Here's the text of the UCCF statement on why the Word Alive - Spring Harvest partnership has ended, and Spring Harvest's response saying the UCCF statement is lies. Nice. In the interests of fairness I'm blogging them both in case my readers haven't seen them. My only comment is that it isn't possible to see from reading the 2 statements where the accounts are incompatible, and that the Spring Harvest statement doesn't say whether there being "no room in the mix" for Word Alive was anything to do with Steve Chalke. Response from UCCF to the SPRING HARVEST decision to end the World Alive Bible teaching week after 14 years
FOR the past 14 years, the Universities and Colleges Christian Fellowship and Keswick Ministries have been delighted to partner Spring Harvest in organising Word Alive, one of Europe's top Bible Study weeks with a vibrant student track aimed at young people. Widely recognised, orthodox Bible teaching has been the hallmark of the event.
In 2003, the Revd Steve Chalke, one of the Spring Harvest Event Leadership Team, and a member of their Council of Management (trustees), wrote The Lost Message of Jesus. In it, he promoted unorthodox views over the nature of the Atonement, and hit national media headlines over his controversial and graphic description of Penal Substitution.
The Word Alive committee, of which UCCF is a part, believed such views to be contrary to orthodox Biblical teaching and as such, decided that the Revd Steve Chalke could not teach from a Word Alive platform.
The Evangelical Alliance (EA) held a Theological Forum at which various theologians debated with the Revd Steve Chalke. As a result, that organisation decided to change its constitution to clarify where the EA Council of Management stood on the issue. In May 2006 Spring Harvest advised the leadership of Word Alive that the Revd Steve Chalke was able to sign up to the new and revised EA constitution and therefore requested he be allowed to preach from the Word Alive platform in 2007. This request was refused as Mr Chalke had publicly confirmed he had not changed his personal theological views.
In September 2007 the Word Alive Committee were called to a meeting by Spring Harvest and told that as they would not include the Revd Steve Chalke, the 14-year partnership was at an end. Spring Harvest said they regretted they were putting a personality ahead of partnership. Spring Harvest announced it would be promoting its own student-based week at Minehead in 'week one', resourced by Fusion, of which the Revd Steve Chalke is on the Council of Reference.
Our decision to allow only orthodox Christian teaching from Word Alive platforms, and Spring Harvest's subsequent decision has caused enormous pain and regret. However, UCCF believes it can no longer work with those whose understanding of the nature of the gospel and the distinctive of the atonement is so different to theirs, and mainstream evangelicals in the UK and across the world.
There comes a point when loyalty to the gospel, as we believe it to be clearly set out
in Scripture, and the drive for unity with others can come into conflict, and we have reached that point.
Meanwhile, a new 'Word Alive' event, organised jointly by Keswick Ministries and UCCF has been planned for 7-11 April 2008 at Pwllheli, where speakers already confirmed include John Piper, Terry Virgo and Don Carson. There will be an increased capacity and further details will be released shortly.
Rumours circulating that the break-up of the partnership was down to Word Alive's refusal to accept women speakers is totally refuted. UCCF regularly has women speakers on its platforms, and it is a matter of public fact that Keswick does too. The key issue is Spring Harvest's corporate support for one of its own trustees, the Revd Steve Chalke, over Biblical orthodoxy on such a central issue as Atonement.And the reply:
Peter Broadbent’s Statement
Spring Harvest, Keswick, and UCCF (the three partners in Word Alive) agreed to go their separate ways. The statement we produced at the time reads as follows:
“2007 will be the last year of Spring Harvest Word Alive. The constituent organisations — Keswick Ministries, UCCF, and Spring Harvest — will be ending a partnership that has lasted 14 years, and have agreed to go their separate ways.
Word Alive was originally conceived as a distinctive event within Spring Harvest, drawing Christians from a more theologically conservative church background to Butlins for a week with a strong emphasis on expository Bible teaching and a major input for students. The partnership has been a fruitful one and we thank God for the way He has worked through this event over the years.
Of late it has been difficult to accommodate Word Alive as a separate week within the total mix, and after much discussion, the Spring Harvest Council of Management gave notice that Spring Harvest Word Alive could not continue beyond this year. “We’re looking to end on a high note,” said Pete Broadbent, Chair of the Spring Harvest Leadership Team. “Our theme for 2007 is One People — and we’ll be teaching and celebrating that reality throughout our programme.”
Wallace Benn, Bishop of Lewes and Chair of the Word Alive Committee, said the Word Alive brand would continue independently of Spring Harvest after this year’s event. Keswick Ministries and UCCF will continue their partnership and will announce very soon news of future venues and dates. Word Alive will continue its emphasis on lively, cross-centred Bible teaching, a full student programme, and fun and fellowship for all the family.
Spring Harvest wish the Word Alive partners well and we separate thanking God for the part the other plays in the Kingdom of our Lord Jesus Christ in the UK today.”
Various people have since attempted to "spin" the reasons why we decided to go our separate ways for their own purposes. That's their decision. It's not where I am, or where Spring Harvest are. Wallace Benn and I stood on a public platform at Spring Harvest Word Alive, wished our respective events well, prayed for each other, and departed on the best of terms.
This blog has already linked to the statement made jointly by Wallace Benn and myself (Pete Broadbent) on behalf of Spring Harvest Word Alive criticising Jeffrey John's inflammatory stuff on the atonement. So there is no way that anyone can represent Spring Harvest as being anywhere other than the orthodox biblical stance on the atonement. You comment on the style of my statement. Actually it reads the way it does because it's a verbatim transcript from a seminar I was giving on the continuity of OT and NT theology, during which I made the aside about Jeffrey John. So it isn’t necessarily theologically honed and polished — our Press Officer put it out as a press release reporting what had been said.
It’s terribly sad that UCCF are now coming out with an official statement that simply isn’t true to what actually took place. I don’t want to get into a public row with UCCF, whose ministry among students I support. But this is just simply to say that I dispute most of what is contained in the statement as being either misunderstanding (willful or otherwise) or total fabrication. I could hope that they would withdraw their statement and hold their peace. They seem to want to define themselves over against Spring Harvest, which I regret. We stand for the same faith and the same gospel.
Pete Broadbent Spring Harvest Leadership Team