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: Jesus was born under God’s covenant with Israel with the purpose of bringing that covenant to its sovereignly ordained end. And after Christ’s death / resurrection and the destruction of the Jewish temple in 70 AD, the Old Covenant was officially over.
The Old Testament is a stumbling block for a lot of people. But guess what? Christianity was not started by the Bible - it was started by Jesus. And Jesus came to do a new thing - to bring the covenant with the nation of Israel to its divinely ordained end. As Jesus predicted, the temple was destroyed within one generation, and Israel’s only means of keeping the Old Covenant vanished overnight.
I think that Stanley does a great job of making it clear that the Old Covenant is obsolete. Period. It is over. We do not live under it any longer. And that is part of why Jesus came. It’s important to understand the radical nature of what Jesus truly did and Stanley makes it abundantly clear.
I felt that Stanley conflated Old Covenant with the behavior of OT Israel in some cases. For example, Stanley made it sound as if the Old Covenant taught you nothing about love of your enemies, but what about Jonah? Jonah was rebuked for not showing compassion to his enemies. The general antipathy towards Canaanites, Amorites, Perezzites and the others was due to the fact that they were nations underneath the judgment of God, who knows the heart of all people. God is always merciful if people repent, but He also knows when a people has collectively chosen to do what is wrong (as He later did when He judged Israel for their wrongdoing as well).
One of the mistakes I think Stanley has made in the book is categorizing many different exegetical errors in a single umbrella - Old Covenant. When really some of these errors are not directly related to the covenant itself, but misinterpretations of the Old Testament.
Jesus was born under God’s covenant with Israel with the purpose of bringing that covenant to its sovereignly ordained end.
So what exactly had Jesus come to do to the Law and the Prophets? What did he mean when he said he came to fulfill them? The answer to that question has significant implications for how we read and understand the Old Testament.
To put what he said in uncomfortable contemporary terms, Exodus, Leviticus, Numbers, and Deuteronomy may start disappearing once everything is accomplished.
Jesus fulfilled—as in ended—the necessity of the Jewish law. Just as you don’t abolish a home by completing its construction, just as you don’t abolish a flight plan by landing a plane, just as you don’t abolish a homework assignment by completing the assignment, Jesus did not abolish the law when he fulfilled it. But in fulfilling it, he made it . . . obsolete. Again, that’s not my term. Heck, John Piper used it as well.
It doesn’t help that both covenants are bound together for our convenience. The majority of people I’ve talked to who’ve abandoned their faith have lost faith in Jesus because they lost confidence in the Bible. Which part of the Bible? You guessed it—the part that doesn’t apply to or include us—the Old Testament.
Christianity predated the Bible by hundreds of years. There were thousands of Christians long before there was a Bible. The Bible did not create Christianity. It’s the other way around.
The destruction of the temple signaled the end of ancient Judaism. While the words of the covenant were preserved, Israel’s ability to live in accordance with those words vanished in a day.