Andy Stanley’s Problem with the Bible

As we examine the controversial statements made by Andy Stanley, there seems to be an undeniable connection between his errors and the manner in which he approaches the Bible

Stanley went on to explain, he said, “There were thousands and thousands and thousands of Christians before there was a Bible.”  He then went on to say, “I would start with the resurrection of Jesus.”  Why is it that Andy Stanley seems to distance himself from the Bible?  Is it possible to present the resurrection of Jesus without the Bible?  Could it be that some other historic account of Jesus’ resurrection carries more authority than the Bible?  How would Andy Stanley pull from the evidence of eyewitnesses of Jesus’ resurrection without using the Bible?


Andy Stanley knows the Bible.  As the son of the popular Baptist pastor, Dr. Charles Stanley, he has grown up under Bible teaching and preaching.  As a pastor of a very large megachurch, North Point Community Church in Alpharetta, Georgia, Andy Stanley has spent much time reading and studying the Bible.  So, why does it seem that Andy Stanley has a problem with the Bible on so many different levels?

Over the past few years, Andy Stanley has managed to stay in the light of controversy regarding his positions on key issues of the faith.  Is Andy Stanley operating by the old adage, “There’s no such thing as bad publicity”?  While Stanley may not be seeking bad publicity, the fact is, he has managed to keep controversy stirred up around him in recent years.  Exactly where did Andy Stanley go off course?  As we examine the controversial statements made by Andy Stanley, there seems to be an undeniable connection between his errors and the manner in which he approaches the Bible.

Is Verse-by-Verse Preaching Cheating?

Andy Stanley is not an expository preacher.  In an interview with Ed Stetzer in 2009 regarding his book titled, Communicating for a Change, Stetzer asked Stanley about preaching.  The question was, “What do you think about preaching verse-by-verse messages through books of the Bible?”  Andy Stanley responded, “Guys that preach verse-by-verse through books of the Bible– that is just cheating. It’s cheating because that would be easy, first of all. That isn’t how you grow people. No one in the Scripture modeled that. There’s not one example of that.”  It’s quite clear that Stanley isn’t a fan of verse-by-verse preaching, but what does that communicate regarding his overall approach to the Bible?

Is the Bible Sufficient for Church Growth?

In 2010, at the pastors’ conference for the Southern Baptist Convention, Andy Stanley appealed to big corporations such as Chick-fil-A and Intel in order to drive home his church growth message to thousands of pastors in attendance.  He repeated this phrase, “If you make your church better, they will come and make your church bigger.”  His entire sermon was positioned squarely on pragmatism rather than the Word of God.  In his sermon, Andy Stanley said, “We’ve created church for church people.”  He then scolded church leaders for an unwillingness to make it easier for unchurched people to feel comfortable in our churches.

Is the Bible Clear on Homosexuality?

Andy Stanley’s seeker sensitive approach to church growth is perhaps the lightest problem in recent years.  In 2012, Stanley was the center of controversy once again with statements (and a lack of statements) regarding the sin of homosexuality.  In a sermon he preached titled “When Gracie Met Truthy,” he described a couple in his church that had to be asked to step down from leadership.  Two men were engaged in a homosexual relationship, but the reason they were asked to step down was what Stanley called “just good old fashioned adultery.” Stanley explained, “You’re in a sexual relationship with someone else’s husband.”  Stanley capitulated on the whole issue calling out the sin of adultery while refusing to call out the sin of homosexuality.  Albert Mohler writes:

The most puzzling and shocking part of the message was the illustration and the account of the homosexual couple, however. The inescapable impression left by the account was that the sin of concern was adultery, but not homosexuality. [1]

Although Andy Stanley wasn’t clear on the subject of homosexuality, we can be sure that the Bible is abundantly clear.  So why does Andy Stanley continue to feel the need to distance himself from a clear and historically orthodox interpretative method of reading and applying the Bible?

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