Here is the scene: You have spoken out against someone’s sin. Perhaps it was in conversation or discussion about this concern, or in an Internet comment section. Perhaps it was directly to the offender, in an attempt to turn that person from wrong to right. The immediate reaction to your statement is a chorus of objections the goes something like this:
Jesus said “Judge not!”
“You should be loving like Jesus, not judgmental.”
“Jesus never judged people.”
“Jesus only loved people, he never judged them.”
“Jesus loved and accepted people the way they were, he never judged them.”
Never mind the irony of people judging you for judging— is what they are saying about our Lord Jesus true at all? We are not at liberty to make up facts about Jesus so He will fit our narrative. Jesus is who He is, He did what He did, and He said what He said, all as recorded for us in God’s Word, the Bible.
“Jesus loves me, this I know, for the Bible tells me so.”
If you had told me a month ago that a well-respected, successful Southern Baptist pastor would devote an entire sermon preaching against that line, I would have been very skeptical. That, however, is just what megachurch pastor and popular speaker Andy Stanley did as part of his “Who Needs God” series. He quotes the familiar song and says “This is where our trouble began.”
I know that Stanley is a gifted and popular figure. No doubt many who are reading what I am about to say have benefited from his ministry. We are not questioning that the Lord has used him greatly, and that is what makes this situation all the more dangerous and tragic. Dangerous for his hearers, because his followers will be disposed to overlook or minimize a serious and deadly error. Dangerous for Pastor Stanley, because “we who teach will be judged with greater strictness” (James 3:1). Mark my words, this is going in a direction that will not end well. God’s people need to be aware and to take care.
Stanley invites us to ask the question, “Should we really believe something just because the Bible tells us so?” He answers in the negative, and the remainder of the message gives his reasoning. The sermon is specifically addressing those who have left the faith after being taught the “childhood version” reflected in the song. These young people go off to college and learn from their professors that certain parts of the Bible are not true, and so they turn away from Jesus. Stanley says that if you are well-read, “It is next to impossible to defend the entire Bible.” It is not adequate to say, “The Bible says it, that settles it.” Pastor Stanley says to those who left Christianity because they thought they had to believe the entire Bible: “You left Christianity unnecessarily.”
Stanley does not directly say that he himself disbelieves any of the Bible, but neither does he say that he believes it all. What he does say is that believing all of the Bible is unnecessary and can be a hindrance to faith in Jesus.