Andy Stanley: Five reasons people leave the church

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Bruce Rettig's picture

Skilled teachers of defective theology, like Stanley, have large followings.

Bruce

O taste and see that the Lord is good:

Blessed is the man that trusteth in him. 

Psalm 34:8

Bert Perry's picture

I remember that back in the day, Andy Stanley actually separated from his father because he was troubled of how Charles Stanley pretty much ignored the Bible's "one woman man" requirement for pastoral ministry, and the elder had recently been divorced.  He's come a long way, or perhaps he already doubted Sola Scriptura and the First Fundamental and was just hiding it well for success' sake.

Notice how he's done it, though.  It's all hedged behind the argument that it's all about Jesus--which it is--and he also follows his bombshell "sneak attack" on Sola Scriptura with four arguments that, while they might be tested statistically, seem at least plausible.  Pretty slick.

Aspiring to be a stick in the mud.

Bruce Rettig's picture

And where do find who Jesus is and why it matters? The Bible.

His position is self-refuting and presents a false either/or choice.

Bruce

O taste and see that the Lord is good:

Blessed is the man that trusteth in him. 

Psalm 34:8

Paul J's picture

I attended Deep & Wide yesterday and listened to Andy present this content for the second time in 12 months.  The first time was uncomfortable and much more confrontational then yesterday.  I think his book, "Reclaiming Irresistible" has tuned-in his thinking and position.  His talk was very dispensational as you would expect coming from a Dallas grad.
 

Throughout the day one thing that is completely evident is Andy's concern for this and the coming generation who are walking away from faith.  The access to information through the media channels available today are tears away at the foundation of young people's faith and that voice is getting louder and slicker. We know resurrection of Jesus is real we have eye witnesses, so though they may create doubt and create angst with Old Testament events the resurrection is the foundation.

His one slide in the 4 sessions that kind of capstones the day was "If someone predicts their own death and resurrection and pulls it off, we should go with whatever that person says."

I'm working through my notes and looking forward to reading the book.  I do know that working with young adults has given me a new concern and passion to not lose them to slick talking atheists like Guy Harrison.

It was clear to me he isn't walking away from The Bible.  But where is this going? Is it a pragmatic like Paul in 1 Corinthians 9:19-23, or is it a slippery slope and he is weakening the high position we hold for the Scriptures?.

Fred Moritz's picture

Do you see the flaw in that reasoning?  Our faith is in Christ.  How do we know of Christ? "In the volume of the book it is written of me" (Ps 40:6-8; Heb 10:5 6). All we know of Jesus is what is written in that "non-contradicting book."

TylerR's picture

Editor

I've listened to some of what Stanley has said in his self-destructive tailspin into Marcion-ism. He is deeply confused. He has a ThM from Dallas. I imagine they're embarrassed by their former student. I'm certain they teach their Seminary grads better than this.

Tyler is a pastor in Olympia, WA and an Investigations Manager with a Washington State agency. He's the author of the book What's It Mean to Be a Baptist?

Bruce Rettig's picture

Paul,

Throughout the day one thing that is completely evident is Andy's concern for this and the coming generation who are walking away from faith.  

If this is Stanley's concern, is his solution really the correct approach? I've listened to several of Stanley's sermons and interviews where he talks about people walking away from the faith. I don't know whether he believes the regenerate heart can turn away from God or not, it sounds like he does. But for the sake of simplicity, let's only consider people who are in church and walk away in unbelief because they don’t think the Bible is a credible source. Is his minimalistic approach the solution? Is reducing saving faith to believing the historian Luke when he says the tomb was empty the way to keep a young adult in church? I don’t think so.

Paul’s method of grounding people in the faith was to preach the whole counsel of God (Acts 20:27). It is in the whole counsel of God that Jesus, the Resurrection and the gospel and all of its significance are given their context and meaning.  

Bruce

O taste and see that the Lord is good:

Blessed is the man that trusteth in him. 

Psalm 34:8

CAWatson's picture

Paul J wrote:

I attended Deep & Wide yesterday and listened to Andy present this content for the second time in 12 months.  The first time was uncomfortable and much more confrontational then yesterday.  I think his book, "Reclaiming Irresistible" has tuned-in his thinking and position.  His talk was very dispensational as you would expect coming from a Dallas grad.
 

Throughout the day one thing that is completely evident is Andy's concern for this and the coming generation who are walking away from faith.  The access to information through the media channels available today are tears away at the foundation of young people's faith and that voice is getting louder and slicker. We know resurrection of Jesus is real we have eye witnesses, so though they may create doubt and create angst with Old Testament events the resurrection is the foundation.

His one slide in the 4 sessions that kind of capstones the day was "If someone predicts their own death and resurrection and pulls it off, we should go with whatever that person says."

I'm working through my notes and looking forward to reading the book.  I do know that working with young adults has given me a new concern and passion to not lose them to slick talking atheists like Guy Harrison.

It was clear to me he isn't walking away from The Bible.  But where is this going? Is it a pragmatic like Paul in 1 Corinthians 9:19-23, or is it a slippery slope and he is weakening the high position we hold for the Scriptures?.

Paul, 

He openly (at least open through Peter Enns' Facebook page) had Peter Enns come and speak to his church staff. Enns denies inerrancy, as well as a host of other problems related to an Old Testament theology. Stanley is openly rejecting a "high view" of Scripture. In the past year or two he has denied the existence of Adam, the creation account, stated that "we need to unhinge the Old Testament," denied (or downplayed) the Virgin Birth, all in the name of "relevance" and "apologetics." 

I am thoroughly convinced that the pathway to hell for evangelicalism (and for Christianity since Schleiermacher) is paved with "relevance." 

Bert Perry's picture

I don't know if the path to theological oblivion is the pursuit of relevance, but waffling on inerrancy certainly is.  It's one of the Fundamentals, and a key part of Sola Scriptura, for that and other good reasons.  

That noted, if we are indeed all sinners, the Gospel is indeed relevant to all.  The trick is not maintaining relevance, but in living effectively for Christ so that the Gospel appeal is, at least within what we can do humanly speaking, winsome.  The reprobate ought to be objecting to the Gospel, not our halitosis or behavior.

Aspiring to be a stick in the mud.

CAWatson's picture

Bert Perry wrote:

I don't know if the path to theological oblivion is the pursuit of relevance, but waffling on inerrancy certainly is.  It's one of the Fundamentals, and a key part of Sola Scriptura, for that and other good reasons.  

That noted, if we are indeed all sinners, the Gospel is indeed relevant to all.  The trick is not maintaining relevance, but in living effectively for Christ so that the Gospel appeal is, at least within what we can do humanly speaking, winsome.  The reprobate ought to be objecting to the Gospel, not our halitosis or behavior.

The root cause of theological liberalism from the beginnings of theological liberalism is relevance. Theological liberalism is said to have begun with Schleiermacher. Read his book, "On Religion: Essays for Its Cultured Despisers." Just look at the title of the book - cultured individuals rejected religion, so Schleiermacher separated religious doctrine from religious feeling (early liberalism). The contemporary rejection of Creationism - just listen to the words of Bruce Waltke - "Evangelicals need to accept evolution or risk being considered a cult." Listen to Andy Stanley's own words. Waffling on inerrancy is a symptom of the problem, not the problem. He is waffling on inerrancy and the Bible itself because people don't want or like the Bible - they want/like Jesus. I could give example after example within theology (and evangelicalism) of how the pursuit of relevance has led to some form of theological error/heresy/misstep. 

Of course the gospel itself is relevant. Trying to hide certain pieces of Christian thought and theology because they might not be considered "relevant" is the root of the problem. I am unapologetic for my doctrinal beliefs, and I will not compromise doctrine because it is not considered "relevant" in today's modern-post-modern world. 

Jay's picture

Here's a list of some of the things Stanley said at Catalyst Atlanta this weekend.  A few jump out at me:

  • Ephesians 2:20 Jesus is the foundation of our faith.Not the Bible.
  • Flaw – As the Bible goes, so goes Christianity.This is an assumption shared by skeptics and Christians.
  • The message (Bible’s irrelevancy) has been laid out over and over since 9-11 has begun to take its toll on our culture.
  • If you were raised on the “As the Bible goes so goes Christianity” faith, it only takes one of those 66 cards to be removed to bring all those cards down.
  • If one of those books or something in those books isn’t true, then the entire Bible isn’t true. The Bible has never been the foundation of the Christian faith.

I wasn't there, so I think I get some of what Stanley said and would agree with parts of it.  But it certainly seems like his understanding of the faith is deeply deficient and, frankly, not going to be able to hold together.  Once you abandon Biblical teaching, centripetal force - "just follow Jesus and don't worry about the Bible" - will tear apart what you think is Christianity.

This is so sad...and so predictable.

 

"Our task today is to tell people — who no longer know what sin is...no longer see themselves as sinners, and no longer have room for these categories — that Christ died for sins of which they do not think they’re guilty." - David Wells

CAWatson's picture

Jay wrote:

Here's a list of some of the things Stanley said at Catalyst Atlanta this weekend.  A few jump out at me:

  • Ephesians 2:20 Jesus is the foundation of our faith.Not the Bible.
  • Flaw – As the Bible goes, so goes Christianity.This is an assumption shared by skeptics and Christians.
  • The message (Bible’s irrelevancy) has been laid out over and over since 9-11 has begun to take its toll on our culture.
  • If you were raised on the “As the Bible goes so goes Christianity” faith, it only takes one of those 66 cards to be removed to bring all those cards down.
  • If one of those books or something in those books isn’t true, then the entire Bible isn’t true. The Bible has never been the foundation of the Christian faith.

I wasn't there, so I think I get some of what Stanley said and would agree with parts of it.  But it certainly seems like his understanding of the faith is deeply deficient and, frankly, not going to be able to hold together.  Once you abandon Biblical teaching, centripetal force - "just follow Jesus and don't worry about the Bible" - will tear apart what you think is Christianity.

This is so sad...and so predictable.

 

Stanley has had Peter Enns in to speak to the staff in his church. Enns has openly stated that "we need to rethink the nature of Christianity." A New Kind of Christian is not a Christian in any meaningful sense at all.