Friday, November 30, 2007

Scary Words From Evangelicals

“How then have we come to believe that at the cross this God of love suddenly decides to vent his anger and wrath on his own son? The fact is that the cross isn’t a form of cosmic child abuse — a vengeful father punishing his son for an offense he has not even committed. Understandably, both people inside and outside of the church have found this twisted version of events morally dubious and a huge barrier to faith." Steve Chalke

“What I think I can say is, and this is where I get into trouble, I’m not so sure that when this life is over that all possibilities for salvation are over.”
Tony Campolo

“It is possible for someone who does not know Jesus to be saved.”
Dallas Willard

“For too many people the name Jesus has become a symbol of exclusion, as if Jesus statement ‘I am the way, and the truth, and the life; no one comes to the Father except through me’ actually means, ‘I am in the way of people seeking truth and life. I wont let anyone get to God unless he comes through me.’”
Brian McLaren

“Could you elaborate on your personal theory of atonement? If God wanted to forgive us, why didn’t he just forgive us? Why did torturing Jesus make things better?”
Question addressed to Brian McLaren on his website (answered below)

“This is such an important and difficult question. I’d recommend, for starters, you read “Recovering the Scandal of the Cross” (by Baker and Green). There will be a sequel to this book in the next year or so, and I’ve contributed a chapter to it. Short answer: I think the gospel is a many faceted diamond, and atonement is only one facet, and legal models of atonement (which predominate in western Christianity) are only one small portion of that one facet. Dallas Willard also addresses this issue in ‘The Divine Conspiracy.’ Atonement-centered understandings of the gospel, he says, create vampire Christians who want Jesus for his blood and little else. He calls us to move beyond a ‘gospel of sin management’ — to the gospel of the kingdom of God. So, rather than focusing on an alternative theory of atonement, I’d suggest we ponder the meaning and mission of the kingdom of God.”
Brian McLaren’s answer to the above question

Younger evangelicals disenchanted with the institution of the church and seeking refuge in the "conversation" of the emerging movement would do well to heed the words of Francis Shaeffer:

“If we do not make clear by word and by practice our position for truth and against false doctrine we are building a wall between the next generation and the gospel.”

I'm concerned that some biblically orthodox evangelicals are too easily dismissing the influence of the emergent conversation. While there may be some redeeming elements to the movement, the reality is that the leadership of this movement, as demonstrated above, is moving far from the center of what have been historic orthodox beliefs. We cannot ignore the influence that the emerging church is having on Western Christianity. Perhaps that quotations from above will heighten our awareness of the battle brewing for orthodoxy within the Church.


At 3:59 PM , Blogger Glenn said...


I will say that I'm not fully convinced that Chalke was trying to put down the doctrine of substitutionary atonement. According to Steve Chalke and N.T. Wright, Chalke was trying to deal with this mis-conception that people have in their minds, as though the cross was "cosmic child abuse".

Have you read Wright's comments on this in Tevin's interview for Said @ Southern? Here is the link

Wright on Penal Substitution

This is the part of the interview I'm referring to...

"And the one-liner which he drops in was not, in its origin, a way of saying, “I don’t believe in penal substitution.” It was a way of ruling out of court to one side a distortion of penal substitution which he has heard, which I have heard – the idea of God simply wanting to punish somebody and not caring too much who it was. Oh, well, here’s an innocent man. Let’s punish him and that will be alright, won’t it? Sadly, there are many Christians who preach the doctrine like that.

Steve knows, from his experience on the street, that that just doesn’t do it. People just don’t get it. And if a rather careful conservative evangelical comes back and says, “Well that’s because the gospel is always offensive…” Is it the gospel that’s being offensive? Or is it your distortion of it that’s being offensive? And that’s the question.

I know… I then phoned Steve Chalke and asked last February or March sometime and I said, “Steve, we haven’t talked about this since all the furor, but I’ve just reread your book and I came to that one line, and it seems to me that you were saying, I’m not going with that distortion, but that you weren’t ruling out the kind of thing that I say in chapter 12 of Jesus and the Victory of God, which is a massive demonstration that Jesus had the whole agenda of Isaiah 53 present to his conscious vocational mind.” And Steve said, “Of course, I’m agreeing with that. I was just ruling out the distortion.”

The trouble is, Steve is not a theologian. So, when he gets interviewed, he is an engaging, extrovert, outgoing guy. So he sends sentences winging off into the unknown this way and that, and people then collect them and say, “There you are! He’s denied it again, etc.” So I’ve had people come back to me and say, “This really won’t do.”

Actually, this is displacement activity. The people going after Steve Chalke… the real problem, I really want to stress this, is that we’re looking at an evangelicalism that has forgotten what the Gospels are there for."


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