Money Loving Pastors

On a Friday morning recently, myself and a young man named Thabelo drove slowly through the “village” of Bungeni (population between 20-30,000) after I had spent an hour reading a satellite map of the broader area. Our purpose was to find the next area for evangelism.

That desire brought us to pass a large beautiful building with an open door in Bungeni. Having found an older man—perhaps 60—who held the position of pastor, we spoke happily for a few moments as we got to know each other. Here is a close transcript of the meat of our conversation translated back to English.

Seth [after a few minutes]: What do you preach at your church?

Pastor: We preach Christ.

Seth: I am glad to hear that. I also preach Christ. You could summarize my message with these five headings: the Bible alone, Christ alone, faith alone, grace alone, to God alone be glory. But we do not love money. We only love the Lord Jesus Christ.

Pastor: Well, we all need money. It is very important.

Seth: Yes, I agree that we need money in order to live and buy necessities, but loving money is a terrible sin that pierces men through with sorrows.

Pastor: Well, we preach the tithe and blessings.

Seth: But do your people love money?

Pastor: Well, yes, I think they do.

Seth: Do you love money?

Pastor: Yes, I have to love money.

Seth: I’m not talking about using money, but loving God. I am talking about setting your heart on cars or houses or things on earth. Does your church love those things?

Pastor: I think they do.

A few observations must be made about this encounter.

First, he did not even state any doctrines about Christ that he preaches. He did not affirm the Five Solas when I affirmed them. There was no light in his eye when I spoke of the gospel. He did not return to this theme, but he made a point more than once of speaking about money after I had denied it.

Second, he had the boldness to indict both himself and his church members for love of money though I asked him in different ways and with such terms that he could tell my position. No one likes to contradict a guest and Tsongas are just as hospitable as any other people group. Yet this man would not let his guest’s anti-money-love statements stand without opposition.

Third, I could see an American being taken in with his first statement and actually thinking this man was a Christian. The inexperienced American might reach this conclusion because he does not ask questions about the ultimate loves of the African pastor. If the American had not seen this kind of thing scores of times already, he may be excited by superficial words and familiar names. Further, if they were speaking English, the American may be generous to his new friend on account of language.

That same day, we passed another young man in Bungeni and asked what his church teaches. He replied loosely about blessings. I asked if his church taught anything different from the other churches, and he said that all the churches teach the same. As we left that young man, my friend Thabelo who has been to many churches as well agreed.

Be not deceived: Africa is still devoted to this religion regardless of the voices that speak of great revivals and as one American said “30,000 people being saved everyday.”

Would you please pray for a gospel preaching church in the town of Bungeni?

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When the Church Falls in Love with the World: A Review of W. S. Harris’ MR. WORLD AND MISS CHURCH MEMBER

Published in 1901, 304 pages. You can buy a reprint from a local church, or listen to an audio review of the book.

Summary

  1. On the road marked the “King’s Highway” the gracious Miss Church Member carried her Bible and walked happily onward to Heaven.
  2. At one point, the King’s Highway drew near to the Broad Highway and a handsome young man named Mr. World spoke to Miss Church Member.
  3. He assured her that he desired to travel on her path yet he needed to prepare himself, and this would best be done if she joined him briefly.
  4. “Will you not, [Miss Church Member], do the work of a good missionary and, like Christ, adapt yourself to my level, that I may, by your uplifting influence, be drawn into a nobler life, and even have your companionship as I go up to the Highway of your King?”
  5. Though her conscience troubled her, she stepped out of the narrow road and joined him with the hopes that he would soon be converted.
  6. “She justified her own course by what she was aiming to do.”
  7. As they journeyed along the Broad Way, men and women would at times suddenly fall into pits of fire screaming, but a servant of Satan would instantly cover the hole.
  8. Miss Church Member tries to warn someone about to fall, but the woman replies, “What right have you to judge me since you also are on this Broad Highway?”
  9. “Along the way were so many things to attract the attention that the farther Miss Church Member journeyed with Mr. World, the less frequently she looked toward the King’s Highway.”
  10. At last they reached a path that would lead to the King’s Highway, but Mr. World refuses to turn to it.
  11. When Miss Church Member threatens to leave, Mr. World warns that she will have no more of his help.
  12. His friends promise her that she is doing good and that he is changing, and with that encouragement, she walks on with him “in closer fellowship than ever.”
  13. In time she even expresses her respect to him.
  14. They enter the Devil’s Optical College where Miss Church Member fails an eye exam.
  15. She cannot see Heaven at the end of the Broad Highway or errors in the Bible.
  16. Instead she sees judgment and sin and the need to suffer for righteousness.
  17. Mr. World offers to pay for her surgery and eyeglasses.
  18. Now Miss Church Member begins to see the goodness of the Broad Highway and the value of this world while at the same time Heaven fades from her view.
  19. The doctors order her not to read her Bible “until her eyes were fully adjusted to the new lenses.”
  20. When she does read, she constantly looks up at the world and turns quickly from chapter to chapter without fixing her attention on any single portion.
  21. They next find a shop that can exchange her robes of righteousness for a dress of conceit, vanity, and liberty.
  22. Miss Church Member however, would not pawn her Bible because it had become a souvenir.
  23. “Thus I saw how some worshiped the Bible who did not worship God.”
  24. Soon, Miss Church Member was moving happily along the Broad Way with Mr. World until they overtook Mr. Deacon and Mr. Pastor from the same church to which Church Member belonged.
  25. “How came you to adopt this dress and be in such close fellowship with Mr. World?” asked Mr. Deacon. “I am now in the midst of my missionary work…” replied Miss Church Member.
  26. The church leaders made their way to the Broad Way by trying the Narrow Way first. However, when one came to the pass marked Holiness and the other to the pass marked Sacrifice, neither could fit through. Suddenly they saw a sign marking a new path, “To Heaven Without Sacrifice.”
  27. Both of these men were rebuked by other church members but they simply responded, “Judge not that you be not judged.” Mr. World praised them for being “champions in the use of Bible truth.”
  28. Miss Church Member and Mr. World reach the Hill of Remorse where she considers rejoining the King’s Highway, but by urging her to wait a little longer, they climb to the top where the pains of conscience end.
  29. Upon reaching the top of the mountain, they rest in the resort of Apathy where she forgets her guilt.
  30. There at the resort, she relaxes with art, music, romance, and sports.
  31. A woman preacher speaks to a crowd about “The True Peace of the World” and they sing a hymn with these words:
    Sweet world, so bright and fair,
    We would thy pleasures share,
    While days pass on.
    Thou art our truest friend,
    On thee our souls depend,
    Till life is gone.
  32. “She looked into the eyes of Mr. World with more than poetry in her glance, for her heart was now thrilled with the first touches of true love for him.”
  33. They enter now the valley of Temptation where both roads run parallel.
  34. The servants of Satan throw a hook baited with money to the King’s Highway, and very gently reel in Christians to the Broad Road so slowly that they never realize what is happening.
  35. Another snare were buildings named “Bureaus of Information” where intelligent men could have deep questions answered. These buildings had an entrance near the King’s Highway, but their rear door entered the Devil’s College which was positioned firmly on the other road.
  36. From a tall tower in the valley, they were able to see the greatness of the world and roughness of the King’s Highway.
  37. Next they visit the Devil’s Schools of Literature.
  38. Here they find every kind of book with no discernment between good and bad except for personal taste.
  39. Miss Church Member enters a hall where she is taught to enjoy sensual stories and talk.
  40. They see that most of the authors in the world from every country are trained in the Devil’s school.
  41. Ten Commandments were posted that authors might know how to write books that would win the favor of the world. Among them: “Novelty is the winning feature.” “Cater to the tastes and wishes of the majority.”
  42. The deception is so complete that Miss Church Member “now claimed to be a more faithful Christian than ever before.”
  43. Within the colleges of literature were seven levels of Theaters.
  44. In Satan’s theaters, he tries to tempt the best talent away from the King’s Highway. “Thus Satan seems to encourage morality in order to carry out his deeply laid schemes of moral pollution.”
  45. “The hearts of these people are so seared and their ears so dull, that they have no desire for the music of celestial choirs.”
  46. “The money flowing from the entire seven grades fell into one treasury, so that they who moved in the supposed moral atmosphere of the first and second grades, were, nevertheless patrons of the whole iniquitous business.”
  47. “It is no more a mystery why such churches have lost their holy influence, and their warmth of spiritual life, while worldliness flourishes from the pew to the pulpit.”
  48. Mr. World encourages Miss Church Member to attend the theater—since so many other Christians were doing the same—on the same day that she had been used to going to the prayer meeting.
  49. While the two were in the theater, a conference of demons was being held on the same topic.
  50. One announced that the theater is “fast winning the church.”
  51. One said, “We are careful to give [church members] enough immoral and sensual bait to draw them further.” (Wild applause [from the demons])
  52. Another demon spoke about church music: “Of course, we do not oppose the use of religious words, if we cannot induce them to sing our selections. We are aiming to create a taste for the up-to-date novelties in music [rather than old hymns].”
  53. When they visit the inventor’s city, they find scientists trying to bring machinery into the church.
  54. The inventors have created an “angelette” which is a machine that will sing continuously.
  55. Machines were made to help the prayer meeting, but since Miss Church Member had lost interest in prayer, she went elsewhere.
  56. Next, the couple, for now they are a couple truly in love, visits the church festival which is a fund raising event for the churches very near to the King’s Highway.
  57. When Miss Church Member visits with some young ladies, Mr. World takes a walk with Satan.
  58. “Are you [Satan] not afraid that you will lose pilgrims to the Narrow Road and even raise money for their causes?” Mr. World asked.
  59. “Not in the least,” Satan replied, “for at such places as this I gain more subjects than I lose. So I expect to encourage forever sacred-merchandizing all along my route. The churches are glad to use this ground even though it belongs to me, for I concede to them all the money. Naturally, I prefer souls to money.”
  60. Satan explained to Mr. World his plans to destroy the discipline of Christian giving. Simply put, get them focused on raising money for missions through fund raisers and businesses rather than focusing much on Heaven and sacrificial generosity.
  61. “The church must feel the necessity of resorting to business. … I [Satan] hope the day will soon come when the church will have still less of the spiritual nonsense, and more of these up-to-date methods to secure funds for its support.”
  62. They next visit Satan’s Missionary Colleges where they learn that even without the gospel the Heathen are happy, safe, and getting better. Further, Americans should not be missionaries when there is so much sin still in America.
  63. As they travel on, Mr. World is delighted at how similar they both are. Miss Church Member is embarrassed when she thinks back to her old positions.
  64. At this point, they pass a church in Miss Church Member’s denomination. She carefully adjusts her glasses before entering.
  65. The man prays fervently and preaches a like a Puritan, yet she could scarcely believe that she ever attended such a place.
  66. Mr. World then invites her to visit his church where “your conscience is not always pricked, and you can do many innocent things without being called a sinner.”
  67. After the sermon, the minister announces that they have a fund raiser and the prayer meeting will be cancelled for two weeks for music practice.
  68. The church, pastor, and sermon are marked by efforts to soothe people into comfort without any pangs of conviction.
  69. In order to join his church, they have a church covenant with 10 points.
    a. Point #2: Try to look good in the eyes of the world. Do not wear plain clothing.
    b. Point #7: Do not get angry unless someone judges you or criticizes your church.
    c. Point #9: Attend church services faithfully unless sick or disinterested.
  70. The pastor tells her as she leaves, “There are millions who belong to my church in spirit, but who hold visible connection with some radical church of the King’s Highway.”
  71. On the side of the road is an auction taking place where useless trinkets are up for sale.
  72. One man offers an hour, but the next man wins the auction by offering a whole day to some foolish trinket.
  73. After hearing a field preacher, Miss Church Member suddenly has pains in her heart.
  74. In short time, they arrive at the hospital where the surgeon announces that it is simply a case of conviction that he can treat by dulling the nerves.
  75. They have also built clinics along the King’s Highway to treat travelers over there who feel faint.
  76. One man went to the Devil’s hospital who had been eating sermons and books without doing any work.
  77. Another woman came to the hospital who had been accused of skipping church services.
  78. The doctors in this hospital often manipulate their remedies so that the patient cannot completely recover.
  79. Many cases from both the King’s Road and the Broad Road come to the Devil’s hospital.
  80. While Miss Church Member recovers, Mr. World visits a deep cave where sinners suffer the effects of their sins.
  81. One final warning comes to Miss Church Member but she is so full of her own confidence that she brushes it off with “Judge not!”
  82. As they enter the Valley of the Shadow of Death, Miss Church Member begins to be frightened.
  83. Mr. World tries to cheer her, but shortly he too has lost all comfort as they struggle on in growing darkness.
  84. Now her folly becomes apparent, but it is too late. Her long years of sinning against light stack up, end against end, until the mercy of God is entirely blocked.
  85. Finally, amidst their screams, an evil monster pushes them both into the river of death.
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Unknown, Yet Greatly Used~ The Lives of George and Sarah Boardman

Scripture is filled with godly men and women who lived and served faithfully, yet they remain virtually unknown. Ahijah, Iddo, Azariah, Oded, Micaiah, Huldah, and several others whose names aren’t even listed were godly prophets. George and Sarah Boardman are practically unknown today, but they were giants in the faith. They modeled Revelation 12:11: “…they did not love their life even when faced with death.” Listen to the audio biography (56 minutes).

Sources:

  • Stuart, The Three Mrs. Judsons, pages 115-216.
  • Anderson, To the Golden Shore, pages 380-440.
  • Tucker, From Jerusalem to Irian Jaya, pages 130-132.
  • Neil, A History of Christian Missions, pages 294-295.

Thesis

  • Evangelism is more important than health or safety.

A Gifted Young Lady

  1. 1803 Sarah, the oldest of 13 children, was born into a poor home where her parents’ poverty forced her to work hard.
  2. In her journal as a young girl she wrote, “My parents are not in a situation to send me to school this summer, so I must make every exertion in my power to improve at home.” Stuart 123
  3. She taught herself Latin, geometry, logic, and rhetoric.
  4. Several who knew her as a girl said that one main quality marked her life: a quiet self-restraint.
  5. “Her mind had been early trained and disciplined in that noblest of all schools, the school of adverse fortune.” Stuart, 123
  6. 1816 By 13 years old, she was already writing graceful and warm poetry.
  7. In a letter to a friend, “How can I be so inactive, when I know that… millions in other lands are at this very moment kneeling before senseless idols!”
  8. Even before her conversion, she was interested in missions, but afterwards, she guided her life by missions.
  9. 1820 She was converted and baptized at 16 years old.
  10. Excerpt from her poem, “Come Over and Help Us”

Ye, on whom the glorious gospel,
Shines with beams serenely bright,
Pity the deluded nations,
Wrapped in shades of dismal night;
Ye, whose bosoms glow with rapture,
At the precious hopes they bear;
Ye, who know a Saviour’s mercy,
Listen to our earnest prayer!

See that race deluded, blinded,
Bending at yon horrid shrine;
Madness pictured in their faces,
Emblems of the frantic mind;
They have never heard of Jesus,
Never to th’ Eternal prayed;
Paths of death and woe they’re treading,
Christian! Christian! Come and aid!

By the Afric’s hope so wretched,
Which at death’s approach shall fly;
By the scalding tears that trickle
From the slave’s wild sunken eye;
By the terrors of that judgment,
Which shall fix our final doom;
Listen to our cry so earnest;
Friends of Jesus, come, oh, come!

  • She has a verse on Islam and Hinduism as well.

A Gifted Young Man

  1. 1823 James Colman, Baptist missionary in Burma, died and calls rose from Baptist churches to send another man to replace him.
  2. At 19 years old, Sarah wrote a poem about Colman’s life and death.
  3. A 21 year old son of a pastor, George Boardman read the poem, and purposed to meet the author.
  4. George was a tall young man who loved to learn so much that he would go to school even when sick.
  5. 1817 He became a school teacher at 16 years old.
  6. 1819 He entered college at 18, but is not yet converted. The entire student body commits to pray that God will save him.
  7. 1820 God opened George’s eyes at 19 years old and he is then baptized.
  8. Immediately he turned his thoughts towards missions.
  9. The president of the college where he was a student was so impressed by this young man that he predicted George would lead the school one day.

To Burma

  1. 1825 George and Sarah are married at 24 and 21 years old.
  2. The day after their wedding, they left for Burma.
  3. In his journal he wrote, “Welcome separations and farewells; welcome tears, welcome last sad embraces; welcome pangs and griefs; only let me go where my Savior calls and goes Himself; welcome toils disappointments, fatigues and sorrows; welcome and early grave!”
  4. A newspaper published that George would probably die very soon because his body was weak.
  5. While on the boat to Burma, Sarah writes that “trials, and even persecution often develop the power of Christian principle and the strength of religious faith; while ease and outward prosperity seem to lull the souls of believers into an unworthy sloth and a sinful conformity with the world around them.”
  6. Before she arrived at Burma, she writes a lengthy letter to her brother: “My brother, have you a heart to pray to God? Have you repented and turned to Him? Or are you careless and indifferent respecting your precious soul? … You must stand before a righteous God at the judgment day. What will be the state of your soul if Jesus is not your friend? Think of this.”
  7. 1827 When they arrive in Burma at 27 and 24, they have a little girl, the first of three children.

Their First House in Maulmain

  1. 1828 In January, they moved about 50 k’s from the other missionaries to Maulmain.
  2. Their new home was made of bamboo and could easily be cut open with a machete.
  3. They were robbed by a band of armed thugs late at night in this dangerous location and house.
  4. Upon seeing that her husband and child were safe she wrote, “I quite forgot the stolen goods, and thought only of the treasure that was spared. … If ever the world appeared to me worthless as vanity, and if ever I wished to dedicate myself, my husband, my babe, my all, to our great Redeemer, it was at that time.”
  5. This was only one of numerous dangers including a massive forest fire, snakes, and tigers.

Ministry with the Karens

  1. They move again about 250 k’s to Tavoy, and a 50-year old new convert, Ko Tha Byu, moved with them.
  2. Ko Tha Byu had previously been guilty of at least 30 murders, but since Judson led him to Christ, he has helped the missionaries.
  3. In Tavoy, they engage to evangelize the unreached Karen people.
  4. The Karens worshipped a single God whom they call “Yuwah.”
  5. They believe the one true God had spoken to them and made them poor and miserable because of their sin. He had given a message to them, but they had lost it, and now they must wait until the message returns to them.
  6. George wrote, “Their whole [religious] system has a tendency to cramp their intellectual powers.
  7. They were accustomed to believing without evidence, denying regardless of sense experience, and attributing causes without good reason. Stuart 196
  8. The Burmese call these people wild, ignorant, and savage. The Karen people had long been slaves of the Burmese.
  9. One of their songs:

When the Karen king arrives
Everything will be happy;
When Karens have a king
Wild beasts will be tame. Stuart 153

Sickness returns

  1. 1829 Both George and Sarah are violently ill.
  2. Upon recovery, George prepares a 3 week trip into the jungle to evangelize the Karen people; Sarah is left in the hut with 2 infants.
  3. In another letter at this time she wrote, “Some of these poor Burmans, who are daily carried to the grave, may at last reproach me and say, ‘You came, it is true, to the city where we dwelt, to tell of heaven and hell, but wasted much, much of your precious time in indolence while learning our language. And when you were able to speak, why were you not incessantly telling us of this day of doom, when we visited you?’”
  4. George wrote in his journal, “We considered ourselves worthy to be trodden under foot of men, and were astonished to think of our pride and selfishness. … We were filled with the most distressing views of our utter sinfulness in the sight of God.”
  5. Then their baby girl dies at 2 years and 8 months.
  6. Then the Burmese revolt against the British and suddenly bullets are flying through their hut.
  7. During all these weeks and months, George is evangelizing with Ko Tha Byu among the Karen people.
  8. 1830 George’s sickness returns and Sarah sees that he will be dead in a few more months.
  9. As George is recovering, Sarah and her second child are then attacked by disease and only the mother recovers.
  10. “Both of these devoted missionaries knew, however, that the best defence against such trials as they endured, is found in a steady performance of duty. … How different from those who make a sot of merit of ‘indulging the luxury of grief;’ and show their regard for the memory of the dead by neglecting their duties to the living!” Stuart 172
  11. To his family in America from his deathbed he wrote, “A perfectly right action, with perfectly right motives, I never performed, and never shall perform, till freed from this body of sin. An unprofitable servant, is the most appropriate epitaph for my tombstone.” Stuart 174

Revival among the Karen

  1. George and Sarah took a three-day hike with George being carried on a bed into the jungle.
  2. There they saw scores of Karen believers testifying and being baptized.
  3. The change was nothing short of a miracle considering that three years earlier the entire people group had been degraded in ignorance and false religion.
  4. The trip satisfied George deeply and he had no regrets though he anticipated that the extra strain hastened his death.
  5. Both he and Sarah assumed that missionary service meant a shorter life.
  6. After the baptism service, he addressed the believers in a weak voice pleading with them to persevere so that they would see each other in glory.
  7. During the hike back to their home, a heavy rain drenched him, and they were forced to beg for housing with the Burmese.
  8. However, the Burmese would not permit them to enter the house since they were teachers of the new religion.
  9. On his death, Adoniram Judson wrote, “One of the brightest luminaries of Burma is extinguished, dear brother Boardman is gone to his eternal rest. He fell gloriously at the head of his troops, in the arms of victory, thirty-seven wild Karens having been brought into the camp of our king since the beginning of the year, besides the thirty-two that were brought in during the two preceding years.”
  10. Judson had waited 6 full years for his first convert, and Boardman had seen 10 times that numbers in 4 years.
  11. By his death in 1831, Boardman saw 70 Christians, mostly Karens.
  12. By the 1850’s, the church counted more than 10,000 members.
  13. By 1980, 150 years after the beginning of his preaching, there were 100,000 Christians among the Karens.

Sarah without George

  1. Judson wrote to Sarah, “I can assure you, that months and months of heart rending anguish are before you, whether you will or not. I can only advise you to take the cup with both hands… You will soon learn a secret, that there is sweetness at the bottom.”
  2. A few weeks after her husband passed away, she was teaching 80 Karens who came to her house with 20 new candidates for baptism.
  3. Rather than take her only remaining child and return home to America, she filled her schedule with evangelism and translating.
  4. Sarah administered and taught in Karen schools as well as traveling through the jungle evangelizing with her 7 year old boy.

Sarah with Adoniram

  1. For three years, Sarah served the Karen people until Judson came to visit her.
  2. 1834 Four days later, the 30-year old Sarah was joined to the 46-year old Judson.
  3. “She was altogether different from Nancy—calmer, less dominant, with less fire, but perhaps more glow.” Anderson, 413
  4. 11 children were born to Sarah, 3 to George and 8 to Adoniram, but only 7 lived to adulthood.
  5. Sarah learned Burmese when she arrived, and then Karen to reach that tribe. Eventually she added Taling in order to translate the catechism.
  6. While mothering 8 children to Adoniram over 10 years, she wrote Burmese hymns, a children’s curriculum, and translated part of The Pilgrim’s Progress.
  7. She sent away her first son to be educated in America, but God answered the dying prayers of George Sr. by making George Jr. a godly pastor long after his parents were dead. 
  8. 1845 Before her 42nd birthday with seven of her 11 children still alive, Sarah passed away in the loving arms of her second husband.
  9. Eventually, 3 of her sons would become pastors, one a doctor, one a soldier (in the US Civil War), and her daughter a teacher.

Lessons from the Boardmans

  1. Biblical view of death
  2. Urgency in evangelism
  3. The necessity of genuine spirituality to Christian ministry
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The Godly Use of a Bad Attitude

Bad ideas deserve a bad attitude. Is it a virtue to look on the bright side of the slave trade? Should the father have had a positive outlook as the prodigal was exhausting his resources? Did the Lord Jesus Christ have a good attitude with the money-hungry temple merchants?

Paul tells us to “rejoice evermore” and again, “Rejoice in the Lord.” We must give thanks in everything for that is God’s will. But our rejoicing should be Christian rejoicing. Our King’s wrath is quickly kindled (Ps. 2:12) even while he is rejoicing. Perhaps Tolkien shows best how to sew these two threads together when he writes of the Rohirrim saving Minas Tirith from the Orcs, “They sang as they slew.”

Today I attempted to purchase cement for the little group of believers gathering on the mountain in Maboko. The price had gone from R75 to R99 after 4 and 1/2 months of government “protection.” Also, the scarcity meant that I had to spend more than an hour looking for a shop that still had cement.

The government’s intervention has cost many jobs, raised the price of a great many daily products, and set citizens against each other in a new way. A pastor about an hour away told me that his congregation not only refused to begin meeting again, but they said they probably won’t meet until 2021. At the same time, the people in that church have been actively returning to work, and standing in long lines. The pastor told me the people are significantly busier now than they were before the government took control of their lives, yet it’s too dangerous to come to church.

This morning when I went to renew my motor vehicle registration, hundreds had formed a line outside the post office. Several government officials didn’t like the fact that the people were lined up “too close” to each other, and so they began trying to move a line already stretching around the block. At this point, I was distributing fliers to the people about the Bible’s response to disease, when a wave of people were pressed back in such a tight mob that I marveled no one was hurt. Government employees herding, shouting, and pushing a long line of poor people does not deserve a good attitude.

In fact, it is sin to have such an attitude that will not be disturbed when men are treated like serfs. Even if the government officials had come out politely to take up their ridiculous task, they would still be forcing people on the street to obey some higher authority on something as basic as how to stand. Why doesn’t the government issue mandates about tying shoes while they are at it? A spirit of innovation cannot last long when the society is not even allowed to choose how it will stand, or even how it will breathe.

If we have a good attitude about submitting to constant use of masks, or standing far away from people, or neglecting church services, or letting the elderly die away from their loved ones, then the power of habit will form an intractable pattern of accepting what “official” voices say rather than Scripture, church history, and the truly wise.

Godly discontent stimulates holy invention. Luther did not have a good attitude about the 95 errors of the Catholic church, so he looked for a superior way. Carey was not content with the church’s neglect of missions. The American founders were not content paying taxes without a voice in the government. Paul the Apostle encourages discontent when he tells us to “earnestly desire the greater gifts” (1 Cor. 12:31).

A Christian’s good attitude should include submission to authority, trust in God, confident expectation of the glory of Heaven, and a life of good works. We should aim to laugh whenever possible. But this settled joy should not settle our ambition. Since sin is always active, we should be constantly dissatisfied with whatever it does or touches.

I do not have a good attitude about being forced to wear a mask anymore than Jordan Peterson when he was forced to say that a boy is a girl. A lot of good has been done by bad attitudes–if by that we mean a spirit of opposition and discontent to foolish, sinful, and damaging ideas. But by God’s grace, I would like to sing while I slay.

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Critical Race Theory at Central Baptist Theological Seminary

It is such a heavy task to mark error that very few are willing to do it, yet it is heavier to contemplate the growth of cancer unchecked. At pace with the world, critical theory and cultural marxism have been growing in the Southern Baptist Convention as well as other spheres, and many godly men have opposed it in the SBC. I had assumed that an institution like Central would have done the same, and perhaps they will gain courage to hold to truth in this area in the future. I have written to Dr. Bauder and a separate letter to the administrators. Dr. Bauder gave a short, supportive reply, but neither the administration nor the authors have responded.

28 July 2020

Dear Dr. Morrell and Faculty of CBTS,

Having already written to Dr. Bauder privately, it seemed best to address the leadership of a school that has often proved a blessing to me. The graduates and faculty of CBTS have helped me with the Word of God on numerous occasions. I have come to think of CBTS as an institution following the best of the last 100 years of American Christianity, and it has been on my short list of seminaries for my sons.

In the the last four weeks’ (26 June, 3, 10, 17 July) issues of In The Nick of Time, I was consecutively disappointed, alarmed, shocked, and angered for two broad reasons. While I do not know the men who wrote the articles, I have no doubt that they love the Lord Jesus, have preached his word faithfully, and led souls to Christ.

Problem #1: The most pressing issues facing American blacks were ignored.

1. Crime
How many black people have been killed by other black citizens since George Floyd died? There has been, predictably, an explosion of violence against innocent citizens as well as police officers and even little children. Why was this violence not covered in the articles?

2. Poverty produced by rioting
Economic devastation has come to blacks because of the riots or the ungodly governance that for many years has hindered the poorest communities. The principles of biblical economics are directly related to Christian discipleship as well as the flourishing or languishing of any people in a free society.  

3. Abortion
What about the black genocide of murdering black babies in the womb? Should any societal problem be talked about as frequently or denounced as strongly as this?

4. Fatherlessness
What about fatherlessness in black homes which has skyrocketed since the civil rights movement? How can black commentators like Larry Elder, Thomas Sowell, and Candace Owens as well as Christians like Voddie Baucham, Doug Wilson, and Paul Schlehlein see this problem, but not CBTS?

5. Culture
Ben Shapiro does not have enough grace to realize that Isaiah 53 speaks about the Messiah, and yet he could tell that most of the problems in the black community come from culture. Even CNN’s Don Lemon was addressed black culture, but not the leading public voice of fundamentalism?

The last four articles ignored all these concerns and in a few lines sounded like a Washington Post opinion piece. If these men truly write out of concern for black people, then why not deal with the real causes of their misery?

Problem #2: Worldly presuppositions formed the basis of the articles.

1. Assuming that racism is a major problem for American blacks.
Even the questions treated in the articles imply a systemic problem of racism in America. When great problems actually face black and white Americans, the articles chose to deal with categories created by critical theory as if that godless philosophy has some real insight for the church. If a black man does not have the right to vote or freedom before the law or the freedom to choose his own job, show us what things we can change, and we will gladly join you to remove needless government laws and overreach that impede the freedom guaranteed in the Constitution.

No minority has been more oppressed than the Jews, yet why don’t we have articles about their feelings? Because they move on and claim their next Nobel Prize. Prager U has even published a video by a black man urging black men to stop the victim mentality. It is more fitting to Pliable than to Christian to give space to a discussion about how hard life is in modern America because of racism. 

If this is “extremely callous and un-Christian” then why does Larry Elder’s new documentary “Uncle Tom” express this sentiment? Isn’t it insulting and un-Christian to think that black people are a fragile group that need to be coddled in order to succeed? Frederick Douglass thought so. In this way, these articles have assumed—like the world—the degrading conclusion that black people cannot do what the Jews, Slavs, Britons, and practically every other group has done throughout history.

2. Asserting the key tenets of critical theory.
The authors encourage us to divide ourselves on racial lines—not even by culture, and apparently resurrect past crimes done by other people who looked like us to other people who looked like them. “I believe White Christians should do the same.” That is, in the previous paragraph, they should be elated when another white does something good. This sounds like vain glory at best and a prescription for “anti-racism work” promoted by cultural Marxists. If a Swede and a Nigerian moved to America in 1970, they must regard all whites and blacks in this way even in the church? Christians today must “seize every opportunity [in books, church, university, TV, radio, podcasts, blogs, Facebook, and text messages] to publicly recognize” the evil of people who have a certain skin color? Was that lifted from a chapter in Robin Diangelo’s White Fragility?

If this thinking goes on consistently, it will soon explain that Whites (with a capital W) are part of the power structure, especially if they are men, if they marry women, if they worship Jesus, and if they own a business. All “these people” do not understand the “lived experiences” of Blacks (with a capital B) especially if those blacks are also women, if they give themselves to sexual perversion, if they worship the state, and if they are poor. It is now unclear who at Central Baptist Seminary believes these terrible pillars of multiculturalism because there were too many supportive statements and terms taken from this unbiblical movement.

Sociology, which Neil Postman says, “can in no sense except the most trivial be called science,” is used as the basis to promote the idea that the police in America are the bad guys. Having lived in Africa for 16 years I can testify to having been pulled over with my teammate by a pick up truck full of police who threatened us with automatic rifles. I have been stopped 29 times in 30 hours for bribes. Why not let a conservative black who was also a police officer speak about his “lived experiences”? 

Worst of all, the third bullet in Article 3 asserted the essence of critical theory and multiculturalism.

“For the White Christian, confession must be given before God and man for the failings of forefathers, biological or national, and even spiritual leaders, for the history they have made, and the product of their complicity and any suspicious theology that have brought us to where we are today.”

According to these articles, I and my sons must confess our racism while mainly black people have rioted and destroyed black homes and black businesses. Every week over the last two months record breaking numbers of black lives that are supposed to matter in Chicago have been snuffed out by criminals, and at this time, what the church needs to hear, what Christian pastors need to ponder is, how to be Woke?

Conclusion

My position is similar to Voddie Baucham, John MacArthur, Tom Ascol, and Scott Aniol as articulated often in public and crisply in The Statement on Social Justice. Currently, CBTS is taking the world’s position and participating in the unfruitful works of darkness, and Christians should be alarmed. If you will not retract the errors that have been printed, can you at least balance the scales by treating critical theory, cultural Marxism, white guilt, intersectionality, anti-racism, and radical feminism to the public hanging these Diabolonians deserve?

D’Aubigne’s History of the Reformation in England is filled with examples of men whose lives made courage incarnate though like Stephen their bones were broken. Academia is not typically the haunt of men of courage, but Central has been better in the past than the worldly academy. Are there none left from the ranks of the previously militant? I and a number of others would like to know what we can expect from CBTS. King Joash began in righteousness, but ended in ignominy (2 Chron. 24). I pray that CBTS will prove rather like Josiah, or Aragorn, or Tirian.

Sincerely,

Seth Meyers

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8 Reasons People Attend False Churches

After church on Sunday, four of us began discussing why people attend churches that do not preach the gospel. Here are the answers we came up with.

  1. To meet with friends
  2. To be protected from witchcraft
  3. To be entertained
  4. To feel pleased with yourself
  5. To receive money or gifts from the church
  6. To receive a “blessing” that will produce money
  7. To find a spouse
  8. To please family

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Everyone Should Love America

Whether you are a citizen of America, Cameroon, Nepal, or Indonesia, if you believe in Jesus Christ, you should love America. In fact, regardless of your religion, you should love America. Blacks should especially love America. Mexican, Asian, Indian, and even Muslim immigration to the USA says that they love America as well. Here are 8 reasons to love the USA with the most important at the end of the list.

1. Free speech

I baptized Tinache one of many Shona men who were beaten by supporters of Zimbabwe’s previous dictator Robert Mugabe. He and many others are afraid to speak about the politics or economy of the country because there may be repercussions. Jews in Iran are pressured to support the government in its hatred of the nation of Israel. The Chinese Communist Party wants to suppress speech in Hong Kong and even off its coast in Taiwan.

America has always had a free press, and the world has taken note of it. Since 1776, the number of countries that have moved toward free speech has greatly increased.

2. Freedom of religion

China and India do not allow freedom of religion—missionaries are restricted. At least 19 Islamic countries such as Pakistan, Saudi Arabia, and Mauritania have a state religion with heavy restrictions on evangelism and missionary activity.

America allows the religions of these intolerant countries to come to her shores and proselytize. “Congress shall make no law respecting an establishment of religion, or prohibiting the free exercise thereof…” This freedom is necessary to the Christian faith which is built on people freely choosing to believe on Christ rather than compelled because of their nationality, ethnicity, or heritage.

One would think that all religions would only want adherents who actually believed their faith rather than those who slipped in by default. America is an enormous land of religious decision, and its existence has had a pleasing effect on religious freedom elsewhere in the world.

3. Equality before the law

From the beginning, America offered the protection of the law to all its citizens. Presidents were not kings because they too must be law-abiding. Originally, they rarely spoke to the nation, and the people were glad to go about their day by day work without thinking about the head of the federal government because he too was one citizen among many.

Thankfully America ended the slave trade 9 months after Britain in 1807. Although much earlier, all 13 colonies banned it in 1775. The fight against slavery is one of the most wonderful marks of America. Since the founding of the country, state after state fought against it and abolished it. Ultimately, slavery itself was ended in 1865 after 620,000 Americans paid with blood. Can any country show as much will over such a long period of time to make sure all men are free? Blacks should love America because they joined Britain to end the slave trade that began in Kenya by Africans and Muslims long before America was around (See Martin Meredith’s riveting history, The Fortunes of Africa, chapters 8 and 46).

But however the past transpired, today all Americans stand equal before the law. Would you rather go to court in Libya, Somalia, Afghanistan, or America? Martin Cothran says that a society should be judged by its ideals, and if so, America’s ideal is for equality before the law.

4. Stable economy

Depending on what metric is used, the USA creates more wealth than the entire European Union combined. That has a tremendous effect on the poorest countries of the world because American investors send their money overseas to build factories, start businesses, and employ really poor people all the while paying taxes in those countries which are supposed to help build roads and hospitals.

America’s wealth helps many poor people since they give more to charity in a year than all the wealth created in a year by the entire country of 55 million South Africans. Everyone should love that generosity because it effects the entire world through missionaries, development projects, investment capital, universities, and many more ways. The hundreds of children in Rafiki schools in Ethiopia, Kenya, Tanzania, and Zambia should love America as well as everyone who is cheering for those kids.

5. Innovation

Who has not purchased an iPhone or Microsoft Word or Coca Cola or the Ford Ranger or Nike shoes? Who has not taken a benefit from these American inventions: bottle caps, zippers, mousetraps, batteries, thumb tacks, shaving razors, air conditioners, tea bags, supermarkets, sunglasses, and microwave ovens? Americans have a can-do spirit which is why God used that country to save the world twice in the last 100 years. Why wouldn’t everyone love that?

6. Universities

The top four universities in the world are in the US: MIT, Harvard, Stanford, and Caltech. America is the undisputed champion in the world for universities with its 3,300 institutions. Many of those students hail from other countries, and that means they should love America. My great grandfather did not have opportunities to learn like these international students.

By far, America has the most seminaries for pastors and the church. If you are a Christian of any country, why would you not love a land that has trained so many people to serve God?

7. Biblical churches

Look at the local church map on Nine Marks Ministries and notice where the Biblical churches are. All of Europe has less than 200 dots on the map. South America under 50. Africa has 37. America has thousands.

If you hold to the Baptist Confession of 1689, notice where the churches are.

And why is it that this country produced so many churches? Where did they come from? Why would a South African or Pakistani or Cambodian Christian not love such a country? Why would all the Christians of the world not seek to become more like a land that can dominate its map with Biblical churches?

8. Missionaries

In the churches my teammate and I have planted, every single believer was converted by the gospel grace given first to America. Had it been handled poorly or wasted, where would they be headed today?

America sends out the lion’s share of missionaries. Of the churchplanting variety of missionary—the most apostolic of all who take the title, America sends an even greater percentage. Have you ever met a missionary from Germany or Argentina or Australia or Zambia? There are some from each of these countries, but a slow drip compared to the steady stream of Americans prepared to lay down their lives.

Were it true that Cambodia sent more missionaries than any society in the world, I would love Cambodia with all my heart. I would want to visit that country. I would want my sons to consider studying there. I would be happy if they took the Cambodian ethos that had so devoted itself to the Treasure in the field. I would study what is happening there so that it might be reproduced everywhere so that the earth might be full of the knowledge of the Lord as the waters cover the sea. I would be ashamed for the darkness of the country in which I lived. I would long for greater grace like that shining example.

I would not act as if that country did not matter, or as if my country were just as good, and I definitely would not attack the country pouring out its sons and daughters to plant churches anymore than the Queen of Sheba would have attacked Solomon once she had seen his temple and the majesty of his God.

The troops of American missionaries alone have earned it the right to be loved by all men who love the gospel or simply good education or development for the poorest places of the world.

Conclusion

Many imperfect things should be loved. Spouses, children, sinners, and the church of God are all stained with great imperfections. Even when God’s people are divisive, immoral, petty, and carnal, they are still called holy ones (1 Cor. 1:2). Too many sins have been perpetrated by America’s citizens and government, yet it is still exceptionally blessed among all the countries of the world. God has apparently loved America, and ultimately that is the best reason why we should too.

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Black Lives Matter Does Not Care About Black People

The movement known as Black Lives Matter (BLM) is not morally neutral. It makes certain claims and takes positions on theological and philosophical grounds that Christians must evaluate from Scripture. In this way, it is not merely an American issue. What are the claims made by this organization?

The most central claim is to fight for the freedom of Black people. Yet it is a miserable and justly angering reality that while highlighting a few high profile cases, BLM ignores the greatest sins and violence against black people.

1. Black babies do not matter to Black Lives Matter.

BLM fights when a drug-using armed robber is tragically killed, but they are silent as the entire black population is reduced by 50%. Catherine Davis and Bradley Mattes report,

According to U.S. census data, there were 18,871,831 black American citizens in 1960. Since Roe v. Wade legalized abortion in 1973, abortion has killed an estimated 20 million black babies — more than the entire black population of 1960.

If all the deaths of black people from all causes in a single year were added together, the murdered bodies of black babies destroyed in the womb would still be more numerous. Abortion clinics are commonly placed within walking distance of black areas.

During the 8 minutes and 46 seconds while Derek Chauvin was kneeling on George Floyd, 5 black babies were murdered with the peaceful silence of BLM approving the blood shed.

Further, BLM finds space on their website to promote the destruction of the nuclear family (under the “About, What We Believe” tab), and their editors had to make sure that they publicly support men who call themselves women (same tab), but curiously, BLM just ran out of words before it was able to defend the wanton taking of these apparently disposable lives.

2. Black men murdered by other black men do not matter to Black Lives Matter.

Each year thousands of black men are murdered by other black men, and a statistical handful by the police. Overwhelmingly, these murders take place in liberal cities where government policies have formed a steep incline preventing success and even tumbling blacks backward. It is commonly reported that there were far more two-parent homes in 1940 among the black community than today. Government policies have paid the most vulnerable people to perpetuate and even pioneer the most self-destructive practices such as single mother homes.

Incidentally, this is why Christians must study Scripture and history so that they might be able to speak biblically about politics. The conditions of society set up by the political system have far reaching consequences in the habits of our every day lives. Those habits, in turn, produce the character that forms our lot in life.

BLM does not mention character. It does not have anything to say to the thousands of dead young black men. By shouting so much against the few cases it highlights, it has lost its voice when telling black youth what they might do to avoid the great risk of violent crime by improving their own character.

But in some ways the most egregious examples of BLM overlooking the murders of other black men are the murders of black police officers and other civilians killed during the recent riots. If a black man enters a home illegally, uses drugs, threatens to murder a black woman and her baby, and yet is killed by a police officer, he becomes a hero. Yet if a black thug murders an innocent black man protecting his own property, it is ignored.

Conclusion

White and black people who have no character will support BLM because it is far less painful than weeping and working to end the river of blood that BLM conveniently ignores.

Objection:

“Abortion and criminal homicide may be problems, but that does not mean we should ignore police brutality.”

If two men were embezzling from your company, the one stealing $100, and the other stealing $100 million, it would be wrong, sinful, and totally unjustifiable to ignore the greater and shout about the lesser. Until BLM shows any concern for the murder of hundreds of thousands of black people, we will refuse to follow their twisted logic when they profess to believe that black lives really do matter.

Until BLM opens its mouth about the great tragedies of abortion and black victims of homicide, we are under no obligation to believe their religious propaganda. BLM has an agenda, but defending black people is not germane to it.

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20 Questions for Pastors Who Believe Divorce is Permissible

In the past, I have listed the arguments for divorce and against divorce. If you are not familiar with the debate or arguments, then please read those posts. This morning I finished reading Daryl Wingerd’s excellent Divorce and Remarriage: A Permanence View. For those who have taken the position that the Bible sometimes allows divorce and remarriage in cases of adultery and desertion, I offer the following 20 questions.

Jeremiah 3

1. If God’s divorce of Israel in Jeremiah 3 allows for divorce today then must couples today also continue to be devoted exclusively to the sinning spouse (3:1, 7, 12-14, 22), call themselves married (3:14), and maintain their binding covenant (3:16-19) as God did with Israel?

Matthew 19

2. Are pastors today willing to prohibit divorce without any reference to exceptions or nuance or clarifications like Jesus did with the Pharisees’ question until someone raises further difficulties as the Pharisees did (Matt. 19:3-6)?

3. Are pastors today willing to make explicit statements against divorce and remarriage without any qualification as both Jesus and Paul did (Luke 16:18; 1 Cor. 7:39; Rom. 7:2-4)?

4. If the Pharisees were trying to trap Jesus (Matt. 19:3), then how does that happen if he merely admitted that he holds to the relatively conservative Shammai school of allowing divorce whenever there is adultery?

5. Why were the disciples shocked (Matt. 19:10 cf. Mark 10:10) by Jesus’ answer to the Pharisees if Jesus were simply standing with one of the well-known schools (i.e. Shammai: Divorce is permissible for fornication)?

6. If the words “except for fornication” were not found in Matt. 19:9, would it be easier for you to accept that Matt. 5:32 was referring to betrothal and not to divorce within an already established family?

7. If the words “except for fornication” were not found in Matt. 19:9, would it be easier for you to see how Paul was prohibiting all divorce and remarriage in Romans 7:2-3 and 1 Cor. 7:10-11?

8. Would any readers today describe the words “except for fornication” as “clear and unambiguous” in the debate about divorce and remarriage?

9. How much weight then does the “some divorce and some remarriage” position place on two, admittedly unclear and ambiguous words?

10. If Jesus was listing an exception in Matt. 19:9, on what grounds does that exception not include lust and pornography?

11. If lust and pornography are included as valid reasons for divorce, then has the exception not become the rule?

12. What is the significance of Matthew’s record of Joseph’s attempted divorce of Mary as well as the exception clause (“except for fornication”) in Matt. 19:9?

13. Is there any evidence that Mark’s readers assumed that Jesus permitted divorce?

14. Why should Matthew’s account be chosen instead of Mark’s account as the interpretive grid to control the conclusions about divorce?

Romans 7

15. Does Paul use marriage to illustrate that only the work of Christ could save us from the guilt of the law in Rom. 7:2-4?

16. How many ways does Paul provide for a woman to be freed from her husband in Rom. 7:2-3?

17. If a woman may be freed from her first husband in some way other than death, then may not some people be saved from the law in some way other than Christ’s work on their behalf?

1 Corinthians 7

18. Why does Paul explicitly prohibit divorce four times in four succeeding verses (1 Cor. 7:10-13) if he really believes that there are two broad categories for divorce (i.e. fornication or desertion)?

19. Why are the prohibitions in 1 Cor. 7:10-13 so clear and the exception for desertion in 1 Cor. 7:15 so unclear?

Ephesians 5

20. Wherein is the error in this syllogism?

Proposition 1: A husband must be like Jesus Christ in His love for His bride (Eph. 5:25).
Proposition 2: Jesus Christ never divorces His bride.
Conclusion: A husband must never divorce His bride.

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Obedience That Dishonored God

To the government or king

  1. Doeg the Edomite obeys the king to murder 85 men (1 Sam. 22:18-19).
  2. The men of Keilah would have obeyed the king by delivering up David after he had just saved them (1 Sam. 23:12).
  3. The men of Ziph obeyed the government when they should have disobeyed (1 Sam. 26:1).
  4. Bathsheba obeyed the king’s request for her to break her marriage vow (2 Sam. 11:4).
  5. Joab sinfully obeyed the king’s request to put Uriah in a place where he would die (2 Sam. 11:14-17).
  6. Joab and the captains of the army sinfully obeyed the king’s command to number the people (2 Sam. 24:4).
  7. Two fools obey Jezebel and lie about Naboth (1 Kings 21:10).
  8. The men who took Micaiah to prison obeyed wicked Ahab in that unjust command (1 Kings 22:26).
  9. The soldiers obeyed the Jewish leaders (Matt. 28:15).

    To the people
  10. Aaron obeys the voice of the people (Ex. 32:1-4).
  11. The Levite obeys the crowd from Dan (Judges 18:19-20).
  12. The Levite obeys the crowd of Benjamites to deliver his concubine for abuse (Judges 19:25).
  13. Pilate obeys the crowd to consent to Christ’s murder (Matt. 27:24).
  14. Herod obeyed the whims of the people around him to cut off John’s head (Mark 6:25-26).

    To parents
  15. Micah obeys his mother to worship false idols (Judges 17:3-5).

    To wives
  16. Solomon obeyed his wives (1 Kings 11:4).
  17. Ahab obeyed his wife Jezebel (1 Kings 16:31 cf. 21:25).

    To false teachers
  18. Peter obeyed the Judaizers at least for a time drawing other Christians with him back to Judaism (Gal. 2:12-13).
  19. The church at Thyatira obeyed Jezebel the false prophetess (Rev. 2:20)

Conclusions

  • The government often tempts men to sin by fearing the consequence of breaking the law.
  • Crowds of people lead men to sin because their desires are corrupt and their judgment is unbiblical. Pure democracy is not a godly system.
  • A wicked wife can exercise great power over her husband, and logically the reverse is true as well.
  • Obedience sometimes results from a lack of integrity and moral courage.
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