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The Church of the New Testament knew that when in doubt, you include.

27th March 2018
Chalke Talk 22 – The scandalous inclusion of Acts 8

The Ethiopian Eunuch of Acts, chapter 8, verse 26-38 is someone who should never have been welcomed into the fold.  He was Ethiopian, while God’s love was for Jews.  And Scripture had totally forbidden the participation of a Eunuch – or someone with ‘crushed sexual organs’ – in worship.

Chalke Talk 22 - The scandalous inclusion of Acts 8 from Open Church network on Vimeo.

 

So why is it that Philip, one of the early church leaders, takes the step to baptise him?  Should he not at least have waited to consult with other leaders – to ask probing questions or to develop a jointly-agreed position statement? 

Steve argues in this week’s edition of Chalke Talk that:

“The fact that this scandalous story is preserved for later audiences – such as ours – can be for no other reason than the early Church came to believe that Philip’s actions, however shocking they appeared to be, were in line with the teaching and example of Christ; were inspired and guided by the Spirit of God, and set the tone for their future mission.”

What do you think?  Do you agree with Steve?

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The story of the Ethiopian Eunuch means that the first fully Gentile convert to Christianity had gender minority status.  Tomorrow – Wednesday 28th March – Oasis is releasing a number of resources, including a new 20 minute video from Steve exploring and advocating the full welcome, acceptance and inclusion of transgender people in churches.  You can view that at openchurch.network/GenderConversation from Wednesday morning onwards.

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I'm not going to comment on the actual issues of gender because the whole area is complex, fraught with suppositions and is literally splitting the church. I will say two things. First, God loves every human being with a love we can barely begin to comprehend.
Second however, Steve's Chalke's exegesis and Biblical knowledge is appalling. Steve bases his thesis on a passage in Deuteronomy 23 which says that eunuchs are barred from the assembly. Some of these passages deal with issues around the exilic period and some issues were unique to that period. We need to be careful with how we apply some parts of them.
Steve bases his views of the Ethiopian eunuch on this passage while ignoring passages such as Isaiah 56 which is much more inclusive and welcoming of eunuchs. How Steve manages to take the passage in Acts chapter 8 as a statement of radically including someone who was rejected by the Jewish establishment is hard to comprehend. The high profile Ethiopian eunuch had come from Jerusalem where he had gone to worship and the passage doesn't read as though he'd been thrown out by the Jewish authorities.
Agree, disagree or partly agree with Steve, bad exegesis doesn't help with this.

Hi Steve,

Are you really inclusive?

In what way did you demonstrate your inclusiveness when it came to the Christians in Northern Ireland who refused to write a pro-gay message on a customer's cake? I don't believe you said a single word about this in any of your tweets, podcasts, or Facebook pages.

Your silence has been breathtaking. It took someone like the gay activist, Peter Tatchell, to stand up for these people, and describe the court's latest ruling as a victory for freedom of speech.

Would you agree with him? If not why not?

But if so, how come that over the past couple of years you didn't offer moral or spiritual support of any description to these embattled Christians--even though they are your brothers and sisters in Christ?

The bakers are not anti-gay people, and bear no hatred, ill will, or animosity against the individual who brought them to court--and in fact did everything they could to strike up a friendly dialogue with their accuser, in order to assure him that they held nothing against him personally.

The kind of "inclusiveness" that you preach, Steve, was not extended to the bakers. They have been through the mill--villified in the press and social media, and were in danger of losing their livelihood. Yet your heart was shut to their plight.

I wondered why this was.

I can only conclude that you had no sympathy for them. Or more likely, were wary of expressing support for the bakers lest this should come out in the media and you incur the wrath of the gay community, with which you are trying to build bridges.

Peter Tatchell's gracious response to these "bible" Christians should make you pause and reflect.

I sincerely doubt, as do many others, that you are "inclusive" in any sense of the word. Your inclusive agenda is full of soundbites that have little depth or substance. You exclude people who disagree with you, often refusing to dialogue, engage or correspond with them.

And you seem more interested in "virtue signalling" than serious hermeneutics or critical bible study.

It's such a shame to have to say all this. But you invite us to respond to your podcasts--so I have.

We all need to pray for you Steve, but in a spirit of love, repentance and humility--lest we come in to judgement.

Dr Brendan Devitt

 

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