A Response to Andy Stanley: Jesus and the Old Testament, What God has joined together, let not man separate

It has been sad to observe Andy Stanley incrementally abandoning the evangelical Christian faith in favor of old-school theological liberalism. Stanley is a uniquely gifted communicator and successful organizational leader who has had tremendous influence within Evangelical Christianity. A recent article in The Christian Post (May 9, 2018) titled, “Christians Must ‘Unhitch’ Old Testament From Their Faith, Says Andy Stanley,” led me to listen to his recent sermon, Aftermath, Part 3: Not Difficult (you can watch it here).

Stanley professes to still believe the Old Testament is divinely inspired but argues, “[First century] Church leaders unhitched the church from the worldview, value system, and regulations of the Jewish Scriptures.” According to him, Peter, James, and Paul “unhitched” the Christian faith from the Old Testament. He describes the message of the New Covenant as “completely detached” from what came before, arguing that “something new and better and inclusive has come.” Christians, according to Stanley, must “set aside the traditions, the Scriptures they grew up with.”

Stanley uses the Acts 15 account of the Jerusalem Council as the basis for his assertions. The Jerusalem Council was called to decide whether non-Jewish believers must submit to all the requirements of the law of Moses, especially circumcision, in order to be accepted as members of the church. The decision of the council was that they should not make it difficult for the Gentiles because it is by grace alone that they are saved. Since no further restrictions are imposed by God, we must not impose any. Conveniently, for his argument, Stanley does not point out that James grounds the council’s pronouncement in the Old Testament text of Amos 9:11-12 (Acts 15:16-17; see also Jer 12:15 and Isaiah 45:21).

Stanley attempts to co-opt the fact that the Bible comes to us as progressive revelation to meet his own agenda of severing the teachings of the New Testament from the Old Testament. James, contrary to Stanley, did the opposite. James grounds the declaration of the council by showing that the position of the council was in continuity with God’s authoritative revelation in the Old Testament. The inclusion of the Gentiles was promised in the Old Testament, and the apostles are in full agreement with the message of the prophets. The restored kingdom of David will include the Gentiles (Acts 15:16-17). Rather than unhitching or completely detaching from the Old Testament, the apostles saw the Gentiles as the living fulfillment of the promise of the Old Testament.

Stanley summarizes his view of the Old Testament by saying he thought about putting up a slide that read, “Thou shall not obey the Ten Commandments,” but decided against it in fear that people would take a screenshot of it to post online. He might as well have posted the screenshot himself because that is exactly what he is arguing. Stanley contends that the sexual ethic of the New Testament is severed from the teaching of the Old Testament and is simply to “treat others as God in Christ has treated you” and that “Paul is explicit about morality but does not tie it to the Old Testament.” Of course, the New Testament says far more about sexual ethics than Stanley suggests and what it teaches is in complete continuity with the Old Testament.

What is going on here? It is tragic, but simple. Stanley is adapting his message to the changing culture that rejects many of the Bible’s teaching about origins and ethics. He is not offering a new approach to the Bible but rather an old one which positions us as judges who pick and choose what really matters in the Bible. That old approach has a name: it’s called theological liberalism.

According to Stanley, embracing the truth of Jesus’ resurrection does not mean you must also accept all that the Bible teaches. The resurrection, for him, is the only truth you have to believe, allowing you to reject the rest of the scriptural witness because the resurrection is the only thing that matters. However, severing the Scriptures from the resurrection is the very thing that Jesus said could not be done, “If they do not hear Moses and the Prophets, neither will they be convinced if someone should rise from the dead” (Luke 16:31). Paul told Timothy, “the sacred writings” are “able to make you wise for salvation through faith in Christ Jesus” (2 Tim 3:15).

By attempting to sever the authority of Christ from the authority of the Bible, Stanley is functionally rejecting the authority of Christ who said “Scripture cannot be broken” (John 10:35) and that the Scriptures bear witness to him (John 5:39). Jesus also said, “For if you believed Moses, you would believe me; for he wrote of me. But if you do not believe his writings, how will you believe my words?” (John 5:46-47). Jesus is emphatically repudiating anyone who would attempt to “unhitch” him from the message of the Old Testament. Stanley is not defending the authority of Jesus; he is defending the authority of the spirit of the age, which is always a path away from Christ and towards destruction.

Stanley is traveling a well-worn path of declension: the whole Bible is the authoritative testimony of God and is about Jesus, Jesus vs. the Old Testament, Jesus vs. the Old Testament and Paul, Jesus vs. the Old Testament and the apostles, Jesus only (red-letters only), historical Jesus only, and finally, me only. The Bible is the word of God, given to us by the Spirit of God, and bears witness to the Son of God. The only way we know who Jesus is and what his resurrection means is from the biblical testimony—Old Testament and New. Any attempt to sever Jesus from the entirety of Scripture amounts to fashioning a Jesus for your own purposes, one that changes with the times. But that Jesus is not “the way, and the truth, and the life.” (John 14:6).

 

 

By |May 10th, 2018|Categories: Featured|

About the Author:

David E. Prince is pastor of preaching and vision at Ashland Avenue Baptist Church in Lexington, Kentucky and assistant professor of Christian preaching at The Southern Baptist Theological Seminary. He is the author of In the Arena and Church with Jesus as the Hero. He blogs at Prince on Preaching and frequently writes for The Ethics and Religious Liberty Commission, For the Church, the BGEA and Preaching Today

34 Comments

  1. Mary Forbes May 10, 2018 at 2:52 pm

    AMEN!! Pastor David! Keep defending the Word!

  2. stopsines May 10, 2018 at 3:57 pm

    Thank you Dr. Prince. Heart-breaking indeed.

  3. David Austin May 10, 2018 at 4:22 pm

    Amen

  4. Stephen Fincher May 10, 2018 at 5:12 pm

    Good word. Thank you for writing, David. I agree with you and recently visited North Point in January and thought Stanley was too harsh on the OT. I also agree with a word you used–fulfillment. Jesus fulfills several aspects of the OT and that is why we follow in a different way than the Israelites did in the past. Jesus is the fulfillment of the Temple, the fulfillment of the sacrificial system, the fulfillment of the festivals and days, etc. With a fulfillment interpretation of the OT, we can see fingerprints and foreshadowings of Christ all over the place, instead of just getting rid of the OT, which Stanley seems to be coming close too in some of his less careful claims. I would say Stanley is actually closer to Marcionism than theological liberalism. Marcion claimed that the God of the OT is not the Father of Jesus Christ and attempted to totally get rid of the Hebrew Scriptures. https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Marcionism.

    Blessings from Alabama!

    -Stephen Fincher of Tanner UMC

  5. Warren Wasson May 10, 2018 at 9:09 pm

    In the beginning was the WORD, and the WORD was with GOD and the WORD was GOD. 1 John 1:1. To deny the revelance of the OT is to deny everything Jesus taught and accomplished.

  6. Cody May 10, 2018 at 11:23 pm

    Question: do you believe Stanley is headed towards an inclusive, sexual ethic and that’s why he is leading this direction?

  7. […] A Response to Andy Stanley: Jesus and the Old Testament, What God has joined together, let not man … — Once every 12-18 months, we see some dust-up from something controversial said by Andy Stanley in a sermon or at a conference. Here is the latest version, and a good response worthy of your time. […]

  8. AndyH May 11, 2018 at 2:34 pm

    It is time to start viewing Northpoint as a cult because that is what it is. If Irenaeus were still alive, Andy Stanley would be mentioned in the next volume of “Against Heresies.” This is just a modern version of Marcionism.

  9. JP Grier May 11, 2018 at 6:13 pm

    Good job Pastor, This type of “unhinged theology” shows itself for what it is, covert emergent spirituality straight from the thinking of Dallas Willard. Its post Christian relativism. Hebrews 13:8 comes to mind for the likes of those who use the New Covenant to loose themselves from self examination or the call to be “Holy” The same Jesus who was present at the time of the giving of the Law walked with the children in the desert is the same Jesus who died and rose again. These folks usually end up criticizing those who take the call to be Holy as “legalists” Maybe Mr. Stanley better brush up on what the New Testament is referring to when it says, “Without Holiness no one will see the Lord” Hebrews 12:14.
    Just what type of holiness is the writer of Hebrews speaking of? Personal sanctification that’s the type. They preach freedom usually because sanctification is too difficult for them. They love their sin more.

    JP Grier
    MS Counseling, MCM Pastoral Counseling Liberty Baptist Seminary

  10. David May 11, 2018 at 9:36 pm

    Cody,
    I don’t know for sure but I fear the theology may be being adjusted to match what is already being practiced. I hope not. If not, at the very least this trajectory usually ends in total cultural accommodation on ethical issues. Pray for Andy and the church.
    David

  11. Bob Forlaw May 11, 2018 at 9:55 pm

    Are these just Princes’ words or a learned comparison with Stanley’s actual preaching?

  12. […] David Prince offered a lengthier response. […]

  13. John Newcomer May 12, 2018 at 3:26 pm

    Maybe instead of dropping in the middle of a sermon series and making comments about another man’s ministry you could wait till you had the whole picture. The beginning of the year his message to his church was about Christ and how he was connected to the Old Testament.

  14. REV DR COOK May 12, 2018 at 7:20 pm

    As Christians Hebrews 8-11 makes it perfectly clear the terms of the NEW COVENANT replace the terms of the OLD COVENANT – Trying to live both is like paying the mortgage when the loan has been paid in full – you still live in the house but YAHSHUA set you free from the debt. You are free in the CHRIST SPIRIT. I don’ know what Andy is saying but I hav never found him to be wrong theologically. I have NEVER heard him be soft on sin. RevDr Chester R Cook

  15. Karen May 12, 2018 at 11:03 pm

    Thank you for this article. I grew up in a Southern Baptist Church, but our family started attending a North Point Church last year. This sermon series opened my eyes. The Holy Spirit kept bringing verses to my mind to refute what was being said about the Old Testament (Matthew 5:17-20). I’m so saddened by his quote about the “Ten Commandments don’t apply to us.”

  16. Martha Hidalgo May 13, 2018 at 9:00 am

    Heartbreaking to read but thank you David for your post and do keep on exposing the error that Andy and many others have adopted. We as as the body must be upholders in truth through pray and constant time in the Word.

  17. Bill Thompson May 13, 2018 at 3:22 pm

    I’ve always wondered about the thought process in someone who reaches this conclusion especially when considering Jesus himself quotes the Old Testament and if he wanted could have told us all to ignore if it was no longer relevant! But he didn’t!

  18. JP Grier May 13, 2018 at 4:04 pm

    Bill: Good point, not only does Jesus quote the OT, he verifies the most outlandish tales (considered so by the emergent church and others) of the OT as fact; the Creation of Adam, the Story of Jonah, and the Story of Noah and even the Sodom and Gomorrah.

  19. JP Grier May 13, 2018 at 4:15 pm

    Rev Cook: To your point, there is no NT without the Old Testament. The “Law” as you appear to dismiss it is not only referred to as “good” by Paul its referred to as the perfect l\law of liberty by James, why? Because the moral prescriptions are guidepoint for living so we don’t have churches adopting the ridiculous views of those who try and amputate the Old Testament from the New. The issue Stanley’s being confronted over is not covenants, its the Scripture, the whole word of God and the Law which still remains the standard met in Christ. The new evangelicalism is nothing new, its the same “cheap grace” that simply sets aside the work on our part of obedience, that being the submitting to the moral law, which Jesus is referring to when he confronts his accusers and says, “which one of you can convict me of sin.” Perfect love compels us to obedience not for the sake of self righteousness but because we want to live in righteousness. Consider this, what exactly are the things we are supposed to be obedient to written about profusely in 1st John? Not only perfect love but the guideposts of the moral law presented in the life of Christ, meaning, at a minimum…the 10 commandments which Jesus himself never invalidated but on the contrary lived by.

  20. JP Grier May 13, 2018 at 4:21 pm

    And whatever side of the argument we land on I believe Cody put it well… Pray for the Church diligently, the pastors in particular, and the men and women that are counsel to pastors, tremendous pressure on them these days to conform and not offend, its not going to get easier!

  21. Kevin Brendler May 14, 2018 at 12:35 pm

    What is the basis in the Scriptures for dividing the Torah into moral, ceremonial and civil aspects?

    If the Law of Moses is one, unified covenant document, then Stanley is certainly right that Christians are not under the Ten Commandments.

    Heb 8:13, 9:9-10, Rom 7:6, 2 Cor 3:1-10

    The Christian conscience is bound, not by the Mosaic Law, but by the apostolic word (the NT revelation), where nine of the Ten Commandments are “reissued” for the New Covenant.

    Everything here hangs on what Paul means by “nomos” in Romans and Galatians. If Paul means the Torah in its entirety, then Stanley is right on the Christian’s relationship to the Mosaic Law and the Reformed are wrong.

    Again, I ask: what is the basis in Scripture for dividing the Law of God, the Torah given to Israel by way of Covenant, into various moral, ceremonial and civil aspects? Did the Jews think of the Law in that way? Did Paul know about these neat divisions that the Reformed assume and build their theology upon? When Paul wrote “nomos” in Rom & Gal, was he thinking of the Torah covenant made with the Jews in redemptive history or was he thinking of some “moral law” that could somehow be excerpted from the Torah? A very great deal depends upon how you answer these questions.

    Disclaimer: please don’t read this as a defense of Andy Stanley’s ministry. I’ve never watched or heard a sermon of his until this weekend. He seems intent upon taking down as many barriers to faith as he can, whereas Paul was only concerned to take down the barrier of the Mosaic Law and Covenant. I thought the Biblical theology of Stanley’s sermon was very good, but he -might- be deploying it to nefarious ends.

    Lastly, this statement was not accurate:

    “Conveniently, for his argument, Stanley does not point out that James grounds the council’s pronouncement in the Old Testament text of Amos 9:11-12.”

    I distinctly remember Stanley saying something exactly to that point. He put something like the following words into the apostle James’ mouth, “We should have known this was coming. Our very own prophets told us this was going to happen.” So Stanley actually made a good effort to do what you say he conveniently neglected.

  22. […] Prince on Preaching – A Response to Andy Stanley: Jesus and the Old Testament, What God has joined together, let not man s… […]

  23. Meg I May 15, 2018 at 12:45 am

    I think when Andy’s Dad goes to be with the Lord, we will see even more clearly what the younger Stanley believes.

  24. Stephen Fincher May 15, 2018 at 11:25 am

    Thanks, Kevin. I agree with you that only 9 of the 10 Commandments are still applicable based on the NT revelation and that Sabbath is no longer a requirement. I also don’t think Stanley is a crazy heretic, but does seem to be a bit too extreme sometimes on his language about how we Christians should relate to the OT. While I don’t think Calvin’s civil, ceremonial, and moral laws are biblical categories, I think they’re eminently helpful in trying to do what Paul talks about in Romans 8:3-4 “By sending his own Son in the likeness of sinful flesh and for sin, he condemned sin in the flesh, in order that the righteous requirement of the law might be fulfilled in us who walk not according to the flesh but according to the Spirit.” I think Paul’s righteous requirement language is a big one, showcasing that Paul believed some parts of the law very much were still applicable and shouldn’t be disposed of, though others weren’t. Calvin’s distinctions are a very helpful way to try to sort through just how that “righteous requirement” thing might work, I think. The civil law might not apply since in a one-for-one way since we’re no longer the theocracy of Israel, but helpful principles can be pulled from them. The ceremonial law often is a foreshadowing of Christ (Temple, sacrifice, festivals find their fulfillment in Jesus). The moral law still directly applies to Christians just as it did to OT Israelites. How we determine what the “righteous requirement” really requires a systematic re-evaluation of the OT in light of the teachings of the NT. Like you said, whatever you see the apostles and the early church in the NT bringing forward as still applicable is our guide, thought it’s a messy process to sort through it all fully. So I’d say we shouldn’t “unhitch” ourselves totally from the OT, but rather view it through the lens of Christ being the OT’s fulfillment and the understanding of the NT authors for how this act in salvation history changes things a bit for how we follow God as Christians today. I also tend to follow some of the arguments from New Perspective on Paul writers that often what Paul is dealing with concerning nomos is primarily Jewish identity markers (circumcision, festivals, days, cleanliness/kosher laws, etc). Hope you’re doing well and would love to hear your response. I think we’re pretty close in thought.

    -Stephen, http://tannerumc.com

  25. Andy May 15, 2018 at 2:29 pm

    “Paul does not tie sexual immorality with the OT. ” – Andy Stanley. What about 1 Corinthians 10? “Moreover, brethren, I do not want you to be unaware that all our fathers were under the cloud, all passed through the sea, all were baptized into Moses in the cloud and in the sea, all ate the same spiritual food, and all drank the same spiritual drink. For they drank of that spiritual Rock that followed them, and that Rock was Christ. But with most of them God was not well pleased, for their bodies were scattered in the wilderness.

    Now these things became our examples, to the intent that we should not lust after evil things as they also lusted. And do not become idolaters as were some of them. As it is written, “The people sat down to eat and drink, and rose up to play.”Nor let us commit sexual immorality, as some of them did, (Paul seems to think that the definition of sexual immorality is still the same as it was in the Tanakh!) and in one day twenty-three thousand fell; nor let us tempt Christ, as some of them also tempted, and were destroyed by serpents; nor complain, as some of them also complained, and were destroyed by the destroyer. Now all these things happened to them as examples, and they were written for our admonition, upon whom the ends of the ages have come.”

  26. Kevin Brendler May 15, 2018 at 4:42 pm

    Hi Stephen –

    I don’t think it is possible to understand what Paul means in Rom 8:3-4 without grasping the distinction he makes in Romans 2.

    For Paul, the Gentiles are not under the Law (Rom 2:12,14). Gentiles are not party to the Mosaic Covenant and they are not bound by the Torah. In that sense, Gentiles are by nature cut off from all righteousness. They were not given the gift of Torah to obey. Without the Law of Moses, Gentiles are totally bereft of even the remotest possibility of a works salvation. “Justified, apart from works” was nonsensical for Paul in the Gentile world, I believe. That was his message to Jews, who possessed the Torah and therefore could perform works of the Torah, however imperfectly and inconsistently. The Jews ran their race on the Torah track of righteousness and failed. But the Gentiles were given no righteousness track to run on whatsoever. The starting blocks were to be found only in Israel.

    For Paul, the Law is the Mosaic Law revealed on Mt. Sinai. I don’t believe the apostle even has a category of “the moral law” in his Jewish mind.

    Now the Jews, of course, are *under* the Mosaic Law. The were brought into Covenant with YHWH and the yoke of the Law was laid upon them. Here, in the Mosaic Covenant, we find Paul’s concept of the “works of the Law.” The works of the Law are the way to righteousness and life, according to the Mosaic Covenant, given only to the Jews. Do this and live were the terms of the Law (Gal 3:12). Keep the Law, do the works of the Law, and you will be righteous – that’s the word of the Old Covenant. And only the Jews had this covenant and this word. Of course, Israel failed to walk in the Covenant works and failed to obtain life and righteousness. The Mosaic Covenant, in that sense, is a covenant of condemnation and death (2 Cor 3:6-9).

    There is no “moral law” consideration in any of this.

    Now what is Paul doing in Rom 8:1-8, particularly 8:3-4?

    First, he is writing here to the Jewish Christians in particular. How do we know that?

    Rom 7:1. Only the Jews “knew” the Mosaic Law; that is, only Israel was bound by the Torah (Rom 2).

    Second, Paul says that God has condemned our (Jewish) Law breaking, our failure to do the works of the Law, in the crucifixion of Christ Jesus. God sent His Son in our likeness and bore the penalty for our (Jewish) unrighteousness, our Torah breaking, says the apostle. And God has also given us His Holy Spirit, so that we may live in righteousness and uprightness, the very thing that the Mosaic Law always demanded of us. It is in this sense that the just or righteous requirement of the Law was fulfilled in Jewish Christians, who walked according to the Spirit and not in the flesh. Walking in the Spirit, the Jewish believers would actually be able to fulfill what the Law demanded, even though they were dead to the Law in Christ (Rom 7:4) and had been discharged or released from the Law in Him (Rom 7:6).

    So, to conclude, there is no “moral law” extracted from the Torah that comes over into the New Covenant. Instead, there is the law of the Spirit of life (Rom 8:2), according to Paul, which delivered the Jews, in particular, from the Law of sin and death, the Old Covenant, the Mosaic Law.

    There is no third use of the Law of Moses in Pauline Christianity. There is walking in the Spirit, as closely defined in Gal 5:16ff. Our failures to walk in the Spirit are not violations of the Ten Commandments or “the moral law” for Paul; instead, they are works of the flesh. It is not keeping the moral law vs breaking the moral law in Paul’s mind; it is walking in the Spirit vs the desires of flesh. Pastors should not teach Christ’s lambs to keep the Ten Commandments. Andy Stanley is exactly right here, I believe. Pastors should teach God’s NT people to walk in the Spirit, as defined by the apostle to the Gentiles and the NT revelation.

    Those pastors and teachers who press the Ten Commandments or “God’s Law” upon the church have wrongly divided redemptive history, I believe. The Law was a custodian for the Jews until their Savior came. Christ was the end of the Law for the Jews, both as fulfillment and terminus. Paul’s gospel to his kinsmen was this: “We failed to keep the Law, as you very well know. Messiah Jesus has borne our penalty under the Law. And if you will trust in His Name, God will count your faith in His Son Jesus AS righteousness! Yes, you heard me right – the righteousness which the Law demanded, which we failed to obtain under the Law, can be yours through FAITH in Christ Jesus. God, in His marvelous Grace, will reckon that righteousness to you totally apart from the works of the Law, if you trust in His Son Jesus. Now, at the turn of the ages, God is pleased to count faith in Christ AS righteousness. And all you sorry Gentiles … I have good news for you also. The God of the Jews, the one true God, is letting you in on this great salvation, as He promised in the prophets. On what basis, you ask? On the exact same basis as the Jews. Trust in the propitiation of the Son of God, the Jewish Christ, and God will count that faith, your faith, AS righteousness as well, washing away ALL of your sins!”

    As a sorry Gentile myself, this is very, very, very good news. But this righteousness reckoned to me is NOT the perfect Law keeping of Christ. I am a Gentile. I was never under the Mosaic Law, the Old Covenant. The Torah was not given to me. I was excluded from that blessing. So I am not a Torah breaker and I don’t stand in need of a Torah righteousness. That’s not my world, man. I am a Gentile. Indeed, I am a filthy sinner and I desperately need righteousness in order to have peace with God. But this is the good news for me, just as it is for the Jew. God counts my faith in Christ as righteousness (Rom 4:9-12). He counts faith in His Son -AS- righteousness. It has nothing to do with the perfect Law keeping of Christ for me as a Gentile, save that it qualified Him to be the redeemer of Israel, in whose salvation I am wondrously included. But I am counted righteous before God through simple faith in His Son. God counts such simple faith AS righteousness. So in God’s new Covenant, Christ has supplanted the (Mosaic) Law and simple Christian faith has supplanted the works of the Law. God is now pleased to count faith in His Son AS the righteousness long sought after in Israel, to the Jew first and also to the Gentile (Rom 1:16).

    Finally, to anticipate an objection – I believe the Gentiles in Rom 2:14-15 must be Christian Gentiles, in keeping with the conclusion of Paul’s interim argument in 2:25-29.

  27. edhubeacres May 15, 2018 at 4:54 pm

    I’m always concerned about reports like this. The first question I want to ask the author is, “Have you tried to reach Andy Stanley to 1) make sure you understand what he actually believes, and 2) to speak into his life your concerns and a word of correction if his views are inconsistent with sound teaching and Biblical authority?” It seems to me this is a more Biblical approach, especially as it pertains to maintaining the unity of the Spirit in the bond of peace (Eph. 4:3) and to restoring in a spirit of gentleness (Gal. 6:1,2). I would hope this sort of effort is carried out diligently before publicly correcting and warning. I’m neither agreeing with or disputing the argument here. But far too often it seems that we are quick to judge and slow to reach out to confirm to truth and desire reconciliation with correction. So, I hope this has been done before this article was written.

  28. Stephen Fincher May 16, 2018 at 4:58 pm

    Hi Kevin, thanks for such a well thought out response and I appreciate you taking time to write back. I’m guessing we’re probably going to end up agreeing to disagree, but I wanted to engage one more time.

    I know you worked up a defense to my potential objection, but still, how do you come to the conclusion the Gentiles are Christians in chapter 2? Paul says they have the Law written on their hearts “by nature,” and their conflicting hearts may accuse or even excuse them on the day of judgment–seems like Paul was saying even apart from the Law they would be judged according to the light they had and how the prevenient or common grace of God led them to intuit basic moral principles of goodness like what you find in the law. I think in chapter 2 Paul is really hammering on Jews who thought their ethnic identity markers got them salvation (circumcision, descent from Abraham, kosher laws) and calls out their hypocrisy in other aspects of the Law. He calls for a circumcision of heart by the Spirit that leads to the obedience of faith, and ostensibly this is available for both Jew and Gentile, anyone who would trust in Jesus and receive his Spirit.

    Chapters 1-3 are basically saying everyone is corrupted by sin, which is the real bad guy, not the Law, which Paul affirms as being good (7:12-13, 16). Interestingly, Paul understood his views as upholding the Law in 3:31. Sin is what corrupted us and made us unable to obey the good Law, so we needed further assistance than what the Law alone provided. Good though it was and is, the Law is not sufficient to deal with sin and ends up revealing and magnifying sin (7:13).

    I don’t think Paul is only addressing Jewish Christians in 8:1-8. Not sure how Paul addressing people who know the Law in Romans 7:1 means that chapter 8 only applies to Jewish Christians. I think in chapter 7 Paul reveals the goodness but insufficiency of the Law by conjuring up an unsaved Jew as the “I” in 7:7-25 to show that sin’s dominating, corrupting influence is what we need deliverance from, but then again, more ink has been spilled over Romans 7 than over any other passage in the whole Bible :). Are only Jewish Christians the ones who struggle with the flesh but are empowered by the Spirit to overcome the flesh? Are they the only ones who receive the witness of the Spirit that lets them know they are children of God? Don’t Gentile believers also receive those benefits? Paul says in 8:9 that anyone who does not have the Spirit of Christ doesn’t belong to God, so it seems to me he’s talking about all Christians, not just Jewish believers. I think we agree that the Spirit does empower us to fulfill the righteous requirement of the Law, but I’d still contend that very idea connotes that some Old Testament commands are still applicable for Christians. Also, Paul says the flesh does not submit to God’s law in 8:7, implying that those who walk by the Spirit do submit to God’s righteous requirement of the law. Also, in the same chapter of the Galatians passage you referenced, some of the works of the flesh Paul mentions in Galatians 5:19 would directly correspond to things we’re commanded to avoid in the OT–sexual immorality, idolatry, jealousy, etc. Seems like that could also fit into how Paul understood the “righteous requirement” of the law being brought forward for Christian obedience–which, again, is basically the idea of a “moral law” being in the Old Testament, even though that’s not Paul’s language, but Calvin’s.

    What do you make of Jesus pulling from the Law when he gave the greatest commandment he wanted his followers to embody–Love God (Deuteronomy 6) and Love neighbor as Self (Leviticus 19)? What do you make of him intensifying the Law in several ways in Matthew 5? Paul himself teaches one of the Ten Commandments in Ephesians 6:1-4 when he tells children to honor their father and mother, fully expecting that to be applicable and relevant for them in their Christian obedience. What do you make of Paul saying all Scripture is God-breathed and useful for teaching, correcting, rebuking, and training in righteousness so the person of God may be equipped for every good work in 2 Timothy 3:16-17–he must’ve primarily been referring to the OT since the early church didn’t have all of the NT.

    There is continuity and discontinuity in how we Christians relate to the OT, definitely. I’m not going to go obey kosher laws or sacrifice a lamb or anything. And probably what Stanley is trying to do is to start people with Jesus, not with the Law, which I think is good. I could be wrong, but I fear some of what I’m seeing doesn’t fully capture Paul and the other authors of the New Testament and goes farther than they do in the discontinuity direction when it comes to the law. Correct me if I’m wrong. Anyway, hope you have a great day and a great week and blessings to you!

    -Stephen

  29. Kevin Brendler May 17, 2018 at 12:44 am

    Hi Stephen –

    Alright, so we’re looking at the standard view here that unbelieving Gentiles are in Paul’s mind at Rom 2:14-15. And honestly, our English Bibles leave no other alternative. After all, if Gentiles are *by nature* doing what the Mosaic Law requires, then the case is closed. Pagans are the reference. Pagans are fulfilling the Law. Pagans are actually doing what the Law requires, completely apart from God sending His own Son in the likeness of sinful flesh and for sin, and they are satisfying the just requirement of the Law without regeneration and without the Holy Spirit.

    But how plausible is that? You’re right. It’s absurd.

    Examine closely a phrase in Rom 2:14 and 8:4. Narrow your focus.

    ” … do … what the Law requires ….” (2:14 RSV)

    ” … the just requirement of the law … fulfilled ….” (8:4 RSV)

    Those two phrases are equivalent in meaning. Paul wrote both of those lines and in his mind (I believe) they are conceptually equivalent. It’s two ways of saying the exact same thing for the apostle.

    Now there can be no doubt whatsoever, *-none-*, that Paul believes ONLY those “who are in Christ Jesus (8:1)” can do what the Law requires or fulfill the just requirement of the Law. Again, those two phrases are conceptually identical.

    You see the point then.

    I’m going to add one more text that cinches the matter.

    Look closely at Rom 2:26 (NASB) …

    ” … keeps the requirements of the Law ….”

    There it is again.

    Let’s stack the three of them together:

    ” … do … what the Law requires ….” (2:14 RSV)

    ” … the just requirement of the law … fulfilled ….” (8:4 RSV)

    ” … keeps the requirements of the Law ….” (2:26 NASB)

    All three mean the exact same thing. There is not a scintilla of difference between them.

    *And it is beyond dispute that Paul is writing of -those in Christ Jesus- at 8:4 and 2:26-29.*

    Therefore the apostle *-must-* be thinking of Christian Gentiles at 2:14. It cannot be otherwise. I should be more humble in expression, given that I know of no one else who takes this position. It cannot be otherwise, to my mind. Please show me the error here. I do not see it.

    Lastly, the English translation of 2:14 … what am I going to do about that?

    Watch carefully ….

    Here is the RSV:

    “When Gentiles who have not the law do by nature what the law requires, they are a law to themselves, even though they do not have the law.”

    OK. Ready? Look closely:

    “When Gentiles who have not the law by nature do what the law requires, they are a law to themselves, even though they do not have the law.”

    Let’s throw in some commas:

    “When Gentiles, who have not the law by nature, do what the law requires, they are a law to themselves, even though they do not have the law.

    Now I am not a student of the Greek, but I’m told that construction is a perfectly legitimate and sound English rendering of Paul’s sentence.

    So what do we have here?

    A schizophrenic Paul who blasts the Gentiles as abject sinners, morally diseased in mind and life, in Romans 1, who then turns around two paragraphs later and tells us these same benighted pagans, some of them anyway, fulfill the just requirement of the Mosaic Law?

    Or do we have a sane Paul, the apostle Paul, who is describing Gentiles in Christ Jesus at 2:14 and 2:26, and Jewish believers at 8:4?

    For Heaven’s sake, what am I missing here?

    Furthermore, is not the OT prophetic promise of inward renewal and regeneration couched in terms of “the law written on the heart?”

    “But this is the covenant which I will make with the house of Israel after those days, says the Lord: I will put my law within them, and I will write it upon their hearts; and I will be their God, and they shall be my people.” Jeremiah 31:33

    “They show that what the law requires is written on their hearts ….” Rom 2:15

    Gentile Christians … BINGO!

    Be well, Stephen.

  30. Bill Green May 18, 2018 at 8:58 pm

    I watched about 10, out of 39, minutes of Stanley’s sermon. He is following so close to the Book of Acts that I got bored. I didn’t get to the part where he uttered the awful “unhitched” word. He is merely restating what is set forth in Acts and Galatians in a colloquial language. I would suggest that Mr. Prince’s faction read Acts and Galatians and listen to Stanley before passing judgment. Or perhaps Mr Prince, who must surely wear sandals, should refrain from eating unclean animals, attend worship and drop all forms of labor on Saturdays, and refrain from looking at any images of Christ, Who is God. (I am assuming here that he is circumcised.) All that Stanley is saying is what both Jesus and Paul have told us clearly. The old is passed away and we are a new creation in Christ. Our (hopefully) “good” behavior is not because we are observing Old Testament laws; it is because the Spirit of God lives in us.

  31. […] should completely unhitch their faith from the Old Testament. You can read my broad critique here (http://www.davidprince.com/2018/05/10/a-response-to-andy-stanley-jesus-and-the-old-testament-what-go… but in this article I want to zero in one Stanley assertion that his message to Christians is […]

  32. Darren May 22, 2018 at 4:38 pm

    Kevin, would you mind me asking you an off-topic question privately? My email is gmail with livethefour at the start. I saw your replies in another blog, and wanted to ask you about it. Thanks.

  33. Darren May 22, 2018 at 5:00 pm

    Kevin, would you say that the good works we were created unto (Eph 2:10) are simply evidence of saving faith, while not necessary in terms of salvation?

  34. Kevin Brendler May 24, 2018 at 12:01 pm

    No, I would not say that.

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