Is Steve Chalke a Heretic?


Steve Chalke

When I was a teenager, a young trainee pastor at Bible college came to lead a youth weekend at our church. The main thing that I remember is that he talked about sex, and it was one of the few youth weekends I attended that was not boring. His name was Steve Chalke.

Several years later, I heard of Steve Chalke again when he set up a charity, aimed at helping homeless people, which morphed (the charity, not the homeless people) into Oasis Trust. I was therefore interested when recently, during dinner with a friend, they mentioned that Steve Chalke had been ‘thrown out’ of the Evangelical Alliance. Was such a thing even possible? I had (wrongly) assumed that the Evangelical Alliance was a union for anyone who called themselves a Christian, a place to share ideas and resources, and which organised events which might prove helpful to said Christians. I had not realised it was possible to either ‘belong’ or be ‘thrown out’. What, I wondered, had SC done which merited being thrown out of this esteemed organisation? Had he murdered someone, eaten babies, kicked a dog? No! He had, apparently, become a heretic.

I heard a few whispers about the apparent downfall of SC. I heard that he had turned his back on evangelical Christianity, that he questioned the crucifixion, and even went as far as to call the death of Jesus “child abuse”. I wondered if I was hearing things properly. Searches online were varied, and it was hard to find the truth. I decided to buy his book, The Lost Message of Paul, and decide for myself.

The book is, to be honest, challenging. It begins with an introduction, when SC explains that he is rethinking his faith, and says he is hoping for an informed debate. It seems somewhat ironic to me that the reaction of established Christianity is simply to rebrand Chalke as a heretic and to exclude him from the Evangelical Alliance—but perhaps the debate happened before I was aware of this, and there were other reasons for his exclusion. I again checked online, but he is still the pastor of a church, still working amongst some of the neediest people in our society. I listened to an online interview, and he was still saying that he believes in one God, still believes in the death and resurrection of Jesus, so what is the reason for his exclusion? Maybe he really did eat a baby.

The book gave some insight as to why people find his ideas difficult—I find them difficult myself. The book basically gives good insight into the culture in which the Bible books were first written, and then questions whether we have properly interpreted what the words are saying. My understanding is that SC now questions whether the idea of ‘original sin’ is correct (the idea that when man sinned in the story of Genesis, that sin was then passed down to every person in every generation that followed, hence separating them from God). He makes the point that Genesis is a Jewish book, written in Hebrew, and yet Christians never ask Jews today what their understanding is, we never think about what the words would have meant in Hebrew.

Much of his explanations are very interesting—did you know that in Hebrew, you cannot have a word for an emotion? So, when it talks about God’s anger, it actually talks about God’s nose, because when you’re angry you snort through your nose? But that word could also be translated as passion, or fury, or great sadness?

I felt that SC’s views here (if I was understanding them correctly) were flawed. I never taught any of my children to do wrong, and yet they all did, so my experience suggests that people are born ‘sinful’ and the rest of the Bible seems to support this. If we are all ‘sinful’ then how can we approach God, who has no sin? Surely before we can approach, we need to be washed, there needs to be some kind of repentance? But his argument is persuasive, it cannot easily be dismissed, and gives pause for thought. (Or, of course, you could just chuck him out of your club.)

SC also builds a case for refuting Hell, or that people will be eternally damned. He says that this idea was first introduced by the Renaissance poets and artists (like Dante) and were not based on the Bible at all. SC does think that there will be judgement, but that it will not be an eternal suffering, more of a refining fire that will prepare us for our eternity with God. One example is when Jesus talks about Hell, and the gnashing of teeth, which SC says should never have been translated at all, as the word Jesus used (translated as ‘Hell’) was an actual place, used as a rubbish tip, where wild dogs lived (and gnashed their teeth) and that Jesus is asking, would you rather live with God, or in that place?

There is too much in the book for me to cover everything here, and I found many of the ideas troubling, though also that many fitted with my understanding of God. One of the main points made by SC was that God does not create people for eternal suffering, in other words: Hell, as usually defined, is a human invention and does not exist in the form we imagine. SC says he cannot accept that God, who is defined as Love, could create people knowing that they will eventually be destined for eternal suffering.

SC makes the point that if you asked Paul, or any of the early apostles, how they knew that they were saved, they would look at you blankly, and reply: “Because I am a Jew.” The Jews believed that, simply because they were Jewish, they were chosen, they were ‘saved’. SC argues that when Jesus died and rose again, this grace of God, was automatically extended to non-Jews, in short, that all people were now ‘chosen’ and therefore ‘saved’. He points out that when Paul writes that ‘through one man, all have sinned,’ we have no problem accepting that this means that due to the actions of Adam, who represents the first human, all people now sin. However, when, in the same passage, Paul then says that through the actions of Jesus, all are now saved, we start to add caveats. We say things like, ‘but it only applies if people have faith’ or ‘but people have to believe in the New Testament, and ask God into their lives, otherwise it doesn’t count.’ But that is not what is written. It is written as an equation—Adam sinned, so all sin: Jesus rose, so all are saved. It is, I feel, a compelling argument.

I find that I am left with a lot of questions after reading this book. SC has written a second book, and I will read that and see if it offers some clarity. There are things I disagree with, but some I find it difficult to define quite why I disagree. There are other points which I would like, very much, to be correct, but have not yet decided if it is wishful thinking or true. SC is undoubtedly a talented speaker/persuader, but that does not necessarily mean that he is correct.

Would I recommend this book? Well, that rather depends on who you are. If you don’t feel that you know everything about God, and that there is more to faith than perhaps you have discovered, then you might find this interesting. However, if you think you have faith and God pretty much ‘sorted’, and really you want to read things that backup rather than challenge your views, then perhaps you should avoid this book. SC writes that he hopes his book will start a discussion. My feeling is that it probably will (I for one am bursting to discuss his views with other people!) but unfortunately for SC, I suspect that he will not be part of those discussions. He has stated his views, people will now either agree or disagree with them, but as with most leaders, I expect the only feedback he receives will be negative. It is also quite likely to be voiced by people who have not read his book and have simply heard vague quotes. I do not know whether what SC wrote is correct, but I’m glad he wrote it because I think it’s good to sometimes question what we believe and explore other ideas. None of us knows all there is to know about God, he is beyond our understanding; but we can strive to understand a little more. What do you think?

Thank you for reading.
anneethompson.com
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If you prefer to read a slightly lighter book, then have a look at my latest novel, Ploughing Through Rainbows.

A feel-good family saga, set on a farm, the story explores how parenthood never ends. It’s a lovely book to relax with, or to buy for a friend. Available as both a Kindle book, or as a paperback, from an Amazon near you. Don’t forget to have a look, UK link below:

UK link here

A hilarious family saga set on a farm. Being a parent has no end-date, as Susan discovers when her adult sons begin to make unexpected choices in life.
A warm-hearted, feel good novel that will make you smile.

The Little Drummer Girl


The Little Drummer Girl by John Le Carré

(This review contains spoilers!)

I first watched this on an overnight flight from Hong Kong. I planned to sleep, but had the box-set on in the background. It was fascinating, but there was lots which I didn’t understand, so I think I drifted off to sleep for chunks of it. When I got home, I ordered the book on my Kindle, and tried to untangle the confusion. It really is, an excellent book, with a complicated plot.

The story basically charts the training of a spy. She is a young actress, and therefore unknown in the spying world. She is seduced by Zionists, and persuaded that spying is simply acting, with the real world as your stage. The idea is a good one, and probably close to the truth—I guess to spy you are pretending to be someone else.

A cover story is created, which the actress has to ‘live’, so that if she is ever questioned, she will be relying on real memories in her answers. She falls in love with her trainer (so did I, a little, he is the absolute tall dark stranger, a silent strong type).

However, the real interest for me was the exploration of the whole Zionist issue. While the actress is being prepared for her role, she needs to absorb the teachings and propaganda of the Palestinians. Gradually, they change from being simply terrorists willing to kill and maim innocent bystanders, and become real people with a cause. The reader is gradually shown that neither side in the debate is without blame, and that the issue is much more complicated than it first appears.

For example, there is some discussion about the Jews, who were made a faceless non-human by the Nazis, and therefore able to be exterminated. When they then went to Israel, after the war, their view of the Palestinians was not so different. They also considered them as lesser humans, people who had no right to live in the land promised to the Jews. In their minds, they exterminated them. In reality, they took their homes and land, places they had been settled in for generations. The book also talked of the unprovoked violence that peaceful Palestinians encountered, and how it had forced them to become an army, so the rest of the world listened to them.

Now, this is a work of fiction, and therefore one assumes that both the characters and the situations have been romanticised. But it does also ask some real questions, and encourages the reader to look at the issues in the Middle East from both sides. When the actress finally joins the Palestinians, she bonds with them, loves some of them, watches children being killed by the Zionist army. We, the reader, wonder whether she will turn, and instead of spying for the Zionists, will join the Palestinians, and there is a moment of tension when you are unsure which way she will turn (as are her handlers).

I loved this book, even though sometimes I got a little lost and found it difficult to keep each character clear in my head. The issues explored are fascinating, the idea that neither side is perfect, that there is real hurt and despair inflicted on both peoples, and there are no easy answers. Of course, because this is a John Le Carré book, there are also beautiful descriptions, and moments of real humour, and the characters are so real you start to look for them in the street. It is the timeless sort of book that you can read and enjoy more than once.

Thank you for reading. Use your time wisely today.
Take care.
Love, Anne x

 

Anne E Thompson has written several novels and writes a regular blog each week. You can follow her blog at:
anneethompson.com

Have you read my latest novel: Ploughing Through Rainbows? It’s a great holiday read. Available from an Amazon near you as both a Kindle book and a paperback.

A hilarious family saga set on a farm. Being a parent has no end-date, as Susan discovers when her adult sons begin to make unexpected choices in life.
A warm-hearted, feel good novel that will make you smile.

German Amazon link here

UK link here

U.S. link here

An exciting surprise!


Good Morning!

This isn’t my normal time for posting blogs, but I wanted to share some news with you (because I’m very excited, and Son is in bed and Husband is at work, and I have to tell SOMEONE!) This morning, when I woke up, an envelope was waiting at the bottom of the stairs. When I opened it, I found a magazine. It’s an Arts magazine, and reviews art, literature, music and dance. As I flicked through the shiny pages, I found, on page 68, a review of CLARA. Wow! This is my first ever unsolicited review. How exciting!

I skimmed the review first, heart in mouth, wondering if I was going to read something critical. But no, the reviewer had found the book gripping. They describe being “glued to your seat and wondering at human nature”.

Clara is a pretty awful person (slight understatement) but the reviewer says: “I found myself fascinated – in the same way one can’t quite help but peer at an accident as one drives past – and in spite of myself, occasionally rooting for this woman as she ran roughshod over family and friends, so well was she written.”

Have you read Clara yet? Here is the Amazon UK link:https://www.amazon.co.uk/dp/B079T5NJP7?ref_=k4w_oembed_94cpRjkhwVeJc3&tag=kpembed-20&linkCode=kpd

Reading a review of Clara, when it’s written by someone who has never met me (and therefore has no reason to be kind) was rather scary. But the reviewer wrote such a lovely article, it has brightened my day!

Clara tells the story of a young woman, who shows all the traits of psychopathy – so she lies, is self-absorbed, unable to empathise with others, and feels no guilt. But then she is shocked into changing her behaviour, and although she is still a psychopath, still not able to feel as most people feel, her actions change, and instead of being destructive, she begins to achieve great things.

Clara can be ordered at any book shop or library. You can also order a copy directly from me, or from Amazon. Buy a copy now, in paperback or on Kindle, and enjoy reading a different sort of book.

Amazon Link

CLARA – A Good Psychopath?
by Anne E. Thompson
ISBN:9780995463257
You can order copies from any library or bookshop. Also available from my website:
anneethompson.com

Email from a stranger


I received this message, which was lovely, so I thought I would share it with you:

Comment: Dear Anne
I just wanted to let you know how much I enjoyed reading “Clara”. I was very much taken by the explanation you gave when you told me about your book at the East Grinstead book shop.
Some books stay with you when you have read them, and Clara was one of those for me.
I found Clara fascinating. I think there is a little bit of Clara in all of us, particularly in the way we all do try and manipulate others. However, unlike Clara, we will feel remorse for doing so.
At first I found the character of Clara intriguing as to how her mind worked. Then, the further she went, the more I started to feel uneasy about what she was doing. However, that then changed again when she went to India where she became a bit of an anti-heroine. I wondered what it would be like to try and communicate with her; knowing that would never be possible with someone like her. As soon as you were of no use she would just drop you.
Some books I buy to stretch the mind, others simply for the enjoyment as “page turners”. Clara was one of those books that did both for me. Thank you.
I went back to the bookshop today and purchased Joanna and Hidden Faces, and will continue to look out for your work.

Kind regards

Philip

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 Clara – A Good Psychopath? by Anne E. Thompson
ISBN 9780995463257
Published by The Cobweb Press
Available from book shops and Amazon.

Have you bought a copy yet?

 

 

Another week….


 

Have you read anything good lately? I’ve just started reading The Girl on the Train by Paula Hawkins, am hooked already. It took me a few pages before I started to like it, I wouldn’t have picked it up in a bookshop, read the beginning and then bought it; but after a couple of chapters it’s pretty addictive. I started reading it because daughter recommended it. So often, I buy books because someone has said they are good. (I am really really hoping that everyone who has enjoyed reading my book has told their friends and family…..authors depend on other people to stimulate sales.)

The Girl on the Train is mainly about Rachel, a girl whose life has fallen apart. As we learn more about her, about what led to her divorce and drinking and apathy with life, it seems as if the main catalyst was not being able to have children. That is so sad. I don’t know if the author has children, but she describes in detail how it feels to be unable to have them. I have no idea how accurate it is, but one thing she describes is feelings of jealousy towards people who conceive easily, and how she will avoid places where there are likely to be young families, even leaving supermarkets if there are too many mothers and babies shopping. So sad.

One strange thing about reading The Girl on the Train, is that the author has a very similar writing style to my own. Even the genre is the same as Joanna, so I felt like I was reading my own work – I found I was proofreading rather than just enjoying the story! She even makes some of the same mistakes (so that she has a tendency to use ‘that’ when it isn’t that necessary.) Very strange. At the end of her book she lists all the people who have helped her, including her agent. Given that her book is so similar to Joanna, I am considering sending the manuscript to them for consideration.

This caused me some stress. I found the agent’s website and looked at their submission policy. As with all these agents, it just seems so rude! It lists all the things they want posted (not emailed) such as cover letter, synopsis, first few chapters. They then tell you to check carefully and send everything they have asked for, or they will recycle it without looking at it. Then they say that after they have received your (hours of) work, if they don’t want to represent you, they won’t bother to reply. My inclination is to not send them my book. If they won’t even be polite, why should they have the opportunity to make money from my hard work? Husband tells me this is silly, this is how business works, I will increase my sales through a mainstream publisher. I like the control of self-publishing. Difficult decision. Perhaps I will do both. Self-publishing is good/excellent/fun until it comes to the selling and advertising – then it gets very difficult.

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Another stress point this week has been Milly. She was limping, and when I checked her paw, she had cut it badly. Now, I know about cuts (you learn lots of first aid when you have children.) I know that if you clean the wound, smear it with savlon, and cover it, it will heal – as long as you change the dressing every day. I figured the same would work with a cat. Cats however, are less helpful at staying still. Milly does this wriggling twisting manoeuvre whilst using her back legs to shred the skin from your arm. She got away from me and disappeared. Didn’t come near me for the next two days. When I finally caught her again the cut was worse, so I mortgaged the house and went to the vet. He examined her while she lay still and peaceful in my arms (think he must have hypnotised her.) He then dried the wound with a laser, gave her an antibiotic jab and told me to keep her inside for a few days. Sounds easy. But Milly is an outside cat, she lives in the workshop with her family. She does not want to be an inside cat.

I moved her into the utility room with Louise (the cranky old indoors cat – you can imagine how well that went.) I heaped heavy sacks of cat litter in front of the cat flap, and positioned a full watering can outside, with the spout against the flap so it couldn’t be pushed open. Escape proof – I thought. Milly and Louise were both unhappy, and Molly and Midge (other two outside cats) kept prowling around, trying to find Milly. (Mandy is also an outside cat, but not very clever – I don’t think she noticed.)

The following morning I went into the utility room. No cats. They had shredded the sacks of cat litter, so that was all over the floor. Someone had moved the watering can spout, so I think they had help from outside. Milly, Molly and Midge were all missing. Only Mandy was in the workshop, looking confused.

Eventually, I found the escapee, changed the method of catflap blocking and put her back inside. The paw was now filthy, so goodness knows if it will still heal properly. After a couple of days, she got used to the heat of the house and now seems quite contented. She curls up with the dog and sleeps on the sofa…..Am thinking I might have a problem moving her back outside….

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Take care,
Anne x

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Thank you for reading.

Have you bought Hidden Faces yet? A good gift for someone who you want to make smile…

Hidden Faces, is available from bookshops and Amazon.

https://www.amazon.co.uk/Hidden-Faces-Anne-E-Thompson/dp/0995463204/ref=sr_1_1?ie=UTF8&qid=1476260112&sr=8-1&keywords=hidden+faces+by+anne+e+thompson

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Book Promo


I have just submitted the following article to an online newspaper. I thought I would share it with you too…..

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A few years ago, I was at a party enjoying a white wine, when someone said to me, “Oh, you drink!”
I was their five year old child’s school teacher, and because I spent my days reciting nursery rhymes and counting to ten, they obviously thought this continued after work too.The fact that their child’s teacher was drinking, even (horrors) slightly tipsy, was shocking!

Primary school teachers tend to not smoke and swear when at work, they don’t have sex or lose their temper. Some people think they don’t at home either.

I met similar views when growing up. My father was a Baptist minister, and growing up in a manse was a strange experience. We were seen as ‘different’, as people who didn’t behave as ‘normal’ people did. It was also assumed that my thoughts and views would be the same as my father’s. I recall giving an opinion once, and someone saying, “But your father doesn’t think that.” They were totally confused – how could I have a different point of view to my father, when he was the minister?

I began writing full time two years ago. I was invited to a lunch, and the after dinner speaker was the bestselling author Adele Parks. As she told us her story, how she loved to tell stories and write, I thought, ‘I could do that.’ I have always told stories – to my children and pupils and friends – now I write them down and tell them to strangers.

When I wrote my first book, Hidden Faces, I wanted to show that people have different sides, different masks if you like. Everyone says ‘write what you know’, and I followed this advice with my first book. I wrote about being a primary school teacher, I wrote about growing up in a Baptist manse, I wrote about people having different sides to their characters, changing their behaviour to fit who they’re with.

I have now written three books, the second will be published in the Spring 2017. I am a person who likes to laugh, and that humour infiltrates my books, making the stories an easy read. I tend to write about strong women and teenaged boys, because these are the people who I know best.

Anne E. Thompson writes a weekly blog at anneethompson.com

Her first book, Hidden Faces, is available from bookshops and Amazon.

https://www.amazon.co.uk/Hidden-Faces-Anne-E-Thompson/dp/0995463204/ref=sr_1_1?ie=UTF8&qid=1476260112&sr=8-1&keywords=hidden+faces+by+anne+e+thompson

Hidden Faces final cover 6 July 2016

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Book Review….


Book Review (No spoilers!)
The Night Manager by John leCarre

Now, this is quite funny. I decided to read something different. I had finished The Night Manager (review below) and I wanted to read something easy and light. Usually I read spy/crime/thrillers. I thought I would try something completely different. So, there is a woman, who uses Twitter a LOT. Honestly, her face is always on there! So, I thought, okay, she seems to have written several books, and is clearly trying very hard to market them (she has my sympathy) I will try one.

Well, then it gets to the funny bit. You see, I went on to my Twitter account, to find the link to her latest book so I could buy it and…..she had blocked me! I didn’t even know you could block people on Twitter. I am not completely sure why she did this, possibly it was a mistake, or it might be because a while ago, I posted something on Twitter and she commented. I then reposted it, and she sent me a message, complaining I had deleted her comments. I had not – at least not intentionally – I wouldn’t know how to even if I wanted to, in fact, I hadn’t even seen her comments. But my IT skills are fairly basic, so I replied, apologising and saying it was in error, not to be nasty. Perhaps she didn’t believe me. Perhaps there was another reason. But she has blocked me.

So, what to do? At first I was rather put out, decided I would buy someone else’s book. Then I decided that was silly, why should I change my mind just because I had been blocked from her Twitter feed? It might have been a mistake, or maybe she has an ill mother or some other stress in her life that I don’t know about, and had over reacted. I am not perfect myself. Sometimes I react wrongly. Sometimes I need people to cut me some slack and ignore a sharp tone or a statement that came out wrong. So, I bought her book. If I like it, I’ll write a review (if I don’t like it, I won’t. No need to write a bad review, there is enough negativity in the world.) I haven’t had time to read it yet, so watch this space…
So, on to The Night Manager.

My brother told me I should buy The Night Manager DVD. His recommendations are usually good, so I did. The DVD shows all the episodes from the television series. I didn’t even know it had been a television series (I don’t watch telly much.) So, Son 2 was home, and after dinner each evening, we sat and watched one, or sometimes two, episodes. It was brilliant (hence the rather indulgent two episodes some evenings!) A good mix of brilliant acting, a great script and that fine balance between not being confused while watching but also not being able to guess quite HOW it was going to end. Worth investing a few hours of relaxation.

When we had watched the last episode, I decided to buy the book for when we went on holiday. John leCarre is one of my favourite authors – in fact, he is the person in the world who I would most like to meet for coffee. I’ve seen him interviewed a couple of times, plus I love his writing, I think his brain is amazing and that he would make for a very interesting person to chat to. But anyway, back to the book. Although I have read quite a lot of his work, I had missed The Night Manager, so downloaded the Kindle version and read it on holiday. It did not disappoint.

I would definitely recommend that you watch the televised version first, and then read the book. The characters in the drama are excellent, and when I read the book, I could still hear their voices in my head. Even though one of the characters actually changes gender between the telly version and the book, it doesn’t spoil the enjoyment at all. In fact, a lot about the book was different. There are huge differences in plot, places and finale. But the essence of the characters and the main themes in the story, remain true in both.

At the end of the book, there is a short conclusion by John leCarre. He also comments on the differences, saying that when he heard they were going to change so much in the filmed version, his thought was to tell them to “write your own bloody book”. I’m so glad he didn’t, that he was wise enough to trust the people who made the televised version. We can enjoy both of them.

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Amazon link:
https://www.amazon.co.uk/Night-Manager-John-Carré/dp/0340597658/ref=sr_1_5?ie=UTF8&qid=1474219070&sr=8-5&keywords=the+night+manager

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Thank you for reading.

If you enjoy good books, why not try Hidden Faces?

Hidden Faces final cover 6 July 2016

https://www.amazon.co.uk/Hidden-Faces-Anne-E-Thompson/dp/0995463204/ref=sr_1_1?ie=UTF8&qid=1474385833&sr=8-1&keywords=hidden+faces+by+anne+e+thompson

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Next week I write about our church, which also tends to have things go unexpectedly wrong.

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