When will bigots quit bullying Margaret Court?

(Pastor Margaret Court AO, MBE, OAM photo courtesy Victory Life Centre, Perth WA)

By Spencer D Gear PhD

This article was first published in the Australian e-journal, On Line Opinion, When will bigots quit bullying Margaret Court? 27 January 2021.

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It has hit the fan again in pronouncing Australian grand slam singles’ tennis champion, Margaret Court, “a bigot” for her views on homosexuality and gay marriage. The yelling has come because she has received the highest civilian honour of the level of the Order of Australia, “The Companion of the Order of Australia,” on Australia Day, 26 January 2021.

I’m using bigot according to the customary English definition, as referring to “a person who is utterly intolerant of any differing creed, belief, or opinion” (dictionary.com 2021. s.v. “bigot”). The Oxford English Dictionary (OED) gives a more detailed definition as referring to “a person who is obstinately or unreasonably attached to a belief, opinion, or faction, especially one who is prejudiced against or antagonistic towards a person or people on the basis of their membership of a particular group” (lexico.com 2021. s.v. “bigot”).

How is Margaret Court a bigot?

Victorian Premier, Daniel Andrews, slammed “the decision to honour Mrs Margaret Court, saying he didn’t want to give her “disgraceful, bigoted views any oxygen. “I think calling out bigotry is always important,” he said. He then later reiterated his disapproval of the honour on Twitter: “Grand Slam wins don’t give you some right to spew hatred and create division. Nothing does,” he wrote.

He spoke of the proposed granting of the Order of Australia (OAM) to Margaret Court on 26 January 2021. Why is the winner of 24 grand slam, singles, tennis championships a bigot according to Daniel Andrews? His claim is her stand on the Bible’s view of homosexuality and marriage is the practice of bigotry. He wouldn’t use the language of the Bible’s view but the media are happy to label her a fundamentalist Christian.

Let’s get it straight Premier Daniel Andrews.

Who is being the bigot? Is it Margaret Court who promotes the Bible’s view on sex and the marriage relationship or is it Daniel Andrews who is so enamored with the LGBTQ agenda that he can’t see the trees for the mulga? Does he need their views for votes at the next election?

Let’s get something straight. From the mouth of Margaret Court: She does not discriminate against homosexuals. She ‘loves’ them: “She insists although the bible stands against homosexuality she ‘loves’ and supports gay people through her church.”

The media and Premier Andrews regularly have a vendetta against Margaret, forgetting to tell the people that this was Jesus’ view of the marriage relationship: “God said, ‘That is why a man will leave his father and mother and be joined to his wife. And the two people will become one’” (Matthew 19:5, citing Genesis 2:24).

Jesus did not need to say: “Homosexuals should not marry.” That was contained by inference in his statement that “a man will leave his father and mother and be joined to his wife.” Wives were female in the time of Jesus. Jesus did not support the view that “a man will leave his father and mother and be joined (in sex) with another male.”

Was Jesus also being a bigot against homosexuals like Margaret Court is being accused of? Surely the media and Daniel Andrews would place Jesus also in the category of a bigot!

Bigotry is a serious Australian issue.

Daniel Andrews’ believes “calling out bigotry is always important. I don’t seek to quarrel with people but I’m asked a question and I’ve answered it.” This is one point on which I agree with Mr Andrews. It’s important to identify bigotry. Why can’t Mr Andrews see that his calling Margaret Court a bigot has caused much harm to her personally and the evangelical Christian community – those who take the Bible seriously?

Daniel Andrews 2018.jpg

The Honourable Daniel Andrews in 2018

48th Premier of Victoria
Elections: 2014, 2018 (Image courtesy Wikipedia)

Mr Andrews can’t get a handle on his own bigotry of being “utterly intolerant of any differing creed, belief, or opinion.” His bigotry opposes an eminent Australian sportswoman who promotes a biblical world view on marriage and sexuality. It has been endorsed by the Christian Church for two millennia. But Mr Andrews considers it’s suitable for him to label Margaret Court the bigot and not call himself out as a bigoted, left-wing Labor Premier.

Mr Premier, it’s time for you to own up to your own opposition to Margaret Court’s world view and call your opposition for what it is – bigotry.

I’m a bigot when it comes to going to the doctor when blood is seeping through my urine. I discriminate at elections. I vote for the party whose values most consistently harmonise with my Christian world view. I will not support a party that murders unborn children and calls it a mother’s choice and does not make this a criminal offense.

In Australia, it is now illegal to kill, trap, poison or interfere with wedge-tailed eagles in any way. “In Queensland waters all whales, dolphins, dugong, seals, sea lions, marine turtles and threatened sharks are protected under the provisions of the Nature Conservation Act 1992 (Qld) and relevant subordinate legislation.”

Aren’t these bigoted, discriminatory actions against this wildlife? Of course it is in order to protect these animals. However, it’s not a criminal offence to slaughter unborn children in the womb. When will Australian governments grapple with the legalised murder they endorse?

Since a bigot is one who “is utterly intolerant of any differing creed, belief, or opinion,” by definition that makes Dan Andrews a bigot towards someone who is an outspoken supporter of the Bible’s view. For 2,000 years this has been taught by the Christian church but when Margaret Court dares to be faithful to her God-given commission, she is called out as a bigot by Daniel Andrews.

When will Dan Andrews also get a handle on how discriminatory his words are towards Margaret Court that should be considered persecution or bullying of Mrs Court? 7Sport (23 Jan 2021) had the headline, “Margaret Court says she’s being ‘bullied’ and it’s time for critics to stop.”

“Bullying” refers to a “person who habitually seeks to harm or intimidate those whom they perceive as vulnerable” (OED 2021. s.v. “bully”). The OED gives synonyms of bully as persecutor, oppressor, tyrant, tormentor, browbeater, intimidator, coercer, and subjugator. Margaret Court considers she is being bullied and persecuted. By these definitions, that’s the truth. The media, some tennis players, and a Premier such as Daniel Andrews have bullied, persecuted and browbeaten Margaret Court. It is time for these people to own up to their bullying and persecution tactics and quit doing them immediately.

Let’s black mail Margaret Court!

Two factors need to be noted before I comment on this example. “She” is a transgender person and “she” is an activist who could not tolerate a person who supported a biblical Christian’s view of sexuality and marriage. “She” did not use the language of anything to do with a Christian world view.

How would you react to the title of this article? “Canberra doctor hands back OAM in protest against Margaret Court’s Australia Day honour” (SBS News, 24 January 2021)?

The essence of the story relates to Dr Clara Tuck Meng Soo AO, who was recognised in 2016 for her work as a medical practitioner with LGBTIQ+ and HIV positive communities. The issue that is causing the furore in 2021 is that Dr Soo is handing back her AO because the decision to award Australia’s highest honour to Margaret Court is made to a person who has made comments that are “disparaging of same-sex relationships and transgender people” and that has been “very distressing.” For a photograph of Dr Soo, see: https://www.news.com.au/sport/tennis/australian-open/doctor-hands-back-oam-amid-margaret-court-controversy/news-story/17b1183ec9e0f3ce4cf698b13bdf61f6

Dr Soo continued:

If the honour awards people like Margaret Court, it is sending a message to the community that is okay to make hateful, derogatory comments about disadvantaged segments of the community…. And I felt that if I actually retained my award, I would be condoning that system.

It must be noted that Dr Soo is discriminatory towards Margaret Court’s Christian world view. Dr Soo let us peer into her agenda. She told SBS News, “I may also add that I have spent most of my adult life as a gay man before my gender transition to a woman in 2018. Therefore, have both professional experience as well as lived experience of the communities that Mrs Margaret Court makes these derogatory and hurtful remarks about.”

Leading ABC commentator, Kerry O’Brien, has done the same thing. He has refused to accept the AO medal on Australia Day 2021.

Mr O’Brien had earlier agreed to accept his appointment as an Officer of the Order of Australia (AO) in Tuesday’s official honours [26 Jan 2021]. But on Saturday, he wrote to reverse his decision in protest against Mrs Court’s elevation in an awards system that had already recognised her achievements as the winner of 24 Grand Slam singles tennis titles, and her charity work, with an Order of Australia in 2007 (The Sydney Morning Herald, Kerry O’Brien refuses Order of Australia after Margaret Court honour, 25 January 2021).

Getting honest definitions

There are some queer statements made by those who are anti- the homosexual agenda and those who are pro- the Christian perspective. I’m using “queer” in the sense of strange or odd (OED 2021. s.v. “queer”).

This queer definition places homosexuality outside the purview of being able to criticise it and present a different view. That makes the pro-homosexual position one of bigotry or discriminatory.

This queer definition makes Christianity’s biblical views of homosexuality into bigotry when compared with the politically correct perspectives promoting gays as a viable lifestyle supported by the general populace.

ABC News (21 Jan 2021) reported Margaret Court’s views of her statements about homosexuality and marriage:

I am a minister of the Gospel, I have been a pastor for 30 years,” she said.

I teach the bible, what God says in the Bible and I think that is my right and my privilege to be able to bring that forth.

I’m not going to change my opinions and views, and I think it’s very important for freedom of speech that we can say our beliefs….

I think it’s very sad people hold on to that and still want to bully, and I think it’s time to move on.

Pastor Margaret Court said she was “honoured” to learn of her new award for tennis on the court and her work off the court.

I still represent my nation, I pray for my nation, I pray for the LGBT, I pray for the premiers in this nation and the Prime Minister,” she said.

When asked about the hurt her views on homosexuality may cause to LGBT people, Ms Court said she never turned people away.

“I have them come in here, I have them into community services from every different background, I never turn them away,” she said.

“And I was never really pointing the finger at them as an individual. I love all people, I have nothing against people, but I’m just saying what the bible says.”

The 78-year-old said she was disappointed about how her views had been portrayed in the media and feels she was singled out due to her “high profile” (ABC News, 23 January 2021).

Conclusion

The facts are:

(1) The Christian world view and its view on sex, including homosexuality, will always be a country mile from the secular (godless) view. It will be labelled as bigotry or discrimination, without bothering to check that the secular, pro-LGBTIQ view is just as bigoted and discriminatory.

(2) Those who call Margaret Court’s Christian view on marriage to be bigoted and discriminatory are blind to the fact that their opposition to Court’s view presents another – but different – bigoted approach to reality.

(3) Margaret Court promotes Jesus’ vies that marriage is between a man and his female wife in first century culture, customs and biblical Christianity.

How can this be resolved?

  • Get journalists, Premiers, doctors and other people in the media to be more careful with their words. I can’t see that happening.
  • Examine the presuppositions underlying a person’s statements. The likelihood of Daniel Andrews agreeing with Margaret Court’s world view is zero. He needs to admit that up front: “I have an agenda and it is not Christian. In fact, it is anti-Christian and I won’t change my mind.”
  • Margaret Court has already admitted, “I should always be able to say my views biblically, being a pastor and helping people with marriages and family. And I’ll never change those views.”

Remember the safety against religious bigotry in the Australian Constitution:

Section 116

4.2

The starting point in any discussion about religious freedom in Australia is section 116 of the Australian Constitution:

The Commonwealth shall not make any law for establishing any religion, or for imposing any religious observance, or for prohibiting the free exercise of any religion, and no religious test shall be required as a qualification for any office or public trust under the Commonwealth.

4.3

There are four prohibitions on the Commonwealth in this section:

  • establishing any religion
  • imposing any religious observation
  • prohibiting the free exercise of any religion
  • requiring a religious test as a qualification for any office or public trust under the Commonwealth.

Therefore, for Daniel Andrews to prevent Margaret Court from the free exercise of the teachings on Christianity, he violates one of the prohibitions, “the free exercise of any religion,” guaranteed by the Australian Constitution.

Copyright © 2021 Spencer D. Gear. This document last updated at Date: 27 January 2021.

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Who can break the drought?

(Image courtesy, Australian Government 2018. “Councils offer aid to drought-stricken farmers“)

By Spencer D Gear PhD

There are heartbreaking examples across Australia of how a long drought is creating devastation, especially for farmers in the outback.

1.  Messages from the media

How are the mass and social media portraying it?

clip_image002The Guardian Australia Edition published an article in 2019, “Just one in 20 Australian news stories about drought mention climate change,” 2 August.

Just one in 20 Australian news stories about drought mention climate change…. However, only around one in 20 news stories about the drought mention climate change. An analysis of media coverage of the drought was prepared for Guardian Australia by Streem, a media monitoring company.

clip_image002NSW Farmers produced the story, “The day the city woke up to the drought,” May 2019. In it these examples and photos were given:

The role of the media and the perception it relays to consumers and even foreign trade partners is a contentious topic, hotly debated at the Global Food Forum (GFF) in Sydney in late March, where farmers, journalists and agribusiness leaders met to discuss the future prosperity of agriculture.

clip_image004(Emotive headlines: there was a concentrated focus on the drought by newspapers, television and the internet in mid-2018. This was later followed by ‘Adopt a Farmer‘ campaign launched in May 2019.)

clip_image002[2]ABC News, Brisbane, Qld wrote, “Australia’s drought crisis,”

Farmers are facing ruin across New South Wales and Queensland in what some are calling the worst drought in living memory, with costs of stock feed and transport spiralling….

Large swathes of eastern Australia have been in drought for periods ranging from a year to seven years, with the record dry conditions prompting calls for further federal and state measures.

clip_image002[3] ABC News, Rural reported in 2018, “Challenging the public perception of drought: not all farmers are ‘busted cockies with starving animals,” 7 August:

“In the media at the moment all you seem to see is busted cockies with starving animals. I don’t know if that is a great reflection of what is happening out there,” Scone farmer Adam Williamson said.

“These are times where there’s a lot of judgment on people not doing the right thing, and I don’t think the industry wants to be tarred with such a brush.”

Almost 100 per cent of New South Wales is either in drought, on drought watch or experiencing the onset of drought, while 57 per cent of Queensland is classified as in drought.

Mr Williamson, who has been experiencing dry conditions for two years, said many in Queensland and New South Wales had planned for drought and destocked early, while also setting aside reserve fodder or grain.

So the media reflects on tough times for farmers in regional, outback Australia. Some coverage blames climate change for this disaster.

clip_image002[4]What is the Australian government’s view (Department of Agriculture)? Part of the Plan for Drought response, resilience and preparedness is:

This Plan cannot make it rain; no plan can. And the Plan is not just about responding to and preparing for drought—it is about giving our farmers and regional communities hope for the future and building resilience….

Putting food on the table of the farmers who feed the nation

Farm Household Allowance (FHA) is an income support payment for farmers and their partners experiencing financial hardship, regardless of its cause.

The package of assistance includes:

· a fortnightly payment—$105,266 total payment over four years per household where both partners are on FHA

· allowances to help with expenses like rent, phone and medicine

· a Health Care Card

· a financial assessment of the farm business (worth up to $1,500)

· funding to help develop skills, access training and pay for professional advice (worth up $4,000).

FHA was established on 1 July 2014. In 2019 an independent review panel made recommendations for improvements to FHA. In response to the review, and in recognition of the ongoing drought conditions, the government has made, or is in the process of making, a number of improvements to ensure that the payment is more reflective of the needs of farmers facing financial hardship.

These changes mean more farmers will have access to vital income support.

It is true this government’s Plan cannot make the rain come. What an amazingly practical and basic statement! But it’s missing something profound: Please answer the question: Who can make it rain?

clip_image002[5]There was this urgent plea on Instagram:

clip_image006Farmers are sharing horrific photographs of the impact of the drought on social media, along with the hashtag scottmorrisonwhereareyou. Source: Instagram.com/thewestiswaiting

A new viral Instagram page called ‘The West is Waiting’ was launched earlier this week and is already gaining traction online. Farmers who set up the campaign said the purpose is to flood the internet with images of people, places and business that have been, are being, or are about to be, destroyed by the drought.

Farmers are encouraging those impacted by the harsh conditions to use the #scottmorrisonwhereareyou

hashtag on social media and share their images and stories. The aim is for the gut-wrenching photographs to go viral and capture Morrison’s attention. https://www.instagram.com/p/B2fnoBpD-eF/[1]

2. An example of Queensland heartache

Queensland Country Life posted this story on Facebook with a link to, “Central and north west graziers in need of a start or follow-up rain“, 18 January 2021. In the article, it provided these contrasting photographs:

clip_image008“The green tinge in paddocks in north west and here in central west Queensland is deceiving, with much of it being weeds rather than growth from grass tussocks.”

The article stated:

“Matt and Amanda Bauer at Greendale to the west of Tambo, are in a pocket that’s not received even a hint of a break in the season yet.

They have rainfall records stretching back to the 1890s and say this is the first time those records show four consecutive years of less than 325mm on the property.

clip_image010Recent rainfall records at Greendale, west of Tambo.

“We’ve been here for 27 years and this is definitely the worst we’ve experienced,” Mr Bauer said.

The pain of waiting while rain has fallen around them has been compounded by forecasts of 100mm or more by the Bureau of Meteorology that haven’t eventuated.

“We did expect a break by now, and it hasn’t happened,” Mr Bauer said. “We’re in a pocket that’s just missed out.”

They’ve been saved by their property Glenariff at Stonehenge, which was in the line of storms in 2019 and which still has some grass, but have been seeking out agistment options in recent days.

“February 18 was when it rained at Greendale last year,” Mr Bauer said. “But we’re going to need a lot of rain to turn this around.”

2.1 Where is Greendale, Qld?

clip_image012(Image courtesy bonzle.com)

“The nearest more populous place is the village of Tambo which is 18km away with a population of around 360.”

 

3. What is the solution for more rain?

Yes, Australia needs to build more dams and proceed with plans like those for the Murray-Darling basin. Sometimes cloud-seeding may be helpful but who sends the clouds? Australians and the government need to be generous to those suffering through these severe catastrophes with practical and financial help.

But there’s a more fundamental and essential conclusion. ABC News Southern Qld reported: “Two-week-old baby Clay ‘brings rain’ to drought-stricken Queensland as producers rejoice,” 21 January 2021.

clip_image014Wide Bay Creek is running at Kilkivan, Qld after 61mm of rain in recent days. (Supplied: Piggy in The Middle) Kilkivan is 50.1 km W/NW of Gympie, Qld.

Mason Mayne from Kilkivan had 61mm of rain in recent days, which got the creek running.

“We’ve been really lucky here,” he said.

“We had rain in December, and we’ve had good follow-up falls.

“The grass is growing like crazy and our tanks are overflowing.”

The Department of Agriculture and Queensland’s drought committee will meet after the wet season and make its drought declaration recommendations in April.

Did you get it? A brand-new baby brought the generous rain to Mitchell Qld. For the rain that came to Kilkivan, “We’ve been lucky here.” How much luck brings rain? Surely this is a happy father’s quip and not one that gets to the heart of the drought crisis.

3.1 Have you ever thought seriously about who or what brings the rain and droughts?

I consider many Aussies are ignorant of the fact that Mother Nature can do absolutely nothing to bring or take away the rain. The Christian Scriptures make it abundantly clear who sends the rain and withholds it:

clip_image016“He [God] sends showers on earth and waters the fields” (Job 5:10 CEV).

There is no Mother Nature or “lucky to get the rain” in this explanation. The word for God in Job 5:10 is El = Almighty God. Do you understand the vast difference between an Australian’s explanation of the generator of rain and the true creation of rain? How long will it take for us to acknowledge that God sends the rain and do what Job did to restore his misfortune. Read about it in Job 42:7-17 (ERV).

Job 14:10 (ERV) is a summary of God’s answer when Job prayed, not to Mother Nature, but to Almighty God: “Job prayed for his friends, and the Lord made Job successful again. The Lord gave him twice as much as he had before.”

There are profound lessons here for those in Australia who are losing many things through drought. Job lost everything: Job 1:13-22. Imagine having a wife like this: “His wife said to him, ‘Are you still holding on to your faith? Why don’t you just curse God and die!’” (2:9)

clip_image016[1]“Then you will be acting like your Father in heaven. He makes the sun rise on both good and bad people. And he sends rain for the ones who do right and for the ones who do wrong” (Matthew 5:45 CEV).

It doesn’t matter whether you are a Christian believer, disinterested person or an atheist; you need to understand the facts. The media and politicians admit it:

clip_image018 “We can’t make it rain” (Former Australian Prime Minister Malcolm Turnbull).

 

clip_image018[1]“This Plan cannot make it rain; no plan can,” (Australian Government Plan for Drought response, resilience and preparedness)

 

clip_image018[2]Margaret Kowald & W Ross Johnston wrote a book about the North Australian Pastoral Company, which is one of Australia’s largest and oldest private cattle companies and is located in the Northern Territory. The book is titled appropriately,

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By Boolarong Press Pty Ltd ABN 60 009 754 929

clip_image021So, what should we do when God is withholding the rain and there is drought? God provides the instruction: “Elijah was a person just like us. He prayed that it would not rain. And it did not rain on the land for three and a half years! Then Elijah prayed that it would rain. And the rain came down from the sky, and the land grew crops again” (James 5:17-18 ERV).

The message is crystal clear: Pray intensely for God to end the drought. How many people in these drought-stricken areas are going to churches and houses (with social distancing) and crying out to God in prayer for Him to break the drought. You don’t have to go to a group gathering but it is an excellent place for encouraging support and giving encouragement.

Blaming Mother Nature for our situation is a farce – a lie – as no such personification sends the rain. The Almighty God is the only one who can break the drought.

Is this too Christian of a message? However, it is God’s truth about who breaks the drought by sending the rain in His season.

4. Who causes floods and droughts?

The Psalmist wrote:

Psalm 107:33-34 (ERV):

He changed rivers into a desert.
He stopped springs from flowing.
He made the fertile land become salty,
because the people living there did such evil things.

The Almighty God is the One who changes the weather, brings or stops the rain. We promote falsehood when we blame it on Mother Nature. As for the slogan, “We can’t make it rain”, that’s as stupid as saying green frogs should learn to fly.

Of course no person on earth can make it rain. However, it’s time for the mass and social media to be honest with who sends the rain. Is it too blunt to say, “The Almighty God” sends the rain and we desperately need to seek drought-breaking rain?

It’s probably better to acknowledge that there are too few people in the media, on the street, and politicians who serve and fear the Lord God.

We must not be embarrassed in Australia to talk about the Lord God’s sending the rain. After all, Australia’s Christian foundation is demonstrated each day when the President of the House reads a Christian prayer. Christian values brought to Australia by the First Fleet and enshrined in the Australian Constitution: ‘Humbly relying on the blessing of Almighty God’.

The introduction (preamble) of the Australian Constitution reads:

An Act to constitute the Commonwealth of Australia

[9th July 1900]

WHEREAS the people of New South Wales, Victoria, South Australia, Queensland, and Tasmania, humbly relying on the blessing of Almighty God, have agreed to unite in one indissoluble Federal Commonwealth under the Crown of the United Kingdom of Great Britain and Ireland, and under the Constitution hereby established….[2]

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

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

Jeremiah 14:22 (ERV):

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

What should we learn from this verse? No foreign god of any sort has the power to bring rain. We do know who sends the rain and it’s time for the media, politicians and ordinary folks to own up: “We do know that Almighty God sends the rain but we are not prepared to bow down to His laws.” Therefore, the more we pursue secular values, the more droughts, floods, and other disasters will come from the hand of God who showed what he could do with drought and floods.

He has done it on a much larger scale in years of the past – the worldwide flood that wiped out all people except 8 in Noah’s Day (Genesis 6-9) and the devastation of what happened at Sodom & Gomorrah (Genesis 18-19).

Let’s apply this to Australia. It could be said of other nations also. Your idols of materialism, entertainment and false religion cannot send the rain and will prohibit you from focussing on the One who is responsible for the rain.

clip_image023(image courtesy Dreamstime)

Mother Nature (the sky) does not have the power to send rain or end the drought. It’s fantasy to look to an image of something to bring rain. According to the Oxford English Dictionary, Mother Nature is “Nature personified as a creative and controlling force affecting the world and humans.” Synonyms for it include: “the natural world, the living world, creation, the world, the environment, the earth, Mother Earth, the universe, the cosmos, natural forces” (Oxford English Dictionary 2021. s.v. Mother Nature).

The Lord is the only One who can break the drought and bring rain. When that happens, the children will be rejoicing in the mud like this:

clip_image025Archie Saunders experiences the largest rainfall of his life with his dad, Nick. Source: Facebook

Olivia Lambert, News Editor, Yahoo! Sports, 10 January 2020 wrote:

In a time of severe drought and disastrous bushfires, a NSW mum has found a drop of hope amid the devastating circumstances.

Nkala Frost, from Wollomombi in NSW’s New England region, for months has been confronted by bone dry dams and dust on the property where she lives with her family.

Not only have they been dealing with the extremities of the drought, but they were also forced to evacuate in November as a bushfire came within just eight kilometres of their home.

But on Thursday afternoon, Ms Frost and her family finally had a bit of respite, with the heaviest rainfall they’ve had in months drenching their usually withered surroundings.[3]

See my other articles about Australia and disasters:

clip_image027 Australia is in deep trouble: Droughts, floods and fires

clip_image029Get to the heart of the BIG drought, fires and floods

clip_image031This deep-seated problem brings ruin to the outback and to the Australian nation

clip_image033Pointing Towards a Solution

clip_image035Connection between spiritual condition of the nation and disasters

clip_image037Why does God allow floods to devastate Australia?

Please join me in telling the truth about who sends the rain.

5.  Notes


[1] Phillip Portman, startsat60, “Drought-stricken farmers make emotional plea to PM in series of dramatic photos,” 20 September 2019. Available at: https://startsat60.com/media/news/politics/farmers-australia-drought-social-media-scott-morrison-where-are-you-the-west-is-waiting (Accessed 20 January 2021).

[2] Parliament of Australia. “Commonwealth of Australia Constitution Act,” 9 July 1900. Available at: https://www.aph.gov.au/About_Parliament/Senate/Powers_practice_n_procedures/Constitution/preamble (Accessed 20 January 2021).

[3] Yahoo! Sport, “’He wasn’t sure what to do’: Emotional moment dad and two-year-old revel in long-awaited rain.” Available at: https://au.sports.yahoo.com/australia-drought-nsw-mum-takes-photos-son-playing-rain-095146562.html (Accessed 20 January 2021).

 

Copyright © 2021 Spencer D. Gear. This document last updated at Date: 22 January 2021.

Pink and green decorative ribbon clip artPink and green decorative ribbon clip artPink and green decorative ribbon clip art

I don’t have the faith to believe.

Ships in a Storm, 1860 - Ivan Aivazovsky

(Image courtesy Wikiart)

By Spencer D Gear PhD

Visit an Internet Christian forum and start a topic, “Faith is not the same as belief,” and watch the reaction.

I came in late when I participated in a discussion on the topic, “The Good News/The Bad News” (christianforums.net),[1] where I read these kinds of statements:

1. Are belief and faith the same?

clip_image002 I may be wrong in my assessment of your position, but it seems that you [Fastfredy0] are saying believing and faith are the same, nothing could be further from the truth.
Faith is a noun and comes to us when God speaks to us, whether directly as in Genesis 12, or indirectly through those He sends to preach the Gospel.
Believe on the other hand is a verb and is what we must to do in response to the Gospel message. Believe carries the idea of obey, which is why we se some passages say believe the Gospel, while others say obey the Gospel.
Do we agree on this or disagree?[2]

JLB continued:

The cause of faith is God. Faith is what we receive from God when He speaks to us. See Hebrews 11.
However, what causes faith to be activated, and be complete and able to produce the intended divine result is believing and therefore obeying; the obedience of faith?
When faith comes to us from God, because we hear Him speak to us, it is dormant and incomplete and must be activated or made alive by our obedience, our corresponding action of obedience.
Was not Abraham our father justified by works when he offered Isaac his son on the altar? Do you see that faith was working together with his works, and by works faith was made perfect? James 2:21-22
Was not Abraham our father justified by works when he offered Isaac his son on the altar?

  • by works faith was made perfect?

Perfect here means complete.
The work that James is referring to is obedience to the word from God, by which Abraham received faith, which was to offer his son Isaac on the altar.
Do we agree or disagree?[3]

Part of Fastfredy0’s response was: “According to https://www.biblestudytools.com/dictionaries/bakers-evangelical-dictionary/belief-believe.html … belief/believe is the same as faith per the first bible dictionary I looked up.”[4]

Belief, Believe

· Baker’s Evangelical Dictionary of Biblical Theology /

· Belief, Believe

See Faith.[5]

So JLB sees faith and believe as different while Fredy considers them to be the same. This has been my view but I’m open to a different interpretation if there is biblical evidence.

2. Why go to Bible dictionaries?

clip_image003Why do we need another definition of faith, other than the definition the Bible gives? Please answer my question.”[6]

But the question remains, why do we look to Bible dictionaries written by men for the definition of a word when the Bible defines that word for us?
Can‘t we agree on the definition that the Bible gives us?
Faith comes to us from God, and is the substance of the thing hoped for and the evidence of things not seen.
[7]

My response was:[8]

Your post raises a few issues for me:

  1. Don’t you realise that we would not have translations into English or any other language if it were not for experts/scholars/professional linguists who knew the original languages? Have you ever looked at the translation committees for the KJV, ESV, NASB, NIV, NLT and NRSV? You should be staggered to know how knowledgeable these linguists were of the original languages. They are human beings. What?clip_image004
  1. clip_image006The Bible doesn’t give us the meaning of many verses. It simply gives us a basic translation. As we’ve found in this thread, the nuances of Eph 2:8-9 (ESV) are not clear from a basic reading of the text. It needs exegesis and the use of exegetical Greek aids from leading Greek commentators and Bible lexicons/dictionaries. I would not be able to exegete from the Greek if I didn’t study introductory Greek under Dr Larry Hurtado, Regent College, Vancouver BC, Canada, using J W Wenham’s, Elements of New Testament Greek, and in completing my BA in biblical literature and NT Greek at Northwest University, Kirkland WA, I used Dana & Mantey, A Manual Grammar of the Greek New Testament (available free online as pdf).
  1. I would not have grasped basic NT Greek if it were not for my Greek teachers who taught me. Believe it or not, they were men. I learned Greek from – shock horror – men who were God’s gift to the body of Christ.
  1. All Bible translations were translated by men and women. Does that bother you?
  1. Many times the Bible doesn’t define a word for us. That influenced Richard Trench to research and publish his book, The Synonyms of the New Testament (available online). By reading the English Bible alone, how will you differentiate among the three Greek words for love? What’s the difference in meaning for the “word” translated from logos or rhema? There are 3 Greek words for “hell”. What are the words and what are their differences in meaning? There are a few different words for “heaven”. What are the differences in meaning?
  1. Your position, in my view, demeans God’s gift of teacher for the benefit of the body of Christ (Eph 4:11-12 ESV).
  1. I can’t agree with you on “the definition that the Bible gives us” for a word. I find that to be a naive point of view as the Bible does not define all words. It translates them but exegesis is needed to get to the root meaning of some words.
  1. I recommend the article by I Howard Marshall, “The Problem of New Testament Exegesis (Journal of the Evangelical Theological Society).”

JLB doesn’t give up: “When the Bible gives us the meaning of a word, especially an important word like faith, can’t we all agree this is the meaning that God intended for us to use?”[9] He continued his rave against God’s gift of Bible teachers:

Because Bible teachers are so desperately needed in this time of so much false doctrine, we should all be in agreement when the Bible defines a word for us, and we should use that definition rather than some commentary definition.
Are you are there is a difference between teaching scripture and teaching man’s commentaries?
The Pharisees taught commentary, a mixture of scripture and Talmud, and tradition. They ended up murdering Jesus who taught pure truth.
[10]

To this I responded:[11]

I’ve already answered you in #304.
I agree that the fundamental definition of faith is in
Heb 11:1 (ESV): “Now faith is the assurance of things hoped for, the conviction of things not seen.”
This verse involves intellectual assent to the facts of faith and trust (a conviction) in the facts.
How will you know the difference between the faith of Heb 11:1 (ESV) and the faith of
James 2:19 (ESV): “You believe that God is one; you do well. Even the demons believe [have faith]—and shudder!”

What did I write at #304?[12]

I happen to believe in exegesis of the text and that means digging into the etymology of words, grammar, and syntax of the Greek language. You may be able to find that information from a plain reading of the text. I can’t. I don’t want a simplistic reading of the text.


I cited from the most extensive word studies ever produced, Kittel & Friedrich’s (eds) Theological Dictionary of the New Testament.

I go to Bible Lexicons and Theological Dictionaries to better understand the meaning and etymology of words.

This poster jumped in with a helpful comment:

I think your (sic) misunderstanding.

The Bible was not written in English. Faith is an English word that was translated from a foreign language.


Studying the original language helps to better understand the text.
A servant is not above its master. If God declared His word in Hebrew, Aramaic and Greek, then English is serving those languages.

To raise the English language above the original tongues of those whom the Holy Spirit imparted God’s Word is to cause the master to become the servant.[13]

clip_image003[1]JLB can’t tolerate that kind of challenge. He wrote:

Of course I never said we are to raise the English language above the original language. What I am saying is, when the bible defines for us what a word means, then to refer to commentaries to validate a different definition is a recipe for division.
Believe and faith are two different words and should not be used interchangeably.
[14]

Again, this poster is pushing his idiosyncratic theology of faith and believing not being used interchangeably. That may be the case, but at this stage of my study and writing my article, based on my understanding of the Greek language, that is not the case. I’m tentative in saying they are synonyms.

JLB’s problem, in my view, is that he doesn’t know how to exegete words and grammar in Greek and Hebrew, so he resorts to English giving him the correct meaning when it can’t give him the differences in meaning for several Greek words such as faith/believe, love, hell, word, etc.

The Greek word for “unloving” in the Greek NT is astorgos, “a” meaning “no/not”, so it negates the Greek noun, storgos, which means “love, feel affection for someone, of the love of a wife for her husband.”[15] So astorgos refers to someone who is unloving, and feels no affection or love for another person, including a spouse. This is not the same kind of love as for philia or agape (or eros, which is not in the NT). Exegesis of the text is so important – obtaining the meaning out of the text and not imposing one’s meaning onto the text, of the original language.

If a preacher/teacher doesn’t know the original biblical language he or she will have to depend on commentaries by teachers who knew the original languages. Sometimes, comparing several different translations (both formal equivalence[16] and dynamic equivalence[17]) may help to better understand a word or passage, instead of using Bible lexicons. I appreciate that many Christians do not have the training in the original languages to be able to access Bible lexicons (dictionaries).

Astorgos is found in only two NT passages – Rom 1:31 and 2 Tim 3:3 – but it does involve a word for love – a negation of that word.

clip_image003[2]“When the Bible gives us the meaning of a word, especially an important word like faith, can’t we all agree this is the meaning that God intended for us to use?”[18]

“Believe and faith are two different words and should not be used interchangeably.”[19]

Believe and have faith in are not the same.
The verse does not say have faith in, that is your inserted opinion based on your understanding that comes from commentaries. You believe that there is one God. You do well. Even the demons believe—and tremble!
James 2:19.

The point James is making here is demons believe in God but don’t obey Him.
Believing without obeying is demonic believing and profits us nothing.
Likewise those who believe Jesus is Lord but don’t obey Him, are deceived.
Faith must have the action of obedience to be complete, and active or alive.

Was not Abraham our father justified by works when he offered Isaac his son on the altar? James 2:21[20]

This is an example of some strange theology that lurks around churches and the Internet when Christians don’t dig deeper than a surface reading of the text in English. An exegesis of the noun, “faith,” and the infinitive, “to believe,” demonstrates faith and belief can be used interchangeably in the NT.[21] However, is that always the case?

3.  Light from Romans 3:22

Let’s use Rom 3:22 as an example (See translation below from the NIV).

English Bibles translate words from the original Hebrew, Aramaic and Greek. That does not give us the full meaning of any word or grammatical construction. That will take exegesis, but there are too many lazy promoters of the Bible who simply want to read a translated language in English as stating the true meaning of a word. That is not the way it is and I won’t accept such gullible conclusions.

We read this in John’s Gospel: “Now Jesus did many other signs in the presence of the disciples, which are not written in this book; but these are written so that you may believe that Jesus is the Christ, the Son of God, and that by believing you may have life in his name” (John 20:30-31 ESV). I have searched in vain in John’s Gospel for the word, “faith” (It may be there), but have not found the exact word but the concept of faith is there. Pisteuo and its declensions[22] are used over 100 times in John’s Gospel, meaning “I believe” (or other meaning of “believe” associated with the declension) and that leads to “life in his name” (John 20:31 ESV).

Examples of different declensions of pisteuo in John’s Gospel include:

  • John 1:7 (NASB), “so that all might believe through him.” “Might believe” is pisteus?sin, aorist, active, subjunctive, the subjunctive mood is the mood of doubt, 3rd person plural verb. Since it is aorist, it refers to a point of action, but there is doubt associated with it, so the translation, “might believe”, is more than acceptable.
  • John 3:12 (NASB), “If I told you earthly things and you do not believe, how will you believe if I tell you heavenly things?” Both uses of “believe and the negative do not believe.” The first use of “believe” is pisteuete (present tense, active voice, indicative mood, second person plural), which means you, as a group, do not continue to believe. The second use of “believe” is pisteusete, which is future tense, active voice, indicative mood, second person plural. Being future time, it does include a future time element.”
  •  John 17:8 (NASB), “they believed that You sent Me.” “Believed” is the Greek, episteusan, which is a pluperfect tense, which “is a secondary tense. It is used of action that had been completed prior to some point in the past. It is the Perfect Tense adjusted backward in time”.[23] So, the meaning here is that at some time in the past the disciples believed Jesus was sent by the Father.

Generally in Greek the suffixes for nouns are called declensions, while the suffixes for verbs are titled conjugations.

On the other hand, Rom 3:21-23 (NIV) states,

But now apart from the law the righteousness of God has been made known, to which the Law and the Prophets testify. This righteousness is given through faith in[24] Jesus Christ to all who believe. There is no difference between Jew and Gentile, for all have sinned and fall short of the glory of God.

Here, righteousness is given through faith in Jesus Christ to all who believe. Are faith and belief interchangeable in Rom 3:22? Adam Clarke explained:

That method of saving sinners which is not of works, but by faith in Christ Jesus; and it is not restrained to any particular people, as the law and its privileges were, but is unto all mankind in its intention and offer, and becomes effectual to them that believe; for God hath now made no difference between the Jews and the Gentiles (Adam Clarke, Rom 3:22).

For Clarke, faith in Jesus Christ is available to all people but only becomes effective for those who believe in Jesus. This doesn’t clarify the verse for me.

Douglas Moo, an eminent contemporary Greek commentator, uses the Greek prepositions to explain and accept the traditional view that verse 22 deals with the “human” side of the transaction: “It is ‘through’ faith in Jesus Christ for all who believe…. Paul highlights faith as the means by which God’s justifying work becomes applicable to individuals.” Moo refers to “pistis almost always means ‘faith’: very strong contextual features must be present if any other meaning is to be adopted. But these are absent in the present if any other meaning is to be adopted” (Moo 1996, 224-25).

Moo is aware of a contemporary interpretation gaining favour: “Paul asserts not that God’s righteousness is attained ‘through faith in Jesus Christ,’ but ‘through the faith of Jesus Christ,’ or ‘through the faithfulness shown by Jesus Christ.” Moo does not find the argument for this view compelling.[25] He noted that the section of Rom 3:21—4:25 designated pistis to refer to “the faith exercised by people in God, or Christ, as the sole means of justification” (Moo 1996:225, emphasis in original).

Moo asks:

If Paul mentions human faith in this phrase, why then does he add the phrase ‘for all who believe’?… Paul’s purpose is probably to highlight the universal availability of God’s righteousness. This theme is not only one of the most conspicuous motifs of the epistle, but is explicitly mentioned in vv. 22b-23. God’s righteousness is available only through faith in Christ—but it is available to anyone who has faith in Christ (Moo 1996, 226).

I’m still left hanging: Do faith and to believe have the same or similar meanings?

John Murray considers there are two different applications. Firstly, he acknowledged, “We may wonder why there is the addition, ‘unto all who believe.’” He considered the most reasonable interpretation was:

Not only is the righteousness of God brought into this effectual relation to all believers. Faith is not only effectual to this end; it is invariably effective whoever the person believing is….

This interpretation receives confirmation from the immediately succeeding clauses: “for there is no difference. For all have sinned and come short of the glory of God”. As all are sinners, so all believers are justified freely by God’s grace. There are thus two distinct shades of thought in the two elements of the clause. “Through faith of Jesus Christ” stresses the fact that it is only through faith in Christ that this righteousness of God is operative unto justification. “Unto all who believe” stresses the fact that this righteousness is always operative when there is faith (1968, 111-12).

So, as a Calvinist, John Murray understands Rom 3:22 teaches that: (1) There is only salvation through faith in Jesus Christ, and (2) This faith, no matter what the nationality, is only effective when Christians put that faith into effect – by believing.

One author summarised this with care: “The root of pistis (“faith”) is peithô (“to persuade, be persuaded”) which supplies the core-meaning of faith (“divine persuasion“). It is God’s warranty that guarantees the fulfillment of the revelation He births within the receptive believer (cf. 1 Jn 5:4 with Heb 11:1)” [source].

4.  “Believe” in the Gospel of John

(Rylands Library Papyrus P52, recto, part of the Rylands Papyri, The front (recto) contains parts of seven lines from the Gospel of John 18:31–33, in Greek, and the back (verso) contains parts of seven lines from verses 37–38. Image courtesy Wikipedia.)

Therefore, in my understanding, the root meaning of pistis and pisteuo are related, but “faith” is in Christ alone for salvation and “I believe/I have faith” is the need to put faith into effect. Both refer to “divine persuasion” leading to action.
Why would John use “believe” and not “faith” in John 3:16 (NIV)? “For God so loved the world that he gave his one and only Son, that whoever believes in him shall not perish but have eternal life.” To believe leads to eternal life and saving from perishing. Romans 5:1 (NET) states, “Therefore, since we have been declared righteous by faith, we have peace with God through our Lord Jesus Christ.” I can’t see “faith” and “to believe” providing much of a different interpretation – except “to believe” is an effect of “faith.”

So the noun, “faith,” is not used in the Gospel of John but the verb, pisteuo (‘I believe’) is used many times. Remember Jesus’ use of the verb in speaking to Thomas, the one who doubted Jesus. This applies to all who hear the Gospel: ‘Jesus said to him, “Have you believed because you have seen me? Blessed are those who have not seen and yet have believed.”‘ (John 20:29).
Throughout Scripture, I find there is no clear distinction between faith and belief, but Rom 3:22 does hint at a difference. Both are based on the same Greek root: pistis (faith) and pisteuo (I believe). The root comes from peitho, which means “tried to convince” (Acts 18:4), “persuade, appeal to someone” (2 Cor 5:11), “conciliate, satisfy” (Matt 28:14), “depend on, trust in, put one’s confidence in” (Philm 21; Lk 11:22), “be convinced, be sure, certain” (Rom 2:19; Heb 13:18); in the passive voice, “be persuaded, be convinced, come to believe” (Luke 16:31; Heb 11:13); “obey, follow” (Rom 2:8; Gal 3:1); and “be convinced, certain” (Heb 6:9; Luke 20:6).
[26]

Differences between faith and belief

However, this online author considers there are differences between faith and belief:

Belief and faith are not exactly equivalent terms. When Jesus told people, “Your faith has made you well,” faith was still His gift (Eph 2:8, 9). Any gift however, once received, becomes the “possession” of the recipient. Faith however is always from God and is purely His work (2 Thess 1:11).

Note: The Greek definite article is uniformly used in the expressions “your faith,” “their faith” (which occur over 30 times in the Greek NT). This genitive construction with the article refers to “the principle of faith (operating in) you” – not “your faith” in the sense that faith is ever generated by the recipient.

[The meaning of the definite article in this construction is “the principle of faith at work in you,” “the operating-principle of faith in them,” etc. For examples see: Mt 9:2, 22, 29; Lk 17:19; Phil 2:17; 2 Pet 1:5, etc.]

Faith (pistis) involves belief but it goes beyond human believing because it involves the personal revelation (in-working) of God. Faith is always God’s work. Our believing has eternal meaning when it becomes “faith-believing” by the transforming grace of God.

Reflection: Demons believe (and shudder) . . . but they do not have (experience of) faith!

Jas 2:19: “You believe that God is one. You do well; the demons also believe, and shudder” (NASB) [Source].

It seems this author is showing the difference between faith as a gift of God and believing that involves a person accepting that gift. I would add that this gift of faith that is believed, leading to salvation, must be followed by works that demonstrate a person is saved (see James 2:14-26 ERV).

It is possible for people to have fake or deficient faith or belief. The differences between faith and belief seem to be more in contemporary usage. As long as we remember faith and belief do not distinguish between mental assent and unswerving commitment, we are on safe biblical grounds.

5.  Conclusion

As I’ve written this article and considered some of the points above, I’m now unsure if faith and belief can be used interchangeably or have slight differences of meaning. Faith is a gift of God to the person who then accepts that gift – and believes. Is that the order?

I’ve had a change of heart in writing this article. If you want me to conclude that faith and belief are synonymous for the Christian faith, I have not yet become that fixed.

Faith is never generated by me but always by God who moves on my inner being. For the faith to be seen as genuine, it must be demonstrated by doing good deeds. However, God moves for me to experience faith, but I need to believe in Jesus Christ for the forgiveness of sins.

6.  Works consulted

Bauer, E, W F Arndt & F W Gingrich. A Greek-English Lexicon of the New Testament and Other Early Christian Literature.[27] Chicago: The University of Chicago Press (limited edition licensed to Zondervan Publishing House), 1957.

Moo, Douglas J. The Epistle to the Romans (The New International Commentary on the New Testament), Ned B Stonehouse, F F Bruce, and Gordon D Fee (gen. eds.). Grand Rapids, Michigan / Cambridge, U.K.: William B. Eerdmans Publishing Company, 1996.

Murray, John. The Epistle to the Romans, vol. 1 (The New International Commentary on the New Testament), F F Bruce (gen. ed.). Grand Rapids, Michigan: Wm. B. Eerdmans Publishing Co. This is the one-volume edition that contains Vol. 1 and Vol. 2, but the page numbers start at the beginning for each volume, 1968.

Faith clipart | Etsy

7.  Notes


[1] Available at: https://christianforums.net/Fellowship/index.php?threads/the-good-news-the-bad-news.84920/ (Accessed 9 January 2021).

[2] Ibid., JLB#251.

[3] Ibid., JLB#252.

[4] Ibid.

[5] Ibid., Fastfredy0#253.

[6] Ibid., JLB#342.

[7] Ibid., JLB#309.

[8] Ibid., OzSpen#341.

[9] Ibib., JLB#343.

[10] Ibid., JLB#346.

[11] Ibid., OzSpen#347.

[12] Ibid., OzSpen#304.

[13] Ibid., stovebolts#382.

[14] Ibid., JLB#396.

[15] Bauer, Arndt & Gingrich (1957, 774).

[16] These Bible translations include the ASV, Douay-Rheims, HCSB, KJV, NASB, NET, NKJV, ESV, RSV, NRSV and WEB.

[17] Examples include the CEV, ERV, NAB, NIRV, NIV, NJB, NLT, and REB.

[18] Ibid., JLB#343.

[19] Ibid., JLB#396.

[20] Ibid., JLB#353.

[21] Ibid., OzSpen#450.

[22] Declensions in Greek refer to the endings (suffixes) that indicate gender, number and case of a word. The Oxford English Dictionary gives the meaning of “declension” (2020. s.v. “gender”) as, “(in the grammar of Latin, Greek, and certain other languages) the variation of the form of a noun, pronoun, or adjective, by which its grammatical case, number, and gender are identified,” accessed 11 January 2021, https://www.lexico.com/definition/declension.

[23] New Testament Greek, Course II, Lesson 3, Available at: http://ntgreek.net/lesson23.htm (Accessed 11 January 2021).

[24] “Or through the faithfulness of” (footnote in NIV).

[25] The newer view interprets pistis followed by the genitive case as subjective genitive. However, the traditional interpretation uses pistis followed by the objective genitive (e.g. he pistis humov, ‘your faith’, as in NIV and RSV).

[26] Peitho’s definition is from Bauer, Arndt and Gingrich (1957, 644-45).

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

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

Free Line Clip Art Pictures - Clipartix

Free Line Clip Art Pictures - Clipartix

No virgin birth in the Apostle Paul’s writings?

Christ Is Born

By Spencer D Gear PhD

On Christmas Eve 2020, a Christian friend sent me an email in which he asked:

Have you ever wondered if Paul even knew about Jesus’ virgin conception? He never mentions it. Interesting! I wonder if I went back in time to that era and proposed to Paul that Jesus must have had a special conception event, because he did not carry the sin nature which we are all cursed with – whether Paul would have thought about it and agreed with the proposition?

1.  Dangerous Appeal to Silence

This is an interesting and provocative question from my friend that is worthy of consideration for those who have a high view of Scripture, as I do. Did Paul know about the virgin conception?

It is perilous to reason from silence. It’s a logical fallacy and so is erroneous reasoning:

This logical fallacy essentially takes an appeal to authority and flips it around. The appeal to authority says that because an authority A says x, then x must be true; the argument from silence says that because an authority A didn’t say x, then x must be false. In effect, the silence of the authority regarding some particular claim is taken as evidence against the claim itself.[1]

The problem with the Appeal to Silence fallacy is that it appeals to silence to defend a case. Instead, we should examine the evidence. Even though no virgin birth is quoted in Paul, he did quote from the Gospel of Luke, which he regarded as Scripture, and that Gospel included the virgin birth (see 1 Tim 5:17-18; Luke 1:26-38 ERV).

First Timothy 5:17-18 in the ERV states:

The elders who lead the church in a good way should receive double honor—in particular, those who do the work of counseling and teaching. As the Scriptures say, “When a work animal is being used to separate grain, don’t keep it from eating the grain” [Deut 25:4] And the Scriptures also say, “A worker should be given his pay” [Luke 10:7].

2.  Paul regarded Luke 10:7 as Scripture.

It is good for us to remember Luke was a contemporary with Paul and was present in Rome at the end of Paul’s life where Paul wrote, “Luke is the only one still with me” (2 Tim 4:11). In Acts 28:16, it is stated, “When we came to Rome, Paul was allowed to live alone. But a soldier stayed with him to guard him.” Who are the “we”? Acts 16:10 seems to identify “we” as the writer of the Book of Acts, Luke. The NET Bible footnote comment for this verse was: “This marks the beginning of one of the “we” sections in Acts (16:10-17; 20:5-15; 21:1-18; 27:1-28:16). These have been traditionally understood to mean that the author was in the company of Paul for this part of the journey.”

Paul quoted two passages as “scripture”, one from the Old Testament and one in the New Testament. “You shall not muzzle the ox while he is threshing” refers to Deuteronomy 25:4, and “The laborer is worthy of his wages” refers to Luke 10:7. It’s clear that Luke’s Gospel was already common knowledge and accepted as scripture by the time this letter was written.”

According to 1 Cor 11:23-26, Paul appears to be familiar with Luke’s Gospel (Luke 22:19) in citing the teachings around the Lord’s Supper.

Because of Paul’s association with Luke, if Paul disagreed with Luke’s view of the virgin conception in Luke 1:26-38, I would have expected Paul (an eminent defender of the faith) to expose Luke’s fraudulent teaching. I can’t come to that conclusion, based on the evidence. It’s only by inference.

Steven Lewis gives the absence of the virgin birth in Paul’s epistles as an example of the Appeal to Silence Fallacy:

Paul never mentions the virgin birth of Jesus in his epistles, and thus some conclude that Paul must not have known about or believed in the virgin birth and that this must have been a later invention. But why would we expect Paul to mention this specific detail? Was the virgin birth so relevant to Paul’s message that it would have been ridiculous for him not to include it? This would be a difficult case to make! It is much more likely that Paul knew a great deal about Jesus that he did not include in his letters, possibly including knowledge of the virgin birth.[2]

It is good for us to remember there is no record in the Gospels of the specific destruction of the Jerusalem temple in AD 70. There is no siege of Jerusalem either. I don’t find anything about the deaths of Paul, Peter or James. Did they happen or do I have to rely on external sources? Again, I won’t commit the logical fallacy of arguing from silence.

3.  Do not interpret a Bible verse in isolation

In my understanding of hermeneutics (biblical interpretation), it is dangerous to interpret a verse in isolation from the rest of Scripture.

4.  Notes

[1] Steven Lewis, “The Argument from Silence,” Southern Evangelical Seminary & Bible College. Available at: https://ses.edu/the-argument-from-silence/ (Accessed 25 December 2020).

[2] Ibid.

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

Jesus The Savior

What is wrong with allegorical interpretation?

clip_image002

(Image courtesy Wikimedia Commons)

By Spencer D Gear PhD

Does this understanding make sense when you read the newspaper online, view the TV news, and read the Bible?

The normal interpretation of literature is inherently literal. If we can’t trust words to mean what they say, then writing ceases to be a useful means of communication. Only when Scripture itself indicates a text is other than literal should we interpret it non-literally.[1]

1. What is an allegory?

The Cambridge Dictionary’s definition of “allegory” is that it is “a story, play, poem, picture, or other work in which the characters and events represent particular qualities or ideas that relate to morals, religion, or politics.”[2] Pilgrim’s Progress was an allegory of the spiritual journey through life. St Augustine’s City of God is “an allegory of the triumph of Good over Evil.”[3] What we must remember is that for an allegory, there must be specific characters and events that are used to represent symbols. Biblical examples include: rock (Deut 32:4; 2 Sam 22:3); lamb (Gen 22:8; Ex 12:7); the cross (as in “The old rugged cross”), and

https://upload.wikimedia.org/wikipedia/commons/a/ad/ICTHUS.gif = ICHTHYS | Christian symbols, Greek words and meanings, Christian fish

The Christian hymn (written by George Bennard in 1913), “The Old Rugged Cross,” was abounding in allegories:[4]

  1. On a hill far away stood an old rugged cross,
    The emblem of suff’ring and shame
    ;
    And I love that
    old cross where the Dearest and Best
    For a world of lost sinners was slain
    .

    • Refrain:
      So I’ll cherish the old rugged cross,
      Till my trophies at last I lay down;
      I will cling to the old rugged cross,
      And exchange it someday for a crown.
  2. Oh, that old rugged cross, so despised by the world,
    Has a wondrous attraction for me;
    For the dear Lamb of God left His glory above
    To bear it to dark Calvary.
  3. In that old rugged cross, stained with blood so divine,
    A wondrous beauty I see
    ,
    For ’twas on that
    old cross Jesus suffered and died,
    To pardon and sanctify me
    .
  4. To the old rugged cross I will ever be true;
    Its shame and reproach gladly bear;
    Then He’ll call me someday to my home far away,
    There His glory forever I’ll share (allegories highlighted)

I led a Bible study in 2018 and the pastor of the church was present. We had just finished singing  “The Old Rugged Cross” when he declared there was false doctrine in the hymn. He said we don’t worship a cross. I jumped in: “Pastor, what do the first 2 lines teach? An old rugged cross, The emblem of suff’ring and shame’. As I’ve highlighted above, allegories are found throughout this hymn. We don’t worship the cross but it reminds us of the one who suffered and experienced shame for sinners.”

2. Are there allegories in the Bible?

See examples in my article, What is literal interpretation?

Of course there are biblical examples of allegories. See illustrations in other sources:

2tn_.jpg 1.0K “Does the Bible contain allegory?” (Got Questions)

2tn_.jpg 1.0K  Allegory Definition and Meaning – Bible Dictionary

2tn_.jpg 1.0KAllegory” (Oxford Biblical Studies Online)

Let’s move from allegories in the Bible to allegorical interpretation. What’s the difference? Surely there is a need to understand biblical allegories. How can that be at variance with allegorical interpretation?

3. What is allegorical interpretation?

You will find some of my exposition on allegorical interpretation in this article: What is the meaning of the literal interpretation of the Bible?

There are many articles online explaining allegorical interpretation. I see no reason to repeat their content. I refer you to these articles:

Basically, when you interpret Scripture allegorically, you don’t allow the text to speak for itself in exegesis (obtaining meaning out of the text) but choose to impose another “deeper meaning” on the text – which we call eisegesis (reading something into the text).

3.1 Problems with allegorical preaching

David E Reid told of a sermon he heard from Genesis 24:63-64. It was supposed to be a “revival” sermon from the first book of the Bible. These verses state: “One evening he [Isaac] went out to the field to think.[5] He looked up and saw the camels coming from far away. Rebekah also looked and saw Isaac. Then she jumped down from the camel” (ERV).

Here is the crunch line of interpretation for this preacher:

Without elaborating on his interpretation, the preacher explained that Isaac symbolized Christ; Rebekah, the church; and the camel, whose physical characteristics would be the focus of his message, represented the grace of God. Then he delivered a seven-point exposition based on an allegorical interpretation as classic as any I’ve ever heard.

The camel’s nose, he said, can detect water from far away and lead its rider to drink. The spiritual lesson, he added, is that God’s grace can lead us to spiritual water. He similarly interpreted and applied six more of the camel’s characteristics, none of which was mentioned in the text….

As the preacher’s message illustrates, allegorical interpretation seeks some implicit, symbolic meaning hidden in the explicit, literal meaning of Scripture.

Allegorists consider this perceived “deeper” or “spiritual” meaning to be more profound and therefore more desirable than a text’s literal interpretation.[6]

David Reid gave his reasons for rejecting allegorical interpretation (and I endorse them):

clip_image008“Fundamentally, there is no reason to believe God regularly invests Scripture with more than one meaning.[7]

The normal interpretation of literature is inherently literal. If we can’t trust words to mean what they say, then writing ceases to be a useful means of communication. Only when Scripture itself indicates a text is other than literal should we interpret it non-literally.

For instance, nothing in Genesis 24 indicates Isaac, Rebekah or the camels represent anything other than themselves, so the narrative should be taken literally. On the other hand, in John 15:1, Jesus clearly was speaking metaphorically when He said, “I am the true vine …” and His words should be interpreted as such.

It is true that in Galatians 4:21ff. the Apostle Paul interpreted the Genesis account of Sarah and Hagar allegorically even though the Old Testament text nowhere indicates that story is allegorical. But Paul received his interpretation from the Holy Spirit as he wrote a New Testament letter. We don’t have his inspired prerogative.

Since the Bible never suggests it regularly has more than one meaning, additional interpretations should not be assumed.

clip_image008[1]The allegorical method obscures the true meaning and legitimate application of Scripture.

Allegorists generally see the literal meaning of a text only as a tool for unlocking the perceived allegory. Their pursuit of an illusion, then, causes them to ignore the truth which is there.

When interpreted literally, the Song of Solomon exalts the joy of sexual love in a marital relationship. However, generations of Christian allegorists have interpreted it as symbolic of the relationship of Christ to His bride, the church.

Embarrassed by the sexual nature of the text, they have obscured its meaning, even though nothing in the Song indicates an allegory. Their inhibitions have caused them to conceal what God and the author meant to praise.[8]

clip_image008[2]Allegorical interpretation is open to almost unlimited subjectivity.
The allegorist can make Scripture say whatever he wishes. Although his interpretation may seem reasonable and be consistent with what Scripture teaches elsewhere, who can know if it is the right one for a given passage?
[9]

3.2   St Augustine’s strange allegorical interpretation

Take this example from the eminent church father, St Augustine (354-430). Robert Kinney[10] made these observations for Augustine’s allegorical interpretation of the parable of the Good Samaritan:

In Augustine’s rendering, there is a man (Adam) traveling a road. Having been stripped (of immortality) and beaten (or persuaded to sin) by robbers (the devil), he is ignored by a priest (the Law) and a Levite (the Prophets) before being attended to by a Samaritan (Jesus Christ). The Samaritan takes him to the inn (or the Church) where two denarii (the promises of this life and the life to come) are paid to the innkeeper (the Apostle Paul), to take care of the man.[11]

It’s an intriguing example of allegorical interpretation. Yet for those committed to biblical exposition, this kind of interpretation is deeply problematic.[12]

Expositional preaching should be constrained by the biblical or any other author’s intent—and neither Jesus in his telling nor Luke in his recording could have meant much of what Augustine suggests.[13]

This is a longer version of Augustine’s allegorical interpretation of the parable of the Good Samaritan:

A certain man went down from Jerusalem to Jericho; Adam himself is meant; Jerusalem is the heavenly city of peace, from whose blessedness Adam fell; Jericho means the moon, and signifies our mortality, because it is born, waxes, wanes, and dies. Thieves are the devil and his angels. Who stripped him, namely; of his immortality; and beat him, by persuading him to sin; and left him half-dead, because in so far as man can understand and know God, he lives, but in so far as he is wasted and oppressed by sin, he is dead; he is therefore called half-dead. The priest and the Levite who saw him and passed by, signify the priesthood and ministry of the Old Testament which could profit nothing for salvation. Samaritan means Guardian, and therefore the Lord Himself is signified by this name. The binding of the wounds is the restraint of sin. Oil is the comfort of good hope; wine the exhortation to work with fervent spirit. The beast is the flesh in which He deigned to come to us. The being set upon the beast is belief in the incarnation of Christ. The inn is the Church, where travelers returning to their heavenly country are refreshed after pilgrimage. The morrow is after the resurrection of the Lord. The two pence are either the two precepts of love, or the promise of this life and of that which is to come. The innkeeper is the Apostle. The supererogatory payment is either his counsel of celibacy, or the fact that he worked with his own hands lest he should be a burden to any of the weaker brethren when the Gospel was new, though it was lawful for him “to live by the gospel” (Dodd 1961: 13-14; slightly abridged).

Another one of the “villains” promoting allegorical preaching was an early church father, the Alexandrian of northern Africa, Origen (185-254), known as the father of allegorical interpretation. Other church leaders preceded and followed him.

Take a read of his articles online and you’ll see how he does it. See HERE. This is one example of how he abandoned literal interpretation to impose his own view on Scripture:

Origen, in his Treatise on First Principles, recommended that the Old and New Testaments be interpreted allegorically at three levels, the first being the “flesh,” the second the “soul,” and the third the “spirit.” Many of the events recounted in the Scriptures, interpreted in the literal or fleshly sense, Origen claims, are impossible. Many of the laws, when interpreted literally, are impossible or nonsensical. To get at the meaning of these passages, it is necessary to interpret them allegorically. Some connected passages will contain parts that are literally true and parts that are literally impossible.

In this case, says Origen,

For as man is said to consist of body, and soul, and spirit, so also does sacred Scripture, which has been granted by the divine bounty for the salva­tion of man…. The reader must endeavor to grasp the entire meaning, connecting by an intellectual process the account of what is literally impossible with the parts that are not impossible but historically true, these being interpreted allegorically in common with the part which, so far as the letter goes, did not happen at all” (Bk 4, para 11, 20).

Clement of Alexandria - Wikipedia

(Clement of Alexandria – ca. 150 –215 –  Image courtesy Wikipedia)

The individual ought, then, to portray the ideas of holy Scripture in a threefold manner upon his own soul; in order that the simple man may be edified by the ‘flesh,’ as it were, of the Scripture. For so we name the obvious sense. While he who has ascended a certain way may be edified by the ‘soul,’ as it were. The perfect man, again, … may receive edification from the spiritual law…. For as man consists of body, and soul, and spirit, so in the same way does Scripture.

Origen’s predecessor, Clement of Alexandria, also supported the need for allegorical interpretation:

For many reasons, then, the Scriptures hide the sense. First, that we may become inquisitive, and be ever on the watch for the discovery of the words of salvation. Then it was not suitable for all to understand, so that they might not receive harm in consequence of taking in another sense the things declared for salvation by the Holy Spirit. Wherefore the holy mysteries of the prophecies are veiled in the parables— preserved for chosen men, selected to knowledge in consequence of their faith; for the style of the Scriptures is parabolic (The Stromata – Miscellanies 6.15.para 15).

The fundamental error with allegorical interpretation is its adding to the text what is not there.

4. What is literal interpretation?

On 19 December 2020 in Australia, I watched test cricket on TV where Australia convincingly won the test by bowling out India for India’s lowest test score on record of 36 – their worst ever performance at test level. Did that happen? Is the plain meaning that it was literal cricket, a literal test match between Australia and India played at the Adelaide Oval, and there was a literal winner and a literal loser? Australia won by 8 wickets. Was that a literal fact or not?

Some symbolic language was used to describe this diabolical performance, “’Carnage… unbelievable… wait, what happened?‘” So symbolic language was used by a journalist to describe a literal event.

The Sydney Morning Herald’s headline of 19 December 2020 was, “COVID-19 concerns for inner-city; northern beaches in lockdown.” Was this an actual outbreak of Covid-19 or should we seek for a deeper meaning as we read the news?

You know that would be ridiculous but when it comes to the Bible there have been all kinds of reasons given, generally by liberal interpreters, to reject literal interpretation. These are but a few examples:

clip_image010John Dominic Crossan of the Jesus Seminar claims, “Mark created the empty tomb story, just as he created the sleeping disciples in Gethsemane.”[14]

clip_image010[1]Crossan again: “The authorities know and quote Jesus’ own prophecy that he would rise on the third day. That prophecy is made to the disciples [Mk 8:31; 9:31; 10:33;  Mt 16:21; 17:22-23; 20:18-19]…. The authorities do not necessarily believe Jesus’ prophecy, but they fear the disciples my fake a resurrection. Therefore, no guard is necessary because Jesus will have been proved wrong.”[15]

clip_image010[2]“The risen apparitions in the gospels [i.e. the accounts of Jesus’ resurrection] have nothing whatsoever to do with ecstatic experiences or entranced revelations. Those are found in all the world’s religions, and there may well have been many of them in earliest Christianity…. I do not find anything historical in the finding of the empty tomb, which was most likely created by Mark himself…. The risen apparitions are not historical events in the sense of trances or ecstasies, except in the case of Paul.”[16]

There are other biblical scholars who have ridiculed literal interpretation. German theologian, Rudolph Bultmann, was one of them. This is how he attacked the Christian faith:

People cannot use electric lights and radios and, in the case of illness, take advantage of modern medical and clinical means, and at the same time believe in the spirit and wonder world of the new testament. and whoever intends to do so must be aware that they can profess this as the attitude of christian faith only by making the christian proclamation unintelligible and impossible for the present.[17]

clip_image012

(Image courtesy Quotefancy)

clip_image010[3]This anti-supernaturalism continues with:

John Shelby Spong who had a stroke in 2016 and had 90% completed his last book. He can’t write now, so his wife transcribed the last 10%. In the book he stated:

The Incarnation, the virgin birth, resuscitation as the meaning of resurrection and the concept of the Holy Trinity—all are explanations that will never last. People hear the experience of Christ being challenged when it is only the explanation that is at stake. I wanted to make sure that people could understand that explanations have to die, but the experience remains eternal.[18]

clip_image014 There was a public forum at St Francis (Anglican) Theological College, Milton, Brisbane, on December 9, 1998, involving Dr Greg Jenks of the Jesus Seminar (of the Drayton Anglican parish, Toowoomba, Qld., Australia), and Dr Paul Barnett, Anglican bishop of North Sydney, defending the orthodox view. The Seminar was titled, “Behind and Beyond the Jesus Seminar: Implications for Christian Discipleship.”  Dr Paul Barnett[19] is author revised, Is the New Testament History?[20] As of 2012, Dr. Jenks was on the faculty of St Francis Theological College, Brisbane, but as of December 2020, he was: Dean, Christ Church Cathedral, Grafton NSW; Adjunct Senior Lecturer, School of Theology, Charles Sturt University; Executive Director, History; Coin Curator, Bethsaida Excavations Project, Israel; Fellow, Westar Institute, Willamette University, Salem, OR.[21]

Please understand this anti-supernaturalism is associated with their naturalistic world-view. Naturalism dominates their presuppositions. There is no place in their theology for the supernatural Lord God almighty. People like Greg Jenks, John Dominic Cross, John Shelby Spong and others of similar belief are threats to those who don’t know their Bible.

4.1 Literal interpretation includes figures of speech[22]

Thomas Horne, British theologian and researcher (AD 1780–1862) wrote:

The Literal Sense of any place of Scripture is that which the words signify, or require, in their natural and proper acceptation, without any trope [a figure of speech], metaphor, or figure, and abstracted from mystic meaning…. The literal sense has been called the Historical Sense, as conveying the meaning of the words and phrases used by the writer at a certain time….

Interpreters now speak of the true sense of a passage, by calling it the Grammatico-Historical Sense…. The object in using this compound name is, to show that both grammatical and historical considerations are employed in making out the sense of a word or passage.[23]

When I was an MA student at Ashland Theological Seminary, I used A Berkeley Mickelsen’s (1963) text in hermeneutics (biblical interpretation). Mickelsen provided this definition:

Literal … means the customarily acknowledged meaning of an expression in its particular context. For example, when Christ declared that he was the door, the metaphorical meaning of ‘door’ in that context would be obvious. Although metaphorical, this obvious meaning is included in the literal meaning.[24]

The nature of parables is that they are similitudes, i.e. extended similies.
Some examples may help to understand the differences.
[25]

clip_image016 A simile: ‘Like a sheep he was led to the slaughter and like a lamb before its shearer is silent, so he opens not his mouth’ (Acts 8:32 ESV, emphasis added). The eunuch is quoting from Isa 53:7 (ESV) but it is a figure of speech known as a simile.

clip_image016[1] A metaphor: ‘Behold, the Lamb of God, who takes away the sin of the world’ (John 1:29 ESV, emphasis added).

clip_image016[2]We have an example of a similitude, i.e. parable, in the story of the lost sheep in Luke 15:4-7 (ESV), ‘What man of you, having a hundred sheep, if he has lost one of them, does not leave the ninety-nine in the open country, and go after the one that is lost, until he finds it?’ (Luke 15:4 ESV) In this same context of Luke 15 (ESV) Luke tells us the parable of the lost son (Luke 15:11-32 ESV).

clip_image016[3]There is an example of an allegory of the door for the sheep and the good shepherd in John 10:1-16 (ESV). ‘I am the door of the sheep…. I am the good shepherd’ (John 10:7 ESV; John 10:11 ESV). Like the sheep need a fence with a door to keep them safe and from wandering, Jesus is the door into the Kingdom of God.

All of these are examples of the literal sheep, lamb or shepherd but different figures of speech are used.

I take the Scriptures literally but this does not exempt understanding the use of figures of speech in that literal language. I speak of figures of speech such as simile, metaphor, similitude/parable and allegory. When Jesus said, “I am the door” he used a metaphor and did not refer to a wooden door when speaking of himself. When he told Christians, “You are the salt of the earth” he did not refer to literal salt but to the metaphor of how Christians should penetrate the world’s systems with their world views and pervade the secular culture like salt permeates a prepared meal.

This is why it is important to explain what “literal interpretation” means. From the examples I’ve given here, it does not mean an acceptance of dead letterism that does not include figures of speech. Letterism

is a wooden, thin interpretation that fails to go beyond the standard meanings of words and expressions … or to discern the manner in which an author attends to these meanings…. Hence literalism short-circuits the literal sense insofar as it fails to appreciate the author’s intention to give his or her utterance a certain kind of force.[26]

Can you imagine reading your local newspaper or any information online with an allegorical interpretation? How would you ever know if the 9/11 disaster was real or only an allegory? How about Nero’s slaughter of people in the Roman Empire in the first century? Do we have to abandon literal interpretation for the alleged “deeper meaning”? How is my “deeper meaning” of a passage more legitimate than yours? If we use a diversity of meanings of the text it will create chaos in interpretation.

I urge you not to interpret this article using allegorical interpretation. This writing is meant to be read literally.

4.2 I do not use allegorical interpretation because:

clip_image018It destroys the meaning of the text.

clip_image018[1]It invalidates the plain meaning of the text.

clip_image018[1]It promotes eisegesis rather than exegesis of the text. It reads into the text an alleged “deeper meaning” that is not in the text. I wouldn’t do that when I read the daily newspaper and I don’t do it when reading Origen, Bultmann, Spong or Crossan. Promoters of allegorical interpretation wouldn’t dare ask us to use that methodology when reading their writings.

clip_image019[1]It is parallel to a contemporary postmodern, deconstructionist, reader-response interpretation. See my article that explains the similarity: Reader-response methods: How meaning can be stripped from biblical texts

What does a postmodern deconstructionist hermeneutic do to the text? I had an interesting email discussion with New Zealand researcher, Dr Jeremy Koay, who supports the reader-response model because:

(1) Readers, as much as the text, play an active role in a reading experience. He rejects the theory that meaning resides exclusively in the text. Why?

Words in a text evoke images in readers’ minds and readers bring their experiences to this encounter. Because individuals have different life experiences, it is almost certain that no two readers or reading sessions will form the exact same interpretation of a text.[27]

(2) We need to view reading “on an efferent-aesthetic continuum.” Efferent refers to the information taken away after reading, but aesthetic focusses on the readers’ thoughts and feelings during the reading. Both foci are needed, according to reader-response.[28]

I’m sure happy a judge doesn’t use that method of interpretation when making a judgment on the guilt or otherwise of someone who breaks into my house and steals valuables. I’ve had 5 open-heart, valve replacement surgeries. They left me with emotional and physical scars but I can’t deny the facts of where and when I had those surgeries.

I have no problem accepting that emotions can be stirred when reading some narratives. That happens with me, especially when I read of the persecution and martyrdom happening today through Voice of the Martyrs newsletters. No matter how much my emotions are stirred and I’m provoked to pray more for these persecuted saints, we cannot overlook the fact that these facts don’t go away:

  • IRAN: Imprisoned Christian Dangerously Depressed;
  • INDIA: Christian Pastor Beaten and Left to Die;
  • EGYPT: Riots Follow Blasphemy Accusation;
  • PAKISTAN: Court Acquits Imran Ghafur Masih;

Is this an either/or situation when we read books, news, etc? No! However, we don’t act on the emotions, the aesthetics.

Here you’ll read some of the interaction I had with Dr Koay. While he emailed me, he refused to print my article on the website of Edumaxi. This is my article as a response: Reader-response methods: How meaning can be stripped from biblical texts

Are the death and resurrection facts of history or feelings of aesthetic beauty?

4.3 Compare allegorical interpretation with postmodern reconstruction

See 4.2 (2) above.

Allegorical interpretation is another version of contemporary, reader-response deconstruction of a text: Reader-response methods: How meaning can be stripped from biblical texts.

I consider that I would be cheating John Milton in Paradise Lost to use my culture, experience and world view to place my meaning on Milton’s poetry written in the seventeenth century. I need to understand the language and concepts he used and the biblical world view to which he referred. Uncovering the intent of the author is my primary task as an interpreter of any document from Yahoo News, or to the Bible.

This is done by listening to the “plain meaning” of a text. I don’t use the language of “pure literal meaning,” so I don’t know how that differs from taking a text – narrative or poetry – at face value. I obtain the meaning from the text and not from my creative invention (reader-response, pesher method, allegorisation) of the text.

I have great difficulty in refusing “pure literal meaning” when I investigate Captain James Cook’s circumnavigation of NZ and sailing up the east coast of Australia in HMS Endeavour in 1770:

clip_image020HMS Endeavour off the coast of New Holland
by Samuel Atkins c. 1794 (image courtesy Wikipedia)

How is it possible to use a reader-response interpretation dealing with the Endeavour when Captain James Cook’s name is associated with an ocean-going ship, The Endeavour? Pure literal meaning applies as much to Jacinda Ardern’s being Prime Minister of NZ and Scott Morrison being elected by his cabinet as the new Prime Minister of Australia. Is plain reading of a text the same as ‘pure literal meaning’ to you?

You stated “This theory rejects the structuralist view that meaning resides solely in the text.” Do you consider that structuralism (meaning because of the language system) has been superseded by postmodern reader-response methodology?

I can’t walk into a local fish and chips shop and give a reader-response interpretation of the menu and expect to get what I ordered. I had to ask for clarification when some friends and I had lunch at a local tavern. My friend ordered whiting for the fish dish. He discovered his fish was NZ whiting and not Australian whiting. Questions for clarification are not equivalent to reader-response hermeneutics whether in the supermarket, at Centrelink (social security), reading The Sydney Morning Herald or reading the Bible.

This is the major problem with allegorical interpretation and a postmodern, deconstructionist, reader-response method of interpretation. I find it best to describe with an image. It wrecks the text of its plain meaning.

clip_image021

(Image courtesy PublicDomainPictures.net)

5. Conclusion

The major problems with allegorical interpretation and postmodern, reader-response interpretations is that they fly along parallel tracks of biblical interpretation. They add to what the text states. This is taboo and should be rejected outright.

While allegorical interpretation adds to the text, it must not be confused with application of a text. I don’t have to follow St Augustine’s interpretation of the parable of the Good Samaritan (Luke 10:25-37 ERV). But the application to people in this century is:

  • Whenever we see a person in need and are able to help, act like the Good Samaritan and go out of your way to meet the practical need.
  • Be the one who helps your neighbour and other people in need.
  • A friend of mine works in aged care. She said many of the older folks are never visited by relatives. Could you check with a local retirement village to see if you can visit people in the village? Make sure you follow the Covid-19 safe procedures.

There are many practical reasons for Christian pastors to abandon allegorical interpretation and stick with the plain meaning of the text. Faithful Bible expositors remain with the text to try to discern what the intent of the author was for the original listeners. They don’t search for “deeper meanings” they invent behind the text.

6.  Works consulted

Barnett, Paul 2003, Is the New Testament History? (rev.), Aquila Press, Sydney South, Australia.

Bultmann, Rudolf. “Theologie des Neuen Testaments.” ET: Theology of the New Testament.

Crossan, J D 1995. Who Killed Jesus? New York, NY: HarperSanFrancisco.

Horne, T H 1841. An introduction to the Critical Study and Knowledge of the Holy Scriptures (online), 8th edn, vol 1. Philadelphia: J Whetham & Son. This citation is available as part of a Google Book HERE  (Accessed 19 December 2020).

Koay, Jeremy 2018. Edumaxi, “What is reader-response theory?” Available at: https://www.edumaxi.com/what-is-reader-response-theory/ (Accessed 21 December 2020).

Mickelsen, A B 1963. Interpreting the Bible. Grand Rapids, Michigan: Wm. B. Eerdmans Publishing Company.

Reid, David E 2019. Preaching. “The Problem with Allegory in Preaching.” Available at: https://www.preaching.com/articles/the-problem-with-allegory-in-preaching/ (Accessed 21 December 2020).

Spong, J S 2018. Unbelievable: Why Neither Ancient Creeds Nor the Reformation Can Produce a Living Faith Today. New York NY: HarperOne.

Vanhoozer, K J 1998. Is There a Meaning in This Text? Leicester, England: Apollos (an imprint of Inter-Varsity Press).

7.  Notes


[1] David E Reid 2019. Preaching.com, “The problem with allegory in preaching.” Available at: https://www.preaching.com/articles/the-problem-with-allegory-in-preaching/ (Accessed 20 December 2020).

[2] Collins Dictionary (2020. s.v. allegory).

[3] Ibid.

[4] From Timeless Truths: Free Online Library, public domain. Available at: https://library.timelesstruths.org/music/The_Old_Rugged_Cross/ (Accessed 19 December2020).

[5] Or, “to go for a walk” (ERV footnote).

[6] David E Reid 2019. Preaching. “The Problem with Allegory in Preaching.” Available at: https://www.preaching.com/articles/the-problem-with-allegory-in-preaching/ (Accessed 21 December 2020).

[7] David R Reid, “The Problem with Allegory in Preaching.”

[8] Ibid.

[9] Ibid.

[10] Robert Kinney 2020. 9Marks.com, “Allegorical Interpretation: Finding the Line Before You Cross It”, 31 March. Available at: https://www.9marks.org/article/allegorical-interpretation-finding-the-line-before-you-cross-it/ (Accessed 20 December 2020).

[11] Augustine, Enarrationes in Psalmos 118, 121 and 125, De Doctrina Christiana 1.30.31ff, Sermo 299.

[12] Without naming Augustine, John Calvin responds to this kind of interpretation in characteristically blunt fashion:

The allegory which is here contrived by the advocates of free will is too absurd to deserve refutation… I acknowledge that I have no liking for any of these interpretations; but we ought to have a deeper reverence for Scripture than to reckon ourselves at liberty to disguise its natural meaning. And, indeed, any one may see that the curiosity of certain men has led them to contrive these speculations, contrary to the intention of Christ.” See Calvin’s commentary on Matthew 22:34-40; Mark 12:28-34; Luke 10:25-37 in John Calvin, The Harmony of the Gospels, Vol. 3 (trans. W. Pringle and J. King; Altenmünster: Jazzybee, 2012), 49. While Calvin’s comments indicate that he is strongly opposed to this kind of allegorical interpretation, he ironically engages in it with a striking frequency. For example, in his commentary on Exodus 28:X, he notes that the garments made for Aaron and his sons are meant to ‘conceal their faults’ and, instead, display virtue and, indeed, the ‘wondrous glory of Christ.’ The text, in Exod 28:2, simply states the garments are to be made “for glory and for beauty.” See Calvin’s commentary on Exodus 28:2 in John Calvin, The Harmony of the Law, Vol. 2 (trans. J. King; Altenmünster: Jazzybee, 2012), 103.

[13] Mark Dever defines expositional preaching as

preaching that takes for the point of a sermon the point of a particular passage of Scripture.” Mark Dever, Nine Marks of a Healthy Church, Third Edition (Wheaton: Crossway, 2000), 44. David R. Helm defines it similarly as “empowered preaching that rightfully sub­mits the shape and emphasis of the sermon to the shape and emphasis of a biblical text.” David R. Helm, Expositional Preaching: How We Speak God’s Word Today (Wheaton, Crossway, 2014), 13. D.A. Carson defines it similarly as “the unpacking of what is there.” He goes on to add: “it is unpacking what the biblical text or texts actually say. If we expect God to re-reveal himself by his own words, then our expositions must reflect as faithfully as possible what God actually said when the words were given to us in Scripture.” D.A. Carson, “Challenges for the Twenty-first-century Pulpit” in Preach the Word: Essays in Honor of R. Kent Hughes (ed., L. Ryken, T. Wilson; Wheaton: Crossway: 2008), 176-177. Finally, Bryan Chapell offers this definition: “An expository sermon takes its topic, main points, and subpoints from a text.2 In an expository message, a preacher makes a commitment to explain what a particular text means by using the spiritual principles it supports as the points of the message.”Bryan Chapell, Christ-Centered Preaching: Redeeming the Expository Sermon, Second Edition (Grand Rapids: Baker, 1994), 131.

[14] J D Crossan, J D 1995. Who Killed Jesus? New York, NY: HarperSanFrancisco, 184.

[15] Ibid., 180.

[16] Ibid., 208.

[17] Rudolf Bultmann, “neues testament und Mythologie,” 18.

[18] From J S Spong Unbelievable, in Insights magazine 2018, “Controversial Author Releases Final Book”, 19 January. Available at: https://www.insights.uca.org.au/controversial-author-releases-final-book/ (Accessed 20 December 2020).

[19] Paul Barnett 2003, Is the New Testament History? (rev.), Aquila Press, Sydney South, Australia.

[20] Ibid.

[21] Information available at Greg Jenks’ homepage: https://gregoryjenks.com/about/ (Accessed

21 December 2020).

[22] Some of the following material is taken from my article, What is the meaning of the literal interpretation of the Bible?

[23] T H Horne 1841. An introduction to the Critical Study and Knowledge of the Holy Scriptures (online), 8th edn, vol 1. Philadelphia: J Whetham & Son, 357. This citation is available as part of a Google Book here.

[24] A B Mickelsen 1963. Interpreting the Bible. Grand Rapids, Michigan: Wm. B. Eerdmans Publishing Company, 33.

[25] These examples are taken from Mickelsen, Interpreting the Bible, 212-213.

[26] K J Vanhoozer 1998. Is There a Meaning in This Text? Leicester, England: Apollos (an imprint of Inter-Varsity Press), 311.

[27] Jeremy Koay 2018. Edumaxi, “What is reader-response theory?” Available at: https://www.edumaxi.com/what-is-reader-response-theory/ (Accessed 21 December 2020).

[28] Koay, “What is reader-response theory?”

 

Copyright © 2020 Spencer D. Gear. This document last updated at Date: 21 December 2020.

Queensland Bill to legalise slaughter of innocent children in the womb – through abortion

A Laughing Handicapped Down Sy...

(Down’s Syndrome child courtesy PublicDomainPictures.net)

By Spencer D Gear PhD

As a concerned Queenslander and voter, I am distressed by the content of a Bill that proposes changes to Qld abortion laws and what that will mean for unborn children. The impact on children in the womb seems to be minimised or forgotten by pro-choice advocates in this debate.

1. What it does for women

Pro-abortion politicians and others are quick to promote what abortion means for the mother who is pregnant.

Deputy Queensland Premier, Jackie Trad, told ABC News, ‘I am unashamedly pro-choice…. What a woman decides to do with her body, in consultation with her doctor, does not belong in the criminal code…. I fully respect that my caucus colleagues in the Labor Party will have different views to me’.[1]

In this article, not a word was reported from Ms Trad about the unborn child and his/her rights. Was the unborn child deliberately eliminated from consideration in this killing of his/her life in this news story? Yes!

What would the Queensland Council of Civil Liberties (QCCL) state about the need for a change in the abortion legislation? Again, ABC News reported that QCCL considered Qld’s abortion laws to be ‘antiquated and draconian’. The President of QCCL, Michael Cope, wanted Qld to have the Victorian system where abortion is legal after 24 weeks gestation, but it requires approval from two medical practitioners. Cope said, ‘It’s time we had this discussion and it’s time we brought some certainty to women’s right to choose in this state,” he said’.[2]

What is the philosophy of the QCCL? Its view on civil liberties is: Concerning abortion, its ‘Abortion law reform media release’ stated that it

believes the current laws do not reflect the status of women in Queensland.

Mr Cope said, “The QCCL contends that the abortion decision is one to be determined in accordance with the conscience of the individual woman. Having said that, the QCCL also acknowledges that the unborn foetus has certain rights which should be recognised but which are less important than the living women’s rights.”

On this view as the pregnancy proceeds toward term the rights of the foetus increase.

Once the foetus has reached viability, the state has a legitimate interest in the potential life.

“The QCCL supports the Victorian model where there are no restrictions on a woman’s right to choose up to 24 weeks. After that the abortion can proceed if 2 doctors reasonably believes (sic) that it is appropriate in all the circumstances”.[3]

Notice the libertine, utilitarian ethic that the unborn foetus has fewer rights than that of the pregnant woman. Who said so? In my view, QCCL made that autonomous, libertine decision.

1.1 Abortion’s negative impacts on some women

See abortionfacts.com: http://www.abortionfacts.com/

1.2 Qld politicians influenced by Emily’s List

Jacki Trad’s support for abortion should not be surprising as she is a member of Emily’s List.[4] One of the beliefs of Emily’s List is ‘Choice’, by which it means:

We believe women must have control over their own bodies and choices in their lives.

Reproductive freedom empowers women and men to choose if, when and how to begin the important journey into parenthood, without fear of discrimination, coercion or violence.[5]

Here is a list of Queensland MPs who are members of Emily’s List:

  • Nikki Boyd – Pine Rivers
  • Leanne Donaldson – Bundaberg
  • Leeanne Enoch – Algester
  • Shannon Fentiman – Waterford
  • Jennifer Howard – Ipswich
  • Brittany Lauga – Keppel
  • Coralee O’Rourke – Mundingburra
  • Jackie Trad – South Brisbane[6]

ABC News reported that

Emily’s List supports progressive female Labor candidates trying to reach Parliament.

“We certainly have a few members of the State Government and they will be supporting the woman’s right to choose,” Lisa Carey from the group said.[7]

2. Politicians: What do Queenslanders want?

MPs, are you listening to ‘What Queenslanders Really Think About Abortion? If you were, you would not support the decriminalisation of abortion. This is what Galaxy Research found in a randomised telephone opinion poll of 400 Queensland voters, conducted from 6 – 8 May 2016, with 13 questions. The research found that a majority of Queenslanders do not want abortion decriminalised. Here are the results:

  • 55% agreed that abortion takes a human life;
  • 66% agreed that the unborn is a person with rights at 20 weeks gestation;
  • 84% agree that abortion harms women’s health;
  • 87% support a cooling off period of 2-3 days;
  • 94% agreed with independent counselling for someone seeking an abortion;
  • 72% opposed late term abortions past 13 weeks;
  • 79% support conscientious objection to abortion;
  • 85% were opposed to late term abortion past 20 weeks;
  • 75% supported parental consent for abortions on minors;
  • 45% opposed, 38% agreed, 17% were unsure of abortions for non-medical reasons;
  • 49% opposed and 43% agreed with the decriminalisation of abortion;
  • Views on the current law: 39% too restrictive, 42% about right, 11% not restrictive enough;
  • There was a potential swing of 6% against pro-abortion MPs.[8]

3. What people WANT should never be the standard

Politicians who bow to what people want will not be dealing with the God’s high standards of morality. Their pragmatism (doing what works) means that some don’t give a hoot about what is good, true, right and proper. What is the right view of what should be done to a child in the womb? See the discussion below when I deal with the teaching from Old and New Testaments that concerns an essential commandment to protect the unborn.

When politicians bow to God’s standards, then we will have a State and nation that is exalted by God himself. The sin of killing the unborn is a stench to God and is blight on our nation. It is a disgrace to any civilised country. See the discussion on Proverbs 14:34 (NIV) below.

4. The Bill to legalise slaying of unborn children

Rob Pyne, now independent (formerly Labor) MP for Cairns stated this about his proposed Bill to legalise abortion, according to ABC News,

Mr Pyne said he would compromise with MPs on when the cut-off should be.

“What I’m saying is a majority of MPs can surely see the current laws are not acceptable, and hopefully we can [arrive] at some compromise that will be acceptable at second reading stage,” the former Labor MP said.

“It’s not 1899, abortion should not be a crime. The world is changing very quickly and unfortunately our politicians aren’t”.

“I have not made any suggestion in relation to gestation periods — whether it be 24 weeks, 20 weeks or whatever — because my main concern is that this Parliament get together and pass law reform in this area, so we need something that a majority of MPs can support”.[9]

Here is a link to a copy of the private member’s Bill proposed by independent MP for Cairns, Rob Pyne, Abortion Law Reform (Woman’s Right to Choose) Amendment Bill 2016. Nowhere in the Bill does it state the time during gestation after which abortion should not take place. Although Mr Pyne expects some compromise by the other MPs at Committee stage, the fact is that he has placed no time limit in his Bill for abortion to not be available.

In introducing this Bill to decriminalise abortion in Qld, what will this mean for unborn children from conception to 9 months gestation? In its current form, unborn children, if abortion were chosen, would have their lives slaughtered by the will of the mother and doctor performing the abortion.

5. This will be what will happen for many Qld children now this Bill is legal.

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(photo courtesy PublicDomainPictures.net)

What has Mr Pyne eliminated from the Qld Criminal Code to compose his Bill? From my assessment of the Draft Bill (link above), these seem to be the

6. LAWS OMITTED BY ‘ABORTION LAW REFORM (WOMAN’S RIGHT TO CHOOSE) AMENDMENT BILL 2016’

224 Attempts to procure abortion[10]

Any person who, with intent to procure the miscarriage of a woman, whether she is or is not with child, unlawfully administers to her or causes her to take any poison or other noxious thing, or uses any force of any kind, or uses any other means whatever, is guilty of a crime, and is liable to imprisonment for 14 years.

225 The like by women with child[11]

Any woman who, with intent to procure her own miscarriage, whether she is or is not with child, unlawfully administers to herself any poison or other noxious thing, or uses any force of any kind, or uses any other means whatever, or permits any such thing or means to be administered or used to her, is guilty of a crime, and is liable to imprisonment for 7 years.

226 Supplying drugs or instruments to procure abortion[12]

Any person who unlawfully supplies to or procures for any person anything whatever, knowing that it is intended to be unlawfully used to procure the miscarriage of a woman, whether she is or is not with child, is guilty of a misdemeanour, and is liable to imprisonment for 3 years.

7. LIFE OF THE MOTHER PROTECTED IN EXISTING ACT

In Queensland, there is currently a law where abortion (the killing of a child in the womb) is a crime. However, Section 282 of the Criminal Code allows for this defence:

282 Surgical operations and medical treatment[13]

(1) A person is not criminally responsible for performing or providing, in good faith and with reasonable care and skill, a surgical operation on or medical treatment of—

(a) a person or an unborn child for the patient’s benefit; or

(b) a person or an unborn child to preserve the mother’s life;

if performing the operation or providing the medical treatment is reasonable, having regard to the patient’s state at the time and to all the circumstances of the case.

(2) If the administration by a health professional of a substance to a patient would be lawful under this section, the health professional may lawfully direct or advise another person, whether the patient or another person, to administer the substance to the patient or procure or supply the substance for that purpose.

(3) It is lawful for a person acting under the lawful direction or advice, or in the reasonable belief that the advice or direction was lawful, to administer the substance, or supply or procure the substance, in accordance with the direction or advice.

(4) In this section—

health professional see the Hospital and Health Boards Act 2011, schedule 2.

medical treatment, for subsection (1)(a), does not include medical treatment intended to adversely affect an unborn child.

patient means the person or unborn child on whom the surgical operation is performed or of whom the medical treatment is provided.

surgical operation, for subsection (1)(a), does not include a surgical operation intended to adversely affect an unborn child.

In Queensland, abortion is a crime; however this section 282 of the Criminal Code provides a defence when the abortion was performed to preserve the mother’s life. When Cameron Dick MP was attorney-general for Qld in 2009, he wrote to Mr Neil Laurie, the Clerk of the Parliament, Queensland Parliamentary Service:

Amendments to section 282 of the Queensland Criminal Code were passed on 3 September 2009. Section 282 has been judicially interpreted to provide an excuse from criminal responsibility, to a person who performs a surgical termination in good faith, with reasonable care and skill, for the preservation of the mother’s life, having regard to the patient’s state at the time and to all the circumstances of the case.

The recent amendments to section 282 clarify that the operation of the section 282 excuse includes the provision of medical treatment and thus medical terminations.

These amendments clarify the law to protect doctors who prescribe medication to terminate a pregnancy, in the same way that doctors who perform surgical procedures are protected under the Criminal Code.[14]

This means that Section 282 has been interpreted by the courts to apply where the termination of a pregnancy is necessary to preserve the mother from serious danger to her life or her physical or mental health, if the continuing pregnancy would entail such effects. In such circumstances, the termination is not out of proportion to the danger to be prevented.

If the Rob Pyne private member’s Bill is presented to the Qld Parliament and there is a successful vote,

8. This will be what happens for many unborn Qld children if this Bill is passed.

(Photos of children killed in second trimester abortions)

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(image courtesy 100 abortion pictures)

Contrary to what Ms Trad believes, the slaughter of children in the womb (see photos above) does belong in the Qld criminal code because it involves the killing of human lives.

9. I have written to Qld MPs about the change in abortion laws.

I asked: Please advise me what you will do to stop the slaughter of pre-born human beings. You should know that it is a medical fact that the child in the womb is a human being from the moment of conception. In case you have doubts, here is some evidence:

  • Leading obstetrician gynaecologist and medical researcher, Dr Landrum B. Shettles, says the real core of the debate over when life begins is ‘the clash between an ethic that makes the sanctity of human life an absolute and a new ethic that renders that life relative and sometimes expendable’ (Shettles with Rorvik 1983:107).
  • 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 ‘the curious avoidance of the scientific fact, which everyone really knows, that human life begins at conception and is continuous whether intra- or extra-uterine until death’ (vol 113, no. 3, September, p. 67).

9.1 How some politicians responded

I wrote to a handful of Qld MPs, including my local MP, to ask their views on the new abortion law. The standard footer to the email replies received was something like, ‘This e-mail and any attachments are confidential and only for the use of the addressee’. Therefore, I cannot reveal the exact information from the various MPs and name them in this article. However, I will note that those who were against changing the law told me so and those who supported the change to be pro-abortion also were not backward in coming forward.

However, my local MP in the electorate of Murrumba, Chris Whiting, has not bothered to reply to my email about this critical legislation that involves the killing of human life – the slaughter of unborn children.

I wrote to one MP on Emily’s List and of course the response was in favour of abortion.

10. What drives the abortion agenda?

It doesn’t matter whether a person is an MP or an ordinary member of the public, there are reasons why a person supports or rejects abortion on demand. What could those justifications be?

The evidence before us, as presented in this article, is that worldviews[15] influence reality and that we are in ‘nothing short of a great Civil War of Values’ that is raging today around the world. Those are the words of James Dobson and he added that ‘two sides with vastly differing and incompatible worldviews are locked in a bitter conflict that permeates every level of society’.[16] It is raging today around the world. It is not only over the abortion agenda, but also a host of other values including the nature of government, terrorism to gain supremacy, homosexuality and transgender issues, truth or otherwise in the mass media, churches that subscribe to biblical fidelity while others abort biblical integrity.

10.1 What is a world view?

All of us have one. It may be defined as ‘a set of presuppositions (assumptions which may be true, partially true or entirely false) which we hold (consciously or subconsciously, consistently or inconsistently) about the basic make-up of our world’ (Sire1988:17). James Sire explained that these are the seven rock-bottom questions that need to be answered to uncover the elements of a world view:

(a) What is prime reality – the really real?

This may include God, gods or the material cosmos.

(b) What is the nature of external reality, that is, the world around us?

Here we seek answers to whether the world was created, is autonomous, chaotic, orderly, matter or spirit, whether our relationship to the world is subjective or objective (Sire 1988:18).

(c) What is a human being?

(d) What happens to a person at death?

(e) Why is it possible to know anything at all?

(f) How do we know what is right and wrong?

(g) What is the meaning of human history? (Sire 1988:18)

Throughout this article, it is evident that there are those with worldviews who support abortion or oppose it. Which worldviews are seen in the evidence from abortionists?

10.1.1 Relativism.

Have you ever heard the saying, ‘That may be true for you, but it’s not true for me’. That’s relativism in action. Here we see it with abortionists who admit that life in the womb is not that of a human being, so to kill that life is acceptable for them, even through it is not for me as I consider the scientific and biblical evidence supports human life in the womb, commencing with conception.

This manifests itself with,

10.1.2 No discussion of right or wrong.

God’s absolute of, ‘You shall not murder’ (Exod 20:13; Matt 5:21), is not on the lips of abortionists and pro-abortion politicians. This absolutistic value is promoted by those who oppose abortion.

10.1.3 Reason supersedes revelation

When a person reasons that life in the womb is not as important as life outside the womb (as in the QCCL statement), that person is demonstrating that human reason usurps God’s authority of, ‘You shall not murder’. A person who supports biblical revelation is not necessarily a person who opposes the use of reason, but generally is one who opposes autonomous reason in determining value judgments.

For those who like to think a little more deeply about these issues, Christian philosopher Doug Groothuis has written an excellent article for your consideration. Be warned! It does contain some philosophical explanations, ‘Christianity and autonomous reason: Drawing an important distinction’ (Groothuis 2015).

10.1.4 Humanism

Here I refer to humanism as ‘the overall attitude that human beings are of special value; their aspirations, their thoughts, their yearnings are significant. There is as well an emphasis on the value of the individual person’ (Sire 1988:74-75). This is evident in the pro-abortion perspective of Jackie Trad, deputy Premier: ‘What a woman decides to do with her body, in consultation with her doctor, does not belong in the criminal code’.[17]

There is a more aggressive secular humanism that promotes these values in Humanist Manifesto II and its naturalism or anti-supernaturalism. I have not seen or heard this so far in the mass media promotion of the new abortion Bill in Qld. However, I would not be surprised to see it emerge as Christians become more outspoken against the Bill and the issues heat up and are exposed.

10.1.5 The nature of human beings

Surely the nature of the one in the womb who is being killed should occupy a prominent place in this discussion. That is not so. To date, I’ve read no pro-abortionist discussions of when human life begins, refuting the biological evidence that human life begins at conception, and the nature of the person in the womb who is being killed through abortion.

10.2 God’s absolutes guarantee justice

I refer you to my article, God’s absolutes are absolutely true. What is the outworking of this in a nation?

I heard an Indian Christian who was visiting Brisbane and spoke only a few kilometres from where I live. He has written a magnificent book to demonstrate how Scripture has been the foundation of healthy Western nations. He admitted this health is waning because of our movement away from the biblical foundation.

I’m speaking of Vishal Mangalwadi and his publication, The Book that made your world: How the Bible created the soul of western civilization (2011).

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image courtesy Thomas Nelson; Vishal Magalwadi blog)

He shows how the Bible has created the foundation of western civilization. His first chapter is: ‘The soul of Western civilization’. In his preface, he wrote:

A cursory glance may give an impression that this is a book about the Bible.  Those who actually read it will know that this is about great literature and great art; great science and liberating technology; genuine heroism and nation building; great virtues and social institutions.  If you have a zillion pieces of a puzzle, would you begin assembling them into one picture, without knowing what that picture is supposed to look like?  The Bible created the modern world of science and learning because it gave us the Creator’s vision of what reality is all about.  This is what made the modern West a reading and thinking civilization.  Postmodern people see little point in reading books that do not contribute directly to their career or pleasure.  This is a logical outcome of atheism, which has now realized that the human mind cannot possibly know what is true and right.  This book is being published with a prayer that it will help revive a global interest in the Bible and in all the great books (Mangalwadi 2011:XXI).

What Mangalwadi noted about the impact of the Bible and truth on a culture is as true for my country of Australia as it is for the United States, Germany, the Central African Republic or Argentina. He asked:

What happens to a culture that is clueless about what is true, good, and just? Pilate answered that question when he declared: ‘I have the power to crucify you or set you free.’ When we believe truth is unknowable, we rob it of any authority. What is left is brute power wielding arbitrary force. Whether a person or an ethnic minority is guilty or innocent becomes irrelevant. His or her right to life depends exclusively on the whims of whoever has power. Any nation that refuses to live under truth condemns itself to live under sinful man (Magalwadi 2011:392).

And this is from a man, Vishal, who was born and raised and lives in India, where he has seen the destructive influences of another world view.

The more Australian politicians get back to the foundation of Scripture, the healthier this Aussie nation will be. If they continue down the present path we are doomed. It is because …

10.3 Righteousness (God’s justice) exalts a nation

This is based on Proverbs 14:34 (NIV), ‘Righteousness exalts a nation, but sin condemns any people’. God’s message is straightforward regarding any nation.

  • When a nation practises God’s righteousness in national actions or in person to person relationships, the nation will be exalted in its reputation and in its impact for God and justice.
  • However, if sinful government decisions are made and people act sinfully towards one another, the nation will be condemned.

As demonstrated in this article, an Australian who deliberately kills living children in the womb (with government permission) is practising unrighteousness as God’s commandment is: ‘You shall not murder’ (Exodus 20:13) and that law of the nation is broken. The ESV footnote for this verse indicates that ‘The Hebrew word also covers causing human death through carelessness or negligence’. This verse is cited by Jesus in Matt 5:21; 19:18, and by Paul in Rom 13:9. The Matt 5:21 statement by Jesus adds a new dimension to the commandment in Ex 20:13, ‘You have heard that it was said to the people long ago, “You shall not murder, and anyone who murders will be subject to judgment”’ (Matt 5:21 NIV). Therefore, the application is that the state of Queensland, should it authorise the murder of unborn human beings, will be subject to God’s judgment. God’s justice for the nation that breaks his law is his judgment. We as a State cannot prosper when we break God’s law in relation to murder of human beings in the womb.

John Gill (AD 1697-1771)[18] was a Baptist biblical expositor at Spurgeon’s church about a century before Spurgeon. Gill’s exposition of Prov 14:34 is:

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(Image courtesy Facebook)

Righteousness exalts a nation,…. Administered by the government, and exercised by subjects towards one another; doing justice between man and man: this exalts a nation, as it did the people of Israel, while practised among them; this sets a people above their neighbours, and high in the esteem of God and men; and is attended with privileges and blessings, which make a nation great and honourable. Some understand this of aims deeds, or beneficence to the poor; which, both in the Hebrew and Greek languages, is called righteousness; See Gill on Matthew 6:1. It may be put for the whole of true religion, which is an honour to a nation, where it obtains; and is what makes the holy nation, and peculiar people, so truly illustrious; and particularly the righteousness of Christ makes such who are interested in it really great and noble, and promotes and exalts them to heaven and happiness;

but sin is a reproach to any people; where vice reigns, iniquity abounds, profaneness, impiety, and immorality of all sorts prevail, a people become mean and despicable; they fall into poverty and contempt; are neither able to defend themselves, nor help their neighbours, and so are despised by them. The word rendered “reproach” most commonly signifies “mercy” or goodness; and some render it, “and the mercy of a people is a sin offering” ; or as one: or it is so “to the nations”; it is as good as a sacrifice for sin, of which the word is sometimes used, or better, more acceptable to God, “who will have mercy, and not sacrifice”, Matthew 9:13; even beneficence and kindness to the poor, the same with righteousness, as before. I think it may be as well rendered, “the piety” or religion “of the nations is sin”; it being idolatry, as Aben Ezra observes: such is the religion of the antichristian nations, who worship idols of gold and silver; and though they may afflict themselves, as Gersom remarks of the idolatrous nations, with fasting and penance, with whippings and scourgings; yet it is nothing else but sin, will worship, and superstition.[19]

The warning to Queensland and Australia is that when this nation promotes unrighteousness (e.g. killing children in the womb) that is contrary to God’s revelation in Scripture, Australia brings on itself a reproach. Anti-Christian legislation by the Queensland government will bring the rebuke of God’s judgment. It is not for me to determine how that will happen in Qld., but we do have a profound example of it with the nation of Israel.

In Joshua’s day, this was the result of practising unrighteousness:

For if you turn back and cling to the remnant of these nations remaining among you and make marriages with them, so that you associate with them and they with you, know for certain that the Lord your God will no longer drive out these nations before you, but they shall be a snare and a trap for you, a whip on your sides and thorns in your eyes, until you perish from off this good ground that the Lord your God has given you (Joshua 23:12-13 ESV).

Jeremiah, the prophet, proclaimed this message to Israel: ‘Thus says the Lord: “What wrong did your fathers find in me that they went far from me, and went after worthlessness, and became worthless?”’ (Jer 2:5 ESV). Could anything be clearer than Numbers 14:43 (ESV), ‘For there the Amalekites and the Canaanites are facing you, and you shall fall by the sword. Because you have turned back from following the Lord, the Lord will not be with you’.

10.4 The God of justice is revealed

To describe how righteousness and justice are synonymous terms, see my article: Righteousness and justice for the Christian.

10.4.1 Justice and righteousness

clip_image011In English, righteousness and justice are 2 different words but in the Hebrew OT and Greek NT that is not so as there is only one word root behind both ‘righteousness’ and ‘justice’.

The word for righteousness, dikaiosune,[20] means ‘uprightness, justice as of a judge’. Examples include ‘enforce justice’ (Heb 11:33), ‘judge justly’ (Acts 17:31; Rev 19:11); ‘righteousness, uprightness as the compelling motive for the conduct of one’s whole life: hunger and thirst for uprightness’ (Matt 5:6) [Arndt & Gingrich 1957:195, emphasis in original].

So the meaning of this word is that God always does what is correct/right and God determines the standard of what is right.
These verses teach us this meaning of righteous/justice (emphasis added):

  • Gen 18:25 (ESV), ‘Shall not the Judge of all the earth do what is just?’
  • Deut 32:4 (ESV), ‘all his ways are justice. A God of faithfulness and without iniquity, just and upright is he’.
  • Isa 45:19 (ESV), ‘I the Lord speak the truth; I declare what is right‘.
  • Paul tells us that God’s sending Christ as a sacrifice for the punishment for sins in Rom 3:25-26 (ESV), it ‘was to show God’s righteousness, because in his divine forbearance he had passed over former sins. 26 It was to show his righteousness at the present time, so that he might be just and the justifier of the one who has faith in Jesus’.

This is reason for us to praise God that in everything he does; all his ways are righteous. They are just; there is no injustice in Him. Question: How does God’s justice harmonise with the killing of all the inhabitants of Ai (Joshua 8:24 ESV)?

When we examine a text such as Genesis 15:16, [4] we see what God warned Abraham what would happen: ‘And they shall come back here in the fourth generation, for the iniquity of the Amorites is not yet complete’ (ESV). The promise was that the time of the iniquity of the Amorites ‘was not yet complete’ after the Israelites left the nation of Egypt. The implication of that Scripture is that when the wickedness of the Canaanites had reached God’s limit of guilt or restraint, God would remove them from the land.

That is what he did to Jericho and Ai (Joshua 8:18-26). He did it with Makkedah (Josh 10:28), Lachish (Josh 10:32); Eglon (Josh 10:34-35); Debir (Josh 10:38-39), and the cities of the Negev and the Shepheliah (Josh 10:40). You can read about God’s punishment of Hazor, Madon, Shimron and Achspaph (Josh 11:10-14). It happened previously to Sodom & Gomorrah. You can read about what God did with his punishment of other cities according to Judges 19 and Judges 20.

When we engage in the plain reading of Scripture, we cannot get past the fact that when degenerate idolatry and brazen moral depravity developed in nations, God had to remove them so that the theocratic kingdom of Israel could settle in those regions.

I do not like the deplorable loss of life and atrocities that happened in these nations, but it would be much worse if these depraved activities were allowed to continue among God’s people.

How does God’s justice harmonise with this carnage? God warns about the consequences of sin. If people and nations continue to act against God’s instructions, he will so what is right and bring punishment. He warns before he does it. ‘Shall not the Judge of all the earth do what is just?’ (Gen 18:25). The lesson is this: Anyone can live this life as he/she wishes, but there are consequences – God’s consequences – when we give God the shaft and follow Frank Sinatra’s dictum, ‘I did it my way‘.

Since righteousness exalts a nation, we know this refers to the Judeo-Christian’s God of the universe.

By the righteousness and justice of God we mean that phase of God’s holiness which is seen in his treatment of the creature. Repeatedly, these qualities are ascribed to God (2 Chron. 12:6; Ezra 9:15; Neh. 9:33; Isa. 45:21; Dan. 9:14; John 17:25; 2 Tim. 4:8; Rev. 16:5). In virtue of the former [the righteousness of God] He has instituted moral government in the world, imposed just laws upon the creatures, and attached sanctions thereto. In virtue of the latter, he executes his laws through the bestowal of rewards and punishments. The distribution of rewards is called remunerative justice, and is mentioned in such Scriptures as the following: Deut. 7:9-13; 2 Chron. 6:15; Ps. 58:11; Matt. 25:21; Rom. 2:7; Heb. 11:26. The infliction of punishment is called punitive justice [the expression of divine wrath] and is mentioned in such Scriptures as these: Gen. 2:17; Exod. 34:7; Ezek. 18:4; Rom. 1:32; 2:8, 9; 2 Thess. 1:8 (Thiessen 1949:129-130).

11. How to choose a world view

(Religious practices will tie closely to a religion’s world view. Image courtesy Wikipedia.)

What are the best criteria for determining a world view with clout and pervasive influence? These are not original with me and are suggested by Norman Geisler and William Watkins (1984 233-241). Let’s begin with

11.1 How not to choose a world view

11.1.1 You cannot read everything

Read enough to make a decision. You need to ‘stop reading and start deciding’ (Geisler & Watkins 1984:234)

11.1.2 Beauty is only skin deep

Don’t look to what you like as a world view, but to that which meets your total needs.

11.1.3 What works is not always true

Lies work for many, but they are not the truth. ‘If a world and life view is true it will work in life (if properly understood and applied)’ (Geisler & Watkins 1984:234.

11.1.4 The majority can be wrong

11.1.5 Difficulty should not prompt quick rejection

11.1.6 The unexplained is not necessarily unexplainable

11.1.7 Absurdity does not guarantee truth

11.2 How to choose a world view

11.2.1 A world view must be consistent

‘If contradiction is a sign of falsity, then non-contradiction (or consistency) is a necessity for truth’ (Geisler & Watkins1984:236).

11.2.2 A world view must be comprehensive

11.2.3 A world view must be liveable

11.2.4 A world view must be consistently affirmable

A test for truth of a statement can be applied to this world view claim: ‘No statement is true if, in order to make it, the opposite would have to be true’. So, to test if statements are self-defeating, Geisler & Watkins (1984:240-241) provide these self-defeating examples:

(1) ‘Reality cannot be known’;

(2) ‘Be skeptical about everything’;

(3) ‘Reality is not rational’;

(4) ‘All truth is relative’;

(5) ‘Nothing exists’;

(6) ‘Nothing of value exists’;

(7) ‘Nothing can produce something’;

(8) ‘Everything is based on something else’.

The conclusion is that these principles can be applied to various worldviews and that ‘when one takes the truths which cannot be successfully denied, they can be constructed into a valid world view…. Truth is literally undeniable; however, truth is not always obvious. Only those who seek it find it’ (Geisler & Watkins 1984:241).

12. Abortion decriminalised in Qld

After two days of debate in the Qld Parliament, “Abortion has been decriminalised in Queensland” (SBS News, 18 October 2018). This means:

Both the government and opposition had granted their MPs a free vote ahead of the debate…. Under the changes, abortion will be removed from the criminal code and made a health issue, allowing women to terminate pregnancies up to 22 weeks’ gestation.

Terminations after 22 weeks will be allowed with the approval of two independent doctors.

The changes also establish safe zones around clinics and medical facilities offering the procedure to stop staff and patients being harassed by anti-abortion activists (SBS News, 18 October 2018).

Safe zones have been established: ‘”Safe access zones” of 150 metres will also be established around termination and fertility clinics to prevent protesters approaching and hassling women and their families’ (ABC News, Brisbane,Qld., 18 October 2018).

13. Conclusion

Rob Pyne MP presented a private member’s Bill to the Queensland parliament for consideration that wiped abortion from the criminal code. It allowed abortion right up until the time of birth. He said that he was prepared to negotiate with other MPs as to the period of gestation when abortion was allowed. The deputy Premier, Jackie Trad, as a member of Emily’s List, has publicly declared in the media that she will support the abortion Bill, claiming that what a woman decides to do with her body, in consultation with her doctor, should not belong in the criminal code. The QCCL claimed this was a conscience decision for the woman.

My article here shows that another person has been ignored by the Bill, Trad and other MPs; that is the unborn child who is a human being from conception. Photographs demonstrated the beauty of a child whose life is saved and of children in the womb who had been slaughtered by abortion.

It was shown from a survey that the majority of Queenslanders believe abortion takes a human life, but that the majority should not determine whether abortion is legal or not.

It was shown what Rob Pyne has deleted from the criminal code and it was validated that the life of the mother is protected in the existing legislation. Thus, there is no need for a change of law. This change is designed to satisfy the promoters of abortion and not those who want to save the lives of the unborn. A different ethic is being promoted and the contrast is stark between abortion promoters and those who want to save the lives of the unborn.

What is being promoted here? It was shown that this was a world view issue where the pro-abortionists had no respect for human life in the womb and those who were anti-abortion most often promoted a Christian world view and its ethical requirements. “You shall not murder” was the Christian response against abortion but that value was not endorsed by the abortionists. It was shown how God’s righteousness (i.e. justice) exalts a nation. A nation that promotes the killing of the unborn is not practising justice and the nation will suffer God’s judgment.

Some of the elements in choosing a world view were examined alongside what is needed in a satisfactory world view.

Eventually, the pro-abortionists won the day and it’s now legal, under certain circumstances – with the approval of two doctors – to abort a child right up to the time of birth. This is an abominable practice, in my view.

See my other articles related to this topic:

clip_image013 Abortion and Life: A Christian Perspective

clip_image013[1] Politicians, morality and a just society

This article is dedicated to the people who were robbed of life in the last few decades. These include the unborn, the weak, and the elderly because of the ‘madness, selfishness, lust and greed’ of our societies (Schaeffer & Koop 1979, dedication).

14. Works consulted

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).

Balmer, R 2002. Encyclopedia of Evangelicalism. Louisville/London: Westminster John Knox Press.

Geisler, N L & Watkins, W D 1984. Perspectives: Understanding and Evaluating Today’s World Views. San Bernardino, California: Here’s Life Publishers Inc.

Groothuis, D 2015. Christianity and autonomous reason: Drawing an important distinction, February 23. Douglas Groothuis Ph.D. Available at: https://douglasgroothuis.com/2015/02/23/christianity-and-autonomous-reason-drawing-an-important-distinction/ (Accessed 22 May 2016).

Mangalwadi, V 2011, The Book That Made Your World: How the Bible Created the Soul of Western Civilization. Nashville: Thomas Nelson.

Noebel D A 2001. The Battle for Truth. Eugene, Oregon: Harvest House Publishers.

Schaeffer, F. A.  & Koop, C. E. 1979. Whatever Happened to the Human Race? Old Tappan, New Jersey: Fleming H. Revell Company.

Shettles, L. B. with D. Rorvik 1983. Rites of Life: The Scientific Evidence for Life Before Birth. Grand Rapids, MI: Zondervan Publishing House.

Sire, J 1988. The Universe Next Door: A Basic World View Catalog, b updated & exp. Downers Grove, Illinois: InterVarsity Press.

Thiessen, H C 1949. Introductory Lectures in Systematic Theology. Grand Rapids, Michigan: Wm. B. Eerdmans Publishing Company.

(Late term abortion, courtesy priestsforlife)

15.  Notes


[1] ABC News 2016. Queensland abortion bill: Rob Pyne says procedure ‘should not be a crime’ (online), 10 May. Available at: http://www.abc.net.au/news/2016-05-10/queensland-abortion-bill-to-be-introduced-by-rob-pyne/7399368 (Accessed 19 May 2016).

[2] Ibid.

[3] No date was given for this media release, but it had to be in May 2016 after the release of Rob Pyne MP’s private member’s bill. Available at: http://qccl.org.au/wiki/abortion-law-reform-media-release/ (Accessed 19 May 2016).

[4] This is confirmed on Emily’s List 2015. ‘Our State & Territory MPs’ (online). Available at: https://www.emilyslist.org.au/614-2/ (Accessed 19 May 2016).

[5] Emily’s List 2015. ‘What we believe in’ (online). Available at: https://www.emilyslist.org.au/about/what-we-believe-in/ (Accessed 19 May 2016).

[6] Emily’s List 2015. ‘Our State & Territory MPs’ (online). Available at: https://www.emilyslist.org.au/614-2/ (Accessed 19 May 2016).

[7] ABC News, loc cit., ‘Queensland abortion bill’.

[8] Galaxy Research 2016. ‘What Queenslanders really think about abortion’. Available at: http://www.abortionrethink.org/images/What_Qlders_Really_Think_About_Abortion.pdf (Accessed 19 May 2016).

[9] ABC News, loc cit, ‘Queensland abortion bill’.

[10] Queensland Consolidated Acts, Criminal Code 1899 – SECT 224. Available at: http://www.austlii.edu.au/au/legis/qld/consol_act/cc189994/s224.html (Accessed 17 May 2016).

[11] Queensland Consolidated Acts, Criminal Code 1899 – SECT 225. Available at: http://www.austlii.edu.au/au/legis/qld/consol_act/cc189994/s225.html (Accessed 17 May 2016).

[12] Queensland Consolidated Acts, Criminal Code 1899 – SECT 226. Available at: http://www.austlii.edu.au/au/legis/qld/consol_act/cc189994/s226.html (Accessed 17 May 2016).

[13] Queensland Consolidated Acts, Criminal Code 1899 – SECT 282. Available at: http://www.austlii.edu.au/au/legis/qld/consol_act/cc189994/s282.html (Accessed 19 May 2016).

[14] Hon Cameron Dick 2009. Queensland Government (online), Attorney-general and Minister for Industrial Relations, Letter to Mr Neil Laurie, The Clerk of the Parliament, 21 December. Available at: http://www.parliament.qld.gov.au/Documents/TableOffice/TabledPapers/2009/5309T1568.pdf (Accessed 19 May 2016).

[15] The Merriam-Webster dictionary (2016. s v worldview) and American Heritage Dictionary (2016. s v worldview) spell the word as ‘worldview’; Oxford dictionaries (2016. s v world view) and Cambridge dictionaries online (2016. s v world view) spell the word as ‘world view’; dictionary.com spells it as world-view (2016. s v world-view).

[16] These are James Dobson’s words which he applied specifically to North America, in Balmer (2002:178)

[17] ABC News 2016, loc cit, Queensland abortion bill.

[18] Gill’s lifespan details are available at CCEL, http://www.ccel.org/ccel/gill (Accessed 21 May 2016).

[19] Gill’s Exposition: Proverbs 14 (online). Available at: http://biblehub.com/commentaries/gill/proverbs/14.htm (Accessed 19 May 2016).

[20] The last Greek letter, ‘e’, in dikaiosune is eta, seventh letter of the Greek alphabet, which is transliterated into English as ‘e’ with an ellipse. However, the html of this website converts letters with an ellipse into question marks. Therefore, I have used ‘e’ as the transliteration, but that is also the transliteration of the fifth letter of the Greek alphabet, epsilon. That is confusing but I am left with no alternative. Since ‘o’ with an ellipse is the transliteration of omega, the last letter of the Greek alphabet, I have chosen to use a transliteration of ‘w’, which was used by some earlier Greek NT scholars. Wikibooks states, ‘Sometimes unofficially it is rendered as w (inspired by the shape of the small letter)’ (2014. S v Modern Greek / Lession 4x).

[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 & augmented edn 1952) (Arndt & Gingrich 1957:iii).

Copyright © 2020 Spencer D. Gear. This document last updated at Date: 07 December 2020.

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The First 20 Years of Christianity

World English Bible - Wikipedia

By Spencer D Gear PhD

I wrote this article published in On Line Opinion (OLO): Anglicans, Christmas, and the birth of God? (3 December 2020). OLO has published a number of my articles over the years. Since I’m an evangelical Christian with an eye and ear for a defense of the faith, some apologetics’ emphases come out in what I write.

Often the anti-Christian, anti-God group comes out in full force and often they don’t address the topics I write about. Instead, they sometimes resort to the use of logical fallacies of erroneous reasoning to put me down or to rubbish the content.

1. Literature not infallible

 

diver dan made this comment regarding my article:

And the authenticity of that literature is not infallible is it. For the first twenty odd years of Christianity there is no literary record of what they believed. [1]

I took him to task: You overlook some fundamentals in understanding basic Christianity:[2]

clip_image002 All historical literature comes with a “not absolutely, 100% sure of the content.” This applies to Manning Clark’s History of Australia, the record of the ransacking of Jerusalem in A D 70, and the biblical literature. It’s the nature of historical science. We weren’t there, so we depend on ancient sources.

clip_image002[1]Since you reject the supernatural God and his power to oversee the writing of Scripture, you won’t accept what God has stated: “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” (2 Timothy 3:16-17). When something is THEOPNEUSTOS (breathed out by God) it emanates from the absolutely honest, pure and just Lord God.

clip_image002[3]How did God’s Word reach human beings? What was the process of how the infallible God could produce inerrant Scripture in the beginning? “Above all, you must understand that no prophecy of Scripture came about by the prophet’s own interpretation of things. For prophecy never had its origin in the human will, but prophets, though human, spoke from God as they were carried along by the Holy Spirit” (2 Peter 1:20-21). Without your accepting the nature of God as revealed in creation and Scripture, I don’t expect you to accept God’s Word of describing how we get reliable Scriptures.

clip_image002[5]For the first 20+ years of Christianity, there IS a literary record and that’s contained in the Book of Acts.[3]

Leading Luke-Acts biblical scholar, Dr Darrell Bock, concludes concerning the dating of Acts: “Given all the evidence, when was Acts written? Sometime in the late 60s—enough time for Mark to have been written and circulated—but not after AD 70.”[4]

Leading Australian ancient historian (he has taught ancient history at Macquarie University) has a 2005 publication,

clip_image002[6]Barnett’s conclusion was:

the historian is able, with confidence tempered with critical caution, to make use of the data in Acts in pursuit of the task of historical reconstruction…. Few have so clearly stated the importance of Acts for early Christianity as Meyer, who was himself critical of Christianity…. We have the completely inestimable advantage … of having access to the portrayal of the beginning stages of the development directly from the pen of one of its co-participants. That alone ensures for the author an eminent place among the significant historians of world history” (cited in Barnett 2005:204).

2. Splinter groups of early Christianity

Dan continued:

In the end, it was so confused with congregations of splinter groups, innovations were necessary to focus attention on what was to be the core belief system.

Yes, there were congregations where early Christian writers had to challenge erroneous groups. We see this in:

2.1 Errors in the Corinthian Church

Paul commends the Corinthian Christians who were chosen to be God’s holy people (1 Cor 1:2).

However, all was not well in that church where he corrected errors about marriage (1 Cor 7) and sexual immorality (1 Cor 6:12-20), abuse of the gifts of the Spirit (1 Cor 12-14); there was disorder at the celebration of the Lord’s Supper (1 Cor 11:17-34). There were some who doubted the bodily resurrection of Jesus (1 Cor 15).

To understand how these sins could happen in the new Corinthian church, we need to know about the culture of Corinth in the first century. Lacoste Munn explained:

Perhaps the most significant of the factors which comprised the atmosphere of Corinth was gross, unashamed immorality. Both the old city and the Roman colony were known far and wide for their sexual looseness. The most prominent site was the Acrocorinth, a sharp projection which rose to a height of 1,800 feet. On the summit of this steep mountain stood the temple of Aphrodite, a symbol of the lust which pervaded the mind of the city. The worship of this goddess was not Greek in origin but Oriental; it had been imported from the Phoenician cult of Astarte.

In old Corinth the temple maintained a thousand priestesses who amounted to no more than common prostitutes. It is not certain that the thousand priestesses were maintained in the temple of rebuilt Corinth; nevertheless, the gross immorality continued as before. The attitude of the city toward immorality involved no condemnation whatever; on the contrary, it was considered to be a normal part of life. The same loose attitude was often reflected in the church. The case of incest and the question about the Christian view of marriage had their roots in the immoral mind of the city. Most of the members of the church were Gentiles, and the strict morality characteristic of the Jews was foreign to them. They found it difficult to understand that what they once considered virtue was now sin.

Idolatry is another feature of the city which was closely linked to its immorality. In addition to the temple of Aphrodite, there were numerous others, and the worship in these temples was popular among the residents. These idol temples played a significant role in both economic and social life (Munn 1960).

Therefore, it is not surprising that a new church raised in this milieu would need to grow through many sinful challenges.

There were other challenges to the churches in the first century that were addressed by various epistles:

2.2 The Letter to the Colossians

The church at Colossae was under attack from false teachers who were denigrating the deity of Jesus; they were teaching that He was not actually God. Though Paul had never been to the church itself, he addressed these issues head-on. The nature of Jesus Christ as Creator and Redeemer was nonnegotiable, so Paul wrote to them that he might bring his wisdom to bear on this difficult and trying situation. It was critical to him that this church know God in His greatness and glory, rather than in the deficient view given them by the false teachers (Colossians 1:25; 2:1–2) [Chuck Swindoll 2020].[5]

How did Paul address this Christological error? In this book we read some of the grandest language of the pre-eminence of Christ in all things. Colossians 2:9 (ERV) states: “All of God lives in Christ fully, even in his life on earth.” So, Christ is the center of the universe, not only as the active Creator but also as the recipient of creation—in His taking on of human flesh. Christ was and is the visible image of the invisible God, containing within Himself the fullness of Deity.[6]

2.3 Serious error corrected in 1 John.

First John 4:1-6 (ERV) gets to the crux of the issue:

My dear friends, many false prophets are in the world now. So don’t believe every spirit, but test the spirits to see if they are from God. 2 This is how you can recognize God’s Spirit. One spirit says, “I believe that Jesus is the Messiah who came to earth and became a man.” That Spirit is from God. 3 Another spirit refuses to say this about Jesus. That spirit is not from God. This is the spirit of the enemy of Christ. You have heard that the enemy of Christ is coming, and now he is already in the world.

4 My dear children, you belong to God, so you have already defeated these false prophets. That’s because the one who is in you is greater than the one who is in the world. 5 And they belong to the world, so what they say is from the world too. And the world listens to what they say. 6 But we are from God. So the people who know God listen to us. But the people who are not from God don’t listen to us. This is how we know the Spirit that is true and the spirit that is false.

ASV Star Bible.jpg(American Standard Version, image courtesy Wikipedia)

John wrote to a group of Christians. This is clear from statements such as:[7]

gold foward button 1 John 2:12 (ERV), “I write to you, dear children, because your sins are forgiven through Christ.”

gold foward button 1 John 2:13-14, “I write to you, fathers, because you know the one who existed from the beginning.
I write to you, young people, because you have defeated the Evil One.
I write to you, children, because you know the Father.
I write to you, fathers, because you know the one who existed from the beginning.
I write to you, young people, because you are strong.
The word of God lives in you, and you have defeated the Evil One.”

gold foward button 1 John 2:20, “You have the gift that the Holy One gave you. So you all know the truth.”

gold foward button 1 John 2:24 provides clear evidence he wrote to regenerate people: “Be sure that you continue to follow the teaching you heard from the beginning. If you do that, you will always be in the Son and in the Father.”

gold foward button 1 John 2:27, “Christ gave you a special gift. You still have this gift in you. So you don’t need anyone to teach you. The gift he gave you teaches you about everything. It is a true gift, not a false one. So continue to live in Christ, as his gift taught you.”

gold foward button 1 John 3:1, “The Father has loved us so much! This shows how much he loved us: We are called children of God. And we really are his children. But the people in the world don’t understand that we are God’s children, because they have not known him.”

gold foward button 1 John 3:2, “Dear friends, now we are children of God. We have not yet been shown what we will be in the future. But we know that when Christ comes again, we will be like him. We will see him just as he is.”

gold foward button 1 John 4:4, “My dear children, you belong to God, so you have already defeated these false prophets. That’s because the one who is in you is greater than the one who is in the world.”

gold foward button 1 John 5:5, “It is our faith that has won the victory against the world. So who wins against the world? Only those who believe that Jesus is the Son of God.”

gold foward button 1 John 5:13, “I write this letter to you who believe in the Son of God. I write so that you will know that you have eternal life now.”

gold foward button It is clear from John’s Gospel, 3:15-16, that “everyone who believes in him can have eternal life. Yes, God loved the world so much that he gave his only Son, so that everyone who believes in him would not be lost but have eternal life.“

gold foward button 1 John 5:18, “We know that those who have been made God’s children do not continue to sin. The Son of God keeps them safe. The Evil One cannot hurt them.”

Since this book was written to Christian believers, why the warnings?

gold foward button “Dear children, this is the last hour; and as you have heard that the antichrist is coming, even now many antichrists have come. This is how we know it is the last hour. 19 They went out from us, but they did not really belong to us. For if they had belonged to us, they would have remained with us; but their going showed that none of them belonged to us.

20 But you have an anointing from the Holy One, and all of you know the truth. I do not write to you because you do not know the truth, but because you do know it and because no lie comes from the truth. 22 Who is the liar? It is whoever denies that Jesus is the Christ. Such a person is the antichrist—denying the Father and the Son. 23 No one who denies the Son has the Father; whoever acknowledges the Son has the Father also.

They have been warned many antichrists are in their midst and there is the possibility they will deny Jesus. Could they follow Peter in denying Jesus?

There is another warning to Christians, based on 1 John 4:1-6,

gold foward button They need to test the spirits of false prophets;

gold foward button John faced the heresy of Gnosticism among these Christians: “Every spirit that acknowledges that Jesus Christ has come in the flesh is from God” (4:2). We discern the spirit of truth from the spirit of falsehood by those who listen to the teachings of the God of truth.

gold foward button This is why it is of critical importance to know the spirit of truth in Scripture to be able to differentiate between it and falsehood.

2.4 Another error corrected in the Book of Galatians

The problem in the Galatian church was mixing grace with works of the law. It was dealt with in Council of Acts 15. Because so many of the early Christians were of Jewish origin, it was not surprising that these believers wanted to retreat to some elements of Judaism.

See the article: “Who were the Judaizers?” (Got Questions)

Paul particularly addressed this problem in Galatians 2:14, “They were not following the truth of the Good News. When I saw this, I spoke to Peter in front of everyone. I said, “Peter, you are a Jew, but you don’t live like one. You live like someone who is not a Jew. So why are you trying to force those who are not Jewish to live like Jews?”

3. Conclusion

(Revised Version image courtesy Wikipedia)

MRevised Version Bible 01.JPGany of the NT letters were written to combat errors in the emerging churches. It is natural that new Christians would bring with them some errors of their previous lifestyle. They are warned about refusing to continue with their worldly lifestyles:

These are only a few biblical examples:

clip_image0041 John 1:6 (ERV), “But when you ask God, you must believe. Don’t doubt him. Whoever doubts is like a wave in the sea that is blown up and down by the wind.

clip_image004[1]1 John 2:4 (ERV), “If we say we know God but do not obey his commands, we are lying. The truth is not in us.”

clip_image0051 John 2:15 (ERV), “Don’t love this evil world or the things in it. If you love the world, you do not have the love of the Father in you.”

clip_image005[1]In the Epistle of James, he states that “The worship that God wants is this: caring for orphans or widows who need help and keeping yourself free from the world’s evil influence. This is the kind of worship that God accepts as pure and good.” So “Religion that is pure and undefiled before God, the Father” (ESV) is (among other things) “to keep [oneself] unspotted from the world” (James 1:27, ESV), or “keeping yourself free from the world’s evil influence” (ERV). This will be what “God accepts as pure and good.”

“Religion” is a biblical word but it has strong practical dimensions and not have academic overtones. Caring for orphans and widows is not like teaching systematic theology at seminary but it is regarded as core “religion” by James.

clip_image004[2]In James 4:4, the author of James labels some Christians as those who “are not faithful to God! (ERV, NIRV).” Other translations use the language of “adulterous people” (ESV, NIV), “adulteresses” (HCSB, NASB), “adulterers” (NET, NLT, NRSV, Wycliffe), “adulterers and adulteresses” (NKJV, WEB), and “unfaithful creatures” (RSV).

You should know that loving what the world has is the same as hating God. So anyone who wants to be friends with this evil world becomes God’s enemy.

They are labelled as “adulterers and adulteresses” because of their friendship with the world, adding that the one who will be a friend of the world is the enemy of God.

The other passage is 1 John 2:15, where John commands Christians not to love the world. The force of the Greek grammar is: “Stop loving the world.” That couldn’t be clearer. The reason John gives is similar to James: “If any man love the world, the

love of the Father is not in him.”

4. Bibliography

Barnett, P 2005. The Birth of Christianity: The First Twenty Years. Grand Rapids,

Michigan / Cambridge, U.K.: William B Eerdmans Publishing Company.

Munn, G. Lacoste 1960. “The Historical Background of First Corinthians,”

Southwestern Journal of Theology Vol. 3 – Fall. https://preachingsource.com/journal/the-historical-background-of-first-corinthians/.

 

5. Notes


[1] Posted by diver dan, Sunday, 6 December 2020 7:25:13 AM.

[2] This was the first part of my reply: Posted by OzSpen, Sunday, 6 December 2020 8:46:22 PM.

[3] Since I’m only allowed 350 words in a post, this was the second part of my response to Dan: Posted by OzSpen, Sunday, 6 December 2020 8:49:06 PM.

[4] Darrell Bock 2018. “When was Acts written?” 12 January. Zondervan Academic. https://zondervanacademic.com/blog/when-was-acts-written. This post is adapted from Darrell Bock’s Theology of Luke and Acts online course.

[5] Available at: https://www.insight.org/resources/bible/the-pauline-epistles/colossians (Accessed 7 December 2020).

[6] Ibid.

[7] These verses were suggested by Bill Pratt, “Who were the original readers of 1 John?” Tough Questions Answered. Available at: https://www.toughquestionsanswered.org/2013/11/25/who-were-the-original-readers-of-1-john/ (Accessed 7 December 2020).

 

 

Copyright © 2020 Spencer D. Gear. This document last updated at Date: 07 December 2020.

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Was Jesus the Son of God or only the son of a woman?[1]

Photograph of Dawid Samoszul

(Photograph of Dawid Samoszul

Close-up street portrait of Dawid Samoszul, probably taken in Piotrkow Trybunalski, Poland, between 1936 and 1938. Dawid was killed in the Treblinka killing center at the age of 9. US Holocaust Memorial Museum, courtesy of Abe Samelson, View Archival Details)

By Spencer D Gear PhD

Whenever I write a Christian-based article for On Line Opinion, it is guaranteed to receive a rant of abuse – mainly through the use of logical fallacies. These were some of the responses to my article, Anglicans, Christmas, and the birth of God?

1. Reactions from anti-Christians

One fellow who is known for his hostility wrote:

Jesus never claimed any more than the son of man. He’s on the record as allegedly saying, with regard to the miracles, it is not I who does these things, but the Father in me.
Only fundamental (sic) fanatics try to make him more than a man born of woman. . . .

They also claim that Jesus was God (a false premise) and believe that confers some authority! And just risible rubbish, given they never ever had such authority! Never![2]

2. Was Jesus the Son of God?

It is too bad Alan B didn’t acquire accurate biblical knowledge to counter the ignorant statements like this. What he said here is blatantly false.
God, the Son, is regarded as God. He has the attributes of deity:

(1) Eternity (Jn 1:15; 8:58; 17:5, 24);

(2) Omniscience (Jn 2:24-25; 16:30; 21:17);

(3) Omnipresence (Mt 18:20; 28:20; Jn 3:13);

(4) Omnipotence. ‘I am the Almighty’ (Rev 1:8; Heb 1:3; Mt 28:18);

(5) Immutable (Heb 1:12; 13:8);

(6) He does the actions of deity:

  • creator (Jn 1:3; Heb 1:10; Col 1:16);
  • holds things together (Col 1:17; Heb 1:3);
  • forgives sin (Mt 9:2, 6);
  • raises the dead (Jn 6:39-40, 54; 11:25; 20:25, 28);
  • he will be the Judge (Jn 5:22) of believers (2 Cor 5:10), of Antichrist and his followers (Rev 19:15), the nations (Ac 17:31), Satan (Gen 3:15) and the living and the dead (Ac 10:42).

Only Alan B’s bigotry against biblical content has caused him to reach his erroneous conclusion.[3]

3. A fundamentalist fanatic’s response[4]

“Only fundamental (sic) fanatics try to make him more than a man born of woman.”

Yes, mate, evangelical believers like me, who take the Scriptures seriously, know that you are dumping your presuppositions on us.

You don’t know the Bible, do you? Why don’t you own up to the logical fallacies you use whenever articles on this forum clash with your worldview, particularly Christian-related topics?

Let’s check the Scriptures: ‘Jesus answered, “The fact is, before Abraham was born, I Am.” When he said this, they picked up stones to throw at him. But Jesus hid, and then he left the Temple area” (John 8:58-59).

We know from John chapter 5 that Jesus healed a man on the Sabbath. This did not please the Jewish leaders as they questioned Jesus about his violation of the Jewish law. Jesus claimed authority over the Sabbath.

Those Jews began trying to make Jesus stop these actions on the Sabbath. ‘But he said to them, “My Father never stops working, and so I work too.” This made them even more determined to kill him. They thought it was bad enough that he was breaking the law about the Sabbath day. And now he was saying that God is his Father, MAKING HIMSELF EQUAL WITH GOD’ (John 5:16-18).

Have you ever read this in Scripture? Peter called Jesus, “Christ, the Son of the living God” (Matthew 16:16)? Did Jesus support your view and emphatically deny he was the Son of God? Not at all! Jesus’ response was: “Blessed are you, Simon son of Jonah, for this was not revealed to you by flesh and blood, but by my Father in heaven” (Matt 16:17).

Jesus emphatically affirmed he was the Son of God and not just the son of man. The Bible contradicts your view. I suggest you obtain a REAL theological education by taking the Bible seriously and examining its claims.

4. An atheistic perspective

An atheist could not resist this jibe: “Here we go again, arguing over who has the correct sky fairy”.[5] My reply was just as pointed, “I hear the wind blowing; the thunder and lightning are flashing and clapping; the cyclone is blowing our way from your ‘sky fairy’ fantasy.”[6]

5. Questioning my orthodox view over liberalism

Diver Dan took a different line:

I take you to task on your confessed orthodoxy. You may be an orthodox Christian in these times, but Christianity is historically built on shifting sands with orthodoxy.
Lack of consistency in its literature over two thousand years, has added confusion.

The belief in the trinity has been an evolutionary process. Explaining away the Christian God head from the orthodox stance as you do, relies on the belief of the infallibility of the biblical text as it now stands.
The Liberal view is Academic. It is more inclined to see the evolution of the Christian faith in term of history.

I see a danger in both views. The extreme of the liberal view is effectively disbelief in the creed, which I see as created by an overly questioning study for which it’s (sic) reward is lack of faith, followed by agnosticism; because the text through the years has been inconsistent and often tied into current historical events.
I think all orthodoxies should be questioned without risking loss of faith. You say your views are orthodox, but are they also fundamentalist by the same nature.

Fundamentalism led to the extreme of orthodoxy with the creation of Jimmy Jones, and his people’s Temple horror story.[7]

6. My response to “shifting sands” of Christian orthodoxy

“Christianity is historically built on shifting sands with orthodoxy.”

Then you gave not one example of these “shifting sands”, so you built a straw man fallacy.[8]

“Lack of consistency in its literature over two thousand years, has added confusion.”

Have you read EVERYTHING of Christianity from the 1st to 21st centuries to conclude about the “lack of consistency”? Or is this a fallacy of hasty generalization that springs forth from your worldview?

“The belief in the trinity has been an evolutionary process.”

False again! The trinitarian teaching is orthodox from the “us” of Genesis 1 to the full blown articulation in the New Testament. Ray Pritchard asked: “What is the Trinity? Christians in every land unite in proclaiming that our God eternally exists as Father, Son, and Holy Spirit. Those who deny that truth place themselves outside the pale of Christian orthodoxy. Having said that, I admit that no one fully understands it. It is a mystery and a paradox. Yet I believe it is true”, http://www.christianity.com/god/trinity/god-in-three-persons-a-doctrine-we-barely-understand-11634405.html.

The Trinity is not an “evolving” doctrine but one that is seen more clearly with progressive revelation in moving from Old Testament to New Testament.

“The Liberal view is Academic.”

No, the Liberal view changes what the Bible states. There are sound, evangelical, academic views of the orthodox Trinity.

“You say your views are orthodox, but are they also fundamentalist by the same nature.”

I said my views were “evangelical”. You have inserted “orthodox” and “fundamentalist.” I do not shy away from labelling my theological views as containing fundamental theology at its core – including the inerrancy of Scripture in the original documents, Christ’s atoning blood sacrifice, the bodily resurrection of Jesus and Christ’s second coming. However, the language of “fundamentalist” comes with too much baggage, as seen in your linking me to Jim Jones and his fanatical group.

“Fundamentalism led to the extreme of orthodoxy with the creation of Jimmy Jones, and his people’s Temple horror story.”

This is an ad hominem (guilt by association) fallacy. Here you have a negative view of my beliefs because of its supposed association with Jim Jones, that you view negatively. We cannot have a rational conversation when you engage in this kind of fallacious reasoning.

7. “Who is Christ?” has many answers

Diver dan had this comeback. How accurate was he?

One of the problems dealing with people on this site, is accommodating their hypersensitive natures.

I’m not about to trade scriptural references towards proving a theory I put forward to you, based on my observations over a lifetime on this subject.

But like it or not, the question of “who is Christ” has as many answers as history has to any other subject.

So the difficulty with the answer is, the difficulty of who debates the question, and the biases that are natural in the mix. And historically, the question of who is Christ, has shifted through the years; that’s the point I make.
On another point you raised, which I noticed in your article, which was the differing opinions adding a different emphasis on scripture, between Liberals and evangelicals.

Unless there is consistency, then there are dangers in both views.
Jimmy Jones began his ministry with good intentions, but he lost the plot and strayed from tradition. Tradition is very much where the Liberals are. Viz Peter Selleck on this forum.
[9]

How should I reply as his response contained some fundamental errors?

8. Who are Hitler, James Cook and Aristotle?

“But like it or not, the question of “who is Christ“ has as many answers as history has to any other subject.”

American soldiers enter the Buchenwald concentration camp following the liberation of the camp. [LCID: 09807](US soldiers enter the Buchenwald concentration camp following the liberation of the camp. Buchenwald, Germany, after April 11, 1945. Photo courtesy Holocaust Encyclopedia)

 

If I want to know about “who is Hitler?”; “Who is Captain James Cook?”; “Who is Aristotle?”, I go to the historical sources that deal with this historical information.
Since I want to know who Jesus Christ is, I go to the primary documents of the Gospels that deal with this information. I don’t go to the pseudepigraphical Gospel of Peter and the “Cross Gospel” which John Dominic Crossan of the Jesus Seminar promotes.

“Tradition is very much where the Liberals are. Viz Peter Selleck on this forum.”

To the contrary, the Anglican tradition is with the formulators of the 39 Articles, which provide a very evangelical statement of beliefs in The Articles of Religion 1562.
They are not Liberal Anglicanism but support evangelical, Bible-believing Anglicans. I suggest you get your facts straight on this topic.

The heart of the Anglican doctrines is evangelical and does not synthesise with the teaching of John Shelby Spong or Peter Sellick. See HERE.

9. Conclusion

Notice what most of these comments contain:

(1) They avoid dealing with the primary content of the article. This means they choose to,

(2) dump their presuppositions on the reader.

(3) They allow their ignorance about a topic to be exposed, and

(4) It is a common trait of these anti-Christian antagonists to use logical fallacies to divert attention away from the main topic.

Logical fallacies are common errors in reasoning that will undermine the logic of your argument. Fallacies can be either illegitimate arguments or irrelevant points, and are often identified because they lack evidence that supports their claim. Avoid these common fallacies in your own arguments and watch for them in the arguments of others.

10. Notes


[1] This topic began as a blog on one of my ejournal articles with On Line Opinion, 3 December 2020. I blog as OzSpen.

[2] Posted by Alan B., Thursday, 3 December 2020 11:03:22 AM.

[3] Posted by OzSpen, Thursday, 3 December 2020 11:53:35 AM

[4] This was a response to Alan B, posted by OzSpen, Thursday, 3 December 2020 8:29:56 PM.

[5] Posted by TheAtheist, Thursday, 3 December 2020 6:28:41 PM.

[6] Posted by OzSpen, Thursday, 3 December 2020 6:40:50 PM.

[7] Posted by diver dan, Thursday, 3 December 2020 8:29:15 PM.

[8] Posted by OzSpen, Friday, 4 December 2020 12:50:38 PM.

[9] Posted by diver dan, Saturday, 5 December 2020 7:31:15 AM.

Copyright © 2020 Spencer D. Gear. This document last updated at Date: 5 December 2020.

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Anglicans, Christmas, and the birth of God?

St Andrew's Cathedral c.1868.jpg

(St Andrew’s Cathedral, Sydney, Australia. Image courtesy Wikipedia)

By Spencer D Gear PhD

This article was published in On Line Opinion, ‘Anglicans, Christmas, and the birth of God?’ (3 December 2020)

I’m an orthodox evangelical believer. I watched the Christmas Eve service 2011 which the Dean of the Cathedral, Phillip Jensen, led from St. Andrews Cathedral, Sydney, telecast on ABC1 in Australia. It was a magnificent Christ-centred service led by Dr Jensen. I know his church is a member of the evangelical Anglican diocese of Sydney which has been an orthodox stalwart in the midst of an Anglican church that has become theologically liberal in many states.

Anglicans in Australia

What is happening to the liberal Anglicans in Australia? The Rev. Dr. Mark Thompson, at the Sydney ‘Lambeth Decision Briefing’, St. Andrew’s Cathedral, Sydney, Friday 14th March 2008, wrote of ‘The Anglican Debacle’. Here he stated the obvious for that denomination in Australia that biblical Christianity has struggled under the Anglican umbrella. There was never a time when it was uniformly accepted by the church hierarchy.

He pointed out that early Anglicans such as Latimer, Ridley and Cranmer were burnt at the stake with the consent of most of the rest of the bishops in Mary’s church.

According to The Melbourne Anglican (2017), the 2016 census revealed the ‘number of Australian Anglicans fell by 580,000 in five years.’

Primate of Australia, Archbishop Dr Philip Freier, attributed the decline in the Anglican Church to a number of factors, singling out a culture ‘that no longer “carries” Christianity.’

A Sydney Anglicans news’ release about the event in 2011 stated it was the first time in many years ABC Television screened an evangelical Christmas Eve service. It was chosen by the ABC for a 6pm Christmas Eve service. It featured Dean Phillip Jensen, the Cathedral choir, guest musicians and orchestra. Jensen said: ‘This broadcast provides a great opportunity to express the message of the birth of our Lord in a genuinely modern and Australian fashion.’

What’s at the heart of the Anglican problem?

David Ould(photo David Ould from his website)

Senior Associate Minister at St John’s Anglican Cathedral, Parramatta, Sydney,  and a prolific blogger is Rev. David Ould, who became a minister in 2013. His beef with the undermining of Anglicanism is very different from the liberal wing of the denomination. He considers one of the main problems is with integrity of the ministers.

What? He is crystal clear on what he means. He used an illustration from the world of advertising: If you were a marketing director for a major drinks’ company who drank the opposition’s leading brand of milk at a press conference, you would expect to lose your job if the company had any integrity.

However, what has happened with the Anglicans? They discuss an aging population, schisms over sexuality issues, young people preferring experiential over traditional worship, etc. However, Ould does not see Core Value - Integritythis at the core of the problem. For him the nucleus of the issue is over promises made by bishops which states: ‘I firmly and sincerely believe the Catholic faith and I give my assent to the doctrine of the Anglican Church of Australia as expressed in the Thirty-Nine Articles of Religion, The Book of Common Prayer and the Ordering of Bishops, Priests and Deacons; I believe that doctrine to be agreeable to the Word of God.… I do solemnly and sincerely declare my assent to be bound by the Constitution of the Anglican Church of Australia.’

Then the bishops set about rejecting the standards set by Scripture, refusing to support the content of the Apostles’ and Nicene Creeds, fail to accept the 39 Articles as the ‘standard of doctrine’, not using the Book of Common Prayer as the worship standard, and rejecting some of the Constitution of the Anglican Church of Australia.

What then should these prodigal bishops and ministers do, since they deny fundamentals of biblical Christianity and of the Anglican requirements for ordination? C S Lewis got straight to the point of what should happen:

It is your duty to fix the lines (of doctrine) clearly in your minds: and if you wish to go beyond them you must change your profession. This is your duty not specially as Christians or as priests but as honest men.… We never doubted that the unorthodox opinions were honestly held: what we complain of is your continuing in your ministry after you have come to hold them (‘Christian Apologetics, 1945:1).

Evangelical Anglican: Christmas as the birth of God

Neapolitan presepe of Maiori (nativity scene courtesy Wikipedia)

This phrase caught my attention from Phillip Jensen several times in the telecast as he spoke about Christmas being a celebration of ‘the birth of God.’ Could this kind of language give the wrong impression? He has a brief article online that is titled, “Celebrate the Birth of God” (published 2 December 2005). In it he writes of Christmas as a time to ‘celebrate the coming of the Lord Jesus, who is God in the flesh’ and ‘give thanks to God for the great privilege of celebrating the birth of our Mighty God in this way.’

He seems to be trying to communicate that Jesus is both God and man, but does the language, ‘the birth of God’ have potential problems? These are my questions:

  1. Is it misleading to speak of the birth of God when God the Son has always existed and has had no birth eternally? The God-man was born in Bethlehem.
  2. Could it be better to say that the second person of the Trinity, God the Son, became flesh (a man) and we celebrate His birth at Christmas time?
  3. Many do not understand how a virgin could conceive and give birth to the Son of God as flesh, without the insemination of a male. Does the language of ‘the birth of God’ convey orthodox theology, or is it meant to get the attention of secular people who celebrate Christmas for materialistic and holiday reasons?
  4. I cannot ever understand the supernatural act of God in the virgin birth if I reject miracles as John Shelby Spong (an Episcopalian/Anglican) does when he states, ‘Let me say bluntly that I no longer think that the miracles of the gospels have anything to do with what we once called the miraculous.’

Phillip Jensen clarified this in 2013, ‘We celebrate more than the birth of the baby, Jesus. When we retell the history of his birth, we are celebrating the meaning and purpose of God’s action in our salvation.’ That’s a better way of putting it.

Prophecy of Jesus’ birth

The prophecy of Christ’s birth in Isaiah 9:6 states, For to us a child is BORN, to us a son is GIVEN.’ For this one event of the incarnation, there are two distinct matters.

(1) A CHILD is born – this is the human Jesus, and

(2) A SON is given. The Son was not born; Jesus the Son was GIVEN. He was from eternity.

I am not sure that Phillip Jensen made this distinction as clearly as he should have. I consider that he ought to have made it unambiguous about the humanity of Jesus (a child is born) and the deity of Jesus (the eternal Son is given). God was not born on the first Christmas Day. God the Son has always existed as God and he became a human being on that first Christmas Day but there was no ‘birth of God’ as such.

We know this from a well-known verse such as John 3:16, ‘For God so loved the world that he gave his one and only Son, that whoever believes in him shall not perish but have eternal life.’ So, God SENT his Son. This presupposes that the Son was always with the Father and was ready to be sent.

The apostle Paul is clear about what this means at Christmas time. According to Romans 1:3-4, ‘concerning his Son, who was descended from David according to the flesh  and was declared to be the Son of God in power according to the Spirit of holiness by his resurrection from the dead, Jesus Christ our Lord’ (ESV).

The eternal generation of the son is orthodox Christian doctrine. The Nicene Creed affirms the eternal nature of the Son:

We believe in one Lord, Jesus Christ,
the only Son of God,
eternally begotten of the Father,
God from God, Light from Light,
true God from true God,
begotten, not made,
of one Being with the Father.

The Scriptures state that the child was born at the first Christmas, but the Son was given. The eternal Son of God was not born at the first Christmas. He was from eternity the Son.

I have been warned not to be another Nestorius

Since I see that Christmas celebrates the birth of the humanity of Jesus, the God-man, some have written to me warning that my view could come close to the false teaching of Nestorius (ca. 386-451). Most Christians would not know of Nestorius and his teaching.

The Nestorian controversy came to a head at the Council of Ephesus in 431. This Nestorian website gives a summary of the Christological controversies surrounding the teaching of Nestorius who was bishop of Constantinople in 428. He came from the Antioch school and was taught theology there by Theodore of Mopsuestia.

He opposed a new theological teaching of theotokos. This affirmed Mary was the ‘God-bearer’ or ‘Mother of God.’ Nestorius was concerned with this teaching when applied to Jesus because it could infer that the Son of God had a beginning and then suffered and died.

I confirm none of these things could happen to the infinite God. Therefore, instead of a God-man, Nestorius taught there was the Logos and the ‘man who was assumed.’ He favored the term ‘Christ-bearer’ (christotokos) as a summary of Mary’s role, or perhaps that she should be called both ‘God-bearer’ and ‘Man-bearer’ to emphasise Christ’s dual natures of God and man.

Nestorius was accused of teaching a double personality of Christ – two natures and two persons. He denied the charge, but the term Nestorianism has always been linked with such a teaching.

Yes, he was from the Antiochene ‘school’ (now in Turkey) and wished to emphasise a distinction between Christ as man and Christ as God. He did not deny that Christ was God. He said, however, that people should not call Mary thetokos, the ‘mother of God,’ because she was only the mother of the human person of Christ.

Great opposition developed against Nestorius’s teaching and his opponents charged that he taught ‘two sons’ and that he ‘divided the indivisible.’ Even though he denied this charge, Nestorianism continues to be linked with the teaching.

Nestorius was opposed by Cyril, patriarch of Alexandria, who was one of the most ruthless and unrestrained of the major early bishops. Cyril ‘condemned Nestorius’s works by issuing twelve anathemas [stong curses] against him. Nestorius responded in kind. The two men were harsh individuals and fierce antagonists.’

The possible danger in my discussing the birth of the humanity of Jesus at Christmas, which is true, and rejecting anything to do with the birth of God (as the eternal God cannot be born), is that when I speak of the God-man Jesus, that I try to attribute some of Jesus’ actions to his humanity and some to his divinity. That is not what I’m saying, but I want to make it clear that God cannot be born, either as ‘Mary the mother of God’, or the celebration of ‘the birth of God’ (Phil Jensen) at Christmas.

Conclusion

The language that ‘God was born’ at Christmas does not provide biblical warrant for orthodox, biblical thinking. God, the Son, the second person of the Trinity, has existed eternally. At that first Christmas, the Son obtained his humanity through being born to a virgin. This inaugurated the God-man nature of Jesus, but the Son never ceased being God from eternity. That the first Christmas celebrates the ‘birth of God’ in Jesus, is false theologically. It was the ‘fullness of time’ (Gal. 4:4) at which God the Son became the God-man.

It’s unusual for an orthodox evangelical such as Phillip Jensen to define the incarnation as the ‘birth of God’ in his Christmas Eve service at St. Andrew’s Cathedral, Sydney, and telecast on Australian ABC1 television. I have written to him to get his views, with much of the information provided above.

God cannot be born. That’s an oxymoron. God is from eternity and is always eternally God so there can be no ‘birth of God’ or ‘God was born’.

Jesus, the Son, who also is called ‘the Word’, always existed and continues to exist as God. We know this from John1:1-2: ‘In the beginning was the Word, and the Word was with God, and the Word was God. He was in the beginning with God.’

As for the Anglican churches in Australia, they are losing attendances wholesale because ministers and bishops refuse to be loyal to their ordination vows. They suffer the consequences of lack of integrity in support of scriptural authority and other commitments made at ordination.

If Anglican ministers affirmed the full authority of Scripture at their ordinations and stray from that path they should do as C S Lewis recommended, ‘You must change your profession’ to be honest men.

Copyright © 2020 Spencer D. Gear. This document last updated at Date: 4 December, 2020.

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Why would people need God? Part 2

By Spencer D Gear PhD

1.  Why would anyone need this?

clip_image006 clip_image008

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

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

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

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

But, why would anyone NEED inland, western taipans?

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

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

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

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

What do we call it or them?

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

clip_image012*October 2018 Statistics[8]

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

Our consciences.

According to Wycliffe Bible Translators:

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

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

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

clip_image014 Unseen gravity.

clip_image016 Invisible nitrogen and oxygen we breathe.

clip_image018 The conscience.

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

This will happen in the last days before Jesus returns:

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

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

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

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

 

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

 

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

 

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

 

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

 

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

 

Could it be clearer?

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

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

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

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

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

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

clip_image019[2] New heaven & new earth

clip_image019[3] Where godliness dwells

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

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

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

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

The philosophers accused him …

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

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

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

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

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

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

What is your tongue used for?

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

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

These Bible verses tell us:

5. Who created human beings

Psalm 139:13-16 (NIRV)

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

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

6. What makes aeroplanes fly?

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

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

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

coil-gold People have to build the Airbus;

 

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

 

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

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

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

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

7. Conclusion: Why would people need God?

The Christian answer is:

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

clip_image025(image courtesy Wikipedia)[15]

 

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

7.1 Loved to death: He is no fool

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

To Die Is Gain

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

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

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

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

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

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

 

 

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

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

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

8.  Works consulted

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

9.  Notes

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

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

[3] Ibid., Wikipedia.

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

[5] Ibid.

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

[7] Ibid.

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

[9] Ibid.

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

[11] Blackwell (2003).

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

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

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

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

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

[17] Ibid.

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

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

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

 

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