29 May 2013

Adam and Eve and Andy Stanley

A video clip has been circulating of Andy Stanley, pastor of North Point Community Church in Georgia, wherein the popular pastor makes some rather convoluted and ambiguous statements about creation, Adam and Eve, the infallibility of Scripture, and faith:

The original YouTube video was removed shortly after the original posting of this article. Many thanks to Mike Ratliff of Possessing the Treasure and Chris Rosebrough of Fighting for the Faith for wisely saving it before it disappeared. The video may be viewed here.

In spite of the confusion of Stanley's words, it does not seem as though he is affirming the fallibility of Scripture. At least, not intentionally. Nevertheless, his logic is flawed to the point of absurdity, thus rendering this particular "meet you where you are" approach utterly useless.

Stanley says,
The foundation of our faith is not the infallibility of the Bible. The foundation of our faith is something that happened in history and the issue is always 'who is Jesus?' That's always the issue. The Scripture is simply a collection of ancient documents that tells us that story. 
So when we talk about the Scriptures, and especially the reliability of the Scriptures, I think anytime that we can tie the Old Testament especially back to Jesus, we have done everybody, Christians and non-Christians alike, an incredible service by letting them know. . .You can believe the Adam and Eve story is a creation myth—so what?—who is Jesus?. . .
Here's why I believe this [Adam and Eve] actually happened. Not because the Bible says so, but because in the gospels, Jesus talks about Adam and Eve. It appears to me that He believed that they were actually historical figures and if He believed they were historical, I believe they were historical because anybody who can predict their own death and resurrection and pull it off, I just believe anything they say. . . .
The foundation of my faith is not an infallible Bible, it's something that happened in history. Jesus came into the world, walked on the earth, represented God, was God, and then rose from the dead. And that's a very, very important part of our approach to the Scripture every single week.
It may be true that one is saved by his faith in Jesus Christ, His person and work, and not in one's faith in the infallibility of Scripture. But if the Scriptures cannot be trusted in one area, then they cannot be trusted in any area, including what they declare about the Lord Jesus Christ. When the infallibility and authority of Scripture is brushed aside even a bit, what does this do to that faith in the Savior?

Andy Stanley relegates the Scriptures to "a collection of ancient documents" that tell the story of Jesus. Yet, what does Jesus say about the Word of God?
Sanctify them in the truth; Your word is truth. (John 17:17)
Heaven and Earth will pass away, but my words will not pass away. (Matt. 24:35) 
The testimony from Scripture about Scripture is vast and the verses supporting its authority as the Word of God are numerous. After all, Jesus Christ Himself is the living Word, is He not?
And the Word became flesh and dwelt among us, and we have seen his glory, glory as of the only Son from the Father, full of grace and truth. (John bore witness about him, and cried out, “This was he of whom I said, ‘He who comes after me ranks before me, because he was before me.’”) For from his fullness we have all received, grace upon grace. For the law was given through Moses; grace and truth came through Jesus Christ. No one has ever seen God; the only God, who is at the Father's side, he has made him known. (John 1:14-18)
And how can something that was breathed out by God be a mere "collection of ancient documents"?
All Scripture is breathed out by God and profitable for teaching, for reproof, for correction, and for training in righteousness, that the man of God may be complete, equipped for every good work. (2 Tim. 3:16-17)
Stanley goes on to demonstrate the flawed logic mentioned earlier:
Here's why I believe this [Adam and Eve] actually happened. Not because the Bible says so, but because in the gospels, Jesus talks about Adam and Eve. It appears to me that He believed that they were actually historical figures and if He believed they were historical, I believe they were historical. . .
To summarize: Andy Stanley does not believe that Adam and Eve were historical because the Bible says they were, but because Jesus, as recorded in the Bible, says they were historical figures. This does not make sense. Either the Bible is reliable as a source of trustworthy information or it is not. Yes, Jesus affirmed the historicity of Adam and Eve, but how does one know that He did? By reading it in the Bible.
And Pharisees came up to him and tested him by asking, “Is it lawful to divorce one's wife for any cause?” He answered, “Have you not read that he who created them from the beginning made them male and female, and said, ‘Therefore a man shall leave his father and his mother and hold fast to his wife, and the two shall become one flesh’? So they are no longer two but one flesh. What therefore God has joined together, let not man separate.” (Matt. 19:3-6)
The only true and authoritative record of the teachings of Jesus Christ, and of His life, death and resurrection, exists within the pages of Scripture. The only way to convey these truths, then, is to do so under the power and authority of the Word of God. One cannot toss aside Scriptural infallibility and authority, but then argue that something is true because Jesus said it is true, for it would not be known that Jesus said a thing at all if it was not recorded in Scripture.

Andy Stanley has demonstrated the inevitable confusion that results from pragmatic compromise. In his efforts to please even the critics, he has undermined his own argument and his own professed faith. It should not be an option for a Christian pastor to willingly diminish the importance and authority of the Scriptures. It is okay to believe—and to boldly declare—that the Bible is true. It is okay to affirm the historicity of creation as recorded in Genesis. To do so does not steer one away from Christ, but rather reveals that Christ was present even then, at the very beginning, as He created the universe (Col. 1:16), and as God promised redemption through His Son following the Fall (Gen. 3:15).

It would be a welcome thing if Andy Stanley would clarify these remarks and then go on to proclaim the whole counsel of God as written by God.
Long ago, at many times and in many ways, God spoke to our fathers by the prophets, but in these last days he has spoken to us by his Son, whom he appointed the heir of all things, through whom also he created the world. (Heb. 1:1-2)
Further Reading
What Did Jesus Teach About the Old Testament? (CARM)
Andy Stanley's 'Microcosm of the Church'
Ignorance of the Bible Is the Root of All Error


  1. Stanley seems to obfuscate by talking around issues IMHO. I do not think he does a good job representing God. Sorry to his fans.

  2. He's another ear-tickler. So what else is new?

  3. Three minutes chuck full of logical absurdities, and revealing statements:

    “Because of the way the scripture had been presented to me… it’s a house of cards...what else in here is myth?”

    This reflects very poorly on his father Charles Stanley, a famous pastor, whose sermons have saturated the TV airwaves for decades. Charles Stanley was presumably a primary “presenter of scripture” to his son. Was Andy Stanley’s foundation in the Bible so pitifully weak that one professor could dismantle his confidence during one class? So much for the effectiveness of Charles Stanley’s teaching.

    “The foundation of our faith is not the scripture…not the infallibility of the Bible…the foundation of our faith is something that happened in history…the issue is always: who is Jesus? The scripture is simply a collection of ancient documents that tells us that story…”


    We know precisely who Jesus is because that collection of ancient documents (i.e. Holy Scripture) tell us exactly who he is, and what he has done for us. And we can TRUST that historical record, not Andy Stanley’s bizarre and faithless opinions. Carol

  4. "Here's why I believe this [Adam and Eve] actually happened. Not because the Bible says so, but because in the gospels, Jesus talks about Adam and Eve. "

    The only way this convoluted assertion would make any sense whatsoever would be if the four Gospels would not be a part of the Bible... :) The fact that loonies like Stanley are taken seriously by thousands and thousands of people is a testimony to debilitation and degradation of this society. Wow.

    ~ Despeville

  5. "It is written" and "Have you not read" were Jesus' words repeatedly to people as well as Satan.

    Psa 138:2 I bow down toward your holy temple and give thanks to your name for your steadfast love and your faithfulness, for you have exalted above all things your name and your word.

    1Co 15:3 For I delivered to you as of first importance what I also received: that Christ died for our sins in accordance with the Scriptures,
    1Co 15:4 that he was buried, that he was raised on the third day in accordance with the Scriptures,

    I think this makes it clear that Scripture is foundational to biblical Christianity, faith, and the Christian life. Anyone denying this has bought into Satan's lie and echoes his words "Hath God said?"


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