Friday, August 05, 2005

Steve Chalke on the grill...

...but this time not by orthodox evangelicals.

At the moment I am reading the infamous The Lost Message of Jesus by Steve Chalke and Alan Mann hoping obtain my own opinion of it. So far I am struck by how well written it is, how theological it is (rare in pop Christian books), and how most of that theology is a bit sub-Christian (in my opinion). I may return to my general thoughts on the book in future, but being a lazy blogger I like extensive quotes, and I really enjoyed this story of Chalke on BBC Radio Five Live and thought I would share it:

A few years ago I was taking part in a live debate on the BBC's Radio Five Live, Drive Time show. One of the stories the programme was covering was on the issue of adultery. As we chatted the presenter chipped in, "Why is God so miserable? Why has he got such a downer on everything we do?" And then, building into a real anti-God kind of rant, she added, "Don't do this and don't do that. Don's commit adultery. It's pathetic."

I interrupted her with a question. "Does the Bible really say, 'Don't commit adultery?'"

"Yes, it does," came her rapier reply.

"Well, I've never read that bit," I said.

You know very well it's in there," she retorted. "In fact, it's in there twice. It's one of the Ten Commandments."

Oh, now I know what you are talking about," I exclaimed. "It's just that I didn't recognize it at first because of the tone of voice you were using."

"What do you mean?" she asked.

"You're absolutely right," I continued. "God does say that we shouldn't commit adultery, but not in the way you've read it. You see, before he gives any of the Ten Commandments he introduces himself as the God who loves Israel. He lets them know that he is for them and not against them. He wants the best for them. God didn't sit in heaven making a list of all the things he knows human beings like to do and then outlaw them all to spoil our fun. Rather he knows the pain and heartache that we will cause others and ourselves if we pursue agendas that are contrary to the way he made us to be. The Ten Commandments is a loving God saying, 'Look, I am the God who loves you. I'm one your side. I got you out of slavery. I'm the best deal you've got going for you Trust me. Don't steak. Don't lie. Don't abandon me. Don't commit adultery, because if you do it will unleash destructive powers that will slowly over-shadow you, destroying you, your families and your society. Trust me. Don't be stupid.'"

(pp.52-53, Chalke, Steve, and Mann, Alan, The Lost Message of Jesus, Grand Rapids:Zondervan, 2003)

Of course the problem with sin is not just that it is bad for us, and the punishment for sin is not simply an outflowing of a foolish act. But I enjoyed that.

the lost message of Jesus?


At 4:07 pm, Blogger thebluefish said...

Makes me glad books like The Pleasures of God are selling reasonably well over here.... lets show people the happiness of God!

Look forward to your further reflections on Chalke. I've avoided the debate having not read the book. The bad press for it motivated me to get into Edwards.

At 11:59 am, Blogger Alastair said...

I must register my respect for your willingness to give Chalke a fair hearing before condemning him. Unfortunately few evangelicals extend such courtesies to their theological opponents.

At 4:05 pm, Blogger thebluefish said...

There is time for rebuke, but there is also time for gentle correction.

If we have anything it must be that we believe the gospel changes lives, God changes lives.


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