Andy Stanley: Please Relent or Step Down from Pastoral Ministry

Andy Stanley: Please Relent or Step Down from Pastoral Ministry December 26, 2016

If anyone has not heard by this point, Andy Stanley, being infamous for making some foolish statements about the nature of the church and the scriptures, has done it yet again. Yet the interesting thing here for those paying close attention, is that the recent debacle over him making the claim that Christianity doesn’t hinge off of the biblical account of the virgin birth of Jesus Christ, is really just the outworking of his previous statements. Incidentally, it also mirrors the decent into liberalism and unbelief – more clearly, it is the preamble to that notable thundering of ol’ Harry Emerson Fosdick who asked, “Shall the Fundamentalists win?”

fosdick-pictureFosdick stood on the mount of liberals, decrying the virgin birth, making exceptions to the inerrancy of the scriptures, and eventually came to deny the literal resurrection of Christ. His reason: fundamentalists were intolerant for making claims that such things could not be denied while one remains a Christian. Ultimately, he divided the secular and the sacred in expressing that science, reason, and modernism could not be harmonious with such historic doctrines. I’ll concede on the point that modernism and Christianity are not compatible; interestingly, one of these things has already faded away.


Andy Stanley, after making statements of clarity on his kerfuffle over inerrancy, made remarks affirming that he believes everything in the Bible to be inerrant, but not sufficient in the scope of evangelism. He commented that appealing to the Scriptures directly is not effective, instead of reconciling with and submitting himself to the Scripture’s account on the matter.

He then suggested to those questioning his methodology that, “Your preaching and teaching model is just that – a model. It may be time to break up.” Mr. Stanley, might I also suggest it may be time to break up, either from your methodology in refusing to take notes into the pulpit with you so that you don’t make statements that logically lead one to heresy (and then trying to save face later in writing), or from pulpit ministry altogether? This is not a game. Pastoral ministry is one of the highest callings one can have – and for that reason it will bring swift and fierce judgement (James 3:1). For one making his living off of speaking, they ought to take heed the fact that every careless word shall be judged (Matt. 12:36). Of all people, preachers ought to be the most careful in how they speak and guard the content thereof.

Joel Osteen even recognizes that words have power, though he inevitably twists this as he does with every poisonous thing that spews forth from his mouth. Mr. Stanley – the words you issue from the pulpit, as one who is called to teach the full counsel of God, are downright dangerous and capable of destroying the souls of those whom are in your care. There is a reason why Paul wrote to young Timothy, “Pay close attention to yourself and your teaching; persevere in these things, for as you do this you will ensure the salvation both for yourself and those who hear you” (1 Tim. 4:16).

First, you are not beyond the pale of historical orthodoxy, where there are a plethora of writings from the Church Fathers, the Medieval theologians, and theologians from the Reformation period and onward, which give precise reasons why the virgin birth is a non-negotiable doctrine. Start with Anselm’s Why the God-Man? It is one of the more easy to read works – but it is also incredibly profound in explaining why the virgin birth was necessary and you can get it for free. We don’t have the liberty, no matter how large our Sunday services are, to follow the course of enlightenment ideals which throw off the shackles of God by denying the miraculous.

Secondly, it truthfully doesn’t matter if the virgin birth is not accounted for in all of the Synoptic Gospels and the Gospel of John. If something is stated even once in scripture – that is sufficient for you to expound upon, as it is inspired by God and profitable for teaching, reproof, correction, training in righteousness; so that the man of God may be adequate, equipped for every good work (2 Timothy 3:16-17). Of all men, preachers are to be the ones who lead people to see this. If we don’t, we only contribute toward that apathy and biblical illiteracy that is so prevalent in the American Church today. Yet they also are culpable for leading them to accept heresy. Denial of the virgin birth logically leads one to heresy.

It doesn’t matter if the goats think it palatable – you are called to feed His sheep. If you love Him, you will feed His sheep (John 21:15-17). You will lead them to drink deeply in the brook and cherish the Scriptures – for these things that are revealed belong to us and our children forever for our instruction, so that through perseverance and the encouragement of the Scriptures we might have hope (Deut. 29:29; Rom. 15:4). Notice that in all of these things, it is the power of the scriptures that accomplishes the work of God. It isn’t up to you, Mr. Stanley, or any other man to make sure the Word of the Lord doesn’t return void and be without accomplishing what God has intended (Isaiah 55:11). Isn’t that incredibly freeing? All you have to do is be faithful to what you’re called. Live out the measures stated in the Pastoral Epistles for leaders in the church.

The thing that seems to be lost in this whole discussion is that in you saying, “’The Bible says so’ is not enough anymore,” you are in turn asking many to say, “Jesus loves me, this I know, for Andy Stanley tells me so.” No under-shepherd gets to make such claims, even by loose or unintended implication. They are, at best, those who say, “Thus says the Lord.” Anything beyond that is speculation and it deserves no place in the pulpit, as pastors are specifically intended to call those in the flock to faithfulness to the text in all their ways.

So I’m going to just ask as one appealing to you in the Lord: repent of statements like this, which truly do reflect the heart of neo-liberalism, and come back to the text. That is the task of the preacher. None of this is predicated on how others might feel; again, it is bound within the Scriptures as the authoritative revelation of the Lord. God Himself calls you to this standard. If you can’t lead others away from heresy condemned long ago – step down. Is it not better to be free from the judgment of God? You are certainly not doing any favors with your influence to the small-town pastor of little notoriety who is seeking to be faithful to the text and lead his flock in a proper manner. Instead, you are propagating teaching that is a nuisance, which is yet another form of falsehood needing to be driven out because of the shallow, careless, yet in the end – dangerous, theology being streamed to the masses.

Mr. Stanley, please prove yourself to be a workman approved by God. If you can’t, please, for the health of the church: step down.

The Law of the Lord is perfect, restoring the soul; the testimony of the Lord is sure, making wise the simple. The precepts of the Lord are right, rejoicing the heart; the commandment of the Lord is pure, enlightening the eyes. The fear of the Lord is clean, enduring forever; the judgments of the Lord are true; they are righteous altogether.

They are more desirable than gold, yes, than much fine gold; sweeter also than honey and the drippings of the honeycomb. Moreover, by them your servant is warned; in keeping them there is great reward. Who can discern his errors? Acquit me of my hidden faults. Also keep back Your servant from presumptuous sins; let them not rule over me; then I will be blameless, and I shall be acquitted of great transgression. Let the words of my mouth and the meditation of my heart be pleasing in your sight, O Lord, my Rock and my Redeemer” (Psalm 19:7-8).


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  • Bravo Sierra

    Re: “So I’m going to just ask as one appealing to you in the Lord: repent of statements like this, which truly do reflect the heart of neo-liberalism and come back to the text.”

    Isn’t “neoliberalism” an economic/political philosophy?

    • Gilsongraybert

      Primarily, yes – but it can be used broadly to refer to the same time period in academic disciplines of all sorts (I believe that started in the late 70’s to be used of various social sciences and similar disciplines).

      • Bravo Sierra

        I know you didn’t ask for this criticism, but you may want to consider defining your terms, unless your aim is to communicate only with your club of insiders.

        • Gilsongraybert

          No, no, constructive criticism is always welcome! I desire clarity in writing and this kind of stuff never bothers me even a bit. Thank you!

          • dvjm

            Then perhaps I might also make a suggestion that, or at least inquire if, a missing comma changes the meaning of this sentence:. “So I’m going to just ask as one appealing to you in the Lord: repent of statements like this, which truly do reflect the heart of neo-liberalism and come back to the text.”. 🙂

          • Gilsongraybert

            Grumble, grumble. Yeah, it does. Thanks lol! I don’t have one of them fancy editors or some other generic excuse you find validating.

          • Dvjm

            It is a common comma error.

          • Gilsongraybert

            Yeah, I shook my head when you pointed it out. Good catch, and thanks again.

          • Ray Smith

            I suggest that you revoke the entire article as it is based on a false premise. Andy’s conclusion at the end of the series is that the Virgin Birth is important.

          • Gilsongraybert

            He plainly said what he did without any qualification within that sermon and his further clarification is not some grand reversal. Andy Stanley has habitually made pastorally unwise decisions where not only is a lack of clarity abundant, but precisely backing the points I’ve made here. At best – clarifying this in two further sermons, is misleading. But simply because one holds to it himself, yet still sets the bar as low as possible for unbelievers, does not make his approach correct or any less dangerous. He is still incorrect in his assertion that the Virgin Birth is not critical to the story of the Messiah (like he reaffirms in the other part of the series). It absolutely is – especially if we know our Old Testament. This is precisely what I am speaking to and a statement like that is wrong and still logically leads one to heresy. Beyond that you still have all his issues with inerrancy. I mean, you’re acting as if he has been blameless in what he has propagated and as if I’m just making things up on the spot. The truth is that I’ve been following this kind of stuff from him for some time now and stayed relatively silent. I don’t have a desire to make hit pieces on Christians; this is a genuine issue that deserves more than a “you ought to try and be more clear each time you get behind the pulpit.”

          • Jim Bohrer

            Yup. I sense Andy is sliding in his attempt to reach more people, he is willing to appeal to ignorance. Jesus in John 4:22-24 condemned ignorant worship in all times and all places. While pastors are fallible and a slip of the tongue on one occasion where there has been faithful exposition should be shown grace, Stanley has promised to continue in the same approach where he encourages ignorant belief rather than investigation of clearly proclaimed truth.

  • Scotty Ragtop

    Fosdick was on the wrong side of history. Yes, the fundamentalists WILL win, for the simple reason that progressive “Christianity” does not attract people, as proven by the numbers. It’s true that the core doctrine of the New Testament is the resurrection of Christ, but why on earth would anyone who believes in the resurrection NOT believe in other miracles? To borrow a line from The Lion in Winter, in a world where carpenters get resurrected, anything is possible. The church as a Sunday morning gathering of Nice People Who Share the Same Progressive Sentiments is on its way to extinction. The church of the New Testament – complete with real miracles and real salvation – will last till the end of time.

    • Giauz Ragnarock

      “It’s true that the core doctrine of the New Testament is the resurrection of Christ, but why on earth would anyone who believes in the resurrection NOT believe in other miracles?”

      This seems like unintended self-deprecating humor.

      • LastManOnEarth

        In for a penny….

      • Scotty Ragtop

        Whatever you say, miss.

        • Giauz Ragnarock

          So when people say many Christians are mysogynists…?

          • Scotty Ragtop

            The word is “misogynists.” Learn to spell.

            Using the term “miss” is not misogynistic. Learn to think.

            That’s 2 great New Year’s resolutions for you. Learn to spell. Learn to think.

          • Giauz Ragnarock

            “The word is “misogynists.” Learn to spell.”

            Dumby fingers on a smart phone, but thank you.

            “Using the term “miss” is not misogynistic.”

            Oh, sorry. I’m a Mister at any rate.

          • Chris Dagostino

            Those people have an uncanny tendency to equate any degree of criticism of any woman as misogyny.

          • Giauz Ragnarock

            If it is criticism of a person, that can get pointed out as it would be the same criticism no matter the individual. I initially took the “miss” at the end as a relatively common slur equating irrationality, low intelligence, physical weakness, disgust, etc somehow with the gender people acted those ways toward for centuries. I think I was unfair to their comment.

      • Kevin Ledgister

        Andy believes in the Virgin birth and it’s theological implications are foundational to the identity of Christ and its efficacy for salvation. The point that Andy makes, and one that early Christianity understood, is that it is not foundational for a relationship with Christ. Many people who come to Christ struggle with many questions about God and Christianity. Rather than wait for all these questions to be resolved, Jesus invites us into a relationship with Him and through that, we learn, we discover and gain understanding.

        Asking “seekers” to swallow every core theological tenet of Christianity before they can receive Christ is putting the cart before the horse and putting undue burdens on the gospel. As one commenter noted, the early Church went around spreading the good news of the resurrection of Christ to prove that he is both man and God in one. Once you believe that, it’s easier to accept the miraculous virgin birth, the flood and other miracles in the Bible.

        • Giauz Ragnarock

          “Once you believe that, it’s easier to accept”

          You do realize this argues against the plausability of Christianity? You’re making the claims of Christianity dependent on how much you can get people to buy into it, just as someone else was looking to get you to do the same when you were but a mark. I have yet to become aware of anything “supernatural” that agrees with such sleazy aims, otherwise your quote makes little sense.

    • Yeah, the side that attracts the most people is always right…

    • Ray Smith

      I see you haven’t listened to the sermon series either. I suggest you listen to the full sermon series. The conclusion Andy comes to at the end is that the Virgin Birth is very important.

    • Brad Feaker

      It’s true that the core doctrine of the New Testament is the resurrection of Christ, but why on earth would anyone who believes in the resurrection NOT believe in other miracles?

      Perhaps because there is no empirical evidence for any supernatural miracle, including the resurrection? Have you noticed the severe shortage in miracles now that we have such things as modern medicine, video cameras and information instantly available via the Internet?

      For a fundamentalist with a literal interpretation of the Bible – they should worry more about the lack of a literal Adam and Eve, since it has been proven via population genetics that the human species has never numbered less than 2500 members (other newer studies place the number as high as 10,000).

      If there is no Adam and Eve there is no fall. If there is no fall, there is no need for a Savior. That pretty much kills the Christian faith at it’s root.

      • Scotty Ragtop

        I don’t know what a “sever shortage” is.

        • Brad Feaker

          Corrected – thank you. Perhaps now you could address the actual content of my comment?

          • Scotty Ragtop

            Dialogue with a religion-hater is like rolling in the mud with a hog. Only the hog enjoys it.

            You’ll have to roll with someone else.

          • Brad Feaker

            In other words, you have no answer to my arguments and have decided to run away. Pitiful…typical but pitiful none the less.

            Good day sir.

          • cathouseumbrella

            Thinking is hard, good thing you were able to deflect his questions with a passive aggressive bit of folk wisdom.

      • joejohnson043

        How could the population never number less than 2500, with a Darwinistic explanation? There were 2,500-10,000 random but simultaneous mutations that spawned humans at the exact same moment from their primate mothers? They just appeared together as one large tribe?

  • Bruce9

    Good Warning Minister Gilbert. So many False Teachers and Preachers.
    1 John 4:1 “Test All Things in Light Of Scripture”

    • Ray Smith

      I suggest you listen to the full sermon series. The conclusion Andy comes to at the end is that the Virgin Birth is very important.

      • Bruce9

        Thanks. I did read and listen to a controversial statement he made recently. Disturbing with his pedigree.

  • Palamas

    Well put, though I have no doubt that your plea will go unheard. For one thing, Stanley isn’t making disciples, he’s building an empire, so the goats that still need to be subjected are more important than the sheep who already are. For another, the Incarnation is the Achilles heel of modern American evangelicalism. Except for the utilitarian purpose of getting Jesus to the cross, it has no real purpose, and so the virginal conception that explains it is dispensable. Most evangelicals would not dispense with it nonetheless, because of their fidelity to Scripture, but as you say regarding Stanley, he has jettisoned that, and so has no reason not to denigrate a key biblical teaching for the sake tickling ears.

    • Ray Smith

      I suggest you listen to the full sermon series. The conclusion Andy comes to at the end is that the Virgin Birth is very important. Mr. Graybert is way off base and has not bothered to listen to the sermon series.

  • Jerry Dodson

    Amen and amen.

  • Giauz Ragnarock

    I don’t know much about the guy, but it sounds as if Stanley has entered fanboy in crisis mode where he is trying his hardest to patch the holes in his favorite work- the biggest hole being the work itself, but he hasn’t gotten that far yet (speaking from experience).

    • Gilsongraybert

      It will be interesting, to say the least, to see just how far he tries to push that envelope.

      • Giauz Ragnarock

        Trying to make the “supernatural” sound plausible is a fruitless effort. No god says anything about virgin birth, so what are Christians even talking about (one can write Jesus did ANYTHING in a scripture. Does that mean Jesus is dead/non-existent)?

        • Gilsongraybert

          I took your previous comment to be one where you were referring to his own pastoral work rather than the scriptures – on that account you and I certainly diverge. There are many wonderful resources available to show your claim to be contrary, even though I can’t quite make sense of the portion in parenthesis.

          • Giauz Ragnarock

            The part in parenthesis is referring to the fact that there wete no fact checkers back then. Unless someone made a personal effort to call one out (and that criticism wasn’t wiped out by the “winners”) people could say whatever they pleased.

            “There are many wonderful resources available to show your claim to be contrary”

            Hint: If a particular person reads them to other people the “resources” are unnecessary, but if that particular person cannot read the “resources” they are fan-fiction and pretty much worthless. Said person also has no use for writing.

    • Ray Smith

      You were right when you said you don’t know much about the guy. I know him personally. I suggest you listen to this sermon series in its entirety, and get to know Andy before making public judgements.
      Mr. Graybert is 180 degrees off the mark here. Andy’s conclusion in this sermon series is that the Virgin Birth is important.

      • Giauz Ragnarock

        In the end, does it matter? I just want people to stop wishing hell on others (they sure are not horrified by it).

  • Zach Waldis

    fundie much? heresy hunting is lots of fun, especially when more and more folks don’t even care about Jesus or religion. I’m sure the fundamentalist heavenly host is singing your praises right now.

    • Gilsongraybert

      Zach, do you find it acceptable for a pastor to engage in prostitution?

      • Ray Smith

        Nice deflection.

        • Brad Feaker

          He is a pro. He should consider a career in dodge ball 🙂

        • Gilsongraybert

          It is not a deflection; I am merely seeing if he is consistent in applying the biblical standards upon a preacher that the apostle Paul does, both moral and theological.

    • Bruce9

      So, by your reasoning, it’s lots of fun if, “when more and more folks don’t even care about”, let’s say, Surgery to stop Internal Bleeding?

  • Brad Feaker

    If something is stated even once in scripture – that is sufficient for you to expound upon, as it is inspired by God and profitable for teaching, reproof, correction, training in righteousness; so that the man of God may be adequate, equipped for every good work (2 Timothy 3:16-17).

    So do you teach your congregation how to beat their slaves???

    Exodus 21:20 – “Anyone who beats their male or female slave with a rod must be punished if the slave dies as a direct result”

    • Gilsongraybert

      There is a difference between casuistic laws and apodictic laws; I would recommend you do some study on this and come back with what you find out. Most of the rhetorical devices lobbed at Christians with this kind of stuff only serves to demonstrate not much serious study has been done on the matter, save parroting the common, yet incorrect tropes.

      • Brad Feaker

        Mr Gilbert – you are the one who made that statement without qualification.

        …save parroting the common, yet incorrect tropes.

        The reason it is common is Christians do not have a good answer to the slavery question. And, no – you only wish it was incorrect. I was a Christian for 38 years, went to seminary, taught Sunday school, was the church treasurer. The only tired tropes are the, pretty lame in my opinion, excuses I was given for all the glaring issues I found in my religion.

        And anyhow, you and I both know that slavery is nowhere condemned in the Bible. And before I here anything about ‘the culture of the times’ ponder this.

        If slavery is wrong now it has always been wrong. If the source and basis of morality is God and humans almost universally condemn slavery as wrong, then human morality is vastly superior to God’s so called morality.

        And if you believe differently, please explain how slavery was OK then and is wrong now. Did God change his mind? Or perhaps you do not believe slavery is wrong? (I seriously doubt you do).

        If the Bible is the inspired word of God, it should have been simple to state ‘Thou shalt not own another human being’. But that is nowhere to be found.

        And another thing…if God was powerful enough to inspire his word – why wasn’t he powerful enough to make sure it was passed down through history without error? And the Bible today is full of errors of history and contains many direct contradictions.

        And thank you – a year in seminary was plenty of study for me. I would suggest you subject your religious beliefs with the same skepticism you employ to reject, let’s say, Islam.

        • Gilsongraybert

          I don’t need to make a qualification on it; it is a red-herring to the substance of this post (and again, is just a rhetorical device used by those who would wish to not make a serious case). You’ve just proven my original point in using another set of tropes. Again, do some research and we can have a better discussion – even if you still disagree heartily.

          • Brad Feaker

            Why do you refuse to respond to my questions? It is really simple – why do you think the Bible does not condemn slavery?

            Are you afraid of the question? I do not have to meet your arbitrary standard of ‘study’ to ask a serious question. I have seen many a Christian response to that question and I have found them lacking in substance.

            So please address 2 simple questions:

            1. Is slavery morally wrong? This is a straight forward yes or no question.

            2. If slavery is wrong why does the Bible not inform us of that fact?

            Regards

          • Gilsongraybert

            Brad, I am refusing to answer the questions because they are not legitimate questions. It has nothing to do with the argument at hand and is a blatant logical fallacy. But even if it were not a complete red herring (or straw man), there are literally thousands of pages on ink spilled on the very topic – but I’m supposed to be naive enough to believe that a response less than 200 words will do it for you? You’re not looking for an answer – if you were, God knows this would not be the real question you had because the subject has been dealt with exhaustively. Go try somewhere else.

          • Brad Feaker

            I am not really surprised. It is a typical disingenuous, cowardly response I have gotten used to from Christians when asked hard questions for which they have no legitimate answers.

            At least one of your readers had the courage to step up and attempt an answer – one Bruce9. And I appreciate his thoughtful response. It is also telling that many of your readers have pointed out to you that you did not follow Mr. Stanley’s sermon series to the end where he affirms the doctrine of the virgin birth – yet I have not seen you acknowledge your error in that matter either.

            Good day sir…

          • Gilsongraybert

            If you would like a comment on that, I have already given one below. In the end, you may feel that I am cowardly in choosing not to respond; I’ve simply learned at some point to shake the dust off and move on. I happily answer people’s questions – but I don’t have time to waste on those who I sense wish to belabor a point for the sake of belaboring rather than grappling with truth. If you appeared more genuine in your questions, I would have happily answered. I’m sure at some points I run the risk of dismissing some questions that should not be dismissed due to misreading the situation, but this is the internet and there are plenty of free, solid resources to be had for those truly inquisitive enough to search out truth. Take care, sir! I hope you enjoy your New Years – and stay safe!

          • Brad Feaker

            What I am seeking is your take on the subject. Believe me, I have read many a response to this question and the question of Biblical accuracy. And have not found a single one yet that doesn’t retreat into obtuse philosophical mumbo jumbo at the end.

            But I am always looking for another take on the subject because who knows? I might actually find one that is convincing! I am sorry you have me marked as someone with an agenda – although I must admit my first comment was a little too full of snark – my apologies for that.

            And a Happy New Year to you and yours as well.

            Cheers…

        • Bruce9

          Hm, allegedly you claim to extensive experience in the

          Christian Religion, but apparently not enough knowledge of the Bible, Hermeneutics.
          “And anyhow, you and I both know that slavery is nowhere condemned in the Bible.”

          “First, it should be noted that far from extolling the virtues of
          slavery, the Bible denounces slavery as sin. The New Testament goes so
          far as to put slave traders in the same category as murderers,
          adulterers, perverts, and liars (1 Timothy 1:10).

          Furthermore, slavery within the Old Testament context was sanctioned
          due to economic realities rather than racial or sexual prejudices.
          Because bankruptcy laws did not exist, people would voluntarily sell
          themselves into slavery. A craftsman could thus use his skills in
          servitude to discharge a debt. Even a convicted thief could make
          restitution by serving as a slave (Exodus 22:3).

          Finally, while the Bible as a whole recognizes the reality of
          slavery, it never promotes the practice of slavery. In fact, it was the
          application of biblical principles that ultimately led to the overthrow
          of slavery, both in ancient Israel and in the United States of America.
          Israel’s liberation from slavery in Egypt became the model for the
          liberation of slaves in general. In America, many are beginning to wake
          up to the liberating biblical truth that all people are created by God
          with innate equality (Genesis 1:27; Acts 17:26–28; Galatians 3:28).

          For further study, see Paul Copan, That’s Just Your Interpretation:Responding to Skeptics Who Challenge Your Faith (Grand Rapids: Baker Books, 2001), 171–178. See also Hank Hanegraaff, “President Bartlett’s Fallacious Diatribe.” Available from CRI at http://www.equip.org.”

          http://www.equip.org/bible_answers/does-the-bible-promote-slavery/

          • Brad Feaker

            Finally, while the Bible as a whole recognizes the reality of slavery, it never promotes the practice of slavery. In fact, it was the
            application of biblical principles that ultimately led to the overthrow
            of slavery, both in ancient Israel and in the United States of America.

            Maybe it never outright promotes the practice of slavery, but nowhere does it outright condemn it either. And since you have a one sided view of the history of slavery in America you should remember that the Bible was also used by Southerners to justify slavery, citing the Ten Commandments and Paul returning Philemon to his master.

            While Jesus spoke against many injustices, he never spoke out against slavery. It is never prohibited anywhere in the Bible. So I stand by my statement that if slavery is wrong now, it was wrong then no matter what the circumstances. There is also a reason we eliminated debtors prison.

            Hm, allegedly you claim to extensive experience in the
            Christian Religion, but apparently not enough knowledge of the Bible, Hermeneutics.

            Yes – I know all about hermeneutics – the so called art and science of Biblical interpretation. The actual definition should be the far fetched, convoluted philosophical and theological hand waving Christian theologians use to try to excuse the awful parts of their scriptures. Art and science? Piffle…that abuses the term science to the nth degree. It is used to justify genocide( Joshua 6:20-21;Deuteronomy 2:32-35;Deuteronomy 3:3-7;Numbers 31:7-18,1 Samuel 15:1-9) and the slaughter of innocent children( 2 Kings 2:23-24).

            So – I am not at all convinced. We are talking about all powerful God, the supposed creator of the universe and the book that is supposed to contain His message to mankind. Yet he could not even outright condemn slavery?

            Face the facts – the Bible is a book written by men…no inspiration, no divine revelations.

            Edit: And thank you for you thoughtful and civil response. I would like to think we can disagree yet have a respectful debate.

            https://uploads.disquscdn.com/images/07b9661e5ed5e383f1a5117d240a5a80a9293d5946f0c0489775b856de18c604.jpg

            Kind Regards

          • Bruce9

            What you want, maybe, but what I posted plainly explains that God does not approve of it. There is “descriptive” parts of the Bible and “prescriptive.” This concerns “descriptive.” It amazes me how so many do not understand Free Will.

            In His Name I Live

          • Brad Feaker

            What you want, maybe, but what I posted plainly explains that God does not approve of it.

            He obviously does not disapprove of it enough to outright condemn it now does He? So why could he not interrupt His ‘description’ of slavery long enough to inform us that is is morally wrong?

            It amazes me how so many do not understand Free Will.

            And it, quite frankly, amazes me how many people actually think we have free will.

            Even from a religious viewpoint free will is a farce. If God is omniscient he knows every single decision we make in advance. Where is free will then?

            Not to mention we live in a deterministic universe. All our actions are preordained by the laws of physics. And quantum uncertainty does not apply in a macro sense either. We merely lack the computing power to calculate the future course of the universe.

            Kind Regards

          • barry

            You are incorrect to say that the bible never promotes the practice of slavery. yes it does, read Leviticus 25:44

            44 ‘As for your male and female slaves whom you may have– you may acquire male and female slaves from the pagan nations that are around you.
            45 ‘Then, too, it is out of the sons of the sojourners who live as aliens among you that you may gain acquisition, and out of their families who are with you, whom they will have produced in your land; they also may become your possession.
            46 ‘You may even bequeath them to your sons after you, to receive as a possession; you can use them as permanent slaves. (Lev. 25:44-46 NAU)

            Worse, the excuse given for according immunity to the slave-owner who beats a slave so severely that it takes him a day or two to get up (i.e., the slave is the master’s money, in other words, the master is only hurting his own financial survival by being harsh with a slave), clearly justifies the inference that the giver of these laws did not view masters and slaves as deserving of basic equal rights. See Exodus 21:20-21

            20 “If a man strikes his male or female slave with a rod and he dies at his hand, he shall be punished.
            21 “If, however, he survives a day or two, no vengeance shall be taken; for he is his property.”(Exod. 21:20-21 NAU)

          • Bruce9

            Go back and read my post. Your assertion is very common and in error. You have to read scripture within scripture. Not reading through a 21st Century Newspaper.

      • barry

        The last I checked, Jesus not only approved of those who keep ALL the law, he said those who tried to skirt around or “nullify” even the least part of it, or taught others the same, would be least in the kingdom of heaven. Matthew 5:19.

        And since the resurrected Jesus insisted in the last part of the Great Commission that the disciples must convey to future Gentiles ALL that Christ had taught his original followers (Matthew 28:20), then the legalism in Matthew 5:19 applies to the situation of the modern Gentile Christian no less than it applied during Jesus’ 3-year ministry on earth.

        • bobnelsonfr

          Jesus’s message was very simple, expressed directly (“Love God and your fellows”) or indirectly in His parables. There is no fine print. There is no escape clause.
          “Love one another”, full stop.
          John was just gilding that lily when he said that anything that distracts from love is a lie.
          The insane Rube-Goldberg-dogma-machines that some self-styled Christians have constructed and now contend are essential to “true Christianity” are obvious distractions from Jesus’s simple message. Lies, according to John.
          Watching self-styled “Christians” tear at each other is a very powerful demonstration of John’s warning to us.

  • S. Lawson

    There’s that ‘heresy’ word again being used for something it doesn’t mean. Heresy doesn’t mean a break from traditional doctrine, it means a break from one’s fellowship of believers. You can believe God is a rabbit and not be a heretic as long as it doesn’t cause you separation from your church. Obviously he’s still in fellowship, and therefore not a heretic.

    • Gilsongraybert

      Heresy: noun

      1. belief or opinion contrary to orthodox religious (especially Christian) doctrine.

      • S. Lawson

        I understand that to be the modern, popular definition, but it doesn’t hold with biblical example – not completely. In the bible it is always in reference to an obstinacy of error with respect to a teaching and aggressively pursuing division. By the biblical example, a church split “over the colour of the drapes” is more heretical than a preacher who says the virgin birth isn’t all that important. I don’t think division is what he’s pursuing. In fact, what is happening here in this forum has brought you and I in communication, and therefore (though we disagree on fundamental issues and definitions) we two Christ-believing strangers are in closer communion than we were before. I’m suspicious that the motive of any pastor who makes a controversial statement is truly intent on creating sparring matches like this – “as iron sharpens iron.”

        • Gilsongraybert

          I understand where you are coming from, but division within the church is not mutually exclusive of false teaching. False teaching, in and of itself, naturally divides, as truth separates from falsehood simply because they cannot be one. Splitting a church over drapes is likewise denounced – but it is not propagating false teaching about the nature of God, or leading one to entertain such false teaching. They both can lead to condemnation, but what we know of heresy is similar to what we know of the term “false teaching” or that of the “false prophet” within the scriptures.

          In that sense, it does not necessarily take wicked intentions to create division – it can be done in ignorance, yet also without presumptuousness. Doctrine though, divides. We see this in respect to different denominations – though this is a good thing, as it allows unity of the faith while we can still have disagreement over certain doctrines, but there is a bar set at what is part of the non-negotiables. At this point in the game, there have been enough controversial statements from Andy that we have to seriously ask if it is intentional.

          • Ray Smith

            What’s funny about your criticism of Andy, Mr. Graybert, is that the thing you are criticizing him for, saying the Virgin Birth is not important, is the exact opposite of the conclusion Andy comes to at the end of the series. You owe him an apology, sir.

      • Bruce9

        I stand with you brother on the authority and veracity of scripture.
        On how it is imperative to get it right. Lives are at stake.
        Too many False teachers out there.

        1 John 4:1 “Test All Things In Light Of Scripture”

  • Eddie Robbins

    Speaking of scripture, have you gone to Andy Stanley to have him explain to you the context, in which most people understood, of his sermon? Or, rather, attempt to disqualify him from the ministry in a public manner? I think you’re gonna be embarrassed when you understand the context.

    • Gilsongraybert

      I know the context of what he said, but go ahead and post it. Im not embarrassed in my stance here – I know he holds to the position himself. I was fairly clear in what I fee is the issue at hand.

      • Eddie Robbins

        Here is another that disagreed until he understood the context by actually being Biblical, going to Stanley with his issue. Read this: http://christianindex.org/andy-stanleys-approach-virgin-birth-different-not-wrong/

        • Ray Smith

          Thanks Eddie. I’ve been telling everyone to listen to the entire sermon/series and know the context. People just love to judge others without getting the facts first.

  • I thought there were only three Synoptic gospels.

    • Gilsongraybert

      Yup, sure are. I meant to edit that portion prior to posting but I must not have saved the previous edit. Updated – and thank you for the catch.

  • Thus speaketh the Moody Bible Institute. Interesting place that. I believe Bart Ehrman went there…so it is good for something, I guess.

    • LastManOnEarth

      “‘Tis a silly place”

    • James

      I know of at least four lesbians who went and graduated from moody. So between Ehrman and lesbians this guy may have a chance to quit being a Calvinist hardass. Which I will say I am glad for the Calvinist’s god since I am predestined to hell and don’t have to spend eternity with a bunch spiritually shallow know-it-alls.

  • Christy

    Well, this post was a total waste of time. Your outrage is not inspiring or edifying in any way. Can’t you find something to do to make the world a better place, because armchair quarterbacking from the ministry sidelines doesn’t bring the Kingdom. This is exactly what is wrong with Evangelicalism and why I should know better than to check out Patheos for relaxation.

    • Bruce9

      The Bible is clear about correcting, criticizing, warning about false doctrine and teachers. It is imperative to get the Gospel, the Essentials of the Christian faith, correct. Lives are at stake.

      • Christy

        The author of this blog has a responsibility to shepherd his own congregation, if he is in leadership. The entire blogosphere is not his flock. Church discipline does not happen via the internet.

        About thirty percent of human communication is asking for and giving clarification. The idea that this blog author knows exactly what Stanley meant in a few lines of a sermon lifted from its context, and that on the basis of this perfect understanding, he has the righteous duty to publicly call for his resignation, is hubris in the extreme. Not to mention, it skips over every process for correcting other believers outlined in the Gospels or NT letters. Like I said, this is a lovely case study in what is wrong with Evangelicalism.

        Do you really think anyone will be drawn closer to Christ, awed into worship of the one true God, or spurred on to love and good deeds because of this post? I doubt it. It’s one guy trying to make ministry into a theological pissing contest. That’s not what ministry is.

        • Bruce9

          When lives are at stake, I don’t think God has an issue with correction, in love, for the truth.
          What is wrong with Evangelicalism is too many desiring what is on the Master’s table, rather than the Master
          Himself.

          “The vast majority of Christians, have never made the transformation from Declaration to Discipleship”
          “We’re not called to be converts, we’re called to be disciples, learners, or followers of Jesus Christ”
          Hank Hanegraaff

          • Christy

            I agree that lives are at stake. But it seems to me that lots more people are turned off by Christianity because of all the contentious boundary monitoring they see than are turned on to Christianity by someone castigating another believer for their possible theological impurity. If the primary concern really was unbelievers coming to faith, people would think more about the cumulative effect on the public’s consciousness of all the petty in-fighting in the Evangelical ranks. Do you believe you need to accept the virgin birth in order to repent from your sins and turn to Christ for grace? Is that really an essential step in salvation? The huge majority of people who come to Christ are going to begin following him long before they can articulate or mentally assent to orthodox doctrines like the hypostatic union or the homoousia of the Second Person of the godhead. We should be all about removing barriers that keep people from giving the gospel a hearing.

          • Steve Sv

            I agree with most of what you have written, but I don’t think that the most important reason that many non-Christians are not interested in Christianity is due to petty in-fighting within the Evangelical community. It is rather the tendency of many Christians to take hard stands on controversial political issues. Jesus stated “Resist not evil” or in other words, we have one way only to fight evil and that is by bringing people to Christ. By insulting those with whom we disagree Evangelicals on both the left but especially on the right make it impossible for others to hear Christ’s message in any meaningful way..

          • Christy

            True.

          • Bruce9

            I don’t think it is all that. It is about “Error.” God is perfect, He is Truth, His word is true. Discussion is healthy. I never read where brother Gilbert was making anything an ad hominem play.

          • barry

            God is not perfect, he did not regret merely that man became sinful, but regretted his own choice to create man, over in Genesis 6:6. “that’s just an anthropomorphism” is not something you can justify from the allegedly historically true immediate context, so think about that before you automatically assume the conveneint answer handed to you by some apologist, doesn’t carry lethal consequences to your orthodoxy.

          • Bruce9

            That doesn’t even justify a response.

          • Christy

            This is about the fact that if ‘Brother Gilbert’ was really concerned about offering a loving correction out of concern for Stanley’s ministry and capital T truth, he could have sent him a personal note. Posting a public call for his resignation looks a lot more like click bait than brotherly love or Christian accountability to me.

          • barry

            And in the first century, the cost of discipleship was very high, and involved more serious threats to one’s well being, than having to wait so long at Starbuck’s that one will be late to the office. And I cannot disagree with fundamentalist preacher who say if the rapture happened now, 99% of professing Christians would be left behind.

          • Bruce9

            And the cost is rising very quickly in the US. More physical persecution now. I don’t believe there is enough bibliv=cal evidence for the Pre Trib, but I and several followers think only a remnant are True Believers.

          • Christy

            “but I and several followers think only a remnant are True Believers” Well, that explains so much. You know you sound like a cult leader, right?

          • Bruce9

            Speaking the truth is not about cultism. But that my be your misguided belief.

          • Melt van der Spuy

            and of course only you and others who think exactly like you are part of that remnant? As a Kingdom theologian I couldn’t agree less. Revelation speaks of 10 000’s upon 10 000’s…the problem I have in general with those who are into ‘remnant’theology is that they seem far more delighted by the prospect of people going to hell than the possibility that as many as possible would be saved – which is very clearly the NT emphasis

          • Bruce9

            You don’t understand the Bible. Nor the Creator.

            And Lord Jesus Christ said,
            Matthew 7:13-14

            “Enter by the narrow gate. For the gate is wide and the way is easy that leads to destruction, and those who enter by it are many. For the gate is narrow and the way is hard that leads to life, and those who find it are few.

          • Melt van der Spuy

            Thank you for that wholesale judgment on my salvation Bruce! It tells me everything I need to know. Thankfully that call belongs to Jesus not you. Paul tells us to be very slow to the judgment unto condemnation (krinou). In fact that is the only judgment we are not to make. You’ve just made it brother?. Beyond that if we are going to quote proof texts at one another that would be silly, but in the Revelation John is very clear that he saw a great multitude… That does not mean all humanity s saved (I am not a universalist), since it seems the great majority of humanity will reject the message (Mt 7:13-14) but there may be way, way more than you suspect and ALL (to quot another verse) who call on the Lord will be saved. But, I should not be engaging with someone who has just condemned me to hell, since that was the sin of the pharisee Jesus condemned. My testimony and life before Christ have nothing to do with you. My CV and qualifications neither. Be blessed

          • John P. Fenner

            Sincere religious belief does not let you violate the general law.
            Like flying 727s into the Pentagon & World Trade Center.

          • Bruce9

            What does that have to do with my comment??

          • Christy

            “99% of professing Christians would be left behind.” Do you know any Christians who aren’t American? The cost of discipleship is high in a great number of countries where the Church is active and strong. Of course, they probably haven’t read the books and blogs you have and are most likely wrong about stuff and going to hell.

        • Melt van der Spuy

          Very good. The internet is not a local church community

      • barry

        Which must mean Mark disagreed with you, since Mark doesn’t mention the virgin birth, and your excuses as to why, are clearly less likely the truth than the theory that the virgin birth was a late embellishment upon the earlier Markan gospel.

        • Bruce9

          Huh?

          • barry

            I assumed based on the tenor of your response, that you were likely one of those Christians who think the virgin birth of Jesus is “essential doctrine”. Was I correct? If not, then disregard, but you’d still be wrong anyway, as the bible doesn’t even make clear how you can identify that which is “essential” doctrine.

  • Eliza Schultinge

    What’s Your intention ?
    I have tried to read your other blog to see where are you coming from ?
    If you want to be right ., can you start with how you love on the brother (as you believe he is wrong but you might be wrong)? Instead you crashed Andy ?
    Didn’t we learn we need to talk to our brother first to hear from him ? I looked up your other blog ., and it is very interesting to get to know your emotions …. it says something about you…. One of signs of “religiously confuses ” is somebody can only see others peoples’ problems but can not see and not willing to hear it or be transparency about SELF., ( no matter if you have a big SELF or small self)

    if you don’t make the move to call Andy and at least listen to him ., you have not right to say a word because you don’t have love or grace but law., so that will be a Pharisee who also religiously confuse.

    Without a loving intention to help a brother.,

    “it is eating the tree of knowledge of good and evil ”

    I couldn’t see a simple ” love” in action or intention ., it is very sad.

    • Gilsongraybert

      Hi Eliza, I’m not sure what other blog you might be referring to. I’ve blogged here for almost two years now and haven’t blogged elsewhere during that time. With regard to Andy – I write this because I do believe he is a brother. I do take him at his word when he says he believes these things. What I take issue with is the gradual slide that I have seen with him over the past couple of years with regard to issues of incredible importance, that while he affirms them himself, he seems to set that bar lower for those whom he preaches to. The difficulty in our current age is that firm confrontation is not seen as a loving endeavor in any sense, yet some of the hardest words we here are from those who genuinely love us. We know Solomon himself wrote that faithful are the wounds of a friend but deceitful are the kisses of my enemies. I genuinely would like to see Andy continue in ministry – but I fear his influence has clouded judgment in a few areas, something I fear is easy for any with influence to have happen. At the end of the day though, pastors are called to a much higher and stricter standard than those who are not in charge of the flock. This is a good thing because it means that these standards laid out in scripture are there for the church’s health and protection. In reality, what you’re doing is no different than what I have sought to do – as you are seeking to publicly correct me. I take no issue with that. I am writing publicly and so public confrontation is warranted. The same is said for Mr. Stanley. I earnestly wish him nothing but the best, but part of that “best” would be a firm conviction to not make things more palatable, as if the scriptures are a cause for embarrassment when they speak candidly toward things. The issue goes beyond what he mentions here, as he also makes the claim that it was not necessary for Christ to be born of a virgin, even though he claims we must accept that by faith, Christ was born of a virgin. The reality is that it was necessary, as we find in the prophecy foretold in the book of Isaiah, and Christ’s own nature demands that He be born of a virgin rather than normal copulation. Again, this is something that has long been dealt with in the historic church. This is not to say the historic church has been correct on every single thing – but that when we stray from that conviction of the early church, the medieval theologians, and onward – we ought to do so with extreme hesitancy. I know you and I disagree with how this might be loving, but for the same reason that it is loving to preach the reality of hell to an unbeliever so that they might also see the reality of the salvation in Christ, it is loving to correct a brother through a stern warning to one who teaches. Judgment from God is not a thing to be taken lightly, and while there is certainly no condemnation for those in Christ, there is yet a judgment which will show whether our works have been built upon the foundation of Christ or hay and stubble.

      • Eliza Schultinge

        I read your blog here before I wrote to you and thank you for your response., I am writing to you in your blog which set for you raise opinion and allow others to respond., so I believe I am having a conversation with you without telephone. It is very different from what you did and already decided in your mind that Andy “should ….” that to me is very judgmental… I’m not going to worry about how you going face God at the end., and I’m fine if you continually worry about how Andy is going to face to God at the end.
        I honestly wish you a Happy New Year because God allows us to act out freely & take the consequence as a package ., so it is all good..

  • Otto Schultinge

    Grayson has no clue what he is talking about. It is obvious he has not the faintest idea of the reasons for Andy’s choice of words. Andy is a master communicator and his choice of words are perfect to the point he is making his sermon. A sermon mostly directed at seekers, but not limited to seekers. And I can tell you his sermons are totally grounded in scripture. He does not back away from anything scripture teaches. But the art of communication let’s you zoom in on a main point without distorting truth. That is what Andy does masterfully.

    Grayson has either an agenda against Andy or misses the ability to discern truth.

    • Christy

      “Grayson has either an agenda against Andy or misses the ability to discern truth”

      OR the more simple explanation: He’s “relevant and reformed” which here on Patheos usually means a guy who reads too much and is convinced heretic-hunting is a spiritual gift and friendly fire is ministry.

    • Sastra

      A third possibility: both Grayson and Andy are more or less equally well informed, sincere, and of good will and intent. They are both “seekers” seeking truth and trying to communicate it to other seekers. The problem isn’t with the interpreters of Christianity, it isn’t with the interpretations of Christianity– it’s with the nature of what’s involved in interpreting a religion, any religion.

      • barry

        There is no biblical room for the possibility that equally authentically born-again Christians who equally sincerely study their bibles and equally walk in the light with Christ and equally seek the Holy Spirit’s guidance for spiritual matters, might be told “no” by God when they ask for God to give them the truth about a biblical matter. I can buy that God says “no” to prayers for sports cars and hot women…I cannot buy that God also says “no” even to the very humblest non-selfish prayers such as requests for biblical truth to be revealed. It is far more likely that equally good Christians disagree with each other’s interpretations of the bible, because God either doesn’t exist, or hypocritically choose to avoid following through on his end of the bargain, both of which would rationally justify tossing the whole business out the window.

        • Sastra

          So in order to save God, men then sacrifice each other, denying the possibility that theological disagreements might simply be errors in judgement rather than deficiencies in character.

          I’m not sure there’s no “biblical room” for the kinder option, though. The Bible seems large enough to hold whatever and whoever is needed. Some might choose to save kindness, and insist that’s the image of God.

        • Christy

          Well, there were these famous guys named Peter and Paul who actually received visions from God himself from time to time and even *wrote* parts of the Bible, and they managed to disagree about what was true for a while. Which one wasn’t authentically born again?

        • joejohnson043

          Or, they prayed, God answered, but they aren’t listening… Have you ever seen a group of students have different results from sitting in the same classroom with the same teacher? Also, some students have an agenda, that may skew their interpretations of what their teacher taught them…

  • Iain Lovejoy

    The above post shows a man who knows the true purpose of evangelism is to demonstrate the righteousness of the evangelist and to ensure the condemnation of those evangelised who do not accept his pronouncements.

  • Tom

    I believe the earliest confession of the church was “Jesus is Lord,” and that the earliest stories were the crucifixion-resurrection accounts. This is the foundation of the witness/proclamation of the Christian Church.

    • barry

      That’s right: Apostle Paul clearly intends to establish in 1st Corinthians 15: 1ff those beliefs minimally necessary to be saved (because he says he is now repeating to them, what he previously passed on to them, which were things he “received”), so his failure to mention the virgin birth is a special type of silence that screams and would easily support a successful argument from silence. If the book is entitled “sex scandals of the Clinton presidency” and it doesn’t say anything about Monica Lewinsky, we legitimately scratch our heads, despite jailhouse lawyer-type apologists who can reconcile peanut butter with the north pole.

      • bobnelsonfr

        “Apostle Paul clearly intends to establish…”

        I am not a “Paulian”. I am a “Christian”. Christ gave us ONE commandment… and I really don’t care about anything Paul may have tried to tack on.

        Christ’s message was very, very… very, very… simple: “Love God and your fellows”. It is difficult to quibble about His meaning!

        All of Christianity’s miserable history of “heresy debates” is about other “stuff”.

  • Buzzy1

    This article adores Scripture as “the fourth person of the Trinity”, is historically ignorant, and simply again shows contemporary people why they don’t want to be Christian, because Christianity requires shutting off intellectual capacities God gave us. Scripture is not God–it is not even the Word of God, the Reformers said, unless the Holy Spirit fills its reading and understanding. Those who think “Scripture is sufficient” worship an idol, and idle is their faith.

    There is a big book to be written here, but that will have to wait for another day.

    We are learning so much about why people cling to beliefs despite evidence to the contrary. The recent election provides ample evidence that “facts don’t matter”. Some people think defending their beliefs (of their faith community) is holy, by definition. God is so much bigger than me, or you, or my/your faith community.

    Blessings in Jesus, whose birth we only care about because of the life he lived!

    Ken Winter
    Auburn, CA

    • barry

      I would deny the premise that fundamentalists are serious when they say scripture is “sufficient” for their faith and practice. The continually read extra-biblical things like commentaries, books by theologians, they google matters raised by their pastor to see what other church leaders say. That is hardly the conduct of a person who thinks they need nothing except the bible to sufficiently guide their faith and practice. So I accuse the fundamentalists of being inconsistent. They seriously do not believe they can get all they need from the bible, by simply reading “the bible”. So they need to drop this “the bible is sufficient for us” lie.

  • Melt van der Spuy

    I’ve not heard Andy’s words so am loath to comment; but if he does actually believe that Joseph is the biological father of Jesus it really would be sad. Such a claim would diminish the claims of Jesus as fully human fully God to being just fully human and perhaps achieving ‘deity’in a kind of new age ‘I am God’ sense? Personally I see the Virgin birth as equally central to the Christian narrative as the resurrection. Paul said: ‘If Christ is not risen then my preaching is useless and so is your faith.’ He could just as well have said: ‘If Mary was pregnant by Joseph then my preaching is useless and so is your faith…’ But I would like to hear the message before castigating Andy. Is it available online?

    • Christy
      • Melt van der Spuy

        Thank you Christy. From a distance I have always appreciated him. A colleague of mine attends Southpoint in Cape Town, which is a sister church to Northpoint. Phew, (forgive me) but you USA based Christians (as a generalization) rip one another to shreds…

    • Christy

      As Stanley told the Washington Post: “I am often misunderstood because of my communication style. I frequently verbalize what I know unbelievers and those who have left the church believe, assume or remember a college professor saying…The real story is the handful of Southern Baptist professors and writers (not so much preachers) who seem to have nothing else to do but listen to bits and pieces of my messages,” he said in his statement to The Post. “Anyone who listens to all three [sermons in the series] will know that I stand firmly within the orthodox Christian tradition regarding the incarnation of Jesus — including the birth narratives as presented [in] Matthew and Luke.” https://www.washingtonpost.com/news/acts-of-faith/wp/2016/12/24/megachurch-pastor-ignites-debate-after-suggesting-christianity-doesnt-hinge-on-jesus-birth/?utm_term=.4ccdef1dba0d

      • Melt van der Spuy

        Hi Christy I’ve just finished watching the message. Great message. His point was that there were things about a Messiah for the Nations coming out of small dysfunctional weak Israel that were (contextually) more amazing than a Virgin Birth! I don’t get the ”bibliolatory”’ of the article? It’s Pharasaic… I’ve personally said this from the pulpit before: ”If you could prove to me today that there is no hell I would still follow Jesus.” (I happen btw to believe in the state of eternal separation from God Scripture calls hell.) If a hearer had an axe to grind with me well… The reason I receive Patheos in the first place is that it is Neo evangelical and non reactionary. This article is a very unfair depiction of Andy, Anyhow, I am midway through a Doctorate at Fuller and in the USA annually and I just I begin to understand how divided the USA and the ”evangelical world” in the USA is. As a Vineyard pastor I shudder to consider that a man could be denigrated in the ”Christian” world for making the point he made. Upward and onward Andy…

        • Christy

          Fuller! Too bad your opinion won’t count here now, since everyone knows you hang out on the brink of Hades. 😉 I am American, but live out of the States doing, development/missions work. I have found the Evangelical voices out of Great Britain and Australia and the global Evangelical community in the majority world to be much more sane and less political than the American ones over the last decade or so. We Americans need regular sermons on the sinfulness of factions and devisiveness. There is an awful lot of “I follow ____ (fill in your favorite Neo-Puritan or post-Evangelilcal dude with a blog.)!” going on around here.

          • Melt van der Spuy

            Haha yip. Me and Beelzebub at Fuller. I guess the C. Peter Wagner / Wimber era there is what ultimately attracted me. That and Dallas Willard and Eddie Gibbs involvement, along with Bob Logan and others. But I find them faithfully sane. Yes, the tag evangelical in Australia the UK and Southern Africa has never carried the baggage it does in the USA. For me to be evangelical simply means that the Scriptures are sufficient unto faith and life. The early creeds carried none of the assumed and recent additions to what it means to be ‘evangelical.’ BTW I am the recently departing Principal of the Evangelical Seminary of Southern Africa…

          • Melt van der Spuy

            In closing…I am picking up directorship for a USA based NGO in South Africa from January 2017, which is why I stepped down as a seminary principal. I know this is not the right forum for making connection and do not want to come across as stalkerish (: (Specifically because my wife would not be happy). The organization I am going to be heading up works with the church where it is under-resourced, under oppression or under persecution. It is represented in 70+ countries in the world. We have been involved in mediation in South Sudan, Nepal, Mongolia and Egypt for e.g. I read that you work in mission outside of the USA and saw you reminding your Christian brethren (and cistern) that there are places in the world where Christians actually pay a high price for their faith and do not have time to flay one another, or to play stupid right wing / left wing political games invoking the name of God (and breaking the 3rd commandment) in the process. Hopefully this feed is far enough down that only you will see it. If you feel there might be missional synergy please seek me out on FB, The pic of the Mrs and me attached to this post will tell you, you have found the correct Melt van der Spuy – there are about 100 of us in this little country. Look forward to connecting and seeing what God might do?

          • joejohnson043

            Christianity in the United States is not currently under open violent attack like other parts of the world, but by infiltration and subversion. We are consistently taught to stand down when it comes to upholding any concept, teaching, or doctrine. Well, you can see the downslide our culture even within the church has had in 20 years. Our trendy mega churches didn’t utter a word about the Christians who were being persecuted in Syria by jihadis armed by our own government. It was just more desirable to talk about football games, trendy pop cultural topics, and enjoy a rocking worship band. This is a recent phenomena, I don’t know why people want to hold onto this modern format like it was ordained by scriptures….

  • Eileen

    I truly wish that as believers and followers of Christ, we would go to the person with whom we have a disagreement with or need clarification from before we make public assumptions of a brother or sister of Christ. I’m sure your intentions were good, Mr. Gilbert, but I think we’ve all learned a good lesson about leaping to public conclusions.

    • Melt van der Spuy

      I agree with you

    • joejohnson043

      It was a public sermon, what’s wrong with a public response?

  • jimoppenheimer

    I think his point was not to deny the birth narratives at all, but to say they are not as important as the resurrection. He is absolutely right. How Our Lord got here is unimportant; that He DID and then, WHAT he did — that’s the Gospel’s center.

    People might believe in the Bible without believing it to be free from error (that would, after all, be the logical conclusion). And since there’s no actual evidence to affirm that the Bible absolutely free from all error (and a lot of evidence to show that it does indeed have errors), I’m not sure why this is such an issue. Some believe in the perpetual virginity of Mary; some believe in the inerrancy of the Bible. Neither of these matters are near the heart of the Gospel.

    People who don’t get that are doing a lot of harm for those striving to do the Lord’s work in the world. The willful and evil attack on this good man (jealousy?) is just one in a long laundry list of incidents of that sort.

    • Everett Kier Jr

      if one takes your logic than there is no need for a site like this…if you are reading it I assume you find value in interaction?

    • joejohnson043

      The divinity of Jesus is what makes His crucifixion and resurrection applicable to us! This is a backhanded attempt to subvert the divinity of Jesus, and the authority of the scriptures. Probably to be followed by the open advocation of homosexual marriage, since “People might believe in the Bible without believing it to be free from error’….

      • Ficino

        Crikey, why are you inerrantists so hung up on “homosexual” marriage? This is the second comment I’ve seen so far on this thread that leaps to LGBT issues as a litmus test for who is a true Christian and who is not. Why you guys are so obsessed with other people’s lives is a mystery.
        ———-
        Adding: I see now that the other comment to which I referred was yours also.

      • jimoppenheimer

        Who says he in any way denies that? He said, and he’s right as rain, that Easter is the more important holiday. You hear “less important” and assume he’s saying it never happened, and that reflects your poor judgment.
        I’m guessing jealousy, because it can really cloud the judgment.

        • joejohnson043

          I’m not a preacher trying to compete with church size, there is nothing to be jealous of. I hear most of his sermons, and I’ve noticed a trend, thats all I’m saying…

          • jimoppenheimer

            No, that’s not what you said. Not at all. What you said was, “This is a backhanded attempt to subvert the divinity of Jesus, and the authority of the scriptures. Probably to be followed by the open advocation of homosexual marriage…”
            But you are right. You are not a preacher.

          • joejohnson043

            Yes, that is the trend I’ve noticed…..

          • jimoppenheimer

            Your comment was irrelevant to his. You seem so tied to what you want to say as a rebuttal that you forget that if you reply, you need to make a comment that relates to what the other person ACTUALLY said, not what you wish they had said.

          • joejohnson043

            What was irrelevant? The point being made was essentially: ‘the Bible doesn’t have to be true, and that as Christians we should be fine with that premise because it doesn’t negatively affect our faith. We can still be christians without believing the Bible to be true’.
            I disagree with that premise. The agenda pushing that narrative will lead to intended outcomes…

          • jimoppenheimer

            If that were what he said, I would not care for it either. That’s not at all what he said. You don’t see the difference between literal truth and Truth with a capital T, and I doubt you’ll ever understand the difference. My denomination has taught this as a matter of course like forever.

            Your point was irrelevant because you didn’t understand what he was saying in the first place, so you went off the rails, attacking what was never said to begin with.

          • barry

            The canonical gospels never portray Jesus as teaching one must believe in the OT in order to be a Christian (and he certainly did not teach any such thing to the few Gentiles he apparently had specific conversations with), and what Jesus taught is the gold-standard by which all other doctrinal opinions are measured, agreed?

          • joejohnson043

            Well, He did say this…
            “For truly I say to you, until heaven and earth pass away, not the smallest letter or stroke shall pass from the Law until all is accomplished. Whoever then annuls one of the least of these commandments, and teaches others to do the same, shall be called least in the kingdom of heaven; but whoever keeps and teaches them, he shall be called great in the kingdom of heaven.”

      • barry

        I deny your slippery slope argument. There are plenty of liberal Christians who think the nativity stories in Matthew and Luke are pious fiction, but who do not go over the edge and suppose the bible supports homosexual marriage. Worse, you cannot show that anybody in the NT ever taught that belief in the bible as inerrant is required of Christians. Jesus had plenty to say to Gentiles before he died, and was content to forgive them, educate them, and let it go, apparently caring nothing for whether they viewed the OT as historically true. How could God the Son forget to remind these Gentiles that the Chicago Statement on BIblical inerrancy is the mandatory sequel to the New Testament?

        • joejohnson043

          It’s not a slippery slope argument! It’s merely the observation of a deliberate agenda being implemented. Maybe it’d be more accurate for you to call it the ‘boiling frog’ argument….

          • barry

            Either theory works, you are still trying to argue that once we deny some biblical thing, it’s only a matter of time before other evils will follow. You might be surprised at the number of long-time Christian liberals who deny biblical inerrancy but who for decades continued to oppose homosexuality. Not every Christian liberal was spawned from Bishop Spong, ya know.

          • joejohnson043

            It’s happening now, by design, not by ‘slipping’, but as an actual agenda…. http://www.wnd.com/2017/01/married-lesbians-to-co-pastor-church-in-nations-capital/

      • jimoppenheimer

        Mark is the first Gospel, and it has not one word about any of these things. There are no infancy or birth narratives, and you don’t see people trying to get that horrid book Mark out of their Bible.
        Sounds like you’ve had some issues with gay folks which go way beyond anything under discussion here. I pray you find light someday.

        • joejohnson043

          Firstly, who says ‘Mark is the first Gospel’, and why should we embrace that view? Secondly, If you are going to embrace the the narrative of the enemies of the Church, why even bother going to church and pretending to be a Christian? You can just go to a progressive Unitarian Universalist Social Sunday Social hang instead! No one will judge you, do what you feel is best. But if you are professing to be a Christian who follows Jesus, then the scriptures matter. If they are not true, they are pointless to follow! Which is why there has always been such a concerted effort to undermine their legitimacy. Thirdly, nice ad hominem…

          • jimoppenheimer

            I never implied the scriptures don’t matter. I think they do. I am the one who pointed out what the scripture witness says, and you just glossed right by. You never seem to read what anybody says. If you won’t even make the effort to understand what the other guy is saying, you’ll never learn. Mark has no Infancy narrative. neither, for that matter, does the youngest of the gospels, John. So you have two infancy narratives, and they don’t really corroborate one another. That was my point. You ignored the main point. I guess you know I’m right, and you’re outta ammo, eh? Do you think we don’t all notice how you avoid the topic and go somewhere else?

          • joejohnson043

            “In the beginning was the Word, and the Word was with God and the Word was God… ” is John’s ‘infancy narrative’…

    • barry

      “How Our Lord got here is unimportant;”
      ——But the god you serve clearly thought that subject was important, or he wouldn’t have placed it in the bible.

      You say “I’m not sure why this is such an issue”, but my comments were clearly meant to rebut fundamentalists who say belief in the virgin birth is one of those beliefs essential to salvation. Obviously, my comments wouldn’t bother those who hold a more liberal view.

      I was only trying to show that Mark’s silence on the virgin birth, when combined the silence of every other bible author and story character (excepting Matthew and Luke, of course) really is a silence that screams, and therefore, there is plenty of scholarly justification to say the canonical nativity stories are nothing but pious fictions, and thus hardly “essential doctrine”.

      • jimoppenheimer

        I’d have to agree that how Jesus got here is indeed unimportant, just as all of that other stuff about Xmas is no big thing. The BIG thing is the Crucifixion and the Resurrection.Easter is so much greater a festival in actual Christian terms than Xmas. Can you have Easter without Xmas? Of course you can, and that’s precisely the first Gospel’s take on the whole thing. Mark has nothing to say about Xmas, but nobody’s going around suggesting we get that seditious Mark OUT of our Bible!

        He’s silent on the virgin birth? Well, he did not discuss Kosher laws either. Why not? Because that wasn’t what he was talking about.
        The virgin birth may or may not be important to anyone, but it surely has nothing to do with salvation. You’re entitled to your own opinion, but not to your own facts.

        • barry

          Well Papias said Mark was careful in the written gospel to omit nothing of what he remembered from Peter’s preaching. If that is true, then there was no virgin birth to “omit” in the first place.

          And because Mark is exactly ‘repeating’ Peter’s preaching in written form for the church at their request, you cannot argue that perhaps Mark didn’t wish to repeat things they already believed. They also already believed Jesus died for their sins and rose from the dead, but he repeated that stuff to them anyway.

          So your excuse “that wasn’t what he was talking about” makes things easier for you than actual church history would allow.

          The point is that skeptics who say the virgin birth stories are pious fiction, have plenty of reasonable and scholarly justification for their view.

          • jimoppenheimer

            I agree. Mark doesn’t say anything about any of this stuff.

            Does that mean it’s not true? of course not. However, Mark does not place importance of stuff he doesn’t mention. Papias, whoever that is, is not in conflict with anything I said, so far as I can gather from what you write.

            I am agnostic about the virgin birth, since God does what God decides She wants to do, whether it makes sense to you or me or not. It does not seem necessary at all, but that doesn’t mean it is not true. Ultimately, the virgin birth concept is based on the assumption that God couldn’t take being in a sinful womb. This demeans God’s power.

            I love celebrating the various feast days commemorating the Incarnation of Our Lord. It’s not as awesome as Easter by a long shot — which was the point originally which you just don’t get — but it is awesome all the same.

          • barry

            “Papias, whoever that is…”
            ———You should know who Papias is, if you are going to do what conservative Christians do, and try to explain Mark’s silence in a way consistent with the historical veracity of the virgin birth. Read Eusebius’s “Church History”, book 3, chapter 39.

          • jimoppenheimer

            Maybe. Maybe not. It is certainly utterly unnecessary.
            I am sure that conservatives’ hearts are in the right place, but when I read them, I just see bitterness, rage and anger.
            Mark is what it is. The writer thought that certain things were important, and others weren’t. All the rest is idle speculation, your opinion notwithstanding.

          • barry

            Your liberal take on things likely means you aren’t the sort of conservative that my arguments are primarily aimed at. If you aren’t going to go to the extreme of saying I am unreasonable or wrong to deny the historicity of the virgin birth of Jesus, then I think we’re done here.

  • barry

    “Secondly, it truthfully doesn’t matter if the virgin birth is not accounted for in all of the Synoptic Gospels and the Gospel of John. If something is stated even once in scripture – that is sufficient for you to expound upon, as it is inspired by God and profitable for teaching,”

    ————But Eusebius said in H.E. 3:39, that Papias said, Mark was Peter’s interpreter and his written account “omitted nothing” of what he remembered Peter to have preached. Here’s your options:

    1 – Eusebius got something wrong, thus appropriately impeaching his general credibility to one degree or other.

    2 – Papias got something wrong, thus appropriately impeaching his general credibility to one degree or other.

    3 – Peter preached the virgin birth, but Mark didn’t remember this, thus appropriately calling into question any theory that says Mark, the author, was divinely inspired to so author.

    4 – Peter preached the virgin birth, Mark remembered it as he was writing, but “chose to exclude” this because his originally intended audience already believed it, and he didn’t feel the need to repeat what was already believed. But Mark was writing to a “church”, and presumably they believed already all the things Mark mentions, such as Jesus’ baptism, miracles, healings, forgiveness of sin, debates with Jews, dying for sin and rising from the dead…yet Mark “repeats” all of THESE things. So once we exclude the “because he didn’t want to repeat what they already believed” excuse, Mark’s reasons for silence on the virgin birth accordingly become more sinister toward the fundamentalist viewpoint.

    5 – Peter preached the virgin birth, Mark remembered this while composing the written gospel, but chose to exclude it because he thought the doctrine was false.
    People can usually be counted on, when honest, to exclude mention of things that they believe are more likely false than true.

    6 – Peter did not preach the virgin birth, that’s why mark doesn’t record it. But if that is the case, then we can conclusively show that the earliest apostolic preaching said nothing about the virgin birth, which is not surprising given that the apostles all through the book of Acts are allegedly providing unbelievers with the abslolute minimum doctrines to be believed for salvation, and in Acts we still find no virgin birth.

    Richard Bauckham says this “omitted nothing” phrase from Papias talking about Mark, was mere second-century literary convention, not to be taken literally, hence, Mark can omit something while also having non-literally “omitted nothing”. But a) Papias doesn’t apply this to Matthew, suggesting he thought “omit nothing” was only true of Mark; b) Bauckham only gives one second century example, hardly enough to force the argument his way; c) some scholars say Papias’ description of Mark is apologetic and defensive, which means he was insisting that others who accused Mark of omitting things, were actually wrong to say that (i.e., Papias meant “omit nothing” literally).

    Jesus said “on the CONTRARY” in his answer to the women in his audience who mentioned his mother being blessed to have given him birth. Luke 11:27-28. That word “contrary” indicates a full 100% disagreement he had with this woman’s basic belief that Jesus’ mother has something to do with the gospel message. It’s such a forceful disagreement with her that, if the account is historically accurate, Jesus did not think issues of his mother were merely “less” important than others, he thought issues of his mother had “no” importance to the gospel. He did not say “Furthermore,” or “Moreover”, but “on the CONTRARY”. Worse, Jesus taught plenty about how to get saved, so his own silence about his own virgin birth can be reasonably interpreted to mean that he didn’t think the circumstances of his birth played a part in those doctrines minimally necessary to be saved.

    Can apologists, like jailhouse lawyers, contrive excuses for anything in the gospels? Yes. Does that suddenly mean the fundamentalist interpretation of Jesus here, which leaves room for his virgin birth to be essential doctrine, is the most natural interpretation of his direct disagreement with her? No. The most natural interpretation of his unqualified disagreement with her is that he believed nothing that was minimally required belief for salvation, involved issues of his mother to any degree. And obviously, you can “hear the word of God and do it”, as Jesus said, without needing to believe Jesus was born of a virgin.

  • Clarke Morledge

    Brother Gilbert: This is a sober verdict you lay upon pastor Andy Stanley.

    After reading your blog article, the comments below, and Dr. Gerald Harris’ honest and humble admission of mischaracterizing Andy Stanley’s sermon, would you be willing to retract the relevant, negative critique you offer in your post, and publish even a modest correction? Harris is not convinced of Stanley’s tactics, but he is convinced of Stanley’s orthodoxy:

    http://christianindex.org/andy-stanleys-approach-virgin-birth-different-not-wrong/

    I admire your desire to uphold the Truth as revealed in Scripture, but out of interest in being truthful with regard to Andy Stanley, would not such an update to your post be appropriate? Would that not best assist in upholding the integrity of the efforts of the “small town pastor,” as you are defending?

    “Feed the sheep,” yes, but we are also called to reach out to the lost sheep as well.

    • Gilsongraybert

      Hi Clarke, thank you for taking the time to read and comment (charitably, as well). The charge is indeed sobering, one I weighed whether or not I ought even to begin with. In the end, the next two sermons do indeed bolster his own adherence to these doctrines, as well as him suggesting they matter, but the problematic point (which is my thrust in this post as well) is that he still says it isn’t integral (or necessary) to the story – but it is, especially in light of OT prophecy regarding the virgin birth, but more importantly, the virgin birth, by necessity, is something that specifically sets our understanding for His nature (both fully divine and fully human). Without this, Christ would have inherited the sin nature of Adam. Take a look at the ebook posted, specifically the chapter on the virgin birth. It is only about 15 pages and can more adequately meet the issue than I can in the comments. The Nestorian controversy is at the heart of this whole thing.

  • Emily Elizabeth Windsor-Cragg

    Honestly. More thought police. “JESUS” says, “Ye shall know the tree by its fruit.” Okay? Not by what the tree is thinking or learning about fruit. BEHAVIOR is where we see where the fruit falls from the tree–NOT DOGMA. Stop with fighting over opinions about dogma. I’m sick of this, dividing over dogma. That’s not what loving each other as brother is about, fighting over dogma and doctrines.

    • LT

      Is that a dogma that you shouldn’t divide over dogma?

    • Lambchopsuey

      Yet Christians hating and attacking each other has been standard since the earliest days of Christianity:

      Now I urge you, brothers, to watch out for those who cause divisions and obstacles that are contrary to the teaching you have learned. Turn away from them. – Romans 16:17

      Now we command you, brothers, in the name of our Lord Jesus Christ, to keep away from any brother who leads an undisciplined life that is not in keeping with the tradition you received from us. – 2 Thessalonians 3:6

      If anyone comes to you and does not bring this teaching, do not receive him into your house or give him any greeting, – 2 John 1:10

      “Christians, needless to say, utterly detest one another; they slander each other constantly with the vilest forms of abuse, and cannot come to any sort of agreement in their teaching. Each sect brands its own, fills the head of its own with deceitful nonsense, and makes perfect little pigs of those it wins over to its side…” – Celsus, 2nd Century CE

      “The enmity of the Christians towards each other surpassed the fury of savage beasts against man.” – Ammianus Marcellinus, 4th Century CE

  • Robin Warchol

    I think it would be better to quote the sermon and the context of the sermon before going off on this tirade. It is curious why a die hard Calvinist all of the sudden wants to quote different Catholic saints from the past to use to pound on another Protestant Christian who isn’t even part of their particular group or Church. While yes, the virgin birth is the basis and is extremely important and essential as opposed what some others commentators have said here, but to call for him to resign and quit the ministry when you have no authority to do so shows a lack of charity and your own camp has some major dogma issues as well.

    • bobnelsonfr

      Jesus gave us one commandment, “Love God and your fellows”; and John insisted, “Anything that distracts from love is a lie”.
      The virgin birth is a distraction.

  • David Duchene

    ..just what exactly did Mr. Stanley say? – please give entire context.

    • HamburgerHelper1

      …And if he did take something out of context just imagine how he might very well interpret the Bible.

    • Lambchopsuey

      I would prefer to hear HOW the context changes the meaning of the passage in question. “You’re taking it out of context” is a standard Christian dodge technique to try and poison the well of justified criticism.

  • Jaybee

    Dear Young Man – your arrogance is not becoming of one who wishes to one day have the honour of pastoring a church.

  • joejohnson043

    I suspect he knows exactly what he is doing. When I hear some of his sermons, and the direction they seem to be going, Gracepointe church in Franklin, Tennessee comes to mind, and I’m just waiting to see how long before he openly advocates for homosexual marriage…..

    • Ficino

      I hope he does so openly advocate. It will be just and right.

  • Sven2547

    Complete Biblical inerrancy is is logically and philosophically untenable. It demands the utter rejection of critical thinking, as well as the denial of many truths.

  • John P. Fenner

    Questions (in no order of importance), for Mr. Grayson’s Professors:
    –When was the Last Supper? (Passover, or the day before, per John?)
    –How did Judas die?
    –Where did Paul go, after his conversion and recovery in Damascus?
    –Which Creation story in Genesis is correct?
    –Which is the true ending of Mark?
    –Why does the double meaning of “born again”, in Jesus’ talk with Nicodemus, work in Greek, but not in Aramaic–which Jesus spoke?

    My former Pastor (educated at Northwestern, up the Coast from Moody) said:
    “You have to remember that the Bible was written by Jews, for Jews. There are some propositions that it will defend to the death–That ‘there is one God.’ For others, ‘on the one hand…, and then, on the other hand…’.”
    (See Gamalial’s speech in Acts about Jesus as the Messiah, for an example.)

    • Lambchopsuey

      Was the jeezy “ministry” three years as per John, or less than a single calendar year per the Synoptics?

      Seems pretty skimpy for any sort of important mangod, doesn’t it? Especially since he didn’t accomplish diddly!

  • John P. Fenner

    –As to Rev. Stanley’s “descent into liberalism” (a code-word for you know what),
    Jesus is clear about who will go to hell and why, in Luke 16:19-31 & Matthew 25:40:
    The rich denying the poor, food and healthcare.
    –This tells where politicians who vote to cut food stamps and repeal the ACA are going, but what about the clergy, who endorse them from the pulpit?

    • What Bible are you reading from !?!?

      But you are right, people who fail to provide food and clothing for the poor are hellbound…apart from Jesus.

    • Lambchopsuey

      Oh, sure, but there are PLENTY of other definitions of who will go to hell and why, likewise attributed to the same jesus. It’s simply a case of YOUR cherrypicking vs. everyone ELSE’s cherrypicking. It’s a huge problem – the bible is not consistent at all and that has resulted in over 46,000 different, mostly *warring*, sects, all proclaiming to have a monopoly on “Truth”.

  • Daniel G. Johnson

    Why should I even know who Andy Stanley is? Is he as accomplished as Wolfhart Pannenberg?

    • Redboyds

      Pannenberg isn’t accomplished,
      he’s dead.

      • Daniel G. Johnson

        Ah, but you knew that he is dead.

        • Redboyds

          Yeah, so what?
          Like all other left-wing, post-Christian theologians, he never converted anyone to Christianity. A megachurch pastor touches more lives on one Sunday that Pannenberg and his ilk ever could. Liberals have no faith, so they cannot propagate faith. I’m sure he’s in hell with the thousands of other false teachers.

          • Daniel G. Johnson

            Not that I am a Pannenberg disciple, but he was not a liberal. He was also neither an Elmer Gantry with a big pre-fab thin-walled metal building…which I think makes local “mega” pastors feel more mega than they really are. Someone should have coined the term “building envy”. I think I just did.

          • Redboyds

            Yes, it’s funny how people in shrinking churches hate and envy people in growing churches. The liberals have got nothing people want, that’s why they’re dying.

            Elmer Gantry was a fictional character in a novel published in 1926, so it’s curious that in the 21st century libs always point to him as the example of a shyster preacher. I guess when your church is dying it’s natural to just randomly lash out. Btw, the fictional character Elmer Gantry didn’t have a church at all, he was a traveling evangelist.

          • Daniel G. Johnson

            That Gantry still abides puts the “conserve” in “conservative”. As for “church”, McGantry Inc. has none. Would you like fries with that?

          • Redboyds

            Give us some specifics. Tell us the names of the Elmer Gantrys of 2017.

            Seems like you just enjoy insulting evangelicals, based on a book published in 1926. It’s 2017, so tell us who the contemporary Gantrys are.

            I’m betting you belong to a shrinking congregation and denomination.

          • Daniel G. Johnson

            Huh? My first comment was that I didn’t know of the Gantry here concerned…and I’m content with that. I see their buildings, but I have no reason to enter.

  • Ficino

    Mr. Gilbert, according to your ID, you are a seminary student. You are therefore certainly not in any position of ecclesiastical authority over Mr. Stanley. He who ministers by the light of his own private judgment must, to be consistent, allow others of other denominational stripes to minister by the light of their private judgment.

    • Is Mr. Stanley under ecclesiastical authority or Pastoral oversight at all? I legitimately do not know, although I suspect not.

      • The Bohemian

        He is accountable ti a board of Elders.

        • Perhaps, perhaps no. That’s a game these megachurch leaders play where accountability is just a buzzword.

          • The Bohemian

            I attended the church for a number of years. He really is accountable to the elders. He even talks about how import it is for the pastor to be *under* the authority of the elders. He is no Mark Driscoll. He has humility and honesty.

          • Stanley strikes me as sincere, and so I’d grant that he’s capable of being honest as much as we sinners are able. Humble on the other hand….let’s just say that I’d like to hear that he is listening to his critics. That would take humility.

          • The Bohemian

            From listening to his messages, I conclude that he absolutely listens to, and takes seriously, criticism. I can recall many occasions when he has “eaten humble pie”.

          • Glad to hear it 🙂

          • The Bohemian

            Glad to have been able to witness it 🙂

    • Johnj

      Defend not man. No we should not mock one another but do battle for the spirit of truth, battle for the power of the holyspirit, battle for what Jesus commanded. He said we would do greater works than him. Even Jesus walked from glory to glory over TIME. It’s no different for us. Die to your flesh and go from there. Then you will observe in the spirit beyond what you see now. Andy isn’t equipping the believers for the real power of the Holy Spirit that reveals all truth and breaks yokes.

  • paganmegan

    Now I know what Jesus was talking about when he accused religious leaders of straining the gnat and swallowing the camel. Which is a great sin: Not believing the bible to be inerrant, or treating it like an idol? Sigh. Clearly we’re due for another reformation.

  • ElectricStrawberry

    SO much division in the protestant world, everybody reading from the same Bible and supposedly being led by the same Holy Spirit. Either the Holy Spirit is messing with people or He is schizophrenic. How can so many different churches be reading from the same scripture and being led by the Holy Spirit and be so diametrically opposed to each other, confusing. Where is John 17:11-21,22 in this mix? I just can’t believe this is what Jesus had in mind with His prayer in John 17. We all believe in Jesus but disagree about everything else, not exactly what I would refer to as being “one”.

    • Of course, there’s another explanation, one that thousands of Christians are arriving at every single day: that Christians aren’t actually talking to anything divine or supernatural, and their tens of thousands of denominations of bickering, squabbling, feuding believers are led by just people who are (mostly) doing their best with their own interpretations of an ancient document.

      Is a malevolent or insane trickster god better than no god at all? It seems so.

      • ElectricStrawberry

        Luther’s principle implies that each individual Christian may interpret the Bible as he or she sees fit. Does his view not naturally support what some have called “the right of private interpretation?” Many have accused Luther of paving the way for just such an individualistic approach to Scripture, which has eventuated in pluralistic, sectarian, heretical, schismatic Protestantism (25,000+ distinct church groups/denominations worldwide today). So question is: Who is right in their theology? And again, how does John 17:11,21,22 fit into this mix? Where is the oneness Jesus prayed for i John 17? Where can anybody go to get a clarification of interpretation? There has to be a place or person that can be accessed to come to a clear understanding of Scripture. If the Bible is the final authority for Christian practice, then what was the authority for the first 400 years of the early Church? The New Testament wasn’t canonized until late in the third century. So how did the Church survive without a canonized New Testament? Must be by way of Tradition, after all the Bible is a book of Tradition.

        • Aaron Clarke

          It’s almost like we need a reliable system where we can test different truth claims. Maybe a system where people propose falsifiable hypotheses, formulate tests to verify or falsify these hypotheses, apply these tests, analyse the results and determine if the hypothesis was true or false, and then have other people do the same thing and all publish their results.

          • ElectricStrawberry

            Well, Aaron Clark, there is a reliable system in place and has been for 2000 years. Some people may not like this but I have found just such a system in the Catholic Church.

          • Lambchopsuey

            there is a reliable system in place and has been for 2000 years

            And THAT’s why there are over 46,000 different sects of Christianity today, boys and girls, most of which insist that theirs is the only correct theological interpretation, and most of which insist that the others are wrong and false.

            So much for that “reliable” system…

        • Lambchopsuey

          That’s the problem with a “revealed” religion – everybody feels the same right to “revelation” and the same authority that Paul tried to lord over everyone else. “Revelation for ME but not for THEE” – doesn’t tend to play very effectively.

      • Nivek Yentrouc

        It isn’t interpretations we’re discussing here, it is denial of Biblical truth and doctrines long considered sacred by the church. The Virgin Birth isn’t something you can set aside and not lose one of the essential beliefs that Christians must hold. Whether you’re a Calvinist or an Arminian, that’s an interpretation. The Virgin birth, like the Trinity are non negotiable.

  • HermesParsifal

    You sure generated a lot of words for someone who didn’t know what they were talking about. Next time try getting all the facts before calling for someone’s head.
    http://christianindex.org/andy-stanleys-approach-virgin-birth-different-not-wrong/

    • Gilsongraybert

      I have already addressed this below; see the last comment at the end of the thread.

  • sec

    Hey Grayson,
    Maybe you ought to actually finish seminary and pastor a church for a couple of years before you write a scathing criticism of a fellow brother in Christ who is as solid in his theology as any pastor that I have heard. I am a born again Christian who knows the Word of God well and have attended Andy’s church since its inception. The mission statement of our church is to “lead people into a growing relationship with Jesus Christ” and along with that “to make our church a place that unchurched people love to attend.” Andy may, at times, be unorthodox in his preaching style to fulfill the mission statement, but he is very orthodox when it comes to grace and TRUTH. It is ludicrous to think that Andy denies the virgin birth and is heretical in his teachings as you infer in your article–and it is laughable that you, a seminary student are asking him to consider stepping down. Maybe you should re-read Matthew 18:15-17 and take that advice before you use PUBLIC forum to attempt to rake a fellow believer over the coals. Satan is having a field day as he sees Christians wasting their time putting each other down instead of furthering the kingdom. And, by the way, for your information, I have seen thousands of people come to the Lord through Andy’s ministry–I will pray that you will be as successful in your ministry in leading people into a growing relationship with Jesus Christ.

    • Johnj

      People love defending the people of the world and ignore the truth of the holy spirit. There is ZERO HOLY SPIRIT in his church because he is not allowing himself to be lead by him. It’s a spiritually dead church, the people are dead, their music worship leaders don’t know how to lead in PRAISE. Praise brings in the anointing of God whuch breaks yokes. If you know the Bible like you’re bragging then you should KNOW this. You can’t fake worship either. The music team are just performers performing FOR the WORLD not truly for GOD. Just watch and observe everyone through the SPIRITUAL ATMOSPHERE on Sunday there. I’m not taking about the moving melodies that ignite your emotions.

      • sec

        You obviously have something against North Point and Andy. So don’t go back!!! And, I have a lot more productive things to do than to respond to your ignorant statements. (You might want to proofread what you write in the future, too. Typos don’t give a lot of credence to the writer.)

        • Johnj

          I challenge you to invite the holyspirit in. Please go to service there on Sunday and regularly ask God to help you discern. I’m not saying to quit going there. I’m fact keep going but while you’re there do this and he will reveal the hidden things beyond human understanding. You trying to sound intelligent by criticizing my typos is so superficial and typical of the world. I’m not surprised by your disposition. Renew your mind. Don’t ignore what Jesus told us. He gave us the holyspirit. In that entails ALOT. This should be the basic truth to Christians. The joly spirit guides, leads, convicts, instructs, etc. Andy does not allow the actual move if the holyspirit to lead. He is a surface layer Christian. Don’t be afraid to ask Jesus to give you the truth. Ask him if he is satisfied with that church, that teaching, that worship. Tell him to reveal the truth to you. Don’t lean on your own perception and understanding. Allow the holyspirit to guide you now. Let your ears open!

    • Johnj

      Also please tell us how is he equipping the saints vs what Jesus instructed us clearly in his word? He also said we fight not against the flesh but against principalities. What does that tell u in light of this world? Andy himself isn’t equipped. Have you noticed that he never equips the saints to pray for your circumstances…he’s more relaxed about it and just indirectly calls it “it just happens” whether it’s an illness or a catastrophic event etc. Are you kidding me? Sometimes it’s demonic forces causing these events yet Andy isn’t helping the saints grow in gifts and seek the holyspirit more and more. God has commanded us that we would do more than what Jesus did. Giving money to the poor or doing missionary work isn’t enough. We are fighting a war in the spirit. Do you not see it? Look at what other pastors are accomplishing in God’s kingdom. The real work! Not just accumulating money to give away. That’s easy to do! There is too much flesh leading north point! It stinks in God’s presence. Not every Christian that confesses Jesus is the son of God is saved. The grace card isn’t a security pass while not letting your left hand know what the right hand is doing to sin away. The old saying “God Loves is no matter what we do, who we are”. The self deceiver’s excuse to keep embracing the worldliness and sin yet holding a meal ticket purchased for heaven. Lol no way, it’s not going to happen that way. I feel sorry for those blinded by their own dust. In the end, we will see. But right now there is a lot of real spiritual work to do in the kingdom.

      • sec

        Obviously you are insinuating that Andy is unequipped while at the same time is not saved. I guess that God gave you the authority to criticize, excoriate and denounce those who YOU deem unworthy as well as judge who is saved and who isn’t (in addition to) having the knowledge of that which “stinks is God’s presence.” (??????) Hmmm. And please, don’t insult my intelligence by calling it “discernment.”

  • 3C

    Dear Grayson,

    You’re just jealous of Andy Stanley. Plain and simple. It oozes between each word of your complaint at his success. Andy Stanley has lead and continues to lead and expand his teaching of our Lord and Saviour Jesus Christ to reach the masses. His passion for teaching and reaching is unsurpassed. Andy’s message is exhilarating to all walks of life without judgement or condemnation and is exactly what this world needs. His method of teaching is spot on! He reaches young and old alike, all are welcomed! I attend BBC on a regular basis and love the fact that Andy breaks it down and gives you the history along with Gods word.

    Now, you Sir, need to take a step back and rethink, pray upon and ask for guidance and understanding from Jesus Christ to lift the cloud of misinterpretation and open your mind and heart for it seems to me that your sight has been muddied.

    Oh yeah, last but not least, “Thou Shalt Not Covet Another’s Church or Congregation”

    Don’t take yourself so seriously Grayson, it’s not you they will follow, it is Jesus they will follow. Be a leader not a hater.

    • Johnj

      Maybe try defending Jesus and not Andy. Is Andy equipping the people to do greater works than Jesus? Are u seeking after that? What are you truly seeking. Don’t lie to yourself or God.

  • Nivek Yentrouc

    1 Corinthians 1:18 For the message of the cross is foolishness to those who are perishing, but it is God’s power to us who are being saved.
    1 Corinthians 1:21 For since, in God’s wisdom, the world did not know God through wisdom, God was pleased to save those who believe through the foolishness of the message preached.
    If Gods word isn’t sufficient, I agree, we need slick salesmen… Not

  • Doug

    After reading the comments, I must admit how content i am to have left Christianity.

    I cannot stand you people.

    As for Andy Stanley, he was start of my path in leaving this religion. I’ve never met such a piece of shit in my entire life.

    • Johnj

      I know exactly what you mean. He has to try to swoon the members with his bull intelligect and dissecting of adjectives to impress them. They actually think he’s doing amazing work for God! Lol! This is the only tactic he can use because he obviously isn’t allowing God to truly use him in all truth in the spirit. Andy isn’t spirit lead. He is WORLDLY lead reciting the biblical words. He’s just an average worldly person doing kind things here and there like the rest of the world. Nothing different. Same old stuff years later. His charity giving is like the thing that covers the true VOID and EMPTINESS of the holyspirit in his church. Otherwise they would look ONLY like a concert music venue hall. BIG JOKE OF THE AGES.

      • Isn’t it just weird that you think that, but Doug has a totally different perspective, and 3C below has another one entirely of just how Jesus-y this guy Andy Stanley is?

        How on earth can you reconcile these three completely opposing viewpoints?

        Doug thinks (correctly) that no gods are involved at all in Christianity, and that Andy Stanley is reprehensible.

        YOU think that gods are totally involved in at least parts of Christianity, but not the part Andy Stanley inhabits, and that he does a lot of nice things but isn’t quite as wonderful as he would be if he were Jesus-y enough for King You.

        3C thinks that gods are not only totally involved in parts of Christianity, but that at least one is heavily involved in the part Andy Stanley inhabits, and that he’s quite a lovely person who exhibits every quality of a properly Jesus-y leader.

        Doug is, again, the correct one here. But of you two Christians, you can’t both be correct (though you could both be wrong). But neither of you will ever be able to argue the other into agreeing with you. You both have Bible verses you think back your opinion up, and you both think you have a foolproof argument supporting your case.

        It’s just so laughable. It’s like it isn’t even the same color sky in your world. How do you buy groceries, get to work and home again, talk to people, and do normal human stuff when you have no common frame of reference for judging reality?

  • Johnj

    I’ve heard and seen this man preach. This isn’t preaching. He’s no different than just a platform speaker that spends all his energy ILLUSTRATING narratives of biblical events and dissects adjectives and verbs to look like he’s emphasizing something so grandeur that the audience thinks it’s amazing or miraculous. Lol not so fast with this BS already. I’d love to call myself a preacher and start gabbing my mouth like a storybook teller. Chapter 1, ”The disciples followed Jesus……..and they sat at the rock…….it was a HUGE rock probably 100 people could fit on it…then Jesus stood up……..like the Incredible Hulk……tough like the Incredible Hulk…….blah blah blah. Talk talk yack clanging cymbals full of nothing. Are these really believers at the church??? More like “audience” members at a concert or life instruction class or bible book story time. Where is the real preaching to equip the believers? We should be doing greater things than what Jesus did..it says in the word. Buckhead Church is just a charity organization with concerts and life discussion meeting groups. This is no different than what the world offers. There is ZERO anointing in this church. There is ZERO holyspirit at this church. This is surface layer Christianity. He never acknowledges the holyspirit in DEPTH. Because he himself has no true conviction and a dying to his flesh self. People want an easy Christian life and want to still live and think like the world and think they get a PASS GO card from God. Don’t let the left hand see the right is doing right? I’ve been to several services and people don’t worship. They just sit there trapped watching a concert. There is NO TRUE WORSHIP. Don’t fool yourselves. Don’t FOOL GOD. We pray God will PURGE through this church and clean it with his spirit. May he remove anything and anyone that needs to be removed from his house.