All posts by Peter Ditzel

Q. Can you recommend a church in my area?

A.This is certainly one of the most common questions I receive. I suppose it comes from questioners who have come to see that there is a discrepancy between what they see in their Bibles and what they see in the local churches they have attended. Years ago, I used to try to find churches in the person’s area that taught sovereign grace and, if I could find one, also taught New Covenant Theology. For reasons I will explain, I no longer do this. But I do have a recommendation for those who are looking for a church.

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Are there accountability partners in the Bible? Do pastors rule? Authority and Accountability in the Bible

by Peter Ditzel

I used to do some freelance editing for a man who ran a Christian publishing, Internet, and speaking ministry. A few years before his death, he found that he was unable to, in good conscience, continue his membership in the church of which he had been a member and elder. Soon afterward, “Christian” forums had threads about him that went something like this: “Did you hear that so-and-so is no longer under the accountability of a church?” “What? Do you mean that he’s not under a church covering?” “This is outrageous! How can he continue his ministry while being unfaithful?” “Well, all I know is that as long as he’s not under the authority of a church, I’m not listening to him any more.”

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Are You Meeting in God’s House?

by Peter Ditzel

It is common to hear people refer to the building in which the church meets as God’s House or the Lord’s House or something similar. Probably you have heard it: “It’s good to see you in God’s House today,” “We should be in the Lord’s House every Sunday.” Sometimes a loose reference is made to Scripture, such as Psalm 122:1: “Let us go into the house of the LORD.”

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Q. Are church covenants and membership policies biblical?

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.

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Are Christians to Greet Each Other with a Holy Kiss?

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.

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Q. What is the fruit by which we are to know people? (Matthew 7:16)

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.”

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Q. Was Jesus a vegetarian? Should Christians be vegetarians? Since Jesus’ death ended animal sacrifices, doesn’t this mean that Christians should no longer eat meat?

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?

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You Are the Light of the World

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.

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Notes:

  1. 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).

Judge Not

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.

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