Friday, July 31, 2015

Jeff Johnson Offers a Biblical Case for Cessationsim

On Sunday, August 9, my blog partner, Jeff Johnson, will seek to answer the question, "Have the spiritual gifts ceased?" In answer to the question, he will offer a Biblical case for Cessationism. He will be addressing the issue at 6:00 PM at Grace Bible Church in Conway, Arkansas, where he serves as the primary teaching elder. Perhaps those of you who live in the Conway, Arkansas, area will be able to drop by for the evening and leave a comment here with your thoughts about it. I'll keep the rest of the blog's readers posted and let you all know when the audio and/or video of the teaching is made available. Here is Jeff's description of what we can expect from the teaching:
On August 9th Grace Bible Church will present a Biblical case for Cessationism in a two part presentation. There are three Scriptural reasons why the spiritual gift of tongues has ceased. One, the nature of tongues indicates that they have ceased. Two, the purpose of tongues indicates that they have ceased. Three, the finality of the cannon indicates that they have ceased.
We will cover these 3 reasons in two sessions. In the first session we will cover the nature and purpose of tongues, and the second session we will cover the finality and completion of the Word of God.
In the first session we will cover the nature and purpose of tongues, which gives us the first two reasons why tongues have ceased. Under the nature of tongues, we will examine the reasons why biblical tongues were not ecstatic utterances as practiced today. After examining (A.) the etymology and the historical use of the Greek word glossa (γλῶσσα), we will (B.) exegete the major biblical texts relating to tongues. In each text, unknown foreign language(s) is the best interpretation of the meaning of the gift of tongues. (C.) Next we will show why speaking in an unknown foreign language was truly a supernatural miracle that testified the divine source of the revelation. Ecstatic utterances are easily faked and thus prove and testify of nothing. This naturally leads to the purpose of tongues. Tongues, according to God’s Word, had a restricted and temporal function that was inherently connected to the apostolic age. That is, tongues gave divine testimony and validation of three things: (A.) new revelation, (B.) apostolic authority, and (D.) divine judgment upon unbelieving Israel. All three of these purpose are temporal by their very nature. Thus, if tongues were given for these three reasons, it is impossible for them to continue past their intended usefulness and purpose.
In the second session we turn our attention to 1 Cor. 13:8-13. Tongues were never meant to continue. They were prophesied to cease when that which “perfect comes.” By studying the context of this passage the best description of “that which is perfect” is the completion of the objective revelation of the New Testament. The infallible Scripture is not only “perfect,”  it best fits the context of what was predicted to come and replace tongues, the less reliable source of divine revelation. This session will conclude with some of the important implications of a closed and complete canon of Scripture. Mysticism and the charismatic movement are dangerous, for anything that adds to or competes with the sufficient, finished, and complete Word of God is something that is not harmless.
I am looking forward to hearing more of Jeff's thoughts on this important issue, and I hope you all will be anxious to hear his teaching on the subject as well.

Wednesday, July 29, 2015

John MacArthur Encourages Us Not to Bow to Our Culture

On Sunday July 19 John MacArthur spoke to his congregation in the light of the June 26 U.S. Supreme Court decision that legalized same sex marriage in our country. His response is thoroughly Scriptural -- as is usual with John -- and it stands in stark contrast to the responses of some "pastors," such as the very troubling response of Carey Nieuwhof (to which I reacted here). The title of John's message is We Will Not Bow, and in it he has accurately described and diagnosed in the light of Scripture what is happening not only in our country but in western culture in general. John tells us that "a lot is happening at a very rapid rate. And with all the discussion that’s been going on, I’ve been kind of eager to get to you, and maybe help to give you a perspective." I am grateful that he did. Here is the transcript of a portion of the message:
This country talks a lot about terrorist attacks—and rightly so. Almost anybody in America can give you some kind of a listing of the most destructive acts of terror that have happened in our country. But let me suggest to you this: The two greatest attacks of terror on America were perpetrated by the Supreme Court. Not by any Muslim, but by the Supreme Court of the United States. The first one was the legalizing of abortion. Subsequent to that, there have been millions of babies slaughtered in the wombs of their mothers. It’s incalculable to even comprehend that. The blood of those lives cries out from the ground for divine vengeance on this nation.
The second great act of terror perpetrated by the Supreme Court was the legalization of same-sex marriage. The destruction of human life in the womb—in a sense, the destruction of motherhood—and now the destruction of the family itself. No bomb, no explosion, no attack, and no assault on people physically can come anywhere near that kind of terrorism. Our country is being terrorized by the people most responsible to protect it—those who are to uphold the law.
Just a few comments beyond that. No human court has the authority to redefine morality. But this human court has said murder is not murder; and marriage is not marriage; and family is not family. They have usurped the authority that belongs only to God, who is the creator of life, marriage, and family. Any and all attempts to define morality differently than God has is a form of rebellion and blasphemy—blasphemy against God, against His holy nature, and His holy law, and His holy people.
This nation, at its highest level, has taken a position against God. Such blasphemous rebellion is energized—it is energized by the corruption of the collection of sinful hearts, which make up this nation or any nation. There’s no question about that. But behind that collection of sinful, corrupt, human hearts—that make this kind of thing possible and acceptable—is the realm of Satan and demons. The Bible says Satan holds the whole world in his hands; the whole world lies in the lap of the evil one.
God, and Christ, and the Holy Spirit, and the Bible, and the church, and truth are the enemies of Satan. And Satan rules the world. He rules the world of sinners. And he has his power in high places. He is the ruler of the kingdom of darkness, and he hates and seeks to destroy all that is light, all that is truth, all that is pure, all that is holy, all that is virtuous, and all that is good.
I’m saying all of this to let you know that you don’t need to be surprised. I admit, that for a few hundred year America had a very rare reprieve from this normal kind of conflict that most of the world has always known. But that reprieve has come to a screeching halt. And I want to remind you that homosexuality, homosexual marriage, gender transition—these are not the real battlegrounds. The real battle ground is against God, and Christ, and the Holy Spirit, and the Bible, and the church, and the gospel. Any blasphemy against God comes from God haters, Christ haters, Bible haters, gospel haters. And they are fueled by the arch-hater, Satan himself.
Later is the message John accurately says:
And that leads me to believe that we’re now living in Romans 1. I’ve told you that. How do you know when the wrath of God is released? How do you know when the wrath of God is unleashed against a society? First, Romans 1:24, there is a sexual revolution. We’ve had that—in the 60s, the last century. Then there will be a homosexual revolution led by lesbians. The women are mentioned first in Romans 1:26. And then there will be the reprobate mind. And that’s when the thinking is really the product of the sexual, homosexual revolutions, and the thinking is so corrupt we can’t find our way back. That’s where we are. 
The rest of the transcript, as well as video of the message, may be found here. I highly recommend listening to the entire message.

Tuesday, July 21, 2015

The Widespread Problem of Boredom and Impatience with God's Word

My wife recently reminded me of an article that Al Mohler wrote over a year ago, but which is still very much worth reading. In fact, it describes a problem that is becoming more and more widespread every day. The article is entitled Why So Many Churches Hear So Little of the Bible, and it describes the way in which so many people are bored or impatient with the Bible and how this has affected the teaching and preaching of the Bible in a negative way. In the article Al Mohler actually interacts with another article written by Mark Galli of Christianity Today, and I will include the link to his article in the following citation from Al's own article:
"It is well and good for the preacher to base his sermon on the Bible, but he better get to something relevant pretty quickly, or we start mentally to check out.” That stunningly clear sentence reflects one of the most amazing, tragic, and lamentable characteristics of contemporary Christianity: an impatience with the Word of God. 
The sentence above comes from Mark Galli, senior managing editor of Christianity Today in an essay entitled, “Yawning at the Word.” In just a few hundred words, he captures the tragedy of a church increasingly impatient with and resistant to the reading and preaching of the Bible. We may wince when we read him relate his recent experiences, but we also recognize the ring of truth. 
Galli was told to cut down on the biblical references in his sermon. “You’ll lose people,” the staff member warned. In a Bible study session on creation, the teacher was requested to come back the next Sunday prepared to take questions at the expense of reading the relevant scriptural texts on the doctrine. Cutting down on the number of Bible verses “would save time and, it was strongly implied, would better hold people’s interest.” 
As Galli reflected, “Anyone who’s been in the preaching and teaching business knows these are not isolated examples but represent the larger reality.” 
Indeed, in many churches there is very little reading of the Bible in worship, and sermons are marked by attention to the congregation’s concerns, not by an adequate attention to the biblical text. The exposition of the Bible has given way to the concerns, real or perceived, of the listeners. The authority of the Bible is swallowed up in the imposed authority of congregational concerns.
Al Mohler perceptively concludes that:
How can so many of today’s churches demonstrate what can only be described as an impatience with the Word of God? The biblical formula is clear: the neglect of the Word can only lead to disaster, disobedience, and death. God rescues his church from error, preserves his church in truth, and propels his church in witness only by his Word—not by congregational self-study. 
In the end, an impatience with the Word of God can be explained only by an impatience with God. We all, both individually and congregationally, neglect God’s Word to our own ruin.
As Jesus himself declared, “He who has ears to hear, let him hear.”
I highly recommend reading the entire article. Also, if you have found yourself struggling with boredom or impatience with the Word of God -- even despite your best intentions -- then perhaps the advice of John Piper will be helpful. You can read his advice for a person dealing with this problem here.

See also: Help Being a Good Hearer of the Word

Thursday, July 16, 2015

Carey Nieuwhof Offers Some Bad Advice to American Pastors

On June 29 a Canadian pastor named Carey Nieuwhof posted an article on his blog entitled Some Advice on Same-Sex Marriage for US Church Leaders From a Canadian. His intent was to offer advice to American pastors in the light of the June 26 U.S. Supreme Court decision that legalized same sex marriage in our country. In this article Carey offers five "perspectives" that he hopes "are helpful as church leaders of various positions on the subject think and pray through a way forward." I will briefly address each of them.

First, Carey reminds us that "The church has always been counter-cultural," and here he has a few good things to say. For example, he reminds us that:
If you think about it, regardless of your theological position, all your views as a Christian are counter-cultural and always will be. If your views are cultural, you’re probably not reading the scriptures closely enough.
We’re at our best when we offer an alternative, not just a reflection of a diluted or hijacked spirituality.
I agree. We need not fear that our culture is forcing us to actually be as counter-cultural as we are called to be, nor to be seen as such. But, as we shall see, Carey doesn't remain faithful to such an understanding in what follows, since his advice begins to sound more like something one would hear in our culture that what one would derive from Scripture.

Second, Carey asserts that "It’s actually strange to ask non-Christians to hold Christian values," and it is here that he begins to get off track, so I will spend some time quoting portions of this section of the article and offering my responses as I go.
The question Christians in a post-Christian culture have to ask themselves is this:
     Why would we expect non-Christians to behave like Christians?
If you believe sex is a gift given by God to be experienced between a man and a woman within marriage, why would you expect people who don’t follow Christ to embrace that?
Why would we expect people who don’t profess to be Christians to:
     Wait until marriage to have sex?
     Clean up their language?
     Stop smoking weed?
     Be faithful to one person for life?
     Pass laws like the entire nation was Christian?
Seriously? Why?
Most people today are not pretending to be Christians. So why would they adopt Christian values or morals? 
My counter-question for Carey is, "Why would God expect people created in His image to behave like it? Seriously? Why?" But to ask the question is to answer it. It is because He made them, right? So He has the right to expect them to live as the moral creatures He created them to be, and He has the right to judge them when they don't. Surely Carey must know this. Surely he must understand that all men are under the judgment of God precisely because they fail to live up to His moral standard. And surely he must know that "Christian values or morals" are not just standards we have chosen to adopt from some list of our own making but rather are the very standards that God has revealed in His Word as what He expects of all men everywhere. In fact, such an understanding of God's right to hold all men accountable for their sins against Him and His own standard of righteousness is presupposed in the early preaching of the Gospel as seen in the New Testament. For example:
NKJ Acts 17:22-31 Then Paul stood in the midst of the Areopagus and said, "Men of Athens, I perceive that in all things you are very religious; 23 for as I was passing through and considering the objects of your worship, I even found an altar with this inscription: TO THE UNKNOWN GOD. Therefore, the One whom you worship without knowing, Him I proclaim to you: 24 God, who made the world and everything in it, since He is Lord of heaven and earth, does not dwell in temples made with hands. 25 Nor is He worshiped with men's hands, as though He needed anything, since He gives to all life, breath, and all things. 26 And He has made from one blood every nation of men to dwell on all the face of the earth, and has determined their preappointed times and the boundaries of their dwellings, 27 so that they should seek the Lord, in the hope that they might grope for Him and find Him, though He is not far from each one of us; 28 for in Him we live and move and have our being, as also some of your own poets have said, 'For we are also His offspring.' 29 Therefore, since we are the offspring of God, we ought not to think that the Divine Nature is like gold or silver or stone, something shaped by art and man's devising. 30 Truly, these times of ignorance God overlooked, but now commands all men everywhere to repent, 31 because He has appointed a day on which He will judge the world in righteousness by the Man whom He has ordained. He has given assurance of this to all by raising Him from the dead."
Thus Paul preached repentance from sin in the light of God's sovereign right to judge all mankind. He clearly said that God "now commands all men everywhere to repent, because He has appointed a day on which He will judge the world in righteousness by the Man whom He has ordained," namely Jesus Christ our Lord. This was the same message that the Apostles had preached to the religious Jews (Acts 2:22-39; 3:12-19). Indeed, when Paul later stood trial before Herod Agrippa, he spoke of his Gospel ministry this way:
NKJ Acts 26:19-20 Therefore, King Agrippa, I was not disobedient to the heavenly vision, 20 but declared first to those in Damascus and in Jerusalem, and throughout all the region of Judea, and then to the Gentiles, that they should repent, turn to God, and do works befitting repentance.
Thus the Apostle Paul had no problem telling pagan Gentiles that God as their Creator had the right to call them to repentance for their sins, and we know that among such sins Paul included the sin of homosexuality (e.g. 1 Cor. 6:9). In fact, when Paul wrote to the Roman Christians in order to explain his preaching of the Gospel to them (Rom. 1:9-15), he spent a great deal of time showing how he taught that all men, including pagan Gentiles, are guilty of sin before God and in need of forgiveness and salvation, and he specifically confronted the rampant homosexuality of his day:
 NKJ Romans 1:16-27 For I am not ashamed of the gospel of Christ, for it is the power of God to salvation for everyone who believes, for the Jew first and also for the Greek. 17 For in it the righteousness of God is revealed from faith to faith; as it is written, "The just shall live by faith." 18 For the wrath of God is revealed from heaven against all ungodliness and unrighteousness of men, who suppress the truth in unrighteousness, 19 because what may be known of God is manifest in them, for God has shown it to them. 20 For since the creation of the world His invisible attributes are clearly seen, being understood by the things that are made, even His eternal power and Godhead, so that they are without excuse, 21 because, although they knew God, they did not glorify Him as God, nor were thankful, but became futile in their thoughts, and their foolish hearts were darkened. 22 Professing to be wise, they became fools, 23 and changed the glory of the incorruptible God into an image made like corruptible man-- and birds and four-footed animals and creeping things. 24 Therefore God also gave them up to uncleanness, in the lusts of their hearts, to dishonor their bodies among themselves, 25 who exchanged the truth of God for the lie, and worshiped and served the creature rather than the Creator, who is blessed forever. Amen. 26 For this reason God gave them up to vile passions. For even their women exchanged the natural use for what is against nature. 27 Likewise also the men, leaving the natural use of the woman, burned in their lust for one another, men with men committing what is shameful, and receiving in themselves the penalty of their error which was due.
Thus there can be no doubt that Paul saw the confrontation of sin and the need for repentance from sin as necessary to a proper preaching of the Gospel. And there can be no doubt that the sins he confronted included the sin of homosexuality. Paul clearly believed that God, the Creator of all mankind, had the right to challenge their sin and to call them to repentance from sin and to faith in Christ. He did not give any indication in any of his writings that he thought it pointless to call men to "adopt Christian values or morals," because he clearly saw such values as God's values by which all men are judged. How can Carey possibly not know these things? They are basic to a Biblical worldview and to a Biblical preaching of the Gospel.

It is also worth pointing out that there may be some category confusion for many believers who read Carey's post. For example, although writing to suggest how we should respond to a U.S. Supreme Court decision concerning gay marriage, Carey also asks questions about whether or not we should expect non-Christians to "clean up their language" or "pass laws like the entire nation was Christian." Yet Carey must know that there is a significant difference between issues like using foul language on the one hand and completely rebelling against God's intention for men and women as He created them on the other. That he would even ask such questions so indiscriminately, treating such issues as though they belong in the same category, reveals an apparent lack of understanding in Carey of just how serious an issue gay marriage really is. In addition, we must be clear that Christians who take a strong stand against the sins of homosexuality and gay marriage are not trying to "pass laws like the entire nation was Christian." We are not, for example, trying to require everyone to attend church on Sundays, regularly read the Bible, or take part in the Lord's Supper. We understand full well that there are certain practices we take part in that are unique to us as Christians and that we would not expect non-Christians to take part in (indeed, we would refuse to allow them to take part in the Lord's Supper). But human sexuality and marriage are not among such things. They are common to all human beings. Yet Carey makes it sound as though we are expecting people to "behave like Christians" when we are simply expecting them to behave like human beings created in the image of God, something which God Himself expects of them.
Please don’t get me wrong.
I’m a pastor. I completely believe that the [sic] Jesus is not only the Way, but that God’s way is the best way.
When you follow biblical teachings about how to live life, your life simply goes better. It just does. I 100 percent agree.
I do everything I personally can to align my life with the teachings of scripture, and I’m passionate about helping every follower of Christ do the same.
But what’s the logic behind judging people who don’t follow Jesus for behaving like people who don’t follow Jesus?
Why would you hold the world to the same standard you hold the church?
So, the real reason people should follow Christ is that their lives will "go better"? Not because they are sinners who deserve judgment and can only find forgiveness and salvation through repentance and faith in Christ? Does Carey think following Christ is like joining a country club? Can anyone who takes the Bible seriously really say something like this?

In addition, that Carey would even ask such a question as "Why would you hold the world to the same standard you hold the church?" reveals a postmodern mindset that is foreign to a Biblical worldview. It appears to assume that values are determined by groups of people and that we should not expect others to adopt our values unless and until they have decided to join our group, and then because they want a life that "goes better." Such a mindset certainly doesn't sound like anything the Apostle Paul would accept.
First, non-Christians usually act more consistently with their value system than you do.
It’s difficult for a non-Christian to be a hypocrite because they tend to live out what they believe.
Once again Carey reveals a mindset that is foreign to a Biblical worldview. After all, how can he possibly say that "It’s difficult for a non-Christian to be a hypocrite because they tend to live out what they believe" unless he refuses to accept what Paul says when he asserts that "the wrath of God is revealed from heaven against all ungodliness and unrighteousness of men, who suppress the truth in unrighteousness" (Rom. 1:18). How could anyone possibly be more hypocritical than to "suppress the truth in unrighteousness"!?
Chances are they are better at living out their values than you or I are. Jesus never blamed pagans for acting like pagans.
But he did speak out against religious people for acting hypocritically. Think about that.
Really? "Jesus never blamed pagans for acting like pagans"? Then why, after His resurrection, and as the time approached to take the Gospel to the pagan Gentiles, did Jesus teach His disciples that repentance from sin should be preached to them? For example:
NKJ Luke 24:44-47 Then He said to them, "These are the words which I spoke to you while I was still with you, that all things must be fulfilled which were written in the Law of Moses and the Prophets and the Psalms concerning Me." 45 And He opened their understanding, that they might comprehend the Scriptures. 46 Then He said to them, "Thus it is written, and thus it was necessary for the Christ to suffer and to rise from the dead the third day, 47 and that repentance and remission of sins should be preached in His name to all nations, beginning at Jerusalem."
Why would Jesus think it necessary to preach "repentance and remission of sins" to all the pagan nations if He didn't blame them for "acting like pagans"? Or why did Jesus use the pagan Gentiles as examples of sinful behavior to be avoided if He did not blame them for "acting like pagans"? For example:
NKJ Matthew 6:7-8 And when you pray, do not use vain repetitions as the heathen do. For they think that they will be heard for their many words. Therefore do not be like them. For your Father knows the things you have need of before you ask Him.
NKJ Matthew 6:31-32 Therefore do not worry, saying, "What shall we eat?" or "What shall we drink?" or "What shall we wear?" 32 For after all these things the Gentiles seek. For your heavenly Father knows that you need all these things.
NKJ Matthew 20:25-28 But Jesus called them to Himself and said, "You know that the rulers of the Gentiles lord it over them, and those who are great exercise authority over them. 26 Yet it shall not be so among you; but whoever desires to become great among you, let him be your servant. 27 And whoever desires to be first among you, let him be your slave-- 28 just as the Son of Man did not come to be served, but to serve, and to give His life a ransom for many."
Again, does Carey really think that Jesus didn't blame the pagan Gentiles for the sinful attitudes and actions that make them such a bad example to follow?

Also, we must take into account the teaching Jesus gave that refers to universal standards for all men everywhere, such as when He cited the creation passage from Genesis regarding God's intention for marriage:
NKJ Matthew 19:3-6 The Pharisees also came to Him, testing Him, and saying to Him, "Is it lawful for a man to divorce his wife for just any reason?" 4 And He answered and said to them, "Have you not read that He who made them at the beginning 'made them male and female,' [Gen. 1:27] 5 and said, 'For this reason a man shall leave his father and mother and be joined to his wife, and the two shall become one flesh '? [Gen. 2:24] 6 So then, they are no longer two but one flesh. Therefore what God has joined together, let not man separate."
Does Carey really think that Jesus wouldn't blame pagan Gentiles for "acting like pagans" in denying God's intention for marriage between one man and one woman? As we have seen above, the Apostle Paul -- who learned His Gospel preaching from Jesus (Gal. 1:11-12) -- certainly didn't understand our Lord's teaching this way. Perhaps Carey is the one who should take some more time to "think about it" before he takes it upon himself to advise the rest of us.

Third, Carey reminds American "church leaders" that "You’ve been dealing with sex outside of traditional marriage for a LONG time." Here again I will quote at some length a portion of Carey's article and offer my own response.
If you believe gay sex is sinful, it’s really no morally different than straight sex outside of marriage. 
Be honest, pretty much every unmarried person in your church is having sex (yes, even the Christians). 
I know you want to believe that’s not true (trust me, I want to believe that’s not true), but why don’t you ask around? You’ll discover that only a few really surrender their sexuality. 
Not to mention the married folks that struggle with porn, lust and a long list of other dysfunctions. 
If you believe gay marriage is not God’s design, you’re really dealing with the same issue you’ve been dealing with all along—sex outside of its God-given context.
You don’t need to treat it any differently...
By the way, if you don’t deal with straight sex outside of marriage, don’t start being inconsistent and speak out against gay sex. 
And you may want to start dealing with gluttony and gossip and greed while you’re at it... 
At least be consistent…humbly address all forms of sex outside of marriage.
There is a sense in which Carey makes a good point here. If we believe that gay sex and gay marriage are both sins against God, we should treat them as such and should not fail to deal with other sins that also violate God's intentions for human sexuality and marriage. But he doesn't seem to grasp the fact that this is precisely what most of us conservative Evangelicals -- who are more interested in allowing the Bible to dictate our approach than he seems to be -- are actually doing, despite the fact that there is great pressure being exerted on us not to do so.

Furthermore, Carey is simply wrong when he asserts of "gay sex" or "gay marriage" that "it’s really no morally different than straight sex outside of marriage." For not only does "gay sex" violate God's moral standard for sex between a man and a woman in marriage, but it also violates His intention in creating them male and female in the first place. Thus it is not simply the same thing, especially given the fact that there has not been a large movement among sexually promiscuous heterosexual people to redefine marriage as properly being between two men or two women rather than only a man and a woman. Yet this is precisely what has happened due to those who argue for so-called "gay rights."

Fourth, Carey asserts that "The early church never looked to the government for guidance." Although I might take issue with the way Carey states a few things in this section of the article, I have no problem with the main idea and thus will move on the the final point.

Fifth, Carey asserts that "Our judgment of LGBT people is destroying any potential relationship." Here Carey again gets way off track, as the following assertions clearly demonstrate:
Even the first 72 hour of social media reaction [after the June 2015 Supreme Court decision] has driven a deeper wedge between Christian leaders and the LGBT community Jesus loves (yes, Jesus died for the world because he loves it). 
Judgment is a terrible evangelism strategy. 
People don’t line up to be judged. 
If you want to keep being ineffective at reaching unchurched people, keep judging them.
Judging outsiders is un-Christian. Paul told us to stop judging people outside the church
Jesus said God will judge us by the same standard with which we judge others.
Once again we hear the same basic idea that most unbelievers like to point out to us, namely that Christians aren't supposed to judge. But Carey fails to grasp -- as do most unbelievers who say essentially the same thing -- that there is a difference between sinful judgment of others from a standpoint of arrogance and hypocrisy and a righteous judgment based on God's Word. In fact, he fails to see that we aren't really judging the LGBT community at all -- God's Word is judging them, and we are simply declaring what His Word says, as we have been called to do.

Carey also provides a couple of links to Scripture in the text cited above, and both are misapplied by him. First, he links 1 Corinthians 5:12 to the words to stop judging people outside the church. To be sure, in this verse the Apostle Paul writes, "For what have I to do with judging those also who are outside? Do you not judge those who are inside?" But a look at the larger passage will show that Carey is taking these words out of context. Here is the whole passage:
NKJ  1 Corinthians 5:1-13 It is actually reported that there is sexual immorality among you, and such sexual immorality as is not even named among the Gentiles-- that a man has his father's wife! 2 And you are puffed up, and have not rather mourned, that he who has done this deed might be taken away from among you. 3 For I indeed, as absent in body but present in spirit, have already judged (as though I were present) him who has so done this deed. 4 In the name of our Lord Jesus Christ, when you are gathered together, along with my spirit, with the power of our Lord Jesus Christ, 5 deliver such a one to Satan for the destruction of the flesh, that his spirit may be saved in the day of the Lord Jesus. 6 Your glorying is not good. Do you not know that a little leaven leavens the whole lump? 7 Therefore purge out the old leaven, that you may be a new lump, since you truly are unleavened. For indeed Christ, our Passover, was sacrificed for us. 8 Therefore let us keep the feast, not with old leaven, nor with the leaven of malice and wickedness, but with the unleavened bread of sincerity and truth. 9 I wrote to you in my epistle not to keep company with sexually immoral people. 10 Yet I certainly did not mean with the sexually immoral people of this world, or with the covetous, or extortioners, or idolaters, since then you would need to go out of the world. 11 But now I have written to you not to keep company with anyone named a brother, who is sexually immoral, or covetous, or an idolater, or a reviler, or a drunkard, or an extortioner-- not even to eat with such a person. 12 For what have I to do with judging those also who are outside? Do you not judge those who are inside? 13 But those who are outside God judges. Therefore "put away from yourselves the evil person."
Even a cursory reading of this passage will reveal what most Bible scholars and commentators agree to be true about it, namely that it is dealing with a matter of church discipline. Thus, when Paul says that we do not "judge" those who are "outside" (vss. 12-13) -- i.e. who are not named among the brethren (vs. 11) -- he means that we do not adopt the disciplinary practice of avoiding them as we would avoid a sinning brother (vss. 9-11). Paul isn't dealing at all with whether or not we should make moral judgments about the sins of unbelievers, something which he himself does when he refers to them as "sexually immoral" (vs. 9). Nor is Paul dealing with whether or not we should tell such immoral people the truth about their sins and call them to repentance, something which we have already seen above that Paul clearly did as a regular part of his Gospel preaching.

Second, Carey links Matthew 7:1-2 to the words God will judge us by the same standard with which we judge others. Good grief! Has he really adopted the same ridiculous misinterpretation of this verse that so many unbelievers seem to have adopted whenever they ignorantly remind us that "Christians aren't supposed to judge"? As with the preceding passage, a look at this passage in its larger context will reveal that Carey is once again wrong. Here is the whole passage:
NKJ  Matthew 7:1-5 Judge not, that you be not judged. 2 For with what judgment you judge, you will be judged; and with the measure you use, it will be measured back to you. 3 And why do you look at the speck in your brother's eye, but do not consider the plank in your own eye? 4 Or how can you say to your brother, "Let me remove the speck from your eye"; and look, a plank is in your own eye? 5 Hypocrite! First remove the plank from your own eye, and then you will see clearly to remove the speck from your brother's eye.
Notice that Jesus is not saying that we should refuse to make moral judgments about the actions of others or refuse to confront theirs sins. In fact, He assumes that we must make such moral judgments if we are to properly confront their sins. Thus when He says, "First remove the plank from your own eye, and then you will see clearly to remove the speck from your brother's eye," He assumes that we will indeed seek to remove the speck from our brother's eye. Jesus is warning us against hypocritical judgment of others that refuses to take our own sin into account when we seek to correct them, but He assumes that we ought to try to correct them if we love them. I'm sure that Jesus would agree with the Old Testament teaching in this regard about how to truly love our neighbor:
NKJ Leviticus 19:17-18 You shall not hate your brother in your heart. You shall surely rebuke your neighbor, and not bear sin because of him. 18 You shall not take vengeance, nor bear any grudge against the children of your people, but you shall love your neighbor as yourself: I am the LORD. 
Now, I suppose someone like Carey might try to argue that this passage is directed to Israelites whose neighbors were expected to share their same moral values and thus that it doesn't apply to the way in which we are to love pagans. But I would simply point out that he should not, then, try to apply a passage about taking a speck out of your brother's eye to pagans either. However, if the principle of judgment that Jesus teaches is aptly applied to our treatment of pagans, then I fail to see how the principle of confrontation of sin contained in the Old Testament command to love our neighbor should not apply.

I will finish by agreeing with Carey about one important thing, namely that "the LGBT community" are among those whom "Jesus loves (yes, Jesus died for the world because he loves it)." However, Jesus also said to His earthly brothers that "The world cannot hate you, but it hates Me because I testify of it that its works are evil" (John 7:7). And He warned His disciples that, "If the world hates you, you know that it hated Me before it hated you. If you were of the world, the world would love its own. Yet because you are not of the world, but I chose you out of the world, therefore the world hates you. Remember the word that I said to you, 'A servant is not greater than his master.' If they persecuted Me, they will also persecute you. If they kept My word, they will keep yours also" (John 15:18-20). Carey apparently thinks that we could not possibly be loving the people of the world as we ought to if they ever feel judged by us or hate us, but our Lord Jesus would most definitely disagree with him! Carey apparently also thinks it possible to be "counter-cultural" without being hated by the world, but, again, our Lord Jesus would most definitely disagree with him!

In conclusion, then, I would simply say that Carey ought not seek to advise "church leaders" here in the U.S. -- or anywhere else for that matter -- until he has learned his Bible a lot better. After all, some of us do know how to read the Bible, and we can tell when someone is distorting its teaching.

Wednesday, July 08, 2015

The Baptism Debate - James White vs Gregg Strawbridge

The video above contains the debate between James White and Gregg Strawbridge concerning the issue of baptizing believers only versus baptizing believers and their children. Here is the YouTube description, which includes a breakdown of the segments of the video:
Are we to view our children as members of the covenant? Is baptism meant to replace circumcision in the new covenant? What about those verses in Scripture where everyone in the house was baptized? Wouldn't that include the children? These questions and more illustrate the long standing debate over infant vs credo baptism. On March 23rd 2015 James White and Gregg Strawbridge debated it at The Orlando Grace Church in Orlando, Florida.
10:27 - Strawbridge Opening
23:23 - White Opening
35:51 - Strawbridge Rebuttal
46:18 - White Rebuttal
56:47 - Strawbridge Rebuttal
1:02:26 - White Rebuttal
1:09:37 - Strawbridge Rejoinder
1:17:00 - White Rejoinder
1:24:26 - Cross Examination - Strawbridge vs. White
1:35:00 - Cross Examination - White vs. Strawbridge
1:45:19 - Cross Examination - Strawbridge vs. White
1:55:42 - Cross Examination - White vs. Strawbridge
2:06:11 - Strawbridge Closing
2:11:37 - White Closing
2:16:50 - Audience Questions
I recommend listening to the entire debate, which is a model for the way Christians should respectfully dialog about such issues.

Wednesday, July 01, 2015

Here We stand: An Evangelical Declaration on Marriage

Yesterday I added my signature to the document entitled Here We stand: An Evangelical Declaration on Marriage. The document may be found online at the website of The Ethics & Religious Liberty Commission of the Southern Baptist Convention. Here is the text of the declaration for your consideration:
As evangelical Christians, we dissent from the court’s ruling that redefines marriage. The state did not create the family, and should not try to recreate the family in its own image. We will not capitulate on marriage because biblical authority requires that we cannot. The outcome of the Supreme Court’s ruling to redefine marriage represents what seems like the result of a half-century of witnessing marriage’s decline through divorce, cohabitation, and a worldview of almost limitless sexual freedom. The Supreme Court’s actions pose incalculable risks to an already volatile social fabric by alienating those whose beliefs about marriage are motivated by deep biblical convictions and concern for the common good. 
The Bible clearly teaches the enduring truth that marriage consists of one man and one woman. From Genesis to Revelation, the authority of Scripture witnesses to the nature of biblical marriage as uniquely bound to the complementarity of man and woman. This truth is not negotiable. The Lord Jesus himself said that marriage is from the beginning (Matt. 19:4-6), so no human institution has the authority to redefine marriage any more than a human institution has the authority to redefine the gospel, which marriage mysteriously reflects (Eph. 5:32). The Supreme Court’s ruling to redefine marriage demonstrates mistaken judgment by disregarding what history and countless civilizations have passed on to us, but it also represents an aftermath that evangelicals themselves, sadly, are not guiltless in contributing to. Too often, professing evangelicals have failed to model the ideals we so dearly cherish and believe are central to gospel proclamation. 
Evangelical churches must be faithful to the biblical witness on marriage regardless of the cultural shift. Evangelical churches in America now find themselves in a new moral landscape that calls us to minister in a context growing more hostile to a biblical sexual ethic. This is not new in the history of the church. From its earliest beginnings, whether on the margins of society or in a place of influence, the church is defined by the gospel. We insist that the gospel brings good news to all people, regardless of whether the culture considers the news good or not. 
The gospel must inform our approach to public witness. As evangelicals animated by the good news that God offers reconciliation through the life, death, and resurrection of His Son, Jesus, we commit to:
  • Respect and pray for our governing authorities even as we work through the democratic process to rebuild a culture of marriage (Rom. 13:1-7);
  • the truth about biblical marriage in a way that brings healing to a sexually broken culture;
  • affirm the biblical mandate that all persons, including LGBT persons, are created in the image of God and deserve dignity and respect;
  • love our neighbors regardless of whatever disagreements arise as a result of conflicting beliefs about marriage;
  • live respectfully and civilly alongside those who may disagree with us for the sake of the common good;
  • cultivate a common culture of religious liberty that allows the freedom to live and believe differently to prosper.
The redefinition of marriage should not entail the erosion of religious liberty. In the coming years, evangelical institutions could be pressed to sacrifice their sacred beliefs about marriage and sexuality in order to accommodate whatever demands the culture and law require. We do not have the option to meet those demands without violating our consciences and surrendering the gospel. We will not allow the government to coerce or infringe upon the rights of institutions to live by the sacred belief that only men and women can enter into marriage. 
The gospel of Jesus Christ determines the shape and tone of our ministry. Christian theology considers its teachings about marriage both timeless and unchanging, and therefore we must stand firm in this belief. Outrage and panic are not the responses of those confident in the promises of a reigning Christ Jesus. While we believe the Supreme Court has erred in its ruling, we pledge to stand steadfastly, faithfully witnessing to the biblical teaching that marriage is the chief cornerstone of society, designed to unite men, women, and children. We promise to proclaim and live this truth at all costs, with convictions that are communicated with kindness and love.
I hope that more pastors will join me in publicly taking such a stand.

Wednesday, June 24, 2015

Is Andy Stanley Ashamed of the Bible?

Back in May I posted a link on my Facebook page to an article on the Pulpit & Pen blog entitled Andy Stanley Trashes Expository Preaching; Calls it “Easy” and “Cheating”. I also posted a comment which accompanied the link in which I said:
This article does a pretty good job of demonstrating why Andy Stanley just doesn't get it. He apparently doesn't understand what the job of a pastor-teacher really is, and he certainly doesn't understand what the difference between the job of the inspired authors of Scripture and the job of Scripture teachers really is. The article also shows that he doesn't understand how the Scripture applies to pastors as their guide, not only for their content in teaching but also for their method.
The comments that followed that Facebook post included statements by one man supporting Andy Stanley's ability to teach the Bible and describing his sermons as "biblically sound and relevant" as well as "effective at explaining scripture and challenging people to live godly." He also implied that the only real difference between Andy's method of teaching versus expository teaching was one of "style."

Well, as the readers of this blog can imagine, I pretty strongly disagree with such an assessment of Andy's teaching ministry, which I recall having viewed on TV some time back while recovering from a major surgery. Anyway, given the comments of the aforementioned man, I thought it would be good to listen to a few of Andy's more recent sermons and offer my brief assessment of what I heard. As I recall, I chose the first sermon at random and the other two were suggested to me by that man. I listened to the sermons and took notes, which I then posted to the Facebook thread.

After I offered some of my thoughts concerning the sermons, it was suggested to me that I turn them into a post here on the blog. I then asked my blog partner, Jeff Johnson, what he thought of the idea, and he agreed that I should do it. So, what follows is a collection of my comments in the previously mentioned Facebook thread. I will not include all of my comments, and I will leave out any names or comments made by anyone else. However, those involved in that discussion are more than welcome to comment here if they wish. I should also let you know that I have added some explanatory content in brackets, and I have added italics here and there for emphasis as well (something I could not do in the original Facebook posts).

Here are some comments I posted based on the content of the article linked above:
I'll stay away from speaking about the family issues [which had been raised by someone else in the thread], since I really don't know anything about them. As for the matter of preaching, however, I'll just say that Andy and I seem to be pretty far apart, and the divide goes much deeper than the issue of whether or not we should apply the text. For example, he was very pleased that, three years after teaching on the healing of Naaman in 2 Kings 5, a young man could remember his catchy phrase, “To understand why, submit and apply.” I find this very sad indeed! That this young man could have listened to a sermon on that passage and come away with such a trite phrase! What the young man should have said is something like, "I remember when you taught on the grace of God in bringing an undeserving idolater and enemy of His people to salvation, and how He will be merciful to us as well, if we will trust in Him rather than in ourselves." Or perhaps, "I remember when you taught about how people often think God's ways and commands are foolishness because they do not understand the wisdom of God, and how people today think the Gospel is foolishness as well, but we who have trusted in it know that it is the wisdom and power of God unto salvation." There are clear ways in which we can see in the healing and salvation of Naaman a picture of God's grace and mercy in saving sinners, and yet Andy is glad that the young man could remember, "To understand why, submit and apply." I'll bet the young man couldn't even really explain what this phrase meant in any meaningful way, but if that is all that was found in that precious passage, then the most important points to be found there were completely missed. Andy was happy that the young man remembered his catchy phrase rather than the goodness or greatness of God. I say again, Andy just doesn't get it.
Here are some comments I made as I prepared to watch videos of several of Andy's sermons:
... listening again to Andy directly is what I had in mind. As I said before, I have watched some of his messages on TV in the past, and I haven't found him to be a very able exegete ...
I think one thing that must be kept in mind, however, is consistency. Does Andy manage a solid sermon here and there, or does he preach sound sermons week in and week out. I have seen guys in the past who do an excellent job handling Scripture from time to time (usually when they have depended on a solid source for their exposition), but who have no consistency at all.
Another thing that must be kept in mind is that one doesn't disparage expositional teaching the way that Andy has done without revealing a deeper theological and methodological issue. In other words, the issue isn't merely one of style but of the nature and role of Scripture in one's teaching and ministry. For example, does one view Scripture as A source for his teaching, or does he view Scripture as THE source for his teaching? Does he see his job as thinking of things people need to hear and then trying to fit Scripture into his message, or does he see his job first and foremost as faithfully communicating what Scripture really says?
With such crucial questions in mind, I will now post the comments made in reaction to three of Andy's messages that I watched on video. I apologize in advance for the length of these comments, which may make it necessary to come back and read this post a bit at a time or, perhaps, a sermon critique at a time. I guess I let myself get a bit a carried away. Here are some notes I wrote as I listened to Andy Stanley's sermon entitled Nobody's That Stupid:
I must say that I was disturbed by his suggestion that people who don't like the message might want to listen to it again even if they do so just because they want to make fun of it. I guess that is fine if you have just thrown out a bunch of your own ideas, but if you have faithfully presented what God's Word says, then it is tantamount to encouraging people to make fun of what He Himself says (which is a kind of blasphemy). At the very least it doesn't show a deep reverence for the Word of God. 
His opening question – “What do you do when your body wants what your heart knows is wrong?” – is problematic, as ____ has already pointed out. It apparently assumes that your body can want something of itself in isolation from what your heart wants, but this badly misunderstands Scriptural teaching about how the heart is the source of sinful desires. It only gets worse when he suggests examples that make it seem like your body can make you do things your heart doesn't want to do. He also goes on to speak of “living from the outside in versus the inside out” as though how we live – the decisions we make – sometimes originates elsewhere than from within our own hearts. It seems to reveal an underlying kind of quasi-Gnostic dualism.
I can't say that I enjoyed the way he retold the birth narrative of Samson. It was sort of flippant, such as when he described the Nazirite vow and spoke of how silly it seemed to not touch a dead thing and spoke of the whole point of a Nazirite vow as “trying to get God's attention.” Numbers 6 speaks of such a vow as a special consecration of the person to God for a period of time. It is more like an act of worship and a special kind of fast in which one seeks to grow closer to God. But the notion that God would institute it so that a person could “get His attention” is foreign both to the stated intention of the vow and to the kind of God who instituted it in the first place. It isn't about how we can get His attention but how we can more faithfully give Him ours. At any rate, it provides an example of the way Andy just casually says things, seemingly off the top of his head, which distort the Scriptures he cites or to which he alludes.
When Andy described the two ways in which he says that Samson serves as a “microcosm of the entire nation of Israel,” he didn't ground them in the text in any way. Why, then, should we think that his assessment is correct?
Also, there is nothing necessarily wrong with speculating, so long as he made it clear that he was speculating (which he did), that Samson was probably a guy with an average build, but he shouldn't then go on to stress the point later in the sermon as though it is an unavoidable conclusion.
I don't get his description of Samson as “having a border guard job” at all. Where is such an idea in the text? And where does the text indicate that his problem was failing to “stay in his own border”? In fact, the text clearly asserts of Israel that “the LORD delivered them into the hand of the Philistines for forty years” (Judges 13:1) and that Samson would “begin to deliver Israel out of the hand of the Philistines” (13:5). So the text indicates that the Israelites were then under Philistine rule and thus were essentially within Philistine territory at the time (see also 14:4 and 15:11). The text thus does not indicate a problem with Samson's having gone to Timnah but with his having desired a foreign wife that he saw there. This explains why his godly parents were not disturbed by his having gone to Timnah but instead by his desire for a Philistine wife (14:1-3). Yet Andy even presents Samson's parents as having tried to get him to see that he was failing to be a good “border guard” by going “outside the border.” He also repeatedly asserts that Israel was “at war with the Philistines,” although the text indicates that they were not really at war with the Philistines. Indeed, this was part of the problem, since they had actually accepted Philistine rule at the time as the status quo (again see, e.g., 15:11). I am beginning to wonder if Andy has really paid close attention to the text he purports to be summarizing. 
Andy says that Samson is an example here of “living from the outside in rather than the inside out,” as though Samson's desire to marry a Philistine woman really had nothing to do with his heart. Again, such thinking cannot be squared with Scriptural teaching about sin and the human heart. 
I'll skip over the deep discussion that would entail from getting into whether or not we should view Samson's actions at Gaza as an instance of his “using God's power for his own ends” rather than God using Samson for His own ends despite his sinful behavior. I will just observe that it is an important theme and that, if one wishes to make a point about the matter in passing, he could easily have made it about the actual hero of the story rather than about Samson himself. After all, the whole account is really about the way that God graciously worked in the life of Samson, and through him in the lives of the people of Israel, for His own sovereign purposes. In other words, the hero of the story (as in every story in the Bible) is God, not Samson. It is sad to me that most of what Andy says fails even to consider this point. Does he really not get who the Bible is ultimately about?
As Andy approaches the account of Samson and Delilah, he presents the situation as though it was all about how stupid Samson had become due to being “sexually inflamed.” Again, however, this misses the way the text has dealt with Samson throughout and revealed that his real problem wasn't of a sexual nature but was due to a lack of reverence for God and His laws, despite the fact that he had been a Nazirite from birth. After all, Samson did not previously violate his Nazirite vow by eating something unclean – taken from the carcass of a dead lion – and by touching a dead thing (compare Num. 6:6 and Judges 13:4 with Judges 14:8-9) because he was “sexually inflamed.” But, since Andy wants to talk about sex, and about how stupid we can be when we allow our bodies to control us rather than our hearts (as problematic as that point is in and of itself), apparently he feels he has to present the story of Samson as though it is about almost nothing but that. To be sure, Samson did struggle with sexual sin, but this was not the root of the problem, and the text does not present it as the root of the problem. 
The whole section about men needing only “food, sex, and a pat on the head,” together with his description of the nature of women in relation to men and the bad choices they make, had absolutely nothing to do with the text. In fact, despite the fact that it almost made Delilah the center of the story, most of this section had little to do with Scripture at all. This kind of talk just contributes to the sense that Scripture is simply A source for Andy's teaching rather than THE source. Not only has he failed to present the overall account in a way that is faithful to the text, but he hasn't had any problem throwing in various ideas of his own along the way as though they are as important as anything the text itself has to say. He even says to the women, “Oprah has been off of television since, like, 2011, and you've all forgotten everything she taught you for all those years.” Good grief! Then he goes into a whole discussion about women picking better men, a discussion that also had nothing to do with the text he is ostensibly seeking to teach. We get lot's of what he apparently thinks is good advice for women, but none of it has anything to do with teaching Scripture, let alone the text that he is supposed to be teaching, and it probably takes up a good 8-10 minutes of the 43 minutes of the message.
When Andy gets back to the text, he again sometimes speaks so flippantly that it gets to be annoying. For example, he says of Samson's thinking, “It's like, OK, OK, that other stuff, you know I'm so sorry about the fire and everything …,” which is apparently hearkening back to his having set the Philistines' fields on fire, as though it were a light thing or, perhaps worse, something he ought to have been be sorry for when in reality it was not something for which he ought to have been the slightest bit sorry. Little comments like this that are apparently intended to be funny, folksy, and personable really just show a flippant attitude toward the text and a lack of desire to present the text accurately. Where is there any sense of reverence for God and His Word in all this?
When Andy gets to Judges 16:7, he shows that he hasn't really looked at the Hebrew text or even at another solid translation other than the NIV (such as the ESV, NASB, or NKJV), since he misses the fact that Samson says, “If they bind me ….” Such an observation might have led him to ask, “Who does he mean by they?” Of course, Samson probably didn't know that the lords of the Philistines had come in person to enlist Delilah's help against him (vs. 5), but he probably did suspect that – like his former bride – she was working in behalf of the Philistines (see 14:12-18). Thus he lied to her, apparently toying with her and those with whom he must have known that she was working. But even if he didn't suspect her at this point, he certainly knew soon after, so that each of the other times he knew full well that she was working for his enemies. Samson's lies sound so incredible to us that we may have a hard time understanding how either Delilah or her Philistine masters could ever have believed them. But when we remember the pagan culture in which they lived, filled as it was with beliefs about spells and talismans, it isn't so hard to understand how they might think that such procedures could break whatever spell they thought Samson might be utilizing in order to gain such strength. At any rate, if Andy had done even a marginal amount of homework, or payed very close attention to the text at all, he would have been alerted to the fact that there may be more going on here than at first appears. He may have caught on to the fact that Samson wasn't really just being stupid due to being “sexually inflamed” but rather that he was being arrogant and playing with fire by flouting God's commands and by toying with his enemies in this manner. 
Again, Samson certainly had a problem with sexual sin, but it wasn't the root problem, and the text never presents it as though it was the root problem. Samson wasn't stupid at all, even if he was foolish, and there is a difference between the two. He wasn't intellectually challenged or so gullible that he never caught on to what was really going on ... and this due to sexual desire. Rather he acted unwisely and sinfully because he had so taken the presence of the LORD for granted that he had not considered that revealing the secret of his Nazirite consecration might affect his standing before the LORD and thus his experience of the LORD's empowering presence. But we must not think that we are any better than he was, for we are just as capable of betraying our Lord through compromise due to pride and due to taking His grace and strength for granted. And we too may have to suffer the consequences of such betrayal. To be sure, we need not fear that the Lord will depart from us as He departed from Samson, for we have been given the Holy Spirit and assured of His permanent presence as our guarantee (2 Cor. 1:21-22; Eph. 1:13-14). Yet we know that we may grieve the Holy Spirit who dwells within us (Eph. 4:30), and we know that the Lord may discipline us when we sin against Him and fail to trust in Him as we should (see, e.g. 1 Cor. 11:27-32; Heb. 12:3-11). We must also remember that God will forgive even such betrayals when we repent, just as He forgave Samson when He repented, a fact that can be seen in His having answered Samson's final prayer and His having given him the strength to obtain his greatest victory over his enemies in his death (16:28-30). Sadly, however, all of this is missed by Andy, who is so focused on using the passage for his own ends that he cannot see the ends that God may have had in mind or the real lessons that He would have us learn.
I don't know why Andy says that Delilah tied Samson with new ropes after “he gets drunk and passes out,” because the text doesn't say anywhere that he got drunk and passed out. It is just more of Andy playing fast and loose with the text, showing no reverence for the text or any real interest in presenting it accurately. There is thus not the kind of attention to detail that he seems to want to portray to his hearers, the kind of attention to detail that is part and parcel of an interest in the sound exegesis of the text as the basis for one's teaching. Andy has portrayed expositional teaching – and thus the focus on sound exegesis that underlies it – as “easy,” but such basic exegetical skill certainly seems to be too difficult for him. 
Andy again says that Samson was “drunk” when Delilah had his hair cut, but once again the text doesn't say this. We don't know how she got him to sleep so soundly. Maybe she got him drunk, or maybe she drugged him with something. Or maybe God caused him to sleep so deeply as a judgment on him. The text simply doesn't say, so Andy should not have presented his opinion as though it were cut and dried and beyond dispute. In doing so, he continues to subtly undermine the authority of Scripture. This is further exacerbated by the series of “maybes” Andy lists, which turn out not to be just “maybes” but the way he intends to apply the text, as though these “maybes” are really what happened. 
It is really sad that Andy leaves the story with Samson having died in shackles and doesn't get to the point God wanted us to get to, namely to how Samson repented and died trusting in Him, for this is how we see God's victory in Samson's life and our hope of victory as well. In fact, this must be the reason why Samson gets listed in that great “hall of faith” in Hebrews 11 (vs. 32). 
By the time Andy brings in 1 Corinthians 6:19-20, it becomes apparent that his intention never really was to teach what the text actually meant to teach us about God's work in the life of Samson anyway. This no doubt accounts for some of his bad handling of the passages in Judges. What he apparently intended, rather, was to find in Samson a poignant illustration of the theme he really wanted to teach about, namely the importance of sexual self-restraint because our bodies belong to God. Thus he apparently just didn't bother with the kind of solid exegesis of the text of Judges that it warrants. Yet he had introduced the sermon as part of a series in Judges, so I would have expected him to actually try to teach what this portion of Judges was really all about. What ended up happening, though, was that Andy got so interested in one possible area of application of the text that he missed altogether the deeper lessons to be found there, and he ended up distorting the text in the process. Again, for something he claims to be so “easy,” it has certainly proved too difficult for him. 
So, did Andy have some good things to say? Yes, he did. Did Andy faithfully teach the text that he set out to teach. Not really. In fact, he made a bit of a mess of it, and he actually did more eisegesis than exegesis. He was too focused on what he wanted to get across to pay close enough attention to what God actually intended to get across in the text he was supposed to be teaching. In other words, the text was there to serve Andy's purposes, and it was forced into that role. To be sure, Andy had some good intentions in mind for his people, but demonstrating how to rightly handle God's Word and derive from it what God actually intends to say was apparently not among them. Apparently that would have been “cheating.” It would have been too “easy.” In reality, Andy was cheating by failing to do the basic exegetical work he ought to have done, apparently because he didn't think it necessary, or apparently because what he dismisses as “easy” was just too hard for him.
Later I added these further comments on the sermon linked above:
I just thought I would also add that, even though Andy spoke about how stupid you can become when "sexually inflamed" or how bad your decisions are when made "from the outside in" based on "what your body wants," as I think about the message now I don't recall him ever making it clear how such behavior is actually evil because it goes against the will of God. Can you imagine the Apostle Paul, for example, failing to point this out?
I would also add that, as I think about it now in the light of an exchange with another brother earlier today, I am beginning to wonder if Andy isn't actually a bit ashamed of the Bible. I mean, he seems to think that he has to dress it up in order to present it to people, as though it isn't good enough on its own. He seems to treat the Bible like a backward cousin that he doesn't really want to introduce to his high class friends until he dresses him up and teaches him some manners. And this impression only grows as one considers some of the other things Andy goes on to say in the next two sermons. With this in mind, here are some notes I wrote as I listened to Andy Stanley's sermon entitled Unhitched, the introductory sermon to a series entitled “The N Commandments”:
As with my earlier critique of one of Andy's sermons, I apologize in advance for the length ... I assure you, however, that there were even more problems that could have been pointed out.
In his introduction Andy said that, “I love to read blogs by people who have abandoned the Christian faith,” and he added that he has even read a couple of books by such people. I can't imagine why anyone would enjoy reading the words of apostate people who describe why they no longer profess faith in Christ. On what level would this be enjoyable such that a Christian could possibly “love” doing it? Andy went on to say that he always finds reading such things “so fascinating” because he can find find out why people would stop being a Christian, “because following Jesus makes your life better, and because following Jesus makes you better at life. And everybody wants their life to be better, and everybody wants to be better at life, so I don't quite get this.” I find this disturbing in a couple of ways. First, it sounds like something Oprah might say about “The Secret,” rather than something a preacher ought to say about Christianity in a culture that has a very different definition of what makes for a “better life” than what our Lord Jesus would teach. Second, when Andy says something like this, he makes it sound as though choosing whether or not to follow Jesus is like the choice between whether or not to join a country club. It isn't the kind of thing one would say who understands the true nature of sin, of conversion, or of spiritual warfare. It is no doubt a more appealing way to talk to people who don't want to hear hard things, but it doesn't sound like anything Jesus or the Apostles would say, at least not to me. They never spoke of apostates as those who simply made a bad choice and missed out on a “better life.” Frankly, this introduction makes me want to quit listening, because it seems so focused on saying things in a palatable way to people who would rather not hear hard things that I can't imagine anything worthwhile following it. It just reminds me of why I didn't like listening to this guy in the past, but I said I would listen, so I will try to keep going.
Andy goes on to list a couple of reasons given by former Christians who have abandoned the Christian faith. He says the first is that they don't like Christians because they have met some bad ones. He says the second is that they don't like the Bible. His intention is to show that they give straw men reasons for leaving the faith, and there is certainly truth in that, but what he says about the Bible in particular is greatly disturbing to me. For example, he says that “the Bible is another terrible reason to give up on Christianity,” after which he lists some reasons why these apostates (my word, not his) don't like the Bible. He includes such things as the teaching of a six day creation, “sanctioned genocide in the Old Testament,” no historical evidence that the Israelites ever left Egypt, or that “there's this date in the New Testament that doesn't line up with other historical documents.” He then says that these are terrible reasons to leave Christianity. He says “all those things may be true” (apparently referring to the aforementioned problems with the Bible) but the real problem is that Christians have done a terrible job of communicating the foundation of our faith because – taking his words in context – the aforementioned issues aren't even essential to our faith. “The Bible is not the foundation of our faith” anyway, Andy says, rather the resurrection is the foundation of our faith. However, he fails to observe that all we know about the resurrection comes from the Bible in the first place!
In the following discussion he leaves the impression that it doesn't matter if there are actually problems or errors in the Bible anyway. To illustrate his point he says this would be like saying a person doesn't exist because there is an error in his birth certificate. The implication is that it doesn't matter if the Bible similarly has errors, because we don't really believe in God – and, in the context, in Christianity – based on the Bible anyway. He points out that a birth certificate doesn't determine your existence; it simply documents your existence. In the same way, he argues, the New Testament simply documents what happened; it doesn't determine what happened. So if people have problems with the Bible, it is no reason to walk away from Christianity any more than an incorrect birth certificate is a reason to doubt a person's existence.
What a terrible analogy! No wonder Andy treats the Bible so casually and distorts it to suit his purposes so easily. He doesn't seem to view it very highly it the first place. He even appeals to the unbeliever by saying that, “Jesus might have risen from the dead, and if He did, who cares what the Bible says!?” He also repeatedly says or implies that people think Christianity is too fragile when they think it has to be based on what the Bible says or that things in the Bible have to be accurate. To be fair, Andy does say in passing that he personally thinks the Bible “does line up,” but the very fact that he could speak this way about the connection between the Bible and the Christian faith betrays a very different view of the nature of the Bible and Biblical authority than most Christians have held throughout the centuries or than is revealed in the Bible itself. However, I'll resist the temptation to go into a long discussion of these matters – since those of you who read my Facebook threads don't need this anyway – and move on to the rest of Andy's “sermon.”
Andy says that the resurrection happened (I'm glad he still believes this truth!) and then describes different “groups” in the early Church. “One group,” he says, went back into the Old Testament Scriptures and saw how they pointed to Jesus and His resurrection, but “another group” focused on telling others about Jesus, specifically telling the Gentiles. Where on earth does he get the idea that there were two “groups” such as he imagines? Where does he get the idea that those interested in explaining Jesus in light of the Old Testament stayed in Jerusalem and that those who wanted to share Jesus with the Gentiles weren't so concerned about this? Does he think that the Apostles who went to the Gentiles never quoted the Old Testament in explaining Jesus? That they never showed how Jesus fulfilled Old Testament prophecies? Has he never read any of Paul's writings!?
When Andy continues his rather warped summary of the early history of the Church, he goes on to say that the Gentiles had no knowledge of the Old Testament Scriptures and that they didn't care (again, apparently missing the fact that the Apostle Paul, for example, obviously spent a great deal of time teaching them from the Old Testament as well as giving them additional revelation in light of this Old Testament background). He also says that:
[Quote of Andy:]“Not a single Gentile became a Christian because someone showed them a verse and said, 'Here's what the Bible says.' Nobody became a Christian because the Bible says, the Bible says, the Bible says, because there was no New Testament. There was no Christian Bible. There was just the Old Testament that most Gentiles didn't take seriously because that was a Jewish book. But, if you're tellin' me that a guy rose from the dead, and you're tellin' me that we can go to Jerusalem, and you could introduce me to people who saw a living, you know, man who rose from the dead, and he claims to be from God, then I want to know more about that.”
He then says that all the Gentiles had in the first century was the eyewitness accounts. In all of this he is apparently attempting to show why we don't really need the Bible so much after all. But, not only does he badly misrepresent the actual role the Old Testament Scriptures clearly played in the preaching of the Gospel in the first century (just see Paul's explanation of His Gospel teaching to the Romans!), he also misses the fact that the Apostles who oversaw and assured the true teaching of the Gospel in the first century were the very ones who wrote the New Testament so that what they were teaching as God's inspired and infallible teachers would not be lost after they were gone. What we have in the New Testament, then, is essentially what they were teaching from the beginning, before they wrote the New Testament and as they wrote the New Testament. So, as it turns out, we desperately need both the Old and New Testaments as God's inspired testimony for us.
Andy also goes on to present what he says was actually taught in the first century without any mention of confronting the Gentiles with their sins, and he goes on to describe the aforementioned “first group” of Jewish thinkers who remained in Jerusalem as though they were all the same as the Judaizers with whom the early Church had to deal. I don't know where he is getting his take on these things, but he has very little idea what he is talking about.
Wow! After almost 24 minutes of bad attempts at apologetics, along with some bad Church history, during which Andy briefly cited and misused 1 Cor. 15 in his silly attempt to show that there really was no Bible then, he finally gets around to reading Scripture from Acts 15. Maybe I will hear something worth hearing now.
Nope! Andy misrepresents the text as indicating that some of the Pharisees who believed were among "the leaders of the church" in Jerusalem, but the text doesn't actually say that. It says that, “when they had come to Jerusalem, they were received by the church and the apostles and the elders; and they reported all things that God had done with them. But some of the sect of the Pharisees who believed rose up, saying, 'It is necessary to circumcise them, and to command them to keep the law of Moses'” (vss. 4-5). Thus the whole church was gathered together, not just the leaders of the church, as the following context makes clear when it speaks of the Apostles and elders as a separate group from the aforementioned Pharisees (vs. 6). In fact, the context goes on to indicate that the Apostles and elders discussed the matter before the whole church (vs. 12, 22). Andy also speaks in general of the believing Pharisees as those who thought that the Gentiles had to become Jews to be saved, but the text says that it was only “some” of them (vs. 5, recall also vs. 1, which says that “certain men came down from Judea and taught the brethren, 'Unless you are circumcised according to the custom of Moses, you cannot be saved'”). At any rate, this shows the persistent lack of attention to the details of the text on Andy's part.
Andy makes a very big deal of James' statement as rendered in the NIV that “we should not make it difficult for the Gentiles who are turning to God” (vs. 19), and he uses it to justify his church's approach to making it “as easy as possible” for people to come to Christ, over against the criticisms they receive for making it “so easy.” But, of course, what James was talking about has nothing to do with the kinds of things such seeker driven churches are being criticized for doing today. For example, Andy apparently thinks that stressing the truth and inerrancy of Scripture – especially in certain matters that make people uncomfortable these days – makes it too difficult for people to come to Christ, and therefore he treats it as though it just doesn't matter. In fact, the whole first part of the message does this! However, I defy anyone to show me that James would have thought such a thing!
Andy's use of vss. 28-29 is equally troubling, especially since he sets it up by saying that in these verses James is going to tell Gentiles how they should view the law of Moses, whereas the text does not indicate anywhere that he intended so monumental a task in these few words. In fact, the letter was from the church at Jerusalem anyway, not just James. Although I agree with Andy's assessment that the dietary restrictions mentioned in vs. 29 are given due to the needed sensitivity for the Gentiles toward their Jewish brethren, I don't know where he gets the idea that James goes on to make that clear in the context. It is something that is perhaps hinted at in the preceding context, however, and it is made clear in the overall context of the New Testament treatment of the issue.
When Andy explains the command in vs. 29 to abstain from “sexual immorality,” he says that James meant to say that, “I don't want you to sleep with their wives, and I don't want you to let them sleep with your wives.” Really? James and the believers in Jerusalem were just worried about adultery or wife swapping? This is all Andy gets from the command to abstain from "sexual immorality"? Surely he must know that the term is much broader than that! Surely he knows that the Greek word is porneía, which refers to "Fornication, lewdness, or any sexual sin" (Complete Word Study Dictionary, e-Sword), and that it would include, for example, such sexual sin as premarital sex and even homosexuality.
What's worse is that Andy then goes on to say that the letter means to indicate to the Gentiles that we don't really even need the ten commandments any more (and this despite the fact that nine of the ten commandments, excluding the commandment to observe the Sabbath, are cited as applicable to Christians elsewhere in the New Testament). And even worse than that, Andy says that the letter indicates to the Gentiles that:
[Quote of Andy:] “You don't need the Old Testament. You don't need to do all that stuff. OK. It's fascinating [the same way he described the blogs and books of the apostates he "loves" to read]. It's interesting. It tells us about Jesus. You may enjoy the stories, you know the flannel-graphs. It's all exciting. But that is not your approach to God, because you have been saved by grace.”
Oh my! Where does one even begin to respond to such a shallow and distorted assessment regarding the Old Testament!? We don't really need the Old Testament because we have been saved by grace!? As though there is no grace in the Old Testament!? Good grief! This man shows so little apparent concern for the way he speaks of such deep and complicated issues! In his attempt to simplify things, he has actually distorted them to the point where they deny a proper Scriptural understanding of the importance and authority of all of God's Word. At best he is just speaking in a careless and cavalier manner in which no pastor-teacher should ever speak. I am certain, for example, that the Apostle Paul – the Apostle to the Gentiles – who spoke of “all Scripture,” including the Old Testament, as “given by inspiration of God, and is profitable for doctrine, for reproof, for correction, for instruction in righteousness, that the man of God may be complete, thoroughly equipped for every good work” (2 Tim. 3:16-17 NKJ), would never have come close to making such a statement as Andy has made here!
I think Andy's whole point, especially as he has so badly argued for it, that Christianity is “unhitched from ancient Judaism,” is wrong. A better -- and more Biblical -- way of stating it would be to say that Christianity is “the fulfillment of ancient Judaism and the promises contained within it.” Such an approach would also lead to a much more Biblically nuanced way of speaking about the relationship of the New Testament to the Old Testament and of Christians to the Old Testament. But Andy doesn't appear to understand such things very well -- if at all -- and he badly misrepresents the issues. Perhaps the saddest part of it is that there are so many unknowledgeable people listening to him who will come away thinking that their problems with the Bible are just fine since we don't really need the Bible that much anyway.
Andy then tries to get us to put ourselves back into the shoes of the Christians in the first century who, he says, didn't need the Old Testament and didn't have the New Testament, but only had the Gospel and Jesus' commands shared by the Apostles. It doesn't seem to dawn on him that what we have in the New Testament is what the Apostles had actually been teaching from the beginning! I am truthfully left wondering how this man was ever deemed qualified by anyone to be a pastor, given his complete misunderstanding of such basic issues!
As I said above, this is actually an introductory sermon to a series entitled “The N Commandments.” Needless to say, perhaps, I have no intention of listening to the rest of the series, since I could barely stand to listen even to the first one. When I can find time, however, I will listen at least to the second sermon linked by ____, since I said I would. I would not recommend that anyone else listen to anything by Andy though. He doesn't understand the Bible very well, and he is a lousy exegete, to put it mildly.
And here I would also ask the question, "Is Andy Stanley Ashamed of the Bible?" He certainly seems to be at some level, since he is trying to excuse it away and make it more acceptable to people who think it has errors and who feel that it says things that they simply cannot accept. Andy's response is simply to assure them that the Bible they find so unappealing doesn't really matter so much anyway. At any rate, later in the Facebook thread I added these these further comments on the sermon linked above:
So far, I have found no reason not to agree with the assessment of the article at the beginning of this thread. In fact, not only is Andy Stanley's teaching every bit as bad as I remembered it, it is even worse! I honestly cannot understand how anyone who has been well grounded in the faith at all could possibly sit under his teaching or listen to it on a regular basis. It is so full of distortions that it is both heartbreaking and infuriating to sit through.
Here are some notes I wrote as I listened to Andy Stanley's Easter 2015 sermon entitled Unbelievably Believable (as it turns out, this message is actually the one preceding the previous sermon I critiqued, which was entitled “Unhitched”):
As Andy begins to introduce the theme of the sermon, he gets off on the wrong foot immediately when he speaks of how many of us "miss the extraordinary complexity, the details and, in some cases, even the inconsistency of the Easter story.” Really? The “Easter story” is “inconsistent”? I'm already beginning to be annoyed given what I've heard from Andy in the sermon that followed this one.
Well, I am not surprised to see that the very first point Andy wants his visitors to understand is that his church “does not believe that Jesus rose from the dead because the Bible tells us so. It is much, much, much better than that.” As I saw in the “Unhitched” sermon, Andy wants to distance belief in Jesus' resurrection – and therefore in Jesus Himself as God and Savior – from belief in the authority and reliability of the Bible. Apparently he had already embarked on this agenda the preceding week (if not earlier). Andy goes on to make the point that:
[Quote of Andy:] “... the Jesus loves me because the Bible tells me so, that's an extraordinary version of Jesus if you are a child. It is not an extraordinary version of Jesus if you are an adult. And the great news, the great news is this: There is an adult version of Jesus that has the potential to change your life, but you've gotta let go of what you left off with at childhood. And that's why I say, we don't believe Jesus rose from the dead simply [at least he has the word 'simply' here this time] because the Bible tells us so. And let me tell you why we believe Jesus literally, physically rose from the dead. We believe the Easter narrative because Matthew, who was an eyewitness, saw it and wrote about it, and he believed. Mark, who got his information probably from Peter; he believed it. Luke, who begins his Gospel with 'I thoroughly explai... explored and navigated through what I was told by other people and wrote an account'; he believed it. John, who was an eyewitness, believed it. James, who was the brother of Jesus, believed his brother was the Son of God and rose from the dead ….”
Andy then goes on to add the Apostle Paul, who had formerly tried to destroy the church, to the list. But, of course, I am wondering how Andy knows that all these men believed that Jesus rose from the dead. Could it be because the Bible tells him so!? Could it be that the Holy Spirit used the Bible in order to create faith in Andy in the resurrection of Jesus? Absolutely this is why he really believes – if indeed he really believes as he says he does. Why, then, does he want to try to hang on to this belief while distancing it from the Bible? Well, as the sermon the following week demonstrates, it is because he knows that people have “problems” with the Bible, and Andy wants to make it “easier” for them to believe, so he wants to get rid of what he thinks is the childish notion that our faith is so inextricably linked to the Bible as the Bible itself indicates that it really is. (Recall my previous critique of the “Unhitched” sermon in this thread.)
Andy goes on to talk about how these men wrote down their beliefs, and we ended up with the New Testament, which was then added to the Old Testament in order to give us our Bible. But Andy is quick to say in the very next breath:
[Quote of Andy:] “But we don't believe Jesus rose from the dead because the Bible tells us so. That's Sunday school. We believe Jesus rose from the dead because eyewitnesses and people who knew the eyewitnesses tell us so, told us so, wrote about it, and in most cases gave their life – not because of what they believed; that happens all the time – they gave their lives for what they believed they saw, a resurrected Savior.”
I find this really confused and incoherent, to say the least. Andy wants to say that we believe that Jesus rose from the dead based on the eyewitness testimony of the Apostles, but he does not want to say that we believe in the resurrection of Jesus based on the Bible. Yet the Bible is their eyewitness testimony which has been inspired for our benefit by the Holy Spirit. Thus, at best Andy is hopelessly confused, but at worst he is giving the impression that we can somehow believe the eyewitness testimony of the Apostles without having to believe so much in the Bible that they wrote. How on earth did this guy ever get ordained to preach the Gospel!?
At any rate, after this lengthy, muddled, nonsensical introduction, Andy says that he wants to tell us “the Easter story.” I can hardly wait (and, yes, I am being sarcastic).
Good grief. He has John the Baptist saying he isn't worthy to tie the “tennis shoes” of the Messiah. Does he really think people are so daft that they don't know what sandals are? Is he really trying so hard to make the account seem so "relevant" today that he has to say something that stupid? With that, I'll skip over the other oddities in the way he restates the basic history of Jesus' ministry. I'm just getting tired of it.
I don't know where Andy gets the idea when speaking of John 11:48 that the Jews were worried that, if they didn't kill Jesus, the Romans “may side with Jesus of Nazareth” against them. Where is this notion to be found in the text? What would lead anyone to think this? It is just one more way in which Andy seems to like saying novel sounding things that have no clear basis in the text at all. Maybe he thinks it makes him sound smarter or more perceptive. Who knows why he so consistently does this, except that he doesn't seem all that concerned with accurately handling the Scriptures anyway.
Not surprisingly, Andy holds that the Gospels were written no earlier than 30-40 years after the events they recorded, but that is something many scholars agree to disagree about, even within more conservative circles.
Andy actually makes a couple of good points about why we can trust the Gospel accounts as eyewitness testimony, and I am very glad to hear it, even if he has already spent so much time trying to disconnect these accounts from “the Bible.” But I can't imagine why Andy would say, “If you're from a Roman Catholic background, you understand way better than us Protestants do the importance of Peter.” Really? Just what do they teach about the importance of Peter that we have missed and need to know? That he was the first pope, perhaps? Well, Andy goes on to talk about how, if you're a Roman Catholic, you believe that the pope is connected to Peter somehow, and he doesn't present this in a negative light at all. He says it as if it is no big deal. So he's at it again! He just loves to say things that sound complimentary to various people in his audience, apparently with little or no concern about how wrong -- or even how heretical -- such things may be. So, even when Andy starts to get onto something good, he has already undercut the force of it at the beginning, and then he goes on to say yet another silly, pandering, unbiblical thing. This is just what happens when a guy is so focused on saying the kinds of things he thinks his hearers want to hear that he isn't being driven by faithfulness to Scripture in the end. This has been a common problem in the sermons I've heard from him thus far.
Andy spends some time talking about how the Gospels are written as unvarnished history that doesn't try to give any spin and that can therefore be trusted. He has some good things to say here, but one wonders why he is going to all the trouble if our faith in the resurrection isn't really based so firmly on the Bible anyway, as he tried to argue at the beginning of the message. Again, the overall sermon has been very confused and muddled in this regard.
Where does Andy get the idea that Joseph of Arimathea paid Pilate for the body of Jesus? Where is this in any of the Gospel accounts? I suppose I could have missed it, but I went back and looked and didn't see it in any of the four Gospels. So, again, why does he seem to think he needs to throw in such details from his own imagination? Why isn't a straightforward presentation of the Bible sufficient for him. It again appears that it is because the Bible itself is insufficient for him. He simply doesn't treat the Bible as though it is the very Word of God. It is A source for him, not THE source.
Andy also presents Nicodemus as though he was simply an unbelieving Pharisee and does not take into account the indications in John's Gospel that he might have been a believer at this time, as was Joseph of Arimathea. I guess this would require having spent some time reading and studying the Gospel and being concerned about presenting the overall teaching of it accurately, but, again, this never really seems to be a primary concern for a man who doesn't think our faith is based primarily on what the Bible says anyway. I hope the readers of my critiques of his sermons up to this point have picked up on this trend.
With that, I'm done. I can't bring myself to listen to any more of this man's preaching. I can't even bring myself to listen to the rest of this sermon. I think I have responded to enough of his preaching up to this point in this thread, however, to demonstrate that the article linked at the beginning was correct in its basic assessment of Andy Stanley's teaching. And I hope you can all see that the differences between Andy and those who are committed to expository Bible teaching go way deeper than simply a matter of “style.” They are rooted in a different view of Scripture. As I said in an earlier post in this thread, one doesn't disparage expositional teaching the way that Andy has done without revealing a deeper theological and methodological issue. Andy clearly doesn't understand how the Scriptures apply to pastors as their guide, not only for their content in teaching but also for their method.
I really do hope these brief critiques of Andy Stanley's teaching have been helpful to the blog's readers in highlighting not only the problems with his teaching but also of the many others who teach the same way. I also hope you can all see more clearly that the differences between men like Andy Stanley and those who advocate expository Bible teaching go much deeper than a mere matter of style. They are rooted, rather, in a different view of the authority and role of Scripture in one's teaching ministry. And, frankly, I am left wondering, is Andy Stanley actually ashamed of the Bible? As always, your responses are welcome.