by Mike Ratliff
And he said to them, “Well did Isaiah prophesy of you hypocrites, as it is written,
“‘This people honors me with their lips,
but their heart is far from me;
in vain do they worship me,
teaching as doctrines the commandments of men.’
You leave the commandment of God and hold to the tradition of men.” (Mark 7:6-8 ESV)
About six or seven years ago before my old church was taken over with its current PDC madness, it became a haven for several families and single adults from a Fundamental Baptist church in our area that had forced them to leave. They were disciplined and expelled from membership because they refused to sever relationships with others in their families who the leadership in that church determined “were in sin.” I became close to several of the couples and taught them in my Bible Study class and what I discovered was that they were actually starved for the Word of God. They were not being fed the truth regularly as they should have been, but, instead, were fed the commandments of men.
On the other hand, there were a few who came from that church with whom I always seemed to be in a sort of turmoil. These fellows did not like the fact that I taught from a Bible that was not the King James. I used the New King James sometimes. Other times I used the English Standard Version. Other times I used the New American Standard. Sometimes, I used them all in the same lesson along with quotes from the KJV, but what really got them going was when I used Greek and Hebrew to prove my points instead of going to the KJV.
Before I go any further here I want all to understand where I stand on the Doctrine of Unity and Separation. If you have not read that post, please click the link and read it. That doctrine clearly states how we are to handle professing Christians who are obviously not doctrinally sound. We do so Biblically, not emotionally, not vengefully, and not hatefully. Yes, we name them and warn the Body of Christ if these people do not repent. Yes, we do not fellowship with them nor go into ministry with them. However, there are some in the radical, fundamentalist camp who would want to hang one of us on a tree if we even visited the website of Saddleback Valley Baptist Church. With all the turmoil roiling around John Piper and his relationship with Rick Warren, I was very surprised one day to receive an email from someone accusing me of compromising because on my old website that I had not updated in over three years, there were still links there back to John Piper’s Desiring God ministry web site. My response? Internally I wanted to scream, “So What!” However, what I did was graciously tell the person that that website was out of date and I really did not have the time to keep it up to date, but at the first opportunity I would go check it out.
When John MacArthur visited Liberty University not long ago, I received many warning emails about that. I did not even go to check them out. I just waited until I heard from GTY that he had preached at Chapel there to the student body. Is Ergun Caner still there? I’m not sure, but even so, what has that to do with John MacArthur preaching at Chapel to the students?
I did not like it when Michael Horton participated in that “conversation” at Saddleback Valley Church last year. However, I did listen to the entire “conversation.” I was bored to tears. What a waste of time except when Dr. Horton did interject some real Christian things in there that were so different than the Dominionism or emergent or PDC junk that everyone else was talking about. I got several questioning emails at that time about that. My questions back to those who sent them was this, “Did Dr. Horton compromise? Did he say anything that would lead anyone to believe that he was now in league with Rick Warren and the PDC paradigm? There was nothing in that that would suggest anything like that.
However, the worst thing that came out of it was the picture taken with Dr. Horton and Rick Warren with the statue of John Calvin between them. Whatever the circumstances behind that, I believe that it was not a wise decision on Dr. Horton’s part to do that. However, does this mean that he violated the Doctrine of Unity and Separation? If you go through that very carefully, then you must say that he did not.
Right now within the discernment camp, there is a lot of unwise things going on. The foundation for that is what some refer to as radical fundamentalist separation. It requires secondary separation from anyone that is even accused of being guilty of apostasy or heresy. The rule is guilt by association. Let’s say that I know a well known Christian leader. We are friends and I have a link to his site on my blog and he links to me. However, he is also a friend with someone in the Acts 29 network, but that friendship is not one that crosses doctrinal issues. Instead, my friend uses that relationship to get information about what is going on in that camp. Someone in the radical fundamentalist separation group finds out about that relationship and calls out my friend. He resists them and I defend him. Now I am looked at as if I am guilty of compromise because I have a relationship with someone they suspect. However, the real problem is that they are applying unbiblical rules of separation here and it is revealed in method and the intensity of hate that comes down on all who resist them.
I remember when I first started this blog and started working with Ken at CRN. There was a group of people at a site called CRN.info that dedicated themselves to shutting us down. Some of them are still trying to do so. Ken and I talked about this earlier today and he said that the emergent movement actually sprung up as a protest against the Baptist Fundamentalist/KJV Onlyism movement. What they were resisting (legalism) was wrong, but how they went about resisting it (the emergent movement) was wrong too. In any case, the rage and ugly attacks and outright underhanded methods these guys used against Ken and some of us at times, I think, showed that their hearts were not with God at all. Now, think of the ugliness in the attacks that come from these seek and destroy missions of the guilt by association group. I have had to block several of their emails recently because they use the same tactics that those CRN.info boys used. That is sad and very telling.
I remember back then trying to get both sides to understand that I was neither a Fundamentalist nor Emergent. I was simply one tied to the Word of God as His Truth with Christ as Lord. I am His slave and He is Head of the Church. How dare anyone go against that, but that is what man does through man-made religiosity in all its forms. When I am in battle form and I turn to a fellow warrior for prayer support and all I get is emotion or despair, et cetera then I know that many of those I thought were suited up in the full armor of God for battle are actually only practicing their man-made religiosity in the power of their flesh and I had better not depend on them at all. Lately, I have encountered that quite a bit and it has been rather eye opening.
My brethren, God is Sovereign. When are we going to stop pointing accusing fingers at each other about who said what about who and instead, obey what God says to do? Should we be discerning? Absolutely! Should we practice the doctrine of Unity and Separation? Absolutely! In doing so, instead of attacking one another, why not spend that time and energy in some time before the throne of grace in confession and repentance?
Soli Deo Gloria!