Dear Dr. Craig, About Andy Stanley….
Dear Dr. Craig,
Do you remember when Gracie met Truthie? I do…but I’ll come back to that later.
On your last Reasonable Faith podcast you defended Andy Stanley’s “the Bible Tells me So” sermon remarks, specifically against the written criticism of Dr. Albert Mohler. Before you defended Stanley and provided your analysis of the difference between doing theology and doing apologetics, I wonder if you read or listened to anyone else’s criticism of what Stanley said. There was quite a bit of it. When Stanley’s controversial comments first came to light to those outside of the walls of North Point Church, James White did some fine criticism of what Stanley preached. I hope you took that in before providing your own response. Now, I understand if you didn’t pay attention to what White said. Maybe you didn’t want to listen to him drone on about cycling for twenty minutes before he got to the subject at hand. Maybe you didn’t want to follow him down his near-constant “Debate me, Dr. Craig” rabbit trail. (Quite frankly, his constant debate challenges to you remind me of Chris Jericho challenging Bill Goldberg to wrestle circa 1998). I hope you’ll listen to me, though. Your defense of Andy Stanley was way, way off. I was disappointed to hear it.
Hear me out.
I’ve listened to every single episode of Reasonable Faith. I’ve listened to every single episode of Defenders I and Defenders II. I’m almost caught up on Defenders III. I recommend Defenders to everyone who asks for my podcasts recommendations. I teach my own Sunday School class using your basic course outline. I’m 3 courses away from an MDIV in Christian Apologetics from the New Orleans Baptist Theological Seminary – I changed my original major to Apologetics after I read Reasonable Faith. Before I read that book I thought apologetics was not worthwhile. I realized it was. You were the subject of my main paper in my Apologetic Method class – It was called William Lane Craig: Evangelist, Philosopher, and Apologist. I like you as much as I like Nick Saban, Roll Tide. One of my kids is named after you. In short, I am not your typical reformed detractor. I think you’re the best apologist in the world.
Andy Stanley is a pastor. I think he might the worst pastor in the world. He’s at least in the running with Steven Furtick and Perry Noble. What I think Albert Mohler understood and you didn’t is that Stanley said what he said in a sermon. Context is key. Remember what you said about doing apologetics and doing theology on your podcast? Well, aren’t pastors supposed to be doing theology in their sermons? Can a pastor of a New Testament Church really trade in Mere Christianity?
I want to give you an approximate quotation from Andy Stanley’s recent book Deep and White:
“Don’t get all theological on me.”
Dr. Craig, I’d like you to read Deep and Wide if you haven’t read it (Furtick and Noble endorsed it by the way). It is profoundly disturbing. If you read it, I think you’d agree with me as a theologian (and I know you are a theologian, despite what your critics say, I’ve seen your CV and listened to about 1,000 of your Sunday School lessons). Stanley’s vision for North Point Church is a “church that unchurched people love to attend.” I know I don’t have to explain to you the theological problems with that, so I won’t. If you take a hard look at what he is doing you’ll see what tipped Mohler off to begin with. Stanley is more of a goat-herder than a pastor of sheep. His messages (he usually doesn’t call them sermons) aren’t really meant to challenge believers with scripture. He fancies himself as more of a “leader” than a pastor. What the Bible says, right or wrong, clearly isn’t as important to him as getting people in the door, even people who don’t really love Jesus. Let’s get back to when Gracie Met Truthie. We don’t have to go all the way back to Goldberg-Jericho 98. We can go to 2012. Mohler criticized Andy Stanley for what goes on at his church. He had two actively homosexual males serving on his hospitality team. They were in a sexual relationship with one another. Stanley barred them from serving, not because they were actively sodomizing one another, but because one of them was still married to his wife. Do you see how participation in the organization works out at North Point? It’s a systematic problem with Stanley. He’s dangerous. He’s basically made a seeker-sensitive youth group for adults…and franchised it. Check Stanley out Dr. Craig, don’t just go off the sound bytes and current news. Really check him out. He called verse-by verse preaching “cheating.” He said it’s not how you “grow people”. What do you think your own pastor, Bryant Wright, thinks of a comment like that? What do you?
You can’t have a church for non-Christians. That’s paradoxical. You’re a philosopher, you know this.
You see, Dr. Craig, you were so gung-ho to define and defend the apologetic enterprise you seemed to have entirely missed Stanley’s context. He’s a pastor; at least he is supposed to be. He doesn’t do what you do. You’re a philosopher/apologist/professor. He’s supposedly in the care of souls. He takes such ill care of them. You can do mere apologetics for mere Christianity, but at the local church level, it must be deeper and more biblical than that. I hope you’ll agree.
You’re Christianity’s boldest apostle. Please don’t let your influence be used to further Stanley’s kingdom. Keep furthering God’s.
G. Seth Dunn
*Please note that the preceding is my personal opinion. It is not necessarily the opinion of any entity by which I am employed, any church at which I am a member, any church which I attend, or the educational institution at which I am enrolled. Any copyrighted material displayed or referenced is done under the doctrine of fair use.