What Andy Stanley Has Forgotten
October 5, 2016
What Andy Stanley has forgotten is that conversion to Christianity involves a supernatural rebirth that requires the Word of God. Forgetting this essential truth has been the tendency of the seeker-sensitive church-growth movement. This vital truth is forgotten wherever sociology is given a higher priority in the church than theology--whether the church is Reformed or broadly evangelical. It is forgotten by pastoral search committees whenever they seek a charismatic personality in place of faithfulness to the ministry of the Word. And it is forgotten by churches that give the sacraments a higher place of priority than Bible preaching in the worship service. In reality, all of us forget that salvation takes place only by the grace of God through the Word of God when we neglect prayer as an essential component to our evangelism. In case we have forgotten, let the Scriptures remind us of the necessity and centrality of the Word of God in every ministry of the church: How are we to lead sinners to faith? Paul answers: "So faith comes from hearing, and hearing through the word of Christ" (Rom. 10:10). By what means are unbelievers converted? Peter states: "You have been born again, not of perishable seed but of imperishable, through the living and abiding word of God" (1 Pet. 1:23). How are churches revived? God commanded Ezekiel: "Say to them, O dry bones, hear the word of the Lord. . . . and you shall live" (Eze. 37:4-5). How do Christians grow in godliness? Jesus prayed to the Father: "Sanctify them in the truth; your word is truth" (Jn. 17:17). How do Christians learn how to make wise and godly decisions? Paul answered: "Do not be conformed to this world, but be transformed by the renewal of your mind, that by testing you may discern what is the will of God, what is good and acceptable and perfect" (Rom. 12:2). We may only pray that Andy Stanley's influence does not lead success-driven pastors away from the Word of God. For by following his lead, we may gather a massive following without saving a single soul. Stanley has argued that preaching the Bible is an impediment to the conversion of unchurched people today. He points out that most people in our post-Christian culture do not accept the authority of the Bible, so we should stop appealing to them on the basis of the Bible. What he forgets is that the Bible conveys not only information but power. The Word of God is "living and active" (Heb. 4:12), so that by the working of the Holy Spirit people are supernaturally changed by the Word in order to believe the Word. We may gather crowds to our movement without the Bible. But when it comes to gathering sinners into the salvation of Christ and his Church, we should follow Jesus' instruction over that of pragmatists like Stanley. According to Jesus, entry into his salvation requires not sociology or any other earthly methodology. Instead, Jesus declared: "flesh and blood has not revealed this to you, but my Father who is in heaven" (Mt. 16:17). It is through God's Word - the Bible - that God reveals his salvation to sinners today. "You must be born again," Jesus insisted (Jn. 3:7), through the power of the Spirit and by the Word of God.