As some of you may have heard, Andy Stanley has been under a bit of criticism lately from some regarding a sermon he preached. In the sermon he talked about how the Old Testament is not entirely in place any more, and some had taken the comments to be saying that the Old Testament has no value for us today. Since we use Andy Stanley’s sermons and lessons in Men of Fire, I thought it might not be a bad idea to offer some knowledge on this subject, and while we can still feel good about using his materials.
A Little History
My first time in reading about Andy Stanley being under a little bit of criticism was when I read a First Things (A prominent journal) article a couple months ago. The article did give some good history on the use of the Old Testament throughout the life of the church. But, it’s criticisms of Andy were a bit much. The article can be found here.
Back in the second century, a man by the name of Marcion rejected all of the Old Testament and most of the Gospel’s for Luke’s Gospel and Paul’s letters. The Churches got together and unanimously agreed that Marcion was incorrect. It also was a good impetus for churches to clarify their own position that the Old Testament was inspired Scripture and which books each of the churches really knew to be Inspired in the New Testament.
Today there are some in the wider Christian world that sound a bit like Marcion from time to time. Even though they believe the whole Bible is inspired, they place Paul’s letters in a sort of pristine place of use over the rest of the books. These Christians are Dispensationalists. At Living Water (as well as true blue historical biblical Christianity) are not Dispensationalist.
Critics have gone a bit far…
I do think the critiques have gone a bit far on this. I myself have a much more integrated view of Old and New Testaments, than does Andy. But, I think his comments in the Relevant Magazine article do a good job of explaining that the complaint many have had regarding Andy’s small comment, were part of a much larger sermon series. The point is that many have misjudged the sermon. I myself don’t like people lifting comments quickly from my sermons, but rather like them being taken as a whole. The link to Andy’s interview with Relevant is here…and I encourage you to read through it to see his perspective. https://relevantmagazine.com/god/andy-stanley-thinks-sermon-critics-curious/
A little more theology
Andy seems to be in line with plenty of thinkers in evangelical and charismatic contexts, who have a much stronger sense of separation between the two testaments than integration. Martin Luther himself has some similarities to these thinkers. Moreover, there has been some debate on how to think through ‘what is still in place in the Old Testament and what is not’ for most of the last 2000 years. The major views to be rejected are anything that denies the Old Testament being Inspired Scripture, or anything that denies it is still useful to us today. Andy affirms a very high view of inspiration, infallibility, and usefulness, so it seems critics are clearly missing the point.
Most Christians agree that some things were fulfilled in Jesus. For instance, we no longer practice sacrifices, circumcision, Israelite priests, etc. Thus, even though the force of the Old Testament is always in place, there were some aspects that were fulfilled when Jesus came and died on the cross.
What about Andy?
Andy is no Marcion follower…so the critics have gone too far. As I already said, I have a more integrated view of the Old Testament and New Testament than does Andy, but his own approach is not “out there.” Millions of evangelicals hold his view.
Why we can stick with Andy?
We can stick with Andy for several reasons. 1) He is not a Marcionite. 2) His approach really speaks to people who are outside the church and works as a great outreach. 3) Even if we would ever disagree with something he says, we can wear our ‘big boy pants’ and have a great theological conversation about it. In a situation like this, I prefer ‘learning’ over ‘sanctioning’ where appropriate. And, right now we have nothing to sanction…but if we ever did, we could use it to talk about where we are different and distinct.