Category Archives: Cultural Apologetics

They say one thing and do another: Politicians break promises

Religious freedom after 2019 Australian election

By Spencer Gear PhD

clip_image002

Why are religious freedom, free speech, freedom of conscience and association, and a free press so important to the Australian democracy? If these freedoms are restricted, democracy totters with the threat of collapsing.

Democracy means rule by the people. There are several guiding principles that act as the foundation of a democracy, such as rule of law, protected rights and freedoms, free and fair elections, and accountability and transparency of government officials. Citizens have a responsibility to uphold and support these principles.[1]

Since Truth Challenge is an evangelical Christian website, I need to ask: Is democratic government supported by Scripture? I have not seen any recommendation of democracy being the ideal or biblical form of government. However, Christianity and democracy are compatible, as has been demonstrated by the world democracies such as the USA, Canada, UK, Australia, New Zealand and France. However, a Christian world view does not make democracy a requirement.

Two fundamentals have been succinctly stated by Jonathan Leeman:

Broadly speaking, two basic kinds of government show up in the Bible: those who knew they were under God and those who thought they were God or were equal to God. The first kind protected God’s people. The second kind attacked them. The first knew they were servants (Rom. 13). The second didn’t and so acted like divine impostors and beasts (Ps. 2; Rev. 13, 17:1–6).[2]

While the Bible does not command, ‘Thou shalt support democracy and oppose any government that is a dictatorship’, it does provide guiding principles for the Judeo-Christian world view and government.

clip_image004For the Old Testament Jews, the government was theocratic, where God himself directed the government through his servants the prophets who were submissive to the heavenly King until the Jews cried out for a human king to govern them (see 1 Samuel 8:6-9 NLT).

The theocracy began with the call of Abraham in Genesis 12-13.

clip_image004[1]Christians are to collaborate with governments, no matter what the variety, as God raises governments and causes them to fall (Romans 13:1-7 NLT).

clip_image005However, if the laws of human government conflict with Scripture (see Acts 5:29 NLT), Christians must obey God rather than human laws. So there is a division between human government and a person’s spiritual beliefs.

I recommend this short article, Is democracy a Christian form of government? (Got Questions).

This article focusses on religious freedom as it seems to be the one under most attack by the left-wing ideologues[3] in Australia.

A. What is freedom of religion?

I found this to be a concise description:

Religious freedom protects people’s right to live, speak, and act according to their beliefs peacefully and publicly. It protects their ability to be themselves at work, in class, and at social activities. Religious freedom is more than the “freedom to worship” at a synagogue, church, or mosque. It makes sure they don’t have to go against their core values and beliefs in order to conform to culture or government (What you need to know about religious freedom).[4]

As I write, these freedoms are under threat in Australia as we have seen in,

clip_image007The professional rugby union player, Israel Folau’s, Christian comments on his personal Instagram account that saw his $4 million contract terminated. See my assessment: Israel Folau: When diversity means censorship.

clip_image009See the ABC News, Brisbane, Qld article, Anti-abortion activists lose High Court challenge to laws banning protests outside [abortion] clinics. ‘The case involved Kathleen Clubb, who was convicted after trying to hand a pamphlet to a couple outside an east Melbourne clinic in 2016 and Graham Preston, who faced three charges for his protests in Hobart in 2014 and 2015’.

https://i0.wp.com/catholicleader.com.au/wp-content/uploads/2014/11/pd-preston.jpg

Voice for unborn: Graham Preston (photograph courtesy Catholic Leader).[5]

Graham, not known to me personally, would be one of the bravest and overt defenders of the life of the unborn.

clip_image013Campbell Markham is pastor of Cornerstone Presbyterian Church, Hobart, Tasmania. In an Opinion piece for The Mercury (Hobart), he wrote:

LAST month [July 2017], the Tasmanian Anti-Discrimination Commissioner accepted a complaint made against my church.

The allegations included things that I wrote on my blog in 2011 in defence of marriage.

I bear no hard feelings whatsoever towards the complainant or the Commissioner.

The problem is the Act itself, which prohibits “any conduct which offends” another person on the basis of thirteen attributes.

There’s no doubt that the Commission would have to call Jesus Christ himself to account, if he taught in our streets today.

Jesus did not hold back when it came to exposing human evil, and statements like the following would have exposed him to prosecution:

“From within, out of the heart of human beings, come evil thoughts, sexual immorality, theft, murder, adultery, coveting, wickedness, deceit, sensuality, envy, slander, pride, foolishness. All these evil things come from within, and they defile a person.”

Are Jesus’ words provocative, are they upsetting?

Deliberately so. Are Jesus’ words unkind?

Quite the opposite.

His tender love for lost and suffering humanity motivated every word.

“Come to me, all who are weary and burdened, and I will give you rest.”[6]

clip_image015A complaint was made that Tasmanian Roman Catholic ‘Archbishop Julian Porteous and the Australian Catholic Bishops Conference be investigated over the booklet, Don’t Mess With Marriage, which was distributed in June [2015]to about 12,000 Tasmanian families whose children attend Catholic schools’. Martine Delaney, a Greens’candidate for the federal seat of Franklin and homosexual marriage advocate (she calls it ‘marriage equality’), delivered her complaint to the office of Tasmania’s anti-discrimination commissioner.

She claimed: ‘This booklet says same-sex partners don’t deserve equal recognition, same-sex-attracted people are not ‘whole’ people and the children of same-sex partners are not ‘healthy’. “By spreading this message, the church does immeasurable harm to the wellbeing of same-sex couples and their families across Tasmania and the nation.”

clip_image017In addition to the complaint against Campbell Markham at Cornerstone Presbyterian Church, Hobart, there also has been a complaint against David Gee, an evangelist for Cornerstone who works a day a week for them and is funded for another one-and-a-half days by Operation 513, a street preaching group. He is a veterinarian.

Gee sets up a table in Hobart’s street, making the Bibles available, and handing out tracts. The table often becomes a place for conversation. “He also does street preaching,” says Markham. “That’s what people don’t like.”

The complainant has been hanging around Gee’s preaching places for years. “He is an atheist, who says he feels offended and insulted by what has been written and said.”[7]

clip_image019Independent and Roman Catholic Schools are uncertain of the government’s intrusion into preventing hiring of teachers and enrolling students sympathetic to the school’s values. Or, will government force independent and Catholic schools to hire people of any value system and enrol students who have values opposed to those promoted by these schools.

Israel Folau’s clash with Rugby Australia ‘over his fundamentalist religious social media posts’ motivated ‘nine prominent Christians to send letters about the protection of religious freedom to Scott Morrison and Bill Shorten’. These people included leaders from Presbyterian, Baptist, Seventh-Day Adventist and Apostolic churches, as well as a number of religious school leaders.

The letters were worded differently for each political leader but both letters ‘flagged a range of issues, with protection of religious belief and free speech at the forefront’.

Each letter began:

“In recent years the protections to be accorded to religious freedom, and the related freedoms of conscience, speech and association, have come under increasing focus within Australia.”

“We write to invite you to provide clarification on a range of key issues that are important to the preservation of these freedoms in our country”.

Reverend Dr Hedley Fihaki, a Uniting Church minister and the national chair of the Assembly of Confessing Congregations, said he was worried the Wallaby’s case could set “a dangerous precedent”.

“Scripture is the book the whole church is based on, so if we are not free to teach from that, not just in the private but particularly in the public domain, it is a dangerous precedent,” Dr Fihaki told the ABC.

“From the Bible, from the holy scriptures, that’s the Old and New Testament”.[8]

Anna Patty, in writing for The Age, pointed out some of the apprehension of religious leaders:

The letter to Mr Shorten details concerns that Labor Party policies do not go far enough to protect religious freedom and have the potential to impact on the free expression of traditional views of sexuality and marriage. It asks Labor for an assurance that religious institutions will continue to be able to hold such views and defend them in public….

The Liberal Party has committed to introducing a Commonwealth Religious Discrimination Act, but the religious leaders asked the Prime Minister to go further by protecting believers in associations including churches, mosques, charities, schools and corporations.[9]

B. My assessment of some of the post-election Australian issues after the 18 May 2019 election

clip_image021 On 14 May 2019, before the Australian election on 18 May, Prime Minister Scott Morrison was reported as saying:

“There is no more fundamental right than the right to decide what you believe or do not believe. That means Australians of faith should be free to hold and practise that faith without fear of discrimination against them.… And that is why my government is committed to providing Australians of religious belief with protections equivalent to those guaranteed in relation to other protected attributes under Commonwealth anti-discrimination law (Christian leaders say religious freedom was among issues that influenced voters, The Sydney Morning Herald, 20 May 2019).

clip_image023“Graeme Irwin chair of the Australian Association of Christian Schools said governments needed to recognise there are “a lot of highly intelligent people of religious persuasion who believe there should be freedom in this area.

“They do not want to discriminate against other segments of the community but also do not want to be discriminated against for holding their beliefs”, he said (Sydney Morning Herald, 20 May 2019).

clip_image025  Behind the scenes, some Coalition MPs are advocating “stronger religious freedom laws after the party received strong backing from religious voters at the election. Former Nationals leader Barnaby Joyce is pushing for religious beliefs to be exempt from employment contracts, The Age and The Sydney Morning Herald report” (SBS News, Religious discrimination laws get closer, 31 May 2019).

clip_image027Before the election, “the Australian Law Reform Commission (ALRC) has also been tasked with examining five Ruddock review recommendations relating to discrimination against LGBT staff and students of religious schools” (The Guardian Australia, 1 June 2019). The Government announced this new ALRC review to include, ‘an inquiry into the framework of religious exemptions in Commonwealth, State and Territory anti-discrimination legislation’.

The ALRC is due to report on its findings on 10 April 2020.

clip_image029  What were those Ruddock recommendations? See: Recommendations for further CONSULTATION AND LEGAL consideration.

clip_image031  Christians must not leave it to the post-election Coalition government to guarantee freedom of religion for students and staff in Christian schools and organisations. Evidence now comes to light of a softening of the preservation of religious freedom.

On 5 June 2019, The Guardian Australia reported Australian attorney-general, Christian Porter, stating that a basic bill will be brought to Parliament to prevent discrimination, rather than a broader bill that allows religious opinions to be expressed that may breach codes of conduct [thinking of the Israel Folau case].

This will dissatisfy backbench MPs who sought to protect religious freedom.

It satisfies a Liberal Party, homosexual MP, Tim Wilson who “backed the more limited form of a religious discrimination act which he said would not be ‘overly controversial’ but is ‘quite different from a religious freedom act’” (Coalition to rule out conservative demands for ‘religious freedom’ law, The Guardian Australia, 5 June 2019).

clip_image033 There you have the current controversial problem for Christian schools, churches and organisations with this proposed Coalition government Law, RULED OUT … ‘RELIGIOUS FREEDOM’.

clip_image035  Would the Coalition consider it satisfactory for people who vote for Labor or the Greens to work in their electorate offices and in the State and National Coalition headquarters without espousing Coalition values? Or, will the Coalition discriminate and choose only Liberal Party supporters? Will the Coalition government discriminate against Christian schools from employing Christian staff but NOT discriminate against the kind of staff employed by the Coalition?

The same applies to independent and Catholic schools and organisations. They need to employ staff members who agree with their values, just as the Labor, Greens, Coalition, Katter, and other parties do.

C. Conclusion

Immediately before the Australian election on 18 May 2019, the Prime Minister, Scott Morrison, stated it was a fundamental right of Australians that they should be able to believe and practise those beliefs without fear of discrimination.

Now that commitment seems to be broken with the Attorney –General, Christian Porter, stating that the basic bill to be brought to Parliament will not be broad enough to allow religious opinions expressed that may breach codes of conduct.

Will this refusal to have a broad Bill mean that Catholic and independent schools will not be able to exclude teachers, staff and students who do not support the values of the schools?

Will this law extend to all political parties who will not be able to exclude staff who disagree with some of that party’s policies? Will street preaching of the Gospel of Jesus Christ be closed down?

Seems to me we have another example of broken promises by the Coalition government.

I eagerly wait to see the Australian government’s new legislation & law for religious freedom to determine if it broke its promises.

clip_image037

D.   Notes


[1] Student Vote Ontario Activity Resource n.d. Lesson 4: Democratic Principles. Available at: http://civix.ca/resources/wp-content/uploads/2018/05/ON-Secondary-Lesson-4.pdf (Accessed 8 June 2019).

[2] Jonathan Leeman 2018. The Two Kinds of Government That Show Up in the Bible. Christianity Today (online), 20 April. Available at: https://www.christianitytoday.com/ct/2018/may/how-nations-rage-jonathan-leeman.html (Accessed 8 June 2019).

[3] ‘Generally, the left-wing is characterized by an emphasis on “ideas such as Liberty, equality, fraternity, rights, progress, reform and internationalism”, while the right-wing is characterized by an emphasis on “notions such as authority, hierarchy, order, duty, tradition, reaction and nationalism”’ (Wikipedia 2019. Left-right political spectrum (online). Available at: https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Left%E2%80%93right_political_spectrum#cite_ref-14. Accesses 8 June 2019).

[4] Heritage.org, 1 December 2019. Available at: https://www.heritage.org/what-you-need-know-about-religious-freedom/what-you-need-know-about-religious-freedom (Accessed 8 June 2019).

[5] ‘Graham Preston facing arrest if he continues his pro-life activism for the unborn in Queensland’, 21 November 2018. Available at: http://catholicleader.com.au/news/graham-preston-facing-arrest-if-he-continues-his-pro-life-activism-for-the-unborn-in-queensland (Accessed 7 June 2019).

[6] Campbell Markham 2017. We are all losers when the right to free expression is muzzled. The Mercury, 7 August. Available at: https://www.themercury.com.au/news/opinion/we-are-all-losers-when-the-right-to-free-expression-is-muzzled/news-story/da33da4483b51dfdebc3951a96196fd2 (Accessed 7 June 2019).

[7] John Sandeman 2017. Pastor, street preacher face Anti-Discrimination complaint. Eternity, 31 July. Available at: https://www.eternitynews.com.au/australia/pastor-street-preacher-face-anti-discrimination-complaint/ (Accessed 7 June 2019).

[8] ABC News, Brisbane, Qld 2019. Israel Folau’s case prompts Australian religious leaders to pen letters to Scott Morrison, Bill Shorten (online), 11 May. Available at: https://www.abc.net.au/news/2019-05-11/israel-folau-religious-leaders-send-letter-to-shorten-morrison/11104094 (Accessed 8 June 2019).

[9] Anna Patty 2019. Christian leaders challenge major parties on commitment to religious freedom. The Age (online), 11 May. Available at: https://www.theage.com.au/federal-election-2019/christian-leaders-challenge-major-parties-on-commitment-to-religious-freedom-20190508-p51lgo.html (Accessed 8 June 2019).

Copyright © 2019 Spencer D. Gear. This document last updated at Date: 08 June 2019.

clip_image039 clip_image039

Australia is in deep trouble: Droughts, floods and fires

By Spencer D Gear PhD

This title page points to five articles following that need to be read consecutively to see the message unfold.

1. Get to the heart of the BIG drought, fires and floods

clip_image002

(photo courtesy WordPress at The University of Melbourne)

We can’t make it rain. But we can ensure that farming families and their communities get all the support they need to get through the drought, recover and get back on their feet” the government said in a statement’.[1]

2. Pointing towards a solution: Australian disasters

But there’s not much we can do about it.”

3. Connection between spiritual condition of the nation and disasters

clip_image003 

(image courtesy Pinterest)

clip_image005 

(image courtesy http://100abortionphotos.com/#64)

They are only examples of two bits and pieces (euthanasia, abortion) in Australia. The bigger picture is what Francis A Schaeffer described as the inevitable consequences that follow for any nation that follows this world view:

Those who hold the material-energy, chance concept of reality, whether they are Marxist or non-Marxist, not only do not know the truth of the final reality, God, they do not know who Man is. Their concept of Man is what Man is not, just as their concept of the final reality is what final reality is not. Since their concept of Man is mistaken, their concept of society and of law is mistaken, and they have no sufficient base for either society or law.

They have reduced Man to even less than his natural finiteness by seeing him only as a complex arrangement of molecules, made complex by blind chance. Instead of seeing him as something great who is significant even in his sinning, they see Man in his essence only as an intrinsically competitive animal, that has no other basic operating principle than natural selection brought about by the strongest, the fittest, ending on top. And they see Man as acting in this way both individually and collectively as society (Francis A Schaeffer 1981:25-26).[2]

4. This deep-seated problem brings ruin to the outback and to the Australian nation

clip_image007

(image courtesy Askideas.com)

The Australian Constitution of 1900 begins:

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.[3]

Where is God in the media, marketplace of ideas, government and education? Labelling Australia as a ‘secular’ (nonreligious) nation demonstrates how secularists don’t understand the consequences of a secular-humanist world view. We see the consequences in Australia today.

5. The path Australia treads to ruin

clip_image002[5]

(image courtesy www.afain.net)

6.  Notes


[1] Stephanie Bedo 2018. Australia’s crippling drought crisis: Overcoming past mistakes to save ourselves for the future. news.com.au (online), 6 August. Available at: https://www.news.com.au/technology/environment/climate-change/australias-crippling-drought-crisis-overcoming-past-mistakes-to-save-ourselves-for-the-future/news-story/136436de96fee5f33809de8d607f413c (Accessed 7 January 2019).

[2] Francis A Schaeffer 1981. A Christian Manifesto. Westchester, Illinois: Crossway Books. The chapter from which this citation is drawn, ‘The Abolition of Truth and Morality’ is available from The Highway at: https://www.the-highway.com/articleOct01.html (Accessed 28 May 2019).

[3] Available at: https://www.aph.gov.au/About_Parliament/Senate/Powers_practice_n_procedures/Constitution/preamble (Accessed 6 November 2018).

Copyright © 2019 Spencer D. Gear. This document last updated at Date: 28 May 2019.

clip_image001

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

By Spencer D Gear PhD

clip_image002Many farmers are struggling to find or buy feed to keep their stock alive in Australia (Photo supplied: Edwina Robertson)[1]

The big dry: See us, hear us, help us’

That was the headline of an ABC News: Rural (2018) article online.[2] But something was missing from that headline. I don’t expect to get the missing link from ABC News or current affairs’ programs these days. What is absent?

ABC Rural reported again:

Farmers across New South Wales and Queensland are calling it the worst drought in living memory. Many are facing ruin and say it is time for their city cousins to acknowledge the disaster (ABC News Rural: regional reporters 2018).

This story pointed to the situation as seen by the farmers:

I’d really like people in the city to remember us, see us, hear us, know that we’re still here.

clip_image004Thin cattle search for food near Coonabarabran in north-western New South Wales (ABC News: Rural, 2018: Luke Wong)[3]

In the Fairfax Brisbane Times, 14 August 2018, it was reported that Vaughan Johnson (resident of Longreach and former LNP politician) and Mark O’Brien, [as] newly appointed drought commissioners said ‘the “critical” situation facing farmers is the worst that Johnson has seen in his 71 years.

The drought commissioners were appointed to advise the State government on the best way to spend the $9 million drought relief package that was fast-tracked in August 2018.

“I have never seen such a depressed economy, such depressed people as we are witnessing now,” Johnson told ABC radio on 14 August 2018.[4] He said it was worse than critical as the feed situation in the central west was ‘zilch’ and they were now into the seventh year of drought. He ‘urged anybody wanting to help to donate cash, or visit affected towns’”.[5] (Flatley 2018).

1. Desperate help for farmers

I enthusiastically support the efforts of governments and people of Australia to help drought-stricken farmers outback in giving money, sending stock feed or visiting these outback towns and farms.

ABC News Rural covered this story and told of Genevieve Hawkins who runs a cattle station near Aramac, western Qld. There, ‘2017 was the driest year in 38 years of records’. Ms Hawkins appeal was: ‘It’s just relentless, you don’t sleep because you can’t stop thinking about it…. I’d really like people in the city to remember us, see us, hear us, know that we’re still here’ (ABC News: Rural, regional reporters 2018).

I consider there is a critical factor missing from this analysis. I don’t expect the mass media to deal with it because it concerns values and goes against the grain of our secular society.

Peter Westmore[6] in News Weekly[7] (August 2018) raised the issue of one missing dynamic. He referred to farmers producing the wheat, wool, cotton and beef we eat who actually work for nothing. This would be ‘utterly intolerable’ in any other part of society. However, it is ‘apparently acceptable for rural Australia.

Westmore’s assessment is that it is not discussed in city media and rarely heard on country radio or TV programs. The media highlight the lower income levels in rural areas and high levels of psychiatric illness and suicides. However, ‘the deeper causes are never examined’, says Westmore.

What were the ‘deeper causes’ Westmore spoke about? He pointed to government financial support and helping strategies from the banking sector. He linked the financial pressure to psychiatric illnesses in farming families that no amount of money for counselling will solve (Westmore 2018).

I agree with these initiatives, but they still miss a strong factor linked to droughts and other disasters in Australia.

This is how the Darling Anabranch (lower Murray-Darling basin) in far western NSW looked from the air during the big drought in 2018.

clip_image006

(Courtesy ABC News: Rural)[8]

This is how it looked in flood in 2010:

clip_image008

(The Great Darling Anabranch in flood, December 2010, courtesy Wikipedia)[9]

2. One sheep farmer made a priceless observation

I’m not sure he knew he was so close to hitting the target of dealing with the grim need for farmers, their animals and produce during this ghastly drought.

ABC News: Rural reported this in an interview:

In the lower Darling region …,[10] [a] sheep farmer …[11] scratches his head when asked where he will get his next lot of feed.

“We’ve purchased about $100,000 worth of hay but I don’t know if I can buy any more because it’s too dear and it could be another $40,000 for freight on top of that,” he said.

clip_image010

(Photo courtesy ABC News: Rural 2018)

The sheep farmer pointed to the needed solution, but his statement had one word too many. His words were as close as a cricket ball that nearly got the edge of the bat and a nick to the keeper or the slips. ABC News: Rural (2018) reported:

[This sheep farmer][12] has had to significantly de-stock, while watching ewes abandon lambs.

“The poor little fellas have been trampled,” he says.

clip_image012

(Photo courtesy ABC News: Rural 2018)

“But there’s not much we can do about it.”

He says money for bores would be handy, as the wait for rain and for the Darling River to fill drags on.

3. “But there’s not much we can do about it.”[13]

Really? In my view, there is one word too many in that statement. Which single word needs to be removed?

clip_image014Get rid of ‘not’. There IS something we can do if we are God-fearing people. There is MUCH, MUCH more that can be done.

4. Something fundamental is missing in the mass media and Australian government analyses!

What should we add to the excellent ABC News: Rural (2018) headline?

The big dry: ‘See us, hear us, help us’

That’s a cry for city cousins to dig deep to help people during the big drought. I’m 100% behind that cry for help and have given to the drought appeal. But there’s an essential component absent from that plea.

I ask some essential questions that I hope will open you to what we Australians can do about the drought, floods and fires. I’m not talking only of food and water for the animals and financial and mental health support for the farmers and their families.

I warn you. What I’m about to say is not politically correct news and there could be journalists in the mass media who will scoff at my analysis of the cause and solution of the drought crisis.

One drought-stricken farmer said,

‘I’m sick of this damn drought’

(ABC News: Rural 2018).

Note: This is a 5-part series of which this is the 1st part. It is connected to the next article: This deep-seated problem brings ruin to the outback and to the Australian nation

5.  Notes


[1] Shared on Facebook by Edwina Robertson, in Rachel Carbonell 2018. Drought relief: The dos and don’ts of helping Australian farmers and rural communities with donations. ABC News Rural, Brisbane Qld (online), 1 August. Available at: https://www.abc.net.au/news/rural/2018-08-01/drought-dos-and-donts-of-donations/10057862 (Accessed 14 March 2019).

[2] ABC News: Rural, regional reporters 2018. The big dry: ‘See us, hear us, help us’, 30 July. Available at: http://www.abc.net.au/news/rural/2018-07-29/the-big-dry-see-us-hear-us-help-us/10030010 (Accessed 2 August 2018).

[3] Ibid.

[4] The original said, ‘Tuesday’.

[5] Christine Flatley 2018. Queensland drought ‘critical’: commissioner. Jimboomba Times (online), 14 August. Available at: https://www.jimboombatimes.com.au/story/5586112/qld-drought-critical-commissioner/ (Accessed 14 August 2018). Jimboomba is located in Logan City, S.E. Qld., Australia.

[6] Peter Westmore 2018. Current policies leave farmers high and dry in drought. News Weekly, 25 August. Available at: http://newsweekly.com.au/article.php?id=58208 (Accessed 18 August 2018).

[7]News Weekly has been published continuously by the National Civic Council since 1941, and was originally called Freedom. The National Civic Council (NCC) is an organisation which seeks to shape public policy on cultural, family, social, political, economic and international issues of concern to Australia’. Available at: http://newsweekly.com.au/about.php (Accessed 1 October 2018).

[8] ABC Rural Reporters 2018, op. cit.

[9] Wikipedia 2017. Great Darling Anabranch (online). Available at: https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Great_Darling_Anabranch (Accessed 14 August 2018).

[10] The original stated, ‘near Pooncarie’.

[11] The original included his name as Phil Wakefield.

[12] The original stated, ‘Mr Wakefield’.

[13] ABC News: Rural (2018).

Copyright © 2019 Spencer D. Gear. This document last updated at Date: 28 May 2019.

clip_image016clip_image016[1]

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

By Spencer D Gear PhD

If this is not fixed, the rot will continue to infest Australia. The politically correct, left-wing agitators will blame it on ‘climate change’. Insurance Business Australia had this headline on its website:

Climate change-driven flood risk could make Townsville homes “uninsurable”[1]

The reasons for the disasters in Australia are much more detailed than that.

The late Francis Schaeffer, evangelical theologian, philosopher and pastor who founded the L’Abri Community in Switzerland, warned of the ‘spiritual collapse of the West’.[2]

Is Australia on a national ‘Airbus’ path to destruction?

clip_image002

(The Airbus A380, photo courtesy Wikipedia)[3]

clip_image004

(Aeroméxico Connect Embraer 190AR plane crash Durango, Mexico, 31 July, 2018, photo courtesy 1001crash.com)[4]

The following are only a few examples that point to where Australia is heading.

1. The diseases in the churches of Australia

You heard me correctly. This nation’s problems, including the droughts, fires and floods, will not be rectified until the churches – the Christians – are brought back to health. Healing for this land will start with the churches returning to their first love.

National repentance begins with God’s people who have sinned. How do I know? The Scriptures teach us. There is a direct link between the health of the people of God

and the shape of a nation’s culture.

clip_image006’If my people who are called by my name will humble themselves and pray and seek my face and TURN FROM THEIR WICKED WAYS, I will hear from heaven and will forgive their sins and restore their land’ (2 Chron 7:14 NLT).

While this is an OT passage dealing with God’s people among the Israelites, the principle can be applied to any nation: If any nation is going to be restored from whatever is afflicting it (e.g. drought and floods in Australia in 2019), God’s people must humbly seek God in prayer AND turn from their wicked ways.

clip_image007This OT message of the need for God’s people to repent is found in the NT at 1 Peter 4:14-17 (NIRV),

14 Suppose people say bad things about you because you believe in Christ. Then you are blessed, because God’s Spirit rests on you. He is the Spirit of glory. 15 If you suffer, it shouldn’t be because you are a murderer. It shouldn’t be because you are a thief or someone who does evil things. It shouldn’t be because you interfere with other people’s business. 16 But suppose you suffer for being a Christian. Then don’t be ashamed. Instead, praise God because you are known by the name of Christ. 17 

IT IS TIME FOR JUDGMENT TO BEGIN WITH THE HOUSEHOLD OF GOD. AND SINCE IT BEGINS WITH US, WHAT WILL HAPPEN TO PEOPLE WHO DON’T OBEY GOD’S GOOD NEWS?

Which wicked ways are in the churches?

clip_image009 Do I need to remind you of the child sexual abuse in churches and church institutions uncovered in the Royal Commission into child sexual abuse report of 2017? Don’t forget some of the church cover-ups. This was atrocious behaviour. See:

  •  The Report into Anglican Diocese of Newcastle released, 7 December 2017[5]
  •  The Report into Catholic Archdiocese of Melbourne released, 5 December 2017[6]

clip_image010 I know of one evangelical Christian church that has had 3 pastors who committed adultery. In 2 other churches I know of adultery happening – a pastor’s adultery with a church member.

As a long-term family counsellor, I know from clients that adultery is almost always accompanied by lies and deceit, all of which break God’s laws.

clip_image010[1] We could go down the list of the other commands in the 10 commandments and New Testament and find sinful violations in churches.

  • What about denominations[7] and churches[8] that now ordain homosexuals and marry homosexuals when Scriptures clearly proclaim heterosexuality in both OT (Gen 2:24) and in the words of Jesus, ‘a man will leave his father and mother and be united to his wife, and the two will become one flesh’ (Matt 19:5).
  • I haven’t dealt with some churches’ support of euthanasia, murder of children in the womb through abortion, claiming that miracles cannot take place, and challenging the authority of Scripture, concluding it cannot be trusted as a book of truthful documents.
  • Jesus’ warning: ‘’Beware of false prophets who come disguised as harmless sheep but are really vicious wolves. You can identify them by their fruit, that is, by the way they act….’ (Matt 7:15-16a).
  • I’m thinking of other teachings like the prosperity ‘gospel’ and the preachers who claim there is no hell.
  • Gossip in the churches. Prov 20:19 (NLT) states: ‘A gossip goes around telling secrets, so don’t hang around with chatterers’.
  • A return to ministry to the orphans, widows, elderly, homeless, the poor and other needy people. All denominations need to do it. I thank God for the Salvos, but ALL churches need to minister to those in need. Some do it through the social services division of the denomination. What about the local church taking this need on board? I know of some local churches that distribute food hampers to the needy, including children who go to school having had no breakfast.
  • The local church should be a defender and provider of hope for the hopeless and needy.
  • Where are the local churches that stand against the immorality flooding the nation? Our voices must not be silenced.

James 1:27: ‘Pure and genuine religion in the sight of God the Father means caring for orphans and widows in their distress and refusing to let the world corrupt you’.

Prov 14:31: ‘Those who oppress the poor insult their Maker, but helping the poor honors him’.

clip_image009[1] But there’s more and this has to do with what is preached from the pulpit. There are preachers who don’t believe the Bible and its miracles. They destroy the biblical message with their historical-critical methods.

They deny the virgin birth of Jesus, redefine his bodily resurrection to make an apparition or fable, and reject literal interpretation and replace with modernist and postmodernist interpretations. If you want to see which churches are preaching these kinds of doctrines, go along to your local mainline church that has dwindling numbers of older people.

clip_image010[2] For the ruin of Australia to be stopped in its tracks, the solution starts with the churches and individuals in the churches repenting of their sins and returning to their first love of God.

2. This is the call to Australia as a nation.

“Righteousness exalts a nation, but sin is a disgrace to any people” (Prov 14:34 NASB). To put it another way,

clip_image012 ‘Righteousness raises a people to greatness; to pursue wrong degrades a nation’ (REB). Or,

clip_image012[1] ‘Doing what is right lifts people up. But sin brings judgment to any nation’ (NIRV).

clip_image013 ‘Doing what is right makes a nation great. But sin will bring disgrace to any people’ (IEB).[9]

‘Doing what is right’ does not refer to what people think is right, but to God’s standard of right, called righteousness and justice.

This verse does NOT state, ‘Righteousness exalts the Israelite nation, but sin is a disgrace to the Jews’. It is a proverb of God’s will for ALL nations, without exception. Israel is not excluded, but neither is Australia.

In measuring the greatness of Australia, we can be tempted to consider the area of land in the country, the population of 25 million, whether it has a strong defence force, democracy, the intellectual vigour of the culture, how civilised the nation is, its wealth, natural resources, technology and history.[10]

God has a very different set of standards. This is what represents true greatness for any country. The most important criterion is its relationship to God. Are Australian laws and the people’s actions directed by God’s will?

This is God’s standard: His righteousness, his justice.

Where do we find that standard? It’s in the book of Scripture!

2.1 Laws and practices that are righteous

This is the most searching test for all policies legislated at federal, state, territory and local government levels that will lead to success by the Australian people.

What righteousness will exalt Australia? The proverb is not addressing material things that will make any nation great, but it is language of morality as the rest of the verse indicates with its converse, ‘Sin is a disgrace to any people’.

A similar message for any nation is given in Proverbs 16:12b, ‘a throne [of a king] is established through righteousness’ (NIV).

What ethical legislation will make Australia great? These are but a few examples:

  • Human beings are made in God’s image (Gen 1:27), so they must not be treated like animals.
  • Are we caring for the persecuted, widows, orphans, poor and homeless people among us and overseas?
  • Respect life from conception to natural death. Leave conception to God and the union of two people (that can include IVF) and do not end life prematurely.
  • The human family consists of mother, father and children. Let all legislation pursue this end.
  • Do not murder children in the womb or murder for any other reason through euthanasia and assisted suicide.
  • We must address sexuality issues from God’s standards about marriage, divorce, defacto relationships, promiscuity, homosexuality, etc.

2.1.1 Wait a minute!

You might say, ‘That’s a terribly narrow view of society and culture. That’s Christian indoctrination to say following God’s law makes a nation great’.

How does the Australian Constitution of 1900 begin?

clip_image015

(image Constitution of Australia Coat of Arms, courtesy of KissPNG)

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.[11]

So, calling on the Almighty God of the Judeo-Christian world view is relying on the foundation of our nation.

Is following human-created laws regarding life and death, democracy, law and order, crime and punishment preferred to God’s ways?

All of us support one-way principles in many areas of life.

clip_image017 In Australia, we drive one-way on one-side of the road (unless otherwise indicated). Driving on the left-hand side of the road is a one-way example.

clip_image018 When we use the Google search engine on the Internet, we are narrow-minded. We accept the one-way Google algorithm that makes it such a powerful search engine.

clip_image018[1] Hit a cricket ball into the air or kick a football into the air. It doesn’t keep going and going into space. It comes back to earth because of the one-way pressure on it called gravity. That’s gravity that God has created on earth.

clip_image018[2] God’s one way is for all people to inhale oxygen and exhale carbon dioxide. Plants inhale carbon dioxide and exhale oxygen so both people and plants can coexist. It is God’s one-way principle for survival on the earth.

clip_image019 The Muslims do it in praying 5 times a day to Allah and facing Mecca and these are the 5 Pillars of Islam for a follower of Islam.

clip_image019[1] See Exclusivity Claims of Major World Religions (Christian Apologetics Alliance)

clip_image019[2] See Point of Exclusion (Ravi Zacharias)

What will put Australia on a pedestal? It will not come from secular, government legislation. It will be when it legislates holistically according to God’s standards of justice and righteousness.

What will devastate Australia? Proverbs 14:34 gives the second part what wrecks any nation.

2.2 ‘Sin is a disgrace to any people’

What sins have been legislated by Australia to make them LEGAL for people to practise? What sins are legal in Australia that the Scriptures call a ‘disgrace’ and sins against God?

The KJV and NKJV translate ‘disgrace’ as ‘a wicked thing’. Remember these wicked things are sins – immoral actions by people against God – and all approved by the Australian nation, i.e. the parliaments and councils.

Which Australian legislation is against God’s laws?

clip_image021 We should not commit fornication / sexual immorality (1 Cor 10:8) – but we call it prostitution, defacto relationships, and sex outside of marriage;

clip_image022 We murder unborn babies in the name of abortion. God says ‘You shall not murder’ (Ex 20:13; Matt 5:21).

In the three decades from 1984-2014, when abortion was illegal in Queensland, Medicare statistics reported that there were 388,220 alleged ‘legal’ abortions in this State[12] (Johnston 2015). When we consider the number of abortions across Australia in the last century, that makes Hitler’s massacre of 10 million Jews and other persecuted people in the World War 2 look like a blip on the radar.

Reporting for abortions is incomplete; reported abortions include only Medicare abortions, and these figures are incomplete for 2010-2011. Abortion figures are for calendar years, some figures are interpolated from fiscal year figures (Johnston 2015).

What would the number of abortions be in Queensland in a given year if 100% of them were statistically recorded?

There is no gentle way to describe what is happening in Queensland than to say we already have a catastrophic, destructive, devastating annihilation of human life in the womb. In defiance of the law, abortions continued to take place before abortion was decriminalised, with federal government financial assistance through Medicare.

‘Abortion [was] legalised in Queensland after historic vote in Parliament’, 18 October 2018.[13]

clip_image023 Murdering adult human beings through euthanasia and assisted suicide in Victoria (Ex 20:13; Matt 5:21) and having inquiries into similar legislation in Queensland and Western Australia;

clip_image023[1] No fault, easy divorce (endorsing adultery in many cases) – Ex 20:14; Matt 5:27;

clip_image021[1] God’s standard, according to both OT and Jesus, is: ‘A man leaves his father and mother and is united to his wife, and they become one flesh’ (Gen 2:24; Matt 19:5; Eph 5:31). What has Australia done? It legalised same-sex marriage, a sin which is ‘a disgrace to any people’ and 1 Cor 6:9-11 (NIV) puts it among the sins that prevent people from entering the kingdom of God.

Do you not know that wrongdoers will not inherit the kingdom of God? Do not be deceived: neither the sexually immoral nor idolaters nor adulterers nor men who have sex with men[14] nor thieves nor the greedy nor drunkards nor slanderers nor swindlers will inherit the kingdom of God. And THAT IS WHAT SOME OF YOU WERE. But you were washed, you were sanctified, you were justified in the name of the Lord Jesus Christ and by the Spirit of our God.

Note that God does not speak of a sexual orientation of homosexuality caused by genetics but of sexual behaviour (wrongdoers): sexual immorality, adulterers, and homosexual men. This behaviour is included among other ‘wrongdoers’ such as: idolaters, thieves, the greedy, drunkards, slanderers and swindlers.

God’s view is that ‘some of you were’ idolaters, thieves and adulterers, but change is possible through a relationship with Jesus Christ.

There is a resistance to this teaching in secular Australia. I refer you to the article, ‘”Treatments” as torture: gay conversion therapy’s deep roots in Australia’, The Conversation, 3 May 2018.[15] This article also appeared on ABC News, Brisbane Qld.[16]

There is another issue that has to be addressed with God’s standards in Australia and that is freedom of religion. Will ALL Australians be able to meet openly and preach from the Bible, Qur’an, Hindu Bhagavad Gita and Agamas, Humanist Manifesto, or will there be censorship of some topics?

clip_image021[2] There must not be discrimination against certain people, including God’s people. God says, ‘If you favor some people over others, you are committing a sin. You are guilty of breaking the law’ (James 2:9).

They are only a few examples of the immoral decisions Australian governments have made that bring disgrace on the nation.

Note: This is a 5-part series of which this is the 2nd part. It is connected to the next article: Pointing Towards a Solution

3.   Notes


[1] Mina Martin 2019. Insurance Business Australia (online). Climate change-driven flood risk could make Townsville homes “uninsurable”, 21 February. Available at: https://www.insurancebusinessmag.com/au/news/breaking-news/climate-changedriven-flood-risk-could-make-townsville-homes-uninsurable-159513.aspx (Accessed 23 February 2019).

[2] In Charles Colson with Ellen Santilli Vaughn 1999, Against the Night. London: Hodder & Stoughton [Servant Publications, USA], p. 10.

[3] Photo courtesy Wikipedia (2019. s.v. Airbus). Available at: https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Airbus (Accessed 8 January 2019).

[4] Available at: https://www.1001crash.com/index-page-description-accident-Aeromexico_ERJ190-lg-2-crash-398-aeromexico-connect-embraer-190ar-mexico-durango.html (Accessed 8 January 2019).

[5] Royal Commission into Institutional Responses to Child Sexual Abuse 2017. Available at: https://www.childabuseroyalcommission.gov.au/media-releases/report-anglican-diocese-newcastle-released (Accessed 15 August 2018).

[6] Ibid. Available at: https://www.childabuseroyalcommission.gov.au/media-releases/report-catholic-archdiocese-melbourne-released (Accessed 15 August 2018).

[7] ‘Same-sex couples will be allowed to get married in the Uniting Church of Australia after the denomination’s national body agreed to now wording.

‘The church agreed to adopt an additional belief statement on marriage on Friday night [13 July 2018] at Box Hill Town Hall in Melbourne’s southeast during a seven-day triennial assembly.

‘“Marriage for Christians is the freely given consent and commitment in public and before God of two people to live together for life,” the new additional statement reads.

‘Ministers will be able to conduct same-sex marriages in the coming months if they wish, but individual ministers can also refuse to do so, the assembly ruled (Sunday Mail, 15 July 2018, p. 27). Similar information is available from The Uniting Church in Australia Assembly at: https://assembly.uca.org.au/news/item/2852-pastoral-letter-from-the-president-on-marriage-and-same-gender-relationships (Accessed 15 August 2018).

[8] ‘Anglicans in Perth have voted to have same-sex relationships recognised … by a two-thirds majority [of the synod]’ (ABC News Brisbane, Qld), 7 October 2013. Available at: http://www.abc.net.au/news/2013-10-07/anglicans-in-perth-vote-to-recognise-same-sex-marriages/5002762 (Accessed 18 August 2018).

ABC Gippsland (Victoria, Australia) reported: ‘The Anglican Bishop of Gippsland has defended his decision to appoint an openly gay priest to a local parish, saying he has acted appropriately.

‘Bishop John McIntyre, says his decision to appoint Reverend David Head, who formerly held a position within a Melbourne parish, to the parish of Heyfield is in line with the policy of his diocese’, 27 February 2012, Available at: http://www.abc.net.au/local/stories/2012/02/27/3440628.htm?site=gippsland (Accessed 18 August 2018).

[9] IEB = The International English Bible 2014-2015, Proverbs. Available at: https://www.iebible.net/wp-content/uploads/2015/04/20-Proverbs-demo.pdf (Accessed 14 August 2018).

[10] Some suggestions by C F Keil & E Delitzsch n d: Commentary on the Old Testament: Proverbs, Ecclesiastes, Song of Solomon, vol 6. Grand Rapids, Michigan: William B. Eerdmans Publishing Company (vol 6, p. 314).

[11] Available at: https://www.aph.gov.au/About_Parliament/Senate/Powers_practice_n_procedures/Constitution/preamble (Accessed 6 November 2018).

[12] These are my calculations from the data available from Johnston, W R 2015. Historical abortion statistics, Queensland (Australia) [online]. Available at: http://www.johnstonsarchive.net/policy/abortion/australia/ab-aust-qld.html (Accessed 29 August 2018).

[13] Allyson Horn 2018. Abortion legalised in Queensland after historic vote in Parliament. ABC News, Brisbane Qld, 18 October. Available at: https://www.abc.net.au/news/2018-10-17/abortion-legal-in-queensland-after-historic-vote/10382538 (Accessed 7 January 2019).

[14] The NIV footnote is: ‘The words men who have sex with men translate two Greek words that refer to the passive and active participants in homosexual acts’.

[15] Marguerite Johnson & James Bennett 2018. ‘Treatments’ as torture: gay conversion therapy’s deep roots in Australia. The Conversation (online), 3 May. Available at: https://theconversation.com/treatments-as-torture-gay-conversion-therapys-deep-roots-in-australia-95588 (Accessed 2 October 2018).

[16] Available at: http://www.abc.net.au/news/2018-05-03/gay-conversion-therapy-australia-exorcism-lgbtiq-bible/9721992 (Accessed 2 October 2018).

Copyright © 2019 Spencer D. Gear. This document last updated at Date: 27 May 2019.

clip_image024

Pointing Towards a Solution

Australia’s droughts, floods & fires

By Spencer D Gear PhD

clip_image002_thumb1

(photo NSW drought, courtesy The Land)

1. “But there’s not much we can do about it.[1]

Really? In my view, there is one word too many in that statement. Which single word needs to be removed?

clip_image004_thumb

Get rid of ‘not’. There IS something we can do if we are God-fearing people.

2. Something fundamental is missing in the mass media and Australian government analyses!

What should we add to the excellent ABC News: Rural (2018) headline?

The big dry: ‘See us, hear us, help us’

That’s a cry for city cousins to dig deep to help people during the big drought. I’m 100% behind that cry for help and have given to the drought appeal. But there’s an essential component absent from that plea.

I ask some essential questions that I hope will open you to what we Australians can do about the drought, floods and fires. I’m not talking only of food and water for the animals and financial and mental health support for the farmers and their families.

I warn you. What I’m about to say is not politically correct news and there could be journalists in the mass media who will scoff at my analysis of the cause and solution of the drought crisis.

One drought-stricken farmer said, ‘I’m sick of this damn drought’ (ABC News: Rural 2018).

That comment leads …

2.1 Towards a solution: Who or what sends and stops the rain?

clip_image006_thumb1

(Kenthurst Rotary fundraiser helping Aussie farmers, photo courtesy galstoncommunity.com.au)

Is the rain generated by some NASA space agency lab? Can we create rain to meet the needs in Aramac and Charleville in Qld and Broken Hill and Nyngan in NSW? Will cloud seeding do it when there are few clouds?

Is it global warming that stops the rain from falling in outback Australia and causes the regular droughts?

That misses the point: Who creates the clouds and blue skies in the first place and who continues to keep them going day after day?

The gifts of clouds and rain are made for the benefit of good and bad people. Water is essential to all of life. This view of the origin of rain comes from the Judeo-Christian world view on which the Australian nation was built from 1788 onwards..

It is a clear sign of God’s mercy when he sends rain. He and He alone sends the rain. Damning the drought is really damning God for not doing what we damned well want him to do. We don’t like settling for what God wants.

But wait a minute!

clip_image008_thumb1(image courtesy Pinterest)[2]

This is how Jesus Christ put it:

‘Then you will be children of your Father who is in heaven. He causes his sun to shine on evil people and good people. He sends rain on those who do right and those who don’t (Matthew 5:45 NIRV).

I smiled when I read how Baron Charles Bowen, a British judge of the 19th century, put it:

The rain it raineth on the just
And also on the unjust fella;
But chiefly on the just, because
The unjust hath the just’s umbrella.
[3]

God Almighty sends the sun and the rain – and so the drought and the flood – on BOTH moral and immoral people – those who do right and those who don’t.. Where is God in what has become a secular Australian society? Secular means non-religious and worldly. In Australia, it tends towards meaning godless.[4]

How long is it since you fell to your knees and confessed that you have sinned against God in so many ways, one of which is your failure to seek him diligently every day to send rain? Have you pleaded for God’s forgiveness for all of Australia’s wrongs committed?

This is not a word only for those suffering drought in the outback. It is for the whole nation.

Where are the prayer meetings in towns or suburbs to cry out to God for rain? Are you praying in your homes daily for God to open the skies with drought-breaking rain?

I haven’t heard the current Prime Minister call for a day or week of Prayer and Repentance for Australia.

Where are these kinds of mass media headlines?

Related image“Drought brings farmers to their knees”

Related image

The call to Australians to pray for the drought to break”

Related image

Australia must repent of its moral depravity”

Related image

Godliness exalts a nation”

Related image

Drought and Australia’s spiritual condition”

On 6 September 2018, The Sydney Morning Herald reported:

“It’s great to see it raining here in Albury today,” [Prime Minister Scott Morrison] said, roaming the stage with a hand-held microphone.

“I pray for that rain everywhere else around the country. And I do pray for that rain.

“And I’d encourage others who believe in the power of prayer to pray for that rain and to pray for our farmers. Please do that.”

And in case there were those in the audience who weren’t God-fearing, Morrison included them, too.

“It all starts with the individual. I love Australia. Who loves Australia? Everyone. We all love Australia … Do we love all Australians? We’ve got to,” said Scott Morrison in his first major address as prime minister.

“And everyone else who doesn’t like to do that, you just say, ‘Good on you, guys. You go well’. Think good thoughts for them. Or whatever you do”.[5]

The Sydney Morning Herald’s article title was:

Scott Morrison’s Sermon on the Murray. Love: It’s for Australians’

Our PM encouraged those who believed in the power of prayer to PRAY for rain for the farmers. For others, ‘Good on you, guys. You go well’. Think good thoughts for them. Or whatever you do”.[6]

Then came this Opinion piece from ABC Religion & Ethics by Byron Smith (14 September 2018).[7]

Faith without works: Why the Prime Minister’s call to pray for rain is offensive’

Why is the call to prayer for rain ‘offensive’? Byron Smith gave 3 reasons:

clip_image012_thumb1Firstly: Atheists. It’s an offensive gesture from national leader because it’s talking to the ‘sky fairy, embracing and promoting irrational superstition’. Some responded with ‘angry mockery’.

clip_image012_thumb2Secondly, ‘As a Christian’, Byron Smith found the comment offensive because of ‘the profound disconnect between his professed prayers and the pro-coal – and thus anti-farmer – agenda of his government’.

clip_image012_thumbThirdly, ‘When the government Morrison leads has spent many years doing little or nothing about the root causes of the warming that is worsening such extreme weather, then inviting the nation to pray in response is somewhat galling. The Coalition does not have a climate policy’.

Dr Byron Smith is currently Assistant Pastor at St. George’s Anglican Church, Paddington NSW in the Evangelical Anglican Diocese of Sysney.

Let’s not kid ourselves about the ‘root causes’ of the drought. It’s beyond the global warming issues to something more profound. Bryson Smith should know this as he’s a minister in the evangelical Anglican diocese of Sydney NSW.

How many of you can remember as far back as April 2007?

There you might have seen this headline in The Sydney Morning Herald, 22 April 2007:

Pray for rain, urges [John] Howard’

clip_image014_thumb1

(John Howard photo, courtesy pinterest)[9]

2.1.1 ‘Pray for rain’[8]

This article reported:

Prime Minister John Howard has urged Australians to pray for rain as hard-hit agricultural regions face zero water allocations due to drought.

Mr Howard warned last week that farmers in the Murray-Darling Basin faced having no water for the coming irrigation year unless heavy rain fell in the next six to eight weeks.

On Sunday he said he intended to meet irrigators over coming weeks to discuss the grim situation.

Meanwhile, he encouraged people to seek divine intervention.

“It’s very serious, it’s unprecedented in my lifetime and I really feel very deeply for the people affected,” Mr Howard told ABC Television.

“So we should all, literally and without any irony, pray for rain over the next six to eight weeks.”

Why isn’t Scott Morrison calling on local ministers’ associations across the nation to organise churches in every suburb and town to pray for drought-breaking rain?

2.1.2 South African political response to drought

Colin Newman[10] of South Africa recalled that after his Christian conversion in 1977, South Africa experienced severe drought. The President called for a National Day of repentance and humiliation before God.

As a new Christian he was impressed with the masses of people who poured from workplaces to fill churches during lunch hours. Churches overflowed with people, praying for God to break the drought. However, these people poured out their prayers to God for repentance. When the rains came a few days later he was awestruck by God’s response to these prayers.

In 2012, Newman said since that time there have been serious droughts over 15 years but none of the previous three Presidents of South Africa called the people to prayer and repentance (Newman 2012).

Note: This is a 5-part series of which this is the 3rd part. It is connected to the next article:Connection between spiritual condition of the nation and disasters

3. Notes


[1] ABC News: Rural (2018).

[2] Available at: https://www.pinterest.com.au/pin/381680137141097167 (Accessed 8 January 2019).

[3] In Brandreth, G 2013. Oxford Dictionary of Humorous Quotations. Oxford University Press, p. 314. This citation is available HERE.

[4] Oxford Dictionaries Online (2019. s.v. secular) gives the meaning as, ‘Not connected with religious or spiritual matters’. Collins Dictionary (2019. s.v. secular) provides the meaning ‘to describe things that have no connection with religion’. To gain an understanding of how some secular Australians think and the values they esteem, see the policies and aims of The Secular Party of Australia at: https://www.secular.org.au/ (Accessed 8 January 2019).

[5] Tony Wright 2018. Scott Morrison’s Sermon on the Murray. Love: it’s for Australians. WA Today (online), 6 September. Available at: https://www.watoday.com.au/politics/federal/scott-morrison-s-sermon-on-the-murray-love-it-s-for-australians-20180906-p5026m.html?ref=rss&utm_medium=rss&utm_source=rss_feed (Accessed 27 February 2019).

[6] Ibid.

[7] Byron Smith 2018. Faith without works: Why the Prime Minister’s call to pray for rain is offensive. ABC Religion & Ethics (online, 14 September. Available at: https://www.abc.net.au/religion/why-it-was-offensive-for-the-prime-minister-to-call-for-prayer/10245992 (Accessed 2 November 2018).

[8] The Sydney Morning Herald 2007. Pray for rain, urges Howard (online), 22 April. Available at: https://www.smh.com.au/national/pray-for-rain-urges-howard-20070422-gdpyx1.html (Accessed 6 January 2019).

[9] Available at: https://www.pinterest.com.au/pin/291959988324555653 (Accessed 6 January 2019).

[10] Colin Newman 2012. Droughts, Tsunami’s and God. Frontline Fellowship (online), 29 May. Available at: http://www.frontline.org.za/index.php?option=com_multicategories&view=article&id=910:droughts-tsunamis-and-god&catid=24:political-social-issues-cat (Accessed 18 August 2018).

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

clip_image016_thumb1 clip_image016_thumb2

Connection between spiritual condition of the nation and disasters

By Spencer D Gear PhD

Severe Tropical Cyclone Debbie

Category 4 severe tropical cyclone (Aus scale)

Category 4 tropical cyclone (SSHWS)

Debbie 2017-03-28 0010Z.jpg

(Debbie shortly after peak intensity approaching Queensland, Australia on 28 March 2017, image courtesy Wikipedia)

“I kept the rain from falling when your crops needed it the most.

I sent rain on one town but withheld it from another. Rain fell on one field, while another field withered away.

People staggered from town to town looking for water, but there was never enough.

But still you would not return to me, says the Lord”.

Could there be a link between a nation’s disasters and its spiritual condition before the Lord God Almighty?

Here are a few examples from Scripture that demonstrate the pattern:

1. Amos 4:6-9, 12 (NLT)

“I [the Sovereign Lord] brought hunger to every city
and famine to every town.
But still you would not return to me,”
says the LORD.

7 “I kept the rain from falling
when your crops needed it the most.
I sent rain on one town
but withheld it from another.
Rain fell on one field,
while another field withered away.
8 People staggered from town to town looking for water,
but there was never enough.
But still you would not return to me,”

says the Lord.

9 “I struck your farms and vineyards with blight and mildew.
Locusts devoured all your fig and olive trees.
But still you would not return to me,”

says the Lord
….

12 “Therefore, I will bring upon you all the disasters I have announced.
Prepare to meet your God in judgment, you people of Israel!”

That was an instance from another nation of the core of the problem – the link between a nation’s spiritual condition and God’s sending drought. There IS A SOLUTION. Repent of our sins against God, Australia, and return to Him in confession and repentance.

The prophet Joel provided another case in point:

2. Joel 2:11-13

There is ‘a time to cry and a time to laugh. A time to grieve and a time to dance’ (Eccl 3:4). I hope you have been doing lots of crying and grieving over the state of Australia and for God to open the heavens and send rain. Please grieve with the farming families in drought.

But here is another statement about the core problem …

… The day of the LORD is an awesome, terrible thing.
Who can possibly survive?

12 That is why the LORD says,
“Turn to me now, while there is time.
Give me your hearts.
Come with fasting, weeping, and mourning.
13 Don’t tear your clothing in your grief,
but tear your hearts instead.”
Return to the LORD your God,
for he is merciful and compassionate,
slow to get angry and filled with unfailing love.
He is eager to relent and not punish.

Originally, this was a warning to Israel, but the same principle applies to Australia. The day of the Lord’s punishment is terrible. Droughts, cyclones, bush fires, earthquakes (remember Newcastle NSW, 28 December1989 and the earthquake measuring 5.6 on the Richter scale)[1] and tsunamis are devastating in their impacts.

Through Joel the prophet, the message to Israel and by inference to Australia to stop this drought is that no human being can break it by causing the rain to fall. Only the Lord God Almighty can do that. He shouts to all Aussies:

TURN TO ME NOW WHILE THERE IS TIME. GIVE ME YOUR HEARTS. COME WITH FASTING, WEEPING, AND MOURNING.… RETURN TO THE LORD YOUR GOD FOR HE IS MERCIFUL AND COMPASSIONATE’.

3. We have the same kind of message from Jesus

Every catastrophe is the Holy God’s merciful call to people to repent of their sinful ways. The Gospel of Luke records:

About this time Jesus was informed that Pilate had murdered some people from Galilee as they were offering sacrifices at the Temple. “Do you think those Galileans were worse sinners than all the other people from Galilee?” Jesus asked. “Is that why they suffered? Not at all! And you will perish, too, unless you repent of your sins and turn to God (Luke 13:1-3 NLT).

In verses 4-5 of Luke 13 we read: ‘And what about the eighteen people who died when the tower in Siloam fell on them? Were they the worst sinners in Jerusalem? No, and I tell you again that UNLESS YOU REPENT, YOU WILL PERISH TOO’.

4. Does this sound like Australia in the twenty-first century?

The Scriptures are adamant:

You should know … that in the last days there will be very difficult times. 2 For people will love only themselves and their money. They will be boastful and proud, scoffing at God, disobedient to their parents, and ungrateful. They will consider nothing sacred.

3 They will be unloving and unforgiving; they will slander others and have no self-control. They will be cruel and hate what is good. 4 They will betray their friends, be reckless, be puffed up with pride, and love pleasure rather than God.

5 They will act religious, but they will reject the power that could make them godly. Stay away from people like that! (2 Timothy 3:1-5 NLT).

There is a direct connection between Australia’s moral and spiritual condition and disasters – the drought, floods, fires and other catastrophes. I do NOT equate one disaster with one type of moral disaster from God. That’s God’s business to do the connecting. I know clearly from Scripture that there is an association between the nation’s spiritual conditions and disasters that come (see the above examples.

5. More disasters

(a) The Townsville floods 2019

clip_image002

A general view of the flooded Townsville suburb of Idalia. Photograph: Ian Hitchcock/Getty Images[2]

clip_image004

GOOD CAUSE: Sunshine Coast residents have donated to Townsville flood victims in the throes of cleaning up. AAP/DAN PELED[3]

clip_image006(1) How much rain was received?

According to Higgins’ Storm Chasing, ‘Townsville has broken its 6 day, 7 day, 8 day, 9 day, 10 day, 11 day and 12 day accumulative records from this event. A final 12 day total of 1391.4mm has been observed [in February 2019]’.[4]

The Bureau of Meteorology made this statement about the Townsville flood on 15 February 2019 (reported by ABC News, Brisbane, Qld):

It is difficult to oversell the amount of rain that has fallen in north Queensland. Places like Paluma, Woolshed, and Upper Bluewater got over two metres of rain in 12 days.[5]

clip_image008

(2) Estimated cost of Townsville flood damage.

Qld Premier, Ms Annastasia Palaszczuk,  said … ‘the state budget is estimated to take a hit of at least $1.5 billion after catastrophic bushfires and floods ravaged Queensland over the last three months’.[6]

(b) North-West Queensland: From drought to flooding and cattle disaster

clip_image010

Rachael Anderson of Eddington station[7] says she has lost about 2,000 cattle, roughly half the herd. Photograph: Rachael Anderson[8]

clip_image012

Grazier David Batt and volunteer Ash Travers line up carcasses for a mass burial. Supplied: Max Batt.[9]

(1) According to ABC News, Brisbane, Qld, ‘An estimate is that the floods have ‘killed as many as 500,000 animals across Queensland’s north and central-west’.[10]

(c) Fires in Victoria

In February 2019, Victorian fire authorities were bracing for hot and windy weather on Sunday [10 Feb] as they continue to fight fires which are threatening lives and properties in parts of the state.

ABC News, Brisbane, Qld provided this Victorian fire photo on 1 and 2 February 2019:

clip_image014

Photo: The bushfire was burning in a westerly direction towards Moe-Walhalla Road. Photo supplied: Jimmy Lia, 1 February 2019[11]

6. I must give two warnings.

6.1 First warning

Don’t bother coming to the Trinitarian, Lord God Almighty in prayer if you don’t believe He exists. If you are an atheist, agnostic, humanist, sceptic, or secular person, you are wasting your time seeking help from the God in whom you do not believe.

How do I know? Scripture says: ‘It is impossible to please God without faith. Anyone who wants to come to him must believe that God exists and that he rewards those who sincerely seek him’ (Hebrews 11:6).

If you don’t believe in the existence of God, it would be like going to McDonald’s to buy a hammer and shovel. Don’t waste your time in praying to the God you don’t believe in.

If you are struggling with knowing if God exists, see these articles online:

clip_image016 Evidence for the existence of God

clip_image016[1] God reveals Himself in nature to everyone

clip_image016[2] Does God send cyclones?

6.2 Second warning

Forget about praying for rain if you want what God does not want for you. Scripture places this boundary around our praying: ‘Here is what we can be sure of when we come to God in prayer. If we ask anything in keeping with what he wants, he hears us. If we know that God hears what we ask for, we know that we have it (1 John 5:14-15).

If it is God’s will to send rain to the outback NOW, He will send it when we pray. He may have a greater lesson to teach us. Have Australian people repented of the sins of the nation and changed its immoral laws to agree with God’s laws? Have individuals repented and sought God’s forgiveness.

If God doesn’t send rain, what could be other blockages in Australia that are causing God to say, ‘No, not yet’?

If God sends a deluge of rain that we rightly label as disaster, God’s ways are the same. He will not tolerate Australia’s wicked ways. What I’m saying applies across this sinful world and to all countries. I’m focussing on Australia because we live here.

Note: This is a 5-part series of which this is the 4th part. It is connected to the next article: The path Australia treads to ruin

7.  Notes


[1] See Emily Verdouw 2013. On this day: Newcastle earthquake strikes. Australian Geographic (online), 7 November. Available at: https://www.australiangeographic.com.au/blogs/on-this-day/2013/11/on-this-day-newcastle-earthquake-strikes/ (Accessed 7 January 2019).

[2] The Guardian Australia 2019. Flood waters inundate Townsville homes as army called in – in pictures (online), 5 February. Photograph: Andrew Rankin/AAP. .Available at: https://www.theguardian.com/world/gallery/2019/feb/05/floodwaters-inundate-townsville-homes-as-army-called-in-in-pictures (Accessed 23 February 2019).

[3] Chloe Lyons 2019. Donations pile up for Townsville flood appeal. Sunshine Coast Daily (online), 11 February. Available at: https://www.sunshinecoastdaily.com.au/news/donations-pile-up-for-townsville-flood-appeal/3644239/ (Accessed 23 February 2019).

[4] Higgins Storm Chasing 2019. Ridiculous Rainfall Accumulations Up To Day 12 Of The Townsville Floods (online). Available at: https://higginsstormchasing.com/ridiculous-rainfall-accumulations-up-to-day-12-of-the-townsville-floods/ (Accessed 23 February 2019).

[5] ABC Weather by Kate Doyle 2019. North Queensland rains trigger BOM special climate statement (online), 15 February 2019. Available at: https://www.abc.net.au/news/2019-02-15/queensland-floods-special-climate-statement/10816184 (Accessed 23 February 2019).

[6] Talissa Siganto and staff 2019. ABC News, Brisbane, Qld. ‘Summer of disasters’ reveals the cost of climate change for Queensland taxpayers (online), 19 February. Available at: https://www.abc.net.au/news/2019-02-19/climate-change-and-the-cost-of-qlds-summer-of-disasters/10826122 (Accessed 23 February 2019).

[7] Eddington station is located 20km west of Julia Creek in outback NW Qld, Australia. See: https://www.jimpolamarketing.com.au/blog/eddington-station-20km-west-of-julia-creek (Accessed 23 February 2019).

[8] Ben Smee 2019. Up to 500,000 drought-stressed cattle killed in Queensland floods. The Guardian Australia(online), 11 February. Available at: https://www.theguardian.com/australia-news/2019/feb/11/up-to-500000-drought-stressed-cattle-killed-in-queensland-floods (Accessed 23 February 2019).

[9] ABC News, Brisbane, Qld 2019. Burying cattle killed in the Queensland floods (online), 21 February. Available at: https://www.abc.net.au/news/2019-02-21/burying-cattle-killed-in-the-queensland-floods/10834282 (Accessed 23 February 2019).

[10] Steven Schubert and Ben Deacon 2019. ABC News, Brisbane, Qld, (online), Drought-hit Channel Country cattle producers welcome floodwater from weather system that devastated neighbours, 23 February. Available at: https://www.abc.net.au/news/2019-02-23/cattle-producers-welcome-floodwater-that-devastated-neighbours/10843080 (Accessed 23 February 2019).

[11] ABC News, Brisbane Qld 2019. Tanjil South bushfire, 1 February. Available at: https://www.abc.net.au/news/2019-02-01/tanjil-south-bushfire-1/10772776 (Accessed 27 March 2019). The entry on 2 February 2019 was from ABC News, Brisbane. Watch and Act warning issued for Grantville fire as authorities prepare for worsening conditions (online). Available at: https://www.abc.net.au/news/2019-02-02/fires-continue-to-burn-in-victoria-as-conditions-set-to-worsen/10773678 (Accessed 27 March 2019).

Copyright © 2019 Spencer D. Gear. This document last updated at Date: 27 May 2019.

clip_image017clip_image017

The path Australia treads to ruin

By Spencer D Gear PhD

clip_image002

(The bushfire in Bunyip State Park, Victoria, Australia. Picture: Ionee Reid. Source: Supplied, courtesy news.com.au)[1]

If we want to deal with the devastation of Australia’s drought and other catastrophes, we need to start with a clean up of the churches and a call to repentance by the nation.

Prime Minister Scott Morrison’s voice has been silent about this core issue that associates Australia’s spiritual condition with the drought, floods, fires and other crises.

1. A core issue

Why hasn’t the PM called the nation to HUMILITY, PRAYER AND REPENTANCE for our sins and for God to send rain to break the drought?

We need leadership from the Prime Minister to call for a Day of Repentance and Prayer for rain. Step up to the mark Mr Morrison and lead the way! What an example it would be to see a Christian Prime Minister, ScoMo, and many MPs in local churches praying as they repent and ask God to heal the land and send rain.

This also means reversing the ungodly legislation that is a ‘disgrace’ to the people and the nation.

Other nations have called their people to repent in times of disaster.

1.1 Great Britain did it during World War 2

King George VI had called the people of Great Britain to National Days of Prayer and Repentance four times [during World War 2].  Yet, his daughter, Queen Elizabeth II, in [66][2] years as the Queen of England, has not once called for [a] National Day of Prayer. The last time Britain had a National Day of Prayer was during the Second World War (Newman 2012).

1.2 South Africans called to prayer during drought

South Africa’s Colin Newman related what happened in South Africa after his conversion to Christ in 1977. The President called for a National Day of Repentance and Humiliation before God. As a new Christian he was impressed with the masses of people in central Cape Town who filled the churches to overflowing. It was a time of intense, earnest heart searching prayers of repentance.

The rains came a couple days later and he was awe struck Newman 2012).

1.3 Zambia’s national day of prayer

clip_image004(map of southern Africa courtesy Biofocuscommunicatie)

Since Zambia officially was declared a Christian nation in 1991,[3] its President has called the nation to days of prayer during drought, and the nation has also celebrated National Days of Thanksgiving when God graciously answered their prayers with rain (Newman 2012).

Could you imagine this kind of statement appearing in any mass media outlet in Australia in a capital city or elsewhere?

“Our [Zambian] identity is established in the Lord Jesus Christ. The values, principles and ethics which we embrace as a people reflect the person of Jesus Christ.

“Love, dignity, integrity, honest, hard work, patriotism among others are the hallmark of who we are as a people,” she said.

That’s from the Lusaka Times 2016. Zambia commemorated its 25th anniversary of the declaration as a Christian Nation (online), 29 December.[4] Lusaka is the capital and largest city in Zambia, with a population of about 1.7 million people.[5]

1.4 Alabama, USA

With parts of Alabama [USA] suffering an exceptional drought, Gov. Bob Riley [was] turning to God for help and asking other Alabamians to join him in praying for rain.

Riley issued a proclamation Thursday declaring June 30 [2007] through July 7 as “Days of Prayer for Rain” and asked citizens to pray individually and in their houses of worship.

“Throughout our history, Alabamians have turned in prayer to God to humbly ask for His blessings and to hold us steady in times of difficulty. This drought is without question a time of great difficulty for our farmers and for communities across our state,” Riley said in a statement.[6]

I know I’ll be criticised, especially by the media, for reminding you and our communities that droughts provide us with a reminder that human beings and government cannot control the creation of when rain comes or when the heavens are closed. Surely this drought reminds us we depend on a Higher Power – the Lord God – who sends the rain and stops the rain.

3. Call to action

clip_image006(James Edmund Allen 1938, prayer for rain, courtesy Metropolitan Museum of Art)

Australia’s Brian Pickering explained:

It was back in 2006 when Australia experienced a severe drought. God called for Australia to repent following national prayer to end a severe drought. God is still waiting according to the leader of the Australian Prayer Network, Brian Pickering.

God Is Still Waiting for Australia to Repent.[7]

I add: God is still waiting for Australian legislation to be determined by God’s standards. Quit this human morality and practise God’s justice in ALL legislation.

How could my headline be changed to reflect what Australia can do about the BIG drought?

The big dry: ‘See us, hear us, help us Lord God Almighty. We repent of our sins against You. Lord, encourage Aussies please, please to dig deep and send material help to the farmers’.

Prime Minster, Scott Morrison, and church leaders: Australia needs your leadership to call all God-fearing people to pray for an end to the drought.

Why should God break the drought when ‘righteousness exalts a nation’ and Australia legislates laws that are a disgrace, i.e. promoting wicked, immoral behaviour?

We can take action as a nation by repenting of our sins, returning to God, and legislating God’s righteousness. That will mean cancelling legislation that violates God’s commands of righteousness.

3.1 Expect mass media attacks

3.1.1 The ABC

There was an opinion piece in ABC Religion & Ethics by Bryon Smith. It was titled: ‘Faith without works: Why the Prime Minister’s call to pray for rain is offensive’ (Smith 2018).

It was a response to Morrison’s speech in Albury: ‘It’s great to see it raining here in Albury today. I pray for that rain everywhere else around the country. And I do pray for that rain. And I’d encourage others who believe in the power of prayer to pray for that rain and to pray for our farmers. Please do that’.

Byron Smith found fault with this statement:

For many Christians, this was a small but encouraging gesture: the nation’s most prominent public official acknowledging that rain is a blessing we receive as gift, an expression of our dependence upon a whole network of creaturely relationships overseen by a Creator.

BUT …

for many atheists, it was a small but offensive gesture: the national leader talking to a sky fairy, embracing and promoting irrational superstition. Some responded on social media with angry mockery, warning of theocracy or taking the opportunity to criticise Morrison’s particular brand of Christianity.

As a Christian, I found Morrison’s comment to be offensive. But not because a Prime Minister speaks publicly of prayer or is open about his Christian beliefs.

Rather, what I find truly offensive is the profound disconnect between his professed prayers and the pro-coal – and thus anti-farmer – agenda of his government. To pray when facing a crisis like widespread drought is not the problem. But when the government Morrison leads has spent many years doing little or nothing about the root causes of the warming that is worsening such extreme weather, then inviting the nation to pray in response is somewhat galling (Smith 2018).

So, according to Smith, prayer is unacceptable until the government gets its act together over global warming.

Byron, who sends the rain and who withholds it? You’ve left the Lord God out of your equation, even though you say you speak ‘as a Christian’. Is God’s intervention that far down your priority list?

3.1.2 Pray for Rain

On 22 April 2007, The Sydney Morning Herald had this headline:[8]

Pray for rain, urges [John] Howard’

clip_image008

(photograph John Howard courtesy Wikimedia Commons)

The report stated:

Prime Minister John Howard has urged Australians to pray for rain as hard-hit agricultural regions face zero water allocations due to drought.

Mr Howard warned last week that farmers in the Murray-Darling Basin faced having no water for the coming irrigation year unless heavy rain fell in the next six to eight weeks.

On Sunday he said he intended to meet irrigators over coming weeks to discuss the grim situation.

Meanwhile, he encouraged people to seek divine intervention.

“It’s very serious, it’s unprecedented in my lifetime and I really feel very deeply for the people affected,” Mr Howard told ABC Television.

“So we should all, literally and without any irony, pray for rain over the next six to eight weeks”

What was the result?

3.1.3 It rained

God held off the drought-breaking rains until 2010-11. The headline in ABC News, 14 April 2010, was:

Flood rain reaches Murray-Darling Basin

Chrissy Arthur, ABC News, Brisbane, Qld: Posted 14 Apr 2010, 7:47am:[9]

A river expert says water from the Paroo River in south-west Queensland is flowing into the Darling River in New South Wales for the first time in 20 years.

There were record floods in the Paroo River last month (March 2010) and authorities say that is providing a boost for the Murray-Darling Basin.

clip_image010(No way through to Glenorchy, where the Wimmera River has flooded houses, sheds and farm properties. At Ashens, just north of Glenorchy, in the Wimmera region of NW Victoria, crops are under water. Photo courtesy Laura Poole)’[10]

Former Australian Prime Minister, Malcolm Turnbull, got it right on one point I’ve stressed in this series of articles:

‘“We can’t make it rain. But we can ensure that farming families and their communities get all the support they need to get through the drought, recover and get back on their feet” the government said in a statement’.[11]

He didn’t give any hint as to whom or what can cause it to rain. God Almighty has his reasons for delaying the rain, sending cyclones, allowing fires. Some of these include:

  • The link between a nation’s morality and God’s judgment.
  • ‘‘Righteousness raises a people to greatness; to pursue wrong degrades a nation’ (Prov 14:34 REB).
  • Ungodly legislation and practices in Australia are a disgrace to the nation and lead to Australia’s doom.
  • Only God sends the rain and withholds it.
  • Godless, secular Australia refuses to bow the knee to the Lord God Almighty.
  • We want his blessings of rain without the commitment to Him. We deserve what we get.
  • When will local, State and national leaders call the nation to prayer to break the drought and stop other disasters?

clip_image012

(image courtesy Pinterest)

clip_image014

(photo courtesy North Queensland Register)[12]

4.  Note

[1] Available at: https://www.news.com.au/technology/environment/heatwave-prompts-serious-health-alert-and-fire-bans/news-story/45600fce2e3251bf4838a19c0b9e4578 (Accessed 25 May 2019).

[2] She began her reign in 1952 and the coronation was in 1953. As of 2018 she has reigned 66 years and was aged 92 in 2018.

[3] Lusakatimes.com 2016. Zambia commemorates 25th anniversary of the declaration as a Christian Nation (online), 29 December. Available at: https://www.lusakatimes.com/2016/12/29/zambia-commemorates-25th-anniversary-declaration-christian-nation/ (Accessed 18 August 2018).

[4] Available at: https://www.lusakatimes.com/2016/12/29/zambia-commemorates-25th-anniversary-declaration-christian-nation/ (Accessed 18 August 2018).

[5] Wikipedia (2018. s.v. Lusaka).

[6] Phillip Rawls 2007 (Associated Press writer). Riley calling for statewide prayer for rain. The Decatur Daily (online), 29 June. Available at: http://archive.decaturdaily.com/decaturdaily/news/070629/rain.shtml (Accessed 6 November 2018).

[7] Vision Christian Radio 2018. God is still waiting for Australia to repent (online). Available at: https://vision.org.au/radio/2016/09/15/god-still-waiting-australia-repent/ (Accessed 18 August 2018).

[8] Available at: https://www.smh.com.au/national/pray-for-rain-urges-howard-20070422-gdpyx1.html (Accessed 7 January 2019).

[9] Chrissy Arthur 2010. Flood rain reaches Murray-Darling Basin. ABC News Brisbane, Qld. (online), 14 April. Available at: https://www.abc.net.au/news/2010-04-14/flood-rain-reaches-murray-darling-basin/395022 (Accessed 7 January 2019).

[10] ABC Rural and News reporters 2010. Drought breaks at last, as Victoria floods (online), 5 September. Available at: http://www.abc.net.au/site-archive/rural/news/content/201009/s3002960.htm (Accessed 7 January 2019).

[11] Stephanie Bedo 2018. Australia’s crippling drought crisis: Overcoming past mistakes to save ourselves for the future. news.com.au (online), 6 August. Available at: https://www.news.com.au/technology/environment/climate-change/australias-crippling-drought-crisis-overcoming-past-mistakes-to-save-ourselves-for-the-future/news-story/136436de96fee5f33809de8d607f413c (Accessed 7 January 2019).

[12] North Queensland Register is based in Townsville City, Qld, Australia. Available at: https://www.northqueenslandregister.com.au/contact-us/ (Accessed 4 April 2019).

Copyright © 2019 Spencer D. Gear. This document last updated at Date: 24 May 2019.

clip_image016

Sleeper cells and Australian election victory

By Spencer D Gear PhD

This article was first published as ‘Sleeper cells and Australian election victory’ in On Line Opinion (21 May 2019).


Related image

(Photo Scott Morrison family, courtesy frasercoastchronicle.com.au)

The Prime Minister gave credit to ‘quiet Australians‘ for his shock election victory on 18 May 2019. Pollsters predicted a Labor win. They got it wrong – very wrong.

Who could the ‘quiet Australians’ be? I’m not thinking of the ones mentioned by Morrison: Those with hopes of getting jobs, apprenticeships, and starting businesses. There are those with personal aspirations to form a family, buy a house, labour to provide for kids, and to save for retirement.

They sure were ones who spoke at the ballot box, after viewing the policies of the two major parties.

The forgotten quiet ones

Remember Morrison’s statements about dealing with the drought? He was in Albury, the birth place of the Liberal Party in September 2018, addressing the Liberal Party: ‘I do pray for that rain. And I’d encourage others who believe in the power of prayer to pray for that rain and to pray for our farmers. Please do that’. Were these among the quiet ones?

Was it a ‘miracle’?

Morrison said he ‘always believed in miracles‘ as he gave his victory speech at Liberal HQ on the evening of 18 May 2019. He added: ‘I would like to wish [Bill Shorten] and Chloe, and his family all the best, and God’s blessing’, concluding with, ‘We are an amazing country of amazing people. God bless Australia’.

Was it a ‘miracle‘ win, as ScoMo labelled it?

Yes it was in this sense: ‘A remarkable event or development that brings very welcome consequences’ for the Coalition government (Oxford English Dictionary). However, I don’t see it as ‘an extraordinary and welcome event that is not explicable by natural or scientific laws and is therefore attributed to a divine agency’ (OED) like Jesus’ resurrection.

The God factor was included in ScoMo’s blessing on the Shorten couple and exhorting God to bless Australia? Do we deserve blessing or his chastisement?

The sleeper cells I’m thinking of were not highlighted in the mass media coverage. They weren’t mentioned in what I heard and read after the voting.

God’s people, some of them elderly, distributed leaflets house-to-house about Labor’s extreme abortion agenda in public hospitals. I know of a couple in their 70s who did this and thought it might be a waste of time. It wasn’t.

The call to prayer

One not-so-quiet Australian was tennis great and pastor of Victory Life Centre, Perth, Margaret Court. In addition to praying through the election campaign period, Margaret and other Christian leaders called Australians to:

Image result for photograph Margaret Court public domain (photo courtesy Blue Mountains Gazette)

gather in praise and worship on the evening of Friday 17 May, on the eve of our election day. Encourage the people in your networks to get together and hold a combined church praise and worship night to declare that God is on the throne in our nation. ‘Your Kingdom Come! Your will be done by us in Australia, as in heaven’.

She previously wrote to ScoMo:

God impressed on my heart – that once the election date was announced, we should stand together and call 21 days of Pray[er] & Fasting. Through the Bible, Prayer and Fasting has (sic) impacted the course of history and adjusted the spiritual course of Nations. I’m reminded of – ‘If My people who are called by My name will humble themselves and pray and seek My face, and turn from their wicked ways, then I will hear from heaven, and will forgive their sin and heal their land’ (2 Chronicles 7:14).

Let our united prayer be: ‘Thank you Father that the righteous rule in our Nation of Australia, in Jesus Name. Amen’.

On 15 April 2019, the Australian Prayer Network began 30 days of prayer for the nation and the 2019 election. This prayer included ‘asking God’s forgiveness for where we have in the past failed to collectively pray for our national leaders and Government’.

These are some of the ‘quiet Australians’ who were praying and acting behind the scene, seeking God’s action for his intervention in the government of the nation.

Freedom of religion

The agenda of the ALP and the Greens threatened freedom of speech and freedom of religion. Only 5 days out from the election, The Catholic Weekly, warned: ‘ALP-Greens win would be a disaster for Catholics‘. Why?

The ALP policy pamphlet A Fair Go for LGBTIQ Australianssigned by Bill Shorten does not equivocate when it states ‘A Shorten Labor Government will amend the Sex Discrimination Act to remove the exemptions that permit religious schools to discriminate against students and staff on the basis of their sexuality or gender identity’….

There is also no doubt what the Greens Party intends to do if it forms an alliance with an incoming ALP Government. Its policy also denies religious freedom when it states, ‘The Greens will protect LGBTIQ+ rights in law, through a Charter of Rights and by legislating to remove religious exemptions in federal and state anti-discrimination laws’.

After the election, this led The Age (20 May 2019) to report that ‘Christian leaders say religious freedom was among factors that influenced voters‘.

Before the election (8 May), Martyn Isles, managing director of the Australian Christian Lobby (ACL) confirmed the:

Image result for images religious freedom(image courtesy Eternity News)

…ALP’s legal affairs spokesman Mark Dreyfus [stated] a Shorten government would remove important legal protections for religious schools.

‘This is out of step with what Tanya Plibersek said last week when she seemed to show a willingness to support religious schools’ right to teach their values, and employ staff that faithfully represent those values,’ commented Mr Iles. Religious freedom for schools remains a critical issue for millions of Australians, and so far, it has been sidelined from the election campaign’, he stated.

Labor and the Greens should have seen this coming. They were warned before the election, ‘Parents of Christian school students urged to vote for religious freedom‘. SBS reported 329 Christian schools had sent a pamphlet to parents whose children attended those schools. Mark Spencer, Christian Schools Australia national executive officer, told SBS News, ‘We have to be very careful, we’ve provided the policy information and it’s really up to parents to work out which parties are going to protect their values’.

Mr Spencer said this was an unprecedented move and ‘we have certainly ramped it up a lot because this issue is so important to us’.

SBS reported on the alarm by Christian schools last year of proposed change ‘to the Sex Discrimination Act to prevent religious schools being able to expel students or sack staff on the basis of their sexuality’.

If ‘millions of Australians’ were concerned about this, the ALP and the Greens should have seen it coming and so deserve to lose because of policies that discriminated against religious values.

Who brings a government to power?

In the New Testament, Romans 13:1 states ‘Everyone must submit to governing authorities. For all authority comes from God, and those in positions of authority have been placed there by God’.

It is God who raises governments and tears others down. If the values of governments clash with God’s law, Christians need to pursue what Peter and the apostles did: ‘We must obey God rather than any human authority’ (Acts 5:29).

These could be some of the sleeper cell issues that led to defeat in Labor’s unlosable election.

Copyright © 2019 Spencer D. Gear. This document last updated at Date: 21 May 2019.

Image result for clipart lines

Commercial celebrations contaminate Christmas

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

By Spencer Gear PhD

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

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

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

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

1.   Paddling in the Christmas shallows

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

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

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

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

2.  The Santa sham

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

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

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

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

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

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

3.  The contaminating myths

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

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

4.  How are myths created?

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

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

5.  Jesus’ birth as truth or fiction

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

7.  Embarrassment

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

8.  That questionable census

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

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

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

This historical information has some protagonists up in arms:

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

9.  Manipulation of evidence

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

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

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

10.  Conclusion

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Cynicism about Jesus as an Easter ‘treat’

 
Image result for clipart easter bunny and eggs public domain   Image result for clipart Jesus woman at tomb public domain

By Spencer D Gear PhD

This article is published in On Line Opinion, ‘Cynicism about Jesus as an Easter “treat”’, 4 April 2018.

Please note in the ‘Comments’ section at the end of the article the number of posters who don’t deal with the content of the article. Instead, they pour out their vitriol against Christianity with a string of logical fallacies.

I responded as OzSpen. However, when people are engaged in the use of erroneous reasoning, it’s impossible to have a logical conversation with them.

What are logical fallacies?

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 (Purdue Online Writing Lab: Logical Fallacies, 1996-2018).

 

 

Copyright © 2018 Spencer D. Gear. This document last updated at Date: 24 May 2018.

clip_image005_thumb clip_image005_thumb1