I have been invited to join Steve Chalke on Sunday at Christ Church Woking to discuss the theme “How can we be a Jesus-shaped church whilst profoundly disagreeing on the issue of same sex relationships?“. The conversation will be chaired by Justin Brierley, host of the Unbelievable show on Premier Radio and will cover issues such as some of the basic Biblical issues, pastoral concerns and an opportunity for those in the congregation to submit questions for us both to answer.
The conversation will take place within a service to celebrate the close of the Week of Prayer for Christian Unity and will begin at 3pm on Sunday. Everyone is welcome to come along, but please be aware that the format is very much a conversation rather than a debate.
See you there!
Down in my hood, bro! (okay, I live 15 miles away) I’ll be there! ;-)
Will this be recorded for those of us who happen to be on the other side of the Atlantic?
I believe it will be recorded. I don’t know though when (or if) it will be published publicly.
Well Justin announced that next Saturday’s Unbelievable podcast would be on the subject of homosexuality but that he was not free to say any more (last Saturday), so I guess they do intend to use it on Unbelievable. Well done, it’ a great show and Justin is very good at chairing even-handedly
At least I think he said the next topic was homosexuality and I thought that was slated for tomorrow…….but the I see your discussion isn’t till Sunday, so it may be a different event he has in mind.
This event was only put in place on Wednesday, so it might be he just broadcasts the “podcast” of Steve Chalke and others discussing this issue.
How can we be a Jesus-shaped church whilst profoundly disagreeing on the issue of same sex relationships?
Um, Chalke has put himself outside the church, right? Right??
Wrong. Chalke only reminds everyone to ask “What is the church?”
And this is why I am beginning to despair. Not because a false teacher teaches false doctrine that will lead people into sin, but because Christians who believe the truth are so blase about it.
Peter, I and others are looking to you to make a clear statement that there is no church that has you and Steve Chalke in it.
I’m sorry, I don’t understand what it is you expect me to do.
Pleeeze don’t let him get away with the trite blandishments the LGBT spokeswoman trotted out:
“Many theologians have begun to question the traditional understanding of the biblical texts” > Well the Liberal ones have… but they would do!
“We eat shrimps and wear polycotton though that’s banned in Leviticus” > We decided *in the 16th century* that Jewish religious and civil laws don’t apply for Christians, but the moral laws do!!
“arsenakoi and malakoi didn’t mean what you say they mean” > Well you would say that… but where’s the proof?
“But God loves everyone” > YES HE DOES!! God loves Everyone – Good or Bad, Right or Wrong!
“Some people are naturally attracted to people of the same sex” > Well, I might feel like I want to have sex with a man, but my body is only kitted out for sex with a woman.. (So is my body homophobic, or are my desires the issue?)
Posted to ‘A Matter of Integrity’ comment thread last night. Hope this helps to show how a more gracious kind of exchange can prevail in future debates:
‘Firstly, I believe that our exchange of thoughts can hold forth a better pattern of graciousness than has often typified religious debates. However, strenuously we may contend, to me, rule one is that my own conduct towards others, including you, should leave a more lasting positive impression than my sharpness of mind. I can only meet your thoughtful apology with the reminder that since weâ€™ve both probably run up a hefty moral overdraft with God, any sense of personal offence rates as a petty cash! Consider it forgotten.
You say: â€˜Given that you seem quite at ease in using cultural explanations concerning this verse, it is surprising (to me) that more people arenâ€™t prepared to explore cultural explanations when it comes to homosexual behaviours condemned in the Bible.â€™
Iâ€™ll address the Levitical prohibitions. The law is a mixture of direct revelation (Ten Commandments), ritual patterns that give an ancient people a rich culture of sacrificial symbolism and Moses-mediated concessions that recognise the Israelites as a mix of faithful and fallible people, some with short-sighted purposes who are evolving from an existing civil life and culture. The Mosaic divorce concession is a good example of how parts of the law are a negotiated compromise with God. The approach to slavery and the role of women are the same.
Yet, Moses reminds them of a future Mediator that would make the Mosaic settlement provisional: â€˜A prophet shall the Lord your God raise up unto you of your brethren, like unto me; him shall ye hear.(Deut 18:15) Christ had the authority to not only end the earthly symbolism with the perpetual remembrance of the cosmic impact of His heavenly sacrifice. He could also, like Moses, broker a New Settlement on new terms though His blood. â€˜The son of man is even Lord of the Sabbathâ€™. So, our only knowledge of what remains in force as an expectation of this life empowered by Godâ€™s grace and what now remains expressly forbidden (e.g. divorce for any cause) is the written record of His chosen witnesses. Of course, there is much of todayâ€™s world that is extra-biblical and quite permissible. However, there is much that is contra-biblical and remains prohibited.
I donâ€™t think that most evangelicals hold to such a fundamentalist position as to discount the importance of cultural influences. Most evangelicals do, however, recognise that any prophet in the scriptures, while addressing his own contemporary experience can be carried far beyond his immediate context and original intention to express Godâ€™s omniscient mind before another audience much further along in time: â€˜for prophecy never had its origin in the will of man, but men spoke from God as they were carried along by the Holy Spirit. (2 Pet. 1:21). Balaam wants to curse Israel, but finds he can only bless them.
The Ethiopian eunuch considered that Isaiahâ€™s lament of the Suffering Servant (Is. 53:7,8) might be no more than decrying his own future persecution at the hands of the apostate king of Judah, Manasseh: He asks Philip, â€œTell me, please, who is the prophet talking about, himself or someone else?â€ As Philip and all Christians accept, Isaiah realised that the unrestrained truth of God revealed in His Messiah would be ultimately reach its climactic battle in an access of the worst of mortal enmity towards God 700-odd years later. Peter explains this teleological curiosity about their prophetic revelations: â€˜trying to find out the time and circumstances to which the Spirit of Christ in them was pointing when he predicted the sufferings of Christ and the glories that would follow.â€™ (1 Pet. 1:11) Committing their history to a written record was also for the admonition of future generations: â€˜These things happened to them as examples and were written down as warnings for us, on whom the fulfilment of the ages has comeâ€™ (1 Cor. 10:11)
As he wrote to the Romans, Paul is â€˜carried alongâ€™ in same way. He begins his epistle to the Romans with customary salutations and expresses his personal and spiritual motivations for wanting to reach them in person. As with the â€˜leitourgosâ€™ who undertook a personal obligation to fund a public benefit, like a new navy fleet, from their accumulated wealth, Paulâ€™s accumulation of God-given insight imposes a responsibility on him to reach Jews and Greeks alike with the gospel. Habakkuk promised his Jewish contemporaries, trapped in an exile devoid of temple worship, that there was a faith that did not rely on those public externalisms; one that would restore them to their promised land and to full amnesty from the past. So too, Paul reminded his converts, in this time of moral exile, of Godâ€™s ultimate amnesty towards them, if they maintained a similar dependence: â€˜the just shall live by faithâ€™!
Paul is now ready to soar aloft. His purview is now celestial as he surveys the compounded guilt of mankind against God that makes his mission universal. There is no sense of addressing a pressing practical matter of church order. This is Paul in full flight driving home the universal need for a Saviour: â€˜The wrath of God is being revealed from heaven against all the godlessness and wickedness of men who suppress the truth by their wickedness, since what may be known about God is plain to them, because God has made it plain to them. For since the creation of the world Godâ€™s invisible qualitiesâ€”his eternal power and divine natureâ€”have been clearly seen, being understood from what has been made, so that men are without excuse. (Rom. 1:18 â€“ 20). Paul is charting an unfolding judicial alienation, in present indicative passive tense. literally, retribution is being revealed by God against all rebellion of mankind. Paul is saying (contrary to the characteristic bolt from the sky), retribution is an active principle in human affairs, it is revealed when we start to do as we please, as the pangs of regret and inklings of a future come-uppance recede from thought. It is characterised by that descent into a sociopathic indifference in pursuit of our own interest called hardness of heart. The indiscriminate homosexual acts are the final throes, but that does not mean that a more stable same-sex pairing (e.g. pederasty with an older adolescent) is not part of the progression.
This is the universal course of human reprobation without the intervention of grace that makes Godâ€™s mission of amnesty in Christ a universal cause. Yet, no sooner has he roused Gentile consciences in chapter 1, than, in chapter 2, he sets upon the complacency those whose ancestry and pedigree might confer a knowledge of true morality. If anything, *this* is the charge than can be levelled at the church. Paul claims that the history of those blessed with even greater light, as much as Gentiles, is equally overshadowed by the same shameless chronicle of human wickedness. â€˜You who say that people should not commit adultery, do you commit adultery? You who abhor idols, do you rob temples*?â€™ *heirosyleis, covetous misappropriation of sacred gifts. Paul states that covetousness IS idolatry (Col. 3:5)
All people, regardless of orientation, have participated in this failure to look beyond and through the immediate, sensory and transient to see and mirror in their lives the transcendent, ever self-giving God, . We still feel that, if we give too generously, the vast stream of divine providence towards us will dry up. So we conserve resources with meanness and at the expense of genuine need elsewhere. We too bow to worldly powers and temporal fixes that will secure our short-sighted happiness, advancement and escape from the vagaries of this unpredictable temporal world. We too vaunt and pursue the goal of an artificial idealised environment of total security and sensory comfort. We too idealise love as an environment in which we pursue the often immoral dictates of compulsive sensory fulfilment. We too prize physical well-being and beauty as much as the Greeks did, and more so than character development and self-denial. We too worship and serve the creature more than the creator, who is to be thanked forever.
Same-sex acts are the final concomitant symptom of a world relinquished to promote its goal of sensory fulfilment above congruence with the divine order revealed in our originating nature. Romans 1 is not just about temple prostitutes, it is a detailed pathology of our moral decline apart from the intervention of grace.
The thing I noticed throughout the conversation today (and I could wrong) was the frustration in SC’s voice whenever he made a point – as if he was exasperated by the need to explain himself to an evangelical audience that “everyone knows” are a bit behind the curve on this subject. My gut feeling is that within a few years he will be post-evangelical on a much wider range of issues than the “nature of inclusion”.
He also deftly dodged responding to any questions on gay marriage – even though he was willing to conduct a blessing service for a civil partnership last year.
It is disingenuous to say, rhetorically, that a couple in a civil partnership asked him to pray for them and what was he to do? The fact is that the blessing service is an affirmation.
Among the Oasys ‘inclusion’ resources there is an Order of Service for a Commitment and Blessing Service following a Civil Partnership. It parodies the marriage rites, yet Steve Chalke claimed that he wasn’t necessarily in favour of gay marriage.
In almost televangelist manner, he read from the list of sins in Romans 1: ‘They have become filled with every kind of wickedness, evil, greed and depravity. They are full of envy, murder, strife, deceit and malice. They are gossips, 30slanderers, God-haters, insolent, arrogant and boastful; they invent ways of doing evil; they disobey their parents; 31they are senseless, faithless, heartless, ruthless.’ and asked us to imagine whether this could be said of John, the typical homosexual whom we know and love.
The reality is that Romans 1 charts the descent of man devoid of the societal effect by the gospel. Paul contrasts the effect of divine wrath (Rom. 1:18 – 32) with the efficacy of the gospel: the power of God that results in salvation.
Finally, the analogy of our rejection of biblical attitudes towards slavery is poor one. The Old Testament involve direct revelation and Moses- brokered concessions for human intransigence at that time. Slavery was a concession of that kind. By the first century, as Peter Ould rightly said, Philemon is gently, but firmly persuaded to receive Onesimus back as a brother.
The character of marriage is based on the Genesis archetype: an enduring pattern that Christ applied to the question of re-marriage. It equally applies to whether the church should affirm homosexual relationships.
Steve Chalke is a master of sound-bites. In the light of eternity, this is his only pyrrhic victory.
I read Richard Lovelace’s 1979 book ‘Homosexuality and the Church’ last year and was surprised to discover all of the revisionist arguments date from the late 1960s and were openly debated in churches in the 1970s. Nothing new has been brought to conservation for a long while – the same points have just been repeated enough times for them to take on the appearance of being true.