Andy Stanley vs Jeff Durbin debate on "unbelievable"

Just use the transcript function in Youtube to search the text…

I think that these are good questions.

  1. To clarify, I think that Stanley wasn’t arguing that nonbelievers were not elect. Durbin is a Calvinist. Stanley is not. He is not agreeing with him about the election issue–he’s arguing from a millennialist position that would not agree with election–and calling him out. He was baiting Durbin to agree that from his own position, he’s not even supposed to be evangelizing. Durbin didn’t bite on that to follow it.

  2. Durbin’s argument is that we need to rely on the NT use of the OT as evidence. Because Paul and Jesus alluded to OT, that is the way we should talk to millennials and everyone else. Stanley argues that as most people like the New Atheists have no faith in the OT anyway, we should talk to them about where Jesus meets them–as the new commandment and revelation–rather than use the controversial OT.

  3. I agree that Stanley should not have interrupted Durbin. That was a major shortcoming. However, Durbin was repetitive and presented the tautology of “the reason we should believe is because of God’s Holy Word.” Thus, whatever is written is true. Thus, he says we have no other reason to believe than to read the Bible. Stanley’s point is that doesn’t work with someone who is taught that the OT has holes like evolution and other problems the New Atheists have found.
    I also wonder how Durbin argues with people of other holy books–Muslims, Hindus, Buddhists. Does he have any other reason than to argue from an ancient text? Is it just because of gut feeling that he accepts it?

  4. I found it interesting that Stanley seemed to be addressing post-Christian audiences in the Southeast (overevangelized), and Durbin, pre-Christian druggies (in some areas) and fundamentalists (in others). It reminded me of Enns’ interview with the pastor from Ontario, where his church tried to meld post-Christian and new converts. Post-Christians felt that the “all have sinned” approach was condemning of them, and new converts were glad to have their sins forgiven. They are two sides of the same coin, in some ways.

  5. This reminded me a bit of the debates between the Arminian John Wesley and his sometimes friend and sometimes opponent, George Whitefield, the Calvinist. Wesley focused on the “method” of meeting people where they were, whereas Whitefield was more Calvin focused, I think.

  6. It made sense to me that both can be right in some areas. Durbin was right that preaching originally to the Jews required that Jesus and the Apostles rely on their most sacred rock of their society and Temple–their Scriptures. However, Paul used Corinthian and Greek worship (such as to the unknown God) to appeal to the Greeks (“to the Greek I am a Greek,” etc)

  7. I felt uncomfortable with Durbin’s response that if others don’t accept the OT at face value, like Shapiro, it’s because of hardness of their hearts and sin. Sure, the NT authors appealed to the OT for the Jews; but they didn’t do it for the Greeks, knowing that as for Shapiro, it would be uninteresting. Also, the Calvinist idea of the Fall, especially as spoken of by some, isn’t easily accepted by many nones currently as being unjust.
    –WLC’s argument for the Resurrection was probably (I did not hear it) like Josh McDowell’s–great if you accept the NT account, but if you say that the writers wrote what they wanted, not convincing. I would have to read it myself to find out, though; but this would be another point in Shapiro’s favor. I’ve often struggled with trying to accept McDowell’s account because of that.

  8. In terms of the NT use of the OT, the twisting of Scriptures with sensius plenior (using verses which did not originally mean what the NT author said they meant) would not be convincing to many millennials today, especially those adherent to strict logic. I don’t personally find them helpful. (An aside: the NT authors and Jesus didn’t rely only on the OT; they also relied on miracles).

I would agree with Stanley in this respect.

Also, as my pastor (Brethren origin though he is), remarked, “antecedence does not indicate precedence.” Just because it happened in the scriptures doesn’t mean it’s what we should do.

  1. Durbin makes a mistake in the Timothy allusion to “other Scriptures” in that Scriptural definition of the time included a low level of trust, such that they included the Shepherd of Hermes, etc, that were not included in the canon.

  2. Stanley argues convincingly for his approach that Jesus and Hebrews both say that the OT covenant is obsolete, and that Jesus has a new commandment.

Thanks for the discussion.


For all the apparent animosity these two were supposed to have, by representing “different approaches”, they never really allowed their audience much room to see them as at odds (other than Stanley interrupting Durbin all the time - unable to restrain his own excitement to keep his own point front and center, I guess). They are two men who both obviously respect each other as brothers in Christ.

One of Stanley’s turns of phrase (or metaphor actually) that I thought productive was “the on-ramp”. Whatever a person’s “onramp” to Christianity, why wouldn’t we want that ramp available to them, whether it be the Old Testament, the Bible, testimonies of Jesus’ resurrection … or even anything else.

That set me thinking. There are both on-ramps and off-ramps to and from Christian faith. And not only should Christians not obstruct on-ramps, but perhaps they should also do something about the “off-ramps”. I think Biologos sees one of its main roles as that of trying to at least somewhat staunch the exit traffic away from faith that might be seen as the YEC exit-ramp.


The Qumran manuscripts are of the OT and various Apocrypha. For the NT, we have a few fragments from the 2d century, some of the books from the 3d, and some basically complete editions from the 4th.

Of course this is completely out of context. This is from the parable of the talents and the speaker in the parable is the King who left on a trip to be confirmed as ruler and gave 3 servants talents to invest for him while he was away. As well as rewarding those servants he also punished those who had opposed his appointment.

A post was split to a new topic: How to understand the New Testament wrathful God

I do think this is right. I remember in undergrad a minister explaining that there are some who struggle so much with a history of abuse from men that they can’t even contemplate God from the male characteristics standpoint that the Hebrew and historically Christian culture have used (after all, God is a spirit; there is no intrinsically male or female relationship there). They have to envision him with the “as a mother with a baby at her breast” type of images from Psalms and other areas. The obstacles are many, and willingness to listen to people’s fears does help


This is why I am a history buff. History is an integral part in today’s culture, which is why so many youth have no problem with communism or socialism.
Now, church history is equally important in the church. So many see Andy Stanley’s ideas as new and unique when in reality it is just old rehashed/repackaged heresies that have been long refuted and forgotten, only to be picked up by these Johnny come lately(s) again. Andy Stanley is not the first and he certainly will not be the last as long as we keep the church ignorant of it’s own history.

Please note: I do not conflate Christianity with the church (body of Christ). Such doctrines have all but eradicated Christianity in Europe.

One point Andy made that stuck with me on my initial listen was this in response to “What about the 10 commandments?” He noted that you could follow all ten commandments and still be a lousy spouse, employee, friend, etc… But there is no way you are let off the hook if you listen to (and Andy referenced some N.T. love passage here…) which gives us a much higher standard than the 10 commandments ever did.

The 10 commandments is not a list of rules for us to follow in order that we be a better (fill in the blank) It is a school teacher. It reveals to us what sin is, how sinful sin is, and how holy and righteous God is.

One of many of Andy’s mistakes is lumping the 10 commandments with the ceremonial laws. Since we dump all the laws, is it ok to now practice incest? Because, I see nothing in the NT that says we can’t. Stanley just takes that for granted as he does many other things.
Furthermore Jesus said, the most important commandments are to love God and love your neighbor, but those two commandments are a condensed version of the 10 commandments, because without the 10 commandments how does one know how to love God and love our neighbor?

> belief or opinion contrary to orthodox religious (especially Christian) doctrine.

If you can show me anyone in the bible that preached the word in this manner. I will grant you that.

Old? Very. Older than the church even. Christ and his apostles started all this in the formal sense, though one can argue that Christ already had all this percolating from far before as well.

repackaged? … I suppose so, as it must be somewhat for each new generation.

Heresies? No. I think the word you were looking for might be prophetic corrections. If I were you I wouldn’t want to be waving the heresy flag around over much. Might just quietly park that back in the closet for a rainier day and humbly beseech the Lord in prayer.

Long refuted and forgotten? Yes - all that probably applies. People always find ways to refute, and as a second defense at least forget the higher demands of Love.

And without Love they end up being useless toward everything that is finally important. You are correct that they can show us how much we need God, though, as history indicates, they had a propensity to fail even in that. Christ, in his sermon on the mount, blows the 10 commandments clean out of the water. Not as in - “these don’t apply any more”. But as in how “Love and care for your brother” is infinitely higher than and superior to the command: “don’t kill your brother.” Because the former totally subsumes and includes the latter and rises so far above it as to leave it in the dust, as the embarrassingly rock-bottom standard that it is. [and how much more embarrassing that we still fail even these low bars so often as we do?!]

We’re called to go with Christ on this one, Wookin. May he continue his work on each of us to that end.

I do not use it much only when warranted. Heresy means, _“belief or opinion contrary to orthodox religious (especially Christian) doctrine.”
When you subvert the authority of scripture, and cast doubt among biblical Christianity, then my friend. You are heading into heretical territory.
I say this with a heavy heart considering that Andy’s father is my pastor.

People always find ways to refute, and as a second defense at least forget the higher demands of Love.

To find such love, one must first search for truth, otherwise how do you know that you have a biblical love, and not a worldly love?

Christ, in his sermon on the mount, blows the 10 commandments clean out of the water. Not as in - “these don’t apply any more”.

The 10 commandments are not the beatitudes. The 10 commandments is not something we strive for, but something which Christ strives for within us. Break one law, you break them all; therefore it is impossible to keep them, which then demonstrates to us how perfect and holy God is, and how wretched we are.

9 of the 10 commandments carry over into the NT. The only is keeping the sabbath, because for Christians. Jesus is the sabbath, and rather worship God on one day. We now worship God everyday, because Christ dwells within us and abides in us.

But as in how “Love and care for your brother” is infinitely higher than and superior to the command: “don’t kill your brother.”

And to love and care for your brother is to not steal from him, not bear false-witness against him, not covet his wife etc… etc…

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And along with that I would say that to find truth we must love. The two seem to come as a packaged deal where one is never allowed primacy over the other so far as we could ever tease apart. You can probably tell I’ve been taken up with 1 John lately - chapter 3 starting with v. 11 all the way to chapter’s end. … but then chapter 4 too … where to stop!?

Don’t let your heart be heavy for Andy’s sake. His soul is in much better hands than yours or mine! And there are so many others starved for love right now.

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And along with that I would say that to find truth we must love. The two seem to come as a packaged deal where one is never allowed primacy over the other so far as we could ever tease apart. You can probably tell I’ve been taken up with 1 John lately - chapter 3 starting with v. 11 all the way to chapter’s end. … but then chapter 4 too … where to stop!?

Of course we must love, but we must love God first and foremost, and protect His word. Not allow it to be misapplied, twisted etc…then we show love to a brother or sister, and show them their errors by pointing them to the truth. God is not a liar, which is why we should always have a zeal for truth.

This is a great failing of Christianity today which violates “Seek and Ye shall find”, “knock and and the door will be open.” It is the personal responsibility of each to want to find the truth - telling people what to do is not what Jesus told us.

Translation [what most people hear those words to mean]: “…not allow it to be understood in any way differently from what my particular tradition dictates…”

Well, I know you are benevolent–and his parable of the Good Samaritan and of those who did/did not give to the needy would fit in with your nature–but they do seem to be reminders of what to do/not to do :wink:
Maybe I misunderstand you…
I agree that it is our responsibility to want to find the truth! I suspect that I agree with you 100% if I am understanding your note.

Hm. I thought Stanley said that he wasn’t saying the OT wasn’t inspired–just that it wasn’t the starting point for some folks.

that’s not heresy, is it? Paul started with the discussion of the Unknown God altar (Acts 17) and Greek poetry when visiting the Greeks, not OT verses that foretold the Christ. He said, “to the Greek, I am a Greek.” Greeks would have thought he was crazy if he started quoting “Out of Egypt have I called my Son” to them (I think so, anyway).

Durbin said that if we don’t go the way of using the OT first, and people decline the bait, they’re sinning. It seems to me that he’s gotten into a rut. Stanley said he was not against using the prophecies–just later. Or maybe I’m misunderstanding?

Thanks… And blessing.

I think was some fear (and understandably so) is that Stanley is advocating that the OT be discarded as uninspired and unreliable (evolution, genocide of the Canaanites, systematic murder and rape in Numbers 31 are all reasons why millennials would not feel comfortable with this confusing portion of the Bible). This is not what he is arguing in the debate, from my understanding. He is only saying that to the Greek, you’re a Greek; and affirming that the bedrock of our faith is not the whether we believe it was right to mix materials in a cloth, eat a cheeseburger, or whether the Earth is old, but to “know one thing only: Christ and Him crucified.” (1 Cor 2:2; note he is addressing the Greeks in this passage)


Dear Randy,
I think your understanding is correct. Free Will was required for the Prodigal Son to finally come home.
Best Wishes, Shawn

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Hi, Wookin_Panub,

I am not sure I understand why you are rejecting “mere Christianity” here. The message of “mere Christianity” appeared to work exceptionally well for C. S. Lewis in the 1940s, and many, many people have been drawn to faith in Jesus due to Lewis’ influence, and many continue to find faith in Christ today, through Lewis’ writings.

As for Andy Stanley’s message, he is a bit over the top on “unhitching” the Old Testament. But when it comes to the Resurrection as foundational for faith, that eventually led us to have the Bible (Old Testament and New Testament together), as we have it today, he is very much historically and Scripturally accurate.

Consider the Apostle Paul’s preaching in the Book of Acts. When Paul was engaged with his Jewish hearers, he always brought up Scripture. But when he engaged the pagans, such as the philosophers at Athens, or King Agrippa, Paul always made a beeline to the Resurrection, as a means of introducing them to person of Jesus. He hardly ever quoted Scripture to the pagans, for the simple reason that the Old Testament was never considered to be authoritative to the pagan!

Nevertheless, the history of the first few centuries of the church gives us plenty of historical record to show that the story of the Risen Christ dramatically transformed the entire Roman Empire, long before the complete canon of the New Testament was finally settled, in the late 4th century.

If that is not a compelling argument for the effect that Jesus’ resurrection had on many thousands of pagans, long before there was complete agreement on what to think about the Book of Hebrews, or the Book of Revelation, among Christians, then I do not know what is!

I do not see Andy Stanley denying anything about the power of the Scriptures to change people’s lives, for the sake of the Gospel. Rather, as he makes his case, it is about establishing a sequence of arguments, beginning with the Resurrection, then to the person of Jesus, who then validates the Old Testament, and ultimately, the New Testament.

For many in our culture today, who simply do not “believe the Bible,” this seems like a sound approach. Otherwise, Christians can get derailed in conversations with non-believers about important, yet nevertheless lower priority issues, like homosexuality, evolution, violence in the Old Testament, etc.

Jeff Durbin’s approach only makes sense with someone who already “believes the Bible” to be God’s Word, but who nevertheless rejects being obedient to what the Word of God teaches, who gets hung up on the Bible being a book of “do’s” and “don’ts”, etc.

Does this not shed a little more light here? It is not a change in theology, but rather a change in apologetic approach. The end goal is the same: introduce the non-believer to the person of Jesus, with the ultimate aim that the Holy Spirit will reveal the “self-authenticating” message of God’s Word, as Durbin describes.

It is ultimately the difference between evidentialist apologetics (Stanley) and presuppositional apologetics (Durbin).