This week, pastor and author Andy Stanley received criticism online for a tweet he posted, which he has since deleted, in which he claimed that the centrality of Jesus to Christianity is more important than the inerrancy of the Bible.
The tweet argued that the truth of only 66 historical scriptures was not crucial to the Christian faith. Everything hinges on whether or not you believe Jesus was the Messiah.
Stanley, who is the senior pastor at North Point Community Church in Alpharetta, GA, is quoted in the tweet. In the series of tweets, Stanley shared a video that contained the entire statement.
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At the outset of the recording, Stanley can be heard saying, “Here is what might be an uncomfortable question for some of us and interesting and maybe even helpful and surprisingly honest question for others.” Does it really boil down to, ‘The Bible tells us so’ when trying to ascertain whether or not God exists, what God is like, and who God favors? …or any other holy book ‘tells us so’?”
Stanley, now assuming the role of a skeptic, listed all the reasons why people could doubt the Bible’s veracity and said he could see why that would be the case.
If, as Stanley argues, “the Christian faith teeters on the ancient declarations of superstitious men,” then “why not?”
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“The truth is, Christians are not expected to believe what we believe based on a collection of ancient manuscripts written by men who never met each other over the course of hundreds of years in a time when everybody was superstitious and everybody believed in the gods and there was no modern science,” Stanley said. Our religion is built on something much stronger than that. It’s a much more long-term solution.
According to Stanley, “[the Christian faith] rises and falls on the identity of a single individual: Jesus of Nazareth,” and he went on to say that those who are seeking or doubting faith are typically wrestling with the wrong questions. As the author puts it, “The question to wrestle with is not ‘Is there a God?’ or ‘Is the Bible true?’ In fact, such are typically exit routes from religious belief rather than entry points.
The crux of the matter, the question at the heart of Christianity, is whether or not the gospels according to Matthew, Mark, Luke, or John give an accurate account of the events they describe. “What they say about Jesus is true if even one of these four is a credible account of actual events,” Stanley continued. And if what is said about Jesus of Nazareth is correct, then it’s game on and faith is justified. You need to keep going. “Lean in” is the correct posture.
“The story of Jesus is not a Bible story,” Stanley said. The reason for the existence of the Bible is the account of Jesus’ life. The Bible exists because of Jesus.