Category Archives: Uncategorized

Andy Stanley Responds to His Critics (Again)

Atlanta pastor Andy Stanley manages to stir up controversy every now and then, most recently with a sermon given earlier in 2018, about “unhitching” our faith from the Old Testament. Pastor Stanley was interviewed by apologist Dr. Michael Brown, on the Line of Fire radio program, where he was given the opportunity to respond to critics.

I may not totally jive with every statement Andy Stanley makes in his preaching, but I am totally on-board with his apologetics strategy. In sum, the message of the Christian faith, is driven first and foremost by an event, and not a text. We begin not with a perfect Bible, but rather, with the evidence of the Resurrection of Jesus. Some of the friends in my church call this the “Easter Effect,” whereby almost the entire Roman Empire, in the first centuries of the church, was converted to Christianity on the basis of the claim of the Risen Jesus. We get our understanding of the Bible’s authority from the Risen Jesus, and not vice-versa.

For if Jesus never rose from the dead, our confidence in the Bible means absolutely nothing. But because Jesus did rise from the dead, the Bible comes to us as God’s Word, and means everything to the follower of Jesus.

In other words, it is not enough to say, “the Bible says it, I believe, and that settles it.” Rather, “I believe the Bible, because it is true.” There is a big difference.

Give it a listen, and let me know what you think. Do you think I am wrong about this? Is Andy Stanley on target, or is he veering off the mark? Veracity has covered Andy Stanley before on several occasions (#1, #2, #3). The audio starts about 20 seconds in.


The Book of Habakkuk: In Seven Minutes

If you want a brief introduction to the Book of Habakkuk, with some helpful visual illustrations, it is worth watching this 7-minute video by the “Bible Project.”  For another, deeper look at Habakkuk, with respect to how one verse in this book impacted the Protestant Reformation, take some time to ponder this post on Veracity, from earlier last year.


One Reason Why John Stott’s Stand Against Martyn Lloyd-Jones Mattered

Fifty years ago this week, the great British evangelical independent preacher, Martyn Lloyd-Jones, clashed with Anglican, John R.W. Stott, another great British pastor, over the future of the evangelical movement in the United Kingdom. Jones was urging evangelicals to leave corrupt institutions, whereas Stott pushed back, reminding fellow evangelicals of the importance of maintaining a Christian witness. Stott’s argument won the day, yet Puritan historian, Iain H. Murray, believes that the acceptance of Stott’s efforts led to evangelical compromise. However, the following blog post, by British blogger Alastair Roberts, offers a different perspective, that I find helpful to think about.

Alastair's Adversaria

A couple of days ago, Justin Taylor published an interview with the Rev Dr Andrew Atherstone, upon the fiftieth anniversary of a pivotal event in English evangelical history. At the National Assembly of Evangelicals on October 18, 1966, two of the biggest figures among British evangelicals in the day, the Welsh minister of Westminster Chapel in London, Martyn Lloyd-Jones, and John Stott, rector of All Souls Church, had an important dispute about the future of evangelicals within the Church of England.

Lloyd-Jones gave an address calling for evangelicals to pursue visible unity with other evangelicals, accusing Anglican evangelicals of schism for their failure to unite with evangelicals outside of the Church of England, and of serious compromise for their continued involvement in a mixed denomination alongside doctrinally and spiritually unfaithful persons. Although he was the chairman, Stott publicly responded to Lloyd-Jones’ remarks, resisting his claims and appeal to Anglican evangelicals.

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A Lesson from Orlando: Responding to Fear

FearWhen I heard the news the other day about an Islamic man, claiming to be associated with ISIS, gunning down 49 people in a gay nightclub in Orlando, Florida, I was grieved and saddened. That evening, at a meeting in our church, we prayed for the families impacted by this terrible event.

However, in the midst of processing all that has happened in Orlando, I would contend that a lot of my Christian brothers and sisters feel a bit bewildered by the whole thing. How do you respond to something like this? How do you love people gunned down in a gay nightclub? How do you love someone claiming to be an Islamic terrorist, slaughtering people around him? What would Jesus do?

If I had to name one word that covers a lot of what Christians are feeling, it would be this:

FEAR

A lot of Christians are afraid.

Hey, I struggle with it. Don’t you??

On one side, many Christians are afraid of Islam. Some are afraid of Sharia law taking over America. Some are afraid of Christianity being diluted by an unfamiliar faith that claims Abraham as their father. Some are afraid of violence.

On the other side, many Christians are afraid of the LGBTQ community. Some are afraid of family values going downhill. Some are afraid of the “ick” factor associated with homosexuality. Some are afraid of the pressure to change the theology of the church in order for LGBTQ folks to feel like being accepted.

But does fear tell the whole story?

No.

There is no fear in love, but perfect love casts out fear. For fear has to do with punishment, and whoever fears has not been perfected in love (1 John 4:18).

Allow me to tackle a couple of these fears. For example, as has been discussed before here on Veracity,1 literally millions of Muslim-background people are fleeing countries that have been closed to or otherwise restricted from Christian missionaries. Furthermore, some reports show2 that Muslim-background people have shown a greater interest and openness to the Christian faith within the past 14 or so years, than in the preceding 14 centuries. The harvest is plentiful. And the fields are coming right to your doorstep in your community.

Should we respond in fear, or should we respond with obedience to the Great Commission?

Here is another fear to address. Many Christians are afraid that the LGBTQ community is trying to force Christians to give up on the theology of the Bible in order to feel accepted by the church.

A new book from NavPress by Andrew Marin makes the case that this typical evangelical concern is misplaced. In Us versus Us: The Untold Story of Religion and the LGBTQ Community, Marin reveals the results of a long-term scientific study regarding the LGBTQ community and the Christian church. Here are some startling observations from the study:

  • 83% of the LGBTQ community has some type of Christian faith background.
  • 76% of the LGBTQ community would be open to coming back to church.
  • 80% of the LGBTQ community pray.

According to a recent review of Marin’s book by theologian Preston Sprinkle,3 only 15% of LGBTQ leave the church because of “theological interpretations of sin.” In other words, most LGBTQ people have left the church not because the church teaches that same-sex marriage is not supported by the Bible. Instead, they leave the church for the following reasons (I list the most common):

  • The person did not feel safe in the church (18%)
  • The person experienced a relational disconnect with church leadership (14%)
  • Christians were unwilling to dialogue (12%)
  • The person was kicked out of the church for being gay (9%)

Of the 76% of those who would be open to coming back to a church, only 8% would insist that the church change its theology of sin and/or marriage. Think about that. That means 92% of LGBTQ people who are interested in coming back to a church are more interested in how they are treated than they are with the doctrinal stance of that church, regarding sexual ethics.

With the added emphasis of what has happened recently in Orlando, it is imperative that Christians demonstrate compassion towards those in the LGBTQ community, when their sense of fear of being relationally isolated from the church has only been compounded all the more.

Here are some practical suggestions: Get to know someone who is a Muslim or someone who identifies with the LGBTQ community. Listen to their story. Ask them questions. Show them hospitality. Then, ask the Lord where to lead you next in your relationship with that person.

Sure, there is always an aspect of fear. Radical terrorists still threaten with violence: convert to Islam or die. There are still some LGBTQ people who will not budge an inch in their efforts to change your Christian theology on marriage. But I am reminded by a quote from a sermon this past week. In C.S. Lewis’ The Lion, the Witch, and the Wardrobe, a question was asked about Aslan, the Christ-figure in the story. Is the Lion safe?

“Safe?” said Mr. Beaver; “don’t you hear what Mrs. Beaver tells you? Who said anything about safe? ‘Course he isn’t safe. But he’s good. He’s the King, I tell you.”

If Christ is the King, and he is good, then we have nothing to fear.

Notes:

1. See John Paine’s post on Syrian refugees and his series on Basic Islam. Here is my report on viewing world history through Islamic eyes

2. Open Doors, a ministry to the persecuted church, observes that God is using visions of Jesus Christ to bring many Muslims to having faith in Christ.

3. Preston Sprinkle has written what I believe is the best book on how Christians should view same-sex attraction, People to Be Loved. You should read it. I gave a brief review here.


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