Category Archives: Truth

How to shame Christianity

Lee Strobel

Strobel in 2007

Strobel in 2007

By Spencer D Gear PhD

If you wanted to bring Christianity and its Bible into disrepute, how would you do it? If you go to the ‘Comments’ section of this interchange at Online Opinion, What is your view for one to worship humans? there you’ll see how some antagonists do it.

Christianity is currently the world’s largest religion with 2.22 billion followers according to the World Atlas. It includes approximately one-third of the world’s population but its numbers are declining.

clip_image002(Graph courtesy Pew Research Center, Conrad Hackett & David McClendon 2017)

Beginning in the first century AD, after the life, death, burial and resurrection of Jesus Christ, Christianity spread through the preaching of Jesus’ disciples, the apostle Paul and other preachers/teachers of the Gospel. You can read about the start of the Christian Church in the Bible’s Book of Acts.

1. Christ changes people

This Gospel’s content deals with the human condition and how it can be changed – permanently: ‘But here is how God has shown his love for us. While we were still sinners, Christ died for us’ and placing our faith in Christ brings new life – eternal life. This brings changed lives.

There are many examples of those who were sinners who became saints. Manny Pacquiao, former world boxing champion and now a member of the Philippine’s Senate, was defeated by Australia’s Jeff Horn. However, Manny says ‘the best thing that has happened in my life was that I encountered God’.

In this Christianity Today interview, it was revealed that his drinking, gambling and womanising behaviour was overlooked by fans, but those sins ‘were tearing apart his marriage and family’. See his wife’s comments below.

Lee Strobel

Strobel wrote on his webpage (photo from his homepage):

Atheist-turned-Christian Lee Strobel, the former award-winning legal editor of the Chicago Tribune, is a New York Times best-selling author of more than 40 books and curricula that have sold 14 million copies in total. He has been described in the Washington Post as “one of the evangelical community’s most popular apologists.”

Strobel was educated at the University of Missouri (Bachelor of Journalism) and Yale Law School (Master of Studies in Law). He was a journalist for 14 years at the  Chicago Tribune and other newspapers, winning Illinois’ highest honor for public service journalism from United Press International. He also led a team that won UPI’s top award for investigative reporting in Illinois.

After probing the evidence for Jesus for nearly two years, Strobel became a Christian in 1981. He subsequently became a teaching pastor at three of America’s largest churches and hosted the national network TV program “Faith Under Fire.” In addition, he taught First Amendment law at Roosevelt University and was professor of Christian thought at Houston Baptist University.

In 2017, Strobel’s spiritual journey was depicted in an award-winning motion picture, “The Case for Christ,” which showed in theaters across America and around the world. The movie is still on Netflix. Strobel won national awards for his books The Case for Christ, The Case for Faith, The Case for a Creator, and The Case for Grace. His latest book is The Case for Miracles.

He and co-author Mark Mittelberg recently created the Making YOUR Case for Christ video-driven small-group curriculum, which trains Christians how to share and defend their faith. The Christian Post named Strobel one of the top seven evangelical leaders who made an impact in 2017.

Strobel and his wife, Leslie, have been married for 47 years. Their daughter, Alison, is a novelist, and their son, Kyle, is a professor of spiritual theology at the Talbot School of Theology at Biola University.[1]

C. S. Lewis

Monochrome head-and-left-shoulder photo portrait of 50-year-old Lewis
Lewis, age 48

On the intellectual side of things, G.K. Chesterton had a significant influence on Lewis. As Lewis read The Everlasting Man, he appreciated Chesterton’s humor and was surprised by the power of his presentation. He began to feel that “Christianity was very sensible ‘apart from its Christianity'” (p. 130). Lewis also found that he was drawn to many other authors that had this strange Christian twist:Spenser, Milton, Johnson, MacDonald, and others. In contrast, those with whom he theoretically agreed-Voltaire, Gibbon, Mill, Wells, and Shaw-seemed thin and “tinny.” On top of this, some of the brightest, most intelligent at Oxford were also “supernaturalists.” People like Neville Coghill, Hugo Dyson, and J.R.R. Tolkien were kindred spirits and also Christians. One by one, the arguments that were obstacles to faith were removed.

Once while riding on a bus in Oxford, Lewis had the sense that he was “holding something at bay, or shutting something out” (p. 131). He could either open the door or let it stay shut, but to open the door “meant the incalculable.” He finally submitted himself to God, the most “dejected and reluctant convert” in all England. This belief in God happened in 1929, but it was not until 1931 that he surrendered himself to Christ.

When Lewis finally came to Christ, he at last resolved the “dialectic of desire” he had been struggling with since childhood. Downing points out that Lewis’s first experience at Oxford was highly symbolic. When he exited the Oxford railway station for the first time, he was loaded down with luggage. Mistakenly, he started walking down the street in the wrong direction. As he kept walking, he grew disappointed at the rather plain houses and shops he found. Only when he reached the edge of town did he turn around to see the beautiful spires and towers that constitute Oxford. In telling this story, Lewis says, “This little adventure was an allegory of my whole life.” Boyhood was a “fall” from the joys of childhood. Growing up was even more of following the wrong way. The “path less taken” was a return to wonder and glory and a rejection of the mundane inanities of modern life (p. 153). He needed to look back in order to go forward. Good only comes by “undoing evil;” a wrong sum can be put right.

His faith changed his direction from “self-scrutiny” to “self-forgetfulness.” He rejected the “unsmiling concentration on the self” and was “taken out of my self” to love God and others (p. 156). Downing says: “The real story of Lewis’s conversion, then, is not about dramatic changes in a man’s career but about dramatic changes in the man.”[2]

Hugh Ross (astrophysicist)

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Hugh Rosss (CRU)

Part of his story is:

I delayed making a personal commitment of my life to Christ. Although I knew God with my mind, I struggled to surrender my will to him. What if God changed the direction of my life? What if the people around me found out about my new beliefs?

As I continued to wrestle with the decision, my grades began to drop, and I discovered the meaning of Romans 1:21, which warns that rejecting God’s truth results in a darkening of the mind. After two months of vacillation, I finally turned my whole self to God and signed the “decision statement” at the back of my now well-worn Bible, acknowledging my life now belonged to Jesus Christ, my Creator and Savior.

With the help of a provincial scholarship and a National Research Council (NRC) of Canada fellowship, I went on to complete my undergraduate degree in physics at the University of British Columbia and my graduate degrees in astronomy at the University of Toronto.[3]

Alister McGrath

The Reverend

Alister McGrath

FRSA

Alister McGrath.jpg

Christianity Today stated of Oxford University Professor McGrath:

The relationship between Christianity and science is hotly debated, and both believers and skeptics have appealed to Albert Einstein to buttress their positions. Believers point to Einstein’s many references to God while skeptics note his rejection of revealed religion. Alister McGrath, Andreas Idreos Professor of Science and Religion at Oxford University, has written a new book on the famous physicist, A Theory of Everything (That Matters): A Brief Guide to Einstein, Relativity, and His Surprising Thoughts on God (Tyndale).

McGrath also recently published Narrative Apologetics: Sharing the Relevance, Joy, and Wonder of the Christian Faith (Baker), in which he argues that stories are an important but often overlooked resource for commending Christianity. In both books, he contends that the Christian faith has a better story to tell than secular alternatives and offers great explanatory power.

Christopher Reese spoke with McGrath about the interconnected topics of faith, science, and apologetics.[4]

Rosalind Picard

Rosalind Picard

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Rosalind Picard at the Veritas Forum Science, Faith, and Technology session on “Living Machines: Can Robots Become Human?”

In the British magazine, Premier Christianity, there was an article by Ruth Jackson, “Professor Rosalind Picard: ‘I used to think religious people had thrown their brains out the window.’ She was asked:

How did you become a Christian?

I grew up in a family that never went to church or talked about religion. I thought people who were religious had thrown their brains out the window. I used to babysit for this really cool family – he was a doctor and she was really neat – while they went to Bible studies. They invited me to church and I told them I was sick. Then they invited me again and I told them I was sick. Faking sickness to a doctor really wasn’t working! They caught on that I didn’t want to go and told me that what I believe matters. They asked if I’d read the Bible. I was a straight A student – one of those obnoxious kids who thought myself really smart. So, I thought I should probably read the bestselling book of all time. I agreed to take their advice to read the book of Proverbs, one a day for a month. I saw there was all this wisdom. Not wacky, made-up gobbledygook, but stuff I could learn from. I was humbled. Then I set out to read the whole Bible. And that changed me.

It took time, because I did not want to believe in God. And I resisted. But as I read the Bible, I felt God talking to me. I eventually went to church and the pastor challenged us to consider inviting Jesus to be Lord of our life. That sounded a little wacky to me. But I decided to run it as a scientific experiment: if it’s really stupid, it won’t make any difference, it doesn’t really matter. And if it makes a difference, wouldn’t it be better to have the mind of the whole universe, who knows everything, as Lord of my life? So, I took that step and it made an enormous difference. This load was lifted, I felt amazing peace (25 May 2021).

She is a leading expert in Artificial Intelligence.

Nicole Cliffe: How God Messed Up My Happy Atheist Life

She wrote:

Nicole Cliffe: How God Messed Up My Happy Atheist Life(Nicole Cliffe photo courtesy Christianity Today)

I became a Christian on July 7, 2015, after a very pleasant adult life of firm atheism. I’ve found myself telling “the story” when people ask me about it—slightly tweaked for my audience, of course. When talking to non-theists, I do a lot of shrugging and “Crazy, right? Nothing has changed, though!” When talking to other Christians, it’s more, “Obviously it’s been very beautiful, and I am utterly changed by it.” But the story has gotten a little away from me in the telling.

As an atheist since college, I had already mellowed a bit over the previous two or three years, in the course of running a popular feminist website that publishes thoughtful pieces about religion. Like many atheists (who are generally lovely moral people like my father, who would refuse to enter heaven and instead wait outside with his Miles Davis LPs), I started out snarky and defensive about religion, but eventually came to think it was probably nice for people of faith to have faith. I held to that, even though the idea of a benign deity who created and loved us was obviously nonsense, and all that awaited us beyond the grave was joyful oblivion.

I know that sounds depressing, but I found the idea of life ending after death mildly reassuring in its finality. I had started to meet more people of faith, having moved to Utah from Manhattan, and thought them frequently charming in their sweet delusion. I did not wish to believe. I had no untapped, unanswered yearnings. All was well in the state of Denmark. And then it wasn’t.

What I Already Knew

There are two different starting points to my conversion, and sometimes I omit the first one, because I think it gives people an answer I don’t want them to have. It is a simple story: I was going through a hard time. I was worried about my child. One time I said “Be with me” to an empty room. It was embarrassing. I didn’t know why I said it, or to whom. I brushed it off, I moved on, the situation resolved itself, I didn’t think about it again. I know how people hear that story: Oh, of course, Nicole was struggling and needed a larger framework for her life! That’s part of the truth, but it’s not the whole truth.

The second starting point is usually what I lead with. I was surfing the Internet and came across John Ortberg’s CT obituary for philosopher Dallas Willard. John’s daughters are dear friends, and I have always had a wonderful relationship with their parents, who struck me as sweetly deluded in their evangelical faith, so I clicked on the article.

Somebody once asked Dallas if he believed in total depravity.

“I believe in sufficient depravity,” he responded immediately.

What’s that?

“I believe that every human being is sufficiently depraved that when we get to heaven, no one will be able to say, ‘I merited this.’ ”[5]

Nicole Cliffe is co-founder and co-editor of the website, “The Toast,” and lives in Utah.

Aleksandr Solzhenitsyn

Aleksandr Solzhenitsyn

Aleksandr Solzhenitsyn in February 1974

Aleksandr Solzhenitsyn in February 1974 (photo courtesy Wikipedia).

Christian Life Ministries wrote:

When Alexander Solzhenitsyn received the Templeton Award in 1983, he began his address with these words:

Over half a century ago, while I was still a child, I recall hearing a number of older people offer the following explanation for the great disasters that had befallen Russia: they said,

“Men have forgotten God; that’s why all this has happened.”

Since then I have spent well near fifty years working on the history of our revolution; in the process I have read hundreds of books, collected hundreds of personal testimonies, and have already contributed eight volumes of my own towards the effort of clearing away the rubble left by that upheaval. But if I were asked today to formulate as concisely as possible the main cause of the ruinous revolution that has swallowed up sixty million of our people, I could not put it more accurately than to repeat:

“Men have forgotten God; that’s why all this has happened.”

Sixty Million people suffered and died from deprivation, weakness, starvation, famine, cruelty or imprisonment in the concentration camps of Siberia. Solzhenitsyn said that he could not put it more accurately than to repeat:

“Men have forgotten God; that’s why all this has happened.”[6]

How Oxford and Peter Singer drove me from atheism to Jesus (Sarah Irving-Stonebraker)

Doctor Sarah Irving-Stonebraker(photo courtesy Western Sydney University)

Sarah is a Senior Lecturer in Modern European History,
Humanities (Arts)

 

Sarah wrote:

I grew up in Australia, in a loving, secular home, and arrived at Sydney University as a critic of “religion.”  I didn’t need faith to ground my identity or my values. I knew from the age of eight that I wanted to study history at Cambridge and become a historian. My identity lay in academic achievement, and my secular humanism was based on self-evident truths.  As an undergrad, I won the University Medal and a Commonwealth Scholarship to undertake my Ph.D. in History at King’s College, Cambridge.  King’s is known for its secular ideology and my perception of Christianity fitted well with the views of my fellow students: Christians were anti-intellectual and self-righteous.

After Cambridge, I was elected to a Junior Research Fellowship at Oxford.  There, I attended three guest lectures by world-class philosopher and atheist public intellectual, Peter Singer.  Singer recognised that philosophy faces a vexing problem in relation to the issue of human worth. The natural world yields no egalitarian picture of human capacities. What about the child whose disabilities or illness compromises her abilities to reason? Yet, without reference to some set of capacities as the basis of human worth, the intrinsic value of all human beings becomes an ungrounded assertion; a premise which needs to be agreed upon before any conversation can take place.

I remember leaving Singer’s lectures with a strange intellectual vertigo; I was committed to believing that universal human value was more than just a well-meaning conceit of liberalism.

I remember leaving Singer’s lectures with a strange intellectual vertigo; I was committed to believing that universal human value was more than just a well-meaning conceit of liberalism.  But I knew from my own research in the history of European empires and their encounters with indigenous cultures, that societies have always had different conceptions of human worth, or lack thereof.  The premise of human equality is not a self-evident truth: it is profoundly historically contingent.  I began to realise that the implications of my atheism were incompatible with almost every value I held dear.

One afternoon, I noticed that my usual desk in the college library was in front of the Theology section. With an awkward but humble reluctance, I opened a book of sermons by philosopher and theologian Paul Tillich. As I read, I was struck at how intellectually compelling, complex, and profound the gospel was.  I was attracted, but I wasn’t convinced.

A few months later, near the end of my time at Oxford, I was invited to a dinner for the International Society for the Study of Science and Religion.  I sat next to Professor Andrew Briggs, a Professor of Nanomaterials, who happened to be a Christian.  During dinner, Briggs asked me whether I believed in God. I fumbled. Perhaps I was an agnostic?  He responded, “Do you really want to sit on the fence forever?” That question made me realise that if issues about human value and ethics mattered to me, the response that perhaps there was a God, or perhaps there wasn’t, was unsatisfactory.

With the freedom of being an outsider to American culture, I was able to see an active Christianity in people who lived their lives guided by the gospel: feeding the homeless every week, running community centres, and housing and advocating for migrant farm laborers.

In the Summer of 2008, I began a new job as Assistant Professor at Florida State University, where I continued my research examining the relationship between the history of science, Christianity, and political thought. With the freedom of being an outsider to American culture, I was able to see an active Christianity in people who lived their lives guided by the gospel: feeding the homeless every week, running community centres, and housing and advocating for migrant farm laborers.

One Sunday, shortly before my 28th birthday, I walked into a church for the first time as someone earnestly seeking God. Before long I found myself overwhelmed.  At last I was fully known and seen and, I realised, unconditionally loved – perhaps I had a sense of relief from no longer running from God.  A friend gave me C.S. Lewis’s Mere Christianity, and one night, after a couple months of attending church, I knelt in my closet in my apartment and asked Jesus to save me, and to become the Lord of my life.[7]

2. Resistance from everyday people

I blog on Christian forums and meet open and honest people who have trouble with believing in Christ and they question the Bible’s reliability. There are others who are hard-headed atheists who won’t listen to any reasonable argument in support of Christianity.

Foxy tried it on me in this online blog:

Not everyone believes that what is written in the Bible is the literal word of God. After all The Bible was written by men and it’s their interpretations that are recorded. Therefore can you really claim that it is what God stated? Isn’t it just what you happen to believe? Therefore you are not in any position to preach to any one else. You are merely preaching your interpretations and beliefs. Other people have their own and don’t need you to educate them.

My reply was: Nice try, Foxy! Not one line of your response had anything to do with the content of what I wrote.

So, you committed a red herring logical fallacy. It is faulty reasoning because you attempted to redirect my argument to your doubting Thomas views about the Bible, God and interpretation. This is a deliberate diversion from my topic.


When you engage in the use of a logical fallacy, this flaw in reasoning undermines the validity of your arguments. It makes it impossible to have a productive conversation.

I could provide an answer to all of your questions and assertions, but that wouldn’t address the content of my post, to which you replied.

You have given me a few of your anti-Bible presuppositions in your post. Why don’t you use a few of these in an article for Online Opinion? Slam dunk God, the Bible and interpretation.
Then we can have a discussion that is related to your topic.
[8]

Foxy’s response was:

On the contrary – it was you were gave the Bible references. I merely stated what many theologians have stated. And yet you took that as an attack of some sort on the Bible. It wasn’t at all and what I personally believe or do not believe you have no way of knowing therefore your assumptions are not correct. But I agree that a rational, well reasoned intelligent discussion with you it seems would be pointless.
Cheers.
[9]

My response was:

Foxy,
Again you’ve not dealt with the content of what I wrote about your use of a red herring fallacy against me.

We cannot have a rational discussion when you continue to use this logical fallacy. It is your flawed reasoning that is contributing to this.[10]

Foxy came back:

OzSpen,
Could you be a tad more specific.
Exactly what red-herring fallacy are you referring
to that I provided?
Or are you stating that your quotes from the Bible
are a red herring fallacy?
[11]

I replied:

Foxy,
You don’t seem to understand the nature of the red herring logical fallacy you committed: See:
https://www.logicallyfallacious.com/tools/lp/Bo/LogicalFallacies/150/Red_Herring
When you responded to my post with very different content and did not address what I wrote, you changed topics to address what you wanted to say. Thus, it you committed the red herring fallacy.
It had nothing to do with my quoting Bible verses. It was what you stated in response to me.
[12]

You can read my further discussion with Foxy and others in this thread on the Bible and rejection of it as God’s Word.

3. Antagonism from atheists and agnostics

The trainer of Manny Pacquiao, Freddie Roach, who has trained him for 15 years, says he is an agnostic/atheist, so he has seen Pacquiao’s change firsthand.

He told The Guardian, Australia Edition (5 October 2014),

“I’m happy because I found the right way, salvation, born again. We are required to be born again, all of us. Christ said unless we are born again we cannot enter the kingdom of God. So it’s very important to me. Jesus Christ said: ‘I am the way and the truth and the life. No one comes to the Father except through me.’ There is no other way. The only way is through Jesus.”

“Pacquiao once was not so righteous. He once was an all-night hound dog, taking his pleasure where he pleased, ignoring all advice to respect the sanctity of his marriage vows and determined to squeeze as much fun from life as was available to someone who was born into grinding poverty. Those were his hardcore inclinations until only a few years ago”.

Eminent scientist and atheist/agnostic, Richard Dawkins, has been called the ‘High Priest of Unbelief’. His view is that

not only do we need no God to explain the universe and life. God stands out in the universe as the most glaring of all superfluous sore thumbs. We cannot, of course, disprove God, just as we can’t disprove Thor,[13] fairies, leprechauns and the Flying Spaghetti Monster. But, like those other fantasies that we can’t disprove, we can say that God is very very improbable (emphasis added).[14]

Is that so? Science can explain nature but explanation has no creative power. John Lennox, professor of mathematics at Oxford University and a Christian, responded to this view: ‘Physical laws on their own cannot create anything; they are merely a description of what normally happens under certain given conditions’.

5. Disinterest from those who don’t give a hoot about religion

There’s a story in the New Statesman:

Jonathan Derbyshire writes: Jeremy Bentham, his disciple John Stuart Mill once wrote, would always ask of a proposition or belief, “Is it true?” By contrast, Bentham’s contemporary Samuel Taylor Coleridge, Mill observed, thought “What is the meaning of it?” was a much more interesting question.

Today’s New Atheists –Richard Dawkins, Sam Harris, Daniel Dennett and the late Christopher Hitchens principal among them – are the heirs of Bentham, rather than Coleridge. For them, religion – or the great monotheistic faiths, at any rate – are bundles of beliefs (about the existence of a supernatural being, the origins of the universe and so on) whose claims to truth don’t stand up to rational scrutiny. And once the falsity of those beliefs has been established, they imply, there is nothing much left to say.

The New Atheists remind one of Edward Gibbon, who said of a visit to the cathedral at Chartres: “I paused only to dart a look at the stately pile of superstition and passed on.” They glance at the stately pile of story and myth bequeathed to humanity by religion and quickly move on, pausing only to ask of the benighted millions who continue to profess one faith or another that they keep their beliefs to themselves and don’t demand that they be heard in the public square.[15]

6. Shame Christians by using logical fallacies

Foxy did it above with his red herring logical fallacy.

Jayb wrote:

OzSpen: When the Gospel was proclaimed after Jesus’ death and resurrection,
I think you better do some reading up on History. The Gospels weren’t written until about 100 years after the death of Yeshua (Jesus) None of the people who wrote the Gospels had any direct contact with Yeshua. . . I guess you gotta be a Southern Baptist, Ay.
[16]

Jayb committed the argument from silence fallacy as I explained:

<<OzSpen: When the Gospel was proclaimed after Jesus’ death and resurrection, I think you better do some reading up on History>>.
It’s too late to tell me I need to read up on history. I’ve taught Church history and its place in secular history – at the college level. I have a university PhD in NT, with emphasis on the historical Jesus.
You argue from silence (which is a logical fallacy) when you don’t know my background. You stated:


<<The Gospels weren’t written until about 100 years after the death of Yeshua (Jesus) None of the people who wrote the Gospels had any direct contact with Yeshua>>.


That is false. John is described as ‘the disciple whom Jesus loved’ (John 21:20).
Your claim of no Gospel written before AD 100 is challenged. Dr Paul Barnett is a visiting fellow in ancient history at Macquarie University, Sydney. His research indicates that:
** ‘by the late fifties a number of written texts – Mark, Q and L (and others?) – were in existence. . . . We do not know precisely when these traditions reached written form’ (Paul Barnett 1999. Jesus & the Rise of Early Christianity, InterVarsity Press, pp 380).
** The infamous John A T Robinson of Honest to God fame has published some magnificent research on Redating the New Testament.


After the research, he concluded that all NT books were written before AD 70. They began with the Book of James (ca. 47-48) and concluded with the Book of Revelation (ca. late 68-70). That challenges your historical-critical belief that the Gospels weren’t written until after AD 100.


<<All the branches of Christianity established by the Apostles were eliminated by the Pauline branch after the Nicene Council by the Pauline Bishops>>.
That’s your hypothesis that needs to be verified or falsified through research.
<<I guess you gotta be a Southern Baptist, Ay.>>
Again you argue from lack of knowledge.
[17]

See my other articles dealing with this topic:

matte-red-arrow-small Logical fallacies hijack debate and discussion[1]

matte-red-arrow-small Logical fallacies used to condemn Christianity

matte-red-arrow-small Christians and their use of logical fallacies

matte-red-arrow-small One writer’s illogical outburst

matte-red-arrow-small Why Christianity is NOT a religious myth promoted by dim-witted theists

7.  Notes

[1] The Lee Strobel Center, Colorado Christian University, accessed 12 September 2021, https://www.ccu.edu/strobelcenter/.

[2] A book review by Art Lindsley of The Most Reluctant Convert: C.S. Lewis’s Journey to Faith, accessed 12 September 2021, https://www.cslewisinstitute.org/node/48. Page numbers refer to this review.

[3] “My Story: Dr Hugh Ross,” CRU, accessed 12 September 2021, https://www.cru.org/us/en/how-to-know-god/my-story-a-life-changed/hugh-ross.html.

[4] Christianity Today, “Alister McGrath: Both Science and Stories Declare God’s Glory,” December 4, 2019, accessed 12 September 2021, https://www.christianitytoday.com/ct/2019/december-web-only/alister-mcgrath-science-and-stories-declare-gods-glory.html.

[5] Nicole Cliffe 2016, Christianity Today, “Nicole Cliffe: How God Messed Up My Happy Atheist Life,” May 20, accessed 12 September 2021, https://www.christianitytoday.com/ct/2016/june/nicole-cliffe-how-god-messed-up-my-happy-atheist-life.html.

[6] Christian Life Ministries, Scarborough WA, Australia, “A Man of Enormous Christian Faith,”

[7] Sarah Irving-Stonebraker 2017.The Veritas Forum, “How Oxford and Peter Singer drove me from atheism to Jesus.”

[8] Posted by OzSpen, Thursday, 5 July 2018 5:29:03 PM.

[9] Posted by Foxy, Thursday, 5 July 2018 6:15:54 PM.

[10] Posted by OzSpen, Thursday, 5 July 2018 8:50:29 PM.

[11] Posted by Foxy, Friday, 6 July 2018 11:42:20 AM.

[12] Posted by OzSpen, Friday, 6 July 2018 5:38:58 PM.

[13] Thor was an ‘American comic strip superhero created for Marvel Comics by writer Stan Lee and artist Jack Kirby. The character derived from a Germanic god of the same name’ (Encyclopaedia Britannica 2020. s.v. Thor).

[14] R Dawkins 2006. Edge (online). Why there almost certainly is no God, 25 October. Available at: https://www.edge.org/conversation/richard_dawkins-why-there-almost-certainly-is-no-god (Accessed 13 June 2020).

[15] New Statesman 2013, “After God: What can atheists learn from believers?” 27 March, accessed 12 September 2021, https://www.newstatesman.com/culture/culture/2013/03/after-god-what-can-atheists-learn-believers.

[16] Posted by Jayb, Friday, 6 July 2018 11:25:05 AM

[17] Posted by OzSpen, Friday, 6 July 2018 7:30:59 PM.

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

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Journalist is out of biblical depth

 

By Spencer D Gear PhD

 

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(photo Israel Folau courtesy The South African)

 

I came across this excellent secular article by Harry Richardson in The Pickering Post, ‘Israel Sparks a Holy War’, 21 April 2019

I consider it to be an excellent well constructed defence of Folau from a secular source. In the article, he makes it obvious he is not supportive of supernatural Christianity.
I’d like to pick up on one of Richardson’s comments: Nowhere in the Bible does it say that equality is a virtue. Tolerance, inclusiveness and diversity don’t get a mention either‘.

How does this statement line up with biblical content?

  • If equality is not a virtue, how do we interpret Adam & Eve being made in the image of God (Gen 1:26-27) and after the Fall, human beings were still said to be in God’s image (Genesis 9:6; 1 Corinthians 11:7) and likeness of God (James 3:9). Does that mean the Bible teaches equality by all of us being made in God’s image?

For an explanation of the meaning of human beings being made in God’s image, see: ‘What does it mean that humanity is made in the image of God (imago dei)?’ (Got Questions 2019)

  • What about the warning against prejudice/favouritism in James 2 (NLT)?
  • Equality as a virtue is taught in Rom 2:11, ‘For God does not show favoritism’. Human beings demonstrate inequality but God doesn’t.
  • As for tolerance, it is a Christian virtue. As a foundation for life and the nations, it is the belief that the truth will come out eventually. This is a Christian understanding of tolerance: ‘Always be humble and gentle. Be patient with each other, making allowance for each other’s faults because of your love’ (Eph 4:2). In fact, the Christian advocates much more than tolerance. We are told to love our neighbours and our enemies (Mark 12:31; Luke 6:27-36);
  • Is inclusiveness a biblical virtue? Yes it is (see Gal 3:28 for believers). What about for unbelievers? See Mark 2:15-17 (NLT).
  • Diversity is promoted in the multiplicity of gifts of the Spirit (1 Cor 12; Eph 4:11-12; Rom 12:6-8).

I think Richardson should take a couple Bible courses such as ‘Introduction to the New Testament’ and ‘Survey of the Bible’. He doesn’t know his Bible well enough to make an informed comment like he has made.

 

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

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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

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(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

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(image courtesy Pinterest)

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(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

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(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

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(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.

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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.

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(Courtesy ABC News: Rural)[8]

This is how it looked in flood in 2010:

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(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.

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(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.

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(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.

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Pointing Towards a Solution

Australia’s droughts, floods & fires

By Spencer D Gear PhD

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(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?

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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?

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(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”

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

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Australia must repent of its moral depravity”

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Godliness exalts a nation”

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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 Sydney.

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’

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(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.

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The path Australia treads to ruin

By Spencer D Gear PhD

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(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.

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The fake and the genuine mixed in some churches: A dangerous concoction!

Landmine Doctrine

(image courtesy ChristArt)

By Spencer D Gear

I’ve been interacting with a missionary friend in a foreign country who wrote of a person from the Bethel Church who feeds 10,000 children, has established churches, and has a humble ministry of bringing healing to the black children of Africa. A film has been made about this person raising people from the dead. This person gains no money from the actions and aches as she sits in the dust with African children, preaching Christ. But she is part of the Bethel Church, Redding, CA, USA.

The question the missionary asked of me: ‘How can this person be misguided and as far from Christ as the church leaders of Bethel church’?

What does the Bethel Church teach?

Bethel Church, Redding CA

Courtesy Wikipedia

The Bethel Church, Redding, California has this teaching on YouTube where there is alleged gold dust falling. See: ‘Gold dust rains during worship at Bethel!

See also:

blue-satin-arrow-smallBethel testimonies’;

blue-satin-arrow-smallJeremy Riddle – Our Father PART 1/2 (Gold dust in the room)’;

blue-satin-arrow-smallGlory Cloud & Gold Dust at Bethel Church’;

blue-satin-arrow-smallBethel’s ‘signs and wonders’ include angel feathers, gold dust and diamonds’.

Critiques of the Bethel Church movement

Empty Words

(image courtesy ChristArt )

What are the issues with Bethel Church, Redding, California, and its teachings? There are many links to assessment of the heresy of Bill Johnson of Bethel Church in Apostasy Watch:

blue-arrow-smallWarning – Bill Johnson and Bethel Church’;

blue-arrow-smallSound advice for Bethel Church Pastor Bill Johnson’;

blue-arrow-smallBob Dewaay: Bill Johnson, IHOP [IHOP], & Ancient Heresy Reborn’;

blue-arrow-smallThe dangers of the International House of Prayer’, CARM;

blue-arrow-smallBill Johnson and Bethel – Report from Redding Record Searchlight’;

blue-arrow-smallBill Johnson / Bethel Church, Redding, California’ (links to other criticisms built into the article);

blue-arrow-smallBirds of a Feather Flock Together: Strange Manifestations in ‘Christian’ Circles – from God or not? Feathers in Church? Bill Johnson of Bethel Church, Redding California’;

Let me say up front that we cannot discern a heart before God of any person, whether associated with a church teaching false doctrine or one teaching the truth. That discernment is in God’s hands. But the Scriptures give some strong indicators of what can happen.

What did Jesus say about the mixture of the fake with the genuine?

When I turn to Jesus, this is the truth that he proclaims:

21 “Not everyone who says to me, ‘Lord, Lord,’ will enter the kingdom of heaven, but only the one who does the will of my Father who is in heaven. 22 Many will say to me on that day, ‘Lord, Lord, did we not prophesy in your name and in your name drive out demons and in your name perform many miracles?’ 23 Then I will tell them plainly, ‘I never knew you. Away from me, you evildoers!’ (Matt 7:21-23 NIV)

Only Jesus knows the truth of the human heart and the eternal destiny of people. It is evident from these Scriptures in Matthew 7 that Jesus did not regard good deeds and supernatural miracles to be guarantees that a person is a Christian who will enter the kingdom of heaven. It is evident that people can do many good works, perform miracles, and not do the will of the heavenly Father. It sounds strange to us, but God knows this is so. In fact, God calls these kinds of people, ‘evildoers’ (NIV) or ‘workers of lawlessness’ (ESV). So, these people are false prophets, even though they perform mighty works.

Evangelical commentator, William Hendriksen, wrote of this passage:

‘Does not all of this point to the possibility that also the demon expulsions and other mighty works of which the false prophets of Matt. 7:22 boast had been nothing but sham? Have not investigations proved again and again that among false prophets illusions, trickery, sleight of hand, etc., abound, and that what is presented as genuine is very often nothing but deception?’ (Hendriksen 1973:376).

Matthew 7:23 indicates a very high Christology. Jesus decides who will enter the Kingdom on the last day and he also decides who will be banished from his presence. That he never knew these people is because they falsely claimed him as Lord.

I find it interesting how the writer of The Didache, after the close of the New Testament, puts it this way, ‘But not everyone who speaks in a spirit is a prophet, except he have the behavior of the Lord. From his behavior, then, the false prophet and the true prophet shall be known’ (Didache 11.8). This is a good summary. One can use the word, ‘Lord’, of Jesus, allege to be a prophet and perform mighty works, and still be a fraud before Christ.

Therefore, the application to the Bethel Church is that a person can perform miracles, do other good works, but engage in false teaching and still not be a Christian who will enter the Kingdom. This does not mean that there are no genuine Christians associated with this church. That discernment is in Jesus’ control. However, ‘I never knew you’ are tragic words when they think that they are doing it for Jesus. Let’s understand that who enters the kingdom will be decided by Jesus. But here in Matt 7 there are strong indicators that good works and miracles can be associated with those who claim Jesus as Lord, but he is not their Lord. These are the penetrating words of Jesus.

I understand that we would like to think that there are those who perform wonderful deeds towards the needy, are used in supernatural miracles, but proclaim false doctrine, are misled but are truly Christian. But that’s not how Jesus sees it according to Matt. 7. I have to be true to Jesus and his teaching. It will sound harsh, but I have to answer at the end of my life to the Lord for my accuracy or otherwise with my biblical teaching. I hope people understand this. There is an attack on the truth of Scripture in the contemporary world.

Mark 9:39 states, ‘But Jesus said, “Do not stop him, for no one who does a mighty work in my name will be able soon afterward to speak evil of me’ (ESV). Those who proclaim false doctrine are speaking evil of the Lord as what they proclaim is not true.

I do not believe that miracles ceased with the original 12 apostles. See my article, ‘Can cessationism be supported by Scripture and church history?

Worm and Lace

(image courtesy ChristArt)

Which Jesus?

There is the problem we face in the twenty-first century that was also there in the first century: Which Jesus are they/we serving? Is He the one who mixes falsehood with truth, or is he the one who is ‘the way, the truth and the life’ ALWAYS?

Consider these sources of falsehood and truth. We have warnings and affirmations in Scripture:

matte-red-arrow-small ‘But test everything; hold fast what is good. Abstain from every form of evil’ (1 Thess 5:21-22 ESV).

matte-red-arrow-small‘Beloved, do not believe every spirit, but test the spirits to see whether they are from God, for many false prophets have gone out into the world’ (1 John 4:1 ESV).

They were there in the first century. They are here n the twenty-first century. There will be the fake performed alongside the genuine. To the human eye they may look similar, but to Jesus he is the one who discerns those who knew him and those who didn’t. This we know from his teaching: Genuine good works, genuine miracles, and false teaching do not go together. They are often mixed and Christians are to be people of biblical and spiritual discernment. Too often we are not!

Therefore, the Lord calls all true believers to be people committed to the ministry of discernment:

matte-red-arrow-small ‘But test everything; hold fast what is good. Abstain from every form of evil’ (1 Thess 5:21-22 ESV).

matte-red-arrow-small‘Beloved, do not believe every spirit, but test the spirits to see whether they are from God, for many false prophets have gone out into the world’ (1 John 4:1 ESV).

The challenge

Here is the challenge that you and I face, whether in an overseas country or here in my country of Australia. We are to be these kinds of Christians: ‘So that we may no longer be children, tossed to and fro by the waves and carried about by every wind of doctrine, by human cunning, by craftiness in deceitful schemes’ (Eph 4:14 ESV). It is tempting to see those who are doing massive good deeds mixed with fake miracles, to be seen as genuine. But the false and the truth cannot be mixed and come out as genuine. That’s according to Jesus and the Scriptures.

Why don’t you take a read of this article about the teaching of Bill Johnson and the Bethel Church, ‘An Invasion of Error: A Review of Bill Johnson—When Heaven Invades Earth

Part of the problem we face in the contemporary church is that teaching the truth through sound doctrine from the pulpit and in small groups is on such a low level in many evangelical churches. Many are too interested in their contemporary worship, topical sermons, and Gospel light, to be pursuing the need to teach true doctrine and refute false doctrine.

My wife and I had an experience of that in the last 18 months when we moved to a new suburb in northern Brisbane and sought an evangelical church that proclaimed sound theology in both teaching and song. We visited 8 different churches before we found one that came close to sound teaching (expository preaching from books of the Bible) and solid lyrics in the songs they sang. Most were into rock ‘n roll Christianity in their music and songs, and light sermon content.

I emailed one pastor whom I had never met as he wasn’t there and preaching when my wife and I visited his church on one occasion. I had enquired about going to one of his cell groups locally. His response was that a cell group at his church would not be suitable for me as it was ‘more contemporary than the church service’. I had not mentioned a word to him about ‘contemporary’ anything. Obviously the one person we spoke to after the service conveyed to the pastor some of the comments we made about the service. As for solid teaching in the evangelical churches, we did not find it – except for one. But the problem with this one, which we currently attend, is that it is super-traditional in all that happens in the services. However, the pastor is a sound expositor of Scripture who is not afraid to exegete the Scriptures and provide careful interpretations of the meaning.

See my articles:

silver-arrow-smallFive ingredients of a healthy church: Colossians 4:7-18‘;

silver-arrow-smallDouble faults and no aces: Margaret Court’;

silver-arrow-smallAre the dead raised today?

silver-arrow-smallSeventh Day Adventist atonement doctrine’.

T

(image courtesy ChristArt)

References

Hendriksen, W 1973. New Testament Commentary: Exposition of the Gospel according to Matthew. Grand Rapids, Michigan: Baker Academic.

 

Copyright © 2013 Spencer D. Gear. This document last updated at Date: 15 April 2016.

Are unthinking Christians normal for Christianity?

Think

ChristArt

By Spencer D Gear

I was reading Bill Muehlenberg’s excellent article on the need for more Christians to think. It was his call to have a renewed mind and respond to the challenges of our secular world in, ‘Let my people think’.

Then came Kurt Skelland’s ‘troll’ by way of response:

If Christians starting thinking there would be no Christians left!

“Most people would rather die than think. And most do.”
Bertrand Russell.

Thinking is inimical to the fanciful claims of religion.[1]

Secularists’ false claims

It is not uncommon to read these kinds of statements on websites of skeptics or atheists. Take a read of a leading skeptic, Paul Kurtz, ‘Why I am a skeptic about religious claims’.

How do we respond to Kurt Skelland’s skeptical claims?

1. ‘If Christians starting thinking there would be no Christians left!’

This is a clear example of someone who doesn’t know the content of the Christian Scriptures. If Kurt’s claim were true, there would be absolutely no use for these Christian statements:

  • Luke 10:27, Jesus said, ‘You shall love the Lord your God with all your heart and with all your soul and with all your strength and with all your mind, and your neighbor as yourself’ (ESV).
  • Ephesians 4:22-24, ‘to put off your old self, which belongs to your former manner of life and is corrupt through deceitful desires, and to be renewed in the spirit of your minds, and to put on the new self, created after the likeness of God in true righteousness and holiness’ (ESV).
  • Romans 12:2, ‘Do not be conformed to this world, but be transformed by the renewal of your mind, that by testing you may discern what is the will of God, what is good and acceptable and perfect’ (ESV)

It is obvious that the Bible teaches: (1) Loving God with our whole beings, and (2) After we become Christians, we are to put off the old way of thinking and be transformed by renewed thinking in the mind.

This is the problem which non-Christian people (unbelievers) face, ‘The god of this world has blinded the minds of the unbelievers, to keep them from seeing the light of the gospel of the glory of Christ, who is the image of God’ (2 Cor. 4:4).

Kurt has another problem with the Christian faith.

2. Why choose a Bertrand Russell quote?

Honourable Bertrand Russell.jpg

Bertrand Russell 1916. Courtesy Wikipedia

Kurt cited Bertrand Russell, “Most people would rather die than think. And most do”. What’s significant about that? Russell is a friend of skeptics, agnostics and atheists.

On the practical level, this quote may be true for a lot of people. But who was Bertrand Russell? Was Russell an agnostic or atheist? This is what Russell stated:

I never know whether I should say “Agnostic” or whether I should say “Atheist”. It is a very difficult question and I daresay that some of you have been troubled by it. As a philosopher, if I were speaking to a purely philosophic audience I should say that I ought to describe myself as an Agnostic, because I do not think that there is a conclusive argument by which one can prove that there is not a God.[2]

Even in this article, Russell admitted, ‘On the other hand, if I am to convey the right impression to the ordinary man in the street I think I ought to say that I am an Atheist, because when I say that I cannot prove that there is not a God, I ought to add equally that I cannot prove that there are not the Homeric gods’.[3]

I have quoted Bertrand Russell at times, but this is to refute his claim on a topic. He said, ‘I believe that when I die I shall rot, and nothing of my ego will survive’[4], and I cited it in my article, ‘Will you be ready when your death comes?’ Bertrand Russell now knows the truth of what happens after death and he will have found that it is very different from what his agnosticism/atheism taught him. Bertrand Russell died on 2nd February 1970.

How do I know? Jesus died and rose from the dead. He has assured all people of what will happen at the Final Judgment (Matthew 25:31-46). I commend to you Dan T. Lioy’s article, ‘Life and death in biblical perspective’.

Kurt’s Bertrand Russell quote would have only passing significance if it were not for his other emphases in his troll statement. His other emphasis was:

3. ‘Thinking is inimical[5] to the fanciful claims of religion’

In other words, thinking and Christianity do not go together. Notice what Kurt does. He provides not one shred of evidence to support his claim. He is into sloganeering by giving us his opinion. Whenever somebody does this, we need to call them to account by asking things like these:

  • So you are giving us your opinion in one foul swoop of a slogan. That carries as much weight as a car driver, with no engineering experience, going over Brisbane’s Gateway Bridge and saying, ‘That’s not the proper way to build a bridge. Those fanciful engineers didn’t know what they were doing when they built that bridge that way’. You know such a statement had fanciful, irrational overtones. So has Kurt’s claim about thinking being hostile to religion come with evidence?
  • You would never win good grade in any exam with that kind of evidence. You gave zero evidence to prove your point. You’ve made a nonsense statement because it is your idiosyncratic opinion that comes with nothing to back up your claim.
  • Get real. I’m a thinking Christian and I don’t buy into your thoughtless comments.
  • Your statement really is antagonistic to what you are trying to prove. Your statement is inimical (hostile) to thoughtful people who might want to take you seriously.

However, Kurt’s kind of statement can be found all over the www in relation to religion. These are a few grabs that Google helped me find quickly.

  • Freud, ‘religion was our “collective neurosis”’ (HERE);
  • ‘When it comes to magic, religion, politics, geography, on and on, you can write whatever you can dream up as long as you make it consistent within your world’ (HERE).
  • ‘Religion is fantasy. Everything that you have been taught about religion is wrong’ (HERE).
  • ‘The ties between fantasy and religion are quite strong’ (HERE).
  • ‘Religions, like everything else, evolved from earlier myths’ (HERE).

Kurt is echoing the statements of other skeptics. The Los Angeles Times published an article, ‘Thinking can undermine religious faith, study finds’ (April 26, 2012). The article begins with this statement:

Scientists have revealed one of the reasons why some folks are less religious than others: They think more analytically, rather than going with their gut. And thinking analytically can cause religious belief to wane — for skeptics and true believers alike.

The study, published in Friday’s edition of the journal Science, indicates that belief may be a more malleable feature of the human psyche than those of strong faith may think.

Another report on this research stated,

In some ways this confirms what many people, both religious and nonreligious, have said about religious belief for a long time, that it’s more of a feeling than a thought,” says Nicholas Epley, a psychologist at the University of Chicago. But he predicts the findings won’t change anyone’s mind about whether God exists or whether religious belief is rational. “If you think that reasoning analytically is the way to go about understanding the world accurately, you might see this as evidence that being religious doesn’t make much sense,” he says. “If you’re a religious person, I think you take this evidence as showing that God has given you a system for belief that just reveals itself to you as common sense (The Huffington Post, 27 April 2012).

So religion is more of a feeling than a thought! That’s not what Jesus thought when he told us that we are to love God with our mind. Also, there is no point in the Christian renewing the mind if thinking is unimportant for the believer. I’m reminded of how the Bereans were commended for their Christian faith:

The brothers[6] immediately sent Paul and Silas away by night to Berea, and when they arrived they went into the Jewish synagogue. Now these Jews were more noble than those in Thessalonica; they received the word with all eagerness, examining the Scriptures daily to see if these things were so (Acts 17:10-11).

So these Bereans were thoughtful Jews who checked out the apostle Paul to see if what he stated agreed with their Scriptures. Jews/Christians who think have been part of Christianity from the beginning of the Christian era.

4. Conclusion

Kurt is an example of a fly-by-night sceptical, sloganeering person who is motivated to present slogans on a Christian website (Bill Muehlenberg’s Culture Watch). These kinds of people are stirrers who don’t want to present sustainable content with which we can dialogue.

In fact, they are self-refuting in their approach. Kurt wanted to condemn Christians for not being thinkers but his actual post demonstrated to us that he is the one who is not a thinker. If he were thinking about his post, he would be providing sustainable arguments to demonstrate that religion (Christianity especially) is fanciful. And these would be arguments with which we Christians could interact.

Kurt has demonstrated that he is not seeking truth and he did not present truthful statements about why he thinks that Christianity is fanciful.

What is truth?

See:

Preference or truth?’ (Greg Koukl)

What is truth?’ (Paul Copan & Mark Linville)

The nature of truth and exclusivity’ (Ravi Zacharias, YouTube)

Embodied truth’ (Ravi Zacharias)

Why truth matters’ (Os Guinness)

What is truth?’ (J P Moreland, YouTube)

Notes:


[1] Kurt Skelland, 14 September 2012, available at: http://www.billmuehlenberg.com/2012/09/13/let-my-people-think-2/comment-page-1/#comment-269299 (Accessed 15 September 2012).

[2] Russell, Bertrand. “Am I An Atheist Or An Agnostic? A Plea For Tolerance In The Face Of New Dogmas.” Positive Atheism Web Site, available at: http://www.positiveatheism.org/hist/russell8.htm (Accessed 14 September 2012).

[3] Ibid.

[4] Cited in Richard Dawkins 2006. The God Delusion. London: Black Swan (Transworld Publishers), p. 397. This is from Bertrand Russell’s 1925 essay, “What I believe”. It is available for free download HERE.

[5] ‘Inimical’ means ‘unfriendly; hostile’, according to dictionary.com at: http://dictionary.reference.com/browse/inimical?s=t (Accessed 14 September 2012).

[6] The footnote in the ESV at this point stated, ‘Or brothers and sisters’.

 

Copyright © 2012 Spencer D. Gear. This document last updated at Date: 29 October 2015.

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Religious marriage with a different twist: My response to Spencer Howson

Marriage is from God

ChristArt

By Spencer D Gear

bmag is a Brisbane freebie newspaper-magazine style publication delivered to Brisbane households once a month. It can be accessed online HERE.

Spencer Howson is a breakfast presenter on radio, ABC 612 Brisbane. He used to write a regular column for bmag. Since my email letter of 11 July 2012 to Spencer Howson, a bmag contributor, was not published on 24 July 2012, p. 16, ‘Your say on marriage’, here I publish what I wrote to him on 11 July 2012 (his email was, spencer@bmag.com.au):

Your ‘Marriage shake-up‘ article (bmag, 10 July 2012) was your secular, religious, relativistic, politically correct (PC) promotion to accommodate the homosexual community. Yours is as religious a perspective as any in Australia. There is no philosophy, religion or worldview that is not devoted to some divinity – the object of its highest desire and deepest commitment. You may not call it ‘divinity’ but this pinnacle of desire and depth of commitment is the essence of the ‘divine’ (even though you define it differently).

Your use of projection triggers gives away your presuppositions (bold emphasis ahead). These projection triggers included,

(1) ‘I’ve never considered our marriage has anything to do with God’.

(2) Your marriage to Nikki was ‘a religion-free declaration of love and commitment’.

(3) ‘Nikki and I would have chosen a Civil Marriage’.

(4) ‘What do you think of my idea of having Church Marriage and Civil Marriage?’

Yours is a religion of autonomous reason – but it is as religious as any Christian’s view in Australia. [Here I add dot points that I did not include in the letter.] His presuppositions include:

  • Marriage has nothing to do with God.
  • A God-less marriage is religion-free.
  • Marriage is a declaration of love and commitment with no reference to God.
  • A Civil Marriage is preferred if you want it to be religion-free.

This is a pluralistic, relativistic religion that has considerable negative ramifications. How come? When the polyamory, polyandry, polygamy and marriage to children PC groups come along promoting their views, you have no rational basis to reject such religious perspectives. Yours is a slippery slope argument, Spencer, and you are standing at its pinnacle.

You are conning yourself by claiming yours is a non-religious perspective and your PC view should be considered or promoted. Having Church Marriage and Civil Marriage – your religious perspective – is a BIG compromise of the integrity of marriage.

By the way, your view of the church as ‘membership of a club – and that’s what church is’, is a country mile from the reality of the church being and functioning as the body of Christ (Romans 12:5; 1 Corinthians 12:27). If your knowledge of marriage is as far-off as your understanding of the church, our society is in deep trouble if it pursues your religious views.

Why is the church so adamant about marriage being between a man and a woman? In spite of your alternate religious values, from the beginning of time the Judeo-Christian Almighty God has declared that this is the foundation of marriage: ‘That is why a man leaves his father and mother and is united to his wife, and they become one flesh’ (Genesis 2:24). The foundation of a stable and just society is marriage of a man and a woman. [The following was not in my email to Spencer Howson.]

Jesus Christ supported the Genesis 2:24 passage when he was teaching about divorce:

He answered, “Have you not read that he who created them from the beginning made them male and female, and said, ‘Therefore a man shall leave his father and his mother and hold fast to his wife, and the two shall become one flesh’? So they are no longer two but one flesh. What therefore God has joined together, let not man separate” (Matt 19:4-6 ESV)

I add Karl Barth’s comment:

There is no man who does not have his own god or gods as the object of his highest desire and trust, or as the basis of his deepest loyalty and commitment. There is no one who is not to this extent also a theologian. There is, moreover, no religion, no philosophy, no world view that is not dedicated to some such divinity. Every world view … presupposes a divinity interpreted in one way or another and worshiped to some degree, whether wholeheartedly or superficially. There is no philosophy that is not to some extent also theology. Not only does this fact apply to philosophers who desire to affirm—or who, at least, are ready to admit—that divinity, in a positive sense, is the essence of truth and power of some kind of highest principle; but the same truth is valid even for thinkers denying such a divinity, for such a denial would in practice merely consist in transferring an identical dignity and function to another object. Such an alternative object might be “nature,” creativity, or an unconscious and amorphous will to life. It might be “reason,” progress, or even a redeeming nothingness into which man would be destined to disappear. Even such apparently “godless” ideologies are theologies (Barth 1963:3-4).

Reference:

Barth, K 1963.  Evangelical Theology: An Introduction. London: Weidenfeld and Nicolson.

 

Copyright © 2012 Spencer D. Gear. This document last updated at Date: 29 October 2015.

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What makes Christianity true?

T

ChristArt

By Spencer D Gear

Stated briefly, Christianity is true because ….

  1. It matches reality like a hand in a glove.
  2. It’s description of human beings is a perfect fit, including the good, the bad and the ugly (fallen human beings in sin – Genesis 3).
  3. It’s explanation of how the universe began and the majesty of the universe are spot on (see Genesis 1-2; Psalm 19).
  4. It gives the only permanent solution I know for changing human beings – from the inside out – in salvation through Christ alone.
  5. It provides the absolutes for running nations (if nations would only obey them) – the 10 commandments (Exodus 20) and the Sermon on the Mount (Matt. 5-7). Francis Schaeffer described this as the thesis vs antithesis dilemma that God fulfills.
  6. As for a world and life view, there is none to match it.
  7. That’s why I know that Jesus is the way, the truth and the life (John 14:6) .

Recently I was reading a book by Ravi Zacharias, Jesus among Other Gods: The Absolute Claims of the Christian Message (Word Publishing 2000) in which he, a former Hindu was so disillusioned with life that he attempted suicide. In this book he writes,

I came to Him [Jesus] because I did not know which way to turn. I have remained with Him because there is no other way I wish to turn. I came to Him longing for something I did not have. I remain with Him because I have something I will not trade. I came to Him as a stranger. I remain with Him in the most intimate of friendships. I came to Him unsure about the future. I remain with Him certain about my destiny. I came amid the thunderous cries of a culture that has three hundred and thirty million deities. I remain with Him knowing that truth cannot be all inclusive. Truth by definition excludes (p. 6).

I highly recommend this as an excellent lay-level book to help people work through the challenges of multitudes of religions and gods.

However, there are many theological liberals (modernist or postmodernist) who don’t want this to be true. They don’t trust the God revealed in Scriptures and they want to denigrate biblical content wherever possible. Many of these do not believe in the reality of prophecy or the miraculous because their presuppositions exclude a God who would do that. They hack into the integrity of the Bible.

As I’ve examined their claims and the claims of world religions, I conclude where I began: The Christian worldview matches reality perfectly.

See also my articles,

 

Copyright © 2014 Spencer D. Gear. This document last updated at Date: 29 October 2015.

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