Welcome to Carnivorous Caribou

Monday, July 31, 2006

Vic Young Interview

A few weeks ago, Vic sent every registered active pastor in the FGBC the paper he is presenting to Oxford. (I reviewed his paper here). The day before BNYC, I called Vic and interviewed him.

You can find out more about Vic and Fountain of Life Bible Church by following the links.

Carnivorous Carbou: Tell me a little about your conversion? Were you young? You were old? Grew up in the church? Were smacked over the head with Christ and had never heard of him until later in life? Or how you came to life in Christ?

Vic Young:

I grew up in Baltimore, Maryland. I lived there until I was 10 years old. My parents were part of the Christian Church, or Church of Christ movement. Baltimore Christian Church actually began in my parents’ living room. When I was 8 years old, I went forward and was baptized. I believe I had an eight-year old comprehension of soteriology and what salvation meant. My parents are from here in Tennessee, and when I turned 10 years old, they moved back home for them. So that was cultural shock for me, initially moving from Baltimore Maryland to the hills of East Tennessee. And by this time I was getting ready to enter my teen years and they were trying to find a church. They visited around lots and never felt the same attachment they felt with the church they were involved in the early stage with. I started refusing to go to church in my teens. When I was 20, I was in Marinette, Wisconsin, The Ansul Company Fire Equipment had a school in Marinette, Wisconsin. I was at that school and had overdosed on alcohol. When they got me to the hospital, I was in shock from alcohol poisoning, dehydrated…on the verge of dying. I made some promises to God, as people do during that time. After I got out of the hospital, I didn’t plan on keeping them. I tried to forget them. But from that time on, a strange thing happened that lasted for about two years, two words just literally got on my mind as an obsession.: “Personal Savior.” My wife was going to church at the time. She grew up in the Church of the Brethren. Her pastor came to visit my office and I said, “Hey, What does it mean that Jesus is my Personal Savior. He lived 2000 years ago. Now, personal would be if somebody came into this room and they were getting ready to shoot you and I jumped in front of you and I took the bullet. I would have died for you personally. Jesus lived 2000 years ago, I live now, so how could He be my personal Savior?” I didn’t realize at the time the difference between liberal and conservative ministers. And he was an extremely liberal minister. And he couldn’t answer the question. He realized he couldn’t answer the question through all of his philosophical blabbing. Finally I said, “You don’t know either, do you?” He got red faced. I said, “If you’ll excuse me, I’ve got work to do.” He left, I looked up to the ceiling after trying to find the definition of personal Savior for over a year and just literally called out to God, “What does it mean that You are my personal Savior.” And immediately the Lord laid on my heart the very simple definition “When I was on the cross, you were on my mind.” And all of the sudden it became crystal clear. It was relevant. It was personal. Well, I started going to the church that my wife was attending. They didn’t really have a youth program. They asked me if I would start teaching the youth. And one thing lead to another. I went back to a Bible college. I thought I wanted to be a Christian writer, I had no desire to be a pastor. I had been in Bible college about a year or so when a congregation that was without a pastor asked if I would come fill in one night, and next thing I knew I was being asked to pastor the church.

CC: So how did Fountain of Life get started?

VY:

Well I had become the youngest full time pastor in the southeast in the Church of the Brethren. At 21, I was pastoring while I was still going to college. I had gone to a four year college and had graduated from there in three years and gone on to seminary at Emmanuel School of Religion. I had been there eight and a half years and the church was just bursting at the seams. We had some older members of the church when I came to the church who did not want to add on, did not want to build. “We’re as big as we want to be.” So I fought that sentiment for about a year, then tendered my resignation and left. We came to Johnson City, which is about 15 up the road from my previous pastorate. Rented a store front and just started at ground zero, so to speak, a new work. I started this church 21 years ago this October.

CC: And what lead you to the Fellowship of Grace Brethren?

VY:

Well, while I was at Graham Bible College, Ted Hildebrandt’s first theology class that he taught was my first theology class I had as a student. He spoke highly of Grace Seminary and went on to teach there at Grace Seminary, he’s now at Gordon College. Tremendous, literally genius. Wrote the paradigm Hebrew tutor. He and I became fast friends. We talked about theological issues a lot of times way after class had ended. Also Dr Gary Cohen who received his doctorate at Grace Seminary, wrote the book with Salem Kirban called “Revelation Visualized.” And these two men who I knew well, spoke highly of Grace Seminary. That always intrigued me. Our whole congregation pulled out of the Church of the Brethren two years before I resigned my position, because of the extreme liberalism. And I had fought that the entire time I was with the Church of the Brethren. When we started Fountain of Life, we were totally unaffiliated. We were independent, but the most dependant congregation you could find anywhere. I realized as the church began to grow and we were getting larger and larger. I was considering the future of the church and I didn’t want us to become ingrown and I wanted our youth to have outreaches, to have affiliation with people of like passion. I got in touch with Larry Chamberlain and he and Kurt Miller came down here. They just feel in love with us and we fell in love with them. When Charles Ashman came down, we realized our doctrinal statement looked almost identical. We still had the “Love Feast” at communion that I brought with me from the Church of the Brethren. And so it was a hand in glove situation. It was just a perfect, perfect match. We first went to the national conference in Winona Lake before we actually became affiliated. The main thing I wanted to check out, and I took a group of folks with me, was the fact that a lot of our folks, like myself, are long hair, bearded, motorcycle riding people or blue collared folks. I wanted to see what kind of response we would get; if we would have people who would look down their noses at us. If so, I didn’t want any part of it. Or if they would embrace us. We were warmly embraced in the Fellowship. And we have appreciated that ever sense.

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