Andy Stanley vs Jeff Durbin on defending of the Old Testament
Andy Stanley vs Jeff Durbin
Who nailed it for this week? If there’s a bigger subject than how we view the Word of God and, most importantly how we apply it to our lives and to our witness to the world, then I wouldn’t know what it could be. And that’s exactly what was being debated online recently between a famous pastor with a controversial view on the question, and a rising apologetics star who knows the God’s Word inside out. The points and counter-points they both gave should have all Christian believers taking notice.
I’m Joel Fieri, Executive Producer of Christian Podcast Central. And this is “The Best Thing You’ll Hear This Week”
Redeeming cyber space this week is Unbelievable Christian Radio as it played host to a debate between Andy Stanley and Jeff Durbin on how to approach apologetics and evangelism in our current post-modern, atheistic culture.
Pastor Andy Stanley of North Point Community Church in Georgia just can’t help himself these days. It seems every time we turn around a video pops up where he’s taking some long-standing Christian teaching and turning it on it’s head, setting off a firestorm of reaction and criticism from all corners of the evangelical world. In recent sermons and in his new book “Irresistible”, he asserts that, in approaching today’s generation of un-churched young people, we as believers are not required to defend the Old Testament or of God with His people. Instead we need to “unhitch” from the Old Testament and point to the events documented in the New Testament and the New Covenant, centered around Jesus; His life, death and especially His resurrection. He sees his approach as more practical than theological.
Jeff Durbin of Apologia Church in Phoenix and also of Apologia Studios, a Youtube channel with some very interesting videos, offers an impressive defense of the Old Testament and it’s importance to the witness of the Church today. In response to Pastor Stanley’s practical rather than theological approach, Pastor Durbin asserts that our theology compels the practice, or the practicality of our approach, It’s a key distinction in what the two men are saying. Here is the link to the entire conversation. I suggest you take the time to watch and listen to the entire video.
What Andy Stanley is asserting here seems to me to be right in line with the progressive approach that’s taking hold in so many churches and ministries today. Relevance is key to opening doors for the Gospel. If the Old Testament is seen as too out of date and repressive, then we need to abandon any defense of it and it’s moral and theological assertions in our witnessing.
Jeff Durbin’s response to this is so good; Our response to the atheistic and secular world should be “an appeal to the self attesting authority of the Word of God. Always and in every case! We have the prophetic word of the Law and the Prophets, even above their eyewitness testimony.” In the New Testament, Peter and Paul always refer back to the law and the prophets to confirm the authenticity of Jesus and His resurrection and divinity. He also asserts that according to Paul, the problem isn’t that there is not enough historical evidence or logical consistency to offer the world. The real problem is that, although we all have a knowledge of God in our hearts, we suppress that truth in our hearts and we reject God’s self-attesting Word. Against this we need to assert the entire Word of God and rely on the strength of the Biblical world view and the Gospel itself.
There’s so much more here, and he’s so right on with this response. Let me just say that, in my experience, every time someone tries to tinker with or somehow “improve on” God’s Word to make it more palatable to the world, the more they open themselves up to heresy and disastrous falls from faith. That’s been the story so often in recent years, from the mainline Protestant Churches to the Emergent Church and now with a growing progressive Christianity. They all started their departures from orthodoxy, with the best of intentions, by rewording and/or replacing parts of scripture that seemed irrelevant or that didn’t meet people ‘where they are”. And without fail, removing or re-wording one part of Scripture leads to removing and re-wording more and more parts of Scripture. Happens every time. And every time the movement in question ends up in a different lane on the same theologically errant highway to hell.
So, props to Unbelievable Christian Radio for opening the dialogue, earnest prayer for Andy Stanley that God would guide and steer him in his influential ministry, and major thanks to Jeff Durbin of Apologia Church. His stirring defense of God’s inerrant and always relevant Word is the Best Thing You’ll Hear This Week.