Having trashed a couple of essential biblical truths, namely the reality of the human sinful condition, and the prospect of the wrath of God being poured out against sinners, Chalke (in The Lost Message of Jesus) seems to revert back to the historical background to the incarnation.
But how frustrating! Next he makes some excellent points about how the coming of a baby, the Messiah, and the announcement of the message completely ignores the diplomatic niceties of the day. No approach to Herod. No confrontation with the Romans. Just a baby, given to a young girl. The announcement is made to “sinful” shepherds, not the great and the good. It is truly a startling entrance. It is a great leveller. There is no privilege in the kingdom of God. All good stuff.
But having got rid of the spiritual peril, Chalke has to interpret this message in socio-political terms. The bad elite oppressing the ordinary man. This is man’s big problem, so it seems. Two quotes jumped out at me. First this one:
The divine scandal is that God is on the side of the ordinary people. He believes in them and includes them. (p.82) )
It attracted my attention because of the idea that God “believes in them” i.e. the ordinary man. But in this, the wrath of God towards them is brushed under the carpet.
The second quote:
The ordinary people of Galilee are not the evil, depraved and sinful failures as painted by the religious leaders. (p. 82)
Ah, sorry. My mistake. I’m sure the Bible talks of all being sinners who have fallen short of the glory of God, but I must have misread that.
You can probably tell, I’m losing patience Chalke’s line of thought. I simply cannot see how he cannot see the biblical witness to the real problem of mankind. Yes, the story of the Gospels takes place in a historical context which serves to bring into sharp relief the contrast between the common conception of how the Messiah would come and the reality. But, that context alone cannot define the problem that makes the Messiah necessary.