This article will be slightly different than the usual article. This article will be a defense of Biblical authority against pastors like Andy Stanley who regularly attempt to undermine it in a wildly misguided attempt to keep people in the church. Unfortunately, their misguided philosophy has the exact opposite effect than it was attended to have.
Stanley regularly makes news for a number of reasons, in part because of his father Charles’ fame as a pastor. However, part of Stanley’s notoriety also comes from his own habit of making borderline heretical, to outright heretical statements such as the one that prompted this article. In this example of ridiculous departure from Biblical authority, Stanley claimed, again, that Christianity needs to “unhitch” itself from the Ten Commandments and the Old Testament. This is not the first time Stanley has departed from orthodoxy. A few years ago, he said: “When religion and science conflict, if you are an honest person, science must win.” He’s also referred to the beginning of the universe as a “singularity” a term used for the Big Bang. Many other pastors undoubtedly agree with Stanley, while they are less influential.
I can sympathize with where Stanley and the others are coming from. The church is bleeding young people in particular. Stanley knows this and is trying to stop the bleeding. Since many young people reject sizeable portions of the Old Testament, Stanley appears to believe that simply ignoring those will draw young people back to the faith. This is a noble, laudable goal Unfortunately, his efforts to achieve this goal veer sharply into heresy.
Stanley and his ilk are very concerned about the number of people in their churches. For some, this is due to genuine care and concern for the people they minister to, in others the numbers are simply a vehicle to line their pockets. Regardless, numbers were never a concern to Jesus. Matthew 18:20 “For where two or three are gathered together in my name, there am I in the midst of them.” He spent more time disciplining his close followers than He did ministering to massive crowds. Further, Jesus regularly cited the Old Testament. The apostles did as well. The Pentateuch alone is quoted over one hundred and ten times in the New Testament. Obviously, Jesus and the apostles did not view the New Testament as distinct from the Old Testament.
In fact, the New Testament repeatedly refers to the Old Testament, or first covenant, as being brought to fulfillment by the coming of Christ. Hebrews 12:24. ” And to Jesus the mediator of the new covenant, and to the blood of sprinkling, that speaketh better things than that of Abel.” The verse refers to Jesus as being the mediator of the new covenant, a covenant better than the first. In no way does that absolve the Christian of the civil laws of the Old Testament. In fact, Jesus actually made some of those laws stricter. Matthew 5:28 “But I say unto you, That whosoever looketh on a woman to lust after her hath committed adultery with her already in his heart.” That’s a much harder standard to uphold. Remind me again why we need to throw out the Old Testament? Seems like Jesus confirmed exactly what Stanley and others of his ilk want to remove.
Unfortunately, this heresy has gone viral in the church, with many pastors focusing heavily on God’s love and little on His just judgment. This has led to many “Christians” never truly being saved, resulting in large churches with little to no interest in winning the world, but quite a lot of interest in having a social club with a pastor telling them what they want to hear. I have to wonder how many people in Stanley’s church of thousands actually have a personal relationship with God. Because if Stanley is teaching that the Old Testament is irrelevant, how does he teach that man is inherently sinful? That doctrine comes from Genesis. How does he demonstrate this? That’s the point of the Law: to show man how sinful he is. If Stanley is not teaching these doctrines, then people are going to think they are ok, and they don’t need a Savior. I might add that ignoring the authority of Scripture in Genesis is what got us in the mess Stanley wants to get us out of. Doubling down on failure is not a winning strategy.