The Lost Message of Chalke

Jun 8, 2019 by

by David Robertson, Christian Today:

In 2004, Steve Chalke discovered ‘The Lost Message of Jesus’ and published his book with that name. Fifteen years later he has discovered ‘The Lost Message of Paul’, and this month publishes a book with that title.

This is an easy to read, and well-written book – much better stylistically than the earlier work. As always with Chalke the book will be described as ‘controversial’ and will delight some (like Rob Bell and Brian McLaren) and appall others. From a personal perspective I found that The Lost Message of Paul contained some interesting information, provocative arguments, challenging questions and old heresies.

Steve argues that ‘all the old narratives are dead’ and that we need a ‘new story’. He blames Augustine, Luther and Calvin for getting Paul’s message wrong. But his new story suffers from some major defects.

Biblically Inaccurate

Amongst the other earth shattering revelations, we are informed that Paul was not a Christian – “it is a mistake to regard Paul as a Christian. Paul wasn’t a Christian. He was a Jew”. This is sadly all too typical of the style that Chalke employs – make a shocking statement based on a false dichotomy and there are some who will say ‘wow’!

But others who know their Bibles will recognise that this particular theological emperor has no clothes. King Agrippa assumed that Paul was a Christian and that he was trying to make him one (Acts 26:28).

Chalke’s error is to forget that you can be both a Jew and a Christian (as most of the very early Christians were). Indeed you could argue that Paul was amongst the very first to be called a Christian. “And when he found him, he brought him to Antioch. So for a whole year Barnabas and Saul met with the church and taught great numbers of people. The disciples were called Christians first at Antioch.” (Acts 11:26)

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