I recently received Andy Stanley’s latest book, Irresistible: Reclaiming the New that Jesus Unleashed for the World (Zondervan, 2018). My review of the book will soon be available on The Gospel Coalition website.
For now, I thought it would be helpful to highlight the promotional statements on the cover. By the looks of them, Stanley’s message in this book will be very similar to his controversial sermons over the last couple of years (see my prior interactions with Stanley, here and here).
Here are some of the statements:
Once upon a time there was a version of our faith that was practically . . . irresistible. But that was then. Today we preach, teach, write, and communicate as if nothing has changed. As if “The Bible says it,” still settles it. It’s time to hit pause on much of what we’re doing and consider the faith modeled by our first-century brothers and sisters who had no official Bible, no status, and humanly speaking, little chance of survival.
Here we see again one of Stanley’s consistent messages, namely that a Bible-centered faith is not the solution but the problem. They didn’t have a Bible in the early church (we are told) and they did just fine without it!
Andy will invite you to embrace the version of faith that, against all odds, initiated a chain of events resulting in the most significant and extensive cultural transformation the world has ever seen. A version we must embrace if we are to be salt and light in an increasingly savorless and dark world.
So, it looks like the message of the book will basically be: “To go forward we first have to go back.” Back to the early church, that is. And certainly such a desire is commendable. I agree that more attention needs to be given to the early church (see my recent Christianity at the Crossroads). But, does that mean a good chunk of this book will be about church history? We will see.
Andy Stanley illustrates how a shift from the resurrection of Jesus to a Bible-centric faith has left us with an anemic version of Christianity that undermines our credibility and our evangelistic effectiveness.
There are some enormous claims in this sentence. One claim is that focusing on the Bible actually hinders evangelism! Not sure how that can be demonstrated, but we will see. Another major claim is that early Christians were (apparently) not interested in the Bible but instead just focused on the resurrection. Again, that has to be shown.
So, there’s a lot to cover in this book. I look forward to reviewing it.
One’s view of Scripture is a reflection of their view of God. His unbelief is glaring. Pulling people away from the word is to quench the Spirit since God conveys grace through his word. It’s a false shepherd who direct sheep away from the word. “…the things I am writing to you are a command of the Lord. If anyone does not recognize this, he is not recognized.” 1 Cor 14
Mike T. says
You are absolutely correct. If you don’t believe God’s revelation, you don’t believe God; regardless of how much you may protest to the contrary. It is high time that we publicly say what has been obvious for some time, but too many have been reluctant to say: Andy Stanley is not a believer. He is a wolf in sheep’s clothing who, under the guise of making the church “better” and more “responsive” to the unbeliever, is destroying the faith of many and presenting a Jesus who does not exist. There are hundreds of quotations of the Old Testament in the New. It forms the basis for what the apostles preached. Even on the day of Jesus’ resurrection, he made it clear that the scriptures of the OT were foundational to what had just happened (Luke 24:46). No, if you don’t have the Bible you don’t have Christianity, and if you don’t have Christianity you don’t have salvation.
Kevin V. Wells says
From the cover:
“Once upon a time there existed a version of our faith that was irresistible!”
Well that is obviously false. The majority of people did, do, and will resist the faith. Jesus explicitly taught that, and experience bears it out. Dumb christianese marketing blurb I guess.
I’m really curious as to how far Stanley has and will slide down the emergent/postmodern slope. I’m in a couple of R. Scott Smith’s (Truth and the new Kind of Christian) classes right now, so this is on my radar. I wonder if Stanley also rejects the essential Jewishness (ergo, foundationally scriptural) of the ‘earliest’ believers.
Looking forward to your review.
Jim Pemberton says
“Andy Stanley illustrates how a shift from the resurrection of Jesus to a Bible-centric faith…”
It looks like he is operating on a false dichotomy from the get-go.
Jesus (as in God) consistantly quoted the OT and His disciples followed suit to open up the mystery of divine salvation embedded in Scripture and the faithfulness of God.
When people try to recreate what God alone can do by His Spirit and timing many errors occur and many golden calfs appear. In this regard there is nothing new at all, but the same old story of going astray.
I doubt this “Book of Stanley” will match the excellence of Moses, Hebrews or Peter, Paul and the investigative pursuit of Luke and the book of James with his strong theological warnings. The sublime book of revelation written for the church of all ages as the world gets sucked in by the irresistable message of the beast and so on.
MARK RISSMAN says
Stanley is cutting off the limb he’s sitting on. We all know what happens when a person does this.
Bryant J. Williams III says
First, judging from the blurbs you have quoted, it appears that Stanley is using “accusations” as evidence (sounds awfully close to the current climate).
Second, it also appears that Neo-Gnosticism is involved since he has jettisoned the OT and relies on mystical revelations.
Third, the same thing occurs within Pentecostalism/Charismatic movement in which the “new revelation” is elevated above the Scriptures. This is similar to the Montanist movement of the late 2nd Century C.E.
Fourth, too much eisegesis is involved especially with known texts about what was considered Scripture at the time of the early church, i.e. Luke 24, II Timothy 3:15-17; II Peter 1:19-20.
Fifth, the jettisoning of the OT as foundational to the NT will lead to increased Anti-Semitism. This is a problem that has plagued the Church for millennia. It is a left-over of Marcion.
I haven’t read the book, although it would be interesting to read it and hear what he has to say. I did hear an interview with Stanley about the book and it sounded like the context or purpose for writing it was more about engaging non-believers and our culture (apologetics, evangelism). The reasoning being that our culture no longer has a respect for or belief in the Bible so it does not make sense to start an evangelistic conversation based on the Bible when there are other arguments from historical evidence, logic, and philosophy that may be more accepted as a starting point.
In otherwords, it sounded like he was saying that we should change our evangelism tactics to be less Bible-centric. If this is the context or point of the book then I think there is some merit to this argument but if he is instead arguing that we should move to a less Bible-centric faith then that is a different matter. Again, haven’t read the book itself, just sharing what I heard in an interview.
Richard Klaus says
You might be interested in my article: “Andy Stanley, Apologetics and Inerrancy” in which I interact with some of these thoughts. https://www.christianpost.com/voice/andy-stanley-apologetics-and-inerrancy.html
I really believe that this book is the “minimal facts argument,” developed by Gary Habermas and Mike Licona, gone to seed. This is the method of saying that all you need to have enough evidence to be reasonably sure Jesus rose from the dead is 1st Cor. 15 and Gal. 2. Stanley is just following this line of thinking to it’s logical conclusions. I’m still in the process of reading the book, but so far it sounds like Stanley wants to reduce the barrier to entry that he feels keeps people from faith in Christ, namely the hard parts of the Bible. What is completely missing so far is any kind of biblical doctrine of sin. From Stanley’s point of view, it is the irresistibility of a simple argument and not the irresistibility of God’s sovereign grace that brings people to faith in Christ.
Bryant J. Williams III says
Sounds very much like Bebe’s “irreducible complexity” argument for creation in Darwin’s Black Box. What it comes down to is, “What is the minimal amount of knowledge, etc. needed to present the truth of the gospel?
In the area of Apologetics, this would be similar to Christian Evidences. Van Til would disagree since there is no common ground in which to provide an argument. Jesus would go ahead and answer the critic, then correct the critic with the truth.
Bryant J Williams III says
It is amazing, not really, how the heresy of Marcion continues. About 85% of NT quotes of the OT are from the LXX/OG. The statements of Jesus in Luke 24:24-27, 4-49 would not make any sense at all. Paul’s statements in I Corinthians 15:3-5 and II Timothy 3:15-17 would not any sense at all. Peter’s statement in II Peter 1:17-21 would not make any sense at all. There are other passages that could be mentioned, but, I think, these should suffice. The NT without the OT would be baseless. There would be no foundation to the Church as Ephesians 2:20-22 clearly intimates.
I think I know what Andy Stanley is trying to do, but that is “throwing the baby out with the bath water.”
Luke 16 29 “Abraham replied, ‘They have Moses and the Prophets; let them listen to them.’
30 “‘No, father Abraham,’ he said, ‘but if someone from the dead goes to them, they will repent.’
31 “He said to him, ‘If they do not listen to Moses and the Prophets, they will not be convinced even if someone rises from the dead.’”