North Point Community Church Senior Pastor Andy Stanley has responded to critics of a recent sermon he preached, explaining that those concerned with his comments need to understand the context of his remarks.
“I approach a message series like a single sermon. I don’t try to cover everything in 35 minutes. I’m not that good,” Stanley said in an interview with Relevant Magazine published Tuesday.
“So, if you want to criticize my approach to preaching, fine. I would love to talk about that. But don’t criticize a statement in a sermon if you aren’t willing to spend the time necessary to appreciate the context.”
Stanley explained that critics needed to better understand the context of his comments, noting that people “who listened to all three parts of the series probably understood the point I was making.”
“Whenever someone like me—or anyone for that matter—begins talking about the Bible in unusual or new terms we should all pay attention and ask lots of questions. But throwing stones after listening to one sermon seems a bit premature.”
The megachurch pastor garnered controversy for a sermon preached last month in which he stated that he believed Christians should “unhitch” their faith from the Old Testament.
He argued that the early church apostles “elected to unhitch the Christian faith from their Jewish scriptures” and Christians today must do the same in order to “not make it difficult for those Gentiles who are turning to God.”
The sermon was the third and final part of a sermon series titled “Aftermath” that was centered on reaching out to individuals who lost their faith because of something in the Bible, particularly the Old Testament, which he admitted was “violent” and “disturbing.”
Stanley explained in the sermon that while he believes the Old Testament is “divinely inspired,” it is only the “back story for the main story” and should not be “the go-to source regarding any behavior in the church.”
To justify this, Stanley cited Acts 15, which described how early church leaders decided that Gentile converts did not need to strictly observe Jewish law to become Christians.
“[First century] Church leaders unhitched the church from the worldview, value system, and regulations of the Jewish scriptures,” said Stanley.
“Peter, James, Paul elected to unhitch the Christian faith from their Jewish scriptures, and my friends, we must as well,” he preached.
“The Bible did not create Christianity. The resurrection of Jesus created and launched Christianity. Your whole house of Old Testament cards can come tumbling down.”
Some accused the megachurch pastor of advancing the early church heresy Marcionism, which maintained that the God of the Hebrew Bible was not the God of the New Testament.
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Source: Christian Post