Generally, people apply the term frozen chosen in a couple of ways. In some contexts, frozen chosen denotes Christian groups that tend to be intellectual, reserved, and more focused on doctrine than on loving their neighbors. It is most often employed to refer to Presbyterians and/or other Reformed Christians who emphasize being “chosen,” (i.e., the elect), while appearing to be emotionally cold. Churches that seem callous and unwelcoming might be referred to as “the frozen chosen.” In other contexts, the label frozen chosen is applied to those who are “frozen,” or not growing, in their walk with God.
It is true that some churches are less emotive than others. Some churches consider loud, emotional displays during worship to be disrespectful to God’s status as King. Such churches strive to maintain a reverential hush before and during the service. Other churches worship the Lord with shouts of hallelujah and boisterous, freewheeling praise. A church of one type tends to look askance at the other type. The reserved church may consider the less reserved to be impious; the louder, more spontaneous church may consider the quieter, more structured church to be the “frozen chosen.”
Of course, there is nothing sinful about being reserved and quiet in one’s worship. And there is nothing sinful about being loud and expressive in one’s worship. Every church has its own personality, as it were—some are more introverted, and some are more extroverted. Every church has a different “feel” to it, because every church develops its own culture, its own way of doing things. As long as the doctrine of a church is biblical, there is room for diversity of methods.
Sometimes, the “frozen chosen” label is an unfair characterization. People who do not understand cultural differences may bandy the label about, as may those who equate worship with emotionalism. But, other times, the label is deserved. We must guard against becoming the “frozen chosen.” Our churches should be warm, welcoming places, even as we strive for a reverent atmosphere. We should weep with those who weep and rejoice with those who rejoice (Romans 12:15). We should not allow a studious approach to the Word of God to inhibit a robust, real-life application of that Word (see James 1:22).
It is possible for believers to grow cold in their love for the Lord and for others and in that way be part of the “frozen chosen” (see Revelation 2:4). The remedy for this condition is prescribed by the Lord Jesus as He addressed the Ephesian church: “Consider how far you have fallen! Repent and do the things you did at first” (Revelation 2:5). When we “see what great love the Father has lavished on us, that we should be called children of God” our love for Him must warm and grow (1 John 3:1).
Finally, Christians may go through periods when they feel cold and distant from God. These might be times when not much fruit is produced and not much love is felt. Christians at times may not even feel saved. But the feeling is not permanent. Once we turn again to the foundational truths of the Christian life— the sovereignty of God, the sacrifice and intercession of Christ, the promise of the Holy Spirit, and the hope of eternal glory—the coldness abates. In the end, we should be cautious about using the phrase the frozen chosen, either of ourselves or of others.