Andy Stanley on Why He Quit Saying 'The Bible Says' While Still Loving the Bible

North Point Community Church founder and lead pastor Andy Stanley giving remarks at Willow Creek Community Church's Global Leadership Summit on Thursday, August 10, 2017.
North Point Community Church founder and lead pastor Andy Stanley giving remarks at Willow Creek Community Church's Global Leadership Summit on Thursday, August 10, 2017. | (Photo: Willow Creek Association)

North Point Community Church Senior Pastor Andy Stanley recently explained to popular radio host and Messianic Jewish author Michael Brown why he's quit using the term "the Bible says."

In an episode of Brown's podcast "Line of Fire" that aired Monday afternoon, Stanley explained why, although he considers the Good Book inerrant, the term "the Bible says" doesn't work with those he's trying to evangelize.

"Once upon a time that was very effective in our country. Those days are long gone. But unfortunately, church leaders still want to leverage 'the Bible says,' which is great for people who take the Bible seriously," said Stanley.

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"It's not my audience. ... I'm trying to recapture the imagination of people, adults and students who've left because of what else is in the Bible or because everyone is one click away from information or misinformation about the Bible."

Stanley described Christianity as "an event-based faith," telling Brown that he believes if people come to accept Jesus' Resurrection, "their confidence in the Old Testament and their interest, most importantly, in the Old Testament flourishes."

"And this is exactly what happened historically," Stanley continued. "When did Gentiles suddenly get excited about the Old Testament? After they fell in love with a Jew."

Stanley requested the interview with Brown to respond to concerns about a sermon he preached earlier this year in which he said that Christians should "unhitch" themselves from the Old Testament.

"Peter, James, Paul elected to unhitch the Christian faith from their Jewish scriptures, and my friends, we must as well," declared Stanley in his message in late April.

The third and final part of a sermon series titled "Aftermath," Stanley preached on Acts 15, in which early church leaders agreed to allow non-Jews to become Christian.

Stanley argued that the early church showed that there was a need to move past the Old Testament for the sake of gentile believers and that the resurrection of Jesus was enough.

"Jesus' new covenant, His covenant with the nations, His covenant with you, His covenant with us, can stand on its own two nail-scarred resurrection feet. It does not need propping up by the Jewish scriptures," said Stanley.

"Your whole house of Old Testament cards can come tumbling down. The question is did Jesus rise from the dead? And the eyewitnesses said He did."

For his part, Brown had authored an opinion column published in May by The Christian Post that urged Stanley to disavow his "unhitched" comments.

"A pastor as influential as Andy Stanley needs to distance himself from such heresies, making a public, clear, and unequivocal correction that undoes the confusion he has caused. (He knows that I write this a friend, out to help, not to hurt.)," wrote Brown.

"He can preach against legalism and against Judaizing, exalting the grace of God and celebrating the newness of the New Covenant, without undermining the very foundations on which that New Covenant is established."

On Brown's podcast, Stanley explained that critics needed to understand the context, especially since his remarks were more for an audience that is turned off by biblical arguments.

"I told my kids growing up, if anyone ever asks you 'do you believe Adam and Eve are real people?' here is how you are to answer: do not say 'yes because the Bible says Adam and Eve were real people,'" commented Stanley.

"You say this: 'I believe Adam and Eve were historical characters because Jesus did. And when somebody predicts their own death and resurrection and pulls it off, I go with whatever they say.'"

In response to Stanley, Brown drew a parallel to a video he made on the question of "Can You be Gay and Christian?" noting that he used different apologetic methods for different critics. 

"I'm trying to give the biblical evidence to those that accept the scriptures," noted Brown. "But the level of criticism and attack coming in about 'our Bronze Age God, our Bronze Age faith' ... obviously, if I'm trying to reach those people, I'm going to approach it from a little different angle." 

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