The Epistemology of Transformative Learning


by Mike Ratliff

Epistemology: noun Philosophy  the theory of knowledge, esp. with regard to its methods, validity, and scope. Epistemology is the investigation of what distinguishes justified belief from opinion.

DERIVATIVES

epistemological adjective

epistemologically adverb

epistemologist noun

ORIGIN mid 19th cent.: from Greek epistēmē ‘knowledge,’ from epistasthai ‘know, know how to do.’

On my recent trip to Oklahoma, I had one morning to myself prior to our meeting with family to do the cleanup on my parent’s house the following day. I took my camera and hiked across town from my daughter’s house with the goal of reaching the campus of my alma mater where I earned my BBA back in the mid 1980’s. It was hot and humid. I had to stop twice at stores for water, however, as I neared the campus, I began to recognize familiar markers and a few new ones that just seemed to jar my consciousness. I asked God to continue to show me what he was preparing me for. The first “new” marker was this statue just a block or so from campus.

Of course, this is Humpty Dumpty. We have been in discussions quite a bit lately as to how Post-Modernist thinking has attacked the very fabric of the meaning of language to the point that words can mean whatever one wants them to mean just like in Chapter 6 from Alice in Wonderland, `When I use a word,’ Humpty Dumpty said in rather a scornful tone, `it means just what I choose it to mean — neither more nor less.Continue reading

A Short Trip


I will be traveling over the next several days returning late Tuesday, June 29th. We will be finalizing the condition and effects for the sale of my parents house and the estate sale of the contents. I am really looking forward to getting past this. I will be unable to check email, moderate or respond to comments while on this trip.

Posted in FYI

A Tree and Its Fruit


By Mike Ratliff

“Either make the tree good and its fruit good, or make the tree bad and its fruit bad, for the tree is known by its fruit. You brood of vipers! How can you speak good, when you are evil? For out of the abundance of the heart the mouth speaks. The good person out of his good treasure brings forth good, and the evil person out of his evil treasure brings forth evil.” (Matthew 12:33-35 ESV)

Despite what the Post-Modern paradigm holds, there are only two groups of people. There are genuine Christians and everyone else. There is truth and everything else is not the truth. I was once reprimanded by a postmodernist apologist for being too black and white. He stated, “After all, Christianity is so “broadly defined” there is room under its big tent for everyone so why are you being so narrow?” Our Jesus did not teach like that. He taught that the righteous believed righteous things and taught righteous things while the unrighteous did the opposite. He even showed us how we can tell a false believer or teacher from one who is genuine.  Continue reading

In Order That The Things That Cannot be Shaken May Remain


 

This phrase, “Yet once more,” indicates the removal of things that are shaken—that is, things that have been made—in order that the things that cannot be shaken may remain. (Hebrews 12:27 ESV)

We have many things in our possession at the present moment which can be shaken, and it ill becomes a Christian man to set much store by them, for there is nothing stable beneath these rolling skies; change is written upon all things. Yet, we have certain “things which cannot be shaken,” and I invite you this evening to think of them, that if the things which can be shaken should all be taken away, you may derive real comfort from the things that cannot be shaken, which will remain. Whatever your losses have been, or may be, you enjoy present salvation. You are standing at the foot of His cross, trusting alone in the merit of Jesus’ precious blood, and no rise or fall of the markets can interfere with your salvation in Him; no breaking of banks, no failures and bankruptcies can touch that. Then you are a child of God this evening.  God is your Father. No change of circumstances can ever rob you of that. Although by losses brought to poverty, and stripped bare, you can say, ” He is my Father still. In my Father’s house are many mansions; therefore will I not be troubled.”

You have another permanent blessing, namely, the love of Jesus Christ. He who is God and Man loves you with all the strength of His affectionate nature-nothing can affect that. The fig tree may not blossom, and the flocks may cease from the field, it matters not to the man who can sing, “My Beloved is mine, and I am His.” Our best portion and richest heritage we cannot lose. Whatever troubles come, let us play the man; let us show that we are not such little children as to be cast down by what may happen in this poor fleeting state of time. Our country is Immanuel’s land, our hope is above the sky, and therefore, calm as the summer’s ocean; we will see the wreck of everything earthborn, and yet rejoice in the God of our salvation. -C.H. Spurgeon from Spurgeon’s Evening by Evening for June 22.

 

Puritan Prayers


by Mike Ratliff

This article will be very simple. There are some who claim that the Puritans were Contemplative and Mystical Christians in that the way that they prayed was done in such a way so as to invoke a a higher sense of feeling towards and from God. However, we contend that the Puritans viewed prayer as one of the means of grace. I have been working my way through Dr. John Owen’s Communion With The Truiune God for quite some time. Owen was a Puritan and a Bible Scholar. His teaching of how Christians communed with each person of the Holy Trinity was according to how it is clearly designated in God’s Word. He does not go beyond its boundaries whatsoever into personal experience, which is a form of subjectivism. No, the Puritans viewed their religion, their walk with God, their faith, every part of their journey in this life to the Celestial City objectively in light of the clear teaching from God’s Word. Continue reading

Therefore God Sends Them A Strong Delusion


by Mike Ratliff

And the king of Israel said to Jehoshaphat, “Did I not tell you that he would not prophesy good concerning me, but evil?” And Micaiah said, “Therefore hear the word of the Lord: I saw the Lord sitting on his throne, and all the host of heaven standing beside him on his right hand and on his left; and the Lord said, ‘Who will entice Ahab, that he may go up and fall at Ramoth-gilead?’ And one said one thing, and another said another. Then a spirit came forward and stood before the Lord, saying, ‘I will entice him.’ And the Lord said to him, ‘By what means?’ And he said, ‘I will go out, and will be a lying spirit in the mouth of all his prophets.’ And he said, ‘You are to entice him, and you shall succeed; go out and do so.’ Now therefore behold, the Lord has put a lying spirit in the mouth of all these your prophets; the Lord has declared disaster for you.” (1 Kings 22:18-23 ESV)

There is not a day during the week that goes by without me becoming involved in a discussion with friends about this or that very well known “Christian” figure saying or doing something that reveals fruit of apostasy in their lives and ministries. It used to be a surprise and we all marveled, but not anymore. Oh, we mourn, and we wonder at who will be next, but we have learned that our rock is Christ not any man. We cling to the Cross and the Gospel of the Lord Jesus, not the life and ministry of any man. I grew up a Southern Baptist and was a Deacon and Bible teacher in multiple SBC churches from the late 1980’s until we left our old church in 2006 when it was preparing to go Purpose Driven. During that time, I was quite acquainted with the SBC way of making celebrities of its superstar preachers and evangelists. This same thing is also found in other denominations and church groups I am sure. These superstars have become idols and have taken a place in these churches that should only be held in a place in the hearts of the people reserved for our Lord.  Continue reading

How Believers Hold Communion with the Lord Christ


by Mike Ratliff

Blessed be the God and Father of our Lord Jesus Christ, who has blessed us in Christ with every spiritual blessing in the heavenly places, even as he chose us in him before the foundation of the world, that we should be holy and blameless before him. In love he predestined us for adoption as sons through Jesus Christ, according to the purpose of his will, to the praise of his glorious grace, with which he has blessed us in the Beloved. In him we have redemption through his blood, the forgiveness of our trespasses, according to the riches of his grace, which he lavished upon us, in all wisdom and insight making known to us the mystery of his will, according to his purpose, which he set forth in Christ as a plan for the fullness of time, to unite all things in him, things in heaven and things on earth. (Ephesians 1:3-10 ESV)

I have in my possession a book published as part of series of books called the “Library of Spiritual Classics.” The one I have is Volume One, which is titled Practicing His Presence. It is made up of three volumes. Two of the volumes contain the letters of Frank Laubach while the last volume is simply letters and interviews of Brother Lawrence, a 17th Century French Monk. I bought the book back in 2005 in order to have a source from which to quote Brother Lawrence for a book I was trying to put together. At that time, I had no knowledge of Contemplative Prayer, its source, or its dangers. In the Epilogue to the book, the editors give the purpose for the publishing of the six volume series, which include works by Jeanne Guyon, Fenelon, and Michael Molinos as well as Brother Lawrence and Frank Laubach. I find it interesting that one of the works listed for Frank Laubach is Letters by a Modern Mystic. If I had just encountered these works now, I would immediately recognize them for what they are, but back in 2005 I had no idea. Below is an excerpt from the Epilogue for Practicing His Presence.

There is no question: there are a vast number of Christians out there who are not content. Today’s Christianity does not satisfy, is not deep enough; its formulas are all wanting.

We are publishing these books to help satisfy the hunger that is so widespread. But we also want to tell you something. It is this: God did not give you the presence of Christ just to make you blissfully happy all your life. He save you to put into His kingdom. And , in the first century at least, all believers had a vital part in the daily and very practical experience of that kingdom. They called it the body of Christ. We call it the church.

Whatever it is, it is basic, practical, real. And whatever it is – though it has many inferior imitations (such as “community,” “going to church on Sunday,” etc.) – church life is an experience unknown to Christians today.

Here is my plea. In all your seeking to know Christ in a real and deep way, don’t forget to seek to know Him as they did in the first century. They all know Him in the context of practical church life.

May you find Him. But may you also find that further experience of knowing Him in the daily experience of the body of Christ. – Gene Edwards

While I see some things in Mr. Edwards statement that I do agree with, I think his conclusion about how Christians in the 1st Century Church communed with Christ is simply “his take” or “his opinion,” not based in any way on what we learn from Sacred Scripture, God’s Word, which is the final say. As many of you know, I have been working my way through a work by 17th Century Puritan John Owen titled Communion With The Triune God. What follows is based on Chapter 9, “Of Communion with the Son Jesus Christ,” section ‘How Believers Hold Communion with the Lord Christ.’ I will be quoting from pages 329-333. There are three subsections in this section which will be the outline for this article and will refute what the mystics like Gene Edwards are saying about how Christians commune with their Lord. The Emergents have taken up the baton. Mysticism, no matter its source, is fair game in many so-called Christian circles. John Owen had a very different take on how we are to commune with our Saviour according to God’s Grace.  Continue reading

Sinning With A High Hand


by Mike Ratliff

Children, it is the last hour, and as you have heard that antichrist is coming, so now many antichrists have come. Therefore we know that it is the last hour. They went out from us, but they were not of us; for if they had been of us, they would have continued with us. But they went out, that it might become plain that they all are not of us. (1 John 2:18-19 ESV)

Under the Old Covenant, sinners would confess what they had done against the Lord. They would then bring a guilt offering to the Lord to atone for their sin. This guilt offering was variable not on the extent of the guilt of the offender but upon the amount that the person could afford to sacrifice, making it affordable for everyone to be able to make sacrifice for their sin. Such is the graciousness of God. On the other hand, there are such things as highhanded sins. These are sins for which there is no available sacrifice for which to offer to make atonement. These are capital offenses like murder, adultery, bestiality, homosexuality, kidnapping, et cetera. The only recourse was the death of the offender for they were seen as sinning with a high hand against God. These sins were in every sense deliberate.  Continue reading

Crucifying the Flesh With Its Passions and Desires


by Mike Ratliff

What shall we say then? Are we to continue in sin that grace may abound? By no means! How can we who died to sin still live in it? Do you not know that all of us who have been baptized into Christ Jesus were baptized into his death? We were buried therefore with him by baptism into death, in order that, just as Christ was raised from the dead by the glory of the Father, we too might walk in newness of life. For if we have been united with him in a death like his, we shall certainly be united with him in a resurrection like his. We know that our old self was crucified with him in order that the body of sin might be brought to nothing, so that we would no longer be enslaved to sin. For one who has died has been set free from sin. (Romans 6:1-7 ESV)

Genuine Christians were rescued out of this lost and dying world according to the mercy and will of God by His grace through faith as His Gift, not according to any merit or work on the part of the believer (Ephesians 2:8,9). According the Matthew 16-20, which is often called “the Great Commission,” this saving of souls is seen as the outcome of the mission of the church in going and making disciples of all nations, baptizing them in the name of the Father and the of the Son and of the Holy Spirit, teaching them to observe all that Christ has commanded us. This is God’s plan.  Continue reading

God is Love


by Mike Ratliff

So we have come to know and to believe the love that God has for us. God is love, and whoever abides in love abides in God, and God abides in him. (1 John 4:16 ESV)

As the elect draw closer and closer to Christ in obedience and fellowship the more and more they will be seen to be identified with Him and will, therefore, be hated by the world, just as He was and just as He said would happen (John 15:18-25). If the visible church has invited the world in and has become so conformed to it that there is no difference, what will happen within these “churches” when the elect within become conformed to Christ as I shared above? It will be the same result. They will be seen as outsiders and troublemakers. They will be seen as people needing “sensitivity training” or as intolerable and close-minded. They will be seen uncompromising and will, therefore, have to be driven out or, at least, ostracized. Not every church is in this sad shape, thank the Lord, but the number is growing, and intolerance for true Christian exclusivity and doctrinal purity in our countries are starting to contaminate our churches.  Continue reading

A New Reformation?


by Mike Ratliff

In a careful reading of the Apostles as they explain the gospel, the workings of the Church, the way to know God, doctrine, et cetera, it is amazing that their appeal is never to their position as Apostles to be believed because of their authoritative position. Yes, they used that to be heard, but the appeal to belief was never unto that, but unto the Word of God and the completed work of Christ. It was always for the glory of God, not their glory. Paul’s suffering for the gospel was legendary, but he knew that God used that to both humble him and prepare him for even greater service (Acts 9:16). In our day, the appeal to truth should be no different, but in reality in the visible church; we see the exact opposite nearly everywhere we look. We are told to believe what we are told because of subjective reasoning. The person speaking claims that what he is saying is the truth because he or she experienced something that is in no way verifiable nor is it in any way a biblical standard. What this sort of thing does is point people to focus on their leaders rather than Christ and His Word. Christ gave us His doctrine in His Word and we are told in Matthew 28:20 to teach only that which he has given us to teach to those we disciple; nothing more, nothing less.  Continue reading

A Good Soldier of Jesus Christ


by Mike Ratliff

This charge I entrust to you, Timothy, my child, in accordance with the prophecies previously made about you, that by them you may wage the good warfare, holding faith and a good conscience. By rejecting this, some have made shipwreck of their faith, among whom are Hymenaeus and Alexander, whom I have handed over to Satan that they may learn not to blaspheme. (1 Timothy 1:18-20 ESV)

We have been looking at examples in the last several posts of a confused mess within the visible church. There are most definitely those who remain faithful in their orthodoxy while there are those who most definitely are “out there” in their apostasy. The confusion comes into play when we witness those with a very positive witness theologically making very unwise decisions with whom they fellowship or endorse. We also have some who have the right theology, but also embrace elements of the Emergent Christianity, which is heretical on many levels because of its unbiblical nature and its ecumenical inclusion of elements from other religions. This intermixing of things is where the confusion comes to bear. I attended a “mega-church” this last Sunday that has a fine pastor. He is theologically very sound. The church has many fine, biblically sound practices. However, it is amazing how conformed it also is on many levels to the very same new age nonsense that I have to put up with at the Catholic Healthcare System that employs me to manage their databases. They have banners hanging in their lobby that are nearly identical to the ones that appear on our newsletters at work as we are being called to “come together” more as a team, to engage, et cetera.  Continue reading

Really Abiding in Christ


by Mike Ratliff

My little children, I am writing these things to you so that you may not sin. But if anyone does sin, we have an advocate with the Father, Jesus Christ the righteous. He is the propitiation for our sins, and not for ours only but also for the sins of the whole world. And by this we know that we have come to know him, if we keep his commandments. Whoever says “I know him” but does not keep his commandments is a liar, and the truth is not in him, but whoever keeps his word, in him truly the love of God is perfected. By this we may know that we are in him: whoever says he abides in him ought to walk in the same way in which he walked. (1 John 2:1-6 ESV)

My friend Ken Silva was attacked today by someone claiming that he has no discernment. This was in reference to his stand against the new age, emergent Leonard Sweet attempting to pass off his theology as orthodox. Some of Mr. Sweet’s friends and allies have taken it upon themselves to claim that Ken is simply a bully and only a lowly “ODM” so he must be just looking for someone to kick around and there really is not anything to these charges anyway, blah, blah, blah… Well, I have read Jesus Manifesto by Leonard Sweet and Frank Viola. I have also been right there with Ken as he showed me the evidence of Sweet’s total lack of orthodoxy, his push to separate Christians from the Word of God to pursue his version of Jesus, et cetera. I am not surprised that many have come to the aide of Leonard Sweet and this book. Why? We live in a time of spiritual blindness. Those claiming that Ken has no discernment are doing so from their own base of zero spiritual discernment and prove it by their blind acceptance of this book and Leonard Sweet’s ministry as orthodox Christianity. God’s Truth, His Word, is what indicts them in this. I read some of the comments on the blog where most of the complaints were. I think a debate with some of those folks would be fun…  Continue reading