Since I had Andy on the broadcast last month I’ve had several listeners send me messages with an implied expectation that it’s now my ethical responsibility to defend every controversial thing he has said. Is that fair?
Should John MacArthur, who has interviewed with people like Ben Shapiro and RC Sproul Jr., or should John Piper, who has interviewed Rick Warren and Mark Driscoll, also be required to be an apologist for everything these men have taught, done or said? Obviously not. That is clearly an unrealistic burden and a double standard on the part of some who are attempting to discredit my soteriological views because they happened to be shared by Andy. However, that is not the only type of inquiry I have received…
That is a Fair Question
To be fair, some view my interview with Andy over one particular subject we agree upon as a tacit endorsement of Andy’s ministry as a whole, and thus are simply curious about my views of some of his controversial comments. I can understand that and would like to give a few thoughts for consideration about some of the most recent criticisms.
For instance, in the context of a series about Judaizes attempting to put the heavy yoke of the Jewish law onto Gentile believers, Andy said, “Church leaders unhitched the church from the worldview, value system, and regulations of the Jewish Scriptures.” And in another message, concerning the Ten Commandments, Stanley remarked, “You are not accountable to the Ten Commandments, we’re done with that. God has done something new.”
With regard to the “unhitch” comment, I have said that I felt Andy’s interview with Dr. Michael Brown cleared up his meaning sufficiently. So, why is it that so many people continue to comment as if this hasn’t been clarified? Probably because they heard about it second hand from a biased source seeking to marginalize and discredit Andy rather than understand and engage him objectively. They likely haven’t actually listened to all the context and follow up conversations but have simply accepted second hand comments as factual.
Let’s just face it, in our fast paced social media driven culture we are not known for patience and care in gathering all the facts before passing judgment on others. We can and should do better.
For those who have jumped on the “Andy is a heretic” bandwagon, I would like to ask how would you like all your comments to be picked apart without regard to any context or follow-up clarifications? Do unto others as you’d have them do unto you! Please stop being ungracious, unforgiving and downright mean-spirited against a brother and minister who is doing some wonderful work to reach the world with the gospel.
If you have taken the time to listen to Andy’s sermons and clarifications and still find yourself disagreeing with his position, fine. No one pastor or scholar is going to agree with any other on every point. But can’t we disagree without being overly disagreeable? Can we discuss it objectively without casting each other out of the kingdom or making his comments sound far worse than what he clearly intended? Let’s act like mature believers and disagree respectfully.
Not Accountable to the 10 Commandments?
Do you think believers are going to be judged by whether or not we keep the Ten Commandments? I sure hope we aren’t, don’t you? I’m not exactly sure what is controversial about Andy’s comment on this point? He just said believers in Christ aren’t held to account for breaking the 10 commandments. Jesus Himself said something quite similar,
“The one who looks at me is seeing the one who sent me. I have come into the world as a light, so that no one who believes in me should stay in darkness. “If anyone hears my words but does not keep them, I do not judge that person. For I did not come to judge the world, but to save the world. There is a judge for the one who rejects me and does not accept my words; the very words I have spoken will condemn them at the last day. For I did not speak on my own, but the Father who sent me commanded me to say all that I have spoken” (John 12:45-49).
What is Jesus saying? He is saying that we are not going to be held to account for how well we keep the law (with would include the 10 Commandments), but will be held accountable for what we do with the truth of Christ, His gospel. Paul put it like this,
“What then shall we say? That the Gentiles, who did not pursue righteousness, have obtained it, a righteousness that is by faith; but the people of Israel, who pursued the law as the way of righteousness, have not attained their goal. Why not? Because they pursued it not by faith but as if it were by works” (Rom 9:30-32).
In other words, the Jews pursued righteousness by keeping the commandments (the Old) and did not attain it, but the Gentiles pursued righteousness by trusting in the truth of Christ (the New) and they have attained it. That means they were held to account for their faith, not their pursuit of the law. This is what Andy seems to be saying to me, am I wrong? Believers are not judged based on our adherence to the commandments, but rely instead on the grace of the New Covenant.
Believers who have been shown unconditional love and grace will desire to give, serve and follow God’s guidelines freely (without compulsion). But, by God’s grace we will not be held accountable for all the times we fail and break His commands. That is why we rejoice and celebrate His grace with such earnest. We all know that without it we would be doomed. What is the controversy exactly, I could have missed something?
Maybe some people took Andy to mean that the OT (and the Ten Commandments) has no value for us today? But, we know that was not Andy’s intention because he already told us it wasn’t <HERE>. Why not take him at his word and show a little grace toward a brother? Even in the context of his series he comments on this point if people will take the time to actually listen and stop being so quick to judge. I encourage you to go listen to Andy’s actual messages in context and, if necessary, his follow up comments, before you pass judgment.
Beware of the Leaven
Please hear me…the world knows us by how we treat each other and quite frankly I’m embarrassed to be associated with some who are calling themselves Christians while ungraciously raking other believers over the coals for relatively easy to clarify misunderstandings.
[NOTE: I’m not rebuking those asking honest questions and expressing a genuine desire to better understand. I am specifically addressing the “heresy police” sitting at the “children’s table” who clearly have no problem casting Andy out of the kingdom while throwing food at those sitting at the “adult table.”]
Jesus said, “By this everyone will know that you are my disciples, if you love one another.” He could have said, “By this everyone will know you are my disciples, if you hold to all the same doctrinal distinctives,” but He didn’t. He pointed to the fruit of love for each other not perfect doctrinal fidelity. Why? I think it is because graced people are gracious people. Loved people are loving people. Forgiven people are forgiving of other people. People who’ve been shown patience from above are patient with others doctrinal differences.
In contrast, misery loves company–miserable people wish to make others miserable so they don’t suffer alone. Hurting people hurt people. People who feel like they are under judgement tend to judge others harshly. People who don’t feel unconditionally loved certainly don’t know how to love others unconditionally. And those who have never experience God’s forgiveness really do not know how to forgive others.
The leaven of the Pharisees is alive and well my brothers and sisters. Be aware of it. Of course, we must continue to speak truth in love and press a brother if they make doctrinal errors, but only do so if you know the full context! And if you feel you must enter the discussion do so prayerfully while practicing the principle of charity (believe the best about a person’s intention unless conclusively proven otherwise). I pray you all will read this with the spirit it is intended.
The Fine Print
At the bottom of instructions, documents and products you’ll often find the “fine print” meant to protect people from frivolously law suits, etc. Well, here is my fine print regarding Andy… I do not know everything Andy believes on every topic, nor have I listened to all his sermons or read all of his books, so there very well could be some things he has said or will say that I won’t agree with, but isn’t that true of everyone?
Being a Christian (a mature adult one) means learning to disagree with each other graciously. Can we learn to do that better together?
ADDED NOTE (1/14/19): Dr. Michael Brown shows us a good example of how a mature Christian brother might take issue with Pastor Andy’s statements: