Andy Stanley is a prominent mega-church pastor, author, and the founder of North Point Ministries, a multi-campus church model based in Alpharetta, Georgia. He was born on May 16, 1958, and is the son of Charles Stanley, a well-known pastor and founder of In Touch Ministries who once served as the president of the Southern Baptist Convention (1984-1986).
He founded North Point Ministries in 1995, and under his leadership, the church has grown significantly and established multiple campuses in the Atlanta area. North Point Ministries is known for its innovative approach to ministry, utilizing technology and creative communication methods to reach a wider audience.
In recent days, Andy Stanley hosted a controversial conference, Unconditional Conference, with a stated purpose “for parents of LGBTQ+ children and for ministry leaders looking to discover ways to support parents and LGBTQ+ children in their churches.” This was Andy Stanley’s moment for clarity on revealing who he actually is to the watching world. He was successful in delivering that message—one that must be clearly noted.
Andy Stanley’s Problem with the Bible
The progression of Andy Stanley has not been a positive one throughout his ministry. He has been consistently left of center on really important doctrinal matters which has rightly caught the attention of conservative Christian thinkers and leaders.
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?
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.
In early 2015, Zondervan released a series of Bible study lessons by Andy Stanley titled Starting Point. You can see the first session on YouTube where he casts doubt upon the trustworthiness and reliability of the Bible in his opening statements. In fact, Andy Stanley went as far as to say, “We went off to college and discovered that even though it [the Bible] was sacred, it wasn’t scientific. Even though it was something to appreciate, it wasn’t necessarily something that was factual. Even though there were stories in here [the Bible] that were inspirational, they weren’t necessarily true.” Just like that, he casts doubt upon the reliability of sacred Scripture and points people away from God’s Word. Sound familiar? That’s precisely the method of Satan from the beginning.
In 2016, on Easter Sunday, Andy Stanley opened his sermon with a statement that was aimed mostly at the unbeliever. He said, “If you said to me one-on-one, ‘Andy, I’m not a Christian, I’m not a Jesus follower, but I’m going to let you take your best shot at convincing me to follow Jesus’ – Here’s what I wouldn’t do. I wouldn’t try to defend the history of the church, because the church has done some really goofy things and there’s some really embarrassing (not just weekends of church history) seasons of church history. And, I wouldn’t try to defend a lot of things that Christians have said or the ways that Christians have treated you….and I wouldn’t try to convince you with the Bible.”
Stanley went on to explain, “There were thousands and thousands and thousands of Christians before there was a Bible.” He then stated, “I would start with the resurrection of Jesus.” Why is it that Andy Stanley seems to distance himself from the Bible? From 1 Corinthians 15:3-4, Paul’s entire foundation of Christian hope in the resurrection is rooted and grounded in the Scriptures, but Stanley points people away from the Scriptures to the resurrection as if you can arrive at the empty tomb of Christ apart from the Bible.
This pattern continued in 2018 as Andy Stanley argued in a sermon that the Christian faith must be “unhitched” from the Old Testament. He said that “Peter, James, Paul elected to unhitch the Christian faith from their Jewish scriptures, and my friends, we must as well.” This is one more example of Stanley’s consistent pattern of casting doubt upon God’s Word. This is a devilish agenda and one that must be properly noted.
Andy Stanley’s Coming Out Moment
That brings us to the present controversy with the Unconditional Conference. Following the conference, Stanley preached a sermon that was not originally livestreamed. The audio was leaked out, but since then, the sermon is now available online. What Andy Stanley communicated to his church in his sermon is consistent with the conference he hosted where two “gay married men” were speakers—but his sermon is antithetical to God’s Word.
The point of Stanley’s “Unpublished Sermon” was built upon a false ethic of love. At one point in the opening words of his sermon while responding to criticism, he said, “That version of Christianity draws lines. Jesus drew circles.” It was clear from the beginning, what Stanley was doing was pointing people away from the biblical ethic of love which communicates truth. Andy Stanley points people away from the biblical teachings of Christianity to an ancient error of compromise and a sexual ethic that is driven by the winds of culture rather than words of Scripture.
The main outline of his sermon follows the following points:
- Honor God with your body.
- Do not be mastered by anything.
- Do not sexualize any relationship outside of marriage.
As you can imagine, this is how he comes to embrace the “two gay married men” in the recent conference. It’s that simple. They’re married. It’s not adultery. It’s not unlawful. How does Stanley avoid “You shall not lie with a male as with a woman; it is an abomination” (Leviticus 18:22)? It’s simple—you unhitch yourself from the Old Testament. This was Andy Stanley’s coming out moment. While this may seem new to people who are just now learning of Andy Stanley’s compromise, this has been his method for many years now.
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.
Is this new (ancient) sexual ethic permissible within Christian circles? Should we accept a category for gay Christianity? The answer is clear when we read the Scriptures. Jesus’ definition of marriage is a covenant relationship between a man and a woman (Matt. 19:3–6). The term for sexual immorality is taken from the Greek word porneia from where we derive our English word pornography. This word encompasses sexual activity outside of marriage and is condemned by Christ and the apostles in the New Testament.
In his letter to the church at Corinth, Paul explains (1 Corinthians 6:9–11):
Or do you not know that the unrighteous will not inherit the kingdom of God? Do not be deceived: neither the sexually immoral, nor idolaters, nor adulterers, nor men who practice homosexuality, nor thieves, nor the greedy, nor drunkards, nor revilers, nor swindlers will inherit the kingdom of God. And such were some of you. But you were washed, you were sanctified, you were justified in the name of the Lord Jesus Christ and by the Spirit of our God. (ESV)
The point is abundantly clear. As Paul addresses these believers, he said, “And such were some of you. But you were washed, you were sanctified, you were justified in the name of the Lord Jesus Christ and by the Spirit of our God.” That pattern of living was past tense. Some people in the Corinthian church had been characterized by a homosexual lifestyle in the past, but now they are walking in a path of godliness marked by sanctification of the Spirit. Paul drives home the point further by writing, “Flee from sexual immorality” (1 Cor 6:18).
When versions of “gay Christianity” creep into in the life of your local church, it must be clearly and directly addressed from Scripture. When we see this issue creep up in our church associations or denominations as is the case with the Presbyterian Church of America (PCA) in their debate over “Side B Gay Christianity” which was popularized by the Revoice Conference in 2018—it must be swiftly opposed. There is no such thing as gay Christianity. There is only one version of Christianity, and it’s clearly defined in the pages of Scripture.
Andy Stanley has officially come out of the closet. Not only should we flee sexual immorality, but we should flee from wolves who seek to destroy God’s sheep. It is a biblical and loving thing to mark out those who cause division and offenses contrary to the Word of God. It is a proper thing to name names and to warn people of wolves and false teachers who seek to destroy. Do not be led astray by Andy Stanley. He is a wolf who must be exposed not a pastor to follow. Remember the words of our Lord Jesus who said, “Beware of false prophets, who come to you in sheep’s clothing but inwardly are ravenous wolves” (Matt 7:15).
Consider making a year-end tax-deductible gift to our ministry, a decision that supports vital work and helps provide resources for Christians around the globe.