Steve Chalke is a prominent Baptist minister in England. He is a graduate of Spurgeon’s College in London and has served in various ministerial roles, including pastor, broadcaster, and community activist. He has authored more than forty books, founded the Oasis Charitable Trust (one of England’s largest charities), served the United Nations as a special adviser on human trafficking, and been chosen as one of the torchbearers for the summer Olympics in London in 2012. He is also a husband and father of four.
Chalke made news in 2013 when he came out in support of monogamous same-sex relationships and marriages. Really, though, his support shouldn’t have caused much shock. I say that because for several years prior his writings had evidenced his eroding confidence in the classic teachings of the Bible.
Most recently Chalke has made headlines by downplaying a literal interpretation of the Genesis account of creation. According to him, Genesis chapter 1 was not written by Moses, but was instead written by the Jews of the Babylonian captivity. And why did they write it? He says it was designed to be a deliberate contradiction of the Babylonian creation myth.
Chalke says the Genesis account was:
…very probably written to subvert the claims made by the extremely violent, hierarchical, sexist, nationalist, and dehumanising creation story of the Babylonians…
Similarly, he dismisses Genesis chapter 2 as being just another story, written in a different style, designed to:
…subvert other well-known Babylonian and Mesopotamian myths.
You see, Chalke doesn’t believe that the opening two chapters of the Bible were ever supposed to be understood as a historical, scientific, step-by-step record of how God gave us creation. Instead, he contends they were written to help keep the captive Jews from embracing the creation story and other myths set forth by their captors, the Babylonians. But that’s not all he contends.
He goes on to argue that a literal take on Genesis chapters 1 and 2 is actually undermining the younger generation’s confidence in the Bible’s authority and relevance. He says it does this by forcing them to accept the narrow definition of marriage as being between a man (Adam) and a woman (Eve). By way of contrast, he purports that his nontraditional interpretation of the creation account might actually save the faith of certain young people (presumably homosexuals and lesbians) that Christianity would otherwise lose.
Truth be told, what Chalke is proposing is simply the latest attempt to dodge a literal, straightforward reading of the Genesis account of creation. These attempts first began in earnest with the rise of Charles Darwin’s theory of evolution and they have continued unceasingly ever since. The only thing new about Chalke’s slant is that his goal is to show that Genesis chapters 1 and 2 shouldn’t be understood to mean that marriage has to be between a man and a woman. Obviously, mythologizing Adam and Eve leaves the door cracked open for the same-sex marriages that Chalke is now endorsing.
The problem, however, that Chalke and anyone else who tries to water down Genesis chapters 1 and 2 has in defending his position is this: Jesus and the writers of the New Testament took the Genesis creation story quite literally. This is shown in the way they referenced the story and spoke of it as an actual event that involved an actual man and an actual woman. For starters, here are the references from Jesus:
First, in Matthew 19:4-5, Jesus references Genesis 1:27:
And He answered and said to them, “Have you not read that He who made them at the beginning ‘made them male and female,’ and said, ‘For this reason a man shall leave his father and mother and be joined to his wife, and the two shall become one flesh’? So then, they are no longer two but one flesh. Therefore what God has joined together, let not man separate.” (N.K.J.V.)
Second, in John 5:46-47, Jesus’ assertion that Moses “wrote about Me” can easily be taken as: (A) a reference to Genesis 3:15 (which has been called “the first gospel”), (B) a confirmation that Adam and Eve really existed, and (C) an acknowledgment that Moses did indeed write Genesis:
“For if you believed Moses, you would believe Me; for he wrote about Me. But if you do not believe his writings, how will you believe My words?” (N.K.J.V.)
And now let us consider what the apostle Paul taught about the Genesis record of Adam and Eve:
First, in Romans 5:12, he clearly depicts Adam as a real man who not only was the father of the human race but took the race down into sin:
Therefore, just as through one man sin entered the world, and death through sin, and thus death spread to all men, because all sinned…(N.K.J.V.)
Second, in Romans 8:20-21, he speaks of the effect that Adam’s sin had upon all creation:
For the creation was subjected to futility, not willingly, but because of Him who subjected it in hope; because the creation itself also will be delivered from the bondage of corruption into the glorious liberty of the children of God. (N.K.J.V.)
Third, in 1 Corinthians 15:45, he refers to Adam as the first Adam and to Jesus as the last Adam, and since He asserts that Jesus existed as a historical figure, Adam must have as well:
And so it is written, “The first man Adam became a living being.” The last Adam became a life-giving spirit. (N.K.J.V.)
Fourth, in 1 Timothy 2:13-14, he can’t be any clearer that Adam and Eve actually existed and that the Genesis account of them rings true:
For Adam was formed first, then Eve. And Adam was not deceived, but the woman being deceived, fell into transgression. (N.K.J.V.)
And now let’s leave Jesus and Paul behind and mention a quick word about Luke. Not only did Luke consider Adam to be an actual man who once existed, he traced the genealogical family tree of Jesus all the way back to him. The verse is Luke 3:38, the concluding verse in Luke’s genealogy of Jesus:
the son of Enosh, the son of Seth, the son of Adam, the son of God. (N.K.J.V.)
Clearly, in all of these references it’s obvious that Jesus, Paul, and Luke took the Genesis creation story, including what it says about Adam and Eve, quite literally. So, if you are going to take on that story and try to explain it away, you are going to have to take on them as well. It’s not just two chapters in the Old Testament you are messing with; it’s doctrinal teaching from multiple passages and multiple characters in the New Testament.
Now, if someone wants to deny all of the Bible, including the entire New Testament, well, that’s a whole other conversation for a whole other time. But let’s have none of this “buffet line” approach to scripture by which we try to keep the passages that suit us and dismiss those that don’t. Frankly, I have more respect for someone who looks me squarely in the eye and says, “I think the entire Bible is about as factual as Jack & the Beanstalk” than I do someone who wants to keep the words of Jesus but explain away the creation week and the story of Adam and Eve. I mean, how can we trust a literal interpretation of John 3:16 if we can’t apply that same kind of interpretation to Genesis 1:16 and 2:16? Think about it.