In the wake of the recent controversy surrounding a provocative sermon preached a few weeks back, Andy Stanley has written an article at Outreach Magazine in which he lays out what he really believes about the Bible and why the “The Bible Says So” approach which is prevalent all over evangelicalism is no longer good enough.
Stanley begins by pulling out his inerrantist card and waving it loudly and proudly. But he quickly goes on to say that the world has changed. People in society at large no longer take the Bible seriously, and the way in which many evangelicals, especially those in the SBC, talk about the Bible is no longer good enough. We now live in a world which is increasingly post-Christian. This is different from non-Christian because all the non-Christians out there now (most of them at least), used to be Christian. Which means that speaking in terms of “The Bible Says So” will be ineffective because they do not accept the Bible as authoritative.
Consequently he shifted from speaking of the authority of Scripture to the authority, courage, and faithfulness of the men and women who brought us the story of Scripture, from talking about the Bible to talking about the events recorded in the Bible as the foundation of the Christian faith. From there he goes on to develop a biblical justification for this shift in approach by laying out several instances recorded in Scripture where Peter, Paul, and other early Christian leaders shifted the emphasis of their message to tailor it to their audience.
While I have longstanding and well-documented issues with the language of inerrancy–I believe it is a flawed way of representing the truth of the inspiration of Scripture and a philosophical imposition on the text of Scripture which is way more trouble than it is worth–I appreciate Stanley’s approach. He rarely if ever pulls out the inerrantist card on Sunday morning, and he models a way of engaging with Scripture which is true to the nature of what it truly is–a human book produced by human authors who were used by God to point to Scripture’s underlying theme: the lordship of Christ, his death and resurrection and coming return to rule the coming kingdom of God, a kingdom which will have no end.