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Should Pastors Stop Saying, 'the Bible Says'?

It's time to stop saying, "the Bible says." At least that's what Andy Stanley says.

At Exponential, a church-planting conference attended by 5,000 in late spring (with another 20,000 watching via video), the senior pastor of North Point Community Church in Alpharetta, Georgia, said pastors should instead use phrases like "Paul says" and "Jesus says" when citing Scripture.

Stanley (who also made the case in his 2012 book Deep & Wide) told CT the main reason for his injunction is "to keep people who are skeptical of the Bible's authority engaged in the sermon." It's a question of evangelism, not theology, he says. "The goal is to lead [people] to the place where they acknowledge Jesus to be who he claimed to be. They don't have to believe Noah built an ark and put animals on it to get there. … To get a person to the point where they believe the Bible is authoritative, they first have to believe that Jesus is the Son of God. The reason Christians take the Old Testament seriously is because Jesus did."

But Stanley adds that the approach has "helped Christians in our congregation have a greater appreciation for the historicity of the New Testament, that these were actual people who said these things." (An edited transcript of our interview with Stanley appears today on our website.)

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Grant Wacker, professor of Christian history at Duke Divinity School, said Graham probably copied the phrase from one of his professors at the Florida Bible Institute. "He was very conscious about what they did and why they did it," said Walker. "Graham would hold up the Bible and say, 'the Bible says,' because he sensed ...

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Should Pastors Stop Saying, 'the Bible Says'?
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July/August 2014

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