How a KJV-only supporter stuffed up biblical interpretation

(photo courtesy Wikipedia)

By Spencer D Gear PhD

How do we communicate Scripture to a world that does not speak like this?

Loo! a virgyne ?hal haue in wombe, and ?he ?hal bere a ?one, and his name ?hal be clepid Emanuel, þat is interpretid, or expounid, God wiþ us. Soþely Jo?eph ry?ynge vp fro ?leep, did as þe angel of þe Lord comaundide hym, and toke his wijf; and he knewe hir nat, til ?he had boren hir fir?t bygoten ?one, and clepide his name Jhe?us (Early Wycliffe Bible, Maþeu, Capitulum I:23).[1]

This is how I got into trouble by quoting a contemporary Bible translation in place of the King James Version (KJV):

17 For forty days the floodwaters grew deeper, covering the ground and lifting the boat high above the earth. 18 As the waters rose higher and higher above the ground, the boat floated safely on the surface. 19 Finally, the water covered even the highest mountains on the earth, 20 rising more than twenty-two feet above the highest peaks (Gen 7:11-20 NLT).[2]

What is wrong with that contemporary translation?[3] It is:

A false, altered version which adds to God’s Truth. Here is the KJV,

Gen 7:17 And the flood was forty days upon the earth; and the waters increased, and bare up the ark, and it was lift up above the earth.
The “add to” in your version is in lifting the boat high above earth. The altered view preacher is getting ready to put his thoughts into God’s words.
Gen 7:18 And the waters prevailed, and were increased greatly upon the earth; and the ark went upon the face of the waters.
The water deepened and the Ark floated on the water. Your version agrees.
Gen 7:19 And the waters prevailed exceedingly upon the earth; and all the high hills, that were under the whole heaven, were covered.
The “add to” here is claiming the highest mountains were covered instead of the high hills.
Gen 7:20 Fifteen cubits upward did the waters prevail; and the mountains were covered.
The “add to” here is that the flood was 22.5 feet ABOVE the “mountain peaks” and the less altered version shows that Adam’s FLAT Earth was covered when the flood reached a depth of 22.5 feet PERIOD. No wonder so many people are confused when they read what they THINK was written. That’s religion/belief and not Scripture.

How should I respond to this KJV-only supporter? I took up only one verse, Genesis 7:17.

1.  KJV-only promoter relies on KJV as his standard of measuring an accurate Bible translation.

Let’s check the Scripture to see if he is correct in his correction of me for adding to God’s truth.

He spoke of ‘Adam’s FLAT Earth’.[4] I asked him to please prove that from Genesis 6-7. I’m waiting with baited breath! It hasn’t come yet.
You complain about the modern translation I used, New Living Translation, adding to the Bible with ‘high’ in Gen 7:17. By the way, the KJV you quoted is not the original KJV of 1611 (which I’ll quote below) but probably a parallel to the 1769 revision. Why is he not using the 1611 edition as the standard by which to judge all other translations?

2.  Various English translations

Let’s examine various English translations of Genesis 7:17:

Green_AtomWycliffe’s Bible appeared 2 centuries BEFORE the KJV of 1611: ‘And the greet flood was maad fourti daies and fourti niytis on erthe, and the watris weren multiplied, and reiseden the schip on hiy fro erthe’.
Green_AtomThe Great Bible (BEFORE KJV): ‘And the floude came fortye dayes vpon the earth, & the waters were increaced, and bare vp the Arke, whiche was lyfte vp aboue the erth’.
Green_AtomBishops’ Bible (BEFORE KJV): ‘And the fludde came fourtie dayes vpon the earth, and the waters were increased, and bare vp the arke, whiche was lyft vp aboue the earth’.

1609 Doway Old Testament.pdf
Green_AtomDouay-Rheims Bible was BEFORE the KJV: ‘And the flood was forty days upon the earth: and the waters increased, and lifted up the ark on high from the earth.
Green_AtomThe Geneva Bible (BEFORE KJV) with modern spelling, ‘Then the flood was forty days upon the earth, and the waters were increased, and bare up the Ark, which was lifted up above the earth’.
Green_AtomThe Coverdale Bible (BEFORE KJV): ‘Then came the water floude fourtie dayes vpon the earth, and the water increased, and bare vp the Arcke, and lift it vp ouer ye earth’.
Green_AtomKJV of 1611, ‘And the Flood was fortie dayes vpon the earth, and the waters increased, and bare vp the Arke, and it was lift vp aboue the earth’.
Green_AtomNKJV: ‘Now the flood was on the earth forty days. The waters increased and lifted up the ark, and it rose high above the earth’.
Green_AtomESV: ‘The flood continued forty days on the earth. The waters increased and bore up the ark, and it rose high above the earth’
Green_AtomNRSV: ‘The flood continued for forty days on the earth; and the waters increased, and bore up the ark, and it rose high above the earth’.
Green_AtomNLT: ‘For forty days the floodwaters grew deeper, covering the ground and lifting the boat high above the earth’.
Green_AtomNIRV: ‘For 40 days the flood kept coming on the earth. As the waters rose higher, they lifted the ark high above the earth’.
Green_AtomNET: ‘The flood engulfed the earth for forty days. As the waters increased, they lifted the ark and raised it above the earth’.
Notice the difference between the KJV and the NKJV. Why has the KJV translated as ‘lift vp aboue‘ and the NKJV, ‘rose high above‘? It’s because that’s the meaning of the Hebrew. The modern versions convey it in a clearer way. It’s really the formal equivalence translation of the KJV (1611) that has left out the ‘high’. It is NOT that the modern translations have added ‘high’, but they have given us an accurate rendition into English of what the Hebrew language means for this verse.

3.  High on rûm

Hebrew scholar, H C Leupold, explained the meaning of ‘lift vp aboue‘ vs. ‘rose high above‘. His exegesis from the Hebrew language of this verse was,

Naturally “the waters mounted” (rabbah?”grew great”). It was not long before sufficient water was displaced to “lift up” (nasa’) the ark. So it “went high” (rûm?“be high“) above the earth (Leupold, 1942, Exposition of Genesis 7:17).?

Therefore, it is the KJV and earlier translations – except the Douay-Rheims – and your support for the KJV translation of Gen 7:17 – that demonstrates that it is the KJV and you that got it wrong with the translation of the Hebrew, rûm, in Gen 7:17. It means ‘be high’ and ‘high’ must be in the English translation of the Hebrew OR some word that is a synonym of ‘high’.

4.  A word to KJV-only supporters

I do wish KJV-only supporters like yourself would get your facts straight about the exegesis of the biblical text. Your accusation against me regarding Gen 7:17, that I used an ‘altered version which adds to God’s Truth’, is untrue. This was a false allegation. Shame on you!

This was an example of a Christian who delivered a red herring fallacy against me. What does a red herring fallacy do to a conversation? It is

attempting to redirect the argument to another issue to which the person doing the redirecting can better respond. While it is similar to the avoiding the issue fallacy, the red herring is a deliberate diversion of attention with the intention of trying to abandon the original argument.[5]

5.  A better example

What has happened in this exchange with me is that this person assumes the KJV is the standard of Bible translations and any changing of the wording of a phrase or ‘adding’ of a word that opposes the KJV, is an example of adding to Scripture.

A better example would be to follow Paul’s instructions in 2 Tim 2:15 (NIRV), ‘Do your best to please God. Be a worker who doesn’t need to be ashamed. Teach the message of truth correctly’. Other translations of the last sentence are, ‘rightly handling the word of truth’ (ESV) and ‘teaching the message of truth accurately’ (NET).

Which Bible translations are inspired or breathed out by God? Second Timothy 3:16-17 (NIV) states:

‘All Scripture is God-breathed and is useful for teaching, rebuking, correcting and training in righteousness, so that the servant of God may be thoroughly equipped for every good work’.

Or, if you prefer the KJV of 1611, 2 Tim 3:16-17 reads:

All Scripture is giuen by inspiration of God, & is profitable for doctrine, for reproofe, for correction, for instrution in righteousnesse,

That the man of God may be perfect, throughly furnished vnto all good workes.

This is the 1383 Wycliffe translation of these verses:

For al scripture inspirid of God is profitable to teche, to repreue, to chastice, to lerne in riytwisnes, that the man of God be parfit, lerud to al good werk (John Wycliffe’s Translation).

I prefer the NIV which translates more accurately the archaic into modern English.

6.  Which Bible is inspired by God?

Is it the KJV of 1611, the NIV of the twenty-first century or some other translation?

None of these translations is God-breathed. Only the original manuscripts are inspired by God. In fact when 2 Tim 3:16-17 was written it is highly probable ‘all Scripture’ refers to the OT only.

Evangelical theologian Wayne Grudem explained:

Here “Scripture” (graphe) must refer to the Old Testament written Scripture, for that is what the word graphe refers to in every one of its fifty-one occurrences in the New Testament.[6] Further, the “sacred Scriptures to which Paul has just referred to in verse 16.

Paul here affirms that all of the Old Testament writings are theopneustos, “breathed out by God.” Since it is writings that are said to be “breathed out,” this breathing must be understood as a metaphor for speaking the words of Scripture. This verse thus states in brief form what was evident in many passages in the Old Testament: the Old Testament writings are regarded as God’s Word in written form (Grudem 1994:74-75).

By implication, this does not refer to Old Testament translations but to the original documents of the OT.

So, who is adding to or subtracting from Scripture? The 1611 KJV added verses such as Mark 16:9-20 and the Apocrypha. So who is adding to Scripture?

For a list of the verses supposedly added by modern Bible translations, see: List of New Testament verses not included in modern English translations.

That’s not what modern translators have. The oldest surviving NT manuscript of the entire NT is Codex Sinaiticus:

Codex Sinaiticus is one of the most important books in the world. Handwritten well over 1600 years ago, the manuscript contains the Christian Bible in Greek, including the oldest complete copy of the New Testament. Its heavily corrected text is of outstanding importance for the history of the Bible and the manuscript – the oldest substantial book to survive Antiquity – is of supreme importance for the history of the book (Codex Sinaiticus).

It includes many variants (like typos) when compared with other early MSS but the variants do not change any major Bible doctrines.

7.  Works consulted

Grudem, W 1994. Systematic theology. Grand Rapids, Michigan: Zondervan Publishing House.

8.  Notes


[1] This is the Bible, translated by John Wycliffe from the Latin Vulgate in the 1380s, Matt 1:23. Available at: https://en.wikisource.org/wiki/Bible_(Early_Wycliffe)/Ma%C3%BEeu#Capitulum_I (Accessed 25 December 2017). At this stage in Bible format, there were chapter divisions but no verse divisions in the English Bible.

The first English New Testament to use the verse divisions was a 1557 translation by William Whittingham (c. 1524–1579). The first Bible in English to use both chapters and verses was the Geneva Bible published shortly afterwards in 1560. These verse divisions soon gained acceptance as a standard way to notate verses, and have since been used in nearly all English Bibles and the vast majority of those in other languages (Wikipedia 2017. Chapters and verses of the Bible. Available at: https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Chapters_and_verses_of_the_Bible#cite_ref-5 (Accessed 25 December2017).

[2] Christian Forums.com 2017. Proving evolution is just a theory. OzSpen#6099. Available at: https://www.christianforums.com/threads/proving-evolution-as-just-a-theory.8028023/page-305 (Accessed 23 December 2017).

[3] Ibid., Aman777#6145. He wrote the KJV quotes in blue font.

[4] This was the phrase of Aman777 in ibid., #6145.

[5] Logically Fallacious (2017. s v red herring). Available at: https://www.logicallyfallacious.com/tools/lp/Bo/LogicalFallacies/150/Red_Herring (Accessed 23 December 2017).

[6] Grudem notes, ‘In at least two cases, 1 Tim. 5:18 and 2 Peter 3:16, graphe also includes some of the New Testament writings along with the Old Testament writings that it is referring to’ (Grudem 1984:74, n. 4).

Copyright © 2019 Spencer D. Gear. This document last updated at Date: 15 September 2019.

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Is reincarnation taught in the Bible?

(Reincarnation in Hindu Art, image courtesy Wikipedia)

Spencer D Gear PhD

It is not unusual to encounter people (Christians) on Christian forums who claim they believe in reincarnation and state they are Christians. They try to defend their views from reinterpretation of Scriptures such as Hebrews 9:27.

1.  What is reincarnation?

Reincarnation refers to the indestructible soul, but not in the presence of the Lord God Almighty.

The Western definition of death is known as “the irreversible cessation of all vital functions especially as indicated by permanent stoppage of the heart, respiration, and brain activity”. Although this is true to define the end of someone’s life, there are many who believe that there is more to life even after death. Those who worship Hinduism believe that death does not necessarily mean the end. They follow the idea of reincarnation which means that the soul is indestructible and repeatedly takes on a physical body until moksha. Moksha is a term in Hinduism which refers to the various forms of liberation or release which occurs when the cycle of dying and rebirth ends. It is the central concept in Hindu tradition and included as one of the four main goals in human life (Reincarnation in Hinduism).[1]

So reincarnation involves death of the physical body, taking on a new body and this happens over and over with a cycle of dying and rebirth.

2.  An encounter with a Christian reincarnationist

clip_image004 Of Hebrews 9:27, his view was it is used

‘almost universally as the Scripture that refutes reincarnation. “And as it is appointed for men to die once, but after this the judgment,…“. For a long time, I could not resolve Scripture with my personal experience. Then it hit me – that passage does not necessarily say that men only live once. It may only say that after every lifetime, there is a mandatory judgment (some call it a “life review”). The phrasing is a bit clumsy; perhaps it is even intentionally so?
There are Christians who believe in reincarnation. I guess I’m one of them’.
[2]

Issues emerging from that comment include:

  • Heb 9:27 is one verse used to refute reincarnation but there are many others that teach what happens at death for believer and non-believer.
  • Scripture and personal experience clashed but he got himself out of the bind by reinterpreting Scripture according to a reincarnation view. This means:
  • Another world view determined this theology and he was not listening to biblical content.
  • Men don’t die only once. After every lifetime (over and over is inferred)), compulsory judgment follows judgment.
  • His reincarnation theology does not stop him from being Christian.

clip_image004[1]Again: ‘Yes, but my point is that Hebrews 9:27 does not necessarily say we only die once, it may say (paraphrasing) that for every death there is a separate judgment. In other words, suppose you had 6 successive lives- after each death, there is a mandatory judgment. 6 lives, 6 judgments’.[3]

Concerns again from this comment:

   clip_image004[2]Heb 9:27 doesn’t necessarily say dying only once. How does he know that?

 clip_image004[3]How does he know that it may mean 6 successive lives are followed by deaths and 6 judgments?

clip_image004[4]He reiterated, ‘Begging to differ, but it does not say “only”‘.[4]

He’s moved in Heb 9:27 from ‘does not necessarily say that men only live once. It may only say that after every lifetime’, to …

‘it does not say “only”’.

3.  Some orthodox Jews teach reincarnation

These are examples.

Eminent Jewish scholar and researcher, Rabbi Yehuda Shurpin serves as content editor at Chabad.org, and writes the popular weekly Ask Rabbi Y column. Shurpin is the rabbi of the Chabad Shul in St. Louis Park, Minn. (USA)

In one of his columns, he wrote:

Every descent of the soul into this world has a specific Divine purpose. This is the case whether it is the soul’s first descent or a subsequent reincarnation. There are many aspects of gilgul haneshamot—reincarnation of the soul—that are complex and intricate beyond the scope of this response’ (Why & When Does Reincarnation Occur?)

Vector image of reincarnation The situation becomes more bizarre with his referral to …

the Lubavitcher Rebbe, Rabbi Menachem Mendel Schneerson, of righteous memory, explains that only reincarnations into human beings is limited to “three strikes and you are out.” These souls can still continue to be reincarnated, first as kosher animals, and then, in decreasing order, as non-kosher animals, plants, and even eventually as inanimate objects, as long as the need exists.[5]

He turned to Rabbi Yeshaya HaLevi Horowitz, as provided by the Kabbalists, in his classic work Shnei Luchot HaBrit (Shaloh) for an explanation of why reincarnation was needed in the Jewish world. The three reasons are:

1. There are some sins for which the cleansing in the spiritual realm alone does not suffice. Thus souls who have sinned and have not properly repented whilst alive, are sometimes forced to undergo a second round of life in this world as rehabilitation for sins previously committed….

2. Reincarnation provides an opportunity for souls to perform those commandments that they were unable to do in a previous incarnation….

3. There are some souls who do not descend for their own growth or perfection. Rather, the only reason they return to this earth is to benefit others. This can be to help out an individual or the entire generation, spiritually or materially (Horowitz in Shurpin).

It is important for the emphases of my article to note that Shurpin provided not a shred of biblical evidence to support his view.

My Jewish Learning website has an article by Rabbi Louis Jacobs[6] who is (What Judaism says about reincarnation) is unafraid to denounce reincarnation: ‘there are no references to the idea in the Bible or the Talmud , and it was unknown in Judaism until the eighth century CE, when it began to be adopted by the Karaites [a sectarian Jewish group] (possibly, it has been suggested, under the influence of Islamic mysticism)’.

Rabbi Louis Jacobs said: ‘Some modern Jews are attracted to the occult and believe in reincarnation. Otherwise the doctrine has had its day, and is believed in by very few modern Jews, although hardly any Orthodox Jew today will positively denounce the doctrine’.[7]

4.  Biblical reincarnation is Greek to me.

I asked this person on the Christian forum: Do you read NT Greek? If you do,

you will know that the Greek uses hapax in Heb 9:27, ‘it is appointed for people to die hapax‘. What is the meaning of hapax? Does it mean to die multiple times, 10 times, twice or once?[8] I was trying to get out of him how he KNEW Heb 9:27 did mean one or only once.

How did he know that it doesn’t include the meaning of ‘only’ when you don’t read and understand Greek? Let’s check the leading Greek lexicon, Bauer, Arndt & Gingrich (1957:89) which gives the meaning of hapax:

clip_image006  ‘As an actual numerical concept, ‘I was stoned once’ (2 Cor 11:25); in Heb 9:26 we have the Greek phrase phanero? hapax, speaking of Jesus ‘has appeared once’ – numerically.

clip_image008  BAG includes this example under the ‘actual numerical concept of once’ = once only. Why did Jesus appear this one time? Verse 26 states: ‘to do away with sin by the sacrifice of himself’. He came only once, hapax, to do that. How often was Jesus sacrificed for sin? The same number of times a person dies (in v. 27) – only once.

clip_image010  BAG again places hapax as an ‘actual numerical concept of once’ in Heb 9:28: ‘prospher? hapax eis anapher? hamartia‘ = offered once to bear sins.

So the once in Heb 9:27 means one time only, numerically. There is no second time death and rebirth over and over. Reincarnation is not taught in Scripture.

So Jesus paid the price for sin only once, just as human beings die only once. A. T. Robertson, the leading Greek scholar of the 20th century, stated: ‘Once for all to die, as once for all to live here. No reincarnation here’ (Word Pictures in the New Testament, vol 5, p. 404).

In Job 16:22 (NLT), Job spoke of his death: ‘For soon I must go down that road from which I will never return’. There is no hint of reincarnation here. What could be clearer than Job 7:9-10 (NLT)?

Just as a cloud dissipates and vanishes,
those who die will not come back.
They are gone forever from their home—
never to be seen again.

Here are a couple articles that oppose transmigration of the soul in the Bible:

clip_image012Reincarnation in the Bible’;

clip_image012[1]What does the Bible say about reincarnation?

5.  Time for more Scripture twisting

Try this one for bending Scripture to make it fit one’s own preconceived ideas:

Speaking of Scripture, there is an interesting passing reference to what may be reincarnation. John 9:

As he went along, he saw a man blind from birth. 2 His disciples asked him, “Rabbi, who sinned, this man or his parents, that he was born blind?” 3 “Neither this man nor his parents sinned,” said Jesus, “but this happened so that the works of God might be displayed in him.”

The disciples ask Jesus if a man sinned before his birth. Thus it’s a question about reincarnation. They ask in a rather nonchalant way, as if it’s not even an unusual topic. The Lord answers it another way, but the argument goes that if there was no such thing, wouldn’t He have come right out and said, “There’s no such thing as reincarnation”?[9]

Another Jewish leader, Rabbi Menachem Posner, twists Scripture to make it support reincarnation:

These are not places which shout “reincarnation” in bold letters but they do form part of a greater picture.

Ecclesiastics 1:4: “A generation departs and a generation comes.” If this would refer to the normal flow of generations, a generation cannot come after the previous generation has gone. Rather this refers to the same soul(s) returning in consecutive lives.

Job 1:21: “Naked I left my mother’s womb and naked I shall return there.” Who comes back to their mom’s womb? Enter reincarnation.

These are just a few samples. There are a number of such places scattered throughout the Torah. The bulk of what we know about reincarnation is from the Oral Torah and these are just a few places where this dynamic is evident in an almost offhand manner in the written part.

The question remains though: Reincarnation is a major theological issue. Why is such a major issue not explicitly discussed in the Written Torah?[10]

The answer is simple. It is not found in the first five books of Moses (Torah) or the rest of the Old Testament. It is not a teaching of the New Testament. I’ve provided examples of Scripture twisting by Jewish leaders to try to make the OT fit with reincarnation. The end result is Scripture manipulation.

The fellow on that Christian forum was engaged in a similar kind of promotion of false doctrine while trying to make it look like he knew what he was talking about. The hapax factor found him out.

6.  Conclusion

Reincarnation is ‘the belief that the soul, upon death of the body, comes back to earth in another body or form’ (Dictionary.com 2019. s.v. reincarnation). It also is called rebirth and transmigration, referring to human being’s soul being reborn in another body. Hinduism and Buddhism believe in reincarnation.

The primary reason for reincarnation is ‘that a person may be reborn successively into one of five classes of living beings (god or human or animal or hungry ghost or denizen of Hell) depending on the person’s own actions’ (vocabulary.com n.d. s.v. reincarnation). This is designed to cleanse in the spiritual realm of sins not forgiven in the first life.

It was seen that a few orthodox Jews have engaged in, (a) invention of the doctrine, or (b) eisegesis of a couple OT texts to try to support OT reincarnation.

It was shown from the Greek hapax that there is no biblical validity in promotion of reincarnation as, ‘Everyone must die once. Then they are judged’ (Heb 9:27 ERV). Hapax refers to the numeral one or once.

Therefore, any kind of Christian or Jewish promotion of reincarnation is a hoax.

7.  Works consulted

Arndt, W F & Gingrich, F W 1957. A Greek-English lexicon of the New Testament and other early Christian literature.[11] Chicago: The University of Chicago Press (limited edition licensed to Zondervan Publishing House).

8.  Notes

[1] Cindy Cheng 2017. Anthropological Perspectives on Death (online), 17 February. Emory WordPress Sites.

[2] ChristianForums.net 2019. Why do so many Christian believers do not believe in the possibility of reincarnation? KevinK#8. Available at: https://christianforums.net/Fellowship/index.php?threads/why-do-so-many-christian-believers-do-not-believe-in-the-possibility-of-reincarnation.79566/ (Accessed 6 June 2019).

[3] Ibid., KevinK#10.

[4] Ibid., KevinK#14.

[5] Shurpin’s footnote at this point was:

There is, however, an important distinction between souls that reincarnate into human bodies and those that reincarnate into other creatures. When a human soul incarnates into an animal, it does so merely as an observer. That is to say that this creature is like any other creature of its kind, except that a reincarnated soul is trapped inside. The excruciating pain and sorrow the soul experiences while trapped inside the animal, forced to live and observe the life of this creature while powerless to control its behavior, serves to rehabilitate it.
Additionally, while this soul cannot really rehabilitate itself as it has no control over the action of the creature, it can sometimes be rehabilitated through the actions of others, for example, by someone reciting a blessing over it, if it is kosher (footnote 5, Why & When Does Reincarnation Occur?’)

[6] My Jewish Learning 2002-2019. What Judaism says about reincarnation. Available at:

[7] My Jewish Learning. What Judaism says about reincarnation. Available at: https://www.myjewishlearning.com/article/reincarnation-the-transmigration-of-a-jewish-idea/ (Accessed 14 September 2019).

[8] Ibid., OzSpen#24.

[9] KevinK#37. After this post, he made no posts regarding content of reincarnation.

[10] Menachem Posner 1993-2019. Where is reincarnation found in G?d’s word, as opposed to Man’s word? (online) Available at: https://www.chabad.org/library/article_cdo/aid/474456/jewish/Where-is-reincarnation-found-in-Gds-word.htm (Accessed 14 September 2019).

[11] This is ‘a translation and adaptation of Walter Bauer’s Griechisch-Deutsches Wörtbuch zu den Schriften des Neuen Testaments und der übrigen urchristlichen Literatur’, 4th rev and aug ed, 1952 (Arndt & Gingrich 1957:iii).

Copyright © 2019 Spencer D. Gear.This document last updated at Date: 14 September 2019

clip_image013

Is Natural Law unchangeable?

Image result for clipart Natural Law public domain

(image courtesy Clipart Library)

By Spencer D Gear PhD

How would you respond to this challenge?

Everyone on earth, in the civilized world, believes in the Natural Truth. A truth that is by its very nature accepted by everyone. The main reason for its acceptance is that it keeps the society in an orderly condition and avoids chaos.
I said in the civilized world because cannibals believe it is right to kill someone for their food; but they would still stop at killing each other for this purpose.
I believe some here, and I agree, are saying that today even the Natural Truth is being transgressed. Abortion, euthanasia are examples.
[1]

This person explained further:

I don’t know if I can say Christianity is the Truth because not everyone accepts it.
I CAN say that it is true. Why? Because no one else, Buddha, Krishna, etc. ever claimed to be God.

Also, there is the resurrection which I believe to be true because I trust the Apostles who said so.

Pilot asked Jesus “what is the truth”. Jesus did not reply because Pilot could not accept the truth, even though he was staring it in the face.

Pilot did not even accept the Natural Truth. Anyone who could crucify someone does not have the truth.

Whereas Jesus embodied the Truth. He was Natural Truth personified since HE wrote it![2]

1.  Who invented the Natural Law perspective?

The view that Natural Laws are immutable (unchangeable) was an argument against miracles that was popularised in the 1670s by Jewish pantheist, Benedict Spinoza.[3] As you may know, pantheism is the worldview that God is everything and everyone-everything is God.

Spinoza’s argument went like this:

  1. Miracles are violations of natural laws;
  2. Natural laws are immutable;
  3. It is impossible to violate immutable laws;
  4. So, miracles are impossible.

If we follow Spinoza’s philosophy/worldview, then natural laws cannot be overpowered and that puts an end to miracles.

The basic problem with Spinoza’s view of Natural Law is that it commits the begging the question fallacy or engages in circular reasoning. This fallacy includes the conclusion in its premises, directly or indirectly. It assumes the conclusion is true and places it in its presuppositions.

This is where Spinoza’s worldview needs to be exposed. His presupposition was that there is no theistic God who performs miracles because he was a pantheist and did not believe in the personal, theist Yahweh.

We know from the evidence of creation (whether one accepts it from Scripture or the Big Bang of science) that we have evidence of the greatest miracle of all in creation of the universe out of nothing. This example of the violation of Natural Law demonstrates that the Natural Law (miracle performed) is not immutable.

It has been put this way by Geisler & Turek:

We also know that natural laws are not immutable because they are descriptions of what happens, not prescriptions of what must happen. Natural laws don’t really cause anything, they only describe what regularly happens in nature. They describe the effects of the four known natural forces – gravitational, magnetism, and the strong and weak nuclear forces. Once you introduce intelligent beings into the picture, natural forces can be over powered. We know that those forces can be overpowered because we do so ourselves every day.
For example, when a baseball player catches a falling baseball, he is overpowering the force of gravity. We do the same whenever we fly planes or blast off into space. In such cases, gravity is not changed, it is simply overpowered. If finite beings like us can overpower natural forces, then certainly the infinite Being who created those forces can do so (Geisler & Turek 2004:204).?

After making this post online, the person dealing with Natural Law responded and stated she ‘was speaking to moral law’.[4]

2.  God does not change his mind.

The difference between Natural Law and moral laws is that universal moral laws are based on the nature of God and he is immutable. These verses affirm the unchanging nature of God:

  • Num 23:19 (NLT), ‘God is not a man, so he does not lie. He is not human, so he does not change his mind. Has he ever spoken and failed to act? Has he ever promised and not carried it through?’
  • Mal 3:6 (NLT), ‘I am the LORD, and I do not change. That is why you descendants of Jacob are not already destroyed’.
  • James 1:17 (NLT), ‘Whatever is good and perfect comes down to us from God our Father, who created all the lights in the heavens. He never changes or casts a shifting shadow’.

So whether under God’s revelations in the OT or NT, God is declared to be one who by essence/nature never changes.

3.  God is the standard of morality.

That standard is established in the moral laws contained in the Ten Commandments of Exodus 20 and the Sermon on the Mount (Matt 5-7). Because the moral laws are related to the nature and attributes of God, they cannot be changed. God can intervene in natural laws through instances such as miracles and providence[5], but he cannot change moral laws because they are based on his nature.

Thus, God’s moral laws are absolute and not relativistic.

My response to the person who clarified she was referring to the moral law was:[6]

Image result for clipart God morality(image courtesy 123RF.com)

Since you were speaking about moral law and not Natural Law, it is important to note that the Natural Law is not based on God’s attributes/nature and so Natural Law is changeable. God can penetrate it with miracles. NASA can violate Natural Law with its space crafts.

However, God can’t defy his moral laws as they are based on his nature. Murder, adultery, theft, lying and covetousness are wrong (e.g. Ex 20 ESV) because they are based on God’s nature. The introduction to the Ten Commandments in Ex 20:1-2 (NLT) is: ‘Then God gave the people all these instructions: “I am the Lord your God, who rescued you from the land of Egypt, the place of your slavery’. So God declares who he is, ‘the Lord your God’, before declaring the commandments for the Israelites to live by. God’s nature as the Lord God is what determines the content of his commands.

Yes, God can do anything (except sin) and is not limited, but that is based on God’s self-revelation in Scripture. Spinoza did not accept that view as a pantheist – even though he was a Jew and should have known better.

I agree that the moment we speak of God as a ‘person’ (as in the 3 persons of the Trinity), it is way too easy to presume we know the characteristics of a person, based on human understanding. However, the truth is that we need to allow God to define and describe his nature/person of himself. Here we search the Scriptures for accurate descriptions of God’s personhood.

4.  God’s law written on the human heart.

There’s a revealing Scripture in Rom 2:12-15 (NLT):

12 When the Gentiles sin, they will be destroyed, even though they never had God’s written law. And the Jews, who do have God’s law, will be judged by that law when they fail to obey it. 13 For merely listening to the law doesn’t make us right with God. It is obeying the law that makes us right in his sight. 14 Even Gentiles, who do not have God’s written law, show that they know his law when they instinctively obey it, even without having heard it. 15 They demonstrate that God’s law is written in their hearts, for their own conscience and thoughts either accuse them or tell them they are doing right.

No people will get off scot-free before God, even if they have not heard the Gospel of the saving grace of the Lord Jesus. This is because God has revealed in Scripture that God’s law is written in the hearts of all Gentiles and their consciences and thoughts will accuse them or confirm they are right before God.

5.  Conclusion

The Natural Law is a philosophical concept invented by Spinoza. It is not unchangeable (immutable) and authoritarian (prescriptive). Instead, natural laws describe what happens and do not prescribe what must happen. Natural laws cannot cause anything; they described what actually happens in nature.

God’s moral law that commands ethical standards is based on the nature of God and examples include the Ten Commandments and the Sermon on the Mount. The Jews depended on the OT Law for their standards while the Christian depends on the NT commands, Matt 5-7 being one example. Non-Jews (Gentiles) have the moral law of God in their hearts and their consciences or thoughts that condemn or clear them of guilt.

6.  Works consulted

Geisler, N L & Turek, F 2004. I Don’t Have Enough Faith to Be an Atheist. Wheaton, Illinois: Crossway Books.

7.  Notes

[1] Christian Forums.net 2016. Is the world really searching for truth? Wondering#191, 6 December. Available at: http://christianforums.net/Fellowship/index.php?threads/is-the-world-really-searching-for-truth.67081/page-10 (Accessed 10 December 2016).

[2] Ibid., Wondering#193.

[3] In ibid., OzSpen$256. I have received some helpful information on this view from Geisler & Turek (2004:203-204).

[4] Ibid., Wonder#258.

[5] ‘Providence, then, is the sovereign, divine superintendence of all things, guiding them toward their divinely predetermined end in a way that is consistent with their created nature, all to the glory and praise of God. This divine, sovereign, and benevolent control of all things by God is the underlying premise of everything that is taught in the Scriptures’ (Bible Study Tools 2016. s v Providence of God).

[6] Christian Forums.net 2016. Is the world really searching for truth? OzSpen#259.

Copyright © 2019 Spencer D. Gear. This document last updated at Date: 14 September 2019.

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Can Labor change to religious values?

ALP logo 2017.svg

(Logo, Australian Labor Party – http://www.alp.org.au/, Public Domain, https://commons.wikimedia.org/w/index.php?curid=60934220 courtesy Wikipedia)

By Spencer Gear PhD

This article was first published as, Can a Labor leopard change its spots? On Line Opinion (19 September 2019).

Can the Labor Party win back voters lost at the last election through changes of policies? Or will religious people see it as a suck up for political gain and not for genuine religious commitment?

Before the 18 May 2019 election, the shadow treasurer and immovable Chris Bowen reiterated: ‘If you don’t like our policies, don’t vote for us’. Many took his advice and Labor lost the election.

After the election he backed off a bit, ‘I have noticed as I have been around during the election campaign and even in the days since … how often it has been raised with me that people of faith no longer feel that progressive politics cares about them,’ he told reporters in Sydney’. He got that one right.

1.  Considered changes

The defeat influenced Mark Butler, shadow minister for climate change & energy, to speak out, ‘Everything is up for review’. Everything? Really? Does that include Labor’s radical pro-Greens, left wing agenda on abortion, euthanasia and religious freedom?

Labor frontbencher and communications’ spokesperson, Michelle Rowland, stated: ‘I don’t think it’s lost on anyone that there was clearly an issue with Labor and people of faith at the last election.’ She added: ‘There is a sense that we didn’t get it right’ – about religious views.

2.  ALP policies and people of faith

In my understanding of a Christian world and life view – informed by Scripture – Labor needs radical changes in these values but I can’t see it happening because the libertarian left-wing seems to dominate policy content. The issues surround …

(a) Abortion;

(b) Voluntary, assisted dying; i.e. voluntary, active euthanasia,

(c) Freedom of religion, and

(d) LGBTIQ ‘equality’, including homosexual marriage.

3.  Clash with Labor’s policies

How is it possible for these Labor policies to be accommodated with religious views when they are so opposed to some religious views? These Labor policies include:

(a) Improve access to affordable, legal ‘surgical and medical terminations across Australia, including decriminalisation in all States and Territories and the provision of abortion in public hospitals’ (ALP National Platform, No. 102),

Image result for image of Nembutal public domain(image courtesy OAK, public domain)

(b) ‘People must have dignity and choice at the end of life … not only in terms of where they wish to die, but when to die’ (No. 42).

(c) ‘Labor believes no faith, no religion, no set of beliefs should ever be used as an instrument of division or exclusion, and condemning anyone, discriminating against anyone, vilifying anyone is a violation of the values we all share’ (No. 239).

This is where Labor went in her antagonism to religious freedom. Senator Penny Wong, leader of the Opposition in the Senate, in 2018 introduced a Private Senator’s Bill to try to restrict power of ‘religious schools to discriminate against same sex attracted students’.

(d) ‘Labor is proud to have led the fight for marriage equality’, thus making it ‘a reality for LGBTIQ Australians on 9 December 2017. Labor welcomes and celebrates the achievement’ (No. 240).

Is Labor whistling in the political wind if it promotes those four policies and yet expects religious people to become members and vote for them? Let’s check out how religious values can be at odds with Labor’s pushing a progressive and libertine agenda.

4.  Religious values clash with ALP policies

(a) The Roman Catholic Church’s position is: ‘I confirm that the direct and voluntary killing of an innocent human being is always gravely immoral’, Pope John Paul II, Evangelium Vitae, 1995. Here he referred to abortion, euthanasia and the destruction of human embryos in medical research. The Vatican opposes (a) in the Labor Platform.

Cherish Life Australia, The Australian Christian Lobby, Family Voice Australia, Sydney Diocese of the Anglican Church, and other Christian denominations oppose abortion and euthanasia.

Crows[1] and flying foxes (bats)[2] are protected but not unborn babies and the elderly.

(b) Whose right is it to murder any person from conception to the end of natural life?

For Bible-believing Christians, it is not a government’s responsibility to murder unborn children, the aged, or the terminally ill.

“You [Lord God] made all the delicate, inner parts of my body
and knit me together in my mother’s womb.
Thank you for making me so wonderfully complex!
Your workmanship is marvelous—how well I know it.
You watched me as I was being formed in utter seclusion,
as I was woven together in the dark of the womb (Psalm 139:13-16).

A human being, made in God’s image (Genesis 1:27; James 3:9) is one who is defined by pronouns such as ‘my’, ‘me’, and ‘I’, as references to a person in the womb – a person murdered in an abortion.

Unborn babies are called ‘children,’ the same word used of infants and young children (Luke 1:41, 44; 2:12, 16; Exodus 21:22), and sometimes even of adults (1 Kings 3:17).

The most startling affirmation of the sanctity of prenatal life is the incarnation of Jesus Christ. His personal history on earth began, not when he was ‘born of the Virgin Mary’, but when he was ‘conceived by the Holy Spirit’ (see Matt.1:18, 20).

The beginning of life is confirmed by the medical profession. Dr Micheline Matthews-Roth, research associate of Harvard University Medical School affirmed ‘it is scientifically correct to say that an individual human life begins at conception’.

As for shortening an adult’s life through euthanasia or assisted suicide, whose right is it to do that? The biblical position is:

Image result for clipart small globe  Creator God is the source of life (Acts 17:28) and death (‘The Lord gives, and the Lord takes away. Praise the name of the Lord’ – Job 1:20-21).

Image result for clipart small globe  ‘Although it may sometimes appear to be an act of compassion, killing is never a means of caring’. ‘Don’t be interested only in your own life, but care about the lives of others too’ (Phil 2:4). Instead of killing the elderly and unwell, the Christian responsibility is to care for them. Promotion of increased resources for palliative care should be the replacement for euthanasia.

No matter how many emotional examples are given about suffering at the end of life, whose right is it to choose the end of life? It belongs to God.

(c) Attack on values of religious organisations, including churches, social welfare organisations, free speech, hospitals and schools played a part in the 2019 election.

white ruled notebook on blue denim textile(image courtesy Rachel Lynette French)

After the election, commentator Miranda Divine told The Catholic Weekly (20 May 2019) that those dubbed by Morrison as the ‘quiet Australians’ were a key factor in the outcome.

Religious Australians were ‘sick of being derided’ by Shorten, Plibersek and Wong who treated them as ‘morally inferior’ since they weren’t in favour of a radical social and socialist agenda.

She continued: ‘Playing in the background was the Israel Folau saga, which Shorten gratuitously dragged into the campaign as a weapon against Morrison, trying to portray his devout Christianity as bigotry’.

Divine demonstrated how the booth by booth swings in Western Sydney told the story of the faith vote.

The Australian Christian Lobby’s managing director Martyn Iles confirmed a clear mandate was given to Morrison to legislate for religious freedom and to resist radical social policies. He contended that this result in key marginal electorates was partly on account of Labor’s policies which undermine religious freedom, parents’ rights, and pushed a radical social agenda out of step with mainstream Australian values’.

(d) Christianity’s and Islam’s views on sexuality are radically different to Labor’s.

· There is no need for Jesus to state, ‘You shall not commit homosexual acts’ as he promoted the biblical norm of heterosexuality: ‘That’s why a man will leave his father and mother and be joined to his wife. The two will become one’ (Matthew 19:5). The New Testament further emphasises the ‘shameful desires’ of lesbian and male homosexual acts that prevent a person from entering the kingdom of God (Rom 1:26-27; 1 Cor 6:9-11), a la Israel Folau. There was jubilation in Parliament in 2017 with the passing of the same-sex marriage Bill but that’s not the way it was in the courts of heaven.

  • The verses cited above also include the sexually immoral and adulterers who will not inherit God’s kingdom.
  • The Muslim condemnation of homosexuality is based on the ‘story of Lot (prophet Lut) and his family and the destruction of Sodom and Gomorrah is mentioned in the Qur’an, verses 7:80, 11:77, 15:59, 21:71, 26:161, 27:55, 29:26, 37:133, and 54:33’.

That’s the biblical view but not that of liberal churches such as Gosford NSW Anglican.

5.  Labor’s wishful thinking

Labor recognised the problem with people of faith. It can claim ‘everything is up for review’ but with the evidence above, I can’t see that happening because of the ingrained left-wing, anti-biblical agenda on social issues.

Then add the hard-line, pro-abortion women in politics of Emily’s List – mainly in the Labor Party.

Australian Catholic University academic, Kevin Donnelly, said he believed Labor and the Greens ‘were in denial that they lost votes over religious freedom and parent’s rights in education’. Morrison was seen as a rational person and ‘the vast majority of people who are not politically-correct and ideologically-driven’ saw his statements on ‘issues such as the environment and sexuality’. Thirty percent of parents have their children in private education.

According to the 2016 National Church Life Survey, ‘41 per cent of church-attending Christians voted for the Liberal-National Party, and 24 per cent voted for Labor’.

If Labor wants to re-engage with the religious, it won’t happen through fake communication to gain political points. Where are the genuine Christians, Muslims and Hindus within Labor?

Patrick Parkinson noted that John Black, a former Labor senator and demographer, stated that ‘Queensland has a substantial number of religiously active voters across numerous marginal constituencies. Black notes that of the top 25 seats ranked for those active in religion, 15 are in Queensland’.

So, there are enough religiously active voters to tip an election towards parties that have policies that genuinely reflect the religious view of the electorates. Labor in 2019 did not satisfy those criteria.

I’ll believe Labor is serious about promoting religious values when I see more people like The Honourable Shayne Neumann MP (Labor Federal Member for Blair, Qld), an active member of a Baptist Church, promoted in ALP ranks. I’m yet to be convinced their values synchronise with a biblical world view.

Christians such as firebrand Senator Amanda Stoker (Queensland) and Qld MP, the Honourable Fiona Simpson MP, have been endorsed by the LNP.

6.  Notes

[1] See: http://www.brisbane.qld.gov.au/clean-and-green/natural-environment-and-water/biodiversity-in-brisbane/wildlife-in-brisbane/living-with-wildlife/torresian-crow (Accessed 12 September 2019).

[2] ‘It is important to remember that state governments, irrespective of national listing status, consider all species of flying-fox to be protected native species’. Available at: https://www.environment.gov.au/biodiversity/threatened/species/flying-fox-law (Accessed 12 September 2019).

Copyright © 2019 Spencer D. Gear. This document last updated at Date: 13 September 2019

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By his stripes you are healed

Is it physical healing or eternal salvation?

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(image courtesy Pinterest)

By Spencer D Gear PhD

I have a question for all Christians: Because of Jesus’ death on the cross, does this guarantee that Christians who pray for healing will be healed? True or False?

I refer to 1 Peter 2:24 (NASB), ‘He Himself bore our sins in His body on the cross, so that we might die to sin and live to righteousness; for by His wounds you were healed’.

This is the prophetic fulfillment of Isa 53:5 (NASB), ‘And by His scourging we are healed’.

I’ve heard it over and over from preachers, mainly in Pentecostal-Charismatic churches: ‘By his stripes you are healed’. Then comes something like this: Those who are sick, please come forward and we’ll pray for you. On the authority of God’s Word, because of Jesus’ suffering he is obliged to heal you. ‘By his stripes you are healed’.

Here are three examples from the Internet of this kind of teaching:

clip_image004Benny Hinn Ministries

gives ‘7 Purposes of Divine Healing’.[1]

This article begins:

God’s will for you to walk in divine health is emphasized throughout His Word.

  • Jesus heals because He is full of compassion.
  • The blood of Jesus was shed to forgive sin and provide healing.

The wonderful English Bible teacher Smith Wigglesworth used to tell about traveling one day in a railway coach. Two others on the train-a mother and daughter-were very sick, so Wigglesworth said to them, “Look, I’ve something in the bag that will cure every case in the world. It has never been known to fail.”

The mother and daughter were quite interested, so the minister went on to tell them about this “remedy.” When they finally asked for a dose, he opened the bag, took out his Bible, and read them the verse that says;

“I am the Lord who healeth thee” (Exodus 15:26).

What a wonderful way to share how the Bible is filled with promises and accounts regarding health and healing for His children.

clip_image004[1]Andrew Wommack Ministries

teach,

Matthew [18:17], under the inspiration of the Holy Spirit, substituted the words “infirmities” and “sicknesses” for Isaiah’s words “griefs” and “sorrows.” Indeed, a study of the Hebrew words in Isaiah 53:4 will reveal that they were always speaking of physical healing. The following verse, Isaiah 53:5, makes it very clear that this was speaking of physical healing when Isaiah said, “But he was wounded for our transgressions, he was bruised for our iniquities: the chastisement of our peace was upon him; and with his stripes we are healed”.

Couple this with the example of Jesus healing every single person who came to Him for healing, and the truth that healing is a part of Christ’s atonement is undeniable….

Not all sickness is caused by something we do. Regardless of the reason, however, there is always something we can do about it. We can believe God, and He will heal ALL our diseases (Ex. 15:26, Ps. 103:3).

If it is God’s will to heal all our diseases, why isn’t everyone healed? That’s a simple question with a complex answer.

The bottom line is faith. The prayer of faith saves the sick (James 5:15). Prayer doesn’t save the sick; the prayer of faith saves the sick (Healing & Niki’s Miracle).[2]

I find Wommack’s teaching especially concerning. We’ll examine its biblical authenticity below:

There are a number of keys to seeing the miraculous power of God manifest on a consistent basis. One of the least understood, and therefore seldom practiced, is the fact that healing is under the authority of the believer. God has already provided His healing power and placed it on the inside of every born-again believer. It is up to us to release it. Understanding and using our authority is the key to seeing miracles happen….

I know this goes contrary to popular Christian doctrine. We’re constantly told that it’s not us but God who is the Healer, and I agree with that totally. But, I also believe that God has placed His healing power under our authority, and it is up to us to release it. If we don’t take our authority and become commanders instead of beggars, God’s power will not be released. There needs to be a radical renewing of our thinking on this issue (Our Authority Releases God’s Power, emphasis in original).[3]

Elsewhere Wommack continues his teaching on healing:

Here’s another indispensable basic truth you must know and understand about healing: It’s never God’s will for us to be sick; He wants every person healed every time. That’s nearly-too-good-to-be-true news, but that’s the Gospel (Faith for Healing Is Based on Knowledge, emphasis in original).[4]

Andrew Wommack is an American Charismatic TV evangelist and faith healer now based in Colorado Springs CO.[5]

Is that an accurate teaching of Scripture?

clip_image004[2]Joseph Prince

wrote:

‘Every curse of sickness that was supposed to fall on you fell on Jesus instead. He bore every one of those stripes, so that you can walk in divine health all the days of your life. The price has been paid so that you can rise up and get out of your bed of affliction!’ (By Jesus’ stripes you are healed).[6]

Prince is an evangelist and senior pastor of New Creation Church based in Singapore. His TV program, Destined to Reign, is broadcast in more than 150 countries. He attended the Hillsong Conference 2007 in Sydney.[7]

Is that what the Bible teaches? If so, we should head down to Caboolture Hospital, Qld and then Royal Brisbane & Women’s Hospital and pray for all the people who are sick. Then they will be able to get out of their bed of sickness without any further help from medical doctors.

If we did that, we may be called nutty or labelled members of a cult. Why?

1. Is physical healing taught in these Scriptures?

Read 1 Peter 2:22-25 (NET):

22 He committed no sin nor was deceit found in his mouth. 23 When he was maligned, he did not answer back; when he suffered, he threatened no retaliation, but committed himself to God who judges justly. 24 He himself bore our sins in his body on the tree, that we may cease from sinning and live for righteousness. By his wounds you were healed. 25 For you were going astray like sheep but now you have turned back to the shepherd and guardian of your souls (emphasis added).

Verse 24 is quoted from Isa 53:5 (NET).

The prophecy in Isaiah 53:3-6 reads:

He was despised and rejected by people, one who experienced pain and was acquainted with illness; people hid their faces from him;
he was despised, and we considered him insignificant.

4 But he lifted up our illnesses, he carried our pain; even though we thought he was being punished, attacked by God, and afflicted for something he had done.

5 He was wounded because of our rebellious deeds, crushed because of our sins; he endured punishment that made us well; because of his wounds we have been healed.

6 All of us had wandered off like sheep; each of us had strayed off on his own path, but the Lord caused the sin of all of us to attack him.

How do we decide if it’s physical healing or spiritual healing, i.e. salvation?

The context determines the truth of verse 5 if there is concern over the meaning of a word, in this case, ‘healed’.

1.1  In Isaiah

This verse confirms:

  • He was despised and rejected.
  • He was lifted up for ‘our illnesses’ (‘born our griefs, carried our sorrows’, ESV).
  • Punished, attacked by God; afflicted for something he had done.
  • Wounded for our rebellion,
  • ‘crushed because of our sins’;
  • Endured punishment to make us well;
  • ‘Because of his wounds we have been healed’.

Are those phrases and prophetic predictions referring to physical or spiritual healing?

Verse 6 answers with a thunderous response:

  • Like sheep, we wandered off.
  • We strayed doing our own thing.
  • The Lord caused the sin of all of us to attack him. Or as the ESV puts it, ‘the Lord has laid on him the iniquity of us all’.

This confirms that Jesus’ death for sinners was not for physical healing but for salvation – spiritual healing.

1.2  First Peter chapter 2

What do verses 22-25 (ESV) teach us in context?

  • Jesus was not a sinner or deceiver.
  • When he was maligned (insulted ERV; shouted at him & made fun of him NIRV), he didn’t back answer.
  • He suffered without retaliation.
  • Committed himself to God, the judge;
  • He bore our sins in his body on the cross …
  • So we would stop sinning and live righteously. 
  • By his wounds people are healed. That’s how the English reads but the words for ‘his wounds’ or ‘his stripes’ are not plural but singular, tw mwlwpi – the wound. This is the only time this word is used in the NT.
  • The classical Greek writers, Aristotle (384–322 BC) and Plutarch (c. AD 46 –120) used it to mean ‘bruise or bloody wound’. Robertson says that if Peter were ‘writing to slaves who may have received such stripes, Peter’s word is effective’ (Robertson 1933:106).

Why would that wound on Jesus be recorded by Peter is in the singular when we know from other verses that Jesus was mocked, flogged, and crucified. Matt 27:29 (NASB) states, ‘And after twisting together a crown of thorns, they put it on His head….’ (See also Mark 15:17 and John 19:2, 5).

One commentator stated: This was perhaps ‘suggesting that his body was one massive welt’ (Believer’s Bible Commentary, p. 2357).[8]

Listen to the language from the Gospels:

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‘Then Pilate took Jesus and flogged him’ (John 19:1 ESV).

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Jesus predicted that would happen to him. Matt 20: 18-19 (ESV), ‘See, we are going up to Jerusalem. And the Son of Man will be delivered over to the chief priests and scribes, and they will condemn him to death and deliver him over to the Gentiles to be mocked and flogged and crucified, and he will be raised on the third day”.

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 ‘They stripped him and put a scarlet robe on him, and twisting together a crown of thorns, they put it on his head and put a reed in his right hand. And kneeling before him, they mocked him, saying, “Hail, King of the Jews!” And they spit on him and took the reed and struck him on the head’ (Matt 27:28-30, ESV).

The OT prophesied this would happen to Jesus:

clip_image010(image courtesy Pinterest)[9]

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‘But he was wounded for our transgressions; he was crushed for our iniquities; upon him was the chastisement that brought us peace, and with his stripes we are healed…. Yet it was the will of the Lord to crush him’ (Isa 53:5, 10a ESV).

Cicero (106 BC – 43 BC), Roman statesman, orator, lawyer and philosopher, described crucifixion as “a most cruel and disgusting punishment” and suggested that “the very mention of the cross should be far removed not only from a Roman citizen’s body, but from his mind, his eyes, his ears”.[10]

 Our sins will not be healed in the future. They were healed. When? By Christ’s death on the cross.

 Theodoret of Cyrus was an early church father who lived AD 393 – 457. He wrote about 1 Peter 2:24, ‘A new and strange method of healing; the doctor suffered the cost, and the sick received the healing’ (in Selwyn 1981:181).

 People were like sheep going astray but now have been turned back.

What kind of healing is stated in this context? Salvation! ‘He was crushed for our iniquities; upon him was the chastisement that brought us peace, and with his stripes we are healed’ (Isa 53:5; 1 Peter 2:24-25).

This conclusion is reinforced by:

Image result for clipart star public domain  The verb for ‘you were healed’ that indicates it happened – full stop. You were healed by Christ’s shed blood.[11]

It’s the verb used in James 5:16 (NET), ‘So confess your sins to one another and pray for one another so that you may be healed. The prayer of a righteous person has great effectiveness’.

Image result for clipart star public domain  However, in James it is the grammatical mood of doubt:[12] It may happen or may not. You ‘may be healed’.

Image result for clipart star public domain  So it is not a command to God: ‘In the name of Jesus, I command that you heal this person’. It is more like, ‘If it be your will, please raise this person to health’.

Wait a minute. What kind of healing is it in James 5:16? Look at the context.

The answer is found in James 5:14-15:

  Is anyone ill? (sick ESV) It’s an old word that means ‘to be weak (without strength)’…. The use of olive oil was one of the best remedial agencies known to the ancients. They used it internally and externally’ (Robertson 1933:64). See also Matt 10:8.

  Why was it needed for Christians to care for the physically sick? See 1 Thess 5:14 (ERV), ‘We ask you, brothers and sisters, to warn those who will not work. Encourage those who are afraid. Help those who are weak. Be patient with everyone’.

2. A question for you

I ask: ‘In what sense … did Christ “bear” our sins?’

He took the blame for sinners. ‘He suffered the “curse” for them’ (see Deut 21:23 which is quoted in Gal 3:13). That “curse” is separation from God and he ‘endured our penal consequences’ (Selwyn 1981:180).

See the article: What does it mean that “by His stripes you were healed”? (Got Questions)[13]

I have two more issues associated with this topic.

3. Is there a place for divine healing in the contemporary church?

Yes, there is on two accounts:

3.1 Believers do the works of Jesus

Jesus teaches it in John 14:12-14 (NIV) states:

Very truly I tell you, whoever believes in me will do the works I have been doing, and they will do even greater things than these, because I am going to the Father. 13 And I will do whatever you ask in my name, so that the Father may be glorified in the Son. 14 You may ask me for anything in my name, and I will do it.

  Whoever believes in Jesus will be able to do his works (including miracles);

They will do greater things/works because the one person of Jesus will not be here any longer. Many true believers will be scattered around the world.

Whatever believers ask in Jesus’ name he will do to glorify the Father and the Son.

  In context, believers can ask for any of the ‘greater things’ and Jesus ‘will do’ them. Does this open the floodgates to Andrew Wommack’s kind of theology, ‘It’s never God’s will for us to be sick?

Definitely not, because believers asking “in Jesus’ name” means

Prayers that are offered in thorough accord with all that his name stands for (i.e. his name is not used as a magical incantation: cf. 1 Jn. 5:14, and in recognition that the only approach to God those who pray enjoy, their only way to God (cf. vv. 4-6) is Jesus himself (Carson 1991:496).

We pray for a person’s illness and recovery and leave the results with God himself. It’s not a farcical kind of prayer but a realisation that God Almighty is Lord of all and he sovereignly decides what happens through prayer for healing.

3.2 Heresies of Hinn, Wommack and Prince

Some of you may consider my assessment too condemning and rather see me put these three prominent preachers into the category of false teachers rather than teachers of heresy.

What is a heresy?

In NT Greek, the term from which we get the English, ‘heresy’ is hairesis. Arndt & Gingrich’s Greek Lexicon (1957:23) states that hairesis means ‘sect, party, school’. It was used of the Sadducees in Acts 5:17; of the Pharisees in Acts 15:5; of the Christians in Acts 24:5. It is used of a heretical sect or those with destructive opinions in 2 Peter 2:1 (‘destructive heresies’ ESV, NIV). This latter verse uses ‘haireseis (plural) of destruction’.

The Lexico/Oxford dictionary gives these meanings of heresy:

(a) ‘Belief or opinion contrary to orthodox religious (especially Christian) doctrine’;

(b) ‘Opinion profoundly at odds with what is generally accepted’ (Lexicon/Oxford Dictionary (2019. s. v. heresy).[14]

From the NT, we see the term, heresy, being used to mean what Paul called strange doctrines, different doctrine, doctrines of demons, and every wind of doctrine (I Timothy 1:3; 4:1; 6:3; Ephesians 4:14). This is in contrast to sound doctrine, our doctrine, the doctrine conforming to godliness, and the doctrine of God (I Timothy 4:6; 6:1,3; 2 Timothy 4:3; Titus 1:9; 2:1, 10).

Therefore, I am justified in labelling the teaching on healing by Hinn, Wommack and Prince as heresy as it does not conform to sound doctrine, is a strange, unbiblical doctrine that is contrary to God’s teaching in Scripture.

4. Are these faith healers teaching heresy?

This is why these prominent ‘faith healers’ are promoting heresy.

4.1 Benny Hinn

He used Smith Wigglesworth as an example to support his theology:

‘I am the Lord who healeth thee’ (Exodus 15:26).

What a wonderful way to share how the Bible is filled with promises and accounts regarding health and healing for His children.[15]

What does Exodus 15:26 teach?

This is the context:

22 Then Moses led Israel from the Red Sea and they went into the Desert of Shur. For three days they travelled in the desert without finding water. 23 When they came to Marah, they could not drink its water because it was bitter. (That is why the place is called Marah.) 24 So the people grumbled against Moses, saying, ‘What are we to drink?’

25 Then Moses cried out to the Lord, and the Lord showed him a piece of wood. He threw it into the water, and the water became fit to drink.

There the Lord issued a ruling and instruction for them and put them to the test. 26 He said, ‘If you listen carefully to the Lord your God and do what is right in his eyes, if you pay attention to his commands and keep all his decrees, I will not bring on you any of the diseases I brought on the Egyptians, for I am the Lord, who heals you’

27 Then they came to Elim, where there were twelve springs and seventy palm trees, and they camped there near the water (Ex 15:22-27 NIV).

Not once in this passage is there a hint that this was a general text for healing of people throughout human history, whether the 20th century with Wigglesworth or the 21st century with Hinn.

This is what it teaches:

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 After crossing the Red Sea and going into the Desert, the Israelites could not find water, only finding bitter water at Marah.

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  The people grumbled against Moses, wanting something to drink.

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 Moses sought the Lord who showed him a piece of wood which he threw into the water and the Israelites were now able to drink it.

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 Then the Lord tested the Israelites: If you listen carefully to the Lord, do what is right towards him, paying attention to his commands, then the Lord will not bring onto the Israelites that diseases inflicted on the Israelites.

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 At this point the Lord gave the reason for saving Israelites from those diseases: ‘For I am the Lord who heals you’.

This passage has nothing whatsoever to do with contemporary healing by Benny Hinn or Smith Wigglesworth. It only applied to the Israelites in specific circumstances.

Hinn has cherry picked a verse to make it say what it does not state. It inflicts his theology on the text and thus promotes his strange heresy of OT Jewish healing for all people.

4.2 Andrew Wommack

This Charismatic preacher is even more extreme. He promotes the heresy that:

 ‘If we don’t take our authority and become commanders instead of beggars, God’s power will not be released. There needs to be a radical renewing of our thinking on this issue’

I have not found a shred of NT or OT evidence to support such an extremist, heretical claim. Jesus said believers would be able to ‘do whatever you ask in my name’ (Jn 14:13) but that is only according to the Father’s will. We cannot command or demand or ‘take our authority’. Human authority is useless in the presence of the sovereign God who answers or refuses to answer human requests.

As for Wommack’s statement,

God has already provided His healing power and placed it on the inside of every born-again believer. It is up to us to release it. Understanding and using our authority is the key to seeing miracles happen.[16]

This is fanciful nonsense that has Charismatic, irrational enthusiasm behind it, but it does not stand up against the Scriptures. Sadly, I need to condemn it a ‘destructive heresy’ (2 Pet 2:1).

I wonder how many Christians have become disillusioned with the faith because of this kind of fake theology. It is fake news with a supposed biblical ‘coating’ of Charismatic gloss.

4.3 Joseph Prince

The pastor of a large church in Singapore has sealed his own heretical fate with this view:

Every curse of sickness that was supposed to fall on you fell on Jesus instead. He bore every one of those stripes, so that you can walk in divine health all the days of your life. The price has been paid so that you can rise up and get out of your bed of affliction![17]

As the above exposition demonstrated, those stripes that Jesus bore were for our salvation – spiritual healing – and not for curing physical illnesses. Poor exegesis by Prince causes him to promote heresy.

5. Does Jesus heal today?

From the dampener I’ve placed on physical healing by my exposition of the biblical texts above, maybe you ask: Has God provided any means for physical healing? Does God perform miracles today?

See my articles:

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  Are Miracles Valuable?

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  Why doesn’t God heal everyone who is prayed for?

Did Jesus promise more physical miracles would continue after he departed from his earthly ministry?

5.1 John 14:12-14

Truly, truly, I say to you, whoever believes in me will also do the works that I do; and greater works than these will he do, because I am going to the Father. Whatever you ask in my name, this I will do, that the Father may be glorified in the Son. If you ask me for anything in my name, I will do it.

The ‘works’ (erga) available to all believers, that Jesus was doing, ‘cannot legitimately be restricted to deeds of humility (13:15) or acts of love (13:34-35) still less to proclamation of Jesus’ ‘words’ [14:10]. Jesus’ ‘works’ may include more than his miracles; they never exclude them” (Carson 1991:495).

What about ‘greater works’ (v. 12)? To what does it apply? Carson wrote:

Greater works is not a transparent expression. It cannot simply mean more works – i.e. the church will do more things than Jesus did, since it embraces so many people over such a long period of time – since there are perfectly good Greek ways of saying ‘more’, and since in any case the meaning would then be unbearably trite. Nor can greater works mean ‘more spectacular’ or ‘more supernatural’ works: it is hard to imagine works that are more spectacular or supernatural than the raising of Lazarus from the dead, the multiplication of bread and the turning of water into wine.

The clues to the expression’s meaning are two: first, the final clause, because I am going to the Father, and second, the parallel in 5:20: ‘For the Father loves the Son and shows him all he does. Yes, to your amazement he will show him even greater things than these‘ (meizona touton, as in 14:12). The two clues point in the same direction. Jesus’ disciples will perform greater works because he is going to the Father: this cannot mean that they will have greater scope for their activity because he will have faded from the scene and relinquished the turf to them, but that the very basis for their greater works is his going to the Father. Their works become greater precisely because of the new order that has come about consequent on his going to the Father (Carson 1991:495-496, emphasis in original).

Lenski agrees that the present participle of v. 12 refers to the person who continues in this faith. The universality of this designation is demonstrated by the language of ‘whoever believes’. ‘The works that I am doing’ refers to the very works of which Jesus spoke in 14:10-11, i.e. ‘the mighty miracles’, However, Lenski considers that the ‘greater works’ means to ‘convert sinners by God’s grace, carry the gospel to the ends of the earth, save souls for life eternal’; cf. John 4:35-38; 10:16; 12:24 and 32; and the story of the Acts.

He emphasises that Jesus ‘returns to the Father as one having completed his mission, and this it is possible that, with redemption accomplished, the greater works of the gospel of redemption can begin.’ He rejects the meaning ‘that believers today must do miracles such as Jesus and the apostles and others performed in the first church’ (Lenski 1943:988-989).

I’m supportive of Jesus’ teaching that the “works” of Jesus in John 14:12 include his miracles and much more. Don Carson’s words are concise and accurate: ‘Jesus’ “works” may include more than his miracles; they never exclude them’ (Carson 1991:495).

See examples of the continuation of miracles into the fourth century through St Augustine:

Augustine’s last illness: A divine healing encounter

St. Augustine: The leading Church Father who dared to change his mind about divine healing

See further examples of miracles in the time of Augustine in my article: Are Miracles Valuable?

What about verified miracles in the twenty-first century? There are verified accounts of physical healing in Delores Winder with Bill Keith (2009), Surprised by healing.

A few months before writing this article, I experienced severe pain in one of my calf muscles of the leg during the night. The pain was so excruciating I was about to hobble to the phone and call for an ambulance. The Lord prompted me to pray for it and the pain ceased immediately. That’s impossible for anybody else to verify as I was the only one in my bedroom when it happened.

See evidence in: Famed heart doctor tells the dramatic story of how a patient of his was ‘raised from the dead’ after prayer

Steve Stewart explained his experience with the supernatural of God:

I have been asked it in England, New Jersey and Canada: “Why don’t we see the same kind of healing here (in England, the U.S., Canada) as you do in Africa and India?”

I usually respond to this in several ways. First of all, I do see God heal in the same way in the West as in the developing world. I have watched in North America, Europe and Australia as deaf ears were opened, cataracts dissolved, cancer instantly disappeared (verified by doctors), and paralysis and pain have gone.

In my living room, the Lord healed a woman who had been totally blind in one eye for 20 years. He is the same God in Canada as Kenya, in the U.S. as Uganda, in England as India.

Although I have seen the Lord open the ears of nine deaf people—one after another—in North America, in fairness, I would say that although the quality of healing that I see is the same everywhere, the quantity seems higher in the developing world. However, I need to clarify this statement.

It is not that I see more people not being healed when prayed for; it seems to me there are fewer people looking to be healed in the West. (To clarify once again, I am not saying the people on the streets of our cities do not want to be healed; it is just that they are not being asked and therefore do not think of healing as an option in their lives) [Stewart 2014].

5.2 James 5:13-15

This is a clear account of how God offered physical healing or relief from distress to people in the early church:

Are any of you suffering hardships? You should pray. Are any of you happy? You should sing praises. Are any of you sick? You should call for the elders of the church to come and pray over you, anointing you with oil[18] in the name of the Lord. Such a prayer offered in faith will heal the sick, and the Lord will make you well. And if you have committed any sins, you will be forgiven (NLT).

clip_image015 Here in 5:12, people are ‘sick’ or ‘suffering’; also in 5:10. It is not parallel to the English idea of suffering with pain. It places an emphasis on enduring hardship, experiencing adversity or calamity. You’ll appreciate this means more than physical sickness and extends to general trouble and distress (Hiebert 1979:316-317).

For people in such a situation, what should they do?

clip_image015[1]They call for the elders who engage in prayer and anointing with oil in ‘the the name of the Lord’, i.e. because of the power of the Lord.

The NABRE[19] translation makes an excellent comment about this ministry of anointing with oil:

In case of sickness a Christian should ask for the presbyters of the church, i.e., those who have authority in the church (cf. Acts 15:2, 22–23; 1 Tm 5:17; Ti 1:5). They are to pray over the person and anoint with oil; oil was used for medicinal purposes in the ancient world (see Is 1:6; Lk 10:34). In Mk 6:13, the Twelve anoint the sick with oil on their missionary journey. In the name of the Lord: by the power of Jesus Christ’ (Note for James 5:14 NABRE).

It is a well-documented fact that oil was one of the most common medicines of biblical times. See Isaiah 1:6 and Luke 10:34. Josephus (Antiq. XVII, 172 [vi. 5] reports that during his last illness Herod the Great was given a bath in oil in hopes of effecting a cure. The papyri, Philo, Pliny, and the physician Galen all refer to the medicinal use of oil. Galen described it as `the best of all remedies for paralysis” (De Simplicium Medicamentorum Temperamentis 2.10ff). It is evident, then, that James is prescribing prayer and medicine (Burdick 1981:204, emphasis added).

Is this relevant for contemporary Australia and other Western countries? It would be applicable to countries with inadequate medical facilities.

clip_image016‘A priest, a minister and a guru sat discussing the best positions for prayer, while a telephone repairman worked

nearby “Kneeling is definitely the best way to pray,” the priest said.

“No,” said the minister. “I get the best results standing with my hands outstretched to Heaven.”

“You’re both wrong,” the guru said. “The most effective prayer position is lying down on the floor’.

The repairman could contain himself no longer. “Hey, fellas,” he interrupted. “The best prayin’ I ever did was when I was hangin’ upside down from a telephone pole.” [20]

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clip_image015[2]Who are to pray for the sick or suffering person? They are the presbuteros, i.e. elder, bishop (overseer), and pastor. All three seem to refer to the same office (see Titus 1:5, 7; Acts 20:17, 28; I Peter 5:1-4). These are the church leaders.

However, in James 5:16 we are exhorted to pray for one another:

Confess your sins to each other and pray for each other so that you may be healed. The earnest prayer of a righteous person has great power and produces wonderful results (NLT).

In context, there may be a connection between physical illness and spiritual condition (needing forgiveness).

clip_image015[3]What is ‘a prayer offered in faith’ for healing the sick?

All faith must be ‘in faith’. This is the basis of the Christian life. What’s the point of any prayer if it does not believe fully that God is able to do it?

Faith was the secret of the Lord’s earthly life and gospel: its value, even outside religion, is recognized in some modern psychosomatic medicine. The faith James here has in mind is, of course, both that of the patient and that of the elders, shown in his calling for them and their response to his call (Adamson 1976:198).

clip_image015[4]Does this prayer guarantee healing? Of course not! Answers to prayer are always conditioned on God’s sovereign will that effects what is best for us in our growth in Christ.

See my articles:

sync Should God heal all Christians who pray for healing?

sync DIVINE HEALING: IS IT FOR EVERYONE?

clip_image015[5]What is the connection between physical healing, sins committed, forgiveness and repentance?

Donald Burdick summarised these verses:

The assurance is given that prayer “will make the sick person well.” In the final analysis this is what effects the healing. In answer to “the payer offered in faith,” God uses the medicine to cure the malady. The statement “the Lord will raise him up” means that the sick man will be enabled to get up from his sick bed. If it was sin that occasioned the sickness, “he will be forgiven.” This suggests the possibility that, because of persistence in sin, God sent sickness as a disciplinary agent (cf. 1 Cor 11:30). The conditional clause “if he has sinned” makes it clear that not all sickness is the result of sin (Burdick 1981:204).

6. Conclusion

Benny Hinn, Andrew Wommack and Joseph Prince promote heretical doctrines regarding healing because they maintain positions that are contrary to Scripture and lead to false hope for believers. This fake theology is seen in statements such as, ‘It’s never God’s will for us to be sick; He wants every person healed every time’ (Wommack).

Exegesis and exposition of 1 Peter 2:24-25 and the parallel verses in Isaiah 53 demonstrate that, in context, these narratives deal with Jesus’ punishment of being wounded for the sins of human beings. They don’t teach physical healing but spiritual healing, i.e. salvation.

Scripture provides support for the continuation of the physical healing ministry, based on Jesus’ teaching to his disciples in John 14. Physical healing in association with prayer and medicinal means by church leadership is possible (God willing), based on the teaching of James 5.

7. Works consulted

Adamson, J B 1976. The New International Commentary on the New Testament: The Epistle of James. F F Bruce (gen ed). Grand Rapids, Michigan: William B. Eerdmans Publishing Company.

Arndt, W F & Gingrich, F W 1957. A Greek-English lexicon of the New Testament and other early Christian literature.[21] Chicago: The University of Chicago Press (limited edition licensed to Zondervan Publishing House).

Burdick, D W 1981. James, in F E Gaebelein (gen ed), The Expositor’s Bible Commentary, vol 12, 159-205. Grand Rapids, Michigan: Zondervan Publishing House.

Carson, D A 1991. The Gospel according to John. Leicester, England / Grand Rapids, Michigan: Inter-Varsity Press / William B. Eerdmans Publishing Company.

Hiebert, D E 1979. The Epistle of James: Tests of a Living Faith. Chicago: Moody Press.

Lenski, R C H 1943. Commentary on the New Testament: The Interpretation of St. John’s Gospel. Peabody, Mass: Hendrickson Publishers (1943 Lutheran Book Concern; assigned 1961 to Augsburg Publishing House).

Robertson, A T 1933. Word Pictures in the New Testament, vol 6. Nashville, Tennessee: Broadman Press.

Selwyn, E G 1981. Thornapple Commentaries: The First Epistle of St. Peter (The Greek Text), 2nd ed. Grand Rapids, Michigan: Baker Book House.

Stewart, S 2014. Why Are There More Miracle Healings in Third World Countries? Charisma (online). Available at: https://www.charismamag.com/spirit/supernatural/22521-why-are-there-more-miracle-healings-in-third-world-countries (Accessed 7 September 2019).

Winder, F & Keith, B 2009. Surprised by Healing. Shippensburg, PA: Destiny Image Publishers Inc.

8.   Notes

[1] Benny Hinn Ministries 2019. 7 Purposes of Divine Healing (online). Available at: https://www.bennyhinn.org/your-life/healing/7-purposes-of-divine-healing/ (Accessed 21 August 2019).

[2] Andrew Womack Ministries n.d. Healing & Niki’s Miracle (online). Available at: https://www.awmi.net/reading/teaching-articles/healing_niki/ (Accessed 14 August 2019).

[3] Available at: https://www.awmi.net/reading/teaching-articles/authority_releases/ (Accessed 6 September 2019).

[4] Available at: https://www.awmi.net/reading/teaching-articles/healing_knowledge/ (Accessed 6 September 2019).

[5] Details from Wikipedia 2019. Andrew Wommack (online). Available at: https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Andrew_Wommack (Accessed 6 September 2019).

[6] Joseph Prince Ministries 2008-2019. By Jesus’ stripes you are healed (online). Available at: https://www.josephprince.org/blog/daily-grace-inspirations/by-jesus-stripes-you-are-healed (Accessed 14 August 2019).

[7] Details from Wikipedia 2019. Joseph Prince (online). Available at: https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Joseph_Prince (Accessed 14 August 2019).

[8] Available HERE (Accessed 12 August 2019).

[9] Available at: https://www.pinterest.com.au/pin/32299322315108885 (Accessed 6 September 2019).

[10] Cited in Wikipedia 2019. Crucifixion. Available at: https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Crucifixion#cite_note-24 (Accessed 13 August 2019).

[11] It is iathete, aorist passive indicative of iaomai, a common verb meaning to heal.

[12] It is aorist, passive, subjunctive.

[13] Available at: https://www.gotquestions.org/by-His-stripes-healed.html (Accessed 10 August 2019).

[14] Available at: https://www.lexico.com/en/definition/heresy (Accessed 06 September 2019). Throughout this document I’ll use ‘s.v.’ as an acronym for the Latin ‘sub verba’, i.e. under the word. When I write ‘ s.v. heresy’, it means that you need to go to the reference in the resource to obtain the meaning (here it is Lexico/Oxford Dictionary online) and check the word, ‘heresy’. The abbreviation s. v. is used primarily for dictionary and encyclopaedia entries.

[15] Hinn op. cit.

[16] Wommack op. cit.

[17] Prince op. cit.

[18] ‘In case of sickness a Christian should ask for the presbyters of the church, i.e., those who have authority in the church (cf. Acts 15:2, 22–23; 1 Tm 5:17; Ti 1:5). They are to pray over the person and anoint with oil; oil was used for medicinal purposes in the ancient world (see Is 1:6; Lk 10:34). In Mk 6:13, the Twelve anoint the sick with oil on their missionary journey. In the name of the Lord: by the power of Jesus Christ’ (Note for this verse in NABRE translation).

[19] The NABRE (New American Bible Revised Edition) is a Roman Catholic dynamic equivalence modern translation of the Bible. Please don’t confuse the NAB with the NASB.

[20] Illustration taken from Stone United Methodist Church 2019. Available at: http://www.stoneumc.org/653550 (Accessed 7 September 2019).

[21] This is ‘a translation and adaptation of Walter Bauer’s Griechisch-Deutsches Wörtbuch zu den Schriften des Neuen Testaments und der übrigen urchristlichen Literatur’ (4th rev & aug ed 1952) (Arndt & Gingrich 1957:iii).

Copyright © 2019 Spencer D. Gear. This document last updated at Date: 07 September 2019.

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John 6:44: God’s drawing power for salvation

Image result for clipart image No one can come to me unless the Father who sent me draws him. And I will raise him up on the last day

By Spencer D Gear PhD

What does this verse mean? ‘No one can come to me unless the Father who sent me draws him. And I will raise him up on the last day’ (John 6:44 ESV).

1. Questions emerge

  • Does the context of the verse shed any light on understanding?
  • Does God the Father ‘draw’ only some people in his predestination to eternal life?
  • What happens to those who are not drawn? Are they left to be damned?
  • If the person drawn is ‘raised up’ at the last day, what does that mean?

On an Internet Christian forum I met a person with this understanding:

The same people that insist on telling me that “every person without exception” was drawn in John 3, refuse to touch the fact that in John 6:44 everyone drawn comes to Jesus and is raised to eternal life at the last day. I know it does not say “to eternal life” in John 6:44 but what is the point of the verse in its context if God draws and teaches and raises you to eternal damnation? [… and people accuse the God of Calvinism of being a monster.][1]

Does John 6:44 teach what this fellow claims?

2. The context

To gain a perspective on what Jesus was communicating, the context states:

41 So the Jews grumbled about him, because he said, “I am the bread that came down from heaven.” 42 They said, “Is not this Jesus, the son of Joseph, whose father and mother we know? How does he now say, ‘I have come down from heaven’?” 43 Jesus answered them, “Do not grumble among yourselves. 44 No one can come to me unless the Father who sent me draws him. And I will raise him up on the last day. 45 It is written in the Prophets, ‘And they will all be taught by God.’ Everyone who has heard and learned from the Father comes to me — 46 not that anyone has seen the Father except he who is from God; he has seen the Father. 47 Truly, truly, I say to you, whoever believes has eternal life (John 6:41-47 ESV).

  • The Jews confused Jesus metaphorical statement, ‘I am the bread … from heaven’ with Jesus’ being the child of Joseph and Mary whom they knew (vv 41-42).
  • Then he taught that nobody can come to him ‘unless the Father who sent me draws him’ (v 44) and that person will be raised up ‘on the last day’ (v 44).
  • The teaching from the Prophets was that everyone who heard and learned from the Father comes to Jesus (v 45).
  • Only Jesus, the one from God, has seen the Father (v 46).
  • He is teaching about eternal life: ‘whoever believes has eternal life’ (v 47).

3. Who is drawn by God for eternal life?

Go back to John 6:37 to gain some clarity: ‘All that the Father gives me will come to me, and whoever comes to me I will never cast out’ (ESV).

That sounds like it’s done and dusted:

All that the Father gives me will come to me. Jesus’ confidence in the success of his mission is frankly predestinarian….

The flow of the verse is then as follows: All that (a singular neuter is used to refer to the elect collectively) the Father gives to Jesus, as his gift to his Son, will surely come to him; and whoever in fact comes (by virtue of being given by the Father to the Son), Jesus undertakes to keep in, to preserve (Carson 1991:290).

This kind of Calvinistic thinking causes Jacob Gerber to conclude with Carson:

All that the Father gives to the Son will irresistibly come to the Son by the work of the Holy Spirit, and of all those who do come (that is, the entirety of the elect), the Son will unfailingly preserve them, including by raising them up from the dead on the last day. In the Five Points of Calvinism, this doctrine that the Son cannot lose a single one of all whom the Father give to him—including you—is commonly referred to as the doctrine of the Perseverance of the Saints (Gerber 2017:8)

Really? Carson and Gerber are Calvinistic commentators/writers.

In my view, Gerber has imposed his Calvinistic TULIP (especially the P) onto this text. John 6:37 teaches that …

  • Those chosen by the Father will come to Jesus, and
  • Those who come to Jesus will never be cast out.

But …

4. Are there limitations on God’s drawing power?

Does God choose some for salvation and leave the rest, as Calvinists teach through their TULIP doctrine?

This is taught in the Westminster Confession of Faith (a confession of the Presbyterian & Reformed Churches): (2) WCF 3:3-4 – Some are predestined to eternal life, others foreordained to death; this number is fixed.

4.1   D A Carson’s view

Carson considers that John 6:37 teaches Calvinistic predestination. How does he interpret John 6:44?

The combination of v. 37a and v.44 prove that this ‘drawing’ activity of the Father cannot be reduced to what theologians sometimes call ‘prevenient grace’ dispensed to every individual, for this ‘drawing’ is selective, or else the negative note in v. 44 is meaningless (Carson 1991:393).

So, for him, God’s drawing power is selective, i.e. some are chosen for salvation, which means by application that the rest are chosen by God for damnation. What’s the point of God’s wrath being poured out on people if they have no opportunity to flee from his wrath by which they are damned deterministically?

Image result for image And I, when I am lifted up from the earth, will draw all people to myselfHow, then, does Carson interpret John 12:32,? Is it possible for ‘all’ to be drawn when ‘all’ actually  means ‘only some’?

Carson applies a typical Calvinistic technique:

There, (6:44) the focus is on those individuals whom the Father gives to the Son, whom the Son infallibly preserves and raises up at the last day. Here, ‘all men’ reminds the reader of what triggered these statements, viz. the arrival of the Greeks, and means ‘all people without distinction, Jews and Gentiles alike’, not all individuals without exception, since the surrounding context has just established judgment as a major theme (v. 31), a time for distinguishing between those who love their lives (and therefore lose them) and those who hate their lives (and therefore keep them for eternal life, v. 25). The critical event in Jesus’ ministry that sanctions his drawing of all people without distinction, and not Jews only (cf. 10:16; 11:52), is his cross/exaltation, his being ‘lifted up’. This is the implicit answer to the Greeks: the hour has come for him to die and be exalted, and in the wake of that passion/ glorification they will be able to approach him as freely as do the children of the old covenant (Carson 1991:444).

He makes ‘all men’ mean ‘all people without distinction’ and not ‘all individuals without exception’. He uses John 10:16 and 11:52 to support this view.

  • John 10:16 states, ‘And I have other sheep that are not of this fold. I must bring them also, and they will listen to my voice. So there will be one flock, one shepherd’. The context of John 9:40 indicates Jesus was speaking to the Pharisees and the ‘other sheep’ indicates non-Jews – all the peoples of the world. Surely Jesus had no need to indicate that his ‘other sheep’ includes all individual Egyptians, Syrians, Ethiopians, Bereans, etc.
  • John 11:52 states, ‘and not for the nation only, but also to gather into one the children of God who are scattered abroad’. The context deals with what followed Jesus’ raising of Lazarus from the dead.

45 Many of the Jews therefore, who had come with Mary and had seen what he did, believed in him, 46 but some of them went to the Pharisees and told them what Jesus had done. 47 So the chief priests and the Pharisees gathered the Council and said, “What are we to do? For this man performs many signs (John 11:45-47 ESV).

The immediate context of v. 52 states:

Caiaphas, who was high priest that year, said to them, “You know nothing at all. 50 Nor do you understand that it is better for you that one man should die for the people, not that the whole nation should perish.” 51 He did not say this of his own accord, but being high priest that year he prophesied that Jesus would die for the nation, 52 and not for the nation only, but also to gather into one the children of God who are scattered abroad. 53 So from that day on they made plans to put him to death (John 11:49-52).

One man, Jesus, was to die ‘for the people’ and the ‘whole nation should not perish’. What are we to make of the statement that ‘Jesus would die for the nation’ and ‘to gather into one the children of God’ who are scattered’? I can’t see anything here that states clearly that Jesus’ death ‘for the nation’ was not for all the people of the nation.

Let’s check out a Lutheran exegete and commentator:

4.2   R C H Lenski

We’ll look at the disputed verses one at a time. Please refer to the quotation of these verses above.

Verse 37:

  • ‘all that’ refers to the mass of people, ‘each individual’;
  • The neuter ‘him that’ (‘whoever’ ESV) is ‘the neuter singular and is used as an abstract expression and as such sums up the whole mass of believers of all ages and speaks of them as a unit’ (Lenski 1943:463).
  • ‘All believers are regarded as one complete unit’ (Vincent 1887/1946:150).

Lenski considers this passage teaches,

the gift as having been made once for all and now being permanent as such a gift…. For all that the Father “gives to me,” Jesus says, “shall get to me … because the Father’s gift cannot possibly fail…. In v. 39 the perfect tense, “all that he has given to me,” pictures the gift from the viewpoint of the last day when Jesus will appear and will not have lost any part of the gift (Lenski 1887/1946:464).

Lenski’s interpretation of this passage in John 6 seems to be open to contextual interpretation, without Calvinistic imposition:

But in these expressions, “all that the Father gives,” and, “all that he has given” Jesus speaks of all believers of all ages as already being present to the eyes of God, he also thus is giving them to Jesus … There, however, is not a fixed number, in some mysterious way chosen by an absolute decree of God to be such a gift to Jesus. Such an exegesis is wholly dogmatic and carries into what Jesus says a thought that is not contained in his words. On the other hand, equally dogmatic is the view that those who constitute God’s gift to Jesus are not those who in the first place are morally better than the rest, or who at least act better than the rest when the gospel is brought to them. These words of Jesus are without a trace of either predestinarian of synergism.[2] God’s grace is universal. He would give all men to Jesus. The only reason he does not do so is because so many men obdurately refuse to be part of that gift. On the other hand, God’s grace is alone efficacious….

Do they want to be part of this gift, or do they mean to exclude themselves?” (Lenski 1946/1961:464-465).

So, he does not consider John 6 teaches predestination (monergism)[3] or human responsibility (synergism).

Lenski’s interpretation of this chapter is that ‘Him that comes to me’ (‘whoever comes to me’, Jn 6:37 ESV) ‘makes the matter individual, personal, and a voluntary act. The Father’s drawing (v. 44) is one of grace alone, thus it is efficacious, wholly sufficient, able to change the unwilling into the willing, but not by coercion, not irresistibly. Man can obdurately [stubbornly] refuse to come. Yet when he comes he does so only through the blessed power of grace’ (Lenski 1946/1961:465).

John 12:32

‘And I, when I am lifted up from the earth, will draw all people to myself’ (ESV).

Lenski demonstrates that the same ‘drawing power’ of 6:44 (cf. 6:37) also is used here, not for the Father, but for Jesus.

This is the drawing exerted by grace …[4] alike in effectiveness and seriousness for all men, not in any way limited on God’s part. Yet here, as in 6:37; 6:44; 10:16; 11:52, and other connections, Jesus is speaking of this universal and unlimited grace only insofar as it succeeds in actually drawing men from the world to himself. All are alike drawn, but by their perverse obduracy [stubbornness] many nullify all the power of grace and harden themselves in unbelief (Matt. 23:37), while others, in equal sin and guilt, are converted by this same power of grace. Why some are thus lost and others won, all being under the same grace, constitutes a mystery insoluble by our minds, about which we know only this, that those who are lost are lost solely by their own guilt, while those who are won are won solely by divine grace. Jesus is speaking only of the latter when he says, “I will draw all unto me.”

Lenski is careful to point out that this cannot be by irresistible grace because of the totality of Scripture. Matt 23:37 is clear that the stubborn can resist God, ‘’Jerusalem, Jerusalem, the city that kills the prophets and stones those who are sent to it! How often have I desired to gather your children together as a hen gathers her brood under her wings, and you were not willing! (NRSVA)

5. Conclusion

The battles between Calvinism (monergism) and non-Calvinism (e.g. synergism) are seen in exegesis of John 6 and John 12.

The Calvinist interprets 6:37, 44 as referring to predestination of an elect group while the Lutheran exegete provides evidence to counter this irresistible grace view.

I conclude with Lenski that the biblical emphasis is that God provides salvation, extends his grace to all people, but they can be stubborn and resist his offer of salvation.

He will render to each one according to his works: to those who by patience in well-doing seek for glory and honor and immortality, he will give eternal life; but for those who are self-seeking and do not obey the truth, but obey unrighteousness, there will be wrath and fury. There will be tribulation and distress for every human being who does evil, the Jew first and also the Greek, but glory and honor and peace for everyone who does good, the Jew first and also the Greek. For God shows no partiality (Rom 2:6-11 ESV).

See my related articles:

Image result for clipart single color arrow pointing to right What is the nature of human free will?

Image result for clipart single color arrow pointing to rightCalvinists, free will and a better alternative

Image result for clipart single color arrow pointing to rightCan people choose to reject salvation?

Image result for clipart single color arrow pointing to rightSproul damns Arminianism by association with semi-Pelagianism

6.   Works consulted

Carson, D A 1991. The Gospel according to John. Leicester, England / Grand Rapids, Michigan: Inter-Varsity Press / William B. Eerdmans Publishing Company.

Gerber, J 2017. Chapter 14: The Food of Jesus (online). Available at: https://jacobgerber.org/wp-content/uploads/2018/01/John-6-22-59.pdf (Accessed

Lenski, R C H 1943. Commentary on the New Testament: The Interpretation of St. John’s Gospel. Peabody, Mass: Hendrickson Publishers (1943 Lutheran Book Concern; assigned 1961 to Augsburg Publishing House).

Vincent, M R 1887/1946. Word studies in the New Testament, vol 2: The writings of John. New York City, NY: Charles Scribner’s Sons (reprinted 1946. Grand Rapids, Michigan: Wm. B. Eerdmans Publishing Company).

7.   Notes


[1] Christianity Board 2019. ‘Total Inability: Gen 1-4’, atpollard#59, 3 September. Available at: https://www.christianityboard.com/threads/total-inability-genesis-1-4.30088/page-3#post-618543 (Accessed 4 September 2019).

[2]Synergism is defined as two or more agents working together to produce a result that is not obtainable independently.  In our natural world there are many synergistic relationships.  The same is true of the spiritual.

From a Biblical perspective this means that God and humanity work together, each contributing their part to produce salvation for the individual.  In other words God will not save a man without the man – God will not save a woman without the woman.  God works with the man, the woman, to produce this glorious salvation.

Synergism is the teaching of the Word of God’ (Biblical Synergism. Accessed 5 September 2019).

[3]Monergism: In regeneration, the Holy Spirit unites us to Christ independent of any cooperation from our unregenerated human nature. He quickens us through the outward call cast forth by the preaching of His Word, disarms our innate hostility, removes our blindness, illumines our mind, creates understanding, turns our heart of stone to a heart of flesh — giving rise to a delight in His Word — all that we might, with our renewed affections, willingly & gladly embrace Christ’ (What is monergism? Accessed 5 September 2019).

[4] He inserted ‘through the means of grace (Word and Sacrament)’, which I’ve deleted, as I don’t consider that people are drawn to Christ by the means of the Word of God and Sacrament. Instead, they are drawn through the proclamation of the Gospel. See Rom 10:17.

Copyright © 2019 Spencer D. Gear. This document last updated at Date: 06 September 2019.

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John 12:32: Jesus’ drawing all people

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By Spencer D Gear PhD

Does Jesus draw all people to the Gospel, anywhere in the world where no Gospel preachers have been in person or nobody has heard the Gospel by radio or any other means?

Reach Beyond (formerly HCJB) gives this as its mission: ‘Reach Beyond is part of a global community committed to reaching unreached people groups with the gospel through the use of dynamic media and high quality programs along with healthcare and community development’.[1]

How can Jesus draw all people to Himself?

1. Meaning of John 12:32

I interacted with a person on a Christian forum who cited a string of biblical references to answer these questions:

  • Can the natural man comprehend the gospel or come to saving knowledge of God on his own?
  • Can men of themselves accept God’s gift of salvation? Do men choose God or come to Him on their own?[2]

My response was: ‘you seem to have missed out one important verse from Jesus: ‘And I, when I am lifted up from the earth, will draw all people to myself’ (John 12:32 NIV).[3]

His comeback was: ‘Context directs Jesus is speaking about judgement in this verse. All men will stand before the Judge’. Then he gave these verses of support: John 12:31-32, 37-40, 47-49. His conclusion was:

The gospel is veiled to those who are perishing. It is our commission to be salt and light in this dark world. We continue to give witness and testimony to the glory God has yet to reveal in which we who believe are partakers. We in ourselves are powerless in bringing about belief for in our unbelief the Gospel is folly. Yet in His mercy some do come to belief despite ourselves (sic). God is no respecter of persons, therefore all creeds and colors, all social classes both great and small, people from every nation will come. But none can come unless it is granted by the Father. The Gospel is glory to those who believe, and condemnation to those who do not.
Glory be to God in the highest.
[4]

2. Which judgment?[5]

John 12:31-33 (NIV) states,

‘Now is the time for judgment on this world; now the prince of this world will be driven out. 32 And I, when I am lifted up from the earth, will draw all people to myself.” 33 He said this to show the kind of death he was going to die’.

Krisis (judgment)[6] is spoken of also in John 3:17, 19-21; 5:22-30; 7:24; 8:16. While there will be judgment coming at the consummation of the age, these references that I’ve just given demonstrate that judgment began with Christ’s first coming. Since he is ‘the light of the world’ (John 8:12 NIV), those who follow Jesus will never walk in darkness. The rest walk in darkness – a judgment.

This judgment that Jesus began with his first coming forced a division between those who pursued evil deeds and those who accepted and embraced the light. In a similar fashion, Jesus’ death and resurrection (passion/glorification) draws people to himself (John 12:32 NIV) but it is also demonstrating ‘judgment on this world’ – not the last judgment, but judgment by rejecting the Son, which was rejecting God Himself (see John 5:23 NIV)

Remember the judgment expressed in John 5:24 (NIV), ‘Very truly I tell you, whoever hears my word and believes him who sent me has eternal life and will not be judged but has crossed over from death to life’. This is judgment in this world that was inaugurated by Christ’s death and resurrection and the bringing of eternal life to those who believe.

At the cross, the world thought capital punishment judgment was being passed on Jesus but in the cross, Jesus was passing judgment on the world of sinners who were in rebellion against God.

So, commentator D A Carson, could write about John 12:31 (NIV), as context for John 12:32, ‘Now is the time for judgment on this world’,

Thus Jesus’ passion/glorification signifies judgment both positively and negatively. As far as “the world” is concerned, however, it can only be negative. There can be no further reprieve, for there can be no hope for those who reject the one Person whose death/exaltation is the epiphany of God’s gracious, saving self-disclosure (Carson 1991:443).

Therefore, John 12:32 (NIV) is affirming Jesus’ drawing all people to himself, in a judgment associated with his first coming, and believing or not believing in Him.

clip_image004For a fuller discussion of this verse, in association with verses in John 6, see the article: John 6:44: God’s drawing power for salvation

3.  Works consulted

Carson, D A 1991. The Gospel according to John. Leicester, England / Grand Rapids, Michigan: Inter-Varsity Press / William B. Eerdmans Publishing Company.

4.  Notes

[1] Reach Beyond Australia 2017. ‘Who we are’. Available at: http://www.reachbeyond.org.au/who-we-are/reach-beyond-australia (Accessed 13 January 2017).

[2] Christianity Board 2017. Total depravity: Is it biblical? Justaname#18. Available at: http://www.christianityboard.com/topic/23426-total-depravity-is-it-biblical/ (Accessed 13 January 2017).

[3] Ibid., OzSpen#24.

[4] Ibid., justaname#25.

[5] This is from my post at ibid., OzSpen#26.

[6] Some of these details were from Carson (1991:442-443).

Copyright © 2019 Spencer D. Gear. This document last updated at Date: 06 September 2019.

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Scott Morrison needs to ‘obey God’s message’

By Spencer D Gear PhD

This article was first published in On Line Opinion, an Australian e-journal, 4 September 2019)

What will it take for ScoMo, the nick-name for Australia’s Prime Minister, to practise what he preaches? I’ve seen the pictures of him with raised hands in worship in his church on Sunday. I applaud him for worshipping the Lord God Almighty and allowing the mass media cameras to see a demonstration of his faith.

clip_image002(Prime Minister Scott Morrison and wife Jenny sing during an Easter Sunday service at his Horizon Church at Sutherland in Sydney, Sunday, April 21, 2019.

AAP Image/Mick Tsikas. Courtesy Eternity, 23 April 2019).[1]

His faith needs more than lifting hands in praise. Australians need to see him practise his Christian faith with Priya, her husband Nadesalingam (Nades), with daughters Kopika, 4, and Tharunicaa, 2.

They have become household names as they challenge the deportation orders to return them to Sri Lanka.

The small regional town of Biloela, Qld, wants them to stay. They have integrated well into that region and Nades has been employed in the meat works.

Morrison resists: ‘I do understand the real feeling about this and the desire for there to be an exception but I know what the consequences are of allowing those exceptions’ (The Sydney Morning Herald, 2 September 2019).

This is not about ‘real feeling’ towards this family but about a demonstration of real Christianity by Morrison and his Christian colleagues in government.

Both Morrison and I are evangelical Christians. We have this divine responsibility,

‘Speak up for people who cannot speak for themselves. Help people who are in trouble. Stand up for what you know is right, and judge all people fairly. Protect the rights of the poor and those who need help’ (Proverbs 31:8-9).

This is a special time when ScoMo can act for this family that does not have the political voice, clout or the emotional strength to stand up to the assertions of Peter Dutton that they are ‘not owed protection’ because they ‘are not refugees.

Morrison claimed ‘they didn’t come to the country in the appropriate way. They have not been found to have an asylum claim’.

Neither would I if I were fleeing persecution. It was reported in the Liverpool City Champion (Narellan, NSW) that ‘Priya told AAP she saw her fiancé and five other men from her village burned alive before she fled. Her entire family now live as refugees in India’.

clip_image004(Photo Nadesalingam [Nades] and Priya with their two children. Supplied: Tamil Refugee Council, courtesy ABC News Capricornia/Brisbane).

Prime Minister, it’s time to step up and demonstrate your genuine Christian convictions.

‘Someone might argue, “Some people have faith, and others have good works.” My answer would be that you can’t show me your faith if you don’t do anything. But I will show you my faith by the good I do’ (James 2:18 ERV).

Your Bible-based Christian faith will live up to this requirement, ‘If you help the poor, you are lending to the Lord-and he will repay you’ (Proverbs 19:17 NLT).

Morrison’s heartless comment was, ‘They can return to Sri Lanka and they can make an application to come to Australia under the same processes as everyone else, anywhere else in the world. And I would hope they do. I would hope they do’ (SMH).

Sending people on meagre wages back to Sri Lanka and hoping they’ll make application to come to Australia as everyone else does is not practising Christianity’s Golden Rule: ‘In everything, do to others what you would want them to do to you’.

Is that how you want to be treated, Mr Morrison? Do you want this harshness inflicted on you? ‘The prime minister says he cannot “in good conscience” allow a Tamil couple and their Australian-born children facing deportation to stay in Australia’.

That’s not a ‘Christian conscience’ based on the Golden Rule’ and God’s care for the needy.

Now Ray Hadley joins with the Honourable Peter Dutton, Minister for Home Affairs, in choofing the family back to Sri Lanka. Why?

“It’s very simple… they lied,” says Ray (on 2GB, 3 September 2019).

“The woman came from Chennai, which is in India. That’s where she set sail from and she’d been living there for an extended period.

“The now-husband had travelled from Sri Lanka to the Middle East on three separate occasions and had returned on three separate occasions”.

ABC News confirmed, ‘He frequently travelled between Sri Lanka, Kuwait and Qatar between 2004 and 2010 for work, during the civil war that ended in 2009’.

Ray: Why was Niya in Chennai? She has made it clear her persecuted family in Sri Lanka had sought asylum in India. The Guardian reported, ‘She initially fled to India, not a refugee convention country and which does not offer protection, with family members’.

Contrary to Ray Hadley’s statement, she was not lying about her circumstances when she left the Indian city of Chennai to seek asylum in Australia. She had fled Sri Lanka’s civil war in 2000 to India, which is not a signatory of the UNHCR (United Nations High Commissioner for Refugees).

The UNHCR stated although India was not party to the 1951 Refugee Convention or its 1967 Protocol, India’s national refugee protection framework ‘continues to grant asylum to a large number of refugees from neighbouring States and respects UNHCR’s mandate for other nationals’.

In 2018, Mr Dutton intervened to prevent two European nannies (au pairs) from being deported from Australia.

‘”It’s quite clear if you look at the ministerial intervention guidelines, this case [of the Tamil family] meets those guidelines more clearly than the two au pair cases in which the minister [Mr Dutton] acted within hours,” said Abul Rizvi, former deputy secretary of the Immigration Department’ (ABC News).

Mr Rizvi was more compassionate towards this family than Morrison, Dutton or Hadley. He told the ABC, ‘We have a clear contest between human decency and appropriate use of the ministerial intervention powers and the minister’s ego’.

Some will be shouting: Keep religion out of politics. That’s impossible to do because all people see life thorough their world views. A world view is like lenses through which we look at reality. Our beliefs about all aspects of life colour our perspective of what happens in the universe.

A Christian world view includes: ‘We must obey God rather than human beings!’ The Scriptures I’ve quoted in this essay demonstrate how the Christian ScoMo, as our national leader, ought to be treating this Tamil family. Instead, his government has put the family through 18 months of trauma, which is hardly a demonstration of Christian kindness.

clip_image006(Glen Campbell photo courtesy Cranach)

Glen Campbell’s song comes to mind as I consider what the Coalition government should be doing to the Tamil family,

If you see your brother standing by the road
With a heavy load from the seeds he’s sowed
And if you see your sister falling by the way
Just stop and say, you’re going the wrong way

You got to try a little kindness
Yes show a little kindness
Just shine your light for everyone to see
And if you try a little kindness
Then you’ll overlook the blindness
Of narrow-minded people on the narrow-minded streets

(composers: Curt Sapaugh and Bobby Austin)

This is what we need from the government led by a Christian Prime Minister.

The Tamil family is in our country so we can act christianly towards them. Prime Minister Morrison, you are a Christian. This is how you can demonstrate your Christianity to this family: ‘God has chosen you and made you his holy people. He loves you. So your new life should be like this: Show mercy to others. Be kind, humble, gentle, and patient’ (Colossians 3:12).

Please intervene immediately. What could be more pointed than this call to you Mr Morrison?

‘Do what God’s teaching says; don’t just listen and do nothing. When you only sit and listen, you are fooling yourselves…. But when you look into God’s perfect law that sets people free, pay attention to it. If you do what it says, you will have God’s blessing. Never just listen to his teaching and forget what you heard’ (James 2:22, 25 ERV).

Notes

[1] Kayley Payne 2019. Inviting the cameras into church. Eternity (online), 23 April. Available at: https://www.eternitynews.com.au/australia/inviting-the-cameras-into-church/ (Accessed 4 September 2019).

Copyright © 2019 Spencer D. Gear. This document last updated at Date: 04 September 2019.

Family sit against a fence holding a sign that reads: "Thanks you Biloela and people around Australia. You give us hope". People hold photos of the Tamil family from Biloela at a rally. The two children of asylum seekers Nadesalingam and Priya.

Condemnation of modern Bible translations: He got it wrong

1 Samuel 24:3: ‘cover his feet’

By Spencer D Gear PhD

I met a person online who wanted to compare his first grade understanding of reading with Bible translations, especially with challenging the translation of one OT verse in the NIV.

This was his language:

When I was in the first grade, I learned with HORROR that the bible was originally written in Hebrew, Aramaic and Greek. I didn’t like reading much to begin with, but this was just too much for me to withstand. Even at that young age, I saw no reason to believe the interpretations of someone else. I’m glad I stuck to that suspicion because I’ve found so many places where translators simply toss out the inspiration of the original authors in favor of their own dull translations.[1]

Then he gave an example of one of the translators’ ‘own dull translations’ in the New International Version (NIV) of the Old Testament:

Here’s a prime example. In the scene where David is hiding in a cave that Saul coincidently decides to use to relieve himself, the translators of the NIV present the situation devoid of anything one could view as inspired. Yet when we look at the originals, it is nothing less than divine. The NIV simply states that Saul “relieved himself”, but the original manuscripts depict Saul “covering his feet”. The wonderful thing about this euphemism is that it can still be employed today! It is criminal to take an author’s figurative language and discard it in favor of making the meaning more clear for the sake of the dullards among us. They could just as easily footnoted the passage and explained it in the footnote.[2]

He is so incompetent in the statement of his views that he didn’t bother to inform the readers of the exact verse to which he referred. It is 1 Samuel 24:3 (NIV).

1.  Study the meaning[3]

I replied: I do wish you would do your study to determine the meaning of this phrase, ‘cover his feet’. It doesn’t bring a meaning for this ‘dullard’ that you infer.

icons8-roundabout-48The NIV translates 1 Samuel 24:3 as ‘he came to the sheep pens along the way; a cave was there, and Saul went in to relieve himself. David and his men were far back in the cave’.

icons8-roundabout-48The Easy-to-Read Version (1 Sam 24:3) translates as: ‘Saul came to some sheep pens beside the road. There was a cave near there, so Saul went in to relieve himself. David and his men were deep inside that same cave’.

This phrase is used also in Judges 3:24.

icons8-roundabout-48The more literal ESV translates 1 Sam 24:3 as: ‘And he came to the sheepfolds by the way, where there was a cave, and Saul went in to relieve himself.a]”>[a] Now David and his men were sitting in the innermost parts of the cave’.

As you suggested, the ESV uses the footnote for ‘relieve himself’ as ‘cover his feet’.

icons8-roundabout-48The NASB gives an identical translation and footnote to the ESV: ‘He came to the sheepfolds on the way, where there was a cave; and Saul went in to [a]relieve himself. Now David and his men were sitting in the inner recesses of the cave’ (1 Sam 24:3).

  • The point is: What does ‘cover his feet’ mean in the Hebrew context? Leading OT commentators, Keil & Delitzsch, made this comment on ‘cover his feet’: It ‘is a euphemism, according to most of the ancient versions, as in Judg 3:24, for performing the necessities of nature, as it is a custom in the East to cover the feet’ (Commentary on the Old Testament, 1 Samuel 24).

2.  Poo and Pee

The NIV, ESV, NASB and ERV provide perfectly legitimate translations for ‘cover his feet’ and its meaning for contemporary English.

Or, would you prefer, ‘Saul went into that place, removed his cloak to around his feet so he could do a poo and a pee’?

That’s what the phrase means and the NIV has given us a jolly good dynamic equivalence (meaning for meaning) translation of the phrase, ‘to relieve himself’.

3.  Support from other commentaries

  • Ellicott’s Commentary explains ‘cover his feet’: ‘It is an Eastern euphemism taken from spreading out the garments while relieving the needs of nature’.
  • Matthew Poole’s Commentary (Judg 3:24), ‘It is commonly understood in both places, of easing nature; because the men not then wearing breeches, as we do, but long coats, they did in that act cover their feet, as women do: but a late judicious interpreter expounds it of composing himself to take a little sleep or rest, as was very usual to do in the day-time in those hot countries;
  • Gill’s Exposition (Judg 3:24), ‘he covereth his feet in his summer chamber; that is, was easing nature; and, as the eastern people wore long and loose garments, when they sat down on such an occasion, their feet were covered with them; or they purposely gathered them about their feet to cover them, and so this became a modest expression for this work of nature’.

So the NIV translators did not ‘simply toss out the inspiration of the original authors in favor of their own dull translations’. Instead, they accurately translated the meaning of ‘covered his feet’ with ‘relieved himself’.

The fact is that the NIV got it right and you got it wrong.

4.  Notes

[1] Christianity Board 2019. The Hebrew New Testament (online), shnarkle#26, 23 August. Available at: https://www.christianityboard.com/threads/the-hebrew-new-testament.29973/page-2 (Accessed 23 August 2019).

[2] Ibid.

[3] I responded as OzSpen#28.

Copyright © 2019 Spencer D. Gear. This document last updated at Date: 23 August 2019.

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Thou shalt not kill / murder

Breaking the sixth commandment

By Spencer D Gear PhD

How should Christians respond to terminal illness, suffering and euthanasia? How should a government respond to a request for euthanasia with this kind of facial disease?

Should this heart-breaking story be enough to push a society over the edge to legalise euthanasia and assisted suicide? Are emotional, heartbreaking stories like this one enough to convince politicians it’s time to stop the pain and approve the killing of such a person – with her informed consent?

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(image courtesy El Mundo)                                          (image courtesy The Deep Portal)

Chantal Sébire was a French schoolteacher who developed a rare form of cancer which severely disfigured her eye-sockets and face. She also lost her senses of sight, taste and smell’. She died in 2008 from a drug overdose when the French government would not grant her the right to euthanasia’ (courtesy Ranker).

Image result for photo Kerry Robertson euthanasia Victoria(Photo: Jacqui Hicks, left, and Nicole Robertson, right, were with mum Kerry Robertson when she died. (Go Gentle Australia), ABC News, Brisbane Qld)

On 19 June, 2019 in the Australian State of Victoria voluntary assisted dying was legalised. The first person euthanised (killed) under this legislation was Kerry Robertson, aged 61, who had lived with cancer for about 10 years. She died, surrounded by family, in a Bendigo nursing home on 15 July 2019.

1. Rejecting euthanasia

Martyn Iles was the new managing director of the Australian Christian Lobby (ACL), as of 2018. I received an emailer from ACL that included Martyn’s brief, but exceptional article, Dr David Goodall, euthanasia, and suffering‘.

It contains the line, ‘If we rip off the band-aid that says, “thou shalt not kill” in such circumstances, we are asking for a myriad of troubles’.

2. Does it mean, ‘Thou shalt not kill’?

I encourage Martyn and other writers for ACL not to use this erroneous KJV translation, ‘Thou shalt not kill’. The correct translation from the Hebrew (Ex 20:13) and Greek (Matt 19:18) is: ‘You shall not murder’. These various translations correct the meaning of Thou shalt not kill” (LXX ou phoneuseis)   and ‘You shall not murder’ (Hebrew lo tir?a?) for Exodus 20:13.

The better translation of Ex 20:13 is found in these translations:

  • NKJV: You shall not murder.
  • ESV: You shall not murder. The footnote for ‘murder’ states, ‘The Hebrew word also covers causing human death through carelessness or negligence’.
  • NRSV: You shall not murder. The footnote is, ‘or kill’.
  • NIV: You shall not murder.
  • NLT: You must not murder.

If it means ‘you shall not kill’, God contradicted himself many times in the OT. A couple examples are:

Joshua 6 describes the destruction of Jericho (the Canaanites) at God’s command. Why would God authorise such murder? Norman Geisler explained:

Israel was commanded by God to completely exterminate the Canaanite inhabitants of the land including men, women, and children. This has been called a primitive and barbaric act of murder perpetrated on innocent lives.

Several factors must be kept in mind in viewing this situation.

(1) There is a difference between murder and justifiable killing. Murder involves intentional and malicious hatred which leads to life-taking. On the other hand, the Bible speaks of permissible life-taking in capital punishment (Gen. 9:6), in self defense (Exod. 22:2), and in a justifiable war (Gen. 14).

(2) The Canaanites were by no means innocent. They were a people cursed of God from their very beginning (Gen. 9:25). They were a vile people who practiced the basest forms of immorality. God described their sin vividly in these words, “I punished its iniquity, and the land vomited out its inhabitants” (Lev. 18:25).

(3) Further, the innocent people of the land were not slaughtered. The story of Sodom and Gomorrah clearly demonstrates that God would save a whole city for ten righteous people (Gen. 18:22f.). In that incident, when God could not find ten righteous people, He took the four or five righteous ones out of the place so as not to destroy them with the wicked (Gen. 19:15). On another occasion God saved some thirty-two thousand people who were morally pure (Num. 31:35). Another notable example is Rahab, whom God saved because she believed (cf. Heb. 11:31).

(4) God waited patiently for hundreds of years, giving the wicked inhabitants of Canaan time to repent (cf. 2 Peter 3:9) before He finally decided to destroy them (Gen. 15:16). When their iniquity was “full,” divine judgment fell. God’s judgment was akin to surgery for cancer or amputation of a leg as the only way to save the rest of a sick body. Just as cancer or gangrene contaminates the physical body, those elements in a society—if their evil is left to fester—will completely contaminate the rest of society.

(5) Finally, the battle confronting Israel was not simply a religious war; it was a theocratic war. Israel was directly ruled by God and the extermination was God’s direct command (cf. Exod. 23:27-30; Deut. 7:3-6; Josh. 8:24-26). No other nation either before or after Israel has been a theocracy. Thus, those commands were unique. Israel as a theocracy was an instrument of judgment in the hands of God. (Norman L. Geisler, A Popular Survey of the Old Testament, Baker Book House, Grand Rapids, 1977, pp. 99-100, in ‘How could a loving God tell the Israelites to kill their enemies, even children?’)

Jesus confirmed this commandment, ‘You know the commandments: xDo not murder….’ (Mark 10:19).

God authorised the murder / killing of many people according to the OT and he authorised the command not to murder in the NT.

2.1 Mistranslation of ‘kill’

The mistranslation of the word as ‘kill’ includes these translations: Wycliffe Bible (1395), Tyndale (1536), the Bishop’s Bible (1568),  the Geneva Bible (1599), Douay-Rheims (1610), KJV (1611), ASV, RSV,  NAB, and NJB.

The translations that correctly render the word as ‘murder’ include: NRSV, NKJV, NLT, NIV, NIRV, NASB, NABRE, LEB, ISV, HCSB, GNB, ESV, Complete Jewish Bible, YLT, and REB.

Why is ‘kill’ a mistranslation? The Hebrew uses the word, rasah, which is a specific word for murder in the 6th commandment. This does not prohibit capital punishment, but is in harmony with Gen 9:6.  Rasah is not a general word for ‘kill’ as we have in English.
The next chapter of Exodus gives and example that demonstrates Ex 20:13 does not refer to general killing: ‘Anyone who strikes a person with a fatal blow is to be put to death’ (Ex 21:12 NIV).

We need to remember that God is not against killing: ‘… without the shedding of blood there is no forgiveness’ (Heb 9:22 NIV).

As Professor Berel Lang of Trinity College in Hartford, Connecticut (USA) has noted:

“The original Hebrew, lo tirtsah., is very clear, since the verb ratsah. means ‘murder,’ not ‘kill.’ If the commandment proscribed killing as such, it would position Judaism against capital punishment and make it pacifist even in wartime. These may be defensible or admirable views, but they’re certainly not biblical” (cited in Andrew Holt PhD).

3. Conclusion

There would be a substantial contradiction created by God if his command was, ‘You shall not kill’, as God Himself ordered the killing of many people, Israelites and Gentiles in the OT. He also ordered the killing of Jesus on the cross (Matt 27:46; John 3:16; 2 Cor 5:21).

The exegesis of Ex 20:13 and Matt 19:18 demonstrates that the correct translation is, ‘You shall not murder’ and not ‘you shall not kill’.

Both medical science and Scripture confirm that the life of a human being begins at conception/implantation. See my articles:

clip_image004 Abortion and Life: A Christian Perspective

clip_image004[1]Exodus 21:22-23 and abortion

clip_image004[2]    The Church Fathers on Abortion

clip_image004[3]When an abortion goes horribly wrong

Therefore, I conclude that abortion, euthanasia and assisted suicide involve the murder of a human being and should be criminal offences.

Copyright © 2019 Spencer D. Gear. This document last updated at Date: 10 August 2019.

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