Problems with the Founders Ministries’ *By What Standard* Trailer

Posted July 25, 2019 by strangebaptistfire
Categories: Andrew, Southern Baptist Convention

Without Founders Ministries, my life would be quite different. As a college student, I became convinced of the Doctrines of Grace. Though I’d been a member of a Southern Baptist Convention [SBC] affiliated church for years, I felt like a commitment to these doctrines was absent from SBC churches, so I began going to a non-denominational Bible church. It was through discovering Founders Ministries, which was committed to educating SBC churches about the Doctrines of Grace and helping to encourage the biblical reformation of local churches, that I felt comfortable re-joining an SBC-affiliated church. Once I was married, the first church that my wife and I joined was a Founders-friendly SBC-affiliated congregation. About a year after I was married, I became a student at the Southern Baptist Theological Seminary. Moving to Louisville, I was again looking for a Founders-friendly, SBC-affiliated congregation, and the church where I am currently a member (Kosmosdale Baptist Church in Louisville, KY) took place in the Boyce Project (an effort, begun when the seminaries of the SBC had become theologically liberal, to get a copy of J.P. Boyce’s Abstract of Systematic Theology into the hands of each graduating SBC seminary student), which was a direct precursor to Founders Ministries, and for years our church had a line-item in the church budget to allow for the pastor going to Founders Ministries conferences. So, in a very real sense, I would not be going to the church where I’m a member, I would not be living in the city where I am, and thus I would not be working in the job that I have (and who knows what else would be different for me), if it were not for Founders Ministries.

In recent years, Founders Ministries has been raising concerns that those holding to theological liberalism are using social justice issues as a Trojan horse in order to persuade churches of unbiblical ideologies. Founders Ministries speakers are also concerned that those adopting the language and categories used by secular advocates of social justice are unwittingly making themselves and their congregations susceptible to theological liberalism. It is based on these concerns that Founders Ministries is producing a “Cinedoc” called By What Standard, and they released the trailer for that film earlier this week.

While I share many of the concerns that Founders Ministries is raising concerning “social justice warriors”, and while a few of men from my church gladly attended the 2019 Founders Ministries National Conference on “The Gospel and Justice” here in Louisville, I am deeply concerned with how things are presented in the trailer for By What Standard: the methods that are used and some of the connections that are directly implied. In considering my thoughts concerning this trailer, I came across a Twitter-thread by Chris Bolt (the pastor of Elkton Baptist Church), which expresses exactly what I would want to say (and how I would want to say it). The remainder of this post is Chris’ Twitter-thread, which I’m using after getting his permission. I’ve only edited for formatting, adding numbers and taking away the “@” Twitter-handles.

Assume, for the sake of argument, I agree with everything Founders Ministries believes and is trying to accomplish with their forthcoming video. It does not follow that the trailer for that video is unobjectionable. In fact, the opposite is the case. What are the problems?

1. The trailer features an interview with a gentleman talking about manipulation through guilt leading to destructive behavior, and at the same time he is speaking, shows a clip of SBC messengers holding up, “Becoming a Church that Cares Well for the Abused.”

2. The trailer also features an interview with Owen Strachan commenting on the principalities and power of Ephesians 6, which is a reference to demons, while at the same time showing a clip of Rachael Denhollander speaking on the Ethics and Religious Liberty Commission panel at the SBC.

Image

3. As you can see, the short clip is heavily edited. Why? To match the clips of other speakers in the video who are in some form or fashion representative of the problems in the SBC. Filters are used to make some clips jittery and blurred.

4. Filters are also used to show Founders representatives in better light and color. This use of filters, music, and narration is quite likely intended to produce a particular type of feeling to be associated with each of the clips. It’s clear who is portrayed as “good” and “bad.”

5. A brief clip of the theologically liberal egalitarian Nadia Bolz-Weber is shown immediately before Denhollander, with Strachan’s voice speaking of the aforementioned demonic powers.

Now, other objections to the trailer have been raised, but I’m not interested in those here.

Here are my questions.

1. What message is sent by the trailer mentioning guilt manipulation with SBC messengers holding up a book on how to care for abuse survivors in the church?

2. What message is sent by showing Denhollander alongside Bolz-Weber and a discussion of demons?

3. Assuming I agree with Founders on all the current issues of the SBC, wouldn’t I also want to say that the problem of abuse is a real problem, and that it’s a real problem in particular for the SBC?

This problem is not a mere matter of worldly perception. Christians see it too.

The implication of the carefully edited movie trailer is that something dark, even demonic, has made its way into the SBC through addressing abuse and through an individual like Denhollander. Now, even if you support everything else Founders believes and is doing, this is bad.

This is bad because, apart from a lack of wisdom in the selection of an editor/producer who would create a provocative video that politicizes and weaponizes the issue of abuse, and apart from the obvious difficulties with the ethics of this situation, including utilitarianism, it’s bad because Founders has significantly fumbled the ball here… If I were Founders, I would fire the video editor, issue an apology to the Denhollanders, and try again, although credibility may be shot. You fumbled the ball.

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What I Wish I’d Said Regarding SBC Resolution 9 on the Convention Floor

Posted June 21, 2019 by strangebaptistfire
Categories: Andrew, Southern Baptist Convention

Last week, the annual meeting of the Southern Baptist Convention passed a resolution titled “On Critical Race Theory and Intersectionality.” This resolution commendably affirmed “Scripture as the first, last, and sufficient authority with regard to how the Church seeks to redress social ills.” However, it also asserted that “Critical race theory is a set of analytical tools that explain how race has and continues to function in society, and intersectionality is the study of how different personal characteristics overlap and inform one’s experience.” The resolution implied that these “analytical tools” (as the Resolutions committee termed critical race theory and intersectionality) can be helpful “to diagnose and redress the root causes of the social ills that they identify.”

The day after the resolution was passed, Dr. Albert Mohler, the President of the Southern Baptist Theological Seminary, did well in summarizing the concerns that many have with this resolution, making the following statement on his podcast, The Briefing:

Both critical race theory and intersectionality are a part of the continuing transformative Marxism… I did not want the resolution to say less than it said. I wanted it to say more than it said. I wanted it to acknowledge more clearly the [Marxist] origins of critical race theory and intersectionality.

On the Convention floor, before the resolution passed, Tom Ascol of Founders Ministries tried to amend the resolution with the following language, in line with Dr. Mohler’s concerns:

INSERT AFTER 1st Whereas—>

Whereas, Critical race theory and intersectionality are godless ideologies that are indebted to radical feminism and postmodernism, and neo-Marxism; and

ADD—>

RESOLVED that we remind Southern Baptists that Critical Race Theory and Intersectionality emerged from a secular, worldview and are rooted in ideologies that are incompatible with Christianity; and be it further

RESOLVED, That we repudiate all forms of identity politics and any ideology that establishes human identity in anything other than divine creation in the image of God and, for all redeemed humanity, our common identity, together eternally united to Christ; and be it further…

However, Ascol’s amendment failed, and the resolution passed as it had been presented to the Convention floor.

Now, I had seen that Tom Ascol was going to speak to the resolution, and I hoped the Convention would hear what he had to say. However, I knew it was much more likely that the Convention would simply trust the Resolutions Committee and vote in favor of the resolution regardless of any discussion on the floor. (And this is, indeed, what happened.)

Having 20/20 hindsight, I wish that I had gotten to the microphone to urge messengers to vote against the resolution. (Not that I’m saying I would have been successful, but still, I wish I’d done what I could have.) If I had spoken, this is what I would have liked to have said:

Most everyone in this Convention hall applauded when it was said that there is one human race and that the Bible defines who we are as human beings. These statements, however, run contrary to the assumptions of critical race theory and intersectionality, so I am asking you to vote against this resolution. It’s been less than a year since I’ve gained any knowledge of what the terms ‘critical race theory’ and ‘intersectionality’ mean. I ask each messenger to please ask yourself: without looking at this resolution, can I define the terms ‘critical race theory’ and ‘intersectionality’ in ways that would be helpful to my congregation? If the answer is ‘no,’ then I would urge you to vote ‘no’ to the resolution at this time. Let’s study this issue and re-consider it at next year’s Convention, so that we can give an informed vote.

I do hope that some change in the Convention rules can be made so that in the future, messengers may see the resolutions earlier. (Currently, messengers only see them the morning of the vote.) That way, we could have more time to consider them and give them a more knowledgeable vote.

On NOT Unhitching from the Old Testament, But RATHER Approaching It With Christ-Centered Confidence

Posted October 29, 2018 by strangebaptistfire
Categories: Uncategorized

The following is an excerpt from the introduction to the sermon that Mitch Chase preached yesterday morning (10/28/18) at Kosmosdale Baptist Church in Louisville, KY. I’m posting this here because it is in opposition to the “strange fire” (which I fear may gain some traction in some Baptist circles) of unhitching the Christian faith from the Old Testament. (The rest of Mitch’s sermon, from Exodus 21:1-11, is an excellent example of how to faithfully think through what may be considered a difficult Old Testament passage; I highly recommend it, and it can be heard here: https://www.sermonaudio.com/sermoninfo.asp?SID=1028182014355 .)

“In a recent book from a pastor in Georgia, he seeks to persuade readers that we’re probably paying far too much attention to the Old Testament. [According to this book,] we need to back off from dealing with it, preaching it: back off significantly, because it has so many hot points [of contention/potential confusion]… he lists things like arguments about creation, miracles in the Old Testament, certain commandments and laws, which seem ethically objectionable. This writer suggests, and I quote, ‘When it comes to stumbling blocks to the faith, the Old Testament is at the top of the list.’ Now, that might be true for some people; it’s not surprising that people have serious questions about the Old Testament: serious concerns. It’s nothing new, though. Consider that Jesus, who was NOT wrong, LOVED the Old Testament. He said He came to fulfill it, spoke of Scripture as the Word of God, which had been given by God. The Apostle Paul says that the Old Testament is inspired and profitable for teaching, and for reproof, and for correction, and for training in righteousness [2 Timothy 3:16]. The New Testament doesn’t reject the Old Testament, so we should follow the way of Christ and His apostles; we should uphold it, value it, use it, proclaim it: the apostles did to their new covenant believers!

….

“If people come to the Bible with hearts troubled by parts of the Old Testament, the answer is NOT to ignore the Old Testament. The proper response to confusion is NOT neglect. Rather, the answer is to engage the Old Testament: to pursue understanding of its texts with humility and trust. When that happens, I think we’ll see several things over and over again:

  1. Many objections to the Old Testament are based on misunderstandings, caricatures, false ideas, that we SHOULD reject. (When we engage the Old Testament as Christians, we actually have the opportunity to expose misunderstandings about the Old Testament and correct caricatures. After all, we’re dealing with 39 biblical books; we should not be quickly dismissive at all.)
  2. Some objections to the Old Testament are rooted in the interpreter’s personal moral rebellion. People might object to the very notion that God forbids something. Take the subject of sexual ethics in our culture: looking into the Bible, and seeing God’s words about human sexuality, an interpreter might object to what God’s Word says to something because they themselves strongly desire it! And so that objection to an Old Testament passage is rooted in their own moral rebellion.
  3. Other objections to the Old Testament are rooted in the interpreter’s rejection of the supernatural. An objector might reject that there’s even a God and [proclaim] that the universe instead is a closed system where everything that happens inside has explanations that are purely natural from beginning to end.
  4. There’s no new objection to the Old Testament that has not already been raised in church history and sufficiently, competently answered.
  5. [But NOTE:] the Old Testament, to the surprise of some initial readers, perhaps even, shows God’s holy character and redemptive plan. It displays His power, His goodness, His wisdom, His justice, His love, His patience, His mercy: I’m talking about the Old Testament! When we consider the laws, and the narratives, and the prophecies of these 39 books, and consider them in light of their original contexts, and in light of the overall plan of God’s Word: God’s holiness and redemptive plan is the uncompromising story; it is the unity of God’s Word heading somewhere—to Christ. So we need not shy away from any Old Testament passage; we should approach them unhesitatingly, with eager, humble confidence in God’s Word, which is inspired and profitable.

Andy Stanley and the Evidentialist Apologetic

Posted August 14, 2018 by strangebaptistfire
Categories: Uncategorized

In an interview with Dr. Michael Brown in which he attempted to explain and clarify quotes found in the article, “Christians Must ‘Unhitch’ Old Testament From Their Faith, A StanleySays Andy Stanley” from The Christian Post, Andy Stanley declared: “I’ve stepped away from saying, ‘The Bible says it; therefore, it’s true; the Bible says it; therefore, I believe it’…” And in other venues, Stanley has urged Christians to stop saying “the Bible says…”

Andy Stanley is a mega-church CEO who professes belief that the Bible is without error; why would he refrain (and urge others to refrain) from saying “the Bible says”?

The Road to Emmaus

Stanley’s explicit concern in how he refers to Scripture is driven by his view of apologetics (that is, how Christians are to give a reasoned defense for their faith). In part, Stanley explains the fact of Jesus and the apostles’ use of phrases like “Scripture says” by appealing to the differing context of the earliest church versus where most believers find ourselves today. In some cases, Stanley might be theoretically OK with a direct appeal to the authority of the Bible. Stanley said: “There’s an apologetic for when you’re approaching an orthodox Jew, and there’s an apologetic for those who think that the Bible is just a book of fairy tales.”

But Stanley is inconsistent on this point, because there are times when he indicates that even the earliest believers (those in a Jewish context, who would have been raised to revere the Scriptures) were compelled to faith through the (extra-biblical) evidence set before them, contrasted with the authority of Scripture. In the context of saying, “Years ago, I quit saying, ‘The Bible says’…” Stanley explained that (in his view): “Jewish men and women who had given up hope immediately regained hope not because of something they read, but because of something they saw.

Elsewhere in his interview with Dr. Brown, Stanley expressed frustration that people objecting to his statements about the Bible are always bringing Luke 24:25-32 to his attention. Stanley declared: “of COURSE I know the story of the two men on the Road to Emmaus.”

But Stanley seems to miss the point of WHY people refer to that passage. When the risen Christ encountered two people “who had given up hope,” they did NOT ‘immediately regain hope because of something they saw.’ In their case, God actually kept them from seeing Jesus for who He was (see Luke 24:16). Before allowing them to really perceive His resurrected presence, Jesus prepared their understanding by teaching them through the Old Testament Scriptures.

The Gospel of John

In the interview with Dr. Brown, Stanley defended his earlier statement: “the whole Old Testament house of cards could collapse, and you still have the resurrection of Jesus.” Stanley referenced people who only read the Gospel of John, coming to faith in Jesus just through reading that Gospel, not starting in the Old Testament. But notice the words from the very first chapter of John’s Gospel account; the Apostle John records:

1) John the Baptist quoting Old Testament Scripture in indicating the purpose of his ministry;

2) The religious leadership questioning whether John was Elijah;

3) Questions raised concerning Christ (the Messiah);

4) The identification of Jesus as the Son of God and Son of Man.

All of this makes no sense without the Old Testament. What we take for granted is that, in our culture, people in general do have a kind of residual notion—at least a vague idea—of the biblical categories/terms mentioned in the first chapter of John. Because of this, it may make it easier for people to come to faith in Christ through reading one of the Gospel accounts. For missionaries to truly unreached people groups, however, biblical definitions for who God is and who Christ is must be built upon the Old Testament foundation before a person can come to faith in God through Christ. Even in our context, an authoritative reference to the Old Testament to define our terms is necessary.

Evidentialist Apologetics Taken Too Far

Stanley has repeatedly stated that the Bible comes at the END of our apologetic, and that he is concerned with presenting the gospel to those who doubt the Bible’s authority. Stanley claims that he is engaging in “classical apologetics”. This is a misnomer: Stanley does not engage in presenting the classical proofs for the existence of God (in the sermons and interviews I’ve seen from him, he is not challenging his listeners to think through the ontological argument or the teleological argument, etc.); rather, he is engaging in evidentialist apologetics—pointing people to historical evidences for why we should believe that Jesus rose from the dead, that He made divine claims of Himself, etc.

Is there any place for this kind of apologetic reasoning?

I would say that there may very well be. Especially in some interactions when I was a student at Georgia State University (from which Stanley also holds a degree), I’ve argued in this mode before. (You can see a written-out example of my own use of evidentialist reasoning at the following blogpost: http://alindsey4.blogspot.com/2016/01/the-bible-jesus-view-and-our-view.html .) If a non-Christian is denying that the Bible is the authoritative Word of God or if an immature Christian is having doubts about whether all the books we have in our Bible should be considered the Word of God, then for the sake of the argument, an evidentialist apologetic may be helpful. The Christian witness could explicitly bracket the question of the exact nature concerning the Bible, and look at what the evidence still indicates even if the absolute divine authority is not presupposed.

But notice:

  1. The evidentialist apologetic is (at best) limited and negative in its function. Examination of the evidence can clear away the film of supposedly reasonable-sounding doubts concerning the gospel message. It may be wise to use this on a case-by-case basis. However, to make it the regular apologetic preached from the pulpit, and to teach the children of the church to refrain from singing “Jesus loves me, this I know, for the Bible tells me so” (as Stanley has recommended) will undermine, rather than bolster, trust in the authority of God’s Word.
  2. The evidentialist apologetic should never lead to a division between the authority of Jesus and the authority of the Bible. As the Chicago Statement of Biblical Inerrancy (which Stanley claims to believe) rightly declares, “the authority of Christ and that of Scripture are one.” When using evidentialist apologetics, the faithful witness should make it clear that he is only doing so for the sake of the argument, and NOT because we believe that the Bible is a secondary or lesser authority. As people rightly say in church circles: “What you win people with is what you win them to.” In other words: people will continue to live in a manner consistent with the teaching and methods that brought them into the church. If they were brought into the church believing that the Bible is of secondary importance (at best), then they will likely continue to view it in that manner (at least practically). If they were brought into church believing that the Bible is God’s revelation to us, then they will likely come to love and cherish Scripture in a manner that is consistent with Psalm 119, 2 Timothy 3:16-17, etc.
  3. Finally: the evidentialist apologist must realize that no amount of evidence can place faith into a sinner’s heart. Faith comes through an authoritative proclamation of God’s Word (see Romans 10:17). If a person remains obstinate against hearing the Bible as God’s Word, then that person will not be brought to true faith, no matter how much evidence they see. I make this assertion not on my own authority, but on the authority of Christ, who taught us: “If they do not listen to Moses and the Prophets, they will not be convinced even if someone rises from the dead” (Luke 16:31).

Andy Stanley: “Cues from Jesus”

Posted August 10, 2018 by strangebaptistfire
Categories: Uncategorized

A StanleyIn an interview with Dr. Michael Brown in which he attempted to explain and clarify quotes found in the article, “Christians Must ‘Unhitch’ Old Testament From Their Faith, Says Andy Stanley” from The Christian Post, Andy Stanley declared: “I want you to take your cues from the Apostle Paul is terms of how we interact and how we value the Old Testament, and I want you to take your cues from Jesus.” He said that he gives his congregation this admonishment all the time. But elsewhere in the interview, Stanley said: “Years ago, I quit saying, ‘The Bible says’… I’ve stepped away from saying, ‘The Bible says it; therefore, it’s true; the Bible says it; therefore, I believe it’…” And in other venues, Stanley has urged Christians to stop saying “the Bible says…”

How did Jesus and the Apostle Paul interact with and value the Old Testament? Would the example of Christ and His Apostle lead us to conclude that we should refrain from saying, “The Bible says…”?

Searching through the Gospel accounts for the word “Scripture” (not even counting the times when the Bible is quoted without the word “Scripture” being used), we see that Jesus made many references to what the Bible says:

-Jesus charges His opponents with misunderstanding Scripture (examples: Matthew 21:42 and 22:29).

-Jesus presents Himself and His work as the fulfillment of Scripture (examples: Luke 4:21 and 22:37).

-Jesus cites Scripture as authoritative, using the phrase “the Scripture has said” (see: John 7:38; note that in his account of Christ, John as a narrator also uses the phrase, “Scripture says,” as in John 19:24 and John 19:37).

In his epistles, the Apostle Paul frequently uses the term “the Scripture says,” as seen in passages like Romans 4:3; 9:17; 10:11; 11:2; Galatians 4:30; 1 Timothy 5:18. Paul so identifies Scripture with the speech of God that he even writes of the Scripture preaching the gospel to Abraham in Galatians 3:8.

Christians can follow Stanley’s advice to take our cues from Jesus and the Apostle Paul OR we can follow Stanley’s advice to stop saying “the Bible says”. We cannot do both. I would urge anyone reading this blog to take the former course and follow Jesus rather than Andy Stanley when the two clearly diverge.

Andy Stanley and the Chicago Statement on Biblical Inerrancy

Posted August 3, 2018 by strangebaptistfire
Categories: Uncategorized

Following an article from The Christian Post on May 9, 2018 titled, “Christians Must ‘Unhitch’ Old Testament From Their Faith, Says Andy Stanley,” Dr. Michael Brown conducted an interview with Stanley, allowing Stanley to further explain his views, while Dr. Brown questioned him concerning his beliefs in Scripture. (You can view the entire interview at the following link: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=C7Jcu03lJso&feature=share .)

In this interview, Stanley once again affirmed his belief in the inerrancy of Scripture. In particular, Stanley has time and again declared that he affirms the Chicago Statement on Biblical Inerrancy. But is Stanley’s teaching consistent with what is taught in the Chicago Statement concerning the authority of Scripture?

Consider the following statements from Andy Stanley in the Michael Brown interview:

A Stanley

  • “We don’t believe [Jesus] rose from the dead because the Bible tells us so… Our apologetic as Christians does not rise or fall on a text; it rises or falls on an event… I have been very, very, very focused for years, because of my desire to reach people who have left the church, to think more sequentially and historically than theologically, and that’s a really important point.”
  • “Years ago, I quit saying, ‘The Bible says’… “
  • “I’ve stepped away from saying, ‘The Bible says it; therefore, it’s true; the Bible says it; therefore, I believe it’… ‘The Bible says’ is great for people who take the Bible seriously. That’s not my audience.”
  • “Even if you don’t believe that stuff [the worldwide Flood, the Exodus, etc.], I’ve got good news: it’s secondary.”
  • Stanley defends his earlier statement: “the whole Old Testament house of cards could collapse, and you still have the resurrection of Jesus.”
  • In direct response to a question about whether the Bible is authoritative for Christians today, Stanley says: “when it is properly understood, when it is properly applied, it is obviously an asset, and [the Bible] enhances Christian experience.”

Now consider the following from the Chicago Statement:

  • The first statement in the Preface of the Chicago Statement is: “The authority of Scripture is a key issue for the Christian Church in this and every age.”
  • The first Article of the Chicago Statement is: “We affirm that the Holy Scriptures are to be received as the authoritative Word of God.”
  • From the Exposition section in the Chicago Statement: “the authority of Christ and that of Scripture are one.”

[Readers can view the entire Chicago Statement at the following link: http://library.dts.edu/Pages/TL/Special/ICBI_1.pdf .]

If asked, “Do you affirm what the Chicago Statement says about the Bible’s authority?” I have little doubt that Andy Stanley would immediately say, “Yes.” But when we examine Stanley’s statements, it becomes hard (or impossible) to find consistency in how he would speak of Scripture (or not speak of Scripture) and how the Chicago Statement speaks of Scripture. In fact, if an interviewer were to ask Stanley whether he affirms the quotes I’ve cited (and others) from the Chicago Statement, and the interviewer did not mention where the quotes came from, I’m NOT sure that Stanley would say, “Yes.”

An authority is not an authority if it is consistently not cited. An authority is not an authority if it is considered “secondary” or supplemental. An authority does not just enhance experience. A proper authority is not just an “asset.” A just authority “binds the conscience” (as the Chicago Statement affirms concerning Scripture) concerning the areas to which it speaks, it is not a “house of cards” that can collapse without grave harm.

There are matters that the authors of the Chicago Statement kept together, which Stanley pulls asunder. Specifically:

  • It is clear from the Chicago Statement that its authors wanted to keep historical and theological [and scientific!] matters joined together (see Articles XII and XIII in particular), whereas Stanley desires “to think more sequentially and historically than theologically” (although he also expresses a desire to save many historical questions, like those concerning the Great Flood or the Exodus, for later consideration).
  • The authors of the Chicago Statement declared that “the authority of Christ and that of Scripture are one,” whereas Stanley clearly views the authority of Scripture as second to the authority of Christ.

If someone pays attention to what Stanley says, then they will hear him affirm the Chicago Statement on Biblical Inerrancy. I’m thankful for that, because I believe that the Chicago Statement is an accurate summary of how God would have us to understand the inerrancy, infallibility, and authority of His written Word. However, I would also encourage everyone to read the Chicago Statement itself. Anyone who has been influenced by Stanley’s teachings should ask: is what he says (or doesn’t say) concerning the Bible consistent with how the Chicago Statement (which he claims to believe) speaks concerning the Bible?

On Andy Stanley and the Bible

Posted July 27, 2018 by strangebaptistfire
Categories: Andrew

For a number of years, Andy Stanley (the pastor of North Point Community Church in the Atlanta area, who is quite influential in Baptist and larger evangelical circles) has been trying to get Christians to “unhitch” from God’s written word in different ways. (For example: see this 2006 article from this blog, which quotes Stanley arguing that we should replace Jesus’ words about pastors being “shepherds” of churches with the language of “CEOs” for today’s culture.) A few months ago, Andy Stanley preached a sermon series called “Aftermath” in which he again spoke of the relationship that Christians should have with the Bible. This led to an article from The Christian Post on May 9, 2018 titled, “Christians Must ‘Unhitch’ Old Testament From Their Faith, Says Andy Stanley.” Responses to that article included one from Dr. David Prince (the pastor of Ashland Avenue Baptist Church) in which Stanley was named a “modern liberal.”

On July 7, 2018, R.C. Kunst, who studied Theology at Moody Bible Institute and currently studies Logical Philosophy at Oxford University, published an interview with Andy Stanley. Kunst, who is committed to the inerrancy of Scripture, wanted to give a sympathetic interview with Stanley, allowing him to clarify his position. You can read the interview at the following link: http://appliedtruth.org/interviews-1/2018/7/7/interview-andy-stanley-pt-1 . Sadly, rather than alleviating concerns with Stanley’s position, that interview highlighted problematic elements of Stanley’s teaching.

The following interaction with Stanley’s words from the interview are given by Keri Folmar, via the Reformed Baptist Fellowship and Theology Forum on Facebook. (She gave me permission to broadcast these.)

“Stanley’s teaching about the Bible is heartbreaking…

“[Stanley says:] ‘The New Atheists crafted their attacks on Christianity assuming what the vast majority of Christians assume. An assumption I want to spend the rest of my life correcting. They assume or assumed that as the Bible goes so goes the Christian faith. That is NOT true. But most Christians think it is. There was no such thing as ta biblia / The Bible until the fourth century. Scripture, yes. But as you know there was no consensus around exactly what constituted Scripture for a looooong time. I argue that Christianity made its greatest strides before there was a The Bible and before there was an officially recognized Canon and way way way before most Christians could read and of course centuries before anyone would own their own personal copy of The Bible. My point? The foundation of our faith is not a text. It is an event. An event that was documented. But the document is secondary to the event.’

“There is so much that is wrong with these statements. First, Stanley rejects the statement that ‘As the Bible goes, so goes the Christian faith.’ But surely history has taught us otherwise. Christianity has never survived jettisoning the Bible. Look at the declining numbers in mainline churches today. Every false teaching starts with twisting or rejecting Scripture.

Second, there was certainly a Bible Christians used in the first centuries. We now call it the Old Testament. There is documentation from the first century that churches read from the OT scrolls (along with writing from the apostles) and pastors explained and applied the texts. Justin Martyr wrote, ‘On the day called Sunday there is a gathering together in the same place of all who live in a given city or rural district. The memoirs of the apostles or the writings of the prophets are read, as long as time permits. Then when the reader ceases, the president through a sermon admonishes and urges the imitation of these things.’ No, it wasn’t in book form, but believers, even Gentile believers, in the first centuries knew their OT well. You can tell by how much the apostles used the texts for their arguments in the New Testament.

“The bound book called the Bible came later, but in the first centuries the writings of the apostles were being circulated to the churches, who recognized them as the authoritative word of God. No, individual Christians didn’t have the precious privilege of taking them home, to read them daily because the printing press had not yet been invented. But they were read in one church and then sent on to other churches. See Colossians 4:16.

Third, the argument that Christians made the greatest strides before there was ‘The Bible’ is also false. What did Peter use on the day of Pentecost when three thousand souls were converted? The Old Testament! What did the apostles (and Steven) use throughout Acts to proclaim the gospel? The Old Testament!

Fourth, Stanley rightly says that our faith is founded on an event. Praise God, we proclaim the news that Jesus died for sinners and was raised from the dead. But when Stanley argues that ‘the foundation of our faith is not a text,’ he forgets the power of that text. What sacred writings had Timothy been acquainted with from childhood? The Old Testament. And Paul says, those writings ‘are able to make you wise for salvation through faith in Christ Jesus’ (2 Tim. 3:15). Then he says that ‘All Scripture is breathed out by God and profitable…’ (2 Tim. 3:16). All of it!

“When Paul instructs Titus about elder qualification, he says, ‘He must hold firm to the trustworthy word as taught, so that he may be able to give instruction in sound doctrine and also to rebuke those who contradict it’ (Titus 1:9). (Notice the word is trustworthy.) Without the Bible, we have no sound doctrine. We cannot know Jesus without its message. We cannot know how to live the Christian life. We cannot grow. Trying to separate the message of Jesus from the Bible is dangerous. Stanley is not only disobeying Titus 1:9, but he is cutting the legs out from under himself when he preaches that Christians don’t need the Bible. The Bible is the foundation of our faith.

Just one more point: Jesus himself used the Old Testament to show who he was and what he had done (Luke 24). Who are we to think we’re wiser than Jesus? (And remember Luke, who recorded the words of Jesus, was a Gentile writing to a Gentile.)”