Thursday, May 10, 2018


Many pastors reason that in order to attract seekers and to make the Gospel appealing to them, the “offensive” parts of the Bible have to be quarantined from sight or even eliminated. This cornerstone of the seeker-sensitive movement is pragmatically derived through a cost/benefit analysis, and it often works, at least in terms of numbers. Consequently, this has become the strategy of choice for many:

·       North Point Community Church Senior Pastor Andy Stanley has stated that Christians need to "unhitch" the Old Testament from their faith. In the final part of a recent sermon series, Stanley explained that while he believes that the Old Testament is "divinely inspired," it should not be "the go-to source regarding any behavior in the church." (Michael Gryboski, “Christians Must 'Unhitch' Old Testament From Their Faith, Says Andy Stanley,” Christian Post, 5/9/18)

Stanley is explicit about his use of this strategy:

·       "[First century] Church leaders unhitched the church from the worldview, value system, and regulations of the Jewish scripture”

What does Stanley mean by “unhitch?” Evidently, he means that any of the “regulations of the Jewish scriptures” can be safely discarded, at least any not specifically mentioned by the NT – pedophilia, incest, and bestiality.

How does Stanley justify this radical stance, especially in light of the fact that the Apostle Paul wrote that “All Scripture is God-breathed” and is still useful for
“correction, and for training in righteousness, that the man of God may be complete, equipped for every good work (2 Timothy 3:16-17 ESV)?

·       “Peter, James, Paul elected to unhitch the Christian faith from their Jewish scriptures, and my friends, we must as well…we must not make it difficult for those Gentiles who are turning to God."

It is true that Jesus had fulfilled the Mosaic Covenant, but many of its requirements are more than temporary shadows or symbols of what was to come (Colossians 2:16-17; Hebrews 10:1-9). Many of its laws and teachings remain in place, because they are not mere symbols but realities, like “Thou shall not kill” or “Thou shall not commit adultery.” In fact, the NT quotes the Old hundreds of times, proving that Jesus and His Apostles still regarded them as normatively relevant.

However, Stanley believes that by setting aside the OT, this “stumbling block” is removed and the Gospel’s light will be seen more persuasively:

·       "It's liberating for men and women who are drawn to the simple message that God loves you so much He sent His Son to pave the way to a relationship with you…It's liberating for people who need and understand grace, who need and understand forgiveness. And it's liberating for people who find it virtually impossible to embrace the dynamic, the worldview, and the values system depicted in the story of Ancient Israel."

However, it didn’t seem as if Jesus thought that unhinging the OT from the NT was liberating. Instead, He was teaching that God’s Word has to come first. When tempted by the devil, He answered:

·       “It is written, “‘Man shall not live by bread alone, but by every word that comes from the mouth of God.’” (Matthew 4:4; quoting Deuteronomy 8)

Although there are many honest differences of opinion about how we are to make use of the OT, the principle that God’s Word must take precedence over all else has been thoroughly retained by the NT (John 14:15; 21-24; 15:7-14; 1 John 5:1-3; 2 Timothy 3:16-17).

This leads us to the central issue of the seeker-sensitive debate: “What must take priority – cost/benefit considerations or fidelity to the Word of God?” What is it that God wants from us? Another way to put it: “Is there one command that must take precedence over all others?”

·       “Teacher, which is the great commandment in the Law?” And he said to him, “You shall love the Lord your God with all your heart and with all your soul and with all your mind. This is the great and first commandment. And a second is like it: You shall love your neighbor as yourself. On these two commandments depend all the Law and the Prophets.” (Matthew 22:36-40)

The second is not only secondary, it is also dependent upon our performance of the first:

·       By this we know that we love the children of God, when we love God and obey his commandments. For this is the love of God, that we keep his commandments. And his commandments are not burdensome. (1 John 5:2-3)

To love the children of God is to first love and perform the commandments of their Father. It is not to pragmatically decide that they need something more than the totality of Scripture. It is also to prevent any socially-conditioned doctrine of compassion to reign over the Gospel (2 Corinthians 10:4-5), which says, “We need to put aside the OT because it gets in the way of seekers.”

Paul claimed that he was free from any guilt because he had not withheld any of the Word of God:

·       Therefore I testify to you this day that I am innocent of the blood of all, for I did not shrink from declaring to you the whole counsel of God. (Acts 20:26-27)

This doesn’t mean that we cannot lead with the Good News. However, the Good News is not the Good News without the perhaps off-putting bad news of our well-deserved condemnation.

“Well, who can argue against the observable results of the seeker-sensitive movement?” God can.

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