Monthly Archives: January 2021

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.

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