The tragedy of modern evangelicalism (very long)

October 15, 2012 at 3:41 pm | Posted in Christianity | Leave a comment

There are various and sundry (thanks Dr. O!) things that I could point to as examples of the tragedy of modern (or is it post-modern?) evangelicalism. Flip to any of the multiple “Christian” channels on local or cable television and you’re bound to hear any number of horrible teachings. There are many things that are wrong with them, and someone who is studying their Bible and paying attention to what is said (instead of emotion driving them) will recognize this in short order. The problem comes with the fact that many professing Christians are not studying their Bible and couldn’t defend the simplest tenets of the faith they profess. Forget defend, many can’t even articulate them…

While the hordes of prosperity preachers on TV do get up my nose on a daily basis, it is not these that I’m writing to warn about. Instead, I’m concerned about others. There are many who stand in pulpits today and twist scripture to suit their own needs. They cherry pick verses from different chapters, books, and even testaments (!) in order to support an idea or agenda that could never be supported by scripture in context. They build their kingdoms on the backs of legalistic and unscriptural doctrines that only tend to produce a cult-like atmosphere. Some of these “men” are well known and high-profile. But many more are not.

Along these same lines, although not near as ambitious or self-centered, are those pastors who truly desire to lead their churches in truth and wisdom. They stand up in front of their congregations every Sunday opening scripture and delivering a message that they hope will change lives, bring hope, and (most of all) save souls. Their passion for the lost, power in preaching, and desire to see souls saved is commendable. It does not go unnoticed or unappreciated. But, for me, there is still some concern. Many of these men, while desiring to pour their hearts and souls into the great commission and growth of the church, have softened the very thing that will bring about what they desire. Over time, they’ve allowed tradition and emotion to supersede the truth of scripture. They’ve allowed passion and fallable instincts to tint the truth of what is written from Genesis to Revelation, and in doing so, they’ve lessened the very source of their hope. These men have my prayers daily. It is my hope that they will abandon tradition and the emotionalism that they’ve depended on and more openly embrace the truth that they find in scripture (even when it’s difficult to accept).

What I’m about to go through is a “sermon” delivered by Ed Young, Jr. Young is the senior pastor of Fellowship Church in Dallas, Texas. Mr. Young is a well-known seeker-sensitive/Word of Faith preacher. He is best (?) known for recently spending 24 hours on top of one of his church buildings in a bed with his wife to promote his new book “Sexperiment”. He is (maybe not so well) known for things like this, this, and this. The sermon that we’re going to go through is the fourth one in a series he titled “Cool-Aid” (and seems to have ripped off the Kool-Aid logo from). The first three “sermons” I haven’t watched, but they all seem to be centered around allowing culture/tradition to affect what you believe. Ironic to say the least. By the end, we will see just how hypocritical this idea really is coming from Mr. Young…

So, without further ado, let’s get started….

(clapping and cheering) Cool Aid, we’ve been serving it in all our different environments. Drinking the Cool-Aid. That phrase was coined back in the day when maniac Jim Jones forced his followers to drink it, laced with poison, and if you know your history, the result was devastation and death. Isn’t it true that a lot of us drink our culture’s Cool Aid? A lot of us drink the Cool Aid, we guzzle it, without even thinking about it. We have those Cool Aid mustaches.”

Having watched this entire message through, it seems that the entire thing is a set up for the rant that comes toward the end. I find it interesting to say the least that Young invokes the image of “maniac Jim Jones” giving his followers poison to set the tone for the entire message. Poisoning the well much Mr. Young?

We drink the Cool Aid of gay marriage, we drink the Cool Aid of vulgarity, we drink the Cool Aid of victimization and bullying…”

I’m not sure where the last one fits or exactly how he means it. Is he saying that the church is participating in victimization and bullying, or that we are playing the victims and allowing ourselves to be bullied?

…today we’re going to talk about Cool Aid in a different light. So often, we, put an ingredient in Cool Aid that is really dangerous. The casualization of God. I submit to you that we, as a nation, have lost the holiness, the reverence, the fear of God. We’ve turned the Lord into the Prozac Jesus. The pale, frail, blue-eyed, decaf-sipping, white-boy Christ. He’s comfortable that way.”

I find this extremely ironic in light of the links that I posted about the previous antics of Mr. Young. For someone to talk about losing the “holiness, fear, and reverence of God” when they will trivialize that same Lord by their methods of “church growth” and “evangelism” is laughable. Mr. Young will do anything and everything he can to make Jesus “comfortable” (which we’ll touch on again later) and he seems to have no qualms about doing it and no problem boasting about it.

We sort of use Him when we need Him. We do what we want to do , we dream what we want to dream, we go where we want to go; and then, we take the “God sticker” out and place it on our lives. I wanna dream the way I wanna dream and then, God, you stick yourself to my dream and we’ll go places you’ve never dreamed possible. I’ve got this dream, you know, I wanna do what I wanna do because I’m the man. I’m the woman. I just let my desires rule. And then, God, I’ll place the God sticker on it.”

I think that it’s awful nice of Mr. Young to give what seems to be a description of how he does ministry. If I didn’t know better, he seems to be talking about himself here. “I wanna do what I wanna do”. You mean like sit in a bed for 24 hours to talk about sex? Or maybe you mean driving a ferrari on stage and then telling your congregations (remember, this is a multi-site church where Young is beamed in) that they are ferraris too? I can’t help but think that this is exactly how Young operates, even if he doesn’t acknowledge this…

And it’s amazing how we excuse our behavior in all sorts of things by doing this, isn’t it? Oh, we’ll live like hell. We’ll have sex outside of marriage. We’ll put things in our bodies and we’ll be addicted to this or that. We’ll ask God to help us with some business transaction and then rob Him when it comes to the tithe. But, God, bless me! I got those God stickers working, God.”

Um…really? While I understand that Christians do sin and they do struggle with the flesh and with temptation, does Young really think that it’s like this for Christians? I can’t help but wonder if he’s helping to make the problems worse by not preaching the pure truth of scripture? I won’t go into the tithe here or whether or not it’s scriptural or required for Christians. The thing is, whether you believe it is or isn’t (and can base that on scripture), Young is like the majority of Southern Baptists (SBC) that I’ve heard in that he says that the tithe is required. He teaches that when you give your tithes, you will be blessed by God in return. Really? Doesn’t that sound like bribing God instead of obedience?

Jesus (boom boom), you my homeboy. The bobblehead Jesus. Just use God. It’s cool. I’m cool with the Lord, The Man Upstairs, The Big Boy. Ed sprinkle some pastor dust on the situation. It’ll be ok. Yeah, I’m living like hell, but bring down some heaven. Then when heaven hits, then I’ll go back to living like hell because God got me out of a bad situation. Something bad happens, we blame God. Something good happens, God’s blessed. Comedians – they take God’s name in vain for 2 hours, drop the F bomb, they move from using expletives to using them as adjectives and adverbs and then have the guts, and the gall and the irreverence at the end of the night to say, “God bless you! You’ve been a great audience!”.

Ok. As I said, I have an advantage over those of you reading this (unless you’ve already watched the link above) in that I know what the rant is about. While I guess I can see how this is part of the world culture that Young is talking about, I don’t see how it has any correlation to what comes later. Is he implying that those he disagrees with have been drinking the world’s culture and are no different than the expletive-using comedians he’s now condemning? Is he upset that those who disagree with him have the “guts, gaul, and irreverence” to actually say they disagree with him and defend what they believe from scripture? I don’t know, but it doesn’t seem to make a whole lot of sense in any other context….

Then there’s Young’s “pastor pixie dust” idea. I bet he can’t find that in scripture. There are many professing Christians who live exactly how he describes and, according to scripture, they’re not Christians.

Only narcissistic Hollywood, the actors and actresses, would be prideful enough to come up with awards ceremonies to award their own. Only people who are that narcissistic would do that, have you ever thought about that? No one else does that in any other line of work. Only the actors and actresses do that. How whack is that? And then, when they receive the award – God bless you! Oh, I’m just blessed by God. What? What? Don’t bring God in! You’re living like hell! You have the audacity to bring in the name of God?”

I find it both funny and, at the same time, pathetic that Young would call Hollywood narcissistic or say that they are the only ones who have awards ceremonies to award their own. Really? To hear Young call Hollywood narcissistic makes him either the pot or the kettle. This charge of narcissism comes from a “man” who hosts his own TV show (called “Ed Young Television”) and has written a book called “You! The Journey to the Center of Your Worth”.

I also find it funny that he claims that only Hollywood would come up with awards ceremonies to award their own. Does his definition of Hollywood include the Dove awards? All GMA members can vote for those. Does it include the Nobel prizes? Many times, scientists and experts of the respective fields are invited to vote for those who are nominated. Does that make them narcissistic too?

I find it annoying that a 50-something year old man feels that he has to talk like a 20 something to be relevant and attractive.

Jesus ain’t your homeboy. I’ll say it again – Jesus ain’t your homeboy. He’s not the bobblehead Jesus. God’s not the man upstairs, He’s not the Big Boy. He’s not the man. No. He’s much, much, much, much more. But we have this Cool Aid guzzling culture. It’s pluralistic. It’s cool. It’s hip.”

I only stop to say that I don’t know of too many serious minded (but no less fun) Christians who actually think of Jesus as their homeboy or God as the “big boy”. But, this doesn’t matter to Young. As we’ll see, he’s not concerned about painting an accurate picture. He’s only concerned with painting those that disagree with him with a broad, straw-man brush…

We even have the Christian Cool Aid here in our world today. A lot of us guzzle it. A man came to see me one day. He sat right in one of these seats for several years. He started a business. He told me, ‘Ed, I have the opportunity to really knock it outta the park. I have the opportunity to receive a windfall.’ He was living like hell, and I talked to him about it. And then he said, ‘Would you pray with me? There’s a chance that this deal could go south and I could lose everything – all the money that I could make on this deal. Would you pray? Would you pray?’ And I basically said, ‘I’m not gonna pray. I’m not gonna pray. I’m not gonna use God. I’m not gonna place a God sticker on the situation until you say “Ya know, from this day forward I’m gonna live for God. From this day forward I’m gonna follow Him. From this day forward I’m all about Him.” If you want to say that, if you want to agree with that, then I’d be happy to pray. So, he goes, ‘Yes. Yes.’ But see, I’m not God. I can’t read a person’s heart. This guy was using me. Sprinkle some pastor dust on the situation. Call down heaven. He just wanted the cash money. That’s all.”

Is this really “Christian Cool Aid”? Would a true Christian really do this? Not only that, but does Young actually think that he can sprinkle “pastor dust” on situations and they’re ok? Where is that in scripture and who does it glorify? Can Young really “call down heaven”? What exactly does that mean? Surely he’s not comparing himself to the likes of Elijah or Elisha who called down fire from heaven? Is he implying that he somehow has power like God does to change situations just with a word or a touch (or a sprinkle)? If so, that’s very much a Word of Faith type of doctrine and has no basis in scripture. I find it interesting that Young said that he wouldn’t put a “God sticker” on the situation until…in other words, he will put a God sticker on it, but only after you meet his conditions. I can’t help but wonder why, if Young can call down heaven and sprinkle pastor dust, he can’t read a person’s heart? He seems to think that he can later on though….

And once God solved his problem, he’d go back to living like hell. I prayed. The deal was done. He made tens of millions. I warned him several times, ‘Hey. Remember the decision?’ A serial adulterer, a liar, a cheat. And now, his life is a living hell. Depressed, despondent, destitute. Really, he’s gone insane.”

I’m also now wondering if Young got any of the “tens of millions”, but that’s not important. The stark point that needs to be made here is what Young said. “Remember the decision?” Young preaches a gospel based on decisional regeneration. Basically, this means that men choose to accept or reject Christ of their own autonomous, free will. They are not pressured, influenced, or drawn by God in anyway. If they were to be, it would completely invalidate the free will of man and make him a robot. Not only that, God would be unloving and end up as just some tyrant who controls people for his own devious purposes. Thankfully, that’s not what scripture says.

Also, how did Young’s actions actually help the man see the truth of his situation? Did Young act as a pastor? Did he try to help one of his sheep? Or did he just toss out some platitudes that he thinks are Christian and leave the man to his own devices? He obviously knew what the man was doing; did he not care about the man or his family? Did he actually talk to the man about his sin? By the way, we’re almost a sixth of the way into the 46 minute sermon and Young has yet to even crack his Bible open…

You don’t use God. You can’t play with Him. See, we wanna talk about the grace and the love of God. The peace of God. It’s so popular. It sells books. People like it, they smile. Everything is hunkey-dorey. And that’s a part of God, no doubt about it. You can’t talk about the forgiveness of God, the grace of God without talking about the judgment of God and the conviction of God.”

While I would agree with Young in theory, I don’t see this as being his course of action. I think that we sometimes focus too much on the love and mercy of God (which is one of the things that sells Young’s books) and not enough on the judgment of God and the holiness of God. So, how does this fit with Young’s underlying agenda? Well, it’s all about the decision. So, if you can “preach” about the judgment of God and get people to make a decision, you’ve done your job. If you can “preach” about the love and mercy of God and get people to make a decision, you’ve done your job. It’s not about the truth, it’s about the decision and doing whatever is necessary to get people to make “the decision”. Nevermind that they’re not truly converted. Nevermind that the very thing Young is preaching against is the same thing that he does week in and week out in an attempt to be relevant and to reach thousands of “decisions”. Charles Finney would be proud…..

We’ve forgotten it. The church doesn’t talk about it anymore. It’s not cool anymore. We’re drunk on the Cool Aid!”

Again, I could agree with Young (to a point) in that many churches have abandoned the truth (even if it’s harsh) for a softer, watered-down gospel that makes people comfortable on their way to hell. However, this is precisely the type of gospel that Young preaches. As you’ll see later, Young is making this presentation against one particular group and spends all of this time setting up his straw men so that he can burn them down later. I do have a question though. Is there anybody that preaches the truth? Is there anyone that stands up and thunders the power of the gospel of Jesus Christ like John Knox or Guillaume Farrell? Of course there are! And they are slowly growing in number as the younger generations see through the facade of what their parents call “church”. And they do this not giving one whit about whether or not it’s “cool” but only concerned with “is it the truth?”.

And the poison is the casualization of God. Even God’s people went through this. We’ve all gone through it. I’ve gone through it. So have you. We’ve all used God. Everybody has. We’ve all pimped God. [Walking with a pronounced limp]. See my pimp limp? We’ve pimped God.”

Um…the poison is the casualization of God. Would that include things like, oh I don’t know, a “pimp limp”! What does a pimp limp have to do with anything?

God, I’m gonna do what I wanna do. I’m gonna use You to get what I want. So, you’re God [pointing to the audience] and I’m God right? Ok. And we’ll use God to get what we want, is that the deal? We’ve all used God. God’s people used Him.”

Any time I hear a “sermon” like this, I always wonder who the pastor has in mind when they’re preaching. This sounds more like a newspaper editorial than it does an expositional opening of the scriptures. As we’ll see later, Young actually does have someone specific in mind. In regards to “using God”, I wonder how many Christians actually do this? How many people who are truly born again use God? And, how does this fit with Young’s own “ministries” and the way that he runs his church? The man “pimps” God every chance he gets! He has a “creative team” that takes decades old songs and takes them to a hole mutha level of absolute idiocy. He has a blog where he posts his thoughts and ideas as well as videos – all full of WoF, seeker-sensitive nonsense. He has a website on pastor fashion…He is also well-known for a scandal a couple years ago that looked into his finances to see how much he made and what other lavish things he had. Sounds pretty hypocritical for Young to be talking bad about people that act just like he does…

Here’s what I want you to write down: Number 1 – We cannot use God. Say it with me, ‘We cannot use God’. We can’t.”

So his first point speaks out against what he himself does all the time…hmmm…

Go back with me to 1 Samuel chapter 4. 1 Samuel chapter 4. I’ll give you the quick Wikipedia on 1 Samuel chapter 4. The Israelites, God’s people, had been in this cycle of rebellion. Live like hell, God would bring heaven. Then He would get them out of the situation, and they would go back to hell again. Over and over and over. And that’s one of the cool things about the Bible so that we can all deal with and understand and identify with. They were in battle with their arch-enemies, the Philistines. The A seafaring people. Mean people. They had a corner on the iron market. Israel goes out to fight the Philistines and the Philistines beat the stuffings out of God’s people. They just hammered them. They whacked them. So you got God’s people licking their wounds, ‘Man, I thought we were God’s people. I can’t believe it.’ They began to blame God. ‘It’s God’s fault. It’s God’s fault man.’ Have you ever blamed God? ‘It’s God’s fault that I’m not on the team. It’s God’s fault that I had that father. It’s God’s fault that I lost the money. It’s God’s fault.’ Blame God. That’s what God’s people did.”

Wow. Young finally got to the scriptures. But, he’s not going to be here long and he won’t stay very close to them. As I said before, this all seems like a set up for the rant that he’ll get into later. He’s talking about God’s people using God and then getting defeated. He’s saying that those who thought they were God’s people were really not acting like it. Instead, they were blaming God for their situations and the things around them…

1 Samuel chapter 4. Let’s look down in verse 3. They’d gotten smacked. ‘When the people came into the camp, the elders of Israel said, “Why has the LORD defeated us today before the Philistines?’ The blame game – it’s as old as the Garden of Eden. ‘Let us take to ourselves from Shiloh the ark of the covenant of the LORD,’ You’ve heard about that. The Raiders of the Lost Ark. Remember that? The ark of the covenant. Well, you know, the ark was real. It is real. It contained the Ten Commandments of Moses, the presence of God, as on the ark. Cherubim on one side, another cherubim on the other. Gold. It was powerful man. So the Israelites are looking at the ark like a rabbit’s foot. Like, like a little medicine. Like a little “God dust”. Man, we can draft off God. We’ll just manipulate the system. We’ll oblige God. If we put the ark in front of us the next time we do battle with the Philistines, we’re gonna win. We got the ark. It’s the ark! It’s not about you God. It’s not about holiness. It’s not about righteousness. It’s about the ark!”

So, this is the text that Young uses as the basis for his message. He constantly points out that the Israelites weren’t practicing holiness or righteousness and that they are trying to use God to get through their problems. There are many people who do that today. And they are helped along by the shallow, lackluster preaching of men like Ed Young. When the Bible talks about holiness, it is talking about consecration. It is talking about a people who are “set apart” from the world. Does this describe Young? Not in the slightest. The man looks, acts, and talks just like the world does. He may not use vulgarity or foul language, but the things that he promotes are the things that the world chases after. 1 John 2:15-16 says, “Do not love the world nor the things in the world. If anyone loves the world, the love of the Father is not in him. For all that is in the world, the lust of the flesh and the lust of the eyes and the boastful pride of life, is not from the Father, but is from the world.” This is exactly what Young is promoting – love of the world. So why does he preach against it here? As I said before, I believe that it’s all a set up…

I had dinner with a family recently. The family would call themselves Christ followers. Now, I would doubt it. Just from my observation. I’m not God. I don’t know. But, I would seriously doubt it. I show up. The language, the vulgarity is flowing. As other things are flowing. And then, as I leave, the man of the house (who’s taken God’s name in vain squillions of times just over several hours I was there) made this statement: ‘Yeah, I can’t do that, I’ve gotta go to church on Sunday.’ I’m like, ‘I can’t believe it! I’m just teaching about this stuff and this guy’s preaching my sermon.’ So, church is your rabbit’s foot, right? Church is your idol. Church is your ark. Church is how you kinda draft into what you wanna do. ‘Oh, I’ve been to church! Everything’s fine! I got a little heaven on Sunday, I’ll live like hell the rest of the time.’”

So, as a pastor, Young was sitting with this family who was blaspheming the name of God “squillions of times” over several hours. Did Young say anything to them about it? Did he tell them what they were doing? It’s nice that Young knows that they weren’t Christ followers, but did he give them the true gospel? Does he even know it himself? Was the man using church as a “rabbit’s foot”? It’s possible. It happens a lot in the American churches. And there are many reasons for it. The world doesn’t see any difference between the church and themselves. There is nothing to show that the gospel actually has power. The preaching of men like Ed Young has no depth or biblical support the majority of the time (even a blind squirrel….) so why is he surprised to see things like this? The stuff that he puts into his message has only one purpose – get a decision. Don’t believe me? Let’s continue on…

‘When the people came into the camp, the elders of Israel said, “Why has the LORD defeated us today before the Philistines? Let us take to ourselves from Shiloh (I love that name Shiloh) the ark of the covenant of the LORD, that it’… Not He, not God. It. It. Church is it. I’ve been to church. It. … so that it may come among us and deliver us from the power of our enemies.’ Wow. That is so sad. And people pimp God and use God in so many different ways. Alright, God, I want this and I want that. And, if I have enough faith, and believe it enough, You’ve gotta come through. God, You’re my UPS boy. God – You’re my concierge. God – You’re my messenger boy. Yeah. That’s what they were doing. They were pimping God. Using God. Say it with me – We can’t use God.”

This is coming from a man that has a 7,800 square foot house (about 5 times the size of most homes) that was worth up to $4 million when it was built, a private jet (Young claims that his church leases this) that costs $8.4 million dollars (and to lease it costs 10% of that a month), and has solicited his congregation (can you call them that?) for their bank account numbers so that he can draw out their tithes directly. He spends time on TBN and has resorted to all sorts of shenanigans all in an effort to use God to gain attention, power, and wealth. It just sounds sour to hear Ed Young say that you can’t use God…

So then, the plot clots. Cuz if you know a little bit about the history, again, you’ve got Eli who was the priest/judge – good old guy, no discernment whatsoever. His sons, the worst preacher’s kids you’ve ever met in your life, Hophni and Phineas work with him in this whole system. They were abusing the sacrificial system and seducing the women who worked in the temple. These are preacher’s kids! No integrity. And the Bible says that Eli didn’t even know what they were doing. Hophni and Phineas [laughing] walk into the walk into the room where the ark of the covenant is, there not supposed to touch it. Only one day a year the holiest guy in the land would walk in there….and they take the ark, Hophni and Phineas, (This is crazy man! It’s crazy) and they escort the ark of the covenant, Hophni and Phineas! You got it? And they bring it [cart sounds], on its cart, to the Israelite camp. And the Israelites [laughing] are going to use that, as the rabbit’s foot, to open up a can on the Philistines. You can’t make this stuff up. It’s in the Bible. I mean, this is great [laughing]. You’re going, ‘Hophni and Phineas’ [laughing].”

A can of what Mr. Young? You may not have said it, but the crude phrase is common enough that most of the people hearing you in all of your sites finished the thought. Is that something that should be said from the pulpit (ok…stage – which I think is more fitting for Young anyway…) on a Sunday morning? The loose way that Young handles the story of scripture gets up my nose. And the way he trivializes some of the details is sad, to say the least. One day a year the “holiest guy in the land” would enter into the holy of holies? Really? It had nothing to do with the holiest guy in the land. As a matter of fact, before the atonement of Israel’s sins could take place, the sins of the priest had to be covered. It wasn’t about who was the holiest. It was about God’s promise of the forgiveness of sins that would come through Christ. But, as I’ve already said, Young isn’t concerned about what the scriptures say or how they should be understood. He’s more concerned about his agenda and the points that he wants to get across. And he’ll twist scripture to do that…

How many people have ever been to NASCAR before? NASCAR, lift your hands! There’s something called drafting, I mentioned it earlier. What is drafting? You’ve got a car [car sounds] and a car behind it drafts off that car. It uses the energy of that car to do what? To go faster and faster and faster. It happens when your racing bikes, it happens when you’re running a race [running]…it even happens spiritually.”

So, again, I’m trying to keep on topic here. How does drafting fit with his purpose? Is he saying that people who “drink the Kool-Aid” draft off of others spiritually and use them to get attention for themselves? That they stay behind a ministry leader and use their energy to drive themselves faster? Really? Is that what they’re doing? I feel an example coming on….

We have one of the greatest women’s ministries in the world – Flavor. [Clapping] If you’ve not been to Flavor ladies, I beg you to attend. It’ll change your life. You know why it’s hard for you to go to Flavor? Because the devil knows it’ll change your life. That’s why it’s difficult to go. It’s spiritual warfare. That’s just extra credit. I’ll just throw that in. So if you don’t want your life to change for the better, just don’t go. But if you do, show up.”

In the world? Really? Out of all the women’s ministries that exist, this one is one of the greatest? If it is based on the same shallow self-centered principles that the people hear on Sunday morning, I would have to doubt that it’s all that great. I can’t help but wonder if that nudging not to go is actually the Holy Spirit trying to lead people away from Flavor (and Fellowship Church altogether). Of course, anything that would be against Young and his kingdom is most certainly of the devil…

Here’s the story behind the story. Always remember this. I’ve learned this. There’s always a story behind the story. ‘Awww, but she said…’ There’s a story behind the story. ‘But that happened…’ There’s a story behind the story. There’s a story behind the story. There’s a story behind Flavor. How did Flavor begin? A bunch of women were drafting off my wife. A bunch of women were God-drafting off of Lisa. ‘Oh Lisa, please start a Bible study. You’re gifted. You’re a leader. Please, please, please start a Bible study.’ So this group of women flocked to Lisa; from different stages of life, different ages. Some didn’t have much, some had a lot. ‘Lisa, teach us!’

A bunch of women were “drafting” off of his wife? Really? They were using his wife to get attention? Is she that mature in the faith? Then, Young calls it “God-drafting”. Am I to understand that they were using her to get closer to God?

So, Lisa led the Bible study. After awhile, as they talked about church, as they talked about what the scriptures say regarding the church. Serving in the church. Not swerving, serving. Sharing your faith with people who don’t know Christ. Sowing financially into the church, which is one of the major subtexts of the Bible – finances. So they begin to talk about those things. And after awhile, Lisa goes, ‘Honey, these women are drafting off of me. These women are God-drafting off of me. Only a few of them are serving, sharing, sowing. The rest of them are living like hell!’ She stopped the Bible study and subsequently started Flavor. Thousands of women later, that’s what has transpired. [Clapping] God-drafting. People drafting. A second-hand religion. Using other people for your benefit. Like rungs on a ladder. That’s what the Philippians…I’m sorry, that’s what the Philistines are going to try to do in a couple minutes. They’re gonna try to draft off God’s people. I’ll just stick behind them. If I get the ark, if I capture the ark, I got that power man. I got it. I got it. Yeah, yeah. You can’t use God. I’ll say it again. You can’t use God.

After awhile they talked about church? What does that mean? Why weren’t they talking about church from the beginning? They talked about scriptures regarding the church? I can only imagine how that went. They also talked about serving in the church, and sharing your faith with the lost, and sowing financially into the church because it’s a major subtext in the Bible. Serving is something that we as Christians are called to do and should do with joy and not under compulsion. Sharing our faith is the same way. We should share our faith because we have joy in the Savior for saving wretched sinners like us and because we know the fate of those who aren’t born-again. Giving to the church is also the same according to scripture.

Paul tells us that Christians are not to give under compulsion but out of joy/cheer and according to what we purpose in our hearts. To say that the tithe is required of believers is to try and compel them to give (and some may not have that to give) and to put them back under the Law. I have to wonder why a pastor who claims to know Greek and Hebrew (as do many others) and who says that they trust God to provide for them feels that he has to compel his flock to give a specific amount of money (to the point of telling them not to come back if they don’t give the tithe and to ask for their bank account numbers to start an automatic tithe). Young would say that his flock should give their tithe to get a blessing and more money. But, where is that in scripture? What is Young (or any other pastor that says the tithe is required) afraid of? Will God not provide? If so, then why does Young have to coerce and compel and guilt trip his people into giving a tithe?

Then Young’s wife comes to him and tells him that most of the women she’s teaching are living like hell. Hmmm. Let me get this straight. She’s this Godly, honorable, mature Christian and pastor’s wife and the class that she has contains a number of people who are living like hell. I can’t say that it’s her fault that they live the way they do, but I do have to wonder what she was teaching them. So she stopped the Bible study and started a new ministry (because obviously this one will work better) and has supposedly reached thousands of women and changed their lives. So, what was the difference? Why couldn’t the lives of the women in the first study be changed? Oh wait…I know! It’s because they were “God drafting”. He then tries to tie this idea back to the scriptures saying that this is what the Phillistines were doing. The Phillistines were not trying to use the Israelites to gain power. They were trying to use the ark to mock the Israelites and their God. They saw the capture of the ark as the victory of Dagon over the God of Israel, which is why they put it in their temple…

Here’s another statement. You can’t capture God. You can’t capture Him. Say it with me. ‘You can’t capture God.’ At all the campuses, ‘You can’t capture God’. If you’re watching this on ABC Family somewhere right now in a bar, or an apartment, or in a home; say it with me. ‘You can’t capture God.’ You cannot capture God. You can’t. Every box I’ve tried to put God in [box taping noises]…He’s gotten out of. You can’t capture God. The Philistines…you ain’t gonna believe this. Keep reading your Bible. 1 Samuel 4. They fought the Israelites again, but here’s the deal. Now the Israelites have the ark. The rabbit’s foot. They’re wearin’ the “Jesus is my homeboy” shirts. They’ve been living like hell but now they have heaven on their side. Hophni and Phineas are there with the ark, man. Everything’s gonna go great. It scared the Philistines. When they knew the Israelites had brought the ark from Shiloh – freaked them out. They knew their history. They were like, “Man, I remember what happened to the Egyptians. Oh no, they’ve got the ark. They’re returning to the Lord!”

How many times do we need to repeat it? Does Young think his people are that stupid that they didn’t hear him the first time? Does he think that his words are that important? Or, is he just trying to imitate other “hip and cool” pastors? I do find it interesting that Young admits to trying to “put God in a box” (can we put that cliché to rest? It doesn’t even make sense!). To be honest, I don’t think that he’s stopped putting God in a box. It’s a good thing that God got out of all of those boxes Young put Him in or who knows what would have happened? Then, Young decides to go back scripture and continue contextualize the passage. The sad part is that Young is correct in some of his statements, but you have to wade through mounds of false teaching to find them. The Philistines did start out scared because of the ark. It was a tense moment.

Noooo. No they weren’t. No they weren’t. Bunch of hypocrites. They weren’t returning to God. They wanted to go back to hell. They just wanted God to deliver them. So the Philistines said, “Hey, we’ve gotta step up and bring our best game to the battle.” And they did. And they just beat the stuffings out of God’s people. With the ark out front! I’ll say it again. They had the ark out front and they just hammered God’s people. Tens of thousands of people were killed. You use God, He’ll orchestrate your defeat. Let me say that again. You use God, He’ll orchestrate your defeat. You don’t believe me? Talk to the guy I mentioned earlier. I wouldn’t parade him on stage, he’d be too embarrassed. His life is a living hell. The guy’s gone insane. You can’t use God. You can’t use Him. You can’t capture God. Oh, they captured God. Tens of thousands of God’s people were killed. They captured the ark. We got it, we got the power, man. And they took the ark to some of the Philistine strongholds. Put the ark in the same room with Dagon, their god. We got the ark. We got Dagon. We got the rabbit’s foot. We got good luck. Man, it’s gonna happen now with the Philistines. We got it, man. We got it goin’.”

I find it hilarious that Young calls Israel a bunch of hypocrites. This man has spent his years as a pastor making a fool of himself (not for Christ) and trying to be relevant in order to pull in large numbers of unsaved people to lead and try to save. He talks a big talk, but his walk doesn’t match what he says. He’s a Word of Faith preaching, seeker-sensitive, 50 something-year-old man who acts like a teenager and sensationalizes his messages and other materials in order to get attention for himself and bring in large amounts of money…for himself.

I don’t doubt that the Israelites were not in God’s graces. It is obvious that they weren’t living according to God’s law. Young correctly states that God will defeat those who rebel against Him. I wonder if he realizes that he’s in that group? That the mockery, blasphemy, and dishonor that he’s brought upon the name of God (not to mention the false-converts) will eventually be defeated by the Lord. Young then says that we should ask the guy that he was talking about earlier if we needed an example. He says that he won’t parade him on stage because it would embarrass him. So, he won’t parade him on stage, but he’ll use his life story as an example of one who is living like hell. I wonder if he asked the guy before laying out his sins in front of the congregation?

The next day, they start bringing in tours. Tours, that’s right. To look at the ark. People paying good money. Kinda like Disney World. Huge money to look at the ark and Dagon. And as they look, they’re shocked. Because Dagon, during the night, had fallen face down before the ark. That would be a good place to clap right there. [clapping starts] So, excuse me…let me, let me…sometimes I’ve gotta encourage myself. Just stand right there to the left. Sometimes, if you won’t encourage me I’m just gonna say…MAN THAT IS GOOD PREACHING! I LIKE THAT! Ok, anyway…I just…the Bible says ‘Encourage yourself in the Lord’ and if you don’t help me, I’ll help myself. That’s alright. That’s alright. I know it’s hot outside. I know it’s convicting. I know it. I know, I know. It’s convicting to me too. Me too. Yeah.”

I don’t see anywhere in scriptures where it says they were giving tours or collecting money from it. I only see where they took it into the temple and put it before their god. So here, we see Young embellish what the scriptures say. Why? What purpose does it serve other than possibly helping his preconceived agenda? He explains that the statue of Dagon had fallen before the ark and when he doesn’t get the response he thinks he should, he tells his congregation to clap. This is disgusting. Is Young so insecure that he feels the need to tell his congregation to give him encouragement? Then, that’s still not enough. So he goes down into the audience moves one of the members out of their seat and goes on to boast about his own preaching. Really? And then, to add more to it, he talks about how he knows that his preaching is convicting. Is that not the height of arrogance? How much more could he take credit for?

So Dagon had fallen before the ark. [Encouraged clapping] Then, all this wild stuff started happening and they started moving the ark. ‘Oh, we can’t take the ark here, people are dying and getting sick. And they moved it from this city to that city. How can I say this. The translators in Hebrew were scared to translate what was really happening to the Philistines because of the judgment of God, but I’m going to tell you what happened. This is not vulgarity. I’ll use the correct terminology. They had..the Philistines, because they had taken the ark…a rat infestation. I’m talking about ugly, goatee sporting, tat advertizing, rats with piercings they were so big. I made that stuff up. Rats. But here’s the bad part. Let’s just (boom boom) keep it real. They began to grow tumors in their rectum and groin area. I know it’s bad. Again, I’m just telling you what it says in the Hebrew. Now, people began to move the ark around but they didn’t want to touch it. You can imagine. They didn’t want to touch it. People dying. Tumors growing in very private places. Rats running around. It was horrible. Say it with me, ‘You can’t capture God.’ Say it with me, ‘You can’t capture God.’ Wow. That is gross. The Bible is unbelievable. ou can’t capture God. You can’t contain God. You can’t hem God into a box. You cannot say, ‘God, there is where you are. Let me put you in this nice box. Close it up. Tape it up. [tape sounds] And You’re in the box.’”

He finally continues with his story. He talks about Dagon falling before the ark and then the judgment of God that comes upon the Philistines for profaning the ark. Again I can’t help but be amazed at Young’s ignorance of his own situation. He is no different than both the Israelites and the Philistines, but he keeps on preaching; oblivious to where he stands before God. He goes into much more detail than I think is needed and seems to enjoy the scandalous nature of what he’s explaining. I highly doubt that the Hebrew translators were afraid of writing down what was said seeing as they had described much more hideous things by this time. When he’s finished talking about the different judgments, he then reiterates the idea that you can’t put God in a box, as if this explains what the scripture passage he just went over. He talks again about not being able to talk to God and put Him in a box which seems to be a lead-in to the rant coming up.

There is a huge movement these days in the Christian community, called Reformed theology. It’s not new, it’s old. But now, people run around with skinny jeans and V-necks. They’re smart people, you know, talking about this. Reformed theology can lead to a deformed ecclesiology. Let me say that again. Reformed theology, so often – dont’ misquote me, can lead to a deformed ecclesiology. What’s ecclesiology? Basically the doctrine of the church. I’m talking about Calvinism! ‘I’ve got God in a box! I’ve got God in a box.’ And there are churches all around North America and the world. Not all of these but most of the Calvinistic churches don’t reach anybody. They got God in a box and they use God, they use God, they pimp God not to reach people who are dying and going to hell. Now, let me talk to the young people here. You are prey, P-R-E-Y, for these churches. Brand new believers, prey for these churches, P-R-E-Y. It’s sexy, it’s cool, Calvinism, man. Because I got God in a box. Oh really? You’re mister smart guy, mister smart girl you’ve got God in a box? Really? I believe in election. I also believe in choice. So you’re telling me, you’ve got God in a box. You’ve captured God. You figured out where election begins and choice ends and where choice ends and election begins? [Sarcastic laugh]”

So all of this was leading up to a rant against Calvinism? This is the “box” that people are putting God in? So, is Young comparing Calvinists to Jim Jones and the poison Kool-Aid? Or maybe he’s comparing them to the world’s culture? Or maybe the disobedient and sinful Israelites or Philistines? What makes it worse is that Young makes it abundantly clear that he has absolutely no clue what Calvinism right from the start. Instead of giving an educated critique of their beliefs, he starts in with insults against certain professing Calvinists calling them skinny-jeans, V-neck wearing people (this coming from a man who wears spanx and a girdle…). Many of the leading Calvinists I know of wouldn’t be caught dead in either. I have an idea of who Young is referring to (or trying to refer to), but I can’t help but wonder why he won’t just come out and name them? If they’re really that dangerous and evil, why not say their name so that the audience can avoid their evil teachings?

Then, in an effort to completely prove he’s clueless, Young spits out a witty little catchphrase. He tells his people that “Reformed theology can lead to a deformed ecclesiology”. He then needs to repeated so that he won’t get “misquoted”. I think that he just wanted to hear himself talk more in all honesty. Ecclesiology is the doctrine of the church. It deals with how it is formed, who leads it, how it is governed, and the impact it should have on the world. So basically what Young is saying is that if there is a church that holds to Reformed theological beliefs, it is a deformed church that doesn’t have the right understanding of what church is and will not reach anyone. Sure, Young says “most” when he talks about Calvinistic churches not reaching anyone, but I bet the ones that Young would consider compatible with his view of ecclesiology are few in number. I also think that this rant is fueled, at least in part, by events that took place at the SBC convention this year (this came out two weeks after a sermon on the “sinner’s prayer” by David Platt).

So, Young says that Calvinistic churches “don’t reach anyone”. Ironically, he then says in the very next breath that the young people in his church are “prey” for Calvinistic churches. So obviously these evil churches are reaching someone, and while Young would probably disagree with me, I can’t help but think that they’re reaching the lost in Young’s own church. Young also says that Calvinists are “pimping God” and using God to lure the young people. Pimping God? Seriously? I find it telling that Young doesn’t give any examples of how this is done and just leaves it up to the listeners imagination. And, they do this God pimping so that they don’t have to reach people that are dying and going to hell. And yet, it is appealing to the young people in his church at least some of whom are most likely in that category. But, Calvinism isn’t appealing to them because it makes much more sense theologically or that it is biblically supported. Nope. Calvinism is appealing because it’s “sexy and cool”. I’m laughing out loud here. Calvinism is neither “sexy” nor “cool”. But, as pointed out earlier, Young doesn’t give any honest representation of or detailed critique of Calvinism for two reasons. One, I don’t think that he can. He boasts about his preaching, his knowledge of the scriptures, and understanding of the original languages but shows no evidence that any of this has any weight or merit. Two, I don’t think that he cares. From what I’ve seen of Young, he isn’t concerned with the state of his flock or their honest growth in truth. He’s only concerned about building his own kingdom and keeping his sheep in line so that they give their money.

Young then mocks the Calvinists and talks about his belief in election. No explanation or logical link to what he’s just said. He says that he believes in election, but I wonder if it’s the biblical definition of election or one he’s made up or borrowed from a non-Calvinist? He says that he not only believes in election, but also in choice. So, if I’m understanding this correctly, Young believes that God elects those who are eventually saved, but does so based on their choice. This is not a biblical doctrine or something that makes any sense logically. But, because Young is such a highly educated scholar (said with tongue firmly planted in cheek), he knows something that hundreds of years of Calvinists have somehow missed that allows this view to actually be true. He then mocks Calvinists again by saying their view of election puts God in a box. It couldn’t be because it’s what God has truly revealed in His Word. I think one of the weirdest parts of this is the laugh that follows this section. It’s not a light-hearted laugh. It’s a condescending laugh.

Why are these people so mean-spirited, most of them? Why are they so Pharisetical? You know why? It leads to that. I’ve got God figured out. I don’t have to walk across the street and share my faith. I don’t have to get uncomfortable and plan the church not only for believers but unbelievers. I’ll just be comfortable. No wonder the young people like it. It’s sexy and cool. I’m learning stuff. Ahhh….just relaxing. I can wear my skinny jeans, my V-neck shirts. Oh, I can take a missions trip to a far away land. I’m not gonna share my faith with the guy I know who’s hooked on porn. I’m not going to invite my friend who’s away from God to church. I’m not going to pray high-risk prayers for people who don’t know that Lord. But, put me on a mission trip, man. I’ll be handing out water. Helping to build wells. The social gospel. It’s all about social injustice. Whoa, whoa, whoa. Time out. The social gospel. I’m all up in that. But, let’s make sure to bring the gospel into the social. I don’t think you heard me. See, it’s cool…politically correct. ‘I’m gonna build a well!’ Rah-rah-rah. That’s great. We do stuff like that all the time. You better bring the gospel over into it. And when they say gospel, they – being the Reformed movement – who I would argue often leads to a deformed ecclesiology; when they say gospel, they don’t mean the same gospel we do. It’s different. Do you see what I’m saying to you?”

Let me get this straight. Young just called Calvinists a number of different names and imply that they are wicked and evil people but it’s the Calvinists that are mean-spirited? How exactly does that work? Not only are they mean-spirited, they’re Pharisetical (sic – I think that he means Pharisaical…). His response to why they’re this way? Their beliefs lead them to this position. Now remember, he hasn’t given any actual evidence to support the theory he’s shoveling out there or explained why their beliefs have no basis in scripture. All he’s done is make false claims and spent the rest of the time mocking the people themselves.

Young then goes on a tirade of more false statements and premises. He paints Calvinists as people who think they have God figured out. He claims that their beliefs bring them to the point that they don’t feel they have to share their faith. What’s funny is that after Young has talked about Reformed theology leading to a deformed ecclesiology, he talks about how he plans church for both believers and non-believers. There’s nothing in scripture that presents the church as being for anyone other than believers. There is nothing about having goats in the church or planning the services for them. What exactly is he planning for them? What parts of the service are specifically meant for unbelievers? None of this matters though. He’s too busy mocking Calvinists and their (unproven) self-centeredness to actually see his own. Wait…did someone say something about a log in his eye? The tirade continues with many other “quotes” that supposedly represent the Calvinistic views. They just want to be comfortable, they just want to learn stuff, they don’t want to share their faith with those around them, they don’t want to pray “high-risk prayers” (whatever those are…), they would rather go on mission trips to far away places, hand out water, and dig wells.

He them tries to pin the whole “social gospel/social injustice” idea on Calvinists showing yet again that he has absolutely no clue what Calvinism really is. He mocks them again about building wells and then says something that is a major indictment against Calvinists that he fails (surprise!) to back up. Young says that when Reformed Christians talk about the gospel, they are talking about a different gospel. They aren’t preaching the real gospel, they’re preaching a false one. Paul says in Galatians that anyone who preaches a gospel different than the one that he preached is accursed. So Calvinists are accursed according to Young. This would make them false Christians….

What they believe is that the elect are the elect and you’re the elect, good for you. But if you’re not the elect, whoo, you’re going to hell. So why do I really have to work on thinking about people who are far away from God and going to hell? But the Bible tells me, in John 3:16, For God so loved the world, that whoever ….I said it again. Whosoever. Whosoever. Whosoever. Whosoever keeps me up at night. Whosoever causes us to build other campuses. Whosoever causes us to serve a million meals to kids in Haiti last year and share the gospel. Whosoever caused us to spend tens of millions of dollars at Alaso Ranch for people without Jesus. [People start clapping, cheering, and standing] Don’t you use God! Don’t you blaspheme the name of God! And use God not to reach people for Jesus Christ! And if you don’t like this message there are the exits. [Entire congregation now clapping and standing and shouting] There are many, many churches in this area that would love to have you. We’re not into comfort. We wanna be comfortably uncomfortable. If you believe it, clap your hands and give me a shout!”

Young continues to show his ignorance of Reformed theology. The Reformed doctrine of election is not as trite as Young presents it. The doctrine of election isn’t an excuse to not evangelize even though Young paints it that way. If understood rightly, it should drive people to evangelize more! But Young’s goal doesn’t seem to be an honest presentation of Calvinism. Instead, he’s doing what any self-serving, self-centered, self-righteous, seeker-sensitive pastor needs to do to keep his large flock and even larger offering. He’s just whipping up the audience and throwing them red meat. Notice that the only thing that Young even presents about election is a straw man argument that has no sound basis in either Reformed theology or in scripture.

The doctrine of election is deeply tied to both the doctrine of God and the doctrine of man. Because God is sovereign, He is in complete control of every atom in the universe. Nothing can take place without Him. This is usually taken in a lopsided way when non-Reformed (NR) people try to present Reformed theology. Usually, NR Christians say that if God is completely sovereign over everything, then that makes God the author of evil. This only shows the clear lack of critical thinking, logic, and exegesis of scripture. God is sovereign and, because of this, He can act in two ways. God can either actively cause something to take place or he can passively allow something to take place. Obviously, if God passively allows something to happen He is not the author of it but He is still tied to it because it wouldn’t have happened if He didn’t allow it. If we only take this part by itself, we can paint God as a monster and man as a victim of a tyrant. However, if we take this together with the doctrine of man, things are seen more clearly. Man is conceived in sin and his nature is corrupted by this sin to the point that Paul calls him dead in his sins and trespasses. Because of sin’s corruption, man cannot do anything in and of himself to do anything that is spiritually good. Not only is man not able to do so, because of his sinful nature corrupting everything about him, man has no desire to do so. He doesn’t desire the things of God. He doesn’t seek after God.

The doctrine of election says that God has chosen, out of all men that have ever lived, a specific group of sinful, rebellious men to save from His wrath and eternity in hell. God has not done this due to anything in the man. It is not because He looked down the corridors of time and saw that the man would choose Him. It is not because of the man’s faith in God (an unregenerate man has no faith and no ability to generate/muster up faith on his own). God chooses these elect because of His own good pleasure. These elect are set apart from the rest of the world and will, at the appointed time, hear the gospel, be regenerated, believe in Christ, and be saved. Those that are not elect will not receive these gifts from God and will instead be allowed by God to continue in their sinful way and will end up in hell where they will suffer for their sins for all eternity. One thing that is rarely talked about is that God will be glorified by both outcomes. Those that are saved will glorify God because of the grace that God gave them. Those that go to hell will glorify God because God was just in punishing sin. There is much more to the doctrine of election, but this is the general doctrine. Much different than what Young presents isn’t it?

This part of the “sermon” also exposes Young’s horrible exegesis of scripture again. Later on we’ll see as Young brags about knowing the “Hebrew and the Greek”. Seeing how he handles John 3:16, I have to wonder how true that is? Young does what many NR pastors and teachers do when talking about this passage of scripture. They focus on one word – whosoever. They often overemphasize the word as if that’s the point of the verse and of Jesus’ ministry and purpose on the planet. Whosoever. Whosoever. The ironic thing about this is the fact that Young is emphasizing a word that isn’t even there in the Greek text. Yep. That’s right. The word whosoever isn’t there. Instead, what we see there is a phrase: pas ha pisteuon. The phrase means “everyone believing”. So, if we take the entire verse as it’s written, we see that God sent His Son so that everyone believing in Him will have eternal life. It is those who believe that have eternal life. Not whosoever. But who cares about proper exegesis when it’s obvious that scripture doesn’t have a high place in your ministry anyway.

What also strikes me is the loooong list of accomplishments that Young goes on to list. They build other campuses. They fed a million meals to kids in Haiti. They gave “tens of millions of dollars” to Alaso Ranch. I realize now why this bothers me:

“Beware of practicing your righteousness before men to be noticed by them; otherwise you have no reward with your Father who is in heaven…”So when you give to the poor, do not sound a trumpet before you, as the hypocrites do in the synagogues and in the streets, so that they may be honored by men. Truly I say to you, they have their reward in full.“But when you give to the poor, do not let your left hand know what your right hand is doing,so that your giving will be in secret; and your Father who sees what is done in secret will reward you. (Matthew 6:1-4)

The boastful attitude that Young has is par for the course for his type of megachurch pastor. It is part of the facade that he has to keep up. He has to keep bragging about what they are doing and how much and how awesome it is because that is what it’s all about. He is both the CEO and head cheerleader of the church. He must continually pump up those following him and come up with bigger, bolder, and more earthly entertainments to please the audience. If he doesn’t, then he’ll lose his people, his money, and his prestige. That’s why scripture has such a low value to Ed Young Jr.

After the poor exegesis, he whips up the audience and tells Calvinists not to blaspheme God. Really? This man who has done much to blaspheme God’s name and bring God down to man’s level while raising man to God’s level has the audacity to tell Calvinists not to blaspheme God? And to do so after presenting a straw man misrepresentation of what Calvinists actually believe? It’s absolutely pathetic. The best bit of advice that Young gives in this message is right here: “There are the exits.” If you are in Young’s church and you don’t like what he says or how he does things then there are the exits. And I beg you to run for them and never come back. Young’s theological slip is showing here though. He makes it clear that it’s not about God at all. Instead, it’s about Young and his carnival-like sideshow of worldly pleasures. He’s going to run his church the way that he wants to and if you don’t like it, you’re not welcome. They don’t want you. You are too lazy and want “comfort” instead of whatever snake oil that Young offers. This will become funny here in a minute….

Please sit down. Please sit down. I’m telling you, man. I’ve dealt with this stuff my entire life. It’s nothing new. This ain’t nothing new. I’m just telling you that’s a fact. But I believe in election and I believe in choice. You’re telling me you’ve got that figured out? It’s killing the church. Whenever you go to a church…because many of us move every 5 years, I understand that. Mobile society, I understand that. Whenever you go to a church, always as yourself this question. Who are they reaching. Let me say that again. Whenever you go to a church, always look, who are they reaching. Because a lot of church growth is simply [sheep noise], swapping sheeple. And we have these cool, hip, Calvinistic, Reformed churches taking little, young 18, 19, 20-something-year-old, impressionable college kids who want to go deeper – no, they want laziness because they don’t want to work. See? See? Let’s bring them in to the fold. Most of these churches are reaching offspring. Christian church kids who didn’t grow up in a church to reach people anyway. So, again, we all move towards comfort, I understand that. And we wanna capture God. I’ll say it again, God’s gotten out of every box I’ve tried to put Him in.”

He’s right. The debate between Calvinism and Arminianism is nothing new. It has gone on for over 500 years. And has been debated by men who are MUCH more qualified that Young will ever be. Young says that he’s dealt with Calvinism his entire life. Really? What has he written on Calvinism? When has he debated against Calvinists? When has he even given an honest and truthful representation of what Calvinism is? Young says that he believes in election and he believes in choice, implying I guess that Calvinists don’t. That’s not true either. Calvinists believe in both election and choice and if Young actually knew what Calvinism taught and cared about being honest, he would know that. Getting the correlation between election and choice “figured out” is not hard when you start with what scripture says and build your theology on what God Himself has revealed.

Young then starts to reveal what the underlying problem may be. He talks about church people moving every 5 years and how we should look at what people and how many people that new church is reaching. Remember, it’s all about numbers. It’s all about being seeker-sensitive and “reaching” the lost with events and outrageous stunts. He then says that a lot of what we see as church growth is actually just people moving from one church to another. This again shows Young’s selfish motives. The implication is that no other church is as good as Young’s church. They do it right (which we’ll see Young get into in a minute) and they “reach” thousands. The question shouldn’t be who they reach. The questions should be: “Are they biblical sound in their doctrine? Do they have a respect for the Holy Scriptures? Do they have a biblical view and understanding of the church and a desire to evangelize the people around them with the true, scriptural gospel of Jesus Christ?”

And then Young gets into what I think is the burr in his saddle. He talks about “hip, cool, Calvinistic, Reformed churches” taking away the poor, little, innocent, stupid 18-20 year old sheep. They are stealing the “impressionable college kids who want to go deeper”. But, Young then clarifies what he thinks “going deeper” means. It’s not maturing in the faith through a study of scripture. It’s being lazy and not wanting to do the amazing things that Young does. This is an affront to those “impressionable church kids”. Young must have a searing hatred for Calvinism to talk about his sheep this way. It seems that there are young people in his church who couldn’t stomach anymore of Young’s shallow, self-centered sermons and moved to a Reformed church where scripture was held up high and was taught correctly and exegetically. I have to wonder if these young people went from Young’s church to Matt Chandler’s church? Chandler is a well-known Reformed pastor in the Dallas area.

I believe in the sovereignty of God, I believe in election, I believe in the inerrancy of Scripture, I believe in the priesthood of the believers, I believe in baptism by immersion…but I also believe that we keep on nominating them and God keeps on electing them. I don’t know who the chosen ones are. You don’t either. Somewhere in it, we have a freedom of choice. I don’t understand it. I don’t understand it, nor do you or will you. And they don’t either.

Young says that he believes in God’s sovereignty. He says that he believes in election, the inerrancy of scripture, the priesthood of believers, and baptism by immersion. Why does he feel the need to say this? Is it because these are the reasons those college kids gave for leaving? He then says that he believes that his church “keeps nominating them and God keeps electing them”. Where is this in scripture? Where does it say that we come before God and say, “Lord, this one should be elect” and God says, “Ok, I’ll elect them”? Doesn’t that mean that man is above God? Isn’t God just responding to what man says/does instead of sovereignly decreeing what will come to pass?

Young is right in saying that he doesn’t know who the elect are, but I don’t understand why he says this. If he keeps nominating them and God elects them, why doesn’t he know? He knows who he’s nominating. He obviously knows that God is going to elect them. So he has no excuse for not knowing the elect does he? He then says that somewhere in all of this is the idea that man has a free choice. This is the Arminian view of salvation. But, he doesn’t give any explanation of why man has this free choice, how this free choice fits in with God’s sovereignty, or any scriptural support of this idea. He says that Calvinists don’t understand it any more than he does, but I beg to differ. If we start with scripture and look at what God has revealed in the text it is pretty clear…

But again see? They use God not to reach people. Do you understand that. So you better run if you meet someone like that. But I’m telling you, those people prey on believers all over the world. And it’s ruining the church. Are they all bad? No, they’re not all bad. They just don’t reach anybody. Last year at Fellowship Church, we baptized 2, 632 people. One of the fair-haired boys of this movement, I will not call his name. They baptized 26 people last year. [drops mic – clapping]. Oh, he’s deep. What are you smokin’? Are you kidding me? I could not put my head on a pillow at night knowing that our church has baptized 26 people. I could talk over your head like that. I know the Hebrew, the Greek, I’ve done theology. You can tell I know. What do I want you guys to do? Leave and go, “Man, Ed’s so smart. I don’t know what he’s talking about. It was a great theology class.

Here we see Young begin to go into overdrive simultaneously beating up the straw man he’s created and beating his own drum. He tells his flock to run from anyone who holds a Calvinistic viewpoint. I find that sad and funny at the same time. He doesn’t tell them to hold a discussion with them or to reason with them from the scriptures to see if they are in the truth. He doesn’t tell them to preach the gospel to them because they preach a false gospel and are leading others away from God. Nope. None of that. Just run away. The Calvinists are like vampires in Young’s view. They prey on believers everywhere. They’re just lurking at the edge of the shadows waiting for a NR believer to step out of their church so that they can sink their Calvinistic doctrines into the unsuspecting NR person in order to steal them away from Young’s church. And in doing so, they are ruining the church. You know, because Christ really isn’t the head of the church and has absolutely no influence on her whatsoever.

Young then goes into one of the most self-absorbed, braggadocios statements in the entire message (which is saying a lot for Young). He talks about how Fellowship Church baptized 2, 632 people last year. Is this supposed to be impressive? Does Young have the right to brag about this? Isn’t it God who should be getting the glory for all of it? The sad thing is, the numbers don’t mean anything if the people heard Young’s shallow version of the gospel and are false converts. I wonder if they keep track of how many people stay in the church and in the faith after they “reached” them? He compares their 2, 632 baptisms to “one of the fair-haired boys of the [Calvinist] movement” and his 26 baptisms. I have a feeling I know who he is talking about here and if I’m right, I would say that the 26 who were baptized are soundly saved and will definitely know that they are saved. I wonder if Young can say that about 26 of his 2, 632?

I have to ask though: If Young thinks that Calvinism is wrong and believes that this “fair-haired boy” is not doing things right, why is he afraid to call him out on it? Why won’t he name the man’s name? I have no problem calling out Ed Young Jr. He is a false teacher and should be treated as such. The venom and malice that Young shows though in dropping the mic, mockingly clapping, and asking “what are you smoking?” is uncalled for by a man who is supposed to be a pastor. He says that he couldn’t sleep at night knowing that they had only baptized 26 people. I couldn’t sleep at night knowing that a pastor baptized 2, 632 people and the majority of them may be false converts. Why does Young attack the pastor for the 26 saved like it’s not enough instead of praising God for 26 souls being saved? Young then says that it’s obvious that he knows the Hebrew and the Greek and could talk over their heads (ahem…). If this is the case, he hides it very well. I believe he then takes another pot shot at the “fair-haired boy”. He talks about how he could make his messages deep like a theology class and that people would think that he’s so smart, but people wouldn’t be able to understand what he was saying. Really? Is that the problem in the church today? I disagree. As a matter of fact, I think that one of the many issues today in many churches is the fact that the “pastors” dumb down the scriptures under the guise of making them understandable instead of teaching the depth of scripture and challenging the flock to grow in their understanding of scripture.

Yeah, I think we’re going on a mission trip to Pretoria, South Africa. That’ll be great. We’re building wells.” How about your neighbor who’s going to hell, who’s living with this person? How about this other person who’s in shambles in depression? How about this other person that has questions about God? Well, they’re not the elect, you know, so I’m looking forward….I’m gonna really, really do the stuff when I go on the mission trip.

Yet another straw man by Young that reveals his ignorance of Calvinism. Young is implying that Calvinists (you do remember that this is about Calvinism right?) don’t care about their neighbors or about their friends and family. They only really care about evangelizing on mission trips. The lack of honesty that Young shows is not surprising seeing how he handles scripture, but it is deplorable that so many blindly follow him…

See? This is hard. I know how to do church to empty out these churches in Dallas-Fort Worth. I know how to do it. Take me outta the game. We have the most talented people of any church I know of. We could wipe out these churches. Again, with this navel-gazing, I’ll flip off the community, you can go to hell, and we’ll just have a ginormous Kum-by-a chruch. I know how to do it guys. I know how to do it. But, I’m not gonna do it. Do you know why? Do you know why? Because the bookends of Christ’s ministry started, He said, “Fish!” Right before the ascension, “Fish!” We’re not gonna be a gearhead church. Do you know what a gearhead is? A gearhead, in fishing terminology, is someone who is so into the gear but they hardly ever fish. We’ve got a lot of gearhead churches.

Young has to continue building straw men of the Calvinist position because he has no real argument against the doctrines of grace. He has no ability (even though he knows the Hebrew and Greek and can talk over our heads) to present scripture for his position or scripture against the Calvinist position that is rightly divided and in context. I do think, however, that Young has rightfully express his own position pretty well. If anyone is guilty of navel-gazing, “flipping off the community”, and having “a ginormous Kumbya church” it is Young himself. He does know how to do it and he does it well, contrary to what he professes. He says that he “fishes” for the lost. Really? Is that what he calls the messages that he gives? Is that we he calls the worldly events that he puts on that really don’t have a whole lot to do with Christ, the truth, or salvation? He claims that his church is not a “gearhead church”. They aren’t so caught up with the gear that they fail to fish. I wonder if this is true though. They may not be caught up in some things, but they sure seem to be caught up in others. Young consistently preaches a Word of Faith message. He talks about luxury and extravagance and uses it in his sermons (even driving a ferrari onto the stage). He sure seems to also be caught up in what his church is doing and how awesome they are with no glory to God for what happens in his church or in other churches.

This’ll come up on Youtube. You know what? Of all the social media attacks…and we’re attacked constantly at Fellowship Church and churches like us here and around the world. Almost all of them are from Reformed churches and Calvinistic churches. Almost all of them. All of the negative blogs. All of the negative stuff. Almost all of them. Blogs – Basement Living, Opinion Giving. 20-somethings and 30-somethings, sitting in their underwear, still living in their parent’s house talking negative crap about people reaching others.

Are Calvinist churches really the majority of the attacks? How does Young measure this? How can he know for sure that the majority of attacks come from Biblically based NR churches that think that he’s wrong? He attacks Calvinist bloggers and churches for criticizing him and his church like the only thing they have to do is to focus on him and what he does and how they disagree with him. Did I mention that Young is self-centered? He then calls Calvinist bloggers (does this include people like Phil Johnson, Dan Phillips, and others) basement living, opinion giving (B.L.O.G..get it?) 20-/30-something writers sitting in their underwear in their parents house talking badly (yes he really said that word on the stage) about people like Young who are “reaching people”. Is that really what is happening? Did you notice that Young never says what they say about him? Does he not have the ability to respond because they’re right?

And you know what? I’ve talked to some of the leaders of this movement, they don’t have the guts, because they’ll go…like behind closed doors…’Yeah, man, I really think what’s happening at this church and whatever is great, and I’m sorry for that’. I go, ‘Man, if you have the guts’, but they don’t, ‘step up publicly in social media and apologize..[clapping]… for all of the darts you throw our way’. But, I don’t have time to call names, I don’t have time to get into this. But I’m just giving you this as a warning. This is a warning. This is gonna help you and equip you with the stuff to go, ‘Man, that sounds good’, and there’s a lot of good to it but it’s just, at the end of the day, reformed is deformed, most of it. Most of it. And I’m sure they’ll edit that out and and say that I said just the opposite. But I have friends who are Calvinists. Some Calvinists are actually evangelistic. Most are not. Most of it leads to intellectual snobbery, meanness, and people who don’t give a flyin’ flip about those going to hell.”

Here again we see Young talk about some Calvinists who say things behind closed doors but won’t do so out in public. And we see, again, that Young won’t (I think can’t is a better term) name names. Young paints himself as the victim of the “darts” (doesn’t scripture say that the devil throws fiery darts at us [Eph. 6:16]?) thrown by Calvinists. I think that is a feeble and pathetic stance to be taken by someoen who was bold enough to publicly misrepresent Calvinism and mock other pastors without naming them. Why does Young not consider those statements “darts”? He calls Reformed theology deformed but gives no sound theological explanation as to why he believes Reformed theology is deformed. He does say most of Reformed theology is deformed, but where did he give any distinction or differences? He seems to lump all Calvinists together. He calls most of them “intellectual snobs who don’t give a ‘flying flip’ about people who go to hell”, but isn’t Young acting in the same snobbish way he decries in his treatment of Calvinism and Calvinists?

Number 3! Enough of that. We cannot manage God. We cannot use God. We cannot capture God. We cannot manage God. Oh, I can manage Him. I got Him in a box. I’ll take care of Him. That’s what the Philistines tried to do. It didn’t work. Rats. Tumors in places we will not mention. You know what they did? They sent the cart back to God’s people. Put a bunch of cows in front of it. [cow sound]. You know, I’m working on the Sound Effects Bible. It’ll take me a couple years to do it, but it’s coming out. And the cart [cow sound, then cart sound], rolled all the way back to the Israelites. But check this out. This is unbelievable. The Philistines made golden tumors and put it on the cart. They made golden rats and put it on the cart. They said, ‘Get this crazy stuff outta here!’ And it was gone. They tried to manage God. You can’t have some second-hand religion, right? You can’t surf in the wake of someone walking with God.”

Young continues to mock the Calvinist by implying that they put God “in a box” (one of the many cliches that I’m tired of…). That they can manage God or determine what God must do in His sovereign position over the universe. This image created by Young is more compatible with his own view of salvation than the Calvinistic view. Young’s view is anthropocentric. It revolves around man and his free will rather than the truth found in scripture. He then compares the Calvinist to the pagan Philistines who tried to place themselves above God. I’m not quite sure how this shows a “second-hand religion” unless he’s implying that the Philistines were trying to use the ark to gain the power of God (which is not what they were doing).

He then says that “you can’t ‘surf in the wake’ of someone walking with God”. So let me get this straight. I can’t follow after someone who is walking after God? I can’t learn from them or grow in Christ because of what they’re doing or how they’re living? Someone older in the faith can’t mentor me or guide me as a younger Christian? Didn’t Paul say: “Be imitators of me; just as I am of Christ” (1 Cor. 11:1)? Why doesn’t Young have a problem with Paul encouraging others to “surf in his wake”?

And I have here in my margin a great point I read. ‘So often certain people don’t respond to Biblical truth until there’s personal pain.’ I’ve gotta amen myself again. You missed it. Let me….stand up for a second….just stand up for a second. MAN! THAT WAS AWESOME! I WASN’T PAYING ATTENTION. I WAS TEXTING AND MAKING RESERVATIONS FOR BRUNCH. WHAT DID YOU SAY AGAIN? ‘So often certain people don’t respond to Biblical truth until there’s personal pain.’ OH, I LIKE IT! THAT’S AWESOME! That’s what I thought…I just…See, so often, if I’m used to preaching in black churches, I just expect it. But I understand. It’s a different world, man. Don’t take this the wrong way but when I die and go to heaven I’ll be on the African-American side of heaven. My email is….anyway. We gotta loosen up. Wow, it’s alright. I’ve dealt with it my whole life.

These have to be the most some infantile actions that I’ve seen from a “senior pastor”. Is it necessary to “amen yourself”. Are you that self-absorbed that you think that it’s your preaching style and method that makes the truth powerful? And then, to bring up “black churches” or an “African-American side of heaven” all under the guise of loosening up. It’s ridiculous…but not surprising.

But isn’t that true? We don’t respond, right? We don’t respond to Biblical truth unless there’s personal pain. Why wait for the pain? Why wait? Why wait? When we try to use God and put these God stickers on us, we’re playing around with fire, man. He’s in the business of orchestrating our defeat. He’s in the business of allowing us to hit the wall. Think about so many characters in scripture. Think about Jonah. You run away from God and you run right into God. We can’t use God. But God can use us! We can’t capture God, but God can and wants to capture us. We can’t manage God, but God wants to manage us. So let’s spit out the Cool Aid, wipe off that Cool Aid mustache, and drink the living water. Let’s understand holiness, and righteousness, and let’s live our lives as a spiritual act of worship as we change this culture and this world for the lordship of Jesus Christ. [Congregation standing to their feet and clapping]

Is this true for Christians or just for Young’s church? I know of many godly men and women who have very little problem responding to Biblical truth without pain. Are there times where sin is allowed to pull us away from that truth? Of course. But that’s a Biblical view and can be shown in scripture. It’s not a pithy quote that will be up on Sermon Audio for sale in the next week. Are we “playing with fire” when we try to use God? It depends on what you understand to be the truth concerning those who are saved and the nature of those people. If you understand the scriptural truth of the nature of the regenerate soul, then you find Young’s understanding weak.

Young then says that God is in the business of orchestrating our defeat. Is God really sitting up in heaven waiting for us to mess up? Is he a diving lightning bolt thrower looking for us to make a mistake so that he can light us up? It is true that God will chastise His children and will allow their sins to bring pain and hurt in an effort to draw us back to Him. However, this is only for Christians. This does not apply to the unsaved. At this point though, it doesn’t seem to be about logical reasoning and truth. He’s whipped up the audience again and there’s no need for those other things…

If you’re with the vision God’s given us, stand up at all of our campuses and give a crazy praise to the Lord Himself….everyone standing, no one moving at all. If you move you’re disrupting the holiness of God. No movement unless it’s an emergency. Some of you here need to pray and give your lives to Christ. Bow your heads for just a moment. Every head is bowed and every eye is closed. Some of you need to give your lives to Christ right now. I’m gonna lead you in this nomination process and God will elect you [snaps fingers]. Just say these words. Now, I’m gonna get everybody at all of our campuses to say these words with you. I’ve said these words before. I’m a believer. All it takes is one time. But I want all of us to say this prayer as an encouragement, as a template so to speak, for many others who are saying it for the first time. Maybe it’s somebody to your right, maybe someone to your left, I don’t know; maybe someone down front. Many people need to pray this prayer, because, if the truth were known, you’re living like hell. You need heaven, you need Jesus. No playing games, no rabbit’s foot, no tshirts or coffee mugs “Jesus is my homeboy”. We give our lives to Him. Just say this prayer with me:

Young abruptly goes from “crazy praise” to the Lord to what would be considered an altar call. He goes from telling them to stand up and make crazy praise to telling them that nobody should move unless it’s an emergency. He makes a blanket statement about how some need to pray and “give their lives to Christ”. Is this how salvation happens? That we give our lives to Christ. How nice of us to allow Christ to have our lives. He has everyone do the highly predictable “every head down, every eye closed” position that indicates that it’s time for some self reflection. He then says that he’s going to lead them in the “nomination process” so that God will elect them. How does he know that they’re elect? Is it because they said the “sinner’s prayer”?

Or, is it because they’re being emotionally manipulated? That’s exactly what this is and Charles Finney would be proud. The phrasing and emotional cues that Young uses are so cliché and worn out that it’s not funny. The “invitation” is so generic and vanilla that it’s hard to understand how anyone could understand their need for a Savior or their sin and how wicked they are with the things that Young has “preached” in this message. But Young seems to think it’s enough, so he leads them in this prayer:

God…[points to the audience who can’t see him because their eyes are closed..]…’God’”

At this point in the “sermon” and after all of the ranting and raving about how awesome Young is and how well he could do it, this made me laugh hysterically….

[silence]

Say it again. God,”

[I don’t hear anyone repeating it….]

I believe that you sent Jesus Christ to die on the cross for my sins. Right now, I turn from my sins and ask you, Jesus Christ, to come into my life. I give you everything I am and everything I’ll ever be. Thank You for rescuing me, for forgiving me, and giving me life eternally. In Jesus’ Name. Amen.”

When did Young actually talk about sins? When did he explain the personal, sinful nature that all of those listening have that puts them at emnity with God and therefore brings His judgment upon them. Even the prayer that he leads them in seems anthropocentric. It is man who is in control of Christ having their life and entering into it.

Let’s give a crazy round of applause for so many people who made that decision. For God so loved the world that whosoever….whosoever…whosoever. Please be seated.. If you prayed that prayer, we want to hear from you right now, just pound your name to 32898. Pound your name to 32898 and we’ll get back to you so quick you won’t believe it. Also, if you’re watching by television or you’re watching online, Fellowshiplive.com, make sure to log on that as you travel and go on vacations this summer, you can do the same…

Young ends with the necessary megachurch blah blah blah including a text number and a website. He applauds those who “made a decision” but for what? For being in control of their salvation? For making a choice based on emotionalism to follow Christ to the best of their ability without an actual understanding of their sinful nature or why they need a Savior? So all of these hundreds of people that “made a decision” are being commended for praying a prayer? How does that soundly save anyone? This is a tragedy that is all to familiar in a number of churches across the country. Until we can begin to stand up and preach the truth and call out “men” like Young, we will suffer from generations of professing Christians who have no ability to defend their faith and may not even be saved….

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