Friday, September 17, 2004

Context, Context, Context...

I still have not read Steve Chalke’s book, but here is an assessment from Andy Gemmill, pastor of Beeston Evangelical Free Church in Nottingam, when speaking at Bible Week in Derby 2004 (this is my own transcription of the tape):

Some of you may have come across a book by Steve Chalke called The Lost Message of Jesus. Not a very encouraging title, I have to say, for what turns out to be not a very encouraging book. It’s a very, very unhelpful book and in it he redefines most of the big, core Christian doctrines. He redefines his understanding of the character of God. He redefines the Bible’s understanding of human nature. He redefines the work of Jesus on the Cross.

And the method he uses in that is crucial for his being able to do those things. He very frequently quotes from the Gospels. In fact, the book is full of quotations from the Gospels. But, he fails to take into account that the Gospels contain in themselves quotes and ideas from the Old Testament. And again and again, when looking at the Gospels, he ignores the context of those Old Testament ideas, which means he has a Jesus who is kind of free-floating and lacking in definition. That is why he is able to reinterpret Jesus in the way that he does. It’s a dangerous book because it is well written, but it’s not Christian.

Apparently, quite a few people were upset about it afterwards. Steve Chalke is held in high esteem by many. But Andy reminds us of a very important principle: Scripture must be interpreted in ever-increasing circles of context. The OT is one of these circles. But, then, most of us are too lazy to read it very often.

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