Steve Chalke may not be so well known outside the UK, but he is a well-known British evangelical personality who appears regularly on the TV. He is a Baptist minister and is the founding director of Oasis Trust,1 an organisation that now has 300 staff, students and volunteers. It pioneers mission, healthcare, education and housing initiatives in the UK and across the globe. Recently, however, Steve Chalke has rejected three biblical doctrines that are foundational to the Christian faith: creation, the Fall and redemption.
Steve Chalke’s Oasis Trust is planning to open one of the Labour Government’s 200 new academy schools.2 Readers of this website may remember the visit of Ken Ham to one of these academy schools in Gateshead in March 2002 and the subsequent question to the Prime Minister, Tony Blair, about whether he believed that creation should be taught in schools in the UK.3 However, when Steve Chalke announced his intention to open a faith-based academy in Enfield, north London, he said that it would not teach the creationist view of the world. He is quoted as saying:4
My personal belief is that … those who wish to read into Genesis chapter one that God made the world in six days … are not being honest and scholarly. It won’t be taught in the school because I think it’s rubbish. It’s a bizarre thing to claim the Bible suggests that. Genesis is saying that behind creation is a good God [emphasis added].
This widely recognised evangelical leader maintains that teaching creation—that God created the world in six days—is rubbish! How then can he come to the conclusion that there is a good God behind creation? You see, if you reject creation in six days and accept the millions of years, then you have to accept death before Adam. You have to accept that God oversaw (or used, if you are a theistic evolutionist) millions of years of death, disease, killing, struggle and extinction to produce his creation. But a good God did indeed create a very good world (Genesis 1:31) and this was spoiled by Adam’s sin.
The rejection of the doctrine of creation logically leads to a rejection of the Fall. And this is what Steve Chalke does in his book entitled The Lost Message of Jesus5 which he coauthored with Alan Mann. In this book, he rejects the doctrine of original sin and replaces it with original goodness. The following rather lengthy extract from page 67 of his book amply demonstrates this point.
Too often we fail to look at others through the eyes of Jesus. While we have spent centuries arguing over the doctrine of original sin, pouring [sic] over the Bible and huge theological tomes to prove the inherent sinfulness of all humankind, we have missed a startling point: Jesus believed in original goodness! God declared that all his creation, including humankind, was very good. And it’s this original goodness that Jesus seeks out in us. That’s not to suggest that Jesus is denying that our relationship with God is in need of reconciliation, but that he is rejecting any idea that we are, somehow, beyond the pale.
To see humanity as inherently evil and steeped in original sin instead of inherently made in God’s image and so bathed in original goodness, however hidden it may have become, is a serious mistake. It is this grave error that has dogged the Church in the West for centuries.
God did originally make humans perfect, but Adam’s disobedience has marred that perfection. God did originally make humans in God’s image and likeness and although we are all marred by sin, that image has not been totally obliterated by the Fall. If it had been completely obliterated, then people could not be held responsible for their sin. Steve Chalke disregards the Fall and believes that Jesus comes to seek out the original goodness in us, which is now merely hidden. It seems that Steve Chalke cannot see that the doctrine of the creation of man in God’s image and the doctrine of original sin are not mutually exclusive. The church throughout the centuries has maintained both doctrines, so why has Steve Chalke rejected this?
If you reject creation and the Fall, the only logical conclusion is that you must reject redemption as well. And this is precisely what Steve Chalke has done. Referring to the Lord Jesus Christ’s resurrection, Steve Chalke tells us that the message of the resurrection “is that you can trust Jesus with your life. You can put his philosophy for life up against any other the world has to offer because it works.”6 No mention here about sin and repentance, for one simple reason: Steve Chalke rejects the doctrine of redemption. He calls the doctrine of penal substitution—that Jesus took on Himself our sins on the cross and was punished by God as a result—cosmic child abuse.7 Furthermore, he claims that “both people inside and outside of the Church have found this twisted version of events morally dubious and a huge barrier to faith.”8
The belief system of Steve Chalke amply demonstrates the domino effect. If you reject creation, then you inevitably reject the Fall. And if you reject the Fall, then you eventually have to reject redemption. This is why ministries such as Answers in Genesis exist—to help Christians to believe the Bible from the very first verse.