Watchmen On the Wall - FRC

Prayer Targets: Andy -- New AND Old!; Military Transgender Ban; Religious Liberty for Christian Schools?; Life Issues

January 23, 2019

All Scripture is given by inspiration of God, and is profitable for doctrine, for reproof, for correction, for instruction in righteousness, that the man of God may be complete, thoroughly equipped for every good work. (2 Timothy 3:16-17 NKJV)

Dear Praying Friends,

Atlanta megachurch Pastor Andy Stanley is a provocateur who knows how to get attention. In his January 7, 2019 Relevant Magazine article entitled, "Why Do Christians Want to Post the 10 Commandments and Not the Sermon on the Mount?" Stanley wrote:

Participants in the new covenant (that's Christians) are not required to obey any of the commandments found in the first part of their Bibles. Participants in the new covenant are expected to obey the single command Jesus issued as part of his new covenant: "as I have loved you, so you must love one another."

Such comments from this article and other settings have set the blogs ablaze. Indeed, Stanley appears to be dangerously close to departing from 2,000 years of orthodox Christian teaching. In fact, Dr. Al Mohler, President of the Southern Baptist Theological Seminary and who had previously jousted with Stanley over this issue, had this to say:

We are looking here at the ancient heresy of Marcion, who argued that the Old Testament must be repudiated by the church. Marcion, who lived about the years 85-160, taught that the Old Testament revealed a Creator deity who is not even the same God who sent Jesus. Unsurprisingly, he also held to a heretical Christology. The Old Testament deity was repugnant to Marcion, who argued that Christianity just make a clean break from Judaism. The Old Testament, he taught, reveals a vindictive law-giving creator deity who bears no resemblance to the merciful redeeming God revealed in Jesus Christ. As Irenaeus, one of the most significant church fathers argued, "Marcion himself divides God in two, saying that one is good, the other judicial, and in so doing takes God away from both."

Marcion was embarrassed by the Old Testament, and so are many modern people. Andy Stanley, at the very least, seems to fear that embarrassment in others, even if he does not identify with it himself.

He spoke this way with Jonathan Merritt: "I'm convinced that we make a better case for Jesus if we leave the Old Testament or the old covenant out of the argument." We can make a better case for Jesus than the case Jesus made for himself?...

To be clear, Andy Stanley does not endorse the full heresy of Marcionism, which was universally condemned by the early church. He actually appears to aim for the heresy of Marcionism, and his hearers are certainly aimed in that direction. He clearly says that God is the same God in both testaments, but says that he reveals himself in two completely different ways. Just like Marcion, he argues that the church must "unhitch" from the Old Testament. He actually says: "I am convinced for the sake of this generation and the next generation, we have to rethink our apologetic as Christians, and the less we depend on the Old Testament to prop up our New Testament faith the better because of where we are in [the] culture."

The church cannot "unhitch" from the Old Testament without unhitching from the gospel Jesus preached. Speaking of the Old Testament Scriptures, Jesus said "it is they that bear witness about me." (John 5:39) ...

Several years ago, I argued that Andy Stanley represents a new face of theological liberalism. In our day, he is playing the role that was played by Harry Emerson Fosdick in the early twentieth century. Stanley may not intend to play that role -- he sees himself as an apologist.

So did Fosdick. He sought to rescue Christianity from itself, from its doctrines and truth claims... He also sought to "unhitch" Christianity from the Old Testament. In his famous 1923-1924 Beecher Lectures on Preaching at Yale, Fosdick called for a new, modern understanding of the Bible. This would require jettisoning what were for him and many others the embarrassing parts of the Old Testament. He described the effort to retain much of the Old Testament as "intellectually ruinous and morally debilitating." To the young preachers of that day, Fosdick argued: "The Old Testament exhibits many attitudes indulged in by men and ascribed to God which represent early stages in a great development, and it is alike intellectually ruinous and morally debilitating to endeavor to harmonize those early ideals with the revelations of the great prophets and the Gospels."

Here we go again.

Speaking of the Sermon on the Mount, which Andy Stanley professes to revere, Jesus said plainly near the beginning:

"Do not think that I came to destroy the Law or the Prophets. I did not come to destroy but to fulfill. For assuredly, I say to you, till heaven and earth pass away, one jot or one tittle will by no means pass from the law till all is fulfilled. Whoever therefore breaks one of the least of these commandments, and teaches men so, shall be called least in the kingdom of heaven; but whoever does and teaches them, he shall be called great in the kingdom of heaven." (Mt 5:17-19)

No one has biblical authority to declare the Old Testament null and void for Christians. Jesus and the Apostles used and taught the Old Testament. Indeed, Jesus' New Commandment "love one another," is a summary of the Ten Commandments: Love reveres God above all (God is Love) and loves his neighbor. Love honors parents, does not murder, is faithful to one's spouse, chooses not to lie, steal, or lust over his or her neighbor's spouse or property (Dt 5:6-21). Must Christians discard the Old Testament and with it the moral law, wisdom, history, faith (Heb 11), life, prophecy, and revelation of Jesus Christ? The obvious answer is a resounding: "No!"

  • Please pray that Andy Stanley and those who have embraced his pronouncements will listen to and hear those so deeply troubled by it, including many highly trusted conservative theologians, pastors, teachers, historians and rank and file bible students. May there be correction and clarification, so that others are not misled. May God use this controversy to help a new generation of pastors and leaders, already under pressure from the modern American culture, to hold fast to the entire Word of God, Old and New Testaments, without compromise, "rightly dividing the word of Truth." May they be able to successfully ground the upcoming generation with the Truth from the entire Bible. May those given to prayer, pray to our Heavenly Father with boldness and great faith, that comes from all the powerful promises God has given to His people. (Pr 6:23; 10:17; Pr 15:31; Joel 2:28; Mt 4:1-10; 13:52; Lk 24:27; Acts 2:17; Eph 4:10-16; 2 Tim 3:16-17Jude 1:3)

Finally, please pray over these matters and add them to your prayer list: 1) The Supreme Court has ruled that the president's "military transgender ban" may stay in force until the 9th Circuit Court rules on the merits of the case. They did not, however promise to take up an appeal if the liberal 9th Circuit rules against it; 2) The bill to prohibit taxpayer funding of abortion by making the Hyde Amendment permanent failed in the Senate last week, with two Republicans voting against it, two Democrats voting for it, and five Republicans not voting for various reasons; 3) Prominent Christian Senator James Lankford (R-Okla.) expressed regret that given the current makeup of the House and the 60 vote threshold in the Senate that no positive pro-life legislation will be able to pass during the next two years (hear Sen. Lankford on -- begins at minute 38:47). At the March for life, President Trump promised marchers that he would veto any pro-abortion legislation that reaches his desk; 4) Planned Parenthood committed more abortions last year than in the previous year, and made more money, much of it from taxpayer dollars. Congressional efforts to defund the abortion giant failed last year. The Trump HHS produced an administrative rule to prevent Title X funding from going to abortion providers and valiant new pro-life efforts are underway. FRC President Tony Perkins is urging state legislatures to aggressively pursue defunding Planned Parenthood and other pro-life legislation after the Courts ruled that the state of Texas can choose to cease funding for Planned Parenthood; 5) Consider and pray over the similarities between Martin Luther King's struggle and the current struggle to preserve religious liberty; 6) Second Lady Karen Pence and the vice president are standing up to attacks against their faith and her decision to take a part-time teaching position at Immanuel Christian School in Northern Virginia, where she taught for 12 years when Mike Pence was in Congress.

So much more to say and even more to pray for. As always, thank you for praying!