ANDY STANLEY AND THE AUTHORITY OF SCRIPTURE
Andy Stanley is one of the most popular mega-church pastors in America. He has authored at least twenty books, and his podcasts are widely popular. He is the son of the well-known pastor, Charles Stanley. In 1995, Andy and five others founded North Point Community Church in suburban Atlanta. The church has now grown to six campuses with over 32,000 attendees each week, making it one of the largest churches in the United States. North Point Ministries has also helped plant more than 20 strategic partner churches in the US and Canada.
I have read and profited from Andy Stanley, and listened to him speak at the Willow Leadership Summit. He is insightful and witty. Unfortunately, his views on Scripture (as of late) are causing a growing sense of concern. Several evangelical leaders (such as John Piper, Michael Brown and Kevin De Young) are speaking out about his drift.
Stanley says that about a decade ago, he changed his method of preaching due to his emerging view of the authority of Scripture. Stanley says, ‘As part of my shift, I stopped leveraging the authority of Scripture and began leveraging the authority and stories of the people behind the Scripture. To be clear, I don’t believe ‘the Bible says,’ ‘Scripture teaches,’ and ‘the Word of God commands,’ are incorrect approaches. But they are ineffective approaches for post-Christian people.”
Stanley writes, “Holding to our faith in the risen Christ, we should not believe, ‘Everything rises and falls on whether . . . all the Bible is true.’ “Thinking that way is ‘unfortunate and . . . absolutely unnecessary.’ “ If we stake our faith on the whole Bible being true, then [according to Stanley] “Christianity becomes a fragile house-of-cards religion, when we hear that perhaps the walls of Jericho didn’t come tumbling down.’” Stanley reasons, [Some mistakenly argue that] ‘if the entire Bible isn’t true, the Bible isn’t true.’”
In a recent sermon in April, entitled Aftermath, Stanley said that although the Old Testament is “divinely inspired”, the church today must “unhitch the Christian faith from the Jewish scriptures”. The reason is that the Old Testament is a stumbling block to post-modern people.
While Stanley has several nuanced views when it comes to the authority of Scripture, his basic premise is clear enough. He is moving away from a joyful, robust affirmation of Biblical authority. And it is being reflected in his church and his method of preaching. As John Piper recently observed, while Stanley may think he’s removing intellectual roadblocks for post-modern folks, he is ultimately undermining the authority of the Bible for the next five generations. That is worth chewing on.
by Jay Childs, Senior Pastor