Rebuke and Love

A Leviticus account of rebuke and love.

The book of Leviticus contains instruction for the priests and people of Israel, so that they might be holy and live in the presence of God. For some contemporary readers, Leviticus 19:17-18 seems to contain a conflict between the commands to “rebuke your neighbour” and to “love your neighbour as yourself.”

The verse reads:

17 ‘You shall not hate your fellow countryman in your heart;
you may certainly rebuke your neighbour,
but you are not to incur sin because of him.
18 You shall not take vengeance,
nor hold any grudge against the sons of your people,
but you shall love your neighbour as yourself; I am the Lord.

This conflict, however, is only seeming. Rebuke, when done out of love, is a loving act, restoring the offender back into relation with God and the community as a whole. In fact, to fail to rebuke can lead the offended party to sin by committing hateful acts against the offender.

Complete Sanctity

Leviticus is the third book of the Pentateuch, containing laws particular to attaining and maintaining holiness. The God of Israel is maximally holy, and all that is impure in His presence is destroyed. This means that the Israelites had to practice holiness in order to come into God’s presence and offer sacrifices, which were necessary for atonement and thanksgiving (Lv. 19:2).

Holiness was more than just moral excellence, but was the practice of imitating God’s goodness in all aspects of life.

For some readers, the command to both rebuke and love one’s neighbour are juxtaposed — making judgements, and confronting someone about their wrongdoing, does not seem to be very loving behaviour. This seems to be a very common belief today. Our culture worships an idol of comfort, and far too many Christians are complacent and worried about offending the ‘followers of comfort.’

However, it is a non-issue historically. In fact, the two commands enlighten one another and indicate exactly what each requires in order for the people of God to best imitate God’s holiness.

Course Correction

It is first helpful to notice the parallels in these verses. Both verses contain a prohibition (to not hate/take vengeance), remedy (rebuke/love your neighbour), and rationale (incur no sin/‘I am the Lord’ i.e., be holy). It is the remedy commands that some readers struggle to reconcile. It is proper then to analyse the remedies in light of their prohibitions and rationale.

The prohibition of hate in the heart (v. 17) seems to focus on one’s thoughts and feelings toward another. Instead of hating your fellow Israelite when they trespass you, you are commanded to rebuke them — this term יָכַח (yakach) can also be understood in the sense of being “set right.” In Scripture, reproof is often associated with wisdom (e.g., Pr. 9:8; 10:17), referring to judgement, reasoning, and correction.

The antithesis to hate in the heart is rebuke in the open (i.e., Pr. 27:5). Rebuke removes possible misunderstandings, dispels hate, and opens up an opportunity for communion between the offender and the offended — grievances can be resolved, and the offender can be corrected (that is, be put back on the path to holiness).

Festering Resentment

The rationale given for this command is the avoidance of sinning out of hatred. Hatred can lead to sins varying from anger to murder. This was the case for Absalom, who would eventually have Amnon murdered, after avoiding him and repressing his anger for two years (2 Sm. 13).

One might easily argue that even just the failure to reprove is a sin in itself, as was the (similar) case for “the watchman” of Ezekiel 33, who would bear the punishment of the wicked if he failed to warn them of their wickedness (Ez. 33:8). Rebuking the neighbour is proper, but hating the neighbour is a sin. Interestingly, at Qumran, reproof was not only a moral duty, but a cardinal requirement.

The prohibition against taking vengeance and grudge-nursing (v. 18) functions also as a prohibition of actions and thoughts that result from hatred. Even if the offender does not respond appropriately to reproof, hatred is forbidden. It is for God to distribute justice (De. 32:35a), for only He has the wisdom, power, and authority to do so.

On the matter of how one ought to reprove, this prohibition indicates that to rebuke in anger, or in front of others, is an act of vengeance, and is therefore a sin. Similarly, to refuse to rebuke may be an act of grudge-nursing. The remedy command is to love, referring not just to an emotion, but actions also. The term אַהַב (ahab) is “love” in the sense of affection, reaching out, and befriending. Inner and outer love was a prerequisite for holiness.

True Love

It is a matter of debate as to whether the following כָּמ֑וֹךָ (kemo) modifies “love” and should be translated as “as yourself” — meaning that as one seeks to provide for their own needs, one must seek to provide for the needs for their neighbour. On the other hand, should it modify “your neighbour” and be translated as “as a man like yourself,” the command is that one must love their fellow Israelite because he is made in God’s image and is in a covenant with Him, just as he is also. [Along a similar vein, Gn. 5:1 has often been regarded as the great principle of the Torah — though some have regarded Lv. 19:18 as such.]

Particularly suited to the latter translation, the rationale for the command to love is the fact that God is holy — “I am the Lord.” The Israelite is called to love his fellow covenant people. In light of this, one must graciously rebuke his neighbour out of love for him, so that he might be holy. The command to rebuke is therefore a call to speak truth in love (as would be later articulated in Ep. 4:15). [Note that the use of verse 18 to interpret verse 17 is proper, as it was and is commonplace for biblical laws to be interpreted with regard to the love command.]

Given what has been discussed above, it should be apparent that the commands to rebuke and love are harmonious. The conflict only exists in the eyes of those who believe love is relative, or that love can only truly manifest itself through supportive and affirming behaviours. Today, the popular sense is that loving one’s neighbour requires a full acceptance of who they are (that is, not judging them) — that we ought to avoid those convicting and uncomfortable conversations, because we should never “impose” morals on another person.

Readers must keep in mind that ancient Israel was essentially theocratic — their practices, laws, and governing systems were divinely inspired. There is no instance (at least not in the modern sense) of one Israelite “imposing” their morals upon another. All members of this society were motivated to strive for holiness, so that they might live in the presence of God and be blessed by Him. Their morals were grounded in God’s standard.

In this setting, rebuke can be regarded as an accountability tool, as well as a means of restoring the offender to communion with God and his Israelite neighbour. This, surely, when done with gentle kindness and genuine concern, was a necessary and loving act. Israelites were called to reflect God’s holiness by loving and caring for the needs, holiness, and spiritual/moral state of their neighbours.

One must also note that God, in the Hebrew Scriptures, is recorded as rebuking and punishing Israel, so that they might return to Him and restore the covenant relationship (e.g., Judges; Pr. 3:12; the prophets). Should one then propose that His behaviour here conflicts with His loving nature — or that He is somehow behaving irrationally? It would be highly controversial to propose so.

Stages of Fraternal Correction

Jesus affirmed this union of rebuke and love in both word and deed.

As recorded in Matthew 18:15-17, Jesus commands His followers to rebuke each other lovingly. So as not to embarrass the offender, the offended should confront him privately — not gossip about him to others. If the rebuke proves ineffective, one is to bring witnesses to rebuke him again. Further still, if the offender remains unrepentant, the matter is brought to the church community. If the offender still refuses to heed the rebuke, he is to be cut off from the community — he can no longer be considered a Christ-follower.

Like the desire for holiness in ancient Israel, Jesus is concerned for the holiness of His church and the righteousness of its members. The rebuke is borne from a heart of love for the neighbour and the community as a whole. In Luke 17:3-4, Jesus describes a close relationship between rebuke and forgiveness. A person may not hold a grudge, but must forgive his neighbour when he repents of his wrongdoing.

Some readers will improperly take Jesus’ command not to judge (Mt. 7:1) apart from the verses that follow. This, however, is not a call to never rebuke one’s neighbour, but is a call to abandon hypocrisy. Those who rebuke should not themselves reject rebuke. One should not correct another’s error until he recognises his own personal failings.

Israel Ba’al Shem Tov rephrases the love command as follows: “Just as we love ourselves despite the faults we know we have, so we should love our fellows despite the faults we see in them.” A reader might identify a separation between the act and the person — the believer is commanded to rebuke the sinful action out of love for the person, who is created in God’s image, and expect the same.

As it was for ancient Israel, the command to rebuke is aimed particularly at those within the community, toward other members. The command to love, however, seems to be applied universally (Mt. 5:44; 22:29), and just as with Leviticus 19:18, Jesus teaches that love implies deeds (Mt. 7:12). Christians are called to rebuke and, in particular, to rebuke one another — but we are called to love all people.

Jesus also embodied the command to rebuke and love through His actions. For example, Jesus loved the adulterous woman when He prevented her from being stoned and rebuked her when He told her to “sin no more” (Jn. 8:11). Similarly, when He healed an infirm man and commanded him to stop sinning (Jn. 5:1-15).

God’s Kingdom Come

Rebuke, when done in a loving manner and with a loving heart, is a tool of love. In fact, in the New Testament, the most common Greek verb for “rebuke” is ἐπιτιμαω, which is an amalgamation of ἐπι, “on” (move/place/locate on/in, in the time of, on the basis of), and τιμαω, “I honour, value.” Ἐπιτιμαω, therefore, means literally “to place honour.” It’s restorative. Jesus’ ministry, as the Messiah, was to proclaim the Kingdom of God, which was holy. He loved people, and so He taught, rebuked, and died for them, so that they might be regarded as holy and enter (i.e., be restored into) the Kingdom.

In Leviticus, rebuke and love are regarded as necessary for the holiness of oneself and one’s neighbour. Out of loving concern for their fellow Israelites’ moral purity, as well as their own, God’s people were commanded to rebuke their neighbour, directing them back into communion with God and the community. Likewise, Christ rebuked those He deeply loved so that they might become holy.

Earlier, when I spoke of the ‘followers of comfort,’ I was not only referring to non-believers. Many Christians have slipped into the cult of comfort. They refuse to be a light toward each other, let alone the world — but we are called to be salt, not sugar. We are called to walk amongst wolves, not to walk on eggshells. We are called to transform, not conform. Avoiding discomfort is a secular etiquette.

Do not put eternal souls in peril for the sake of temporal unity. If you love your neighbour, rebuke him.


cf. The Walk. Photo by Tima Miroshnichenko.

Thank the Source

Keeping, or Losing, Our Faith in Climate Change

Does climate change? If so, why? Is there really a climate crisis? If there isn’t, then why do so many believe there is? Is climate change a religion?

In drafting this essay, I have drawn heavily on my own training and experience as a teacher of meteorology and my own research in the 1960s and 1970s, when the scientific community was seen to seek the truth without the bias of pushing specific agendas. With my background in these things, I offer you what I believe to be a balanced and factual argument that the concept of climate change, previously known as global warming, has become a religion.

Today, there is so much commentary on climate change, so much so that I think that the majority of us accept that climate change is an inconvenient truth, and trust that those in power are getting on with fixing it. Is that it? Surely, if that’s true, we don’t need another essay!

But I think we do! In this essay, I would like to shine a light on some corners of the subject usually glossed over.

Does climate change? If so, why?

I believe that climate does change over time. (Remember, we are talking about climate now, not weather.) Climate is a description of the average atmospheric conditions in a specific region, taken over at least 30 years. Weather simply changes every day. In the case of Melbourne, Australia, it is said that you can experience all four seasons in one day!

A century ago, Serbian scientist Milutin Milankovitch hypothesised that the long-term, collective effects of changes in Earth’s position relative to the Sun are a strong driver of Earth’s long-term climate, and are responsible for triggering the beginning and ending of ice ages. Let me discuss his three cycles.

  1. Eccentricity of the Earth’s Orbit

Earth’s orbit around the Sun isn’t a perfect circle. Over time, the gravitational pull from the two largest planets, Jupiter and Saturn, cause the shape of Earth’s orbit to vary from nearly circular to slightly elliptical. Currently, Earth’s eccentricity is near its least elliptical (most circular) and is very slowly decreasing, in a cycle that spans about 100,000 years.

The total change in global annual insolation (energy received from the sun) due to the eccentricity cycle is very small and some will argue, insignificant; but before I go on, consider this.

The Earth’s atmospheric system is extremely complex and extraordinarily difficult to model. There are so many variables to consider. Let’s just consider one here.

The amount of ice on the Earth, on land or on oceans, correlates with the amount of insolation reflected back to space, known as the Earth’s albedo.

During ice ages, much of the Earth’s surface was covered with ice. This large coverage of white meant that the Earth’s albedo was high, with much of the incoming solar radiation received by Earth being reflected back into space without appreciably warming the atmosphere.

But if a change in the Earth’s orbit brings about a minute change in the insolation received — for example, just a little bit more heat, barely enough to measure — it could be enough to melt an ice cap or two just a little bit, barely enough to measure. The Earth’s albedo decreases, just a little bit. Then, more of the incoming insolation is retained as heating, melting a bit more ice, and before you know it, a positive feedback loop is set up and the ice age melts away.

As a result, a steady increase of real measurable temperatures; sea level rises from the melting ice; and plants and animals once again begin to colonise what had been the frozen rocky waste that underlay the ice.

  1. Obliquity of the Earth’s Spin

The angle of the Earth’s axis of rotation is tilted as it orbits around the Sun is known as obliquity and thus explains our seasons. Each hemisphere facing the sun has its summer and the hemisphere tilted away has its winter. As the year progresses, when the sun is directly over the equator, each hemisphere has its autumn and spring respectively.

Obliquity varies between 22.1 and 24.5 degrees with respect to Earth’s orbit. The greater the obliquity, the more extreme our seasons, as the hemisphere facing the sun receives more insolation during its summer, and less during winter when it is tilted away. It is believed that periods of greater obliquity can trigger deglaciation after an ice age, as the Earth’s albedo is reduced.

Obliquity is currently tilted at 23.4 degrees, or about halfway between its extremes, with a cycle that spans about 41,000 years. It was last at its maximum tilt about 10,700 years ago and will reach its minimum tilt about 9,800 years from now.

  1. Precession of the Earth’s axial wobble

As Earth rotates about its axis, it wobbles slightly, much like an off-centred spinning top before it falls over. This wobble is believed to be due to tidal forces caused by the gravitational influences of the Sun and Moon that cause Earth to bulge at the equator, affecting its rotation. The cycle of precession spans about 25,770 years.

The passage of precession makes the seasons more extreme in one hemisphere and less extreme in the other. Currently, this makes Southern Hemisphere summers hotter and moderates Northern Hemisphere seasons. But in about 13,000 years, precession will cause these conditions to flip.

Other climate change drivers

So far in this essay, I have not mentioned the effects of volcanic ash from eruptions, that can be carried right around the globe by high-level jet streams. These clouds of ash reflect insolation and can have a cooling effect on our climates for many years.

[A word of caution here. If you are not aware, or perhaps have forgotten, the internet is far from ‘balanced’ in the articles and websites fed to you on a search. I have noticed (and it getting worse and worse in my view) that generally government websites (whatever the country), NASA, Wikipedia and National Geographic, to name but a few, all point their readers to the doctrine that climate change is an inconvenient truth. They have no room for discussion of alternative views.]

Another contributor to climate change is the sunspot cycle of 11 years. The comings and goings of sunspots have been shown to parallel changes in the Earth’s climates, and the occurrence of the Little Ice Age, which lasted from about 1450 to 1820.

Then there is the theory that the burning of fossil fuels, coal, oil and natural gas is creating climate change. Usually, this is described as anthropogenic warming, as it is a direct effect of man’s activity. It is focussed on the extra production of carbon dioxide (CO2), which is one of the greenhouse gases that trap insolation in our atmosphere as the radiation bounces off these molecules on their way back out to space, but as a result, are returned to Earth, creating the heating effect.

One thing to remember about the theory of anthropogenic warming due to CO2 is that CO2 only makes up an extremely small proportion of our atmosphere and this is not changing significantly due to our anthropogenic activity. Our atmosphere is 78 per cent nitrogen, 21 per cent oxygen, 0.9 per cent argon, and 0.1 per cent other gases (including CO2).

However, CO2 is the most important gas for plant growth, being the only source of carbon available to them. As Jordan B. Peterson has eloquently pointed out, the globe’s food production from plants has increased thanks to the extra CO2 produced by man and the deserts have begun to shrink! Great news for mankind!

There are still more climate change drivers. For example, the distribution of continental masses around the globe resulting from plate tectonics. Their distribution influences the Earth’s albedo, as land and oceans have different coefficients of reflectivity with respect to insolation.

Other examples are gaseous and particulate pollution, cutting insolation and stimulating rainfall, to say nothing of poisoning our environment. Deforestation has a devastating impact on soil quality, to say nothing of the reduction in water vapour in the atmosphere (a great contribution to the greenhouse effect). And the impact of commercial agriculture on the atmosphere.

Our atmosphere, the weather and the climate we experience are influenced by arguably the most complex, interconnected array of variables known to man. To simplify it to anthropogenic warming and to the excess of CO2, does a gross injustice to the science.

Is there really a climate crisis?

Most media commentary, most governments’ policies and most corporations, particularly the global ones, believe that there is. Anyone who is not a believer is ridiculed, sidelined, or ignored. But does that mean that there really is a climate crisis? Or does it demonstrate something completely different?

In the second half of this essay, I am leaning heavily on a one-and-a-quarter-hour-long discussion between Amir Tsarfati and Professor Yonatan Dubi published in November 2022 — Climate Change: A New World Religion? Amir is a Jew converted to Christianity, and Yonatan describes himself as a Jew by birth but now part atheist, part agnostic.

Yonatan is a physicist who specialises in mathematical modelling. He points out that the world’s average temperature has risen by 1.1o C over the last 100 years and that sea levels have risen by 30 cm in the last 100 years. This is an interesting observation, as we would expect sea levels to rise following the Little Ice Age of 1450 to 1820, and they have. Nothing unusual here!

Globally, sea level rise is extremely variable depending on local tectonic forces. For example, the sea level on Israel’s coastline has risen 7 cm over the last 100 years. Do these rates constitute a crisis? I don’t think so.

As Yonatan points out, rates like these will give man ample time to adjust to make any necessary changes to save himself and his livelihood. For Yonatan, this is not a crisis. He also points out that the IPCC’s (Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change) own data shows that there has been no rise in catastrophic weather events over the last 100 years either. As we know, the mainstream media love to use each hurricane, flood, fire, or drought as evidence of climate change. They are simply stoking the fire of alarmism and fuelling the fears of climate change believers.

Is climate change a religion?

What is a religion? Extremely hard to define, I am sure you will agree, but for me, there are some core components. Belief is central, a belief in something that requires faith, without the evidence of fact. The second element for me is that the belief engenders, or creates, a unity within a community of believers. Those who don’t believe are outcasts, excluded from the community.

According to a classical sociologist, religion is a “unified system of beliefs and practices relative to sacred things, that is to say things set apart and forbidden — beliefs and practices which unite into one single moral community called a Church, all those who adhere to them.” (Durkheim, 1915)

Amir and Yonatan build their argument that climate change is a religion. They recognise the emergence of the ‘environmental movement’ in the 1960s with the publication of the classic work Silent Spring (Rachel Carson, 1962). The core of this book targeted the use of DDT against the curse of malaria in Africa. Afterward, the banning of DDT led to the excess deaths of millions from malaria, until the Africans started using DDT again!

Amir identified the Club of Rome’s Limits to Growth, 1972, as planting the seeds of the current preoccupation with limiting economic growth as a worthy environmental response to the climate crisis. Yonatan also identified the fall of the Berlin Wall in 1989 as the moment that saw increasing numbers flocking to the Greenpeace movement.

At the heart of all these initiatives was the underlying belief in the planet and in the fact that the planet needed saving. The enemy that needed to be fought against was mankind. Man was no longer the pinnacle of God’s creation, but rather a curse, responsible for so much pain, misery and degradation of the planet.

So, parallel with the demise of the Judeo-Christian heritage, starting in the liberated 1960s and continuing with the destruction of Communism, culminating in the breakup of the USSR and the fall of the Berlin Wall in 1989, the people needed a new cause around which to unite. The environment, the planet, became their new god.

So, God said, in effect, “If that’s what you want, that’s what you get.” It wasn’t long before they were living in a pigpen, smeared with filth, filthy inside and out. And all this because they traded the true God for a fake god, and worshiped the god they made instead of the God who made them — the God we bless, the God who blesses us. Oh, yes!
~ Romans 1:25 (MSG)

It seems to me that climate change has all the hallmarks of a religion. For me, the most concerning aspect of this is that their adherents have ‘set aside’ their rational, enquiring, eager-to-learn minds, that naturally question and debate; for blind belief, faith, in what their leaders tell them. Their singular target is simply our individual carbon footprint, that is, the amount of CO2 that can be attributed to each one of us. So, believers simply must make the sacrifices necessary to bring this impact down. The more we save, individually, the more pious we are and the higher up the religious hierarchy we go!

Do not be deceived!

The climate change religion is very deceiving. It is so easy to become unwitting converts, as so much of it is obviously sensible. Let’s consider a few examples. Overfishing the oceans will swell our profits for today, but deplete the harvest for future generations — our children and grandchildren.

Clear-felling and burning our native forests send precious resources up in smoke, destroying the natural habitat for innumerable species of plants, animals and birds, to say nothing of the potential for cooling the planet due to increased smoke cover in the upper atmosphere.

Intensive commercial farming is over-reliant on artificial fertiliser. It degrades the soil, depleting the carbon content, and increases the risk of soil erosion by wind and or flood, not to mention the dangers of salinisation, as salt may be brought to the surface by evaporation, rendering the land unusable by future generations.

3 As Jesus was sitting on the Mount of Olives,
the disciples came to Him privately.
“Tell us,” they said, “when will this happen,
and what will be the sign of Your coming and of the end of the age?”

Jesus answered: “Watch out that no one deceives you.
For many will come in My name,
claiming, ‘I am the Messiah,’ and will deceive many.
You will hear of wars and rumours of wars,
but see to it that you are not alarmed.
Such things must happen, but the end is still to come.
Nation will rise against nation, and kingdom against kingdom.
There will be famines and earthquakes in various places.
All these are the beginning of birth pains.”
~ Matthew 24:3-8 (my underlining).

I believe that the climate change religion can easily deceive us. Stage one, we believe the rhetoric, because we can’t see any alternative narrative as censorship has effectively outlawed alternative perspectives.

Stage two, we subconsciously accommodate the new religion into our current faith and moral practices. Finally, stage three, we can no longer recognise the new religion that has taken up residence within us and makes it normal for us to outcast any, including our family or community, who don’t share our beliefs. We take on the mores that preach the moral virtue of ‘for the greater good’, even though it flies in the face of the fact that each one of us, has been individually, fearfully and wonderfully made by God (Psalm 139:14).

More and more layers of red paint!

Yonatan described a wonderful analogy of more and more layers of red paint. He compares the impact of increasing the parts per million of CO2 in our atmosphere due to the burning of fossil fuels to adding layers of paint to a fence.

When we paint a fence with red paint, the first layer will look pretty anaemic as the original material or colour will be bound to show through. So, we put on another coat of paint, then another and perhaps a fourth.

By now each additional layer simply makes the paint layer thicker; it does not change the colour. Yonatan is saying that reducing the parts per million of CO2, as the climate change religion desires, will have as negligible an effect as taking off one layer of red paint from our fence. The fence will still look red!

So, imagine the destruction of all the economies right across the globe. Imagine the impact on the poorest people. Imagine the wealth gap widening even more as the rich get richer and the poor get poorer. And all for what? An immeasurable impact on the planet’s climates!

I can only see one benefit from all this. The rich elite, who have designed this new religion, do very well, thank you! The rest of us become the new feudal society of serfs, serving our new masters for their every pleasure.

Be nice to your neighbours

Let me conclude on a positive note.

15  Your hands are full of blood!

16 Wash and make yourselves clean.
Take your evil deeds out of My sight;
stop doing wrong.
17 Learn to do right; seek justice.
Defend the oppressed.
Take up the cause of the fatherless;
plead the case of the widow.

18 “Come now, let us settle the matter,”
says the Lord.
“Though your sins are like scarlet,
they shall be as white as snow;
though they are red as crimson,
they shall be like wool.”
~ Isaiah 1:15b-18

I commend the whole of this chapter to you, but what does the writer say here? To recognise that we might have been deceived into thinking and doing wrong. Then to do right, to seek justice, defend the oppressed, and take up the cause of the fatherless and plead the cause of the widow (v17).

I can think of no better analogy than that we should be:

… the salt of the earth. But if the salt loses its saltiness, how can it be made salty again? It is no longer good for anything, except to be thrown out and trampled underfoot.
~ Matthew 5:13

Let’s be nice to our neighbours. Let’s be responsible to the environment, while remembering that it is our decisions, our responsibility as citizens that counts, not the edicts and demands of external authorities. If there is no clearly argued good reason for doing something, there is no clearly argued good reason for doing something!


Photo by Markus Spiske.

Thank the Source

Ripe for Revival — Reflections on “Great Southland Revival”

It will probably come as a surprise to many people that the word ‘revival’, like the term ‘Trinity’, does not occur in any reputable English translation of the Bible.

However, while the word can’t be found anywhere, the concept can be seen everywhere.

Its origins are simple. It derives from the Latin infinitive revivere, which means to live (vivere) again (re). Basically, it means ‘new life’.

Biblical Beginnings

Paul tells us in Romans 6:4, that we were buried with Christ by baptism into death, in order that, just as Christ was raised from the dead by the glory of the Father, we too might walk in newness of life. He writes elsewhere of being made alive in Christ; of living a life by faith towards God; of experiencing new life (2 Corinthians 3:6; Galatians 2:19-20; Ephesians 2:5; Colossians 2:13).

The Psalmist celebrates the pathway of life (Psalm 16:11) and the promise of everlasting life (Psalm 119:50; 133:3). To summarise: to walk in newness of life is to walk in revival. To be in Christ is to be in a state of revival.

This leads us to the inescapable conclusion that revival is — or ought to be — the everyday experience of followers of Christ. Leo Harris, the pioneer of the CRC churches, described it simply as living out the New Testament.

Geoffrey Bingham, biblical expositor and author, used to remark that revival is basically giving attention to ‘the bread and butter’ issues of life — prayer, Bible study, faith, hope, love, forgiveness, kindness, reliability, steadfastness, integrity and so on.

Biblical revival affects every aspect of what we do and how we behave. This is why the apostle talks of ‘walking’ in newness of life. Walking is steady, ongoing action. It is not explosive or dramatic. Sometimes not even exciting. Missionary hero William Carey attributed whatever success he had experienced to this.

‘I am a plodder,’ he once wrote. ‘I can plod. To this I owe everything.’ Decades of ministry have persuaded me of the same reality. I used to drum into my students a simple, short phrase: ‘Plod with God.’


What we commonly call revival can be seen as the outcome of two direct scriptural terms, ‘awakening’ and ‘visitation’. Frequently, the prophets called people to wake up (Isaiah 26:19; 52:1; Joel 1:5), as did both Jesus (Mark 13:33-37) and Paul (Eph 5:14).

When the people of God become sleepy, they need to be aroused. Such awakening includes the idea of action. Lazarus may be well and truly alive, but he still needs to get up and walk. He is not resurrected to stay in the grave.

Similarly, the Bible frequently refers to times of visitation, when God drops in, as it were, to demonstrate his power. Sometimes, he visits us with judgement (Exodus 20:5; Psalm 59:8; 89:32); more often, he visits us with blessing (Genesis 50:2 4-25; Psalm 106:4; 1 Samuel 2:21). The greatest visitation of all was the coming of Jesus (Luke 1:68; Acts 15:14).

Divine visitations remind us of how things ought to be. Stuart Piggin has written of revival being an intensification by Jesus of the Holy Spirit’s normal activity. For this reason, it is often relatively short-lived. It may also be unexpected. Jonathan Edwards called the initial phases of the Great Awakening ‘a surprising work of God.’

Martin Luther, the premier pioneer of the Reformation, the greatest visitation since the days of Christ, was as surprised as anyone when it began. It is self-evident that awakenings and visitations are necessarily the work of God, initiated by Him. They do not originate as the result of human effort. We cannot awaken or visit ourselves.

God’s Hand Throughout History

It is appropriate to speak of such manifestations as revivals so long as we recognise that they have a purpose beyond themselves. And this is where this book, Great Southland Revival, is so important. The authors make it clear that their aim was not to write another study of the nature of revival, but rather to record how and when revival has been experienced in the past, so that we can be pointed to
possibilities for the future. And they have accomplished this purpose admirably. The book is prophetic.

It is particularly gratifying to read accounts of divine visitation that have been buried, ignored or simply unknown to contemporary Christians. There are many surprises to be enjoyed. It is enlightening to read of the work of the Spirit in apostolic and medieval times; it is heart-warming to see how the Wesleyan revival touched so many lives; it is exciting to observe the impact of the Great Awakening and the Pentecostal outpouring; it is invigorating to trace the Evangelical roots of Australian society.

Many readers will be astonished to learn of the 1902 Simultaneous Mission in Victoria and New South Wales which led to tens of thousands of professions of faith and remarkable social transformation. The best example was the visitation in Mount Kembla — similar to the impact of the Welsh Revival, but predating it by three years.

Or of the astonishing move of God in the mining town of Moonta in 1875, where the whole community was deeply touched by God’s Spirit. Or of the powerful effect of Evangelicalism on the founders of Australian Federation.


This volume offers hope and encouragement to people everywhere, and to Australians in particular. This is not to say we will suddenly all be perfect. It is salutary to be reminded that the congregation at Ephesus, one of the best New Testament churches, included people who had to be instructed not to abuse their families, get drunk, tell lies or steal. Even so, they had been ‘made alive’, that is, revived, and were now far from the darkness that once held them in thrall. They were ‘walking’ in revival (Ephesians 2:10; 4:1; 4:17; 6:2, 8, 15).

It all began with an outpouring of the Holy Spirit, followed by months of patient preaching of God’s Word, whereupon God worked unprecedented signs and wonders and the name of Jesus was held in high honour throughout the city (Acts 19:1-17). Idolatry was shattered and inevitably, persecution followed (Acts 19:18-41).

If this is a template of revival, it is salutary to ask where Australia stands on the continuum. Mahlburg and Marsh give us plenty of reasons to ask the question — and to pray for a visitation from on high.

As journalist and Christian apologist Greg Sheridan pointed out in late 2022, Australia has unashamedly taken a position as a pagan nation and is, therefore, like Corinth, another New Testament city, not fit for destruction but ripe for revival. I look forward to the day when a later edition of Great Southland Revival will chronicle that story.

NOTE: To purchase your own copy of Great Southland Revival, click here.

Thank the Source

Sexual License and Culture

How do sexual mores affect a civilisation? Here are two books that closely examine the worldwide historical link between sexual promiscuity and civilisational collapse.

Amidst a mild internet debate, I made a Google search regarding the connection between sexual freedom and societal health throughout history. In the back of my mind was an essay I had recently read under recommendation, titled The Fate of Empires, authored by Sir John Glubb.The Fate of Empires book

Under one heading, Glubb describes aspects of the Arab decline, as described by historians of Baghdad in the early tenth century. The historians despised the degeneracy of the times in which they lived, featuring the laxity of sexual morals.

They commented disapprovingly upon the powerful influence of popular singers over young people, as their erotic songs resulted in a decline in sexual morality. Obscene sexual language became increasingly common, to a degree that would not have been tolerated in earlier years.

Glubb also noted that the increase in the influence of women in public life has often been associated with national decline. I later discovered that, in his second essay (Search for Survival), he elaborated that the prominence of women seemed to coincide with a desire of some men to imitate women (this may coincide with an increase in homosexuality).

He observed that this ‘reversal of the sexes,’ in which men try to be women and women men, seemed to be a sign of decadence, i.e. societal decline. [It is well worth reading both essays for a broader picture. Glubb’s second essay is particularly expressive regarding the role and importance of women in society.1]

Throughout Time and Space

With these ideas in mind, I soon stumbled upon the name J.D. Unwin and his book Sex and Culture. In this 600+ page work, Unwin summarises ten years of his relentless research as an Oxford social anthropologist.Sex and Culture book by J.D. Unwin

He writes as a rationalist, with no indication of being religious, and examines data from 86 native cultures and civilisations — from the ancients onwards (e.g., Sumerians, Babylonians, Egyptians, Assyrians, Romans, Polynesian societies, Indian tribes, etc).

Unwin’s goal was to identify the relationship between sexual liberty and the flourishing of cultures. Flourishing is measured in terms of art, engineering, architecture, literature, agriculture, etc.

Certainly, there is much to be studied. The ancient Greeks were no stranger to homosexuality and paedophilia, and the Romans would gradually lend themselves to self-indulgence, political corruption, adultery, homosexuality, sexual orgies, live sex acts in theatre, brutal sports, family deterioration, and moral laziness — all reaching a climax with their destruction. Unwin described four “great patterns of human culture.” Namely:

  • Zoistic – does not practice any form of prenuptial chastity. Self-focussed on daily life, wants, and needs. No interest in understanding nature. A ‘dead’ or ‘inert’ culture.

  • Manistic – does not practice prenuptial chastity (or maintains limited practice). Holds superstitious beliefs and/or special treatment of the dead to cope with the natural world.

  • Deistic – prenuptial chastity is practised. Attributes the powers of nature to a god or gods.

  • Rationalistic – uses rational thinking to understand nature and make daily decisions. Emerges when a society has been deistic for long enough to appreciate “a new conception of the power in the universe, based on the yet unknown” that is the result of a widening scope of understanding of the natural.

Unwin also divided degrees of sexual restraint into two key categories — prenuptial (before marriage) and postnuptial (after marriage). Prenuptial degrees included:

  • Complete sexual freedom

  • Irregular/occasional restraint – cultural regulations which require occasional periods of abstinence

  • Strict chastity – remain a virgin until marriage

Postnuptial categories included:

  • Modified monogamy – one spouse at a time (association can be terminated)

  • Modified polygamy – men can have multiple wives (a wife can leave her husband)

  • Absolute monogamy – only one spouse for life (or until death)

  • Absolute polygamy – men can have multiple wives (wives cannot leave)


Dr Kirk Durston summarises Unwin’s work into a 26-page collection of quotes. He summarises Unwin’s most significant findings as follows (paraphrased):

  • Increased sexual constraints always led to the increased flourishing of a culture. Increased sexual freedom always led to the collapse of a culture three generations later.

  • Data revealed that the most significant correlation with cultural flourishing was whether prenuptial chastity was required or not.

  • The highest flourishing cultures entailed prenuptial chastity and absolute monogamy. Rationalist cultures that retained this for at least three generations exceeded all other cultures in every area (only 3/86 cultures ever attained this).

  • When prenuptial chastity was no longer the norm, absolute monogamy, deism, and rational thinking disappeared within three generations.

  • Within three generations, a culture that embraced total sexual freedom would collapse into a dead/inert culture. This culture is usually then conquered by another with greater flourishing.

  • The full effect of a change in sexual constraints is not realised until the third generation (about a century — approximately 33 years per generation, after the initial generation has died off).

Randy Alcorn writes that historian Arnold Toynbee similarly concluded that a society’s creative energy is connected to its sexual self-control, which is directly linked to national strength and accomplishment. Alcorn writes,

“Toynbee’s research indicated that of history’s twenty-one greatest civilizations, nineteen perished from internal moral corruption, not external enemies.”

The Modern West

Durston notes that, interestingly, the West is now in a position to test the conclusions that Unwin arrived at. Unwin published his book in 1934, and the West’s sexual revolution occurred throughout the 1960s, ’70s, and ’80s. Since then, we have rapidly moved from prenuptial chastity to prenuptial sexual freedom, and from absolute to modified monogamy. He writes that:

“The inherent nature of the human organism, however, seems to be such that these desires are incompatible, even contradictory. The reformer may be likened to the foolish boy who desires both to keep his cake and to consume it. Any human society is free to choose either to display great energy or to enjoy sexual freedom; the evidence is that it cannot do both for more than one generation.”

C.S. Lewis writes, similarly,

“Though the “right of happiness” is chiefly claimed for the sexual impulse, it seems to me impossible that the matter should stay there. The fatal principle, once allowed in that department, must sooner or later seep through our whole lives.

We thus advance toward a state of society in which not only each man but every impulse in each man claims carte blanche. And then, though our technological skill may help us survive a little longer, our civilization will have died at heart, and will — one dare not even add “unfortunately” — be swept away.”

(essay, “We Have No ‘Right to Happiness’“)

Unwin predicts that after one generation, a significant decline in culture sets in and becomes apparent. This “having your cake and eating it too” phase would have ended in the early 2000s (at the latest) — now we are seeing the consequences.

As predicted, absolute monogamy has been replaced with the modified version, with those who practice life-long commitments in marriage becoming the minority. Deism is rapidly declining, as the concept of God is pushed away from government, education, and the public sphere.

In its place rises the superstitious manistic culture, as well as early signs of a non-religious zoistic culture (the lowest of Unwin’s categories). And finally, rational thinking has been largely replaced by post-modernism, featuring scepticism, relativism, post-truth, an appeal to feeling, sophistry, etc.


Evidence of the West’s decline is readily identified. We see increases in children born out of wedlock, millions of babies aborted annually, every letter in the LGBT+ acronym rejects science and the observable nature of man and woman, the definition of marriage has been taken apart, identifying as non-religious has increased, and the concept of anarchy has grown in appeal. In the eyes of many, sexual freedom is synonymous with the liberation of women. Sex is desirable and liberating, while marriage and family are not.

Given the living realisation of these predictions, it seems inevitable that, somewhere in the last third of this century, we will see the collapse of the West. Naturally, we want to believe we are the exception. Unwin describes this as ‘pardonable egocentricity’, and a position that flies in the face of data which reveals a monotonous and regular pattern of decline.

It’s not too difficult to believe that the West will only get more depraved. Indeed, Sigmund Freud (considered a key root in the revolution‘s formation) emphasised the role of sex as a primary force in human behaviour, and Alfred Kinsey (dubbed ‘the father of the sexual revolution’) suggested that incest and paedophilia could benefit children. The reality is that we’re well on our way to collapse. Ruth Graham states, “If God doesn’t judge America, He’ll owe Sodom and Gomorrah an apology.” Sexual hedonism will destroy the West, or at least accompany it as it plummets downward.

One can certainly throw in some criticism along the lines of ‘correlation does not equal causation.’ Unwin doesn’t pretend to know why sexual freedom has a direct link to cultural collapse, though he does make suggestions, but the fact remains regardless of the why. Durston directs readers toward Mary Eberstadt’s research, connecting identity and well-being to growing up with sizable immediate and extended family, and the decimation of the family with the recent sexual revolution. Her research indicates that increased sexual liberties led to the destruction of the family, which in turn resulted in the loss of family identity, which produces ‘primal screams’ (e.g., mental health issues, mass killings, extreme identity groups).

Biblical Injunctions

Of course, the Christian Scriptures are plainly against adultery, fornication, sodomy, prostitution, incest, and all other forms of sexual deviance. Sodom and Gomorrah were cities that were sexually depraved, and God destroyed them. Sexual immorality was widespread in ancient Babylon. Cult and temple prostitutes were common. Wicked or negligent kings of Israel or Judah would lead their people in sexual immorality. It’s easy to argue that King David and King Solomon would ruin the united monarchy due (at least in part) to their lack of sexual self-control.

Sexual immorality (namely adultery and prostitution) is used as images of idolatry and a rejection of God’s covenant relationship. The prophets warn Israel and Judah of their future destruction, which would result from their sin and continual rejection of God. Durston writes that although God’s laws regarding sexuality may restrain us from some immediate pleasure, they “protect us from enormous long-term suffering while maximizing our long-term flourishing.”

Jonathan Doyle et al. identified sixteen facts-based reasons for sexual integrity (i.e., prenuptial abstinence and postnuptial faithfulness). These included the ideas that sexual integrity ensures gender equality, preserves marital relationships, increases satisfaction in sexual relationships, is essential for manhood, is basic to successful fathering and strong families, helps prevent violence against women, reduces child abuse and exploitation, prevents the pornographic exploitation of women and exploitation of men, lowers rape and homicide rates, helps prevent prostitution and sex trafficking of women, is essential to prevent sexual exploitation on the internet, is essential in the media and workplace, and safeguards human health.

Chastity, not sexual liberty, is the sign of a culture thriving.


[1] To further pique your interest, Glubb writes: “Women are the guardians of the national future by the dedication with which they bring up their children. When women neglect small children to earn a double salary for the family, there is grave danger of injury to the next generation… Men should venerate women for their noble and selfless service. Women, in their turn, would do better not to descend from their high estate.”


Originally published at The Walk. Photo by Asad Photo Maldives.

Thank the Source

You Have to Serve Somebody (Our Choices Matter)

Whom or what we choose to serve has serious consequences.

When Bob Dylan was in his Christian phase (I am not quite sure where he is at now), he released a few hardcore and full-on Christian albums. The opening track on his 1979 album Slow Train Coming was “Gotta Serve Somebody”. It won a Grammy Award and is a terrific song encapsulating vital biblical truth.

Just in case you have never heard it yet, you can have a listen here:

In the song, Dylan may have been referring to a famous biblical passage. In the last chapter of Joshua, as God’s people are being admonished after entering into Canaan, we read these words of Joshua (Josh. 24:14-15):

“Now fear the Lord and serve Him with all faithfulness. Throw away the gods your ancestors worshiped beyond the Euphrates River and in Egypt, and serve the Lord. But if serving the Lord seems undesirable to you, then choose for yourselves this day whom you will serve, whether the gods your ancestors served beyond the Euphrates, or the gods of the Amorites, in whose land you are living. But as for me and my household, we will serve the Lord.”

Joshua made clear the choice that was before the people. They could do things God’s way, or refuse to do them God’s way. They could stay true to the Lord or they could run with the world. And those options are always with us. Even today we are being asked to make the same choice.

True Worship or Idolatry

To help make this text relevant for us, I might paraphrase verse 15 this way: ‘But if serving the Lord seems undesirable to you, then choose for yourselves this day whom you will serve, whether the gods of popular culture, or the gods of secular humanism, in whose land you are living. But as for me and my household, we will serve the Lord.’

Our choices matter. That is true of Christians as well as non-Christians. We are not pre-programmed robots, but we are morally responsible agents who are able to make choices that will have wide-ranging consequences. The non-believer makes choices that have real consequences.

But so too the believer. And the most important choice in life has to do with whom we are going to serve. Dylan laid it out quite clearly. Here is part of what he said in his song:

You may be a preacher with your spiritual pride
You may be a city councilman taking bribes on the side
You may be workin’ in a barbershop, you may know how to cut hair
You may be somebody’s mistress, may be somebody’s heir

But you’re gonna have to serve somebody
Yes, you’re gonna have to serve somebody (serve somebody)
Well, it may be the devil or it may be the Lord
But you’re gonna have to serve somebody (serve somebody)

Who is the god you serve? Is it the one true living God, or is it some false god, such as yourself? The god you serve will have very real consequences. Whom we choose to make Lord in our lives will have results — for good or ill. While we all make bad choices and all want to serve false gods, we can get things right — we can turn things around.


Coming to God through Christ in faith and repentance is the first and necessary step to starting to make right choices, and putting the real God back in His rightful place. All the mistakes and bad consequences of our past can then start to be dealt with.

And God is even able to make something good of our past bad choices, if we let Him. The famous passages in Joel come to mind here. In chapter 2, verse 25, we find these words:

 I will restore to you the years
that the swarming locust has eaten,
the hopper, the destroyer, and the cutter,
my great army, which I sent among you.

Even though we may have lost so much due to our bad choices, God is able to restore things, and turn bad into good, if we allow Him. See more on this great promise here.

To help you get some hope in all this, let me share a passage I again read in my morning reading. It is a very familiar story, but it tells us that even the bad choices of humans can be used by God to bring about very good outcomes.

We know about Joseph and all that happened to him from the book of Genesis. The last 13 chapters of the book are all about the remarkable man. You know how he was betrayed by his own brothers: they wanted to kill him, but ended up selling him as a slave. Yet God was at work, and Joseph soon became a big cheese in Egypt, and helped to save the people of Israel.

That included saving his own evil brothers. And notice what we find recorded in Genesis 45:1-9. It says this:

Then Joseph could not control himself before all those who stood by him. He cried, “Make everyone go out from me.” So no one stayed with him when Joseph made himself known to his brothers. And he wept aloud, so that the Egyptians heard it, and the household of Pharaoh heard it.

And Joseph said to his brothers, “I am Joseph! Is my father still alive?” But his brothers could not answer him, for they were dismayed at his presence. So Joseph said to his brothers, “Come near to me, please.” And they came near. And he said,

“I am your brother, Joseph, whom you sold into Egypt. And now do not be distressed or angry with yourselves because you sold me here, for God sent me before you to preserve life. For the famine has been in the land these two years, and there are yet five years in which there will be neither plowing nor harvest.

And God sent me before you to preserve for you a remnant on earth, and to keep alive for you many survivors. So it was not you who sent me here, but God. He has made me a father to Pharaoh, and lord of all his house and ruler over all the land of Egypt. Hurry and go up to my father and say to him, ‘Thus says your son Joseph, God has made me lord of all Egypt. Come down to me; do not tarry.’”

Wow. Three times he says it was God who was behind all this. Even their evil intent to get rid of Joseph was something God was using for His own purposes. And it was not just the preservation of Israel that happened as a result of all this, but the continuation of a godly line that eventually led to the Messiah.

Yes, our choices really do matter, and our bad choices are something we are morally accountable for. And yet by God’s grace, He is able to bring good out of our wrong choices. As Joseph also told his brothers in Gen. 50:20:

“As for you, you meant evil against me, but God meant it for good, to bring it about that many people should be kept alive, as they are today.”

Again, the evil the brothers were involved in was real evil, and they were responsible for the choices they had made. Yet God is able to weave the events of life into good outcomes. We may not always be aware of what good is coming out of the things happening to us, including the bad choices others make about us.

Yet God is still on the throne, and He is still working out His purposes. As Romans 8:28 so beautifully puts it,

“And we know that for those who love God all things work together for good, for those who are called according to His purpose.”

This was certainly true of Joseph. He loved God, yet suffered all sorts of hardships and difficulties, including spending some years in prison in Egypt (see chapters 39-41). And the betrayals by his own brothers would have especially been hard to endure. But God was still able to redeem the various situations and transform them into something very good indeed.

The moral of the story is this: our choices are significant, and there will be consequences for our choices. But we are not left stuck in that situation. If God is put first in our life, we can see Him doing amazing things, even using the suffering and tribulations we are going through to have a good result.

Yes, we all have to serve someone. But it makes a really big difference whom we choose to serve.


Originally published at CultureWatch.
Image: Jacopo Pontormo, “Joseph in Egypt” (1515-1518)/Wikimedia Commons

Thank the Source

How NOT to Help Others

If we really want to help other people, we must do it God’s way.

If we care about others, we of course want to help them when and where we can. But not everything we do may be helpful. We may in fact cause more harm than good by not doing that which is really in the other person’s best interests. Here I speak more to this, coming from a biblical point of view, of course.

Consider this: You will take a stand for biblical truth and morality, and you will get plenty of opposition, resistance and angry reactions. This is to be expected of course from non-Christians. But the really worrying thing is how many folks calling themselves Christian will have the same negative reaction. And so often this happens because the believer has a close friend or relative involved in some harmful or sinful behaviour.

Making Excuses

So you will often hear something like this: ‘I have an X (sister, brother, spouse, cousin, niece, relative, friend, etc), who is involved in Y (homosexuality, transgenderism, fornication, adultery, etc), so I will not judge them or call out their sin. I care about them and therefore I cannot speak against what they are involved in. I would rather defend them than go with what Scripture might say on this issue.’

Sadly, this is so very common among some Christians. Sure, we can all understand wanting to support a loved one or relative and be there for them. But when you end up siding against God and His Word to do so, you really are not helping these people — you are actually hurting and damaging them.

I am sure many of you have encountered folks like this as well. Because they have a loved one who is involved in some sin or some activity or lifestyle that the Bible clearly condemns, they will stand with them and reject what the Bible says about it. In their mistaken sense of ‘loving’ the person, they prefer to tell God that he is wrong.

They have made a choice. They can either keep agreeing with what God has said on these matters, or they can reject that and instead seek to validate and justify the activities and behaviours of their friend or relative. Of course, we should seek to obey God and seek to help others, but that always involves telling the person truth — biblical truth.

When the Bible says without equivocation that no adulterer or homosexual will enter the kingdom of God (see for example 1 Corinthians 6:9-11), then we either agree or disagree. Here we have a choice to make: we either affirm what God has said about these matters, or we run with a fake love and tell God to butt out. And that is exactly what too many believers do.

True Compassion

As I say, I see this happening all the time. In one situation, someone took me to task for writing on a recent case on transgenderism that had made the news. An Anglican priest had fully embraced and defended this and was causing all sorts of mischief in the churches. But this person said he had a relative who was trans, and so I needed to stop being judgemental and show some compassion. What follows is a version of how I sought to respond to this person:

Sadly you have completely missed the point of this article, and really about everything I have ever written on this and related subjects. And I have written hundreds of articles on this — even books — to carefully make my case. So let me try to once again explain things in a brief and simple fashion.

~ I of course knew nothing about your situation in this regard. I did not write this piece with you in mind. I had no awareness that you might have a relative involved in this. This article is about a vicar in the UK and the damage he is doing, as he twists the Word of God in diabolical ways to justify his lifestyle.

Did you actually read the whole article, or did you instead just run with an emotive knee-jerk reaction? Moreover, did you think the priest was right in what he was saying and doing? If not, why not? It would be interesting to hear your views on the topic that I actually wrote about.

~ I always have a real problem when someone comes along and says that we cannot comment on something unless we have experienced or encountered it directly. That of course is the standard line used by folks to justify all sorts of things.

How many times have pro-lifers heard it said, for example, that we cannot speak out against abortion unless we are female and unless we have had abortions ourselves? This is obviously just plain foolish. I can and should denounce things like rape, even though I have never experienced it personally. Some things are wrong, full stop, regardless if they have been personally experienced or not.

~ It goes without saying that as believers we are to have compassion on others and pray for them. And I did speak of the need for prayer in my article. Prayer and compassion are for everyone, whether the person is a Sunday School teacher, a homosexual, a trans person, a drug addict, or a bank robber. But obviously, we are to love them in the biblical sense of the word.

And that always means willing the highest good for the other person. Loving a homosexual means wanting to see them set free from a risky and dead-end lifestyle. Thus the most loving (and truthful) thing you can tell a homosexual is, ‘You don’t have to be gay.’

It is the same with those caught up in the trans agenda. Loving a trans person is not catering to their delusions and not being happy with them lopping off parts of their body and causing irreversible physical damage to themselves. Instead, loving them means wanting them to get the mental, psychological and spiritual help they really need.

~ As I have often said, if we have a person who is anorexic and identifies as being overweight, and is close to dying because she is so underweight, is it really compassionate and loving to go along with this harmful delusion and encourage the person in that?

How can anyone claiming to be a Christian just pretend everything is fine in this situation? How can we say God is wrong when He clearly said He made us male or female? It is always tragic when concern for someone we know causes us to jettison Scripture. Doing that will not help the person we are concerned about — it will harm them instead.

~ In this article, I was NOT talking about some person that you might know, but an Anglican priest who is misleading many. Approving of those who are twisting Scripture and misleading people into a lost eternity is hardly a loving or compassionate thing to do.

If a loved one comes out in any sinful lifestyle, we still love them of course, but we love them enough to want them to be set free, because Jesus is in the transformation business. That is what the Gospel is all about: turning peoples’ lives around and freeing them from the clutches of the devil.

All this is just basic Christian teaching. How anyone claiming to be a biblical Christian can not understand all this is a mystery to me. It really is. We have simply ditched Scripture and basic Christian ethics when we think the loving thing to do is affirm and encourage a person who is living in a sinful, ungodly lifestyle.


It should be clear that I am not picking on just one individual here. As I say, I come across folks like this all the time. Often they are strong Bible-believing Christians, but because some situation like this arises in their personal circles, they may start to waver or weaken in their beliefs.

Again, it is understandable that a person wants to support and stay close to a friend or loved one. But there is a basic biblical reality that we must always keep in mind: when a conflict arises between a personal experience (our own, or that of another) and the clear teachings of Scripture, then the latter should always trump the former.

But way too often, we allow experiences we have had — or others have had — to determine how we run with the Bible. This is not only doing things backwards, but it is sinful and idolatrous. God and His truth must always come first. Otherwise, we demonstrate how little we care about Him and His Word.

And as I keep saying, if we really want to help and love other people, we will do it God’s way, and not against God’s way. When we run with a humanistic, sentimental or worldly ‘love’, it is NOT going to help the other person. It will simply harm them further, as well as send them to a lost eternity. There is certainly nothing loving about that.


Originally published at CultureWatch. Photo by Andrea Piacquadio.

Thank the Source

The New Religion of Climate Change

by Ruth Burgess

Is there a dark side to religious environmentalism?

Between 6-18th November, the UN climate conference COP27 was held on the Sinai Peninsula in Sharm El Sheikh, Egypt. What may not be so well-known is that religious leaders from across the three monotheistic faiths signed the “Jerusalem Climate Declaration” just prior to the climate conference.  Their stated aim was to encourage and empower religious communities around the world to curb climate change.

It has been revealed that at the conference, interfaith leaders also gathered to call for “climate justice and a ceremony of repentance”, during which a “New Ten Commandments” was conceived.  The organisations responsible for co-ordinating this were: the Elijah Interfaith Institute and its Board of World Religious Leaders; the Interfaith Centre for Sustainable Development (ICSD); the Peace Department, a US non-profit; and climate activist Yosef Abramowitz.

The newly developed “Ten Principles for Climate Repentance” are:

  1. We are stewards of this world
  2. Creation manifests divinity
  3. Everything in life is interconnected
  4. Do no harm
  5. Look after tomorrow
  6. Rise above ego for our world
  7. Change our inner climate
  8. Repent and return
  9. Every action matters
  10. Use mind, open heart

Long in the Making

However, the new 10 commandments are not so new. The 10 commandments of climate change were devised some time ago by Pope Francis. An article from 2015 cites Pope Francis calling for a ‘cultural revolution’ to halt the ‘disturbing warming of our planet’.  The actual document is 184 pages, but the summarised commandments can be seen here.

It is no surprise that Pope Francis is a leading voice in promoting the coming together of world religions to address what is widely perceived as an existential crisis. He has always encouraged interreligious dialogue and collaboration. This was clearly demonstrated in the first ever ‘Pope Video’ message on his ‘Monthly Prayer Intentions’ (2016), where he makes the assertion that regardless of religion, we are all children of God:

“Many think differently, feel differently, seeking God or meeting God in different ways. In this crowd, in this range of religions, there is only one certainty that we have for all: we are all children of God.”

The video features representatives of Buddhism, Christianity, Islam and Judaism, who proclaim their respective beliefs in God, Jesus Christ, Allah and Buddha; and who then declare their common belief in “love”. See here:

religious pluralism

Scripture, however, disagrees with the Pope — we are not all children of God.

“The true light that gives light to everyone was coming into the world.
He was in the world, and though the world was made through Him, the world did not recognise Him. He came to that which was His own, but His own did not receive Him.
Yet to all who did receive Him, to those who believed in His name, He gave the right to become children of God — children born not of natural descent, nor of human decision or a husband’s will, but born of God.”
~ John 1:9-13

Moses, the Ten Commandments, and Religious Environmentalism

In our times, the focus of this interfaith movement appears to be what is commonly termed the “climate crisis”.

One of the plans was to hold a large ceremony of repentance on Jabal Musa (purportedly the biblical Mt Sinai site). However, only a small group of faith leaders were allowed due to security concerns. As we know, Mt Sinai is a sacred place of revelation.  It was the place where God’s Ten Commandments were revealed to Moses and written by the finger of God on two stone tablets.

On one of Moses’ Mt Sinai ascensions, he was away so long that the Israelites, thinking he may have perished, demanded Aaron make an idol for them to worship and to go before them as their god. Aaron made a golden calf, and the people rejoiced. When God revealed this to Moses, he descended in a rage, and witnessing the celebrations, smashed the stone tablets in anger — perhaps to demonstrate how badly the Israelites had broken God’s Law.

In a mock representation of this historic event, climate activist Yosef Abramowitz smashed two tablets atop Jabal Musa to symbolise the world’s lack of action on climate change. In doing so, Yosef was expressing anger at man’s disregard for the earth, rather than man’s rebellion against God’s eternal Law (as per Moses’s action). One of these tablets was painted with the words “broken promises” in Hebrew; the other was painted green to symbolise the “green commandments”.

Yosef Abramowitz climate-commandments

Yosef Abramowitz smashes tablets atop Jebel Musa in Egypt, thought by some to be the site of Mount Sinai, to symbolize the world’s lack of action on climate change, November 13, 2022. (Sue Surkes/Times of Israel)

“The Climate Crisis is a Spiritual Crisis”

Rabbi Yonatan Neril, the founder of the ICSD, stated:

“The climate crisis is a spiritual crisis and therefore we need the world’s religious leaders to address the problem. We will do everything to unite as many religious leaders as possible in the world to act on the climate issue.”

The interfaith re-dress of the “climate crisis” has now been initiated, with representatives of all the world’s major religions gathering on Nov 13th simultaneously in London, Sharm El Sheikh, Jerusalem and other locations around the world to hold a Climate Repentance Ceremony.

It’s interesting to note that the places chosen are the high points: London’s Parliament Hill, and high points in Jerusalem, Salt Lake City, Ecuador, Australia, India’s Mt Abu, and Mt St Francis in Indiana. Biblically speaking, the high places were the sites of pagan rituals.

Here, the leaders walked together in a “prayerful, penitential march” with scrolls bearing the Ten Principles for Climate Repentance.  This was followed by a planned series of climate change events for religious leaders all over the world: uniting for the sake of the planet.

climate change interfaith leaders

Global religious leaders on Parliament Hill, the highest point in London, with scrolls in hand.

Creation Care vs Gaia Worship

All Christians agree that God has commanded us to be good stewards of the earth, and in this, we could certainly do better. Care for God’s creation is supported by a number of passages in the Bible:  the original call to stewardship being in Genesis:

God blessed them and said to them, “Be fruitful and increase in number; fill the earth and subdue it. Rule over the fish in the sea and the birds in the sky and over every living creature that moves on the ground.”
~ Genesis 1:28

Others include (not an exhaustive list): Leviticus 25:23-24; Ezekiel 34:2-4; Isaiah 24:4-6; Jeremiah 2:7; and Revelation 11:18.

And so, there is no dispute that we are charged to look after the planet we live on. However, God’s first two commandments clearly state that we are to have no other gods before Him and are not to make idols. Therefore, questions need to be asked regarding the spirit of this movement. Have God’s commandments been replaced by new commandments? Has the earth become an object of worship rather than stewardship?

eco-BibleThere is no doubt that in addition to emotional manipulation, religious language and imagery are being used by this movement: new prophets, new commandments, new covenant, and even a new “Eco Bible” (an Amazon Kindle #1 best seller) are examples. A quick google search will also reveal an ever-increasing and evolving pantheistic worldview, through the popularity of Gaia worship and other manifestations of earth worship, which emphasise worshipping the creation rather than the Creator.

What appears is be occurring is that our “climate crisis” is acting as a catalyst for a new religion embraced by many belief systems. This new religion is a non-judgemental, feel-good religion of ecumenism and inclusion, and acceptance of all people and all lifestyles. Notably, the only exception — the only people being rejected — are the followers of Jesus Christ.

God Never Forgets His Covenant

Regardless of this humanistic movement, and the object of worship that unites them, it’s comforting to know that God remains in control. He is sovereign and rules over the earth, its climate and all the events to come:

And God said, “This is the sign of the covenant I am making between Me and you and every living creature with you, a covenant for all generations to come: I have set My rainbow in the clouds, and it will be the sign of the covenant between Me and the earth.

Whenever I bring clouds over the earth and the rainbow appears in the clouds, I will remember My covenant between Me and you and all living creatures of every kind. Never again will the waters become a flood to destroy all life.

Whenever the rainbow appears in the clouds, I will see it and remember the everlasting covenant between God and all living creatures of every kind on the earth.”
~ Genesis 9:12-16


Photo by Centre for Ageing Better.

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Great Books: Remembering Some Recent Classics

Great Books: Remembering Some Recent Classics

We must read — or re-read — these three crucial volumes.

Yes I know, calling a recent book — or a recent anything — classic can be a risky thing to do. After all, usually we reserve the term ‘classic’ for something that has stood the test of time — and that usually means a long time. But certain things, including certain books, can be somewhat newer yet still deserve the appellation ‘classic’. Here I want to look at three of them.

I may turn this into an irregular series. The articles will be a halfway house between a proper book review and a recommended reading list. But they will be one way to alert others to some authors and some books which we really should not forget about — or be introduced to for the very first time.

The three volumes I have chosen for this piece were all penned during the 80s. All are written by American Christians who were born in the 30s. All deal with how Christians should deal with politics, social issues and the culture wars. All are excellent works indeed, and all should be on your bookshelves.

Here I will simply say a few words about each author and the book, and then offer a few quotes.

Kingdoms in Conflict by Charles Colson (Zondervan, 1987)

Colson (1931-2012) was well known for his involvement in the Nixon administration and the Watergate affair. But he became a Christian while in prison, and went on to pen numerous important books, as well as serve in very practical ways, such as in founding Prison Fellowship.

In this crucial volume, he looks at the issues of church and state and how the two should proceed. He includes moving vignettes of how Christian political and social involvement has been best exemplified, as in Wilberforce and abolition; Bonhoeffer and Nazism; Cardinal Mindzenty of Hungary; Cardinal Sin of the Philippines; Cardinal Wyszynski of Poland; and others. It is a clarion call to Christian interaction with society that avoids the twin errors of politicising the Gospel or privatising the faith.

“Wise men and women have long recognized the need for the transcendent authority of religion to give society its legitimacy and essential cohesion. One of the most vigorous arguments was made by Cicero, who maintained that religion is ‘indispensable to private morals and public order… and no man of sense will attack it.’

Augustine argued that the essence of public harmony could be found only in justice, the source of which is divine. ‘In the absence of justice,’ he asked, ‘what is sovereignty but organized brigandage?’ In the West the primary civilizing force was Christianity. According to historian Christopher Dawson, Christianity provided a transcendent spiritual end which gave Western culture its dynamic purpose. It furnished the soul for Western civilization and provided moral legitimization…” p. 47

“Paul also says that government’s authority is from God; it is a delegation. Therefore, governments — all governments — whether they acknowledge it or not, rule under God. But does God give an unrestricted delegation? Certainly not. As Jesus made clear with the coin, there are two realms — and Caesar is not to usurp what belongs to God. Any government that violates the law that is higher than its own is exceeding the legitimate authority God has granted. As Dietrich Bonhoeffer put it, ‘If government persistently and arbitrarily violates the assigned task, then the divine mandate lapses.’

“In that case the state becomes evil incarnate, as in Nazi Germany. Instead of acting as God’s instrument of preserving life and order, it does the reverse, destroying life and order. Then, the church must resist. Though as argued earlier, the church’s primary function is evangelization and ministering to spiritual needs; as the principle visible manifestation of the Kingdom of God, it must be the conscience of society, the instrument of moral accountability. Richard Neuhaus eloquently wrote that ‘the church can and should subject to moral questioning every political agenda or cause, thus keeping the entirety of human politics under the transcendent judgment of God’.” p. 329

The Naked Public Square by Richard John Neuhaus (Eerdmans, 1984)

Richard John Neuhaus (1936-2009) was on an interesting journey. He began as a man of the left but then moved to the right. And later in life (in 1990), he left Lutheranism to become a Catholic. He was the founder and editor of the monthly journal First Things. He also penned numerous important works, including this one.

In it, he makes the case that politics has broken loose from its sacred source. Modernity has clashed with tradition, and society has become desacralised, with statism, hedonism, humanism and decay the bitter fruit. There is a need to reconstruct a public philosophy that is again built on the firm foundation of the Judeo-Christian worldview.

“We hear it said, also in the churches, that every question is finally a political question. We can be very grateful that that is not true. If one means that the gospel of the coming kingdom is about the coming of the ultimate New Politics — the new and right ordering of all things — then, in that sense, everything is political. From the Christian perspective, to live in the presence of that final promise is to know that there is nothing that is not engaged by the promise’s fulfilment. But that is not what is ordinarily meant by politics, and it is not the meaning of politics in the present discussion.

Politics is the business (more art than science) of governing. It has to do most essentially with power-getting, keeping, and exercising it. I am aware that this is not a very elevated view of politics. Politics can involve nobler works and even visions. But they are not essentially what politics is about. We should resist being taken in by inflated and romantic views of politics. It is in the interest of politicians and the hordes of people who make their living by talking about what politicians do to disguise the stark and simple truth that they are engaged in getting and keeping power. Power, in turn, is the ability to get other people to do what you want, and not to do what you do not want. People who make their living doing that are said to govern.” pp. 29-30

“The deeper truth is that reform, if it is real reform, is an exercise of love. Prophecy, if it is real prophecy, is an exercise of love. Amos, Hosea, and Jeremiah employed such harsh language in criticizing the children of Israel precisely because they thought more of the people than the people thought of themselves. The prophets were in love with, were possessed by, a vision of the dignity and destiny of those they addressed. The outrageousness of sin and failure was in direct proportion to the greatness of God’s intent for his people. Prophecy was always an exercise of love, never of contempt, for those to whom the prophet addressed his criticism.” p. 70

Idols for Destruction by Herbert Schlossberg (Thomas Nelson, 1983)

While this author (1935-2019), may not be quite as well known as the other two, as an able historian he was well-placed to pen this book, and it rightly deserves its place here. The book’s subtitle explains what his subject is all about: “Christian Faith and Its Confrontation with American Society.” Our culture is in a major war — a war between the one true God and all the false gods seeking to displace Him.Idols for Destruction book

If we refuse to worship the God Who is there, we will worship something — anything. And whatever that may be, it is idolatry. Thus part of the Christian calling is to pull down, to destroy, those idols. But I am not referring to pulling down statues or destroying images. I refer to challenging the intellectual and ideological idols of our day. And they are many.

“Perhaps the most characteristic feature of modern history, one which impinges upon virtually every area of life, has been the development of the nation-state. So pervasive is its influence, so ‘normal’ do its vast powers seem, that to read a document that seeks to limit severely the scope of those powers — even so recent a one as the Constitution of the United States — evokes a sense of great antiquity and strangeness.” p. 177

“What is widely regarded as a struggle between the religious and the secular is really a struggle between religions. The current strife over such issues as abortion is perfectly in order, because it is an attempt by both sides to establish a rule of order in accordance with basic religious precepts. Man is the autonomous ruler of himself, able to define right and wrong and frame statutes according to whatever he defines as just. Or else man is created and sustained by a holy and just God who declares on matters of right and wrong in the form of law. Both are religious views held by faith. In the most basic sense there is no such thing as a secular culture.” p. 275

“Society’s most important institutions serve the socializing function, making people better balanced and adjusted to the way things are. And that is why they are so dangerous. All education is of necessity value-laden, and the public school is the most powerful of these instruments of conformity. Its goal is to instil society’s norms and to discredit deviant ideas.

The best elements of the Christian school movement — often dismissed as an expression of racism by the humanist defenders of the status quo — is a determined No! by parents to the homogenization of American life, a recognition that the model to which their children are intended to be conformed has become evil.” p. 310

It is hoped that those of you who have not yet read these books will now be tempted to do so. And for those of you who already have them, it might be time to pull them off the shelves and blow off the dust and give them another good perusal.


Originally published at CultureWatch. Photo by Josh Hild.

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