Andy Stanley is the pastor of North Point Ministries, a church attended by about 30,000 people each week. On December 3, he preached a sermon called “Who Needs Christmas” in which he made outlandish, even shocking comments about the virgin birth and other cardinal doctrines. In this message, Stanley attacks Biblical inspiration, declares the foundational doctrine of the virgin birth as unimportant, and places doubt upon its truthfulness. Let me focus on three incredible statements by Stanley from the introduction of his sermon. Each one demonstrates nothing but mockery of the truth of God’s Word. (See here for a Baptist Press report of the sermon.)
“Street Cred” for Jesus?
First, Stanley says that the Biblical authors may have come up with the myth of the virgin birth in order to enhance “street cred” for Jesus later on. Stanley said, “Maybe the thought is they had to come up with some kind of myth about the birth of Jesus to give him street cred later on. Maybe that’s where that came from.” What kind of credibility do writers who make up myths have? If the authors of Scripture were making up myths in order to give Jesus “steet cred,” this destroys the credibility of the Bible. Far from gaining so-called “street cred” for Jesus, the virgin birth actually led religious leaders to attack Christ and say He was born of fornication, was a Samaritan, and had a demon (John 8:41, 48). Saying that Biblical authors promoted a “myth” for any reason is an assault on the authority and inspiration of the Bible.
Second, Stanley said, “Matthew gives us a version of the birth of Christ, Luke does, but Mark and John, they don’t even mention it. A lot has been made about that.” Stanley implies that the Evangelists who gave us the Gospels were confused. He grants more credibility to liberal theologians than to the four different authors of the Gospel accounts who wrote by the inspiration of the Holy Spirit. For Stanley, even though Matthew and Luke clearly teach that Jesus was born of a virgin, it does not matter because Mark and John do not tell the life of Christ in the same way. Tragically, Stanley gives more weight to those who deny the inerrancy of the Bible than to its eyewitness authors who, moved by the Holy Spirit (2 Pt 1.20-21), clearly state that Jesus came into the world by the miracle of the virgin birth.
Resurrection True, Virgin Birth False?
A third statement Stanley makes that trivializes the indisputable truth of the virgin birth in God’s Word is this: “If somebody can predict their own death and their own resurrection, I’m not all that concerned about how they got into the world, because the whole resurrection thing is so amazing … Christianity doesn’t hinge on the truth or even the stories around the birth of Jesus … it really hinges on the resurrection of Jesus.” With stunning irreverence, Stanley suggests that the Bible can be wrong in one area (how Jesus came into the world) and yet right on another (that Jesus was raised from the dead). Apparently one truth, the virgin birth, is impossible, yet another, the resurrection, is not. Stanley seems to think we can pick and choose which miracles to believe without doing damage to all miracles. Who is he to stipulate which doctrines we should believe and which we can freely jettison because of the miraculous nature of the story? The denial of one Biblical miracle will not result in greater faith in the other miracles. The fact is if the Bible clearly teaches the virgin birth (which it does) and the resurrection (which it does) then both are of fundamental importance.
Stanley’s musings only succeed in tearing down the foundation of Christianity. Perhaps he thinks that denying the virgin birth will enhance his own “street cred” among post moderns, millennials, and Bible denying scholars who do not believe in the inerrancy and inspiration of God’s Word. I am left to wonder whether Stanley is talking about himself in the title of his sermon: does he need Christmas?
Matt Recker is the pastor of Heritage Baptist Church in New York City.