Andy vs. Jeff- Which Way is Biblical?
“Now we know that whatever the Law says, it speaks to those who are under the Law, so that every mouth may be closed and all the world may become accountable to God; because by the works of the Law no flesh will be justified in His sight; for through the Law comes the knowledge of sin.” –Romans 3:19-20 (NASB)
Here’s some quick background on this video: Andy Stanley has released a new book and in it he argues for a particular form of evangelism. The evangelistic method he argues for focuses on proving the resurrection of Christ rather than defending God’s Word. Jeff Durbin has publicly critiqued this approach. This is what prompted this debate between these two men.
In fairness to Andy Stanley, a lot of the negative press he has received has been inaccurate. He’s been accused of abandoning the authority of the Old Testament, and essentially being a modern day reviver of Marcionism (a condemned heresy wherein the Old and New Testament were viewed as being about different, warring Gods). It’s understandable why so many people have accused him of this heresy as there are many soundbites of his preaching that lends credence to this idea. However, in this video, he flatly denies that this is his viewpoint.
Instead, what Stanley is arguing is that the Old Testament poses several practical evangelistic hurdles. He argues that clearing those hurdles is unnecessary, saying that the event of the resurrection of Christ (not the Bible) is the foundation of the Christian faith.
In other words, if someone in an evangelistic encounter were to say “Do you really believe a disobedient child should be stoned to death?” Someone using Stanley’s approach would likely respond, “Of course not, but here’s why I still believe in Jesus Christ…” Then the Stanley evangelist would go on to make a case for the resurrection.
Durbin, however, argues that the Bible (not any one event within) is the foundation faith. In this view, it is Scripture that the Holy Spirit uses to lead a heart to a point of repentance. So, if someone were to bring up a challenge using Scripture, then that challenge is responded to in a way that upholds the inerrancy of Scripture.
To put this in other words, if that same person in an evangelistic encounter said “Do you really believe a disobedient child should be stoned to death?”, then the Durbin leaning evangelist would respond with “Sounds like you’re referring to Deuteronomy 21:18-21…” Then the Durbin evangelist would go on to point out that this passage is part of the Holiness Code (it’s repeated in Leviticus 20:9) and has to do with the preservation of a perfect nation. Today, it is useful in showing us how serious sin is in the sight of a just and loving God. Then, this evangelist would preach the message of the Cross.
Ultimately, a lot of the difference between Durbin and Stanley comes down to evidentialism and presuppositionalism.
Evidentialism views evangelism as being about evidence. The idea is that if a person is given enough evidence for God and the reality of Christ, then he or she will repent and believe. Presuppositionalism views evangelism as being about conversion. It begins with the recognition that we all use reasoning based upon certain things we assume (pre-suppose) to be true.
Presuppositionalism generally recognizes that it is the Law of God that is to be used to bring about a knowledge of sin, and it is this knowledge which the Holy Spirit uses for conversion/regeneration.
If you have been through any of our trainings offered as part of Mission Upstate, you likely know which side of the argument I come down on.
God’s Word is clear that “faith comes from hearing, and hearing by the word of Christ” (Romans 10:17, NASB). Specifically in 1 Corinthians 1:21 (NASB), Paul wrote “For since in the wisdom of God the world through its wisdom did not come to know God, God was well-pleased through the foolishness of the message preached to save those who believe.” The message preached in this passage is defined as “Christ crucified.”
What Paul is saying is that worldly wisdom will not save. Our goal in evangelism is to help this person recognize his/her need for a savior and then convey the Good News of Christ crucified. None of that makes any sense if we deny the Bible.
I have written many times about my views on evidentialism- it does have its place. However, I find that it’s most useful to equip those young in the faith that their faith may increase.
If we recognize that conversion is the work of the Holy Spirit, then we must seek to convert the lost in the means which the Holy Spirit has prescribed in His Word. This cannot be done by first denying His Word.
With all due respect to Andy Stanley and his new book (which is intentionally unnamed herein), the simple fact is that the method of evangelism he prescribes in this book is contrary to the Word of God and is not an effective tool for bearing fruit for the Kingdom.