Easter Reflections

Last week I had some unexpected holiday sprung on me, which was really nice – I had nothing planned and nowhere in particular to go … this meant lots of lie-ins (in theory), some PS2 games, lots of music, lots of quality time spent with a certain person ūüôā and lots of time to think.

On Good Friday I went to¬†“An Hour at the cross” service at Holy Trinity Platt, the big evangelical C of E church round the corner from my house and it really got me thinking (!) about how much there is to the Cross of Jesus Christ, his death and resurrection.¬† Christians so often casually throw out “Jesus died on the cross for our sins” or a similar line, which makes it sound like a perfectly normal and every day event.¬†

It’s also a subject at the centre of a fierce theological debate at the moment.¬† Steve Chalke and Jeffrey John have quite publicly rejected the idea of “penal substitionary atonement” that is, that Jesus was punished by God on the cross for humanity’s sin.¬† Chalke even compares such an idea to being “cosmic child abuse” in his book The Lost Message of Jesus.¬† Responses have come thick and fast from Ben Cooper’s¬† Just Love which argues that a loving and just God must punish sin and a new book Pierced for our Transgressions by Steve Jeffery, Mike Ovey and Andrew Sach (not Manuel from Fawlty Towers).

To my mind, the Chalke/John position is thoroughly untenable and inconsistent with Biblical teaching.¬† John has even gone as far as to question the mental stability of the Psalmist in some of his writings.¬† But more on this later …

This, incidentally is why I have been boycotting Spring Harvest over the last few years.  That the Leadership of Spring Harvest has comprehensively failed to admonish and hold Chalke to account for his teaching error and instead shown their approval for his teaching by allowing him to remain on the leadership of the event, this is neither loving to Chalke (not encouraging him to see and correct his error) nor to those who will be taught falsehood as a result of his position in Spring Harvest.

The break away of UCCF, Keswick and the Word Alive week, is therefore sadly inevitable and necessary.¬† It will¬†be seen, and no doubt spun by some that it’s the cranky conservative evangelicals getting a bit too up themselves about nothing – but if we don’t see the importance and relevance of what Christ achieved at the cross as central to the Christian message, then it really shows how lost we are.¬†

 I hope in the next few days to post a series of reflections on the Death and Resurrection of Jesus Christ, which I hope will prove helpful, interesting and encourage some more thinking and careful Bible study on the subject!


3 Responses to “Easter Reflections”

  1. 1 Simon April 13, 2007 at 9:41 pm

    Unfortunately, the Chalke affair is indicative of the steep decline that has afflicted Spring Harvest in recent years; they simply do not take the Word of God seriously anymore.

    I am surprised that this has been commented upon so little in Christian circles. Spring Harvest used to be a useful tool for the whole church, but I’ve left the last couple of events feeling remarkably un-nourished.

    I had thought a year or two ago of trying to start a small scale biblically focused conference under the Crossring banner, but unfortunately time is not something I possess a great deal of at the moment!

  2. 2 Phill April 14, 2007 at 9:27 am

    I’m looking forward to your thoughts on the Death & Resurrection of Jesus, Joe!

    I read a book called “Consuming Passion” (which had an essay in it by Steve Chalke), and I have to say I really don’t agree with his position. Historically, the penal substitution way of looking at the atonement wasn’t the only way, and in focusing on that too much in the church I think we may have lost something, but to reject it completely seems to me to reject Biblical teaching.

    Once I’ve read “Pierced for Our Transgressions” I will hopefully have some thoughts of my own to post up! ūüôā

  3. 3 Desktopjunk April 22, 2007 at 5:46 pm

    Thanks, always good posts on your blog!

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