Evangelical Guru – Screw the Old Testament

Pastor Andy Stanley, a well-known televangelist, megachurch leader, and author has said that “while he believes that the Old Testament is ‘divinely inspired,’ it should not be ‘the go-to source regarding any behavior in the church’” (here). It may be divinely inspired, but Christians can ignore it. He bases this on Luke’s description of the Apostolic Council in Acts 15.

The Apostolic Council was held to determine the minimal set of requirements Gentiles must meet to become members of the Jesus-movement – a Jewish sect. (This was before it evolved into Christianity, which became a Gentile religion.) The Apostolic Council was headed up by James, the brother of Jesus, with major contributions from Peter. (Paul was also there, but said nothing, according to Luke.) Pastor Stanley said, “Peter, James, Paul elected to unhitch the Christian faith from their Jewish scriptures, and my friends, we must as well.”

Pastor Stanley doesn’t realize that James’ proclamation (Paul had nothing to do with it and Peter only provided advice) was based on Jewish scripture. The minimal requirements were those of God’s covenant with Noah, which apply to Gentiles as well as Jews. That’s what the Apostolic Council decreed. It did not cut Gentiles free of Scripture, just specified a minimum entry requirement. The Teaching of the Apostles, or Didache, added that the more of the Bible they adhere to, the better. This was always the understanding. (I should note that some New Testament scholars incorrectly believe that the Apostolic Decree was based on a small subset of the Holiness Code from the book of Leviticus. No one knowledgeable thinks James and others just made it up to unhitch the movement from the Bible.)

Many of the “family values” evangelicals like Stanley are so fond of are either wholly or primarily based on the Jewish Bible – which was the only Bible as far as Jesus and the authors of the New Testament were concerned. When Christians want to bash gays, they use the Hebrew Bible. When they want to define marriage as a relationship between one man and one woman, they incorrectly use the Hebrew Bible (which allows polygamy). If they drop the Hebrew Bible, how are they going to justify all their hate speech?

Not only is Pastor Stanley ignorant of the Apostolic Decree he cites as the basis of his new doctrine, he is ignorant of (or willfully rejects) Jesus, who said “It is easier for heaven and earth to pass away than for one letter of the Law [Jewish Bible] to lose its force” (Luke 16:17). (Mathew 5:17-18 is essentially the same.) Matthew continued, “Anyone therefore who sets aside even the least of the Law’s demands, and teaches others to do the same, will be called the least in the kingdom of heaven, whereas anyone who keeps the law, and teaches others to do so, will rank high in the kingdom of heaven” (Mt. 5:19).

In other words, according to Jesus, Pastor Stanley is heading to hell, and trying to drag his horde of ignorant followers with him. Jesus also warned about false prophets speaking in his name. Many are puffed in The Christian Post.

 

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