Category Archives: Education

How to Ruin Your Education and TV Viewing: Five Lessons from John Dominic Crossan

Here is my first book published by Wipf & Stock:

How to Ruin Your Education and TV Viewing: Five Lessons from John Dominic Crossan by [Spencer D. Gear]How to Ruin Your Education and TV Viewing: Five Lessons from John Dominic Crossan

by Spencer D. Gear (Author)

See all formats and editions

What will you do as a parent if your fourteen-year-old comes home from school and says, “You and the teachers have been telling me Columbus discovered the Americas. You’ve lied to me because that isn’t true. There are no such things as facts, and I decide the meaning of what is written in my textbooks. I’m the one who chooses the interpretation of any writing, including history and the stories of Columbus”? How are you going to answer, especially in light of what the Encyclopaedia Britannica states about Columbus?

This book examines how historical Jesus scholar John Dominic Crossan has dismantled education, TV viewing (by application), and religious studies with his postmodern deconstruction of the text. His theme is “I formulate it here as I see it.” Texts and interpretations are out of the mind of Crossan.

Using a hypothesis testing technique, the author challenges Crossan’s perspective that Jesus’s resurrection was an apparition and not a bodily resurrection. Even though he calls on others to “First, read the text,” that is not what he does. The philosophical crusher has found him out to be contradictory in his assessment of history in his autobiography and his own writings on the historical Jesus.

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Copyright © 2022 Spencer D. Gear. This document last updated at Date: 09 May, 2022.


Living as an evangelical Christian in a secular society

The Honourable

Scott Morrison



Morrison in 2021

30th Prime Minister of Australia


By Spencer D Gear PhD

Taking a stand for biblical values on sexuality

Citipointe Christian College, Carindale, Brisbane, has taken a stand for biblical sexual values and that has meant telling the truth about homosexuality. The effect has been fury of the secular agenda piled by the pro-LGBTIQ+ community and media against this Christian College.

ABC News, Brisbane reported: ‘A parent and teacher at a Brisbane Christian college that is demanding parents sign a contract affirming students identify as their birth gender and that homosexuality is “sinful”, says she is looking for another school for her child to attend’ (“Brisbane’s Citipointe Christian College defends demanding parents sign contract on student gender identity, homosexuality”).[1]

The News item continued: ‘In an e-mail to parents . . , principal Pastor Brian Mulheran said the new clauses in the enrolment contract were included to “ensure that we retain our Christian ethos, which is the foundation of what has made the College what it is today”’.[2]

The contract states “the college will only enrol the student on the basis of the gender that corresponds to their biological sex” to maintain consistent with the college’s “Christian Ethos Requirements”.

It goes on to state that the college “acknowledges the biological sex of a person as recognised at birth and requires practices consistent with that sex”.

Another clause states the college has the right to “exclude a student from the college” should they not adhere to the “doctrinal precepts including those as to biological sex”.

To keep their child enrolled at the school, parents must agree with a set of “religious beliefs” laid out in a “Declaration of Faith” attached to the contract.

Part of the declaration states that “any form of sexual immorality (including but not limited to; adultery, fornication, homosexual acts, bisexual acts, bestiality, incest, paedophilia, and pornography) is sinful and offensive to God and is destructive to human relationships and society”.[3]

Morrison’s view when it becomes law

Now that homosexual marriage has been legalised in Australia, what is Morrison’s view? Notice how he dodges the journalist’s questions:

Scott Morrison says he supports the law of the country but wouldn’t say if his personal opposition to same-sex marriage has changed since it was legalised. . . .

Mr Morrison abstained from voting for marriage equality when it passed the House of Representatives in 2018, and he voted “no” in the national survey.

When asked if he is still personally opposed to same-sex marriage, the prime minister replied: “It’s law. And I’m glad that the change has now been made and people can get on with their lives. That’s what I’m happy about.”

When pressed on whether his opinions have changed, he told reporters in Perth: “I always support the law of the country” (SBS News 2019).[4]

So, he supports Australian law but didn’t own up to his personal beliefs about homosexuality in 2019. I wonder, as a Pentecostal Christian, whether he accepts the Bible’s view on the topic. See Romans 1:25-27 and 1 Corinthians 6:9-11.

God’s view is different from Morrison’s. Those who practise homosexuality (male & female) will not inherit the kingdom of God. Whether ScoMo is a PM or an ordinary Christian, he should support the Bible’s view.

Scriptures: Christians must obey government, but not at the expense of biblical teaching.

I’ll examine two biblical passages relating to Christians and government. They are:

(1) Romans 13:1-5 (NIV):

Let everyone be subject to the governing authorities, for there is no authority except that which God has established. The authorities that exist have been established by God. 2 Consequently, whoever rebels against the authority is rebelling against what God has instituted, and those who do so will bring judgment on themselves. 3 For rulers hold no terror for those who do right, but for those who do wrong. Do you want to be free from fear of the one in authority? Then do what is right and you will be commended. 4 For the one in authority is God’s servant for your good. But if you do wrong, be afraid, for rulers do not bear the sword for no reason. They are God’s servants, agents of wrath to bring punishment on the wrongdoer. 5 Therefore, it is necessary to submit to the authorities, not only because of possible punishment but also as a matter of conscience.

Let’s apply this to what is happening at Citipointe Christian College where the College has been forced to remove its statement on homosexuality from entry requirements.

The Guardian Australia reported:

While Citipointe Christian College says it “deeply regrets” that the contracts made students feel discriminated against, the principal says the school has the right to maintain its ethos and the “freedom to continue to provide an education based on our shared beliefs”.

Rom 13:1-5 is not addressing a local issue but the laws of the State and nation. God sets up authorities. He is in control of them – no matter how bad they are. I struggle to understand these verses in light of the Nazi governments, and those of Pol Pot, Idi Amin, etc. However, I have to accept that God allows these horrific regimes to punish the people.

These verses point to the danger of getting too close to government in dependence on school funding. Citipointe demonstrates how Big Brother could have influenced the changing of the values of a school’s ethos.

(2) Matthew 22:19-21 (NIV),

19 Show me the coin used for paying the tax.” They brought him a denarius, 20 and he asked them, “Whose image is this? And whose inscription?”

21 “Caesar’s,” they replied.

Then he said to them, “So give back to Caesar what is Caesar’s, and to God what is God’s.”

The obvious application is to paying taxes but its impact may stretch further with Caesar’s requiring Christian institutions to change their values.

We must obey God rather than human authorities.

‘But Peter and the apostles replied, “We must obey God rather than any human authority”’ (Acts 5:29 NLT).

This sums up the Christians responsibility to government, especially when the values of Christians clash with those of regimes. I consider that is what we have with Citipointe Christian College and its values that clash with those of government.

In my view, Acts 5:29 is causing some potential clashes when private schools receive so much funding from federal and state governments. There is a temptation to toe the government line rather than being true to their Christian heritage.

Governments who want to trash or compromise biblical values.

See my articles:

clip_image003Tolerance, homosexuality and not inheriting the Kingdom of God

clip_image003[1] Homosexual unions, homosexual marriage, mass media & politicians

clip_image003[2]Why should we oppose homosexual marriage?

The personal disappointment for me is that our Pentecostal Prime Minister is not standing beside the Citipointe Christian College’s leadership in the promotion of sexual Christian ethics.


[1] Accessed 1st February 2022.

[2] Ibid.

[3] Ibid.

[4] SBS News (AAP) 2019. Gay marriage is the law: PM Morrison, 13 May. Available at: (Accessed 5 February 2022).

Copyright © 2022 Spencer D. Gear. This document last updated at Date: 05 February 2022


Scott Morrison, Christian colleges, & biblical Christianity

The Honourable

Scott Morrison MP

Prime Minister of Australia Scott Morrison.jpg

Morrison in 2021

30th Prime Minister of Australia


By Spencer D Gear PhD

This article first appeared in On Line Opinion, 14 February 2022.

I was shocked to read our Prime Minister’s reported view that he does not support the Citipointe Christian College’s promotion of the ethics of biblical Christianity. He did not say it in such straight-forward language but stated,

The federal government will seek to amend a contentious section of the Sex Discrimination Act alongside its Religious Discrimination Bill, in a move that follows lengthy discussions between the Prime Minister’s office and key backbenchers over the past week (The Sydney Morning Herald, “Church schools will lose right to expel gay students as PM deals with moderate Liberals,” (February 3, 2022)

Let’s make it clear: “Moderate liberals” are not supporters of what the Scriptures state about homosexuality. The Coalition government wants “to lock in the support of moderate Liberal MPs ahead of a potential vote on the bill in the next sitting fortnight” (“Church schools will lose the right . . .”

Wouldn’t it be amazing to read a mass media press release that states the Coalition wants to woo Bible-believing Christians in the community and support their views on sexual (including homosexual) ethics – straight from the Bible?

blue-corrosion-arrow-small  “The wrath of God is being revealed from heaven against all the godlessness and wickedness of people, who suppress the truth by their wickedness” (Romans 1:18).

blue-corrosion-arrow-small  “God gave them over in the sinful desires of their hearts to sexual impurity for the degrading of their bodies with one another” (Rom 1:24)

blue-corrosion-arrow-small  “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” (Rom 1:26-27).

blue-corrosion-arrow-small “Furthermore, just as they did not think it worthwhile to retain the knowledge of God, so God gave them over to a depraved mind, so that they do what ought not to be done. They have become filled with every kind of wickedness, evil, greed and depravity. They are full of envy, murder, strife, deceit and malice” (Rom 1:28-29).

Citipointe Christian College Aerial View(photo Citipointe Christian College campus)

Elsewhere in the New Testament, the Bible states that these acts of homosexuality have this consequence:

Don’t you realize that those who do wrong will not inherit the Kingdom of God? Don’t fool yourselves. Those who indulge in sexual sin, or who worship idols, or commit adultery, or are male prostitutes, or practice homosexuality, or are thieves, or greedy people, or drunkards, or are abusive, or cheat people—none of these will inherit the Kingdom of God. Some of you were once like that. But you were cleansed; you were made holy; you were made right with God by calling on the name of the Lord Jesus Christ and by the Spirit of our God. (1 Corinthians 6:9-11).

Instead of trying to save his political backside for the next election and satisfying the LGBTIQ+ people, he should be representing ALL people and telling the truth about where homosexuality will take people. Bible-believing Christians have been betrayed, in my opinion, and should see the political craftiness of Morrison and give up on him at the next election. I’m not convinced an Anthony Albanese led government will present a better option but at least its ethics will be secular and not in the guise of Christianity – as with Morrison.

The truth about sexual and other sins

Where are the Bible-believing MPs who will speak God’s truth on the eternal penalty of that sexual aberration? Will they speak up when voting on the Religious Discrimination Bill?

Morrison admitted, “My kids go to a Christian school here in Sydney, and I wouldn’t want my school doing that either,” he told Brisbane’s B105.3 radio (Church schools will lose right to expel gay students). He was addressing the Citipointe Christian College issue. So, is he saying he doesn’t want a Christian school to tell the truth of the homosexual lifestyle and its eternal ramification?

Citipointe Christian College should feel let down by a Christian Prime Minister who seems to be playing political games for the next election so he can save “soft” Liberal Party seats. He has lost my vote to one of the minor parties that supports and practises biblical standards.

In my view, Morrison has practised reverse discrimination by compromising biblical Christianity and its ethics on sexuality and sucking up to the LGBTIQ+ community to make it look like support for that view. It is a politically correct view that may cost him at the next election.

Copyright © 2022 Spencer D. Gear. This document last updated at Date: 04 February 2022.

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Religious Instruction is needed in the school curriculum

Spencer D Gear PhD

1. Religious Instruction (RI) teaches moral/ethical values. See, “Religious Education Should Be a Part of the School Curriculum?”

2. RI helps to challenge misconceptions, prejudice and ignorance about Christianity and other religions, which can divide society. Is Christianity the only exclusivist religion (John 14:6; Acts 4:12)? Or, are all religions exclusivist? What are the core theologies of Hinduism, Buddhism, Islam and Confucianism on which they will not budge? Investigate whether all religions are exclusivistic. They are.

Exclusivism is ‘the action or policy of excluding a person or group from a place, group, or privilege’ ( 2020. s.v. exclusivism).

3. Christianity is the underpinning of Western society and students need to know these foundations and why Christianity leads to a better, more stable society.

4. What drives church people to be engaged in social welfare at home and overseas?

5. Christianity understands truth as that which matches reality. How come?

6. Christianity’s world view demonstrates the 4 essentials of life in society: (1) The origin of life; (2) How to have meaning in life; (3) Basics for morality; (4) Destiny – where is human life heading?

7. Aims of religious education in the UK include:[1]

clip_image001 “Christian denominations . . . and other religions and their denominations, reflecting the principal religions of the area.”

clip_image001[1] “Religious education given in accordance with the agreed syllabus.”

clip_image001[2] “Monitors the provision and quality of agreed syllabus RI and the effectiveness of the syllabus itself.”

clip_image001[3] “Provides advice and support on teaching agreed syllabus RI.”

clip_image001[4] “Considers whether changes need to be made to the agreed syllabus.”

clip_image001[5] “Offers advice to Qld Education (QE), and through the QE to its schools, concerning how an existing agreed syllabus can be interpreted so as to fit in with a broad, balanced and coherent curriculum.”

8. Purposes of RI:[2]

The following purpose statements underpin the syllabus, which is constructed to support pupils and teachers in fulfilling them:

  • Religious Instruction (RI) contributes dynamically to children and young people’s education in schools by provoking challenging questions about meaning and purpose in life, beliefs about God, ultimate reality, issues of right and wrong and what it means to be human.
  • In RI pupils learn about religions and beliefs in local, national and global contexts, to discover, explore and consider different answers to these questions.
  • They learn to weigh up the value of wisdom from different sources, to develop and express their insights in response, and to agree or disagree respectfully.
  • RI teaching therefore should equip pupils with systematic knowledge and understanding of a range of religions and beliefs, enabling them to develop their ideas, values and identities.
  • It should develop in pupils an aptitude for dialogue so that they can develop religious literacy and participate positively in our society, with its diverse religions and beliefs.
  • Pupils should gain and deploy the skills needed to understand, interpret and evaluate texts, sources of wisdom and authority and other evidence. They should learn to articulate clearly and coherently their personal beliefs, ideas, values and experiences while respecting the right of others to differ.

9. Based on the Preamble[3] of Australia’s Constitution, this is a country with a Christian-theistic foundation: “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.”[4]

Students need to have knowledge of the basis of this underpinning in Christianity, which leads to Christianity being taught by Christian followers.

Imagine trying to understand physics and chemistry without foundational knowledge of atoms and molecules. It’s the same with trying to understand the Westminster system of government in Australia without its Christian world and life view.

10. Because Australia has become a multi-faith society as a flow on from multiculturalism, various faith groups should be encouraged to present RI for each of those groups. This is supported if there are enough children of that religion in the school and availability of instructors.


[1] The following points are adapted from the Sandwell Metropolitan Borough Council, “Religious Education,” Standing Advisory Comittee on Religious Education (SACRE)

[2] Ibid.

[3] The Oxford English Dictionary provides one of the meanings of “preamble” as: “The introductory part of a statute or deed, stating its purpose, aims, and justification” (2020. s.v. preamble).

[4] Parliament of Australia, “Commonwealth of Australia Constitution Act,” 9 July 1900.

Copyright © 2021 Spencer D. Gear. This document last updated at Date: 09 September 2021.

Fitz Files Fail


Related image

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

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

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

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

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

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

Does Margaret Court fear or dislike homosexuals?

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

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

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

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

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

Fake news by Fitz

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

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

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

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

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

Accusation of Court’s double-standards

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

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

Fitz flunks the test

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

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

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

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

Fitz forgot fundamentals

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

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

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

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

Your deconstructionist, reader-response interpretation

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

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

(image courtesy The Public Domain)

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

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

Let me try this approach with your article:

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

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

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

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

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

Telling The Truth Clipart Image(image courtesy


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

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

By Spencer D Gear PhD

Image result for image Grammar Police public domain

(image courtesy Pinterest)

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

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

clip_image004(photo above courtesy Givelda State School)

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

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

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

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

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

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

clip_image006(image courtesy The Articulate CEO – Typepad)

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

A. Errors with use of prepositions

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

A.1 Objective case governs the preposition

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

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

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

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

Grammar Monster explained:

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

· a boy from the ghetto

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

· a bone for the dog

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

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

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

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

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

  • Please pass the butter.

(Q: pass what? A: the butter)

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

  • Please pass Simon the butter.

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

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

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

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

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

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

The following bold sections are violations of this rule:

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

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

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

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

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

Prepositions Link Clip Art

(Image courtesy Clker)

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

clip_image010image courtesy

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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


(image courtesy

B. Object of sentence must be in objective case.

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

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

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

he = who
him = whom

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

Rewritten: ‘whom he then helped’.

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

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

designRed-small Rewritten: ‘whom he visited’.

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

Rewritten: ‘saw Lindy and me exonerated’.

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

designRed-smallRewritten: ‘Advise Tony or me’.

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

The fundamental grammatical rules on this topic are:

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

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

Other rules for this topic will be pursued below.

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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


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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

(image courtesy Unique Teaching Resource)

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

The grammatical rule is:

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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


(courtesy tekhnologic –

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

B = ‘Cricket Australia are’;

Non-B = ‘Cricket Australia is’.

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Plural subjects require a plural verb in agreement.

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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


(image courtesy abcteach)

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

bug Rewritten: ‘but there are positive signs’.

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

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

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

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

73.  Latika Bourke, a journalist for The Sydney Morning Herald / The Age wrote ‘The Sydney Morning Herald and The Age has learned that up to a dozen members of the public, including teachers and a principal from local schools….’ (Bourke 2019).

bug Rewritten. ‘The Sydney Morning Herald and The Age have learned that up to a dozen members of the public….’

This was written by a journalist who had her article published in two major Australian newspapers (online), yet she broke a fundamental rule of grammar that plural subjects must be used with a plural verb.


(image courtesy Phillip Martin Clip Art)

D. Plural pronouns associated with singular nouns

The grammatical rule is:

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

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

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

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

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

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

1. Peter Wellington MP stated,

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Example: The team is heading for practice this afternoon.

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

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

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

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

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

(image courtesy Wikipedia)

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

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

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

Dear Dr. Gear,

Thank you for your grammatical question about the NIV.

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

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

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

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

Partner Relations Team, Biblica


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

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

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

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

Image result for image pronoun antecedent agreement public domain

(image courtesy Bonlac Foods)

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

(image courtesy YouTube)

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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


(image courtesy

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

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

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

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

Your connection is not secure.

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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


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

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

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


(courtesy Re:word Communications)

E. Subject of sentence is in the nominative case

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

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

· Mark eats cakes.

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

· He eats cakes.

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

· They eat cakes.

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

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

· Mark is a businessman.

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

· It was I.

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

The nominative case is also known as the subjective case.

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

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

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

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

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

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

F. Words left out or added

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

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

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

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


(courtesy Kids World Fun)

F. Incorrect words or tenses

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

“The dog at the firm’s paperwork.”

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

(Image courtesy A Word With Traci)

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

Grammatical rules for this error are:

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

The grammatical rule is:

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

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

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

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

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

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

The grammatical rules are:

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

Alien Aquae mule Rewritten: What is RACQ Bank?’

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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


(courtesy Communities Digital News)

G. Incorrect use of the apostrophe

The rule is:

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

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

clip_image042(image courtesy Grammar Monster)

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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


(imagecourtesy YouTube)

H. Word order

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

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

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

· She (S) doesn’t like (V) dogs (O).

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

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

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

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

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

The English Standard Version translates these two verses as:

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

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

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

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

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

The image shows a head with question marks surrounding it.

(courtesy Neuroscience News)

I. Conclusion

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

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

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

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

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

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

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


J. Works consulted

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

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Cornerstone Church 2017. Challenges (online), 31 July. Available at: (Accessed 8 February 2018).

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Edwards, K 2018. Is this what motivated David Leyonhjelm to insult Sarah Hanson-Young? Brisbane Times (online), 29 June. Available at: (Accessed 29 June 2018).

Estell, J 2017. Why did University of Iowa single out Christian campus group? Des Moines Register (online), 14 December. Available at: (Accessed 20 January 2018). 2018. Compare RACQ bank savings accounts (online). Available at: (Accessed 22 September 2018).

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Grammarist 2009-2014. Available at: (Accessed 30 November 2018).

Gray, R 2015. ‘Jesus is a MYTH’: Christ stories appeared decades after his ‘death’ – and he was probably many people rather than just one, atheist writer claims. Daily Mail Australia (online). Available at: (Accessed 24 March 2018).

Hadley, R & Dutton, P 2018. Peter Dutton calls out Labor electoral rort: ‘She knew she was going to a by-election’. 2GB (online), 26 July. Available at: (Accessed 26 July 2018).

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Holden, M 2018. Being a libertarian means never having to say you’re sorry. Brisbane Times (online), 4 July. Available at: (Accessed 4 July 2018).

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Kent, P 2017. Why no other NRL clubs out there want to buy up Jarryd Hayne Inc. Daily Telegraph (online), 25 April. Available at: (Accessed 25 April 2017).

King, M 2018. ‘Never been as bad as this’: The Queensland kids who have never seen rain, 8 August. Available at: (Accessed 9 August 2018).

Knott, M 2018. Why unpopular and unknown Peter Dutton is on the verge of becoming PM. Brisbane Times (online), 21 August. Available at: (Accessed 22 August 2018).

Kohlbacher, S 2018. Queensland Premier promises Bailey email probe. Brisbane Times (online), 7 March. Available at: (Accessed 7 March 2018).

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Koziol, M 2018. Lure teachers to the bush with extra cash and nice houses, government advised. Brisbane Times (online), 13 April. Available at: (Accessed 13 April 2017).

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(courtesy Just Publishing Advice)

K.  Notes

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

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

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

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

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

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

[7] Ibid.

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

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

[10] Ibid.

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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


Pedophiles: It’s not their fault!!

Sin Paint

(image courtesy ChristArt)

By Spencer D Gear PhD

There are some outrageous views in the world of secular journalism. I came across an opinion piece in the Melbourne (Australia), Herald Sun newspaper online, ‘Should we help paedophiles? What choice do we have?‘ (Shepherd 2015).[1] The sub-heading was, ‘If people are born straight, or gay, is it possible that paedophiles can’t help being what they are?’ The article began:

Evidence shows that it might be true; paedophiles are born that way. Recent research suggests some faulty wiring in the brain. Things about children that are meant to elicit a protective response instead elicit a sexual one.

A published paper from Toronto’s Centre for Addiction and Mental Health found paedophiles are far more likely to be left-handed, and have a lower IQ, which indicates there’s a problem with brain development.

Which would make it not their fault.

Why don’t you take a read of what I consider to be an extremist view of an alibi for sexually deviant behaviour of paedophilia in ‘The Science of Pedophilia: Is It a Sexual Orientation?’ This article states, ‘The good news, though, is that, if researchers can figure out how the brain’s wiring becomes crossed, scientists could figure out ways for mothers to minimize their chances of giving birth to pedophiles’ (Brice 2012).

What an excuse for justification of wicked sexual abuse of children by adults (mostly males).

A. What is paedophilia?

Michael Seto,[2] who wants to legitimise paedophilia as a sexual orientation, provided this definition, ‘Pedophilia can be defined as a sexual attraction to prepubescent children, as indicated by persistent and recurrent sexual thoughts, fantasies, urges, arousal, or behavior (“or” because the diagnosis can be made on the basis of thoughts and urges alone)’ (Seto 2012:231-232).

Margo Kaplan, assistant professor of law, states that paedophilia ‘refers to a type of sexual interest – specifically an intense and persistent sexual interest in prepubescent children. Pedophilia need not entail any behavior; one may be a celibate pedophile, similar to how one may have sexual desires for adults while remaining celibate’ (Kaplan 2015:86-87).

In common language, these two professionals define paedophilia as adults having a sexual attraction to children through thoughts, fantasies and sometimes involving sexual behaviour between an adult and a child.

B. Why is paedophilia a crime?

Here in Australia, those who are found guilty of paedophilia have committed a criminal act and these are five examples of penalties for such crimes.

1. Dennis Ferguson

clip_image002(Dennis Ferguson 2009, photo courtesy Wikipedia)


One of Australia’s most notorious paedophiles was Dennis Raymond Ferguson. In sentencing him to jail for his crimes, it was reported in The Daily Telegraph:

The evil man Ferguson seems intent on forgetting he ever was.

Such vile criminals don’t come much worse.

As one judge put it, Ferguson is a “cunning and scheming man – not without some intelligence – a danger to children and foolish parents”.

Justice Derrington said Ferguson’s chances of rehabilitation were zero when sentencing him to 14 years in a Queensland jail in 1988 (Lawrence 2009).

2. Forty-one year old paedophile

The Australian newspaper reported in 2010 on the disparity between the length of sentencing for the crime of paedophilia in the USA compared to the drastic leniency in Australia. The report stated that an American pedophile was sentenced to 21 years jail for pleading guilty to photographing a 2-year-old girl and trading the child pornography on the Internet. His Australian (Canberra) cohort was jailed for a quarter of that time for doing the same actions with 4 children.

The 41-year-old [Australian] – who cannot be named – was sentenced … to seven years jail, and must serve a minimum of 4 1/2 years after pleading guilty to 13 counts of indecency against children, using a child to produce child pornography and transmitting child pornography.

Four children, including his own infant son, were captured in the images, which the ACT Supreme Court was told were regarded as “trophies” by the man.

The other children were aged five, seven and nine and included his godchild (McKenna 2010).

3. Brett Peter Cowan


(Daniel Morcombe, phogo courtesy Wikipedia)

One of the most prominent and extremely sad examples of the action of a paedophile here in Queensland was the death of Daniel Morcombe, a 13-year-old, who was abducted from the Sunshine Coast (Woombye) and killed by paedophile, Brett Peter Cowan. Cowan’s paedophilia is confirmed in Olding (2014). This article states:

  • ‘A man who was raped and almost killed by Brett Peter Cowan 27 years ago, when he was seven years old, says the predator destroyed his life’.
  • ‘Cowan had a shocking record of paedophilia and a hole in his alibi but he told the inquiry he would not have taken Daniel because he liked boys that were six or seven years old, not 13’.
  • ‘A former girlfriend of Cowan’s told the program about the night he abducted a six-year-old boy from a Darwin caravan park in 1993 and raped him. He left the boy for dead with horrific injuries but the child survived’.

4. Abuse by clergy or workers at Christian institutions

Then there are horrifying examples of sexual abuse of children by clergy. Here is but one example of many about which I, as a Christian, am utterly ashamed. This abuse victim wrote:

I would think seriously about donating a kidney if I am given the opportunity to stand before the Royal Commission into Child Sexual Abuse. And after eight years of battling the Anglican Church for answers, something exciting has happened concerning the sexual and physical abuse of more than 200 children.

Yes, to hell with the kidney, it means nothing compared to the horrific and violent abuse children suffered at the hands of Anglican clergy and staff over the five decades the Church of England North Coast Children’s Home was functioning.

I was raised in that Anglican home for 14 years, 10 of which were brutal. I was sexually violated and physically abused. To this day I bear the scars on my back from a flogging.

The scars in my mind are deeper (Campion 2013).

5. Fifty-six year old paedophile

As I was writing this article, there appeared a lead item on the Brisbane Times website, ‘Convicted paedophile who raped stepdaughter to be watched until 2021’ (Branco 2016). Here it was stated that this 56-year-old was convicted of raping his 7-year-old step daughter. ‘The man was sentenced to eight years in jail in January 2008 after pleading guilty to offences including rape and grievous bodily harm. He was released on parole in September 2010 but hauled back into prison four years later when he was found living with a 15-year-old girl but had since been released again’. Although released on 17 January 2016, he has to report to authorities for another 5 years. Psychiatrists diagnosed him with paedophilia or a similar condition of paraphilia and ‘classed him a low to medium risk of reoffending’ (Branco 2016). These are the kinds of despicable acts in which he engaged:

He raped the girl when she was just seven years old, beating her, holding her upside down and smacking her.

When the girl was only eight, he punched her so hard she fell down the stairs.

In some cases, the offences occurred while the girl’s mother was asleep in another room….

[The psychiatrists] each noted a tendency for the 56-year-old to minimise and deny his crimes, with Dr Josephine Sundin even noting he perceived himself as an “unhappy and unlucky victim” (Branco 2016).

Now scientists want to label this kind of predatory, sordid behaviour as something over which the paedophile has no control as it is wired into his physical being – the brain (see Shepherd 2015).

C. The victims

Bill Glaser wrote in 1997:

Paedophilia: The health problem of the decade – Dr Bill Glaser

Imagine a society afflicted by a scourge which struck down a quarter of its daughters and up to one in eight of its sons.

Imagine also that this plague, while not immediately fatal, lurked in the bodies and minds of these young children for decades, making them up to sixteen times more likely to experience its disastrous long-term effects.

Finally, imagine the nature of these effects: life-threatening starvation, suicide, persistent nightmares, drug and alcohol abuse and a whole host of intractable psychiatric disorders requiring life-long treatment. What would the society’s response be?

The scourge that we are speaking of is child sexual abuse. It has accounted for probably more misery and suffering than any of the

great plagues of history, including the bubonic plague, tuberculosis and syphilis. Its effects are certainly more devastating and widespread than those of the modern-day epidemics which currently take up so much community attention and resources: motor vehicle accidents, heart

disease and, now, AIDS. Yet the public response to child sexual abuse, even now, is fragmented, poorly coordinated and generally ill-informed.

Its victims have no National AIDS Council to advise governments on policy and research issues; They have no National Heart Foundation to promote public education as to the risks of smoking and unhealthy

lifestyles; They do not have a Transport Accident Commission to provide comprehensive treatment and rehabilitation services for them.

A massive public health problem like child sexual abuse demands a massive societal response. But firstly, we need to acknowledge and understand the problem itself, and this is, sadly enough, a task which both professionals and the community have been reluctant to undertake despite glaringly obvious evidence in front of us.

Source: Excerpt from Glaser, W. “Paedophilia: The Public Health Problem of the Decade” – Australian Institute of Criminology Conference on Paedophilia, Sydney, April 1997.[3]

As a long-term counsellor and counselling manager (now retired), I have deep compassion for helping victims and perpetrators of sexual abuse. However, as will be evident in this article, I do not support the solutions offered by a secular worldview because I’m convinced it does not get to the core of what motivates a person to violate another sexually – especially a child.

This I will admit: The need is urgent to do something substantial about finding a solution to the problem. However, I’m not convinced my secular society has the understanding for doing this. Some have the will to do something, like Bravehearts, but what is the best long-term solution?

I’ll declare my colours as we examine two radically different worldviews and their impact on the paedophilia issue, using Shepherd’s (2015) article as an example.

D. Worldview of a difference

What is a worldview? All of us have one. It may be defined as ‘a set of presuppositions (assumptions which may be true, partially true or entirely false) which we hold (consciously or subconsciously, consistently or inconsistently) about the basic make-up of our world’ (Sire1988:17). James Sire explained that these are the seven rock-bottom questions that need to be answered to uncover the elements of a worldview:

(a) What is prime reality – the really real?

(b) What is the nature of external reality, that is, the world around us?

(c) What is a human being?

(d) What happens to a person at death?

(e) Why is it possible to know anything at all?

(f) How do we know what is right and wrong?

(g) What is the meaning of human history? (Sire 1988:18)

What are the worldview dimensions in Tory Shepherd’s article (Shepherd 2015) in her proposing that for the paedophiles, it is not their faults that they have these thoughts towards and then sexually abuse children?

Whether she wants to acknowledge it or not, she is promoting a worldview that deals with at least 3 dimensions of such a view. My analysis of her article reveals three primary dimensions of the following worldview dimensions: (a) external reality, (b) the nature of human beings, and, (c) the nature of right and wrong.

(a) The nature of external reality

This deals with ‘whether we see the world as created or autonomous, as chaotic or orderly, as matter or spirit, or whether we emphasize our subjective, personal relationship to the world or its objectivity apart from us’ (Sire 1988:18)

Shepherd was into the ‘it feels’ subjectivity when she stated that the uncovering of every dirty secret and hints of new ones ‘feels unending, unendable’[4], and ‘it also feels as though giving any kind of helping hand to paedophiles is an insult to survivors’. This is an example of subjective emphasis.

The personal relationship to the world of external reality is seen in Shepherd’s statement that ‘under the Circles of Support and Accountability program’ volunteers would ‘support paedophiles … emotionally and practically to reintegrate into society’. This assumes that this will help them to be autonomously functioning paedophiles. Nothing is said here about the paedophile being cured of his disorder, disease, malfunction, or – dare I mention it – sin.

(b) Teaching on the nature of human beings

Are people only physical beings, highly complex machines, without a soul and spiritual dimension?

Shepherd points to ‘evidence’ of the possibility that ‘paedophiles are born that way’. So the nature of human beings is driven by the worldview of naturalism. Human beings are physical beings with ‘some faulty wiring in the brain’. Thus, when these physical beings are supposed to have ‘a protective response’ to children instead of ‘a sexual one’, it is because of bad wiring in the brain.

This brain development, according to the Toronto research, also is driven by naturalism as paedophilia is associated with being left-handed and lower IQ, ‘which indicates there’s a problem with brain development’.

It needs to be noted that naturalism, in philosophy, is ‘a theory that relates scientific method to philosophy by affirming that all beings and events in the universe (whatever their inherent character may be) are natural. Consequently, all knowledge of the universe falls within the pale of scientific investigation’ (Encyclopaedia Britannica 2016. S v naturalism).

The Virtuous Paedophile website (quoted by Shepherd) stated, ‘We do not choose to be attracted to children, and we cannot make that attraction go away’. This affirms the physical being dimension of paedophilia. Their view is that they can’t do anything about it as it is physically caused (genetic). This is further confirmed by the language, ‘We did not choose it, cannot change, and [we] successfully resist’ the ‘temptation to abuse children sexually’.

(c) Demonstrates a perspective on what is right and wrong

Are human beings made in the image of a good God whose character is righteous, or are right and wrong ‘determined by human choice alone, or the motions simply developed under an impetus toward cultural or physical survival’ (Sire 1988:18).

Shepherd raises that question that, like straight and gay people, paedophiles ‘can’t help being what they are’. However, she does speak of ‘every dirty secret’ being uncovered and ‘hints of new ones’ cropping up and this goes on and on. But there is no discussion of how one knows it is a dirty as opposed to a clean secret. She wants to disclose some aspect of what seems wrong or ‘dirty’, but no criteria for identification are given.

She mentions the Toronto Centre for Addiction and Mental Health study that found paedophiles are more likely to be left-handed and have lower IQ, thus indicating ‘a problem with brain development’. Then she draws the moral conclusion that this ‘would make it not their fault’ because it is physically caused by the brain. She did admit that ‘not all experts agree’, claiming ‘it’s genetic’ or ‘learned behaviour’ that could be ‘triggered by trauma or abuse’, but Shepherd did not get into discussion of right or wrong actions and what makes it morally one way or the other.

Then there is a push to try to differentiate ‘between a paedophile and a sexual offender’, which she claims is a ‘seldom-made distinction’. Here definition is that ‘it is possible to be deviant’ (presumably referring to a sex offender) and not deviant (‘attracted to children, but to never act on it’). I found it puzzling that no criteria were given to make this differentiation and then extending that to an understanding of how being attracted to children and thinking on children may lead to acting out paedophilic behaviour. This read like a relativistic attempt to explain and justify attraction to children.

In speaking of a USA based group, Virtuous Paedophiles,[5] Shepherd wrote, ‘I suspect the mere idea of a paedophile calling himself or herself virtuous will have the self-appointed virtue police shuddering in their jim jams, but it’s an interesting concept’ (Shepherd 2015). This is Shepherd’s judgmental, value-laden assessment of how those who oppose ‘virtuous paedophiles’ could respond. She wants to make a right vs wrong assessment against those who oppose any thought of a group of Virtuous Paedophiles. So, she is making a value judgment but her view is loaded with anti-conservative values. She judgmentally labelled those who opposed ‘virtuous paedophiles’ as ‘self-appointed virtue police’ whose behaviour is to shudder ‘in their jim jams’. She is the one who has morally decided it is suitable to engage in put-downs of those whose values she rebels against. To label them as ‘virtue police’ is an extremist, rebellious opinion.

Shepherd’s value judgments of right and wrong continued. She could not see politicians having the ‘will to spend the money’ to roll out a nationwide program to help paedophiles (and thus save children) as it ‘will never be a vote winner’. She adds that ‘only the brave and petrified’ would be courageous enough ‘to try to get help’. Her value judgment is that ‘shame and fear would stop most of them’. From where did she gain that information to reach that verdict?

She is not identifying the criteria for her to determine what is right or wrong. Her moral challenges continued: Financial compensation for the children sexually abused in institutional care and considering ‘the actual cost to society of the pervasive trauma’ were raised by Shepherd. There is no discussion here of the impact on the psyche, soul or spirit, although one has to read between the lines to see some possible hint with the language of ‘pervasive trauma’ – but that’s a remote indicator.

She wrote of ‘every dirty secret uncovered’ and hints of more cropping up. There was no indicator of how to know it was a ‘dirty secret’. If it is ‘not their fault’ (her language, borrowed from ‘recent research), to call it a ‘dirty secret’ is provocative, contradictory language in my understanding. A ‘dirty secret … (that is) not their fault’ is an oxymoron way of putting it.

What about this value judgment? ‘What if, for less than the price of helping one survivor to heal, we can stop several from being hurt in the first place?’ (Shepherd 2015). I ask: Why should one pursue that which is right when it is not the paedophile’s fault and morality is not the issue? Why should a paedophile be morally blamed when it is an issue with wiring in the brain? How does one choose to save children (which I would do) and prevent paedophiles from committing acts (which I would do)? It is honourable to choose the vulnerable over the perpetrator, but what values of right and wrong are being used and how are they chosen? Shepherd does not articulate these and give a moral framework for deciding right from wrong.

What morality is contained in Shepherd’s (2015) statement, ‘If paedophiles get sympathy, respect and treatment, they say, there would be fewer offences. Fewer children raped. Surely that’s something worth thinking about?’ I find that to be another oxymoron. How can they receive ‘respect and treatment’ if it is ‘not their fault’? Why not accept these values: If we let paedophiles do what comes naturally to them (because their paedophilia is not their fault), why should we be worrying about how they practise paedophilia? It’s their natural desire being expressed and surely it would be inappropriate to inhibit something they can do nothing about? The way I’ve just stated it represents the values of a relativistic worldview that is expressed in this article by Shepherd. If the paedophile can say, ‘I will think and do what is right for me’, he/she is expressing relativism in action.

This journalist reported on phone calls to the Centres Against Sexual Assault from ‘people fantasising about children’ and they want help but there is little help available and ‘hardly any publicly funded programs’ for these paedophiles who are ‘potential offenders’. So these people have to be turned away from getting help. Wait a moment! These are the paedophiles for whom it is ‘not their fault’ and the problem is related to a physical malfunction in the brain’s wiring over which they have no control. This is another oxymoron. They can’t have it both ways: (i) It’s not their fault; (ii) it’s caused by a brain problem, but (iii) they need help through government funded programmes.

The Royal Commission into Institutional Responses to Child Sexual Abuse is ‘only just starting to bring home the horror’ how ‘institutions have forever attracted and then protected paedophiles’. What makes child sexual abuse a ‘horror’ when this abuser is not the fault of paedophiles? The problem is wrong wiring in the brain (Shepherd 2015).

Can’t you see the anomalies of trying to obtain help for paedophiles and victims when a journalist wants to label childhood sexual abuse as a ‘horror’ without providing a framework of morality to determine that sexual abuse is wrong and the abuse by the paedophile is a ‘horror’? I do not support child sexual abuse nor the paedophile’s behaviour, but again we see the values of relativism in action as promoted by Shepherd in her article.

For a more detailed analysis of worldviews, see Norman Geisler & Peter Bocchino, ‘Questions about worldviews’ (Geisler & Bocchino 2001: 55-69).

Are values relative or absolute? This issue will be investigated now.

C. The paedophile cure

Three factors are exposed in Shepherd’s article: (1) Moral relativism, (2) Humanism, and (3) Secularism. The paedophile cure involves dealing with these three threats and promoting absolute truth. Let’s examine the issues.

1. Moral relativism

Moral relativists

argue that there are no objective moral values which help us to determine what is right or wrong. They claim “everything is relative.” In order to defend this position, the relativist puts forth two arguments: (1) Since people and cultures dis agree about morality, there are no objective moral values; (2) Moral relativism leads to tolerance of practices we may find different or odd (Beckwith 2009).

I find it to be a deceitful tactic to raise the expectation of a paedophile’s reputation to, ‘It is not their fault’, when not even bothering to explain how paedophilia and child sexual abuse can be regarded as wrong or ‘a horror’ (language cited by Shepherd). Please understand that I oppose paedophilia and child sexual abuse with vehemence, but Shepherd gave no grounds for determining what is right or wrong with these views. Moral relativism and secularism were assumed.

We live in a world that has many following the theme of Frank Sinatra’s song, ‘I Did It My Way. If I’m allowed to choose my own values and do it my way, I need to allow you to do it your way. That means paedophiles, rapists, terrorists and thieves need to be allowed to pursue their own morality. The logical outcome of moral relativism is that nobody can stop anyone from doing what they want to do. That system of values will lead to chaos in society. Could we be seeing that in certain examples around the world? I’m thinking of,

What is the other value system that counters this? Truth is absolute! What does that teach? More on that below.

2. Humanism

This term is a little more difficult to define as it has at least two dimensions. In one of its forms, ‘humanism itself is the overall attitude that human beings are of special value; their aspirations, their thoughts, their yearnings are significant’. This is an emphasis that I support as it asserts ‘the value of the individual person’. Since the time of the Renaissance there have been many thoughtful Christians and non-Christians who were pleased to call themselves humanists in a positive sense. These have included some Christians, including John Calvin (1509-1564), William Shakespeare (1564-1616), and John Milton (1608-1674) [Sire 1988:74-75].

There has been another negative view of humanism. Its tenets were drafted in Paul Kurtz & Edwin H Wilson’s Humanist Manifesto II (The American Humanist Association, 1973). Secular humanists would probably find the first 6 tenets of this Manifesto to harmonise with their secular values for the practice of secular humanism. In the words of the Preface to this Manifesto, ‘varieties and emphases of naturalistic humanism include “scientific,” “ethical,” “democratic,” “religious,” and “Marxist” humanism. Free thought, atheism, agnosticism, skepticism, deism, rationalism, ethical culture, and liberal religion all claim to be heir to the humanist tradition’ (The American Humanist Association, 1973).

However, what is secular?

3. Secularism

What does it mean to have a secular view of life? Albert Mohler states that ‘secular refers to the absence of any binding divine authority or belief. Secularization is a sociological process whereby societies become less theistic as they become more modern’ (Mohler 2015:5).

The Council of Australian Humanist Societies claims that ‘Australia is and has always been a country with secular values’ (Harrad 2015). We know that this is not the case because when the first fleet arrived in Sydney Cove on 26 January 1788 with convicts from Great Britain, Richard Johnson was the first chaplain on The Endeavour and he represented the Anglican Church of Great Britain.

(image courtesy Wikipedia)

Rev Richard Johnson (ca. 1756 – 1827)








If you were to go into downtown Sydney, there’s a place where I would like you to stand.

clip_image004It’s down at the Circular Quay end of Castlereagh street – on the corner of Bligh and Hunter Streets. In a little square, there’s a monument – passed by and unread by hundreds of people every day.

Imagine you are standing in that spot, but instead of looking up at the tall buildings, and hearing the noise of the cars and the buses, above you is a great tree. You are in a wilderness – and the sounds you hear are the sounds of kookaburras – and the sounds of marching feet. For it is very near that spot – at the corner of Bligh and Hunter Streets – that, on Sunday 3rd February 1788, the first Christian church service was held in the Colony of New South Wales.

Just imagine it… Out in the harbour are moored eleven ships – the ships of the First Fleet, having carried just over a thousand people from Southampton.

There’s the Governor, Captain Arthur Phillip, twenty officials and their servants, 213 marines with some wives and children, more than 750 convicts – one chaplain and his wife – as well as one eternal optimist – a certain James Smith, the man who had actually stowed away on the First Fleet! (Marcus Loane, Hewn from the Rock, 1997-2016).


(photo courtesy Anglican Church League)

Marcus Loane explained the conflict between evangelical Christian values and secularism in the start of the Australian colony.

In 1792, he [Richard Johnson] wrote to the inhabitants of the Colony. It was a booklet he had published because the population of the Colony was increasing, and there was no way he could see everyone … so he wrote this booklet to set forth the gospel and to call upon men and women to repent. This is a part of what he wrote, and it gives us a good insight into what Johnson saw was his task and his message….

I have told you again and again, that Christ is the way, the truth, and the life, and that there is no coming to God with comfort, either in this world, or in that which is to come, but by him. He has told you so himself. And the apostle assures you, that there is no other name under heaven, given unto men, whereby they can be saved. Look unto him, and you shall be saved; if not, you must be damned. This is the plain truth, the express declaration of the Bible. Life and death are set before you.

Permit me then, as your minister, your friend, and a well-wisher to your souls, to press these serious and weighty considerations home upon your consciences once more. I hope and believe that I have asserted nothing, but what can be proved by the highest authority, the word of the living God.

They certainly deserve your closest and most careful attention, since it is plain beyond a doubt. that upon your knowledge or ignorance, your acceptance or rejection of this gospel, your everlasting happiness or misery must depend.

Yes, Richard Johnson was a man of the gospel – but there are two other men of whom we should take note –

Two other Men

The clear preaching of the gospel by Johnson soon brought him into conflict with the Governor, Arthur Phillip.

Phillip had no time for such strong Evangelical stuff and asked Johnson to “begin with moral subjects”.

This shows the fundamental division between these two key people in the new colony. Johnson was an evangelical, called to preach the gospel. He was concerned for the eternal welfare of the men and women of the colony. He wanted to see them turn to Christ and be saved.

Phillip, on the other hand, was called to establish the new settlement, and what he was concerned about was good order and a solid moral fibre for the community. He was happy to use what he saw as “religion” as a means to an end. It was OK to have a chaplain, as long as he didn’t take things too seriously.

But, as we know, Johnson did….

Let’s face it – if we preach the pure gospel of Christ today, we are not going to have civic leaders or social commentators or the media queuing up to thank us. The message we are called to proclaim is a lot more demanding than the polite morality many want to church to teach!

But there was another reaction to Richard Johnson’s preaching that was less favourable.

When, due to ill health, Arthur Phillip returned to England in December 1792, Major Francis Grose assumed control as Acting Governor.

Grose hated Johnson and the gospel he preached, and he set out to make life as hard as possible for the Chaplain.

In 1793, after continued government inaction on the construction of a promised church building, Mr Johnson built a church – largely with his own hands. It was big enough to hold 500 people and it opened on 25th August 1793 (Loane 1997-2016).

Yes, there were secularists with the first fleet who wanted to promote their agendas and oppose the faithful, evangelical chaplain, Richard Johnson, who planted biblical Christianity at Australia’s beginning. The result is that today the evangelicals have a large Anglican evangelical diocese in Sydney. The Bible Society reported:

In the Anglican Church, the presence of the evangelical diocese of Sydney makes things clear. Unlike other dioceses, it is the only one with better than expected attendance, according to the report’s criteria based on Census data.

In Sydney, 68,000 Anglicans are in church each Sunday. In Melbourne 21,000 Anglicans are in church on Sunday. It was pointed out at General Synod … that the growing churches were evangelical such as City on a Hill in Melbourne, and the Trinity group of churches in Adelaide (Sandeman 2014).

You will note in the Shepherd (2015) article that she does not provide any worldview framework for determining that the practice of paedophilia is wrong or a ‘horror’ and the sexual abuse of children is wrong. God did not come into the picture in determining values, so she is promoting a secular perspective for determining values. When this happens, the morals are determined by the government in power and there is no divine standard to which one or a government can appeal for determining morality and what is legal vs illegal.

My understanding is that Shepherd, in relying on the research she quoted, has arrived at an ethical view of paedophilia that could be described as relativistic secular humanism. However, Shepherd is espousing a view that I find prevalent in the daily radio & TV news and news online. The emphases are:

flamin-arrow-small The are no absolute values of right and wrong;

flamin-arrow-small Progressive liberalism and free thought;

flamin-arrow-small Belief about paedophilia that has no relationship with God’s values;

flamin-arrow-small Paedophilia related to a physical attribute – wiring in the brain.

In avoiding a Christian solution through a theistic worldview (which is expected from a secular newspaper journalist), Shepherd has avoided dealing with a core issue that could help fix the problem.

That is also the case with Kylie Miller’s assessment. She is a senior analyst of the National Crime Authority in Australia, who concluded her presentation on ‘Paedophilia: Police and Prevention’ with this viewpoint:

Given the very low rehabilitation rate for paedophiles, their tendency towards lifelong offending, and the high number of potential victims, it is clear that the resources expended on the detection of child sexual abuse, need to be balanced against resources devoted to the prevention of child sexual abuse. Although law enforcement plays an important role in detecting and countering child sexual abuse, the criminal justice system cannot deal with this problem alone: it needs to be tackled holistically. Police, lawyers, the courts, community services, teachers, doctors, parents and the media all have a role to play in countering child sexual abuse, and a cooperative and coordinated effort is vital to successfully reduce paedophile activity (Miller n d).[6]

Miller, although her emphasis was on a law enforcement perspective, in this summary conclusion has omitted an important dimension of a holistic solution. This is now addressed.

4. A diagnosis and cure provided by a Christian worldview

Scripture is very clear that the problem of sinful humanity, with its many manifestations, has to deal with a deceitful human heart that not only affects paedophiles, writers dealing with paedophilia, and those of us reading this article on paedophiles. In addition, the problem of sexual immorality is a sin that is an unrighteous action that will prohibit people from entering God’s kingdom. The language from 1 Corinthians 6:9 is very clear, ‘Do not be deceived’. There is a deception being practised when one does not want to deal with the sins of sexual immorality (including paedophilia). See the context of this statement about deception in 1 Corinthians 6:9-11 (NIV).

Try convincing a 5-year-old raped by a paedophile that it’s not the paedophile’s fault but the paedophile was born that way and he can’t help it because of a brain malfunction. I find this to be straining at a gnat to justify immoral, wicked, devastating behaviour.

Scripture’s perspective is:

Do you not know that wrongdoers will not inherit the kingdom of God? Do not be deceived: Neither the sexually immoral nor idolaters nor adulterers nor men who have sex with men 10 nor thieves nor the greedy nor drunkards nor slanderers nor swindlers will inherit the kingdom of God. 11 And that is what some of you were. But you were washed, you were sanctified, you were justified in the name of the Lord Jesus Christ and by the Spirit of our God (1 Corinthians 6:9-11 NIV).

Where does the paedophile fit into this list of ‘wrongdoers’? He would be among ‘the sexually immoral’ or ‘men who have sex with men’. The ‘sexually immoral’ term is based on the Greek, pornos, which means ‘the sexually immoral persons in this world … differentiated from an adulterer ( 1 Cor 6:9; Heb 13:4)’ (Arndt & Gingrich 1957:700).

I find it to be half-baked or whacko when the world’s standards can become such that they want to redefine sexually immoral behaviour into that ‘which would make it not their fault’ and ‘if paedophiles got sympathy, respect and treatment, they say, there would be fewer offences. Fewer children raped. Surely that’s something worth thinking about?’ (Shepherd 2015)

Yes, it’s certainly worth thinking about for one second and no more and then dumping the idea because it is right off base when compared with a biblical worldview of the cause of sexual perversion, ‘The heart is deceitful above all things, and desperately sick; who can understand it?’ (Jeremiah 17:9 ESV)

Where is the cure? It is through a heart change, an inner change of one’s being, that brings a change of view towards the nature of human beings, the human dilemma, right versus wrong, and how the Lord God is involved in the change process through Jesus Christ. Let’s examine some of these emphases:

flamin-arrow-small Psalm 51:10 (NIV), ‘Create in me a pure heart, O God, and renew a steadfast spirit within me’.

flamin-arrow-small Proverbs 4:23 (NIV), ‘Above all else, guard your heart, for everything you do flows from it’.

flamin-arrow-small 2 Corinthians 5:17 (NIV), ‘Therefore, if anyone is in Christ, the new creation has come:[7] The old has gone, the new is here!’

flamin-arrow-small Colossians 3:1 (NIV), ‘Since, then, you have been raised with Christ, set your hearts on things above, where Christ is, seated at the right hand of God’.

What does ‘heart’ mean in the Old Testament Scriptures here cited? In Psalm 51:10, ‘“Heart” is in the Hebrew the center where thoughts and plans originate. This is to be redone, as is also the spirit of the man [human being] himself, which had wavered in uncertainty and vacillated between hope and despair’ (Leupold 1959:405).

That new creation for every person, including the paedophile, requires acknowledgement of the real problem. It is not primarily a wiring in the brain issue, it is a sinful human heart. See the article by Greg Herrick, ‘The Seat of Sin, the Heart’ (Herrick 2004). But a relativistic secular humanist will run a mile from wanting to label the paedophile’s problem sin. But that’s exactly what it is. If researchers spent more time on allowing the Gospel to be proclaimed to paedophiles and then those who responded to be discipled, we should get closer to the cure. However, it still leaves us with punishment in prison for those who do not respond to Christ’s salvation. For them, there is no cure and they will have to be constantly monitored whenever they are out of jail. That’s the sad situation we face with paedophile back-sliders (recidivists)

The Christian worldview difference that provides a diagnosis and cure for the paedophile problem, which is the problem for any sinner, is covered in my summary article, The Content of the Gospel . . . and some discipleship.

However, don’t expect a secular audience to accept this diagnosis.

5. Sin and an antagonistic, secular, Australian culture

The rejection of the Christian diagnosis is seen in what happened to a Christian street preacher on Queensland’s Gold Coast in December 2015. Family Voice Australia covered the story:


A member of Operation 513 preaches in Cavill Mall on the Gold Coast (photo courtesy Family Voice Australia, 7 December 2015).

George, a Queensland street preacher with the Operation 513 group, was arrested on Friday night, despite being authorised to assemble and preach peacefully in the Surfers Paradise Cavill Mall under the state’s Peaceful Assembly Act. Operation 513 had preached in Cavill Mall on several previous occasions without any complaints.

At about 10.30 pm, a police sergeant approached George and told him to “move on” after he had mentioned some sins listed in the Bible (eg 1 Corinthians 6:9-10) – such as adultery, slander, theft, greed, swindling and homosexual conduct.

George and the group organiser Ryan Hemelaar asked for clarification.  The female sergeant said (in part): “You have talked about homosexuality, offending members of the public about homosexuality.  You are talking about other religions – [saying] that they aren’t right, aren’t God’s way.  Now we have members of the public here who are of other religions. Your words over this speaker are causing anxiety. A member of the public has had a go at you and this man here [George] is antagonising him by quoting [from the Bible] in the opposite of what he is trying to say.”

Ryan Hemelaar tried in vain to explain that the group had official authorisation, so that under section 45 of the Police Powers and Responsibilities Act, police could not lawfully give a “move on” order.

An acting senior police sergeant and an inspector then arrived and told George to move on immediately or be arrested.  George refused to move on. He was handcuffed and arrested for disobeying a police direction. He was later released and  issued with a notice to appear in court later this month.

Family Voice Queensland director Geoffrey Bullock is deeply concerned by the police action.

“Since when has it been an offence to discuss Bible teaching in Queensland?” he asked. “Whatever happened to religious freedom?  Are we rapidly becoming a ‘police state’?” (Family Voice Australia 2016)

I don’t expect that a relativistic, secular humanist perspective like that promoted in Shepherd’s article will want to be open to the biblical worldview in this article because ‘the heart is deceitful’ for paedophiles, paedophile researchers, journalists, and me. Without changed hearts, we’ll be seeking all kinds of secular alibis to explain or justify sinful behaviour.

D. What makes paedophilia immoral and unlawful?

Notice how a secular, anti-Christian expresses it crudely and blasphemously online. The topic was, ‘What does the Bible say about pedophilia?’[8] This person wrote:

Bugger what the bible says or does’nt (sic) say. IT’S WHAT WE BELIEVE IS RIGHT OR NOT AND IT’S NOT. Believe it or not we live in a different century to when the bible was written and we deal with things according to the current bible which is the book of law and common ethics.[9]

That’s a crude, moral relativist’s way of expressing it. However, the fact remains that for paedophilia to be immoral, there has to be an absolute law of right or wrong. ‘It’s what we believe is right or not’ is not the way to build a just society. That’s the means of promoting moral relativism of all people doing what’s right in their own eyes.

We had an example of such in the Old Testament: ‘In those days Israel had no king; all the people did whatever seemed right in their own eyes’ (Judges 17:6; 21:25 NLT). What was the result? They departed from the Lord God and made ‘household gods’ and ordained priests to lead worship to these false gods (Judges 17:5 NIV). There were no judges in the land of Israel to point out the wrong and how this behaviour deviated from God’s law. There were no judges in the land of Israel to point out the wrong and how this behaviour deviated from God’s law.

The essence is: For paedophilia to be unlawful, there needs to be laws made by the governments to convict paedophiles. Here are the laws proposed by the Australian state of New South Wales, as reported by Brittany Hughes of Triple M:

Paedophiles who prey on children younger than 10 for sexual intercourse will face life behind bars under new laws to be introduced to NSW Parliament….

Attorney General Gabrielle Upton will introduce legislation increasing the maximum penalty for the offence from 25 years to life behind bars.

The proposal is part of a series of measures taken by the government following a pre-election promise by Premier Mike Baird to get tough on child sex offenders.

If passed, Ms Upton says the laws will see paedophiles hit with lengthy jail terms and “bring sentences into line with community expectations,”

“These are the worst crimes against the most vulnerable in our community, our children, our young people and too often sentences handed down don’t align with community expectation” (Hughes 2015, emphasis in original).

This NSW legislation was passed on 24 June 2015 that increased the maximum sentence for sexual intercourse with a child under age 10 from 25 years to life in prison (Mamamia News 2015)

How do the laws in my home state of Queensland (Qld) against paedophilia compare with other states. Sadly there is no uniformity of legislation across the Australia. However, this is the Qld situation when compared with Victoria and South Australia:

In Victoria the crime of sex with a child under 10 attracts a maximum penalty of 25 years’ imprisonment.

In Queensland and South Australia, many serious sex offences against children already carry a maximum penalty of life imprisonment (Mamamia News 2015).

The Queensland government has made available online a copy of its Crime and Misconduct Act 2001 (effective at 19 March 2014 when this legislation was published online), that states that ‘criminal activity’, including criminal paedophilia, ‘involves an indictable offence punishable on conviction by a term of imprisonment not less than 14 years’ (Queensland: Crime and Misconduct Act 2001).

Paedophilia is illegal because the law of the country in which one lives makes it illegal, along with punishment for the perpetrator.

However, who or what informs the content of this legislation? Obviously people in government and in the community consider that it is wrong for an adult to sexually violate a child. But what makes it wrong?

That’s not how Tory Shepherd (2015) reported it. Her article began with:

Evidence shows that it might be true; paedophiles are born that way. Recent research suggests some faulty wiring in the brain. Things about children that are meant to elicit a protective response instead elicit a sexual one (Shepherd 2015).

Notice the language, ‘It might be true’. It did not begin with a statement such as, ‘Paedophilia is wrong. The law of the land states that it is morally reprehensible behaviour that is always immoral. It is an indictable offense and that conduct should never be tolerated in a civil society. Children should be protected from such vile predators’. Could you imagine a journalist in a secular newspaper writing what I created in this paragraph?

Why could she not conclude that way? It seems that her relativistic, secular humanism worldview enables her to brush aside the absolutes of morally repulsive paedophilia because if it is a problem with ‘wiring in the brain’, then it ‘would make it not their fault’ (Shepherd 2015).

What is morally right or wrong does not appear in Shepherd’s worldview, based on her article.

1. What informs government legislation?

This is where the crunch comes. Can people be good without God? Can they develop truly just legislation for all in society? Is it possible for both paedophile and victim to be treated with compassion in a secular society?

Peter Hitchens, a world renowned journalist and brother of the late Christopher Hitchens (leading British columnist and prominent atheist), attempted to address this in his article, ‘Good without God? Morality’s Foundations Crumble in the Absence of Christianity’ (Hitchens 2014). Peter’s claim was that Christopher’s dismissal of absolute theistic morality and his claim that ‘the order to “love thy neighbour as thyself” is too extreme and too strenuous to be obeyed’. Christopher claimed that human beings ‘are not so constituted as to care for others as much as themselves’. Peter contradicted this as being ‘demonstrably untrue’ by examples of mothers devoted to children, doctors and nurses risking infection and death to care for others, husbands and/or wives caring for sick, incontinent and demented spouses at the ends of their lives. Peter noted that ‘the absolute code has been jettisoned, and we have all become adept at making excuses for shirking such duties’ and ‘selflessness of this kind will become less common’ with many spin-off effects in diverse disciples and situations. Part of his assessment was:

Christianity is without doubt difficult and taxing, and all of us must fail to emulate the perfection of Christ himself, but we are far better for trying than for not trying, and we know that there is forgiveness available for honest failure. My brother’s suggestion that we are urged to be superhuman “on pain of death and torture” reveals a misunderstanding both of the nature of the commandments and of the extent of forgiveness. There is also some excuse-making involved (Peter Hitchins 2014).

Some of the comments online about Peter Hitchens’ article included:

  • ‘The freedom to pick and choose what one feels is appropriate provides both perspective and flexability [sic] (tolerance and harmony). A fixed or ‘absolute’ stance leaves no room for compromise or accommodation’ (GR8APE in Hitchens 2014).
  • ‘I think this article is wrestling with how do you say something is right or wrong if there is no higher authority or giver of morality?
    ‘I don’t think it is saying that unless you are a Christian you cannot do good things. Indeed, the gospel says nothing of the sort. It says we are all sinners and have fallen short. Unlike every other religion, the gospel says we are not saved by works, we are saved by the grace of God, so no one can boast. It also says we all know right from wrong, not because we have accepted Christ, but because He has written it on all our hearts’ (Belinda in Hitchens 2014).

These two comments represent the divide I’ve been attempting to expose in this article:

  1. If everyone has the ‘freedom to pick and choose what one feels is appropriate’ with tolerance and harmony and there are no ‘fixed’ absolutes, why should I choose ‘tolerance and harmony’? That’s one person’s point of view (I happen to agree with the person, but my foundation is biblical Christianity). If anyone picks and chooses what is appropriate, the paedophile, murderer, thief and terrorist must be allowed to do the same thing. This is relativism in action and will lead to disaster in society.
  2. However, the second example demonstrates the need for a higher authority than human beings to determine right and wrong of morals. God has written this on the conscience of all human beings (see Romans 2:15-16 ESV).. To be able to put this into action, a person needs a changed heart that only Christian conversion can bring. Other attempts at doing good works are sustained by human energy and have a serious potential to fail when there is no change of heart that Jesus brings to a Christian believer.

Romans 1:19-23 (NIV) is clear that all human beings know the attributes of God clearly, but they suppress the truth of this ‘by their wickedness’ (Rom 1:18). The consequence of this is that there is no such person as an atheist as all people know ‘God’s invisible qualities—his eternal power and divine nature’ from creation and all people are ‘without excuse’ (Rom 1:20) So those who claim to be atheists are really agnostics who don’t want to know what God has revealed to them because of ‘their wickedness’ which causes them to ‘suppress the truth’ of God’s revelation to them (Rom 1:18).

From the beginning of time, there have been two options for moral direction in any society and they are demonstrated by those two examples: (1) Human beings choose their own values and this could involve turning to world religions (including relativistic, secular humanism), or (2) People turn to the God of Scripture for his absolutes on moral behaviour and use these values for personal and societal morals.

This leads to my concluding evaluation, an issue that has faced humanity throughout its history:

2. What is truth?

These are the words of Pontius Pilate at the time when Jesus was handed over to him. Pilate said to Jesus, ‘“So you are a king?” Jesus answered, “You say that I am a king. For this purpose I was born and for this purpose I have come into the world—to bear witness to the truth. Everyone who is of the truth listens to my voice.” 38 Pilate said to him, “What is truth?”’ (John 18:37-38 ESV).

The Christian answers this question with what Jesus said. He did not want his disciples taken out of the world but that they be kept from the evil one. Thus his absolute is paramount, ‘Sanctify them in the truth; your word is truth’ (John 17:17). Jesus’ further word was in what he said to Thomas, ‘I am the way, and the truth, and the life’ (John 14:6). What the Scriptures say is true, is absolutely true. ‘You shall not murder’ is true for all people at all times (Ex 20:13; Matt 5:21; Rom 13:9). How is that so? The Scriptures endorse that command. There are two covenants revealed in Scripture: (a) The Old Covenant for the Israelites, contained in the Old Testament, and (b) The New Covenant revealed in the New Testament. Christians pursue the New Covenant.

But what about the other view, ‘I will do what’s right for me; you do what’s right for you’. This is a relativistic view of truth and has these consequences according to Paul Copan:

  • If my belief is only true for me, then why isn’t your belief only true for you? Aren’t you saying you want me to believe the same thing you do?
  • You say that no belief is true for everyone, but you want everyone to believe what you do.
  • You’re making universal claims that relativism is true and absolutism is false. You can’t in the same breath say, ‘Nothing is universally true’ and ‘My view is universally true.’ Relativism falsifies itself. It claims there is one position that is true – relativism!
  • You’re applying your view to everyone but yourself. You expect others to believe your views (the ‘self-excepting fallacy’) [Copan 1998].

How then does one determine what is true?

This actually happened when I was aged 6 years. I had just begun primary school and used to walk to our one room, one teacher school, with about 6 grades in the one room, from our cane farm just up the road. One morning I woke up with horrific pains in my knees and ankles which were so swollen and painful that I could not bear to have the sheets touch them.


(Ford Prefect A493A utility – photo courtesy

My parents rushed me to hospital from our cane farm near Bundaberg. It took 30 minutes in our old Ford Prefect utility to where I was admitted to St. Vincent’s Hospital (now known as The Friendly Society Private Hospital – the Friendlies – Bundaberg, Qld., Australia). I was there for some weeks as the doctors sought a diagnosis. It was there that Thelma Stay, radio announcer of ‘Hello the Hospitals’ on 4BU Bundaberg became my friend as parents, relatives and friends sent me get well greetings through that programme and one of my favourite country music songs was sung – often by Slim Dusty with a song such as, ‘When the rain tumbles down in July’.

I had contracted rheumatic fever and must remain in bed, flat on my back, not raising my head as that would cause further heart damage. When home from hospital, my Dad made a special wooden trestle to put over my body as I lay on the bed, on which to place school books to do school work.

This same kind of experience happened again with further bouts of rheumatic fever at ages 10 and 12 that left me with leaking heart valves.

These descriptions of my rheumatic fever attacks and the excruciating pain remain with me today in my mature age. I live with the truth that corresponds with reality of three rheumatic fever attacks. I can make truthful statements about what happened in those years that could be confirmed by my parents (they are at home with the Lord now). My brother and sister can confirm the events that happened. They were younger so they probably remember the bouts at ages 10 and 12 better. However, with plausible accuracy, we can remember the health issues that happened in my early years. There is evidence that could have been accumulated from doctors, hospitals and others. We live with this view of truth – that which corresponds with the facts of reality.

If objective truth were not available (through correspondence with the facts) and the absolutes of God’s moral laws in Scripture were denied, society would be swimming in the sea of relativism with no absolute view of right and wrong.

For a more detailed explanation of the nature of truth, see, ‘Questions about Truth’ by Norman Geisler & Peter Bocchino (Geisler & Bocchino 2001:31-53).

E. Conclusion

A seemingly inoffensive article appeared in the Herald Sun in April 2015 that promoted the view that ‘if people are born straight, or gay, is it possible that paedophiles can’t help being what they are?’ (Shepherd 2015) She introduced the possibility that research into paedophilia has attempted to confirm that for paedophiles they have some faulty wiring in the brain that ‘would make it not their fault’.

A closer look at Tory Shepherd’s article found some other dynamics in the agenda being promoted in the article. After defining paedophilia and revealing why it is a crime, several examples of convicted paedophiles were given and this included acknowledgement of the impact on victims.

After explaining the nature of a worldview and the dimensions of such a view, it was shown that Shepherd appears to promote a worldview of relativistic secular humanism. An attempt was made to demonstrate that that worldview misses a critical diagnosis and cure for paedophilia and other sins, that are available through a Christian worldview. The diagnosis and cure relate to dealing with the heart of the matter, the sinful heart that needs a radical change provided by the Gospel and a relationship with Jesus Christ.

The final section examined why paedophilia is immoral and unlawful and how one informs the content of government legislation. This involved an examination of the nature of truth – relativism versus absolutes. Truth is that which corresponds with reality when the evidence is gathered.

Why are people not listening to the truth of Jesus and God’s absolutes revealed in Scripture? ‘But God shows his anger from heaven against all sinful, wicked people who suppress the truth by their wickedness’ (Rom 1:18 NLT).

Jesus said: ‘The reason I was born and

came into the world is to testify to the

truth. Everyone on the side of truth

listens to me’ (John 18:37 NIV).


Works consulted

Arndt, W F & Gingrich, F W 1957. A Greek-English lexicon of the New Testament and other early Christian literature.[10] Chicago: The University of Chicago Press (limited edition licensed to Zondervan Publishing House).

Beckwith, F J 2009. Philosophical problems with moral relativism. Christian Research Institute (online), April 6. Available at: (Accessed 26 January 2016).

Branco, J 2016. Convicted paedophile who raped stepdaughter to be watched until 2021. Brisbane Times (online), January 17. Available at: (Accessed 17 January 2016).

Campion, T 2013. Tommy Campion and Phillip Aspinall – the road to redemption. (online), May 25. Available at: (Accessed 16 January 2016).

Copan, P 1998. That’s true for you but not for me’ (Relativism). uccf: thechristianunions (online). Available at bethinking, at: (Accessed 30 January 2016).

Family Voice Australia 2016. Gold Coast preacher arrested for talking about sin (online), December 7. Available at: (Accessed 30 January 2016).

Geisler, N & Bocchino, P 2001. Unshakable foundations. Bloomington, Minnesota: Bethany House Publishers.

Harrad, S 2015. Australian Humanist Conference – Brisbane 2016. Council of Australian Humanist Societies (online), September 28. Available at: (Accessed 30 January 2016).

Herrick, G 2004. The seat of sin, the heart. (online), June 9. Available at: (Accessed 29 January 2016).

Hitchens, P 2014. Good without God? Morality’s foundations crumble in the absence of Christianity. ABC Religion and Ethics (online), December 3. Available at: (Accessed 30 January 2016).

Hughes, B 2015. Paedophiles who prey on kids under 10 to get life in jail: Laws tightened to crack down on offenders. Triple M (online), May 11. Available at: (Accessed 30 January 2016).

Kaplan, M 2015. Taking pedophilia seriously. Washington and Lee Law Review (online), 72(1), Winter, 75-170. Available at: (Accessed 16 January 2016).

Lawrence, K 2009. Inside the mind of evil predator, convicted paedophile Dennis Ferguson. The Daily Telegraph (online), September 19. Available at: (Accessed 15 January 2016).

Leupold, H C 1959. Exposition of The Psalms. London: Evangelical Press.[11]

Loane, M 1997-2016. Hewn from the Rock. In ‘Richard Johnson – first Chaplain to Australia’, Anglican Church League (online). Available at: (Accessed 30 January 2016).

Mamamia News 2015. New laws mean life in prison for convicted paedophiles, June 25. Available at: (Accessed 30 January 2016).

McKenna, M 2010. Aussie pedophile’s jail sentence a fraction of US term. The Australian (online), September 9. Available at: (Accessed 16 January 2016).

Miller, K n d. Paedophilia: Policy and prevention. Detection and reporting of paedophilia: A law enforcement perspective. Australian Institute of Criminology (online). Available at: (Accessed 30 January 2016).

Mohler, Jr., R A 2015. We Cannot Be Silent. Nashville, Tennessee: Nelson Books.

Sandeman, J 2014. Two Australian denominations face big challenges. Bible Society (online), July 11. Available at: (Accessed 30 January 2016).

Seto, M C 2012. Is pedophilia a sexual orientation? Archives of Sexual Behavior 41, 231-236.[12]

Shepherd, T 2015, Should we help paedophiles? What choice do we have? The Herald Sun (online) April 7. Available at: (Accessed 15 January 2016).

Sire, J 1988. The Universe Next Door: A Basic World View Catalog, b updated & exp. Downers Grove, Illinois: InterVarsity Press.


[1] Throughout the body of this article, I have used the Australian (British) spelling of paedophile and its derivatives, but have used the American spelling, pedophile, in the title for Internet recognition by search engines.

[2] Dr Michael C Seto is a Canadian clinical psychologist, associate professor, and a director of forensic rehabilitation research. His CV details are at: (Accessed 16 January 2016).

[3] Bravehearts 2012. Child Sexual Assault: Facts and Statistics, December. Available at: (Accessed 15 January 2016).

[4] The word ‘unendable’ was not found in Oxford dictionaries (online), Merriam-Webster dictionary (online),, and The Macquarie Dictionary. There is a brief discussion of the meaning and use of ‘unendable’ at: (Accessed 26 January 2016).

[5] This is not the correct spelling as paedophile in the USA where the group is called ‘Virtuous Pedophiles’. See: (Accessed 15 January 2016).

[6] No date is given for this presentation, but she cites statistics from 1994 and footnotes from 1996.

[7] The footnote at this point stated, ‘Or Christ, that person is a new creation’.

[8] Yahoo! Answers n d. Available at: (Accessed 17 January 2016).

[9] Ibid., knackers

[10] This is ‘a translation and adaptation of Walter Bauer’s Griechisch-Deutsches Wörtbuch zu den Schriften des Neuen Testaments und der übrigen urchristlichen Literatur’, 4th rev and aug ed, 1952 (Arndt & Gingrich 1957:iii).

[11] This is a 1969 reprint edition. The original publication of 1959 was with The Wartburg Press, assigned to Augsburg Publishing House in 1961.

[12] Only the abstract of the article is able free online at: (Accessed 16 January 2016).


Copyright © 2016 Spencer D. Gear. This document last updated at Date: 20 May 2016.

Andover Newton Seminary goes down the tube

File:Dabney Hall, Andover Newton Theological School - IMG 0354.JPG

(Dabney Hall, Andover Newton Theological Hall, courtesy Wikimedia Commons)

By Spencer D Gear PhD

Why is a formerly leading USA theological seminary (the first ever USA seminary) now scaling down operations, with a plan to relocate? Could it be going down the tubes? Is it heading for oblivion? The Andover website tells of the foundation of the seminary:

The seed for Andover Newton can be traced back to 1778, when Phillips Academy was founded for “the promotion of true piety and virtue” in Andover, MA. In 1807, New England Congregationalists, concerned about “unitarian” trends at Harvard College, instituted a separate department of divinity and raised money for the Samuel Abbot Professor of Theology at Phillips Academy. This was the first seminary professorship in North America (History of Andover Newton 2015).

Now what is happening? Andover Newton is doing the very thing that it found repugnant at its founding – joining with Unitarianism.

This problem of decline has been covered in a Boston Globe article, ‘Newton seminary plans to scale down operations, relocate’ (Schworm 2015).[1]

Schworm stated:

Beyond relocating, the seminary plans to offer fewer programs to fewer students. Under a new model, it would focus more narrowly on preparing students for the Christian and Unitarian Universalist ministry “in lieu of the broad range of programs and options available today.”

The faculty and staff would be substantially smaller, school leaders wrote. Even so, “it is not yet clear that this model would bring us to financial sustainability.”

The seminary has also had preliminary discussions to join Yale Divinity School as a “school within a school.” It would relocate to New Haven but retain some independence.

I wonder how much of the downturn can be explained by this information: ‘The seminary is primarily composed of students with backgrounds in the United Church of Christ, Baptist, and Unitarian Universalist congregations’ (Schworm 2015)?

Let’s briefly examine the nature of these 3 denominations associated with Andover Newton Seminary.[2]

United Church of Christ

See ‘What we believe’ (United Church of Christ) at:

What is its version of the Gospel and the authority of Scripture?

Note the decline of congregations and members at:

In this document it is stated, ‘Similar to other Protestant denominations, the UCC has experienced a decline in the numbers of congregations and members in recent decades. From 2000 to 2010 alone, the UCC encountered a net loss of 696 congregations and 318,897 members’.

This is a theologically liberal denomination that is losing people wholesale because it has redefined the Gospel in modernistic terms that make sense to a secular social worker but not to a Bible believer.

American Baptist Churches (ABC)

This is a separate denomination to the Southern Baptists, General Baptists, Particular Baptists and other evangelical Baptists. Andover Newton Seminary trains American Baptist Churches (as a denomination). See:

ABC are also in decline, associated with a similar modernist trend, but the decline in white congregations and members has been offset by growth in other areas. See:

In 1967, the ABC/USA had 1,335,342 members. In 2012, the membership was 1,308,054, a decline of 2 percent.

(Note: The ABC/USA has been able to stem its decline among white congregants by replacing them with African American and Hispanic members.)

Unitarian Universalist Association (UUA)

Take a read of ‘What we believe’ of this denomination (UUA) at:

It is non-Trinitarian and universalist, i.e. believing all people will be ‘saved’.

How is it possible for such a denomination to train ministers with 2 Protestant denominations (who in theory are Trinitarian). It means that Gospel-centred, Trinitarian theology does not permeate that Seminary. It must be denied to accommodate Unitarian Universalists. All 3 denominations are modernist/postmodernist in theology and emphases.

The impossibility of this kind of ecumenism

ANTSseal.png(courtesy Wikipedia)

Oxford dictionaries states that ecumenism involves ‘the principle or aim of promoting unity among the world’s Christian Churches’ (Oxford dictionaries 2015. s v ecumenism).

Why would people bother going to such ecumenical churches when there are service clubs they can join that would achieve the same aim and without the gloss of Christianity?

I’m of the view that the Andover Newton Seminary demise and its association with United Church of Christ, American Baptist denomination, and Unitarian Universalist Association demonstrates the problem – arsenic in the bread of life. When denominations quit a Bible-based Gospel and an authoritative Scripture and replace it with a liberal, historical-critical, modernist or postmodernist theology, expect fewer people to be attracted. Why attend a good works’ oriented social club in the name of church?

Are all USA churches losing members

Joe Carter of The Gospel Coalition begins his article, ‘FactChecker: Are all Christian denominations in decline’, with this quote from Rachel Held Evans:

Just about every denomination in the American church — including many evangelical denominations — is seeing a decline in numbers, so if it’s a competition, then we’re all losing, just at different rates (in Carter 2015).

Mainliners may try to comfort themselves by claiming that every denomination is in decline, but it’s simply not true. While conservative churches aren’t growing as quickly as they once were, mainline churches are on a path toward extinction. The mainline churches are finding that as they move further away from Biblical Christianity, the closer they get to their inevitable demise.

(Campus view, courtesy Wikipedia)

 How liberal Christianity kills churches

I have covered this in some of my previous articles,

designRed-smallChurch growth or decline in the United Kingdom

designRed-small  Damning evidence against theological liberalism

designRed-small How to destroy a Christian denomination

designRed-small  Is liberal theology heresy?

designRed-small The Gospel Distortion: A reply to John Shelby Spong

What’s the truth about the death of theism? Wherever theological liberalism has taken hold, church numbers have declined. Frank Pastore put it this way: ‘We’ve all witnessed the plummeting attendance of liberal mainline denominations for decades’ (‘The National Council of Churches should have died’).

When Trinitarian and Unitarian denominations try to work together to homogenise theological training in an ecumenical arrangement, how is it ever possible to be authentic with Scripture and the Gospel? Such an amalgam is impossible. Death and or decline are the natural outcome and that seems to be what is happening at Andover Newton Theological Seminary.

Works consulted

Carter, J 2015. FactChecker: Are All Christian Denominations in Decline? The Gospel Coalition (online), March 17. Available at: (Accessed 18 November 2015).

Schworm, P 2015. Newton seminary plans to scale down operations, relocate.

Boston Globe (online), November 12. Available at: (Accessed 18 November 2015).


[1] I began a thread on this topic on a UK Christian forum, Staying in Touch, under the title, ‘Why would a seminary be scaling down?’, Dougie#1. Available at: (Accessed 18 November 2015).

[2] I included much of the following in ibid., Dougie#8.


Copyright © 2015 Spencer D. Gear. This document last updated at Date: 1 April 2016.


Educator fails basic grammar test

Can You Pass This Basic Grammar Test?

(courtesy Playbuzz)

Spencer D Gear

How bad is the teaching and practice of grammar by our school teachers? Is grammar no longer important?

Take a read of the beginning of this article in the Courier-Mail [Brisbane, Australia]:

TEACHERS are no longer the “font of all knowledge”, challenged by devices such as iPads and phones in the modern classroom.

Students are instead becoming more challenging to teachers, Australian Secondary Principals Association executive director Rob Nairn told a meeting of more than 200 principals and deputies.

“We are dealing with a totally different beast,” he said.

“Gone are the days when a teacher stands at the front of a classroom and are seen as the font of all knowledge … teachers have become facilitators of ideas and learning” (Vonow 2015).

Education leader’s shocking grammar

Image result for grammar clipart public domain(public domain)

Read the beginning of that last paragraph again: ‘Gone are the days when a teacher stands at the front of a classroom and are seen as the font of all knowledge’.

Could the problem be with teachers who don’t know the difference between singular and plural? In this sentence, Nairn spoke about the singular, ‘a teacher’, but referred to that person by the plural ‘are seen’. In such a fundamental area as this, perhaps this executive director of a Principals’ Association needs to re-learn some basic grammar.

Who is making this statement? He is the Australian Secondary Principals’ Association executive director, Rob Nairn, and he said this to an audience of school principals. This is a shocking example of failed grammar in action.

Who is Rob Nairn? According to the Australian Institute for Teaching and School Leadership Limited, his CV details include the fact that he

‘is Executive Director of the Australian Secondary Principals Association (ASPA Ltd) and Associate Professor at Edith Cowan University. He has extensive experience in metropolitan and regional Senior High Schools in Western Australia particularly in low socio economic areas and is passionate about ensuring that high quality secondary education is provided to every young person no matter what their geographic, social or personal circumstances.

Rob is a Member of the Australian Institute of Company Directors (MAICD), Deputy Chair of the Board of Principals Australia Institute (PAI Ltd), Chair of Edith Cowan University Child Health Promotion Research Centre (CHPRC) Advisory Board, Director of the Edith Cowan University Education Research Advisory Board, Director of the Asia Education Foundation (AEF) Advisory Board and Executive member International Confederation of Principals (ICP)’ [aitsl 2014. Rob Nairn]

With this kind of experience and reputation, I find it incomprehensible that such a person could violate such a fundamental piece of English grammar as knowing that a singular subject requires a singular verb to modify it.

How can students expect to give correct grammatical answers when a prominent teacher got it so wrong?

A problem in primary school classroom

A mother of a primary school student in Grade 5 at a Queensland state school shared this photograph with me from her daughter’s homework book.[1] You might get a giggle out of it, but it is serious when a text book and a teacher can get it so wrong.


There are two fundamental grammatical errors here:

(1) Notice the task for the children to do: ‘The spelling mistakes in these sentences have been underlined. Write the correct spelling for each underlined word in the box’. It should have stated: ‘The grammatical mistakes in these sentences have been underlined. Write the correct grammar for each underlined word in the box at the end of the sentence’.

(2) The student couldn’t see the ‘spelling’ error, so she decided to correct the grammar instead. The teacher’s correction is in handwriting to the right of the handwritten, ‘have’.

So instead of the sentence reading, ‘She could of come with us to the skating rink’, this teacher corrected the student so that the sentence would read, ‘She could off come with us to the skating rink’. This demonstrates that the teacher does not understand either the grammar of the sentence or the correct spelling of the words in the sentence. However, a student in Grade 5 wrote the correct answer and the teacher was very wrong because ‘could have come’ is a compound verb needed for the completion of the sentence and the adverb, adjective, preposition or noun, ‘off’ (Oxford dictionaries 2015. S v off) is incorrect to complete the sentence.

It is a bad situation in a Queensland school when students are exposed to wrong questions and the teacher gives an incorrect answer.

Grammar Nazi

Christine Jackman addressed the issue of ‘Grammar crimes fuel my rage’ (Brisbane Times, September 7, 2014). She was enraged with Australia’s Immigration Minister, Scott Morrison, for saying on radio that ‘the bottom line that I look at is how many less children are there in detention today than when I became minister…. And the answer is over 530 less’. ‘Fewer!’ is what Christine screeched at the radio when she heard him say this and it was so penetrating that it startled the cat. It’s ‘how many fewer children are there in detention’. Fewer!’. She added: ‘I’m furious. I’m pedantic. I’m old’.[2]

I responded to her online:

There is another grammatical violation that continues in a number of sources. I’m speaking of the nominative case of a pronoun after the verb ‘to be’ or objective case after a preposition. It is not, ‘I am him’ but ‘I am he’. It is not, ‘The dog ran between you and I’ but ‘The dog ran between you and me’. Does that make me a grammatical Nazi? Or is it a grammar Nazi?[3]

Oxford dictionaries (2015. s. v. fewer) gave this explanation for the use of fewer versus less:

Fewer versus less: strictly speaking, the rule is that fewer, the comparative form of few, is used with words denoting people or countable things (fewer members; fewer books). Less, on the other hand, is used with mass nouns, denoting things which cannot be counted (less money; less bother). It is regarded as incorrect in standard English to use less with count nouns, as in less people or less words, although this is one of the most widespread errors made by native speakers. It is not so obvious which word should be used with than. Less is normally used with numerals (a score of less than 100) and with expressions of measurement or time (less than two weeks; less than four miles away), but fewer is used if the things denoted by the number are seen as individual items or units (there were fewer than ten contestants).


There are serious issues of failings of grammar by a professor, school teacher, students, politicians, and everyday people. It doesn’t seem to bother many people when grammatical errors are made.

Why is this? I suggest it is related to a dumbing down of the teaching of grammar in schools. This flows into the mass media and general populace, including the language of politicians and others in the public arena.

The consequences can have considerable impact for those who are journalists, teachers, researchers and writers. When people become oblivious to grammatical anomalies, they often will treat grammatical knowledge as trivial.

Works consulted

Oxford dictionaries 2015. Oxford University Press. Available at: (Accessed 6 June 2015).

Vonow, V 2015. ‘iPads and mobile phones challenge traditional teaching methods as children learn more outside school’, 5 June. Courier-Mail (online). Available from perthnow at: (Accessed 6 June 2015).


[1] I do not know the title of the workbook used, but this is a photographed copy of the page of the book. I have used Google to try to locate the exact wording of these examples, but cannot locate them online.

[2] Available at: (Accessed 6 June 2015).

[3] Ibid., Spencer, September 08, 2014, 7:54AM.


Copyright © 2015 Spencer D. Gear. This document last updated at Date: 7 September 2018.

Disadvantages of distance education – a personal perspective


Fools Not Interested


By Spencer D Gear

I’m pursuing a PhD (British model of dissertation only) through distance education. These are some of the disadvantages, as I see them, of pursuing distance education:

  1. Since I pursued my BA and MA in a classroom environment, I miss the interaction with people of different perspectives. The dynamic of the classroom is absent – Big Time!!
  2. Being able to ask (and get answers) from professors in an immediate context is missing. At the beginning of the academic year, I sent material through to my supervisor but it will take him 3 weeks to get to it as he is also teaching in the classroom. Getting immediate feedback is an issue.
  3. Accessing library resources is a challenge as many journals are available online but many other academic resources are not. Most resources in my technical area are not available at or through my local library. I have to travel many km (miles) to access books that I need.When a journal article is not available, I do have access to a librarian assistant who has been very helpful in tracking down most articles. However, there is the occasional article that was not found as the University did not subscribe to that journal.
  4. How can this issue of distance education be solved?
  5. Webcam and Skype could be used more effectively in interacting with other students and supervisor. More online interaction with other students could be promoted, but busy students don’t always have an interest in the small focus of my dissertation. I’m also seeking interaction at a local theological college to see if there are students and faculty interested in my topic. But that also involves considerable travel to the location of the College.
  6. Loneliness is the BIG issue for me. Doing it all alone takes a lot of discipline when I try to work 6-7 hours a day on the dissertation.
  7. I completed my dissertation and graduated in September 2015 after 5 years of research with the University of Pretoria, South Africa. My PhD is in New Testament.
Copyright © 2013 Spencer D. Gear. This document last updated at Date: 29 October 2015.