The first Steve Chalke controversy seems such a long time ago now (there have been so many since). Chalke now complains that Evangelicals kicked him out of their alliance because he welcomed LGBTQ people into his church. That is a bit of a misrepresentation of the situation. The issue was never about welcoming LGBTQ people into church. Plenty of church leaders had been seeking to do this for years. The issue was that the Evangelical Alliance had a clear statement of faith and positions on a number of ethical issues. Chalke had increasingly announced his disagreement with what they believed. He had made it clear that he was no longer in alliance with them.
The odd thing was that it took so long for people to realise that Chalke was on a different page to them. Yet we tend to struggle with that. People can say things, write them in black and white and we can go on kidding ourselves that all is okay, we remain best of friends and we are really in agreement. The first indication of a problem with Steve was when he wrote a book claiming to have recovered the lost gospel of Jesus and that Gospel fascinatingly avoided things like sin, repentance and Jesus bearing the penalty that we deserve.
Now, all of that looks pretty clear cut to me. But do you remember what the Evangelical church did at the time? If you don’t, well what happened was the symposiums were organised to discuss Chalke’s thoughts were he was invited to speak and column space was provided in Christian publications to enable him to argue his case. Chalke held positions of influence on national boards for some time after his departure from the truth of the Gospel because he had built up friendships with people.
I have asked the question “Who do you invite for tea?” because this was the equivalent of inviting a wolf round for scones and a cuppa then wondering what is happening to your sheep. If you invite the wolf round then the sheep will get devoured and the sensible ones will stay away. Now whether the wolves demonstrate their true character in their teaching or by other ways that they exploit the flock does not matter so much here as these both stem from the same root. The point that should concern us is if we continue to entertain such people we do great damage to the flock.
If you are an elder in the church, then part of your responsibility is to watch out for wolves. When the wolves come, you job is to put yourself between them and the sheep, to defend those who are vulnerable to the wolves’ attacks. Too often we struggle to do this because we fear the confrontation. However, this is a vital part of our role.
Are you defending the flock, or have you been inviting the wolves round for tea?