I didn’t have much of a handle on the news yesterday, but was both shocked and saddened to learn that after months of discussions the EA has ended the membership of Oasis. The EA statement may be read in its entirety here. There are various articles around the web: Church Times, Christianity magazine, and Oasis has issued a response statement here.
What have Oasis done … a massive amount of great transforming mission across the world, works hard to make a positive impact in addressing people traffiking in this country, hard work to becomes the sponsor of 20 academies in the UK, 13 hubs across the UK in communities where transformation needs to happen; in addition to planting the seed of missional dna in the lives of thousands of people who they have trained, worked with and given opportunities to.
But …. if you are on the board of the Evangelical Alliance all that transformation of communities and individual persons lives that Oasis has invested in amount to nothing when it comes to membership of the EA.
And why? All because Steve Chalke has done some serious theological thinking and arrived, where many other Christians are, to a point where he can confidently say that God is an inclusive God. Because Steve sees no problem in scripture with loving committed homosexual relationships it seems that Oasis is no longer welcome round the table. You can remind yourself of Steve views by going here.
This is pretty bizarre for an organisation with a strapline of ‘we are better together‘. The EA picture here also grates a little … because clearly EA are not here for ‘you’ unless you agree and comply totally with what they think to be truth. I would suggest, as well, that this inclusive picture is pretty misleading in light of their Oasis stament. Their statement includes the words ‘they were unwilling to fulfil the council’s request to adjust the content of their website/resources and social media output to equally profile the traditional Christian view.’
So … if we look at this pragmatically, this group do not really want an alliance …. they want compliance, all agreeing every fine detail before acceptance is issued. I’m so glad I don’t believe in a God like that … what a horrendous image, God who wants you to be just like everyone else, believe all the right things, and behaving in certain ways. The God outside of this is a God of grace, a God of love … a God of acceptance.
This coming so soon after the World Visiongate fiasco leaves me again questioning what this wing of the church, the wing I have grown up in, really sees as important. What is all this mission stuff about? Sadly, it seems to me that what is REALLY being said is that of paramount important is truth and agreeing what truth is, rather than lives transformed.
I don’t get that!
That’s not reflecting the Jesus of the gospels.
Steve has been very gracious in his response and says he is still an evangelical and I get that, but i think the name ‘evangelical’ is increasingly becoming a title that instils fear and confusion in others. I was actually asked a few weeks ago something like ‘you’re not one of those evangelical christians are you who want to spoil our fun and hate everyone?’ That saddened me as that statement crashes right against the original reason for the evangelical movement … to see peoples lives changed by the transforming power of God.
So …my response will be simple and little. I am cancelling my personal membership of the EA. The money they used to get from me, little that it is, will go to Oasis instead. I don’t wish to invest in arguing over what is right or wrong, I want to invest in the transformation of communities and lives.
Ironically …. I am only a member of EA because years ago Steve Chalke spoke from a platform somewhere and encouraged us to join to help make a difference … seems Steve Chalke is still serious about … I don’t believe the EA are anymore.