Evangelist Andy Stanley is firing back at critics and says he never suggested that the Church "unhitch" from the Old Testament scripture.
The senior pastor at North Point Community Church in Alpharetta, Georgia, clarified a statement he made during a sermon in late April in reference to Acts 15.
"Well, I never suggested we 'un-hitch' from a passage of Scripture or a specific biblical imperative," he told Relevant Magazine. "Again, I was teaching through Acts 15 where Peter, James and Paul recommended the first-century church unhitch (my word, I'm open to an alternative) the law of Moses from the Gospel being preached to Gentiles in Antioch."
The influential speaker came under fire for the comments made in the last part of a three-part series called "Aftermath: Not Difficult".
"(First Century) Church leaders unhitched the church from the worldview, value system, and regulations of the Jewish scriptures," Stanley said on the series. "Peter, James, Paul elected to unhitch the Christian faith from their Jewish scriptures, and my friends, we must as well."
He pointed out that the early Church and the disciples did not require the newly converted Gentiles to follow all of the laws in the Old Testament or Torah in order to join the church.
Pastors and teachers took to Twitter to criticize Stanley for his comments.
But Stanley told Relevant Magazine that instead of criticising him leaders should have used it as an opportunity to be a "student" and listen to his message in its entirety.
"The folks in our churches understood the point I was making. Anyone who listened to all three parts of the series probably understood the point I was making. Anyone who heard my Christmas or Easter message understood the point I was making," he said. "So I guess the point I'm making is that anyone who really wanted to know what I meant by what I said could figure that out pretty easily. But it might require listening to more than one message!"
"I approach a message series like a single sermon," Stanley continued. "I don't try to cover everything in 35 minutes. I'm not that good. So, if you want to criticize my approach to preaching, fine. I would love to talk about that. But don't criticize a statement in a sermon if you aren't willing to spend the time necessary to appreciate the context."
This is not the first time the influential author and speaker has come under fire for comment, but he said appreciates individuals who are "curious" and questioned him on his side of the story.
"None of the academic types who have criticized my preaching have ever reached out to me before posting their critiques," Stanley explained. "When John Piper was concerned about something I said a year ago or so, he reached out to me and let me read his critique before he published it."
"So I'm not opposed to healthy dialogue around ideas," he added.
Stanley said he wants to challenge the Church and is working to engage a post-Christian culture, but adds that he doesn't want to leave people confused or have someone walk away from the true faith.
"We have far more in common than not. Help me. Email me your concerns. Call me. Follow me on Twitter and direct message me," he said. "I certainly don't want to mislead anyone. My ministry mission is to do exactly what James declared in Acts 15 when he said, "It is my judgment, therefore, that we should not make it difficult for the Gentiles who are turning to God."