It did not take long for megachurch pastor Andy Stanley to respond to the barrage of criticisms surrounding his suggestion to “unhitch” the Old Testament from Christians’ faith. In a May 15 interview with Relevant Magazine, the North Point Ministries pastor explained why he thinks his critics misunderstood the point of his controversial message.
As previously noted, Stanley’s provocative comments came during an April sermon series titled “Aftermath,” which is mostly a plea to people who’ve rejected the faith to reconsider. The three-part sermon videos are posted online.
In response to his critics, Stanley shared “there are some folks who did not understand the point I was making” and wished more critics had reached out to him for clarification.
Most interesting, Stanley believes his critics failed to listen to the entire three-part sermon series. Stanley said:
The folks in our churches understood the point I was making. Anyone who listened to all three parts of the series probably understood the point I was making. Anyone who heard my Christmas or Easter message understood the point I was making. So I guess the point I’m making is that anyone who really wanted to know what I meant by what I said could figure that out pretty easily. But it might require listening to more than one message!
Well, I did listen to all three sermons before posting my comments (which you can read here). In fact, I spent much of my first Mother’s Day watching Stanley’s sermons while my husband took our daughter swimming. Not exactly the ideal Mother’s Day, but I did so because I was careful not to miss the big picture Stanley was painting.
Actually, in my opinion, the first sermon installment was a bit more troubling than the third by downplaying the Bible’s role in confronting a post-Christian society. No surprise here because Stanley has made similar comments in the past. In October 2016, the Institute on Religion & Democracy reported Stanley repeatedly encouraged pastors to stop using the phrase “the Bible says so” and other similar iterations.
Stanley maintained this is not a denial of God’s divinely-inspired Scriptures, but a shift in methodology and not theology.
“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,” Stanley explained. “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.”
While I can’t speak for other critics, I can stand by my initial critiques of Stanley’s message. Stanley makes valid points as he strives to reach the younger generation. His methodology is undoubtedly captivating. But I fear Stanley flirts with the line of refashioning theology to engage his audiences. An unnecessary approach for Stanley’s already thriving ministry.Google+