Ed Young: "You Can’t Make An Argument Scripturally For Anti-Tangible Stuff"….Oh Really?




According to this video from Ed Young (a clip he posted), “you can’t make an argument scripturally for anti-tangible stuff”.

Well, nothing but love for Ed Young, but I thought I’d take up the challenge.

We could look at the historical tradition of the church in which countless men and women, not least of all monks, priests, and nuns, lived lives of self-denial in order to be more like Jesus, but since Pastor Young wants to focus on the Bible we can do that.

Where to start?

How about the Psalms, they always have nice things to say. From Psalm 52….

 1 Why do you boast of evil, you mighty hero? 
   Why do you boast all day long, 
   you who are a disgrace in the eyes of God? 
2 You who practice deceit, 
   your tongue plots destruction; 
   it is like a sharpened razor. 
3 You love evil rather than good, 
   falsehood rather than speaking the truth.[c] 
4 You love every harmful word, 
   you deceitful tongue!

 5 Surely God will bring you down to everlasting ruin: 
   He will snatch you up and pluck you from your tent; 
   he will uproot you from the land of the living. 
6 The righteous will see and fear; 
   they will laugh at you, saying, 
7 “Here now is the man 
   who did not make God his stronghold 
but trusted in his great wealth 
   and grew strong by destroying others!”

The book of Proverbs always has some good nuggets of wisdom, like for example this passage from Proverbs 13:7,

 7 One person pretends to be rich, yet has nothing; 
   another pretends to be poor, yet has great wealth.

Ecclesiastes can get a bit gloomy sometimes, but it’s honest, which I like. There’s raw honesty like this passage from Ecclesiastes 2,

4 I undertook great projects: I built houses for myself and planted vineyards. 5 I made gardens and parks and planted all kinds of fruit trees in them. 6 I made reservoirs to water groves of flourishing trees. 7 I bought male and female slaves and had other slaves who were born in my house. I also owned more herds and flocks than anyone in Jerusalem before me. 8 I amassed silver and gold for myself, and the treasure of kings and provinces. I acquired male and female singers, and a harem[a] as well—the delights of a man’s heart. 9 I became greater by far than anyone in Jerusalem before me. In all this my wisdom stayed with me.

 10 I denied myself nothing my eyes desired; 
   I refused my heart no pleasure. 
My heart took delight in all my labor, 
   and this was the reward for all my toil. 
11 Yet when I surveyed all that my hands had done 
   and what I had toiled to achieve, 
everything was meaningless, a chasing after the wind; 
   nothing was gained under the sun.

Then of course, you’ve got that poor homeless preacher, who despite Ed’s claim wasn’t actually a “multi-billionare.” This will probably comes as a bit of a shock, but Jesus had lots to say about money and stuff….

There’s the Beatitudes….

 “Blessed are you who are poor, 
   for yours is the kingdom of God. 
21 Blessed are you who hunger now, 
   for you will be satisfied. 

And that other great passage from the Sermon on the Mount about having stuff…

19 “Do not store up for yourselves treasures on earth, where moths and vermin destroy, and where thieves break in and steal. 20 But store up for yourselves treasures in heaven, where moths and vermin do not destroy, and where thieves do not break in and steal. 21 For where your treasure is, there your heart will be also.

Of course, you can’t forget that infamous encounter with the rich guy….

16 Just then a man came up to Jesus and asked, “Teacher, what good thing must I do to get eternal life?”  17 “Why do you ask me about what is good?” Jesus replied. “There is only One who is good. If you want to enter life, keep the commandments.” 18 “Which ones?” he inquired. Jesus replied, “‘You shall not murder, you shall not commit adultery, you shall not steal, you shall not give false testimony, 19 honor your father and mother,’ and ‘love your neighbor as yourself.’” 20 “All these I have kept,” the young man said. “What do I still lack?” 21 Jesus answered, “If you want to be perfect, go, sell your possessions and give to the poor, and you will have treasure in heaven. Then come, follow me.” 22 When the young man heard this, he went away sad, because he had great wealth. 23 Then Jesus said to his disciples, “Truly I tell you, it is hard for someone who is rich to enter the kingdom of heaven.24 Again I tell you, it is easier for a camel to go through the eye of a needle than for someone who is rich to enter the kingdom of God.” 

And then there’s that troublesome passage from Acts 4 describing the early church’s thoughts on having stuff:

32 All the believers were one in heart and mind. No one claimed that any of their possessions was their own, but they shared everything they had. 33 With great power the apostles continued to testify to the resurrection of the Lord Jesus. And God’s grace was so powerfully at work in them all 34 that there were no needy persons among them. For from time to time those who owned land or houses sold them, brought the money from the sales 35 and put it at the apostles’ feet, and it was distributed to anyone who had need.

Just like Jesus, Paul wasn’t a big fan of stuff either. Here’s his charge to Timothy in his first letter to the young disciple,

6 But godliness with contentment is great gain. 7 For we brought nothing into the world, and we can take nothing out of it. 8 But if we have food and clothing, we will be content with that. 9 Those who want to get rich fall into temptation and a trap and into many foolish and harmful desires that plunge people into ruin and destruction. 10 For the love of money is a root of all kinds of evil. Some people, eager for money, have wandered from the faith and pierced themselves with many griefs.

And more thoughts from Paul on the lifestyle of Christians in his letter to the Corinthians….

3 We put no stumbling block in anyone’s path, so that our ministry will not be discredited. 4 Rather, as servants of God we commend ourselves in every way: in great endurance; in troubles, hardships and distresses; 5 in beatings, imprisonments and riots; in hard work, sleepless nights and hunger; 6 in purity, understanding, patience and kindness; in the Holy Spirit and in sincere love; 7 in truthful speech and in the power of God; with weapons of righteousness in the right hand and in the left; 8 through glory and dishonor, bad report and good report; genuine, yet regarded as impostors; 9 known, yet regarded as unknown; dying, and yet we live on; beaten, and yet not killed; 10 sorrowful, yet always rejoicing; poor, yet making many rich; having nothing, and yet possessing everything.

There’s plenty of other passages I could list, but this is a blog, not a doctoral thesis.

At the risk of being accused and found guilty of proof texting, please allow me a brief defense.

With the exception of the passage from Proverbs and the section from the Beautitudes I have tried to present each Biblical passage in as much context as the brevity of a blog will allow. The verse from Proverbs is brief because unlike much of the rest of the Bible it is a collection of brief wisdom saying, which in most cases were meant to be “one liners”.

Likewise, the Beatitudes were meant to be brief nuggets of truth. The only reason I didn’t include the rest is that I assume (perhaps incorrectly) that most people are familiar with the rest Beatitudes which follow the same tone as the ones mentioned above.

My purpose in listing these passages is not to make a definitive case against Ed Young and say “You’re wrong and this, this, this, and this verse proves it.”

Rather, in highlighting passages from both the Old and New Testaments, from wisdom literature, the gospels, and the epistles, I am trying to demonstrate that not only can a case be made against “stuff”, but that the case is not one which can only be made via selective proof-texting. It is made by examining the “whole sweep of scripture“. In doing so, I think we find a narrative which doesn’t seem to look that favorably on accumulating wealth. At least not material wealth.

That being said, are there passages in which God blesses His people tangibly? Absolutely. There’s several of those passages scattered throughout the Bible.

The point I’m trying to make is that Ed isn’t quite on the mark when he says an “anti-tangible” stuff case can’t me made from scripture.

It can.

And it should be to keep us from thinking that faith is something that will reward us materially.

After all, how many saints of the church can you think of that died wealthy? Or who lived lives of great material prosperity and comfort?

Now, I do acknowledge and appreciate Pastor Ed’s comments that he does not support the “prosperity gospel”. But it seems like he’s splitting hairs a bit. It seems like he’s saying God doesn’t want everybody to be rich, just some of us. Which I guess could be true. He is God after all and you could find some verses in the Bible to support that argument.

Lucky for Ed, he seems to be one of the people God has chosen to have lots of “stuff”.

Grace and peace,

Zack Hunt