North Point Community Church ‘impastor’ Andy Stanley continued his wretched job of unhitching the church from all the scriptures by offering a curious take on the perspicuity of scripture, claiming there’s no “universally defined standard” and there’s no “clear divine standard” that’s been revealed to mankind of what ‘good is.’
You’ll recall that Stanley previously said that it doesn’t matter if the bible is true, so long as it’s ‘mostly reliable, and that the “foundation of our faith is not the whole bible. In 2018, he got shellacked from all sides for saying that Christians needed to unhitch themselves from the Old Testament and in a recent sermon told Christians not to follow Jesus through the Old Testament, but only through the Gospels.
During his October 30, 2022 sermon, Stanley seeks to rebuff the notion that “good people go to heaven” by making some curious claims and approaching the subject in a very Stanleyesque way:
The first thing that kind of undermines this whole idea that you know, ‘good people go to heaven and I’m a good person’, is that ‘good’ is a moving target historically.
What was considered ‘good’ 1000 years ago is considered evil now. What was considered evil 1000 years ago in some capacity is actually considered ‘good’. So depending on when you drop into history, the history of mankind, gosh, the definition of ‘good’, it’s kind of all over the place.
And it’s a moving target culturally, I mean, right now you can go to different parts of the world and what’s considered good in some parts of the world we consider evil, and what we consider evil in some parts of world they consider good. So who’s right?
And if good people go to heaven, again, there’s no universally defined standard and there’s no clear divine standard that’s been revealed to all of us otherwise everybody in the world would know exactly what good is and we would measure it the same way. And good is a moving target personally, right?
As stated in the aforementioned links, Stanley has said Christians need to “unhitch” themselves from the Old Testament on account of its troubling morality, and other minimizing of the OT. He later notes in this sermon:
This is kind of a western thing too, well we say ‘wait a minute but the Bible, the Bible tells us what’s good and bad and the difference between right and wrong’ and so some people want to use the Bible as the standard. And as we said last time, that’s a terrible idea.
Because if the Bible is the standard (Ed. note. he’s referring to the NT here) , you in fact don’t make the cut. You aren’t a good person. And I’m not judging you, I’m just telling you if you hold your standard of behavior up against the Bible’s standard of you know, right and wrong, good and bad, you’re not all that good.
And as we said last time, the Old Testament, the Jewish scriptures the Hebrew scriptures doesn’t even mention Heaven. People just all went to sheol, right? So there’s no theology. And of course they had some beliefs about the afterlife but there’s no coherent theology of heaven or of the afterlife in the Old Testament…. If you’re looking for an answer to the question ‘how good is good enough’ the Bible is really of no help because we’re not that good.”
Stanley is correct in much of his sermon. Still, because of his idiosyncratic theology, he repeatedly goes out of his way to de-emphasize the authority of the bible and instead emphasize the person of Jesus. It’s why in last week’s sermon, he goes out of his way to say strange things like ‘just because Jesus believes something, that doesn’t make it true.’
Hear me, for the moment. Don’t hear me saying what I’m saying because it’s necessarily true. Just hear me saying what I’m about to say, because this is what was said (in the bible.)
According to Jesus, good people don’t go to heaven. According to Jesus, it’s the very opposite of what most people who believe there’s a heaven actually think and believe. And the fact that Jesus didn’t believe that good people go to heaven, that doesn’t necessarily make it true. That’s just what He taught. And that’s what he said, and clearly, it’s what he believed.
But at the same time, and here’s the gotcha, here’s the strange thing, here’s the sit up straight and pay attention. Here’s the ‘wow’, you know, ‘that’s something to consider’: Jesus did not teach that good people go to heaven, but Jesus instructed his followers to be good, and more than that to do good.