Book Review: Irresistible: Reclaiming the New that Jesus Unleashed for the World

Disclaimer:  I participated in a Launch Team for this book, reading selected samples.  I purchased my own copy of the book.

“Why doesn’t everyone in America go to church?”  This was a question given to Pastor Andy Stanley several years ago by a woman from China.  It is a question that has perplexed him ever since.

Andy Stanley is pastor of North Point Community Church, a multi-site congregation and church network based in Atlanta, Georgia.  He is the author of more than 20 books.

What makes the church in America irresistible?  In Stanley’s mind, Christians have been led to make a false assumption.  As the Bible goes, the assumption suggests, so goes the Christian faith.  He suggests that the foundation of the Christian faith is not the Bible, but the resurrection of Jesus.  The expansion of the church from Jerusalem, Judea, Samaria, and the Roman world in the first century was based on the historical event of the fact that Jesus rose from the dead.  This was accomplished many years before the documents which form the Christian Scriptures were bound together.  Problems also arise when well-meaning Christians, to use Andy Stanley’s term, “mix and match” elements from the Hebrew Scriptures and the covenant which God made with the nation of Israel and the new covenant which God has made with individuals through the death and resurrection of Christ.  Why, Stanley asks by way of example, would Christians wish to post the Ten Commandments in public places or believe that God judges nations?  These, he says, elements taken from the old covenant that do not apply to Christians.

Many have heard or read critical articles about Andy Stanley’s use of the word “unhitched.”  We should, he writes, unhitch the new covenant of Jesus from the old covenant of the Hebrew Scriptures.  “Jesus did not abolish the law when he fulfilled it.  But in fulfilling it, he made it…obsolete,” he says.  Stanley illustrates this point by using the Jerusalem Council from Acts, Paul’s New Testament letters, and Hebrews to suggest that while the Hebrew Scriptures are beneficial for us, the promises and covenant we have through Jesus Christ is better.

The message of Jesus gives us a new and better ethic when we ask ourselves the question “What would love require of me?”  This question, Stanley suggests, would revolutionize our lives and relationships.  It would make the church irresistible.

In Irresistible, Andy Stanley shows an apologetics focus and a desire to reach those who are not in the church, whether they have left the faith or never were a part of the church at all.  Some critics have called Stanley a new Marcion, in reference to the second century heretic who totally rejected the Old Testament.  Andy Stanley is no Marcion.  He asserts his firm belief that the Hebrew and Christian Scriptures are inspired.  But, he also believes that the church has become encumbered with concepts that should be foreign to us and allow people to put up barriers to the message of Jesus.  Stanley believes that the church can become irresistible again.

I recommend Andy Stanley’s newest book, Irresistible, for what he says both to the church as a whole and to Christians who wish to become better followers of Jesus.

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