A. I am sometimes asked to evaluate a specific membership policy or covenant, but the following answer really covers all church covenants and membership policies. First, let’s define our terms. Church covenants and membership policies list certain requirements for membership and/or describe the expected behavior of members. While membership policies might reference a confession or statement of faith as something members are to believe, what I am addressing here are not confessions of faith but policies or covenants that bind the behavior of members.
by Peter Ditzel
An argument I have been given when trying to explain to people that the Bible teaches that women are to wear a head covering in meetings of the ekklēsia (“church” in the King James Version–see the article, “The Head Covering“) is that, if this is true, then we must also wash feet and greet each other with a holy kiss. I have already addressed washing feet in the article “Did Jesus Institute Washing Feet as a Church Ordinance or Ceremony?” In the present article, I intend to show from the Bible why I believe the holy kiss is not an ordinance or tradition God expects Christians to practice and how the instructions Paul and Peter give concerning the holy kiss differ greatly in structure and intent from those Paul gives concerning the head covering.
A. In Matthew 7:16, Jesus says, “Ye shall know them by their fruits. Do men gather grapes of thorns, or figs of thistles?” Although Jesus explains in other passages and also right in the immediate context of this verse what He means by “fruits,” that has not stopped people from interpreting “fruits” in imaginative ways. I’m going to briefly list what some of these imaginative but wrong ideas are and then point out from the context precisely what Jesus means by “fruits.”
Vegetarianism is the practice of excluding meat from the diet. Some vegetarians also exclude other animal products, such as eggs, milk, cheese, rennet, gelatin, and honey. There are a variety of reasons that people have for being vegetarians, including health, cultural, economic, environmental, ethical (opposition to killing animals or objections to the ways in which they are slaughtered), and religious. Vegetarianism is found among many religions, including Christianity. Although what I will say here might possibly have implications for any of the other reasons for practicing vegetarianism, I specifically want to address the question of whether the Bible teaches that Christians should be vegetarians. Is there any biblical evidence that Jesus was a vegetarian? Since Jesus' death ended animal sacrifices, does this mean that Christians should no longer eat meat? Is there evidence in the Bible that God does not intend Christians to be vegetarians?
by Peter Ditzel
Many non-Christians, especially young people, perceive today’s Christians as judgmental and insensitive hypocrites who muster political clout to bash homosexuals and support wars. 1 Absurd statements, false prophecies, and ungodly prejudices spoken by some prominent Christians lead unbelievers to dismiss Christians as unable to contribute to any serious exchange of ideas. The continual drive for more donations by highly visible Christians, while they live extravagant lifestyles, incites the world to see Christian leaders as manipulative scam artists. The media frequently exposes preachers, churches, and ministries involved in questionable and illegal activities and as living scandalous lives.
- “A New Generation Expresses its Skepticism and Frustration with Christianity” and unChristian: What a New Generation Really Thinks About Christianity… and Why it Matters (Grand Rapids, MI: Baker Books, 2007). ↩
by Peter Ditzel
Anyone who is somewhat familiar with Jesus’ teachings knows that He told us not to judge. But the differences of opinion over what He meant by this, as well as the actions of many Christians, reveal that a lot of people are apparently confused about this subject. Did Jesus intend that we never judge anyone on any matter? Was His aim that we not judge our brethren but that we have an obligation to show the world its sins? Did He mean that we should judge moral infractions but not be critical about doctrine? Or did He want us to be discerning over doctrine but soft on morality? In this article, I intend to show from the Bible when/what/who we are to judge and when/what/who we are not to judge. Also, I’ll point out the harm of judging when we are not supposed to.
A. The Scriptures you are asking about are Revelation 2:7, 11, 17, 26; 3:5, 12, 21; and 21:7. Many preachers, radio and television evangelists, and Christian writers utterly misunderstand and misapply these verses to support a false doctrine of works salvation or at least lessen the full scope of Christ’s atonement. Certainly, these verses speak of overcoming. But do they mean that we are to work at overcoming?
by Peter Ditzel
On the fourth Thursday of November, the people of the United States celebrate Thanksgiving Day. Canadians observe a similar day on the second Monday of October. Several other places around the world also celebrate thanksgiving days, and many countries and regions hold harvest festivals, such as Germany’s Oktoberfest.
All of these celebrations give thanks for the harvest, the abundance, the blessings, the good things we enjoy. Certainly, that’s right and good. But the Bible tells us to give thanks for more: “In everything give thanks, for this is the will of God in Christ Jesus towards you” (1 Thessalonians 5:18).
A. It is true that the root cause of human suffering is sin–our own sins and the sins of others (see “Why the Suffering?“). We live in a fallen world. It is also true that God has forgiven the sins of those who trust in His Son, Jesus Christ, as their Savior. God is certainly not punishing the sins of those who trust in His Son because Jesus bore all of the punishment in our stead. But, even though we believers are not of this world, we still live in this fallen world and suffer the effects of it: disease, crime, wars, natural disasters, dishonesty, and so forth, and, finally, physical death.