June 25, 2024

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June 25, 2024

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‘Back Away From a Text-Based Faith’?: Wokeism Begins With Devaluing The Words Of Scripture

Jonathan Brentner

Several years ago, I spent a lengthy lunchtime with a pastor explaining the biblical necessity for the Lord to restore a glorious kingdom to the nation of Israel. The words on the pages of Scripture didn’t matter to him because of his predetermined way of retrofitting them into His covenant theology. He criticized my beliefs as being out of step with the “popular” trends in the church. He pointed to Andy Stanley, a well-known pastor from Atlanta, as an example of someone’s beliefs I should copy.

I think about that conversation with my former pastor whenever I hear reports regarding Stanley’s lack of respect for the Bible.

Responding to criticism regarding a sermons series, “The Bible Told Me So,” Stanley made this comment:

I wanted educated, dechurched millennials to know that I knew that those who supposedly know everything are convinced there was no worldwide flood or Hebrew migration from Egypt. While addressing them directly, I gave them the benefit of the doubt to make the following point: Even if those events never occurred, it does nothing to undermine the evidence supporting the resurrection of Jesus and thus the claims he made about himself.

It’s admirable that he wants to reach millennials with the Gospel, but at what price? Is he forgetting that Jesus verified such events? How does one reconcile Jesus’ claim to be God with His supposed mistaken views regarding the flood and Moses? To give the unsaved the “benefit of the doubt” regarding events that Jesus confirmed during His ministry undermines His credibility as a Savior. How can it not?

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In a recent video, Tom Hughes quoted Andy Stanley as saying, “I’m really on a crusade to help the church specifically step back away from a text-based faith.”

Pastor Hughes then asked, “What text? Is he saying we must step away from a Bible-based faith? He’s already said that ‘we must unhitch ourselves from the Old Testament.’”

Stanley’s statements regarding the Bible puts the purity of the Gospel on dangerous ground and initiates a downward slide that can only lead to Wokeism.

THE PROBLEM OF SEPARATING JESUS FROM HIS WORDS

Stanley’s statements separate Jesus from His Word, which is exactly the stance of churches steeped in Wokeism. Many professing Christians proclaim their allegiance to Jesus, but maintain social beliefs radically opposed to what Jesus taught about marriage, gender, and God’s creation of men and women, just to name a few issues.

In John 12:47-49, Jesus said this about the close connection between Himself and His words:

John 12:47-49 KJV – “And if any man hear my words, and believe not, I judge him not: for I came not to judge the world, but to save the world. bHe that rejecteth me, and receiveth not my words, hath one that judgeth him: the word that I have spoken, the same shall judge him in the last day. For I have not spoken of myself; but the Father which sent me, he gave me a commandment, what I should say, and what I should speak.”

In Matthew 24:35 He asserted, “Heaven and earth will pass away, but my words will not pass away.”

The woke culture that’s invaded many churches thrives on promoting a Jesus that’s far different from the One we read about in the New Testament, which always happens when a church moves “away from a text-based faith.” It’s always a problem when churches distance Jesus from what He said.

The words of Scripture matter. Once one accepts a different meaning for what Jesus said or what the authors of the Bible wrote, it opens the door to error and eventually Wokeism.

WOKEISM FEEDS OFF A FALSE VIEW OF JESUS

By separating Jesus from His words, Stanley allows people to respond to a false message concerning Him.  How can that be good?

Wokeism feeds off a false view of Jesus. How can we accept the possibility of an error on His part without undermining our faith and values?

In Romans 10:17, Paul wrote, “So faith comes from hearing, and hearing through the word of Christ.” Saving faith comes as a result of hearing the Gospel. Can that happen when one allows a false view of Jesus to prevail in the ears of the hearers?

Stanley says that for the sake of argument, he’s willing to concede that events, ones Jesus clearly affirmed throughout His ministry, might not have happened because such a concession doesn’t diminish the reality of the resurrection. Really? How does he intend to preach that although Jesus claimed to be God and believed things that were not true, He still saves because He rose from the dead? That doesn’t sound too convincing to me.

Furthermore, pastors of woke churches often affirm a belief in the resurrection of Jesus and use the same words we do to describe it. However, if one listens carefully, it becomes clear that they don’t believe in a bodily resurrection.

I also heard Stanley say that we don’t believe in the resurrection because of Scripture, but because we have the witnesses of Matthew, Mark, Luke, and John. This is double-speak; apart from the Bible, we don’t have these testimonies to Jesus’ resurrection.

THE DOWNWARD PATH

Once pastors allow compromises regarding the words of Scripture, they lead the church along a dangerous road that over time, leads to the gradual acceptance of the cancel culture of today.

Below are some steps along this downward path:

  1. It most often begins with the use of allegory (spiritual/symbolical interpretations) to retrofit God’s promises to restore a glorious kingdom to Israel so that they apply to the church.
  2. Rather than take the words of the biblical authors at face value, they apply God’s covenants with Israel to the church making it God’s physical kingdom on earth.
  3. Although the proponents of this viewpoint maintain the inerrancy and inspiration of Scripture, over time their allegorical approach to prophecy spreads and begins chipping away at the integrity of other biblical texts.
  4. In the case of Pastor Stanley, he proclaimed that the church must “specifically step back away from a text-based faith.” Is this not a giant step at eroding confidence in the Bible?
  5. Stanley progressed further down this path when praised the faith of homosexuals who claim to be Christ-followers while at the same time discounting the importance of passages that refer to its practice as sin.

My point is this: the use of allegory to reinterpret the words of biblical prophecy devalues the words of biblical prophecy and given enough time, leads to compromises with the world and the acceptance of its values. In the near-term, it leads to a denial of what the Bible says about the Rapture and an avoidance of talking about our “blessed hope.”

In Ephesians 2:19-20, the Apostle Paul tells us that we “are fellow citizens with the saints and members of the household of God, built on the foundation of the apostles and prophets, Christ Jesus himself being the cornerstone.” The entire New Testament is the foundation of the church and as such, we dare not mess with it.

“PREACH THE WORD”

In 2 Timothy 4:1-4, Paul instructs Timothy to “preach the word” in contrast to those who “will not endure sound teaching.” The proclamation of God’s Word is the antidote to errant teaching and to a sound view of future things.

Some might ask, “Who cares if someone regards the church as heir to the kingdom promises of the Old Testament? Is that not an incidental belief that interferes with reaching the lost?”

The problem is this: One can’t arrive at such a conclusion based on the words of Scripture. One must retrofit the meaning of its words through allegory to in order to believe that the church represents God’s kingdom on earth rather than Jesus’ reign during the Millennium as recorded in Revelation 20:1-10. Words matter!

How can we not sound the alarm when perhaps the most skilled and influential “evangelical” preacher in America, Andy Stanley, seeks to move the church away from its foundation upon the Word of God?

As Pastor Tom Hughes stated in his video referring to Stanley’s desire to move the church away from its moorings, “This is bad; this is really bad!” I agree!

As a small boy many years ago, I jumped to my feet while singing, “I stand alone on the Word of God, the B-I-B-L-E.” That’s remains my passion and the reason for all that I write.

It’s all about Jesus! The One who rose from the dead predicted that a time of great Tribulation would come upon the world and His words are coming to life everywhere we look. The one who promised that His disciples would rule over Israel in His future kingdom will most certainly keep His promise (Matthew 19:28).

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