John Piper is founder and teacher of desiring and chancellor of Bethlehem College & Seminary.For 33 years, he served as pastor of Bethlehem Baptist Church, Minneapolis, Minnesota.” I say that the biblical issue here is not how you meet, but whom you marry. Let’s just get this clear and then I will circle around to the other.
One of the most profound challenges for Christians as we live in an ever-more-hostile world is how to properly defend the faith against the incessant attacks against it. We have seen far too many casualties over the years as people leave the church because they had doubts or questions that were never answered.It is precisely this issue that is behind Andy Stanley’s recent sermon, “The Bible Told Me So” (preached Aug 28, 2016).But even if Stanley is trying to follow a method like Wenham’s, I would argue he has done so in a manner that goes well beyond the language used by Wenham and others like him.As will become clear below, he makes a number of statements that are provocative enough that when they are not properly nuanced or clarified they can leave both believer and unbeliever deeply confused about the Bible.Stanley answers: “because the implication is the Bible is the reason we believe.”Why would it be a problem if the Bible is the reason we believe? Christianity becomes a fragile house of cards that comes tumbling down when we discover that perhaps the walls of Jericho didn’t.”In other words, the cure (or at least part of it) for these deconversions is to take the Bible out of the equation. While one sympathizes with Stanley’s desire to remove obstacles to belief in Jesus, his solution does not solve the problem. It becomes (as we shall see below) the equivalent of sawing off the branch you’re sitting on. Now, before we go further, it should be noted that Stanley’s desire to remove the Bible as the basis for our belief in Jesus is driven by his concern to reach unbelievers (or ex-believers).
Stanley tells us: “If the Bible is the foundation of our faith, here is the problem, it is all or nothing. If we do that, then we don’t have to worry about defending it or upholding it. Since unbelievers don’t accept the authority of the Bible, he thinks he will be more effective if the Bible is taken out of the mix.They drifted away because they went to a church that refused to answer their difficult questions and insisted that they were “just supposed to have faith.”There is little doubt that Stanley has put his finger on a critical issue for the church today, and he should be commended for it.We need to find a compelling way to address the questions and doubts people have about their faith without ducking the hard questions.I have met numerous couples recently who said they met online and they are happily married. Put your energies into becoming that kind of person.50 Questions to ask before you marry — its on our website, and actually it may be easier to find in the ebook. I think it is at the Desiring God website, 50 questions that couples should ask.