Stanley’s 2018 book “Irresistible” addressed the main question, “How can we make Jesus irresistible to the next generation?” His answer was to focus only on the New Testament – arguing from Acts 15 that the disciples themselves “unhitched” from the Old Testament.
The next year when Stanley spoke at Dallas Theological Seminary, his basic argument was, “For the sake of the next generation, tether the faith to the event of the Resurrection rather than to the authority, inspiration, and infallibility of the Bible.”
The biggest problem in Stanley’s argument is the “half-truths” he uses to persuade individuals. He says early Christians did not have a Bible for 400 years post-Christ. This is not a true statement. Both Paul and Jesus reasoned from the Scriptures, and the early New Testament letters were broadly circulating by the 1st Century.
From 2018 to 2019, Stanley progressed from arguing that we need to unhitch the Old Testament from the New Testament to saying that we need to unhitch from the authority of Scripture altogether.
In the midst of this is Stanley’s focus on the power of the individual to make Jesus appealing to a lost and dying word rather than on the power of God to save.
Christians have shared the gospel throughout church history with boldness that many in our modern time do not possess. The gospel is supposed to be offensive to the unbeliever. The gospel requires a life change. If we water down the gospel message or try to make it more appealing to the world, that is no gospel (see Galatians 1:6-10).
The argument that the gospels are merely reliable accounts of the resurrection and nothing more is to give them no authority when it comes to the reality of the resurrection. How do those accounts compare to the 20 to 30 other accounts of Christ’s resurrection? How do we know which ones are true if we will not say that the Bible is inspired?
The argument that the four Gospel accounts are true based on its account of the resurrection holds no water if Stanley will not say they are inspired along with the rest of Scripture (1 Corinthians 15:1). Scripture authenticates itself as the inspired Word of God and is the only place where we learn anything substantive about Christ’s work.
The gospel accounts and the rest of the Bible do not support Stanley’s view. Christ understood Scripture to be about him. It is all one story. The Scriptures were used as proof for Christ being who he said he was. We do not have to reinvent the wheel when sharing the gospel. Do not be afraid to defend the Bible. It is truly authoritative and inerrant and the inspired Word of God.
Brittany Proffitt lives in Dallas and is a writer and content manager for So We Speak.