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Andy Stanley and the Dismissal of the OT

andy stanley
Comments (8)
  1. Toviyah says:

    Amen.

    “Remember the days of old, consider the years of many generations: ask thy father, and he will shew thee; thy elders, and they will tell thee.” (Deuteronomy 32:7)

    Toviyah

  2. h l munsey says:

    i’m not surprised at all seeing as how his daddy preaches. daddy tries to ‘soften’ the WORD as so to not hurt peoples feelings. he never digs into the (reality) of HELL. and people love this. that’s why he and his ministry is worth over 40 million dollars. and daddy stanley says one can go to heaven if one doesn’t love GOD. and he also teaches that GOD doesn’t want anyone to be ill, sick. he intertwines his preaching with the emphasis on ‘self-esteem ‘ and humanism. he doesn’t fool me. he’s a ‘slickster’. his preaching is DEFINITELY HUMAN CENTERED. so i’m not surprised that his son is on the same path. not only do i feel sorry for him and his son, i feel very sorry for the people that embrace what they teach and preach.

    thank you for the good informative article.

  3. Adam Shields says:

    I am a member at Buckhead, one of the North Point sites and where Andy Stanley is primarily preaching from now. I was at this sermon and heard much of the larger context and I have been a member here for nearly 12 years now.

    So I have a bias to support Andy Stanley, or I would not still be a member. I do think he overly hyperbolic at times, but I do think that the majority of takes on this sermon have missed what his point was. I do think that there is a point of how and why we use the OT as this critique points out. But Andy isn’t saying that the OT isn’t important, he isn’t staying it ins’t divinely inspired, he isn’t saying that the OT should be wholly rejected.

    The focus of the sermon, and the three part series was ‘what now’. After Christ’s resurrection, what has changed?

    The first session was primarily about the second commandment and how it is not the starting basis for our ethics as Christians. It isn’t that the OT doesn’t have a way to speak into our lives as Christians, but we are no longer Jews, but followers of Christ. The OT law doesn’t save us, Christ does. Our faith is influenced by the fact that Christ was Jewish and that the story of Israel is a story of faithfulness of God in the midst of unfaithfulness of Israel.

    But now, the second commandment is the way that we illustrate the first. We know that we love God because we love others. So as Christians our ethics are rooted not in OT cultural and liturgical law, but on Jesus’ summary of what it means to illustrate our love for God.

    This third sermon then is primarily about what it means for Paul to teach non-Jews what it means to be Christian. The answer in Acts 15 is that non-Jews did not become Jewish. It isn’t that Stanley is saying that the OT is irrelevant to our modern faith. But that the OT was not the basis for faith in the early church, Jesus Christ was.

    Stanley isn’t rejecting the OT as non-Christian, but as something that is informative of our Christian faith, but not the root of our Christian faith.

    I think part of the context that is necessary to understand the sermon is in your discussion of your learning about the OT as a child. The vast majority of those that are coming to faith at the Northpoint campuses are people that either have no Christian background or have a difficult legalistic background and they are coming back to faith after previously rejecting it.

    I think this is partially illustrated by the discussion about the world Evangelical. The word has come to mean while cultural/political conservative. And there are still many that are political and cultural conservatives within the church. But many within the church were taught that white cultural/political conservatism and were taught that the belief in that conservatism, often with heavy reliance on OT systems of ethical development and political theory (God is the God of America, If my people will repent and call upon my name then I will save them, and by them I mean Americans that were a chosen people).

    As we eventually move out of the train wreck that is the White Evangelical world and its support of Trump, there will be a whole generation that will have to be retaught what Christian ethics means and how they are developed. I honestly think that some of Stanley’s rhetorical method is too hyperbolic. But I think the evangelistic intent is basically right. Our ethics is based on the table and the commitment to our brothers and sister in Christ (and those that may become brothers and sisters in Christ) not on fulfilling commands abstracted from understanding the imago dei of the other.

    Andy frequently says (a bit more than I am comfortable with honestly) that you don’t have to be a Christian to benefit from the ethical teaching of the OT and the wisdom of proverbs and the model of OT figures as illustrations of how to live. He believes that there is benefit to following the law. It is that he doesn’t believe we should be placing our cultural understanding of the law on new Christians that do not have a background in the cultural understanding of it. And I think that is true to Paul and Luke’s description of the events of Acts 15.

  4. Wesley Baker says:

    It sounds as if Mr. Stanley is embracing something called New Covenant Theology (I’ve had a few champions of this line of thought speak at my church). Among its distinctives are a dismissal of the Ten Commandments (with an emphasis on sabbath), a rejection of all commands given before Jesus was resurrected as binding, and a strong preference for the Pauline epistles. A common theme is that we, as new covenant believers are no longer under the law of Moses, just the law of love. The new covenant to them, was inaugurated with Christ’s resurrection, and, therefore, everything in the Bible before the resurrection is old covenant and is dead (including the sermon on the mount and large parts of Jesus’ teaching). Its Marcionism in new clothes with familiar words. There have not been many rebuttals of this view that I have read, and I especially appreciate an opportunity of understand importance of a full biblicism to the African American experience.

  5. Ben Puckett says:

    Great article! Although it’s unfortunate that you and many others responding to Stanley have to say these things. It seems like common sense to me that the OT is important. If it causes people to lose faith then preach from it so that your congregation can understand it better. People think God is mean in the OT and loving in the NT. God’s grace, patience, and love permeate the pages of the OT. It’s everywhere, maybe not explicitly stated and easily seen such as in passages from 1 John.

    I think your last statement sums this up very well and if anyone asks me my thoughts, I’m just going to quote you!

  6. I appreciate your piece. I’d want to put an emohasis on the Luke 24 passages you brought up. The reason is because the OT has enormous value for Christology – for instance reading prophet, priest, and king motifs in the OT as finding their greatest fulfillment in the Person and work of Jesus Christ. I think Andy Stanley was up to something slightly more nuanced than what many have described, but suffice it to say, without the prophetic, priestly, and kingly aspects of the Person and work of Jesus Christ we would be left with an incredibly impoverished Christology

  7. Bruce Knowlton says:

    You’re so right. Apparently neither biblical nor cultural literacy are necessary to make it big in mega-church ministry anymore. More importantly, you’ve articulated why a truncated, foundationless gospel is bad news for everyone, black and white alike.

    Here’s a technical point you may want to address to strengthen your argument further: the commands to love God and neighbor don’t in fact rest on the law and prophets. Jesus said “On these two commandments hang all the law and the prophets.” That is, the law and the prophets are in service of the greatest commandment. At first glance, this may seem to undermine your point, as some people, Stanley perhaps among them, have taken this to mean “Ignore all that law and prophet stuff; just love God and neighbor, and you’ll be fine.” But this reversal actually strengthens your argument. Jesus’ “summary of the law”was not a new thing at all, but echoed other Jewish scriptural scholars, who themselves didn’t think they were offering anything new, but just stating the obvious. Also, as you’ve already pointed out, we know Jesus didn’t mean to “unhitch”from the OT, because he continued to exposit it regularly. So we must conclude that for Jesus, knowing the great stories, including the Exodus, knowing the commandments, and knowing the prophetic rebukes and promises are all part and parcel of striving to obey the greatest commandment.

    Thanks for writing this great piece. You’ve given me much to think about.

  8. Ted Hall says:

    This is a well-reasoned rebuttal, brother. Stanley speaks of unhinging ourselves from the Old Testament; I think that it’s Stanley himself who is unhinged!

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