“What does the Bible say about that…this is a really bad question we have to quit asking…Let me tell you a better question: What does the New Covenant teach? Or let’s be more specific, What does the New Testament teach? Or even better, What does Jesus teach?” -Andy Stanley
I’ll bite. Even though I totally disagree with a Red-letter Christianity approach to interpreting the Scriptures, let’s indulge the question. Below are only “red-letter” statements taught by Jesus himself.
What does Jesus teach…
…about asking the question, “What does the Bible teach?”
- “What is written in the Law? How do you read it?” (Luke 10:26)
- “What then is this that is written…?” (Luke 20:17)
…about his followers quoting and applying verses from the Old Testament:
- “It is written…” (Matt. 4:4)
- “Again it is written…” (Matt. 4:7)
- “Be gone, Satan! For it is written…” (Matt. 4:10)
- “This is he of whom it was written…” (Matt. 11:10)
- “It is written…'” (Matt. 21:13)
- “For it is written…” (Matt. 26:31)
- “As it is written…” (Mark 7:6)
- “And how is it written…?” (Mark 9:12)
- “As it is written…” (Mark 9:13)
- “For the Son of Man goes as it is written of him…” (Mark 14:21)
- “…for it is written…” (Mark 14:27)
- “It is written…” (Luke 4:4)
- “It is written…” (Luke 4:8)
- “For it is written…” (Luke 4:10)
- “It is written…” (Luke 19:46)
- “Thus it is written…” (Luke 24:46)
- “It is written…” (John 6:31)
- “It is written in the Prophets…” (John 6:45)
- “In your Law it is written…” (John 8:17)
- “Is it not written in your Law…?” (John 10:34)
- “…just as it is written…” (John 12:14)
…about his disciples reading the Old Testament:
- “Have you not read what David did…?” (Matt. 12:3)
- “Or have you not read in the Law…?” (Matt. 12:5)
- “Have you not read…?” (Matt. 19:4)
- “…have you not read what was said to you by God…?” (Matt. 22:31)
- “Have you not read this Scripture?” (Mark 12:10)
- “Have you not read in the book of Moses…?” (Mark 12:26)
- “Have you not read what David did…?” (Luke 6:3)
About fulfilling–not contradicting–the Old Testament:
- “Do not think that I have come to abolish the Law or the Prophets; I have not come to abolish them but to fulfill them.  For truly, I say to you, until heaven and earth pass away, not an iota, not a dot, will pass from the Law until all is accomplished.  Therefore whoever relaxes one of the least of these commandments and teaches others to do the same will be called least in the kingdom of heaven, but whoever does them and teaches them will be called great in the kingdom of heaven.  For I tell you, unless your righteousness exceeds that of the scribes and Pharisees, you will never enter the kingdom of heaven.” (Matt. 5:17-20)
- “Indeed, in their case the prophecy of Isaiah is fulfilled…” (Matt. 13:14)
- “But how then should the Scriptures be fulfilled, that it must be so?” (Matt. 26:54)
- “But let the Scriptures be fulfilled.” (Mark 14:49)
- “Today this Scripture has been fulfilled in your hearing.” (Luke 4:21)
- “For I tell you that this Scripture must be fulfilled in me: ‘And he was numbered with the transgressors.’ For what is written about me has its fulfillment.” (Luke 22:37)
- “These are my words that I spoke to you while I was still with you, that everything written about me in the Law of Moses and the Prophets and the Psalms must be fulfilled.” (Luke 24:44)
- “But the Scripture will be fulfilled…” (John 13:18)
- “But the word that is written in their Law must be fulfilled…” (John 15:25)
- “…that the Scripture might be fulfilled.” (John 17:12)
- “You search the Scriptures because you think that in them you have eternal life; and it is they that bear witness about me…  For if you believed Moses, you would believe me; for he wrote of me.  But if you do not believe his writings, how will you believe my words?” (John 5:39, 46-47)
As quippy as Stanley might be, just because statements have a good ring to them and look good on a screen does not make them true. I joked in a Twitter comment that this is the “worst TED talk ever.” He is crafting his messages, stage, lighting, everything to give off a certain vibe. The visual is a sad metaphor for his theology. Perhaps if he pointed more to the Scriptures than to screens, then he would see the obvious incongruity in the message he is communicating.
As Stanley approaches the Old and New Testaments, he sets them at odds by choosing to caricature both of them. He highlights the judgment of God in the Old and the salvation of God in the New, when the truth is that judgment and salvation permeate them both. Because God has been operating from the same playbook since before the dawn of time. He was accomplishing the same purpose in Genesis and Leviticus that he was in Matthew and Luke. It’s all part of the same story of salvation history, and every word from Alpha to Omega perfectly fits together.
For goodness’ sake, look at the cross! The defining work of all time is the place where salvation and judgment meet in the person of Jesus Christ!
To say that the Old and New Covenants are at odds with one another is to grossly misread the entire Bible. Furthermore, it is to completely ignore the plain statements and example of Jesus himself.
I want to remind red-letter Christians that Jesus didn’t physically write any of the Bible. Even the Sermon on the Mount is the work of Matthew, who wove together the teachings of Jesus into the masterpiece we find in chapters 5-7 of his Gospel. My point is that all of Scripture comes to us through divinely-inspired human authors–even the statements of Jesus.
One of my greatest fears is that Andy Stanley’s popular approach is only confirming many American Christians in their own parochialism: they already don’t read the Old Testament, and Stanley is giving them a free pass. He’s telling us all what we want to hear! In fact, from his statement above, he implies that the best Christians don’t even get distracted by the rest of the New Testament. Truly dedicated Christians ask, “What does Jesus teach?”
And what does Jesus teach? Jesus teaches that it is impossible to understand his message, his cross, his resurrection, his authority as king, or who he is as the Son of God without reading, studying, believing, and applying the Old Testament Scriptures.