An Example of a False Dichotomy

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.

28 thoughts on “An Example of a False Dichotomy

  1. Perhaps it would be wise to consider the source of the article, namely “Table Talk” from RC (Roman Catholic) Sproul. If you haven’t listened to his ten day radio series on the Roman Catholic church you should. Never once does he speak of the evils of the RCC, on the contrary he speaks of the RCC as just another branch or segment of Christianity that is misunderstood and wrongfully maligned. RC’s alliance with John Piper can not be dismissed either. Sooner or later the real strips of a person come to light and cannot be hidden any longer. Beware those who point you to heretical systems and “prayer techniques”. Beware most especially those who claim to be of one strip and then speak out of the other side of their mouth with lies, false doctrine and praise for those of questionable character. I speak specifically here of DeYoung and Sproul. I have zero-tolerance for the wickedness of such men.


  2. I’ll have to look at that Darrel, because every message and lecture I’ve heard from Sproul concering catholicism points to it not being a christian denomination. I’ve got my little tabletalk app on my device here, I’ll be sure to listen to it this week and get back to that. But I have to call bovine scatology in regard to your characterization of Sproul and his beliefs toward Roman Catholicism.
    Mike, your article at the end implies that you are no longer a part of a local body of believers because you can’t find one that ministers to you. I may have misunderstood though. Is it just that you have left many churches due to PDC stuff, etc, and that now you have finally found a good church. Or are you still not with a local body?


  3. Might I also add, that if you believe in the “guilt by association” gobbledegook, then you also need to attack John MacArthur, since he speaks at many conferences that RC Sproul speaks at, and has written for TableTalk before. Just saying.


  4. Jordan, I attend a local church when I am in town. I attend another church in another state when I am traveling to visit family. I no longer serve as a Deacon or Bible teacher in any local church. I have tried several churches in my area. Some were very gracious while the leadership at others, when they found out who I was, made it clear that I was not welcome there. Even at the the church I attend now, the leadership there seems puzzled that I have no desire to be a Deacon there or be in leadership there. Now, let it be said, I will obey God and do whatever He desires. If it is clear that I do those things then I will, but so far, I have a wonderful relationship with the Pastor at that church and I am ministered to and we take communion there. However, what I was saying in that article is true. My wife and I are not members of any local church right now.


  5. Thank you for your article, Mike. We continue to see Acts 29 Network promote contemplative spirituality (spiritual formation) which is not found in God’s Word.

    I am thankful for men (like you, Mike) who are calling this out as the false teaching it is. I pray more men will step up and speak out against these prayer practices, aligning with mystics, the RCC, plus ANY extraBiblical teachings. (ie:audible words from God , feelings, etc.)

    Please brothers in Christ.. speak up.

    Thank you for doing so, Mike.


  6. Hi again Mike. We are in a similar position to you regarding church. I do have a question though.. the presby church we recently left because of the seeker/missional model it was adopting – pushes “membership”.
    Can you point out for me in scripture where it talks about becoming a “member” of a church – particularly how it it done these days (signing contracts/going up the front and answering a few questions in front of the assembly etc)



  7. On the one hand DeYoung writes a brilliant, reasoned and well documented review of the false teacher Bell. On the other, we have what Mike points out is a grounds for further consideration, at the least. Then we have the “well what about so and so, he did or said xyz” bandwagon from the comments, which takes a discussion off the immediate and makes the poster of the comment the subject, or what he off tracked to.

    No man is perfect, and no man is too holy for his entire theology and public life to be examined in excruciating, but sane, detail. I am sure I could dig up something RC Sproul said that appears or in fact did put something I might consider wrong in a good light. Or I could “gobbledygook” something up on a teacher like MacArthur who in my opinion is 99.9% right.

    Although I love Mike’s post, I don’t always agree 100%, and I’m not really as theologically educated as he is to explain the 1% difference. Making side trails and pointing at the non-subject does no one any good, and just makes the poster of a comment the object, perhaps being what he wants. Now go ahead and make the argument I just did.

    Regarding DeYoung, I have been looking at his material since his Bell review. I have to say that anything, and I mean every jot and tittle that comes forth from anything Acts 29, in my view is automatically suspicious. It has wafting vapors of emergent. Like the true emergent, one can’t simply call it that because the jello won’t stay nailed to the wall long enough to be called jello. And there’s Driscoll. That name says enough by itself.

    So is there guilt by association? No, by no means. But there is evidence, there is examination, there is comparison to scripture, and there is compliance, or not, to scripture.

    Thanks for the fine Post Mike.


  8. Very good! It is very hard, in some cases not possible, to find an “organized church” which does not have some kind of fellowship with apostasy. Lord, help your elect be faithful to you and your word to the end. ” to him that overcometh……”


  9. Sandra, That is never addressed in that context in Scripture. We are simply told to be part of a local body of believers. When it becomes so organized that it requires extra-biblical covenants, et cetera then I think we are no longer on BIblical grounds.


  10. The bitter irony of it all….

    The Mystic Porete aka Spiritist who actually should not have been part of the “true” church because she was under the influence of seducing spirits, used as an example? It is this same spirit of the antichrist that is now invading the visible church trying to push out those truly in Christ. Go to any “Christian” book store and pick up almost any book and read the bibliography. You will be hard pressed not to find the name of one of the following Mystics: Julian of Norwich, St. Teresa of Avila, St. John of The Cross, Brother Lawrence, Madam Guyon, Richard Foster, Brennan Manning etc.

    That being said beloved, it is only by God’s amazing grace that we are not decieved ourselves. Do we wish anyone to perish? No! So in Love and patience and long suffering, Mike attempts to point out these issues.

    “The Lord’s bond servant must not be quarrelsome, but be kind to all, able to teach, patient when wronged, with gentleness correcting those who are in opposition, if perhaps God may grant them repentance leading to the knowledge of the truth.” 2 Timothy 2:24-25.

    Pray for these young ministers trying pastor in this time of unprecedented deception and delusion. Pray that God will have mercy and compassion on them. Pray that we will not grow cold in our love for each other and that we will continue to long suffer and endure for the sake of the brethren just as Christ did for us. This is the incomprehensible love of our Savior.


  11. Thanks Mike – that’s what I thought – I wonder if they push it so much because when there are doctrinal issues, because you have signed these membership contracts, you are saying you 100% support the leaders/elders – and in reality have no say in pointing out anti-biblical teachings etc! Interesting point (and no, we have never signed a membership contract – it has never sat right with us biblically either!)


  12. Sandra, sadly, that can devolve into that even though the intent may not be malicious at all. I remember the upheaval when the first church I belonged to that went PDC back in the early 1990’s. I had been a Christian only about 5 or 6 years by then, but there were many men who were a lot more mature than me who would not stand for it. They confronted the leadership and were shown the door. They were not allowed to stay in the body and inform the rest of us what their concerns were. I was ignorant of it until I met one of them one day at Wal-Mart and asked why he left. He told me had agreed with our Pastor to not talk with anyone at our church about it. I was so confused!

    Fast-forward to 2005-2006 and now I am the mature believer and my Pastor is taking our church down the PDC path and I recognize it for what it is. Wow, what a difference! I stood firm against it and man what a wall of resistance! It was amazing. I was a Deacon and a Small Group leader and lead a Sunday School Class. All that just went away in a flash. When I left, all that was left was a leadership of a bunch of very young Christians while those of us who were more mature were excluded and we left. It was as if our church was stolen from us.

    That was a SBC church so there was no membership contract. The only thing I ever received from them was letter from the Pastor accusing me of misconduct for not submitting to his authority since I was an ordained Deacon. Since I had walked away from his church in disgust because he had refused to listen to sound Biblical counseling on the PDC heresy that I had given him, I threw his letter away and did not respond. I have encountered some members from that church in our city out and about and they have been friendly, but when they ask for the link to this blog so they can peruse and comment, I never hear from them. Since everything I do here is Biblically based, I have to assume that that has become repugnant to them. Sad, so sad.

    In Christ

    Mike Ratliff


  13. Agreed, so sad! I have a perpetual sore neck from shaking my head at what is happening in our churches across the nations! Here in Ipswich, Australia, the Baptist churches we have been involved with push signing membership contracts – to the point where you are excluded from most forms of ministry unless you have signed it!
    It’s funny (in a twisted way!), but unless the Baptist church we were in hadn’t done the “40 days”, we may still be unaware of the global issues attacking the church. It was as we were reading through the PDL book that we kept coming across names mentioned in a positive light – we began to wonder who they all were – especially when I came across the name of a Catholic mystic monk!

    It was as though the blinkers that had been covering my eyes were removed – and I began to research EVERY name mentioned in the book – and WOW I was shocked! We brought up our findings with the current pastor – whose only comment was that we were the 1% in the church who bothered going into the finer details of the book – and that because most people would just skim over those details (even though they were false teachings) – there was more good than bad – so spit out the bad and keep the good!

    We withdrew for the rest of the 40 days program, and when we returned, they subsequently began wanting leaders to read Hybels/Bell – and now that our eyes had been opened, we quietly withdrew – not ONE person rang to find out where we had gone (and I was a main worship leader – not that that means anything!)

    I now think we should have been more vocal -like we were with the Pressie church we have just left – who have adopted American church growth models of tailoring night services to a “17 year old unchurched male demographic”.
    It still ended up the same though – we couldn’t stay there – and now we visit small local churches, and still haven’t found a church “home”.

    I have been reading comments about the criticism levelled at people like you, Ingrid, and many other faithful believers who are only pointing out what the WORD says…. no, none of us are perfect…we will ALL fall at times… but your dogged stance of preaching the uncompromised Word is needed…

    So again, thank you for your faithfulness as a good steward of the Word.


  14. So, DeYoung is essentially saying that everyone who rejects the “sacramental means” of the Institutional Church is basically guilty of “second-tier mysticism”?


  15. How absolutely aggrevating… Trying to frame those who desire to faithfully follow the Word of God as though we are espousing some sort of esoteric elitism…

    The real irony though is that there is already a mentality of “two-tiered” elitism in the I.C., the unscriptural “clergy/laity” distinction, which I’m assuming DeYoung himself would try and defend as part of the “God-appointed means by which we grow in Christ…”


  16. That’s the way I see it as well Daniel. As I stated in last’s night article, I am reading J.M.’s new book Slave. I just finished the section on John Huss. The R.C. church burned him alive at the stake because he preached that the Papacy held to exactly what you just said. The head of the Church is Christ and all whom He has saved is the Body of Christ. We have local churches with elders and deacons, but that is not the grounds for this institutional rigid church structure that suppliants our Lord’s good doctrines. I have no problem with the means of grace, but this institutional elitism stuff????


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