As Christians, is it time we “unhitched” from the Old Testament? Do we need to focus more on the gospels and stop trying to interpret the Old Testament in a way that can apply to our modern lives?
That’s the subject addressed in a new episode of Premier Christian radio’s “Unbelievable,” with Pastor Andy Stanley and Pastor Jeff Durbin. Holding two very different views on the issue, the pair went head-to-head in order to try and eek out a clearer understanding on whether or not the Old Testament should be important to Christians in the 21st Century.
Much of the debate, in essence, comes down to whether or not you hold fast to scripture being “inerrant,” that is, containing zero errors, or whether you believe that much of the Bible can be open to varying interpretations.
‘Inspired and infallible word’
The resurrection, which Stanley argued should always be at the crux of the Christian faith, “is not dependent on inerrant scripture,” he said, but rather on a “historically reliable scripture.”
“I’ve been talking about this for many years, but I kept being misunderstood,” Stanley added. “My ideas are nothing new.”
“The Old Testament is at the beginning of our book, but it is at the back of our apologetic method,” Stanley continued. The problem is, “when we are children, they give us the whole thing, Old Testament, New Testament.. nobody tells us that ‘it’s arranged around covenants — it’s God’s holy inspired and infallible word — and, you know, to be careful in there.’”
All Andy was arguing for, he said, is a gospel-sharing approach that will meet atheists half-way in attempting to explain the Christian worldview and not isolate or ostracize those who have no faith.
Durbin, however, takes a slightly different view, arguing that we should not just tether our faith to the event of the resurrection, but to the whole counsel of the Lord found in the wide-spanning word of God.
The problem is when we “don’t believe the self-attesting word of God,” Durbin argued, noting that the “resurrection is not detached” from the Bible, but is instead prophesied about by Old Testament prophets.
“The Bible comes to us not in pieces but as an entire message,” Durbin declared, adding that Jesus often called out a pharisaical “twisting” of scriptures.
When Andy again emphasized the importance of those who attested to being witnesses to the resurrection, Durbin fired back with the fact that Jesus “chastized” them for not believing what the aforementioned prophets had said about Him.
“I don’t get the connection,” Stanley said, a little confused, before asking, “what is the foundation of your faith? why do you believe what you believe?”
“The word of the living God,” Durbin replied.
Stanley, to the contrary, would define himself as “Jesus first, Bible second.”
“I’m not discounting the Bible,” Stanley qualified. “I’m just saying the foundation of our faith is not a text, the foundation of our faith is the event.”
“The pressure is not on us to defend everything in the Bible,” Andy continued. “The issue is “who is Jesus?” That’s the most important question anybody can ever ask. Once that’s settled, honestly, I don’t care if they become Calvinist, Covenant of Dispensational.”
“I just want people to embrace Jesus.”
You can watch the full debate for yourself below: