The Trouble with Andy's Sermon

Andy Stanley has a problem with religion. The pastor of North Point Community Church in Atlanta (one the nation's largest) has been preaching against religion. Over at Juicy Ecumenism, Alexander Griswold offers some helpful responses to a recent sermon by Stanley entitled "Putting Religion in its Place."

In the sermon, Stanley makes the following statements:
  • “When religion takes first place, it begins flexing its muscles at the expense of mercy…. [W]hen religion is in the top shelf, when religion is most important, when religion moves into first place, mercy always, always, always, always loses.”
  • “Jesus consistently prioritized people over his own religion, and he’s the Son of God!”
  •  “Great parents set rules, and when they feel it’s in the best interest of their children, they break their rules… Great parents decide that their children are more important than the laws that the parents set. And the parent who doesn’t do that creates an orderly home that everyone can’t wait to leave. And God is a perfect, heavenly Father.”
  • “Jesus’ conscience was informed by compassion, rather than consistency…”
  • “Love demands inconsistency. Every parent knows this!”
  • You are more important to me than my view.
  • “Where will that lead? How far do you go? What extreme does this take us? I don’t know.”
Let's face it, religion is an easy target. Who says, "I love religion"? Since I was a kid I have heard people say, "I'm about Jesus not religion." It sounds so sincere and loving; so right. Religion is mean and all about "the rules." Of course, the problem with all of this is that no one seems to be able to define religion.

Is religion Pharisaical self-righteousness? Is religion tithing mint, dill, and cumin while neglecting mercy? Is religion the doctrines and ethics prescribed in Scripture? Is religion the biblically prescribed elements of our corporate worship? Is religion loving knowledge and hating people?

And this is part of, though certainly all, the trouble with Andy's sermon. The sermon is full of false antitheses that the Bible never makes. He polarizes things that are friends, not enemies. He tears asunder what God has joined together.

Griswold observes:
Really, the problem permeating throughout Stanley’s sermon is a false dichotomy between ‘love’ and ‘people’ vs. ‘religion’ and ‘views.’ Put simply, there should never be a conflict between practicing the Christian religion and loving someone. If there is, either you aren’t practicing the faith or you aren’t actually loving someone.

Likewise, he creates a false dichotomy between ‘you’ and the Christian ‘view.’ ‘You’ are not more important than the Christian ‘view,’ because there is no conflict between the Christian view and the importance of every individual. If the Christian ‘view’ keeps you from loving someone, again, you’ve misunderstood the situation.
Read the entire post HERE.