Evangelical Alliance faces criticism over decision to terminate Oasis Trust's membership

Published 03 May 2014

Christians have taken to social media to offer their perspectives on the Evangelical Alliance's termination of the Oasis Trust's membership following founder Steve Chalke's decision to support gay marriage and faithful same-sex relationships - our full report can be read here

Among those to have commented on Twitter in the last 24 hours are Chalke himself (@SteveChalke), who said the EA's decision was "sad". 

He later tweeted his gratitude to supporters: "Dear all. Thank u 4 your support.Extraordinary day! Have experienced just some of the exclusion LGBT people cope with.For that I am grateful." 

Here's a round-up of some of the responses around the blogosphere

Gillan Scott writing on GodAndPoliticsUK.org

"We mustn't let this fallout between the Evangelical Alliance and Steve Chalke cause more harm." 

"It is more than unfortunate that at a time of increased sensitivities towards gay relationships this will do nothing to improve the image of evangelical Christians. The decision is not homophobic in itself, but the perceptions of the media may not be so considerate and forgiving. For many Christians who are trying hard to break down barriers and welcome gay people into the Church, this will not help at all."

"Just how dogmatic do the EA intend to be in defending a party line of their own creation?"

Peter Kirk writing on GentleWisdom.org

"The Evangelical Alliance rejects Oasis, and me?"

"It is extremely disappointing that this matter of sexual ethics has again been seen as more significant than central matters of the Christian faith."

"In its action today the Evangelical Alliance seems to have turned its back on Clive Calver's vision of evangelical Christians putting aside differences over secondary matters to work together. Instead it has elevated one particular secondary matter to be a touchstone of evangelicalism. And it has done so in a way which plays into the hands of the popular press, with its anti-Christian agenda of portraying the church as obsessed with sexuality and intolerably homophobic. This is most unfortunate."

"I would call on the Evangelical Alliance to reverse its decision and declare that acceptance of same sex relationships can be compatible with evangelicalism."

Dr Justin Thacker, lecturer in theology at Cliff College, wrote at DrJustinThacker.wordpress.com

"My fear is that what really distinguishes the hell debates of the late 20th Century and the homosexuality debates today is that while the former was essentially an in-house debate, the latter very clearly is not. The secular world simply didn't care what conclusions we reached on hell, but they care very deeply what we say about homosexuality."

"The caricature of an evangelical fundamentalist is that they're defined by what they're against. So is it possible, in a context of ongoing church decline, that there is a certain branch of evangelicalism that believes the safest tactic is to retreat behind the walls of orthodoxy and to shore them up so that they're even more impenetrable?"

"My concern is that this looks like a decision, not born of confidence in the gospel or trust in the power of the Scriptures to transform, but rather one born of fear – fear that the church is becoming inevitably compromised by the world and that its time to pull up the drawbridges."

Accepting Evangelicals, of which Steve Chalke is a patron, wrote: 

"In actual fact, the loss of Oasis and Steve Chalke from the ranks of EA members will do more damage to Evangelical Alliance than to Oasis, and it seriously undermines their slogan and raison d'être, 'Better Together'."

"They can also no longer claim to represent 'the UK's two million evangelical Christians' as there are clearly many evangelicals who they no longer represent, or who they are unwilling to represent."

Adrian Warnock had a rare endorsement of the EA's decision from Living Out founder Sam Allberry

"Their statement will be a great encouragement to the many of us who experience same-sex attraction and yet who hold to the classic biblical understanding of human sexuality."

The comments on Twitter have been largely critical towards the Evangelical Alliance: 

Vicky Beeching (@VickyBeeching), theologian and religious commentator, tweeted: "@SteveChalke Ironically, the only reason I joined the EA as a teenager was because YOU endorsed them at an event! Standing with you today. x" 

Gareth B Streeter (@GarethBStreeter), Oasis's communications manager and an openly gay Christian, said: "Sad that @EAUKnews has chosen to discontinue membership of @Oasis_UK over @SteveChalke's decision to help people like me 1/2.

"But I really believe that God accepts me a person who happens to be gay. That's enough for me 2/2 @Oasis_UK @EAUKnews"

Andy Burns(@andyburns1974), founder of East to West, said: "It's the @EAUKnews brand of Christianity or the highway must be great to be THE truth holds of our faith. Very Sad."

Tim Reynolds (@timreynolds1977), communications manager at Care for the Family, tweeted in a personal capacity: "@EAUKnews class & concerned more about their own than the last, lost & least. Yet no speaking out about this & those churches. Disappointed." 

Baptist minister Ian Tutton (@iantutton) tweeted: "Apparently #OasisTrust has been 'ejected' from the #EvangelicalAlliance over the gay issue...is the Christian community going mad?!"

Singer and choir director Andrew Morton (@musivic) tweeted: "Ok, so let's get this right #EvangelAll. withdraws its support from #OasisTrust who do the Lord's work because of att. to gays. Christian?"

The voices of support on Twitter were few and far between: 

Richard John Miles (@richjm612), a member of Brannockstown Baptist Church, said: @AJWTheology @EAUKnews Steve Chalke put himself outside of what is evangelical some time ago. His whole understanding of Scripture does that ... and there are far tighter definitions of evangelical about than that of EAUK. Good decision."

Caleb Woodbridge (@CalebWoodbridge), Assistant Digital Editor at Hodder in London said: "Saddened by Steve Chalke's drift away from Biblical authority and Oasis's promulgation of the same; glad @EAUKnews made the necessary choice."

Pastor and blogger Andrew Wilson (@AJWTheology) tweeted: "Painful, but courageous and right: @eauknews have removed Steve Chalke's Oasis Trust from the EA. Good decision.

Roger Pearse (@roger_pearse), ancient manuscripts expert, said: "@andyburns1974 @EAUKnews Very sad indeed Steve Chalke has fallen but glad to see the EA has acted."

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