Why would people need God? Part 2

By Spencer D Gear PhD

1.  Why would anyone need this?

clip_image006 clip_image008

(Image courtesy Wikipedia)[1];                           (Image courtesy Wikipedia)[2]

This is the most venomous snake in the world. Why would anyone need the inland (or western) taipan snake? It’s located in outback Australia. See the red distribution on this Australian map:

“While the inland taipan is regarded as the world’s most venomous snake based on LD50 tests on mice, it is a shy species and rarely strikes, and has not caused any known human fatalities. On the other hand, India’s Big Four (Indian cobra, common krait, Russell’s viper, and saw-scaled viper), while less venomous than the inland taipan, are found in closer proximity to human settlements and are more confrontational, thus leading to more deaths from snakebite”.[3]

Aboriginal Australians named this snake, Dandarabilla. ‘One bite’s worth of venom is enough to kill 100 fully grown men’. What does it eat? In the wild, it eats mammals (females who feed young on milk produced by mammary glands), rats, and house mice. When in captivity, they eat day-old chickens. You can find them in various zoos around Australia.[4]

But, why would anyone NEED inland, western taipans?

Unlike most snakes, the inland taipan is a specialist mammal hunter so its venom is specially adapted to kill warm-blooded species’.[5] Mammals have fur and mammary glands for them to produce milk that is necessary for their newborn babies. Examples of mammals include: rats, bats, human beings, monkeys, whales, dolphins,[6] cats, dogs & seals. In 2005 there were ‘5,416 different species of mammals. However, the exact number of recognized mammal species fluctuates as new species are described.[7]

This taipan also kills rats and mice in the wild in the outback.

But can you see any useful need for this inland western taipan? In the outback where crops are grown, wouldn’t it be good for the farmers to have the rats and mice killed who destroy their crops?

2. There is something other than physical organs we have inside us.

What do we call it or them?

5tn_.jpg 1.1K  Jesus said: ‘And what do you benefit if you gain the whole world but lose your own soul?’ (Mark 8:36);

5tn_.jpg 1.1K When Jesus died, what did he say to God the Father? ‘Then Jesus shouted, “Father, I entrust my spirit into your hands!” And with those words he breathed his last’ (Matt 23:46).

So there is an unseen internal part of every human being that is called the soul or spirit. I will concentrate on another invisible part that all of us have. This is how Scripture describes it:

Everyone has a conscience. This makes us alert to what is right and wrong.

The Bible also says that God has revealed Himself people through their consciences. The Apostle Paul wrote:

Those who are not Jews don’t have the law. But when they naturally do what the law commands without even knowing the law, then they are their own law. This is true even though they don’t have the written law.

They show that in their hearts they know what is right and wrong, the same as the law commands, and their consciences agree. Sometimes their thoughts tell them that they have done wrong, and this makes them guilty. And sometimes their thoughts tell them that they have done right, and this makes them not guilty (Rom 2:14-15 ERV).

Did you get the meaning about the non-Jews, also called Gentiles, when it comes to deciding right from wrong? ‘They show that in their hearts they know what is right and wrong, the same as the law commands, and their consciences agree. Sometimes their thoughts tell them that they have done wrong, and this makes them guilty’.

All have consciences. For people who don’t have access to a Bible, whether that is a tribe in Africa, Papua New Guinea, Asia, or South America, thye have consciences. According to Wycliffe Bible Translators:

clip_image012*October 2018 Statistics[8]

to tell them what God says is right and wrong, what do all people have to give them these ethical guidelines?

Our consciences.

According to Wycliffe Bible Translators:

There are an estimated 250 million people without access to any Scripture in the language that speaks to them best and may need some form of Bible translation to begin. At least 1.5 billion people are without the full Bible in their first language….

There is known active translation and/or linguistic development happening in 2,659 languages worldwide.[9]

Now we have 3 pieces of evidence for God’s existence:

clip_image014 Unseen gravity.

clip_image016 Invisible nitrogen and oxygen we breathe.

clip_image018 The conscience.

All of these are invisible things but we know they exist because of what they do. We can know they exist by the way they perform.

Are they good enough reasons for believing in God? If not, why not?

3. A time when everything on earth will be burned up

The Bible teaches that everything in the universe will end – including gravity – and it will happen this way:

But the day when the Lord comes again will surprise everyone like the coming of a thief. The sky will disappear with a loud noise. Everything in the sky will be destroyed with fire. And the earth and everything in it will be burned up. Everything will be destroyed in this way. So what kind of people should you be? Your lives should be holy and devoted to God. You should be looking forward to the day of God, wanting more than anything else for it to come soon. When it comes, the sky will be destroyed with fire, and everything in the sky will melt with heat. But God made a promise to us. And we are waiting for what he promised—a new sky and a new earth. That will be the place where goodness lives.

Dear friends, we are waiting for this to happen. So try as hard as you can to be without sin and without fault. Try to be at peace with God (2 Peter 3:10-14 ERV).

Is this meant to be taken literally – the earth and the heavens being burned up or destroyed? They certainly are. We know this from the verses that come before these:

It is important for you to understand what will happen in the last days. People will laugh at you. They will live following the evil they want to do. 4 They will say, “Jesus promised to come again. Where is he? Our fathers have died, but the world continues the way it has been since it was made.”

5 But these people don’t want to remember what happened long ago. The skies were there, and God made the earth from water and with water. All this happened by God’s word. 6 Then the world was flooded and destroyed with water. 7 And that same word of God is keeping the skies and the earth that we have now. They are being kept to be destroyed by fire. They are kept for the day of judgment and the destruction of all people who are against God (2 Peter 3:3-7 ERV).

This will happen in the last days before Jesus returns:

Single-dotted Wave 25-06-09 Gregson Lane Graham Dixon People will laugh and scoff at Christians. Is that happening today? Who’s a scoffer? The scoffer will laugh at or say things to show that the other person or thing ‘is stupid or deserves no respect’.[10] They will poke fun at or ridicule Christians.

Single-dotted Wave 25-06-09 Gregson Lane Graham Dixon They will make fun of the fact that Jesus has not returned (and it’s 2,000 years since his crucifixion);

Single-dotted Wave 25-06-09 Gregson Lane Graham Dixon The folks in the last days don’t want to acknowledge the truth that God made the skies and the earth.

Single-dotted Wave 25-06-09 Gregson Lane Graham Dixon Creation happened by God’s word – He spoke it into existence.

 

Single-dotted Wave 25-06-09 Gregson Lane Graham Dixon That same word keeps the skies and the earth going as they are today.

 

Single-dotted Wave 25-06-09 Gregson Lane Graham Dixon Then the world was flooded and destroyed with water (speaking of God’s flood in Noah’s day).

 

Single-dotted Wave 25-06-09 Gregson Lane Graham Dixon That same word by God is keeping the skies and earth going now.

 

Single-dotted Wave 25-06-09 Gregson Lane Graham Dixon They will be kept going until God destroys them by fire;

 

Single-dotted Wave 25-06-09 Gregson Lane Graham Dixon Then will come God’s judgment day for all people who are against God.

 

Could it be clearer?

clip_image019 The universe will be burned up.
clip_image019[1] This lead’s to God’s judgment of ALL people who do not know and love God. These are those opposed to God.

Since the entire universe will be destroyed, does that mean it is all over red rover for planet earth and the galaxies?

Not at all. But Christians will never ever have to be exposed to the Christchurch massacre, slaughter of Christians in Sri Lanka, Nigeria, Sudan, Middle East and elsewhere.

It will be a world of total love, joy, peace and God’s justice. Rape, sexual abuse, terrorist bombers, and DV are gone forever, as are lies, adulteries and stealing.

If you think this will be paradise on earth, it will be for the people of God.

The next verse in 2 Peter 3 gives the answer: ‘But we are looking forward to a new heaven and a new earth. Godliness will live there. All this is in keeping with God’s promise’ (2 Pet 3:13 NIRV).

clip_image019[2] New heaven & new earth

clip_image019[3] Where godliness dwells

This promise is guaranteed by God’s truthfulness and all that He is in qualities of character.

4. All people need God to create them and to keep them living on earth.

The Apostle Paul and his friends, Silas and Timothy, were in Athens, Greece. Paul told his Good News message in the public square and some philosophers went to argue with him.

They took Paul to a meeting of the Areopagus Council in Athens. It was a legal council that met on a hill in Athens. ‘It was the central governing body of Athens’ but then became a legal court for ‘homicide and other serious crimes’.[11]

The philosophers accused him …

18 Some of the Epicurean and some of the Stoic philosophers argued with him.

Some of them said, “This man doesn’t really know what he is talking about. What is he trying to say?” Paul was telling them the Good News about Jesus and the resurrection. So they said, “He seems to be telling us about some other gods.”

19 They took Paul to a meeting of the Areopagus council. They said, “Please explain to us this new idea that you have been teaching. 20 The things you are saying are new to us. We have never heard this teaching before, and we want to know what it means (Acts 17:18-20 ERV).

What was this strange teaching by Paul? This is what he told the Council:

24 “He is the God who made the whole world and everything in it. He is the Lord of the land and the sky. He does not live in temples built by human hands. 25 He is the one who gives people life, breath, and everything else they need. He does not need any help from them. He has everything he needs. 26 God began by making one man, and from him he made all the different people who live everywhere in the world. He decided exactly when and where they would live.

27 “God wanted people to look for him, and perhaps in searching all around for him, they would find him. But he is not far from any of us. 28 It is through him that we are able to live, to do what we do, and to be who we are. As your own poets have said, ‘We all come from him’ (Acts 17:24-28 ERV).

What is your tongue used for?

1.  It helps you speak better.
2. It helps you taste better.
3. It helps you to eat and drink.
4.  Girls have more taste buds than boys.
5.  It helps you to say nice or nasty things. Which is the better one?

6. “God himself gives to all mortals life and breath and all things … in him we live and move and have our being” (Acts 17:24-25, 28).

These Bible verses tell us:

5. Who created human beings

Psalm 139:13-16 (NIRV)

13 You created the deepest parts of my being.
You put me together inside my mother’s body.
14 How you made me is amazing and wonderful.
I praise you for that.
What you have done is wonderful.
I know that very well.
15 None of my bones was hidden from you
when you made me inside my mother’s body.
That place was as dark as the deepest parts of the earth.
When you were putting me together there,
16 your eyes saw my body even before it was formed.
You planned how many days I would live.
You wrote down the number of them in your book
before I had lived through even one of them.

That’s why we need God. We wouldn’t be here without his making us inside our mother’s body and keeping us in this world.

6. What makes aeroplanes fly?

Have you seen a very big aeroplane such as the Airbus A380? At the time this curriculum was written, it was the largest passenger plane in the world. It can take 853 passengers but generally takes 525 passengers.

clip_image021 clip_image023
An A380-800 of Emirates, the largest operator of the aircraft (courtesy Wikipedia).[12] Photo: Four forces act on a plane in flight. When the plane flies horizontally at a steady speed, lift from the wings exactly balances the plane’s weight and the thrust exactly balances the drag. However, during takeoff, or when the plane is attempting to climb in the sky (as shown here), the thrust from the engines pushing the plane forward exceeds the drag (air resistance) pulling it back. This creates a lift force, greater than the plane’s weight, which powers the plane higher into the sky. Photo by Nathanael Callon courtesy of US Air Force[13]

What causes the Airbus to fly in the air? It has BIG engines. We can explain how the engines work by science (as in the diagram above), BUT …

coil-gold People have to build the Airbus;

 

coil-goldSomebody has to put fuel into it and start it;

 

coil-gold There have to be pilots trained to fly it and hostesses on board to help people who travel in it;

coil-gold The Airbus could not have been made without using science of engines and aeronautics alone,

coil-gold But to make the engines and planes, it takes people.

Who made people?There would be no Airbus made without people. Jesus said, ‘But “God made them male and female” from the beginning of creation’ (Mark 10:6 NLT).

7. Conclusion: Why would people need God?

The Christian answer is:

  • God made everything, including gravity and our breathing system;
  • God keeps us and the world going. We need him to continue living.
  • Even large planes cannot fly without human beings whom God has made.
  • We need God for so much more:

clip_image014[1]He gives sunlight and sends rain on the just and unjust – Matt 5:45

clip_image016[1]He changes the way we treat other people:

      (a) Love your enemies: Matt 5:43-45a (ERV),

You have heard that it was said, ‘Love your neighbor[14] and hate your enemy.’ But I tell you, love your enemies. Pray for those who treat you badly. If you do this, you will be children who are truly like your Father in heaven…

What would life be like in this country if we lived like this? That is Plain Sailing Christianity.

(b) Golden rule: ‘Do for others what you would want them to do for you. This is the meaning of the Law of Moses and the teaching of the prophets’ (Matt 7:12 ERV).

(c) Fruit of the Spirit: ‘But the fruit that the Spirit produces in a person’s life is love, joy, peace, patience, kindness, goodness, faithfulness, 23 gentleness, and self-control. There is no law against these kinds of things’ (Galatians 5:24-25 ERV).

These are the fruit that grow in Christians lives. They are qualities of character.

clip_image025(image courtesy Wikipedia)[15]

 

This song by the Beatles, ‘All You Need Is Love’, was released in the UK on 7 July 1967. It became a hit single record, topping the record sales charts in the UK and the USA. It was the featured British song ‘performed by the band during the first live global television show “Our World”. Over 400 million people from 25 countries watched its broadcast on the 25th of June 1967’.[16]

The song ends with, ‘She loves you, yeah yeah yeah (Love is all you need)’.[17]

Is that what Christianity means when it says Christians need to grow the fruit of ‘love’? Not yeah, yeah, yeah but nah, nah, nah.

This agape love is not based on how you treat me. It is unconditional – no strings attached – and it is based on the love that God is when the Bible says, ‘God is love’:

Dear friends, we should love each other, because love comes from God. Everyone who loves has become God’s child. And so everyone who loves knows God. Anyone who does not love does not know God, because God is love (1 John 4:7-8 ERV).

He doesn’t love us because we deserve it. Any human being can do that. God loves those who are sinners, those who have no time for or interest in Him.

That’s the kind of love he wants Christians to have towards one another, towards their enemies and those who do bad things to them. Imagine living in that kind of world where people did good to each other, in politics, your neighbourhood, and in school and university where there is no more bullying, and in families where domestic violence ceases and love controls what happens in families.

Is that fairyland? It’s not when a person pursues God and he changes the person from the inside out.

7.1 Loved to death: He is no fool

You may never have heard of Jim Elliot. Tim Chester tells his story about a man with God’s kind of love:

PPT - Philip James Elliot ( October 8 , 1927 – January 8 , 1956 )  PowerPoint Presentation - ID:5250056
Born: October 8, 1927, Portland, Oregon

Died: January 8, 1956 (aged 28), Curaray River, Ecuador

On Tuesday, January 3, 1956, Jim Elliot and four other missionaries landed on a small strip of land in the jungles of Ecuador.[19] It was a dangerous landing, and they could not all land at once. For years they had been dreaming of and planning for this moment. Their hearts were set on reaching the Auca (pron. au-ka)[20] Indians with the good news of Jesus.

The Aucas were a notoriously dangerous tribe. No one had reached them before. Some had exchanged gifts, but always the Aucas had attacked them. For three months the missionaries had been regularly flying over the area, dropping gifts and shouting greetings. When they landed they built a hut and waited for the Aucas to come and find them.

They knew the dangers. Their wives had discussed the possibility of becoming widows. Elisabeth Elliot, the wife of Jim Elliot, says they went simply because they knew they belonged to God, because he was their creator and their redeemer. They had no choice but to willingly obey him, and that meant obeying his command to take the good news to every nation.

“Oh, the fullness, pleasure, sheer excitement of knowing God on earth! I care not if I never raise my voice again for him, if only I may love him, please him”.

To Die Is Gain

On Friday, January 6, three Aucas—one man and two women—approached them. They exchanged greetings. The missionaries showed them rubber bands, yo-yos, and balloons, and the man was taken up in the plane.

On Sunday, January 8, they were due to radio in at 4:30. There was silence. When no message came, a plane was sent and then a rescue party. Four of their bodies were recovered—all lanced to death. The fifth was never found. It seems they were ambushed.

All five were martyred for the sake of Christ. All were married, and four were fathers. One wife was pregnant. Her three-year-old was heard to tell the new crying baby, “Never you mind, when we get to heaven I’ll show you which one is daddy.”

Jim Elliot once said: “He is no fool who gives what he cannot keep to gain what he cannot lose.” Jim Elliot had seen through the lie of consumerism. He had seen the emptiness of all this world offers. He had realized the far greater value of the new creation that God promises (Chester 2018).

What did Jim Elliot mean when he said: ‘He is no fool who gives what he cannot keep to gain what he cannot lose’?

File:Rasalama's execution.jpg - Wikimedia Commons How did Jim Elliot die? He was a missionary martyr.

 

 

 File:Rasalama's execution.jpg - Wikimedia CommonsWhere did he go at death? The Scriptures state, ‘If I live, it will be for Christ, and if I die, I will gain even more’ (Phil 1:21 CEV).

Jesus said: ‘And what do you benefit if you gain the whole world but lose your own soul?’ (Mark 8:36).

Isn’t that what Jim Elliot meant? He is not a fool if he gives up making billions of dollars with mansions and luxury in this life, but does not enjoy eternal life when he dies. That applies to both gals and guys today.

8.  Works consulted

Tim Chester 2018. Crossway (online). ‘Jim Elliot was no fool’, 8 January. Available at: https://www.crossway.org/articles/jim-elliot-was-no-fool/ (Accessed 13 November 2020).

9.  Notes

[1] The world’s most venomous snake, based on LD50, [lethal dose of 50% of animals] is the inland taipan of Australia. In Wikipedia 2019. Venemous snakes (online). Available at: https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Venomous_snake (Accessed 19 April 2019).

[2] Wikipedia 2019. Inland taipan (online). Available at: https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Inland_taipan (Accessed 19 April 2019). Brief details of the inland, western taipan are in Encyclopaedia Britannica 2019. 9 of the World’s Deadliest Snakes (online). Available at: https://www.britannica.com/list/9-of-the-worlds-deadliest-snakes (Accessed 20 April 2019).

[3] Ibid., Wikipedia.

[4] Wikipedia 2019. Inland taipan (online). Available at: https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Inland_taipan#cite_ref-warm-blooded_17-0 (Accessed 19 April 2019).

[5] Ibid.

[6] ‘Whales and dolphins are mammals that are specially adapted to life in the ocean. They have smooth skin that is hydrodynamic, allowing them to swim more efficiently. While they might appear to be hairless, whales and dolphins do in fact have whiskerlike hairs around their chins’ (Natural History Museum: Los Angeles County n.d. Mammalogy FAQs. Available at: https://nhm.org/site/research-collections/mammalogy/faqs. Accessed 20 April 2019).

[7] Ibid.

[8] Wycliffe Bible Translators 2019. Our impact. Available at: https://www.wycliffe.org.uk/about/our-impact/ (Accessed 25 April 2019).

[9] Ibid.

[10] Macmillan Dictionary 2009-2019. s.v. scoff. Available at: https://www.macmillandictionary.com/dictionary/british/scoff (Accessed 20 April 2019).

[11] Blackwell (2003).

[12] Wikipedia 2018. Airbus A380. Available at: https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Airbus_A380 (Accessed 21 September 2018).

[13] Woodford, Chris. (2009/2017) Airplanes. Retrieved from https://www.explainthatstuff.com/howplaneswork.html. (Accessed 5 April 2019).

[14] This is a quote from Leviticus 19:18.

[15] Available at: https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/All_You_Need_Is_Love#Final_overdubs (Accessed 9 April 2019).

[16] Beatles Lyrics 2000-2019. All You Need Is Love. AZLyrics (online). Available at: https://www.azlyrics.com/lyrics/beatles/allyouneedislove.html (Accessed 9 April 2019).

[17] Ibid.

[18] Wikipedia 2019. Jim Elliot (online), 26 March. Available at: https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Jim_Elliot (Accessed 15 April 2019).

[19] Their story is told in Elisabeth Elliot, Through Gates of Splendour (London: Hodder & Stoughton, 1957).

[20] Pronunciation from Merriam-Webster Dictionary 2019. s.v. auca. Available at: https://www.merriam-webster.com/dictionary/auca (Accessed 15 April 2019).

 

Copyright © 2020 Spencer D. Gear. This document last updated at Date: 13 November 2020.

Why would people need God? Part 1

By Spencer D Gear PhD

1. Why would anyone need this?

#pingellybustrip

(Image courtesy Wikipedia)[1]

What is it? It’s a John Deere tractor that would be needed by farmers who are planting and harvesting crops. What if farmers had a job like this to do?

The Case IH Module Express 625 picks cotton and simultaneously builds cotton modules (Photo courtesy Wikipedia)

Spring, summer, or winter. Whatever the needs of your operation, John Deere has the application equipment with the features and options you need to get in, get done, and get on to the next paddock quickly.[2]

It’s also used for sugar cane harvesting, hauling a trailer or machinery, combine harvesters for a variety of crops, silage[3] harvester, cotton picker, and to pull implements for field sprayers (watering, pesticides, and fertilizers).[4]

Which products on supermarket shelves depend on the use of tractors? Cabbage, potatoes, onions, sugar, many other fruits and veggies. What else?

Why would anyone need these?

clip_image005

(Image courtesy ABSFreePic)[5]

It should be obvious that this lipstick would be needed by some ladies to look spruced up for a special occasion.

2. Let’s throw a tennis or basket ball into the air.

Why did it come down when I threw it up? Shouldn’t it have gone up, up and away?

Can you see gravity that brings the ball back to earth? Not at all! However, you can see what it does.

It came down because of gravity. We can’t see gravity but if there is no gravity, you would not be seated on your chair and have your feet on the ground. You would be flying in the air.

Gravity makes sure the earth keeps on going around the sun. The space agency, NASA, USA states that,

The Sun’s gravity pulls on the planets, just as Earth’s gravity pulls down anything that is not held up by some other force and keeps you and me on the ground. Heavier objects (really, more massive ones) produce a bigger gravitational pull than lighter ones, so as the heavyweight in our solar system, the Sun exerts the strongest gravitational pull.[6]

clip_image007(Image courtesy Space Place, NASA USA).[7]

The website, ‘Ask an Astronomer’, states,

The basic reason why the planets revolve around, or orbit the Sun, is that the gravity of the Sun keeps them in their orbits. Just as the Moon orbits the Earth because of the pull of Earth’s gravity, the Earth orbits the Sun because of the pull of the Sun’s gravity.[8]

This invisible force also causes the rain to come down instead of going up. It also helps to cause the daily ocean tides. Do we need rain? Why doesn’t it go up instead of coming down?

A scientist and Assistant Professor of Physics at West Texas A&M University,[9] Dr Christopher S Baird, wrote that

The ocean tides on earth are caused by both the moon’s gravity and the sun’s gravity. In general, ocean tides are not generated by the overall strength of gravity, but instead by the differences in gravity from one spot to the next (the gravitational gradient). Even though the sun is much more massive and therefore has stronger overall gravity than the moon, the moon is closer to the earth so that its gravitational gradient is stronger than that of the sun.[10]

We can’t see gravity, like we can’t see God, but we know what gravity does, based on what we see and know. All things travelling through space have a gravitational pull on each other. Gravity ‘is the glue that holds together entire galaxies. It keeps planets in orbit. It makes it possible to use human-made satellites and to go to and return from the Moon…. It can also cause life-destroying asteroids to crash into planets’.[11]

What do you need every moment of every day that you cannot see?

I’m thinking of the air we breathe that contains nitrogen, oxygen and a small amount of other gases.

clip_image009(Image from ‘Atmosphere of Earth’, Wikipedia)

‘By volume, dry air contains 78.09% nitrogen, 20.95% oxygen, 0.93% argon, 0.04% carbon dioxide, and small amounts of other gases’:

3d-red-star-small 21% oxygen,

3d-red-star-small 78% nitrogen,

3d-red-star-small Of the remaining 1%, it contains various gases like carbon dioxide, argon, neon, methane, and helium.[18]

Can you see these gases you breathe?

Do you believe in what you cannot see with gravity and the gases that you breathe? Why?

You can see the absolute need for them. Why, then, do we have so much difficulty in believing in God whom we cannot see? We believe these other unseen things because of what they do.

It is stated in Christian Scripture:

clip_image011 ‘God is spirit. So the people who worship him must worship in spirit and truth’ (John 4:24 ERV).

clip_image011[1] ‘No one has ever seen God. But the unique One [Jesus], who is himself God, is near to the Father’s heart. He has revealed God to us’ (John 1:18).

clip_image012 ‘All honor and glory to God forever and ever! He is the eternal King, the unseen one who never dies; he alone is God. Amen’ (1 Timothy 1:17).

clip_image012[1] God reminded the Israelite nation in the Old Testament: ‘But you may not look directly at my face, for no one may see me and live’ (Exodus 33:20).

3. What does God, an unseen person, do?

3.1 Who made gravity?

I’m dealing with plain sailing Christianity. C S Lewis called it Mere Christianity. It’s a Christian understanding, based on Scripture. This is what the Apostle John wrote:

God created everything through him [Jesus],
and nothing was created except through him.
The Word gave life to everything that was created,
and his life brought light to everyone (John 1:3-4).

That’s one reason we need God. He made everything, including the physical laws, and we need gravity to keep our feet on the ground every day of our lives.

Did you know that God not only made gravity in the first place, he keeps it going? The Bible makes this clear in these statements: ‘God created EVERYTHING through him (Jesus)’. Everything! No koala, kangaroo, emu, taipan snake or human being was missed.

3.2 What would happen if gravity stopped?

Scientists are confident ‘this could never happen’.[12] Karen Masters, a graduate student at Cornell University, Ithaca NY, USA, wrote for, ‘Ask an Astronomer’.

A third grade class asked her this question: ‘What would happen if the gravity on Earth was suddenly turned off?’

Part of her reply was:

We would like to start our answer by saying that we’re sure you realize that this could never happen. The Earth has mass, just like every other solid object does (including you). It is the Earth’s mass that causes it to have gravity, and so in order to not have gravity the Earth would have to not have mass. But if the Earth didn’t have mass, it wouldn’t be there anymore!

“Switching off” gravity is [like][13] letting go of the string. Things not attached to the Earth in any other way would fly off into space in a straight line that would take them away from the surface of the Earth. In buildings, people would start floating gently upwards until they bumped into the ceiling. Outdoors, however (or in buildings with GIANT ceilings), things would start floating away from the Earth gently but eventually go much faster, as their straight lines took them farther and farther away from the circular path that the spinning Earth takes.[14]

If God decided to quit continuing the physical laws, including gravity, lots of things would happen to make people and the universe fall apart.

Imagine people outside the house and gravity stops. People would fly off into space; kangaroos would be flying through the air. Cars could not be kept on roads; they also would be off into space.

I don’t know if you give this any thought. We take it for granted that the world has always been there and kept going. But will the universe stop one day? Who will stop it?

We need God to keep the world going. As we will learn soon,

“He is the God who made the whole world and everything in it…. He is the one who gives people life, breath, and everything else they need (Acts 17:24-25 ERV).

In part 2 of, ‘Why do people need God?’ I will see that Christianity teaches there will be a time when gravity and all other activity in the universe will stop. That’s for the next article.

3.3 If gravity stopped, what else would happen?

There was a story on BBC News, ‘What would happen to you if gravity stopped working?’[15]

clip_image014(Image courtesy Adrianko/Alamy Stock Photo)[16]

These are a few points from that article. If gravity stopped:

clip_image015 ‘Physics is adamant it could never actually happen’.

clip_image015[1] ‘If we spend time living where gravity is different, such as on board a space station, our bodies change’ (Jay Buckey, former NASA astronaut). It is now an established fact that astronauts lose bone mass and muscle strength during stints in space, and their sense of balance changes’.

clip_image015[2] ‘For reasons not entirely clear, our red blood cell count falls, bringing on a form of “space anaemia”. Wounds take longer to heal and the immune system loses its strength. Even sleep is disturbed if gravity is weak or absent’ (Kevin Fong).

clip_image015[3] ‘”Earth itself would most likely break apart into chunks and float off into space’ (Karen Masters).

clip_image015[4] ‘Without the force of gravity to hold it together, the intense pressures at its core would cause it to burst open in a titanic explosion. The same thing would happen to all the other stars in the Universe’.

clip_image015[5] ‘Oh, and of course we’d all die’ (Jolene Creighton).

clip_image015[6] ‘Gravity is one of four fundamental forces that govern our Universe’.

3.4 What are the other 3

The 4 fundamental forces of the universe are: (1) Gravity, (2) Electromagnetism – it holds atoms together, (3) The strong force – holds nucleus of atom together, (4) The weak force – responsible for radio active decay of atoms. So, the 3rd and 4th forces work at the atomic level.[17]

4. Where does the oxygen you breathe come from?

A simple answer is: ‘Out of the air’. How much of the air is oxygen?

4.1 Who made these gases?

Scientists have tried to give answers. This is one of them:

Take a deep breath. About 78 percent of the air you inhaled is the most abundant pure element found on Earth. Besides its role in the atmosphere, it’s used in all sorts of products: fertilizers, propellants,[20] you name it. It’s also an essential component of DNA and proteins. It’s called nitrogen.

But it’s something of a mystery. The nitrogen found on Earth doesn’t match the nitrogen found in the Sun or in the tails of comets…. One clue is that some very ancient meteorites do match the Earth’s isotopic abundances very closely, implying that the nitrogen may have come from an ancient source that wasn’t so much interplanetary, but existed before the planets formed”.[21]

Notice the language, ‘But it’s something of a mystery’ – the origin of nitrogen. What about the continuing manufacture of oxygen and nitrogen for us to breathe?

More recently, other scientists have concluded: ‘There was another type of nitrogen in the early solar system billions of years ago, and this molecule was probably responsible for making the building blocks of life and bringing the nitrogen of our atmosphere to Earth’.[22]

4.1 There is something missing in the scientific explanation.

What could it be? Here’s a tip: Since this is a Christian website, ‘Truth Challenge’, presented by a Christian who accepts a Judeo-Christian world view, who could be absent from this scientific interpretation?

It is a distortion to miss this essential core of the origin of oxygen and nitrogen in the atmosphere. We see it through our Christian eyes. This is how God explains it:

But in these last days, he (God) has spoken to us through his Son. He is the one whom God appointed to receive all things. God also made everything through him. The Son is the shining brightness of God’s glory. He is the exact likeness of God’s being. He uses his powerful word to hold all things together….

He also says,

Lord, in the beginning you made the earth secure. You placed it on its foundations.
The heavens are the work of your hands.
They will pass away. But you remain.
They will all wear out like a piece of clothing.
You will roll them up like a robe.
They will be changed as a person changes clothes.
But you remain the same.
Your years will never end (Hebrews 1:2-3a, 10-12 NIRV).

Some scientists call the origin and continuation of nitrogen ‘something of a mystery’. That’s not how God sees it. He stated it clearly in the Book of Scripture that God made everything through Jesus the Son. The Son uses his powerful word to hold the world together and keep it going.

‘For the Spirit of God has made me, and the breath of the Almighty gives me life’ (Job 33:4 NLT).

Do you see what happens when we leave God out of creation and continuation of the universe?

  • Where does the air you breathe come from?
  • Who made that air?

Our breathing is a good example of how much we need God to keep the universe going. What happens if you hold your breath (don’t do it for the length of time to read this article)? For most of us, we will need to breathe in air within 30 seconds to 2 minutes.[23]

We would die in a few more minutes if we couldn’t breathe in air. So the way God has made our breathing system in us is a vital organ. You need it to live your life, one moment after another.

This is not an anatomy lesson, but one day you might learn how the breathing system works.

It was especially designed by God. You will know it when it’s not working properly. People with asthma know that.

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(Milky Way, image courtesy PublicDomainPictures.net)[24]

5.   Notes


[1] Wikipedia 2019. List of John Deere Tractors (online): J John Deere new 8295 R 2017 build tractor, 22 January. Available at: https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/List_of_John_Deere_tractors (Accessed 15 April 2019).

[2] John Deere 2019. Application Equipment (online). Available at: https://www.deere.com.au/en/application-equipment/ (Accessed 20 April 2019).

[3] ‘Silage is grass, corn or other plant that has been chopped into small pieces, and compacted together in a storage silo, silage bunker, or in silage bags. The silage is then fermented to provide feed for livestock’ (Wikipedia 2019. Forage harvester (online). Available at: https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Forage_harvester (Accessed 19 April 2019).

[4] Wikipedia 2019. John Deere (online). Available at: https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/John_Deere (Accessed 19 April 2019).

[5] Available at: http://absfreepic.com/free-photos/download/many-of-lipstick-4304x2869_58243.html (Accessed 16 April 2019).

[6] Space Place (NASA) n.d. Why do the planets go around the Sun? Available at: https://spaceplace.nasa.gov/review/dr-marc-solar-system/planet-orbits.html (Accessed 5 April 2019).

[7] Ibid.

[8] Ask an Astronomer 2007-2019. Why do the planets orbit the sun (Beginner)? Cornell University (online). Available at: http://curious.astro.cornell.edu/about-us/57-our-solar-system/planets-and-dwarf-planets/orbits/243-why-do-the-planets-orbit-the-sun-beginner (Accessed 20 April 2019).

[9] Available at: http://wtamu.edu/search/directory.aspx (Accessed 20 April 2019).

[10] Christopher S Baird 2013. West Texas A & M University. ‘Why does the moon’s gravity cause tides on earth but the sun’s gravity doesn’t?’ Science Questions with Surprising Answers (online), 9 May. Available at: https://wtamu.edu/~cbaird/sq/2013/05/09/why-does-the-moons-gravity-cause-tides-on-earth-but-the-suns-gravity-doesnt/ (Accessed 13 November 2020).

[11] Northwestern University n d. Qualitative Reasoning Group. How does gravity work in space? (online) Available at: http://www.qrg.northwestern.edu/projects/vss/docs/space-environment/zoom-grav.html (Accessed 5 April 2019).

[12] Karen Masters 2015. What would happen if the gravity on Earth was suddenly turned off? (Beginner). Ask an Astronomer (online), 27 June. Available at: http://curious.astro.cornell.edu/about-us/39-our-solar-system/the-earth/other-catastrophes/64-what-would-happen-if-the-gravity-on-earth-was-suddenly-turned-off-beginner (Accessed 6 March 2019). Ask an Astronomer is run by volunteers in the Astronomy Department at Cornell University. Most of them are graduate students at Cornell.

[13] The original said, ‘Analogous to’.

[14] Ibid.

[15] Colin Buras 2016. What would happen to you if gravity stopped working? BBC:Earth (online), 12 February. Available at: http://www.bbc.com/earth/story/20160212-what-would-happen-to-you-if-gravity-stopped-working (Accessed 7 March 2019).

[16] In ibid.

[17] Information from Craig Freudenrich, Ph.D. 2009, ‘What are the four fundamental forces of nature?’ 3 March. Science:HowStuffWorks.com (online). Available at: https://science.howstuffworks.com/environmental/earth/geophysics/fundamental-forces-of-nature.htm (Accessed 7 March 2019).

[18] Wikipedia 2019. Atmosphere of earth (online). Available at: https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Atmosphere_of_Earth (Accessed 25 April 2019). These percentages are confirmed in other sources such as The APC Microbiome Institute and University College Cork (UK) 2015. Available at: http://microbemagic.ucc.ie/explore_body/air_composition.html (Accessed 25 April 2019).

[19] Ibid.

[20] ScienceDaily (2019. s.v. propellant) provided this brief definition: ‘A propellant is a material that is used to move an object by applying a motive force.

This may or may not involve a chemical reaction. It may be a gas, liquid, plasma, or, before the chemical reaction, a solid. Common chemical propellants consist of a fuel, like [petrol], jet fuel and rocket fuel, and an oxidizer. In aerosol spray cans, the propellant is simply a pressurized vapour in equilibrium with its liquid.

As some gas escapes to expel the payload, more liquid evaporates, maintaining an even pressure’.

It acknowledged this information came from Wikipedia (2018. s.v. propellant). Available at: https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Propellant (Accessed 25 April 2019).

[21] The APC Microbiome Institute and University College Cork (UK) 2015.

[22] Dennis Harries et.al. 2015, in S Gary 2015. How the Earth got its nitrogen. ABC Science (online), 20 January. Available at: http://www.abc.net.au/science/articles/2015/01/20/4164551.htm (Accessed 7 March 2019)

[23] See Healthline at: https://www.healthline.com/health/holding-your-breath (Accessed 13 November 2020).

[24] Available at: https://www.publicdomainpictures.net/en/view-image.php?image=180438&picture=milky-way (Accessed 20 April 2019).

Copyright © 2020 Spencer D. Gear. This document last updated at Date: 13 November 2020.

Seamless horizontal pattern multi-colored vegetables and fruits separated sloping vertical lines. Seamless horizontal pattern bright multi-colored vegetables and royalty free stock photo

Does Postmillennialism fit with Scripture and what’s happening in the world?

(Nero’s Torches, by Henryk Siemiradzki (1882, National Museum, Kraków) Christians are burned alive for the entertainment of Nero, as related by Tacitus, courtesy Wikipedia)

By Spencer D Gear PhD

In the 20th to 21st centuries, we have lived in a world of wars, the Holocaust, Stalin’s Russia, Mao’s China, Pol Pot’s Cambodia, Idi Amin’s Uganda, slaughter of people in Syria (and the Middle East), terrorism by extremist groups, crime and violence around the world.

However, there are Christians who promote the view that with the Gospel’s progress, the proportion of the world’s population will become more Christian and function according to biblical standards.

Is that consistent with God’s Word and do we see it in practice in our society?

1. What is the millennium?

The word, ‘millennium’, means ‘one thousand years’ and is found in the Book of Revelation 20:1-10 (ERV):

I saw an angel coming down out of heaven. The angel had the key to the bottomless pit. The angel also held a large chain in his hand. 2 The angel grabbed the dragon, that old snake, also known as the devil or Satan. The angel tied the dragon with the chain for 1000 years. 3 Then the angel threw the dragon into the bottomless pit and closed it. The angel locked it over the dragon. The angel did this so that the dragon could not trick the people of the earth until the 1000 years were ended. After 1000 years the dragon must be made free for a short time.

4 Then I saw some thrones and people sitting on them. These were the ones who had been given the power to judge. And I saw the souls of those who had been killed because they were faithful to the truth of Jesus and the message from God. They did not worship the beast or its idol. They did not receive the mark of the beast on their foreheads or on their hands. They came back to life and ruled with Christ for 1000 years. 5 (The rest of the dead did not live again until the 1000 years were ended.)

This is the first resurrection. 6 Great blessings belong to those who share in this first resurrection. They are God’s holy people. The second death has no power over them. They will be priests for God and for Christ. They will rule with him for 1000 years.

The Defeat of Satan

7 When the 1000 years are ended, Satan will be made free from his prison. 8 He will go out to trick the nations in all the earth, the nations known as Gog and Magog. Satan will gather the people for battle. There will be more people than anyone can count, like sand on the seashore.

9 I saw Satan’s army march across the earth and gather around the camp of God’s people and the city that God loves. But fire came down from heaven and destroyed Satan’s army. 10 And he (the one who tricked these people) was thrown into the lake of burning sulphur with the beast and the false prophet. There they would be tortured day and night forever and ever.

Theologians have debated for centuries over whether the 1,000 years is literal or symbolic. Those who support a figurative view often appeal to 2 Peter 3:8 (ERV), ‘To the Lord a day is like a thousand years, and a thousand years is like a day’.[1] That’s a possible interpretation, but I consider there’s a better alternative of literal interpretation because Rev 20:1-7 articulates the 1,000 year period on 4 occasions. The literal, exact time of the millennial kingdom seems to be preferred over the symbolic view.

There are biblical references in support of the Messiah being the ruling king in Jerusalem on the throne of David (Luke 1:32-33) to fulfil God’s covenant to Abraham (Gen 12:1-3). The OT prophets spoke of the millennial kingdom of peace, joy, prosperity and comfort (Micah 4:2-4; Isa 40:1-2; 61:7; Amos 9:13-15; Zech 8:3).

These prophecies regarding the future Messiah’s reign all require a period of time in order to find a literal fulfillment. The only alternatives would be to dismiss the many specific prophecies regarding the Messiah’s future reign or to accept an allegorical interpretation of numerous passages that appear to be presented as literal predictions. Based on these options, the most likely scenario is that the millennial kingdom is a literal 1,000-year period during which Jesus Christ will reign from David’s throne in Jerusalem.

2. Postmillennialism

I have two friends who are new Christians. They told me of attending their Presbyterian Bible study where two people were promoting three comings of Jesus: as a baby, to destroy Jerusalem in AD 70, and at the end of the world – known as postmillennialism. Is this true to Scripture and experience?

Theologian Wayne Grudem gave this helpful summary of the postmillennial view:[2]

“Postmillennialism” teaches that the progress of the church will gradually increase until a larger proportion of the world’s population becomes Christian. As a result, the Christian influence on society will gradually turn into a “millennial age” of peace. At the end of that period, Christ will return, all the dead will be resurrected, and judgment will happen.

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Figure 55.2: Postmillennialism from Systematic Theology, p. 1110.

2.1 Arguments for Postmillennialism

  • The Great Commission leads us to expect the gospel will go forth in power and result in a largely Christian world since Jesus said “All authority in heaven and on earth has been given to me. Go therefore and make disciples of all nations” (Matthew 28:18-19).
  • Parables of the gradual growth of the kingdom indicate it will grow until it fills the earth. See Matthew 13:31-32.
  • The “millennium” of postmillennialism is an indeterminate period of time where Christian influence increases until Jesus returns requiring a symbolic understanding of Revelation 20:1-6.

2.2 Holes in Postmillennialism

clip_image004Postmillennialism is easily accepted and promoted during times of prosperity and revival.

clip_image004[1]Try selling that doctrine to Christians in the Middle East in the 21st century and other parts of the world who have and are suffering horrific persecution. The Gospel proclamation often leads to death. That’s what happened to John Wycliffe whose teachings were regarded by the Roman Catholic Church as heretical and he died of a stroke. Early Christian martyrs included: James, son of Zebedee, apostle and brother of John, the apostle; Philip the apostle; the apostle Matthew; James the Just who was Jesus’ brother; the apostle Andrew; the apostle Thomas;

In Mosul, Iraq, the terrorist group, ISIS, has marked every known Christian house with the Arabic ‘N’ for Nazarenes (Acts 24:5).

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Christians Facing Islamic Extremists: ISIS

I urge those who promote postmillennialism to go to the Christians of Iraq and preach the message that their society is getting better and better through the Gospel, and then Jesus will return. They’ll be whistling in the anti-biblical wind.

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clip_image004[2]Postmillennialists should obtain the regular newsletters from Voice of the Martyrs, the Barnabas Fund, and Open Doors to see that our world is not heading towards utopia for Christians and the rest of the world. Christians are being persecuted in Nigeria, the Sudan, the Middle East, India, and in other countries. Society is not improving in these countries.

Neither is it heading for the best in the Western world, where materialism and secularism reign.

3. Their biggest problem is anti-biblical content

What does the Bible say will happen towards the end of the world and Christ’s return?

3.1 Matthew 24

What could be clearer than Matt 24:3-44 (ERV)? (Also in Mark 13 and Luke 21)

3 Later, Jesus was sitting at a place on the Mount of Olives. The followers came to be alone with him. They said, “Tell us when these things will happen. And what will happen to prepare us for your coming and the end of time?”

4 Jesus answered, “Be careful! Don’t let anyone fool you. 5 Many people will come and use my name. They will say, ‘I am the Messiah.’ And they will fool many people. 6 You will hear about wars that are being fought. And you will hear stories about other wars beginning. But don’t be afraid. These things must happen before the end comes. 7 Nations will fight against other nations. Kingdoms will fight against other kingdoms. There will be times when there is no food for people to eat. And there will be earthquakes in different places. 8 These things are only the beginning of troubles, like the first pains of a woman giving birth.

9 “Then you will be arrested and handed over to be punished and killed. People all over the world will hate you because you believe in me. 10 During that time many believers will lose their faith. They will turn against each other and hate each other. 11 Many false prophets will come and cause many people to believe things that are wrong. 12 There will be so much more evil in the world that the love of most believers will grow cold. 13 But the one who remains faithful to the end will be saved. 14 And the Good News I have shared about God’s kingdom will be told throughout the world. It will be spread to every nation. Then the end will come.

15 “Daniel the prophet spoke about ‘the terrible thing that causes destruction.’ You will see this terrible thing standing in the holy place.” (You who read this should understand what it means.) 16 “The people in Judea at that time should run away to the mountains. 17 They should run away without wasting time to stop for anything. If they are on the roof of their house, they must not go down to get anything out of the house. 18 If they are in the field, they must not go back to get a coat.

19 “During that time it will be hard for women who are pregnant or have small babies! 20 Pray that it will not be winter or a Sabbath day when these things happen and you have to run away, 21 because it will be a time of great trouble. There will be more trouble than has ever happened since the beginning of the world. And nothing as bad as that will ever happen again.

22 “But God has decided to make that terrible time short. If it were not made short, no one would continue living. But God will make that time short to help the people he has chosen.

23 “Someone might say to you at that time, ‘Look, there is the Messiah!’ Or someone else might say, ‘There he is!’ But don’t believe them. 24 False messiahs and false prophets will come and do great miracles and wonders, trying to fool the people God has chosen, if that is possible. 25 Now I have warned you about this before it happens.

26 “Someone might tell you, ‘The Messiah is there in the desert!’ But don’t go into the desert to look for him. Someone else might say, ‘There is the Messiah in that room!’ But don’t believe it. 27 When the Son of Man comes, everyone will see him. It will be like lightning flashing in the sky that can be seen everywhere. 28 It’s like looking for a dead body: You will find it where the vultures are gathering above.

29 “Right after the trouble of those days, this will happen:

‘The sun will become dark,
and the moon will not give light.
The stars will fall from the sky,
and everything in the sky will be changed.’

30 “Then there will be something in the sky that shows the Son of Man is coming. All the people of the world will cry. Everyone will see the Son of Man coming on the clouds in the sky. He will come with power and great glory. 31 He will use a loud trumpet to send his angels all around the earth. They will gather his chosen people from every part of the earth.

32 “The fig tree teaches us a lesson: When its branches become green and soft, and new leaves begin to grow, then you know that summer is very near. 33 In the same way, when you see all these things happening, you will know that the time is very near, already present. 34 I assure you that all these things will happen while some of the people of this time are still living. 35 The whole world, earth and sky, will be destroyed, but my words will last forever.

Only God Knows When the Time Will Be

36 “No one knows when that day or time will be. The Son and the angels in heaven don’t know when it will be. Only the Father knows.

37 “When the Son of Man comes, it will be the same as what happened during Noah’s time. 38 In those days before the flood, people were eating and drinking, marrying and giving their children to be married right up to the day Noah entered the boat. 39 They knew nothing about what was happening until the flood came and destroyed them all.

“It will be the same when the Son of Man comes. 40 Two men will be working together in the field. One will be taken and the other will be left. 41 Two women will be grinding grain with a mill. One will be taken and the other will be left.

42 “So always be ready. You don’t know the day your Lord will come. 43 What would a homeowner do if he knew when a thief was coming? You know he would be ready and not let the thief break in. 44 So you also must be ready. The Son of Man will come at a time when you don’t expect him.

That reads nothing like love and peace coming across the world before Jesus returns. Instead, the world will be afflicted by:

clip_image010 False Messiahs;

clip_image010[1] Wars & rumours of war;

clip_image010[2]Nations fighting each other;

clip_image010[3] So much evil in the world that the love of most Christians will grow cold;

clip_image010[4] Earthquakes, etc, but they are only the beginning of worse trials.

clip_image010[5] Famines, believers arrested – but there is worse to come.

clip_image010[6] Christians handed over to be punished and killed by authorities,

clip_image010[7] Christians hated all over the world,

clip_image010[8] Many believers will lose their faith,

clip_image010[9] Such evil in the world believers’ love will grow cold,

clip_image010[10] The ones faithful to the end will be saved,

clip_image010[11] The Gospel preached all over the world,

clip_image010[12] You will see what Daniel prophesied, the destruction called desolation,

clip_image010[13] It would seem postmillennialists get their understanding of Jesus’ second coming at the time of the destruction of Jerusalem from vv. 16-20. However, the alleged 2nd coming at the Fall of Jerusalem is opposed by this language in v. 21, ‘It will be a time of great trouble. There will be more trouble than has ever happened since the beginning of the world. And nothing as bad as that will ever happen again‘. The ESV translation of Matt 24:21 is, ‘For then there will be great tribulation, such as has not been from the beginning of the world until now, no, and never will be’.

There have been many wars, etc in history that are worse than the fall of Jerusalem – Hitler’s slaughter of the Jews, World War I, World War II, Stalin’s Gestapo in the USSR, Mao’s Chinese extermination, Pol Pot, Idi Amin, etc. Postmillennialists need to talk to the families of Christians being annihilated in the Northern Sudan of Africa.

clip_image010[14] Back to Matt 24: The terrible time will be short (v. 22).

clip_image010[15] After those horrific troubles, there will be signs in the sky of the Son of Man’s coming. Everyone (alive) will see Him.

clip_image010[16] When you see the above horrors/incidents taking place, ‘you will know that the time is very near, already present’ (v. 33).

clip_image010[17] All of these things will happen when some people are still living.

clip_image010[18] ‘The whole world, earth and sky, will be destroyed, but my words will last forever’ (v. 35). That did not happen at the fall of Jerusalem.

clip_image010[19] Jesus and the angels don’t know when his second coming will be, but the signs are that it will be like the days of Noah (vv. 37-39).

3.2 So, always be ready (vv. 42-44).

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There are other biblical passages that teach us to expect terrible, extreme times before Jesus’ Second Coming.

These include:[3]

3.2.1 Corinthians 4:7-12 (ESV)

7 We have this treasure from God, but we are only like clay jars that hold the treasure. This is to show that the amazing power we have is from God, not from us. 8 We have troubles all around us, but we are not defeated. We often don’t know what to do, but we don’t give up. 9 We are persecuted, but God does not leave us. We are hurt sometimes, but we are not destroyed. 10 So we constantly experience the death of Jesus in our own bodies, but this is so that the life of Jesus can also be seen in our bodies. 11 We are alive, but for Jesus we are always in danger of death, so that the life of Jesus can be seen in our bodies that die. 12 So death is working in us, but the result is that life is working in you.

To expect God to make conditions better and better for Christians deprives us of suffering with and being persecuted for Christ. Richard Gaffin wrote: ‘Any outlook that tends to remove or obscure the (constitutive) dimension of suffering for the Gospel from the present triumph of the church is an illusion’ (in Storms).

3.2.2 Jesus could return at any time

This refers to the imminent return of Jesus – I’m waiting for him now. That’s the biblical expectation in Scriptures such as 1 Cor. 16:22; Rom. 13:11-12; Phil. 4:5; Js. 5:8; 1 Pt. 4:7; 1 Jn. 2:18; Rev. 1:3; and 22:20. But postmillennialism ends that because it expects a golden age for Christianity and the university when the world is currently in a mess.

3.2.3 The ‘golden age’: The New Heavens and the New Earth

This will happen only after the millennium of Rev. 20 (Rev. 21-22).

3.3.4 Fewer people saved

The biblical indicators don’t confirm the utopian vision of a multitude of saved people by the time Jesus returns. See: Mt. 7:13-14; Lk. 18:8; 2 Thess. 2:3-4; 2 Tim. 3:1-5,12-13; 4:3-4.

Note particularly the words of Matt 7:13-14 (ERV):

You can enter true life only through the narrow gate. The gate to hell is very wide, and there is plenty of room on the road that leads there. Many people go that way. 14 But the gate that opens the way to true life is narrow. And the road that leads there is hard to follow. Only a few people find it’ (emphasis added).

3.3.5 Sam Storms summary

Storms (2020) excellent summary point was:

Scripture (esp. the NT) nowhere explicitly teaches the progressive and eventual wholesale reconstruction of society (arts, economics, politics, courts, education, etc.) according to Christian principles prior to Christ’s return. Of course, there may be relative success in this regard in isolated instances.

4. Conclusion

There are two main problems with postmillennialism: (1) Scripture refutes it, and (2) What is happening in countries around the world, with deterioration in society and culture, demonstrates postmillennialism should be avoided – giving reasons for taking that position, especially from Matthew 24.

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5. Works consulted

Storms, S 2020. ‘The Postmillennial View of the Kingdom of God’, Sam Storms: Enjoying God (online). Available at: https://www.samstorms.org/all-articles/post/the-postmillennial-view-of-the-kingdom-of-god (Accessed 9 November 2020).

6.  Notes


[1] A number of these points came from Got Questions Ministries, ‘What is postmillennialism?’ (Accessed 9 November 2020).

[2] From Brandon Clay 2020. ‘The Millennium – Chapter 55’, Theolocast (online), 11 July. Available at: https://theolocast.org/blog/the-millennium-chapter-55/ (Accessed 9 November 2020).

[3] These points are made by Sam Storms (2020).

Copyright © 2020 Spencer D. Gear. This document last updated at Date: 10 November 2020.

Israel Folau, Tonga and Christian conversion

By Spencer D Gear PhD

Max Wallace wrote the article, ‘Israel Folau: indoctrination and the Tongan Fakaleiti’ (On Line Opinion, 9 May 2019).[1] To me, it read like a diatribe against evangelical Christianity and vulnerability to ‘indoctrination’ because of illiteracy among the Pacific Islanders.

The chastisement of Folau by Rugby Australia (RA) for his Instagram post was used by Wallace to denigrate Folau’s brand of Christianity.

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(image courtesy RUCK.co.uk)

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For an expose of the Folau vs RA saga see: Israel Folau: When diversity means censorship.

clip_image006Let’s look at a few of Wallace’s points:

1. “The Pacific has been the target of a conversion campaign that started in the nineteenth century and continues to this day”.[2]

Is this the truth?

clip_image008(image courtesy maplets)

‘Tonga, officially the Kingdom of Tonga, is a Polynesian sovereign state and an archipelago comprising 176 islands with a surface area of about 750 square kilometres (290 sq mi) scattered over 700,000 square kilometres (270,000 sq mi) of the southern Pacific Ocean. Fifty-two of these islands are inhabited with its 103,000 people. Situated east of the Fiji Islands in the South Pacific’.[3]

When did Christianity reach Tonga? According to Prepare to Serve: Tonga’s Christian History,

Mainstream Christianity arrived to Tonga in 1797 when ten London missionaries traveled to Tonga’s main island –Tongatapu. At first the missionaries had little success; however, with time Christianity began to take root in Tonga.

John Thomas and Christianity’s spread in 1826

In 1826, missionary John Thomas arrived to the islands of Tonga. Throughout his 25-year stay, John Thomas converted many Tongans to Christianity.  After John Thomas’ stay in Tonga, Christianity continued to spread. In 1882 a group of Wesleyan missionaries arrived in Tonga and helped convert the majority of Tongans to Christianity.

Here are a few reasons Christianity spread so quickly in Tonga:

  • Some Tongans believed old gods prophesied the coming of Christianity.
  • Some Tongans believed old gods prophesied the destruction of the ‘old order.’
  • Many Tongans already valued Christian ideals. Before Christian missionaries arrived, Tongans supported Sabbath observance, scripture study, honesty, and purity.[4]

Any person, no matter the nation, who is a faithful Christian, will follow Jesus’ command:

“You must go and make disciples of all nations. Baptize them in the name of the Father and of the Son and of the Holy Spirit. Teach them to obey everything I have commanded you. And you can be sure that I am always with you, to the very end” (Matt 28:19-20).

You may not like it, but evangelising The Pacific is part of God’s mandate to proclaim the Good News of salvation through Christ across the world.

2. Wallace makes this observation: “Islanders were persuaded to abandon their own religions and convert. Lacking literacy, with no formal education, they were vulnerable”.
The church of the first century lacked literacy skills and formal education. Oral tradition was its means of communication. Lack of literacy does not make one a non-thinker about eternal issues.

Wallace:

This is the context from which Israel Folau came to his views. Like so many of his colleagues, I suggest, he was indoctrinated when a child. His father is a pastor in his church. The family’s history is one of devotion.

Wallace seems to think a Christian family that raises its family in the teachings of Christ is engaged in indoctrination. To the contrary, such a family is being faithful to the Lord’s instruction: “Fathers, don’t make your children angry. Instead, instruct them and teach them the ways of the Lord as you raise them” (Eph 6:4 ERV).

So a Christian father who is pastor of a church or not a pastor is being faithful to Scripture in raising his children with instruction in the ways of the Lord. That happens in Tongan and Australian Christian families. However, your post repudiates this Scripture.
Wallace considers Folau “is one of the hundreds of thousands of targets of an indoctrination program that started two hundred years ago”.

3. No, Max! It started 2,000 years ago and has led to approximately 2.3 billion followers of Christ around the world (Hackett & McClendon 2019). It’s not indoctrination but being obedient to the teachings of the New Testament. Evangelism is the Master’s call to all true believers.

clip_image010Wallace continues: It “may not save him from the possible financial debacle that his religion has brought him to”.

Folau has stated that his relationship with Jesus is far more important than material reward. “First and foremost I live for God now“.

(image courtesy ChristArt)

4. Now Wallace drifts into a free speech discussion. The down side for Folau, he says, is that were there no contract involved, should Folau be free to parrot the ultra-conservative, centuries’ old, homophobic views of the Christianity that has brought him to this point? Yes, but the Biblical quote that Folau used was promising violent retribution, albeit indirectly, for gays, atheists and others in the future when they arrive in Hell for torture till eternity”.

His comment is a put down of Folau who is espousing Christian values, based on Scripture, supported by people around the world.

5. Wallace wrote: “It has been said in his defence that Folau was merely citing the words of the Bible, as if that lets him off the hook. Surely that is disingenuous”.
It is not disingenuous but factual and truthful. Isn’t it amazing that other wrongdoers in the list from 1 Corinthians 6:9-11 have not gone public like the homosexuals. Where are the liars, idolaters and adulterers?

I have not heard Wallace or the mass media sprouting the absence of these other sinners. Homosexuals are the exclusive choice by Australian sinners, especially those in the mass media.

6. As of 5 February 2020, Folau had signed with a Super Rugby League Club, the Catalans Dragons in France. It took only 6 minutes for Folau to score his first try with the Dragons on 16 February 2020.

1.  Folau’s unorthodox Christianity

Folau’s Christianity is not that of traditional, Trinitarian orthodoxy. Instead, it belongs to a cult that promotes anti-trinitarian, Oneness Pentecostal theology that was deemed a heresy in the church of the third century as Modalism, Monarchianism and Sabellianism.

See my article: Israel Folau teaches false doctrine.

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(photo courtesy PHOTOSPORT)

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(image courtesy dragons Catalans)

2.  Works consulted

Hackett, C & McClendon, D 2019. Pew Research Center (online). ‘Christians remain world’s largest religious group, but they are declining in Europe’, 5 April. Available at: https://www.pewresearch.org/fact-tank/2017/04/05/christians-remain-worlds-largest-religious-group-but-they-are-declining-in-europe/ (Accessed 17 October 2020).

3.  Notes


[1] Available at: http://www.onlineopinion.com.au/view.asp?article=20291 (Accessed 23 May 2019).

[2] Ibid.

[3] Maplets 2014. Tonga (online), 28 May. Available at: http://www.mobilemaplets.com/showplace/11245 (Accessed 14 May 2019).

[4] Alex 2014. Prepare to Serve (online), 2 July. Available at: http://preparetoserve.com/blog/tongas-christian-history/ (Accessed 14 May 2019).

Copyright © 2020 Spencer D. Gear. This document last updated at Date: 18 October 2020.

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Christianity smashed and swapped for a new agenda

File:St Joseph Church demolition.jpg

Spencer D Gear PhD

1. How Christianity is smashed by Peter Bowden

When I write ‘smash’ in this context, I indicate ‘to defeat or wreck (persons, theories, etc)’ (Collins English Dictionary 2018. s.v. smash).

Here I deal with how Dr Peter Bowden has wrecked the biblical meaning of basic Christian teaching and replaced it with his own human, politically correct agenda.

Let’s check how he did that.

2. Christianity corrected

Dr Bowden went to the dictionary to find a definition of ‘Christian’ in his article, A Christian Church.[1] It’s a shame he didn’t go to an early source (the Book of Acts, written ca. AD 62-64) for his definition of what ‘Christian’ meant in the first century – and today.

Acts 11 states that the Gospel of repenting of sins and receiving eternal life when people believed in the Lord Jesus Christ extended from Jews to  non-Jews (vv 17-18). At Antioch, Syria, when the word of God was preached, a ‘large number’ of people came to know the Lord. It was at Antioch ‘ that the believers were first called Christians” (Acts 11:26).

In turning to dictionaries to determine the meaning of Christian, Dr Bowden has wrongly identified one definition of a Christian, ‘a follower of the Christian Church’. When the early believers were first called ‘Christian’, they were not followers of the Christian Church, but believed in and were disciples of the Lord Jesus Christ.

The Jews would not call them Christians because of their own use of Cristo the Messiah. The Jews termed them Galileans or Nazarenes. The followers of Christ called themselves disciples (learners), believers, brethren, saints, those of the Way. The three uses of Christian in the N.T. are from the heathen standpoint (here), Acts 26:28 (a term of contempt in the mouth of Agrippa), and 1 Peter 4:16 (persecution from the Roman government). It is a clear distinction from both Jews and Gentiles and it is not strange that it came into use first here in Antioch when the large Greek church gave occasion for it (A T Robertson, Word Pictures in the New Testament, Acts 11:26).

3. Where the redefinition of God leads

Dr Bowden’s accolades for this denomination were: ‘The Uniting Church’s beliefs are impressive. They confirm that religion will be an everlasting aspect of human life on earth…. If I ever feel the need to turn to the formal practice of religion, it will be to the Uniting Church that I will turn’.

What’s the truth of where the Uniting Church’s agenda leads? See Philip Hughes’ article, ‘Why Some Churches Decline While Others Grow’ (Christian Research Association).

3.1 The ruin of the Uniting Church

Uniting Church in Australia

UCA-logo.svgUCA logo

The 2016 Australian census found ‘the Uniting church had declined to 3.7%’ of the Australian population, compared with 5% in the 2011 census (Bouma 2017).

John Sandeman wrote that Keith Suter does not claim to be a prophet but is a futurist. In 2014, he completed his third doctorate which sketched four ‘plausible futures’ for the Uniting Church of Australia (UCA). They are:

1. Word and Deed: A Uniting Church with a small number of large parishes, providing spiritual activities and social welfare.

2. Secular Welfare: Uniting Church congregations fade away, but a large social welfare movement remains.

3. Return to the Early Church: UCA re-invents itself.

4. Recessional: UCA is wound up and its assets dispersed.

Of these four scenarios, the ones being played out are number two – the growth of church welfare – and number four. Suter told Eternity.[2] “It is quite clear that the congregations are shrinking, and the government continues to provide money for welfare work” (Sandeman 2017).

The Uniting Church reported concerning it’s decline:

According to the church, it had 243,000 members in 2018. In the 2016 census, about 870,200 Australians identified with the church; in the 2011 census, the figure was 1,065,796. The UCA is Australia’s third-largest Christian denomination, behind the Catholic and the Anglican Churches (Wikipedia 2020. s.v. Uniting Church of Australia).

4. Consider how an Anglican justifies his liberalism

Peter Sellick is an articulate Anglican deacon in Perth, WA, Australia. Most recently, he wrote this article for On Line Opinion: The battle of the narratives of origin. A more accurate title would be, ‘The battle to stop the Anglican decline in liberal parishes’. Some of his points in this article included (not comprehensive):

5tn_.jpg 1.1K  Charles Darwin’s On the Origin of Species (1859) catapulted the ‘new science of genetics…. The universe began in the big bang about 13 billion years ago and biologists have estimated the emergence of the first living things (microbia) about 3.5 billion years’.

5tn_.jpg 1.1K  ‘Evidence of early humanity, close to a mere 300 thousand years, completed the picture of cosmic and human time. This composite narrative of origins of life on earth has become the narrative in modern times’.

·5tn_.jpg 1.1K  What about the biblical data? There was ‘a victory of scientific rationalism over against the feeble attempts to cling to the biblical account of creation as an explanation of the origin of all things’. ‘In the process, Christian belief for many was mortally damaged since central texts were found to be mythical and hence untrustworthy. The word “mythical” was taken to refer to the unreal, the pretend’.

5tn_.jpg 1.1K  What should have replaced the doubt about the reliability of the biblical texts? Scholars should have gone to German biblical research, he said.

5tn_.jpg 1.1K  He mentioned that ‘Julian (sic)[3] Wellhausen published in 1878 his source theory of Old Testament texts that discovered the hands of different writers separated in time and in orientation that was later redacted into a single narrative. This undercut the idea that biblical texts were, in some way, obtained directly from the mouth of God’.

5tn_.jpg 1.1K  ‘The source hypothesis demonstrated that biblical texts were cultural products that displayed their sources in time, place and authorship’.

I couldn’t let him get away with this kind rationalising away biblical authority, so I gave him this retort:

Peter,

I enjoy your writing style, but your articulation smothers your presuppositions. In this short piece, you tried to ‘trick’ us into believing Darwin’s view of the origin of the universe was correct, affirmed by cosmologists. You might learn that in your liberal Anglican theological college but it takes more than a few sentences to unpack and then refute.

Then you want us to swallow your line that the veracity of the biblical texts would have been supported if we followed the Wellhausen research, Source Criticism (SC), of 1878. When will you get it? The Graf-Wellhausen SC Documentary Hypothesis (JEDP for authorship of the Pentateuch) has been refuted over and over but your liberal theology keeps on keeping on.

There is internal evidence in the Pentateuch to demonstrate Mosaic authorship and not the 4-source Graf-Wellhausen theory. Space does not permit my going into these, except to say that a serious fallacy of the Hypothesis is that it assumes no part of the Torah was written before the middle of the 9th century BC. This would be the time of the Exile of the Israelites. This flies in the face of archaeological evidence of the last century.

If you continue to promote this kind of theology in your diocese, don’t expect people to flock to your churches. Your views cause people to doubt the authority of Scripture. For a better assessment, I think it’s time for you to engage in discussions with the faculty of Moore College, Sydney, and examine how the Sydney diocese is preventing the kind of decline of your churches. Posted by OzSpen, Thursday, 15 October 2020 8:16:39 AM[4]

4.1 For other promotions of liberalism by Peter Sellick …

See:

Ant drawing Clinging to the wreckage

Ant drawing Two scholars battle it out over the resurrection

Ant drawing Resurrection: the vindication of the Christ

Ant drawing A former dean of St George’s cathedral runs afoul of the evangelicals

Ant drawing The second person of the Trinity: the Son

Ant drawing Who is responsible for the death of God?

This article shows you how to white ant your church.

To demonstrate termite repair behaviour, a hole was bored into a termite nest. Over a dozen worker termites with pale heads are visible in this close-up photo, most facing the camera as they engage in repair activities from the inside of the hole. About a dozen soldier termites with orange heads are also visible, some facing outwards from the hole, others patrolling the surrounding area.

5. Conclusion

If you want to ruin a Christian denomination and empty its churches, eliminate biblical authority from the pulpit and in Bible studies by the promotion of theological liberalism. Use the Sellick line: ‘Christian belief for many was mortally damaged since central texts were found to be mythical and hence untrustworthy. The word “mythical” was taken to refer to the unreal, the pretend’.

See my refutation of Sellick’s view in: The Bible: fairy tale or history?

Also, see my articles:

6.  Works consulted

Bouma, G D 2017. Census 2016 shows Australia’s changing religious profile, with more ‘nones’ than Catholics. The Conversation (online), 27 June. Available at: https://theconversation.com/census-2016-shows-australias-changing-religious-profile-with-more-nones-than-catholics-79837 (Accessed 3 July 2018).

Bowden, P 2017. A Christian church. On Line Opinion (online), 22 February. Available at: http://www.onlineopinion.com.au/view.asp?article=18856 (Accessed 11 December 2018).

Sandeman, J 2017. Decision time for Uniting Church in Australia. Eternity (online), 16 June. Available at: https://www.eternitynews.com.au/in-depth/decision-time-for-uniting-church-in-australia/ (Accessed 3 July 2018).

7.  Notes


[1] Bowden (2017).

[2] Eternity is published by the Bible Society Australia and is a national news service for Australian Christians’. Available at: https://www.eternitynews.com.au/about/ (Accessed 11 December 2018).

[3] His Christian name is Julius. See Encyclopaedia Britannica (2020. s.v. Julius Wellhausen).

[4] Available at: https://forum.onlineopinion.com.au/thread.asp?article=21147&page=2 (Accessed 17 October 2020).

Copyright © 2020 Spencer D. Gear. This document last updated at Date: 17 October 2020.

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Welcome to ho-hum Christianity!

Ho Hum!

By Spencer D Gear PhD

I started attending a new evangelical church and had been three times. After 15 minutes of the service on 5 October 2020 I left the service. It was another example of ho-hum Christianity.

1. What’s the meaning of ‘ho-hum’?

According to the Cambridge Dictionary (2020. s.v. ho-hum), it refers to ‘an expression used when someone is bored, or when they accept that something unpleasant cannot be stopped from happening’.

My personal perspective is that in Brisbane, Australia (where I live), there are three prominent expressions of ho-hum Christianity that bore me to sleep. These include:

2. Evangelical Christianity

Yesterday’s church service was an example. It began with canned/data music of a new song. The words of the song were in such small font on the overhead screen that I could not see them, when sitting three-quarters of the way back in the auditorium.

This was compounded when the singers (on DVD) began singing. I couldn’t join the singing as I didn’t know the words to follow.

Then the melody line is typical of what is happening in the Hillsong and Jesus Culture dominated culture of new church music. I can’t remember the name of the song as the lyrics could not be seen by me. An example of this kind of song is HERE. The style is flooding evangelical/charismatic churches. Even the Presbyterian Church I previously attended occasionally sang a Hillsong item (credits were on the screen).

It is ho-hum Christianity because the lyrics of the songs reflect the organisations that promote this music. It’s big business but, even more, it’s big on false doctrine, especially the word of faith doctrine.

2.1 Allegorical teaching

Then there was a second ho-hum rub on 5 October 2020. The leader of the service spoke of Jesus walking on the water towards the disciples in the boat (see Matt 14:22-33 NIV) and his calling to Peter to walk on the water towards him.

“Lord, if it’s you,” Peter replied, “tell me to come to you on the water.”

“Come,” he said.

Then Peter got down out of the boat, walked on the water and came toward Jesus. But when he saw the wind, he was afraid and, beginning to sink, cried out, “Lord, save me!” (Matt 14:28-30 NIV).

The leader (the pastor’s wife) invited the congregation to launch out in faith and walk on the water. That’s my paraphrase of what I heard her say. She used allegorical interpretation of this incident by adding content that was not in the text. That was enough for me so I quietly walked out of the service (using my walking stick).

The pastor phoned me on Monday to ask if I was OK. I proceeded to tell him why I left – the music and the allegorical teaching. He wished me well and said he was available for further contact if I needed it.

2.2 The dangers of allegorical interpretation

The term, ‘allegory’, is used only once in the New Testament at Galatians 4:24. Of this verse, A T Robertson comments:

Which things contain an allegory (atina estin allhgoroumena). Literally, “Which things are allegorized” (periphrastic present passive indicative of allhgorew). Late word (Strabo, Plutarch, Philo, Josephus, ecclesiastical writers), only here in N.T. The ancient writers used ainittomai to speak in riddles.

It is compounded of allo, another, and agoreuw, to speak, and so means speaking something else than what the language means, what Philo, the past-master in the use of allegory, calls the deeper spiritual sense.

Paul does not deny the actual historical narrative, but he simply uses it in an allegorical sense to illustrate his point for the benefit of his readers who are tempted to go under the burden of the law. He puts a secondary meaning on the narrative just as he uses tupikw in 1 Corinthians 10:11 of the narrative. We need not press unduly the difference between allegory and type, for each is used in a variety of ways. The allegory in one sense is a speaking parable like Bunyan’s Pilgrim’s Progress, the Prodigal Son in Luke 15:1 ff., the Good Shepherd in John 10:1 ff.

But allegory was also used by Philo and by Paul here for a secret meaning not obvious at first, one not in the mind of the writer, like our illustration which throws light on the point. Paul was familiar with this rabbinical method of exegesis (Rabbi Akiba, for instance, who found a mystical sense in every hook and crook of the Hebrew letters) and makes skilful use of that knowledge here.

Christian preachers in Alexandria early fell victims to Philo’s allegorical method and carried it to excess without regard to the plain sense of the narrative. That startling style of preaching survives yet to the discredit of sound preaching. Please observe that Paul says here that he is using allegory, not ordinary interpretation. It is not necessary to say that Paul intended his readers to believe that this allegory was designed by the narrative. He illustrates his point by it. For these are (autai gar eisin). Allegorically interpreted, he means. From Mount Sinai (apo orou Sina). Spoken from Mount Sinai. Bearing (gennwsa). Present active participle of gennaw, to beget of the male ( Matthew 1:1-16 ), more rarely as here to bear of the female ( Luke 1:13; Luke 1:57 ). Which is Hagar (hti estin Hagar). Allegorically interpreted (Word Pictures in the New Testament: Galatians 4:24).

Bauer, Arndt & Gingrich’s Greek Lexicon gives the meaning of allhgorew as ‘speak allegorically’ (1957:38).

So, the intent of allegorical preaching or teaching is to present an alternate sense – hidden meaning – to the plain meaning of the text.

These are some examples of allegorical interpretation that have been used in the history of the church. The Alexandrian early church fathers, Clement of Alexandria and Origen were well known for their use of allegorical interpretation.

2.2.1 Clement of Alexandria

He lived from AD 150-211/215 and was a Christian apologist and missionary theologian to the Greek speaking world. He was a leader and teacher in the school of Alexandria.[1]

In one of his publications that survives, he wrote:

Wherefore instruction, which reveals hidden things, is called illumination, as it is the teacher only who uncovers the lid of the ark, contrary to what the poets say, that “Zeus stops up the jar of good things, but opens that of evil…. Similarly David sings: “For, lo, Thou hast loved truth; the obscure and hidden things of wisdom hast Thou showed me.” “Day utters speech to day” (what is clearly written), “and night to night proclaims knowledge” (which is hidden in a mystic veil); “and there are no words or utterances whose voices shall not be heard” by God, who said, “Shall one do what is secret, and I shall not see him?” (The Stromata, or Miscellanies, Bk 5, Ch 10).

2.2.2 Philo

Philo - WikipediaGreek-speaking, Jewish philosopher, Philo (ca 15 BC – AD 50)[2] explained the need for allegorical/figurative interpretation:

If we only prefer the plain words and ignore the figurative interpretation, it will be like considering the body without the soul. ‘Just as we take care of the body because it is the abode of the soul, so also must we take care of the laws that are enacted in plain terms, but they are symbols of : for while they are regarded, those other things also will be more clearly understood, of which these laws are the symbols, and in the same way one will escape blame and accusation from men in general (The Works of Philo, On the Migration of Adam, 16. 93-94).

So, ‘the literal meaning is the body of the Bible, but the allegorical one is its soul; both must be kept in due consideration’ (Marco Rizzi 2019).

However, who chooses the ‘figurative interpretation’? It is the responsibility of the individual preacher-teacher to create the allegory. That’s what the leader did on 5 October 2020.

There is an interesting variation of allegorical preaching – postmodern deconstruction – that I address in my PhD dissertation: Crossan and the resurrection of Jesus : rethinking presuppositions, methods and models.

A couple examples from this thesis demonstrate that deconstruction provides a framework similar to that which Crossan promotes:

  • John Dominic Crossan stated of the race to the empty tomb by Peter and the Beloved Disciple (Jn 20), ‘I do not think that story was ever intended as a historical event, intended to describe something that first Easter morning. It always looked to me like a calculated and deliberate parable intended to exalt the authority of the Beloved Disciple over that of Peter’ (Crossan 2000:165).

· Stated another way, ‘Empty tomb stories and physical appearance stories are perfectly valid parables expressing that faith, akin in their own way to the Good Samaritan story’ (Crossan 1995:216).

Allegorical interpretation adds to the text, according to the preacher’s or leader’s imagination. Crossan’s deconstruction does something similar.

2.2.3 Origen

There is another leading light in the early church fathers who was renowned for his promotion of allegorical interpretation. He was Origen (ca AD 185-254), born in Phoenicia (now Lebanon) and he was ‘the most important theologian and biblical scholar of the early Greek church’. He was a student of Clement of Alexandria according to early church historian, Eusebius.[3]

3. Thrash music

My son is an excellent guitarist and he enjoys thrash’ Christian music. However, currently he’s learning classical guitar. He showed me the excellent lyrics of a ‘thrash’ song and I couldn’t believe how orthodox they were theologically. Then he played the song for me from a CD. I didn’t understand a word that was sung.

A friend invited me to his local Pentecostal church. The service began with thunderous music that caused me to jump in my seat. My friend’s wife was sitting beside me and noticed it, commenting the music does get a ‘bit’ loud.

During the service there was a fellow in the front row hopping and skipping for Jesus as he raised his hands in song. He was bouncing up and down.

I guess that puts a new meaning to ‘Shout with joy to the Lord, all the earth! Worship the Lord with gladness. Come before him, singing with joy’ (Ps 100:1-2 NLT).

4. Incompetent preachers

Leading ethicist, David Gushee, claims, ‘Many ministers play it safe in order to keep their jobs, or are simply not that talented’ (2016). Some of the worst mumbling I’ve heard behind microphones on the pulpit have come from preachers.

October Magazine Cover Photo of RunnersThere are far too many who mumble, don’t speak clearly and don’t project their voices. As a former radio DJ, TV newsreader, and long-term public speaker, I’m particularly sensitive to this issue. However, it could be easily overcome if preachers would join a Toastmasters’ or Rostrum club. When I started in radio in the 1960s, I joined a Rostrum club to assist my on-air presentations. It was recommended to me by the radio station’s manager. It was extremely helpful in assisting me to become more articulate on-air. However, here in Qld., Toastmasters has become the dominant public speaking club.

Every pastor-preacher should join one of these to help them become more fluent in expressing the Christian faith.

I saw this incompetence again with the preacher at the church I attended last Sunday. He spoke too quickly; his words were not articulated well, and he didn’t give the congregation much eye contact. He mumbled his words too often with slurring.

See my article: It’s a sin to bore God’s people with God’s Word.

5. Theological liberalism

If you want to cause people to exit the church, promote theological liberalism that denigrates Scripture and engages in eisegesis of the text. See my articles that address this topic:

For an example of the promotion of liberal Christianity by an Anglican liberal, see this recent article in On Line Opinion, an Anglican deacon from Perth WA, Australia: The battle of the narratives of origin.

My comment to him as OzSpen was:

Peter,
I enjoy your writing style, but your articulation smothers your presuppositions. In this short piece, you tried to ‘trick’ us into believing Darwin’s view of the origin of the universe was correct, affirmed by cosmologists. You might learn that in your liberal Anglican theological college but it takes more than a few sentences to unpack and then refute.

Then you want us to swallow your line that the veracity of the biblical texts would have been supported if we followed the Wellhausen research, Source Criticism (SC), of 1878. When will you get it? The Graf-Wellhausen SC Documentary Hypothesis (JEDP for authorship of the Pentateuch) has been refuted over and over but your liberal theology keeps on keeping on.

There is internal evidence in the Pentateuch to demonstrate Mosaic authorship and not the 4-source Graf-Wellhausen theory. Space does not permit my going into these, except to say that a serious fallacy of the Hypothesis is that it assumes no part of the Torah was written before the middle of the 9th century BC. This would be the time of the Exile of the Israelites. This flies in the face of archaeological evidence of the last century.

If you continue to promote this kind of theology in your diocese, don’t expect people to flock to your churches. Your views cause people to doubt the authority of Scripture. For a better assessment, I think it’s time for you to engage in discussions with the faculty of Moore College, Sydney, and examine how the Sydney diocese is preventing the kind of decline of your churches.

Posted by OzSpen, Thursday, 15 October 2020 8:16:39 AM

6. Conclusion

If you want to be bored with Christianity here is my recipe:

  • Sing contemporary Christian music that promotes unorthodox doctrines and is ‘unsingable’ by the congregation.
  • Engage in interpretation of the Bible that adds to the text, e.g. allegorical or postmodern deconstruction.
  • Put mumbling, incompetent preachers into the pulpit.
  • Then, play music that is so loud that the lyrics are blurred.

7.  Works consulted

Bauer, W; Arndt, W F & Gingrich, F W 1957. A Greek-English lexicon of the New Testament and other early Christian literature.[4] Chicago: The University of Chicago Press (limited edition licensed to Zondervan Publishing House).

Crossan, J D 1995. Who killed Jesus? Exposing the roots of anti-Semitism in the gospel story of the death of Jesus. New York, NY: HarperSanFrancisco.

Crossan, J D 2000. A long way from Tipperary: A memoir. New York, NY: HarperSanFrancisco.

Gushee, D P 2016. Religion News Service (online). ‘Why is Christianity declining?’ Available at: https://religionnews.com/2016/09/06/why-is-christianity-declining/ (Accessed 15 October 2020).

8.  Notes


[1] Encyclopaedia Britannica (2020. s.v. Clement of Alexandria).

[2] Dates obtained from Encyclopaedia Britannica (2020. s.v. Philo Judaeus).

[3] These details are from Encyclopaedia Britannica (2020. s.v. Origen).

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

Copyright © 2020 Spencer D. Gear. This document last updated at Date:16 October 2020.

A better way of dealing with Covid-19

‘How much have we been duped and sold down the river by the response?’

23313
[COVID-19 disease, image courtesy Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC)]

By Spencer D Gear PhD

This article appeared in On Line Opinion, 31 August 2020, A better way of dealing with Covid-19

I was waiting to see my local Dr this week and scrolled through Google News on my mobile. I was shocked to hear Sky News host, Alan Jones, state that ‘people are being swept up into a sense of hysteria and alarmism around COVID-19’ (10 August 2020).

Alan Jones slammed our political leaders for not showing leadership in the Covid-19 pandemic. He said more people died in Australia in 2019 from influenza than from Covid-19 in 2020.

And there was no closing of borders and wrecking the economy in all states and territories.

It would be misplaced to discard Jones’ views because you disagree with his worldview and place him in the ‘right wing’ category of commentators. It would be wrong-headed to do that as the evidence has not been presented.

1. People dying from flu – with a vaccine

His point was, ‘More people are dying from the flu with a vaccine than are dying from Coronavirus without a vaccine’. ‘Eighty per cent of Covid-19 cases are considered mild. But nearly 99% of Covid-19 patients experience the same symptoms – fever, dry cough, and fatigue – at different levels of severity’.

A check of the Australian statistics revealed a total of 705 influenza-associated deaths were notified between January and September 2019, compared to 417 in 2017. However, this figure reached 745 deaths in 2017, reflecting a later seasonal peak. These counts were not statistically significant in their differences (654-759 vs 692-800).

The 2017 season had moderate clinical severity based on ICU admissions among hospitalised cases’ (Global Biosecurity, Severity of the 2019 influenza season in Australia- a comparison between 2017 and 2019 H3N2 influenza seasons).

How do the flu deaths (with a vaccine) compare with Covid-19 deaths? ‘As at 3pm on 12 August 2020, a total of 22,127 cases of COVID-19 have been reported in Australia, including 352 deaths, and 12,774 have been reported as recovered from COVID-19’ (Australian Government: Department of Health).

There you have it: 705 influenza-related deaths in Australia in 2019. To date, there have been 313 Covid-19 related deaths. So, flu deaths (even with a vaccine) account for double the number of Covid-19 deaths.

However, in an attempt to deal with the alleged Covid-19 pandemic the …

2. The Australian economy has been wrecked

Image(image of queue outside Centrelink office, Townsville Qld., courtesy The Guardian: Australian edition, 24 March 2020)

 What has happened to our states and nation with closure of businesses, closure of borders, and quarantine? It has wrecked our economy, caused many to be placed in unemployment queues, and sent small and medium-size businesses to the wall.

Australia now has a national debt crisis. Federal Treasurer, Josh Frydenberg, presented an ‘optimistic’ deficit of $184.5 billion for the current financial year. That will take zillions of years to pay off.

The Commonwealth government has assigned almost $150 billion to prop up our economy. To this is added $35 billion from the States and $26 billion in tax cuts, which the Treasurer brought forward.

ABC News reported (20 July 2020), ‘For the financial year just ended, UBS’s chief economist George Tharenou is tipping a deficit of $81 billion and for the current year a massive $194 billion. The only way the Government can fund that is through raising debt’.

3. Lockdowns don’t work

Why don’t we listen to the research authorities such as the leading British medical journal, The Lancet, which concluded ‘the U.S.’s major weapons against the Coronavirus–––lockdowns and wide testing––do not reduce death rates?

See recent Lancet research, ‘A country level analysis measuring the impact of government actions, country preparedness and socioeconomic factors on COVID-19 mortality and related health outcomes’ (latest issue published 4 August 2020).

The Lancet study’s assessment was:

In our study, an increasing number of days to border closures was associated with a higher caseload, and more restrictive public health measures (such as a full lockdown compared to partial or curfew only measures) were associated with an increase in the number of recovered cases per million population. These findings suggest that more restrictive public health practices may indeed be associated with less transmission and better outcomes. However, in our analysis, full lockdowns and widespread COVID-19 testing were not associated with reductions in the number of critical cases or overall mortality.

The conclusion to this research was that the Queensland government’s approach of full lockdowns and widespread Covid-19 testing is not associated with a reduction of serious medical cases and deaths.

4. A better policy to follow

What’s the alternative? Is there a national policy for Australia to emulate? The model set by Taiwan, with a similar size population to Australia (23.8 million), is worth considering. It consisted of these elements:

clip_image002 There was quick action to control the country’s borders.

clip_image002[1] On January 20 the Central Epidemic Command Center (CECC) was activated to coordinate cooperation across government agencies and between government and businesses.

clip_image002[2] ‘The CECC also coordinates big data analytics, testing, quarantine and contact tracing’.

clip_image002[3] The national health insurance administration and immigration agency ‘worked together to identify suspected cases for COVID-19 testing, integrating their databases of citizens’ medical and travel history’.

clip_image002[4] Like Australia, since late March all new arrivals in Taiwan must quarantine for 14 days.

clip_image002[5] The CECC partnered with police, local officials and telecom companies to enforce the quarantine. This included support of mobile phone tracking.

clip_image002[6] Care for those quarantined was guaranteed by citizens who asked about the health of people in quarantine and basic daily supplies were provided, if required.

clip_image002[7]A 24-hour helpline was available, provided by Taiwan’s Center for Disease Control collaborated with two tech companies – HTC and LINE. This created a chatbox which allowed people to report their health status and get advice about the virus’.

clip_image002[8] Taiwan tests about 5,800 samples a day. A health worker distributes hand sanitiser at Ningxia Night Market, Taipei in late May.

clip_image002[9] To avoid the panic buying of face masks, the government rationed their distribution and ramped up production. In February, the government partnered with the Machine Tool & Accessory Builders’ Association and manufacturers, investing in new machinery to produce surgical face masks. In return, manufacturers have to sell the masks back to the government at an agreed price. This cost approximately $6.8 million (What coronavirus success of Taiwan and Iceland has in common, The Conversation, 29 June 2020).

Iceland has a much smaller population (341,600), but has implemented a strategy similar to Taiwan’s. As of 29 June 2020, there were 1,838 confirmed Covid-19 infections; 1,816 have fully recovered; and 10 deaths were recorded. The government took quick action through its National Crisis Coordination Center on January 31, 2020.

5. What was the outcome in Taiwan?

It is important to remember that Taiwan learned its strategy as a result of the SARS epidemic in 2003. Thus, it was more prepared for the Covid-19 outbreak than many countries.

As a result of these strict measures taken, there have been 487 Covid-19 cases; 462 recovered; and there have been only 7 deaths.

6. Why not listen to these professionals?

Professor Mark Woolhouse, an epidemiologist at the University of Edinburgh, is advising the British Government on Covid-19. He said that there is no proof that Covid-19 is transmitted from pupil to teacher in school anywhere in the world (with one exception in Australia). Therefore, ‘closing all schools completely during Britain’s lockdown might have been a mistake…. Statistics show 15 children and teenagers have died of coronavirus in England and Wales since March, 0.03 per cent of the total deaths’.

Australia is listening to the developers of a Covid-19 vaccine in the UK. ABC News, Brisbane (19 August 2020) reported Prime Minister Scott Morrison as saying the vaccine developed by Oxford University is ‘one of the most advanced and promising in the world’.

In addition, ‘the Australian Government has secured the rights to manufacture millions of doses of the potential vaccine — called ChAdOx1 nCoV-19 or AZD1222 — if trials are successful and it’s approved. Plus, it’ll be free’.

Why aren’t ScoMo and his cabinet listening to another Professor of theoretical epidemiology at Oxford University, Sunetra Gupta? She is a top disease expert who has urged Australia to abandon its ‘selfish’ and ‘self congratulatory’ lockdown tactics and embrace a Swedish-style herd immunity strategy to fight Covid-19.

Professor Gupta said the Scandinavian country of Sweden has ‘done quite well in terms of deaths’ – despite its record of 5,300 fatalities not comparing with Australia’s much lower level.

The Daily Mail (4 July 2020) reported: ‘Sweden holds the fifth-highest rate of deaths per capita in the world after the Nordic nation took its own path and declined to close its restaurants, bars, schools and shops to fight the spread of the virus.

Sweden took the soft line, as opposed to Australia’s tough stand. The Daily Mail provided a photograph of Swedish locals lapping up the sun next to a social distancing sign which they ignored. The Swedes were sunbaking at Malmo, Sweden in June. They took their own liaise-faire line, in spite of recommended discipline. Could this have as much to do with the Swedish worldview of liberty than to abiding by the recommended Covid-19 course of action?

While the Swedes ignored their government’s recommendations – with no fines for infractions – Australia’s shopping precincts of shopping centres, restaurants, pubs, clubs and streets remain deserted. The tourism industry around Australia is ruined by the strict cross-border restrictions.

Alan Jones commented:

Red-Glass ‘No proper checks and balances to lockdown measures’ (President of the Rule of Law Institute of Australia, Robin Speed).

Red-Glass ‘Health advice should have been released months ago regarding lockdowns, keeping children out of school, or shutting businesses’.

Red-Glass You can’t travel more than 5km from home for essential items (Melbourne); curfew is from 8pm-5am; limiting numbers in restaurants. Shut the borders’. Where’s the evidence to justify these actions?’

‘I’m telling you there is none’ (Jones).

Red-Glass ‘The central issue is, “How much have we been duped and sold down the river by the response?”’ (Alan Jones).

7. Conclusion

It took a shock jock to alert me to these facts – yes, facts – about the Covid-19 virus:

snowflake-light-green-small We have been tricked into allowing unelected officials – such as Queensland’s chief health officer, Dr Jeanette Young – to influence government policy. This policy includes:

snowflake-light-green-small Closing state borders, restricting numbers of people in restaurants, social distancing regulation, and school closures.

snowflake-light-green-small These measures were taken with the view of restricting Covid-19 deaths. I didn’t read public evidence to support these policies.

snowflake-light-green-small There are many infectious diseases for which there is no vaccine and these are controlled in the community, e.g. Dengue, HIV/AIDS, Malaria, Hookworm infection, Venezuelan haemorrhagic fever, Chistosomiasis, and more.

snowflake-light-green-small The whole suite of strategies used to prevent Covid-19 from spreading across Australia should have been released months ago to provide the evidence to implement these policies.

See the Alan Jones’ commentary: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=scZJFQCYEFA

Copyright © 2020 Spencer D. Gear. This document last updated at Date: 31 August 2020.

Abstract Art Line Art Clip Art, PNG, 2332x1444px, Abstract Art, Color, Line  Art, Public Domain, RoyaltyfreeAbstract Art Line Art Clip Art, PNG, 2332x1444px, Abstract Art, Color, Line  Art, Public Domain, Royaltyfree

2 Chronicles 7:14 is not for Christians

lu1089227q91v_tmp_86f62d0af1e01f17

(Image courtesy Cupcakegirl10)

By Spencer D Gear PhD

It is common among some evangelical Protestants (including Pentecostals) to use this verse to call Christians back to humility and prayer, turn from their sinfulness, and God will hear and bless their countries. He will forgive their sin and heal their land. It is used as a verse to call believers to the biblical disciplines that should lead to revival.

1. A call to revival

Here are a few online examples:

lu1089227q91v_tmp_1aa640af0b3c26cb Steve Gaines was president of the Southern Baptist Convention and pastor of Memphis area Bellevue Baptist Church in 2017. He acknowledged that the context indicated the message was for the Israelites but added:

‘Just because 2 Chronicles 7:14 was not written to Americans does not mean that Christians in America cannot benefit from its admonitions by obeying its precepts. Again, “all Scripture is profitable.” The warnings in the Old Testament “were written for our instruction.”

Many Christians in America are praying for a fresh spiritual awakening and revival among those of us who know Jesus Christ. I for one am praying for American Christians to embrace genuine humility, hunger and holiness. I am also praying that the Lord will graciously see fit to hear from heaven, forgive our sin, and send His much-needed healing (An appeal to rightly apply 2 Chronicles 7:14).

lu1089227q91v_tmp_1aa640af0b3c26cb[1] Donald Dueck wrote in April 2020:

Personally I believe this is a promise to us as well as it was to the Israelites and so I believe it is still relevant. In my personal life as a believer I have received many more blessings from God during times I was actively seeking God’s will then at times when I didn’t really care about what God wanted from me. I believe it applies to nations as well as to individuals. This “healing” relates to all types of problems being solved and is not limited to healing from a physical sickness (Quora).

lu1089227q91v_tmp_1aa640af0b3c26cb[2] A sermon by Dennis Lee:

Now consider God’s promise to the church and His people.

“If my people, who are called by my name, will humble themselves and pray and seek my face and turn from their wicked ways, then I will hear from heaven, and I will forgive their sin and will heal their land.” (2 Chronicles 7:14) [A special message: Our only hope, Sermon Central, 22 July 2020.]

lu1089227q91v_tmp_1aa640af0b3c26cb[3] Rev. Andrew B Natarajan is a Methodist preacher:

Today we are going to mediate on the theme ‘Welfare of a Nation’ based on the scriptural verse 2 Chronicles 7:14…. In this passage, the Lord spoke to Solomon about the cause and effect of loss and restoration of the welfare of a nation…. The welfare of a nation is depended (sic) on GOD-FEARING people…. Though, primarily the words “My People and their Land” refer to the People of Israel and the land of Israel. The promises are given to people of Israel is also promise given to the “people of New Israel” I.e., you and I (sic). (Welfare of a nation).

When I blog on Christian forums such as Christianity Board, Christian forums.com and Christian forums.net I sometimes encounter Christians who want to ignore the immediate context of the verse. They apply it to their nations, particularly the USA.

lu1089227q91v_tmp_1aa640af0b3c26cb[4] Pearl said: “He is speaking to the ‘people who are called by (his) name’ so that’s us” (Christianity Board, ‘God says…’ #3).

lu1089227q91v_tmp_1aa640af0b3c26cb[5] Pearl, when I lived in California I used to go to The Church On The Way. Wednesday evenings we would pray for the nation, and our start time was 7:14 pm’ (Christianity Board, God says… CharismaticLady#4).

lu1089227q91v_tmp_1aa640af0b3c26cb[6] 2 Chronicles 7:11-18 and especially Verse 14, is one of the most misused passages of scripture today, by especially preachers. They are misleading new and immature true believers and weakening their true and rightful faith in Christ. Let me explain it a bit…
‘It really does not apply to us (as believers) today in its original context and setting. The context in which it was written was after Solomon dedicated the temple. Then YHWH spoke to him and to his people concerning YHWH’s presence in the Temple and what is will do in the future. It was both a blessing and warnings’ (
APAK #11)

lu1089227q91v_tmp_1aa640af0b3c26cb[7] Ok then so are we are not to humble ourselves, are we not to pray, are we not to turn from our sin, are we not to seek his face? I don’t think I would go with that so I’ll continue to believe that the passage is for me’ (Pearl#13).

2. Original audience

Who were the people to whom 2 Chron 7:14 was addressed? This is the immediate context:

11 Thus Solomon finished the house of the Lord and the king’s house. All that Solomon had planned to do in the house of the Lord and in his own house he successfully accomplished. 12 Then the Lord appeared to Solomon in the night and said to him: “I have heard your prayer and have chosen this place for myself as a house of sacrifice. 13 When I shut up the heavens so that there is no rain, or command the locust to devour the land, or send pestilence among my people, 14 if my people who are called by my name humble themselves, and pray and seek my face and turn from their wicked ways, then I will hear from heaven and will forgive their sin and heal their land (2 Chron 7:11-14 ESV).?

So King Solomon finishing the ‘house of the Lord and the king’s house’ tells us exactly who the recipients of 2 Chron 7:14 are – the ones over whom Solomon was king.

This is stated clearly in the context: ‘When all the people of Israel saw the fire come down and the glory of the Lord on the temple, they bowed down with their faces to the ground on the pavement and worshipped and gave thanks to the Lord, saying, “For he is good, for his steadfast love endures for ever’ (2 Chron 7:3 ESV).

3. Is there an application for our nations today?

We have seen 2 Chron 7:14 was not a promise for today’s Christians but for the Israelites. We violate Scripture when we reef it out of context to make it mean what it does not mean.

However, some people have challenged my application of 2 Chronicles to the situation in America (see examples above).

But 1 Corinthians 10 and Romans 15:4 instruct us that we can learn lessons from the Old Testament Scriptures for the Christian life and church age. “For whatever was written in former days was written for our instruction, that through endurance and through the encouragement of the Scriptures we might have hope ” (Romans 15:4).

“For I want you to know, brothers, that our fathers were all under the cloud, and all passed through the sea, 2 and all were baptized into Moses in the cloud and in the sea, 3 and all ate the same spiritual food, 4 and all drank the same spiritual drink. For they drank from the spiritual Rock that followed them, and the Rock was Christ. 5 Nevertheless, with most of them God was not pleased, for they were overthrown in the wilderness.

6 Now these things took place as examples for us, that we might not desire evil as they did. 7 Do not be idolaters as some of them were; as it is written, “The people sat down to eat and drink and rose up to play.” 8 We must not indulge in sexual immorality as some of them did, and twenty-three thousand fell in a single day. 9 We must not put Christ to the test, as some of them did and were destroyed by serpents, 10 nor grumble, as some of them did and were destroyed by the Destroyer. 11 Now these things happened to them as an example, but they were written down for our instruction, on whom the end of the ages has come (1 Corinthians 10:1-11).

Though the law of Moses is not the believer’s rule of life, it is an important source of instruction for the Christian life. We draw spiritual lessons from it. We learn from its examples.

For an excellent explanation of 2 Chron 7:14 in context see: What is the meaning of 2 Chronicles 7:14?

4. Conclusion

When 2 Timothy 3:16-17 (ESV) was written, to which Scripture did it refer? ‘All Scripture is breathed out by God and profitable for teaching, for reproof, for correction, and for training in righteousness, that the man of God may be competent, equipped for every good work’.

Since the NT was in the process of being written, the OT could be the only text to which this ‘Scripture’ applies. Therefore, on the authority of the NT, the OT is ‘profitable for teaching, for reproof, for correction, and for training in righteousness’ so that the messengers of God would be equipped for their work.

Based on that kind of explanation, it would be easy to conclude that 2 Chron 7:14 is profitable for teaching true believers today.

This would be a false assumption as 2 Chron 7:14 in context applies primarily to this situation: ‘On the twenty-third day of the seventh month he [King Solomon] sent the people away to their homes, joyful and glad of heart for the prosperity that the Lord had granted to David and to Solomon and to Israel his people’ (2 Chron 7:10 ESV). The immediate context for v. 14 is v. 13 which states: ‘When I shut up the heavens so that there is no rain, or command the locust to devour the land, or send pestilence among my people’.

It is a mistake of biblical interpretation to make a text mean what it does not state in context. We are allowed to make many applications of teaching, reproof, correction, and training in righteousness from 2 Chron 7:14.

However,

We must not confuse application with interpretation.

Copyright © 2020 Spencer D. Gear. This document last updated at Date: 25 August 2020.

The gift of tongues is ‘jibberish’

(Photo worship service at Dream City Church, affiliated to the Assemblies of God USA, in 2007, in Phoenix, United States, courtesy Wikipedia)

A contemporary worship team leads the congregation in praise and worship

By Spencer D Gear PhD

This is a fairly standard approach by those who believe in the cessation of the gifts of the Spirit:

In 1 Cor 14 the tongues Paul is talking about are known understandable earthly languages…”many kinds of voices in the world”. Your bias does not allow you to see this.


For example:
1 Cor 14:8-9 “For if the trumpet give an uncertain sound, who shall prepare himself to the battle? So likewise ye, except ye utter by the tongue words easy to be understood, how shall it be known what is spoken? for ye shall speak into the air.”
If someone blows random notes on a trumpet (blows jibberish) then no knows what is going on causing mass confusion. Therefore what is blown MUST BE UNDERSTOOD so people know what is going on. Likewise a tongue must be spoken in a language the hearer CAN UNDERSTAND or it is meaningless jibberish to the hearer, the speaker is speaking to the air, no edification takes place.
[1]

How should I respond?[2] These are only a few examples from the early church (after the apostles). A number of others could be cited.

Let the early church fathers speak

I suggest you go searching in the early church fathers to determine if miracles (including the gift of tongues) continued. Here’s a starter:

snowflake-light-green-small Irenaeus (ca. AD 130-202) was a pupil of Polycarp, who was a disciple of the apostle John. He wrote in his book “Against Heresies”, Book V, ch 6.1:

“In like manner we do also hear many brethren in the Church, who possess prophetic gifts, and who through the Spirit speak all kinds of languages, and bring to light for the general benefit the hidden things of men, and declare the mysteries of God, whom also the apostle terms spiritual, they being spiritual because they partake of the Spirit, and not because their flesh has been stripped off and taken away, and because they have become purely spiritual.”

snowflake-light-green-small Chrysostom (ca. AD 347-407), Archbishop of Constantinople, wrote:

“Whoever was baptized [in apostolic times] he straightway spoke with tongues and not with tongues only, but many also prophesied, and some also performed many other wonderful works. For since on their coming over from idols, without any clear knowledge or training in the ancient Scriptures, they at once on their baptism received the Spirit, yet the Spirit they saw not, for It is invisible; therefore God’s grace bestowed some sensible proof of that energy. And one straightway spoke in the Persian, another in the Roman, another in the Indian, another in some other such tongue: and this made manifest to them that were without that it is the Spirit in the very person speaking”….

For as the Apostles themselves had received this sign first, so also the faithful went on receiving it, I mean, the gift of tongues; yet not this only but also many others: inasmuch as many used even to raise the dead and to cast out devils and to perform many other such wonders: and they had gifts too, some less, and some more. But more abundant than all was the gift of tongues among them: and this became to them a cause of division…. (Chrysostom, 1 Corinthians 12, Homily XXIX).

snowflake-light-green-small In the early writings of St Augustine (AD 354-430), Bishop of Hippo, he wrote:

In the earliest times, the Holy Ghost fell upon them that believed: and they spoke with tongues, which they had not learned, as the Spirit gave them utterance. Acts 2:4 These were signs adapted to the time. For there behooved to be that betokening of the Holy Spirit in all tongues, to show that the Gospel of God was to run through all tongues over the whole earth. That thing was done for a betokening, and it passed away (Homily 6.10 on the First Epistle of John).

snowflake-light-green-small However, in his later ministry he had a change of heart with regard to his understanding of Scripture and its manifestation in his time. In The City of God, he had a chapter titled, ‘That All the Miracles Which are Done by Means of the Martyrs in the Name of Christ Testify to that Faith Which the Martyrs Had in Christ‘ (Book XXII, ch 9). Here he documents the miracles happening in his day. In the same Book he stated,

‘For men whom they knew to be acquainted with only one, or at most two languages, they marvelled to hear speaking in the tongues of all nations’ (Book XXII, ch 5)….

For the canon of the sacred writings, which behooved to be closed, causes those to be everywhere recited, and to sink into the memory of all the congregations; but these modern miracles are scarcely known even to the whole population in the midst of which they are wrought, and at the best are confined to one spot. For frequently they are known only to a very few persons, while all the rest are ignorant of them, especially if the state is a large one; and when they are reported to other persons in other localities, there is no sufficient authority to give them prompt and unwavering credence, although they are reported to the faithful by the faithful.

The miracle which was wrought at Milan when I was there, and by which a blind man was restored to sight, could come to the knowledge of many; for not only is the city a large one, but also the emperor was there at the time, and the occurrence was witnessed by an immense concourse of people that had gathered to the bodies of the martyrs Protasius and Gervasius, which had long lain concealed and unknown, but were now made known to the bishop Ambrose in a dream, and discovered by him. By virtue of these remains the darkness of that blind man was scattered, and he saw the light of day (The City of God, Book XXII, ch 8).

Augustine, Bishop of Hippo (northern Africa), one of the four great fathers of the Latin Church and considered the greatest of them all said: “We still do what the apostles did when they laid hands on the Samaritans and called down the Holy Spirit on them in the laying-on of hands. It is expected that converts should speak with new tongues” (Comments on Acts 8:17-19).[3]

Notes


[1] Ernest T Bass#187. Christian Forums.net, ‘Speaking in Tongues’, true vs false (online), 23 August 2020. Available at: https://christianforums.net/Fellowship/index.php?threads/speaking-in-tongues-true-vs-false.79801/page-10 (Accessed 24 August 2020).

[2] Ibid., OzSpen#201.

[3] Cited in Grace Christian Center n.d. Speaking in tongues (online). Available at: http://doorofgrace.org/images/pdf/SITpamphlet.pdf (Accessed 24 August 2020). I have not been able to locate the primary source of this quote in Augustine’s writings.

Copyright © 2020 Spencer D. Gear. This document last updated at Date: 24 August 2020.

Genesis 6:4: Nephilim

Demons having sex with human beings?

(The Sons of God Saw the Daughters of Men That They Were Fair, sculpture by Daniel Chester French, image courtesy Wikipedia)

By Spencer D Gear PhD

The meaning of ‘Nephilim’ has caused quite a bit of theological uneasiness down through the centuries.

William Cook stated the issue well:

The interpretation of Genesis 6:1–4 is difficult and controversial. The debate centers on the interpretation of the phrase “sons of God.” Who are they? The crucial question concerns whether the phrase refers to human beings or to spiritual beings (demons) [Cook 2020].

I refer particularly to Genesis 6:4 (ESV), ‘The Nephilim[1] were on the earth in those days, and also afterwards, when the sons of God came in to the daughters of man and they bore children to them. These were the mighty men who were of old, the men of renown’.

The Geneva Bible (1599), Douay-Rheims Bible (1609/1899), KJV (1611),The Good News Bible (1992), NKJV (1982), Wycliffe Bible (2001) unfortunately gave the primary meaning as ‘giants’. I say, ‘unfortunately’ because that diverts readers away from attempting to discover the essential meaning of the Nephilim.

Most contemporary English translations leave the Nephilim in its transliterated form as the meaning is somewhat obscure.

A few issues emerge from this verse:

clip_image002Who are the Nephilim?

A NET Bible footnote states:

The Hebrew word ????????? (nefilim) is simply transliterated here, because the meaning of the term is uncertain. According to the text, the Nephilim became mighty warriors and gained great fame in the antediluvian world. The text may imply they were the offspring of the sexual union of the “sons of God” and the “daughters of humankind” (v. 2), but it stops short of saying this in a direct manner. The Nephilim are mentioned in the OT only here and in Num 13:33, where it is stated that they were giants (thus KJV, TEV, NLT “giants” here).[2]

clip_image002[1]Who are the sons of God?

clip_image002[2]Are the ‘daughters of man’ female human beings?

clip_image002[3]Who are ‘the mighty men … the men of renown’?

1. The Nephilim

Adam Clarke stated that the Nephilim referred to those who

fell… Those who had apostatized or fallen from the true religion…. the word when properly understood makes a very just distinction between the sons of men and the sons of God; those were the nephilim, the fallen earth-born men, with the animal and devilish mind.[3]

Regarding the translation of ‘giants’ (KJV), Clarke’s exegesis was that the translation as ‘giants [was] without having any reference to the meaning of the word, which we generally conceive to signify persons of enormous stature’.

This is a contemporary interpretation that demands a response. It’s from Bill Perkins of Compass International (2020):

There was one specific and creepy sin that God pointed out:

… that the sons of God [angels] saw that the daughters of men were beautiful; and they took wives for themselves, whomever they chose. Gen. 6:2

The “Sons of God,” referring to angelic spirits (Job 1:6), took the form of humans (Heb. 13:2) and began mating with earthly humans and producing children. Ostensibly, the children had their human DNA compromised.

The Nephilim were on the earth in those days, and also afterward, when the sons of God came in to the daughters of men, and they bore children to them. Those were the mighty men who were of old, men of renown. Gen. 6:4 (Perkins 2020).

Perkins’ interpretation seems to be a throw-back to his view of what the preceding verses mean. If one has the premonition of angelic marriages, then ‘sons of God’ is a read phrase to flow in with that interpretation.

Verse 4 is not that difficult to interpret. The nephilim were the front-line men who stirred up fear as the only other OT passage that uses nephilim indicates: ‘And there we saw the Nephilim (the sons of Anak, who come from the Nephilim), and we seemed to ourselves like grasshoppers, and so we seemed to them’ (Num 13:33 ESV). The men of Anakim were of great stature.

Therefore, Kaiser Jr., et. al. (1996:108) conclude, ‘The meaning of nepilim/gibb?r?m is not “giants,” but something more like “princes,” “aristocrats” or “great men”’. Leupold favours an ‘awe-inspiring’ translation such as:

Following the Hebrew root naphal is by far the simplest. One meaning of this verb is to “fall upon = attack”: see Jer 48:32; Josh 11:7; and without any preposition, Job 1:15. This verb could readily yield this noun in the sense of “attackers,” “robbers,” “bandits.” So we have the thought: So we have the thought: the descendants of the godly patriarchs abandoned their spiritual heritage (v.1, 2) so that God was moved to determine upon their destruction (v.3); and there were also violent attackers and robbers abroad in those days (v.4) [Leupold 1942:258].

Luther translated nephilim as ‘tyrants’ (in Leupold 1942:258).

2. Were the ‘sons of God’ angels?

So, are the ‘sons of God’ really angels who had sex with human beings, according to Gen 6:4? In addition to the challenge of the meaning of nephilim, to what does the ‘sons of God’ refer?

The view of Jewish ancient historian, Josephus, was:

For many angels[4] of God accompanied with women, and begat sons that proved unjust, and despisers of all that was good, on account of the confidence they had in their own strength; for the tradition is, that these men did what resembled the acts of those whom the Grecians call giants (Antiquities 1.3.1).

There are times in Scripture when ‘sons of God’ refer to angels (Job 1:6; 2:1; 38:7; Daniel 3:25; Psalm 29:1; 89:7). Perkins concludes that is the meaning here.

Cook’s (2020) conclusion of the meaning of ‘sons of God’ is that

in light of examples we see in the New Testament [Mark 5:1-20; John 13:27] it seems best to assume that these evil spirits took possession of the bodies of wicked men and used them for their own sinful purposes.

The New Testament gives us clear examples of demons—and even Satan himself—indwelling human beings and causing them to act in horrific ways.

However, he notes the oldest and most widely held interpretation is that ‘sons of God’ refers to demons (fallen angels). This interpretation was accepted by ancient Judaism and the early church.

Justin Martyr (c. 100 – c. 165)[5] wrote:

Justin Martyr (image courtesy Wikipedia)

Justin Martyr.jpg

The angels transgressed this appointment, and were captivated by love of women, and begot children who are those that are called demons; and besides, they afterwards subdued the human race to themselves, partly by magical writings, and partly by fears and the punishments they occasioned, and partly by teaching them to offer sacrifices, and incense, and libations, of which things they stood in need after they were enslaved by lustful passions; and among men they sowed murders, wars, adulteries, intemperate deeds, and all wickedness (Second Apology, ch 5).

I find it strange exegesis of the passage that angels have sex with human beings and produce demons, especially when the context of 6:1-4 makes it clear who the ‘sons’ are. They are the Sethites from chapter 5, among whom were godly men such as Enoch (Gen 6:22) and men like Lamech who worshipped God, even when the going was tough (Gen 4:26).

It is appropriate these men should be called ‘sons of God’, a designation given to true followers of the Lord God (cf Deut 32:5; Hos 1:10). In this latter verse, there is a stronger emphasis:

Yet the number of the Israelites
will be like the sand of the sea,
which cannot be measured or counted.
And in the place where they were told:
You are not my people,
they will be called: Sons of the living God (Hos 1:10 CSB).

So, the description, ‘sons of God’, refers to those who truly follow the Lord God.

Yes, ‘sons of God’ is used to refer to angels in Job 1:6; 2:1; 38:7 and Dan 3:25. It is erroneous to state that in the OT ‘sons of God’ refers only to angels. As the above examples indicate, that is not so.

Hebrew, like English, can use the one word with several different meanings. Take the English, ‘wave’: I can move my hand back and forth to wave goodbye; the trees waved in the wind; my hair has waves in it (curly); he rides the monster waves at Hawaii on his surfboard, and a wave of sadness swept over me.

3. Did the angels have sex with each other?

No, the ‘sons of God’ were not angels but godly Sethites and others. They were godly men.

4. Who are the mighty men?

It is regrettable the KJV and some other translations read ‘giants’ for nephilim as the word refers to ‘the mighty men who were of old, the men of renown’. Angelic marriages are not indicated to produce this offspring.

The mistranslated ‘giants’ are villains – robbers, attackers, bandits, even tyrants (Luther).

5. Conclusion

clip_image003The nephilim were the conquering men who stirred up fear. They were the bandits who were mighty men. However, the exact meaning of the term is not yet fully understood by scholars and others.

clip_image003[1]The sons of God were not angels but were godly men, probably Sethites.

clip_image003[2]The godly men had sex with women who produced ‘mighty men … men of renown’.

6.  Appendix

(Image Chester Beatty XII, Greek manuscript of the Book of Enoch, 4th century, courtesy Wikipedia)

As I was concluding this article, I became aware of recent research by Cavan W. Concannon, Associate Professor of Religion, University of Southern California – a scholar of early Christianity. In The Conversation (12 August 2020) is found the article, The belief that demons have sex with humans runs deep in Christian and Jewish traditions. He cites ancient and contemporary supporters of this view, including Tertullian of Carthage who, in the third century BC, cited the “Book of the Watchers”[also called Book of Enoch, 1 Enoch] an apocalyptic vision written in the name of a mysterious character named Enoch mentioned in Genesis’.

Tertullian wrote: ‘I am aware that the Scripture of Enoch, which has assigned this order (of action) to angels, is not received by some, because it is not admitted into the Jewish canon either’ (On Apparel of  Women, 1.3). Further,

And for a very long while wickedness extended and spread, and reached and laid hold upon the whole race of mankind, until a very small seed of righteousness remained among them and illicit unions took place upon the earth, since angels were united with the daughters of the race of mankind; and they bore to them sons who for their exceeding greatness were called giants. And the angels brought as presents to their wives teachings of wickedness (Irenaeus, Demonstration of the Apostolic Preaching, 18)

It is evident that Tertullian and other early church fathers relied heavily on a book from the Pseudepigrapha – false identification of the author – Book of Enoch (chs 6-9) for their teaching on the interpretation of Gen 6:4.

Should it be included in Scripture? See:

7.  Works consulted

Cook, W F 2020. The Gospel Coalition, U.S. edition (Online). Who are the sons of God in Genesis 6? 6 January. Available at: https://www.thegospelcoalition.org/article/who-are-sons-of-god-genesis-6/ (Accessed 7 August 2020).

Josephus F 2017. Project Gutenberg The antiquities of the Jews (online), W Whiston (ed), 2017. Available at: https://www.gutenberg.org/files/2848/2848-h/2848-h.htm#linknote-11 (Accessed 14 August 2020).

Kaiser Jr, W C, Davids, P H, Bruce, F F & Brauch, M T 1996. Hard sayings of the Bible. Downers Grove, Illinois: InterVarsity Press.

Leupold H C 1942. Exposition of Genesis 1942. The Wartburg Press, also London: Evangelical Press. Also available online at CCEL at: http://www.ccel.org/ccel/leupold/genesis.i.html (Accessed 14 August 2020).

Perkins, B 2020. Compass International (online), The return of the Nephilim, 28 July. Available at: https://compass.org/the-return-of-the-nephilim/ (Accessed 7 August 2020).

8.  Notes

[1] The ESV has the footnote, ‘Or giants’.

[2] Available at: https://www.biblegateway.com/passage/?search=Gen+6%3A4&version=NET (Accessed 13 August 2020).

[3] Clarke’s Commentary on the Bible: Genesis 6:4. Bible Hub. Available at: https://biblehub.com/niv/genesis/6-4.htm (Accessed 7 August 2020).

[4] At this point in the translation by William Whiston has the note: ‘This notion, that the fallen angels were, in some sense, the fathers of the old giants, was the constant opinion of antiquity’.

[5] Dates from Encyclopaedia Britannica (2020. s.v. Justin Martyr). Available at: https://www.britannica.com/biography/Saint-Justin-Martyr (Accessed 7 August 2020).

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Copyright © 2020 Spencer D. Gear. This document last updated at Date: 15 August 2020.

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