North Point Community Church Senior Pastor Andy Stanley has stated that Christians need to “unhitch” the Old Testament from their faith.
In the final part of a recent sermon series, Stanley explained that while he believes that the Old Testament is “divinely inspired,” it should not be “the go-to source regarding any behavior in the church.”
In making this pronouncement, Andy Stanley does two things that drive me batty about Evangelical Christianity.
The first is that he accepts the literalistic hermeneutic that dominates Evangelical Christianity as normative. Once you do that, then his idea to “unhitch” is just about the only thing left to do. It never occurs to him that Christians–and Jews like Philo–have tackled this problem a long time ago and dealt with it, without denigrating the Old Testament the way Stanley does. But taking lessons from the Patristic witness is something that Stanley, like most evangelicals, is allergic to.
The second–and in some ways worse than the first–is this:
For Stanley, the difficulty lay with the Old Testament and his concern that many Christians are turning away from the faith because of certain passages in the Hebrew Bible.
For evangelicals, and especially those like Stanley, church is an endless popularity contest. Fortunately Our Lord thought otherwise:
“In truth I tell you,” answered Jesus, “unless you eat the flesh of the Son of Man, and drink his blood, you have not Life within you. He who takes my flesh for his food, and drinks my blood, has Immortal Life; and I will raise him up at the Last Day. For my flesh is true food, and my blood true drink. He who takes my flesh for his food, and drinks my blood, remains united to me, and I to him. As the Living Father sent me as his Messenger, and as I live because the Father lives, so he who takes me for his food shall live because I live. That is the Bread which has come down from Heaven–not such as your ancestors ate, and yet died; he who takes this Bread for his food shall live for ever.” All this Jesus said in a Synagogue, when he was teaching in Capernaum. On hearing it, many of his disciples said: “This is harsh doctrine! Who can bear to listen to it?” But Jesus, aware that his disciples were murmuring about it, said to them: “Is this a hindrance to you? What, then, if you should see the Son of Man ascending where he was before? It is the Spirit that gives Life; mere flesh is of no avail. In the teaching that I have been giving you there is Spirit and there is Life. Yet there are some of you who do not believe in me.” For Jesus knew from the first who they were that did not believe in him, and who it was that would betray him; And he added: “This is why I told you that no one can come to me, unless enabled by the Father.” After this many of his disciples drew back, and did not go about with him any longer. So Jesus said to the Twelve: “Do you also wish to leave me?” But Simon Peter answered: “Master, to whom shall we go? Immortal Life is in your teaching; And we have learned to believe and to know that you are the Holy One of God.” (John 6:53-69 TCNT)
Maybe it’s time we unhitch ourselves from Andy Stanley…