Tag Archives: andrew wilson

Can “Charismatic” and “Liturgical” Christians Worship Together?

The debate over the “gifts of the Spirit” divides evangelical Christians. The debate over the ancient liturgy of the church divides as well. Is it possible to heal the divides by bringing the charismatic and the liturgical together?

Consider the “gifts of the Spirit.” On one side are those who believe that the supernatural gifts of tongues, prophecy, etc. continue on today in the church (the continuationist, or charismatic position). On the other side are those who believe that those very same gifts ceased to exist at the end of the apostolic age, in the first century of the church (the cessationist, on non-charismatic position).

Walk into just about any “typical” evangelical church today, and the antenna of any first time visitor goes up. How many people during worship are raising their hands during the singing? Is the person sitting next to you uttering some undecipherable words, just above a whisper (or louder), during the corporate prayer time? If things get really scary, you might be asking yourself, “Is that barking I hear, or is that simply the drummer hitting the snare drum, making a really odd sound?”

Depending upon your theological background, the answers to these questions might encourage you to stick around, and inquire positively of the pastor, or they might encourage you to quietly sneak out the door, never to return!

Spirit and Sacrament: An Invitation to Eucharismatic Worship, by Andrew Wilson, is probably the best written case for defending the union and expression of charismatic and liturgical worship in the church. Plus, the book is short and exceptionally well written.

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Andy Stanley and the Bible Told Me So

Megachurch pastor Andy Stanley. Promoter of Biblical truth... or compromiser?

Atlanta Megachurch pastor Andy Stanley. Promoter of Biblical truth… or compromiser?

I do not follow popular, megachurch pastors that much. But when a fellow Veracity reader tipped me off regarding a recent controversy with Atlanta-based Andy Stanley, I was puzzled.

Andy Stanley, the pastor of NorthPoint Community Church, and son of another popular Atlanta preacher, Charles Stanley, has been preaching a sermon series on “Who Needs God.” The basic concern Andy Stanley has is that there is a startling trend of people who grow up in conservative, evangelical, Bible-believing churches, who later end up “deconverting” to some form of agnosticism by the time they become adults.

In the third message of the series, entitled “The Bible Told Me So,” Stanley talks about people who grow up believing Christianity is true because “the Bible told me so.” But when they go off to college, or watch a PBS Nova special, or simply surf the Internet, they are surprised to learn that there is little to no concrete, archaeological evidence that supports the idea that an army of some 600,000+ Israelites conquered the town of Jericho, near the start of the Canaanite conquest, as recorded in the Book of Joshua. As a result of hearing things like this, the fragile “Bible-told-me-so” faith of such a person collapses, kind of like a car tire that just got a flat, with the air hissing out.

As Stanley puts it, “If the Bible is the foundation of our faith, here is the problem, it is all or nothing. . . Christianity becomes a fragile house of cards that comes tumbling down when we discover that perhaps the walls of Jericho didn’t.” As a result, Christians need to learn that we are to base our faith, first and foremost, on Jesus and the Resurrection, and stop relying on an “all or nothing” approach to the Bible.

There are problems with Stanley’s sermon, as Reformed Theological Seminary’s Michael Kruger tells us. I went and listened to Andy Stanley’s sermon, and I would agree that Stanley said a few things that could easily be misunderstood the wrong way. For example, Stanley makes the rather overstated claim that the early Christians, for the first few centuries of the church, had a belief in Christianity, without the Bible!

Well, that is not quite, right. It would be more accurate to say that the early church did indeed possess “the Bible.” But they did not possess that “Bible” in the same form as we have it today. The early church surely embraced the Old Testament, though it did take a few hundred years to sort out the details regarding the particularity of the New Testament canon. These critiques aside, professor Kruger still felt that pastor Stanley’s motives were good, even if the proposed solution advanced by Stanley was slightly off-kilter.

But what astounded me was reading the comments left on professor Kruger’s blog. Quite a number of readers did not believe that Kruger’s criticisms went far enough.  Various readers described Andy Stanley as “repeatedly [denying] the authority of Scripture”, “deceitful,” “decidedly non-biblical,” and “a false teacher.”

What further astounded me is that Stanley’s church, NorthPoint Community Church, clearly states that the church believes “the Bible is without error.”

Andy Stanley is far from perfect, but I think British pastor and blogger, Andrew Wilson, has written an excellent defense of Andy Stanley. In a nutshell, Wilson argues that, “I don’t trust in Jesus because I trust the Bible; I trust the Bible because I trust in Jesus.” I would be curious to know what some of our Veracity readers think of all of this.

My take pretty much follows from what something my late pastor emeritus, Dick Woodward, taught a number of years ago: The Bible is true, not simply because the Bible says it is true. Rather, the Bible is true, because it is true.

Something to think about.

For some answers as to how one might think about archaeology and Jericho, you might want to start here and here. For a 13-minute interview that Southern Baptist leader, Russell Moore, has with Andy Stanley, give this a listen:


Transgender, Intersex, and Christian Love

If you have been wrestling with, as a Christian, how you can love people who identify as transgender in some way, you owe it to yourself to view the following sermon video by Andrew Wilson, pastor of Kings Church in Eastbourne in the United Kingdom1. On the one hand, there is tremendous pressure from the wider culture today to minimize gender differentiation, and it has an impact on how the church understands issues involving men and women in church ministry, same-sex marriage, and just what it means to be a male or female person. On the other hand, there are clues in Scripture where Jesus recognizes that there are eunuchs, those who do not fit certain biological gender expectations at birth.

What does Christian love look like, when we reach out to people whose biological sex does not match their experience of gender? Justin Taylor, of The Gospel Coalition, has a great summary of Andrew Wilson’s talk:

Notes:

1. Veracity featured another, short video by Andrew Wilson last week, for you “End Times” people. 


Is the European Union the Beast of Revelation?

From across the pond….

Next week, the UK will hold a referendum on whether or not to leave the European Union. In this discussion, what fascinates me is that some Christians across the pond are concerned that the European Union is fulfilling the role of a “revived Roman empire,” as a sign of the End Times. For example, some prophecy people look upon the Euro currency as displaying a woman riding upon a wild beast, just as it is taught in Revelation 17:3.

Just a word of caution: It might be helpful to be a little bit cautious about prophecy claims that look to the newspapers for signs of fulfillment. Below is a three and a half minute video from British pastor and author Andrew Wilson, making his case for why the European Union (EU) does not line up with what you find in Revelation.1

Interestingly, this may not be much of a surprise to some people! It is important to note that there is a growing, new movement among some Christians, that Europe is not to play such a role in God’s prophetic timetable. Instead, folks like Joel Richardson are teaching that the Islamic Middle East will play that role instead.2

Notes:

1. I blogged about this topic before when the last Left Behind movie came out. 

2. Joel Richardson is interviewed extensively in Covenant and Controversy, a film about Israel and Christian Zionism that I highlighted in a recent blog post.


Are Baby Dedications Biblical?

Is the contemporary practice of baby dedication taught within the Bible?

Is the contemporary practice of baby dedication taught within the Bible?

Of the few people I follow on Twitter, British evangelical writer, Andrew Wilson, is right there at the top. He has the mind of a scholar and the heart of a pastor, young enough to be conversant about postmodernity, and yet wise enough to challenge me to be more humble before Scripture. In his latest blog post at Think, Wilson challenges me to consider if baby dedications, as practiced in many interdenominational churches today, are really Biblical.  His answer: They are not, but services of thanksgiving and prayers for newborns are still good ideas.

I worship in a community of faith where such baby dedications are practiced. Who is not moved when the pastor prays over a miniature human in their arms?

But it really is rather odd, if you think about it.

Consider this: Until the last thirty or forty years or so, baby dedications were rarely, if ever, practiced in any evangelical church. Why has such a novelty, with the slimmest of Biblical backing, taken off in interdenominational churches today? What Wilson does not dive into that much is summarized by his Tweet from a few months ago, “baby dedications are perhaps the most obvious symbol of credobaptist cultic deprivation.”

What I think Andrew Wilson means by that is this: Modern evangelical churches are drawn to baby dedications because they serve as a compromise solution to the long-standing baptism debate: infant baptism (paedobaptism) vs. believer’s baptism (credobaptism).  With baby dedication, it is not to be confused with baptism, while it still symbolizes the notion of bringing a child into the community, passing on the faith to the next generation (or so we hope). So, while baby dedication steps around the controversy (which is understandable), it nevertheless fails to engage the Christian to fully think through how the covenants of God work within Scripture, and how baptism is related (I stand guilty myself). So, we get a workable solution that makes peace between the differing viewpoints, but at the expense of shallowing the theological depth of our Biblical thinking in our churches.

As a first step, it might be better to rename “baby dedications” as “parent dedications” instead, as these events are more about the parents dedicating themselves to present the Gospel to their children, along with the help of the surrounding church community, and about praying to God that He would touch the hearts of those children, over the coming years, with His Word of Truth and Life. Any thoughts?


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