All posts by Peter Ditzel

How Many Religions Are There?

by Peter Ditzel

Map of the Prevailing World Religions

Click Map for Larger View*

According to the World Christian Encyclopedia: A Comparative Survey of Churches and Religions in the Modern World, 19 major religions share the earth (not always peacefully, of course). A closer look shows these further subdivided into 270 large religious groups with many smaller ones. This source identifies 34,000 separate Christian groups. Other experts might differ on the exact numbers, but the point is that most people would say that this planet sports a great many religions. But is that really true? I mean, if you were to distill these religions down to their basic essence, how many would you really wind up with? Or, to put it another way, if you can sift 19 religions into 270 by examining their finer points, can you go in the reverse direction and aggregate them into a smaller number? What if I were to tell you that, when it comes right down to it, the people of this world can be divided into only two religions? That’s right, I’m making the claim that when we use the most basic component of a belief system as our criteria, we will find that only two religions exist on the earth and that all of the other divisions arise merely because of details. Sound crazy? Let’s see.

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The Hebraic Roots Movement

by Peter Ditzel

Readers are increasingly asking me questions about a set of doctrines called Hebraic Roots. In recent years, Hebraic Roots teachings have invaded many churches and even some seminaries. There are even Hebraic Roots Bibles and a Hebraic Roots Network. Because this trend appears to be growing in numbers and adherents, we should know something about it. It would be too much to explore all of the teachings of this movement in one article, and, to complicate matters, there are some variations in belief from one specific Hebraic Roots group to another. What I would like to do is briefly examine a few of the core beliefs of this movement and compare them to Scripture.

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Hell: Should We Keep Quiet About It?

by Peter Ditzel

Laurel and Hardy making shush faces
Is it better to not talk about hell?

The thinking I want to address in this article is this: There are some people who profess Christianity who say that it doesn’t matter whether hell is real or not, the doctrine of hell is an unnecessary teaching that can be dispensed with, and, in fact, speaking of hell as a reality is harmful to the furtherance of Christianity. Their reasoning goes like this: Since (whether we believe in a literal hell or not) we would all agree that Christians are not going to hell, therefore Christians don’t need to hear anything about hell. They may as well just forget about it. Further, since many non-Christians refuse to believe in a God so cruel that He would condemn people who do not trust in Jesus Christ as their Savior to eternal torment in hell, then it would be better if we also stop talking to them about hell. In other words, we would get more people saved if we dropped hell from our vocabulary. Thus, why don’t we just stop talking about hell altogether? This sounds reasonable to many people. Is this sound thinking? Does the Bible support it? Is there a flaw somewhere?

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Does God Promise Healing Today?

by Peter Ditzel

Many Christians suffer from various illnesses and injuries or have loved ones who do. Understandably, they wonder whether God still heals today. As we know, the Bible is full of accounts of healings. Many of them were spectacular, and the authorities of the day investigated some of them. In John 9 and in Acts 4:16, for example, the authorities never denied that the healing had occurred, they just took the stupid position of trying to cover it up. But does God still heal today? Or, to get right down to the heart of the controversy, does God promise physical healing to believers?

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Why Christians Believe in the Trinity

by Peter Ditzel

So that we know what we are talking about, let’s begin with a definition. A basic formulation of the Trinity doctrine is, God is a Trinity of three Persons—the Father, the Son, and the Holy Spirit, and these three are one God, the same in substance, equal in power and glory. Many who teach against the Trinity misunderstand this formula. They make a wrong assumption about what is meant by God being a Trinity of three Persons. They assume this to be tritheism, a belief in three gods. What is meant by “Person” in speaking of the Trinity is that which has the attributes of personality. It comes from the Latin word persona. In the ancient world, actors wore masks. The actor’s mask was his persona. It showed the role he was playing. In the discussion of the Trinity, “Person” never means “person” as we commonly use it today; that is, it never means a free and independent consciousness with his own will. Nevertheless, it does mean that the Persons have an I-you relationship: as I will point out in the Scriptures cited in this article, they communicate with each other.

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A Refutation of Open Theism–The God Who Doesn’t Know–Part 2

In Part 1, I defined open theism, examined its history, included some statements made by its adherents, and started examining Scriptures used by open theists to support their view. In this concluding article, I finish examining the Scriptures and end with the dangers of open theism.

Jonah 3: Open theists likewise cite the case of Jonah. In Jonah 3:2, God tells Jonah, “Arise, go to Nineveh, that great city, and preach to it the message that I give you.” What was the message? We read in verse 4, “Jonah began to enter into the city a day’s journey, and he cried out, and said, ‘Yet forty days, and Nineveh shall be overthrown!'” And the beginning of verse 5 tells us, “The people of Nineveh believed God.” So, what did they do? God says they will be overthrown and they believe Him. Did they say, Oh well, there’s nothing we can do about it? No. They understood that what God said was intended to get them to repent. So, “they proclaimed a fast, and put on sackcloth, from their greatest even to their least.” And the king issued a proclamation for a fast, ending with the statement, “Who knows whether God will not turn and relent, and turn away from his fierce anger, so that we might not perish?” (verse 9). Verse 10 says, “God saw their works, that they turned from their evil way. God relented of the disaster which he said he would do to them, and he didn’t do it.”

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A Refutation of Open Theism–The God Who Doesn’t Know–Part 1

by Peter Ditzel

Any view that minimizes or reduces God’s “God-ness,” including his
absolute sovereignty over his creation, appeals directly, though subtly, to our sinful hearts.

Scott Oliphint, “Most Moved Mediator,” Themelios 30 (2004): 39

There’s a pretty good chance you’ve never heard of open theism. On the other hand, there’s a very good chance that you’ve been exposed to, and possibly even influenced by, its teachings. And those teachings can be dangerous to your spiritual health. If you get nothing else out of this article, I want you to know that open theism lowers God in order to raise man. It is essentially a man-centered religion dressed in semi-Christian garb.

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Hezekiah’s Trust in the Sun of Righteousness

by Peter Ditzel

In 2 Kings 18, we read that the forces of Sennacherib (which means “Sin [the name of Assyria’s moon god] sends many brothers”), the king of Assyria, came up against Judah. The Assyrian king demanded tribute, which Hezekiah (meaning, “Jehovah is my strength”), king of Judah, gave him, but the scoundrel wanted more. He sent a delegation, headed by Rabshakeh (not really a name but a position meaning “chief cupbearer”).

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