Andy Stanley keeps getting in trouble with evangelicals over some of his teachings. Remember when he suggested people unhitch from the Old Testament? Well he has gone and done it again.
You can watch a clip from an interview Andy Stanley did with Ed Stetzer.
A number of evangelicals are really upset about this. Stanley is saying that our goal is not to get people to believe certain things but to follow Jesus. Evangelicalism is based on the conviction that it is vital to have correct beliefs and so this sounds like heresy.
But is it really?
People seem to misunderstand Andy Stanley’s context. This is really the root of all of the things that have gotten him into hot water.
Andy Stanley’s goal is to get people to become followers of Jesus. When people hear that Stanley says “The invitation is not to believe something” they hear that as Stanley telling Christians it doesn’t matter what they believe. But that is not what he is saying.
What Stanley is doing is speaking to non-Christians and instead of saying “Here are a set of theological propositions that you must believe” he is saying “Here is Jesus and he is worth following.”
If you look at Stanley’s past messages, he does not teach that it does not matter what Christians believe. He does teach the Bible and people listened to more than short clips, they would know this.
What Stanley is saying is that the starting point for a non-Christian is not the convincing of certain doctrines but the presenting of the person of Jesus.
Biblically, this seems to be the model. People encounter Jesus and start following him and gradually learn from his teachings. This is really what Andy Stanley is arguing.
Evangelicals are going to struggle with this because core to its values is the dividing line between those who have right beliefs and those who have wrong beliefs. Anything that threatens that defensive position is going to be seen as a threat.
I’m not sure that I would have worded it quite the way Andy Stanley does in this short clip, but he is essentially correct. I am all for right beliefs but the starting point and the invitation should always be about following Jesus.