Bibliology

8 Reasons to Reject Stanley’s Irresistible: Reasons 5 - 8

5. He posits that the Old Testament has been completely fulfilled.

Stanley is correct that the church has at times incorrectly understood the Old Testament and in some cases has used the Old Testament to subjugate and coerce others. Rather than discussing the hermeneutical mistakes and complexities that led to abuses, Stanley simply posits that the entire Old Testament is now fulfilled and should be detached from the New Testament.

He incorrectly argues that the mere appearance of fulfillment formula in the New Testament refers to complete, exhaustive fulfillment of all Old Testament promises and prophecies. He repeatedly cites the Abrahamic promises as being completely fulfilled, since Abraham was blessed by God and since Christ came through Abraham’s lineage. Stanley writes that Jesus uses the fulfillment formula as His way of saying “God’s conditional, temporary covenant with Israel was coming to an end, the intended-from-the-beginning end” (109). Meanwhile, Stanley ignores the unconditional land promises given to Abram and his descendants (Israel) that have not yet been fulfilled. He ignores all the future unfulfilled promises in the prophetic literature. And he discredits the Song of Solomon as well, since the writer had over 300 wives.

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8 Reasons to Reject Stanley’s Irresistible: Reasons 1 - 4

Republished with permission from Baptist Bulletin © Regular Baptist Press. All rights reserved.

Andy Stanley is a master communicator, popular author, and prominent pastor. In his book Irresistible: Reclaiming the New that Jesus Unleashed from the World, Stanley argues that the church with its modern version of faith is ineffective and too easily resisted. He conjectures that people resist the modern church and Christianity because the Old Testament is mixed into it. Consequently, when believers defend the Old Testament’s historicity and accuracy, they alienate what he refers to as “post-Christians.”

Irresistible is filled with clever phrases, including chapter titles such as “Temple Tantrum,” “Splittin’ Up,” “Homebodies,” “The Apoplectic Apostle,” “Trending Horizontal,” “Obsolet-r Than Ever.” Using wit, humor, satire, anecdotal comments, wordplay, and wordsmithing, Stanley presents his belief that the church must become “unhitched” and “unmixed” from the Old Testament. He uses his rhetorical skills to urge believers against integrating Old Testament truth into Christianity, thus dissuading believers from defending the historical reliability and believability of the Old Testament. His arguments, however, exemplify logical errors, simplistic exegesis (which is often eisegesis), errant theology, reductionism, and very serious hermeneutical errors. Consider these eight reasons to reject his thesis.

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If This Is How the Bible Works, the Bible Doesn’t Work at All

"Since [Kant's] time Christians have been pushing back against what became, and in Kant’s train remains today, methodological atheism in biblical studies. Enns simply embraces the thesis that the Bible’s God-talk is necessarily no more than futile ancient efforts (heavily redacted and embellished) to articulate the ineffable." - TGC

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The Christian’s foundation for all knowledge

"To say that God’s Word is the foundation for all knowledge is to claim that Scripture must be the underlying basis or principle through which facts, information, and skills acquired by a person through experience or education are ultimately interpreted. This is the basis for 'thinking Christianly.'” - Acton

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Review – Clear and Present Word: The Clarity of Scripture

A Clear and Present Word is the 21st volume in the “New Studies in Biblical Theology” series which now extends to 45 volumes. This volume is dedicated to the doctrine of perspicuity (or the Bible’s clarity). From Eve’s wicked interlocutor in the garden to the present day, there has been a reechoing “Has God really said?”

In recent theological debates, it is clear that inerrancy is often the bibliological battleground. However, as this book endeavors to show, even if the accuracy of the words is granted, their power can just as easily be neutralized though obfuscation as through denial. Mr. Thompson (Principle of Moore Theological Seminary, Australia. Evangelical Anglican) labors to unfold the importance of Scripture’s clarity as well as to defend it.

Perspicuity has not seen the scholarly concentration of other doctrines of Bibliology and the book is a welcome resource for anyone who desires to better understand it. The series aims to relate important biblical/theological themes in a way that is both scholarly and accessible to the layperson. The author succeeds in presenting a book that can be beneficial both to the studious lay person as well as the pastor.

Chapter one takes up the question of whether Christians can even claim to have a clear word of God. After all, we live in the postmodern era when truth is considered at least obscure, and often unknowable. The chapter outlines the arguments against the clarity of the Bible, first from church history and then more recently the post-modern view of truth.

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General Revelation (Part 5)

Read the series.

The unsaved do not know God

The NT seems to say that the unsaved person does not know God. We see this in several places. Let us begin with Galatians 4:

Formerly, when you did not know God, you were enslaved to those that by nature are not gods. But now that you have come to know God, or rather to be known by God, how can you turn back again to the weak and worthless elementary principles of the world, whose slaves you want to be once more? (Galatians 4:8-9)

We are told that the Galatians once did not know God, and because of that they served false gods. But now they are known by God and therefore know God. Here Paul is plainly saying that there is a difference between those who know God, the saints, and those that do not know God, the lost or unregenerate.

Here is Ephesians 2:

Remember that you were at that time separated from Christ, alienated from the commonwealth of Israel and strangers to the covenants of promise, having no hope and without God in the world. (Ephesians 2:12)

Paul says that the Gentiles, by which he means the pagan world, were once “without God in the world.” If they were without God it is hard to claim that they knew Him. This is Paul’s view also in 1 Thessalonians 4:5 (“like the Gentiles who do not know God”; cf. 2 Thess. 1:8).

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The Primacy of Revelation, Part 3

Read Part 1 and Part 2.

In our present “postmodern” ethos, laden as it is with deconstructionism and hermeneutical suspicion, Christians have to ask how the primacy of biblical revelation does in such an environment. Does it struggle for air or does it flourish? Maybe it is better to ask, can it flourish as an idea among ideas?

The biblical outlook has set against it three formidable foes. These enemies of God’s Word are constantly at work chipping away at the foundations upon which Christian theology, and therefore Christian truth, rests. Often working surreptitiously, these three foes are well-known.

  • First – the system of anti-Christian thought that pervades any society; the cosmos as John calls it or the world.
  • Second – the unregenerate heart and mind; the sin nature of the individual
  • Third – the god of this age and his cohorts

In biblical shorthand they are the world, the flesh, and the devil.

For all that is in the world—the desires of the flesh and the desires of the eyes and pride in possessions—is not from the Father but is from the world. (1 John 2:16)

Any theology worth its salt will constantly engage these powers, correcting and seeking to undermine their challenges and influence. True theology is a corrective to false ideas wherever it is found.

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