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 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.
Big Idea: If you mix the OT and NT, you get the prosperity gospel, the crusades, anti-Semitism, legalism, exclusivism, judgmentalism, fourteenth-century Catholicism, don’t touch God’s anointedism, God will get ’emism
The early Church fathers baptized the OT using allegorical methods of interpretation and paved the way for centuries of bigotry and violence. Nothing good comes from mixing and matching the covenants.
I am having serious difficulty reconciling what Stanley said in the first few chapters about how the OT led to Christ and this chapter. This chapter contains quite a few misconceptions that are common among skeptics and I think Stanley really should have had someone proofread this one better. I will give him the benefit of the doubt, but the picture he conveys of the OT and of God as portrayed in the OT in this chapter are woefully inaccurate.
- the Old Testament can be equally authoritative with the New Testament without being equally applicable
- yes, the early Church father’s used Greco-Roman style allegorical interpretation when they approached the OT and it was not good hermeneutics, but that does not mean that the OT does not point to Christ
- the God of the Old Testament was not violent in the modern sense of the word, which is uncontrolled and tempestuous anger. God raises up nations and brings them low - He will on day judge Heaven and earth. The destruction of Jerusalem in 70 AD was foretold by Christ and was itself an act of God’s judgment. God did not stop being the judge of nations when the New Testament came.
- Christians misuse New Testament passages just like they do Old - the solution is not to stop teaching the Old Testament, it is to teach people how to study the Bible better
- the Old Testament does not condone racism or senseless bloodshed
If we actually read the NT authors, they show an incredible consistency in God’s judgment between the Old and New Testaments. For example, Peter uses OT instances of judgment to warn false teachers about the judgment that will come upon those who do evil and teach others to do so.
2 Peter 2:4-10 - For if God did not spare angels when they sinned, but sent them to hell, putting them in chains of darkness to be held for judgment; 5 if he did not spare the ancient world when he brought the flood on its ungodly people, but protected Noah, a preacher of righteousness, and seven others; 6 if he condemned the cities of Sodom and Gomorrah by burning them to ashes, and made them an example of what is going to happen to the ungodly; 7 and if he rescued Lot, a righteous man, who was distressed by the depraved conduct of the lawless 8 (for that righteous man, living among them day after day, was tormented in his righteous soul by the lawless deeds he saw and heard)— 9 if this is so, then the Lord knows how to rescue the godly from trials and to hold the unrighteous for punishment on the day of judgment. 10 This is especially true of those who follow the corrupt desire of the flesh and despise authority.
In a point-by-point comparison, the author explains how everything about Jesus is superior to everything about the old covenant.
Farewell, author of Hebrews. Come on, you can’t label portions of the Bible obsolete and claim to be a Christian. Can you?
This is in the Bible. One author of the Bible is calling the work of another author of the Bible obsolete and outdated.
As we mentioned earlier, the old covenant disappeared on August 6, AD 70, the day the temple burned and the sacrificial system ended. That was the day ancient Judaism died.
We call the Bible the Word of God and ignore the inconvenient, offensive portions of the old covenant while freely resurrecting the portions that suit us in the moment.
To be clear, obsolete doesn’t mean bad.
The church fathers, as they are often referred to, immediately went to work harmonizing the old covenant with the new so as to make it play nice with the teachings of Jesus and the apostles. They reinterpreted, allegorized, and rebranded them to make them line up with developing Christian thought and theology. Instead of putting a bow on ’em, they baptized ’em.
Once the Hebrew Scriptures were bound together with Christian Scriptures, the texts of the Hebrew Scriptures were granted the same authority as the Gospels and epistles.
Gentile church leaders reduced the Jewish Scriptures to proof texts and illustrations to support the teaching of the church. Preachers and teachers have been mixing, matching, allegorizing, and ignoring original context ever since.
Little did the brave church fathers know that by lifting the Jewish Scriptures out of their Jewish context and retrofitting them as Christian Scripture, they were laying the foundation for the reintroduction of old covenant style violence and bloodshed.
It wouldn’t be long before the violent God of the Old Testament became the violence-affirming God of the church.
Jesus treated the Hebrew Scriptures as authoritative. Paul insisted they were God-breathed. Peter believed Jewish writers were carried along by the Holy Spirit. But they never claimed their faith was based on the integrity of the documents themselves. Christianity has a compelling, verifiable, historical story to tell. But the moment we anchor our story to an old covenant narrative and worldview, we lose our case in the marketplace.
unhitch our faith from God’s covenant with Israel.
Mix and match and you don’t get the best of either. You get the worst of both. You get the prosperity gospel, the crusades, anti-Semitism, legalism, exclusivism, judgmentalism, fourteenth-century Catholicism, don’t touch God’s anointedism, God will get ’emism,