Unable to See the Forest For the Trees

by Mike Ratliff

6 And He said to them, “Rightly did Isaiah prophesy of you hypocrites, as it is written:
8 Neglecting the commandment of God, you hold to the tradition of men.” Mark 7:6-8 (NASB) 

About 15 years ago before my old church in Kansas was taken over by the 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.

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 that works for Brian McLaren, 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 the late Ken Silva at CRN. There was a group of people at a site called CRN.info that dedicated themselves to shutting us down. Ken and I talked about this quite a bit 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. Over time I had to block several of their emails because they used 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.  I have encountered that quite a bit and it has always 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!

4 thoughts on “Unable to See the Forest For the Trees

  1. Thank you Mike for this message, as well as the previous 4-5 that seemed to reveal a lot of your soul. Thank you for sharing your ‘Walk” through some of these difficulties from which we who want to be faithful to our Lord and Savior can learn some valuable lessons to help prepare us for the coming testings. I had a look at at your link to “Doctrine of Unity and Separation”. 👍
    Currently in my own small world there is an individual who has attacked me in a couple of texts because I walked away from him during a heated discussion wherein he was trying to convince me and another brother about the wonders of the Book of Enoch which has really messed him up. He believes he has special revelation and is trying to “enlighten” the rest of our group of about a dozen men who gather for weekly Bible Study. I had previously told him I have no interest in this book (especially when I see how messed up he got by it). He got quite angry. This was a couple of years ago. His latest attack however was vicious and denigrated the entire group about 3 weeks ago. I’ve been unable to attend our meetings due to some health issues (non covid). I have been praying for wisdom as to whether to pass on this evil text to the two co-leaders or not. The personal attack I can handle, but the attack on the rest of the group is unacceptable. I think the leadership should be made aware of it. My hesitation though is that the vicious text was sent to me personally. Am I betraying a trust?
    What are your thoughts?


  2. Sometimes that may be necessary. You should always remain truthful and if this person continues to be hostile then you should tell the leadership of your group about it and why you think this person is doing what he is doing. The book of Enoch is considered by some people to be “Torah.” I was following a group online who were investigating those “lost books of the Torah.” It was very interesting. That is, it was interesting for a while. We know that Scripture never contradicts itself. We know that there is an Old Covenant and a New Covenant. When these fellows got into the book of Enoch they got weird and I quit listening to them. You know that Paul wrote the book of Galatians about how Christians do not have to obey the Mosaic or Temple Law, right? Well these guys just seemed to forget all that and started saying that we have to become Sabbath keepers and that those who don’t aren’t true believers. It was at that point I quit following them. I don’t know if that is what your friend was doing, but it wouldn’t surprise me. In any case I would be glad to discuss it with you.


  3. Hi Mike. Here’s something that may help as a corrective for uncharitable words and deeds, and as a way to overcome them without getting pulled into fruitless battles. Knowledge (including false or erroneous “knowledge”) puffs up; charity builds up.


    John Ryan

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