In this episode of the podcast. Bill Giovannetti continues sharing new book, CHAOS:As Goes the Church, So Goes the World.
Below you have a short snippet of each chapter…
The Whole Bible for the Whole Church
Andy Stanley is one of the most influential evangelical preachers in America today. In fact, a 2010 survey found him to be one of America’s top ten most influential preachers. I imagine he’s only grown in popularity since then. The son of Charles Stanley, his roots sink deeply into fundamentalist soil. So it created quite a stir when he told us all it was time to “unhitch our faith from the Old Testament” in his now infamous sermon, timed to coincide with the release of his 2019 book, Irresistible.
Think of what it means for a major evangelical leader to jettison three-quarters of the Bible.
Michael J. Kruger’s analysis is exactly right: “According to Stanley, virtually everyone in the history of the church has been wrong about the role of the Old Testament—until now. It’s truly a jaw-dropping claim.”1 Kruger is the president of Reformed Theological Seminary’s Charlotte campus.
A “jaw-dropping claim” sums it up nicely.
And the fact that not enough jaws have dropped to at least reconsider his evangelical credentials proves my thesis of theological chaos pandemic in the church.
Someone might say, “You’re taking Andy Stanley out of context.” I’m not. He says, “The Ten Commandments have no authority over you. None. To be clear: Thou shalt not obey the Ten Commandments” (136).
Again, Stanley’s defenders might say, “You’re not representing his position correctly.” But he declares, “Paul never leverages the old covenant as a basis for Christian behavior” (209).
I read this and scratch my head, because, when I read Paul I find his whole argumentation a leveraging of Old Testament Scriptures to preach a Both Testaments faith:
Owe no one anything except to love one another, for he who loves another has fulfilled the law. For the commandments, “You shall not commit adultery,” “You shall not murder,” “You shall not steal,” “You shall not bear false witness,” “You shall not covet,” and if there is any other commandment, are all summed up in this saying, namely, “You shall love your neighbor as yourself.” Love does no harm to a neighbor; therefore love is the fulfillment of the law. (Romans 13:8-10)
I’d call that whole Pauline paragraph a leveraging of the old covenant for Christian behavior. Stanley’s assertions are flat out unbiblical.
Christians are already flaky enough with their Bibles. No Christian leader should ever utter a syllable that weakens our trust in and stance upon the sixty-six books of Scripture.
No Christian leader should ever utter a syllable that weakens our trust in and stance upon the sixty-six books of Scripture.
Why does Andy Stanley go here? He says it is for the sake of evangelism. I’m all for evangelism, so…. fine. He suggests, in a nutshell, that the reason we Christians are losing the younger generation is the offensiveness of Old Testament stories and laws. Therefore, to make the gospel message “irresistible,” we must “unhitch our faith from the Old Testament.”
Welcome to a church ruled by people who are better leaders and more engaging speakers than they are expositors of Scripture.
The Whole Bible for the Whole Church
Stanley’s confusion is on full display when he writes,
The fact that someone chose to publish the old covenant with the new covenant in a genuine leather binding doesn’t mean we should treat them or apply them the same way. The Bible is all God’s Word . . . to somebody. But it’s not all God’s word to everybody.
Do not misunderstand what he is saying. He is arguing that the first 39 books of the Sacred canon should no longer be included within the genuine leather covers of our Bibles. In his words, they are not “God’s word” to us, the church, the people of God today.
This able exposition of the Marcionite heresy must not go unchallenged. Justin Martyr (AD 110-165), Irenaeus (AD 130-200), and Hippolytus (AD 170-235) nailed Marcion of Sinope to the wall for it in the second century, and it’s time to do the same to Andy Stanley in the run up to the twenty-second century.
He flat out admits he’s flirting with the charge of heresy: “I’m not suggesting the two testaments are not equally inspired. My point is they aren’t equally applicable. As heretical as that may sound, consider this…”2 Stanley proceeds to argue that readers of John and other New Testament books have gotten saved by reading them, but this doesn’t happen with Old Testament books. See? Time to unhitch.
Application follows after interpretation. If you do your interpretation right, every portion of Scripture is equally applicable to the people of God in every age.
The testimony of both Scripture and history is that all of the Bible is the book of God. All the Bible is the book of Grace. All the Bible is relevant for all the people of God of all ages. To say that there are differentiations in application is one thing—evangelical scholars agree. But to say we should unhitch our faith is another thing altogether.
The fact that Andy Stanley cannot find the grace he’s looking for in the Old Testament says more about his theological blinders than about the Scriptures.
Having grown up in a dispensational theology, I understand his position deep down in my bones. But Stanley goes beyond dispensationalism to ultra-dispensationalism, something the late, great Harry Ironside — himself a dispensationalist — called “wrongly dividing the word of truth.”3
A Covenant Does Not a Testament Make
Andy Stanley erroneously conflates the Old Covenant with the Old Testament. He says, “Bottom line: ‘covenant’ and ‘testament’ are interchangeable.”4
Not so fast.
The Old Testament is the body of 39 books.
The Old Covenant is a teaching within those books. The Old Covenant teaching emphasizes divine law and divine wrath for those who fall short. It then reveals divine grace as the generous gift bequeathed by God. It specifies the conditions under which humans qualify to participate as heirs of God. It shows how God, through the death of the Savior to come, unlocked the vaults of heaven, bequeathing an inheritance and eternal life to all who would join the tribe of believing Abraham.
J. Barton Payne’s, A Theology of the Older Testament, is a groundbreaking work in this regard. I wish Stanley had steeped his mind in such teaching before he opened his mouth in his ill-informed preaching.
Contrary to popular belief, within the books of the Old Testament itself, the Old Covenant of Works is displaced by the New Testament of Grace (Galatians 3:17,18).
Paul himself said so:
And this I say, that the law, which was four hundred and thirty years later, cannot annul the [testament] that was confirmed before by God in Christ, that it should make the promise of no effect. For if the inheritance is of the law, it is no longer of promise; but God gave it to Abraham by promise. (Galatians 3:17, 18)
In other words, the Old Testament itself, teaches a movement from a covenant of works (Edenic) to a covenant of grace (Abrahamic).
As if that’s not enough, it teaches it again in the movement from a covenant of law (Mosaic), back to a covenant of grace (Davidic, called the new/renewed covenant by Jeremiah, which is really the Abarahamic covenant all over again).
The exact same movement happens in the New Testament (Hebrews 8:6). In other words, all of Scripture is God’s heavenly shout to startle us from works to grace, from salvation by earning it to salvation by inheriting it as the last will and testament of a Crucified and Risen Savior.
Old Testament scholar, Walter Kaiser, once quipped, “I love the New Testament—it reminds me so much of the Old.”5
“God is love” is written in the New Testament, but it is only there as the summation of a million echoes and whispers from the Old Testament. The God revealed in the Law and the Prophets is one who nurses his children like a loving mother, and gathers us under his wings like a hen gathers her chicks. He is tender-hearted and abundant in hesed (grace).
That’s how John came to know that God is love, and that’s why he came to write it. He read his Bible.
In reply to all this, D.A. Carson succinctly states, “We need Jesus, so we need the Old Testament.”6
We need a healthy dose of Vitamin OT to grow strong spiritual bones and bulging evangelistic muscles.
To read the rest of Chaos, please pick up the book!
[Please click here to be notified when the book is released.]
You might have caught some changes in file names, podcasts episode names and titles, because I have basically changed the numbering system to make the whole structure of the book more clear, it’s a work in progress. I’m also changing chapter titles…
With this episode Bill continues giving away most of this book, as he shares it with you on the podcast. The message is urgent. The message is timely. If it strikes a chord with you, please share it with your friends. I appreciate your prayers.
There has never been a more important moment in the life of the modern church. It is time for us to return to our roots and seek God as never before.
Here’s the Table of Contents (subject to change)
CHAOS: AS GOES THE CHURCH SO GOES THE WORLD
Part One: Disturbing Trends in Today’s Church
1. The Giants Have Perished
2. Cheap Epistemology
3. The Song that Never Ends
4. For the Love of All That’s Holy
5. Whatever Happened to Hell?
6. Modern Day Pharisees
7. Kingdom Mania
8. The Discipleship Captivity of the Church
9. The Whole Bible for the Whole Church
10. The Leadership Captivity of the Church
11. How the Church Murdered Grace
Part Two: The Revival We Need
12. Grow Big / Reformation pt 1
13. Grow Big / Reformation pt 2
14. Stand Tall / Some Theology Concerning Revival
15. Stand Tall / Some History Concerning Revival
16. Proclaim Christ
Afterword: What’s an Evangelical?
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Please click here to be notified when the book is released.
1 Michael J. Kruger, “Why We Can’t Unhitch from the Old Testament” from the Gospel Coalition, retrieved June 19, 2020 from https://www.thegospelcoalition.org/reviews/irresistible-andy-stanley/.
2 Stanley, Andy. Irresistible (p. 103). Zondervan. Kindle Edition.
3 Ironside was the popular pastor of Chicago’s historic Moody Church. You can find his booklet in the public domain here: https://www.wholesomewords.org/etexts/ironside/wrongly.pdf
4 Stanley, Andy. Irresistible (p. 97). Zondervan. Kindle Edition.
5 From a personal conversation reported at https://www.michaelrydelnik.org/hitched-old-testament/ and relieved, June 28, 2020.
6 In the Gospel Coalition podcast for December 18, 2018 retrieved June 19, 2020 from https://www.thegospelcoalition.org/podcasts/tgc-podcast/need-jesus-need-old-testament/.