The Table Podcast

The Relationship of the Old Testament to the New Testament

In this episode, Drs. Mark Yarbrough, Darrell L. Bock, Mark Bailey, and Pastor Andy Stanley discuss the relationship of the Old Testament to the New Testament, focusing on communicating biblical truth to a variety of audiences.

Timecodes
00:15
Yarbrough introduces Bock, Bailey, and Stanley
02:03
How does Acts 15 fit into Luke’s work as a whole?
05:48
What is the central issue in Acts 15?
10:50
How did Gentiles become Christians in the 1st Century?
18:14
Explaining Acts 15 to new believers today
21:39
Letting go of the old covenant and an improper view of the law
27:19
The role of the Old Testament in various evangelistic contexts
33:13
Understanding your audience when defending the faith
38:59
Talking about the Bible with skeptics and young believers
42:16
Contrasting the New Testament with the Old Testament
48:11
The relevance of the Old Testament for Christians
53:30
Reframing Christian terminology for a popular audience
Transcript
Mark Yarbrough
Welcome to the Table Podcast, where we discuss issues of God in culture. My name is Mark Yarbrough. I serve as the VP for academics and academic dean, teaching in the Bible exposition department.

And our topic today, here on the Table Podcast, is, broadly speaking, the relationship of the Old Testament to the New Testament. And we’re gonna break this up into three distinct categories. But that’ll be a great dialogue for us. It’s timelesls. It’s something we need to be thinking about on a regular basis.

And I’m joined here with three wonderful guests and friends. To my left is Dr. Mark Bailey. He serves as the president and senior professor of Bible exposition. It’s always good to have you involved in these discussions.

Mark Bailey
Great to be here.
Mark Yarbrough
To my right is Dr. Darrell Bock, the executive director of cultural engagement and research professor in New Testament studies. And I tell you what; it’s safe to say that, in this regard, the table has turned.
Darrell Bock
Correct.
Mark Yarbrough
You usually sit right here –
Darrell Bock
That’s right.
Mark Yarbrough
– and host and facilitate these discussions. But tonight –
Darrell Bock
And I’m at your right hand. [Laughs]
Mark Yarbrough
You are at my right hand, there you go.

We are also joined by Andy Stanley. Andy thank you for joining us.

Andy Stanley
Yeah.
Mark Yarbrough
Greatly appreciate that. He is live right now in Atlanta, Georgia. And many people know Andy, founder, if you will, of North Point Ministries. Andy, correct me if I’m wrong, but you are still pastoring and preaching at the Buckhead campus in Atlanta, is that correct?
Andy Stanley
That’s right; I’ve been there about a year.
Mark Yarbrough
An author and frequent conference speaker. And so, thanks for joining us. This is gonna be a great discussion today.
Andy Stanley
And Dallas grad, don’t forget that.
Mark Yarbrough
And a Dallas Theological Seminary graduate.
Andy Stanley
Yes.
Mark Yarbrough
That’s right, indeed. So, thanks for hopping in on this one today. We’ve got some fun things to talk about. And so, broadly speaking again, in the connections of the Old Testament to the New Testament, we’re actually gonna jump in into a topic into the New Testament – okay? – because this issue comes up. And it frequently surfaces in all sorts of discussions of theological dialogues.

It is an issue that seems to rear its head every so often in evangelism about showing the connectivity between the Old Testament and the New Testament. And so, Dr. Bock, you wrote a little pamphlet on the book of Acts.

Darrell Bock
A pamphlet is probably not the right word.
Mark Yarbrough
Was that good? It took you several years to write that pamphlet.
Darrell Bock
That’s exactly right.
Mark Yarbrough
But you wrote this commentary. So, I’m gonna come to you first on this question, because we’re gonna move into a dialogue that takes place in Acts chapter 15. But before we do, can you frame the book of Acts? Just a little answer. You know, just succinctly. But what’s the broad overview of the book of Acts, and how can we think about Acts chapter 15 fitting into the book as a whole?
Darrell Bock
Okay. Well, Acts is actually a second volume tied to the gospel of Luke. So, it’s Luke-Acts together. Together they constitute – Luke has written more of the New Testament than any other writer. Some people think that’s Paul, but it’s actually Luke – by a nose, but he makes it. And he is trying to explain how what appears to be a new religious movement is actually a quite old movement that in the ancient world, it wasn’t what was new that was important, but what had been time-tested, particularly when it comes to religion and that kind of thing.

Christianity appeared to be the new thing on the block, and it also had a surprising element to it, and that is that it was attempting to bring Jews and Gentiles together. That was controversial because of the history that existed between Jews and Gentiles and the need for reconciliation between those groups.

And so, Luke is really the story of how the gospel was intended to be for all people, and it was designed to be that way from the time God made His covenant commitments to Abraham.

Mark Yarbrough
Sure.
Darrell Bock
And so, this new thing is actually old. It goes back to the patriarchs, and he’s trying to show those connections and yet also trying to deal with the differences that this combining of these two ethnic groups brought to the program of God.

So, you’ve got continuity and discontinuity literally located in chairs next to one another, and theologians have wrestled with that dance –

Mark Bailey
Oh, yes.
Mark Yarbrough
Right.
Darrell Bock
– ever since the music started playing.
Mark Yarbrough
Yeah, the continuity and the discontinuity. Okay, well, now, take me further, then, into Acts 15. What is going on in Acts 15? How does that then fit into this question of continuity and discontinuity?
Darrell Bock
Well, Acts 15’s right in the middle of that transition. And what had happened, of course, is the gospel had gone out to Gentiles. And the question had become, “Do Gentiles in effect have to become Jews in order to become Christians?”

Now, I didn’t mean to confuse you there, but it’s – but that’s basically it. Do they have to engage in circumcision, which was the sign of the covenant commitment made to Abraham, in order to be Christians?

And, of course, what had happened with Cornelius was Peter had preached the gospel, and the Spirit had come down on them, indicating that God had accepted them without them having to have – having to have participated in circumcision.

So, when we get to Acts 15, and that gets explained, that actually becomes a key to how that situation is resolved. And the answer becomes, “Gentiles don’t have to become Jews and don’t have to connect to the Law at that point in order to receive the benefits that come through Jesus Christ.

Mark Yarbrough
Yeah, interesting way of phrasing that, “Do the Gentiles have to become Jews before they become Christians?” Andy, jump in on this one. What – you have done an awful lot of teaching and communication, in particular through the book of Acts and Acts 15. What do you understand, as you’re communicating this, is the central issue? And connect this from what you understand to be larger issues in Christianity.
Andy Stanley
Yeah, I think this is, in terms of just the local church, this is a passage of Scripture that I’ve never heard. I’m sure there are a lot of sermons on it, but generally, it’s an overview of Acts. But the decision and the implications of the decision that were made, I think, have specific and direct ramifications on the local church.

To begin with, I think – and you guys weigh on this – weigh in on this – I think it is impossible for us to understand the emotion of that meeting. That this group of people – and correct me if I’m wrong – but this is nineteen or twenty years after the resurrection. So, for 19 years or so, there has been this tension within the local church, and finally it’s come to a head.

So, this isn’t, you know, two weeks after the resurrection, “What are we gonna do?” This tension has been building and building and building, and now, as we’ve already talked about, you have many, many Gentiles who have embraced the faith and are now being asked to embrace not just circumcision, and not just the Law, but this is a way of life. This is – the old covenant is a worldview. It encompasses everything; it touches on everything.

And so, finally, after 20 years, the leaders of the Jerusalem church realize, really, how realistic is it for Gentiles not to simply be circumcised, but to – I mean as they’d – I guess it was Peter who said, “Guys, really, I mean it’s difficult enough for us to carry this. Do we really expect the Gentile world to basically relearn everything?”

So, my point being I don’t think – and we can fully appreciate the – I don’t know if “sacrifice” is the right word, but the concession that these Jews in Jerusalem, who have been brought up – for whom this was a way of life, the concession they made by saying, “You know what? We are going to essentially” – I don’t want to use the word “unhitch” ’cause nobody likes that word – “We’re essentially going to allow Gentiles to develop, in a sense, their own approach to faith and not require them to do what basically has characterized our lives forever.”

So, you know, in John 17, when Jesus prays for unity, this was an extraordinary, extraordinary step of unity. And we can get into this later, but when they write the letter to the Gentiles in Antioch, from a theological perspective, we get all tied up into what were those requirements.

And my point is they – this was not asking – this wasn’t about law keeping; this was about peace keeping. This was everybody’s got to make concessions. Because at the end of the day, we cannot have two churches. We can’t have the Jewish church and the Gentile church. So, whatever it takes, there needs to be one church.

This was an extraordinarily emotional meeting, and the decision they made, I don’t think we can even begin to comprehend just what a big day that was. And again, I tell the folks in our church, when I preach on this, “Hey, we are the folks in Antioch. Okay? We’re in Antioch waiting on their decision. Their decision impacted every single one of us who are Gentile believers.”

Darrell Bock
And I think it’s important to appreciate that this actually was a revisit of the question, that after Peter had been with Cornelius and stayed with Cornelius, initially there was a huge pushback in Acts 11 to say, “Peter, you did the wrong thing. You shouldn’t have stayed with them; this isn’t right.”

And he walked through – his response was basically, “Your complaint isn’t against me; your complaint is against what God did in our midst, as I was in the midst of preaching.” I like to tease people that when Peter was giving his speech, he never got a chance to warm up the organ and give the invitation because God acted before he was done.

Andy Stanley
I say the same thing. They hadn’t even hummed the first invitation hymn and the circumcised believers with him were – remember the word? – they were “astonished.” They were –
Darrell Bock
Right, that’s right.
Andy Stanley
They could not – this is a big deal. They could not begin to comprehend that God was doing for Gentiles what He had done – this wasn’t like, “Yeah, we saw this coming. Yeah, isn’t this great?” They were “astonished.” It was a very emotional issue.
Darrell Bock
And they were astonished because they were thinking Jewishly, and the Jewish thinking that was going on was, “There is no way the Spirit of God can indwell someone unless that person’s been cleansed.”
Andy Stanley
Yep.
Darrell Bock
And so, you know, when I read this passage, I go – you know, when they were astonished – I said, “Let me translate that for you, ‘[Gasp] Did you see that?'” And there are six witnesses there, not just two. So, everything that God is doing is designed to reinforce what’s taken place here. And that all happened outside of any activity of circumcision or anything else. Their mere faith in Christ had brought forgiveness and the cleansing that leads to the presence of the Spirit in the life and the new life that they had received through the gospel.
Mark Yarbrough
Yeah. Okay, so, if the question was do the Gentiles need to be circumcised – Mark we’re gonna come to you, okay? We’re going by first names, by the way – okay? – so, Mark, we’re coming to you – what was the solution to the problem, and why was it so astounding? We’re back in this issue of shock – shock and awe in the text – for the trajectory of the Church.
Mark Bailey
Sure. Well, I think the solution is twofold. One is the question had to be asked, “What does it take for a Gentile to become a believer?”
Mark Yarbrough
Right.
Mark Bailey
And the response of Peter, that’s followed up by James, is that it can’t be the Law because we can’t even keep the Law.
Mark Yarbrough
Right.
Mark Bailey
And so, that great verse that’s found in verse 11, “But we believe that we will be saved through the grace of the Lord Jesus, just as they will.”
Mark Yarbrough
Yeah.
Mark Bailey
And so, the issue of no, you don’t have to be Jewish to be a Christian.
Mark Yarbrough
Right.
Mark Bailey
Jews can be Christians, but you can be a Gentile and be a Christian without becoming Jewish.
Mark Yarbrough
Right.
Mark Bailey
And without keeping the Mosaic code, for which obviously there was a whole change that I think we often forget, that Hebrews talks about with the changing of the priesthood, there came a necessity of the changing of the Law. And as Andy said, it’s been a 20-year history from the event to the realization. Then Peter stumbles on it in Joppa. I love that Joppa is the place where a Jewish prophet struggled to take the gospel to the Gentiles in Jonah.
Mark Yarbrough
Yeah, right, right.
Mark Bailey
And now we’ve got a Jewish apostle who struggles to take the gospel to the Gentiles in Joppa again. So, Joppa, Joppa –
Mark Bailey
And the irony, I’ve never touched an unclean thing. And he’s sleeping at the house of a taxidermist – or maybe he’s not a taxidermist, but he’s a tanner at least. So, he’s dealing with – he’s touching dead animals –
Mark Yarbrough
Someone unclean, that’s for sure.
Mark Bailey
– all the time and doesn’t see the inconsistency of it. So, the fact that Peter is the one who ultimately stands up in Jerusalem means he’s starting to get it. He’s struggling with it, but he’s still starting to get it.

But in James – and the explanation of it comes, obviously, with James’ explanation, is this is in keeping with Old Testament prediction in the book of Amos that there would be – the gospel, you know, would affect Gentiles as well as Jews, and that there would be an outpouring of God’s people as He pulled the people for Himself, which that Law is the word that’s predominantly used for the chosen people. It now becomes a new people of God – you know, not that God has cast away the Jews, but He’d draw a people to Himself – He drew a people to Himself in the Old Testament; He’s drawing Gentiles to Himself as a part of this Church in the New Testament.

But, so, salvation was the one issue that had to be solved, but the second issue that comes up in the passage, which is that practical issue, is an issue of fellowship. How do we take Jews, with their background, Gentiles coming in from their background – how do they become unified in Christ through grace in the Lord Jesus Christ and faith in the Lord Jesus Christ? But now, how do they live together coming out of those backgrounds?

And I think the fellowship factor was – ironically, the things that are listed, the four counsel of, “Here’s what we would ask of the Gentiles,” I think is a consideration of living with liberty on the part of the Gentiles because the now are going to be in fellowship with Jewish people who have this Law steeped in their heritage.

And ironically, the four requirements really come out of Leviticus 17 and 18, which were the same things a Gentile had to observe if he came into the Jewish camp of the Old Testament by faith. He would have been asked to do those very same things.

So, in essence, the continuity of the Jewish community, these are things that some would call a moral and some would simply call ceremonial.

Mark Yarbrough
Right.
Mark Bailey
I’m not sure you can divide those two in the passage, but these were things that would be highly offensive for a Jewish congregation. It would be like going in today and, in essence, talking that there’s – you know, there was nothing to the Abrahamic covenant, there was nothing to the Mosaic covenant, those things weren’t important for life as a Jew. That would be highly offensive.

And so, I think what you have is a great sense of “deference,” if I could use that word, that Gentile believers ought to have, for their Jewish brethren, in these four areas, because that’s going to make fellowship at the table a much easier experience.

Mark Yarbrough
Right.
Mark Bailey
So, I think the issue of salvation was clarified, and I think the issue of deference for the purpose of fellowship – can I do something different so that Jew and Gentile can sit in the same body and have great fellowship. So, that’s how I see what those four requirements are.
Mark Yarbrough
Okay, okay. It’s crystal clear in the text obviously in regard to issues of salvation. Right?
Mark Bailey
Mm-hmm.
Mark Yarbrough
I mean Jew and Gentile, it is not in obedience to the Law; it is through Christ. Okay? Now, Darrell, you have taught a lot in this area. There are other views, and sometimes you’ll hear this circulate about what these things are. I’m not disagreeing with what you said, but what are some other dominant ways that people view these things? Of going, “Why these things?”
Darrell Bock
There are two other explanations besides Leviticus 17 and 18, which obviously is implied. Because some people make the observation Leviticus 17 and 18 don’t cover everything that’s listed here.
Mark Yarbrough
Yeah, this may not be a – this may be both/and here.
Darrell Bock
Exactly right.
Mark Yarbrough
There are multiple things that are being addressed.
Darrell Bock
And the fact is we don’t know exactly what these – what has triggered these four things other than many of them are associated with the types of things that would happen in pagan cults or that would happen in Greco-Roman associations, things tied to paganism and to pagan worship and to – into affirmation of the polytheism of the culture, that kind of thing.

So, there could be an undercurrent to this that says, you know, “Don’t do anything that associates directly with things associated with paganism.”

And a parallel to this is the discussion of meat offered to idols in 1 Corinthians 8 to 10, where you actually get four different solutions, depending on what you’re dealing with.

Mark Yarbrough
That’s right, exactly.
Darrell Bock
You’re free to buy meat in the market. M-kay? You don’t ask any questions. That’s in contrast to what happened in Judaism.
Mark Yarbrough
Right.
Darrell Bock
You don’t – you shouldn’t be in the temple to begin with, but should you go, you don’t eat anything sacrificed there. So, that’s not – something you’re not supposed to do. You’re free to eat meat offered at a meal at someone’s house unless or until someone says, “That’s been offered to an idol,” and then you go on what I call the “Christian diet.” [Laughs] You’re not allowed to follow through on that.

So, there’s a sensitivity about how – and this gets to the fellowship point, which is there’s a sensitivity about how Gentile table fellowship and their general response to paganism in general rubs off to the Jewish person with whom now they’re sharing fellowship.

There’s also a flip side to this that’s important, and that is, within Acts, we do see communities made up primarily of Jewish people who are still very Jewish in their practices so that – and in fact Paul, in numerous parts of his letters, say, “I don’t want you fighting over dates; I don’t want you fighting over food, those kinds of things, as long as someone isn’t trying to make someone else do something that they, in good conscience can’t do.”

Mark Yarbrough
Yeah.
Darrell Bock
And so, there’s this – as I said, there’s this dance between continuity and discontinuity in which the mistake is to lay down a law about how everyone’s supposed to behave in relationship to their own conscience, about how they live out their walk with God after they come to Christ.
Mark Yarbrough
Yeah, that’s helpful. Andy, let me come back to you. You do an awful lot of teaching and communication with individuals who didn’t grow up in the Church.
Andy Stanley
Right.
Mark Yarbrough
And so, when you’re communicating a passage like this, why is it important – why is this an important text to understand and embrace? And what are you – as you talk to people and you field questions and are engaging them, what are some of the complexities, things they’re wrestling with when they come to a passage like this?
Andy Stanley
Well, the people that I want to communicate with are not wrestling with a text like this. They’re not even reading a text like this.
Mark Yarbrough
Fair enough, fair enough.
Mark Yarbrough
You’re saying, “Welcome to the book of Acts,” yeah.
Andy Stanley
So, I am introducing them to these things for the very first time. And the way I preach and teach, especially when – well, really all the time – is I think – I try to think sequentially before I think theologically. And we all have a theological framework that we’re not going to be able to break out of.

In fact, that’s what’s happening in Acts 15. That’s what happens in Cornelius’ home. In fact, my favorite line when Peter – just to get off track for a second – when Peter goes into Cornelius’ home, he’s talking to all these Gentiles and says, “You know, before yesterday, I really considered all of you impure and unclean. But, you know, I’ve had a breakthrough.”

I mean the insult – I mean he insults everybody in the room and says, “This is my first time to ever be in a Gentile’s home.” So, think about where the Church was – again, 20 years after the resurrection there’s still a struggle.

But anyway, back to your point, I want people to understand these passages sequentially. And what I mean by that is that, as we’ve talked about already, there’s a story line going on here that began with Abraham, that I’m gonna bless the entire world through you, who becomes a family, that becomes a nation.

Mark Yarbrough
Right.
Andy Stanley
We have, now, a covenant with Mount Sinai, with a nation. That covenant is coming to an end. Jesus declares that he’s fulfilled it. And in Acts 15, it’s just one more narrative in a sequence of narratives that is opening the gospel to the entire world. And at Acts 15, the way I preach it is everybody is invited. Everybody’s invited. Everybody is included. It is a brand new day.

Jesus came to introduce something brand new to the world, a new movement in His Church, a new covenant, a new ethic, His new command. And consequently, hopefully we’ll get to later, a brand new apologetic for why we believe.

So, again, for me, this isn’t theological as much as it is sequential, and it represents an invitation to a group of people, 300 miles north, that are deciding, you know, “Can I really do this?” I mean, you know, if they hadn’t decided the way they decided, you know, the men would pull up on Sunday morning and say, “Honey, you and the kids run on in; I really gotta think about this because, you know, this is gonna require surgery.”

So, this was – again, this was a really, really big deal. So, you know, in a contemporary – or in any church in modern times, this chapter, Acts 15, it represents two big things; we’ve only touched on one. But what we’ve touched on so far, the doors were thrown open wide to the entire world. So, it’s a big deal, and it certainly has relevance to the modern church.

Mark Yarbrough
Yeah, and back on the words of continuity and discontinuity, brand new and yet very old. And we’ve got this tension here because – I mean, obviously, in terms of the fulfillment of promise, here we are, and Jesus is the Jewish Messiah. I knew you’re not disagreeing with that; I get that. But I’m saying it’s brand new and yet very old.
Darrell Bock
Andy, I want to ask you a question, and that is – you alluded to this earlier, that some people have given you a hard time ’cause you used the word “unhitched.” And I think the question I have for you is what you were really saying was – and if I’m putting words in your mouth, you can tell me I’m doing it –
Andy Stanley
You won’t be the first.
Mark Yarbrough
You mean it’s happened before?
Darrell Bock
Well, I’m glad you’ve welcomed me to the table.
Andy Stanley
Yeah.
Darrell Bock
Anyway, so, is – what you were really saying when you said “unhitched” is – the point is is that we aren’t living – we aren’t being asked to live under the old covenant anymore.
Andy Stanley
Correct.
Darrell Bock
And what’s associated with the old covenant. People heard you say “Old Testament” in the context of –
Andy Stanley
Well, I said Old Testament, and I – on the screen, you know, I live and die by people taking pictures of my screen.
Andy Stanley
I should have put “old covenant” instead of “Old Testament.” Bt the reason – and please don’t lose your question; I want to come back to this – the reason I did is – the point I was trying to make in that particular message, in that particular series that followed another series, all of which went together, but that’s a story for another day – is I want our church and our congregation to understand it’s not just the Law. There was a worldview, there was a perspective, there was an approach to life, and all of that was going away. And that we, as Christians, need to unhitch from all of that.

There’s a value system that’s associated with the old covenant that’s not so much stated as inferred. I mean it’s as simple as – I mean we know – in the Great Commission, Jesus said, “Not only are you to love your enemies, now we’re gonna leave our land, we’re gonna leave this piece of geography, and we’re gonna go out into all nations.

Well, you know, for about 20 years, they all pretty much stayed around home because, again, they’re not even willing to go into the home of a Gentile. How are they gonna fulfill the Great Commission?

So, there’s so much more that is illustrated in the narratives of the old covenant – or the Old Testament, I should say – that stem from the old covenant, but it’s broader than that. And my plan was to come back later and talk about that. In fact, in the message, I said, “Hey, we’ll come back and talk about that later,” talking to my congregation. ‘Cause I threw out a little bit of a teaser that became a bomb. So anyway –

Andy Stanley
And the other –
Andy Stanley
Yeah, go ahead.
Darrell Bock
So, let me follow up. So, what – let me tell you what I didn’t hear you say that I think you’ve been accused of saying. You weren’t saying, “Do away with Proverbs; do away with the Psalms; do away with the Prophets.”
Andy Stanley
Mm-mmm.
Darrell Bock
What you were saying is there was a certain attitude of life. And, of course, one of the things that makes this complicated is you not only had the worldview of the Old Testament, but you had the worldview that had grown out of the Old Testament that had become certain aspects of Judaism that Christianity also was challenging. And those things were kinda gotten mixed together in a completely different combination.
Andy Stanley
Well, if I could – if I can rephrase this –
Darrell Bock
Yeah.
Andy Stanley
There was an improper view of the Law –
Darrell Bock
Right.
Andy Stanley
– that they were combating in Acts chapter 15. So, when the statement is made that why put a yoke upon them that neither we nor our forefathers, that’s talking about there was some level of an improper view of the Law. Because if there was – if I can phrase it this way – an obedience-based perspective of the Law that brought you to a righteousness before God, there’s huge problems with that.
Darrell Bock
That’s right. And so, I think there’s something – what I heard you say, there’s something very specific about the Old – about what the –
Andy Stanley
Yeah.
Darrell Bock
– Old Testament generated among Jewish people that the Christianity was challenging.
Andy Stanley
Yes.
Darrell Bock
So that the challenge wasn’t directly against the Old Testament, but what at least a view of the Old Testament had generated.
Andy Stanley
Yes, but the new covenant stands in contrast to so much of the old covenant. I do think – I don’t think they conflict in a way that puts God at conflict with Himself, but that was then; this is now. That was for them; this is for the world.

So, I do think there was a – we gotta let go of, you know, not only the old covenant itself, but some of the things associated. I think we’re saying the same thing.

Darrell Bock
Yeah, we are. Because I think – I think what people heard – at least some people heard or misheard is that you were letting go the entirety of what’s in the Old Testament.
Andy Stanley
Yeah.
Darrell Bock
You definitely were not saying that.
Andy Stanley
Well, the reason this was not a dustup in our churches is because I preach from the Old Testament frequently. I just done a series on the life of David. Four weeks ago I did a message from the life of Joseph.

So, in our church, nobody heard me say we’re doing away with the Old Testament. And – but again, you know, people hear what they want to hear. So, thank you for that clarification.

Mark Yarbrough
That’s great. Great. Okay, so, we’ve just said a bunch of things, and we could have gone a lot of different directions with it, but Acts 15 is an important passage because, in many ways, it’s a watershed moment. We see the tension of Jew and Gentile. It’s great clarity on salvation is by grace through faith in Christ; we see that. That the statements that are made of things that the Gentiles should not do are probably based on two different issues out of the book of Leviticus; things that would be highly offensive.

Mark, as you talked about, there’s also – and other things of like, “Don’t go down that path again, you Gentiles, if that’s what you were associated, because salvation is by grace through faith in Christ.”

And so, we kinda have this picture, again, of a new era, but yet it’s a very old promise that is now being fulfilled in Christ. And so, we’ve got this tension, and that’s part – when we had that language of continuity and discontinuity.

Let’s move a different direction and talk about some of the contemporary challenges that the Old Testament poses for some Christians and for those that are questioning Christianity.

Andy, again I know you deal with an awful lot of people that this topic probably comes up or it surfaces.

Andy Stanley
Yeah.
Mark Yarbrough
So, when you think about that, of contemporary challenges, that the Old Testament in particular poses for either young, young Christians or for those that are just thinking about Christianity or looking at it, how would you kinda respond to that?
Andy Stanley
There’s two things. The challenge – again, don’t – I’m not thinking theologically for a minute; I’m just thinking purely about my audience – a skeptical audience – and honestly, a Jewish audience. We have so many Jewish people who come to our church, but they’re – they don’t believe – they don’t even read. They haven’t read; they don’t know much about their own Scripture because they don’t believe it’s true; they believe it’s a myth. They have a very secular – they have a very non-traditional Jewish, Orthodox Jewish view of their own Scripture.
So, this isn’t Gentile vs. Jew anymore. The challenge – the contemporary challenge is this
that the Old Testament is at the front of our book, but it is at the back of our apologetic method. So, what I mean by that is this

So, in fact, we know from Acts 10, Acts 15, and just the history between Gentiles and Jews that followed the first century, there was so much tension between the two, and continued to be for hundreds of years after that.

So, historically, it was Jesus first, Old Testament second. Logically, it’s Jesus first, Old Testament second. But for most Christians, that’s not how they’re presented Christianity. As children, we’re given the whole thing. We’re given a book where it said, “This is God’s Word. It’s God’s Holy Word. Don’t set your coffee cup on top of it. It’s all true.” And we agreed and believed it was all true before we read it, and probably the person who told us it was all true, they hadn’t read it either. So, we didn’t come to this sequentially, and we didn’t come to this logically or even historically. We came to it as children.

So, consequently, most Christians – because that’s their view, and they’ve never understood the relationship or the sequence between Jesus and the old covenant – that becomes problematic once they become adults. And then for people who were outside the faith, to frontload the gospel with Genesis through Malachi, to frontload the gospel with the creation story, it’s an insurmountable obstacle.

So, those are some of the challenges, and that affects the way I preach and teach. And my goal, especially for students – I’m not concerned about our faith or probably the faith of most of the folks who listen to this podcast – my concern is the next generation, and I want them to know that Christianity can stand on its own two nail-scarred, resurrection feet. And as terrible as this may sound, it doesn’t need to be propped up by the Old Testament.

Now, when I say that, people immediately begin quoting all the verses that Peter and Paul used to substantiate and to defend Christianity, which I totally understand. And that made perfect sense in their culture. It does not make as much sense in our culture.

Mark Yarbrough
Okay, wow. Let’s get some thoughts on that, because I mean, obviously, when you hear language like “propped up,” boy, there’s a lot of things that come to mind. Let’s chew on this one for a little while.
Andy Stanley
Like maybe not inviting me back to this conversation.
Darrell Bock
No.
Mark Yarbrough
That’s what we’re unpacking here.
Darrell Bock
Let’s go here, and I’m gonna ask you a question as well, again, what you’re not saying is is that the Old Testament is irrelevant to the story of Jesus.
Andy Stanley
Absolutely not.
Darrell Bock
And you’re not saying that the Old Testament is something that can be dispensed with. What you’re saying –
Andy Stanley
No.
Darrell Bock
– is is that that Christians need to make sense out of the Old Testament by making sense out of Jesus. And if you make sense out of Jesus, and you make sense out of the way the apostles use and appeal to the Old Testament, you will understand how the whole Bible fits together in a much more effective way than if you just try and defend the Old Testament on its own in such a way that it gets detached from what Jesus brings to that total picture.
Andy Stanley
Exactly. Why, you should come up after my sermons and explain what I’m trying to say. That was excellent.
Andy Stanley
But again – but again, I’m thinking – my audience I have in mind is a very – I’m not preaching to the choir. And I’ve been doing – I’ve been teaching and preaching this way consistently and intentionally for about nine years, and it makes a big difference. It removes – I mean my favorite verse – our marching orders are from Acts 15 – our churches – when James said, “We should not make it difficult for those who are turning to God. We should not make it difficult.”

So, I say to preachers and teachers and church leaders, “Come on, we should not make it difficult.” Now, we’re not – this isn’t about dumbing anything down or compromising, but let’s not create unnecessary obstacles. The only obstacle should be is Christ Jesus the Christ, the Son of the living God. Did He rise from the dead? And if He rose from the dead, game on.

You know, it’s interesting – I don’t know if I can find it now, but I wrote in my notes what the apostle Paul didn’t say. He did not say if there is no Old Testament, our preaching is useless and so is your faith. He said, “If there is no resurrection, then Jesus didn’t rise, and our preaching and teaching is useless.”

So, our faith rises and falls on the resurrection. But when a person comes to the conclusion that Jesus is the Son of God, then you trust everything He said, including what He said about the Law and the Prophets.

Darrell Bock
Yeah.
Andy Stanley
So, again, it’s sequential.
Darrell Bock
Yeah.
Mark Yarbrough
It’s interesting; let me jump in this, and I’m gonna come to you, ’cause we had a discussion about this a little bit when we were chatting on a whole different topic. But it is interesting because – here’s what I wrestle with a little bit, Andy, with what you’ve said in terms of the “propping up.” When I look at the New Testament as a whole, and you see the utilization of the Old Testament by the New Testament writers, they use that as a defense to establish their case on the continuity at a certain level.

You were talking, Mark, on the book of Romans in particular.

Mark Bailey
Right.
Mark Yarbrough
Your thoughts on that?
Mark Bailey
Yeah. I’m amazed – and, Andy, I hear what you’re saying; it goes back to an old conversation I had with the lordship salvation debate, where I ask James Montgomery Boice, “Does my four-year-old have to make Jesus Lord of His toys in order to become a Christian?”
Darrell Bock
Yeah.
Mark Bailey
And the conversation that pursued is if my four-year-old denied that Jesus was the Lord, that would be a disqualifying aspect to his faith. But the implications of obedience and lordship to receive Jesus as Savior is a conversation that probably continues to plague most of us in our maturity – of how obedient? Do I have to give up pride to be a Christian? Do I have to – can I not be pugnacious and be a Christian? And, “What sins do I have to give up in order to be a Christian,” becomes a big, loaded question.

At the same time, that simplicity of faith in Christ because of who He is based upon, obviously, the death and resurrection of Christ that proves who He is. I’m amazed that when Paul writes to the Romans, whom he has never been with, he is making case for the gospel with incredible amounts of quotations from the Old Testament to prove that it’s not ritual; it’s not Law. In other words, his – the whole argument of Romans, for getting to the message that is in Acts, is a message to a group of people in Rome.

And so, the issue of – I don’t understand how much they would have or would not have known about the Old Testament quotations in Rome. But it was a – it was a very critical part of his argumentation for the gospel. And so, I don’t think it’s an either/or. I mean I think it’s a both/and.

Andy Stanley
It depends on the audience.
Mark Bailey
And it depends on where the heart and mind of that audience –
Andy Stanley
It just depends on the audience.
Mark Bailey
Exactly. And so where is that person –
Andy Stanley
I mean go into your illustration about your child, a Jewish-Gentile mix, a purely secular audience. You know, my friend Frank Turek who goes onto college campuses and looks for the most skeptical people, it complete – I mean Peter’s presentation at Cornelius’ home was different than in Acts, when he walks into the streets of the city of Jerusalem and says, “Let me – this is what you all grew up knowing was eventually going to happen.”
Mark Bailey
Exactly
Andy Stanley
So, it is – it begins with knowing the audience. So, I don’t think we can find an approach, but I think, as communicators, we have to, again, know our audience and begin where people are. I think –
Mark Yarbrough
And totally – totally –
Andy Stanley
I’m sorry to interrupt, but that’s –
Mark Bailey
No, no, that’s exactly my point.
Mark Yarbrough
And totally different than Paul’s presentation in Athens that we have all used so many times.
Darrell Bock
That’s right. I like to say – you know, I do a lot of work on college campuses, and I give this advice when I’m on a college campus, which is do you want to debate inerrancy, or do you want to talk about Jesus?

And what I will say to college students is the person who – and I was an unbeliever; I came to faith in college. I did not grow up in a Christian home. I knew what an unbeliever does in deflecting the discussion of the gospel, ’cause I did it. M-kay?

So, whenever Jesus kinda got closer to my heart, before I came to faith, I would do things like, “Let’s talk about that African who’s never heard,” or, “Let me bring up the objections that I have about the Old Testament.” And the reason I was doing that is he was – that person was getting close to what I really needed to be thinking about, and I was getting nervous.

Mark Yarbrough
Need to deflect.
Darrell Bock
I needed to deflect. So, I threw it out like raw meat to the Christian, and the Christians, I found out, were very hungry people. They would chase the raw meat.
Mark Yarbrough
They jumped right on it, didn’t they?
Darrell Bock
Exactly right. I was off the hook. M-kay? And we were able to pursue this – what for me was a theoretical deflection.
Mark Yarbrough
Right.
Darrell Bock
And so, I think what I’m hearing you say is let’s keep the discussion in the right place. So, what I say to students is – someone produces their inerrancy list, why they object to inerrancy. And what you find is that lists more. They’ll bring up one thing, and you’ll answer that, and then they’ll bring up another, and there’ll be a new one. And then there’ll be a third one and a fourth, and you never get to Jesus.

I said, “Get the person to acknowledge this much, ‘Is the Bible trustworthy enough that we ought to at least look at the way in which it presents Jesus?'” If I get a yes to that question – okay? – they aren’t signing onto inerrancy, but they’re signing on to respect – a level of respect for Scripture, now I can talk about Jesus. And the way I’m gonna get ’em to the Bible is by getting ’em to Jesus.

Andy Stanley
Exactly.
Darrell Bock
Okay? So, that’s just an apologetic strategy; that’s not a – that is not a theological –
Andy Stanley
It’s not theology.
Darrell Bock
It’s not a theological denial of Scripture.
Andy Stanley
Thank you.
Darrell Bock
And so, I think helping people see that tactically, if I can say it that way, is an important way to talk about I guess. Unfortunately, our environment is so polemicized right now, that that gets heard as theology rather than as an apologetic tactic.
Andy Stanley
I say, all the time, what I’m talking about is an approach. It has nothing to do with how a person views the Scripture, has nothing to do with which system of theology you embrace. This is 100 percent approach to how to talk about the Bible and Scripture, and Jesus specifically, to skeptical people.

And here’s the thing I want to throw in; this is so important. This isn’t just about skeptics and nonbelievers. Most believers – most believers in our seats and pews have a very fragile faith. It’s so fragile they are afraid to look at certain parts of the Scripture. They are afraid to have to address certain questions.

Mark Yarbrough
That’s right.
Andy Stanley
Their kids come home from college, and their Sunday school faith is just rattled. So, what I have found, having done this for a lot of years now, is that not only does this give us better answers outside the church, it does a great deal to strength the faith of the people inside the church to say, “I have some great news. Your faith does not rise and fall by your ability to prove that the Scripture is all true, inspired, or inerrant. All I need are two gospels and 1 Corinthians, and we’re at the resurrection. And if Jesus rose from the dead, game on; that’s all we need.
Darrell Bock
Yeah, there’s one other thing that’s important here, and that is for some people, for some believers who hold what we might call a more presuppositionalist approach to Scripture, they see any attempt to put the Scripture to the side, in one sense, as a rejection of what Scripture is and as an affront to what Scripture is.
Andy Stanley
Right.
Darrell Bock
That I get. I understand that, but that doesn’t help with the reality that when I’m talking to a person for whom the Scripture means nothing – I mean they don’t – it isn’t the inspired Word of God; in fact, everything that the culture has told them is this is an old book of all kinds of things that you shouldn’t take seriously.
Andy Stanley
Right.
Darrell Bock
When I’m trying to get them to just get to the level of respect for what it is we’re talking about and where the material is coming from, I’m actually moving them in a positive direction, even though it is far short of not only a presuppositionalist theology, but my own theology as well.
Andy Stanley
But, you know, Dr. Bock, isn’t it true that’s exactly what happened historically? Because historically, when Jesus was buried, it was game over. Nobody’s outside the tomb on Easter morning, counting down backwards from ten.
Darrell Bock
That’s right.
Andy Stanley
Two different parties decided to embalm that body. They expected Him to do exactly what dead people do: stay dead. And what began our faith was an event. And the event is where we have to focus people’s attention, and that’s why I say all the time, if a person can predict their own death and resurrection and pull it off, we should just go with whatever that person says. It is that simple.
Darrell Bock
The way I like to say it is is that the resurrection was God’s vote in the dispute about who Jesus is. That if you want to know who Jesus is – m-kay? – if He were lying there in the tomb, that would be one vote. But the fact that He was raised from the dead and seated at the right hand of God, and that God did it – ’cause He was the one who raised Jesus from the dead; the Father did it – that shows what God thinks of this dispute, and that’s a dispute that runs through every theological discussion we have about who Jesus is.
Mark Yarbrough
Back on a – on the bigger theological topic that is actually underneath all of this, and that’s the connection of the Old Testament and the New Testament, what are some of the fundamental changes between the Old Testament and the New Testament? And in many ways, what has the Church believed about unity and diversity in this?

Mark, let me come to you and – what thoughts do you have on that?

Mark Bailey
You bet. As I – I think two central passages that show both continuity and contrast – and in times more contrast than continuity –
Mark Yarbrough
Right.
Mark Bailey
– and it depends on which passage you’re in and what the issue was – but Galatians 3 and 2 Corinthians 3 are two passages – and when Paul, a Jew, arguing for the Corinthians, as the change that took place under Moses, as under the Spirit – the Law and the Spirit contrast in 2 Corinthians 3 – he said there was a period of time in which there was great glory. I mean lightning – talk about a sound and light show at Sinai; you had the ultimate Fourth of July kinda celebration when the Law came. And he said compared to the Spirit, that has no glory at all.

In other words, it is a diminishing glory. And he actually uses the dimmer board experience – I call it the dimmer board experience of Moses coming off the mountain. As it gets dimmer, he’s going, “Hide your face, Moses; it’s looking bad.” And that gets transferred as an imagery of what I call the big step up. And it’s the continuity, but it’s the discontinuity.

The Old Testament was great. I use the illustration that when my kids told us they were going to have a baby, they brought us a little set of booties. Those pink booties told us something’s coming.

Darrell Bock
Right.
Mark Bailey
About 11 weeks later, we got a sonogram. Once I saw the sonogram and I saw Fiona, my granddaughter, in the womb, upside down in the supine position with her little pug nose, the booties didn’t make a bit of difference anymore. But when she was born on July – I mean on June 4 in that year, I haven’t hardly looked at the sonogram except to make a sermon illustration.
Mark Bailey
Now that she’s 14 and comes running across the church, even as a young teenager, and puts her arms around me and calls me Baba, a sonogram doesn’t mean a bit of thing, and I haven’t pulled out the baby pictures for a long time.
Mark Yarbrough
And you don’t even know where the booties are.
Mark Bailey
And I don’t know where the booties are, yeah. Barbie has the booties. My point is, in its time, the Law was good; it was perfect; it was righteous. It had everything God wanted it to have at that point. But when you make them move from Law to grace – the Law came through Moses – grace and truth.
Mark Yarbrough
Right.
Mark Bailey
So, you have a contrast – promise and fulfillment; the story of Israel vs. the story of the Church. The Law came through Moses; grace and truth through Jesus Christ. A nation centralized vs. nations as goal. You’ve got great contrast between the old covenant and the new covenant, the Old Testament and the New Testament.

But when Paul says, “It has no glory in comparison, that’s a major contrast. But it’s still continuity. It’s a continuity because all of that prophecy that was fulfilled in Christ, the Abrahamic covenant, the blessing of the world – from the beginning, God had a vision for the world.

So, the New Testament is not a contradiction, as Andy said. It’s not contradictory; it’s not antithetical. It’s just preparatory to, and that’s the sequence issue that’s so important is that booties have their place, but they don’t compare to a hug.

Darrell Bock
And the 1 Corinthians 3 passage, of course – we’re back to the discussion we had earlier, which is that’s about the old covenant. That’s about what Galatians 3 calls the pedagogue.
Mark Bailey
Right.
Mark Yarbrough
Right.
Darrell Bock
And so – and yet there are other passages in the New Testament that say the Old Testament is wonderful for giving us an example of how we walk with God. When the text – the famous text on inspiration in 2 Timothy 3 is cited, “All Scripture’s inspired,” what’s probably in view there is the Hebrew Scripture.
Mark Bailey
A lot of the Prophets and the writings.
Darrell Bock
Exactly right. Now, the implication of that is anything that counts for inspiration has this character to it. But the primary reference is what we would call the Old Testament. And so, there is this value that we don’t want to lose about what the Old Testament is, even as we recognize that we now have access to things and benefits that it was talking about, that the people who lived then longed for.
Mark Bailey
Right.
Darrell Bock
But now we get to participate in at least in an initial kind of way.
Mark Bailey
And I think, going back to the two passages – the Corinthians or the Galatians passage, in essence, if the Law could have done it, then Christ would not have had to die. And so, that whole issue of the Law could not do what only God and Christ and the Spirit could do. So, you have the – at the same time, you walk by the Spirit, you fulfill the Law.

And so, the intent of the Law was a godly life with God. There’s nothing wrong with that, never was anything wrong with that. But part of it, as Paul says to Timothy, in 1 Timothy 1, the function of the Law has a – there’s a righteous function of the Law that is, basically, if I could say it, it’s not for your salvation; it’s to expose sin. And it’s for the lawless, the ungodly, because it’s the Galatians thing. It led you to the Law was given because of transgression to lead you to Christ.

Darrell Bock
What’s interesting about Romans 4 is is that Romans 4 reminds us that it was always that way, that there always was a Word of God that was to be believed that led to the declaration that this person is righteous and that part of what happened in the period where the Law became so central was is that the Law moved into a position for some people that it actually was never designed to have.
Mark Bailey
Right, right.
Mark Yarbrough
Then, Andy, let me start with you, and then you guys weigh in on this. Okay? Then how would we summarize this and say, then, what’s the relevance of the Old Testament today. Let’s start with you, Andy, and then we’ll come back.
Andy Stanley
I go with what Paul said. It points to Jesus, 1 Corinthians 6. I think it’s 1 Corinthians 10. It serves as an example. Romans 15, it teaches us encouragement and endurance. But the apostle Paul does not set his application ball on an old covenant tee. The thing that motivates Christians or the inspiration behind our behavior is just as God in Christ did for us.

In Ephesians 5, “Submit to one another out of reverence to Christ,” that our application is taken from, Jesus’ new covenant, new command to “Love as I have loved you.” So, the Old Testament is inspiration; it’s principles; it’s not application – again, it’s stories of endurance, as the apostle Paul says. It’s examples.

And, you know, the apostle Paul, in 2 Timothy 3
16, when people quote that verse to me, they always say, “The Bible says” – and I say, “No, Paul said it. And if you want to know what somebody means by what they said, look at what else they said, and look at what else they do.”

And the apostle Paul is very consistent about how he appropriates and leverages old covenant and Old Testament narrative and content as it relates to the life of the believer. So, I think, you know, he sets the pattern and the example for us.

And here’s another – maybe another topic for another day. But I can’t get – I can’t get over the fact – again, thinking sequentially – that the apostle Paul pivoted, in one afternoon – I mean he was the Pharisee of Pharisees who was gonna stamp out the existence of the way, and in the course of one afternoon, he pivots from, you know, the all-star Law keeper to someone who very quickly embraced a completely different worldview and a different approach to faith.

And he’s the one who think we should pay closest attention to because he was at the epicenter of the transition post-resurrection. So, I think he gives us our clearest picture of how new covenant people should appropriate and consider the old covenant.

Mark Yarbrough
Relevance of the Old Testament.
Mark Bailey
Yeah, I think that you get both negative and positive. He says these words – he says, “These things were written for our example, that we should not turn our hearts to evil like they did.”

So, I would probably broaden the issue of application. I would distinguish what I think Andy’s saying by application is precept. In other words, you know, in Law, from that standpoint. Obviously, it has application by principle to us.

The other is the positive written for our admonition, for our instruction. And so, it’s a great tool to instruct us – if I could say it – in the worldview of God that would take us from creation to consummation, but it would say, “How did God choose a people to bring us the Messiah to reach the rest of the world.

And so, I think the continuity aspects of all of that fits the contrast. In other words, the contrast of no glory vs. total glory is in keeping with – and I – doesn’t he – he doesn’t destroy the staircase; he just takes a big step up. So, he didn’t wipe out the first step of value.

Mark Yarbrough
We’re not losing the promise.
Mark Bailey
We haven’t lost the ladder; we still have both rungs. But we’re not on the first rung by any means.
Mark Yarbrough
Your final thoughts on relevancy of the Old Testament today?
Darrell Bock
Well, I think you need to distinguish between the Old Testament when it functions in relationship to promise, which ties us to the Messiah and the covenants, et cetera, which, of course, is what we’re experiencing right now, in an initial kind of way, and thinking about the Old Testament when it relates to precepts: the 613 commands of the Torah as it’s traditionally said, in which case those things are enlightening to us about the things that God cares about and the kind of distinctive lifestyle that He asked of people in Israel in contrast to the nations at the time.

But they didn’t transfer over to us. They illustrate and give examples, but they don’t – we shouldn’t treat them as the Law in the sense that we tend to think about it, even though we can learn from it.

And now, you know, the interesting thing is – the passage that keeps echoing in my head is, “Love God with all your heart, mind, soul, and strength; love your neighbor as yourself. In this is summarized all the Law.” And I’m going, “Now, that is a –”

Mark Bailey
What was the intent?
Darrell Bock
“– a hook to hang onto.” That I can ask myself, “How am I relating to God, and how am I relating to others?”

The Ten Commandments work the same way. Table one is about my relationship to God. Table two is about my relationship with others. And when I do that, I’ve got an ethical center that’s driving through the whole of Scripture that I can unify and rally around because that’s where Jesus is taking me. Jesus is taking me to a faithful walk with God that allows me to interact with other people in healthy ways. And that the Scripture defines as life.

Mark Yarbrough
Great discussion. And that’s – this is tough. I mean using consistent language to display continuity and discontinuity, Old Testament and New Testament, because – praise the Lord – some things have changed, right? – but that promise fulfilled in Jesus.

Okay, let’s talk about, then, language and how we communicate this entire topic – Old Testament and New Testament – to the unchurched, people that haven’t grown up, you know, like me, in front of the flannel graph, learning every story under the sun in the Bible. And I’m thankful for that.

So, I don’t view that as a disparaging mark. But I grew up in a wonderful home, heard the text, had it modeled out. Everything that you just described in one of the other sessions, Andy, that was my life.

Andy Stanley
Mm-hmm.
Mark Yarbrough
But that’s not the era, generally speaking, for a lot of folks that we work with today. I can see it here; even, at Dallas Seminary it’s different. We have individuals that are here studying with hearts right, passionate; they did not grow up in that environment. They’ve been believers for a couple of years, and they’re putting all these puzzle pieces together right now. And we’re helping them with that, and that’s a privilege for us to be involved in that.

But, Andy, as you’ve been thinking through this in language, and with sermons series and lessons and books and things like that, this has been a topic of yours for quite some time, to think strategically about the words that we use talking to that audience in particular.

Andy Stanley
Right.
Mark Yarbrough
So, there have been a variety of statements that have been pointed towards you if people aren’t what I would say listening to what it is that you’re attempting to say. We can all improve in our words, I get all that. You know, that’s true of every one of us. Okay?

But how would you respond to those who say that they don’t understand what you’re talking about – okay? – and what it is you’re trying to get us to think about – preachers, in particular, and pastors that communicate. And unfortunately, as you know, some have accused you of leaning towards Marcionism or being anti-Semitic because of the language you’re trying to use as it references the Old Testament.

And you used it, a minute ago, of saying, “Okay, great. I’m not gonna use the word ‘unhitched’ because that – maybe people have surfaced some really good things for us to think about of the language that we use.” But in that big, giant topic, how would you respond to all of that in that is we’re thinking about language.

Andy Stanley
Are you talking specifically about how I’d talk to my audience?
Mark Yarbrough
I’m talking about two things, I guess. Number one, how you talk to your audience – okay? – and number two, for those that make these swooping accusations towards you about these things. So, those two separate topics, I’m merging them together there.
Andy Stanley
Well, the big accusations come from people who have – who think theologically, and they cannot for the life of themselves apparent – they can’t seem to think sequentially, and they don’t understand that I’m not even talking about theology.

I’m talking about an approach to how we talk about the Scripture to people who are outside the faith, but people who don’t – it’s not the people who don’t have an opinion about faith; we live in a post-Christian culture, as if anybody needs to say that anymore. Right?

Mark Yarbrough
Right.
Andy Stanley
So, everybody has an informed opinion about the Bible already. Nobody comes with a blank slate. So, how do you begin that conversation?

So, I’m just trying to give people handles – pastors and teachers specifically – how do you – you know, what are the handles to begin that conversation and keep people in the conversation? Because the challenge for us is not what the Bible says; it is what else the Bible says.

And here’s something I just don’t think the evangelical community and leaders especially have come to grips with
a person can find out what’s in the Bible without ever reading it, holding it, owning one, or seeing one.

Once upon a time, you at least had to find one to discover what’s in it, and it took forever to read it, and you had to really be diligent to find all the parts that are so difficult, you know, to deal with. Not anymore; it’s just a few clicks and it’s all there in front of us.

So, consequently, we have to step back, we have to think sequentially, and we have to think contextually. And so, those are the – those are my presuppositions; those are my assumptions when I come to the text and stand up to teach the Scripture. I don’t know if that answered your question or not.

Mark Yarbrough
No, it does; that’s very helpful. Get specific on why do you think people – in regard, obviously, when you even bring up the word “Marcionism,” I mean that’s a –
Andy Stanley
Oh, yeah.
Mark Yarbrough
– a high-end, loaded, technical term out of Church history, and it means a very specific thing. Sometimes it’s slung around when I think – when we’re talking to somebody because we’re disagreeing with what they said or were confused about what they’re saying, or even the issue of the seabed of anti-Semitism because of maybe some of the language that you used in regard to the Old Testament.

How would you – what would you say to both of those issues if people made that accusation towards you?

Andy Stanley
Well, people who listen to me preach consistently know those things never pass – go through their mind because it’s so inconsistent with how I consistently preach and teach. The people who’ve been critical of me drop into a message, and they pull it out of context.

But the broader conversation is they have a different theological framework, and they are afraid that I’m leading evangelicalism, you know, in some dangerous direction at which, for the life of me, I can’t quite figure that out. But they have a different worldview. They are presuppositionalists for the most part. So, they begin with the Bible’s inerrancy; the Word of God, let’s begin there.

That’s just not where I begin because I’m talking to people who that’s a nonstarter. So, why would I – you know, why would I begin the conversation there?

The whole anti-Semitic thing, that is so incredibly bizarre because if – you know, kudos to the Dallas Theological Seminary – people who think dispensationally, if – let me put it this way – if the early Church had taken the Jerusalem Council’s advice – and by the early Church, I mean the Church fathers and those that followed – if that group of people had taken Jesus’ advice about what He said about the Law and the Prophets, if that group of people had taken what the apostle Paul taught seriously, they would have left the old covenant where it needed to be left with it as in terms of something that points to Jesus, it’s inspiring, but it’s not our marching orders.

Because the strange thing is – and push back on this if you disagree, the roots of anti-Semitism come from the Church baptizing, Christianizing, and allegorizing the Old Testament and bringing it into the Church inappropriately because that’s where they found the grit and the tension, and that’s where they found the fertile soil for persecuting people who didn’t follow Jesus.

It was the stories of the Old Testament that, within their original context make perfect sense dispensationally, but you bring that narrative into the Church, and, you know, consequently, even in the Reformation, you know, both sides went to war with each other in Jesus’ name.

So, I think, you know, a lot of this is just stirred up by some really bad theologies, some bad theological systems, and some people who just, for whatever reason, don’t like me.

Darrell Bock
I see two – I see two things here. There is a kind of anti-Semitism that pops up – and I workforce in messianic ministries – so, that is involved when the Church becomes so detached from its Jewish background that it ceases to see what the Jewish background contributes to the understanding of even what we get in the New Testament.

So, there is another way that that can flip. And actually, I think some of the people who have accused you of Anti-Semitism, are fearing that that’s where some of your rhetoric is going. I don’t read it that way, but I think that’s part of what may be motivating it. But I want you to explain what you mean when you say, “I don’t talk theologically.”

‘Cause I can hear someone listening to this and going, “You never not talk theologically.”

Andy Stanley
Not talk – right.
Darrell Bock
You know? You’re – everything that you say has a –
Mark Yarbrough
And you said that a minute ago.
Darrell Bock
Yeah, but I want you to address that directly, ’cause I think that’s an important – and I want – you need to define what you mean by this.
Andy Stanley
My – what I mean by that, and you’re exactly right – I don’t assume a theological system on behalf of my audience. I don’t assume biblical literacy on behalf of my audience.

I try, to the best of my ability, to teach, again sequentially, that once upon a time there were two groups of people who both held to the Law and the Prophets. One persecuted one, and the other went on to say that a man arose from the dead and fulfilled that very same old covenant. They all believe basically the same thing about the Law and the Prophets.

But then there was an event – an event in history that launched a movement that we now call the Church. And it’s – that’s at the epicenter of what we believe and why we believe what we believe. And if a person will embrace that Jesus is the risen Lord and risen Messiah, whatever theological system they want to develop from there going forward, I’m fine, because I am trying to stay on the frontlines of people who have walked away from faith or who are considering faith, or who are in the Church and are reaching for the door to leave the faith.

Darrell Bock
Mmm.
Andy Stanley
Does that help?
Darrell Bock
Yeah, it does, ’cause I think that – I think sometimes what people translate – you know, “I’m not talking theologically” – is is that somehow theology isn’t relevant. It is –
Andy Stanley
Oh, no, no, no, no. I meant more in terms of a theological system. You know, there’s three theological systems. This is the one that I’m trying to make a case from or make a case for. I don’t intentionally do that, although, you know, I’m sure, at times, it happens.
Mark Yarbrough
Sure, very helpful. Hey, what intentional decisions should we make in the way that we communicate in order to bridge the gap between Christian terminology and many who are unfamiliar with it?

Darrell, let me start with you. And Dr. Bailey, if you want to jump in on that –

Darrell Bock
I actually talk about in – I talk about this a lot in cultural engagement. And I say, “We speak a foreign language to most people. They have no idea what our technical terminology means or even how to connect to it.

Let me pick one that is almost sacred, the term “sin.” M-kay? Now actually, a lot of people outside the Church know what sin is. And whenever they hear it, they don’t hear “sin,” they hear “SIN!” And phaser shields go up. You know? They’re immediately put on the defensive.

And so, here’s how I try and tackle that. I try and – I’ll talk to someone, and I’ll talk about dysfunction. And I’ll say, “Is your life dysfunctional?” I might actually get a confession to that question. And then I might even push and say, “And do you contribute to that dysfunction?” And I might even get a confession there. Okay?

And then I’ll turn around and you say, “You know what the Bible calls that? The Bible calls that sin.” And now we’re into a discussion in which someone has already come down the road with me a certain distance, and we have a different kind of discussion because I’ve now put this in language that they can begin to get, and I can work on defining even more precisely.

Mark Yarbrough
Sure.
Darrell Bock
And so, there’s a lot of translation work that goes in culturally engaging someone who’s outside the Church. I know that because, as I said earlier, I came to the Church from outside the Church, and I know what the culture taught me about Christianity.

And I often say to believers who’ve grown up in a Christian home, “If you never darken the door of a church, and your definition of Christianity comes from what you’ve heard in the general culture, how does that make you feel as someone who’s a Christian?”

The answer is, “Not very good, ’cause the chances are they aren’t gonna get it right.”

So, there’s a lot – there’s a lot of static that’s gotta be dealt with as you are interacting with someone who’s completely outside the faith.

So, when I hear Andy, you know, wrestle with that reality, I’m sitting here going, “He’s wrestling with something that’s very, very real and that gets in the way of our communication because we use words that we understand, but we throw ’em at people for whom they have little or no meaning or a misunderstanding. And that doesn’t help them with regard to actually what we’re trying to do.”

Mark Yarbrough
Yeah, yeah.
Andy Stanley
What you’re saying is so important. And again, I – as a pastor, I would say I have to – I don’t have to, ’cause a lot of pastors don’t – but I begin with people, not theology, in terms of – again, I have the theological system, but if you begin with people, language becomes a much easier thing.

And Dr. Bock, you just said it, you’re looking at a person who knows you’re trying to communicate to a person, not make a point. You’re trying to communicate to a person, not use theological language. When you begin with people, I think our language – and if you care about people, and you’re not simply trying to make a point, you really are trying to make a difference, I think we can figure out the language – and again, because we care about people.

It’s like with your children, you just figure it out because you love your children. So, again, what you said, Dr. Bailey, once you had an actual family situation with an actual person in the room, it just changes everything. And it should change everything.

Darrell Bock
Yeah, and in fact, when we talk about this in cultural engagement, I talk about how believers, when they get to know people who are very different themselves, the first thing they need to do is just pay attention to James 1:19, which is, “Be slow to speak, quick to hear, and quick to listen.”

And I say it’s really important to get a spiritual GPS on a person, to just let them tell their story, share their life. And what you’re listening for is what’s driving them, what influences them? And I tell them, “Mute your theological and heretical meter. Just mute it. You can’t shut it off, but mute it.”

Pay attention. Save some of the stuff that you hear, but don’t get in the mode that we often get into of, “The moment I hear something that’s theologically wrong, I’m gonna jump on it and correct.” Because what you want to do is you want to get to know the person; you want to get them to trust you.

And in the midst of that, you’re asking, “How does the gospel speak into where this person is?” Not the theoretics about where they fall in the grid, but just where they’re coming from. And I find that the gospel’s able to speak into where most people are, but you have to – you have to determine where that is. And getting a spiritual GPS, which requires listening – it requires not being engaged in the conversation, engaged in a debate – it requires muting that meter for a while.

There’s gonna come a time for challenge, ’cause the gospel challenges everybody. But you want to step into it kinda knowing where you’re going. And so, that is relating to someone, and caring about them, and hearing their story, and finding out what motivates them, finding out if they’ve had a negative experience with the Church in the past, which is worth knowing before you talk about the Church, that kind of thing. All that’s very, very important, it seems to me, in how we engage.

Mark Yarbrough
And then when you do step in, to step in with the right tone.
Darrell Bock
That’s exactly right.
Mark Yarbrough
That’s a whole other topic that we can speak at on another topic.

Well, guys, this has been a great discussion. I greatly appreciate it. So, Dr. Bailey, Dr. Bock, Pastor Andy, we appreciate you joining the dialogue.

Andy Stanley
Yeah.
Mark Yarbrough
And may the Lord help us all as we continue on this critical topic and all three areas that we’ve talked about here, and to think strategically about our words and how we talk about the Old Testament, the New Testament, and to exalt our Savior. So, greatly appreciate it, guys, thank you.
Mark Bailey
Thank you.
Darrell Bock
Thank you.
Andy Stanley
Thank you.
Mark Yarbrough
Thanks, Andy.
Read More
Andy Stanley
Communicator, author, and pastor, Andy Stanley founded Atlanta-based North Point Ministries, comprised of six churches in the Atlanta area and a network of more than 70 churches around the globe. A survey of U.S. pastors in Outreach Magazine identified Andy Stanley as one of the top 10 most influential living pastors in America. Andy holds a master’s degree from Dallas Theological Seminary.
Darrell L. Bock
Dr. Bock is senior research professor of New Testament and executive director for cultural engagement at Dallas Theological Seminary. He has authored or edited more than forty books, including Jesus according to Scripture: Restoring the Portrait from the Gospels, Jesus in Context: Background Readings for Gospel Study, Studying the Historical Jesus: A Guide to Sources and Methods, Jesus the Messiah: Tracing the Promises, Expectations, and Coming of Israel’s King, Who Is Jesus?: Linking the Historical Jesus with the Christ of Faith, and Key Events in the Life of the Historical Jesus: A Collaborative Exploration of Context and Coherence.
Mark L. Bailey
Dr. Bailey assumed the Seminary’s presidency after years of service as both a professor in the Bible Exposition department and as the Vice President for Academic Affairs. In addition to his years at Dallas Seminary, he has pastored various churches in Arizona and Texas. He was a seminar instructor for Walk Thru the Bible Ministries for twenty years and is in demand for Bible conferences and other preaching engagements. His overseas ministries have included Venezuela, Argentina, Hungary, and China. He is also a regular tour leader in Israel, Jordan, Egypt, Turkey, Greece, and Rome. His board service includes Bible Study Fellowship, Insight for Living, Jews for Jesus, and Walk Thru the Bible Ministries.
Mark M. Yarbrough
Dr. Yarbrough serves as Vice President for Academic Affairs, Academic Dean, and Associate Professor of Bible Exposition at Dallas Theological Seminary. Mark oversees all Seminary activities related to academics and public representation, including overseeing the extension campuses, extension initiatives, and Online Education. His undergraduate degree is from Dallas Christian College, where he was named Valedictorian and received the Delta Epsilon Chi Award. At DTS he was named Who’s Who and was an SCEC scholarship recipient. He received his Th.M. from DTS in 1996, and Ph.D. in 2008.
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