Tag Archives: andrew wilson

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. Any thoughts?


Rob Bell and Don Draper – The Ad Man’s Gospel

As I was finishing up my blog post comparing songwriter Mark Heard to popular evangelical author Donald Miller, I was trying to figure out how to handle Rob Bell. Bell has been the most explosive figure in progressive evangelicalism today, though within the past few years he has gone out even further than many of his progressive evangelical colleagues are willing to endorse. Theologically speaking in my view, a confused ecclesiology is what unites the contemporary triune fellowship of Bell, Miller, and Brian McLaren. It is difficult for me to say this, because while I still know that these folks love Jesus and I can still learn some things from them, there have just been some other things there that continue to bug me. However, there could be more to the analysis. I think I have stumbled onto an idea, but I had to look “across the pond” to find it.

While some evangelicals in the U.S. still puzzle over the Rob Bell storm in recent years, a fire is currently raging in Britain. Recently, a debate between progressive evangelical Steve Chalke and more classic evangelical Andrew Wilson has intensely engaged thoughtful Christians. In reflecting on the debate, Andrew Wilson pointed to a specific problem in Steve Chalke’s argumentative method. In a nutshell, Wilson claims that Chalke sets up a type of “straw man” noting some extreme case, and therefore reacting to it with a different extreme case as THE solution, without acknowledging that there might be more moderate and alternative solutions that are being sidestepped. Wilson likens this to what Rob Bell is doing as a communicator of the “Ad Man’s Gospel”. Strangely, however, I do not think Rob Bell is alone in this. You can find folks equally on the more “fundamentalist” side of the evangelical movement who do EXACTLY the same thing in reverse. Wilson cites this post by Alastair Roberts as evidence. It says it better than I can.

On the downside, it does make me seriously question how viable the Internet; e.g. blogging, serves as an effective vehicle for thoughtful communication and dialogue. I am still doing it, but I have my doubts. Veracity readers: Are Andrew Wilson and Alastair Roberts right?

If you follow the whole line of thought, you will never think about Oldsmobiles the same way again….

Alastair's Adversaria

I find Rob Bell fascinating.

Sure, I disagree with his theology, but when it comes to engaging communication, the man is virtually without peer.

If you want to see a masterpiece in clever communication, look no further than a promotional video for a Rob Bell book.

This is Bell in his element.

Attention-grabbing.
Engaging.
Dynamic.

Take, for instance, this recent offering:

The dislocated camera shots.
The fractured statements.
It’s all there.

You start with the evocative image of the Velvet Elvis, reminding you of that summer you read through that book as a teen.

How that book resonated with you at the time!

Rob begins by telling us that a lot of people in our culture ‘can’t do the God-sort of belief system or idea.’ A ‘very, very popular movement’ tells us that this is all that there is. However, lots and lots of people, when they experience vaguely defined…

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