I recently saw someone favorably repeat this Andy Stanley quote on Facebook. “[W]e must teach the next generation the FOUNDATION of our faith is an EVENT not a BOOK.”
Apparently, he said this back in June but since I missed it then I’ll comment now.
Andy Stanley continues to have a serious problem drawing logical (not to mention Biblical!) conclusions. Let’s assume that the event Stanley refers to is the life/death/resurrection of Jesus Christ. Yes, that is foundational. However, how is it that we can know anything about Jesus Christ’s life on Earth if not for the Bible? It is the Bible that prophesied the coming of a second Adam beginning in the book of Genesis, and continuing on through book after book, prophet after prophet. How would we know of Jesus’ miracles or his teachings or the fact that he proclaimed he was God and said the Scriptures were about him without the Bible? So clearly, the Bible is also foundational because without it we could not know that Jesus was the Messiah, or how we can be saved by him or how to live as Christians without it.
I’m not very familiar with David Prince, but his criticism of Stanley’s tweet was spot on when he wrote: “What do we know of the event of faith and of Jesus the Christ apart from the foundational revelation of Scripture? We know the right meaning and theological ramifications of all events only through the lens of the Christ-centered revelation of God in the Bible. When Paul summarizes the gospel message he deliberately notes that the work of Christ was ‘in accordance with the Scriptures’ (1 Cor 15:1-4). In Ephesians 2:20, Paul explains that our faith is ‘built on the foundation of the apostles and prophets, Christ Jesus himself being the cornerstone.'”
“Pitting faith in the Christ event against the word of Christ in the Scripture is a disastrous error,” Prince saliently concluded.
Stanley correctly recognizes that people are abandoning the Christian faith and is concerned about it. This is a real problem, but the right solution is not to downgrade the importance of the Bible to Christianity. It is essential. As a pastor, Stanley ought to affirm that, instead in this case and others, he has downplayed the Scriptures.
Denny Burk rightly identified the “poison pill” within Stanley’s doctrine of scripture when Stanley previously went off the rails in a discussion of Adam and Eve saying that “The foundation of our faith is not the Scripture. The foundation of our faith is not the infallibility of the Bible.”
Burk also commented on Stanley’s recent “event not a book” remarks and noted that the effect is to “drive a wedge between what God does and what God says.” He exposes the absurdity of doing so with a marriage illustration that I found quite helpful and I hope you do too.
If Stanley is concerned about people leaving the church because they no longer believe the Bible, a better solution would be proper discipleship and theological training for Christians. Christianity has been under fire from the world as long as it has existed. Churches should be equipping Christians for such attacks by properly teaching Scripture and training people to study it for themselves as well as supplying evidence for the Bible’s historicity and reliability. There are some great apologists like Dr. James White doing this work. I’ve previously linked to several of White’s lectures about the reliability of the New Testament. You’ll find that blog post here.