Friday, July 13, 2018

Andy Stanley says out loud what Christians think. . . 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?


Anonymous said...

What rank nonsense!! Seems I recall that Jesus said something about he had not come to abolish the law...," but then, who wants to here that when it does not fit the narrative?

Fr. D+

Anonymous said...

This controversy arose between Luther and Muentzer/Karlstadt in the early days of the Reformation, when the radical Reformers proposed establishing Mosaic law in reformed cities. The opponents of Luther would point to the Old Testament and say, "God says...." I.e. no images, no work on the Sabbath, which Evangelicals still labor under today. Luther responded by writing "How Christians Should Regard Moses," which asks "who is God saying that to?" This led to controversy even among Lutherans, and was eventually settled by FC SD VI.

David Gray said...

Where does the Solid Declaration say that Christians do not need to obey the Ten Commandments?

Anonymous said...

A wise, Confessional Pastor taught me to Pray/Meditate/Confess "The Triad" (10 Commandments, Apostles' Creed, Lord's Prayer) often.
1) 10 Commandments shows us how we fail to do God's Will and either leads us to unrepentant sin, or to despair or leads us to look for a "Savior Outside of Ourselves".
2) the Apostles' Creed show us the Savior "Outside of Ourselves": the Triune God. The Creed shows us God's love, Jesus Christ paying in full for our sin and the Holy Spirit planting faith through Means in Church.
3) The Lord's Prayer teaches us to pray confidently to God who loves us and wants us to be His Children again.
The Old Testament does not apply to us today? Gross error. Old Testament LAW shows us the need for the New Testament GOSPEL. OT does promise a Savior and describes Him in some detail
Bless Luther for the Small Catechism that teaches these Biblical truths in a simple manner that even children can understand and remember: for it is the curse of men that we forget.
Timothy Carter, "ex-Deacon" Kingsport, TN.

Anonymous said...

A hallmark of a good law/gospel sermon is to hear about a challenging situation in the life of some Old Testament bible character and then be invited to apply that experience to our own personal lives.

And now we often get the opposite kind of sermon: The pastor preaches about some everyday "challenge" on "how to become a better person" and then cherry picks a few verses from the Old Testament to prove the point.

Anonymous said...

Isn’t It obvious that Stanley is laying the groundwork for total acceptance of the LGBTQ agenda in his church? But even if you ditch Leviticus how do you get around Romans chapter one unless you believe St. Paul’s writings were inspired by the Holy Spirit and the patriarchal culture of first century Palestine and it is up to us to figure out which is which? Stanley’s church will fit snugly in the world.

Rev. Weinkauf said...

Every one should read Luther's Antinomnian Disputations. As timely today as it was then. Every Lutheran pastor should have read this brillant work.