Ruth Dickinson

This news may fill you with joy, or with something else entirely, but whatever your take on Steve, his media profile and the controversial things he’s said in the past, you’ll agree that the questions he’s asking now are important. But they’re awkward. Is the Bible really literally true, word-for-word, from Genesis to the maps? And, if it is, why do we all too often cherry-pick the verses that support our own beliefs, lifestyles and theologies and ignore the ones that contradict them?

You may not like Steve’s answers. You may not even like his questions, but the conversation he wants to start in ‘Have we misread the Bible?’ ? about scripture, about meaningful obedience to God and a true understanding of who Jesus really is ? could not be more important. We hope you’ll join in.

We find questions awkward when we feel we should be certain of the answers but have a niggling suspicion that we aren’t. How rich, for instance, is it ok for a Christian to be? Do we really have any right to judge a promiscuous secular culture when our own priorities seem just as shallow as the world’s? When faced with tragedy in our churches, do we need to have the answers to everybody’s doubts tied up in a neat little bow? What are Christians supposed to do with all that sex in the Song of Songs?

One of the most awkward and least addressed questions in evangelical and charismatic culture is how we deal with leaders whose theologies develop in ways we find uncomfortable. For some, Steve Chalke is up there. For many others, Dave Tomlinson is the poster-child for awkward trajectories.

In this issue’s profile interview Justin Brierley talks to Dave about his journey from standard-bearer of the charismatic house church movement to hero of post-evangelicals and Jesus-loving misfits. Tomlinson is the only vicar to have addressed the Sunday Assembly, aka the ‘atheist church’, whose co-founder, Pippa Evans, lost her faith partly due to questions she felt she couldn’t ask in church. With the Sunday Assembly growing in popularity and too many British churches in decline, it’s probably time we ask what we can do about the question of growth, and a new report might help us.

These are the questions which, among many others, we have tried to address this month. I hope you find something to challenge, inspire or encourage you. Or maybe provoke a few awkward questions of your own.