Andy Stanley vs Jeff Durbin debate on "unbelievable"

Agreed, and enjoying the conversation.

I have said it this way in the past: if I get to heaven, and discover that there are far more people than I expected to see… I will not be lodging a complaint. I will be absolutely delighted to see that God‘s mercy extended further than I had anticipated or expected. And admittedly, part of me hopes that this will be the case.

However, in my responsibility of sharing the gospel, and of taking seriously Christ’s warning that wide is the path that leads to distraction and narrow is the way to life, as well as all his teaching that certainly sounds very unquestionably that their distraction is permanent and eternal…

I find it behooves me to take those warnings seriously as I proclaim the gospel. I would rather find myself admitting I was mistaken, and that more people are in heaven than I expected, then the alternative. I would not want to find myself surprised to find that many whom I assured would be in heaven actually are not there; or that I in any way discouraged people from evangelizing or mission work by assuming that they would be saved, only to find out I was mistaken.

I would rather be in heaven laughing with someone about my errors, who I had previously erroneously warned may not be there… Rather than standing at the judgment And seeing someone stand condemned who I had assured would have nothing to fear.

Another further thought of mine too …

I am also painfully aware of the Hebrews 6 passage (starting at v.4) about the impossibility of a return to repentance by those who once they have been enlightened … tasted the heavenly gift … shared in the Holy Spirit … if they then fall away. Or the end of Hebrews 12. Those are probably the most damning (so-to-speak) passages for the notion of unlimited grace. The question for me is whether I let my reading of those isolated passages determine my reading of nearly all the rest of the New Testament, or do I let my reading of the New Testament be my filter and context for understanding those passages? I hope to err on the side of the latter.

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Daniel, I register no disagreement here.

The idea that we are to start with the Resurrection does not mean that we stop talking after that. The point about the Resurrection is, as Andy Stanley argues, that this is all part of a sequence of argumentation, that eventually gets us to where Jeff Durbin, in many ways, ends up.

Jeff Durbin’s approach tends to front load everything in the Bible into the conversation, such that we never get to the heart of the matter, because so many folks, at least the ones I tend to interact with, want to derail the conversation with talk about a Young Earth, etc.

This is the heart of the matter: Did Jesus rise from the dead, or did he not? And if he did, what are the implications of that? If Jesus never rose from the dead, then Jesus has no victory over sin and death, and therefore, Jesus possesses no ultimate authority. Paul is pretty emphatic about that in 1 Corinthians 15.

Otherwise, if Jesus never rose from the dead, then who really cares if Jesus spoke in parables, or talked about eternal life, or the difficulties of Christian discipleship?

This is about the method of our apologetics, not the content of our theology.


Point well taken! I share in your sentiment too. And unfortunately it would appear that such displeasure in this regard (if indeed we must think of God in these terms) is already a locked in certainty: “Lord, did we not prophesy in your name, and cast out demons in your name, and do many deeds of power in your name? Then I will declare to them, …”

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What translation are you using? The exact language is καὶ μὴ εἰσενέγκῃς ἡμᾶς εἰς πειρασμόν, and every translation I know of says “into.” I’d expect it to read διὰ πειρασμόν if it were to be translated “through temptation.”

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Dear Daniel,
I assume you are quoting with the as Codex Vaticanus or Codex Sinaiticus? There are no original fragments that I am aware of from Matt 6. I am using the new versions of the NT (Greber) which eliminate the earlier falsifications from the scribes.

Jesus asked God to take this cup from Him (Luke 22:42) but God did not, instead God stood by Him with His angels as Jesus was tempted by Satan and suffered at the hands of men.

In addition, I am not by nature a conspiracy theorist, but consider this.

Origen was the greatest intellectual in the third century church, and the most influential of all the Greek Church Fathers. His writings covered many different subjects, including commentaries on most of the books of the New Testament and many of the Old Testament. Late in his life, in the mid-third century, he wrote a Commentary on the Gospel of Matthew. This was the first commentary ever written on this Gospel so far as we know. It covered the entire Gospel in twenty-five books. Only eight of these books have been preserved in the Greek language in which Origen wrote. A Latin translation made in the sixth century has preserved the contents of several additional books. There are, furthermore, numerous fragments from the commentary preserved in ancient writings. The Commentary of Origen on the Gospel of St Matthew (Oxford Early Christian Texts)

Origen had the complete Gospel of Matthew to comment on in the third century. Why was the majority of his work destroyed and what happened to the full text of the gospel that he commented on? To me, it is not a coincidence that the books missing of Origen’s coincide with the missing fragments that were replaced with the Codex Sinaiticus.

I glanced at it, and unless you can prove to me otherwise by showing me the underlying Greek text that Greber was utilizing for his “translation”, I will state my very firm conviction that Greber’s work is a very loose paraphrase of whatever Greek text(s) he was using.

Edit… not to mention, I read his introduction, and he acknowledges right up front that parts of his ”translation” are not actually translation from any extant manuscript, but rather were given to him directly by divine spirits…??


Yes, Daniel. Greber was a catholic priest who was taught by a spirt of truth, fulfilling Jesus promise to explain everything to us. (John 14:17 15:26 16:13) Greber tested the spirit as 1 John 4 instructs and was instructed by the same to write a modern, corrected version of the NT.

I am sorry, Wookin_Panub, but I am not following your argument here.

The logic of the Resurrection is pretty clear. Paul teaches in 1 Corinthians 15:17, “And if Christ has not been raised, your faith is futile and you are still in your sins.” Bible or no Bible. According to the evidence, Paul writes this statement, most probably at least 10 years (if not more), before the Gospels and Acts were written, though the oral tradition that gave us the Gospels and Acts (at least up until when 1 Corinthians was written), obviously did exist.

Jeff Durbin, on multiple occasions, teaches about the “self-authenticating” nature of Scripture, and makes this point several times in the “Unbelievable?” discussion, and yet you deny it. (???)

Most of everything else you are saying, where I can understand it, merely proves the very point I am trying to make. People disbelieve the Gospel, not based on lack of evidence, but because of “hardness of heart” (Ephesians 4:18). But this does NOT mean we should not present to the unbeliever evidence…

You said, "Paul used the ‘unknown god’ as a springboard into the gospel message." That sounds like yet another example of what Andy Stanley is trying to promote. I do not agree with everything Stanley says, but that sounds like a coherent argument.

At this point, I am just puzzled. I would be glad to continue having this dialogue with you, but I am simply not comprehending what you are saying.

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Clarke, I probably need to sit down and watch the video before I comment much more…

However, just from others comments, I think I will find myself somewhere between the two. I completely agree with the centrality of the resurrection for evangelism and and Apologetics… not simply because I personally recognize it as a central foundation for further believe, but also in following the Bibles example. It was Jesus resurrection, and not all of his other words, that ultimately convinced even his own disciples! Then we also have Paul’s language where he says that God proved everything else to people by his raising Christ from the dead.

but I don’t see what that has to do with what seems the rather extreme measure of divorcing the old testament entirely, as it seems Stanley is advocating?

I’ll try to watch the video to understand better here before too long. But any insight you might have in the meanwhile would be very appreciated.

I would agree that he is not divorcing the OT. If you watch this video and also his 3 part sermon series, you’d probably see it better. It’s more of a response to the New Atheists, according to his sermon (and in part on the video). Thanks. Also, there’s an article about his not being a Marcionite above. I would be interested in your thoughts.

Daniel: See Randy’s response to your comment, as Randy has it right.

I have read Stanley’s book, Irresistible, and frankly, I think Stanley is just using his preacher’s prerogative of making overstatements about the Old Testament, in order to jolt his readers into considering a different paradigm. His last few chapters of the book are far more compelling than the first half (or more) of the book, even though he does share some really excellent insights. Despite such overstatements, I do recommend Stanley’s book as worth reading.

So, I am with you in that I am in the middle between Stanley and Durbin. Just reading some of the comments even here is “evidence” enough that Andy Stanley and Jeff Durbin were talking past one other quite a bit.

But I definitely lean towards the evidentialist approach of Stanley, as he is at least grounding his claim for Christian truth in actual evidence, even if the non-believer rejects the evidence, due to some other reason (Ephesians 4:18, hardness of heart).

Durbin, in my mind, relies too much on an assertion, namely that the Bible is the Word of God, in a manner that is not convincing. Why the Bible? Why not the Koran, or the Book of Mormon, or the Bhagavad Gita, etc.?

Instead, I believe the Bible to be the Word of God, ultimately because I believe the evidence that Jesus rose from the dead.

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Interesting, and thanks for the thoughts. This would get us way off topic but if interesting I find myself halfway in the middle between presuppositional and evidentialist apologetics myself. I think it is absolutely critical to examine and challenge the presuppositions of inquirers, as I think you had earlier observed, If someone doesn’t want to believe, they simply will refuse to see evidence. On the other hand, I simply cannot fathom the argument of the “hard-core presuppositionalists”. Particularly for the very reasons you mentioned. Cornelius van till, and others of his school, like to use the “Scripture claims to be the word of God therefore it is” style of argument. And I’ve never heard a presuppositionalist explain why that same logic cannot apply to the Koran.

I Grant, of course, that if the word of God is truly his word, and the spirit testifies to our hearts that it is, then there is a place for recognizing that process and the Spirit testifying with our spirit and leading us into all truth. But to use that fact as if it is a formal, logical argument seems utterly bizarre to me.

Absolutely concur, and the same for me. That absolutely was the starting point, at least.

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Just a few random thoughts …

I agree. What you’re talking about is “righteous anger,” which is the only proper reaction in the face of evil. The problem is, we have become so used to the everyday, mundane evil that surrounds us that it takes something truly monstrous to catch our attention long enough to be outraged. The Holy One, who dwells in inapproachable light, is not like that. God’s hatred of evil is thorough and complete.

Love the sentiment, hate the saying.

We don’t like to think about it, but without punishment, there is no justice or morality. Both concepts vanish into thin air as meaningless.

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:+1: heartily concur.

Not off topic for me.

The whole discussion between Stanley and Durbin comes down to evidentialist apologetics vs. presuppositional apologetics. Evidentialism is not enough, as in, “follow the evidence, wherever it leads,” if for the main reason that cognitive bias always plays a role, whether we are conscious about it or not. Presuppositions can not be ignored.

But if presuppositions can not be verified with evidence, then they are merely assertions. The BIble, the Koran, the Book or Mormon… they all become mere assertions as to their status as “God’s Word.” Why those like Cornelius van Till and Jeff Durbin did/do not see this flaw is simply astounding.

That being said, there is the role of the Holy Spirit in all of this. Thanks!


All evidentialists use presuppositions and all presuppositionalists use evidence. The main presuppositionalist argument is we do not allow the hard hearted, dark in their own understanding, rebel unbeliever to be the judge of God while stealing from God; whereas evidentialist present evidences with the understanding that the unregenerate sinner has the capacity and the willingness to examine the facts with fairness, which Romans 1 rejects.
As for Islam, Mormonism, Jehovah Witnesses etc… It is a myth that presuppositional apologetics doesn’t work on theistic religions or that the Quran, book of Mormon are on the same footing with the bible. Dr. Greg Bahnsen can attest to that. The Quran and the book of Mormon contradict themselves. The bible does not.

(Proverbs 2:6-8) “For the LORD gives wisdom; from his mouth come knowledge and understanding; he stores up sound wisdom for the upright; he is a shield to those who…”

(Colossians 2:3) "In whom are hid all the treasures of wisdom and knowledge…”

I don’t know about Durbin, but van Till simply took the noetic affects of sin too far. “You can’t reason with an unbeliever because his/her mind is too stained by sin to think rightly about God or the Bible.”

Edit: Put the last sentence in quotes because it represents van Till’s thinking, not my own.

No further than what the bible says.

(Ephesian 4:18) “They are darkened in their understanding and separated from the life of God because of the ignorance that is in them due to the hardening of their hearts.”

If you follow Wookin_Panub’s posts you will see the connection. Cornelius van Till is the philosophical root to presuppositional apologetics. Greg Bahnsen was his most well known disciple, and most probably Durbin learned it from Bahnsen.