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The World the Missionaries Made

After reading CT's cover story, I realized I was standing on the shoulders of giants. My parents were missionaries in Tanzania, where they preached, built churches, and provided medical care. There were no believers when they arrived; when they retired, there were scores of thriving churches.

Today I lead the world's largest Protestant association of Christian schools. We are humbled and overwhelmed by the passion of today's pioneers as they disciple the next generation of indigenous leaders. In the Democratic Republic of Congo, Bishop Marini Bodo is one striking example. As a Protestant leader who oversees nearly 20,000 Christian schools under his umbrella organization, he was educated in a school run by missionaries more than 65 years ago.

Daniel Egeler
President, Association of Christian Schools International
Colorado Springs

As a former missionary to the Democratic Republic of Congo, I found the article tremendously encouraging. One clarification: Page 38 shows a map where the Republic of Congo (formerly French Congo) rather than the Democratic Republic of Congo, is highlighted as the sphere of activity of Alice Seeley Harris. Both countries are called "Congo," but it was supposed to illustrate that although abuses occurred in both, Protestant missionaries were only allowed in the Belgian Congo.

Lilla Langford
Clifton, New Jersey

Now well into my 80th year, for the first time I have been feeling glad that I won't live much longer. I think this every time I learn about a colossal challenge against which I am able to do virtually nothing: a national debt now over $17 trillion, declining moral standards, and international misery and warfare that seem irresolvable.

Then I read your January/February issue, which included "Is the $17 Trillion Federal Debt Immoral?" "Why Kids' Stories Need a Dose of Darkness," "The World the Missionaries Made," "Why We're Losing the War on Poverty," "Through Many Dangers, Toils, and Snares," and "To the Ends of the Earth." Yes, things are bad, but yes, there is hope. Thank you, Christianity Today, for hope.

Robert C. Hull
Westlake, Ohio

Open Question: Is the $17 Trillion Federal Debt Immoral?

Much of the $17 trillion U.S. federal debt is indeed immoral, but not necessarily for the reasons provided by the authors in Open Question. Perhaps the best explanation is by the late economist James M. Buchanan.

In a democracy, politicians generate spending programs that benefit their constituents while leaving part of the bill to future generations. As a result, the cost-benefit analysis of public goods becomes distorted, and government spending is greater than it would be if the government were required to balance its books. We have lived as many as 71 years with a federal budget deficit (73 years if we don't count the Social Security surplus).

The burden to repay all this government debt rests with tomorrow's taxpayers. This is immoral because future generations end up facing a financial obligation that is the result of spending and borrowing decisions in which they had no participation, whether directly or through elected representatives.

Jerry H. Tempelman, CFA
New York City

Who Owns the Sermons?

We were gravely disappointed by "Who Owns the Pastor's Sermon?" by Bob Smietana. Having advised hundreds of pastors and churches on this question for over 35 years, we believe this is an important matter. Unfortunately, we think the article does more harm than good, particularly in the "What's a Pastor to Do?" section. Smietana says, "When it comes to intellectual property rights, pastors and churches have three basic options." This statement isn't true or helpful. The options he outlines are not really options at all.

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First, pastors were told they "can set up a separate nonprofit ministry, which holds the copyright to [their] sermons." This option doesn't enable a pastor to own his intellectual property. The ministry would own it and would be subject to the exact same private inurement restrictions that apply to a church.

Second, pastors were told they can do "all [their] writing . . . on personal time, using [their] own computer and software." But when is a pastor's personal time? Many if not most pastors are "on call" around the clock.

Finally, pastors "can assign all [their] rights to the church." Pastor Mike Glenn is quoted as saying, "At some time, the church might decide to give me the rights." Under the law, Glenn will only be able to obtain the rights to what he created if he pays the church fair market value for those rights. A "gift" of those rights to him from the church would be private inurement.

We are concerned about the legal advice that pastors will take from this article. We'd highly encourage pastors to focus on its last three paragraphs, which discuss a real solution that has proven successful for numerous pastors and churches over the past three decades.

Sealy, Matt, and Curtis Yates
Yates & Yates
Orange, California

Spicing Up the Trinity

Congregationalists consider themselves a noncredal association. However, in our local church, we recite a creed each Sunday, as a reminder of what the church has identified as the boundaries of orthodoxy. We say the Nicene Creed once a month, but we recite what we call the "ecumenical version": we leave out "and the Son."

We see no need to prolong the Great Schism, not only because our pianist is Russian Orthodox, but also because we consider ourselves to be in fellowship with every true church regardless of denomination. We do not want to put a stumbling block in the way of Christian unity. Why include words that are not needed and that only serve to offend half the Christian world?

Bob Hellam
Pastor, Church of the Oaks
Del Rey Oaks, California

I was pleased to see that the Global Gospel Project is looking at the doctrine of the Holy Spirit this year. CT might do well to begin by identifying the Holy Spirit rightly. A sentence in the explanatory paragraph reads, "Recently the Holy Spirit—specifically its [sic] role inspiring the expressive, charismatic spiritual gifts. . . ." If I recall my elementary school grammar correctly, it is an impersonal pronoun and thus totally inappropriate for the Holy Spirit.

Gary Higbee
Kirkland, Washington

Editor's Note: We inadvertently called the Holy Spirit an it instead of the more traditional he—which rightly empha­sizes the personal nature of the Spirit. Our apologies for the confusion.

Through Many Dangers, Toils, and Snares

I enjoyed reading Gerald L. Sittser's review of Timothy Keller's new book, Walking with God through Pain and Suffering. Most people naturally pull away from pain and suffering. We don't understand this part of the world we live in. But even Jesus said there will be many tribulations in the world, but to be of good cheer, for he has overcome the world.

I plan on purchasing this book, not because of impending doom in my life, but because I desire to continue to learn about my Savior, who also suffered in this world but overcame it.

Beth Hopper
Glendive, Montana

Net Gain

Responses from the Web.

"When it comes to energy, imperfect is not the same as immoral."
L. Kenna @LKenna2
"Fracking Isn't a Four-Letter Word," by Chris Horst.

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"I wept reading this. Then I got angry for my wife, daughters, sisters, and women. Now I'm praying for guidance."
Thabiti Anyabwile @ThabitiAnyabwil
"How I Beat Back the Darkness after Rape," by Halee Gray Scott.

"Even as a person who connects with God far better through quiet alone time, I understand the huge importance of being a part of a church family. I can feel the difference in how I handle situations when I have been attending church regularly."
Mel Evans, CT online comment.
The Exchange: "Should I Stay or Should I Go Now?" by Ed Stetzer.

"If you wonder how a Molinist thinks about providence and football, @CTmagazine has us covered!"
Justin Taylor @between2worlds
"William Lane Craig: God Hears Your Super Bowl Prayers," interview by Kate Shellnutt.

"Nabeel Qureshi is the real deal. His absolute passion and love for the lost and his discipline in studying and understanding the Scriptures compelled me to reexamine my own walk. He is engaging, humble, and incredibly intelligent. I encourage anyone to attend his speaking engagements and to support his efforts in reaching Muslims with the truth."
Mark Snyder, CT online comment.
"Called Off the Minaret," by Nabeel Qureshi.

"It looks like @ct_movies' review of I, Frankenstein is more entertaining than the actual thing."
Biola CCCA @BiolaCCCA
"I, Frankenstein," by Timothy Wainwright.

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