Thursday, 17 January 2013

Why Steve Chalke is mistaken and the liberality of liberals cannot be trusted

(This article needs to be read in conjunction with my earlier post here.)
It was in the period immediately after the 20th November defeat of the Measure to introduce women bishops in the Church of England that I had something of an epiphany.
During this time, I was trying to fathom out what possible good could come of the whole situation. One thing, I concluded, was an outbreak of honesty. Before the vote, there were many people telling the ‘traditionalists’ that they were ‘valued’, that they should be ‘enabled to flourish’, ‘respect’ and so on.
You may, for example, have seen the videos on the website of the Archbishop of Canterbury himself to this effect. We were all going to ‘journey together’ into the future, and so on.
Unfortunately, when the vote went the ‘wrong’ way, what we saw was not an acknowledgement that the flourishing of traditionalists would have to be sought another way, but an outbreak of something little short of rage and the heaping of opprobrium on those, especially those evangelicals, who had dared to mess things up.
The vote of ‘no confidence’ in Philip Giddings, the chair of the House of Laity, is just one example. Another is the member of the House of Laity who wrote that the doctrine of ‘headship’, which lies at the heart of the evangelical objection,
... is to be seen alongside a number of similar major historical issues where prejudice and discrimination have been justified by selected biblical references. These include slavery, national socialism, apartheid and ethnic cleansing. Male headship has its roots in the same soil of prejudice and discrimination. (Gavin Oldham, email to members of the House of Laity)
Would that he had been so clear in his understanding in the run up to the vote! But then if he had, it might presumably have added to the pressure to vote against the Measure.
Yet such sentiments led to my epiphany, which was the realization that whereas I regard supporters of the ordination and consecration of women as largely mistaken, they regard me, and those who share my views, as immoral.
And immorality in the Church is something which cannot be tolerated.
This is why we must also be so cautious when someone like Steve Chalke (and there are many like Steve Chalke) suggests that his views in favour of accepting same-sex practice and the position of those who are opposed can both coexist. In his own words, which I have quoted here, he says that,
Amongst the hallmarks of any and every healthy community must be the ability for reasoned and gracious debate, a willingness to listen to others, an openness to change and a respect for diversity. I write this paper in that spirit, recognising that various friends and leaders whom I respect have views which differ from mine.
So here we have a ‘Rodney King’ approach, with a plea for us all to ‘get along’ despite our differences. And would that we could!
But elsewhere Chalke is quoted saying that the result of the traditionalist view is that “those who seek to enter an exclusive, same-sex relationship have found themselves stigmatised and excluded by the Church”, adding that “this is an injustice and out of step with God’s character as seen through Christ.”
And here is the problem, for injustice, like immorality, cannot be tolerated – or at least, not if we can do anything about it. And Chalke has concluded that we can – indeed public legislation is already ahead of him – in affirming and blessing sexually active same-sex relationships.
Unfortunately, however, this means that despite his expressed desire that diversity should be respected, this cannot be something which ultimately he can either intend or tolerate. For surely he does not mean that there should continue to be some churches where the person in a sexually active same-sex relationship is ‘stigmatised and excluded’ in any sense? He surely does not intend that this version of Christianity should flourish alongside that which he now affirms as truly ‘in line with God’s character’?
Doubtless he genuinely hopes for a temporary truce – a period during which old friends can get along on the basis of their old friendship, even while they disagree vehemently on the nature of justice and Christian lifestyle, rather like former comrades on opposite sides in a civil war. But this cannot – or certainly, if he means what he says, ought not – to be envisaged as a permanent state of affairs.
This is the difficulty with elevating a point of view to a matter of ‘justice’. Of course some things are just such matters. But we should be careful not to attach the plea for ‘justice’ to our position, unless we recognize that by doing so we exclude the contrary view from the Christian church – as indeed we ought to exclude it from civilized society.
And this is also why, sadly, the ‘liberalism’ of liberals cannot be trusted, even when the ‘liberal’ himself affirms those who hold the contrary view. For the liberal who extends liberality to those with whom he disagrees on an issue of justice is either deceiving himself (which is perfectly possible) or seeking to deceive others.
Much to be preferred is the liberalism displayed daily on the Thinking Anglicans website. There, as the comments often make clear, the hatred for conservative evangelicals, traditionalists and other ‘low lifes’ is quite open.
Gavin Oldham’s opinion closely parallel theirs when he says that ‘headship’ “is another elitist creed which ... has no place in the Church of England, nor indeed in the Christian faith.”
Quite. And it would be foolish to think otherwise. But so many think they do. And many others are willing to believe them.
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  1. I think for too long we've played according to the rules of the Enlightenment, were there is a “neutral” ground of discourse, and assume that everyone on the table “suspend” their convictions in pursuit of the “objective truth”, and where everyone charitably assumes the “best” intentions and virtue of everyone at the table, and that if we disagree, we are not malicious, immoral or whatever, but merely mistaken (the other side of course!).

    I think such Enlightenment games are now long passed. Since the world now has left the table and thrown down the gauntlet of viewing us as the “enemy”, as in the people who are not merely epistemically wrong but morally and in terms of justice, we shouldn’t bother with the table too and throw down our gauntlet.

    I think this remark by Kierkegaard is particularly apt for this occasion for a retaliation.

    “People try to persuade us that the objections against Christianity spring from doubt. That is a complete misunderstanding. The objections against Christianity spring from insubordination, the dislike of obedience, rebellion against all authority. As a result people have hitherto been beating the air in their struggle against objections, because they have fought intellectually with doubt instead of fighting morally with rebellion.”

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  3. Enlightenment is not the enemy of Christianity or the Church. Jesus has been declared to be 'The Light that enlightens the Gentiles' That light is still burning - opening up the possibility of new and exciting revelation as to the Message of the Gospel. It should be no surprise that Jesus was crucified for his liberalisation of those on the margins of society. Those who try to prevent liberalisation might just be 'kicking against the pricks' like Paul once was.

  4. kwikanglo,
    What Jesus is saying, is not the same as the Enlightenment (although the both claim to offer light). Jesus said, "come to me..." he came to people in darkness & said "repent". Paul shows in Romans 1:18 onwards, our thinking is warped, so we aren't neutral. We look at the evidence around us & draw all the wrong conclusions (otherwise everyone just from science would have the same belief system, but we don't, because we all have very different starting points). Rather, as James puts it in 3:13-18, we need wisdom from outside, from heaven.

    In contrast the enlightenment claims we can work it all out ourselves. That's why Post-modernism (& whatever came after that we're now in), worked out we can't really do that, imploded & just makes "truth what you make it" - in an opposite reaction. But most people I meet are both, depending on what suits them at the time.

    Darren Moore

  5. Doubtless he genuinely hopes for a temporary truce [...] But this cannot – or certainly, if he means what he says, ought not – to be envisaged as a permanent state of affairs.

    I'd love to see Chalke himself respond here. I have a hunch that he would say at this point that hostility against gays is clearly out of step with God's revealed character (and therefore injustice), but that traditional teaching on same-sex activity in an otherwise loving context is not injustice--even if he himself clearly no longer holds that position. The latter, he might say, can therefore be tolerated in a spirit of open dialogue while the former can't.

    And he might well think that this can be a stable state of affairs subject to the normal ebb and flow of theological debate.

    You are now questioning whether it can possibly be permanent. My hunch is that you are right: eventually anything less than a full affirmation of faithful same-sex relationships will come to be seen as intolerable injustice by a large majority in the church including open evangelicals. No faithful Christian can possibly desire to see (perceived) injustice flourish, so the inevitable logic would indeed be the expulsion of all remaining traditionalists.

  6. You're probably right Peter.
    Although the question would be "which church?" Chalke isn't Anglican for a start. So, that will be interesting how things divide up. It's also how (I've notice on this blog too) how offended people are to be called liberal & how they want to be called evangelical, whilst rejecting most of what has traditionally made up that term.

    There is also something that comes back to logic too. Chalke (& others), RIGHTLY say, we can't exclude (in this case) gays from the church. But is anyone actually excluding such people? I'm preaching in Matthew 4:12-25 this Sunday. Jesus preaches, "Repent, the Kingdom is near" & we're told this is the fulfilment of a prophecy that he has come, "for those in darkness". In fact through the gospels (Luke especially) there is a theme of those who think they are out are in & vice versa. So, yeah, the church should be open to gay people, prostitutes, Muslims, social outcasts - you name it. Perhaps even people who repulse us (for whatever reason). But Jesus says "repent". But, if we say to ANYONE, "come" without saying, "repent", we aren't communicating the gospel to them and such a person is then doing the excluding, no matter how inclusive and friendly it may appear.

    1. Surely Jesus' call to repentance was to all within hearing to turn away from those things that were keeping them away from the Living God in order to come back into fellowship with Him.
      It wasn't 'Oy, Adam and Jake, enough of that!' It's when it becomes a personal call to repentance to a specific person for a specific sin (and for Adam and Jake it will be 'that' sin rather than all the other sins they may well have committed or be continuing to commit) that it creates difficulties. Then it becomes the decision of those 'calling to repentance' to decide which sins in which people are giving them a problem and in due church leadership style, make efforts to 'fix' the problem - by which time Adam and Jake will have had enough and decide to leave that particular church (hopefully for a local inclusive church rather than for Buddhism).

    2. Jane

      I have big problems with greed, pride and selfishness. One could say I was "born that way"..... I think it was the natural result of being an only child.

      Anyway, does the Church challenging me over this lead me to a deeper realtionship with God or send me off to Buddhism?

      By the way if I had gone of to a local inclusive church which celebrated greed pride and selfishness then I would have a better realtionship with God now? Perhaps I should try it....I can then keep my money, pride etc as these are now marks of those that are saved in the inclusive church?


    3. Sorry I missed this & I doubt, Jane, that you'll be this far back in the thread to read this now... BUT...

      Repent in the gospels comes with, Kingdom is near. Jesus is Lord, so repentance means living with Jesus as King. That means he is King of everything, my thoughts, my sex life my money. So, when he says repent, actually, it is VERY specific, which is why the rest of the Bible mentions, depending on the situatuon in hand, very specific sins, pride, laziness, or whatever it might be.

      It's not for me, or anyone to say WHAT to say people need repenting of. Nor, what they need not repent of.

  7. Peter den Haan,

    I have more hope for 'open evangelicals' than you do. I (like John) think they're mistaken about women in church leadership, but I don't think that the majority of them are going to follow Steve Chalke in at the deep end on this issue. I worship at an open evangelical/charismatic church at the moment, and the leadership there is pretty outraged at the CoE's recent statement regarding bishops in civil partnerships, never mind this stuff.

    Perhaps I'm being overly optimistic. Certainly some people will be led astray, sadly.

  8. I honestly don't know mattghg.

    I notice a deafening silence about it on the Fulcrum site. Given what they do discuss, I'd have thought this is big news. When Steve Chalke made his comments about the cross, NT Wright & some other Fulcrum folk were supportive, or saying, "chill out it's no big deal". The thing now, is IF they distance themselves they are saying that this is a bigger deal than the cross! Most of us would say that it isn't, or at the very least moral issues flow from our theological convictions.

    I don't think there will be a mass movement among open-evangelicals, but I think it will happen over time. Take a look at the names on the accepting evangelicals site (note the name... other evangelicals don't accept?). I think there will be among many open evangelicals a gradual wearing down over time. That's what this is all about here:

  9. As I see it we must openly insist that Chalke (and any with similar views) are false teachers who turn the grace of God into licence. If he is right, then we are immoral, unjust and intolerant: if we are right then he is immoral, unjust, and unloving (of both God and homosexual couples).

    There is no common ground. We have no biblical mandate to be liberally minded towards professing Christians who advocate explicit sin.

  10. John Thomsosn,

    As I see it we must openly insist that Chalke (and any with similar views) are false teachers who turn the grace of God into licence.

    Well yes, Revelation 2:20. Jesus has a sharp rebuke for those who 'tolerate' the one who misleads believers into sexual immorality.


    I am worried that nothing has been said over there. But I take encouragement from The Evangelical Alliance: not only the direct respones to Chalke, but also the fact that they are standing by their Biblical and pastoral responses to homosexuality.

  11. Darren,
    Fulcrum have now posted a very well written article by Martin Kurht refuting Chalke's arguments.

    Chris Bishop

  12. Thanks Chris at mattghg

    I've just read both. I thought Fulcrum's was better. The EA of course are trying to be generous. But it's a bit odd. They basically denounce his views and say that they are very serious, but then talk about disagreeing graciously as if we're discussing modes of baptism.

    The Fuclrum article I thought handled most of it well. On the women issue (I remember the other Kurht's article which he refers to), I thought, ummm, yep, that's why I'm a complimentarian. So,I still think Chalke types will come back to bite him on the bum there. Also, it's interesting that he is saying it's complex at that point, ok, that asks some questions about provision and all that jazz... BUT, as it stands, yep, not bad at all.

    BUT, I think going back to his whole cosmic child abuse thing. For me, things flow in 1 direction. I'm not surprised that someone who reinterprets the cross, reinterprets other stuff too. In a sense the stuff about the cross bothered me more. The Cross (as traditionally understood) is the only hope for both gay & straight people. Once one under mine that (& the general idea of sin), then we probably do have to go done the Chalke notion of inclusion.

  13. Actually I think neither the EA or Fulcrum responses seem to address the kernel of Chalke’s argument which is expressed in this quote:

    “What are we to make of the kind of fancy exegetical footwork which can allow (in spite of the 1 Timothy 2 argument from the order of creation) one approach to the role of women in church leadership, while rejecting the acceptance of faithful same-sex relationships because it would overturn a ‘creation ordinance’?”

    (Chalke does also use the example of slavery but as this does not involve a ‘creation ordinance’ his argument does not have the same force.) As an example of such ‘fancy exegetical footwork’ he cites the Webb book ‘Slaves Women and Homosexuals’ and comments in the notes:

    “In my view, although it has often been stated that gender and sexuality are not of the same category in terms of ‘creation ordinances’, in the light of the biblical text, there seems little substantive evidence to support this kind of claim.”

    In other words if we respond to the homosexual issue by going to creation then we must do so with the discussion on women. And then we can’t say the women issue is cultural because it is linked to the creation order.

    I’ve read the responses from Steve Clifford, Steve Holmes (both on the EA website) and Martin Kuhrt (Fulcrum) and none of them are getting to grips with this key point.

    So where Chalke says the passages like 1 Tim 2 are clear and you can’t say ‘it’s cultural’, Kuhrt merely restates his view that the passages are unclear but “Some good exegetical work has been done demonstrating that Paul is more likely to have been forbidding women from exercising a very unpleasant and manipulative domineering over men akin to some aspects of pagan religion” which roughly translated means some ‘fancy exegetical footwork’ has been done which concludes ‘it’s cultural’!

    Holmes says that he does not find the use of a 'trajectory' hermeneutic persuasive personally yet seems unable to grasp why Chalke thinks Webb to be inconsistent.

    Chalke at least is clear about authorial purpose and honest enough to admit that it is overridden by a hermeneutic lens of a developing conversation. Those who respond need to be as clear and honest about some of the principles used in interpreting scripture. So if we use the ideas of trajectory hermeneutics ourselves (e.g. R.T. France, as well as its use in the Rochester Report on women bishops) we are going to struggle to counter those who use it on other areas.

    Steven Pascoe

  14. John,
    Your expositions on these issues of creeping liberalism and the exposure of their inconsistencies and failing logic are very helpful.
    I found the Steve Clifford response to Chalke very helpful as well.
    Liberal modernisers have time on their side. They know that traditional principles are gradually questioned and eroded over time and their modernistic views gradually get acceptance through the concept that 'one must keep up with the times'.
    The view that modernists create a God that fits with current society has been happening for many years. A successful church leader in Notting Hill was quoted in the Sunday Times over 30 years ago as preaching what the people want to hear.

  15. Mr Integrity (or anyone else) - who's in view in your final sentence?


  16. Darren,

    They basically denounce his views and say that they are very serious, but then talk about disagreeing graciously as if we're discussing modes of baptism.

    Yes, I won't pretend that I'm entirely comfortable with this. the 'disagreeing graciously' stuff might be the thin end of the wedge. But it might not be. They may mean gracious disagreement in the way that one disagrees graciously with a non-Christian. In the light of the policy document I linked to above, I remain hopeful.

    On the atonement issue, hindsight is a wonderful thing. It's now clear that when Chalke denied PSA he was already well on the way to losing the plot, and recent developments are merely a further stage of this. It's fine for people who recognised as much years ago to effectively say 'I told you so', but they should be patient with people who are only waking up to it now (like me).

  17. Steven Pascoe,

    To the extent that defenders of women in church leadership do adopt the hermeneutic that Chalke attributes to them, they are on very thin ice, I agree. But in fairness, I have read plenty of argumentation from that camp which does not go down that route. Regarding 1 Tim 2, they tend to say that v12 is parenthetical, and that the stuff about Adam and Eve is actually giving an explanation for v11. I don't buy this, but I acknowledge that people who do buy it aren't thereby consciously ignoring a creation ordinance or adopting a dodgy 'trajectory hermeneutic' (which I take to be a fancy way of denying the sufficiency of scripture). It isn't clear from Kuhrt's article whether or not he has this kind of response in mind, though.

    In defence of 'egalitarians', I'd also point out that the Bible does mention women taking responsibility (the question is: 'for what?') and/ teaching (the question is: 'what to whom?'), so those passages have to be dealt with as well. In contrast, as Chalke has to admit, there isn't a single scriptural example of anything that comes close to a homosexuality being endorsed. So these issues aren't in the same league.

  18. John, I think we can agree that for liberals this, and women as bishops etc, are matters of injustice. But are they "intolerable injustice", as Peter den Haan suggests? Don't forget that for true liberals nothing is intolerable - and those who claim to be liberal but will not tolerate conservative opinions show themselves as a new breed of fundamentalists.

    I think your error is in understanding "injustice" in a fundamentalist, or at least conservative evangelical sense, such that someone guilty of this is on their way to eternal punishment, and should also be punished on earth, at the very least by being put out of the church. But for a liberal, "injustice" is something quite different. People show injustice, on their view, because they have been badly educated or brought up in a faulty culture. They are not to be punished, but to be pitied, and if possible to be educated.

    That, I suspect, is roughly how Steve Chalke views those who differ from him on this matter. And it is, I would say, an entirely logical position given his presuppositions. You clearly do not share those presuppositions, but that doesn't give you a reason to call him illogical, or even to mistrust him.

  19. Does Steve Chalke write these sort of things periodically, because Steve Chalke has not been talked about for a while?

    The ego is such a lovely thing


  20. Peter,

    This EVERY reason to mistrust him. Look at the ministry of say, TFT. Look at the ministry that goes on in Evangelical Churches all over the world, where all sorts get converted, including from gay backgrounds, who decide, often without anyone drawing attention to the issue, that they should be celibate. There is 1 guy I know who had to move twice because he was regularly beaten up because of his sexuality, came to the same church as me, was excepted & matured as a Christian. Yet, "people like me" are excluding people?

    When people use the language of exclusion/acceptance, implying that current practice is exclusion & lack of acceptance, is highly deceptive. So either he is been living in a very sheltered life, where he has seen nothing of what I've said above, but has seen 1 or 2 shockingly badly handled situations (which no doubt exist), or he is stupid (he isn't, he came top of his year at Spurgeons), or he is being deceitful with language. So, nope, I can't trust him.

    The NT about how to deal with false teachers is clear. Confront them. We don't "dialogue" with them, or seek a balance (between truth & error). We may do this gently to start with. & we have to be clear that we are looking for restoration & motivated by love. At the same time, the shepherds are to protect the flock, which includes saying, "look, over there in the sheep/shepherds clothes, looks, walks, & talks, in quite a wolf like manner". It isn't judgemental, any more than pulling someone out of the way of an on coming bus.

  21. Peter

    You ask “John, I think we can agree that for liberals this, and women as bishops etc, are matters of injustice. But are they "intolerable injustice", as Peter den Haan suggests?

    Well in the case of women bishops I think the case is proved as John demonstrates. And not just among those who identify as traditional liberals. Don’t forget Gavin Oldham claims to be an evangelical.

    There is no reason to believe it will be any different as regards the homosexual issue. In the wider society, ‘justice’ and ‘equality’ are very much the idols of the modern age. The government is going to introduce same sex marriage in their name. People who oppose are labelled bigots. We should not imagine that the church is immune from such idolatry. We cannot escape the impact of Neuhaus’ Law.

    Steven Pascoe

  22. What a depressing blog post. Mouse was one of those making exactly the case you criticise - the claim that I really do want everyone to remain and flourish in the Church. It seems you think I was lying all along, and was really trying to trick you into a deal before I revealed that I didn't really mean it at all.

    Oh dear.

    If fact, you make a simple mistake - that of confusing those of us who were making that case, with those who were holding their noses at this deal. For example, you have previously criticised Giles Fraser for his comments after the vote. He refused to join the Yes 2 Women Bishops campaign because he felt the deal on offer was too discriminatory towards women, and only backed it two days before the vote, when he concluded that it would be even worse if it were to fail. Even WATCH only backed the legislation as finally proposed two weeks before the vote (and after we had kicked off Yes 2 Women Bishops without them).

    It is true that some have been intolerant of your position, and would rather it not be part of the Church of England. But these are not the same people who argued my position - they have been entirely consistent both before and after the vote. Indeed, Mouse could equally point to those on the Reform side who have argued vocally that advocates of women bishops are in fact heretics who are slavishly following the fashion of the day and throwing the Bible out. Neither of these is a fair characterisation of the mainstream argument on either side. Justin Welby, NT Wright and Rowan Williams really aren't liberal zealots. And nor is the Mouse.

    I really do hope we can all flourish, but I'm afraid with posts like this you are falling right into the hands of those who want to force this debate to become a full scale internal war. Please don't.

    You campaigned with Reform on the line that "there must be a better way". At the time, I said that was wildly optimistic and we already had the best option on the table. Please be one of those who helps us find that better way. Or we really are in trouble.

    1. The post is depressing because the situation is depressing.

      Individually, of course, there are those who want both women bishops and 'flourishing' traditionalists - a lot of New Wine members I know are in that category.

      But institutionally, the response to the vote was shocking, not least to those lay Synod members who voted against, and who felt the wrath of those they had upset. One commented to me that it seemed we were allowed to flourish, so long as we didn't actually 'win' anything.

      Add to that the kind of public comments made by WATCH, GRAS, (John Gladwin's 'they've (we've) blown up the bridges to a compromise solution' remark), the campaign to oust Philip Giddings, etc, etc, and yes, the picture was - and remains - 'depressing'.

      Now of course there are those amongst whom there is disagreement over this issue who are genuinely saying, "How can we help one another?" I trust they spoke up in the Giddings debate, and I trust they are working hard at things now (or at least, not planning more 'no confidence' motions).

      Perhaps a 'Yes 2 Women Bishops and Proper Provision' campaign could be launched. When it is, I might cheer up.

    2. The only way that women should be bishops is under legislation that does not institutionalise discrimination. A decent code of practice (probably by another name) is the only way forward now.

    3. John - we're in danger of finding some common ground! Yes 2 Women Bishops certainly did argue for proper provision - we argued strongly that the measure as proposed had statutory provision for alternative oversight, but this was not considered sufficient. I understand why, although I disagree. I hope we can find an alternative that satisfies all, but I fear we have thrown out the best compromise available. So far, I've not heard a single person suggest anything else that remotely sounds like a viable option. I think we would do well to spend some time seeking such an alternative. Frankly, I'm stumped.

    4. Mouse, I'm glad you're safe. Your Twitter friends were getting worried, especially when they heard that you had got involved in this conservative evangelical cat fight. But it looks like it's only @thechurchmouse that is dead.

  23. um, "mouse", the above post reminds me a bit of what John blogged about the other week, not reading the blog.

    For a start, in the 1st instance it's about Steve Chalke. But then, it comments, there is a bad track record of liberals being, as someone put it (an ordained woman as it happens),a wish-washy fundamentalist. And it's true, you've cited a couple of examples, that there are those who would eradicate all traditionalists from the church.

    That does NOT mean that there are people like you around and I just can't see how you can get that from the words, presented in the order that they come in. Most of us don't think in binary, with just 2 views, but recognise a spectrum of views, even within certain groups.

    & REFORM... really? Some of them quite like NT Wright, I thought (or selectively - which is OK to be discerning with what we read). I have no idea what they think of Welby, if "they" have an idea. Williams, well, I think we can see why someone might say his a bit liberal on a few things, can't we? & what if we applied the same logic to say, Fulcrum Forums or Thinking Anglicans? A quick glance doesn't make them come across as a "cuddle a conservative" group do they?

    It just seems to me sometimes that words used and what people conclude you've meant from them seem 2 unrelated things.

    1. Andrew Godsall, Exeter22 January 2013 at 11:17

      "Most of us don't think in binary, with just 2 views, but recognise a spectrum of views, even within certain groups."

      Exactly the point I was trying to make in response to John's posts about logic. Binary thinking really will not do.

    2. Sorry Andrew, my mistake, I wasn't clear. We're talking about 2 different things.

      What I meant was, I don't think many people thing that there is 1 group, say, on women bishops, who are for them and want all those who oppose to be burnt at the stake & another group who believe that those who are for are not Christians. Rather, there is a range... but clearly there are some who are less than charitable. These views may or may not be logical. There usually isn't a "conservative" view on a given issue, but a spectrum, which ranges from x-z, say.

      However, when it comes to logic, something is either logical or not. The question is whether the starting point is right or not! Imagine giving someone directions. They can follow them perfectly, except if they started at the wrong place, "2nd on the left" is a totally different place.

      So, there is a world of difference between how we view a range of views; i.e. more don't see 2 views, but a range with 2 end points. But, an argument is logical or not. Ironically, if you look at some of these debates, those taking an "open" line are generally more prone to binary thinking. E.g. "I think those pushing for women bishops/homosexual practice are mistaken", vs, "conservatives exclude gays" & "complimentarians are subordinationists" - yep all of them, 2nd C heretics!

  24. Church Mouse

    Being intolerant of all these fellow Christians that you believe are intolerant, doesn't make you intolerant then?

    Just right I suppose!

    After all look at all these big names in the Church that you say think like you! The "moral majority" if you like. Ooops shouldn't say that.


    1. Phil, do you have any concept that it is possible to disagree with someone without being intolerant of them? Mouse has said nothing intolerant, he has just expressed views which are not yours.

      Actually, John, I could ask you the same question. That seems to be your basic issue with Steve Chalke and other liberals: they have different views from you, and to you that implies, by "logic"(!), that they are intolerant of you, and only pretending to be tolerant.

    2. Peter Kirk

      All this talk of tolerance is well and good. But the fact remains that one side in this conflict is seeking to establish a mechanism that will within one generation eradicate the other side by slow attrition. "Well value and honor your presence" means nothing at all against the reality of "We will never again allow into leadership anyone who holds your position." And that is what is going to happen. You know that is what is going to happen. It has already happened with Bishops. That is in fact the entire point of the provision being offered.

      There is one, only one, and no more than one solution to this conflict - separate authority structures. Otherwise, one side or the other has to surrender something essential. And people don't surrender on essentials. If you wish to hold things together, then you are going to have to create separate authority structures. But of course, that is problematic because all of the growth and money and stability would gravitate to the 'wrong' side. So instead, there is all this talk of "Trust us" and "Surely we can be tolerant of each other" and blah, blah, blah, blah, blah. It's all eyewash. It means nothing against the fact that mutually exclusive concepts of authority cannot co-exist in one organization.

      There is only one question for you to answer. Do you want Women Bishops more than you want unity, or do you want unity more than you want Women Bishops? You can't have both.


    3. Carl, I'm not sure why you are addressing me. I wasn't talking about women bishops. Mouse was, but he was advocating trying to find an acceptable compromise on the issue. I tend to agree with you that the only acceptable compromise will be separate authority structures. But that is not what I was talking about, on this thread about Steve Chalke.

      But to give some kind of answer to your question at the end, I want justice in the church. If others won't accept a church characterized by justice, they are putting themselves outside it.

    4. Peter, your last comment is entirely my point. When you write, "If others won't accept a church characterized by justice, they are putting themselves outside it", you are only saying what people like Gary Oldham says about the Conservative Evangelical understanding of 'headship', namely that it is a "destructive ideology" which "has no place in the Church of England, nor indeed in the Christian faith."

      If female bishops is a justice issue as many clearly believe then they will not rest with it remaining in the Church, much less make provision for it - nor should they.

      Similarly with homosexual practice.

      So my point is simply this: if that is how someone feels, those on both sides of the argument should acknowledge this at the outset, not kid themselves about 'getting along'.

      It is a plea for self-awareness and intellectual clarity.

  25. Peter

    Ah but what do you mean by 'justice'? As I point out in a previous post 'justice' is one of the idols of our present culture. And that sort of justice is antithetical to the gospel. It ends up calling 'bigots' those who won't follow its teachings or saying those who oppose follow ideas akin to national socialism. Those who follow this 'justice' do not respect those who don't.

    Steven Pascoe

    Steven Pascoe

  26. Peter you wrote:

    "But to give some kind of answer to your question at the end, I want justice in the church. If others won't accept a church characterized by justice, they are putting themselves outside it."

    Yet isn't that essentially the nub of Chalke's argument in favour of committed same sex relationships? I suspect that Chalke sees the exclusion of gay couples and their non-acceptance in the church as fundamentally a justice issue.

    So by your own token,do you therefore agree with Chalke's assertions?

    Chris Bishop

  27. Peter Kirk

    All of these issues are connected, and at the center is a claim of 'tolerance.' To look at how this claim of tolerance will play out, you don't listen to abstract arguments. You examine how it is being executed in the current manifestation of the conflict. I would be able to make completely analogous argument about gay marriage except that issue hasn't come to fruition yet. This isn't a matter of being tolerant of someone you disagree with. It is rather a ruthless act of extermination hidden behind a mask of tolerance. Whether people who disagree can agree to tolerate each other is completely beside the point.


  28. I was deliberately putting forward general principles. What exactly justice is is of course a highly debatable question, especially when we come to the specific issues people have in mind here. But there are plenty of posts on this blog about women bishops, so I don't want to go off topic on this one about Steve Chalke.

    Carl, as for your "ruthless act of extermination" allegation, this sounds more like an act of an Anglican Inquisition about as ruthless as Monty Python's Spanish one.

    1. And there you have the perfect example of how the game is played:

      1. Refuse to admit to opponents any specific connection between the principle and its logical consequence.

      2. Talk about tolerance and mutual respect.

      3. Establish an institutional mechanism that achieves the desired ideological result.

      4. Wait for the mechanism to work.

      5. Dismiss people who point out the existence and working of the mechanism.

      It's not just about Women Bishops. It's not just about gay marriage. It's a comprehensive ideological strategy to achieve a comprehensive ideological result.


    2. So, Carl, you have imagined a "mechanism", and if anyone questions the existence of the "mechanism" you take that as evidence of the "mechanism" at work? That sounds to me like a good example of a conspiracy theory. But I am not going to hang around here being accused of such things.

  29. Ah tolerance/justice.... We are told not to worry...


    My sister lives in Vancouver. Here the largest Anglican Church congregation in Canada is thrown out of their church.

    Such evil people, they wanted to follow the Bible rather than follow the dictates of a committee.. but we had every right to throw them out... we voted on it.. that means they must be wrong,

    Tolerance and justice, coming to a church near you soon! So... shut up or hand over the keys.

    You know, I think perhaps in the end it might be a good thing this “tolerance and justice”!


    Peter.. Monty Python could not have made it up. The Anglican Church in the west deserve a whole show to themselves... Not many people laughing though.

  30. so... "Church Mouse is a he..."

  31. From your previous post where you astonish us with your use of logic and intellectual brilliance...

    “In simple terms, 'p' and its contradiction 'not-p' cannot both be true. We may elaborate this into practical examples: "Jesus is alive", "Jesus is not alive"; "It is Thursday", "It is not Thursday", and so on. But the logical principle is not merely widely accepted in a customary sense but irrefutable: "If 'p' then not 'not-p'".

    So I presume you are an Arian – as Jesus cannot be both God and Man? If only you had been around at Nicaea... you could have put Athanasius in his place!

  32. Anonymous... really?
    Have you had a read through Athanasius, or any of the Reformers, or something recent & good, like Frame's Doctrine of God. Mystery isn't the same as illogical. Jesus can't be not God & God, or not man & man. Thomas Weinandy puts it well, when he says understanding God more doesn't clear it all up, it just makes the mystery bigger as we see more, we understand more about what there is to know.

    In much the same way, things can be foreordained by God, yet humans be responsible for (Van Til & Frame show nicely, that in fact God's sovereignty is essential for human responsibility), & that someone can be equal AND different (all the members of the church for e.g.)

    All the Incarnation does, as far as discussing logic go, is say that our minds are finite. We could not have worked out the Trinity for ourselves, it had to be revealed.

    Oh, hang on, maybe other things need to be revealed to us because of our both limited and sinful minds we would get wrong, if left to our own devices... e.g. morality!

  33. PS, I'm assuming the intellectual brilliance was John's or someone's not mine.

  34. Sorry, just re-read my 1st of the above posts...

    I left open a potential charge of heresy (I didn't state one, I just didn't close the door)

    God can't be, God & not God at the same time
    Man can't be, man & not man at the same time
    That isn't the same as saying, a person can't be completely God & completely man at the same time. At least, in the 1 instance.

    Is it fair to say then, that lost of people think God is irrational & illogical & therefore our arguments are to be too?

    Also, if we are relying on the Bible to tell us something we don't know about God, isn't it illogical to then dismiss it when it tells us something else (remember the thread about Steve Chalke?)? - oh, hang on... we don't do that logic - right? wrong? confused?

  35. Darren, I think you are making Anonymous' point rather well. There is not a simple binary logic. It is not Jesus is either man or God. It is not Chalke is either good or evil. Issues like this are logically far more nuanced, as many good theologians understood at Nicaea and still understand today. So we don't need an Arius or a Richardson to make us oversimplify the matters.

  36. And that, Peter, applies not least to your concept of justice. When you have time, why not read 2 Chronicles 26:16-21 and explain whether God was just or not?


  37. What I am finding depressing about this very long discussion thread is the misunderstanding of the nature, use and role of logic.

    Logical argument is not the opposite of 'subtle' but of 'muddled'. I think the Greek Fathers understood this, by the way.

  38. John, an argument can be logical and subtle, like those of Athanasius, or it can be logical but simplistic because based on oversimplified assumptions, like yours.

    Dan and others, you are wrong to read my comment about "justice" as implying particular answers to any specific questions. I was only saying that we should be looking to find what answer is just. And sometimes, as in both the issues here, there is no simple answer.

  39. Then, Peter, I suggest we focus on the content of the argument, not its using of logic.

  40. Peter, I think you're just playing games.

    Logic can be subtle, sophisticated etc. Ummm, hands up who disagrees? The point Anon made was that the incarnation is NOT logical. My point, was that it is, but clearly NOT simplistic. I think you are reading back into what others are saying about Steve Chalke, I've not read anything here where he has been called evil. Most people are a mixed bag. But what Steve Chalke has done is gone very public, with a rather muddled argument, which has very serious consequences.

    this was quite a good piece on the content (logic isn't mentioned, but it is noticeable)

  41. To a simple guy like me the "logic" of the argument is that Steve Chalk is like most of the wet middle class HTB type of Christian.

    To my shame I realise that I am becoming one.

    We argue the case for issues like homosexuality because we want the approval of the world and still be invited to dinner. We are silent on abortion and other issues for the same reason.

    Life is so comfy that we have become afraid and evil takes another step because we are weak. Carl is right. The new ideology is subtle. We have become impotent Christians, especially in the church, but also in society and this has been achieved by first weakening the family. THe chuch is complicit in this by attempting to destroy the role of the father.

    So we look into the fire, deny Jesus and let Steve Chalk persuade us that because he is a clever guy he deserves “respect” for his views.

    No he doesn’t.

    Next week a local Church is going to bless a “civil partnership”.

    I wonder if they will be willing to bless my pride, anger and arrogance.

    Now wouldn’t that be fun?


  42. John,
    Liberals like Peter will twist the argument evry which way to get away from the core of the subject and confuse readers as to what the main issues are. I stopped reading his blog long ago.
    I like Phil's comment above but I don’t believe he should include HTB types in wet middle class type of Christian. As far as I know, yes they tend to be middle class, but they are very committed to the preaching of the Gospel and teach in the saints. Not at all 'wet' as far as I have seen.

    1. Mr Integrity, I am not a liberal. You obviously haven't been reading my blog if you think that. I stand with my HTB friends in being "very committed to the preaching of the Gospel and teach in the saints" (sic). On these issues I am simply exploring why conservatives and liberals are talking past one another. Conservatives need to understand liberals, which includes understanding who is not liberal, and stop inventing conspiracies where there is simply agreement to differ.

  43. I think people should avoid using the word "liberal" in a pejorative sense. BUT I don't understand why people are so averse to being called it? Maybe it's a perceived tone. But when people do say a load of, "liberal" stuff, the throw their hands up at being called liberal, seems odd. Sure, some are a bit of a mishmash.

    It is also a relative thing. So some would find HTB "a bit liberal", in that they are obviously NOT anti-supernatural (trad liberals are) & they want to get the gospel out, but they can be a bit "the gospel is John 3:16 nothing else matters". I think it does, Paul's speech to the Ephesian Elders etc. "whole counsel of God".

    Labels such as "evangelical" must mean more than just tribal identity & which conference you go to.

    But if you widen Phil's point out a bit, to more than just HTB, but a wet-middle classness, which he identifies himself with (let's say St Helen's Bishopsgate, for the sake of balance, or most of non-conformity). We are unwilling to suffer. So HTB/St Helen's will make a stand over the gay issue, St Helen's over the women bishop thing too... to a point. But radical discipleship needs to go a bit further doesn't it? Isn't it interesting that for in the Chalke stuff, the talk is about oppression, justice, inclusion. In reality, there are many people still in slavery, 1 in 10 Christians "properly" persecuted (I don't mean aren't allowed to wear a cross on a chain whilst at work, I mean persecuted). And western Christians bleat about rights.

    I'm in touch with a number of those 1 in 10s. Interestingly, they don't seem to have the same kind of doctrinal lenience that some would project on them. I guess they'd just be dismissed as being backwards.

    The fact there is even a discussion shows the eye is off the ball and a lack of awareness of what the world is like. Rights in this country are extrodinarily generous. & Christians need to be more willing to look embarressing, stand out & say what people don't want to hear & face their financial crosses too. Steve Chalke has said what "we" don't want to hear, but is now the darling of the BBC.

    1. "we" referring to the church - he's said what "we" don't want to hear, but the world is getting their ears tickled by it all.

  44. Misc random thought on liberalism:

    The history of liberalism started with German Evangelical Piety. They were not ALL anti-supernaturalists, or rank unbelievers. They wanted to make the Bible/faith accessible to a post-enlightenment world. Of course, that is a sell out and it failed miserably, as it was bound to.

    So why do people say, "gay marriage is ok, you can't trust ALL of the Bible" & the like, then look visibly horrified when someone remarks that they're liberal. Also, someone can be relatively liberal, or a bit "shaky" on certain things. End of the day, if it looks like a duck, walks...

    People then need to think, if they don't any longer fit any historically recognisably definition of an evangelical, they need to think of their own label. Stop nicking other people's!

  45. Thank you, Darren. I reacted to Mr Integrity's use of "liberal" partly because I understood it as pejorative, and partly in that I too am "obviously NOT anti-supernatural (trad liberals are) & ... want to get the gospel out". Like your Pietists I "want[] to make the Bible/faith accessible to a post-enlightenment world".

    However, since we are in a post-enlightenment world, I don't see how you can applaud "want to get the gospel out" and decry "want[] to make the Bible/faith accessible" at the same time - unless of course you want people to get out a gospel without the Bible! Indeed I see your suggestion that "to make the Bible/faith accessible to a post-enlightenment world" is "a sell out" as in itself a sell out, a rejection of evangelism (or at least of effective evangelism, but I don't count shouting out KJV verses in shopping malls as evangelism), and a betrayal of a central plank of evangelicalism. Please assure me that I have misunderstood you!

  46. Darren

    A few years ago I lived and worked in the middle of Africa.

    The country was not completely lawless but you often got a gun poked up your nose when you went for a drive!

    The difference with Britain is that people died. Whether it was AIDS, other diseases, personal violence etc you knew people who died this week and many of them were young. My wife hated it but I really liked the uncertainty, you really lived each day and each day was different.

    The difference with Britain is that people smiled. The glass was always half full even when it was not even a quarter full. I never heard of any debate about homosexuality, women bishops, etc. Brothers and sisters went to Jesus every day; you really did have breakfast with them in the morning and bury them in the evening. Quite simply there were bigger issues. The local theological college trained vicars by sending them out to preach in the market on a Saturday morning. How many people would stop and listen to Steve Chalk on a Saturday Morning in that market in Africa. I would love to see him try and wonder who would throw the first punch!

    Where we lived were some of the toughest people I have ever known. You thought that they did not care about anything or anyone. When my wife was ill in hospital I later found that everyone prayed, many all night for her. When two days later we nearly lost our baby son, the hardest guy I have every known came to me and told me not to worry, he would pray all night again this time for my son. Many joined him. I wept and was completely humbled by their love, for us who were very young, very rich, very white, and just a few days before, and very opinionated.

    We wonder why the church has problems? It is the same reason that the rich man went away sad. We put on Alpha Suppers, Marriage Courses and mostly they are really crap…. Sorry HTB but they are…..(Don't get me started) We need a much stronger and more honourable approach. One that does not give the Steve Chalks of this world the time of day.

    However, I am afraid that our Church is built on sand. Each day we continue to undermine it further and put more sand beneath.


    1. Phil, do you know anything at all about Steve Chalke MBE? It seems you don't even know his name. Do you know about his ministry in a deprived area of inner London? Do you know about his work with Oasis Community Learning, with Faithworks and with Stop The Traffik? Or are you simply jumping to completely unwarranted conclusions that his approach is that of HTB? Do you really think it is the approach of a good Christian to libel a church leader without even bothering to find out the most basic information about him?

    2. Yes I had read about Steve Chalke.

      What an impressive CV, obviously a grade A Christian. Just look at his works!

      However, there are no grade A or B Christians Peter. Just Christians.

      My point is that we cannot and should not agree to disagree.

      I believe the time has come for a different approach. This being a lot more passion and anger from those of us that believe the Bible and more intolerance of those of us in the church that won't.

      The African Church is strong and our church is weak and getting weaker, despite our fancy websites. Oasis Community Learning/ Faithworks included.


  47. Peter,

    You're getting the nub of what I'm saying. I think the history of liberalism & some liberals today, are trying to get the "gospel" to the people of today. & in the processes fail, by muddling "accessible" with "acceptable".

    NOBODY chucks the Bible out & not all liberals nowadays are totally anti-supernatural. BUT, what you described is basically an apologia FOR a form of liberalism.

    Full blown Evangelical-Evangelism involves presenting a full gospel, in God's way. That does involve careful thought about how it's heard etc. Evangelicals are often careful about contextualisation etc. Look at someone like Van Til for the whole presuppositional stuff. Shouting KJV at people... really? You see a lot of that? BUT even if you did, I think Rom 1:16 is true to the point that the Spirit can and does use it to bring people to faith. AND I'd rather that than making the gospel so "accessible" that it no longer calls sin sin & so calls nobody to repentance.

    Sure, Steve Chalke has done all sorts of things that are very noble, again, hands up who disagrees... that will be no-one. MBE, well, Alan Sugar has a Knighthood, I admire him for lots of things... but will not be having him as a guest preacher one week, nor Sir Alex Ferguson or David Beckham MBE - all great people who do good things.

    So, the question you've fudged Peter is, regardless of Steve Chalke's achievements... do you see ANYTHING wrong with either his pronouncements about the cross, or his revision of our understanding of homosexuality?

  48. Thank you, Darren. Yes, what is needed is indeed to make the gospel accessible but not acceptable. True, I haven't heard people recently shouting the KJV in shopping malls, but it wasn't all that long ago that a Chelmsford church used to do that regularly in Market Square. And too often evangelism today doesn't start where people are at, but fits Archdruid Eileen's definition: "Telling people who don't have a concept of "sin" that they can be saved from sin, by a process they don't understand called "repentance", which brings into play something they won't have heard of called "redemption" and thereby unlocks a state of being they won't know about called "atonement"." There is no point in calling sin sin if people don't know what the word means!

    As for my own views on what Steve Chalke has said, I am by no means a yes-man of his. Indeed I have publicly disagreed with what he had to say recently about same sex marriage. Sadly I didn't have time to write anything for my own blog. I wrote a few things on Facebook, including the following (on 15 January):

    An excellent response to Steve Chalke by Steve Holmes on behalf of the Evangelical Alliance: Holmes points out some of the hermeneutical issues which I had already noticed with Chalke's article. So, while Holmes has a lot of sympathy with Chalke, he cannot endorse Chalke's position. He also makes the good point that Christians, straight or gay, should not be finding community just in partnerships or marriage but through the church.

  49. Actually the theological concept we have found consistently shocks people out of complacency is grace. This is because they have a perfectly good understanding of sin-as-wrongdoing and punishment-as-dessert.

    When they encounter the doctrine of grace (usually on the Christianity Explored course), that's the make-or-break moment.

  50. Peter

    Stop your agreeing nonsense

    If you carry on like this I will have one less person to argue with.


    PS BTW I agree with you that Britain is a sadder place because of bad teeth. You can even tell whether a show is US or British just by looking at the actors teeth!

    All those billions spent on the NHS and we still get bad teeth.

    Still it is still free here to get them to murder your unborn child.

  51. John's right
    Grace/works I've seen people visibly look shocked, jaws open etc. John Stott said that if you confront people with sin, their conscience is on your side. That's right, from Romans 1, people have an understanding of God from creation which the suppress, one way or another. So we may not launch into a gospel presentation which uses Christian jargon. But we do launch in with Christian concepts. Just saying, "God loves you", will get the reply, "of course!". Keller uses the concept of idolatry (again not using the actual work), which resonates with people, understanding that they love for, or are even slaves to something. That leads on to talking about sin etc.

    Grace is the offence of the gospel. Not sin. When people hear that they can't earn their way in, they are either relieved or offended. I once did a Grace/Works talk, when I asked people to write down why God should let them into heave. I gave a list of good things to do. Comically a man was doing a thumbs up, & showing those around him his list. I then said, "but they don't work" & explained grace. His face was a picture!

    The reason why "liberals" (that includes modern new-liberals who believe in the supernatural) dumb down sin, is because they dumb down grace. If we are saved, "because you're worth it", you have to make the bar VERY low. If you're a "doctrines of grace" man/woman, then it doesn't matter how high the bar is set. That's the big irony on the gay "inclusion" thing. Liberals (trad & new) preach salvation by works/worthiness (in fact there is no salvation needed, often). Conservatives can talk about sin, because it can be forgiven.

    Peter - if you object to Steve Chalke's view on homosexuality (you didn't say about the cross), then why have you objected to John (& others) going to the "why/how" did he get there kind of questions (e.g. poor/faulty logic)?

    Chelmsford KJ preachers - I'm guessing that "then" at least some people would have understood what they're saying and, as DL Moody put it, "I think God prefers the way I do it, to the way you don't". I don't think that is an excuse for doing things wrong/badly. But when I see things done wrong/badly, it always makes me ask if I do it at all!

  52. Darren, I objected to what John wrote in this post for two basic reasons. First, he appealed to logic against Chalke but his own logic was lacking. Second, he was trying to demonise Chalke with an ad hominem argument of the kind "Chalke is a liberal; liberals are bad people; therefore Chalke is a bad person".

    Are you now trying to suggest that Chalke's teaching on grace is inadequate? If so, do you have any evidence for that?

    As for Chalke on the atonement, he started by attacking a distorted presentation of PSA which had already been rejected by thoughtful conservative scholars like Jim Packer. But a pack of "evangelical" wolves turned on him because they actually believed in the distorted version, that an angry OT Father punished his unwilling innocent Son. That version is clearly heretical because it implies a division of will in the Trinity. It was only when people tried to tell him that that was what PSA actually meant (ignoring Packer's much more nuanced version) that Chalke rejected PSA completely.

  53. Peter, I wonder if I may take up a couple of points?

    First, you write that I "appealed to logic against Chalke" but that my own logic "was lacking". If you would take the time to explain this in simple terms, I'd be interested to hear.

    Secondly, you refer to my using an 'ad hominem' argument. However, the illustration you present is not 'ad hominem' ("Chalke is a liberal; liberals are bad people; therefore Chalke is a bad person").

    In fact it is logically valid syllogism of the form "If A then B; if B then C; A, therefore C". Provided the premises are true (always a crucial point), the conclusion is true.

    What I can't see is how I've employed an 'ad hominem' argument in this regard. So again, if you could explain in simple terms, please do so.

    Thirdly, I'd be interested to see references (books, articles, etc) to these "'evangelical' wolves" who supposedly turned on Steve Chalke and who believed the Son of God was unwilling to die in the place of sinners. I'd also be interested in evidence of the trajectory you claim between Chalke questioning this evidently false view (not held by the likes of Jim Packer) and Chalke's entire rejection of PSA. I've read Chalke, and do not see this 'evolution' suggested in his own work (rather, he seems to suggest the difficulty arose in trying to persuade non-believers of the truth of PSA), but again I may be missing something.

  54. John, thank you for your challenge.

    First, I would refer you back to my first comment on your first post in this series.

    Second, yes, the syllogism is logically valid, but the premises are fallacious. Three options: 1) You are using "liberal" in some (debatable) technical theological sense, in which case A may be true but B is a fallacy of faulty generalization; 2) You are using "liberal" as a pejorative term, in which case B is true by definition but A is unproven and your logic is circular; 3) You are using "liberal" in different senses in A and B, in which case this is a fallacy of equivocation.

    Third, I don't remember the details of a nearly decade old controversy, and I don't have immediate access to the primary sources, but you can read what I wrote about it in 2007 - and you may find more in the Steve Chalke category on my blog.

  55. Peter, on your first reply, what you disputed was whether "injustice" was a primary or secondary (theological) issue ("you seem to claim that it is wrong ... to agree to differ from someone else on an arguably secondary matter"). What you seem to be saying is that it is a secondary issue ('injustice', ie 'not-justice' does not contradict justice) and that therefore they can co-exist. Correct me if I am wrong!

    On the second reply, we need to distinguish between 'fallacious' in the sense that the reasoning is invalid and 'fallacious' in the sense that the assertion is incorrect. However, I was simply restating the position as you had presented it, and observing that the syllogism was valid. I was not presuming the premises were true.

    As I said, I am still lost as to how I am supposed to be presenting an 'ad hominem' argument.

    As to what you wrote about Chalke, I note you seem to have quoted part of what John Stott said: "We must never make Christ the object of God’s punishment", adding "ie God did not punish Jesus." But in Stott's original, the full quote is as follows: "We must never make Christ the object of God’s punishment or God the object of Christ’s persuasion, for both God and Christ were subjects not objects, taking the initiative together to save sinners’ (The Cross of Christ, p. 151) In other words, what Stott seems to be cautioning against is making God the subject and Christ the object, not the notion of punishment. However, I would like to check this when I have the chance to get hold of my copy of Stott.

    Meanwhile, you did seem to suggest you could recall an attack by 'evangelical wolves'. Hence my request.

  56. John,

    1) There was a step missing in your logical argument, something like "if a person believes a position is wrong or unjust they are obliged to break off all fellowship with anyone who holds that position". You seemed to simply assume the truth of that step, a truth I dispute. That was what was lacking (I did not say "wrong") in your logic.

    2) I understood you as using "liberal" in a pejorative sense, which implies that calling Steve Chalke a liberal is ad hominem, "an argument made personally against an opponent instead of against their argument". If in fact you were not using that pejorative sense, then your argument is fallacious, but not strictly ad hominem.

    3) From memory, the position that Chalke was attacking as "cosmic child abuse" was precisely what Stott rejected, "making God the subject and Christ the object". Here is part of UCCF's response: "Steve Chalke has made his dislike of penal substitution very clear by likening God’s act of punishing Jesus in our place to a cosmic child abuser." - a description of the atonement with God the subject and Christ the object, exactly what Stott was objecting to. Adrian Warnock seems to have taken down his page giving the details, but a comment remains in which he says of Chalke's position "This is so serious that [John] Piper calls it blasphemy and [Wayne] Grudem feels it is very close to blasphemy." These are the kinds of evangelical wolves (some may think they are in sheep's clothing) that I have in mind.

  57. Peter, let's recap.

    1. My original argument depended on the principle of non-contradiction: "If p then not not-p".

    "Justice and injustice" are examples of a p and not-p: "If justice then not injustice."

    Now contrary views can, and do, co-exist in a Christian community (not that they are both right, but sometimes they cannot be resolved). That, however, is difficult to argue in cases of justice and injustice. Indeed Chalke himself specifically observes that (this particular) injustice (not-p) is "out of step with God’s character".

    That is why I am saying that if you follow his logic, you have an intolerable contradiction which I believe Chalke is outwardly advocating: "Let us act towards one another as if in the Church we can maintain positions that are in step with God's character and positions that are not in step with God's character,"

    Earlier you said I seemed to be claiming "that it is wrong ... to agree to differ from someone else on an arguably secondary matter". I hope you will see I am saying that Chalke presents it in primary terms.

    It is not a question of whether (in your words) "if a person believes a position is ... unjust they are obliged to break off all fellowship with anyone who holds that position", but that the two positions are, as presented by Chalke, a 'first order' contradiction and need to be acknowledged as such.

    2. On the question of liberalism and 'ad hominem' argument, the issue is with a belief held by a person, and therein lies the difficulty. It is the belief that is wrong, but as Chalke points out, our actions are an expression of our beliefs and therefore mould the person. Furthermore, the person with wrong beliefs may be one to avoid (cf Gal 1:8-9). However, as I hope I have shown above, the argument in this particular instance does not rest on 'Steve Chalke is a liberal', but on 'Steve Chalke is inconsistent'.

    3. It is Steve Chalke who used the language of 'cosmic child abuse' in the context of rejecting the doctrine of penal substitution. This was something of a 'straw man', but Chalke is not stupid and was quite clearly moving away from a position he once held (I have him on tape holding it!), namely the classical Christian model that Jesus bore, in our place, the punishment of God's wrath for our sins, for a model that excludes this notion. By setting up the 'straw man', however, he may well have appealed to those who couldn't see what was going on, and I think Piper and Grudem were defending against the wolf (who comes in sheep's clothing, remember), not acting as wolves against a weaker evangelical brother.

  58. Just to add to John's last pt 3:

    There is a bit more history to that. A few years earlier a book emerged from St John's Nottingham came out challenging PSA etc. & soon after Oak Hill did a school of theology day on the subject, from which emerged, "Where wrath & mercy meet". The book is a bit broader than just addressing the St John's book, although it obviously comes up. A few years later came the Chalke book and a load of people threw there arms in the air. I think the concern was, Chalke appeals to people on a popular level. He was asked to clarify & in some articles & talks he did.

    Soon after that came out a book called "Pierced for our transgressions". Basically the writers said there are good books on the atonement from the point of view of Biblical theology, doctrine & it's understanding in history. But their book brought together all of it, to give a bit of a flavour (then was criticised by some for not being thorough enough... it's already 1.5 inches think & stated, it wasn't trying to do everything, but points people off for other things to look at). Again the book mentions Steve Chalke, but it isn't a "let's get Chalke" book, as it has bigger fish to fry. But I'm sure the timing prompted the authors to put pen to paper.

    Next came NT Wright banging on about how unfair all this was on Chalke & how well he knew him & "Pierced..." mentioned at a conference that their reaction to this was, "Oh no, could we really have got that this badly wrong? Good if we have, but better ring & make sure". They rang, Chalke confirmed they got him right.

    I'm just waiting for someone like NT Wright to tell us that we've misunderstood Chalke on this too.

    I really don't see the problem here Peter. Chalke has said some stuff that's wrong. Seriously wrong. If someone said, "I'm a liberal & I think...", you would be saying, "Of course, that's because you're a liberal... & by the way you're wrong". But because Steve Chalke says it, he needs defending. I don't understand why? OK, Oasis does some good stuff. But so do lots of secular charities. His views don't negate any good work that they do, neither does their good work validate his theological error.

    Another good feature of "Pierced..." is the Epilogue on the use of rhetoric. Basically, rhetoric is fine, AFTER you've made an argument to strengthen your case. But it doesn't replace it. But what often people do is stick rhetoric up front, "this view is like the Nazis, child abuse, slavery", so we think, "oh better stay clear then". But mis-representing the case. So "Pierced..." & others at the time were in fact dealing very FAIRLY with Steve Chalke, dealing with his actual words & saying why they disagreed AND why it mattered. Steve Chalke's stuff was pure (then & now) rhetoric, very little content at all.

    Regarding logic, I still don't get what you're talking about. John's previous post was about "being logical & wrong" & that logic isn't the Star Trek/Spock variety. Then lots of people posted stuff that demonstrated that they hadn't understood what he was talking about. You seem to be doing it here! I can't see that what John says is, Chalke is liberal, liberals are bad, Chalke is therefore bad. He was saying 2 things. Chalke is a liberal (he is! you can't get round it, he is a liberal supernaturalist). AND he is saying that liberals are remarkably illiberal. Time will tell if Chalke falls into that group. You need to actually read what people say. Did John draw those dots, or did you do that for him?

  59. A separate thought about "accessibility".

    Peter, you said you want to "make" the gospel "accessible", Chalke & others find PSA people don't "get".

    So what?

    The question is simply is it true or not. The early Church in Europe & ever since when going to unchurched areas always have difficulty in speaking across world views. But being hard work doesn't mean to say we invent a new gospel. Rather we just have to work harder at understanding people and being understood. Saying, "this is how Christians understand the world, God, people... makes sense doesn't it".

    There was a time the medical world didn't understand micro-organisms. Now we do, it makes the world of difference. Imagine speaking to medics who still didn't understand, but saying, "micro-organisms doesn't connect with them, let's explain to them in a way that they understand". Nope, you'd explain what's missing, or people will reach out to the wrong solution.

  60. John, a few quick points here.

    I agree that justice and injustice cannot coexist. But different opinions on what is justice can coexist, and should be allowed to. People on one side may try to convince people on the other. That is the healthy debate which should be allowed in the church. But it is wrong to demonise and break fellowship with someone else over a personal opinion, even on a matter of justice.

    Do you have Chalke on tape also REJECTING "the classical Christian model that Jesus bore, in our place, the punishment of God's wrath for our sins"? The record I have, or did have, is of him rejecting the distortion which Stott also rejected. His "straw man" argument may have been unclear as well as unwise, but I cannot believe the stupidity of those who attacked him for rejecting a position which they would also reject, if they thought about it and didn't allow themselves to be swayed by an emotional reaction to the words "cosmic child abuse".

    Darren, thanks for the reminder of some past controversies which I don't want to get back into now. I would also be interested if you have any evidence that Chalke ever rejected John's "classical Christian model".

  61. Peter, I just think it is plain wrong to say "different opinions on what is justice can coexist". They certainly can't coexist for long.

    I have Chalke in writing rejecting penal substitutionary atonement, which is what I've outlined. As I have read him, he rejected not just the 'distorted' view (that is hard to find anyone holding), but the traditional view.

    He writes, "Those who criticise me for The Lost Message of Jesus hold a particular view of what happened on the cross (or ‘model of the atonement’) commonly known as ‘penal substitution’ – penal referring to punishment, substitution to Christ acting in our place."

    He roots it in Anselm and Calvin, ascribing the full-blown version to Charles Hodge: "a righteous God is angry with sinners and demands justice. His wrath can only be appeased
    through bringing about the violent death of his Son."

    Allowing for the pejorative language ("only be appeased" ... "violent death"), this is the basis of classical atonement theory.

    He also writes, "In The Lost Message of Jesus I claim that penal substitution is tantamount to ‘child abuse – a vengeful Father punishing his Son for an offence he has not even committed.’ Though the sheer bluntness of this imagery (not original to me of course) might shock some, in truth, it is only a stark ‘unmasking’ of the violent, pre-Christian thinking behind such a theology."

    Chalke does not offer a 'revised' view of penal substitution, he rejects it, quoting with approval the words of Joel Green and Mark Baker: ‘Penal substitution … is unbiblical ... because it distorts or leaves out biblical concepts".

    See here:

  62. I was trying to find Steve Chalke's own words, rather than a quote, but haven't had much joy. There is a link to an article by him here:
    But when I clicked it was just blank. However, the section of "redeeming the cross" by Chalke regarding PSA is quoted in that link.

    Peter, you said you don't want to go over the history again, but then say, "he doesn't deny it". The history is pretty critical at this point. Steve Chalke NEVER answered his critics by saying, "Look guys, you've got me all wrong. I'm just saying the way we often articulat PSA, even those words are really unhelpful. But I'm still with you, I just want us to be more careful". Rather he makes himself more clear and removes ambiguity or any doubt about what he is saying.

    I've had this conversation with others. A Minister near here actually had Steve Chalke's book and an article by him, with sections highlighted and another Minister, defending Steve Chalke and what he said, refused to look at the pages! You're doing the same thing.

    I just don't understand this. Steve Chalke is a grown up, he isn't a moron, he knows what he is saying and he meant what he said. It doesn't make him a "bad" person, incapable of doing nice things. It does however make him unfit to be a Minister in the Church of Christ, in my view & his teaching is mis-leading people in a very serious way.

    I just don't get why you want to make it as if he hadn't said this stuff, because HE wouldn't want you to have said that! Let's be clear, Steve Chalke is saying that the position that John & I hold (& by the sounds of it you too Peter) is dishonouring to God. Are you going to be blogging about how unfair he is to us and how we've been misunderstood?

  63. John, thank you for finding Chalke's "Redeeming the Cross" article. My link to it was broken.

    Chalke is careful in his words, and careful not to repudiate PSA entirely. He is clearly lukewarm about it. But the point he makes from Green and Baker is not that it is wrong but that it is not "an all-encompassing theory, the only correct and needed explanation of the atonement". And he clarifies that what he is referring to as "child abuse" is the version that Stott rejects, "a vengeful Father [subject] punishing his Son [object] for an offence he has not even committed". He concludes, very reasonably, that "It is important that we remember that whatever model or models of the atonement we favour, they are all simply metaphors designed to help us to gain glimpses into a great mystery." There is no suggestion that he does not include PSA, as properly understood, as one of those models or metaphors.

    Darren, the position I hold is more or less the same as I attribute to Chalke: PSA as rightly understood is one of several helpful models or metaphors of the atonement. But if you complain that Chalke is saying that your position "is dishonouring to God", why aren't you making exactly the same complaint against Stott, and calling him "unfit to be a Minister in the Church of Christ"?

  64. If that were the case Peter, he has not said so? Stott, does not deny PSA. I've read Cross of Christ, & other Stott stuff. He is clear, & John (Richardson) dealt with that passage above. Steve Chalke was pretty clear in saying he is denying PSA.

    "Models of atonement" isn't a helpful way of looking at things. Rather, they are interlocking achievements. How does Christus Victor model work? By dying in our place. How is he an example to us? Mark 10:45, or 1 Peter 2 (near the end), by dying in our place.

    Peter, why was there a fuss about Chalke & not about Stott? There are things that I disagree with about Stott! E.g. Hell. Although (typically) he was more nuanced than some on this. Certainly there are people out there who think Stott is quite liberal! But I've never heard them have a go at him on this one. Also, I have no real interest in defending Stott againt all odds. If he's shown to be a heretic on the cross I'd review my assessment of his theology. But given most of those who were troubled by Chalke's stuff, were advising people to read "The Cross of Christ", to get a full picture of the Cross... you might be reading one into the other. I know when we read someone that we like, we read in what we want to hear/see.

  65. Peter, we must be reading different Steve Chalkes.

  66. I think that's right John (& possibly a different John Stott, JI Packer & John Richardson too).

    It raises the issue I put on here the other week, I think to Peter about playing games. It seems that, in this case Peter, takes a very generous reading of Steve Chalke, imputing (sorry not very NPP) to him the best theology of which nobody can disagree (even if it means interpreting words and phrases with the opposite to their normal meaning) & being very defensive of any criticism. And at the same time having a very nit-picky attitude to what John has written. Remember, when people are disagreeing with, say, Steve Chalke, they are doing nothing different to what Steve Chalke (in this case) is doing with them. Saying, you've got it (badly) wrong.

    Now, be nit-picky with John, he's big enough and ugely enough to cope. But the consistency needs to flow back, or vice versa. The same has been true of others. "Oh, x is so hypo-critical of y" - then read into stuff in y that is just odd.

  67. Yes, John, we are reading different Chalkes. I am reading one who means what he writes, but sometimes doesn't choose his words as diplomatically as perhaps he ought. You are reading one who doesn't actually mean a word of what he writes, because you assume that he is part of a liberal conspiracy and write that you cannot trust him. If you insist on putting the worst possible construction on someone's words, you can usually find something against them. I prefer to trust them unless I can find a good reason not to.

  68. REALLY?? Like you did with John earlier?

    just found this, it talks about specific objections mentioned by Green/Chalke & answers them.

  69. And that's the end of this thread's usefulness, I think.