THE founder of the Oasis Trust and Faithworks, the Revd Steve
Chalke, defended his Evangelical credentials this week after
stating his support for committed same-sex relationships.
In an article published in the magazine Christianity,
Mr Chalke said that the Church should "consider nurturing positive
models for permanent and monogamous homosexual relationships". He
also said that he had "conducted a dedication and blessing service
following the civil partnership of two wonderful gay Christians",
at Oasis Church Waterloo, in London, where he is minister.
Mr Chalke said that he had arrived at his view "not out of any
disregard for the Bible's authority, but by way of grappling with
it, and, through prayerful reflection, seeking to take it
The director of the Evangelical Alliance (EA), Steve Clifford,
said on Tuesday that Mr Chalke had "distanced himself from the vast
majority of the Evangelical community here in the UK . . . [and]
from the Church across the world and 2000 years of biblical
interpretation. . .
"The danger we all face - and I fear Steve has succumbed to - is
that we produce 'a god' in our own likeness, or in the likeness of
the culture in which we find ourselves. Steve's approach to
biblical interpretation allows for a god in the likeness of
21st-century Western European mind-sets."
Speaking on Tuesday, Mr Chalke said that he disagreed with Mr
Clifford. "Copernicus and Galileo were accused of exactly that: a
secularist, European mind-set," he said.
"My whole argument is based around dealing with the Bible, and
the issue of exegesis and hermeneutics. We now have a much deeper
understanding of the Bible itself, and of the cultural issues into
which Paul and other New Testament writers were writing." His views
should not put him beyond the pale of Evangelicalism, he said. "I
cling to the term Evangelical; I don't see why I should give it
On same-sex marriage, Mr Chalke said: "My point of view is that
the law provides for civil partnership . . . For a couple who seek
to live together in a lifelong committed relationship, I want to
add my support and my blessing to that; and I believe that God adds
Mr Chalke said that the Baptist Union of Great Britain had
"imposed a ban on Baptist ministers' blessing civil partnerships",
but that he had "never signed anything".
He said: "A question for us as Baptists to debate is surely that
something passed centrally, which says 'you cannot do this,' isn't
very Baptist. The whole thing about being a Baptist is that the
local congregation governs itself."
The Revd Benny Hazlehurst, a spokesman for Accepting
Evangelicals, of which Mr Chalke is a member, said: "Steve's
courage and honesty will be an inspiration to the growing numbers
of Evangelicals who are increasingly uncomfortable with traditional
Evangelical teaching on sexuality. It will also act as a beacon of
hope to LGBT Evangelicals who long to be fully accepted in their
It is not the first time that Mr Chalke's views have provoked
criticism from other Evangelicals. In 2004, he faced hostile
questioning at a meeting organised by the EA after the publication
of his book The Lost Message of Jesus (Zondervan), which
questioned the theology of penal substitution (
News, 15 October 2004).
An extended version of Mr Chalke's article can be read here. The EA has also published this article by Dr Steve Holmes, senior
lecturer in theology at St Andrew's University. Fulcrum has
published a response by the Revd Martin Kuhrt, Vicar
of the Church of the Holy Spirit, Bedgrove,