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Megachurch pastor warns 'woke' Christians: Don't jump on 'cultural hype trains'

Megachurch pastor warns 'woke' Christians: Don't jump on 'cultural hype trains'

Pastor Ed Young | Courtesy of Ed Young

In today’s relativistic culture, far too many Christian leaders and pastors blindly jump on the “hype train” of what culture applauds without filtering it through the lens of Scripture.

That’s according to Ed Young, senior pastor of Fellowship Church, one of North America's most attended churches over the past decade with locations in Texas, Florida and Oklahoma. In an interview with The Christian Post, Young warned that too many Christians today are being “sucked into the vortex of a secular worldview.”

“‘Woke’ Christian leaders and pastors today are jumping on the ‘hype train’ of what culture is currently applauding,” he said. “But they don't really look at what the hype train is connected to. For example, many of the things culture applauds are connected to relativism, abortion, transgenderism, the breakup of the nuclear family.”

One example of the “hype train” many Christians have been far too eager to jump on in recent months is the promotion of the Black Lives Matter organization, according to the pastor.

“I wholeheartedly agree with the phrase ‘black lives matter,’” Young clarified. “I believe in it and the church should champion it. We should stand up for equality and justice. I believe we need to lead out.

"But I can’t support or agree with the core beliefs of the organization Black Lives Matter. It’s tied to abortion, homosexuality, transgenderism, and the breakup of the nuclear family, just to name a few. So I'm not going to hashtag that phrase because whenever someone hashtags something, they need to hash it out through Scripture, and they need to understand what the people who have started the hashtag are actually living out and what solutions are they recommending."

Many Christians blindly accept a secular worldview because they’re “fearful of the backlash, of criticism, fearful of people bolting,” the New York Times bestselling author contended. 

“We want to be liked, we want to seem ‘woke,’ but in reality, we’re afraid to stand for truth or engage in healthy conversation,” he stressed. “We need to be wary of jumping on cultural hype trains. Racism is an obvious issue that must always be addressed. We must call it out and point people to the answers found in the person of Jesus Christ. I’m all for supporting legislation that pushes the ball of equality down the field, but real change is only going to happen when we have a heart transformation. Too many leaders are fearful to stand. Where is the boldness? Both sides of the aisle have dropped the ball. We must have open conversations, face our fears, and find solutions that work."

When it comes to the issue of race, there is fear on “both sides of the issue,” Young said. “On one side, there’s a fear to talk about feelings, and then on the other side, there's probably a fear of listening and applying what the other side is saying and meeting in the middle and looking to God. We have to listen like never before. Notice the feelings you have about racism, injustice, equality and acknowledge them, and then filter them through God’s Word.”

“I think that we have more of systemic sin problem in our world than a skin problem. Most people I know aren’t racists — some are, yes, and I do believe there’s a skin problem; I just don’t believe it’s systemically the core issue. The real issue is sin, not skin. That’s the root issue, but we’re too fearful to say that because we could be misunderstood and maligned.”

Fellowship Church, one of North America's most attended churches over the past decade with locations in Texas, Florida, and Oklahoma. | Courtesy of Ed Young

Believing fear is the root cause of many of today’s issues, Young recently wrote his latest book, The Fear Virus: Vaccinating Yourself Against Life’s Greatest Phobias. In it, he identifies the common fears that hold many back from living in freedom and finding abundant life in Christ. 

“The number one command in Scripture is ‘fear not.’ Yet I believe that what we're dealing with now is fear on a level like I've never seen it in my life,” he said, citing issues like the current coronavirus pandemic, racial unrest, relativism and failure. 

In his book, Young shares personal stories combined with biblical wisdom to help readers identify their own fears, offering the reminder that “perfect love drives out all fear” (1 John 4:18).

“Fear drives us to do a lot of things that aren’t biblical,” he said. “We’re afraid of the truth; those transcendent truths from God that are true in every circumstance and situation. When you don't have objective truth, you're going to follow your feelings, you're going to put your feelings at the center of your life. When you do that, you will walk in fear and there will be hate, turmoil, racism, greed, rioting — all sorts of things that aren’t pretty.” 

The pastor compared fear to a “virus” that can easily “seep into every area of our lives.” It’s what holds many Christians back from addressing hot-button issues like adultery, pornography, racism, and homosexuality, Young said, adding that he, in his role as a pastor, has struggled with fear himself. 

“I talk about these issues from the pulpit, whether it’s homosexuality or adultery. I don’t look to talk about these subjects, but they need to be dealt with,” he admitted. “I’ve had people leave our church and unfollow me because of the truth from God’s Word that I preach.”

When addressing uncomfortable issues through the lens of God’s Word, he clarified that the “last thing” he wants to do is “be unkind.”

“I have friends who are gay, we have sex workers who attend our church, we have millionaires and those on welfare. We accept everybody, but it doesn’t mean we approve of their behavior,” he explained. “What scares me about the secular worldview is they're trying to force us not only to accept but to approve. In our culture, we have totally conflated acceptance with approval.”

“Pastors are called to address issues culture addresses. We need to have a healthy fear of God. One day, we will be held accountable before Him. We need to have an answer when God asks, ‘Were you true to my word? Did you preach the truth?’ Paul says, ‘I am not ashamed of the Gospel.’ There is a way to build bridges with everyone but draw a line in the sand with the truth.”

Many people are “anchor-less, blown around by the winds of culture,” he added. He encouraged Christians — and young people, in particular — to “understand the difference between a biblical worldview and a secular worldview and understand what it truly means to fear God.”

“When we fear God, meaning, we have reverence and respect and obedience to Him, we shouldn’t fear anything else,” Young stressed. “When people really take a long look at fear, and they start with the fear of God, then they can walk in victory. They can understand the situation that we're dealing with and find peace amid the mayhem.”

“Then they are able to live in the blessings God has spoken over His people."

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