The Merger of Calvinism with Worldliness by Dr Peter Masters


The titled article is from Sword & Trowel 2009, No. 1. I have to admit that the piece is thought-provoking and blunt on the direction which Calvinism is heading in mainstream reformed evangelical circles. At the end, I cannot help but observe that one of the main issues that Dr. Masters have against this ‘new Calvinism’ is their public congregational worship. That seems to be the chief contention from what I can summise from the article. I think I am more concern with the 2nd point listed; ‘soft separation from worldliness’.

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.

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. Young people are encouraged to feel the very same sensational nervous impact of loud rhythmic music on the body that they would experience in a large, worldly pop concert, complete with replicated lighting and atmosphere. At the same time they reflect on predestination and election. Worldly culture provides the bodily, emotional feelings, into which Christian thoughts are infused and floated. Biblical sentiments are harnessed to carnal entertainment. (Pictures of this conference on their website betray the totally worldly, showbusiness atmosphere created by the organisers.)

In times of disobedience the Jews of old syncretised by going to the Temple or the synagogue on the sabbath, and to idol temples on weekdays, but the new Calvinism has found a way of uniting spiritually incompatible things at the same time, in the same meeting.

The full article can be read here:

I can understand the danger that is expressed in the article and the implications if this ‘compromise’ is unchecked. However, I think it begs the question of what then are the essentials of Reformed teaching and practice in world that is changing culturally? There is a need to properly (and accurately) dissect out the Puritan way of life from the Puritan age in which they lived in. I find my thoughts straying back to Edmund S. Morgan’s excellent dissertation entitled: “The Puritan Family”, which debunks many myths concerning the lifestyle of the Puritans.

This is not a matter to be taken lightly, as the charges which Dr. Masters make upon the New Calvinist is very serious (if true on every point). We cannot just ignore the warning, thinking that it is only coming from a small (but prominent) Reformed Baptist church in the UK, nor can we just hope to wish it away (not when Mark Driscoll and his type of amalgamation with culture is getting more followings among Reformed churches).

May God give us the sensibility to understand and come to a real understand of God’s Will in these matters. I for one would admitedly need it.


One thought on “The Merger of Calvinism with Worldliness by Dr Peter Masters

  1. we arn”t called to follow Piper or Driscoll or anyone except the Christ are we? And yes that includes the two edged sword falling across Calvinism or lutheranism.(heb 4:12)One standard for all I think.

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