It has been more than four months since suburban Atlanta mega-pastor Andy Stanley advised his mega-flock to “unhitch” from the Old Testament with some brazenly false accusations that Jesus’ closest followers did just that in the Book of Acts.
Since then, Stanley has explained, dodged, obfuscated and moved on. But he has not apologized, repented or backed down.
He’s still a powerful and influential mega-church pastor despite having dissed three-quarters of the Bible and distorted key teachings of the fourth quarter.
Not only that, he also defied and broke the following three biblical commandments – found, incidentally, in both the Old Testament and New:
- Deuteronomy 4:2: “Ye shall not add unto the word which I command you, neither shall ye diminish ought from it, that ye may keep the commandments of the Lord your God which I command you.”
- Deuteronomy 12:32: “What thing soever I command you, observe to do it: thou shalt not add thereto, nor diminish from it.”
- Revelation 22:18: “For I testify unto every man that heareth the words of the prophecy of this book, If any man shall add unto these things, God shall add unto him the plagues that are written in this book:”
Let’s review what Stanley said in his shockingly supersessionist and, frankly, disturbingly anti-Semitic rant:
- “(First Century) Church leaders unhitched the church from the worldview, value system, and regulations of the Jewish scriptures. Peter, James, Paul elected to unhitch the Christian faith from their Jewish scriptures, and my friends, we must as well.”
- “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. The Bible did not create Christianity. The resurrection of Jesus created and launched Christianity. 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.”
- “When the Church launched, the foundation of the faith of the early Christians was not a book (they didn’t have one), it wasn’t the Bible (there wasn’t one), and it wasn’t the Old Testament – what they called the Law and the Prophets – because that didn’t tell the story of Jesus. The foundation of the early church was an event – the resurrection.”
- “If you were raised on a version of Christianity that relied on the Bible as the foundation of faith, a version that was eventually dismantled by academia or the realities of life, maybe it’s time for you to change your mind about Jesus. Maybe it’s time for you to consider the version of Christianity that relies on the event of the resurrection of Jesus as its foundation. If you gave up your faith because of something about or in the Bible, maybe you gave up unnecessarily.” His message for them is simple: “Start with Jesus! He came to introduce something totally new.”
- “What Jesus meant when He said He had not come to destroy the law but to fulfill it (Matthew 5:17) was that He came to “replace it.” He insists Jesus’ words should be interpreted: “I am in fact replacing. I’m not going to change what you’ve always been taught. I’m going to challenge you to abandon what you have been taught.”
- “The Law and the Prophets, the old covenant, had an expiration date.”
- The Gospel of Jesus “is completely detached … from everything that came before. … God has done something through the Jews for the world. But the ‘through the Jews’ part of the story is over, and now something new and better and inclusive has come.”
- “God’s arrangement with Israel should now be eliminated from the equation.”
I’ve previously refuted every one of these statements, and I’m not going to repeat myself here. Instead, let’s begin the story of the Hebrew Scriptures where I begin in my newest upcoming release, “The Gospel in Every Book of the Old Testament” — in the New Testament story of the resurrected Jesus on the road to Emmaus in the Gospel of Luke, chapter 24:13-32.
The risen Jesus meets two of His followers on the way from Jerusalem to Emmaus. The two don’t recognize Jesus, but they are deeply confused and disturbed by the recent events of the crucifixion and reports that witnesses found Jesus’ tomb empty. Jesus responds: “O fools, and slow of heart to believe all that the prophets have spoken: Ought not Christ to have suffered these things, and to enter into his glory? And beginning at Moses and all the prophets, he expounded unto them in all the scriptures the things concerning himself.” He supped with them and continued His walk through the Scriptures, revealing all they said about Him. After He disappeared, they said: “Did not our heart burn within us, while he talked with us by the way, and while he opened to us the scriptures?” What Scriptures did Jesus teach from? The only Scriptures that existed at that time – the Old Testament Hebrew Scriptures, those that Andy Stanley finds seemingly repugnant, irrelevant and outdated.
If Stanley wants to focus exclusively or even mainly on the resurrection in building faith among his flock, what better place to begin than the road to Emmaus. Maybe he has. But how can one ignore what the text of this Gospel passage has to tell us? You can’t detach the Old Testament from the New, for the resurrection is prophesied in the Old. It is foreshadowed in Genesis in the near-sacrifice of Isaac by Abraham. And what did Jesus Himself say in Luke 16:31? “If they hear not Moses and the prophets, neither will they be persuaded, though one rose from the dead.”
Does Andy Stanley know better than Jesus?
Or has he also detached himself from the very words of the resurrected Messiah?