Commercial celebrations contaminate Christmas

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

By Spencer Gear PhD

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

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

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

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

1.   Paddling in the Christmas shallows

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

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

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

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

2.  The Santa sham

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

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

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

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

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

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

3.  The contaminating myths

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

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

4.  How are myths created?

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

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

5.  Jesus’ birth as truth or fiction

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

7.  Embarrassment

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

8.  That questionable census

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

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

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

This historical information has some protagonists up in arms:

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

9.  Manipulation of evidence

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

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

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

10.  Conclusion

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Language police take aim:[1] English grammar takes a nose dive in importance

By Spencer D Gear PhD

Image result for image Grammar Police public domain

(image courtesy Pinterest)

Does this language grate on your sensitivities? Is there any sense that ‘something is wrong’ with this grammar in the following examples from everyday reading?

  • ‘Radio shock jock Steve Price has revealed an intense rivalry between he and on-air rival John Laws almost ended in fisticuffs’.
  • ‘Queensland residents draws to the attention of the House….’
  • ‘… heckler Mr S. has levelled a complaint against my pastor Campbell Markham and I through the Anti-Discrimination Commissioner here in Hobart …’

clip_image004(photo above courtesy Givelda State School)

Were you taught English grammar when you were at English-speaking primary and secondary schools? I was, when I attended Australian schools: Givelda State School, Qld, and Bundaberg State High School, Qld.

At the time I attended Givelda, it was a one-room school with about 6 classes in the room. I’m grateful for my primary teachers who taught me the basics of English grammar.

Their names were Mr Eric Shaw and Mr William Robert David Spall. Mr Shaw was my first teacher.

However, that was back in the 1950s in the Queensland state school system.

The following are some examples of how English grammar is violated in general writings. I did not go searching for these grammatical errors but they were uncovered during my regular reading of everything from books, magazines, newspapers, blogs, and even a government document.

For definitions and examples of correct English grammar, I will refer to[2], Grammar and Oxford Living Dictionaries:[3], Grammar A-Z,[4] unless otherwise indicated.

clip_image006(image courtesy The Articulate CEO – Typepad)

Let’s get started with the types of grammatical errors that I have found in many types of writings in the last year or so.

A. Errors with use of prepositions

There are a couple uses of the preposition that are grammatical errors. The first is:

A.1 Objective case governs the preposition

The grammatical rule is: ‘The object of a preposition is the noun or pronoun governed by a preposition…. The noun or pronoun governed by a preposition is always in the objective case. In English, this only affects pronouns ( n.d. s.v. prepositions).[5]

What does ‘governed’ mean in this explanation? Another explanation is: ‘A preposition isn’t a preposition unless it goes with a related noun or pronoun, called the object of the preposition’ ( 2018. s.v. prepositions).[6]

So for nouns and pronouns to be governed by a preposition, the nouns and pronouns are related in some way to the preposition used. Here are some examples:

Prepositions are words or a set of words that indicate ‘location (in, near, beside, on top of) or some other relationship between a noun or pronoun and other parts of the sentence (about, after, besides, instead of, in accordance with)’.[7]

Grammar Monster explained:

A preposition is a word (usually a short word) that shows the relationship between two other nearby words. For example (prepositions highlighted):

· a boy from the ghetto

(Here, the preposition from tells us the relationship between ghetto and boy.)

· a bone for the dog

(Here, the preposition for tells us the relationship between dog and bone.)

The following are all examples of prepositions: in, on, at, around, above, near, underneath, alongside, of, and for.
Note: The word preposition means positioned before. A preposition will sit before a word (a noun or a pronoun) to show that word’s relationship to another nearby word.[8]

‘The objective case is used for nouns and pronouns which function as objects of a sentence. What is an object? ‘An object is a noun (or pronoun) that is governed by a verb or a preposition’ (Grammar Monster 2018. s.v. What is an object? With examples).[9]

There are three types of object: a direct object, an indirect object, and an object of a preposition’ ( What is the objective case (with examples)?’[10]

Direct object: ‘The direct object of a verb is the thing being acted upon (i.e., the receiver of the action). You can find the direct object by finding the verb and asking “what?” or “whom?” For example:

  • Please pass the butter.

(Q: pass what? A: the butter)

Indirect object: ‘The indirect object is the recipient of the direct object. You can find the indirect object by finding the direct object (see above) and then asking who or what received it. In the examples below, the indirect objects are shaded, and the direct objects are in bold.

  • Please pass Simon the butter.

(Q: pass what? A: the butter)
(Q: Who (or what) received the butter? A: Simon)

Object of a preposition: ‘The noun or pronoun after a preposition is known as the object of a preposition. In the examples below, the objects of prepositions are shaded, and prepositions are in bold.

  • She lives near Brighton.
  • She lives with him.
  • You can tell a lot about a fellow’s character by his way of eating jellybeans. (Ronald Reagan, 1911-2004).’[11]

In English, the objective case only affects changes in personal pronouns (e.g., I, he, she, we, they). For example, he becomes him, and they becomes them. ‘Some verbs have an object as well as a subject. The object is the person or thing affected by the verb’ (Oxford Living Dictionaries 2018. Subjects and objects).

Here is a list of subjective pronouns and objective pronouns:[12]

Subjective Pronoun Objective Pronoun Comment
I me
you you No change
he him
she her
it it No change
we us
they them
who whom More on who & whom
whoever whomever

The following bold sections are violations of this rule:

1. I was reading the article, ‘Contend earnestly for the faith’, by Greg Koukl at when he stated, ‘Here’s why those three elements of Jude’s admonition [Jude 1:3] are critical for you and I right now’ (Koukl 2013).

The object of the preposition ‘for’ is in the objective case, so it should read, ‘For you and me’.

What is the objective case? (see §2 below)

designBlue-sma Rewritten: ‘…are critical for you and me right now’

As an aside, the content of this article by Greg Koukl is excellent for those who want reasons to defend the Christian faith.

Prepositions Link Clip Art

(Image courtesy Clker)

2. ‘Radio shock jock Steve Price has revealed an intense rivalry between he and on-air rival John Laws almost ended in fisticuffs’.[13]

Rewritten: The correct grammar should be ‘between him and on-air rival John Laws’. It would be more courteous to put the other person first, ‘between on-air rival, John Laws, and him’.

3. I made the same error myself when writing an email to my son on 2 August 2017. I wrote to a real estate agent: “Would it be possible for my son and I to see through the villa … at noon tomorrow?’

I’m ashamed of myself, a language policeman, for violating this fundamental.

designBlue-sma Rewritten: ‘for my son and me’.

4. ‘This last two weeks have been quite a challenge for both my church and I. My regular heckler Mr S. has levelled a complaint against my pastor Campbell Markham and I through the Anti-Discrimination Commissioner here in Hobart’ (Cornerstone Church 2017).

The objective case after the preposition ‘against’ should read, ‘against my pastor Campbell Markham and me’.

designBlue-sma Rewritten:for both my church and me … against my pastor Campbell Markham and me’.

There is a second prepositional error committed by many, especially in general conversation.

5. Australia’s new Prime Minister, Scott Morrison, spoke at the Menzies Research Centre, Albury NSW (6 September 2018). He began: ‘Thank you very much Sussan for the very warm welcome to Jenny and I, and to my senior colleagues here particularly my Deputy Leader here, Josh Frydenberg and I, the “ScoJo” team’ (Morrison 2018).

designBlue-smaRewritten:to Jenny and me’ and ‘to … Josh Frydenberg and me’.

A.2 Should a preposition be located at the end of a sentence?

I’ve heard and seen some school teachers almost have grammatical hysterics when a person or student ends a sentence with a presupposition. Do they have good reasons to object as grammar teachers?

In Latin grammar, the rule is that a preposition should always precede the prepositional object that it is linked with: it is never placed after it. According to a number of other authorities, it was the dramatist John Dryden in 1672 who was the first person to criticize a piece of English writing (by Ben Jonson) for placing a preposition at the end of a clause instead of before the noun or pronoun to which it was linked.

This prohibition was taken up by grammarians and teachers in the next two centuries and became very tenacious. English is not Latin, however, and contemporary authorities do not try to shoehorn it into the Latin model.  Nevertheless, many people are still taught that ending a sentence or clause with a preposition should be avoided.[14]

A general rule in English grammar used to be that a sentence must not end with a preposition. One person went so far as to write: ‘Did You Know? The rule that a sentence cannot end with a preposition is regarded as one of the biggest grammar myths of all time’ (Penlighten 2018).

clip_image010image courtesy

However, Oxford Living Dictionaries (2018. s.v. preposition) disagree:

There is a traditional view, first set forth by the 17th-century poet and dramatist John Dryden, that it is incorrect to put a preposition at the end of a sentence, as in where do you come from? or she’s not a writer I’ve ever come across. The rule was formulated on the basis that, since in Latin a preposition cannot come after the word it governs or is linked with, the same should be true of English. The problem is that English is not like Latin in this respect, and in many cases (particularly in questions and with phrasal verbs) the attempt to move the preposition produces awkward, unnatural-sounding results. Winston Churchill famously objected to the rule, saying, ‘This is the sort of English up with which I will not put.’ In standard English the placing of a preposition at the end of a sentence is widely accepted, provided the use sounds natural and the meaning is clear.

So the preposition to conclude the sentence is widely accepted, provided the use sounds natural and the meaning is clear’. That is a very subjective way to determine grammatical meaning, with which I do not agree. It is too influenced by personal opinion.

There are other grammatical sources that agree with the Oxford explanation:

At one time, schoolchildren were taught that a sentence should never end with a preposition. However, this is a rule from Latin grammar that was applied to English. While many aspects of Latin have made their way into the English language, this particular grammar rule is not suited for modern English usage.

There are times when trying to avoid ending a sentence with a preposition creates unnecessary and awkward phrasing. For example, Winston Churchill once allegedly exclaimed, “That is the sort of thing up with which I will not put!” to mock someone who criticized him for ending a sentence with a preposition. Since the purpose of writing is to clearly communicate your thoughts and ideas, it’s perfectly acceptable to end a sentence with a preposition if the alternative would create confusion or sound unnatural.

However, it may still be worth revising your sentences to avoid ending them with a preposition whenever possible if you wish to reduce the risk of controversy (Your Dictionary 1996-2018. Ending a Sentence with a Preposition).

That makes it a moot point to state that a sentence should not end with a preposition. The Collins Dictionary (2018. s.v. preposition) states:

The practice of ending a sentence with a preposition (Venice is a place I should like to go to) was formerly regarded as incorrect, but is now acceptable and is the preferred form in many contexts.

1. A Brisbane Times journalist wrote: ‘Misandry is hardly a word, never mind a thing men need defending from’ (Holden 2018).

2. A friend sent me an email: ‘I know you’ve moved but I don’t know where to’ (email 11 December 2017).

Of both of these examples, it can be stated that ‘the use sounds natural and the meaning is clear’ (Oxford Dictionaries), but that is determined by my subjective view.

Nevertheless, major dictionaries and books of grammar now accept sentences ending with a presupposition. ‘Despite what you may have been taught, it’s a myth that ending a sentence or clause with a preposition is an error’ (The Free Dictionary 2003-2018. Dangling prepositions).[15]


(image courtesy

B. Object of sentence must be in objective case.

What is the objective case in a sentence? It applies to nouns, pronouns and relative pronouns that are objects of a sentence. However, what are objects of a sentence? See § A.1 above.

1. ‘Mr Nuttall was jailed for seven years in 2009 for receiving more than $500,000 in corrupt payments from two businessmen who he then helped to secure lucrative government contracts’ (AAP 2016).

Rule. Use this he/him method to decide whether who or whom is correct:

he = who
him = whom

Who/Whom wrote the letter?
He wrote the letter. Therefore, who is correct.
Who/Whom should I vote for?
Should I vote for him? Therefore, whom is correct ( 2018. s.v. who vs. whom).

Rewritten: ‘whom he then helped’.

2. ‘There are also his parents, Ian and Joan, who he visited recently at their home in southern WA’ (Baum 2016).

‘Who’ functions as the object of the verb, ‘visited’, and should be in the objective case.

designRed-small Rewritten: ‘whom he visited’.

3. Dr Michael Chamberlain: ‘”The case represents a gross injustice but also freedom of forensic science, which eventually saw Lindy and I exonerated in 1988,”

Rewritten: ‘saw Lindy and me exonerated’.

4. ‘MITCHELL Starc believes the spotless form of “Genius Josh’’ Hazlewood will allow he and Pat Cummins to unleash their inner-beasts at the Gabba next week’ (Craddock 2017). This grammatical error was contained in the article’s heading and an editor did not pick it up – at the time I accessed the article at 7.00am.

‘He’ is the object of the future tense verb, ‘will allow’, so it should be in the objective case.

designRed-small Rewritten: ‘will allow him and Pat Cummins to unleash….’

5. In a comment on a Christian forum, Drew wrote: ‘While you guys [in the USA] are in a wall building mood, perhaps you could build one in the northern border and do all we Canadians a favour’.[16]

‘We Canadians’ functions as the object of ‘do’ and the pronoun should be in the objective case, ‘us Canadians’.

designRed-smallRewritten: ‘and do all us Canadians a favour’.

6. I received this email from a friend: ‘If for any reason you can not attend on Thursday 23rd advise Tony or I when you will be available’.

designRed-smallRewritten: ‘Advise Tony or me’.

C. Plural subjects need plural verb; singular subject needs singular verb

The fundamental grammatical rules on this topic are:

Basic Rule. A singular subject (she, Bill, car) takes a singular verb (is, goes, shines), whereas a plural subject takes a plural verb.

Example: The list of items is/are on the desk.
If you know that list is the subject, then you will choose is for the verb ( 2018. s.v. subject-verb agreement).

Other rules for this topic will be pursued below.

1. In the Centrelink form, MOD S, Separation details, it has this question no. 22, ‘Has there been any other changes to your income and assets?’[17]

This is a special example: ‘In sentences beginning with here or there, the true subject follows the verb’ ( 2018a)

flamin-arrow-small Rewritten: Therefore, the sentence should read: ‘Have there been any other changes…?’

2. ‘”The water loss and settlement has slowed dramatically so that is why we are now ready to begin construction, because what is called your ‘primary settlement’ has occurred,” he said’ (Moore 2017).

Rule 4. As a general rule, use a plural verb with two or more subjects when they are connected by and ( 2018. s.v. subject-verb agreement).

flamin-arrow-small Rewritten: ‘The water loss and settlement have slowed….’

3. ‘Griffin is really bad [with mosquitoes], so is Murrumba Downs station bus stops’ (Jervis 2017).

flamin-arrow-small Rewritten: ‘so are Murrumba Downs’ bus stops’.

4. ‘Since before chalk and slate was invented, debates around barbecues have probed teacher claims of ‘working on holidays’, a phenomenon hardly isolated to just one occupation (Laming 2017).

The irony is in the fact that Andrew Laming’s article was about teachers, lesson plans from home, and the influence of unions on education. Laming is a federal MP for the seat of Bowman, based in Cleveland, Qld.

flamin-arrow-small Rewritten: ‘Since before chalk and slate were invented….’

5. An Aussie mother wrote about sending her children to school: ‘24 whiteboard markers PER student. So if there is 20 students in ONE class, that’s a total of 480 whiteboard markers. Are you serious!?’ ( 2017).

Rule 6. In sentences beginning with here or there, the true subject follows the verb’ ( 2018. s.v. subject-verb agreement).

flamin-arrow-small Rewritten: ‘So if there are 20 students in ONE class….’

6. This is from a post on a Christian forum that was addressed to me: ‘Oz, what’s your thoughts about the ‘Reason for God” by Timothy Keller?’[18]

flamin-arrow-small Rewritten: ‘What are your thoughts….’

7. Cricket commentator, Ian Chappell, wrote of the panel that chose the cricketers for the 2017 cricket tour of India: ‘Even though the panel have only chosen three fast bowlers, they have given themselves the option of adding to that number after the first two Tests’ (Chappell 2017).

The grammatical rule is: ‘Anyone who uses a plural verb with a collective noun must take care to be accurate—and also consistent.

The staff is deciding how they want to vote.
Careful speakers and writers would avoid assigning the singular is and the plural they to staff in the same sentence.

Consistent: The staff are deciding how they want to vote ( 2018. s.v. subject-verb agreement).

My understanding: ‘Even though the panel [members] have only chosen three fast bowlers, they have given themselves the option of adding to that number….’

8. Professor N T Wright, New Testament scholar, wrote: ‘Religious pluralism and syncretism was the order of the day right across the ancient world, with the notable exception of Judaism (and even that was contested in various ways)’ (Wright 2017).

flamin-arrow-small Rewritten: ’Religious pluralism and syncretism were the order of the day….’


9. As of 2009: ‘Queensland Baptists has decided that women will not be accepted as candidates for ordination’.[19]

flamin-arrow-small Rewritten: ‘Queensland Baptists have decided….’

10. ‘New car paint protection, rust proofing and fabric protection is often offered after you have signed the contract’ (NRMA Policy Team 2009).

flamin-arrow-small Rewritten: ’New car paint protection, rust proofing and fabric protection are often offered after….’

11. ‘The member for Buderim admitted he had “yelled a few things across the floor” since entering state politics in 2009, but said fighting and squabbling was not called for’ (Caldwell 2017).

flamin-arrow-small Rewritten: ‘but said fighting and squabbling were not called for’.

12. On a Christian forum a person wrote, ‘The doctrines that Christianity has stood on since the resurrection of Christ, still stands.[20]

flamin-arrow-small Rewritten: ‘The doctrines that Christianity have stood on since the resurrection of Christ, still stand’.

13. In a Brisbane Times article on speed cameras, it stated, ‘The council’s $5 million portable speed warning signs programs was introduced and is designed to register a driver’s speed and issue them with a visual warning to slow down if they are exceeding the limit. November, 2013’ (McCosker 2017).

The errors in this statement include: (a) Failure to use an apostrophe with the possessive case, ‘signs’ and, (b) failure to follow subject and verb agreement.

The apostrophe rule is: The rule is: ‘Do not use an apostrophe + s to make a regular noun plural’ (Grammar Monster 2018).[21] So ‘warning signs programs’ should be “warning signs’ programs”.

flamin-arrow-small Rewritten: ‘The council’s $5 million portable speed warning signs’ programs[22] were introduced and are designed to register a driver’s speed and issue the person with a visual warning to slow down if … exceeding the limit’.

14. In a Brisbane Times article dealing with university students denying the Holocaust, Dr Melanie O’Brien, an expert in genocide studies at the University of Qld school of law stated, ‘It’s not very well written and the grammar and the punctuation is not great’ (Clun 2017a).

For someone to complain about grammar and then use incorrect grammar herself is a contradiction.

flamin-arrow-small Rewritten: ‘It’s not very well written and the grammar and the punctuation are not great’.

15. The article, ‘Woman’s leg degloved[23] in Whitsundays yacht accident’, Brisbane Times, stated, ‘The company were working with water police’ (Mitchell-Whittington 2017).

flamin-arrow-small Rewritten: ‘… in Whitsundays’ yacht accident…. The company was working with water police’.

16. In the Brisbane Times story, ‘Other states dump 1 million tonnes of rubbish in Queensland’, there was this statement: ‘Ms Meldrum-Hanna said because of the lack of monitoring hazardous liquids, asbestos and tonnes of building and construction waste was being dumped in Ipswich’ (Clun 2017b).

flamin-arrow-small Rewritten: ‘because of the lack of monitoring hazardous liquids, asbestos and tonnes of building and construction waste were being dumped in Ipswich

17. ‘The Australian media and political landscape is now awash with goons seeking to exploit the sort of far-right tone the Donald Trump presidency has helped legitimise across the West….’ (O’Malley 2017).

flamin-arrow-small Rewritten: ‘The Australian media and political landscape are now awash with goons…’[24]

18. The Courier-Mail reported on Malcolm Turnbull’s response to the energy crisis with this explanation by a journalist, ‘The reports and correspondence to Government has raised serious concerns about prices and stability’ (Viellaris 2017).

flamin-arrow-small Rewritten: ‘The reports and correspondence to government have raised serious concerns….’

19. Review of 2017 Kia Sportage Si, CarAdvice: ‘Warranty and capped-price servicing is compelling…. Outside of the luxury European brands, there’s more options in the medium SUV segment than you can poke a proverbial at’.[25]

Rule 2. Two singular subjects connected by or, either/or, or neither/nor require a singular verb…..
Rule 4. As a general rule, use a plural verb with two or more subjects when they are connected by and ( 2018. s.v. subject-verb agreement).

The rule for ‘there’ and ‘here’ starting a sentence is at C 5.

flamin-arrow-small Rewritten: ‘Warranty and capped-price servicing are compelling…. There are more options….’

(image courtesy Unique Teaching Resource)

clip_image01520. ‘In these challenging times, the next generation of leaders are absolutely vital to the health and posterity of our nation’ (Shelton 2017).

The grammatical rule is:

Rule 1. A subject will come before a phrase beginning with of. This is a key rule for understanding subjects. The word of is the culprit in many, perhaps most, subject-verb mistakes.
Hasty writers, speakers, readers, and listeners might miss the all-too-common mistake in the following sentence:

Incorrect: A bouquet of yellow roses lend color and fragrance to the room.

Correct: A bouquet of yellow roses lends . . . (bouquet lends, not roses lend) [ 2018. s.v. subject-verb agreement).

flamin-arrow-smallRewritten: ‘the next generation of leaders is absolutely vital …’

21. ‘Key changes to the Manufactured Homes (Residential Parks) Act 2003 include … ensuring adequate emergency access and planning is in place’ (Caxton legal centre inc 2017).

snowflake-light-green-small Rewritten: ‘Key changes … include … ensuring adequate emergency access and planning are in place’.

22. ‘Here’s all the teams for the semi-finals’ (World Cup [Rugby League] Semi-Finals, 2017).

The subject of the sentence is after the verb and is ‘all’, a plural pronoun, so requires a plural verb.

snowflake-light-green-small Rewritten: ‘Here are all the teams …’

23. ‘and only one of those three are still there’ (Wright & Ellinghausen 2017).

‘Only one’ is singular so requires a singular verb.

snowflake-light-green-small Rewritten: ‘and only one of those three is still there’.

24. Barnaby Joyce stated, ‘”Obviously Twitter and social media has spent a lot of time just being completely defamatory’ (Wroe 2017).

snowflake-light-green-small Rewritten: ‘Twitter and social media have spent a lot of time….’

25. ‘I’ve heard Christians says that we shouldn’t concern ourselves with what goes on in wider society’ (Balogh 2017).

snowflake-light-green-small Rewritten: ‘I’ve heard Christians say….’

26. ‘Burpengary Doctors provides a professional after hours service’ (Burpengary Doctors 2017).

Here, however, ‘Burpengary Doctors’ is the name of a business – a collective noun that is singular. There is a punctuation issue with the statement of ‘after hours service’ in relation to the three words, ‘after hours service’. One of Monash University’s statements about the use of apostrophes is:

Plural nouns that end with s have an apostrophe added after the s.

the students’ work
the lecturers’ seminars (Monash University 2018).

Therefore, “after hours service” should be “after hours’ service”.

However, USA grammar sometimes supports different punctuation for words ending in s ( 2018).

snowflake-light-green-small Rewritten: “Burpengary Doctors [as a business] provides a professional after hours’ service”.


(courtesy tekhnologic –

27. ‘And it’s the 1,040 people (one percent) who were killed without their knowledge or consent and the 749 who never wanted to die early that should get us up in arms’ (Nertelt 2012).

‘Were killed’ is a past tense verb, so “it’s” needs to be the past tense, ‘it was’. Then it would read, ‘It was the 1,040 people….’ This is incorrect as ‘it’ is a neuter, singular pronoun that refers to things. Here it refers to ‘1,040 people’, so the construction has to be remove it and use a modifier that is suitable for people.

The complement of the sentence refers to the number of the subject, so the correct construction is, ‘There were’.

snowflake-light-green-small Rewritten: ‘And there were the 1,040 people (one percent) who were killed without their knowledge or consent….’

28. reported on the fifth Ashes cricket test, beginning 4 January 2018, ‘The coin toss and play has been delayed due to showers in Sydney ahead of the fifth Magellan Ashes Test at the SCG’ (LIVE: Fifth Ashes Test, day one 2017-2018).[26]

snowflake-light-green-small Rewritten: ‘The coin toss and play have been delayed….’

29. In a lesson on grammar, the author wrote, ‘Then there’s omissions’ (Texas A&M University 2018).

snowflake-light-green-small Rewritten: ‘Then there were omissions’.

30. ‘The Coalition Government is listening and understand that electricity prices, unemployment and our national security are pressing on peoples’ minds’ (Luke Howarth MP for Petrie).[27]

snowflake-light-green-small Rewritten: ‘The Coalition Government is listening and understand that electricity prices, unemployment and our national security is pressing on peoples’ minds’

31. ‘Not enough state school parents understand what religion instruction involves, secular advocates believes, with more parents pushing for transparency at their children’s schools’ (Remeikis 2016).

snowflake-light-green-small Rewritten: ‘secular advocates believe…’

32 Reba wrote, ‘The birth, death and Resurrection of Christ was not by chance.’[28]

snowflake-light-green-small Rewritten: ‘The birth, death and resurrection of Christ were not by chance.’

33. ‘Cricket Australia are still determining whether Junction Oval would be available to host the Sheffield Shield final…. Cricket Australia is in discussions with Cricket Victoria regarding the Sheffield Shield final’ (Cherny 2018).

The law of non-contradiction has been violated here. This states: ‘The law of non-contradiction can be expressed simply as such: A cannot be both B and non-B at the same time and in the same sense’ (Josh 2008).

In the statement from Cricket Australia (CA), in the law of non-contradiction,

A = discussions where to conduct the Sheffield Shield final in Victoria.

B = ‘Cricket Australia are’;

Non-B = ‘Cricket Australia is’.

There is a contradiction with CA using ‘are’ one time and ‘is’ another. To avoid this contradiction, this should be the way it is …

snowflake-light-green-small Rewritten: ‘Cricket Australia [as an organisation] is still determining…. Cricket Australia is in discussions….’

34. Queensland Premier Annastacia Palaszczuk said, ‘If there is any particular details that people want investigated further we can have a look at those particular matters’ (Kohlbacher 2018).

This deals with the subject of a clause where ‘there’ is placed before the verb, but the subject, ‘details (plural)’ follows the verb. So, it is …

snowflake-light-green-small Rewritten: ‘If there are any particular details….’ (image courtesy Elon University, Elon NC, USA)

35. espncricinfo reported on the second cricket test between South Africa and Australia, 10 March 2018: ‘Day 2: South Africa lead by 20 runs with 3 wickets remaining in the innings’.[29]

‘South Africa’ is regarded as a single team so takes a singular verb ‘leads’.

snowflake-light-green-small Rewritten: ‘South Africa leads by 20 runs …’[

36. ‘Rababa was again in the thick of the action on the fourth morning at St George’s Park, cutting short Australia’s resistance to collect match figures of 11-150 as Australia were bowled out for 239 in their second innings’ (Barrett 2018a).

For ‘matching verbs to collective nouns’, see D. 9 below for the rule. Also see Oxford Dictionaries online (2018. s.v. matching verbs to collective nouns) for a further explanation. [30]

Another grammatical issue in this sentence from Barrett (2018a) is his use of the possessive pronoun ‘their’. When Australia is regarded as a singular team, a singular possessive, neuter pronoun, ‘it’, should be used.

The grammatical rule is explained in D. 11 in relation to my interaction with the New International Version (NIV) Bible translation committee.

snowflake-light-green-small Rewritten: Australia was bowled out for 239 in its second innings’.

37. A Christian pastor sent me this email on 5 March 2018: ‘There was only 13 there plus 3 children’.

snowflake-light-green-small Rewritten: ‘There were only 13 there plus 3 children’.

38. There was an incident of vandalism at the Strathpine Qld office of Immigration Minister, Peter Dutton MP. The news report stated that ‘three people were inside the office at the time but none were injured’ (Schwarten 2018).

‘None’ means ‘not one’, so is singular subject.

snowflake-light-green-small Rewritten: ‘but none was injured’.

But none of them were healed; the only one was Naaman‘ (Luke 4:27 ERV).

snowflake-light-green-small Rewritten: ‘But none of them was healed; the only one was Naaman’.

39. ‘But it’s not as if there’s many black players clamoring for selection’ (Fourie 2012).

snowflake-light-green-small Rewritten: ‘as if there are many black players clamouring for selection’.

40. Atheistic writer, David Fitzgerald, stated: ‘The first gospel of Christianity appears to have been a literary allegory that were written decades after the time they portray’ (in Gray 2015).

The direct object of ‘have been’ is the singular, ‘a literary allegory’. Therefore the following relative clause, beginning with ‘that’, should use a singular verb referrent, ‘was written’

snowflake-light-green-small Rewritten: ‘The first gospel … appears to have been a literary allegory that was written decades after the time it portrays’.

41. ‘The length of the suspensions mean that the next major event that Warner and Smith could play in for Australia is the World Cup, followed by the Ashes, in England next year’ (Barrett 2018b).

golden foward button Rewritten: ‘The length (singular) of the suspensions means that….’

42, In this online petition to the Queensland Parliament, it was stated:

‘Queensland residents draws to the attention of the House that despite the Mackay-Whitsunday region’s proud record of hosting NRL games, and international fixtures, our region has been snubbed when it comes to staging NRL games in Mackay in recent years’.

Plural subjects require a plural verb in agreement.

golden foward button Rewritten: ‘Queensland residents draw to the attention of the House….’

43. In the newsletter received by email from on 31 March 2018, it stated:

It is God’s resurrection power that brings those dead in their sins to life in Christ (Ephesians 2:5; Romans 11:15). Knowing this give us confidence to proclaim Christ, certain that He is powerful to save (Reasons for Celebrating the Resurrection).

golden foward button Rewritten: ‘It is God’s resurrection power (singular) that brings those dead in sins to life in Christ…. Knowing this gives us confidence to proclaim Christ….’

44. I received this email from my private medical insurance provider, Bupa, on Tuesday, 3 April 2018: ‘Your health and wellbeing is our priority’.[31]

golden foward button Rewritten: ‘Your health and wellbeing are our priority’.

45. ‘Akos Balogh from TGCA [The Gospel Coalition of Australia] recently spoke with Michael Kellahan, the Executive Director of the Christian Legal Think-Tank Freedom for Faith, about religious freedom here in Australia’. Concerning religious freedom, Kellahan stated: ‘Some of them say there’s no challenges to religious freedom at all’ (Balogh 2018b).

This suffers from the ‘there’ grammar rule as it relates to the subject and the tense of the verb. The subject of this clause, ‘[that] there’s no challenges’, is the plural, ‘challenges’. So it needs to be …

golden foward button Rewritten: ‘there are no challenges’.

46. This was stated in On Line Opinion, Copyright and editorial matters, ‘We also may edit the Contribution as we sees fit….’[32]

“We’ is plural so needs to be in agreement with a plural verb.

golden foward button Rewritten: ‘We also may edit the Contribution as we see fit’.

47. In a comment about the article, ‘Folau, ball tampering, protection for religious belief ‘ On Line Opinion, Comments, 12 April 2018, A J Phillips wrote, ‘,,,when it’s your side of politics that are making all the offensive and ignorant remarks’.[33]

golden foward button Rewritten: ‘When it’s your side (singular) of politics that is (singular) making all the offensive and ignorant remarks’.

48. ‘”It’s just a fact of life,” Professor Halsey told Fairfax Media. “Housing and conditions in some locations – and in some more than others – is a major issue”’ (Koziol 2018).

golden foward button Rewritten: ‘Housing and conditions in some locations … are major issues’.


(image courtesy abcteach)

49. The National Geographic published an article on a campaign to eliminate hell by evangelical scholars. The sub-heading was: ‘A new generation of evangelical scholars are challenging the idea that sinners are doomed to eternal torment—but traditionalists are pushing back (Strauss 2016).

golden foward button Rewritten: ‘‘A new generation (singular) of evangelical scholars is (singular verb) challenging the idea that sinners are doomed to eternal torment’.

50. ‘Anyone who knows of the family’s whereabouts were urged to contact police’ (Mitchell-Whittington 2018).

golden foward button Rewritten:Anyone (singular) who knows of the family’s whereabouts was urged (singular verb) to contact police’.

51. This is an example of a violation of grammar in an online tutorial on ‘examples of the objective case’. It stated: ‘The objective case are the nouns or pronouns that function as an object in a sentence’ (Socratic English Grammar 2017).

golden foward button Rewritten: ‘The objective case (singular) includes (singular verb) the nouns or pronouns that function as an object in a sentence’. I considered that ‘includes’ was a more appropriate singular verb than ‘is’ to make sense of the sentence.

52. On a Christian forum, one of the moderators stated: ‘There’s no reason for anyone to troll a Christian forum demanding Christians engage in proving their faith when there’s so many good books to explore’.[34]

golden foward button Rewritten: ‘… there are so many good books to explore’.

53. ‘The council’s waste and resource recovery services manager, Arron Lee, said escalating landfill levies and glass was impacting Australia’s recycling industry’ (McCosker 2018).

golden foward button Rewritten: ‘… escalating landfill levies and glass were impacting Australia’s recycling industry’.

54. ‘Debate and division is not conducive to our vision’.[35]

golden foward button Rewritten: ‘Debate and division are not conducive to our vision’.

55 This is from a Queensland Government document: ‘For many people, care at the end of life and palliative care is provided in their home’.[36]

golden foward button Rewritten: For many people, care at the end of life and palliative care is provided in their home’.

56. This is from the Liberal Democrat Party’s website on values: ‘The Liberal Democrats believe government have neither the expertise, nor the rights to tell people how to run their lives’ (Liberal Democrats n.d.).

golden foward button Rewritten: ‘The Liberal Democrats (as a singular political party) believe government has neither the expertise, nor the rights’.

57. ‘Australia are sweating on yet another injury scare that could affect their Test XI, with Shaun Marsh sent for scans after hurting his shoulder in the UK’ (AAP 2018a).

golden foward button Rewritten: ‘Australia (singular cricket team) are sweating on yet another injury scare that could affect its Test XI’,

58. ‘Again the National Party have tried stealing another One Nation policy’ (National Party Steals Another One Nation Policy – Coal Fired Power Stations, 6 July 2018).[37]

golden foward button Rewritten: ‘Again the National Party has tried stealing another One Nation policy’

59. ‘This is the cessation of the electrical impulse that drives (singular) the heartbeat’ (Perry 2017).

golden foward button Rewritten: ‘This is the cessation (singular) of the electrical impulse that drive the heartbeat’

60. ‘An embarrassing leak of internal records show Labor candidate Susan Lamb had been planning for an election ­campaign in April, before the High Court’s decision in May’ (Hadley/Dutton 2018).

golden foward button Rewritten: ‘An embarrassing leak (singular) of internal records shows (singular) Labor candidate Susan Lamb had been planning….’

61. ‘Ninety-eight per cent of NSW and around two-thirds of Queensland is in drought or drought-affected, with pastures turned to rubble and the cost of freight and feed skyrocketing’ (ABC regional reporters 2018).

bug Rewritten: ‘Ninety-eight per cent of NSW and around two-thirds of Queensland are in drought or drought-affected….’

62. In The Journal of Bioethical Inquiry, researchers wrote: ‘More education and debate is needed to disentangle in these situations which acts should be regarded as euthanasia and which should not’ (Rietjens et al 2009).

bug Rewritten: ‘More education and debate are needed to disentangle in these situations which acts should be regarded as euthanasia and which should not’.

63. In an emailer from Family Voice Australia (16 August 2018) it stated: ‘Your support and action is vital to assisting political leaders understand the wisdom needed for such important matters’ (Newington 2018).

bug Rewritten: ‘Your support and action are vital….’

64. ‘Dutton’s office have denied the arrangement would put him in breach of section 44, citing legal advice’ (Koziol 2018a).

bug Rewritten: ‘Dutton’s office(singular) has (singular) denied….’

65. In an e-Petition to the Queensland Government, it began with: ‘Queensland citizens draws to the attention of the House that section 234 of the Local Government Regulation 2012 provides that a local government may enter into a contract for goods and services without first inviting written quotes or tenders if the contract is entered into under an LGA arrangement’ (Queensland Parliament 2018a).

bug Rewritten: ‘: ‘Queensland citizens (singular) draw (singular) to the attention of the House….’

66. ‘This is the few threads that I read entirely’.[38]

bug Rewritten:These are the few threads that I read entirely’.

67. I received this emailer on 5 September 2018 with the heading, ‘Gas prices must fall if Australian manufacturing, industry and business is to survive’ (News Weekly ).

bug Rewritten: ‘Gas prices must fall if Australian manufacturing, industry and business are to survive’.

68. In an e-petition to the Queensland Parliament, it was stated: ‘Queensland citizens draws to the attention of the House the absence of legislation allowing for hunting of feral game in Queensland’s State Forests’.[39]

bug Rewritten: ‘Queensland citizens draw to the attention of the House….’

69. This is from an e-Petition sent by email from the Queensland Government: ‘Queensland residents draws to the attention of the House the evidence that the compulsory wearing of bicycle helmets can and have saved lives’.[40]

bug Rewritten: ‘Queensland residents draw to the attention of the House the evidence that the compulsory wearing (singular) of bicycle helmets can save (singular) and have saved (singular) lives’

70. Aaron Finch, Australia’s T20 cricket captain stated after India won the game: ‘I think there’s still a fair bit of work to do but there’s positive signs’.[41]

bug Rewritten: ‘but there are positive signs’.

71. In speaking about a school ‘Jesus ban’, a Fairfax electorate MP was reported: ‘Mr O’Brien, a practising Christian, said the crackdown was the actions of a “totalitarian, communist government“….’ (Sawyer 2017).

bug Rewritten: ‘the crackdown was the action of a “totalitarian, communist government“….’

72. This was a heading in the article, ‘Why would a loving God allow death and suffering‘, by Dr Jonathan Sarfati of Creation Ministries International: ‘Death and suffering is everywhere!’. The subject is plural, ‘death AND suffering’, because it refers to more than one. Plural subjects require a plural verb.

bug Rewritten. The heading should read, ‘Death and suffering are everywhere!’


(image courtesy Phillip Martin Clip Art)

D. Plural pronouns associated with singular nouns

The grammatical rule is:

The use of they and their with singular pronouns is frowned upon by many traditionalists. To be consistent, it is a good practice to try to avoid they and its variants (e.g., them, their, themselves) with previously singular nouns or pronouns.

Not consistent: Someone has to do it, and they have to do it well.

The problem is that someone is singular, but they is plural. If we change they to he or she, we get a rather clumsy sentence, even if it is technically correct.

Technically correct: Someone has to do it, and he or she has to do it well.

Replacing an inconsistent sentence with a poorly written one is a bad bargain. The better option is to rewrite.

Rewritten: Someone has to do it, and has to do it well ( ( 2018. Pronouns).[42]

1. Peter Wellington MP stated,

‘But I think in 2017, people if they’re going out in public, need to have their face identifiable.

We need to be able to continue to walk down the street without fear of intimidation, without having to look over our shoulders, and look at people who have their whole face covered….

The premier says Queensland adheres to a series of national procedures and policies requiring people to show their full face when entering government buildings’ (AAP 2017).

flag Rewritten: ‘People … need to have their faces identifiable…. Requiring people to show their full faces ….’

2. Postmortem refers to ‘a medical examination of a dead person’s body in order to find out how they died’ (Collins English Dictionary 2017. s. v. postmortem).

flag Rewritten: ‘a dead person’s body in order to find out how that person died’.

3. ‘The feminist organization promotes feminism and can require their leader to be a feminist…. The school’s own website states in its mission that “every single Hawkeye learns how to build their own path and bravely go wherever it leads”’ (Estell 2017).[43]

flag Rewritten: ‘The feminist organisation[44] (singular)… can require its leader to be a feminist…. “every single Hawkeye … its own path’.

clip_image023(photograph Jacob Estell, courtesy Des Moines Register, 14 December 2017).

4. Retired MP, former Howard government minister and regular columnist for The Sydney Morning Herald, Amanda Vanstone, wrote: ‘The plain English interpretation of this is that they [the Australian Democrats] would hold a government to their promises’ (Vanstone 2018).

flag Rewritten: ‘would hold a government to its promises’.

5. The Queensland Courts wrote this about autopsies: ‘During the autopsy, the deceased is treated with respect and great care to preserve their dignity’ [The State of Queensland (Queensland Courts) 2011–2018].

flag Rewritten: ‘The deceased is treated with respect … to preserve that person’s dignity’

6. ‘Section 22 of the Births, Deaths and Marriages Registration Act currently means that any Queenslander who has undergone sex reassignment surgery has to divorce their partner to have their gender legally recognised’ (Caldwell 2018).

flag Rewritten: ‘Any Queenslander … to divorce that person’s partner to have the new gender legally recognised’.

7. ‘Queensland Premier Annastacia Palaszczuk has promised to find out if a person received a government job after their resume was sent to Labor front-bencher Mark Bailey’s private email account’ (Kohlbacher 2018).

flag Rewritten: ‘consider the humanity of the unborn child and that child’s inherent human rights’.

8. In the petition on the Queensland Government website, Reject the campaign to remove all restraint on abortion in Queensland (online), one of the statements was: ‘consider the humanity of the unborn child and their inherent human rights’.[45]

flagRewritten: ‘consider the humanity of the unborn child and that child’s inherent human rights’.

9. ‘A fine all-round performance from Ellyse Perry has helped Australia wrap-up their one day series against India in Vadodara’ (AAP 2018).

What is the grammatical rule for collective names like ‘Australia’, meaning ‘the Australian team’?

Do you use a singular or plural verb to match a collective noun such as team or staff? The answer is, It depends. If these nouns are acting as a unit, use a singular verb.

Example: The team is heading for practice this afternoon.

If the sentence indicates more individuality, use a plural verb.

Example: The team are eating with their families tonight ( 2018. Subject and verb agreement with collective nouns).[46]

flag Rewritten: ‘Ellyse Perry has helped Australia wrap-up its one day series against India’.

clip_image02510. Brydon Coverdale, in his report on the second day of the third cricket test between South Africa and Australia wrote: ‘What Australia wanted from one of their openers was the kind of innings provided by Elgar, who had finished unbeaten on 141 after he and Rabada frustrated the Australians with a 50-run ninth-wicket stand’ (Coverdale 2018).

flag Rewritten: ‘: ‘What Australia (as a singular team) wanted from one of its openers was the kind of innings provided by Elgar….’

(image courtesy Wikipedia)

clip_image02711. The New International Version (NIV) of the Bible in 1 Corinthians 14:3 states, ‘Anyone who speaks in a tongue edifies themselves’. This grammatical error is perpetrated throughout both Old and New Testaments of this English translation of the Bible. The grammatical rule is ‘singular indefinite pronoun antecedents take singular pronoun referents’:

SINGULAR: each, either, neither, one, no-one, nobody, nothing, anyone, anybody, anything, someone, somebody, something, everyone, everybody, everything (Towson University 2017).

When I contacted the NIV translation committee about this anomaly, this was the explanation I received by email on 27 March 2018:

Dear Dr. Gear,

Thank you for your grammatical question about the NIV.

As you certainly know from your study of Greek, languages vary in what words exist for what parts of speech—not only to the level of pronouns, but even down to reflexive pronouns. Also, language changes over time as certain forms fall out of favor and others gain acceptance. From my study of the subject, the singular they has existed in English since the 14th century. And a singular use of “themselves” has developed as a generic symbol for any singular reflexive referent.

A lot of this comes down to the descriptive vs. prescriptive debate. You are exhibiting something closer to the prescriptive (“Why doesn’t this text follow the rules?”), whereas the descriptive says, “Here is a convention that may not be recognized by all as conventional, but it (sic) useful for communication.” In some corners of the English-speaking world, people try to hew to the singular somewhat by saying, “Anyone who speaks in a tongue edifies themself”—using the generic singular they but adding the singular-looking form of the reflexive. That seemingly was a bridge too far for the Committee for Bible Translation. In their deep research on English usage through the Collins Word Bank, they found that “themselves” is commonly enough used as to be acceptable.

I will say that the CBT [Committee on Bible Translation] is passionate to translate the ancient languages into global English as she is generally spoken today (thus, their significant investment in the Collins Word Bank research). They have been accused of a lot of things, but I assure you that their only agenda is to provide a Bible text that is accurate to the originals and accurate to contemporary English. There will be disagreement on that “accurate to contemporary English,” as you have brought up, but their heart is for a text that is elegant in a church setting and colloquial enough to use in outreach. Whether they have achieved these goals can be judged by every reader, but I can vouch for their intention.

Grace and peace to you as you pursue our Savior through God’s Word!

Partner Relations Team, Biblica


So, what I requested was sticking to the grammatical rules in Bible translation, but that was regarded as prescriptive (stipulating, imposing) the rules of grammar on the text versus descriptive. The CBT for the NIV chose the descriptive model where ‘“themselves” is commonly enough used as to be acceptable’. Therefore, ‘commonly enough used’ was the arbitration standard for determining ‘themselves’ instead of ‘oneself’ or ‘himself/herself’.

The CBT is so fixed in its ‘descriptive’ agenda that I don’t think it is worthy of further communication with the Partner Relations Team  Will any one of the broken grammatical rules (prescriptive) outlined in this ‘Grammar Police’ article be acceptable in future NIV editions? Because people regularly use singular subjects with plural verbs and plural subjects with singular verbs, will that be an accommodation accepted by contemporary NIV Bible translators?

Who gave the NIV translators authority to choose descriptive grammar over prescriptive grammar? Is that what a dynamic equivalence translation[47] (such as the NIV) of Scripture requires? Does that also mean that when common people continue to use plural subjects with a singular verb (and vice versa), that will become acceptable in descriptive writing?

The examples could go on ad infinitum of discarding prescriptive grammar for descriptive grammar.

Image result for image pronoun antecedent agreement public domain

(image courtesy Bonlac Foods)

12. ‘In Kingston in 2008-09, England were dismissed for 51 in their second innings’ (Lynch 2018).

flag Rewritten: ‘England (singular team) was dismissed for 51 in its second innings’

13. This was a statement in a question posed to Christian apologist, William Lane Craig, ‘I leave home and go to work, I serve a customer and they leave’ (Craig 2018).

flag Rewritten: ‘I serve a customer (singular) and that person leaves’.

14. I was shocked with this definition of narcissist in Oxford Dictionaries Online: ‘A person who has an excessive interest in or admiration of themselves’ (Oxford Dictionaries Online 2018. s.v. narcissist). ‘A person’ is singular but the pronoun that refers back to ‘a person’ is a reflexive pronoun, ‘themselves’ (plural) when it should be ‘herself, himself or oneself’. That a prestigious dictionary should resort to using what is colloquially becoming a common practice is an accommodation to the downturn in correct grammar.

The grammatical rule is: ‘Reflexive pronouns are used when both the subject and the object of a verb are the same person or thing’ ( 2018. s.v. pronouns).

In the example above, the subject is ‘singular, ‘a person’, but the reflexive pronoun used is ‘themselves’. It should be ‘oneself’.

flag Rewritten: ‘A person who has an excessive interest in or admiration of oneself’.

15. ‘Everyone is right, in their own mind, and only the narcissist believes that he is without error’.[48]

flag Rewritten:Everyone is right, in one’s own mind, and only the narcissist believes that he or she is without error’ Or, ‘All are right in their own minds and only narcissists believe that they are without error’.

16. ‘… attacks on religious freedom that was not even considered at the time of passing this Bill’.[49]

flag Rewritten:attacks on religious freedom that were not even considered at the time of passing this Bill’.

17. This statement is in ‘Our Mission’ of the Wesleyan Methodist Church of Australia: ‘The message which ignited the Wesleyan revival was the announcement that God through Christ can forgive a person their sins….’[50]

flag Rewritten: ‘that God through Christ can forgive a person his or her sins….’

Even better would be to rephrase: ‘that God through Christ can forgive all people their sins’.

(image courtesy YouTube)

18. This dictionary’s definition of adult is: ‘An adult has reached the age when they are legally responsible for their actions’ (Collins Dictionary 2018. s.v. adult). A concern is that this is a description from a world-renowned dictionary.

flag Rewritten: : ‘An adult has reached the age when that person is legally responsible for their actions’.

Another option could be: ‘An adult has reached the age when he or she is legally responsible for his or her actions’. That is clumsy and verbose. The first option is preferred by this grammar policeman.

19. ‘And the accumulated weight of a culture of sexism, racism and homophobia isn’t simply erased because someone declares on their website that we’re all individuals and should be judged as such’ (Edwards 2018).

flag Rewritten: ‘because someone declares on that person’s website that we’re all individuals and should be judged as such’.

20. In writing about the Longman by-election on 28 July 2018, a Brisbane Times journalist stated: ‘It comes in the same week that we hear One Nation is giving their preferences to the LNP’s Trevor Ruthenberg’ (Brown 2018).

flag Rewritten: ‘we hear One Nation (singular party) is giving its preferences to the LNP’s Trevor Ruthenberg.

21. ‘Anyone who does not provide for their relatives, and especially for their own household, has denied the faith and is worse than an unbeliever’ (1 Tim 5:8 NIV).

flag Rewritten:Everyone who does not provide for their relatives, and especially for their own household, has denied the faith and is worse than an unbeliever’.

A more clumsy way would be: ‘Anyone who does not provide for his or her relatives, and especially for his or her own household, has denied the faith and is worse than an unbeliever’.

The New Living Translation of this verse is: ‘But those who won’t care for their relatives, especially those in their own household, have denied the true faith. Such people are worse than unbelievers’.

22. Another journalist has practised descriptive grammar instead of prescriptive grammar: ‘The individual came forward to claim their prize 175 days after purchasing their unregistered ticket…. The winner – who has decided to remain anonymous  took their lucky ticket to the Tatts office in Melbourne on Wednesday, seven days before the whopping $55 million prize was due to be transferred to the Victorian State Revenue Office’ (Koob 2018).

flag Rewritten: : ‘The individual came forward to claim that person’s prize 175 days after purchasing the unregistered ticket…. The winner – who has decided to remain anonymous  took the lucky ticket to the Tatts office in Melbourne on Wednesday….’


(image courtesy

23. A comment from On Line Opinion, ‘Everyone is chosen to play their part’.[51]

flagRewritten:Everyone is chosen to play his or her part’.

I prefer this option: ‘All are chosen to play their parts’.

24. In attempting to connect to my homepage, Truth Challenge, I received this message from my Firefox/Mozilla web browser:

Your connection is not secure.

The owner of has configured their website improperly. To protect your information from being stolen, Firefox has not connected to this website.

flag Rewritten: ‘The owner … configured that person’s website improperly’.

By the way, the new address of this website , Truth Challenge, is:

25. In updating its Terms and Conditions for Internet Banking – effective 5 September 2018, Suncorp Bank wrote:

These Conditions apply to Internet Banking and your use of it. You must accept them:

· if you are reading this conditions within Internet Banking….[52]

flagRewritten: ‘You must accept them … if you are reading these conditions within Internet Banking’. This would appear to be a typographical error by Suncorp Bank.

26. ‘It means a child, born in 2011 in some western parts of Queensland, is in year 2 – and they have never seen rain. They’ve never witnessed the skies darken, and the heavens open. They’ve never heard the sound of water hitting a tin roof. And they’re seven years old’ (King 2018).

flag Rewritten: ‘It means a child, born in 2011 in some western parts of Queensland, is in year 2 – and that child has never seen rain. The child never witnessed the skies darken, and the heavens open. He or she has never heard the sound of water hitting a tin roof. And the child is seven years old’.

27. ‘Like the candidate for school captain who is a hero among their classmates but a teacher’s nightmare, Dutton has long had a bifurcated appeal’ (Knott 2018).

flag Rewritten: ‘Like the candidate for school captain who is a hero among his classmates but a teacher’s nightmare, Dutton has long had a bifurcated appeal’

28. In the Queensland abortion debate, Deputy Premier Jackie Trad stated, ‘”Ensuring that every single member of the Queensland Parliament has the right to exercise their conscience on this matter is critical to whether this legislation gets up,” she said’ (Caldwell 2018).

flag Rewritten: ‘Ensuring that every single member of the Queensland Parliament has the right to exercise that member’s conscience on this matter is critical….’

29. ‘”It’s a hellscape,” said one of the workers [of Amazon Australia], who spoke directly to Fairfax Media but declined to be identified for fear of losing their current jobs or damaging future work opportunities with labour hire firms’ (Hatch 2018).

flag Rewritten: ‘”It’s a hellscape,” said one of the workers [of Amazon Australia], who spoke directly to Fairfax Media but declined to be identified for fear of losing the worker’s current jobs or damaging future work opportunities….’

30., in explaining details about the RACQ Bank wrote: ‘While RACQ Bank does provide online banking, they have not introduced an app that lets you bank on the go’ ( 2018).

flag Rewritten: ‘While RACQ Bank does provide online banking, it has not introduced an app that lets you bank on the go’.

31. ‘Let’s respect that each has their own understanding and we are not going to change it’.[53]

flag Rewritten: ‘Let’s respect that all have their own understandings and we are not going to change them’.

32. Jason sent this question to leading Christian apologist, William Lane Craig, ‘But why should one assume such a scenario if they affirm a beginning but reject a cause?’ (Craig 2018a)

flagRewritten ‘But why should one assume such a scenario if one affirms a beginning but rejects a cause?

After the high priest dies, that person (singular) can go back to their (plural) own land‘ (Num 35:28b ERV).

flag Rewritten: ‘After the high priest dies, that person (singular) can go back to his (singular) own land’. All Jewish high priests were males, so it is appropriate to write, ‘… his own land’ and not ‘his or her own land’.


flag  After the high priest dies, those people (plural) can go back to their (plural) own land’.

Each (singular) Israelite will keep the land that belonged to their (plural) own ancestors‘ (Num 36:9b ERV).

flag Rewritten:All Israelites (plural) will keep the land that belonged to their (plural) own ancestors


(courtesy Re:word Communications)

E. Subject of sentence is in the nominative case

Grammar Monster[(n.d. s.v. What is the nominative case? (with Examples)] provided the rule:

The nominative case is the case used for a noun or pronoun which is the subject of a verb. For example (nominative case shaded):

· Mark eats cakes.

(The noun Mark is the subject of the verb eats. Mark is in the nominative case.)

· He eats cakes.

(The pronoun He is the subject of the verb eats. He is in the nominative case.)

· They eat cakes.

(The pronoun They is the subject of the verb eats. They is in the nominative case.)

The nominative case is also used for a subject complement. For example:

· Mark is a businessman.

(Here, Mark is in the nominative case because it’s the subject of is, and businessman is in the nominative case because it’s a subject complement; i.e., it renames the subject.)

· It was I.

(Here, It is in the nominative case because it’s the subject of was, and I is in the nominative case because it’s a subject complement; i.e., it renames the subject.)

The nominative case is also known as the subjective case.

1. A Roman catholic priest speaking of boating tragedy and death of two of his parishoners: ‘Mavis was a lovely lady and her and jack were good family friends’ (Clark 2017).

Adobe_InDesign2808 Rewritten: ‘Mavis was a lovely lady and she and Jack were good family friends’.

2. First Home Buyers Australia spokesman Daniel Cohen told The New Daily, ‘I think it shows how him and many of the other ministers in the government are out of touch with the struggles that first home buyers face’ (Gomes 2018).

Rewritten: ‘I think it shows how he and many of the other ministers in the government are out of touch with the struggles that first home buyers face’.

3. The new managing director of the Australian Christian Lobby, Martyn Iles, was interviewed by Eternity, the newspaper of the Bible Society. Iles is recorded as saying, ‘Us kids would do things like sing and entertain the old people there’ (Delbridge 2018).

Adobe_InDesign2808 Rewritten:We[54] kids would do things like sing and entertain the old people there’.

F. Words left out or added

1. I’m guilty of this one. I sent an email to Ben Davis of 4BC on the subject of why newspapers are losing money on 4 May 2017. Part of what I wrote was: ‘I’ve developing a story for my homepage of grammatical errors…’ I should have written either ‘I am developing’ or ‘I’ve been developing’. It was a matter of lack of grammar check for me. I was not careful with my grammar.[55]

AdobeBridge Rewritten: ‘: ‘I’m developing a story for my homepage of grammatical errors’.

2. ‘The National Party is right behind me,” the Mr McCormack told Sky News, adding he would not stand aside for Mr Joyce and urging colleagues to stop focusing[56]on themselves’ (Shields 2018).

AdobeBridge Rewritten: ‘Mr McCormack told Sky News’. There is no need for the definite article, ‘the’, as there is only one Mr McCormack leading the National Party in the federal parliament of Australia.


(courtesy Kids World Fun)

F. Incorrect words or tenses

1. In stating why no other NRL clubs wanted Jarryd Hayne, the journalist wrote: ‘But since returning to the NRL last year, where he gives every indication the game is too small for him, Hayne has brick by brick began to dismantle that reputation (Kent 2017).

‘Began’ is the simple past tense of the verb ‘to begin’. It would be correct to say ‘Hayne … began to dismantle’. However, ‘began’ is not used with auxiliary verbs such as ‘has’ or ‘would have’. ‘Begun’ is a past participle of ‘begin’.

The word ‘begun’ is the past participle of ‘begin’. ‘Begun’ is used in the perfect tense sentences. It is, therefore, incorrect to write ‘I begun’, as ‘begun’ can never be used without an auxiliary verb (‘has’, ‘have’ or ‘had’). Thus, we must say that something ‘has begun’ or ‘had begun’.

The auxiliary verb used with ‘begun’ affects the tense of the sentence. When combined with ‘has’ or ‘have’, it is part of the present perfect tense. Typically, this shows that something started in the past and continues in the present:

I have begun writing my novel (ProofreadMyEssay/Writing Tips n.d. s.v. Word choice: Began vs. Begun).[57]

Alien Aquae mule Rewritten: ‘Hayne has brick by brick begun to dismantle that reputation….’

2. A church explained its ministry: ‘We also have an accredited Bible Training Center[58] that assist different churches in Queensland with students doing their Cert IV in Christian Ministry and ministerial theological studies’ (Lifebuilders’ Wesleyan Church: About Us).[59]

‘Center’ is singular so in the accompanying relative clause, a singular verb is needed with ‘assists’.

Alien Aquae mule Rewritten: ‘We also have an accredited Bible Training Center[60] that assists different churches in Queensland…’

3. I was stunned to find this example in a university’s writing centre that presented the correct grammar for apostrophes:

“The dog at the firm’s paperwork.”

In each case, we add an apostrophe-s to show that something possesses something else. Jim possess the dog, or at least he use to until Jack lost it. And the paperwork belongs to the firm. Simple (Texas A&M 2018).

Alien Aquae mule Rewritten: Was this meant to state: ‘The dog ate the firm’s paperwork’ and ‘at’ was a typographical error. Or, does it refer to, ‘The dog at the firm’s paperwork’s business’?

‘Jim possesses (owns) the dog, or at least he used to until Jack lost it’.

4. In this article about the Broncos win over the Rabbitohs, it was stated: ‘McGuire’s exit preceded Haas’ introduction minutes later as he barrelled his way for 78 metres and made 18 tackles in an powerhouse 21-minute NRL bow’ (Pengilly 2018).

How does one decide to use the indefinite article ‘a’ and not ‘an’? The rule is:

We … use an instead of a when the word following begins with a vowel sound: an egg, an omelet, an institute, an honor. A will always be followed by a word that starts with a consonant sound: a box, a trampoline, a hero, a unique opportunity ( 2018. s.v. A/An vs. The).

Alien Aquae mule Rewritten: ‘…as he barrelled his way for 78 metres and made 18 tackles in a powerhouse 21-minute NRL bow’

5. ‘Wade was brought back into the Australia team in the home 2016 series against South Africa to add some aggression to a team that had lost their five previous Tests…. But after underperforming with the bat, Wade was cut from the Australia team ahead of last summer, axed for his childhood friend and state teammate Tim Paine’ (Cricket Network 2018).

What is wrong with ‘Australia team’? We need to note three definitions:

(1) A noun ‘is a word for a person, place, or thing. (You might like to think of nouns as “naming” words.) Everything we can see or talk about is represented by a word that names it. That “naming” word is called a noun ( So the word ‘team’ in this quotation is a noun.

(2) A proper noun ‘is the given name of a person, place or thing, i.e., its own name (e.g., Michael, New York, Rover). (Note: A proper noun always starts with a capital letter) [ nouns and proper nouns]. So, the word, ‘Australia’, is a proper noun.

What is the function of ‘Australia’ in those sentences? It is a word that describes the ‘team’. It functions as an adjective in the sentences and qualifies the noun, ‘team’.

(3) ‘Adjectives are describing words. Large, grey, and friendly are all examples of adjectives’ (

Since ‘Australia’ functions as a describing word (an adjective) in these sentences, what is the adjective for ‘Australia’? It is Australian (Oxford living dictionaries online 2018. s.v. Australian).

Alien Aquae muleRewritten: ‘Wade was brought back into the Australian team in the home 2016 series against South Africa…. But after underperforming with the bat, Wade was cut from the Australian team ahead of last summer’.

(Image courtesy A Word With Traci)

6. ‘Neither police or the ATSB were expected to be involved in the investigation into what went wrong’ (Crockford 2018).

Grammatical rules for this error are:

Rule 2. Two singular subjects connected by or, either/or, or neither/nor require a singular verb ( 2018. s.v. subject-verb agreement).

We use either… or… to connect items which are the same grammatical type, e.g. words, phrases, clauses….

The opposite of either… or… is neither… nor…. We use it to make negative statements connecting items (Cambridge English Dictionary/Grammar 2018. s.v. Either … or …).clip_image039

Grammar rules forbid the joining of ‘neither’ with ‘or’. It is ‘neither … nor …’

Rewritten:Neither police nor the ATSB was expected to be involved in the investigation into what went wrong’.

7. used an incorrect tense of the verb in its sub-heading to this article, ‘THE first four of the schoolboys trapped in the Thai cave have beat the odds to make it through an unfathomably risky journey(Reynolds 2018).

What is correct or wrong with the tense of the verb, ‘Have beat’? This is USA vs British grammar.

The grammatical rule is:

The past tense of beat is beat. The past participle, which changes the verb to an adverb, is beaten. The adjective form is also beaten.

Sometimes it is heard in the construction got beat. This is incorrect grammatically, but is firmly established in slang, especially in North America (Grammarist 2009-2014. s.v. Beat or beaten).

Alien Aquae mule Rewritten: ‘first four of the schoolboys trapped in the Thai cave have beaten the odds….’

8. Barna Research conducted a survey in the USA of the state of the Bible. One of the main conclusions was, ‘Six in 10 Americans Believe the Bible Has Transformed Their Life’ (Barna Group Inc. 2018).

Alien Aquae mule Rewritten:, ‘Six in 10 Americans Believe the Bible Have Transformed Their Lives.

9. (2018), in its article on the RACQ Bank, had a heading, ‘Who is RACQ Bank?’ Is this correct phrasing of the question, using the relative pronoun, ‘who’?

The grammatical rules are:

The interrogative pronouns who, whom, and whose are used only for reference to people. The interrogative pronouns which and what are used for reference to things (Collins English Dictionary/Grammar 2018. s.v. Interrogative pronouns).

Alien Aquae mule Rewritten: What is RACQ Bank?’

10. Veteran ABC presenter, Phillip Adams, said of ABC CEO, Michelle Guthrie, after her dismissal: ‘The only time we ever saw her is if there was a command performance’ (Duke et al 2018).

Consistency of tenses throughout this sentence requires the use of the past tense, ‘was’ to replace ‘is’.

Alien Aquae mule Rewritten: ‘The only time we ever saw her was if there was a command performance’

11. ‘New South Wales will now the only Australian jurisdiction where abortion remains a criminal offence’ (Caldwell 2018a).

Alien Aquae mule Rewritten: ‘New South Wales will now be the only Australian jurisdiction….’

12. I received this email on 28 November 2018 with the heading, ‘Who is Alinta Energy?’ The same question is asked on the Mozo website.

Alinta Energy is ‘a provider of multiple energy related products’ in Australia.[61] It is a power generation and distribution business.

Alien Aquae mule Rewritten: ‘What is Alinta Energy?’

13. A short article on ‘Forgive us our debts’ by R. Albert Mohler Jr. included this statement: ‘If this does not shock us, then we have grown fare too familiar with the gospel and the glory of God’s grace’.

Alien Aquae mule Rewritten: ‘If this does not shock us, then we have grown far too familiar with the gospel and the glory of God’s grace’.


(courtesy Communities Digital News)

G. Incorrect use of the apostrophe

The rule is:

‘Do not use an apostrophe + s to make a regular noun plural’ (Grammar Monster 2018).[62] Another explanation of this grammatical rule was:

Rule 1b. Many common nouns end in the letter s (lens, cactus, bus, etc.). So do a lot of proper nouns (Mr. Jones, Texas, Christmas). There are conflicting policies and theories about how to show possession when writing such nouns. There is no right answer; the best advice is to choose a formula and stay consistent ( 2018. s.v. apostrophes).

clip_image042(image courtesy Grammar Monster)

1. On the site of a building and pest control business, it stated: ‘You must verify that the quality of the structure is top notch and ensure your getting the best value for your money’.[63]

Here ‘your’ means ‘you are’ and the abbreviation is ‘you’re’.

heart Rewritten: ‘and ensure you’re getting the best value for your money’.

2. In a friendly international football (soccer) match between England and The Netherlands in Amsterdam, the heading of the article was: ‘England fans behaviour ‘appalling’: police chief’ (Reuters 2018).

heart Rewritten: ‘England fans’ behaviour “appalling”: police chief’

3. ‘Now if something is seen as harmful, then it won’t be long before there are calls for it’s regulation – whether it’s drugs, or speech’ (Balogh 2018a).

“It’s” means ‘it is’. Here the possessive pronoun should be used, ‘its regulation’ and ‘they are drugs or speech’. Drugs is a plural noun, so requires a plural verb ‘to be’, i.e. ‘are’.

heart Rewritten: long before there are calls for its regulation – whether they are drugs, or speech’.

4. In a report on changes to the ABC radio presenters, it was stated: ‘A woman will earn a hosting guernsey on breakfast for the first time in years as weekends presenter Rebecca Levingston joins Craig Zonca at the start of the day’ (Branco 2017).

heart Rewritten: ‘… breakfast for the first time in years as weekends’ presenter Rebecca Levingston joins Craig Zonca’.

5. ‘This is the third incident this month for Australia’s biggest telecommunications company….’ (Duke 2018).

heart Rewritten: month for Australia’s biggest telecommunications’ company.

6. ‘To read the article in it’s original context please go to the website of The Gospel Coalition Australia’ (Millar 2018:6).[64] Following this rule for the apostrophe for plural nouns, it should read, “telecommunications’ company’

heart Rewritten: ‘To read the article in its original context please go to the website …’

7. ‘Whether you are planning for a loved ones funeral, or future proofing your funeral plans, let us take care of it for you’ (Academy Funerals n.d.).

Rule 1a. Use the apostrophe to show possession. To show possession with a singular noun, add an apostrophe plus the letter s’ ( 2018. s.v. apostrophes).

heart Rewritten: ‘Whether you are planning for a loved one’s funeral, or …’

8. ‘The collapse of one of this Queensland city’s biggest businesses has put hundreds of jobs in jeopardy, and its a situation that even has MPs from both sides of politics in agreement’.[65]

heart Rewritten: ‘…and it’s a situation that even has MPs from both sides of politics in agreement’

9. The Australia Christian Lobby wrote: ‘The changes pushed by Labor and the Greens [in Tasmania’s lower house of parliament] mean that gender will become opt-in for all Tasmanian’s – a move which 95% of 44,000 respondents to a news poll did not agree with’ (Iles 2018).

In this context “Tasmanian’s” is supposed to be the plural noun for more than one Tasmanian, so the correct spelling is the plural, ‘Tasmanians’.

heart Rewritten: ‘ … gender will become opt-in for all Tasmanians …’


(imagecourtesy YouTube)

H. Word order

Frankfurt International School explains the importance of word order in English:

Most English sentences (clauses) conform to the SVO word order. This means that the Subject comes before the Verb, which comes before the Object. Examples: Frankfurt International School

· I (S) bought (V) a new computer (O).

· She (S) doesn’t like (V) dogs (O).

· Why did you (S) do (V) that (O)? [Frankfurt International School n.d.]

This is an example of how the word order in these two Bible versions is contrary to that recommended for English.

1. The New King James Version of the Bible (NKJV) provides this translation of Acts 5:30-31:

30 The God of our fathers raised up Jesus whom you murdered by hanging on a tree. 31 Him God has exalted to His right hand to be Prince and Savior, to give repentance to Israel and forgiveness of sins.

The King James Version (KJV) follows the same word order for Acts 5:31, ‘Him hath God exalted with his right hand to be a Prince and a Saviour’. Even my MS Word auto spellchecker has underlined ‘Him’ to indicate something is incorrect with the spelling or grammar of ‘him’ at the beginning of the sentence. What is the problem?

The English Standard Version translates these two verses as:

30 The God of our fathers raised Jesus, whom you killed by hanging him on a tree. 31 God exalted him at his right hand as Leader and Saviour, to give repentance to Israel and forgiveness of sins.

A literal translation from the NT Greek of verse 31 is: ‘This (man) God a ruler and a saviour, exalted to the right (hand) of him….’

The Greek translated ‘him’ (NKJV) and ‘him’ in the ESV of verse 31 is touton. Grammatically, it is masculine gender, singular number, and accusative case. Accusative is parallel with the English objective case, so this word is not the subject of the sentence, but functions as the object of the sentence.

The NKJV uses correct grammar in translating touton as ‘him’ but places it at the beginning of the sentence because the Greek places it there to give emphasis to ‘him’, i.e. to Jesus as Ruler and Saviour. However, the English word order is more appropriate with the ESV, ‘God exalted him’ and the NLT, ‘Then God put him in the place of honor at his right hand as Prince and Savior. He did this so the people of Israel would repent of their sins and be forgiven’.

4 Color Ball with Check Mark Rewritten NKJV: Acts 5:31 should read, ‘God has exalted Him to His right hand to be Prince and Savior’.

The image shows a head with question marks surrounding it.

(courtesy Neuroscience News)

I. Conclusion

Are you persuaded the English language is demonstrating a downgrade in the importance of grammar?

It is a sad state of affairs when Australia’s national broadcaster, the ABC, did not use an apostrophe with the adjective in this phrase, ‘weekends presenter’. Professor of Divinity, Dr N T Wright, wrote, ‘‘Religious pluralism and syncretism was the order of the day right across the ancient world’.

He’s an outstanding NT scholar but I found this grammatical anomaly somewhat paradoxical. This statement on his homepage is based on a lecture he gave at Auburn Avenue Presbyterian Church (Monroe, Louisiana).

Everyday Christian forum posters present writings that often contain grammatical errors. They don’t seem to take grammatical rules, including punctuation and forming paragraphs, seriously. This was one example from above: What’s your thoughts about the ‘Reason for God’ by Timothy Keller?

This has been an ad hoc gathering of examples collected from my everyday reading, demonstrating the demise of English grammar, identified in writings from around the world at various levels of learning.

Personally, I cringe when I hear these grammatical errors committed verbally and in writing by people from a wide range of backgrounds.

However, I am a voluntary member of the language police force. Grammar was important for me in Grade 1 at primary school. It is critical for me now that I have a university earned PhD in New Testament (University of Pretoria, South Africa).


J. Works consulted

AAP 2016. Superannuation is Gordon Nuttall’s only income: court. Brisbane Times (online), 6 December. Available at: (Accessed 7 December 2016).

AAP 2017. Queensland Speaker Peter Wellington backs burqa ban. Brisbane Times (online), 18 January. Available at: (Accessed 18 January 2017).

AAP 2018. Australia exorcise World Cup demons with ODI series win over India. Brisbane Times (online), 15 March. Available at: (Accessed 15 March 2018).

AAP 2018a. Marsh hurt in injury scare for Aussies. Brisbane Times (online), 9 July. Available at: (Accessed 10 July 2018).

Academy Funerals n.d. Dignity beyond all expectations (online). Available at: (Accessed 14 July 2018).

ABC regional reporters 2018. The big dry: ‘See us, hear us, help us’ (online). Available at: (Accessed 2 August 2018).

Balogh, A 2017. How to survive the moral revolution: What you should know. See Your World Through a Christian Lens. See Your World through a Christian Lens (online), 5 December. Available at: (Accessed 5 December 2017).

Balogh, A 2018a. 5 Reflections From the Israel Folau Media Storm. See Your World through a Christian Lens (online), 9 April. Available at: (Accessed 10 April 2018).

Balogh, A 2018b. Threats To Religious Freedom: An Interview With ‘Freedom For Faith’. The Gospel Coalition Australia (online), 4 April. Available at: (Accessed 10 April 2018).

Barna Group Inc. 2018. State of the Bible 2018: Seven Top Findings. Research releases in Faith and Communiity (online), 10 July. Available at: (Accessed 14 July 2018).

Barrett, C 2018a. Rabada charged again in second Test, Australia on brink of defeat. Brisbane Times (online), 12 March. Available at: (Accessed 12 March 2018).

Barrett, C 2018b. Smith and Warner receive 12-month bans, Bancroft nine months. Brisbane Times (online), 28 March. Available at: (Accessed 28 March 2018).

Baum, G 2016. Time, not money, the reason for split with Nine, says James Brayshaw. Brisbane Times (online), 13 December. Available at: (Accessed 14 December 2016).

Branco, J 2017. Major changes to ABC Radio Brisbane for 2018. Brisbane Times (online), 6 December. Available at: (Accessed 6 December 2017).

Brown, A 2018. Queensland byelection prompts LNP to ‘defer’ legal fight: political expert. Brisbane Times (online), 2 July. Available at: (Accessed 2 July 2018).

Brown, M 2017. Michael Chamberlain dies from complications of leukaemia. Brisbane Times (online), 9 January. Available at: (Accessed 16 January 2017).

Burpengary Doctors 2016. Homepage (online), 4 October. Available at: (Accessed 11 December 2017).

Caldwell, F 2017. One Nation MP Steve Dickson says politicians should go after policy rather than people. Brisbane Times (online), 9 February. Available at: (Accessed 10 February 2017).

Caldwell, F 2018. ‘Unjust and unfair’ marriage laws to change in Queensland. Brisbane Times, 6 March. Available at: (Accessed 7 March 2018).

Caldwell, F 2018a. Abortion will no longer be a crime in Queensland after historic vote, Brisbane Times (online), 17 October. Available at: (Accessed 17 October 2018).

Caxton legal centre inc 2017. New housing laws to protect residents of Manufactured Home Parks and Retirement Villages. Available at: (Accessed 12 November 2017).

Chappell, I 2017. Australia’s versatile squad throws up plenty of choices. ESPNcricinfo (online), 22 January. Available at: (Accessed 22 January 2017).

Cherny, D 2018. Grand prix question mark over Shield final at Junction. The Sydney Morning Herald (online), 28 February. Available at: (Accessed 28 February 2018).

Clark, A 2017. Identity of fishing friends killed in CQ accident revealed, The Morning Bulletin (online), 25 April. Available at: (Accessed 25 April 2017).

Clun, R 2017a. Holocaust denial flyers distributed around University of Queensland widely condemned. Brisbane Times (online), 5 May. Available at: (Accessed 6 May 2017).

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(courtesy Just Publishing Advice)

K.  Notes

[1] ‘Language police’ is a term designed to get rid of the pejorative connotations of ‘grammar Nazi’. This person is a stickler for grammatical correctness in books, articles, blogs, online posts, email, texts, etc. See the article at Sentence First (online), ‘Language police: check your privilege and priorities’. Available at: (Accessed 18 March 2018).

[2] Available at: (Accessed 28 April 2018).

[3] Available at: (Accessed 26 November 2018).

[4] Available at: (Accessed 28 April 2018).

[5] Throughout this article, I will use the abbreviation s.v. when referring to dictionary terms, encyclopaedia articles and explanations from grammar books. S.v. means:’(in textual references) under the given word or heading. ”the dictionary lists ‘rural policeman’ s.v. ‘rural’”. The origin of the abbreviation is: “From Latin sub voce or sub verbo, literally ‘under the word or voice’” (Oxford Dictionaries online 2018. Definitions, s.v.).

[6] Available at: (Accessed 27 November 2018).

[7] Ibid.

[8] Grammar Monster n.d. What are Prepositions? (online). Available at: (Accessed 27 November 2018).

[9] Available at: (Accessed 27 November 2018).

[10] Ibid.

[11] All of the above definitions of various objects and examples given are from Grammar 2018. What is an object? (with examples), online. Available at: (Accessed 27 November 2018).

[12] ‘’Subjective pronouns’ function as a subject of a sentence. Objective pronouns’ are pronouns functioning as objects of verbs or prepositions. This table is from Grammar Monster [2018. s.v. What is a preposition? (with examples)].

[13] Brisbane Times 2017. Steve Price, John Laws and the day their feud turned ugly (online), 3 February. Available at: (Accessed 3 February 2017).

[14] Oxford dictionaries 2018. Can you end a sentence with a preposition? (online). Available at: (Accessed 27 November 2018).

[15] Available at: (Accessed 27 November 2018).

[16] Christian 2018. Millennials desire socialism instead of capitalism (online), Drew#182, 25 March. Available at: (Accessed 25 March 2018).

[17] Australian Government, Department of Human Services, Centrelink. The form is available at: (Accessed 16 January 2017).

[18] Christian 2017. Questions for Christians (Q&A). Couple of Questions. Wrg1405#12, Available at: (Accessed 21 January 2017).

[19] Available at: Registration and Ordination Guidelines, Adopted by the Board of Queensland Baptists, 25 June 2009, section 5.4, Assembly 22.05.2009. (Accessed 18 June 2018).

[20] Christian 2017. Bible translations (online), DeaconDean#162, 25 March. This person is a seminary student. Available at: (Accessed 25 April 2017).

[21] Available at: (Accessed 27 November wo18).

[22] This is the USA spelling. The Australian/British spelling is programmes.

[23] ‘A degloving injury is a type of avulsion in which an extensive section of skin is completely torn off the underlying tissue, severing its blood supply. It is named by analogy to the process of removing a glove. Typically, degloving injuries affect the extremities and limbs’ (Wikipedia 2017. s v degloving). ‘Avulsion in general refers to a tearing away’ (Wikipedia 2016. s v avulsion).

[24] A ‘goon’ is ‘a silly, foolish, or eccentric person….’ (Oxford Dictionaries Online 2018. s.v. goon).

[25] Available at: (Accessed 16 October 2017).

[26] Available at: (Accessed 4 January 2018).

[27] Emailer sent, titled, ‘What a week! School started back, the PM came to answer your questions and the nbn are here to help’. Sent from email:, 3.17pm, 26 January 2018.

[28] Christian 2018. Mary’s Choice (online). Reba #5. Available at: (Accessed 17 February 2018).

[29] Available at: (Accessed 11 March 2018).

[30] Available at: (Accessed 29 November 2018).

[31] Sent from (Accessed 3 April 2018).

[32] Available at: (Accessed 12 April 2018). I advised the editor of this grammatical error, so by the time this article is published, a correction of the grammar may have taken place.

[33] Available at: (Accessed 12 April 2018).

[34] Christian 2017. The question thread (online), Papa Zoom#3, 5 November. Available at: (Accessed 25 April 2018).

[35] Christian 2018. How can the Trinity be one God? (online), StoveBolts #25, 23 May.. Available at:. (Accessed 24 May 2018).

[36] Queensland Government 1995-2005. Care at Home (online). Available at: (Accessed 30 June 2018).

[37] Pauline Hanson’s One Nation 2018. Available at: (Accessed 10 July 2018).

[38] Christian 2018. Do Modern Christians undervalue Christian History? (online), The Times#97, 4 September. Available at: (Accessed 4 September 2018).

[39] Queensland Parliament 2018. Proposed 3-year trial of conservation hunting in Queensland State Forests (e-petition online). Available at: (Accessed 7 September 2018).

[40] Queensland Parliament 2018. Retain the current law in relation to compulsory wearing of bicycle helmets (e-petition online), posting date 5/11/2018. Available at: (Accessed 11 November 2018).

[41] espncricinfo 2018. India tour of Australia at Sydney, 25 November. Available at: (Accessed 26 November 2018.

[42] Available at: (Accessed 27 November 2018).

[43] The article from which this quote is gleaned, in my understanding, has provided a brilliant expose of how the University of Iowa has demonstrated discrimination against a Christian group.

[44] This is the spelling for an Australian readership.

[45] Available at: (Accessed 14 March 2018).

[46] Available at: (Accessed 27 November 2018).

[47] ‘Dynamic and formal equivalence are two methods or styles used to convert source text (e.g. Hebrew or Greek) into another language (e.g. English). The Dynamic (also known as functional) method attempts to convey the THOUGHT expressed in the source text using equivalent expressions from a contemporary language like English (‘thought for thought’ translating). The formal equivalence method (also known as a literal translation) attempts to translate the source text WORD for WORD into another language’ ( n.d. s.v. Dynamic and Formal Equivalence Definitions).

[48] Christian 2018. Is limiting free speech becoming acceptable? (online), 19 April, JohnDB#16. Available at: (Accessed 19 April 2018).

[49] Parliament of Australia 2018. E-petition number EN0522 (online). Available at: (Accessed 21 April 2018).

[50] The Wesleyan Methodist Church 2018. Who we are (online)l. Available at: (Accessed 18 June 2018).

[51] Yuyutsu 2018. What is your view for one to worship humans? Online Opinion. 6 July., p. 22. Available at: (Accessed 6 July 2018).

[52] Available at: (Accessed 7 August 2018).

[53] Christian 2018. Are all people infected by sin? (online), WIP#178. Available at: (Accessed 24 October 2018).

[54] ‘We’, being the subject of the sentence and in the nominative case, replaces ‘us’, which is objective case.

[55] I received this message back as a feedback email on 4 May 2017: ‘We have received your feedback email – (3696918734016757457)’, I used the feedback icon to respond to Ben Davis at: (Accessed 4 May 2017).

[56] In British [and Australian] English, focussing is the present participle of the verb, focus (Cambridge English Dictionary 2018. s.v. focussing).

[57] Available at: (Accessed 28 November 2018).

[58] The Australian spelling is ‘centre’ and not ‘center’.

[59] Available at: (Accessed 5 March 2018).

[60] The Australian spelling is ‘centre’ and not ‘center’.

[61] Mozo 2008-2018. Alinta Energy Electricity (online). Available at: (Accessed 28 November 2018).

[62] Available at: (Accessed 27 November wo18).

[63] Caboolture Building & Pest Inspections 2017. Available at: (Accessed 6 September 2017).

[64] The incorrect grammar is not in the online edition but only in the acknowledgement of the source of the article at the beginning of the print version.

[65] This is a front page story with a sub-heading in The Courier-Mail 2018. Builder collapse gravely concerning’ for region (online), 18 October. Available at: (Accessed 18 October 2018). I was unable to access the exact URL because it is for account-only subscribers.

Copyright © 2018 Spencer D. Gear. This document last updated at Date: 1 December 2018.


Can human beings know good from bad?


By Spencer D Gear PhD

Is it possible for human beings to discern good versus evil moral actions? What is the standard by which a person or nation decides if behaviour is pleasing or evil?

The Christian is clear as to what is evil because Scripture declares it:

‘If there is no resurrection, “Let’s feast and drink, for tomorrow we die!” Don’t be fooled by those who say such things, for “bad company corrupts good character”’ (I Cor 15:32-33 NLT).

They know the deeper problem: ‘

“The heart is more deceitful than all else
And is desperately sick;
Who can understand it?

“I, the LORD, search the heart,
I test the mind,
Even to give to each man according to his ways,
According to the results of his deeds (Jer 17:9-10 NLT).

As for the godless, secularist, I’d like you to meet Allan. This is my online interchange with him. He pursued a few different topics.

Allan: He agreed with Dan: ‘We [human beings] are indeed fallen angels’.[1]

Spencer: Instead of believing Dan, why don’t you obtain your understanding from Scripture? We are human beings, created in the image of God. Adam corrupted that and we would have done the same (Gen 1-3; Rom 5).[2]

See: What does it mean that humanity is made in the image of God (imago dei)? [Got Questions Ministries]

Allan: ‘Personally, I believe it [heaven] is some sort of reunification with a larger whole that is one unified field of energy, but still many individual conscious self-aware personalities. Experiencing unbelievable all consuming euphoria and overwhelming pure love’.

Spencer: When you invent ‘I believe’ personally, you are off into presupposition land.

Allan: ‘Heaven, therefore, is probably not a place, but rather a state of being?’


clip_image004(image courtesy

Even though your statement ends with a question mark, there is no need to hypothesise like this. Jesus was clear: ‘My Father’s house has many rooms; if that were not so, would I have told you that I am going there to prepare a place for you?’ (John 14:2 NIV). Heaven is definitely a place, so says the Messiah.

Allan: ‘But instead, quote chapter and verse to justify any position however awful, inherently evil, depraved indefensible or untenable?’

Spencer: I agree Allan that some horrible things have been done with a label of Christianity or Christ. I do not endorse any of these. I’m thinking of the slaughter during the Crusades, and sexual abuse in churches and church institutions.

The apostle Paul could call himself ‘the worst of sinners’. In spite of the sinful actions of many within the church, this I know; ‘”Christ Jesus came into the world to save sinners”—and I (the apostle Paul) am the worst of them all’ (1 Tim 1:15). I apply Paul’s description to me, the chief of sinners, but God’s grace reaches beyond our sin through repentance, forgiveness and faith.

Allan: ‘Even as Herr Goebbels and co turned up at their church each Sunday morning and sang Christian hymns and recited Christian prayers from a Christian prayer book.
‘Without question, they were hypocrites pure and simple as are those who protect, forgive and succour paedophilia and paedophiles’.

(photo Joseph Goebbels, Chancellor of Germany, propaganda minister, World War 2, courtesy Wikipedia)

Spencer: We can point fingers at Hitler, Goebbels, church child abuse, etc (and we should), but when God examines me, His conclusion is, ‘The human heart is the most deceitful of all things, and desperately wicked. Who really knows how bad it is? But I, the Lord, search all hearts and examine secret motives. I give all people their due rewards, according to what their actions deserve’ (Jeremiah 17:9-10).
We are all not fallen angels but wicked human beings, from the inside out. That’s God’s assessment, not my invention.

Allan: ‘I think we know good from evil if never ever having read a bible or holy scripture’.

Spencer: Without God’s moral absolutes in Scripture (e.g. 10 commandments, the Sermon on the Mount – Matt 5-7), each person does what he/she believes is right. Lenin chose the Gulag, Hitler’s Holocaust wiped out about 6 million Jews – 1 million being children – some men rape women and children, others commit terrorist acts, while some in the banking industry cheat customers.

Allan: ‘Good as we know and understand it has its foundations on love’.

Spencer: Yep, sexual love of children, erotic love of porn and prostitution, promiscuous love of many leading to HIV (AIDS), syphilis, gonorrhoea and other STDs. ‘Love’, however it has been defined, has led to much damage and illness children and adults.

Allan: ‘The Christian Bible and the lessons as espoused by the Rabbi Jesus, was very-very different from the one reinvented, revised and massively edited by the cronies of Constantine … at the first synod, around 350 AD?’

Spencer: Are you an historical theologian and professor of Bibliology (the doctrine of the written Word) who knows the development of the Bible to write that kind of postmodern deconstruction?

Allan: ‘And relied on mainly four, non-eyewitness, plagiarised and systematically embellished gospels, for its Alleged authority?’

Spencer: Are you talking about the 4 Gospels? Luke’s Gospel differs from your deconstruction where he obtained his information from those who handed down eye-witness accounts (Luke 1:1-4).

You don’t like the idea of the sacramental confessional. Neither do I. However, Jesus’ exhorted us to seek Him for forgiveness: ‘Forgive us our sins, as we have forgiven those who sin against us’ (Matt 6:11). This is not an appeal to father confessor but to Jesus himself.

Allan: ‘Then do something real inside your political organisations to clean out the evil at its very heart. The time for covering it up/excusing/justifying it? Is well and truly over!’

Spencer: Do you really mean that? It was you who stated: ‘Evil produced at all levels by similar if converse levels of hate?’

What is your cure for getting rid of the evil in the human person, political establishment and terrorists?


[1] The following quotes by Allan B are from his comments to the article by Peter Sellick, ‘The knowledge of good and evil’, On Line Opinion (online), 13 November 2018. Posted by Alan B., Tuesday, 13 November 2018 10:42:41 AM. Available at: (Accessed 14 November 2018).

[2] The following is from ibid., Posted by OzSpen, Wednesday, 14 November 2018 2:12:51 PM.




Copyright © 2018 Spencer D. Gear. This document last updated at Date: 14 November 2018.


Fourteen Holey Bible arguments against Margaret Court

A Note to Dr Robyn J Whitaker

margaret Robyn J Whitaker

Rev. Dr. Margaret Court (photo courtesy| Dr Robyn J Whitaker (photo

Victory Life International, Perth, WA) | courtesy University of Divinity)

By Spencer D Gear PhD

A shorter edition of this article was published in On Line Opinion, 7 November 2018, Holey Bible arguments against Margaret Court

What would cause many in the tennis community, mass media and social media to get up in arms about world champion tennis player, Margaret Court’s, support for heterosexuality. She has boycotted flying with Qantas because it supports homosexual marriage. Some in the Christian community oppose Dr Court’s stand against homosexual marriage.

This is one example of a Christian who took Dr Margaret Court AO MBE to task. It is my response to ‘Note to Margaret Court: the Bible isn’t meant to be read that literally’, by Robyn J Whitaker, Trinity College, 2 June 2017 (ABC News, Brisbane, Qld)

What are the holes in Whitaker’s arguments against Court and Court’s support for heterosexual marriage over Whitaker’s backing of modern Christian families that include gay couples? Here is what I found (In some places, I’ll address Dr Whitaker as ‘you’ and ‘your’).

Image result for clipart single numbers Hole 1: It starts with Whitaker’s title that the Bible is not meant to be understood as literally as Margaret Court reads it.

Then she does exactly what she told Margaret not to do. She literally accept the fact that there are 66 books in the Bible; Abraham fathered children with his concubine as well as his wife.

Her literal interpretation continued: She accepted that David and Solomon had entire palaces full of wives and concubines and that polygamy was common.  Slaves were used for concubines. There was no hint in her article that these were supposed to be interpreted metaphorically or symbolically.

Whitaker made self-defeating statements with her examples. She failed to meet her own standard of the Bible being read too literally. The article cannot live up to the criteria she set in the title.

So her self-refuting statements are of necessity false. She violated the law of non-contradiction. This states that A and non-A cannot be true at the same time and in the same sense. This promoted a contradiction when she accused Margaret Court of reading the Bible “that literally” when she did exactly the same with your reading of the Bible.

Image result for clipart single numbers Hole 2: What is literal interpretation? She assumed we knew. When I was in high school in Qld, I learned that to understand a document literally meant to accept the plain meaning of the text. This includes the use of figures of speech and symbols.

My seminary text for biblical interpretation was Berkeley Mickelsen’s , Interpreting the Bible. He wrote that “literal” means the customarily acknowledged meaning of an expression in its particular context. For example, when Christ declared that he was the door, the metaphorical meaning of “door” would be obvious. Although metaphorical, this evident meaning is included in the literal interpretation.

Therefore, “by literal meaning the writer refers to the usual or customary sense conveyed by words or expressions” (Mickelsen 1963:17). So when I read Whitaker’s article online, I assumed that figures of speech were included in the literal meaning. That’s how I understood her  statement that David’s and Solomon’s wives and concubines “served as symbols of their power and status”.

The Cambridge Dictionary (2018. s.v. literal) states the adjectival meaning of literal is, ‘having exactly the same meaning as the basic or original meaning of a word or expression’. e.g. a literal interpretation of the Australian Constitution.

Iain Provan summarised his view of ‘literal’. It harmonises with The Cambridge Dictionary definition: Literally means that Scripture is read with “its apparent communicative intentions as a collection of texts from the past, whether in respect to smaller or larger sections of text”.

This means readers “take full account of the nature of the language in which these intentions are embedded and revealed as components of Scripture’s unfolding covenantal Story – doing justice to such realities as literary convention, idiom, metaphor, and typology or figuration”.

To read Scripture (or any literature) literally is to try to understand “what Scripture is saying to us in just the ways in which we seek to understand what other people are saying to us – taking into account … their age, culture, customs, and language, as well as the verbal context within which individuals words and sentences are located. This is what it means to read “literally,” in pursuit of the communicative intent of God – in search of what to believe, how to live, and what to hope for” (Provan 2017:105).

I would be in strife if I didn’t read Whitaker’s “Note to Margaret Court” literally. Or, should I put a postmodern or allegorical spin on it and make it mean whatever I, the reader, determine?

Related image Hole 3: You claim that Margaret Court was wrong in her open letter to Qantas and on Channel Ten’s “The Project” because she stated that the Bible confirms that marriage is a union of a man and a woman.

Which standard did you use to judge that Mrs Court’s analysis was wrong and yours was correct? Your article concluded that the Bible describes family life that is ancient, different, reflecting patriarchal structures or arranged marriages in early Christianity and is not for today.

In addition, you seem to have brought into your new concept of marriage something that you oppose – “culturally bound ideology”. For you, it includes gay couples and “Christian values of love, justice and inclusion found throughout the Bible and is why so many Christians support marriage equality”.

It is you who has promoted that last statement in your politically correct support of homosexual marriage. Again you make a self-defeating statement. You oppose the “culturally bound ideology” of the Bible’s structure of family life, but you promote your own culturally bound contemporary ideology of marriage equality and modern Christian families including gay couples.

If you were to agree with the founder of Christianity, Jesus Christ, you would have the same opinion as he had regarding marriage: “’A man will leave his father and mother and be united to his wife, and the two will become one flesh’. So they are no longer two, but one flesh. Therefore what God has joined together, let no one separate” (Matthew 19:5-6).

Jesus was an enthusiastic supporter of heterosexual marriage. He did not state that a man should leave his parents and be joined with his male partner and become one flesh with him.

Margaret Court’s conclusion agrees with that of Jesus Christ. It doesn’t harmonise with your belief that progressives do not offend contemporary political sensibilities, including sexual orientation.

Therefore, your view is contrary to that of Jesus. Margaret Court’s stance on marriage agrees with that of the Saviour and yours is the one at odds with the Bible and the Master.

Related imageHole 4: You have committed an historian’s fallacy in your claims against Margaret Court. This is how you promoted this fallacy:

1. Mrs Court claimed that in the Bible in the past, marriage was a union between a man and a woman.

2. Mrs Court, who makes this claim, did not take into consideration marriage equality that was not taught in biblical times.

3. Therefore, Margaret Court is wrong to claim that the Bible supports heterosexual marriage.

One of the problems with this erroneous reasoning is that it does not deal with the issues at hand, issues such as these:

  • The foundation of the Judeo-Christian worldview is based on Old and New Testament Scriptures.
  • God decided who should be joined together in the beginning of time: ‘A man shall leave his father and his mother and hold fast to his wife and they shall become one flesh’ (Genesis 2:24). Heterosexuality was God’s design.
  • Jesus Christ confirmed this position (Matthew 19:5),
  • As did the apostle Paul (Ephesians 5:31).

Your support of marriage equality over heterosexual marriage is a politically correct line of reasoning and is fallacious because it doesn’t deal with a range of issues biblically, including the Scripture’s perspective on homosexuality (Romans 1:26-27; 1 Corinthians 6:9-11) and the Bible’s support of heterosexual marriage in both Old and New Testaments. It also has been called a political correctness fallacy.

Related image Hole 5: Margaret Court “is even more wrong” to suggest she is being persecuted for her views, you stated. The situation is more serious. She has been bullied. To bully is to “use superior strength or influence to intimidate (someone), typically to force them to do something” (Oxford Dictionary online 2017. s v bully). Mrs Court has been bullied and intimidated by the threat of tennis players to boycott Margaret Court Arena at the 2018 Australian Open Grand Slam tournament.

Girls Being Mean ClipartShe has been bullied by the threat that the arena named in her honour at Melbourne Park should be changed for the 2018 Australian Open.

(image courtesy clipartxtras)

Then there was the ridicule by tennis super-brat and now commentator, John McEnroe, after Mrs Court’s statement that “tennis is full of lesbians”. McEnroe fired back, “This is true and who gives a f***? This is not true and who should give a f***? This is half true and should we really give a f***?” (AAP 2017)

Open lesbian and tennis great, Martina Navratilova, engaged in emotional abuse of Mrs Court in her “open letter from Martina Navratilova to Margaret Court Arena” when she stated:

“It is now clear exactly who Court is: an amazing tennis player, and a racist and a homophobe. Her vitriol is not just an opinion. She is actively trying to keep LGBT people from getting equal rights (note to Court: we are human beings, too). She is demonising trans kids and trans adults everywhere.

“And now, linking LGBT to Nazis, communists, the devil? This is not OK. This is in fact sick and it is dangerous. Kids will suffer more because of this continuous bashing and stigmatising of our LGBT community” (Navratilova 2017).

Navratilova supported the change of name of Margaret Court Arena: “I think the Evonne Goolagong Arena has a great ring to it”. Would you endorse this?

Etihad Stadium crop.jpg(photo Etihad Stadium, courtesy Wikipedia)

Does Whitaker consider the former Etihad Stadium, Melbourne, should have had a name change between 2009-2018? It was sponsored by Etihad Airways, the national airline of the Islamic country, the United Arab Emirates (UAE). It is now known as Docklands’ Stadium.

Was she an advocate to change name of Etihad Stadium during its sponsorship of the stadium?

What is the Islamic view on homosexuality? The Muslim commentary on the Quran, Hadith, states in al-Tirmidhi, Sunan 1:152: [Muhammad said] “Whoever is found conducting himself in the manner of the people of Lot, kill the doer and the receiver”. Another statement from the Hadith is: “Narrated Abdullah ibn Abbas: The Prophet (peace be upon him) said: If you find anyone doing as Lot’s people did, kill the one who does it, and the one to whom it is done’ (Sunan Abu Dawud 38:4447).

Thus, Islam requires capital punishment for both the perpetrator and recipient of what the people of Sodom did.

What did the “people of Lot” do? Lot’s (Lut in Arabic) life is explained in Genesis, chapters 11-14, and 19. He lived in Sodom, a city of open homosexuality (see Genesis 19:4-9). What was the sin of Sodom and Gomorrah? Greg Koukl examined the options in depth and concluded:

We know the men of Sodom and Gomorrah were homosexual, “both young and old, all the people from every quarter” (19:4), to the point of disregarding available women (19:5-8). After they were struck sightless they still persisted (19:11). These men were totally given over to an overwhelming passion that did not abate even when they were supernaturally blinded by angels.

Homosexuality fits the biblical details. It was the sin that epitomized the gross wickedness of Sodom and Gomorrah—the “grave,” “ungodly,” “lawless,” “sensual conduct of unprincipled men” that tormented Lot as he “saw and heard” it “day after day,” the “corrupt desire” of those that went after “strange flesh.”

Islam’s punishment for homosexuality is an extreme treatment compared with what Margaret Court advocated.

Homosexuality may be punishable by imprisonment or death in the UAE. Why didn’t Dr Whitaker support the cancellation of the sponsorship of Etihad Stadium for the sake of the LGBTIQ+ community when Islam is opposed to homosexuality?

It seems inconsistent to me that she wanted to downgrade Mrs Court’s persecution and abuse for her statements on homosexuality but avoid dealing with a Muslim country’s airline’s sponsorship of Etihad Stadium in Australia.

Margaret Court has put up with persecution, abuse and ridicule from the tennis community, mass media, and now pro-LGBTIQ+ bias from Dr Whitaker, a woman representing the Christian community.

Related image Hole 6: You cherry pick a Bible verse without bringing contextual understanding to try to oppose Mrs Court’s teaching ministry as a woman at Victory Life Centre, Perth.

You claim that if the literalism that Mrs Court applied to Genesis on marriage were applied to 1 Timothy 2:12, she would be in hot water because it forbids women to teach or have authority over men.

The facts are that “I am not permitting a woman to teach” focussed especially on the church where Timothy was located at Ephesus. However, in other churches women could prophesy (1 Corinthians 11:5), give a teaching on occasions (1 Corinthians 14:26). Women were not excluded from teaching in Colossians 3:16, ‘Let the message about Christ live among you like a rich treasure. Teach and correct one another wisely’ (NIRV), and the older women were to be good teachers of the younger women (Titus 2:3-4). One of the spiritual gifts is that of teachers (Romans 12:7; 1 Corinthians 12:28). Nothing in these verses indicates the teaching gift is exclusively for men to minister to a mixed gathering.

As a female teacher of males in a church college and university at which you work, and your affiliation with the Uniting Church, you should know that literal interpretation includes examining the use of plain language, figures of speech, literary context, and the cultural context. It is hypocritical, in my view, for you to challenge Margaret Court’s teaching as a minister while you are involved in a related kind of ministry as a female teacher.

Therefore, Margaret Court is not out of order by being a Christian teacher. Interpreting the Bible literally and in context does not lead to your conclusion of Mrs Court being in “hot water” as a female teacher. Rather, she is in the hot seat of being one of God’s gifts to the church and stating publicly exactly what Jesus taught in support of heterosexual marriage and thus rejecting homosexual relationships.

God’s grace as a result of Jesus’ death and resurrection extends to all sinners as Paul illustrated, “Some of you used to do those things. But your sins were washed away. You were made holy. You were made right with God. All of this was done in the name of the Lord Jesus Christ. It was also done by the Spirit of our God’ (1 Corinthians 6:12). What they “used to do” included those who “practised homosexuality” and other sins.

Through Christ’s salvation there is hope for change among those who used to practise homosexuality and other sins.

Please be consistent with your biblical interpretation. You were the one who quoted Galatians 3:28 to affirm that there is no longer Jew or Greek, slave or free, male and female because “all of you are one in Christ Jesus”. That teaching is profoundly troublesome for your statement against Mrs Court as a Christian teacher.

Related image Hole 7: There are holey Bible arguments in what you excluded as much as what you included. Your claim is that polygamy was common in the Old Testament (which is true) and that you don’t hear anyone advocating this as a “biblical view” of marriage.

That is only partially true. A cult group such as the Mormons historically practised polygamy. You fail to mention that this polygamy in the Old Testament was between a man and women and not male to male. It was heterosexual polygamy.

However, are you not aware of a website such as, Polygamy is not only advocated by the Mormons but also, “Idaho evangelical Christian polygamists use the Internet to meet potential spouses”. Christian polygamy also is promoted in:

It is a significant issue in African churches where polygamists are converted to Christ.

Related image Hole 8: What was God’s view of polygamy? His original plan was one man for one woman from the beginning with Adam and Eve (Genesis 1:27; 2:21-25).

That changed when sin entered the human race (Genesis 3) and Lamech had wives (Genesis 4:23). The Law of Moses was clear for the Israelites: “He must not take many wives, or his heart will be led astray” (Deuteronomy 17:17).

Solomon had 700 wives and 300 concubines (1 Kings 11:3). In that same chapter, there is a warning of the consequences of polygamy:

The Lord had warned Israel about women from other nations. He had said, ‘You must not marry them. If you do, you can be sure they will turn your hearts toward their gods.’ But Solomon continued to love them anyway. He wouldn’t give them up (1 Kings 11:2).

Related image Hole 9: You declare the traditional nuclear family can be found in the Bible if we look for it, but it’s not the dominant model. The information given above makes it clear that the nuclear family (with aberrations such as polygamy) was found in the Bible in both New and Old Testaments.

You stated that the Bible doesn’t condemn “what we understand to be loving, mutual LGBTQI relationships today”. This is an imposition on the biblical text which states,

Do you not know that wrongdoers will not inherit the kingdom of God? Do not be deceived: Neither the sexually immoral nor idolaters nor adulterers nor men who have sex with men nor thieves nor the greedy nor drunkards nor slanderers nor swindlers will inherit the kingdom of God (1 Corinthians 6:9-10, emphasis added).

Another translation of “men who have sex with men” is “male prostitutes, sodomites”.

Those who practise homosexuality are prevented from entering the kingdom of God – along with wrongdoers, deceivers, the sexually immoral, idolaters, adulterers, thieves, the greedy, drunkards, slanderers and swindlers.

The New Testament does not allow or stress homosexual relationships. Its statement is clear nonetheless: “Since sexual immorality is occurring, each man should have sexual relations with his own wife, and each woman with her own husband” (1 Corinthians 7:2). It’s a serious violation of Scripture when you want to harmonise a verse like this with ”loving, mutual LGBTQI relationships today”.

clip_image024 Hole 10: You make a case for faith being what makes a person a Christian and not family structures or sexuality. That is not what Jesus taught: “By their fruit you will recognize them. Do people pick grapes from thornbushes, or figs from thistles?” (Matthew 7:16). By the fruit of homosexual relationships, will you recognize Christians? The biblical evidence says, “No”.

Yes, faith in Christ alone for salvation is the primary requisite. However, 1 Corinthians 6:9-11 declares the people with certain kinds of behaviour will not enter God’s kingdom. Homosexuality is one such activity. Faith needs to be demonstrated through God’s kind of works, not works defined by political correctness (see James 2).

clip_image026 Hole 11: You stated that Mrs Court’s “culturally bound ideology” is rejected by “biblical scholars and mainstream Christian churches”. Here you have committed the Appeal to Common Belief fallacy.

When you claim that a particular group of people – biblical scholars and mainstream Christian churches – accept the anti-literal interpretation as true, you have not presented evidence for the claim. It is erroneous reasoning.

This is careless thinking and is a dangerous way to accept information.

This is your faulty reasoning:

  • Many people (scholars and mainstream Church people) believe in a non-literal interpretation of what Margaret Court accepts literally.
  • Therefore, the non-literal interpretation is correct.

clip_image028 Hole 12: Your statement that “in the New Testament, Jesus said nothing about homosexual relationships or marriage, except that people should not divorce” is a diversion.

There was no need for Jesus to affirm same-sex relationships because his definition of marriage excluded them. He was not silent but defined the marriage union as between a man and a woman (Matthew 19:5).

clip_image030 Hole 13: Your assertion that many Christians are not represented by the views of Margaret Court or the “so-called Australian Christian Lobby”. This commits a Hasty Generalisation fallacy, also known as argument from small numbers. Ask  Australian rugby union star, Israel Folau, about that!

You have drawn a conclusion from a small sample size (your estimate of “many Christians”), rather than examining statistics that are in line with the average situation. Your debunking of Mrs Court’s view and that of the Australian Christian Lobby because they do not line up with your “many Christians” of another view is deceptive reasoning.

AustralianChristianLobbyLogo2011a.jpg(image courtesy wikipedia)

A better solution would be to examine the statistics for the mainline churches versus the evangelical churches, including Pentecostal churches.

USA church growth expert, Ed Stetzer, has a particular interest in what is happening in the Australian church. He has analysed the Australian church scene and reported in the Bible Society Live Light, (12 May 2015) that too many churches are stagnant.

His observation of the Western world, including the Australian outlook, is that “mainline Protestantism” in the USA and its counterparts in the rest of the English speaking world are “rapidly declining”. He used the Uniting Church of Australia as a representative example, but this could be applied to other members of the National Council of Churches in Australia (NCC). He expects this trend of progressive Protestant decline to continue.

By contrast, evangelicalism (represented by Margaret Court and the Australian Christian Lobby) is growing in Australia. His view is that some of this may be partly related to those moving from NCC churches.

Stetzer said that the majority of Protestant Australians who attend church go to a conservative church. It may not call itself evangelical but is influenced by that movement.

A survey of 1,015 adults at Easter 2015 found that “just over half (52%) of Australian’s believe that God exists as the creator of the universe and Supreme Being. These findings have yielded similar results to the same question asked of the Australian public 6 years ago” (McCrindle Research).

According to the 2016 National Church Life Survey, the Pentecostals have overtaken Anglicans as Australia’s second largest religious group by attendance, behind the Catholic Church (

This should account for Stetzer’s comment that the large numbers of Protestant Australians attending church are conservative. He considered this represented the majority of Australian Protestants. I consider that a better assessment would be to state that a significant number of Protestant Australians attend conservative churches.

Therefore, Dr Whitaker, to dumb down the views of Margaret Court and the Australian Christian Lobby on homosexuality as “not representative” of “many Christians” is to commit the Appeal to Popularity fallacy. This fallacy invokes the popularity of a proposition to provide evidence of its truthfulness.

Here you have committed this fallacy:

  • Many Christians promote modern Christian families that include gay couples and are not represented by Mrs Court’s or the Australian Christian Lobby’s views.
  • Therefore, the truth is that the modern Christian family includes gay couples.

This is invalid reasoning because it does not engage with a contextual interpretation of the biblical texts and the statistical divide between mainline Protestants and evangelical churches.

clip_image032 Hole 14: It is acceptable to send a player of rugby league, rugby union, ice hockey and basketball to the “sin bin” for certain offences against the rules of the games.

One of the largest holes in your agenda, Dr Whitaker, is your avoidance of the key factor – yes, the key factor – that has screwed up our worldviews. This is the problem of sin that has infiltrated every human being and our culture. “God shows his anger from heaven against all sinful, wicked people who suppress the truth by their wickedness” (Romans 1:18).

Image result for christart Sin(image courtesy Clipart Library)

Sin entered the world through Adam (Romans 5:12) but this sin not only screwed up human beings and their relationships, it also contaminated the universe.

God told Adam that because he listened to his wife (not his male partner) and ate from the tree from which God commanded him not to eat, then, “Cursed is the ground because of you” (Genesis 3:17).

However, you have been negligent in eliminating the problem of sin and its influence in Old Testament polygamy and other aberrations of marriage, including homosexual marriage, heterosexual adultery, and promiscuity (sleeping around).

The teaching on sin is central to Christianity. Sin consists of acts of offence against God and breaking his laws. “There is no one on earth who is righteous, no one who does what is right and never sins” (Ecclesiastes 7:20; Romans 3:10-12).

However, the contamination of sin in relationships was missing from your article. There is no point in Jesus’ death and resurrection for redemption if there is no need to be liberated from the guilt of sin. Jesus Christ “gave his life to free us from every kind of sin, to cleanse us, and to make us his very own people, totally committed to doing good deeds” (Titus 2:14).

There was no need to be freed from the sin of homosexuality or polygamy in your presentation. The sin problem left a big hole in your argument.


There’s a huge gap between Dr Margaret Court’s holy Bible and Dr Robyn Whitaker’s holey Bible on the authority of Scripture that contains teaching on homosexuality, gay couples, marriage equality, polygamy, heterosexuality and sexual purity..

I found 14 holes in Dr Whitaker’s case against Dr Court. There are possibly more. It is a serious situation when Whitaker castigates Court’s views when heterosexual and not homosexual relationships are supported by Jesus Himself.

You have bought into the contemporary, pro-homosexual, politically correct agenda that receives vast mass media coverage. Margaret Court and the Australian Christian Lobby have promoted the biblical mandate of heterosexual marriage, which was supported by Jesus, the apostle Paul and has been the norm since the beginning of time.

I recommend that you make an apology to Margaret Court and the Australian Christian Lobby for promoting your own views over those endorsed by Scripture – all in the name of your being a representative of Christianity.

Works consulted

AAP 2017. John McEnroe makes light of Margaret Court same-sex marriage saga. The Sydney Morning Herald (online), 5 June. Available at: (Accessed 25 October 2018).

Mickelsen, A B 1963. Interpreting the Bible. Grand Rapids, Michigan: Wm. B. Eerdmans Publishing Company.

Navratilova, M 2017. An open letter from Martina Navratilova to Margaret Court Arena. The Sydney Morning Herald, 1 June. Available at: (Accessed 25 October 2018).

Provan, I 2017. The Reformation and the Right Reading of Scripture. Waco, Texas: Baylor University Press.


Copyright © 2018 Spencer D. Gear. This document last updated at Date: 12 November 2018.

Circular Reasoning: Mark 16:9-20

(courtesy Exposing PseudoAstronomy

By Spencer D Gear PhD

The Textus Receptus, on which the KJV was based, was supported by a few late MSS gathered by Erasmus. See information on Desiderius Erasmus.

These Byzantine manuscripts (MSS) contain this longer ending. The earlier Alexandrian text-type does not contain this longer ending. This is exemplified in the Codex Sinaiticus.


Matthew 6:4-32 (Codex Sinaiticus) (Courtesy Wikipedia)

Most modern translations follow the older Alexandrian text-type and we find some comment like this from the English Standard Version after Mark 16:8, ‘[Some of the earliest manuscripts do not include 16:9-20.]’1

1.  An issue with Mark’s long ending

I was directed to this article ‘to clarify for any who are confused [over the short vs long ending of Mark 16]. Interesting that some “scholars” muddy the waters and some clarify them. As always, careful research is needed’.

The article by James Snapp Jr is: ”Mark 16:9-20 – Sorting Out Some Common Mistakes . When I did some ‘careful research’ on Snapp Jr’s article, I discovered the following:

2.  Reasonable discussion shut down: Circular reasoning

A greater problem for me is the begging the question logical fallacy (or circular reasoning) Snapp committed.

What is a begging the question fallacy?

Any form of argument where the conclusion is assumed in one of the premises. Many people use the phrase “begging the question” incorrectly when they use it to mean, “prompts one to ask the question”. That is NOT the correct usage. Begging the question is a form of circular reasoning

Logical Form:

Claim X assumes X is true.

Therefore, claim X is true (source: Logically Fallacious)

This is how he committed the begging the question fallacy:

2.1  Beginning of the article

He began the article from this perspective:

They [preachers] approached their trusted commentaries and found . . . a spectacular mess. The amount of misinformation that continues to circulate about these 12 verses is staggering. Here are 12 claims about Mark 16:9-20 that should not be taken at face value.

To support Mk 16:9-20, he spoke of those commentaries that excluded these verses that contained ‘a spectacular mess … of misinformation’. So, he wants us to understand the opponents of the long  ending as supporting this mess of misinformation. 

Therefore, I  can fill in the first part of the …

Logical Form:

Claim X is that the commentators supporting the short ending contain ‘a spectacular mess …  of misinformation’. This assumes that the long ending is true if the objections are a mess of misinformation.

2.2  Ending of the article

How does Snapp’s article end?

If we deduce (in agreement with J. Rendel Harris, T. C. Skeat, and other researchers) that Sinaiticus was made at Caesarea, and if we also notice that when Eusebius of Caesarea commented about the ending of Mark, he displayed no awareness of the Shorter Ending (even when the subject invited and even demanded mention of the Shorter Ending, if it had been known), we may conclude that the alternative text in the minds of the copyists of both.

Vaticanus and Sinaiticus, when they produced the anomalous features at the end of Mark in their manuscripts, was verses 9-20.

Here, Snapp supports the longer ending of Mark 16, as he does in the following paragraph. So the  

Logical Form:

Claim X (part 2) is: Therefore, the long ending of Mark 16 is true. 

The complete Logical Form is:

Claim X is that the commentators supporting the short ending contain ‘a spectacular mess … of misinformation’. This assumes that the long ending is true if the objections are a mess of misinformation.

Therefore, Claim X, the long ending of Mark 16, is true. Snapp began with the presupposition that Mark 16:9-20 is Scripture and represents the correct ending of the book. How did he conclude his article? Mark 16:9-20 is the truth of how Mark 16 ends.

When discussing logical fallacies, we are not dealing with the information or facts relating to the topic. We expose the erroneous reasoning used.

If I begin a message, stating that the Bible is the word of God (claim X, part 1) and conclude that the Bible says it is the word of God (claim X, part 2), I have committed a begging the question (circular reasoning) logical fallacy. I have not provided evidence to support this claim.

Logical fallacies prevent reasonable / rational conversation. Why?

3.  Logical fallacies do not deal with the issues

They divert attention from the topic being debated to some other topic for various reasons.

We see it in this example of circular reasoning. James Snapp Jr started with the presupposition that Mark 16:9-20 was the true ending of that chapter and reached the same conclusion after his research.

Whether or not Mark 16:9-20 ought to be included in Scripture is not determined by a begging the question fallacy. Fallacies sidetrack discussions by spinning the wheels on a topic or distracting to another topic the person is more comfortable in addressing.

Whether Mark 16:9-20 is true or not is determined by research into various areas of transmission of the text, called the bibliographical approach.

There are a number of matters that need investigation on any topic. Using a logical fallacy turns the topic to other content. It prevents reasonable conversation on that topic.

(courtesy Ram Pages)


1The ESV adds this footnote: ‘Some manuscripts end the book with 16:8; others include verses 9-20 immediately after verse 8. A few manuscripts insert additional material after verse 14; one Latin manuscript adds after verse 8 the following: But they reported briefly to Peter and those with him all that they had been told. And after this, Jesus himself sent out by means of them, from east to west, the sacred and imperishable proclamation of eternal salvation. Other manuscripts include this same wording after verse 8, then continue with verses 9-20 ‘.



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

Is it a fake news beat up about Senator Fraser Anning?

Australian politicians & mass media join forces

(an unusual alliance)

(Senator Fraser Anning, courtesy Katter’s Australian Party website)

By Spencer D Gear PhD

A shorter edition of this article is published in On Line Opinion, 3 October 2018, as: Fake news! The Senator Fraser Anning saga

The Collins Dictionary’s word of the year in 2017 was ‘fake news’. Its definition was, ‘false, often sensational, information disseminated under the guise of news reporting’ (Collins Dictionary 2018. s.v. fake news).

U S President Donald Trump uses the description, ‘fake news’. One example was:

Trump tweeted about his July 20 [2018] meeting with Sulzberger [New York Times publisher A.G. Sulzberger], saying, “Spent much time talking about the vast amounts of Fake News being put out by the media & how that Fake News has morphed into phrase, “Enemy of the People” (Schwartz 2018).

Egypt has enacted ‘fake news’ legislation, as have France, Belarus, Russia, and Singapore (Schwartz 2018)


darksun6 Egypt: Anti-fake news law kicks in

darksun6 Belarus Passes ‘Fake News’ Legislation

darksun6 French Parliament passes law against ‘fake news’

darksun6 Russian ‘Fake News’ Law Would Punish Social Media Platforms

darksun6 New Malaysian government repeals law banning ‘fake news

darksun6 Singapore set to tackle fake news with new law

1.       Definitions

What is fake news?

I’m using it in this Collins Dictionary sense: ‘false, often sensational, information disseminated under the guise of news reporting’ ‘The BBC defines fake news as false information distributed deliberately, usually for political or commercial purposes….’ (BBC News 2018).

So, fake news is false, sensational reporting of information that is supposed to be news’ journalism. But it is deliberately used for political or commercial purposes.

How could fake news be crafted in Australia or elsewhere? I’ll use an Australian example of how I propose that fake news has been developed.

I stress that I’m not supporting all of the content about which Fraser Anning spoke. This is an article to show how I see ‘fake news’ developing before our very eyes.

2.       Four steps to fabricate fake news

Image result for clipart 4 stepsHow is fake news created? I understand there are 4 simple steps:

Step 1:   Somebody makes a statement about an issue.

Step 2:   Others breed false information about this statement.

Step 3:  This false information is spread through the media as newsworthy journalism. Members of Parliament (MPs) also have spread fake news.

Step 4:     Conclusion: Fake news is created.

Let’s follow these Anning steps.

2.1   Step 1: Senator Fraser Anning’s ‘final solution for immigration’

This article is not about whether I agree or disagree with the content of Senator Fraser Anning’s maiden speech in the Australian Senate on 14 August 2018.

His speech can be read at: Full text: Senator Fraser Anning’s maiden speech (SBS News 2018).

In my view, some of the news sources below have fallen into this ‘fake news’ trap with making Senator Fraser Anning’s maiden speech[1] in the Australian Senate on the ‘final solution for immigration’ parallel to Hitler’s ‘final solution’.

What did Senator Anning state in the Senate in regard to immigration?  The Guardian reported:

He “didn’t even think about” the historical connotations.

Anning claimed the speech had been taken “completely out of context” and his remarks had “nothing to do with” the Nazi party’s Final Solution.

“The fact is all I said was the final solution to the immigration problem is a vote of the Australian people,” he said. “I don’t regret anything … I’m not going to apologise or regret anything I say” (Karp 2018).

2.2       Step 2: The ‘final solution’ beat up

Senator Pauline Hanson (Anning was formerly a senator with Hanson’s One Nation party) admitted on Q&A ‘she didn’t know what the term “final solution”’ meant (McMahon 2018).

Also on the same programme, Bob Katter MP of the Katter Australian Party (KAP) could not have been clearer about his support for Senator Fraser Anning (KAP) and the content of his maiden speech:

Mr Katter claimed his senator had “absolutely no idea” the term was used in Nazi Germany under Adolf Hitler to describe the genocide of the Jewish people in Europe.

“He didn’t get to a university to know the significance of all these words,” Mr Katter said. “He’s smart, but he hasn’t read all the history books. He doesn’t know what any of this means. And nor will he spend any time finding out.

“I’m sick of you lily pad lefties coming at us on some absolutely ridiculous technicality that has nothing to do with the issues.”

Mr Katter said his party was resolutely pro-Jewish and wanted to protect Jewish people in Australia from “the persecutors” being brought in from the Middle East under Australia’s migration program (McMahon 2018, emphasis added).

In Cairns, Bob Katter said of Anning: ‘His speech was absolutely magnificent. It is everything that this country should be doing’ (Karp 2018).

2.3       Step 3: False information spread

This is only a taste of what the media and MPs have been reported as saying.

2.3.1  Hype by MPs and Senators

Image result for Hitler's Final Solution(Image courtesy Haiku Deck)

Concerning Anning’s ‘final solution’ statement:


3d-red-star-small      Former Prime Minister, Malcolm Turnbull: ‘We reject, we condemn racism in any form, and the remarks by Senator Anning are justly condemned and rejected by us all’; it was a ‘shocking insult’ to the Jewish people (Karp 2018);

3d-red-star-small      Bill Shorten, leader of the opposition, ‘repugnant and disgraceful’ (Karp 2018).

3d-red-star-small      Senator Pauline Hanson of One Nation said she was ‘appalled’ by Anning’s comments, adding that the speech was ‘straight from Goebbels’ handbook from Nazi Germany’ (Karp 2018a).

3d-red-star-small      The energy and environmental minister, Josh Frydenberg, a Jew, labelled the comments ‘extremely ignorant’ and ‘hurtful, divisive and unacceptable’. He added in an interview with Channel 9:

“Fraser Anning should not only retract his comments, but he should immediately go and visit a Holocaust museum and hear first-hand from survivors, how raw the pain is, and hear about and see the destruction and devastation caused by the Nazi killing machine,” Mr Frydenberg said.

“You see, 10 million people lost their lives to the Nazis. Six million were children.

“It’s totally unacceptable for an Australian member of parliament, let alone any Australian, to utter those words and he should retract them” (Karp 2018).

3d-red-star-small      Former treasurer (now Prime Minister), Scott Morrison MP, said: ‘Fraser Anning should not only retract his comments. “What the terrorists do is they say to young people who live in Sydney, in suburbs and places like Lakemba… ‘come and fight with us, because all those Aussies don’t want you, don’t like you’ (Financial Review 2018).

3d-red-star-small      The leader of the Greens followed the other political rhetoric:

“Referring to immigrants, particularly Muslim immigrants, with the same language that the Nazi’s used to discuss the extermination of Europe’s Jews during the Holocaust is vile, racist, bigoted and has no place in out (sic) society, let alone our parliament,” Senator Di Natale said (Lewis 2018).

Not all parliamentarians were against Fraser Anning’s ‘final solution for immigration’ terminology. ‘The Liberal Democrat senator David Leyonhjelm called the response a “ridiculous overreaction” to a phrase that could have “multiple meanings”’ (Karp 2018).

2.3.2   Hype from the mass media

3d-red-star-small  SBS News (2018a) reported: ‘Senator Anning used the Nazi-associated phrase “final solution” and called for a ban on Muslim immigration’.

3d-red-star-small On the Today Show, Anning was asked by host, Georgie Gardner, ‘about using the Nazi term “final solution” in his speech’. He said he ‘didn’t even think’ about whether it would be offensive.

“All I said was the final solution to the immigration problem is a vote of the Australian people,” he said. “That has nothing to do with the ‘Final Solution’”, the thought police got onto that….

“Claims that the words meant anything other than the ultimate solution to any political question is always a popular vote are simply ridiculous,” Senator Anning said in a statement.

“Anyone who actually reads them in context will realise this….

“If people want to take it out of context that’s entirely up to them. It was never meant to denigrate the Jewish community and it’s (sic) two words and if that offends anyone unfortunately that’s the way it has to be” (Graham & Farr 2018).

3d-red-star-small ABC News began an Opinion piece with:

On the surface, Fraser Anning’s use of the term “final solution” in Parliament can be attributed to two explanations.

The first is that he is ignorant of the historical significance and weight behind the term and its association with the Nazi regime in Europe.

The second is far more sinister — it is dog-whistle politics to the ever present racist undercurrents in Australian society (Masters 2018).

Then Masters proceeded to give us a graphic history lesson on the horrors of the Nazi Holocaust. No adjectives are adequate for me to describe the genocide inflicted on 10 million (including 6 million children) by Hitler and the Nazis during World War 2.

In the Killing Centers

Jewish women and children deported from Hungary, separated from the men, line up for selection. [LCID: 77255]Jewish women and children upon arrival in Auschwitz

Jewish women and children deported from Hungary, separated from the men, line up for selection. Auschwitz camp, Poland, May 1944.

However, the ‘final solution’ of the Holocaust was not the topic of Fraser Anning’s speech.  However, it sure got the ABC and other media outlets on board with their inflicting another meaning to those two words.

3d-red-star-small The Sydney Morning Herald’s headline on the day after Anning’s speech was: ‘Fraser Anning achieves what he deserves: denunciation from the ages’ (Wright 2018).

3d-red-star-small The New Daily’s article on the Anning speech had the headline, ‘Unapologetic Fraser Anning under fire from all sides after ‘final solution’ Senate speech’ (McCulloch 2018).

2.4       Step 4: Fake news has been created

We’ve moved from,

matte-red-arrow-small  A person making a statement, to

matte-red-arrow-small  Other people placing another spin on the statement.

matte-red-arrow-small  The new spin is spread by mass and social media.

matte-red-arrow-small  So, the fake news has been generated.

In the Aussie example, what was the original statement?

3.       What did Senator Fraser Anning actually say in the Australian Senate?

In his maiden speech in the Australian parliament, Senator Anning stated:

  • ‘My most immediate concern is saving agriculture in this country’.
  • ‘My next biggest concern is rural infrastructure development. First and foremost, my priority is water…. My first solution is to build the Bradfield scheme’.
  • ‘The next critical problem that we need to address is immigration. Australia currently has the highest per capita immigration rate in the world’.
  • ‘Finally, it should go without saying that, as a nation, we are entitled to require that those who come here not only have useful work skills and qualifications but also the commitment to work and pay taxes’.

It was in the paragraph of the ‘finally’ statement that Anning fired up those who took his comments out of context and beat up politicians + mass media fake news hype – in my opinion. 

Part of what he stated in the final point was:

In the days of Menzies, immigrants arriving here were not allowed to apply for welfare and that attracted exactly the right sort of hard-working people this country needed. We should go back to that and ban all immigrants receiving welfare for the first five years after they arrive. The final solution to the immigration problem is, of course, a popular vote. We don’t need a plebiscite to cut immigration numbers; we just need a government that is willing to institute a sustainable population policy, end Australian-job-stealing 457 visas and make student visas conditional on foreign students returning to the country they came from. What we do need a plebiscite for is to decide who comes here. Whitlam didn’t ask the Australian people whether they wanted wholesale non-European migration when he introduced it and neither has any subsequent government. Who we allow to come here will determine what sort of nation we will have in the future, so therefore this isn’t the right of any one government to decide. It’s too important for that. Instead, we need a plebiscite to allow the Australian people to decide whether they want wholesale non-English speaking immigrants from the Third World and, in particular, whether they want any Muslims or whether they want to return to the predominantly European immigration policy of the pre-Whitlam consensus. I for one will be very happy to abide by their decision (SBS News 2018, emphasis added).

  (Asylum seekers boat off Christmas Island, courtesy ABC News, Brisbane Qld) Image result for photo deaths boat Christmas Island

In this 35.10 mins speech, Anning acknowledged he was a ‘conservative Christian’. The sentence that got on the goat of politicians and the mass media and has led to fake news being perpetrated by them (in my view) was: ‘The final solution to the immigration problem is a popular vote’ (SBS News 2018).

  Anning did a round of interviews on Wednesday morning [15 August 2018] claiming the use of the term “final solution” – used by the Nazi regime to describe a genocidal policy of exterminating Jewish people – was inadvertent but refused to apologise because he claimed the outrage was solely coming from political opponents (Karp 2018).

4.       The final solution: Queensland Premier reacts

The Queensland Premier used her ‘whip’ to try to punish the Qld division of KAP over something that was said in federal parliament:

Annastacia Palaszczuk has ripped up a deal allowing the Katter’s Australian Party five extra staff, on the back of Senator Fraser Anning’s widely condemned maiden parliamentary speech….

The Labor leader renewed criticism of the KAP’s support for Mr Anning’s inflammatory speech, which praised the former White Australia policy and suggested a plebiscite as the “final solution to the immigration problem”.

Nazis referred to the extermination of the Jewish people in Europe and beyond as “the final solution to the Jewish question” (Crockford 2018).

I refer you to Fraser Anning’s intention in what he said in the Senate (see below).

The ‘thought police’ have been in action; fake news came out of a comment that had nothing whatsoever to do with the Nazi ‘final solution’.

Speaking on the Today Show [Channel 9], Mr Josh Frydenberg said the remarks were “extremely ignorant, hurtful, divisive, unacceptable”.

“Fraser Anning should not only retract his comments, but he should immediately go and visit a Holocaust museum and hear first-hand from survivors, how raw the pain is, and hear about and see the destruction and devastation caused by the Nazi killing machine,” Mr Frydenberg said….

“You see, 10 million people lost their lives to the Nazis. Six million were children.

“It’s totally unacceptable for an Australian member of parliament, let alone any Australian, to utter those words and he should retract them.” (Calcutt 2018).

5.       Fraser Anning’s intent in what he said

Bob Katter responding to the controversial first speech by William Fraser - Anning in the Senate. Frame grab courtesy of ABC News (Bob Katter photo, courtesy The Examiner, ABC News)

Bob Katter MP, leader of the Katter Australian Party (KAP), said he ‘supports his colleague Fraser Anning “one thousand per cent”’ (Jackson 2018).

Anning’s response to the fuss over what he stated about ‘the final solution’ in his maiden speech was:

The comments were “taken out of context” and he hadn’t even thought about their significance.

“The fact is, all I said was the final solution to the immigration problem is a vote of the Australian people,” he said.

“That has nothing to do with the final solution. The thought police got onto that.

“I’m a strong supporter of the Jewish community, and always have been. For everyone to take it out of context is a joke and an attempt try to shut down debate.

“It was never meant to denigrate the Jewish community and it’s two words and if it offends anyone, unfortunately, that’s the way it has to be” (Calcutt 2018).

The context was what to do about immigration policy in Australia’s intake of migrants and he wants the Australian people to decide with a vote. He confirmed that his ‘final solution’ had nothing whatsoever to do with Hitler’s ‘final solution’ in the Holocaust of World War 2.

It sure sounds like the MPs and media have taken Anning’s comments out of context and made them mean what he did not intend. That’s how fake news is developed and promoted (based on the definitions above).

6.       Threats to Katter’s Australian Party

Because of the association of Fraser Anning’s speech with the Nazi’s ‘final solution’ in World War 2, there have been some threats made to the KAP.

6.1       Qld Premier’s threat to cut KAP staff numbers

Queensland Premier Annastacia Palaszczuk MP has threatened to refuse funding some current Katter’s Australian Party staff. The Guardian reported:

Palaszczuk told the Labor state conference in Brisbane on Sunday [2 September] she would not (sic) longer fund the extra staff after the KAP failed to denounce the senator for his remarks.

“We have the right to free speech in our parliaments, but that free speech is not free of consequence,” she told party faithful.

“So because his party will not denounce senator Fraser Anning, I denounce his party”….

“I am withdrawing the additional staff I granted to Katter’s Australian party because it tolerates the intolerable and it defends the indefensible, and senator Fraser Anning’s statements are indefensible,” she said on Sunday [2 September]….

Robbie Katter said Anning’s words had been twisted and taken out of context (Australian Associated Press 2018).

The North West Star, Mt Isa, reported:

KAP State Leader and member for Traeger Robbie Katter has referred Premier Annastacia Palaszczuk to the Queensland Crime and Corruption Commission following her decision to strip the KAP of four staff.

“On Tuesday I sent a letter to the CCC asking them to formally investigate the matter,’’ Mr Katter said.

“I’m asking the Premier to step down while the CCC considers our complaint.”

The call comes a day after the Premier made the decision to strip the party of staff over the row about KAP Queensland Senator Fraser Anning’s maiden speech in Federal Parliament last month.

Mr Katter said Queenslanders were appalled to see political power wielded as a weapon to shut down opposing views.

The Premier tried to use the threat of withdrawing resources to get us to behave a certain way in Parliament. We wouldn’t, so she removed them,” he said.

“It seems like a pretty clear case of using threats to influence the free will of a Member of Parliament. If she gets away with it the implications are massive for our democracy in Queensland.’’

Mr Katter said LNP members had also been referred as a result of the pressure they placed on the Premier (Barry 2018).

What would a civil libertarian say about what Palaszczuk did to KAP?

Queensland Council of Civil Liberties vice-president Terry O’Gorman says while Senator Anning’s speech was “appalling”, the government’s action is contrary to one of the pillars of the Fitzgerald report.

He says stripping KAP of their staff allocation is reminiscent of the Bjelke-Petersen government’s stifling of their Labor opposition (AAP 2018).

6.2   Consequences of fake news: Threats to withdraw funding

Troy Gray, the secretary of the Victorian branch of the Electrical Trades Union, which gave KAP $100,000 between 2011 and 2013 said he ‘totally disagrees’ with Anning and Katter’s position on immigration. His view was that he would be ‘staggered if anyone in the union movement would support the party after those comments’ (Karp 2018b).

What about support from the CFMMEU (Construction, Forestry, Maritime, Mining and Energy Union)?  Bob Katter responded to The Sydney Morning Herald:

Mr Katter, 73, told Fairfax Media he planned to recontest his seat of Kennedy, which he has held for 25 years, but reserved the right to change his mind. He said no one from the CFMMEU had contacted him about Senator Anning’s speech or his subsequent statements.

“I can’t think of any reason why they would,” he said. “We are being undercut by massive migration into Australia [and] the only people fighting against that are ourselves [KAP] and the CFMMEU” (Koziol 2018).

7.  Conclusion

It seems to me that the ‘fake news’ definition from the Collins Dictionary has been played out before my eyes in Australia in August 2018:

  • A newly elected, Senator Fraser Anning, made a maiden speech in the Australian Senate and spoke of the ‘The final solution to the immigration problem is, of course, a popular vote. We don’t need a plebiscite to cut immigration numbers; we just need a government that is willing to institute a sustainable population policy’.
  • MPs, Senators and mass media picked up two words, ‘final solution’, took them right out of context and applied them to the Nazi ‘final solution’ to exterminate 10 million Jews in the Holocaust of World War 2. They bred and fed false and sensational information about a simple statement about immigration. One doesn’t have to agree with Anning’s content, but what the MPs and Senators made of those two words was fake news, in my view.
  • These falsely generated particulars were spread through the mass and social media.
  • So, fake news about immigration in a Senator’s maiden speech was developed into ‘real’ news about Fraser Anning promoting a ‘final solution’ to the immigration problem that was parallel to Nazi’s ‘final solution’.

Image result for fake news photo public domain


8.  Works consulted

AAP 2018. KAP considers going to CCC after staff cut. 5AU (online), 3 September. Available at: (Accessed 15 September 2018).

Australian Associated Press 2018. Palaszczuk cuts Katter party staff over Fraser Anning speech. The Guardian (online), 2 September. Available at: (Accessed 15 September 2018).

Barry, D 2018. Robbie Katter refers Premier Annastacia Palaszczuk to CCC. The North West Star (online), 5 September. Available at: (Accessed 15 September 2018).

BBC News 2018. Spotting ‘fake news’ among the real stories (online), 14 March. Available at: (Accessed 4 September 2018).

Calcutt, L 2018. Fraser Anning speech: Senator says final solution comments ‘taken out of context’. 9News (online), 15 August. Available at: (Accessed 4 September 2018).

Crockford, T 2018. Premier rips up Katter deal after Anning’s ‘final solution’ speech. Brisbane Times (online), 2 September. Available at: (Accessed 7 September 2018).

Financial Review 2018. Queensland senator Fraser Anning refuses to apologise for ‘final solution’ speech (online), 15 August. Available at: (Accessed 17 September 2018).

Graham, B & Farr, M 2018. ‘While all Muslims are not terrorists, certainly all terrorists these days are Muslims,’ Senator Anning said. (online), 15 August. Available at: (Accessed 17 September 2018).

Jackson, E 2018. Katter supports Anning after Senate speech. The Examiner (Cairns), 15 August. Available at: (Accessed 4 September 2018).

Karp, P 2018. MPs widely condemn Fraser Anning’s ‘final solution’ speech. The Guardian (online), 15 August. Available at: (Accessed 4 September 2018).

Karp, P 2018a. Fraser Anning speech ‘straight from Goebbels’ handbook’, says Pauline Hanson. The Guardian (online), 15 August. Available at: (Accessed 17 September 2018).

Karp, P 2018b. Union drops Katter support as recording claims Fraser Anning aimed to ‘hit nerve’. The Guardian (online), 16 August. Available at: (Accessed 17 September 2018).

Koziol, M 2018. ‘Almost certifiable’: Bob Katter pays political price for backing Fraser Anning’s ‘final solution’ speech. The Sydney Morning Herald (online), 16 August. Available at: (Accessed 17 September 2018).

Lewis, R 2018. Shades of Pauline Hanson in Fraser Anning’s first speech. The Australian (online), 14 August. Available at: (Accessed 17 September 2018).

Masters, A 2018. Fraser Anning’s ‘final solution’ speech points to a more dangerous threat to Australia (Opinion). ABC News, Brisbane Qld (online), 16 August. Available at: (Accessed 17 September 2018).

McCulloch, D 2018. Unapologetic Fraser Anning under fire from all sides after ‘final solution’ Senate speech. The New Daily (online), 15 August. Available at: (Accessed 17 September 2018).

McMahon, N 2018. Q&A recap: Pauline Hanson says she had no idea what ‘final solution’ meant. The Sydney Morning Herald (online), 28 August. Available at: (Accessed 4 September 2018).

SBS Mews 2018. Full text: Senator Fraser Anning’s maiden speech (online), 15 August. Available at: (Accessed 4 September 2018).

SBS News 2018a. KAP refers Qld premier, LNP leader to CCC (online), 4 September. Available at: (Accessed 15 September 2018).

Schwartz, J 2018. Trump’s ‘fake news’ rhetoric crops up around the globe. Politico[3] On Media (online), 31 July. Available at: (Accessed 17 September 2018).

Swan, J 2013. Jewish MP to put religion before politics. The Sydney Morning Herald (online), 30 January. Available at: (Accessed 4 September 2018).

Wright, T 2018. Fraser Anning achieves what he deserves: denunciation from the ages. The Sydney Morning Herald (online), 15 August. Available at: (Accessed 17 September 2018).

9.  Notes

[1] Fraser Anning is now a senator for Katter’s Australian Party (SBS News 2018).

[2] The Romani, Romany or Roma are gypsies in Europe, the sub-continent and the Americas.

[3] This website deals with ‘politics, power and media in Europe’ (Schwartz 2018).


Copyright © 2018 Spencer D. Gear. This document last updated at Date: 28 September 2018.


Image result for free clipart linesImage result for free clipart lines



Reader-response methods: How meaning can be stripped from biblical texts

Child And Book


By Spencer D Gear PhD

In searching the Internet for more information on reader-response ways to deconstruct any text, I was attracted to Dr Jeremy Koay’s1 brief article, ‘What is reader-response theory?‘ (2017) This is an exceptional overview of a method that is overwhelming the reading of documents of any kind, whether narrative, poetry or interpretation of art.

Even though the article was published in December 2017, no comments had been made to it, so I forwarded my response.

1. Problems with reader-response: From the article

I find that a major problem with read-response theory is that it cannot consistently interpret literature. You stated, ‘The idea of pure literal meaning is contestable because our culture, experiences and worldview shape our understanding of words’. Is that how you want me to read your article? Or do you want a literal reading (which includes figures of speech)? Can I engage in postmodern, deconstruction, reader-response techniques with your article to make it mean what I decide it means?

Could you imagine the recorded history of Emperor Nero, George Washington, Hitler and the Nazi concentration camps, Captain James Cook circumnavigating NZ and sailing up the east coast of Australia being interpreted by reader-responses?

Did Emperor Nero, George Washington, Hitler and James Cook say and do what is recorded in their journals and history about them or is that open to the readers’ interactive deconstruction with our reader-responses from our century and cultures?

That’s what we are dealing with in examining any writing from the past or present. I wouldn’t interpret the articles in the Brisbane Times (BT) that way.

Imagine my reading your writings with that view? Surely you want me to read this article so that I understand the content of what you mean, within the bounds of English grammar and syntax, rather than imposing 21st century Brisbane environment and my reader-response on your text.

If I read the BT like that and passed on my postmodern, reader-response, interactive, contemporary interpretation of today’s BT stories to the people in my community, they would think I was going over the edge mentally.

EduMaxi chose not to publish my reply, so I sent this inquiry: ‘I submitted a comment on 28 August 2018. It has not been published. Are there reasons  for this delay or non-acceptance of the comment?’

2. Email rather than online reply

Dr Koay chose to reply by email rather than publishing my letter on the EduMaxi website’s target readers are primarily language teachers (not philosophers)’. So he considered my reply was philosophical.

I won’t publish his email because he has not given me permission to do that. However, you’ll pick up some of his content in my response, sent by email on 13 September 2018. I use ‘you’ and ‘your’ in referring to Dr Koay.

From your content, I raise five concerns:

2.1 ‘Pure literal meaning is contestable’

You say that this is because culture, experiences and worldview shape our understand of words. I don’t disagree with that perspective. However, I contend that my current worldview cannot be used to deconstruct the meaning of, say, John Milton’s Paradise Lost (Stanley E. Fish tried to do it in Surprised by Sin and came to an understanding that, I think, would cause John Milton to turn over in his grave).

OF Mans First Disobedience, and the Fruit

Of that Forbidden Tree, whose mortal tast

Brought Death into the World, and all our woe,

With loss of Eden, till one greater Man

Restore us, and regain the blissful Seat,

Sing Heav’nly Muse, that on the secret top

Of Oreb, or of Sinai, didst inspire

That Shepherd, who first taught the chosen Seed,…. (Paradise Lost, Bk 1)

I consider that I would be cheating Milton to use my culture, experience and worldview to place my meaning on Milton’s poetry written in the seventeenth century. I need to understand the language and concepts he used and the biblical worldview to which he referred. Uncovering the intent of the author is my primary task as an interpreter of any document from your article, to the Brisbane Courier-Mail, or to the Bible. This is done by listening to the ‘plain meaning’ of a text.

I don’t use the language of ‘pure literal meaning’, so I don’t know how that differs from taking a text – narrative or poetry – at face value. I obtain the meaning from the text and not from my creative invention (reader-response, pesher method, allegorisation) of the text.

I have great difficulty in refusing ‘pure literal meaning’ when I investigate Captain James Cook’s circumnavigation of NZ and sailing up the east coast of Australia in HMS Endeavour in 1770:

A three-masted wooden ship cresting an ocean swell beneath a cloudy sky. Two small boats tow the ship forward.

HMS Endeavour off the coast of New Holland, by Samuel Atkins c. 1794

How is it possible to use a reader-response interpretation dealing with the Endeavour when Captain James Cook’s name is associated with an ocean-going ship, The Endeavour? Pure literal meaning applies as much to Jacinda Ardern’s being Prime Minister of NZ and Scott Morrison’s recent ascension to the PM of Australia. Is plain reading of a text the same as ‘pure literal meaning’ to you?

You stated ‘ This theory rejects the structuralist view that meaning resides solely in the text’. Do you consider that structuralism (meaning because of the language system) has been superseded by postmodern reader-response methodology?

I can’t walk into a local fish and chips shop and give a reader-response interpretation to the menu and expect to get what I ordered. I had to ask for clarification when some friends and I had lunch at a local tavern. My friend ordered whiting for the fish dish. He discovered his fish was NZ whiting and not Australian whiting. Questions for clarification are not equivalent to reader-response hermeneutics whether in the supermarket, at Centrelink (social security), reading The Sydney Morning Herald or the Bible.

I endorse the perspective that readers engage with a text to question concepts raised, discover etymology of words, cultural divergence from contemporary culture, etc. However, that is not the position you advocate as a theory: ‘Readers, as much as the text, play an active role in a reading experience (Rosenblatt, 1994)’.

It is my understanding that readers do not create content of a writing; authors do that. Readers may disagree with the content and provide reasons for such, but creating meaning is not their roles. Readers may develop personal or group applications from the text, but this is not part of the author’s intended meaning.

2.2 ‘I regard the theory as a theory – nothing more and nothing less’

I commend you for treating this reader-response literary device as ‘a theory’, which means it has yet to be proven.

However, that is not the view of many promoters of the reader-response approach. They use it as a method of hermeneutics. Take these eminent promoters of reader-response views:

According to Wolfgang Iser, ‘the meaning of a text … is not inherent in it but must be produced or actualized by the reader’ (Iser in Culpepper 1983:40, 209).

Iser explained the supposed ‘vacant pages’ and ‘gaps’ in a text that a reader uses in active and creative ways. His perspective was that ‘the gaps, indeed, are those very points where the reader can enter into the text, forming his own connections and conceptions and so creating the configurative meaning of what he is reading…. From the given material [the reader] must construct his own conception of the reality and hence the meaning of the text (Iser 1972:40, 276, emphasis added).

‘While the meaning of the literary work remains related to what the printed text says,… it requires the creative imagination of the reader to put it all together’ (Iser 1980:142).

‘More recent research (Eco 1985 and 1994; Iser 1980; Ricoeur 1992) has accentuated the creative role of the reader in interaction with the text. Intertextuality is a component of this dialectical process’ (Zumstein 2008:135 n. 17).

John Dominic Crossan: ‘‘This, then, is my working definition of history: History is the past reconstructed interactively by the present through argued evidence in public discourse’ (Crossan 1998:20; 1999:3 emphasis in original).

That aborts my research as an historian and historical Jesus’ scholar. It would cause my examination of the historical HMS Endeavour, Captain James Cook, and the historical Jesus, to be a contemporary mish-mash of historical evidence and personal, contemporary, public deconstruction. Historians should hang up their historical credentials and become innovative writers of historical fiction if they pursue reader-response methodology.

While you state reader-response is a theory for you, it is not so for many other postmodern writers.

2.3 ‘My father drove me to school’

In using this example, I consider you have confused the ‘gaps’ in reader-response theory with committing An Argument from Silence logical fallacy.

The logical form to your argument is:

Person 1: The boy claims his father drove him to school (a truthful statement) and then remains silent;

Person 2: Then, it is true his father drove him to school (but the boy leaves out a lot of evidence that Person 2 creates about the vehicle).

You state that you ‘do not equate this to a “pure literal meaning”’. Is ‘my father drove me to school’ literally true? If so, then it conforms to a ‘pure literal meaning’.

However, what you have called an example of reader-response theory in action is really fallacious reasoning:

The reason this technique works so well, is because imagined reasons are often more persuasive than real reasons.  If someone wants to be convinced, this technique works like a charm. However, to the critical thinker, this will not fly.  Silence is not a valid substitute for reason or evidence (Bennett 2018).

You also use an Argument from Silence fallacy in your statement: ‘For me, the fact that you (not other readers) commented on my blog suggests that you and other readers may have ‘read’ it differently’. Do you have evidence to prove this statement?

2.4 ‘… I do not and cannot expect that to happen’

Image result for clipart Literal Interpretation

(image courtesy Exegetical Tools)

You don’t expect readers to understand the intended content of what you wrote because of their different worldviews?

I find this to be ambiguous. Because I may have a different worldview to yours, that does not mean I cannot objectively (but imperfectly) examine the words, grammar, syntax and content you wrote so that I could respond online to your article. That is what I did originally and is what I’m doing now to your email reply.

I observe that you were able to deal with the content of what I wrote – without any difficulty – so you could email me your response. I did not observe any creative, reader-response of filling in the ‘gaps’ in your reply. You did clarify what you wrote in response to my ‘comment’ to your article.

2.5 Ultimate truth

You gave statements about those who do and do not agree with ultimate truth because of their differing worldviews. One was: ‘ Others believe that since we can’t objectively assess an ultimate truth, they subscribe to the idea of versions of realities’.

Because you dealt with the generic ‘some’ and ‘others’, it makes it difficult to respond when there is a lack of specifics. However, in my research (480pp dissertation in New Testament, University of Pretoria, South Africa) I noted that some deconstructionist, reader-response promoters reject any examples of absolute truth (e.g. Iser, Crossan, Derrida, etc.).

Your statements included those who believed, ‘Since we can’t objectively assess an ultimate truth, they subscribe to the idea of versions of realities’. Are they absolutely sure of this belief?

That should be shattered on the absolute truth that driving rules in New Zealand and Australia require that we drive vehicles on the left-hand side of the road. Any other side is an aberration by those breaking the law or for legitimate reasons (e.g. road works). With this denial of absolute truth in Aust and NZ, does it include a denial of the moral view that it is wrong to murder and steal?

3. Works consulted

Bennett, B 2018. Logically fallacious (online). Available at: (Accessed 13 September 2018).

Crossan, J D 1998. The birth of Christianity: Discovering what happened in the years immediately after the execution of Jesus. New York, NY: HarperSanFrancisco.

Crossan, J D 1999. Historical Jesus as risen Lord, in Crossan, J D, Johnson, L T & Kelber, W H, The Jesus controversy : Perspectives in conflict, 1-47. Harrisburg, PA: Trinity Press International.

Culpepper, R A 1983. Anatomy of the Fourth Gospel. Minneapolis MN: Fortress Press.

Fish, S E 1980. Is there a text in this class? London and Cambridge, Massachusetts: Harvard University Press.

Fish, S 1987. Surprised by sin: The reader in Paradise Lost. New York: Macmillan.

Iser, W 1980. The act of reading: A theory of aesthetic response. Baltimore and London: Johns Hopkins University Press.

Koay, J 2017. What is reader-response theory? EduMaxi, 5 December. Available at: (Accessed 13 September 2018).

Zumstein, J 2008. Intratextuality and intertextuality in the Gospel of John. In T Thatcher & S D Moore (eds), Anatomies of narrative criticism, 121-136. Atlanta: Society of Biblical Literature.

4. Endnotes

  1. 1Dr Jeremy Koay is a New Zealand-based Independent Researcher and a Research & Development Consultant at EduMaxi. He obtained his PhD in Applied Linguistics from Victoria University of Wellington in 2015. His research interests include Discourse Analysis, Genre Analysis and TESOL (Koay 2017).

Copyright © 2018 Spencer D. Gear. This document last updated at Date: 14 January 2019.

Ten Commandments Old Testament versus New Testament Commandments1


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Prepared by Spencer D Gear PhD

Do all of the OT Ten Commandments appear in the New Testament? I can discern only one change from the Old Covenant to the New Covenant and that is with the Fourth Commandment. NT Christians no longer are required to worship on the Saturday Sabbath. Instead, they worship on the Lord’s Day (Sunday).

I refer you to my articles:

Flower24 No Sabbath-worship for Christians

Flower24 Sunday or Saturday worship for Christians?

Here is my comparison:

Old Testament Ten Commandments

New Testament Ten Commandments

First Commandment OT: ‘I am the Lord your God, who brought you out of Egypt, out of the land of slavery. ‘You shall have no other gods before me‘ (Ex 20:2-3 NIV).2 First Commandment NT: ‘Jesus answered, ”It is written: “Worship the Lord your God and serve him only”’ (Luke 4:8)
Second Commandment OT: ‘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. 5 You shall not bow down to them or worship them; for I, the Lord your God, am a jealous God, punishing the children for the sin of the parents to the third and fourth generation of those who hate me, 6 but showing love to a thousand generations of those who love me and keep my commandments’ (Ex 20:4-6) Second Commandment NT: ‘Therefore, my dear friends, flee from idolatry’ (1 Cor 10:14)
Third Commandment OT: ‘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) Third Commandment NT: ‘ Pray like this: Our Father in heaven, may your name be kept holy.….”’ (Matt 6:9)[1]
Fourth Commandment OT: ‘Remember the Sabbath day by keeping it holy. 9 Six days you shall labour and do all your work, 10 but the seventh day is a sabbath to the Lord your God. On it you shall not do any work, neither you, nor your son or daughter, nor your male or female servant, nor your animals, nor any foreigner residing in your towns. 11 For in six days the Lord made the heavens and the earth, the sea, and all that is in them, but he rested on the seventh day. Therefore the Lord blessed the Sabbath day and made it holy’ (Ex 20:8-11). Change of Fourth Commandment NT: The transfer of the celebration of divine worship from the Saturday Sabbath to the Lord’s day, Sunday, is demonstrated by these passages from Paul’s writings and ministry: 1 Cor. 16:2; Acts 20:7ff; Rev. 1:10. Christians are not to observe days and even Sabbath days according to the following Scriptures: Romans 14:5ff, Galatians 4:9-11; 5:1-15 and Col. 2:16-17.
Fifth Commandment OT: ‘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) Fifth Commandment NT: ‘For Moses said, “Honour your father and mother,” and, “Anyone who curses their father or mother is to be put to death’(Mark 7:10)
Sixth Commandment OT: ‘You shall not murder’ (Ex 20:13). Sixth Commandment NT: ‘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’ (Mark 10:19).
Seventh Commandment OT:You shall not commit adultery’ (Ex 20:14). Seventh Commandment NT: ‘‘Which ones?’ he enquired. Jesus replied, ‘“You shall not murder, you shall not commit adultery, you shall not steal, you shall not give false testimony….’ (Matt 19:18).
Eighth Commandment OT:You shall not steal’ (Ex 20:15). Eighth Commandment NT: ‘You know the commandments: “You shall not commit adultery, you shall not murder, you shall not steal, you shall not give false testimony, honour your father and mother.” (Lk 18:20)
Ninth Commandment OT:You shall not give false testimony against your neighbour’ (Ex 20:16). Ninth Commandment NT: 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’ (Mk10:19).
Tenth Commandment OT: ‘You shall not covet your neighbour’s house. You shall not covet your neighbour’s wife, or his male or female servant, his ox or donkey, or anything that belongs to your neighbour.’ (Ex 20:17) Tenth Commandment NT: ‘The commandments, ‘You shall not commit adultery,’ ‘You shall not murder,’ ‘You shall not steal,’ ‘You shall not covet,’ and whatever other command there may be, are summed up in this one command: ‘Love your neighbour as yourself’ (Rom 13:9).

1 With help from ©1998 Truth On The Web Ministries: Brian Hoeck. Available at: (Accessed 8 September 2018).

2 Unless otherwise stated, all Bible quotations are from the New International Version (NIV) of the Bible.



[1] This citation is from the New Living Translation of the Bible.


Copyright © 2018 Spencer D. Gear. This document last updated at Date: 8 September 2018.

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Christian trash burned up at Judgment Seat of Christ



Image result for clipart rip off

By Spencer D Gear PhD

We know from mass media coverage that people, especially the young, can work for low wages and encounter further rip-offs. In Australia, we’ve seen that with businesses such as 7-11, The Super Retail Group, hospitality industry, Woolworths, Coles, Hungry Jack’s and KFC.

Who has caught these employers involved in the rip-offs? The Fair Work Ombudsman has picked up some of these underpayments and some have come from complaints by former employees.

So, the concept of judgment for both achievement and condemnation applies in both secular society and the Scriptures.

1. The judge’s job

When I looked up the meaning of the noun, ‘judge’, in the Collins’ English Dictionary, I discovered two meanings:

  1. A judge in the law courts who was decides the application of the law.
  2. This is a person who decides who is the winner of a competition (Collins English Dictionary (Collins English Dictionary 2018. s.v. judge).

In NT Greek, judge is used in these two senses. The first condemns and the other rewards. There will be condemnation for unbelievers and rewards for believers.

One of the significant NT verses emphasising the judgment for believers is 2 Cor 5:10 (NIV): ‘For we must all appear before the judgment seat of Christ, so that each of us may receive what is due to us for the things done while in the body, whether good or bad’.

This is known as the Bema Seat Judgment because the Greek word used for judgment in this verse is bema. It will be a judgment only for true believers in Christ, born again people.

Don Stewart explained:

The bema is a tribunal for rewards. In the large Olympic arenas, there was an elevated seat on which the judge of the contest sat. After the contests were over, the successful competitors would assemble before the bema to receive their rewards or crowns. The bema was not a judicial bench where someone was condemned; it was a reward seat. Likewise, the Judgment Seat of Christ is not a judicial bench. The Christian life is a race, and the divine umpire is Jesus Christ. After the race is over for each believer, He will gather every member before the bema for the purpose of examining each one and giving the proper reward to each (Stewart 2018).

That was the question asked on a Christian forum online:

Could you please tell us who or what you believe is being burned up in the following verses: 1 Corinthians 3:8-15 (NASB)?1

2. Who is the audience in Corinth?

Who is Paul addressing in 1 Cor 3:8-15?2 At the beginning of chapter 3, he is clear that his audience consists of ‘brothers and sisters’ in Christ (3:1). So this passage is dealing with what happens to Christians when their rewards are determined by God at the end of life (v 8).

3. Paul’s use of metaphors: God tests our works

Image result for clipart metaphorPaul cannot mean literal buildings, foundation. silver and chaff when he wrote of ‘fellow workers in God’s service; you are God’s field, God’s building’ (v. 9). He is dealing with something other than the physical when he wrote of Christians (fellow workers) involved in ‘God’s service’, ‘God’s field’, and ‘God’s building’, but he used a natural analogy his audience would understand – a metaphor..

Examine the metaphors that are used in this passage.

A metaphor is ‘a figure of speech in which a word or phrase is applied to an object or action to which it is not literally applicable’ (Oxford Dictionaries Online 2018. s.v. metaphor). It is like a word picture using figurative language. It refers to something concrete in our experience, but uses it an an analogy to teach spiritual truth.
Here are the metaphors I observed in this passage:

v. 8, plants + waters –> own reward, which is the Christian’s labor (while on earth after salvation).

v. 9, Christians are God’s ‘fellow workers’ who are in ‘God’s field’ and are ‘God’s building’. Metaphors from agriculture and carpentry are used here to convey God’s message.

v. 10, ‘master builder’, ‘laid foundation’, ‘building’, ‘how he builds’. These are metaphors again to demonstrate what kind of foundation and building are being built into the Christian’s ‘own reward’. Seems to me that this points to James 2 in action.

v. 11, ‘lay a foundation’, ‘is laid’. This verse talks about a true foundation, which is Jesus Christ. The inference is that there are other foundations Christians can build on that will not lead to a good ‘reward’. The next verse tells us this:

v. 12, ‘builds’, ‘foundation’, ‘gold, silver, precious stones, wood, hay, straw’. All of those are metaphors but when speaking of the two types of ‘rewards’, Paul differentiates between the refined reward of ‘gold, silver, precious stones’ and what will be burnt up, ‘wood, hay, straw’ (anticipating v. 15).

v. 13, ‘man’s work’, ‘revealed with fire’, ‘fire … tests the quality’;


v. 14, ‘man’s [Christian person’s] work’, ‘built’, ‘reward’.


v. 15, How is this reward determined? Paul used the metaphor of ‘burned up’, ‘suffer loss’, ‘through fire’.

All through this passage, Paul uses metaphors of analogies known to the people of his day and ours – agriculture and particularly of carpentry.

4. It takes place at the Judgment Seat of Christ

In my understanding, Paul taught what takes place at the Judgment Seat of Christ where our works (AFTER salvation) will be tested to determine if they are trash (wood, hay, straw) or treasure (rewards of silver, gold, precious stones). Trash is burnt up; treasure is purified.

What is to be ‘revealed with fire’ is metaphorical language for when God hands out rewards at the Judgment Seat of Christ and believers will know the Judge’s decision on what were trash and treasure in the believers’ works.

What will be ‘burned up’ is like saying that what Christians do that is outside of what is articulated in James 2 (NIV) and Matt 25:31-46 (NIV) will be regarded as trash to be incinerated or discarded by Christ

We see in v. 15 that Christians can be those whose lives are built on ‘wood, hay & chaff’ or ‘silver, gold and precious stones’.
Paul is not speaking of literal fire. He’s using the example of fire as a metaphor to demonstrate that junk gets God’s treatment as does treasure. This ‘fire’ is God’s way of telling what amounts to true works after salvation and false works.

5. How will you respond?

In your personal or group responses, I encourage you not to examine your lives using Christian cliches like: they are ‘dead works’; that’s coming from my sinful nature; or if Satan didn’t tempt me I’d be as pure as gold in God’s sight. Christian cliches need to be translated into practical actions.

That is the junk in your life that will be burned up?

For me, it has been the times when I didn’t think of others and work to better love my neighbour. There have been the times when I became angry with those who were close to me and with employees. My motives have not always been pure. I have hurt people, including my wife and children. It’s too late to take back the hurt but I did seek forgiveness, etc.

What is the treasure in your life that will not be destroyed at the Judgment Seat of Christ?

For me, they have been the times when I genuinely loved and served my neighbour with practical help and care. I spent 34 years as a counsellor, mostly with non-Christians. I thank God for helping me with many break-throughs. I was an instrument that God used. Today I’m helping an elderly couple and the husband is in the early stages of dementia. I’m involved in a discipling ministry and challenging secular values and consequences in my society through the mass media, etc. None of this is to brag about what I’m doing.

This is where I often fail:

Love the Lord your God with all your heart and with all your soul and with all your mind and with all your strength.’ The second is this: ‘Love your neighbor as yourself.’ There is no commandment greater than these (Mark 12:30-31 NIV).?

Loving God will all my heart, soul, mind and strength is a discipline in which I fail all too regularly. Instead, I fall back on my puny self – which amounts to wood, hay and chaff that are burnt up.

Only God knows what is truly genuine or false in our works for Him, but we have enough information in the Bible to give us direction.

5.1 This message throughout the Bible

You will find this same message in both OT and NT:

  • Psalm 62:12 (NIV), ‘and with you, Lord, is unfailing love’; and, ‘You reward everyone according to what they have done’.
  • Matt 16:27 (NIV), ‘For the Son of Man is going to come in his Father’s glory with his angels, and then he will reward each person according to what they have done’.
  • Rom 14:10 (NIV), ‘You, then, why do you judge your brother or sister?[a] Or why do you treat them with contempt? For we will all stand before God’s judgment seat’.
  • Eph 6:8 (NIV), ‘because you know that the Lord will reward each one for whatever good they do, whether they are slave or free’.
  • 2 Tim 4:7-8 (NIV), ‘I have fought the good fight, I have finished the race, I have kept the faith. Now there is in store for me the crown of righteousness, which the Lord, the righteous Judge, will award to me on that day – and not only to me, but also to all who have longed for his appearing’.
  • 1 John 8 (NIV), ‘Watch out that you do not lose what we have worked for, but that you may be rewarded fully’.

Image result for clipart well done good and faithful servant

6.  Works consulted

Stewart, D 2018. What Is the Judgment Seat of Christ? (The Bema) The Blue Letter Bible (online). Available at: (Accessed 25 August 2018).

7.  Notes 2018. Who or what is the fire burning? GodsGrace#1, original post, 23 August. Available at: (Accessed 25 August 2018).

2Most of what follows is in ibid., being my response to GodsGrace as OzSpen#61, 25 August 2018.



Copyright © 2018 Spencer D. Gear. This document last updated at Date: 25 August 2018.