Andy Stanley: What Good Are the 10 Commandments? Not a Lot, Anymore

greatest commandment

Pastor and author Andy Stanley has sparked controversy again by asserting that Old Testament laws, including the 10 Commandments, no longer apply to new-covenant Christians. In a Relevant magazine article titled “Why Do Christians Want to Post the 10 Commandments and Not the Sermon on the Mount?” Stanley asks, “If we’re going to create a monument to stand as a testament to our faith, shouldn’t it at least be a monument of something that actually applies to us?”

Jesus’ Greatest Commandment Replaces the Old, Stanley Says

Stanley, pastor of North Point Community Church in Atlanta, argues that Jesus’ new commandment—to love one another (John 13:34)—“replaced all the old commandments.” Although the 10 Commandments “played a significant role in God’s creation of the nation of Israel,” he writes, “Jesus’ death and resurrection signaled the end of that covenant and all the rules and regulations associated with it.”

The result, Stanley says, is that Christians, as “participants in the new covenant,” are “not required to obey any of the commandments found in the first part of their Bibles.” Instead, they’re “expected to obey the single command Jesus issued as part of his new covenant: As I have loved you, so you must love one another.”

He adds, “While Jesus was foreshadowed in the old covenant, he did not come to extend it. He came to fulfill it.”

Stanley Condemns ‘Mix and Match’ Theology

The church has a “terrible habit” of mixing the old and the new, Stanley says. Throughout history, such blending of covenants has led to mistreatment of people and to “unchristian behaviors and attitudes,” he notes. “Over and over, Christianity was weaponized in Jesus’ name.”

Stanley writes, “Imagine trying to leverage the Sermon on the Mount to start an inquisition, launch a crusade, or incite a pogrom against Jews.”

In his latest book, Irresistible: Reclaiming the New That Jesus Unleashed for the World, Stanley maintains that “careless mixing and matching of old and new covenant values and imperatives” is what makes “the current version of our faith unnecessarily resistible.”

Critics Say Stanley Is ‘Undermining’ Scripture

Stanley sparked an uproar last April by preaching that Christians should “unhitch” themselves from the Old Testament, just as first-century leaders eventually “unhitched the church from the worldview, value system and regulations of the Jewish scriptures.”

That sermon (based on Acts 15) and Stanley’s new book have led critics to accuse him of spreading heresies and confusion. Michael Brown, a Messianic Jewish author and radio host, says it’s possible to stand against legalism and celebrate the grace and “newness of the New Covenant without undermining [its] very foundations.”

Pastor Ray Ortlund, president of Renewal Ministries, notes that the Apostle Paul didn’t “unhitch” Christian faith from the Old Testament. “Christian conversion did not take his Jewishness away,” Ortlund says of Paul. “It made Jesus the Lord over his Jewishness and over his conscience, both of which he continues to honor.”

In response, Stanley says context is key—and that his statements are intended for post-Christians, who tend to reject biblical teachings.

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Stephanie Martin
Stephanie Martin, a freelance journalist, has worked in Christian publishing for 26 years. She’s active at her church in Lakewood, Colorado, where she lives with her husband and two teenage daughters.

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