Steve Chalke’s Oasis Trust removed from Evangelical Alliance over the Bible and Homosexuality

In a statement reproduced in full below along with Oasis’ response, the Evangelical Alliance have today discontinued the membership of Oasis Trust, the organisation which Steve Chalke leads.

For a number of years now,  Steve Chalke, who was once the UK’s leading Evangelical figure has been drifting away from a typically Evangelical approach to the Bible. This began ten years ago when Steve Chalke rejected the traditional Evangelical view of what the cross accomplised as “cosmic child abuse.”


Background Articles

Chalke didn’t just change his own mind on what is commonly called penal substitution, but portrayed the opinion of the wider evangelical church as unacceptable. It was clear even then that he did not approach Scripture in the same way most Evangelicals always have. It is really that different approach that has led him to certain pronouncements about homosexuality, and more recently he has openly declared that on other subjects he believes the Bible got it wrong in lots of places. In particular he believes that each time the Bible says God struck someone dead because of their sin, this is actually a mistaken interpretation by the writers of the Bible.

In an article where I attempt to answer the question “What is an Evangelical” I outline what I believe is a fairly typical approach to the Bible. It is hard to see how Chalke would be able to uphold such a perspective on the Bible given his comments in his recent debate with Andrew Wilson.

An EA spokesman also pointed to the following article which explains their position on the Evangelical approach to Scripture, which most outside observers would agree seems different to Steve Chalke’s approach.

I do think it is important to acknowledge that at times in the past the way that churches have approached the issue of homosexuality, and individuals who are gay, has been unhelpful. However,  a group of evangelical pastors who describe themselves as experiencing same-sex attraction report that their experience is very different from the media caricature. They tell their story in the website Living Out.

Sam Allberry, one of the founders of Living Out and the author of Is God Anti Gay responded to today’s news as follows,

Today’s announcement from the EA is less about a particular stance on homosexuality than it is an affirmation of what Christians have always believed about the Bible – that it is God’s clear and good word for us all. Their statement will be a great encouragement to the many of us who experience same-sex attraction and yet who hold to the classic biblical understanding of human sexuality. I’m thankful for their leadership and care in what must have been a hard decision. We need to hold to what has always been defining for evangelicals – the ‘evangel’, the good news of Christ’s invitation to all broken and weary people to find true rest and satisfaction in him.

The reality is that there is a broad spectrum of views today among professing Christians about how followers of Jesus should approach human sexuality. Reading between the lines, what seems to have caused a concern to the EA is not so much Chalke’s views, as his approach to the Bible, and the perception that he was campaigning for the whole Evangelical Church to change its doctrine.

To my mind the real reason Steve Chalke had to be expelled from the EA is that for some years now he has been approaching the Bible in a very different way to that which Evangelicals typically do. He approaches the Bible in very much the same way as a liberal or “Progressive Christian.”  I don’t understand why Steve Chalke has wanted to persist in holding onto the label Evangelical when he doesn’t really look like one. It  just seems to me that if something walks like a duck, quacks like a duck, and swims like a duck, we would be foolish to try and pretend it was a horse!

 

Evangelical Alliance Statement  LINK

It is with sadness that the Evangelical Alliance have discontinued the membership of Oasis Trust.

Having heard the concerns expressed by the Alliance’s board and council as to what has been perceived by some as a campaign to change the Church’s historic view on human sexuality, the Oasis board did clarify their position as having ‘no corporate view on this matter’.

However they were unwilling to fulfil the council’s request to adjust the content of their website/resources and social media output to equally profile the traditional Christian view.

After many months of prayerful discussion, the Evangelical Alliance council concluded that a relationship between an organisation and one of its members in which the member felt it could not comply with a reasonable request from council, was not tenable.

The Evangelical Alliance council remain deeply respectful of the work and achievements of the Oasis Trust and have a strong desire to avoid any unseemly dispute and to speak well of each other.

 

Oasis Trust’s Statement LINK

“The Board of Oasis is deeply saddened by the decision of the Evangelical Alliance to remove Oasis from its membership. We would like to take this moment to restate our profound belief that the ethos, values and mission of Oasis sit firmly within the evangelical tradition.

“The Evangelical Alliance made its decision following comments by the Founder of Oasis, Rev Steve Chalke, calling for an open and generous acceptance of people with sexualities other than heterosexual as well as to affirm and support all those who seek to live within faithful, lifelong, monogamous relationships. When making these comments, he argued that they had come from a deep understanding of the overarching message of scripture and has subsequently written about the importance of moving towards a more affirming, compassionate, rounded and thoughtful approach to the Bible, humanity and sexuality.

“At no point has anyone within Oasis tried to impose the Founder’s view on Oasis staff, volunteers or church members (let alone anyone else) and, as such, the board of Oasis continues to give Steve their full support in his quest to seek an open and honest conversation amongst the Church on these issues and on how to restore society’s confidence in the Bible more generally.

“Since the publication of his article ‘A Matter of Integrity’ in January 2013 the Oasis board has been in an on-going conversation with the Evangelical Alliance.  At their request, we have made several changes to our online content and believed that we had reached a point where both parties could be satisfied that our relationship would continue.  We are, therefore, disappointed  by their announcement  but will continue to seek and enjoy a warm relationship with the breadth of the Christian Church in Britain and across the world, forming partnerships to lift people and communities out of poverty and exclusion, and seeking to demonstrate the love of God to all through practical service.”

 

 

About Adrian Warnock

Adrian Warnock is a medical doctor, a writer, and a member of Jubilee Church, London since 1995, where he serves as part of the leadership team alongside Tope Koleoso. Together they have written Hope Reborn - How to Become a Christian and Live for Jesus, published by Christian Focus. Adrian is also the author of Raised With Christ - How The Resurrection Changes Everything, published by Crossway. Read more about Adrian Warnock or connect with him on Twitter, Facebook or Google+.

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  • http://www.gentlewisdom.org/ Peter Kirk

    The Evangelical Alliance seems to have abandoned its published Statement of Faith. They no longer hold to “The divine inspiration and supreme authority of the Old and New Testament Scriptures”, but to “The divine inspiration and supreme authority of our interpretation of the Old and New Testament Scriptures”. And their actions contradict their claimed belief in “The dignity of all people, made male and female in God’s image” by rejecting those “calling for an open and generous acceptance of people with sexualities other than heterosexual”. I am reconsidering my membership, after nearly 30 years.

    • http://adrianwarnock.com/ Adrian Warnock

      Peter, I think that its clear Chalke is calling for a bit more than open and generous acceptance of people like my good friend Sam Allberry. It seems to me from his comments that firstly he believes the Bible is full of errors (he thinks for example that every time God is said to have struck someone dead that is simply wrong) and he is calling for ALL evangelicals to reject the church’s traditional teaching on sexuality as outdated.

      • http://www.gentlewisdom.org/ Peter Kirk

        Adrian, read what Steve actually wrote about God striking people dead, quoted and linked to at http://www.gentlewisdom.org/5437/evangelical-alliance-rejects-oasis/. Yes, people do call on “ALL evangelicals” to accept their partisan positions on secondary matters, but that is not grounds to expel them from the EA.

        • http://adrianwarnock.com/ Adrian Warnock

          I watched the debate with Andrew Wilson when he said that God did not strike Annainas and Saphira dead!

          • http://www.gentlewisdom.org/ Peter Kirk

            Adrian, I didn’t watch the debate. Did he say this explicitly? Or did he ask a question, like “Did God order this death or did Moses mishear him?” which I quoted? There is a world of difference between stimulating thought and denying doctrine.

          • http://adrianwarnock.com/ Adrian Warnock

            He said he did not believe God ever strikes people dead and that where the Bible said he does it was wrong

      • Phil Warburton

        Adrian. Should evangelicals kill people if they believe God them to?

    • MyGoatyBeard

      Peter. Presumably you are reconsidering your membership on the basis that you think the EA is wrong? Divisive? Are you right to separate yourself from Christians who you think have made a mistake?

      On what basis is it reasonable to resign one’s membership?

      • http://www.gentlewisdom.org/ Peter Kirk

        MyGoatyBeard, that’s a good question, and one reason why I am not rushing to resign. But for me not to renew my membership of a voluntary organisation is not on the same level as for an organisation to expel another one. I would not be condemning the EA as false teachers, just choosing no longer to identify myself with what they are promoting.

  • cocoloba

    The EA strap line is “better together” may be a prophetic statement

  • http://aremonstrantsramblings.wordpress.com/ Episcopius

    Thanks for the helpful summary Adrian and well done to the EA. Whereas some may be considering leaving the EA I am now tempted to become a member.

  • Alan Molineaux

    Still a lot of assumptions here. Is anyone going to answer the question why the EA say that they represent ‘the’ 2 million evangelicals in the UK when they clearly don’t.

    Their own survey about a decade ago showed 27% either disagreeing with their position on homosexuality or unsure.

    There is a lot of talk about what evangelicals ‘should’ believe but if that can only be achieved by excluding different voices what value is it.

    • http://adrianwarnock.com/ Adrian Warnock

      Alan, to me the point is much simpler. It is not so much what he thinks on this issue as his liberal approach to interpreting Scripture. Did you watch the video of him debating wilson on God striking people dead?

      • Alan Molineaux

        So you are saying that all 2million other evangelicals that the EA say they represent agree on how to interpret the bible.

        It’s not that I agree with everything Steve says in the interview but I object to people excluding Steve for voicing something that many evangelicals have questions about.

        Once you use exclusion it is unlikely that people in your own church will tell you what they truly feel.

        Silencing people just makes it look like you have won the argument.

        Is hidden views of your people what you want to achieve or is open honest discussion.

      • Cecilia Davidson

        Anyone THAT willing to simplify an issue is willing to do other things in the SUPPOSED name of Jesus. Sexuality and gender expression (as well as gender role) is a rather complex issue and it’s better to have questions than force answers.

      • Phil Warburton

        Adrian. I watched it. I think Steve lost the debate on the day but I don’t think his position was liberal. He believed in the historic events but non necessarily it was God’s will. This is because he takes Jesus very seriously. He cannot imagine Jesus ordering genocide. If we can imagine that then we believe he could do it today.

        Are we as Evangelicals saying that the God we know in Christ is the God of genocide? (If we do let’s be honest and put on our Christmas posters.)

        The debate with Steve came down to story of Ananias and Sapphira. On reflection I think this was Peter’s doing. (whatever is loosed on earth is loosed in heaven – keys – etc). And humbly and with some trepidation I think he got it wrong.

        Indeed I know of leaders today who have prayed for a member of their church to die. I believe such a prayer may be effective but it is not Christian or I hope evangelical.

        • Indanum C

          “He cannot imagine Jesus ordering genocide.” Paul W., Have you ever heard about God’s wrath? It is terrifying!

          God is LOVE but God is also JUST. What happened during Noah’s time? Except for his family, everyone died when He flooded the Earth. The Lord saw how great the wickedness of the human race had become on the earth, and that every inclination of the thoughts of the human heart was only evil all the time. The Lord regretted that he had made human beings on the earth, and his heart was deeply troubled. So the Lord said, “I will wipe from the face of the earth the human race I have created—and with them the animals, the birds and the creatures that move along the ground—for I regret that I have made them.” But Noah found favor in the eyes of the Lord. (Gen. 6:5-8)

          What happened with Sodom & Gomorrah! Wiped out for their immoral practices & sinful living! Only Lot & his family was saved. The Canaanites deserved their fate because they were polluted with evil practices such as the horror of sacrificing children. He used the Israelites to extract judgement on them and used other societies to administer justice to the Israelites for their continued disobedience & idolatry. If you read your Bible, you would know this.

          We need to learn about God’s attributes & character by reading the Bible ourselves to know what is written. To confirm if your pastor/minister is preaching the Truth or half Truths. They have more accountability since they can lead their flocks to eternal damnation or eternal life. Some will only preach what the congregation likes to hear, some adhere to political correctness & compromise the Truth.

          God does love the sinner but He hates SIN. We are all sinful by nature so there are no innocent people and that is the main reason Jesus died for our sins past, present & future.Only through God’s mercy & forgiveness are we saved through Jesus Christ.

          • Stevie D

            Quote:
            “He cannot imagine Jesus ordering genocide.” Paul W., Have you ever heard about God’s wrath? It is terrifying!God is LOVE but God is also JUST

            Isn’t that exactly the argument of militant Islam?
            Allah wants you all to live peacefully by his rules; but is wrathful and will kill you if you behave like the Canaanites/apostates of various colours.

  • duhsciple

    I join Steve Chalke’s interpretation of the scriptures. Deuteronomy 7 clearly orders the murder of all the Canaanites, every man, woman and child. Show them no mercy. Leave them no survivors. There is no ambiguity. The text claims this is the Voice of God. And yet…

    In Matthew 15, Jesus clearly heals a Canaanite woman’s daughter. Either God changed God’s mind. Or, even better, we see the full revelation of God in Jesus Christ.

    See Michael Hardin and Derek Flood who both show how Jesus and Paul, when interpreting the scriptures, remove retributive quotations, showing God as loving, restorative, and nonviolent.

    We are in a time, across the Abrahamic religions, where it is very important to see God as being revealed as consistently practicing nonviolent, agape love.

    See also the work of Rene Girard, Sharon Baker, Anthony Bartlett, Suzanne Ross, Adam Ericksen, James Alision, Walter Wink, and others.

    • Phil Warburton

      Thank you for the Matthew 15 thought. I think those who argue that the Bible authors always hear God right have much bigger questions to answer. What I do believe about scripture is that it gets the person of Jesus right. I go from there and try and understand Deut 7 from there. Those who start from Deut 7 and say Jesus is like that have a much bigger
      problem to work through.

  • Cecilia Davidson

    I’m with Chalke in this case. It seems the author of this blog is in line with every other Evangelical who wants to oust everyone who dares to say “we’re doing something wrong if we’re excluding people.” I mean, JOHN 3:16, right? God so loved the world, not the elect.

    • http://adrianwarnock.com/ Adrian Warnock

      Jesus said, “On that day many will say to me, ‘Lord, Lord, did we not prophesy in your name, and cast out demons in your name, and do many mighty works in your name?’ And then will I declare to them, ‘I never knew you; depart from me, you workers of lawlessness.’” (Matthew 7:22-23)

      • Cecilia Davidson

        And there you go, defining who a Christian is.

    • BT

      I’m with you. I would also take Adrian’s passage below in a different direction. My gut is that many on the evangelical right are doing lots of “prophesying” but aren’t really that open to being known by God. I’m inclined to be more gracious toward Chalke and much more harsh toward standard American evangelicalism.

  • duhsciple

    Steve Chalke is headed in a more Christ like direction. Hosea 6:6, a privileged verse quoted in Matthew 9:9.

    G-d is not Janus faced, as many of us evangelicals have envisioned him


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