Momentum: What do Eric and Bill Johnson (Bethel) teach?

In previous articles I’ve talked about the challenges of interacting with specific people when we disagree. There is the risk that we personalise things that should not be personalised and that we also use famous names, to provide a theological kind of click-bait.

At the same time, elders have a responsibility to guard as well as to feed and so, no matter how reluctantly and cautiously, there are times when we need to step into the fray and to name names.  The challenge is that there are so many novel ideas and big personalities around that we cannot keep up with anything and everything.

With those things in mind, I decided to pick up a book by Eric and Bill Johnson from Bethel Church in Redding California. I picked it up because it was being promoted, on prominent display in our local Christian Bookshop. Also, I’ve been aware of the fuss surrounding Bethel for a little while. There’s two sides to this. First of all, Bethel is extremely popular both in terms of its reputation as a “revival centre” and in the music that is coming out of it.  Secondly, a number of people have questioned the theology underpinning the church and whether or not its orthodox.  Of course, Christian leaders are there to be shot down, especially when amazing things are happening around them, so it is possible that they are being misunderstood or misrepresented. However, the popularity and prominence of Bethel means that this is something relevant to the life of our local church. It is important that our members are able to discern truth from error. Continue reading

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Christ: filter or lens? Is Steve Chalke’s hermeneutic right?

Steve Chalke argues that because Jesus is the infallible Word of God and the one to whom Scripture points, we must read Scripture in the light of his life and teaching. So far, so good except that for Chalke, this means that he looks at Scriptures which he struggles with and if he finds that they don’t fit with his understanding of Christ’s life and teaching then he does not have to agree with them. Continue reading

..but the Bible doesn’t claim to be the Word of God does it? – more on the Steve Chalke debate

One of the oddest arguments by professing Christians in the most recent Steve Chalke dispute is “The Bible doesn’ claim to be the Word of God.” It’s an odd claim because: Continue reading

Steve Chalke Responds: Is the Bible the Word of God? Is it infallible?

Following David Robertson’s robust critique of his position, Premier Christianity invited Steve Chalke to respond and explain more about how he understood Scripture.

You can read Steve’s article here.

I want to pick up on a few things in Steve’s article.  Continue reading

When Expository Preaching is not expository preaching

I believe in expository preaching.  I don’t think we should slavishly stick to one approach at all times, there are contexts when I think it is right to pick up on a theme, topic or character however, I believe that the primary content of our preaching diet should be expository. By this I mean that the preacher’s responsibility is to take the test and expound on it showing what it is saying and applying it to the congregation.

However, there is the risk that we can think we are doing expository preaching when we are not. Glen Scrivener makes the point far better than I can with humour and poetry here:

I want to suggest that it is not expository preaching if: Continue reading

Does the Bible require a woman to marry her rapist?

One of the reasons why people like Steve Chalke are asking us to re-evaluate the nature and role of Scripture is because of some of the challenging texts that seem to go against our contemporary cultural ethics and even against Christian morality.

One of the examples given of this is Deuteronomy 22:28-29 which the NIV translates:

“28 If a man happens to meet a virgin who is not pledged to be married and rapes her and they are discovered, 29 he shall pay her father fifty shekels[c] of silver. He must marry the young woman, for he has violated her. He can never divorce her as long as he lives.” Continue reading

Taking Scripture seriously: Why Steve Chalke gets the Bible wrong

Steve Chalke has been posting a series of 95 short film clips to mark the Reformation. His aim is to encourage a conversation and in effect a new reformation in our approach to Scripture.

In video 10 he talks about the Bible being a library of books that reflect the faulty cultural views of the authors.  This means that:

“These books chart the long discussion between God who inspired, initiated and pushed the conversation forward and men and women created in his image.”

“These books reveal the all too often partial but at the same time gradually expanding human understanding of the character of God and what it means to be human.” Continue reading