Young, Restless, and Reformed

Rob and Bob discuss a the basic history and shape of the Young, Restless, and Reformed movement of the past decade or so, depending on who you ask. And, somehow, we have this discussion in the context of Paul’s early ministry!


Participants: ,

17 Responses

  1. Derick Dickens

    A couple of notations:

    The confession of the Southern Baptist Seminary is the Abstract Principles, which is an abstract of the London Baptist Confession of 1689.

    However, the content of this was outstanding. You are right that people need training and that there needs to be more than just a few month passion and a few conferences. I appreciated this podcast.

  2. Men,

    Good episode!

    Brief technological comment. Bump music up too high and too long while you were talking.

    I was also a part of the first wave of Evangelicals coming into the Reformed faith (late 80’s). My experience had a different twist. While an Evangelical and a member of a non-denominational church, I was sent to a Middle Eastern country as a ‘missionary’ with very little experience. As I was raising money in the states I came across the Reformed faith but made no commitments and headed out to the field for two years. While there I had ample time to read Reformed materials and as I discussed the faith with Muslims I slowly realized I had absolutely no business being there! (For example, I had a very good Muslim friend who had read the Bible and wanted to know why the Old and New Testaments seemed so different – l was clueless!)

    Thankfully, and this is very much to the point being made on your program, before I left the states I met and corresponded with a PCA pastor, who, in no uncertain terms, advised me to leave the Middle East (he also graciously sent to me through someone traveling to the country I was in a brand new set of the Banner of Truth two volume set of Jonathan Edwards!) This I did and before long settled in to the church he pastored and received the best theological education one could get outside of seminary.

    Much to my dismay, though, and unbeknownst to me at the time, the PCA was developing missions strategies that followed the Evangelical model – i.e., sending out inexperienced people – and even partnering with non-Reformed bodies! Take it from someone who was there. It was and is a disaster waiting to happen.

    Anyway, I was tracking with you the entire time and was thankful you pursued the topic.

    God bless,

    1. James–Thank you for the great post. I love the story, our God is good to bring us people who will help us to understand Him better. Also I agree with your assessment of what has happened in the PCA and hope that you will be able to help some understand what needs to be done to help for the future.


  3. I shared the following on Facebook as I recommended this episode to my friends:

    “I am part of the “CURE/ACE wave” as described in the episode. CURE=Christians United for Reformation, and ACE stands for the Alliance of Confessing Evangelicals.

    “The late, great Dr. James Montgomery Boice and his Philadelphia Conferences on Reformed Theology (PCRT) teams up with Dr. Michael Horton of CURE, to form ACE. Horton’s organs for CURE were the White Horse Inn radio show, and after a relatively short-lived newsletter to which I subscribed in say 1990 or 1991, came Modern Reformation Magazine.

    “I was introduced to the doctrines of grace by Michael Horton promoting his very first book, Mission Accomplished (later revised and re-titled Putting Amazing Back Into Grace) on–wait for it–Trinity Broadcasting Network! You can’t make this stuff up.

    “It was all cool and fascinating and everything, but it was a tad over my head and I had no friends around to help me find my way into the Reformed tradition until six years later when I got a job working for a guy who had a collection of White Horse Inn tapes hosted by that familiar name, Michael Horton. He allowed me to listen and we talked and talked through all the issues, and his partner and best friend joined in along the way for three years until I had to swallow my pride and admit humbly (for naturally I “kickedst against the pricks”–KJV allusion, look it up) that I was now a Calvinist.

    “And surprisingly, it wasn’t long before I was able to swallow and stomach paedobaptism (“If Baptists agreed with Presbyterians on so much, what makes them think they’re so wrong about baptism?”). So, I was blessed to be part of what I would call the “WHI-ModRef/Alliance” generation, just predating the YRR movement by about 5 yrs. But, more to the point, I’m not an American Evangelical or a Fundamentalist anymore, but rather a Reformed Protestant.

    “Come on in, the Confessionalism is great!”

      1. Dr. Riddlebarger wrote about Horton’s appearance in his series on “The OC: A New Burned-Over District? Part 2”


        I was the guy who was positively influenced by that otherwise ill-advised appearance. The host in fact ended up losing his show and works behind the scenes in sales to this day., because, “The Agony of Deceit” was soon to follow. Yes, I looked him up a few years ago to search the archives for the video and he confirmed it no longer exists.

  4. As a layperson who is academically challenged I am writing to better understand. I see so much value in seminary training and am grateful for the many teachers and preachers who have it. I understand why such high value is placed on seminary training for many of the reasons mentioned in this podcast. However, I also see the value of conferences where many, if not most, of the speakers lecture on topics they teach at seminary level in some capacity or would preach from the pulpit on the Lord’s day. It seems to me that both together serve Pastors well. Seminary providing a foundational training environment for ministry and various conferences acting sort of like continuing education. If we must choose one or the other then seminary certainly makes more sense to me personally, but does that choice have to made?

    Around the 24 minute mark a contrast is made between what was being received in the conference environment and what is received through the ordinary means of God’s grace on the Lord’s day. If I understand you correctly you were saying that in your personal experience these conferences were what you sought outside of the church or at least as a primary means of grace and that what you were learning was that the Lord’s day was God’s ordained means of providing what you were seeking or more importantly what you needed. That certainly makes sense to me, but can’t the same contrast be made in regards to seminary education? In addition, I am not convinced that such thinking actually characterizes those in the Young, Restless, and Reformed camp. If anything, it seems that perhaps some were utilizing conferences as a replacement for seminary, but not as a replacement for the local church. Please forgive me if I misunderstand the point being made.

    I also wonder if we make seminary to be more of a necessity than we should. Again, I see tremendous value in seminary training. I say that with a humble heart knowing that my untrained mind may just not have a good understanding. I have heard it taught that Paul took almost three years in solitude in preparation for his call. Paul had some of the best seminary training and so it makes sense that he took time to work through that to see all that he had been taught academically in light of the gospel. Luke being a doctor was no doubt well educated and perhaps had a step up on others although the Bible doesn’t seem to make that case. And if I am not mistaken the rest were ordinary blue collar folks called to ministry and trained, theologically and practically, while engaged in real life ministry. No formal education as I understand that today.

    You mentioned the experience of a close friend as an example of lacking in seminary training. I have little doubt seminary training would have been a tremendous benefit. I remember as a construction supervisor I was on my first inner city job. It was the start, and I was alone doing some demolition work. I had been keeping a list of local residents looking for work in hopes of getting some help while being a benefit to the community. After those few weeks and handful of bad experiences I was burnt out and ready to move on. I found some reprieve after making that known by getting the green light to hire some help. That in itself was a difficult experience, but what put me over the edge was when a gentleman began to make gun motions with his hands and threaten to kill me simply because he believed I passed him over on the list which wasn’t even the case. No masters degree in Construction Managment could have prepared me for the kind of culture shock I experienced. That doesn’t mean education and training were non-essential or unimportant to my work, but whatever I lacked in that regard is hardly the sole or even primary reason for my burnout. All that to say, I certainly can’t speak on the personal level you can with regard to your friend, but I think more than a lack of seminary education factors into his burnout. As valuable as that would have been no amount of education alone can prepare pastors for the culture shock of some environments whether that be inner city in the U.S. or various places throughout the globe. But now I have rambled on acting as if I am knowledgeable enough to teach you. I must think I have a seminary education or something. Please forgive that little bit of sarcastic humor… and thanks for letting me be a part of the discussion!

    1. Bobby you are very welcome to be part of the discussion and thank you for commenting. I will try and answer some of your objections. You mentioned the master degree in construction and how that wouldn’t have helped you in the tense situation that you found yourself in and you are correct seminary training can only do so much. People still need practical experience to help in hard situations. But my friend was sent into a community to be a pastor without being trained either theologically or practically. At least the training was minimal. This would be like sending a guy over to work the back hoe who just got his drivers license for a car. Remember that the point about seminary training was made for those who were going to be working as pastors. Paul was trained for three years in the desert by Christ, the disciples were trained for three years personally by Christ. Paul trained Timothy and Titus and left them to plant churches and they were supposed to train others. Two thousand years later we have a good idea what subjects will best prepare a man for the pastorate, this along with a good internship is the best way for a man to start in the ministry. Your right my friend might have been burnt out just the same from having had a seminary degree as well as an internship but having had the maturity that would have come from four years of intense training both in a church and in the classroom probably would have help him in those dark times. Just as the guy being given the backhoe for the first might have knocked over the stack of bricks even though he had been certified to drive one. But the guy who had barely been trained would probably tip over the machine.
      As for the conferences my main point was that these were being used as their training in the place of seminary. And that is not a good substitute. I think you and I agree that seminary is better. But I am sorry if I said or implied that the conferences themselves are wrong or bad. They are not, they can be very helpful and encouraging. So I am sorry if I did not say that well.
      Bob was the one that said that some were using the conferences in place of church or as a means of grace. I think that what prompted him to say that was something that we didn’t say on the air. Many of these churches that have been started by guys who have a great passion for Christ but no training will do thing such as have a Saturday evening service or as another friend of mine does, have a Tuesday evening service as their weekly service. There is a lose of the first day of the week being the Lord’s Day so that any time an event that has singing and preaching in it can be considered the same as a church service. This is what Bob was talking about although I think we had the first part of our conversation before we started to record. Feel free to follow up, thanks for listening and for the feedback.

  5. Thank you for the great post. I love the story, our God is good to bring us people who will help us to understand Him better. Also I agree with your assessment of what has happened in the PCA and hope that you will be able to help some understand what needs to be done to help for the future.


  6. Rob & Bob- you guys have a great dynamic in presenting even challenging and large topics like YRR.

    Rob, I grew up in a very similar background as you, so you dialogue and processing with us on the podcast is truly valued.

    Bob, you’ve been demonstrating a good model of pastoral leadership through this podcast and Theologically Profound.

    Keep up the biblically rich and God honouring podcasts!

  7. This is my 4th attempt to make it through a TSP podcast. I made it through one (with difficulty) and each successive episode I have shut off early. I gave up up on this one after about 5 minutes.

    I cannot take this show seriously. It’s like a goofy comedy routine. There’s a total lack of gravitas. I appreciate a good laugh as much as the next guy but some of the joking is borderline sacrilegious. I can’t respect the opinions of the hosts, let alone take them as authoritative. I wanted to listen to this show but I gave up in disgust. Christ the Center is often borderline but this show is over the top.

    I would think the audience is going to be made up of serious folks. Why then the need for the comedy routine? Does it have to be all inside-baseball with endless jokes and puns? Are you trying to reach out to a wider audience? I tell you what, if I was a Fundamentalist or Romanist coming here, I wouldn’t take this show seriously nor the theology behind it.

    I don’t think these are things to joke about. The hosts obviously aren’t serious about the topics. It’s too bad. It could be a good show but at this point, I consider it a waste of time.

    1. Craword, Hello, I am sorry that our casual style has offended you, that was not our intention. We sincerely pray that the Lord will bless you in life as you seek to learn and grow in grace. Thanks for the feedback.


  8. Hey Calvinist guy. Rob and Bob are funny guys; it’s their personalities. I’m sure that any feedback is appreciated, but simply go listen to something else, like Apologia Radio.

Leave a Reply