The heavyweights are at it again. In this corner you have Andy Stanley, son of world famous preacher Charles Stanley, pastor of one of the largest churches in America and influencer of tens of thousands of pastors. And in this corner you have Albert Mohler, theological intellectual extraordinaire, president of the Southern Baptist Seminary and defender of the classical interpretation of all things evangelical. Fights like this might only interest denominational geeks like me, but believe me this is a heavyweight fight.
In a recent messaged entitled: Who Needs God – The Bible Told Me So, Stanley addresses a major reason that many people walk away from (or deconvert) from Christianity: an unbelief in the infallibility of the Bible. The Holy Scriptures are obviously the centerpiece of our religion. These are the pages from which we get our biblical stories and accounts of the life of Jesus. As civilization has progressed and scientific and archeological advancements have cast doubts on the accuracy of some of the biblical stories (mostly found in the Old Testament), Christianity during the mid-20th century heavily debated the infallibility of Scripture. Many mainline Protestant denominations (referred to by Mohler as ‘Protestant liberalism’) backed away from the claims of infallibility while most Evangelical denominations (including the Southern Baptist Convention) doubled down on those claims.
Stanley kicked the hornet’s nest again when he made the argument that this shouldn’t even be the argument. Our faith rests on a person (Jesus) and a historical event (the Resurrection), not on a book. Mohler responded with a strong rebuke and a tenuous leap from Stanley’s sermon to the father of modern theological liberalism, Friedrich Schleiermacher. So, the battle lines are drawn. From my ringside seat, the great standard bearer of the Southern Baptist Convention (Mohler) has come just short of accusing one of its favorite sons (Stanley) of heresy. Mohler’s article title explains it all: “Biblical Authority Denied . . . Again”. But don’t take my word for it. You can watch Andy Stanley’s full sermon here and Albert Mohler’s full response here.