‘Inclusiveness’ that prostitutes the English language

Image result for clipart Inclusiveness

By Spencer D Gear PhD

The debate over Israel Folau’s statement about sinners, including homosexuals, has led to a prostitution of the English language. I use prostitution in the sense of ‘the act or process of misusing and wasting’ (Macmillan Dictionary 2019. s.v. prostitution).

Read the words of …

1. Rugby League & Union officials who violate the meaning of inclusive

Rugby ball vector clip artPeter Beattie, former chairman of the Australian Rugby League Commission (ARLC) told Fox Sports (5 June 2019):

“Our position on Israel Folau remains the same,” Beattie told AAP.

“We are an inclusive game with respect for all. Israel has social media posts online that go against what our game stands for.

“As it stands, he will not be considered for registration. What Israel chooses to do in relation to his social media posts and his faith is a matter for him”.

Rugby ball vector clip artTwo days after he was announced as the new ARLC chairman, Mr Peter V’landys AM, violated the meaning of inclusiveness with this statement:

The inclusivity of rugby league changed his life as an immigrant child and he has zero tolerance for Folau’s anti-gay messaging.

Former chairman Peter Beattie had previously shut down an attempt by the sacked rugby union star to resume his NRL career, and V’landys has supported the move.

“The game is inclusive. Israel’s comments are not inclusive,” V’landys said (news.com.au, 1 November 2019).

V’landys was adamant: ‘I think we need to be more inclusive and I think the greatest asset our game has is it is very inclusive’.

Rugby ball vector clip artBeattie and V’landys repeated the assessment of Rachel Castle, CEO of Rugby Australia, ‘”Inclusion means inclusion for everybody, and we’ve got portions of our community who were very hurt and upset by Israel’s comments, hence why we are in this situation’ (The Sydney Morning Herald, 16 August 2019).

‘Inclusion means inclusion for everybody’. Really? That’s with the exception of being a Christian sportsman who posts on external social media with a warning from the Christian Scriptures:

clip_image002

(Photo: The image Folau posted on Instagram was accompanied by direct scripture quotes. (Supplied: @izzyfolau), courtesy abc.net.au, 11 May 2019)

Here are three sports’ leaders trumpeting inclusiveness but who have adopted a view of adding an exclusion to the meaning of inclusion. How do we know?

2. The meaning of ‘inclusive’

Dictionary clipartsThe Collins Dictionary (2019. s.v. inclusive) defines the adjective ‘inclusive’ as: ‘If you describe a group or organization as inclusive, you mean that it allows all kinds of people to belong to it, rather than just one kind of person’.

Dictionary clipartsLexico.com (Oxford dictionary) (2019. s.v. inclusive) provides the meaning as: ‘Not excluding any section of society or any party involved in something’.

Dictionary clipartsThe MacMillan Dictionary (2019. s.v. inclusive) describes inclusive as ‘deliberately aiming to involve all types of people’.

Therefore, to have an inclusive policy for Rugby League and Rugby Union teams means ‘all kinds of people’ should belong to them and not ‘just one kind of person’. It involves all types of people, including the secular, various religions (including Christianity), and those with no religion.

To require that a certain religion not express itself in activities outside of the sporting club – especially external to practice and playing games – is to violate the definition of ‘inclusive’. It is another issue if this anti-religious activity is written into the sports’ person’s contract.

Making an exclusion as part of the understanding of inclusion seems to be part of the definition for Peter Beattie, Peter V’landys and Rachel Castle.

3. Inclusive means excluding Christianity

If ‘inclusion’ is ‘for everybody’, why is it not for Folau’s Christianity? Castle, Beattie and V’landys have thus caused ‘inclusion’ to incorporate an exclusion. If Castle agreed with the Collins Dictionary, she would not be in the challenge of the Folau contract. That’s because Christianity must be a part of an inclusive rugby union code.

4. Conclusion

With both the NRL and ARU, it seems to me that we have leaders of the organisations that have written a new, idiosyncratic definition of ‘inclusion’ to exclude those whose beliefs (expressed externally) are those with which they disagree.

I’m of the view, based on the definition of ‘inclusive’, that both the NRL and ARU should have this policy with regard to all players: ‘We welcome players of all religious and non-religious perspectives. What you do off the field is your business, even if it is in public. You will never be excluded from our sports because of your religion’.

The prostitution of the English language by these sporting leaders has required that inclusive incorporate an exclusion – the message of Christianity.

They exclude those whose world views differ from theirs. It’s time for them to get back to the common explanation of ‘inclusive’ that excludes nobody.

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

Have politics changed ScoMo’s Christianity?

‘I’m not running for Pope’

The Honourable Scott Morrison MP

Scott Morrison 2014 (cropped 2).jpg

30th Prime Minister of Australia

By Spencer D Gear PhD

This article was first published by On Line Opinion, 6 November 2019.

What is Prime Minister, Scott Morrison, telling us about his Christianity with these statements?

Flower8 Before becoming PM, he did not support same-sex marriage. What about now?

Flower8 When interviewed by Leigh Sales, he had an opportunity to tell those watching what his views were on the existence and nature of God. He pushed that one aside with a ‘love’ view.

Flower8 He’s a Christian who doesn’t mix religion and politics.

Which God is he serving? He and his family attend Horizon Church, Sutherland Shire, NSW, Australia. This is a Pentecostal congregation associated with the Australian Christian Churches, affiliated with the Assemblies of God worldwide.

He allowed the mass media into the worship service to see him with his wife at Easter Sunday service 2019. ScoMo was praising God with hand raised. This is a common practice in Pentecostal and other evangelical church worship, supported by Bible passages such as Psalm 63:4.

This article will examine how Morrison’s Christianity integrates in public with his politics.

1. Prime Minister’s moral views

When he was treasurer in 2016, he did not support change from traditional to same-sex marriage. This is in agreement with Jesus’ endorsement of heterosexual relationships:

‘‘’Haven’t you read,’ he replied, ‘that at the beginning the Creator “made them male and female,” and said, “For this reason a man will leave his father and mother and be united to his wife, and the two will become one flesh”? So they are no longer two, but one flesh’ (Matthew 19:4-6).

What about abortion?

The context of the recent abortion debate in NSW was when the PM acknowledged it was a State issue where the MPs and MLCs were granted a conscience vote. He would not make it a Commonwealth issue but acknowledged

I have what I would describe as conservative views on this issue as people know I have on other issues. That’s really all I think I need to say”.

That statement was made after he became PM.

2. When new moral views become law

Now that homosexual marriage has been legalised in Australia, what is Morrison’s view? Notice how he dodges the journalist’s questions:

Mr Morrison abstained from voting for marriage equality when it passed the House of Representatives in 2018, and he voted “no” in the national survey.

When asked if he is still personally opposed to same-sex marriage, the prime minister replied: “It’s law. And I’m glad that the change has now been made and people can get on with their lives. That’s what I’m happy about.”

When pressed on whether his opinions have changed, he told reporters in Perth: “I always support the law of the country“.

So, he supports Australian law but won’t own up to his current personal beliefs about homosexuality. I wonder, as a Pentecostal Christian, whether he accepts the Bible’s view on the topic.

OUTinPerth, an LGBTIQ+ news source, observed ScoMo’s views on homosexuality when a journalist interviewed him in Perth. Now he was supportive of same-sex couples being allowed to ‘get on with their lives’ because he ‘always supports the law of the country’.

ScoMo would not be drawn into a discussion on whether he believed ‘gay people would be sent to hell’ – referring to the Israel Folau controversy.

3. His views on God

Leigh Sales of ABC’s 7.30 grilled him on this topic: ‘I’m not running for Pope,’ Mr Morrison shot back. “I’m running for Prime Minister. And the theological questions are not ones that are actually, I think, germane to the political debate in this country’.

Then he defined faith as loving others, ‘which is what I’ve always believed’. His parents taught by example, serving in local youth organisations, boys and girls brigade for the youth in their community. ‘They taught me a life of faith and service and that’s what my faith means to me. It means service and caring for others’.

Image result for clipart Who Is GodHe had an ideal public opportunity to declare his belief in the Lord God Almighty and Jesus the Saviour who offers salvation to the world. He turned to the ‘loving others’ definition of who God is. In my view he dodged the issues regarding attributes of God for a Christian PM.

When will ScoMo have the courage to lead the country in repentance and prayer for rain? He stated when it rained in Albury: ‘I do pray for that rain. And I’d encourage others who believe in the power of prayer to pray for that rain and to pray for our farmers. Please do that’.

We heard former PM, Malcolm Turnbull, state, ‘We can’t make it rain’. Step up to the mark ScoMo. You know the One who sends and withholds rain: God the Father ‘lets the sun rise for all people, whether they are good or bad. He sends rain to those who do right and to those who do wrong’.

I’m waiting on Morrison’s call to the nation to flood into churches, public halls and local parks to pray earnestly for rain. We can’t force God to send the rain but he has told us to ‘never stop praying’ and wait for his sovereign action in sending the liquid gold to the parched regions of the nation.

It is time for this Christian PM to tell us who sends the rain. This view espoused by many that ‘we can’t make it rain’ is true but it avoids announcing who sends rain and how we should respond to the drought.

4. Religion does not mix with politics

Morrison told a journalist, ‘he doesn’t “mix [his] religion with politics”’.

Regarding homosexuals and hell, he clarified his view before the 2019 election: No, I do not believe that’, he told SBS News.

Image result for clipart religion and politicsHowever, only a year prior he supported Israel Folau’s ‘strength of character in standing up for what he believes in and I think that’s what this country is all about’. Folau believes sinners go to hell. Does he support Folau’s ‘strength of character’ without affirming Folau’s moral and theological beliefs?

Does he believe all sinners go to hell? I have not found his making a clear public statement about this.

However, The Horizon Church where he and his family attend, stated in its Doctrinal Basis (for Australian Christian Churches), ‘We believe in the everlasting punishment of the wicked (in the sense of eternal torment) who wilfully reject and despise the love of God manifested in the great sacrifice of his only Son on the cross for their salvation’ (Bible references provided).

If ScoMo is a member of that Church he would have to accept this teaching.

5. Which Bible does ScoMo read?

Twelve months ago when he was treasurer, Morrison’s views on morality and a Christian world view do not match his philosophy with biblical teaching today. From what I’ve written above, alarm bells should be ringing of conflicts between his beliefs and actions.

Related imageThe first alarm concerns how a person’s world view affects life in the real world, including politics. All of us have a world view, a lens through which we look and interpret all of life.

The global warming world view uses a certain set of lenses. Left wing and right wing agitators also use different lenses. The Christian and atheistic world views see life through the theistic God’s existence (Christian) and the lack of evidence for God (atheism).

For ScoMo to state he doesn’t ‘mix religion with politics’, he violates a Christian fundamental belief: ‘And whatever you do, whether in word or deed, do it all in the name of the Lord Jesus, giving thanks to God the Father through him’ (Colossians 3:17).

So, ScoMo, as a biblical Christian, should live by the teaching: ‘I must mix my Christianity with political thinking and actions. By this I give thanks to God the Father through Jesus’.

Related imageA second alarm deals with ScoMo’s acceptance of moral issues after they become law, e.g. homosexual marriage and abortion. The biblical view is that promoted by Peter and the apostles when confronted with the Jewish high council (the Sanhedrin).

The high priest stated: ‘We gave you strict orders not to teach in this name. Look, you have filled Jerusalem with your teaching, and you intend to bring this man’s blood on us! But Peter and the apostles replied, “We must obey God rather than people” (Acts 5:28-29).

Should that be ScoMo’s approach to legislation that clashes with Scripture?

6. Bible, homosexuality and abortion

First Corinthians 6:9-11 is clear. Wrong doers or the unrighteous will not inherit the kingdom of God. These include those who indulge in sexual sin, worship idols, commit adultery, are male prostitutes, practise homosexuality, are thieves, greedy, drunkards, abusive, or cheat people.

If they don’t inherit the kingdom of God, where do they go at death? Jesus said regarding the last judgment: ‘They [the unrighteous] will go away into eternal punishment, but the righteous will go into eternal life’ (Matthew 25:46).

Therefore, Izzy scored the try across the biblical line while ScoMo fumbled the biblical material and presented a view that is foreign to the text.

https://i1.wp.com/www.campaignlifecoalition.com/shared/skins/default/images/abortionphotos/abortedbaby22wks.jpg?resize=317%2C231&ssl=1(aborted 22 weeks, Campaign Life Coalition)

As for God’s view on abortion, is it more than ScoMo’s ‘conservative’ view? Is the unborn a living human being (from God’s perspective) whose right to live should be preserved? Or is the unborn child a lump of cells of no more value than a chicken fillet?

Scripture teaches that human life exists in the womb: ‘You made all the delicate, inner parts of my body and knit me together in my mother’s womb’ (Psalm 139:13).

In the New Testament (NT), when Mary and Elizabeth met, both being pregnant, Elizabeth’s baby (John the Baptist) ‘leaped in her womb’ in salutation of Mary’s baby, Jesus.  Of special significance in Luke’s account is that he used the same word brephos (NT Greek) for an unborn child (1:41, 44), the new-born baby (2:12, 16) and the little ones brought to Jesus to bless (18:15).

Medical science agrees. Every human life begins at conception. The approximately 65,000 murdered in Australian abortions every year are pre-born children – human beings.

In 1970, in the midst of the United States’ abortion debate (it was legalised in 1973), the editors of the journal California Medicine (the official journal of the California Medical Association), noticed ‘a curious avoidance of thescientific fact, which everyone really knows, that human life begins at conception and is continuous whether intra or extrauterine until death’.

Therefore, to kill an unborn infant is to murder a human being.

7. Conclusion

ScoMo’s world view is not driven by biblical Christianity’s, ‘We must obey God rather than human beings’. When he reneges on what the Bible says about the destiny of all evil doers, including homosexuals, he has made a trade off to weaken what the Bible states.

To affirm that he is not running for Pope and serves a God of love avoids fuller explanation of who God is: All-powerful, one who knows all things, has wrath as well as love; he offers salvation to all who believe; we can know him truly, and he is eternal.

Could you imagine ScoMo taking a stand on the 7.30 program like this? ‘As a Christian who believes in the inspiration of the Bible, I endorse the content of Israel Folau’s Instagram post. As a Christian PM, everything I say and do will be under the scrutiny of the Bible’.

I appreciate that that kind of comment would lose some votes at the next election – while gaining others – and could be used by the opposition to denigrate his beliefs in a multicultural Australia. Nevertheless, the Australian Constitution has its foundation in the five states that joined together, ‘humbly relying on the blessing of Almighty God’.

All Christians are faced with the ScoMo challenge: ‘Everything you say and everything you do should be done for Jesus your Lord’. Imagine the PM saying it like that to Leigh Sales!

In my view, the public life of politics has weakened ScoMo’s overt Christianity.

ScoMo what will it be? Spiritual correctness or political correctness? Your future will depend on it.

Copyright © 2019 Spencer D. Gear. This document last updated at Date: 03 November 2019.

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1 Peter 3:19: Proclamation to spirits in prison

(image courtesy Himandus.net)

By Spencer D Gear PhD

1 Peter 3:18-20 reads:

18For Christ also suffered once for sins, the righteous for the unrighteous, that he might bring us to God, being put to death in the flesh but made alive in the spirit, 19in which he went and proclaimed to the spirits in prison, 20because they formerly did not obey, when God’s patience waited in the days of Noah, while the ark was being prepared, in which a few, that is, eight persons, were brought safely through water (ESV).

1.  Difficult to interpret

Martin Luther (AD 483 – 1546)[1] made a profound statement about his text in his commentary on 1 Peter:

This is a strange text, and a more obscure passage, perhaps, than any other in the New Testament, for I do not certainly know what St. Peter means. At first sight, the words import as though Christ had preached to the spirits — that is, the souls which were formerly unbelieving at the time Noah was building the ark; but that I cannot understand, I cannot even explain it. There has been no one hitherto who has explained it. Yet if any one is disposed to maintain that Christ, after that He had suffered on the Cross, descended to these souls and preached to them, I will not dispute it. It might bear such a rendering. But I am not confident that St. Peter would say this (Luther 2009, of 1 Peter 3:18-21, emphasis added).

These are among the most difficult verses in the New Testament to interpret. Commentator, D. Edmond Hiebert, observed, ‘Each of the nine words in the original has been differently understood’.[2] They are difficult because of these three questions that need answers:[3]

(a) About whom was Peter speaking when he wrote of the ‘spirits’ to whom Christ made this proclamation (v. 19)?

(b) When did this proclamation happen (v. 19)?

(c) What was the content of the proclamation? Was it a Gospel announcement or something else?

(d) When did these ‘spirits’ fall through disobedience?

Let’s examine some possibilities:

1.1 Christ preached to the dead

Those who interpret ‘the spirits in prison’ this way maintain that during the time between Christ’s death and resurrection he went to the realm of the dead and preached to Noah’s contemporaries:

This group is subdivided by various opinions on the nature of this proclamation. (1) Christ’s soul ministers an offer of salvation to the spirits. (2) He announces condemnation to the unbelievers of Noah’s time. (3) He announces good tidings [good news] to those who had already been saved (Blum 1981:241).

Briefly, let’s look at these 3 views. Firstly,

1.1.1 Christ offers salvation to those in the realm of the dead

This would possibly harmonise with that statement in the Apostles’ Creed:

… He suffered under Pontius Pilate,
was crucified, died, and was buried;
he descended to hell….
[4]

In 1 Peter 3:19 it states that Christ ‘went and preached to the spirits in prison’. Does this refer to Jesus’ descent into hell, as in the Apostles’ Creed? Not at all. I haven’t found any biblical evidence for that conclusion. There is no biblical support for Christ between his death and resurrection or between his resurrection and ascension going down to Hades/hell.

Some suggest that Christ in his spirit preached to Noah’s contemporaries. Let’s wait to see what the biblical evidence demonstrates.

1.1.2 Pre-existent Christ and Noah’s generation

The second interpretation maintains that Christ, before he came in the flesh at the Incarnation, ‘preached in the time of Noah to Noah’s sinful generation’ (Blum 1981:241).

1.1.3 Christ proclaimed to the ‘disobedient spirits’

This third interpretation identifies the ‘spirits’ as the fallen angels to whom Christ proclaimed his victory on the cross. When did this proclamation take place? There are two options: (1) During the three days when Jesus descended into Hades, or (2) During his ascension.

This third position seems to be the option that Peter teaches in 1 Peter 3:18-4:6. ‘After Christ’s death, he made a victorious proclamation to the fallen angels’. This is defended and developed in this passage that goes through to 4:6 (Blum 1981:241).

Kistemaker agrees:

Recent commentators teach that the resurrected Christ, during his ascension to heaven, proclaimed to imprisoned spirits his victory over death. The exalted Christ passed through the realm where the fallen angels are kept and proclaimed his triumph over them (Eph 6:12; Col 2:15). This interpretation has met favorable response in Protestant and Roman Catholic circles and is in harmony with the teaching of the Petrine passage and the rest of Scripture (1986:147-148).

See also Barnes’ Notes on 1 Peter 3 for a detailed discussion of v. 19.

2. Take note of these facts

screneRed-small The main purpose of vv 18-22 is stated in v. 18? What is it? ‘For Christ also suffered’ (NIV). This is further emphasised by the preceding verses (vv. 13-17).

screneRed-small  This is the teaching in v. 18 that provides the reason for patient endurance (vv. 13-17).

screneRed-small According to v. 18, ‘to bring you to God’ was the reason for Christ’s death.

2.1 Problems with NIV translation[5]

The NIV translates v. 18 as, ‘For Christ also suffered once for sins, the righteous for the unrighteous, to bring you to God. He was put to death in the body but made alive in the Spirit’.

screneRed-small The NIV translates Spirit with a capital ‘S’. So, was Jesus’ body crucified and he was made alive ‘in the spirit’, small ‘s’? The ESV, Geneva Bible, LEB, NABRE, NASB, NRSV, and RSV translated as ‘spirit’ with a small ‘s’. Literally the Greek means, ‘Put to death in flesh, made alive in spirit’. Therefore, Blum (1981:242) gives this technical reason for rejecting the NIV translation

To translate one member of the antithesis [body vs spirit] as a dative of sphere or reference and the other as a dative of cause is inconsistent. It is best to take both as datives of reference (or “adverbial” or even “of sphere”) and to translate both “in the sphere of” (Blum (1981:242).

Thus the better translation of v. 18 would be one such as the NRSV, ‘He was put to death in [with reference to] the flesh, but made alive in [with reference to] the spirit’. Thus, grammatically, the small ‘s’ spirit is more consistent than capital ‘S’ Spirit.

3. When was the proclamation made?

Verse 18 says Jesus had been ‘made alive’, so this proclamation took place after his resurrection. I can’t find biblical evidence to support Christ’s ‘descent into hell’ between death and resurrection.

So Jesus must have gone to where these were located. We are not told where it was so we should not speculate. We can’t walk into a room of some confined space and discover these fallen, disembodied spirits.

The same verb, ‘went’, is used in verse 19 as verse 22.

4. What was the content of the proclamation?

Simon Kistemaker quoted Dalton:

What is meant by the word preached? The verb stands by itself, so that we are unable to determine the content of preaching. In brief, only the fact of preaching, not the message, is important. That is, we understand the verb preached to mean that Christ proclaimed victory over his adversaries. In his brevity, Peter refrains from telling us the context of Christ’s proclamation. We would be adding to the text if we should interpret the word preached to signify the preaching of the gospel. “Hence we may suppose with reason that it is the victory of Christ over His adversaries which is emphasized in 3:19, not the conversion or evangelization of the disobedient spirits.”[6]

4.1 The verb used tells something

The usual Greek word ‘to evangelise’ (euangelizw) is not used here but keryssw, which means ‘I proclaim/herald’. So the choice of the latter verb means that Christ came, not to preach the Gospel to spirits. What could that proclamation be?

There are no thoughts of salvation for lost angels in the NT (see Heb 2:16 and 1 Peter 1:12).

4.2 Who are the spirits (in prison)?

This is one of the easier parts to interpret. Verse 20 states ‘they formerly did not obey, when God’s patience waited in the days of Noah, while the ark was being prepared’ (ESV). So at the time of Noah, these beings were disobedient and the Flood judgment came.

This judgment of the Flood is a warning to human beings that there is going to be a judgment of the disobedient, unrighteous world at Jesus’ second coming. This is stated in verses such as Matt 24:37-41 (ESV) and 2 Peter 3:3-7 (ESV). Noah’s ark that saved 8 people from the flood waters is a symbol of the salvation available in Christ right now.

First Peter 3:20 states who the ‘spirits’ are. They are those people who ‘formerly did not obey, when God’s patience waited in the days of Noah, while the ark was being prepared, in which a few, that is, eight persons, were brought safely through water’ (ESV).

They were not angelic spirits but the spirits of the disobedient people who died at the time of Noah’s flood.

5. The nature of the prison

Eminent evangelical Lutheran scholar, R C H Lenski wrote of 1 Pet 3:19,

The Scriptures know of only one ‘prison,’ that confines ‘spirits,’ namely, hell, ‘hades,’ ‘the gehenna of the fire’ (Matt. 5:22; 18:9). To call this [prison] the realm of the dead; is to give a strange meaning to the word, ‘prison’ for all the dead are supposed to go into this fictitious place, the realm of the dead. Note 2 Pet. 2:9, 10, in fact all of 2 Pet 3:4-10 (Lenski 1966/2001:163).

(image courtesy Storming the Gates of Hell)

Another commentator wrote: ‘The prison confining the unbelieving spirits is not a reform school, but a penitentiary for life’ (Engelder 1945:381).

It is not clear whether Jesus did the preaching to spirits in prison at the time of Noah or at the time of his Incarnation.[7]

However, the prison refers to Hades and Gehenna/hell. See Prov 27:20; Matt 5:25; Luke 12:58 where ‘prison’ is a type for hell.

In hell, so this is taken, in Proverbs 27:20; compare with Matthew 5:25 Luke 12:58, where prison is mentioned as a type or representation of hell. There are similar expressions in 2 Peter 2:4-5; Jude 1:6.

6. Two main understandings

From the time of the early church fathers until the twenty-first century, there have been two main interpretations of 1 Peter 3:19:[8]

6.1 Firstly, Jesus preached to the departed spirits NOW in prison.

Our Lord, through Noah, preached repentance to the people of Noah’s time. There is no association with the doctrine of ‘descent into hell’ in this interpretation.

6.2 Secondly, what Jesus did when his body was in the grave.

This is the most popular interpretation from the Fathers to Luther and a large number of contemporary interpreters. It is claimed that ‘this is the most natural construction to put on the words “in which also” (i.e. in spirit)’. It is associated with Jesus’ being ‘quickened in spirit’.

So, he went from his death and the spirits were alive when Christ preached to them. His spirit, ‘disengaged from the body’, went to the place of other disembodied spirits and proclaimed certain news. The content of this proclamation was not stated but 1 Peter 4:6 (ESV) points to Gospel preaching:

For this is why the gospel was preached even to those who are dead, that though judged in the flesh the way people are, they might live in the spirit the way God does.

The prison is not ‘a place of safe keeping’ for both good and bad spirits. Although ‘prison’ is used 28 times in the NT, not once is it a place of protection but twice (Rev 18:2) it is used as ‘a cage’.

7. Conclusion

Verses 18-19 demonstrate that Jesus was put to death with reference to the body/flesh and was made alive with reference to his spirit, thus pointing to Christ’s death and resurrection.

The proclamation made is not of the Gospel because of the verb used kerussw (not euangelizw). It is an announcement – maybe of the victory by Jesus – to those unbelievers who did not obey with repentance in the time of Noah. However, the exact content of the proclamation is not stated in the text.

Congolese town crier

Jesus did not descend into Hades and make a Gospel proclamation to the fallen angels. However, he went to the ‘prison’ where deceased spirits were and made an announcement like a town crier would do in the first century.

‘The spirits in prison’ refers to the people who had died and were now in hell/Hades, awaiting judgment. The prison is a representation of hell. However, the people in the ‘prison’ are those who did not repent in Noah’s day and died. Their spirits went Hades.

8. Works consulted

Blum, E. A. 1981, ‘1 Peter’ in The Expositor’s Bible Commentary (vol. 12), Frank E. Gaebelein (gen. ed.). Grand Rapids, Michigan: Zondervan Publishing House.

Engelder, T 1945. The Hades Gospel, Part 2. Concordia Theological Monthly, June, 374-396. Available at: http://www.ctsfw.net/media/pdfs/EngelderHadesGospel2.pdf (Accessed 30 October 2019).

Hiebert, D E 1984. First Peter: An Expositional Commentary. Chicago: Moody.

Kistemaker, S J 1986. New Testament Commentary: Exposition of James, Epistles of John, Peter, and Jude.[9] Grand Rapids, Michigan: Baker Academic.

Lenski, R C H 1966/2001. Commentary on the New Testament: The Interpretation of the Epistles of St. Peter, St. John, and St. Jude. Peabody, Massachusetts: Hendrickson Publishers (© 1966 Augsburg Publishing House).

Luther, 2009. The Epistles of St. Peter and St. Jude Preached and Explained (Tr. E H Gillett). The Project Gutenberg EBook (online). Available at: https://www.gutenberg.org/files/29678/29678-h/29678-h.htm (Accessed 10 September 2019).

9.  Notes

[1] Dates from Encyclopaedia Britannica (2019. s.v. Martin Luther).

[2] Hiebert (1984:226) (in Kistemaker1986:141 n 54).

[3] The first 3 questions were suggested by Blum (1981:341).

[4] Christian Reformed Church 2019. Apostles’ Creed (online). Available at: https://www.crcna.org/welcome/beliefs/creeds/apostles-creed (Accessed 9 September 2019).

[5] These details are from Blum (1981:242).

[6] Dalton (1964:155) (in Kistemaker1986:142 n 59).

[7] A T Robertson. Available at: https://www.studylight.org/commentary/1-peter/3-19.html (Accessed 30 October 2019).

[8] These 2 points are based on Ellicott’s Commentary for English Readers. Available at: ibid.

[9] Note that this commentary does not present continuous numbering but reverts to new numbers with each Bible book. The numbers for Jude are continuous with 1 & 2 Peter.

Lazarus and the Rich Man (illumination from the Codex Aureus of Echternach).

Copyright © 2019 Spencer D. Gear. This document last updated at Date: 31 October 2019.

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Dams needed. Who sends the rain?

Deism damns how to fill dams

Tractor on drought-ravaged farm in Guyra, NSW. (Photo: Guyra’s water reserves dried up earlier this year. (ABC News: Caitlyn Gribbin)

By Spencer D Gear PhD

A friend copied me into his email to the Federal Treasurer of Australia, the Hon. Josh Frydenberg:[1]

Thankyou for your newsletter and for the concern you show for Dino the Stanthorpe Apple Grower suffering from the effects of drought. This concern is admirable but without action it is as meaningless as the Green’s political party concern.

Dino is suffering because of a failure to supply Water. It is the responsibility of Government to ensure that sufficient water is stored to meet domestic, industrial, irrigation and environmental needs.

Unfortunately we have to go back to the 1960’s Ord scheme to find evidence of Federal Government active intervention to supply water on a large scale. Tony Abbott talked a lot. ALP is only concerned with their voter base which no longer includes farmers.

Tino is suffering because past governments have failed to build dams not because it is not raining.

The 1940’s and 1950’s Bradfield scheme if implemented would have solved the problem. Vince Gair was advocating this scheme in 1950’s and I personally heard Dr. Colin Clark praise the scheme.

As an absolute minimum to show true support for Dino please organise for a full investigation into the scheme with an undertaking to build if viable.

My reply was: There’s no point in building dams unless the Lord God Almighty sends the rain.
We should have people in droves, who believe in the power of prayer, flooding our churches to pray for rain. Of course we need national repentance. See: Australia is in deep trouble: Droughts, floods and fires

His comeback was:

I am not on the same wavelength as Spencer’s response to me.

I personally do not think God interferes with the running of his creation and I see our lack of rain as a natural part of that creation. Our failure to store it however is a failure by humans and has nothing to do with sin other than greed when allocating government resources.[2]

1. Which theology did he promote?

His was the God who created the world and left it running and did not involve himself in the creation any longer. The problem is a human one where not enough dams have been built and water stored.

He provided zero explanation for the lack of rain, except it was a natural part of what happens in our world.

Is this the God of the Bible in action or has he gone to sleep.

1.1 Deism damns how to fill dams

Who or what sends the rain so that we have water to store in dams?

Image result for symbol Deism public domainYours is the God of Deism. My understanding of creation is one where ‘God, the blessed and only Ruler, the King of kings and Lord of lords’ sustains the universe (1 Timothy 6:15). God the Son sustains ‘all things by his powerful word’ (Hebrews 1:3).

Why does the world continue to exist? It is not because he set it running and then doesn’t interfere. Rather, Scripture is clear: ‘For in him [Christ] all things were created: things in heaven and on earth, visible and invisible, whether thrones or powers or rulers or authorities; all things have been created through him and for him. He is before all things, and in him all things hold together‘ (Colossians 1:16-17).

The Bible does not support your view that God does not interfere with the running of creation. Instead, God is active in holding all things together in creation, including the sending and withholding of rain.

For the Israelites under the Old Covenant, Amos 4:7 states: ‘I also withheld rain from you when the harvest was still three months away. I sent rain on one town, but withheld it from another. One field had rain; another had none and dried up’.

God is not the weak absentee landlord. He continues to be active in his creation. He is the God of action and not inaction when it comes to sending the rain: ‘He causes his sun to rise on the evil and the good, and sends rain on the righteous and the unrighteous’ (Matthew 5:45).

1.2 Atrocious reasoning

What do you think his come back would be to my exposure of his Deism? It was simple: ‘Thank you for your reply. I have removed you from my e-mail contacts. You should get nothing from me from now on’.[3]

Instead of dealing with the negatives and positives of his Deist beliefs, he resorted to removing me from his email list.

I thoughtfully replied:

So you are unprepared to deal with your unbiblical view of God. Instead of dealing with the issues with your Deism, you removed me from your mailing list. You have used an Appeal to Invincible Ignorance Logical Fallacy. It involves a situation where …

the person in question (you) simply refuses to believe the argument, ignoring any evidence given. It is not so much a fallacious tactic in argument as it is a refusal to argue in the proper sense of the word, the method instead being to make assertions with no consideration of objections.

Deleting me from your email list demonstrated your use of this fallacy.
I hope that one day you’ll be able to man up to a critique of your Deism and see its distance from Christianity.

2. What are the beliefs of Deism?[4]

God made the world and does not interrupt its continuing with supernatural events. Thus, the statement by my friend, ‘I personally do not think God interferes with the running of his creation and I see our lack of rain as a natural part of that creation’.

There are several forms of deism. Some of their basic beliefs include (Geisler 1999:190):

clip_image002God is not interested in the world he created.

clip_image002[1]A second brand regards God as having a continuing interest in the universe but is not interested in whether people act morally or not.

clip_image003A third view maintains God governs the universe and is interested in the moral actions of people, but nothing happens after death.

clip_image003[1]Fourthly, it understands God regulates the world, expects obedience to his moral law in nature with rewards and punishments for the wicked.

Deists object to orthodox Christianity over their views on:

  • God (the non-Trinitarian God of Deism);
  • Origin of the universe;
  • Relation of God to the universe;
  • Miracles;
  • Ethics;
  • Human destiny;
  • History.

B A Robinson (1999-2018) of Religious Tolerance summarised the beliefs of Deism. They include:

clip_image005It’s a natural religion that believes in God’s existence, purely on rational grounds.

clip_image006It does not rely on revealed religion, religious authority or any holy texts.

clip_image005[1]So Deism is quite different from Judaism, Christianity and Islam because these 3 religions are ‘based on revelations that Jews, Christians and Muslims believe mostly came from God to prophet(s) who then taught it to humans’.

clip_image005[2] It’s a ‘bottom-up’ faith, which means it was created by humans about God. Deists regard revealed religions as ‘top-down’ for the reason ‘their followers believe that they were created by God and delivered to humans’.

clip_image005[3]Faiths that are the opposite of Deism are Atheism because it does not believe in the existence of God or gods. Another opposite is Theism which is ‘seen in the beliefs of most Theists who conceive of God as a deity who is all-present, all-powerful, all-loving, all-knowing and has a personal interest and involvement in every human on Earth’. Robinson explained:

Many Deists reason that everything that exists has had a creator — from a wristwatch, to a television set, to the Internet itself. Thus it is logical that the universe itself must have been created by God:

2.1 Positive contributions of Deists

With such a low view of God and a perspective that is contrary to the Scriptures, how could I contemplate any positive benefits by Deists? Geisler (1999:191) states these three:

  • The importance of reason in considering matters of faith (cf. Isa 1:18; Acts 17:17; 1 Pet 3:15); claims made about miracles and supernatural relation need verification.
  • The existence of God is reflected in a Designer of the cosmos.
  • Exposing religious deception and superstition.

2.2 Critique of Deism

What are the major objections to this view of God and the universe?

2.2.1 Admit creation but refuse to accept lesser miracles

A being who could [as deists believe] bring the universe into existence from nothing could certainly perform lesser miracles if He chose to do so. A God who created water could part it or make it possible for a person to walk on it. The immediate multiplication of loaves of bread and fish would be no problem to a God who created matter and life in the first place. A virgin birth or even a physical resurrection from the dead would be minor miracles in comparison to the miracle of creating the universe from nothing [as deists believe]. It seems self-defeating to admit a great miracle like creation and then to deny the possibility of lesser miracles (Geisler 1999:191).

2.2.2 Scientists and natural law

Scientists’ views on natural law have moved past the Deists’ understandings. The Deist view is outdated as scientists regard the natural law as general today and not necessarily universal. Natural laws indicate how nature generally behaves but it is not fixated on that response.

If God created the universe for the good of his creatures, it seems that he would miraculously intervene in their lives if their good depended on it. Surely their all-good Creator would not abandon his creation. Instead it would seem that such a God would continue to exercise the love and concern for his creatures that prompted him to create them to begin with, even if it meant providing care through miraculous means (Geisler 1999:191).

The possibility of supernatural revelation through Scripture cannot be excluded if one admits to the possibility of miracles.

C S Lewis wrote: ‘A naturalistic Christianity leaves out all that is specifically Christian’ (Lewis 1947/2012:108).

2.2.3 Abuse is no excuse

Because some religious people have abused religious beliefs on miracles and other Christian beliefs does not make it legitimate to reject miracles. One bad tomato or even a bad bag of tomatoes does not stop people from eating tomatoes.

There have been abuses in science. See: Uses and Abuses of Tuskegee. That should not and has not prevented our engagement with the scientific disciplines.

An all-powerful, all-knowing God could conceivably overcome these problems. At least such problems should not rule out the possibility that God has revealed himself, either verbally or in written form. Again, the evidence should first be consulted….

The deists’ case against Christianity and the Bible has been found wanting…. What anti-supernaturalist has adequately answered such Christian theists as J. Gresham Machen, and C. S. Lewis?… They have built an extensive and solid case from science, philosophy, and logic against the belief that miracle stories in the Bible are necessarily mythical….

For example, [Thomas] Paine’s[5] belief that most of the books of the Bible were written by people other than the ones who claimed to write them and written very late is still proclaimed as indisputable fact by many critics. But there is not one credible shred of evidence that has not been rejected for good reason by archaeologists and biblical scholars. More than 25,000 finds have confirmed the picture of the ancient world given in the Bible …. There is sufficient evidence to support the authorship claims and early dates for most biblical books (Geisler 1999:192).

3. Conclusion

I found it interesting to have interaction with a friend whose belief is that of Deism. When I exposed that, he cut off communication with me.

In the above, I’ve discussed the positives and negatives of Deism when compared with biblical Christianity.

The foundation of a Deist world view is not based on Scripture and the God who intervenes with our world.

My view is that my friend’s statement summarises the despair of a Deist world view: ‘I personally do not think God interferes with the running of his creation and I see our lack of rain as a natural part of that creation’.

4. Notes

[1] It was dated 6 October 2019. Typographical errors have been corrected.

[2] Received 15 October 2019. Typographical errors were corrected.

[3] Email received 15 October 2019.

[4] Based on Geisler (1999:189-192).

[5] See Thomas Paine details at Thomas Paine 2019. Biography (online). Available at: https://www.biography.com/scholar/thomas-paine (Accessed 16 October 2019).

5.  Works consulted

Geisler, N L 1999. Baker Encyclopedia of Christian Apologetics. Grand Rapids, Michigan: Baker Books.

Lewis, C S 1947/2012. Miracles: Do They Really Happen? London: William Collins (a division of Harper Collins).

Robinson, B A 1999-2018. Deism: A world religion. Religious Tolerance (online). Available at: http://www.religioustolerance.org/deism.htm (Accessed 15 October 2019).

Copyright © 2019 Spencer D. Gear. This document last updated at Date: 19 October 2019.

clip_image011clip_image011

Cane toads and religious freedom

A prominent animal welfare group wants people to stop clubbing cane toads.

(image courtesy Katherine Times)

By Campbell Markham[1]

I consider this is the finest Christian assessment I’ve read of Australia’s draft Religious Discrimination Bills 2019: Religious Freedom Laws and Cane Toads. See Religious Freedom Bills to read a copy of the 2019 draft bills in Australia.

It is written by Campbell Markham, minister of Cornerstone Presbyterian Church, Hobart, Tas. who knows from personal experience what it is like to be the victim of ‘existing anti-discrimination action’.

He had to ‘face Tasmania’s Anti-Discrimination Commission over online blogs referring to the gay lifestyle as “distressingly dangerous” and having “appalling health risks”‘. After conciliation, the anti-discrimination case was dropped.

If you were encouraged by Campbell Markham’s analysis of the draft Religious Discrimination Bill 2019, why don’t you contact him with a word or two of encouragement? Contact: pastor@cornerstonehobart.com

Notes

[1] This information was copied from Campbell Markham’s blog by Spencer D Gear. His blog may be located at: http://campbellmarkham1970.blogspot.com/ (Accessed 13 October 2019).

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

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How a KJV-only supporter stuffed up biblical interpretation

(photo courtesy Wikipedia)

By Spencer D Gear PhD

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

2.  Various English translations

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

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

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

3.  High on rûm

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

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

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

4.  A word to KJV-only supporters

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

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

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

5.  A better example

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

This is the 1383 Wycliffe translation of these verses:

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

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

6.  Which Bible is inspired by God?

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

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

Evangelical theologian Wayne Grudem explained:

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

7.  Works consulted

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

8.  Notes


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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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Is reincarnation taught in the Bible?

(Reincarnation in Hindu Art, image courtesy Wikipedia)

Spencer D Gear PhD

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

1.  What is reincarnation?

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

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

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

2.  An encounter with a Christian reincarnationist

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

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

Issues emerging from that comment include:

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

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

Concerns again from this comment:

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

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

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

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

‘it does not say “only”’.

3.  Some orthodox Jews teach reincarnation

These are examples.

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

In one of his columns, he wrote:

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

4.  Biblical reincarnation is Greek to me.

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

clip_image012Reincarnation in the Bible’;

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

5.  Time for more Scripture twisting

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

6.  Conclusion

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

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

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

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

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

7.  Works consulted

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

8.  Notes

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

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

[3] Ibid., KevinK#10.

[4] Ibid., KevinK#14.

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

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

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

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

[8] Ibid., OzSpen#24.

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

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

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

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

clip_image013

Is Natural Law unchangeable?

Image result for clipart Natural Law public domain

(image courtesy Clipart Library)

By Spencer D Gear PhD

How would you respond to this challenge?

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

This person explained further:

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

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

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

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

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

1.  Who invented the Natural Law perspective?

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

Spinoza’s argument went like this:

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

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

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

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

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

It has been put this way by Geisler & Turek:

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

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

2.  God does not change his mind.

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

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

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

3.  God is the standard of morality.

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

5.  Conclusion

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

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

6.  Works consulted

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

7.  Notes

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

[2] Ibid., Wondering#193.

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

[4] Ibid., Wonder#258.

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

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

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

Pink bird in a branchPink bird in a branchPink bird in a branchPink bird in a branchPink bird in a branchPink bird in a branch

Can Labor change to religious values?

ALP logo 2017.svg

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

By Spencer Gear PhD

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

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

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

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

1.  Considered changes

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

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

2.  ALP policies and people of faith

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

(a) Abortion;

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

(c) Freedom of religion, and

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

3.  Clash with Labor’s policies

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

4.  Religious values clash with ALP policies

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

5.  Labor’s wishful thinking

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

6.  Notes

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

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

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

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By his stripes you are healed

Is it physical healing or eternal salvation?

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(image courtesy Pinterest)

By Spencer D Gear PhD

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

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

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

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

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

clip_image004Benny Hinn Ministries

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

This article begins:

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

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

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

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

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

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

clip_image004[1]Andrew Wommack Ministries

teach,

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Elsewhere Wommack continues his teaching on healing:

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

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

Is that an accurate teaching of Scripture?

clip_image004[2]Joseph Prince

wrote:

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

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

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

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

1. Is physical healing taught in these Scriptures?

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

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

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

The prophecy in Isaiah 53:3-6 reads:

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

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

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

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

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

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

1.1  In Isaiah

This verse confirms:

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

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

Verse 6 answers with a thunderous response:

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

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

1.2  First Peter chapter 2

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

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

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

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

Listen to the language from the Gospels:

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

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

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

The OT prophesied this would happen to Jesus:

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

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

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

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

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

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

This conclusion is reinforced by:

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

2. A question for you

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

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

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

I have two more issues associated with this topic.

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

Yes, there is on two accounts:

3.1 Believers do the works of Jesus

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

3.2 Heresies of Hinn, Wommack and Prince

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

What is a heresy?

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

The Lexico/Oxford dictionary gives these meanings of heresy:

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

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

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

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

4. Are these faith healers teaching heresy?

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

4.1 Benny Hinn

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

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

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

What does Exodus 15:26 teach?

This is the context:

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

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

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

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

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

This is what it teaches:

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

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  The people grumbled against Moses, wanting something to drink.

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

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

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

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

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

4.2 Andrew Wommack

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

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

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

As for Wommack’s statement,

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

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

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

4.3 Joseph Prince

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

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

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

5. Does Jesus heal today?

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

See my articles:

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  Are Miracles Valuable?

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

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

5.1 John 14:12-14

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Augustine’s last illness: A divine healing encounter

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

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

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

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

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

Steve Stewart explained his experience with the supernatural of God:

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

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

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

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

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

5.2 James 5:13-15

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

See my articles:

sync Should God heal all Christians who pray for healing?

sync DIVINE HEALING: IS IT FOR EVERYONE?

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

Donald Burdick summarised these verses:

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

6. Conclusion

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

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

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

7. Works consulted

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

8.   Notes

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

[12] It is aorist, passive, subjunctive.

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

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

[15] Hinn op. cit.

[16] Wommack op. cit.

[17] Prince op. cit.

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

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

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

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

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

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