I have discovered yet another reason why I am not an evangelical using the Adrian Warnock formula (motto: evangelicals are Christians who agree with me).
It all becomes clear when you read his latest diatribe on atonement: THE ATONEMENT DEBATE – Steve Chalke Confirms He Does Not Believe in Penal Substitution.
An underlying message is: You are not an evangelical if your faith develops especially if your understanding changes at all.
I could suggest some slogans:
- Evangelicals don't change
- Warning you are entering a no thinking zone
- I used to be an evangelical but then I changed my views on whether bread should be sliced or not
This comes from Adrian's paragraph that attempts to tear apart Tom Wright and Steve Chalke. He tries to build something out of nothing by not recognising that all our views change and develop, we do not always present ourselves in exactly the same way. Adrian seems to be trying to drive a wedge between them by ignoring that fact that all our understanding is provisional and that those who think and reflect on their understanding of God will move onward in their theology. It appears that Adrian thinks such reflection and development is wrong.
One comment by Adrian "To be honest, sometimes Wright can be hard to fathom and it takes great patience to dissect him fully" reminded me of someone else. Ah yes 2 Peter 3:15-16:
brother Paul also wrote you with the wisdom that God gave him. He writes the same way in all his letters, speaking in them of these
matters. His letters contain some things that are hard to understand,
which ignorant and unstable people distort, as they do the other
Scriptures, to their own destruction.
Remember that at this point Adrian is struggling for arguments. He has tried to claim that Steve Chalke cannot be an evangelical because he does not believe in penal substitution BUT that argument fails. The Evangelical Alliance (in their basis of faith, in their historical summary of what an evangelical is and in the book he is reviewing [see 42: Back on form: defining evangelical]) are consistent that Penal Substitution is not part of the definition however much Adrian wants it to be.
So now Adrian is hunting around for other reasons. Here we have had multiple arguments of straw.
- Steve used powerful imagery ("cosmic child abuse") in presenting arguments against penal substitution. Solution: attack the language while ignoring the argument.
- Steve may or may not agree with Tom Wright on Penal Substitution. Solution: Accuse them of changing their thinking. Accuse Tom Wright of being difficult to fully understand (a terrible offence because of course everything about the creator of the universe is plain and simple – well as long as you don't actually think about it).
- He disagrees with a book Adrian likes. Solution tell everyone they must buy this book, pretend it answers all their questions. Make sure it is a thick book that is hard to get hold of and ignore the powerful critiques of it. Note I have read Pierced for our Transgressions, I wrote quite a few posts on it and totally agree with Tom Wright that it is “deeply, profoundly, and disturbingly unbiblical”. Interestingly enough in his post Adrian comments on how well John Piper dissects Tom Wright, interesting because I dissected John Pipers forward to Pierced for our transgressions in detail: 42: PFOT: The Foreword by John Piper and 42: PFOT: The Foreword part 2 it uses scripture in a way that I can only describe as bizarre.
- Knowing that you hold an extreme view, ignore that and instead claim that almost everyone agrees with you "he then goes on to explain why he does not believe in PSA as almost everyone would define it." Of course be careful to to think about what a small subsection of society, of Christians, of protestants and even of evangelicals you actually mean by "almost everyone"
Tune in tomorrow because apparently there is more! Maybe we might even get a credible argument (please don't hold your breath – it could be dangerous).