A Response to Mike Ratliff


Mike Ratliff has posted a very interesting article on his blog that I would have loved to comment on but considering recent events I thought it would be wiser to post my comment on my blog rather then his. The title of the post “ Shall the Sword Devour Forever” speaks about how we should judge one another by doctrine alone and leave character assassinations out of apologetics and discernment. (source)


Hi Mike,


You said;


About three years ago, I wrote a Bible study called Judge Not! As I dealt with these issues on the Internet these last few weeks, this study kept coming to mind. In it, I went through our Lord’s teaching on this from His Sermon on the Mount. We are told to “judge not lest ye be judged.” This is not talking about using discernment to work with the Holy Spirit to deal with ministries that are out of line with God’s truth. No, this is talking about attacking others in an attempt to make them lower than us. We do this by trying to bring them down through attacks on their character. When we do this then we are no longer being apologists for God’s Truth, but are simply working from a motive of pride that is opening us up to judgment. I hope I am not the only who has noticed how ineffective character assassination is in this battle. All it does is cause God’s judgment to fall on the one doing it. Oh, the naïve my indeed believe the lies or innuendo, but no one is fooling God. We may very well be “right” in going after someone and their ministries, but if we do so through character assassination then we nullify any good we have or could have done.



So what would you say about this article? Would you say Ken Silva dealt with doctrine or assassinated Richard Abanes character?




The definition of character assassination is;



A vicious personal verbal attack, especially one intended to destroy or damage a public figure’s reputation.


Would you say the above Apprising Ministries article fits this definition Mike? Please correct me if I’m wrong but where in the AM article does it ever discuss Richard’s doctrinal views?


If this is a character assassination then will God’s judgment fall on Ken Silva as he is the one who has done so? Will it then fall on others who assisted in the character assassination of Richard Abanes? Perhaps this is what’s occurring now?


If Ken Silva’s article was indeed a character assassination then there are plenty of people out there who you would consider “naive”, perhaps maybe even you Mike?


You know what I consider naive Mike? Claiming that we aren’t to judge other Christians on their character. 1 Corinthians 5 explicitly tells us that Paul;


  1. Publicly named sin (verse 1)

  2. Judged with righteous judgment (verse 3)

  3. Pronounced judgment of the open sin (verse 5)


The rest of the chapter is interesting reading as well if you’re so inclined to do so.


I suppose there are some within the Corinthian community that felt like Paul was assassinating the character of the man who was shacking up with his step mother. It had nothing to do with doctrine Mike. Paul was merely pointing out the open unrepentant sin of a professing believer.


You have also stated;


“This is not talking about using discernment to work with the Holy Spirit to deal with ministries that are out of line with God’s truth. No, this is talking about attacking others in an attempt to make them lower than us. We do this by trying to bring them down through attacks on their character.


What are the requirements of an overseer Mike? Paul lays it out clearly for us;


1 Timothy 3:1-7 NKJV


This is a faithful saying: If a man desires the position of a bishop, he desires a good work. A bishop then must be blameless, the husband of one wife, temperate, sober-minded, of good behavior, hospitable, able to teach; not given to wine, not violent, not greedy for money, but gentle, not quarrelsome, not covetous; one who rules his own house well, having his children in submission with all reverence (for if a man does not know how to rule his own house, how will he take care of the church of God?); not a novice, lest being puffed up with pride he fall into the same condemnation as the devil. Moreover he must have a good testimony among those who are outside, lest he fall into reproach and the snare of the devil.


Let’s see;


Blameless…..has to do with character

Husband of one wife….has to do with character


Temperate……has to do with character


Sober minded…..character


Good behavior…..character


Of Good behavior…..character




Not given to wine….character


Not violent….character


I could go on but I think you get my point.


The majority of the above requirements have nothing to do with doctrine yet has EVERYTHING to do with character. To say that doctrine alone is to be our measuring stick when examining ministries would be a terribly wrong interpretation of Scripture Mike.


Pointing out sin, especially the open unrepentant sin of those holding positions of leadership is biblical Mike. Overseers and leaders are judged to a stricter standard and probably one reason James 3:1 is there in the first place. I’ll add it for you so you won’t have to look it up;


My brethren, let not many of you become teachers, knowing that we shall receive a stricter judgment.


Thanks and God Bless,















6 thoughts on “A Response to Mike Ratliff

  1. Well said Phil,

    You cannot separate character from doctine. Character is the expression of doctrine.

    What difference does your doctrine make if you have poor character?

  2. Thank you, Phil. FYI…

    – I will always be more than happy to discuss any of my doctrinal views with anyone.

    – I will always be happy to put my doctrinal views under the searchlight of scripture.

    Dr. Walter Martin, whom Ken Silva claims was his “mentor” (a false claim, btw), would have it no other way.

    This is the very point I was seeking to make last year:

    1. that article had crossed the line between legitimate doctrinal critique and slander/libel regarding: my personal/professional integrity; the validity of my spirituality and faith; and my ethics/morality (i.e., it was deliberately created to harm my public reputation as a Christian author).

    2. that article, because of its content, had violated his TOS agreement with his Internet Service Provider (IPOWER) — and IPOWER agreed with me when I complained to IPOWER.

    And this was stated publicly by an administrator over at crosswalk.com forums: “In my opinion, a person does the right thing when he/she reports what is perceived to be a violation of our rules so that the situation can be reviewed and the appropriate action taken.” (The full statement of that administrator is at: http://abanes.com/KS_Admin_Forums.html

    Even a staunch critic of Rick Warren—-who disagrees vehemently with not only Rick Warren, but also my support of Rick Warren—-reviewed that article by Silva and ended up concluding:

    “For the record, I like Ken Silva, Ingrid Schlueter, and many other ODMs that are online. I stand vehemently opposed to the purpose-driven programs and ideology that you support. I know that you and I are perhaps diametrically opposed on many things in evangelicalism.

    But you know what? You were right for what you did. I took your challenge of finding anything resembling an argument of your doctrinal and theological positions in that article, and could not find anything substantive.

    And, the more time I took in reading it and looking for evidence, the more I found myself agreeing with you that the article bordered on being slanderous. The points that you listed for why you chose to contact the ISP and requested the article be removed made sense to me”

    Finally, I think it should be pointed out that the 2005 critiques I wrote on Ken Silva (the very ones that he quotes and discusses in his so-called “response” articles against me) have not been online since 2005!

    The obvious question is: If those articles he is using as the bases of his critical attacks against me are no longer even online (and haven’t been for four years), then why are his “responses” to those long-dead articles still up on the Internet?

    No one seems to be asking this question of Silva. I can only wonder: Why?

    Richard Abanes

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