Category Archives: Ethics

Anglicans, Christmas, and the birth of God?

St Andrew's Cathedral c.1868.jpg

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

By Spencer D Gear PhD

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

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

Anglicans in Australia

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

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

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

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

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

What’s at the heart of the Anglican problem?

David Ould(photo David Ould from his website)

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

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

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

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

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

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

Evangelical Anglican: Christmas as the birth of God

Neapolitan presepe of Maiori (nativity scene courtesy Wikipedia)

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

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

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

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

Prophecy of Jesus’ birth

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

I have been warned not to be another Nestorius

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Conclusion

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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Compare the Ten Commandments with New Testament teaching[1]

Ten Commandments image | Public domain vectors

(image courtesy publicdomainvectors.com)

Prepared by Spencer D Gear PhD

The Ten Commandments:

The Old Covenant

New Testament Teaching:

The New Covenant

1. ‘You shall have no other gods before me’ (Ex 20:3) 1. ‘‘Of all the commandments, which is the most important?’ ‘The most important one,’ answered Jesus, ‘is this: “Hear, O Israel: the LORD our God, the LORD is one. Love the LORD your God with all your heart and with all your soul and with all your mind and with all your strength” (Mk 12:28b-30).
2. ‘You shall not make for yourself an image in the form of anything in heaven above or on the earth beneath or in the waters below. You shall not bow down to them or worship them’ (Ex 20:4-5). 2. ‘Dear children, keep yourselves from idols’ (1 John 5:21).
3. ‘You shall not misuse the name of the LORD your God, for the LORD will not hold anyone guiltless who misuses his name’ (Ex 20:7). 3. ‘But you have dishonoured the poor. Is it not the rich who are exploiting you? Are they not the ones who are dragging you into court? 7 Are they not the ones who are blaspheming the noble name of him to whom you belong?’ (James 2:6-7)
4. ‘Remember the Sabbath day by keeping it holy’ (Ex 20:8). 4. ‘On the first day of the week we came together to break bread. Paul spoke to the people and, because he intended to leave the next day, kept on talking until midnight’ (Acts 20:7).
5. ‘Honour your father and your mother, so that you may live long in the land the LORD your God is giving you’ (Ex 20:12). 5. ‘Honour your father and mother,’ and ‘love your neighbour as yourself’ (Matt 19:19).
6. ‘You shall not murder’ (Ex 20:13). 6. Jesus said, ‘You know the commandments: “You shall not murder, you shall not commit adultery, you shall not steal, you shall not give false testimony, you shall not defraud, honour your father and mother” (Mk 10:19).
7. ‘You shall not commit adultery’ (Ex 20:14). 7. See #6.
8. ‘You shall not steal’ (Ex 20:15). 8. See #6.
9. ‘You shall not give false testimony against your neighbour’ (Ex 20:16). 9. See #6.
10. ‘You shall not covet….’ (Ex 20:17). 10. ‘For you may be sure of this, that everyone who is sexually immoral or impure, or who is covetous (that is, an idolater), has no inheritance in the kingdom of Christ and God. Let no one deceive you with empty words, for because of these things the wrath of God comes upon the sons of disobedience’ (Eph 5:5-6 ESV).

Notes

[1] Unless otherwise stated, all Bible citations are from the New International Version.

Copyright © 2020 Spencer D. Gear. This document last updated at Date: 02 April 2020.Accent vector line separator. Zig zag lines dividerAccent vector line separator. Zig zag lines dividerAccent vector line separator. Zig zag lines dividerAccent vector line separator. Zig zag lines dividerAccent vector line separator. Zig zag lines dividerAccent vector line separator. Zig zag lines divider

An Australian way of death: voluntary assisted dying

(Photo courtesy of Wikipedia: Fritz Klein, the camp doctor, standing in a mass grave at Bergen-Belsen [northern Germany] after the camp’s liberation by the British 11th Armoured Division, April 1945)

By Spencer D Gear PhD

This article first appeared in On Line Opinion, 19 March 2020.

John is 65 and has been suffering from cancer for many years. The pain is too much. When he asks his doctor to put him to sleep permanently (kill him!), should the doctor agree? Jean has such severe dementia, lies in bed for much of the day and is in a vegetative state in an aged care facility. She doesn’t recognise me when I visit her.

In the twenty-first century, there is considerable public support for euthanasia to be legalised across Australia. There is a minority group of medical practitioners, Doctors for Voluntary Euthanasia Choice, that is supportive of euthanasia in certain circumstances.

The dangers of the majority view

According to The Guardian Australia Edition “a nationwide poll of 1,032 people conducted by Essential Research has found that 73% of Australians support voluntary assisted dying” (VAD).

If a majority of people agree with a position, does that make it right? An Appeal to Popularity is a logical fallacy that is difficult to notice because it sounds like common sense if the majority of people agree with it. The falsehood is that it doesn’t deal with the content of why VAD is right or wrong for a society or individual.

What is voluntary assisted dying?

Let’s get it clear what euthanasia (VAD) is. We are sometimes confused by the current debate because it seems some are talking about disconnecting life support systems. Others think we deny the patients’ rights to say, “This is enough. I want no extraordinary means to be used to keep me alive when all hope of physical life seems to be gone”.

We don’t need euthanasia for this. It is the common law right of all Australians to decide which treatments they want to have for themselves. We have legislation for an enduring power of attorney and an advanced health directive to cover these medical situations.

(image courtesy docotal)

Euthanasia is “the intentional killing of a person, for compassionate motives, whether the killing is by a direct action, such as a lethal injection, or by failing to perform an action necessary to maintain life. For euthanasia to occur there must be an intention to kill”.

Now, euthanasia promoters don’t use the word “kill”, but it is the only accurate word to describe the reality of what happens. Besides, it is the word that our current law uses. Retired anaesthetist and palliative care physician at Concord Hospital, Sydney, Dr Brian Pollard, stated, “Euthanasia is a form of homicide – even if legalised, it would be legalised homicide. Intention is central to the concept”.

Sad and distressing cases are put forth so that it is made to appear there is a vast amount of suffering for which nothing less than death is good enough. Yet, I am told that those who practise palliative care with the terminally ill encounter few requests for euthanasia by patients. Too often, the distressed relatives who often feel impotent, sense a lack of support, and may be encountering a financial burden, are the ones calling for euthanasia.

I do not reject euthanasia because of the results it is likely to cause.

When Luke Gormally, director of London’s Linacre Bio-Ethics Centre, was in Australia he warned that legalising euthanasia could lead to “killing the disabled and dependent for economic reasons”. He also warned that euthanasia would endorse youth suicide because of the “wholly negative message” it would send to youth.

What will stop Switzerland, Belgium, The Netherlands, Canada, certain USA states and Australia from getting to this example once the slippery slope has begun? The Atlantic (3 Sept 2014) reported this story:

In July 1939, Richard and Lina Kretschmar, two farm workers from eastern Germany, wrote to Adolf Hitler to ask for permission to kill their son.

Gerhard Kretschmar had been born five months earlier with one arm, one leg, and vision loss. The Kretschmars were loyal Nazis, and “The Monster,” as they referred to Gerhard, was considered both burdensome and incompatible with the pursuit of genetic perfection. Gerhard was killed a few days later at a hospital near his home, likely by lethal injection.

The Netherlands has become a dangerous country

We know that when we support VAD, it can go beyond the person’s choice. Holland is the most recent example for which we have clear evidence. That country has permitted VAD for some time, and has legalised it.

The Uniting Church in Australia’s consultation paper, “Voluntary Assisted Dying Queensland Synod 2019” stated: ‘In Belgium and the Netherlands, the criteria for voluntary assisted dying includes that someone be experiencing “unbearable suffering”‘. This paper detailed a very sad case of a person suffering from severe dementia.

Is that all that happens in the Netherlands with VAD?

The Netherlands’ medical doctor, Dr. Karel Gunning, on his 1992 visit to Australia said: “Holland has indeed become a very dangerous country, as patients may have their lives ended without their request and without knowledge of the authorities. The doctor thus has become a powerful man, able to decide on life or death”.

The New Scientist magazine (20 June 1992) confirmed this alarming situation in an article titled, The Dutch way of death.” It stated that:

… doctors and nurses in the Netherlands can practise euthanasia if they stick to certain guidelines. Yet many patients receive lethal injections without giving their consent.

In some hospitals, doctors routinely approach patients who are terminally ill, offering to inject them with lethal doses of barbiturates and curare. But Dutch euthanasia has its sinister side, too. Involuntary euthanasia of sick and elderly people is commonplace in the Netherlands, and that when patients do opt for euthanasia, it is frequently out of fear of being a nuisance rather than to avoid unnecessary physical suffering.

The details are alarming. At least a third of the 5000 or so Dutch patients who each year receive lethal doses of drugs from their doctors do not give their unequivocal consent. About 400 of these patients never even raise the issue of euthanasia with their doctors. Moreover, of those who willingly opt for euthanasia, only about 5 per cent do so solely because of unbearable pain.

The magazine concluded that “these revelations strike a blow at the two central canons of the worldwide euthanasia lobby: that euthanasia should be used only as a means to end pointless physical suffering, and that the patient alone should make the decision.”

As one Dutch doctor put it: “Everywhere doctors are terminating lives. The only difference in Holland is that here we talk about it.”

Is this the morality for Australia?

Even though it is clear from this Dutch example that it is impossible to control VAD, is this the right kind of morality Australia should follow? By looking to the end results, this is a system of ethics called utilitarianism. It simply means that a “good” result (for example, relieving pain of a cancer patient) justifies the means (killing the person–euthanasia). This is a dangerous view.

Two examples show us how bad this view of right and wrong can become. In Germany during World War 2, Hitler’s goal was to develop a more perfect race. A pretty good goal one could think? But his way to attain it was evil (killing six million Jews and millions of others).

President Richard Nixon’s goal was a noble one, national security. But the criminal activity of Watergate was not justified to reach it.

The popularity of this view of morality

( Photo courtesy Wikipedia: Hartheim Euthanasia Centre in Upper Austria is where over 18,000 people were killed in the Holocaust).

There are droves of Australians who support the VAD view of morality. We are in deep trouble if this nation follows such an ethical system. The end never justifies the means; the means must justify themselves. An act is not automatically good because it has a good goal.

How do we know what is good? We need a fixed standard of good by which to judge right and wrong, rather than a person’s opinion of what is good. This fixed standard for euthanasia needs to be: murder or assisted murder is always wrong. This is the morality of universal standards of the 10 commandments (the Judeo-Christian world view).

I have taken this lengthy look at why I do not support euthanasia, based on the end justifying the means, because it is a view of right and wrong that could lead to chaos in our lucky country. Those who support VAD and some of those who oppose euthanasia both follow this system of morality.

The Australian Medical Association’s position

In its position statement, “the AMA (Australian Medical Association) maintains that doctors should not be involved in interventions that have as their primary intention the ending of a person’s life.

“This does not include the discontinuation of treatments that are of no medical benefit to a dying patient. This is not euthanasia,” says AMA president Dr Michael Gannon.

The AMA has grave concerns about the VAD Bill now legislated by the Victorian Parliament. It opposed it.

Why I do not support VAD

As a Christian minister I reject VAD for these reasons:

1. The Guardian Australia Edition (2019) summarised one point: “As this generation [baby boomers] enters its final years, the precept that life is precious irrespective of one’s medical condition is being called into question as never before“.

Human beings are unique and special. God’s view is that we are not higher animals but made “in the image of God” (Genesis 1:27). If human beings are not special, we can do to them what a doctor advocated to me: “We put down dogs, why shouldn’t we offer the elderly in a vegetative state the same?”

Human life is sacred throughout life and in all circumstances, whether one is strong, independent and healthy or weak, dependent and handicapped.

When we reduce human beings to animals, it logically follows that a whole range of horrendous evils could eventuate. God has forbidden that any life be murdered. There is no need for a commandment that says, “You shall not commit euthanasia.” All deliberate, premeditated killing (abortion, infanticide, euthanasia, homicide–war raises some other issues) is covered by the one commandment, “You shall not murder” (Ex 20:13; Matt 5:21).

2. Secondly, we already know the consequences of a permissive approach to euthanasia. We have glaring examples before us of where permissive euthanasia laws will lead us. The Netherlands, Belgium and Canada are examples, but don’t forget what happened in Germany.

In Germany in 1920, there was a publication by a lawyer, Karl Binding, and a psychiatrist, Alfred Hoche, called The Permission to Destroy Life Not Worth Living, that opened the floodgates and led to open discussion and legislation to permit euthanasia in Germany in the 1920s and 1930s.

Initially, it was seen to have a beneficial social effect in dealing with the so-called “useless” sick.

Why did they do it? For the very same reasons that are being advocated today: compassion, quality of life, and to cut the cost of caring for these so-called “useless people”. They stressed the cost of caring for the handicapped, the disabled (retarded) and the mentally ill. They were called “useless eaters”.

(Photo courtesy Wikipedia: Soviet POWs in the Mauthausen concentration camp, Austria)

This led to experimentation on human beings and genocide. It was a small step from euthanasia to the Nazi killing fields of 6 million Jews, and it is estimated that about 6 million others also were killed.

3. It is a strange paradox that VAD is being strongly promoted at a time when the medical profession has made great advances in the treatment of pain. This is not the time to recommend assistance in the killing of the terminally ill or others.

According to Dr. Bob Allan, president of the ACT branch of the Australian Medical Association, “Modern palliative care ensured that patients should never have to consider euthanasia on the grounds of severe pain. Treatments are available to ensure death with dignity and without pain” happens (The Canberra Times, 3 February 1993, p. 5).

4. VAD degrades the medical profession and has harmful effects on the doctor/patient relationship. It violates the doctor’s pledge to not harm patients, according to The Hippocratic Oath (created by the Greek physician, Hippocrates, ca. 460), which in its common form is taken by many medical doctors upon graduation, dating back to the time of the Greeks, states:

I will follow that system of treatment which, according to my ability and judgment, I consider for the benefit of my patients, and abstain from whatever is harmful to them. I will give no deadly drug to anyone if asked, nor suggest any such counsel; and in like manner I will not give to a woman an abortive remedy. With purity and with holiness I will pass my life and practice my Art.

Some medical schools modify this oath.

5. There is a better alternative: promote life and become actively involved in compassionate care for the dying, people who have a disability and other sufferers in our society.

6. I reject euthanasia because I support the 10 commandments and believe it is always wrong to murder or assist with the murder of anybody. The foundation of Australian society has been built on this view.

I also reject euthanasia because it is an attack on the sovereignty of God. We must answer two fundamental questions: Who are human beings? Whose right is it to terminate human life? Jesus Christ said, “I have the keys of Death and Hades” (Revelation 1:18).

At the time of preparing this article, only 2 Australian states had legislated VAD. However, Queensland is considering following the Victorian legislation and is currently engaged in a round of forums and have made a call for submissions.

(Image courtesy Wikipedia: Euthanasia legislation status in Australian states and territories (as of 2020):  Voluntary euthanasia and physician-assisted suicide illegal red Voluntary euthanasia and/or physician-assisted suicide legal blue.)

Copyright © 2020 Spencer D. Gear. This document last updated at Date: 19 March 2020.

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Fitz Files Fail

 

Related image

[image of Margaret Court (nee Smith) courtesy Wikipedia] 

This article first appeared in On Line Opinion, 25 November 2019.

Fitz, your article against Margaret Court (The Sydney Morning Herald, 9 November 2019, Opinion piece) failed fundamental tests of fairness. These include: Your intensely unpleasant homophobic remarks.

When will you and your mass media colleagues ever get a handle on the meaning of ‘homophobic’?

The Lexico/Oxford Dictionary describes homophobic as, ‘having or showing a dislike of or prejudice against homosexual people’ (Lexico.com 2019. s.v. homophobic).

The Macquarie Dictionary relates homophobia to those who have a ‘fear of homosexuals, usually linked with hostility towards them’ (1997. s.v. homophobia).

Does Margaret Court fear or dislike homosexuals?

Fitz, why your hullabaloo about Margaret Court being homophobic? She rebutted your view in an interview with Vision Christian Radio (31 May 2017) when she stated: ‘I’ve got nothing against homosexual people as individuals. But my stand for my Christian beliefs is for marriage the Bible way’. 7News reported: ‘Margaret Court has said, I love them [homosexuals], I have them in the church‘.

Based on the dictionary definitions, Margaret Court is not homophobic. She presents God’s view of marriage between a man and a woman and not between two people of the same sex.

Jesus confirmed the Genesis teaching in Matthew 19:4-6. A man will leave his father and mother and be joined to his wife. It does not say he will be joined (sexually) with another male. Margaret Court is correct in affirming the biblical view of sexuality in marriage. She is not homophobic but a promoter of God’s view, heterosexuality.

Talks between Israel Folau and Rugby Australia on his compensation claim will resume on Wednesday.Another sports’ star accused of homophobia is Israel Folau, pictured here with his wife, Maria (photo courtesy Lakes Mail).

See ABC News, Brisbane, Qld, Israel Folau to be sacked by Rugby Australia over homophobic comments, 11 April 2019.

Fake news by Fitz

Infographic How to spot fake news published by the International Federation of Library Associations and Institutions (courtesy Wikipedia)

Again you presented fake news about Court’s beliefs. Fake news is ‘false, often sensational, information disseminated under the guise of news reporting’ (Collins Dictionary 2019. s.v. fake news).

You presented sensational false news about Court’s views when she stated ‘I love them (homosexuals)’. You created a homophobic, irrational understanding with your allegations against this former champion tennis player.

What was Margaret Court’s motive in her stand against homosexual marriage?

The Statement of Faith of Victory Life Centre, Perth, states: ‘That Marriage, according to Scripture is between a man and a woman; that man and woman are joined to become one flesh. God created man in His own image, male and female instructing them to be fruitful and multiply’ (Genesis 1:27-28; 2:24).

Accusation of Court’s double-standards

Margaret, remember a couple years ago you were ‘citing the Bible’ to proclaim the ‘only legitimate love is that between a man and a woman’. In doing this you asserted ‘those with a different sexuality to you are not your equal’.

These are your hypocrisies: You want the Bible to be your standard for marriage but you don’t use the Bible for your standard on teaching for women in ministry. I know this straight from the Bible you quote.

Fitz flunks the test

Here’s the real crunch for you Margaret: ‘Seeing as the Bible seems to be the only reference point you recognise … I feel I must cite St. Paul’s advice in 1 Timothy 2:12; Ephesians 5:22; and 1 Corinthians 11:3-10’.

Fitz, if you were a student in one of my (Spencer Gear’s) courses at Bible College and gave your expositions of these three passages as you have done here, you would fail the exam. You didn’t come up to the standard because you, an atheist,could not achieve …

  • Proper exegesis of the texts. You cherry picked verses, allegedly against female teachers, without exposition. FAIL !
  • Your citation of 1 Cor 11:3-10 includes both husband and wife who prophesy (vv 3-4). Prophecy cannot happen without words and you didn’t explain what headship means and how women can prophesy in the public gathering of the church. FAIL !
  • Eph 5:22-23, ‘For wives, this means submit to your husbands as to the Lord. For a husband is the head of his wife as Christ is the head of the church’. What on earth does that have to do with women in ministry? Again, it requires you to expound the meaning of headship. You didn’t. FAIL !
  • 1 Tim 2:12 has caused angst among Bible scholars for 2,000 years because of the unusual word for authority, authentein, used only this one time in the entire New Testament. It has the connotation ‘to domineer’ and in context probably reflects the role of women in promoting errors of the false teachers in Ephesus, where Timothy was located. You provided none of this information. FITZ FAILS !

Related imageElsewhere the Apostle Paul affirmed the ministry of teaching by men and women. See 1 Cor 14:26 and Colossians 3:16-17. There was none of this information in your article. Seems to me you deliberately set out to denigrate Margaret Court’s view of Scripture, her alleged hypocrisy in supporting heterosexual marriage while violating the Bible’s view of women as teachers.

Fitz forgot fundamentals

The Christian faith is built on every-member ministry. It was declared on the Day of Pentecost: ‘In the last days,’ God says, ‘I will pour out my Spirit upon all people. Your sons and daughters will prophesy. Your young men will see visions, and your old men will dream dreams. In those days I will pour out my Spirit even on my servants-men and women alike-and they will prophesy (Acts 2:17-18).

The same Apostle Paul who wrote the words in 1 Corinthians, Ephesians and Timothy also wrote Galatians 3:28, ‘There is no longer Jew or Gentile, slave or free, male and female. For you are all one in Christ Jesus’.

He also wrote: ‘The human body has many parts, but the many parts make up one whole body. So it is with the body of Christ’ (1 Cor 12:12).

Jesus’ death and resurrection broke down the former barriers for women.

Your deconstructionist, reader-response interpretation

Would you want me to read your article the way you interpret Margaret Court’s statements? She stated she loves homosexuals and has them in her church. Your assessment is that Margaret is ‘a homophobic zealot’. Margaret stated clearly what she meant. Fitz twisted this in true deconstructionist, reader-response style.

Deconstruction can be slippery to define but it briefly means that Fitz writes about Mrs Court but she doesn’t mean what we think she means in promoting heterosexuality. You went searching for other meanings as a deconstructionist as ‘other meanings are always there’. That’s not the way I read The Sydney Morning Herald or Manning Clark’s, The History of Australia.

(image courtesy The Public Domain)

Reader-response is a postmodern, deconstructionist approach to reading literature where meaning does not reside in the text. ‘Words in a text evoke images in readers’ minds and readers bring their experiences to this encounter. Because individuals have different life experiences, it is almost certain that no two readers or reading sessions will form the exact same interpretation of a text’.

You deconstructed Margaret’s meaning and imposed your interpretation as a reader on what she wrote.

Let me try this approach with your article:

At Tennis Australia (TA) we have no religious views whatsoever, and welcome everyone. That’s what TA would like to say but we have a commitment to equality that excludes fundamentalist Christians, as your statements demonstrate. Intense feelings arise in TA members towards you, Margaret Court. You have brought disrepute on TA with your bigotry towards the LGBTI+ community.

Fitz, would you approve of my promoting that view, based on your article? Of course not, but that’s what you’ve done with putting words into Margaret Court’s mouth about the LGBTI+ community not being equal with the straights and the way she ‘trashed the gays’. This is Fitz deconstructing Mrs Court with his reader-response interpretation.

Wake up, Fitz. You don’t know the Scriptures you prepared to promote PC, fake, reader-response news to disparage Margaret Court’s statements. Based on how you have ruined the reputation by fake news of Margaret Court, I can’t read your articles with confidence that you tell the truth.

I call upon you to promote the accurate meaning of homophobic. The Cambridge Dictionary defines it as ‘involving a fear or dislike of gay people’ (2019. s.v. homophobic).

Margaret Court, based on her own statements, does not fear or dislike gay people. She loves them and has them in her church, Victory Life Centre, Perth – so is not homophobic.

Telling The Truth Clipart Image(image courtesy clker.com)

 

Copyright © 2019 Spencer D. Gear. This document last updated at Date: 04 December 2019.

Is Natural Law unchangeable?

Image result for clipart Natural Law public domain

(image courtesy Clipart Library)

By Spencer D Gear PhD

How would you respond to this challenge?

Everyone on earth, in the civilized world, believes in the Natural Truth. A truth that is by its very nature accepted by everyone. The main reason for its acceptance is that it keeps the society in an orderly condition and avoids chaos.
I said in the civilized world because cannibals believe it is right to kill someone for their food; but they would still stop at killing each other for this purpose.
I believe some here, and I agree, are saying that today even the Natural Truth is being transgressed. Abortion, euthanasia are examples.
[1]

This person explained further:

I don’t know if I can say Christianity is the Truth because not everyone accepts it.
I CAN say that it is true. Why? Because no one else, Buddha, Krishna, etc. ever claimed to be God.

Also, there is the resurrection which I believe to be true because I trust the Apostles who said so.

Pilot asked Jesus “what is the truth”. Jesus did not reply because Pilot could not accept the truth, even though he was staring it in the face.

Pilot did not even accept the Natural Truth. Anyone who could crucify someone does not have the truth.

Whereas Jesus embodied the Truth. He was Natural Truth personified since HE wrote it![2]

1.  Who invented the Natural Law perspective?

The view that Natural Laws are immutable (unchangeable) was an argument against miracles that was popularised in the 1670s by Jewish pantheist, Benedict Spinoza.[3] As you may know, pantheism is the worldview that God is everything and everyone-everything is God.

Spinoza’s argument went like this:

  1. Miracles are violations of natural laws;
  2. Natural laws are immutable;
  3. It is impossible to violate immutable laws;
  4. So, miracles are impossible.

If we follow Spinoza’s philosophy/worldview, then natural laws cannot be overpowered and that puts an end to miracles.

The basic problem with Spinoza’s view of Natural Law is that it commits the begging the question fallacy or engages in circular reasoning. This fallacy includes the conclusion in its premises, directly or indirectly. It assumes the conclusion is true and places it in its presuppositions.

This is where Spinoza’s worldview needs to be exposed. His presupposition was that there is no theistic God who performs miracles because he was a pantheist and did not believe in the personal, theist Yahweh.

We know from the evidence of creation (whether one accepts it from Scripture or the Big Bang of science) that we have evidence of the greatest miracle of all in creation of the universe out of nothing. This example of the violation of Natural Law demonstrates that the Natural Law (miracle performed) is not immutable.

It has been put this way by Geisler & Turek:

We also know that natural laws are not immutable because they are descriptions of what happens, not prescriptions of what must happen. Natural laws don’t really cause anything, they only describe what regularly happens in nature. They describe the effects of the four known natural forces – gravitational, magnetism, and the strong and weak nuclear forces. Once you introduce intelligent beings into the picture, natural forces can be over powered. We know that those forces can be overpowered because we do so ourselves every day.
For example, when a baseball player catches a falling baseball, he is overpowering the force of gravity. We do the same whenever we fly planes or blast off into space. In such cases, gravity is not changed, it is simply overpowered. If finite beings like us can overpower natural forces, then certainly the infinite Being who created those forces can do so (Geisler & Turek 2004:204).?

After making this post online, the person dealing with Natural Law responded and stated she ‘was speaking to moral law’.[4]

2.  God does not change his mind.

The difference between Natural Law and moral laws is that universal moral laws are based on the nature of God and he is immutable. These verses affirm the unchanging nature of God:

  • Num 23:19 (NLT), ‘God is not a man, so he does not lie. He is not human, so he does not change his mind. Has he ever spoken and failed to act? Has he ever promised and not carried it through?’
  • Mal 3:6 (NLT), ‘I am the LORD, and I do not change. That is why you descendants of Jacob are not already destroyed’.
  • James 1:17 (NLT), ‘Whatever is good and perfect comes down to us from God our Father, who created all the lights in the heavens. He never changes or casts a shifting shadow’.

So whether under God’s revelations in the OT or NT, God is declared to be one who by essence/nature never changes.

3.  God is the standard of morality.

That standard is established in the moral laws contained in the Ten Commandments of Exodus 20 and the Sermon on the Mount (Matt 5-7). Because the moral laws are related to the nature and attributes of God, they cannot be changed. God can intervene in natural laws through instances such as miracles and providence[5], but he cannot change moral laws because they are based on his nature.

Thus, God’s moral laws are absolute and not relativistic.

My response to the person who clarified she was referring to the moral law was:[6]

Image result for clipart God morality(image courtesy 123RF.com)

Since you were speaking about moral law and not Natural Law, it is important to note that the Natural Law is not based on God’s attributes/nature and so Natural Law is changeable. God can penetrate it with miracles. NASA can violate Natural Law with its space crafts.

However, God can’t defy his moral laws as they are based on his nature. Murder, adultery, theft, lying and covetousness are wrong (e.g. Ex 20 ESV) because they are based on God’s nature. The introduction to the Ten Commandments in Ex 20:1-2 (NLT) is: ‘Then God gave the people all these instructions: “I am the Lord your God, who rescued you from the land of Egypt, the place of your slavery’. So God declares who he is, ‘the Lord your God’, before declaring the commandments for the Israelites to live by. God’s nature as the Lord God is what determines the content of his commands.

Yes, God can do anything (except sin) and is not limited, but that is based on God’s self-revelation in Scripture. Spinoza did not accept that view as a pantheist – even though he was a Jew and should have known better.

I agree that the moment we speak of God as a ‘person’ (as in the 3 persons of the Trinity), it is way too easy to presume we know the characteristics of a person, based on human understanding. However, the truth is that we need to allow God to define and describe his nature/person of himself. Here we search the Scriptures for accurate descriptions of God’s personhood.

4.  God’s law written on the human heart.

There’s a revealing Scripture in Rom 2:12-15 (NLT):

12 When the Gentiles sin, they will be destroyed, even though they never had God’s written law. And the Jews, who do have God’s law, will be judged by that law when they fail to obey it. 13 For merely listening to the law doesn’t make us right with God. It is obeying the law that makes us right in his sight. 14 Even Gentiles, who do not have God’s written law, show that they know his law when they instinctively obey it, even without having heard it. 15 They demonstrate that God’s law is written in their hearts, for their own conscience and thoughts either accuse them or tell them they are doing right.

No people will get off scot-free before God, even if they have not heard the Gospel of the saving grace of the Lord Jesus. This is because God has revealed in Scripture that God’s law is written in the hearts of all Gentiles and their consciences and thoughts will accuse them or confirm they are right before God.

5.  Conclusion

The Natural Law is a philosophical concept invented by Spinoza. It is not unchangeable (immutable) and authoritarian (prescriptive). Instead, natural laws describe what happens and do not prescribe what must happen. Natural laws cannot cause anything; they described what actually happens in nature.

God’s moral law that commands ethical standards is based on the nature of God and examples include the Ten Commandments and the Sermon on the Mount. The Jews depended on the OT Law for their standards while the Christian depends on the NT commands, Matt 5-7 being one example. Non-Jews (Gentiles) have the moral law of God in their hearts and their consciences or thoughts that condemn or clear them of guilt.

6.  Works consulted

Geisler, N L & Turek, F 2004. I Don’t Have Enough Faith to Be an Atheist. Wheaton, Illinois: Crossway Books.

7.  Notes

[1] Christian Forums.net 2016. Is the world really searching for truth? Wondering#191, 6 December. Available at: http://christianforums.net/Fellowship/index.php?threads/is-the-world-really-searching-for-truth.67081/page-10 (Accessed 10 December 2016).

[2] Ibid., Wondering#193.

[3] In ibid., OzSpen$256. I have received some helpful information on this view from Geisler & Turek (2004:203-204).

[4] Ibid., Wonder#258.

[5] ‘Providence, then, is the sovereign, divine superintendence of all things, guiding them toward their divinely predetermined end in a way that is consistent with their created nature, all to the glory and praise of God. This divine, sovereign, and benevolent control of all things by God is the underlying premise of everything that is taught in the Scriptures’ (Bible Study Tools 2016. s v Providence of God).

[6] Christian Forums.net 2016. Is the world really searching for truth? OzSpen#259.

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

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Can Labor change to religious values?

ALP logo 2017.svg

(Logo, Australian Labor Party – http://www.alp.org.au/, Public Domain, https://commons.wikimedia.org/w/index.php?curid=60934220 courtesy Wikipedia)

By Spencer Gear PhD

This article was first published as, Can a Labor leopard change its spots? On Line Opinion (19 September 2019).

Can the Labor Party win back voters lost at the last election through changes of policies? Or will religious people see it as a suck up for political gain and not for genuine religious commitment?

Before the 18 May 2019 election, the shadow treasurer and immovable Chris Bowen reiterated: ‘If you don’t like our policies, don’t vote for us’. Many took his advice and Labor lost the election.

After the election he backed off a bit, ‘I have noticed as I have been around during the election campaign and even in the days since … how often it has been raised with me that people of faith no longer feel that progressive politics cares about them,’ he told reporters in Sydney’. He got that one right.

1.  Considered changes

The defeat influenced Mark Butler, shadow minister for climate change & energy, to speak out, ‘Everything is up for review’. Everything? Really? Does that include Labor’s radical pro-Greens, left wing agenda on abortion, euthanasia and religious freedom?

Labor frontbencher and communications’ spokesperson, Michelle Rowland, stated: ‘I don’t think it’s lost on anyone that there was clearly an issue with Labor and people of faith at the last election.’ She added: ‘There is a sense that we didn’t get it right’ – about religious views.

2.  ALP policies and people of faith

In my understanding of a Christian world and life view – informed by Scripture – Labor needs radical changes in these values but I can’t see it happening because the libertarian left-wing seems to dominate policy content. The issues surround …

(a) Abortion;

(b) Voluntary, assisted dying; i.e. voluntary, active euthanasia,

(c) Freedom of religion, and

(d) LGBTIQ ‘equality’, including homosexual marriage.

3.  Clash with Labor’s policies

How is it possible for these Labor policies to be accommodated with religious views when they are so opposed to some religious views? These Labor policies include:

(a) Improve access to affordable, legal ‘surgical and medical terminations across Australia, including decriminalisation in all States and Territories and the provision of abortion in public hospitals’ (ALP National Platform, No. 102),

Image result for image of Nembutal public domain(image courtesy OAK, public domain)

(b) ‘People must have dignity and choice at the end of life … not only in terms of where they wish to die, but when to die’ (No. 42).

(c) ‘Labor believes no faith, no religion, no set of beliefs should ever be used as an instrument of division or exclusion, and condemning anyone, discriminating against anyone, vilifying anyone is a violation of the values we all share’ (No. 239).

This is where Labor went in her antagonism to religious freedom. Senator Penny Wong, leader of the Opposition in the Senate, in 2018 introduced a Private Senator’s Bill to try to restrict power of ‘religious schools to discriminate against same sex attracted students’.

(d) ‘Labor is proud to have led the fight for marriage equality’, thus making it ‘a reality for LGBTIQ Australians on 9 December 2017. Labor welcomes and celebrates the achievement’ (No. 240).

Is Labor whistling in the political wind if it promotes those four policies and yet expects religious people to become members and vote for them? Let’s check out how religious values can be at odds with Labor’s pushing a progressive and libertine agenda.

4.  Religious values clash with ALP policies

(a) The Roman Catholic Church’s position is: ‘I confirm that the direct and voluntary killing of an innocent human being is always gravely immoral’, Pope John Paul II, Evangelium Vitae, 1995. Here he referred to abortion, euthanasia and the destruction of human embryos in medical research. The Vatican opposes (a) in the Labor Platform.

Cherish Life Australia, The Australian Christian Lobby, Family Voice Australia, Sydney Diocese of the Anglican Church, and other Christian denominations oppose abortion and euthanasia.

Crows[1] and flying foxes (bats)[2] are protected but not unborn babies and the elderly.

(b) Whose right is it to murder any person from conception to the end of natural life?

For Bible-believing Christians, it is not a government’s responsibility to murder unborn children, the aged, or the terminally ill.

“You [Lord God] made all the delicate, inner parts of my body
and knit me together in my mother’s womb.
Thank you for making me so wonderfully complex!
Your workmanship is marvelous—how well I know it.
You watched me as I was being formed in utter seclusion,
as I was woven together in the dark of the womb (Psalm 139:13-16).

A human being, made in God’s image (Genesis 1:27; James 3:9) is one who is defined by pronouns such as ‘my’, ‘me’, and ‘I’, as references to a person in the womb – a person murdered in an abortion.

Unborn babies are called ‘children,’ the same word used of infants and young children (Luke 1:41, 44; 2:12, 16; Exodus 21:22), and sometimes even of adults (1 Kings 3:17).

The most startling affirmation of the sanctity of prenatal life is the incarnation of Jesus Christ. His personal history on earth began, not when he was ‘born of the Virgin Mary’, but when he was ‘conceived by the Holy Spirit’ (see Matt.1:18, 20).

The beginning of life is confirmed by the medical profession. Dr Micheline Matthews-Roth, research associate of Harvard University Medical School affirmed ‘it is scientifically correct to say that an individual human life begins at conception’.

As for shortening an adult’s life through euthanasia or assisted suicide, whose right is it to do that? The biblical position is:

Image result for clipart small globe  Creator God is the source of life (Acts 17:28) and death (‘The Lord gives, and the Lord takes away. Praise the name of the Lord’ – Job 1:20-21).

Image result for clipart small globe  ‘Although it may sometimes appear to be an act of compassion, killing is never a means of caring’. ‘Don’t be interested only in your own life, but care about the lives of others too’ (Phil 2:4). Instead of killing the elderly and unwell, the Christian responsibility is to care for them. Promotion of increased resources for palliative care should be the replacement for euthanasia.

No matter how many emotional examples are given about suffering at the end of life, whose right is it to choose the end of life? It belongs to God.

(c) Attack on values of religious organisations, including churches, social welfare organisations, free speech, hospitals and schools played a part in the 2019 election.

white ruled notebook on blue denim textile(image courtesy Rachel Lynette French)

After the election, commentator Miranda Divine told The Catholic Weekly (20 May 2019) that those dubbed by Morrison as the ‘quiet Australians’ were a key factor in the outcome.

Religious Australians were ‘sick of being derided’ by Shorten, Plibersek and Wong who treated them as ‘morally inferior’ since they weren’t in favour of a radical social and socialist agenda.

She continued: ‘Playing in the background was the Israel Folau saga, which Shorten gratuitously dragged into the campaign as a weapon against Morrison, trying to portray his devout Christianity as bigotry’.

Divine demonstrated how the booth by booth swings in Western Sydney told the story of the faith vote.

The Australian Christian Lobby’s managing director Martyn Iles confirmed a clear mandate was given to Morrison to legislate for religious freedom and to resist radical social policies. He contended that this result in key marginal electorates was partly on account of Labor’s policies which undermine religious freedom, parents’ rights, and pushed a radical social agenda out of step with mainstream Australian values’.

(d) Christianity’s and Islam’s views on sexuality are radically different to Labor’s.

· There is no need for Jesus to state, ‘You shall not commit homosexual acts’ as he promoted the biblical norm of heterosexuality: ‘That’s why a man will leave his father and mother and be joined to his wife. The two will become one’ (Matthew 19:5). The New Testament further emphasises the ‘shameful desires’ of lesbian and male homosexual acts that prevent a person from entering the kingdom of God (Rom 1:26-27; 1 Cor 6:9-11), a la Israel Folau. There was jubilation in Parliament in 2017 with the passing of the same-sex marriage Bill but that’s not the way it was in the courts of heaven.

  • The verses cited above also include the sexually immoral and adulterers who will not inherit God’s kingdom.
  • The Muslim condemnation of homosexuality is based on the ‘story of Lot (prophet Lut) and his family and the destruction of Sodom and Gomorrah is mentioned in the Qur’an, verses 7:80, 11:77, 15:59, 21:71, 26:161, 27:55, 29:26, 37:133, and 54:33’.

That’s the biblical view but not that of liberal churches such as Gosford NSW Anglican.

5.  Labor’s wishful thinking

Labor recognised the problem with people of faith. It can claim ‘everything is up for review’ but with the evidence above, I can’t see that happening because of the ingrained left-wing, anti-biblical agenda on social issues.

Then add the hard-line, pro-abortion women in politics of Emily’s List – mainly in the Labor Party.

Australian Catholic University academic, Kevin Donnelly, said he believed Labor and the Greens ‘were in denial that they lost votes over religious freedom and parent’s rights in education’. Morrison was seen as a rational person and ‘the vast majority of people who are not politically-correct and ideologically-driven’ saw his statements on ‘issues such as the environment and sexuality’. Thirty percent of parents have their children in private education.

According to the 2016 National Church Life Survey, ‘41 per cent of church-attending Christians voted for the Liberal-National Party, and 24 per cent voted for Labor’.

If Labor wants to re-engage with the religious, it won’t happen through fake communication to gain political points. Where are the genuine Christians, Muslims and Hindus within Labor?

Patrick Parkinson noted that John Black, a former Labor senator and demographer, stated that ‘Queensland has a substantial number of religiously active voters across numerous marginal constituencies. Black notes that of the top 25 seats ranked for those active in religion, 15 are in Queensland’.

So, there are enough religiously active voters to tip an election towards parties that have policies that genuinely reflect the religious view of the electorates. Labor in 2019 did not satisfy those criteria.

I’ll believe Labor is serious about promoting religious values when I see more people like The Honourable Shayne Neumann MP (Labor Federal Member for Blair, Qld), an active member of a Baptist Church, promoted in ALP ranks. I’m yet to be convinced their values synchronise with a biblical world view.

Christians such as firebrand Senator Amanda Stoker (Queensland) and Qld MP, the Honourable Fiona Simpson MP, have been endorsed by the LNP.

6.  Notes

[1] See: http://www.brisbane.qld.gov.au/clean-and-green/natural-environment-and-water/biodiversity-in-brisbane/wildlife-in-brisbane/living-with-wildlife/torresian-crow (Accessed 12 September 2019).

[2] ‘It is important to remember that state governments, irrespective of national listing status, consider all species of flying-fox to be protected native species’. Available at: https://www.environment.gov.au/biodiversity/threatened/species/flying-fox-law (Accessed 12 September 2019).

Copyright © 2019 Spencer D. Gear. This document last updated at Date: 13 September 2019

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Thou shalt not kill / murder

Breaking the sixth commandment

By Spencer D Gear PhD

How should Christians respond to terminal illness, suffering and euthanasia? How should a government respond to a request for euthanasia with this kind of facial disease?

Should this heart-breaking story be enough to push a society over the edge to legalise euthanasia and assisted suicide? Are emotional, heartbreaking stories like this one enough to convince politicians it’s time to stop the pain and approve the killing of such a person – with her informed consent?

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(image courtesy El Mundo)                                          (image courtesy The Deep Portal)

Chantal Sébire was a French schoolteacher who developed a rare form of cancer which severely disfigured her eye-sockets and face. She also lost her senses of sight, taste and smell’. She died in 2008 from a drug overdose when the French government would not grant her the right to euthanasia’ (courtesy Ranker).

Image result for photo Kerry Robertson euthanasia Victoria(Photo: Jacqui Hicks, left, and Nicole Robertson, right, were with mum Kerry Robertson when she died. (Go Gentle Australia), ABC News, Brisbane Qld)

On 19 June, 2019 in the Australian State of Victoria voluntary assisted dying was legalised. The first person euthanised (killed) under this legislation was Kerry Robertson, aged 61, who had lived with cancer for about 10 years. She died, surrounded by family, in a Bendigo nursing home on 15 July 2019.

1. Rejecting euthanasia

Martyn Iles was the new managing director of the Australian Christian Lobby (ACL), as of 2018. I received an emailer from ACL that included Martyn’s brief, but exceptional article, Dr David Goodall, euthanasia, and suffering‘.

It contains the line, ‘If we rip off the band-aid that says, “thou shalt not kill” in such circumstances, we are asking for a myriad of troubles’.

2. Does it mean, ‘Thou shalt not kill’?

I encourage Martyn and other writers for ACL not to use this erroneous KJV translation, ‘Thou shalt not kill’. The correct translation from the Hebrew (Ex 20:13) and Greek (Matt 19:18) is: ‘You shall not murder’. These various translations correct the meaning of Thou shalt not kill” (LXX ou phoneuseis)   and ‘You shall not murder’ (Hebrew lo tir?a?) for Exodus 20:13.

The better translation of Ex 20:13 is found in these translations:

  • NKJV: You shall not murder.
  • ESV: You shall not murder. The footnote for ‘murder’ states, ‘The Hebrew word also covers causing human death through carelessness or negligence’.
  • NRSV: You shall not murder. The footnote is, ‘or kill’.
  • NIV: You shall not murder.
  • NLT: You must not murder.

If it means ‘you shall not kill’, God contradicted himself many times in the OT. A couple examples are:

Joshua 6 describes the destruction of Jericho (the Canaanites) at God’s command. Why would God authorise such murder? Norman Geisler explained:

Israel was commanded by God to completely exterminate the Canaanite inhabitants of the land including men, women, and children. This has been called a primitive and barbaric act of murder perpetrated on innocent lives.

Several factors must be kept in mind in viewing this situation.

(1) There is a difference between murder and justifiable killing. Murder involves intentional and malicious hatred which leads to life-taking. On the other hand, the Bible speaks of permissible life-taking in capital punishment (Gen. 9:6), in self defense (Exod. 22:2), and in a justifiable war (Gen. 14).

(2) The Canaanites were by no means innocent. They were a people cursed of God from their very beginning (Gen. 9:25). They were a vile people who practiced the basest forms of immorality. God described their sin vividly in these words, “I punished its iniquity, and the land vomited out its inhabitants” (Lev. 18:25).

(3) Further, the innocent people of the land were not slaughtered. The story of Sodom and Gomorrah clearly demonstrates that God would save a whole city for ten righteous people (Gen. 18:22f.). In that incident, when God could not find ten righteous people, He took the four or five righteous ones out of the place so as not to destroy them with the wicked (Gen. 19:15). On another occasion God saved some thirty-two thousand people who were morally pure (Num. 31:35). Another notable example is Rahab, whom God saved because she believed (cf. Heb. 11:31).

(4) God waited patiently for hundreds of years, giving the wicked inhabitants of Canaan time to repent (cf. 2 Peter 3:9) before He finally decided to destroy them (Gen. 15:16). When their iniquity was “full,” divine judgment fell. God’s judgment was akin to surgery for cancer or amputation of a leg as the only way to save the rest of a sick body. Just as cancer or gangrene contaminates the physical body, those elements in a society—if their evil is left to fester—will completely contaminate the rest of society.

(5) Finally, the battle confronting Israel was not simply a religious war; it was a theocratic war. Israel was directly ruled by God and the extermination was God’s direct command (cf. Exod. 23:27-30; Deut. 7:3-6; Josh. 8:24-26). No other nation either before or after Israel has been a theocracy. Thus, those commands were unique. Israel as a theocracy was an instrument of judgment in the hands of God. (Norman L. Geisler, A Popular Survey of the Old Testament, Baker Book House, Grand Rapids, 1977, pp. 99-100, in ‘How could a loving God tell the Israelites to kill their enemies, even children?’)

Jesus confirmed this commandment, ‘You know the commandments: xDo not murder….’ (Mark 10:19).

God authorised the murder / killing of many people according to the OT and he authorised the command not to murder in the NT.

2.1 Mistranslation of ‘kill’

The mistranslation of the word as ‘kill’ includes these translations: Wycliffe Bible (1395), Tyndale (1536), the Bishop’s Bible (1568),  the Geneva Bible (1599), Douay-Rheims (1610), KJV (1611), ASV, RSV,  NAB, and NJB.

The translations that correctly render the word as ‘murder’ include: NRSV, NKJV, NLT, NIV, NIRV, NASB, NABRE, LEB, ISV, HCSB, GNB, ESV, Complete Jewish Bible, YLT, and REB.

Why is ‘kill’ a mistranslation? The Hebrew uses the word, rasah, which is a specific word for murder in the 6th commandment. This does not prohibit capital punishment, but is in harmony with Gen 9:6.  Rasah is not a general word for ‘kill’ as we have in English.
The next chapter of Exodus gives and example that demonstrates Ex 20:13 does not refer to general killing: ‘Anyone who strikes a person with a fatal blow is to be put to death’ (Ex 21:12 NIV).

We need to remember that God is not against killing: ‘… without the shedding of blood there is no forgiveness’ (Heb 9:22 NIV).

As Professor Berel Lang of Trinity College in Hartford, Connecticut (USA) has noted:

“The original Hebrew, lo tirtsah., is very clear, since the verb ratsah. means ‘murder,’ not ‘kill.’ If the commandment proscribed killing as such, it would position Judaism against capital punishment and make it pacifist even in wartime. These may be defensible or admirable views, but they’re certainly not biblical” (cited in Andrew Holt PhD).

3. Conclusion

There would be a substantial contradiction created by God if his command was, ‘You shall not kill’, as God Himself ordered the killing of many people, Israelites and Gentiles in the OT. He also ordered the killing of Jesus on the cross (Matt 27:46; John 3:16; 2 Cor 5:21).

The exegesis of Ex 20:13 and Matt 19:18 demonstrates that the correct translation is, ‘You shall not murder’ and not ‘you shall not kill’.

Both medical science and Scripture confirm that the life of a human being begins at conception/implantation. See my articles:

clip_image004 Abortion and Life: A Christian Perspective

clip_image004[1]Exodus 21:22-23 and abortion

clip_image004[2]    The Church Fathers on Abortion

clip_image004[3]When an abortion goes horribly wrong

Therefore, I conclude that abortion, euthanasia and assisted suicide involve the murder of a human being and should be criminal offences.

Copyright © 2019 Spencer D. Gear. This document last updated at Date: 10 August 2019.

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Journalist is out of biblical depth

 

By Spencer D Gear PhD

 

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(photo Israel Folau courtesy The South African)

 

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

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

How does this statement line up with biblical content?

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

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

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

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

 

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

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Australia is in deep trouble: Droughts, floods and fires

By Spencer D Gear PhD

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

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

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(photo courtesy WordPress at The University of Melbourne)

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

2. Pointing towards a solution: Australian disasters

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

3. Connection between spiritual condition of the nation and disasters

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(image courtesy Pinterest)

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

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

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

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

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

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(image courtesy Askideas.com)

The Australian Constitution of 1900 begins:

WHEREAS the people of New South Wales, Victoria, South Australia, Queensland, and Tasmania, humbly relying on the blessing of Almighty God, have agreed to unite in one indissoluble Federal Commonwealth under the Crown of the United Kingdom of Great Britain and Ireland, and under the Constitution hereby established.[3]

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

5. The path Australia treads to ruin

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(image courtesy www.afain.net)

6.  Notes


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

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

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

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

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

By Spencer D Gear PhD

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

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

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

ABC Rural reported again:

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

1. Desperate help for farmers

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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(Courtesy ABC News: Rural)[8]

This is how it looked in flood in 2010:

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

2. One sheep farmer made a priceless observation

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

ABC News: Rural reported this in an interview:

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

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

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(Photo courtesy ABC News: Rural 2018)

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

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

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

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(Photo courtesy ABC News: Rural 2018)

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

One drought-stricken farmer said,

‘I’m sick of this damn drought’

(ABC News: Rural 2018).

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

5.  Notes


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

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

[3] Ibid.

[4] The original said, ‘Tuesday’.

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

[13] ABC News: Rural (2018).

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

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