Christianity Something fishy Assorted snippets



Assorted snippets

Above, The Worshipful Company of Fishmongers, Coat of Arms and Motto.

Above, Billingsgate Fish Market

Painting, 'Der Heilige Antonius,' St Anthony preaching to the fish. The sermon of St Anthony to the fish is discussed below



Above, photograph. Representation of Noah's Ark at 'Ark Encounter,' a Christian pseudoscientific creationist theme park in Kentucky, USA.


Above, painting, The Flood of Noah and Companions (c. 1911) by Leon Comerre, Musee d' Arts de Nantes.


Below, some  of the fish created in an amazingly short time by God, according to Creationist Christians, and carried in Noah's Ark, according to Fundamentalist Christians, together with whales and all other marine animals and all land animals:















Shown above: 1. Humpback anglerfish 2. Gigantactis 3. barreleye 4.telescopefish 5. stoplight loosejaw 6. daggertooth 7. flabby whalefish 8. Sloane's viperfish 9. black swallower 10, 11, 12. Great White Shark



ΙΧΘΥΣ, the Greek word for 'fish.' The letters of the word are the first letters of these words:


Greek for
'Jesus Christ, God's Son, Saviour'. The ichthus symbol was used by early Christians. The ichthus symbol is often seen on American vehicles to show that the owner's Christian belief isn't in doubt but that the owner's rationality and capacity to examine evidence are in doubt.


Ichtheology: new branch of theology, devised by me. The study of the linkages between theology and ichthyology, the study of fish.


'fishy:' established meaning, doubtful, suspicious, questionable. Newer meaning, not just doubtful, suspicious, questionable but bizarre, deluded, shocking, as in 'The theology of Calvin (or Luther or 'St' Paul or Cardinal Newman) is fishy.


Scrutinizing and holding to account selected Christians, Christian churches and Christian organizations in South Yorkshire and beyond.

I wouldn't deny the faint possibility that 'Billingsgate,' the name of this page, not the name of the fish market in London, could conceivably have some slight linkage with a certain Dr Billings, South Yorkshire Police and Crime Commissioner, who seems certain, for the time being, that his Christian faith explains, in general terms, the universe and everything in it, including fish, and who seems even more certain of his own rectitude.

There's something very fishy about Christianity - fish permeate it - but I'd make a plea for a new symbol:

The Mouse

'As poor as a church mouse.' These aren't the associations I'd stress. Many, many churches and church organizations are very, very wealthy. It's the phrase 'as timid as a mouse' which conveys the associations I'm thinking of, in particular, the timidity of Christians (including theologians) when confronted with arguments against Christianity. In my experience, total timidity on the part of Christians (including theologians) is the response, or non-response.

The key sticking out of the mouse makes it obvious that this is a mouse which runs automatically, without the need for even the restricted consciousness of a live mouse. To be fair, Christians are closer to the live mouse than this toy mouse - some thinking, of a low order, is required even for Bible-based fundamentalist Christians to operate. But there are linkages with the toy mouse. Dogmatic Christians are easy to wind up, for instance.

It could be claimed that Christians run on wheels, on predetermined tracks. Their path is smooth, once they've accepted Jesus as personal Lord and Saviour, or so they would like to think - or rather, believe - but in reality, they're subject to contingency, afflicted by some harsh realities. They can only evangelize easily when they meet tame or non-existent opposition. They no longer have available the traditional measures of past centuries, which included opportunities to have opponents tortured, hanged and burned alive.

The words of the hymn,


All things bright and beautiful All creatures great and small All things wise and wonderful 'Twas God that made them all

He gave us eyes to see them And lips that we might tell How great is the Almighty Who has made all things well

God's attention to detail is certainly evident in the design of that killing machine, the Great White Shark, created by God, allegedly, during the busy period described in Genesis.


The Great White Shark is one of the shark species responsible for fatal, unprovoked attacks on humans. When the shark bites, it shakes its head side-to-side, helping the teeth saw off large chunks of flesh.


Still, the teeth of the Great White Shark seem like beginner's work compared with the oblique and serrated teeth of the Tiger Shark, a far more advanced set of equipment, it would seem, for sawing off lumps of flesh.


The miracle of Saint Anthony of Padua


From a Roman Catholic site devoted to the Saint:


The story goes that one day Anthony went to Rimini where there were a lot of heretics. He started to preach, but they did not want to listen to him, and they even mocked him. In a dramatic gesture, Anthony went to the seashore, saying, “Because you show yourself unworthy of God’s word, behold, I turn to the fishes so that your unbelief may be shown up more clearly”. As he spoke of God’s care for those creatures that live in the waters, a shoal of fish swam near to the bank, partly thrusting themselves out of the water and appearing to listen carefully. At the end of his sermon, the Saint blessed them and they swam away. In the meantime, so deep was the impression made upon the onlookers that many hurried back to the city imploring their friends to come and see the miracle, while others burst into tears asking forgiveness. Soon after a great multitude gathered around the Saint, who exhorted them to turn back to God. So through this sermon, the city of Rimini was purged of heresy.

Comment: These 'heretics' were very lucky. They weren't burned alive for their heresy.

For earlier natural historians, there was little problem finding room for all known animal species in the Ark. Less than a century later, discoveries of new species made it increasingly difficult to justify a literal interpretation for the Ark story. By the middle of the 18th century only a few natural historians accepted a literal interpretation of the narrative.


Genesis 6:

And God said to Noah, “The end of all flesh has come before Me, for the earth is filled with violence through them; and behold, I will destroy them with the earth. 14Make yourself an ark of gopherwood; make [g]rooms in the ark, and cover it inside and outside with pitch. 15And this is how you shall make it: The length of the ark shall be three hundred [h]cubits, its width fifty cubits, and its height thirty cubits. 16You shall make a window for the ark, and you shall finish it to a cubit from above; and set the door of the ark in its side. You shall make it with lower, second, and third decks. 17And behold, I Myself am bringing floodwaters on the earth, to destroy from under heaven all flesh in which is the breath of life; everything that is on the earth shall die. 18But I will establish My covenant with you; and you shall go into the ark—you, your sons, your wife, and your sons’ wives with you. 19And of every living thing of all flesh you shall bring two of every sort into the ark, to keep them alive with you; they shall be male and female. 20Of the birds after their kind, of animals after their kind, and of every creeping thing of the earth after its kind, two of every kind will come to you to keep them alive. 


The view, held by fundamentalists but not just fundamentalists, that the Bible offers clear guides to what a Christian should believe and how a Christian should behave, is naive and false. Christian doctrines are based on texts that are so often interpretative minefields. Single words, for example  ἀρσενοκοῖται (used in 1 Corinthians 6:9-10) have been interpreted in contradictory ways.


If a Christian has feelings of rapture, joy, awe, ardent appreciation, the feelings aren't an infallible validation of religious beliefs, they aren't an infallible validation of  the content of the Bible. A Roman Catholic has these feelings when praying to the Virgin Mary or a Saint. An atheist - and a protestant, or most protestants - will be sceptical.  These images are propagandist, not inspirational, and the first image here, of a man sailing on a Bible-boat, is ludicrous:




This image is intended to give the believer the  idea that chains can be easily broken - by faith. Metal chains need a bolt cutter or another tool to cut them and can't be snapped just like that. Metaphorical chains may be impossible to break or very difficult to break.



Did God cause the flood which wiped out humanity and all the animals of the world, apart from the lucky few saved in Noah's Ark? Is the Biblical account to be trusted? Are the Biblical events of so many events to be trusted? Does God still cause floods, such as the devastating floods which have occurred in so many parts of the world. If does, is it to punish sin? Or are floods to be explained in terms of atmospheric physics and other branches of science.


These images may appeal to people in the grip of illusion but they amount to gross falsification, surely:





Above, painting by James Tissot  showing the fall of the Tower of Siloam - innocent people about to be crushed by falling masonry. The contrast between modern, secular views of building construction and the view of Jesus and so many of his followers, past and present, which put the emphasis upon sin and repentance. This section followed by comments on the collapse of buildings during earthquakes, the crushing of innocent people by falling masonry and the contrast between modern views of earthquakes and orthodox Christian views, which put the emphasis upon sin and repentance.

Modern structural engineering, modern building codes, are intended to prevent collapse of buildings.   The view of Jesus, as reported in Luk 13: 1- 5. (Translation: New International Version.)

1.Now there were some present at that time who told Jesus about the Galileans whose blood Pilate had mixed with their sacrifices. 2 Jesus answered, “Do you think that these Galileans were worse sinners than all the other Galileans because they suffered this way? 3 I tell you, no! But unless you repent, you too will all perish. 4 Or those eighteen who died when the tower in Siloam fell on them—do you think they were more guilty than all the others living in Jerusalem? 5 I tell you, no! But unless you repent, you too will all perish.” 



Images above, the Turkey-Syria earthquake of 2023. From  top left, a Turkish flag flown at half-mast as a sign of mourning for the victims of the earthquake; a man sitting on a pavement in front of collapsed buildings; people surveying the damage after the earthquake; a collapsed police station; displaced earthquake victims take shelter at an exhibition centre.



Above, search and rescue, Ankara, Turkey. K9 Dog Unit.



Above, the rational, scientific approach - Seismogram record of the Turkey-Syria earthquake



Above, the rational, scientific approach - geological map showing the origin of the earthquake, as explained by plate tectonics. Wikipedia: 'The location of the earthquake places it within the vicinity of a triple junction between the Anatolian, Arabian and African plates.'


If the account in Genesis is to be believed, God created the world, including the geology of this area - an area in which, as in other seismically active regions, buildings are in danger of collapse and men, women and children are in danger of being crushed. How can the dangers the face, the sufferings they endure, be due to sin? Surely, this is nothing to do with sin?


This would be to underestimate the cruelty of orthodox Christian beliefs. These orthodox Christian beliefs are supported by the 'evidence' of the Bible, but are based on gross misrepresentations of evidence which owes nothing to dogmatic belief.


Extract from the article 'Why did God allow the earthquake?'  'The Trumpet' (February 6, 2023).


The author does mention, very, very briefly, some scientific findings which belong to a completely different world from his delusionary world:

' ... at 4:15 this morning, local time, some layers of rock shifted.'


This is followed by 'argument' and 'evidence' from the Bible:


 The Bible states that the devil is real. Not only that, but he has also deceived the whole world. And not only that, but he is the god of this world.


This understanding comes straight from the Bible! (see 2 Corinthians 4:4).


Does the world around you begin to make a little more sense when you realize that the god of this world is actually the devil?


The Bible describes the age we live in as “this present evil world” (Galatians 1:4). That is exactly what it is, and this evil world has an evil god.

Ezekiel 28 describes a magnificent archangel who was “full of wisdom, and perfect in beauty” (verse 12). Isaiah 14 tells us God gave this angel authority to rule the Earth. But then this angel turned to evil, and tried to seize God’s throne. This angel’s name was Lucifer. After he rebelled, God changed his name to Satan. And notice: God cast him back down to Earth (Ezekiel 28:16; Revelation 12:9, 12).


Satan hates human beings. But God loves them, and if He has the power to cast down Satan and confine him to Earth, He has the power to protect people from disasters.


Why is God allowing these disasters? He is teaching us something.


The sadness, the misery, the tragedy that surrounds us is not something to try ever more desperately to ignore. It’s something we must face up to—and learn from.


[Next, the author mentions the collapse of the Tower of Siloam]


Jesus Christ faced these facts. In His day, a building collapsed, tragically crushing 18 people. He said, “[T]hink ye that they were sinners above all men that dwelt in Jerusalem? I tell you, Nay: but, except ye repent, ye shall all likewise perish” (Luke 13:4-5).


Jesus Christ Himself directly discussed the exact kind of aftermath that millions of Turks and Syrians are sifting through right now. He acknowledged that some human beings suffer and die in seemingly senseless tragedies, and the reason—put forward by some—that they were more sinful than those who continue to live is not true.


But if these victims did not commit greater sins to deserve greater punishment, then why are they suffering?

We have all been influenced by “the god of this world” who “deceives the whole world.” Romans 3:23 says that all human beings are guilty of sin. Ecclesiastes 9:11 says that time and chance happen to everyone. Jesus said that, one way or another, we will “all likewise perish”—unless we repent!

Repenting means giving up your entire way of life—and submitting to God’s way of life. It means turning to the true God and allowing Him to rule you.

Jesus showed that the disasters people are suffering are warnings to those who believe in God. One way or another, your brief existence will end—unless you repent of your sins and turn to God. This is what these images from Turkey are teaching us, if we will recognize the lesson. The most fundamental lesson a human being can learn is to face the truth of his own helplessness apart from God.

But what about those who died? You might think they can’t learn any lessons from their own deaths. But what does the Bible say?

Thus saith the Lord God unto these bones; Behold, I will cause breath to enter into you, and ye shall live.
—Ezekiel 37:5

And I saw the dead, small and great, stand before God ….
—Revelation 20:12

The plain truth of the Bible is that all those who have died will live again! They will be resurrected to physical life. At that time, the god of this world will no longer be Satan: It will be Jesus Christ!

And God shall wipe away all tears from their eyes; and there shall be no more death, neither sorrow, nor crying, neither shall there be any more pain ….
—Revelation 21:4


To summarize: Satan is the god of this world. God allows him to inflict suffering and death—to teach a valuable, eternal lesson to those who will repent.

In the future, God will replace Satan as ruler over the world, He will resurrect those who have died, and He will give them the opportunity to repent and share a relationship with Him. Why does God allow suffering? This is God’s answer—from the Bible.


The Lisbon earthquake of 1755 was one of the most deadly earthquakes in recorded history. It was the first earthquake to be studied in anything like a scientific way. It marked the birth of seismology and was associated with important developments in earthquake engineering. It was widely discussed by writers and thinkers of the European Enlightenment and is associated with major developments in theodicy. Voltaire made use of the earthquake in 'Candide', which attacks the view that all is for the best  in this, 'the best of all possible worlds,' and that this world is under the control of a benevolent God.




One of the areas devastated by the Lisbon earthquake was the Pombaline Lower Town. Buildings in the Pombaline area are amongst the first buildings in Europe to be constructed using designs which include seismic protection. Small wooden models were built for testing and simulation of earthquakes was carried out by having troops marching around the models: a very interesting application of human ingenuity to lessen the devastating effects of earthquakes. Earthquakes are


Below, model of the protective structure called 'gaiola pombalina,' (Pombaline Cage.)




Extracts from the article by Michael McCullough (September 21, 2020)

 “The eighteenth century used the word Lisbon much as we use the word Auschwitz today,” wrote the philosopher Susan Neiman. For decades, people throughout Europe and the New World walked around with the “Lisbon Question” on their lips: If horrors like Lisbon can happen, what kind of world are we living in? And how should we live in it? Lisbon drastically altered how nineteenth-century people thought about their relationship to nature, and about how to brace themselves against nature’s enormity and caprice. It also revolutionized how they thought about their ethical obligations to suffering people in distant lands. We are the heirs of this conceptual revolution, which the political scientist Michael Barnett has named the “Humanitarian Big Bang.”




Lisbon also marks a turning point in how we explain natural disasters. Before Lisbon, large natural disasters were customarily viewed as God’s rebukes for humanity’s hubris and sin. Following the Great Fire of London, for instance, which in 1666 laid waste to most of the old city of London, preachers of every denomination exhorted Londoners  to repent for the many varieties of iniquity that had provoked God into torching the city. After Lisbon, however, people increasingly came to see natural disasters as the outcomes of long chains of interaction between matter and energy—that is, as purely physical events that were uninterested in human morality and indifferent to human welfare. The transition from supernatural explanations to naturalistic ones was not easy to make because it required people to turn their backs on strong intuitions and firmly held religious convictions.


I'd make the comment that Alan Billings places great reliance on his 'strong intuitions' and 'firmly held religious convictions.' I take the view that this reliance has led him to make many mistakes, including serious mistakes.



Above, creationism: display at the Creation Museum near Covington, Kentucky, USA. The display makes the claim that 'God's perfect creation' (the display overlooks any design faults such as earthquakes) began in 4004 BC. This is the 'Ussher chronology,' formulated in the 17th century by the Archbishop of Armagh and Primate of All Ireland. Modern creationists follow Archbishop Ussher in believing that the universe was created by God as  described in the first two chapters of the book of Genesis. Creationists would deny that this is simply a matter of belief. They would maintain that there are 'proofs' that the world - the universe as a whole - was created by God and that the universe was created a few millennia ago. To them, the proofs are Biblical proofs based on Biblical evidence - proofs and evidence which are supposedly certain, whilst the views of 'Man' are far less certain. The findings of science are far less certain, far more prone to error, than the evidence of Genesis.




Above, comment on God and earthquakes. Now, comment on other 'Acts of God,' storms and shipwrecks.


In The Great Storm of 26 November, 1703, over 1,000 seamen died on the Goodwin Sands, 700 ships were blown together in the Pool of London, huge waves on the River Thames, nearly 2 metres higher than ever recorded in London destroyed more than 5,000 homes along the river, about 400 windmills were destroyed, there was extensive flooding in the West Country, a ship was driven 24 km inland, another was blown by the winds a distance of 320 km, from Cornwall to the Isle of Wight. Between 8,000 and 15,000 people died in all. The first Eddystone Lighthouse was destroyed later, on 8 December, killing six occupants, including its builder, Henry Winstanley.


Below, destruction of the first Eddystone lighthouse, completed in 1699 and the first ocean lighthouse in the world.



Below, view of the fourth Eddystone lighthouse, with the remains of the third lighthouse visible in the background. The third lighthouse is very important for its influence on lighthouse design and the use of concrete in building. The Eddystone lighthouses were built on the dangerous Eddystone rocks. These rocks are submerged at high spring tides and very dangerous.


These and other lighthouses are miracles of human ingenuity, erected only by surmounting enormous difficulties, saving lives. 'Miracles' here has absolutely no theological content. The 'miracles' of the Bible are in a different category completely, belonging to a world of illusion, surely.





by Veronica della Dora.


While rowdy, rock-strewn cliffs and hidden reefs presented an obvious hazard to sailors, the soft sandbanks of shallow seas and estuaries were an equally sinister threat. Of the Goodwin Sands Downs, for example, the English antiquarian and lighthouse historian William Hardy wrote: ‘No more treacherous shoal exists than that ever-shifting mass, that greedy monster that lies beneath the surface of the water, and grasps in the clasp of death every luckless vessel driven within its reach.’ So, from the 17th century onwards, light vessels were employed on bed estuaries and muddy shoals, where erecting a lighthouse was impossible, especially in the northern seas. Lightboats were anchored on the spot and signalled the hazard. Crews stood for weeks at the mercy of the elements, their vessels uncomfortably pitching and rolling


To explain the storm and its destructive effects, the science of meteorology was unavailable at this time, in anything like a developed form. The Church of England declared that the storm was God's vengeance for the sins of the nation. A day of fasting was declared on 19 January, 1704 in the belief that it was sin, not an extratropical cyclone, which had caused the devastation.


The superstitious belief that God could prevent storms or calm storms demanded that people should repent of their sins and fall upon the mercy of God. The belief was reinforced by 'Biblical proof,'  such as the 'miracle' of Jesus calming the storm on the sea of Galilee. Below, the depiction by Rembrandt (1632).



The 'miracle' of 'Calming the storm' is found in the Synoptic gospels, Matthew 8:23–27Mark 4:35–41 and Luke 8:22–25. From the account in Mark:


He then rebuked the wind, and said to the sea, "Peace! Be still!" Then the wind ceased, and there was a dead calm. He said to them, "Why are you afraid? Have you still no faith?" And they were filled with great awe and said to one another, "Who then is this, that even the wind and the sea obey him?


Supplementary, 'Jesus Allegedly Walking on Water'




Above, 'Christ walking on the sea,' by Amédée Varint


Extracts from the Wikipedia entry:


Catholic scholar John P. Meier believes that the miraculous walk on water is a purely theological narrative, without historical foundation.


Some scholars have held the view that while this event took place, it was not miraculous: Albert Schweitzer, for example, suggested that the disciples saw Jesus walking on the shore, but were confused by high wind and darkness; some scholars who accept this "misperception thesis" argue that Mark originally wrote that Jesus walked on the seashore rather than on the sea, and that John had a more accurate version.


Others have held that the entire episode is a "pious legend" (B.H. Branscomb, 1937), based perhaps on some lost incident; perhaps Jesus waded through the surf (Vincent Taylor, 1957), or perhaps he walked on a sand bar (Sherman Johnson, 1972, J.D.M. Derrett, 1981).


Others look for an origin in the mythic world of the Old Testament itself (Christ's victory over the waters paralleling Yahweh's defeat of the primeval Sea, representing Chaos), or within the New Testament, as an originally simple story later embellished with Hellenistic and Old Testament details. In the Hebrew Bible, God gives power over the sea, e.g. to Moses (Ex 14:21–29) or to Elijah (2 kg 2:8).


More on the Bible and the Sea: Liam Brennan (of STC, Sheffield) preaches to the converted and / or people he'd like to convert.  

The Online Church of STC, 11 April, 2021


Screen-shots of some of the Biblical text he uses:



I don't devote much space to the text or his comments on the text, which he obviously accepts as the word of God, or the 'miracle' which he obvously accepts as a historical event, or his understanding of science and natural phenomena, or such obvious questions as this: if God intervened in this case, according to Liam Brennan, why didn't he intervene at any time during the First World War or the Second World War or other wars? In many, perhaps most wars, the people who fought, mainly young, had no choice about going to war. They were compelled and if they refused, they would be executed or severely punished. It can't be in the least likely that the Egyptian army was made up of willing volunteers. These were very likely men who had no choice. The divine act which supposedly drowned them, all of them, was abhorrent.


Liam Brennan is one of the Church Leaders at STC, in charge of 'STC Youth.'

Are young people likely to return to the Churches in large numbers to listen to people like Liam Brennan explaining a ridiculous 'miracle?'  Do they want to hear about the exploits of Moses? Do these things have the least relevance to their lives?


Dr Billings on the scandalous and calamitous shortcomings of Custody Suites

Dr Billings writes,

'But it is certainly not a good idea to have offenders locked up in custody cells 24 hours a day where there is little or no capacity for association, education or recreation.

'They also have to be fed – and with something a little more substantial than the simple meals – pizzas, for example – kept in a custody suite.'


So, educational facilities for Custody Suite Guests. But the preferences and existing interests of guests will be very varied. How to provide tutors to cater for such a wide range of interests? Would  the educational opportunities to be offered involve any practical work? Providing the necessary facilities could pose problems. There would need to be a workshop, a well-equipped kitchen if cooking skills are to be offered. Would there be educational opportunities outsid? If so, a kitchen garden might well be needed. The provision of recreational facilities would pose further problems. At the least, there would have to be a gymnasium with a range of equipment to satisfy the Custody Suite Guests. As for a wider variety of foodstuffs, would it be possible to provide, to give just one example, asparagus in season? Probably not. It has to be said that in custody facilities in Italy, pizza, which appears not to appeal to Dr Billings, would be appreciated very much. There are many good cookery books on Italian cuisine. Perhaps Dr Billings could consult some of them, the sections on pizza.



Dr Billings seems to have overlooked one very important contribution to the welfare of inmates. Although I have a very low opinion of the Bible, his view will obviously be very different. Surely the Gideons provide Bibles for the custody suites, or the New Testament at least?

From my page Arrest:


One  thing about the comforts of the  hotel rooms, spiritual comforts in this case. The group known as the 'Gideons' provided Bibles in various places. In this hotel, every room had a Gideon New Testament and Psalms. The reckless generosity of the Gideons didn't extend to the full work. But in the cell, there was nothing from the Bible at all. I would have expected the Gideons to understand that the dark night of the soul, the desolation of the human spirit, was more likely in a cell, no matter how wonderful the cell, than in a four star hotel.


I'd make a plea for the full works, the complete Bible. It would be a great pity if prisoners were to be denied the resources of Leviticus, Numbers and Deuteronomy. There are many religious groups and organizations whose members believe that the Bible is the Word of God, all of it, but in practice, they badly neglect some of scripture. Robert Graves recounts a sermon in his First World War memoir 'Goodbye to all that.' The sermon was about an obscure topic, the commutation of tithes, 'Quite up in the air, and took the men's minds off the fighting.'


Reading about the commutation of tithes or the curtains of the tabernacle or the Urim and the Thummin  or 'A repetition of sundry laws' might provide more stimulation than staring at the door or the walls or the ceiling or the floor of a custody suite -- although I'd do anything to avoid reading the arid waste of those pages.


 1. Moses' rod turned into a serpent (Ex 4:2-3). 2. The serpent was transformed into a rod (Ex 4:4). 3. Moses' hand was turned leprous (Ex 4:6). 4. Moses' hand was healed of leprosy (Ex 4:7). 5. The rod was turned into a serpent (Ex 4:30). 6. The serpent was turned into a rod (Ex 4:30). 7. Moses' hand was made leprous (Ex 4:30). 8. Moses' hand was healed of leprosy (Ex 4:30). 9. Moses' rod was turned into a serpent (Ex 7:9-10) 10. Moses' rod swallowed the others (Ex 7:12). 11. The Nile River was changed into blood: first plague (Ex 7:14-25). 12. He created frogs: second plague (Ex 8:1-7)13. He caused the frogs to die (Ex 8:8-15). 14. He converted the dust to lice: third plague (Ex 8:16-19; the magicians could not do this, Ex 8:18- 15. He created flies: fourth plague (Ex 8:20-24). 16. He made Goshen exempt from flies (Ex 8:22). 17. He removed the flies from Egypt (Ex 8:29-32). 18. The murrain disease was imposed on Egyptian stock: fifth plague (Ex 9:1-7). 19. The stock of Israel was exempt (Ex 9:4-7). 20. He made boils from ashes: sixth plague (Ex 9:8-12). 21. Hail and fire came: seventh plague (Ex 9:13-35). 22. Goshen was exempt from the hail and fire (Ex 9:26). 23. Moses stopped the hail and fire (Ex 9:28-35). 24. Locusts descended: eighth plague (Ex 10:1-15) 25. The locusts were removed (Ex 10:16-20). 26. Darkness came: ninth plague (Ex 10:21-29). 27. Goshen was exempt from the total darkness (Ex 10:23). 28. Death came to Egypt's firstborn: tenth plague (Ex 11-12). 29. Israel's firstborn were exempt from death (Ex 11:7-10). 30. Moses made a path through the Red Sea, congealing the water (Ex 14:21-22). 31. He melted the ice of Red Sea (Ex 14:26-28). 32. The healing waters of Marah (Ex 15:23-26). 33. Bread from heaven (Ex 16:4-35; Num 11). 34. Quail to eat (Ex 16:8-13). 35. Water from the rock (Ex 17:1-7). 36. His victory over Midian (Ex 17:11-13). 37. He quenched the fire of death (Num 11:2). 38. The healing of Miriam (Num 12:13-16). 39. The earth swallowed the rebels (Num 16:28-33). 40. Moses stopped the plague (Num 16:44-50). 41. Water from the rock (Num 20:10-13). 42. The healing of Israel (Num 21:5-9; John 3:14).


Miracles that God performed when Moses was present (Ex 7:10) 1. God's glory filling tabernacle (Ex 40:34). 2. Fire consuming sacrifices (Lev 9:24). 3. Fire killing priests (Lev 10:2). 4. The Fire which consumed some people (Num 11:2). 5. The fire was quenched (Num 11:2). 6. A month's supply of quails for about 6,000,000 people (Num 11:19-35). 7. The leprosy that was fixed upon Miriam (Num 12:10). 8. The healing of Miriam (Num 12:13-16). 9. The plague upon ten spies (Num 14:37). 10. The earth swallowed the rebels (Num 16:32). 11. The fire which consumed some people (Num 16:35). 12. The plague which killed 14,700 people (Num 16:49). 13. Aaron's rod that bore almonds (Num 17:8). 14. Water from the rock (Num 20:11). 15. The healing of Israel (Num 21:5-9). 16. The plague which killed 24,000 people (Num 25:9).




Crusade: '1. Any of the military expeditions undertaken in the 1th, 12th and 13th centuries by the Christian powers of Europe to recapture the Holy Land from the Muslims. 2. (formerly) any holy war undertaken on behalf of a religious cause. 3. A vigorous and dedicated action or movement in favour of a cause.

For me, 'crusade' is a word which is tainted by its origins, those military expeditions, and by a further use, not mentioned in the dictionary definition quoted. Campaigners for causes are unlikely to describe themselves as 'crusaders' now. Evangelicals have often used the word in connection with mission - attempts to convert non-believers. I view Alan Billings as a man with a mission too. Although his activities are much wider than those of typical evangelicals, his thinking apparently much less narrow, I think that appearances are deceptive to a significant extent. This is someone who wants to further Christian mission, who wants to see South Yorkshire, the nation, the world as a whole, converted to a belief in Jesus Christ as Lord and Saviour. If this is not the case, then he is free to put on record what his beliefs really amount to.

An extract from the site

which impresses me, to some extent, even though the author's views are naive to some extent. Its criticisms of evangelicals are ones that I share, but I don't share the author's views concerning other varieties of Christianity. Although Alan Billings may not be a Conservative evangelical, his beliefs intersect with theirs at many different points. He has presented Christianity to the public of South Yorkshire in an irresponsible way, downplaying or never mentioning some deeply disturbing evidence. The Rock Christian Centre in Sheffield is a conservative evangelical centre. As I've argued in other pages on these issues, it was very, very unwise of him to attend the event, the relaunch of the Christian Police Association - which is a Conservative Evangelical organization. Alan Billings has misused his position and now, I'd claim, it is hopelessly compromised.

At first sight, his view of political power is vastly more enlightened that the views of Conservative evangelicals. I claim that he has misused the power given to him in significant ways, on a significant number of occasions, as in his article published in the Yorkshire Post on being awake and being woke, complete with Biblical quotation concerned with the Second Coming of Jesus.

The extract from the article (which contains discussion of the Second Coming of Jesus):

At the dawn of 2022, forget the culture wars; this is a postmodern crusade, and the Christian soldiers are on the march. Evangelical Christians are medieval crusaders at heart.

In the 11th and 12th centuries, Christian Crusaders went to war to reclaim Jerusalem from the Muslim hordes. Pope Urban II told Christian soldiers if they died during the Crusades, they would have their sins forgiven.

Behold now the crusade of the 21st century. Almost a millennium has expired since the last Christian Crusade, but now it’s returned in all its gory violence. This is no longer about the forgiveness of sins or salvation; it’s about power, control, authority.


The first Crusaders were attempting to reclaim Jerusalem from the Muslims; these evangelical Christians are attempting to reclaim the United States for … well, for evangelicals.


An alternative universe

For the past six decades, evangelicals have been busy constructing an alternative universe of churches, schools, private colleges, Bible schools and seminaries. They have produced an amazing number of private colleges that home-schooled evangelical children can attend. An evangelical child can grow into adulthood with almost no contact with the outside world.


On the surface, the evangelicals seem harmless enough. Even though they are always pushing “creationism” as the only true reality of science, the majority of Americans are at best amused by Ken Ham’s museum. [My page Billingsgate includes information about the museum. It has a replica of 'Noah's Ark.]

Even when we are aware that evangelicals are convinced that the worldview of “creationism” is the final truth about reality, we are not that worried.

Even though Ken Ham is convinced that scientific naturalism is completely false and that the conflict between science and religion will be resolved if, and only if, the scientific community returns to a supernaturalistic framework, we are not really losing sleep.

When evangelicals push their “rapture” theory in sermons, books, movies and lectures, mainline Christians roll their eyes at what sounds like something out of science fiction.


A battle cry


My perspective suggests that the evangelical language of excess around creationism, rapture and American history relies on significant erasures of truth. I am convinced that evangelical political motives cannot be overlooked, underestimated or ignored. Hidden in what appears to be the biblical minutia of evangelical preaching is a battle cry, a gathering of the faithful for a crusade against all the evil in the nation.

There is an itch in the evangelical mind that suggests they are not content with the alternative universe they have built. Evangelicals still have the crusader mentality. Like the Christian troops attacking Muslims during the Crusades, evangelicals long to be in charge. They have been amassing troops at the border of the secular culture and preparing for war.

The irony is that the evangelicals, starting out as Christians, shifted to being good Americans, and founded schools to train students to have the highest security levels, work at the State Department, the Defense Department, and join the FBI and the CIA.


Since they already control the label of “Christian” in our culture, they believe it is God’s will for them also to control the nation. America has become the church for evangelicals. Watch the video of one Fourth of July service at First Baptist Church of Dallas and when you recover from the idolatrous display of patriotism that includes fireworks in the sanctuary, there can be little doubt of the allegiance of the evangelicals to the country they are determined to control and reshape in their own image.

The Bush-era White House had about as many interns from Patrick Henry College   as Georgetown, the journalist Hanna Rosin wrote in her 2007 book, God's Harvard. Students in the small evangelical school’s strategic intelligence program can graduate with security clearances from their summer internships, making Patrick Henry College a feeder school for the CIA, the FBI, the National Security Agency, various branches of the military, and intelligence contractors. Many students go there with dreams of becoming a senator or the Supreme Court justice who helps overturn Roe v. Wade.

Evangelical students come to a school like Patrick Henry to become good Americans. Yet their graduates would be hard-pressed to say whether their loyalty is to the American flag or the Cross. Allegiance to the flag is as natural as breathing to students trained in America as the Church. It comes with the territory.

The primary vision of these schools is that their graduates can be the invading troops that take America for the evangelical cause. Why would good evangelical students, most of whom knew better than to think about becoming preachers, need to know about politics? Because politics, not theology, would prepare them to rule the nation.

A desire to control church and state

Evangelicals believe that until they are in charge, the nation is on a straight path to hell. Therefore, abortion must be outlawed. No exceptions. Gay marriage must be declared unconstitutional. Religious liberty for evangelicals must be complete and total, including the right to condemn gays, minorities, immigrants and any group deemed unacceptable.

Dominionists, with their view that Christians are biblically mandated to occupy all positions of power and authority, and Reconstructionists, with their view of a theonomic government, may be written off as fringe groups, but they map the evangelical dream of what a Christian nation should be. Patrick Henry, Cedarville University, Liberty University, Moody Bible Institute, Regent University, and a plethora of evangelical schools have established Christian Officer Training Corps to prepare for the coming war on secular culture.

The evangelicals will not rest until they control church and state. They are a restless people, and they are not content with having a piece of the action. Like a rich man who always needs “more,” evangelicals lust for total control.

When evangelicals sing Onward Christian Soldiers, they are not being metaphorical. They mean those words. They are prepared to do whatever is necessary to be in charge. Having secured a base in their own churches and schools, they now intend to take over the country. They will keep pounding on the doors of public school boards insisting on the teaching of intelligent design and raising hell against Critical Race Theory. They will keep promoting the fiction that America was born as a Christian nation, and they will keep fighting to make America a “Christian” nation in the image of evangelical understandings of the word “Christian.”

Deceptive rhetoric

Evangelical rhetoric is deceptive about change. When they tout “religious liberty,” they don’t mean for that liberty to extend to everyone.

Evangelical deception lies in their insincere promise of a national salvation. They promise to redeem America from a host of mythological, made-to-order enemies, but it is a promise of redemption made on a hidden rhetoric of demolition.

The archetypal trope that unmasks the true crusader spirit of the evangelicals lies in the deceptive claim that evangelicals love Israel. Even a cursory reading of the evangelical commitment to the rapture theory shows that the constant avowals of love are muted by the evangelical belief that “soon and very soon” Jesus will rapture the true believers, and the unbelieving Jews will be exterminated.

Evangelical love comes wrapped in a bright red, white and blue package with an American flag, but when opened there’s condemnation, conflagration and destruction. The package is a seductive spectacle promising to restore lost glory by at last demolishing all the ancient and modern enemies of the evangelicals.

Evangelicals present themselves as a theology or ideology that is rigorously objective. They claim to be wedded to the truth and to the rationality of the Bible. Yet real truth would unravel evangelical claims of science-denial and history denial and a glorification of a past that wasn’t so glorious.

How odd, that a religious movement dedicated to the pursuit of truth is now sidelined by a commitment to post-truth and truth is seen as a worthy sacrifice for the goal of ruling the nation.

Postmillennial evangelicals marching to war

In a mind-boggling double irony, evangelicals were postmillennial before they were premillennial. Postmillennialism is a belief that the world will keep getting better and better until progress ushers in the kingdom of God. Premillennialism teaches that the world will keep getting worse until a time of Great Tribulation after the true believers have been raptured from the earth.

From the early writings of Hal Lindsay to the current rapture musings of Robert Jeffress, evangelicals became committed premillennialists. They teach that the end is near. Jesus is coming “in their lifetime,” they herald.

Yet in the 2016 U.S. presidential election, evangelicals saw a sliver of light that changed their eschatology again. They saw an opportunity to stop having sand kicked in their collective faces, a chance to win and be in charge.

Balmer claims that evangelicals have put premillennial dreams and hopes on hold and instead of saying, “Come quickly, Lord Jesus,” they are now saying: “Wait, Lord. Please postpone your return. We have a real chance to grasp the power and run the country. We would prefer that you not come just yet.”


Whatever is to be the fate of democracy, the worst outcome of all would be a new dark age where evangelicals control church, culture and government. This mythic illusory narrative of godly exceptionalism will only produce a fearsome domination that no freedom-lover can stomach.

The author is too despondent, too pessimistic here, and in some other places. Evangelical control is real and disturbing but limited in scope, even in the United States.

Jill Duff, the Bishop of Lancaster, can use resounding phrases about the destiny of this country but in practice, she and people who think like her (if what they speak and write on Christianity can be described as the product of thought) are achieving results not in the least in accordance with their grandiose designs. Jill Duff who took part in the film 'The Beautiful Story,' the Conservative Evangelical film on human sexuality, which contained these statements of Conservative Evangelical doctrine:

'Scripture prohibits in every way, in every form, same sex sexual relationships.'

' ... God's good design for sexual relationships is non-negotiable.'

'Gay sex is wrong.'

'If the Bible teaches that homosexual activity is sin, then a gospel ministry must include, must be willing to say, that is sin, and that must be repented of.'

'A sense of God's judgement, that he does ask us to be obedient, so that this is not a trivial matter. This is part of the Apostolic teaching.'

The vast majority of people will pay no attention to these views. Evangelicals in Blackburn managed to entice a very small number of people to some disused allotments in Blackburn, where Jill Duff baptized a few people. This isn't one more sign that this nation is yearning to know Jesus Christ as Lord and Saviour.

This is Jill Duff speaking, or so she believes, to her God:

'We claim this nation for Jesus. We pray your kingdom come, your will be done, in our churches, in our families, in our schools, in our businesses, in our government, in our legal system, in our entertainment and arts and sport and for your key workers, across every corner of this nation ... thank you that your horses and chariots of fire are on the hills all around and we ask that they may be potent in our time in claiming our nation for you ... Jesus I pray that you would call many lost sons and daughters home safe at last ... I pray for the descending of the heavenly United Kingdom to earth.'


The Billingsgate Challenge: Questions for the Police and Crime Commissioner


The possibility that the South Yorkshire Police and Crime Commissioner will reply is remote -  but his silence can speak volumes. 


1. A question concerning 'hate crime.'


Quotation from one of the Billingsgate Questions below:


'If a man lies with a man as one lies with a woman, both of them have done what is detestable. They must be put to death; their blood will be on their own heads.'


Is this verse from the Bible (Leviticus 20:13) an example of 'Hate Crime?' If not, why not? Is it harmful or absolutely harmless? Is it the 'Word of God' or not? The people at Rock Christian Centre, where Bibles were presented at the event you attended, believe it's the word of God. The passage where it appears is read out in one of the Rock Christian Centre You Tube videos discussed below.


Is Alan Billings certain that this can't possibly amount to thought crime or hate speech because it appears in The Bible, 'the word of God.' Is it impossible for the word of God to be hateful? Can he really claim that all the instances of thought crime or hate speech dealt with by South Yorkshire Police, with his active encouragement, are more hateful than any of this?


2. Did you know when you attended the event at the Rock Christian Centre with Sergeant Kirkham and Stephen Watson, the Chief Constable at the time that the Gideons - also present at the event - don't admit women as full members and still don't?


3. The Christian Police Association and the Rock Christian Centre and many, many other organizations, together with countless Churches, make it clear that they believe in the infallibility of the Bible. Do you believe in the infallibility of the Bible? If not, could you give a list of some verses which seem to you not to be the 'word of God?' Below, there's a quotation from Exodus 11 about the babies and children - the first-born of Egyptians, including Egyptian slaves. Do you think that God actually spoke those words? If you aren't a fundamentalist, how do you decide if words allegedly spoken by God, Jesus, Old and New Testament writers, were actually spoken by them? Could you explain the system you use?


A comment, not a question: Alan Billings, you do realize, don't you, what Churches in Sheffield are capable of, what cruel rubbish they are capable of quoting, what cruel rubbish they can preach? First, some material from a Youtube video published by the Rock Christian Centre, followed by material on the same subject published for a Sunday School, aimed at children. All young children are vulnerable to a greater or lesser extent, and you claim that your policies will help the vulnerable. Shouldn't you be doing something about the indoctrination of young children - or is the fact that these are fellow-Christians a hindrance to you?


Both sets of material are about God's killing of the first born of the Egyptians, the so-called Plague No. 10. The first 9 plagues sent by God had failed to persuade the ruler, Pharaoh, to alllow the Israelites to leave Egypt. Now, God was trying the most drastic methods. Does this not raise questions about 'divine omnipotence?' God tried other ways of persuading Pharaoh but now he is trying another method - which involves families all over Egypt losing their babies and young children. The families have had nothing to do with Pharaoh's refusal but they are made to suffer, and suffer in an extreme way.


The Rock Christian Centre video.


Extract from the Bible quotation given, Exodus Chapter 11:


[1] Now the Lord had said to Moses, "I will bring one more plague on Pharaoh and on Egypt. After that, he will let you go from here, and when he does, he will drive you out completely ...  [4] So Moses said, "This is what the Lord says: 'About midnight I will go throughout Egypt. [5] Every firstborn son in Egypt will die, from the firstborn son of Pharaoh, who sits on the throne, to the firstborn son of the slave girl, who is at her hand mill, and all the firstborn of the cattle as well. [6] There will be loud wailing throughout Egypt---worse than there has ever been or ever will be again.


From the teaching materials on the site


Final Plague-Death of the Firstborn Sunday School Lesson (Exodus 11-13)


Tell the Story

Say: God had sent 9 plagues upon Egypt to demonstrate His mighty power so that His name would be made great. But Pharaoh refused to free the Israelites from slavery. His heart was hard towards God! Moses had warned Pharaoh that there was one final plague coming, and it would be worse than the first nine. Let’s read from God’s Word to find out what this plague would be.
Read Exodus 11:4-6: “So Moses said, ‘This is what the LORD says; ‘About midnight I will go throughout Egypt. Every firstborn son in Egypt will die, from the firstborn son of Pharaoh, who sits on the throne, to the firstborn son of the slave girl, who is at her hand mill, and all the firstborn of the cattle as well. There will be loud wailing throughout Egypt—worse than there has ever been or ever will be again.”’
Ask: Who can tell me what the final plague is? (Allow time for kids to respond.)
Say: That’s right. The firstborn son in every Egyptian family would die.
Ask: Why do you think God would do this to the Egyptians? (Allow time for kids to respond.)
Say: Our God is a just God. That means that He takes sin very seriously and punishes those who harden their hearts against Him. God had every right to punish the Egyptians for refusing to obey Him. By sending the first nine plagues God had put His power on display for Egypt to see, yet they still remained disobedient. Now God would show His justice.
Say: God had a special task for the Israelites in order to spare them from this final plague. Each Israelite family was to take a one-year old, unblemished lamb and slaughter it. They were to eat the meat along with a special meal of bitter herbs and bread without yeast. Then God gave them some other interesting instructions. Let’s read God’s Word and as we do, listen to see if you can hear what God’s instructions were to His people.
Read Exodus 12: 7, 12-13: Then they are to take some of the blood and put it on the sides and tops of the doorframes of the houses where they eat the lambs. On that same night I will pass through Egypt and strike down every firstborn—both men and animals—and I will bring judgment on all of gods of Egypt. I am the Lord. The blood will be a sign for you on the houses where you are; and when I see the blood, I will pass over you. No destructive plague will touch you when I strike Egypt.”
Ask: What did God tell them to do with the lamb’s blood? (Allow time for kids to answer.)
Say: That’s right. He instructed them to put the blood on their doorframes. When God moved through Egypt, He would see the blood and the firstborn sons within those homes would not be killed. God was showing His great mercy on His people!
Say: Did you know that even today God’s people are saved by the blood of a lamb? Jesus is just like the unblemished lambs that the Israelites were to use on Passover night. But we don’t put Jesus’ blood on our doorframes do we? Instead, when we trust in Jesus to save us from our sins, we are in a sense covered by His blood and are saved! Now, when God brings judgment, rather than face punishment, God passes over us and forgives our sins.
Say: That night God moved through Egypt and just as He had said, all the firstborn sons died, including Pharaoh’s own son.
Read Exodus 12:31: “During the night Pharaoh summoned Moses and Aaron and said, ‘Up! Leave my people you and the Israelites! God, worship the Lords as you have requested. Take your flocks and herds, as you have said and God. And also bless me.’”
Say: Finally Pharaoh relented and allowed the Israelites to leave Egypt. It might seem like this is the end of the story, but it’s really just the beginning of the story of God leading His people to their own land. We’ll hear more about it in the coming weeks

Review Questions

  • What did God require the Israelites to do to be saved? (Put lamb’s blood on their doorframes.)

  • What did the Israelites put on their doorframes? (Blood from a slaughtered lamb.)

  • What happened in the homes that didn’t have blood on the door? (The firstborn child died.)

  • How is the blood on the doorframes like Jesus’ blood shed on the cross?


4. By inserting material on your Christian beliefs into newspaper articles, PCC blog articles, often with Biblical quotations, by inserting a Biblical quotation into 'Keeping Safe:' The Police and Crime Plan for South Yorkshire 2017 - 2021,' I claim that you've failed to adhere to the principles of impartiality. I need to elaborate, I need to give further reasons why your behaviour was wrong. Image management is big business now. It's part of Public Relations Management. 'Media mentions' are a part of image management. Companies, but not just companies, organizations of many different kinds, want to see favourable mentions, not always direct mentions, in Web and print media. They increase the Visibility of the Brand.  Churches are a kind of Brand. The public give them large amounts of money. Granted, their costs are massive - all those massive Churches to maintain - but the fact that they have all those buildings is an indication of their financial power.

Favourable mentions are free advertizing, and what you have done amounts to free advertizing. It may not have influenced many people, but people who have rarely or never given any thought to the church will have seen the names and the references slipped into his accounts.


My case is that you have attempted to further the Church and Christianity in ways which are not legitimate, given the necessary restrictions on the activities of Police and Crime Commissioners. I'd claim that you have broken your oath, which requires Police and Crime Commissioners to be impartial. Do you have any comments?


5. I've written often about issues arising from the branches of theology called soteriology, the so-called study of salvation, and hamartiology, the so-called study of sin, but generally not in a formal, systematic way. My treatment of the issues has been very wide-ranging, with illustrative examples from many spheres, including the Holocaust, military action, and ordinary human life in times of peace. Here, I mention examples only from the lives of people in South Yorkshire, but serving police officers and others in South Yorkshire Police as well as the South Yorkshire people they serve.


Do you share the conservative evangelical view of sin and salvation explicitly endorsed by the Christian Police Association and the Rock Christian Centre, the place where the South Yorkshire Christian Police Association was relaunched - but explicitly endorsed by so many other branches of Christianity? The belief is that only members of South Yorkshire Police who have accepted Jesus Christ as Saviour are 'saved' and spend eternity in heaven. All the others are damned and spend eternity in Hell, sharing exactly the same fate as people who have been guilty of horrific crimes - the ones who have never accepted Jesus Christ as Saviour. Loving mothers and fathers, children who were violently abused by mothers or fathers who were far from loving, working people, South Yorkshire Councillors and MP's - everyone in South Yorkshire, apart from the small minority of the supposedly saved, is destined for damnation.


Is that your view? If not, could you explain the differences? Could you outline what your own theological beliefs are with regard to questions of sin and salvation?