A. I have just read that the Duggar family of Springdale, Arkansas, is expecting its 19th child ( “Arkansas family prepares for baby No. 19” ). In case you don’t already know, the Duggars are headed by Jim Bob (a former Arkansas state legislator who is now a real estate agent) and Michelle. Why this story got me writing is that it reminded me of my promise to write an article about how people can afford to homeschool. You see, the news story points out that the Duggars “feed their entire family on less than $2,000 a month” while living debt free. The article also points out that all of the children are homeschooled. How is this possible?
by Peter Ditzle
The apostle Paul wrote that he marveled that the Christians in Galatia had so soon turned from grace to another gospel, the bondage of legalism. I marvel at how quickly Christian home educators are turning from the freedoms they have won over the past couple of decades back to the bondage of government control. As the patriarch of a family that began homeschooling in the 1980s, perhaps I’ve earned the right to look with a critical eye on younger parents who take for granted their freedom to teach their children 1) at home and 2) without government interference. Keep in mind that there are two freedoms—two birthrights—involved here. Parents who believe they have made a shrewd deal that allows them to retain the first while bargaining away the second for a pottage of textbooks and other “benefits” have indeed been deluded. And make no mistake about it, being deluded necessitates a deluder. In this case, it is the education establishment wielding the bait of government funding.
At a time when giving is reaching all-time lows in the church, ignorance about what is real Christian giving is reaching all-time highs. Surely, this is no coincidence. Not only does this article expose the misinformation we are fed in this area that can actually warp our thinking, but it sheds light on the true, biblical teaching about giving. I sincerely hope that all readers will give prayerful consideration to all this article has to say.
Has anyone ever told you to tithe by giving one-tenth of your income to the church? Or perhaps someone has told you to give to a particular ministry so that God will prosper you. Maybe you were even made to feel that you needed to make up for your sins by giving.
But have you ever stopped to wonder which, if any, of these approaches to giving is the right one for Christians? In this article, we will examine each of these ways of looking at giving to determine whether it is biblical. We will also see whether there is another approach to giving—one that is less popularly promoted. Because it is so commonly taught, we will devote the first section of this article to tithing.
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?
by Peter Ditzel
On this site, I have posted a talk by George M. Ella titled “John Gill and Justification from Eternity.” The talk is of historical interest in showing the position of John Gill on this subject. I want to be clear, however, that I do not agree that justification from eternity as taught by John Gill and defended by Dr. Ella is taught in the Bible. Another defender of this theory is Peter L. Meney, who has written an article called “Ten Arguments for Justification from Eternity” (December/January 2007 New Focus, also available here). The present article also serves as a rebuttal to Mr. Meney, whose article I will occasionally reference, although most references to John Gill’s and George Ella’s arguments also apply to Mr. Meney’s. I also want to make clear here that, in rebutting justification from eternity as taught by Gill and explained by Ella, I am not necessarily defending the people Dr. Ella argues against, such as John Murray and Andrew Fuller. Neither am I condemning Dr. Ella or Mr. Meney. I am, instead, trying to defend what the Scripture teaches. But before discussing Scripture, I want to have a brief philosophical discussion. I hope the reason for this will become apparent.
by Peter Ditzel
I want to make clear that there is no political agenda behind this article. I started planning this article because of a media blitz undertaken by the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-Day Saints (commonly called Mormons) in the United States to try to convince people that Mormons are Christians. Then, before I had even started the article, the news was filled with headlines that Republican presidential candidate Herman Cain took a back-handed swipe at Republican rival Mitt Romney by saying in essence that Romney would not be able to win the southern states because Romney is a Mormon (the implication being that Mormons are not Christians). Then, just as Cain seemed to be backing away from his statements, Robert Jeffress, pastor of First Baptist Church of Dallas, Texas, and a known supporter of Texas Governor Rick Perry, who is also a Republican presidential candidate, made similar headlines. His statements were more direct. He said that Mitt Romney is not a Christian and that Mormonism is a cult. He also said that God will judge America if it elects a Mormon president. Perry then distanced himself from Jeffress and indicated in vague statements that he believed that if Romney says he is a Christian, then he is. Thus, even before I began writing this article, the question of whether Mormonism is Christian became a political issue. But my intention in writing this article is not to deal with a political issue. I am not trying to influence your votes. My concern is not with a presidential election. My concern is that some Christians actually believe that Mormons are fellow Christians. I did not write the title of this article as a question, "Are Mormons Christians?" because I want no misunderstandings. I want to show you statements from websites run by the Mormons and their Brigham Young University (BYU) that, when compared to the Bible, should make a Christian instantly know that Mormons are not Christians.
Suppose John says he is an evolutionist. Rick, who is an evolutionist, says, “Cool, I’ll look into what John says about evolution.” But as Rick looks into the things John has written about his beliefs, he finds that John believes in a literal six-day creation by the God of the Bible, except that John calls this six-day creation, “evolution.” Not only that, but John labels as “false evolutionists” those who believe the commonly accepted understanding of evolution and says they are using “corrupted information.” Rick says, “Hey John, you’re not an evolutionist. You’re a creationist.” John says, “No, I’m an evolutionist.” Rick says, “But you believe in a literal six-day creation.” John says, “No. I call it evolution. So, I’m an evolutionist.” This is a situation similar to what we find in the question of whether Mormons are Christians.
by Peter Ditzel
I want to start this article by saying that I am publishing it to set the record straight about my dealings with Dr. George Ella and his dealings with me. To do this, I am fully disclosing our correspondence. The reason I am doing this is because Dr. Ella has made untrue accusations about me and what I believe. I want to be clear, however, that I am not publishing this article out of personal vendetta or hurt feelings. Dr. Ella’s remarks are not only defamatory to me personally but are potentially damaging to this ministry. They are thus divisive and stumbling blocks or snares (what the King James Version means by “offences”) to those who are seeking the truth. I have nothing against theological discourse where someone accurately represents what I believe and then gives a reasoned response as to why he disagrees. He may even be passionate as long as he sticks to the facts. A reader can then weigh the facts and make his or her own decision. But Dr. Ella has not taken such an approach.
by Peter Ditzel
Do you know that apples and oranges are not the same thing? Sure you do. I’m sure you also know that elephants and crocodiles are not the same. What about light and dark? That’s right, they’re not the same. These are pretty simple concepts. It is amazing, then, that so many preachers have such a gigantic problem with understanding that the law of the Old Covenant and the law of the New Covenant are not the same. The Bible clearly distinguishes the two.
Archibald G. Brown
I have sometimes been asked, “How little can someone believe of the Gospel and still be saved?” My answer is that, with the work of the Holy Spirit, an elect sinner who hears a very basic message can go away knowing much more than he immediately realizes. Certainly, it can be enough to believe and be saved.
“Remember, democracy never lasts long. It soon wastes, exhausts, and murders itself. There is never a democracy that did not commit suicide. It is in vain to say that democracy is less vain, less proud, less selfish, less ambitious, or less avaricious than aristocracy or monarchy. It is not true, in fact, and nowhere appears in history. Those passions are the same in all men, under all forms of simple government, and when unchecked, produce the same effects of fraud, violence, and cruelty.”