Prominent British evangelical leader, Steve Chalke, has publicly declared that he has changed his mind regarding what the Bible teaches about the sin of homosexuality.
Chalke is the founder of Oasis UK and pastor of Oasis Church Waterloo. Stating that he has formed his new opinion “not out of any disregard for the Bible’s authority, but by way of grappling with it and, through prayerful reflection, seeking to take it seriously,” Chalke questions the biblical text in an article on his charity’s website and challenges the church to be more accepting of homosexuals and their lifestyle:
Rather than condemn and exclude, can we dare to create an environment for homosexual people where issues of self-esteem and wellbeing can be talked about; where the virtues of loyalty, respect, interdependence and faithfulness can be nurtured, and where exclusive and permanent same-sex relationships can be supported?
Tolerance is not the same as Christ-like love. Christ-like love calls us to go beyond tolerance to want for the other the same respect, freedom, and equality one wants for oneself. We should find ways to formally support and encourage those who are in, or wish to enter into, faithful same-sex partnerships, as well as in their wider role as members of Christ’s body.
Chalke’s change of opinion has not gone unnoticed, as Steve Clifford, the general director of the Evangelical Alliance, has responded in disagreement:
Generations of Christians have faced the challenge of making the gospel relevant within their cultural settings. The danger we all face, and I fear Steve has succumbed to, is that we produce ‘a god’ in our own likeness or in the likeness of the culture in which we find ourselves.
Steve’s approach to biblical interpretation allows for a god in the likeness of 21st century Western-European mindsets. His call for “Christ-like inclusion” is not radical enough in its inclusiveness. We all come to the gospel in our brokenness, with an attachment to things, self-centeredness, addictions, fears and pride. We all need a saviour in every area of our lives, including our sexuality. We all live with pain. The radical inclusiveness of the gospel means we are all welcomed. In a wonderful grace-filled process we find repentance and forgiveness and Christ commits himself through the work of the Holy Spirit to bring transformation to our lives – a life-long process.
While Chalke writes that his newfound views on the sin of homosexuality are a result of seeking to take seriously the Bible’s authority, history already has demonstrated that Chalke scorns the truths of Scripture as he sought a decade ago to reject the doctrine of penal substitution. Dr. Carl Trueman elaborates, noting that Chalke’s downward progression is an example that “doctrinal minimalism…is inherently volatile.”
Chalke is a good example: in the past, he was revolted by the idea that God could be angry with sin; that requires a redefinition not only of salvation but also of sin itself. Those who reject God as angry with sin tend, historically, to reduce sin to disrupted relationships between human beings. Sin is thus not what drives people away from God, as it is in the Bible, but that which drives them away from each other. On such an account, it is not homosexuality which is sin but the repression or coercive prevention of the same. Chalke is being very consistent with the deepest implicit structures of his theology. Source
The evolved position of Steve Chalke on the issue of homosexuality, as well as his reinterpretation of the biblical text, both are matters with which the Church can expect to be confronted time and again. As such, each Christian must daily equip himself with the armor of God as described by the Apostle Paul in Ephesians 6. Once well-armed, addressing these real and relevant concerns of the day may perhaps be viewed by the Christian as ideal opportunities to not only stand firmly and confidently upon the truths of Scripture, but to clearly articulate the saving gospel of Jesus Christ and repentance and forgiveness of sins through faith in Him alone.