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Mere sponge cake

The problems with Stanleyism

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Marvin Olasky

Marvin is editor in chief of WORLD and dean of World Journalism Institute. He joined WORLD in 1992 and has also been a university professor and provost. He has written more than 20 books: His latest is Abortion at the Crossroads. Marvin resides with his wife, Susan, in Austin, Texas.



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Very well said. Willow Creek launched this 'it's all about me' sofistry 30 years ago. If pastors resist preaching about our depraved human condiditon no one will repent and trust Jesus. The law was given to convict the heart of sin (Ps 19:7) and confront us with our need for a Saviour. Accordinng to James 3:1 pastors who mislead by failing to preach the full counsel of God will be judged harshly. Even though I'm not a fan of Andy Stanley for reasons beyond excluding the teaching the forshadowing of Christ in the OT I have no joy in my heart saying so.


World magazine, through the years I've gained much from Marvin Olasky's insightful articles and comments, but I was surprised to read what he to say in his review of the book "Irresistible" by Andy Stanley. So before I present my review of his review let me say up front, Mr Olasky has an impressive background and intellect, is highly educated and dedicated to the cause of Christ.On the other hand I have a meager education, an undistinguished career and also care deeply about the cause of Christ. Marvin probably reads more books in a week than I do in a year, maybe five. But I can read, and I feel the book being discussded has been mischaracterized, in fact after reading his review, I was left wondering if we had read the same book! In the first paragraph Marvin begins with an incorrect assertion, that Pastor Stanley is saying we should "abandon the hard things in the bible and emphasize a smiling Jesus," Wow, did he read the whole book? It certainly appears that statements are 'cherry picked," taken out of context and given meaning Andy Stanley never intended. Which is exactly what the secular world does with the bible. I'm not one to write letters to the editor, but this review sure bit me, because as my wife and I have been reading it we want to tell others to read it. Andy does a great job of exposing the hypocrisy of the church in mixing and matching O.T. and N.T., a major focus off his book which Marvin conveniently omitted. Why is that?  If "Irresistible" is "Sponge Cake" then your critique is "Upside Down Cake."

Tim Bernethy



Brendan Bossard

Preaching the Bible is hard work.  Understanding it is harder.  I wonder whether people like Andy Stanley study their material with the proper oomph.


Apart from the OT nothing about Jesus, his person, work, sacrifice, and resurrection make any sense. I am thankful for the teachers who remain faithful to the entire Gospel, which includes the foundation laid in the OT.

Mark Ep

Truly, what Christians need to "unhitch" from are Stanley's questionable teachings.


Nine of the ten commandments are repeated in the New Testament.  The exception is the keeping of the Sabbath.  Very interesting that both circumcision and the Sabbath preceded the law, were incorporated into the law, and then we are specifically told that we are not to be judged about Sabbath keeping (Colossians 2:16)  or required to be circumcised, Acts 15.  Jesus used the OT to explain why it was necessary that the Messiah suffer, die, and rise.  The Old Testament sets the stage for the need of the New Testament.  Jesus tells us that man lives by EVERY word that proceeds out of the mouth of God, Matthew 4:4, and Proverbs 30:5 tells us that EVERY word of God is tested.  Thank you Marvin for the sad but necessary warning about the book by Andy Stanley.  Why hasn't his father Charles Stanley corrected his son on this?  Would he knowingly allow his son to write such things?  


Amen, Marvin.  Some churches are so focused on being seeker-friendly they have taken the focus off of God entirely.  We see in the Ten Commandments the very essence of our relationship with God and with others.  Jesus put it this way:

(Matt 22:34-40 ESV) 34 But when the Pharisees heard that he had silenced the Sadducees, they gathered together. 35 And one of them, a lawyer, asked him a question to test him. 36 “Teacher, which is the great commandment in the Law?” 37 And he said to him, “You shall love the Lord your God with all your heart and with all your soul and with all your mind. 38 This is the great and first commandment. 39 And a second is like it: You shall love your neighbor as yourself. 40 On these two commandments depend all the Law and the Prophets.”    (see also Deut 6:5 and Lev 19:18)

This pandering to seekers’ feelings only reinforces the notion that their feelings are the ultimate measure of all things.  I don’t know how you then get to the personal brokenness of a sinner standing before the God who is; a sinner in need of a Redeemer; a God and Redeemer worthy of all our focus and all our love.