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Ed Young Jr. and Proverbs 16:18

An SBC "mega-church" pastor weighs in on the evils of the Reformed faith with no clue what the Reformed faith is.
Ed Young Jr. and Proverbs 16:18

"Are you kidding me?"


A friend made the mistake of telling me about Dr. James White's Dividing Line program in which he critiques Pastor Ed Young Jr.'s condemnation of all things Calvinistic.  That program can be downloaded HERE.  I wasn't sure who Ed Young Jr. was because I was confusing him with his father Pastor Ed Young of 2nd Baptist of Houston, another SBC mega-church in Texas.

In Young Jr.'s presentation (because it could hardly be called a sermon), he says he has some friends who are Reformed.  I suspect he has a lot fewer now.  I certainly wouldn't count myself among them even if it were an option.  You can see his emotionally charged and fact-challenged angry rant HERE, entitled Cool-Aid - Part 4.  The rant encompasses approximately the last fifteen minutes of his "sermon".

What Mr. Young does here is provide us with yet another example of how those who say they despise Reformed Theology generally do not have any idea what Reformed Theology is.  They mischaracterize Calvinists and misrepresent the doctrines we hold so dear.  For example, according to Mr. Young, we Calvinists are so arrogant that we nearly universally claim, "I've got God in a box!"  This was repeated numerous times.  But it has been my observation that Calvinists of all Christians are more likely to be in utter awe and amazement of the greatness and inscrutableness of God.  Not only do we not have God in a box, rather we agree wholeheartedly with Solomon:

“But will God indeed dwell on the earth? Behold, heaven and the highest heaven cannot contain you; how much less this house that I have built!" (1 Kings 8:27 ESV)

Mr. Young also claims we Calvinists claim we have the doctrines of election and choice (i.e. free will) neatly tucked under our intellectual belts, having full understanding of how divine sovereignty and personal responsibility work simultaneously.  It is true that we talk a lot about these matters in positive terms far more often and with far more appreciation of them than the vast majority of other non-Reformed believers.  But I seriously doubt you could find a single credible Calvinist who would have the audacity to suggest he has God's mysterious methods and purposes in election all figured out.  Mr. Young's claims are nonsense.

He goes on to mention, all in the same breath, how there are Reformed and Calvinistic churches all over North America and the world that (emphatically) "don't reach anybody".  They "prey" on young believers with their "sexy" and "cool" Calvinism, all the while wearing V-necks and "skinny jeans" (which most Calvinists I know couldn't possibly fit into).  But they "don't reach anybody".  That isn't even a logical statement.  It is self-contradictory.  Apparently they're reaching somebody.  Where did these churches all over North America and the world come from?

With what could only be described as hateful mockery, he forces a scornful laugh at Calvinists and calls them "mean-spirited" and "pharisetical".  I'm not sure how to spell that because I don't think it is an actual word.  I assume he meant pharisaical.

Surely, there are those within the Calvinist camp who have not done a good job at all in presenting their understanding of the Doctrines of Grace with a modicum of grace.  We'd like to keep them locked up in a Protestant monastery until they grasp what the word "grace" means.  But in the case of Mr. Young, the proverbial shoe is most definitely on the other foot and it's about a size 18 EE.

Practically everything Mr. Young says during this performance is inaccurate to be sure, and in most cases, simply dishonest.  I will not address all the discrepancies, but one more, possibly the single most theologically bereft statement of the entire tirade, needs our attention.

With increasing derision (which is hardly possible at this point), Mr. Young speaks of the monumental success of his own church and the unconscionable failure of an unnamed Reformed church by comparing baptism statistics:

"Last year at Fellowship Church we baptized 2,632 people.  One of the fair-haired boys of this [Reformed] movement, . . . they baptized 26 people last year."

Then, in disbelief over the bleakness of the contrast between the two numbers, Mr. Young drops his microphone (for effect) and stares at his congregation of thousands in disgust and then says, "Are you kidding me?"

There are many, many people in leadership within the SBC who consider baptisms to be THE measure of success or failure in a ministry.  Baptism is equated with conversion, and according to Dr. James White, the average Southern Baptist is baptized 2.7 times in his/her lifetime, and all multiple baptisms are included in the statistics.  It is hard to resist the temptation to wonder if any of Fellowship Church's 2,632 baptisms were duplicate dunks.

The prophet Jeremiah was called by God to speak for Him to the people of Judah and "the nations".  We read in Jeremiah 1:9a these words:

Then the Lord put out his hand and touched my mouth.  And the Lord said to me, “Behold, I have put my words in your mouth."

Jeremiah spoke the very words of God to the people of Judah and Jerusalem for forty years.  When Jeremiah spoke, God spoke.  And according to what we see in the book of Jeremiah, over a period of forty years of ministry, he had two (with three fingers left over) converts.  In forty (40) years.  Obviously Jeremiah, whose speech was the very word of God, was a far more miserable evangelistic failure than even the "fair-haired" Calvinist Mr. Young spoke of.  I suppose one could say God Himself was a failure if conversion numbers are the measure of evangelical success.

But Jeremiah should consider himself blessed!  Noah was "a herald of righteousness" (2 Peter 2:5 ESV) who, as far as the text tells us, had ZERO converts (with five fingers left over).  No "baptisms" in 120 years!  How pathetic can you be?  (But on the other hand, I suppose we could say Noah baptized the entire human race.)

So the only logical conclusion, using Mr. Young's and the SBC's criteria for measuring success in evangelism, is that he and Fellowship Church have been more successful in one year of evangelistic ministry than the prophet Jeremiah, and all the other prophets of the Old Testament, and Noah, combined.

Why would anyone want to be a prophet if you were no more successful than Jeremiah or Noah?  I suspect their lack of success had something to do with inferior outreach methodologies.  Too bad they didn't have Mr. Young and the talented people of Fellowship Church to help them out way back then.  Maybe Noah would have filled that boat up with Baptists instead of animals.

Such vilification within the Southern Baptist Convention of anything that smells like Calvinism is immensely hypocritical and (dare I say) "mean-spirited".  This constant vituperation of all things Reformed by people who clearly have no grasp of what they are talking about is not only shameful and embarrassing, but in the case of Ed Young, Jr., sinful.

The Doctrines of Grace were born out of the clear teaching of Scripture.  John Calvin systematized those teachings which were largely adopted by the Dutch Reformed Church of the 1600's. Thus these biblical doctrines came to be popularly known as the Five Points of Calvinism.  They directly address the doctrines of salvation, or soteriology.  This is why they are so important.  If we do not have a clear understanding of the gospel message and of salvation, then all other biblical teaching seems relatively unimportant.

The Five Points were a biblical response to the Remonstrance of 1610 in Holland.  You can read more about it HERE and HERE. The reason we hold to them dearly is because they are entirely biblical and absolutely essential to have a right understanding of how God's work of salvation is entirely His work, "and not of ourselves, lest any should boast" (Ephesians 2:8&9 paraphrase).

The vast majority of the Protestant church in America in the early years of migration from Europe was markedly Calvinistic and Reformed.  The Puritans, the Congregationalists, the Baptists, and even the early Methodists were quite Reformed in their thinking.  But it is very interesting to note that the original Southern Baptists were also absolutely Reformed.  Much has been written about this and the truth of it is irrefutable.  The first presidents and faculty of Southern Seminary, formed in 1858, were required to be in agreement with The Abstract of Principles, an intentionally Calvinistic statement of faith.

So to have a mega-church pastor within the SBC ridicule Calvinists to scorn is a display of his own hatred and ignorance of the facts.  Ed Young, Jr. is, as James White says, either grossly ignorant of his own Baptist heritage and of Reformed theology in general, or he is simply lying.  And considering his own statements about his high degree of education, it is hard to imagine that with his accelerated comprehension of all things biblical, he would have virtually no real understanding of what Reformed theology actually teaches.

But such is the case.

So how does he draw such large crowds?  I'm not sure.  But it doesn't speak well of the crowds.  Mr. Young would do well to give attention to Proverbs 16:18 - Pride goes before destruction, and a haughty spirit before a fall.

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