Guest Commentary by Don Jasmin
Fundamental Baptist Ministries
Used with permission.
[The following is a] critical evaluation of a sermon by Dr. Andy Stanley, a leading mega-church Emergent pastor on the above title [“Speaking the Way the First Century Christians Did”], along with a scriptural analysis of how the first century Christians actually did speak.
First of all, this writer has absolutely no qualms or quarrel with the above title. It is an excellent theme that this prominent preacher [Andy Stanley] chose. This preacher fully concurs with the theme Dr. Stanley chose. He fully desires to speak in the same way that the first century Christians chose. His disagreement is with the content and meaning of Dr. Stanley’s sermon, not the title or the theme.
“Speaking the Way the First Century Christians Did”—Dr. Andy Stanley, North Point Community Church, Alpharetta, GA
The above sermon was delivered at “The Drive” Conference, a “three-day gathering of over 2,400 pastors and church leaders from 25 countries and 700 organizations. The sermon was a supposed “call for believers to re-examine and adapt their approach to communicating the Gospel in a culture where Christians are now the minority.”
Dr. Stanley informed the attendees that Christ declared that his disciples would “take the message to every nation and tribe and tongue,” and they did; Christians “became a majority world religion.” But then “we began to speak with an authority that I don’t think Jesus intended, and we’ve lost a bit of our message and our leverage.”
Stanley’s concern was that unless “evangelicals in particular—change their approach in communicating with unchurched people, [the] followers of Christ will lose their voice and forfeit opportunities to share the Gospel.” Stanley complained that we “sometimes keep people from ever coming close to church” because “we have given culture a lot of other things to argue with us about.” According to Stanley, believers must experience a dramatic shift, if “we are to speak into the culture of a world that needs to know there is a God in heaven” who “has invited each person to call Him Father.”
Stanley claimed that believers “assume a culture that doesn’t exist anymore, where correctness and accuracy no longer are the key delineators. We can’t take the “I’m right…you’re wrong” approach, which is supposedly one of the major obstacles in winning people. Stanley contended that “a major reason for the decline of the church was that we “have focused too much on policing the behavior of outsiders without looking at the inside.” Stanley alleged that love, prayer and caring for one another are not what outsiders see when “people think of the church.”
Stanley claimed that the reason the church “grew in the first century” is because “women were valued . . . children were treasured . . . and slaves attracted” because “everyone was equal before God.” The need of the church is to “go back and speak the way the first century Christian did.”
Now, all of the above statements may seem plausible, but they are actually a run-around-the basic truth Christ exemplified and actually taught. First, the major problem has NEVER been the culture in society, but the condition of sinners. The great need has NOT been an over-emphasis on the authoritarian scriptures, but an under-emphasis on an authoritative Saviour. The New Testament Christians did NOT “tiptoe through the tulips,” to proclaim the Gospel message.
Furthermore, God is NOT the spiritual FATHER of all human beings. The so-called “Lord’s Prayer,” which actually is not the Lord’s Prayer (that’s in John 17) in Matt. 6 was given to actual disciples who knew God personally as their Heavenly Father. God is only the “Father” of those who “love our Lord Jesus Christ in sincerity”—Eph. 6:24.
What Andy Stanley Actually says: How He Speaks [links added by LT]
ABOUT THE BIBLE
“At a conference of ‘pastors and teachers’ at the NewSpring Leadership Conference [NLC] in Sept. 2012, Stanley claimed that ‘Pastors should intentionally give unbelievers permission not to believe and not to obey.’ [Ed: Where does the Scripture give such permission?] He also encouraged pastors to STOP USING THE PHRASE ‘THE BIBLE SAYS’ in sermons because it creates a ‘house of cards’ that is easy to knock down.” – [Christian Post, September 10, 2012, http://www.christianpost.com/news/andy-stanley-your-approach-to-preaching-can-hinder-your-message-81396, emphasis added]
He further told attendees that we should NOT present to our children that “It’s all or nothing,” since there are parts of the O. T. “that’s almost impossible to defend.” He encouraged preachers: “Don’t cite the Bible, cite its authors.” We should never “point to the Scripture as a whole,” but only to individuals who were eye-witnesses of Christ’s death and resurrection. – [Ibid, emphasis added]
Stanley also stated that he believes in Christ’s resurrection, but “Not because of B-I-B-L-E.” Stanley said “I don’t know what happened to dinosaurs, and I don’t know anything about Adam and Eve, but I believe Jesus rose from the dead.” – [Ibid, emphasis added]
ABOUT THE VIRGIN BIRTH OF CHRIST
In a sermon on Dec. 3, 2016, Stanley minimized the Virgin Birth of Christ: “A lot of people don’t believe it, and I understand that.” “Maybe the thought is, they had to come up with some kind of myth about the birth of Jesus to give him street cred later on. Maybe that’s where that came from.” [Christian Today: https://www.christiantoday.com/article/megachurch.pastor.andy.stanley.claims.christianity.doesnt.hinge.on.birth.of.jesus.sparking.controversy/103385.htm]
In Apr. 2015, Andy Stanley spoke at the “Catalyst West” at Mariners Church in Irvine, CA where he stated that “the local church should be the ‘safest place on the planet for students to talk about anything, including same-sex attraction.” Stanley declared: “We just need to decide, regardless of what you think about this topic—no more students are going to feel like they have to leave the local church because they’re same-sex attracted or because they’re gay . . . that ends with us.” – [Christian Post, April 18, 2015, http://www.christianpost.com/news/andy-stanley-churches-should-be-safest-place-on-the-planet-for-gay-youth-137739/] [*LT Note: What struggling confused teenagers need is the same as what all people need—that is to realize their sinfulness and need for a Savior, repent and believe in and turn to Jesus Christ by faith, receiving His salvation through grace, asking Him to take over their lives, live inside them, and change them into what He desires for their lives. Providing a “safe” place for teens who are confused about their sexuality is only a truly safe place if it provides them with biblically honest and accurate answers regarding their sin and the solution to that sin.]
ARE THE ABOVE STATEMENTS THE WAY THE FIRST CENTURY CHRISTIANS SPOKE? READ THE STATEMENTS BELOW TO DISCOVER THE FACTS!
THE WAY THE FIRST CENTURY CHRISTIANS ACTUALLY SPAKE
- The first Century believers spoke FAITHFULLY. They never compromised the Gospel doctrines for fear of the opposition and persecution such preaching would bring to their lives. Acts. 8:4 states that “they that were scattered abroad went everywhere preaching the word.” They never toned down the Gospel truths simply because it might offend some radical Jews. In I Cor. 4:2, the Apostle Paul stated that “it is required in stewards that a man be found faithful.”
- The first Century Christians spoke FREELY. The first century believers did NOT “hide their light under a bushel” or “tiptoe through the tulips” as many modern compromising Emergent and professing New-Evangelical Christians do.
Acts 4:13 states that when the unbelieving Jews “saw the BOLDNESS of Peter and John, and perceived that they were unlearned and ignorant men, they marveled; and they took knowledge of them that they had been with Jesus.” Acts 5:32 states that these first century Christians “daily in the temple, and in every house . . . ceased not to teach and preach Jesus Christ.”
These early first century Christians did not withhold major biblical truths about Christ’s atonement and resurrection because they were afraid they might offend some potential hearers. With the Apostle Paul, there was no “cover-up” of the truth because he was afraid it would offend his hearers. Paul boldly declared in Acts 20:20-21 that I kept back nothing that was profitable to you, but have shewed you, and have taught you publicly, and from house to house, Testifying both to the Jews, and to the Greeks, repentance toward God, and faith toward our Lord Jesus Christ.”
- The first Century saints spoke FERVENTLY: “Life Style Evangelism” and a soft non-“conversational” non-controversial tone was NOT the Gospel these early first century believers proclaimed. These first century saints proclaimed the Gospel message with mighty AUTHORITY & POWER. The Holy Ghost had truly “come upon” them, so that they became bold witnesses wherever they traversed. They were mighty witnesses “both in Jerusalem, and in all Judaea, and in Samaria, and unto the uttermost parts of the earth—Acts 1:8.”
Finally, it should be noted that the first century Christians spoke (a) authoritatively: “For I have not shunned to declare unto you all the counsel of God—Acts 20:27: (b) affectionately: “for the love of Christ constraineth me…II Cor. 5:14a”; (c) Annointedly: “who he which stablisheth us with you in Christ, and hath anointed us, is God—II Cor. 1:21.”
Let’s truly speak like the first century Christians spoke, not like Andy Stanley and the worldly emergent Christians and the New-Evangelical imitators do today. In Acts chapter two, the Apostle Peter preached a classic sermon dealing with the death and resurrection of Jesus Christ based on Ps. 16:8-11, where he spoke “freely” about David’s decease—Acts 2:29—and Christ’s resurrection—Acts 2:30-36.