Wednesday, June 17, 2009

On Peter Masters' rant: in which I add only one small thought to Messrs. Turk and Wilson

I was very disappointed to read this rant by Pastor Peter Masters, who I think is a good brother, and who I know is successor to the great Charles H. Spurgeon at the Metropolitan Tabernacle. I had some thoughts I wanted to share. But for a couple of reasons, I held back temporarily.

Then I saw that Frank Turk said just about everything I wanted to say, only better. So I decided that, when I had the chance, I'd add the one little thing I wanted to add.

But then I saw that Doug Wilson pretty much covered that, as well, except for one specific. However, in his covering, Wilson did bring one little nag at the back of my mind to the forefront.

So, first, the specific:

As disappointing and largely wrongheaded as Masters' rant is (basically he dismisses "new Calvinists" because he doesn't like their music style and their worship style), I am afraid he is at least somewhat in Spurgeon's tradition.

Just, unfortunately, not in Spurgeon's best tradition.

It was an odd thing. Spurgeon enjoyed cigars, even though his practice scandalized orthodox brothers on (what they imagined were) grounds of morality and worldliness. He was bold and unapologetic. I think Spurgeon was right.

At the same time, Spurgeon was death on theater-going. The Bible says precisely as much about theater-going as it does about cigar-smoking: zero. Yet he was thunderously condemnatory. Perhaps his most memorable statement was this:
The evangelical faith in which you and Mr. Beecher agree is not the faith which I hold; and the view of religion which takes you to the theater is so far off from mine that I cannot commune with you therein.
Unless I badly misunderstand him (and have for years on this), Spurgeon is saying that Beecher cannot be a Christian. Is not saved. Why? Because of immorality (Biblically-defined), or defective views on the Bible or the person and work of Christ?

No. Because he feels free to go to the theater.

As I say, Masters is in that tradition. It just isn't a good tradition.

Now, here's the little thought Wilson brought to the forefront of my mind. Masters complains, of modern would-be Calvinist preachers:
They reject the concern for the personal guidance of God in the major decisions of Christians (true sovereignty), thereby striking a death-blow to wholehearted consecration.
To that, Wilson offers this tart and dead-on retort:
And this from a man who a moment before was chastizing the charismatic element in the behavior of the new Reformed! It is bad to lift hands to the Lord like the charismatics (and like John Calvin, but let that pass), but it is not bad to make personal life-decisions as though the gift of prophecy were still operative today? A personal word from God, your name on the envelope and all, is necessary to true consecration? Why can't you just do what the Bible tells you to do?
I wondered who Masters was thinking of when I read this. I know he knows Phil; I guess he might occasionally visit Pyromaniacs. The person in that neighborhood who has pounded this particular bongo-drum the most furiously lately would be the Calvinist Spurgeon-loving guy who wrote this and this and this and this.

But honestly, that guy is such a small fish (as commenter #11 on this meta quite correctly observes), that I realized it probably would be Kevin DeYoung, whose book (you may recall) I loved.

Making Kevin DeYoung another bad Calvinist.

In which case I say, "Please, God, more bad Calvinists!"


Trinian said...

I had to stop reading when he claimed that Enfield (Resolved worship team) was "extreme charismatic-style worship".

...because I was laughing too hard at the sheer ridiculousness of it. Dern kids an' der rocky roll music!
I think "O For That Day" is my favorite, but I haven't gotten the newest CD yet.

DJP said...

Maybe I should create another tag: "Hey! You kids get off my lawn!"

LUCKY said...

I just found your blog and am looking forward to reading through it and in reading your future posts :D

Associate-to-the-Pastor said...

He definitely pulled out the shotgun in that article. No stone left unturned! Man...from Mohler to Piper to MacArthur, even T4G. I wasn't even quite sure how to respond without disgust.
BTW, this marks probably the second or third time I ever agreed with iMonk. Scary...

DJP said...

That is worrisome. (Haven't read iM, don't plan to.)

Trinian said...

This would fit the bill all too well.
Referring to godly people whose lives (not to mention music) reflect their beliefs strongly and who have more musical talent in their left pinky than I have shown in my entire life as "drugged-out" and "charismatic" because their music has a good back-beat and uses instruments that didn't exist in the 1700's? It makes him sound practically Carolingian.

Rhology said...

I thought all Calvinists were bad Calvinists.
Or at least living ones...

deekdubberly said...

You may already be aware of this, but My Two Cents has some interesting dialogue taking place in the comments section of a similar post.

CR said...

Wilson really hits the nail on the head when he says:

Again, the problem here is not that Masters calls for a separation from worldliness, which Scripture does in fact require, but that his definition of worldliness is more indebted to the residue of Victorianism in certain parts of the church than it is to exegesis.

Rachael Starke said...

I didn't read Masters' piece until today because, frankly, I was worried about what it would do to my blood pressure. I really just wanted to blame his attitude on being British.

But now I've read it. And I'm literally having chest pains.

Here's what's funny. I'm a vocalist in our worship ministry, where our music runs the gamut from Watts and Wesley to Kauflin and Getty. We use every instrument from violins and clarinets to electric guitars and those little tinkly chime things. At all three services I get to see who's singing with passion and who's stoic, who's weeping and who's standing sitffly with what appears to be purse-lipped, prune-deficient disdain at the the "goings on."

I used to look at some of the "silent protesters" and inwardly think "Look at those prideful people! How dare they think they're too godly to sing these gospel-filled songs just because the music is unacceptable to their holy ears!!"

But then I repented of my presumptuous judgment of their hearts, when I've never actually asked them about it. I don't know if they feel they're not good enough singers, or they actually do suffer from a lack of fiber in their diet or....

It is a complete mystery to me how it's somehow okay to cheer and clap when some muscle-bound athlete carries a pointy ball over a chalk line,

or weep and applaud to honor an airplane pilot who temporarily saved his passengers' physical life,

but it's actually sinful for us to respond in any physical, emotional way to the greatest accomplishment in all of history - the winning of eternal life for sinners by God Himself.

Angie said...

Rachael, I, too, am a worship team vocalist. I came from baptist churches and went to a rather conservative (but wonderful!) Christian college and observed a lot of what I like to call "straight-jacket worship". I'm now at a Free Methodist church and sing weekly on a team with a couple that came from a pentacostal church. I'm getting over the shock and learning to appreciate different ways to express gratitude and praise to God - they aren't over the top, they just rock my stoic little boat, and I think that's a good thing.

Dan, I am going to say that lately I think God was asking me to do something. How I arrived at that conclusion was an overwhelming sense that He was asking me how seriously I took His word. "Do you REALLY believe what I say about ______?" My response was to trust and obey. God "asked" me to do something, and the basis for the "request" was what the Bible says. Do you believe what God's word says? Yes. Then go and do it. That's all the revelation I need.

LUCKY said...

One of the larger problems I have ever had with music was two years I spent as a missionary. We were told we could only listen to choir music and I tend to like music that's tempo is a little bit faster and so I listened to music with a faster tempo. With regards to music and my relationship with the Lord Jesus Christ I feel that if it brings me or someone else to have a closer relationship with our Savior then I don't care what the beat is. We all have diffrent tastes in music and for some they may not pay attention to a message that is embedded in lofty choir music while they would pay attention to a message that has a bit of a rock and roll beat. The Lord gets our attention however he needs to.

RT said...

These things are a matter of taste - bad taste mostly when it comes to the average "Worship Team" performance, but I would resist elevating the discussion to the doctrinal level as Masters does. Admittedly, though, the style of worship can impact doctrine. Personally I would have left the Episcopal Church years ago were it not for the sublime liturgy. I am left thinking that perhaps Bishop Newman was right when he observed that although there may be salvation outside the Anglican Church no gentleman would avail himself of it.

Associate-to-the-Pastor said...

FWIW, I didn't agree with everything iMonk said, but partially. Still. Yikes.

candy said...

I have to confess I was a bit confused at the comment Masters said about the personal guidance of God. I was trying to reconcile it with the rest of his article and finally concluded I was just dense and didn't get what he was trying to say.

One point Wilson made that chuckled at because it is SO true was this: One of the human traditions that Masters represents that I find most objectionable is the licence taken to say the most outrageous things about fellow believers just so long as you take care to say it with "sorrow," and/or "grief in your heart."

candy said...

"I" chuckled. typo.

SB said...

i saw this coming in 2005:

i hope your not referencing a mars hill worship service--it is redesigned in exactly the same way as a Resolved Conference is except that it is located in Seattle and not at a hotel in Los Angeles. lol phil

Have you ever listened to Driscoll preach? or visited Mar's Hill Church in Seattle?
4:18 PM, December 04, 2005

DJP said...

Who are you talking to? Why did you post the identical comment on a post of Phil's at Pyro, and here? Is this your first time visiting either blog?

SB said...

sorry the one on team pyro was for phil

just making the point that resolved & mars hill services are identical especially if mahaney or piper is speaking at mars hill as they are prone to do

i have commented since 2005

Rachael Starke said...

Okay, now that I've had a few hours to calm down, and I've reread it, and I'm even angrier than I was before, may I ask a serious question?

How is this piece an attempt to preserve the unity of the Spirit through the bond of peace? Or any other of Paul's exhortations in Ephesians 4??

How is this piece in fact not a serious attempt to sow disunity, not to mention the subtle levelling of pretty serious charges of shepherds leading sheep into becoming friends with world??

If this was just yet another over-hammering about some of the ill-thought about consequences of the Driscoll movement, that would be one thing, and perhaps apppropriate. But saying that men like Piper and Mahaney and Josh Harris might be responsible for the ruination of an entire generation of Christian young people??

I know it's a serious thing to accuse a pastor of such things, so please know I'm just asking the question. But this kind of attitude just seems to resemble another kind of ideological bigotry.

DJP said...

SB - If you've been commenting since 2005... you don't know I'm not Phil? And you don't know whether any of us has listened to Driscoll preach? And in that case, what does your comment have to do with anything? I don't really see the connection.

And please pick one meta, and stick with it, talking to the person who wrote it.

SB said...
This comment has been removed by the author.
SB said...

-deleted above comment due to punctuation-

I commented on this blog for your perusal. I realize that you watch both blogs. I assume that Phil watches both yours and Team Pyro but maybe those in that thread do not.

I'm sorry won't do that again.

My point is it's interesting that Masters lumps Resolved/MacArthur together with Driscoll. Piper, Mahaney, and Harris are also named. Each of them have preached at Driscoll's church & 2 of them at MacArthurs church/conferences.

Personally I think John MacArthurs church is emerging at least in the singles dept.

“Wherefore come out from among them, and be ye separate, saith the Lord, and touch not the unclean thing;…” II Cor. 6:17

CR said...


Part of the problem is Masters confuses what worldliness is. When he writes about the merger of Calvinism and worldliness he includes incorrect items in worldliness. The whole concept of worldliness comes from Romans 12:2.

The following passages in Romans 12:2 tell us exactly what the marks of a true Christian are: (1)their love is genuine; (2)they abhor what is evil; (3)they love one another with brotherly affection; (4)they're zealous in serving the Lord; (5)they rejoice in hope; (6)they're patient in tribulation; (7)they are constant in prayer; (8)they're constant in prayer; (9)they contribute to the needs of the saints and seek to show hospitality, etc. etc. etc. etc. There are several items I didn't list. Just go down the list.

Biblically, if we want to know what is worldliness and what is the person who conforms to this world, just put a "NOT" in front of each of the aforementioned. That is a person who is worldly.

Masters doesn't biblically define worldliness in his article, instead, he equates certain things with worldliness: (1)thunderous music; (2)a bunch of people raising of hands; (3) sensation-stirring, high-decibel, rhythmic music like rap and hip hop (which he calls drug induced music). He says that worldly cultures provide these bodily emotional feelings.

To try to answer your question, Rachael, Masters is not trying to preserve unity (I'm not saying he is trying to stir disunity). But he strongly believes the items represented above show worldliness. He believes he is correcting the record. If you raise your hands, and e.g., listen to hip hop, you are worldly. Don't equate that with calvinism, he says. There are times when you preach you're not trying to promote unity, but you are trying to rebuke. And Masters would be right in rebuking, except in this case, he is wrong, because he equates the wrong things with worldliness.

The problem with his argument is that, Paul nor any of the NT writers calls these things "wordly." You are worldly if you are "NOT" Romans 12:9-21.

Just because you listen to hip hop doesn't mean you're worldly. Similarly, just because you are traditional in your worship doesn't mean you're not worldly.

Spurgeon had it wrong also, Rachael, when apparently he couldn't commune with people who went to theaters. It happens to the best of us. But if his article can accomplish anything, it can accomplish this one thing: it will force us to go back to the Bible and understand what does it mean to be wordly (i.e., conformed to this world) and Romans 12:9-21 gives us a clear answer. I won't be thanking Masters for the content of his article because I think it's wrong. But I'll be thankful that it was brought up because I'm going to re-examine myself like we're commanded to do (2 Cor 13?) to make sure I'm not wordly.

SB said...

CR sounds like Mark Driscoll I wonder Piper and Steve Camp get it and you all don't?

CR said...

For the record, SB, I am not a Mark Driscoll fan. I'm actually critical of him. I'm uncomfortable with his bad language and my preference is not for loud thunderous music like "hip-hop."

I'm wondering if you really understand what the Bible says what worldliness is.

SB said...

you might be right

maybe Piper, Camp, Corley and Mahaney don't understand what worldliness is either?


CR said...


SB said...

CR you said, "I'm wondering if you really understand what the Bible says what worldliness is."

I said you might be right meaning I may not understand what worliness is...maybe John Piper etc. don't as well as they associate with and preach with Mark Driscoll?

SB said...
This comment has been removed by a blog administrator.
CR said...

So, Piper doesn't understand worldliness because he associates with Driscoll and preaches at his church?

Driscoll has been approached by other men for his behavior especially his talk at the Gospel Coalition.

I don't understand what you are saying, SB. How is Piper and others showing brotherly affection to Driscoll, including reproof, proof that Piper doesn't understand worldliness?

We don't need more of your links, SB, just define what it means to be worldly.

SB said...

if Driscoll is worldly should Piper preach in his pulpit? worldliness is to be "of the world" belonging to the world system-did you listen to the interview with mike corley?

SB said...

cont. Romans 12:2 comes to mind
Do not conform any longer to the pattern of this world, but be transformed by the renewing of your mind. Then you will be able to test and approve what God's will is—his good, pleasing and perfect will.

This something all of us have to battle with because we live in this world-I think Driscoll needs to renew his mind even more I know I do (Piper & Mahaney are helping him) but one mans worldliness is another mans style and hobby-cigars and watching movies(Spurgeon) are both worldly behavior in my book

what say you?

Rachael Starke said...

CR -

IOW, Paul's description of wordliness is actually much broader than Masters? I'm with you - that is something to consider. :)

I actually was mulling over these things while waiting my Burrito Factory order to be prepared, and passed the time by catching up on my reading through the Gospel of Mark (our pastor's summer reading assignment for our church). Interestingly, today's reading was Mark 7, where Jesus takes the Pharisees to school for making void the word of God by their handed down traditions. That seemed worth considering too. :)

And for the record SB, since you've posetd multiple iterations of the same comments here and at Frank's blog, all with your Blogger Profile unavailable,

I say you resemble a troll.

I'd be delighted to be wrong.

trogdor said...

Is it OK if I go off-topic and don't talk about Driscoll? Please? K thanks.

So I finally got around to reading the original rant, which pretty much comes off sounding like Dana Carvey as Grumpy Old Man (wait, is that reference too worldly?). One of his points really caught my eye:

"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."

I see. Well, obviously this newfangled Calvinism the kids today practice certainly does not result in souls won or lives sanctified, which is obvious because of how they listen to devil music and raise their hands when praising God. No argument there. Can't think of anything more hideous, really.

So what's the solution he proposes? Well, it's to make sure "Truth and practice are both under the rule of Scripture."

And here I have no argument. For real this time. And I'm sure nobody who was called out in the rant would object either. Most certainly we all agree that scripture must be the authority over truth and practice, unquestionably.

Since I want nothing more than to obey God as He has revealed His will in scripture, I would really like to know where scripture denounces loud music as worldly sin. Or where raising hands in worship is sinful (contra 1 Tim 2:8, Psalm 28:2, 63:4, etc). Or which scripture addresses "sensational nervous impact of loud rhythmic music on the body". Surely this must all be in there, plain as day, since those who practice such things are clearly unsanctified, worldly heathens.

Or could it be that he appeals to scripture as the rule over practice, then blasts away at those who violate his traditional, non-scriptural standards? Hmmm. That would seem a rather silly thing to do, though. So certainly there must be a clear scriptural command against rhythmic spoken verse and electric guitars. Right?

SB said...

I do look like a Troll today. Frank knows me and Dan and I just became fb friends ;).

TMC,GCOM, and GTY taught me the bible. John MacArthur is imo the best bible expositior in the country, but I think he is wrong about Driscoll(as I stated so do Mahaney and Piper).

I have been a part MacArthur's church, seen correspondence from Piper, and am a member of SGM. Many of my friends go to Driscolls church all they learn is good theology and don't come home with dirty mouths.

Also as I stated Mike Corley(see above link) is a guy who was changed and so was Steve Camp. Maybe Dr.Masters will change as well. We all have to fight worldliness, let's not shoot guys on our team.

I am sorry about the duplicating. I wanted to reply to the paralel threads so I reposted and was in hurry.

Anonymous said...

Why was I not surprised to see Profile Not Available?

SB said...

i deleted my blog a few years ago and rarely comment on blogs anymore-there is my facebook feel free to be a friend

Jonathan Hunt said...

He believes that what is happening WILL lead to the ruination of a generation of young believers.

That is what he believes. You may all disagree, but would you be silent if you believed such a thing to be true?

Lest anybody think he enjoys saying what he feels he must say, think again. He could have compromised his own principles (yes, you can disagree with them) and had a far higher profile in the USA and the UK, indeed the world. But he has not.

I think folk need to just state where they disagree, and move on.

DJP said...

Do you hear people saying, "Ooh, he should have kept that to himself, treasured those thoughts of judgment and slander in his heart and not spoken them"?

Or do you hear them engaging the concept of what he said?

A man with good standing maligns an entire generation of leaders and disciples because he doesn't like their style of music and worship, and you think the best response is, "Huh, well, lookie there. Oh well, I suppose if that's what he really thinks..."?

I actually think that would be far more insulting to Pastor Masters. He is being credited as having said what he meant, and his words — which (if true) have dire and far-reaching consequences, are being dealt with seriously.

Guy Davies said...

Thanks for this post, Dan. Well said. I'm probably one the UK pastors that Masters criticises for sharing their liking of "worldly music" in their blogs.

DJP said...


And you seemed so... so... so SOUND!


Guy Davies said...

Yes, but (tell in not in Gath... or the Met Tab) that was the SOUND of U2 and Coldpay.

Jonathan Hunt said...


Bleh. I didn't really express myself very well in that comment.

You wrote: A man with good standing maligns an entire generation of leaders and disciples because he doesn't like their style of music and worship, and you think the best response is, "Huh, well, lookie there. Oh well, I suppose if that's what he really thinks..."?

You are not really being fair. I don't want to go on and on here as though I defend the article (cause I don't, as our coldplay-loving exile knows) but I think there is far more at stake than a man complaining about a style of music - it is, to quote the article, about a failure to place 'practice under the rule of Scripture'.

There has been no shortage of engagement with the article, but there has been a lot of surrounding hot air and umbrage which I suppose is understandable if this particular style of writing is not known to all. I liked Phil Johnson's response to the piece.

DJP said...

His response of not (publicly) responding?

Or did I miss something?

Because, if Phil had responded, I'm sure I would have liked it better, too!

Anonymous said...

the most important thing is not my taste in music or anything else but what God says in the bible. We are told to be separate from the world and is it really a big sacrifice to leave behind rythms that many become addicted to? Jesus Christ left the dazzling glory of Heaven and suffered the Hell i deserve while dying on the cross. How dare i say my likes and dislikes matter? The only thing i as a human, and therefore sinner, have a right to is Hell and yet God has given me Heaven.
In the light of eternity 70 years isn't even a blink. What good is being like the world in order to bring the world to Christ? The fear of man is a snare (Proverbs 29.25).Love God and keep His commandments; John 14.15.

DJP said...

In principle, all you say is true and vital and needs to be said. The weak spot is the leap from all that to rejecting a particular musical timing. What Scriptural warrant is there for that? It is a danger to conclude that a thing is evil simply because unbelievers like it. The beauteous sights and smells of the Tabernacle, in isolation, may well have pleased unbelievers equally -- yet they were ordained by God, and therefore righteous. Unbelievers enjoy mountain ranges, sun after rain, bread, their spouse's embrace; none of these things is thereby made evil. They are all gifts of God's common grace.

The conviction you have, you may and should have between yourself and God, and you should be fully persuaded in your own heart (Rom. 14:22). But to conclude that all your or my convictions are universal values is a Biblically unwarranted leap.