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December 27, 2016
| Filed in: Southern Baptists
December has apparently proven to be an interesting month for the Rev. Andy Stanley, son of a former president of the Southern Baptist Convention and lead pastor of North Point Community Church in Alpharetta — one of the largest congregations in the country.
Though it is only now breaking in to the open, the Baptist world has been rocked by a Dec. 4 sermon in which the son of famed TV evangelist Charles Stanley discounted the importance of believing in the virgin birth of Jesus. His entry point:
“A lot of people just don’t believe it. And I understand that. Maybe the thought is, ‘Hey, maybe they had to come up with some myth about Jesus to give him street cred, you know, later on.’ Maybe that’s where that came from.
“It’s interesting, because Matthew gives us a version of the birth of Christ, Luke does, but Mark and John – they don’t even mention it. A lot has been made of that….
“You’ve heard me say some version of this a million times, so this will be old if you’ve been around for a while. But see, if somebody can predict their own death and then their own resurrection, I’m not all that concerned about how they got into the world.”
Many Baptists were aghast at what they saw as an unexpected new front opening up in the war on Christmas. From Baptist Global News:
Albert Mohler, president of Southern Baptist Theological Seminary in Louisville, Ky., took exception to Stanley’s view in a Dec. 16 podcast describing the Bible stories about Christ’s incarnation as “the central truth claim of Christmas.”
“Just in recent days, one Christian leader was quoted as saying that if Jesus predicted his death and then was raised from the dead, it doesn’t matter how he came into the world,” Mohler said. “But the Bible insists it really does matter and the answer given from Scripture very clear in the gospel of Matthew and in the gospel of Luke is that Jesus was born to a virgin.”
We’ll let the religion desk of the Washington Post weigh in as well:
This is not the first time Stanley…has had to defend remarks from his sermons. Earlier this year, after critics accused him of downplaying the authority of scripture, the nondenominational pastor attributed the issue to his nontraditional preaching style.
“The real story is the handful of Southern Baptist professors and writers (not so much preachers) who seem to have nothing else to do but listen to bits and pieces of my messages,” he said in his statement to The Post. “Anyone who listens to all three [sermons in the series] will know that I stand firmly within the orthodox Christian tradition regarding the incarnation of Jesus — including the birth narratives as presented [in] Matthew and Luke.”
Stanley also said he believes people can become Christians without knowing the narratives around Jesus’ birth.
ANDY STANLEY MINIMIZES THE VIRGIN BIRTH OF CHRIST (Friday Church News Notes, December 30, 2016, www.wayoflife.org, firstname.lastname@example.org, 866-295-4143) -
The following is from Matt Costella, Fundamental Evangelistic Association, Dec. 23, 2016:
“Andy Stanley, pastor of North Pointe Ministries in the Atlanta area, is no stranger to controversy. Stanley has made numerous statements just this past year that have generated controversy and resulted in backlash from conservative evangelicals. But Stanley’s December 3, 2016, sermon may be the most controversial yet. In his sermon, Stanley minimized the importance—if not the reality—of the virgin birth of Jesus Christ. ‘A lot of people don’t believe it, and I understand that,’ Stanley said. He added, ‘Maybe the thought is they had to come up with some kind of myth about the birth of Jesus to give him street cred later on. Maybe that’s where that came from’ (Baptist News Global, ‘Virgin Birth Debate Interrupts Regular ‘War on Christmas’ Program,’ 12-21-16). Stanley then noted that it is interesting that only 2 of the 4 gospels mention the virgin birth, and said ‘Christianity doesn’t hinge on the truth or even the stories around the birth of Jesus … It really hinges on the resurrection of Jesus.’ Earlier this year, Stanley minimized the importance of the role Scripture plays in the life of the believer, and minimizing the importance of the virgin birth of Christ is simply the next step in this downward trajectory. The virgin birth of Christ is vitally important, for without the virgin birth, mankind would not have a Savior (the God-man) and no resurrection could have occurred! Despite what Stanley says, Christianity does hinge on the truth surrounding the birth of Jesus Christ. Stanley’s statements are dangerous and his conclusions are completely unbiblical. Discerning believers must beware of those who minimize vital doctrinal truths in an attempt to relate to those who reject such truths in the first place.”
ANDY STANLEY NEGATES THE VIRGIN BIRTH