The concept of a loving God is a “uniquely Christian idea,” says North Point Community Church Senior Pastor Andy Stanley in his newest book.
Titled Irresistible: Reclaiming the New that Jesus Unleashed for the World, Stanley’s latest book was released Tuesday by Zondervan.
In chapter 18, Stanley wrote about the New Testament book of 1 John, at one point focusing on 4:16, which reads in part “God is love. Whoever lives in love lives in God, and God in them.”
“John equated God with love. This was novel. This was unique. This would change the world,” wrote Stanley. “God is love is a uniquely Christian idea.”
To justify his theological argument, Stanley contrasted Christian belief in a loving God with the religious views of both Near East paganism and Judaism.
“No one credited the pagan gods with being love or loving. They were jealous, fickle, capricious, and entertained themselves by trifling in human affairs,” Stanley explains.
“For Jews, God was holy. Separate. Unapproachable. He lived behind a curtain. His love was reserved for his covenant people.”
Stanley describes John’s “God is love” statement as being “epic,” especially given that it was likely written around the time of the Roman sacking of Jerusalem.
“Many of us have a difficult time believing God is love in light of the suffering we read or hear about,” he continues. “John witnessed unspeakable horrors firsthand. Yet he concludes, God is love.”
Irresistible was written in response to the rise in the number of Americans who have left Christianity and identify as atheist or “religiously unaffiliated.”
“‘The Bible says . . .’ doesn’t carry the weight it once did and thanks to our digital world, folks know ‘what else’ the Bible says without even picking up a Bible. In spite of this, we preach, teach, write, and communicate as if nothing has changed. As if ‘The Bible says it,’ still settles it,” noted the book’s official description.
“According to author and church leader Andy Stanley, it’s time to hit pause on much of what we’re doing and consider the faith modeled by our first-century brothers and sisters who had no official Bible, no status, and humanly speaking, little chance of survival.”
Blending Old And New Covenants
In much of the book, Stanley makes the argument that a key problem with modern American Christianity is that it keeps treating the Old Testament and the New Testament equally.
Referring to “old covenant leftovers,” Stanley argues that Christians have “an uncomfortable history and habit of selectively rebranding aspects of God’s covenant with Israel and smuggling them into the ekklesia of Jesus.”
Stanley cites as examples violent episodes in Christianity like the persecution of religious minorities after Christianity became the Roman Empire’s state religion and the Crusades.
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Source: Christian Post