Trueman on Andy Stanley and People With Hard Lives image

Trueman on Andy Stanley and People With Hard Lives

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I've now listened to over forty hours of Carl Trueman's church history lectures, and I can say for sure that this is his most extended, and in many ways most pastorally motivated, rant. Forget for a moment your view (or his view) of Andy Stanley as a person - the chances are that many of us have been well served by some, or a great deal, of Stanley's ministry - and consider the issue Trueman addresses here, picking up on Luther's distinction between the theologian of the cross and the theologian of glory. I think he's right:

I reviewed that dreadful book by Charles Stanley’s son recently, Andy Stanley. You know: people want to be happy, so just make them happy from the pulpit. Well Andy Stanley pastors a church of 100,000 people or something ridiculous, where presumably he’s well-insulated from people who are unhappy. But I’ve got people in my congregation who have hard lives. And I would be lying to them on a Sunday if I was to say to them, “You know, trust God, and your life’s going to get better, and you’re going to get happy.”

I can’t say to the person who is eighty, and they’re chopping bits of him away, slowly but surely, because he’s got gangrene in his foot, “Just believe, and you’ll be fine. Your foot will grow back.” No! I can’t do that for a person. What can I give him? I can give him the theology of the cross. I can say, “You know, the logic of the cross is that we enter paradise, ultimately, through suffering. In order to reach paradise you’ve got to die and be resurrected, and that’s horrible and painful, but it faces us all at some point.”

The logic of the cross is this: Lord, remember me when you come into your kingdom. The second thief was the one guy that day who didn’t say, “Come down off the cross, and prove you’re the King of the Jews.” He effectively said, “Lord, I know you’re going to die, and through that you’re going to come into your kingdom. And when you get there, remember me.”

Being a theologian of the cross gives you something to say to real people who are suffering. To that person who is poor, and they don’t have many qualifications, and they’re living in bad housing, and they’re never going to live in anything but bad housing, what hope do you give that person? You give them the hope of the resurrection. Andy Stanley has nothing to say to those people. I don’t care if he pastors a church of a million people: he’s got nothing to say to them.

Fiery stuff. The review he’s referring to can be found here.

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