I have read two posts this week about an issue surrounding the Metropolitan Tabernacle (Met Tab), Peter Masters and a few articles and emails that appear to be in circulation. The ‘Who’s that preacher?’ blog commented here and ‘Andy’s Study’ comments here. Both articles make some valid and helpful points. In my view, Who’s that Preacher? is perhaps the more balanced of the two but the ultimate conclusion of both posts is much the same.
There is little to add to what has already been said, so I will limit myself to the following points:
- The critical spirit of Peter Master’s is hardly a new phenomena. He is well known for turning his ire on anyone and anything that does not subscribe to every jot and tittle taught at the Met Tab.
- As Andy’s Study rightly points out, Peter Master’s two-stage separation policy ultimately means “the range of those condemned is enormous”. More pointedly, this policy – taken to its logical conclusion – means members of the Met Tab must separate from themselves! Who’s that Preacher? notes, the Met Tab are in association with Joel Beeke through their Summer School of Theology. As Beeke “is himself associated, through the Gospel Coalition, with the ‘New Calvinists'”, those at the Met Tab must conclude they cannot associate with members of their own church.
- We must take care not to be drawn into the same snare as the Met Tab. It would be all too easy to denounce that church entirely and ignore their faithfulness and zealousness in the gospel simply because they fail to recognise other faithful, zealous churches. Andy’s Study argues that Peter Master’s “broad brushstroke of condemnation inevitably leads to an Elijah like cry of “I am the only one left” and, as we know, Elijah was wrong about that!”. Whilst this is true, Elijah did not cease to be the Lord’s – nor did he become unfaithful – despite his failure to recognise that there were others who were faithful too. So, although the Met Tab are wrong to denounce others who are clearly gospel focused, we should not pretend they have diverted from the truth because they fail to seek gospel unity.
- Equally, we should not imply the Met Tab has received no blessing nor that they have been unfaithful to gospel truth simply because we don’t like something of what they do. The facts (much to the chagrin of those us who vehemently dislike the Met Tab approach to unity) suggest that Peter Master’s has been faithful to gospel truth and blessed by God with a sizeable congregation, indeed a much larger gathering than when he first joined. They have a thriving evangelistic Sunday School and are most zealous in gospel work. To suggest they produce no fruit is simply to ignore the facts of the matter.
- Nevertheless, a large congregation and zealous gospel outreach does not, on it’s own, indicate a good church. Scripture has much to say about love within and between faithful churches. In this instance, Jesus’ words to the church in Ephesus (Rev 2:1-7) are helpful. Jesus commends the church for much of what they do, for their faithfulness toward the truth and does not suggest they no longer belong to the body. However, he gives them stark warning that, without love, they are in real danger. The Met Tab may lean toward Ephesian ecclesiology but we would do well to remember (a) the Ephesians remained within the body of Christ and; (b) whilst we should be able to highlight and reject error, there is a danger we can become overly critical and thus find ourselves closer to the Met Tab school of thought than we care to think.