 1Cor 6:9 to the physical act as reason for exclusion from the Kingdom.

        This lines up with the fact Paul knows Jesus’ mind on sexuality for he then distinguishes between Jesus’ instruction and his own personal advice on marriage (‘The Lord says …and I say…1Cor 7:10…)

        If there were a new, authoritative revelation on homosexuality then not only Paul but the other apostles would have said so. But the first Church Council insisted Gentiles abstain from ALL sexual immorality (they must have been familiar with Grecian ways, which is why Paul refers to them in Romans1).

        So there’s no exegetical or historical support for supposition on sexuality. Yes, the Greek Lexicon has porneia as just general immorality/idolatry, but in the biblical lexicon of Greek it logically includes the whole gamut on non-marital sex. Otherwise, your argument should logically be extended to say Jesus said incest and bestiality are ok, shouldn’t it?

    • No! The story about the woman in adultery was about Jesus responding to pharisees who were trying to trick him by misapplying OT Law. Acts 26:20 tells how Paul taught “that they should repent and turn to God, and show their repentance by their deeds.” To claim to accept Christ’s forgiveness, but carry on sinning, suggests there was no genuine heart-change, and that such a person is not saved. “How can we, who died to sin still live in it? (Romans 6:2) Yes, no-one is perfect this side of heaven and even the most sanctified Christian still sins…. BUT, to say homosexuality is OK, when Jesus said marriage is between one man/one woman and even LOOKING lustfully is a sin, shows a person has NO INTENTION OF battling sin. That’s the difference…
      Jesus DOES condemn those who reject Him: Matt 7:23, Jn 3:18,36

      • Joe: If that’s true then it’s very sad. But we haven’t really got much choice than to to take people at face value on-line, that’s the nature of the medium.

      • Helen, I’m sorry if I’ve upset you. All I meant, really, was that I think the conversation will be more constructive if we try to be less confrontational and more compassionate. That doesn’t mean we have to agree about everything …

      • Joe, you haven’t upset me at all! I agree 100% with your desire to be compassionate. But that does not mean compromise: Those who have been sold the very modern lie that homosexuality is OK need to be told it’s wrong according to the bible. There is no nice way to do that in the eyes of people who love the right to sin, more than they want to follow Christ.

      • Dear Richard, thank you for your concern, but I am not in fact puzzled about what Jesus said. I am, though, rather puzzled about your references to Revelations 3 (I think you mean 2). Although chapter 2 mentions “porneusai”, which is generally translated as “committing sexual immorality” (or “committing fornication”), there is no definition of what sexual immorality is – except that it is in the context of idol worship. There is certainly no indication that these texts refer to same-sex relations per se – nor is there any indication that they are not referring to such relations (among other things). So these texts rather beg the question, and I repeat that there is no biblical record that Jesus said anything specific about homosexuality.

        Discipleship and ethics: There I must admit you’ve lost me. Matters of belief are doctrine. Matters of behaviour are ethics. My personal relationship to Jesus, in which I strive to live out doctrine and ethics according to my best understanding of scripture, is discipleship. I don’t really see how that affects the argument, except to say that it is one thing to speak pastorally to specific individuals or congregations (as in Revelations), and another to discuss a subject in the abstract.

        At the risk of being boring, I can only repeat that my intention was not to defend or refute any particular view on this topic, although the Salvation Army’s position on this is quite clear. I just wanted to stress that this is a sensitive issue which should be discussed with great care. We should be listening as much and perhaps more than we are talking. We should look honestly at “what the Bible says” – because (as in Revelations 2) it is not always as clear as we would like it to be. And so – as long as people reading the same Bible come to different conclusions – any difference in our understanding of what may or may not be plainly stated in scripture is probably not telling us much about the state of anyone’s soul.

        God bless you: Be a blessing.

        Paul

      • Thanks Paul and for taking time to reply and my apologies for delay but it’s hectic couple of days with a lot to blog and am about to be away. So I’d like to reply fully to 1st para next week as the Lord has drawn my attention to certain points on this.

        HA, yes it’s Rev 2 but whilst checking verses must have subliminally taken in the huge figure 3 in adjacent column. Agree 100% with your final para and wish to respond briefly on your 2nd.

        I was thinking on my feet about ethics and sorry to have been unclear. From understanding of psychology all behaviour is learned and is dependant upon our values, which in turn depend upon our mental-emotional matrix. I think you may agreed the last would inform one’s personal belief system. But we both appreciate our relationship with Jesus is the overriding factor when we’re born-again. Therefore, one’s discipleship would be the central and radiating informer and motivator of all our beliefs > values > ethics > behaviour.

        Hence, my objection to your remark about this topic being a matter of ethics whereas it’s really a core issue of obedience and, thus, discipleship. Am thinking out loud here and open to re-appraisal.

      • Oops, my apologies Paul but reply went on thread used for Tim and a correction’s needed: ‘”…interpret ‘then and now’.” should read “…interpret ‘there and then’.” That is, we can’t suppose modern thinking enables us to understand how people, especially believers, thought 2,000 years ago!

      • Dear Paul, having looked at the exegetical aspect your paras 1 & 3 and, if you have time, let’s move from theoretical juggling to the actual practicalities of Jesus’ remarks to all believers in Rev 2:18-29. In view of most Christians’ unfamiliarity with the full range of ‘spirituals’, it’s not easy to grasp the depth of that iniquity. It was more than idolatry and sexual immorality, which you posit has nothing to do with homosexuality. But what was going on was bad enough for Jesus to have given an especially severe warning against it.

        The clue lies in ‘Jezebel’, used ‘symbolically for a false prophetess’ (Hayford et al), or a code name (Guthrie et al), alluding to not just the historical wife of king Ahab but also to the demonic spirit that possessed her. Practitioners of deliverance recognise the nature of its domain and specific activities in subverting God’s purposes by perverting humanity. This enslavement is achieved principally through deception, sorcery, ungodly sexuality and false religion/prophecy – ie. ‘depths of satan’ (v 24). I’m sure you know, any combination of those practices is sufficient to imperil us.

        Imho, it’s wiser therefore, not to repeat the serpent’s beguiling “Did God (really) say…” in the form of, “Jesus did not say…”. We already possess the best instructions to enable us to make a wise choice.

        May the Lord bless us all with deep revelation about this matter.

  12. I am highly perturbed that EA managed to hold together on eternal conscious torment v annihilation, but can’t on this.

  13. To be honest I think this is one of your less successful articles. The attempt to criticise the EA while trying to avoid blaming them doesn’t work for me. I think what they have done is something that one either agrees or disagrees with – and it seems to me that you can’t make up your mind where you stand on that, to the point where, in the comments above, you end up saying that it’s actually Oasis’ fault for somehow making the EA do it to them.
    In reality this may be as distressing as you suggest, but it was also inevitable, because the EA has been a conservative evangelical organisation for as long as I can remember – just like any other evangelical organisation, it represents a particular constituency within the wider evangelical spectrum. The idea that all evangelicals speak with one voice, and that anyone who demurs is simply struck off the list, hasn’t been the case for at least 20 years, probably longer.

    • Thanks Charlie for the constructive criticism! I am very happy to accept it from you. The difficulty for me here has been tying two narratives together in one blog post and trying to remain coherent at the same time. I may not have been entirely successful in getting my thoughts over. Both Oasis and the EA have stuck to their guns and been at least a little bit less gracious than they could have been in this situation. So I am criticising both and blaming both without attempting to dismiss two organisations that I have a great deal of admiration for.

      In my opinion it is right that the EA have challenged Oasis over this. Steve Chalke is also a Baptist minister and has chosen to deviate from that which is required from Baptist ministers in a public way. His challenging contributions to theological debate have upset plenty of people. He has called for an open debate, but Oasis acting as his shop window have provided one particular view in a more overt way that does not give the impression that Chalke is really seeking an open debate. His mind is made up on this. However the seriousness of the situation is not sufficient to warrant the actions the EA have taken. By doing so, they have made an aggravation into a more difficult situation that will lead some to question whether they can continue to align themselves with the EA.

      It really isn’t black and white and I don’t claim to have the final word on this, but hopefully this clarifies my position and thinking a little.

      • Yes, it does greatly clarify. I still think you are being unfair to Steve Chalke though, albeit understandably since you disagree with his views. But to say that he shouldn’t publicise his theological opinions through Oasis is unrealistic – since it is effectively his personal foundation, and I notice that his church is actually called “Oasis Church” now. The views of leader, church, and organisation are effectively the same. I can’t imagine any of his opponents who are church leaders saying that they would not post their own views on a church website.

        • Glad that helped a bit! I don’t have a problem with Oasis publishing theological opinions, but given the nature of what they do (academies, homeless shelters), it’s hard to see how this fits in with their work, unless the organisation sees part of its mission as to challenge theological thinking on a national and international scale. If that is the case it needs to be owned by the organisation beyond just Steve’s personal views. So if the EA are correct when they say that Oasis have ‘no corporate view on this matter’, then it doesn’t obviously match up with the nature of what they are promoting on the website. It seems very clear that corporately they do. A little more clarity would be helpful.

  14. “Do you not know that wrongdoers will not inherit the kingdom of God? Do not be deceived! Fornicators, idolaters, adulterers, male prostitutes, sodomites, 10 thieves, the greedy, drunkards, revilers, robbers—none of these will inherit the kingdom of God. 11 And this is what some of you used to be. But you were washed, you were sanctified, you were justified in the name of the Lord Jesus Christ and in the Spirit of our God.” 1 Cor 6:9-11

    If this passage means what conservatives believe it does, then the legitimacy of gay sex IS a primary issue, and it’s hard to consider what is one if it isn’t. Now I quite accept that the conservative interpretation is widely rejected, but it exists. For those who accept it, the logic is entirely self consistent, and to express surprise slows a disappointing lack of understanding of your sisters and brothers.

  15. And once again the church fiddles while rome burns!!!!!

  16. The EA say that they speak for ‘the’ 2 million evangelical Christians in the UK.

    This statement cannot go unchallenged. At best it is lazy and at worst it is disingenuous.

    From their own stats of 20k individual members and 3500 churches they can only truly represent around 350k. There last questionnaire suggested that 27% had either a different view than their stand on this issue or were ‘unsure’.

    For more details check out

    http://evangelicalmorphodoxy.blogspot.co.uk/2014/05/exclusion-is-powerful-way-to-silence.html?showComment=1399187299433

    • No – you’re missing the point

      The fact that Evangelicals aren’t actually members as a result of being personal members or members of member churches doesn’t mean that they don’t exist. When the Muslim council of Great Britain claims to speak ‘on behalf of British muslims’, it’s not merely pointing at the people who are its members. When the TUC claims to speak on behalf of the ‘workers of Britain’, they aren’t just referring to their members. So when the EA claims to be speaking for ‘Evangelicals’. it is equally legitimately claiming to speak on behalf of the many Evangelicals who are otherwise invisible, members of non-Evangelical churches or denominations.

      The alternative is for all such organisations, such as churches, to speak only behalf of their paid up members. At 1m and falling, the CofE would lose any credibility etc etc.

      I know that it annoys the libruls to have their noses rubbed in it, but the reality is that almost all their denominations ALL started as far more Evangelical than they are. That they have chosen to claim the mantle of those Evangelicals but eschew their beliefs remains, for me, a deep disgrace. If you want to propound universalism, feel free to do do from a universalist church; don’t steal the buildings paid for by non-universalists to do it etc etc. I’m sure the unitarians would be happy to welcome you – shame they won’t keep you in the style to which you have become accustomed.

      • That is a poor argument. A union will not represent me if I am not a member. If it tried to suggest that it represented ‘all’ healthcare workers the government and press would call it into account.

        In addition the EA doesn’t have my permission to represent me and my views without some level of dialogue.

        They have used the phrase to make their voice sound louder and more unanimous when it is clearly not a complete representation of evangelicals.

  17. Steve Chalke crossed the line years ago with his ”finding” the ”lost” message of Jesus. This is just old re hashed heresy in modern day language. As Enders Shadow says, by all means argue what you like but do not call yourself an evangelical. All the EA is doing is stating what every one knows – Chalke has crossed the Rubicon. He knows it, we know it and the wider secular world know it. Of course he can get succour in todays liberal society; he will get plaudits aplenty from many. But he has left the fold and is not a pioneer, rather a tired old heretic.

    • I think chalke began to change when he became a tv rev personality. You are right. He has left the fold judging by his comments and books over the last ten years. There is also his developing, close association with Rob Bell and Brian Mclaren which is a cause for concern.

  18. How young Christians today have come to deny Christ through their views on homosexuality: http://www.lighthousetrailsresearch.com/blog/?p=15413

  19. The message from EA is very loud and very clear; anybody except gays and their allies are welcome. And some Christians are still puzzled by why the prospect of going to church again makes me very very nervous

    • Appreciate your remark as I was once an anti-Christian outsider in church. Suggest your being alert for churches where God’s glory and presence are welcome, for you should find everyone’s welcome too. He ditches our junk and cleans us up in a really personal way for the sake of our eternal salvation.

      When I came to a personal faith, folk probably thought me ‘alien’, having been deep in the occult – some couldn’t get a handle on where I’d been and what I’d seen. (An attempt was made to suppress my baptismal testimony because of its content! Brief story at http://wp.me/p1Y1yB-aW )

      May I suggest something I found most helpful? The fact we are warmly welcome to turn to Jesus and hear direct from Him and Father. I was shown specific scriptures direct to help me understand, to get cleaned up and was also put into a Baptist that gave me solid scriptural grounding. Father has a great sense of humour – I’d vowed I wouldn’t touch Baptists with a barge pole ‘cos they’re such biblical bigots!!

      Btw, you express yourself well on your blog.

  20. The Word of God tells us that no prophecy is of private interpretation. Therefore it doesn’t matter what OUR thoughts on any subject are, all that matters is what GOD says. On the subject of homosexuality, He is abundantly clear. In Genesis 19, just before He destroys Sodom and Gomorrah because of their rampant homosexuality, He speaks of the ‘grievous sin’ of those cities. In Exodus 18, He calls homosexuality an ‘abomination’ and commanded the death penalty for it in Exodus 20. He classifies homosexuality in the same verses as bestiality. He throughout the Old Testament refers to homosexuality as perversion, and says that no perverted person should be among His people. in the New Testament He calls homosexuality ‘unclean ness’, ‘shameful’, ‘unnatural lust’, ‘vile affections’ (Romans 1), and states that He gives a people over to homosexuality as a judgement because of their rejection of Him and their resulting ungodliness. In 1 Corinthians 6:9, He clearly says that no homosexual offender shall inherit the Kingdom of God, as has already been quoted. Other passages talk of homosexuality as ‘unclean ness’, and in Jude 7, He says that Sodom and Gomorrah serve as an example of ‘the suffering of the vengeance of eternal fire’, because of their ‘going after strange flesh’. This is not my opinion or ‘interpretation’, it is GOD’s. We argue about this at our peril. God IS Love but He is also Righteous and Holy and He judges sin. A tree is known by its fruit. Those who rebel against God in this show that they are not His Children. He says ‘If you love Me, you will keep My commandments’. This IS a major issue. It is NOT either loving or kind to cave in to political correctness or false claims of ‘homophobia’. That word is just used to silence the truth. People need to repent of this sin, just as they need to repent of adultery, child abuse, rape, incest or any other sexual sin. God says that if we repent of our sins He is faithful and just to forgive our sins and purify us from all unrighteousness.

    • Hi Moira you raise some of the very challenging verses that all of us need to consider and understand. However as with others who have responded, the risk is that we beat our chests on the verses we are most comfortable with and ignore others at our peril. At the heart of the Bible, let alone the Gospel is the need for unity between men and women who call Jesus Lord and follow him. The extent to which we follow him faithfully by our own standards, let alone by the standards of others is of course a matter of challenge. I would suggest that the breakdown in relationship between Steve Chalke and the charity he is associated with and many people who call themselves evangelical is possibly a much greater problem than some of the issues you have referred to. That breakdown has been going on for about 20 years and is largely down to Steves own passion for the lost and the poor and needy and a willingness for many evangelicals to reject the 19th Century roots of the modern evangelical movement and argue about a social Gospel as being a substandard or even fake Gospel. Its hard to believe that now with foodbanks and Street Pastors etc, but things have changed dramatically. It is also partly as a result of Steves impatience and frustration with others that have led him to work in an isolationist manner. You mention Sodom and Gomorrah and of course Ezekiel has a particular take on this “She and her daughters were arrogant, overfed and unconcerned; they did not help the poor and needy. They were haughty and did detestable things before me.” If we were a bit more focused on our own arrogance, greed and attitude towards the poor and needy we might be closer to our Lord than many of us are. Whilst I accept that there are some false claims of Homophobia, sadly there are and have been far too many genuine ones, and that is a cause for repentance!

      • Hi,

        I believe for all of us, our main privilege is to be loved by the Trinity. When as you say that Steve’s frustration or impatience may have led to the dissonance between his org and himself, he is alone responsible before the lord for the line has has drawn.

        As for private interpretations of scripture, ask your self this, what other commands do we want to accept in the church today that Leviticus 20 says we should not do. Why do we just say that homosexuality is ok now, why not bestiality, incest? How narrow minded are we?

        The church will be split on this issue, and I think it will be a terrible day for any Christian, especially a Pastor or Elder, to stand before the Lord, when they have encouraged people to believe that practicing homosexuals will be accepted into the Kingdom. These people will be in Hell. Any ongoing unrepentant sin, be it lying, stealing, gossiping, excludes us from the Kingdom.

        Tim

      • Hi there Tim, I was not suggesting that Steve Chalke is not responsible for his actions, indeed the opposite of that. However to the best of my knowledge there is no dissonance between Oasis and Steve. I think that all of us are responsible for the way we interpret scriptures, don’t you? That is the basis on which we are accepted by Jesus. I am not sure why you think any of us including Pastors or Elders have any role in determining who is accepted into the Kingdom. That surely is a responsibility none of us could bear. The man who died next to Jesus was one of the few people in history who was personally and publicly told he would be accepted into the Kingdom and we know he was judged to have failed by the standards of his society. The rest of us have only faith to rely on along with the way we treat people irrespective of their background, beliefs and including their sexuality.

  21. Hi,

    I am not saying that the Pastors or Elders decide who is in the kingdom, the word of God I believe is clear on who is in and who is out of the KIngdom. But as teachers and Elders we have a greater degree of accountability to our Father.

    Jesus came full or Grace and Truth, not just one of them. Many individual congregations and ministries have joined the “gay” bandwagon and saying that this practice is acceptable to God. It is not and Christians who believe this are deceived. This is obvious. If homosexuality is in, why not incest, bestiality, etc….

    The church has to asks itself, why does it care what society thinks about the church. Pure love walked the earth in Jesus and he was more concerned about living out the revelation of His Father than what people thought of Him. I am not responsible what people think about me, this is their responsibility, it is their feelings.

    How sad for us as the body of Christ to be even remotely concerned what others think, I am growing to focus on my Father and receiving His love and manifesting this to others.

    Peace

    Tim

    • Tim, If by word of God you refer to the Bible, then of course you are wrong. It is the Word of God who will judge and determine who is in and out of the Kingdom. We are commanded to follow him and in doing so some of us will make mistakes and some others will make huge mistakes. However it is a massive mistake, indeed heresy for any congregation, ministry or individual to suggest they know who is included or excluded from the love of God and his Kingdom. On that you and I agree.

      • Hi Ian, sorry I had a few household errands to take care of. No I mean Jesus as the Word of God. I think it’s obvious that our closet friends that we really know we are able to know if they really are following Jesus. Following Jesus is abiding in Him, not doing things. But you are correct, I have no idea of most people who really in their heart have a dynamic Holy Spirit filled life living through Christ. Look at the life of Lonnie Frisbee in the early days of Vineyard Church, amazing anointing but wrestled with homosexuality and left the life of following Christ, but repented before he died

        I work with men with sexual addiction and helping men work through homosexual attraction. I have seen men who have been in the Church their entire life and have no clue what it means to truly surrender to The Father, I didn’t for 20 years. I don’t consider myself saved during those twenty years.

        Most Christians follow Jesus or try with their mind, that is not salvation. Jesus comes into our heart and when we walk with him as Ezekiel 36:26-27 says he will cause us to walk in his ways.

        Jesus wants us to live through him. 1 john 4:9, not for him.

        This is what I think saved is:

        Bless you.

        Tim

  22. It is very sad Steve Chalke has left the fold. Of coursr if he says he is a Christian, that is God’s work to judge him. Who of any of us has not sinned? However Chalke is a leader and he should know better. He has become a wolf in sheep’s clothing and he needs to repent otherwise he does the devil’s work and God will indeed judge him for leading Christian’s astray. Also, this homophobia thing. Yes we must not be unkind to sinners, after all I am a sinner, we all are. But sin is sin. Let us call it that. Homosexuality is sin. It something that must be repented of and fled from, otherwise that person risks the eternal fires of hell.

    • David, homophobia is not simply about being unkind, any more than racism or indeed prejudice towards other people is a lack of kindness. At its most extreme it is the sort of thing that we see in places like Westborough where people who claim to be Christians walk around with placards and speak in a violent manner towards people who they probably don’t know but who they appear to despise. It can even lead to violent actions and in some cases murder. Many of my gay and lesbian friends have personally experienced being beaten up, spat at and getting called names. Some of this has been done by people who claim to be Christians, and might even be active members of local churches when they are not expressing hatred towards people who God has created. All of us have a great deal to learn about treating people like Jesus wants us to.

  23. Beyond sad to see so many people who should know better condemning LGBTI people as sinners and lost causes. Dear friends, you know so little, neither the Scriptures nor the power and love of God. I look forward to an eternity surrounded by all who seek to follow Jesus, straight, gay or in between; and God, who is love, whose infinite mercy knows no bounds, will surround us with that love.

    Dear LGBTI friends following this comments thread, do not despair: these voices condemning you are not the voice of Jesus, the living Word of God.

  24. For all the word trickery, sin is sin. It needs repenting from. Whatever behaviours are contrary to God’s word, need turning away from. Homosexuality is sin. We cannot change Scripture and it’s commonly held meaning and then expect God to understand. Situational ethics are not scrptural ethics and the issue in our day is that of idolatory; from that comes all sorts of sins, as Paul outlines very clearly in the book of Romans. I suppose the Apostle Paul was homophobic? It is easy to accept the flow of todays thinking, sometimes you have to swim against the prevailing currents, only dead fish ”go with the flow.”

    • Hi David, I agree we all need to repent from our sinful acts and thoughts. However I think you will find that Scripture itself and indeed its commonly held meaning has changed substantially since Wycliffe first produced an English language version and as subsequent original texts were discovered. However I appreciate that it is not ours to change just for our own convenience or to suit societal change. The big problem is that throughout the 650 years since Wycliffe, the Church of the day has used the text to justify all sorts of things that subsequently we have rejected. I don’t think Paul was at all Homophobic, but he would certainly have understood prejudice as being more than a lack of kindness!

  25. But Phil, the Bible clearly says that no homosexual offender can inherit the Kingdom of God. That means a practicing homosexual is NOT a Christian- as much as they would claim that they are; just as a practicing paedophile is not a Christian; or an unrepentant murderer etc. As has been said sin is sin and sin separates us from God. Yes, of course we all sin unintentionally because we are human, but if we belong to Him we are forgiven by the cleansing blood of Jesus. if we confess our sins He is faithful and just to forgive us our sins and to cleanse us from all unrighteousness. But if we continue in a particular sin- it shows that we neither know Him nor love Him. 1 John chapters 1-3 speak about this. 1 Corinthians 6:9.10 make it clear that some of the believers USED to commit the sins mentioned in the list – but are now washed and cleansed of these sins – and have ceased the practice of them. If a person continues in ongoing sin, he has not repented. Hebrews 10: 26-31 speaks about the fate of those who have called themselves Christians, who have ‘known’ the truth, but keep on wilfully sinning; V 29 says that people who do this are trampling the Son of God under foot, and despising the Spirit of Grace. This is no trifling matter- and it is not a case of being ‘unloving’ or ‘unkind’- because it is God’s Word – not ours; and the Word of God says that it is the kindness of God that leads to REPENTANCE. he does that through convicting us of our sin. God does not and will not condone or overlook sin. In Luke 13:3, Jesus warns us: I tell you……. except ye repent, ye shall all likewise perish.

    The Bible clearly tells us that in the Last Days, there will be great deception and falling away from the Truth:

    “Take heed that no one deceives you” (Matt. 24:4);

    “For the time will come when they will not endure sound doctrine; but after their own lusts shall they heap to themselves teachers, having itching ears; And they shall turn away their ears from the truth, and shall be turned unto fables.” 2 Timothy 4:3-4

    Jude 3 …….. I found it necessary to write to you exhorting you to contend earnestly for the faith which was once for all delivered to the saints. 4 For certain men have crept in unnoticed, who long ago were marked out for this condemnation, ungodly men, who turn the grace of our God into lewdness and deny the only Lord God and our Lord Jesus Christ.

    Galatians 1:6-9 “6 I marvel that you are turning away so soon from Him who called you in the grace of Christ, to a different gospel, 7 which is not another; but there are some who trouble you and want to pervert the gospel of Christ. 8 But even if we, or an angel from heaven, preach any other gospel to you than what we have preached to you, let him be accursed. 9 As we have said before, so now I say again, if anyone preaches any other gospel to you than what you have received, let him be accursed.”

    And we are told: “And have no fellowship with the unfruitful works of darkness, but rather reprove them”. Ephesians 5:11

    ……..”Lest Satan should get an advantage of us: for we are not ignorant of his devices”. 2 Corinthians 2:11

  26. Much of the debate about Steve Chalke, is around whether he is an evangelical or not. This can be disputed of course, as whether or not he is a Christian is for God to know; he looks into our hearts. This discussion below, see link, is useful.

    Chalke does not show the classic marks of evangelicalism. He is a post modern evangelical if you will. As Moira’s comments point out and quotes from the Bible. If Paul is not a homophobe, then neither are many Christians who welcome the sinner but reject the sin.

    As Paul outlines in Romans, the fundamental issue of sinful mankind is idolatory and part of that idolatory is sexual sin, which doe matter to God. He calls us to repent of the dark deeds we naturally wish to live in and walk in the light; throwing away the deeds of darkness.

    http://theweeflea.wordpress.com/2014/03/27/crossing-the-chalke-line-steve-chalkes-sad-departure-from-evangelicalism/

    • What a pile of nonsense. People have used the words of Christ and Paul for Centuries to justify their Prejudice including Homophobia and Anti Semitism. That does not implicate either man in our sinfulness, but we cannot claim their clear conscience as our own, just because we are using their words. I think trying to define classic evangelicalism is that there have been many historical periods. Are you talking about the post Reformation evangelicalism or the mid 19th Century evangelicalism or the mid 20th Century evangelicalism. There are 7 ways of defining evangelicalism according to at least one author.

  27. The historian David Bebbington has identified four marks of evangelicalism, Biblicism, crucicentrism, conversionism and activism. Whether or not any Christian leader can be described as an evangelical could be checked by over laying the above criteria on that particular person/s.

    Also if some wish to look at Biblical sources, Paul’s treatise in Romans Chapter 1: 8 to 32 is a classic, see the link below.

    Once a balanced look at this section is viewed, it becomes clear what Paul the Apostle is saying about idolatory. But it must be seen in that context and , in fact, covers many areas of human behaviour including homosexuality.

    http://www.str.org/articles/romans-1-on-homosexuality#.U3BzDYFdWSr

    • David, if you want to write about idolatory or even homosexuality feel free to do so. I have no desire to debate with you on these matters. I would however point out that as with all of the Epistles, Romans was written to a church in a locality in a historical context. I have no idea where you live. I live in Brighton, I know that if Paul was writing to the Church in Brighton today, his Brighton & Hove epistle would be very different to his Liverpool Epistle or his Birmingham Epistle. Idolatory was a huge problem in the 0060’s in Rome, there is idolatory in the UK today including in the Church. In the 1970’s the Church used Romans to question if football was the nations idolatory, then it was materialism, some like you have done are focusing on sexualisation of society. However only the Holy Spirit can know what Gods priority is for us to focus our attention on.

      • “[O]nly the Holy Spirit can know what God’s priority is for us to focus our attention on.”

        And there, ladies and gentlemen, boys and girls, we have it. If the church is to be ‘prophetic’ about ANYTHING, then it is claiming to speak on behalf of God. If pastor A chooses to ‘speak prophetically’ on poverty, whilst pastor B chooses to ‘speak prophetically’ on sexuality, we are instructed ‘ Do not despise the words of prophets, but test everything; hold fast to what is good.’ (1 Thess 5:20,21)

        It can well be argued that both pastors are being genuinely prophetic. Or maybe neither. But to claim that one is, but not the other – which is at the core of the liberal argument much of the time – is… ambitious if not hypocritical, especially if you believe ‘only the Holy Spirit can know what God’s priority is for us to focus our attention on.’

  28. “is this division….worth the cost?” The short answer is yes. Although I fully accept the need to be gracious and not adopt a “stone throwing” mentality, the Word of God is crystal clear on this issue in Romans 1 v 26-28 and 1st Cor. 6 v 9-11. The EA are perfectly right to ask members to abide by this teaching. If the EA did not take this stand then they cease to be Evangelical.

    • I defy anyone to read Romans 1:18-32 and try and contextualise it to a specific time, this is a major doctrinal position that Paul is making about idolatory. This is for the church universal at all times in all places and in all contexts. It is not a particularistic interpretation as one might conceive it to be, say for something that is not idolatorous but perhaps contentious e.g. I would say the male/female ministry is a case in point here. One can, I think, argue cogently for female leadership ministry or indeed against female leadership ministry in the church. The jury can be out on this one. IMHO.

      You cannot take the Greek meanings here and twist them in any other way. Paul makes it abundantly clear. For example. See the explanation of Romans 1: 26 & 27. there is absolutely no wriggle room here and Steve Chalke et al twists and perverts Scripture by so doing. He is a wolf in sheep’s clothing and Paul would have a very special denunciation for this sweet talking man, who leads the Church astray by his heretical statements.

      Romans Chapter 1:26-27 says: “For this reason God gave them over to degrading passions; for their women exchanged the natural function for that which is unnatural, and in the same way also the men abandoned the natural function of the woman and burned in their desire toward one another…”

      “Function” v 26&27 in Greek is kreesis, is used only these two times in NT but is frequently used in other literature of the time.

      According to Bauer, Arndt and Gingrich (BAG), A Greek/English Lexicon of the New Testament and Other Early Christian Literature (University of Chicago Press), the definitive Greek language standard reference work, the word means: “use, relations, function, especially of sexual intercourse.”

      Paul is not talking about natural desires here in this instance, but natural functions. “Natural” is not determined by what you want sexually, but by how you function sexually. The body was built to function a specific way. Men were not built to function sexually with men. Natural desires go with natural functions. The passion that exchanges the natural function of sex for the unnatural function is what Paul calls a degrading passion.

      • Reply to David Alan:

        With regards to Mr Chalke – my heart is heavy as I remember just how sound he used to be, and how far he has fallen. In the late 1970s he used to come to my then church in Sheerness, Kent, to preach and he was outstanding. However, over the years he has departed from the Word of God on a number of serious issues and it is a warning to all of us.

        Regards

        Bob

  29. Gillan, how this apparently fruitless topic provokes debate, and I’m not sure it serves this blog well, my friend.

    Some contributors are ‘missing the mark’ in my view, which is based upon solid teaching from a dozen aspects across the Catholic to Brethren spectrum, plus practical experience in prophecy, healing and deliverance. Your Anglican perspective is the only place I’ve encountered questionable views of Biblical issues, but I know clergy who are deeply concerned for the CoE because of visions received (which they’d related to highest level).

    Nevertheless, it’s important to be aware not only of various opinions but also any division across the wider church. This is only to be expected in view of the great apostasy foretold in 2 Thess 2:3 – increasing ‘falling away’ from true faith in Jesus Christ, who asked if there’d be any left by the time He returns. These are the days men refuse to put up with sound doctrine” (2 Tim 4). Steve Chalke is only one example and, as with unhappy Judas, has chosen how to fit into God’s pre-recorded purposes. But God’s kindness, tolerance and patience will, hopefully, lead into repentance.

    In the essence of evangelical ideals Gillan, you refer to ‘unending grace’. But grace teaches us all to say “No” to ungodliness and worldly lusts and to live righteously. Jesus redeemed us FROM (not ‘in’!) all wickedness to (note well) purify for Himself a people that are His own, eager to do what is good (Titus 2:11-14). Those verses continue, “These…are things you should teach, encourage and rebuke with all authority.” Several others, the ladies being noteworthy, have thus admirably attempted to train in righteousness, just like Timothy was admonished in the use of holy scriptures.

    Please never assume “Once saved, always saved”! That doesn’t hold because we need to ‘work out our salvation in fear and trembling’ (Phil 2:12) through obedience to Him with the desire and ability to do what pleases Him. For, when we love Jesus then we will obey his instructions and He and our Father will make their home with us. So “Maranatha”, come Lord Jesus.

  30. There is a very clear warning in Scripture about wolves in sheep’s clothing. There can be no more precious doctrine than that of Jesus’ death on the cross; Jesus took the sin of the world upon himself, it was a substitution; we should have died, but God laid upon him the sins of fallen human beings. God’s anger and wrath were satisfied, justice was settled eternally. God did put him there to save all who believe on Jesus and the power of the blood. The theme of God sending his son to die in our place, runs throughout the Bible and Chalke took a well aimed kick at the fundamentals when he came out with his vile book ”The Lost message of Jesus.” It was not lost – it was never there in the first place. TV and media are replete with folk ”debunking” history, for example The Vikings, being peaceable traders who were as apt to settle and trade as they were to rape and pillage. Any academic or wannabe media junkie can ”debunk” and it requires little effort. However, the cross and the place of God’s son Jesus on that cross is utterly central and key; it is salvation history. It cannot be debunked and no ”lost” message can ever be discerned – it was never in existence. Chalke’s next well aimed kick at God’s plan for stability in this world – the family, has now become evident. The Apostle Paul would fight energetically against such vile and insidious heresy.

    • The teaching and tradition of the church is clear. Homosexuality is unacceptable for Christian believers. There cannot be room to change that and Paul’s letters are not an exercise in situational ethics. They are the Spirit filled eternal words of God. If anyone wants to look at the Biblical texts this is as good a place to start….

      http://www.charismanews.com/opinion/43977-the-apostle-paul-and-homosexuality-answering-homosexual-objections-part-1

      Dave Alan

      • Whilst I agree with your conclusions, the use of the proof texts is insufficient to prove the point. You have to start rather with a fuller understanding of the nature of God’s gift of sexuality. This is clearly taught in the creation and retaught by Jesus’ use of the passage about a man leaving his parents and being joined to his wife. There is also the complementarity of roles explicit in a marriage, and the way that this is reflective of the relationship of Jesus and the church. The implication of claims that male and male or female and female can form a marriage is to claim that the creator is interchangable with the creation. In that context gay relationships and especially gay marriage are shown up as the blasphemy and rebellion against God that they are.

        Of course it’s rough, VERY rough, on gay Christians seeking to live celibate lives in this sex obsessed culture. But to argue that celibacy is an impossible demand is surely inconceivable. For personal testimonies in the area, http://www.livingout.org/ is a good resource.

      • ES – I found the website you flagged up very interesting. When I get the bandwidth to watch all of it I shall. Challenging and interesting. Thanks.

        • Yes, the voice of the homosexual Christians who have chosen to live celibately is the voice that is usually unheard in this debate. It’s good that a group has now put its head over the parapet on the issue, and I hope more will be willing to take the flak that doing so will generate; sadly they can expect to be VERY unpopular because they reveal that there is an alternative…

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Trackbacks

  1. Sexuality: can’t Evangelicals just agree to disagree? | Phill Sacre
  2. Yep, the time’s now – May 2014 | Richard's Watch
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