The More Relevant Andy Stanley Becomes to the World, the Less Relevant He Becomes to the Church
Mega church pastor Andy Stanley is not my favorite. I have not written in opposition to him since 2016. Back then, he was happily stealing sheep from small churches, mocking small church pastors, and boasting about it. Soon after that, he was “un-hitching” the Old Testament from Christianity. In 2020, he just shut down his mega church entirely for a Covid-19 hiatus. Ezekiel 34 comes to mind with that last faux pas.
Typically, when celebrity pastors head off the rails, the world picks them up and gives them an even bigger stage (e. g. Joel Osteen, Paula White, Rob Bell, etc.). This was the case for Fox News, which decided Andy Stanley was the man to get some New Year’s advice on “resetting your life.” It is a new year, so Pastor Andy says, “You can decide today who you want to be, and your decisions can flow out of that vision.” Is that even true?
As a Christian writer with a single digit readership, I am an expert on irrelevance. Still, as a Christian, I can only imagine, even once, having a platform on a major media outlet. What would I say? What would I write? I am torn between, “Christ died for ungodly sinners,” and “Christ redeemed us from the curse of the Law.” Maybe I am just old-fashioned, as a Christian, with my irrepressible interest in Jesus Christ.
What does mega pastor Andy Stanley, given his 15 paragraphs of fame, have to write? Andy writes, “Take time to ask yourself a simple question: What story do I want to tell?” No, Pastor Andy is not referring to the Gospel story to tell. He wants you to decide on your own story, “Make your story a good one, one worth retelling.” Apparently, it is all about you. Who knew?
Mega church pastors are all about human empowerment (see Genesis 3:5 for more information). Like the U.S. Army, they want you to be all you can be. As Arminians, mega church men coach people by telling them that they can control the present and the future, even eternity, by making decisions. Their father, Jacobus Arminius was a heretic (see Synod of Dordt 1618–19), but these men are really nothing more than mega group therapists. Salvation and theology really have very little to do with their mega messages.
Here is another example of psychology replacing the Bible — entirely in Andy’s case, in his opinion message to the media masses. Why in the world would any Christian waste the opportunity to present the Gospel message, as with the platform afforded by Fox News to Andy Stanley?
Like Hunter Biden becoming famous because of his dad, so Andy Stanley became famous because of his dad, mega church pastor, Charles Stanley. Fame is no friend to Christian pastors. That is my opinion message to my 10 or fewer readers (actually, because Andy Stanley’s name is in my article title, it will be increased numbers of readers for me!). Ironically, one of the sure ways of never becoming a popular, famous pastor is actually preaching the Gospel of Jesus Christ, the Gospel of grace (Acts 20:24; Col 1:6). The world hates the Gospel message, making it the perfect test of orthodoxy for the man of God.
One might object to my proposition, by suggesting Billy Graham was a popular, famous Gospel preacher. This is true. Billy Graham preached the gospel of works salvation (easy believism/free will decisionalism) to more people than anyone in history. For the uninformed, that is not the Gospel of God’s sovereign grace. The Bible calls it, “another gospel (2 Cor 11:4; Gal 1:7).” Billy Graham was all but the Pope of Evangelicalism, with his successor being none other than his son, Franklin Graham. Nepotism and fame seem to go together in popular Christianity.
My objection to Andy Stanley is not jealousy. I would never trade the Gospel of grace, for some cheap message of man-centered nonsense, even if the promise was to gain the whole world. Who is the Author of history? Who is the prophetic determiner of the future? Here is a hint…it is not you. His name is Jesus Christ, whom we preach, unlike Andy Stanley, given a golden opportunity. Our message is nothing other, and no one else than Christ and Him crucified (1 Cor 2:2), which is in contrast to, “you decide the story you want to tell about yourself.”
In my years of writing, I have only taken a few people to task and called them out by name in an article title. Not even the innumerable Pentecostal charlatans have the honor of being named in one of my titles. I have reserved that honor for Ed Stetzer, Francis Chan, Franklin Graham, Carey Nieuwhof, and Andy Stanley…now, twice. It grieves me to have to do that, more than my readers know.
My readership is miniscule, but for me to be found faithful to my calling, I deem it utterly imperative to warn you about Andy Stanley. There is something very wrong about this popular mega church pastor and this Fox News article is indicative. What he has written is something…but it is not Christian.
Spokane Valley, Washington
January 4, 2021