Category Archives: Issues

What Is God Doing in This Trouble?

Peter Ditzel

What is God doing in this trouble? This painting of Lot Fleeing from Sodom by Benjamin West shows that God causes calamity.
God not only destroyed Sodom and Gomorrah, as seen here. He is the ultimate cause of all things, including the recent troubles we’ve been experiencing. He said, “I form the light, and create darkness. I make peace, and create calamity. I am the LORD, who does all these things (Isaiah 45:7). Lot Fleeing from Sodom by Benjamin West, 1810.

There’s no escaping the fact that we’ve entered troubled and troubling times. How should we respond to this year’s salvo of calamities and bad news? Christians rightly turn to God and ask whether He’s causing the trials we’ve had this year. If He has, Why? Why is God bringing calamity upon us? What is God doing in this trouble? I don’t claim to be a prophet, but I believe that the Bible gives us some possible answers to these questions.

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A Brief Rebuttal to Churches that Continue to Meet During the Pandemic

Peter Ditzel

Image by rise-a-mui from Pixabay

I have to admit that I’m surprised. I didn’t expect churches would continue to meet as the COVID-19 pandemic spread. But the issue has even grown and become very divisive. I wrote my opinion on the subject here: “Love Your Neighbor in the Coronavirus Pandemic.” Briefly, my position is that, because of the high risk for spreading a deadly contagion, showing love to our neighbor means that we must not meet. We are also to obey the civil authorities (Romans 13:1; Titus 3:1), and these authorities are telling us to stay home. Yet, some pastors stubbornly refuse to close their churches. So, I want to briefly give a rebuttal to the churches that continue to meet during the pandemic.

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Love Your Neighbor in the Coronavirus Pandemic

Peter Ditzel

How not to love your neighbor. A picture of empty meat bins.
Empty meat bins in my local Walmart Supercenter. The shortages we’ve been experiencing aren’t due to a lack of supply. They’re happening because people are buying more than they need and hoarding.

I’m confident that all of you know that, as the born-again children of God, we’re to display the love of God to our brethren, to our neighbors, and even to our enemies. Love should be the hallmark of our lives. That’s beyond question. I don’t need to list the myriad Bible passages that tell us this. But what is questionable is this: During this coronavirus, COVID-19, pandemic—circumstances that most of us have never before encountered—how can we best show love to others? When things change so radically and so quickly, there may be things that we’ve been doing all along that may now be blunders; they may even be harmful. And there may be ways to show love that we wouldn’t normally think of.

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Christian Humanism: Coming Soon to Your Neighborhood Church

Portrait of Erasmus of Rotterdam, 1523. Oil and tempera on wood, National Gallery, London, on loan from Longford Castle. By Hans Holbein the Younger in 1523.
Erasmus of Rotterdam (1466-1536) was an influential Christian humanist. Portrait by Hans Holbein the Younger in 1523.

Peter Ditzel

There’s a good chance that, if Christian humanism isn’t already playing at your neighborhood church, it soon will be. Christian humanism isn’t just one in a long list of heresies that have been bombarding Christianity lately; its doctrines are central to many of the others. Knowing how Christian humanism differs from the true Gospel will help us to root it out and “contend earnestly for the faith which was once for all delivered to the saints” (Jude 3).

We’re probably familiar with the secular brand of humanism for its rejection of God and faith, and its emphasis on finding truth, defining morality, and wanting to build a better world entirely through human effort. Secular humanism is easy to mark as an enemy of the Gospel. But Christian humanism, because it does not outright reject God and faith, makes itself harder to discern. This brands Christian humanism a more dangerous adversary than its secular cousin. But the two are linked.

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Is the Old Testament Wrong?

by Peter Ditzel

A picture of a woman tearing at her Bible with the overlaid words, Should we rip the Old Testament out of our Bibles?
If the Old Testament tells us “An eye for an eye, and a tooth for a tooth,” and Jesus says, “But I tell you, don’t resist him who is evil,” does that mean the Old Testament is wrong? If Christians are under the New Covenant and not the Old, does that mean that we should rip the Old Testament out of our Bibles?

I want to warn you against neo-Marcionism. Some preachers and writers either now promote or are just on the verge of blindly rushing into this dangerous belief. Around the middle of the second century AD, Marcion of Sinope began spreading his belief system that came to be known as Marcionism. One of his central teachings was the claim that the God of the Old Testament couldn’t be the God of the New Testament. The God of the New Testament sent His Son Jesus to be our Savior. The Old Testament God was a legalistic God of retribution. Marcion’s solution to this seeming contradiction was to reject the Old Testament from the Christian canon.

Q. Does God see choosing singleness to be equally as good as marriage?

A picture of a lone man with his head down. A Scripture reads, It is not good for the man to be alone. Genesis 2:18.
Various circumstances may cause some people to not marry and others to lose a spouse. All can live fulfilling, God-glorifying lives. Paul learned to be content in whatever state he was in (Philippians 4:11). So should we all. But are those who teach singlness as a choice that is equal to or even better than marriage going too far?

A. Years ago, if a Christian never married, his or her spiritual brethren might consider it mildly unfortunate, but they usually remained polite enough to stay out of the person’s personal life. Now, however, “celebrating singleness” has become so trendy that many Christian writers and preachers are advocating staying single. Whether someone marries or not is that person’s private business, but false teaching is potentially damaging and ought to be exposed.

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Christianity and Your Self-Esteem

Two contradictory quotes are presented. Oprah Winfrey: Surround yourself with only people who are going to lift you higher. Apostle Paul: Do nothing from selfishness or empty conceit, but with humility of mind regard one another as more important than yourselves; do not merely look out for your own personal interests, but also for the interests of others. Philippians 2:3-4, NASB
Who would you believe?

You’ve heard the precepts: “Only make decisions that support your self-image, self-esteem, and self-worth” (Oprah Winfrey), “Of all things God created, what He is most proud of is me. I am His masterpiece, his most prized possession” (Joel Osteen, part of a self-declaration), “Sin is any act or thought that robs myself or another human being of his or her self-esteem” (Robert H. Schuller). Such thinking is becoming so commonplace that it’s influence can be found practically everywhere from popular magazine articles to public school educational objectives to the pulpits of neighborhood churches. As Christians, we need to determine whether elevating our self-esteem is a valuable part of our Christian lives or whether it is harmful. How does God want us to see ourselves?

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The Growing Threat of Anti-Intellectual Emotionalism, part 2

 

"A picture of a woman sitting praying with her Bible and overlaid with the words, "If anyone loves Me, he will keep My Word.' John 14:23."
If we are to know Jesus, we must know what He has revealed about Himself in His Word. If we love Jesus, we will obey His command to keep His Word.

In part one, we saw that a false belief is taking hold that asserts that we can attain a relationship with Jesus through emotion at the expense of learning about Him through a study of God’s written Word. Now let’s see how such a notion leaves us with no knowledge of God and Christ and deludes us into accepting a god of our own creation as the true Creator.

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The Growing Threat of Anti-Intellectual Emotionalism, part 1

"Two juxtaposed memes: First meme: Devious-looking woman with pink hair saying, 'Jesus isn't someone to study. Jesus is someone to know.' Second meme: Peter Falk/Columbo holding up a finger and saying, 'Let me get this straight. I'm supposed to know Jesus without studying who He is and what He said?'"
Those who claim to know Jesus without knowing the statements by and about Him in the Bible cannot really know Him. Jesus said, “I am…the truth” (John 14:6) and “Your word is truth” (John 17:17). To know Jesus, we must know and believe what the Bible says about Him. Any assertion contrary to this is mysticism.

From the seminaries, the pulpits, electronic media, and the pages of some of Christendom’s most popular writers, the siren song of an alluring message blares forth. Its simple and seductive philosophy, carried on the air of its confident maxims, deceives much of the public into accepting it as a more palatable Christianity than the faith once delivered to the saints.

This siren song is the sound of anti-theological, anti-intellectual emotionalism. You’ve no doubt heard some of its claims: “the Spirit is what is important,” “Jesus has to be discovered through relationship,” “we must stick with the simplicity that is in Christ,” “knowledge doesn’t save us,” “head knowledge is not enough,” “don’t forget that knowledge puffs up,” and so on. All of these assertions contain some truth, and that is what makes them all the more hazardous. When we go fishing, we hope the fish will swallow what is partially real food and partially deadly hook. As believers, we must insure that we don’t get fooled by the bait. To succeed, we must exercise our senses to discern good and evil (Hebrews 5:14). So, let’s examine some of these ideas.

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Why I Won’t Be Signing the Nashville Statement

On August 29, 2017, the Council on Biblical Manhood and Womanhood (CBMW) issued the Nashville Statement. You can read it on their site here or in this PDF version. The initial signatories include many prominent leaders from Christian Conservatism/American Evangelicalism. According to its preamble, it was written “in the hope of serving Christ’s church and witnessing publicly to the good purposes of God for human sexuality revealed in Christian Scripture.” Thus, CBMW wrote the statement not just to the Christian community who would, hopefully, understand it in the context of the Gospel and, in fact, all Scripture. It was also written to the public at large, which we must assume is not well-versed in Scripture and internal Christian jargon.

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