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?
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.
A. The Shroud of Turin is a 14.3 × 3.7 ft (4.4 × 1.1 m) linen cloth bearing what appears to be the image of a man. The popes of the Roman Catholic Church accept as authentic the claim that the shroud is the cloth wrapped around Jesus Christ at His burial, and that the image was formed at His miraculous resurrection.
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?
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.
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.
by Peter Ditzel
Verily I say unto you, Among them that are born of women there hath not risen a greater than John the Baptist: notwithstanding he that is least in the kingdom of heaven is greater than he.
For I say unto you, Among those that are born of women there is not a greater prophet than John the Baptist: but he that is least in the kingdom of God is greater than he.
The above words of Jesus are puzzled over and wondered about by many. How can John the Baptist be both the greatest and less than the least? To answer this question, we must understand 1) Jesus’ comparison of two births, and 2) who John the Baptist was.
by Peter Ditzel
In the New Testaments of most English Bibles, the words “church” and “churches” appear a total of over one hundred times. (From now on, I will use “church” to stand for both the singular and plural.) With one exception in the King James Version (found in Acts 19:37), all of these instances of “church” are mistranslated from the Greek word ekklēsia. (Unless I am quoting a portion of Greek text, I will use the lexical form ekklēsia.) That’s right, I said mistranslated. Not only that, they are a deliberate mistranslation of ekklēsia. The fact that this mistranslation is so widespread and that it is deliberate should cause us to suspect that it is important to know what ekklēsia really means. In this article, I am going to tell you the origins of the word “church” and its meaning, what ekklēsia means and how it was used in history and the Bible, what Jesus meant by His ekklēsia, why ekklēsia was deliberately mistranslated as “church”, and why all of this is important.
by Peter Ditzel
But Mary stood without at the sepulchre weeping: and as she wept, she stooped down, and looked into the sepulchre, And seeth two angels in white sitting, the one at the head, and the other at the feet, where the body of Jesus had lain.
The Mary in the title and in the Scripture quoted above is Mary Magdalene. Mark and Luke identify her as a woman out of whom Jesus had cast seven demons (Mark 16:9; Luke 8:2). If you know something about the mercy seat, you might know that it was something in the tabernacle, and later in the temple after it was built. Not only that, but it was inside the Holy of Holies or Most Holy Place where only the high priest could go and that only once a year (Hebrews 9:7; Leviticus 16). So why do I in my title place Mary at the mercy seat?