Radio 4’s ‘Daily Service’ denies Christ’s ‘Substitutionary Atonement’

  • Louise Malone
  • c/o BBC
  • PO Box 27
  • Oxford Road
  • Manchester
  • M60 1 SJ
  • 3 April 2006

Dear Louise,

Radio 4 Daily Service 3 April 2006

I want to thank you for your sympathetic hearing given to my phone call today concerning the distress caused by the content of today’s ‘Daily Service’ that was presented by Michael Wakelin.

I haven’t had time as yet to transcribe what Mr Wakelin said but in essence Mr Wakelin basically advocated the view expressed last year by Steve Chalke [well-known presenter in times past of BBC TV’s ‘Songs of Praise’ which Mr Wakelin produces] that when Christ died on the cross it was not a ‘substitutionary atonement’ nor was it what is also known as ‘penal substitution’. Steve Chalke blasphemously labelled such a view as ‘cosmic child abuse’.

Mr Wakelin basically traced this view to John Calvin and to some ‘Protestant Churches’. The reality is that this is not some novel, sectarian view put forward by John Calvin but it is a, if not the, central theme of God’s inspired Word, The Bible.

Recently I had some email exchanges with a ‘fan’ of Steve Chalke in response to articles posted on our ministry website called ‘Don’t take your cue from Steve Chalke’. I am enclosing copies of these exchanges [and articles] as they get to the heart of the distress caused by Mr Wakelin’s unbiblical opinions expressed in today’s ‘Daily Service’. My hope is that in a near future ‘Daily Service’ the truth of the Glorious Gospel of Christ as set out clearly in 1 Corinthians 15:1-4 [‘substitutionary atonement’] will be proclaimed.

Your servant for Christ


  • Cecil Andrews – “Take Heed” Ministries
  • 9 Edengrove Park, Ballynahinch, BT24 8AZ, Northern Ireland
  • Tel/Fax 028 9756 5511
  • E- Mail –
  • Website – 
  • Date: 22/03/2006 19:49:43 GMT Standard Time
  • From:
  • Cecil

I have just read your article on the internet on Steve Chalke – ‘Don’t take your cue from Steve Chalke’.

The article concerns me somewhat as in so many instances it is not what you say but the way you say it. It appears to me that because you do not agree with certain aspects of Steve’s thinking your article seeks to discredit someone who holds different views to yourself on probably what are a only a small number of issues.

I am sure all our thinking is developing. No one will ever be able to say they have the whole package and understand all that the Bible is teaching or saying.

Your article concerned me somewhat by its tone and direction. I am sure similar articles could be written on all of us. You make no mention of the work that Steve has been committed to or the many ways in which he serves God.

I can’t imagine Jesus publishing a page like that. Is God pleased with such writing?????

Who knows

Dear ?

Thank you for taking the time to write to me – actually I’ve just this minute arrived in from tonight’s meeting that is part of the schedule of meetings where my guest is Pastor Gary Gilley – the full schedule is on our website.

In his talks Pastor Gilley addresses the published views of a number of men in today’s professing Christendom – 2 of those that he mentions are Brian McLaren [who endorsed Steve Chalke’s book ‘The Lost Message of Jesus’] and the other is Steve Chalke himself.

Both of these men reject ‘penal substitution’ as mentioned in the article that you read on our website. In short they deny the heart of the true Gospel and so they are preaching what Paul refers to as ‘another gospel which is no gospel’ [see Galatians 1: 6-9].

Steve Chalke may do and inspire others to do many commendable charitable acts ‘in the name of god’ but if he does not understand and preach the true gospel [as appears obvious from his writings] then he is according to Paul ‘anathema’ and having denuded the gospel of ‘penal substitution’ he and those who believe like him are left hoping that their ‘service for god’ will count towards their ‘salvation’.

You say you ‘can’t imagine Jesus publishing a page like that’ – well I have to confess I can’t imagine myself making a whip to drive heretics from the grounds of a church but the Lord Jesus Christ did – this is the same Lord Jesus who told some of the false teachers of His day that they were ‘of their father, the devil’.

Respectfully I think you should worry less about ‘tone and direction and concentrate more on the truth of God’s Word for it is the entrance of that Word that gives ‘light’.

Your servant for Christ

Cecil Andrews – ‘Take Heed’ Ministries


  • Subject: Re: Steve Chalke – corrected reply

  • Date: 23/03/2006 09:09:33 GMT Standard Time
  • From:


I am not worried about content and we need to challenge each others thinking but what concerns me is that this seems personal – the ‘write off’ of a man who has come to different conclusions on one aspect of belief than yourself. If this is your approach then your approach gives little hope to many in the church who have limited understanding/forming views or struggling to understand scripture.

Does Steve preach that works count towards salvation?? We need to be careful before putting words into other mouths.

Dear anonymous writer,

I’m just heading out so this will of necessity be brief. The Apostle Paul wrote in 1 Corinthians 9:16 “Woe is unto me if I preach not the gospel” and later in the same letter he wrote in 1 Corinthians 15:1-4 “Moreover brethren I declare unto you the gospel…by which also ye are saved …that Christ died for our sins according to the scriptures and that he was buried and that he rose again the third day according to the scriptures”. Christ died at Calvary ‘according to the scriptures’, in other words as foreshadowed in the Old Testament scriptures – as a ‘vicarious substitute’, as we read for instance in Isaiah 53 and of course as was foreshadowed in the tabernacle and temple sacrificial rituals, and as a ‘victorious Saviour’ that the grave could not hold, as was foreshadowed in Psalm 16:10.

At the heart of ‘the gospel’ which Paul reminds the Christians in Corinth ‘by which also ye are saved’ is the truth of what is known as ‘penal substitution’. It is beautifully summed up in the words of Hebrews 9:26 & 28 “But now once in the end of the ages hath he [Christ] appeared to put away sin by the sacrifice of himself…So Christ was once offered to bear the sins of many”. Salvation is based ALONE on the work of Christ – if that truth is denied [as it is by Steve Chalke] then the only possible logical conclusion left is that salvation will be based on a person’s own works.

Steve Chalke in his book has publicly denied this truth so he is preaching ‘another gospel’ which is under God’s curse according to Galatians 1:6-9 and so the ‘Christ’ to which you presumably believe many people have come as a result of Steve Chalke’s endeavours is not the true Christ of the true Gospel.

Can I ask you simply – do you believe that at the heart of the gospel by which people are saved is the truth of ‘penal substitution’. If you don’t then please tell me what is your ‘gospel’. I don’t deny as you said in your first email that many people have been inspired by Steve Chalke to get involved in things like ‘social care’ etc but the problem is as I said earlier that if you remove ‘penal substitution’ [Christ’s saving work] from the heart of the gospel then you are only left with ‘social care’ etc [personal works of righteousness] and those will never save anyone according to Ephesians 2:8-9 and Titus 3:5.

One final thought – was it ‘personal’ as you put in when Paul publicly challenged Peter in Antioch for falling into error by siding with the Judaisers and their false ‘gospel’ as we read in Galatians 2. What also strikes me about your emails is the total absence of reference to our source of ‘truth’ namely God’s Word but perhaps you follow the thinking of Brian McLaren, endorser of Steve Chalke’s book, who basically believes we can never find or know ‘truth’.

I look forward to your response to my simple question on ‘penal substitution’.

Your servant for Christ

Cecil Andrews

‘Take Heed’ Ministries


  • Subject: Re: Steve Chalke – corrected reply

  • Date: 23/03/2006 13:04:46 GMT Standard Time
  • From:
  • Thanks

I am not saying that I do not agree with your view point on penal substitution which incidentally I do not find summed up in the words of Hebrews 9:26 & 28 “But now once in the end of the ages hath he [Christ] appeared to put away sin by the sacrifice of himself…So Christ was once offered to bear the sins of many”.

My point is that you are on dangerous ground to say that someone is following another gospel because they question the interpretation of the cross as Penal Substitution.

I agree with you that ‘Salvation is based ALONE on the work of Christ’ but by saying that he does not see Penal Substitution in the Bible is Steve Chalke denying that salvation is in Christ alone. I don’t think so. The work of the cross is multifaceted – sacrifice, substitution, redemption etc

Did Jesus preach penal substitution?




  • Dear Barry [I do appreciate you identifying yourself]

You state that you do not find ‘penal substitution’ summed up in Hebrews 9: 26 & 28 – I actually find that a staggering statement by you. A few verses earlier in verse 22 we read “without shedding of blood is no remission” – God’s judgment upon lost souls because of their sins cannot be removed by God unless the suitable sacrificial shed blood of a ‘substitute’ [paying the death penalty proscribed by God for sin] has been shed for this very purpose.

The [‘penal substitution’] animal sacrifices of the Old Testament, as we read for instance in Leviticus 1:1-4, were only a temporary measure sanctioned by God and were designed to picture the ultimate and only effective substitutionary, permanent sin-remitting sacrifice that would be made by Christ at Calvary. That’s why the Lord took the 2 on the road to Emmaus through the Old Testament and we read what He said to them “Ought not Christ to have suffered these things [‘penal substitution’ as pictured in the Old Testament] and to enter into his glory. And beginning at Moses and all the prophets he expounded unto them, in all the scriptures the things concerning himself” [Luke 24:26-27].

Going back to Hebrews, in the following chapter 10 we find a full explanation of ‘penal substitution’ as summed up in chapter 9: 26 & 28. We read verses like these in chapter 10

verse 4 – “For it is not possible that the blood of bulls and of goats should take away sins” verse 10 “And every priest standeth daily ministering and offering oftentimes the same sacrifices, which can never take away sins”: [These verses refer back to the Old Testament animal sacrifical system].

Then in contrast we read of Christ crucified at Calvary – verse 12 “But this man, after he had offered one sacrifice for sins for ever, sat down on the right hand of God…verse 14 For by one offering he hath perfected for ever them that are sanctified”.

Jesus Christ is God’s annointed prohpet, priest and King. Up to the end of John 16 He has fulfilled the role of ‘prophet’ – bringing God to people but from John 17 onwards He moves to His role of ‘priest’, bringing His people to God and that of necessity involves a propitiatory sacrifice, but not a sacrifice of some animal that can never permanently remove sins as we already read above, but rather the sacrifice of Himself. Peter wrote “Christ also hath once suffered for sins [‘penal substitution’] the just for the unjust that he might bring us to God’ [1Peter 3:18].

According to God’s Word there is no ‘gospel’ if there is no ‘penal substitution’ [see 1 Corinthians 15:1-4]. If someone denies Christ’s ‘penal substitution’ then they cannot be believing, as the Bible teaches, that salvation is by grace alone [not merited on the grounds of any personal works] through faith alone [‘not of works’] in Christ [‘penal substitution’] alone.

Steve Chalke is denying that salvation is found in the substitutionary work of Christ alone – he perceives that idea as trusting in ‘cosmic child abuse’ whereas to God it is His “glory” – that’s what John 17 is all about. Barry, I am not standing on ‘dangerous ground’ in asserting this – I am standing on ‘redemption ground’ as many saints have phrased it.

God’s people likewise “glory” in the saving substitutionary death of Christ at Calvary when “The Lord laid on him the iniquity of us all” [Isaiah 53:6] – we echo Paul who wrote “God forbid that I should glory except in the cross of our Lord Jesus Christ” [Galatains 6:14]. Steve Chalke does not ‘glory’ alone in the cross of Christ – he views those who do so as foolishly trusting in what he views as ‘cosmic child abuse’.

Paul wrote about such a situation in 1 Corinthians 1:18 when he said “For the preaching of the cross is to them that perish foolishness; but unto us which are saved it is the power of God”.

Barry, in your emails you have referred to ‘one aspect of belief’ – in this case the biblical truth of ‘penal substitution’ – and the truth is that this ‘one aspect of belief’ will determine the eternal destiny of all people – it is no mere side issue! The Apostle Paul stated in his letter to the Corinthians ‘I determined not to know any thing among you except Jesus Christ [the believers’ ‘righteousness’] and him crucified [the believer’s ‘redemption’].

Commenting on this verse Pastor John MacArthur wrote ‘Though Paul expounded the whole counsel of God to the church [Acts 20:27] and taught the Corinthians the Word of God [Acts 18:11] the focus of his preaching and teaching to unbelievers was Jesus Christ who paid the penalty for sin on the cross. Until someone understands and believes the gospel there is nothing more to say to them’.

Finally you asked – ‘Did Jesus preach penal substitution’?

God’s Word states –

Matthew 16:21 “From that time forth began Jesus to shew unto his disciples, how that he must go unto Jerusalem, and suffer many things of the elders and chief priests and scribes, and be killed, and be raised again the third day” Matthew 20:28 “the Son of man came not to be ministered unto, but to minister, and to give his life a ransom for many” Matthew 26:28 “this is my blood of the new testament, which is shed for many for the remission of sins” John 10:11 “I am the good shepherd: the good shepherd giveth his life for the sheep” John 10:14-15 “I am the good shepherd, and know my sheep, and am known of mine. As the Father knoweth me, even so know I the Father: and I lay down my life for the sheep”.

These are only a few of the MULTITUDE of verses in the gospels where the Lord preached salvation through His ‘penal substitution’ on behalf of His people – just as the angel told Joseph in Matthew 1:21 “and thou shalt call his name JESUS: for he shall save his people from their sins”.

Barry, as you know I’m in the midst of a hectic ministry visit by Pastor Gary Gilley so perhaps you will take much time to reflect upon these matters and if you want to come back to me could I ask you to leave it until after Gary’s visit ends on 4th April [DV].

Meantime I pray that God will speak clearly through His Word to your heart and understanding.

Your servant for Christ

The articles on Steve Chalke that were also enclosed with my letter to Louise Malone can be viewed by going to these links

There are also other related articles found on