Sunday, June 28, 2009

Why Dr Charles Stanley is not a biblical preacher

Unusually for me I was watching the tele early on Sunday morning and I caught an episode of Dr Charles Stanley preaching on his television program. Now I know this guy has come under some criticism for his personal life, and that is not unimportant, but it is also not something i can comment on, not knowing the facts. His preaching is however something I can comment on, at least the one sermon I did watch.

He started off by reading 2 Timothy 1:3-7. Which is a passage from the Bible, so far so good. He then spent the next 30 minutes or so talking about his mum and what a great example of a Christian mother she was. Now nothing he said or suggested was wrong, but none of it actually came from scripture, least of all the scripture he read from at the beginning. It was a lovely talk on how Stanley's mother raised him as a Christian despite considerable difficulties and it contained many useful nuggets of advice on raising Christian kids. All very nice, it might have made a nice booklet on parenting, or a seminar on raising godly kids, but it had NOTHING TO DO with the scripture he read out. 2 Tim 1:3-7 was just a convenient spring board for him to talk about his topic. What made this worse, was that not only did he imply that he was teaching from the Bible by starting with a scripture, he continued to read his notes from the open Bible he held in his hand, but he never again read from the Bible, it was just a convenient place to hold his notes. This technique was highly symbolic of the whole 'talk' ( I dont think i can use the word sermon), the Bible was merely window dressing for what Stanley really wanted to say. Why do I have a problem with this?

1: A preacher should not suggest his/her authority to preach comes from the Bible if their message does not come from the Bible. It is dishonest.

2: Such preaching disempowers the congregation because they know full well they could never read 2 Tim 1:3-7 and get a Christian parenting manual out of it. They leave church that morning none the wiser as to how they can read and understand the Bible for themselves.

3: Such preaching obscures the true character of the Bible which is plainly not a document interested in American family values or childcare. The message may be harmless of itself, but by taking the place that should rightfully be filled with the proclamation of God's saving work in Christ it does great harm to the church and world that needs to hear.

I rest my case. (Let me know what you think :-))

37 comments:

  1. Learn how to write before you start putting people down.

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  2. Dr. Stanley is a gifted Bible teacher. He has the love of God in him and it shines.

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  3. You must be a muslim.

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  4. Amen! Preach it Brother!

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  5. You should spend less time looking for negative things to say about Godly people and more time encouraging people!

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  6. What qualifies you to critique a much-loved Christian teacher after watching a thirty minute broadcast? There are many tv Christian speakers. No one agrees with all of them. When you find one you don't like, change the channel. It's not hard to do. If I read your essays, I'm sure I could find something to criticize. However, on the basis of your blog, I'm not inclined to read anything else you have written. I'm trying to remember that Yes, God does love even arrogant you.

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  7. l think he may have been preaching on 2 Timothy 1:3-7 not 1 Timothy 1:3-7 but hey i could be wrong

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  8. to the last anon, good point thanks, i did actually write 2 tim the first time i referred to it, but subsequently wrote the wrong passage, now ammended, thanks for your proof reading help. :-)

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  9. Jon, I couldn't agree more. Charles Stanley has built a large following because of what he is NOT (IE: He is not pentecostal, a prosperity preacher or a cultist.) People are so happy to have a preacher on TV who is none of the above, they overlook the fact that most of his sermons are sentimental mush.
    Isn't Dirk's comment a gem?

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    1. u both suck!

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    2. Charles Stanley supporterAugust 11, 2012 at 7:10 AM

      No wonder there are problems in churches, with people like yourself who are pulling down Pastors. Leave it all to God, and spend more time studying the bible, so that you can change. No Pastor is perfect, but we should be upholding them. You don't sound like you've exactly got it together.

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    3. Recently, Dr. Stanley shared some secrets to help young pastors learn how to be successful in ministry and he pointed out that it takes courage to be obedient to the Lord. Now let's turn over the rock so to speak and ask a very basic question. Why is brother Charles still preaching since he has a failed marriage? I would not want my brother (I will not call him pastor nor anyone else since the Lord Himself forbade us to do so while He walked among men) to tell me it takes courage to do what is right and then turn around and do the opposite. I did not set up the qualifications for those who can lead in the Body the Holy Spirit did. You should be discerning enough my brother in Jesus Christ to no the truth on these matters and quite frankly the Lord is not a repecter of men but He does jealously protect His Holy Word. So back up a little and rethink your thoughts on who should and shouldn't be leading the Body in the first place.

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  10. The Lord really convicted me after posting the above comment, and I repent of it. Charles Stanley is a brother in Christ, who beyond question has been an encouragement to millions. I was wrong to judge him

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  11. Interesting points. Being a former member of Dr. Stanley's church (and a member for the majority of my life), I can say that he, above the vast majority of evangelical preachers that I have heard, does actually teach directly from the Bible. In the case that he is not directly reading scripture, he is usually speaking on an easily-accessible Biblical point that could be found by just about anyone who has a Bible. Perhaps, the sermon you heard was an anomaly.

    However, this is not where my main issue lies. Your issues aside, as well as mine, do you really think it a wise idea to make so bold a claim as to 'Why Dr Charles Stanley is not a Biblical preacher' based solely on a singular sermon? This is particularly egregious when there is a pool of nearly 40 years of sermons, broadcasts, books, and articles that can be easily drawn on. I know that this is a blog, but if you are going to make such a grand and decisive statement, don't you think that you should have done just the smallest amount of academic leg-work to support your claims?

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  12. Hi Anonymous, if you really want to engage in discussion a name of some sort is useful, but you make a fair point. To which I hope to make a fair answer,

    1. It is a blog post and so I don't expect anyone to take it as seriously as an academic paper!
    2. I make it clear I am only basing this claim on one sermon. So no deception there.
    3. If you have a TV ministry and set yourself up as an example to others, even to the point of paying for your show to be broadcast in other nations (e.g. New Zealand where I watched it) I don't think you have any right to have "anomalies." If you have a bad day and preach a naff sermon it shouldn't then be broadcast to the world. I put some of my sermons up on this blog, but i'd only put the ones up that I was really happy with.
    4. As a preacher I know I sometimes have bad days but what I saw was not a problem with execution but a demonstration of a fundamental wrongness in his approach to the Bible.
    5. One day I will watch another sermon and do another review and I hope it will be a better one. It may even have the title "Charles Stanley is a Biblical Preacher After All!"

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    1. Don't worry about the stem in someones eye, worry about the log in yours. Are you for or against? God's people are doing his work, and what are you doing? Yep just like I thought, letting Satan use you to bring God's people down...Satan is very subtle, and unfortunately he is using you i'm afraid.

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  13. All I am going to say is that Dr. Stanley provides a lot more scriptural comfort to a lot more people than you will ever will. That is just a fact.

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  14. Crackup bro! May Free speech and opinion live forever. Many People feel the need to have a leader and be less independant, some comfort in a figure who they feel they can trust in guidence through a life of worries and pain, a big void. The good Doctor is this, I guess, to many. The guy who can help fill the gap in the void of people's empty hearts. *Grins* now, your opinion is good, and I'm agreeable on this, trouble is it takes a hell lot of effort to turn the tide! One little seed of contention (distrust) can sprout massive disarray. It's like scotch thistle weeds. One plant can be left to mature and grow, we neglect stamping the potential danger out, it sprouts and blows it's load and the wind carries all these seeds like women gossiping in a sewing circle, and the next crop around one problem is many and spread a distance over taking up good ground! bushedgeatwooshdotcodotnz *Smiles* Glyn

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  15. If you don't know what you are talking about, don't show your ignorance. DR. Charles Stanley is one of the preachers you should be watching.

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  16. For if a man think himself to be something, when he is nothing, he deceives himself. But let every man prove his own work, and then shall have rejoicing in himself alone and not in another.

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  17. Dr. Stanley is a biblical preacher. He preaches and teaches the Word of God. It is such a joy to hear him encourage people to live for God.

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  18. You listened to it all ...didn't you ...think about this one...idiot...

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  19. Are you the same anonymous as the last one?

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  20. Dr. Stanley is NOT a gifted teacher! He is a little wishy-washy but nice. Good stuff for the soul but not enought to wake people up. He is slipping down the slippery slope and taking alot of people with him.

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  21. Website comments are so abusive. Do you ever think about how it might effect that person on the other end that you have just personally attacked here about their spelling or calling them an idiot about their opinion? You are not dealing with a machine but a real person behind the comments. Scripture says: he who calls a man “you fool” is in danger of hellfire. It also says “do onto other as you would want them to do to you.”

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  22. are you talking to me or your namesakes?

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  23. Wow! You really did ruffle some feathers - some nasty comments here! It seems some people are taken to be above reproach

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  24. Who are you to judge, especially someone who loves our Lord as Dr. Stanley does! He has so many followers who also love Christ. You should keep your opinions to yourself. But you know what?! God forgives you.

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  26. To add to the above, Dr. Stanley only speaks on symptoms of man's condition. He never addresses the fullness of our sinful condition. We are dead in our sin but Dr. Stanley only preaches for us to cover up the symptoms of man's true condition... that is why he's not a Biblical teacher/preacher. He'll give a sermon on "5 steps for God to bless you" and the sermon will also have 5 steps to avoid so you can achieve the 5 blessing steps. 2 fold sons of hell comes to mind.

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  27. I sometimes feel he preaches too much on human things so I began reading in possible agreement, but when I read the verse I remembered that his sermon did speak to the spirit of that verse. He emphasised the way that Paul remembered those ladies who taught Timothy and how the love or knowledge of God was passed on to Tim by their love of God, as I recall at the moment. It was to me a relevant example of that passage although I did feel it didn't need as much time dwelling on that example, it brought that passage to life for me, as a parent and a descendant of a follower and lover of God.

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  28. Amen! I have always enjoyed his 'little talks' but they hardly ever contain much from the bible, other than his reference of how someone he knows and in his opinion is a good Christian.

    He may be very fluent in the bible, but from his speaking events, we would never see the evidence.

    To those who are criticizing this critique, I do believe that you have been sucked up in to the worlds way of thinking.

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  29. Amen! I have always enjoyed his 'little talks' but they hardly ever contain much from the bible, other than his reference of how someone he knows and in his opinion is a good Christian.

    He may be very fluent in the bible, but from his speaking events, we would never see the evidence.

    To those who are criticizing this critique, I do believe that you have been sucked up in to the worlds way of thinking.

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  30. For those who think Stanley is a good expositor of God's Word, get a couple of copies of any of the books he has written. In reading one of those books, stop and carefully examine his explanations of what various Bible passages mean. Ask yourself this question, Did that verse or passage actually say what Stanley claims it said? You might be surprised at what you find.

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  31. I thank GOD for Charles Stanley and I pray Jesus will open your eyes and heart.

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