I reported here a while back that Bishop Broadbent, leader of the Spring Harvest team, has accepted that disagreements over Steve Chalke played at least some role in the split between Word Alive and Spring Harvest. Today the UCCF issued a follow-up statement on their website which seems to aim to be conciliatory.
There is still no official statement or comment from Spring Harvest itself as an organisation in response to the ones from UCCF. Neither has Steve Chalke replied to the following question I asked him via the Oasis press office in light of the current controversy and N. T.Wright’s intervention:-“Was N. T. Wright correct to say that you hold to a form of penal substitutionary atonement? If so, how do you reconcile that with your previous statements in follow-up articles to your book that it was penal substitutionary atonement that you described as ‘cosmic child abuse’?”
Here is the full text of today’s UCCF statement:
Word Alive — the past and the future
Since the recent Word Alive event in partnership with Spring Harvest, there has been much print given to the reasons for the split and these have unfortunately led to a range of complexities, distortions and disputes about the issues. In the meantime, UCCF, Keswick Ministries and Spring Harvest were approached with an offer of independent, formal mediation with a view to producing a joint, clarifying statement. UCCF and Keswick both accepted this offer but Spring Harvest unfortunately declined.
Since there is now no prospect of a formal objective procedure to clear up some of the details, we see no point in perpetuating this dispute any further. We admit that we have unwittingly contributed to it by giving the impression that the Word Alive committee rejected a specific request to allow Steve Chalke on the Word Alive platform in 2007. A request for Steve Chalke to be acceptable to Word Alive (following his signing of the updated EA Doctrinal Basis) actually had been made in general but not in specific terms to the Word Alive committee on 17th May 2006. We apologise for unintentionally being misleading about this.While there had been niggles with Spring Harvest on other matters over the years, all parties had managed to live with them. It was made quite clear to us by Spring Harvest that the decisive issue, which caused them to end the partnership now, was our refusal to allow Steve Chalke to share our platform because of his unorthodox views on the atonement and the way he expresses them.
Other statements, which we previously made, have been disputed but on reviewing those matters, we see no good reason to change them, but we will not rehearse them again here. Others are responsible for their own statements, and although they may have emerged out of genuine misunderstandings, we feel they have not helped. (We note that not everyone was in attendance at every relevant meeting.) Since we cannot achieve the all round clarity we desire, we do not want to look backwards any longer on this unhappy episode but press on towards the future, which is a new Word Alive event in partnership between UCCF and Keswick. Furthermore, we want to wish Spring Harvest well and thank them for all they have done to make Word Alive the great success it has been.
The new Word Alive event will take place at Phwhelli in North Wales (it is pronounced something like “Porth – helly”) from 7-11 April 2008. Confirmed speakers include Don Carson, John Piper and Terry Virgo. A full programme for all the family, including crèche facilities, children and teens groups as well as our vibrant student track, is currently being arranged. We are greatly looking forward to the new event and the opportunity it gives us to develop the Word Alive conference. END