Of course you had to have been living under a rock not to hear about Andy Stanley’s sermon on what the Old Testament has to do with the life of modern day Christians. Ostensibly basing his sermon on the apostolic council of Jerusalem in Acts 15, Stanley declared, “Here’s what the Jerusalem Council was saying to the Gentiles: ‘You are not accountable to the Ten Commandments.’”
Stanley’s goal is not entirely out of line. He wants to meet those who have lost their faith in a maze of rules and regulations (which he places in the Old Testament) and set them free in Jesus. Who can blame him? After all Christians routinely wonder what the nice, compassionate, non-judgmental Jesus has to do with the arbitrary, legalistic, judgmental, and, mostly, angry God of the Old Testament. The downside in this, of course, is that ditching the Old Testament is flirting with the ancient heresy called Marcionism—basically the denial that the Old Testament has any authority for Christian doctrine and morals.
Stanley insists the Gospel “is completely detached … from everything that came before.” So according to Stanley “God has done something through the Jews for the world” [given them the Law]. “But the ‘through the Jews’ part of the story is over, and now something new and better and inclusive has come.” According to Francis Watson, modern day Marcionism is more about “Christian unease about the status and function of the Old Testament” and therefore the conclusion that “the Old Testament is not to be regarded as part of Christian scripture.” But Stanley is quite careful here. He insists he believes the Old Testament is “divinely inspired,” yet Stanley claims the Old Testament is no longer authoritative for the Christian life.
This was a general call to avoid immoral behavior[,] but not immoral behavior as defined by the Old Testament … [rather,] as defined by the apostle Paul. … The apostle Paul was explicit and specific about sexual immorality but he did not tie it to the Old Testament. … The old covenant, law of Moses, was not the go-to source regarding sexual behavior for the church. … The Old Testament was not the go-to source regarding any behavior for the church.What Andy Stanley says out loud is what some Christians, even some Lutherans think. The antinomnians do not believe the Law has any place in the Christian life and the Gospel is all that is needed. Preach the Gospel and leave it up to the Gospel to work to transform behavior. We don't need to mess with the law. There is no third use or third function or any use or function of the Law except a generic curb for the general population and a mirror to point us to the need for that Gospel.
What Andy Stanley says out loud is what some Christians, even Lutherans think. There are many stories in the Bible and they are meant for different people and different times but only the story of Jesus is for all. In this view Jesus is merely a subplot of the Old Testament and not the central focus and narrative of both OT and NT. So there is little need to spend time in it -- except for a few passages we like to hear at Christmas or a few Psalms so familiar and meaningful. Indeed, many Christians act like Marcionites even if they don't really believe like them.
Of course, even if people are clapping their hands that Andy Stanley finally said out loud what they have been thinking all along, that does not make it right. Andy is wrong. Dead wrong. He is deceiving people with a Gospel less than Christian and one certainly unworthy of Jesus. Don't by into his lies and don't end up with his conclusions. Scripture is all about Jesus. We heard that from the mouth of Jesus at Ascension Day, when, just before fading into the clouds, our Lord opened the minds of His disciples to see how all the Law, the Prophets, and the Psalms testify of Him. Do I hear an Amen?