Christmas bells mixed with the real thing

File:Christmas bells.png - Wikimedia Commons

By Spencer D Gear PhD

What foolishness or funnies should we expect at Christmastime? Christmas should have nothing to do with jingle bells, Christmas lights, Santa and the sleighs. How did they seep into this holy celebration?

According to history.com, the legend of Santa Claus dates back to about the third century when Saint Nicholas walked the earth. He was the patron saint of children. The shopping mall Santas were promoted by two New Yorkers, Clement Clark Moore and Thomas Nast. They had the major influences on the Santa Claus theory that millions of children anticipate on Christmas Eve.

Bells were a popular form of communication in the Middle Ages (AD 475-1400) and were usually rung from the largest building in the city, which was usually a church. The reason was to communicate a time of the day when an important person arrived or an important announcement was made. They were used to indicate the beginning and end of various events.

Ignorance of nativity

Baby Jesus In Manger Clipart - Clipart library(courtesy Clipart Library)

Recently, I went to the entrance of a leading department store and asked to be directed to a department where I might purchase a small nativity scene. The woman looked bewildered, “What do you want?” I had to explain that nativity referred to birth, and especially the birth of Jesus Christ. A non-Christian friend responded: “You should have expected that. We are not a Christian country but a secular nation.” Is that so?

The Australian Constitution’s introduction

What does the Preamble of the Australian Constitution state?

The Oxford English Dictionary asks: “What a truly great mystery is the Nativity of our Lord!

The introduction (preamble) of the Australian Constitution reads:

An Act to constitute the Commonwealth of Australia

[9th July 1900]

WHEREAS the people of New South Wales, Victoria, South Australia, Queensland, and Tasmania, humbly relying on the blessing of Almighty God, have agreed to unite in one indissoluble Federal Commonwealth under the Crown of the United Kingdom of Great Britain and Ireland, and under the Constitution hereby established. . . .

This introduction is part of the Act and demonstrates Australia is a nation built on a Christian foundation that seeks the blessing of the God Almighty (revealed in the Scriptures of Old and New Testaments).

We still are in severe drought in many parts of Australia. We must not be embarrassed to talk about the Lord God sending the rain after the drought we are still experiencing in some parts of the nation. After all, Australia’s Christian foundation is demonstrated each day when the President of the House of Representatives reads a Christian prayer. Christian values brought to Australia by the First Fleet and enshrined in the Australian Constitution include: ‘Humbly relying on the blessing of Almighty God’.

The real Christmas event

This is related to the commemoration of the birth of Jesus Christ on the first Christmas Day. The Scriptures record the Nativity scenes in Matthew 1-2 and Luke 1-2. While there are some differences in the records, there are some points in common.

The basic narrative is that Mary and Joseph travelled from Nazareth to Bethlehem. There they found no room for them in the inn, so the baby Jesus, when born, was placed in a manger. Such a humble birth was celebrated by choirs of angels and shepherds. Gifts were brought by the Magi. This version appears in Christmas carols and stable scenes. They are used for Christian liturgical readings during the Christmas season.

The manger is not like a baby’s crib (basket) today but was a “long trough from which horses and cattle fed” (Oxford English Dictionary). What a humble beginning for the birth of the Saviour! He died in similar circumstances where there was no exaltation but a humble, excruciating death by crucifixion.

Don’t miss the truth for the glitter!

God sends the rain and withholds it.

RainbowJeremiah the prophet warned Israel of the consequences of not serving God and seeking Him to send rain:

Foreign idols don’t have the power to bring rain.
The sky does not have the power to send down showers of rain.
You, the Lord our God, are our only hope.
You are the one who made all these things (Jeremiah 14:22 (ERV).

What should we learn from this verse? No foreign gods, including secularism of any sort, have the power to bring rain. No meteorologist (in spite of satellite technology to see the clouds) can cause the rain to fall.

There’s a similar message proclaimed for all people according to this New Testament passage:

But I tell you, love your enemies and pray for those who persecute you, that you may be children of your Father in heaven. He causes his sun to rise on the evil and the good, and sends rain on the righteous and the unrighteous (Matt 5:44-45 NIV).

DroughtWe know who sends the rain and it’s time for the Australian media, politicians and ordinary folks to own up: “We do know that Almighty God sends the rain but we are not prepared to bow down to His laws.” Therefore, the more we pursue secular values, the more droughts, floods, and other disasters we can expect to come from the hand of God who showed what he could do with drought and floods.

See my articles:

clip_image002Australia is in deep trouble: Droughts, floods and fires

clip_image002[1]Get to the heart of the BIG drought, fires and floods

clip_image002[2]Who can break the drought?

clip_image002[3]Dams needed. Who sends the rain?

The great hymns of the faith have been sung by people as varied as George Beverly Shea and Elvis Presley.

Copyright © 2021 Spencer D. Gear. This document last updated at Date: 06 November 2021.

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Criticizing the Rude and Disrespectful

Never Respond To Rudeness

(image courtesy Timfly)

By Spencer D Gear PhD

I have failed miserably in personally dealing with this topic. Too often I have been angry towards the person who is rude and disrespectful.

Which rude behavior am I addressing? I am speaking of a person “not being polite; offensive or embarrassing” (Cambridge Dictionary 2021. “rude”) This dictionary gave these examples:

  • He’s a very rude man.
  • It’s rude not to say “Thank you” when you are given something.
  • He’s got no manners – he’s rude to everyone.
  • He shouted a collection of rude words at me and stormed off.

I live in Australia where swear words have become part of normal vocabulary. Nevertheless, how does one deal with rude and disrespectful words and action?

My normal approach

I customarily have said to the person, “Excuse me. That’s an unkind way to speak to me.” I consider I should add these elements:

· “Excuse me. That’s unkind language. Would you mind dropping out the “b” and “f” words entirely? At least that lets the person know I don’t appreciate the language. Even if he or she doesn’t change, at least he or she knows I would like them to change the language.

The Golden Rule

This is how I should treat others, even though I know I won’t do it perfectly: “So in everything, do to others what you would have them do to you, for this sums up the Law and the Prophets” (Matt 7:12 NIV). Luke’s version is: “Do to others as you would have them do to you” (Luke 6:31 NIV).

With the Lord’s help, that’s the easier part of the dynamic. Christian actions are part of the sanctification process.

The harder part: How to confront the rude.

Titania Paige wrote:

Dealing with rude people is something we all have to do. In the heat of the moment, when you’re about to “go hulk” on a perpetrator, it can be painstakingly difficult to react in a God glorifying way. Dealing with rude people is no longer a singular, face-to-face interaction either. No,no,no. You’ve got your: “rude-in-person-rude people;” “rude-on-social-media-rude people;” “rude-on-a-text-rude-people;” “rude-behind-your-back-rude-people.” The lists goes on and on my friend.[1]

Titania presented six principles:

1. Don’t take it personally.

She cited Prov 29:11 (NLT): “Fools vent their anger, but the wise quietly hold it back.”

When someone is being rude to you, remember that 99.9% of the time what is really bothering the agitator has nothing to do with you. Usually, the rude fellow is venting about something else, is in pain, or is generally just a rude person. The offender’s rude behavior does not reflect anything negative about you, rather it is a reflection of him or her. Keep in mind, that you yourself have said things to others or about others that were rude at some point.[2]

2. Don’t fuel the flame.

Proverbs 15:1 (NIV) exhorts believers: “A gentle answer turns away wrath, but a harsh word stirs up anger.”

When someone says something rude to you, maybe your first reaction is to deal with them on sight. I know mine is. You’re ready to hit them with something hard: words or fists, whichever comes first. (I’m not picky when I’m angry.) Solomon is speaking the truth here when he says, “a harsh word stirs up wrath.” As far as it depends on us, we are to live at peace with others. (Rom 12:8 ESV).[3]

3. Show them grace.

But to you who are willing to listen, I say, love your enemies! Do good to those who hate you” Luke 6:27 (NLT). This is probably the last word we want to hear from God when somebody is being disrespectful to us. Notice how this response is radically different from what comes naturally. Grace leads to a gracious, loving, caring response.

4. Be patient & humble.

Whether I like it or not, I also have been rude and disrespectful to others. I have a bad habit of becoming angry, especially when another lies about a situation. I did this with a pastor who lied from the pulpit about James Arminius and his view on total depravity. The pastor, a TULIP Calvinist, preached that Arminius did not believe in total depravity. I got angry with the pastor after the service as Arminius did believe in total depravity. How I responded was ungodly, even though the pastor’s content was wrong.

5. Forgive.

“Judge not, and you will not be judged; condemn not, and you will not be condemned; forgive, and you will be forgiven” (Luke 6:37 NIV).

Don’t change the standard for forgiveness when it comes to others. You want to be forgiven when you’re rude, right? Again, we never really know the circumstances of the people we run into, and what makes rude people do the things they do. But we do know that we ourselves have been shown grace by Christ and have been forgiven. That at least should motivate us to forgive others and choose grace over bitterness and revenge every time.[4]

This article by Titania is full of gems of biblical wisdom. This is another example.

6. Pray for Humility.

When you pray to God for humility, you shouldn’t act surprised when he puts you in trying and humiliating situations. Being a secretary in general has taught me so much about humility and how to react when confronted with rude stereotypes and behaviors. In the beginning, I just felt angry and embarrassed when I felt disrespected, but those times have helped me see that I have a tendency to care more about “saving face” than seeing others saved through my witness as a Christian.

Don’t let your pride cause you to displease the Lord. Don’t be ruled by your emotions. You can forgive and bare with rude people because you have been forgiven.[5]

It seems to me that a Christian response to the rude and disrespectful includes the fruit of the Spirit (Gal 5:22-23 ERV): “But the fruit that the Spirit produces in a person’s life is love, joy, peace, patience, kindness, goodness, faithfulness, gentleness, and self-control. There is no law against these kinds of things.”

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(image courtesy needpix.com)

Notes


[1] “How to Deal with Rude People,” Blessed Transgressions, October 20, 2016, accessed 12 October 2021, https://blessedtransgressions.org/how-to-deal-with-rude-people/.

[2] Ibid.

[3] Ibid.

[4] Ibid.

[5] Ibid.

Copyright © 2021 Spencer D. Gear. This document last updated at Date: 12 October 2021.

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What is good news in a bad news world?

By Spencer D Gear PhD

After the Christchurch NZ massacre of 50 Muslims at Friday prayers on 15 March 2019 and about 50 injured, doesn’t it sound ridiculous to speak of:

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(image courtesy 123RF)

Sadly, there are things much more disastrous than terrorists in action. I mean that. Most Aussies and other people in the world don’t understand the . . .

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(image courtesy dreamstime)

What could be worse than this? Could I be talking about this Australian situation?

However, what are Australian governments doing?

(abortion image courtesy http://100abortionphotos.com/#23)clip_image005

This is a very bad situation, a horror that Australian governments at State and Federal levels are perpetrating.

What could be worse than this abortion? I put it to you that this condition I’m speaking about is far worse than any of the above and it leads to abortion, euthanasia, crime, violence, terrorism, and a glut of other evils.

Where does it come from?

It leads to this kind of warning:

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(image courtesy openclipart.org)

Jeremiah 17:9 (NET) tells us about the source of the problem: “The human mind is more deceitful than anything else. It is incurably bad.[1] Who can understand it?”

A deceitful human mind for all people is the bad news. It infects everything we think about, say or do. In New Testament terms, it is described as, “for all have sinned and fall short of the glory of God” (Rom 3:23 NET). Further,

So what benefit[2] did you then reap[3] from those things that you are now ashamed of? For the end of those things is death. But now, freed[4] from sin and enslaved to God, you have your benefit[5] leading to sanctification, and the end is eternal life. For the payoff[6] of sin is death, but the gift of God is eternal life in Christ Jesus our Lord (Rom 6:21-23 NET).

The effects of this internal sin and then outward actions lead to death but this death does not relate only to the stopping of breathing.

The effects of sin

They are eternal. “For the payoff (wages)[7] of sin is death, but the gift of God is eternal life in Christ Jesus our Lord” (Rom 6:23 NET).

The bad news is so serious because of its eternal consequences. The good news is positive because of its eternal benefits: “The one who believes in the Son has eternal life. The one who rejects[8] the Son will not see life, but God’s wrath[9] remains[10] on him” (John 3:36 NET).

For how long will the unbeliever experience damnation? “And these will depart into eternal punishment, but the righteous into eternal life”[11] (Matt 25:46 NET).

The length of time for punishment for the unbeliever is the same as life for the believer. Which path will you travel for eternal life or eternal damnation? “If you have no desire[12] to worship[13] the LORD, then choose today whom you will worship” (Josh 24:15 NET).

It is the sin within human beings that contaminates

It is the wrongdoing, sinful nature within every human being that drives him or her to do wrong, whether that is stealing from the neighbour, killing unborn children in abortion, or committing adultery.

There is only one solution and that is through a changed heart and mind. I know of only one way to change your and my heart and mind. That’s through a changed relationship with God, brought about through repentance and faith in Jesus Christ. He and He alone can change the human heart to want to pursue God.


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Detail from Michelangelo’s The Last Judgment, Sistine Chapel (courtesy Wikipedia)

Notes


[1] “Or “incurably deceitful”; Heb “It is incurable.” For the word “deceitful” compare the usage of the verb in Gen 27:36 and a related noun in 2 Kgs 10:19. For the adjective “incurable” compare the usage in Jer 15:18. It is most commonly used with reference to wounds or of pain. In Jer 17:16 it is used metaphorically for a “woeful day” (i.e., day of irreparable devastation).sn The background for this verse is Deut 29:18-19 (29:17-18 HT) and Deut 30:17.”

[2] Grk “fruit.”

[3]Grk “have,” in a tense emphasizing their customary condition in the past.’

[4] ‘The two aorist participles translated “freed” and “enslaved” are causal in force; their full force is something like “But now, since you have become freed from sin and since you have become enslaved to God….”

[5] Grk “fruit.”

[6] ‘A figurative extension of ??????? (ops?nion), which refers to a soldier’s pay or wages. Here it refers to the end result of an activity, seen as something one receives back in return. In this case the activity is sin, and the translation “payoff” captures this thought. See also L&N 89.42.’

[7] ‘A figurative extension of ??????? (ops?nion), which refers to a soldier’s pay or wages. Here it refers to the end result of an activity, seen as something one receives back in return. In this case the activity is sin, and the translation “payoff” captures this thought. See also L&N 89.42.’

[8] Or “refuses to believe,” or “disobeys.”

[9] Or “anger because of evil,” or “punishment.”

[10] Or “resides.”

[11] ‘Here the ultimate destination of the righteous is eternal life. In several places Matthew uses “life” or “eternal life” in proximity with “the kingdom of heaven” or merely “the kingdom,” suggesting a close relationship between the two concepts (compare Matt 25:34 with v. 46; Matt 19:16, 17, 29 with vv. 23, 24). Matthew consistently portrays “eternal life” as something a person enters in the world to come, whereas the Gospel of John sees “eternal life” as beginning in the present and continuing into the future (cf. John 5:24).’

[12]Heb “if it is bad in your eyes.”’

[13] Or “to serve.”

Copyright © 2021 Spencer D. Gear. This document last updated at Date: 12 October 2021.

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Calling for Christians to care

By Spencer D Gear PhD

This will be a very personal article. It will be 5 years on 30 November 2021 since my wife of 48.5 years announced in front of my 3 children and me that she was leaving me. I had loved her for over 50 years.

She committed adultery with the pastor of the church we attended. That was followed by marrying him. She sought my forgiveness for a “short-term physical relationship” she had with him. She did not call it adultery. Of course, I granted her forgiveness.

Seven weeks later she passed away from leukaemia. We knew the leukaemia was coming eventually after battling polycythemia rubra vera for 28 years. It is a type of blood cancer.

clip_image002(image courtesy Wikipedia)

There was not a single person in the church – including elders – who visited with me to bring comfort. Two marriages were wrecked (although the pastor’s marriage was rocky at the time of adultery); two families were devastated.

Churches that do not care

The church was negatively impacted to the point where it has since closed and the members have dispersed to other churches in the region.

I was hurting deeply, but not one person from the church visited. There was no counsel or comfort from the elders of the church. I’m left to conclude, “Church people don’t care or don’t want to become involved in my life.”

Now I’m in another church but the elders have a similar disinterest in caring for me in my hurts.

What I’ve learned

What has my divorce taught me?

clip_image003 There were personal issues (like my anger) that I handled badly.

clip_image003[1] I have been sexually impotent since age 55 and could not take Viagra because of my severe heart condition. I’ve since spoken with my heart surgeon and his view was that Viagra, taken in small regulated doses, could have helped me.

clip_image003[2] There’s a Billy Graham rule I broke (my paraphrase): “Never leave your wife alone with another man.” Since I have a severe heart condition, I could not walk or run with my wife, so I encouraged her to do this with the pastor. She also was an outstanding pianist who spent the closing years of her life learning jazz and played with him as he played clarinet, flute or saxophone. They played in a jazz band. She spent too many hours alone with him playing music.

clip_image003[3] I’m not convinced churches know how to comfort the separated and divorced.

How to help with caring

Scripture gives clear examples of how to extend compassion to those in need:

  • “Rejoice with those who rejoice, weep with those who weep” (Rom 12:15 NET).

There are practical applications here for pastoral care. When someone is happy, rejoice with them. If someone has reason to weep, join with them in providing empathy. I would have appreciated people visiting with me and staying for short periods to weep with me by putting an arm around my shoulder. I remember feeling deep depression to the point of sending my children an email about the songs I want sung at my funeral. I had a visit from a relative who chastised me about doing that.

He didn’t know how to put his arm around my shoulder, pull me close to him, and comfort with speaking words of compassion. I don’t think he knew what to do. I wouldn’t have committed suicide but I sure felt that nobody understood.

  • “He comforts us every time we have trouble so that when others have trouble, we can comfort them with the same comfort God gives us” (2 Cor 1:4 ERV).

This was an important verse for me. I had to be comforted by God Himself who would prepare me to comfort others.

  • “Whoever does not love does not know God, because God is love” (1 John 4:8 NIV).

What I’ve been through was an opportunity for the local Christian believers to love me. It would be a demonstration of love to have Christians bring me meals that I enjoy and give comfort when I wept.

It has taken 5 years to be able to write like this. I never believed the closing years of my wife’s life and my life would be so impacted by a failed marriage. I’ve had one visit from a former elder at the original church. There has been no follow-up care for me.

This may sound egocentric to you but it’s not. I’ve been hurting so deeply I’m only now able to write about the break-up and divorce. One of the shockers was what the new husband said in the obituary at the funeral: “We are ashamed of what we did” and his new wife was in the coffin.

He has not been anywhere near me to seek forgiveness.

A Christian couple has ministered extensively to me in my sorrow. I bless the Lord for them and pray more such people will be found in the churches.

 

Copyright © 2021 Spencer D. Gear. This document last updated at Date: 10 October 2021.

Book Review: Christians, The Urgent Case for Jesus in our World, Greg Sheridan (Crows Nest, NSW: Allen & Unwin, 2021)

Greg Sheridan AO

Sheridan interviewing the Thai Prime Minister Abhisit Vejjajiva, June 2010

Sheridan interviewing the Thai Prime Minister Abhisit Vejjajiva, June 2010 (image courtesy Wikipedia)

By Spencer D Gear PhD

Read the recommendations at the front of this book and you’ll get a view of the ecumenical nature of it for Christians. They range from evangelical, Protestant Anglican, John Dickson (author of A Hell of a Life) to Chris Uhlmann, Channel 9 political editor and newspaper columnist, to Peter Comensoli, Catholic Archbishop of Melbourne.

Greg Sheridan, The Australian‘s foreign editor, is one of the nation’s most influential national security commentators, who is active across television and radio and also writes extensively on culture.

The first half was promising

In this half, Sheridan writes for a general Christian audience – “about the compelling, dramatic, gripping characters you meet in the New Testament” (p. 1). Then at the beginning of chapter 5 one epilogue is from Mother Teresa, “Never travel faster than your guardian angel can fly.” An Essential Poll in Australia in 2017 found “about 40 per cent of Australians believe in angels, which sounds about right” (p. 132).

Sheridan let us know his position: “I certainly believe in Angels. We Catholics have a sacrament called Confirmation, which confers on the recipient the gifts of the Holy Spirit” (p. 134). “Angels are our friends. Surely—surely—we need all the help we can get” (p. 146).

The second half lost its power

An epilogue at the beginning of ch 6 by Larry Siedentop states, “It is hardly too much to say that Paul invented Christianity as a religion” (p. 147). Sheridan has blinkers on to place this kind of statement at the opening of a chapter. There would not be a conversion of Saul on the Road to Damascus without what happened on Golgotha:

Saul was still breathing out murderous threats against the Lord’s disciples. He went to the high priest 2 and asked him for letters to the synagogues in Damascus, so that if he found any there who belonged to the Way, whether men or women, he might take them as prisoners to Jerusalem. 3 As he neared Damascus on his journey, suddenly a light from heaven flashed around him. 4 He fell to the ground and heard a voice say to him, “Saul, Saul, why do you persecute me?”

5 “Who are you, Lord?” Saul asked.

“I am Jesus, whom you are persecuting,” he replied. 6 “Now get up and go into the city, and you will be told what you must do” (Acts 9:1-5 NIV).

Saul was persecuting “the Lord’s disciples,” so Christian disciples were present. “Who are you, Lord?. . . I am Jesus.” Sheridan is flatly wrong. The start of Christianity emerged because of Christ’s death on the cross.

Meet Gemma

Greg Sheridan told of Gemma’s unlikely helper in Tanzania at the School of St Jude. “That helper is St Jude, the Apostle, the patron saint of desperate situations and hopeless causes. . . . When she asks St Jude to help her, she is not asking him to exercise any independent, magical power. She is asking him to pray to God on her behalf, in a normal expression of what Christians call communion of saints” (p. 215).

This is not a biblical view but a Roman Catholic perspective of praying to the saints. It has no biblical warrant. This is how the Roman Catholic Church explains this practice:

One charge made against it is that the saints in heaven cannot even hear our prayers, making it useless to ask for their intercession. But as Scripture indicates, those in heaven are aware of the prayers of those on earth. This can be seen, for example, in Revelation 5:8, where John depicts the saints in heaven offering our prayers to God under the form of “golden bowls full of incense, which are the prayers of the saints.” But if the saints in heaven are offering our prayers to God, then they must be aware of our prayers (“Praying to the Saints”).

So, Roman Catholics don’t pray to the saints. The teaching is that they can ask the saints to pray for them. Nowhere have I found anything in the Bible that instructs Christians to pray to the saints, or to get the saints to pray for them.

We are to approach God directly. That’s the teaching of both the Old and New Testaments: “Let us then approach God’s throne of grace with confidence, so that we may receive mercy and find grace to help us in our time of need” (Heb 4:16 NIV). To whom should Christians pray? “Listen to my prayer, O God, do not ignore my plea” (Ps 55:1 NIV). Therefore, it is false teaching to pray to the saints when Scripture instructs us to pray to God.

Australian Christians in Parliament

Sheridan is rather provocative in this statement – which is his judgement:

I have never met an Australian Christian politician I would say is not sincerely trying to live out their ideals and implement policies for the good—from Penny Wong on the left of the Labor Party to Andrew Hastie on the conservative side of the Liberal Party. It’s legitimate for a politician to think: these policies are the best way I can give effect to my Christian principles; it’s entirely wrong, except in extreme cases, for them to say, only this policy is a Christian policy, or, if you don’t follow my policy, you’re breaching Christian teachings (p. 241).

I find that to be too simplistic and anti-biblical. There are principles in government that are based on biblical foundations and those that are quibbling over a Christian base, don’t know the Scriptures.

It’s legitimate to say a homosexual marriage is anti-biblical. Romans 1:26-27 (NIV) states:

Because of this [the sinful desires of their hearts to sexual impurity for the degrading of their bodies with one another], God gave them over to shameful lusts. Even their women exchanged natural sexual relations for unnatural ones. In the same way the men also abandoned natural relations with women and were inflamed with lust for one another. Men committed shameful acts with other men, and received in themselves the due penalty for their error.

Sheridan doesn’t want to make a judgement about which Christian principles are for the good. God has done it for him in Rom 1:26-27 but he doesn’t want to accept it. Acts 5:29 gives another principle: ‘Peter and the other apostles replied: “We must obey God rather than human beings!”’ (Acts 5:29)

Sheridan’s book is splendidly written by an experienced journalist. For me, it began with great promise but ended with anti-biblical compromise. It’s a promoter of ecumenism, i.e. generic Christianity, that dilutes the cutting edge of Christianity to get rid of the specific Gospel penetrating qualities.

If you have a high view of biblical authority and believe in the Gospel – as I do as a Protestant evangelical – don’t recommend this book. Its sub-heading is: “The urgent case for Jesus in our world.” Which Jesus? I’m convinced Sheridan promotes a compromised Jesus, which I can’t support under any circumstances.

 

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(image courtesy Allen & Unwin, Book Publishers)

Copyright © 2021 Spencer D. Gear. This document last updated at Date: 10 October 2021.

Is climate change true or a hoax?

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Photo courtesy ABC News: Hundreds of students defied school warnings to attend a rally at Peregian Beach on the Sunshine Coast. (ABC News: Megan Kinninment)[1]

By Spencer D Gear PhD

Study shows school children influence parents on climate change:[2]

There were 50 rallies planned across Australia for students to protest against what they see as the destruction of their future.

My ears pricked when I read and heard the news that school students left their classrooms for the streets and beaches to protest climate change on 15 March 2019. That’s when I began writing this article.

Who is driving the climate change agenda around the nation? Are teachers in the classroom advocates for this position or are children and youth motivated by their parents and peers? Or, is the Australian Labor Party and the Greens’ agenda so powerful that it’s influencing people, right down to children and youth?

It was estimated that 20,000 people in Melbourne rallied outside parliament house.

What is the natural breakdown of gases in the earth’s atmosphere?

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(image courtesy The Engineering ToolBox)

So, the majority of our dry atmosphere is made up of two main gases: Nitrogen (79%) and Oxygen (21%) with a very small percentage of other gases (ca 1%).

1. What is climate change or global warming?

‘Climate change’ and ‘global warming’ are used in this article as synonyms.

This is the Australian Government (Department of the Environment and Energy’s) explanation:

1.1  Understanding climate change

Our climate is changing. Observed changes over the 20th century include increases in global average air and ocean temperature, rising global sea levels, long-term sustained widespread reduction of snow and ice cover, and changes in atmospheric and ocean circulation and regional weather patterns, which influence seasonal rainfall conditions.?

These changes are caused by extra heat in the climate system due to the addition of greenhouse gases to the atmosphere. The additional greenhouse gases are primarily input by human activities such as the burning of fossil fuels (coal, oil, and natural gas), agriculture, and land clearing. These activities increase the amount of heat-trapping greenhouse gases in the atmosphere. The pattern of observed changes in the climate system is consistent with an increased greenhouse effect. Other climatic influences like volcanoes, the sun and natural variability cannot alone explain the timing and extent of the observed changes.

The science behind climate change is supported by extensive scientific research performed and reported across the world. Past and present climate information is collected from observations and measurements of our environment, including trapped air in ice from thousands of years ago. Climate models are used to understand the causes of climate change and to project changes into the future.

Many of the impacts of climate change pose risks to human and natural systems, in the form of more frequent and severe heat waves, coastal inundation due to sea level rise, disruptions to rainfall patterns and other effects. Analyses of a range of climate scenarios indicate the most severe risks of climate change can largely be mitigated if carbon dioxide emissions are reduced to the point where carbon dioxide is no longer accumulating in the atmosphere.[3]

It is signed, sealed and delivered according to the Australian government.

Is it true that ‘the science behind climate change is supported by extensive scientific research performed and reported across the world’?[4]

The CSIRO in Australia claims:

The international scientific community accepts that increases in greenhouse gases due to human activity have been the dominant cause of observed global warming since the mid-20th century. Continued emissions of greenhouse gases will cause further warming and changes in all components of the climate system.[5]

This sounds reasonable and plausible. Are there any substantive objections to this analysis?

Shock jock and prominent radio commentator, Alan Jones, formerly of radio 2GB Sydney told a small group in 2012 in Melbourne,

“The notion of global warming is a hoax,” Jones told a group of about 150 people on the steps of the Victorian Parliament. ”This is witchcraft. Commonsense will tell you it’s rubbish; 97 per cent of all carbon dioxide occurs naturally . . . 3 per cent around the world is created by human beings.”[6]

He now works as a commentator for Sky News. Campbell Newman told Jones:

Debate over climate policy is heating up ahead of the COP26[7] Climate Change Conference in Glasgow, with pressure building on Australia to commit to a net-zero by 2050 target.[8]

“People are hell-bent on doing this,” Mr Newman said.

“What will we see? We’ll see the rural sector in Australia decimated … we’ll also see importantly the coal and the fossil fuel producing parts of our economy and our regions decimated.

“They absolutely do not know the extent of the economic carnage they’ll create.”[9]

This target will decimate coal mining and gas mining industries and communities.

clip_image006(sulphur hexafluoride molecule,[10] courtesy Wikipedia)

2. Is it true or fake as demonstrated by science?

NASA Global Climate Change: Vital Signs of the Planet[11] provided this graph to demonstrate the warming of the planet from 1880-2018:

clip_image008In interpreting this data, NASA makes what seems to be a reasonable assessment:

Multiple studies published in peer-reviewed scientific journals show that 97 percent or more of actively publishing climate scientists agree: Climate-warming trends over the past century are extremely likely due to human activities. In addition, most of the leading scientific organizations worldwide have issued public statements endorsing this position. The following is a partial list of these organizations, along with links to their published statements and a selection of related resources.[12]

Starting on 31 October 2021 there is an important event for the climate change promoters:

The 2021 UN Climate Change Conference, to be held in Glasgow from October 31 to November 12 this year, is a talk-fest designed to pressure countries like Australia to close down the fossil-fuel industries that provide most of the country’s electricity, oil and gas to stop “climate change”.

Within the broad conference is a more specialised meeting, the 26th meeting of the Conference of the Parties (COP26) of the Inter­govern­mental Panel on Climate Change. The longer name has been abbreviated to COP26, in the shorthand beloved by bureaucrats the world over.[13]

This article highlights:

The price of electricity and gas . . . has risen dramatically with the closure of coal-fired power stations in each state.[14]

2.1 Climate change for novices

I admit I’m a novice at trying to understand this science. For those of us who are not climatologists or scientists, this topic may be daunting and confusing. My exposure to the mass media and policies of political parties shows that climate change is pushed regularly. It seems to be a Greens’ Party mantra. These are only a few pro-climate change articles but there are many more:

clip_image010Bill Shorten treads gently with careful climate change plan’ (The Canberra Times, 1 April 2019).

clip_image010[1]Serious concerns”: New study reveals how heatwave hit Shark Bay dolphins hard’ (The Sydney Morning Herald, 2 April 2019)

clip_image010[2]The Coalition has painted itself into a fiscal corner, just like it has on climate change(ABC News, Brisbane Qld, 6 April 2019).

clip_image010[3]What are major parties’ climate change policies?’ (news.com.au, 2 April 2019)

These three major news’ sources (The Canberra Times and The Sydney Morning Herald are part of the Fairfax organisation) report as if climate change is an accepted fact.

Is it so or not?

See also,

clip_image011What happened to the climate change election?

clip_image011[1]Australian election could have global climate change impact

clip_image011[2]Election 2019: What happened to the climate change vote we heard about?

2.2 Policies of Australian political parties

As I wrote this (23 April 2019), we were in the midst of campaigning for a federal election to be held on Saturday, 18 May 2019. Climate change or global warming is the mantra for the Labor Party and the Greens’ Party. These are their policies:

2.2.1 The Labor Party

Part of its policy is:

Consistent with our obligations under Paris of keeping global warming to well-below two degrees above pre-industrial levels, and informed by independent Climate Change Authority advice, Labor is committed to reducing Australia’s pollution by 45 percent on 2005 levels by 2030, and to reach net zero pollution by 2050. . . .

Making Australia a Renewable Energy Superpower by ensuring that 50 per cent of the nation’s electricity is sourced from renewable energy by 2030, and empowering households and businesses to take advantage of cheap, clean renewable energy and storage.[15]

There are many more details in this policy, but that sample gives a peep into Labor’s support of global warming and that is obvious in its 2019 marketing for the election.

2.2.2 The Greens

Part of its vision is:

Our future is too important to leave up to the fossil fuel lobby and the major party politicians they’ve bought. The Greens have a plan, based on the science, to rapidly transition our economy to renewable energy and end political donations from mining companies. Without the big polluters holding us back, we can create the infrastructure and jobs needed to drive a cleaner, modern economy.

The Labor and Liberal parties will try to convince you that we can only have cheaper energy bills or renewable power. Don’t believe them: we can have both.[16]

It’s obvious The Greens see the only way to address climate change is to get rid of fossil fuel and invest in renewable energy sources.

2.2.3 The Liberal Party

On the LP website was this video by Professor Ivar Giaever, 1973 Nobel Laureate in physics, who said that “Global warming is pseudoscience.” He ‘trashes the global warming/climate change/extreme weather pseudoscientific clap-trap and tells Obama he is “Dead Wrong”’. Hear what he said here.

“Global warming expert Don Easterbrook, a professor of geology at Western Washington University, says that the planet is actually getting cooler. Easterbrook recently spoke in Chicago at the 4th International Conference on Climate Change.”

2.2.4 The National Party

The policy of the federal National Party regarding global warming is:

Meeting the challenges of climate change

We need to meet the challenges of a changing climate in a sensible way that protects our natural environment and sustainability but doesn’t throw out our way of life, local jobs and industries.

Through investing in technology, world leading management practices, renewable energy and practical action we are working to tackle climate change and help our natural environment to safely coexist with industries such as agriculture and resources.

Looking after the environment starts locally, and we want to empower communities to take practical action to protect our natural environment.

We want our agricultural sector to continue to grow and build resilience and sustainability in a changing environment. Making sure water resources are strengthened and preserved through innovation and infrastructure and supporting sustainable and clean, green practices.[17]

I find this to be a weak statement as it avoids the specifics of whether it supports the coal and gas industries in regional Australia. At least the Liberals raised persons who questioned the pseudoscience of global warming.

3. ‘Global warming is a hoax’.

One layperson called it ‘the concocted global warming hoax’.[18] Shock jock Alan Jones of radio 2GB, Sydney, Australia is adamant, ‘The notion of global warming is a hoax’.[19] This is close to the statements made by Professor Ivar Giaever and Professor Don Easterbrook (see above).

3.1 The fake news of climate change

This is exposed in the article by Tom Harris and Timothy Ball:[20]

Canadian Environment Minister Catherine McKenna is arguably the most misinformed of the lot, saying in a recent interview that “polluters should pay.” She too either does not know that CO2 is not a pollutant, or she is deliberately misleading people.

Like many of her political peers, McKenna dismisses credentialed PhD scientists who disagree with her approach, labelling them “deniers.” She does not seem to understand that questioning scientific hypotheses, even scientific theories, is what all scientists should do, if true science is to advance….

Mistakes such as those made by McKenna are not surprising, considering that from the outset the entire claim of anthropogenic global warming (AGW) was built on falsehoods and spread with fake news. [21]

Harris and Ball explained:

An increasing number of climate scientists (including Dr. Ball)[22] now conclude that there is no empirical evidence of human-caused global warming. There are only computer model speculations that humans are causing it, and every forecast made using these models since 1990 has been wrong – with actual temperatures getting further from predictions with every passing year.

President Trump must now end America’s participation in the fake science and fake news of manmade global warming. To do this, he must withdraw the U.S. from further involvement with all U.N. global warming programs, especially the IPCC, as well as the agency that now directs it – the United Nations Framework Convention on Climate Change.[23]

They describe how the fake news of human-caused climate change was promoted as far back as 1988 when the World Meteorological Organization and United Nations Environment Program (UNEP) created the United Nations Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change (IPCC).

Hamilton Spectator (Hamilton, ON, Canada) investigative reporter, Elaine Dewar, concluded that the all-embracing purpose of the IPCC was political and not scientific. Dewar wrote that Maurice Strong, the first executive director of UNEP, ‘was using the U.N. as a platform to sell a global environment crisis and the global governance agenda’.

3.2 Global warming is true.

Democratic Senator in the US, Timothy Wirth, organised for a leading scientist, Jim Hansen, head of the Goddard Institute for Space Studies, to the hearings in 1988. Wirth stated at that time ‘we had introduced a major piece of legislation. Amazingly enough, it was an 18-part climate change bill’.[24] After his address, Hansen received the reputation of being ‘the father of global warming’.[25]

Hansen recalls some of what he said:

it was time to stop waffling so much, and say that the evidence is pretty strong that the greenhouse effect is here and is affecting our climate….

I said that I was 99 percent confident that the world really was getting warmer and that there was a high degree of probability that it was due to human-made greenhouse gases. I think it was the “99 percent probability” statement which got a lot of attention, because that was a fairly strong statement….

we don’t have a lot of time to begin to change the technologies and the energy infrastructure so that we can avoid what [are] really dangerous climate changes….

Scientifically, it’s just very clear that if we don’t make changes within the next few years that we’re going to be past a point where we can prevent large, dangerous changes….

There are just some very fundamental facts which are not understood by the public and, frankly, not understood by many policymakers. For example, more than a quarter of the carbon dioxide that we put into the atmosphere will stay there … more than 500 years, and that means we cannot burn all of the fossil fuels without producing a different planet. If a scientist doesn’t say that, I don’t think the public’s going to know that.[26]

3.2.1 NASA exposed Hansen’s global warming ideology

In Harris & Ball’s view, the events of 1988 ‘created an unholy alliance between a bureaucrat and a politician, which was bolstered by the U.N. and the popular press – leading to the hoax being accepted in governments, industry boardrooms, schools and churches all across the world’.[27]

How did NASA respond to Hansen’s promotion of climate change in 1988?

Dr. John S. Theon, Hansen’s former supervisor at NASA, wrote to the Senate Minority Office at the Environment and Public Works Committee on January 15, 2009. “Hansen was never muzzled, even though he violated NASA’s official agency position on climate forecasting (i.e., we did not know enough to forecast climate change or mankind’s effect on it). Hansen thus embarrassed NASA by coming out with his claims of global warming in 1988 in his testimony before Congress.”[28]

Dr Theon continued:

the US Senate Committee on Environment and Public Works reports that James Hansen’s former supervisor, retired senior NASA atmospheric scientist Dr. John S. Theon, former Chief of the Climate Processes Research Programme at NASA who was responsible for all weather and climate research in the agency from1982 to 1994, has said he thinks man-made global warming theory is anti-scientific bunk:

‘I appreciate the opportunity to add my name to those who disagree that global warming is man-made,’ Theon wrote to the Minority Office at the Environment and Public Works Committee on January 15, 2009. ‘I was, in effect, Hansen’s supervisor because I had to justify his funding, allocate his resources, and evaluate his results. I did not have the authority to give him his annual performance evaluation….

Hansen was never muzzled even though he violated NASA’s official agency position on climate forecasting (i.e., we did not know enough to forecast climate change or mankind’s effect on it). Hansen thus embarrassed NASA by coming out with his claims of global warming in 1988 in his testimony before Congress….

Theon declared ‘climate models are useless.’ ‘My own belief concerning anthropogenic climate change is that the models do not realistically simulate the climate system because there are many very important sub-grid scale processes that the models either replicate poorly or completely omit,’ Theon explained. ‘Furthermore, some scientists have manipulated the observed data to justify their model results. In doing so, they neither explain what they have modified in the observations, nor explain how they did it. They have resisted making their work transparent so that it can be replicated independently by other scientists. This is clearly contrary to how science should be done. Thus there is no rational justification for using climate model forecasts to determine public policy,’ he added.[29]

So, a leading NASA weather scientist concluded in 2009:

clip_image013 ‘man-made global warming theory is anti-scientific bunk’;

clip_image013[1] ‘anthropogenic climate change is that the models do not realistically simulate the climate system’;

clip_image013[2] ‘Hansen thus embarrassed NASA by coming out with his claims of global warming in 1988’;

clip_image013[3] ‘climate models are useless’;

clip_image013[4] ‘some scientists have manipulated the observed data to justify their model results’;

clip_image013[5] They [some scientists] have resisted making their work transparent so that it can be replicated independently by other scientists’;

clip_image013[6] ‘This is clearly contrary to how science should be done’;

clip_image013[7] ‘Thus there is no rational justification for using climate model forecasts to determine public policy’.[30]

clip_image015See: There’s an interesting article being discussed in On Line Opinion, Why do scientists disagree about climate change?

clip_image015[1] https://www.theguardian.com/environment/climate-consensus-97-per-cent/2013/sep/27/global-warming-ipcc-report-humans

clip_image015[2] https://www.desmogblog.com/denial-down-under-galileo-movement

4. Renewable energy

clip_image017(photo of wind farm courtesy Wikipedia)

4.1 Who encouraged these strikes by youth?

These students are part of a global movement ‘inspired by Swedish teenager Greta Thunberg’. Some of Greta’s story can be read in the interview with her, Greta Thunberg, schoolgirl climate change warrior: ‘Some people can let things go. I can’t’ (The Guardian, 11 March 2019).

ABC News reported:

Federal Education Minister Dan Tehan said he would meet with the climate strikers to discuss their concerns outside of school hours, while Queensland Premier Annastacia Palaszczuk said the protests should have been held on a weekend.

“Students leaving school during school hours to protest is not something that we should encourage,” Mr Tehan said….

Especially when they are being encouraged to do so by green political activists“.[31]

There was union support for the strike by school-aged youth:

This year’s event is [was] already being supported by a growing number of unions including the National Union of Workers, National Tertiary Education Union, United Firefighters Union, Hospo Voice, the Victorian Allied Health Professionals Association and the National Union of Students.[32]

Fifty rallies were planned on 15 March across Australia as these students claimed their futures are being destroyed.

5. Australia’s 2019 ‘climate change’ election

clip_image019 See, ‘What happened to the climate change election?

clip_image019[1]Australian election could have global climate change impact

clip_image019[2]Election 2019: What happened to the climate change vote we heard about?

6. Conclusion

The Liberal Party, which seems to be the Party rejecting climate change and having videos by scientists claiming climate change is pseudoscience, won the election. Its Coalition partner, The National Party, seems to advocate a fence-sitting position.

As for me, I consider climate change has more to do with advertising hype than scientific substance. Therefore, I’m not convinced by the ravings of Labor and the Greens. No international conference will convince me there is a need to eliminate coal and gas-fired power stations that will devastate communities, especially in light of what happens naturally in our environment.

clip_image021

(Photo: Students gathered on the steps of South Australia’s Parliament House. (ABC News: Gabriella Marchant)

Notes

[1] ABC News, Brisbane, Qld 2019. Climate change strikes across Australia see student protesters defy calls to stay in school (online). Available at: https://www.abc.net.au/news/2019-03-15/students-walk-out-of-class-to-protest-climate-change/10901978 (Accessed 5 April 2019).

[2] See: https://www.popsci.com/kids-change-parents-minds-climate

[3] Available at: http://www.environment.gov.au/climate-change/climate-science-data/climate-science/understanding-climate-change (Accessed 5 April 2019).

[4] Ibid.

[5] CSIRO n.d. Climate change information for Australia (online). Available at: https://www.csiro.au/en/Research/OandA/Areas/Oceans-and-climate/Climate-change-information (Accessed 5 April 2019).

[6] Ben Cubby 2012. Climate change a hoax, Jones tells tax protesters. The Sydney Morning Herald (online), 2 July. Available at: https://www.smh.com.au/politics/federal/climate-change-a-hoax-jones-tells-tax-protesters-20120701-21b3z.html (Accessed 5 April 2019).

[7] “COP” stands for “Conference of the Parties.”

[8] That’s “net-zero” carbon emissions and approx. 100% renewable energy by 2050/

[9] Alan Jones, Sky News, “People have ‘every right’ to question climate projections: Newman,” 5 October 2021, accessed 8 October 2021, https://www.skynews.com.au/opinion/alan-jones/people-have-every-right-to-question-climate-projections-newman/video/55de0f35e23415c4910325fa656d0d83.

[10] ‘Sulfur hexafluoride (SF6) is an inorganic, colorless, odorless, non-flammable, non-toxic extremely potent greenhouse gas, and an excellent electrical insulator. SF6 has an octahedral geometry, consisting of six fluorine atoms attached to a central sulphur atom…. SF6 is used in the electrical industry as a gaseous dielectric medium for high-voltage circuit breakers, switchgear, and other electrical equipment, often replacing oil filled circuit breakers (OCBs) that can contain harmful PCBs…. SF6 is used as a contrast agent for ultrasound imaging.’ (Wikipedia 2019. s.v. Sulfur hexafluoride).

[11] NASA Global Climate Change 2019. Scientific consensus: Earth’s climate is warming (online), 19 April. Available at: https://climate.nasa.gov/scientific-consensus/ (Accessed 23 April 2019).

[12] Ibid.

[13] News Weekly, National Civic Council, “COP26 highlights high cost of Green insanity,” 6 October, accessed 8 October, https://ncc.org.au/newsweekly/cover-story/cop26-highlights-high-cost-of-green-insanity/.

[14] Ibid.

[15] Labor’s Climate Change Action Plan n.d. Available at: https://www.alp.org.au/media/1692/labors_climate_change_action_plan.pdf (Accessed 23 April 2019).

[16] The Greens n.d. Our Vision: Renewable Energy & Climate Change (online). Available at: https://greens.org.au/platform/renewables (Accessed 23 April 2019).

[17] Nationals for Regional Australia, accessed 8 October 2021, https://nationals.org.au/policies/protecting-our-local-way-of-life-for-future-generations/.

[18] Mark Poynter 2019. Closing a renewable timber industry for carbon credits is far from ‘common sense’. On Line Opinion (online), 5 March. Comments: Posted by calwest, Friday, 5 April 2019 1:21:52 PM. Available at: http://forum.onlineopinion.com.au/thread.asp?article=20243 (Accessed 6 April 2019).

[19] Ben Cubby op. cit.

[20] ‘Dr. Timothy Ball is a renowned environmental consultant and former climatology professor at the University of Winnipeg, Manitoba, Canada’ as stated in the following footnote.

[21] Tom Harris & Timothy Ball 2017. Global warming: Fake News From the Start. The Heartland Institute (online), 20 December. Available at: https://www.heartland.org/news-opinion/news/global-warming-fake-news-from-the-start (Accessed 6 April 2019).

[22] Co-author of this article.

[23] Harris & Ball op. cit.

[24] PBS Frontline 2007. Interviews Timothy Wirth (online), 24 April. Available at: https://www.pbs.org/wgbh/pages/frontline/hotpolitics/interviews/wirth.html (Accessed 6 April 2019).

[25] PBS Frontline 2007. Interviews James Hansen (online), 24 April. Available at: https://www.pbs.org/wgbh/pages/frontline/hotpolitics/interviews/hansen.html (Accessed 6 April 2019).

[26] Ibid.

[27] Harris & Ball op. cit.

[28] Harris & Ball op. cit.

[29] Doug Bandow 2009. What NASA Thinks of James Hansen. Global Warming.org (online), 29 January. Available at: http://www.globalwarming.org/2009/01/29/what-nasa-thinks-of-james-hansen/ (Accessed 6 April 2019).

[30] Statements from ibid.

[31] ABC News, Brisbane, Qld. Climate change strikes across Australia see student protesters defy calls to stay in school (online), 15 March, emphasis added. Available at: https://www.abc.net.au/news/2019-03-15/students-walk-out-of-class-to-protest-climate-change/10901978 (Accessed 5 April 2019).

[32] Charis Chang 2019. news.com.au (online). Unions back next school strike in Australia ahead of 2019 federal election (online), 11 February. Available at: https://www.news.com.au/technology/environment/climate-change/unions-back-next-school-strike-in-australia-ahead-of-2019-federal-election/news-story/50dcdc9aae668636129232bdc0518841 (Accessed 5 April 2019).

Copyright © 2021 Spencer D. Gear. This document last updated at Date: 08 October 2021.

clip_image022clip_image022

How to write a biblical fairy tale

Fantastic Landscape With Mushrooms. Illustration To The Fairy Tale "Alice In Wonderland"

(image courtesy PublicDomainPictures.net)

By Spencer D Gear PhD

WriteShop gives this advice on how to write a fairy tale:[1] Kim, on this blog, states a fairy tale contains these elements:

The fairy tale genre needs to include certain basic elements. Otherwise, it may not be a fairy tale at all!

These characteristics mark a story as a fairy tale:

  • It usually begins with “Once upon a time,” “Long ago,” or “Once there was a …”
  • The story takes place in a distant or make-believe land.
  • It features imaginary characters such as dragons, fairies, elves, and giants.
  • Things happen in threes and sevens (three bears, three wishes, seven brothers).
  • Wishes are often granted.
  • A difficult problem is solved at the end of the story.
  • Good triumphs over evil.
  • The story has a happy ending.

In addition, a fairy tale will often include:

  • Royal characters such as kings and princesses
  • Talking animals
  • Magical elements such as magic beans, fairy dust, enchanted castle

J.J. Sunset’s Blog gives these steps:[2]

Instructions

clip_image003 Step 1

Decide what lesson your fairy tale is going to teach before you write it. At their core, fairy tales are morality tales from the horror of stepmothers to not talking to strangers. They are generally teaching something and yours should do the same.

clip_image003[1]Step 2

Create a good character. A fairy tale needs someone to root for. They don’t have to be perfect. Just think Jack in “Jack and the Beanstalk” or Red in “Little Red Riding Hood” but your readers should like them and want them to succeed.

clip_image003[2]Step 3

Devise an evil character. A fairy tale must have an evil character that works as an antagonist to the good character. The evil character usually has special powers of some sort and they must use those powers in a way to cause the good character pain.

clip_image003[3]Step 4

Design a magical character or object to write into the fairy tale. The magical character can be the evil character but many fairy tales have both good and evil magical characters that work to off-set the other’s influence.

clip_image003[4]Step 5

Identify what obstacles your good character is going to have to face. Whatever the obstacle, it should seem insurmountable and genuinely require a bit of creativity by your good character and a little magical assistance.

clip_image003[5]Step 6

Cute Cartoon Castle. FairyTale Cartoon Castle. Fantasy Fairy Tale Palace With Rainbow. Vector IllustrationWrite a happy ending. A fairytale isn’t a fairytale unless it has a happy ending. Your good character must succeed and your evil character must lose and lose in a big way so you can write your “happily ever after.”

I gave these two examples of how to create a fairy tale because sometimes scholars state the Bible is a fairy tale.

How to pick fiction from nonfiction

Matt Grant explained:

For writers and readers alike, it’s sometimes hard to tell the difference between fiction and nonfiction. In general, fiction refers to plot, settings, and characters created from the imagination, while nonfiction refers to factual stories focused on actual events and people. However, the difference between these two genres is sometimes blurred, as the two often intersect.

He further made the assessment that nonfiction is factual, based on true events such as histories, biographies, journalism and essays. If fiction has “a few smatterings of fact” in it, that does not make the nonfiction true. However, “a few fabrications” in nonfictions “can force that story to lose all credibility.”

Here are a few indexes to use to determine the historical reliability of an historical writing.

Indexes (criteria) of historical trustworthiness[3]

These include:

1. Early Multiple Attestation

Multiple Attestation refers to a fact or event that appears to have been preserved down multiple lines of independent tradition is more likely to be true than one that is only preserved down a single line.

2. Dissimiliarity

The ‘criteria of dissimilarity’ . . . essentially contains two different criteria, that of the ‘criteria of distinction from Judaism’(CDJ ) and ‘Criteria of distinction from Christianity‘(CDC) [Swales 2008].

3. Embarrassment

A fact or event that appears to cause embarrassment to the theology of the gospel authors is less likely to have been invented by them than a fact or event that bolsters their theology.

For example, since the Jews had a low view of women, the women who were waiting for Jesus at the empty tomb, makes the account more credible.

4. Coherence

Coherence: A fact or event that appears to be consistent with our present understanding of the historical context is more likely to be true than one which appears to be at odds with it.

5. Semitisms

This criterion states that the historicity of a New Testament sentence p is more probable if it contains traces of an Aramaic or Hebraic origin. Since the New Testament was written in Greek and Jesus spoke Aramaic, traces of Aramaic in the Greek of the New Testament argue in favour of a primitive tradition that originates in Jesus. We see this, for example, in Paul’s quotation of a creedal tradition in Corinthians. “I delivered to you,” he reminds the Corinthians, “what I also received,” suggesting the transmission of an oral tradition. Paul then recites a list of eyewitnesses to the risen Jesus which, as Habermas and Licona point out, contains numerous hints of an Aramaic origin that would seem to vouch for its authenticity—including the fourfold use of the Greek term for “that,” hoti, common in Aramaic narration, and the use of the name Cephas (“He appeared to Cephas”) which is the Aramaic for Peter (Miles 2018).

Conclusion

I’ve shown how to write fairy tales in that genre. We are being absolutely unreasonable with language and research if we want to turn biblical research into making fairy tales. The Gospels are stoutly historical – based on the indices of authenticity applied to them.

Works consulted

Mines, Ben 2018. Thinking Matters, “The Criteria of Historical Authenticity,” 4 February, accessed 8 October 2021, https://thinkingmatters.org.nz/2018/02/the-criteria-of-historical-authenticity/.

Swales, Jon 2008. Theological Ramblings, “The Quest for the Historical Jesus: Criteria of Dissimilarity,” 10 March, accessed 8 October 2021, https://ordinand.wordpress.com/2008/03/10/the-quest-for-the-historical-jesus-criteria-of-dissimilarity/.

Notes


[1] Available at: https://writeshop.com/genres-how-to-write-a-fairy-tale/, accessed 8 October 2021.

[2] Available at: https://jjsunset.wordpress.com/sunsets-factory/writing-a-fairy-tale-step-by-step-instructions/, accessed 8 October 2021.

[3] These are based on: Ben Mines 2018. The criteria of historical authenticity, Thinking Matters (online), 4 February. Available at: https://thinkingmatters.org.nz/2018/02/the-criteria-of-historical-authenticity/ (Accessed 5 August 2019).

Copyright © 2021 Spencer D. Gear. This document last updated at Date: 08 October 2021.

Was the Apocrypha in the Hebrew Old Testament Bible?

clip_image001

Copies of the Luther Bible include the deuterocanonical books as an intertestamental section between the Old Testament and New Testament;

they are termed the “Apocrypha” in Christian Churches having their origins in the Reformation (image courtesy “Wikipedia”)

By Spencer D Gear PhD

Why would the issue of the contents of the Apocrypha become important for a Christian? Should Christians be reading the Apocrypha as a normal part of Bible reading?

I was alerted to this when I was interacting with an Eastern Orthodox Church (EOC) person or priest on a Christian Forum. He stated:

Church of St. George, Istanbul (August 2010).jpg

Saint George’s Cathedral, Istanbul, Turkey (courtesy Wikipedia)

I am personally not prepared to say that nobody outside the EOC, who has heard the Gospel and believed and lived as a Christian, was never saved. Note that the EOC also believes that growth toward God continues after death. I will not say that John Wesley or Mother Theresa will be cast into a lake of fire because they were not under a particular bishop. I will say, though, that I believe that the EOC has the fullness of Christian truth and worship, and that it is where all Christians should be. I also believe that there is need for great humility on all sides, including and maybe especially on ours, as we strive to actually understand what others are saying, and recognize what we have in common rather than focus on what keeps us apart.[1]

In this response, he proceeded to advocate prayer for the dead, praying to the dead, prayer to angels, icons as a meeting point between the living and the dead, the grace of God being active in the relics of the saints, salvation only in the EOC or not.

In an earlier response he stated:

You’ve once again hit on the key difference between us. And it was the key difference for me also, when I first encountered Orthodoxy.
It isn’t what you’re saying, but rather what you are not saying. If I can fill in as best I can, based on our past interactions…
“You provided too many examples…regarding icons…etc…that are not compatible with [my interpretation of Scripture, which is informed from Evangelical Protestant traditions about Scripture, its interpretation and applications, and presuppositions about what the Church is and where it is found, and based on a hermeneutical method of Critical Realism, which largely dates to the 20th Century and is mostly the product of Evangelical Protestant theologians].”
Without mincing words, your hermeneutic (and the philosophy behind it) is a TRADITION. So I have to ask, on what basis is your tradition–or that of McGrath or Wright or other “critical realists”–to be preferred over the much older and much broader orthodox/catholic tradition?

The fact that the answers I gave above, don’t measure up to your understanding of Scripture, could mean that I (and a huge portion of Christians going back to the early Church Fathers on most of those topics) are all wrong. Or, it could mean that your tradition of protestant hermeneutics and critical realism fails to measure up to the tradition of the Church.
Just something for consideration. But really, I’d like to hear your answer on why your tradition of interpreting Scripture, is better than Orthodoxy’s. Where is Critical Realism found in Scripture?[2]

My rejoinder was:

I object strongly to what you did here. I stated:

You provided too many examples in your response regarding icons, communicating with the dead, angels, etc. that are not compatible with Scripture. I would not be pursuing any EOC action.

So what did you do? You distorted and contorted this with your interpretation of what I DID NOT state:

You provided too many examples…regarding icons…etc…that are not compatible with [my interpretation of Scripture, which is informed from Evangelical Protestant traditions about Scripture, its interpretation and applications, and presuppositions about what the Church is and where it is found, and based on a hermeneutical method of Critical Realism, which largely dates to the 20th Century and is mostly the product of Evangelical Protestant theologians.

That is your imposition on what I stated. It is eisegesis of my writings.
Your foray into Critical Realism is a red herring logical fallacy. It doesn’t relate to the topic of the thread. If you have difficulty with a critical realist epistemology, please start a separate thread to address your concerns.
My authority for determining the boundaries of doctrine is Scripture. I do not find these doctrines in Scripture that you affirmed that the EOC teaches:

  • praying to the dead;
  • prayer to angels;
  • icons as a “meeting point” between the temporal and the eternal;
  • prayer for the dead;
  • The grace of God being active in the relics of the saints;
  • salvation is to be found in the EOC;
  • The presence of God himself is made real to us in the sacraments.
  • growth toward God continues after death;
  • I believe that the EOC has the fullness of Christian truth and worship, and that it is where all Christians should be;
  • I hold baptism to be necessary but not sufficient [for salvation];

I think that we’ll need to agree that the teachings of our various denominations are incompatible with each other. [3]

Scripture or tradition?

I asked this person:[4] 2 Tim 3:16-17 states: “All Scripture is breathed out by God and profitable for teaching, for reproof, for correction, and for training in righteousness, that the man of God may be competent, equipped for every good work” (ESV).
To which Scripture is Paul referring that is “profitable for teaching, for reproof, for correction, and for training in righteousness”?
He is not telling us which tradition is “profitable for teaching, for reproof, for correction, and for training in righteousness.”
To which Scripture is Paul telling us to go for teaching?

Part of his response was:

In context, he’s referring to the Jewish scriptures with which Timothy had been taught from childhood. I’m not entirely sure just which books Timothy would have considered canonical, but I believe there’s a good chance that the LXX including what came to be called “deuterocanonical books” [the Apocrypha] were part of that corpus. We can’t be 100% sure of the exact bounds of the canon of Scripture at the time this epistle was written. Clearly, Timothy was meant to infer from his own situation, just which Scriptures were being referred to….

As early as Ignatius of Antioch, we see a letter written to the church in Ephesus likely only a few generations after Timothy himself had been a bishop…admonishing his readers to continue in submission to their bishops, elders and deacons.
Clearly, the sufficiency of the Scriptures is not at odds with the authority of the Church’s ordained ministry. It is the task of the entire Church, led by those ordained to that ministry through the laying on of hands, to safeguard the entire tradition received from the Apostles, within which the Scriptures can be properly understood and lived out.[5]

What about the Apocrypha?

What were the books of the Jewish Scriptures? Did they include the Apocrypha?[6]
My copy of The Apocrypha (The Oxford Annotated Apocrypha, New York: Oxford University Press, 1973, RSV) states in the Preface and Introduction that:

  • “They are not included in the Hebrew Canon of Holy Scripture” (1973:vii); “none of these fifteen books is included in the Hebrew canon of holy Scripture. All of them, however, with the exception of 2 Esdras, are present in copies of the Greek version of the Old Testament known as the Septuagint. The Old Latin translations of the Old Testament, made from the Septuagint, also include them, along with 2 Esdras. As a consequence, many of the early Church Fathers quoted most of these books as authoritative” (1973:x);
  • “In the Old Testament Jerome followed the Hebrew canon and by means of prefaces called the reader’s attention to the separate category of the apocryphal books. Subsequent copyists of the Latin Bible, however, were not always careful to transmit Jerome’s prefaces, and during the medieval period the Western Church generally regarded these books as part holy Scriptures” (1973:x);
  • “In 1546, the Council of Trent decreed that the Canon of the Old Testament includes them (except the Prayer of Manasseh and 1 and 2 Esdras)” (1973:vii-viii);
  • ‘”the Apocrypha” is the designation applied to a collection of fourteen or fifteen books, or portions of books, written during the last two centuries before Christ and the first century of the Christian era’ (1973:ix);
  • ‘The terms “protocanonical” and “deuterocanonical” are used to signify respectively those books of Scripture that were received by the entire Church from the beginning as inspired, and those whose inspiration came to be recognized later, after the matter had been disputed by certain Fathers and local churches’ (1973:x);
  • ‘The introductory phrase, “Thus says the Lord,” which occurs so frequently in the Old Testament, is conspicuous by its absence from the books of the Apocrypha’ (1973:xii).
  • “In the fourth century many Greek Fathers (including Eusebius, Athanasius, Cyril of Jerusalem, Gregory of Nazianzus, Amphilochius, and Epiphanius) came to recognize a distinction between the books in the Hebrew canon and the rest, though the latter were still customarily cited as Scripture” (1973:xiii).
  • “In the Latin Church, on the other hand, though opinion has not been unanimous, a generally high regard for the books of the Apocrypha has prevailed” (1973:xiii).
  • “At the close of the fourth century, Jerome spoke out decidedly for the Hebrew canon, declaring unreservedly that books which were outside that canon should be classed as apocryphal” (1973:xiii).
  • “Disputes over the doctrines of Purgatory and of the efficacy of prayers and Masses for the dead inevitably involved discussion concerning the authority of 2 Maccabees, which contains what was held to be scriptural warrant for them (12:43-45)” (1973:xiv).

The facts are, based on this publication, that the Hebrew canon at the time of the NT writing did not include the Apocrypha.

Some valid questions:

This EOC person left me with some valid and provocative questions:

The list of things from your copy of the apocrypha demonstrates clearly that (a) there were different canons of the OT between the Hebrew-speaking and the Hellenic Jews, (b) that it was the latter that the Early Christians accepted as normative and authoritative.
1. Why do you assume that Timothy, a Greek-speaking Jew from the region of Ephesus, would have not “been taught from his youth” from the Greek translation and canon of the Jewish scriptures?
2. Why grant greater authority to the canonical tradition of the Hebrew-speaking Jews, than to the Greek-speaking?
3. Why grant greater authority to one particular Jewish tradition, than to the Christian tradition itself?
I’d appreciate clear answers to the above, in what little time you can spare. Oh, and one more, a simple yes/no.
*** Do you consider your canon, your methods of interpretation, and your philosophical outlook brought to the texts, to be traditions, or not?[7]

We need to remember that the Apocrypha was from the last 2 centuries before the NT and was not included in the Hebrew canon. It was in the Greek LXX but not the Hebrew canon.
I have not been able to find any NT books that make a direct quotation from any of the 15 books of the Apocrypha although there are often citations from the 39 books of the Hebrew canon of the OT. There may be allusions to some apocryphal books in some NT writers (e.g. Romans 1:20-29 with Wis. 13:5.8; Rom 9:20-23 with Wis.12:12.20; 15:7; 2 Cor 5:1, 4 with Wis. 9:15).

Paul was a Jew and it could be expected that he would communicate with his child in the faith, a Greek-speaking Jew, Timothy, what was in the Hebrew canon. It did not include the Intertestamental books of the Apocrypha.[8]

Eastern Orthodox Church and the Apocrypha

The outlook of the Orthodox Church in America is:

The Old Testament books to which you refer—know[n] in the Orthodox Church as the “longer canon” rather than the “Apocrypha,” as they are known among the Protestants—are accepted by Orthodox Christianity as canonical scripture. These particular books are found only in the Septuagint version of the Old Testament, but not in the Hebrew texts of the rabbis.

These books—Tobit, Judah, more chapters of Esther and Daniel, the Books of Maccabees, the Book of the Wisdom of Solomon, the Book of Sirach, the Prophecy of Baruch, and the Prayer of Manasseh—are considered by the Orthodox to be fully part of the Old testament because they are part of the longer canon that was accepted from the beginning by the early Church.

The same Canon [rule] of Scripture is used by the Roman Catholic Church. In the Jerusalem Bible (RC) these books are intermingled within the Old Testament Books and not placed separately as often in Protestant translations (e.g., 1611 version of KJV).[9]

The Orthodox Christian Information Center provided this assessment:

All Scripture is inspired and, in both St. Paul and St. Timothy’s mind, that meant the LXX. So much is clear. But the LXX included the books we know today as the Apocrypha.

The earliest copies of the Greek Bible we possess, such as the Codex Alexandrinus and Codex Siniaticus [sic] (4-5th centuries) include the Apocrypha. And it is not placed in a separate section in the back of the codex but is rather interspersed by book according to literature type—the historical books with Kings and Chronicles, the wisdom literature with Proverbs and the Song of Solomon, and so forth.

These books were used by the Hellenic Jewish communities and certain Palestinian Jewish groups such as the Essenes. The Apocrypha retained respect in various Jewish communities until around thirty years after Paul’s death when the Pharisees, in the council of Jamnia, and discussed a number of issues, among which was the Jewish canon. Although the influence of this council is disputed, what is clear is that in its aftermath the Apocrypha was decidedly rejected by the Pharisees, who then proceeded to dominate Judaism.[10]

These kinds of comments lead one to accept the Deuterocanonical books (Apocrypha) because:

  • These books, being part of the longer canon, were accepted from the beginning of Christianity by the early Church.
  • The earliest copies of the Greek Bible (the Septuagint – LXX) include the Apocrypha, not in a separate section at the conclusion of the OT but the books are interspersed throughout the OT according to literature type.
  • The Apocryphal books were used by Jewish communities until about the time of Paul.
  • See below for an assessment why the Apocrypha should be rejected.

Roman Catholic Church and the Apocrypha

There’s a pretty good overview of the issues surrounding the Apocrypha from a Roman Catholic point of view by A Catholic Response Inc in ‘Apocrypha?’ (1994). The conclusion reached is that

the Catholic Church did not add to the OT. The Catholic OT Canon (also the numbering of the Psalms) came from the ancient Greek Septuagint Bible. Protestants, following the tradition of the Pharisaic Jews, accept the shorter Hebrew Canon, even though the Jews also reject the NT Books. The main problem is that the Bible does not define itself. No where in the Sacred Writings are the divinely inspired Books listed completely. (The Table of Contents is the publishing editor’s words, like the footnotes.) The Bible needs a visible, external authority guided by the Holy Spirit to define both the OT and NT Canons. This authority is the Magisterium of the Catholic Church. As St. Augustine writes, “I would not have believed the Gospel had not the authority of the Church moved me.”

This article also affirms that

the Catholic Church is not alone in accepting the Books which Protestants label as “Apocrypha.” The Coptic, Greek and Russian Orthodox churches also recognize these Books as inspired by God. In 1950 an edition of the OT containing all these Books was officially approved by the Holy Synod of the Greek church. Also the Russian Orthodox church in 1956 published a Russian Bible in Moscow which contained these Books.

I recommend a read of the CatholicCulture.org article, ‘What are the Apocrypha?’ (Hugh Pope 2015).[11] In it, Pope cites St Augustine’s view of the Apocrypha:

Emblem of the Holy See
Catholic Church

Ecclesia Catholica

Saint Peter's Basilica

St. Peter’s Basilica, Vatican City (image courtesy Wikipedia)

Let us omit, then, the fables of those scriptures which are called apocryphal, because their obscure origin was unknown to the fathers from whom the authority of the true Scriptures has been transmitted to us by a most certain and well-ascertained succession. For though there is some truth in these apocryphal writings, yet they contain so many false statements, that they have no canonical authority. We cannot deny that Enoch, the seventh from Adam, left some divine writings, for this is asserted by the Apostle Jude in his canonical epistle. But it is not without reason that these writings have no place in that canon of Scripture which was preserved in the temple of the Hebrew people by the diligence of successive priests; for their antiquity brought them under suspicion, and it was impossible to ascertain whether these were his genuine writings, and they were not brought forward as genuine by the persons who were found to have carefully preserved the canonical books by a successive transmission. So that the writings which are produced under his name, and which contain these fables about the giants, saying that their fathers were not men, are properly judged by prudent men to be not genuine; just as many writings are produced by heretics under the names both of other prophets, and more recently, under the names of the apostles, all of which, after careful examination, have been set apart from canonical authority under the title of Apocrypha (The City of God 15.23.4).[12]

CatholicAnswers asks: ‘Didn’t the Catholic Church add to the Bible?’ (2015). Part of its answer is that

the canon of the entire Bible was essentially settled around the turn of the fourth century. Up until this time, there was disagreement over the canon, and some ten different canonical lists existed, none of which corresponded exactly to what the Bible now contains. Around this time there were no less than five instances when the canon was formally identified: the Synod of Rome (382), the Council of Hippo (393), the Council of Carthage (397), a letter from Pope Innocent I to Exsuperius, Bishop of Toulouse (405), and the Second Council of Carthage (419). In every instance, the canon was identical to what Catholic Bibles contain today. In other words, from the end of the fourth century on, in practice Christians accepted the Catholic Church’s decision in this matter.

By the time of the Reformation, Christians had been using the same 73 books in their Bibles (46 in the Old Testament, 27 in the New Testament)—and thus considering them inspired—for more than 1100 years. This practice changed with Martin Luther, who dropped the deuterocanonical books on nothing more than his own say-so. Protestantism as a whole has followed his lead in this regard.

So, for these Roman Catholic cites give these reasons for accepting the deuterocanonical books:

  • The Roman Catholic canon of the OT came from the ancient Septuagint – the OT in Greek that included the Apocrypha.
  • The Roman Catholics did not add to the OT books but the Protestants at the time of the Reformation deleted 7 OT books (the Apocrypha) that had been accepted as part of the canon for 1100 years.
  • The Bible itself does not define what books should be in or out of the Bible. That is left to the Magisterium of the Roman Catholic Church. So, from the end of the 4th century to the Reformation, the books contained in the Roman Catholic Bible were accepted as the canon.
  • Orthodox churches also accept the Apocrypha.
  • However, it was conceded what St Augustine stated of the Apocrypha that they contain so many false statements that they cannot have canonical authority.

Hebrew canon of Scripture and the Apocrypha

What did the Hebrews of the Old Testament era consider was the list of books in the Hebrew canon of Scripture?

Why the Apocrypha should be rejected

Ryan Turner has provided an excellent summary on ‘Reasons why the Apocrypha does not belong in the Bible(CARM). His major points are:

  • Rejection by Jesus and the apostles;
  • Rejection by the Jewish community;
  • Rejection by many in the Catholic Church;
  • False teachings, and
  • Not prophetic.

He refers to:

Norman Geisler and Ralph E. MacKenzie, Roman Catholics and Evangelicals: Agreements and Differences. Grand Rapids: Baker, 1995, pp. 157-75.

Norman Geisler, Baker Encyclopedia of Christian Apologetics, Grand Rapids: Baker, 1999, pp. 28-36.

Wayne Jackson has written an excellent assessment: ‘The Apocrypha: Inspired of God?’ (Christian Courier 2015).

Notes


[1] Ignatius#21, 9 June 2014, Christian Forums, General Theology, Salvation (Soteriology), ‘Reasons why you are very unwise to trust your church’s doctrines’ (online). Available at: http://www.christianforums.com/t7825081-4/ (Accessed 24 December 2014).

[2] Ibid., Ignatius21#39.

[3] Ibid., OzSpen#43.

[4] Ibid., OzSpen#57.

[5] Ibid., Ignatius21#58.

[6] These details are in ibid., OzSpen#62.

[7] Ibid., Ignatius21#65.

[8] I mentioned this in ibid., OzSpen#67, #70

[9] Orthodox Church in America, ‘Canon of Scripture’ 2015. Available at: https://oca.org/questions/scripture/canon-of-scripture (Accessed 2 June 2015).

[10] ‘All Scripture is inspired by God’. Available at: http://orthodoxinfo.com/inquirers/otcanon.aspx (Accessed 2 June 2015).

[11] The Catholic University of America Press 2015. Available at: https://www.catholicculture.org/culture/library/view.cfm?recnum=9069 (Accessed 2 June 2015).

[12] The citation from The City of God in CatholicCulture.org is shorter than this version this Augustine publication which I have taken from the Roman Catholic website, New Advent.

Copyright © 2021 Spencer D. Gear. This document last updated at Date: 08 October 2021.

What is the nature of sin and total depravity?

By Spencer D Gear PhD

According to John 8:34 (NLT): Jesus said, “I tell you the truth, everyone who sins is a slave of sin”. Does that make all people are sinners who have no other option but to sin?

Can that mean all are totally depraved if we understand total depravity as the spiritual condition of all fallen human beings?

While often misunderstood, the doctrine of total depravity is an acknowledgement that the Bible teaches that as a result of the fall of man (Genesis 3:6) every part of man—his mind, will, emotions and flesh—have been corrupted by sin. In other words, sin affects all areas of our being including who we are and what we do. It penetrates to the very core of our being so that everything is tainted by sin and “…all our righteous acts are like filthy rags” before a holy God (Isaiah 64:6). It acknowledges that the Bible teaches that we sin because we are sinners by nature. Or, as Jesus says, “So every good tree bears good fruit, but the bad tree bears bad fruit. A good tree cannot produce bad fruit, nor can a bad tree produce good fruit.” (Matthew 7:17-18).?

The total depravity of man is seen throughout the Bible. Man’s heart is “deceitful and desperately wicked” (Jeremiah 17:9) [Got Questions?]?

Is it sound biblical teaching to state that all human beings are contaminated by sin and because of the inner being (heart) of a person, wicked things are said and done – sins are committed?

If this is true, how would you communicate it to a non-Christian who asks: ‘What can be done about the crime and violence in my country?’

You can check this online at aJmartiva.

I have no idea why the Greek hamartia has been transliterated as aJmartina on this Bauer, Arndt & Gingrich lexicon (BAG) website.

Hamartia (sin) cannot be defined simply as this lexicon demonstrates. It means:

1. Actions and results that depart from the way of justice towards God and human beings (Gen 50:17; 1 Jn 5:17, ‘Every wrong thing we do is sin. But there are sins that do not lead to death’, NIRV).

There are many sub-headings under this category that include, fill up the measure of sins; let go = forgive sins; confess your sins to each other, etc.

2. In John’s usage, it means ‘a condition or characteristic quality and is opposed to truth’ (Jn 9:41; 15:24; 1 Jn 1:8).

3. ‘Paul thinks of sin almost in personal terms … as a ruling power’ (Rom 5:12). Everything is subject to sin (Gal 3:22); people serve it (Rom 6:6); are sold into its service (Rom 7:14); and Jesus is a sin-offering for sin (2 Cor 5:21).

4. In Hebrews (as in OT), ‘sin appears as the power that deceives [human beings] and leads them to destruction, whose influence and activity can be ended only by sacrifices (Heb 2:17; 3:13; 9:23ff; 10:18).

5. Special sins: that lead to death (1 Jn 5:16); a great sin (Gen 20:9);

So, my simple definition of total depravity, total inability is:

All human beings do wrong things against God’s standards and harm other people. This condition affects every person and it is opposed to truth. It is the ruling power in every aspect of all people: body, soul, spirit, mind, heart, and conscience.

To cure this condition, it required Jesus’ paying for the sins of all people by dying for them.

Both Calvinists AND Arminians believe in Total Depravity of all human beings. This is what Arminius wrote:

VII. In this state, the free will of man towards the true good is not only wounded, maimed, infirm, bent, and weakened; but it is also imprisoned, destroyed, and lost. And its powers are not only debilitated and useless unless they be assisted by grace, but it has no powers whatever except such as are excited by Divine grace. For Christ has said, “Without me ye can do nothing.” St. Augustine, after having diligently meditated upon each word in this passage, speaks thus: “Christ does not say, without me ye can do but Little; neither does He say, without me ye can do any Arduous Thing, nor without me ye can do it with difficulty. But he says, without me ye can do Nothing! Nor does he say, without me ye cannot complete any thing; but without me ye can do Nothing.” That this may be made more manifestly to appear, we will separately consider the mind, the affections or will, and the capability, as contra-distinguished from them, as well as the life itself of an unregenerate man (Arminius 1977:525-526).

This quote is taken from my article: Do Arminians believe in election and total depravity?

Calvinism on total depravity

The late R C Sproul was teaching TULIP to a college level class of about 30. He explained the doctrine of total depravity (T)

showing them that sin is not simply tangential to our existence. Sin is not the blemish on our exterior; sin penetrates to the very core of our humanity, despoiling us in body, mind, and will and rendering us in a state of moral inability. So much so are we captivated by this bondage to sin that we no longer have within us the moral capacity to incline ourselves to the things of God. I labored over all that for the college students, and at the end of the discussion on total depravity, I asked for a show of hands as to how many were persuaded of this doctrine.

There was no hesitation; every hand went up. On the top left corner of the blackboard I wrote the number 30, and then wrote a message to the janitor: “Please do not erase.”

Class resumed the following Monday, at which time I started on the U of TULIP, unconditional election. When I got through and asked how many agreed with it, there was quite a bit of attrition. Once you get to L, limited atonement, there was wholesale abandonment of their convictions. I said to them, “It’s QED (quod erat demonstrandum); it is automatic. If you understand the doctrine of total depravity, you would have to believe in unconditional election or limited atonement even if the Bible didn’t teach it. If you do not believe in irresistible grace, you would have to assume it once you understand the nature of the fallen condition” (Sproul, Imputation: Romans 5:12-17)

Nice trick to play on College students Dr Sproul[1]

I hope adults are wiser and have more biblical knowledge to know that TULIP critique is found in the Bible. Sproul has failed to mount a convincing case for total depravity for these reasons:

Flaws in Total Depravity

clip_image002 The Bible teaches the depravity of the human heart (Jer 17:9 NIV). However, nowhere does it teach total inability. How do I know? The Bible tells me so. John 5:40 states, “

This issue is not a matter of whether a person can come to Christ. It concerns the will. Will you come?

clip_image002[1] Jesus wept over Jerusalem, saying, “Jerusalem, Jerusalem, you who kill the prophets and stone those sent to you, how often I have longed to gather your children together, as a hen gathers her chicks under her wings, and you were not willing” (Matt 23:37 NIV)

clip_image002[2] Take note of the last verse of the Bible, Rev 22:17, “The Spirit and the bride say, ‘Come!’ And let the one who hears say, ‘Come!’ Let the one who is thirsty come; and let the one who wishes take the free gift of the water of life.” We all can accept the “free gift of the water of life.”

It is not a matter of you are in and you are out but all have the offer to “come.”

D. L. Moody addressed a large group of skeptics. He said, “I want to talk about the word BELIEVE, the word RECEIVE, and the word TAKE.” When Mr. Moody had finished his sermon, he asked, “Now who will come and take Christ as Saviour?” One man stood and said, “I can’t.”
Mr. Moody wept and said, “Don’t say, ‘I can’t.’ Say, ‘I won’t’!”
And, the man said, “Then, I won’t!” But, another man said, “I will!” Then, another said, “I will!” And, another said, “I will!” Until scores came to trust Christ as Saviour (Hutson n.d.)

clip_image002[3] Some Calvinists object, using John 6:44 as the stumbling block: “No one can come to me unless the Father who sent me draws them, and I will raise them up at the last day.”

They need to read further to John 12:32, “And I, when I am lifted up[2] from the earth, will draw all people to myself.” That happened at the cross and his ascension. So, all people are drawn to Christ. Why don’t they accept and come? For the reasons stated above: “You were not willing.” Free will is critical to life’s response to Jesus.

See my article: What is the nature of human free will? 

Calvinists, free will and a better alternative

clip_image002[4] Creation calls every sinner. See Rom 1:19-20, “Since what may be known about God is plain to them, because God has made it plain to them. For since the creation of the world God’s invisible qualities – his eternal power and divine nature – have been clearly seen, being understood from what has been made, so that people are without excuse.”

clip_image002[5] Conscience calls all people. See Rom 2:11-16 (NIV),

11 For God does not show favouritism.

12 All who sin apart from the law will also perish apart from the law, and all who sin under the law will be judged by the law. 13 For it is not those who hear the law who are righteous in God’s sight, but it is those who obey the law who will be declared righteous. 14 (Indeed, when Gentiles, who do not have the law, do by nature things required by the law, they are a law for themselves, even though they do not have the law. 15 They show that the requirements of the law are written on their hearts, their consciences also bearing witness, and their thoughts sometimes accusing them and at other times even defending them.) 16 This will take place on the day when God judges people’s secrets through Jesus Christ, as my gospel declares.

Defects in Unconditional Election[3]

John Calvin wrote:

Not all men are created with similar destiny but eternal life is foreordained for some, and eternal damnation for others. Every man, therefore, being created for one or the other of these ends, we say, he is predestined either to life or to death (Calvin Bk III, ch 23)

Calvin left no doubt. Some people are predestined to heaven while others are foreordained to eternal damnation.

I find this to be a damnable doctrine that discriminates against certain people – with eternal consequences.

Hutson stated:

I have often said, “Did it ever occur to you that nothing ever occurred to God?” God in His foreknowledge knows who will trust Jesus Christ as Saviour, and He has predestined to see that they are justified and glorified. He will keep all those who trust Him and see that they are glorified. But, the doctrine that God elected some men to Hell, that they were born to be damned by God’s own choice, is a radical heresy not taught anywhere in the Bible.

We know this is the case because of the statement in 1 Peter 1:1-2,

Peter, an apostle of Jesus Christ,

To God’s elect, exiles, scattered throughout the provinces of Pontus, Galatia, Cappadocia, Asia and Bithynia, 2 who have been chosen according to the foreknowledge of God the Father, through the sanctifying work of the Spirit, to be obedient to Jesus Christ and sprinkled with his blood:

Grace and peace be yours in abundance.

Christians are chosen, according to God’s foreknowledge “to be obedient to Jesus Christ and sprinkled with his blood.” Notice it does not say this election is to eternal life or eternal damnation but “to be obedient to Jesus Christ.

Another verse that promotes election, based on foreknowledge is Rom 8:28-30:

And we know that in all things God works for the good of those who love him, who have been called according to his purpose. 29 For those God foreknew he also predestined to be conformed to the image of his Son, that he might be the firstborn among many brothers and sisters. 30 And those he predestined, he also called; those he called, he also justified; those he justified, he also glorified.

This is predestination, based on foreknowledge, but it is predestination “to be conformed to the image of his Son.

Calvinists love to cherry-pick portions of some verses:

Mr Hutson introduced me to Vic Lockman, a Calvinist, who wrote a book, TULIP, in which he promoted that theology by quoting these verses:

clip_image004 He hath chosen us in him before the foundation of the world…” (Eph 1:4) but he did not quote the entire verse which reads: “”According as he hath chosen us in him before the foundation of the world, that we should be holy and without blame before Him in love.”

The verse has nothing to do with eternal salvation or damnation but election to “be holy and without blame before Him in love.” It is an abomination to see what this Calvinist has done with this verse. He does it again with this verse:

clip_image004[1] Lockman quoted John 15:6, “Ye have not chosen me, but I have chosen you…” He has played the shortcut trick by cutting the verse in two. The whole verse reads, “Ye have not chosen me, but I have chosen you, and ordained you, that ye should go and bring forth fruit, and that your fruit should remain: that whatsoever ye shall ask of the Father in my name, he may give it you.”

Again, this verse has nothing to do with eternal salvation or eternal damnation but chosen to “bring forth fruit, and that your fruit should remain.”

This is God’s will:

clip_image004[2] Second Peter 3:9, “The Lord is not slow in keeping his promise, as some understand slowness. Instead he is patient with you, not wanting anyone to perish, but everyone to come to repentance.”

Surely this is one of the toughest verses for Calvinists to avoid! See my article, How a Calvinist can distort the meaning of 2 Peter 3:9.

clip_image004[3] John 3:36, “Whoever believes in the Son has eternal life, but whoever rejects the Son will not see life, for God’s wrath remains on them.”

It’s important to note that “believes” and “has” are both present tense verbs. “Whoever continues to reject” and “God’s wrath continues to remain.” The meaning is that of continuous action. The interpretation is: “Whoever continues to believe in the Son continues to have eternal life.” If you continue to reject the Son, God’s wrath continues to remain on you.

The most balanced view of the Calvinist vs Arminian debate I have read is by the late Norman Geisler: Chosen But Free: A Balanced View of Divine Election, 2nd ed.

See also my articles:

clip_image006 Sproul damns Arminianism by association with semi-Pelagianism

clip_image006[1] Is any flavor of Arminianism promoting error?

clip_image006[2] Salvation is a work of God and human beings: More misinformation about Arminianism

clip_image006[3] Do Arminians believe in election and total depravity?

clip_image006[4] Sent to hell by God: Calvinism in action?

clip_image006[5] This was a false charge against Arminians: ‘God does not hate’

clip_image006[6] Controversies over John 10:28 and once saved always saved (OSAS)

clip_image006[7] Blatant misrepresentation of Arminians by Calvinists

clip_image006[8] This was a false charge against Arminians: ‘God does not hate’

clip_image006[9] Stutters on the stairway: Arminianism vs Calvinism (eternal security)

clip_image006[10] Some Calvinistic antagonism towards Arminians

clip_image006[11] An Arminian view of faith in Christ

Works consulted

Arminius, J. 1977. The writings of James Arminius, vol. 1, Public disputations of Arminius, Disputation 11 (On the free will of man and its powers), 523-531. Grand Rapids, Michigan: Baker Book House. Available at: Works of James Arminius, Vol. 1 – Christian Classics Ethereal Library (Accessed 8 October 2018).

Calvin, John Institutes of the Christian Religion, Christian Classics Ethereal Library.

Geisler, Norman 2001. Chosen But Free: A Balanced View of Divine Election, 2nd ed. Minneapolis, Minnesota: Bethany House Publishers.

Hutson, Curtis n.d. “Why I Disagree with All Five Points of Calvinism.”

Notes


[1] The rebuttal is based on points made by Hutson (n.d.).

[2] Or, exalted.

[3] Insights from Hutson (n.d.)

Copyright © 2021 Spencer D. Gear. This document last updated at Date: 07 October 2021.

One God, one Spirit, one Son

Kangaroo With Sunset Australia Outback

(image courtesy PublicDomainPictures.net)

By Spencer D Gear PhD

“brakelite” wrote:[1]

The Bible tells us that there is one God. The Bible also tells us there is one spirit. Now God is spirit. Yet the Bible also speaks of the Spirit of God, and the spirit of Christ. Do they have a spirit each? So if God is spirit, and the father and son both have spirits…

I do wish you would reference your statements with biblical quotes (with an Aussie accent, of course). I’ll try to examine this:

The doctrine of God

  1. ‘There is one God’ (Isa 44:6, NIV):

This is what the LORD says—?Israel’s King and Redeemer, the LORD Almighty: I am the first and I am the last; apart from me there is no God’. There are many verses like this throughout the OT, some comparing the one true God with the other gods. How does this one God act in the universe?’

  1. ‘There is one Spirit’ (1 Cor 12:13 NIV):

    ‘For we were all baptized by one Spirit so as to form one body–whether Jews or Gentiles, slave or free–and we were all given the one Spirit to drink’. Obviously this refers to the one Holy Spirit, one member of the Trinity.

  1. ‘God is spirit’ (John 4:24 ESV)

    , ‘God is spirit, and those who worship him must worship in spirit and truth’.) The one God cannot be seen in a body as he is an unseen spirit. Notice the translator have spelled “spirit” without a capital “Spirit.”

We also have statements about:

  1. ‘The Spirit of God’ (1 Cor 3:16 ESV),

    “Do you not know that you[2] are God’s temple and that God’s Spirit dwells in you?” This plural for “you” has led to translations such as the NIV, “Don’t you know that you yourselves are God’s temple and that God’s Spirit dwells in your midst?” What an amazing reality that God’s Spirit lives among Christians.

  1. We are taught about “

    The Spirit of Christ (1 Pet 1:10-11 NET):

Concerning this salvation, the prophets who predicted the grace that would come to you searched and investigated carefully. They probed into what person or time the Spirit of Christ within them was indicating when he testified beforehand about the sufferings appointed for Christ and his subsequent glory.

So the OT prophets had the Spirit of Christ in them directing their writings and predictions concerning how salvation would come. The human Christ had not been born but His Spirit was within the prophets predicting the person and time of Christ’s sufferings.

Here we have specific actions by the Spirit of Christ.

  1. Does each person have a spirit if the Father and Son both are spirits and these spirits live in believers (1 Cor 3:16)?

As has been discussed, the soul and spirit in people is used interchangeably in biblical exposition (see below). The spirit tends to be the language when discussing how individuals communicate with God.

The doctrine of human beings

There are two main views: Trichotomy and Dichotomy

Trichotomy

The trichotomous view states that human beings consist of three distinct parts, body, soul, and spirit. “The body is the material part of our constitution; the soul is the principle of animal life; and the spirit is the principle of our rational life” (Thiessen 1949:226).

Soul

What biblical support is there for this position? Some theologians rely on Gen 2:7 (KJV): “And the LORD God formed man of the dust of the ground, and breathed into his nostrils the breath of life; and man became a living soul.” However, contemporary Bible versions, including the NKJV, translate “soul” more accurately: “And the LORD God formed man of the dust of the ground, and breathed into his nostrils the breath of life; and man became a living being.”

Soul (nephesh in Heb., psuche in Greek) in the Bible is often used of more than the spiritual dimension, e.g. Gen 2:7; Ps 16:10. However, the soul is distinguished from the body in a passage such as Gen 35:18 (ESV), “And as her [Rachel’s] soul was departing (for she was dying), she called his name Ben-oni; but his father called him Benjamin.”

However, 1 Thess 5:23 (ESV) differentiates soul from the body: “Now may the God of peace himself sanctify you completely, and may your whole spirit and soul and body be kept blameless at the coming of our Lord Jesus Christ.”

Thiessen’s exposition is observed:

We note, however that it is not said that man became spirit and soul; but rather, that God “inbreathed spirit, and man became a living soul, i.e., God’s life took possession of clay, and as a result man had a soul” (quoting Strong’s Systematic Theology, p. 483 in Thiessen 1949:226).

Let’s summarise. “Soul’s” basic meaning is “life” and refers to “the principle of life in a human being, or to that which animates the body. . . . The primary meaning of soul can most often be captured best by translating it as person, which usually is embodied but is sometimes disembodied” (Geisler 2004:46-47).

Spirit

The word is from the Hebrew ruach and the Greek, pneuma. ‘Almost always [it] refers to “the immaterial dimension of a human being.” It is often used interchangeably with the word soul, as is indicated in many verses (e.g., cf. Luke 1:46). The body without the soul is dead (James 2:26); at death, Jesus “bowed his head and gave up his spirit” (John 19:30).’ (Geisler 2004:47).

So, spirit is immaterial. Remember what Jesus said to his disciples, recorded in Luke 24:38-39 (ESV):

And he [Jesus] said to them, “Why are you troubled, and why do doubts arise in your hearts? See my hands and my feet, that it is I myself. Touch me, and see. For a spirit does not have flesh and bones as you see that I have.”

Dichotomy

As ‘di’ indicates two, the dichotomous theory is that

The immaterial part of man [is] viewed as an individual and conscious life, capable of possessing and animating a physical organism, is called psuche; viewed as a rational and moral agent, susceptible of divine influence and indwelling, this same immaterial part is called pneuma. The pneuma, then, is man’s nature looking Godward, and capable of receiving and manifesting the Pneuma hagion [Holy Spirit], the psuche is man’s nature looking earthward, and touching the world of sense. The pneuma is man’s highest part, as related to spiritual realities or as capable of such relation; the psuche is man’s higher part, as related to the body, or as capable of such relation. Man’s being therefore is not trichotomous but dichotomous, and his material part, whial possessing duality of powers, has unity of substance (Strong 1903:486, in Thiessen 1949:225-226).

This theology is backed up by the following biblical facts:

clip_image002 God breathed into the first human beings only one principle – the living soul (Gen 2:7).

clip_image002[1] The terms “soul” and “spirit” seem to be used interchangeably in some references (see Gen 41:8; Ps 42:6 Jn 12:27; Jn 13:21; Matt 20:28; 27:50; Heb 12:23, and Rev 6”9)/

clip_image002[2] “Spirit” and “soul” are applied to brute creatures (e.g. (Eccl 3:21; Rev 16:3).

clip_image002[3] “Soul” is ascribed to Jehovah at Amos 6:8; Jer 9:9; Isa 42:1; 53:10-12; Heb 10:38.

clip_image002[4] Body and soul/spirit constitute the whole of a human being, e.g. Matt 10:28; 1 Cor 5:3; 3 John 2.

clip_image002[5] To lose the soul is to lose everything, e.g. Matt 16:26; Mk 8:36-37 (Thiessen 1949:226).

See my articles:

Flower10 What is the nature of the spirit?

Flower10 Unpacking 1 Thessalonians 5:23

Flower10 What’s the difference between soul and spirit?

Hebrews 4:12

One of the key verses that troubles this discussion is Heb 4:12 (ESV):

For the word of God is living and active, sharper than any two-edged sword, piercing to the division of soul and of spirit, of joints and of marrow, and discerning the thoughts and intentions of the heart.

This is the Mounce Interlinear translation (I hope you can discern between the Greek and English:

For gar the ho word logos of ho God theos is living za? and kai effective energ?s, · kai sharper tomos than hyper any pas two-edged distomos sword machaira, · kai cutting through diikneomai so as to achri divide merismos soul psych? from kai spirit pneuma, joints harmos from kai marrow myelos. It is even kai able to discern kritikos the thoughts enthum?sis and kai deliberations ennoia of the heart kardia.

What does it mean that God’s Word can pierce human soul and spirit? This seems to suggest the soul and spirit can be clearly differentiated. Is that the meaning?

As Alford has stated in his Greek-based commentary,

The logos pierces to the dividing, not of the psuche from the pneuma, but of the psuche itself and of the pneuma itself: the former being the lower portion of man’s invisible part, which he has in common with the brutes. . . . the latter the higher portion, receptive of the Spirit of God . . . both which are pierced and divided by the sword of the Spirit, the word of God. . . . and on the other hand, the harmoi and mueloi could not be thus said to be separated, having never been in contact with one another (Alford: Hebrews 4:12).[3]

Therefore, “it is probable we should think of human beings’ immaterial nature to be composed of a lower and higher portion (Alford on Heb. 4:12).” Thiessen prefers Strong’s language of “higher and lower power”(Thiessen 1949:227).

We are still left with the meaning of logos in Heb 4:12. Does the “word of God” refer to Scriptures, the messages received through meditating on Scriptures, or the subjective word (intuition) received by individuals? This word of God is an “authentic command” that is not just a sharp sword but also “a two-edged sword,” that occur several times in the OT. The language of ‘piercing even to the dividing of soul and spirit, of both joints and marrow”—is to be understood as a “rhetorical accumulation” to express the whole mental nature of man on all its sides”’ (Bruce 1964:81-82).

Conclusion

The human constitution is that of body and soul/spirit. Soul and spirit are often used interchangeably, but the soul can refer to bodily life while the spirit focuses on the relationship of the person with God. My examination of the biblical material favors a dichotomous conclusion.

Hebrews 4:12 identifies the “word of God” as God speaking to the whole human being. There is no sense of soul and spirit being divided as they weren’t joined in the first place.

Works consulted

Alford, Henry. Greek Testament Critical Exegetical Commentary, Hebrews, StudyLight.org, https://www.studylight.org/commentaries/eng/hac/hebrews-4.html.

Bruce, F F 1964. The Epistle to the Hebrews (The New International Commentary on the New Testament, F F Bruce gen ed). Grand Rapids, Michigan: Wm. B. Eerdmans Publishing Co.

Geisler, N 2004. Systematic theology: Sin, salvation, vol 3. Minneapolis, Minnesota: BethanyHouse.

Strong, Augustus Hopkins 1903. Systematic Theology (3 vols), public domain: http://www.ntslibrary.com/PDF%20Books%20II/Strong%20-%20Systematic%20Theology.pdf.

Thiessen, H C 1949. Introductory Lectures in Systematic Theology. Grand Rapids, Michigan: Wm. B. Eerdmans Publishing Company. Also available online at: http://media.sabda.org/alkitab-2/PDF%20Books/00045%20Thiessen%20Lectures%20in%20Systematic%20Theology.pdf.

Notes


[1] #1471 at: https://www.christianityboard.com/threads/trinity-vs-tritheism-understanding-the-trinity.27750/page-74 (Accessed 18 July 2019).

[2] “The Greek for you is plural in verses 16 and 17” (ESV footnote).

[3] This editing and transliteration of the Greek words were given by Thiessen (1949:227).

Copyright © 2021 Spencer D. Gear. This document last updated at Date: 07 October 2021.