by Peter Ditzel
Most scholars date the start of the Protestant Reformation to October 31, 1517, when the Roman Catholic Augustinian monk and priest, Martin Luther (1483–1546) nailed his Ninety-five Theses on the door of All Saints’ Church, often called “Castle Church,” in Wittenberg, Germany. But as the ball of the Reformation got rolling, the importance of the Ninety-five Theses faded in comparison to other fundamental tenets of belief that arose as the central differences between Catholics and Protestants. Five of the central beliefs took expression in what have been called the Five Solas: 1. Sola Scriptura—”By Scripture Alone,” 2. Sola fide—”by faith alone,” 3. Sola gratia—”by grace alone,” 4.Solus Christus or Solo Christo—”Christ alone” or “through Christ alone,” 5. Soli Deo Gloria—”glory to God alone.”
A. The answer to this question is more important than we might at first think. Since at least the time of the Edict of Thessalonica in AD 380, Christendom has ignored with grave consequences Pilate’s inability to charge Jesus with a crime. Today, millions of American Christians also ignore this matter. So, what is the answer to the question, and why is it so vital?
If you and I were hiking along a mountain trail and you were in front of me, and I suddenly yelled out, “Look out!” what would you do? I think you would likely stop dead in your tracks and look around. Then you might see that you were on the edge of a precipice, and that with one more step in the direction you were going, you would have fallen over the cliff to your destruction. So you would probably back away, look around, study the terrain, maybe look at a topographical map, and find a safe path and take that.
by Peter Ditzel
16 December 2015: A tradition that many people have at this time of year is watching Frank Capra’s It’s a Wonderful Life. Capra made the film “to combat a modern trend toward atheism.”1 Individual opinions of the film range from its being the best movie ever made to its being too sappy to endure. I happen to enjoy it—a lot, and so does my whole family. Not only that, but I think it has more depth than many people realize. Some of the central themes of It’s a Wonderful Life are soundly biblical, and they are good lessons for Christians to know and live by. So, I’m going to do something unusual. I’m going to use It’s a Wonderful Life to illustrate some biblical principles.
A. In Part 1, I explained that those who teach infant baptism base their practice on their claim that circumcision and baptism are just two outward signs of the same thing. They say, if infants were circumcised in the Old Testament, they can be baptized now because baptism is the New Testament continuation of circumcision. I pointed out that this is a false assumption because the Bible teaches that spiritual circumcision, not baptism, is the antitype of circumcision. Further, baptism is not an antitype of anything but a sign publicly declaring that God has spiritually circumcised or regenerated the sinner. Now, let’s look at some of the proof texts that infant baptizers use and see how these Scriptures are really no proof for infant baptism at all.
A. In the Old Testament, we read that someone entered the Abrahamic Covenant, and the Old Covenant (Law of Moses) which God temporarily appended to it (Galatians 3:19), by being born into the lineage of Abraham (or by being sold into it) and then being circumcised (Genesis 17:9-12). Many in Christendom today say virtually the same thing in their teachings concerning infant baptism. Essentially, they assert that Christians enter the Covenant by being born into the right lineage (having Christian parents) and then being baptized. They claim that circumcision and baptism are just two outward signs of the same thing. Thus, they say, if infants were circumcised in the Old Testament, they can be baptized now. I’ll explain how this argument is based upon false assumptions and also deflate the proof texts infant baptizers often use to support their case.
A. In Romans 5:18, Paul is comparing the result of Adam’s sin to the result of Jesus’ atonement: “So then as through one trespass, all men were condemned; even so through one act of righteousness, all men were justified to life” (World English Bible, WEB—used throughout unless otherwise noted). This verse is often cited by Universalists to support their belief that all humans will be saved. Certainly, taken by itself, it does indeed sound like Paul is teaching that, because of what Jesus has done, everyone has been justified and will receive eternal life. But is this the conclusion we will reach when we examine the verse in context? What is Paul saying in Romans 5:18?