‘Hope 2008’ – not “that blessed hope” of Titus 2:13

In January of this year I received an email from a Christian couple in England who had attended a meeting In Birmingham in October 2006 at which they were introduced to an initiative that would be called ‘HOPE 2008’. In their own words they wrote of ‘something called “HOPE 2008” the theme of which is “Redeeming Our Communities” – this was pioneered by Gerald Coates’.

In my reply to them I wrote this concerning “HOPE 2008” – “You mentioned the involvement of Gerald Coates so on that basis alone I would steer well clear of it”. Very briefly, Gerald Coates has promoted many charismatic deceptions such as the so-called ‘Toronto Blessing’ and with his track record of failed ‘prophecies’ he should be thankful that he doesn’t live in Old Testament times [see Deuteronomy 18:20].

In recent days I have received another email from a Christian parent who expressed gratitude for our ministry and wrote of “Hope 08 which is nationwide and the opening speaker is Steve Chalke”. As for being ‘nationwide’ in my reply to her inquiry I wrote – “I am aware of Hope ’08…On a page that I printed off some months ago [from their website] they had a ‘Missions in cities’ section relating to activities next July-September [2008] and the cities listed included Glasgow, London, Birmingham, Manchester, Cardiff and Belfast”. The Belfast launch is listed as being at the Spires Conference Centre on Saturday 27th October from 3.00pm until 10.00pm.

On their website “HOPE 2008” major very much on ‘community action’ rather than ‘gospel proclamation’. When you read shortly of the ecumenical/interfaith scope of “HOPE 2008” it is easy to understand why ‘community action’ trumps ‘gospel proclamation’.

In my research so far I have not been able to identify any official Gerald Coates involvement but as you will read shortly Steve Chalke is very much to the fore in the launch of this initiative.

On the grounds of involvement by Steve Chalke, this “HOPE 2008” initiative has forfeited ALL right to be viewed as ‘Christian’ for the simple reason that currently Steve Chalke publicly denies the very heart of the Christian Gospel namely the substitutionary atoning death of the Lord Jesus Christ on the

Cross of Calvary on behalf of sinners.

This crucial issue of Steve Chalke’s denial of ‘penal substitution’ has already been dealt with by me in a number of articles and these articles an be accessed on

http://www.takeheed.info/news-from-the-front-december-2004/

http://www.takeheed.info/news-from-the-front-september-2005/

http://www.takeheed.info/news-from-the-front-march-2006/

http://www.takeheed.info/news-from-the-front-june-2006/

Returning now to the issue of “HOPE 2008” I simply want to share extracts of items from their own website of

http://www.hope08.com/Group/Group.aspx?id=32586

plus items from related websites that will show that this is an initiative that no faithful Christian should lend any support or involvement to.

However, before doing that I want to include an item from the news today that I believe has relevance to this latest ecumenical/interfaith “HOPE 2008” initiative. This report was gleaned from the AOL Internet news service that I use on a daily basis –

Expansion moves for faith schools

Ministers prepared the ground for a dramatic expansion in the number of faith schools, promising to remove “unnecessary barriers” for religious groups that want to provide state education. More than 100 independent Muslim schools could apply to join the state system while the Government acknowledged that there were not enough free school places for Hindu and Sikh children. In a new joint document, the Department for Children and the major religious groups set out to “dispel some of the common myths and misunderstandings around faith schools”.

The document said: “The Government and faith school providers believe that all schools – whether they have a religious character or not – play a key role in providing a safe and harmonious environment for all in our society, thereby fostering understanding, integration and cohesion.

The Government recognises that, in relation to the overall size of their populations, there are relatively few faith school places in the maintained sector available to Muslim, Sikh and Hindu children compared to the provision available for Christian and Jewish families.” While there were 376,000 Muslim children aged between five and 15 at the last census, there are only 1,770 pupils in the seven state-funded Muslim schools in England. But there are 115 independent Muslim schools, where families have to pay fees.

The document, Faith In The System, said: “The Government will work with local authorities as the commissioners of schools and school places in each area and with faith organisations to remove unnecessary barriers to the creation of new faith schools. In particular, the Government will encourage independent schools to enter the maintained sector in their existing premises so that the need for capital funding is not a barrier to entry.” Where there are no existing buildings which can be used, the local authority or the Department for Children, Schools and Families could provide cash to buy or build new premises, the document said.

The document was backed by the Department for Children, Schools and Families, the Association of Muslim Schools, the Board of Deputies of British Jews, the Church of England Board of Education, the Hindu Council UK, the Catholic Education Service and the Network of Sikh Organisations, among other groups. But teachers attacked the plans and questioned whether any religious groups should receive Government funding to run faith schools. Mary Bousted, general secretary of the Association of Teachers and Lecturers, said school staff were concerned over the way faith schools operate.

In an interview on the lunchtime BBC 1 News government minister, Ed Balls was at pains to emphasis time and time again that their belief was that ‘Faith’ schools were an instrument for ‘social cohesion’. That’s the government’s priority but for Christians, Christianity should be all about the ‘soul’s conversion’ and so initiatives such as “HOPE 2008” that also have government backing, as you will read shortly, are no asset in proclaiming the gospel and thereby fulfilling the Great Commission. For centuries people have campaigned for the separation of ‘church and state’ – today the campaign should be for the separation of ‘state and church’

Remember how a few months ago Tony Blair advocated spending one million pounds of public money on training ‘moderate’ Muslim Imams! – see 

http://www2.irna.ir/en/news/view/line-20/0706047768203255.htm 

as any such alliance will be subject to the exclusion of the proclamation of the unique Gospel of the Lord Jesus Christ, that is “the power of God unto salvation” – as it divides [as Christ Himself said it would in Luke 12:51-53] it must be jettisoned in favour of community action that promotes ‘social cohesion’ and not the ‘soul’s conversion’.

What is the ‘hope’ for “HOPE 2008”

To get a glimpse of what the organisers are hoping for the following has been extracted from the HOPE 2008 website and as you will see their ‘hope’ is to ‘make a real impact on their communities’. As you will see from the photo the emphasis appears to be on cleaning up areas rather than allowing Christ to ‘clean up’ lives –

The background to ‘Hope’

‘Hope’ is intended to provide churches of all shapes and sizes throughout the UK with a fresh opportunity to work together across their communities over a twelve-month period. It is as relevant for urban or rural churches irrespective of tradition.

Many of us heard stories from The Message 2000 (Manchester) or Soul in the City (London) in 2004 and were left with a strong desire for our town or city to be next in line. In a number of other locations churches worked together as part of what seemed to be a new wave of missions that emerged at the beginning of this century. This activity was built on years of faithful prayer and a commitment to work together and in many cases with a key role played by young people.

After Soul in the City three agencies began a conversation which grew to involve a wide range of denominations, networks and national charities. This conversation concluded that if we all work together, across the whole nation that focused mission is possible, even in situations that have seemed hopeless in the past.

The ideas that are still emerging indicate that churches of all types and traditions can partner with other churches, with various Christian agencies and with local authorities and the police to make a real impact [Cecil’s comments – merely a possible ‘temporal’ impact and not an ‘eternal’ impact] on their communities.

State support for “HOPE 2008”

I mentioned earlier official state support for HOPE 2008 and this is clearly seen in the make-up of the Board of Reference for the initiative. Herewith are the details –

HOPE 2008 Board of Reference

We are very excited that the following people have agreed to support Hope by joining our Board of Reference. Their advice and views will assist as we plan for 2008.

  • Matt Baggott, Chief Constable of Leicestershire & Association of Chief Police Officers
  • Lord John Stevens, former Commissioner of the Metropolitan Police Service
  • Rt Hon Stephen Timms MP, Chief Secretary to HM Treasury
  • Caroline Spelman MP, Shadow Communities & Local Government
  • Steve Webb MP, Health Spokesman
  • Most Rev Dr Rowan Williams, Archbishop of Canterbury
  • His Eminence Cardinal Cormac Murphy O’Connor, Archbishop of Westminster
  • Rev David Coffey, President of the Baptist World Alliance
  • Commissioner Elizabeth Matear, Moderator elect of Free Churches Group
  • Rev Joel Edwards, General Director of Evangelical Alliance
  • Rev Nicky Gumbel, Alpha
  • Fran Beckett OBE, CEO of Church Urban Fund

This endorsement also appears on the HOPE 2008 website –

“It gives me great pleasure to take this opportunity to recognise the achievements of HOPE 2008 and the diverse range of projects it has delivered for many communities throughout the country. I consider HOPE 2008 to be a valued partner of Government and a true example of what can be accomplished when we all work together towards a shared goal. The values and traditions which motivate those of a Christian faith to serve their fellow citizens are clearly evident in the themes of HOPE 2008. It is also a credit to the many volunteers who actively support this initiative that HOPE 2008 positively embraces the ideal of interfaith engagement in all of its projects. Communities and Local Government supports HOPE 2008 in its aim of encouraging people of all faith traditions and none to work together to make our communities stronger, inclusive and more cohesive.”

This endorsement is by Parmjit Dhanda MP, Cohesion Minister, Department for Communities and Local Government. On WIKIPEDIA these details are listed –

Born in London to Indian immigrants of Sikh origin. His Mother was a cleaner at a local Hospital, whilst his father was a Lorry Driver. He was educated at Mellow Lane School, a state Comprehensive School in Hayes, Middlesex, before attending the University of Nottingham, where he received a Bachelor of Engineering degree in 1993, and a MA in information technology in 1995. Parmjit Dhanda is married and lives with his family in Matson, Gloucester. Has been a member of the Union of Shop, Distributive and Allied Workers (USDAW) since 1999. He speaks both Punjabi and French

Ecumenical support for “HOPE 2008”

As you will have seen from the names listed for the HOPE 2008 BOARD of REFERENCE this initiative has ecumenical support at the highest level. Herewith are some more details of that ecumenical support –

Cardinal Cormac Murphy-O’Connor –
[Roman Catholic] Archbishop of Westminster

“I wholeheartedly recommend this grassroots initiative as a way of empowering local Churches to be bold in living and proclaiming the Gospel [Cecil’s comments: This of course is Rome’s ‘Gospel’ of man’s good works on earth and not Christ’s finished work on the cross] in our society. I am particularly delighted that from its beginning HOPE 2008 has been an ecumenical initiative which can thus witness to the power of the Gospel to unite people [Cecil’s comments: See the Lord’s comments referred to earlier that are found in Luke 12:51-53] in a world of many divisions.”

Rowan, Archbishop of Canterbury

“Hope 2008 is a really remarkable vision that has grown out of the success of a number of local urban projects. Christians have to learn how to give an absolutely clear answer to the question, ‘why is this good news?’;[Cecil’s comments: Christians should not be proclaiming this ‘why’ but rather should be proclaiming ‘what’ constitutes the good news] ‘Soul in the City’ and all the related enterprises that have been going on are a wonderful example of how to give such an answer, in terms of the building of responsible positive communities. Now, with Hope 2008, this vision is being extended, with great boldness to the whole country – and even more widely. It deserves the warmest welcome. I thank God for the inspiration [Cecil’s comments – “inspiration” from where or from who?] that has driven it and wish every blessing to all involved.”

At ‘ground level’ the ecumenical nature of the initiative can be seen from these listings on other websites – firstly these entries on a Roman Catholic church website – as you will see I’ve included details of a listing in addition to that relating to HOPE 2008 just to confirm the Roman Catholic ‘flavour’ of the church website

http://thomas-more-coventry.blogspot.com/2007/09/september-2nd-news.html

Saint Thomas More RC Church Newsletter

Saint Thomas More Roman Catholic Church is in Coventry – England. Our weekly Parish Newsletter is posted here.  [Downloaded Monday 10 September 2007]

COVENTRY PRAISE – Saturday 8th September 2007 at 7.30pm at Coventry Cathedral. This is a celebration of all of the Christian communities of Coventry. So often, much is made of gatherings of other faith communities, and the roots of Christianity in Coventry are well known, and so the present and future witness to Christ in our city is important. This event at the Cathedral will be an evening of prayer and praise, open to all, and it would be good if as many parishioners as possible could attend, as HOPE 2008 is launched – a national project for 2008, showing Christianity in action. Guest Speaker will be Steve Chalke. www.hope08.com

Dowry of Mary Pilgrimage to Walsingham – Sunday 9th September – Mass at 1pm. Main celebrant: Bishop Michael Evans.

And then these entries from a Baptist church website – again I have included some entries [concerning ALPHA] just to emphasise the liberal/ecumenical leanings of this particular church.

http://www.walsgravebaptists.org.uk/Whats%20on.html
WALSGRAVE BAPTIST CHURCH
[downloaded Monday 10 September 2007]

COVENTRY PRAISE on Saturday, 8th September at 7.30pm at Coventry Cathedral . An evening of celebration, praise & worship & the launch of Hope 2008. Guest speaker: Steve Chalk.

Wed 26th Sept – Walsgrave Baptist Alpha Launch – 7.30pm @ WBC
This is an opportunity for people to invite their friends and family to come along and get taster of what Alpha is all about and decide whether they would like to attend the course. If you know anybody you would like to invite, it would be helpful for us to know numbers so please contact Emma Stansfield. You are more then welcome to accompany the person you have invited

ALPHA COURSE starts Wednesday, 3rd October. Please be praying about who you should invite. More details from Emma Stansfield.

It should of course be noted that another name on the BOARD of REFERENCE for HOPE 2008 is the main ALPHA course promoter Nicky Gumbel whose ecumenical credentials are everywhere evident for all to see and the same can be said of another BOARD of REFERENCE member, Joel Edwards of the ’politically correct’ Evangelical Alliance that recently supported David Cameron’s views on ‘the family’ including his definition that went beyond the Biblical parameters of marriage being only sanctioned by God as being between one man and woman.

Another BOARD of REFERENCE member listed is David Coffey who is President of the Baptist World Alliance – like many other formerly sound evangelical groupings the BWA has been engaged in talks with ROME as can be seen on – http://www.bwanet.org/default.aspx?pid=338

Judging by the past experience of such ‘dialogue’ [such as ARCIC, ECT and LWF] there will be only one ‘winner’ theologically speaking and that will be Rome!

Security support for “HOPE 2008”

You may have noticed that one of those listed on the Board of Reference was the former Commissioner of the Metropolitan Police, Lord John Stevens. Another who has given his support is the current Commissioner as can be seen on the HOPE 2008 website

Sir Ian Blair, Metropolitan Police Commissioner

“Hope 2008 will be an excellent opportunity for people of all denominations of the Christian faith to unite in regenerating and transforming their local communities, making them better places to both live and work. Hope’s interaction with Safer Neighbourhood Teams will offer the police, community and faith groups the chance to work together to make their area safer. As with SOULINTHECITY LONDON, Hope 2008 has my full support.”

Personally speaking, in the light of many controversial public statements made by Sir Ian Blair in recent years, not least those in respect of the gunning down of the totally innocent Jean Charles de Menezes I would not want to have his ‘imprimatur’ on anything that I was proposing to stage, particularly involving the Lord Jesus Christ.

Strategy for “HOPE 2008”

Probably the greatest New Testament evangelist was the Apostle Paul and shortly before he was martyred for the cause of the Gospel of the Lord Jesus Christ he wrote these words to the young pastor, Timothy – “Preach the word; be instant in season, out of season; reprove, rebuke, exhort with all long-suffering and doctrine…endure afflictions, do the work of an evangelist, make full proof of thy ministry” [2nd Timothy 4:2-5]. Is that evangelistic zeal reflected in the HOPE 2008 strategy ‘guidelines’? Here’s what the website says –

Hope and other Faiths

Whatever you’re planning for Hope 2008, you may end up working with, or amongst people of different faiths. Hope 2008 can be a great opportunity to serve them and share your faith in a way that leads to meaningful friendships.

There is advice and suggestions of resources via the Youth Encounter section of the Scripture Union website and also an excellent resource produced by Churches Together in England.

In the meantime, here’s some simple dos and don’ts to help you.

Do…

Respect the faith and culture of the children and young people.
Use music, artwork and methods that are culturally appropriate
Be open and honest in the presentation of the Christian faith.
Be open and honest about the content with parents and other adults involved in their lives
Seek to build long-term friendships that are genuine and not dependant upon conversion.

Don’t….

Assume they’ll understand what you mean when you say you are a Christian
Criticise, ridicule or belittle other religions or cultures.
Tell the children what their faith says or define it by what some of its adherents do
Ask children or young people to say, sing or pray things that they do not believe or that compromises their own faith.
Encourage them to make decisions that would put them in conflict with their family.

(Taken From ‘Welcoming Children of Other Faiths’ by Gill Marchant and Andrew Smith and published by Scripture Union)

How would I respond to such guidelines and indeed to the whole thinking behind HOPE 2008? I believe that something that Loraine Boettner wrote in his classic work ‘Roman Catholicism’ contains much wise counsel that can be considered and applied by Christians in assessing HOPE 2008. Mr Boettner wrote, under a sub-heading of ‘The Church in Politics’ –

‘She must not allow herself to be used as a pressure group for the securing of certain rights and temporal benefits for men, nor to pressure the state for reform measures even though such reforms may be needed and desirable from the Christian viewpoint. Christians as individuals are indeed to work for whatever reforms may be needed but the Church is not to do so in her corporate capacity. Such action on the part of the Church almost invariably will detract from her primary mission of the proclamation of The Gospel and ministering to the spiritual needs of men and will tend to give people a wrong conception as to what her mission really is’.

It is clear that for decades now governments and global political organisations have sought to enlist the help and co-operation of leading religious figures and religious initiatives [Billy Graham and Rick Warren immediately spring to mind] to further their ‘one-world’ agenda. HOPE 2008 is just the latest in a long and growing list of such politically–sanctioned ‘missions’. The one thing that none of these ‘missions’ do is actually point to and proclaim THE GREAT and BLESSED CHRISTIAN HOPE.

As a young Christian I well remember a very zealous and faithful preacher of the Gospel speak of how he always sough to proclaim ‘The Book’ [The Bible] ‘The Blood’ [Christ’s atoning sacrifice at Calvary] and ‘The Blessed Hope’ [the return of the Lord Jesus Christ].

The narrow and predominantly secular focus of HOPE 2008 is an attempt to ‘paper-over’ the cracks in society in this current fallen, sinful world that is destined for fiery destruction before Christ returns to create a new heaven and a new earth [2 Peter 3:10 and Revelation 21:1]. The “blessed hope” as it is identified in Titus 2:13 speaks of Christ’s return to usher in an eternal ‘paradise’ for His redeemed people. The ‘mission’ of His church meantime is to confront all people with their sin and its only remedy – Jesus Christ and Him crucified. I don’t hold out much ‘hope’ that HOPE 2008 will assist in the ingathering of a people with whom God “will dwell with them and they shall be his people and God himself will be with them and be their God” [Revelation 21:3].

Cecil Andrews – ‘Take Heed’ Ministries – 10 September 2007

APPENDIX to ‘HOPE 2008’

Providentially after this article was first posted to the website on Friday 14th September 2007 an advert appeared the following day on the Churches page of the Belfast Telegraph [Saturday 15 September 2007] giving details of a preliminary launch meeting to be held in Belfast next week. The ‘headline’ guest speaker will be Franklin Graham [son of Billy Graham] and the Billy Graham Evangelistic Association are listed as being ‘in co-operation’ with HOPE 2008.

This link serves to underscore the ecumenical leanings of many associated with this initiative. A talk that I gave on Billy Graham can be viewed on the VIDEO VIEWING section of our website.

It was interesting to note the terminology of the heading of the HOPE 2008 advert – it read – ‘Inviting people to become followers of Jesus’ – that expression has a very ‘seeker-sensitive’ and ‘user-friendly’ ring to it and is distinctly lacking in biblical/evangelical content such as “Repent and believe the gospel” – the words of our Lord Jesus Christ as found in Mark 1:15.

Instead they have very much an ’emerging church’ flavour where the emphasis is on trying to encourage people to simply ‘follow’ Jesus in the sense of ‘copy’ Jesus [and not necessarily forsake their erroneous or non-Christian religion – according to ’emergent guru’ Brian McLaren who was to speak at Summer Madness a few months ago in Belfast but who didn’t make it because of floods etc – an answer to the prayers of many faithful Christians!] rather than being ‘converted’ to saving faith in Him.

May we not be focussing our ‘hope’ on ‘philosophy or vain deceit’ [Colossians 2:8] or on anything that this passing world has to offer but rather be faithfully and eagerly “looking for that blessed hope and the glorious appearing of the great God and our Saviour, Jesus Christ” [Titus 2:13]

Cecil Andrews – ‘Take Heed’ Ministries – 17 September 2007

 

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