Thinking Out Loud

September 9, 2016

The Problem of All-or-Nothing Belief in Scripture

Filed under: Christianity — Tags: , — paulthinkingoutloud @ 7:17 am

There’s been a lot of flak online about Andy Stanley’s current sermon series, Who Needs God?* I don’t have time to get into all the various aspects of this, but I wanted to share with you a comment I left at an article by David Prince.  On the other hand, if you want to know where I stand, check out this short article by Thomas L. Horrocks.

Andy Stanley

So you’ve got an 18-year old, first year of college, and they are being bombarded with secular worldviews in general and an attack on the book of Genesis in particular and made to look foolish in the face of questions like, “How can you believe that story of all those animals getting into a large boat?”

It becomes an all-or-nothing proposition and we know statistically, for absolute certainty, that many of these students bail on their faith in that environment. But why should the New Testament gospel narrative suffer because of misgivings about Noah?

I think it is that context into which Andy Stanley is entering. Mostly, it’s uncharted waters. I’ve watched all the messages in the series so far and he is very forthright about what he believes and what he is hoping to accomplish. He stated that it is basically a single 3 1/2 hour sermon, broken up into seven sections, and yes, the first two would be introductory.

Personally, I love what he’s doing with this series. Would NorthPoint be my church if I lived in Atlanta? Maybe not. But through the internet I get a bird’s eye view of what they’re doing, and this sermon series reinvents the wheel when it comes to focusing peoples’ attention on the things that matter, and not making a person’s trust in the Noah story be the litmus test of orthodoxy.

Different? Yes. Radical approach? Certainly. But please don’t call it liberal. That is not the word you’re looking for.

*These are all good, but if time is scarce, scroll down and focus on weeks 3 and 4.


  1. The word I would use would be “inaccurate”. (review of Stanley’s sermon “The Bible Tells me so” starts at 40:00) To summarize. Stanley is completely inaccurate when he says the Bible did not exist before 325 AD. He completely ignores what was the actual early Christian view of the “Bible.” Also, his very definition of the “Bible” is just wrong. He goes back and forth between calling it just the NT or the OT and NT combined. For Jesus, Paul, the rest of the apostles and the early church Fathers, the Septuagint (Greek OT) WAS the Bible – the Word of God. And immediately after the letters and gospels of the NT were written, there was discussion of their validity as the word of God. Andy Stanley is simply ignorant of Church History.

    Comment by John Cleveland — September 9, 2016 @ 10:19 am

  2. I listened to Russell Moore’s podcast about his conversation with Andy regarding this issue, and it seems like his biggest issue is not having the spotlight on the Bible because then when pastors preach from the Bible the authority they are using is more or less their own. However I don’t think Andy is discounting the authority of Scripture, but (if I could use this –> symbol to mean “gives authority to”) instead of saying Bible –> Resurrection –> Pastors, he’s saying Resurrection –> Bible –> Pastors. And I agree with him (and you) if so.

    Comment by Jonathan — September 9, 2016 @ 1:17 pm

    • it seems like his biggest issue is not having the spotlight on the Bible because then when pastors preach from the Bible the authority they are using is more or less their own.

      Okay, I would agree with Moore that can be an issue, especially in some tribes where extra-Biblical revelation is more common. But I don’t believe it’s true of Evangelicalism as a whole.

      Comment by paulthinkingoutloud — September 9, 2016 @ 8:20 pm

  3. So how old is he? I don’t know if I made this up or modified something I heard someone else say…..but….when I was in my teens and twenties, I knew everything…when I was in my thirties I didn’t know anything…when I was in my forties, I KNEW I would never know anything….now that I am in my fifties….I don’t even know what the questions are anymore! The older I get the stupider I get and the more I realize the need to throw myself into the mercy and grace and Jesus and depend on Him alone…alone.

    Comment by Jim Davis — September 9, 2016 @ 8:02 pm

  4. Jesus didn’t get stuck on Noah. If the Father is drawing someone, who am I to withhold truth from them? Having said that, Paul said that all who call upon the name of the Lord will be saved. Then they grow in truth.

    But teachers ought to know better. Epistemologically, the Bible *is* the foundation of truth. We need teachers who boldly proclaim the whole Word of God, even when it might seem they’re saying too much. Of course, you need sensitivity to the Spirit when evangelizing.

    We presuppositionalists just recognize that there’s no higher authority than Scripture. It’s self-authenticating. If you needed something else to verify it, then that should be Scripture. And Scripture never tries to prove the existence of God, not with the Ontological Proof, the Teleological Proof, the Kalaam Cosmological argument, etc.

    Comment by John — September 10, 2016 @ 1:33 am

  5. I hope that I am understanding this correctly (please correct me if I am wrong), but if Andy Stanley is saying that Christians should not have confidence in God because of the Scriptures, but rather, we should have confidence in God because of The Resurrection, then…
    1) first, is it not blasphemy against God to speak against His Word?
    2) second, didn’t several of Jesus’ recorded statements in the gospels express His affirmation of the inherency, sufficiency, and authority of Scripture…prior to His resurrection from the dead. Seems to me that Jesus had confidence in God because, “behold, it is written”.
    3) furthermore, Jesus looked to Scripture for His authority when challenged, falsely charged, falsely arrested, falsely prosecuted, and falsely executed. He believed what the Scripture said, and not because there had already been The Resurrection, but rather He had confidence in the LORD His God to resurrect His Suffering Servant because of Scripture.

    Comment by Rob Holler — September 10, 2016 @ 11:36 am

    • I think the whole nuance of what Andy is doing here is being completely lost on people who haven’t experienced having a son or daughter whose faith is being cut to the core.

      Comment by paulthinkingoutloud — September 10, 2016 @ 9:45 pm

  6. Our faith is not in a book but is in a person, without whom, there would be no relationship with God to be had.

    Comment by Julie Kohl — September 13, 2016 @ 2:06 pm

    • It is true that our faith is not in a book. But the content of your faith in that person comes from a book. If the book is wrong then the content of your faith is likely wrong. That is a problem.

      Comment by davepatchin — September 13, 2016 @ 5:31 pm

      • Here and elsewhere, this is becoming a very chicken-and-egg type of debate.

        Comment by paulthinkingoutloud — September 13, 2016 @ 6:18 pm

      • I am not seeing/hearing/reading/witnessing that anyone has said that the Bible/God’s word/sacred Scripture is wrong. When I came to faith, I had only at that point heard John 3:16 verbally. It struck a chord with me because my mother had told us when we were small that God loved us. Since then, gratefully, the content of the Bible has come alive to me and grown my faith through God/Jesus/the Holy Spirit. Without them/him it’s a book. Co-leading discussions at my church, which always include unbelievers, people are drawn to Jesus/His grace/his mercy before they ever read the Bible. Except for your use of the “wrong” word, I bet we agree.

        Comment by Julie Kohl — September 14, 2016 @ 7:17 am

      • Hi Julie,
        We may agree. My main issue for Andy is epistemology. The resurrection proves Jesus was who he claimed to be. Jesus is who our faith is anchored in. Yet, what we know of the resurrection and Jesus comes from the Bible. It is the source material for your Mom’s statement that “Jesus loves you” and your discussions with unbelievers at church. If they are drawn to Jesus, it is intellectually because of the content of the book. If the book content is in error (which Andy assumes in his sermon) then your faith is in error. He’s flipping the equation to get away from defending the Bible, but the Bible is how people know Jesus. Either way, if one assumes the Bible to be in error, then our faith is either man made (what we choose) or in error (content from the Bible). I’m not sure this series is as helpful as Andy believes. But he’s smarter than me, so I could be wrong.

        Comment by davepatchin — September 14, 2016 @ 9:59 am

  7. […] the issue has never been his personal view of the authority of scripture. A friend of mine directed me to this post. As I told him at the […]

    Pingback by More on Andy Stanley and the role of scripture in the early church | Rev. Brent L. White — October 4, 2016 @ 12:17 pm

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