In a recent commentary for Relevant, Andy Stanley sparked controversy when he said that Christians have no obligation to obey commands found in the Old Testament.
Stanley, a pastor at North Point Community Church in Alpharetta, Georgia, opened the commentary discussing the controversies over public displays of the Ten Commandments. He said, “But how many times have you seen Christians trying to post the text of the sermon on the mount in a public place? Or the all-encompassing command Jesus gave us? “A new command I give you: Love one another. As I have loved you, so you must love one another.” –John 13:34.”
This brought Stanley into the controversial section of his remarks. He said, “Doesn’t have the same ring to it, does it? But if we’re going to create a monument to stand as a testament to our faith, shouldn’t it at least be a monument of something that actually applies to us?”
Stanley then argued that Jesus issued his one command to replace all the Old Testament commands. “Participants in the new covenant (that’s Christians) are not required to obey any of the commandments found in the first part of their Bibles.” He continued, “Participants in the new covenant are expected to obey the single command Jesus issued as part of his new covenant: as I have loved you, so you must love one another.”
Stanley provoked strong reactions earlier this year when he suggested that Christians “unhitch” themselves from the Old Testament. Preaching on Acts 15, he said that Peter, James, and Paul “unhitched” the law of Moses from the Gospel Paul preached to the Gentiles. Then he argued that the Old Testament is not “the go-to source regarding any behavior in the church.”
Al Mohler, President of the Southern Baptist Theological Seminary in Louisville, Kentucky, responded to Stanley’s earlier comments in an article released this summer. He said, “The church cannot ‘unhitch’ from the Old Testament without unhitching from the gospel Jesus preached. Speaking of the Old Testament Scriptures, Jesus said, ‘it is they that bear witness about me.’ (John 5:39)”
Mohler also questioned whether we can deny the Christian’s commitment to the Old Testament without also losing the truth about who Jesus is. He commented, “But another key question is whether one can be a faithful Christian while denying the truthfulness of Scripture. Jesus himself makes the point that without the Old Testament as the Word of God, we really do not know who he is. Then what does it mean to be a Christian?”
Stanley’s new book arguing for his ideas about the relationship of Jesus to the Old Testament, Irresistible: Reclaiming the New that Jesus Released for the World, released last week.
Scott Slayton is a pastor and writer. Visit his blog One Degree to Another.
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