"The new Calvinism is not a resurgence but an entirely novel formula which strips the doctrine of its historic practice, and unites it with the world."

Peter Masters of London’s Metropolitan Tabernacle on the “New Calvinism” and Worldliness

HT: Religious Affections

Must Read!

Peter Masters just said everything I have been thinking. I Amen the whole thing.

Response from Phil Johnson

I asked Phil Johnson of Grace Community Church (mentioned in the article) and http://teampyro.blogspot.com/ Pyromaniacs what his response to the article might be. He sent me this (which I reproduce with his permission, BTW)-

Quote:
Given Dr. Masters' stature, his age, and his history of usefulness for the cause of Christ, I'm happy to let him have his say without feeling the need to argue with him on the points where I disagree. As you note, he makes some valid points and says vital things no one else is saying. Like you, I can't agree with him on every detail of the worship issue completely, and I certainly wouldn't place the importance he does on matters of style per se. (The doctrinal content of our singing and the mindfulness we pay to the lyrics is of much more importance in my judgment than the question of whether we're being accompanied by instruments or not.)

Anyway, he has given a message on this subject at every conference I have ever attended with him. In his mind it's the most vital issue facing the church today. No one is likely to change Dr. Masters' mind on that, so all anyone in your position (or mine) can do is listen with an open heart, glean whatever edification we can from his lectures on the worship issue, and be thankful to the Lord for the way He has used Dr. Masters.

If Dr. Masters had come to central London and taken the pulpit of a thriving church and let it die while making worship style the one issue he was passionate about, even while his evangelistic testimony in the community completely diminished--then we might be justified in taking him aside and suggesting that his priorities are upside down. But since the opposite is the case, and he took a historic but nearly-dead congregation and shepherded it through a season of growth and fruitful evangelism, so that it is now full every Sunday, I think he is entitled to speak his mind on the worship issue, and I'm thankful to the Lord for all He has accomplished through Dr. Masters.

I'm also deeply grateful for Dr. Masters' own faithfulness and clarity on all the crucial doctrinal issues of our time.

Given all that, I have no trouble listening to him with great profit even when I disagree. I just have to keep all that in clear perspective.

Hope that helps.

Greg Linscott
Marshall, MN

Thanks, Greg

Thank you for posting the response from Phil Johnson. I didn't know who Peter Masters was, so I have to admit my first response was not so charitable, and Mr. Johnson's response gives me some balance to my perspective. I still think some of the basis premises that Dr. Masters it operating from (ex - that contemporary music is inherently wrong) are wrong, but, as I would say of many of the people that I grew up with, it seems that Dr. Masters is a very godly man, and even those of us who may not see noncessationism and ccm as wrong would do well to heed what he says and be aware of the excesses that can easily happen.

The article raises some good

The article raises some good points and echoes some of my own concerns. I'm surprised, though, both at what it did and did not say.

He did focus on a small number of (imo) highly subjective areas - the music employed at Resolved, for example. One can't know what Jonathan Edwards or Calvin would have thought of such a thing, since they did not live in a context that had that as an option. He also focused on his complaints to the extent that they appear to be the totality of these men's ministries. There is a lack of balance to such an assessment. John MacArthur doesn't normally preach to Resolved-style worship. John Piper's ministry contacts extend far beyond Driscoll. Josh Harris does more than encourage people to be Christian rappers. Some perspective seems wanting. Are none of their practices in line with historic Calvinism?

But equally strange is the number of areas of true discontinuity that he did not mention. He does not bring up (or I missed it) the general disregard for the Reformed understanding of the law, especially the sabbath and the prohibition against images of Christ. He does not bring up the abandonment of the regulative principle of worship. He does not mention MacArthur's dispensationalism.

So, the article struck me as being strange, perhaps majoring on the minors and ignoring the majors.

My Blog: http://dearreaderblog.com

Cor meum tibi offero Domine prompte et sincere. ~ John Calvin

I love Dr. Masters. I have

I love Dr. Masters. I have visited the Tabernacle in London and really appreciated the truly vibrant, evangelistic spirit of that historic church. Dr. Masters is a godly man and a good expositor of the Word. I have great respect for his work and character.

This article, however, reads more to me as a rant than a defense of biblical piety. it shows genuine frustration and concern for the evangelical community. I am concerned too, but not with the same things Dr. Masters mentions in the article.

This article is about music, plain and simple. Dr. Masters has a strong opinion, based on his understanding of the Scriptures. He is very clear as to what he thinks of contemporary Christian music as evidenced by descriptors like "seriously distorted," "worldly, sensation-stirring, high-decibel, rhythmic," "revelled," "thunderous," "inept," "awkward," "immoral drug-induced," etc.

As always, Dr. Masters, like anyone else is entitled to an opinion and has certainly earned a right to be heard. In fact, I would argue that every Christian NEEDS to come to personal conclusions in matters like music. I thoroughly understand Dr. Master's point of view. And in some points, I agree. I am thankful that, unlike many who share Dr. Master's opinion, he does not make this a test of separation or "secondary separation." Listen to his argument. Listen to his rant. Appreciate his concern for holiness in the Church. And approach the subject of music with discernment and love. God has seen fit NOT to set a standard for us in this area; so let's all do our very best to please Him in our musical choices without demanding universal compliance to our opinions.

Brian McCrorie Indianapolis, IN www.bowingdown.com

Peter's writings

It is a remarkable church history - The Tabernacle. And I appreciate Peter Masters staying right within the vein of the Tabernacle's rich history. Look what Spurgeon had to say about the culture of his day. Look what he had to say about drama, theator, etc.

I don't mind when Peter Masters or any other older fundamentalists (OF) share concerns about worldliness or share misgivings about resurgences. Jeremiah shared all kinds of misgivings about the resurgence under Josiah during the days of declension.

Btw, with our B.B.C. 2009 theme on love, I hope to order copies of the booklet, "The Goal of Brotherly Love" (1994) by Peter Masters for all the folks in our church family. I have enjoyed a number of the booklets written by Peter.

Couple of things ...

... about Masters' rant.

First, like many fundies, Masters appears to define worldliness in terms of music, showbusiness, and outward appearances. Exegetically, worldliness is defined in terms of the heart and affections (1 John 2:15-17). Therefore, it is entirely possible for traditional and conservative music-loving Christians to be worldly in their musical tastes ... if they love their music for the wrong reasons ... or if they love themselves because of their conservative stand ... or if they think God loves them (more), or they are more acceptable to Him because of their musical tastes! Masters apparently does not recognize this biblical description of worldliness.

Second, Masters seems to describe all contemporary Calvinism as worldly. In doing so, he seems to cut men off from the very doctrines he claims to embrace. Perhaps this is why many have referred to his essay as a rant. Rants offer much in terms of lobbing grenades from a distance, but little in terms of biblical solutions to a perceived problem that in reality is not related to Calvinism (but to methodology).

Third, Masters seems to confuse some contemporary Calvinists with Calvinism. As fundamentalists should know, ideas rather than men define a movement or theological system. While some Calvinists may embrace contemporary methodologies, Calvinism has never been about men or methodologies; it has been about ideas. Masters apparently is oblivious to this important distinction.

Ken Fields

Huh?

I guess I am a bit startled by the almost wholly negative response to Dr. Master's article here. I think it reveals we don't really grasp the point he is making. The sovereignty of God extends far beyond soteriology and his article I believe makes some good points. There is something wholly disjointed and puzzling about much of the worldliness that exists in the worship and lifestyles of those that claim to have such a high view of God.

Ken, While scripture might define worldliness in terms of the heart and affections primarily I think we are really selling things short to think that worldly affections don't affect things like music, showbusiness, and outward appearances. Masters, who is a calvinist BTW, does not confuse contemporary calvinists with Calvinism, the whole point of his article is that contemporary calvinists are really no calvinists at all. I might not state it in quite those terms, but the general thrust of his article seems to hit home IMO. People want God's sovereignty in their soteriology but not in their sanctification or worship.

Ryan wrote: People want God's

Ryan wrote:
People want God's sovereignty in their soteriology but not in their sanctification or worship.

Ryan,

This is an incredible assumption, IMO. What do you base it on?

Brian McCrorie Indianapolis, IN www.bowingdown.com

let me reword that...

Brian,

Let me reword what I said. Perhaps that will help communicate my point. I posted quickly and did not realize how that sounded.

As I see these men's ministries, God's sovereignty is exalted and controlling (in a good way) in their understanding of soteriology, but it seems to me (and as I understand him, Dr. Masters as well) that God's sovereignty does not seem to govern to the same level their worship and aspects of their sanctification. There is to me an incredible inconsistency between the preaching and the music at most of these ministries.

Masters wrote: "Truly proclaimed, the sovereignty of God must include consecration, reverence, sincere obedience to his will, and separation from the world. You cannot have Puritan soteriology without Puritan sanctification. You should not entice people to Calvinistic (or any) preaching by using worldly bait."

The real "New Calvinism" is not your father's Calvinism.

This is your great, great, great, grandfather's Puritanism with many of the doctrinal flaws and little of the "pure." Peter Masters rightly calls it Puritanism. A morphed Calvinism with soteriological flaws!

The so called "New Calvinism" has more problems than worship. It is fundamentally flawed in its Soteriology. MacArthur's extreme statements and continued extreme emphasis regarding his "Lordship" gospel involves a salvation which confuses the works resulting from regeneration with the preconditions of Justification.

John Piper's doctrine of "Future Justification," now stated more clearly in his new book on the subject, is clear heresy that puts the assurance of salvation out of the reach of believers and actually makes justification the same as Augustine and Roman-ism. It is somewhat the same as the dual justification theory of Martin Bucer that was soundly rejected by the later reformers. In the latest issue of "Christianity Today," there is a comparison of theories of justification between Piper and Wright, Piper appears less orthodox than N.T. Wright.

The lack of concern for these major soteriological errors appears to indicate that the so called "New Calvinism" movement is not a return to a concern for sound doctrine but an exercise in pseudo intellectualism and attraction to philosophical reasoning. There may also be a cultic like following of certain leaders with high media visibility and failure to properly discern what these men are really teaching.

An unclear doctrine of salvation does not exalt the sovereignty of God. The worship music problem would appear to be a real but lesser problem.

Bob, I think you have

Bob,

I think you have misrepresented MacArthur's position, and I don't know enough about Piper's to comment. But aren't you confusing Calvinism as a broader idea with two men with whom many might disagree and still be Calvinistic in soteriology? Painting a whole group with two brushes that many might reject is not a valid argument against the doctrines of the larger whole.

Whether that larger whole is right or wrong is a different argument. But you have not actually made an argument against the idea, but perhaps (and I say perhaps) against two people.

Ryan wrote: Brian, Let me

Ryan wrote:
Brian,

Let me reword what I said. Perhaps that will help communicate my point. I posted quickly and did not realize how that sounded.

As I see these men's ministries, God's sovereignty is exalted and controlling (in a good way) in their understanding of soteriology, but it seems to me (and as I understand him, Dr. Masters as well) that God's sovereignty does not seem to govern to the same level their worship and aspects of their sanctification. There is to me an incredible inconsistency between the preaching and the music at most of these ministries.

Masters wrote: "Truly proclaimed, the sovereignty of God must include consecration, reverence, sincere obedience to his will, and separation from the world. You cannot have Puritan soteriology without Puritan sanctification. You should not entice people to Calvinistic (or any) preaching by using worldly bait."

Ryan, when you say that God's sovereignty should govern our worship or govern our sanctification, what do you mean by that? Do you mean that we believe in God's sovereignty in relation to salvation but practice more of a "free will" form of worship and sanctification?

Brian McCrorie Indianapolis, IN www.bowingdown.com

Answer and further explanation.

Larry wrote:
Bob,

I think you have misrepresented MacArthur's position, and I don't know enough about Piper's to comment. But aren't you confusing Calvinism as a broader idea with two men with whom many might disagree and still be Calvinistic in soteriology? Painting a whole group with two brushes that many might reject is not a valid argument against the doctrines of the larger whole.

Whether that larger whole is right or wrong is a different argument. But you have not actually made an argument against the idea, but perhaps (and I say perhaps) against two people.

MacArthur's view of his Lordship gospel is made clear at the Grace Community Church website that lists this as one of their distinctive. It lists the characteristics. It should be easily recognized as a confused theology of the gospel. it is not a clear understanding of "by grace are you saved through faith." His latest revision of his book "The Gospel according to Jesus Christ" continues with an extreme view of the preconditions of Justification and assurance. It has been rejected by two very well established scholars at The Master's Seminary (who were former professors of MacArthur's at Talbot) and the IFCA of which MacArthur is a member. It appears some young fundamentalists find this faith plus "hard to believe" gospel as attractive. Perhaps they, like MacArthur, have backgrounds that make it hard for them to fully appreciate grace. This may also be why they find John Piper's theology attractive. It is not "sovereign grace" but diminished grace.

The theology of these two men is probably the most influential of the "New Calvinist" movement so it certainly is characteristic of most of these young Calvinists. The broad brush is properly applied.

Calvinism has had a prominent emphasis in the traditional Fundamentalist movement. However, in America it was often a moderate Calvinism. This moderate Calvinism was seen in many who came out of the old Northern Baptists. It has continued in emphasis with such schools as Central Baptist, Detroit Baptist, Calvary Baptist, Faith Baptist, and Baptist Bible, PA. It was present in the GARBC and the later Conservative Baptists which came from the FFB. This moderate Calvinism varied. Some were 5 pointers. Many were 4 pointers. Others were 4 point but with open ended views on irresistible grace v. free will. Many were Dispensationalists and therefore rejected the covenants of works and grace of Covenant Reformed theology. This moderated their view and appeared to give an additional balance in emphasis. Even the 5 point Calvinists, appeared to not make their Calvinism the capstone of their emphasis or ministry. There was moderation and balanced ministry. This cannot be said of the New Calvinist movement. Their Puritan Calvinism is often worn on their sleeves. Instead of a testimony of salvation in Christ there is often a testimony of their conversion to Calvinism. There is a militancy about their Calvinism that has caused splits in churches. Also, in contrast to prior student movements such as Campus Crusade in the fifties, sixties, and seventies, and the youth oriented Calvary Chapel movement of the Seventies and eighties, these are not large groups of new converts moving from paganism. They are Christians gathering to be indoctrinated and to become self absorbed in a certain emphasis of doctrine.

The recent Internet controversy regarding the FBFI and anti Calvinistic rhetoric involved a viewpoint that was misplaced and wrong. It ignorantly attacked all Calvinism in general. It should have been denounced. There are good Calvinists. However, the New Calvinist movement does not appear to be spiritually balanced or properly biblical. There are good reasons for young Christians to be cautious. There needs to be a warning regarding this movement and a call to use keen discernment in accepting what is being taught and advocated. Certain leaders have received inordinate adulation. Their teaching has been too readily accepted. the good has been praised but there has been a failure of discernment.

Young Fundamentalists who have been repulsed by certain kinds of Fundamentalist ministries may have good reason to flee from such. However, they must be aware that there have been, and are, fundamentalist ministries that are Biblical, loving, and worthy of their attention. There are good Fundamentalist schools such as those seminaries mentioned prior and good Bible schools such as Maranatha and Northland, and also Clearwater Christian College. There is a type of institution and ministry that should be avoided, but this is also true of most of the broader Evangelicalism. There are different kinds of Fundamentalism.

I write the above while acknowledging there may be much good in the ministry of John Piper and John MacArthur. They are good men of good personal integrity. They do declare a gospel that if believed would bring salvation to the soul. What is of dispute is their further explanations of the Gospel and its implications. Also some related doctrine. Both are 5 point Calvinists.

Bob, Having read your further

Bob,

Having read your further explanation, I am unconvinced. I am not sure you are properly representing MacArthur. Your use of terms like "precommitment for justification" are, IMO, what is confusing the issue. I am not an apologist for MacArthur. It's been years since I read what he has to say about it. And it will probably be years more. But you make it sound as if he denies justification by faith alone, and I think that is a misrepresentation. The issue is the nature of saving faith. It is not whether faith alone saves. As I said also, I don't know enough about Piper on the point at issue.

But, I think it unwise to broadbrush a whole group based on those two. I think Driscoll has far more sway than MacArthur. I think Mahaney does. I think MacArthur is viewed by most of the "new Calvinists" as a little stiff and old-fashioned. They are much more persuaded by Sovereign Grace, Mars Hill, etc. I think the charge that "it is not sovereign grace but diminished grace" doesn't measure up to the reality of it. I am not a big fan of "new Calvinism." So I am not bothered by critiques of it. I just think perhaps some more caution and nuance is necessary in what you are saying.

Bob, I fail to see how Grace

Bob,

I fail to see how Grace Community's defense of what they call http://audio.gracechurch.org/filetransfer.asp?id=2624&fn=Lordship%20Salv... ]Lordship Salvation is not a clear understanding of "by grace you are saved through faith" or in any way places preconditions on justification and assurance. Am I missing something?

I tend to agree with Larry; it's an issue of the nature of saving faith.

Father of three, husband of one, servant of the Lord Jesus Christ. I blog at mattolmstead.com.

Rant? Worldliness?

Rant?
Didn't really see the article as a rant. Wasn't Dr. Masters using a book recently written on this topic? This seemed to promt the article. You may disagree with that author or even Dr. Masters view of Puritan piety, but I didn't think it was fair to refer to this as a rant.

Worldliness?
I believe that an emphasis on a simple "list" of worldly things can seem pretty shallow and that the heart is vastly more important to God than the hand. However, is it not best to say that worldliness begins in the heart (1 Jn 2:15), but usually manifest itself outwardly (Rom 12:2 "conformed to the world" & 1 Jn 2:16)? Sure, someone could refrain from all "worldy" things and still have a corrupt heart, but wouldn't an un-worldly heart want to be able to distinguish what "the world" is so as not to be conformed to it? It has to be more than just love and affections. 1 John 2:15 says to love not the things in the world. Do we not have a responsibility to distinguish some of these things?

I don't want to misunderstand anyone, but I would like a clarification. Ken said that "worldliness is defined in terms of the heart and affections." To fully apply this logic about worldliness, would you really say that anything not specifically called sin in Scripture is fine to enjoy as long as our heart and affections are right? Would it not be more exegetically accurate to say that worldliness is defined (according to 1 Jn 2:15-16) as loving three distinct things - lust of flesh, lust of eyes and pride of life?

Not much time ... so a quick answer

Jason,

I don't think anyone has insinuated that worldliness is limited to the heart or affections. But biblically speaking, that's how God defines worldliness.

Our affections drive our actions. What that means is that the heart is the root of the issue here, not the behavior. People can have right behavior and a wrong heart. So, like foolishness is bound up in the heart of the child, so worldliness is bound up in the hearts of people.

So what is "worldly" music? What is "worldly" showmanship? Is classical music "worldly" because the vast majority of its composers and musicians are driven by a "worldly" worldview?

Biblically speaking, being conformed to the "world" (Romans 12:2, ESV) ... has to do with the world's mold ... or a worldly philosophy (i.e., I am god). The Bible presents no list of "worldly" actions; only "worldly" affections!

Also, what are the "things in the world" from 1 John 2:15, ESV? My vehicle ... my home ... my money ... my children? Loving the things in the world is not worldliness ... it's the result of worldliness!

Sorry for my discombobulated answers and questions ... I'm on my way out the door!

Ken Fields

What are the things in the world

Some of the things you listed could certainly fall under the lust of the flesh / eyes and pride of life categories. I would say that although the applications of these could differ for different people, there are some things that could be applied consistently to all of us. Sure, it is hard to apply it to music...but can it be applied to some music? I believe so. I hear what you are saying about classical and other conservative types of music and agree that a person must be consistent when applying whatever filters he chooses to employ.

How about this definition from D.A. Carson (not an exact quote) - worldliness is anything that makes sin look normal and easy and makes godliness look abnormal and difficult (from one of the 9marks interviews). I like that and think itis a fair way of saying that there are certain things in society than can be accurately described as worldly.

Correction

Some of you might have caught that the quote was not from D.A. Carson - I knew something wasn't right. It was actually from an interview (not 9Marks, I messed all up) with David Wells. Here is the exact quote, "Worldliness is that system of values in any given culture that makes sin look normal and which makes righteousness look strange or alien. It's what gives public affirmation, public credence, public approval to fallen human life."

Jason Boling wrote: Some of

Jason Boling wrote:
Some of you might have caught that the quote was not from D.A. Carson - I knew something wasn't right. It was actually from an interview (not 9Marks, I messed all up) with David Wells. Here is the exact quote, "Worldliness is that system of values in any given culture that makes sin look normal and which makes righteousness look strange or alien. It's what gives public affirmation, public credence, public approval to fallen human life."

Jason,

Good thoughts ... I love that quote from Wells. I think it is from a Desiring God video.

My concern is that many fundies define worldliness exclusively in terms of music, dress, hair length, television, movies, etc., while never addressing the cause and core of worldliness--the heart. That's what Wells is discussing in the video. Worldliness is not trite, like pants on women or makeup on ladies or certain styles of music or worship. As you said, it's much more serious than that: it's anti-god affections and desires and philosophies that result in man giving himself over to sin.

Thanks for the interaction, Jason.

For all who are interested, the Wells video can be downloaded for viewing here: http://www.desiringgod.org/media/video/2006_National/national2006_wells_...

Ken Fields

FWIW

Hey guys! I know that many have read the article by Masters and can see that the opinions vary. I would like to point out that Masters is talking about more than methodology, and yet methodology is where he focused his most pointed attacks. He is appalled that people would conduct a conference in honor of a puritan and yet conduct themselves in a manner which (he believes) is the polar opposite of that which characterized the man's life. Masters is saying that to divest the man's manner of life from the conference is to deny the doctrines which he stood for. I think that may be a stretch.

The issue is not simply methodology, nor is it just about a new form of Calvinism. The issue is whether one can identify with men classed as "Puritan" while using contemporary methodology. Masters' position is that not only is it not possible but that it is preposterous. The key is that this is MASTERS' OPINION! It is not absolute truth. It is one man's opinion. Some may embrace his point of view and that is ok. Some may vehemently disagree with Masters and that also is ok. What is not ok is for us to ignore the facts.

My personal stand is more in line with the men that Masters criticized than with Masters himself. However, I think that, as a man with much experience and passion, Masters has pointed out what he believes may be the undoing of this movement. I was angry at first glance through the article, but now must admit that I see some very valid points.

1. If we are to claim the lineage of the great puritans we must also strive to emulate their lifestyle.
2. If we are to survive as a group we must also take into account our brethren who may differ with us.
3. We must also follow the Scriptures which tell us to do all things decently and in order.

These points I concede. The following points however I would also like to make.

1. Stating that methodology different than one's own preference is part of a "seriously distorted," "worldly, sensation-stirring, high-decibel, rhythmic," "revelled," "thunderous," "inept," "awkward," "immoral drug-induced," is akin to slander.
2. Portraying men who have many years of faithful service to the Gospel as those who would be considered enemies of the cross is unacceptable.
3. Assumptions that all who attend these events are in complete agreement with all that is said and done at them is also not profitable.
4. Of the men Masters mentions many are friends because of their agreement with cardinal doctrines of the faith. These same men often challenge each other on the points where they disagree. (E.g. Ligon Duncan is constantly being questioned about paedobaptism by Mohler and Maheney, and Maheney is questionened often by his friends on his non-cessasionist views.)

The fact that Masters published an article pointing out all of the areas he disagrees with and none of the areas that would give cause for hope prove it is a rant. However, as a man far wiser than me, I can glean wisdom even from his rants. I would also like to point out that, as a man with far more experience than I, it would be nice to see him use better logic, and back up his opinions with Scripture if he expects the younger generation to give heed and learn the lessons better than their teachers.

Just because life is a vapor doesn't mean we need to blow smoke!

Facing the Music

I agree with Brian McCrorie's assessment of the article. When you boil it down, it is all about the music. Growing up as I did in a context where music was THE ISSUE (the Bill Gothard organization), I can understand why so many of the YRRs are sick of it. There is a tendency to discard entire movements because of musical tastes--which is exactly what Masters does in his piece.

I remember once hearing Bill Gothard state with conviction that the reason God did not bless Spurgeon as much as he did Moody (where he got that idea I will never know) was because Spurgeon smoked. While I am positive Masters would not agree with that assessment, the more I read his article, the more convinced I become that this is exactly what he is doing to MacArthur, Mahaney, et al--he merely substitutes cigars for guitars.

Missionary in Brazil, author of "The Astonishing Adventures of Missionary Max" Online at: http://www.comingstobrazil.com http://cadernoteologico.wordpress.com

Not Just Music

While music is prominent, I don't think it's accurate to say Masters only addressed music. He took on other behavior he considers to be worldly, too, such as "clubbing" and lack of commitment to church involvement and attendance, for example.

The comparison of music to cigars is not a good one either, in my assessment, because cigars are not to my knowledge used in an overt corporate worship activity as music is. While I think there is a conversation to be had and reasons a Christian can conclude he should not use tobacco, I also think it is possible to have an overall proper conception of and orientation toward God while indulging in tobacco. Music, as a means of communication, has a tremendous influence of shaping and directing that orientation and perception. It isn't as simple as saying Masters' is universally arguing against an instrument like people argue against smoking a cigar. Music factors in, but there is a bigger lifestyle picture that he is addressing, too.

Greg Linscott
Marshall, MN

Not Just Music...But Mostly Music

While Masters does indeed mention other things besides music, it seems evident to me that music is what is "in his craw".

Also, it was never my intention to say that cigar smoking is the same kind of issue as style of worship. My peeve is the tendency of some to write off entire ministries because of one or two aspects with which they do not agree.

The whole article reminded me of the infamous Dan Sweatt piece--minus the Arminianism and bad church history--where a preacher takes to task all the big names.

I feel the need to say that I agree with Dr. Masters that worldliness in the church is a problem of epic proportions. Based on my observations, however, I would humbly venture that music tastes have less to do with this than Masters seems to think. I will never forget a pastor telling me "Andrew, I have young people in my church who like contemporary Christian music, and when I talk to them, we have sweet fellowship. And, I have others in my church who hold the conservative musical convictions I have always held, and they are stinkers." This has been my experience as well.

PS. Greg, the mental image of cigar smoking as an overt corporate worship activity made me smile.

Missionary in Brazil, author of "The Astonishing Adventures of Missionary Max" Online at: http://www.comingstobrazil.com http://cadernoteologico.wordpress.com

Heh

Quote:
Greg, the mental image of cigar smoking as an overt corporate worship activity made me smile.

...and Spurgeon offered a smoke offering unto the Lord... Biggrin

Greg Linscott
Marshall, MN

Peter Masters a godly man

I think this is one more example of how we can listen to a man of God concerning a subject but still come to different conclusions. There was a time in my spiritual walk when I thought that every time I heard a godly man speak I had to embrace all that he was saying without even a hint of disagreement. I changed my stance on that when I realized how varying the views are, even between very godly men.

Peter Master's will probably go down in history as one of the great men of faith. I have greatly appreciated his ministry. I would initially disagree with much of what he had to say in this article. However, I think we must be cautious about quickly writing off someone of Peter Master's spiritual stature. This article gives me some food for thought.

Andrew Comings wrote: I agree

Andrew Comings wrote:
I agree with Brian McCrorie's assessment of the article. When you boil it down, it is all about the music. Growing up as I did in a context where music was THE ISSUE (the Bill Gothard organization), I can understand why so many of the YRRs are sick of it. There is a tendency to discard entire movements because of musical tastes--which is exactly what Masters does in his piece.
I take issue with the claim of this portion of your post and here is why. Here, you are claiming two things:

1. That fundamentally the article and/or objection is "all about the music".
2. That Masters is discarding this movement "because of musical tastes" and you state this is "exactly what he does".

Masters makes it clear that it is not the music, rather the "experience-indulgent-sensually" oriented ideology/theology of "charismaticsm" that is now accepted in this new Calvinistic sect, which uses, by and large in their meetings, the platform of music to initiate, heighten and validate their communal sessions. Masters is not challenging the music, in and of itself, but the acceptance of it and ANY OTHER "sensually" based mechanism as a source for spiritual experiences or issues of public liberties which we know that in fact are products promoted by cosmic diabolicus sold as indulgence, a lack of deportment, intemperance, and epicureanism.

The reason that music is being dealt with here so strongly is because music is the highly pronounced feature and/or mechanism of their alleged spiritual encounters and experiences and it is a form of music that has with it a very long history of wetting sensual and carnal appetites. But be sure, Masters does not cite music exclusively and appeals more broadly to the fundamental cause of it and OTHER elements being so readily accepted in ANY FORM. And to demonstrate Master's validity in contending with this portion of the movement (music) and the necessity of addressing this prominent element of emergent/charismatic/Calvinism who claim a Puritan soteriology he states:

Quote:
You cannot have Puritan soteriology without Puritan sanctification. You should not entice people to Calvinistic (or any) preaching by using worldly bait. We hope that young people in this movement will grasp the implications of the doctrines better than their teachers, and come away from the compromises. But there is a looming disaster in promoting this new form of Calvinism.
There is such thing as libertarian intemperance, epicureanism if you will. It just happens that in these gatherings these groups have made musical license their choice of immodesty and contradiction. If these groups were using another platform as extensively as they do music, such as drinking, flaunting wealth, and so on Masters would address them to that degree, and by the way, he does, if you recall, address other forms of indiscretion:[Quote ]One of the mega-churches admired in the book is the six-thousand strong Mars Hill Church at Seattle, founded and pastored by Mark Driscoll, who blends emerging church ideas (that Christians should utilise worldly culture) with Calvinistic theology [see endnote 1 ].

This preacher is also much admired by some reformed men in the UK, but his church has been described (by a sympathiser) as having the most ear-splitting music of any, and he has been rebuked by other preachers for the use of very ‘edgy’ language and gravely improper humour (even on television). He is to be seen in videos preaching in a Jesus teeshirt, symbolising the new compromise with culture, while at the same time propounding Calvinistic teaching. So much for the embracing of Puritan doctrine divested of Puritan lifestyle and worship.[/Quote ]So it isn't just music, rather a certain mentality lacking the integrity of discernment, maturity, composure and spiritual and personal poise to which he objects.

In my view, attempting to reduce Master's article to major highlights and failing to recognize the broader treatment and consideration appears not just reactionary but quite unfair to our duty to weigh the the entire article with all of its components. He did not just dismiss an entire movement based on taste in music, he addressed a grossly incompatible theology and practice and rather naive, immature and imprudent indulgences and liberties not just privately practiced but given great ascension as virtuous, superior and enlightened by its leaders. I believe Masters is much more thoughtful than being guilty of "just discarding a movement over taste in music".

Alex Guggenheim wrote: In my

Alex Guggenheim wrote:

In my view, attempting to reduce Master's article to major highlights and failing to recognize the broader treatment and consideration appears not just reactionary but quite unfair to our duty to weigh the the entire article with all of its components. He did not just dismiss an entire movement based on taste in music, he addressed a grossly incompatible theology and practice and rather naive, immature and imprudent indulgences and liberties not just privately practiced but given great ascension as virtuous, superior and enlightened by its leaders. I believe Masters is much more thoughtful than being guilty of "just discarding a movement over taste in music".

Thanks for saying this.

I am not at all surprised to see outrage at Master's article. Sigh. I think I'm in the wrong crowd at SI anymore.

While it sometimes makes for interesting reading, I find the hasty generalizations and misrepresentations (such as of Master's article) and judging just as harsh as those who many of you are criticizing. It is really sad. I see very little tolerance. You cry for tolerance, but you don't really want tolerance for just anyone...it's only if they agree with you. We ALL are that way. Very few of us really want to tolerate the other person, esp. if we deem them to be "in error."

The most tolerant, are probably the ones not posting, or maybe even not reading all this stuff. They have other things to do in life besides picking fights --Oh, I meant, "standing for the truth" or "not tolerating error'-- on the internet.

it is difficult for me to match a very strict theologlcal message, with most modern music. It doesn't seem to go together. My kids go to a choir led by a very nice Catholic lady. She has no use for most of pop music. It isn't because of her "convictions"--see simply sees most of it as not good music. (She's a retired opera singer.) An interesting perspective. I've long wondered this about a lot of the whole reformed group. Josh Harris and his big thing against "lust". I wonder what kind of music he endorses. What kind of women's groups? How do they dress, how do they sing? What do they look like and who are they trying to imitate? I don't know since I neither read Josh Harris nor follow him. I've been kind of curious. It seems like sending a mixed message.

I wonder how many on SI go to discos or have no problem with churches imitating discos with colored/revolving/disco lights, etc. in church. My guess is not many would have problems with it--at least not the ones who have no problems with most CCM being performed in churches and attend the major concerts. Doesn't this seem just so "anti" christian culture? Somehow I can't understand how the way many of the artists are trying to look fits with being Christlike. That's just me. Here at SI, I think I'm in the minority.

I got the impression that Masters was pointing out that old reformed people believed that God was going to work--you didn't have to try to appeal to the flesh (the reason many say that they use CCM is because it is what people like and they will come for), nor work gimmicks or manipulate people emotionally. God is going to work. Simply preach the word. Music doesn't have to be a performance or a show.

I doubt this - "I think I'm in the minority"

Becky Petersen wrote:
I wonder how many on SI go to discos or have no problem with churches imitating discos with colored/revolving/disco lights, etc. in church. My guess is not many would have problems with it--at least not the ones who have no problems with most CCM being performed in churches and attend the major concerts. Doesn't this seem just so "anti" christian culture? Somehow I can't understand how the way many of the artists are trying to look fits with being Christlike. That's just me. Here at SI, I think I'm in the minority.

I got the impression that Masters was pointing out that old reformed people believed that God was going to work--you didn't have to try to appeal to the flesh (the reason many say that they use CCM is because it is what people like and they will come for), nor work gimmicks or manipulate people emotionally. God is going to work. Simply preach the word. Music doesn't have to be a performance or a show.

Becky ... unless I am completely off, I doubt many on Sharper Iron are in churches that imitate party halls.

Becky Petersen wrote: That's

Becky Petersen wrote:
That's just me. Here at SI, I think I'm in the minority.
.

Don't forget me. I know there are a few more in our little club.

Overstatement

Ditto to what Jim said.

We ought to have some way to just signify agreement without writing a full post (like Facebook's "Like this"). It might make people like Becky feel better, anyway... Smile

Greg Linscott
Marshall, MN

Becky Petersen wrote: I

Becky Petersen wrote:
I wonder how many on SI go to discos....
I went to discos more than 30 years ago - does that count? Wore my bell bottom pants and platform shoes too, and had hair that would have resulted in my being expelled from most, if not all, Bible Colleges. Cool

CanJAmerican - my blog
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Minorities and majorities... and thinking

Becky: Maybe there's a way to find out someday, but my impression is that, yes, many at SI would use more contemporary music than the most conservative evangelicals/fundamentalists would use. But very, very few would favor having their churches in any way resemble a dance hall or the like.

In general, SI is pretty anti-"church growth movement" and anti-emergent and anti-"just do what will draw the crowd."
Most of those who pitch for more contemporary music are--my impression--just not fond of the kind of reasoning they've heard against contemporary music... so they're more "not against it" than actually "for it," if you know what I mean.
Though it has some advocates here also.

Anyway, minorities and majorities will continue to challenge each other here, that's for sure, and if listening and thinking is going on, that's a good thing.

Becky, I can understand why

Becky,

I can understand why you feel that way. But there are many of us on here that only use conservative music in our churches. In fact, I might be too out there. I RARELY use gospel songs (been two years since we sang "Love Lifted Me"). Our hymnal is Joan Pinkston's Hymns of Grace and Glory and tends to be flooded with older hymns. I do have Getty's and some others in my personal listening though.

I am not defending Josh Harris. But from what I understand, his thoughts on modesty are very high. I was told by one Fundamental music person, "If Harris and Mahaney would make the same applications to their music they do to modesty, they would be stricter than most fundamentalists." I do find that an intersting dichotomy from their theology and practice.

Roger Carlson, Pastor
Berean Baptist Church

I don't understand the

I don't understand the mentality of men like Masters. They are quick to attack solid expositors like Piper, Mohler, and MacArthur, yet I don't see the articles and sermons that speak out against Osteen, Robert Schuller, etc. Maybe I'm just not looking hard enough or in the right places. Where were the articles of outrage when Bob Gray, a professed "fundamental baptist" was discovered to be a sexual predator?
It reminds me of a zebra that is worried about a fly on its back while ignoring the tiger running towards it.

And just because some people seem to be overly sensitive, let me add a disclaimer: I'm sure Peter Masters is a very knowledgeable pastor that loves the Lord and is truly interested in the furtherance of the Gospel.

Here Goes...

I have been itching for the chance to respond to Alex's comments, but alas real-world stuff has always cried louder for my attention. Now, however, I have a few solid moments, and so, with great fear and trepidation, here goes:

First off, having read Alex's comments, and re-read Masters' article several times, I have become much more convinced that yes,

fundamentally the article and/or objection is "all about the music". (or, at least, mostly about the music...)

AND

That Masters is discarding this movement "because of musical tastes" and you state this is "exactly what he does".

Consider these two paragraphs, which he uses in the beginning of the article to define the worldliness in the New Calvinist gatherings:

The author begins by describing the Passion, conference at Atlanta in 2007, where 21,000 young people revelled in contemporary music, and listened to speakers such as John Piper proclaiming Calvinistic sentiments. And this picture is repeated many times through the book – large conferences being described at which the syncretism of worldly, sensation-stirring, high-decibel, rhythmic music, is mixed with Calvinistic doctrine.

We are told of thunderous music, thousands of raised hands, ‘Christian’ hip-hop and rap lyrics (the examples seeming inept and awkward in construction) uniting the doctrines of grace with the immoral drug-induced musical forms of worldly culture.

Am I wrong in stating that he is defining worldliness by musical choices?

Also, notice how he paints a vivid picture of the raucous worship, while downplaying Piper's message as simply "proclaiming Calvinistic sentiments". More on that later.

This next paragraph is interesting:

Indeed, a far better quality Calvinism still flourishes in very many churches, where souls are won and lives sanctified, and where Truth and practice are both under the rule of Scripture. Such churches have no sympathy at all with reporter Collin Hansen’s worldly-worship variety, who seek to build churches using exactly the same entertainment methods as most charismatics and the Arminian Calvary Chapel movement.

1. He is assuming that lives are not sanctified in the New Calvinist churches. His assumption is based on what? As far as I can tell, music styles.

2. In this paragraph he also tries to lump the New Calvinists in with the church-growth crowd, claiming they are using their music to attract people. Does he know this is their reason? How?

3. I got a kick out of his "better quality Calvinism" remark. Says who? Why is it better? Because it uses music he considers "godly"? Up until now, this is the only aspect of the New Cavlinism that he has mentioned that he finds troubling.

This next paragraph almost made my chin drop.

The new Calvinists constantly extol the Puritans, but they do not want to worship or live as they did. One of the vaunted new conferences is called Resolved, after Jonathan Edwards’ famous youthful Resolutions (seventy searching undertakings). But the culture of this conference would unquestionably have met with the outright condemnation of that great theologian.

Of course they don't worship like the Puritans, and neither does Masters. Neither did Edwards, for that matter. He sided with the "radical" Isaac Watts in including songs that were not verbatim scripture set to music, but rather (gasp!) hymns written by human authors. For information on this, read Marsden's exhaustively researched biography of Edwards. He devotes some time to this subject. In fact, if you read Marsden, you will come away wondering where Masters gets his idea that Edwards would have given his "outright condemnation" to the Resolutions conference.

Resolved is the brainchild of a member of Dr John MacArthur’s pastoral staff, gathering thousands of young people annually, and featuring the usual mix of Calvinism and extreme charismatic-style worship.

His use of the phrase "charismatic style worship" here implies an argment that is at best a non-sequiter. The idea is this: Charismatics have bad theology. Charasmatics use lively music. Therefore, lively music is bad. I have seen this logic worked out in more areas than just music. Insert clapping hands (here in Brazil we have churches that will not even allow their young people to clap hands while singing "happy birthday"), raising hands, and the use of a myriad of instruments.

Also, I thought the insertion of John MacArthur's name here was quite sly. Charismatic Chaos, anyone?

All of his four accusations against the leaders he had mentioned left me scratching my head, but the one that really got me was number two:

They are soft on separation from worldliness

Really? Has he never heard any of these men preach? Has he never read anything they have written? Up until this point he has not mentioned anything concrete to back up this accusation, except for music--and possibly raising of hands). I followed the directions after this accusation, and went to the endnotes, where I read this:

A recent book entitled Worldliness: Resisting the Seduction of a Fallen World by C J Mahaney and others, hopelessly under-equips young believers for separation from the world, especially in the area of music, where, apparently, the Lord loves every genre, and acceptability is reduced to two misleading and subjective questions.

And so, once again...it's THE MUSIC.

Bear with me as I quote one more paragraph:

Whatever their strengths and achievements (and some of them are brilliant men by any human standard), or whatever their theoretical Calvinism, the poor stand of these preachers on these crucial issues will only encourage a fatally flawed version of Calvinism that will lead people to be increasingly wedded to the world, and to a self-seeking lifestyle.

So here we have it. The entirety of these men's ministries rises and falls on their musical choices. In fact, the most good he can bring himself to say about any of the men mentioned here is that they are smart, and friendly. That's it. Forget the multitudes of people saved. Forget works like "Desiring God", "The Gospel According to Jesus", "Ashamed of the Gospel", "Charismatic Chaos" etc etc etc. He is calling out men of God on one issue, and the most he can bring himself to say in their favor is that they are "brilliant"--and even that is a backhanded slap.

Pathetic.

I found it sad that he does not extend to Phil Johnson the same consideration that Phil Johnson extends to him in the response posted on this forum.

So...I will repeat it again. Despite attempts by others here to super-impose a deeper meaning, or interpret what he is "trying" to say, Masters' screed, at it's very core, IS about music.

Missionary in Brazil, author of "The Astonishing Adventures of Missionary Max" Online at: http://www.comingstobrazil.com http://cadernoteologico.wordpress.com

Andrew, A well written

Andrew,

A well written response with some strong points. However, since music is such a pronounced feature and treated as a significant gateway to spiritual experiences, this is precisely why it gets the heavy attention. Again, if another element were as elevated which existed as such a contradiction to Calvinisim's practical heritage, I have no doubt it too would get the same attention.

While Masters crafts his writing to favor his context, he never personally diminishes either MacArthur or Piper. At most he states facts (an associate of MacArthur and Piper communicating "sentiments"), shading them with the color of his observation, something that should speak to the quality and integrity of his words. By the way, I regularly enjoy John MacArthur and have for years though I disagree with his Calvinism and Lordship salvation doctrines.

Preaching to Choir?

I don't know to whom Sword and Trowel is addressed, but the article seemed remarkably insular. If it was directed outward, there was little attempt at engaging the reader and convincing him to re-examine his premises about the interrelations of worship, doctrine, and piety. Rather, it was simply repeated assertions that could not hope to convince anyone in disagreement. If it was directed inward, it seems rather bullying. Sort of like saying, "Don't play with the bad Calvinists." I think we've heard about a recent FBF attempt in that direction.

I'm disappointed because I think that I probably agree with Masters about some things. I am concerned about the worship atmosphere I found at Covenant Life Church and some conferences. I am worried about things in Driscoll's ministry which I perceive to be incongruous with his stated theology. However, I think the Masters article is a flop, because it comes across as "grumpy old man syndrome." Surely he could have articulated his thoughts in a more insightful, less abrasive, way.

My Blog: http://dearreaderblog.com

Cor meum tibi offero Domine prompte et sincere. ~ John Calvin


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