Andy Stanley Still Not Answering, Puts Down Theology and Preaching

Does the Bible consider homosexuality a sin or not? It seems like a simple question for a pastor to answer. Yet, Pastor Andy Stanley has so far refused to make his answer clear for all the world to know it.

Stanley’s viewpoint is at the center of controversy currently after Al Mohler Jr. brought up one of Stanley’s sermon illustrations in a column for Christian Post entitled: “Is the Megachurch the New Liberalism?”  For the record, I think the answer is yes and that Mohler’s column was right on.

The sermon illustration put Stanley’s views of homosexuality on trial because he took issue with a homosexual couple volunteering in one of his church campuses, not because of their homosexuality. But because one of the individuals was not yet divorced from his wife. Stanley identified the offending sin as adultery. If you’d like to hear the sermon Stanley was giving in context you can listen to the audio and a discussion of it in this Fighting for the Faith podcast.

The matter has generated quite a few stories and radio discussions because the Bible is very clear on the subject, in contrast to Stanley. While the viewpoint in unpopular, homosexuality is one of the many behaviors listed in Scripture as sins. So Pastor Stanley either accepts what the Word of God states plainly, or he doesn’t. And his parishioners and the body of Christ as a whole deserve to know which it is.

The Christian Post had a follow up story today (May 6) that still hasn’t cleared things up. That article by Anugrah Kumar called “Pastor Andy Stanley Alludes to How Christians Should Treat Gays”  mentioned that when asked for his views, “Stanley had pointed The Christian Post to his message series when asked Wednesday for clarification on his views on homosexuality, and added that he might issue a statement to CP in the near future about the topic.”

That’s not an answer, that is a non-refusal refusal to answer (kind of like the non-apology apologies you see in politics all the time).

In his most recent sermon (of that 8-part series), Stanley instead turned the issue on its head saying Christians have a “branding problem” (because people call Christians homophobic), putting down theology (from CP: “Regrettably, he added, many a times we find that those who have hurt us are the ones who are right in their theology.”) and saying: “Jesus’ movement was all about ‘how you love,’ but overtime it became ‘what you believe,’ he said. ‘If we would simply do what Jesus did… instead of arguing about what he said, ‘the world would change, the reputation of Christ’s followers would change, the influence of the church would change. This is easy. This requires nothing… just a brand new worldview’.”

I’m not sure where to begin. Okay, on the “branding” point. What the world thinks of Christians does not matter. Jesus told his disciples they would be hated for his sake. I absolutely agree that the truth should always be spoken in love and that Christians should not get hung up on one particular sin as if it is a worse sin than any other. But refusing to tell the truth is NOT love.  Each and every sin and lifestyle of sin is soul-endangering.

Second, on the point of theology. I am wary of any pastor who puts down doctrine or theology. His statement that often the people who hurt us are doctrinally correct is an overgeneralization and a red herring.

Third, this business about a Jesus movement gets under my skin. What Jesus did wasn’t a “movement.” It wasn’t like the sexual revolution, or women’s suffrage, or prohibition for crying out loud. That language plays into the hands of every person who wants to reduce Christ to his being a good man who was an inspirational example for us to follow.

Jesus was God in flesh revealing himself and the incredible good news! That he was going to make a way for hopeless sinners to be reconciled with God through his death and resurrection. He came to bring a new covenant yes, that would change our relationship to the Mosaic Law. But that didn’t change that the Law was right. It was meant to open our eyes! The Law was given so that we would know we were sinners who could never, ever be good enough in our striving to be acceptable to God. Jesus came and lived a perfect life, one that we COULD NEVER LIVE, so that he could take on the punishment we deserve and become our substitution.

We CANNOT do what Jesus did. We will never even come close. Should we love others? Absolutely! But it can only come from Jesus through us.  As believers the more we surrender ourselves to Jesus, the more we can be transformed by him, and the more we will resemble him in behavior.

Jesus was all about “What you believe.” In fact, just this afternoon I was reading John 6 and was pondering this verse: John 6:28 “They said therefore unto him, What must we do, that we may work the works of God? ” The multitude wanted to know how they could do what Jesus had done (he had just fed the 5,000).

But Christ’s answer was not “model my behavior” or “have enough faith and you’ll be able to work these miracles too.” No. His answer was believe in me. John 6:29 “Jesus answered and said unto them, This is the work of God, that ye believe on him whom he hath sent.”

The last paragraph in the CP article was also troubling. “People around Christians, the pastor suggested, should not feel condemned, and that would give leverage to us which we have lost. Change cannot be brought about by preaching and legislation, he emphasized. Change comes when people see something; “it’s so attractive, almost irresistible.”

People should not feel condemned? I agree that bruising feelings unnecessarily is wrong, but to be concerned merely with a person’s feelings rather than their soul is heartless and cruel.

All people who have not believed the gospel of Jesus Christ are living, condemned by their sins, and damned to hell. That’s the problem!

I’m truly saddened that Stanley thinks “change cannot be brought about by preaching.” Since that is the very command we’ve been given. Christians are commanded to preach the Gospel. A quick search of “preach” in the Bible yields a great many verses (these are just a few of them) that prove a huge part of Jesus’ own ministry was preaching and his followers were to do the same, verses Stanley needs to reexamine I think.

Matthew 4:17 From that time began Jesus to preach, and to say, Repent ye; for the kingdom of heaven is at hand.

Mark 3:14 And he appointed twelve, that they might be with him, and that he might send them forth to preach …

Mark 16:15 And he said unto them, Go ye into all the world, and preach the gospel to the whole creation.

Jesus speaking in Luke 4:18 The Spirit of the Lord is upon me, Because he anointed me to preach good tidings to the poor: He hath sent me to proclaim release to the captives, And recovering of sight to the blind, To set at liberty them that are bruised, To proclaim the acceptable year of the Lord.

Acts 5:42 And every day, in the temple and at home, they ceased not to teach and to preach Jesus as the Christ.

Acts 10:42 And he charged us to preach unto the people, and to testify that this is he who is ordained of God to be the Judge of the living and the dead.

Romans 10:13-17 for, Whosoever shall call upon the name of the Lord shall be saved. How then shall they call on him in whom they have not believed? and how shall they believe in him whom they have not heard? and how shall they hear without a preacher? and how shall they preach, except they be sent? even as it is written, How beautiful are the feet of them that bring glad tidings of good things! But they did not all hearken to the glad tidings. For Isaiah saith, Lord, who hath believed our report? So belief cometh of hearing, and hearing by the word of Christ.

1 Corinthians 1:23 but we preach Christ crucified, unto Jews a stumblingblock, and unto Gentiles foolishness…

22 thoughts on “Andy Stanley Still Not Answering, Puts Down Theology and Preaching

  1. Question: Are you – or a family member or a close friend – struggling with the sin of homosexuality? If not, they why should you care what Andy Stanley’s “stance” is on it? It seems to me that adultery is a sin that is far, far more rampant in the church than homosexuality. And since the sermon in question wasn’t even on the topic of homosexuality (and, early on, implied that North Point, in “preaching the Bible”, believes that homosexual practice is a sin), I’m not sure why he owes anybody outside of his own church an answer on anything. I fail to see how one’s belief about homosexuality is a core tenant of Christianity (and before you accuse me of anything, I do believe that homosexual *practice* is a sin, and I am familiar enough with North Point to know that they have not changed their belief and practice in this regard, either.)

    Also, I would point out to you that John’s use of “believe” and the Hebrew belief about “belief” was that you live what you believe – action and belief are not two separate entities. That is a Greek/Western treatment, not one that fits with Jesus’ culture.

    As for the rest of your criticisms, I’d suggest you listen to the entire series before making them (since a number of them come from his quick summation of the previous seven weeks). You have made yourself a slanderer throughout this article by characterizing Pastor Stanley’s belief (incorrectly) on numerous topics and you should repent.

  2. Don’t read this wrong, while the Bible is very clear on sin (including homosexuality), I feel we jump easily to a conclusion and cause controversy on what is said instead of listening to what is meant.

    You have spoken truth AND Andy has spoken truth. Christians have to stop fighting over NON-issues. Andy needs support from the Christian community at large, we scrutinize over one little thing without allowing the TRUTH to be uncovered.

    If you think about the fact that it was a homosexual couple volunteering and one was still married (heterosexual marriage). What if Andy was trying to help the person be reconciled back to their spouse and out of the homosexual relationship. If he was trying to work with the married couple through their marital issues. Would that be suitable thing for him to do as a pastor in place of condemning homosexuality publicly?

    I agree with Andy if I understand the short paragraph on his 8-point Sermon. Christians have gotten to the point where it appears that it’s US vs Them (Saved vs Sinners) mentality. And homosexuality is a very easy sin to identify, much easier than lying, lust, idolatry, anger, etc. When Jesus walked the earth everyone he met was a sinner, when we walk around today everyone we meet is a sinner. So if the LOVE we are supposed to express is the love of Christ why do we go around focusing on “fixing the sin,” that’s not our job it’s Christ’s!!!

    • Since this post I went back and read the article “Pastor Andy Stanley Alludes to How Christians Should Treat Gays.” I find that my hypothetical “What if” was not accurate. When he calls the couple, the first man’s ex-wife and child, and her new boyfriend and his kid, “the modern family,” I find that his next comment in contrast with God’s word.

      He refers to holding on to truth and grace, which includes forgiveness and love. The grace with which we live as Christians is not there to allow us to continue in sin (Romans 6:1-2), but to allow us to live a purer life than what was offered by the Law (Matthew 5:17-48).

      I continue to stand that “How” we as Christians treat non-Christians is still a question each of us personally need to address with our Lord Jesus and the Father!

      • Simple,
        Thanks for your integrity and going back to the article and reporting back to the readers. Unfortunately, it is rare nowadays for anybody to do that!

        The more I study Scripture, and the church, the more convinced I am that it’s not so much how we as followers of Jesus treat the world but how one follower of Jesus treats fellow followers. Jesus said that we are to make disciples of all nations. And the nations will know what that means IF we have love, not for them, per se, but for ONE ANOTHER. Also, The Lord, in praying to the Father, said, “the world will know that I came if they are unified.”

        Let’s face it, Jesus said that we WILL be persecuted if we openly identify with righteousness and with Him (Matt 5). And I honestly believe that we’ve been far too accommodating of the world, for fear that we will “turn them off” of the gospel (whatever that means) by a single misstep. We KNOW that regardless of how we treat a non Christian, if a non Christian doesn’t respond to the convicting work of the Spirit, it won’t matter one iota. The truth is, we cannot turn off a non Christian. The non Christian is already DEAD in their tresspasses and sins. How can a dead person be turned off?

        And the Scripture is clear. We as Christians ARE to call out those who hold to false teaching and to call on the carpet those who don’t bear the fruit of righteousness. I believe that Andy Stanley is guilty of both. Having heard the “Gracie meets Truthy” message twice, I walk away from that grieved and angry. For him to actually give the clear impression that this “new” mishmash of two gay men (one is the daughter’s biological father) and a straight couple, with the girl in the middle is CHURCH is tantamount to blasphemy. It may describe a watered down, appearance of reality of religious people who get together on Sunday mornings to play church. But it is BY NO MEANS the true church–1 Corinthians 5 comes to mind here. Paul also affirms this in 2 Timothy: 2: 19 But God’s firm foundation stands, bearing this seal: “The Lord knows those who are his,” and, “Let everyone who names the name of the Lord depart from iniquity.”

        That illustration is bad enough if Andy didn’t have such a big stage. But tens of thousands listen to him weekly. But it gets worse. Because one cannot find the illustration in his new, updated version of “Gracie meets Truthy”. And there’s no explanation for its omission. I wonder why that is. And to make matters even worse, Pastor Stanley made a recent comment about the baker who refused to bake a wedding cake for a homosexual couple, definitely denying the Scriptural injunction of “whatever you eat or drink or whatever you do, do all to the glory of God.” His comment about this was “it is your business to conduct your business as a Christian, but leave Jesus out of it.” Really, Andy?

        I could go on. But the issue here is how a well known pastor has appeared to fold like a flimsy house of cards. Now compare that with our sister in Christ Meriam Ibrahim, who is languishing in a Sudanese prison, having just delivered a baby (and now the three of them are in a prison cell) and is facing 100 lashes and then death by hanging. It is my understanding that the Sudanese government gave her three days to recant her faith in Jesus but she said, “go ahead and kill me because I will not give up my faith.” And we are concerned about turning off those who are already dead in their sins and tresspasses?

  3. Pingback: The Bible and Homosexuality | 66 Books of the Bible in 66 days

  4. Pingback: Andy Stanley confounds the Church on whether homosexuality is a sin | Stand Up for the Truth

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  6. I always find it Interesting when we try to justify our personal sin. Homosexuals have done the same stating it is the way they were born, as if that gives them the freedom to participate in homosexual relations. If one is born with tendencies for homosexuality, alcoholism or even murder, it doesn’t give them a built in excuse to partake of those particular behaviors. It should further show them their need for Christ and only through Him can one find the strength to overcome their sinfulness, even if it is a tendency one is born with. Being born that way isn’t a permission slip, it’s a cross to bare and a burden to overcome through the strength, grace and love of Christ.

    • While this is true, it remains, who are we to judge?

      We must consider that each and every one of us has fallen short of God’s glory. And to consider that having found Christ in our lives makes us better than someone is the opposite of what Jesus teaches.

      While the Bible is clear on what sin is, Jesus teaches that we should no longer make distinctions between one another, that we have all equally offended God. Too often I have gotten in the way of Jesus by judging others, I am not qualified to judge, how can I a sinner judge what is sin? And how can we show Christ’s love if we consider our sin less than another’s?

      If I stand in the way of Jesus, how will Jesus be able to reach the people I meet?

      • I agree completely that we always need to remember we are all sinners and only God’s grace has saved us. However a key component of sharing the Gospel is pointing out people’s lostness (in a loving way). If they don’t recognize/accept that they are sinners they can’t repent and be saved.

        But back to the topic at hand. We are commanded to judge doctrine rightly. The matter of Stanley’s doctrine on the issue is to be judged rightly (by scripture).

  7. A Christian of 67 years says…
    The Bible repeatedly states that homosexuality is an ‘abomination’ to God. If nothing else this should be a ‘red flag’ that this lifestyle doesn’t meet God’s approval -because it goes across the grain of how he created us as male and female; and for what purposes. Paul in 1 Corinthians 6 states that homosexuality use to be the lifestyle of some of the members of the Corinthian church before they were Christians; but, it ceased being their lifestyle once they became Christians and were indwelt by the presence and holy power of Christ’s Spirit. Yes God offers us grace, and the hallmark of Christianity is the grace we offer one another. But as Paul points out in Romans should we sin more and encourage others to sin more so that grace might abound more and more? Of course not. We extend grace to everyone including homosexuals, but this does not mean we give approval to their lifestyle. We extend grace but within the boundary of still disapproving of their lifestyle which remains ‘abominable’ to God…with the hope not that God will change his view of homesexuals, but that homosexuals will change their view of God by coming to see how hurtful this lifestyle is to all parties involved, and how incredibly blessed are all who have found God enabling them to leave this lifestyle behind. I think of two friends who died of AIDS, but both became true Christians shortly before their deaths. One of the two said shortly before his death, ‘This year is better than last year. Last year I didn’t know Christ. This year I do know Him…and it’s made all the difference…’ The other young man upon receiving Christ as his Savior wept on my wife’s shoulders. I think of another young homosexual who walked into our ‘New Hope’ street side office one day and said, “I could use some ‘new hope'” He became a truely transformed Christian and now almost 30 years later he has been able to successfully resist every temptation to return to his pre-Christian lifestyle. Three yound men..and there are others! Praise God there are others… There’s hope for anyone!

  8. Pingback: Christians – Let’s Not Do This | Steak and a Bible

  9. Andy Stanley is a coward who offers no conviction whatsoever. I’ve been saying it for years and finally people are beginning to see it.

  10. Andy’s right. So much of our contemporary theologizing and evangelizing is actually a product of modernity. Most of us will get to postmodern theologizing and evangelizing once postmodernity has already passed. So that we are both culturally obsolete and oblivious to the fact that we are unorthodox in faith and in life. In truth, very little of our theology and evangelizing reflects early Christian thought as any serious reading of the bible in its context and/or the Early Church Fathers makes clear. We simply pass on what our favorite pastors and “theologians” have said.

    • Jonx, but how much of Jesus’ preaching was NOT in keeping with the culture of His day? In the Sermon on the Mount, did He not say, “You have heard it said” (i.e., cultural, conventional wisdom), “but I say to you” (counter cultural statements)?

  11. Obviously, these Wolves in Sheep’s Clothing are not genuine preachers anointed by Jesus Christ through the indwelling of the Holy Spirit, rather they are simply money loving impostors misusing the name of Jesus to deceive and drive the masses through the gates of hell as they tickle their itching ears with flattering lips and boastful tongues.

    • My desire is not to “fight” other Christians. It is to “contend earnestly for the faith which was once for all delivered to the saints” as the book of Jude commands. Part of contending for the faith is defending the truth outlined in the Scriptures against anyone who distorts them (outside or inside of the church).

  12. Pingback: Andy Stanley confounds the Church about homosexuality - Stand Up For The Truth

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