Category Archives: 2 Chron 7:14

Using common ground to reach secular people with the Gospel

Viola sororia, Common Blue Violet, Howard County, Md,

By Spencer D Gear PhD

Secular Aussies are reluctant to talk about religious things involving Christianity and seem to be unwilling to engage in discussion about the Gospel of Jesus Christ. That’s my experience.

A. Introduction

clip_image001Social researcher, Hugh Mackay (b. 1938), in 2013. Photograph courtesy Wikipedia.

Chloe Brant (2016) wrote an article for ABC News, Brisbane, Qld., in which she highlighted some of the details in Hugh Mackay’s new book, Beyond Belief (2016), and interviewed him. She wrote:

In his new book Beyond Belief, Australian social researcher Hugh Mackay argues a growing number of people, particularly young people, are abandoning religion in favour of a different kind of spirituality — one not restricted by institutions or guidelines.

We still crave answers and seek happiness, Mackay says, but more of us are finding it in secular realms: yoga, meditation, music.

Here, Mackay discusses why young people are embracing the Spiritual But Not Religious (SBNR) movement, why we still call upon God when luck fails us, and whether it is possible to find meaning without religion.

In her interview with Mackay she asked:

Where do you see faith, religion and spirituality in Australia venturing in the next decade? Mackay’s response was:

I think there will be ‘SBNR’ boxes on the census in the future. Twenty per cent of Australians tick “no religion”.

Of course, this is bad news for churches, but good news for society.

Although people are not as drawn to churches, they still believe there is a spiritual dimension out there … they are thinking of everyone as a whole. They are seeing us all as connected, as one.

Do you personally believe we can find meaning without religion? Mackay replied:

I believe we can find meaning without religion. When people say they are SBNR, almost always they say they care for others and not about “me” or “us”.

I believe we can all think beyond ourselves, where faith is no larger than self or some non-religious pathway.

So this social scientist is confident in affirming that meaning is possible without religion and that that this increasing consensus of ‘Spiritual But Not Religious’ is ‘bad for churches, but good news for society’. Mackay was born in 1938. He’s moving towards older age and death one day. When he meets the Lord God almighty at death, he’ll be wishing he had pursued life after death issues as found in Christianity.

See my articles:

clip_image002 Ecclesiastes 9:5 and what happens at death

clip_image002[1] Is hell fair?

clip_image002[2]What is the nature of death according to the Bible?

clip_image002[3]2 Thessalonians 1:9: Eternal destruction;

clip_image002[4]Hell & Judgment;

clip_image002[5]Hell in the Bible;

clip_image002[6]Should we be punished for our sins?

clip_image002[7]Paul on eternal punishment;

clip_image002[8]Where will unbelievers go at death?

clip_image002[9]Torment in Old Testament hell? The meaning of Sheol in the OT;

clip_image002[10]Eternal torment for unbelievers when they die;

clip_image002[11]Will you be ready when your death comes?

clip_image002[12]What happens at death for believer and unbeliever?

clip_image002[13]Does eternal destruction mean annihilation for unbelievers at death?

clip_image002[14]Refutation of Seventh-Day Adventist doctrine of what happens at death;

clip_image002[15]Near-death experiences are not all light: What about the dark experiences?

clip_image004 See my article, “Evidence for the afterlife.”

Remember God’s assessment: ‘It is a terrifying thing to fall into the hands of the living God’ (Heb 10:31 NASB).

Here we have a big, big challenge to the churches to present the Gospel, declare why religion without God is disastrous for the individual and society, and deal with the objections against Christianity and religion.

See also Joel Keep (2017), Australia with ‘no religion’: In the aftermath of God. Joel Keep cited the 2011 census where ‘over 22 per cent of the national population’ nominated ‘no religion’. That’s almost 5 million out of 23 million Aussies who were counted.

B. How do we reach those who don’t know the Gospel?

On the other side of the world in the USA, I encountered Mark, on a Christian forum, where the topic was, ‘If someone said to you they want to become a Christian’. He responded to this topic by writing:

I would tell them to read the Bible, understand, and live – in this day the scripture is fulfilled
Isaiah 29:18
In that day the deaf shall hear the words of a book, and out of their gloom and darkness the eyes of the blind shall see.
This is that day.[1]

1. Go read the 1,500 pages of the Bible to understand the Gospel

That’s how many pages there are in my copy of the ESV (2001, Crossway). Therefore I responded:[2] In my very secular country, that advice would be one of the supreme ways to turn peole right off the Gospel.
I suggest that we approach a secular society like Paul did on the Areopagus (Acts 17:22-34 NLT). He found common ground with them:

‘Men of Athens, I notice that you are very religious in every way, 23 for as I was walking along I saw your many shrines. And one of your altars had this inscription on it: ‘To an Unknown God.’ This God, whom you worship without knowing, is the one I’m telling you about’.?

Then he moved towards proclamation of the true God, God’s creating human beings, and calling all people everywhere to repent for there is a day of judgment coming.
Paul did not say: Here’s a MSS of the Scripture; go away and read it. He engaged in proclamation, starting with establishing common ground. I’m convinced that is where we should begin also.

I find it quite bizarre that in a secular country of Australia where about 5 million of the 24 million people[3] chose ‘no religion’ at the 2011 census that any person in his or her right mind would hand people an entire Bible and say, ‘Go read it to understand the Gospel and then come back and we’ll discuss’.

C. It’s an evil generation

Mark’s comeback was complete with religious sloganeering:

Why would it turn people off? The premise is they want to be a Christian. Are you saying they want to be a Christian, but they don’t want to read the Bible? OK. Isa. predicted that too – Those who can read will say it can’t be read. Those who can’t read will say they can’t read. Isa. 29:11-12
Isa. 29:9
Stupefy yourselves and be in a stupor,
blind yourselves and be blind!
Be drunk, but not with wine;
stagger, but not with strong drink!
10 For the Lord has poured out upon you
a spirit of deep sleep,
and has closed your eyes, the prophets,
and covered your heads, the seers.
11 And the vision of all this has become to you like the words of a book that is sealed. When men give it to one who can read, saying, “Read this,” he says, “I cannot, for it is sealed.” 12 And when they give the book to one who cannot read, saying, “Read this,” he says, “I cannot read.”
13 And the Lord said:
“Because this people draw near with their mouth
and honor me with their lips,
while their hearts are far from me,
and their fear of me is a commandment of men learned by rote;
14 therefore, behold, I will again
do marvelous things with this people,
wonderful and marvelous;
and the wisdom of their wise men shall perish,
and the discernment of their discerning men shall be hid.” Isa. 29:9-14
It’s an evil generation. But that’s the way it’s supposed to be. Prophecy doesn’t give us any choice in the matter. People are always going to come up with different ways, but prophecy tells us what will be, and if it comes from God, it will take place. Makes sense too because there are so many views and denominations. The prophecy is, ‘In that day the deaf shall hear the words of a book and out of their gloom and darkness the eyes of the blind shall see.’ Isa. 29:18 And it is so, and I believe reading the Bible is the only way.[4]

D. That was a red herring fallacy.

You didn’t address what I wrote[5] that Paul’s approach at the Areopagus is a better way to deal with secular unbelievers today. Use the common ground to proclaim the Gospel. See Acts 17:22-34.
Telling secular people to go read that extensive book, called Scripture, is like telling them to forget the discussion and go to hell.
As people who love the Lord, we have a biblical responsibility to move from common ground to the Gospel in our discussion and proclamation: ‘For God loved the world so much that he gave his one and only Son, so that everyone who believes in him will not perish but have eternal life’ (John 3:16 NLT).
I consider this is a better approach to non-Christians in my secular Australia, rather than your, ‘I would tell them to read the Bible, understand, and live’ (see #59).

E. This is the day of the book!

What would a fundamentalist do to promote evangelism?

What do you want me to say? My way is to follow the Lord, and what he said by the prophets. Sorry, but the Lord said the words of a book will open the eyes of the blind. Isa. 29:18 This is the day. We have the book. Read it! In Paul’s day people believed in the gods. They were very religious. Acts 17:22 Obviously they wanted to hear what Paul was teaching. So this is a very different time, a time of darkness. There’s never been anything like it.
This is the day of the book. You’re telling me your friends can’t read? I have no sympathy for that. Your secular friends are condemned already if they do not believe in the name of the only Son of God.

John 3:18, “He who believes in him is not condemned; he who does not believe is condemned already, because he has not believed in the name of the only Son of God.”[6]

F. I also use THE BOOK.

I’m also following the Book.[7] Acts 17 is in The Book.
I did not say a word about my secular friends not being able to read. Not a word! That’s a straw man fallacy.

Asking secular people to read a book the length of the Bible is as unrealistic as my asking you to consider another approach to reaching non-Christians. I encourage you to use the Areopagus model of Acts 17 from THE BOOK.

G. We can assume they have heard the good news.

This is a response from someone who lives in a country as Christianised as the USA, but who doesn’t know how to interact with people in a very secular culture.

If they are not religious, if they deny God even exists, then what are you talking about common ground for? The Athenians were religious men, so Paul could talk to them about God. What are you going to say to those who deny God exists?
You say it’s unrealistic to ask them to read a book the length of the Bible. That’s a good one. But we can assume they have heard the good news. The premise is they want to be Christians. So I said, read the book, understand and live. But if they are not willing to read the book, then what can you do?
The Lord said it will happen, that in that day the words of a book will open their eyes. But before that can happen, I believe in confession, so that might work. Ask God for forgiveness. But there must be a believing heart in them.[8]

How should I reply to a number of false premises in this post?

H. Bunk! I don’t have religion.

I will use a few of your statements[9] to demonstrate that we can take the Areopagus common ground model, even with secular Aussies who deny the existence of God and don’t know the Gospel.

Mark: ‘If they are not religious, if they deny God even exists, then what are you talking about common ground for?’

Oz: We can have common ground with secularists. To my Aussie secular mate, Johnny, I can say, ‘I observe that you are very religious. What is religion? Oxford dictionaries online gives one definition of religion as, ‘a pursuit or interest followed with great devotion’ (Oxford dictionaries online 2017. s v religion). What is one thing that you follow, Johnny, with great passion? (wait for an answer to which I will respond). I see that over the summer months you, Johnny, have followed cricket on TV with great interest. You loved the T20 Big Bash; the ODI (one day internationals) between Australia and Sri Lanka is what enthuses you right now. You plan to watch the Australia vs India tests and ODI on Fox Sports.

Johnny. Bunk! That’s not religion. That’s just a keen interest that I have in a sport that I love.

Oz. So you have a great love for cricket? That’s what the Oxford dictionary describes as religion. What say we discuss this further at a time convenient for you? I’d also like you to think about how God knows you cannot be an atheist. No people in the world are atheists, even though they claim to be. What do you think God’s view would be? (I’ll be heading to the content of Rom 1:18-32 NLT.) Johnny, does God believe in atheists? Next time we’ll get into that one.

Mark: He stated, ‘But we can assume they have heard the good news’.

Oz: It’s time you took a visit to a very secular country like mine and walked down the main street of Brisbane CBD, Queen St., and asked 10 people these two questions: ‘Would you please tell me the content of the Gospel of Jesus Christ? What must happen for any person to gain eternal life and go to be with God at death?’ You will get an answer that is outside of your assumption. Many, many people in Australia have NOT heard the good news because it is not proclaimed publicly very often. About 5 million Aussies out of 23 million identify as having ‘no religion’ (Keep 2017).

Mark: ‘The premise is they want to be Christians. So I said, read the book, understand and live. But if they are not willing to read the book, then what can you do?’

Oz: Nobody will want to be Christians until they have had the bad news explained. Then the Good News, the Gospel, is proclaimed and they see their need. Asking a God-denying antagonist to the Christian faith to read this book of 1252 pp (that’s how many pages are in my ESV) is like asking a drowning man in the ocean to take another drink of salt water.

I do wish you would get out of your gold-fish bowl and encounter people who are secularists who don’t have a clue about the content of the Gospel of Jesus Christ.

I. Conclusion

There are reasons why Aussies are rejecting the Gospel and in our conversations with them, we had better listen to what is turning them off. Then use the Acts 17 (ERV) model of how to reach them.

Paul used a common point of contact to try to reach them:

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

19 They took Paul to a meeting of the Areopagus council. They said, “Please explain to us this new idea that you have been teaching. 20 The things you are saying are new to us. We have never heard this teaching before, and we want to know what it means.” 21 (The people of Athens and the foreigners who lived there spent all their time either telling or listening to all the latest ideas.)

22 Then Paul stood up before the meeting of the Areopagus council and said, “Men of Athens, everything I see here tells me you are very religious. 23 I was going through your city and I saw the things you worship. I found an altar that had these words written on it: ‘to an unknown god.’ You worship a god that you don’t know. This is the God I want to tell you about (Acts 17:18-23 ERV)

In talking to Aussies, I have not found them as overt as the Epicurean philosophers about their beliefs. Try these kinds of questions:

clip_image004[1] Where will you be 2 minutes after your last breath?
clip_image004[2] From where did you obtain that information?

clip_image004[3] How reliable is it?

clip_image004[4] What will it be like to be in heaven?

clip_image004[5] How could you avoid being damned in hell?

J. Works consulted

Brant, C 2016. Beyond Belief: Why Australians don’t go to church, but call upon God in times of crisis. ABC News (online), Brisbane, Qld., 22 May. Available at: http://www.abc.net.au/news/2016-05-22/hugh-mackay-beyond-belief/7432866 (Accessed 21 February 2017).

Keep, J 2017. Australia with ‘no religion’: In the aftermath of God. SBS (online), 6 February. Available at: http://www.sbs.com.au/topics/life/culture/explainer/australia-no-religion-aftermath-god (Accessed 21 February 2017).

Mackay, H 2016. Beyond belief. Sydney, Australia: Macmillan.

K.  Notes

[1] Christian Forums.net 2017. ‘If someone said to you they want to become a Christian’, 21 February, MarkT#59. Available at: http://christianforums.net/Fellowship/index.php?threads/if-someone-said-to-you-they-want-to-become-a-christian.68364/page-3 (Accessed 21 February 2017).

[2] Ibid., OzSpen#60.

[3] See the Australian Bureau of Statistics ‘Population Clock’ at: http://www.abs.gov.au/ausstats/abs@.nsf/0/1647509ef7e25faaca2568a900154b63?opendocument (Accessed 21 February 2017).

[4] Christian Forums.net 2017. MarkT#61.

[5] Ibid., OzSpen#62.

[6] Ibid., MarkT#63.

[7] Ibid., OzSpen#64.

[8] Ibid., MarkT#65.

[9] Ibid., OzSpen#66.

Copyright © 2021 Spencer D. Gear. This document last updated at Date: 07 September 2021.

Slamming Biblical Authority: On Line Opinion

The Honourable

Scott Morrison

MP

Scott Morrison 2014.jpg

Morrison in 2014

30th Prime Minister of Australia

Incumbent

By Spencer D Gear PhD

I wrote this article for On Line Opinion, “Have politics changed ScoMo’s Christianity?” in 2019.

Here are some of the comments that were posted:

Ttbn replied:

“Notice how he dodges the journalist’s questions”.
Morrison dodges questions on everything. He is the most secretive PM we have ever had. His happy clapping in the midst of a sweaty mob doesn’t make him a Christian either.
Anyone trying to analyse the man is doomed to failure: there is nothing there to latch onto. Morrison is a void.
[1]

Alan B jumped in with his comment, part of which read:

No!
He like the Author is still welded to the Christian/ (Constantine) manifesto. And like the Author? Is able to cherry-pick from Contatine’s cherry-picked Dogma for convenience?
In the days when alleged Biblical text was written, some 350 years after the event? Many books were left out at the behest of Constantine and or, his hand-picked minions!
One needs to understand that it was once required of believers to believe that planet earth was just 6,000 years old, at the centre of the universe which revolved around it! And those who challenged such irrefutable sacred text could be excommunicated!
[2]

Alan B is inaccurate with his view of the biblical text being written 350 years after the event and Christians required to be Young Earth Creationists. See my articles:

clip_image002 How were the New Testament documents transmitted in the first century AD?

clip_image002[1]The New Yorker’s biased journalism on Jesus

A sympathetic Christian Not-Now-Soon responded:

If Christians were united on many of these issues then I agree that the standard should be shared by politicians claiming their faith to be Christian. Unfortunately, I’ve come across too many types of christians to hold a standard of what counts as Christian and what doesn’t. Some don’t believe in the bible, because of social preasure to call it outdated and an old book. Others don’t believe in miracles, the very works that God does that are above and beyond the natural element of the world. And many without a tradition, a church foundation, or a devote study to ground them, mix up popular ideas with their faith. Things like “God looks after those who look after themselves” instead of that “God looks after the poor, the sick, and the widowed.”
With such confusion in the ranks one question needs to be asked, what makes a person a Christian? Is it a base knowledge and understanding that is agreed with? Go past that line and reject some of that and you are no longer a Christian? Is it obedience to teachings and the laws? Is it faith in God and Jesus? I’m sure whatever answer to the question “what makes a Christian a Christian,” will overlap the three aspects above with faith, understanding, and obedience (behavior), all summing up a minimum for what it means to be a Christian.
[3]

I think it is good for Christians to hold each other accountable in order to strengthen them in their faith. But I also know that kindness and understanding should be there too. Very few Christians can say they are great at understanding God’s direction, great at acting according to their faith, and great at having faith that is stronger then the difficulties and the opposition we face in life.
The trouble with ScoMo is probably the same trouble many Christians face. They believe but are not strong in their beliefs. They have faith but are not always confidant in that faith. Or they compromise their behaviors and do not follow the direction they know is right.
I know these are just a bunch of excuses for anyone regardless if they are a PM, or are anyone else, but excuses or not this is the situation we find ourselves in. Our weaknesses are easy to over power most of us.
OzSpen, from what you’ve shown in this article it seems ScoMo is along the same lines. He dodges some of those questions because he’s not strong in his Christian foundation to stand up to the opposition. A quality that unfortunately many of us share. If you can, pray for him. Even in light of his stumbling. If you can do more then that too, awesome. Encourage him when you can, and confront him when he’s in the wrong. But still pray for him even if you can do more also.
[4]

“Ponder” raised a couple good questions for us to ponder:

Why the obsessive attention to a belief system?
Does Christianity relate to facts and truths, or is it just a fantasy of faith?
We have need in our society for governments to manage and oversee policy on our behalf, not to indulge in rhetorical persuasion.
[5]

A brief reply

Ponder, an obsessive attention to a belief system is paid by Christians because our eternal destiny depends on our beliefs in the Trinitarian God and the Lord Jesus Christ. Scripture exhorts us: “For God so loved the world that he gave his one and only Son, that whoever believes (continues to believe) in him shall not perish but have eternal life” (John 3:16 NIV).

For the unbeliever and the person who does no good, “And these will go away into eternal punishment, but the righteous into eternal life” (Matt 25:46).

The eternal destinies of human beings are determined in their belief or disbelief in Jesus, the Son of God. “Ponder” has treated the eternal destinies of human beings too lightly.

I wrote again to Not_Now_Soon,

Not_Now.Soon,
<<… from what you’ve shown in this article it seems ScoMo is along the same lines. He dodges some of those questions because he’s not strong in his Christian foundation to stand up to the opposition. A quality that unfortunately many of us share. If you can, pray for him. Even in light of his stumbling. >>
You’ve made a perceptive assessment. ScoMo, as our Aussie Christian Prime Minister, faces challenges similar to those of us in any workforce. Will we look at work and the rest of life through the lens of Scripture and make the necessary adjustments? Or, will we compromise our standards for the sake of popularity. It must be so much harder for a prominent Christian in the public arena.
I pray for ScoMo to keep strong under the pressure but I also call on him to be more overt in what he believes. Perhaps he’s not sure how he can be a public face for Christianity and not offend many in our multicultural society. It seems to me he needs a couple introductory courses in Christian apologetics.
Wouldn’t it be good to hear that he listens to podcasts by John Dickson, William Lane Craig, Lee Strobel?
[6]

To Ponder I wrote:

<<Why the obsessive attention to a belief system? Does Christianity relate to facts and truths, or is it just a fantasy of faith?>>
Out of your and my beliefs will flow actions. Christianity is based on facts & truths. The Apostle Paul made that clear:
‘If Christ has not been raised, then all our preaching is useless, and your faith is useless. And we apostles would all be lying about God—for we have said that God raised Christ from the grave. But that can’t be true if there is no resurrection of the dead. And if there is no resurrection of the dead, then Christ has not been raised. And if Christ has not been raised, then your faith is useless and you are still guilty of your sins’ (1 Corinthians 15:14-16).
Without the fact of Jesus Christ’s resurrection, preaching for Christ is useless, as is Christian faith.
That’s why it’s important to understand the faith of anyone, whether atheist, pantheist or theist. All such world views impact on what we do in life.
[7]

There are more comments for you to address I this thread. I leave that for you to raise and then provide answers but here are a couple suggestions:

clip_image004 “Emeritus professor of ancient history at Western Michigan University, Dr Paul L. Maier, concludes:

‘If all the evidence is weighed carefully and fairly, it is indeed justifiable, according to the canons of historical research, to conclude that the tomb in which Jesus was buried was actually empty on the morning of the first Easter. And no shred of evidence has yet been discovered in literary sources, epigraphy, or archaeology that would disprove this statement.’[8]

How would you refute this evidence?

clip_image004[1] “What my comment had to do with your article is that your trying to use the same peer pressuring ideology to force our PM into acting in accordance with religion.
It’s not his job to act in accordance to his religion.
In his personal private life yes, sure.
As our PM its his job to act in the citizens best interests, as well as his own, if he wants to get re-elected.”
[9]

This statement violates the scriptural mandate, “So whether you eat or drink, or whatever you do, do it all for the glory of God” (1 Cor 10:31 NLT). For the Prime Minister, it comes under the umbrella of “whatever you do.”

Notes:


[1] Posted by ttbn, Wednesday, 6 November 2019 9:26:39 AM.

[2] Posted by Alan B., Wednesday, 6 November 2019 9:50:01 AM.

[3] Posted by Not_Now.Soon, Wednesday, 6 November 2019 1:04:06 PM.

[4] Posted by Not_Now.Soon, Wednesday, 6 November 2019 1:06:19 PM

[5] Posted by Ponder, Wednesday, 6 November 2019 1:24:55 PM.

[6] Posted by OzSpen, Wednesday, 6 November 2019 8:38:22 PM.

[7] Posted by OzSpen, Wednesday, 6 November 2019 8:48:27 PM.

[8] Posted by OzSpen, Thursday, 7 November 2019 8:28:11 AM.

[9] Posted by Armchair Critic, Thursday, 7 November 2019 7:09:45 PM.

Copyright © 2021 Spencer D. Gear. This document last updated at Date: 06 September 2021.

The Nature of Homosexuality

Elizabeth Farrelly

Elizabeth Farrelly.jpeg

Born
1957
Dunedin, New Zealand

By Spencer D Gear PhD

clip_image002The journalist has labelled people as sodomites without providing a correct definition.

clip_image004The Bible’s definition of sodomite will be emphasised.

clip_image006Ferrelly’s agenda is pro-gay.

clip_image008Ferrelly’s original definition of sodomy – yes, some biblical theologians do define it as lack of hospitality. I refer you to Neil Carter’s article, ‘Why doesn’t “Sodomy” refer to a lack of hospitality?

clip_image010Fight for gender equality is emphasised, which pushes for same-sex equality

clip_image012Fight for marriage equality is an emphasis.

clip_image014Fight for asylum seekers to be treated like seekers of asylum.

clip_image016Father Rod Bower vs Bill Muehlenberg.

Although this article is 7 years’ old, Tenets of democracy get lost in hate storm, it is riddled with pro-homosexual presuppositions. Take a read of the first line, “The sin of sodomy, say biblical scholars, was not homosexual sex but a failure of hospitality.” Farrelly gives no example from theologians who adopt that position. However, her view is not that of the evangelical theologians and ethicists I have on my book shelves.

However, the traditional understanding of sodomy has been a “sexual perversion originally associated with male temple prostitutes for which the city of Sodom became infamous.” It also has been associated with “intercourse of men with animals” (bestiality).[1]

In reading around the homosexual topic in the Bible, I’ve come across this interpretation of the sin having to do with a lack of hospitality – but it’s a minority view. When we examine the Bible’s definition of homosexuality (sodomy), we learn . . .

The True Nature of Homosexuality.

“No Israelite man or woman is to become a shrine-prostitute . . . because the Lord your God detests them both” (Deut 23:17-18 NIV). So, God “detests” homosexuality. That sure doesn’t sound like lack of hospitality and its association with lack of hospitality.

The Book of Judges records a shameful incident in Judges 19:22-25 (NIV) where some wicked men pounded on the door of an old man:

‘Bring out the man who came to your house so we can have sex with him.’

23 The owner of the house went outside and said to them, ‘No, my friends, don’t be so vile. Since this man is my guest, don’t do this outrageous thing. 24 Look, here is my virgin daughter, and his concubine. I will bring them out to you now, and you can use them and do to them whatever you wish. But as for this man, don’t do such an outrageous thing.’

25 But the men would not listen to him. So the man took his concubine and sent her outside to them, and they raped her and abused her throughout the night, and at dawn they let her go.

This sodomy is a wicked same-sex act.

Sodomy is condemned in the Book of 1 Kings 14:24, “There were even male shrine-prostitutes in the land; the people engaged in all the detestable practices of the nations the Lord had driven out before the Israelites” (NIV).

See also 2 Kings 23:7: Lev 18:22-23; and Ezek 16:50.

The New Testament provides a similar emphasis in Romans 1:24-29. Paul called it a sin for which the wrath of God would fall on sinful people who practised homosexuality. Verse 18 calls it a sin received for “all the godlessness and wickedness of people, who suppress the truth by their wickedness.”

In vv 24-27, the sin is called, “sinful desires”; “degrading of their bodies with one another”; “God gave them over to shameful lusts. Even their women exchanged natural sexual relations for unnatural ones. In the same way the men also abandoned natural relations with women and were inflamed with lust for one another. Men committed shameful acts with other men, and received in themselves the due penalty for their error”; “God gave them over to shameful lusts. Even their women exchanged natural sexual relations for unnatural ones. 27 In the same way the men also abandoned natural relations with women and were inflamed with lust for one another. Men committed shameful acts with other men, and received in themselves the due penalty for their error.” “God gave them over to a depraved mind.”

No matter how much a journalist wants to make the sin of sodomy appear as the sin of lack of hospitality, that’s not how God sees the sin in both Old and New Testaments.

Farrelly asks:

“So I ask again, is Scott Morrison a sodomite? Is Tony Abbott? Are we okay with this?”

I ask her: What evidence does she have that Morrison or Abbott is practising the “shameful lusts” and “degrading of their bodies” as sodomities do?

Notes


[1] Robert K Jacobsen, “Sodomy,” in Baker’s Dictionary of Christian Ethics, Carl F. H. Henry (ed.). Grand Rapids, Michigan: Baker Book House, 643.

Copyright © 2021 Spencer D. Gear. This document last updated at Date: 05 September 2021.

Who can break the drought?

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

By Spencer D Gear PhD

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

1.  Messages from the media

How are the mass and social media portraying it?

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

The package of assistance includes:

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

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

· a Health Care Card

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

2. An example of Queensland heartache

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

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

The article stated:

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

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

clip_image010Recent rainfall records at Greendale, west of Tambo.

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

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

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

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

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

2.1 Where is Greendale, Qld?

clip_image012(Image courtesy bonzle.com)

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

 

3. What is the solution for more rain?

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

 

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

 

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

clip_image020

By Boolarong Press Pty Ltd ABN 60 009 754 929

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

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

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

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

4. Who causes floods and droughts?

The Psalmist wrote:

Psalm 107:33-34 (ERV):

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

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

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

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

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

The introduction (preamble) of the Australian Constitution reads:

An Act to constitute the Commonwealth of Australia

[9th July 1900]

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

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

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

Jeremiah 14:22 (ERV):

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

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

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

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

clip_image023(image courtesy Dreamstime)

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

See my other articles about Australia and disasters:

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

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

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

clip_image033Pointing Towards a Solution

clip_image035Connection between spiritual condition of the nation and disasters

clip_image037Why does God allow floods to devastate Australia?

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

5.  Notes


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

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

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

 

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

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

2 Chronicles 7:14 is not for Christians

lu1089227q91v_tmp_86f62d0af1e01f17

(Image courtesy Cupcakegirl10)

By Spencer D Gear PhD

It is common among some evangelical Protestants (including Pentecostals) to use this verse to call Christians back to humility and prayer, turn from their sinfulness, and God will hear and bless their countries. He will forgive their sin and heal their land. It is used as a verse to call believers to the biblical disciplines that should lead to revival.

1. A call to revival

Here are a few online examples:

lu1089227q91v_tmp_1aa640af0b3c26cb Steve Gaines was president of the Southern Baptist Convention and pastor of Memphis area Bellevue Baptist Church in 2017. He acknowledged that the context indicated the message was for the Israelites but added:

‘Just because 2 Chronicles 7:14 was not written to Americans does not mean that Christians in America cannot benefit from its admonitions by obeying its precepts. Again, “all Scripture is profitable.” The warnings in the Old Testament “were written for our instruction.”

Many Christians in America are praying for a fresh spiritual awakening and revival among those of us who know Jesus Christ. I for one am praying for American Christians to embrace genuine humility, hunger and holiness. I am also praying that the Lord will graciously see fit to hear from heaven, forgive our sin, and send His much-needed healing (An appeal to rightly apply 2 Chronicles 7:14).

lu1089227q91v_tmp_1aa640af0b3c26cb[1] Donald Dueck wrote in April 2020:

Personally I believe this is a promise to us as well as it was to the Israelites and so I believe it is still relevant. In my personal life as a believer I have received many more blessings from God during times I was actively seeking God’s will then at times when I didn’t really care about what God wanted from me. I believe it applies to nations as well as to individuals. This “healing” relates to all types of problems being solved and is not limited to healing from a physical sickness (Quora).

lu1089227q91v_tmp_1aa640af0b3c26cb[2] A sermon by Dennis Lee:

Now consider God’s promise to the church and His people.

“If my people, who are called by my name, will humble themselves and pray and seek my face and turn from their wicked ways, then I will hear from heaven, and I will forgive their sin and will heal their land.” (2 Chronicles 7:14) [A special message: Our only hope, Sermon Central, 22 July 2020.]

lu1089227q91v_tmp_1aa640af0b3c26cb[3] Rev. Andrew B Natarajan is a Methodist preacher:

Today we are going to mediate on the theme ‘Welfare of a Nation’ based on the scriptural verse 2 Chronicles 7:14…. In this passage, the Lord spoke to Solomon about the cause and effect of loss and restoration of the welfare of a nation…. The welfare of a nation is depended (sic) on GOD-FEARING people…. Though, primarily the words “My People and their Land” refer to the People of Israel and the land of Israel. The promises are given to people of Israel is also promise given to the “people of New Israel” I.e., you and I (sic). (Welfare of a nation).

When I blog on Christian forums such as Christianity Board, Christian forums.com and Christian forums.net I sometimes encounter Christians who want to ignore the immediate context of the verse. They apply it to their nations, particularly the USA.

lu1089227q91v_tmp_1aa640af0b3c26cb[4] Pearl said: “He is speaking to the ‘people who are called by (his) name’ so that’s us” (Christianity Board, ‘God says…’ #3).

lu1089227q91v_tmp_1aa640af0b3c26cb[5] Pearl, when I lived in California I used to go to The Church On The Way. Wednesday evenings we would pray for the nation, and our start time was 7:14 pm’ (Christianity Board, God says… CharismaticLady#4).

lu1089227q91v_tmp_1aa640af0b3c26cb[6] 2 Chronicles 7:11-18 and especially Verse 14, is one of the most misused passages of scripture today, by especially preachers. They are misleading new and immature true believers and weakening their true and rightful faith in Christ. Let me explain it a bit…
‘It really does not apply to us (as believers) today in its original context and setting. The context in which it was written was after Solomon dedicated the temple. Then YHWH spoke to him and to his people concerning YHWH’s presence in the Temple and what is will do in the future. It was both a blessing and warnings’ (
APAK #11)

lu1089227q91v_tmp_1aa640af0b3c26cb[7] Ok then so are we are not to humble ourselves, are we not to pray, are we not to turn from our sin, are we not to seek his face? I don’t think I would go with that so I’ll continue to believe that the passage is for me’ (Pearl#13).

2. Original audience

Who were the people to whom 2 Chron 7:14 was addressed? This is the immediate context:

11 Thus Solomon finished the house of the Lord and the king’s house. All that Solomon had planned to do in the house of the Lord and in his own house he successfully accomplished. 12 Then the Lord appeared to Solomon in the night and said to him: “I have heard your prayer and have chosen this place for myself as a house of sacrifice. 13 When I shut up the heavens so that there is no rain, or command the locust to devour the land, or send pestilence among my people, 14 if my people who are called by my name humble themselves, and pray and seek my face and turn from their wicked ways, then I will hear from heaven and will forgive their sin and heal their land (2 Chron 7:11-14 ESV).?

So King Solomon finishing the ‘house of the Lord and the king’s house’ tells us exactly who the recipients of 2 Chron 7:14 are – the ones over whom Solomon was king.

This is stated clearly in the context: ‘When all the people of Israel saw the fire come down and the glory of the Lord on the temple, they bowed down with their faces to the ground on the pavement and worshipped and gave thanks to the Lord, saying, “For he is good, for his steadfast love endures for ever’ (2 Chron 7:3 ESV).

3. Is there an application for our nations today?

We have seen 2 Chron 7:14 was not a promise for today’s Christians but for the Israelites. We violate Scripture when we reef it out of context to make it mean what it does not mean.

However, some people have challenged my application of 2 Chronicles to the situation in America (see examples above).

But 1 Corinthians 10 and Romans 15:4 instruct us that we can learn lessons from the Old Testament Scriptures for the Christian life and church age. “For whatever was written in former days was written for our instruction, that through endurance and through the encouragement of the Scriptures we might have hope ” (Romans 15:4).

“For I want you to know, brothers, that our fathers were all under the cloud, and all passed through the sea, 2 and all were baptized into Moses in the cloud and in the sea, 3 and all ate the same spiritual food, 4 and all drank the same spiritual drink. For they drank from the spiritual Rock that followed them, and the Rock was Christ. 5 Nevertheless, with most of them God was not pleased, for they were overthrown in the wilderness.

6 Now these things took place as examples for us, that we might not desire evil as they did. 7 Do not be idolaters as some of them were; as it is written, “The people sat down to eat and drink and rose up to play.” 8 We must not indulge in sexual immorality as some of them did, and twenty-three thousand fell in a single day. 9 We must not put Christ to the test, as some of them did and were destroyed by serpents, 10 nor grumble, as some of them did and were destroyed by the Destroyer. 11 Now these things happened to them as an example, but they were written down for our instruction, on whom the end of the ages has come (1 Corinthians 10:1-11).

Though the law of Moses is not the believer’s rule of life, it is an important source of instruction for the Christian life. We draw spiritual lessons from it. We learn from its examples.

For an excellent explanation of 2 Chron 7:14 in context see: What is the meaning of 2 Chronicles 7:14?

4. Conclusion

When 2 Timothy 3:16-17 (ESV) was written, to which Scripture did it refer? ‘All Scripture is breathed out by God and profitable for teaching, for reproof, for correction, and for training in righteousness, that the man of God may be competent, equipped for every good work’.

Since the NT was in the process of being written, the OT could be the only text to which this ‘Scripture’ applies. Therefore, on the authority of the NT, the OT is ‘profitable for teaching, for reproof, for correction, and for training in righteousness’ so that the messengers of God would be equipped for their work.

Based on that kind of explanation, it would be easy to conclude that 2 Chron 7:14 is profitable for teaching true believers today.

This would be a false assumption as 2 Chron 7:14 in context applies primarily to this situation: ‘On the twenty-third day of the seventh month he [King Solomon] sent the people away to their homes, joyful and glad of heart for the prosperity that the Lord had granted to David and to Solomon and to Israel his people’ (2 Chron 7:10 ESV). The immediate context for v. 14 is v. 13 which states: ‘When I shut up the heavens so that there is no rain, or command the locust to devour the land, or send pestilence among my people’.

It is a mistake of biblical interpretation to make a text mean what it does not state in context. We are allowed to make many applications of teaching, reproof, correction, and training in righteousness from 2 Chron 7:14.

However,

We must not confuse application with interpretation.

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

Is Panentheism true Christian teaching?

Process-Relational Panentheism Diagram | Pantheism, Buddha ...

(Image courtesy Pinterest)

By Spencer D Gear PhD

‘Panentheism’ may seem strange language to you. It’s not a word we hear very often from evangelical Christian pulpits. However, my view is that it ought to be explained and refuted because it promotes damaging theology.

1. What is it?

I’ve encountered it in two situations: (1) Recently, from a Christian friend who had this view presented, and (2) when I was researching for my PhD dissertation on the historical Jesus, I came across some liberal, postmodern scholars. One who was an ardent advocate was Marcus J. Borg in his book, The God we never knew (1997). He died in 2015 at the age of 72.[1]

1.1 Marcus Borg the false teacher

Borg contended that ‘how we think about God matters…. I argue that a “panentheistic” concept of God offers the most adequate way of thinking about the sacred; in this concept, the sacred is “right here” as well as “the beyond” that encompasses everything”’ (1997:VII, 5)

I agree with him on one point: ‘How we think about God matters’. However, does he have the correct biblical thinking about the Lord God of the universe?

Borg defines panentheism as

God is the encompassing Spirit; we (and everything that is) are in God. For this concept, God is not a supernatural being separate from the universe; rather, God (the sacred Spirit) is a nonmaterial layer or level or dimension of reality all around us. God is more than the universe, yet the universe is in God…. This way of thinking about God is found among many of the mot important voices in the Christian theological tradition (Borg 1997:12).

He claims that these statements from Scripture support panentheism.

bronze-arrow-small ‘The whole earth is full of God’s glory’ (Isaiah);

bronze-arrow-small ‘The earth shining with God’s glory’ (Ezekiel);

bronze-arrow-small ‘The heavens declare the glory of God’ (Psalm 19).

1 Ascribe to the Lord, you heavenly beings,
ascribe to the Lord glory and strength.
2 Ascribe to the Lord the glory due to his name;
worship the Lord in the splendour of his holiness.

3 The voice of the Lord is over the waters;
the God of glory thunders,
the Lord thunders over the mighty waters.
4 The voice of the Lord is powerful;
the voice of the Lord is majestic.
5 The voice of the Lord breaks the cedars;
the Lord breaks in pieces the cedars of Lebanon.
6 He makes Lebanon leap like a calf,
Sirion like a young wild ox.
7 The voice of the Lord strikes
with flashes of lightning.
8 The voice of the Lord shakes the desert;
the Lord shakes the Desert of Kadesh.
9 The voice of the Lord twists the oaks
and strips the forests bare.
And in his temple all cry, ‘Glory!’ (Psalm 29:1-9 NIV; Borg 1997:34-35)

That these verses should be misinterpreted to divert attention from the LORD of glory who created the universe and calls us to praise the Lord of glory for his nature and actions in the universe, is a mockery of justice.

For a further critique of panentheism, see my article, Differences between orthodox theism and panentheism.

2. Down-to-earth questioning

A friend sent some questions to me from a discussion he had with a colleague. These are the colleague’s issues:

Here the issues are in red font:

clip_image002  ‘If there is nothing outside of God….’

This is a false premise as it promotes the heresy of panentheism that can be diagrammed as,

clip_image004

(Image from Facebook, ‘Christian Answers for the New Age’, 18 March 2019)

In biblical Christianity, God is outside the universe which he created. The Scriptures teach that God reigns over the nations from His holy throne in heaven (see Psalm 47:8; Isaiah 6:1, 66:1; Hebrews 4:16).

clip_image005‘Why did Lucifer have thoughts of rebellion?’

“With both the angels and humanity, God chose to present a choice. While the Bible does not give many details regarding the rebellion of Satan and the fallen angels, it seems that Satan—probably the greatest of all the angels (Ezekiel 28:12-18)—in pride chose to rebel against God in order to seek to become his own god.

Satan (Lucifer) did not want to worship or obey God; he wanted to be God (Isaiah 14:12-14). Revelation 12:4 is understood to be a figurative description of one third of the angels choosing to follow Satan in his rebellion, becoming the fallen angels—demons” (GotQuestions 2020. Why did God allow Satan and the demons to sin?)
There is not enough biblical information in the inspired Word to give a definitive answer to this question.

clip_image002[1]‘These negative thoughts would have to be part of God’s nature?’

That could never be so because of God’s absolute holiness (Isaiah 6:5), absolute justice (Deuteronomy 32:4), and absolute sinlessness (Habakkuk 1:13).

clip_image005[1]‘If time is just a construct for the human mind…’

Biblically, we know this is false because it was God who created everything and that included time. See Genesis 1:1; Ecclesiastes 11:5; John 1:3; Colossians 1:16–17. God needed nothing external to himself to create the universe (Acts 17:24–28). There are many more Bible verses in support of these teachings.

clip_image005[2]  ‘… God would know and see everything instantaneously, therefore, Lucifer’s fall would have all been part of the big picture to come?

This is exactly right. It’s called God’s omniscience. God knows everything, past, present and future, seen and unseen. The Bible confirms this in 1 John 3:20; Isaiah 46:9-10; Psalm 139:1-3, 15-16; and Acts 1:24.

clip_image005[3]‘Lucifer’s fall would have all been part of the big picture to come?

This is correct. But that is because of the nature of God’s omniscient attribute. God knows even the number of hairs on our heads (Matthew 10:29-30).

See the next installment of the person’s retort to my reply in, ‘Theism vs Panentheism’.

clip_image0073.  Works consulted

Borg, M J 1997. The God we never knew. New York, NY. HarperSanFrancisco.

4.  Notes


[1] See the obituary in the Los Angeles Times, ‘Marcus Borg, scholar who challenged literal view of Jesus, dies at 72’, 24 January. Available at: https://www.latimes.com/local/obituaries/la-me-marcus-borg-20150125-story.html (Accessed 9 July 2020).

Jenn 3d

Copyright © 2020 Spencer D. Gear. This document last updated at Date: 10 July 2020.

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Buddhist, Rohingya and Christian lives matter

Why must I go to alternate media for information about persecution?

(Image of Christian girl, Orissa, India  who was bruised and burnt during the anti Christian violence in Orissa in August 2008. It occurred when a bomb was thrown into her house by extremists; Courtesy Wikipedia)

By Spencer D Gear PhD

Two men on an asphalt surface, behind a black police SUV with the city name "MINNEAPOLIS", and a license plate that reads "POLICE" (some letters are obscured in this frame). One man has light skin, a blue shirt with identifying badges on his chest and shoulder, black pants and boots, and black sunglasses pushed to the top of his close-shorn head. He is kneeling with his left knee and upper shin resting on the neck of the other man, and his right knee out of sight behind the van. The other man is lying prone, with his left cheek pressed against the asphalt close to a painted line. He is dark-skinned, with similarly short hair, and is not wearing a shirt; His mouth is slightly open, his eyes are closed with his eyebrows raised, and his arms are down, not visible behind the van. The kneeling man has his left hand in a dark glove, with his right arm hidden behind the van, and is looking at the viewer with his eyebrows slightly lifted and mouth slightly open.(Frame from witness video, showing Derek Chauvin kneeling on George Floyd‘s neck. Image courtesy Wikipedia).

This article was published in On Line Opinion, 25 June 2020.

There have been 8:46 rallying cries across the USA to coincide with the length of time it was assessed for George Floyd to die on 25 May 2020. Others conclude it took 7 minutes 46 seconds.

The police officer, alleged perpetrator of the crime, Derek Chauvin, has been sacked from the police force. However, Floyd’s death has propelled rallies for ‘Black lives matter’ across the world – in the USA, Great Britain, across Europe, Australia, and in other countries.

This Rohingya crisis caught media attention.

I honestly support these protesters and their reasons. A policeman killing a man by putting so much pressure on his neck he could not breathe, if convicted, should be called a murderer.

However, there are other situations as serious that have had some mass and social media coverage. In recent years, mass media outlets have reported on the persecution of the minority sect that Rohingya Muslims have been persecuted in Myanmar (Burma) and have fled to Bangladesh.

BBC News (23 January 2020) gave details on the genocide of the Rohingya Muslims.

(Rohingya refugees in refugee camp in Bangladesh, 2017; Image courtesy Wikipedia)

‘The International Court of Justice (ICJ) has ordered measures to prevent the genocide of Rohingya Muslims in Myanmar (formerly Burma)….

Thousands of Rohingya died and more than 700,000 fled to Bangladesh during an army crackdown in 2017.

UN investigators have warned that genocidal actions could recur.

How have Myanmar people responded?

Tun Khin tweeted the ICJ ruling was ‘a crucial moment for Rohingya justice, and vindication for those of us who have lived through this genocide for decades’. He is the president of the Burmese Rohingya Organisation UK and continued:

‘The court’s decision clearly shows that it takes the allegations of genocide seriously, and that Myanmar’s hollow attempts to deny these have fallen on deaf ears’ (BBC News).

Human rights organisation Amnesty International said the ICJ decision ‘sent a message that the world would not tolerate Myanmar’s “atrocities”’.

The extent of Rohingya sprawling camps near the Bangladesh border for those fleeing Myanmar’s violence has been captured by a camera on a drone (BBC News 2017).

The Australian Government has explained its position but it hasn’t been updated since 14 June 2018. The Sydney Morning Herald (2017) reported: ‘Australia must act on Rohingya genocide’ which relates how ‘Almas saw her seven children and husband murdered during a wave of massacres in Myanmar. She and thousands of other survivors now face new threats as they languish in refugee camps’. ABC News, Brisbane Qld, ‘Aung San Suu Kyi denies genocide, says Rohingya Muslims caught up in armed internal conflict’.

Why don’t the people take to the streets with this slogan: ‘Rohingya Muslim lives matter’?

Why do I need to go to alternate media for other deaths?

George Floyd’s death is in the news, and rightly so. Have you heard much on the following?

Release International Voice reported on Indian Christian believers who were ‘taunted, beaten and forced to pose “like Christ on the cross” in police custody when extremists accused them of “forced conversion”’.

‘Pastor Indresh Kumar Gautam and four others were arrested after 30 Hindu extremists broke up their Sunday service in Pratapgarh district, Uttar Pradesh’. Australian mainstream media gives this persecution a flick pass as it doesn’t seem to have the worldwide implications of a George Floyd murder.

Why haven’t we heard a media campaign, ‘Indian teens’ lives matter’, following the death of a 16-year-old by stabbing and stoning? What was his crime? He was a Christian and wouldn’t renounce his faith. What was the crime he committed?

If it were not for alternate news’ sources I would not know of this persecution to death by Hindu extremists.

He refused to abandon his faith in Jesus Christ. Where were Australia’s news outlets to report this with catchphrases such as, ‘Indian Christian lives matter’?

It’s time for the ABC, SBS, Fox News, Sky News, Channels 7, 9, and 10 to wake up to international news’ responsibilities. I commend The Guardian Australia edition for reporting in February 2020 on the Australian ambassador’s meeting with the Myanmar military chief who was accused of Rohingya genocide. ‘Human Rights Watch has said Australia’s decision to take the meeting risked giving legitimacy and credibility to a military accused of mass atrocities’.

Other Australian news sources may have given limited coverage to some of the examples which follow. However, as a regular news reader and watcher, I have not seen any kind of uprising like ‘black lives matter’ in association with the deaths of other ethnic minorities – except Rohingya Muslims.

According to The Gulf News (01 March 2020) in Pakistan, 22-year-old Saleem Masih was ‘tortured to death for taking a dip in a village tube well in Pakistan, his fault was that he was a Christian’ and ‘polluted’ the water he bathed in.

Masih’s father said Saleem claimed the men who attacked, abused and cursed him did it because he was a ‘filthy Christian’. Social media users were furious about Saleem’s treatment and spread the word through #JusticeForSaleemMasih. ‘Pakistani Christian lives matter’.

The Buddhist minority in Vietnam has been under threat for decades in fear of persecution. At the Taiwan International Religious Freedom Forum in Hsinchu City in June 2018, Vo Tran Nhat, executive secretary of the Vietnam Committee on Human Rights, a nongovernmental organisation founded in Paris in 1975, explained his views as a non-religious person: ‘He cares a great deal about the Buddhists and minority Christians, who raise their voices against oppression and injustice. If Buddhists lose their religion, Vietnam would lose its “soul,” he warned’.

What has Australia’s main-stream media reported about these situations?

There are many other examples that the mass media choose to ignore. I’m thinking of a Syrian refugee in Lebanon who maintains his allegiance to Jesus in spite of suffering unemployment, persecution from Muslim family members, and homelessness.

An Egyptian woman is another case in point. She was kidnapped by extremists, forced to convert to Islam and marry a Muslim man. It is exceedingly difficult to bring such women back home to a normal life when they live in an honour-shame culture.

In April 2020, a Christian pastor, his wife and 15-year-old son were attacked by a Muslim neighbour in Pakistan. They were severely injured by machetes, sticks and pistols and they were treated in hospital. The case was reported to a local police station. Pakistani Christians face severe maltreatment. Often it comes from family members, radical Islamic groups, and even the government.

North Korea is a closed country and distribution of unapproved literature is a capital offence that could lead to forced labour or execution.

However, in 2014 Natasha Moore from the Centre for Public Christianity (a Christian organisation) published an opinion piece for the ABC’s, The Drum, Why don’t we hear about persecuted Christians? She gave an example of ‘the plight of Mosul’s Christians [that] has been noted by a growing number of news outlets, from The Independent to The New York Times. It has broken the surface of the international news cycle in a way that other atrocities – the fire-bombing of churches in Nigeria, the summary execution of North Koreans caught with Bibles – have not’. She does not consider the media were covering up the global persecution, but it reveals the media’s blind spots. As an example of the seriousness of the situation, she stated that Christians were persecuted in139 countries and about four or five acts of religious discrimination are against Christians.

Countries that were moderately secular and are now ‘avowedly secular’ have stepped up their hostility towards Christians. Turkey and Egypt join with post-communist, Islamic and some South Asian countries, Moore wrote. She referred authors to the 2008 book, Blind Spot: When Journalists Don’t Get Religion (Paul Marshall et. al.).

Farce of injustice by media

I find it to be a pretence against fair journalism when the media can so promote ‘Black lives matter’ when we have examples of Buddhist lives matter, Rohingya Muslim lives matter, and Christian lives matter around the world.

When will we see major, objective reporting on the Christian, Buddhist, Rohingya and other persecutions?

(Image courtesy fssx.news. An 11-year-old Christian child was beaten to death by his Muslim employer on July 11, 2019, in Faisalabad, in northeastern Pakistan.)

Copyright © 2020 Spencer D. Gear. This document last updated at Date: 24 June 2020.

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Some Christians unacceptable in Australian sport

When diversity has come to mean exclusion in sport

By Spencer D Gear PhD

Two situations have highlighted this recently in Australia and both relate to the one sportsman:

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(Israel Folau image courtesy Wikipedia)

clip_image004Rugby union champion, Israel Folau, a Christian,[1] had his 4-year contract cancelled by Rugby Australia (RA) in May 2019. In making the announcement, Rugby AU CEO, Raelene Castle, stated:

This has been an extremely challenging period for rugby and this issue has created an unwanted distraction in an important year for the sport and for the Wallabies team. But our clear message to all Rugby fans today is that we need to stand by our values and the qualities of inclusion, passion, integrity, discipline, respect and teamwork (Newman 2019).

clip_image006Peter Beattie, Australian Rugby League Commission chairman, told AAP Folau was ruled out of playing for rugby league again because

our position on Israel Folau remains the same…. We are an inclusive game with respect for all. Israel has social media posts online that go against what our game stands for (Zemek 2019).

One of RA’s major sponsors, Qantas, said of Folau’s Instagram post, ‘These comments are really disappointing and clearly don’t reflect the spirit of inclusion and diversity that we support’ (Decent 2019).

1. What is diversity Peter Beattie?

The Cambridge Dictionary (2019. s.v. diversity) defines diversity as:

(a) ‘the fact of many different types of things or people being included in something; a range of different things or people:

(b) ‘the fact that there are many different ideas or opinions about something’.

The Collins Dictionary (2019. s.v. diversity) gives similar meanings:

(c) ‘The diversity of something is the fact that it contains many very different elements’.

(d) ‘A diversity of things is a range of things which are very different from each other’.

Diversity does not mean acceptance of a range of things, except what we don’t like or consider unworthy of a sportsman or sportswoman. Diversity is diversity. clip_image008

No ifs, buts and exceptions.

Based on these definitions of ‘diversity’, Mr Beattie of ARL diversity includes different things, people, ideas, opinions, theologies and values. It includes the Christian values of Israel Folau. He should never be excluded if ‘diversity’ is one or ARL’s guiding principles – as you state it is.

To be consistent with ARU’s values, diversity means acceptance of Christian values, including Folau’s values, even though you might not like them. Would you allow him to make this personal post on Instragram without sacking him?

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(Image courtesy WikiIslam)

2. Ms Castle: What is ‘inclusion’?

Dictionary definitions are:

(a) ‘The act of including someone or something as part of a group, list, etc., or a person or thing that is included (Cambridge Dictionary 2019. s.v. inclusion).

(b) ‘The idea that everyone should be able to use the same facilities, take part in the same activities, and enjoy the same experiences, including people who have a disability or other disadvantage (Cambridge Dictionary 2019. s.v. inclusion).

(c) ‘Inclusion is the act of making a person or thing part of a group or collection’ (Collins Dictionary 2019. s.v. inclusion).

(d) ‘The act of including or the state of being included’ (Collins Dictionary 2019. s.v. inclusion).

Therefore, …

3. To exclude Folau’s pro-Christian view is censorship and exclusion.

It flies in the face of promoting a diversity and inclusion of views in RA and ARU. It is time for Rugby Australia and the Australian Rugby League to accept and promote genuine diversity that includes Folau’s Christian values.

This has nothing to do with whether you like what he stated or whether you find it offensive. Folau paraphrased Scripture (1 Corinthians 6:9-11) with his Instagram post.

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(Image courtesy The Roar)

This accurate meaning of diversity and inclusion includes athletes who speak their values into the public square, whether they are secular, atheistic, humanistic, Hindu, Buddhist, Muslim, Christian or Tao.

To be truly diverse, these two codes of sport need to realise that their current positions practise censorship of a player’s Christian values – and it must stop because it goes against the meaning of diversity and inclusion. Christianity is included in inclusion and is part of the incorporation of diversity.

The Samoa News reported:

A former Australian rugby international says anyone who believes Israel Folau has a right to publicly express his views on sexuality has no place in the sport….

But the former Wallaby and now journalist Peter FitzSimons said if other players are offended by the sanctions handed down to Folau and support his views their time in the sport may also be up.

“The answer to those Pacific Islanders is two-fold. Number One: We love you blokes. You’re terrific, you’re wonderful people and you are great rugby players,” he told Morning Report.

“Number Two: If you’re deeply offended and you’re on Israel’s side on this and you feel so strongly you’re going to leave we’ll miss you but Rugby Australia and the Australian rugby community are not going to have people wearing the Wallaby jersey that put up public posts that say that gays are going to burn in hell.

“The gays have had centuries of vilification – we’re not doing that anymore….[2]

4. It is hypocrisy

In my view, what is currently named and practised by ARU and RA as diversity and inclusion is falsely named. It is factually against true diversity and amounts to uniformity with the politically correct views within the sport. Genuine inclusion means ‘the act of including someone or something as part of a group, list, etc., or a person or thing that is included’ (Cambridge Dictionary 2020. s.v. inclusion).

Margaret Court - Wikipedia(Image Margaret Court 1970, courtesy Wikipedia)

 Therefore, to exclude Israel Folau for religious reasons, is not inclusion, but exclusion.

What has been done to Margaret Court is hypocritical as it has opposed and excluded her because of her views on the Christian position on homosexuality.

When will these sporting bodies agree with the truth that what they do in excluding Folau and Court amounts to discrimination of these two sports’ champions.

5.  Christians not acceptable in Australian sport

See other examples of vilification against her Christian views for Margaret Court in my articles:

6. Conclusion

The appeal to reject the intolerance of Israel Folau and Margaret Court falls flat because the folks who want tolerance and inclusiveness in sport actually practise intolerance and exclusiveness.

They have redefined tolerance and inclusiveness to agree with their politically correct views.

(This image of professional rugby league player for Fiji, Australian teams, and English teams, Kevin Naiquama. Courtesy NT Times.)

He is unashamedly Christian with this crucifixion tattooed across his back. He has John 3:16 on his chest. The back tattoo took 40 hours to complete. These Christian symbols have not been a cause of opposition by the rugby league community – to my knowledge. Why?

‘From the bottom is The Last Supper going into Jerusalem City, then finishing up the top with Jesus Crucifixion’ (West Tigers Forum).

Sport Confidential: Kevin Naiqama spent 40 hours getting back ...7. Works consulted

Decent, T 2019. Rugby Australia set to sack Israel Folau for anti-gay social media post. The Sydney Morning Herald (online), 11 April. Available at: https://www.smh.com.au/sport/rugby-union/rugby-australia-set-to-sack-israel-folau-for-anti-gay-social-media-post-20190411-p51dar.html (Accessed 14 June 2019).

Newman, B 2019. Israel Folau “considering options” after “landmark” decision to terminate his contract. Rugby.com.au International (online), 17 May. Available at: https://www.rugby.com.au/news/2019/05/17/folau-verdict-castle-hore (Accessed 14 June 2019).

Zemek, S 2019. ‘We are an inclusive game’: Chairman Peter Beattie slams the door on Israel Folau’s NRL plea. News.com.au (online), 5 June. Available at: https://www.news.com.au/sport/nrl/we-are-an-inclusive-game-chairman-peter-beattie-slams-the-door-on-israel-folaus-nrl-plea/news-story/047903812065e9d52b68baec328937b8 (Accessed 14 June 2019).

8.  Notes


[1] He is a non-Trinitarian, so promotes heresy. See my article: Israel Folau teaches false doctrine

[2] Samoa News 2019. Players who support Folau ‘have no place in Australian rugby’ (online), 5 August. Available at: https://www.samoanews.com/regional/players-who-support-folau-have-no-place-australian-rugby (Accessed 8 March 2020).

Copyright © 2020 Spencer D. Gear. This document last updated at Date: 16 May 2020.

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The Bible and Contraception

(image contraceptive pill courtesy Wikipedia)

By Spencer D Gear PhD

A Christian stated on a blog:

It’s impossible for the bible to address every issue that could come up in a person’s life.
I cannot, however, think of one that is not covered somehow by the 10 commandments … or the Great Commandments of Christ.
[1]

Another responded:

Contraception is the first one that comes to mind.
Is it right or wrong from a Christian perspective and why?
[2]

This is why it is important to have a solid Christian world view and be in a church that encourages Christians to have faith, thinking and reasoning about issues of today. See: Learn how to screw up your worldview.

1.  Faith, thinking and reasoning

The Bible supports all 3 of these issues:[3]

  • God states we are to reason (Isaiah 1:18).
  • We are required to be ready to share a defense with people (1 Peter 3:15).
  • It is right to show unbelievers our faith is reasonable and logical.
  • This challenge influenced my writing this article: When Christian thinking becomes fuzzy
  • ‘Without faith it is impossible to please God, because anyone who comes to him must believe that he exists and that he rewards those who earnestly seek him’ (Heb 11:6 NIV).

How does contraception fit into this world view? I reason that it is responsible to plan a family (& the number of children we have) that fits the income and expectations for this Christian family.

2.  Nothing in Bible forbids contraception

I have not found any Bible references that support or forbid contraception, so Christians should not add rules not in Scripture and make them universal rules.
However, I accept that some contraception does kill the unborn child through an early abortion:

Some forms of contraception, specifically the intrauterine device (IUD), Norplant, and certain low-dose oral contraceptives, often do not prevent conception but prevent implantation of an already fertilized ovum. The result is an early abortion, the killing of an already conceived individual. Tragically, many women are not told this by their physicians, and therefore do not make an informed choice about which contraceptive to use” (Randy Alcorn).?

I’m not surprised the Pope took that position as the anti-contraception view has been part of RC theology for a long time.

3.  Papal Encyclical Letter

The Encyclical Letter, Humanae Vitae of the Supreme Pontiff Paul VI states, in part,

Unlawful Birth Control Methods

14. Therefore We base Our words on the first principles of a human and Christian doctrine of marriage when We are obliged once more to declare that the direct interruption of the generative process already begun and, above all, all direct abortion, even for therapeutic reasons, are to be absolutely excluded as lawful means of regulating the number of children. Equally to be condemned, as the magisterium of the Church has affirmed on many occasions, is direct sterilization, whether of the man or of the woman, whether permanent or temporary.

Similarly excluded is any action which either before, at the moment of, or after sexual intercourse, is specifically intended to prevent procreation—whether as an end or as a means.[4]

While I don’t agree with the RC position, I commend that church leadership for its high regard for all of human life, from conception to natural death.

As for Genesis 38:8-10 (NIV), it deals with a specific Old Covenant situation and is not applicable to Gentiles (and Jews) under the New Covenant. These verses state:

Then Judah said to Onan, ‘Sleep with your brother’s wife and fulfil your duty to her as a brother-in-law to raise up offspring for your brother.’ But Onan knew that the child would not be his; so whenever he slept with his brother’s wife, he spilled his semen on the ground to avoid providing offspring for his brother. What he did was wicked in the LORD’s sight; so the LORD put him to death also.

4.  Conclusion

Intrauterine device

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Copper IUD (Paragard T 380A, courtesy Wikipedia)

There is nothing specifically stated in Scripture to affirm or deny contraception. The only exception is the use of a device that prevents implantation of an already fertilized ovum, e.g. an IUD.

5.  Notes


[1] wondering#54 2020. Stoned to death. Christianforums.net (online), 1 March. Available at: https://christianforums.net/Fellowship/index.php?threads/stoned-to-death.81713/page-3 (Accessed 1 March 2020).

[2] Ibid., Christ the King#54.

[3] Ibid., OzSpen#62.

[4] The Vatican 1968. Available at: http://www.vatican.va/content/paul-vi/en/encyclicals/documents/hf_p-vi_enc_25071968_humanae-vitae.html (Accessed 1 March 2020).

Copyright © 2020 Spencer D. Gear. This document last updated at Date: 01 March 2020.

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‘Inclusiveness’ that prostitutes the English language

Israel Folau.jpg

By Spencer D Gear PhD

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

Read the words of …

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

2. The meaning of ‘inclusive’

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

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

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

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

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

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

3. Inclusive means excluding Christianity

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

Grand Slam tennis champion of 1970, Margaret Smith (Court), is another example. For the male champion, Rod Laver, for the Australian Open tennis grand slam he was flown from the USA, where he now lives, to celebrate his 50th anniversary since his grand slam win.

What has happened to Margaret Court? She is a Pentecostal preacher in Perth who has made clear statements about God’s view of heterosexuality and opposition to homosexuality. The Newcastle Herald reported Court’s statements:

“I just said what the Bible said and I think a lot of people didn’t like it,” Court said.

“Really that’s all I was saying and you got blasted because of it and bullied because of it.

“In my heart, I have nothing against the person, we have them in our own church, but that’s how I think it was portrayed.

“I think I had broad shoulders in tennis and you can carry it through.

“I’d still say the same thing again today.

We need to be able to say what we think and believe.

“I think we really need to protect freedom of speech because that’s the start of something.

“We need to be able to say what we think and believe.

“It wasn’t that I was saying what I thought, I was saying it from what God thought in the Scriptures.”

Court admitted she stands up and speaks her mind for the next generation.

“I think a lot of people did (get upset) because I think they lead that lifestyle and that’s their choice,” she said (Greenway 2019).

margaret

(photo, Margaret Court, courtesy Victory Life International, Perth, WA)

Tennis Australia’s (TA) response was swift. It “respects Margaret’s unmatched tennis career and welcomes her to the Australian Open, particularly in this milestone anniversary year,” the TA statement read.

“As often stated, Tennis Australia does not agree with Margaret’s personal views, which have demeaned and hurt many in our community over a number of years. They do not align with our values of equality, diversity and inclusion.

“Our sport welcomes everyone, no matter what gender, ability, race, religion or sexuality, and we will continue to actively promote inclusion initiatives widely at all levels of the sport.

“In 2017 the Australian Open launched #Open4All, a major diversity and inclusion initiative, designed to showcase the many inclusive opportunities in tennis” (Matthey 2019).

This is a farcical statement. It states ‘we will continue to actively promote inclusion’, but what does it do with Margaret Court? It practises exclusion because TA does not support Margaret Court’s freedom to practise her Christian beliefs. When ‘inclusion’ incorporates ‘exclusion’ words have lost their meaning. See my article: Inclusiveness’ that prostitutes the English language.

Martin Luther King Jr said, ‘There is nothing more dangerous than sincere ignorance and conscientious stupidity’. I consider that TA’s support for inclusion while practising exclusion to be in the category of ‘sincere ignorance’. I wait for the day when TA wakes up to Margaret Court’s view of homosexuals:

“I love them, I have them in the church here [Victory Life Centre, Perth]. ” she said (Christmass 2019)

4. Conclusion

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

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

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

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

5. Works consulted

Christmass, P 2019. Margaret Court defends views on gay marriage amid renewed Tennis Australia drama. 7News (online), 7 November. Available at: https://7news.com.au/sport/tennis/i-have-nothing-against-homosexuals-margaret-court-defends-views-on-gay-marriage-c-545514 (Accessed 23 January 2020).

Greenway, B 2019. Aussie tennis legend Margaret Court stands her ground on same-sex marriage. Newcastle Herald, 2 January. Available at: https://www.newcastleherald.com.au/story/5834029/margaret-court-stands-her-ground-id-say-it-again/?cs=7597 (Accessed 23 January 2020).

Matthey, J 2019. Tennis Australia invites Margaret Court to Melbourne Park but distances itself from her views. News.com.au (online), 2 December. Available at: https://www.news.com.au/sport/tennis/tennis-australia-invites-margaret-court-to-melbourne-park-but-distances-itself-from-her-views/news-story/a1e119362cbecee6edc7f8eaa4c21585 (Accessed 23 January 2020).

Copyright © 2020 Spencer D. Gear. This document last updated at Date: 23 January 2020.

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