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: The Old Covenant was between Israel and God. The New Covenant is between you and God. That is why the NT is more applicable to your life, though not more inspired, than the OT.
God’s covenant in the OT with Israel was with Israel as a nation - not you. The covenant Jesus made was for you individually. The Old Covenant was beautiful within the context in which it was given - it made lives better for women, slaves and the poor within its own cultural context and helped people relate to God within their ancient near eastern culture. But now we have a better covenant - the old one is obsolete. The bad things that happen in Churches today are a result of trying to apply Old Covenant concepts to New Covenant people - the prosperity Gospel, being too involved in politics - it’s all rooted in these OT ways of thinking (though admittedly these OT concepts are often misunderstood when they are misapplied).
Stanley uses Jeremiah 29:11 and 2 Chronicles 7:13-14 as examples of how we try to apply Old Covenant promises in our lives when really they only apply to ancient Israel. He is right - these are classic seminary examples given to students to help them understand how not to misapply the OT.
Stanley makes it clear that he is not questioning the inspiration of the OT, only its applicability to those living under Jesus’ New Covenant.
I agree the prosperity Gospel is often a result of misappropriating God’s promises to Israel for those under the New Covenant. Verses about abundant food, children and wine are taken out of context to promise prosperity to believers when Jesus warned us that we all suffer in this world.
- I think Stanley is incorrect about the New Covenant being between you and God - it is corporate - it is between Christ and His Church. I agree the Old Covenant is obsolete - but the Church is the Israel of God - the ekklesia of Christ - one Body. I think it is incorrect to say that the New Covenant is individualistic in nature.
- the claim that ‘all’ bad Church experiences are related to Old Covenant ideas / concepts is a sweeping claim that is not defended sufficiently
- the claim that ‘most’ of protestant Christianity mixes Old and New is again a very strong claim without sufficient evidence. It might be true, but such sweeping claims should be substantiated by more than personal anecdote or experience.
My general frustration with this chapter is that Stanley says things that make it sound like the Old Covenant is the problem, when really it is people misinterpreting the Old Covenant that is the problem. Stanley does clarify himself a few times in the chapter, but I can see how a reader who was not being very careful could easily get the wrong impression… And some quotes from this chapter lend themselves to accusations of devaluing the Old Covenant. So while I get what Stanley is saying, I think he should have been more careful with his words.
You believed what they told you about the Bible even though you hadn’t read the Bible. If you’re like most Christians, you still haven’t read the whole thing.
Perhaps someone gave you a reading plan or devotional book that included portions of both testaments. A little bit of Old, a little bit of New, a little bit of Old, a little bit of New. That’s how most of Protestant Christianity operates today.
Old covenant leftovers explain why religious leaders feel it’s their responsibility to rail against the evils in society like an Old Testament prophet.
Bad church experiences are almost always related to old covenant remnants.
The prosperity gospel is rooted in God’s covenant with Israel rather than the teaching of Jesus.
The justifications Christians have used since the fourth century to mistreat people find their roots in old covenant practices and values.
I’m not saying there is plenty to work with because God’s covenant with Israel was flawed. Just the opposite. When understood in its ancient context, it was brilliant!
The Sinai covenant was a perfect arrangement within a specific cultural setting in light of God’s purpose for the nation and for the world.
First, God’s covenant with ancient Israel was . . . with ancient Israel. Second, God’s covenant with Israel was temporary. Important, strategic, divinely ordained, but temporary.
This was part of God’s message to King Solomon after he completed the construction of the temple in Jerusalem. Here God reiterates his commitment to the existing cause-and-effect covenant he established with the nation of Israel. To apply these verses to, or claim this promise for, any other group is dishonest and dangerous.
To put it in broad terms, under the old covenant when you obeyed, you were blessed. When you disobeyed, you were punished. Under the new covenant, when you obey, you may suffer. If you disobey, the world may applaud you and you may even prosper.
Unlike the bilateral suzerain treaty discussed earlier, a promissory covenant was unilateral and unconditional.
No one explained that your Bible was organized around two covenants. One between God and ancient Israel, and one between God and everybody who wants to participate.
The Bible is a book organized around two covenants: one between God and ancient Israel and one between God and you!
I’m not suggesting the two testaments are not equally inspired. My point is they aren’t equally applicable.