"Wholesome thinking" is more than getting sex off your mind

(2 Peter 3:1-10)

by Spencer Gear PhD

A. Introduction

I exhort you to have

3d-red-star-small “pure thoughts in your mind,” (GNB)[1] to

3d-red-star-small have a “pure mind,” (Moffat’s translation)[2] to

3d-red-star-small do some “wholesome thinking,” (NIV)[3]

3d-red-star-small To stir “up your sincere mind” (ESV)

3d-red-star-small To clean up your mind.

What do you think I am referring to?

Some may think that I am telling you to keep away from x-rated videos that are now called “non-violent erotica” or porn on the Internet. Others would think that certain magazines are off limits.[4] Or get your mind off the sensual and sexual.

Today I want to “stimulate you to wholesome thinking.” (NIV)[5] But I want you to get your mind off sex. “‘Wholesome thinking’ is more than getting sex off your mind” — that’s the title of my message.

Read 2 Peter 3:1-10

These two letters of 1 & 2 Peter were written to “stir up your pure minds” (KJV), according to 3:1. Other translations speak of:

  • “sincere mind” (RSV, NASB, RV, ESV),
  • “honest thinking” (Contemporary English Version),
  • “unsullied (sincere) mind” (Amp. Bible),
  • “unclouded understanding” (New Jerusalem Bible)
  • “minds uncontaminated with error” (J.B. Phillips),

The idea is this: If you read chapter two of 2 Peter, you will see that the church of the first century was faced with what is happening in Australia today. False teachers and false prophets were propounding their destructive heresies.

Peter says: “Dear friends,” or “Beloved” (he uses this word 4 times in this third chapter, vv. 1, 8, 14, 17), suggesting that Peter had an “affectionate interest in his readers.”[6] But he was desperately concerned that they might be led astray by false teaching. He began to address this in chapter 2 of this epistle. So here, he wants to stir up their “minds” or “stimulate” them in their thinking.

This is not the normal Greek word for mind, nous. Rather, this is dianoia. It is referring to our ability to “reflect,”[7] our “understanding.” [8] It’s a similar idea to what we find in I Peter 1:13, “Prepare your minds for action.”[9]

Peter is calling upon these believers (and us, by application) to have thinking that is “uncontaminated by the lust and heresy all around them.”[10] “Pure” or “wholesome” is in the sense of “unmixed”[11] with error and impurity.

This is probably why the J.B. Phillips’ paraphrase is pretty close to the mark. We must have “minds uncontaminated with error.” But what kinds of error? It was the kind of error that was around in the first century and it is is with us today.

Yes, we can engage in unwholesome thinking when our minds are bombarded with sex. But there’s other dangerous, unwholesome thinking that is more subtle than that. And we are subjected to it in deluge proportions today.

B. We are to clean up our thinking in four areas:

Firstly: Peter says: This world is dominated by very naturalistic thinking. There is nothing supernatural, just matter – some say. Human beings do not have a soul or spirit. I was talking to a Christian drug counsellor in Brisbane recently and he said that a psychiatrist raised his voice at him and thumped his fist on the table: “We are nothing but flesh, and legal drugs are the only cure for our ills.” Matter is all that matters.

Peter challenges us: that is “unwholesome thinking.”

Secondly: Your “unwholesome thinking” can get you to think that it is NOT God who acts in human history, but the USA, the United Nations, and the Australian government as a small player. Look at Kosovo, Vietnam, Uganda, Iraq, September 11 2001, and the Middle East. If you think this way, your thinking is not pure. It is mixed with error.

Thirdly: Peter wants you to meditate on this: even though there is evil, slaughter and strife all around us, God’s delay in acting (holding back Jesus’ second return) is not because God is powerless. God has excellent reasons for stalling Christ’s return.

Fourthly: Human history is not going around in circles (as my doctor said to me), it is heading for an enormous climax. George W. Bush and John Howard will not be in control. Neither will the United Nations be able to do it.

While there may be what looks like a repeat of certain events in world history, God’s pattern is NOT cyclical. God’s view is teleological. That’s a big word, but it comes from the Greek, teleos, meaning “ultimate purpose and design.”[12]

This world is heading towards God’s GRAND conclusion to the world and it is right on track. God has a design and nobody in this world will change it.

Let’s see how Peter challenges us to “wholesome thinking.”

C. First Challenge (v. 3),

scoffers (mockers) will come “in the last days”.

When are the last days? This is not just the time immediately before Christ’s second coming. The “last days” is the period that extends from Christ’s first coming to his second coming.[13]

What were these mockers saying?

  • “scoffing”; It’s an interesting phrase, “scoffers will come, scoffing” (v. 3). They are “mocking at holy things.”[14] These scoffers will be:
  • “following their own evil desires”; Sounds like today!
  • “Where is this ‘coming’ he promised?” they ask;
  • “everything does on as it has since the beginning of creation” (vv. 3-4).

This is a description of Australia today—we have droves of people who deny biblical truths and live in ungodly ways.

I have done a little writing in “letters to the editor” to local papers down through the years, opposing the use of marijuana and showing how dangerous it is, from a scientific perspective. Also, I do not hide my Christian commitment when I write, if it is relevant to the point being debated.

A person responded to some of the issues others and I have raised with this language:

  • “right-wing religious zealots who dominate much of our local anti-drug groups”;
  • “effective drug policy should never be confused with moral crusades”;
  • “Some may ask why I seem [so] interested in drug issues?
  • The reason is that I have probably seen more pain and suffering caused by drug abuse than all our born-agains put together.”
  • “our local anti-marijuana crusaders”;
  • “Right wing anti-drug groups.”[15]

The Bible is right on target, “in the last days scoffers will come, scoffing, and following their own evil desires.”

Friedrich Nietzsche, the German philosopher of the 19th century, influenced Adolf Hitler and his super-race mentality. Nietzsche wrote:

“Christian morality is the most malignant form of all falsehood… It is really poisonous, decadent, weakening. It produces nincompoops not men… I condemn Christianity and confront it with the most terrible accusation that an accuser has ever had in his mouth. To my mind it is the greatest of all conceivable corruptions. . . . I call it the most immortal blemish on mankind.”[16]

It was Nietzsche who described modern people this way: “God is dead! God remains dead! And we have killed Him.”[17] It’s easy to think that this happened a century ago with Nietzsche. It is NOT relevant to us in Australia, right now.

I encountered a classic example of what the Bible is talking about, a few years ago—here in Australia. I was walking the streets of one of our capital cities, inviting people, young and old, to come to a Christian coffee shop we were operating on a voluntary basis.

A young man, about 18-years-old, wandered into the coffee shop. I was engaged in some good conversation with him. But when I began to share the reality of Jesus Christ and his need to repent, it was as if all hell broke loose.

He sneered, scoffed and then began shouting at me, “You Christians must be out of your mind. How ridiculous you are. You’ve been preaching this stuff for 2,000 years. Jesus will save you, make you clean, and he’s coming again. What rubbish! You’ve been preaching this myth for 2,000 years.”

He began to laugh loudly, “Ha! Ha! Where’s this Jesus you’re talking about? Where’s this promise about His coming again? It’s all hot air. You’ve got to be joking.” I turned to 2 Peter 3 and shared this passage with him. His head dropped, but he walked away – scoffing!

These scoffers in Peter’s day continued:

  • “everything goes on as it has since the beginning of creation” (2 Pet 3:3-4).

This is the argument of evolution, called uniformitarianism. Harvard University’s astronomer, Harlow Shapley, said a few years ago:

“Some say, ‘In the beginning God. . .’ but I say, ‘In the beginning hydrogen.'” What he essentially meant was, “Give me hydrogen, time, and the natural laws, and I will give you the universe. Then we can be done once and for all with myths and fables about God or gods.”[18]

So, are the scoffers correct? Has everything gone on “as it has from the beginning of creation”?

On the one hand, “Yes.” I am glad that the sun will rise tomorrow morning as it has done for thousands of years, millions of days. It does it like clockwork. And yet it’s not the sun rising at all. It is the earth revolving around the sun.

I am happy gravity operates consistently. It would be impossible to live in a world where, one minute I throw a ball out of the window and it falls to the ground. Another time that ball goes up, up and away into orbit. Imagine what it would be like living in such an unpredictable world.

If there was no uniformity to the way things happen, scientific investigation would not be possible. Yes, some things happen as they have since the “beginning of creation,” and we are glad.

On the other hand, DEFINITELY NOT! Peter reminds us that things have NOT gone on in a uniform way since creation. There have been massive interventions by God into our world that floors any argument for evolution’s uniformitarianism.

3d-red-star-small First, “By the word of God, the heavens existed [were created] and the earth was formed out of water and with water” (v. 5). How? By the supernatural intervention of God at creation. Read about it in the first chapter of Genesis.

3d-red-star-small Second, Everything had not gone on in a uniform way and 2 Peter 3:6 gives us a striking picture of the Great Flood that came at Noah’s time: “By water also the world of that time was deluged and destroyed.”

3d-red-star-small There’s going to be a third time. Note v. 7, “By the same word the present heavens and earth are reserved for fire, being kept for the day of judgment and destruction of ungodly men.”

When judgment comes at the close of this age, the heavens and the earth will be burnt up in a great inferno, and ALL ungodly people will be judged. NOBODY will get away with anything before God.

That’s why our proclamation of the gospel is so urgent in these days of cultural crisis. Most will turn away, but God will be about the work of saving some. We dare not be negligent in these dangerous, materialistic days in which we live.

Peter challenges us to “wholesome thinking.” Here, Peter is saying that your “pure mind” has nothing to do with sex. Your “pure thoughts” will know this: First (v. 3), scoffers (mockers) will come “in the last days.” Don’t be surprised when you are mocked for your faith.

There’s a second dimension to this “wholesome thinking”:

D.   (v. 8), if you overlook God’s perspective on time, your thinking will be putrid, not pure.

You must get the Lord’s perspective on time:

  • “a day is like a thousand years,” and
  • “a thousand years are like a day.”

What does this mean? There is a parallel verse in Ps. 90:4, “For a thousand years in your sight are like a day that has just gone by, or like a watch in the night.”

Everyone in this church, everyone in the world, will accept one of two positions in life:

  • First, you will accept the ideas of human beings and their philosophies of history and their forecast for the future of the world.

I noticed on the TV news one time that one of the missions of a USA spacecraft was to further investigate the origins of the universe, billions of years ago.

For the Christian, this is “unwholesome thinking.” If you are looking to the world’s ideas of how time began, when and how the world came into being, as human beings think – this is ungodliness.

God’s views of creation and time are radically different.

  • There’s s a second position. You can accept God’s perspective on time and where the world is heading — from the Bible (The Word of God), the prophets and apostles God has chosen. They will give you God’s account of the world and history. The truth, not human speculation.

If God has the power to stop what is going on in the world, why doesn’t he? Why doesn’t he stop what’s going on in Bosnia, the slaughter of tourists in Uganda, and stopping the floods in Bangladesh that killed so many?

Let’s remember this:

  • We must not be curious about “times and seasons.” The disciples

asked Jesus, “Lord, are you at this time going to restore the kingdom to Israel?” What was His reply? “It is not for you to know the times or dates the Father has set by his own authority” (Acts 1:6-7).

Quit worrying about times, dates and seasons in God’s timetable. They are in the capable hands of the Lord Almighty. By the limitations of our humanity, we cannot fully understand the mind of God. Leave the future with Him, while we go about, as v. 11 says, living “holy and godly lives.”

Also remember:

3d-red-star-small God’s relationship to time is so far removed from our thinking.

3d-red-star-small God is above time. He made time, but he chooses to act in time.

3d-red-star-small Listen to these words from Genesis concerning people and time: “Then the Lord said, ‘My Spirit will not contend with man forever, for he is mortal. . . .” (Gen. 6:3); “For the sin of the Amorites has not yet reached its full measure” (Gen. 15:16).

God’s striving to get through to the human heart will end one day. Think of what the Lord did in a day!

3d-red-star-small The days of creation.

3d-red-star-small The day on which Noah’s Flood came.

3d-red-star-small “If we think of the last day of our Lord’s Passion, how much affecting human history, and affecting angelic history, and affecting even God himself, was crowded into it”[19] – ONE DAY?

We think of a day as a short time, almost like an insignificant period of time, and a thousand years as a long period of time. Not so with God. “A thousand years may be a short time with God”[20] who is beyond time.

Just think of the enormous world-wide influence of one day — our Savior’s death. That one day will have more profound influence than thousands of years of human history.[21]

Many people can waste away 70 years of life and accomplish very little. It is not the years that count in your life. It’s the thought, love and action that measure a good life, not the hands of the clock and the lapse of hours and years.[22]

Thank God he’s eternal, the God of eternity. The psalmist put it so profoundly when speaking about God, “For a thousand years in your sight are like a day that has just gone by, or like a watch in the night. . . . From everlasting to everlasting you are God” (Ps. 90:4, 2).

There’s a third dimension to your “wholesome thinking”:

E. Third (v. 9), there’s a reason why God doesn’t end world history NOW. His delay is because of His grace.

If I said to my wife, I will mow the lawn and I don’t do it, she has

every reason to say that I am slack, break my word, and cannot be relied on.

Jesus said, “I am going to prepare a place for you. And if I go and prepare a place for you, I will come back and take you to be with me that you also may be where I am” (John 14:2-3).

But he hasn’t returned! We have been waiting 2,000 years and he hasn’t honoured his promise. If I don’t mow the lawn, I can be accused of being slack, breaking my word, and not being reliable. Can the same accusation be made about Jesus? That’s what the mockers of Peter’s day were doing. Look at v. 4 of this chapter in 2 Peter 3 that we are studying: “They will say, ‘Where is this ‘coming’ he promised?”

From v. 9, it seems that the Christians to whom Peter is writing, are beginning to accept what the mockers were saying. R. C. H. Lenski put it this way:

Since the [Second Coming][23] has not yet come, and since time keeps going on, ‘some’ who are unable to account for this ever-increasing delay and who let what verse 8 states escape them, get uneasy and think that the mockers are perhaps right in claiming that there is nothing to this whole promise of Christ’s return.[24]

So, what’s the answer? Do we have an unreliable, slack Jesus who can’t keep his promises?

Peter says in v. 9, “The Lord is not slow in keeping his promise, as some understand slowness.” That word “slow” in the NIV, “slack” in KJV, means, “The Lord is not tardy.”[25] “The word implies, besides delay, the idea of lateness with reference to an appointed time.”[26]

If you are thinking, like these early Christians, that Jesus’ delay in not returning makes him tardy and slack, you are engaging in unwholesome, impure thinking. This kind of slackness can NEVER be attributed to God. If God says he will do something, and we think it is not fulfilled in OUR puny way of thinking of time, there is a REAL reason for the delay. And it has nothing to do with a slack, impotent God.

v. 9 gives us the clear reason for the delay: “He is patient [or longsuffering, KJV] with you, not wanting anyone to perish, but everyone to come to repentance.”

There is one and only one reason for the delay of Christ’s second coming: It’s the grace of God towards sinners.

God uses time so as to serve his purposes of grace. For that purpose a single day is as a thousand years to him, a thousand years as a single day. To him time, whether it is brief or long, is an entirely minor matter just so his gracious purpose is accomplished. Look at it this way. Then you will not think of delay, procrastination],[27] emptiness of promise. Then you will see that the Lord’s waiting is his longsuffering toward you, his holding out long with the blessed intention[28] . . . that none are to perish.”[29]

The reason for the delay is the patience of God. He is extending time, putting off the Second Coming of Christ. “What is a thousand years to the Lord if he can thereby bring many to repentance?”[30]

God said through Ezekiel: “As surely as I live, declares the Sovereign Lord, I take no pleasure in the death of the wicked, but rather that they turn from their ways and live. Turn! Turn from your evil ways” (Ezekiel 33:11).[31]

Christ has not returned because God is extending the time so that we, the church, can get off our backsides, become active in proclaiming the Gospel so that God will bring many more into the kingdom.

Frankly, it is not a SLACK Lord, but a TARDY church. Paul, in Romans 2:4, said: “Or do you show contempt for the riches of his kindness, tolerance and patience, not realizing that God’s kindness leads you toward repentance?”

Matthew 24:14 gives us a further clue: “And this gospel of the kingdom will be preached in the whole world as a testimony to all nations, and then the end will come.”

Your “wholesome thinking” again has nothing to do with sensuality in Peter’s context. God’s delay is not a broken promise, or tardiness. It is God’s grace. His desire is that ALL will be saved. Through the Cross, the convicting and drawing work of the Holy Spirit, and God’s providence in the world. God is delaying his coming so that MORE will have the opportunity to repent.

We MUST respond with evangelism in the cities and towns where we live.

We MUST be committed to world evangelism, missions. Otherwise, we are engaging in worldly, impure, unwholesome thinking. That’s Bible.

There’s a fourth and final dimension that must be a part of your “wholesome thinking”:

F. Fourth (v. 10), God will end human history suddenly.

READ v. 10:

First Thess. 5 2 confirms this: “You know very well that the day of the

Lord will come like a thief in the night.”

Jesus agrees: “But understand this: If the owner of the house had known at what hour the thief was coming, he would not have let his house be broken into. You also must be ready, because the Son of Man will come at an hour when you do not expect him” (Luke 12:39-40).

By the “day of the Lord,” we are to understand it to be the glorious Second Coming of Christ. Its coming is as certain and as sure as God Himself.

Flower2 It will be an awful day;

Flower2  It will come like a thief entering your house in the darkness;

Flower2  People will be eating, drinking, partying, marrying, defacto-ing, without a thought of God, and ZAP — the end will come.

Flower2 It will be a catastrophe of humungous proportions. This will make the eruption of Mt. St. Helens look like a kids’ party.

Flower2 The crash of a world falling apart;

Flower2 The roar of destroying flames;

Flower2 The dissolution of the elements into chaos;

Flower2 The holocaust that will burn up the earth and everybody in it;

Flower2 The palaces of kings, the forts around cities, the cathedrals and church buildings, burnt up in an instant of tremendous ruin.

Flower2 This is God’s sudden judgment on a world that

cubed-iron-sm thumbs its nose at him,

cubed-iron-sm scoffs at the thought of his coming again,

cubed-iron-sm treats Christians as idiots from another planet.

On that day, the heavens that at one time sent down a deluge of water in the time of Noah, “will themselves pass away . . . with a sudden crackling, sizzling, sputtering roar.”[32]

G.  Application

Let’s pause for a moment to meditate on this message and apply it to us. You must have wholesome thinking, minds uncontaminated by error.

1. Mockers were around in the first century church. They are still with us. They scoff at holy things. Like the fellow writing to the Bundaberg, Qld., Australia News-Mail: “I have probably seen more pain and suffering caused by drug abuse than all our born-agains put together.”

Expect it. But what’s your response? Will it be gruff and

antagonistic, or considerate as you respond to a person made in the image of God? It’s hard!

2. Men and women of science will constantly come up with new theories of how the world evolved billions of years ago. Will your faith remain rock solid on the FACTS of God’s Word, “In the beginning, God [not the force of evolution] created the heavens and the earth” (Gen. 1:1).

In spite of NASA sending satellites to try to discover the origin of the world and human life, will you remain firmly committed to the God of the Bible who has told us HE created it in the beginning?

No matter how sarcastic and arrogant the scientific community may become in asserting the certainty of uniformitarianism and evolution, will your faith remain solid in its commitment to the Lord of the universe?

2. Will you quit placing limitations of time on God? Will you let him be his eternal self? Pray fervently for God to save your family members, your neighbours and the people of the world, but leave the timing to him.

3. This world is becoming more putrid by the minute. People seem to sin their way into stupidity. Why hasn’t the Lord come by now? It’s His grace.

Since the second coming of Jesus has been delayed, what should your response be in sharing the gospel with family members, your neighbours, and taking the Gospel to the world? Mission societies are always struggling for funds to keep missionaries on the field. Will you become part of the financial solution, even if it is only a few dollars a week? Will you sacrifice, so that others will hear?

Wise people do not lay up treasures on earth. I plead with you to live with heaven on your mind, and not to live as though this dying, wretched world is your home.

4. “Suddenly, instantaneously, the end will come. The Lord will need no time at all. But there will come the Lord’s day as a thief, in which the heavens with a cracking crash… shall pass away; moreover, elements, being heated, shall be dissolved, and earth and the works in it shall be burned up.[33]

Peter is so certain about this sudden destructive blaze that will envelop and destroy the entire world that he repeats it in v. 12, “That day will bring about the destruction of the heavens by fire, and the elements will melt in the heat.”

In light of this FACT, Peter gives the application in v. 11, “What kind of people ought you to be? You ought to live holy and godly lives as you look forward to the day of God and speed its coming.”

God has intervened in judgments in the past: he did it when Adam and Eve sinned, through the World-wide Flood, Sodom and Gomorrah, the confusion of languages at the Towel of Babel; Israel was judged in being sent to Egypt and Babylon.

God will do it again when the world ends in a massive inferno. In light of this, I urge you to live godly lives as you live for Jesus in the town where God placed you and proclaim Christ in an antagonistic culture.

Believers, remember that v. 13 follows: “But in keeping with his promise we are looking forward to a new heaven and a new earth, the home of righteousness.”

Is your mind clean, clear, pure and wholesome in God’s way of thinking?

H.  Works consulted

Alford, Henry. Alford’s Greek Testament: Volume IV, Part II, James -Revelation (containing revisions by Henry Alford up to the time of his death in 1871). Grand Rapids, Michigan: Guardian Press, 1976,

Arndt, W F & Gingrich, F W 1957. A Greek-English Lexicon of the New Testament and other early Christian literature. Chicago: The University of Chicago Press (limited edition licensed to Zondervan Publishing House).

Geisler, Norman L. Ethics: Alternatives and Issues. Grand Rapids, Michigan: Zondervan Publishing House, 1971.

Lenski, R. C. H. The Interpretation of the Epistles of St. Peter, St. John, and St. Jude. Minneapolis, Minnesota: Augsburg Publishing House, 1966.

Parker, Gary. Creation: The Facts of Life. San Diego, California: Master Books, 1980

Robertson, A. T. Word Pictures in the New Testament (Volume VI: The General Epistles and the Revelation of John). Nashville, Tennessee: Broadman Press, 1933.

Shapley, Harlow (ed.), Science Ponders Religion. New York: Appellation Century-Crofts, 1960.

Spence, H.D.M. and Joseph S. Exell (eds.), The Pulpit Commentary (Vol. 22, Epistles of Peter, John & Jude, The Revelation). Grand Rapids, Michigan: Wm. B. Eerdmans Publishing Company, 1950, The Second Epistle General of Peter, exposition and homiletics by B.C. Caffin.

The Heritage Illustrated Dictionary of the English Language: International Edition. Boston: American Heritage Publishing Co., Inc., 1975.

I.  Notes


[1] 2 Peter 3:1, Good News Bible.

[2] 2 Pt. 3:1, Moffatt’s Bible translation, New King James Version.

[3] 2 Pt. 3:1, New International Version (NIV).

[4]Eg., Playboy, Penthouse and Picture magazines.

[5] 2 Pt. 3:1, NIV. Other translations of “wholesome thinking” are: The literal Greek means “pure mind”; “pure thoughts in your mind” (Good News Bible), “sincere mind” (RSV, NASB, RV), “sincere intention” (NRSV), “sincere disposition” (New American Bible), “honest minds” (New Century Version, Weymouth), “honest thought” (NEB, REB), “honest thinking” (Contemporary English Version), “unsullied (sincere) mind” (Amp. Bible), “minds uncontaminated with error” (J.B. Phillips), “unclouded understanding” (New Jerusalem Bible).

[6] Pulpit Commentary, vol 22, 65.

[7] Ibid.

[8] Robertson, Word Pictures in the New Testament, Vol VI, 172.

[9] Ibid.

[10] Michael Green, 2 Peter and Jude (Tyndale New Testament Commentaries). London: The Tyndale Press, 1968, 123.

[11] Marvin R. Vincent, Word Studies in the New Testament (Vol. 1). Grand Rapids, Michigan: Wm. B. Eerdmans Publishing Co., originally published 1887, reprinted 1946, 703.

[12] The Heritage English Dictionary, 1323.

[13] Caffin in Spence and Exell, The Second Epistle General of Peter, 85.

[14] Ibid.

[15] Letters to the Editor, “Marijuana would remain illegal,” M. Buscombe, Bundaberg, in the Bundaberg News-Mail, March 5, 1999, 13.

[16] Friedrich Nietzsche, Anti-Christ. New York: Knopf, 230, in Geisler, Ethics: Alternatives and Issues, 1971, p. 33.

[17] Friedrich Nietzsche, Joyful Wisdom, translated by Thomas Common, Frederick Ungar Publishing Co., 1960, section 125, 167-168, in Geisler, 1971, p. 33.

[18] In Gary Parker, Creation: The Facts of Life. San Diego, California: Master Books, 1980, 139. See also Harlow Shapley (ed.), 1960, 3.

[19]Spence, Exell, Caffin, 86.

[20] Ibid.

[21] Suggested by ibid., 67.

[22] Suggested by ibid., 73.

[23] The original said “Parousia.”

[24] Lenski, 345.

[25] Alford, 415.

[26] Vincent, 705.

[27] The original said, “dilatoriness.”

[28] My deleted section reads, “boulomai [in Greek characters] is often used in this sense, notably in I Tim. 2:8; 5:14; Titus 3:8; etc., Lenski, 346.

[29] Ibid., 345-346, emphasis added.

[30] Ibid., 346.

[31] See also Ezekiel 18:23, which asks: “Do I take any pleasure in the death of the wicked? declares the Sovereign Lord. Rather, am I not pleased when they turn from their ways and live?”

[32] Ibid., 347.

[33] Lenski, 346, emphasis in original.

Copyright © 2022 Spencer D. Gear. This document last updated at Date: 11 January 2022.

The Bible and Chance

Casino Roulette - 3d Render

By Spencer D Gear PhD

Does the Bible teach a doctrine of chance in Ecclesiastes 9:11? This verse reads:

designBlue-small “I have seen something else under the sun: The race is not to the swift or the battle to the strong, nor does food come to the wise or wealth to the brilliant or favor to the learned; but time and chance happen to them all” (NIV).

designBlue-small  “I have observed something else under the sun. The fastest runner doesn’t always win the race, and the strongest warrior doesn’t always win the battle. The wise sometimes go hungry, and the skillful are not necessarily wealthy. And those who are educated don’t always lead successful lives. It is all decided by chance, by being in the right place at the right time” (NLT).

designBlue-small  “Again I saw that under the sun the race is not to the swift, nor the battle to the strong, nor bread to the wise, nor riches to the intelligent, nor favor to those with knowledge, but time and chance happen to them all” (ESV).

designBlue-small “I again saw under the sun that the race is not to the swift and the battle is not to the warriors, and neither is bread to the wise nor wealth to the discerning, nor favor to the skillful; for time and chance overtake them all” (NASB).

designBlue-small  “Again, I observed this on the earth: the race is not always won by the swiftest, the battle is not always won by the strongest; prosperity does not always belong to those who are the wisest, wealth does not always belong to those who are the most discerning, nor does success always come to those with the most knowledge–for time and chance may overcome them all” (NET).

Typography: Ecclesiastes 3:11 - YMIIs this a message only for the Israelites? How can “time and chance happen to all” (ESV) or “overtake them all” (NASB)? The contemporary understanding of chance,[1] in a universe controlled by the Sovereign Lord, do not harmonise.

Don Partain explained the meaning of “time and chance”:

“I again saw under the sun that the race is not to the swift, and the battle is not to the warriors, and neither is bread to the wise, nor wealth to the discerning, nor favor to men of ability; for time and chance overtake them all.” Ecclesiastes 9:11

The writer of Ecclesiastes (who appears to be Solomon) emphasizes how quickly passing, uncertain, and even unfair earthlife is—it’s “vanity.” He doesn’t do this to depress us, but to stress how important it is to live for values and goals that are eternal—and not just be living for earthly pleasure, knowledge, our work, etc.

If we do choose to just live for earthly goals and pleasures as our ultimate goals, we are going to be sorely disappointed—not only after this life is over, but even during this life on earth. You will be disappointed over and over and over!

Here in 9:11, Solomon illustrates how earthlife often just isn’t fair! He says, “the race is not to the swift”—but, it should be, shouldn’t it? In other words, if you are the fastest runner in a race, isn’t it right and fair that you win—and not the slowest runner? And yet, the fastest runner might get “accidentally” bumped off the track, and even injure himself so that he can’t even finish the race. It does happen upon this earth.

Same thing is true about the rest of the statements: “the battle is not to the warriors”. That is, by all rights, the warriors should win the battle—not the on-lookers. But sometimes, the latter are the winners. “The bread” should be to the wise—and “wealth” should be the claim of the “discerning.” But sometimes, fools destroy the fields of the wise, and they extort wealth from them. Lastly, “men of ability” should be the ones winning the favor of those who can employ them. But sometimes, those of little—or no—ability win out instead, by their bribery.

“Time and chance” are things none of us can either know or control. And, they often end up resulting in things that are just not fair.

But, no surprise: as Genesis 3 tells us, we are living upon a cursed earth—and it’s a dead-end, in itself. But it’s a moral and spiritual character builder if we live it by God’s direction, seeking His help, with eternal life with Him in our sights: “The conclusion is, ‘Fear God and keep His commandments, for this is the whole of man’”. Ecclesiastes 12:13 (What does the Bible mean when it says that “time and chance happen to them all”? Ecclesiastes 9:11, Quora.)

“Time and chance” are not to be seen as above the powers and reign of God. We know this because they are things “under the sun,” under God’s control. This is indicated by the use of the singular verb, yikreh, which combines them into one compact idea, as in Isa 13:22 (judgment) and Ezek 7:7 (God’s activity). Chance (pega) is also in 1 Kings 5:28 (in the Hebrew Bible), v. 4 English Bible. It is derived from the verb meaning “to meet.” It usually has the connotation of evil as in “evil occurrence” (1 Kings 5:4).

In summary, people may have resources at their disposal to bring victory in events but God causes things to transpire (‘by chance’) that overthrow the enemy. “Time and chance” are events that happen “under the sun” but they are always under the control of Almighty God. A chance lottery is never something that happens with God.

Notes


[1] The Oxford English Dictionary defines chance as, “A possibility of something happening,” (2021. chance), https://www.lexico.com/en/definition/chance (Accessed 12 December 2021.)

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

Christmas bells mixed with the real thing

File:Christmas bells.png - Wikimedia Commons

By Spencer D Gear PhD

What foolishness or funnies should we expect at Christmastime? Christmas should have nothing to do with jingle bells, Christmas lights, Santa and the sleighs. How did they seep into this holy celebration?

According to history.com, the legend of Santa Claus dates back to about the third century when Saint Nicholas walked the earth. He was the patron saint of children. The shopping mall Santas were promoted by two New Yorkers, Clement Clark Moore and Thomas Nast. They had the major influences on the Santa Claus theory that millions of children anticipate on Christmas Eve.

Bells were a popular form of communication in the Middle Ages (AD 475-1400) and were usually rung from the largest building in the city, which was usually a church. The reason was to communicate a time of the day when an important person arrived or an important announcement was made. They were used to indicate the beginning and end of various events.

Ignorance of nativity

Baby Jesus In Manger Clipart - Clipart library(courtesy Clipart Library)

Recently, I went to the entrance of a leading department store and asked to be directed to a department where I might purchase a small nativity scene. The woman looked bewildered, “What do you want?” I had to explain that nativity referred to birth, and especially the birth of Jesus Christ. A non-Christian friend responded: “You should have expected that. We are not a Christian country but a secular nation.” Is that so?

The Australian Constitution’s introduction

What does the Preamble of the Australian Constitution state?

The Oxford English Dictionary asks: “What a truly great mystery is the Nativity of our Lord!

The introduction (preamble) of the Australian Constitution reads:

An Act to constitute the Commonwealth of Australia

[9th July 1900]

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

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

We still are in severe drought in many parts of Australia. We must not be embarrassed to talk about the Lord God sending the rain after the drought we are still experiencing in some parts of the nation. After all, Australia’s Christian foundation is demonstrated each day when the President of the House of Representatives reads a Christian prayer. Christian values brought to Australia by the First Fleet and enshrined in the Australian Constitution include: ‘Humbly relying on the blessing of Almighty God’.

The real Christmas event

This is related to the commemoration of the birth of Jesus Christ on the first Christmas Day. The Scriptures record the Nativity scenes in Matthew 1-2 and Luke 1-2. While there are some differences in the records, there are some points in common.

The basic narrative is that Mary and Joseph travelled from Nazareth to Bethlehem. There they found no room for them in the inn, so the baby Jesus, when born, was placed in a manger. Such a humble birth was celebrated by choirs of angels and shepherds. Gifts were brought by the Magi. This version appears in Christmas carols and stable scenes. They are used for Christian liturgical readings during the Christmas season.

The manger is not like a baby’s crib (basket) today but was a “long trough from which horses and cattle fed” (Oxford English Dictionary). What a humble beginning for the birth of the Saviour! He died in similar circumstances where there was no exaltation but a humble, excruciating death by crucifixion.

Don’t miss the truth for the glitter!

God sends the rain and withholds it.

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

Foreign idols don’t have the power to bring rain.
The sky does not have the power to send down showers of rain.
You, the Lord our God, are our only hope.
You are the one who made all these things (Jeremiah 14:22 (ERV).

What should we learn from this verse? No foreign gods, including secularism of any sort, have the power to bring rain. No meteorologist (in spite of satellite technology to see the clouds) can cause the rain to fall.

There’s a similar message proclaimed for all people according to this New Testament passage:

But I tell you, love your enemies and pray for those who persecute you, that you may be children of your Father in heaven. He causes his sun to rise on the evil and the good, and sends rain on the righteous and the unrighteous (Matt 5:44-45 NIV).

DroughtWe know who sends the rain and it’s time for the Australian media, politicians and ordinary folks to own up: “We do know that Almighty God sends the rain but we are not prepared to bow down to His laws.” Therefore, the more we pursue secular values, the more droughts, floods, and other disasters we can expect to come from the hand of God who showed what he could do with drought and floods.

See my articles:

clip_image002Australia is in deep trouble: Droughts, floods and fires

clip_image002[1]Get to the heart of the BIG drought, fires and floods

clip_image002[2]Who can break the drought?

clip_image002[3]Dams needed. Who sends the rain?

The great hymns of the faith have been sung by people as varied as George Beverly Shea and Elvis Presley.

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

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Criticizing the Rude and Disrespectful

Never Respond To Rudeness

(image courtesy Timfly)

By Spencer D Gear PhD

I have failed miserably in personally dealing with this topic. Too often I have been angry towards the person who is rude and disrespectful.

Which rude behavior am I addressing? I am speaking of a person “not being polite; offensive or embarrassing” (Cambridge Dictionary 2021. “rude”) This dictionary gave these examples:

  • He’s a very rude man.
  • It’s rude not to say “Thank you” when you are given something.
  • He’s got no manners – he’s rude to everyone.
  • He shouted a collection of rude words at me and stormed off.

I live in Australia where swear words have become part of normal vocabulary. Nevertheless, how does one deal with rude and disrespectful words and action?

My normal approach

I customarily have said to the person, “Excuse me. That’s an unkind way to speak to me.” I consider I should add these elements:

· “Excuse me. That’s unkind language. Would you mind dropping out the “b” and “f” words entirely? At least that lets the person know I don’t appreciate the language. Even if he or she doesn’t change, at least he or she knows I would like them to change the language.

The Golden Rule

This is how I should treat others, even though I know I won’t do it perfectly: “So in everything, do to others what you would have them do to you, for this sums up the Law and the Prophets” (Matt 7:12 NIV). Luke’s version is: “Do to others as you would have them do to you” (Luke 6:31 NIV).

With the Lord’s help, that’s the easier part of the dynamic. Christian actions are part of the sanctification process.

The harder part: How to confront the rude.

Titania Paige wrote:

Dealing with rude people is something we all have to do. In the heat of the moment, when you’re about to “go hulk” on a perpetrator, it can be painstakingly difficult to react in a God glorifying way. Dealing with rude people is no longer a singular, face-to-face interaction either. No,no,no. You’ve got your: “rude-in-person-rude people;” “rude-on-social-media-rude people;” “rude-on-a-text-rude-people;” “rude-behind-your-back-rude-people.” The lists goes on and on my friend.[1]

Titania presented six principles:

1. Don’t take it personally.

She cited Prov 29:11 (NLT): “Fools vent their anger, but the wise quietly hold it back.”

When someone is being rude to you, remember that 99.9% of the time what is really bothering the agitator has nothing to do with you. Usually, the rude fellow is venting about something else, is in pain, or is generally just a rude person. The offender’s rude behavior does not reflect anything negative about you, rather it is a reflection of him or her. Keep in mind, that you yourself have said things to others or about others that were rude at some point.[2]

2. Don’t fuel the flame.

Proverbs 15:1 (NIV) exhorts believers: “A gentle answer turns away wrath, but a harsh word stirs up anger.”

When someone says something rude to you, maybe your first reaction is to deal with them on sight. I know mine is. You’re ready to hit them with something hard: words or fists, whichever comes first. (I’m not picky when I’m angry.) Solomon is speaking the truth here when he says, “a harsh word stirs up wrath.” As far as it depends on us, we are to live at peace with others. (Rom 12:8 ESV).[3]

3. Show them grace.

But to you who are willing to listen, I say, love your enemies! Do good to those who hate you” Luke 6:27 (NLT). This is probably the last word we want to hear from God when somebody is being disrespectful to us. Notice how this response is radically different from what comes naturally. Grace leads to a gracious, loving, caring response.

4. Be patient & humble.

Whether I like it or not, I also have been rude and disrespectful to others. I have a bad habit of becoming angry, especially when another lies about a situation. I did this with a pastor who lied from the pulpit about James Arminius and his view on total depravity. The pastor, a TULIP Calvinist, preached that Arminius did not believe in total depravity. I got angry with the pastor after the service as Arminius did believe in total depravity. How I responded was ungodly, even though the pastor’s content was wrong.

5. Forgive.

“Judge not, and you will not be judged; condemn not, and you will not be condemned; forgive, and you will be forgiven” (Luke 6:37 NIV).

Don’t change the standard for forgiveness when it comes to others. You want to be forgiven when you’re rude, right? Again, we never really know the circumstances of the people we run into, and what makes rude people do the things they do. But we do know that we ourselves have been shown grace by Christ and have been forgiven. That at least should motivate us to forgive others and choose grace over bitterness and revenge every time.[4]

This article by Titania is full of gems of biblical wisdom. This is another example.

6. Pray for Humility.

When you pray to God for humility, you shouldn’t act surprised when he puts you in trying and humiliating situations. Being a secretary in general has taught me so much about humility and how to react when confronted with rude stereotypes and behaviors. In the beginning, I just felt angry and embarrassed when I felt disrespected, but those times have helped me see that I have a tendency to care more about “saving face” than seeing others saved through my witness as a Christian.

Don’t let your pride cause you to displease the Lord. Don’t be ruled by your emotions. You can forgive and bare with rude people because you have been forgiven.[5]

It seems to me that a Christian response to the rude and disrespectful includes the fruit of the Spirit (Gal 5:22-23 ERV): “But the fruit that the Spirit produces in a person’s life is love, joy, peace, patience, kindness, goodness, faithfulness, gentleness, and self-control. There is no law against these kinds of things.”

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(image courtesy needpix.com)

Notes


[1] “How to Deal with Rude People,” Blessed Transgressions, October 20, 2016, accessed 12 October 2021, https://blessedtransgressions.org/how-to-deal-with-rude-people/.

[2] Ibid.

[3] Ibid.

[4] Ibid.

[5] Ibid.

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

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What is good news in a bad news world?

By Spencer D Gear PhD

After the Christchurch NZ massacre of 50 Muslims at Friday prayers on 15 March 2019 and about 50 injured, doesn’t it sound ridiculous to speak of:

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(image courtesy 123RF)

Sadly, there are things much more disastrous than terrorists in action. I mean that. Most Aussies and other people in the world don’t understand the . . .

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(image courtesy dreamstime)

What could be worse than this? Could I be talking about this Australian situation?

However, what are Australian governments doing?

(abortion image courtesy http://100abortionphotos.com/#23)clip_image005

This is a very bad situation, a horror that Australian governments at State and Federal levels are perpetrating.

What could be worse than this abortion? I put it to you that this condition I’m speaking about is far worse than any of the above and it leads to abortion, euthanasia, crime, violence, terrorism, and a glut of other evils.

Where does it come from?

It leads to this kind of warning:

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(image courtesy openclipart.org)

Jeremiah 17:9 (NET) tells us about the source of the problem: “The human mind is more deceitful than anything else. It is incurably bad.[1] Who can understand it?”

A deceitful human mind for all people is the bad news. It infects everything we think about, say or do. In New Testament terms, it is described as, “for all have sinned and fall short of the glory of God” (Rom 3:23 NET). Further,

So what benefit[2] did you then reap[3] from those things that you are now ashamed of? For the end of those things is death. But now, freed[4] from sin and enslaved to God, you have your benefit[5] leading to sanctification, and the end is eternal life. For the payoff[6] of sin is death, but the gift of God is eternal life in Christ Jesus our Lord (Rom 6:21-23 NET).

The effects of this internal sin and then outward actions lead to death but this death does not relate only to the stopping of breathing.

The effects of sin

They are eternal. “For the payoff (wages)[7] of sin is death, but the gift of God is eternal life in Christ Jesus our Lord” (Rom 6:23 NET).

The bad news is so serious because of its eternal consequences. The good news is positive because of its eternal benefits: “The one who believes in the Son has eternal life. The one who rejects[8] the Son will not see life, but God’s wrath[9] remains[10] on him” (John 3:36 NET).

For how long will the unbeliever experience damnation? “And these will depart into eternal punishment, but the righteous into eternal life”[11] (Matt 25:46 NET).

The length of time for punishment for the unbeliever is the same as life for the believer. Which path will you travel for eternal life or eternal damnation? “If you have no desire[12] to worship[13] the LORD, then choose today whom you will worship” (Josh 24:15 NET).

It is the sin within human beings that contaminates

It is the wrongdoing, sinful nature within every human being that drives him or her to do wrong, whether that is stealing from the neighbour, killing unborn children in abortion, or committing adultery.

There is only one solution and that is through a changed heart and mind. I know of only one way to change your and my heart and mind. That’s through a changed relationship with God, brought about through repentance and faith in Jesus Christ. He and He alone can change the human heart to want to pursue God.


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Detail from Michelangelo’s The Last Judgment, Sistine Chapel (courtesy Wikipedia)

Notes


[1] “Or “incurably deceitful”; Heb “It is incurable.” For the word “deceitful” compare the usage of the verb in Gen 27:36 and a related noun in 2 Kgs 10:19. For the adjective “incurable” compare the usage in Jer 15:18. It is most commonly used with reference to wounds or of pain. In Jer 17:16 it is used metaphorically for a “woeful day” (i.e., day of irreparable devastation).sn The background for this verse is Deut 29:18-19 (29:17-18 HT) and Deut 30:17.”

[2] Grk “fruit.”

[3]Grk “have,” in a tense emphasizing their customary condition in the past.’

[4] ‘The two aorist participles translated “freed” and “enslaved” are causal in force; their full force is something like “But now, since you have become freed from sin and since you have become enslaved to God….”

[5] Grk “fruit.”

[6] ‘A figurative extension of ??????? (ops?nion), which refers to a soldier’s pay or wages. Here it refers to the end result of an activity, seen as something one receives back in return. In this case the activity is sin, and the translation “payoff” captures this thought. See also L&N 89.42.’

[7] ‘A figurative extension of ??????? (ops?nion), which refers to a soldier’s pay or wages. Here it refers to the end result of an activity, seen as something one receives back in return. In this case the activity is sin, and the translation “payoff” captures this thought. See also L&N 89.42.’

[8] Or “refuses to believe,” or “disobeys.”

[9] Or “anger because of evil,” or “punishment.”

[10] Or “resides.”

[11] ‘Here the ultimate destination of the righteous is eternal life. In several places Matthew uses “life” or “eternal life” in proximity with “the kingdom of heaven” or merely “the kingdom,” suggesting a close relationship between the two concepts (compare Matt 25:34 with v. 46; Matt 19:16, 17, 29 with vv. 23, 24). Matthew consistently portrays “eternal life” as something a person enters in the world to come, whereas the Gospel of John sees “eternal life” as beginning in the present and continuing into the future (cf. John 5:24).’

[12]Heb “if it is bad in your eyes.”’

[13] Or “to serve.”

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

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Calling for Christians to care

By Spencer D Gear PhD

This will be a very personal article. It will be 5 years on 30 November 2021 since my wife of 48.5 years announced in front of my 3 children and me that she was leaving me. I had loved her for over 50 years.

She committed adultery with the pastor of the church we attended. That was followed by marrying him. She sought my forgiveness for a “short-term physical relationship” she had with him. She did not call it adultery. Of course, I granted her forgiveness.

Seven weeks later she passed away from leukaemia. We knew the leukaemia was coming eventually after battling polycythemia rubra vera for 28 years. It is a type of blood cancer.

clip_image002(image courtesy Wikipedia)

There was not a single person in the church – including elders – who visited with me to bring comfort. Two marriages were wrecked (although the pastor’s marriage was rocky at the time of adultery); two families were devastated.

Churches that do not care

The church was negatively impacted to the point where it has since closed and the members have dispersed to other churches in the region.

I was hurting deeply, but not one person from the church visited. There was no counsel or comfort from the elders of the church. I’m left to conclude, “Church people don’t care or don’t want to become involved in my life.”

Now I’m in another church but the elders have a similar disinterest in caring for me in my hurts.

What I’ve learned

What has my divorce taught me?

clip_image003 There were personal issues (like my anger) that I handled badly.

clip_image003[1] I have been sexually impotent since age 55 and could not take Viagra because of my severe heart condition. I’ve since spoken with my heart surgeon and his view was that Viagra, taken in small regulated doses, could have helped me.

clip_image003[2] There’s a Billy Graham rule I broke (my paraphrase): “Never leave your wife alone with another man.” Since I have a severe heart condition, I could not walk or run with my wife, so I encouraged her to do this with the pastor. She also was an outstanding pianist who spent the closing years of her life learning jazz and played with him as he played clarinet, flute or saxophone. They played in a jazz band. She spent too many hours alone with him playing music.

clip_image003[3] I’m not convinced churches know how to comfort the separated and divorced.

How to help with caring

Scripture gives clear examples of how to extend compassion to those in need:

  • “Rejoice with those who rejoice, weep with those who weep” (Rom 12:15 NET).

There are practical applications here for pastoral care. When someone is happy, rejoice with them. If someone has reason to weep, join with them in providing empathy. I would have appreciated people visiting with me and staying for short periods to weep with me by putting an arm around my shoulder. I remember feeling deep depression to the point of sending my children an email about the songs I want sung at my funeral. I had a visit from a relative who chastised me about doing that.

He didn’t know how to put his arm around my shoulder, pull me close to him, and comfort with speaking words of compassion. I don’t think he knew what to do. I wouldn’t have committed suicide but I sure felt that nobody understood.

  • “He comforts us every time we have trouble so that when others have trouble, we can comfort them with the same comfort God gives us” (2 Cor 1:4 ERV).

This was an important verse for me. I had to be comforted by God Himself who would prepare me to comfort others.

  • “Whoever does not love does not know God, because God is love” (1 John 4:8 NIV).

What I’ve been through was an opportunity for the local Christian believers to love me. It would be a demonstration of love to have Christians bring me meals that I enjoy and give comfort when I wept.

It has taken 5 years to be able to write like this. I never believed the closing years of my wife’s life and my life would be so impacted by a failed marriage. I’ve had one visit from a former elder at the original church. There has been no follow-up care for me.

This may sound egocentric to you but it’s not. I’ve been hurting so deeply I’m only now able to write about the break-up and divorce. One of the shockers was what the new husband said in the obituary at the funeral: “We are ashamed of what we did” and his new wife was in the coffin.

He has not been anywhere near me to seek forgiveness.

A Christian couple has ministered extensively to me in my sorrow. I bless the Lord for them and pray more such people will be found in the churches.

 

Copyright © 2021 Spencer D. Gear. This document last updated at Date: 10 October 2021.

Book Review: Christians, The Urgent Case for Jesus in our World, Greg Sheridan (Crows Nest, NSW: Allen & Unwin, 2021)

Greg Sheridan AO

Sheridan interviewing the Thai Prime Minister Abhisit Vejjajiva, June 2010

Sheridan interviewing the Thai Prime Minister Abhisit Vejjajiva, June 2010 (image courtesy Wikipedia)

By Spencer D Gear PhD

Read the recommendations at the front of this book and you’ll get a view of the ecumenical nature of it for Christians. They range from evangelical, Protestant Anglican, John Dickson (author of A Hell of a Life) to Chris Uhlmann, Channel 9 political editor and newspaper columnist, to Peter Comensoli, Catholic Archbishop of Melbourne.

Greg Sheridan, The Australian‘s foreign editor, is one of the nation’s most influential national security commentators, who is active across television and radio and also writes extensively on culture.

The first half was promising

In this half, Sheridan writes for a general Christian audience – “about the compelling, dramatic, gripping characters you meet in the New Testament” (p. 1). Then at the beginning of chapter 5 one epilogue is from Mother Teresa, “Never travel faster than your guardian angel can fly.” An Essential Poll in Australia in 2017 found “about 40 per cent of Australians believe in angels, which sounds about right” (p. 132).

Sheridan let us know his position: “I certainly believe in Angels. We Catholics have a sacrament called Confirmation, which confers on the recipient the gifts of the Holy Spirit” (p. 134). “Angels are our friends. Surely—surely—we need all the help we can get” (p. 146).

The second half lost its power

An epilogue at the beginning of ch 6 by Larry Siedentop states, “It is hardly too much to say that Paul invented Christianity as a religion” (p. 147). Sheridan has blinkers on to place this kind of statement at the opening of a chapter. There would not be a conversion of Saul on the Road to Damascus without what happened on Golgotha:

Saul was still breathing out murderous threats against the Lord’s disciples. He went to the high priest 2 and asked him for letters to the synagogues in Damascus, so that if he found any there who belonged to the Way, whether men or women, he might take them as prisoners to Jerusalem. 3 As he neared Damascus on his journey, suddenly a light from heaven flashed around him. 4 He fell to the ground and heard a voice say to him, “Saul, Saul, why do you persecute me?”

5 “Who are you, Lord?” Saul asked.

“I am Jesus, whom you are persecuting,” he replied. 6 “Now get up and go into the city, and you will be told what you must do” (Acts 9:1-5 NIV).

Saul was persecuting “the Lord’s disciples,” so Christian disciples were present. “Who are you, Lord?. . . I am Jesus.” Sheridan is flatly wrong. The start of Christianity emerged because of Christ’s death on the cross.

Meet Gemma

Greg Sheridan told of Gemma’s unlikely helper in Tanzania at the School of St Jude. “That helper is St Jude, the Apostle, the patron saint of desperate situations and hopeless causes. . . . When she asks St Jude to help her, she is not asking him to exercise any independent, magical power. She is asking him to pray to God on her behalf, in a normal expression of what Christians call communion of saints” (p. 215).

This is not a biblical view but a Roman Catholic perspective of praying to the saints. It has no biblical warrant. This is how the Roman Catholic Church explains this practice:

One charge made against it is that the saints in heaven cannot even hear our prayers, making it useless to ask for their intercession. But as Scripture indicates, those in heaven are aware of the prayers of those on earth. This can be seen, for example, in Revelation 5:8, where John depicts the saints in heaven offering our prayers to God under the form of “golden bowls full of incense, which are the prayers of the saints.” But if the saints in heaven are offering our prayers to God, then they must be aware of our prayers (“Praying to the Saints”).

So, Roman Catholics don’t pray to the saints. The teaching is that they can ask the saints to pray for them. Nowhere have I found anything in the Bible that instructs Christians to pray to the saints, or to get the saints to pray for them.

We are to approach God directly. That’s the teaching of both the Old and New Testaments: “Let us then approach God’s throne of grace with confidence, so that we may receive mercy and find grace to help us in our time of need” (Heb 4:16 NIV). To whom should Christians pray? “Listen to my prayer, O God, do not ignore my plea” (Ps 55:1 NIV). Therefore, it is false teaching to pray to the saints when Scripture instructs us to pray to God.

Australian Christians in Parliament

Sheridan is rather provocative in this statement – which is his judgement:

I have never met an Australian Christian politician I would say is not sincerely trying to live out their ideals and implement policies for the good—from Penny Wong on the left of the Labor Party to Andrew Hastie on the conservative side of the Liberal Party. It’s legitimate for a politician to think: these policies are the best way I can give effect to my Christian principles; it’s entirely wrong, except in extreme cases, for them to say, only this policy is a Christian policy, or, if you don’t follow my policy, you’re breaching Christian teachings (p. 241).

I find that to be too simplistic and anti-biblical. There are principles in government that are based on biblical foundations and those that are quibbling over a Christian base, don’t know the Scriptures.

It’s legitimate to say a homosexual marriage is anti-biblical. Romans 1:26-27 (NIV) states:

Because of this [the sinful desires of their hearts to sexual impurity for the degrading of their bodies with one another], God gave them over to shameful lusts. Even their women exchanged natural sexual relations for unnatural ones. In the same way the men also abandoned natural relations with women and were inflamed with lust for one another. Men committed shameful acts with other men, and received in themselves the due penalty for their error.

Sheridan doesn’t want to make a judgement about which Christian principles are for the good. God has done it for him in Rom 1:26-27 but he doesn’t want to accept it. Acts 5:29 gives another principle: ‘Peter and the other apostles replied: “We must obey God rather than human beings!”’ (Acts 5:29)

Sheridan’s book is splendidly written by an experienced journalist. For me, it began with great promise but ended with anti-biblical compromise. It’s a promoter of ecumenism, i.e. generic Christianity, that dilutes the cutting edge of Christianity to get rid of the specific Gospel penetrating qualities.

If you have a high view of biblical authority and believe in the Gospel – as I do as a Protestant evangelical – don’t recommend this book. Its sub-heading is: “The urgent case for Jesus in our world.” Which Jesus? I’m convinced Sheridan promotes a compromised Jesus, which I can’t support under any circumstances.

 

9781760879099.jpg

(image courtesy Allen & Unwin, Book Publishers)

Copyright © 2021 Spencer D. Gear. This document last updated at Date: 10 October 2021.

Is climate change true or a hoax?

clip_image002

Photo courtesy ABC News: Hundreds of students defied school warnings to attend a rally at Peregian Beach on the Sunshine Coast. (ABC News: Megan Kinninment)[1]

By Spencer D Gear PhD

Study shows school children influence parents on climate change:[2]

There were 50 rallies planned across Australia for students to protest against what they see as the destruction of their future.

My ears pricked when I read and heard the news that school students left their classrooms for the streets and beaches to protest climate change on 15 March 2019. That’s when I began writing this article.

Who is driving the climate change agenda around the nation? Are teachers in the classroom advocates for this position or are children and youth motivated by their parents and peers? Or, is the Australian Labor Party and the Greens’ agenda so powerful that it’s influencing people, right down to children and youth?

It was estimated that 20,000 people in Melbourne rallied outside parliament house.

What is the natural breakdown of gases in the earth’s atmosphere?

clip_image004

(image courtesy The Engineering ToolBox)

So, the majority of our dry atmosphere is made up of two main gases: Nitrogen (79%) and Oxygen (21%) with a very small percentage of other gases (ca 1%).

1. What is climate change or global warming?

‘Climate change’ and ‘global warming’ are used in this article as synonyms.

This is the Australian Government (Department of the Environment and Energy’s) explanation:

1.1  Understanding climate change

Our climate is changing. Observed changes over the 20th century include increases in global average air and ocean temperature, rising global sea levels, long-term sustained widespread reduction of snow and ice cover, and changes in atmospheric and ocean circulation and regional weather patterns, which influence seasonal rainfall conditions.?

These changes are caused by extra heat in the climate system due to the addition of greenhouse gases to the atmosphere. The additional greenhouse gases are primarily input by human activities such as the burning of fossil fuels (coal, oil, and natural gas), agriculture, and land clearing. These activities increase the amount of heat-trapping greenhouse gases in the atmosphere. The pattern of observed changes in the climate system is consistent with an increased greenhouse effect. Other climatic influences like volcanoes, the sun and natural variability cannot alone explain the timing and extent of the observed changes.

The science behind climate change is supported by extensive scientific research performed and reported across the world. Past and present climate information is collected from observations and measurements of our environment, including trapped air in ice from thousands of years ago. Climate models are used to understand the causes of climate change and to project changes into the future.

Many of the impacts of climate change pose risks to human and natural systems, in the form of more frequent and severe heat waves, coastal inundation due to sea level rise, disruptions to rainfall patterns and other effects. Analyses of a range of climate scenarios indicate the most severe risks of climate change can largely be mitigated if carbon dioxide emissions are reduced to the point where carbon dioxide is no longer accumulating in the atmosphere.[3]

It is signed, sealed and delivered according to the Australian government.

Is it true that ‘the science behind climate change is supported by extensive scientific research performed and reported across the world’?[4]

The CSIRO in Australia claims:

The international scientific community accepts that increases in greenhouse gases due to human activity have been the dominant cause of observed global warming since the mid-20th century. Continued emissions of greenhouse gases will cause further warming and changes in all components of the climate system.[5]

This sounds reasonable and plausible. Are there any substantive objections to this analysis?

Shock jock and prominent radio commentator, Alan Jones, formerly of radio 2GB Sydney told a small group in 2012 in Melbourne,

“The notion of global warming is a hoax,” Jones told a group of about 150 people on the steps of the Victorian Parliament. ”This is witchcraft. Commonsense will tell you it’s rubbish; 97 per cent of all carbon dioxide occurs naturally . . . 3 per cent around the world is created by human beings.”[6]

He now works as a commentator for Sky News. Campbell Newman told Jones:

Debate over climate policy is heating up ahead of the COP26[7] Climate Change Conference in Glasgow, with pressure building on Australia to commit to a net-zero by 2050 target.[8]

“People are hell-bent on doing this,” Mr Newman said.

“What will we see? We’ll see the rural sector in Australia decimated … we’ll also see importantly the coal and the fossil fuel producing parts of our economy and our regions decimated.

“They absolutely do not know the extent of the economic carnage they’ll create.”[9]

This target will decimate coal mining and gas mining industries and communities.

clip_image006(sulphur hexafluoride molecule,[10] courtesy Wikipedia)

2. Is it true or fake as demonstrated by science?

NASA Global Climate Change: Vital Signs of the Planet[11] provided this graph to demonstrate the warming of the planet from 1880-2018:

clip_image008In interpreting this data, NASA makes what seems to be a reasonable assessment:

Multiple studies published in peer-reviewed scientific journals show that 97 percent or more of actively publishing climate scientists agree: Climate-warming trends over the past century are extremely likely due to human activities. In addition, most of the leading scientific organizations worldwide have issued public statements endorsing this position. The following is a partial list of these organizations, along with links to their published statements and a selection of related resources.[12]

Starting on 31 October 2021 there is an important event for the climate change promoters:

The 2021 UN Climate Change Conference, to be held in Glasgow from October 31 to November 12 this year, is a talk-fest designed to pressure countries like Australia to close down the fossil-fuel industries that provide most of the country’s electricity, oil and gas to stop “climate change”.

Within the broad conference is a more specialised meeting, the 26th meeting of the Conference of the Parties (COP26) of the Inter­govern­mental Panel on Climate Change. The longer name has been abbreviated to COP26, in the shorthand beloved by bureaucrats the world over.[13]

This article highlights:

The price of electricity and gas . . . has risen dramatically with the closure of coal-fired power stations in each state.[14]

2.1 Climate change for novices

I admit I’m a novice at trying to understand this science. For those of us who are not climatologists or scientists, this topic may be daunting and confusing. My exposure to the mass media and policies of political parties shows that climate change is pushed regularly. It seems to be a Greens’ Party mantra. These are only a few pro-climate change articles but there are many more:

clip_image010Bill Shorten treads gently with careful climate change plan’ (The Canberra Times, 1 April 2019).

clip_image010[1]Serious concerns”: New study reveals how heatwave hit Shark Bay dolphins hard’ (The Sydney Morning Herald, 2 April 2019)

clip_image010[2]The Coalition has painted itself into a fiscal corner, just like it has on climate change(ABC News, Brisbane Qld, 6 April 2019).

clip_image010[3]What are major parties’ climate change policies?’ (news.com.au, 2 April 2019)

These three major news’ sources (The Canberra Times and The Sydney Morning Herald are part of the Fairfax organisation) report as if climate change is an accepted fact.

Is it so or not?

See also,

clip_image011What happened to the climate change election?

clip_image011[1]Australian election could have global climate change impact

clip_image011[2]Election 2019: What happened to the climate change vote we heard about?

2.2 Policies of Australian political parties

As I wrote this (23 April 2019), we were in the midst of campaigning for a federal election to be held on Saturday, 18 May 2019. Climate change or global warming is the mantra for the Labor Party and the Greens’ Party. These are their policies:

2.2.1 The Labor Party

Part of its policy is:

Consistent with our obligations under Paris of keeping global warming to well-below two degrees above pre-industrial levels, and informed by independent Climate Change Authority advice, Labor is committed to reducing Australia’s pollution by 45 percent on 2005 levels by 2030, and to reach net zero pollution by 2050. . . .

Making Australia a Renewable Energy Superpower by ensuring that 50 per cent of the nation’s electricity is sourced from renewable energy by 2030, and empowering households and businesses to take advantage of cheap, clean renewable energy and storage.[15]

There are many more details in this policy, but that sample gives a peep into Labor’s support of global warming and that is obvious in its 2019 marketing for the election.

2.2.2 The Greens

Part of its vision is:

Our future is too important to leave up to the fossil fuel lobby and the major party politicians they’ve bought. The Greens have a plan, based on the science, to rapidly transition our economy to renewable energy and end political donations from mining companies. Without the big polluters holding us back, we can create the infrastructure and jobs needed to drive a cleaner, modern economy.

The Labor and Liberal parties will try to convince you that we can only have cheaper energy bills or renewable power. Don’t believe them: we can have both.[16]

It’s obvious The Greens see the only way to address climate change is to get rid of fossil fuel and invest in renewable energy sources.

2.2.3 The Liberal Party

On the LP website was this video by Professor Ivar Giaever, 1973 Nobel Laureate in physics, who said that “Global warming is pseudoscience.” He ‘trashes the global warming/climate change/extreme weather pseudoscientific clap-trap and tells Obama he is “Dead Wrong”’. Hear what he said here.

“Global warming expert Don Easterbrook, a professor of geology at Western Washington University, says that the planet is actually getting cooler. Easterbrook recently spoke in Chicago at the 4th International Conference on Climate Change.”

2.2.4 The National Party

The policy of the federal National Party regarding global warming is:

Meeting the challenges of climate change

We need to meet the challenges of a changing climate in a sensible way that protects our natural environment and sustainability but doesn’t throw out our way of life, local jobs and industries.

Through investing in technology, world leading management practices, renewable energy and practical action we are working to tackle climate change and help our natural environment to safely coexist with industries such as agriculture and resources.

Looking after the environment starts locally, and we want to empower communities to take practical action to protect our natural environment.

We want our agricultural sector to continue to grow and build resilience and sustainability in a changing environment. Making sure water resources are strengthened and preserved through innovation and infrastructure and supporting sustainable and clean, green practices.[17]

I find this to be a weak statement as it avoids the specifics of whether it supports the coal and gas industries in regional Australia. At least the Liberals raised persons who questioned the pseudoscience of global warming.

3. ‘Global warming is a hoax’.

One layperson called it ‘the concocted global warming hoax’.[18] Shock jock Alan Jones of radio 2GB, Sydney, Australia is adamant, ‘The notion of global warming is a hoax’.[19] This is close to the statements made by Professor Ivar Giaever and Professor Don Easterbrook (see above).

3.1 The fake news of climate change

This is exposed in the article by Tom Harris and Timothy Ball:[20]

Canadian Environment Minister Catherine McKenna is arguably the most misinformed of the lot, saying in a recent interview that “polluters should pay.” She too either does not know that CO2 is not a pollutant, or she is deliberately misleading people.

Like many of her political peers, McKenna dismisses credentialed PhD scientists who disagree with her approach, labelling them “deniers.” She does not seem to understand that questioning scientific hypotheses, even scientific theories, is what all scientists should do, if true science is to advance….

Mistakes such as those made by McKenna are not surprising, considering that from the outset the entire claim of anthropogenic global warming (AGW) was built on falsehoods and spread with fake news. [21]

Harris and Ball explained:

An increasing number of climate scientists (including Dr. Ball)[22] now conclude that there is no empirical evidence of human-caused global warming. There are only computer model speculations that humans are causing it, and every forecast made using these models since 1990 has been wrong – with actual temperatures getting further from predictions with every passing year.

President Trump must now end America’s participation in the fake science and fake news of manmade global warming. To do this, he must withdraw the U.S. from further involvement with all U.N. global warming programs, especially the IPCC, as well as the agency that now directs it – the United Nations Framework Convention on Climate Change.[23]

They describe how the fake news of human-caused climate change was promoted as far back as 1988 when the World Meteorological Organization and United Nations Environment Program (UNEP) created the United Nations Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change (IPCC).

Hamilton Spectator (Hamilton, ON, Canada) investigative reporter, Elaine Dewar, concluded that the all-embracing purpose of the IPCC was political and not scientific. Dewar wrote that Maurice Strong, the first executive director of UNEP, ‘was using the U.N. as a platform to sell a global environment crisis and the global governance agenda’.

3.2 Global warming is true.

Democratic Senator in the US, Timothy Wirth, organised for a leading scientist, Jim Hansen, head of the Goddard Institute for Space Studies, to the hearings in 1988. Wirth stated at that time ‘we had introduced a major piece of legislation. Amazingly enough, it was an 18-part climate change bill’.[24] After his address, Hansen received the reputation of being ‘the father of global warming’.[25]

Hansen recalls some of what he said:

it was time to stop waffling so much, and say that the evidence is pretty strong that the greenhouse effect is here and is affecting our climate….

I said that I was 99 percent confident that the world really was getting warmer and that there was a high degree of probability that it was due to human-made greenhouse gases. I think it was the “99 percent probability” statement which got a lot of attention, because that was a fairly strong statement….

we don’t have a lot of time to begin to change the technologies and the energy infrastructure so that we can avoid what [are] really dangerous climate changes….

Scientifically, it’s just very clear that if we don’t make changes within the next few years that we’re going to be past a point where we can prevent large, dangerous changes….

There are just some very fundamental facts which are not understood by the public and, frankly, not understood by many policymakers. For example, more than a quarter of the carbon dioxide that we put into the atmosphere will stay there … more than 500 years, and that means we cannot burn all of the fossil fuels without producing a different planet. If a scientist doesn’t say that, I don’t think the public’s going to know that.[26]

3.2.1 NASA exposed Hansen’s global warming ideology

In Harris & Ball’s view, the events of 1988 ‘created an unholy alliance between a bureaucrat and a politician, which was bolstered by the U.N. and the popular press – leading to the hoax being accepted in governments, industry boardrooms, schools and churches all across the world’.[27]

How did NASA respond to Hansen’s promotion of climate change in 1988?

Dr. John S. Theon, Hansen’s former supervisor at NASA, wrote to the Senate Minority Office at the Environment and Public Works Committee on January 15, 2009. “Hansen was never muzzled, even though he violated NASA’s official agency position on climate forecasting (i.e., we did not know enough to forecast climate change or mankind’s effect on it). Hansen thus embarrassed NASA by coming out with his claims of global warming in 1988 in his testimony before Congress.”[28]

Dr Theon continued:

the US Senate Committee on Environment and Public Works reports that James Hansen’s former supervisor, retired senior NASA atmospheric scientist Dr. John S. Theon, former Chief of the Climate Processes Research Programme at NASA who was responsible for all weather and climate research in the agency from1982 to 1994, has said he thinks man-made global warming theory is anti-scientific bunk:

‘I appreciate the opportunity to add my name to those who disagree that global warming is man-made,’ Theon wrote to the Minority Office at the Environment and Public Works Committee on January 15, 2009. ‘I was, in effect, Hansen’s supervisor because I had to justify his funding, allocate his resources, and evaluate his results. I did not have the authority to give him his annual performance evaluation….

Hansen was never muzzled even though he violated NASA’s official agency position on climate forecasting (i.e., we did not know enough to forecast climate change or mankind’s effect on it). Hansen thus embarrassed NASA by coming out with his claims of global warming in 1988 in his testimony before Congress….

Theon declared ‘climate models are useless.’ ‘My own belief concerning anthropogenic climate change is that the models do not realistically simulate the climate system because there are many very important sub-grid scale processes that the models either replicate poorly or completely omit,’ Theon explained. ‘Furthermore, some scientists have manipulated the observed data to justify their model results. In doing so, they neither explain what they have modified in the observations, nor explain how they did it. They have resisted making their work transparent so that it can be replicated independently by other scientists. This is clearly contrary to how science should be done. Thus there is no rational justification for using climate model forecasts to determine public policy,’ he added.[29]

So, a leading NASA weather scientist concluded in 2009:

clip_image013 ‘man-made global warming theory is anti-scientific bunk’;

clip_image013[1] ‘anthropogenic climate change is that the models do not realistically simulate the climate system’;

clip_image013[2] ‘Hansen thus embarrassed NASA by coming out with his claims of global warming in 1988’;

clip_image013[3] ‘climate models are useless’;

clip_image013[4] ‘some scientists have manipulated the observed data to justify their model results’;

clip_image013[5] They [some scientists] have resisted making their work transparent so that it can be replicated independently by other scientists’;

clip_image013[6] ‘This is clearly contrary to how science should be done’;

clip_image013[7] ‘Thus there is no rational justification for using climate model forecasts to determine public policy’.[30]

clip_image015See: There’s an interesting article being discussed in On Line Opinion, Why do scientists disagree about climate change?

clip_image015[1] https://www.theguardian.com/environment/climate-consensus-97-per-cent/2013/sep/27/global-warming-ipcc-report-humans

clip_image015[2] https://www.desmogblog.com/denial-down-under-galileo-movement

4. Renewable energy

clip_image017(photo of wind farm courtesy Wikipedia)

4.1 Who encouraged these strikes by youth?

These students are part of a global movement ‘inspired by Swedish teenager Greta Thunberg’. Some of Greta’s story can be read in the interview with her, Greta Thunberg, schoolgirl climate change warrior: ‘Some people can let things go. I can’t’ (The Guardian, 11 March 2019).

ABC News reported:

Federal Education Minister Dan Tehan said he would meet with the climate strikers to discuss their concerns outside of school hours, while Queensland Premier Annastacia Palaszczuk said the protests should have been held on a weekend.

“Students leaving school during school hours to protest is not something that we should encourage,” Mr Tehan said….

Especially when they are being encouraged to do so by green political activists“.[31]

There was union support for the strike by school-aged youth:

This year’s event is [was] already being supported by a growing number of unions including the National Union of Workers, National Tertiary Education Union, United Firefighters Union, Hospo Voice, the Victorian Allied Health Professionals Association and the National Union of Students.[32]

Fifty rallies were planned on 15 March across Australia as these students claimed their futures are being destroyed.

5. Australia’s 2019 ‘climate change’ election

clip_image019 See, ‘What happened to the climate change election?

clip_image019[1]Australian election could have global climate change impact

clip_image019[2]Election 2019: What happened to the climate change vote we heard about?

6. Conclusion

The Liberal Party, which seems to be the Party rejecting climate change and having videos by scientists claiming climate change is pseudoscience, won the election. Its Coalition partner, The National Party, seems to advocate a fence-sitting position.

As for me, I consider climate change has more to do with advertising hype than scientific substance. Therefore, I’m not convinced by the ravings of Labor and the Greens. No international conference will convince me there is a need to eliminate coal and gas-fired power stations that will devastate communities, especially in light of what happens naturally in our environment.

clip_image021

(Photo: Students gathered on the steps of South Australia’s Parliament House. (ABC News: Gabriella Marchant)

Notes

[1] ABC News, Brisbane, Qld 2019. Climate change strikes across Australia see student protesters defy calls to stay in school (online). Available at: https://www.abc.net.au/news/2019-03-15/students-walk-out-of-class-to-protest-climate-change/10901978 (Accessed 5 April 2019).

[2] See: https://www.popsci.com/kids-change-parents-minds-climate

[3] Available at: http://www.environment.gov.au/climate-change/climate-science-data/climate-science/understanding-climate-change (Accessed 5 April 2019).

[4] Ibid.

[5] CSIRO n.d. Climate change information for Australia (online). Available at: https://www.csiro.au/en/Research/OandA/Areas/Oceans-and-climate/Climate-change-information (Accessed 5 April 2019).

[6] Ben Cubby 2012. Climate change a hoax, Jones tells tax protesters. The Sydney Morning Herald (online), 2 July. Available at: https://www.smh.com.au/politics/federal/climate-change-a-hoax-jones-tells-tax-protesters-20120701-21b3z.html (Accessed 5 April 2019).

[7] “COP” stands for “Conference of the Parties.”

[8] That’s “net-zero” carbon emissions and approx. 100% renewable energy by 2050/

[9] Alan Jones, Sky News, “People have ‘every right’ to question climate projections: Newman,” 5 October 2021, accessed 8 October 2021, https://www.skynews.com.au/opinion/alan-jones/people-have-every-right-to-question-climate-projections-newman/video/55de0f35e23415c4910325fa656d0d83.

[10] ‘Sulfur hexafluoride (SF6) is an inorganic, colorless, odorless, non-flammable, non-toxic extremely potent greenhouse gas, and an excellent electrical insulator. SF6 has an octahedral geometry, consisting of six fluorine atoms attached to a central sulphur atom…. SF6 is used in the electrical industry as a gaseous dielectric medium for high-voltage circuit breakers, switchgear, and other electrical equipment, often replacing oil filled circuit breakers (OCBs) that can contain harmful PCBs…. SF6 is used as a contrast agent for ultrasound imaging.’ (Wikipedia 2019. s.v. Sulfur hexafluoride).

[11] NASA Global Climate Change 2019. Scientific consensus: Earth’s climate is warming (online), 19 April. Available at: https://climate.nasa.gov/scientific-consensus/ (Accessed 23 April 2019).

[12] Ibid.

[13] News Weekly, National Civic Council, “COP26 highlights high cost of Green insanity,” 6 October, accessed 8 October, https://ncc.org.au/newsweekly/cover-story/cop26-highlights-high-cost-of-green-insanity/.

[14] Ibid.

[15] Labor’s Climate Change Action Plan n.d. Available at: https://www.alp.org.au/media/1692/labors_climate_change_action_plan.pdf (Accessed 23 April 2019).

[16] The Greens n.d. Our Vision: Renewable Energy & Climate Change (online). Available at: https://greens.org.au/platform/renewables (Accessed 23 April 2019).

[17] Nationals for Regional Australia, accessed 8 October 2021, https://nationals.org.au/policies/protecting-our-local-way-of-life-for-future-generations/.

[18] Mark Poynter 2019. Closing a renewable timber industry for carbon credits is far from ‘common sense’. On Line Opinion (online), 5 March. Comments: Posted by calwest, Friday, 5 April 2019 1:21:52 PM. Available at: http://forum.onlineopinion.com.au/thread.asp?article=20243 (Accessed 6 April 2019).

[19] Ben Cubby op. cit.

[20] ‘Dr. Timothy Ball is a renowned environmental consultant and former climatology professor at the University of Winnipeg, Manitoba, Canada’ as stated in the following footnote.

[21] Tom Harris & Timothy Ball 2017. Global warming: Fake News From the Start. The Heartland Institute (online), 20 December. Available at: https://www.heartland.org/news-opinion/news/global-warming-fake-news-from-the-start (Accessed 6 April 2019).

[22] Co-author of this article.

[23] Harris & Ball op. cit.

[24] PBS Frontline 2007. Interviews Timothy Wirth (online), 24 April. Available at: https://www.pbs.org/wgbh/pages/frontline/hotpolitics/interviews/wirth.html (Accessed 6 April 2019).

[25] PBS Frontline 2007. Interviews James Hansen (online), 24 April. Available at: https://www.pbs.org/wgbh/pages/frontline/hotpolitics/interviews/hansen.html (Accessed 6 April 2019).

[26] Ibid.

[27] Harris & Ball op. cit.

[28] Harris & Ball op. cit.

[29] Doug Bandow 2009. What NASA Thinks of James Hansen. Global Warming.org (online), 29 January. Available at: http://www.globalwarming.org/2009/01/29/what-nasa-thinks-of-james-hansen/ (Accessed 6 April 2019).

[30] Statements from ibid.

[31] ABC News, Brisbane, Qld. Climate change strikes across Australia see student protesters defy calls to stay in school (online), 15 March, emphasis added. Available at: https://www.abc.net.au/news/2019-03-15/students-walk-out-of-class-to-protest-climate-change/10901978 (Accessed 5 April 2019).

[32] Charis Chang 2019. news.com.au (online). Unions back next school strike in Australia ahead of 2019 federal election (online), 11 February. Available at: https://www.news.com.au/technology/environment/climate-change/unions-back-next-school-strike-in-australia-ahead-of-2019-federal-election/news-story/50dcdc9aae668636129232bdc0518841 (Accessed 5 April 2019).

Copyright © 2021 Spencer D. Gear. This document last updated at Date: 08 October 2021.

clip_image022clip_image022

How to write a biblical fairy tale

Fantastic Landscape With Mushrooms. Illustration To The Fairy Tale "Alice In Wonderland"

(image courtesy PublicDomainPictures.net)

By Spencer D Gear PhD

WriteShop gives this advice on how to write a fairy tale:[1] Kim, on this blog, states a fairy tale contains these elements:

The fairy tale genre needs to include certain basic elements. Otherwise, it may not be a fairy tale at all!

These characteristics mark a story as a fairy tale:

  • It usually begins with “Once upon a time,” “Long ago,” or “Once there was a …”
  • The story takes place in a distant or make-believe land.
  • It features imaginary characters such as dragons, fairies, elves, and giants.
  • Things happen in threes and sevens (three bears, three wishes, seven brothers).
  • Wishes are often granted.
  • A difficult problem is solved at the end of the story.
  • Good triumphs over evil.
  • The story has a happy ending.

In addition, a fairy tale will often include:

  • Royal characters such as kings and princesses
  • Talking animals
  • Magical elements such as magic beans, fairy dust, enchanted castle

J.J. Sunset’s Blog gives these steps:[2]

Instructions

clip_image003 Step 1

Decide what lesson your fairy tale is going to teach before you write it. At their core, fairy tales are morality tales from the horror of stepmothers to not talking to strangers. They are generally teaching something and yours should do the same.

clip_image003[1]Step 2

Create a good character. A fairy tale needs someone to root for. They don’t have to be perfect. Just think Jack in “Jack and the Beanstalk” or Red in “Little Red Riding Hood” but your readers should like them and want them to succeed.

clip_image003[2]Step 3

Devise an evil character. A fairy tale must have an evil character that works as an antagonist to the good character. The evil character usually has special powers of some sort and they must use those powers in a way to cause the good character pain.

clip_image003[3]Step 4

Design a magical character or object to write into the fairy tale. The magical character can be the evil character but many fairy tales have both good and evil magical characters that work to off-set the other’s influence.

clip_image003[4]Step 5

Identify what obstacles your good character is going to have to face. Whatever the obstacle, it should seem insurmountable and genuinely require a bit of creativity by your good character and a little magical assistance.

clip_image003[5]Step 6

Cute Cartoon Castle. FairyTale Cartoon Castle. Fantasy Fairy Tale Palace With Rainbow. Vector IllustrationWrite a happy ending. A fairytale isn’t a fairytale unless it has a happy ending. Your good character must succeed and your evil character must lose and lose in a big way so you can write your “happily ever after.”

I gave these two examples of how to create a fairy tale because sometimes scholars state the Bible is a fairy tale.

How to pick fiction from nonfiction

Matt Grant explained:

For writers and readers alike, it’s sometimes hard to tell the difference between fiction and nonfiction. In general, fiction refers to plot, settings, and characters created from the imagination, while nonfiction refers to factual stories focused on actual events and people. However, the difference between these two genres is sometimes blurred, as the two often intersect.

He further made the assessment that nonfiction is factual, based on true events such as histories, biographies, journalism and essays. If fiction has “a few smatterings of fact” in it, that does not make the nonfiction true. However, “a few fabrications” in nonfictions “can force that story to lose all credibility.”

Here are a few indexes to use to determine the historical reliability of an historical writing.

Indexes (criteria) of historical trustworthiness[3]

These include:

1. Early Multiple Attestation

Multiple Attestation refers to a fact or event that appears to have been preserved down multiple lines of independent tradition is more likely to be true than one that is only preserved down a single line.

2. Dissimiliarity

The ‘criteria of dissimilarity’ . . . essentially contains two different criteria, that of the ‘criteria of distinction from Judaism’(CDJ ) and ‘Criteria of distinction from Christianity‘(CDC) [Swales 2008].

3. Embarrassment

A fact or event that appears to cause embarrassment to the theology of the gospel authors is less likely to have been invented by them than a fact or event that bolsters their theology.

For example, since the Jews had a low view of women, the women who were waiting for Jesus at the empty tomb, makes the account more credible.

4. Coherence

Coherence: A fact or event that appears to be consistent with our present understanding of the historical context is more likely to be true than one which appears to be at odds with it.

5. Semitisms

This criterion states that the historicity of a New Testament sentence p is more probable if it contains traces of an Aramaic or Hebraic origin. Since the New Testament was written in Greek and Jesus spoke Aramaic, traces of Aramaic in the Greek of the New Testament argue in favour of a primitive tradition that originates in Jesus. We see this, for example, in Paul’s quotation of a creedal tradition in Corinthians. “I delivered to you,” he reminds the Corinthians, “what I also received,” suggesting the transmission of an oral tradition. Paul then recites a list of eyewitnesses to the risen Jesus which, as Habermas and Licona point out, contains numerous hints of an Aramaic origin that would seem to vouch for its authenticity—including the fourfold use of the Greek term for “that,” hoti, common in Aramaic narration, and the use of the name Cephas (“He appeared to Cephas”) which is the Aramaic for Peter (Miles 2018).

Conclusion

I’ve shown how to write fairy tales in that genre. We are being absolutely unreasonable with language and research if we want to turn biblical research into making fairy tales. The Gospels are stoutly historical – based on the indices of authenticity applied to them.

Works consulted

Mines, Ben 2018. Thinking Matters, “The Criteria of Historical Authenticity,” 4 February, accessed 8 October 2021, https://thinkingmatters.org.nz/2018/02/the-criteria-of-historical-authenticity/.

Swales, Jon 2008. Theological Ramblings, “The Quest for the Historical Jesus: Criteria of Dissimilarity,” 10 March, accessed 8 October 2021, https://ordinand.wordpress.com/2008/03/10/the-quest-for-the-historical-jesus-criteria-of-dissimilarity/.

Notes


[1] Available at: https://writeshop.com/genres-how-to-write-a-fairy-tale/, accessed 8 October 2021.

[2] Available at: https://jjsunset.wordpress.com/sunsets-factory/writing-a-fairy-tale-step-by-step-instructions/, accessed 8 October 2021.

[3] These are based on: Ben Mines 2018. The criteria of historical authenticity, Thinking Matters (online), 4 February. Available at: https://thinkingmatters.org.nz/2018/02/the-criteria-of-historical-authenticity/ (Accessed 5 August 2019).

Copyright © 2021 Spencer D. Gear. This document last updated at Date: 08 October 2021.

Was the Apocrypha in the Hebrew Old Testament Bible?

clip_image001

Copies of the Luther Bible include the deuterocanonical books as an intertestamental section between the Old Testament and New Testament;

they are termed the “Apocrypha” in Christian Churches having their origins in the Reformation (image courtesy “Wikipedia”)

By Spencer D Gear PhD

Why would the issue of the contents of the Apocrypha become important for a Christian? Should Christians be reading the Apocrypha as a normal part of Bible reading?

I was alerted to this when I was interacting with an Eastern Orthodox Church (EOC) person or priest on a Christian Forum. He stated:

Church of St. George, Istanbul (August 2010).jpg

Saint George’s Cathedral, Istanbul, Turkey (courtesy Wikipedia)

I am personally not prepared to say that nobody outside the EOC, who has heard the Gospel and believed and lived as a Christian, was never saved. Note that the EOC also believes that growth toward God continues after death. I will not say that John Wesley or Mother Theresa will be cast into a lake of fire because they were not under a particular bishop. I will say, though, that I believe that the EOC has the fullness of Christian truth and worship, and that it is where all Christians should be. I also believe that there is need for great humility on all sides, including and maybe especially on ours, as we strive to actually understand what others are saying, and recognize what we have in common rather than focus on what keeps us apart.[1]

In this response, he proceeded to advocate prayer for the dead, praying to the dead, prayer to angels, icons as a meeting point between the living and the dead, the grace of God being active in the relics of the saints, salvation only in the EOC or not.

In an earlier response he stated:

You’ve once again hit on the key difference between us. And it was the key difference for me also, when I first encountered Orthodoxy.
It isn’t what you’re saying, but rather what you are not saying. If I can fill in as best I can, based on our past interactions…
“You provided too many examples…regarding icons…etc…that are not compatible with [my interpretation of Scripture, which is informed from Evangelical Protestant traditions about Scripture, its interpretation and applications, and presuppositions about what the Church is and where it is found, and based on a hermeneutical method of Critical Realism, which largely dates to the 20th Century and is mostly the product of Evangelical Protestant theologians].”
Without mincing words, your hermeneutic (and the philosophy behind it) is a TRADITION. So I have to ask, on what basis is your tradition–or that of McGrath or Wright or other “critical realists”–to be preferred over the much older and much broader orthodox/catholic tradition?

The fact that the answers I gave above, don’t measure up to your understanding of Scripture, could mean that I (and a huge portion of Christians going back to the early Church Fathers on most of those topics) are all wrong. Or, it could mean that your tradition of protestant hermeneutics and critical realism fails to measure up to the tradition of the Church.
Just something for consideration. But really, I’d like to hear your answer on why your tradition of interpreting Scripture, is better than Orthodoxy’s. Where is Critical Realism found in Scripture?[2]

My rejoinder was:

I object strongly to what you did here. I stated:

You provided too many examples in your response regarding icons, communicating with the dead, angels, etc. that are not compatible with Scripture. I would not be pursuing any EOC action.

So what did you do? You distorted and contorted this with your interpretation of what I DID NOT state:

You provided too many examples…regarding icons…etc…that are not compatible with [my interpretation of Scripture, which is informed from Evangelical Protestant traditions about Scripture, its interpretation and applications, and presuppositions about what the Church is and where it is found, and based on a hermeneutical method of Critical Realism, which largely dates to the 20th Century and is mostly the product of Evangelical Protestant theologians.

That is your imposition on what I stated. It is eisegesis of my writings.
Your foray into Critical Realism is a red herring logical fallacy. It doesn’t relate to the topic of the thread. If you have difficulty with a critical realist epistemology, please start a separate thread to address your concerns.
My authority for determining the boundaries of doctrine is Scripture. I do not find these doctrines in Scripture that you affirmed that the EOC teaches:

  • praying to the dead;
  • prayer to angels;
  • icons as a “meeting point” between the temporal and the eternal;
  • prayer for the dead;
  • The grace of God being active in the relics of the saints;
  • salvation is to be found in the EOC;
  • The presence of God himself is made real to us in the sacraments.
  • growth toward God continues after death;
  • I believe that the EOC has the fullness of Christian truth and worship, and that it is where all Christians should be;
  • I hold baptism to be necessary but not sufficient [for salvation];

I think that we’ll need to agree that the teachings of our various denominations are incompatible with each other. [3]

Scripture or tradition?

I asked this person:[4] 2 Tim 3:16-17 states: “All Scripture is breathed out by God and profitable for teaching, for reproof, for correction, and for training in righteousness, that the man of God may be competent, equipped for every good work” (ESV).
To which Scripture is Paul referring that is “profitable for teaching, for reproof, for correction, and for training in righteousness”?
He is not telling us which tradition is “profitable for teaching, for reproof, for correction, and for training in righteousness.”
To which Scripture is Paul telling us to go for teaching?

Part of his response was:

In context, he’s referring to the Jewish scriptures with which Timothy had been taught from childhood. I’m not entirely sure just which books Timothy would have considered canonical, but I believe there’s a good chance that the LXX including what came to be called “deuterocanonical books” [the Apocrypha] were part of that corpus. We can’t be 100% sure of the exact bounds of the canon of Scripture at the time this epistle was written. Clearly, Timothy was meant to infer from his own situation, just which Scriptures were being referred to….

As early as Ignatius of Antioch, we see a letter written to the church in Ephesus likely only a few generations after Timothy himself had been a bishop…admonishing his readers to continue in submission to their bishops, elders and deacons.
Clearly, the sufficiency of the Scriptures is not at odds with the authority of the Church’s ordained ministry. It is the task of the entire Church, led by those ordained to that ministry through the laying on of hands, to safeguard the entire tradition received from the Apostles, within which the Scriptures can be properly understood and lived out.[5]

What about the Apocrypha?

What were the books of the Jewish Scriptures? Did they include the Apocrypha?[6]
My copy of The Apocrypha (The Oxford Annotated Apocrypha, New York: Oxford University Press, 1973, RSV) states in the Preface and Introduction that:

  • “They are not included in the Hebrew Canon of Holy Scripture” (1973:vii); “none of these fifteen books is included in the Hebrew canon of holy Scripture. All of them, however, with the exception of 2 Esdras, are present in copies of the Greek version of the Old Testament known as the Septuagint. The Old Latin translations of the Old Testament, made from the Septuagint, also include them, along with 2 Esdras. As a consequence, many of the early Church Fathers quoted most of these books as authoritative” (1973:x);
  • “In the Old Testament Jerome followed the Hebrew canon and by means of prefaces called the reader’s attention to the separate category of the apocryphal books. Subsequent copyists of the Latin Bible, however, were not always careful to transmit Jerome’s prefaces, and during the medieval period the Western Church generally regarded these books as part holy Scriptures” (1973:x);
  • “In 1546, the Council of Trent decreed that the Canon of the Old Testament includes them (except the Prayer of Manasseh and 1 and 2 Esdras)” (1973:vii-viii);
  • ‘”the Apocrypha” is the designation applied to a collection of fourteen or fifteen books, or portions of books, written during the last two centuries before Christ and the first century of the Christian era’ (1973:ix);
  • ‘The terms “protocanonical” and “deuterocanonical” are used to signify respectively those books of Scripture that were received by the entire Church from the beginning as inspired, and those whose inspiration came to be recognized later, after the matter had been disputed by certain Fathers and local churches’ (1973:x);
  • ‘The introductory phrase, “Thus says the Lord,” which occurs so frequently in the Old Testament, is conspicuous by its absence from the books of the Apocrypha’ (1973:xii).
  • “In the fourth century many Greek Fathers (including Eusebius, Athanasius, Cyril of Jerusalem, Gregory of Nazianzus, Amphilochius, and Epiphanius) came to recognize a distinction between the books in the Hebrew canon and the rest, though the latter were still customarily cited as Scripture” (1973:xiii).
  • “In the Latin Church, on the other hand, though opinion has not been unanimous, a generally high regard for the books of the Apocrypha has prevailed” (1973:xiii).
  • “At the close of the fourth century, Jerome spoke out decidedly for the Hebrew canon, declaring unreservedly that books which were outside that canon should be classed as apocryphal” (1973:xiii).
  • “Disputes over the doctrines of Purgatory and of the efficacy of prayers and Masses for the dead inevitably involved discussion concerning the authority of 2 Maccabees, which contains what was held to be scriptural warrant for them (12:43-45)” (1973:xiv).

The facts are, based on this publication, that the Hebrew canon at the time of the NT writing did not include the Apocrypha.

Some valid questions:

This EOC person left me with some valid and provocative questions:

The list of things from your copy of the apocrypha demonstrates clearly that (a) there were different canons of the OT between the Hebrew-speaking and the Hellenic Jews, (b) that it was the latter that the Early Christians accepted as normative and authoritative.
1. Why do you assume that Timothy, a Greek-speaking Jew from the region of Ephesus, would have not “been taught from his youth” from the Greek translation and canon of the Jewish scriptures?
2. Why grant greater authority to the canonical tradition of the Hebrew-speaking Jews, than to the Greek-speaking?
3. Why grant greater authority to one particular Jewish tradition, than to the Christian tradition itself?
I’d appreciate clear answers to the above, in what little time you can spare. Oh, and one more, a simple yes/no.
*** Do you consider your canon, your methods of interpretation, and your philosophical outlook brought to the texts, to be traditions, or not?[7]

We need to remember that the Apocrypha was from the last 2 centuries before the NT and was not included in the Hebrew canon. It was in the Greek LXX but not the Hebrew canon.
I have not been able to find any NT books that make a direct quotation from any of the 15 books of the Apocrypha although there are often citations from the 39 books of the Hebrew canon of the OT. There may be allusions to some apocryphal books in some NT writers (e.g. Romans 1:20-29 with Wis. 13:5.8; Rom 9:20-23 with Wis.12:12.20; 15:7; 2 Cor 5:1, 4 with Wis. 9:15).

Paul was a Jew and it could be expected that he would communicate with his child in the faith, a Greek-speaking Jew, Timothy, what was in the Hebrew canon. It did not include the Intertestamental books of the Apocrypha.[8]

Eastern Orthodox Church and the Apocrypha

The outlook of the Orthodox Church in America is:

The Old Testament books to which you refer—know[n] in the Orthodox Church as the “longer canon” rather than the “Apocrypha,” as they are known among the Protestants—are accepted by Orthodox Christianity as canonical scripture. These particular books are found only in the Septuagint version of the Old Testament, but not in the Hebrew texts of the rabbis.

These books—Tobit, Judah, more chapters of Esther and Daniel, the Books of Maccabees, the Book of the Wisdom of Solomon, the Book of Sirach, the Prophecy of Baruch, and the Prayer of Manasseh—are considered by the Orthodox to be fully part of the Old testament because they are part of the longer canon that was accepted from the beginning by the early Church.

The same Canon [rule] of Scripture is used by the Roman Catholic Church. In the Jerusalem Bible (RC) these books are intermingled within the Old Testament Books and not placed separately as often in Protestant translations (e.g., 1611 version of KJV).[9]

The Orthodox Christian Information Center provided this assessment:

All Scripture is inspired and, in both St. Paul and St. Timothy’s mind, that meant the LXX. So much is clear. But the LXX included the books we know today as the Apocrypha.

The earliest copies of the Greek Bible we possess, such as the Codex Alexandrinus and Codex Siniaticus [sic] (4-5th centuries) include the Apocrypha. And it is not placed in a separate section in the back of the codex but is rather interspersed by book according to literature type—the historical books with Kings and Chronicles, the wisdom literature with Proverbs and the Song of Solomon, and so forth.

These books were used by the Hellenic Jewish communities and certain Palestinian Jewish groups such as the Essenes. The Apocrypha retained respect in various Jewish communities until around thirty years after Paul’s death when the Pharisees, in the council of Jamnia, and discussed a number of issues, among which was the Jewish canon. Although the influence of this council is disputed, what is clear is that in its aftermath the Apocrypha was decidedly rejected by the Pharisees, who then proceeded to dominate Judaism.[10]

These kinds of comments lead one to accept the Deuterocanonical books (Apocrypha) because:

  • These books, being part of the longer canon, were accepted from the beginning of Christianity by the early Church.
  • The earliest copies of the Greek Bible (the Septuagint – LXX) include the Apocrypha, not in a separate section at the conclusion of the OT but the books are interspersed throughout the OT according to literature type.
  • The Apocryphal books were used by Jewish communities until about the time of Paul.
  • See below for an assessment why the Apocrypha should be rejected.

Roman Catholic Church and the Apocrypha

There’s a pretty good overview of the issues surrounding the Apocrypha from a Roman Catholic point of view by A Catholic Response Inc in ‘Apocrypha?’ (1994). The conclusion reached is that

the Catholic Church did not add to the OT. The Catholic OT Canon (also the numbering of the Psalms) came from the ancient Greek Septuagint Bible. Protestants, following the tradition of the Pharisaic Jews, accept the shorter Hebrew Canon, even though the Jews also reject the NT Books. The main problem is that the Bible does not define itself. No where in the Sacred Writings are the divinely inspired Books listed completely. (The Table of Contents is the publishing editor’s words, like the footnotes.) The Bible needs a visible, external authority guided by the Holy Spirit to define both the OT and NT Canons. This authority is the Magisterium of the Catholic Church. As St. Augustine writes, “I would not have believed the Gospel had not the authority of the Church moved me.”

This article also affirms that

the Catholic Church is not alone in accepting the Books which Protestants label as “Apocrypha.” The Coptic, Greek and Russian Orthodox churches also recognize these Books as inspired by God. In 1950 an edition of the OT containing all these Books was officially approved by the Holy Synod of the Greek church. Also the Russian Orthodox church in 1956 published a Russian Bible in Moscow which contained these Books.

I recommend a read of the CatholicCulture.org article, ‘What are the Apocrypha?’ (Hugh Pope 2015).[11] In it, Pope cites St Augustine’s view of the Apocrypha:

Emblem of the Holy See
Catholic Church

Ecclesia Catholica

Saint Peter's Basilica

St. Peter’s Basilica, Vatican City (image courtesy Wikipedia)

Let us omit, then, the fables of those scriptures which are called apocryphal, because their obscure origin was unknown to the fathers from whom the authority of the true Scriptures has been transmitted to us by a most certain and well-ascertained succession. For though there is some truth in these apocryphal writings, yet they contain so many false statements, that they have no canonical authority. We cannot deny that Enoch, the seventh from Adam, left some divine writings, for this is asserted by the Apostle Jude in his canonical epistle. But it is not without reason that these writings have no place in that canon of Scripture which was preserved in the temple of the Hebrew people by the diligence of successive priests; for their antiquity brought them under suspicion, and it was impossible to ascertain whether these were his genuine writings, and they were not brought forward as genuine by the persons who were found to have carefully preserved the canonical books by a successive transmission. So that the writings which are produced under his name, and which contain these fables about the giants, saying that their fathers were not men, are properly judged by prudent men to be not genuine; just as many writings are produced by heretics under the names both of other prophets, and more recently, under the names of the apostles, all of which, after careful examination, have been set apart from canonical authority under the title of Apocrypha (The City of God 15.23.4).[12]

CatholicAnswers asks: ‘Didn’t the Catholic Church add to the Bible?’ (2015). Part of its answer is that

the canon of the entire Bible was essentially settled around the turn of the fourth century. Up until this time, there was disagreement over the canon, and some ten different canonical lists existed, none of which corresponded exactly to what the Bible now contains. Around this time there were no less than five instances when the canon was formally identified: the Synod of Rome (382), the Council of Hippo (393), the Council of Carthage (397), a letter from Pope Innocent I to Exsuperius, Bishop of Toulouse (405), and the Second Council of Carthage (419). In every instance, the canon was identical to what Catholic Bibles contain today. In other words, from the end of the fourth century on, in practice Christians accepted the Catholic Church’s decision in this matter.

By the time of the Reformation, Christians had been using the same 73 books in their Bibles (46 in the Old Testament, 27 in the New Testament)—and thus considering them inspired—for more than 1100 years. This practice changed with Martin Luther, who dropped the deuterocanonical books on nothing more than his own say-so. Protestantism as a whole has followed his lead in this regard.

So, for these Roman Catholic cites give these reasons for accepting the deuterocanonical books:

  • The Roman Catholic canon of the OT came from the ancient Septuagint – the OT in Greek that included the Apocrypha.
  • The Roman Catholics did not add to the OT books but the Protestants at the time of the Reformation deleted 7 OT books (the Apocrypha) that had been accepted as part of the canon for 1100 years.
  • The Bible itself does not define what books should be in or out of the Bible. That is left to the Magisterium of the Roman Catholic Church. So, from the end of the 4th century to the Reformation, the books contained in the Roman Catholic Bible were accepted as the canon.
  • Orthodox churches also accept the Apocrypha.
  • However, it was conceded what St Augustine stated of the Apocrypha that they contain so many false statements that they cannot have canonical authority.

Hebrew canon of Scripture and the Apocrypha

What did the Hebrews of the Old Testament era consider was the list of books in the Hebrew canon of Scripture?

Why the Apocrypha should be rejected

Ryan Turner has provided an excellent summary on ‘Reasons why the Apocrypha does not belong in the Bible(CARM). His major points are:

  • Rejection by Jesus and the apostles;
  • Rejection by the Jewish community;
  • Rejection by many in the Catholic Church;
  • False teachings, and
  • Not prophetic.

He refers to:

Norman Geisler and Ralph E. MacKenzie, Roman Catholics and Evangelicals: Agreements and Differences. Grand Rapids: Baker, 1995, pp. 157-75.

Norman Geisler, Baker Encyclopedia of Christian Apologetics, Grand Rapids: Baker, 1999, pp. 28-36.

Wayne Jackson has written an excellent assessment: ‘The Apocrypha: Inspired of God?’ (Christian Courier 2015).

Notes


[1] Ignatius#21, 9 June 2014, Christian Forums, General Theology, Salvation (Soteriology), ‘Reasons why you are very unwise to trust your church’s doctrines’ (online). Available at: http://www.christianforums.com/t7825081-4/ (Accessed 24 December 2014).

[2] Ibid., Ignatius21#39.

[3] Ibid., OzSpen#43.

[4] Ibid., OzSpen#57.

[5] Ibid., Ignatius21#58.

[6] These details are in ibid., OzSpen#62.

[7] Ibid., Ignatius21#65.

[8] I mentioned this in ibid., OzSpen#67, #70

[9] Orthodox Church in America, ‘Canon of Scripture’ 2015. Available at: https://oca.org/questions/scripture/canon-of-scripture (Accessed 2 June 2015).

[10] ‘All Scripture is inspired by God’. Available at: http://orthodoxinfo.com/inquirers/otcanon.aspx (Accessed 2 June 2015).

[11] The Catholic University of America Press 2015. Available at: https://www.catholicculture.org/culture/library/view.cfm?recnum=9069 (Accessed 2 June 2015).

[12] The citation from The City of God in CatholicCulture.org is shorter than this version this Augustine publication which I have taken from the Roman Catholic website, New Advent.

Copyright © 2021 Spencer D. Gear. This document last updated at Date: 08 October 2021.