There is Death in the Pot!

by Mike Ratliff

And Elisha came again to Gilgal when there was a famine in the land. And as the sons of the prophets were sitting before him, he said to his servant, “Set on the large pot, and boil stew for the sons of the prophets.” One of them went out into the field to gather herbs, and found a wild vine and gathered from it his lap full of wild gourds, and came and cut them up into the pot of stew, not knowing what they were. And they poured out some for the men to eat. But while they were eating of the stew, they cried out, “O man of God, there is death in the pot!” And they could not eat it. He said, “Then bring flour.” And he threw it into the pot and said, “Pour some out for the men, that they may eat.” And there was no harm in the pot. (2 Kings 4:38-41 ESV)

In a private discussion with friends over the last few days the question has been raised about three primary examples of well-known reformed theologians or pastors who if we looked closely at their theology of salvation and the gospel of Lord Jesus Christ we would say that these are our brothers. However, there is a problem. These same three men are involved in things that many of us consider extra-biblical and outside of the true mission God has given the Church. John Piper is a good theologian, but he is also closely associated with Mark Driscoll who is both emergent and the leader of the Acts 29 Network. He has also invited Rick Warren to speak at his conference this Fall. Mark Driscoll is reformed in his theology as well. He has made statements that he has turned away from his emergent roots, but the Acts 29 Network claims to be the source of “new Calvinism” which is missional and lines up nicely with the emergent goals. Lastly, we have Matt Chandler. His theology is right on, but he is also pursuing some things in his ministry that are troubling because they are highly subjective in their foundation. 

Why are each of these things troubling to those of us who take our theology seriously? We take our theology seriously because we know that there is only one truth and that is God’s. Our doctrine is the doctrine given to us by our Lord. He is the author of it, not men. We approach our faith objectively not subjectively. What is the big deal about that? It is theologically dangerous, at best, to elevate subjective revelation as if it is primary. We see the charismatic people do this a lot. I have seen men such as Benny Hinn make up theology on the stage as he goes along. It is ridiculous. This is not how God operates in the Church. This is not how the Church is to operate in the world and in its relationship with God. We have God’s truth and we must obey Him by faith. We believe Him and obey Him. He gives us the grace to do this. This is not legalism. It is not done according to the flesh or will power.

In any case, as we look at men whose theology looks very good, but who have compromised in one form or another with people or groups or theologies or concepts that are, at best, red flags to those of us who “take our theology seriously,” what are we to do? Some would have us do nothing because to point out these things is mean-spirited and makes us a “hater.” While I concede that we can descend into “haterism” if we are not careful, that should never be our focus. We should be taking our theology seriously because we do all we do for the glory of God and the edification of the Body of Christ. If there are other motives then perhaps we should keep silent. However, if that is our motive then like those sons of the prophets who could not eat the potage because of its bitterness, we must cry out, “O man of God, there is death in the pot!” Let us cry out to God Himself because what we are observing is beyond our ability to reconcile with reason at times. How is it that such men who have all the right theology could be so deceived?

I think the answer to that is actually found within each of us. Our hearts are beyond our understanding. They are desperately wicked, who can comprehend them? There are times that God takes His hand away so that I can see the wickedness within. Ugh! It is then I realize that I can only do what I do with His Word in the Body of Christ by His Grace, by Him working in me. I can do nothing. Therefore, when we see these men who should know better succumbing to heresies and taking the route to apostasy, we should understand that they have done this because they are operating outside of their surrender to the Lordship and will of God. They are doing this on their own and God is allowing it. This corruption is coming into those ministries and God is not setting there helpless to do anything about it. He knows what is going on. He knows that we see it as well. He knows those of us whose hearts ache because of this and that we are drawn to pray for these men to repent and be drawn away from the deception that has clouded their reason.

Yes, we must do two things. We must warn the Body of Christ of what is going on and why it is a problem and we must pray for these men and their ministries. Perhaps God will grant them repentance. All for His Glory!

Soli Deo Gloria!

17 thoughts on “There is Death in the Pot!

  1. Well said my brother. Well said. Praise be to Him. Humble us O Lord with the heart attitude of Psalm 141, that we respond to rebuke and correction as the Psalmist did in verse 5.

    Psalm 141 O Lord, I call upon you; hasten to me!

    Give ear to my voice when I call to you!

    2 Let my prayer be counted as incense before you,

    and the lifting up of my hands as the evening sacrifice!

    3 Set a guard, O Lord, over my mouth;

    keep watch over the door of my lips!

    4 Do not let my heart incline to any evil,

    to busy myself with wicked deeds

    in company with men who work iniquity,

    and let me not eat of their delicacies!

    5 Let a righteous man strike me—it is a kindness;

    let him rebuke me—it is oil for my head;

    let my head not refuse it.

    Yet my prayer is continually against their evil deeds.

    6 When their judges are thrown over the cliff,

    then they shall hear my words, for they are pleasant.

    7 As when one plows and breaks up the earth,

    so shall our bones be scattered at the mouth of Sheol.

    8 But my eyes are toward you, O God, my Lord;

    in you I seek refuge; leave me not defenseless!

    9 Keep me from the trap that they have laid for me

    and from the snares of evildoers!

    10 Let the wicked fall into their own nets,

    while I pass by safely.


  2. God is very merciful, so it is good that you exhort your readers to pray for these men. I know the prayer burden is heavy for those in leadership.

    It’s public knowledge that John Piper, after 30 years of continuous ministry, is taking a temporary leave and that Matt Chandler is walking through the ups and downs in a battle against cancer. I cannot presume to know what is going on in their hearts, but I have to believe that God is dealing with them both.

    May there be a stripping of all that is man-centered and may a spirit of burning reveal what building materials are being used. 1 Corinthians 3:11-15 says,

    For other foundation can no man lay than that is laid, which is Jesus Christ. Now if any man build upon this foundation gold, silver, precious stones, wood, hay, stubble; Every man’s work shall be made manifest: for the day shall declare it, because it shall be revealed by fire; and the fire shall try every man’s work of what sort it is. If any man’s work abide which he hath built thereupon, he shall receive a reward. If any man’s work shall be burned, he shall suffer loss: but he himself shall be saved; yet so as by fire.


  3. Man, I hope I don’t have to get cancer just so God can deal with me. That Chandler must be a real reprobate that this was the only way that he’d listen to God.


  4. I’m sorry Brendt, I don’t understand what you are saying. I read your post on Matt and I was confused. I think Matt is a very sincere guy and his theology is right on, but his embracing of contemplative spirituality which is all over his ministry is what is wrong and I am standing against and warning others about. We must pray for God to turn him from this. God can use anything He wants and whatever it takes to accomplish His will for His glory in us. Look at Job. Look at Paul. He If anything, this has brought contemplative spirituality back into the central focus of things and I for one am praying for the wisdom in how to address it.

    In Christ

    Mike Ratiff


  5. While wandering, before being saved by God’s Grace, I became familiar with “contemplation”, meditation, and visualization as practiced by non-Christian religions.
    It is indeed our duty to expose the corruption of Biblical Christianity from the addition of these practices to it.
    True shepherds protect the sheep; they do not allow wolves in sheeps’ clothing access to the flock!
    The protection of “little ones” and the “babes in Christ” is the responsibility of all true believers.


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  7. Good Article! sometimes people have trouble “naming names”. I noticed in my reading this week the Apotle Paul had no trouble naming people outright and in these three examples, the problem was not “doctrine” per se.

    ” For Demas hath forsaken me, having loved this present world, and is departed unto Thessalonica; Crescens to Galatia, Titus unto Dalmatia.” 2 Tim. 4:10

    ” Alexander the coppersmith did me much evil: the Lord reward him according to his works:” 2 Tim. 4:14

    I wrote unto the church: but Diotrephes, who loveth to have the preeminence among them, receiveth us not. Wherefore *, if I come , I will remember his deeds which he doeth , prating against us with malicious words: and not content therewith *, neither doth he himself receive the brethren, and forbiddeth them that would , and casteth them out of the church. 3 John 9&10


  8. OOPS!! sorry, think that last reference was the Apostle John…..hhmmm, he named names too???


  9. ” Therefore, when we see these men who should know better succumbing to heresies and taking the route to apostasy, we should understand that they have done this because they are operating outside of their surrender to the Lordship and will of God. They are doing this on their own and God is allowing it. This corruption is coming into those ministries and God is not setting there helpless to do anything about it. He knows what is going on.”

    This reminded me of the Scripture, in 2 Samuel 16, Shimei is cursing David and in the latter part of verse 11, David says ….”let him alone, and let him curse; for the Lord hath bidden him.”

    Praise the Lord !


  10. Berean Gal, When I wrote that I was truly amazed when I went back and read it. I wanted to change it, but I did not. I thought of all those examples in the Bible of men being doing God’s will even though it was what we perceive as evil. I left that statement alone for I do believe that is what we are seeing.


  11. I am sure you did want to “soften” it a bit, but obedience is always better than sacrifice!
    I appreciate someone who will be bold enough to warn, but not just a general warning, a very specific (naming names) warning.
    If I knew that there was a surgeon who was a real butcher and performed surgeries unneccessarily, would I recommend him? NO. Would I warn others not to go to him? ABSOLUTELY !
    How can the spiritual be less than the physical?

    God help us all in the last days!


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