The link below is to an article appearing in ‘The New York Times’ concerning the revival of Calvinism in the USA. It’s a fairly simplistic article, but does provide some food for thought I guess. By the way, I am a Calvinist and though not from America, I still find this an interesting article. I would be very surprised if US Calvinism has a sinister edge, unless preaching the truth is to be regarded as sinister. I am the Particular Baptist variety.
I have recently come across an article penned by Peter Masters of the ‘Metropolitan Tabernacle, in London, England. Writing in the ‘Sword & Trowel’ 2009, No 1, Peter Masters attacks what he calls the ‘New Calvinism,’ in a scathing assault on what he sees as the merger of Calvinism with Worldliness.
I have also come across an article written by Collin Hansen (to which Masters refers) in the September 2006 edition of ‘Christianity Today,’ in which he investigates what he calls a resurgent Calvinism, a Calvinism that is making a comeback and shaking up the church. This resurgent Calvinism is that which Peter Masters criticizes.
Peter Masters calls the Hansen article a book, so I am not sure that the entire ‘book’ appears in Christianity Today or whether it is an excerpt from it.
The Hansen article doesn’t come to any conclusions about Calvinism, though it does include a number of people and their comments that are opposed to Calvinism. It also includes people and their comments that wholeheartedly support Calvinism. There seems to be a sigh of relief that the Calvinist resurgence finds its root in the Scriptures and has a major commitment to them and what they teach, so all is not as bad as may first appear.
It is difficult, not being familiar with Collin Hansen, to pinpoint just where he himself stands on ‘Calvinism’ from the article itself.
However, in the Peter Masters article it is clear that he stands opposed to the ‘New Calvinism’ that he detects in the resurgent Calvinism of our day in England and the United States. Far from being pleased with the rise in numbers of those holding to Calvinistic teachings, he is concerned over what he perceives as a merging of Calvinism with Worldliness, and on some points I would have to agree.
I am not yet convinced that he is right in every area of his criticism of resurgent Calvinism as I do not believe you need to embrace the Puritans ‘legalism’ in respect to matters indifferent in order to appreciate the Puritans overall. Nor do I think you need to embrace that legalist spirit in order to stand alongside the Puritans in those matters vital to Christianity, especially from a Reformed perspective.
However, I do agree with some of what Peter Masters has to say concerning the ministry of some of the men he recognizes as leaders in the ‘New Calvinism.’ For example, I would agree with a large amount of what Mark Driscoll has to say and teach – but the manner in which he teaches it, using language that can be described as offensive, is not the way to do it. I have not heard Driscoll preach myself, but I understand he often uses questionable language in order to be relevant to the lost of this current age. What Masters has to say in this respect is quite right in my opinion.
I also question the need to embrace so readily the entertainment of the world as part of the worship service. So as to be clear, I have listened to a lot of secular music, though I draw the line at what I find to be unwholesome and much of today’s current music in exactly that and I largely do not listen to it. I do not believe it necessary however, to imitate the secular style of music and to import it into the worship service. I wouldn’t go so far as to say that this means the entire banning of contemporary music, just that greater care needs to be taken in reaching a position on whether to include it in the worship service at any particular time – not including it simply to be ‘relevant.’
I, like Peter Masters, have grave concerns about the Calvinism that I hold to (Particular Baptist) being united with a Charismatic style of it. For me, this has no place and I find it difficult to believe that leaders of such calibre as John Macarthur and John Piper are happy to be united in conferences where Charismatic worship practices occur, etc.
I think overall Peter Masters is saying what I have been saying about the growing trend in reformed circles towards pragmatism. He says it a lot better than me of course. There is a growing embrace of church growth like behaviour and seeker sensitive styled practices that embrace worldliness as a means of attracting people to church.
I found myself being concerned with whole far Peter Masters went in his denunciation of the ‘New Calvinism.’ However, the more I think about it the more right he seems to be.
Masters calls many of the ‘New Calvinist’ leaders brilliant men and I would agree with him. I greatly admire John Macarthur and his associates, and I am sure I would also find much of what John Piper and the others have to say equally as helpful. But I am concerned with what Peter Masters has outlined in his article. I am also a little confused because I thought this was the sort of thing that John Macarthur has also decried in many of his books. I find myself finding it difficult to believe that he could be caught up in this blend that the ‘New Calvinism’ appears to be.
I certainly don’t write off everything that this resurgent Calvinism is doing. I know these men are wholeheartedly committed to the same truths as the Reformers and Puritans held dear. i do not doubt that at all. I also think they are doing much good. But if what Peter Masters is highlighting is true of this movement, than there is great need for concern I think. The real and full consequences of this approach will not be seen until the next generation and I fear those consequences will bring much harm to the church.
It is my contention that the church has been invaded and conquered by Post-modernism. When I say the church, I mean that which goes my the name today, in general terms. I am not of course speaking of the true church in the Biblical sense.
How else can we explain the eclectic and ever varying viewpoints and paradigms of churches throughout the country (Australia) and the world, except that the church has been invaded and conquered by Post-modernism? It is rampant everywhere and it no longer needs a subtle approach to infiltrate the church. It can now appear in blinding light as Post-modernism and be found acceptable by most ‘Christians’ within this country and I suspect the world.
Opposition to Post-modernist ideas is difficult to find, though admittedly it is there. The particularbaptist.com website is one outpost of Biblical Evangelical Christianity (Particular Baptist). It is not the only one – there are many such outposts on the World Wide Web and throughout the spiritual wilderness one can find an occasional welcome oasis in a dry, barren desert.
Yet the overwhelming scenario is that entering a random ‘Christian’ church on any Sunday you will find a place devoid of the Spirit of God, for He has long ago withdrawn His candlestick from that place. It is quite likely that you will find a place that for some time has given itself over to fanciful stories, human devised fables and crowd-pleasing activities. The people there have welcomed leaders that have been only too pleased to scratch the ears of their followers and have eagerly lapped up fleshly pleasing rhetoric that has fallen from their poisoned lips.
What are we to do who find ourselves hungering and thirsting in the wilderness? Are we to join ourselves to one of these dens of iniquity because we are not to forsake the assembling of ourselves together? Is this the last desperate act left open for a believer who longs to be obedient to His Lord?
I think it is high time that we who truly believe the Bible and follow the God of the Bible and His Beloved Son and the leadings of His Spirit, separate ourselves from such synagogues of Satan and form true Christian churches after the form outlined in the New Testament. It is time that we leave these forsaken places to their own devices and set out on a pathway that has been marked out by those that have gone before.
Our congregations may only be small and seem to have little impact when contrasted with the Post-modernist mega-churches of our time, yet we will be faithful servants of our God. We will be able to trust Him who is our Refuge and Our Strength, knowing that He who will go before us is the all-conquering sovereign Lord.
I find myself in this barren spiritual desert, surrounded by Post-modernist churches and have often felt the need to meet with Christians as I know I should. Yet I find myself unable to meet with those that worship another God and peddle another gospel that I find abhorrent. I long for the day when I will be able to meet with even two or three like-minded godly brethren who will also not yield to the pressures of the day and simply meet with a ‘powerless’ church that has long lost the powerful Spirit of God and is no longer a true witness of Jesus Christ.
May the Lord raise up like-minded brethren who will come together and form the godly churches of tomorrow. May God yet come among us again through the Person and Work of the Holy Spirit and visit us with fresh displays of His gracious power in the Gospel of Jesus Christ.
The ‘Reformed Particular Baptist Fellowship’ community (social network / group) is a Particular and Reformed Baptist Community, providing a wonderful opportunity for members to communicate, interact, contribute and fellowship with other Particular and Reformed Baptists from around the world. We also welcome other Reformed brethren to our community, but ask you to always remember that this is a ‘Baptistic’ group and it will therefore reflect the distinctives of such believers as expressed in the 1689 London Baptist Confession of Faith.
There are actually two sites in this community. This is our new and main site. The other site is at http://particularbaptist.ning.com/ (on the Ning Platform), where the community first begun. Eventually I hope to have the site completely contained here on the Grou.ps platform. Because Grou.ps allows very limited customisation of member profiles I have decided to keep the Ning site going for the time being, with the hope that members of the first site will move to Grou.ps when they are comfortable to do so (the Ning site will then be closed). Should members of the community choose to continue on both sites for the time being, it will be necessary to switch between sites, perhaps having two tabs open in your browser).
Please have a look around the site and familiarise yourself with all that is on offer. This platform is in ‘Beta’ development, meaning there is still some way to go before it is fully functional and all features are working in a stable manner (so please be patient).
I would encourage all members of the community to become actively involved and contribute regularly, thereby making our community all the stronger and vibrant.
Introducing Community Features:
At the top of the page is the directory menu if you like. These ‘buttons’ will take you to the main sections of the community and appear on most pages within the community (except at Ning of course). In brief, this is what you will find within the community at each of these locations:
My Page: This location is a members individual profile page, including such things as a comment wall and a record of your recent activity within the community.
Mems: This location shows all the members of the community.
Maps: This location allows for members of the community to plot their current location on a map, etc.
Calendar: This location allows community members to mark events on a calendar, pass on event details, etc.
Wiki: This location is the ‘Particular Baptist Systematic Theology Encyclopedia’ wiki, which works in in a similar fashion as Wikipedia.
Forum: This is a location to discuss various questions and topics raised by community members.
Blog: This is a Blog that is open to all community members to post on – sort of like an ‘open mic’ type approach to Blogging.
Files: This is a location for community members to share files with other community members, such as books, articles, slideshows, presentations, etc.
Links: This is a place for community members to share links they have found useful.
Photo: This is a place for community members to share photos with one another.
Video: This is a place for community members to share videos with one another.
Music: This is a place for community members to share music with one another.
Groups: This is a place for community members to set up there own groups within the community – you may have a Bible Study Group, a Church Group, etc.
Contact: This is a place to contact administration.
In short, I am very hopeful that this community location will be far superior to that of the previous. Please join and grow with us.
Visit Reformed Particular Baptist Fellowship at:
Visit the network’s ‘parent’ web site at:
Kevin – founder of the Reformed Particular Baptist Fellowship
Religion is alive and well in Australia. Christianity on the other hand is not doing anywhere near as well.
If Christianity is to be measured by the Bible and not by mass opinion in churches (or by some other measure such as professing Christians, etc), the Australian experience of Christianity is not too good at all. In fact, most of what goes by the name of ‘Christian’ is anything but Christian in the Biblical sense.
Automatically I would count out all the usual cults and heretical groups, such as the Mormons and Jehovah’s Witnesses. There is of course a possibility that some within the confines of such heretical groups are indeed saved, but it is difficult to believe that any such true believers would willingly stay inside groups of these types.
Roman Catholicism is often viewed as a legitimate part of historical Christianity, but this is far from the case. Indeed, Roman Catholicism is another grouping that belongs within the category of being a cult. Certainly that is my opinion and this is the historical opinion of Evangelical Christianity and Protestantism.
Sadly, it has been my growing experience that many who profess Christianity, see Roman Catholicism as just another stream of true Christianity. Certainly these people cannot agree with some of the teachings of Rome, but none-the-less they view Roman Catholicism as just another legitimate stream of Christianity that is a bit divergent from Protestantism. These people think that unity with Rome wouldn’t be such a bad thing, even if we can’t agree on anything.
It is disappointing to note that a number of people within the Reformed camp also agree with such sentiment regarding Roman Catholicism. I am stunned by how quickly these people forget the past and the truths that the Reformation sought to establish once again as being the true backbone of Christianity.
Leaving the Roman Catholics aside, let me briefly comment on Protestantism in Australia. There is a good section within this grouping (which would include Anglicans, Presbyterians, Baptists, Uniting, etc) that would be equally happy within the Roman Catholic communion and it would be better for Protestantism if they were. These people are merely nominal at best and quite openly hold to Papist ideals and teachings. Let Rome have them if they will not cast off their heretical ideas and take hold of Christ and His teachings.
The majority of Protestants these days are not of the breed of Protestants that brought Protestantism into being. They no longer hold to the Scriptures as being the standard of belief, faith and practice. These days Protestantism is ruled by the leading of sentimentalism, mediocrity and pragmatism, being concerned more for religion and obtaining numbers within the building, rather than Biblical Christianity and salvation of the lost through the proclamation of the Biblical Gospel. This then is the Christianity of today within Australia.
I know of people raised in Christian homes and churches that are openly embracing heresy, believing that they have been misled from their youth. Such expressions of Christianity are being broadcast over social networks, as ever increasing numbers fall victim to every wind of doctrine as a result of poor or even no teaching within churches, having become the victims of chatter from the pulpits that comes nowhere close to being the preaching that the Bible expects to be delivered (if indeed preaching and teaching are regarded as being necessary at all within the church concerned).
In the Reformed churches there are varying issues that are robbing the movement of its potential power to transform the country through the truth that it possesses. There are problems with Lording it over the church and being caught up on matters of lesser importance (if they are indeed important at all), of attempting to match it with the general malaise of religion (but in a more covert manner while trying to maintain the reformed name) and simply imbibing the mediocrity of religion surrounding the churches.
We are in a bad way in Australia and we need God given revival (as opposed to what goes by the name revival in cranked up programs and services throughout the country). We need God given preachers who will preach God given truth with God given power and God given life. We need to go back to Bible basics before religion is nothing more than a man-made shell (if we haven’t already reached that point) and true Christianity is extinct in this country.
If you are interested in becoming part of a small, but growing social network set up especially for Particular and Reformed Baptists, have a look at the link below:
IT may seem an unnecessary task to write a new Memoir of ANDREW FULLER when three have already appeared, each possessing great excellence, written by men who had the best of all qualifications for a biographer, – a personal knowledge of the life they pourtrayed. Besides these more lengthy memoirs, there have appeared lighter sketches, from the pen of familiar friends and warm admirers; so that, long ere this, the public has had ample means of forming its judgment on his character.
A new book, however, is sure to find new readers, and the life of such a man as Andrew Fuller is not one to pass away lightly from us. Anything that will revive the fellowship of old friends, and introduce new ones to a knowledge of his history, can scarcely be unwelcome.
I have tried to keep in view the supposition that many of my readers have only the most general notion of what Mr. Fuller said and did; and that some, at least, are scarcely likely to be tempted to a closer acquaintance by the uninviting folio of small print which contains his works. I have, therefore, endeavoured to give a careful summary of his labours and writings, and to define his position in reference to his various antagonists. Above all, I have been concerned to point out how his life, previous to the year 1792, was one solemn preparation for his great missionary work.
Many readers will find much in this volume with which they are already familiar: a life cannot be re-made, even if it be re-written. They may, however, possibly find old material so re-arranged as to enable them to trace clearly the growth of Mr. Fuller’s mind and the progress of his labours. A good part will certainly be new to almost all; and I can but hope, that for the sake of this, Mr. Fuller’s friends will pardon the repetition of what is already known, to them. As in the history of a country, old buried material will turn up to refresh the page of the historian, so is the biographer gladdened with memoranda which, a loving friendship has kept to itself as a sacred treasure, or which circumstances of an accidental kind have brought to his hand. Of Much a character are the Letters to the Serampore brethren, and some unpublished parts of the Diary, with other lighter gleanings.
The book has been written under circumstances anything but calculated to insure its accuracy and interest. It has, however, been compiled with a warm interest in the theme; and I can only hope it may be as pleasant and refreshing to the reader to peruse these memorials as it has been to me to collect them.
T. E. F.
MOST men have a desire to know something of the outward appearance of those whom they have known only through books or public fame. They are curious to see how far the qualities they have learnt to love and appreciate will find their way into the face, or express themselves in the gait and form of the “whole man.” Though sometimes the personal appearance of one whom our affection has exalted into a hero, is a little disappointing, more frequently it revives our old acquaintance, and deepens the impressions we have received of his character from other sources.
Andrew Fuller cannot now be seen in the flesh, for nearly half a century has passed away since he died. Now and then an “old disciple” may be met with, having recollections of personal communion, but the number of those thus privileged is fast lessening. The reader may, nevertheless, be introduced to what can be told here of “his bodily presence.” As form helps to realize life, he may find, as he tracks the pilgrimage of this strong and holy man, the glimpse he has caught of the outward man, even, by description, may be of some service.
The writer may perhaps be tempted to this course, since, long before he knew anything about the life and writings of Andrew Fuller, he was familiar with a portrait of him, painted with no common power; which portrait, hanging over the mantelpiece, seemed to cast a solemn shadow over the room, imparting its grave and serious look to the very furniture. It was hard, indeed, to believe it was not alive, so searching was the deep and tender glance with which it chased the observer into every corner. It looked down on us like a silent judge, deciding our childish quarrels, and frightening back the angry word from the lip, with an expression of mute yet pleading sternness it would be hard to find on any other canvas. Nor was it in the room alone its power was felt. It seemed to haunt the house. Many and many a time it has been near in childish watchings in the night, as if conscience had taken bodily shape in the abiding presence of so stern a monitor.
This was the writer’s first acquaintance with Andrew Fuller; yet now that years have passed away, and another, and, it may be presumed, more matured estimate of him, has been formed from the perusal of his life and writings, all the old child feeling comes back again. The two impressions though received under such different circumstances, are much the same. Moreover, the remembrance of that picture has been like an interpreting companion in the study of his life. He has seemed ever at our side as we followed him in his stern, unbending way. Not only can we “well believe” all that we read of his loyal fidelity to conscience, his calm confidence in battle, and his unswerving constancy to his chosen toil, as he holds the home-link of the chain that bound the brethren in England to their messengers across the sea; but a glance at the picture tells us it must have been so.
The portrait thus referred to is that of a man. tall, broad-chested, and firmly-set, the whole figure well harmonizing with the expression of the face. Ponderous, and perhaps a little heavy, but surely not ungainly, for “not giants but monsters are ill-proportioned.” The hair is parted in the middle, the brow square and of fair height, the eyes deeply set, overhung with large bushy eyebrows, not giving you the idea of seeing quickly the surface of things, but of slowly penetrating to their depths. The whole face has a massive Johnsonian expression, which the accomplished author of “Rab and his Friends” characterizes as “sleeping thunder,” and to quote an expression from the same author, in describing his humbler hero, having about it the “marks of many battle-fields.” Shining through these sterner features there is a look of great tenderness, but not of tenderness weakly exercised – ‘very jealous for the “Lord God of hosts,” yet full of pity for the erring and the lost.
It would not be difficult, with the picture as our guide, to conjecture the mental and moral features of the man whom it portrays. We should surmise that he had made his own way in the world, through much toil and many sorrows. If we wished to add to it an illustration of his life, we should put an axe in his hand, and the clearings of a forest in the background, as representing one who had settled in strange lands and broken up virgin soil. We should further conclude, that he would be ruled by intense convictions, and, fearless of danger, would follow wherever they led him, and he would leave his mark on whatever he undertook. The lower part of the face looks as if his speech would faithfully interpret the meanings we have read elsewhere. There will be, we should say, neither eagerness nor haste in his words, but they will be few and weighty, and their utterance slow and pausing.
Such, indeed, were the features of the life which this picture realizes so faithfully. In its first stage we have the history of one slowly growing up to the great truth expounded in ” The Gospel worthy of all Acceptation;” and in its second, impelled by the principle he had reached, seeking the salvation of the world in the great missionary enterprise, in the service of which he lived and died The church reveres his memory, and would fain perpetuate it, because he made a great outline of truth and filled it up with his life.
It behoves the artist to spend his main skill on the face of the sitter, that the beholder may carry away that which it is most desirable he should remember. The biographer has the same task, filling up the happy outline which has been given him, once for all, by the author of the “Worthies of England,” when he declares his aim and task to be, (1) Giving some glory to God; (2) Preserving the memory of the dead; (3) Holding forth examples to the living; (4) The entertainment of the reader.
NOTE: I will be posting the entirety of this work on both this Blog and my web site at:
I recently updated the http://particularbaptist.com web site by adding the book ‘The Story of the English Baptists,’ by John C. Carlile. The book can be found at the link below:
It is useful as a bit of an interesting introduction to English Baptist history even if you don’t agree with all of Carlile’s conclusions and comments. Hopefully it will still whet the appetite for further research into Particular Baptist history and teaching.
I thought it might be useful to post the link to the confessional standards of particularbaptist.com and therefore of this Blog. The full listing and standards can be found at: