Unity At All Costs?

by Mike Ratliff

Οὐ περὶ τούτων δὲ ἐρωτῶ μόνον, ἀλλὰ καὶ περὶ τῶν πιστευόντων διὰ τοῦ λόγου αὐτῶν εἰς ἐμέ, ἵνα πάντες ἓν ὦσιν, καθὼς σύ, πάτερ, ἐν ἐμοὶ κἀγὼ ἐν σοί, ἵνα καὶ αὐτοὶ ἐν ἡμῖν ὦσιν, ἵνα ὁ κόσμος πιστεύῃ ὅτι σύ με ἀπέστειλας. (John 17:20-21 NA27)

“I do not pray concerning these only, but also concerning those who will believe in Me through their word, that all may be one as You, Father, are in Me, and I in you, that they also may be in us that the world may believe that You sent Me.” (a personal translation of John 17:20-21 from the NA27 Greek text)

In yesterday’s post, Jesus’ High Priestly Prayer, we looked at John 17 and our Lord’s prayer that transitioned Him from His earthly ministry to the beginning of His intercessory ministry for all believers. In the third section of the prayer, which is for the entire Church, I excerpted the section I placed at the top of this post. From that I exposited the following paragraph:

How often do we hear of the lack of unity in the visible church in our time? It is lamented as if we should compromise and come together at all costs. However, that is unbiblical. The basis of true Christian unity centers in adherence to the revelation the Father mediated to our Lord’s first disciples through Him. Believers are also to be united in the common belief of the truth that was received in the Word of God (Philippians 2:2). This became a reality when the Holy Spirit came on the day of Pentecost (Acts 2:4; 1 Corinthians 12:13). True Christian unity is not based on fleshly, temporal, or experiential things. No! It is based upon the common eternal life shared by all who believe the truth. These come together in the Body of Christ all sharing His life.

Last weekend my wife and I were involved in some discussions with other believers about these very things. I did not say much about the rank apostasy we discuss here from time to time, but I was absolutely taken aback by the ignorance expressed by some in that room of the darkness that is rampant in the visible church in our time. Again, there were only a few there who knew who I was and knew about this ministry and I was not there to take over the conversation. However, the few who were there who did know about me and what I do were watching carefully when these topics came up. I held my peace. On the other hand, no outright support any apostate teacher was expressed by anyone either or I might have reneged on my promise to be quiet.  

As many of you know, I came out of the SBC and I have many family still attending some of those churches. When I visit, I am utterly amazed at the differences. Some are huge. Some are small. Some are very conservative. Some are borderline Post Modern. Our brother Ken Siliva has put together three posts that I believe each of you should take the time to read in light of these issues concerning the SBC and the encroachment of mysticism within Evangelicalism. The first one is PROMOTING CONTEMPLATIVE SPIRITUALITY/MYSTICISM OK IN SOUTHERN BAPTIST CONVENTION. The second is:  FOCUS ON THE FAMILY DISRESPECTS LIGHTHOUSE TRAILS TO PROMOTE CONTEMPLATIVE SPIRITUALITY/MYSTICISM.The third is: DR. ED YOUNG PROMOTING CONTEMPLATIVE SPIRITUALITY/MYSTICISM FOR HIS SOUTHERN BAPTISTS.

Now my brethren, let us not forget our Lord’s prayer on our behalf to be protected from the enemy and His wiles. If this is going on in these churches  and those in them and their leaders are not in the least convicted of the sinfulness of what they are doing yet we see the evil for what it is then what is the reality? Whatever it is, let us thank God for opening our eyes to these things and for keeping us from those deceptions. Let us pray for God to have mercy on those being deceived that some may be drawn out of that darkness into the light and be saved. God’s will be done.

Whatever the case, we do know that there is no way that can be unified in fellowship with those who claim to be Christians who practice such things. Unity at all cost? No!

Soli Deo Gloria!

17 thoughts on “Unity At All Costs?

  1. Mike once again, we need to define our terms. What do folks mean by the term ‘unity’. Do they mean unity around the Faith once for all delivered to the saints? Which is biblical unity, or are they just using a word that they have heard and think it sounds like a good idea? Or do they mean that we need to be as you said unified at all costs? No matter what? I think it is good to ask probing questions in these types of situations. Ask folks to define their terms. Ask them where they got their ideas. Ask them to explain further. Many times if they have to define or explain they realize that they have just been repeating someone else’s words, or they have not really studied the scriptures to find out what the Bible says about the topic.

  2. Pingback: Unity At All Costs? (via Possessing the Treasure) « Take A Look

  3. Thanks for putting those up Mike. Right now I’m getting no reaction whatsoever to this story. Here’s what I don’t think people get; the SBC is the largest, conservative, Protestant denomination in the U.S. and is as mainstream as it gets in the visible church.

    Young, Sr. is a two-time president of the SBC and no lightwieight in that denomination. His Second Baptist Church is huge. If one looks at that the post with Dr. Young in the title they’ll see the actual video of Gary Thomas, who is a preaching pastor on staff of Dr. Young’s SBC church, doing his sermon at 2ndBC last Sunday.

    They’ll also clearly see him, on video and from his books, promote and praise Roman Catholic mystics and call them “precious” family in Christ. They’ll see Dr. Young’s endorsement of Thomas’ writing and his recommendation of his supposed spiritual insights.

    Thomas has clearly set aside the Protestant Reformers assessments of Roman Catholic mystics who were living at the same time these Reformers were living. They encouraged the proper Christian spirituality of sola Scriputra precisely in answer to these mystics, which Thomas also has to set aside to teach his mystic mythology.

    Mike, this is vivid evidence of the views of more and more younger evangelicals and illustration of the effects of Emergent philosophy within evangelicalism. My point is, if Roman Catholic mysticism is being openly promoted in megachurches like 2ndBC and Saddleback Church within the SBC, then we have a huge problem.

  4. Amen Ken. I can remember when I was a young Christian in the SBC hearing from visiting preachers say things like, “The Southern Baptist Convention Denomination” is not really protestant. I think they were trying to say that the denomination didn’t come from the Protestant Reformation. If that is their view or whatever then that is a shame, but it also explains a great deal of their willingness to chum it up with the RCC. More to come….

  5. So those of us who belong to Southern Baptist churches…should we ask our pastors about whether or not our church should continue being a part of the SBC? Is this serious enough and deep-rooted enough to affect the whole SBC? Need help sorting it out…

  6. Julie,

    I cannot speak for the SBC as I am not Southern Baptist. I can, however, speak for myself and the experience that my wife and I have had. We left a church that we had been attending for 20 plus years because of this type of mystical, heretical trash. There was a change in leadership and the new regime brought with them “spiritual formation”, which I hadn’t heard of before. Some of the stuff they were pushing seemed odd to me, so I started to do some digging. Praise God, that’s how I found Ken Silva’s site and this site, as well.

    As I was doing my studying on all of this, it became clear as crystal to me that this mystical, contemplative stuff had made it’s way into the universities and seminaries that carried the name of my denomination. That’s where the problem is to be found. It is coming from the top down and, in my humble opinion, it WILL take it’s toll on the entire SBC if it is allowed to continue flourishing in the schools. Again, that’s just my opinion and Mike and Ken may have a better answer for you. But, judging from the state of the denomination I left, the SBC may be in jeopardy because the denomination I left is filled to the hilt with young people, and old people who should be able to discern better, who have no problem with Rob Bell, Doug Pagitt, emergent thought and contemplative spirituality.

    This problem is so widespread that my wife and I can’t find a church that we know teaches God’s Word and the faith once for all delivered to the saints. We live in Indiana, which isn’t a bastion of liberalism, so that may shed some light on how big the problem is. It is everywhere.

  7. Julie, I believe you and other concerned members of your church should graciously make these concerns known to your pastor. Find out if he has a problem with it or not. If he sees no issue with Spiritual Formation, as Dave said, then there is your red flag that your church is under attack. If he wants to coexist with other pastors in the denomination who do that stuff while remaining neutral then I would say you have a leadership problem there. I do know that SBC churches can leave the Convention any time they desire. This issue is large and important enough for you to approach your pastor about.

  8. Julie,

    “Is this serious enough and deep-rooted enough to affect the whole SBC? Need help sorting it out…”

    My answer is yes, certainly in its younger sectors. Please make the time to follow the links in this article: http://apprising.org/2011/07/14/promoting-contemplative-spiritualitymysticism-ok-in-southern-baptist-convention/

    There you’ll see contemplative mysticism promoted by SBC state conventions, not local churches within the state, but the state itself. The Georgia Baptist Convention produced resource recommending CSM, which you can get from the State Board of Missions of the Alabama Baptist Convention right here: http://www.alsbom.org/clientimages/36469/sbom_offices/discipleship_and_family_ministries/discipleshipresources/spiritualdisciplinesdship.pdf

    I wrote about it two years ago and it’s still there. A few pastor sources I have tell me that Foster-Willardism has been taught in SBC seminaries since they studied there, which would have been in the early 1980′s

    SBC outlets had kept it pretty much under wraps until lately. With younger evangelicals so pollluted by the Emerging Church, which has CSM as one of its core doctrines, younger leaders in the SBC are becoming emboldened to teach it openly.

    And how bad is it; I have written those three articles Mike was kind enough to link to, worked them to Christian media outlets, including the state convention Young’s church belongs to, and have have no response at all. As if what Gary Thomas teaches is perfectly fine.

    It’s going to get much worse as the Lord gives them over to this delusion.

  9. “Unity!” was the cry of the leaders of my former church, who were self-labelled as “people driven” after they were confronted about being purpose driven. I was new to reformed theology and thirsty for Truth, not false unity among people who care not for it. Martin Luther’s quote – “Peace if possible, Truth at all costs!” was my reply. There can be no unity without the peace of Christ. Those who follow the creature or a false Christ have no call on the blood-bought saints of the living God for “unity”.

  10. Amazing! Ken Silva get’s no reaction…Just look back through the blog-o-sphere at the reactions I got for shining a little light on the SBC and the rest of the Jesus franchizing around the country…including in the “reformed” camp…and it holds true regardless of the social club church/franchise one affiliates with. There is only one church of called out believers and only Jesus puts you in it…remember the Sola’s!
    See the problem stems from having to repent of affiliating with the nonsense in our own Sunday gathering. Most could easily see it in other denominations. But not where “I fellowship!” St Paul first had to come to the realization that everything he counted as important in his religion had to be re-considered, then counted as dung before he could grow in his relationship with the Lord…It works pretty much the same for ALL of us.
    All of the bible is written to us…but less then half of it is ever preached, even in the good congregations.

    Jon is home, and all is going as God ordered! It was brain surgery, yet the peace of God prevailed throughout. It was not a stressful week, but a stretchful week. I would not wish it one anyone, yet I would not trade it for any other walk. Praying for His will to be done, regardless of outcomes, brings the peace that passes all understanding. He knows what we need, and knows our desire. We never questioned the walk, we just walked it. In the process we were able to minister to a few folks in Pittsburgh’s Children’s Hospital, where nobody goes for a vacation. They saw our walk, and heared our talk, and God is glorified!
    This week we will be meeting with a christian family we know who’s daughter faces 10 hours of deep brain surgery, at the same hospital, with the same doctor. Please pray that they will see the power of God moving on their behalf, for His glory, and their benefit.
    Pray for His will to be done, and that we will be vessels of honor for Him!

  11. Mike,
    The real test to the true nature of the individual is when you see that they defend their denominations/affiliations/decisions/beliefs with more ferver then they do their Lord! For they show what really matters to them…A form of godlyness that denies The Power…They have a zeal, but not according to Wisdom!

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