Irresistible Book Discussion: Chapter 10 - We're Jesus People - Not Moses People

irresistible

(SeanO) #1

This is a book discussion of Andy Stanley’s book ‘Irresistible’ prompted by @tabby68, @O_wretched_man, @Lakshmismehta and @andrew.bulin . There have been some accusations against the book and we would like to take the time to hear what Andy Stanley is really trying to say and to offer thoughtful, gracious critique. Below is a podcast interview with Andy Stanley you may find helpful as well as the original post that started the discussion.

To participate - read along with us and share your thoughts and opinions :slight_smile: My thoughts are here hopefully to prompt discussion - so please do join in with your observations / thoughts so that we can all benefit from your perspective. May the Lord Jesus guide our discussion.

Chapter X

Big Idea: Jesus is the guy now - not Moses. And Jesus did not consider the mosaic law the go to source for morality. Instead, Jesus pointed people to His own teaching.

Summary

Even after Jesus told the disciples to go to all nations and make more disciples, they still hung around Jerusalem and focused on ministry to Jews. And they still thought Jesus was going to return and establish an earthly Kingdom - perhaps in the very near future - like the Messiah they had been expecting all along.

But God had another plan. He chose Saul of Tarsus to take the Gospel to the nations and had Peter pay a visit to a Gentile, Cornelius, to make it clear to Peter that salvation was for all people. And when the other apostles heard about these Gentile converts, they held the Jerusalem Council to discuss what these new Gentile believers needed to do about the mosaic law. And their conclusion? The Gentile believers did not need to keep the mosaic law, but they did need to abstain from sexual immorality and respect the consciences of their fellow Christians who were Jewish.

The days of the mosaic covenant had ended. The new age of the New Covenant in Christ were here and He was for all nations.

Good Things

I like the emphasis on the fact that Jesus is for all nations and that this realization was a huge paradigm shift for Jewish believers - even for the disciples.

I like the fact that Stanley made it a mission of the Church he pastored not to make it difficult for unbelievers to enter the Kingdom.

Critique

Nothing new - this chapter was mostly an attempt to help us see that it was a huge paradigm shift for the apostles to go from Old Covenant / Moses thinking to New Covenant / Jesus thinking. And the Book of Acts is evidence that was the case.

Quotes

Implication: In the old days, Moses was your guy. Those days are over. Something new has come. Someone new has come.

Jesus’ disciples didn’t go into all the world like he instructed them to. They stayed in Jerusalem in the shadow of the temple. They surrounded themselves with Jewish converts for whom the blended, Jewish version of Christianity worked just fine.

Luke tells us they were hoping Jesus was ready to restore the nation to kingdom status. They were still hoping for a political or military solution. Whatever the reason, they left assuming he would return soon.

There it is again. Christians—Jesus followers—were appalled Peter would enter the home of a Gentile. This is years after the resurrection. They couldn’t get it through their hearts and heads that Jesus had completely—once and for all, stick a fork in it, put down your pencil, exit the plane, tip the waiter—fulfilled the old covenant. It was over.

Notice whose name suddenly pops up in the discussion. Moses. These men were arguing for the blended model. The Moses and Jesus model. The mix-and-match model.

Standing at what everyone in that room considered to be the epicenter of the world, the city Jews had bled and died for, and perhaps a stone’s throw from the holy of holies, Peter declared that God had thrown open the doors of the Jesus movement to outsiders. Divine approval once reserved for the Jewish race was now available to everyone.

It is my judgment, therefore, that we should not make it difficult for the Gentiles who are turning to God.20 I love that. Imagine where the church would be today if we had kept that simple idea front and center. Years ago, I printed that verse and hung it in my office.

Those four imperatives had nothing to do with keeping the law and everything to do with keeping the peace. Specifically, peace in the church. Peace between Jewish and Gentile believers.

As we will discover, Paul did not consider the law of Moses the go-to source for Christian behavior. I hope that makes you so nervous you actually finish this book.

But what’s more mind-boggling than that, they decided unity in the church was more important than the law of Moses.


(Andrew Bulin) #2

Thanks again for the chapter summaries, @SeanO.

I also liked how this chapter highlighted to the paradigm shift from Jewish, Mosaic law focused to being focused on all the nations. The change required the new Jewish Christians to make some large and uncomfortable changes in their perspectives. It was like an early culture shock to the new church. As Jesus had instructed, they began with the Jews, then Samarians (distant rejected cousins), and finally the Gentiles of all other nations.

Acts 1:6-8 NASB
[6] So when they had come together, they were asking Him, saying, “Lord, is it at this time You are restoring the kingdom to Israel?” [7] He said to them, “It is not for you to know times or epochs which the Father has fixed by His own authority; [8] but you will receive power when the Holy Spirit has come upon you; and you shall be My witnesses both in Jerusalem, and in all Judea and Samaria, and even to the remotest part of the earth.”

This instruction could not be completed until the Holy Spirit arrived. This would have been a valuable detail and biblically related content that Stanley could have used to bridge Jesus leaving, His last instructions, and the most important step (the arrival of the Holy Spirit) to making it all successful. This was to happen before the Jewish Christians even began to think about adjusting their perspectives to completely fulfill their call to all the Gentile nations. It was the power of the Holy Spirit that enabled them (and us today) to show grace to those they struggled to relate to in evangelism, and to do make disciples of all nations.

Instead of the above, Stanley made what I feel was a rather ham-handed attempt at a lighthearted, ficticious conversation in the section “High Above the Heavens” where God and Jesus have a causal conversation about how Jesus’ plans and work was being screwed up. In a ditch effort to salvage their operations, God chose Saul, which Jesus could not fathom. I really don’t like this section at all and any attempt at humor is lost on me. It does not make any sense when there is real situational content present in the Bible (as previously detailed) to speak to this without making Jesus sound incompetent. It’s just confusing.

I have a more minor and personal complaint: Stanley’s writing style of interrupting the flow with short quippy, casual statements that I suppose adds a more personal touch gets really heavy in this chapter. It was to the point that I felt it was distracting from the message. I admit this is entirely a matter of taste, but it seems with this style and imaginary discourses is ramping, which feels to be a bit like “going off the rails.” I hope he dials it back a bit. :confused:

I agree completely with the emphasis that the Jerusalem Council was finding a way to make living with the new Gentile believers cohabitable with the Jewish believers. Breaking away from enforcing the Mosaic law meant adjustments for the Jews without being excessively taxing on the Gentiles. All the believers were about to come together with their unique giftings, talents, and experiences. I think it wonderous how Christ intended this melding of so many dissimilar backgrounds and cultures as a part of His plan of success. I need this as a reminder always to maintain humility, show grace, and to seek all the ways and persons by which God is working, for His glory, as much as I hope others with also show me grace. We may not always agree, which is why I love the emphasis of RZIM to facilitate open discourse and sorting through the details. :slight_smile:


(SeanO) #3

@andrew.bulin Great analysis! I also found the story about Jesus talking with the Father unhelpful in its portrayal of the discourse concerning the future salvation of the nations. I think the classic Jewish tendency to not even write the name of God because it is so sacred, while not necessary, is helpful in preventing us from saying things that are flippant.

I wonder if this book is based on sermon notes? That would explain why there would be so many quippy statements.

Indeed - RZIM is a true gem in that regard.


Irresistible Book Discussion: Chapter 11 - The Obsolete Testament
(Tabitha Gallman) #4

@SeanO, @andrew.bulin
Sorry I’m just now adding to this chapter discussion, but I have gotten behind in reading/studying.

On page 125 under the section called: “Clean Break” Andy Stanley uses the following Bible verse to make his point about keeping unity between the Gentiles and their Jewish brothers.

Could there be a difference of interpretation for this verse as to the reason for these certain requests, specifically sexual immorality?

Acts 15:20 (NIV) “Instead we should write to them to abstain from food polluted by idols, from sexual immorality, from the meat of strangled animals and from blood.”

On. p. 126 Andy Stanley asks: “Why would James suggest they send that particular message to the Gentile Christians living three hundred miles away in Antioch?”

J. Vernon McGee has this answer:

“The decision is that Gentiles who have turned to God are not to be put under the Mosaic system. However, they are going to ask the Gentiles to do certain things out of courtesy. They will ask them to abstain from pollutions of idols. The reason this is so specifically mentioned will come up again in 1 Corinthians in the section about eating meat. The situation was that the Gentile world of that day worshiped idols, and in a city like Corinth, for example, the people would take their best animals and offer them to their pagan gods. They were very clever about this. They would take the animal in a make an offering of it, and the gods, which were “spiritual”, at the “spiritual” animal. Then the people would take the meat and sell it in the meat markets at the heathen temples. That was the place to buy the best steaks in that day—the filet mignon and the porterhouse and New York cuts.

The Gentiles were not offended by this. They had always bought their meat at these markets, and it was not a matter of conscience for them. However, for the Israelite Christian this would be very offensive. They had been brought up and trained not to eat anything that had been offered to an idol. So the thought here is that the Gentile who invites a Jewish brother over for dinner should not offend him by serving him something that had been offered to idols. So this request was not a matter of putting the Gentiles under Mosaic Law. It was a request that they should not do something which would be very offensive to their Jewish brothers.

They were also requested to abstain from fornication. Again, we need to understand the background to see why this is specifically mentioned. Adultery was so common among the Gentiles in that day that the conscience had been dulled. In fact, adultery was actually a part of the religious rite. The Gentiles who had become Christians were to “abstain from fornication”. “

In my opinion, Andy Stanley, clearly adds more to Acts 15:20 than he should have just to prove a point that may have nothing to do with the reason the Jerusalem council requested these four things of the Gentiles.


(Andrew Bulin) #5

Glad to have you along, @tabby68! Anytime that you have time, feel free to jump in. :slight_smile:

The matter of meat related to sacrifice and idols was covered also by Paul:

1 Corinthians 10:25-30 NASB
[25] Eat anything that is sold in the meat market without asking questions for conscience’ sake; [26] for THE EARTH IS THE LORD’S, AND ALL IT CONTAINS. [27] If one of the unbelievers invites you and you want to go, eat anything that is set before you without asking questions for conscience’ sake. [28] But if anyone says to you, “This is meat sacrificed to idols,” do not eat it, for the sake of the one who informed you, and for conscience’ sake; [29] I mean not your own conscience, but the other man’s; for why is my freedom judged by another’s conscience? [30] If I partake with thankfulness, why am I slandered concerning that for which I give thanks?

I agree with your reference.

With the matter to sexual immorality, well Stanley rambled a bit with his artistic style and said we have to wait till chapter 16. >_<
So I guess I’ll wait for that one, but otherwise I do not think there was much substance or value in this chapter on that topic specifically.


(SeanO) #6

@tabby68 If I recall correctly Stanley’s point was similar to McGee’s - the Gentiles were simply asked to do this out of courtesy, which means that they were not being asked to keep the law. Stanley was keen to emphasize that the Gentiles were not required to keep the OT laws, because this is the New Covenant era.


(Tabitha Gallman) #7

@SeanO, yeah I agree, but there is something more that I cannot articulate about the whole sort of undermining the 10 commandments, but I have to be at a Bible study, but I definitely want to write out what it is that’s bugging me. ( I really want to dig into more of the history of the Jewish culture. ). I think this deserves more discussion


(SeanO) #8

@tabby68 Enjoy Bible study :slight_smile: Yes, definitely worth discussion.


(Isaiah J. Armstrong) #9

Good stuff as always, @SeanO

Sorry I’m really behind. I’ve been caught up with work and another book I’m currently reading, but I’ll try to catch up!