All posts by Peter Ditzel

The Cure for Discouragement

by Peter Ditzel

We’ve probably all experienced the discouragement that comes with self-recrimination. We do something wrong and then stew in feelings of guilt. “I’m so nasty,” “I’m always doing the wrong thing,” “How can God love me?” We respond by either thinking we’re a hopeless cause or by setting our will to do better next time. Either way, the entire scenario is carnal rather than spiritual, but it’s understandable.

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Bread and Circuses

by Peter Ditzel

breadandcircuses
Fast food and electronics are some of today’s “bread and circuses”

Sometime around A.D. 100, a Roman satirical poet known as Juvenal wrote, “the People…anxiously hopes for just two things: bread and circuses [Latin–panem et circenses].” His point was that the government was pacifying the Roman populace and distracting them from important issues by giving them free or cheap food and entertaining them with spectacles. It seems to be basic to human nature that if our bellies are full and we have entertainment put before our eyes, we will become distracted from anything important and fall into a stupor of apathy.

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Don’t Be Afraid

by Peter Ditzel

23 June 2013: The news on any random day is enough to raise hair on a lizard: a war in the Ukraine, the threat of yet another war in the Middle East, disease outbreaks that might mushroom into pandemics, what seems to be a new shooting rampage every week, possible weather chaos from climate change, the epidemics of diabetes and dementia, and the list goes on. And then there is the personal news we might be confronted with at any time, such as a friend being diagnosed with cancer, someone’s husband killed in a car accident, and a child dying of a congenital heart defect. Faced with such reports, we can find ourselves becoming anxious, fearful for the world, fearful for our friends, alarmed that one or more of these terrors may come upon us personally.

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Q. What determines whether someone is elect or reprobate?

A. Many good, Bible-believing Christians would answer this question with one word: “Nothing.” Their reasoning would be that, because election is unconditional, then nothing determines whether someone is elect or reprobate. But the answer is not so simple. What determines whether an animal is a squirrel or a turtle? Certainly, no choice the animal made determines its species, and no works the animals does makes it either a squirrel or a turtle. So, being a squirrel or a turtle is unconditional as far as the animal is concerned. Yet, we would have to agree that something determines whether it is a squirrel or a turtle, something that is outside of the control of the animal. So, can election be both unconditional and determined by something?

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A Bible Study About Pride

by Peter Ditzel

All human beings naturally have pride. Both adults and children have pride. But you might be surprised to know that in all 49 places in the King James Version of the Bible, pride is never mentioned as being a good thing. The Bible always treats pride as being bad. Throughout the Old and New Testaments, there are several words that are translated as “pride,” but, whichever word it is translated from, pride is always considered a bad thing.

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Did Mary Have Other Children?

by Peter Ditzel

All of us are probably aware that the Catholic and Orthodox churches believe and teach that Jesus was the only child born to Mary. In 411, Augustine wrote that Mary, “remained a virgin in conceiving her Son, a virgin in giving birth to him, a virgin in carrying him, a virgin in nursing him at her breast, always a virgin” (Sermons 186, 1: PL 38, 999 as quoted in paragraph 510 of the Catechism of the Catholic Church). We might also know that many Anglicans believe this. But we might be surprised that some Protestants believe this. In fact, Martin Luther, Huldrych (or Ulrich) Zwingli, Heinrich Bullinger, and John Calvin all believed it. In his Commentary on Matthew, Calvin even called anyone who disagreed “pigheaded and fatuous.” Perhaps even more surprising is that the eminent Baptist theologian, John Gill, regularly waffled on this subject, seeming to believe it by comments he made, but never, as far as I know, making a clear statement committing himself to it. Is there clear, biblical proof one way or the other?

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Q. The Catholic Church accuses that the doctrine of sola scriptura, or the Bible alone, makes every person his own pope. How do you answer this?

A. This is a false accusation. The Roman Catholic Church teaches that only the pope and the bishops in communion with him–referred to as “the Magisterium of the Church”–can authentically interpret the Word of God. The pope in Rome does not look to Scripture alone for his personal understanding as he is led by God through the Holy Spirit. Instead, the pope looks to Scripture and church tradition, along with his belief in his own infallibility, to make decisions that he then imposes on millions of other people.

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Q. Are you a Nestorian? By saying that Mary is not the mother of God, are you not guilty of separating the two natures of Jesus?

A. The above questions are the essence of an email I recently received from a Roman Catholic. Referring to my article, “Was Mary the Mother of God?” this man said, among many other things, “I smell the stench of Nestorianism!” and “I hope you will recant of the heresy of denying that Mary truly is the Mother of our Lord, the Mother of God.” Because the remainder of his email is relatively level-headed and well-argued, and because his position represents the general position of the Catholic Church, I have decided to reproduce below my answer to him.

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