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Should Christians love their enemies by using guns?

Monday, April 11th, 2016

By Spencer D Gear PhD

[The shooters’ Ford Expedition SUV, involved in the shootout. Released by the San Bernardino County Sheriff’s Department, photo courtesy Wikipedia]

How do you think the USA or any other country can prevent or stop mass shootings? Is it possible to live peacefully with others, without having guns for defence?

What provoked this kind of discussion was the horrible massacre of people at San Bernardino CA, USA. Fourteen people were shot dead and 21 were wounded on December 2, 2015, according to the Los Angeles Times article, ‘San Bernardino shooting victims: Who they were’ (17 December 2015). Those who shot the victims were a Sunni Muslim couple who lost their lives in the massacre, shot by police. See ‘They met online, built a life in San Bernardino — and silently planned a massacre’ (Los Angeles Times, 5 December 2015).

It should not be surprising that someone would start a thread on a Christian forum with this title, ‘How Can The U.S.A. Reduce Mass Shootings?’[1]

Standard pro-guns responses

Related imageSince my family and I have lived in USA and Canada for 7 years, we learned how much some Americans love their guns. Some of our Christian friends had guns and would not live without them.

Here are some of the pro-gun responses on that Christian forum:

clip_image002 ‘Gun control will take guns from those who abide by the law. Do you really think bad guys, felons, creeps will say “o i cant (sic) have a gun it is against the law” do you really?’[2]

clip_image002[1] ‘Well I see it like this; If there are 20 people in a place and 10 have a concealed weapon on them and three or four terrorist come in the terrorist are going to lose. if one wont stand and fight they do not deserve liberty and freedom’.[3]

clip_image002[2] ‘While I do agree that we should “fight” it, in some ways, spiritually – we can’t win this without fighting back, in a few ways, that are not spiritual but physical’.[4]

clip_image002[3] ‘Remove legally owned guns from law-abiding citizens, and the criminals still have the guns, with access to more. The same goes for ammo’.[5]

clip_image002[4] ‘It’s all about power. The powerful prey upon the weak. If you have a gun then one type of predator will avoid you but another one will seek to destroy you.
In America 4.5 out of 10 (at a minimum) have a firearm. (There are some that do but refuse to admit that they have one.)
So about half the citizens are armed’.[6]

Massacre at San Bernardino

What happened at San Bernardino CA in the late morning of 2 December 2015? The Los Angeles Times reported on 2 December that a male and a female who were dressed in black masks and tactical gear – armed with long guns and pistols – ‘entered a holiday party for county health workers in San Bernardino as it was in full swing. Before they fled, they had killed 14 people and wounded 17[7] others’.

Four hours later, as fearful residents were ordered to stay home and scores of officers swarmed the streets, authorities chased a black SUV carrying two suspects from a home in the nearby city of Redlands. As TV news stations broadcast live overhead, the chase spilled back onto San Bernardino’s streets, where authorities and the suspects traded gunfire.

When it was over, a man and woman connected to the assault were dead. One body lay in the street, blood pooling. Another was recovered from the vehicle. A police officer also was wounded in the firefight but is expected to survive (Serrano 2015).

The New York Times reported that the perpetrators of the terrorist act, ‘Syed Rizwan Farook and Tashfeen Malik met online and married two years ago, after he presented himself on a Muslim dating site as a devout young man who liked to fix cars and memorize the Quran’ (Nagourney et al 2015).

After the shooting, the couple escaped in a rented vehicle but four hours later police located them and they were killed in a shootout. ‘They died in a crush of bullets in a brutal face-off with the police’ The husband (Farook) was born in Illinois and raised in Southern California. His wife (Malik) was born in Pakistan and recently was living in Saudi Arabia’ (Nagourney et al 2015).

This slaughter and injuries have reignited the USA debate over guns.

Enter an Aussie with the Port Arthur solution

Tasmanian town locator PortArthur.gif(location of Port Arthur where majority of killings occurred, map courtesy Wikipedia)


It was on 28-29 April 1996 that there was a massacre of 35 people at Port Arthur, a former prison colony, and now centre for tourism on the south-eastern coast of Tasmania, Australia. Also, 23 other people were wounded. A 28-year-old, Martin Bryant from the Hobart suburb of New Town, was found guilty and received 35 life sentences. There is no possibility that he will be paroled (Hester 1996; CNN 1996).




Image result for photo of gun buyback Australia public domain

(photo of guns bought back, courtesy

As a result of this massacre, the Australian government led by Prime Minister John Howard at that time implemented a buyback of guns. ‘A  national firearm buyback scheme was progressively implemented from September 1996 and ran for 12 months. This was supported by a national firearm amnesty in which people in possession of illegal firearms could hand them in without penalty’ (Ozanne-Smith et al 2004). This buyback took in 660,959 firearms (Hope 2014).

As many USA folks on the forum were discussing the need to obtain and use guns, I dared to raise another perspective that was not much appreciated.[8]

Why don’t you take a read of this article in The New York Times from 4 December 2015, ‘How a Conservative-Led Australia Ended Mass Killings‘.

There is a way to fix most of it, but the sinful human heart will constantly challenge it.

A biblical answer is found in Romans 13:1-7 (ESV):

Let every person be subject to the governing authorities. For there is no authority except from God, and those that exist have been instituted by God. 2 Therefore whoever resists the authorities resists what God has appointed, and those who resist will incur judgement. 3 For rulers are not a terror to good conduct, but to bad. Would you have no fear of the one who is in authority? Then do what is good, and you will receive his approval, 4 for he is God’s servant for your good. But if you do wrong, be afraid, for he does not bear the sword in vain. For he is the servant of God, an avenger who carries out God’s wrath on the wrongdoer. 5 Therefore one must be in subjection, not only to avoid God’s wrath but also for the sake of conscience. 6 For because of this you also pay taxes, for the authorities are ministers of God, attending to this very thing. 7 Pay to all what is owed to them: taxes to whom taxes are owed, revenue to whom revenue is owed, respect to whom respect is owed, honour to whom honour is owed.?

If the USA government had the will like the Australian government has, it could implement anti-gun laws like we have. But the gun lobby will resist like they did in Australia. But we’ve had no massacres since we implemented these laws.

Nevertheless, ISIL could change that with its suicide bombs.

Predictably, someone came back with a view that

1. Gun control is a flawed policy

He linked to the article, ‘Australia: More violent crime despite gun ban’ (Nemerov 2009). This article claims:

It is a common fantasy that gun bans make society safer…. In 2002–five years after enacting its gun ban–the Australian Bureau of Criminology acknowledged there is no correlation between gun control and the use of firearms in violent crime: “The percentage of homicides committed with a firearm continued its declining trend since 1969.”

Even the head of Australia’s Bureau of Crime Statistics and Research, Don Weatherburn, acknowledged that the gun ban had no significant impact on the amount of gun-involved crime: There has been a drop in firearm-related crime, particularly in homicide, but it began long before the new laws and has continued on afterwards. I don’t think anyone really understands why…. gun control is a flawed policy.

Will Oremus (2012) has responded to this kind of reaction:

What happened next has been the subject of several academic studies. Violent crime and gun-related deaths did not come to an end in Australia, of course. But as the Washington Post’s Wonkblog pointed out in August [2012?], homicides by firearm plunged 59 percent between 1995 and 2006, with no corresponding increase in non-firearm-related homicides. The drop in suicides by gun was even steeper: 65 percent. Studies found a close correlation between the sharp declines and the gun buybacks. Robberies involving a firearm also dropped significantly. Meanwhile, home invasions did not increase, contrary to fears that firearm ownership is needed to deter such crimes. But here’s the most stunning statistic. In the decade before the Port Arthur massacre, there had been 11 mass shootings in the country. There hasn’t been a single one in Australia since.

There have been some contrarian studies about the decrease in gun violence in Australia, including a 2006 paper that argued the decline in gun-related homicides after Port Arthur was simply a continuation of trends already under way. But that paper’s methodology has been discredited, which is not surprising when you consider that its authors were affiliated with pro-gun groups.

Live peacefully with everyone

Let’s examine Rom 12:18 (ESV) in context: ‘If possible, so far as it depends on you, live peaceably with all’.[9]

In Rom 12 we are dealing with living life in presenting our bodies as a living sacrifice (Rom 12:1-2), how to demonstrate gifts of grace (Rom 12:3-7) and how to live out the Christian life (Rom 12:8-21). Rom 12:18 is in this latter section that includes ‘bless those who persecute you; bless and do not curse’ (Rom 12:14) and ‘repay no one evil for evil’ (Rom 12:17). Romans 12:18 (ESV) states, ‘If possible, so far as it depends on you, live peaceably with all’.

The close connection of Rom 12:17, Rom 12:18 and Rom 12:19 should be self evident. These verses exhort believers not to engage in behaviour that has a negative impact on them. From v. 17 we learn that ‘no one’ should be paid evil by us for evil done by them. In v. 18, we are to live peaceably ‘with all’. What did Jesus urge upon us according to Matt 5:9, ‘Blessed are the peacemakers, for they shall be called sons of God’?

Image result for peace public domainFrom the context of Rom 12:18, we don’t know the specifics of whether there was a situation in the church of Rome that caused the kind of teaching of Rom 12:18, but Rom 12:14 is clear enough that we should be blessing those who persecute us. Could these Roman believers have been experiencing persecution and needed this instruction? Could be!

Jesus made it clear that ‘I have said these things to you, that in me you may have peace. In the world you will have tribulation. But take heart; I have overcome the world’ (John 16:33). Paul in Rom 12:18 is acknowledging that for the Christian, conflict is not possible to avoid, but he adds this double qualification, ‘If possible, so far as it depends on you’ – leave peaceably. I, as a believer, have a responsibility to live at peace with those who oppose me.

The application is that Paul is saying that persecution is inevitable but he doesn’t want Christians to use this certainty of opposition to them and their faith to be an opportunity for them to engage in behaviour that needlessly inflames the conflict. He doesn’t want us to see the unavoidable persecution and opposition as a reason for giving up on a positive witness to those who are opposing us.

It may be impossible for the Christian to live peacefully with all people. Christians may be attacked by evil people for their proclamation of the Gospel, truth and the good. In those circumstances, ‘if possible’ the Christian is to be a pacifist while he or she may be an activist for Christ and the truth. The Christian is to start no strife or hostility. It is the sinful flesh that initiates discord. Yes, the Christian will become involved when another initiates a brawl.

I cannot see Rom 12:18 being used as justification for opposing a gun wielding person by using your own gun. The context in Rom 12:14 indicates that the Christian is to ‘bless those who persecute you’.

Surely the next verse is a stunning answer to the issues some raise with regard to v. 18, ‘ Beloved, never avenge yourselves, but leave it to the wrath of God, for it is written, “Vengeance is mine, I will repay, says the Lord”’ (Rom 12:19).

Using guns amounts to avenging ourselves. God’s instruction to us (my paraphrase) is: Don’t do it with a gun. Leave vengeance to the Lord. The Lord will repay with his own retribution.

Works consulted

CNN World News 1996. Australian gunman laughs as he admits killing 35 (online), November 7. Available at: (Accessed 12 April 2016).

Hester, J 1996. Aftermath of horror death toll climbs to 35; Tasmaniac is charged. New York Daily News (online), 30 April. Available at: (Accessed 12 April 2016).

Hope, E 2014. Kaechele tunes in to help old home with massive gun buyback. The Mercury (online), October 12. Available at: (Accessed 12 April 2016).

Lenski, R C H 1936. Commentary on the New Testament: The Interpretation of St. Paul’s Epistle to the Romans. Peabody, Mass: Hendrickson Publishers (this was originally published by Lutheran Book Concern, assigned in 1961 to Augsburg Publishing House. This is a limited edition assigned to Hendrickson Publishers, Inc, second printing 2001).

Moo, D J 1996. The New International Commentary on the New Testament: The Epistle to the Romans. N B Stonehouse, F F Bruce & G D Fee (gen eds, each over various years). Grand Rapids, Michigan / Cambridge, U.K.: William B. Eerdmans Publishing Company.

Nagourney, A; Lovett, I; Turkewitz, J; and Muellerdec, B 2015. Couple Kept Tight Lid on Plans for San Bernardino Shooting. The New York Times, December 3. Available at: (Accessed 19 December 2015).

Nemerov, H 2009. Australia experiencing more violent crime despite gun ban. Free Republic (online), 8 April. Available at: (Accessed 19 December 2015).

Oremus, W 2012. After a 1996 Mass Shooting, Australia Enacted Strict Gun Laws. It Hasn’t Had a Similar Massacre Since. Florida Sportsman (online), December 16. Available at: (Accessed 19 December 2015).

Ozanne-Smith, J; Ashby, K; Newstead, S; Stathakis, V Z & Clapperton, A 2004. Firearm related deaths: the impact of regulatory reform. Injury Prevention 10(5), 280-286 (online). Available at: (Accessed 12 April 2016).

Serrano, R A 2015. Authorities identify couple who they believe killed 14 at San Bernardino holiday party. Los Angeles Times (online), December 2. Available at: (Accessed 19 December 2015).


[1] Christian, December 6, 2015. iLOVE#1. Available at: (Accessed 19 December 2015).

[2] Ibid., reba#5.

[3] Ibid., Roro1972#9.

[4] Ibid., Pizza#18.

[5] Ibid., AirDancer#25.

[6] Ibid., JohnDB#55.

[7] This has been updated to 21 others (Nagourney et al 2015).

[8] This content is at Christian, OzSpen#43.

[9] I posted this to Christian, OzSpen#238. I gained some assistance from Moo (1996) and Lenski (1936).


Copyright © 2016 Spencer D. Gear. This document last updated at Date: 11 April 2016.


Why politicians should not support ‘marriage equality’[1]

Thursday, May 28th, 2015


Former lesbian, Jeanette Howard (photo courtesy vimeo)

By Spencer D Gear

Australia’s politicians are being asked to vote on same-sex marriage in parliament in a Marriage Equality Bill sponsored by the Labor Party.

The Labor Party Bill

According to the Brisbane Times, this is how Bill Shorten’s Bill will change the definition of marriage in Australia to allow for homosexual as well as heterosexual marriage unions:

The words “man and woman” and “husband and wife” will be replaced by “two people” in the Marriage Act under Bill Shorten’s proposal to redefine marriage in Australia.

Under the changes gay couples who have already married overseas would have their unions recognised under Australian law, with the repeal of section 88EA of the Act….

And, as flagged by Mr Shorten earlier this week, ministers of religion will not be required to solemnise a marriage where the parties to the marriage are of the same sex.

The Labor leader’s bill to legalise same-sex marriage in Australia, which will be introduced to Federal Parliament on Monday, defines marriage as  “the union of two people to the exclusion of all others, voluntarily entered into for life”.

The current definition in the Marriage Act, which would be replaced, states it is “the union of a man and a woman to the exclusion of all others, voluntarily entered into for life”.

The repeal of section 88EA and the redefinition of marriage as between two people would reverse former prime minister John Howard’s 2004 amendments to the Act.

The same-sex marriage bill, Marriage Amendment (Marriage Equality) Bill 2015, allows a union between two people regardless of their sex, sexual orientation, gender identity or intersex status (Massola 2015).

However, the Labor Party is joined by some in the Liberal Party government to support same-sex marriage: ‘Communications minister Malcolm Turnbull says he expects parliament will legalise same-sex marriage before the end of the year…. Mr Turnbull says rapidly changing community attitudes to same-sex marriage are likely to ensure the move will ultimately succeed’.[3]

Reasons for rejecting this Bill

A Channel 9 news report for 27 May 2015 stated:

Australians who support gay marriage are being urged to contact their local MP or Senator to voice their opinions, with marriage equality campaigners saying the country is now within “striking distance” of legalising same-sex marriages.

Australian Marriage Equality’s deputy director Ivan Hinton-Teoh today praised federal opposition leader Bill Shorten’s announcement Labor would move a bill in the House of Representatives on Monday to legalise gay marriage.

But he’s urged everyday Australians to keep the pressure up on politicians to ensure the bill passes.

“It’s important our elected officials understand the strength of support (for gay marriage),” Mr Hinton-Teoh told the TODAY Show.

“The most important thing people can do is share their stories, get in contact with their MPs and Senators.”

Mr Shorten yesterday gave formal notice of the bill, which will be seconded by his deputy Tanya Plibersek, stating he will present a bill “for an Act to amend the Marriage Act 1961 to establish marriage equality”.

“Our current law excludes some individuals – and to me, that is unacceptable,” Mr Shorten said.

“I believe the time has well and truly come for the Parliament to debate marriage equality.”

While support for marriage equality seems strong among many parliamentarians, the Abbott government could simply use its numbers in the Lower House to send the bill to a committee.

Some recent polls have put Australia’s support for gay marriage at an all-time high of 72 percent.[4]

We wouldn’t be caused to wonder which view Channel 9 is pushing. We get a similar emphasis from Australia’s ABC News:

In a statement, Mr Shorten said the time had come for Parliament to debate marriage equality and that he found it unacceptable current laws excluded some individuals.

The bill will come before the House of Representatives on Monday.

“I know this private members bill will not have the universal support of my colleagues,” Mr Shorten said.

“It will challenge the deeply held personal beliefs of MPs and senators on both sides of politics.

“This is why Labor members have the freedom to vote their conscience, a freedom Tony Abbott is currently denying his party.”

Even with a conscience vote in the Labor Party, Mr Shorten does not have the numbers to pass his bill.

Rather he is using it to urge the Prime Minister to grant a conscience vote to his MPs, something the Coalition already appears to be edging towards.

In recent days, Communications Minister Malcolm Turnbull described Australia as the “odd one out” on same-sex marriage among Commonwealth nations including the United Kingdom, New Zealand and Canada.

Renewed debate in Australia has been triggered by Ireland’s vote in favour of marriage equality in a referendum at the weekend.

“The world isn’t waiting for Tony Abbott and our Parliament shouldn’t have to,” Mr Shorten said.

“I know there are Coalition MPs who’d support marriage equality if Tony Abbott granted them a free vote.”

Liberal senator Arthur Sinodinos said the Coalition had been waiting to see how the Labor Party would move on the matter.

“I know some of my colleagues, like Warren Entsch and others, want to raise the issue and have talked about having game plans on this,” he said.

“So we’ll wait until next week, but certainly I would support a conscience vote on this.”[5]


(logo courtesy Wikipedia)

How does the Australian Christian Lobby respond to this proposed legislation? On 26 May 2015, it had this article on its website: ‘Shorten fails to consider the consequences of changing marriage’. Here it stated that,

Opposition Leader Bill Shorten’s same-sex marriage bill fails to consider the consequences of changing the definition of marriage in law, according the Australian Christian Lobby.

“It is disappointing that Australia’s alternative prime minister is legislating a family structure which requires a child to miss out on their mum or dad.

“Many Australians are watching with great concern as florists, photographers and cake makers in other countries are being legally punished simply because they prefer not to participate in a same-sex wedding.

“I wonder if Mr Shorten has considered the consequences of changing the definition of marriage,” Mr Shelton said.

“We urge parliamentarians to vote against the bill.”

In another article, ‘Why Australia should not rush to follow Ireland’ (ACL 26 May 2015), ACL stated:

So militant have they [homosexual marriage activists] become that we are beginning to see glimpses of what life might be like for dissenters in a post gay marriage future.

Senior Labor MP Jenny Macklin gave some insights in an interview with Chris Uhlmann on ABC1’s Insiders recently.

Supporting Labor’s deputy leader Tanya Plibersek’s push to expel parliamentarians from the party who don’t toe the line on changing marriage,  Macklin equated discrimination on the basis of ‘sexual preference’ with racial and gender discrimination.

Uhlmann had the presence of mind to pick her up on this and make the obvious follow-up point.

Uhlmann – “You are arguing that a person who disagrees with you on this is the same as a racist, that they are a bigot.”

Macklin – “I am not calling anybody names.”

Uhlmann – “But that is the natural extension of what you are saying.”[6]

Of course Uhlmann is right. Whether she wants to admit it or not, what Macklin is saying is that millions of Australians who will never support redefining marriage are the moral equivalents of racists or misogynists. Nice.

With attitudes towards dissent like this, it is no wonder 28 per cent of traditional marriage supporters in Ireland told pollsters they were too afraid to express their views openly.

Email to politicians

Thumbtack note email by zeimusuThe following is what I wrote to my local federal MP and some Queensland Senators.[7]

1. Parliament does not determine the nature of marriage. Since the beginning of time that was determined by God: ‘Therefore a man shall leave his father and his mother and hold fast to his wife, and they shall become one flesh’ (Genesis 2:24), affirmed by Jesus (Matthew 19:5), and confirmed by the apostle Paul (Ephesians 5:31). This Australian nation has its foundation in Christian principles. Please do not go down the route of populist parliamentary and community appeal.

2. It is only the union of a man-woman that has the potential to produce children naturally. Even for artificial insemination or IVF, there is need for the ‘seed’ of male AND female. Male-male or female-female will not do it. Surely this should scream at politicians, GAY MARRIAGE GOES AGAINST A FOUNDATION PILLAR OF AUSTRALIAN SOCIETY!

3. Are you prepared to throw caution to the wind and change the meaning of marriage in a very risky social and political experiment? Heather Barwick is the daughter of lesbians. In an article in the Courier-Mail (March 20, 2015, ‘Heather Barwick, the daughter of lesbians, against gay marriage….), she said: ‘Growing up, and even into my 20s, I supported and advocated for gay marriage. It’s only with some time and distance from my childhood that I’m able to reflect on my experiences and recognise the long-term consequences that same-sex parenting had on me. It’s only now, as I watch my children loving and being loved by their father each day, that I can see the beauty and wisdom in traditional marriage and parenting’.

4. Do you understand the positive impact of children being raised by a mother and father? It was reported by statistician, Graeme Archer, in The Telegraph (UK) that ‘the evidence that children raised in standard two-parent families fare, on average, better in life than their peers – and that boys in particular benefit from the presence of a father – is so strong that it takes a wilful perversion to ignore it’ (04 May 2012, ‘The village can help, but children raised by a mum and dad do best‘).

5. Part of that is because children need role models from both Mum and Dad to have a balanced development in life. The information led to Texas A&M University preparing the following material, based on research: ‘20 Reasons Why Your Child Needs You to Be an Active Father‘. A lesbian couple cannot provide this input. That’s the evidence! Do you understand the damage that will be done in legislating homosexual marriage?

6. The language of ‘marriage equality’ does not provide ‘parenting equality’ for children raised in homosexual marriages. The nature of the man-woman relationship in marriage is radically different from that of a same-sex couple. Therefore, to talk of ‘marriage equality’ is inappropriate labelling.

7. Of course two women can love each other and two men can love each other, but common sense leads to the conclusion that the nature of the loving, sexual relationship between a man and a woman is very different to that happening in same-sex relationships.

8. Do you understand how promiscuous same-sex relationships can be? Do you want children exposed to any number of different men or women in the house who are engaged in ‘bed sex’? ‘In one recent study of gay male couples, 41.3% had open sexual agreements with some conditions or restrictions, and 10% had open sexual agreements with no restrictions on sex with outside partners. One-fifth of participants (21.9%) reported breaking their agreement in the preceding 12 months, and 13.2% of the sample reported having unprotected anal intercourse in the preceding three months with an outside partner of unknown or discordant HIV-status’ (Lelands et al in Nicolosi 2009, ‘An open secret: The truth about gay male couples‘).

9. Does Australia want to be in agreement with Article 7 of the UN Convention on the Rights of the Child or not?  Part 1 of this article states: ‘The child shall be registered immediately after birth and shall have the right from birth to a name, the right to acquire a nationality and, as far as possible, the right to know and be cared for by his or her parents’. The last portion of this statement is shot to bits in homosexual marriage.

10. This is such a fundamental issue for the health of Australia. Politicians need to know that how they vote on this legislation will determine how I vote in the next election – and I’ll be telling my friends of their voting record on this issue.

Please consider these matters in regard to the Bill for Marriage Equality, which would be better called the Bill for Marriage Distortion for couples and children.

What is God’s view on marriage and homosexuality?

Purple Scripture ButtonSuch a question doesn’t seem to enter the minds of many Aussie politicians. However, my local MP has told me he will be supporting marriage to continue to be between a male and a female.

God’s design from the beginning of time was for marriage of a man and a woman. See Genesis 2:24-25, ‘Therefore a man shall leave his father and his mother and hold fast to his wife, and they shall become one flesh. And the man and his wife were both naked and were not ashamed’ (ESV).

Jesus Christ affirmed this passage according to Matthew 19:4-6, ‘He answered, Have you not read that he who created them from the beginning made them male and female, and said, “Therefore a man shall leave his father and his mother and hold fast to his wife, and the two shall become one flesh”? So they are no longer two but one flesh. What therefore God has joined together, let not man separate’ (ESV).

(3)   The apostle Paul also affirmed this emphasis in Ephesians 5:31, ‘Therefore a man shall leave his father and mother and hold fast to his wife, and the two shall become one flesh’ (ESV).

(4) Then add this factor from the apostle Paul who wrote of ‘men who practice homosexuality’ as being among those who were among ‘such were some of you. But you were washed, you were sanctified, you were justified in the name of the Lord Jesus Christ and by the Spirit of our God’ (1 Corinthians 6:9-11). In this list, homosexuals were placed among the sexually immoral, idolaters, adulterers, thieves, greedy, drunkards, revilers who were the ‘unrighteous’ who would not inherit God’s kingdom. But Jesus changes all of these people – even homosexuals.

A redeemed and changed lesbian speaks

If you don’t believe me, read my interview with a redeemed lesbian, Jeanette Howard, ‘One woman’s journey out of lesbianism: An interview with Jeanette Howard’. I recommend her book, Out of Egypt: Leaving lesbianism behind.


(courtesy Kregel Publications)

For some further information see my articles:

clip_image005 Spencer Gear’s submission against homosexual marriage to the Australian House of Representatives

clip_image005[1] Loree Rudd (Kevin Rudd’s sister): Support for homosexual marriage caused a Labor Party member to quit the Party

clip_image005[2] Homosexual unions, homosexual marriage, mass media & politicians

clip_image005[3] Why should we oppose homosexual marriage?

clip_image005[4] Reasons to oppose homosexual marriage.

clip_image005[5] Is homosexual life expectancy lower than for heterosexuals?

clip_image005[6] Kevin Rudd MP’s changed position on same sex marriage is self-refuting

clip_image005[7] Queen Elizabeth II and Jesus silent on homosexuality

clip_image005[8] Religious marriage with a different twist: My response to Spencer Howson

clip_image005[9] Queensland government passed civil homosexual union Bill

Works consulted

Massola, James 2015. Bill Shorten releases details of Labor’s same-sex marriage bill, 29 May. Brisbane Times (online). Available at: (Accessed 30 May 2015).


[1] I sent the points, ‘Email to my politicians’ (see below) to my local member of federal parliament and some Queensland Senators in Australia on 27 May 2015.

[2] Reference deleted when edited.

[3] Amanda Cavill, SBS News, 27 May 2015, ‘Communications minister Malcolm Turnbull says he expects parliament will legalise same-sex marriage before the end of the year’. Available at: (Accessed 28 May 2015).

[4], 27 May 2015, ‘Australia now within “striking distance” of marriage equality say same-sex campaigners’, available at: (Accessed 27 May 2015).

[5] ‘Bill Shorten to introduce private members bill to legalise same-sex marriage’, ABC News, 27 May 2015. Available at: (Accessed 27 May 2015).

[6] The footnote was:

[7] I sent the email on Wednesday, 27 May 2015.


Copyright © 2015 Spencer D. Gear. This document last updated at Date: 21 June 2016.

The bashing of Fred Nile’s views on ABC TV (Australia)

Friday, April 17th, 2015

By Spencer D Gear

The Reverend and Honourable
Fred Nile

Rev Hon Fred Nile MLC.JPG

Member of the Legislative Council of New South Wales

(courtesy Wikipedia)

Australian Broadcasting Corporation logoType
Statutory corporationAvailability
ABC Ultimo Centre
700 Harris Street
Ultimo 2007, SydneyBroadcast area: Australia

Government of Australia

(courtesy Wikipedia)

If you want to see the mass media bias against Christians, watch what secular journalists do to a politician who is an evangelical Christian operating from a biblical worldview in his or her policies. That’s what I saw on Thursday, 16 April 2015 in the Australian ABC TV programme, 7.30. See, ‘Fred Nile: Controversial Christian Democrat MP poised to hold balance of power in New South Wales parliament’.

Here the ABC proceeded to expose Fred Nile MP (Upper House, New South Wales parliament), who is ‘renowned for campaigning on social issues. He opposes gay marriage, gay adoption, Islamic face coverings, and wants limits on halal food in Australian supermarkets’. The ABC’s bagging of him continued, ‘But despite his long history of activism, he does not understand why some people call him controversial’.

Fred’s response was:

“It always surprises me, because I’m the most non-controversial person you could get,” he said.

“Everything I believe is just so – in my opinion – mainstream and ordinary.

“The only controversy comes because there are groups of people who oppose what I’m saying.”

Then 7.30 proceeded to expose Nile’s approach to Muslim immigration:

Rev Nile once called for a halt to Muslim immigration, and now he fears that a larger Islamic community will try to impose sharia law.

“There are some dangers that Australians should appreciate,” he said.

“Once [the Muslim population] gets to 5 per cent or 10 per cent, it’s not that the Australians change [but] the Muslims change and become more militant and more demanding.”

The opponents on ABC TV

So who does the ABC call on to oppose Fred Nile?

Islamic Friendship Association Spokesman Keysar Trad condemned Mr Nile’s statement.

“I’m very disappointed with Fred Nile’s contribution to New South Wales,” he said.

“As a man of God, as a Reverend, you’d expect him to be inclusive, you’d expect him to reach out with love and compassion and peace towards others.

“But what we’ve seen from him over the last couple of decades is vitriol, divisiveness and fear mongering about Islam and Muslims.”

Then there was Greens MP, John Kaye, who spruiked his opposition to Nile’s policies:

“Fred has always been the pilot fish of the lunar Right,” Greens MP John Kaye said.

“When homophobia was the cause of the day, Fred was right there as their man in parliament.

“Now it’s hatred of Muslims, and fear of Muslims, whether it’s mosques or halal food, Fred is their voice in parliament.”

Mr Kaye said he expected Rev Nile to vote with the Government on most issues.

“He is the Government’s patsy,” he said.

Enter illogical thinking

By calling Fred Nile ‘the pilot fish of the lunar Right’, John Kaye is using an ad hominem logical fallacy to put down Nile. What is a logical fallacy? It is illogic in action. But the journalist who did the interviewing of John Kaye did not call him for using such fallacious reasoning. If he called him to task, he could have said something like, ‘Why are you labelling Fred Nile’s character and actions when you should be dealing with the truth or falsity of his claims about homosexuality, Muslim immigration, halal food and mosques? That’s false reasoning that you are using’. Hearing that from an ABC journalist would send this viewer into an unnatural tizzy fit. The ABC, based on my past listening and viewing, is not in the habit of giving favourable coverage to Christians who are engaged in the public culture.

Does this contemporary journalist not have the common sense to know what John Kaye did in that kind of response? Kaye did not deal with the issues Nile is raising and their impact on Australian society.

The Nizkor Project: Remembering the Holocaust (Shoah)


The supporters on ABC TV?

Who would you think that ABC TV’s 7.30 would bring in support of Fred Nile so that there would be ‘balance’ in the programme? Outside of his wife, there was

Not a soul. Not one! clip_image002[4] clip_image003[4] clip_image004[4]

The ABC receives approximately $6.61 billion (over 5 years) in Australian government funding to run its broadcast operations. There are many Christians who live in Australia, so who would any journalist worth his salt choose to engage positively with Fred Nile’s views? There was not a single person. So, I sent

A complaint

This is the online bellyache I had against the ABC and its bias:[1]

I’ve just watched your 7.30 programme featuring Fred Nile and his wife in which you proceed to bag Fred Nile for the things he stands for. This was a classic example of ABC bigotry towards this Christian parliamentarian. Who did you choose to oppose him? A Greens MP who proceeded to slam him for what he wants to do about Islamic migration and Fred’s support for the James Packer casino.

If the ABC was to present a balanced programme I’d just about have a heart attack. For every one who opposed Fred on 7.30, you should be presenting one in favour of Fred’s views. That would at least be fair. But Leigh Sales had only the bag in hand to bash Fred Nile’s views.

I’m tired of the bigotry that the ABC presents against those who don’t support the ABC’s agenda. If you did to a Muslim, what you did to Fred, you’d have a Jihad on your hands. But you think that it’s perfectly OK to bash Fred Nile, a Christian, while you receive $2 billion[2] in funding from the Federal Govt. It’s time that the ABC learned what fairness and justice are about.

You slammed Fred Nile with your dose of injustice. What will 7.30 do to change its approach to people who have views with which it disagrees?

P.S. I don’t live in NSW so I can’t vote for Fred Nile but as a Christian, I found what you did to be utterly offensive.

I omitted to mention that one other opponent was featured on 7.30, Islamic Friendship Association Spokesman, Keysar Trad.

The ABC’s reply

How do you think that ABC would reply to what I emailed to them? Well, I’m not allowed to tell you. But I can say, from my perspective, it was not favourable towards the content of my complaint to it about Fred Nile’s views.

But it did make sure that I couldn’t tell you exactly what it said, by making this claim at the end of the email received from a person at ABC’s ‘Audience and Consumer Affairs’ on 20 April 2015. It stated:

The information contained in this email and any attachment is confidential and may contain legally privileged or copyright material. It is intended only for the use of the addressee(s). If you are not the intended recipient of this email, you are not permitted to disseminate, distribute or copy this email or any attachments. If you have received this message in error, please notify the sender immediately and delete this email from your system. The ABC does not represent or warrant that this transmission is secure or virus free. Before opening any attachment you should check for viruses. The ABC’s liability is limited to resupplying any email and attachments.

I can’t even give you my response to this reply because I included some quotes from the ABCs reply.


The overall emphasis of the 7.30 story on Fred Nile was to paint this politician who could hold the balance of power as an extremist who doesn’t represent what the Greens MP or the Islamic association promotes.

There’s a lesson here for all Christians who want to engage in public issues through cultural apologetics. Be prepared for antagonistic bashing from mass media journalists and their producers.

New South Wales Legislative Council (55th Parliament)

Coat of arms or logo

Upper house (since 1856) of the Parliament of New South Wales

(Courtesy Wikipedia)


[1] I sent this via an online complaints form to the ABC on Thursday, 16 April 2015, and at my request I received a copy of my complaint by email reply. I await a response from the ABC, but I’m not holding my breath expecting them to do anything by way of change of editorial policy. However, they need to hear my protests and reasons for it.

[2] Malcolm Turnbull MP, Minister for Communications, on his website stated, ‘the Government’s continued investment in national broadcasting of more than $6.61 billion over the same five year period’ (FAQs on ABC and SBS, 19 December 2014, Malcolm Turnbull MP).


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

The Coalition’s NBN lemon

Thursday, January 22nd, 2015


Fibre to the premises design (courtesy Wikipedia)

By Spencer D Gear

If I were in charge of building a new highway from Brisbane to my hometown of Bundaberg, Qld., Australia, I’d want it to be the best bitumen highway for the 21st century all the way – 373 km or 232 miles (courtesy travelmath).

Imagine if it was bitumen for about 360 km of the road and a dirt, corrugated road for the remaining 13km. Well that’s the parallel we have with the Coalition government’s National Broadband Network (NBN) Internet plan. This is a statement about that plan:

The new NBN model will now see the massive infrastructure project rolled out to 26 per cent of premises with direct fibre connections by 2020, while a further 44 per cent would have fibre to the node — which uses Telstra’s existing copper network for the final few hundred metres to homes. Thirty per cent would get a service using hybrid fibre coaxial pay-TV cables (Mitchell Bingemann, ‘Coalition orders “technology mix” to officially replace Labor’s NBN plan’, The Australian, April 09, 2014).

While this article said the Coalition model would cost less than the Labor plan, the facts for this model are that 44% of people will be receiving fibre to the node and the remaining copper network will be used to the house. It is like a bitumen highway for all but 13km of the trip from Brisbane to Bundaberg.

It was put brilliantly by a person who wrote to the Brisbane Times on the topic of ‘TPG declares dial-up dead’ (January 16, 2015):

3rd world internet and this mob think leaving the copper in place with some fibre bits will make a difference? a bit like building a freeway that ends in cobbles and dung at the exit for the last couple of km home, or a bullet train that stops while you change for the horse towed tram on the last bit .. you still can’t get even ADSL where we live on coast 200km south of Sydney, the plug in USB stick aerial on my roof works now and again at snail speeds if not too many people are on it (amateur hour, 16 January 2015).

Savings at a galloping slow pace

BUT, Malcolm Turnbull, Minister of Communications, and the one responsible for the government’s roll-out of the NBN, tells us that

the NBN Co’s Strategic Review published in December 2013 found that if we had continued the project under the settings in Labor’s plan, typical household broadband bills would have increased by up to 80 per cent or $43 per month. And that is the inevitable consequence of a more expensive network (‘Why Labor Got It Wrong on Broadband in the Bush’, Malcolm Turnbull, 12 December 2014)


(NBN Co wireless outdoor antenna, courtesy Wikipedia)

Mitchell Bingemann summarised the differences between Labor and the Coalition on the NBN:

While Labor’s model proposed to roll out super-fast optic fibre to premises for 93 per cent of Australian homes, the Coalition’s strategic review into the NBN found that model would have needed $29bn more in peak funding than the $44bn forecast because of cost blowouts and revenue targets that were never achievable.

In that review it was estimated that in total, Labor’s plan would have cost $73bn and missed its 2021 deadline by three years (source HERE).

It’s a lemon


(courtesy Healthmad, public domain)

Before the Coalition won the federal election to government on 7th September 2013 (The Sydney Morning Herald, Sept 12, 2013), there was this provocative interchange that was reported by The Australian newspaper (online), ‘Coalition NBN policy is a lemon: critics’, 9 April 2013:[1]

RMIT University telecommunications expert and senior lecturer Mike Gregory said the policy wasn’t a sensible answer to Australia’s communications needs.

“This is the biggest lemon in Australia’s history,” Dr Gregory told AAP.

“What they are trying to do is offer us a bag of lollies by saying we can do it cheaper and faster, but what we are really being sold is a lemon.”

The coalition’s NBN would cut costs by using Telstra’s copper network from the node to premises in city and most rural areas – bypassing Labor’s plan to roll out optic fibre cable all the way.

“We will build fibre-to-the-node and that eliminates two-thirds of the cost,” Mr Abbott told reporters in Sydney.


When new fibre cable directly to the house is not there for 44% of houses we are being sold a bummer of an NBN. I consider this to be a foolish plan that will offer a large chunk of Aussies a stingy broadband Internet service. They will have a horse and sulky service for the last few kilometres at the end of the freeway.

A friend who is an IT professional told me that he is livid about what the Coalition is doing to super fast broadband services that are needed for the 21st century.

It’s a lemon of a plan, a sour end to what could have been a sweet, powerful National Broadband Network, because:

  • It is like allowing an old road, suitable for an old, old truck, to be allowed to continue when the road needs a super fast highway for the 21st century.
  • It’s like a freeway that ends in cobbles and dung;
  • It’s like having a bullet train that stops at the end so that passengers can be towed to their destination on a horse drawn tram.

(Single by the Mojo Singers, courtesy Wikipedia)

You can do better than that. Is it going to take a change of government to achieve a super fast communications highway, all the way from Brisbane to Bundaberg – and without 10 km of dirt track – and then all around the country?


Partial map of the Internet based on the January 15, 2005 data found on Each line is drawn between two nodes (courtesy Wikipedia)


[1] Accessed 21 January 2015.


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

Israel wiped off the map[1]

Saturday, January 3rd, 2015

Where is Israel? (Image courtesy The Tablet)

By Spencer D Gear

Would you believe that one of the world’s largest publishers, HarperCollins (Zondervan is one of its subsidiaries), has excluded the nation of Israel in atlases sold to schools in the Middle East? You can read some details at, ‘Israel missing from HarperCollins atlases sold to Middle East schools‘ (Brisbane Times, January 3, 2015).

This article states:

For months, publishing giant HarperCollins has been selling an atlas it says was “developed specifically for schools in the Middle East.” It trumpets the work as providing students an “in-depth coverage of the region and its issues.” Its stated goals include helping kids understand the “relationship between the social and physical environment, the region’s challenges [and] its socio-economic development.”

Nice goals. But there’s one problem: Israel is missing.

There’s Syria. There’s Jordan. There’s Gaza. But no mention of Israel. The story was first reported by a Catholic publication, the Tablet.

The article also states that one branch of HarperCollins, Collins Bartholomew, ‘that specialises in maps, told the Tablet that it would have been “unacceptable” to include Israel in atlases intended for the Middle East. They had deleted Israel to satisfy “local preferences”‘.

This sounds like political correctness gone amuck that a controversial, but significant, Middle Eastern nation is not even mentioned in this atlas.

Now HarperCollins did issue an apology according to this article:

HarperCollins regrets the omission of the name Israel from their Collins Middle East Atlas,” HarperCollins UK said on its Facebook page. “This product has now been removed from sale in all territories and all remaining stock will be pulped. HarperCollins sincerely apologises for this omission and for any offence it caused.

The book

The atlas is titled, Collins Primary Geography Atlas For The Middle East (Amazon). However, when this writer went to the HarperCollins Publishers website to locate this publication, the only message found was, ‘0 results found’. It seems that the book has been withdrawn from publication.

One reviewer of the book on the website stated: ‘Did not purchase this map, but saw graphic of the relevant area with the state of Israel left out. This stunt vitiates the reputation of HarperCollins as a publisher of anything. There is no explanation for this behavior that would excuse this egregious lack of editorial judgement’ (Marshall E. Poole). He gave the book a #1 rating, which is the very worst rating possible. Another reviewer wrote: ‘I look forward with interest to HarperCollin’s upcoming atlas tailored to “local preferences” for the Russian market. Sorry, Ukraine; so long, Baltic nations, etc….’ (contranym). Again a #1 rating. The majority of the ratings were #1, which should be sending an anathema warning to the publisher. It should be getting the message.

The Times of Israel has written an article to address this issue, ‘HarperCollins erases Israel from atlases‘. Part of the article states,

Bishop Declan Lang, chairman of the Bishops’ Conference of England and Wales Department of International Affairs, told The Tablet that the maps will harm peace efforts.

“The publication of this atlas will confirm Israel’s belief that there exists a hostility towards their country from parts of the Arab world. It will not help to build up a spirit of trust leading to peaceful co-existence,” he said.

Customs officials in one Gulf nation previously did not allow the school atlases into the country until the labeling of Israel had been crossed out by hand, according to The Tablet.

Israel the nation

Why should the nation of Israel be recognised on a map of the Middle East in the 21st century?

On May 14, 1948, David Ben-Gurion, the head of the Jewish Agency, proclaimed the establishment of the State of Israel. U.S. President Harry S. Truman recognized the new nation on the same day.

Although the United States supported the Balfour Declaration of 1917, which favored the establishment of a Jewish national home in Palestine, President Franklin D. Roosevelt had assured the Arabs in 1945 that the United States would not intervene without consulting both the Jews and the Arabs in that region. The British, who held a colonial mandate for Palestine until May 1948, opposed both the creation of a Jewish state and an Arab state in Palestine as well as unlimited immigration of Jewish refugees to the region. Great Britain wanted to preserve good relations with the Arabs to protect its vital political and economic interests in Palestine….

Despite growing conflict between Palestinian Arabs and Palestinian Jews and despite the Department of State’s endorsement of a trusteeship, Truman ultimately decided to recognize the state Israel (Milestones: 1945-1952, Creation of Israel, 1948, U. S. Department of State, Office of the Historian).

Is Israel a secular or religious nation?

According to this article from the Brisbane Times,  eliminating Israel from the atlas of the Middle East was following a deliberate strategy: ‘to satisfy “local preferences”‘, and those preferences were not to affirm Israel as a nation on the geographical face of the globe.

It is a common view that I’ve heard bandied about the mass media that Israel is a secular nation. Is that the case? This article from the Jerusalem Center for Religious Affairs, ‘How Religious are Israeli Jews?‘ indicates that about 20% are considered secular Jews. The article has some interesting figures about the religious vs the secular Jews in Israel.

It begins with this observation about the common mass media view :

For years, reporting from Israel and the comments of those Israelis whom the reporters cover or interview has suggested that Israeli Jews are divided into two groups: the overwhelmingly majority who are secular and a small minority who are religious. While figures, even percentages, were not always stated, it was generally assumed that 80 percent of Israelis fell into the secular camp and were being religiously coerced in one way or another by the religious 20 percent. Why do you think many Christians could be pro-Israel??

The issue raised in this article points to censorship of the geography of a prominent nation in the Middle East.

Since I’m an Aussie, I have written to HarperCollins Australia (email) about this censorship. I do hope that all who read this brief article will send a brief email or letter to HarperCollins in your country to complain about what it has done with this exclusion of Israel from a Middle Eastern map.

Significant questions

No matter how much HarperCollins apologises, this leaves me with some significant questions:

  • What would cause any publisher to wipe a country entirely off the map – annihilate it geographically?
  • What influences would cause a publisher to do this?
  • How could a publisher send an atlas to editors for final editing and this exclusion is not noted or corrected?
  • Is this politically correct speech in action?
  • What does this say about what this publisher could do in other publications? Can the publisher be trusted with accuracy in other publications?

At least one branch of the publisher has admitted, according to the Brisbane Times’ article, that ‘it would have been “unacceptable” to include Israel in atlases intended for the Middle East. They had deleted Israel to satisfy “local preferences”‘. Why is it ‘unacceptable’ when the existence of the nation of Israel is a fact?


[1] I have posted some of this information to 3 Christian forums: (1) Christian, End Times, ‘Israel erased from maps’, OzSpen#43. Available at: (Accessed 3 January 2015). (2) Christian Fellowship Forum, ‘Israel obliterated’, ozspen#1. Available at: (Accessed 3 January 2015). (3) Christian, ‘Israel gone missing’, OzSpen#1. Available at: (Accessed 3 January 2015).


Copyright © 2015 Spencer D. Gear. This document last updated at Date: 4 June 2016.

Old wives’ tale, artificial sweeteners and cancer

Wednesday, November 5th, 2014

clip_image002 clip_image004 clip_image005 clip_image007 clip_image008

(courtesy Wikipedia and Wikipedia)

By Spencer D Gear

I have had people visit with my wife and me and when we took a cold can of diet Coke from the refrigerator for my consumption, the person would say something like: ‘Surely you are not drinking that stuff with artificial sweeteners. It’s dangerous’. Then a discussion pursued about the link between aspartame (and other artificial sweeteners) and cancer.

Then there are online statements such as, ‘Aspartame: By Far the Most Dangerous Substance Added to Most Foods Today’.

There’s a fair amount of information sweeping around the Internet and in personal conversation about how it has been shown that if one uses artificial sweeteners there is a risk of getting cancer.

Is it fact or fiction that consumption of artificial sweeteners leads to developing cancer? Could it be classified as an old wives’ tale, which is ‘a belief, usually superstitious or erroneous, passed on by word of mouth as a piece of traditional wisdom’? (The free dictionary)

Is it true?

Risk Factor

public domain

You might be interested in this article from the National Cancer Institute, ‘Artificial sweeteners and cancer‘. One of its conclusions about research in this area is contrary to popular opinion: ‘There is no clear evidence that the artificial sweeteners available commercially in the United States are associated with cancer risk in humans’. Why don’t you read this summary of research to demonstrate this fact.
For other versions of this research, see:


That information should put the cat amongst the pigeons or lay some falsehoods to rest.

The National Cancer Institute in the USA concluded:

Questions about artificial sweeteners and cancer arose when early studies showed that cyclamate in combination with saccharin caused bladder cancer in laboratory animals. However, results from subsequent carcinogenicity studies (studies that examine whether a substance can cause cancer) of these sweeteners have not provided clear evidence of an association with cancer in humans. Similarly, studies of other FDA-approved sweeteners have not demonstrated clear evidence of an association with cancer in humans.

So the conclusion that consumption of artificial sweeteners is linked to cancer is a fable. It is nothing more than an old wives’ tale.

3d Cancer Cure Crossword On...

public domain

Copyright © 2014 Spencer D. Gear. This document last updated at Date: 29 October 2015.

Kevin Rudd MP’s changed position on same-sex marriage is self-refuting[1]

Tuesday, May 21st, 2013

Kevin Rudd DOS cropped.jpg

Kevin Rudd MP (Courtesy Wikipedia)

By Spencer D Gear

Kevin Rudd, Australian Prime Minister, is now in favour of homosexual marriage

Ribbon Homosexuality Button

I’ve been reading the article from Kevin Rudd’s homepage in which he indicates his change of mind regarding homosexual marriage, ‘Church and State are able to have different positions on same sex marriage‘ (20 May 2013). As expected, some of its content made it to today’s Courier-Mail, ‘Kevin Rudd declares his support for same sex marriage‘. My comments relate to the article on his homepage.

1. Rudd’s position refutes itself

His position is self-refuting, primarily because I expect that he wants me to engage in reading his article in its plain sense – literal interpretation – to understand what he exactly said and meant. But he disagrees with people who read the Bible literally. By the way, a literal reading of the text means that one takes into consideration all the figures of speech and symbols that are in that writing. It was Rudd who stated in his homepage article:

  • ‘If we were today to adhere to a literalist rendition of the Christian scriptures, the 21st century would be a deeply troubling place, and the list of legitimized social oppressions would be disturbingly long’.

Then he proceeded to give examples of slavery in the USA, polygamy, and capital punishment by stoning for adultery. He doesn’t seem to have an understanding of biblical hermeneutics and the difference between Old and New Covenants in the Bible. See the article, ‘What about the Bible and slavery?

See my articles:

2. My primary problems with Kevin Rudd’s conclusions

I see three core problems with Rudd’s changed approach to homosexuality:

1.  The inconsistency in his method of interpretation. Can I presume that he wants me to read the article on his homepage literally so that I understand its content? Should I read the article literally that he have written for The Australian today, ‘A matter for the state, not church‘ (21 May 2013) so that I get the common, everyday meaning of what he wants to convey to me? When I pick up my local newspaper, an historical book, a geography book, a book on politics, or my Bible, should I interpret it literally, metaphorically or as a postmodern deconstructionist? The answer should be obvious. If I want to understand the plain meaning of the text, I read it literally and don’t impose any allegorical, metaphorical or postmodern deconstructionist meaning on it.

2.  Kevin Rudd does not want us to take the same method of interpretation to the Bible. This is the hypocrisy of his position. It’s OK for Kevin Rudd to need a literal reading of his article on his homepage and in The Australian to understand his position, but it’s not OK to read the Bible literally.

3.  He stated that he is a Christian but he doesn’t know his Bible very well. This especially relates to his statement, ‘I for one have never accepted the argument from some Christians that homosexuality is an abnormality. People do not choose to be gay’.

The apostle Paul disagrees with him profoundly in the inspired Scriptures. Which Bible has Kevin been reading? It is not the one that includes 1 Corinthians 6:9-11,

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

The Scriptures put homosexual behaviour in the same category as other sinful actions: heterosexual immorality, idolatry, adultery, theft, greed, drunkenness, slander, and swindling. And have a guess what? All these homosexual behaviours can be changed. The Scriptures state clearly, ‘That is what some of you were. But you were washed, you were sanctified, you were justified in name of the Lord Jesus Christ and by the Spirit of God‘. And that applies to homosexuals, male or female. Jesus changes all kinds of sinners.

Only this week (I’m writing on 21 May 2013), I have been in email contact with a redeemed lesbian whom I have known for 21 years, who has been wonderfully changed by the living Jesus and has no desire for a homosexual relationship and that has been her situation for the last 25 years. I don’t fall for Rudd’s line that people do not choose to be gay. God’s Word is clear that homosexuality is a sinful behaviour and when a person comes to Christ as Lord and Saviour for salvation, Jesus changes these people, including male and female homosexuals, from the inside out.

Kevin, it’s too late to tell me that homosexuals ‘do not choose to be gay’. They choose to be gay in the same sinful way that people choose to be heterosexually immoral, idolaters, adulterers, thieves, greedy, drunkards, slanderers and swindlers. It’s a sinful choice. However, all human beings are born with a propensity to sin. See the article, ‘Total depravity’, meaning comprehensive depravity of all human beings from conception.
Rudd stated on his homepage, ‘We have seen a range of social reforms over the decades where traditional, literalist biblical teachings have been turned on their head ‘. That social reforms have been changed does not repudiate a literalist interpretation, whether that is of Rudd’s article in The Australian, on his homepage, or in the Courier-Mail. It exposes the ‘social reforms’ for what they may be – a violation of God’s will.

3. Why literal interpretation is necessary


Rudd may accuse me of being a Bible literalist. This is what I am. I have been a committed evangelical Christian for the last 52 years and nowhere in the Bible can I read Rudd’s understanding of homosexuality. It is obvious that he is the one who is out of step with biblically accurate hermeneutics on the New Testament’s statements on the origin of homosexuality.

Rudd’s charge against literal interpretation of the Bible cannot be sustained. A literal interpretation is needed to understand what he writes. Then if he writes poetry, an allegory, a metaphor, a literal interpretation incorporates those views. This is how A Berkeley Mickelsen, expressed it in Interpreting the Bible,

“Literal” … means the customarily acknowledged meaning of an expression in its particular context. For example, when Christ declared that he was the door, the metaphorical meaning of “door” in that context would be obvious. Although metaphorical, this obvious meaning is included in the literal meaning (Mickelsen 1963:33).

4. Conclusion

I ask Kevin Rudd to reconsider these serious matters that challenge his changed position on homosexuality. His is not a biblical position. In addition, there are some serious consequences of a homosexual lifestyle. See the physical and sociological in my article, ‘Reasons to oppose homosexual marriage’. Here is an example from this article to conclude:

In Africa, ‘On average it is estimated that HIV infection rates amongst MSM (men who have sex with men) are four to five times higher than the population overall, with highs in certain areas’. [2]

The levels of promiscuity in the homosexual community also elevate the rates of sexually transmitted diseases (STDs).[3]


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


[1] Much of the content of this post I sent in an email to Kevin Rudd on 21 May 2013. I have made some additions and changed from second to third person in speaking about Kevin Rudd.

[2], July 25, 2008. Available at: AFRICA: Homophobia fuelling the spread of HIV (Accessed 21 May 2013).

[3] See this summary report, ‘The health risks of gay sex, by John R. Diggs Jr. M.D.


Copyright © 2013 Spencer D. Gear. This document last updated at Date: 29 October 2015.

Christianity in free fall: the Toronto blessing

Wednesday, June 13th, 2012


By Spencer D Gear

I urge you to view what happens when the Scriptures are abandoned and chaos sets in. Take a read of My Experiences with the Toronto Vineyard (Rick Friedrich of Michigan)

Why wasn’t there pastoral leadership that stopped this lunacy and called it for what it was – an erroneous view of Christianity. Correcting false doctrine seems to be low on the agenda of many in the church today. What Toronto (and Pensacola) descended into was something abhorrent.

I pray for God’s leaders to become just that – men and women who are not afraid to correct and stop false doctrine. As a result, in some of these churches there is still a movement of existential nonsense when some churches gather. Sound doctrine goes out the window!

What is existentialism in religion?


Rudolf Bultmann (courtesy Wikipedia)

I use the term ‘religion’ because it is a far cry from the self-denial and commitment of Jesus Christ. Existentialist religion happens when experience is given a prominent place. We saw an example with German liberal, Rudolf Bultmann (AD 1884-1976), when he de-mythologised the Bible in the 20th century. In his chapter on ‘modern biblical interpretation and existential philosophy’, he wrote:

Over and over again I hear the objection that de-mythologizing transforms Christian faith into philosophy. This objection arises from the fact that I call de-mythologizing an interpretation, an existentialist interpretation, and that I make use of conceptions developed especially by Martin Heidegger in existentialist philosophy (1958:45).

See, ‘Rudolf Bultmann: A critique’, for an assessment of Bultmann’s theology.

But what is existentialism?

(courtesy www.wrs.vcu. edu)


Wikipedia has a lay-level article on existentialism that tries to help our understanding of what is happening in philosophy, psychology and counselling, and in the Christian churches. This philosophy, which is alive and well in many evangelical and Pentecostal churches around the world, is defined thus:

Existentialism is generally considered to be the philosophical and cultural movement which holds that the starting point of philosophical thinking must be the individual and the experiences of the individual, that moral thinking and scientific thinking together do not suffice to understand human existence, and, therefore, that a further set of categories, governed by the norm of authenticity, is necessary to understand human existence. (Authenticity, in the context of existentialism, is being true to one’s own personality, spirit, or character.)…. Existentialists generally regard traditional systematic or academic philosophies, in both style and content, as too abstract and remote from concrete human experience.

When applied to the church, this means that your experience of Jesus is given primary importance. Where do biblical teaching and theology fit into existentialist Christianity? Existentialism is alive and well thanks to liberal Christianity and the Pentecostal-charismatic movement.

However, there is a supposed difference. Liberal Christianity denigrates the Scriptures and has a different view of God. Let’s look at a couple of examples.

1. One assessment of Bultmann’s view was, ‘One could not know much about God, only what God did for one. (When Macquarrie urged him to follow Tillich in using the philosophy of Being to reconstruct a purified theism, Bultmann could only confess: “I myself cannot conceive of an ontological basis.”) One could not do much for God, only gamble one’s life on his reality and on his power to uphold one. One could not say much to God, only give thanks and surrender’ (Edwards 1976). Bultmann himself wrote, ‘The invisibility of God excludes every myth which tries to make God and His action visible; God holds Himself from view and observation. We can believe in God only in spite of experience, just as we can accept justification [by faith] only in spite of conscience’ (Bultmann 1958:83-84). That description automatically excludes Jesus, the second person of the Trinity as God, and his visible actions in our world.

2. How about the Episcopalian, John Shelby Spong’s, view of God? He wrote, ‘I refer here to a deity who is “a being,” not even if we claim for God the status of the highest being. I speak rather of the God I experience as the Ground and Source of All Being and therefore the presence that calls me to step beyond every boundary…. I intend to demonstrate that probing this new God-possibility begins with a search for clues in our religious past…. The limits on the theistic definition of God have been present for centuries…. The theistic God of the past was created by us and in our own image? As I have suggested in a previous book, “If horses had gods would they not look like horses?’ (Spong 2001:60-61). See my analysis of this publication by Spong in, ‘Spong’s swan song – at last!

3. Listen to Paul Tillich! ‘If God is called the living, if he is the ground of the creative processes of life, if history has significance for him, if there is no negative principle in addition to him which could account for evil and sin, how can one avoid positing a dialectical negativity in God himself?… The anticipation of nothingness at death gives human existence its existential character (Tillich 1968:I 210).

The Pentecostal-charismatic movement, at least in theory, confirms the authority of Scripture and of the Lord God Almighty as revealed in the Bible. However, I have my questions after visiting the website of this leading Pentecostal church on Queensland’s Sunshine Coast, Kings Christian Church (Buderim) and the outreach church that is now known as Noosa Hillsong. A friend of mine who visited this Buderim church called it an ‘ex-church’. The Brisbane Courier-Mail (April 22, 2007) described Kings Christian Church as ‘a new brand of church’ in which this could happen on women’s day:

IN A new building in the Sunshine Coast hinterland a woman spoons froth off a cappuccino. On her left, a teenager has her nails buffed while a silver-haired grandmother deliberates between shades of pearl and puce.

“I’ll take the pearl polish this week,” says the elderly woman. “And I’d love another coffee.”

It’s ladies’ day at the Kings Christian Church, west of Maroochydore, and groups of women are seated around “pampering stations”.

As Pastor Steve Penny dons a headset and prepares to take the stage, the women receive free manicures and premium coffee in the church’s new $4.5 million Champions Centre.

In this article, Pastor Penny ‘says young people expect the latest equipment’. The Courier-Mail goes on to report,

Officials expect to turn heads at the Champions Centre official opening and six-car giveaway next Sunday. The cars, which have been advertised on TV, will be handed out before free pizza and ice cream.

There will be jumping castles, buggy rides and fireworks at the “Event Spectacular”.

Pastor Penny said the giveaways were a means of expressing the church’s interest in the community. He said money spent on cars was donated by members and would ultimately come back to the church.

That sounds awfully like the advertising I wrote in my former days as a radio/TV announcer and copywriter. It is worldly thinking. How would it stack up against the emphases of Jesus’ instructions on being a Christian disciple?

There is some further information about Kings Christian Church, Buderim. The Sunshine Coast Daily reported problems with this church in 2010: ‘Residents fed up with church noise’ (20 January 2010). Part of the article read:

A MAJOR youth conference at a Tanawha church designed to instil community values in the young has instead led to a community backlash over the “deafening” live music at the event.

Unresolved, long-standing issues over the regular live music that blares from the massive Kings Christian Church, which has a congregation of about 1500 and hosts numerous events, reached flashpoint on Monday when the inaugural four-day Queensland Youth Alive Conference opened.

Fed-up nearby residents said years of complaints to the church, Sunshine Coast council and police over the “pounding bass” emanating from the church had landed on deaf ears.

Up to 600 people are attending this week’s youth conference, although it is believed the church’s huge hall can accommodate 1000 people.

“The music started at nine this morning,” one resident said yesterday.

“I feel traumatised. I’m tired … very traumatised.”

Police have been called to the Crosby Hill Road address an astonishing 17 times since 2007 – mainly because of excessive noise and traffic complaints – but said its hands were tied because council had issued the venue with a permit to stage church meetings.

Therefore, the provisions of the Police Powers and Responsibilities Act did not apply, a police spokeswoman said.

Police were last called to the church on Monday night, but once again residents were left frustrated.

“I would prefer a brothel over there,” another resident said.

“A legalised brothel that was quiet would be better than this. You don’t behave like this under normal Christianity.”

James Macpherson, who recently took over as the church’s senior pastor but is currently based in Townsville, plans to meet with residents when he arrives on the Coast soon.

Mr Macpherson said the church should be a “blessing to the community”.

“So I’m happy to sit down with people and talk things through,” he said.

Jesus gave this solemn warning about the cost of discipleship. This is not the cost of emotionalism and falling over at a meeting. It is more than Christianity in free fall. Discipleship involves a serious commitment:

“Then Jesus told his disciples, “If anyone would come after me, let him deny himself and take up his cross and follow me. For whoever would save his life will lose it, but whoever loses his life for my sake will find it. For what will it profit a man if he gains the whole world and forfeits his soul? Or what shall a man give in return for his soul? (Matthew 16:24-26 ESV).

Related image(courtesy watchman4wales)

So existentialism and materialism are alive and well in this kind of Pentecostal-charismatic church. But also could it be catching on at Lifepointe Baptist Church, North Buderim?

Both the liberals and many Pentecostals emphasise an experience of God, but the experiences are radically different. Both can degenerate into existential encounters, one like Paul Tillich’s view and the other like the Toronto Blessing or Kings Christian Church.

Liberal Christianity and existentialism

Existentialists, in contrast to determinism and set rules or boundaries, want radical human freedom. German philosopher, Martin Heidegger, called any sort of determinism, ‘inauthenticity’. So, when human beings act freely rather than conforming to any church, conventional opinion, or the Scriptures, there is an unquestioned commitment to experience.

Erickson (1997:92) considers that experience is a presupposition, an unquestioned starting point. Erickson gave the example of Jean-Paul Sartre’s atheism: ‘There cannot be a god, for if there were, he would be a major encroachment on my freedom. I know, however, that I am free. Therefore, there is no God’.

Liberal theologian, Paul Tillich (AD 1886-1965), has tried to synthesise Protestant Christian theology with existentialist philosophy. See his Systematic Theology (1968) in which he stated:

The personal encounter with God and the reunion with him are the heart of all genuine religion. It presupposes the presence of a transforming power and the turn toward the ultimate from all preliminary concerns. Yet, in its distorted form, “piety” becomes a tool with which to achieve a transformation within one’s self (1968:II 99).

But who is his God/god? He stated that ‘”God has become man” is not a paradoxical but a nonsensical statement. It is a combination of words which makes sense only if it is not meant to mean what the words say’ (1968:II 109). He explains further,

Ground of Being

What liberalism does to missions

Take a read of this assessment of liberalism and missionary activities:

The relativistic scientific world view which underlies mainline liberalism finds it hard to be completely comfortable with the exclusiveness of the evangelical claim. Because of its respect for other religions, it is at best ambivalent about evangelization of non-Christians. Its witness is necessarily unaggressive witness, and it is far more comfortable with social witness (Hutcheson 1981).

Now look at the impact on missions when theological liberals are compared with conservative, evangelical organisations (in Erickson 1997:13):[1]

Number of foreign missionaries under appointment 1972 1988
Group A: Liberal in theology

1. American Baptist Churches

2. Episcopal Church

3. United Church of Christ

4. United Methodist Church

5. United Presbyterian Church, U.S.A.













Group B: Conservative Christian organisations

1. Evangelical Foreign Missions Association

2. Interdenominational Foreign Missions Association

3. Wycliffe Bible Translators

4. Southern Baptist Convention













Where are the sound doctrine and discernment promoted by these church leaders?

I’m saddened to speak like this, but we are called upon to uphold sound doctrine which comes from Scripture itself and not some existential experience. It is certainly true that those who repent of their sins and turn in faith to Jesus Christ alone for salvation, experience new life in Christ. See, ‘The content of the Gospel’.

The promotion of sound doctrine means that false teaching and ungodly manifestations will be stopped by church leaders.

What happened in that video above (Toronto ‘Blessing’) and what is happening in liberal and Pentecostal churches causes me to be ashamed to identify with a Christianity that will allow that kind of manifestation.

Related image(courtesy


Where are the people of discernment in these ‘churches’? This is biblical Christianity:

“He must hold firm to the trustworthy word as taught, so that he may be able to give instruction in sound [healthy] doctrine and also to rebuke those who contradict it” (Titus 1:9 ESV)


“Teach what accords with sound [healthy] doctrine” (Titus 2:1 ESV).

In the midst of Paul’s teaching on the gifts of the Spirit, he stated:

Do not be conformed to this world, but be transformed by the renewal of your mind that by testing you may discern what is the will of God, what is good and acceptable and perfect (Rom 12:2 ESV).

Then in 1 Corinthians we have this need when the gifts are manifested:

So with yourselves, since you are eager for manifestations of the Spirit, strive to excel in building up the church (1 Cor. 14:12 ESV)


Let the others weigh what is said (1 Cor 14:29 ESV)…. For God is not a God of confusion but peace (14:33)…. But all things should be done decently and in order (14:40).

When Toronto descended into what we saw on the video, we have the Word of God being violated because the people (especially the leaders) refused to implement what was taught in 1 Corinthians 14 and Romans 12.

Are we seeing here the fulfilment of 2 Timothy 4:3 and the movement away from sound or healthy teaching to accommodate people with itching ears? Could ‘itching ears’ include hair cuts, nail manicures, swimming pools and gyms?

I pray that Christian leaders will take the Scriptures seriously and stop this chaotic existentialism that happens in far too many churches. It is still going on around the world. I am a supporter of the continuing gifts of the Spirit, but I cannot promote this unbiblical chaos and movement away from sound teaching to existentialism and/or materialism – all in the name of the church.

Works consulted

Bultmann, R 1958. Jesus Christ and Mythology. London: SCM Press Ltd.

Edwards, D L 1976. Rudolf Bultmann: Scholar of faith (online). Christian Century, September 1-8, 728-730. Available at: (Accessed 13 June 2012).

Erickson, M J 1997. The evangelical left: Encountering postconservative evangelical theology. Grand Rapids, Michigan: Baker Books.

Hutcheson Jr., R G 1981. Crisis in overseas mission: Shall we leave it to the independents? (online) Christian Century, March 18, 290-296. Available at: (Accessed 12 June 2012).

Spong, J S 2001. A new Christianity for a new world: Why traditional faith is dying and how a new faith is being born. New York, NY: HarperSanFrancisco.

Tillich, P 1968. Systematic theology (combined volume of 3 vols). Digswell Place, Welwyn, Herts [UK]: James Nisbet & Co Ltd.


[1] Erickson (1997:13, n. 1) gained this information from two mission handbooks: Missions Handbook: North American Protestant Ministries Overseas (1973) and Missions Handbook: USA/Canada Protestant Ministries Overseas (1989).


Copyright © 2012 Spencer D. Gear. This document last updated at Date: 24 November 2015.



Hazardous waste put in our water as fluoride

Friday, June 8th, 2012

By Spencer D Gear


How is it possible that something that is labelled as ‘hazardous waste’ for a rubbish tip is placed in our water supply for the populace to drink?

I was provoked to consider more on this issue when I read this article. Please take a read of this news item from the central western town of Cowra in NSW (Australia), ‘Council counts high cost of unlawful waste disposal[1] (Cowra Community Times, 7 June 2012). Here it reports how the Bourke Shire Council has been fined $10,000 and ordered to pay court costs of $14,000 for ‘unlawfully transporting and disposing of hazardous waste at its own waste depot’. In addition, it has been ordered to pay ‘clean-up costs and risk-assessment reports totalling more than $30,000’.

The Council admitted it was guilty.

What was this “hazardous waste”? What was it that was dumped by the Bourke Council for which it was fined? It was the very chemical that the Blyth Labor Government forced into Queensland’s water supplies –sodium fluoride. Yes, the fluoride that is in our water supply is a toxic poison. I have had to install a reverse osmosis machine under my kitchen sink to remove fluoride from my household water because of what the Blyth government did in forcing this toxin, hazardous waste, fluoride into our water supply.

By the way, not all in the Queensland Labor Party agreed with this decision. See, ‘Labor branch opposes fluoridation’.

It will save the new Newman LNP government millions of dollars if it is removed.

If you don’t believe me on the dangers of fluoride in our water supply, check out Dr. Hardy Limeback, BSc, PhD, DDS. He is no dummy when it comes to dentistry and understanding the effects of fluoride.  He is a practicing dentist, has two doctorates (biochemistry and dentistry) and is Associate Professor and Head of Preventive Dentistry at the University of Toronto, Toronto, Canada.  Since April of 1999, he has “publicly decried the addition of fluoride, especially hydrofluosilicic acid, to drinking water for the purpose of preventing tooth decay”.

He summarises his reasons in his article, “Why I am now officially opposed to adding fluoride to drinking water”.

Why is it that about 98% of Europe does not put fluoride in the water supply?

Dr. Limeback has stated that there is now a better understanding of how fluoride prevents dental decay. What little benefit fluoridated water may still provide is derived primarily through application to the teeth orally, through brushing. Fluoride does not need to be swallowed to be effective. It is not an essential nutrient.

See the interview with Dr. William Hirzy of the Environmental Protection Agency in the USA about the bone cancer and rare liver cancer associated with fluoride digestion by rats and mice.

Dr Limeback noted in 2002, “Here in Toronto we’ve been fluoridating for 36 years. Yet Vancouver – which has never fluoridated – has a cavity rate lower than Toronto’s”.

Bourke Council has been fined for dumping the poisonous waste that we put into fluoridated water. What a paradox that we swallow it in water, but it is too toxic for the local waste dump.

To discover the dangers of sodium fluoride, you can Google ‘sodium fluoride + material safety data sheet‘ to find lots of information on the hazardous nature of sodium fluoride.

We should all spare a thought for the people of the Murrumba electorate and the rest of Queensland, whose water supplies have been dosed with Fluorodose: this is sodium fluoride that is put into public water-treatment tanks in 5 kg bags. The bags dissolve and the ‘lucky’ people of Queensland get to drink the dissolved bag as well as the poisonous fluoride – sodium fluoride that in the dump at Bourke NSW is considered hazardous waste.

This was an undemocratic decision forced on the people of Queensland by the Blyth government.


Since articles come and go from newspapers on the www, here is the article as it appeared in the Cowra Community News:

Council counts high cost of unlawful waste disposal[2]

BOURKE Shire Council has been convicted and fined $10,000 and ordered to pay prosecution costs of $14,000 after pleading guilty to unlawfully transporting and disposing of hazardous waste at its own waste depot.

It’s also been ordered to foot clean-up costs and risk-assessment reports totalling more than $30,000.

The Environment Protection Authority (EPA) brought the prosecution in Bourke Local Court after it became aware that council staff transported between 400 and 600kg of sodium fluoride, a hazardous waste, to the Bourke waste depot from its water treatment plant.

The court was told the incident occurred in October 2010 and that the waste depot was not licensed to accept hazardous waste.

The court found that while no environmental harm occurred on this occasion, there was potential for environmental harm and the actions of council employees had been careless.

EPA acting chief environmental regulator, Mark Gifford, says the case highlights the need for councils, in particular, to be aware of their legal obligations.

“In this case the evidence showed that council staff had considered the hazardous nature of sodium fluoride, but ultimately reached incorrect conclusions about how it should be disposed of,” Mr Gifford says in a statement.

“Sodium fluoride is classified as hazardous waste under the Protection of the Environment Operations Act.

“As such, the Bourke Shire Waste Depot is not able to accept this product.

“The fact that council’s staff were directed to transport the waste to council’s own waste depot is most concerning.

“The EPA received information that council had disposed of the sodium fluoride in the waste depot, launched an investigation and issued (the) council with a Clean-Up Notice.

“The Clean-Up Notice required (the) council to arrange for the sodium fluoride to be excavated and removed from the waste depot and transported to a hazardous waste facility.

“On top of the fine and costs order, (the) council has had to pay for clean-up costs and risk assessment reports totalling more than $30,000.” Mr Gifford says.


[1] See the Appendix for a copy of the full article.

[2] Available at: (Accessed 7 June 2012).


Copyright © 2013 Spencer D. Gear. This document last updated at Date: 28 October 2015.


The SIL controversy: Are Wycliffe Bible Translators and SIL being subversive?

Tuesday, March 6th, 2012

clip_image002(Images courtesy

By Spencer D Gear

In January–February 2012, there was an eruption in certain quarters about the translations of Father, Son and Son of God, that Wycliffe Bible Translators (WBT) and Summer Institute of Linguistics (SIL) are using for translations in countries that are mostly Muslim. I was alerted to this issue by a retired pastor friend who sent a group email to others and me  and he stated that this new Bible translation is “ABSOLUTELY SHOCKING!” (his emphasis)

He asked who had the right to change a biblical text for political correctness. He gave Revelation 22:18-19 for support (See Appendix A, below, for an interpretation that these verses do not apply to the entire Bible, but only to the Book of Revelation). These verses state:

I warn everyone who hears the words of the prophecy of this book: if anyone adds to them, God will add to him the plagues described in this book, 19 and if anyone takes away from the words of the book of this prophecy, God will take away his share in the tree of life and in the holy city, which are described in this book (ESV).

My pastor friend who wanted to apply these verses to all of Scripture, also used Psalm 12:1, 6-7 to support his claims of what happens when Scripture is changed, as SIL is alleged to be doing. He wanted to challenge SIL and stated that what it was doing was ‘blasphemous’ and he hopes that there is sufficient protest to cause the publishers to cease publication.

Why the kafuffle?

This pastor friend sent me a link to the article by Jihad Watch, 29 January 2012: ‘Report: American Bible translators bowdlerize scriptures to avoid offending Muslims: no “Father” and “Son”‘.

What are the issues? It was over WBT, SIL, and Frontiers for allegedly removing the words, Father, Son and Son of God, and replacing with different words in a translation for the Muslim world. Jihad Watch quoted an article from Yahoo! Contributor Network, ‘“Father” and “Son” ousted from the Trinity in New Bible Translations‘. This article claimed that

Concerned Christian missionaries, Bible translators, pastors, and national church leaders have come together with a public petition to stop these organizations. They claim a public petition is their last recourse because meetings with these organizations’ leaders, staff resignations over this issue and criticism and appeals from native national Christians concerned about the translations have failed to persuade these agencies to retain “Father” and “Son” in the text of all their translations.

Biblical Missiology, a ministry of Boulder, Colorado-based Horizon International, is sponsoring the petition.

The Petition

Based on the reactionary statements by my pastor friend, ‘absolutely shocking’ and ‘blasphemous’, I read no further and proceeded to sign my name to this public petition sponsored by Horizons International, Colorado, USA on its homepage.[1] Based on my further research, I emailed Horizons International and asked them to remove my name and address from the Petition as I am not convinced that the Horizons’ Petition is what I want to support, as I explain below.

Within 24-hours of asking for my name to be removed from the Petition, I have received 4 different email responses from around the world, from those associated with Horizons International and Biblical Missiology, including one from a pastor in the Arabic-speaking world. All of them opposed the WBT and SIL translations regarding God, Son, and Son of God in Muslim countries. These were some of their emphases:

  1. Native believers in Turkey and the Arab world ‘completely disagree’ with the Wycliffe translations.
  2. Former Muslims want the literal translation of Father and Son of God.
  3. ‘Wycliffe consistently refuses to address’ this issue.
  4. The claim that the NT Greek, huios (Son), should not be translated as ibn Allah (son of God), is ‘strange’ and is certainly not based on linguistics.
  5. All Christians want to communicate the clear meaning of the Bible, but what concerns us is the removing the words Son and Father from the biblical text as these are critical words to describe the nature of God and Christ.
  6. There should be no replacement words for Father and Son, such as Messiah, the one and only, the beloved of God, etc., that SIL is using.
  7. ‘The whole plan of salvation is at stake’ with the SIL translations.[2]
  8. God as Father is a most attractive attribute of God for Muslims.
  9. I have evidence of hundreds of Muslims who have become Christians, who have been attracted to the Fatherhood of God, rather than the stern image of Allah from Islam.
  10. The humble God who loves people enough to sacrifice his only Son drew many Muslims to Christ.
  11. One survey of 100 Muslim converts to Christ found that 85% said that the fatherhood of God drew them to Christ.
  12. No commentaries can explain adequately the nature of the Trinity and the Father-Son relationship. The matter is spiritual and has to be revealed to people.[3]
  13. Please don’t deny Muslims the translation of the intimate attributes of God and Jesus.
  14. Please do not be fooled by the words WBT-SIL has claimed.
  15. WBT state they are committed to accuracy, but then they remove Father and Son from the Middle Eastern Bible. This brings confusion. National churches are angry about what WBT are doing.
  16. It is a ‘shame’ that American Christianity is giving up on this doctrine of the Father and the Son.
  17. We, Horizons International/Biblical Missiology, are ‘legitimate’ and have found ‘many unfaithful translations’.[4]
  18. They want the Petition against WBT’s translations of Father and Son to cause WBT to think twice before eliminating Father and Son from translations.
  19. The issues are complex and translations shouldn’t be a commentary. In their view, they consider that Father should still be Father and Son to be Son as all cultures understand the Father-Son relationship.
  20. They can give further explanations in footnotes.
  21. The Pakistan Bible Society has severed relationships with WBT/SIL. The Presbyterian Church of Pakistan has objected to what WBT is doing.
  22. Before SIL makes changes to the current Bible translation it should ‘take into confidence all major Christian denominations and church leaders’.
  23. Church leaders in countries such as Pakistan, Bangladesh, Iran, Turkey and Malaysia have called for an end to the WBT translations of Father and Son, ‘but to no avail’.
  24. Those who speak Arabic, Turkish, Urdu, Bengali and other majority-Muslim languages reject the Wycliffe rationale for removing and redefining Father, Son, and Son of God.
  25. If the Holy Spirit does not apply the message to the person, passion for lexical work and exegesis will come to naught.[5]
  26. An underlying presupposition in this debate is that the problem with Muslims is ‘informational’, that by ‘massaging’ the message going to them, they will be more ready to come to the Lord. Historically, this involved the great divide between Augustine and Pelagius. This person wanted to place the blame with the assumption that a human being has an ability of choose Christ and correct information will help to guarantee that kind of result.[6]
  27. As for dynamic equivalence vs formal equivalence (literal), that is found in above-ground structures, but the stuff below the ground involves the doctrines of ability or inability (of a person to choose salvation or not to choose salvation in Christ). This person stated that it is always good to examine the foundation.[7]
  28. WBT dismisses the view that the disagreement is based on WBT presuppositions.[8]
  29. I, a person living in the Arabic world, have no problem using Allah for the God of the OT and NT as it is not disputed by Arabic Christians because Allah was used for God before Islam commenced.
  30. There is a long list of Turkish pastors (former Muslims) who have spoken out against the WBT-SIL translation into Turkish. There is no need to change it in 2012.
  31. What do you think Muslims could say when they note that Bible translations Christians have used for centuries with Son of God and Father are suddenly being changed?[9]

There are certainly some valid concerns expressed here

These include:

1. Since God, Son, and Son of God have been used in Arabic and other Middle Eastern translations for centuries, why change to dynamic equivalence now?

2. Since Allah was used for God before the entrance of Islam, it is valid to continue such use in modern translations.

3. The Father and Son relationship in the Trinity and its familial relationship, attract Muslims to Christianity when compared with the strict kind of monotheism of the Allah of Islam.

4. There is a mystery in the nature of the Trinity.

5. The Petition against the WBT-SIL translation of God, Son, and Son of God, has gotten a response from WBT-SIL and they have put a moratorium on all such translations which some linguistic experts examine the issue.

6. How does one determine if a translation is correct or incorrect?

7. Presuppositions are important in any kind of writing or translating.

8. When Christians change translations that are centuries old, Muslims could be suspicious about what they are doing.

In this article, I examine some of these matters.

Here is another opposing article against the WBT position, ‘Wycliffe Bible Translators accused of downgrading Jesus “for Muslim sensitivities”‘, which states: ‘There is absolutely no question of Wycliffe Bible Translators being engaged in some subversive activity to undermine the Christian faith in order to make Scripture somehow more palatable to Muslims’.

Subversive? Questionable, maybe! But this evangelical organisation (Wycliffe/SIL) that works closely with local churches when engaging in Bible translation in a new language group, could not be charged with being subversive as, to my knowledge, they are openly discussing translational issues with local churches. However, where these SIL translators are working is, and should remain, a secret for their own security.

After investigation, my conclusions are that WBT and SIL are not being subversive, undermining the Christian faith and being blasphemous, to make the Bible palatable for Muslims. What then are the issues?

My response

The main issues in this controversy seem to be:

(1) Are Wycliffe and SIL orthodox mission organisations? And

(2) How does a translator communicate the meaning of “son of God” in a new culture, especially a Muslim culture, where “son of God” would have a meaning quite different to what the Greek text states?

(3) Explaining to people in the receptor language that it is not the translation that is inspired of God, but the original documents.

Let’s be fair in our analysis of what is happening, by looking at these three issues:

(1) We know that WBT and SIL are orthodox evangelical organisations and from their statement of belief, they are clearly Trinitarian, stating in, Our Doctrine, that ‘we believe in one God, who exists eternally in three persons, the Father, the Son and the Holy Spirit’. Also, their view of Jesus, the Son, is orthodox as this statement from ‘Our Doctrine’ indicates:

We believe that Jesus Christ, the Son of God, born of the virgin Mary, is fully God and fully human; He demonstrated God’s love for sinners by suffering the penalty of death in their place, rose bodily from the dead and ascended to heaven where He intercedes for His people.

(2) When translators translate for a new culture, they want to convey the meaning, say, from the Greek NT to the new culture. This is a translational issue. ‘Son of God’ (huios tou theou) for the Muslims has a different understanding to what I understand, as I have been raised in orthodox, evangelical Christianity.  Since I’m an expository preacher, when a term such as Father, Son or Son of God appears in a text, I expound what it means after I’ve obtained the meaning from my Greek exegesis (grammar) and use of using Arndt & Gingrich Greek lexicon (1957) and the word studies of Kittel’s Theological Dictionary of the New Testament (10 vols, Kittel & Friedrich 1964-1976), Colin Brown’s New International Dictionary of New Testament Theology (3 vols, 1975-1978).

Bible translators don’t have the luxury of using more detailed exposition when translating. How do they communicate that message in a translation? Many of them translate meaning-for-meaning as is done in the NIV and NLT (New Living Translation). This type of linguistic translation makes sense to me in a new culture. In fact, I’m finding that new and older Christians love the NLT because it explains the meaning so simply.

I was experiencing this kind of translational problem in writing my PhD dissertation the day prior to writing this article, when I came across the German word, Sachkritik, that was used in an English volume (Thiselton 1980:266). I knew that it meant content-criticism but I was unsure what that meant exactly, so I went searching for its fuller meaning in order to better understand the dimensions of this word’s meaning. I found this, thanks to Tom (N T) Wright’s excellent work on the historical Jesus. Here is what I discovered:

Sachkritik is the criticism of a writer by an interpreter, using the inner logic of the interpreter’s own ideas. Wright (1992:56 n 21) explained that an example would be when Bultmann relativised Romans 9-11 based on the assessment that if Paul had thought through his ideas properly he would not have stated it that way. Others accused Bultmann of not following his own Sachkritik to its logical conclusions by still holding onto belief in the historicity of the cross when Bultmann maintained that most of the Gospels had to be demythologised and could not be trusted. In Sachkritik, the critic understands the thoughts of an author better than the author himself or herself (Wright 1992:101 n 35).

It is obligatory that interpreters of ancient texts allow the texts to speak for themselves, even if the interpreter is in disagreement with the texts’ statements. Sound methodology does not presume that a contemporary writer has a better understanding than the ancient author or another contemporary author, on what that author wanted to state.

Now, try putting that information into a small sentence to communicate with the people in the pew in Australia! It would be difficult enough for Aussies. Imagine how to do that for people in Syria or Rwanda. Because I read and have taught NT Greek, I know the difficulties of translating from one language to another.

I think that this is the kind of issue that SIL translators run into when trying to translate the Greek NT into a native language, wherever that might be in the world. How would I explain to an English speaker the meaning of Sachkritik with the simple translation of “content-criticism”. That’s not good enough in explaining what it really means. A simple explanation could be something like, “imposing the interpreter’s ideas on the text”. Since I’m examining J. D. Crossan’s historical Jesus in my dissertation, this is exactly what he does in rejecting physical miracles in the Gospels. He claimed that ‘miracles are not changes in the physical world so much as changes in the social world, and it is society that dictates, in any case, how we see, use, and explain that physical world’ (1994:82).

He’s saying that Matthew, Mark, Luke and John could not get it correct, but he can in his late twentieth-century publications by imposing his postmodern interpretation on the text.

(3) In considering the issue of dynamic equivalence translations of Father, Son, and Son of God, especially when sharing Christ with groups such as Muslims, I’m of the view that this issue of accuracy of meaning relates to what exactly is the meaning of ‘all Scripture’ in the verse, ‘all Scripture is breathed out by God’ (2 Tim. 3:16-17 ESV). In context, ‘all Scripture’ here refers to the OT, as the NT had not yet been compiled.

Is it a translation that is “breathed out by God” or is it the original biblical writing? Too many preachers and Christians make it refer to translations when in reality, only the original documents (known as the autographa), whether in Hebrew or Greek, are God-breathed. (See Greg Bahnsen’s article, ‘The inerrancy of the autographa’.)

It is not in any translation, but it is in the original Greek of the NT and the Hebrew of the OT, from which there are translational issues in whatever language one uses. We should not have to argue that a translation is the inerrant Scripture that is ‘breathed out by God’. It is not.

A brother in Christ who is in an Arabic-speaking nation witnessing to Muslims shared with me what is happening to him when he is witnessing for Christ on the streets with Muslims. He is concerned when Muslims compare translation with translation of the Bible in Arabic and say to him that the ‘the Bible is corrupted’. They use the SIL change of Father, Son, and Son of God to demonstrate to him that the Bible has changed and they have proof.  My brother in Christ said that these Muslims are correct when they compare a literal Arabic translation with a dynamic equivalence translation. They see two different meanings for a word or concept.

He wrote of a situation where he was in a situation among a group of Muslims and was trying to defend the Scriptures when the Muslims claimed a ‘corrupted’ Bible comparing literal versus dynamic equivalence Arabic translations. The Muslims were showing him verses from another translation that contradicted what he was preaching. He concluded that the Muslims were correct because Western translators had changed the scriptures in a well-meaning attempt to contextualise. His conclusion was that these translators had sinned against Muslims by damaging the reputation of the Word of God and that they should be ashamed for doing it.

But wait a minute! Is this brother being accurate with what he is saying to the Muslims about different Arabic translations? I don’t think he is, as the objections by the Muslims should lead to a discussion about translational models, especially dynamic equivalence and formal (literal) equivalence. Also, as I’ve indicated above, it is not the translation that is ‘breathed out by God’. That only applies to the original documents.

As an example, I face a similar problem with the New International Version’s translation of the Greek, hilasmos, in places like 1 John 2:2; 4:10, as ‘atoning sacrifice’ for our sins, when I understand that it means ‘propitiation’ (see ESV). The New Living Translation uses “the sacrifice that atones“, but this is inadequate if it means ‘appeasing the wrath of God’.[10] In commenting on 1 John 2:2 and noting the different translations of hilasmos as ‘propitiation’ (KJV, NKJV, RV, ASV, NASB, Moffatt), ‘expiation’ (RSV[11]), ‘atoning sacrifice’ (MLB, NIV), and ‘remedy for the defilement of our sins’ (NEB), Simon Kistemaker (1986:252-255) notes that

God initiated his love to a sinful world by giving his Son to cover sin and remove guilt…. With his atoning sacrifice, Christ removes sin and guilt…. Hilasmos … describes an action performed by Jesus Christ that appeases God the Father. A noun with a –mos ending denotes action; a noun with a –ma ending indicates the result of that action.

However, another evangelical, exegetical commentators, such as R. C. H. Lenski (1966:399-401), prefer the translation of ‘expiation’ to ‘propitiation’, particularly when compared with the only other NT appearance is in 1 John 4:10.[12] The Link & Brown (1978:162-163) word study states that

words of the hilaskomai word-ground fit in naturally with the terminology of blood, cleansing, and sin (1 Jn. 1:7ff) and come naturally to anyone familiar with this area of the thought-world of the LXX…. Atonement is not regarded as something that man does to God, but rather as the expression of God’s love to men (1 Jn. 4:10).

So, it is not clear whether an expiation or propitiation meaning should be used in 1 John 2:2; 4:10. If I were preaching on this, I would give the issues for either translation and if I were uncertain (as I now am) I would tell the people this conclusion.

I am of the view that the fuller explanation of what the word means should not be left to translators, as they require the use of minimal words. It should be done by biblical expositors (preachers) of whom there are not many in my part of the world. I find few pastors locally who have a fair understanding of NT Greek or OT Hebrew. My local pastor does know his Greek reasonably well.

From this brother in a Arabic-speaking country who is witnessing for Christ to Muslims who are saying that “the Bible is corrupted”, I am persuaded that any pastor, evangelist or translator must get back to saying something like, ‘It is the Bible in the original documents that is inspired Scripture and not any Arabic/English translation. Let’s see what that word means in the Hebrew or Greek’. However, when on the streets it is not possible to engage in the kind of discussion needed to understand the nuances of a Greek or Hebrew word.

Equivalence translations

I’ve given this extensive explanation as it is what I’ve been working on in my dissertation and it is relevant to the Wycliffe and SIL controversy. I have deep sympathies for what the SIL translators want to do to convey accurate meaning in the Muslim world. A word-for-word translation of, for example, “Son of God”, doesn’t communicate the meaning of the Greek text to Muslims. By using a different kind of translation to convey this meaning, is not engaging in compromise, but is engaging in necessary dynamic equivalence translation principles. A more literal, word-for-word, translation is known as formal equivalence.

The Simply Bible website explains dynamic equivalence:

Translation is not accomplished by merely substituting words in a word-for-word equivalence. More often than not, this will not produce the force (or dynamic) of meaning. The translator will therefore modify the form of words so as to achieve the same force of meaning. The jargon for “the same force of meaning” is “dynamic equivalence”.

Strict formal equivalence means

translates word-by-word, matching each Hebrew or Greek word with one or more English words. Strict formal equivalence would produce very difficult English.

For an explanation of the differences between formal and dynamic equivalence, see the article by Vanessa Leonardi.

This is how a literal, Greek-to-English translation of John 3:16 reads in English, “Thus for he loved the God the world so that the son the only begotten he gave that all the believing into him not he/she may not perish but he may have life eternal”. That is word-for-word and in English that would not be acceptable as a translation. It does not make grammatical sense in my native language of English.

This is how the dynamic equivalence of the New International Version translates it: “For God so loved the world that he gave his one and only Son, that whoever believes in him shall not perish but have eternal life.”

This is how the dynamic equivalence of the New Living Translation translates it: “For God loved the world so much that he gave his one and only Son, so that everyone who believes in him will not perish but have eternal life.”

Even though these two translations do not give literal word-for-word as I gave with my unintelligible literal translation from Greek to English of John 3:16, the NIV and NLT do not violate translational, linguistic requirements for a meaning-for-meaning translation. Surely you want your Egyptian people to understand the meaning of the OT and NT. Dynamic equivalence is a linguistic valid means of accomplishing that. I do it when I preach an expository sermon. Why should not an Arabic translation allow dynamic equivalence. Do you object to dynamic equivalence? If so, I’d be pleased if you would tell me why dynamic equivalence, as opposed to formal equivalence, is not a valid means of translating from one language to another.

Some further aspects to consider

A person who is opposed to the Wycliffe, SIL, Frontiers translation, wrote to me, ‘Are you really of the opinion that “khalifatullah” (caliph of God) is an acceptable translation of “Son of God” in Arabic? Isn’t that worthy of protest?’

My response was “Yes” and “No”. I also shared the following, which are some further things I keep in mind:

1. SIL has suspended printing the very few translations with controversial renderings while the dialogue progresses with competent and responsible translation consultants and biblical scholars. That seems to show integrity and wisdom on behalf of Wycliffe, SIL and Frontiers.

2. I read, translate and have taught NT Greek. I know from practical translation experience that strict agreement in the receptor language (RL) of every occurrence of the same term in the source language (SL) has been repeatedly shown to be problematic and could introduce zero meaning, or wrong meaning (error). Even the KJV didn’t do it, often translating the Hebrew “sons of Israel” as “children of Israel” (about 140 times) because the translators knew the term in certain passages referred to the collective group, and not just the males.

3. Think of translations that always translate the highly diverse meanings of the Greek, sarx as “flesh”, even in passages where it means “humanity” in some contexts, or “human nature” in others. An example would be, “All flesh shall see the salvation of God” (Luke 3:6 ESV). The New Living Translation has correctly translated the meaning as, “All people will see the salvation sent from God”. This kind of translational difficulty has proven to be confusing to today’s generation that was not raised in the church to learn this highly artificial sense of English “flesh”—which, if we are honest, does not have the same extended or figurative senses that the Greek has.

4. “Kingdom of God” is another term that highlights different aspects of the kingdom in different contexts. Sometimes the focus is on God’s ultimate sovereignty, or on God’s people on earth, or on God’s authority on earth, or on God’s influence, or on God’s salvation for His people, etc. I once read some research that there were over 30 senses of understanding the phrase “kingdom of God”. All you need to do is read the Greek word studies of basileia (kingdom) in Colin Brown’s (ed) New International Dictionary of New Testament Theology[13] to understand the diversity of meaning of “king” and “kingdom”. What do we do in languages where the people have no kings or kingdoms? Always using a single rendering for the “kingdom of God” in all contexts can skew the focus and obscure the point of the passage.

5. It is somewhat misleading to ask something like, “What has SIL done in this particular translation?” SIL has not done anything. Individual SIL translators discussing things with local translators trying to follow recognised and accepted translation principles, have explored what might be the best rendering in that passage in that language. The checks and balances of accountability through the external checking processes that SIL uses, have said “let’s not publish this yet; we still need to think about this; and we need to think about the implications”.

6. In all of this controversy I have not seen any indication that any translation wants a single alternate rendering to always be used for all occurrences of “Son of God”. Therefore, it is highly misleading to assume or imply that khalifatullah is an across-the-board replacement for “Son of God”, as the person who contacted me seemed to be suggesting.

7. I have spoken with a friend who knows a little Arabic and he told me that khalifatullah is actually more likely a candidate for “Christ” or “Messiah”, than for “Son of God”. If this is so, it seems like a reasonable possibility to consider for “the anointed one”, “the chosen one”, “the special one”, “the one designated from long ago”. Does this person know his facts are correct about the translation of khalifatullah that Wycliffe/SIL is using?

8. I won’t second guess a translation team without having all the facts. That would be both irresponsible and unfair.

9. I have asked for my name to be removed from the petition instigated by Horizons International. They would not do that for me, even though this organisation was the one that instigated the petition. I was directed to and asked them to do this, because the issues are bigger than this attempt to denigrate Wycliffe/SIL/Frontiers.

10. When translating from a SL to a RL, it can be so difficult when trying to gain the best meaning in the RL. I’m willing to give some space for this thing to play itself out, and trust that the translation consultants involved with Wycliffe & SIL will give wise guidance and counsel to the very few teams even considering contextualised options on this issue. And I am willing to pray for that wisdom on their behalf.

11. I continue to find that it is irresponsible to paint all translators and those that support them with the same broad brush. It is detrimental to the kingdom (in several senses of the word).

Should Allah be used for Jehovah God?

I have addressed this topic in my article, ‘Is the God of Islam the same God as Elohim of the Christian Scriptures?

There are a few other issues that need examination.

I made the following statement to the Arabic pastor who contacted me: ‘I do not agree with the Hebrew and Greek words from OT and NT for God being translated as Allah, because the Muslim concept of Allah, a Unitarian god, is not the Trinitarian Lord God Almighty whom I worship’. Is this short-sighted of me to conclude that Allah does not coincide with Jehovah/Yahweh?

On 10th February 2012, I received an email from this pastor who wrote: ‘In all Arab Bibles, Allah is the word for God. This is not disputed by Arab Christians. It was actually the Arabic-Christian word for God even before Islam came into existence’.

Origin of Allah

So, is it appropriate for the Christian to speak of Allah as equivalent to the Almighty God of the Judeo-Christian Scriptures? This is what a research investigation found. I am particularly indebted, but not exclusively so, to Robert Morey’s, Islam Unveiled (1991:45f) for alerting me to the following information that exposes the origin of Allah as coming from the ‘cult of the moon-god’ (although this is questioned by others sources). These are but a few references to demonstrate this point:

1. The word, Allah, is from the Arabic, al-ilah, where ‘al’ is the definite article, ‘the’, and ‘ilah’ is the Arabic word for ‘god’. There is no Allah in OT Hebrew or NT Greek, so Allah refers to an Arabian deity (Morey (1991:45-46).

2. A well-known Scottish Middle Eastern scholar, H A R Gibb[14], stated:

From the Koran itself it is clear that monotheistic ideas were familiar in Western Arabia. The existence of a supreme God, Allah, is assumed as an axiom common to Mohammed and his opponents. The Koran never argues the point; what it does argue is that He is the one and only God. La ildha illcfllah “there is no god but Allah”. But it is more doubtful whether this is to be regarded as the direct deposit of Christian or Jewish teaching (Gibb 1962:38).

3. The ‘Answering Islam‘ website states: ‘Some people argue that Allah is the moon-god[15] of the pagan Arabs before the advent of Islam. Whatever the merits of this theory, there is a clear consensus: the name “Allah” is not unfamiliar to the Arabs. Muhammad was not bringing a message about a new and so far unknown God’.

4. Dr Arthur Jeffery, a leading Western professor of Semitic languages at Columbia University (USA) wrote, ‘The name Allah, as the Quran itself is witness, was well known in pre-Islamic Arabia. Indeed, both it and its feminine form, Allat, are found not infrequently among the theophorous names in inscriptions from North Africa’ (Jeffery 1958:85).

5. According to Hastings’ Encyclopedia of Religion and Ethics, Allah is a pre-Islamic name that corresponds to the Babylonian Bel (Hastings, 1908:326)

6. The Encyclopedia of Islam stated that ‘the Arabs, before the time of Mohammed, accepted and worshipped, after a fashion, a supreme god called allah’ (Houtsma 1913:302).

Are you getting the picture? The name of allah was not new to Islam through Muhammad’s prophecies from AD 622, the year in which Muhammad went from Mecca to Medina. See ‘a brief history of Islam‘.

What are the differences between Allah and Jehovah?

Ergun M Caner & Emir F Caner are former Muslims who have come to know Christ as Lord and Saviour and were disowned & disowned by their father because they became Christian (Caner & Caner 2002:15). They are ‘former insiders who are now Christians’ and have written, Unveiling Islam (2002) and state that

orthodox, biblical Christianity assumes the existence of truth. Truth implies the existence of error, and mutually exclusive claims of truth cannot both be correct. Such is the case with Islam and Christianity. Either Islam is correct in the assumption that “there is only One God, Allah, and Muhammad is His prophet,”[16] or Christianity is correct when Jesus says, “I am the way, the truth, and the life. No one comes to the Father except through me” (John 14:6).[17] They cannot both be correct (2002:16).

They tell of the memorial service held in a baseball stadium a few days after the bombing of the World Trade Center and the Pentagon on 11 September 2001. Oprah Winfrey, the American talk show host was there, as was a Christian minister who began, ‘We pray in the name of our God-the God of Christianity, Judaism and Islam’ (Caner & Caner 2002:102). Is Allah the God of Christianity, Judaism and Islam? Is Jehovah/Yahweh the God of Islam, Christianity and Judaism?

Here is a list of contrasts that Caner & Caner (2002:102-119)[18] present of the differences between Allah and the Judeo-Christian God (Elohim/Jehovah/Yahweh)

The nature of Allah

The nature of Jehovah

1. ‘Abraham was not a Jew, nor yet a Christian; but he was an upright man who had surrendered (to Allah), and he was not of the idolaters’ (Surah 3:67) 1. Abraham was the founding father of the Jewish nation, Israel (see Ex. 2:24-25; 32:28; Acts 7:2-8).
2. Is Allah the Triune God? If he isn’t, we are not referring to the same God. Surah 112states,’1 Say: He is Allah, the One!2 Allah, the eternally Besought of all!3 He begetteth not nor was begotten.4 And there is none comparable unto Him. 2. The Trinity[19]. God is one (Deut. 6:4, Isa. 44:6, Rom. 3:30, 1 Cor. 8:6, Eph. 4:6, 1 Tim. 1:17). God Trinity (Matt. 28:19, 1 Cor. 12:3-6): the Father is God (Rom. 8:15, Gal. 4:6, 2 Cor. 6:18, Eph. 4:6; 5:19-20, 1 John 3:1); Jesus is God (John 1:1-4; 5:18; 20:28-31, Col. 2:9, Hebrews 1:8; the Holy Spirit is God(John 15:26, Acts 5:3-4, 1 Cor. 2:10-11, 1 Cor. 12:4-6).
3. Allah has no son (see Surah 19:88-92). 3. There are a number of New Testament verses that affirm that God has a Son, Jesus Christ. See: Matt. 1:18-20, Luke 1:34-35, John 3:16, Gal. 4:4-5,
4. Allah is not the vicarious Redeemer[20], the atoning Lamb of God who takes away the sins of the world.[21] ‘Al-Ghaffar, the Pardoner (71:10). As “Pardoner,” Allah conceals and overlooks sins. He turns in forgiveness to whomever repents, even to someone who has committed deep sin (shirk). But Allah only conceals sin. Islam does not have the concept of cleansing from guilt’ (Caner & Caner 2002:112). See Surah 4:99-100 for Allah, the Pardoner. 4. God the Redeemer (See Isa. 44:6; 49:7, Col. 1:14, Titus 2:14, Heb. 9:11-12). By redemption, we mean that sinners are in bondage to sin and to Satan and someone needs to redeem them from bondage & the idea of ‘ransom’ is in view, the ransom being the price paid to redeem someone from captivity. Jesus said, ‘For even the Son of Man came not to be served but to serve, and to give his life as a ransom for many’ (Mark 10:45). Paying the ransom for redemption is not assigned to the work of Allah.

Therefore, it is promoting falsehood to state that the nature of the Muslim God, Allah, is same as the nature of the Judeo-Christian God, Yahweh. We are speaking of two different views of God.

However, it is quite common for English-speaking people to enter a gathering where there are two people of the same first name in the group but nobody with confuse them by saying they have the same identity. John Smith is a different person from John Jackson (both names are my invention), but they both have the same first name in a group of friends, ‘John’. I appreciate that there are greater fundamental differences between the deities of Allah and Jehovah and my view would be to find a translational equivalent for Jehovah God in a Bible translation that is different from the translation of Allah in that language. Why? To avoid issues like that involved in the Wycliffe-SIL controversy.

There is a further essential doctrine that Wycliffe-SIL must not confuse in its translations and that is the nature of the Trinity – God the Father, God the Son, and God the Holy Spirit (see comparison above).

See, ‘The true origin of Allah: The archaeological records speak‘.

What are SIL translators and administrators saying about this?

I wrote to an SIL translator whom I know, who is translating in a native language, and he said that there were only 1-2 translators that he knew of who were trying to communicate the meaning of ‘Son of God’ to an almost 100% Muslim community in language that some English speakers find objectionable. My friend wrote:

I am not aware of any issues with ‘Father’, and the actual controversy is relating to translation of the term ‘Son of God’.

To put things in perspective, this controversy is only relevant to a very small group of translators working in nearly 100% Muslim groups trying to find innovative ways to break through some of the stumbling blocks that prevent many Muslims from even considering the message of the Injil (gospel). Even in those situations, most Bible translators err on the conservative and safe side of a faithful and literal rendering of the original text. Only a few are even considering other possibilities. Even fewer are actually arguing for other renderings, and these are the squeaky wheels that are the source of the public controversy (but the Jihad Watch stuff is badly and inaccurately misrepresenting the issues, and it shouldn’t be propagated). I have only actually heard of one or two individuals who think some alternate renderings might be a good idea.

A core part of AuSIL’s[22] identity is deliberate partnering with churches. Where we work in AuSIL,… this controversy is NOT a relevant issue; we follow the original text relating to translating the term ‘the Son of God’; and we preserve the familial father-son relationship as a high-level recurring metaphor theme throughout the whole of Scripture, and in accord with established principles of translating any recurring metaphor theme—regardless of how unfamiliar it might be (e.g. grapevines, Lamb of God, shepherd, high priest, king, etc.). We accept that some aspects of the gospel will, by their very nature be ‘stumbling blocks’ to different social groups (Paul wrote a bit about that). Many (I think most, nearly all) mainstream translators and consultants do not support the suggested innovations for technical reasons, and the debate is vigorous and on-going, but not directly impacting us in AuSIL. It would be grossly irresponsible and an unwarranted generalisation to paint all Bible translators and those who support them with the same brush.

I emailed Barry Borneman, CEO of Wycliffe Australia, and he has given me permission to share my translator friend’s response and Barry’s own response to the controversy. Barry wrote:

Thank you for taking the time to write and send your concerns surrounding translation in a Muslim context. Since the petition has been circulating we have been getting many enquiries from long-time supporters of Wycliffe and the Bible translation movement. We definitely appreciate the enquiries rather than simple acceptance of the claim in the petition.

The accusation would also concern me and I can assure you that you do not need to be disappointed. Wycliffe is not translating ‘a Muslim friendly’ Bible by omitting key family relational terms to describe the relationship between the father and Jesus.

For a Wycliffe Global Alliance response to this accusation I suggest you read an article by Susan Van Wynen entitled The Wycliffe Global Alliance Speaks to Issues of Contextualization at

Susan is writing on behalf of the Wycliffe worldwide Bible translation movement though the article is written into primarily into a USA audience. In the article Wycliffe affirms the following:

The Wycliffe Global Alliance organisations and their personnel are not omitting or removing the familial terms, translated in English as “Son of God” or “Father,” from any Scripture translation. Erroneous information and rumours on the internet have recently raised questions concerning this issue.

Wycliffe never has and never will be involved in a translation which does not translate these terms. To say that we are removing any familial terms from the Bible is simply not true. Wycliffe continues to be faithful to accurate and clear translation of Scripture. The eternal deity of Jesus Christ and the understanding of Jesus’ relationship with God the Father must be preserved in every translation.

Wycliffe personnel from nations around the world are committed to working alongside language communities and other partners to translate God’s Word with great care from the original languages of Scripture into the languages of the world’s people so that all may know the redeeming love and glory of the Father, Son and Holy Spirit.

Like you, I love the work of Wycliffe Bible translation and have committed my last 32 years to serving in the Bible translation movement. You can be assured Wycliffe Australia takes its commitment to the Word of God and the authority of the Scriptures very seriously.

If you are wanting an in depth assessment of the issue you may want to go to Translation into a local language and culture is a specialized and difficult task and in all cases we aim for accuracy to the original meaning and clarity of language. This has not changed since Wycliffe first started translating and remains our objective today.

However, my SIL translator friend emailed me on 7 February 2012, with the news that, since this controversy has erupted, Wycliffe-SIL ‘has just put a moratorium on publishing scriptures with the alternate phrasings to “the Son of God” under debate in the very few cases where it is relevant, while the translation experts take the time to sort things out and try to get on the same page on this. Pray for them’.

This report from the Christian Post stated:

Wycliffe Bible Translators denied allegations that it removed the terms “father” and “son” from Bible translations meant for Muslim countries and said any problematic texts are no longer being distributed.

Russ Hersman, senior vice president of Wycliffe Bible Translators USA, told The Christian Post that many of the works that critics like the organization Bible Missiology have pointed to as changing familial terms for God and Jesus have either done no such thing or have already been pulled from circulation.

“[Lives of the Prophets] was an audio drama that originally substituted inadequate familial terms in the mid-1990s. Since that time, the translation has been removed from circulation and will not be re-released until it has been corrected and revised,” said Hersman (Gryboski 2012).

It’s sad that this has to happen because the concept of translating meaning-for-meaning of, say, ‘Son of God’, is necessary to convey accuracy to people who have a very different understanding of the literal ‘son of God’ language.

I’m supportive of Wycliffe and SIL on this one. They are trying to communicate the meaning of a word or phrase from the biblical languages and people seem to be confusing WBTs beliefs with a method of translation. Here’s an article that helps to explain some of the issues in “The Son of God in the Bible and Qur’an“.

Some issues with older translations

Consider some of the challenges we face with accepting the translation of the KJV. The Greek, katargew, is found 27 times in the Textus Receptus NT from which the KJV is translated (The KJV is actually a revision and not an original translation), but it has translated katargew in 18 different ways, including abolish, cease, cumber, deliver, destroy, do away, become (make) of no (none, without) effect, fail, loose, bring (come) to naught, put away (down), vanish away, make void.

Also in the KJV, one English word is used to translate several Greek or Hebrew words. So variations of different meaning that are important for a correct understanding of the meaning of a passage, are not made clear. Take the word, ‘trouble’. The KJV has used this one word to translate about a dozen different Greek words. The word, ‘bring’, is used to translate 39 Hebrew words. The KJV uses the one word, ‘destroy’, to translate 49 Hebrew words (I obtained this information from Metzger 2001:74-75).

I recommend Metzger (1992) for a scholarly understanding concerning the textual issues in Scripture. This evangelical scholar with an international reputation takes a different view to those who oppose dynamic equivalence. I am closer to Metzger’s understanding. Metzger is now in the presence of the Lord whom he served so faithfully in this difficult area.[23]

An SIL translator provided me with this comparison of English with Indonesian languages and the translations that SIL have made:

To get down to actual evidence in English-Indonesian, *anak = “offspring, child” unmarked for gender [a very stable etymon across 1,200 languages]; gender is known from the name (e.g. John, Susan) or from gendered activities (e.g. weaving, building). In a few verses we also specify the gender, but that is a highly marked construction, and only on first mention in a discourse (for example in John 1:1-18, the male gender is only mentioned once—but it is there; more than that would be heavy, unnatural, and unnecessary, John wouldn’t have written it more often if he had been writing in these languages).

Just as English sibling terms mark gender but not relative age (sister/brother), English-Indonesian sibling terms mark relative age, but not gender (elder sibling/younger sibling). So there is an inherent mismatch with the Greek semantics, but when we do community testing, all the necessary information is there.

(Note that these examples below are all recent/current Wycliffe translations in a Muslim dominated country. ISO codes are provided for language identity.)

Amarasi     [aaz]:   Uisneno In Anah = God’s Child/Son

Buru           [mhs]:  Oplahtala nake Anat = God’s Child/Son

Dhao          [nfa]:   Ana Ama Lamatua = Child/Son of Father Lord/Father God

Helong       [heg]:  Ama Lamtua Allah Ana  = Father Lord God’s Child/Son

Kupang      [mkn]: Tuhan Allah pung Ana  = God’s Child/Son

Tetun        [tet]: Na’i Maromak Oan = [honorific: Lord/Master] God’s Child/Son

All of these languages are as close to the literal Gk ho huios tou theou as the semantics of the languages allow without over-translating, skewing the focus, and forcing things to be badly unnatural.

I also find it a bit hard to accept the accusation that “Wycliffe consistently refuses to address…”[24], particularly since they are addressing it publicly, have been addressing it for over a year, and are spending good money to get some of the best translation consultants in the business together to talk about it – which is an on-going dialogue.

How could Wycliffe and SIL fix this controversy?

I am not a translation authority with the experience of WBT and SIL translators, but I’m simply a committed Christian who exegetes and translates the Greek NT into ordinary English for my study and preaching. I would make 4 simple recommendations:

  1. Continue the dynamic equivalence translational philosophy of translating meaning-for-meaning. It’s the best way of translation for any culture if we want to understand the meaning of the original biblical languages. BUT …
  1. With each of these controversial items of translation, use a footnote that states something such as, ‘The original was “Son of God”, but this means […]’. Make sure to give the bibliographical references that cause SIL to make this translation.
  1. When WBT or SIL translators or representatives speak at local churches, convey the understanding from points #1 and #2. However, there will always be those in local churches who will not accept dynamic equivalence as a valid method of translation. This is especially so among congregations that have been taught the supremacy of the Textus Receptus, and by extension, the KJV as the best translation. When I receive this opposition, I give them a word-for-word literal translation in English of John 3:16, directly from Greek to English (see above). Then I ask, ‘Do you know of any English translation that gives this kind of literal translation?’ The answer is obviously, ‘No’. Then I exhort, ‘Then please give the Bible translators the liberty to convey the meaning of the Greek text in an English text that is meaningful, just like you expect from English translations of John 3:16. Meaning-for-meaning translation from one language (source language) to another language (receptor language) represents the sanest way to do Bible translation. Give that same liberty to WBT and SIL that we give to the translators of the known English translations of the KJV, Douay-Rheims, NKJV, NIV, ESV, NASB, NAB, NJB, REB, NRSV and NLT’.
  1. However, I believe that Wycliffe-SIL must continue to promote this theology: The orthodox doctrine of the Trinity must NOT be compromised by any translator. Here is a sample of articles that promote the orthodox doctrine of the Trinity that Wycliffe-SIL must continue to promote in their dynamic equivalence translations:

I consider this to be a reasonably simple response that could begin to solve some of the current controversy.

Appendix A

The NIV translates ‘this book’ (Rev. 22:18 ESV) as ‘this scroll, which more accurately conveys the meaning of the Greek, tou bibliou. There was no understanding of twenty-first century books in the first century when the Book of Revelation was written. The verses of Revelation 22:18-19 are not referring to the entire Bible, as the whole New Testament had not been collected into the canon of Scripture at the time the Apocalypse was written, which is estimated to be about the years AD 81-96 (Ladd 1972:8)[25].

These two verses apply to the Book of Revelation. It’s sad when a pastor doesn’t know that these two verses were written to apply directly and only to the Apocalypse. Alan F. Johnson’s (1981:602-603) commentary makes it clear that these two verses only apply to the Book of Revelation:

These verses should not be taken as a warning against adding anything to the Bible. Early interpreters understood them as a warning to false prophets not to alter the sense of John’s prophecy—i.e., Revelation (so Irenaeus Contra Haereses[26] 5.30.1[27])…. Verses 18-19 are a strong warning against any one who would tamper with the contents of ‘this book’ (Rev), either textually or in its moral and theological teaching (cf. 1 Cor. 16:22).

Kaiser et al’s (1996:783-784) comments are responsible:

1. There is no certainty that the Book of Revelation was the last book of the whole Bible to be written. Some date Revelation as early as AD 68 and books such as 2 Peter, Jude, Gospel of John and the Epistles of John were later still.[28]

2. When John wrote, the Jews had not concluded discussion of ‘their own canonical issues’. While there was discussion by them, AD 70-90, and some discussions at the rabbinic centre of Jamnia, there is no evidence that the shape of the Jewish canon changed as a result of these deliberations.

3. The Book of Revelation was written before there was any sense of a NT canon. No evidence is available that suggests that John had seen another written Gospel (besides his own) and it was two centuries before a fixed selection of books was considered for inclusion in the canon.

4. While the Apocalypse is the last book in English translations of Scripture, in the first three centuries of the church, there was a shifting of the placing of Revelation, some rejecting it entirely, while some put 1-2 Clement after Revelation. Others put it earlier in the list that was to become the NT canon. ‘There is no reason to think that this verse would have come almost at the end of the Bible for most Christians until the fourth century’ (Kaiser et al. 1996:783).

Kaiser et al (1996:783) concluded that John’s curse at the end of the Book of Revelation

stands as a warning. Its true literal sense applies only to his own book, Revelation, but given that similar concerns were shared by Paul[29] and others it is reasonable to argue that none of the writers of Scripture would have agreed to tampering with their works.

George Ladd (1972:295) stated that the form of the warning of these verses comes from Deut. 4:2 and is not meant to apply to the whole Bible, but was John’s way of authenticating the prophecy of Revelation. John is not concerned about mechanical errors in transmission or mistakes in interpretation, but is referring to ‘deliberate distortions and perversions of it’.

One of the most prominent NT Greek language grammarians and exegetes of the twentieth century was A. T. Robertson. He wrote of Rev. 22:18,

This warning is directed against perversions of this book, not about the New Testament or the Bible as a whole, though it may be true there also. Surely no warning was more needed when we consider the treatment accorded the Apocalypse, so that Dr. Robert South said that the Apocalypse either found one crazy or left him so (Robertson1933:487)

Robert Mounce’s (1977:395-396) commentary on Revelation contends that the severe warning against adding to or taking away from ‘the book’ applies to John’s prophetic message. It was address to future scribes who could tamper with the text and to members of the 7 churches to which the Book of Revelation was addressed, where the book would have been read aloud. ‘The warning is against wilful distortion of the message. I tis not unlike Paul’s stern words in Galatians 1:6, 7 to those who would pervert the gospel’ (1977:395).

Conservative, dispensationalist commentator, Robert Thomas, observed that it ‘is true that this warning [Rev. 22:18-19] applies specifically to the book of Revelation only, but by extension it entails the termination of the gift of prophecy and the NT canon also’ (1995:518). Thomas is a cessationist with regard to the gifts of the Spirit and the view that this applies to ‘the termination of the gift of prophecy’ is controversial, to say the least. I take an opposing view. See my articles:

  1. Does the superiority of New Testament revelation exclude the continuation of the gifts of the Spirit? Is cessationism biblical?
  2. The gift of prophecy as non-binding revelation;
  3. Can cessationism be supported by Scripture and church history?
  4. Cessationism through church history;
  5. St. Augustine: The man who dared to change his mind about divine healing.

For the above reasons, it is appropriate to conclude that Rev. 22:18-19 was written to apply to the prophecy of the Book of Revelation and not to the entire Bible or full NT.


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

Brown, C (ed) 1975. The new international dictionary of New Testament theology, vol 1. Exeter, Devon, UK: The Paternoster Press.

Bruce, F F 1970. The Epistles of John: A Verse by Verse Exposition. London/Glasgow: Pickering & Inglis.

Caner, E M & Caner E F 2002. Unveiling Islam. Grand Rapids, MI: Kregel Publications.

Crossan, J D 1994a. Jesus: A revolutionary biography. New York, NY: HarperSanFrancisco.

Crossan, J D 1991. The historical Jesus: The life of a Mediterranean Jewish peasant. New York, NY: HarperSanFrancisco.

Gentry Jr, K L 1989. Before Jerusalem fell: Dating the Book of Revelation (e-book). Tyler, Texas: Institute for Christian Economics. Available at: (Accessed 11 February 2012).

Gibb, H A R 1962. Mohammedanism: An historical study (2nd edn). New York: Oxford University Press (A Galaxy Book). Available at: (Accessed 11 February 2012).

Gregg, S (ed) 1997. Revelation: Four views (a parallel commentary). Nashville: Thomas Nelson Publishers.

Grudem, W 1999. Bible doctrine: Essential teachings of the Christian faith (ed by J Purswell). Leicester, England: Inter-Varsity Press.

Gryboski M 2012. Wycliffe reaffirms it did not delete ‘Father,’ ‘Son,’ from

Bible translations. Christian Post, 7 February. Available at: (Accessed 13 February 2012).

Hastings, J (ed) 1908. Encyclopedia of religion & ethics, vol 1. Edinburgh: T & T Clark, available at: (Accessed 11 February 2012).

Houtsma, M T (ed) 1913. The encyclopedia of Islam, vol 1. Leiden: E J Brill.

Jeffery, A (ed) 1958. Islam: Muhammad and his religion. New York: The Liberal Arts Press. Available at: (Accessed 11 February 2012).

Johnson, A F 1982. Revelation, in Gaebelein, F E (gen ed), The expositor’s Bible commentary, vol 12, 397-603. Grand Rapids, Michigan: Zondervan Publishing House.

Kaiser Jr, W C, Davids, P H, Bruce, F F & Brauch, M T 1996. Hard sayings of the Bible. Downers Grove, Illinois: InterVarsity Press.

Kistemaker, S J 1986. New Testament commentary: Exposition of James, epistles of John, Peter, and Jude. Grand Rapids, Michigan: Baker Academic.

Kittel, G (ed) 1964. Theological dictionary of the New Testament, vol 1. Tr and ed by G W Bromiley. Grand Rapids, MI: Wm. B. Eerdmans Publishing Company.

Ladd, G E 1972. A commentary on the Revelation of John. Grand Rapids, Michigan: William B. Eerdmans Publishing Company.

Lenski, R C H 1966. Commentary on the New Testament: The Interpretation of the Epistles of St. Peter, St. John, and St. Jude. Peabody, Massachusetts: Hendrickson Publishers (2nd print). Originally assigned to Augsburg Publishing House.

Link, H-G & Brown, C 1978. hilaskomai. In Brown, C (ed), The New International Dictionary of New Testament Theology, vol. 3, 148-166. Grand Rapids, Michigan: Zondervan Publishing House.

Marshall, I H 1978. The Epistles of John (The New International Commentary on the New Testament. Grand Rapids, Michigan: William B. Eerdmans Publishing Company.

Metzger, B M 1992. The text of the New Testament: Its transmission, corruption, and restoration (3rd edn). New York/Oxford: Oxford University Press.

Metzger, B M 2001. The Bible in translation: Ancient and English versions. Grand Rapids, Michigan: Baker Academic.

Morey, R A 1991. Islam unveiled: The true desert storm. Shermans Dale, PA: The Scholars Press.

Robertson, A T 1933. Word studies in the New Testament: The general epistles and the Revelation of John, vol 6. Nashville, Tennessee: Broadman Press.

Robinson, J A T 1976. Redating the New Testament. London: SCM Press Ltd.

Thiselton, A C 1980. The two horizons: New Testament hermeneutics and philosophical description with special reference to Heidegger, Bultmann,

Gadamer and Wittgenstein. Grand Rapids, MI: William B. Eerdmans.

Thomas, R L 1995. Revelation 8-22: An exegetical commentary. Chicago: Moody Press.

Wright, N T 1992. The New Testament and the people of God. Minneapolis: Fortress Press. (Series in Christian origins and the question of God, vol 1).


[1] See ‘Sign This Petition’ on the Horizons International website, ‘Lost In Translation: Keep “Father” & “Son” in the Bible’, available at: (Accessed 6 March 2012). Horizons International uses to organize its petition, as was indicated to me in an email from Horizons International. Therefore, any changes to this Petition that I wanted to make, had to be arranged through

[2] I explained to this person that I am not convinced the whole plan of salvation is at stake because of dynamic equivalence translations of Father, Son, and Son of God, these are attempts to communicate meaning-for-meaning from one language to another.

[3] However, this person provided me with a link to his explanation of the Trinity. I ask: If the matter is spiritual and needs to be revealed, what is the practical purpose of teaching on the Trinity? Is it essential or unnecessary?

[4] I encouraged them to use the same principles with the KJV (see examples in this article).

[5] There is no need for this dichotomy. The Holy Spirit can and does apply lexical and exegetical work. The Holy Spirit’s critical ministry is not a replacement for exegesis.

[6] This is the underlying presupposition of this person’s view of the doctrine of salvation. The person obviously prefers a Calvinistic view over that of Arminianism, or irresistible grace vs free grace.

[7] I agree with this view that presuppositions are foundational and must be uncovered, but this person is promoting his Calvinistic views as the correct ones. ‘Choose today whom you will serve’ (Joshua 24:15 NLT) is not among his presuppositions.

[8] He is referring to informational presuppositions.

[9] See the brief discussion of this theology below.

[10] However, leading evangelical scholar, F. F. Bruce (1970:50), stated that the translation of the Greek, hilasmos, as ‘”propitiation” or “atonement” will do well enough, if we use either word in its biblical sense – not as something which men must do to placate God, but something which God has provided in His grace to bring men into His presence with the assurance that they are accepted by Him, since He has removed the barrier that kept them at a distance’. Another evangelical scholar, I. Howard Marshall (1978:118), shows that the word group that includes hilasmos in the OT (presumably referring to the Septuagint Greek translation), communicated ‘the idea of placating the wrath of God or some other injured party’ and that the meaning in 1 John 2:2 was ‘that Jesus propitiates God with respect to our sins. There can be no real doubt that this is the meaning’.

[11] The NRSV uses ‘atoning sacrifice’ instead of ‘expiation’ in 1 John 2:2.

[12] Lenski (1966:400) stated that ‘in his love God commissioned his Son as expiation regarding our sins. The thought is not that this expiation propitiated, placated God, for he was full of infinite love when he sent his Son; we needed expiation, needed it “regarding our sins,” need it regarding them every day when we still sin. The fact that this expiation was brought about by “the blood of Jesus, God’s Son,” we know from 1:7’. What does expiation mean? It refers to a removal or covering for sin, hence the ‘atoning sacrifice’ translation of the NIV & NLT.

[13] vol. 2, p. 372ff (1976. Exeter: The Paternoster Press)

[14] This article stated that he was an historian on Orientalism. See: (Accessed 11 February 2012).

[15] That’s the title of one of the chapters in Morey (1991:45f).

[16] This is a constructed sentence obtained by combining these verses which are from the Qur’an, Muhammad 47:19 and al-Fath 48:29.

[17] This translation is from the New King James Version of the Bible.

[18] This chapter is titled, ‘Allah: Names of Terror, Names of Glory’.

[19] Briefly, the Trinity of God is ‘the doctrine that God eternally exists as three persons, Father, Son and Holy Spirit, and each person is fully God, and there is one God’ (Grudem 1999:494). Some information also was obtained from ‘Theology 101 Notes: Doctrine of God‘ (Accessed 12 February 2012).This is a brief explanation of the Trinity, a word not found in the Bible, but its teaching is there.

[20] A Redeemer is one who provides redemption, which means ‘the act of buying back sinners out of their bondage to sin and to Satan through the payment of a ransom’ (Grudem 1999:492).

[21] This is from Caner & Caner (2002:108).

[22] He is referring to SIL Australia.

[23] Christianity Today reported on 15 February 2007 that Bruce Metzger died of natural causes at the age of 93. See: (Accessed 10 February 2012).

[24] This was the statement in an email I received from pastor of a church in the Arabic world.

[25] Robinson (1996:252) dates to the years AD 68-70, while Crossan (1991:431) is in agreement with Ladd, dating Revelation ‘toward the end of the first century C.E.’.

[26] Meaning “Against Heresies”.

[27] Johnson wrongly cited Against Heresies 30.2 when it is Book 5.30.1, which states, ‘There shall be no light punishment [inflicted] upon him who either adds or subtracts anything from the Scripture [at this point the footnote reference is to Rev. 22:19] under that such a person must necessarily fall’. Interestingly, Irenaeus applies these verses to ‘the Scripture’ and not just to the Book of Revelation.

[28] Robinson (1976:252) dates the Book of Revelation to ‘late 68 or early 70’. Gregg (1997:15) stated that most modern scholars place the Book’s dating in the time of the Emperor Domitian, about AD 96, but there are many preterist evangelicals who date it during the time of the reign of Nero, thus predating the fall of Jerusalem in AD 70. ‘Among the well-known scholars who have held to the early date of Revelation have been Jay Adams, Adam Clarke, Alfred Edersheim, J. B. Lightfoot, John A. T. Robinson, Philip Schaff, and many others. The early date was the prevalent theory among Bible scholars of the nineteenth century. Dr. Kenneth Gentry lists over 130 notable scholars and commentators who favored the early dating of Revelation (Gregg 1997:15). Gentry (1989), which was Gentry’s doctoral dissertation, ‘gives ‘one sustained defense for the early date of Revelation’ (Gregg 1997:46 n7). On Gentry’s website he labels his view as postmillennial, reconstructionist, partial preterist. Available at: (Accessed 11 February 2012).

[29] See 1 Cor. 16:22 for an example of Paul’s ‘curse’.


Copyright © 2012 Spencer D. Gear. This document last updated at Date: 1 May 2016.