The Gospel Coalition

Tis the end of the year, the time to reflect on what has been and what may be. For several months I've been pondering a post on this thing that's been called Young, Restless, and Reformed. What's good? What's bad? What needs to be celebrated? What needs to addressed?

For starters, it may be time to retire the name. As you may know, "Young, Restless, Reformed" was the title Collin Hansen gave to his Christianity Today article on the first Together for the Gospel conference in 2006. Subsequently, Collin penned a fine book with the same title. I stole the title for my blog (because "DeYoung" fit so nicely into his phrase). To this day I meet people who swear that I wrote the book Young, Restless, and Reformed. Even when I promise them I didn't, they insist that I must have. Sorry Collin.

I think the phrase was quite clever. It had alliteration. It played off of pop culture (The Young and the Restless). And it captured a mood: young Christians eager to embrace this new found wonder of deep theology about a big, sovereign God. But, over time, people have wondered whether the young are getting older, whether the restless should settle down, and whether Calvinist soteriology is the same as Reformed. So the name doesn't work for everyone.

More importantly, I'm afraid the label is often used in a way that makes YRR sound like an organized movement with official standards and spokesmen. The Gospel Coalition is an organized movement and it embraces some of the YRR mood, but the two are hardly identical. TGC was started by, and continue to be led by, Don Carson and Tim Keller--wonderful men, and Calvinist in important ways, but not quite young or restless. Likewise, while Together for the Gospel is a gathering place for many who fit the YRR description, it is a biennial event, not a movement. There never was a plan to sign people up for the YRR team or for certain people to speak for the YRR team, let alone that the YRR mood would replace the importance of local churches and specific denominations.

A Convergence and Resurgence

This thing called the New Calvinism or YRR or the Reformed Resurgence is a constellation of factors, personalities, conferences, churches, and movements. In one sense, YRR was simply the realization that a number of different networks or organizations that had existed for many years actually had a lot of important things in common. From Ligonier to Desiring God to 9Marks to the Alliance of Confessing Evangelicals to Grace to You to Southern Seminary to Sovereign Grace to Acts 29 brothers discovered there were many reasons to cheer for each other and work together. The rise of the New Calvinism was, in important ways, simply the awareness that there were more evangelical, complementarian Calvinists out there than we knew.

But in another sense, the New Calvinism is new. The "young" in Young, Restless, and Reformed was not a marketing ploy. A new generation of Christians is being nourished by the doctrines of grace. Evangelical seminaries are full of young men passionate about theology, biblical truth, and the glory of God. From blogs to church planting to conferences to book sales to new pastors to new people in our churches, I believe the Spirit really has been at work in our day to give young people a grounding in the deep things of God. Wasn't it J.I. Packer who said something like: when I started teaching this reformed stuff I spoke to rooms, then I spoke to churches, and now I speak to convention centers. We ought to rejoice in this progress. No doubt, a few have been bandwagon jumpers or groupies. And some others will drop away. But surely we ought to thank God for every pastor, speaker, writer, blogger, publisher, or church member in these days who has grown hungry for the gospel meat of God's word and eager to share it with the many others who are hungry to feast on the same.

Challenges Ahead

But there are also challenges facing my generation of evangelical Calvinists. And I'm not thinking here of the outside forces that threaten to undermine a biblical understanding of marriage or a high view of Scripture or the uniqueness of Jesus Christ. I'm thinking about issues that need attention (and are receiving attention) in our YRR circles. Let me mention three of these challenges.

1. Ecclesiology. Evangelicals have never been known for their robust theology of the church. Previous centuries could boast of many learned, almost comprehensive volumes, on the polity, powers, and purpose of the church. We could use more of that today (see How Jesus Runs the Church for a good example). The folks at 9Marks have done a lot to expound a practical, theological doctrine of the church. But some of our biggest disagreements have to do with the church: multisite, worship, governance, the place for denomination, the place for parachurch organizations, the place for trans-denominational entities, the role of the church in society, the relationship between the church and the kingdom, the nature of the offices, the role for ordinary means, and the list goes on. Underneath it all is the question of whether the Bible even speaks to most of our church questions. Maybe our ecclessiology is thin because the Bible is very flexible. Or maybe we have more work to do.

2. Missiology. Recently, Tim Keller and Mike Horton have weighed in on how close we are to a consensus on the mission of the church (more specifically, the relationship between church and culture). Greg Gilbert and I have made our pitch for mission as disciple-making. Other disagree. There is still no consensus on how to think through word and deed, gospel proclamation and social transformation, the mission of the church and our individual callings. Whether we can reach a consensus or not, we must search the Scriptures for ourselves and think through our mission strategies, mission priorities, and missions budgets accordingly.

3. Sanctification. Worldliness is one of our "high places." We are clear on how the gospel can pronounce us holy, less clear on how the gospel can make holy. Even less clear that the gospel requires us to be holy. We could stand to talk less about the particulars of sex and more about the process of sanctification. And how do we become holy? Is it by getting used to our justification? Or is it also by faith in future promises and by God-given effort? What is the relationship between law and gospel? Is there any grace in law? Can we insist on law out of love for grace? How do justification and sanctification relate to each other and how do they both relate to union with Christ?

To be sure, there are other issues that could use more attention: the continuation or cessation of certain spiritual gifts, the historicity of Adam and Eve, and the role of contextualization in an increasingly post-Christian world. I'm sure my list of three reflects my particular interests and discussions at the moment.

What Now?

So what is the way forward? Is there a future for YRR? On the one hand, I don't really care about the future of a label. But on the other hand, I do pray for the propagation of the good theology, expositional preaching, strong passion, and gospel partnerships that have characterized the best of the New Calvinism. I would hate to see these renewed emphases once again subside, whether because of boredom ("the glory of God is, like, so 2005"), a reverse bandwagon effect ("I like Calvinism until other people did"), or a general disease with anything that smacks of evangelicalism.

That's why--and this will sound somewhat paradoxical--one of the most important steps forward for YRR is for each of us to go deeper into our own churches and traditions. No movement, let a lone a mood, can sustain lifelong mission, discipleship, and doctrinal commitment. The Baptists should learn to be good Baptists. The Presbyterians should not be ashamed to be Presbyterians. Those in a non-denominational context will have a harder time, but they too should learn to swim in the church's historic stream of confessions, hymns, polity, and theology.

I'm not suggesting all our churches look more traditional (though some of that wouldn't be all bad). I am suggesting, however, that it's better to live in a specific ecclesiastical room instead of in the hallway of evangelicalism. This doesn't mean for a moment we should avoid trans-denominational ventures like TGC and T4G. I continue to think a lot of good can come from the conferences, the resources, and the friendships that these groups foster. But we should read deeply into our tradition, not just broadly across the current spectrum of well-known authors. We need to learn to be good churchmen, investing time in the committees, assemblies, and machinery of the church. We need to publicly celebrate and defend important doctrinal distinctives (e.g., baptism, the millennium, liturgical norms) even as we love and respect those who disagree. We should delight in our own histories and confessions, while still rejoicing that our different vehicles are ultimately powered by the same engines of the Christian faith--justification, the authority of Scripture, substitutionary atonement, and the glory of our sovereign God.

Let's dream big and labor small. The work God is doing to sharpen the theology, fire the passion, inspire the minds, and join the gospel hearts in this generation will be better and stronger as we go deeper down and bloom where we're planted.



January 5, 2012 at 06:41 PM

Why do the first 4 paragraphs of the post sound just like the same pleas and ruminations from the Emergent crowd in the last 5-6 years when everyone was chastising them for, well, everything?

Sounds like you've made a bed you don't want to lie in, Mr. DeYoung.

We have to be careful when we're quick to apply a certain measure if we're not certain we want it applied to ourselves. Jesus said something about that, I think. :D

Happy New Year!

[...] rocks of patriarchy and authoritarian climates of fear and control? This isn’t an empty fret; Kevin DeYoung and others have written of the movement’s fire going cold without continued growth and [...]

[...] recently, on his post about the term “Young, Restless and Reformed”, DeYoung states that he is afraid the [...]

Linkathon 11/28 | Phoenix Preacher

December 28, 2011 at 04:46 AM

[...] DeYoung: “For several months I’ve been pondering a post on this thing that’s been called Young, Res... Critical responses on Kevin’s article may be read here; here; and [...]

Brendt Wayne Waters

December 24, 2011 at 05:40 PM

Sallie, good luck getting self-evaluation from the YRR crowd. Justin Taylor tried that a couple months ago on his blog and the fecal matter thrown in the comment section outdid any primate house.

David Salverda

December 24, 2011 at 02:06 PM

I worry a little bit about the movement focusing on a select few individuals and not life in the local (non-mega) Church. Interesting article below:

Dr. James Willingham

December 23, 2011 at 10:22 PM

I went over to Dr. Piper's website and reviewed some of his materials on manhood and womanhood, and, behold, his discussion on his mother fitted rather nicely with what I have come to believe is the functional nature of complementarianism. Seems that mom stepped up to the plate every time dad was gone on a revival or conference and she coudl administer some very adult and masculine chastisements. When daddy came back, she gladly let him run the show. My son and daughter never forgot what a flyswatter my little wife could wield, when they laughed at her light chastisements. Sometimes a woman can turn into a tigress. Having been raised by a woman of the old Frontier days, I can tell you that they command respect...just as much as a man. Size, strength, mental wherewithal, class, color, and gender matter little, when it comes to the great struggles and services of life. Someone put it so well: It ain't the size of the man; it is the size of the fight in the man. I have known some men who were small in size, but I would not have wanted to meet them in any kind of combat at any time for any reason. Kings use to think they could govern just simply because God set them up, but the very story of America proved that to be a lot of baloney. God's ways for man are the ways of balance, checks and balances, if you please. Calvinistic theology and politics and economics, etc., all tend to checks and balances which allow for the utmost freedom under the circumstances of our man's fallen nature and madness. Why did Bancroft and others call America, England, Scotland, the Netherlands, and Geneva "calvinistic republics." And then there is that Presbyterian Witherspoon...who was the cause for the King of England or someone commenting about him cracking that his colonies had run off with a presbyterian parson. Functional complementarianism says the rule of another, including husbands and wives, elders and churches, must be that of checks and balances. You dare not trust any one with too much power..except the Lord Himself, and He delegates His power with checks and balances. The clarity of scripture is the problem. Read it and think you understand it, and you will find that its depth and subtlety is far greater than you could ever imagine. Get a good grasp of that balanced, flexible, creative, constant, and magnetic way of working, that is, its teachings set up a tension in us and enable us to become such, and people will leap at the opportunity to serve with one of such maturity, understanding, and compassion. Functional, folks, functional.

The Good Stuff (12-23-11) | Rural Theologian

December 23, 2011 at 09:34 AM

[...] Whither YRR?- Kevin DeYoung reflects on the Young, Restless, and Reformed movement, and he insightfully points out some potential challenges that await this trans-denominational movement.  It’s a good read. [...]

jeff Baxter

December 23, 2011 at 09:27 PM

Thanks for your work Kevin. Keep up the good work holding the line of sound doctrine! Merry Christmas!


December 23, 2011 at 04:00 AM

Is there any TGC treatment of cessationism/continuationism anywhere? Would love to see a fuller discussion of this issue at some point...especially given vanilla evangelicalism is currently Charismatic/Pentecostal

[...] Kevin DeYoung, who will be speaking at the 2012 T4G, just wrote an intriguing post he called "Wither YRR?" that all New Calvinists need to read.  You will remember that when SGM's interim leadership team established an impartial review panel to judge Mahaney's fitness for ministry, DeYoung was one of three selected.  The panel's findings did not go over well with some.  I quoted DeYoung at the top of yesterdays post, but it bears repeating.  Kevin wrote: (link) [...]

Dr. James Willingham

December 22, 2011 at 12:54 PM

It was things like the last that helped me to appreciate egal. Brothers and sisters are equals. Complementarianism in such cases is functional. When a husband dies or deserts, the wife and mother must step up and exercise authority, She can and she will, if, like her male counterpart, she has been prepared for such a role. Even the military which lays great stress on the chain of command has to check and balance such authority with reviews and Jags, etc. Man is a fallen creature. One dare not trust him with too much authority. He needs to be checked. The genius of American government is the checks and balances system which allows for the maximum amount of freedom with the least amount of control.


December 22, 2011 at 12:32 PM

Sorry, I can't resist this. I was going to provide examples to the problem with Complimentarianism vs. Egalitarianism, but I thought it would derail the comment thread too much.
However, with Denny Burk's blog post this morning on abortion, I cannot restrain. He writes that "abortion is the sacrament of feminism" (no argument so far). But he says this is so, because, "feminists sought to be equal to men with respect to having a career and having a promiscuous sex-life."
And a dozen or more YRR guys are linking to it right now on their own blogs, because they agree -- that this is why feminists are the problem!

This is the kind of trouble that YRRs can't seem to keep away from. Think about it.

If I'm an Egal, you just said to me that having a career and being promiscuous are equally deviant aspirations -- because they would put me on an equal plain with men!!!

Is this really the complimentarian message, guys??

Dr. James Willingham

December 22, 2011 at 12:03 PM

Try teaching in a Black college in South Carolina for two years ('70-'72). About a year or so before I went there, the sheriff in that county arrested the fellow who would be my main professor at Columbia Univ. in the Summer of '71 for trying to help Black folks get registered to vote, etc. The only intimation I had of the White community's displeasure was that a neighbor at a party (where I was not present) let it be known that he did not appreciate my teaching at that school. I had one student in one of my classes that had been wounded in the Orangeburg Massacre some 3 years previous. A lot of Reformed folks might want to remember that that was the theology of John Brown, and he did more than pay lip service to it (even if he did go to far who can say what they would do under similar circumstances, especially as in the case of the Blacks who accompanied Brown's effort,,they had been in slavery and/or had relatives in slavery.

Sallie @ A Quiet Simple Life

December 22, 2011 at 09:12 PM

Jim at 1:18 p.m. pointed out the thing that jumped out at me. Brothers?

I'm not YRR. I'm Reformed, middle aged, a happily married woman, mom, and would probably call myself an egalitarian (so I guess that makes me the heretical enemy even though I am your sister in Christ).

It is interesting how many people here commented about interacting more effectively with the "other side", the egals, etc. as though they were the enemy. Do you really view them that way? Your own brothers and sisters in Christ that you will spend eternity with? I sincerely get the impression that many YRR truly do not understand egals and their sincere love for Christ in the midst of their egalitarianism. Linking to an article about feminism and declaring that is what your sisters in Christ really want as egals is so far off the mark it isn't even funny.

I think many of the YRR have done a great job of turning people off to the Reformed tradition. I have lost track of how many times I've felt almost embarrassed to admit to being Reformed in the course of conversations online because people have been so turned off by the aggressive, obnoxious, and rude YRRs making their presence very known online. What is sad is they think ALL Reformed people are this way. Even if it is just a small segment of the YRR group doing this, it reflects on all of you. If you really want to advance the wonderful doctrines of grace, I suggest demonstrating a lot more grace to those who disagree with you.

If you want to move forward as whatever new YRR labeled group you will be, I suggest you strive to truly understand your brothers and sisters in Christ who may hold to a different view on secondary matters rather than mischaracterizing their beliefs and motives. Honestly, I think as a group (not singling anyone out here) you have left a bad taste in the mouth of many that love and serve the same Christ you do.

BTW Kevin - Your friend, Doug Phillips, was my pastor while I was in college and for a number of years after. His strong expository preaching of the Reformed doctrines had a tremendous impact on my spiritual life. :-)

Nathan Brown

December 22, 2011 at 08:15 AM

Hi Kevin,

I wanted to ask again about a something you said in this post. You say:

“There is still no consensus on how to think through word and deed, gospel proclamation and social transformation, the mission of the church and our individual callings.”

The Council Members of the Gospel Coalition published a theological vision for ministry, and one of the statements in the document touches on these issues. Recently, Colin Hansen pointed to this as consensus for those connect to the Gospel Coalition at least.

The statement is:

“Christian churches must work for justice and peace in their
neighborhoods through service even as they call individuals to
conversion and the new birth. We must work for the eternal and common good and show our neighbors we love them sacrificially whether they believe as we do or not. Indifference to the poor and disadvantaged means there has not been a true grasp of our salvation by sheer grace.”

Would you affirm this statement?



December 22, 2011 at 07:23 PM

Brothers, I am a complimentarian and am much agrieved by recent characterizations of the position and attempts to defend our position. Some of YRR's simply want to call everyone who doesn't agree with their particular application of complimentarianism a heretic. That is a wrong attitude and approach.

Now, today, Desiring God posted an excellent video of John Piper and Darrin Patrick discussing this topic. I commend it everyone wholeheartedly:

Dr. James Willingham

December 22, 2011 at 04:55 PM

Dear Brothere Justin: If you want to Lord it over your brothers in the name of unchecked complementarianism (a trojan horse by any other name is still a trojan horse), While a functional complementearianism is biblical, Peter is very clear about the issue of elders lording it over God's heritage. Eldership that is not founded in humility, that lacks the grace of facing the possibility that it could be wrong, that refuses to be questioned or that will not countenance any sort of opposition, takes on that dimension which led to the mess in Rome. I remember a friend's son who was put under discipline in a church for a weight issue (gluttony is a sin, you know). But they never recognized any questioning of their understanding of his weight issues (in this case a genetic one). They simply applied what they perceived teo be the Bible framework to his situation and well you can guess tehe rest. A simplistic approach to biblical issues and lifestyles can severely damage God's people and harm the Gospel cause, especially when it lacks cognizance of the depth of scriptural teachings.

Justin Stone

December 22, 2011 at 04:41 PM

Dr. James,

If you want to call dogmatic uncompromising adherence to crystal clear biblical truths a heresy, then by all means, call dogmatic uncompromising complimentarianism a heresy, as well.

Dr. James Willingham

December 22, 2011 at 04:35 PM

Can't we call dogmatic uncompromising complementarianism what it is - a heresy - not move at all? After all, one brother shouuld boss all the rest and sisters, too.

Justin Stone

December 22, 2011 at 04:28 PM

Can't we just call egalitarianism what it is--a heresy--and move on?

BTW, great post from Brother DeYoung.


December 21, 2011 at 12:16 PM

Thanks for outlining these 3 challenges. I agree that they are huge and vital.

1) Will we ever solve the ecclesiology problem? I think understanding that the church is God's masterpiece and not redemption will do a lot to make us more serious regarding the church, in theology and in practice. I think the attitude many have today is, "Christ accomplished redemption and He left us here to figure out how to do church until He comes back." It implicitly places redemption above the church in God's plan.

2) The mission of the church has to be understood as more than gospel and less than direct social transformation to be robust in God's eternal purpose. Disciple making is a good start if it is understood. But if it is only understood as following Christ's example or engaging others, then it is short. How does the mission of the church relate to and fulfill God's economy? Is God's eternal purpose merely to save sinners? If so what were Genesis 1 & 2 about? I think the mission of the church conversation needs to develop along these lines.

3) I'm afraid most young Christians can't define or detect worldliness. I think viewing sanctification as an issue of experiencing the divine life is best, yet if no one knows how to experience Christ or that Christ indwells them and is not just at the right hand of God, sanctification will always remain a nice teaching with no real product. The only thing that can deal with worldliness is the divine life developing within us to make us dispositionally holy, not a stronger resolve or a more lucid understanding.

Whither YRR? – Kevin DeYoung |

December 21, 2011 at 12:13 AM

[...] Excerpted Recommended HEALTHY CHURCH Article FROM [...]

[...] (DeYoung, Restless, and Reformed)   [...]

Jeremy Walker on The New Calvinism

December 21, 2011 at 11:39 AM

[...] Potentially of interest to the discussion at hand: Kevin DeYoung - Whither YRR? Jacob Sovereign Grace Ministries Covenant Fellowship Church West Chester, PA "Grace renews [...]

Brendt Wayne Waters

December 21, 2011 at 11:27 PM

@Terry, I am trying to conjure images of neither items of cookware nor their reflective nature (or lack thereof) as per light waves.

The book quote states that it is perfectly acceptable (perhaps even necessary) to draw certain conclusions based on a handful of factors. The post quote states that doing the same thing (when applied to another group) raises concern.

I'm just pointing out that both statements were made by the same person. Draw your own conclusions as to what that means.

Chris Larson

December 21, 2011 at 09:32 AM


Thank you for advancing this discussion. The three challenges you highlight are important and there is work to do. Yet because we love one another and are Spirit-motivated to seek unity with brethren, we may pursue common cause even as we celebrate our differences in the Reformed tradition.

Merry Christmas,


December 21, 2011 at 09:31 PM

Brendt Wayne Waters... what do you mean by Juxtaposition.... I looked it up to get the meaning and all it means is:
"an act or instance of placing close together or side by side, especially for comparison or contrast." what am I missing about your comment...? Are you trying to say; "that's the pot calling the kettle black" boys and girls?


December 21, 2011 at 09:27 AM

With regard to the complimentarian/egalitarian issue, I agree with Timothy's comment above. That within the "movement" or group of YRR's there is consensus that complimentarianism is correct. But I see a great amount of discord around what exactly it means to be "complimentarian". The range is quite vast.

Timothy thinks the problem is how we communicate or defend our position outside of the YRR movement. However, I think that if we are terrible at defending it to those outside of our own circles (which most of us really are, truth be told), then we most likely do not have a good or proper understanding of complimentarianism within our circles either. My concern is where it matters most - application.

Check out | HeadHeartHand Blog

December 21, 2011 at 07:09 AM

[...] Calvinism Jeremy Walker adds a UK perspective to those of Kevin DeYoung and Ray [...]


December 21, 2011 at 06:28 PM

Timothy, okay. Thanks for expounding on that. It helped me out A LOT with thinking the issue through. I agree with your assessment and think that all of the concerns you bring up are definitely working through (both for me personally and for the larger YRR group that I identify with). I am appreciative of being able to exchange ideas here on Kevin's blog. (I love Kevin's blog!!) thanks brothers, JR


December 21, 2011 at 05:46 PM

I am so pleased that someone has thought it worthwhile thinking about my comment that it is ungracious of me to say that I am not sure that what I meant is quite understood. Obviously I have expressed myself badly.
I would like more discussion about how complementarians interact with egalitarians. This might include exposition/explanation of the complementarian position but I think it should also include how and in what ways complementarians might have fellowship with egalitarians. Is the issue such that fellowship is impossible? If it is possible, how might it be carried on without provoking anger from one's own side? And if anger is provoked, what should one do about it?

Steve Burdan

December 21, 2011 at 04:58 PM

Great posts and comments! I still wonder about churches being involved in national cultural transformations. Certainly, we see positive impact on local and regional settings, but in the US, the Evan. church has always been burned by shooting for the society moon, being pulled in the wrong way into compromise, mediocrity and neutralization. We see nothing explicit in OT or NT at all for this kind of mission - transforming culture into some kind of "Christian Kingdom", not in Paul's writing or in Revelation. Rather, the picture is more of 2 divergent paths, one up, the other down, as in Augustine's city of God. Of course, with Roman Catholics, the arc has been totally different. Has this become a focus and an issue for Evan. because we have so much time on our hands and so much treasure to use? What's the exp. of the Orthodox arm of the Church?

Brendt Wayne Waters

December 21, 2011 at 02:30 AM

"More importantly, I’m afraid the label is often used in a way that makes YRR sound like an organized movement with official standards and spokesmen."

"... when people endorse one another’s book and speak at the same conferences and write on the same blogs, there is something of a discernible movement afoot."

First quote is from this post. Second quote is from page 19 of "Why We're Not Emergent", co-authored by -- wait for it -- Kevin DeYoung.

Can you say "juxtaposition", boys and girls?


December 21, 2011 at 02:13 AM

I would add one more thing to your list of things the YRR need to do better: theory of other. This is probably going to sound much more polemical than I mean, but this is coming from someone outside of the movement who is a bit frustrated with it. My general experience with YRR, over against the Calvinist old guard, is a severe ignorance of how other people understand the world. I am not proposing any kind of new age kind of pluralism. What I mean is that if a movement is going to be effectual in interacting with other groups, even adversarially, than they need to have a better understanding of precisely what those groups are than the YRR as typically shown.

Worth a Look 12.21.11 : Kingdom People

December 21, 2011 at 01:27 AM

[...] DeYoung – Wither YRR? We should read deeply into our tradition, not just broadly across the current spectrum of [...]

Ann Metcalf

December 21, 2011 at 01:23 PM

A lot to think about. Thanks Kevin, I am young restless and reformed so I enjoy reading all you post on this.


December 20, 2011 at 12:19 PM

Amen! Eric Landry over at ModRef had similar thoughts recently, and also made reference to Lewis' helpful rooms vs hallways analogy. Great post, thank you.


December 20, 2011 at 12:17 PM

Kevin - wonderful insights. I think your points on the yet-to-be-developed theology are spot on.

As for my 2 cents:

Sanctification: I'm not sure what "God given effort" is supposed to mean without a relationship to embracing our justification. I've heard the critique of the "justification-embracing-sanctification" movement by both Dr. Murray and yourself, but haven't heard a solid definition of what this "God given effort" consists of. I'm not at all closed off to the idea, but I'm unclear on the definition.

Ecclesiology - as for ecclesiology, my big concern lately has been the role of elders in the church. I am especially concerned to see how many reformed churches belittle the role of the elder, and exalt the role of the "pastor" - whatever biblical equivalent that is supposed to have.

Missiology - As to this, I think your book is the go-to resource. You're spot on, though your message has been warped by others.

Thanks and blessings,

Heather E. Carrillo

December 20, 2011 at 11:59 AM

Wow....where has all the humor gone!? I love the YRR label! Especially for this blog. It's funny cause it fits with your name. And wisdom doesn't lie with the young as an earlier commenter suggested. But there are a lot of people who just happen to be young and are excited about deeper theology. Sheesh! I mean, you could of course change the blog name, Mr. DeYoung, but I think it's catchy.

Mary Elizabeth Tyler

December 20, 2011 at 11:54 PM

Colin @ 4:06.

I was just going back thru the book Desiring God today, and a few of your questions were addressed in JP's book. I wish I could remember all the page #'s for you.

This ? was addressed: "What is the difference between a believer and a non-believer in the effort to do good, what is the role of faith in doing good?"

And these ?'s, to **some degree**: "does the Holy Spirit work in nonbelievers? If not, are non-believers capable of doing good works? If there is no difference between the good done by a believer and a non-believer what is the role of faith in doing good?"

Most of these questions can be answered without reading his book, though. I am also continually amazed at the wealth of knowledge/information in Dr. Piper's books; all of his books are a treasure. They get better and better the more you read them.

Good article, Kevin! The only thing I object to is the word "restless." Christians should be stayed upon the Lord (Isa 26:3), and not restless.

michael henry

December 20, 2011 at 11:51 AM

The young and restless titles are wrong on so many levels. They are pretentious and arrogant. If young is so smart and right, as I believe it is loftingly portrayed, how did they, or it, get that way? Did other humans who were eternally young and never settled (non-restless?) impart all gnosis to them?

It's like "missional" or "radical" or other faddish term folks like to create. "See, I am clever, I am different, no one has ever in human history known and postulated what I know" seems tobe the tenor.

I excess a bit, but finally when it comes to owning up, YR can only fall back to "my critics are Nazis", or melt back into the "coalition".


December 20, 2011 at 11:18 AM

Thanks for the post. Can you recommend some books on each of the topics listed above? Thanks.


December 20, 2011 at 11:13 AM

The three challenges that you stated are spot on! Great Post.

Nathan Brown

December 20, 2011 at 11:03 PM


Re: your statement: "There is still no consensus on how to think through word and deed, gospel proclamation and social transformation, the mission of the church and our individual callings."

I am curious to know if you agree with this statement from the Theological Vision for Ministry statement from the Council Members of the Gospel Coalition.

"Christian churches must work for justice and peace in their
neighborhoods through service even as they call individuals to
conversion and the new birth. We must work for the eternal and common good and show our neighbors we love them sacrificially whether they believe as we do or not. Indifference to the poor and disadvantagedmeans there has not been a true grasp of our salvation by sheer grace."


Thank you, Kevin – Ray Ortlund

December 20, 2011 at 10:37 AM

[...] am grateful for Kevin DeYoung’s update on the Young, Restless and Reformed crowd/network/resurgence/movement/whatever and for his [...]

Paul C

December 20, 2011 at 10:20 AM

Thanks for your post Kev. While I serve in the Reformed church and appreciate our theology I also feel like the uniting words of Christs prayer in John 17 and Meldinius' "in essentials unity and nonessentials liberty" truly outweighs some of what YRR spends a ton of time splitting hairs over.

Kevin DeYoung

December 20, 2011 at 10:13 AM

Complementarianism, unlike a specific position on baptism, has been a defining characteristic of the movement for a few reasons: (1) Historic evangelicalism has tolerated differing views on baptism. (2) Protestants have disagreed on baptism from almost the beginning of Protestantism. Egalitarianism is a new divergence. (3) Important hermeneutical issues are wrapped up in the debate over Comp/Egal.(4) There are very practical issues in doing ministry together that surface more quickly around gender issues than around baptism. There are probably other reasons, but those are four off the top of my head.

J. K. Jones

December 20, 2011 at 10:10 AM

I have dropped the label YRR. I now use the label "Presbyterian."
I defined Presbyterian as one who follows the Westminster Standards.

It feels good to be specific.


December 20, 2011 at 10:00 AM

Yes, do dump the YRR name. The part that really grates at me is "restless". It describes an emerging stage of growth as we learn for maybe the first time ever (no matter our age), the scope of God's sovereignty. But while we never have perfect rest in this world, too often this restlessness yields a sinful impatience with others. If God's sovereignty should bring about adverse circumstances in our lives, this may cause us not to rejoice in our suffering but rather to seek revenge on the perpetrators that caused the suffering, or "justice" as we define it. I believe this restless stage is a common one for those espousing reformed/Calvinist views, but speaking strictly for myself I believe that somehow, it is one that I must grow through on my way to fuller maturity in Christ. Perhaps we need to grow deeper in our dependence on God, and our awareness of our own failings, in order to experience more deeply (and within biblical parameters) the application of His grace to us.

Whither YRR? | My Blog

December 20, 2011 at 09:50 AM

[...] Kevin DeYoung: Tis a finish of a year, a time to simulate on what has been and what might be. For several months I’ve been introspective a post on this thing that’s been called Young, Restless, and Reformed. What’s good? What’s bad? What needs to be celebrated? What needs to addressed? [...]


December 20, 2011 at 09:29 AM

the last statements on being in the local church is correct.
The most valuable thing for a Christian in his walk, is to be under the discipline of a Reformed Church.


December 20, 2011 at 08:42 AM

Great post. I especially liked your last bit about working within the local church. As a Calvinist in a Wesleyan church I have been greatly enriched through such ministries as Ligonier, Desiring God, and TGC. I read blogs, magazines, and books written by Reformed folk as a way to sharpen that part of my faith. However, it is within my local church (Arminian as they are) that I have learned lessons about leadership, suffering, worship, Christian love, and other things that are essential for Christians to know but not easy to learn through anything other than seeing someone else walk through them or walking through them yourself with your Christian brethren at your side.

Whither YRR? – Justin Taylor

December 20, 2011 at 08:37 AM

[...] Kevin DeYoung: Tis the end of the year, the time to reflect on what has been and what may be. For several months I’ve been pondering a post on this thing that’s been called Young, Restless, and Reformed. What’s good? What’s bad? What needs to be celebrated? What needs to addressed? [...]

[...] Whither YRR? – Kevin DeYoung [...]

Andrew Wilson

December 20, 2011 at 07:24 AM

Kevin, great post, and thanks so much. I know you can't respond to all posts, but I'd be fascinated if you were able to reply to this one: what is it, do you think, that marks out (say) baptism as a doctrinal distinctive to be clearly and publicly celebrated amongst those who disagree, in contrast to complementarian / egalitarian theology which is common to all in the movement? I speak as a complementarian, credobaptist Brit who thinks "how people become part of God's people" is a more important biblical issue than "who leads in the church" - but I'm not being awkward here, because I genuinely do want to understand your (and others') thinking on this. (If you'd rather email, that'd be fine!) Thanks.

Ben Blakey

December 20, 2011 at 05:43 PM

Thanks for this blog, Kevin. What you said about "sanctification" resonated with me and some issues we have been discussing on staff at my church. In fact our pastor has started a blog ( to help our people discern some of the teachings out in the blogosphere that seem to blur what the Bible says about sanctification and, as you put it, "grace-driven effort."

I appreciate your thoughts on this and am looking forward to your book "The Hole in Our Holiness." When is that going to come out?

Dr. James Willingham

December 20, 2011 at 05:02 PM

Great post, but it has its shortcomings. Back in the 40s an old farmer preacher (see the comments on such in William Warren Sweet's Story of Religion in America) was preaching Sovereign Grace, and I was in his audience as a child and never knew what he preached until I was grown. Egalitarianism is what one finds in a family, between brothers and sisters. Complementarianism is functional; it must have its checks and balances or it shall become a dictatorship. Behold German in the 20th century, the result of the Nazis taking advantage of the German penchant for strong father figures. It took a bunch of egalitarians who had a functional complementarian view to corral them advocates of unchecked complementarianism. Why do we have so many YRRs, because there are those Sovereign Grace believers who pray for another, a Third Great Awakening, one that will take the whole earth and every soul on it, hopefully beginning in this generation and continuing for a thousand generations and 20,000-100,000 years and thousands and thousands of planets as mankind spreads to the stars. Perhaps we need a new alliterative acronym like ARRRSG (Any Rugged Resolved Reapers of Sovereign Grace)to remind us of what wretches we are who have been saved by such unconditional favor.


December 20, 2011 at 04:06 PM

Thank you, Kevin, for your ministry to many of us who read your posts. In the coming year, I would love to hear your thoughts on what it means to do "good works", including the following: What is the difference between a believer and a non-believer in the effort to do good? Is the Holy Spirit the originator of all good works? If so, does the Holy Spirit work in nonbelievers? If not, are non-believers capable of doing good works? If there is no difference between the good done by a believer and a non-believer, what is the role of faith in doing good?

[...] I see that Kevin DeYoung is also reviewing the Young, Restless, Reformed phenomenon at his [...]


December 20, 2011 at 03:07 PM

I very much appreciate the choice of the three areas of challenge selected by Kevin.
On ecclesiology, there are a number of things that need to be addressed. These include the nature of hierarchy within church which needs to be explored and nuanced.
Also on ecclesiology, the so-called New Perspective on Paul, which places ecclesiology much more obviously within the gospel than did the Old Perspective, may provide a fruitful dialogue partner in seeking to make progress here. Even if the various distinctives of the NPP are ultimately rejected, the process of thinking them through should assist in achieving a more nuanced ecclesiology.
On mission, I confess that I have clearly misunderstood Kevin and Gilbert and am much encouraged. Clearly they are saying that they think (repeat, think) the Chris Wrights of this world are wrong whereas I heard them as saying the Chris Wrights are wrong (no debate needed). There are probably mistakes on all sides and unless we state our views as clearly as we can and listen to those of others we will never move towards the truth.

Some have raised the compl/egal issue. Where this differs from the others is that within the YRR the decision has been reached; it is complementarian and not egalitarian. Whatever the truth of the matter is, this is what the YRR think. Thus it does not really represent a challenge WITHIN the YRR, only one for its relations with those of an egalitarian bent. Perhaps that is the challenge to the YRR. How should the YRR relate to those who accept a more egalitarian position than one's own


December 20, 2011 at 02:37 PM

Doug, I agree. My wife and I just left a PCA church which is leaving the denomination partly because the pastors have become egalitarian. The pastors also reject embracing the Gospel Coalition and the other organizations Kevin lists, and more importantly what they stand for, and in so doing cite the "unjustness" of the exclusion/apparent devaluation of women and their gifts in posts like Kevin's. They are wrong on the Bible but with this "justice' rhetoric they are able to sway impressionable people with limited Biblical literacy. It is interesting that of late Mark Driscoll has been publicly repentant about how in his complementarian teaching and leading he hasn't adequately valued and acknowledged the role and gifts of women. This is important stuff.

Doug Perry

December 20, 2011 at 01:58 PM

Kevin, great post overall. I think we need to add complimentarianism, however, because there are some really, really bad attempts of defense coming from our team.

Jim, at first I wasn't sure whether you were going on a rabbit-trail, but actually I do think your comment about Biblical complimentarianism brings up an awesome point. The way I see it, the YRR or whatever we consider ourselves has a real blindspot in the area of Complimentarianism vs. Egalitarianism.
I would really like to see men like Carson and Keller work this out further. I see too many younger scholars botching this issue so badly that I'm afraid they're giving credence to Egals -- and this is just in the last month alone. Carson and Keller have been much better at understanding the debate and ultimately defending what needs to be defended (rather than throwing the baby out with the bathwater, knocking down strawmen, contorting linguistics, and reviving Arianism in order to do so).


December 20, 2011 at 01:34 PM

Once heard Richard Pratt say, "Narrow identification, broad cooperation." Sounds like a good M.O.


December 20, 2011 at 01:18 PM

Great post, Kevin, and timely, but: " ... BROTHERS discovered there were many reasons to cheer for each other"??? Obviously, Biblical complementarianism embraces, supports and treasures the important roles and gifts of women in the church, and many women are actively involved in the organizations you list. Complementarian women -- gasp -- even attend evangelical seminaries and are passionate about theology, biblical truth and the glory of God. Let's not give our misguided egalitarian critics needless ammunition.

The Hallway of Evangelicalism | derek griz

December 11, 2012 at 08:52 PM

[...] DeYoung reflected recently on the future of the “Young, Restless, and Reformed” movement. In his article, [...]