This morning I was inundated with a number of references to a sermon by a prominent Texas pastor. The fact that Ed Young says something controversial is not new. He has been in the news for bringing live animals up for his sermons and who could forget the whole 24-hour web chat from his bed, with his wife, atop his church building? Because of these types of stunts, I don’t pay much attention to what he is saying.
Today was different however. In the midst of a sermon he launched into a diatribe against Reformed Churches. His motto was that “Reformed Theology leads to Deformed Ecclesiology.” Can Reformed pastors afford to look in the mirror in light of the Scriptures? Yes. Absolutely. Do we have the corner market on the truth? Absolutely not.
At the same time, what Young said was truly troubling. Concerning his rant, Justin Taylor tweeted, “(it was) A sad mixture of prideful boasting and sinful slander against fellow pastors and brothers.”
But this is not the primary reason why I was troubled. My biggest offense was with what he said about the work of the Holy Spirit:
Are they all bad? No 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. (he then drops his hand-held mic on the floor and looks stunned). Oh, he’s deep. What are you smoking? Are you kidding me? I cannot put my head on the pillow at night knowing we baptized 26 people.
Without going too deep, the Bible seems to teach that conversion is directly tied to the work of the Holy Spirit. It is the same gracious, powerful, loving, God that brings 1 person to faith that brings 100 or 1,000 to faith. It was the same Holy Spirit that brought the Philippian Jailer to faith that brought Saul of Tarsus to faith, who also caused 3,000 to be converted on the Day of Pentecost. Whether 1 or 1,000, whether toddler or tyrant, whether home-schooler or hoodlum, it is all of grace and all of the power of the Holy Spirit.
The “fair-haired” boy who is leading the Reformed movement should be humbled and thankful for the evident work of grace in the life of those 26 people! If it was God in the 2,000, God in the 200, God in the 20, and God in the 2, then we must rejoice in his kindness!
And because of him you are in Christ Jesus, who became to us wisdom from God, righteousness and sanctification and redemption, so that, as it is written, “Let the one who boasts, boast in the Lord.” (1 Corinthians 1:30-31)
…What do you have that you did not receive? If then you received it, why do you boast as if you did not receive it? (1 Corinthians 4:7)
Ed Young should be ashamed for directly or indirectly belittling the evident work of the Holy Spirit. From my seat this would ironically undermine his premise of putting God in a box and far outrun any charges of theological pride, ecclesiological deformity, or missional lethargy.
May God forbid we ever despise the day of small things lest we find ourselves forgetting how small we really are and how big God and his blessings are.