Andy Stanley vs Jeff Durbin debate on "unbelievable"

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).


It is the personal responsibility of each to want to find the truth

You should really read this again :slight_smile:

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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…”

Not all traditions are incorrect and not biblical

Actually, I have heard Acts 17 many times by evidentialists and minimalists, and that is not even close to what Paul was doing, because Paul knew that as soon as he mentions that Christ was crucified and resurrected from the dead he would lose them, “because the preaching of the cross is FOOLISHNESS…” and he would be labeled, “moros” .
Furthermore, you have a lot of question begging i.e Christ, Son of God, resurrection.
Explain to me how Jesus is ‘the Christ’ without citing the bible.

that’s not heresy, is it?

When you subvert the authority of scripture, teaching that we don’t need, “thus saith the Lord” as a starting point for our authority, that somehow we can find truth outside of the bible, as if evidence is going to convert spiritually dead persons.

People forget that the bible is not just words on a paper or parchment. It is theopneustos

A post was merged into an existing topic: How to understand the New Testament wrathful God

Very well observed, well done.

I might only add…

Except maybe that time Jesus told us to “teach them to obey everything I have commanded…”?

I was going to point out this and others (e.g., “Tie him hand and foot, and throw him outside, into the darkness, where there will be weeping and gnashing of teeth.”)

For those who want to divorce that mean God of the Old Testament from our religion, I don’t think it helps them much to limit themselves to the “red letters.”

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Probably the same way Paul explains it to his Greek audiences without basing it on Jewish texts. Sure - he may draw in prophetic writings eventually as interest in Christ spurs non-Jews to take an interest in Jewish writings. But to start with their presumed dedication to Judaism would be … well … nuts! And Paul isn’t nuts. We go on to read of him (Mars Hill Sermon recorded in Acts) reasoning with and persuading them from Jesus’ resurrection, and even from things their own poets have said! Just as Pastor Andy indicated.

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Are you implying that Pastor Stanley is guilty of this limitation?

I choose to learn what Jesus teaches. But indoctrination (the Niece Creed) is brainwashing - a violation of free will.

I’m thinking that in the post above, Shawn is referring to the “Nicene” creed. [before any readers go off wondering if they should be looking into a “nephew” creed.]

I was simply engaging in what was said about him in the original post…

But I haven’t read enough of him specifically to stand by that assessment myself.

I too can’t remember whether or not Stanley made this claim. But the point should be well-acknowledged. There is no clean division that gets rid of all wrath by jettisoning the old testament. (Makes one wonder what Marcion was even thinking!)

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:joy: Marcion indeed! That made me laugh.

Even the red letters of Jesus in the gospels alone presents a bit of a problem. I haven’t studied Marcion in detail, but boy it makes me wonder what he did with the book of Revelation!

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I don’t know much about Marcion either (apart from him having the label of "heretic who wanted to get rid of the mean ol’ testament God). So setting him aside …

There is a serious issue to keep fleshing out here, that seems to me as a separate one from the Andy Stanley issue (hence my split off to the new thread earlier). But there or here … let’s talk. I see Stanley as essentially saying: “whatever on-ramp initially gets people into Christianity … go for it.” If it’s the O.T. cool and fine. If it’s the resurrection (as he thinks is the better and more applicable starting point for a gentile world) … cool and fine. Whatever your starting point, … come to Christ.

I see the wrath and cruelty issue as part of a theodicy discussion that (while related to why people may not like the old testament) is nonetheless a separate subject, and a worthy one for those who value the bible (all of it) to pursue. [And note, that Stanley specifically disavowed the charge that he actually wants to ‘unhitch from the old testament’ - sensational book titles and comments notwithstanding. -he teaches and continues to teach from it all the time.]

So anyway, what about all the “red-letter wrath”? I think there is a difference that we need to pursue, precisely because this is Christ we are talking about. I suggest that if we see how Christ lived his life, and who he reached out to and how he reached out to them, and given that we consider Christ to be God with us, we are hard put to imagine or interpret his teachings as revelatory of an ultimately wrathful God (i.e. a God where torturous wrath carries the day and supplants Love.) Especially if we begin to look at the rest of the New Testament apostles who absorbed and carried on Christ’s ministry. Faith and Hope might be a couple “rivals” to Love (which retains its superior position even over those two.) But nowhere are we given an indicator that hatred or wrath have wormed their insidious ways upward and into that trinity, (much less to supplant the leader of them.) So given all that, it behooves us (me anyway) to ask what it is the listeners were supposed to learn from these parables where wrath is on display. Because short of grabbing and isolating a few isolated tidbits here and there (from Revelation and such) we just aren’t shown (or taught) by Christ (or his followers) to emulate this wrath in the slightest. --which is strange if God is a wrathful God and yet Jesus does explicitly teach us that we must be perfect like our heavenly father is perfect.

So we have a choice: cling to the wrathful God notion on the dubious strength of a few proof texts scattered around - rejecting the bulk of the rest of the Bible (including and especially the new testament), or follow the entire bulk of New Testament teachings (and much of the old as well if one is attentive), while realizing we may need to revise our understandings of what these ‘asides’ from Jesus parables were for.

My money is on the power of exhortation in a Jewish era that where they were steeped in Divine threats of retribution to get them to repent. The wrath exists - no doubt about that. But is it a love-motivated (and therefore redeeming) wrath or a hate-motivated wrath worthy of Satan and his minions? I am strongly convicted it is the former (the “Jacob have I loved and Esau have I hated” passage notwithstanding). Whenever the scriptures speak of God hating, I think we can safely read the “hate” as being in quotes. If it wasn’t, then our faith is for naught (or we could say our faith is nothing at best, and terrifying at worst), and the “good news” would be nothing more than terror and a mockery of everything Christ showed us by his life. So those who want to cling to that on the strength of a few proof-texts and some man-made doctrines – good luck with that. Your punishment for believing it is … that you believe it. As for me and my household, we will look to Christ (may he cleanse from us all other desires.)

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Adding to that. Have they ever read the book of Revelation? That is a horror show, Probably worse than any apocalyptic script writer could even imagine.

I hear you, and significantly agree with where you’re going, it let me nuance just a bit.

Firstly, we absolutely should hate. Hate with deepest passion. When I see a child molested, when I see women trafficked formsex, when I see people abused in disdainful language, when I see the rich taking advantage of the poor,mwhenimsee orphans mistreated…

I submit that if someone doesn’t feel “hatred” at such things, then one is ungodly. For instance…

“Your New Moon festivals and your appointed feasts my soul hates.”

“look for able men from all the people, men who fear God, who are trustworthy and hate a bribe.”

“The boastful shall not stand before your eyes; you hate all evildoers.”

“I hate the assembly of evildoers, and I will not sit with the wicked.”

And from the NT…

“Hate what is evil, cling to what is good.”

So I think it is a bit simplistic it to say, we should not emulate his wrath in any way. We should, but we should do so in a qualified way balanced with the love and mercy God extends to even the worst sinner, recognizing that we ourselves, the worst of sinners, alsomreceived such mercy. Thoughts?


It still does boil down, as @Mervin_Bitikofer says, that we are all brothers in Christ, disagreeing (perhaps like Paul and Peter, John Mark, or differing like Apollos and Paul in approach–watering and planting)–and the difference isn’t that great. We are still trying to keep our eyes on Jesus. Thanks.

Maybe you should read Acts 17:16 again, and really look this time. The apostle Paul is constantly reiterating the Jewish texts i.e. v.26 “From one man, he made all the nations…” That man is Adam. The person that some Christians do not believe existed.