by Mike Ratliff
Then I heard another voice from heaven saying,
“Come out of her, my people,
lest you take part in her sins,
lest you share in her plagues;
for her sins are heaped high as heaven,
and God has remembered her iniquities.
Pay her back as she herself has paid back others,
and repay her double for her deeds;
mix a double portion for her in the cup she mixed. (Revelation 18:4-6 ESV)
In the March 2011 Tabletalk Magazine by Ligonier Ministries on pp54-55 is an article by Rev. Kevin DeYoung titled “Heresy of the Free Spirit.” The author is a member of the Acts 29 church planting network team. He is not “emergent” or “emerging.” At least he claims he is not. He has written several books among them is Why We Love the Church: In Praise of Institutions and Organized Religion. I would like to remind you of our discussions over the last several weeks about the Christian’s responsibility regarding the doctrine of Unity and Separation as well as our brother Daniel Chew’s debate with Frank Turk regarding these very same issues. The link to that debate is here. This is neither a minor issue nor is it a simple one, therefore, we must pray for wisdom and discernment that we may do what is right in the eyes of our Lord in this, not in the eyes of man.
There are a few issues I have with Rev. DeYoung’s article that I would like to address here. The first is that he uses the case of a 14th Century Roman Catholic mystic named Margureite Porete whose views were so controversial that the she was burned at the stake in Paris in 1310. It was her radical two-tiered ecclesiological view of an institutional church for the simply religious and a higher, more spiritual body of liberated souls freed from organizational shackles, governed by love, relying on contemplation that got her in trouble. She called the institutional church the Holy Church the Little and the one she advocated as the Holy Church the Great. Rev. DeYoung states that her book was written for the enlightened ones set free from Holy Church the Little into Holy Church the Great.
Never forget my brethren, we are talking here about a French Mystic born in the 13th century. She was part of the Beguines, a voluntary informal semi-monastic community. She pre-dates the Protestant Reformation by about 200 years, but if you look at what she was teaching, it has nothing to do with the Gospel of our Lord Jesus Christ. It has nothing to do with fulfilling the Great Commission. It has nothing to do with being the obedient slaves of our Lord Jesus Christ.
Rev. DeYoung uses this example of Margueite Porete and her influence on the New Monasticism that is popping up in some urban centers in our time. At the end of his article, he makes this statement referring back to Marguerite’s mystical approach to knowledge, saying that she had no place for means. She claimed her insights could “be understood only by those to whom God has given understanding and by none other; it is not taught by Scripture, not can human reason work it out…It is a gift receive from the Most High.” I agree with Rev. DeYoung that this is a fallacy, but then he makes a false dichotomy. He states, “This is akin to those Christians who think they can move beyond traditional devotional practices or the humdrum of the local church. But no healthy Christian ever moves past sermons, Scripture, prayer sacraments, and the organized church. These are the God-appointed means by which we grow in Christ….”
What he says is right, but his comparison is false and here is why. I and those I minister to who have fled those thousands of churches have not done so because we are attempting to “move beyond” these things. No, I desperately want to be part of church where I can be fed and where I can be ministered to like that. No, the problem is that those churches have been changed into something else. They no longer DO THAT. The reason so many have fled those churches, me among them, is that those churches have joined the ranks of the PDC or something similar and now they are more of a business enterprise that shuns adherence to God’s Word as Truth and, instead, seeks to become man-pleasers.
I stand with my friend Daniel Chew. We cannot be in fellowship with any part of the organized church that is in apostasy.
Soli Deo Gloria.