Steve Chalke debate

Steve Chalke ‘Lost Message’ debate, Thursday 7 October 2004

edited transcript v1.1

Running order
Welcome & prayer- Joel Edwards (EA General Director) Introduction- Derek Tidball (Chair) Opening statement- Steve Chalke Opening statement- Simon Gathercole Response- Steve Chalke Response- Simon Gathercole Statement- Stuart Murray Williams Statement- Anna Robbins Break & collection of written questions Question time (Speakers + Mike Ovey)

Joel Edwards (EA General Director)- welcome
“Others have disliked its emphasis on original goodness than original sin…by the far the most pointed criticism has been concerned with the doctrine of penal substitution… the issues at stake tonight are far greater than any one individual… they are symptoms of an age-old commitment to unity in diversity, what it means to be an evangelical…The EA is committed both to promoting evangelical truth and fostering evangelical unity (Ephesians 4:3). This is not a forum for personal vilification or personal vindication… it is not a forum for gladiators. It is a place for ‘robust love’…I hope that nothing that is said robs any of us of our love and devotion to the Lord Jesus Christ… truth without grace may make us feel better, but truth without grace is always unbiblical… together we will judge how much truth is mediated by grace; because of the indwelling Spirit every word we say tonight becomes memorable, and those of us who get lost in the technical talk about truth, will still recognise grace when we hear it…each of us must maintain that critical balance between grace and truth… I want to be part of a grown-up evangelical unity that exercises ‘robust love’…I have no wish to be a part of or to lead a group of Christians who panic in the face of controversy, retreat from each other or condemn each other without conversation. I want to be a part of an evangelicalism…which holds truth and love in tension… For some of us in the final analysis this may turn out to be a totally irresolvable problem.”

Derek Tidball (principal of London School of Theology; chair of EA Council)
[Reads out EA’s Basis of Faith Clause 3 & 4 & Practical Resolutions, including… Clause 3 & 4 of the EA Basis of Faith affirm, “The universal sinfulness and guilt of fallen man, making him subject to God’s wrath and condemnation,” and “The substitutionary sacrifice of the incarnate Son of God as the sole and all-sufficient ground of redemption from the guilt and power of sin, and from its eternal consequence.”] I want to express my thanks right at the beginning to Steve Chalke for consenting for this evening and joining in this discussion. Steve has worked happily with the Alliance for many years. The recent comments and criticisms have been…enough to air the issues in public, but I want us to do so within the spirit of thankful resolutions… Steve Chalke MBE is a Baptist Minister [laughter from audience]… I don’t often get to say that…[various plaudits for Steve Chalke’s achievements]…he writes for Prima Baby.” [Introduction for Simon Gathercole…]

Steve Chalke’s opening statement
“Derek [addressing chair’s pronunciation], it’s not called ‘Praima Baby’, it’s called ‘Preema Baby’, and it’s the second best-selling parents’ magazine in the country. It’s called Prima. I write for Prima… Why did I write The Lost Message of Jesus? Because much of what Jesus came to say has been lost. And it’s been lost by us, lost by me. I’ve been a Christian since I was 14, I’m 48, I’ll be 49 in a few weeks’ time. And

I’ve grown up in an atmosphere where I believe that we’ve not yelled and screamed from the rooftops that God is love and God is on people’s side. I began the Oasis Trust in 1985, as a result of my conversion actually, the day I became a Christian, I knew from that moment on, I had to tell people about Jesus… I set up a hostel, a hospital and a school for the poor, and now Oasis runs these things around the world. And I’ve worked with many people who have been… rejected, abandoned… and today I sat with someone at my church in Waterloo…what do all these people need to know? That God is love, and somehow we’ve failed to get this across. I’d like to begin by admitting that I’m open to some of the charges about this book… 1. I don’t know it all. I’m a struggler, I’m a learning, those of you who know me, that’s who I am… I get by every day… I have enormous periods of doubt just like you do… I can ride high and sink low all in a day, that’s me. 2. There are massive gaps in my book. I know it’s got more than 182 pages, because everyone always says, “It’s on page 182 that terrible heresy.” I’ve never looked! It must have more than that. These are some things about Jesus, and the book has enormous gaps in it. But I would say that every book that has ever been written has enormous gaps in it. And actually the evangelical church of which I am a part has enormous gaps in what it says about God’s love 3. Hindsight is a wonderful thing. If I was rewriting this book, I would add three sentences. I believe in the principle that says, “Tell them what you’re going to tell them, tell them, then tell them what you’ve told them.” I think that at one or two points, I said what I was saying, but didn’t tell them what I was going to tell them, or tell them what I’ve told them…I didn’t write this book for you, I wrote it for all the people who don’t know Christ yet. And I have to say that though there have been some very hard letters written to me, the overwhelming thing is that- from university professors, professors teaching in evangelical colleges, where the college has said, “We don’t agree with this,” but the NT teacher or the OT teacher or Church History teacher has written to me privately and said, “This is great.” Church leaders have written to me. I got one letter from a pastor condemning me, and I got another letter from his wife saying, “This book liberates me and it could save our marriage.” 4. There’s nothing new in my book. I wish it was new, I wish it was original, it would prove I was a lot smarter than I am. It’s old hat. In fact, Professor James Dunn (Simon’s teacher, with whom he disagrees), would actually agree with me. I’m not the first and I’m not the last. 5. My book does not offer a critique of penal substitution. Joel, I wonder where you’ve gone, but I wonder if you’ve read it. I doubt it! It doesn’t mention the word ‘atonement’, let alone ‘substitution’, let alone ‘penal’. [Becoming very passionate] There is one sentence in it that talks about people that talk of the Cross as an angry God punishing His Son, and I say that if you have that view of the Cross, then actually you have distorted God, distorted Him. Some people have written to me and said, “I believe in penal substitution, but I don’t believe in that.” Well OK, if the cap doesn’t fit, don’t wear it. I do feel a bit unread and misunderstood. Let me talk about some things I do believe… 1. I believe in the Cross. It says it loud and clear on every page. I believe that the Cross is central to the Biblical framework and the Biblical theme. I believe that Paul said that he purposed to know nothing while he was amongst the Corinthians except Christ crucified. But I want to explore what that Cross means, and its bigness. I believe in a bigger view of the Cross than that which I was taught, which actually I think is minimalistic. 2. I believe in sin. I’ve not rejected sin. But I do want to say this, that the first affirmation that God makes of us is that we are made in His image, and we are originally good. Sin enters the world and we are marred by it, but every man, woman and child needs to know that they are made in God’s image, and that He loves them, and that’s the first thing they need to understand, I believe that’s what Jesus taught. I was in Cyprus this summer, I’d only been there about four hours, I sat down with a church leader from Nicosia who has been working there for 20 years with the Protestants and the Orthodox… he said, “We think it’s good, but we think one part’s great… when you talk about Original Goodness. If only the Western Church could learn what the Eastern Church has always known.” 3. I believe in God’s anger. I believe God’s anger and God’s judgement are real. The Bible talks about them constantly. But I believe they are aspects of His love. Just as, I’m a father, and when my love works best, my anger becomes part of it. Sometimes my anger operates outside of my love, and I’m always ashamed of it afterwards. But God is perfectly loving. His anger and His justice are part of His

love. I believe He rages about sin, and I believe He rages about evil. But I believe He loves us passionately, I believe He loves us passionately. 4. I believe in Final Judgement. But it’s not final yet. It’s not our job, it’s not the time. 5. I believe in repentance. Jesus isn’t just to be worshipped, He’s to be followed. I hope that’s the way I live my life. 6. I believe in sacrifice as a category of understanding what happened on the Cross. I just want us to have a discussion about what that means. 7. I believe in substitution- “by His stripes we are healed.” I believe that Christ died in our place, I believe it’s apparent. In Romans 1-5, it’s apparent that “as in Adam all die, so in Christ we are made alive.” He is our substitute. It’s penal substitution that’s a different thing. And the EA believes in substitution, not penal substitution. 8. I believe in forgiveness, it’s the air that we need to breathe, and without it we are lost. 9. I believe in the OT, but Jesus relativises some of the OT. 10. I believe in the atonement, it’s fully orbed, we see it many ways. I do not however believe that penal substitution is a legitimate way or metaphor for the Cross. I think it distorts God’s character. 11. I believe in conversion and transformation personally. 12. I believe in discipleship. What am I being accused of? EN said I had a wrong view of God, Man and the Cross. I believe that this debate is to do with God’s character, nothing less. I believe that what happens on the Cross is an outworking of who God is. I believe if we misunderstand God we will misunderstand the Cross. It’s not an issue about the atonement at all, it’s about who God is. Who do we worship? Anna [Robbins] says that my book offers a Jesus of the 21st Century, rather than a Jesus for the 21st Century, and that we need a little more robust transformational theology. But I believe that orthodoxy must always work itself in ‘orthopraxis’. And actually that is the background in which my book was written… The thing I don’t like being accused of is being a reader of feminist theology! They say that the thing I say about “cosmic child abuse” I get from feminist theologians… Do you know why I said that it’s cosmic child abuse? It’s because that what’s said by the blokes down the pub. However, if feminist theologians offer the same critique, we shouldn’t reject it just because it comes from feminist theologians. I now know they’ve said the same thing. John Stott says that “all inadequate doctrines of the atonement are due to inadequate doctrines of God and Man.” I respect John greatly but I think it works the other way round a lot of the time. I would like to argue that inadequate doctrines of the atonement lead to inadequate doctrines of God and humanity, and that if you believe the wrong things about the Cross, you can end up believing wrong things about God. I believe that penal substitution is arrogant. Someone said to me, “I believe in penal substitution because it is the Biblical approach.” Paul uses different metaphors for atonements in different books, Luke has a different model than Paul does, and actually most people knows that. But there is an arrogant movement I think from Australia and certain parts of the States that want to make ‘penal substitution’ the box that you have to tick in order to be an evangelical and be a Christian, I want to say that’s not Biblical, I want to put that stake in the ground. And any one theory that claims to be the whole way of viewing the Cross and nothing else besides leaves us all the poorer, all the poorer, because what Christ did on the Cross was huge. I believe that penal substitution is repressive because I believe that it crushes debate. You cannot believe the number of people who have told me that I’m not a Christian. People have written such unkind things, they really have. My biggest worry in all of this has been my children, because I’ve not wanted them to lose their faith in a God of love, because of the way they’ve seen me treated. I believe that penal substitution, because it teaches that God’s anger… and then you’re made in the image of God, and you believe that there’s an angry God whose the Judge behind the universe, you believe that you’re His agent, you can act in that way. Some of the language that’s been used about me, claiming I’m not a Christian, let alone an evangelical. My book has been banned…people have sold it from the counters- still wanting to make the money, but not wanting to put it out in the shop. I know that one friend of mine wrote to EN with a reply to the article that has been written about me, and they refused to publish his letter. He wrote again and they still refused to publish the letter. We have to debate and be grown up.

I believe that penal substitution is distorted. I believe it misrepresents God as enraged and infuriated, bent on retribution. I believe that it misunderstands God’s wrath, and places it totally out of context. I believe that it overplays His wrath, and that it predicates judgement and punishment before the Cross. Now, those would say I’ve got the wrong end of the stick… I believe that penal substitution encourages rudeness. We are judgemental, rude, that’s our evangelical problem. I would say that you could walk out of here to the nearest pub and the first person you would have the chance to talk to would say… you’re all kind of rude and obnoxious and judgemental. There’s a lot of smoke, but I don’t believe there’s smoke without fire. I think penal substitution is ethically weak. I think penal substitution is simplistic. It doesn’t deal with systemic sin, only individual sin. I believe that penal substitution perpetuates the myth that violence can be redemptive. This moment of all moments is the time for the church to stand up and say, You can only combat violence by forgiveness and mercy and not bearing a grudge. It’s been thrown at the church for years and years that religion breeds wars and hostilities. It comes from deep down in our theologies. So what do I believe? The Bible and the NT talk about in many and various ways. Lots and lots of metaphors are very rich. The theory that is called ‘Christus Victor’ that a guy called Gustav Aulen put together in the 1930s has been held down through the centuries. What I believe about Christ’s death is this: in and through Jesus Christ’s life, death and resurrection, God confronts evil in a very definite way. But in doing so, Jesus will not choose the tools of evil itself: coercion, unjust force, violence, etc. Instead in weakness He confronts Satan and evil, and He confounds it. He lures those who wield unjust power into exposing themselves. He provokes, and in the end they use the only power they can: domination and violence. But He soaks up their violence, He soaks up evil, He soaks up sin, both individual and corporate, the systems of Israel and Rome, as well as the individual sins of Judas, and those who betrayed Him and turned their back on Him, and Jesus will not return violence for violence. But He goes down in the end into death taking it all on Him, and He conquers death and He rises from the dead, and He is seen as Lord. He absorbs all the world’s rubbish and sin and evil, and triumphs. So Paul writes, As in Adam we all die, because Eve gave in, so in Christ….the clock’s been turned back, things are new, a second Adam has arrived, there’s a new beginning for us all. Derek’s coming over…he’s probably after a copy of Prima Baby.”

Simon Gathercole’s opening statement
“My first concern is how to follow that from Steve… to take part in what my wife has been calling ‘Chalkegate’. Steve and I do agree on a number of premises and on a number of things that we need to take seriously in order to look at Jesus and His teaching: 1. How seriously he takes Scripture and how we look at Scripture 2. Jesus being fully God and fully Man Favourite bit: the Indestructible Sandwich. I was delighted to see so much passion in the book… I’m not a warmonger, but there are some serious reservations and serious problems. It seems to me in a number of places very one-sided…” [Gathercole’s statement continues; I may type it out more fully in future.]

Steve Chalke’s response
You quoted The Lord’s prayer, “Thy kingdom come,” you missed off the other half of the statement… Paul tells us that as Christ wrestled against the forces of evil and would not succumb and He would not give in (unlike Adam who caved in), Jesus would not cave in and He soaked up the very worst that Satan had to throw at Him, and He came through it, and He cries on the Cross, “It is finished!” I’ve done it! There’s a second Adam to the fight. As in one man, we die; so, in this new Adam, many will be made alive. That’s the truth. The

kingdom begins now. I don’t deny future judgement at all, I believe that we have good news to offer people now, though. I hope that in my book there’s a clear call for repentance… this isn’t some easy-peasy go-to-heaven-when-youdie. In fact one of my critiques of penal substitution is a ‘cash value’ version of the Cross; you know, “Jesus died on the Cross for you. Just say the sinner’s prayer, and you’re in.” It’s devoid of ethical depth, and that’s one of our problems. What I say about God being love is not about my sensibilities of the 21st Century, it’s about God’s sensibilities, it’s about what God says: “For God so loved the world…” I think you quoted it. I think we need to say that loud and clear. I’ve read John Stott’s book, John is a friend of mine, I’ve discussed these things in some measure with John, I have the greatest respect for him, I believe I have my differences with him. But I believe that in the hands of characters like John, penal substitution- with his nuancing, with his tenderness- actually penal substitution has the rougher edges rubbed off it. But in the end, if you believe in penal substitution, the real reason for the Cross is not God’s love, it’s to deal with God’s angry. That is it. An angry God has to have His anger turned away. That is what penal substitution is about in the end. It is the reason for the Cross. I think you’ll read in the EN article, that they agree with that. They say, “If God is not angry, what is the reason for the Cross?” or some such thing. I do not believe the Cross is about God’s anger at the world, I believe it’s about God’s anger at sin in the world, and the systems of people, both individual and corporate. And I believe that Jesus comes to take it all on, and He will not cave in. And in a mystical way that no metaphor of the Cross can capture (and all these are metaphors), he deals that blow. ‘The world did its worst to Jesus and God did His worst to Jesus as well’ (Roger Carswell). That is when penal substitution gets out of the hands of people like John Stott, and into the hands of people who frighten people. And I don’t think anyone should be frightened into a relationship with God, who describes Himself as love. In Mark 10:45 Jesus said He didn’t come to be served but to serve and give His life as a ransom for many. This has nothing to do with penal substitution whatsoever. Jesus was of course referencing Exodus 6 & 16. It’s referring to the first Exodus. Jesus had come to bring them out of bondage. God says He is paying ransom for His people Israel. Who is He paying it to? Is He paying it to Himself? Is He paying it to Pharaoh? In actual fact, the Church took guesses at who God was paying a ransom to, and they got themselves into a right pickle. It’s a metaphor, and if you take it too far, you’ll always land yourself in serious trouble. Follow it though, and it means that God paid a ransom to Pharaoh, which He didn’t. I think we need to talk about sacrifice, atonement, what these terms mean and what they don’t mean. We need a serious debate about these concepts. So that we see 1 John 4:10, “In this is love, not that we love God, but that He loved us, and sent His Son to be an atoning sacrifice for our sins.” We need to study Leviticus and study the Old Testament, and I think you’ll find there’s no direct link with God’s anger. Leon Morris I’ve got in my bag… I can quote John Stott who says, “It’s impossible to understand what sacrifice and atonement were about in the OT or what the writer to the Hebrews is really talking about. Perhaps we’ll never know.” We ought to study those things before leaping to conclusions. Time & space do not permit typing out the following sections…

Simon Gathercole’s response Statement- Stuart Murray Williams Statement- Anna Robbins Break & collection of written questions Question time (Speakers + Mike Ovey)
All words from Steve Chalke except those in square brackets. This section is highly edited to focus on Steve Chalke’s comments.

SC: I believe that Jesus died on the Cross to bear away the sins of the world…God’s anger burns at sin and evil, and Christ came to deal with it. I don’t believe that God is angry at people… The vast majority of Christians throughout history and alive on planet earth today would not say that penal substitution was their first way of understanding the Cross, and many would say that it is not a way of understanding the Cross at all. That’s just a fact… Question from Andrew Sach: “You don’t like the idea of God’s anger at people. But in Ephesians 2:3 Paul writes that we were by nature objects of wrath and in 2 Thessalonians 1:8, Paul says that God will punish those who don’t know God and don’t obey the Gospel of our Lord Jesus Christ. I think the problem about all this is that we need to have a serious discussion about these concepts…rather than just cherry-picking verses. It’s great to latch on to a verse like that… But it would be good to look at the whole concept of the anger and wrath of God. I think the place to start is in Romans, and build out from there. And I would love to be part of a discussion about that. I promise you I’ve never read a word of CH Dodd, but he says that God’s anger is just the natural consequences, the outworking of man’s wrong on himself. John Stott on CH Dodd in The Cross of Christ says, “The attempts of CH Dodd and others to reconstruct wrath and understand wrath as an impersonal process must be declared, at least, not proven.” John does not say, “I can prove they’re wrong.” This is a debate and a discussion. A lot of people say, referring to Romans 1 or whatever it is, “Ah but God’s wrath is worked out on sinners and He gives them over to their sins, and He works out their wrath…” I notice, however, that when you sit with a person who is dying with AIDS, or when you talk to the press about people who are HIV positive, and we get asked by the press, “Is this God’s anger? Is He doing this out of His anger?” I realise, I see, constantly, I’ve heard evangelical after evangelical saying, “It’s the consequences of rebellion against God working themselves out… God’s not angry at this person, He loves them. But the consequences of our sin wind us up in this sort of way.” I think that we talk tough, but when we meet real people, we come under a different kind of ethic. Andrew Sach: “I’m sorry you’ve accused me of cherry-picking verses, I chose the clearest two I could find. The truth is that there’s hundreds of pages in the Bible where God expresses His rage and anger against human beings who’re rebelling against Him. I think what I’ve found extraordinary is that none of those verses make it into your book. It’s almost that you’ve had to be so selective in order to avoid those verses. SC: I’m sorry if there’s things missing from the book…but if you read the book you’ll discover that I talk about God’s anger, God’s judgement, and I follow the mind of Karl Barth who says quite clearly that all of these are different ways of saying that “God is love”…it is the big anguish of God…we need to understand God’s wrath in that way as well. Some of my friends are rabbis, and I have to say that I spend much of my time talking to them about their understanding of the Old Testament. And they say the concept of God’s anger is also the concept of His anguish, divine anguish and struggle and trouble and turmoil and torture, because God in His heart looks at all of this sin in the world, and it’s there, and is angry at it, but a father can never give up loving a child. That’s how I understand it, and I think Jesus made that pretty clear in the parable of the Prodigal Son. Questioner: How can you believe that God did not turn His back on Jesus when He was on the Cross, when Jesus Himself cried out in Aramaic, “My God, my God, why have you forsaken Me?” Surely to deny penal substitution is to deny the very words of Jesus on the Cross? Mike Ovey: Steve has said that the reason for penal substitution is God’s anger. That can’t be so, because God’s anger- just that alone- would be satisfied by the administration of justice in itself without salvation. The fact that there is salvation through penal substitution is a testimony to God’s just anger against sin, and also His incomparable love in His three Persons in His action to save us. SC: Jesus is quoting the Psalmist saying, “My God, My God, why have you forsaken Me? Where are you?” Of course, He’s not been abandoned by God either, because He’s in God’s world. It’s His human condition, His human emotions. Jesus was fully human, and He went through this. This last time I heard someone cry, “My God, my God, why have you forsaken me?” was about four days ago as I sat with someone who’d been told that they had terminal cancer, and there was no way out of it. “My God, where are you God? Where are you?

Why have you abandoned me?” That’s what we feel as humans, but of course God’s there, He’s omnipresent, He’s always there. He’s with us even when we feel abandoned. God was there with Jesus as He went through, and He would not give in to sin, and a second Adam won, and so salvation was brought to us. Sin and evil were defeated. Simon Gathercole: So did Jesus get it wrong, Steve? SC: Yes. Yes, Jesus is fully human and fully God. Not partly one, partly the other. That’s what we believe, isn’t it? Fully man, fully God. He suffered and was tempted in every way as we are, that’s what the Scripture teaches us. He was tempted in every way as I am, and sometimes I feel that in my circumstances, God just can’t be there any more…I think that’s what Jesus was going through at that moment. And His Cross transformed history… [simultaneously] {Mike Ovey: So the answer to the question is that yes, He was wrong. {Derek Tidball: Let me, let me…invite [the next questioner] to the microphone, please.

… Derek Tidball: … “But God demonstrates His own love for us in this: While we were still sinners, Christ died for us. Since, we have been justified by His blood, how much more shall we be saved from God’s wrath through Him” (Romans 5:8). Questioner: Separating God’s love from an understanding of His wrath…surely God’s love is demonstrated in Christ’s dying for us, saving us from the wrath of God, through Him? SC: If God didn’t like us that much…why would…and felt that angry with us… God loves us! God’s angry at sin. It burns within Him. It burns within me. It’s just a little reflection. In some of the situations that Oasis has worked in around the world, I see the evil of individual sin, and I see the evil of corporate sin. Those two things: systemic sin. I see all of that, and I’ll sometimes come to a place when I’ll just weep and weep and weep, and I’m angry, and I see the mess that people get themselves into, and the wrath- if you like- that they bring on themselves. I see that they’ve made this own hole for themselves, and they’ve dug it, and they’ve got into a mess. And yet, I still love them. We run a health centre in central London. Last year we treated 13,000 people off the street, alcoholics and drug addicts. I’ve learnt over the years- we’ve been running this for 12 years- to look into the eyes of an alcoholic, and see the eyes of Jesus. I used to look at them and just have disdain for them. And yet, I’ve learnt that if I look at them as I believe God looks at them, I see the mess that they’re in, and I’m angry at what they’ve done, and I really am angry at what they’ve done, and what they’ve become. But I love them. I love them. And all I’m saying is that we need a serious debate about the wrath of God, and those concepts from Romans and elsewhere. A serious debate. And John Stott’s book begins down the road and gives up. I think that we need a serious debate about that. Leon Morris’ book does too. We need a serious debate. And I’m up for a serious debate. But let’s have the serious debate about these things, so that we are grown-up and have something to say to this world and ours, who are struggling with life. It needs to be deeper than this sound-bite stuff, we’re all rushing, and some of us need to sit down and look at these things together. Mike Ovey: The point about Steve’s book is that classic evangelicals have nothing to say about God’s wrath, because they’re completely wrong about it. We say that there’s a future judgement, Steve, and that there’s a future judgement in which we will be judged, and that- judging by Romans 5:9, the text you didn’t deal with- it actually says, “How much more shall we be saved from God’s wrath”. Comparable material, 1 Thessalonians 1:10, “Jesus who rescues us from the coming wrath.” Comparable material, Ephesians 2:3, that we are “objects of wrath”, we are objects of wrath in the future. The Lord Jesus tells us Himself in John chapter 5 (v28,29) that there will come a day that the dead will answer His call. Some will rise to life, some will rise to shame and condemnation. The passionate concern that classic advocates of penal substitution have, is that people should rise to life. That they should have their sins forgiven. That is the point. And that they’ve been- Paul’s words in 1 Thessalonians 1:10- “rescued from the coming wrath.” Whose wrath? God’s wrath. That’s the quote that we have been having. Those are the texts that you haven’t addressed, either in the book, or here.

Simon Gathercole’s closing statement
This isn’t just about the individual doctrine of penal substitution. It’s about the future, it’s about the final judgement, heaven and hell. I think Steve and I are very much in agreement on a lot of points. I’m awed at the stuff that he does. My worry is though, that in the book as he doesn’t talk about final judgement, it doesn’t really get much of a mention…The Gospel isn’t really about heaven, it’s about something else? My worry is the book only gives us half the gospel, really. On penal substitution, we’ve got to look at it rightly understood and not the caricatures. Steve has focused on the point that God is love, that’s exactly right. It’s God’s love that’s started, maintained and is going to finish the whole salvation process. But in the same letter that God is defined as love (1 John), He is also described as light: “God is light, in Him is no darkness at all.” Again, we can’t cherry-pick, we can’t just sort of, have the God-is-love, but not the God-is-light. God’s holy, and God has a hatred of sin. Penal substitution obviously isn’t the whole truth about the Gospel, but it is the element in the Cross, which means that we’re not going to face the wrath to come, and that is where I disagree with Steve, seeing it as really crucial.

Steve Chalke’s closing statement
Michael, I’m really sorry if you feel that I’m not [leading?] with this concept of wrath. I would recommend to you this book. And if you read it, you will read, that John Stott says that in him it’s impossible to make a judgement- he thinks- about whether CH Dodd is right or not, that actually God’s wrath is just the outworking through our conditions of the consequences of our sin. Both now and in the age to come. Romans talks about wrath now and in the age to come. I am not denying the future judgement, but I also believe that those who end up in hell away from God, end up there as the consequences of the life that they have chosen to live. I think that God grants them their choice, if you like, to shut the door. And that is the way I fall down on this issue. I would like to say that penal substitution is not the traditional or classic way of understanding the Cross. You can argue from a sentence or two that some of the early apostolic fathers may have had some leaning towards it. But actually there is no defence. Penal substitution comes into its own in the second millennium, not the first millennium. That’s just a matter of fact, you can read about that. I’d like to quote to you the Apostolic Creed… “He suffered under Pontius Pilate, was crucified, dead and buried.” It does not give an interpretation. So when we say that penal substitution is the way which we must believe, we have gone beyond the creeds. What is the meaning of sacrifice in the Old Testament? Because sacrifice is not always by the shedding of blood. I quote John Stott again, who misquotes Hebrews chapter 9 on page 151 of his book [great laughter from audience]. He says there is no forgiveness of shedding of blood. Romans chapter 9 [sic- he means Hebrews 9] says “in most cases” there is no forgiveness of sins without the shedding of blood, because there are many cases in the OT where there is forgiveness of sins without the shedding of blood. We need to understand again how sacrifice worked, what atonement meant. When a woman had her period, she did have to sacrifice and gain atonement for having a period. So what does ‘atonement’ mean? What does ‘sacrifice’ mean? These things we have to debate and think about, and we cannot understand these verses… I close with 1 John 4:10, “In this is love, not that we loved God, but that He loved us and sent His Son as an atoning sacrifice for our sins.” Until we understand the term ‘atonement’ and the term ‘sacrifice’ from the OT, we get nowhere. Leon Morris gives up on it. Read his book. At the end of the day, I believe this, that when I went to Sunday School, I was taught to hate the sin, and love the sinner. I believe God hates the sin and loves the sinner. We have to stand at this point, where I stand. I will spend my life, preaching this, acting it out- that God loves us, He loves us desperately. He hates our sin, He weeps over it, He’s in anguish about it. But He loves us, and He cannot give up. That’s where I stand, that’s what I believe. Derek Tidball: I was nearly going to ask if John Stott was present to come and defend himself… Joel Edwards: Clauses 3 & 4 of the EA Basis of Faith fully and strongly imply penal substitution, and that would certainly be the understanding of very many people within the EA. Now, whether or not it excludes those who don’t, is a very important question, and an exercise for us to enter into together. So this is not a ‘one-night stand’ if you will… I have read the book and recommend it to those of you who haven’t.

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