Archive for the ‘Andrew’ category

On Andy Stanley and the Bible

July 27, 2018

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: . 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.)”


“Calvinism” in “Southern Baptist Theological Seminary (1859-2009)”- excerpts from the book by Dr. Gregory A. Wills, compilation

August 12, 2009

Part 1: “Calvinism” at SBTS and in the SBC at the founding of Southern Seminary

Part 2: “Calvinism” in both Landmark and non-Landmark churches during the early days of the SBC

Part 3: The “Calvinism” of the SBTS founders

a. The “Calvinism” of James P. Boyce

b. The “Calvinism” of John A. Broadus

c. The “Calvinism” of William Williams and Basil Manly Jr.

Part 4: “Calvinism and Denominational Doubt”

“Calvinism” in “Southern Baptist Theological Seminary (1859-2009)”- excerpts from the book by Dr. Gregory A. Wills, Part 4

August 11, 2009

Part 4: “Calvinism and Denominational Doubt”

[The entire post below is a quote from Southern Baptist Theological Seminary (1859-2009), pages 542-543, with links added.]

Moderates were astonished to discover that Mohler advocated Calvinism and attacked him for it. Most conservatives in the Southern Baptist Convention rejected the doctrine of predestination but were little troubled by Mohler’s views. Since the 1940s, Calvinism had grown in popularity in evangelicalism generally. London preacher Martin Lloyd-Jones influenced many evangelicals in the United Kingdom to embrace Calvinism through his preaching and his promotion of interest in the Puritans. A number of publishers reprinted Puritan writings to meet the growing demand. The writings of John Stott and James I. Packer popularized these emphases in Great Britain and in the United States. In the United States, such preachers and authors as R.C. Sproul, John Piper, and John MacArthur taught an explicitly Calvinistic understanding of the Bible. Francis Schaeffer and Carl Henry, whose writings spurred an intellectual renaissance within American fundamentalism and evangelicalism, also contributed greatly to the spread of Calvinism’s popularity. Mohler had studied appreciatively the writings of many of these.

In the Southern Baptist Convention, Calvinism’s popularity was spreading at the same time, drawing in part on the same influences. But many Southern Baptists were looking to their own past and discovered there a rich stream of Calvinist evangelicalism. They reprinted and read the theological works of nineteenth-century Baptists, especially of such men as James P. Boyce. Some formed the Founders Ministries, an organization that produced a quarterly journal and hosted an annual conference dedicated explicitly to the promotion of “the doctrines of grace,” as Calvinism was also known. Tom Nettles, professor at Mid-America Baptist Theological Seminary, published in 1986 an extensively documented history of Calvinism among Baptists, which served as an influential introduction to Calvinism for many Southern Baptists. Nettles joined Southern Seminary’s faculty in 1997. (more…)

Book Sale on Founders Press Titles Related to Southern Seminary

August 10, 2009

The following sale announcement is relevant to the recent series of posts I’ve been doing from Dr. Wills’ history of Southern Seminary.

From Founders Ministries Blog [with links added]:

The Southern Baptist Theological Seminary is celebrating its 150th anniversary this year and Founders Press is putting several books related to the seminary on sale until September 4, 2009.

Included are books by Tom Nettles, Michael Haykin and James P. Boyce along with a DVD and CD of the Baptist Catechism by Jim Orrick.

The list of books on sale are found HERE.

“Calvinism” in “Southern Baptist Theological Seminary (1859-2009)”- excerpts from the book by Dr. Gregory A. Wills, Part 3c.

August 8, 2009

3: The “Calvinism” of the SBTS founders

[After the following heading, the remainder of this post is a quote from Southern Baptist Theological Seminary (1859-2009).]

c. The “Calvinism” of William Williams and Basil Manly Jr. (96)

Williams also argued the Calvinist distinctives in traditional fashion. He taught that God’s decrees determined “whatever takes place” and included “all things.” He taught that God imputed Adam’s guilt to his posterity, resulting in “universal total depravity,” in which all persons lacked the “moral ability to do what is spiritually good” and were “totally destitute of any love of God or any inclination to do his will or engage in his service.” He explained that scriptural election was “God’s eternal and unchangeable choice of certain persons to salvation of his sovereign will.” He taught that Christ’s death was a “limited atonement,” because a “true substitution and satisfaction” necessarily involved specific “persons whose place is taken and not an indescriminate mass,” and because the Bible taught that the atonement actually purchased and procured faith, repentance, and salvation. He held that the Holy Spirit’s work of “imparting spiritual life and renewing the will” was “irresistible grace” and was granted to “the elect only.” He taught also that the “perseverance” of the saints was a “necessary inference from the doctrine of election” and from the nature of the union between the Christian and Christ.” (more…)

“Calvinism” in “Southern Baptist Theological Seminary (1859-2009)”- excerpts from the book by Dr. Gregory A. Wills, Part 3b.

August 6, 2009

3: The “Calvinism” of the SBTS founders

[After the following heading, the remainder of this post is a quote from Southern Baptist Theological Seminary (1859-2009).]

b. The “Calvinism” of John A. Broadus (94-96)

Broadus undertook a study of Calvinism in 1857. He wrote Charles Hodge in an effort to acquire an edition of Calvin’s works. He asked his uncle Andrew Broaddus, a veteran Baptist preacher, “how far Calvinism should be carried.” His uncle affirmed both that God was completely sovereign and that humans were fully accountable to repent and believe in Christ, but their perfect compatibility was beyond human understanding: “I can not fathom the mystery connected with God’s sovereignty and man’s accountability.” Broadus concluded that the Calvinist approach was scriptural. (more…)

When God draws us with His grace, does He take away our power to resist that grace?

July 29, 2009

This past July 10th, many Protestants- especially those involved in theological education- recognized the 500th birthday of John Calvin by reflecting on the contributions his writings have made to Christian thought. On The Albert Mohler [Radio] Program guest host Dr. Russell D. Moore, Dean of the School of Theology at the Southern Baptist Theological Seminary led a discussion about the doctrines most often associated with Calvin in popular thinking: namely, election and predestination. Dr. Moore’s guests on the July 10th program were Dr. Mark Dever, President of 9Marks ministries Dr. Matt Pinson, President of Free Will Baptist Bible College. Dr. Moore observed that in the past couple of years discussions of “Calvinism” in Baptist circles have, to a large degree, been more amicable and less vitriolic than in times past, and he wished to model an irenic discussion of “Calvinism” by having these guests: one (Dever) a Calvinist and one (Pinson) an Arminian.

I would like to draw readers’ attention to one question from Dr. Russell D. Moore (“RDM” below) and (especially) to the answer given by Dr. Matt Pinson (MP below). In examining Dr. Pinson’s answer to Dr. Moore, it is not my intention to disrupt the irenic spirit established by Dr. Moore, but I do think that it is instructive for us who hold to a “Calvinistic” position to be able to interact with words from an actual Arminian.

RDM: “When you think about that question, ‘What makes you to differ, as a Christian, from a lost man?’  How would you answer that?”

MP: “I would follow Arminius, who was very much like Calvin in his exaltation of the sovereign grace of God, and that God must draw us with His grace because we are totally depraved; we’re completely unable to will ourselves into His favor, and our heart is desparately wicked. I think the difference is that, like Arminius, I would see that grace as being resistible. I think ‘prevenient grace,’ as it’s often called by Calvinists and Arminians, is the real big difference between how we would  see Calvinism and Arminianism. I would say that God comes to people with His grace, and yet He treats them as persons- who have an intellect, will, and emotions- and He’s dealing with them in relationship; and so, as Arminius says, He uses ‘suasion.’ He doesn’t operate on them in a cause and effect way, but in an influence and response way. So He gives them the freedom, by His grace, to resist and even to reject that grace. So you can’t do anything- you know, Arminius was fond of quoting Augustine, ‘Without Me ye can do nothing,’ and he says- let me quote here- says, ‘Christ does not say, Without Me ye can do but little, neither does He say, Without Me ye cannot do any arduous thing, nor, Without Me ye can do it with difficulty, but He says, Without Me ye can do nothing. Nor does He say, Without Me ye cannot complete any thing, but, Without Me ye can do nothing.’ So- you know- we would say, ‘Without the grace of God in Christ and the drawing power of the Holy Spirit, we can do no spiritual good- not the least spiritual good.’ But that doesn’t mean that when He draws us with His grace, that He takes away our power to resist that grace.”

[The entire radio program can be heard HERE.] (more…)