When Gracie And Truthie Meet Tolerance And Ear Tickling

I am sure by now if you follow the blogosphere at all with regard to evangelicalism, you are aware of the controversy surrounding Andy Stanley, pastor of Atlanta’s North Point Community Church.  Plenty has already been said and plenty more I am sure is coming.  Al Mohler’s article was the first that I read and after viewing the sermon in question (see the 24:30 mark of sermon 5 Titled: When Gracie Met Truthie), I have to say, I really can’t believe there is any backlash from the Christian community against Al Mohler’s article?  Have we really reached the state in the American evangelical world when asking questions and raising concerns over the interpretations of Scripture by a  pastor of Mr. Stanley’s influence and notoriety is the most egregious of all sin?  Well, that is just absurd and contrary to the Scriptures.  Did not John the Baptist call for the leader of the Jewish Kingdom to repent of his open and flagrant sin?  Did not John the baptist call for all those wishing to become part of the Kingdom of God to show forth fruits of repentance?  Is there absolutely no need to be repentant of sin any more and still be considered a Christian?  Surely, this is a sign of these last days in which we live.

While Mr. Stanley rightly assesses the sin of adultery in this situation, he disobeys the Word as a shepherd in that he winks at the sin of homosexuality and he also fails to properly administer church discipline and show love toward these men and his congregation and reverence for the Word of God.  Mr. Stanley stated that this picture of the “modern family”, as he jokingly calls them,  is a picture of

“the marvelous, glorious, messy, pain-filled, we’ll get through this somehow…microcosm of the church”

Okay, so the big argument is, well aren’t we suppose to welcome everyone to the church? Aren’t we suppose to invite sinners to the church to hear the gospel?  The answer? Yes, of course!  Is that all that is demonstrated in this story?  No!  First of all, what Mr. Stanley is preaching is NOT THE GOSPEL but is rather a message of liberalism that says Jesus died to pay for your sin so you could continue in it.

Now, that I’ve called sin, sin, paid for it and said I don’t condemn you, I want you all to leave your life of sin…‘…and if you don’t, I love you. And if you can’t, I love you. And if the woundedness and the shrapnel of your own sin has left you to the place where you’re not even sure you’ll ever be able to walk away from the complexity of your sin, I love you. And if someone has sinned against you and it has sent you into a spiral of self destructive behavior, that you’re not sure you’ll ever recover from, I love you. And the truth is, you’re a sinner, but the grace is, I don’t condemn you…”

Where is THAT in the Scriptures?  Where is repentance in this message?

John the Baptist declared:

Bear fruits in keeping with repentance. And do not begin to say to yourselves, ‘We have Abraham as our father.’ For I tell you, God is able from these stones to raise up children for Abraham. Luke 3:8

The woman caught in adultery? Jesus calls her to be repentant.

“Jesus stood up and said to her, “Woman, where are they? Has no one condemned you?” She said, “No one, Lord.” And Jesus said, “Neither do I condemn you; go, and from now on sin no more.” Again Jesus spoke to them, saying, “I am the light of the world. Whoever follows me will not walk in darkness, but will have the light of life.” John 8:10-12

Zachhaeus the tax collector evidences himself to be a child of God by his repentance:

“And when Jesus came to the place, he looked up and said to him, “Zacchaeus, hurry and come down, for I must stay at your house today.” So he hurried and came down and received him joyfully. And when they saw it, they all grumbled, “He has gone in to be the guest of a man who is a sinner.” And Zacchaeus stood and said to the Lord, “Behold, Lord, the half of my goods I give to the poor. And if I have defrauded anyone of anything, I restore it fourfold.” And Jesus said to him, “Today salvation has come to this house, since he also is a son of Abraham.” Luke 19:5-9

Repentance is an evidence that we have been born again.

Secondly, since Mr. Stanley gives the impression that he considers these people a microcosm of the “church” and since he’s making THAT argument, he negates any argument thrown toward opposers that we are to welcome “sinners” to the church in an attempt to reach them. He is clearly making a distinction that he considers these people to be Christians so whether or not they are members of Northpoint, it is my assertion that Stanley has disobeyed the Word of God with regard to instructions both from Christ and the apostle Paul as to how we are to demonstrate Christian love to sinning brethren. In Matthew 18 Jesus instructs,

“If your brother sins against you, go and tell him his fault, between you and him alone. If he listens to you, you have gained your brother. But if he does not listen, take one or two others along with you, that every charge may be established by the evidence of two or three witnesses. If he refuses to listen to them, tell it to the church. And if he refuses to listen even to the church, let him be to you as a Gentile and a tax collector. (Matthew 18:15-17 ESV).

And in Corinthians Paul CLEARLY and UNAMBIGUOUSLY gives us instructions that we are in fact to judge and admonish and even cast out any “so-called” brother refusing to turn from a lifestyle of open and rebellious sin.

It is actually reported that there is sexual immorality among you, and of a kind that is not tolerated even among pagans, for a man has his father’s wife. And you are arrogant! Ought you not rather to mourn? Let him who has done this be removed from among you. For though absent in body, I am present in spirit; and as if present, I have already pronounced judgment on the one who did such a thing. When you are assembled in the name of the Lord Jesus and my spirit is present, with the power of our Lord Jesus, you are to deliver this man to Satan for the destruction of the flesh, so that his spirit may be saved in the day of the Lord. Your boasting is not good. Do you not know that a little leaven leavens the whole lump? Cleanse out the old leaven that you may be a new lump, as you really are unleavened. For Christ, our Passover lamb, has been sacrificed. Let us therefore celebrate the festival, not with the old leaven, the leaven of malice and evil, but with the unleavened bread of sincerity and truth. I wrote to you in my letter not to associate with sexually immoral people— not at all meaning the sexually immoral of this world, or the greedy and swindlers, or idolaters, since then you would need to go out of the world. But now I am writing to you not to associate with anyone who bears the name of brother if he is guilty of sexual immorality or greed, or is an idolater, reviler, drunkard, or swindler—not even to eat with such a one. For what have I to do with judging outsiders? Is it not those inside the church whom you are to judge? God judges those outside. “Purge the evil person from among you.” (1 Corinthians 5:1-13 ESV)-

We know that Paul is not saying that as Christians we will live in sinless perfection for it is clear in Scripture that the Christian will battle with the flesh and sin and will have to daily die to himself. John instructs us in his epistles that,

This is the message we have heard from him and proclaim to you, that God is light, and in him is no darkness at all.  If we say we have fellowship with him while we walk in darkness, we lie and do not practice the truth. But if we walk in the light, as he is in the light, we have fellowship with one another, and the blood of Jesus his Son cleanses us from all sin. If we say we have no sin, we deceive ourselves, and the truth is not in us. If we confess our sins, he is faithful and just to forgive us our sins and to cleanse us from all unrighteousness. If we say we have not sinned, we make him a liar, and his word is not in us. 1 John 1:5-10

However, John is certainly not advocating that we cower to this battle with our sin and live an open and unrepentant lifestyle of practicing sin. For in this same letter, he states,

“Beloved, we are God’s children now, and what we will be has not yet appeared; but we know that when he appears we shall be like him, because we shall see him as he is. And everyone who thus hopes in him purifies himself as he is pure. Everyone who makes a practice of sinning also practices lawlessness; sin is lawlessness. You know that he appeared to take away sins, and in him there is no sin. No one who abides in him keeps on sinning; no one who keeps on sinning has either seen him or known him.” 1 John 3:2-6

The whole of Scripture is pointing to the fact that God’s perfect law can not be fulfilled in a way to bring about our salvation and righteousness, except that we receive grace through faith the perfect righteousness of another: our Messiah Jesus Christ. However, having received this righteousness, as Paul asks, are we now to sin all the more so that grace may abound more? God Forbid it!

What shall we say then? Are we to continue in sin that grace may abound? By no means! How can we who died to sin still live in it? Do you not know that all of us who have been baptized into Christ Jesus were baptized into his death? We were buried therefore with him by baptism into death, in order that, just as Christ was raised from the dead by the glory of the Father, we too might walk in newness of life. For if we have been united with him in a death like his, we shall certainly be united with him in a resurrection like his. We know that our old self was crucified with him in order that the body of sin might be brought to nothing, so that we would no longer be enslaved to sin. For one who has died has been set free from sin. Now if we have died with Christ, we believe that we will also live with him. We know that Christ, being raised from the dead, will never die again; death no longer has dominion over him. For the death he died he died to sin, once for all, but the life he lives he lives to God.
Rom 6:11 So you also must consider yourselves dead to sin and alive to God in Christ Jesus. Let not sin therefore reign in your mortal body, to make you obey its passions. Do not present your members to sin as instruments for unrighteousness, but present yourselves to God as those who have been brought from death to life, and your members to God as instruments for righteousness. For sin will have no dominion over you, since you are not under law but under grace. What then? Are we to sin because we are not under law but under grace? By no means! Romans 6:1-15

As I see it, Mr. Stanley has shown his hand at this point.

Additional Resources:

Is This Andy Stanley’s Gay Affirming Shot Accross The Bow? (Sola Sisters)

Problems At Andy Stanley’s Northpoint? (Sola Sisters)

North Point Student Ministry Volunteer Application (North Point online source)

Is The Megachurch The New Liberalism? (Dr. Al Mohler)

Andy Stanley Confounds The Church About Homosexuality (Stand Up For The Truth)

Is The Megachurch the New Liberalism? (Chris Rosebrough’s Fighting For the Faith radio show)

Homosexuality, Megachurches and Andy Stanley (Apprising)

Pastor Andy Stanley Responds to Questions Over Homosexuality Stance (Christian Post)

Andy Stanley Avoids Gay Issue in Last Sermon of Controversial 8-Part Series (Christian Post)

The Need for Elders Who Guard Their Flocks (Criticial Issues Commentary, Bob DeWaay)