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Steve Chalke claims heaven not just for Christians

In the latest in a series of controversial statements, the author and church leader has suggested heaven isn't just for Christians.

In a video on the Open Church website, Chalke claims that the common belief that only self-professing believers can be saved is merely a "geographical lottery".

"What if the good residents of Kent had been raised instead in Kurdistan, or those born in Bournemouth had found themselves starting life in Bagdad instead?" he asks. "Are not many of us who are Western Christians, Christians only because we are Western? Surely, if the most devout Christians had been raised in an Islamic context they would be, very likely, devout Muslims?"

He also suggests theologians John Stott and Karl Barth had leaned towards his way of thinking.

The video forms part of Chalke's new series marking the 500th anniversary since Martin Luther posted his Ninety-five Theses to the door of the Castle Church in Wittenberg.

Week by week he's looking at ninety-five controversial questions about the way the Church operates.

He has received some criticism from evangelical quarters through the series.

Writing on the Premier Christianity blog earlier this year, Free Church of Scotland minister David Robertson accused Chalke of being 'anti-christ'.

Addressing Chalke's view that the Bible shouldn't be taken literally, he said: "His teaching that the Bible is just a mishmash of different opinions and views is not the teaching of the Bible. Nor is it the teaching of the Church. Nor is it the teaching of Jesus."

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