The SBC’s continued pursuit of its prevalent flavor of theology – American Christianity – driven as it is by a seeker-sensitive model of church growth, finds its ERLC conference with one day under its belt. The two-day conference, August 25 & 26, was coincidentally (probably not) given the theme, Onward, also the title of Russell Moore’s recent book.
The Ethics And Religious Liberty Commission conference includes a multitude of speakers, celebrity Christians, mega pastors, and even a poet. For the SBC, where doctrinal allegiance and Biblical authority are increasingly becoming mere theological terms reserved for the training halls of seminaries, it’s no surprise Scripture might be downplayed at a denominational conference. But for it to be outright denigrated might be an ignoble first, even for the SBC.
The unfettered zeal to “engage the culture” can be interpreted, perhaps, as the convention’s superficial mantra to hide an underlying bureaucratic panic. The virulent hemorrhaging of members needs an emergency response team. Swing open the doors! Invite in the goats! Engage! Entertain! Retain! Onward! We don’t need no stinkin’ doctrine!
So, day one of the conference allowed us to capture this little nugget of outright denial of Biblical authority. You may not have heard it so blatantly exclaimed from a Southern Baptist pulpit, but if you’re perceptive enough, you can discern it as underlying truth that drives the methodology of many SBC churches. It’s the “it’s all about you gospel” … and you don’t need much Bible for that … cuz it ain’t in the Bible!
In playing the wildly favorite “What If You Were Pope” game with Andy Stanley, Russell Moore, President of the ERLC, posits the following question to the mega-church superstar pastor.
“If you were, for real, the evangelical pope and you really had the authority to say ‘this is how it’s gonna be within American evangelical Christianity,’ what would you do?” Russell Moore
Moore skips right over all those Biblical commands for pastors, things like Paul’s admonition to Timothy to “Preach the word.” (2 Timothy 4:2) He jumps right over Christ’s triply-issued instruction to Peter, “Feed my sheep.” (John 21:15-17)
Instead, Moore plays “what if you were God” with Stanley, using the apostate vicar of the Tiber as a colloquial reference to supreme ecclesiastic authority.
Stanley, who you may remember has no affinity for expository preaching, has spoken negatively about small churches, and who encourages believers to bake gay wedding cakes, gave a few responses to Moore’s query.
Perhaps it’s no Freudian slip – after all, greed is at the core of the false theology Stanley hurls forth – that he responds with a quick answer that is decidedly not from thinking on “things that are above.” (Colossians 3:2) Stanley’s first response, nobly couched though it is in a spiritualized ambition, reflects nothing short of his “show me the money” motivations.
“I would have all the churches that are dying, dying, dying, dying sell their buildings and give their money to the church planters.” Andy Stanley
Yeah, sounds noble. But, don’t forget, those “churches” don’t belong to themselves, and certainly not to Andy, nor to church planters lacking facilities. Those churches belong to Christ.
But, hey, if you’re Andy Stanley, it’s nothing to monetize the bride of Christ. He’s been doing it for years.
“The misappropriation, the misused and unused real estate in this country just drives us all crazy … cause some of you are in a grocery store or you’re in the back of a school and down the street is $4.5 million worth of property … and eight people sittin’ in there.” Andy Stanley
When it’s all about the money, and not the bride of Christ, the lascivious looks at real estate are justifiable. Eight souls who faithfully worship? Forget them. Sell the building, get the cash.
As though this response from Stanley wasn’t egregious enough – enough that it should have brought a rebuke – Moore allowed him to continue.
“I would ask preachers and pastors and student pastors in their communications to get the spotlight off the Bible and back on the resurrection.” Andy Stanley
Pause for a moment and let that answer stimulate your Biblically-informed synapses. “Get the spotlight off the Bible.” Really?
Surely Moore injected a “wait just a minute there, fella” at this point, right? Wrong. Russell effected his impression of a bobblehead and let the Stanley blasphemy roll on.
“Let’s get people’s attention back on Jesus as soon as possible …” Andy Stanley
Which Jesus, Andy? The one that is only found in Scripture, HIS Word? The Scripture you want to toss by the wayside? That Jesus? Or a Jesus that you’ve imagined, one that will fill your pews … and your coffers? In other words, a false, idolatrous “Jesus” in whom faith is damning eternally, but full of tangible real estate options temporally?
On that day many will say to me, ‘Lord, Lord, did we not prophesy in your name, and cast out demons in your name, and do many mighty works in your name?’ And then will I declare to them, ‘I never knew you; depart from me, you workers of lawlessness.’ Jesus, in Matthew 7:22-23
Somebody find Andy and show him these words of Christ … quickly, before he totally discards Scripture.
“…the issue for us is always ‘who is Jesus?’ Did He rise from the dead? And that we would leverage the authority that we have in the resurrection as opposed to Scripture … not because I don’t believe Scripture’s inspired in terms of reaching this culture.” Andy Stanley
While no audible shouts of “Amen” can be discerned from the audio, the lack of them doesn’t detract from Russell Moore’s amenable, head-nodding agreement with Stanley’s words.
There’s so much in that last line from Stanley that could elicit rightful reams of response. Skip the “did He rise from the dead” query – that was likely rhetorical. What’s this embued authority we have from the resurrection? Christ’s resurrection, as a historical fact, is the supreme confirmation of our Lord’s deity. It is the capstone to His Gospel. It doesn’t give me any particular authority whatsoever. However, when proclaimed as a fundamental aspect of His Gospel, God can do wondrous things with it. (Romans 1:16)
“Scripture’s inspired in terms of reaching this culture.” What’s that mean? Is cultural engagement the limit of Scripture’s authority? If so, what was all that “Feed my sheep” stuff about?
Stanley’s hurling heresy here. But he doesn’t stop with this view of the limited authority of Scripture. He goes on.
“I might republish all the Bibles and call the first half ‘God’s covenant with ancient Israel’ and the second half “God’s covenant with the world’ because the way we talk about the Scripture is confusing for unchurched people.” Andy Stanley
What? Andy Stanley knows the problem with the Bible and, if he were pope, he’d fix it. Forget arguing the evident theological errors he’s suggesting by his fix, this man believes he could make the Bible more palatable for unbelievers. He could correct the mistakes God obviously made in His providential oversight of Scripture’s inspiration and transmission. Andy could fix the Bible so that every unbeliever could grasp it … which no doubt means Andy would make it read like the false theology out of which he hurls falsehoods from his own Sunday morning showtimes. “It’s all about you.”
The two-minute video of this SBC tolerated, ERLC sponsored blasphemy against the Word of God is captured below.
Somebody call the SBC. Mention the first article of the Baptist Faith And Message, which includes the lines “all Scripture is totally true and trustworthy. It reveals the principles by which God judges us, and therefore is, and will remain to the end of the world, the true center of Christian union, and the supreme standard by which all human conduct, creeds, and religious opinions should be tried.”
Either the SBC has forgotten this or … more likely … they’re just doing what Andy Stanley advises. “Get the spotlight off the Bible.”
By the way … can you say … downgrade?
*Editor’s Note: Pulpit & Pen called this in February, 2016. See here.
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[Contributed by Bud Ahlheim]
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