Andy Stanley is one of America's top pastors; he is probably one of the top three most influential pastors in the U.S.A. today. Unlike many of the more blatantly heretical pastors that are critiqued on Pirate Christian Media, Stanley has a very mainstream reputation and following. Most Evangelical Christians can't even imagine that he might be leading them astray because much of what he says sounds pretty good; it sounds pretty "normal." He is seen as a pastor who is simply taking traditional, Biblical Christianity into the future by re-packaging it and re-interpreting it for non-Christians. Because Stanley works hard to appeal to a postmodern audience, much of what he says can be interpreted multiple ways, so there is much disagreement about his teaching and what he "actually means." This kind of confusion is not good.
On one hand, he says that "it's next to impossible to defend the entire Bible," and says that "the Bible is not the foundation of our faith;" but he later tells his audience how he loves the Bible and reads it every day. The North Point website states "We believe the Bible is without error."
He claims that pastors should "take the focus off the Bible on put it on the resurrection," but we know about the resurrection because it's written about in the Bible. Stanley seems incapable of simply saying that the Bible is God's Word and it's historically dependable.
He repeatedly claims that the early church had no Bible at all until well into the third century, even though that is historically incoherent and dishonest. The early church had the separate books of the Bible before they were bound together in one volume.
- He invented something he calls "the temple model" and claims that all false religions (including the Old Testament Jewish religion established by God) had a "sacred text," a "sacred space" and a "sacred man." He claims that these three things need to be eliminated, because he thinks that Jesus taught this (even though Jesus never actually taught this). Incidentally, he is still the senior pastor (sacred man) of North Point Church (sacred space) who makes frequent reference to the Bible (sacred text). He has veered towards eliminating the Bible, though...
What is Andy Stanley very clear about? He seems to have tremendous confidence in his own ability to convince everyone of whatever he currently believes is important. He appears to have much more confidence in himself than the Word of God. Judging by the infrequent use of Scripture in his sermons and his willingness to erode confidence in the Bible, it really seems like Andy Stanley is happy to be the focal point of his church. Although he claims to be directing attention to Jesus, it's impossible to know which Jesus he's talking about, because without the objective Word of God as the reference, he ends up making himself the authority over who Jesus really is and what Jesus really taught.
If the following articles, podcasts and videos are any indication, a substantial case can be made that Andy Stanley is doing more than just explaining the "faith once handing down to the saints" to a new generation. There is troubling evidence that Stanley is trying to change the meaning, definition and purpose of the Church itself.
These articles are from different Christians from various theological and denominational backgrounds (although there are a lot of Baptists), but they all have concerns about the un-Biblical, confusing and sometimes dangerous teachings coming from Andy Stanley:
“Look carefully into the Scriptures, which are the true utterances of the Holy Spirit.”
Clement of Rome
“Read again and again the divine Scriptures; nay, let the Holy Book never be out of your hands. Learn, that you may teach.” Jerome
“We must surrender ourselves to the authority of Holy Scripture, for it can neither mislead nor be misled.” Augustine
“Whom God intends to destroy, He gives them leave to play with Scripture.” Martin Luther
“Scripture is the Holy Spirit’s school where everything we need to know is taught and where nothing is taught that is unnecessary.” John Calvin
“And yet some people actually imagine that the revelation in God’s Word is not enough to meet our needs. They think that God from time to time carries on an actual conversation with them, chatting with them, satisfying their doubts, testifying to His love for them, promising them support and blessings. As a result, their emotions soar; they are full of bubbling joy that is mixed with self-confidence and a high opinion of themselves. The foundation for these feelings, however, does not lie within the Bible itself, but instead rests on the sudden creations of their imaginations. These people are clearly deluded. God’s Word is for all of us and each of us; He does not need to give particular messages to particular people.” Jonathan Edwards
“Indeed, since the entirety of Scripture is the Word of the Lord, no testimony could possibly be better, more certain or more efficacious. For if God, who cannot lie, has spoken something in His own Scripture, which is itself the mirror of His will, then it is true.” John Wycliffe
“Try all things by the written word, and let all bow down before it. You are in danger of [fanaticism] every hour, if you depart ever so little from Scripture; yea, or from the plain, literal meaning of an text, taken in connection with the context.” John Wesley
“Let us receive nothing, believe nothing, follow nothing which is not in the Bible, nor can be proved by the Bible.” J.C. Ryle
“If we once get above our Bibles and cease making the written Word of God our sole rule as to faith and practice, we shall too lie open to all manner of delusion and be in great danger of making shipwreck of faith and a good conscience.” George Whitfield
“The Bible is the Word of God in such a way that when the Bible speaks, God speaks.” B.B. Warfield
"If there be anything in the church to which you belong which is contrary to the inspired Word, leave that church." Charles Spurgeon
“There is not better book with which to defend the Bible than the Bible itself.” D.L. Moody
"Christianity is founded upon the Bible. It bases upon the Bible both its thinking and its life." J. Gresham Machen
“We must stress that the basis for our faith is neither experience nor emotion but truth as God has given it in verbalized, propositional form in the Scripture and which we first apprehend with our minds.” Francis Schaeffer
“There is no substitute for submission to Scripture. Your spiritual health depends on placing the utmost value on the Word of God and obeying it with an eager heart.” John MacArthur
“Our spiritual maturity will never exceed our knowledge of the Bible.” Albert Mohler
“Submission to the Scriptures is submission to God. Rebellion against the Scriptures is rebellion against God.” Kevin DeYoung
"The idea of sola Scriptura is that there is only one written source of divine revelation, which can never be placed on a parallel status with confessional statements, creeds, or the traditions of the church. Scripture alone has the authority to bind the conscience precisely because only Scripture is the written revelation of almighty God." R. C. Sproul
“The inerrancy of Holy Scripture is the watershed theological issue in the church today–as it has been in every generation since the rise of modern secularism and rationalistic biblical criticism. Every single denomination, theological seminary, and Christian college that has departed from it has begun an inexorable decline and loss of biblical witness. The saving gospel itself cannot be sustained apart from a trustworthy Scripture. Any other position displays appalling naïveté and ignorance of the history of the modern church both in Europe and in America.” John Warwick Montgomery
"The teacher does well to keep this truth in mind. In our day it has become the fashion to say, 'We believe in a Person (meaning Jesus Christ), not in a Book.' Let us not be taken in by such a remark. We know Jesus only as he is made known by the Book, the Bible. True faith in him is created by the Holy Spirit only through the Book. In most cases, the above reasoning is used to COVER UP AN ATTEMPT TO FASHION A DIFFERENT JESUS AND A DIFFERENT 'FAITH' - BOTH MORE TO ONE'S OWN LIKING." Werner Franzmann
"It is next to impossible to defend the entire Bible." Andy Stanley
For those who think it's mean, judgmental and un-loving to criticize Andy Stanley/North Point Church (or any other popular teacher/church) here's something just for you: Shocking Stuff You're Not Supposed to Know.
If you're having a knee-jerk reaction to try and defend this man's ideas, check out: Confirmation Bias: Why You Are Protecting Your False Beliefs.
Here's a very extensive documentary exposing the problems with the "Seeker-Friendly" church model: Church of Tares: Purpose Driven, Seeker Sensitive
Finally, here's an article that will help you be more discerning and a lot less gullible: Defusing Demonic Dirty Bombs.