Atlanta Pastor Andy Stanley of North Point Community Church addressed the controversy surrounding his “Unconditional Conference,” aimed at supporting parents and LGBTQ+ children within their churches during a Sunday sermon.
The two-day conference, which featured LGBTQ-affirming speakers, garnered criticism from figures like Al Mohler, president of the Southern Baptist Theological Seminary, and others.
In a report by CBN, Mohler asserted that the event represented a departure from traditional biblical Christianity, which views marriage as a covenant between one man and one woman for life. Stanley responded by stating that he had never subscribed to Mohler’s version of biblical Christianity, suggesting that this version was driving people away from the faith.
Stanley emphasized his support for the belief that biblical marriage is between a man and a woman but added qualifiers to his statement, making his stance somewhat ambiguous. He acknowledged that some individuals who experience same-sex attraction may find traditional marriage untenable and may instead opt for same-sex marriage for reasons of love and companionship. He highlighted that the church’s role is to determine how to respond to these decisions, emphasizing North Point’s message of inclusivity, regardless of an individual’s starting point or circumstances.
Although Al Mohler had not addressed Stanley’s latest statements, other Christian thought leaders offered their perspectives. Andrew Walker, an ethics and public theology professor, distinguished between doctrine and pastoral practice in Stanley’s approach, asserting that while the doctrine officially remains unchanged, pastoral accommodation allows LGBT-identified individuals to remain in good standing while disobeying scripture. Denny Burk, president of the Council on Biblical Manhood and Womanhood, criticized Stanley’s message as subversively anti-Christian, as it seemed to offer salvation to unrepentant sinners, which contradicts biblical teachings.
Terri Green on Twitter came straight at Stanley’s ideology, saying “..No, you must reject it and have people come to the saving power of the Jesus. Affirming sin doesn’t define Christ’s church.”
Andy Stanley on accepting homosexuality in the church. He says we must get this straight for the next generation. No, you must reject it and have people come to the saving power of the Jesus. Affirming sin doesn’t define Christ’s church. pic.twitter.com/TbFepnO7D3
— Terri Green (@TerriGreenUSA) October 2, 2023
Stanley’s theological stances have faced criticism in recent years, including his view on the Old Testament, which he suggested should be “unhitched” from Christian teachings. In 2018, he argued that the Old Testament, while divinely inspired, should not serve as the primary source for church behavior. This viewpoint received criticism from several Christian leaders.
In response to Stanley’s remarks about the Old Testament, Pastor Michael Youssef expressed concerns, equating the Old and New Testaments to a single building with a foundation and roof. He emphasized that the Old Testament lays the foundation, with the New Testament fulfilling it, and removing the foundation could compromise the structure’s integrity.
Stanley’s message and the controversies surrounding the Unconditional Conference reflect the ongoing discussions within the Christian community about issues related to LGBTQ+ inclusion and the interpretation of biblical teachings.