The holy and the profane

A feature of New Calvinism is that it mixes the holy with the profane, and this, in my opinion, is because there is no fear of God before their eyes. The embedded video is an example of New Calvinist worship in practice. The scene is The Resolved Conference (2008) of John MacArthur’s Grace Community Church, renowned for its commitment to the Reformed faith.

 Here I Am

The Resolved Conference has just sung the words of the hymn, ‘Here I am’, based on Isaiah chapter 6: ‘Holy, holy, holy the whole earth is full of His glory… My eyes have seen the King of all kings, Here in our presence you are enthroned… Here am I send me, A witness to splendor and great majesty’. The Resolved worship leader, Pastor Jonathan Rourke, now invites CJ Mahaney, the charismatic founder of Sovereign Grace Ministries and one of the most recognized and popular faces of New Calvinism, onto the stage to entertain the audience of young people. Mahaney appears to take great pleasure in using the opportunity to play the fool on the drum.  The result is raucous laughter among the audience of young people who have just declared in song, ‘Here in our presence you [the King of all kings] are enthroned’. By now any thoughts of the holiness of God have been replaced by the image of a famous Christian leader acting like a court jester. And here we must ask the question. What is the spirit behind this performance, that one minute is declaring the holiness of God, and the next minute, with the encouragement of the worship leader, is laughing at the flippant antics of CJ Mahaney performing on the drum? And note the reaction of the worship leader – I need a drink! Hypocrites! You care nothing about the holiness of God. Well did our Lord say:

‘Inasmuch as these people draw near with their mouths, And honor Me with their lips, But have removed their hearts far from Me’ (Isaiah 29.13).

Defining profane

The Resolved Conference has mixed the holy and the profane. Profane can be defined as treating sacred things with contempt, disrespect, irreverence, or undue familiarity; irreverent; impious. Yet Scripture is clear that God hates the mixing of the holy with the profane. The prophet Ezekiel warns Israel of the profanity of her priests.

‘Her priests do violence to my law and profane my holy things; they do not distinguish between the holy and the common; they teach that there is no difference between the unclean and the clean’ (Ezekiel 22.26).

Faithful priests teach God’s people to reverence the holiness of God:

‘And they shall teach my people the difference between the holy and profane, and cause them to discern between the unclean and the clean’ (Ezekiel 44.23).

God’s Judgement

A shocking event of profaning the things of God occurred in the time of Daniel, when King Belshazzar, the last king of Babylon, at his infamous drunken feast, dared to mixed the holy with the profane by using the holy vessels of the Temple with his pagan worship.

Scripture records the event:

‘Belshazzar the king made a great feast for a thousand of his lords, and drank wine in the presence of the thousand… Then they brought the gold vessels that had been taken from the temple of the house of God which had been in Jerusalem; and the king and his lords, his wives, and his concubines drank from them. They drank wine, and praised the gods of gold and silver, bronze and iron, wood and stone. In the same hour the fingers of a man’s hand appeared and wrote opposite the lampstand on the plaster of the wall of the king’s palace; and the king saw the part of the hand that wrote. Then the king’s countenance changed, and his thoughts troubled him, so that the joints of his hips were loosened and his knees knocked against each other’ (Daniel 5:1-6).

Upon Belshazar and his festival gathering God pronounced his judgement with the words:  ‘Mene, Mene, Tekel, Upharsin’ which means, ‘Thou art weighed in the balance and art found wanting.’ Belshazzar died on the very same night of the feast.

No fear of God

A disturbing conclusion to draw from this incident at the Resolved Conference is that among New Calvinists there is no fear of God. That is why they can so blatantly make fun of holy things; that is why they revel in contemporary music, with its rhythmic drum beat; that is why a Christian Conference is a time for fun and laughter. The message of Scripture is clear. True believers must worship God in spirit and truth, with reverence and awe (Hebrews 12.28).

You can learn more about Pastor John Piper, Dr Tim Keller and Pastor Mark Driscoll in the book, The New Calvinists (2014), published by The Wakeman Trust and Belmont House Publishing. The book is available from The Metropolitan Tabernacle bookshop or from Amazon  More on John Piper and his Christian Hedonism at The Real John Piper website