In Dec. 2019, in Wuhan China, a new disease was identified that attacks the lungs making breathing very difficult. Within 3 months, it had spread to 180 countries with approximately 250,000 cases. COVID-19 (Corona Virus Disease 2019) currently has a death rate of 3-4%. But we can expect these figures to drop as more cases of those who recovered are included. In 2014, West Africa saw Ebola with a death rate of 40%.

On 15 March 2020, President Ramaphosa declared that South Africa was in a state of emergency. Then on 23 March, a lockdown was imposed whereby all traffic was reduced to the necessities such as hospitals, groceries, and police. As of 25 March, there are 709 confirmed cases and not yet any fatalities. Beginning Friday, 27 March until 17 April, the entire country is banned from most travel, work, and public gatherings.

The infections grow exponentially pictured as a line sharply turning upward. After the virus begins to weaken, the infections cease to increase and then decline. When this action is shown on paper, it looks like a bell curve. Governments around the world are taking measures in order to “flatten the curve.”

This virus provides a platform from which to inspect a Christian worldview. How should Christians respond? If you had read from Genesis to Revelation 50 times, how would you respond?

Christians live by the great principles of their faith especially during a crisis. So, here are some wrong responses followed by a list of eight Biblical principles that ought to guide us.

Three unbiblical responses

“We will be safe in Jesus’ name.”

This may also be heard as: “My faith is in God, so I am protected.” Or, “God told me He would keep me safe.” Or worst of all, “I bind you, Satan, and all your viruses!”

This is a very common response from people who think of themselves as Christian, but it is a silly blend of positive thinking and spirit worship.

“It does not matter. There’s nothing to be concerned about.”

As of this writing, 19,000 have died who had this virus. They have stepped into eternity with no hope of returning or changing the destiny to which they are now trapped. Families have lost loved ones and breadwinners and mothers. Even more so than other flu epidemics, it is specially contagious. There is a great risk that it could reach poorer areas where water, hygiene, and close living could spread the disease quickly to people without resources for medical care.

“This could kill off whole towns and villages!”

The death rate is especially pronounced for those over 60. For example, the average age of those who died in Italy is 79. The great majority of those who are younger without previous health problems are coming through the virus in a few weeks.

1. History reveals many plagues that have taken great numbers of people.

History is filled with numerous stories of plague, famine, and tragedy. We are all tempted to think that our problem at the moment is the worst ever. What person over 70 has not said or thought, “The young people these days are terrible?”

COVID 19 is a serious threat, but there are an infinite number of gradations of seriousness which we may apply to any threat. History supplies the long term perspective to help us battle disease on one side and to keep our fears and our response in check on the other.

We might be tempted to overreact as if this was the first time or the worst time. The majority of those who have passed away had pre-existing conditions and were over 60 years old. But historically, far more people died in the previous plagues of history.

Even in recent history there are terrible physical tragedies. In 2017, 3,561 people died per day from TB. Yet this is not a worldwide concern. Influenza kills many thousands per day, but governments are not shutting down their countries. Each day, 3,287 people die from road accidents around the world. This last number is particularly remarkable because we could solve this problem by reducing the speed limit to 30 k’s per hour (19 mph), and yet there is no global travel on this road.

Millions dead Area Date Disease
5-10 million Roman Empire 165-180 Possibly smallpox
25-50 million (40% of population) Europe Egypt, and West Asia 541-542 Plague
approx. ​1⁄3 of entire Japanese population Japan 735–737 Smallpox
50–200 million; 10–60% of European population Europe, Asia and North Africa 1331–1353 Plague (Black death)  
5-8 million Mexico 1520 Smallpox
5–15 million (80% of population) Mexico 1545–1548 Possibly Salmonella enterica
2–2.5 million (50% of pop.) Mexico 1576–1580 Possibly Salmonella
> 2,000,000 Persia 1772 Plague
1,000,000 Russia 1852–1860 Cholera
>22 million in India, more worldwide Worldwide 1855–1960 Bubonic plague
1,000,000 Worldwide 1889–1890 Influenza
1.5 million worldwide 1915–1926 Encephalitis lethargica
25-100 million Worldwide 1918-1920 Influenza
2,000,000 worldwide 1957–1958 Influenza A virus subtype H2N2
1,000,000 worldwide 1968–1969 Influenza A virus subtype H3N2
> 32,000,000 worldwide
(from Congo Basin)
1920–present HIV/AIDS

Christians should be good students of history because hundreds of pages of the Bible are historical accounts. History is the story of God’s will. If He had wanted it to turn out differently, He was certainly able to change things. Yet in history He sits in the Heavens and laughs at sinners (Psalm 2:4), pours out kindness on both believers and unbelievers (Matt. 5:45), and shows again and again that every doctrine in His Word is true. As we read about yesterday, we ought to make theological connections. The diseases of history show the horror of sin (Rom. 8:20-22), and the marvelous medical breakthroughs display the grace, providence, and creativity of God.

Summary: History can correct us from the natural selfishness which tempts us to exaggerate our own problems and quickly forget the great trials of others.

Series navigation
A Christian response to the Corona Virus, Part 1
A Christian response to the Corona Virus, Part 2
A Christian response to the Corona Virus, Part 3

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False Teachers Promoted by Bars

Thursday morning at 11:00 am I arrived in Mpombo, the western section of Valdezia to visit house by house and begin Bible studies in ongoing efforts to evangelize. The houses display a mix of the middle class and the poor. But as I walked between them, I heard a Tsonga man “preaching” in English while a Tsonga woman translated after him into Tsonga. Because the grass was growing tall, I could not see the unusual church that would have a service on Thursday morning. The man shouted that “all my enemies will fall before me” along with all the other mantras of the prosperity religion.

Tsonga home in Valdezia

Eventually, I met two men on the road who were both drunk and carrying bottles away from the sound of the “preaching.” I spoke with them briefly about their souls, but they could not carry any serious thought. Shortly after them, I reached a beautiful home with a gardener and a decorated wall. The woman at home kindly told me that the bottle store (bar, see the photo) next door was owned by her and that she played these things from the TV in order to attract people to drink there. The two men I had met came from this place.

The tavern that played the Prosperity preachers

So here is the situation: A shouting preacher is being blasted by enormous speakers from a tavern throughout a large swath of Mpombo. The owner and the inhabitants appear to find no noticeable incongruity between the religious message or the business of alcohol. Why?

1. The Prosperity Gospel appeals to the base sentiment of globalized entertainment.

The overall volume combines with the undulating rhythms of the speaker’s voice. He has copied so many television preachers that he can bounce and screech in an ear-catching way. There is a lot about vague “enemies” who are trying to “take you down.” And there is a lot of God-talk about a salvation without the Cross from the demons of poverty.

2. The Prosperity Gospel soothes carnal habits rather than confronting sin.

Nothing about this kind of preaching would awaken a drunkard. There is no word of warning unless the preacher begins to shout about someone “coming out from under my umbrella of authority.” I have a newspaper behind me on my shelf from a prosperity preacher in this area announcing that sex before marriage does not matter. I don’t think most Africans in the rural areas are surprised at these things because they have grown up nourished with a diet of ATR over which they don the clothes of Prosperity. Many in the West however accept this as Christian.

3. The Prosperity Gospel bypasses the Christian God.

There is no tremendous lightning and fire coming from the Mountain to terrify sinners. There is no heart-stopping grace to melt hard hearts. There is no exaltation. A man might understand and enjoy the presentation of this kind of religion immediately without the interposition of a new heart or even any conviction of sin. Though it is loud, it deadens the senses by an entire visceral experience.

In the mind of the average person in the rural areas, alcohol is immediately and intrinsically connected to drunkenness. The rural mind takes alcohol as antithetical to Christianity because traditional brewing took place among the Tsongas after the harvest and lasted a number of days during which drunkenness and sexual sins were commonplace.

The point of this post is to demonstrate not the evil of beer, but the unconscious statement that the dominant religion in the villages fits neatly with the culture of the bar. It does not call for and could not co-exist with holiness, repentance, Bible study, reflection, or Christian faith.

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Seven Types of Pastor in Africa in 2020

Recently, I received a text message with 12 types of pastors in Africa. But the list needed to be reorganized and reduced a little. Here are the seven most common pastors I have seen these days.

1. The Illogical Pastor

Description: He preaches without clear terms because his mind is not clearly organized. Therefore, he can talk generally about repentance, redemption, faith, humility, heaven, salvation, or God, yet he is never really able to give a simple definition of what these things are and what they are not. His mind is like a closet with many thoughts inside, but they are not placed carefully on the right shelves. He has never studied logic, and sometimes he even denigrates clear thinking. He has even told his church members to “stop using your mind, and start using your spirit” or something similar to that.

Basic motives: He wants to serve the Lord, but he does not want to take the effort to discipline his mind.

Demerits: Since Jesus commanded us to love the Lord with our minds, this man is doomed to fail at the most important command. Eventually, his church may grow, but if you ask the people on the way out the door what they learned, it will always be some form of a cliché rather than solid, time-tested, exegetically derived theology.

Way out: Carefully define every word especially the important words in each passage before you preach. Make the goal of every sermon the point of the passage rather than what someone else said or what will make the people shout, “Amen.”

2. The Lawless Pastor

Description: He talks much about grace so that his sins and the sins of the most important givers will never be fingered. He also loves the line, “Do not judge!”, but he hates Jesus’ words, “Judge righteous judgment (John 7:24).” This pastor overlooks the clear statement that women must be silent in the church, that they must not teach men, that they must learn in submission. He does not bother to obey the command that at the most only three may speak in tongues at a single church meeting and every time, they must have an interpreter. He ignores the fact that if pastors have unbelieving children or have divorced they must resign immediately. And many other laws, this man (or woman) sidesteps.

Basic motives: Peter tells us that their motives are greed and love of sin (2 Peter 2:14).

Demerits: Since he is an antinomian (lawless one), he will ultimately hear Jesus say, “Depart from me, I never knew you, you who practice lawlessness.” (Matt. 7:23)

Way out: We must begin taking every command in the Bible seriously. We must obey it whether we lose friends, whether we have small churches, whether we suffer, and whether we lose money. God’s approval is more important than man’s approval.

3. The Sensational Pastor

Description: This man loves a show. He will dress to please the people. His pictures always shows his rings and jewelry. He holds the microphone even if he is only preaching to 50 people because he likes the superficial look and sound. Everything he does is copying show business from the sinful state of Hollywood.

Basic motives: This man is so immature that he models his ministry off of television rather than the apostles. He has watched more hours of TV than he has spent reading his Bible. He can impersonate T. D. Jakes and Pastor Chris better than he can quote Peter or John.

Demerits: No church can come to the fullness of the stature of Christ (Eph. 4:13) with a man like this.

Way out: Turn off the TV. Put it in the trash. Throw out the dish. And begin reading your Bible until you are terrified of God’s holiness, mesmerized by His grace, humbled by your sin, captured by His love, filled with His Spirit, and ready to suffer hardness as a good soldier.

4. The Church-growth Pastor

Description: He judges every decision based on whether more people come to the meetings. A sermon was good only if people liked it and more people come back. Another pastor is a “man of God” and has the “anointing” if he has a large following. The number of “likes” on Facebook is more important to him than if he is obedient to the laws in the Sermon on the Mount.

Basic motives: Simple, Jr. high love of popularity. This man has never grown up so now he desperately wants to be loved by people rather than being content with God’s love toward him.

Demerits: This man will break more and more commands of Scripture in order to attract a crowd. Bring in worldly music? Sure, if more people come. Overlook sexual sin in the church? Sure, if more people come. Ignore false doctrine from guest speakers? Sure, if more people come.

Way out: This man needs to see God like the children of Israel in Deut. 5:25. Where they cried out in terror that they would die if they ever saw God’s glory again. He needs to learn the fear of the Lord (Pro. 1:7), and true holiness without which no one will see God (Heb. 12:14).

5. The “Fire” Pastor

Description: This man shouts “fire” throughout his sermons. He can repeat this single word 20 times in a sermon. He will also mix it with other words like “blessing” and “breakthrough” and “success.”

Basic motives: Since he has not studied, he does not know what to say. He is like Ahimaaz who ran to speak to David, but he had no message (2 Sam. 18:29-30).

Demerits: He will lead his people away from the gospel by teaching them to look for external entertainment.

Way out: Study the Bible. Say only what the text says. Let it be your master in the pulpit.

6. The Politically Correct Pastor

Description: His sermons never offend anyone because he is very careful to always speak about general themes. He does not mention Hell or the sins that would send a man there. He does not rebuke African traditional religion on one hand or transgender foolishness on the other. His convictions change from day to day according to polls or news stories. He is afraid to apply the Bible to economics or spanking children or male-headship or entertainment.

Basic motives: The fear of man drives this man. He could never rebuke his superiors who pay him or his inferiors who validate him.

Demerits: Without courage, he will not tell his people that there is only one way to God. He will not tell them that we are all barbarians before we had the gospel. Because he withholds hard truths, his people will be lost.

Way out: Read your Bible marking all the places where men and women were courageous for God. Ask Jesus to make you bold as a lion (Pro. 28:1). Fix your heart on revival rather than comfort and popular acceptance.

7. The Biblical Pastor

Description: This man cares more about humility than huge offerings. He teaches the Bible verse by verse rather than the TV preacher frame by frame. He is hard on his own sin, bold for the truth, gentle when he is wronged, and full of love for the lost. He would rather see someone saved than receive a large gift. He could not be paid enough to lie. He studies theology more than sports. He reads well because he first of all a teacher.

Basic motives: He loves and fears the God of the Bible. He thinks much about the Second Coming of Jesus Christ. He finds joy in God.

Demerits: This man will likely not be popular. He will suffer like all who live godly. He will give away his wealth to missionaries sooner than live a flashy life.

Way out: Sin. If this man gives in to sin, he will be like Samson with his hair shaved. He will quench the Spirit and spiral downward.


When the Lord comes, a great number of men will be shocked to find out they have been false pastors all along. But there is still time now to change! Now, we have the chance to repent of foolish, unbiblical practices and return to the real power of God through the gospel in the book of Acts.

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Multiculturalism, Part 5: Directions for Dealing with the Influence of False Religion

Do not learn the way of the nations… For the customs of the peoples are delusion.
Jeremiah 10:2-3

What should someone do who has been converted from a culture that is heavily influenced by paganism?

  1. They should examine every part of their lives, every cultural practice, and every custom in light of the Bible.
  2. They should cultivate a teachable spirit so that they readily receive instruction in areas where demons had previously deceived them by vain traditions.
  3. They should follow the examples of those societies who have been sanctified by the gospel.
  4. They should guard themselves from the culture in which they were born knowing that it was largely influenced by demonic religion.
  5. They should happily retain any cultural practices that by God’s grace tend to promote goodness, truth, and beauty as defined by Scripture.
  6. They should remember examples of Gentiles who were converted in Scripture such as Ruth who gladly left every vestige of her old religion and its cultural baggage.
  7. They should study the doctrine of total depravity so that they would not tend to overemphasize the goodness of man outside of Christian light.
  8. They should lean away from cultural conservatism since they do not want to protect practices that are vain.

What should someone do who has grown up in Christianity?

  1. They should study the precepts of false religion so that they can more accurately refute the errors and more persuasively communicate the gospel.
  2. They should keep the “antithesis” firmly placed in their minds—the battle between the one true religion of Jehovah and all other religions as demonic enemies.
  3. They should be particularly wary of media and art which passes on pagan values in a subtle, entertaining manner.
  4. They should examine themselves to see if any worldly or pagan practices are pulling them away from the highest love for God as Solomon’s wives pulled his heart away.
  5. They should deal in love and patience yet boldness with those who are coming out of paganism.
  6. They should happily acknowledge any cultural practices that by God’s grace tend to promote goodness, truth, and beauty as defined by Scripture even in a society that has been dominated by false religion.
  7. They should study the doctrine of total depravity so that they would not be ensnared by the spirit of this age who is currently promoting the notion that all cultures are equally good, true, and beautiful.
  8. They should lean toward cultural conservatism since they want to protect practices that have strengthened believers for many generations.

As globalization has brought diverse peoples together, and as modern economies have brought the benefits of unprecedented wealth and cultural advance, Jeremiah’s prophecy in chapter 10:1-8 stands to remind the people of God that false religions produce a worthless way of life that will degenerate a people almost as proportionally low as the gospel can raise them. Though there can be glimmers of common grace, Jeremiah has almost nothing to say about that. His inspired message from 600 years before Christ still fits 2,000 years after our Lord: The religions of the world produce worthless cultures.

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Multiculturalism, Part 4: Is It a Sin to Learn About False Religions?

Do not learn the way of the nations… For the customs of the peoples are delusion.
Jeremiah 10:2-3

God commanded His people not to learn the unbiblical, foolish way of life produced by false religions (Jer. 10:2).

  • This way of life is actually what we commonly call a culture.
  • The culture of the nations came from their religions.
  • Their religions and the cultures they produce are worthless.

So then how much should someone learn about false religion? How can you evangelize someone if you do not understand their theology?

God orders His people not to learn their religion in Jer. 10:2, but then…

  1. He explains their source of knowledge—astrology (10:2).
  2. He explains their art forms—idols (10:3-5).
  3. He explains their mental state—foolish and stupid (10:8).
  4. He explains their jewelry and clothing—silver, gold, and fashions (10:9).
  5. He lists the names of these gods—Baal and Molech (32:35).
  6. He tells where they worship demons—the valley of Ben-hinnom (32:25).
  7. He lists some of their practices—sacrificing their children (19:5).

The command not to learn the way of the nations is not a simple or absolute prohibition. It does not mean or prohibit certain learning. It does not stop a Christian from learning the false religion’s doctrines or the culture’s practices. Those disciplines can be very helpful in convincing the sinners of their errors. We should study their theology so that we can debate and communicate like Paul did (Acts 19:8-9, etc.).

Rather the command addresses the affections. Do not learn about the heathen culture so that you may imitate it.

You shall not do what is done in the land of Egypt where you lived, nor are you to do what is done in the land of Canaan where I am bringing you; you shall not walk in their statutes.
Lev. 18:3

When the Lord your God cuts off before you the nations which you are going in to dispossess, and you dispossess them and dwell in their land, 30beware that you are not ensnared to follow them, after they are destroyed before you, and that you do not inquire after their gods, saying, ‘How do these nations serve their gods, that I also may do likewise?’ 31You shall not behave thus toward the Lord your God, for every abominable act which the Lord hates they have done for their gods; for they even burn their sons and daughters in the fire to their gods.
Deut. 12:29-31

The prohibition to learn is a warning about imitation. Study carefully to refute so long as your heart retains its love for God and its hatred of sin. The Lord Jesus Christ was honored because He hated sin while loving righteousness (Heb. 1:9). Do not learn about the heathen culture in a way that would allow your mind to sympathize with it or learn to enjoy it. Alexander Pope captured the danger in his Essay on Man.

Vice is a monster of so frightful mien,
As to be hated needs but to be seen;
Yet seen too oft, familiar with her face,
We first endure, then pity, then embrace.

An Essay on Man, Epistle II, line 217

William Carey required his students at Serampore College to study the theology of Hinduism so that they could effectively answer the arguments and evangelize. To learn about false religions so as to imitate or sympathize is a study forbidden to all believers because it tends to weaken our devotion to Jehovah.

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Multiculturalism, Part 3: God’s Evaluation of the Cultures of the World

Do not learn the way of the nations… For the customs of the peoples are delusion.
Jeremiah 10:2-3

The words of Jeremiah may have felt like a hammer when they were originally delivered. This is why riots formed after his prophecies (Jer. 26:8-11). Ten years later his free speech rights were violated again when his prophecies landed him in jail (37:15-16). Another decade passed and his words were so angering that he was thrown in an old well and left to rot in the mud (38:6). It would not be surprising if his words produced the same response today because they have not lost their edge.

God would have His people stay away from this culture (10:2). It is dangerous because it does not have truth. It is deceptive because it has support from a large group of people. It is despairing because it offers no hope either spiritually or for this present world. The command to stay away from pagan cultures is itself a judgment about their goodness, truth, and beauty.

Not only does God imply a divine condemnation of the world’s cultures by commanding His people to learn their way or customs, but the text tells us explicitly what God thinks of these cultures. They are worthless (10:3 “vanity” ESV; “delusions” NASB). This is God’s judgment on every culture outside of the one that would be produced by a consistent application of the Bible.

Cultures must be judged by the degree of influence that Christianity has had on them. The determining factor in judging a culture is the presence of Jesus Christ and His Light in that people group. Though He comes to lighten every man (John 1:9), yet they are still ignorant of Him (John 1:10) and the nearer he gets to them, the more strongly they reject Him (John 1:11). Instead they give themselves to religions inspired by demons.

The rest of mankind, who were not killed by these plagues, did not repent of the works of their hands, so as not to worship demons…
Rev. 9:20

For all the gods of the peoples are idols…
Psalm 96:5

They sacrificed to demons who were not God…
Deut. 32:17

How could a religion produce anything good, true, or beautiful if it were inspired by demons?

Though it may perturb postmodern professors and strike the sensibility of celebrity snowflakes, Jehovah says that the religions of the world produce cultures which actually downgrade the society to stupidity, foolishness, and ignorance (10:8, 14). Twice Jeremiah condemns the entire group and all their thinking. Their minds do not work correctly because of their religion.

10:8 “Their idol is wood.” NASB
10:8 “The instruction of idols is but wood!” ESV
Lit. “The teaching of worthless things [idols] is wood.”

Idolatry has a kind of catechism and yet it rises no higher than something as basic as wood. Do you want to trust your life and society to that?

Knowing that you were not redeemed with perishable things like silver or gold from your futile way of life inherited from your forefathers,
1 Pet. 1:18

God has often destroyed whole societies because of their wicked cultures.

Now go and strike Amalek and utterly destroy all that he has, and do not spare him; but put to death both man and woman, child and infant, ox and sheep, camel and donkey.
1 Sam. 15:3

That command is given to Israel on other occasions (Deut. 23:3-6; Jos. 10:40; et. al.). Christians should assume that a false religion will produce wicked and foolish judgments among the members of society.

One of themselves, a prophet of their own, said, “Cretans are always liars, evil beasts, lazy gluttons.” 13 This testimony is true. For this reason reprove them severely so that they may be sound in the faith, 14 not paying attention to Jewish myths and commandments of men who turn away from the truth.
Tit. 1:12-14

A Christian’s basic posture toward a culture produced by a false religion should be negative rather than positive or neutral.

“When the Lord your God brings you into the land where you are entering to possess it, and clears away many nations before you, the Hittites and the Girgashites and the Amorites and the Canaanites and the Perizzites and the Hivites and the Jebusites, seven nations greater and stronger than you, 2 and when the Lord your God delivers them before you and you defeat them, then you shall utterly destroy them. You shall make no covenant with them and show no favor to them. 3 Furthermore, you shall not intermarry with them; you shall not give your daughters to their sons, nor shall you take their daughters for your sons. 4 For they will turn your sons away from following Me to serve other gods; then the anger of the Lord will be kindled against you and He will quickly destroy you. 5 But thus you shall do to them: you shall tear down their altars, and smash their sacred pillars, and hew down their Asherim, and burn their graven images with fire.”
Deut. 7:1-5

As members of the New Covenant, this passage teaches the essential worth of false religions and the cultures they produce. They are not to be pitied. We may not let our children marry into them. Christianity stands in absolute opposition to them. We ask for no help from them. There is no spiritual unity between light and darkness. Of course, this refers to religion only since the Canaanite Rahab was in the lineage of our Lord and Moses also married a woman who looked different physically yet had left her false religion.

Surprisingly, the word “way” is in the singular while the word “nations” is in the plural in Jer. 10:2. All the cultures of the Gentiles are bottled together in this command. The general principle is all nations have similar culture except for that one culture produced by God and given by revelation to His people. This is confirmed by Paul in Ephesians 4:17-19 where he describes all Gentile cultures before Christ:

So this I say, and affirm together with the Lord, that you walk no longer just as the Gentiles also walk, in the futility of their mind, 18 being darkened in their understanding, excluded from the life of God because of the ignorance that is in them, because of the hardness of their heart; 19 and they, having become callous, have given themselves over to sensuality for the practice of every kind of impurity with greediness.
Eph. 4:17-19

Furthermore, the NT uses the word “gentile” as if they are people to be pitied and reached with the new religion (Acts 11:1; Rom. 2:14; 1 Cor. 5:1). Because the culture of the Gentiles is worthless, it actually harms those who follow it.

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Multiculturalism, Part 2: What Is the Source of Culture?

Do not learn the way of the nations… For the customs of the peoples are delusion.
Jeremiah 10:2-3

In Jeremiah 10:2 the people of God are commanded not to learn the way of the Gentiles. Today, we call the way of life and customs that Jeremiah spoke about, culture. Who is the mother of culture? Where does it find its origin? God told Judah through Jeremiah the answer to this question.

The culture of the nations is connected to their religion. They take their knowledge from religious observance of stars (10:2). They dedicate their art to idols (10:3-4). They fear dead idols (10:5). They have been taught by idols (10:8).

Paul connected his childhood culture with the religion of Judaism.

For you have heard of my former manner of life in Judaism, how I used to persecute the church of God beyond measure and tried to destroy it;
Galatians 1:13

What questions does a religion ask?

  1. Who is the final authority to determine good and bad in life?
  2. What is the great goal of life?
  3. Where did the world come from?
  4. How do we deal with guilt, fear, shame, and death?
  5. How can we know that something is true?
  6. What is beautiful?

Doesn’t a culture try to answer every one of these questions? In fact when a group of people gather themselves they inevitably form traditions bent on dealing with just these difficulties. As an example, how might the culture of African Traditional Religion (ATR) answer these questions?

  1. Who is the final authority? “Ancestors, swikembwu, midzimu, and the taboos that they have passed down to us over the centuries. Some day I will become one of them just like my forefathers.”
  2. What is the great goal of life? “To maintain the traditions that we were given in the society in which we were born.”
  3. Where did the world come from? “It is unknown and unnecessary. No man needs to know origins in order to continue in the path that his family has always led.”
  4. How do we deal with guilt, fear, shame, and death? “By staying in the paths of ancient tradition, we can overlook the impressions that come to our hearts.”
  5. How can we know that something is true? “The only truth is that which received from the ancestors. So we do not trust science or history because the numerous spirits and the terrible powers of witchcraft can change any given situation.”
  6. What is beautiful? “Beauty is the same as appetite. There are no affections to be raised because there is no reality beyond this world and the very similar spiritual ‘world’ where the midzimu live.”

“After all, elders (male or female) are tradition’s custodians. Even when only one speaks, his or hers is a vicarious voice; a voice uttered on behalf of the family or clan and its heritage. For this reason the voice of an older person vibrates with an aura of infallibility and finality. To defy it is to incur the wrath of not one but many; all, in fact, including the furious dead.”

Choolwe Mbetwa, Why Africa Is Poor, 38-39

What Mbetwa put into print is known by a great number of people living in the rural areas: There is a strong connection between traditions (culture) and authority and the ancestors. Authority and ancestors are religious categories while the ongoing, earthly traditions are the cultural. Culture is an incarnation of a religion. Culture is the clothes that religion makes for its believers.

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Multiculturalism, Part 1: The Prophet Jeremiah on the Cultures of the World

Can anything good be found in man or the world apart from the grace and presence of the Lord Jesus Christ? What would the world look like if only one nation had the Bible? It would look like the days of Jeremiah.

In those days, only one small country has had God’s laws for 900 years. They live at the junction between Europe, Asia, and Africa. Around 725 BC, Israel was conquered by Assyria and deported (2 Kings 17:6). Over a hundred years later, Jeremiah is given the prophecy found in the 10th chapter of his book. Now the southern kingdom of Judah is about to be conquered by Babylon (Jer. 9:16). At this time, God gives a warning for all the people in captivity because they will be living near and meeting different peoples of the world—the Gentiles. What warning does He give?

Do not learn the way of the nations… For the customs of the peoples are delusion.
Jeremiah 10:2-3

The way of the nations is their culture. The word could be interchanged with the “customs” of the Gentiles found in the next verse. In the NT, Peter uses the words conduct, behavior, and manner of life to describe the basic actions of a people group (1 Pet. 1:15, 18; 2:12; 3:1, 2, 16; 2 Pet. 2:7; 3:11).

Writing in 1828, Noah Webster defined “culture” like this.

“The act of tilling and preparing the earth for crops; cultivation; the application of labor or other means of improvement. 2. The application of labor or other means to improve good qualities in, or growth; as the culture of the mind; the culture of virtue. 3. The application of labor or other means in producing; as the culture of corn, or grass. 4. Any labor or means employed for improvement, correction or growth.”

Our contemporary use of the term shows that today culture means the way of life that brings about the best kind of life. A culture represents a society’s best attempts to make true judgments. This is what we think good manners in children look like. This is what we think good music is. This is what we think just laws look like. This is the kind of character we think produces prosperity. Today there is a globalized popular culture that has been growing exponentially since about 1960 because the forward leaps of technology have been so massive as to sometimes approximate flights of scientific advance rather than mere steps.

Obviously, some things that some cultures do are wrong.

  1. Chinese foot-binding ended when Christian missionaries stopped it.
  2. European slave trade ended when Christian missionaries stopped it.
  3. Hindu suttee ended when Christian missionaries stopped it.
  4. Islamic polygamy has not yet ended. 

These nations had ways that were immoral and impractical, and it is a mercy from God that some of the foolish ways have changed through the growth of the Christian religion. When their cultures should have been dedicated to the improvement, correction, or growth of the society, instead they were degrading the people under their influences.

Some of the ways of every nation bear a resemblance to every other, and in some ways they each differ. What can account for the similarities as well as the differences? From what spring comes culture?

That is the subject of the next entry.

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Expect and Attempt: Faith and Ambition in the Life of William Carey


  • The world looked and felt very different 250 years ago (MAP).
  • The earth’s population was about 10% of what it is today—770,000,000.
  • Christianity was virtually unknown in South America, Asia, Africa, or the islands of the world.
  • There were not yet any steam engines, electric lights, telegraph, or USA.
  • Then it was that God raised up a man to open the door to the nations.
  • A short, bald, poor man without even a high school education personally translated or directly oversaw the translation of the entire Bible from Greek and Hebrew into 6 Indian languages and portions into 29 more.


  • In a cold and indifferent time, amidst opposition from friends and family, with a slim salary, through heart stopping difficulty, William Carey conceived ideas to stretch out Christianity through the haunts of paganism and then labored on earth as it is in heaven for the coming of Christ’s Kingdom.


  1. 1761 August 17 born to Edmund and Elizabeth.
  2. 1775 Carey begins work as a shoemaker along with John Warr.
  3. Warr evangelized him as they worked together. Carey later wrote, “[John Warr] became importunate with me, lending me books which gradually wrought a change in my thinking, and my inward uneasiness increased.”
  4. While a teenaged apprentice he began teaching himself Greek.
  5. 1779 After three years of talk with Warr, Carey is converted.
  6. A young man’s faithful evangelism of his friend brought the firstfruits of India to Christ.

Work and Ministry

  1. Carey was helped greatly in Christian growth and preparation for ministry by three Baptist pastors named Thomas.
  2. At this time, British Baptists were being trained at the newly opened “Baptist Academy” which emphasized:
    • Hebrew and Greek
    • English
    • Logic (using Isaac Watts’ Logic)
    • Rhetoric (“teach them to express themselves with propriety upon whatever subject they discourse of…”)
    • Classic literature (“…those several branches of literature in general, which may be serviceable to them…”)
  3. Many men were trained personally through extended visits with godly pastors.
  4. 1781 June 10, 20-year old William took the 25-year old Dorothy.
  5. Dorothy appears to be an example of the average woman in gifting and temperament, neither Jezebel nor Mary Slessor.
  6. William taught his wife how to read and write.
  7. Though William worked and pastored, they were very poor. They “lived for a great while without tasting animal food and with but a scanty pittance of other provision.”
  8. 1782 In June, Carey is added as a “lay preacher” for the Reformed Baptists.
  9. Over the next 10 years, he often walked twelve miles to serve one church in Earls Barton and 22 miles to preach at Arnesby.
  10. When visiting his parents’ home, he asked to lead family worship and burned his playing cards.
  11. 1783 Their first daughter Ann died as well as Dorothy’s sister’s husband.
  12. The Carey’s then took in Dorothy’s sister and her four children.
  13. 1787 After five years of informal preaching, Carey is ordained.
  14. The Great Baptist, Bejamin Beddome, had preached at the same church for nearly 50 years when he sought Carey as his successor.
  15. As a faithful pastor, Carey baptized his wife in October.
  16. He disciplined a lady in the church twice for “tattling;” a man in the church for asking for handouts; and a deacon for unkindness to the poor.
  17. As a pastor, he often studied his books while working. Thus, he taught himself Hebrew having already begun on Latin and Greek earlier. 
  18. 1788 Around this time, at a pastor’s meeting, Carey was asked by an elder pastor to present a topic for discussion.
  19. Carey: “Whether the command given to the apostles to teach all nations was not binding on all succeeding ministers to the end of the world, seeing that the accompanying promise was of equal extent.”
  20. John Ryland, “Young man, sit down, sit down! You’re an enthusiast. When God pleases to convert the heathen, He’ll do it without consulting you or me.”
  21. Carey made a globe and a map drawing countries and any information he could find about particular countries.
  22. John Eliot (1604-1690) and David Brainerd (1718-1747) along with the Apostle Paul were his heroes.
  23. Though the pastors at the association showed little interest, he went to them individually and tried to build support.
  24. All Carey’s life he was a “tentmaker.”
  25. 1792 Death strikes for the second time in 10 years as his second daughter Lucy dies.

The Enquiry

  1. When he was not desperately working for his living, he was compiling information for a book.
  2. 87 pages of information about the world and the Christian’s responsibility.
  3. An Enquiry into the Obligation of Christians to use Means for the Conversion of the Heathen
  4. Section 1: Do our Lord’s final words apply to us all still today? He answers objections as well.
  5. Section 2: A history of missionary efforts for 1750 years.
  6. Section 3: A survey of the whole world with 23 pages of statistics and tables before the internet or even easy access to libraries.
  7. Section 4: Five difficulties to reach the heathen. “(1) Their distance from us, (2) their barbarous and savage manner of living, (3) the danger of being killed by them, (4) the difficulties of procuring the necessaries of life, and (5) the unintelligibleness of their languages.”
  8. Section 5: Practical ways to do this work.
  9. Those with more should give a large percentage of their money; those with average income should give 10% to missions; those who were poor should give “one penny or more per week according to their circumstances.”
  10. “If we Christians loved men as merchants love money, no fierceness of peoples would keep us from their midst.”
  11. He read this to the Baptists who were teachable to his cause.

Founding the Society

  1. 1792 May 31 “The Deathless Sermon” Isaiah 54:2-3
  2. Who can remember any lines from the sermons of Luther, Calvin, Whitefield, or Spurgeon?
  3. But an uneducated, impoverished pastor spoke words that remain with us all, “Expect great things from God; Attempt great things for God.”
  4. In this single stroke, he blends faith in God and manly ambition.
  5. After the sermon, he gripped Andrew Fuller’s arm and asked, “Is there nothing to be done?”
  6. 1792 October 2, A few months later, the Baptist Society for foreign missions was formed with 13 pastors and a promised amount of money at less than R14,000 per year.
  7. Carey had no money to donate to the Society, so he gave all the proceeds of his book.
  8. Andrew Fuller served Carey for 22 years until his death. He tirelessly raised funds and visited on behalf of missions.
  9. 1793 Carey in a letter to his father “I hope, dear father, you may be enabled to surrender me up to the Lord for the most arduous, honourable, and important work that ever any of the sons of men were called to engage in. I have many sacrifices to make, I must part with a beloved family and a number of most affectionate friends. … But I have set my hand to the plough.”
  10. He planned to move to India for two years with Felix (aged 8) and then return for Dolly and the other children.
  11. 1793 They needed about £550 (About R550,000 in 2019) in order to move the Careys and the John Thomas family to India.
  12. At Bath, the churches gave 1 penny. After it was announced that this would be recorded in the book, the people gave £22 (R22,000).


  1. 1793 In January Carey told his wife that they were to move to India by April.
  2. At nearly 8 months pregnant, with 3 young boys, having already buried her first two daughters, with war between France and Britain affecting the ocean, and with a very small salary, she refused to go.
  3. William and Dorothy loved each other deeply, but Carey was torn by his great sense of duty to missions.
  4. After Carey, Felix, and Thomas were delayed about 7 weeks, they returned and convinced Dorothy to go with them if her sister Katherine came as well.
  5. Katherine made up her mind in a few minutes to move with them to India.
  6. The two women packed the entire family in 24 hours.
  7. Now three adults and five children needed passage for £700!
  8. They sailed five months from 13 June to 7 November in 1793.
  9. While on ship, the 5’4” (1.6 m) Carey flung his wig into the sea.
  10. As they neared the Indian shore for the first time, Carey wrote back to the Home Three:

“I hope you will go on and increase, and that multitudes may hear the glorious words of Truth. Africa is but a little way from England; Madagascar but a little further; South America and all the many and large islands in the Indian and Chinese seas will, I hope, not be forgotten. A large field opens on every side, and millions tormented by ignorance, superstition, and idolatry, plead with every heart that loves God.”

  1. They arrived with no passports, no friends, and no house.

Tentmaking at Mudnabatty

  1. Sir William Hunter writes about India, “The country was practically untouched by any regenerative influence whatever. He had to encounter in its worst forms all the strength of the Hindu system.”
  2. 330 million gods (Ward), hook swinging, suttee, and castes…
  3. They rented rooms while they were looking for the best permanent place to start a business.
  4. All the while Carey knew that the British government threatened to imprison anyone in India without the proper papers.
  5. Then Dorothy and her two eldest children fell sick with dysentery lasting for 8 months.
  6. Worst of all, when Carey found a place to live in the interior, he found that Thomas wasted their entire annual salary in 10 weeks.
  7. Journal Jan. 16, 1794: “I am much dejected… I am in a strange land, alone, no Christian friends, a large family, and nothing to supply their wants. I blame Mr. Thomas for leading me into such expense at first, and I blame myself for being led.”
  8. From February until June they travel twice by boat looking for a place to live and work.
  9. The river journeys blazed with heat over 40˚ with crocodiles near them and tigers, rhinoceros, pythons, and cobras hidden on shore.
  10. Carey wrote in his journal: “Traveling with a family is a great hindrance to holy, spiritual meditation.”
  11. 1794 For two years he worked as the manager of an indigo factory.
  12. Since his new position offered a salary, he immediately wrote home asking them to designate his support for the next missionary.
  13. 1794 Five year old Peter dies from dysentery. He is buried the same day with only his parents in attendance.
  14. On the Lord’s Day, he commonly walked 20 miles and preached three times usually in the open air.
  15. Though short and bald and still learning Bengali, he sang to attract attention and then preached socratically.
  16. 1795 “Never was a people more willing to hear yet more slow to understand.”
  17. 1795 Dorothy at 38 had another bout with dysentery which, added to all she had endured, overcame her mind with a permanent fear and darkness.
  18. He waited 17 months before hearing from his friends at home.
  19. 1796 A man Carey thought was near to Christ having been with them from the beginning, revealed a life of ongoing sin.
  20. 1797 Carey completes the NT into Bengali.
  21. 1799 After completing five years as the manager of an indigo factory, five more missionaries arrived!
  22. They still have no converts.


  1. The British government made constant difficulties and refused the missionaries permission.
  2. The Danish government urged them to live on their tiny settlement at Serampore about 25 k’s from Calcutta.
  3. 1800 January 10, six years and two months after arrival, Carey and the new missionaries landed at the Danish settlement of Serampore.
  4. One of the new missionaries, William Grant, had died 20 days after landing in India leaving a wife and two children.
  5. At 39 Carey’s real work begins now with the addition of William Ward (30) and Joshua Marshman (31).
  6. Neither Carey nor Marshman had a formal education, but both borrowed and read books.
  7. About these two men Carey wrote, “Brother Ward is a the very man we wanted, he enters into the work with his whole soul. I have much pleasure in him, and expect much from him. Brother Marshman is prodigy of diligence and prudence, as is also his wife: learning the language is mere play to him…”
  8. They purchased a large house on the river where all 10 adults and 9 children could stay together.
  9. Each Saturday night they had a meeting to resolve differences and maintain Christian unity.
  10. Everything in the house was decided by majority vote since Carey would take no preeminence (Luke 22:26; 1 Pet. 5:5).
  11. Carey took to the task of translation; Ward was a printer by trade; Marshman and his wife began English and Bengali schools.
  12. Carey was “thankful beyond words” for Hannah Marshman who was both spiritually mature and gifted.
  13. Carey regularly preached 5 times per week both inside and out on Friday and the Lord’s Day.
  14. At 15, Felix began street preaching as well.
  15. Once upon seeing an idol he asked, “Did that make men, or did men make that?” He commonly used wit and satire in evangelism.
  16. Within the first year at Serampore, two new missionaries died.

First Convert

  1. 1800 Carey had been in India for 7 years, when he met a carpenter who dislocated his shoulder, Krishna Pal.
  2. Carey, and Marshman tied him to a tree and held him while Thomas forced the bone back in place.
  3. In pain, Thomas gave him a paraphrase of Pro. 28:13 that the mission used.

“Sin confessing, sin forsaking;

Christ’s righteousness embracing;

The soul is free.”

  1. Thomas had waited 15 years to see a convert.
  2. 1800 December 22 Krishna broke caste and the idolatry that invented that system by eating with the missionaries.
  3. The streets filled with 2,000 people who rioted at even a crack in their false religion.
  4. A soldier was placed in front of Krishna’s house, and six days later he was baptized along with sixteen-year old Felix Carey.
  5. The same day of the baptism the Lord’s Table was held for the first time ever in Bengali.
  6. And yet the reality of demons cannot be doubted for that same week, Dr. Thomas, Carey’s first companion fell into a fit of madness.
  7. As Carey baptized Krishna and Felix both Thomas and Dorothy were in the house nearby locked in their rooms.
  8. Over the next 2 years a dozen others came to Christ so that within 10 years of arriving in India, the first Bengali church had 13 members.
  9. All of Krishna’s family was converted including his 13 year old daughter, Golok.
  10. She was however, legally betrothed to an older Hindu man who came to take her.
  11. Against her will and her father’s she was taken, and he was beaten.
  12. Though a man of fiery temper, Krishna evidenced a new heart as well as his daughter who eventually was baptized
  13. That church cost thousands of pounds (millions of Rands), the deaths of Peter Carey and three missionaries as well as the sanity of two more.
  14. Some of the new converts even began preaching in the streets undeterred even by an angry mob that once beat them.
  15. One new Christian had dung thrown at him.
  16. The seed was planted in Krishna Pal about 10 years earlier by the Moravian missionaries who never personally saw a convert.

Full missionary years

  1. 1801 The last page of the Bengali NT came off the presses.
  2. 1801 Carey was hired to teach Bengali and Sanskrit at a British college.
  3. The government post paid so well that he did not take a salary again from the mission in London, but gave all his income back to the mission.
  4. Teaching at the school allowed him to master the languages so well that he could edit his first Bengali translation.
  5. The Bengali church continued to grow even though nearly all of its members experienced persecution, backsliding, church discipline, and restoration through the years.
  6. 1805 Felix joined the missionary staff.
  7. Marshman earned R1 million per year through the school, but only kept R34,000 for his family.
  8. Carey earned R150,000 per year, but he only kept R40,000.
  9. Ward gave away everything over R24,000.
  10. The rest of their money was given back to the mission as were all the buildings including a large house, printing rooms, and schools.
  11. The salaries these men earned were also used to support other missionaries.
  12. 1806 The requirements for new missionaries:
  13. A competent knowledge of the languages
  14. A mild and winning temper
  15. A heart given up to God
  16. 1806 At 45 years old, an average day for Carey looked like this.
  17. 5:45 am Read a chapter from the Hebrew Bible and pray
  18. 7:00 am Family worship in Bengali with all missionaries and workers
  19. 7:30 Review Persian, then Hindustani with language helpers
  20. 8:00 breakfast
  21. 8:30 Translate the Ramayana from Sanskrit to English.
  22. 10:00 Teach at the college
  23. 2:00 Proofread Bengali translation of Jeremiah
  24. 5:00 dinner
  25. 5:30 Translate Matthew 8 into Sanskrit
  26. 6:00 Study Telugu with a language helper
  27. 7:30 preach in English to the British government officials and merchants.
  28. 9:00 Translate Ezekiel 11 into Bengali
  29. 10:30 Wrote a letter to a friend
  30. 11:00 Read a chapter from the Greek NT before sleep.
  31. He wrote to John Ryland back in England, “I can scarcely call an hour my own in a week. I, however, rejoice in my work and delight in it.”
  32. After 15 years in India, Carey reported that some part of the Scripture was now in 12 new languages.
  33. Doubters in England attacked the missionaries.
  34. Carey replied: “Few people know what may be done till they try, and persevere in what they undertake.”
  35. Bengali being the most common language, Carey finished the NT in 1796, and then revised it eight more times before his death.
  36. 1809 A magazine defended the Serampore Trio in England:

“These [men] have translated the whole Bible into Bengali

[and in 12 other languages]

. Extraordinary as this is it will appear more so when it is remembered that of these men one was originally a shoe-maker, another a printer in Hull, and a third the master of a charity school in Bristol.”

  1. 1807 Dorothy dies after 12 years of growing madness.
  2. 1808 Carey remarried the Dutch Charlotte Rumohr after teaching her English.

The Fire

  1. 1812 The year opened with a missionary wife dying and then two missionary children laid in graves.
  2. March 11 William Ward was finishing the day in his office at the printing rooms when he smelled smoke.
  3. Rushing into the paper room, he ordered all doors and windows closed so that no fresh oxygen would feed the fire.
  4. By cutting away a section of the roof, a great crowd of missionaries, friends, workers, and neighbors brought vessels from the river to extinguish the fire.
  5. After four hours of work they had nearly contained the fire, when someone opened a window at the bottom floor.
  6. The fire instantly leaped back into action and spread to the “composing room” where all the manuscripts and font types were housed.
  7. Though they struggled throughout the night, eventually the entire building collapsed.
  8. £10,000 or R10,000,000 was lost and years of translation work.
  9. Carey wrote to Fuller, “The loss is heavy, but as the traveling a road the second time, however painful it may be, is usually done with greater ease and certainty than when we traveled it for the first time, so I trust the work will lose nothing in real value.”
  10. Many manuscripts were lost including Carey’s Sanskrit dictionary, the Kanarese NT, and grammars in Telugu and Punjabi.
  11. A decade’s work lost in a night.
  12. Ward, the printer, was optimistic however, when he found the metal types and fonts saved for nearly a score of different languages.
  13. Carey took the opportunity to examine his own pride, “I had lately brought some things to the utmost perfection I could, and contemplated the mission with, perhaps, too much self-congratulation.”
  14. The newspapers wrote about the missionaries that they only grew stronger through hardships.
  15. News of the fire spread like fire itself through Britain until Fuller was afraid of pride.
  16. “If we inhale this incense, will not God withhold His blessing, and then where are we? Ought we not to tremble? Surely, all need more grace to go through good report than through evil.” A. Fuller

His sons

  1. In light of the fire, they looked at their blessings:
  2. In their 19th years, they now had 11 churches with 30 members on average.
  3. They had an English church that was zealous for evangelism.
  4. Three of Carey’s sons gave themselves to missionary service and the fourth supported the mission.
  5. Jabez was outside of Christ until God answered prayers from the believers in England.
  6. Here are some excerpts of Carey writing to Jabez, the boy born 20 years earlier just weeks before they left for India.

My dear Jabez,

You are engaging in a most important undertaking, in which you will have not only my prayers for your success, but those of all who love our Lord Jesus, and who know of your engagement. …

Trust always in Christ. Be pure of heart. Live a life of prayer and of devotedness to God. Be gentle and unassuming, yet firm and manly. …

Esteem [your new wife of 20 years old] highly that she may highly esteem you.

Seek not the society of worldly men…

Shun all indolence and love of ease…

Labour incessantly to become a perfect master of Malay. …

You must never expect them to pay much attention to what you say, unless you win their love. The more attention you pay them, the more will they pay you. …

[God] has conferred on you a great favour in committing to you this ministry. …

Should I never see you on earth, I trust we shall meet with joy before His throne.

Your very, very affectionate father, W. Carey

  1. Carey once wrote, “I would rather hear of Felix losing his life in the cause of the Gospel than see him quit his station.”
  2. 1814 Felix with his wife and two babies were traveling from Rangoon in Burma when the ship overturned.
  3. He held up his wife and baby until he sank and was saved by sailors.
  4. His wife, both babies, the printing press, the first Scriptures in Burmese, and the dictionary in the manuscript of the Burmese dictionary were lost.

Problems with missionaries

  1. After 20 years of service in India with hundreds of baptized Indians and mission stations slowly growing, the Trio endured 16 years of attacks from fellow Christians.
  2. Carey had earlier allowed every missionary to have an equal voice, but now men who just arrived expected the same authority as the men who had great experience.
  3. The younger men wrote unhappy letters back to the home committee.
  4. They especially complained about Marshman.
  5. Carey wrote: “His labors are excessive, his body scarcely susceptible of fatigue, his religious feelings strong, his jealousy for God great, his regard for the feelings of others very little, when the cause of God is in question. … in short, his diligence reproaches the indolence of some; his acquirements reproach their ignorance, and his unaccommodating mind not infrequently excites sentiments of resentment and dislike.”
  6. But Carey loved him deeply, “For my own part I consider him as a man whose value to the mission can scarcely be sufficiently appreciated, and whose death would be a most severe loss.”
  7. Some in England even complained that they were becoming rich. Carey wrote to them:

“Were I to die today, I should not leave property enough for the purchase of a coffin, and my wife would be entirely unprovided for. We are coarsely clad, and certainly not overfed, and, I believe, he who possesses the most among us has not so much as he contributes to the public stock in four months.”

  1. The Trio gave £100,000 to the mission.
  2. They did the lion’s share of the preaching, teaching, evangelism, and translation.
  3. They had lived the longest in India and spoke most fluently.
  4. They had lost loved ones.
  5. Nevertheless, the committee sided with the younger men and sent letters demanding information as if Carey and his friends were untrustworthy.
  6. 1827 Eventually Joshua Marshman returned to England, but the Mission demanded a separation.
  7. 1830 So it was that William Carey was removed from the Mission board he founded after 35 years.
  8. If he could revisit that time, he said he would “scrupulously abstain from offering any reply… and would inform his opponents that they had his full permission to say whatever it would afford them pleasure… concerning him, provided that they did not encroach on his invaluable time.”
  9. “The greatest trial of a missionary is often another missionary.” Forbes Jackson
  10. These tensions came over a decade interspersed with deaths.
  11. 1821 His second wife Charlotte died and he wrote, “My loss is irreparable. … I am exceedingly lonely.”
  12. 1822 Krishna Pal (56) and his first son Felix (37), baptized on the same day, were buried in the same year.
  13. 1823 Cholera caused Serampore to stagger as it claimed William Ward’s life (54).
  14. 1823 John Ryland the last of the Home Trio died and Carey was practically friendless in England during the last seven years of the fight with the mission.
  15. 1830 Before the schism with the mission was complete, the first of three major banks failed.
  16. 1833 At 72, Carey and the other missionaries lose all their retirement savings as two more banks fail.

Following wives, children, and friends

  1. 1829 Suttee is abolished in part because of Carey’s labors.
  2. 1833 About six months before he died, news reached Serampore that slavery had been abolished in England and the colonies.
  3. “For many years in his every prayer, he has been pleading for the destruction of slavery. … He proposed that for one month we should give special thanksgiving to God in all our meetings.”
  4. 1834 June 9 Carey passed away at sunrise.
  5. 35 different languages had some portion of the Bible and 6 of those languages now possessed the entire Bible.
  6. Over 600 converts had been baptized and 13 mission stations had been started.
  7. On his tombstone he requested the lines by Isaac Watts:

A wretched poor and helpless worm,

On Thy kind arms I fall.

Lessons learned

  1. The world cannot be evangelized without ambition.
  • In the face of opposition, without any funding, education, or family support, Carey started a society for missions.
  • “Expect great things from God; Attempt great things for God.”

2. Humility marks a godly man.

  • After six years in India he wrote, “Such another dead soul scarcely exists. My crime is spiritual stupidity. I have no love. O God, make me a true Christian.”
  • “[Carey] is most remarkable for his humility; he is a very superior man, and appears to know nothing about it.” E. Pritchett 248
  • On his death bed to Alexander Duff, “Mr. Duff, you have been speaking about Dr. Carey, Dr. Carey; when I am gone, say nothing about Dr. Carey—speak about Dr. Carey’s Saviour.”
  • During the years of opposition, he wrote very little in defense of himself.

3. When a culture is built on a religion that has no Christian light, depravity will display itself in the ways of the people.

  • Traditional institutions: Infanticide, hook swinging, suttee, caste system.
  • Habits of life: Lying, laziness
  • After seven years he wrote that Indians are not fierce, “but this is abundantly made up for by cunning and deceit. Moral rectitude makes up no part of their religious system.”
  • Deut. 18:9 When you enter the land which the Lord your God gives you, you shall not learn to imitate the detestable things of those nations.

3. Christianity begins with evangelism, but ends with an entirely Christian culture.

  • They preached and evangelized as their primary tasks.
  • But they also gave some time to correcting the greatest social evils.
  • Marshman ran a school, and the Trio opened a free College.
  • Carey first opposed suttee.
  • The Trio required every Indian to reject caste before baptism.
  • “…teaching them to observe all that I commanded you…”

4. Evangelism requires patience.

  • He waited seven years before the first convert, Krishna Pal.
  • But the Moravians had already evangelized for over a decade in that same area and preached to Krishna without seeing single convert.
  • They did see over 600 converts, but this was the combined work of more than 20 missionaries over 40 years.

5. Suffering, tears, and exhaustion are the natural price set on the task of missions.

  • Carey lost two wives, two sons, and numerous co-workers.
  • Carey and his wife waited a year and a half without even a letter.
  • Grant died before he even started.
  • Fountain died before he saw a convert.
  • Three banks failed taking all their savings.
  • Their new converts were constantly falling into sin.
  • John 12:24-25 Truly, truly, I say to you, unless a grain of wheat falls into the earth and dies, it remains alone; but if it dies, it bears much fruit. 25 He who loves his life loses it, and he who hates his life in this world will keep it to life eternal.
  • “Suffer hardness as a good soldier.”

6. Missions is a work of the whole church of God.

  • The senders in London did vital work for those who went to India—the Home Trio and the Serampore Trio.
  • The missionaries expected the new Indian believers to be involved immediately with the work of evangelism.
  • Christians in Britain raised money and the missionaries took jobs.

7. Hard work over a long period of time moves mountains.

  • “I can plod and persevere. That is my only genius.”
  • Some new missionaries did not like Marshman because of his work ethic.
  • Lam. 3:27 It is good for a man that he should bear The yoke in his youth.

8. Sin still remains in every Christian’s heart.

  • Carey did not treat Dorothy in a loving and gracious way when he first left England in 1793.
  • The new missionaries did not humble themselves and follow the wisdom of the Trio. 298, 341
  • The home board doubted and discouraged the missionaries from 1918 onward.
  • The Bible Society removed support from Serampore over the translation rather than the transliteration of “baptizo.”
  • Matt. 18:7 For it is inevitable that stumbling blocks come;
  • James 3:2 If anyone does not stumble in what he says, he is a perfect man, able to bridle the whole body as well.


  • From such a diamond, you may choose which facet to admire most.
  • From such a man, you may need a month or more to think of all the diverse ways that his life challenges you to love and serve the cause of our Lord Jesus Christ.
  • “Though he is dead, he still speaks.”
  • “Expect great things from God; Attempt great things for God.”
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A Theology of Work in 50 Scriptural Observations

  1. 1 God is the first worker.
  2. 1 God’s work requires mental activity and planning.
  3. 1 Completed work pleased God.
  4. 1 As a worker, God is detail-oriented.
  5. 1:28 Work came before sin.
  6. 1:28 Man is given authority and responsibility to control the world by discovering all of the secrets God placed in the earth.
  7. 1:28 Under God, man rules the world—the rest of creation is not equal to him.
  8. Genesis 2:15, 18 Farming is the first job given to man in the Bible.
  9. Genesis 2:15, 18 God wants man to understand and document every part of His Creation.
  10. 2:20 Women were given to men because the man’s work would require all his ability.
  11. 3:16-19 Work became difficult as a result of sin.
  12. 3:16-19 Men are expected to sweat as a reminder of the hardness brought into life by sin.
  13. 3:16-19 The essence of masculinity is summarized in this first statement of manhood as a responsibility to labor intensely.
  14. 20:9 God gave the Sabbath day of rest because He expected men to work 6 days per week.
  15. 4:6 Men with a work ethic (a wholehearted mindset to work) accomplish much.
  16. 6:6-10 Lazy people are fools; hard workers are wise.
  17. 6:6-10 God has programmed His amoral creation to be examples of work.
  18. 6:6-10 Planning is a part of hard work.
  19. 10:4; 12:11; 13:4; et. al. Hard work produces wealth; poverty comes from a bad work ethic.
  20. 22:29 Hard workers will eventually be recognized.
  21. 24:30-34 Laziness produces poverty and ugliness.
  22. 24:30-34 A lazy man’s house places his culture on display.
  23. 31:13-27 The model woman is known by her hard work.
  24. 31:15 The model woman gets up early in order to work.
  25. 5:18-19 Labor is the tool God has ordained to provide man with physical pleasures.
  26. 5:18-19 Men can take pleasure in the labor itself, in accomplishing hard tasks.
  27. 20:1-8 The work day in Jesus’ lifetime was assumed to be 12 hours.
  28. 25:14-30 Jesus sanctions work by comparing earthly work with the spiritual world in his parables. (See also Matt. 20:1-14 and 21:28-31)
  29. 25:14-30 Jesus sanctions business, trading, and making a profit in his parables and sermons.
  30. John 8:29 Jesus always worked to please His Father.
  31. John 9:4 A sense of urgency followed Jesus in His work.
  32. John 17:4 Jesus did not stop until the work was done.
  33. Acts 6:4 God recognizes mental activity as labor.
  34. Acts 28:3 Paul was humble enough to do menial, manual labor.
  35. 13:8 If I would owe nothing to any man, then my life must be marked by personal responsibility.
  36. 1 Cor. 7:24 Each man must honor God in the specific situation in which he has been placed.
  37. 1 Cor. 9:7-14 Work is valuable; it must be paid.
  38. 1 Cor. 9:7-14 Biblical pastoral ministry should be supported by Christians who have jobs.
  39. 4:28 Hard work is the opposite of stealing.
  40. 4:28 Christians should labor to be rich so that they can give generously.
  41. 4:28 If a man receives a benefit for which he is not willing to work, he is stealing.
  42. 6:4 Fathers have a responsibility to teach their children how to work.
  43. 3:22-24 The way Christians work for their earthly employer is an act of worship to God.
  44. 3:22-24 An employer has authority over an employee.
  45. 2 Thess. 3:10 Lazy people forfeit their right to eat.
  46. 2 Thess. 3:10-14 Laziness is a sin that may deserve church discipline.
  47. 1 Tim. 5:17 Pastors are expected to work hard mentally.
  48. 2:5 Women are told to be “keepers at home” which necessarily means that men will be workers.
  49. 2 Pet. 1:10 Individuals must take personal responsibility in their individual callings to gain certainty that they have been elected.
  50. 22:3 Work is such a good thing, it will go on for all eternity as one more method of glorifying God.

If we wanted to cluster all these truths into one term, it would be the Protestant work ethic which has been responsible for the vast wealth of America and other countries heavily influenced by Christianity. (See Max Weber’s The Protestant Ethic and the Spirit of Capitalism, originally 1906.) Elton Trueblood wrote, “Not many areas of human behavior have been more radically affected by the Christian gospel than that of daily toil. Wherever the gospel has been truly influential the concept of the dignity of work has emerged.” Pagan religions either enshrine laziness as a cultural virtue or they borrow from the glory properly belonging only to Christianity.

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