Archive for the 'Cultural Apologetics' Category

Learn how to screw up your worldview

Tuesday, February 21st, 2017

Green Shiny True Button And Red Shiny False Button With Text And

By Spencer D Gear PhD

A doubter about the existence of God and other things religious wrote that part of his problem,

is that I have a passing academic interest in religion, so pulling things out of that context causes a bit of cognitive dissonance. Theologically I’m very liberal–I know it’s a slippery slope, but it is what it is. I see cultural context everywhere, I don’t trust the Gospels’ historicity, I read John as mysticism, the less said about Paul the better, and I’m aware of how diverse early Christianity was. I won’t claim that the version that survived wasn’t the true one, but I definitely see other factors at play in its success. One of those actually may have been divine intervention–it’s intriguing that there are visions associated with both of the people who transformed it (Paul and Constantine), but this is definitely a tangled knot of problems that aren’t going to be solved anytime soon. So I’m trying to be open to the possibility that the all the important stuff actually is true, but it’s going to involve a lot of leaps of faith to come to that conclusion.[1]

This is only part of a post he made to a Christian forum (you can read a continuation of it at footnote #1, but it unveils a considerable amount of information about his perspective. Let’s see if we can unpack some of the issues that are driving his agenda.

A. A liberal resistance to God

What I observe about his perspective, associated with his ‘cognitive dissonance’, i.e. disharmony in his thought processes, is that his …

1. Presuppositions cover up issues

I addressed him directly:[2] I’ve been looking at this paragraph that you wrote and it seems to be overcome with your presuppositions that are preventing your examining the biblical material at face value. Let me pick up a few of them and I’d appreciate it if you would correct me if I’m wrong:

Your passing academic interest in religion and pulling out of context causes cognitive dissonance. I’m unsure if this ‘context’ is the academic interest or context in Scripture or something else. I’m unclear on your content. If your context is ‘academic interest in religion’, then I’ll have to know whether that is a university, seminary, college or Christian setting (and whether it’s a liberal setting) to be able to try to uncover your presuppositions.

2. We know where the slippery slope leads

Image result for clipart slippery slopeFrom where did you get your ‘very liberal’ theological position? Was it from the evidence from Scripture or from ‘very liberal’ sources who/that dumbed down other views, especially those of Bible-believing Christians? You’ve admitted that it is ‘a slippery slope’. This means that that position is doomed to destroy faith and cause disillusionment with people and decline of churches. We know this from the decline in theologically liberal denominations worldwide. Take a look at the Anglican Church here in Australia (outside of the Sydney diocese), Anglican Church in UK, Church of Scotland, United Church of Canada, Episcopal Church (USA), United Methodist Church (USA), Presbyterian Church (USA), American Baptist, etc. See the article, Liberal churches in decline while orthodox ones grow, says study of Protestants in Canada‘.

3. Stuck in a rut

‘It is what it is’ is an unhealthy way of examining or correcting one’s views. I find the better approach is to investigate the evidence from Scripture without imposition of previous beliefs. Are you a postmodern deconstructionist when it comes to your reading of Scripture?

4. Historicity of the Gospels

You say, ‘ I don’t trust the Gospels’ historicity’. That seems to be your presuppositional imposition on the Gospels. What primary investigation have you done into the nature of historicity of any document and applying those criteria to the Gospels? Other researchers have gone before you who have already done that and they have come to a positive position on the historicity of the Gospels and the NT. I’m thinking of leading researcher at the University of Manchester, the late F F Bruce: The New Testament Documents: Are They Reliable? (available online). Right beside me on my desk is Craig Blomberg, The Historical Reliability of the Gospels (IVP 2007). What causes you to refuse to accept the historical evidence provided by these scholars?

4.1 John’s Gospel and mysticism

‘I read John as mysticism, the less said about Paul the better’, he wrote. That statement is loaded with your presuppositional agenda. You would have to give me lots of other information for me to understand why you regard John as mysticism. By the way, it’s a very different kind of Gospel to the Synoptics because it was written for a different purpose, ‘The disciples saw Jesus do many other miraculous signs in addition to the ones recorded in this book. But these are written so that you may continue to believe that Jesus is the Messiah, the Son of God, and that by believing in him you will have life by the power of his name’ (John 30 30-32 NLT).

Then you give the thumbs down to Paul (presumably referring to his letters and the history about him in the Book of Acts). Without your telling us why you make that statement, I wouldn’t try to guess what leads you to that kind of view.

5. Leap of faith and unthinking Christianity

You say, ‘I’m trying to be open to the possibility that the all important stuff actually is true, but it’s going to involve a lot of leaps of faith to come to that conclusion’. To the contrary, Christianity does not require you to put your brain/mind in neutral and resort to a ‘leap of faith’ to accept it. All of the historical basis of Christianity can be subjected to the same tests of historicity that you give to any other historical document about Nero, Martin Luther, George Washington, Captain James Cook or the September 11, 2001 disaster in New York City. However, there is the strong dimension of faith, but that is in the person of Jesus Christ for salvation, the Jesus who is revealed in Scripture. If you don’t know who Jesus is (because of theological liberal presuppositions), that leap of faith will be into darkness rather than into the light.

B. His responses to my challenge

In the following I deal with his responses to what I have written above. These are some of his emphases:

1. Liberal bias that opposes one-way religion

Image result for clipart one way Christianity

He wrote:

No formal training, I’ve just accumulated knowledge here and there–mostly of a liberal bias, yes. Not specifically Christianity but religion in general. It’s uncomfortable for me to switch from viewing something as interesting in the greater scheme of world religion to zeroing in on one and saying, “Maybe this one actually is true.” It’s getting less strange with time, but it’s definitely still jarring.[3]

How should I reply? Here goes![4]

I was raised in a religiously liberal home and it wasn’t until my parents were converted from liberalism to biblical Christianity that I was even open to other evidence. I did not pursue the evidence wherever it led until that time of conversion for my parents.

What has caused you to consider that the liberal bias of accumulated knowledge is correct? This indicates that you have censored some important areas for consideration. Why have you done that? Have you ever considered how your ‘liberal bias’ lines up with reality – the truth? Why liberal and not conservative? What attracts you to liberal religion?

You don’t like going from the general (greater scheme of world religion) to the specific of one religion being true. Surely this should not be a difficult thing for you to do because you are forced to do it in everyday life, even with much lesser products. Do you use a mobile phone? If so, surely you have examined a range of mobile phones before concluding a certain one was the best for you. That’s what I had to do recently.

You do this in a whole range of activities. What causes you and me to take medicine prescribed by the Dr and not swallow ‘RoundUp Poison Ivy’:
clip_image002
The purpose of the product influences that choice.
When it comes to the choosing which religion is the truth, it takes care in comparing that religion with reality, facts/truth. What is truth when you examine religion?
Have you found a better search engine on the www than Google? Why does Google seem to be the preferred product over, say, Bing or Yahoo?
Another analogy would be when something happens to the motor of your automobile. Do you choose to take it to a motor mechanic instead of a painter or cabinet maker? You can be narrow in your choices.
When it comes to dealing with the worldviews of any religion, I challenge you to examine which of those worldviews fits reality. See the difficulties with:

 

You face a major hurdle before you can even begin to investigate worldviews, religion and God. You start at the wrong end of your inquiry, by excluding certain evidence. When you start with a liberal bias, you will see liberal views in a much more favourable way and anti-liberal views negatively. This is not a beneficial way to examine evidence.

I hope you realise the self-defeating nature of your view with a ‘liberal bias’. You don’t like one-way religion but you have chosen that view yourself, i.e. religion with a liberal bias. That’s every bit as one-way as biblical Christianity. Do you realise how self-defeating your argument is?
May I suggest a better approach: Pursue the evidence, wherever it leads.

2. Evolution defeats Christianity[5]

I’ll pick up a few things from the early parts of his post.

2.1 Presupposition favours evolution

He wrote: ‘I walked away from Christianity as a child because of evolution’. Go to the science section of this forum to discuss this further if you want. However, to allow Charles Darwin & Co to determine HOW God created and continues to create is a view that has added to Scripture. It’s your presuppositional agenda. I don’t see the origin of species and adaptation (Darwinism) in Scripture, but I won’t discuss further.

See my articles:

2.2 Starting with allegorical interpretation.

Again, his reasoning is, ‘I’m not sure if dropping literalism means dropping conservativism (sic), because there have been people who’ve read Genesis as allegory since the religion first started up. That seems to be even more common in Judaism’.

You provide not one piece of documentation for this. It is your assertion. Therefore, it is a diversionary tactic. If you want to interpret Genesis as allegory, then start a thread and raise the issues. Do you want the first man and woman to be an allegory? Are you going to treat Noah and the flood as an allegory? How about Abraham? Is God’s promise to Abraham, ‘I will make of you a great nation’, an allegory that had no relationship to the nation of Israel?

Image result for clipart interpretation public domainHow do you read your local newspaper, whether hard copy or online? Do you read it literally or impose your allegory on it? Take this morning’s article from the Brisbane Times (29 January 2017), Donald Trump’s ‘Muslim ban’ executive order kicks in, passengers refused entry to US.[6]

The article began: ‘New York: President Donald Trump’s executive order closing the nation’s borders to refugees was put into immediate effect on Friday night (Saturday AEDT). Refugees who were in the air on the way to the United States when the order was signed were stopped and detained at airports’.?

What would stop you from making this an allegory where you force your own meaning onto it to make it say what you want? That’s what allegorical interpretation does. It imposes a meaning from outside of what the text states. It is far too easy for you to say, ‘there have been people who’ve read Genesis as allegory since the religion first started up. That seems to be even more common in Judaism. I didn’t know that this stuff could be read in layers when I was seven, but I certainly know it now’.
So you are already accepting the ‘layers’ of allegorical interpretation without investigating whether that is the case and the harmful consequences of what that does to any piece of literature, including the Bible.

For further explanations of the meaning of allegorical interpretation and the damage it does, see my other articles:

clip_image004 Is the Bible to be interpreted as literal or metaphorical?

clip_image004[1] What is literal interpretation?

clip_image004[2] What is the meaning of the literal interpretation of the Bible?

clip_image004[3] Isn’t it obvious what a literal interpretation of Scripture means?

clip_image004[4] The wedding at Cana led to divorce

See also:

clip_image006 The danger of allegorical Bible interpretation (Danny Coleman);

clip_image006[1] Sins of Interpretation #1: Allegorical method (Kruse Kronicle/Kenneth

Bailey);

clip_image006[2] Historical implications of allegorical interpretation (Thomas D Ice)

clip_image006[3] The Bible: How should we interpret it? (John Ankerberg interviews Norman Geisler)

2.3 Resurrection, the Bible and truth

He continued: ‘If I decide the Resurrection happened, I can then start working on the question of how much of the rest is true, but that seems a bit backwards as a starting point.’ But you have already told us about your ‘liberal bias’. How will you ever get to understand Jesus’ resurrection as an historical event without telling us which historical criteria you will be using to examine the evidence?

See my articles:

clip_image008 Can Jesus Christ’s resurrection be investigated as history?

clip_image008[1] Christ’s resurrection: Latter-day wishful thinking

clip_image008[2] The Resurrection of Jesus Christ: The Comeback to Beat Them All

clip_image008[3] Was Jesus’ Resurrection a Bodily Resurrection?

clip_image008[4] Junk you hear at Easter about Jesus’ resurrection

clip_image008[5] Can we prove and defend Jesus’ resurrection?

clip_image008[6] Easter and the end of death

 

2.4 Garden of Eden promotes misogyny[7]

You say, ‘Can you be conservative and read the Garden of Eden metaphorically? I find it a very powerful statement when viewed symbolically, but when taken literally, I think it’s blatantly misogynistic. My liberal bias very clearly lines up to the reality that Eve has been used as an excuse to justify the oppression of women throughout all of Judeo-Christian history’.

You can’t be a legitimate biblical interpreter and make the Scriptures mean what you want them to mean. When you impose a metaphorical hermeneutic on the Garden of Eden, you introduce your own story into the narrative. That’s called a red herring fallacy because it takes us away from what the narrative states. There is no indicator in the text of Gen 1-3 (ESV) that tells us the Garden of Eden narrative is an allegory. That’s your ‘liberal bias’ imposition.

You have nailed what drives your agenda: ‘I lean towards the liberal view that the Word of God was filtered through a patriarchal culture and picked up some of its bias’. Again, that’s imposition on the text. It’s eisegesis (putting your meaning into the text) instead of exegesis (getting the meaning out of the text). Unless you put your presuppositions up for examination and follow the evidence wherever it leads, you are going to have difficulty in pursuing this investigation. I see your foggy worldview of liberalism blinding you to the reality of what the text states.

When you pick and choose what you want to make allegory, you are the postmodern deconstructionist[8] who is deconstructing the text to your own worldview. I urge you to place your presuppositions on the altar of critical examination (I ask the same of all of us on this forum, including myself).

C. Further responses: Distorted reasoning

This person replied and I’ve incorporated his reply in my response.

It’s not a diversionary tactic to not provide evidence–I figured you’d already know what I was talking about, since I’ve been at this for a couple months now; you’ve been doing it for significantly longer! But if you want evidence, I know Clement of Alexandria and Origen interpreted things allegorically, and in Judaism, there’s the Remez approach to interpretation, which appears to be allegorical. There was also apparently a medieval rabbi called Saadia Gaon who said that a passage should not be interpreted literally if that made it contrary to the senses or reason. I am not making any of this up; it is quite ancient and literally biblical. We can go straight to Galatians 4:24, since apparently Paul himself interpreted things allegorically: “Now this is an allegory: these women are two covenants.” If Paul wasn’t orthodox, I have no idea what orthodoxy is, haha.[9]

1. Confusion of allegorical interpretation with allegory

You seem to confuse two things:[10] (1) Allegorical interpretation, and (2) A narrative that says something is described as an allegory.
Do you want me to interpret your above information allegorically, by which I make your statements say what I want them to say and not what you have intended them to mean? Let me try one example:

  • ‘It’s not a diversionary tactic to not provide evidence—I figured you’d already know what I was talking about, since I’ve been at this for a couple months now; you’ve been doing it for significantly longer!’
  • By this, Silmarien means that God’s lack of evidence (for Jesus) is merely God’s way of getting through to Silmarien that God has superior knowledge to Silmarien’s beginning inquiries into spiritual things.
  • If I invented allegorical interpretation of everything you wrote, you would have every right to call it baloney or bunkum. Why? Because allegorical interpretation is an illegitimate method of interpretation because it forces into a text what is not there.
  • When Paul states in Gal 4:24 that he was dealing with an allegory. That was a literal interpretation by Paul to confirm the existence of allegory.

2. Genesis and literalism

You wrote:

A critical examination of the Old Testament is very much the problem, though. God creates animals first and humans second in Genesis 1, but in Genesis 2, Adam is created before the animals. Cain conjures up a wife out of nowhere and then goes off and builds himself a city, even though there’s supposedly nobody to live in it yet. I’m sure there are ways to get around all the continuity issues, but for me, it kind of feels like trying to trap God within the pages of a book. Because my problem with literalism isn’t just liberal post-modernism; it’s also mysticism. The surface level of all things religious tends to leave me cold.[11]

To the contrary,[12] a careful examination of the OT is not a problem. Every one of the issues you raise here from Gen 1 and 2 has been successfully resolved. The differences in the order of creation are quite easily explained.

  • Gen 1 gives the order of events:
  • Chronological order
  • Outline
  • Creating animals

Then,

  • Gen 2 goes into more detail on the content about what was in ch. 1:
  • There is no contradiction, since ch 1 doesn’t affirm when God made the animals. Ch 2 gives:
  • Topical order
  • Details, and the
  • Naming of animals, not creating animals.

Therefore, Gen 1 and 2 provide a harmonious statement that gives a more complete picture of the events of creation (with help from Geisler & Howe 1992:35).

Determining the source of Cain’s wife is an old chestnut. It is easily solved. Your claim is that ‘Cain conjures up a wife out of nowhere’. Were there no women for Cain to marry as there were only Adam, Eve (Gen 4:1) and his dead brother Abel (Gen 5:4)?

Cain probably married his sister or niece because we are told that Adam ‘fathered other sons and daughters ‘ (Gen 5:4 HCSB). Adam lived 930 years (Gen 5:5 ESV) so he had stacks of time to have a pile of children. Was Cain committing incest if he married his sister/cousin? At the beginning of the human race there would have been no genetic imperfections. Genetic defects would have emerged following the Fall into sin. Since only a pair (Adam & Eve) began the human race, Cain had nobody else to marry except a close female relative.

You state that Cain ‘goes off and builds himself a city, even though there’s supposedly nobody to live in it yet’. It’s time that you read Genesis 5 more carefully. ‘Supposedly nobody to live in it’ is bunk, when you read the text.

You say, ‘My problem with literalism isn’t just liberal post-modernism; it’s also mysticism. The surface level of all things religious tends to leave me cold’. Your problems with this statement include:

3. Old Testament reliability

His denigration of Scripture continued:

Regarding historical evidence, I accept logical arguments that take the formula “if not P, then not Q. Q is true, therefore P is true.” Could be applied to the disciples’ transformation, as well as Paul’s conversion. There are plenty of facts that are debatable, but these two are not. I’m also intrigued by extra-biblical evidence in general–Constantine’s vision, Genesis 1 continuing to match up to the Big Bang Theory, but evidence for the Old Testament is probably a bit premature.[13]

Do you affirm the Law of Noncontradiction[14] that ‘A cannot be both A and non-A at the same time and in the same relationship’?
Evidence for the reliability of the OT is not premature. Your knowledge seems to have a gap here. Take a read of archaeologist, Egyptologist and historian, Dr Kenneth A Kitchen 2003. On the Reliability of the Old Testament. Grand Rapids, Michigan: William B. Eerdmans Publishing Company.

4. Belief and postmodern deconstruction

This isn’t really an investigation, though, since I actually do believe. Experimentation with prayer has been… pretty conclusive. A lot of it could be attributed to brain chemicals, but when a prayer of “Hey Jesus, if you’re real, can you please help me not be crazy over Calvinism?” results in immediately calming down… well, it can’t be the placebo effect when you don’t actually have faith. The problem is that I already have deconstructed everything–it’s too late to not be a postmodernist when you’ve already torn everything to pieces. I guess all I can do now is try to put it back together in a way that’s reasonably orthodox. I did just order Simply Christian, so hopefully that will help. C.S. Lewis offered some food for thought, but not really on a theological level.[15]

Image result for clipart postmodern deconstructionYou say you actually do believe.[16] What do you believe in? What is the nature of your belief? I’m reminded of a verse that James taught, ‘You believe that God is one; you do well. Even the demons believe—and shudder!’ (James 2:19 ESV).

Your claim is that you have deconstructed everything and it’s too late not to be a postmodernist. That fact is not true. What you have written in your post is not postmodern deconstruction. For the benefit of those who don’t understand that language, we should define ‘postmodern deconstruction’.

It means that words and sentences have no inherent meaning in themselves. People who read anything construct their own meaning, which is shaped by culture and life’s experiences. So the author’s intention in the writing is deconstructed, i.e. altered by the reader. The reader determines what the author means. Postmodern deconstruction turns an author’s meaning on its head. The reader determines the meaning.

Silmarien, in your post here, I didn’t read anything that told me I must read it as postmodern deconstruction. I observe how close postmodern deconstruction is to allegorical interpretation. Postmodern deconstruction tears the heart out of any document. You cannot apply for social security, secure a bank loan, or answer the rules of the road to get your driver’s license using postmodern deconstruction.

Therefore, it makes no sense to interpret the Bible, your writing on Christian Forums.net, or your local newspaper using postmodern deconstruction. It’s a great way for any reader to make a writing say anything he/she wants it to say. The fact remains that the true meaning of a text or spoken word is based on what the writer or speaker intended for it to mean. Anything else is an imposition on the text.

So, you do not engage in postmodern deconstruction of ‘everything’. You are selective in what you deconstruct. That’s your liberal bias coming into play and that bias needs to be exposed if you are going to read the Bible objectively and not impose your deconstructed message on it.

D. More examples of liberal bias intruding

All of us need to be aware of how our presuppositions can interfere with our interpretations of documents.

1. Presuppositions meet a brick wall of liberal bias

He wrote:

I would say that everyone has presuppositions when it comes to reading anything–biblical inerrancy is as much a presupposition as historical criticism, and an equally modern take. I can’t ignore things like Zoroastrianism’s influence on Judaism or Platonic elements in Christian theology, so my options are 1) abandon all religion as inherently manmade, or 2) accept that cultural influences don’t negate the truth value of a religion as a whole. I’m actually an existentialist with my reading of Scripture–Paul Tillich right now, a bit of Kierkegaard. But when it comes to actual evidence, I do start deconstructing things into meaninglessness. That part is a problem, but the existentialism is kind of necessary for me.[17]

I agree that all of us have presuppositions,[18] but the key to unpacking them is to compare those presuppositions with the evidence from reality.

  • What you’ve done in announcing biblical inerrancy as a presupposition and a modern take, it that this is a throw away line. Why? You provided not one example for us to examine. Norman Geisler’s edited book, Inerrancy (Zondervan 1979), presents biblical and historical evidence to counter your presupposition. Chapter 12 (by Robert Preus) of this book is, ‘The view of the Bible held by the church: The early church through Luther’, in which Irenaeus is cited from his writing, Against Heresies, ‘We should leave things of that nature to God who created us, being most properly assured that the Scriptures are indeed perfect, since they were spoken by the Word of God and His Spirit’ (Against Heresies 2.28.2). Therefore, you are incorrect to state that biblical inerrancy is a ‘modern take’ (‘Scriptures are indeed perfect’, Irenaeus). Irenaeus, bishop of Lyon, lived ca. 125-202. That is hardly a modern take in support of inerrancy – the Scriptures are perfect. Chapter 12 of Inerrancy provides other examples from the church fathers in support of inerrancy. Seems like you have a fair amount of research to do to come up with a correct understanding of what the early church fathers believed about the Bible’s perfection in the original documents.
  • Then you provide the unsupported statement of Zoroastrianism’s influence on Judaism and Platonic influence on Christian theology. That may be so, but you are yet to prove your case. Your assertions merely state your opinions. They don’t provide evidence.
  • Your support of Paul Tillich’s existentialism (I have his Systematic Theology) comes with the critiques of existentialism that don’t make it a worldview to live by. The review, ‘Tillich: An Impossible Struggle’, raises some insuperable difficulties with Tillich’s worldview.
  • Deconstructing into nothingness will lead you to nothingness.
  • Starting with existentialism as being ‘necessary for me’ is a brick wall approach to understanding any world view. You are stuck in a rut of experience that won’t allow you to pursue the evidence wherever it leads because … of your necessity for existentialism. Try existentialism if you are caught speeding and the policeman issues you with a fine. Existentialism is not a world view of reality that leads to payment of the fine.

2. Mysticism’s failures

This inquirer (or stirrer) wrote:

The view of the Gospel of John as a work of mysticism is ancient. It’s only a problem in that it puts me on a different page than most people here–mysticism is one of the major reasons I’m not an atheist. I don’t discount the claims because I think it’s mysticism; I actually take them more seriously. I’m very much on the mystical side, that’s a large part of why taking things at face value does nothing for me. As for Paul… suffice to say that I have no love for 1 Timothy. Apparently there are serious doubts as to its authorship, so that’s one less problem, but there’s still plenty of stuff I’m skeptical about, including his claim to authority when he was never there in the first place. Actually, if you know of any good material on him, I’d definitely appreciate it.[19]

You say,[20] ‘Now you’ve got presuppositions about my presuppositions!’ Not really! What I’ve been trying to do is uncover your presuppositions as your post at #17 is loaded with your presuppositions, some of which you mentioned, like your ‘liberal bias’, but there were more presuppositions that needed to be exposed to try to see how they fit the evidence.

I acknowledge that the Gospel of John has some different emphases to the Synoptics, but a mystical interpretation, I find, is an imposition on the text. You seem to be engaged in a begging the question logical fallacy. When you start with John’s Gospel as mysticism and conclude with mysticism, you have achieved nothing. It is fallacious reasoning that doesn’t deal with differences between John and the Synoptics.

There are dangers in mysticism. I recommend a read of ‘What is contemplative Spirituality and Why is it Dangerous?’ (John Caddock 1997).

You say ‘taking things at face value does nothing for me’. I wish you luck in trying that approach with buying groceries, abiding by the road rules, reading your local newspaper, or appearing in court to face the evidence?

Concerning the pastoral epistles, I recommend Gordon D Fee’s commentary, ‘New International Biblical Commentary: 1 and 2 Timothy, Titus (Peabody, Massachusetts: Hendrickson Publishers, 1988). A later edition gives details HERE. Fee has a considerable amount of exposition on the authenticity of the pastoral epistles. See his index on ‘authenticity’. R C H Lenski’s Introduction to the pastoral letters, in my view, more than adequately covers the authorship controversy. See Lenski (1961:473-484).

3. Christian existentialism

Now he launches into a brief statement in support of …

Christian existentialism. 😉 I’m all about faith as the ultimate act of courage. It’s what cured me of my atheism, so when I talk about leaps of faith, shutting off your brain is not remotely what I’m thinking of.

I mention that I’m pretty liberal so that people know what they’re dealing with. I don’t know where to start with conservative scholarship and definitely do want to take a look at the other side of the story. I know there’s a lot of bad blood between the groups, but please leave me out of it, haha. The infighting is part of what’s stressing me out.[21]

What is Christian existentialism?[22] Would you conclude that this is a reasonable summary of Christian existentialism? It may be defined as

a philosophy of its own that is not compatible with either secular existentialism, nor traditional Christianity. There is a wide variety of forms of existential religion with differing doctrinal beliefs. Kierkegaard and later Karl Barth are sited for attempting to make theology, particularly the Christian faith, compatible with existentialism.

Its premise is that a person must submit themselves totally to God without reasoning — that is, true absolute faith must be void of philosophy or intellect. Religious existentialism then states such things as:

  • A person is autonomous and is fully free to make choices and fully responsible for them
  • Rational grounds for theology and divine revelation do not exist
  • True faith transcends rationalism and God’s commandments
  • The true God is not the God of philosophers or of rationalism
  • The destruction of wars throughout human history proves there cannot be rational understanding of God or humanity
  • A Christian must personally resolve within self the content of faith from being a myth or mystery to being realty or truth before they will allow an understanding and acceptance of salvation
  • It is impossible to discover personal Being and faith through rational reasoning (All About Philosophy: Christian existentialism).

If faith is ‘the ultimate act of courage’ for you, I have to ask, ‘Faith in what? The god of Zoroastrianism; the Jesus who was not raised bodily from the grave; a liberal Jesus who loves people but excludes damnation?

Where to start with conservative scholarship is what I’ve stated: Follow the evidence wherever it leads. However, if you are going to impose your liberal bias, mysticism and existentialism onto the biblical text or an author’s views, you will invent your own god and jesus and won’t allow the conservative scholars to present their cases . You’ll come out with a godhead that looks like the very one with which you began.

For an examination of the conservative side of the resurrection of Jesus, I’d recommend:

(1) The debate between Gary Habermas (Christian) and Antony Flew (atheist who became deist). It’s available in: Gary R Habermas and Antony G N Flew 1987. Did Jesus Rise from the Dead? The Resurrection Debate. San Francisco: Harper & Row. In this book, there is a response to the debate by Wolfhart Pannenberg (pp. 125-135). Pannenberg is the European scholar on the resurrection that I mentioned previously to you.

(2) Norman L Geisler 1989. The Battle for the Resurrection. Nashville: Thomas Nelson Publishers.

(3) James L Snyder 1991: In Pursuit of God: The Life of A. W. Tozer. Camp Hill, Pennsylvania: Christian Publications.

Yes, there is considerable controversy between liberal and evangelical Protestants. I encourage you not to become involved in slinging matches but to examine the evidence, based on the claims themselves. This will require for both sides to: (a) Examine their presuppositions in the light of reality; (b) Do not impose one’s worldview on the text. (c) Refrain from the use of logical fallacies in challenging an opponent.

Speaking of logical fallacies, do you remember your statement: ‘His [Norman Geisler’s] endorsement of Donald Trump. clip_image009 In all seriousness, I disapprove immensely of the politicization of religion. He seems to mix the two a fair amount, and that makes me believe that I’m not his intended audience’ (Silmarien #29).

Here you have committed a genetic logical fallacy. Any Christian apologist worth his or her salt should be assessing politicians and their policies. You obviously don’t like Trump, but when you dump Geisler’s views because of his support for Trump, you have not engaged in debate of the issues that Geisler raised. Instead, you have wiped his views because of his assessment of Trump’s views. This is erroneous reasoning.

4. Presuppositions about presuppositions

Image result for clipart false teaching public domainHis ducking and weaving among challenges continued, this time with a red herring fallacy,

Now you’ve got presuppositions about my presuppositions! I’m comfortable with the idea of miracles, just disinclined to look at them as evidence when I think such claims would have ended up in the stories regardless of whether or not they happened. Just as I think that if prophecies were not fulfilled, the disciples would have started forcing prophecies to fit events (or events to fit prophecies) one way or the other. I don’t accept these things as evidence, but that doesn’t mean I don’t acknowledge the possibility that they’re true.[23]

You say,[24] ‘Now you’ve got presuppositions about my presuppositions!’ Not really! What I’ve been trying to do is uncover your presuppositions as your post at #17 is loaded with your presuppositions, some of which you mentioned, like your ‘liberal bias’, but there were more presuppositions that needed to be exposed to try to see how they fit the evidence.

I think you need to ask: ‘What is the truth about reality, especially concerning the person of Jesus Christ, his death, resurrection, and second coming?’ The answer to that question, along with, ‘What are the attributes of God?’ will unlock a gold mine that will take you into eternity, with the beloved or the lost.

‘What happens one second after your last breath?’ is a dynamite question for which you need answers.
Your posts do read to me like a version of Pascal’s Wager.

Without Christ changing your life, you will not be able to live up to the high moral standards of Christianity. It’s wishful thinking trying to make it on your own.

5. His struggles

In response to what I wrote above, he admitted his struggles. These are his conflicts within:[25]

  • The idea of eternity is terrifying (that’s a big one for him);
  • Annihilation doesn’t sound bad;
  • Damnation means everyone is in trouble;
  • You can’t magically not struggle with doubt;
  • Why would you take the Bible at face value?
  • ‘”Love the Lord your God with all your heart and with all your soul and with all your strength and with all your mind” seems to encompass at least a bit of mystical dabbling’.
  • The religious experience is in a different sphere to intellect.
  • You balk at Luke 16:31 (ESV), ‘He said to him, “If they do not hear Moses and the Prophets, neither will they be convinced if someone should rise from the dead”’.
  • · You stated: ‘I don’t have an agenda, but if you’ve spent your life rationalizing away everything, it’s hard to make yourself stop’. There’s a paradox in this statement. You really do have an agenda and that is to rationalise away ‘everything’.
  • ‘Not sure why I’d be worshipping Ahura Mazda [a god of Zoroastrianism], but the bodily Resurrection and the concept of damnation are not things that I reject as unbelievable’.

I replied to him this way:[26]

clip_image011 The idea of eternity is terrifying (that’s a big one for you). This is an example where you are kicking against the pricks – against God’s revelation to you eternally. This is what I’m talking about: ‘He has made everything beautiful in its time. He has also set eternity in the human heart; yet no one can fathom what God has done from beginning to end’ (Eccl. 3:11 NIV). You may not understand this revelation of eternity, but you need to recognize eternity is right there in your innermost being. I urge you not to resist the wooing of the Holy Spirit in revealing what is there already. An understanding of it is in everyone’s heart – eternity.

clip_image011[1] Annihilation doesn’t sound bad, he wrote. Of course zapping people out of existence at death sounds better than eternal torment in hell/Hades. However, what’s the truth? You’ll read about it in Scripture and not in your or my presuppositions.

clip_image011[2] Damnation means everyone is in trouble, according to his view. This is not so. Biblical facts determine that only unbelievers experience damnation. See: Matthew 25:46 NIV; John 3:36 ESV. I’m sticking with Scripture and not Silmarien’s or my presuppositions.

clip_image011[3] You can’t magically not struggle with doubt is what he stated. Agreed! Thomas doubted (John 20:24-29), but when evidence is provided to counter the doubt, doubt should subside to the point of being pacified or removed. I encouraged him to meditate on Psalm 77:11-15 (NRSV) to help him with his doubt?

clip_image011[4] Why would you take the Bible at face value? That’s because it’s a book of history and should be interpreted like any other historical book. Try taking the bombing of Pearl Harbor or Richard Nixon’s presidency at other than face value! For the same reason, we take Jesus’ death and resurrection at face value.

clip_image011[5] ‘”Love the Lord your God with all your heart and with all your soul and with all your strength and with all your mind” seems to encompass at least a bit of mystical dabbling’. I think you’ve missed the meaning. It means loving the Lord with your entire being. I hope you and I are more than mystical beings involved in mystical activities.

clip_image011[6] The religious experience is in a different sphere to intellect is your perspective. That’s one view. I suggest to you that Christianity involves communicating with your inner being with God and that includes the mind.

clip_image011[7] You balk at Luke 16:31 (ESV), ‘He said to him, “If they do not hear Moses and the Prophets, neither will they be convinced if someone should rise from the dead”’. That’s the human propensity to doubt the historical and supernatural in Christian experience.

clip_image011[8] You stated: ‘I don’t have an agenda, but if you’ve spent your life rationalizing away everything, it’s hard to make yourself stop’. There’s a paradox in that statement. You really do have an agenda and that is to rationalize away ‘everything’.

clip_image011[9] ‘Not sure why I’d be worshipping Ahura Mazda [a god of Zoroastrianism], but the bodily Resurrection and the concept of damnation are not things that I reject as unbelievable’. I found that statement confusing, that you are worshipping a god of Zoroastrianism but you are open to teaching on the bodily resurrection and damnation. Are you wanting to worship a God/god of syncretism?

I thanked him for engaging with me in this challenging discussion. I pray that the Lord will guide him into all truth.

‘But in fact, it is best for you that I go away, because if I don’t, the Advocate [Paraclete] won’t come. If I do go away, then I will send him to you. And when he comes, he will convict the world of its sin, and of God’s righteousness, and of the coming judgment’ (John 16:7-8 NLT).?

He seems to be a seeker but his filter of liberal bias is acting as a blockage.

clip_image012

(image courtesy Pinterest)

E. Conclusion

This person with a self-proclaimed liberal bias came onto an evangelical Christian forum with an agenda of a ‘couple of questions’. That’s shorthand for a number of questions that were filtered through his theological liberal worldview.

I have attempted to expose his presuppositions, many of which do not harmonise with reality and especially with a literal reading of the biblical text. He confused the use of allegorical interpretation with a literal hermeneutic stating that a section of Scripture is allegory. At least he admitted that liberal presuppositions can lead to a slippery slope, by which he meant that the liberal bias descends into something worse – he gave an example of nothingness as one alternative.

He is stuck in a rut, not able to understand or accept the historicity of the Gospels. His leap of faith takes him into mysticism and existentialism. He does not want to understand the Book of Genesis literally but pursues allegorical interpretation.

He did admit that he engages in postmodern deconstruction of ‘everything’, to which I responded that he did not state he wanted me to read his posts that way. Postmodern deconstruction falls flat with any document. He cannot apply for social security, secure a bank loan, or answer the rules of the road to get his driver’s license using postmodern deconstruction.

I agreed with him that his posts do look like a version of Pascal’s Wager.

One of the major problems with his liberal bias of a worldview is that it colours all of his investigation of life and the Bible. It is way too easy for him to commit a begging the question logical fallacy, by which he starts with a liberal bias in examining anything and concludes with a liberal bias. That gets him nowhere.

The final section on his struggles demonstrates the inconsistencies in his world view. His liberal presupposition overwhelm his ability to consider the claims of Scripture at face value.

F. Works consulted

Geisler, N & Howe, T 1992. When critics ask: A popular handbook on Bible difficulties. Grand Rapids, Michigan: Baker Books.

Lenski, R C H 1961. Commentary on the New Testament: The Interpretation of St. Paul’s Epistles to the Colossians, to the Thessalonians, to Timothy, to Titus, and to Philemon. Peabody, Massachusetts: Hendrickson Publishers (earlier published by Lutheran Book Concern 1937; The Wartburg Press 1946; Augsburg Publishing House 1961; Hendrickson Publishers, Inc edn 2001).

Kurish, N & Fernandez, M 2017. Donald Trump’s ‘Muslim ban’ executive order kicks in, passengers refused entry to US. Brisbane Times, 29 January 2017. Available at: http://www.brisbanetimes.com.au/world/refugees-detained-at-us-airports-as-donald-trumps-antimuslim-executive-order-comes-into-force-20170128-gu0p5o.html (Accessed 29 January 2017).

G.  Notes

[1] Christian Forums.net 2017. Questions for Christians (Q&A), Silmarien#8. Available at: http://christianforums.net/Fellowship/index.php?threads/couple-of-questions.68199/#post-1292985 (Accessed 21 January 2017).

[2] The following points are in ibid., OzSpen#17.

[3] Ibid., Silmarien#17.

[4] Ibid., OzSpen#24.

[5] This is my reply at ibid., OzSpen#52, #53.

[6] Kulish & Fernandez (2017).

[7] Misogyny means ‘dislike of, contempt for, or ingrained prejudice against women’ (Oxford dictionaries online 2017. s v misogyny).

[8] Deconstruction means ‘detailed examination of a text in order to show there is no fixed meaning but that it can be understood in a different way by each reader’ (Cambridge dictionary 2017. s v deconstruction).

[9] Christian Forums.net 2017. Silmarien#54.

[10] Ibid., OzSpen#59.

[11] Ibid., Silmarien#54.

[12] Ibid., OzSpen#59.

[13] Ibid., Silmarien#54.

[14] Ibid., OzSpen#59.

[15] Ibid., Silmarien#54.

[16] Ibid., OzSpen#59.

[17] Ibid., Silmarien#17.

[18] Ibid., OzSpen#63.

[19] Ibid., Silmarien#17.

[20] Ibid., OzSpen#71.

[21] Ibid., Silmarien#17.

[22] Ibid., OzSpen#72.

[23] Ibid., Silmarien#69.

[24] Ibid., OzSpen#70.

[25] Ibid., Silmarien#76.

[26] Ibid., OzSpen#87.

 

 

Copyright © 2017 Spencer D. Gear. This document last updated at Date: 21 February 2017.

God reveals Himself in nature to everyone

Tuesday, June 7th, 2016

(image courtesy partyrichard.com)

By Spencer D Gear PhD

 

How would you respond to these statements?

bug ‘There is no such person as an atheist’.[1]

 

bug ‘Most natural theology is metaphysical and the current theories of the day for Science do not really have an impact’[2]?

bug ‘Natural theology is anti-biblical as well as unbiblical’ (Morey 2010:396).

 

The importance of natural theology[3]

Scripture, which is revealed theology, focusses on God’s searching for human beings. According to Romans 1:18-32 (NLT), natural theology involves human beings searching for God through the display of Himself in the cosmos – nature.

How does one define natural theology? By it, I mean that attempts are made from evidence in nature that ‘there is a First Cause or unmoved Mover or cosmic Orderer, without reference to the characteristics attributed to God in Scripture’ (Oden 1987:134).

Since I live in a post-Christian culture, I use natural theology, whenever possible, to point people to the existence of God. Therefore, I do not agree with your statement that ‘most natural theology is metaphysical’.[4]

Most natural theology should be pointing to the revelation of God in nature through which all human beings know of his existence. If there is order and design in our world, we need to test the hypotheses: (1) Who is the one who creates order? (2) Who is the designer?

The argument for natural theology was summarised by Thomas Aquinas (1225-1274) in his Summa Theologica  (I Q2.3.1, p. 14):

a. The visible world is a cosmos, an orderly unity whose order is constant, uniform, complex, and intrinsic to the universe itself.

b. Such an order cannot be explained unless it is admitted that the universe has a cause that displays intelligence capable of bringing it into being.

c. Therefore, such a cause of the universe exists, which is to say, God exists as the intelligent cause of the universe (summarised in Oden 1987:143).

Part of the Aquinas’ argument was:

The existence of truth is self-evident. For whoever denies the existence of truth grants that truth does not exist: and, if truth does not exist, then the proposition “Truth does not exist” is true: and if there is anything true, there must be truth. But God is truth itself: I am the way, the truth, and the life (John xiv. 6). Therefore “God exists” is self-evident (Aquinas Summa Theologica 1.Q2.1.3).

Even though the Aquinas’ summary argument was made in the 13th century, it is just as relevant to a post-Christian Australia in 2016. I’m in the midst of preparing a submission to the Queensland government against decriminalising abortion at any time up to the time of birth, using natural theology and revealed theology to call on our politicians not to change the criminal code that already allows for abortion if the life of the mother is at risk.

Natural theology has especial benefit when in apologetic discussion about the existence of God. For example, the east coast of Australia (including my city of Brisbane) has experienced the unseasonal ‘Big Wet‘ of torrential rain and destructive winds over the weekend of 4-5 June 2016 (Branco 2016).

What an opportunity to use natural theology to point to God’s existence and his involvement in the cosmos. This is no metaphysical examination but a pointing to the evidence for God’s existence and interventions in nature.

However, Thomas Oden rightly shows that it may lead to confusion if we try to prove God’s existence from natural theology and then later state the specifics of what Christian teaching means by ‘God’. His approach is:

For so long as what one means by “God” remains wholly ambiguous, it is hardly an exercise of great meaning to prove God’s existence. It is less pivotal to biblical faith that an unmoved Mover exists than that the caring God of Abraham, Isaac, and Jesus lives indeed and acts as attested in Scripture (Oden 1987:134).

So, it is packed with more meaning to proceed from the nature of God revealed in Scripture and to state ‘candidly what Christians mean by the caring God and only then to ask whether that One is as characterized and whether that set of meanings is true to the facts we can gather’ (Oden 1987:134-135).

When we define God as ‘caring holy love’ (Oden’s language), as revealed in Scripture, and then turn to natural theology for evidence of this care, we are on more solid foundations to discuss the nature of God and his actions. My understanding is that the caring, holy, loving God deals with humanity with loving, perfect discipline, which is a discipline that flows from the perfect nature of the one true God who exists and is revealed in Scripture.

For further explanations of the nature of God, according to the Bible, see my articles:

Implications of natural theology

Natural theology, as Romans 1:18-32 (NLT) indicates, is designed to demonstrate:

cream-arrow-small The truth about God is obvious to all people (v. 18);

cream-arrow-small God has made the truth about himself known since the world was created (v. 19);

cream-arrow-small That truth about God is seen in the earth and sky, i.e. in everything God has made (v. 20);

cream-arrow-small All people can see God’s invisible qualities, his eternal power, and divine nature in what God has made (v. 21);

cream-arrow-small Therefore, all human beings have no excuse to say they do not know of the existence of God (v. 20);

cream-arrow-small People do not worship God because they choose to suppress the truth of God’s existence by their wickedness (v. 18);

cream-arrow-small Then they turn to their own foolish ideas about what God is like (v. 21);

cream-arrow-small They worship their own idols (v. 23), and

cream-arrow-small God abandons them to their shameful desires (v. 24) with their many ugly consequences.

If sinful human beings do not pursue the revelation of God in nature (natural theology), God hands them over to their natural, sinful desires with their many wicked consequences. These are described in Romans 1:26-32 (NLT) as including:

flamin-arrow-small  Both women and men abandoning heterosexual for homosexual relationships. This brought negative consequences.

flamin-arrow-small They committed other sin, including greed, hate, envy, murder, quarrelling, deception, malicious behaviour, gossip and were backstabbers;

flamin-arrow-small Thus, they are God haters who are insolent, proud and boastful;

flamin-arrow-small They invent ways of sinning, including being disobedient to parents;

flamin-arrow-small They refuse to understand, break promises, are heartless, and without mercy;

flamin-arrow-small Knowing God’s justice requires that they deserve to die, they continue to practise wickedness themselves and encourage others to join them.

Conclusion

Natural theology is designed by God himself to provide evidence of his existence in creation so that human beings will pursue him. When it comes to judgment day, all human beings will be ‘without excuse’ about whether they know of God’s existence (Rom 1:20 NIV).

Related imageHowever, natural theology does not lead to eternal salvation through Christ. That is obtained by responding in faith to the proclamation or sharing Gospel: ‘God saved you by his grace when you believed. And you can’t take credit for this; it is a gift from God. Salvation is not a reward for the good things we have done, so none of us can boast about it’ (Eph 2:8-9 NLT). How does that happen? ‘So faith comes from hearing, that is, hearing the Good News about Christ’ (Rom 10:17 NLT).

 

‘But God shows his anger from heaven against all sinful, wicked people who suppress the truth by their wickedness. They know the truth about God because he has made it obvious to them’ (Rom 1:18-19 NLT).

Works consulted

Branco, J 2016. Brisbane Weather: SES prepares for a day of cleaning up. Brisbane Times (online), June 5. Available at: http://www.brisbanetimes.com.au/queensland/brisbane-weather-ses-prepares-for-a-day-of-cleaning-up-20160604-gpbo64.html (Accessed 6 June 2016).

Morey, R 2010. The Bible, natural theology and natural law: Conflict or compromise? Maitland FL: Xulon Press.[5]

Oden, T C 1987. The living God: Systematic theology, vol 1. New York, NY: HarperSanFrancisco.

Notes


[1] This is adapted from Crossway, ‘Why there’s no such thing as an atheist’, November 02, 2015. Available at: https://www.crossway.org/blog/2015/11/why-theres-no-such-thing-as-an-atheist/ (Accessed 7 June 2016).

[2] Christianity Board 2016. ‘Natural Theology?’ 6 June. Administrator#167. Available at: http://www.christianityboard.com/topic/22653-natural-theology/page-6 (Accessed 6 June 2016).

[3] The following is my response in ibid., OzSpen#168.

[4] His reply, before closing the thread, was: ‘Very well stated….I stand corrected’ (ibid., Administrator#169).

[5] This Press is a publisher for self-publishing of Christian books.

 

Copyright © 2016 Spencer D. Gear. This document last updated at Date: 7 June 2016.

How to Cut Christ out of Christmas

Saturday, January 2nd, 2016

https://charlespaolino.files.wordpress.com/2009/12/manger.jpg?resize=492%2C369

(Nativity scene, courtesy Charles Paolino, public domain)

 By Spencer D Gear PhD

If you wanted to pollute Christmas and distort its true meaning, how would you do it? It has been done all around the world for centuries with the Santa Claus commercial phenomenon.

clip_image002

(courtesy www.marines.mil)

How did the legend of Santa Claus begin? According to history.com,

the legend of Santa Claus can be traced back hundreds of years to a monk named St. Nicholas. It is believed that Nicholas was born sometime around 280 A.D. in Patara, near Myra in modern-day Turkey. Much admired for his piety and kindness, St. Nicholas became the subject of many legends. It is said that he gave away all of his inherited wealth and traveled the countryside helping the poor and sick….

St. Nicholas made his first inroads into American popular culture towards the end of the 18th century. In December 1773, and again in 1774, a New York newspaper reported that groups of Dutch families had gathered to honor the anniversary of his death.

The name Santa Claus evolved from Nick’s Dutch nickname, Sinter Klaas, a shortened form of Sint Nikolaas (Dutch for Saint Nicholas) (www.history.com 2016. S v Santa Claus).

A.  A special Christmas attraction

Here is how a local business in northern Brisbane, Qld., Australia, took the Christ out of Christmas – for commercial reasons. This is one way that this shopping centre advertised the season and how to support its enterprise.[1] The event had been promoted by this shopping centre, MarketPlace, at Warner Qld, for a couple of months. It was advertising that on December 15, 2015, the ‘Car-istmas Giveaway closes on Friday at 5pm! Zoom zoom in for your remaining chances to enter’. It was giving away ‘a Mazda 3 Maxx’, supplied by a local Mazda dealer. It promoted, ‘Or 1 of 20, $100 MarketPlace Gift Cards. Simply spend $15 or more in any’ store there or $50 in Aldi or Woolworths. It advertised some ‘Car-istmas give away conditions of entry’.[2]

B. What had this business done with Christmas?

I was concerned with how the ‘Christ’ in Christmas had been replaced by ‘Car-ist’, so I wrote this email to the management of MarketPlace Warner on 17 November 2015, with the subject heading, ‘Your sacrilegious attack on Christ’:

Centre Management
MarketPlace Warner

Dear management members,

Since I live in North Lakes, I read your full-page advertisement in the North Lakes Times, November 12, 2015, p. 12. As a marketing ploy, the advertisement had the heading, ‘CAR-ISTMAS Giveaway’. I have now seen your link online at: http://www.marketplacewarner.com.au/car-ristmas-giveaway-second-draw/

I write to object strongly to the way you have desecrated the name of Christ for commercial purposes. You may have thought ‘CAR-ISTMAS’ was an attention-seeking headline, but I as a Christian am offended by what you have done to my Lord and Saviour, Jesus Christ. This is a special season of the year for the Christian community for the celebration of Christ’s birth, not for a marketing grab to eliminate Christ from the season, which is what your MarketPlace advertisement has done.

I urge you to quit this sacrilege immediately. If you tried that approach with Muhammad at the time of Ramadan, could you imagine the response?

I added this P.S.: Sacrilege is ‘an act of treating a holy thing or place without respect’ (Oxford dictionaries 2015. S v sacrilege). I also included my home phone number.

C. Response: ‘We are all Christians here’

The next morning (18 November 2015), I received a courteous phone call from a woman in the office of MarketPlace Warner, saying, ‘We are all Christians here’. Interesting that she included, ‘all’. I took this to mean ‘all in management’. I urged her to get the management to remove the emphasis of this advertising immediately. She did not respond to my gentle request. However, the advertising in the North Lakes Times continued the following week with ‘Car-istmas’ on 19 November 2015 (p. 8):

On 18 November after the phone call, I sent this email to MarketPlace Warner:

Dear management staff,

Thank you for the phone call I received this morning about my email from yesterday regarding the sacrilege of your use of CAR-ISTMAS Giveaway in promotion of MarketPlace.

However, my disappointment with the phone call is that no attempt was made to admit that you got it wrong and that CAR-ISTMAS takes the CHRIST out of CHRISTMAS and you will eliminate such a sacrilegious statement from your present advertising.

I commend MarketPlace for its nativity scene at a time when such are disappearing from shopping centres.

This is how MarketPlace Warner advertised on its homepage at Christmas 2015:[3]

clip_image004

Notice the emphasis. The ‘Merry Christmas’ greeting (online) is with Santa and not with the nativity scene. So much for ‘we are all Christians here’! If they were, Christ should have received a more prominent place.

The woman who phoned told me that MarketPlace Warner has a large nativity scene at the centre, which she said was more than I would find at most other centres. As a result of this conversation, I checked on what was displayed at my local Westfield Shopping Centre, North Lakes, and found a very small nativity scene (near the NAB Bank entrance to the mall), but there was no wording to say what it represented. Instead, Santa was large as life near the food court and he had children lined up with parents for the children to be photographed with Santa.

D. Newspaper letter’s censorship

I adapted the letter sent to MarketPlace Warner in a letter-to-the-editor, North Lakes Times. My letter, sent on 17 November 2015, with the heading, ‘Sacrilege at Christmas’, read:

I read the full-page advertisement for MarketPlace Warner, with the heading, ‘CAR-ISTMAS Giveaway’ (North Lakes Times, Nov 12, page 12).
I object strongly to the way MarketPlace has desecrated the name of Christ for commercial purposes. It may have thought ‘CAR-ISTMAS’ was an attention-seeking headline.
I as a Christian am offended by what this business has done to my Lord and Saviour, Jesus Christ. This is a special season of the year for the Christian community for the celebration of Christ’s birth, not for a marketing grab to eliminate Christ from the season.
I urge MarketPlace Warner to quit this sacrilege immediately. If it tried that approach with Muhammad at the time of Ramadan, could you imagine the response?

How do you think the North Lakes Times published this letter? Here is a Print Screen copy that appeared in the North Lakes Times, 26 Nov 2015, ‘Conversations’, p. 8, with the changed heading, ‘Reason for the season’:

clip_image006

1. The nature of the editing

Notice what the North Lakes Times did with my letter. It censored the last paragraph which read, ‘I urge MarketPlace Warner to quit this sacrilege immediately. If it tried that approach with Muhammad at the time of Ramadan, could you imagine the response?’

2. Is this an important issue?

Is this a trifling issue? Have I made a mountain out of a mole hill? I don’t think so, for this primary reason. Jesus told Christians:

“You are the salt of the earth. But if the salt loses its saltiness, how can it be made salty again? It is no longer good for anything, except to be thrown out and trampled underfoot.

14 “You are the light of the world. A town built on a hill cannot be hidden. 15 Neither do people light a lamp and put it under a bowl. Instead they put it on its stand, and it gives light to everyone in the house. 16 In the same way, let your light shine before others, that they may see your good deeds and glorify your Father in heaven (Matt 5:13-16 NIV).

a. Salt and light are indispensable

SaltIn the world of the first century and extending to the twenty-first century, salt has the qualities of a sharp taste and preservative power. It is this latter quality, ‘the potency of salt as an antiseptic, a substance that prevents and retards decay, upon which the emphasis falls here, though the subsidiary function of imparting flavor must obviously not be excluded (see Lev. 2:13; Job 6:6; Col 4:6)’. The negative function of salt is seen in how it combats deterioration. Christians should be in seen in action against moral and spiritual decay (Hendriksen 1973:282). Why would a woman in the office at a reasonable sized shopping centre own up to, ‘We are all Christians here’, if it were not for my challenge to that centre? As of 2 January 2016, there had not been one letter of opposition published by the newspaper to the content of my letter.

The qualities of light should be self evident in exposing the darkness. In Scripture, we see light associated with true knowledge of God (Ps 36:9, Sun Rays 4cf Matt 6:22-23), goodness, righteousness and truthfulness (Eph 5:8-9); joy, gladness, true happiness (Ps 97:11; Isa 9:1-7). From Eph 5:8 we know that Christians are ‘a light in the Lord’. Believers are reflections of Christ who is the true light (John 8:12; 9:5; 12:35-36, 46). Jesus’ words were, ‘I am the light of the world. Whoever follows me will not walk in darkness, but will have the light of life’ (John 8:12 ESV).[4]

I consider I was being salt and light in action in exposing the censorship of Christ at Christmas, all in the name of commercialism. This is engaging in the ministry of cultural apologetics. The Colson Center for Christian Worldview has stated that cultural apologetics involves the ‘working to transform the rhythms and practices of our culture – including the culture of our Christian communities – to reflect the beauty and desirability of Christ’ (‘Cultural Apologetics’).

E. Conclusion

What lengths will a significant sized business go to promote the commercialism of Christmas and take Christ out of Christmas?

MarketPlace Warner decided to attract customers to its shopping centre for Christmas 2015 by engaging with a local Mazda car dealership to put customers in the draw to win a motor vehicle if customers would make a certain amount of purchases. Of course, there was advertising chosen to promote this commercial venture that was designed to attract people to that shopping centre.

In doing this, MarketPlace Warner deliberately downgraded the Christ of Christmas to replace him with the Car of Christmas. This is sacrilegious marketing, in my view. In spite of the claim by an administrative staff member that ‘we are all Christians here’, I wouldn’t know that from the nature of the Christmas advertising in the full-page advertisements in the North Lakes Times (Nov 12, 2015, pp 12-14 and Nov 19, 2015, pp 8-9). There were half-page advertisements that I noticed on 10 Dec, 2015, p. 8 and 17 Dec, 2015, p. 2.

When I submitted a letter to the editor of the North Lakes Times, it was published, but the newspaper censored the portion when I compared it with what would happen if it did a similar thing to Muhammad at Ramadan.

The end result is that this message was nowhere to be found in the promotion of Christmas by MarketPlace Warner on its website or in the commercial (full page advertisements) in the North Lakes Times. This kind of proclamation was excluded, ‘I bring you good news that will bring great joy to all people. The Savior—yes, the Messiah, the Lord—has been born today in Bethlehem, the city of David!’ (Luke 2:10-11 NLT).

You may say, of course it would be eliminated because that is not a viable message to sell goods at Christmastime. That’s my very point. Christmas is not a time for commercialism but for declaring Messiah’s coming into the world, becoming flesh, and this led to the provision of salvation to come through his sacrificial death on the cross (Matt 26:28), available to those who put their faith in Jesus.

Works consulted

Hendriksen, W 1973. New Testament Commentary: Exposition of the Gospel According to Matthew. Grand Rapids, Michigan: Baker Academic.

Notes


[1] Facebook. Available at: https://www.facebook.com/marketplacewarner/posts/534421553374133?fref=nf (Accessed 1 January 2016).

[2] MarketPlace Warner 2015. Available at: http://www.marketplacewarner.com.au/file/2015/11/MPW-CARISTMAS-GIVEAWAY-2015-TERMS-CONDITIONS.pdf (Accessed 1 January 2016).

[3] Available at: http://www.marketplacewarner.com.au/merry-christmas-from-the-team-at-marketplace-warner/ (Accessed 1 January 2016).

[4] These Scriptures and emphases were supplied by Hendriksen (1973:284).

 

Copyright © 2016 Spencer D. Gear. This document last updated at Date: 2 January 2016.

Cakes, lesbians and Christianity

Thursday, July 9th, 2015

Image result for wedding cake public domain

(courtesy public domain)

By Spencer D Gear

This article has nothing to do with the constitutional rights of USA citizens but is to address whether the ‘Sweet Cakes’ case presents the only Christian response.

The battle over cakes for lesbian weddings

There has been a long running battle in Gresham, Oregon (with implications across the USA) over a cake shop that refused to make a wedding cake for a lesbian wedding. The couple who own ‘Sweet Cakes by Melissa’, Aaron & Melissa Klein, are Christians and cited their Christian convictions to support what they did in refusing to make thecake.

This is the outcome, as reported in The Oregonian, July 02, 2015:

The owners of a shuttered Gresham bakery must pay $135,000 in damages to a lesbian couple for refusing to make them a wedding cake, the state’s top labor official said Thursday.

State Labor Commissioner Brad Avakian ordered Aaron and Melissa Klein to pay the women for emotional and mental suffering that resulted from the denial of service. The Kleins had cited their Christian beliefs against same-sex marriage in refusing to make the cake.

Avakian’s ruling upheld a preliminary finding earlier this year that the Kleins, owners of Sweet Cakes by Melissa, had discriminated against the Portland couple on the basis of their sexual orientation.

The case ignited a long-running skirmish in the nation’s culture wars, pitting civil rights advocates against religious freedom proponents who argued business owners should have the right to refuse services for gay and lesbian weddings.

Avakian’s final order makes clear that serving potential customers equally trumps the Kleins’ religious beliefs. Under Oregon law, businesses cannot discriminate or refuse service based on sexual orientation, just as they cannot turn customers away because of race, sex, disability, age or religion, the Oregon Bureau of Labor and Industries said in a news release.

“This case is not about a wedding cake or a marriage,” Avakian wrote. “It is about a business’s refusal to serve someone because of their sexual orientation. Under Oregon law, that is illegal.

“Within Oregon’s public accommodations law is the basic principle of human decency that every person, regardless of their sexual orientation, has the freedom to fully participate in society. The ability to enter public places, to shop, to dine, to move about unfettered by bigotry” (Rede 2015).

This article, ‘Sweet Cakes owners respond to firestorm over wedding cake decision’ (Kopta 2013), indicated that the Klein’s business, ‘Sweet cakes by Melissa’, has closed its shop in Gresham OR and is operating from the couple’s house. The website indicates it is now called, ‘Sweet Cakes’.

Image result for wedding public domain

(public domain)

A different Christian approach

I am sympathetic to the stand that the Kleins have taken, based on the media evidence available to me. I think I understand why they did it (even though I’m an Aussie, my family and I have lived for 7 years in the USA and Canada). I take a different perspective to that of the Kleins of ‘Sweet Cakes’ in my response. Here is my thinking.

If I were running an automotive and industrial spare parts’ business and a lesbian couple came in and wanted parts for their motor vehicle, I would be faced with a normal sales pitch. I would sell them the parts. Before I sold them, I would not ask about their sexual relationship because helping with the fixing of the vehicle is not an endorsement of the homosexual relationship. To be honest, my asking about the sexuality of the relationship is irrelevant when selling car parts to them. I would not be checking if the car was being used for their lesbian wedding. Even if I knew that were the case, I would still sell them the spare parts because that would be a business decision that had nothing to do with sexual behaviour.

The cake shop, just like a florist business, that sells all kinds of items to all kinds of people for a wedding should not be dealing with the sexual relationship. The cake shop is selling cakes to whomever – all people in the community – including homosexuals, adulterers, promiscuous sex addicts, murderers, thieves, good living people, etc. The cake shop’s business is to sell cakes, without asking about their morality. That’s a non-issue when selling cakes, is my view.

Marrying them is another issue

When it comes to marrying the couple, we are in a different league as homosexual marriage is clearly endorsing homosexuality if the celebrant marries such people. It then does become a moral issue. As a marriage celebrant, I would refuse to marry them because of my being convinced from Scripture that homosexuality is wrong and I should not be sanctioning it through celebrating a homosexual marriage.

I see a difference between doing business with homosexuals – which all businesses should want to do – and advocating for homosexuality through a church minister or civil celebrant conducting a homosexual marriage.

Biblical reasons against homosexual marriage

Image result for wedding public domain

(public domain)

These are the biblical reasons against homosexuality that flow on to homosexual marriage:

blue-corrosion-arrow-small Take a read of Leviticus 18:22 (NLT): ‘Do not practice homosexuality, having sex with another man as with a woman. It is a detestable sin’. So the Old Testament law identifies the practice of homosexuality as committing a detestable sin. No genuine Christian should want to promote such a view.

blue-corrosion-arrow-small Romans 1:26-27 (NLT) puts homosexual actions into the category of shameful desires and those who practised them suffered the penalty before God that they deserved. They were the actions of men and women who burned with lustful desires: ‘That is why God abandoned them to their shameful desires. Even the women turned against the natural way to have sex and instead indulged in sex with each other. 27 And the men, instead of having normal sexual relations with women, burned with lust for each other. Men did shameful things with other men, and as a result of this sin, they suffered within themselves the penalty they deserved’.

blue-corrosion-arrow-small Where will these unrighteous sinners be with God at death? The sin of homosexuality is among a list of other sins. First Corinthians 6:9-10 (NLT) is very clear: ‘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’. Those who practice homosexuality and these other sins will not inherit God’s kingdom. By inference, they will go to the other kingdom – of darkness and of Satan.

So the Bible is crystal clear that those who have homosexual, lustful desires and who practise homosexual acts, practise detestable sin, have shameful desires, and will not inherit God’s kingdom. There does not have to be a statement in the Bible, ‘Thou shalt not practise homosexual marriage’, because Scripture is clear that homosexual desires and practice involve practising sin that, if not forgiven, prevent one from entering God’s kingdom. Thus, homosexual marriage is always against God’s will because it involves sinful thoughts and actions of homosexual sin.

There’s a further reason: God’s view of marriage

God’s view is in support of heterosexual relationships that lead to marriage. This is seen in the ‘one flesh’ heterosexual relationship that is stated in the Old and New Testaments:

designBlue-small Genesis 2:24 (NLT): ‘This explains why a man leaves his father and mother and is joined to his wife, and the two are united into one’. Thus, the one flesh relationship (probably referring to sexual intercourse) is between a man and his wife, i.e. between a man and a woman. Heterosexuality is God’s order and not homosexuality or bisexuality.

designBlue-small Jesus repeated the same teaching in Matthew 19:5 (NLT), ‘And he said, “This explains why a man leaves his father and mother and is joined to his wife, and the two are united into one”’.

designBlue-small The apostle Paul affirmed the same message in Ephesians 5:31 (NLT, ‘As the Scriptures say, “A man leaves his father and mother and is joined to his wife, and the two are united into one”’.

I recommend the article from the Got Questions? site, What is a Christian definition of when marriage begins?

See my articles:

Conclusion

Image result for wedding public domain

(public domain)

These are just some thoughts from a Christian who is in the process of growing in Christ and who does not endorse the Christian view taken by the ‘Sweet Cakes’ owners.

The view adopted here is that Christians in business sell to whoever wants to purchase their products. No business that seeks to make a profit from sales needs to ask questions such as: Are you an adulterer, paedophile, homosexual, prostitute or promiscuous sexual addict? That question does not relate to selling car parts, burgers, furniture or cakes.

However, it does become an issue when a marriage celebrant or Christian minister is required to perform weddings of homosexuals. That would be endorsing sinful homosexual behaviour (from a biblical perspective) and should not be promoted – as I, a Christian, understand the Christian view from Scripture and conscience. It would be a matter of conscience and Christian conviction at that point and I would refuse to conduct a marriage ceremony for homosexual marriage.

Works consulted

Kopta, C 2013. Sweet Cakes owners respond to firestorm over wedding cake decision. Investigators 2, KATU News, September 2. Available at: http://www.katu.com/news/investigators/Sweet-Cakes-responds-to–222094901.html (Accessed 9 July 2015).

Rede, G 2015. Sweet Cakes: State orders Oregon bakery owners to pay $135,000 for denying service to same-sex couple. The Oregonian (OregonLive), 02 July. Available at: http://www.oregonlive.com/business/index.ssf/2015/07/sweet_cakes_state_orders_orego.html#comments (Accessed 9 July 2015).

 

Copyright © 2015 Spencer D. Gear. This document last updated at Date: 21 November 2015.

Christian apologist DOES NOT like challenges to his views

Monday, November 17th, 2014

WashingtonNationalCathedralHighsmith15393v.jpg

Washington National Cathedral (image courtesy Wikipedia)

By Spencer D Gear

What should we do when men are not as active as they could be in Christian public causes? An eminent Australian Christian apologist took on this topic with some provocative language in his own blog. Is his kind of language the way to get more men off their butts to become involved in taking a public stand for Christ and Christian issues?

Why are there not enough activist Christian men?

This Christian apologist dealt with an important Christian issue in the Episcopalian National Cathedral in Washington DC that had Muslims conduct an Islamic prayer service in the Cathedral. These prayers would have been in Arabic with content unknown to English speakers present.[1] You can read more in, Woman proclaiming Christ ejected from Muslim prayers at National Cathedral. This report stated:

But someone threw a rotting cabbage on their lovely sofa, as DCist laments: “And because love, respect and understanding is [sic] too much of a concept for some people to understand, a person interrupted the service. Of course.” Still, the spectacle of a woman being forcibly ejected from what is ostensibly a Christian cathedral for proclaiming that Jesus Christ is Lord just before Muslim prayers are about to begin is at very least evidence that we live in strange times.[2]

This objection in the Cathedral was by ‘a brave Christian woman’ whose name is believed to be Christine. Of her, the apologist stated:

Well one brave Christian woman refused to just sit by and do nothing. She went in there and fearlessly proclaimed Christian truth. “Jesus Christ is our Lord and Saviour” she boldly proclaimed. And she was thrown out of this Christian church for daring to say this! Go Figure.[3]

What did the apologist have to say for the activist woman (and another female activist in a different situation)?

Fearless Christian women[4]

This is some of his language:

  • Why is it that ‘it is Christian women who lead the charge?’
  • ‘These fearless and totally committed Christian women’;
  • ‘Courageous women standing up and being counted’;
  • ‘Remember earlier this year the same thing happened in a church in Germany. Muslims were leading their demonic religious worship there, when a brave Christian woman, Heidi Mund stood up to proclaim Jesus Christ and his Lordship’;

But what about the men? Where were they?

Give non-activist Christian men a rev

What about those non-involved Christian men? This was his language in giving them a rev to hopefully get them involved:

  • ‘I am ashamed to be a Christian male to be honest’ (because of these non-activist men);
  • ‘All the pansy girly-men cower behind their [women’s] skirts’;
  • ‘We need some men with backbone – men with some Holy Ghost boldness to take back what the devil has stolen’;
  • ‘Enough of all these wimps for Jesus and spineless wonders’;
  • ‘Now more than ever we need real men – real Christian men – to stand, to fight, and to do valiantly for our God’;
  • ‘The absence of godly men who will fearlessly stand up for Jesus in crunch times. Why do we always seem to get Holy Ghost-empowered women fighting the good fight, while all these craven weenies just sit at home and watch Top Gear?’

Is that the way to motivate men for involvement or is that a way to get under their skin?

Gutless, spineless men

I had had enough of reading his assault on Christian men with so many inflammatory comments, so I sent this reply.[5]

Thank you for drawing this critical issue to our attention. We do have Aussie men who stand for Christ and against unjust causes. Who could be more of a hero than Graham Preston who has gone to jail for protesting outside abortion clinics in his endeavour to try to save the lives of unborn children? Here’s an interview with him: www.youtube.com/watch?v=Siot-HkRolk

Rev Hon Fred Nile MLC.JPG

Fred Nile, Member of the Legislative Council, New South Wales, Australia (photo courtesy Wikipedia)

Rev Fred Nile has taken more than his share of antagonism from the media and people in our society. The onslaught he received on Q&A from 4 antagonists (May 28, 2013) in a mass media forum was a horrible event to behold. He’s a brave, gutsy man who has stood up for the cause of Christ over many years in the public arena.

I do not find it helpful that this apologist damned men with this kind of language:

I for one have had a gutful of these cowardly, spineless wonders who profess to be Christians but do nothing for Jesus, say nothing for Jesus, and risk nothing for Jesus. They are cowards and fakes, and I want nothing to do with them. It is time for all true soldiers of Jesus Christ to arise and go to battle.[6]

That kind of hyperbolic put down could contain many errors. Who[7] are you to say that men who don’t speak up are ‘cowardly, spineless wonders’ who are ‘cowards and fakes’? That is engaging in the use of an ad hominem logical fallacy. The pejorative term, ‘dhimmis’, is not a good one to call men to active involvement. ‘Dhimmi was the name applied by the Arab-Muslim conquerors to indigenous non-Muslim populations who surrendered by a treaty (dhimma) to Muslim domination’.[8]

I, for one, have engaged in many Christian activist causes over many[9] years. I can no longer do it because of major health issues. You don’t know this kind of information.

There are a couple other factors:

(1) Not all people have your, Christine’s or Heidi’s gifts to be able to make coherent, public stands for Christian causes.

(2) What is the church of Jesus Christ here in Australia doing to equip its people in the apologetic tasks of dealing with the enemies we face in the media, high schools, universities, work places, and on the streets? ‘To equip the saints for the work of ministry’ (Eph 4:12) should get a lot more emphasis in our Aussie churches.

Norman Geisler has written about this desperate need in, ‘An Apologetic for Apologetics’.

This apologist’s defensive response

The apologist did not like the content of what I wrote. His response included these points:[10]

He didn’t buy my complaint, claiming he was ‘in good company with those who spoke truth boldly and strongly and without apology. As I just read today in Acts 13:9-11’:

“Then Saul, who was also called Paul, filled with the Holy Spirit, looked straight at Elymas and said, “You are a child of the devil and an enemy of everything that is right! You are full of all kinds of deceit and trickery. Will you never stop perverting the right ways of the Lord? Now the hand of the Lord is against you. You are going to be blind for a time, not even able to see the light of the sun.”

His claim was that these are ‘very strong words’ where ‘the prophets, Jesus, and the disciples were all unafraid to use the strongest of language as they rebuked error, cowardice and falsehood. As I keep telling my critics, if you don’t like what I write here, no one is forcing you to come here. And given that I have had plenty of other Christians give me a hearty amen on all this, I will keep doing what I am doing, and I will keep calling out the girlie men, whether some like it or not’.

  • As for the ‘dhimmi’ word, he claimed he was 100% accurate and was using a proper term. However, he is not using it in a proper way when he uses it to put down men.
  • He had one commendation for me: ‘You are right on the need of more apologetics’.

Censorship of my reply

(image courtesy, clker.com)

What do you think he would do with my reply to these points of rebuttal? This is the reply that I sent to Culture Watch to respond to Bill:

Your using Paul’s confrontation of the magician, Elymas (Acts 13:9-11), is not a parallel to the complaint I used about the language you used against ‘cowardly, spineless, wonders’ of men who do not engage in the public confrontation as you and others do.

My complaint was about the kind of language you used that could intimidate men. Paul was confronting the demonic.
I didn’t find your response welcoming of the need to possibly reconsider how you engage with motivation of Christian blokes. The use of ad hominem logical fallacies prevents logical discussion.

I sent that response at 6.01pm, Saturday, 15 November 2014. It had not been published by 1.36pm, Monday 17 November 2014.[11] Normally, the apologist publishes the responses within 30 minutes or at least within an hour or two. I now conclude that my view in this last response has been censored by Bill Muehlenberg.

Try mediocre letters to the editor

A fellow responded to my post with these comments:

  • We do need good men who are prepared to stand up, but Bill’s point is valid that women are more likely to do this.
  • Some men have good reasons for not being able to take a stand.
  • When Bill says he has had a gutful of ‘cowardly, spineless, wonders’ of Christian men who do not risk for Jesus, he is not referring to all blokes.
  • Implicitly, he is saying that there are too many like that. Graham Preston and Fred Nile are exceptions.
  • As to my stating that not all people are gifted to make coherent, public stands for Christian causes, he reminded me of Moses who told God the same thing. God used him in spite of his lack of vocal gifts.
  • What we need are people who speak up rather than people who speak well.
  • ‘A well-written, well-argued, letter to the editor of a newspaper will probably fail to impress anybody who is not already on side. But 100 mediocre letters will have a much bigger impression, simply because too many people these days go along with public opinion over rational argument’.
  • For a blog or newspaper column, a well-written article is important but in other contexts we need people to speak up. That’s what is needed.
  • He agreed with my point that the church needs to equip people for this kind of ministry.[12]

This is how I responded to this content.

Mediocre not good enough

I sent this reply online at 7.05am, 16 November 2014. As of 12.58pm, 17 November 2014 it had not been published online.[13]

Philip, how do we know the number of women vs men who stand up for Christian causes? Where is the evidence that more women do this than men? When we see valid research on this, then we will be able to make more objective assessments. To this point, I have not seen such research. Do you know where I can locate such?

You want to compare the ‘cowardly, spineless wonders’ of men with Moses and his inability to speak. I don’t find that to be an equal comparison. Moses was called to an extra-special job. You say, ‘What we need most is people who speak up, more than people who speak well’. That’s nice in theory, but if we want to gain and hold people’s attention, some competence and connection are needed.

You talk about ‘a well-written, well-argued, letter to the editor of a newspaper will probably fail to impress anybody who is not already on side. But 100 mediocre letters will have a much bigger impression’. I don’t have evidence to support that statement. But this I do know: The chances of getting mediocre letters published is very low. If you don’t believe me, try sending a mediocre letter to The Age, Sydney Morning Herald or even your local freebie. I know people have done that over and over and are still waiting for the letter to be published. As a Christian, I’m not of the view that we should accept mediocre standards.

Who are among the leading contemporary apologists?

Ravi Zacharias.jpg

Ravi Zacharias (image courtesy Wikipedia)

I have a considerable section in my library by contemporary Christian apologists. These include: Ravi Zacharias, William Lane Craig, Norman Geisler, Ron Brooks, Ron Rhodes, Lee Strobel, C. S. Lewis, John Warwick Montgomery, Josh McDowell, R C Sproul, John Gerstner, Arthur Lindsley, Gary Habermas, Paul Feinberg, Kelly James Clark, David K. Clark, Gordon Clark, Russ Bush, Winfried Corduan, J. P. Moreland, Peter Kreeft & Ronald K. Tacelli, Stephen Gaukroger, Edward John Carnell, John Blanchard, and Os Guinness.

JP Moreland.jpg

J. P. Moreland (photo courtesy Wikipedia)

All of these are male and they have been active in the public arena for many years. Only one female is among them on my bookshelf – Dorothy Sayers. The facts are that public and prominent apologists for the Christian faith around the world in recent decades and through the centuries have been male rather than female.

However, a legitimate argument could be that this was during the era when women were supposed to remain silent in the church and their public ministries (including apologetics) must be done with women only and not with a mixed group. Such an atmosphere did not prohibit Dorothy Sayers from becoming an eminent British writer and apologist for the faith.

I have become aware recently of the International Society for Women in Apologetics. The women apologists involved in this organisation are listed on the right hand side of the webpage and there are links to these women, including: Sarah Ankenman (The Valley Girl Apologist), Mary Jo Sharp (Confident Christianity), Judy Salisbury (Logos Presentations), and Nancy Pearcey (The Pearcey Report). Here is an interview with Mary Jo Sharp.

Christianity Today published an article in May 2012 by Jonalyn Fincher, ‘Where Are All the Women Apologists?’ She states that ‘Like women wrestlers, women apologists are curiosities’. I urge you to take a read of this brief article to gain a woman’s perspective on the need to be involved with apologetics. The article states,

In 2010, Sharp debated a Muslim woman in a Toronto mosque where both men and women were allowed to attend. This was a rare opportunity. Muslim women are often prohibited from dialogue with men outside their family or mosque. “Christian apologetics,” Sharp explained, “will need women skilled in Islamic apologetics to speak with Muslim women, to go where Christian men cannot.”

See why Christine Weick did what she did at the Washing Cathedral with her brief protest that had her ejected from the Cathedral. See, ‘Christian booted from National Cathedral speaks out’. Part of her protest, as stated in this article, was:

“Jesus Christ died on that cross. He is the reason we are to worship only Him. Jesus Christ is our Lord and Savior,” she said. “We have built …allowed you your mosques in this country. Why don’t you worship in your mosques and leave our churches alone? We are a country founded on Christian principles.”

Here is another clip of what she did. See HERE.

Conclusion

To say that more women than men are standing up for Christ in the public arena is yet to be proven to me. The apologetic task down through the centuries and especially in recent decades has been done primarily by men.

One of the issues this article addresses is: Consistency demands that an apologist (who defends the Christian faith against religious alternatives) needs to have his or her own views open to challenge and defence. That was not my experience over this last weekend with this Australian apologist.

Works consulted

Muehlenberg, B 2014. Away with spineless Christian men. Culture Watch (online), 15 November. Available at: http://billmuehlenberg.com/2014/11/15/away-with-you-spineless-christian-men/#comments (Accessed 15 November 2014).

Spencer R 2014. Woman proclaiming Christ ejected from Muslim prayers at National Cathedral. Jihad Watch (online), 14 November. Available at: http://www.jihadwatch.org/2014/11/woman-proclaiming-christ-ejected-from-muslim-prayers-at-national-cathedral (Accessed 16 November 2014).

Notes


[1] Bill Muehlenberg (2014).

[2] Robert Spencer (2014)

[3] Muehlenberg (2014).

[4] Muehlenberg (2014).

[5] Spencer Gear, 15 November 2014 5pm. In Muehlenberg (2014).

[6] Muehlenberg (2014).

[7] Originally I used the incorrect, ‘Why’.

[8] ‘Dhimmitude: The status of non-Muslim minorities under Islamic rule’ (online), available at: http://www.dhimmitude.org/ (Accessed 15 November 2014).

[9] I originally had a typo, ‘man’.

[10] Muehlenberg (2014) comment, 15 November 2014, 5pm.

[11] This has happened previously for me with Bill Muehlenberg when I’ve sent a response to his reply (generally a second reply that I’ve sent) and he has not published the second reply, which was a critique of his view. I find it disappointing that a prominent Australian Christian cultural apologist who challenges cultural antagonism towards the Christian faith, is not prepared to accept and then publish my challenges to his views on his website. I appreciate that ‘Culture Watch’ is his own website and he has the privilege of deciding who is published. However, openness to criticism is surely one of the important dimensions of any apologist’s work.

[12] Philip J Rayment, 16 November 2014 12am, in Muehlenberg (2014).

[13] See Muehlenberg (2014).

 

Copyright © 2014 Spencer D. Gear. This document last updated at Date: 1 May 2016.

What’s the good of Christianity? Atheistic shock!

Thursday, December 19th, 2013

clip_image002

(photo courtesy Wikipedia)

By Spencer D Gear

Could you imagine such a militant atheist as Richard Dawkins ever making a positive comment about Christianity? I was shocked, stunned, surprised and encouraged by a quote in the UK newspaper, The Times (2 April 2010), by Dawkins:

‘Richard Dawkins, author of The God Delusion, said in The Times: “There are no Christians, as far as I know, blowing up buildings. I am not aware of any Christian suicide bombers. I am not aware of any major Christian denomination that believes the penalty for apostasy is death. I have mixed feelings about the decline of Christianity, in so far as Christianity might be a bulwark against something worse”’.[1]

Imagine that! Christianity is a fortification and protection against something worse – Islam. And that from a leading opponent of Christianity – Richard Dawkins.

The day of miracles is not over!!

Richard W on Christian Fellowship Forum provided this response (#2) to me:

I wonder if other atheists are being critical of him and his nostalgia for European Christendom. After doing all he could to promote the demise of that Christendom he now seems rather wimpy in looking back on Christendom with almost a longing. Britain is not like it was a generation ago when he made a name for himself writing ‘The Selfish Gene’. It is now a nation where more Muslims worship on Friday than members of the state religion bother to show up on Sunday. His regret is somewhat natural, but I’m thinking it’s a late realization that the Christian faith he rails against is the best protector of civilization he could ever have hoped for.

This is the same Dawkins that wanted to arrest ‘that leering old villain in a frock‘, the pope, just weeks ago. Pope Benedict said that a nation that turns away from God entirely has nothing preventing it from treating people as disposable means to an end. The Dawkins was offended by that, seeing it as a reference to atheism. But now it looks like the Dawkins is coming to understand that comment in actuality as he contemplates Britain without a major Christian influence falling into jihad and terrorism and death for unbelievers in Islam. He’s finally seeing that Christendom actually gave him the space to dissent, and that space will disappear in a few years. Dawkins needs Christendom. No Christendom means no Dawkins, at least not a public dissenting Dawkins.

He can plot and rail against the pope and there is no fatwa against him for doing so. Why? Because Christians don’t do fatwas. No police will bring him to jail for blasphemy.  He can burn Bibles all day long as long as the environmentalists don’t complain. He will not be beaten. His house will not be burned. He can sleep in on Sunday morning. But he knows he dare not burn a Koran or criticize an Imam though. He knows his children, or his students if he has no children, will be forced into Islam or dhimmitude (sic) if they don’t escape Europe entirely first. He is an insulting boor that is just beginning to see his fate. May he continue to shake the sleep from his eyes. Or maybe we should just pray that the scales fall from his eyes.

I was never convinced by ‘The Selfish Gene’ and he has never appeared to me to be anything but a pseudoscientist with a penchant for getting himself recognised as someone important.

A Christian leader to whom I sent some of the above information responded:

For some time I have been thinking about many politicians and other society leaders in the West who are looking down on Christianity and trying to belittle the Christian Church. I was asking myself questions: “Don’t they see the value and the difference between what Christian faith is and does for people and the society and what Islam is about?”, “How can’t they see that Islam, which some of them give credence to, cannot be compared in value and benefit as Christianity?” So finally, it needs someone like Richard Dawkins, a militant atheist, to point this out to those who refuse to see.

Let us hope that many will wake up and face the truth. Richard Dawkins himself is not beyond the reach of God’s grace. Let us hope he will come to know Christ as his Lord and Saviour.

Thank you, brother, for your perceptive analysis of God’s ability to reach even the most depraved and resistant.

 

Vishal Magalwadi: What good is Christianity?

Magalwadi visited my home country of Australia in 2013 on the theme, ‘What good is Christianity?’ sponsored by Family Voice Australia. I heard Magalwadi when he visited Rothwell Qld. Steve Austin of 612 ABC Brisbane (radio) interviewed Magalwadi on the theme, ‘Is the Bible responsible for the success of some nations?’ (the audio interview is available at that link).

vishalbwVishal Magalwadi (from his official website: Revelation Movement).

Vishal Mangalwadi was born and raised in India, studied philosophy in secular universities and Hindu ashrams. Then after studying at the Christian community, Swiss L’Abri, ‘he returned to India to serve the rural poor through several creative projects. This frontline engagement with oppression and corruption sent him to jail, helped prevent the revival of widow-burning, and led to politically organizing peasants and lower-caste “untouchables”’ (Mangalwadi 2001:back cover).

That was it that changed his worldview to want to do something about the corruption in his Hindu society? That change did not come from his Hindu worldview. From where did it come? Here is his statement about ‘a vision of national resurrection’ in any country, but his application comes from the USA:

The Bible prepared colonial Americans for liberty because it taught the truth of God’s redemptive intervention in history. God liberated a bunch of Hebrew slaves and transformed them into a mighty nation. The Old Testament describes the struggle of twelve tribes to become one nation. Glorious reigns of David and Solomon were followed by political tyranny that inflamed latent tribalism and split the nation.

The Israelites’ rejection of God led to their apparent rejection by God. He punished their intellectual, moral, religious, and political corruption by destroying both nations – Israel and Judah. On August 14, 586 VC, God destroyed his own temple and Jerusalem, sending his chosen people into exile in Babylon. Many Jews thought that their sun had finally set. They saw no hope for their nation’s resurrection. The prophet Jeremiah lamented:

‘How lonely sits the city that was full of people! How like a widow has she become, she who was great among the nations! She who was a princess among the provinces has become a slave’ (Lamentations 1:1 ESV).

The tribes that lost their faith in their Scriptures also lost their hope and disappeared from the canvas of history. Those that kept their faith alive became the model for the present state of Israel. After destroying Jerusalem, Nebuchadnezzar took the prophet Ezekiel to Babylon as a captive. Ezekiel’s people were like the fish in our opening parable. They believed that their nation was dead and they were like dry bones with no future. Ezekiel, however, sought God and internalized the divine scroll [Ezekiel 2:9 – 3:3]. In a dramatic vision, God then asked Ezekiel:

‘“Son of man, can these bones live?”… Then he said to me, “Son of man, these bones are the whole house of Israel. Behold, they say, ‘Our bones are dried up, and our hope is lost; we are indeed cut off.’ 12 Therefore prophesy, and say to them, Thus says the Lord God: Behold, I will open your graves and raise you from your graves, O my people. And I will bring you into the land of Israel. 13 And you shall know that I am the Lord, when I open your graves, and raise you from your graves, O my people. 14 And I will put my Spirit within you, and you shall live, and I will place you in your own land. Then you shall know that I am the Lord; I have spoken, and I will do it, declares the Lord”’ [Ezek 27:3, 11-14].

The fulfilment of Ezekiel’s prophecy and Israel’s great awakening and began when the Persian emperor Cyrus conquered Babylon and came face to face with Daniel’s knowledge of God, nationalism, and obedience of faith[2]…. Against the king’s own feelings Daniel was thrown into the lion’s den. His miraculous deliverance resulted in the king issuing his revolutionary proclamation in 538 BC:

‘Thus says Cyrus king of Persia, ‘The Lord, the God of heaven, has given me all the kingdoms of the earth, and he has charged me to build him a house at Jerusalem, which is in Judah. Whoever is among you of all his people, may the Lord his God be with him. Let him go up’ [2 Chron 36:23].

This began the fulfilment of Isaiah’s prophecy:

‘Your sun will never set again, and your moon will wane no more; the Lord will be your everlasting light, and your days of sorrow will end. Then all your people will be righteous and they will possess the land for ever (Isaiah 60:20-21 NIV) (Magalwadi 2011:387-389).

What is the application to any culture? Magalwadi’s asks and then answers:

What happens to a culture that is clueless about what is true, good, and just? Pilate answered that question when he declared: ‘I have the power to crucify you or set you free.’ When we believe truth is unknowable, we rob it of any authority. What is left is brute power wielding arbitrary force. Whether a person or an ethnic minority is guilty or innocent becomes irrelevant. His or her right to life depends exclusively on the whims or whoever has power. Any nation that refuses to live under truth contemns itself to live under sinful man….

Rome’s collapse meant Europe lost its soul – the source of its civilizational authority – and descended into the ‘Dark Ages.’ The Bible was the power that revived Europe. Europeans became so enthralled with God’s Word that they rejected their sacred myths to hear God’s Word, study it, internalize it, speak it, and promote it to build the modern world. Will it relapse into a new dark age or humble itself before the Word of the Almighty God? (Magalwadi 2011:392, 401).

For an interview with Magalwadi, see: ‘Truth and Transformation’ (interview by Warwick Marsh).

9781595553225

(image courtesy of Thomas Nelson)

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

I’d recommend a read of Vishal Mangalwadi 2011, The book that made your world: How the Bible created the soul of Western civilization (Nashville: Thomas Nelson). Why? Here is a man who was born and bred in the East, brought up under Hinduism, and then converted to Christ. He knows the story from both sides of the fence. And he comes down in support of Christianity.

Your word is a lamp to my feet and a light to my path’ (Psalm 119:105 ESV).

Notes:


[1] This quote by Dawkins is also in Ruth Gledhill, London, ‘Christians losing faith amid abuse scandal’, The Australian, April 03, 2010. Available at: http://www.theaustralian.com.au/news/world/christians-losing-faith-amid-abuse-scandal/story-e6frg6so-1225849033470 (Accessed 19 December 2013).

[2] This is discussed in the Appendix, ‘The Bible: Is it a fax from heaven?’ (Mangalwadi 2011:390-403.
Copyright © 2013 Spencer D. Gear. This document last updated at Date: 14 August 2016.

clip_image006clip_image006[1]clip_image006[2]clip_image006[3]clip_image006[4]clip_image006[5]clip_image006[6]clip_image006[7]clip_image006[8]

The damage done by hoax email and misinformation on the Internet

Wednesday, July 31st, 2013

Image result for photos people smugglers boats public domain

(photo courtesy au.news.yahoo.com, public domain)

By Spencer D Gear

I was at a Bible study group on the morning of 31 July 2013 in an outer Brisbane suburb. There I received a scanned copy of a page that indicated that Centrelink benefits for an Australian aged pensioner and spouse were $16,068.00 annually compared with $56,680.00 annually for illegal immigrants/refugees living in Australia.

This is what was handed to the members of the group, not by the leader, but by a group member:

clip_image002[6]

(image courtesy theantibogan)

What are the facts?

This image was located on this webpage in the article, ‘Asylum seekers: “Robert Bretton” liar & fraud’, March 15 2012.[1] It was also located HERE (on 31 July 2013).

When I was provided with this handout, I found these figures to be questionable and I ‘smelt a rat’. It would be unjust of the Australian government to promote this kind of inequity. I found the information to be somewhat unusual so I searched online. I’ve tried to verify the figures that were given in the handout.  This is what I found:

Robert Bretton’s information shown to be a hoax

Vietnamese boat people (image courtesy Wikipedia)

1. ‘Hoax e-mails[2] (The Refugee Council of Australia, May 2012). This includes the hoax of the Centrelink benefits that were allegedly higher for refugees than for aged pensioners.

2. Refugees and asylum seekers receive higher social security payments than Australian aged pensioners (The Refugee Council of Australia, February 2011).[3] This article states:

“Refugees and asylum seekers receive higher social security payments than Australian aged pensioners.”

A refugee who has permanent residency in Australia receives exactly the same social security benefits as any Australian resident in the same circumstances. Refugees apply for social security through Centrelink like everyone else and are assessed for the different payment options in the same way as everyone else. There are no separate Centrelink allowances that one can receive simply by virtue of being a refugee.

Centrelink payments are calculated at exactly the same rate for both refugees and non-refugees. A single person with no dependent children applying for Special Benefit or the Newstart Allowance (whether or not he or she is a refugee) will receive $469.70 per fortnight, whereas a single person on an Age Pension payment will receive a fortnightly payment of $658.40. A single age pensioner therefore receives over $180.00 more per fortnight more than a single refugee (or a single Australian citizen or permanent resident) who qualifies for Special Benefit or Newstart. Australian citizens and permanent residents with dependent children on lower to middle incomes (including refugees) may also be eligible to receive Family Tax Benefits or Parenting Payments. However, none of these allowances are paid at a higher rate than the single age pension.

Asylum seekers are not entitled to the same forms of financial support as citizens or permanent residents. The Asylum Seeker Assistance (ASA) Scheme provides assistance to some eligible asylum seekers who are in the process of having their refugee status determined. The ASA Scheme offers income support to cover basic living expenses, at a rate below Centrelink benefits.

Please note that the figures on Centrelink payment rates quoted above are current as at February 2011 and are subject to change. For the latest payment rates, visit www.centrelink.gov.au

3.    A House of Representatives Committee statement, dated 28 September 2012, ‘Australian Government assistance to refugees: fact v fiction‘.[4] This indicates that the information that was provided to the study group was a hoax and it is in emails that are circulating around the country/world.

4.    The Refugee Council of Australia on March 9 2010 stated that these figures about the discrepancies between benefits for aged persons and refugees were false. See, ‘Response to outlandish claims about benefits to refugees: update‘.[5]

5. The Australian Red Cross issued a ‘Fact sheet Migration Support Programs: Asylum Seeker Assistance Scheme’, part of which stated:

Australian Red Cross : The Power Of Humanity

Australian Red Cross

Our case workers can assist you in accessing financial assistance to cover:

• basic living expenses (89% of Centrelink special benefits)

• general healthcare

• protection visa health and character checks.[6]

6. Parliament of Australia, 13 February 2013, corrected this benefit misinformation in, ‘Asylum seekers and refugees. What are the facts?’[7] It states:

In recent years, a series of emails have been widely circulated throughout Australia claiming to describe higher social security entitlements for refugees, compared with those of other Australian residents. A common claim in these emails is that refugees in Australia receive higher social security benefits than age pensioners.

There is no truth to claims that refugees are entitled to higher benefits than other social security recipients. Refugees have the same entitlements as all other permanent residents—they do not receive special refugee payments or special rates of payment.

7. In a letter-to-the-editor to the Fraser Coast Chronicle (published 17 June, 2010), sent by Sandi Logan, National Communications Manager, Department of Immigration and Citizenship by the Australian Government, ‘Asylum seekers don’t receive Centrelink benefits‘, it was stated:[8]

The figure mentioned in the letter of a $50,000 benefit paid by Centrelink to asylum seekers is completely incorrect. Asylum seekers, while in detention undergoing the processing of their claims, are not entitled to Centrelink social security benefits.

Until such time as an asylum seeker is determined to be a refugee, as defined by the United Nation High Commissioner for Refugees (UNHCR), or returned home, the Department of Immigration and Citizenship (DIAC) is solely responsible for the care of detainees.

If an asylum seeker is ultimately found to be a refugee and granted a visa, they then become a permanent resident and have access to exactly the same entitlements as any other resident or citizen of Australia: no more, no less.

Another questionable email sent by Christians

On 10 August 2013, I received an email titled, ‘She was a Christian’ that began with these words and these font colours:

WARNING:  THE PHOTO BELOW IS QUITE GRAPHIC….BUT VERY TRUE!  IF YOU THINK YOU WON’T BE ABLE TO STAND LOOKING AT IT THEN PLEASE DELETE THIS EMAIL.

What’s wrong with the Muslim world ???

HORRIBLE !!!!

SHE WAS ATTACKED – RAPED BY ABOUT 20 MUSLIMS AND AFTERWARDS MURDERED IN SYRIA.

WHAT WAS HER CRIME? “SHE WAS A CHRISTIAN”

MAY OUR DEAR LORD TAKE HER IN HIS ARMS……    AMEN!

Then followed what looks like Arabic writing and two photos, one of a beautiful teenage girl and beside her a photo of a murdered teen with the base of a cross shoved into her mouth and blood gushing forth (it’s too graphic for me to include on this page). The first thought that came to my mind was: Is this an accurate depiction from a credible source? Or is this another example of credulous Christians who pass on information without checking. So I went on a search, thanks to Google and some sites that check Internet hoaxes. This is what I found:

There are a number of reports in news items online of a 15-year-old Christian teenager in Syria who experienced multiple rapes from Muslim men. See:

cubed-redmatteSyria: 15-Year-Old Christian Girl Systematically Raped By Islamist …

cubed-redmatteMost victimized in Syria? Young Christian women – WND

cubed-redmatteList of Islamic Terror Attacks on Christians – TheReligionofPeace.com

cubed-redmatteTeenager in Syria raped & killed by 15 Islamist rebels

cubed-redmatteRumors confirmed: Christian women being raped in Aleppo …

cubed-redmatteMembers of ‘Free Syrian Army’ raped, killed girl in Syria, UN official …

cubed-redmatteSyria: 15-Year-Old Christian Girl Systematically Raped By Islamist …

cubed-redmatteChristian Girl Raped by 15 Islamists in Syria by the Side …

However, from where did this gory, bloody photo of a teenager with a cross being forced down the woman’s throat originate? I had doubts that this was genuine in referring to an actual Christian woman, so I sent an inquiry online to www.snopes.com to ask them to investigate if this is a hoax.

I did find this statement in a news item, ‘Support Remy Couture and You Support Violence Against Women‘. Part of it stated:

Quebec filmmaker, Remy Couture, was charged in 2009 under the Criminal Code obscenity law over material posted to his website, and went to trial in Montreal in December 2012. The material in question includes hundreds of photos and a pair of videos that depict gruesome murders, torture, simulated rape, extreme violence and necrophilia, all with young female victims. The sets viewed in court included titles like “Hook”, a series of photos depicting a woman being tortured with hooks by a masked man. Another picture set titled “Burn” involves a woman’s burned body being assaulted and mutilated.

The films, titled Inner Depravity I and II, feature Courture in the role of a serial killer who hacks off limbs and performs sex acts on his victims. Couture says the films are meant to depict the life of a serial killer, assisted by a 10-year-old boy, whose tendencies lead him to also have sex with his dead female victims. One sequence shows a woman bleeding after a crucifix was shoved down her throat. Another graphic scene shows a character carving out a victim’s organs (emphasis added).

The pictures that were supplied to be by email of this young woman and a cross being forced down a throat come from twicsy, the Twitter Pics Engine. I urged the person who sent the email not to pass these things on until they are verified as genuine. They may be genuine, but in a quick look on the www this morning, I cannot verify them as genuine from a woman who has been raped by Muslims in Syria, murdered, and then a cross shoved down her throat.

I came across this item from 20 March 2011,

**GRAPHIC** Body of Young Christian Woman, and Indonesian Jihadi Brutally Murdering Christians **GRAPHIC** with other graphic images, but I don’t know if these are genuine. They could be, but I don’t know. However, a comment on this website confirmed that that picture of the woman with a cross down her throat is from the film ‘Inner Depravity’.

However, what about the other pictures at the bottom of the article? Are they also from a film and are fake? I don’t know how to confirm the authenticity. However, some of the pictures from the bottom of this article are labelled as ghostpics. I investigated to find the nature of ghostpics and found this article to confirm how ghostpics may be genuine pictures but they have been known to manipulate pictures electronically. See, ‘Best Ghost Pictures Ever Taken‘.

This picture of the cross down the throat is also found in Encyclopedia Dramatica, which seems to suggest that this is not a genuine photo.

I urge Christians and others not to forward these kinds of email until their content can be verified.

It is critical to check the facts before circulating

This information indicates that the figures provided in the handout this morning are from hoax emails that have been circulating. Would you please do all you can to put an end to this kind of email that misrepresents the situation should you come across these incorrect figures?

There are too many people who are falling victim to circulating Internet and email hoaxes about various subjects. Many of them can be checked out at various sites on the Internet that investigate possible hoax emails and Internet information. These are the ones I use regularly:

check Snopes.com;

check Urban Legends;

check Hoax-Slayer; and

check TruthorFiction.com.

Notes:


[1] Available at: http://theantibogan.wordpress.com/2012/03/15/asylum-seekers-robert-bretton-liar-and-fraud/ (Accessed 31 July 2013).

[2] Refugee Council of Australia, available at: http://www.refugeecouncil.org.au/f/myth-email.php (Accessed 31 July 2013).

[3] Refugee Council of Australia, available at: https://www.refugeecouncil.org.au/f/myth-long.php#centrelink (Accessed 31 July 2013).

[4] Parliament of Australia, available at: http://www.aph.gov.au/About_Parliament/Parliamentary_Departments/Parliamentary_Library/pubs/BN/2012-2013/AustGovAssistRefugees (Accessed 31 July 2013).

[5] Available at: http://www.refugeecouncil.org.au/docs/releases/2010/100309%20Updated%20Response%20to%20email%20on%20Centrelink%20benefits.pdf (Accessed 31 July 2013).

[6] Available at: http://www.redcross.org.au/files/20120203_ASAS_Fact_Sheet_.pdf (Accessed 31 July 2013).

[7] Available at: http://www.aph.gov.au/About_Parliament/Parliamentary_Departments/Parliamentary_Library/pubs/BN/2012-2013/AsylumFacts#_Toc348096472 (Accessed 31 July 2013).

[8] This online version of the letter is dated as 22 July 2010, available at: http://www.immi.gov.au/media/letters/letters10/le100722.htm (Accessed 31 July 2013).

 

Copyright © 2013 Spencer D. Gear. This document last updated at Date: 1 May 2016.

Nudist beaches not smart idea for the Smart State

Tuesday, November 1st, 2011

Welcome to Queensland – 

the Smart State!

Courtesy Wikipedia

By Spencer D Gear

Surely there are beaches beyond measure in Australia for nudists! We should be able to find hundreds of secluded beaches around the country that would be ideal for nudists to use. We have thousands of kilometres of glorious coastline — 25,760 km to be exact. [2]

Why would anybody object to giving people the freedom they seek to engage in beach nudity? One nudist told ABC radio, “The ‘facts’ as put by the opponents of nude beaches are nearly always erroneous or based on religious teachings and leanings”. [3] Let’s check the facts to find if there are good reasons why nudist beaches do not serve the best interests of most Australians and why they are not a smart idea for the Smart State.

1.    Children at risk at nudist beaches

On 15th February 1975, Maslin Beach, 40km from Adelaide’s CBD, became Australia’s first legal nudist beach.[4] In 2004, a 36-year-old male paedophile abducted three boys, aged 8, 9 and 10 at an Adelaide park, and took them for a naked swim at Maslin Beach. The boys were not found until the next day. The paedophile “pleaded guilty to abducting the boys and was found guilty of causing them to expose their bodies for his prurient interest” and was jailed for three years. [5]

One nudist went public in Qld., stating that “legal nude beaches have been a part of life in several Australian states and territories for many years without any problems.” [6] The Maslin Beach conviction refutes that stance. We will discover many other problems worldwide associated with nudist beaches.

2. Negative effects on local residents

A friend who lives at Coonarr Beach near Bundaberg (Qld., Australia) told me that she was walking alone on the beach in December 2005. Apparently a nude man had been sitting among the fallen trees near the beach and she hadn’t seen him when she walked one way along the beach. After she had walked past him, he apparently entered the ocean. On her return, he waited until she was almost to where he was, walked out of the water towards her, and was so close he could have touched her.

She was so frightened by this encounter as she couldn’t see another person anywhere on the beach. She has now discovered that he visits there frequently.

On another day, while walking with her husband on the beach, a nudist walked within 10 metres of them. She said that the man regularly walks nude on the beach, has shorts in hand and puts them on just to walk past the residences.

Recently a nudist couple was on the beach, only metres away from other beach-goers who were clad in swimwear. She said that the police were called but did not arrive for 1.5 hours.

A few weeks earlier another resident observed a nude man walking through the car park to the toilets. When confronted he replied, “But this is a nudist beach.” Nudist beaches are illegal in Qld.

Almost every day, this woman reports that there is a nudist visiting the beach. Most of them are men and she does not feel safe walking the beach near her house.

3. Clothing optional beaches are not family-friendly

The local councils prepared for the publicity when perverts are attracted to such beaches and their actions attract mass media attention? Why can’t all Qld. beaches be kept family-friendly with a reputation for the modesty they promote rather than the trendy idea of nudist beaches? Do councils want these kinds of headlines?

  • Dogging takes place on our nudist beach;
  • Indecent sexual behaviour on sand dunes at our nudist beach;
  • Cruising for sex with nudists;
  • Nudists want more – a beach for open-air sex!

Six nudists in the summer of 2005 were “fined in a crackdown on illegal naturism at a Merseyside [UK] beauty spot visited by families.” Nudists were arrested in sand dunes at Ainsdale, Mersyside and were fined £80 each “for public order offences.”

A spokesman for Mersyside police said that “after we received a number of complaints from both visitors and residents in the area, we decided to launch an operation to stop this type of behaviour. This type of activity is not acceptable to the many families with young children who like to go out and enjoy the sand dunes on a sunny afternoon.” A local councillor said that “naked sunbathers had been a problem in the past, but recently the dunes have been a haunt for ‘couples behaving inappropriately.’ This time it became even worse.” [7]

4. Nude beaches are not good for a tourist reputation

Is this the type of headline that a local Council wants to promote its region, “Sex in open air scandal”? The respectable seaside town of Budleigh Salterton, Devon, UK, has had its reputation tarnished by its nudist beach appearing on a pornographic website where it was promoted as a “dogging” site, “a hot spot where people go to have sex in the open.” “Dogging” is a colloquial term to describe an activity where couples and strangers meet to view others’ sexual activities. “The website claims the town’s beach is an ideal place to meet ‘exhibitionists and gays’ and also attracts couples who are willing to join others in sexual activities.” [8]

“Dogging” is not an isolated example of what happens at nudist beaches. It is reported at Brittas Bay, Ireland. [9]
Naturists in the Florida Keys are pushing for a legal clothing-optional beach in their region. Part of their argument is, “Like it is with Haulover [Miami, FL], the local chapter plans to have beach patrols or ‘beach buddies’ who would maintain a wholesome family atmosphere on the beach. ‘Everybody knows it’s about family, not about sex,’ he said of the group’s nudity.” They claim that they “lose quite a bit of European tourist business. They call, find out there is not nude sunbathing in the Keys, and they go to Haulover.” [10]

This is a feeble excuse to promote nudism as there are nudist beaches around the world, including Europe, that are experiencing dogging, voyeurism and exhibitionism.

5. Nudists promote breaking the law

A visit to the Free Beaches of Australia Inc. website [11] reveals how this organisation promotes legal and “unofficial” (i.e. illegal) nudist beaches across Australia. The website gives descriptions on how to reach the beach locations. These nudists are encouraging the breaking of the law.

The Brisbane Courier-Mail reported that “Bargara (near Bundaberg) nudist and Free Beach Australia spokeswoman, Patsy Brown, said Coonarr [Beach] had been used as a de facto nude beach for more than 10 years now with no problems and no arrests.” [12] However, nudist beaches are illegal in Queensland.

6. Nude beaches create problems we do not need

There are reports around the world of the deleterious consequences associated with nudist beaches.

a.    In Oslo, Norway, nudists at an “open beach” at Huk “are being increasingly harassed by photographers, flashers and vulgar requests and police have had to respond several times” in the summer of 2005. “I don’t go to Huk any more,” said a 52-year-old woman who wanted to remain anonymous. She called the police “after feeling threatened by a man on the beach.” [13]

b. Nudists want more than just beaches for swimming and sun baking. A beach for public sex is now wanted: “The Dutch Naturists Federation (NFN) has called on the government to set aside certain beaches for people who like to have sex in public. Naturists feel that displays of public sex do not belong on regular nudist beaches, a spokesperson for the NFN said in a radio interview. Public sex involving couples and orgies in the open air are also said to [be] a growing phenomenon.” [14]

7. Police don’t need the extra work

I commend the superb work of the police force in Qld. Police have their hands full in dealing with illegal activities. They don’t need the additional pressure of pursuing nudist crimes.

BBC News reported: “Police strip to halt nudist crime” Why? “To try to help catch prowlers who are demanding sex from bathers on a nudist beach” at Studland Beach, Dorset. However, police chiefs said that the “undercover constables may wear swimming costumes or trunks and will not be naked” to try to deal with “the activities of several predatory males and concern from nudists that they were being approached.” [15]

A New Zealand nudist beach has caused extra work for police who “will begin patrolling a popular Bay of Plenty nudist beach after complaints about the behaviour of gay men in the sand dunes” where a man has been charged “with committing an indecent act in a public place after police visited Papamoa Beach.” [16]

8. Nudity is for private, not public, expression

It is common to hear nudists blast religious people for opposing public nudity, as one nudist did on ABC radio, “The ‘facts’ as put by the opponents of nude beaches are nearly always erroneous or based on religious teachings and leanings.” [17] As this document shows, reasoned arguments against nudism can be made without any reference to religious literature.

However, it’s important to note that the human body is not condemned or ignored in the Bible. The body has dignity as it is called “God’s temple” [18] for the Christian. This implies something special about the view of sex and the human form. The Bible is not prudish (read Song of Solomon), but the biblical emphasis is on modesty and decency, thus eliminating any indiscriminate display of public nudity.

Public nakedness should be a source of shame and embarrassment. Perhaps the resurgence and promotion of public nudity says more about our degenerate morality than its attempt to promote freedom.

Nudity is meant for private and not public display.

9. The Qld. Premier says that nude beaches are not wanted by the public

In a letter to a Coonarr Beach resident, dated 11th November 2005, the Chief of Staff of the Queensland Premier, Peter Beattie, wrote:

“The Premier does not support nude bathing. While the Premier is aware that there are some members of the community who would like to see the Government legalise the practice of nude bathing, he does not believe that the majority of Queenslanders support the introduction of clothing optional beaches.

“The Premier is not satisfied that the benefits for those Queenslanders who want clothing optional beaches are sufficient to justify the potential negatives of such a proposal.  The Premier is also concerned that the introduction of clothing optional beaches could create safety issues for people legally using the beaches, as well as others who live nearby.   

“Queensland beaches should be available to be enjoyed by all Queenslanders and visitors to our State.” [19]

The Qld. Premier highlighted an incident on ABC radio “in which a child was assaulted at Brisbane’s South Bank to exemplify his concerns about nude beaches. While the beach at South Bank is not a nude beach, the Premier says he is not convinced people attending such beaches would be safe from sexual assaults.” [20]

Why did the Burnett Shire Council near Bundaberg, Qld., reject the nudist beach proposal? Free Beaches of Australia reported that “a letter from the Premier’s office to a resident of Coonarr [Beach] was tabled stating that the Premier was not in favour of legalising nude beaches. The councillors voted 100% against and the matter was closed, all over and done within about three minutes.” [21]

10. Governments are trying to reduce health hazards, not sponsor them

“Queensland has the highest incidence of skin cancer in the world.” [22] This means that “every seven minutes a Queenslander is diagnosed with skin cancer” according to a TV advertising campaign” [23]

Having a deep summer tan on much of the body was considered a healthy Aussie summer look. Not any more! Governments have promoted the “slip, slop, slap” message and the wearing of sun-smart clothing to reduce the risk of sun cancer. 

At such a time when the dangers of skin cancer [24] are well known in Australia, I believe it is irresponsible for governments to legalise nudist beaches that encourage greater exposure to the sun and elimination of protective clothing.

Nudism is a public health hazard.

11. Nudist beaches are world-wide, but that doesn’t make them right or good

Because nudist beaches may be happening on a worldwide basis, this is not a good reason for legalising them. This research has shown the problems associated with some nudist beaches. Because many are doing it does not make it correct. Our governments, having a duty of care for all their people, should take the responsible role and not legislate anything that allows or promotes activities that are a threat to people and involve more responsibilities for an over-worked police force.

12. Discrimination redefined

A nudist told ABC radio that local and state governments that reject nudism are law breakers. His reasoning was: “We are part of the fabric of society but as a group we have been discriminated against in this state for too long and it must stop. Discrimination is illegal in Australia, and the failure of local and state governments to provide legal nude beaches for us and many tourists to enjoy is quite frankly against the law.” [25]

The public relations officer of the Free Beach Association of Queensland, Anita Grigg, promotes the same view, calling on a Qld. MP “to take a stand against discriminatory laws on nudism.” [24]

This is an interesting twist to the meaning of discrimination. Can’t the nudists see that it is they who are discriminating against those who want to wear clothing on beaches? If we accept the nudists’ line of reasoning, it means that many laws discriminate against several kinds of people. Couldn’t the paedophile, thief and murderer accuse the government of discrimination against them also? This is an extreme attempt by nudists to draw attention to their cause.

The nudists are breaking the law in Qld. As this article indicates, there are reasonable arguments for governments to reject public nudism.

13. Conclusion

We have traversed the landscape of some nudist beaches and discovered that all is not well for the promoters of naturist freedom. Children and adults are at risk and illegal activities are promoted. As a duty of care to all people, the smart idea in the Smart State is never to legalise nudist beaches.

Here I have presented reasonable reasons to support the view of Qld. Premier, Peter Beattie, that he “is not satisfied that the benefits for those Queenslanders who want clothing optional beaches are sufficient to justify the potential negatives of such a proposal.” [27]

Even the most rational approach to ethics is defenseless if there isn’t the will to do what is right(Aleksandr Solzhenitsyn) [28]

Notes

[2] Wikipedia, available from http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Australia [cited 25 January 2006].

[3] Paul McCarragher, “Clothing-optional beaches: a nudist’s perspective,” 21 December  2005, ABC (radio) Wide Bay, available from: http://www.abc.net.au/widebay/stories/s1535831.htm [cited 26 January 2006]. This link was unavailable on 27 January 2016, but the story was available at: https://groups.google.com/forum/#!topic/rec.nude/DWhiDufMnMg (Accessed 27 January 2016).

[4] Free Beaches of Australia Inc., available from: http://www.freebeach.com.au/nude-beaches/fba-origins/ (Accessed 27 January 2016).

[5] See the stories in the Adelaide Advertiser, 24 March 2004, 30 March 2004, 6 July 2004, 13 July 2004, 2 July 2005. For a report of the verdict and sentencing, see ABC South Australia (Online), “Man jailed for three years for triple abduction,” Available from: http://www.abc.net.au/news/2005-07-08/man-jailed-for-three-years-for-triple-abduction/2054254 (Accessed 27 January 2016).

[6] Paul McCarragher op cit.

[7] Jessica Shaughnessy, Six fined for sunbathing in the nude” (Online) Jul 21 2005, Daily Post Staff, Liverpool.co.uk [Accessed 3 February 2007]. It is now available at: http://www.thefreelibrary.com/Six+fined+for+sunbathing+in+the+nude.-a0134234099 (Accessed 27 January 2016).

[8] “‘Sex in open air’ scandal,” Devon 24 (Online), 08 September 2005 (Online), [cited 3 February 2007]. This link was no longer available online, 27 January 2016.

[9] Available at: https://www.fabswingers.com/forum/ireland/25838 (Accessed 27 January 2016).

[10] Alyson Matley, “Bare truth: Naturists want beach,” 19 May 2005, Available from: http://www.keynoter.com/articles/2005/05/18/news/news03.txt [cited 23 January 2006]. This link was no longer available online on 27 January 2016.

[11] Available at: http://www.freebeach.com.au/nude-beaches/ (Accessed 27 January 2016).

[12] Glenis Green, “Submissions sought on legal nude beach,” The Courier-Mail, 25 October 2005, p. 6.

[13] ‘Flashers pester nudists’, Aftenposten: News from Norway (online), 12 August 2005. Available at: http://hippiehollow.com/news/news_comments.php?id=44_0_2_0_C (Accessed 27 January 2016).

[14] Amsterdam, The Netherlands, 10 August 2005, ‘Not under our boardwalk, we’re naturists’   (Dutch naturists want beach for sex in public). Available at: http://www.expatica.com/nl/news/country-news/Not-under-our-boardwalk-were-naturists_131516.html (Accessed 27 January 2016).

[15] BBC News, 20 July 2005, available from: http://news.bbc.co.uk/1/hi/england/dorset/4700457.stm
[cited 23 September, 2005].

[16] Police watch on popular nudist beach. nzherald.co.nz, May 2, 2002. Available at: http://www.nzherald.co.nz/nz/news/article.cfm?c_id=1&objectid=1843042 (Accessed 27 January 2016).

[17] Paul McCarragher op cit.

[18] I Corinthians 3:16.

[19] I have a copy of this letter, but for the privacy of the people concerned, I withhold their names and addresses.

[20] “Beattie exposes nude beach fears,” 1 February 2005, ABC Sunshine & Cooloola Coasts, Queensland, Available at: http://www.abc.net.au/cgi-bin/common/printfriendly.pl?/news/australia/qld/sunshine/200502/s1293453.htm (Accessed 27 January 2016).

[21] Patsy & Richard Brown, “Quest for Nude Beach at Bundaberg Fails,” Available from: http://www.freebeach.com.au/bundaberg%20report.htm [cited 26 January 2006]. This link was no longer available at 27 January 2016.

[22] Southbank Corporation, “Protecting Queenslanders Under the Sun,” Sponsor Profile – Suncorp, Available from: http://www.southbankcorporation.com.au/partners/profile-_suncorp [cited 27 January 2006]. On 27 January 2016 this link was no longer available.

[23] Heard on WIN TV, Bundaberg, Qld., Friday, 27 January 2006, at approx. 6.15pm during the Channel 9 National News.

[24] “Skin Cancer Prevention”, Available from: http://www.guide4living.com/skincancer/prevention.htm
[cited 26 January 2006].

[25] Paul McCarragher op cit.

[26] “Govt urged to relax nude beach laws,” ABC News Online, 27 January 2005. Available at: http://www.abc.net.au/news/2005-01-27/govt-urged-to-relax-nude-beach-laws/626320 (Accessed 27 January 2016).

[27] Peter Beattie op cit.

[28] Alexander Solzhenitsyn Quotes & Sayings (Accessed 27 January 2016).

Whatever is true, whatever is noble, whatever is right, whatever is pure, whatever is lovely, whatever is admirable—if anything is excellent or praiseworthy—think about such things (Philippians 4:8).

 

Copyright © 2007 Spencer D. Gear.    This document last updated at: 7 October 2015.

cubed-redmattecubed-redmattecubed-redmattecubed-redmattecubed-redmattecubed-redmattecubed-redmattecubed-redmatte

The Church’s Role in National Decay

Wednesday, October 26th, 2011

(Courtesy Open Clip Art Library)

By Spencer D Gear

At a time when Australia is in moral disarray, who decides what are the `right’ values for government, education, media and individuals? We live in a society that is wanting to throw out absolute, God-given moral values and replace them with the whim and fancy of individuals. The public square seems naked.

Chuck Colson, of Watergate fame in the USA, who became a born-again Christian believer, while speaking of the USA, stated in 1994, prior to September 11, 2001, that “the culture in which we live is nearly lost.” [1]  Secular historian, Will Durant, follows a similar theme when he states that “we will find it no easy task to mold a natural ethic strong enough to maintain moral restraint and social order without the support of supernatural consolations, hopes, and fears.” [2]  Francis Schaeffer’s response to Durant’s comment was:

    Poor Will Durant!  It is not just difficult, it is impossible.  He should have remembered the quotation he and Ariel Durant gave from the agnostic Renan in their book

The Lessons of History

    According to the Durants, Renan said in 1866, “If rationalism wishes to govern the world without regard to the religious needs of the soul, the experience of the French Revolution is there to teach us the consequences of such a blunder.” [3]

The Durants persist with morality’s link to faith: “There is no significant example in history before our time, of a society successfully maintaining moral life without the aid of religion.” [4]

    The hunger for the transcendent remains unabated. . .  The yearning for the spiritual just will not die. . .  There is no clearer demonstration of this unrelenting hunger than the experiences of Russia and China as each has, in its own way, tried to exterminate the idea of God, only to realize that He rises up to outlive His pallbearers. . .  The greatest question of our time must be considered: Can man live without God?  It must be answered not only by those who are avowedly  antitheistic, but also by the many who functionally live as if there were no God and that His existence does not matter.  [5]

If Australia is to be restored, God’s transcendent truth must be proclaimed, demonstrated and brought to bear on our society. Jesus said that this was essential for believers (the church) to be salt and light. Christians must stand up and be counted for God’s truth in allareas of society.

BUT WHERE IS THE CHURCH?

Crime and violence skyrocket; sexual promiscuity and venereal disease are rampant; the poor and homeless are marginal; who protects the unborn, the handicapped and the elderly? Daily I deal with rebellious youth and disillusioned parents. Sometimes they are care-less parents and fed-up youth. Where is the church? Singer and songwriter, the late Keith Green, nailed the problem when he sang that we are “asleep in the light”:

Do you see, do you see all the people sinking down?
Don’t you care, don’t you care?
Are you gonna let them drown?
How can you be so numb not to care if they come?
You close your eyes and pretend the job’s done. . .
He’s told you to speak, but you keep holding it in.
Oh, can’t you see it’s such sin.
The world is sleeping in the dark
that the Church just can’t fight,
‘cause it’s asleep in the light. [6]

David Wilkerson agreed: “The church of Jesus Christ is asleep.  Its shepherds are mostly slumbering or chasing after their own dreams. Only the sleeping church could have allowed the abominations now poisoning it.” [7]

The moral madness in Australia is worsening. For the average Aussie, life goes on as usual with few concerned about the awful danger we are in. Almost nobody is alarmed. Apathy has overcome the culture and the church. But that won’t stop the judgment that is coming.

The people of Noah’s day did not expect the catastrophe, but it came just the same. While we live in relative luxury, gross injustice is being perpetrated with the shedding of innocent blood. But what does a fat society and a sleepy church do? “Give us another drink!” South Australian Christian ethicist, John Fleming calls it “decaffeinated Christianity.” [8]  John Smith says we are a “delinquent church.” [9]

For Israel, it took a Lion’s roar through the true prophet, Amos. What will is take to awaken Australia’s Christians, let alone the culture? God has already given Christians His orders: “And do this, understanding the present time. The hour has come for you to wake up from your slumber, because our salvation is nearer now than when we first believed. The night is nearly over; the day is almost here(Romans 13:11-12).

It is time to wake up!!

The spiritual and moral danger we are in, are too critical to brush aside with, “She’ll be right mate!” The issues we face are too crucial. The destiny of people made “in the image of God” hangs in the balance. The direction of our nation is too pivotal for Christians to be casual and lazy when delivering God’s message. Christian preacher and writer with prophetic insight, John O. Anderson, challenges the church: “The lawyer’s mistakes go to jail, the doctor’s mistakes go to the cemetery, but the minister’s mistakes go to hell!” [10]

Endnotes:

[1]  Charles Colson, “Foreword,” Ravi Zacharias, Can Man Live Without God?  Dallas: Word Publishing, 1994, p. x.
[2]  Will Durant, The Humanist, February 1977, in Francis A Schaeffer, A Christian Manifesto.  Westchester, Illinois: Crossway Books, 1981, p. 45.
[3]  In ibid.  The quote is from Will & Ariel Durant, The Lessons of History.  New York: Simon & Schuster, 1968,  pp. 50-51.
[4]  Durant, ibid.
[5]  Ravi Zacharias, pp. xv-xvi.
[6]  Keith Green, “Asleep in the Light,” retrieved from “Frontlines” on June 10, 2002, at http://www.heartofgod.com/frontlines1/Articles/EdRec.asp?ArticleID=47
[7]  David Wilkerson, Set the Trumpet to Thy Mouth.  Lindale, Texas: World Challenge, Inc., 1985,  p. 108.
[8]  In John O. Anderson, The Cry of Compassion: The Church’s Needed Voice in Today’s World.  Klamath Falls, Oregon: John O. Anderson, 1992, p. 67.
[9]  John Smith, Advance Australia Where?  Homebush West, NSW: Anzea Publishers, 1988, p. 211.
[10]  Anderson, p. 81.

Wake up from your slumber!

Copyright © 2014 Spencer D. Gear. This document last updated at Date: 28 October 2015.

cubed-redmattecubed-redmattecubed-redmattecubed-redmattecubed-redmattecubed-redmattecubed-redmattecubed-redmatte