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Archive for March 2012

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  The funeral service for Rev. Gilbert Rowell will be held Wednesday, April 4, 2012, at 2 p.m. at Clover ARP Church in Clover, SC. Directions: Clover ARP Church 127 Kings Mountain St, Clover SC 29710   Rev. Barry Eller and Rev. Evan English will preside over the service. The Rowells will greet friends after…

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Should We Still Believe in a Historical Adam?


 

by Bryan D. Estelle

My thesis is simple: by questioning the historicity of Adam, one must revise the doctrine of original sin with serious modifications. Even recent purveyors of theistic evolution, who question the historicity of Adam, recognize this to be the case.(1)  

In fact, one Christian scholar goes so far as to say, “Once the doctrine of original sin is reformulated, the doctrine of the atonement may likewise be deepened.”(2)

Such serious modifications will carry entailments for other areas of theology as well. Here I want to take up the question of history and Old Testament exegesis.

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Erskine Alumni Association Newsletter — April, 2012


Dear Alumni,

Spring is breaking out all over Due West with fresh colors and new beginnings.  Alumni Weekend with our annual Association meeting will be coming up Saturday, April 28.  This event signals new beginnings as well.

To kick off our meeting, Erskine’s 15th president, Dr. David Norman, will be sharing with our Association how he has quickly come to love Erskine.   We will also be electing six new Alumni Board Directors and giving consideration to a revision of the Association’s Constitution and Bylaws.

There are many reasons for you to plan now to come to Due West April 27-28 for Alumni Weekend.  Come see how beautiful the campus looks, come hear how Dr. Norman has fallen in love with Erskine, come make your mark on our Association’s future, and come spend a day with friends.   You’ll be glad you came.  You’ll see how a new generation is flourishing and return home with refreshed memories of the academic village we know as Erskine.

With confidence in Erskine’s future,

Nan Campbell

President, Erskine Alumni Association


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Removing the Shroud of Unbelief


Curators of antiquity surmise that the Shroud of Turin is the body wrap mentioned in John 20.

Some people think that Joseph of Arimathaea saved it and that the sheet has survived to this day. The Shroud of Turin seems to go in and out of favor with the modern day scientist.

What do you believe? And does the Shroud help your faith or does it have no impact at all? What makes our faith grow and on what is our faith anchored?

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The Impossible Prayer in Gethsemane

by Brent McGuire They went to a place called Gethsemane, and Jesus said to his disciples, “Sit here while I pray.” He took Peter, James, and John along with him, and he began to be deeply distressed and troubled. Mark 14:32-33 The conventional account-at least the one this writer encounters most often-is that in Gethsemane…

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Did Jesus Really Descend into Hell? — John 20:24-31


Confessing that Jesus descended into Hell tells us what really happened in the darkness. It is the real story told from God’s perspective. Mel Gibson’s movie “The Passion of the Christ” tells the story from Man’s perspective, but Jesus descended further. Jesus descended into Hell.

We all learned this in grade school. The whole is greater than the sum of the parts. It’s like saying, “step back from the trees and see the forest.”

The Apostle’s Creed provides the visible pieces to the puzzle. Jesus was crucified, died and was buried.

Not step back and get the big picture from God’s perspective — Jesus Descended into Hell.

This sermon also explains John Calvin’s position

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People are Migrating to Larger Congregations from Smaller Churches


by Thom S. Rainer

One of the most significant trends in American churches the past 25 years has been the migration of people from smaller churches to larger churches. We will be providing more information in the future about this movement. The implications are significant and should not be ignored.

In my own denomination of some 46,000 churches and 16 million members, the concentration of people to larger churches is a clear and present reality. Look at some of these statistics that give evidence to this phenomenon.

Less than one-half of one percent of these churches report an average worship attendance of 2,000 or more, but 12.6% of the total attendance of the denomination is now concentrated in these relatively few churches.

Only 1.5% of all these churches have an attendance of 1,000 or more, but 22.2% of the total denominational attendance is in these congregations.

Only 4.4% of the churches have an attendance of 500 or more, but 35.3% of the attendance of 46,000 churches is concentrated in just those few churches.

We expect to see continued migration of people from smaller to larger churches, and that the concentration of these members in larger churches will be even more pronounced with each progressive year.

The first obvious question is “Why?”

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Spring 2012 Presbytery Highlights: First, Mississippi Valley, Northeast & Virginia

First Presbytery The spring meeting was held Feb. 16, 2012 Received Rev. Tom Irby from the Georgia Foothills Presbytery of the Presbyterian Church in America and approved his call to the Fuller Memorial Church, Durham. Approved Rev. Doug Petersen as the stated supply for the Westminster Church, Albemarle, NC. Received a report from the Trustees…

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Spring 2012 Presbytery Highlights: First, Mississippi Valley, Northeast & Virginia

First Presbytery The spring meeting was held Feb. 16, 2012 Received Rev. Tom Irby from the Georgia Foothills Presbytery of the Presbyterian Church in America and approved his call to the Fuller Memorial Church, Durham. Approved Rev. Doug Petersen as the stated supply for the Westminster Church, Albemarle, NC. Received a report from the Trustees…

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Judge Screams "Your God’s Wrong!" in Angry Tirade, then sends pro-life activist back to jail

by Tony Gosgnach TORONTO, Ontario, March 22, 2012 (LifeSiteNews.com) – An Ontario Court of Justice judge erupted in a lengthy, angry tirade against pro-life activist Mary Wagner – and ejected a spectator from the public gallery – in a downtown Toronto courtroom Wednesday. The judge then sent Wagner to jail for an additional 92 days,…

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"All Mankind, Descending from Adam" . . . Is It a Necessary WCF Doctrine?


by Richard B. Gaffin, Jr.

Every Christian who is truly submitted to the Bible’s authority needs to be alert to this recent development [i.e., that the descent of all human beings from Adam has been increasingly called into question by scientists, biblical scholars, and others who consider themselves evangelical or even Reformed Christians] and clear about the consequences of these doubts and denials. No matter how well intended, they undermine the gospel and will lead to its eventual loss. If it is not true that all human beings descend from Adam, then the entire history of redemption, as taught in Scripture, unravels. The result is no redemptive history in any credible or coherent sense, and so the loss of redemptive history in any meaningful sense.

The title above, as many readers will recognize, is from answer 16 of the Westminster Shorter Catechism (and Larger Catechism 22). It expresses a central truth of Scripture and reflects the universal confession of the church about Adam.

Why then the added question mark? Not because non-Christians widely reject this truth, as they have for a long time, but because more recently it has been increasingly called into question by scientists, biblical scholars, and others who consider themselves evangelical or even Reformed Christians. Moreover, they are persuaded that their doubts about this truth should be accepted as compatible with their Christian commitment.

Every Christian who is truly submitted to the Bible’s authority needs to be alert to this recent development and clear about the consequences of these doubts and denials. No matter how well intended, they undermine the gospel and will lead to its eventual loss.

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"All Mankind, Descending from Adam" . . . Is It a Necessary WCF Doctrine?


by Richard B. Gaffin, Jr.

Every Christian who is truly submitted to the Bible’s authority needs to be alert to this recent development [i.e., that the descent of all human beings from Adam has been increasingly called into question by scientists, biblical scholars, and others who consider themselves evangelical or even Reformed Christians] and clear about the consequences of these doubts and denials. No matter how well intended, they undermine the gospel and will lead to its eventual loss. If it is not true that all human beings descend from Adam, then the entire history of redemption, as taught in Scripture, unravels. The result is no redemptive history in any credible or coherent sense, and so the loss of redemptive history in any meaningful sense.

The title above, as many readers will recognize, is from answer 16 of the Westminster Shorter Catechism (and Larger Catechism 22). It expresses a central truth of Scripture and reflects the universal confession of the church about Adam.

Why then the added question mark? Not because non-Christians widely reject this truth, as they have for a long time, but because more recently it has been increasingly called into question by scientists, biblical scholars, and others who consider themselves evangelical or even Reformed Christians. Moreover, they are persuaded that their doubts about this truth should be accepted as compatible with their Christian commitment.

Every Christian who is truly submitted to the Bible’s authority needs to be alert to this recent development and clear about the consequences of these doubts and denials. No matter how well intended, they undermine the gospel and will lead to its eventual loss.

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Killing the Clergy Softly: Congregational Conflict, Job Loss and Depression


By David Briggs

They are called “clergy killers” — congregations where a small group of members are so disruptive that no pastor is able to maintain spiritual leadership for long.

And yet ministers often endure the stresses of these dysfunctional relationships for months, or even years, before eventually being forced out or giving up.

Adding to the strain is the process, which is often shrouded in secrecy. No one – from denominational officials to church members to the clerics themselves – want to acknowledge the failure of a relationship designed to be a sign to the world of mutual love and support.

But new research is providing insights into just how widespread – and damaging – these forced terminations can be to clergy.

An online study published in the March issue of the Review of Religious Research found 28 percent of ministers said they had at one time been forced to leave their jobs due to personal attacks and criticism from a small faction of their congregations.

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Forget the Money, Follow the Sacredness

By JONATHAN HAIDT In the film version of “All the President’s Men,” when Robert Redford, playing the journalist Bob Woodward, is struggling to unravel the Watergate conspiracy, an anonymous source advises him to “follow the money.” It’s a good rule of thumb for understanding the behavior of politicians. But following the money leads you astray…

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Christ Community Church — Prayer Letter March


Thank you so much for your ongoing prayers for Christ Community Church.  Your prayers continue to bless us.

We felt them during our busy Christmas season.  This year Christ Community Church held our first ever Christmas Eve service.  The highlight was the Children’s Christmas Pageant which included over 25 kids.  God could have touched the heart of any Scrooge with the joy and excitement of each participant.  There is nothing sweeter than hearing kids tell the Christmas story and sing carols!

Since early January the messages on Sunday mornings have focused upon helping our congregation develop a deeper and richer understanding of the local church.  The sermon series, titled “Jesus is Building His Church”, reminds us that God’s primary means of building His Kingdom are the local church loving one another deeply and sharing this love of Christ with those they meet.  Daily I meet people who have a deep need for God in their lives.

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Presbytery Highlights Second & Catawba

Presbytery News by arpmagazine Catawba Presbytery Highlights From the meeting of Catawba Presbytery at the Centennial Church, Columbia, SC on March 13, 2012:  Heard a message from Andrew K. Putnam, Moderator of Synod and member of Catawba Presbytery. Approved a new mission work in Rock Hill, SC to begin on April 1, 2012 and to be called…

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Presbytery Highlights Second & Catawba

Presbytery News by arpmagazine Catawba Presbytery Highlights From the meeting of Catawba Presbytery at the Centennial Church, Columbia, SC on March 13, 2012:  Heard a message from Andrew K. Putnam, Moderator of Synod and member of Catawba Presbytery. Approved a new mission work in Rock Hill, SC to begin on April 1, 2012 and to be called…

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Gastons in Wales — Jodie & Tina

It’s Official…We’re going to Wales We are pleased to announce that last week we were offered and accepted an appointment to become missionaries in Wales with Greater Europe Mission.  We are extrememly excited about what God is doing in Wales (and in many other parts of Europe as well).  We know that a lot of…

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Gastons in Wales — Jodie & Tina

It’s Official…We’re going to Wales We are pleased to announce that last week we were offered and accepted an appointment to become missionaries in Wales with Greater Europe Mission.  We are extrememly excited about what God is doing in Wales (and in many other parts of Europe as well).  We know that a lot of…

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The Six Day Creation Debate Just Heating Up in the PCA


The Progression of the PCA Creation Debate — Told with 6 Recent News Stories

What Does The Westminster Confession Mean By ‘In The Space of Six Days’by R. C. Sproul

“…In the beginning, to create, or make of nothing, the world, and all things therein whether visible or invisible, in the space of six days; and all very good.” (WCF IV=1)

In the Genesis account of creation, we read; “So the evening and the morning were the first day” (Gen. 1:5). This narrative proceeds from the first day to the sixth, each time referring to “the evening and the morning” and numbering the day. On the seventh day, God rested (Gen. 2:2).

In our time a considerable number of theories have arisen denying that the creation, as we know it, took place in twenty-four hour days. Common to these theories is the acceptance of the dominant scientific view that the earth and life on it are very old. Many consider the biblical account to be primitive, mythological, and untenable in light of modern scientific knowledge.

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Appalachia Mission Trip for 2012 June 30 July 6


Once again this year Christian Education Ministries will be sponsoring an opportunity for evangelistic outreach in the tri-state area known as Appalachia. This mission trip is one of the highlights of our summer offerings. It gives young people and adults an excellent opportunity to do something more than hear about their faith, they can share it with others. It is a great experience for a youth group to grow spiritually.

ARP groups served 21 local sites last year with over 400 youth and adults from 40 churches. Each night the entire group gathered together to worship study the Word, pray and encourage one another in the Lord’s work.

All the information to register and participate as a group is included in the enclosed packet. Call the office of Christian Education Ministries if you have any questions.

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Why Women’s Ministries — by First Presbyterial ARP Women's Ministries website

Visit the First Presbyterian Women’s Ministries Website Why do we have Women’s Ministries? This applies at the local church level, Presbyterial, and Women’s Ministries (formerly Synodical). Vision: ARP Women’s Ministries is an organization which encourages and equips the community of ARP women to work together for God’s glory and purpose. Purposes: Encourage every woman to…

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The ARP has a Wikipedia Page — Might need some help with content

Visit the ARP Church Wikipedia Page The Associate Reformed Presbyterian Church as it exists today is the remnant of a small denomination, which was formed from the Synod of the South, a division of the Associate Reformed Church. The original Associate Reformed Church resulted from a merger of the Associate Presbytery (from the Seceder tradition of the 18th century)…

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Erskine Spring Break Widow's Service Ministry Project


Visit the Erskine RUF website

A dozen students, a dozen widows?

12 Erskine students spent the week of Spring Break ministering to about 12 widows in the Honea Path, SC area doing various yard and house cleaning projects. The week of ministry included having conversation and prayer with the widows in their homes and beginning to build relationships with them that can continue to grow over the course of time.

Campus Ministry at Erskine has partnered with Widow’s Watchman Ministries (Bill and Janae May) of Honea Path, SC to incorporate college students into ministry-service opportunities that attempt to fulfill the ‘true religion’ spoken of in James 1:27. For the week, the guys camped outdoors and the girls camped indoors while the days were filled with work projects and the nights were filled with conversations, devotions and fellowship with one another. Each student was asked to raise $150 to cover the expenses of their meals and to raise support for Widow’s Watchman Ministries. It was a great week of growing together and serving together as we sought to ‘be’ the kind of people we have been created, called and redeemed to be!


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A Primer on the Ten Commandments: The Broken Law Magnified and Made Honorable – By Ebenezer Erskine


By Ebenezer Erskine
The select writings of the Rev. Ebenezer Erskine: Doctrinal sermons, Volume 1

There’s a variety of opinions within the ARP regarding Sabbath keeping.

Reverend Tony Locke preached a very liberating sermon on the Sabbath while preaching through the Ten Commandments. He posted his sermon online.

His view was blasted by other ministers who used the historical position of the Puritans, like this article from Ebenezer Erskine. This debate is far from over.

This post is intended to resource the Church to have an educated debate.

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Kids Fight to Hold Bible Study During School Recess: Appeals Court Set to Rule on Battle over the Good Book

By Jack Minor An attorney for a then-4th-grader who was prohibited by school officials from holding a Bible study with his friends at recess time says an appeals court will be hearing the case to clear up misunderstandings – and even misrepresentations – about the situation. Jonathan Scruggs, an attorney with the Alliance Defense Fund,…

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Erskine Alumni Survey Summary


Between September and December 2011, the Erskine Alumni Association conducted a survey that sought to better understand giving trends and perspectives among Erskine alumni. If you were among those who participated, thank you for your feedback. About 26% of those asked to participate responded, yielding a wealth of information and insight from nearly a thousand alumni.

We are pleased to report that in the months since the survey was initiated and conducted, the Board of Trustees, the Alumni Board, and administration of Erskine have made significant progress, working together to cultivate continued healing among Erskine’s constituencies and ensuring that Erskine’s best interests are served.

Erskine has seen some difficult times over the past few years and the effects are certainly reflected in the survey results. However, the resilience and perseverance that have characterized Erskine and her alumni for nearly 175 years have also been demonstrated in tangible ways. We are pleased that the work accomplished in recent months addresses many of the survey’s findings. In particular, the Board of Trustees and Erskine administration have made considerable headway in several key areas of concern expressed in the survey results.


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Banks foreclosing on churches in record numbers


By Tim Reid

Banks are foreclosing on America’s churches in record numbers as lenders increasingly lose patience with religious facilities that have defaulted on their mortgages, according to new data.

The surge in church foreclosures represents a new wave of distressed property seizures triggered by the 2008 financial crash, analysts say, with many banks no longer willing to grant struggling religious organizations forbearance.

Since 2010, 270 churches have been sold after defaulting on their loans, with 90 percent of those sales coming after a lender-triggered foreclosure, according to the real estate information company CoStar Group.

In 2011, 138 churches were sold by banks, an annual record, with no sign that these religious foreclosures are abating, according to CoStar. That compares to just 24 sales in 2008 and only a handful in the decade before.

The church foreclosures have hit all denominations across America, black and white, but with small to medium size houses of worship the worst. Most of these institutions have ended up being purchased by other churches.

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Three Common Traits of Youth Who Don't Leave the Church


“What do we do about our kids?” The group of parents sat together in my office, wiping their eyes. I’m a high school pastor, but for once, they weren’t talking about 16-year-olds drinking and partying. Each had a story to tell about a “good Christian” child, raised in their home and in our church, who had walked away from the faith during the college years. These children had come through our church’s youth program, gone on short-term mission trips, and served in several different ministries during their teenage years. Now they didn’t want anything to do with it anymore. And, somehow, these mothers’ ideas for our church to send college students “care packages” during their freshman year to help them feel connected to the church didn’t strike me as a solution with quite enough depth.

The daunting statistics about churchgoing youth keep rolling in. Panic ensues. What are we doing wrong in our churches? In our youth ministries?

It’s hard to sort through the various reports and find the real story. And there is no one easy solution for bringing all of those “lost” kids back into the church, other than continuing to pray for them and speaking the gospel into their lives. However, we can all look at the 20-somethings in our churches who are engaged and involved in ministry. What is it that sets apart the kids who stay in the church? Here are just a few observations I have made about such kids, with a few applications for those of us serving in youth ministry.

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A Lament for the PC USA Church


Why did the ARP Synod call the PCUSA Church to repent? Because they have formally opened the door for practicing homosexuals to be ordained.

This is the last call for repentance as the ARP has now officially removed all connections between our denominations and severed our fraternal communications with the PCUSA. All of our military Chaplains are officially removed from the PCUSA endorsing board and have been transferred into the RPCNA.

We no longer recognize the PCUSA as a collection of believers being led by Christ. The PCUSA Church is being led by another spirit which is not the Holy Spirit. We no longer believe that Jesus is the head of that denomination.

We are calling on the faithful Christians left in that denomination to leave it. This sermon explains these issues.

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Should Christians Watch Sunday Football? Asked Differently — Is Tim Tebow Breaking the Sabbath?


This sermon has created a lot of conversation. The premise: that believers are not obligated to observe the Sabbath. The Sabbath was the sign of the Mosaic covenant. The Mosaic covenant is no longer binding. We are bound by the new law of love.

My opinion is that the Sabbath Commandment was the only commandment with Mosaic Law overtones. It wasn’t deleted by Jesus, but re-explained to not include Mosaic worship expectations.

The New Testament Church must still observe a seven day rest. We should sanctify a day unto the Lord. How? By worshiping publicly with God’s people. That’s how New Testament saints rest in God’s provisions and enjoy His fellowship.

The other issues of play, sports, occasional work, etc are up to the individual believer.

How do you keep the Sabbath?

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How to Listen to a Sermon

by Philip Ryken Shortly before college I read Mortimer Adler’s little classic How to Read a Book.  That may sound like an odd title.  After all, how could somebody read the book unless they already knew how to read?  And if they did know how to read, then why would they need to read it at…

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Two Centuries of Religious Freedom Rolled Back

Since 1791, when the Bill of Rights was formally adopted, America has enjoyed the legal protection of religious freedom, enshrined in the U.S. Constitution. Today, 221 years later, centuries of progress in the protection of religious and other liberties is at risk of being rolled back in one fell swoop. The culprit: Obamacare. As we all know, President…

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OUTREACH Prayer Update March 2012

Our church planters depend on the prayers and encouragement of God’s people. OUTREACH NORTH AMERICA provides this monthly prayer letter to inform you of some of their specific needs and praises so you will know better how to pray for them. Thank you for your prayers and the interest you show by your phone and…

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Alabama Supreme Court in landmark ruling: ‘"Each person has a God-given right to life"

by Ben Johnson MONTGOMERY, ALABAMA, February 17, 2012, (LifeSiteNews.com) – In a landmark legal case that established the right of a mother to sue if her unborn child wrongfully dies before viability, today the Alabama State Supreme Court unanimously ruled that “each person has a God-given right to life.” A concurring opinion issued by four…

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Alabama Supreme Court in landmark ruling: ‘"Each person has a God-given right to life"

by Ben Johnson MONTGOMERY, ALABAMA, February 17, 2012, (LifeSiteNews.com) – In a landmark legal case that established the right of a mother to sue if her unborn child wrongfully dies before viability, today the Alabama State Supreme Court unanimously ruled that “each person has a God-given right to life.” A concurring opinion issued by four…

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