By Jim Fletcher
Used with permission.
(Jim Fletcher is a writer, researcher, speaker and director of Prophecy Matters (prophecymatters.com). He writes online for WorldNetDaily; Beliefnet; American Family Association; the Jerusalem Post; and Rapture Ready. He can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org.)
Almost 20 years ago, Andy Stanley—the son of Southern Baptist legend Charles Stanley—emerged as a new generation pastor, a man of rare gifts when it comes to communicating. He eschewed jackets and ties and the more formal trappings of traditional church.
In about 2000, he was instrumental in helping develop a leadership entity known as Catalyst.
In the midst of all this, Stanley the Younger was in a feud of sorts with Stanley the Elder over the latter’s separation from his wife (Andy’s mother).
Over time, the son’s church eclipsed the father’s church in terms of attendees, and today Andy Stanley is one-third of what I call the Evangelical Trifecta: Rick Warren, Bill Hybels, and Stanley. Quite interestingly, Warren is based on the west coast; Hybels holds down the Midwest from Chicago, and Stanley is entrenched on the east coast. In more ways than one, they blanket the country and absolutely control the evangelical narrative. Their books and methologies totally dominate evangelicalism and their church growth techniques are now American dogma.
In recent years, Andy Stanley has made waves with his brand of what I’d call Progressive Evangelicalism. His prayers at Obama’s inaugurations,1 and his willingness to allow Michelle Obama to speak at his North Point Church are part of a troubling trend. He also has absolutely helped mainstream homosexuality within the evangelical church.
Stanley, who comes across as a winsome, easy-going fellow, is really a major change agent. His podcasts, messages, and books are absorbed by many tens of thousands of U.S. pastors.
I will tell you clearly that I believe he is described in the book of Jude. Men like Stanley have crept in unawares.
In our time.
What does this have to do with Israel?
Stanley’s rise, and that of his fellow change agents, coincides with a sharp downturn of support for Israel in the churches. It’s one element in an overall larger story, but the bottom line is this: Stanley’s watering-down of Christianity runs parallel to the rise of the so-called Christian Palestinianists. While Stanley himself rarely speaks of Israel, many of his friends and associations are anti-Israel.
Often, people answer me by saying: “But Charles Stanley supports Israel!”
He does so far as I know, but you do see that’s irrelevant in the context of what Andy Stanley is doing . . . don’t you?
Overall, Andy Stanley wants to fundamentally change what the Evangelical Church is. He, like Warren and Hybels, wants conformity and group-think. He wants you to think as he thinks.
And he thinks in dangerous ways.
Late last month, the Southern Baptist Convention’s “Ethics and Religious Liberty Commission” (ERLC) hosted another self-serving conference in Nashville, titled “Onward” (shockingly, the same title as that of the ERLC chief’s new book; it’s about the marketing, stupid). Stanley was invited to speak.
Boy, did he.
While ERLC President Russell Moore looked on grinning, Andy Stanley said the following:
“I would ask preachers and pastors and student pastors in their communications to get the spotlight off the Bible and back on the resurrection.”
Get the spotlight off the Bible!
Welcome to the Age of Apostasy.
Did you hear what he said? Andy Stanley speaks blasphemy and nonsense . . . and no national leader says a word.
Just for a moment, think about the illogical nature of Stanley’s statement: how do we know about the resurrection? Through Scripture.
Does anybody call him on this nonsense? No. He grows stronger.
Several years ago, Stanley gave an interview in which he openly said that as a college freshman, he embraced his professor’s contention that Genesis 1-11 is a fairy tale.
You need to understand this one bit of information undergirds everything he does. It is foundational to his thinking and “ministry.”
He is arrogant and powerful.
When you have famous national evangelicals with this kind of worldview, you will see a downturn in support for Israel. Stanley has made several outrageous statements about the Bible in the past three years; in short, he wants people to get their focus off the Bible. Can you imagine such?
Andy Stanley’s so-called ministry is an outrage. Would that he was held accountable. But he won’t be.
This is a key reason (though largely unknown by the rank-and-file) why Israel has fallen out of favor. If you relegate the Bible to myth, why pay attention? Why would Israel’s historical claims to the land be more valid than anyone else’s?
Stanley is helping destroy the American Church. In my opinion, he will be a major reason the American Church morphs into the State Church before too many more years pass.
And remember: my views of Stanley aren’t the story here. The story is the unconscionable violence he is willingly doing to Scripture and to the evangelical community.