Ed Young Junior of Fellowship Church made news this Sunday for his absurd rant against Calvinism that he gave as his “sermon” this week. His argument is a total strawman, and even then I think it got a few hits in on him before he took it down.
His rant lead to a lot of discussion about his theology he holds to and the effects of it.
Calvinists believe that “salvation is of the Lord.” That is, that God does all the work in regards to a person coming to repentance and faith for the forgiveness of their sins. God the Father sent His Son to die in our place, God elects who will be saved, and the Holy Spirit carries out the work of regenerating the heart of the sinner and giving them faith so they will repent and trust in Christ the Savior.
The Arminian view differs somewhat in that they believe that at the regeneration stage the sinner is restored to the point that they can choose whether to repent and trust in Christ. Thus, ultimately the sinner can still choose to defy God and not be saved.
The Arminian view still credits God with most of the work in salvation, but tries to maintain a semblance of man’s free will.
When the Arminian view isn’t taught correctly, or more commonly, isn’t really taught at all in churches that hold to it. People tend to start believing in something different, that is Pelagianism. This heretical view believes that man, by his own volition, can choose to repent and trust Christ on his own at any time, or rather can choose to obey God at any time.
In evangelism Pelagians and many Arminians tend to try to do the work of the Holy Spirit themselves, believing that it is their job to convince a man to repent and trust the Savior. Victory for them tends to end in convincing someone to repeat an unbiblical “sinner’s prayer” to “ask Jesus into their hearts” and then they are affirmed in their salvation by the pastor who lead them in this prayer. Where is the Holy Spirit in this? Hopefully he convicted their hearts and regenerated them that they may repent and believe. But, typically there is little concern for true contrition.
When this is combined with a misunderstanding of the purpose of the church service, the church service becomes a time of evangelism rather than a time of feeding and equipping the saints.
This leads to what is known as the “seeker driven church.” Ed Young’s church is a fine example of what a seeker driven church is. It is a church for the unchurched, that is, a church for the purpose of evangelism to the unconverted and not for the saints.
Unfortunately, unbelievers don’t tend to have the desire to sit under solid biblical preaching. You know, because they haven’t been regenerated and all that. They are by nature haters of God, so hearing Christ preached to them just doesn’t really fit with their desires.
To combat this the seeker driven churches tend to stop preaching Christ, ignore the proper use of the Law (that is, to show our guilt and need for the Savior), and replace the Gospel with a system of works. To attract the unbelievers they try to be relevant and cool. For example, Ed Young believes that the way he dresses and the car he drives can influence who will come to his church. So, he wears a girdle and got Botox to make him more attractive, drove a Ferrari on the stage at his church to show how cool Jesus is, brought wild animals into the church as gimmicks for his sermons about the traits of these animals, does the “Baby Shark song” with his congregation as part of the sermon, and spends a night on the church roof with his wife to show people that they need to have more sex in their marriages. The typical seeker driven sermon allegorizes the biblical text to make it about the hearer, and gives practical life tips to make your life better.
The idea then is that if he can get people into the church with these gimmicks he can keep them there by entertaining them and get them to “follow Jesus” by being obedient. There is no need for the Holy Spirit in this work, because there is no Gospel, and no forgiveness of sins, just the command to obey a watered down version of the law and God will make your life better.