Intolerant Intolerance


(Wintour photograph courtesy Wikimedia Commons)

By Spencer D Gear PhD

This article was first published (without the graphics and subject headings) in On Line Opinion, 21 Febrary 2019.

During the January 2019 Australian Open Tennis Grand Slam, Anna Wintour, long time fashion editor with Vogue, spoke publicly about her disagreement with champion tennis player, Margaret Court, over homosexual marriage.

Dame Anna Wintour DBE dived into the ‘intolerance’ issue against homosexuals. Her target was tennis champion, Margaret Court.

clip_image003(Margaret Court Arena, photo courtesy Wikimedia Commons)

The Age reported that Wintour ‘has thrown her support behind the push to rename Margaret Court Arena over the tennis champion’s opposition to same-sex marriage’.

Wintour stated, ‘I find that it is inconsistent with the sport for Margaret Court’s name to be on a stadium that does so much to bring all people together across their differences”‘, in a speech delivered at the Australian Open Inspirational Series in Melbourne on Thursday [24 January 2019] , to applause.

She continued: ‘This much I think is clear to anyone who understands the spirit and the joy of the game.Intolerance has no place in tennis” emphasis added).

Wintour continued her broadside against those who support traditional family values:

“I have been alarmed by your prime minister’s record on LGBTQ rights, which seems backward in all senses,” she said.

“That no one can be expelled from school for their orientation, should not require clarification. A government should protect its people, not make it unclear whether they will be accepted.”

Not once in that article did the journalist mention Anna Wintour’s intolerance towards Margaret Court and Scott Morrison.

I find it disconcerting when a person opposes the ‘intolerance’ of Margaret Court on the subject of homosexuality and doesn’t see her own intolerance towards Margaret Court’s values.

It is a self-contradictory statement to accuse another person of intolerance while perpetrating the same oneself.

Other media joined the Wintour refrain


(image courtesy

There were a considerable number of mass media examples that promoted the Wintour homosexual chorus. Three instances were from:

ABC News:

ABC News Brisbane, Qld reported that ‘Wintour said when Australia passed same-sex marriage in 2017, “the world sang in celebration” with it’. Wintour continued:

“Intolerance has no place in tennis. What we love [is] watching these remarkable men and women exceed themselves while being themselves in many different forms.

“Margaret Court was a champion on the court but a meeting point for players of all nations, preferences, and backgrounds should celebrate somebody who was a champion off the court as well.”

Do you hear Wintour’s ‘off the court’ intolerance towards Margaret Court’s sexual values as a Christian?

This article quoted Margaret Court’s views about the approach of her opponents who call for the renaming of the Margaret Court Arena at Melbourne Park. Court called this ‘another example of freedom of religion under threat…. I should be able to have my say as a minister of the Gospel…. I believe I shouldn’t be bullied for what I did in my past’.

Not a word was stated in this article about Wintour’s intolerance towards Margaret Court’s views.

Channel 9:

MSN Channel 9 explained the Wintour event with similar quotes to those by The Age and ABC News Brisbane about Primer Minister Scott Morrison and tennis champion and now Christian minister, Margaret Court.

Wintour didn’t hold back about her views on the proposed amendments to the Sex Discrimination Act:

“That no-one can be expelled from school for their orientation should not require clarification,” Wintour added, referring to previous proposals for the Sex Discrimination Act to be amended in a way to allow religious schools to do so.

“A government should protect its people, not make it unclear whether they will be accepted and we are struggling with these issues in the United States as well.”

This article failed to expose Wintour’s own intolerance in her speech. provided similar details on the Wintour speech, with a sub-heading, ‘Fashion legend Anna Wintour has taken a swipe at Australia’s Prime Minister and one of our greatest tennis stars in a scathing speech’.

This news report and others were pleased to use Wintour’s statement in her speech: ‘This much I think is clear to anyone who understands the spirit and the joy of the game. Intolerance has no place in tennis’.

Again there was no effort to demonstrate Wintour’s own intolerance.

In this article I point to an apparent lack of discernment by journalists into the nature of intolerance that Wintour actively perpetrated. She practised the very thing she complained about with Margaret Court and Scott Morrison.

This is one of the main issues:

Intolerant intolerance

clip_image007(image courtesy Pinterest)

Dr Jeremy Sherman exposed the nature of Wintour’s intolerant intolerance with examples from other situations that can be applied specifically to Wintour’s proclamation at the speech delivered at the Australian Open Inspirational Series in Melbourne on 24 January 2019.

  • “It’s true. We shouldn’t tolerate intolerance. We should nip it in the bud, set clear boundaries.”
  • “If we tolerate intolerance it spreads: Racism, sexism, prejudices of all sorts, judgmentalism, negativity, bigotry, factions squaring off and fighting: right vs. left, this fundamentalism vs. that.”
  • “An eye for an eye just leaves the whole world blind.”
  • “To bring about greater harmony we must all of us be tolerant. No exceptions. Loving, listening, caring for each other, respecting each other’s opinions whatever they may be.”

Sherman exposed our hypocrisy when we try to tolerate certain behaviours yet name others as being intolerant. He said the ‘truest practical question’ is ‘not whether to be tolerant or intolerant but when to be which’.

So far, I have not noticed the mass media I read expose Wintour’s intolerance of her own views – against Margaret Court’s and Scott Morrison’s views.

Sherman rightly exposed the dilemma:

‘Folks who don’t notice the hypocrisy don’t appreciate the bind we’re all in and they cut themselves unconscionable slack. They manage the bind ineptly at best, self-servingly at worst, telling people not to be judgmental when they’re being criticized, and not noticing they’re being judgmental when criticizing others’.


(image courtesy Pinterest)

In applying this to Wintour’s speech content, Wintour didn’t seem to be aware that she herself was intolerant towards Margaret Court’s and Scott Morrison’s values. It would been startling to hear Wintour admit: ‘I oppose Court’s views on homosexuality, but in saying that, I’m making an admission this is an intolerant statement I’m making’.

It would have been even more remarkable to hear Wintour admit: ‘We live in a free society where freedom of religion and thought are allowed. It shouldn’t be surprising that a modern society like ours accepts homosexual behaviour, but I should not lambast Margaret Court’s worldview as that would demonstrate my intolerance’.

Michael Mendis calls it ‘the paradox of tolerance‘ because tolerance is a ‘self-contradictory principle’ as it is reflexive. The phrase is not original with him:

He stated that the principle of tolerance ‘dictates that we must be tolerant of everything. We cannot pick and choose what we will tolerate and what we will not. If this is so, then tolerance requires us to tolerate even intolerance‘.

Thus, if somebody is proclaiming or practising intolerance, Mendis rightly observes that ‘the tolerant person cannot, in principle, speak out against what the intolerant person is doing, since speaking out against intolerance would itself be an act of intolerance”.

Therefore, his assessment was that ‘tolerance as a principle, then, is clearly illogical, and therefore irrational. It is much more logical and rational to espouse intolerance, for then one does not get entangled in any contradictions-self or otherwise.

Intolerance as a principle does not require us to be consistently and universally intolerant’.

Who raised this paradox?

Enter Sir Karl Popper, Austrian-British philosopher of science and political philosopher:

“Less well known is the paradox of tolerance: Unlimited tolerance must lead to the disappearance of tolerance. If we extend unlimited tolerance even to those who are intolerant, if we are not prepared to defend a tolerant society against the onslaught of the intolerant, then the tolerant will be destroyed, and tolerance with them”.

In my view, it shows the lack of logical precision by the Australian mass media that they don’t expose the intolerant intolerance by Dame Anna Wintour’s statements against Margaret Court’s Christian beliefs about homosexuality and the Prime Minister’s views on amendments to the Sex Discrimination Act.

Intolerant tolerance of Court’s & Morrison’s values

clip_image011(image courtesy

The Collins’ Dictionary (online) defines ‘intolerance’ as an ‘unwillingness to let other people act in a different way or hold different opinions from you’ (2019. s.v. intolerance).

Therefore, for Wintour to accuse Margaret Court of intolerance because she didn’t support same-sex marriage is to engage in an act of intolerance towards Court’s values. When will the supporters of certain values wake up to the fact that to accuse opponents of being intolerant is to engage in an act of intolerance perpetrated by themselves?

Other media join the Wintour spin

1. Sporting News, Australian Open: Anna Wintour slams Margaret Court over gay marriage stance (24 January 2019).

2. Perth Now, Wintour of discontent gets a serve from WA tennis legend Margaret Court (25 January 2019).

3. Daily Mail Australia, Fashion icon Anna Wintour slams Scott Morrison’s gay rights record and calls for the Margaret Court Arena to be renamed in a fiery speech – but she’s not Snow White when it comes to the #MeToo era (24 January 2019).

4. Women’s Agenda, Thank you Anna Wintour for highlighting what should be key to sport: ‘Intolerance has no place’ (February 2019).

5. Vogue Australia, Anna Wintour on inclusivity and the power of tennis (24 January 2019).

6. Fox Sports, Australian Open 2019: Anna Wintour calls for Margaret Court Arena to be renamed (24 January 2019).

7. SBS News, Vogue editor Anna Wintour slams Scott Morrison on LGBTQ rights (24 January 2019).

8. WWD, Anna Wintour Slams Margaret Court and Australian PM Over LGBT Issues (24 January 2019).

9. 3AW News Talk, Tom Elliott takes “hypocritical” Anna Wintour to task over Margaret Court comments (24 January 2019).

10. CNN, Anna Wintour slams Margaret Court, Scott Morrison over LGBTQ rights (25 January 2019).

Intolerant intolerance

See: Be Intolerant Of Intolerance! At:

Also, The Paradox of Tolerance:

Enter Karl Popper: Paradox of tolerance,

Works consulted

Singer, M 2019. ‘Intolerance has no place in tennis’: Wintour criticises Margaret Court. The Age (online), 24 January 2019. Available at: (Accessed 8 February 2019).


(image courtesy Brotherhood News:

Facebook censors biblical posts against homosexuality)

Copyright © 2019 Spencer D. Gear. This document last updated at Date: 05 March 2019.

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Advantages & disadvantages of distance education – a personal perspective


(image courtesy ChristArt)

By Spencer D Gear PhD

I pursued a PhD in New Testament (British model of dissertation only) through distance education. These are some of the advantages and disadvantages, as I see them, of pursuing distance education:

A. Advantages

clip_image003(image courtesy Distance Learnings)

  1. A GREAT advantage is that I can pursue all of the education from home, as long as I have computer and Internet access.
  2. This means that costs are much less as I didn’t have to move house locations with my wife or use public transport.
  3. Based on my previous academic qualifications, the options for study were increased substantially, as long as online degrees were available through the college, seminary or university.
  4. As a general rule, I didn’t go to other libraries as most articles (a few exceptions) were available through EBSCO and Google Scholar, if the University subscribed to most journals needed for the research.
  5. On personal issues with my progress, I could Skype my supervisor.
  6. I benefitted from Skype connection for my verbal defence of the thesis. I received the positive decision of successful defence within minutes of completing the interview.

B. Disadvantages

clip_image004(image courtesy Clipart Library)

1. Since I pursued my BA and MA in a classroom environment, I miss the interaction with people of different perspectives. The dynamic of the classroom is absent – Big Time!!

2. Being able to ask (and get answers) from professors in an immediate context is missing. At the beginning of the academic year, I sent material through to my supervisor but it could take him 3 weeks to get to it as he is also teaching in the classroom. Getting immediate feedback is an issue.

3. Accessing library resources is a challenge as many journals are available online but many other academic resources are not. Most resources in my technical area are not available at or through my local library. I have to travel many km (or miles) to access books that I need. When a journal article is not available, I had access to a librarian assistant who has been very helpful in tracking down most articles. However, there is the occasional article that was not found as the University did not subscribe to that journal.

4. How can this issue of distance education be solved?

5. Webcam and Skype could be used more effectively in interacting with other students and supervisor. More online interaction with other students could be promoted, but busy students don’t always have an interest in the small focus of my dissertation. I’m also seeking interaction at a local theological college to see if there are students and faculty interested in my topic. But that also involves considerable travel to the location of the College.

6. Loneliness was the BIG issue for me. Doing it all alone takes a lot of discipline when I try to work 6-7 hours a day on the dissertation.

7. For continuing study after the degree is completed the databases of EBSCO and Google Scholar are not available from my home computer. I have to make an arrangement with a theological library in Australia that has access to all of the journals I require.

8. I completed my dissertation in April 2015 and graduated in September 2015 after 5 years of research with the University of Pretoria, South Africa.

C. Conclusion

If I were to pursue doctoral study again, I would choose the distance education mode, but with these changes:

  1. Find a theological discussion group in my city of Brisbane, which had a population of 2.27 million at the 2016 census. If living in a regional part of this large country of Australia, meeting with other theological students for discussion would have to be via Skype. Then one has to deal with the availability of Skype transmission in remote areas.
  2. Meet with those at higher levels of study who are engaged in advanced degrees of study.
  3. My pastor and the laity in my church were not able to discuss these issues with understanding.
  4. I completed my PhD at age 69 in 2015.

My completed dissertation is available at: Gear, Spencer D, Crossan and the resurrection of Jesus : rethinking presuppositions, methods and models.


(image courtesy Liturgy (NZ))

Copyright © 2019 Spencer D. Gear. This document last updated at Date: 05March 2019.

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Can people choose to reject salvation?

Do all people have free will?

Image result for clipart Free Will

(image courtesy Breaking the Free Will Illusion)

By Spencer D Gear PhD

This brief article was prompted by an email from Christian friends. They wrote:

With regard to the [church we attend], the doctrinal issue we are sad about is that they teach “free will” as entrance to salvation.  We strongly disagree as we believe that the unregenerate man/woman is incapable of choosing God, as our wills are enslaved to sin and death through the first fall.  We believe it is only by God’s Grace alone, through Faith, and believing that Jesus is the Christ, the Son of God, and this Faith is only by revelation of the Holy Ghost. (Ephesians 2:8-9, emphasis added)

We believe there are two types of religion in this world  –  religion of human achievement, and the true religion of Grace alone and Faith alone by God the Father alone through His Son Jesus Christ alone, and His Spirit alone..[1]

1. People are incapable of choosing God

Is it a biblical teaching that an unregenerate person, dead in sin, is incapable of choosing to serve God?

As to the issue of free will in relation to salvation, how do you define free will?

I define it as the ability to decide between alternatives. Adam and Eve had this free will ability given by God at the beginning of the world. Adam is our representative, ‘Sin entered the world through one man, and death through sin, and in this way death came to all people, because all sinned’ (Rom 5:12).

This definition is not original with me. Norman Geisler and Ron Brooks explained:

There are several points on which there is confusion about what is meant by free will. Some have said that it refers to the ability to desire. But a better definition is that it is the ability to decide between alternatives. Desire is a passion, an emotion; but will is a choice between two or more desires. Also, some think that to be free means that there can be no limitation of alternatives—one must be able to do whatever he wants. But the opposite of freedom is not fewer alternatives, it is being forced to choose one thing and not another. Freedom is not in unlimited options, but in unfettered choice between whatever options there are. As long as the choosing comes from the individual rather than an outside force, the decision is made freely. Free will means the ability to make an unforced decision between two or more alternatives (Geisler & Brooks 1990:63).

1.1   Adam and Eve had free will before and after sin entered the world.

God gave Adam and Eve the capability to choose between two alternatives:

‘In the middle of the garden he placed the tree of life and the tree of the knowledge of good and evil….

The LORD God placed the man in the Garden of Eden to tend and watch over it. But the LORD God warned him, “You may freely eat the fruit of every tree in the garden—except the tree of he knowledge of good and evil. If you eat its fruit, you are sure to die”’ (Gen 2:9, 15-17 NLT).

So from the beginning of time, Adam was given the choice between alternatives (free will). What happened when Eve came along?

2 “Of course we may eat fruit from the trees in the garden,” the woman replied [to the serpent [Satan]. 3 “It’s only the fruit from the tree in the middle of the garden that we are not allowed to eat. God said, ‘You must not eat it or even touch it; if you do, you will die.’”

4 “You won’t die!” the serpent replied to the woman. 5 “God knows that your eyes will be opened as soon as you eat it, and you will be like God, knowing both good and evil.”

6 The woman was convinced. She saw that the tree was beautiful and its fruit looked delicious, and she wanted the wisdom it would give her. So she took some of the fruit and ate it. Then she gave some to her husband, who was with her, and he ate it, too. 7 At that moment their eyes were opened, and they suddenly felt shame at their nakedness (Gen 3:2-7 NLT).

Both Adam and Eve had free will that God gave to them. Eve was deceived and was joined by Adam, the ‘sucker’.

2.    Free will after sin entered the world

What about free will after this sin entered the world? Do all human beings, dead in sin (Col 2:13), have the ability to choose among alternatives, including evil over good?

2.1   Meaning of ‘dead in sin’

Here are four translations of the phrase (Eph 2:1; Col 2:13) that should shed some insight on Col 2:13.

GNT: ‘spiritually dead because of your sins’;

NLT: ‘were dead because of your sins’;

ERV:[2] ‘you were spiritually dead because of your sins’;

NIRV:[3] ‘You were living in your sins and lawless ways. But in fact you were dead’.

Regarding Eph 2:1 and ‘dead in sin’:

The word for dead in Greek is nekros, which literally means a corpse or dead body. Since we know Paul is talking about a spiritual state (not a physical state), we must understand this deadness refers to our spiritual life. The Ephesians were alive physically but dead spiritually. Paul chose this comparison because it accurately describes not only the nature of an unbeliever but also the impossibility of an unbeliever recognizing and correcting his own condition. Just as a corpse cannot revive itself to life, neither can an unbeliever revive his own spirit into new life (Verse by Verse Ministry international 2018).

2.2   Biblical examples of free will from the Old Testament

clip_image002Exodus 19:3-8 (NLT):

3 Then Moses climbed the mountain to appear before God. The Lord called to him from the mountain and said, “Give these instructions to the family of Jacob; announce it to the descendants of Israel: 4 ‘You have seen what I did to the Egyptians. You know how I carried you on eagles’ wings and brought you to myself. 5 Now if you will obey me and keep my covenant, you will be my own special treasure from among all the peoples on earth; for all the earth belongs to me. 6 And you will be my kingdom of priests, my holy nation.’ This is the message you must give to the people of Israel.”

7 So Moses returned from the mountain and called together the elders of the people and told them everything the Lord had commanded him. 8 And all the people responded together, “We will do everything the Lord has commanded.” So Moses brought the people’s answer back to the Lord.

The Lord, through Moses, gave the ‘family of Jacob’ this choice: ‘obey me and keep my covenant‘ and you will receive ‘special treasure’. However, he reminded ‘the descendants of Israel of what God ‘did to the Egyptians’. They had the choice to be like the Egyptians or to obey God’s covenant. What was the free will choice: ‘We will do everything the Lord has commanded’.

That was an example of the group free will of the 12 tribes of Israel to make a choice.

clip_image002[1]   Deuteronomy 5

This is the chapter where the Ten Commandments are repeated. These 3 verses provide a solid foundation built on the free will they could choose to be idolaters or serve God:

8 ‘You must not make any idols. Don’t make any statues or pictures of anything up in the sky or of anything on the earth or of anything down in the water. 9 Don’t worship or serve idols of any kind, because I am the Lord your God. I hate for my people to worship other gods. People who sin against me become my enemies. And I will punish them, and their children, their grandchildren, and even their great-grandchildren. 10 But I will be very kind to people who love me and obey my commands. I will be kind to their families for thousands of generations! (Deut 5:8-10 ERV)

This chapter has many commands to obey God’s laws, but also has warnings about disobeying:

blue-corrosion-arrow-small In vv 8-9, the command was against idolatry ‘because I am the Lord your God’. That’s the positive command.

blue-corrosion-arrow-small However, if the Israelites chose to serve other gods (they are able to sin against God), they then become His enemies and He punishes them, children, grandchildren and great-grandchildren.

blue-corrosion-arrow-small God will be very kind to the obedient people and their families for thousands of generations (v. 10).

If it was impossible for the Israelites to choose to disobey God, there would be no point in issuing this warning. The teaching here is that the Israelites had the power of alternative choices – idols or the one true God. This defines free will.

clip_image002[1] Deut 11:27-28 (NLT):

27 You will be blessed if you obey the commands of the Lord your God that I am giving you today. 28 But you will be cursed if you reject the commands of the clip_image004Lord your God and turn away from him and worship gods you have not known before.

The Israelites could choose between 2 alternatives: (1) obey the Lord’s commands and be blessed, or (2) Reject the Lord’s commands, worship other gods, and they will be cursed. This is free will in action in God’s old covenant.

clip_image005Joshua 24:11-15 (NLT):

11 “When you crossed the Jordan River and came to Jericho, the men of Jericho fought against you, as did the Amorites, the Perizzites, the Canaanites, the Hittites, the Girgashites, the Hivites, and the Jebusites. But I gave you victory over them. 12 And I sent terror[c] ahead of you to drive out the two kings of the Amorites. It was not your swords or bows that brought you victory. 13 I gave you land you had not worked on, and I gave you towns you did not build—the towns where you are now living. I gave you vineyards and olive groves for food, though you did not plant them.

14 “So fear the Lord and serve him wholeheartedly. Put away forever the idols your ancestors worshiped when they lived beyond the Euphrates River and in Egypt. Serve the Lord alone. 15 But if you refuse to serve the Lord, then choose today whom you will serve. Would you prefer the gods your ancestors served beyond the Euphrates? Or will it be the gods of the Amorites in whose land you now live? But as for me and my family, we will serve the Lord”.

It is clear what Joshua laid before the Israelites who were sinners: Choose whom you will serve – the gods of your ancestors and the Amorites – OR serve the Lord. God’s chosen people had a free will choice between 2 alternatives.

For further exposition on Josh 24:15, see: Choose does not mean choice! Joshua 24:15.

3.    Free will and salvation

What do we find in the NT when the Gospel of salvation is offered to all people? Can they accept or reject it? Or are they unconditionally elected and are irresistibly drawn to Jesus because He died only for the elect?

I have taken these points from my article, What is the nature of human free will?

When we ask, ‘What is the nature of free will or free choice?’ we may be asking: How long is a piece of string in theological terms? If we are going to answer this question with biblical accuracy, we will need to ask further questions about:

Image result for clipart choose Christ(image courtesy ChristArt)

  1. Free will / free choice and the power of God (see Isa 45:11-13; 46:4; Jer 32:16-44; Acts 4:24-31);
  2. Free choice and the decrees of God (Rom 8:28; Eph 1:9, 11; 3:11);
  3. Free choice and the salvation of human beings (Tit 2:11; Prov 1:23; Isa 31:6; Ezek 14:6; Matt 18:3; Acts 2:38; 3:19; 16:31; 17:30; Phil 1:39; 1 Jn 3:23);
  4. Free choice as it is related to God’s providence (Jas 4:2);
  5. Free choice and God’s foreknowledge (Rom 8:29-30; 2 Cor 6:1-2; 1 Pt 1:1-2);
  6. Free choice and a human being’s moral nature (Jn 1:12-13; 7:17; Rom 3:26; Heb 3:7-8, 15; 4);
  7. Free choice and Adam’s original sin (the origin of the sin of the human race) [Gen 3:1-8; Rom 5:12-19; 1 Cor 15:21-22; 1 Tim 2:13-14];
  8. Free choice and human depravity (Deut 6:4-5; Matt 22:35-38; Rom 2:14; 7:18; 8:14; 2 Tim 3:4);
  9. Free choice and eternal security/perseverance of the saints (Jer 3:12, 14, 22; Hos 14:4; Mt 24:13; Mk 4:16-17; 7:21-23; Jn 6:66-67; 13:10-11; Heb 6:4-6; 10:26-31; 2 Pt 2:20-22; 1 Jn 2:19)[listed in  Thiessen 1949:524].

In relation to salvation, I consider that the Bible teaches …
clip_image002[2]All salvation is provided by God himself. It is a gift from God. As Eph 2:8-9 (NLT) puts it,

8 God saved you by his grace when you believed. And you can’t take credit for this; it is a gift from God. 9 Salvation is not a reward for the good things we have done, so none of us can boast about it.

clip_image006God elects / predestines people to salvation:

According to Arminianism, election is that act of God whereby he foreordains to eternal life those whom he foresees will respond in faith to the gospel. According to Calvinism, election is that act of God whereby he foreordains to eternal life those who, because of sin, cannot and will not respond in faith to the gospel. Which of these two views is the one the Bible teaches? Or is there a third, mediating option? (Storms 2018).

This is supported by verses such as 1 Peter 1:1 (NIV),

Peter, an apostle of Jesus Christ,

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

God in his foreknowledge, elected people to salvation. Was this an unconditional election (Calvinism), or was it conditional election (Arminianism) or based on some other factor. That other element is:

clip_image002[3]People choose (because of their free will) between alternatives: to respond in faith and repentance to the Gospel OR to reject the Gospel. An example is found with the Philippian jailer and Paul and Silas when released from prison:

Image result for clipart Philippian jailer(image of Philippian jailer courtesy Garden of Praise)

25 About midnight Paul and Silas were praying and singing hymns to God, and the other prisoners were listening to them. 26 Suddenly there was such a violent earthquake that the foundations of the prison were shaken. At once all the prison doors flew open, and everyone’s chains came loose. 27 The jailer woke up, and when he saw the prison doors open, he drew his sword and was about to kill himself because he thought the prisoners had escaped. 28 But Paul shouted, ‘Don’t harm yourself! We are all here!’

29 The jailer called for lights, rushed in and fell trembling before Paul and Silas. 30 He then brought them out and asked, ‘Sirs, what must I do to be saved?’

31 They replied, ‘Believe in the Lord Jesus, and you will be saved – you and your household.’ 32 Then they spoke the word of the Lord to him and to all the others in his house (Acts 16:25-31 NIV).

This jailer, dead in trespasses and sin, responded to the proclamation made by Paul and Silas in prison, ‘Sirs, what must I do to be saved?’ Paul and Silas did not say, ‘Do nothing. God has done it all for you. You are unconditionally elected and are in the Kingdom’.
Instead, Paul & Silas commanded: ‘[You] believe in the Lord Jesus, and you will be saved – you and your household’.

There cannot be a Gospel response to receive salvation without human responsibility of the choice between Yes or No to the Gospel. Otherwise it is God’s authoritarian dictatorship that does away with certain biblical emphases.
How can this be? It’s because God’s grace has been extended to everyone and they respond in faith or reject the Gospel. We have this partially explained in Titus 2:11 (NIV), ‘For the grace of God has appeared that offers salvation to all people’.

Salvation is offered to all but not all respond in faith. That’s not because of irresistible grace because ‘the grace of God has appeared that offers salvation to all people’.
For further explanations, see my articles:

There may be many questions that come from my response. In my understanding of free will, I’m a leaky, Reformed Arminian. To his dying day, Jacob Arminius was a Dutch Reformed minister who taught in the Reformed University of Leiden. I’m a ‘leaky’ one because I do not believe in Arminian infant baptism. Baptism is for believers in my biblical understanding. (Matt 28:18-20; Acts 8:36, 38).

See my article, Believer’s baptism or infant baptism?

4. Conclusion

From the beginning of time (with Adam and Eve) right through to salvation, God’s view is that human beings have free-will choice to accept or reject him. All people can choose to follow other gods or God Himself (Joshua 24:14-15).

They can choose to accept or reject evidence for the existence of God (Romans 1:18-22) or choose to believe in Jesus (Acts 16:31) or reject his offer of salvation (John 3:19-21).

In this article, I use ‘choose’ and ‘free will’ to mean the ability to decide between alternatives. Yes, people are drawn to salvation by God the Father (John 6:44) but Scripture assures us that all people are drawn since Jesus since Jesus death and resurrection when he was ‘lifted up (John 12:32).

5. Works consulted

Geisler, N L & Brooks, R M 1990. When skeptics ask. Wheaton, Illinois: Victor Books.

Storms, S 2018. The Arminian concept of election. Sam Storms: Enjoying God (online). Available at: (Accessed 16 August 2018).

Thiessen, H C 1949. Introductory lectures in systematic theology. Grand Rapids, Michigan: Wm. B. Eerdmans Publishing Company.

Verse by Verse Ministry international 2018. Could you explain the connection between our spiritual “deadness” and God’s grace, as presented in Ephesians 2:1-10? (online). Available at: (Accessed 16 August 2018).

6.   Notes

[1] I received this email on 1 May 2018.

[2] The ERV is the Easy-to-Read Version. This version also is for a lower literacy level.

[3] The NIRV is the New International Reader’s Version. This is for a lower literacy level than the NIV.

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

Flourish pattern with butterflies vector clip art

The Rapture in the early church fathers

1 Thessalonians 4:17 on the Rapture


(image courtesy Pinterest)

By Spencer D Gear PhD

Do you think anyone in the Christian church could be so audacious to make this kind of statement about eschatology (end times)? ‘The Rapture doctrine is only taught in America. Hardly anyone outside the US believes in such things’.[1]

1. Misinformation re rapture teaching

I found this statement not only overconfident but also ignorant of what is going to happen at the time of Christ’s second coming that will end world history.

Therefore, my response was:[2]

Come across the Tasman from NZ (Angelina lives in NZ) and you’ll find lots of people in Australia who also teach the Rapture, especially in Dispensational circles. I was taught it in an Assemblies of God Bible College in Brisbane in the 1970s. You’ll find it among Baptists, Wesleyan Methodists, especially Christian Brethren (Gospel Hall), and other evangelicals. There is a large Open Brethren assembly 15 minutes from where I live that teaches the Rapture.

2. Who will teach the Rapture?

clip_image004Any promoters of premillennial, pre-, mid- or post-tribulation eschatology, will promote the Rapture. See some examples in this publication (image on left) that deals with three views of the rapture.

Anyone who accepts one of these eschatological views will promote a Rapture of the saints. Here we have Three Views of the Rapture (Gundry et al 1996) that could be taught in any country around the world.

If you read the beliefs of Northside Baptist Church, Perth WA, Australia, you’ll see the doctrine of the Rapture taught. Here’s a list of Christian Brethren assemblies in your own country of New Zealand that teach the Rapture doctrine.

The Rapture is certainly not a doctrine restricted to North America. One of the leading verses used by Bible teachers to proclaim the Rapture is …

2.1    Interpretation of 1 Thessalonians 4:17

Therefore, how do we understand 1 Thessalonians 4:17 (ESV), ‘Then we who are alive, who are left, will be caught up together with them in the clouds to meet the Lord in the air, and so we will always be with the Lord’?

What does ‘caught up together’ mean? The catching/snatching up is into the clouds to meet the Lord. Should this be taken literally or is there some symbolic view here that shoots down literal interpretation?

Is the Rapture bunkum doctrine promoted for ecstatic, futuristic reasons? Is this an over-the-top brand of exuberant pre-mill, pre-trib fundamentalism that is designed to get a following of those looking for a way out of this wicked world?

This is the context of verse 17 in 1 Thess 4:13-17 (NABRE):[3]

13 We do not want you to be unaware, brothers [and sisters], about those who have fallen asleep, so that you may not grieve like the rest, who have no hope. 14 For if we believe that Jesus died and rose, so too will God, through Jesus, bring with him those who have fallen asleep. 15 Indeed, we tell you this, on the word of the Lord, that we who are alive, who are left until the coming of the Lord, will surely not precede those who have fallen asleep. 16 For the Lord himself, with a word of command, with the voice of an archangel and with the trumpet of God, will come down from heaven, and the dead in Christ will rise first. 17 Then we who are alive, who are left, will be caught up together[4] with them in the clouds to meet the Lord in the air. Thus we shall always be with the Lord.

To what is verse 17 referring? This is my:

2.1.1   Textual outline of 1 Thessalonians 4:13-17

clip_image006(photo courtesy Rapture bombs’: Clothes at the end)

a. Be aware of the destiny of those who have died (fallen asleep) (v. 13).

b. Don’t grieve like those who have no hope (after death) (v. 13).

c. Belief in Jesus’ death & resurrection at death puts you in the group coming with Jesus when he returns (v. 14).

d. The Lord’s word is: Those alive when Jesus’ returns will not precede [rising before] those who have died (v. 15).

e. The Lord’s shout / trumpet will be blasted as he returns and the dead in Christ rise first (v. 16).

f. Those sill alive will be caught up (raptured) with the Lord and others in the air (v. 17).

g. Then all believers will be with the Lord always (v. 17).

Another on that Christian forum spoke up:

I have been to [a] couple of countries where protestant denominations teach Rapture. They did that even long before Iron Curtain came down and Americans got there.

The reason why Rapture was not taught until just a couple of centuries ago is because Christian doctrine was controlled by Catholic/Orthodox churches. In some countries Bibles in native languages were not even available until 18th century and few people were literate enough to read them.[5]

2.1.2  Exegesis of 1 Thess 4:17

The contentious verse 17 in the Greek can be read at SBLNT.

The key word causing controversy against the Rapture doctrine is harpagesometha. I need to get a little technical to parse this word and seek its meaning in lexicons and word studies. It is first person plural (i.e. ‘we’), future, passive, indicative of harpazw (will be caught up).

Harpazw means ‘I snatch or take away … in such a way that no resistance is offered’. Paul was ‘caught up to the third heaven’ (2 Cor 12:2). First Thess 4:17 is associated with this meaning of being snatched away with no way to resist (Bauer, Arndt & Gingrich 1957:108).

The church being ‘caught up’ or raptured was taught long before J N Darby (1800-1882).[6] Darby was the founder of the Plymouth Brethren denomination in the UK who promoted his dispensational theories, beginning in the Anglican church but he found no satisfaction there (see Graves 2007).

clip_image008(image courtesy Daily Mail)

In his word study of harpazw, Foerster (1964:472) gave the meaning as ‘to take something forcefully (firmly, quickly, or rapaciously)’.[7] It can mean ‘to steal’ (Josephus) and in the NT is is ‘used in parables to speak of conflict between the kingdom of God and that of Satan… It occurs at 2 Cor:12:2, 4 (vision); 1 Thess 4:17; Rev 12:5 (“to catch up or away”); Acts 8:39 – always expressing a mighty operation of God’.

A T Robertson’s assessment was that harpazw was an ‘old verb to seize, to carry off like Latin rapio…. This rapture of the saints (both risen and changed) is a glorious climax to Paul’s argument of consolation’ (Robertson 1931:32). Vincent’s word studies (1887/1946:43) gives the meaning of ‘shall be caught up’ to include ‘by a swift, resistless, divine energy’ (cf. 2 Cor 12:2, 4; Acts 8:39).

Therefore, the meaning of ‘caught up’ in 1 Thess 4:17 is to be caught up or taken away forcefully by a mighty operation of God, called the Rapture.

The message of the Rapture in 1 Thess 4:17 harmonises with Jesus’ statements about his Second Coming in Matthew 24:36-44 (NLT):

36 “However, no one knows the day or hour when these things will happen, not even the angels in heaven or the Son himself.[k] Only the Father knows.

37 “When the Son of Man returns, it will be like it was in Noah’s day. 38 In those days before the flood, the people were enjoying banquets and parties and weddings right up to the time Noah entered his boat. 39 People didn’t realize what was going to happen until the flood came and swept them all away. That is the way it will be when the Son of Man comes.

40 “Two men will be working together in the field; one will be taken, the other left. 41 Two women will be grinding flour at the mill; one will be taken, the other left.

42 “So you, too, must keep watch! For you don’t know what day your Lord is coming. 43 Understand this: If a homeowner knew exactly when a burglar was coming, he would keep watch and not permit his house to be broken into. 44 You also must be ready all the time, for the Son of Man will come when least expected.

Christians don’t know the time of the Second Coming of Jesus and the Rapture of the church. Only God the Father knows that. However, those who love the Lord live in glorious expectation of meeting our Master and Saviour.

3. If you don’t know the information, use a logical fallacy

His reply was this sarcasm: ‘It is your opinion only. One of millions in at least a dozen of variations of beliefs on this topic. Go ahead and start a million first pre-post-mid-none trib topic’.[8] My rejoinder was, ‘It was NOT my opinion. I provided you with evidence from a church father to refute your view, but that’s not good enough’.[9]

Notice what he did. I provided the evidence so he erected a straw man logical fallacy. This happened when Skitnik ignored the evidence I presented and created his own distorted misrepresentation of what I stated. I provided evidence from Irenaeus that the rapture teaching was taught long before the last 2 centuries. His comeback was that it was my opinion. No, I provided the evidence that his statement was incorrect but he refused to accept that.

4.   Evidence from other early church fathers or literature

clip_image010(image courtesy Endtime Ministries)

The Shepherd of Hermas (ca. 150):[10]

You have escaped from great tribulation on account of your faith, and because you did not doubt in the presence of such a beast. Go, therefore, and tell the elect of the Lord His mighty deeds, and say to them that this beast is a type of the great tribulation that is coming. If then you prepare yourselves, and repent with all your heart, and turn to the Lord, it will be possible for you to escape it, if your heart be pure and spotless, and you spend the rest of the days of your life in serving the Lord blamelessly (Hermas, vision 4, ch 2, emphasis added).

Irenaeus (ca AD 130-202) wrote in his famous treatise, Against Heresies (5.29.1)

Those nations however, who did not of themselves raise up their eyes unto heaven, nor returned thanks to their Maker, nor wished to behold the light of truth, but who were like blind mice concealed in the depths of ignorance, the word justly reckons “as waste water from a sink, and as the turning-weight of a balance — in fact, as nothing;” (1) so far useful and serviceable to the just, as stubble conduces towards the growth of the wheat, and its straw, by means of combustion, serves for working gold. And therefore, when in the end the Church shall be suddenly caught up from this, it is said, “There shall be tribulation such as has not been since the beginning, neither shall be.” (2) For this is the last contest of the righteous, in which, when they overcome they are crowned with incorruption (emphasis added).

The church being ‘suddenly caught up’ is parallel with the language of 1 Thess 4:17.

Cyprian (ca. 200-258)[11] wrote in Treatise 7:

And this, as it ought always to be done by God’s servants, much more ought to be done now— now that the world is collapsing and is oppressed with the tempests of mischievous ills; in order that we who see that terrible things have begun, and know that still more terrible things are imminent, may regard it as the greatest advantage to depart from it as quickly as possible. If in your dwelling the walls were shaking with age, the roofs above you were trembling, and the house, now worn out and wearied, were threatening an immediate destruction to its structure crumbling with age, would you not with all speed depart? If, when you were on a voyage, an angry and raging tempest, by the waves violently aroused, foretold the coming shipwreck, would you not quickly seek the harbour? Lo, the world is changing and passing away, and witnesses to its ruin not now by its age, but by the end of things. And do you not give God thanks, do you not congratulate yourself, that by an earlier departure you are taken away, and delivered from the shipwrecks and disasters that are imminent? (Cyprian 7.25)

Ephraim (AD 306 – 373) was made a deacon in the church in Syria in 338 and later became the bishop of Nisibis. Although he was made a “saint” in the Roman Catholic Church, he was not involved in Catholicism and did not even live in the Roman Empire until the final years of his life. The book Pseudo Ephraim is one of his still existing works. It was called “Pseudo” because of later dispute over authorship. However the book’s one reference to the rapture is very compelling.

In his work, On The Last Times 2, he wrote:

We ought to understand thoroughly therefore, my brothers, what is imminent or overhanging. Already there have been hunger and plagues, violent movements of nations and signs, which have been predicted by the Lord, they have already been fulfilled (consummated), and there is not other which remains, except the advent of the wicked one in the completion of the Roman kingdom. Why therefore are we occupied with worldly business, and why is our mind held fixed on the lusts of the world or on the anxieties of the ages? Why therefore do we not reject every care of worldly business, and why is our mind held fixed on the lusts of the world or on the anxieties of the ages? Why therefore do we not reject every care of earthly actions and prepare ourselves for the meeting of the Lord Christ, so that he may draw us from the confusion, which overwhelms all the world? Believe you me, dearest brother, because the coming (advent) of the Lord is nigh, believe you me, because the end of the world is at hand, believe me, because it is the very last time.

Or do you not believe unless you see with your eyes? See to it that this sentence be not fulfilled among you of the prophet who declares: “Woe to those who desire to see the day of the Lord!” For all the saints and elect of God are gathered, prior to the tribulation that is to come, and are taken to the Lord lest they see the confusion that is to overwhelm the world because of our sins. And so, brothers most dear to me, it is the eleventh hour, and the end of the world comes to the harvest, and angels, armed and prepared, hold sickles in their hands, awaiting the empire of the Lord. And we think that the earth exists with blind infidelity, arriving at its downfall early. Commotions are brought forth, wars of diverse peoples and battles and incursions of the barbarians threaten, and our regions shall be desolated, and we neither become very much afraid of the report nor of the appearance, in order that we may at least do penance; because they hurl fear at us, and we do not wish to be changed, although we at least stand in need of penance for our actions!’

With a sense of urgency and strong warning, Ephraim writes that the end times are upon this world and could start at any moment. This text very clearly states the saints and elect of God, all born again believers in The Lord Jesus Christ, will be “taken to the Lord” before the Great Tribulation. Ephraim also identifies the Old Testament Day of The Lord and the end times Great tribulation as the same event (in line with the teachings of the Beginning and End Rapture Series). Ephraim quotes Amos 5:18 which says: “Woe unto you that desire the day of the LORD! to what end is it for you? the day of the LORD is darkness, and not light” (source).

5.   John Gill on the Rapture [12]

(image courtesy Pinterest)

clip_image012Dr. John Gill, a famous eighteenth-century Baptist theologian, published his commentary on the New Testament in 1748. He is considered a serious Calvinistic scholar who wrote many volumes on theology. In his commentary on I Thessalonians 4:15-17, Gill pointed out that Paul is teaching a doctrine that is ‘something new and extraordinary’. Gill calls the imminent translation of the saints ‘the rapture’ and calls for watchfulness because ‘it will be sudden, and unknown before-hand, and when least thought of and expected’. This is a clear, detailed 1748 teaching on the imminent pre-tribulation rapture (80 years prior to John Darby in 1830).

To summarise Dr. Gill’s 1748 pre-Tribulation Rapture teaching about the sequence of prophetic events it is vital to note that he declared: to all.

1. The Lord will descend in the air.
2. The saints will be raptured in the air to meet Him.
3. Here Christ will stop in the air and will be visible.
4. As yet, He will not descend on earth, because it is not fit to receive Him.
5. He’ll take up the saints with Him into the third heaven, till the general conflagration and burning of the world is over.
6. He will preserve them from it.
7. And then shall all the elect of God descend from heaven to earth with Christ.

Gill then summarised the sequence:

1) They shall be with Him, wherever He is; first in the air, where they shall meet Him, then Him; then
2) In the third heaven, where they shall go up with
3) On earth, where they shall descend and reign with Him a thousand years.

6.   Philip Schaff: The Earliest Church Fathers Were Premillennial[13]

Without question, premillennialism was the earliest and most widely held view by leading teachers in the earliest centuries of the church. The dean of church historians, Philip Schaff wrote, ‘The most striking point in the eschatology of the ante-Nicene Age [A.D. 100-325] is the prominent chiliasm, or millenarianism,… a widely current opinion of distinguished teachers, such as Barnabas, Papia, Justin Martyr, Irenaeus, Tertullian, Methodius, and Lactantius’ (Schaff 1884:2.614).

German historian Adolph Harnack wrote,

First in point of time came the faith in the nearness of Christ’s second advent and the establishing of His reign of glory on the earth. Indeed it appears so early that it might be questioned as an essential part of the Christian religion…. It must be admitted that this expectation was a prominent feature in the earliest proclamation of the gospel, and materially contributed to its success. If the primitive churches had been under the necessity of framing a “Confession of Faith,” it would certainly have embraced those pictures by means of which the near future was distinctly realized.[14]

7. The Rapture – Not Historic Christian Teaching?

clip_image014This (to the left) is Fr. Anthony M. Coniaris’s caricature of a raptured person[15]

His theology is:

In this brief article, Fr. Anthony expresses with clarity the truth of the false teaching known as the “Rapture” and how much it distorts the teachings of the Lord in the Holy Scriptures.

As I was driving one day I encountered a bumper sticker admonishing me:

“WARNING! In the event of Rapture, this car will be driverless.”

The strange belief in the Rapture teaches that some day (sooner rather than later), without warning, born-again Christians will begin to float up from the freeway, abandoned vehicles careening wildly. There will be airliners in the sky suddenly with no one at the controls! Presumably, God is removing these favored ones from earth to spare them the tribulation of the Anti-Christ which the rest of us will have to endure.

Unfortunately the Rapture has been promoted widely by the Left Behind series of books that have sold over 70 million copies.

The Rapture represents a radical misinterpretation of Scripture. I remember watching “Sixty Minutes”a year ago and was appalled to hear the announcer say that “the Rapture is an unmistakenly Christian doctrine”. It is not!

It is a serious distortion of Scripture.

It is astonishing that a belief so contrary to Scripture and the tradition of the Church could be propagated by so-called “Christians”.[16]

That was Father Coniaris’s view. It is not mine. As long as 1 Thess 4:16 is in the Bible, it will announce that there will be no secret Rapture:

‘For the Lord himself, with a word of command, with the voice of an archangel and with the trumpet of God, will come down from heaven, and the dead in Christ will rise first’ (NABRE).

8. No secret Rapture

Confusion enters this discussion when pre-tribulation promoters claim that Christians will be whisked away before the tribulation. It will be a secret rapture of the saints, they claim. Erickson (1985:1187) notes the biblical emphasis: ‘While the fact of the second coming is very emphatically and clearly asserted in Scripture, the time is not. Indeed, the Bible makes it clear that we do not know and cannot ascertain the exact time when Jesus will return’. See Mark 13:32-33, 35 (ESV) where ti states,

But concerning that day or that hour, no one knows, not even the angels in heaven, nor the Son, but only the Father. 33 Be on guard, keep awake. For you do not know when the time will come…. 35 Therefore stay awake—for you do not know when the master of the house will come, in the evening, or at midnight, or when the cock crows, or in the morning.

Norman Geisler summarised the Pretribulationism of Charles Ryrie, John Walvoord & Dwight Pentecost:

Pretribulationism holds that the Rapture of the church occurs before the Tribulation, during which the church, Christ’s bride, will be in heaven, standing before His judgment seat (2 Cor. 5:10) and preparing for His return to earth. Pretribulationism holds that Christ’s coming for His saints will be in the air and before the Tribulation; after the Tribulation, Christ will come with His saints and to earth to reign for a thousand years (Geisler 2005:612).

To address further aspects of this eschatology, see my articles,

clip_image016 Is the rapture of the church hogwash?
clip_image016[1] A pre-millennial, post-tribulation end times understanding

clip_image016[2] What is the origin of the pre-tribulation rapture of Christians?

9.   Conclusion

If people take the Scriptures seriously, they will confirm a Rapture according to 1 Thess 4:17. However, there is no unanimity on when it will happen. It could be pre-, mid-, or post-tribulation.

To deny the Rapture is to deny the Scripture and the content of 1 Thess 4:17. I find it best to conclude with Norman Geisler: ‘Only believers who have received the power of the Holy Spirit are in Christ’s body (Acts 1:8; 1 Cor. 12:13), so only those who have this power will be raptured (1 Thess. 4:16-17)’ [Geisler 2005:548].


(image courtesy Pinterest)

10. Works consulted

Bauer, W (transl, 4th rev, & aug ed), Arndt, W F & Gingrich, F W, 1957, A Greek-English lexicon of the New Testament, trans. & adapt. of Bauer, W, The University of Chicago Press (limited edition, Zondervan Publishing House), Chicago.

Cairns, E E 1981. Christianity through the Centuries, rev ed. Grand Rapids, Michigan: Zondervan Publishing House.

Coniaris, A M n.d. The Rapture – not historic Christian teaching. Orthocath (online). Available at: (Accessed 15 September 2016).

Erickson, M J 1985. Christian theology. Grand Rapids, Michigan: Baker Book House.

Foester, W 1964. harpazw, in Kittel, G (ed) Theological dictionary of the New Testament, vol 1, 372-373. Tr and ed by G W Bromiley. Grand Rapids, MI: Wm. B. Eerdmans Publishing Company.

Geisler, N 2005. Systematic theology: Church, last things, vol 4. Minneapolis, Minnesota: Bethany House.

Graves, D 2007. John Darby of the Plymouth Brethren. Christian History (online), April. Available at: (Accessed 28 February 2019).

Gundry, S N; Archer Jr., G L; Feinberg, P D; Moo, D J & Reiter, R R 1984,1996. Three views on the rapture: pre-, mid-, or post-tribulation. Grand Rapids, Michigan: Zondervan.

Harnack, A 1883. Millennium. The Encyclopedia Britannica, XVI, 9th ed. New York: Charles Scribner’s Sons.

Jeffrey, G n.d. Three fascinating discoveries! Rapture Ready (online). Available at: (Accessed 6 June 2016).

Robertson, A T 1931. Word pictures in the New Testament: The epistles of Paul, vol 4. Nashville, Tennessee: Broadman Press.

Schaff, P 1884. History of the Christian church, vol 2. New York: Scribner.

Showers, R E 1990. There really is a difference! A comparison of covenant and dispensational theology. Bellmawr, NJ: The Friends of Israel Gospel Ministry, Inc.

Vincent, M R 1887/1946. Word Studies in the New Testament, vol 4. Grand Rapids, Michigan: Wm. B. Eerdmans Publishing Co.

11.  Notes

[1] Christianity Board, Intense dreams, I need answers (online), Angelina#3. Available at: (Accessed 2 April 2016).

[2] Ibid., OzSpen#9.

[3] This translation is the New American Bible (Revised edition), which is not to be confused with the New American Standard Bible. The NABRE is a Roman Catholic version.

[4] The footnote here in the NABRE was: ‘Literally, snatched up, carried off; cf. 2 Cor 12:2; Rev 12:5. From the Latin verb here used, rapiemur, has come the idea of “the rapture,” when believers will be transported away from the woes of the world; this construction combines this verse with Mt 24:40–41 (see note there) // Lk 17:34–35 and passages from Revelation in a scheme of millennial dispensationalism.

[5] Christianity Board op. cit., Skitnik#8.

[6] Ibid., OzSpen#10. Darby’s lifespan dates are from Christian History: John Nelson Darby. Available at: (Accessed 1 November 2016).

[7] Oxford Living Dictionaries (online) gives the meaning of ‘rapacious’ as: ‘Aggressively greedy or grasping’ (2019. s.v. rapacious).

[8] Christianity Board op cit., Skitnik#12.

[9] Ibid., OzSpen#13.

[10] Date is from Cairns (1981:76).

[11] Lifespan from Cairns (1981:113).

[12] I gleaned this information about John Gill from Grant Jeffrey (n d).

[13] See:

[14] Adolph Harnack (1883:XVI, 314-315, in Showers (1990:117).

[15] Coniaris (n.d.).

[16] Ibid.

Copyright © 2019 Spencer D. Gear. This document last updated at Date: 2 March 2019.

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John 3:16 downgraded

How self-centredness replaced God-centredness


(image courtesy 123RF)

By Spencer D Gear PhD

What would influence Christians to ditch core Christianity for another kind of christianity?

Some of the process is expressed in an article in Fairfax newspapers (online) in Australia. This report on the research into how God-centred thinking has been replaced by another breed should be of concern to all Christians, especially evangelicals.

The replacement was self-centred picking and choosing what to believe in the Bible. Take a read of: Social media upends public’s Bible quote preferences.[1]

The research was associated with Reverend Dr Peter Phillips, director of CODEC Research Centre for Digital Theology of St John’s College, Durham University, UK. He said: ‘Whereas once John 3:16 was the ‘poster-boy’ text of the 20th century, the latest star is Jeremiah 29:11’.
According to the article:

John 3:16 had been knocked of (sic) its pedestal in print by the social media era: “People don’t want to put a verse about Jesus’s death upon the cross on social media. It’s a bit heavy.” The passage, which reads: “For God so loved the world that He gave His one and only Son, that whoever believes in Him shall not perish but have eternal life,” has been eclipsed in the UK by the offer of hope and prosperity in Jeremiah 29:11, according to YouVersion, a digital Bible provider with more than 350 million users.

It reads: “‘For I know the plans I have for you,’ declares the Lord, ‘plans to prosper you and not to harm you, plans to give you hope and a future.'” Jeremiah 29:11 is also the favourite in nine other countries, including Canada and Australia.


1. An assessment



clip_image003(image courtesy KissClipart)

Here is my brief analysis of what I see happening in the UK with this digital Bible reading research of Millennials (or, Generation Y) who were born between 1982 and 2002.[2]

What is this article telling the Christian community that needs evaluation?

1.1 Fake theology[3] in the article

The false teaching in this article included:

clip_image005  1.1.1 People’s change in biblical emphasis and support.

This is told in the journalist’s writing:

In the beginning – and for centuries that followed – God’s sacrifice of Jesus to express his love on Earth was the favourite Bible passage of many Christians. But that is changing, as messages of hope and prosperity on social media find greater resonance with the younger generation.

The change in acceptance and emphases through social media is an example of pragmatism (what works best) in action. It is promoting fake theology when any generation promotes self-centredness instead of God-centredness.

That the Millennials discard John 3:16 for Jeremiah 29:11 is an example of abandoning Christo-centric theology for egotistic, feel-good theology.

Does it occur to these researchers and the Millennials that they are replacing the centre of Christianity with a bogus doctrine?

clip_image005[1]  1.1.2 From ‘poster boy’ to ‘star’: Christianity for the Oscars.

Fitzpatrick wrote:

“Whereas once John 3:16 was the ‘poster-boy’ text of the 20th century, the latest star is Jeremiah 29:11,” said Reverend Dr Peter Phillips, director of CODEC Research Centre for Digital Theology of St John’s College, Durham University.

That one paragraph demonstrates a change in worldview by the Millennials. The change is from:

clip_image007 (1) God’s love for the world and Jesus’ sacrifice of his life to bring salvation to whomever believes, to

clip_image007[1] (2) The fake doctrine of prosperity and hope in the here and now.

clip_image005[2]  1.1.3 The crux of Christianity crucified by compromise.

Fitzpatrick again:

“People don’t want to put a verse about Jesus’s death upon the cross on social media. It’s a bit heavy.” The passage, which reads: “For God so loved the world that He gave His one and only Son, that whoever believes in Him shall not perish but have eternal life,”

So the cross of Christ and his shedding his blood to provide eternal life is ‘a bit heavy’ for social media.

I cannot imagine anyone with that approach standing up for their faith to the point of being a martyr like Peter, Paul, Polycarp, Hugh Latimer and those slaughtered by the Auca Indians in Ecuador: Jim Elliot, Pete Fleming, Ed McCully, Nate Saint, and Roger Youderian.

clip_image009 (image courtesy TeePublic)

Compromise does not stoke fire in the heart of Christianity. Here we have an example of the Millennials who changed the truth of God (John 3:16) to fake theology (Jer 29:11).

clip_image005[3]  1.1.4 Let me interpret the Bible my own way.

This is done in true Frank Sinatra style, ‘My Way’.

According to experts, the switch is a product of social media and young people’s expectations of the Bible, in line with the trend of displaying wellness and spirituality online (Fitzpatrick).

What is the ‘Bible’s Way’? This is every Christian’s responsibility, although directed to Timothy: ‘Be diligent to present yourself approved to God as a workman who does not need to be ashamed, accurately handling the word of truth’ (2 Tim 2:15 NASB, emphasis added).

You might say: You are cherry-picking a verse to support accurate handling / interpreting of the word of truth – the very thing that you accuse the Millennials of doing?

Please examine the context of 2 Tim 2:1-2 (NIRV),

My son, be strong in the grace that is yours in Christ Jesus. You have heard me teach in front of many witnesses. Pass on to people you can trust the things you’ve heard me say. Then they will be able to teach others also.

Timothy’s role of teaching others was central to his task of ‘accurately handling the word of truth’, as it is for all Bible teachers today. It is the role of all Christians to check out the Scriptures when any preacher or teacher speaks.

We know this from Acts 17:11 (NIRV):

The Berean Jews were very glad to receive Paul’s message. They studied the Scriptures carefully every day. They wanted to see if what Paul said was true. So they were more noble than the Thessalonian Jews.

It is every Christian’s responsibility to check any preaching or written teaching about Scripture.

According to these researchers, the switch from Christo-centric to self-centred fake theology is:

clip_image011  (a) ‘a product of social media’, and

clip_image011[1]  (b) ‘young people’s expectations of the Bible, in line with the trend of displaying wellness and spirituality online’.

This is postmodern, deconstructed Christianity in action. Postmodernism is difficult to define simply. In this Fitzpatrick article we have an example of the trend that moves from ‘cold, hard facts’ (John 3:16) to ‘warm, fuzzy subjectivity’ (Jer 29:11).

Got Questions? has defined it as:


Post-modern Christianity falls into line with basic post-modernist thinking. It is about experience over reason, subjectivity over objectivity, spirituality over religion, images over words, outward over inward…. When groups form under such thinking, theology and doctrine tend to lean more towards liberalism.
For example, because experience is valued more highly than reason, truth becomes relative. This opens up all kinds of problems, as this lessens the standard that the Bible contains absolute truth, and even disqualifies biblical truth as being absolute in many cases.[4]

Then add the deconstruction, reader-response elements of postmodernism. Here, an author’s intended meaning of a book or article does not provide the correct interpretation of his or her own work. The readers determine what any book or article means.

The ‘young people’s expectations of the Bible, in line with the trend of displaying wellness and spirituality online’ is not the way to read any document to gain its true meaning. Expectations should not drive any person regarding the content of articles in The Sydney Morning Herald or History of Australia by Manning Clark, or the Bible.

You’ll appreciate that when many people read the one author’s book, there are many interpretations and each is as valid as the other – in deconstruction. So the intended meaning of any book of the Bible goes down the postmodern chute of confusing, multiple interpretations and nobody can say which is the correct meaning.

Imagine using that approach when completing your tax return, giving your driver’s licence details to a policeman, reading the Brisbane Courier-Mail, or the Bible. Which way does the promoter of postmodern deconstruction want us to read his or her own book? Literally or by deconstruction?

What I see in this preference of Jer 29:11 over John 3:16 is a deconstruction of biblical theology to replace it with fake theology, i.e. self-centredness instead of Christ-centredness.

It’s a different gospel of prosperity without the cross, hope without the atonement.

This is how the article describes postmodern theology in practice:

With apps such as Bible Lens – which allows users to create new images using their own photos overlaid with quotes from the Bible – and YouVersion’s search-by-emoji function soaring in popularity, Millennials have drastically changed how they approach the Bible’s teachings.

Bible Lens 

The YouVersion website explains Bible Lens:

YouVersion Bible Lens is the app that transforms your everyday photos into profound, Biblically-based artistic shareable images. Bible Lens lets you take a picture, or point to one you already have. It detects not only objects in your photo, but more importantly, the Biblical themes of the moment that photo captured… and then suggests Bible verses to match!

This highlights one of the issues with the YouVersion app approach. It matches your photos or artistic, shareable images to specific Bible verses. This is not the way to disciple people in important Christian disciplines of:

clip_image015   (a) contextual biblical interpretation,

clip_image015[1]   (b) learning not to cherry-pick single Bible verses to make them say what we want them to say,

clip_image015[2]   (c) refusing to use software that interferes with appropriate interpretation. This does not mean that all software linked to Bible knowledge is to be avoided. I access many articles online, including Bible translations through BibleGateway and BibleHub.

clip_image015[3]   (d) using the biblical themes of the moment that photos capture, and leaving the app to choose the Bible verse.

clip_image015[4]   (e) Since ‘YouVersion’s function [is] soaring in popularity, Millennials have drastically changed how they approach the Bible’s teachings’ (Fitzpatrick), Millennials have postmodernised the Bible through ‘search-by-emoji’. This leads to a pick-and-choose Christianity that avoids the wisdom and knowledge of God, gained through fear of Him.

I have no confidence that it will develop disciples who know how to study the Scriptures with the foundation, ‘Wisdom begins with fear and respect for the Lord. Knowledge of the Holy One leads to understanding’ (Prov 9:10 ERV). All knowledge and wisdom must begin with the Lord or it is worthless.

Building a foundation for faith on apps that pick and choose Bible verses to go with the artistic images you use, is like building one’s house on the sand of intuitive emotion of feel-good faith. See Matthew 7:24-28. Taking action on what apps decide is not practising biblical Christianity.

‘Millennials have drastically changed how they approach the Bible’s teachings’ (Fitzpatrick). They sure have and it does not resemble the Gospel of John 3:16. It is time for God’s watchmen and watchwomen to stand up and be counted to counteract this Christless, fake gospel.

clip_image005[4]   1.1.5 Therapeutic, self-centred identity

The me-centred fake theology is declared in this kind of statement:

Reverend Dr Phillips, whose book Bible, Digital Culture and Social Media is published later this year, said: “We find that Millennials tend to share therapeutic messages – it’s far more about their own identity and how faith can help them in their future. The result is a shift in public display of the Bible.”

There you have it: ‘it’s far more about their own identity‘ and it’s ‘a shift in public display of the Bible’, according to the Millennials. The shift is more disturbing than public display of one’s identity.

A Christian’s personal identity is found in being made in the image and likeness of God (see Gen 1:26; 5:1–3; 9:6; Col 3:9–10; Eph 4:24–26; and James 3:9). Theologians down through the centuries have debated what it means for human beings to be created in God’s image. This is a reasonable summary of the meaning, in my view:

The image of God (Latin: imago dei) refers to the immaterial part of humanity. It sets human beings apart from the animal world, fits them for the dominion God intended them to have over the earth (Genesis 1:28), and enables them to commune with their Maker. It is a likeness mentally, morally, and socially.

Mentally, humanity was created as a rational, volitional agent. In other words, human beings can reason and choose. This is a reflection of God’s intellect and freedom. Anytime someone invents a machine, writes a book, paints a landscape, enjoys a symphony, calculates a sum, or names a pet, he or she is proclaiming the fact that we are made in God’s image.[5]

It is a radical change by YouVersion apps. It’s a leap of faith to another worldview of postmodern deconstruction that condemns any talk about truth. Absolute truth is taboo.

This is discarding biblical Christianity for feel-good millennial therapy. It is fake theology of personal importance over God Almighty’s sovereignty. Am I too dogmatic in labelling this as another gospel?

clip_image005[5]  1.1.6 Discard the context for therapeutic benefit

One of the major errors of the Millennials represented in this article is the approach to Christianity and its association with Jeremiah 29:11.

To whom was Jeremiah 29:11 addressed? This is the context of Jeremiah 29 (NET):

clip_image016(image, Babylonian Captivity, courtesy Pinterest)


clip_image018 ‘The prophet Jeremiah sent a letter to the exiles Nebuchadnezzar had carried off from Jerusalem to Babylon. It was addressed to the elders who were left among the exiles, to the priests, to the prophets, and to all the other people who were exiled in Babylon’ (Jer 29:1).

clip_image018[1] ‘The Lord God of Israel who rules over all says to all those he sent into exile to Babylon from Jerusalem’ (Jer 29:4).

clip_image018[2] “For the Lord God of Israel who rules over all says, ‘Do not let the prophets or those among you who claim to be able to predict the future by divination deceive you. And do not pay any attention to the dreams that you are encouraging them to dream. They are prophesying lies to you….”’ (Jer 29:8-9a)

clip_image018[3] ‘“For the Lord says, ‘Only when the seventy years of Babylonian rule are over will I again take up consideration for you. Then I will fulfill my gracious promise to you and restore you to your homeland. For I know what I have planned for you,’ says the Lord. ‘I have plans to prosper you, not to harm you. I have plans to give you a future filled with hope’” (Jer 29:10-11).

One of the ‘Comments’ posters examined the context of Jeremiah 29 and correctly interpreted verse 11:

From my cynical believers perspective you are absolutely right. Furthermore that passage is not about ‘me’ at all. It was written ‘to the surviving elders among the exiles and to the priests, the prophets and all the other people Nebuchadnezzar had carried into exile from Jerusalem to Babylon’. i.e. the Israelites held captive by the Babylonians after the invasion in 587BC. In fact here it is in context (from Jer 29):

10 When seventy years are completed for Babylon, I will come to you and fulfill my good promise to bring you back to this place. 11 For I know the plans I have for you,” declares the Lord, “plans to prosper you and not to harm you, plans to give you hope and a future. 12 Then you will call on me and come and pray to me, and I will listen to you. 13 You will seek me and find me when you seek me with all your heart. 14 I will be found by you,” declares the Lord, “and will bring you back from captivity.”[6]

There are many problems with this approach to Christianity but hermeneutics (interpretation) is one of the BIG ones.

2. Post-truth in action

I consider Fitzpatrick’s content to be an example of Oxford Dictionaries word of the year in 2016, post-truth. which is ‘an adjective defined as “relating to or denoting circumstances in which objective facts are less influential in shaping public opinion than appeals to emotion and personal belief”’. (Oxford Dictionaries Online 2019. s.v. post-truth).

In context, this promise of Jer 29:11 is not for Christians in the 21st century. It was for the nation of Judah (cf. Jer 27 – 29, 39-43; Book of Ezra), the people carried into exile by Nebuchadnezzar. But it’s a classic example of feel-good Christianity in action. This time it avoids the truth of John 3:16 to replace it with an emotional appeal that is false because the verse is cherry picked and has no application to the believer today.

In my understanding of interpretation in context, it was not meant to extend contemporary hope and prosperity for Millennials in the 21st century. That meaning is generated out of context and provides false hope. Nevertheless, the Bible Society in the UK put this spin on it:

But the popularity of Jeremiah 29:11 also comes down to the context of social media, said the Bible Society.

“Passages like John 3:16 concern an eternal perspective and hope beyond death,” the society’s Rachel Rounds said. “These are not easy concepts to convey on social media, which doesn’t really do context or nuance and is a challenge for politicians, scientists and the Church alike”.

3. Conclusion

Two commanding themes against Christianity dominated this article.

clip_image020Firstly, postmodern fake theology replaced exegesis of the biblical text and its interpretation in context. It moves from facts to fuzzy feelings, driven by a reader-response technique of the reader determining the meaning of a text. Millennials decide for themselves what is ‘better’ faith than John 3:16. Since many readers read a text, there will be many interpretations and none of them is ‘correct’ in an absolute sense.

clip_image022Secondly, the post-truth view expressed in the article was that objective facts of Jesus’ life being given for the sins of the world are replaced by Millennials from a hope beyond death to a hope for now – prosperity.

All of this means self-centredness has replaced Christ-centredness. The result is a different gospel generated by fake theology.

This fake theology needs to be exposed by evangelicals and others who are concerned about the demise of truth in our culture.

However, this is a risk for evangelical Christianity that must be banished:


(image courtesy Pinterest)

4.   Notes

[1] Laura Fitzpatrick 2019. The Canberra Times (online)  25 February. Available at: (Accessed 25 February 2019). This article is from the Telegraph, London.

[2] Although there are conflicting opinions about the timeline for the era of the Millennials, census bureau results (USA) show ‘that the millennial generation is the generation of children born between 1982 and 2002’ – Robert Farrington 2019. What is the Millennial Age Range and What Does That Mean Financially? The College Investor (online), 13 February. Available at: (Accessed 25 February 2019).

[3] I use ‘fake theology’ as an adaptation of ‘fake news’, which means, ‘false, often sensational, information disseminated under the guise of news reporting’ (Collins English Dictionary 2019. s.v. fake news). So fake theology is false, sensational information circulated under the guise of orthodox biblical teaching.

[4] Got Questions 2002-2019. What is post-modern Christianity? (online). Available at: (Accessed 26 February 2019)).

[5] Got Questions 2019. What does it mean that humanity is made in the image of God (imago dei)? (online). Available at: (Accessed 26 February 2019).

[6] Fitzpatrick op. cit, sneakyguy12. Available at: (Accessed 25 February 2019).

Copyright © 2019 Spencer D. Gear. This document last updated at Date: 26 February 2019.

clip_image025 clip_image025

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


(Image courtesy Dr. Elroi)

By Spencer D Gear PhD

Is it God’s responsibility to heal all people who are prayed for?

If was he who stated: ‘Therefore I tell you, whatever you ask for in prayer, believe that you have received it, and it will be yours’ (Mark 11:24 NIV). Isn’t it signed, sealed and delivered – right from the mouth of Jesus?

Then Mark further affirms: ‘And the people who believe … will lay their hands on sick people, and they will get well’ (Mark 16:17a, 18b ERV)

Surely that is what Jesus meant when he taught, ‘Continue to ask, and God will give to you. Continue to search, and you will find. Continue to knock, and the door will open for you’ (Matt 7:7 ERV)?

Since he doesn’t do this in the real world of the twenty-first century, who is to blame?

clip_image004 The person who prayed didn’t have enough faith?

clip_image004[1] The person prayed for had insufficient faith?

clip_image004[2] It is wrong-headed to demand that God must heal when we ask him;

clip_image004[3] Have God’s supernatural gifts ceased?

clip_image004[4] What about false or insufficient teaching on healing?

clip_image004[5] Where does the sovereignty of God and human responsibility fit into God’s will for healing?

This person started a topic:

Me personally, I really don’t think so and I think that it’s a load of manure. The reason why I ask this question is because I just found out about this today after Yoga class and it was being discussed. I only go to Yoga because of the fact that it relaxes my mind and has caused me to become more balanced and flexible. I wouldn’t do anything if I thought somebody believed that they had the power to “heal” me because that’s where I personally draw the line and find it very sacrilegious but that’s just imho. It might just be considered therapeutic but I just would never personally get involved with it.

The topic this person started was, ‘Can God Really Give The Power to Heal Somebody?’[1]

1. Does God heal supernaturally today?

This person doesn’t think so, but mixes her belief with attending Yoga classes that ‘relax her mind’. Really? What is Yoga?

My response was:[2]

Do you believe the Scriptures? They state:

clip_image006(body part name with pictures; image courtesy Body Parts Name)

27 All of you together are the body of Christ. Each one of you is a part of that body. 28 And in the church God has given a place first to apostles, second to prophets, and third to teachers. Then God has given a place to those who do miracles, those who have gifts of healing, those who can help others, those who are able to lead, and those who can speak in different kinds of languages. 29 Not all are apostles. Not all are prophets. Not all are teachers. Not all do miracles. 30 Not all have gifts of healing. Not all speak in different kinds of languages. Not all interpret those languages. 31 Continue to give your attention to the spiritual gifts you consider to be the greatest. But now I want to point out a way of life that is even greater (1 Cor 12:27-31 ERV, emphasis added).?[3]

Do you believe the Bible??

Are you not aware that Yoga is a practice of Buddhism??

Do you understand that Buddhism denies the existence of God??

2. God CAN and DOES heal

Another person responded to the information about and I replied:[4]

Thank you for your encouraging comment about my post. All people don’t have all the gifts because …

?A person has only one body, but it has many parts. Yes, there are many parts, but all those parts are still just one body. Christ is like that too. 13 Some of us are Jews and some of us are not; some of us are slaves and some of us are free. But we were all baptized to become one body through one Spirit. And we were all given the one Spirit. 14 And a person’s body has more than one part. It has many parts (1 Cor 12:12-14 ERV).

clip_image008Paul draws an analogy with the human body which has MANY parts. Then he states why there are many gifts in the body of Christ:

(image courtesy Faith – Grace – Jesus)

‘If each part of the body were the same part, there would be no body. But as it is, God put the parts in the body as he wanted them. He made a place for each one. 20 So there are many parts, but only one body’ (1 Cor 12:18-20 ERV).?

We need many gifts in the body of Christ for it to function properly. This person online wrote:

We read other things 1 Corinthians, like where Paul states boldly to desire the gifts, thereby indicating that we are to desire all the gifts, not just this one or that one. And in Mark it reads, Mk 16:18 “… they will lay hands on the sick, and they will recover.” By saying “they will” it does not exclude any of His followers.[5]

You missed emphasising another guarantee, ‘They will recover’.

Is Mk 16:18 teaching that all those will be healed who have hands laid on them and the prayer of faith is prayed for them?

Jesus’ audience for this teaching was the ‘eleven followers (disciples)’ while they were eating (Mk 16:14 ERV). You have raised some good issues with ‘they will lay hands on the sick’ and ‘they will recover’.

  1. That’s not what I see happening in Christian churches in Australia. Most healing is left to the medical profession.
  2. Is God lying to us when he states ‘they will recover’? God is not a liar (Heb 6:18).
  3. So what is happening here? There is an apparent contradiction of God’s people laying hands on the sick and ‘they will’ recover and practically in the 21st century it doesn’t happen. We can blame lack of faith but there are reasons of more substance than that, based on the text.
  4. Firstly, in Mk 16:18 (SBLGNT) the three words are future tense in the Greek language: epithesousin (they will place) and kalws exousin (they will recover, or ‘they will have/get well’). So they are future statements of what will happen. But it doesn’t happen most of the time people have hands laid on them and there is prayer. How come?

3. The request to heal has a faulty foundation

clip_image010(image courtesy Pinterest)

There is a fundamental reason that is explained by one of the eminent Greek grammarians of the 20th century, Dr A T Robertson, who wrote of Mk 16:8:

At this point Aleph [Sinaiticus] and B [Vaticanus], the two oldest and best Greek manuscripts of the New Testament, stop with this verse. Three Armenian MSS. also end here. Some documents (cursive 274 and Old Latin k) have a shorter ending than the usual long one. The great mass of the documents have the long ending seen in the English versions. Some have both the long and the short endings, like L, Psi, 0112, 099, 579, two Bohairic MSS; the Harklean Syriac (long one in the text, short one in the Greek margin). One Armenian MS. (at Edschmiadzin) gives the long ending and attributes it to Ariston (possibly the Aristion of Papias). W (the Washington Codex) has an additional verse in the long ending. So the facts are very complicated, but argue strongly against the genuineness of verses Matthew 9-20 of Mark 16. There is little in these verses not in Matthew 28:1 ff. It is difficult to believe that Mark ended his Gospel with verse Matthew 8 unless he was interrupted. A leaf or column may have been torn off at the end of the papyrus roll. The loss of the ending was treated in various ways. Some documents left it alone. Some added one ending, some another, some added both (Word Pictures in the New Testament, vol 1, Mk 16:8).?

This is one piece of information that leads me to conclude that Mark 16:9-20 should not be in the canon of Scripture. That’s why many translations have this kind of statement after Mk 16:8,

Some of the earliest manuscripts do not include 16:9-20…. Some manuscripts end the book with 16:8; others include verses 9-20 immediately after verse 8. A few manuscripts insert additional material after verse 14; one Latin manuscript adds after verse 8 the following: But they reported briefly to Peter and those with him all that they had been told. And after this, Jesus himself sent out by means of them, from east to west, the sacred and imperishable proclamation of eternal salvation. Other manuscripts include this same wording after verse 8, then continue with verses 9-20 (ESV)?

4. False doctrine in Mark 16:9-20

The false doctrines in these verses convince me it should not be in Scripture:

  • Baptismal regeneration (Mk 16:18);
  • Drinking deadly poison (Mk 16:20);
  • Handling snakes (Mk 16:20).

So why in one place does the Bible talk about elders laying hands on the sick and in another it reads “they will”? Isn’t it because we are growing in Christ, or at least should be?

The simple explanation is that Mk 16:9-20 is not in the Bible. It has been added by a later person, so we get false doctrine mixed with the truth. I would never use these verses as a foundation for any church doctrine or statement of faith. I wouldn’t preach from them either.

5. The Spirit of God gives you power to heal the sick.

clip_image012You stated online:

If you care to believe it; if you have the Spirit of God you have the power in you to heal the sick. That is obvious, but still it might be hard to believe. So we find a Christian confessing a doubt that God can “Really Give The Power to Heal Somebody”, like in the OP. At this point we have a testimony from a Christian who does not yet care to believe God can really give the power to heal somebody. Happily, our faith grows.

There is only the power to heal given as a gift of healing to SOME people. To those people, those they pray for will be healed. We’ll know them by their fruits. Further, you said:

So we have newer Christian’s (sic) that simply have trouble believing God can heal, even though they believe they have the Spirit of God in them and obviously the Spirit of God can heal people. And we also find pastors and elders, who also believe they have the Spirit of God in them and even believe prayer can get things done, but can’t believe God can use them to heal cancer.

Is it that simple? There are other factors influencing the ministry of healing.

5.1 Not enough teaching

My view is that this is because there is too little teaching on God’s view of healing and the gift of healing. More teaching is needed on:

clip_image014 God’s spiritual gift of healing (1 Cor 12:27-31 ERV)

clip_image014[1] The elders anointing the sick with oil (James 5:13-18 ERV)

clip_image014[2] God’s will and his sovereignty in the world and over people.

5.2 False healers

clip_image015(image courtesy

We have too many fake healers around us to influence people to become skeptical.

I have a friend who went to a local Pentecostal Church for 3 years. That church laid hands on, anointed with oil, a person with terminal cancer. One person announced and kept affirming he would be healed in an alleged word of knowledge.
The person died of cancer. My friend left that church because of this kind of fake teaching and manifestation.

You stated:

If we are saying that God can’t use people today to heal, how much do we believe in Jesus Christ, when that is exactly what was happening then? Let’s learn our lessons and get on with it.

I don’t think it relates to how much we believe in Jesus Christ but speaks to God’s sovereignty in the giving of gifts. I can assure you I don’t have the gift of healing but people say I demonstrate the gift of teaching. That’s how I understand it as well.

6. Conclusion

We are faced in the modern-day world with manifestations of the alleged gift of healing. It comes mixed with the genuine and the false.

God does not state that everyone who is prayed for will be healed. A wrong verse in the Bible teaches that (Mk 16:18-20).

God does give the gift of healing to some and they will demonstrate that with God healing people. However, that is only one gift of the Spirit.

I consider it is the height of arrogance to claim that God will heal a person when we should pray, ‘According to your will’. When Jesus taught his disciples and us how to pray, he said:

We pray that your kingdom will come—that what you want will be done here on earth, the same as in heaven (Matt 6:10 ERV).

clip_image017 See my article, Does Mark 16:9-20 belong in Scripture?

My conclusion is, ‘No’.

clip_image017[1] Dr. James White admits that 1 John 5 7, Mark 16 9-20 and John 7 53-8 11 ARE FORGERIES

The Last Page of Mark in Codex Vaticanus

This is a hand-made replica of the last page of Codex Vaticanus. The verse-numbers in the margins are not present in the manuscript; I added them for the sake of convenient reference. In Vaticanus the text ends in the middle column, and is followed by an ornamental line and, further down, the subscription “KATA MARKON” (“according to Mark”). The third column is blank….



7. Notes

[1] Christian, 11 January 2019. HeIsRisen2018#1. Available at: (Accessed 15 January 2019).

[2] Ibid., OzSpen#21.

[3] The ERV is the Easy-to-Read Version, Copyright © 2006 by Bible League International. Available at: (Accessed 15 January 2019).

[4] op. cit., Christian, K2CHRIST#28. Unless otherwise stated, quotes from her post are indented.

[5] Ibid.

Copyright © 2019 Spencer D. Gear. This document last updated at Date: 16 January 2019.


Celebrations smother the truth of Christmas

(image courtesy paper model kiosk)

By Spencer D Gear PhD

Some of these details were published in my article, Make-believe and celebrations: Christmas message ignored, (Online Opinion, 24 December 2018).

Is this the truth about the origins of Christmas? Adam Gopnik of The New Yorker wrote: ‘Christmas—whether it is observed for religious or seasonal reasons or just for the hell of it—is in its origins and in its imagination and its implications indissolubly syncretist’ (Why wage a war on Christmas? 2018).

Syncretism is ‘the attempted reconciliation or union of different or opposing principles, practices, or parties, as in philosophy or religion’ ( 2018. s.v. syncretism). So Gopnik’s view on Christmas origins is that of someone who wants to combine opposing principles or beliefs. Is that where Christmas began? Is it a mixture of beliefs of the pagan gods, Santa and his reindeer, profiteering and the baby in the manger?

It is unlikely that syncretism will get to the core of Christmas origins. It will not be joyous but toxic. O’ Come Let Us Adore Him is not likely to be a prominent theme.

In 2017, objections to Christmas came from a different quarter. The Sunshine Coast Daily in Queensland reported:

A ‘JESUS ban’ in public schools has sparked fury from [Sunshine] Coast MPs, after reports kids swapping Christmas cards, making Christmas tree decorations or bracelets could be censored.

The Australian reported an unofficial policy from the Queensland Department of Education and Training had identified junior evangelism as an issue to be stamped out, following a Departmental review into GodSpace religious instruction materials.

“The notion of trying to take pictures of Jesus out of Christmas cards is ludicrous,” Fairfax MP Ted O’Brien said, fuming at the reported edict.

“What do they think Christmas stands for? Are they going to try and take Christ out of the word Christmas next?

“I don’t think Australians should cop such political correctness. I think it’s ridiculous”….

The department [of Education] “expects schools to take appropriate action if aware that students participating in RI are evangelising to (sic) students who do not” in Queensland public schools.

“This could adversely affect the school’s ability to provide a safe, supportive and inclusive environment,” the report read.

Examples of evangelising reported as being in the review and two other previous reviews included exchanging Christmas cards referring to Jesus’s birth, making Christmas tree decorations and beaded bracelet gifts in order to share the good news about Jesus (Sawyer 2017).

Image result for image Christ in Christmas(image courtesy The Leo House)

In the profiteering and commercialism of Christmas, what is the truth that is missed?

The charade that covers up these truths

Is the biblical Christmas story wrapped in history or myth? To unwrap this, see my article, The Virgin Birth: Fact, Fiction, or Something Else?

In this season, lost is the realisation that Christmas is first of all a celebration of the birth of the Saviour. He is all but forgotten – thoughtlessly smothered in the haste, commotion, partying and flamboyant marketing of this season.

Please don’t get me wrong. I am not suggesting that Christmas should be only solemn, sombre, grim religious observances without any cheer. It should be a time of real joy and gladness as exemplified in the Christmas carol with words by Isaac Watts and music by George Frederick Handel:

Joy to the world, the Lord is come!
Let earth receive her King;
Let every heart prepare Him room,
And Heaven and nature sing,
And Heaven and nature sing,
And Heaven, and Heaven, and nature sing.

This is not manufactured sentiment and wild revelry that characterises the way the community celebrates Christmas.

This Christmas truth is covered up

What do Santa, reindeer, lights and Christmas trees disguise?

(1) The virgin birth, including its prophetic fulfillment

Even from within the church, former Roman Catholic priest, John Dominic Crossan objected: ‘The stories of Jesus’ birth are religious fiction, or parable, if you prefer…. This does not mean that they have no value, but … they are not to be read as literal history’ (Crossan & Watts 1999:10).

Objections are at the core of the Christmas story. Even Mary was a doubter herself about the virgin conception. The angel Gabriel appeared to a virgin in Nazareth who was pledged to marry Joseph. Gabriel’s message was that Mary was ‘highly favoured. The Lord is with you’. Those words disturbed Mary and she was ‘greatly troubled’ by what the words meant.

The angel told her that she would conceive and give birth to a son to be called Jesus. He will be ‘the Son of the Most High’, given the throne of his father David, and reign over Jacob’s descendants forever. This kingdom will never end (Luke 1).

Then Mary’s fears rose like today’s sceptics. ‘How will this be,’ Mary asked the angel, ‘since I am a virgin?’ The angel answered, ‘The Holy Spirit will come on you, and the power of the Most High will overshadow you. So the holy one to be born will be called the Son of God’ (Luke 1:34-35).

Why is there resistance from Mary down to Dom Crossan in the late twentieth century?

(a) In a materialistic, commercial age dominated by naturalistic explanations, many find it more difficult to believe in a virgin conception than Jesus’ walking on water. Since God is so omnipotent he could speak the heavens and the earth into existence (Gen 1:1), doubt about God’s powerful actions has crept into our society through evolutionary theories. A flow on is resistance to the virgin birth.

(b) No matter one’s worldview, we live in a miraculous world where God’s providence means ‘he causes his sun to shine on evil people and good people. He sends rain on those who do right and those who don’t’ (Matt 5:45 NIRV). It would be sound thinking during this Christmas season to understand the everyday miracles we need to survive, including the air we breathe and the power of gravity. What happens when the rains are not sent by almighty God – for his reasons?

(c) Genuine Bible prophecy is held in low regard. This miraculous event was prophesied in the Old Testament (OT). The history of the Western world turns on this result, the division of BC to AD.

The Christ child’s birth in Bethlehem was prophesied in Micah 5:1-2 that he would be born in Bethlehem, 700 years before his birth. And it happened as predicted.

Yet sceptics respond with this type of question: ‘Where is the evidence that “Messianic prophecies of the OT weren’t manufactured after Jesus birth, life and death by his disciples”?

Paul Williams, British blogger and convert to Islam, posed this question:

There is evidence they [Jesus’ disciples] did [make stuff up] from time to time. Consider Matthew 2 [v.23] for example:

“There he made his home in a town called Nazareth, so that what had been spoken through the prophets might be fulfilled, ‘He will be called a Nazorean.’

There is no such prophecy anywhere in the Bible (in Jimmy Akin, Did Matthew *Invent* A Prophecy About Jesus? 2012, emphasis in original).

It’s important to note How Matt 2:23 cites the OT: ‘… what had been spoken through the prophets might be fulfilled …’ The specific quote is not found in any OT prophet. Was Matthew wrong with this statement?

An answer is found in what Matthew stated. He did not quote a specific prophet but referred to ‘prophets’. It would be fruitless to try to find a particular prophet who stated this about Nazareth when Matthew used the general, ‘prophets’. Geisler & Howe (1992:328) provide evidence of how Jesus fulfilled the righteous requirements of the OT law, which included fulfilling the Nazarite vow.

One fact removes the possibility that Jesus’ disciples read the OT prophecy back into the NT – after the fact. This evidence is in the Dead Sea Scrolls found at Qumran, Israel, on the west bank of the Dead Sea. In 1946-47, Bedouin shepherd boys found every book of the OT except Esther in desert caves. Here is proof that the Messianic prophecies predated the incarnation of Jesus. Copies of Isaiah, Psalm 22, Daniel 9 and other OT prophecies have been dated to 335-100 BC by paleography, scribal and carbon 14 dating – secular methods. This was a significant find because it demonstrated the fulfillment of the prophecies was not manipulated by Jesus’ disciples.

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Isaiah 7:14 prophesied: ‘Therefore the Lord himself will give you [plural] a sign: the virgin [or, young woman] will conceive and give birth to a son, and will call him Immanuel [meaning, ‘God with us’]. This was confirmed – not invented – in Matthew 1:22-23.

You couldn’t believe the academic and other theological gymnastics that surround the meaning of ‘virgin’, with some wanting to translate it as a ‘young woman’ and not inferring virginity. In Isa 7:14, the Hebrew word used is almah whose root meaning could be either ‘maiden’ (virgin) or ‘young woman’.

Here is one example of the resistance to the virgin conception from Bob Seidensticker (2013):

“The virgin will conceive and give birth to a son, and they will call him Immanuel” (Matt. 1:23).

Matthew documents the fulfillment of a prophecy written 750 years earlier. Powerful evidence of the truth of the Bible?

Well … no. The first reason is the reason by which anyone would reject a claimed prophecy: the evidence of the fulfillment is not independent but comes only through authors (of Matthew and Luke) who one must assume had read the prophecy. They had motive and opportunity to claim a fulfillment where none existed.

But was that quote from Isaiah even a prophecy of a messiah? You’d expect something like, “The LORD God understands the burdens of His people and will send a savior. And ye shall know him by this sign: the virgin will give birth to a son” and so on.

Here’s what that chapter of Isaiah is actually talking about. In the early 700s BCE, Syria and Israel allied with nearby countries for protection against Assyria, the local bully that was vacuuming up smaller states. Judea refused to join the alliance. Syria and Israel, fearing a potential enemy at their rear, moved to conquer Judea.

God spoke through the prophet Isaiah to tell the king of Judea that, with faith, his enemies would be destroyed. Isaiah gives him a sign: “The virgin will conceive and give birth to a son, and will call him Immanuel” (7:14). Before the boy is old enough to understand right from wrong, Syria and Israel will be destroyed.

In speaking to this opposition to Isa 7:14 being fulfilled in Jesus, Messiah and Emmanuel, it is important to note that OT prophecies mostly have a double fulfillment:

‘Few laws are more important to observe in the interpretation of prophetic Scriptures than the law of double reference. Two events, widely separated as to the time of their fulfillment, may be brought together into the scope of prophecy’ (Pentecost 1958:56).

See the excellent article by David Jeremiah that explains this more fully: ‘The principle of double fulfillment in interpreting Scripture‘.

This is the case with Isa 7:14. The immediate relevance of this verse is spelled out in the context. It dealt with the Lord speaking to King Ahaz. The son born to the young woman,’before the boy knows enough to reject the wrong and choose the right’, was a sign that the land of the two kings that Ahaz dreaded would be deserted and the Lord would bring prosperity to Ahaz and his people (Isa 7:15ff).

Was this son born to a virgin or young woman?

Old Testament scholar, Gleason Archer (1982:269), stated, ‘It is … not as precise a word for virgin as the Hebrew bethulah’ (see Gen 24:16). However, for the seven times the singular almah is used in the Hebrew OT, the word always refers to a woman who has had no sexual relations – a virgin. We know from the Isa 7:14 fulfillment in Matt 1:24 that Joseph had no sexual liaison with Mary ‘until she had given birth to a son’.

When the Hebrew OT was translated into Greek (the Septuagint) about 250 BC by seventy Jewish scholars, parthenos was used to translate almah, which can only be translated as virgin and not young woman. This also is the case in Matt 1:23 where the Greek for ‘virgin’ is parthenos. The Greeks used numphe for bride or young woman.

Why is the virgin birth important in the records of the first Christmas? Am I nit picking in emphasising Jesus’ virgin birth rather than his birth to a young woman? Not at all! There are at least five reasons why the virgin birth is important to Christianity (suggested by Don Stewart):  Because Mary ‘was found to be pregnant through the Holy Spirit’ (Matt 1:18), it guaranteed his heavenly identity of being God the Son.  Jesus lived a sinless life since there was no sexual liaison between a male and a female for his conception. With a human father, he would have inherited a sinful nature. The sin nature is passed down through the male as it was Adam who was responsible for the first sin of disobedience (Gen 3; Rom 5:12). The virgin birth guarantees that Jesus ‘appeared so that he might take away our sins. And in him is no sin’ (1 John 3:5). No sinful human being could guarantee cleansing from sin.  For the cleansing of human sin, God required a perfect sacrifice in the OT (Ex 12:5) and the sinless Jesus, with his crucifixion, was a sin offering for Christian believers (2 Cor 5:21). Hebrews 7:26 confirms that Jesus was a high priest who truly meets our need because he was the ‘one who is holy, blameless, pure, set apart from sinners, exalted above the heavens’. This was possible because of his virgin birth.  Christ’s unparalleled attributes are revealed in Scripture. Don Stewart’s summary of this uniqueness is:

What the virgin birth does is show the uniqueness of Jesus Christ. No one else has ever come into the world the same way as Jesus. The unique and miraculous nature of Jesus carried on through His entire life. His birth was a miracle, His public ministry consisted of miracles, Jesus miraculously lived a sinless life, He miraculously came back from the dead, and left this world in a miraculous way. From His entrance into this world until His departure, the life of Jesus Christ was a miracle.  The historically reliable Bible confirms Jesus’ virgin birth. See my articles: (a) Can you trust the Bible, part 1? (b) Can you trust the Bible, part 2? (c) Can you trustthe Bible, part 3? (d) Can you trust the Bible, part 4?

With commercialised Christmases, these core elements are ignored and replaced.

(2) The meaning of nativity

Nativity is a special name for a baby’s birth place. If I was born in Brisbane, you could say my nativity was in Brisbane. However, it predominately refers to Christians’ pointing to the birth place of Jesus Christ. Nativity ‘comes from the French word nativité, which also means “birth.” The Latin root word is nativus, “born or native“’.

Often Christian nativity scenes include the Christ child in the manger, Mary and Joseph, shepherds, some barn animals, three magi and angels.

Should there have been angels in the first nativity scene? Luke 2:8-9 informs us that the shepherds were out in the fields watching their flocks at night when an angel appeared to announce the Messiah’s arrival. The shepherds ‘were terrified’. So the angels should not appear in a nativity scene.

As a passing comment, to talk about angels appearing today could cause great anguish amongst many because we don’t believe in that such characters. They are made for movies!

To the contrary, the Bible teaches that ‘angels are only servants—spirits sent to care for people who will inherit salvation’ (Heb 1:14). We hear about the dark side of evil angels (demons) today, but discussion of angels is far from our thinking of reality.

The late Billy Graham wrote a book on Angels: God’s Secret Agents. He said angels are real, are not the product of our imagination, and ‘if we had open spiritual eyes we would see not only a world filled with evil spirits and powers—but also powerful angels with drawn swords, set for our defense’.

Corrie ten Boom, who harboured Jews and others in her house’s basement in Holland during the Nazi Holocaust, wrote:

Are there angels here on earth? What do they look like? Do they have any influence on the history of mankind? Do they really have anything to do with the lives of human beings? The Bible writers believed in them and thought they were important because they wrote about them hundreds of times, much more than about evil spirits and Satan. So why do we hear so little about them these days? (God is Still a God of Miracles)

These dimensions of the Christmas story are ignored, by-passed or laughed at when commercialisation crushes Christmas.

(3) The star guided the magi

Image result for image star Bethlehem magi(image courtesy Crystalinks)

Often in nativity scenes, there are three wise men (magi) accompanying the manger, Jesus, Joseph and Mary. The setting is in a stable. Jesus may have been born in such a place but it is as probable that he was born in a house’s lower level where there were animals sheltering for the night.

Luke 2:7 states: ‘She gave birth to her firstborn son and wrapped him in swaddling cloths and laid him in a manger, because there was no place for them in the inn’. It was in the kataluma (Greek word), which is best understood as ‘the guest room’. It was not a commercial lodging for which Luke had a word, pandokheion, which he didn’t use.

Which new mother with her firstborn would want to give birth in a public inn?

Even though the wise men often show up in nativity scenes for Jesus’ birth, the evidence points to the magi visiting Jesus later. It is difficult to create a time line for their visit to Jesus. We know the situation when King Herod found out about the city where the Messiah was born and sent the magi to find him:

Then Herod, when he saw that he had been tricked by the wise men, became furious, and he sent and killed all the male children in Bethlehem and in that entire region who were two years old or under, according to the time that he had ascertained from the wise men. (Matt 2:16).

This is an indicator that Jesus was a young child, under 2-years of age, when Herod realised he had been deceived by the magi and then issued this edict to kill all male children in that age group.

Can the star that guided the wise men be identified? While the regular Greek word for ‘star’ was used, the text of Matt 2:1-11 doesn’t name the star. It appeared only to the magi, so it would be reasonable to assume it was no ordinary star because of its purpose of identifying the location of the baby Messiah.

(4) Jesus born to die a sacrificial death

Every human being is born to die: ‘Just as people are destined to die once, and after that to face judgment’ (Heb 9:27). What was subdued in emphasis at that first Christmas was what the angel told Joseph, husband of Mary.

An angel of the Lord appeared to him in a dream and said, ‘Joseph son of David, do not be afraid to take Mary home as your wife, because what is conceived in her is from the Holy Spirit. She will give birth to a son, and you are to give him the name Jesus, because he will save his people from their sins (Matt 1:21-22).

However, Jesus of Bethlehem was born to be Jesus, the crucified One, who ‘will save his people from their sins’. This is glossed over at Christmastime. The real meaning of Easter is like a hand in glove event with Christmas.

I met a person recently who said: You Christians always (hyperbole) talk about sin. Please quit it! The reason sin (breaking God’s law) is an issue is because it is what separates all sinners from God. We needed a sinless, perfect sacrifice to bridge the gap between a holy and just God and human beings. Jesus, the baby in the manger, grew to become that sacrifice so that all who believe (trust) in Jesus may receive forgiveness and eternal life.

These are God’s requirements and not those any human being formulated.

(5) The baby was the wonderful counsellor, mighty God, everlasting Father and prince of peace (Isa 9:6).

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(image courtesy

This prophecy from Isaiah has a question that needs answering among the Christmas glitz.

How can the second person of the Trinity, God the Son, be prophesied to be the ‘everlasting Father’? At first sight, it sounds contradictory. How can the Son be the Father?

It is doubtful ‘everlasting Father’ is the best translation of the Hebrew, abiad, which literally means ‘Father of eternity’. The first part of Isa 9:6 stresses the incarnation, ‘For to us a child is born, to us a son is given….’ So ‘Father of eternity’ refers to the ‘Author of eternity’, from the beginning of time/creation to the consummation of all things. ‘This title points to Christ as Creator of the world’ (Archer 1982:268) as indicated by John 1:3, ‘All things came into being through Him….’

(6) The baby who started Christianity and its peaceful spread

Christianity spreads through peaceful proclamation. Any other way is an aberration, e.g. the Crusades, John Calvin’s endorsement of the death penalty for Servetus who was not a Trinitarian, and support of slavery. Christianity is not spread through force or violence.

Even an atheist/agnostic such as scientist, Richard Dawkins, inferred the benefits of Christianity. A Fox News headline was, ‘Atheist Richard Dawkins warns against celebrating the alleged demise of Christianity in Europe’. Why would Dawkins, an anti-Christian, say this?

‘Before we rejoice at the death throes of the relatively benign Christian religion, let’s not forget Hilaire Belloc’s menacing rhyme: ‘Always keep a-hold of nurse – For fear of finding something worse….

Dawkins has previously voiced concern over the decline of the Christian faith, “in so far as Christianity might be a bulwark against something worse,” which he echoed in his tweet’.

Matthew 5:9 blessed are the peacemakers(image courtesy pinterest)

The baby born to the virgin Mary at Bethlehem is the Messiah who is the ‘prince of peace’ and Christianity’s spread worldwide is based on its theology, ‘Blessed are the peacemakers, for they will be called children of God’ (Matt 5:9).


As illustrated above, all kinds of excuses and revelry – whether deliberate or going with the flow – have made the Christmas season one of celebrations while the truth is smothered.

This truth includes the Messiah born to the virgin Mary in Bethlehem, a Saviour who was prophesied by OT prophets.

He was born to die – not a normal death – and shed his blood on a Golgotha cross to provide salvation for the world.

This same Jesus will return triumphantly: ‘For the Lord himself will come down from heaven, with a loud command, with the voice of the archangel and with the trumpet call of God, and the dead in Christ will rise first’ (1 Thess 4:16 NIV).

Works consulted

Geisler, N & Howe, T 1992. When critics ask: A popular handbook on Bible difficulties. Grand Rapids, Michigan: Baker Books.

Pentecost, J D 1958. Things to come. Findlay, Ohio: Dunham Publishing Company.

Sawyer, S 2017. No Christ in Christmas next? School ‘Jesus ban’ sparks fury. Sunshine Coast Daily (online), 27 July. Available at: (Accessed 21 December 2018).

Seidensticker, B 2013. Virgin Birth of Jesus: Fact or Fiction? Patheos: Cross Examined (online), 3 December. Available at: (Accessed 21 December 2018).

Copyright © 2018 Spencer D. Gear. This document last updated at Date: 21 December 2018.

Image result for colored line dividers public domain

Commercial celebrations contaminate Christmas

Image result for Nativity scene public domain
A Child is Born, courtesy GodTube
Image result for picture Santa public domain
(courtesy Clker)

By Spencer Gear PhD

Some of these details were published in my article, Make-believe and celebrations: Christmas message ignored, (On Line Opinion, 24 December 2018).

This is a delightful season for summer fruit from the tropics and temperate climes. I purchased a pawpaw that looked just right. I struck a problem when I cut it open.

It wasn’t seen from the outside, but around the stem, there was a small bad spot that had developed mould on some of the seeds inside. Once the bad section had been removed, the remainder of the pawpaw was delicious. I would never have written off the entire pawpaw because of some contaminated seeds.

But that’s what some people want to do with Christmas. The season has been commercialised with festivities that disguise the true message of Christmas.

1.   Paddling in the Christmas shallows

Let’s clear away some debris. December 25 is not the birth date for Jesus’ birth. There is no biblical mention of the exact day of Jesus’ birth. A few hints in the text indicate it was not in the middle of the northern winter. Shepherds were in the fields overnight guarding their flock (Luke 2:8). This suggests a time of more temperate weather.

There were early discussions about the date of Jesus’ birth in early church leader in northern Africa, Clement of Alexandria (ca. 150-215). He wrote: ‘There are those who have determined not only the year of our Lord’s birth, but also the day; and they say that it took place in the twenty-eighth year of Augustus, and in the twenty-fifth day of [the Egyptian month of] Pachon. This is 20 May according to our calendar (The Stromata 1.21).

For the first 300 years of the church’s existence, it did not celebrate Christmas. December 25 was adopted in AD 336 when Constantine was emperor. In 354 a list of Roman bishops was compiled. The words that appeared in 336 were, ’25 Dec: natus Christus in Betleem Judeae, i.e. 25 December, Christ born in Bethlehem Judea.

Around that time there were pagan festivals honouring the Roman god of agriculture, liberation and time – Saturn. Mithra (Mithras) was worshipped by the Persians (Iran, Iraq and vicinity) as the god of light. Could this have been a tactical decision by a christianised Emperor, Constantine, to encourage people to consider the new faith of Christianity?

2.  The Santa sham

I well remember the deceitful fun my parents had with us kids at Christmas with the gifts under the tree. The jolly old Santa was part of my family’s tradition. We children knew no other way to celebrate Christmas. Now we know its pretense, but who wants to spoil the fun for kids?

This legend has been traced back to the monk, St. Nicholas, born around AD 280 in Patara, modern Turkey. He was esteemed for his godliness and kindness. Many legends have sprung up around his story.

As for the name, Santa Claus, it emerged from Nick’s Dutch nickname, Sinter Klaas. As for the chubby, bearded fellow in the red suit, those features originated in 1822 when Clement Clarke Moore, a USA Episcopal minister, wrote a lengthy poem for his three daughters, ‘An account of a visit from St. Nicholas’.

He was cautious about publishing it because of its petty subject. However, that poem seems to have been responsible for the contemporary image of Santa – the tubby old man in red who could climb up a chimney (

This year, I visited a major department store in the Brisbane region to purchase a nativity scene for my house. When I asked the person at the front door to direct me to where I might find such a scene, she naively responded: ‘What do you mean?’ She had no idea of the true meaning of Christmas and where a nativity scene fits into the picture. To her knowledge there were none in this very large store. She was correct.

However, she knew lots about Santa, tinsel, lights and Christmas trees.

3.  The contaminating myths

At this time of the year, the doubters, protagonists and atheists are out in force in the mass media. They try to show that the decline and contamination of Christmas indicate that the celebration is phoney. It demonstrates the ‘Christ-myth’ (Bruno Bauer, Arthur Drews). It’s really not a celebration of the Son of God but is a festivity for the god of sun.

Some focus on the supposed connection between the Egyptian religion and Christianity, particularly the Horus-Jesus relationship. Horus was the Sun of God.

4.  How are myths created?

Jane Yolen, in her Myth Writing Workshop defines myth as ‘a made-up story that explains the existence of a natural phenomenon – such as where thunder comes from or why snow falls from the sky. Myths – which often include gods and goddesses and other supernatural characters who have the power to make extraordinary things happen — are popular even when people know the actual reasons for natural phenomena’.

This agrees with the Collins’ Dictionary definition that a myth is ‘a story about superhuman beings of an earlier age, usually of how natural phenomena or social customs came into existence’. It is fiction, an invention and promotes historical, mystical and supernatural falsehoods – for creative reading, film and performance.

5.  Jesus’ birth as truth or fiction

How do we know Jesus birth and life are rooted in history and not fiction? His forerunner, John the Baptist, was born at the time when Herod was king of Judea (Luke 1:5-7). Herod the Great lived 73-4 BC and was appointed King of Judea by the Romans from 37-4 BC. Jesus was born ca. 6-4 BC under Herod’s late reign (see Matt 2:16).

Image result for clipart 25 December Christian Christmas(image courtesy Clipart Library)

The awful details of Herod’s death are recorded in graphic detail by the Jewish historian, Josephus (Antiquities 17.6.5). Josephus regarded this kind of death as ‘God’s judgment upon him for his sins’. He was brutal in his treatment of opponents.

6.  Is Herod’s massacre of young children a myth?

Matthew 2:16 records, ‘When Herod realised that he had been outwitted by the Magi, he was furious, and he gave orders to kill all the boys in Bethlehem and its vicinity who were two years old and under, in accordance with the time he had learned from the Magi’.

A writer on historical topics, Michael Grant, considered these details not to be historical but myth or folk-lore. The massacre of the children was invented, although he conceded it was likely related to the historical fact that Jesus probably was born in one of the last years of Herod’s reign (in Gordon Franz 2009).

In my research, I found no record of this massacre in secular literature outside the Bible. However, it is consistent with the brutality of Herod. He slaughtered friends, enemies and relatives (see Josephus Antiquities, 15:5-10). He even killed his second wife, Mariamme I, out of jealousy (Antiquities, 15.3.5). He had some of his sons killed (Josephus War 1.27.6).

Archaeology and other research have discovered much evidence to support the trustworthiness of Bible records.

‘Now for the first time, one hundred and ten 2,500 year old Babylonian tablets have been discovered in Iraq which provide a glimpse of Jewish life in Babylonian exile’. It corroborates the biblical story mentioned in Ezekiel 1:1. The Huffington Post, Australia (6 December 2017), hardly a Christian publication, concluded: ‘This discovery is a remarkable confirmation of the historical reliability of the Biblical text’.

7.  Embarrassment

Something that may have caused embarrassment or created difficulty for the early church is more likely to be authentic. Why? Because it is improbable that the writers of the Gospels would deliberately set out to write false, embarrassing or contradictory material that would weaken the position of the church.

Josephus stated: ‘But let not a single witness be credited, but three, or two at the least, and those such whose testimony is confirmed by their good lives. But let not the testimony of women be admitted, on account of the levity and boldness of their sex’ (Antiquities, 4.8.15).

What happened on resurrection morning? ‘The Sabbath day was now over. It was dawn on the first day of the week. Mary Magdalene and the other Mary went to look at the tomb’ (Matt 28:1). Imagine it! Women who weren’t worthy to be witnesses in that Jewish culture were the first to the tomb to find it empty.

Image result for picture embarrassment public domain(image courtesy Medical Xpress)

This is, therefore, more likely to be a credible witness to what happened historically because of the embarrassment factor.

Similarly with Herod! It would be embarrassing for the Gospel writer to record something as history if it did not happen. That record has been here for people to consult for 2,000 years and the Christian church worldwide has grown to be the largest religious group in 2015, ‘making up nearly a third (31%) of Earth’s 7.3 billion people, according to a new Pew Research Center demographic analysis’. That’s about 2.26 billion followers. Surely a myth wouldn’t engineer such a following!

Herod was a brutal king. As indicated, one of the leading criteria ancient historians use to determine the authenticity of an historical document is embarrassment. This applies to the investigation of what happened in 1770 when Captain James Cook sailed along the eastern coast of Australia, the terrorism on September 11 2001 in New York City, or whether Herod massacred the boys under 2 years’ of age in Bethlehem and its vicinity (Matt 2:16-18).

For a further discussion of these criteria, see Robert H Stein, The “Criteria” of Authenticity.

8.  That questionable census

The incarnation at the first Christmas when the pre-existent Son of God became a human being was accompanied by historical events and a human being with attributes of a person.

Jesus’ birth was at the time when emperor Caesar Augustus issued a decree for ‘all the world’ to ‘be registered’ (Luke 2:1). This was ‘the first registration when Quirinius was governor of Syria’ (Luke 2:2). Augustus was the greatest Roman emperor who reigned from 27 BC until his assassination in AD 14 (Ancient History Encyclopedia). Thus, Jesus’ birth was rooted in history and not myth.

(image courtesy Wikipedia: The Virgin and Saint Joseph register for the census before Governor Quirinius. Byzantine mosaic at the Chora Church, Constantinople 1315–20).

This historical information has some protagonists up in arms:

(1) ‘There is no record of Caesar Augustus’ decree that “all the world should be enrolled” (Lk. 2:1).  The Romans kept extremely detailed records of such events’ (N F Gier 1987).

(2) No records exist that Quirinius was governor of Syria when Luke wrote his Gospel. John Dominic Crossan of the Jesus Seminar stated, ‘The journey to and from Nazareth for census and tax registration is a pure fiction, a creation of Luke’s own imagination’ (Crossan 1994:20).

Even though there are questions about the accuracy of the biblical record, observe the association of Jesus’ birth with secular rulers – Herod, Caesar Augustus, and Quirinius. God’s purposes were worked out through unbelievers.

Herod died in 4 BC and Quirinius didn’t begin to rule in Syria until AD 6. Jesus was born in 5-4 BC. Is Luke telling a whopper? How can we answer this apparent historical discrepancy (suggested by J. Hampton Keathley, III)?

Flower10  An ancient census form from an official government order in Egypt, dated to AD 104, spoke of a house-to-house census for those who returned to their own homes. Archaeologist John McRay spoke of another papyrus from AD 48 indicating ‘the entire family was involved in the census’.

Flower10 External evidence to the Bible states census registrations happened about every 14 years and that Quirinius could have been twice in charge of these registrations. Luke records in Acts 5:37 that he was aware of the later registration or census of Quirinius, the one reported by Josephus. Luke shows from Luke 2:1-2 and Acts 5:37 that there may have been two census’ registrations by Quirinius. Or, there could have been two Quiriniuses,

Flower10  A distinguished archaeologist, Jerry Vardaman, found a coin with the name of Quirinius on it in very small writing, or what we call ‘micrographic’ letters. This places him as proconsul of Syria and Cilicia from 11 BC until after the death of Herod. ‘The census would have taken place under the reign of the earlier Quirinius. Given the cycle of a census every fourteen years, that would work out quite well’.

Sir William Ramsay, the late archaeologist and professor at both Oxford and Cambridge Universities gave a similar theory of one Quirinius who ruled Syria on two occasions. ‘He concluded from various inscriptions that while there was only one Quirinius, he ruled Syria on two separate occasions, which would cover the time period of the earlier census’.

9.  Manipulation of evidence

Have I stage-managed the evidence to arrive at a conclusion that conforms to Christian orthodoxy? That’s not my motivation. I want to honestly examine the evidence since Luke has a reputation of being a reliable historian. All readers of this article can choose to close down further examination of the evidence and claim that Luke got it wrong because of presuppositional resistance to the birth of Jesus happening as described in the Gospels.

The other option is to pursue the evidence where it leads. That’s what I’ve attempted to do. As a researcher of the historical Jesus, like all historical evidence (that cannot be examined in the laboratory by repeatability), the conclusions reached can be only probable and not 100% certain.

I have found reasonable answers to the Christmas questions posed about the biblical text.

10.  Conclusion

The season has become infected with profiteering and extra effects such as Santa, reindeers, tinsel, lights and Christmas trees.

Commercialisation of the Christian message or a bad experience should never testify against the real person and events surrounding Jesus’ birth.

Mouldy pawpaw seeds did not deter me from enjoying a special piece of summer fruit. Neither should a contaminated Christmas season stop us from remembering the Person who began this celebration ca. 4 BC, Jesus Christ the Saviour of the world.

The intrusion into the Christmas season of foreign symbols and signs detracts from the meaning of Christmas.

The history of the Western world turns on this event. The Christ child was prophesied in Micah 5:1-2 to be born in Bethlehem, 700 years before his birth. And it happened as predicted.

In the same era, Isaiah prophesied that he would be more than a baby in the manger. This child would be God the Son who would ultimately govern God’s kingdom. The baby of Bethlehem is the wonderful counsellor, mighty God, everlasting Father and prince of peace.

He’s the One whom we celebrate every Christmas. The extravagance of the season should never blind us to the fact that Jesus is the reason for the season.

Image result for image For unto us a King is born and the government shall be on his shoulder

Copyright © 2018 Spencer D. Gear. This document last updated at Date: 13 December 2018.

Language police take aim:[1] English grammar takes a nose dive in importance

By Spencer D Gear PhD

Image result for image Grammar Police public domain

(image courtesy Pinterest)

Does this language grate on your sensitivities? Is there any sense that ‘something is wrong’ with this grammar in the following examples from everyday reading?

  • ‘Radio shock jock Steve Price has revealed an intense rivalry between he and on-air rival John Laws almost ended in fisticuffs’.
  • ‘Queensland residents draws to the attention of the House….’
  • ‘… heckler Mr S. has levelled a complaint against my pastor Campbell Markham and I through the Anti-Discrimination Commissioner here in Hobart …’

clip_image004(photo above courtesy Givelda State School)

Were you taught English grammar when you were at English-speaking primary and secondary schools? I was, when I attended Australian schools: Givelda State School, Qld, and Bundaberg State High School, Qld.

At the time I attended Givelda, it was a one-room school with about 6 classes in the room. I’m grateful for my primary teachers who taught me the basics of English grammar.

Their names were Mr Eric Shaw and Mr William Robert David Spall. Mr Shaw was my first teacher.

However, that was back in the 1950s in the Queensland state school system.

The following are some examples of how English grammar is violated in general writings. I did not go searching for these grammatical errors but they were uncovered during my regular reading of everything from books, magazines, newspapers, blogs, and even a government document.

For definitions and examples of correct English grammar, I will refer to[2], Grammar and Oxford Living Dictionaries:[3], Grammar A-Z,[4] unless otherwise indicated.

clip_image006(image courtesy The Articulate CEO – Typepad)

Let’s get started with the types of grammatical errors that I have found in many types of writings in the last year or so.

A. Errors with use of prepositions

There are a couple uses of the preposition that are grammatical errors. The first is:

A.1 Objective case governs the preposition

The grammatical rule is: ‘The object of a preposition is the noun or pronoun governed by a preposition…. The noun or pronoun governed by a preposition is always in the objective case. In English, this only affects pronouns ( n.d. s.v. prepositions).[5]

What does ‘governed’ mean in this explanation? Another explanation is: ‘A preposition isn’t a preposition unless it goes with a related noun or pronoun, called the object of the preposition’ ( 2018. s.v. prepositions).[6]

So for nouns and pronouns to be governed by a preposition, the nouns and pronouns are related in some way to the preposition used. Here are some examples:

Prepositions are words or a set of words that indicate ‘location (in, near, beside, on top of) or some other relationship between a noun or pronoun and other parts of the sentence (about, after, besides, instead of, in accordance with)’.[7]

Grammar Monster explained:

A preposition is a word (usually a short word) that shows the relationship between two other nearby words. For example (prepositions highlighted):

· a boy from the ghetto

(Here, the preposition from tells us the relationship between ghetto and boy.)

· a bone for the dog

(Here, the preposition for tells us the relationship between dog and bone.)

The following are all examples of prepositions: in, on, at, around, above, near, underneath, alongside, of, and for.
Note: The word preposition means positioned before. A preposition will sit before a word (a noun or a pronoun) to show that word’s relationship to another nearby word.[8]

‘The objective case is used for nouns and pronouns which function as objects of a sentence. What is an object? ‘An object is a noun (or pronoun) that is governed by a verb or a preposition’ (Grammar Monster 2018. s.v. What is an object? With examples).[9]

There are three types of object: a direct object, an indirect object, and an object of a preposition’ ( What is the objective case (with examples)?’[10]

Direct object: ‘The direct object of a verb is the thing being acted upon (i.e., the receiver of the action). You can find the direct object by finding the verb and asking “what?” or “whom?” For example:

  • Please pass the butter.

(Q: pass what? A: the butter)

Indirect object: ‘The indirect object is the recipient of the direct object. You can find the indirect object by finding the direct object (see above) and then asking who or what received it. In the examples below, the indirect objects are shaded, and the direct objects are in bold.

  • Please pass Simon the butter.

(Q: pass what? A: the butter)
(Q: Who (or what) received the butter? A: Simon)

Object of a preposition: ‘The noun or pronoun after a preposition is known as the object of a preposition. In the examples below, the objects of prepositions are shaded, and prepositions are in bold.

  • She lives near Brighton.
  • She lives with him.
  • You can tell a lot about a fellow’s character by his way of eating jellybeans. (Ronald Reagan, 1911-2004).’[11]

In English, the objective case only affects changes in personal pronouns (e.g., I, he, she, we, they). For example, he becomes him, and they becomes them. ‘Some verbs have an object as well as a subject. The object is the person or thing affected by the verb’ (Oxford Living Dictionaries 2018. Subjects and objects).

Here is a list of subjective pronouns and objective pronouns:[12]

Subjective Pronoun Objective Pronoun Comment
I me
you you No change
he him
she her
it it No change
we us
they them
who whom More on who & whom
whoever whomever

The following bold sections are violations of this rule:

1. I was reading the article, ‘Contend earnestly for the faith’, by Greg Koukl at when he stated, ‘Here’s why those three elements of Jude’s admonition [Jude 1:3] are critical for you and I right now’ (Koukl 2013).

The object of the preposition ‘for’ is in the objective case, so it should read, ‘For you and me’.

What is the objective case? (see §2 below)

designBlue-sma Rewritten: ‘…are critical for you and me right now’

As an aside, the content of this article by Greg Koukl is excellent for those who want reasons to defend the Christian faith.

Prepositions Link Clip Art

(Image courtesy Clker)

2. ‘Radio shock jock Steve Price has revealed an intense rivalry between he and on-air rival John Laws almost ended in fisticuffs’.[13]

Rewritten: The correct grammar should be ‘between him and on-air rival John Laws’. It would be more courteous to put the other person first, ‘between on-air rival, John Laws, and him’.

3. I made the same error myself when writing an email to my son on 2 August 2017. I wrote to a real estate agent: “Would it be possible for my son and I to see through the villa … at noon tomorrow?’

I’m ashamed of myself, a language policeman, for violating this fundamental.

designBlue-sma Rewritten: ‘for my son and me’.

4. ‘This last two weeks have been quite a challenge for both my church and I. My regular heckler Mr S. has levelled a complaint against my pastor Campbell Markham and I through the Anti-Discrimination Commissioner here in Hobart’ (Cornerstone Church 2017).

The objective case after the preposition ‘against’ should read, ‘against my pastor Campbell Markham and me’.

designBlue-sma Rewritten:for both my church and me … against my pastor Campbell Markham and me’.

There is a second prepositional error committed by many, especially in general conversation.

5. Australia’s new Prime Minister, Scott Morrison, spoke at the Menzies Research Centre, Albury NSW (6 September 2018). He began: ‘Thank you very much Sussan for the very warm welcome to Jenny and I, and to my senior colleagues here particularly my Deputy Leader here, Josh Frydenberg and I, the “ScoJo” team’ (Morrison 2018).

designBlue-smaRewritten:to Jenny and me’ and ‘to … Josh Frydenberg and me’.

A.2 Should a preposition be located at the end of a sentence?

I’ve heard and seen some school teachers almost have grammatical hysterics when a person or student ends a sentence with a presupposition. Do they have good reasons to object as grammar teachers?

In Latin grammar, the rule is that a preposition should always precede the prepositional object that it is linked with: it is never placed after it. According to a number of other authorities, it was the dramatist John Dryden in 1672 who was the first person to criticize a piece of English writing (by Ben Jonson) for placing a preposition at the end of a clause instead of before the noun or pronoun to which it was linked.

This prohibition was taken up by grammarians and teachers in the next two centuries and became very tenacious. English is not Latin, however, and contemporary authorities do not try to shoehorn it into the Latin model.  Nevertheless, many people are still taught that ending a sentence or clause with a preposition should be avoided.[14]

A general rule in English grammar used to be that a sentence must not end with a preposition. One person went so far as to write: ‘Did You Know? The rule that a sentence cannot end with a preposition is regarded as one of the biggest grammar myths of all time’ (Penlighten 2018).

clip_image010image courtesy

However, Oxford Living Dictionaries (2018. s.v. preposition) disagree:

There is a traditional view, first set forth by the 17th-century poet and dramatist John Dryden, that it is incorrect to put a preposition at the end of a sentence, as in where do you come from? or she’s not a writer I’ve ever come across. The rule was formulated on the basis that, since in Latin a preposition cannot come after the word it governs or is linked with, the same should be true of English. The problem is that English is not like Latin in this respect, and in many cases (particularly in questions and with phrasal verbs) the attempt to move the preposition produces awkward, unnatural-sounding results. Winston Churchill famously objected to the rule, saying, ‘This is the sort of English up with which I will not put.’ In standard English the placing of a preposition at the end of a sentence is widely accepted, provided the use sounds natural and the meaning is clear.

So the preposition to conclude the sentence is widely accepted, provided the use sounds natural and the meaning is clear’. That is a very subjective way to determine grammatical meaning, with which I do not agree. It is too influenced by personal opinion.

There are other grammatical sources that agree with the Oxford explanation:

At one time, schoolchildren were taught that a sentence should never end with a preposition. However, this is a rule from Latin grammar that was applied to English. While many aspects of Latin have made their way into the English language, this particular grammar rule is not suited for modern English usage.

There are times when trying to avoid ending a sentence with a preposition creates unnecessary and awkward phrasing. For example, Winston Churchill once allegedly exclaimed, “That is the sort of thing up with which I will not put!” to mock someone who criticized him for ending a sentence with a preposition. Since the purpose of writing is to clearly communicate your thoughts and ideas, it’s perfectly acceptable to end a sentence with a preposition if the alternative would create confusion or sound unnatural.

However, it may still be worth revising your sentences to avoid ending them with a preposition whenever possible if you wish to reduce the risk of controversy (Your Dictionary 1996-2018. Ending a Sentence with a Preposition).

That makes it a moot point to state that a sentence should not end with a preposition. The Collins Dictionary (2018. s.v. preposition) states:

The practice of ending a sentence with a preposition (Venice is a place I should like to go to) was formerly regarded as incorrect, but is now acceptable and is the preferred form in many contexts.

1. A Brisbane Times journalist wrote: ‘Misandry is hardly a word, never mind a thing men need defending from’ (Holden 2018).

2. A friend sent me an email: ‘I know you’ve moved but I don’t know where to’ (email 11 December 2017).

Of both of these examples, it can be stated that ‘the use sounds natural and the meaning is clear’ (Oxford Dictionaries), but that is determined by my subjective view.

Nevertheless, major dictionaries and books of grammar now accept sentences ending with a presupposition. ‘Despite what you may have been taught, it’s a myth that ending a sentence or clause with a preposition is an error’ (The Free Dictionary 2003-2018. Dangling prepositions).[15]


(image courtesy

B. Object of sentence must be in objective case.

What is the objective case in a sentence? It applies to nouns, pronouns and relative pronouns that are objects of a sentence. However, what are objects of a sentence? See § A.1 above.

1. ‘Mr Nuttall was jailed for seven years in 2009 for receiving more than $500,000 in corrupt payments from two businessmen who he then helped to secure lucrative government contracts’ (AAP 2016).

Rule. Use this he/him method to decide whether who or whom is correct:

he = who
him = whom

Who/Whom wrote the letter?
He wrote the letter. Therefore, who is correct.
Who/Whom should I vote for?
Should I vote for him? Therefore, whom is correct ( 2018. s.v. who vs. whom).

Rewritten: ‘whom he then helped’.

2. ‘There are also his parents, Ian and Joan, who he visited recently at their home in southern WA’ (Baum 2016).

‘Who’ functions as the object of the verb, ‘visited’, and should be in the objective case.

designRed-small Rewritten: ‘whom he visited’.

3. Dr Michael Chamberlain: ‘”The case represents a gross injustice but also freedom of forensic science, which eventually saw Lindy and I exonerated in 1988,”

Rewritten: ‘saw Lindy and me exonerated’.

4. ‘MITCHELL Starc believes the spotless form of “Genius Josh’’ Hazlewood will allow he and Pat Cummins to unleash their inner-beasts at the Gabba next week’ (Craddock 2017). This grammatical error was contained in the article’s heading and an editor did not pick it up – at the time I accessed the article at 7.00am.

‘He’ is the object of the future tense verb, ‘will allow’, so it should be in the objective case.

designRed-small Rewritten: ‘will allow him and Pat Cummins to unleash….’

5. In a comment on a Christian forum, Drew wrote: ‘While you guys [in the USA] are in a wall building mood, perhaps you could build one in the northern border and do all we Canadians a favour’.[16]

‘We Canadians’ functions as the object of ‘do’ and the pronoun should be in the objective case, ‘us Canadians’.

designRed-smallRewritten: ‘and do all us Canadians a favour’.

6. I received this email from a friend: ‘If for any reason you can not attend on Thursday 23rd advise Tony or I when you will be available’.

designRed-smallRewritten: ‘Advise Tony or me’.

C. Plural subjects need plural verb; singular subject needs singular verb

The fundamental grammatical rules on this topic are:

Basic Rule. A singular subject (she, Bill, car) takes a singular verb (is, goes, shines), whereas a plural subject takes a plural verb.

Example: The list of items is/are on the desk.
If you know that list is the subject, then you will choose is for the verb ( 2018. s.v. subject-verb agreement).

Other rules for this topic will be pursued below.

1. In the Centrelink form, MOD S, Separation details, it has this question no. 22, ‘Has there been any other changes to your income and assets?’[17]

This is a special example: ‘In sentences beginning with here or there, the true subject follows the verb’ ( 2018a)

flamin-arrow-small Rewritten: Therefore, the sentence should read: ‘Have there been any other changes…?’

2. ‘”The water loss and settlement has slowed dramatically so that is why we are now ready to begin construction, because what is called your ‘primary settlement’ has occurred,” he said’ (Moore 2017).

Rule 4. As a general rule, use a plural verb with two or more subjects when they are connected by and ( 2018. s.v. subject-verb agreement).

flamin-arrow-small Rewritten: ‘The water loss and settlement have slowed….’

3. ‘Griffin is really bad [with mosquitoes], so is Murrumba Downs station bus stops’ (Jervis 2017).

flamin-arrow-small Rewritten: ‘so are Murrumba Downs’ bus stops’.

4. ‘Since before chalk and slate was invented, debates around barbecues have probed teacher claims of ‘working on holidays’, a phenomenon hardly isolated to just one occupation (Laming 2017).

The irony is in the fact that Andrew Laming’s article was about teachers, lesson plans from home, and the influence of unions on education. Laming is a federal MP for the seat of Bowman, based in Cleveland, Qld.

flamin-arrow-small Rewritten: ‘Since before chalk and slate were invented….’

5. An Aussie mother wrote about sending her children to school: ‘24 whiteboard markers PER student. So if there is 20 students in ONE class, that’s a total of 480 whiteboard markers. Are you serious!?’ ( 2017).

Rule 6. In sentences beginning with here or there, the true subject follows the verb’ ( 2018. s.v. subject-verb agreement).

flamin-arrow-small Rewritten: ‘So if there are 20 students in ONE class….’

6. This is from a post on a Christian forum that was addressed to me: ‘Oz, what’s your thoughts about the ‘Reason for God” by Timothy Keller?’[18]

flamin-arrow-small Rewritten: ‘What are your thoughts….’

7. Cricket commentator, Ian Chappell, wrote of the panel that chose the cricketers for the 2017 cricket tour of India: ‘Even though the panel have only chosen three fast bowlers, they have given themselves the option of adding to that number after the first two Tests’ (Chappell 2017).

The grammatical rule is: ‘Anyone who uses a plural verb with a collective noun must take care to be accurate—and also consistent.

The staff is deciding how they want to vote.
Careful speakers and writers would avoid assigning the singular is and the plural they to staff in the same sentence.

Consistent: The staff are deciding how they want to vote ( 2018. s.v. subject-verb agreement).

My understanding: ‘Even though the panel [members] have only chosen three fast bowlers, they have given themselves the option of adding to that number….’

8. Professor N T Wright, New Testament scholar, wrote: ‘Religious pluralism and syncretism was the order of the day right across the ancient world, with the notable exception of Judaism (and even that was contested in various ways)’ (Wright 2017).

flamin-arrow-small Rewritten: ’Religious pluralism and syncretism were the order of the day….’


9. As of 2009: ‘Queensland Baptists has decided that women will not be accepted as candidates for ordination’.[19]

flamin-arrow-small Rewritten: ‘Queensland Baptists have decided….’

10. ‘New car paint protection, rust proofing and fabric protection is often offered after you have signed the contract’ (NRMA Policy Team 2009).

flamin-arrow-small Rewritten: ’New car paint protection, rust proofing and fabric protection are often offered after….’

11. ‘The member for Buderim admitted he had “yelled a few things across the floor” since entering state politics in 2009, but said fighting and squabbling was not called for’ (Caldwell 2017).

flamin-arrow-small Rewritten: ‘but said fighting and squabbling were not called for’.

12. On a Christian forum a person wrote, ‘The doctrines that Christianity has stood on since the resurrection of Christ, still stands.[20]

flamin-arrow-small Rewritten: ‘The doctrines that Christianity have stood on since the resurrection of Christ, still stand’.

13. In a Brisbane Times article on speed cameras, it stated, ‘The council’s $5 million portable speed warning signs programs was introduced and is designed to register a driver’s speed and issue them with a visual warning to slow down if they are exceeding the limit. November, 2013’ (McCosker 2017).

The errors in this statement include: (a) Failure to use an apostrophe with the possessive case, ‘signs’ and, (b) failure to follow subject and verb agreement.

The apostrophe rule is: The rule is: ‘Do not use an apostrophe + s to make a regular noun plural’ (Grammar Monster 2018).[21] So ‘warning signs programs’ should be “warning signs’ programs”.

flamin-arrow-small Rewritten: ‘The council’s $5 million portable speed warning signs’ programs[22] were introduced and are designed to register a driver’s speed and issue the person with a visual warning to slow down if … exceeding the limit’.

14. In a Brisbane Times article dealing with university students denying the Holocaust, Dr Melanie O’Brien, an expert in genocide studies at the University of Qld school of law stated, ‘It’s not very well written and the grammar and the punctuation is not great’ (Clun 2017a).

For someone to complain about grammar and then use incorrect grammar herself is a contradiction.

flamin-arrow-small Rewritten: ‘It’s not very well written and the grammar and the punctuation are not great’.

15. The article, ‘Woman’s leg degloved[23] in Whitsundays yacht accident’, Brisbane Times, stated, ‘The company were working with water police’ (Mitchell-Whittington 2017).

flamin-arrow-small Rewritten: ‘… in Whitsundays’ yacht accident…. The company was working with water police’.

16. In the Brisbane Times story, ‘Other states dump 1 million tonnes of rubbish in Queensland’, there was this statement: ‘Ms Meldrum-Hanna said because of the lack of monitoring hazardous liquids, asbestos and tonnes of building and construction waste was being dumped in Ipswich’ (Clun 2017b).

flamin-arrow-small Rewritten: ‘because of the lack of monitoring hazardous liquids, asbestos and tonnes of building and construction waste were being dumped in Ipswich

17. ‘The Australian media and political landscape is now awash with goons seeking to exploit the sort of far-right tone the Donald Trump presidency has helped legitimise across the West….’ (O’Malley 2017).

flamin-arrow-small Rewritten: ‘The Australian media and political landscape are now awash with goons…’[24]

18. The Courier-Mail reported on Malcolm Turnbull’s response to the energy crisis with this explanation by a journalist, ‘The reports and correspondence to Government has raised serious concerns about prices and stability’ (Viellaris 2017).

flamin-arrow-small Rewritten: ‘The reports and correspondence to government have raised serious concerns….’

19. Review of 2017 Kia Sportage Si, CarAdvice: ‘Warranty and capped-price servicing is compelling…. Outside of the luxury European brands, there’s more options in the medium SUV segment than you can poke a proverbial at’.[25]

Rule 2. Two singular subjects connected by or, either/or, or neither/nor require a singular verb…..
Rule 4. As a general rule, use a plural verb with two or more subjects when they are connected by and ( 2018. s.v. subject-verb agreement).

The rule for ‘there’ and ‘here’ starting a sentence is at C 5.

flamin-arrow-small Rewritten: ‘Warranty and capped-price servicing are compelling…. There are more options….’

(image courtesy Unique Teaching Resource)

clip_image01520. ‘In these challenging times, the next generation of leaders are absolutely vital to the health and posterity of our nation’ (Shelton 2017).

The grammatical rule is:

Rule 1. A subject will come before a phrase beginning with of. This is a key rule for understanding subjects. The word of is the culprit in many, perhaps most, subject-verb mistakes.
Hasty writers, speakers, readers, and listeners might miss the all-too-common mistake in the following sentence:

Incorrect: A bouquet of yellow roses lend color and fragrance to the room.

Correct: A bouquet of yellow roses lends . . . (bouquet lends, not roses lend) [ 2018. s.v. subject-verb agreement).

flamin-arrow-smallRewritten: ‘the next generation of leaders is absolutely vital …’

21. ‘Key changes to the Manufactured Homes (Residential Parks) Act 2003 include … ensuring adequate emergency access and planning is in place’ (Caxton legal centre inc 2017).

snowflake-light-green-small Rewritten: ‘Key changes … include … ensuring adequate emergency access and planning are in place’.

22. ‘Here’s all the teams for the semi-finals’ (World Cup [Rugby League] Semi-Finals, 2017).

The subject of the sentence is after the verb and is ‘all’, a plural pronoun, so requires a plural verb.

snowflake-light-green-small Rewritten: ‘Here are all the teams …’

23. ‘and only one of those three are still there’ (Wright & Ellinghausen 2017).

‘Only one’ is singular so requires a singular verb.

snowflake-light-green-small Rewritten: ‘and only one of those three is still there’.

24. Barnaby Joyce stated, ‘”Obviously Twitter and social media has spent a lot of time just being completely defamatory’ (Wroe 2017).

snowflake-light-green-small Rewritten: ‘Twitter and social media have spent a lot of time….’

25. ‘I’ve heard Christians says that we shouldn’t concern ourselves with what goes on in wider society’ (Balogh 2017).

snowflake-light-green-small Rewritten: ‘I’ve heard Christians say….’

26. ‘Burpengary Doctors provides a professional after hours service’ (Burpengary Doctors 2017).

Here, however, ‘Burpengary Doctors’ is the name of a business – a collective noun that is singular. There is a punctuation issue with the statement of ‘after hours service’ in relation to the three words, ‘after hours service’. One of Monash University’s statements about the use of apostrophes is:

Plural nouns that end with s have an apostrophe added after the s.

the students’ work
the lecturers’ seminars (Monash University 2018).

Therefore, “after hours service” should be “after hours’ service”.

However, USA grammar sometimes supports different punctuation for words ending in s ( 2018).

snowflake-light-green-small Rewritten: “Burpengary Doctors [as a business] provides a professional after hours’ service”.


(courtesy tekhnologic –

27. ‘And it’s the 1,040 people (one percent) who were killed without their knowledge or consent and the 749 who never wanted to die early that should get us up in arms’ (Nertelt 2012).

‘Were killed’ is a past tense verb, so “it’s” needs to be the past tense, ‘it was’. Then it would read, ‘It was the 1,040 people….’ This is incorrect as ‘it’ is a neuter, singular pronoun that refers to things. Here it refers to ‘1,040 people’, so the construction has to be remove it and use a modifier that is suitable for people.

The complement of the sentence refers to the number of the subject, so the correct construction is, ‘There were’.

snowflake-light-green-small Rewritten: ‘And there were the 1,040 people (one percent) who were killed without their knowledge or consent….’

28. reported on the fifth Ashes cricket test, beginning 4 January 2018, ‘The coin toss and play has been delayed due to showers in Sydney ahead of the fifth Magellan Ashes Test at the SCG’ (LIVE: Fifth Ashes Test, day one 2017-2018).[26]

snowflake-light-green-small Rewritten: ‘The coin toss and play have been delayed….’

29. In a lesson on grammar, the author wrote, ‘Then there’s omissions’ (Texas A&M University 2018).

snowflake-light-green-small Rewritten: ‘Then there were omissions’.

30. ‘The Coalition Government is listening and understand that electricity prices, unemployment and our national security are pressing on peoples’ minds’ (Luke Howarth MP for Petrie).[27]

snowflake-light-green-small Rewritten: ‘The Coalition Government is listening and understand that electricity prices, unemployment and our national security is pressing on peoples’ minds’

31. ‘Not enough state school parents understand what religion instruction involves, secular advocates believes, with more parents pushing for transparency at their children’s schools’ (Remeikis 2016).

snowflake-light-green-small Rewritten: ‘secular advocates believe…’

32 Reba wrote, ‘The birth, death and Resurrection of Christ was not by chance.’[28]

snowflake-light-green-small Rewritten: ‘The birth, death and resurrection of Christ were not by chance.’

33. ‘Cricket Australia are still determining whether Junction Oval would be available to host the Sheffield Shield final…. Cricket Australia is in discussions with Cricket Victoria regarding the Sheffield Shield final’ (Cherny 2018).

The law of non-contradiction has been violated here. This states: ‘The law of non-contradiction can be expressed simply as such: A cannot be both B and non-B at the same time and in the same sense’ (Josh 2008).

In the statement from Cricket Australia (CA), in the law of non-contradiction,

A = discussions where to conduct the Sheffield Shield final in Victoria.

B = ‘Cricket Australia are’;

Non-B = ‘Cricket Australia is’.

There is a contradiction with CA using ‘are’ one time and ‘is’ another. To avoid this contradiction, this should be the way it is …

snowflake-light-green-small Rewritten: ‘Cricket Australia [as an organisation] is still determining…. Cricket Australia is in discussions….’

34. Queensland Premier Annastacia Palaszczuk said, ‘If there is any particular details that people want investigated further we can have a look at those particular matters’ (Kohlbacher 2018).

This deals with the subject of a clause where ‘there’ is placed before the verb, but the subject, ‘details (plural)’ follows the verb. So, it is …

snowflake-light-green-small Rewritten: ‘If there are any particular details….’ (image courtesy Elon University, Elon NC, USA)

35. espncricinfo reported on the second cricket test between South Africa and Australia, 10 March 2018: ‘Day 2: South Africa lead by 20 runs with 3 wickets remaining in the innings’.[29]

‘South Africa’ is regarded as a single team so takes a singular verb ‘leads’.

snowflake-light-green-small Rewritten: ‘South Africa leads by 20 runs …’[

36. ‘Rababa was again in the thick of the action on the fourth morning at St George’s Park, cutting short Australia’s resistance to collect match figures of 11-150 as Australia were bowled out for 239 in their second innings’ (Barrett 2018a).

For ‘matching verbs to collective nouns’, see D. 9 below for the rule. Also see Oxford Dictionaries online (2018. s.v. matching verbs to collective nouns) for a further explanation. [30]

Another grammatical issue in this sentence from Barrett (2018a) is his use of the possessive pronoun ‘their’. When Australia is regarded as a singular team, a singular possessive, neuter pronoun, ‘it’, should be used.

The grammatical rule is explained in D. 11 in relation to my interaction with the New International Version (NIV) Bible translation committee.

snowflake-light-green-small Rewritten: Australia was bowled out for 239 in its second innings’.

37. A Christian pastor sent me this email on 5 March 2018: ‘There was only 13 there plus 3 children’.

snowflake-light-green-small Rewritten: ‘There were only 13 there plus 3 children’.

38. There was an incident of vandalism at the Strathpine Qld office of Immigration Minister, Peter Dutton MP. The news report stated that ‘three people were inside the office at the time but none were injured’ (Schwarten 2018).

‘None’ means ‘not one’, so is singular subject.

snowflake-light-green-small Rewritten: ‘but none was injured’.

But none of them were healed; the only one was Naaman‘ (Luke 4:27 ERV).

snowflake-light-green-small Rewritten: ‘But none of them was healed; the only one was Naaman’.

39. ‘But it’s not as if there’s many black players clamoring for selection’ (Fourie 2012).

snowflake-light-green-small Rewritten: ‘as if there are many black players clamouring for selection’.

40. Atheistic writer, David Fitzgerald, stated: ‘The first gospel of Christianity appears to have been a literary allegory that were written decades after the time they portray’ (in Gray 2015).

The direct object of ‘have been’ is the singular, ‘a literary allegory’. Therefore the following relative clause, beginning with ‘that’, should use a singular verb referrent, ‘was written’

snowflake-light-green-small Rewritten: ‘The first gospel … appears to have been a literary allegory that was written decades after the time it portrays’.

41. ‘The length of the suspensions mean that the next major event that Warner and Smith could play in for Australia is the World Cup, followed by the Ashes, in England next year’ (Barrett 2018b).

golden foward button Rewritten: ‘The length (singular) of the suspensions means that….’

42, In this online petition to the Queensland Parliament, it was stated:

‘Queensland residents draws to the attention of the House that despite the Mackay-Whitsunday region’s proud record of hosting NRL games, and international fixtures, our region has been snubbed when it comes to staging NRL games in Mackay in recent years’.

Plural subjects require a plural verb in agreement.

golden foward button Rewritten: ‘Queensland residents draw to the attention of the House….’

43. In the newsletter received by email from on 31 March 2018, it stated:

It is God’s resurrection power that brings those dead in their sins to life in Christ (Ephesians 2:5; Romans 11:15). Knowing this give us confidence to proclaim Christ, certain that He is powerful to save (Reasons for Celebrating the Resurrection).

golden foward button Rewritten: ‘It is God’s resurrection power (singular) that brings those dead in sins to life in Christ…. Knowing this gives us confidence to proclaim Christ….’

44. I received this email from my private medical insurance provider, Bupa, on Tuesday, 3 April 2018: ‘Your health and wellbeing is our priority’.[31]

golden foward button Rewritten: ‘Your health and wellbeing are our priority’.

45. ‘Akos Balogh from TGCA [The Gospel Coalition of Australia] recently spoke with Michael Kellahan, the Executive Director of the Christian Legal Think-Tank Freedom for Faith, about religious freedom here in Australia’. Concerning religious freedom, Kellahan stated: ‘Some of them say there’s no challenges to religious freedom at all’ (Balogh 2018b).

This suffers from the ‘there’ grammar rule as it relates to the subject and the tense of the verb. The subject of this clause, ‘[that] there’s no challenges’, is the plural, ‘challenges’. So it needs to be …

golden foward button Rewritten: ‘there are no challenges’.

46. This was stated in On Line Opinion, Copyright and editorial matters, ‘We also may edit the Contribution as we sees fit….’[32]

“We’ is plural so needs to be in agreement with a plural verb.

golden foward button Rewritten: ‘We also may edit the Contribution as we see fit’.

47. In a comment about the article, ‘Folau, ball tampering, protection for religious belief ‘ On Line Opinion, Comments, 12 April 2018, A J Phillips wrote, ‘,,,when it’s your side of politics that are making all the offensive and ignorant remarks’.[33]

golden foward button Rewritten: ‘When it’s your side (singular) of politics that is (singular) making all the offensive and ignorant remarks’.

48. ‘”It’s just a fact of life,” Professor Halsey told Fairfax Media. “Housing and conditions in some locations – and in some more than others – is a major issue”’ (Koziol 2018).

golden foward button Rewritten: ‘Housing and conditions in some locations … are major issues’.


(image courtesy abcteach)

49. The National Geographic published an article on a campaign to eliminate hell by evangelical scholars. The sub-heading was: ‘A new generation of evangelical scholars are challenging the idea that sinners are doomed to eternal torment—but traditionalists are pushing back (Strauss 2016).

golden foward button Rewritten: ‘‘A new generation (singular) of evangelical scholars is (singular verb) challenging the idea that sinners are doomed to eternal torment’.

50. ‘Anyone who knows of the family’s whereabouts were urged to contact police’ (Mitchell-Whittington 2018).

golden foward button Rewritten:Anyone (singular) who knows of the family’s whereabouts was urged (singular verb) to contact police’.

51. This is an example of a violation of grammar in an online tutorial on ‘examples of the objective case’. It stated: ‘The objective case are the nouns or pronouns that function as an object in a sentence’ (Socratic English Grammar 2017).

golden foward button Rewritten: ‘The objective case (singular) includes (singular verb) the nouns or pronouns that function as an object in a sentence’. I considered that ‘includes’ was a more appropriate singular verb than ‘is’ to make sense of the sentence.

52. On a Christian forum, one of the moderators stated: ‘There’s no reason for anyone to troll a Christian forum demanding Christians engage in proving their faith when there’s so many good books to explore’.[34]

golden foward button Rewritten: ‘… there are so many good books to explore’.

53. ‘The council’s waste and resource recovery services manager, Arron Lee, said escalating landfill levies and glass was impacting Australia’s recycling industry’ (McCosker 2018).

golden foward button Rewritten: ‘… escalating landfill levies and glass were impacting Australia’s recycling industry’.

54. ‘Debate and division is not conducive to our vision’.[35]

golden foward button Rewritten: ‘Debate and division are not conducive to our vision’.

55 This is from a Queensland Government document: ‘For many people, care at the end of life and palliative care is provided in their home’.[36]

golden foward button Rewritten: For many people, care at the end of life and palliative care is provided in their home’.

56. This is from the Liberal Democrat Party’s website on values: ‘The Liberal Democrats believe government have neither the expertise, nor the rights to tell people how to run their lives’ (Liberal Democrats n.d.).

golden foward button Rewritten: ‘The Liberal Democrats (as a singular political party) believe government has neither the expertise, nor the rights’.

57. ‘Australia are sweating on yet another injury scare that could affect their Test XI, with Shaun Marsh sent for scans after hurting his shoulder in the UK’ (AAP 2018a).

golden foward button Rewritten: ‘Australia (singular cricket team) are sweating on yet another injury scare that could affect its Test XI’,

58. ‘Again the National Party have tried stealing another One Nation policy’ (National Party Steals Another One Nation Policy – Coal Fired Power Stations, 6 July 2018).[37]

golden foward button Rewritten: ‘Again the National Party has tried stealing another One Nation policy’

59. ‘This is the cessation of the electrical impulse that drives (singular) the heartbeat’ (Perry 2017).

golden foward button Rewritten: ‘This is the cessation (singular) of the electrical impulse that drive the heartbeat’

60. ‘An embarrassing leak of internal records show Labor candidate Susan Lamb had been planning for an election ­campaign in April, before the High Court’s decision in May’ (Hadley/Dutton 2018).

golden foward button Rewritten: ‘An embarrassing leak (singular) of internal records shows (singular) Labor candidate Susan Lamb had been planning….’

61. ‘Ninety-eight per cent of NSW and around two-thirds of Queensland is in drought or drought-affected, with pastures turned to rubble and the cost of freight and feed skyrocketing’ (ABC regional reporters 2018).

bug Rewritten: ‘Ninety-eight per cent of NSW and around two-thirds of Queensland are in drought or drought-affected….’

62. In The Journal of Bioethical Inquiry, researchers wrote: ‘More education and debate is needed to disentangle in these situations which acts should be regarded as euthanasia and which should not’ (Rietjens et al 2009).

bug Rewritten: ‘More education and debate are needed to disentangle in these situations which acts should be regarded as euthanasia and which should not’.

63. In an emailer from Family Voice Australia (16 August 2018) it stated: ‘Your support and action is vital to assisting political leaders understand the wisdom needed for such important matters’ (Newington 2018).

bug Rewritten: ‘Your support and action are vital….’

64. ‘Dutton’s office have denied the arrangement would put him in breach of section 44, citing legal advice’ (Koziol 2018a).

bug Rewritten: ‘Dutton’s office(singular) has (singular) denied….’

65. In an e-Petition to the Queensland Government, it began with: ‘Queensland citizens draws to the attention of the House that section 234 of the Local Government Regulation 2012 provides that a local government may enter into a contract for goods and services without first inviting written quotes or tenders if the contract is entered into under an LGA arrangement’ (Queensland Parliament 2018a).

bug Rewritten: ‘: ‘Queensland citizens (singular) draw (singular) to the attention of the House….’

66. ‘This is the few threads that I read entirely’.[38]

bug Rewritten:These are the few threads that I read entirely’.

67. I received this emailer on 5 September 2018 with the heading, ‘Gas prices must fall if Australian manufacturing, industry and business is to survive’ (News Weekly ).

bug Rewritten: ‘Gas prices must fall if Australian manufacturing, industry and business are to survive’.

68. In an e-petition to the Queensland Parliament, it was stated: ‘Queensland citizens draws to the attention of the House the absence of legislation allowing for hunting of feral game in Queensland’s State Forests’.[39]

bug Rewritten: ‘Queensland citizens draw to the attention of the House….’

69. This is from an e-Petition sent by email from the Queensland Government: ‘Queensland residents draws to the attention of the House the evidence that the compulsory wearing of bicycle helmets can and have saved lives’.[40]

bug Rewritten: ‘Queensland residents draw to the attention of the House the evidence that the compulsory wearing (singular) of bicycle helmets can save (singular) and have saved (singular) lives’

70. Aaron Finch, Australia’s T20 cricket captain stated after India won the game: ‘I think there’s still a fair bit of work to do but there’s positive signs’.[41]

bug Rewritten: ‘but there are positive signs’.

71. In speaking about a school ‘Jesus ban’, a Fairfax electorate MP was reported: ‘Mr O’Brien, a practising Christian, said the crackdown was the actions of a “totalitarian, communist government“….’ (Sawyer 2017).

bug Rewritten: ‘the crackdown was the action of a “totalitarian, communist government“….’

72. This was a heading in the article, ‘Why would a loving God allow death and suffering‘, by Dr Jonathan Sarfati of Creation Ministries International: ‘Death and suffering is everywhere!’. The subject is plural, ‘death AND suffering’, because it refers to more than one. Plural subjects require a plural verb.

bug Rewritten. The heading should read, ‘Death and suffering are everywhere!’


(image courtesy Phillip Martin Clip Art)

D. Plural pronouns associated with singular nouns

The grammatical rule is:

The use of they and their with singular pronouns is frowned upon by many traditionalists. To be consistent, it is a good practice to try to avoid they and its variants (e.g., them, their, themselves) with previously singular nouns or pronouns.

Not consistent: Someone has to do it, and they have to do it well.

The problem is that someone is singular, but they is plural. If we change they to he or she, we get a rather clumsy sentence, even if it is technically correct.

Technically correct: Someone has to do it, and he or she has to do it well.

Replacing an inconsistent sentence with a poorly written one is a bad bargain. The better option is to rewrite.

Rewritten: Someone has to do it, and has to do it well ( ( 2018. Pronouns).[42]

1. Peter Wellington MP stated,

‘But I think in 2017, people if they’re going out in public, need to have their face identifiable.

We need to be able to continue to walk down the street without fear of intimidation, without having to look over our shoulders, and look at people who have their whole face covered….

The premier says Queensland adheres to a series of national procedures and policies requiring people to show their full face when entering government buildings’ (AAP 2017).

flag Rewritten: ‘People … need to have their faces identifiable…. Requiring people to show their full faces ….’

2. Postmortem refers to ‘a medical examination of a dead person’s body in order to find out how they died’ (Collins English Dictionary 2017. s. v. postmortem).

flag Rewritten: ‘a dead person’s body in order to find out how that person died’.

3. ‘The feminist organization promotes feminism and can require their leader to be a feminist…. The school’s own website states in its mission that “every single Hawkeye learns how to build their own path and bravely go wherever it leads”’ (Estell 2017).[43]

flag Rewritten: ‘The feminist organisation[44] (singular)… can require its leader to be a feminist…. “every single Hawkeye … its own path’.

clip_image023(photograph Jacob Estell, courtesy Des Moines Register, 14 December 2017).

4. Retired MP, former Howard government minister and regular columnist for The Sydney Morning Herald, Amanda Vanstone, wrote: ‘The plain English interpretation of this is that they [the Australian Democrats] would hold a government to their promises’ (Vanstone 2018).

flag Rewritten: ‘would hold a government to its promises’.

5. The Queensland Courts wrote this about autopsies: ‘During the autopsy, the deceased is treated with respect and great care to preserve their dignity’ [The State of Queensland (Queensland Courts) 2011–2018].

flag Rewritten: ‘The deceased is treated with respect … to preserve that person’s dignity’

6. ‘Section 22 of the Births, Deaths and Marriages Registration Act currently means that any Queenslander who has undergone sex reassignment surgery has to divorce their partner to have their gender legally recognised’ (Caldwell 2018).

flag Rewritten: ‘Any Queenslander … to divorce that person’s partner to have the new gender legally recognised’.

7. ‘Queensland Premier Annastacia Palaszczuk has promised to find out if a person received a government job after their resume was sent to Labor front-bencher Mark Bailey’s private email account’ (Kohlbacher 2018).

flag Rewritten: ‘consider the humanity of the unborn child and that child’s inherent human rights’.

8. In the petition on the Queensland Government website, Reject the campaign to remove all restraint on abortion in Queensland (online), one of the statements was: ‘consider the humanity of the unborn child and their inherent human rights’.[45]

flagRewritten: ‘consider the humanity of the unborn child and that child’s inherent human rights’.

9. ‘A fine all-round performance from Ellyse Perry has helped Australia wrap-up their one day series against India in Vadodara’ (AAP 2018).

What is the grammatical rule for collective names like ‘Australia’, meaning ‘the Australian team’?

Do you use a singular or plural verb to match a collective noun such as team or staff? The answer is, It depends. If these nouns are acting as a unit, use a singular verb.

Example: The team is heading for practice this afternoon.

If the sentence indicates more individuality, use a plural verb.

Example: The team are eating with their families tonight ( 2018. Subject and verb agreement with collective nouns).[46]

flag Rewritten: ‘Ellyse Perry has helped Australia wrap-up its one day series against India’.

clip_image02510. Brydon Coverdale, in his report on the second day of the third cricket test between South Africa and Australia wrote: ‘What Australia wanted from one of their openers was the kind of innings provided by Elgar, who had finished unbeaten on 141 after he and Rabada frustrated the Australians with a 50-run ninth-wicket stand’ (Coverdale 2018).

flag Rewritten: ‘: ‘What Australia (as a singular team) wanted from one of its openers was the kind of innings provided by Elgar….’

(image courtesy Wikipedia)

clip_image02711. The New International Version (NIV) of the Bible in 1 Corinthians 14:3 states, ‘Anyone who speaks in a tongue edifies themselves’. This grammatical error is perpetrated throughout both Old and New Testaments of this English translation of the Bible. The grammatical rule is ‘singular indefinite pronoun antecedents take singular pronoun referents’:

SINGULAR: each, either, neither, one, no-one, nobody, nothing, anyone, anybody, anything, someone, somebody, something, everyone, everybody, everything (Towson University 2017).

When I contacted the NIV translation committee about this anomaly, this was the explanation I received by email on 27 March 2018:

Dear Dr. Gear,

Thank you for your grammatical question about the NIV.

As you certainly know from your study of Greek, languages vary in what words exist for what parts of speech—not only to the level of pronouns, but even down to reflexive pronouns. Also, language changes over time as certain forms fall out of favor and others gain acceptance. From my study of the subject, the singular they has existed in English since the 14th century. And a singular use of “themselves” has developed as a generic symbol for any singular reflexive referent.

A lot of this comes down to the descriptive vs. prescriptive debate. You are exhibiting something closer to the prescriptive (“Why doesn’t this text follow the rules?”), whereas the descriptive says, “Here is a convention that may not be recognized by all as conventional, but it (sic) useful for communication.” In some corners of the English-speaking world, people try to hew to the singular somewhat by saying, “Anyone who speaks in a tongue edifies themself”—using the generic singular they but adding the singular-looking form of the reflexive. That seemingly was a bridge too far for the Committee for Bible Translation. In their deep research on English usage through the Collins Word Bank, they found that “themselves” is commonly enough used as to be acceptable.

I will say that the CBT [Committee on Bible Translation] is passionate to translate the ancient languages into global English as she is generally spoken today (thus, their significant investment in the Collins Word Bank research). They have been accused of a lot of things, but I assure you that their only agenda is to provide a Bible text that is accurate to the originals and accurate to contemporary English. There will be disagreement on that “accurate to contemporary English,” as you have brought up, but their heart is for a text that is elegant in a church setting and colloquial enough to use in outreach. Whether they have achieved these goals can be judged by every reader, but I can vouch for their intention.

Grace and peace to you as you pursue our Savior through God’s Word!

Partner Relations Team, Biblica


So, what I requested was sticking to the grammatical rules in Bible translation, but that was regarded as prescriptive (stipulating, imposing) the rules of grammar on the text versus descriptive. The CBT for the NIV chose the descriptive model where ‘“themselves” is commonly enough used as to be acceptable’. Therefore, ‘commonly enough used’ was the arbitration standard for determining ‘themselves’ instead of ‘oneself’ or ‘himself/herself’.

The CBT is so fixed in its ‘descriptive’ agenda that I don’t think it is worthy of further communication with the Partner Relations Team  Will any one of the broken grammatical rules (prescriptive) outlined in this ‘Grammar Police’ article be acceptable in future NIV editions? Because people regularly use singular subjects with plural verbs and plural subjects with singular verbs, will that be an accommodation accepted by contemporary NIV Bible translators?

Who gave the NIV translators authority to choose descriptive grammar over prescriptive grammar? Is that what a dynamic equivalence translation[47] (such as the NIV) of Scripture requires? Does that also mean that when common people continue to use plural subjects with a singular verb (and vice versa), that will become acceptable in descriptive writing?

The examples could go on ad infinitum of discarding prescriptive grammar for descriptive grammar.

Image result for image pronoun antecedent agreement public domain

(image courtesy Bonlac Foods)

12. ‘In Kingston in 2008-09, England were dismissed for 51 in their second innings’ (Lynch 2018).

flag Rewritten: ‘England (singular team) was dismissed for 51 in its second innings’

13. This was a statement in a question posed to Christian apologist, William Lane Craig, ‘I leave home and go to work, I serve a customer and they leave’ (Craig 2018).

flag Rewritten: ‘I serve a customer (singular) and that person leaves’.

14. I was shocked with this definition of narcissist in Oxford Dictionaries Online: ‘A person who has an excessive interest in or admiration of themselves’ (Oxford Dictionaries Online 2018. s.v. narcissist). ‘A person’ is singular but the pronoun that refers back to ‘a person’ is a reflexive pronoun, ‘themselves’ (plural) when it should be ‘herself, himself or oneself’. That a prestigious dictionary should resort to using what is colloquially becoming a common practice is an accommodation to the downturn in correct grammar.

The grammatical rule is: ‘Reflexive pronouns are used when both the subject and the object of a verb are the same person or thing’ ( 2018. s.v. pronouns).

In the example above, the subject is ‘singular, ‘a person’, but the reflexive pronoun used is ‘themselves’. It should be ‘oneself’.

flag Rewritten: ‘A person who has an excessive interest in or admiration of oneself’.

15. ‘Everyone is right, in their own mind, and only the narcissist believes that he is without error’.[48]

flag Rewritten:Everyone is right, in one’s own mind, and only the narcissist believes that he or she is without error’ Or, ‘All are right in their own minds and only narcissists believe that they are without error’.

16. ‘… attacks on religious freedom that was not even considered at the time of passing this Bill’.[49]

flag Rewritten:attacks on religious freedom that were not even considered at the time of passing this Bill’.

17. This statement is in ‘Our Mission’ of the Wesleyan Methodist Church of Australia: ‘The message which ignited the Wesleyan revival was the announcement that God through Christ can forgive a person their sins….’[50]

flag Rewritten: ‘that God through Christ can forgive a person his or her sins….’

Even better would be to rephrase: ‘that God through Christ can forgive all people their sins’.

(image courtesy YouTube)

18. This dictionary’s definition of adult is: ‘An adult has reached the age when they are legally responsible for their actions’ (Collins Dictionary 2018. s.v. adult). A concern is that this is a description from a world-renowned dictionary.

flag Rewritten: : ‘An adult has reached the age when that person is legally responsible for their actions’.

Another option could be: ‘An adult has reached the age when he or she is legally responsible for his or her actions’. That is clumsy and verbose. The first option is preferred by this grammar policeman.

19. ‘And the accumulated weight of a culture of sexism, racism and homophobia isn’t simply erased because someone declares on their website that we’re all individuals and should be judged as such’ (Edwards 2018).

flag Rewritten: ‘because someone declares on that person’s website that we’re all individuals and should be judged as such’.

20. In writing about the Longman by-election on 28 July 2018, a Brisbane Times journalist stated: ‘It comes in the same week that we hear One Nation is giving their preferences to the LNP’s Trevor Ruthenberg’ (Brown 2018).

flag Rewritten: ‘we hear One Nation (singular party) is giving its preferences to the LNP’s Trevor Ruthenberg.

21. ‘Anyone who does not provide for their relatives, and especially for their own household, has denied the faith and is worse than an unbeliever’ (1 Tim 5:8 NIV).

flag Rewritten:Everyone who does not provide for their relatives, and especially for their own household, has denied the faith and is worse than an unbeliever’.

A more clumsy way would be: ‘Anyone who does not provide for his or her relatives, and especially for his or her own household, has denied the faith and is worse than an unbeliever’.

The New Living Translation of this verse is: ‘But those who won’t care for their relatives, especially those in their own household, have denied the true faith. Such people are worse than unbelievers’.

22. Another journalist has practised descriptive grammar instead of prescriptive grammar: ‘The individual came forward to claim their prize 175 days after purchasing their unregistered ticket…. The winner – who has decided to remain anonymous  took their lucky ticket to the Tatts office in Melbourne on Wednesday, seven days before the whopping $55 million prize was due to be transferred to the Victorian State Revenue Office’ (Koob 2018).

flag Rewritten: : ‘The individual came forward to claim that person’s prize 175 days after purchasing the unregistered ticket…. The winner – who has decided to remain anonymous  took the lucky ticket to the Tatts office in Melbourne on Wednesday….’


(image courtesy

23. A comment from On Line Opinion, ‘Everyone is chosen to play their part’.[51]

flagRewritten:Everyone is chosen to play his or her part’.

I prefer this option: ‘All are chosen to play their parts’.

24. In attempting to connect to my homepage, Truth Challenge, I received this message from my Firefox/Mozilla web browser:

Your connection is not secure.

The owner of has configured their website improperly. To protect your information from being stolen, Firefox has not connected to this website.

flag Rewritten: ‘The owner … configured that person’s website improperly’.

By the way, the new address of this website , Truth Challenge, is:

25. In updating its Terms and Conditions for Internet Banking – effective 5 September 2018, Suncorp Bank wrote:

These Conditions apply to Internet Banking and your use of it. You must accept them:

· if you are reading this conditions within Internet Banking….[52]

flagRewritten: ‘You must accept them … if you are reading these conditions within Internet Banking’. This would appear to be a typographical error by Suncorp Bank.

26. ‘It means a child, born in 2011 in some western parts of Queensland, is in year 2 – and they have never seen rain. They’ve never witnessed the skies darken, and the heavens open. They’ve never heard the sound of water hitting a tin roof. And they’re seven years old’ (King 2018).

flag Rewritten: ‘It means a child, born in 2011 in some western parts of Queensland, is in year 2 – and that child has never seen rain. The child never witnessed the skies darken, and the heavens open. He or she has never heard the sound of water hitting a tin roof. And the child is seven years old’.

27. ‘Like the candidate for school captain who is a hero among their classmates but a teacher’s nightmare, Dutton has long had a bifurcated appeal’ (Knott 2018).

flag Rewritten: ‘Like the candidate for school captain who is a hero among his classmates but a teacher’s nightmare, Dutton has long had a bifurcated appeal’

28. In the Queensland abortion debate, Deputy Premier Jackie Trad stated, ‘”Ensuring that every single member of the Queensland Parliament has the right to exercise their conscience on this matter is critical to whether this legislation gets up,” she said’ (Caldwell 2018).

flag Rewritten: ‘Ensuring that every single member of the Queensland Parliament has the right to exercise that member’s conscience on this matter is critical….’

29. ‘”It’s a hellscape,” said one of the workers [of Amazon Australia], who spoke directly to Fairfax Media but declined to be identified for fear of losing their current jobs or damaging future work opportunities with labour hire firms’ (Hatch 2018).

flag Rewritten: ‘”It’s a hellscape,” said one of the workers [of Amazon Australia], who spoke directly to Fairfax Media but declined to be identified for fear of losing the worker’s current jobs or damaging future work opportunities….’

30., in explaining details about the RACQ Bank wrote: ‘While RACQ Bank does provide online banking, they have not introduced an app that lets you bank on the go’ ( 2018).

flag Rewritten: ‘While RACQ Bank does provide online banking, it has not introduced an app that lets you bank on the go’.

31. ‘Let’s respect that each has their own understanding and we are not going to change it’.[53]

flag Rewritten: ‘Let’s respect that all have their own understandings and we are not going to change them’.

32. Jason sent this question to leading Christian apologist, William Lane Craig, ‘But why should one assume such a scenario if they affirm a beginning but reject a cause?’ (Craig 2018a)

flagRewritten ‘But why should one assume such a scenario if one affirms a beginning but rejects a cause?

After the high priest dies, that person (singular) can go back to their (plural) own land‘ (Num 35:28b ERV).

flag Rewritten: ‘After the high priest dies, that person (singular) can go back to his (singular) own land’. All Jewish high priests were males, so it is appropriate to write, ‘… his own land’ and not ‘his or her own land’.


flag  After the high priest dies, those people (plural) can go back to their (plural) own land’.

Each (singular) Israelite will keep the land that belonged to their (plural) own ancestors‘ (Num 36:9b ERV).

flag Rewritten:All Israelites (plural) will keep the land that belonged to their (plural) own ancestors


(courtesy Re:word Communications)

E. Subject of sentence is in the nominative case

Grammar Monster[(n.d. s.v. What is the nominative case? (with Examples)] provided the rule:

The nominative case is the case used for a noun or pronoun which is the subject of a verb. For example (nominative case shaded):

· Mark eats cakes.

(The noun Mark is the subject of the verb eats. Mark is in the nominative case.)

· He eats cakes.

(The pronoun He is the subject of the verb eats. He is in the nominative case.)

· They eat cakes.

(The pronoun They is the subject of the verb eats. They is in the nominative case.)

The nominative case is also used for a subject complement. For example:

· Mark is a businessman.

(Here, Mark is in the nominative case because it’s the subject of is, and businessman is in the nominative case because it’s a subject complement; i.e., it renames the subject.)

· It was I.

(Here, It is in the nominative case because it’s the subject of was, and I is in the nominative case because it’s a subject complement; i.e., it renames the subject.)

The nominative case is also known as the subjective case.

1. A Roman catholic priest speaking of boating tragedy and death of two of his parishoners: ‘Mavis was a lovely lady and her and jack were good family friends’ (Clark 2017).

Adobe_InDesign2808 Rewritten: ‘Mavis was a lovely lady and she and Jack were good family friends’.

2. First Home Buyers Australia spokesman Daniel Cohen told The New Daily, ‘I think it shows how him and many of the other ministers in the government are out of touch with the struggles that first home buyers face’ (Gomes 2018).

Rewritten: ‘I think it shows how he and many of the other ministers in the government are out of touch with the struggles that first home buyers face’.

3. The new managing director of the Australian Christian Lobby, Martyn Iles, was interviewed by Eternity, the newspaper of the Bible Society. Iles is recorded as saying, ‘Us kids would do things like sing and entertain the old people there’ (Delbridge 2018).

Adobe_InDesign2808 Rewritten:We[54] kids would do things like sing and entertain the old people there’.

F. Words left out or added

1. I’m guilty of this one. I sent an email to Ben Davis of 4BC on the subject of why newspapers are losing money on 4 May 2017. Part of what I wrote was: ‘I’ve developing a story for my homepage of grammatical errors…’ I should have written either ‘I am developing’ or ‘I’ve been developing’. It was a matter of lack of grammar check for me. I was not careful with my grammar.[55]

AdobeBridge Rewritten: ‘: ‘I’m developing a story for my homepage of grammatical errors’.

2. ‘The National Party is right behind me,” the Mr McCormack told Sky News, adding he would not stand aside for Mr Joyce and urging colleagues to stop focusing[56]on themselves’ (Shields 2018).

AdobeBridge Rewritten: ‘Mr McCormack told Sky News’. There is no need for the definite article, ‘the’, as there is only one Mr McCormack leading the National Party in the federal parliament of Australia.


(courtesy Kids World Fun)

F. Incorrect words or tenses

1. In stating why no other NRL clubs wanted Jarryd Hayne, the journalist wrote: ‘But since returning to the NRL last year, where he gives every indication the game is too small for him, Hayne has brick by brick began to dismantle that reputation (Kent 2017).

‘Began’ is the simple past tense of the verb ‘to begin’. It would be correct to say ‘Hayne … began to dismantle’. However, ‘began’ is not used with auxiliary verbs such as ‘has’ or ‘would have’. ‘Begun’ is a past participle of ‘begin’.

The word ‘begun’ is the past participle of ‘begin’. ‘Begun’ is used in the perfect tense sentences. It is, therefore, incorrect to write ‘I begun’, as ‘begun’ can never be used without an auxiliary verb (‘has’, ‘have’ or ‘had’). Thus, we must say that something ‘has begun’ or ‘had begun’.

The auxiliary verb used with ‘begun’ affects the tense of the sentence. When combined with ‘has’ or ‘have’, it is part of the present perfect tense. Typically, this shows that something started in the past and continues in the present:

I have begun writing my novel (ProofreadMyEssay/Writing Tips n.d. s.v. Word choice: Began vs. Begun).[57]

Alien Aquae mule Rewritten: ‘Hayne has brick by brick begun to dismantle that reputation….’

2. A church explained its ministry: ‘We also have an accredited Bible Training Center[58] that assist different churches in Queensland with students doing their Cert IV in Christian Ministry and ministerial theological studies’ (Lifebuilders’ Wesleyan Church: About Us).[59]

‘Center’ is singular so in the accompanying relative clause, a singular verb is needed with ‘assists’.

Alien Aquae mule Rewritten: ‘We also have an accredited Bible Training Center[60] that assists different churches in Queensland…’

3. I was stunned to find this example in a university’s writing centre that presented the correct grammar for apostrophes:

“The dog at the firm’s paperwork.”

In each case, we add an apostrophe-s to show that something possesses something else. Jim possess the dog, or at least he use to until Jack lost it. And the paperwork belongs to the firm. Simple (Texas A&M 2018).

Alien Aquae mule Rewritten: Was this meant to state: ‘The dog ate the firm’s paperwork’ and ‘at’ was a typographical error. Or, does it refer to, ‘The dog at the firm’s paperwork’s business’?

‘Jim possesses (owns) the dog, or at least he used to until Jack lost it’.

4. In this article about the Broncos win over the Rabbitohs, it was stated: ‘McGuire’s exit preceded Haas’ introduction minutes later as he barrelled his way for 78 metres and made 18 tackles in an powerhouse 21-minute NRL bow’ (Pengilly 2018).

How does one decide to use the indefinite article ‘a’ and not ‘an’? The rule is:

We … use an instead of a when the word following begins with a vowel sound: an egg, an omelet, an institute, an honor. A will always be followed by a word that starts with a consonant sound: a box, a trampoline, a hero, a unique opportunity ( 2018. s.v. A/An vs. The).

Alien Aquae mule Rewritten: ‘…as he barrelled his way for 78 metres and made 18 tackles in a powerhouse 21-minute NRL bow’

5. ‘Wade was brought back into the Australia team in the home 2016 series against South Africa to add some aggression to a team that had lost their five previous Tests…. But after underperforming with the bat, Wade was cut from the Australia team ahead of last summer, axed for his childhood friend and state teammate Tim Paine’ (Cricket Network 2018).

What is wrong with ‘Australia team’? We need to note three definitions:

(1) A noun ‘is a word for a person, place, or thing. (You might like to think of nouns as “naming” words.) Everything we can see or talk about is represented by a word that names it. That “naming” word is called a noun ( So the word ‘team’ in this quotation is a noun.

(2) A proper noun ‘is the given name of a person, place or thing, i.e., its own name (e.g., Michael, New York, Rover). (Note: A proper noun always starts with a capital letter) [ nouns and proper nouns]. So, the word, ‘Australia’, is a proper noun.

What is the function of ‘Australia’ in those sentences? It is a word that describes the ‘team’. It functions as an adjective in the sentences and qualifies the noun, ‘team’.

(3) ‘Adjectives are describing words. Large, grey, and friendly are all examples of adjectives’ (

Since ‘Australia’ functions as a describing word (an adjective) in these sentences, what is the adjective for ‘Australia’? It is Australian (Oxford living dictionaries online 2018. s.v. Australian).

Alien Aquae muleRewritten: ‘Wade was brought back into the Australian team in the home 2016 series against South Africa…. But after underperforming with the bat, Wade was cut from the Australian team ahead of last summer’.

(Image courtesy A Word With Traci)

6. ‘Neither police or the ATSB were expected to be involved in the investigation into what went wrong’ (Crockford 2018).

Grammatical rules for this error are:

Rule 2. Two singular subjects connected by or, either/or, or neither/nor require a singular verb ( 2018. s.v. subject-verb agreement).

We use either… or… to connect items which are the same grammatical type, e.g. words, phrases, clauses….

The opposite of either… or… is neither… nor…. We use it to make negative statements connecting items (Cambridge English Dictionary/Grammar 2018. s.v. Either … or …).clip_image039

Grammar rules forbid the joining of ‘neither’ with ‘or’. It is ‘neither … nor …’

Rewritten:Neither police nor the ATSB was expected to be involved in the investigation into what went wrong’.

7. used an incorrect tense of the verb in its sub-heading to this article, ‘THE first four of the schoolboys trapped in the Thai cave have beat the odds to make it through an unfathomably risky journey(Reynolds 2018).

What is correct or wrong with the tense of the verb, ‘Have beat’? This is USA vs British grammar.

The grammatical rule is:

The past tense of beat is beat. The past participle, which changes the verb to an adverb, is beaten. The adjective form is also beaten.

Sometimes it is heard in the construction got beat. This is incorrect grammatically, but is firmly established in slang, especially in North America (Grammarist 2009-2014. s.v. Beat or beaten).

Alien Aquae mule Rewritten: ‘first four of the schoolboys trapped in the Thai cave have beaten the odds….’

8. Barna Research conducted a survey in the USA of the state of the Bible. One of the main conclusions was, ‘Six in 10 Americans Believe the Bible Has Transformed Their Life’ (Barna Group Inc. 2018).

Alien Aquae mule Rewritten:, ‘Six in 10 Americans Believe the Bible Have Transformed Their Lives.

9. (2018), in its article on the RACQ Bank, had a heading, ‘Who is RACQ Bank?’ Is this correct phrasing of the question, using the relative pronoun, ‘who’?

The grammatical rules are:

The interrogative pronouns who, whom, and whose are used only for reference to people. The interrogative pronouns which and what are used for reference to things (Collins English Dictionary/Grammar 2018. s.v. Interrogative pronouns).

Alien Aquae mule Rewritten: What is RACQ Bank?’

10. Veteran ABC presenter, Phillip Adams, said of ABC CEO, Michelle Guthrie, after her dismissal: ‘The only time we ever saw her is if there was a command performance’ (Duke et al 2018).

Consistency of tenses throughout this sentence requires the use of the past tense, ‘was’ to replace ‘is’.

Alien Aquae mule Rewritten: ‘The only time we ever saw her was if there was a command performance’

11. ‘New South Wales will now the only Australian jurisdiction where abortion remains a criminal offence’ (Caldwell 2018a).

Alien Aquae mule Rewritten: ‘New South Wales will now be the only Australian jurisdiction….’

12. I received this email on 28 November 2018 with the heading, ‘Who is Alinta Energy?’ The same question is asked on the Mozo website.

Alinta Energy is ‘a provider of multiple energy related products’ in Australia.[61] It is a power generation and distribution business.

Alien Aquae mule Rewritten: ‘What is Alinta Energy?’

13. A short article on ‘Forgive us our debts’ by R. Albert Mohler Jr. included this statement: ‘If this does not shock us, then we have grown fare too familiar with the gospel and the glory of God’s grace’.

Alien Aquae mule Rewritten: ‘If this does not shock us, then we have grown far too familiar with the gospel and the glory of God’s grace’.


(courtesy Communities Digital News)

G. Incorrect use of the apostrophe

The rule is:

‘Do not use an apostrophe + s to make a regular noun plural’ (Grammar Monster 2018).[62] Another explanation of this grammatical rule was:

Rule 1b. Many common nouns end in the letter s (lens, cactus, bus, etc.). So do a lot of proper nouns (Mr. Jones, Texas, Christmas). There are conflicting policies and theories about how to show possession when writing such nouns. There is no right answer; the best advice is to choose a formula and stay consistent ( 2018. s.v. apostrophes).

clip_image042(image courtesy Grammar Monster)

1. On the site of a building and pest control business, it stated: ‘You must verify that the quality of the structure is top notch and ensure your getting the best value for your money’.[63]

Here ‘your’ means ‘you are’ and the abbreviation is ‘you’re’.

heart Rewritten: ‘and ensure you’re getting the best value for your money’.

2. In a friendly international football (soccer) match between England and The Netherlands in Amsterdam, the heading of the article was: ‘England fans behaviour ‘appalling’: police chief’ (Reuters 2018).

heart Rewritten: ‘England fans’ behaviour “appalling”: police chief’

3. ‘Now if something is seen as harmful, then it won’t be long before there are calls for it’s regulation – whether it’s drugs, or speech’ (Balogh 2018a).

“It’s” means ‘it is’. Here the possessive pronoun should be used, ‘its regulation’ and ‘they are drugs or speech’. Drugs is a plural noun, so requires a plural verb ‘to be’, i.e. ‘are’.

heart Rewritten: long before there are calls for its regulation – whether they are drugs, or speech’.

4. In a report on changes to the ABC radio presenters, it was stated: ‘A woman will earn a hosting guernsey on breakfast for the first time in years as weekends presenter Rebecca Levingston joins Craig Zonca at the start of the day’ (Branco 2017).

heart Rewritten: ‘… breakfast for the first time in years as weekends’ presenter Rebecca Levingston joins Craig Zonca’.

5. ‘This is the third incident this month for Australia’s biggest telecommunications company….’ (Duke 2018).

heart Rewritten: month for Australia’s biggest telecommunications’ company.

6. ‘To read the article in it’s original context please go to the website of The Gospel Coalition Australia’ (Millar 2018:6).[64] Following this rule for the apostrophe for plural nouns, it should read, “telecommunications’ company’

heart Rewritten: ‘To read the article in its original context please go to the website …’

7. ‘Whether you are planning for a loved ones funeral, or future proofing your funeral plans, let us take care of it for you’ (Academy Funerals n.d.).

Rule 1a. Use the apostrophe to show possession. To show possession with a singular noun, add an apostrophe plus the letter s’ ( 2018. s.v. apostrophes).

heart Rewritten: ‘Whether you are planning for a loved one’s funeral, or …’

8. ‘The collapse of one of this Queensland city’s biggest businesses has put hundreds of jobs in jeopardy, and its a situation that even has MPs from both sides of politics in agreement’.[65]

heart Rewritten: ‘…and it’s a situation that even has MPs from both sides of politics in agreement’

9. The Australia Christian Lobby wrote: ‘The changes pushed by Labor and the Greens [in Tasmania’s lower house of parliament] mean that gender will become opt-in for all Tasmanian’s – a move which 95% of 44,000 respondents to a news poll did not agree with’ (Iles 2018).

In this context “Tasmanian’s” is supposed to be the plural noun for more than one Tasmanian, so the correct spelling is the plural, ‘Tasmanians’.

heart Rewritten: ‘ … gender will become opt-in for all Tasmanians …’


(imagecourtesy YouTube)

H. Word order

Frankfurt International School explains the importance of word order in English:

Most English sentences (clauses) conform to the SVO word order. This means that the Subject comes before the Verb, which comes before the Object. Examples: Frankfurt International School

· I (S) bought (V) a new computer (O).

· She (S) doesn’t like (V) dogs (O).

· Why did you (S) do (V) that (O)? [Frankfurt International School n.d.]

This is an example of how the word order in these two Bible versions is contrary to that recommended for English.

1. The New King James Version of the Bible (NKJV) provides this translation of Acts 5:30-31:

30 The God of our fathers raised up Jesus whom you murdered by hanging on a tree. 31 Him God has exalted to His right hand to be Prince and Savior, to give repentance to Israel and forgiveness of sins.

The King James Version (KJV) follows the same word order for Acts 5:31, ‘Him hath God exalted with his right hand to be a Prince and a Saviour’. Even my MS Word auto spellchecker has underlined ‘Him’ to indicate something is incorrect with the spelling or grammar of ‘him’ at the beginning of the sentence. What is the problem?

The English Standard Version translates these two verses as:

30 The God of our fathers raised Jesus, whom you killed by hanging him on a tree. 31 God exalted him at his right hand as Leader and Saviour, to give repentance to Israel and forgiveness of sins.

A literal translation from the NT Greek of verse 31 is: ‘This (man) God a ruler and a saviour, exalted to the right (hand) of him….’

The Greek translated ‘him’ (NKJV) and ‘him’ in the ESV of verse 31 is touton. Grammatically, it is masculine gender, singular number, and accusative case. Accusative is parallel with the English objective case, so this word is not the subject of the sentence, but functions as the object of the sentence.

The NKJV uses correct grammar in translating touton as ‘him’ but places it at the beginning of the sentence because the Greek places it there to give emphasis to ‘him’, i.e. to Jesus as Ruler and Saviour. However, the English word order is more appropriate with the ESV, ‘God exalted him’ and the NLT, ‘Then God put him in the place of honor at his right hand as Prince and Savior. He did this so the people of Israel would repent of their sins and be forgiven’.

4 Color Ball with Check Mark Rewritten NKJV: Acts 5:31 should read, ‘God has exalted Him to His right hand to be Prince and Savior’.

The image shows a head with question marks surrounding it.

(courtesy Neuroscience News)

I. Conclusion

Are you persuaded the English language is demonstrating a downgrade in the importance of grammar?

It is a sad state of affairs when Australia’s national broadcaster, the ABC, did not use an apostrophe with the adjective in this phrase, ‘weekends presenter’. Professor of Divinity, Dr N T Wright, wrote, ‘‘Religious pluralism and syncretism was the order of the day right across the ancient world’.

He’s an outstanding NT scholar but I found this grammatical anomaly somewhat paradoxical. This statement on his homepage is based on a lecture he gave at Auburn Avenue Presbyterian Church (Monroe, Louisiana).

Everyday Christian forum posters present writings that often contain grammatical errors. They don’t seem to take grammatical rules, including punctuation and forming paragraphs, seriously. This was one example from above: What’s your thoughts about the ‘Reason for God’ by Timothy Keller?

This has been an ad hoc gathering of examples collected from my everyday reading, demonstrating the demise of English grammar, identified in writings from around the world at various levels of learning.

Personally, I cringe when I hear these grammatical errors committed verbally and in writing by people from a wide range of backgrounds.

However, I am a voluntary member of the language police force. Grammar was important for me in Grade 1 at primary school. It is critical for me now that I have a university earned PhD in New Testament (University of Pretoria, South Africa).


J. Works consulted

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(courtesy Just Publishing Advice)

K.  Notes

[1] ‘Language police’ is a term designed to get rid of the pejorative connotations of ‘grammar Nazi’. This person is a stickler for grammatical correctness in books, articles, blogs, online posts, email, texts, etc. See the article at Sentence First (online), ‘Language police: check your privilege and priorities’. Available at: (Accessed 18 March 2018).

[2] Available at: (Accessed 28 April 2018).

[3] Available at: (Accessed 26 November 2018).

[4] Available at: (Accessed 28 April 2018).

[5] Throughout this article, I will use the abbreviation s.v. when referring to dictionary terms, encyclopaedia articles and explanations from grammar books. S.v. means:’(in textual references) under the given word or heading. ”the dictionary lists ‘rural policeman’ s.v. ‘rural’”. The origin of the abbreviation is: “From Latin sub voce or sub verbo, literally ‘under the word or voice’” (Oxford Dictionaries online 2018. Definitions, s.v.).

[6] Available at: (Accessed 27 November 2018).

[7] Ibid.

[8] Grammar Monster n.d. What are Prepositions? (online). Available at: (Accessed 27 November 2018).

[9] Available at: (Accessed 27 November 2018).

[10] Ibid.

[11] All of the above definitions of various objects and examples given are from Grammar 2018. What is an object? (with examples), online. Available at: (Accessed 27 November 2018).

[12] ‘’Subjective pronouns’ function as a subject of a sentence. Objective pronouns’ are pronouns functioning as objects of verbs or prepositions. This table is from Grammar Monster [2018. s.v. What is a preposition? (with examples)].

[13] Brisbane Times 2017. Steve Price, John Laws and the day their feud turned ugly (online), 3 February. Available at: (Accessed 3 February 2017).

[14] Oxford dictionaries 2018. Can you end a sentence with a preposition? (online). Available at: (Accessed 27 November 2018).

[15] Available at: (Accessed 27 November 2018).

[16] Christian 2018. Millennials desire socialism instead of capitalism (online), Drew#182, 25 March. Available at: (Accessed 25 March 2018).

[17] Australian Government, Department of Human Services, Centrelink. The form is available at: (Accessed 16 January 2017).

[18] Christian 2017. Questions for Christians (Q&A). Couple of Questions. Wrg1405#12, Available at: (Accessed 21 January 2017).

[19] Available at: Registration and Ordination Guidelines, Adopted by the Board of Queensland Baptists, 25 June 2009, section 5.4, Assembly 22.05.2009. (Accessed 18 June 2018).

[20] Christian 2017. Bible translations (online), DeaconDean#162, 25 March. This person is a seminary student. Available at: (Accessed 25 April 2017).

[21] Available at: (Accessed 27 November wo18).

[22] This is the USA spelling. The Australian/British spelling is programmes.

[23] ‘A degloving injury is a type of avulsion in which an extensive section of skin is completely torn off the underlying tissue, severing its blood supply. It is named by analogy to the process of removing a glove. Typically, degloving injuries affect the extremities and limbs’ (Wikipedia 2017. s v degloving). ‘Avulsion in general refers to a tearing away’ (Wikipedia 2016. s v avulsion).

[24] A ‘goon’ is ‘a silly, foolish, or eccentric person….’ (Oxford Dictionaries Online 2018. s.v. goon).

[25] Available at: (Accessed 16 October 2017).

[26] Available at: (Accessed 4 January 2018).

[27] Emailer sent, titled, ‘What a week! School started back, the PM came to answer your questions and the nbn are here to help’. Sent from email:, 3.17pm, 26 January 2018.

[28] Christian 2018. Mary’s Choice (online). Reba #5. Available at: (Accessed 17 February 2018).

[29] Available at: (Accessed 11 March 2018).

[30] Available at: (Accessed 29 November 2018).

[31] Sent from (Accessed 3 April 2018).

[32] Available at: (Accessed 12 April 2018). I advised the editor of this grammatical error, so by the time this article is published, a correction of the grammar may have taken place.

[33] Available at: (Accessed 12 April 2018).

[34] Christian 2017. The question thread (online), Papa Zoom#3, 5 November. Available at: (Accessed 25 April 2018).

[35] Christian 2018. How can the Trinity be one God? (online), StoveBolts #25, 23 May.. Available at:. (Accessed 24 May 2018).

[36] Queensland Government 1995-2005. Care at Home (online). Available at: (Accessed 30 June 2018).

[37] Pauline Hanson’s One Nation 2018. Available at: (Accessed 10 July 2018).

[38] Christian 2018. Do Modern Christians undervalue Christian History? (online), The Times#97, 4 September. Available at: (Accessed 4 September 2018).

[39] Queensland Parliament 2018. Proposed 3-year trial of conservation hunting in Queensland State Forests (e-petition online). Available at: (Accessed 7 September 2018).

[40] Queensland Parliament 2018. Retain the current law in relation to compulsory wearing of bicycle helmets (e-petition online), posting date 5/11/2018. Available at: (Accessed 11 November 2018).

[41] espncricinfo 2018. India tour of Australia at Sydney, 25 November. Available at: (Accessed 26 November 2018.

[42] Available at: (Accessed 27 November 2018).

[43] The article from which this quote is gleaned, in my understanding, has provided a brilliant expose of how the University of Iowa has demonstrated discrimination against a Christian group.

[44] This is the spelling for an Australian readership.

[45] Available at: (Accessed 14 March 2018).

[46] Available at: (Accessed 27 November 2018).

[47] ‘Dynamic and formal equivalence are two methods or styles used to convert source text (e.g. Hebrew or Greek) into another language (e.g. English). The Dynamic (also known as functional) method attempts to convey the THOUGHT expressed in the source text using equivalent expressions from a contemporary language like English (‘thought for thought’ translating). The formal equivalence method (also known as a literal translation) attempts to translate the source text WORD for WORD into another language’ ( n.d. s.v. Dynamic and Formal Equivalence Definitions).

[48] Christian 2018. Is limiting free speech becoming acceptable? (online), 19 April, JohnDB#16. Available at: (Accessed 19 April 2018).

[49] Parliament of Australia 2018. E-petition number EN0522 (online). Available at: (Accessed 21 April 2018).

[50] The Wesleyan Methodist Church 2018. Who we are (online)l. Available at: (Accessed 18 June 2018).

[51] Yuyutsu 2018. What is your view for one to worship humans? Online Opinion. 6 July., p. 22. Available at: (Accessed 6 July 2018).

[52] Available at: (Accessed 7 August 2018).

[53] Christian 2018. Are all people infected by sin? (online), WIP#178. Available at: (Accessed 24 October 2018).

[54] ‘We’, being the subject of the sentence and in the nominative case, replaces ‘us’, which is objective case.

[55] I received this message back as a feedback email on 4 May 2017: ‘We have received your feedback email – (3696918734016757457)’, I used the feedback icon to respond to Ben Davis at: (Accessed 4 May 2017).

[56] In British [and Australian] English, focussing is the present participle of the verb, focus (Cambridge English Dictionary 2018. s.v. focussing).

[57] Available at: (Accessed 28 November 2018).

[58] The Australian spelling is ‘centre’ and not ‘center’.

[59] Available at: (Accessed 5 March 2018).

[60] The Australian spelling is ‘centre’ and not ‘center’.

[61] Mozo 2008-2018. Alinta Energy Electricity (online). Available at: (Accessed 28 November 2018).

[62] Available at: (Accessed 27 November wo18).

[63] Caboolture Building & Pest Inspections 2017. Available at: (Accessed 6 September 2017).

[64] The incorrect grammar is not in the online edition but only in the acknowledgement of the source of the article at the beginning of the print version.

[65] This is a front page story with a sub-heading in The Courier-Mail 2018. Builder collapse gravely concerning’ for region (online), 18 October. Available at: (Accessed 18 October 2018). I was unable to access the exact URL because it is for account-only subscribers.

Copyright © 2018 Spencer D. Gear. This document last updated at Date: 1 December 2018.


Can human beings know good from bad?


By Spencer D Gear PhD

Is it possible for human beings to discern good versus evil moral actions? What is the standard by which a person or nation decides if behaviour is pleasing or evil?

The Christian is clear as to what is evil because Scripture declares it:

‘If there is no resurrection, “Let’s feast and drink, for tomorrow we die!” Don’t be fooled by those who say such things, for “bad company corrupts good character”’ (I Cor 15:32-33 NLT).

They know the deeper problem: ‘

“The heart is more deceitful than all else
And is desperately sick;
Who can understand it?

“I, the LORD, search the heart,
I test the mind,
Even to give to each man according to his ways,
According to the results of his deeds (Jer 17:9-10 NLT).

As for the godless, secularist, I’d like you to meet Allan. This is my online interchange with him. He pursued a few different topics.

Allan: He agreed with Dan: ‘We [human beings] are indeed fallen angels’.[1]

Spencer: Instead of believing Dan, why don’t you obtain your understanding from Scripture? We are human beings, created in the image of God. Adam corrupted that and we would have done the same (Gen 1-3; Rom 5).[2]

See: What does it mean that humanity is made in the image of God (imago dei)? [Got Questions Ministries]

Allan: ‘Personally, I believe it [heaven] is some sort of reunification with a larger whole that is one unified field of energy, but still many individual conscious self-aware personalities. Experiencing unbelievable all consuming euphoria and overwhelming pure love’.

Spencer: When you invent ‘I believe’ personally, you are off into presupposition land.

Allan: ‘Heaven, therefore, is probably not a place, but rather a state of being?’


clip_image004(image courtesy

Even though your statement ends with a question mark, there is no need to hypothesise like this. Jesus was clear: ‘My Father’s house has many rooms; if that were not so, would I have told you that I am going there to prepare a place for you?’ (John 14:2 NIV). Heaven is definitely a place, so says the Messiah.

Allan: ‘But instead, quote chapter and verse to justify any position however awful, inherently evil, depraved indefensible or untenable?’

Spencer: I agree Allan that some horrible things have been done with a label of Christianity or Christ. I do not endorse any of these. I’m thinking of the slaughter during the Crusades, and sexual abuse in churches and church institutions.

The apostle Paul could call himself ‘the worst of sinners’. In spite of the sinful actions of many within the church, this I know; ‘”Christ Jesus came into the world to save sinners”—and I (the apostle Paul) am the worst of them all’ (1 Tim 1:15). I apply Paul’s description to me, the chief of sinners, but God’s grace reaches beyond our sin through repentance, forgiveness and faith.

Allan: ‘Even as Herr Goebbels and co turned up at their church each Sunday morning and sang Christian hymns and recited Christian prayers from a Christian prayer book.
‘Without question, they were hypocrites pure and simple as are those who protect, forgive and succour paedophilia and paedophiles’.

(photo Joseph Goebbels, Chancellor of Germany, propaganda minister, World War 2, courtesy Wikipedia)

Spencer: We can point fingers at Hitler, Goebbels, church child abuse, etc (and we should), but when God examines me, His conclusion is, ‘The human heart is the most deceitful of all things, and desperately wicked. Who really knows how bad it is? But I, the Lord, search all hearts and examine secret motives. I give all people their due rewards, according to what their actions deserve’ (Jeremiah 17:9-10).
We are all not fallen angels but wicked human beings, from the inside out. That’s God’s assessment, not my invention.

Allan: ‘I think we know good from evil if never ever having read a bible or holy scripture’.

Spencer: Without God’s moral absolutes in Scripture (e.g. 10 commandments, the Sermon on the Mount – Matt 5-7), each person does what he/she believes is right. Lenin chose the Gulag, Hitler’s Holocaust wiped out about 6 million Jews – 1 million being children – some men rape women and children, others commit terrorist acts, while some in the banking industry cheat customers.

Allan: ‘Good as we know and understand it has its foundations on love’.

Spencer: Yep, sexual love of children, erotic love of porn and prostitution, promiscuous love of many leading to HIV (AIDS), syphilis, gonorrhoea and other STDs. ‘Love’, however it has been defined, has led to much damage and illness children and adults.

Allan: ‘The Christian Bible and the lessons as espoused by the Rabbi Jesus, was very-very different from the one reinvented, revised and massively edited by the cronies of Constantine … at the first synod, around 350 AD?’

Spencer: Are you an historical theologian and professor of Bibliology (the doctrine of the written Word) who knows the development of the Bible to write that kind of postmodern deconstruction?

Allan: ‘And relied on mainly four, non-eyewitness, plagiarised and systematically embellished gospels, for its Alleged authority?’

Spencer: Are you talking about the 4 Gospels? Luke’s Gospel differs from your deconstruction where he obtained his information from those who handed down eye-witness accounts (Luke 1:1-4).

You don’t like the idea of the sacramental confessional. Neither do I. However, Jesus’ exhorted us to seek Him for forgiveness: ‘Forgive us our sins, as we have forgiven those who sin against us’ (Matt 6:11). This is not an appeal to father confessor but to Jesus himself.

Allan: ‘Then do something real inside your political organisations to clean out the evil at its very heart. The time for covering it up/excusing/justifying it? Is well and truly over!’

Spencer: Do you really mean that? It was you who stated: ‘Evil produced at all levels by similar if converse levels of hate?’

What is your cure for getting rid of the evil in the human person, political establishment and terrorists?


[1] The following quotes by Allan B are from his comments to the article by Peter Sellick, ‘The knowledge of good and evil’, On Line Opinion (online), 13 November 2018. Posted by Alan B., Tuesday, 13 November 2018 10:42:41 AM. Available at: (Accessed 14 November 2018).

[2] The following is from ibid., Posted by OzSpen, Wednesday, 14 November 2018 2:12:51 PM.




Copyright © 2018 Spencer D. Gear. This document last updated at Date: 14 November 2018.