Cause and Effect


by Mike Ratliff

I have been in a fascinating discussion today with members of our discernment team at CRN. It brought back a lot of memories of those early days of this ministry when those wounds and bruises from the battle at our former church over whether it should go Purpose Driven or not were still very evident along with the inherent resentments over how our supposed brothers and sisters in Christ simply brushed us aside not caring that we left since we would not conform to the PDC takeover. From that I learned much. I became determined to find the smoking gun, the mechanisms behind what makes the PDC paradigm and Rick Warren seem so monolithic and impossible to resist while at the same time, so shallow and unbiblical and able to sidestep nearly every very direct and valid doctrinal issue about his theology, ecclesiology, and epistemology. On these issues, he has been like the “Teflon Don,” able to deflect and seem untouchable no matter how well we show what he says and writes is questionable at best when lined up with Christian doctrine.  Continue reading

Rick Warren and Contemplative Prayer


by Mike Ratliff

And the LORD said to me: “The prophets are prophesying lies in my name. I did not send them, nor did I command them or speak to them. They are prophesying to you a lying vision, worthless divination, and the deceit of their own minds. (Jeremiah 14:14 ESV)

On September 21st, I posted “Is Contemplative Prayer Christian?”. The rest of the discernment team at CRN have been researching and posting on CSM and Contemplative/Centering Prayer or CCP as well. I was listening to an interview on The White Horse Inn the other day done by Michael Horton with Mark Galli who is the senior managing editor of Christianity Today. Most of the interview went well, but right at the end he started talking about Spiritual Formation as if it was something positive. Of course, as he used examples, it was obvious that his understanding of it was nothing like that of someone like Tim Keller whose version is total CSM. I was a bit nonplused I must say because he was so right on with his decrying moral therapeutic deism and the spiritual monstrosities that mega-churches become. Of course, as I thought through that, I think he may have been using the term with a genuine Christian meaning rather than a pseudo-christian meaning like those wolves in sheep’s clothing who are peddling CSM using Christian terminology within it so the gullible will buy into it. Of course, we shall see won’t we?  Continue reading

An Example of a False Teaching


by Mike Ratliff

Προσέχετε ἀπὸ τῶν ψευδοπροφητῶν, οἵτινες ἔρχονται πρὸς ὑμᾶς ἐν ἐνδύμασιν προβάτων, ἔσωθεν δέ εἰσιν λύκοι ἅρπαγες. ἀπὸ τῶν καρπῶν αὐτῶν ἐπιγνώσεσθε αὐτούς. μήτι συλλέγουσιν ἀπὸ ἀκανθῶν σταφυλὰς ἢ ἀπὸ τριβόλων σῦκα; (Matthew 7:15-16 NA27)

Beware of false prophets who come to you in clothing of sheep, but within are ravenous wolves. By their fruits you will know them. Grapes are not gathered from thorns or thistles from figs are they? (a personal translation of Matthew 7:15-16 from the NA27 Greek text)

Looking back at yesterdays post, How can we discern false teachers?, let’s look at a real example. I received in my inbox today a link to a “Tweet” made by Rick Warren:

@RickWarren

Rick Warren

Obedience teaches you more about God than a yr of study.“If u CHOOSE TO DO God’s will, you’ll know my teaching..” Jn.7:17

Here is the actual link to the “tweet:” http://twitter.com/#!/RickWarren/status/101382167078252544

Continue reading

The Aim of Our Charge


by Mike Ratliff

τὸ δὲ τέλος τῆς παραγγελίας ἐστὶν ἀγάπη ἐκ καθαρᾶς καρδίας καὶ συνειδήσεως ἀγαθῆς καὶ πίστεως ἀνυποκρίτου (1 Timothy 1:5 NA27)

But the aim of our charge is love out of a pure heart and a good conscience and faith without hypocrisy. (a personal translation of 1 Timothy 1:5 from the NA27 Greek text)

Before you read this post, if you have not read last night’s post, The Knowledge of God, please do so. It is also imperative that you listen to Chris Rosebrough’s and Phil Johnson’s analysis done to the interview of Rick Warren done by John Piper which I linked to in that post. I have read the posts and articles out there from quite a few well-meaning brothers and sisters in Christ who deeply desire for the controversy or rift resulting from the negative response from many of us who cannot accept Rick Warren’s ecclesiology and his friendship with the world and its ways to be healed. They view the efforts by John Piper to be the very thing to “heal” Rick Warren’s image with us. However, they are overlooking something that a commenter on last night’s blog said very well. He said:

“These “interviews” are meaningless and are usually not an accurate revelation of a person’s unvarnished beliefs. Watch what a person does apart from staged interviews and you will see more accurately, what he believes. What a person does is what he believes; everything else is just religious talk.”

There you go. Compare that with what the Apostle Paul said in the passage I placed at the top of this post. The genuine Christian walks with a heart that contains the love of God and that love flows outward. Our part is to walk in repentance so that our conscience is good. We do that by walking and relating to others by faith and that means without hypocrisy. If a person professes one thing, but his or her actions are quite different then you have a case of hypocrisy. That is our charge against Rick Warren in this case. He can do all the interviews with John Piper he wants. He can say he loves Jonathan Edwards and John Calvin all day, but that changes nothing. If he is not willing to turn from being ashamed of the Gospel and offended by the Cross of Christ and thereby not preaching the Gospel instead of promoting ecumenicism with partnership with Roman Catholic mystics, among countless other things that I do not have the space to go into here, then I will not relent. Continue reading

The Knowledge of God


by Mike Ratliff

ἀπεκρίθη Ἰησοῦς καὶ εἶπεν αὐτῇ· εἰ ᾔδεις τὴν δωρεὰν τοῦ θεοῦ καὶ τίς ἐστιν ὁ λέγων σοι· δός μοι πεῖν, σὺ ἂν ᾔτησας αὐτὸν καὶ ἔδωκεν ἄν σοι ὕδωρ ζῶν. (John 4:10 NA27)

Jesus answered and said to her, “If you knew the gift of God and who is the one saying to you, give me to drink, you would have asked Him and He would have given you living water.” (a personal translation of John 4:10 from the NA27 Greek text)

Yesterday evening, Chris Rosebrough and Phil Johnson got together and analyzed the Rick Warren and John Piper interview. You can listen to that here. I think their analysis is spot on and very valuable to the Church. I listened to this as I have been reading Matthew Mead’s The Almost Christian Discovered, which deals with professing Christians who are deceived into believing they are genuine believers when, in the end, they fail the test and are found to be false. My take on Rick Warren in the interview is that he is obviously a very intelligent man who knows a lot about theology. However, his handling of it reminds me of someone who knows a lot about theology, but not at the level of someone with whom he is constantly comparing himself, Jonathan Edwards. He is great about making lists and coming up with sermonettes, et cetera, but when it comes to actually revealing that he knows the difference between Justification and Sanctification, for instance, he simply blows smoke.  Continue reading

Hypocrisy


by Mike Ratliff

“Beware of practicing your righteousness before other people in order to be seen by them, for then you will have no reward from your Father who is in heaven.” (Matthew 6:1 ESV)

I have taken a few days off to be with family. I am preparing for a trip to visit my son on the East coast next week and will be “off” for about six days or so. In between these two “downtimes” I would like to post a few things that all Christians need to take care to turn from because not only are they “evil,” they are actually markers of a heart that is following hard after the flesh rather than God as a living sacrifice. One of those “markers” is hypocrisy. Our Lord gave us two good examples of this in Matthew 6:1-6 which is part of His Sermon on the Mount.  Continue reading

Rick Warren – Pelagianism – and the Desiring God Conference


by Mike Ratliff

No one can come to me unless the Father who sent me draws him. And I will raise him up on the last day. (John 6:44 ESV)

as it is written: “None is righteous, no, not one; no one understands; no one seeks for God. All have turned aside; together they have become worthless; no one does good, not even one.”  (Romans 3:10-12 ESV)

Pelagianism is a theological theory named after Pelagius who was a theological opponent of Augustine of Hippo. Pelagius and his followers believed that original sin did not taint Human nature and that mortal will is still capable of choosing good or evil without God’s aid. Therefore, Adam’s sin simply set a bad example for his progeny, but this did not impute a “sin nature” to them that the Orthodox view held by Augustine called the doctrine of “Original Sin.”

While most of you reading this would read that definition of Pelagianism and view it as foreign and rightly as not Christian, it is actually the predominate theological position of much of the “seeker movement.” This view holds that man must “do” and “earn” and so “be blessed” by God. It nullifies the Cross of Christ making it just a background piece of the puzzle for show. The emphasis is on the person and what he or she does not on Christ and what He has already done. Continue reading

Moralistic Therapeutic Deism Promotes Self-Righteousness


by Mike Ratliff

The five points of Moralistic Therapeutic Deism as defined by Christian Smith are these:

  1. A God exists who created and orders the world and watches over human life on earth.
  2. God wants people to be good, nice, and fair to each other, as taught in the Bible and by most world religions.
  3. The central goal of life is to be happy and to feel good about oneself.
  4. God does not need to be particularly involved in one’s life except when he is needed to resolve a problem.
  5. Good people go to heaven when they die.

However, this is the basis of the “theology” predominantly preached and taught throughout the “seeker movement” as my friend Lane Chaplin made clear here. I pray that you do follow that link and read Lane’s post from 2008 and also read Christian Smith’s article from The Christian Post, which is also included at the bottom. Continue reading

An Example of Counterfeit Christian Spirituality


by Mike Ratliff

For you have died, and your life is hidden with Christ in God. (Colossians 3:3 ESV)

While I was working today I received an email from my friend Ken Silva pertaining to a recent Tweet by Rick Warren in which he quoted Henri Nouwen. He had written a post about it as well. A copy of the Tweet is below. As Ken makes very clear in his post, Henri Nouwen was a Catholic mystic who practiced what is called today “contemplative spirituality” in order to reach some higher spiritual level. This “hiddenness” that Nouwen was talking about in this quote is not the same thing at all that Paul was speaking of as the Christian’s being hidden with Christ in God as we read in Colossians 3:3 (above.). No, this “hiddenness” is what the mystics try to achieve by seeking to find the “inner self” through their “contemplative spirituality.” When I was in High School and College in the 1960’s, this was called transcendental meditation. It is in no way Christian. So how is it that Rick Warren, who is not alone in this by any means, can blatantly go after Eastern mysticism and still be considered a Christian? Continue reading

The New Life In Christ


by Mike Ratliff

8 For he said, “Surely they are my people, children who will not deal falsely.” And he became their Savior. 9 In all their affliction he was afflicted, and the angel of his presence saved them; in his love and in his pity he redeemed them; he lifted them up and carried them all the days of old. 10 But they rebelled and grieved his Holy Spirit; therefore he turned to be their enemy, and himself fought against them. (Isaiah 63:8-10 ESV)

I have been receiving some interesting emails from friends today which are forwards of Tweets by Rick Warren from the T4G conference. In one it appeared that he was attempting to make it look like those of us who are calling for more discernment in his inclusion in John Piper’s Bible conference this Fall are actually committing the sin of grieving the Holy Spirit. His exact “tweet” was, “Grumbling, Griping,Gloating & Gossiping grieve the Spirit.The GOSPEL is grace-filled.Christ died 4my sins&rose again.” Most of you probably don’t know that I spend a great deal of my time listening to the debates of Dr. James White. This “tweet” is a perfect summary example of the type of logic used by those whom he debates who attempt to skirt the truth with misdirection. A good apologist never uses tactics like this. Instead, we simply focus on the truth. We tell the truth and stand firm right in the middle of it while refusing to allow anyone to skirt around it with his or her ploys of misdirection, ad holmium, and straw men argumentum.  Continue reading

Unity in the Body of Christ


by Mike Ratliff

9 And so, r from the day we heard, s we have not ceased to pray for you, asking that t you may be filled with the knowledge of his will in all u spiritual wisdom and understanding, 10 so as v to walk in a manner worthy of the Lord, w fully pleasing to him, x bearing fruit in every good work and increasing in the knowledge of God. (Colossians 1:9,10 ESV)

In my last post The Temple of the Living God, we looked at the high standard of walking in a manner worthy of the Lord by being separate from the world and those of the world that are mere pretenders as Christian leaders. We tied this to the recent news that John Piper had invited Rick Warren to speak at the 2010 Desiring God Conference in October. I have been in discussion all day today with friends and fellow laborers in this ministry about this. There is a lot of emotion. There is much sadness and disappointment out there about this, but mostly there is a great deal of anger being expressed. Some of the major questions we are dealing with, of course, is how far do we go in preserving unity in the Body of Christ? What is the criterion or standard that we use to not have fellowship with one while overlooking differences in another?  Continue reading

The Temple of the Living God


by Mike Ratliff

You cannot drink the cup of the Lord and the cup of demons. You cannot partake of the table of the Lord and the table of demons. (1 Corinthians 10:21 ESV)

With the utter lack of discernment being exhibited within the visible church in our time, it is as if the condition of the Israelites at the time of the Prophet Amos is upon us. These Covenant people had turned their backs on God and His commands. They were sin-sick and idolatrous, which means they were spiritually blind. When Amos traveled from Judah to the Northern Kingdom of Israel to deliver God’s message to them, he simply gave what God told him to say. What a concept! In Amos 3:3-8 the Lord posed a series of rhetorical question to the people to show them that no matter what they thought or did, He was still sovereign. Certain actions have predictable results. God spoke, therefore, Amos was to speak as the people listened and trembled. That is how it should have been. However, as in our time, when God’s Word is exposited and given to those in error, the response is exactly the opposite. Instead of heeding God’s Word, the people attempt to silence the prophet (Amos 2:12; 7:12, 13) and, therefore, silence God.  Continue reading