Monday, April 23, 2007

Wright on Chalke & Pierced (updated links)

The Rt Revd Dr N. T. Wright’s The Cross and the Caricatures: a response to Robert Jenson, Jeffrey John, and a new volume entitled Pierced for Our Transgressions (Eastertide, 2007), on the Fulcrum website, seems to me extremely ill-judged in its comments on PfOT.

I sympathise with Revd John Richardson’s reflections.

There seems to be a very charitable reading of Revd Steve Chalke’s position in Wright’s article and a lumping together of Drs Jeffrey, Ovey and Sach with a lot of other bad stuff Wright has come across.

It seems from Wright’s discussion that The Lost Message of Jesus wasn’t as “clear” as Wright’s initial endorsement suggested. However, from Chalke’s subsequent writings and from the Evangelical Alliance symposium at London School of Theology, it seemed clear to me that Chalke was repudiating any doctrine of penal substitution, not just a caricature of it.

If Steve Chalke really believes in (the well-defined, carefully stated, classic, orthodox, biblical doctrine of) Penal Substitution, why doesn’t he just say so in print in clear unambiguous terms?

I have heard Tom Wright complain that people often criticize him for what he is not saying, which is exactly what he does to J, O and S.

Some of Wright’s discussion has the feel of “I wouldn’t have written the book this way and their book should be more like my books (like Chalke’s is).”

Pierced for Our Transgressions is already a long book and criticisms which suggest that it should amount to a commentary on Romans, Galatians and the Gospels, or which treat it as if it claimed to be a comprehensive statement of everything one might want to say about Jesus, the gospel or even the cross are obviously unfair.

It is patronising and, I’m sure just plain wrong, to say that “the authors have scarcely begun to grasp” the foundational fact that “the cross means what it means as the climax of the entire story of Jesus – and that the story of Jesus means what it means as the climax of the entire narrative to which the gospels offer themselves as the climactic and decisive moment, namely, the story of Israel from Abraham to Jesus… , and thus the story of Israel seen as the divine answer to the problem of Adam.” – an account which I’m sure J O and S would endorse.

I’m sad to say I thought that Wright fell into what he laments: “political labelling and dismissal of people on the basis of either flimsy evidence or ‘guilt by association’” in his characterization of “the new right-wing (so-called ‘conservative’) evangelicals.”

Links:

Jeffrey, Ovey and Sach's reponse to Tom Wright seems spot on to me.

See also comments by Revd Dr David Field, Revd Matthew Mason, Ros Clarke, Revd Doug Wilson.

Let’s pray for love and unity in the truth, repentance where it is due and the confounding of error.

4 comments:

ros said...

If Steve Chalke really believes in (the well-defined, carefully stated, classic, orthodox, biblical doctrine of) Penal Substitution, why doesn’t he just say so in print in clear unambiguous terms?

Or why didn't he follow the example of his co-author, Alan Mann and (a) actually attend the whole of the EA symposium and (b) state at a public meeting there that he did believe in PSA and was sorry if that had not been clear from his writing.

dave williams said...

The reality is that because he went so far in wider material by publishing an article in Christianity that affirmed his denial of PSA and that Alan Mann's subsequent book further emphasised a watered down concept of sin, to own any form of PSA now would involve an admission of wrong. A little bit of humility and humanness is wanting

dave williams said...

Sach, Ovey and Jeffries are provided the following response to Wright

http://piercedforourtransgressions.com/content/view/107/51/

dave williams said...

I have written to Oasis and to Fulcrum asking that they publish a retraction or clarification from Chalke. That Fulcrum publish an official link to S, J and O's response and that Oasis withdraw Chalkes article attacking PSA -if Wrights assurances about Chalke's views are correct. I suggest everyone else does the same -the more pressure for truth and integrity the better