All posts by Peter Ditzel

The Dangers of the Christian Personality Cult (part 2)

by Peter Ditzel

A quote of 1 John 4:1: Beloved, don't believe every spirit, but test the spirits, whether they are of God, because many false prophets have gone out into the world.
Testing involves comparing what someone says to the known revelation of God, the Bible. No one, whatever superstar status he or she may have in the eyes of the world, is above this testing.

(<Part 1)

Test the Spirits

When the people of Berea heard even Paul and Silas preach, they “received the word with all readiness of the mind,” they didn’t just reject it without first hearing it, but they also examined “the Scriptures daily to see whether these things were so” (Acts 17:10-11). For even such prominent speakers, the Bible does not berate the Bereans for comparing what was said with Scripture.

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Our Better Covenant

A quote from luke 22:20: This cup is the new covenant in my blood, which is poured out for you.
If the the cup of wine pictures the New Covenant and the wine pictures Jesus’ blood and the life is in the blood (Leviticus 17:11), what is the New Covenant?

The writer of Hebrews, after quoting from Jeremiah’s announcement of the New Covenant that appears in Jeremiah 31, states, “In that he says, ‘A new covenant,’ he has made the first old. But that which is becoming old and grows aged is near to vanishing away” (Hebrews 8:13). Despite this, most Dispensationalists assert that the New Covenant has not yet come into effect and is not for Gentile believers anyway. Covenant Theologians hold that the New Covenant is merely a new administration of the Old Covenant and, thus, the Old Covenant has never really ended. Others, who don’t fall into either of these two camps, concede that believers are under the New Covenant, but maintain that what they call “the moral laws” of the Old Covenant still have authority over Christians. Who’s right? Does it matter? Can a wrong understanding of the covenants actually be harmful?

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Wise as Serpents, and Harmless as Doves


A person in Baltimore, Maryland, shouting in protest of Donald Trump's election as President of the United States.
This protestor in Baltimore, Maryland, on 10 November, was one of many who took to the streets of American cities after Donald Trump was elected President of the United States in a victory that surprised pollsters and mainstream media.

16 Nov. 2016: The United States has now come through one of the most rancorous presidential election campaigns in history. Unfortunately, the candidates weren’t the only ones exchanging acrimonious remarks. Their followers—if not in person, then online—also became guilty of spitting venom at each other and spreading disinformation. Sadly, some of these people styled themselves as Christians. If these things happened during the campaigning, what will happen when one of the most controversial Presidents ever elected takes office? Christians may find themselves confused over when and how to respond to situations that may arise. At this time, in this article, I want to address some general principles Jesus and His apostles gave us for responding to times of turmoil and civil unrest.

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The Dangers of the Christian Personality Cult (part 1)

by Peter Ditzel

A picture of Joel Osteen speaking at Lakewood Church in Houston, Texas.
Joel Osteen at Lakewood Church in Houston, Texas. This megachurch that Osteen pastors boasts the largest congregation in the United States with about 52,000 attendees per week.

The world loves celebrities, stars, heroes, and superheroes. Although the production of superhero live-action films, animations, and television series constitutes a multi-billion dollar industry, we’re not satisfied with purely fictional heroes. We also take movie stars, television personalities, musicians, authors, chefs, medical professionals, even scientists, philosophers, and religious gurus of various beliefs, and we turn them into idols. We even have the various Idol and Idol-type shows around the globe in which we look for more idols. Given this penchant for elevating mere humans to larger-than-life status, it shouldn’t be surprising that we then apply our desire for idols to Christian speakers and writers.

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The Refugee Question: Answered by Christian Mercy or the Sword of the State?

by Peter Ditzel

A stained-glass rendering of the Parable of the Good Samaritan and a statue of a sword-wielding king.
A stained-glass rendering of the Parable of the Good Samaritan and a statue of a sword-wielding king show the dichotomy between the responsibilites of Christians and the responsibilites of kings. Stained glass: Church of Saint-Eutrope in Clermont-Ferrand (Puy-de-Dôme, France). Statue: Ninth-century King Svatopluk I of Moravia. Ján Kulich, sculptor. Peter Zelizňák, photographer.

There’s been an unfortunate mix-up. It’s happened because a lot of people, non-Christians as well as (very unfortunately) Christians, have not properly applied certain Scriptures that apply to two very different realms. In some of these Scriptures, Jesus Christ gives commands to His followers. Other Scriptures express God’s expectations for civil government. So, we have the followers of Jesus, and we have civil government. You might think it would be easy to keep these two distinct. But that’s not what’s happened. They keep getting confused.

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Comments on Luther’s “How Christians Should Regard Moses”

by Peter Ditzel

Either before or after you read these comments, you will want to read "'How Christians Should Regard Moses," a sermon by Martin Luther.

This article is an attachment to Martin Luther’s “How Christians Should Regard Moses.” I trust you have read that sermon or will soon read it. I have several points I want to make about Luther’s sermon.

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Are We Sanctified by Works or by Grace? (part 2)

by Peter Ditzel

A quote of Hebrews 13:12: Therefore Jesus also, that he might sanctify the people through his own blood, suffered outside of the gate.
If Jesus completed our sanctification, what role can our works have? Wouldn’t trying to add our works to our Savior’s blood be insolence?

Progressive Sanctification, View One: Grace Plus Works or Cooperation

In this view, grace and works are usually seen as more or less balanced. Theologian Wayne Grudem is one representative of this view. He believes that sanctification is “a work in which God and man cooperate each playing distinct roles” (“Sanctification (by Wayne Grudem)“). Although admitting that an “initial moral change is the first stage in sanctification” (ibid.), he says “this moral change is actually a part of regeneration [but] we can also see it as the first stage in sanctification” (ibid.). His emphasis is largely on progressive sanctification. He writes, “Sanctification is a progressive work of God and man that makes us more and more free from sin and like Christ in our actual lives” (ibid.). To Grudem, sanctification is not just a work of God; it is a work of God and man.

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Are We Sanctified by Works or by Grace? (part 1)

by Peter Ditzel

A quote of 1 Corinthians 1:30: But of him, you are in Christ Jesus, who was made to us wisdom from God, and righteousness and sanctification, and redemption.

What is the relationship between Jesus being made our sanctification and the works Bible teachers often tell us we must do for our sanctification?

 

Why does the Bible seem to teach sanctification by works in some places and by grace in others? Do the writers of the New Testament contradict each other, or are we sanctified by both works and grace? Or, perhaps the Bible gives an answer to the sanctification puzzle that we don’t often hear about.

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Herbert Armstrong and the Crucifixion–3 Days + 3 Nights = 1 False Doctrine

by Peter Ditzel

Is knowing the precise number of hours Jesus Christ’s dead body lay in the tomb of any great significance? Worldwide Church of God (WCG) founder Herbert W. Armstrong (1892–1986) would have had you believe it is. The WCG published The Resurrection Was Not on Sunday[1] and The Crucifixion Was Not on Friday.[2] Both of these booklets—the first written by Armstrong and the second by Armstrong’s disciple, Herman L. Hoeh (1928–2004)—cover this subject.

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