Emergent Church

Steve Chalke's Hypocrisy And Heresy Rise Up To New Heights On Resurrection Day

by Cecil Andrews
'Take Heed' Ministries

On Sunday morning, 16 April 2006, BBC 1 Television broadcast a programme from the 'Spring Harvest' festival in Minehead called 'He is risen'. The guest presenter and preacher was none other than Steve Chalke.

Steve Chalke's appearance on this programme raised his 'hypocrisy' and 'heresy' up to new heights - heights that unfortunately would have been broadcast into millions of homes in the UK. Probably many viewers would have been unaware of his 'hypocrisy' but Steve Chalke himself would have been fully aware of it as he listened to, and who knows, perhaps even sang some of the words of some of the hymns that were included in the programme.

Steve Chalke's Hypocrisy

Given Steve Chalke's public denial of 'Substitutionary Atonement' by Christ on the cross and his denial of the biblical truth that this was in fact 'Penal Substitution' - the Father punishing His sinless Son as a substitute for sinners so that they, through faith alone in Christ [crucified] alone might be fully justified by God [released permanently from every penalty andpunishment due to them because of sin] - IT WAS hypocritical of Steve Chalke to be both a presenter of and preacher at a meeting where these words were sung. The opening hymn of the programme was 'How great thou art' and verse 3 of that lovely hymn reads as follows -

And when I think that God, His Son not sparing
Sent Him to die, I scarce can take it in,
That on the cross, my burden [the punishment by God for my sin] gladly bearing
He bled and died to take away my sin [penal/substitutionary atonement]

Later in the programme, the hymn 'In Christ alone' was sung and the second half of verse 2 reads as follows -

'Til on that cross as Jesus died
The wrath of God was satisfied [penal substitution]
For every sin on Him was laid [penal/substitutionary atonement]
Here in the death of Christ I live [salvation by Christ's death]

Not only was it hypocritical of Steve Chalke to be a willing participant and preacher in a programme where such theologically correct words were sung in his presence but it would have been ultra-hypocritical of him to join in with the singing of these words. Whether or not he did I cannot tell as there were no camera shots of him during the singing of these hymns but perhaps someone will be able to ask him what he actually did during the singing of the quoted words of these hymns.

Steve Chalke's Heresy

Moving on from his 'hypocrisy' I want now to focus on his 'heresy'. When you keep in mind Steve Chalke's denial of what actually happened on the cross it sheds a whole new understanding of what he said in his 'sermon'.

He began his 'sermon' by mentioning his 'friend Tony Campolo' who according to Steve Chalke is 'a brilliant preacher' and of how he had popularised the saying 'It's Friday but Sunday's coming' [Steve Chalke during his 'sermon' whipped up almost frenzied reaction from the audience by getting them to repeat this phrase many times during the course of his 'sermon'].

For most Christians we would understand this saying as meaning that the events of the day of Christ's crucifixion seemed at first to be a disaster. However subsequent events would go on to show the error of such thinking and, as I will explain later, the day of Christ's crucifixion should be a day of great rejoicing for God's people. This aspect of rejoicing has been emphasised by the Lord Himself who commands us to remember His crucifixion and the events of that day as we meet around His table to break bread and drink wine.

The following are some extracts from the 'sermon' that Steve Chalke delivered during this programme.

'The truth is this and Easter Sunday is all about this, it doesn't end here [the crucifixion], it does not end here. The message of Jesus is this, the message of Easter Sunday is this, it doesn't end with despair, it doesn't end with humiliation, it doesn't end here, the message of Easter is this, it ends with resurrection, it ends with hope, it ends with forgiveness, it ends with liberty, there is a new beginning, there is a new beginning, the message of Easter.

At this point Steve Chalke related an amusing story of a foreigner on the London Underground who, no matter how hard he looked at the map in his diary, couldn't figure out where he was - in other words, according to Steve Chalke this man was 'lost' - and the reason he hadn't been able to figure out where he was was because the map in his diary was actually of the Paris Metro. Steve Chalke then continued -

Psalm 24 says "The earth is the Lord's and everything in it". When we live our lives in God's world as though God wasn't there we're going to get lost.

When we live our lives as though Easter Sunday doesn't exist, we're going to get lost, we're going to end up in despair, we'll be overcome, overwhelmed by grief, overwhelmed by tragedy and the pain and the suffering of life. We cannot survive, we need Easter Sunday because Easter Sunday says a different word to us - it says that Jesus is risen from the dead, there is hope in the universe, God is on our side [loud applause]. Good Friday, Good Friday was a disaster, a dying God on a cross is no God, a dying Saviour is no Saviour, a dying Saviour is no Saviour. Jesus gasping for air, gasping for breath, gasping for water, gasping for dignity is no Saviour at all. The people are in despair, they've got their heads down, the people that have followed him think it was good, it was a good story, it was a great story, but this is
the end of the road, there is no way forward. But the message of Easter
Sunday is this is not where it ends - it doesn't end here. Sunday is coming.

Sunday is coming

In this portion of his 'sermon' Steve Chalke has painted a picture of the despair that the followers of Jesus might well have conjured up in their minds as they watched the crucifixion unfold - indeed we do know that this was precisely the despair that some of them experienced as I will show shortly. Steve Chalke has painted 'Friday' as being a day of despair but by what he then goes on to say Steve Chalke wants to immediately correct any possible 'dead-end' thinking about Christ having been crucified. In his sermon he has painted a bleak portrait of that event but instead of taking time to explain Christ's crucifixion and to give a biblical explanation of what really and gloriously happened on the cross he instead turns all attention to the resurrection and identifies it as being our real source of 'hope' and he then takes time to explain the nature of that 'hope'. In his 'sermon' Steve Chalke said -

'When Jesus rises from the dead, not just in the hearts of his followers, but in actuality, as fact, he reverses the curse, he reverses the curse of death and despair Comment by Cecil: 1st Corinthians 15: 20-26 tells us "But now is Christ risen from the dead and become the first fruits of them that slept.But everyman in his own order; Christ the first fruits; afterward they that are Christ's at his coming. Then cometh the end.For he must reign till [future] he hath put all enemies under his feet. The last enemy that shall be [future] destroyed is death"and voom there is a way forward. On Friday, on Friday we feel as though there is no way forward but this is not how it ends, this is not how it ends. Sunday is coming! On Friday we can feel that there is no hope for us as individuals but this is not how it ends. On Friday we're in pain, in suffering but this is not where it ends. Sunday is coming!' [Loud cheers].

When the cheering died down Steve Chalke then went on to make some personal applications for the listening audience in relation to what he had been saying - to explain or clarify the 'hope' that he sees coming from Sunday.
He said -

'On our Fridays we wonder about our job, redundancy, our marriage failing, our relationships broken, our money issues, our scares over health, coping with life itself. On Friday we can feel lonely, forgotten, depressed, our friends have abandoned us, life just doesn't seem worth living and some of us live at Friday even though it's Easter Sunday. We're still at Friday, we're still struggling but here is the message of Jesus that resounds acrosshistory. Here is the message of Jesus that changes the world. Here is the message of Jesus that changes the universe. We are not on our own. We are not alone. God is with us. We are not abandoned, because it was Friday, but Sunday is coming. There is hope for us all'.

Earlier in relation to Steve Chalke's telling of the story of the man on the
London Underground I underlined where he stated that the man was 'lost' and then he went on to warn listeners about how they too could end up 'lost'. Here we see that for Steve Chalke being 'lost' is to be ignorant of the message that he claims emanates from the events of 'Sunday' and I have highlighted this 'gospel message' of Steve Chalke in red. As you will see there is no mention or proclamation of people being 'lost' because they are unregenerate, unrepentant, unconverted and still "dead in trespasses and sins" [Ephesians 2:1]. Friends, this is 'another gospel which is not another" [Galatians 1:6-7].

After carefully studying what Steve Chalke said, I wrote the following -

'For Steve Chalke, the resurrection of Christ has apparently rescued the mission of Christ from the disaster and despair of the death of Christ instead of, as the bible teaches, the resurrection of Christ being God's vindication of His acceptance of the sacrificial and atoning death of His Son. Christ's loud cry on the cross "It is finished" at which the veil of the Temple was rent in two was a cry of victory, not a cry of defeat!'

Earlier I wrote 'the day of Christ's crucifixion should be a day of great rejoicing for God's people'. There was, at its time, wrong thinking about the crucifixion of Christ as was shown for instance in the story of the 2 downcast disciples on the road to Emmaus [see Luke 24:13-32]. However when Christ Himself joined them and explained to them, by His teaching from the Old Testament scriptures, just what had happened on the cross [penal/substitutionary atonement to save sinners] then they realised that the crucifixion, far from being a disaster, had in fact been a glorious redemptive triumph. It had been the culmination of all that God had promised, in the Old Testament, to accomplish through His Messiah and they rejoiced [their hearts 'burned' within them] when they understood what had truly been accomplished by Christ's crucifixion.

When properly understood, genuine Christians join with the Apostle Paul in saying "God forbid that I should glory except in the cross of our Lord JesusChrist" [Galatians 6:14].

But Steve Chalke in his 'sermon' focused on man's perceived 'felt needs' [man's worries about loneliness, finances, health etc] as being the
important and over-riding problems that Christ's resurrection can deal with instead of focusing, as Christ did with the 2 on the road to Emmaus, on how His crucifixion had dealt with man's greatest need - his need of having his sins forgiven by God and of being clothed in the very righteousness of God.

The reason Steve Chalke focuses on every need other than that caused by man's sin is that he does not accept the biblical truth that Christ's sacrifice on the cross was a "propitiation" of God's just wrath and anger against man's sin - please remember that according to Chalke God is only a God of love and nothing else - and that Christ's sacrifice was also an "expiation" of man's guilt before God because of man's sin.

As far as Steve Chalke is concerned, everyone in God's world [and presumably this was his reason for quoting Psalm 24] is now automatically back 'in harmony' with God [God's 'curse' has apparently been reversed because of 'Sunday'] and our problem is that we don't live in the light of this supposed 'lost message of Jesus'.

The heresy of Steve Chalke that he was peddling in his so-called 'sermon' is best summed up on pages 98-99 of his book 'The Lost Message of Jesus' when he wrote -

'The lost and revolutionary heart of Jesus' message is simply this. God
accepts us as we are, without judgement or condemnation and gradually
through his love and acceptance, draws us ever closer to understanding and living out his shalom in our lives. IN OTHER WORDS ACCEPTANCE PRECEDES REPENTANCE - NOT THE OTHER WAY ROUND' [EMPHASIS MINE].

The following verses, just some of many that could be quoted, identify what Steve Chalke has written here as being nothing less than a false 'gospel' that is under the very curse of God [see Galatians 1:6-9]. Steve Chalke wrote 'acceptance precedes repentance' - God's infallible word declares -

As Peter preaches in Jerusalem he says in Acts 3:18-19 "But those things which God had before shown by the mouth of all his prophets, that Christ should suffer [Peter is referring to the penal/substitutionary atonenment of Christ that was pictured and foretold in the Old Testament by all of God's prophets] he hath so fulfilled [through Christ's crucifixion on the cross]. REPENT therefore and BE CONVERTED, that your sins may be blotted out".

As Paul preached in Athens he boldly proclaimed the truth of the living God, which stood in stark contrast to the 'dead idols' that were worshipped there as 'gods' and in the light of the truth of this living God that he proclaimed he said in Acts 17:30 "And the times of this ignorance God overlooked, but now COMMANDETH ALL MEN everywhere TO REPENT".

It is most important to note, in the light of what we are considering, that these commands by God for men to "repent" were made AFTER the resurrection of Christ, which, according to what Steve Chalke has implied, absolves men from any 'judgment or condemnation'. This lie is further exposed by what Paul went on to say in Acts 17:31 where we read "Because [following God's command to all men to repent] he [God] hath appointed a day in which he will JUDGE the world in righteousness by that man [the Lord Jesus Christ] whom he hath ordained; concerning which he hath given assurance unto all men, in that he hath raised him from the dead".

In a little Bible Study book on Acts, R P Martin, M.A., Ph.D wrote concerning this verse 'As Lord of history and of the Universe, it is His
design to bring the world to its consummation at the final day of reckoning.

The proof of this final judgment has been given in Jesus' resurrection from the dead'.

According to this verse, Christ's resurrection actually guarantees and underpins God's future JUDGMENT of the world - it does not absolve all people from future judgment as Steve Chalke's false teaching implies.

Concluding Thoughts

Earlier I made reference to 'the Lord Himself who commands us to remember His crucifixion and the events of that day as we meet around His table to break bread and drink wine'.

It is my sincere hope that Steve Chalke does not compound his 'heresy' by participating in Communion or the Lord's Supper. That ordinance from the Lord would, in Steve Chalke's understanding and teaching, be calling on us to remember a day of death, disaster and despair and surely what Saviour in His right mind would want His followers by their actions to draw attention to such a humiliating 'Friday'. After all, according to Steve Chalke, the much more significant event that, 'changed both the world and the universe' happened on 'Sunday' and yet, in the Lord's wisdom, it is the events of 'Friday' that He calls His people to "show" [1 Corinthians 11:26]. In Vine's

Expository Dictionary of New Testament Words we read this concerning the meaning of "show" in 1 Corinthians 11:26 - "in the last passage the partaking of the elements is not a 'showing forth' of it but a PROCLAMATION of it" [Emphasis mine].

It would appear that Steve Chalke foresees no problems for those who die unregenerate, unrepentant and unconverted for, according to his teaching, we are all already 'accepted by God as we are, without judgement or condemnation'.

If the crucifixion of Christ, according to Steve Chalke, pales into such insignificance in the light of the resurrection of Christ, we must wonder why those early Saints of God wrote such inspired words as we find in the following -

"For the preaching of the cross is to them that perish foolishness, but unto us who are saved it is the power of God" [1 Corinthians 1:18].

"But we preach Christ crucified, unto the Jews a stumbling block and unto the gentiles foolishness. But unto them who are called both Jews and Greeks, Christ [crucified] the power of God and the wisdom of God [1 Corinthians 1:23-24].

"And I brethren, when I came to you, came not with excellency of speech or of wisdom, declaring unto you the testimony of God. For I determined not to know any thing among you except Jesus Christ and him crucified" [1 Corinthians 2:1-2]

"Forasmuch as ye know that ye were not redeemed with corruptible things like silver and gold.But with the precious blood of Christ, as of a lamb without blemish and without spot" [1 Peter 1:18-19]

"because Christ also suffered for us.who his own self bore our sins in his own body on the tree" [1 Peter 2:21&24]

"For Christ also hath once suffered for sins, the just for the unjust, that he might bring us to God" [1 Peter 3:18]

"Behold the [sacrificial] lamb of God, who taketh away the sin of the world" [John 1:29]

"I am the good shepherd, and know my sheep, and am known of mine. As the Father knoweth me, even so know I the Father: and I lay down my life for the sheep" [John 10:14-15].

"Herein is love, not that we loved God, but that he loved us and sent His Son to be the propitiation for our sins" [1 John 4:10]

"John, to the seven churches.Grace be unto you.And from Jesus Christ who is the faithful witness and the first begotten of the dead.Unto him that loved us and washed us from our sins in his own blood" [Revelation 1:4-5]

"And they sang a new song saying, Thou art worthy to take the scroll and to open its seals; for thou wast slain and hast redeemed us to God by thy blood" [Revelation 5:9]

The writer to the Hebrews:
"But Christ.neither by the blood of goats and calves, but by his own blood, he entered once into the holy place, having obtained eternal redemption for us.How much more shall the blood of Christ, who through the eternal Spirit offered himself without spot to God, purge your conscience from dead works to serve the living God" [Hebrews 9:14]

"Christ was once offered to bear the sins of many" [Hebrews 9:28]

"But this man, after he had offered one sacrifice for sins for ever, sat down on the right hand of God.For by one offering he hath perfected for ever them that are sanctified" [Hebrews 10:12&14].

"God.hath in these last days spoken unto us by his Son.who.when he had by himself purged our sins, sat down on the right hand of the Majesty on high" [Hebrews 1:1-3].

Steve Chalke has, by his teaching, so diluted and watered down the significance and saving power of the shed blood of Christ [in reality he is preaching what I would describe as 'an anaemic gospel'] that he would do well to 'take heed' to these warning verses in Hebrews 10: 28-29 "He that despised Moses' law, died without mercy under two or three witnesses; Of how much sorer punishment, suppose ye, shall he be thought worthy, who hath trodden under foot the Son of God and hath counted the blood of the covenant, with which he [Christ] was sanctified, an unholy thing, and hath done despite unto the Spirit of grace".

These verses warn of the intensity of the suffering in hell for those who treat with unbelieving contempt the saving power of Christ's shed blood on the cross of Calvary.

The hypocritical behaviour and heretical teaching of Steve Chalke should engender a prayerful intensity in the hearts and lives of God's true, believing people.