John Piper Interviews Rick Warren on doctrinal Issues

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baron

Puritan Board Graduate
We are talking about the Yale edition as such...

THE WORKS OF JONATHAN EDWARDS

Wow are those the prices per book? I would think they might want to make Edwards more accessible to people. At those prices he is quite out of my monetary range.
 

Peytah

Puritan Board Freshman
Please list these "mighty men of God" who publicly confirm that Rick is preaching anything remotely like the Gospel.

Piper's credibility has been under dire attack for his earnest attempts to explain himself on this one...
At Piper's Desiring God "Think" conference, many of the other invited men (Francis Chan and a few others) who were asked to preach spoke highly of Rick and spoke about him as a brother. I did not say that they tried to promote his books or anything, but that they confirmed and treated him as a brother.

Now can you give me the track record of men that Piper has sought out and ended up being a destructive false heretic? I find only the opposite in what he's done in the lives of Driscoll and Chandler. And it's not like Warren isn't being helped by Piper.
 

CIT

Puritan Board Post-Graduate
Now can you give me the track record of men that Piper has sought out and ended up being a destructive false heretic? I find only the opposite in what he's done in the lives of Driscoll and Chandler. And it's not like Warren isn't being helped by Piper.

Some might think Doug Wilson is a heretic or at least very destructive.
 

torstar

Puritan Board Sophomore
Please list these "mighty men of God" who publicly confirm that Rick is preaching anything remotely like the Gospel.

Piper's credibility has been under dire attack for his earnest attempts to explain himself on this one...
At Piper's Desiring God "Think" conference, many of the other invited men (Francis Chan and a few others) who were asked to preach spoke highly of Rick and spoke about him as a brother. I did not say that they tried to promote his books or anything, but that they confirmed and treated him as a brother.

Now can you give me the track record of men that Piper has sought out and ended up being a destructive false heretic? I find only the opposite in what he's done in the lives of Driscoll and Chandler. And it's not like Warren isn't being helped by Piper.


In other words, NOBODY of any credibility backs up Rick Warren as preaching the Gospel.

Thanks.

Many of us have reasons to do our best to give Piper the benefit of the doubt and we have tried, but it's sadly turning into looking like grandpa answered the phone and gave our credit card numbers to a swindler on the other end.
 

Bill The Baptist

Puritan Board Graduate
Many of us have reasons to do our best to give Piper the benefit of the doubt and we have tried, but it's sadly turning into looking like grandpa answered the phone and gave our credit card numbers to a swindler on the other end.

This is why I never let grandpa answer the phone. ;)
 

Peytah

Puritan Board Freshman
A pastor is held in greater accountability and could be considered a false brother if he were preaching a false gospel. Have you actually met and spoke to Warren like these other men have? Why do you say that they have no credibility? Francis Chan has no credibility? Buck Parsons? Maybe these men you've never heard of, but do not assume they have no credibility.

And brother, I would ask that you please leave the arrogant attitude at the door. Feel free to disagree in a respectful way.
 

Bill The Baptist

Puritan Board Graduate
I think the real issue is not what Rick Warren says in this video, but what he has said numerous other times in his books and in his interviews. It would be one thing if Pastor Warren were to recant his previous statements and admit to the error of his past ways, but this is not the case. He is simply playing the old game that Bill Clinton was so good at, saying something in a vague enough way so that he can later claim that people "misunderstood" him. He is also an expert at playing both sides against the middle. On Larry King, he will say that he never supported prop 8 and that he has never attended an anti-gay rally and that he doesn't think that homosexuality is akin to pedophilia. Then when John Piper interviews him, he will say that he has always been clear that marriage should be between a man and a woman. This kind of wishy-washyness is expected from a politician like Bill Clinton, but from a pastor it is nothing short of nauseating.
 

ryanhamre

Puritan Board Freshman
"You can't have your cake and eat it too."

It appears RW wants to have his cake and eat it too... it is an issue waiting to happen.
 

Gloria

Puritan Board Sophomore
Honestly saddened by some of the comments here. The first rumblings against Warren began after Purpose Driven Life turned into a national phenomena. Realizing this, Piper and Warren sat down to discuss this book specifically. Instead of of bringing unity to the body (based on Warren's answers), it is brings more division, bitter cynicism and apparent ability to read the hearts and motives of men. Even more disheartening, people are willing to throw Piper under the bus as if he's no longer a brother or guilty of false teaching. And why? Because he doesn't despise Warren? Because he actually tried to understand him? Because in his best estimation Warren is a brother? Sad indeed.

This is not to say that John Piper is above questioning. I just don't understand the exact doctrine Piper is teaching that has caused so much wariness between the brethren. All I've seen him do is extend grace to someone, who in his best estimation, based on careful examination, is a brother.

Cynicism is a bitter, bitter pill. "Test all things," but if the test is passed, let it be.
 

CIT

Puritan Board Post-Graduate
All I've seen him do is extend grace to someone, who in his best estimation, based on careful examination, is a brother.

I think Piper is doing much more than acknowledging that Warren is a brother by inviting him to speak at his conferences. It is one thing to say that Warren is a Christian and something completely different to say that Warren is worthy of other pastors to follow.
 

Goodcheer68

Puritan Board Sophomore
If RW really wished that he would have talked about sin more and made the gospel clearer in the Purpose Drive Life, then why doesn't he update the book with those changes, he has had ten years to do so? Again, I think the Actions speak louder than words.
 

Weston Stoler

Puritan Board Sophomore
I love Piper and have found every single thing he has written or spoke on beneficial in one way or another. To belabor the point, he is the one who finally got me past that "Dreaded L" in the TULIP, however; I found that Piper gave him way to much wiggle room. I do find Warren to be a christian but I do not find him to be Reformed. I love RavenHill and others that are Arminians who preach truth. If Warren would be like Ravenhill and preach the truth he believes unashamedly and not what you want him to say I would have much more respect for the man. :worms:
 

repeater75

Puritan Board Freshman
Ok - I have some detailed insights into this but I'm brand spanking new here on the board and so, I'll need to give you some personal history before I post my analysis of the interview.

1) I was born and raised in a Roman Catholic home
2) I was saved after a great deal of Bible study and reading of apologetic literature that God used to convict me of the reality of his existence, the reliability of his word and the necessity of the Gospel.
3) I was baptized in a Southern Baptist church in Dallas and was not well-schooled in the doctrines of grace until about 12 months ago.
4) After graduating from UT Dallas, I moved to Lake Forest, California and immediately placed my membership at Saddleback where I remained for 10 years. I knew the church well enough from having attended while visiting family prior to moving out to California and because the SBC church I was at in Dallas was adopting the Purpose Driven model.

Fast forward to 2010.

I can only attribute the significant changes in my life to the grace of God and the amazing work of the Holy Spirit to convict me of the need to get a solid biblical grounding and begin leading my family spiritually as I had not been for the first decade or more of my marriage - at least not the way I should have been leading.

So - I can say that I have a great affection for Pastor Rick but I'm saddened by some things that he has done lately that leave me completely puzzled (i.e. writing the foreward to Laverne Adams' book, the Daniel Plan, etc.) and ultimately I left over what can best be described as "strong ecclesiastical differences" and my desire to be in a church that teaches the bible exegetically from a historic Reformed perspective was very strong.

I also believe Pastor Warren has some tendencies to give answers to questions that will lead people to believe they're on the same side of an issue or doctrine when that isn't necessarily the case. I believe that unfortunately, the interview with John Piper is a very strong example of this. Also note, I attended the DG Conference at Saddleback last month, so I was paying very close attention to all of this. I'm very fond of John Piper's writing and teaching. My analysis was careful and intentional, as I transcribed the quotes given below by hand. I hope any inaccuracy that is presented will be understood to be unintentional as I took a great deal of care in doing this. It would never be my intention to slander someone.

I did not comment or transcribe the entire interview but focused on some key areas where I fully expected I would encounter the phenomena of Pastor Warren representing himself one way in a specific venue and in contradiction with other clearly held beliefs and statements.

John Piper Interviews Rick Warren on Doctrine
27:00 Unconditional election.
50:50 Why don’t you call yourself a Calvinist?
54:39 Prevenient grace.
1:00:01 Total depravity.
1:12:40 The extent of the atonement.

Unconditional Election:
Piper: "Would I be right to infer from your biblical commitments and your view of God's sovereignty that you embrace the doctrine of Unconditional Election?"
Warren: "Yes I do, of course I do.
Piper: "In other words God can, does choose who will be saved before the foundation of the world. Would that be right?"
Warren: "Yes. My qualifier on that is, I say - if I find a verse that tends to say something else, 'whosever will may come' - I believe them both. I don't - my faith, my hermeneutics doesn't demand that I correlate every verse. In other words, there are often verses that are - I'm a John 3:16 Christian. I believe God so loved the world - I do believe that. And I believe that whosoever believes in him shall not perish. But I also believe, you know, 'predestined from the foundation of the earth.' So, to me - I'm able to hold tensions in my mind rather than having to explain them. And so, to me...I don't fit in a real good box in that I believe them both."
Piper: "When you say you don't feel obliged to correlate them, let me restate that and see if you agree: You don't think that they ever contradict each other."
Warren: "I do not. I believe any apparent contradiction in scripture is my limited capacity. Me trying to understand God is like an ant trying to understand the internet. I don't have the brain capacity."
Piper: "It seems to me that in the Arminian-Calvinistic debates through the centuries, Calvinists have spoken like you just did and Arminians tend to feel like they need to negate Unconditional Election. Is that true?"
Warren: "Probably. That's probably true. Instead of saying, can I see both-and? In other words, there's two kinds of thinking there is conjunctive thinking and there is disjunctive thinking. Disjunctive thinking says it has to be either-or. Now, clearly there are some either-or's about ... either I trust Christ or I don't. I'm either pregnant or I'm not. Ok, but a lot of thinking in scripture in terms of theology is, in my opinion, conjunctive thinking. It's both-and. I believe that and I believe that."
Piper: "In my experience, everybody's wired differently and when I see these two, I am pressed - if I can, and sometimes you can't - to push them down until the root emerges."
Warren: (nodding) "Until you get the root, sure."
Piper: (crosstalk) "The reason they look...whosever may come is absolute truth and chosen before the foundation of the world is absolute truth and I think theology is an effort to..."
Warren: "That's why we need guys like you."

So, while there is certainly truth that different people have different spiritual gifts, I find it difficult to see how a man as educated, intelligent and gifted as Pastor Rick has not encountered the many exegetical explanations of why there are passages which are frequently misunderstood to say something contrary to Unconditional Election or another element (frequently Irresistible Grace is handled this way) is actually being misinterpreted. I would challenge anyone who finds discrepancies in frequently cited passages such as 2 Peter 3:9, 1 Timothy 2:4, Matthew 23:37 and John 3:16 to simply look up Jim McClarty's excellent videos on YouTube or to read Chapter 6 of "The Potter's Freedom" by Dr. James R. White for clear explanations using the original languages and sound hermeneutics to show how these passages are being abused by people who mean well but simply don't have anything but traditions to fall back on for interpreting scripture.

Dr. Warren quotes Charles Spurgeon and has read 22 volumes of Jonathan Edwards. Am I really now to believe that he has never been confronted with a proper hermeneutic for John 3:16? Simple context for this passage indicates that it is perfectly harmonious with sovereign election. The Lexham English Bible, a modern literal translation intended for use by scholars who frequently work with the original languages reads: "For in this way God loved the world, so that he gave his one and only Son, in order that everyone who believes in him will not perish, but will have eternal life." Pas ho pisteuwn (Greek) translates to 'everyone believing' and not in any way does that somehow indicate that 'all can believe'. Who are those believing? Those whom God elected. So, to say that the traditional translation of "pas" to "whosoever" somehow implies that this is contradictory to election is simply to insert your own meaning into scripture (eisegesis)! And that is a dangerous practice that has resulted in many heresies in church history.

The frequent insistence by Pastor Warren that he is a "John 3:16 Christian" seems to fly in the face of his prior statements in this interview about "Total Inability" of the sinner to choose God without the regenerative work of the Holy Spirit.


Why don’t you call yourself a Calvinist?
Piper: "Do you think that - and maybe this has already been answered - justification through faith alone, by grace alone, because of Christ alone, to the glory of God alone - the Solas - that that's a good, solid summary of the Gospel?"
Warren: "Absolutely, I believe in the 5 Solas. 100%. And I am - to those of you who don't know this - I'm a monergist. I don't call myself a Calvinist. I don't. I have to say that. But I am a monergist in that I believe that it is not of my works - it's one-sided."
Piper: "Do you dislike the name Calvinism because of key doctrines that are wrong or because of the connotations it would carry?"
Warren: "Only the connotations. And I say this in true love, but I wish that those who believe in the doctrines of grace would be more gracious. That's all I'd say."
Piper: "So, you don't have a problem saying 'I embrace the doctrines of grace but I'd rather not be connected with some people who do."
Warren: "You know, my background is Baptist - and I'm proud of that - but I don't go around calling myself a Baptist all the time, either. I'm a John 3:16 Christian. I'm an evangelical. I believe the doctrines of grace."
Piper: "And Justification, we've touched on and imputation matters to you."
Warren: "Absolutely. It is the core of the Gospel."

So, Pastor Warren claims he believes the doctrines of grace, but in over 10 years attending his church, I submit that you'd be hard pressed to know it. I also have a copy of the book Foundations which is the systematic theology text taught at Saddleback written by Saddleback staff including Pastor Rick's wife, Kay. It is clearly not Calvinistic:

Page 130:
"Before you were born, God knew how you would respond to his offer of grace. According to his foreknowledge, he wrote your name in the book of life. And there it shall remain forever."

Here we have the classic "God looked through the corridors of time and knew how you would respond to his offer of grace." That isn't unconditional election nor is it even grace! This is a 100% Arminian doctrine, completely incompatible with the Doctrines of Grace. And this is a very typical approach by Pastor Warren who I believe would rather avoid the doctrinal debate and leave things murky so that everyone thinks he is teaching and believing the same thing that they are for the sake of unity.

Page 116:
"There are two main streams of thought concerning election: Calvinism and Arminianism....
We believe that Scripture teaches both truths, and to exclude one set of verses or emphasize one over the other is unbalanced. God allows us the freedom to choose to love him or not. Our freedom to choose cannot supercede the sovereign election of God. These are ideas that are difficult to reconcile with our finite minds. In the end it must be a matter of trust.
The most frightening thought that haunts some is this: "What if I want God but he doesn't want me?" The truth is, that will never happen! If there is a desire for God in your heart, you're one of the elect!"


Prevenient Grace:
Piper: "Let's go now to Prevenient Grace, the grace that brings me to Christ and that enables me to do what I need to do. Here is the one place where I found a sentence that Rick Warren says that I stumbled on.
Warren: "I retract it!"
Piper: "We'll see, we'll see. So here is what I mean and not everybody will understand where I'm coming from. "It is the Holy Spirit's job to create a Christ-like character within you. You're a monergist, you just said that. You wanna just take two sentences and define that?"
Warren: "No. Go ahead.
Piper: "Alright, never mind. We'll get there without defining it explicitly. The bible says God is working in you and you're quoting here Philippians 2:13 - God is working in you and giving you the desire to obey him and the power. So, when I read that, I thought Great! Love that sentence! That seems biblical to me. And you continued to speak carefully with the word through - I'm giving you the benefit of the doubt here - on page 174, you say, "how does this happen in real life? Through the choices we make," and I'm totally a 'choice' guy, you know, we do make choices, absolutely and they matter and something is happening through them, "we choose to do the right thing in situations and then trust God's spirit to give us his power, love, faith and wisdom to do it." At this point, I'm thinking how does this work and in what order. Now here comes the sentence that I wrote a big "NO" in - the only place I wrote a big NO, I think. 'The Holy Spirit releases his power the moment you take a step of faith. Obedience unlocks God's power. God waits for you to act first.'"
Warren: "Yeah, let me explain that. I hear where you're going on that. I would not apply that to sanctification. I think that's a misapplication and I probably should have clarified that better because what I'm saying there is - I'm thinking of the chilldren of Israel stepping into the Jordan. Now, that wasn't their choices, God told them to do it. So there's an obedience there and its only after they stepped in that the wave parted. And I think there have been many examples in my life where God has asked me to risk - to take a risk - and then he does the miracle. I would not apply that across the board as a Sanctification...not at all."
Piper: "Ok, that's really helpful. So let me restate what I heard in the first quote and see if you mean it the way I'm understanding it.
Warren: "Sure."
Piper: "It says in Philippians 2, work out your own salvation with fear and trembling. And then it gives this ground clause, for God is the one who has worked in you to will and to work. So, I'm concluding monergism in sanctification to mean that if I do choose to stop stealing things at the office, or to stop cheating on my taxes or to stop looking at p0rnography, my choices to do that have been prior-enabled by the work of the Holy Spirit."
Warren: "Absolutely. In fact, as I believe, you don't have the power to make those good choices. My decision-making power is broken. I believe this, okay. And this is why we teach this in what we call our Celebrate Recovery program. That willpower isn't gonna work because your will is broken and I cannot choose to do the things that I want to do as Romans 7 says."
Piper: "So let's clarify that. Even after you are born again and have a new nature, you are dependent on the Holy Spirit to awaken, prompt, enable the good that God calls us to do."
Warren: "Yes, I do believe that."

Total Depravity:
Piper: "Now, implications for total depravity. Would I be right to infer from what you've said about the new birth that you believe that our inability to awaken ourselves to faith and to begin this glorious Purpose-Driven Life, we can't. We can't do it without God's sovereign...
Warren: "I just go back to scripture: 'and that not of yourselves' I rest my case! 'And that not of yourselves.'
Piper: "And 'that' meaning faith"
Warren: "Even the faith. 'And that not of yourselves.'
Piper: "Total depravity, in that way of saying it, would mean totally unable to get my salvation started."
Warren: "Exactly."
Piper: "Some people take total to mean you do as many bad things as you could do and clearly you could do more bad things as a believer than you do do. But that's not the point."
Warren: "Again, I don't use total depravity as much as I like to say total inability."
Piper: "Yeah, that's even more devastating."

The extent of the atonement.
Piper: "The extent of the atonement is the most vexed of the doctrines of...
Warren: "You and I talked about this. It's the one I have the most problem with in the typical TULIP."
Piper: "Yeah...of the doctrines of grace. So, I'm going to read something you wrote and there's two ways to take what you wrote: I could take it in my way, but I doubt if its your way. Frankly I think - I've said to various people who stumble over this so-called fourth point, if you give me 15 minutes I can get you to agree. But let's try, it won't take 15 minutes. You said, 'if you want to be used by God, page 288, you must care about what God cares about. What he cares about most is the redemption of the people he made. He wants his lost children found.' Interesting phrase. Which could mean everybody on the planet or it could mean John 11:52 where Caiaphas says better that one die for the nation and then John says - he was speaking about prophecy that he might gather into one the children of God who are scattered abroad. And you say nothing matters more to God than the cross. Now, if I were to take that my way and interpret it in light of John 11:52, Christ died to gather into one the children of God's caravan - the sheep that are scattered out there - the elect."
Warren: "Yeah."
Piper: "And in that sense the death of Christ has a divine purposefulness. That it really did achieve the faith and the ingathering of the sheep. And I think that I could say that that would be called particular redemption or limited atonement, without denying that the cross makes possible and purchases a bona fide offer for every person on the planet. So that you can look a person right in the face..."
Warren: "Well, we're a lot closer than I thought we were."
Piper: "...and say...you could even say...and I can even quote John Murray on this, he's vintage Reformed...and say, 'Christ died for you.' Meaning, not that he effectively accomplished your propitiation but he dies such that his arms are extended to you saying, if you will come, it's yours - this is yours. So, I feel like I can talk like the atonement is there beckoning everyone while believing - Jesus said this cup is the new covenant. Well, the new covenant is when he writes the law on my heart and draws me to himself and puts the fear of God in me. I think he bought my conversion, which means he didn't do that for everybody. So there are designs in the cross that are for his elect but there are also designs in the cross that are for everybody. So, there's John Piper's effort to..."
Warren: "Well, we're a lot closer than I thought we were on that one because I do believe, again - this goes back to my hermeneutic of when I have two different passages, I believe them both. I believe Ephesians 5: Christ died for the church and gave his life for her, I believe that with all my heart. I also believe Peter, 'God is not willing that any should perish.' I think he wants people to be saved. And I believe in John 3:16. So when you say, who does Christ die for, he died for the church. I don't think God's death on the cross through Christ was a failure. I do not believe anyone he intended to die for - that he is failing in that area."
Piper: "...is going to hell."
Warren: "Absolutely not. On the other hand, I don't believe in Universalism either, that his salvation assumes automatically everybody's going to be there."

Quite honestly, there is no such thing as the doctrines of Grace without particular atonement or limited atonement. Pastor Warren does not believe in the Doctrines of Grace if he doesn't believe in them all.

OTHER:
Warren: "Most people don't know that Saddleback has a 72-week systematic theology course that every small group member is required to go through." (1:21:50)

Again, Pastor Warren is referring to the Foundations course. The text is a 237 page workbook with fill-ins not unlike a typical Sunday sermon outline. It is a decent primer, but it will never be confused for Wayne Grudem's work, to be sure. Once, I discussed my concern for the depth of the text with another Saddleback member who had previously spent some years in ministry at another church and who holds a seminary degree. I said to him that I felt it would be a solid theology text for 6th or 7th grade, but that we need to do better for the grownups. He agreed.

There are people in the body who will be doing their best to get through a course like Foundations, but why not offer a Foundations 101, 201, 301, etc? Foundations has been taught for years but has never been expanded to include deeper study for more mature believers. I am aware that there is some kind of a revision of it in the works, but I think much more is needed and the fact is, I was a member of Saddleback for over a decade and in a number of small groups without the Foundations course even being mentioned once, so it simply isn't true that every small group member is required to take the course.

In closing, Pastor Warren has a lot of good things going on at Saddleback and many people do come to Christ there. I am sorry that I cannot endorse Saddleback as enthusiastically as I would other churches that I believe are "doing church" in a way that is more in keeping with its mission of making disciples. There are people that do the work necessary to grow at Saddleback but its just not a method of doing church that I believe results in a mature, theologically sound majority of membership. I know Pastor Rick knows much more about a great many things than I do, but this is my evaluation and I wish Saddleback well. I also hope that someone close to Pastor Rick can talk to him about how he represents what he believes such that he would be convicted to be open and clear that he does not believe in the doctrines of grace as understood by historic reformed theology or Calvinists. If you want to believe in 3 or 4 out of 5 points of TULIP, great - you're probably a Christian within the realms of Orthodoxy, but don't lead people to believe that you believe in the doctrines of Grace as they are articulated in historic Reformed confessions and systematic theologies.


I pray that I have written this with due humility, not to build myself up or bring anyone else down, but to be used to bring light to the truth. I pray that the Holy Spirit would reveal any sin in my heart as I have written this so that I may repent of it.

repeater75
Reformed Baptist - London Confession of 1689
Orange County, California
Mission: To vanquish idolatrous Moralistic Therapeutic Deism with the Gospel of Jesus Christ.
My views do not necessarily reflect those of my church or my family, they are mine and mine alone.
 
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repeater75

Puritan Board Freshman
I should also add that I definitely sensed that John Piper could have pressed harder on the distinctives during the interview but chose not to. I especially think Rick opened the door for that when he kept making statements about John 3:16, 2 Peter 3:9, etc.
 

Semper Fidelis

2 Timothy 2:24-25
Staff member
I'm disappointed that neither Warren nor Piper discussed Hebrews with respect to the perfection of Christ's High Priesthood when discussing the atonement. If you want to discuss the atonement precisely why not discuss whether Christ's prayer for His own draws them unto His sacrifice and whether His sacrifice perfects forever those He draws near?
 

J. Dean

Puritan Board Junior
Didn't Warren have Brian MacLaren speak at his church? Granted, I believe it was when Brian was lesser known and not so outspoken with his errant theology, but still...
 

HoldFast

Puritan Board Freshman
I should also add that I definitely sensed that John Piper could have pressed harder on the distinctives during the interview but chose not to. I especially think Rick opened the door for that when he kept making statements about John 3:16, 2 Peter 3:9, etc.

This is what irks me about Piper's interview. He doesn't ask Warren what he means when he uses verses as prooftexts. Piper lets Warren throw around text like a beachball as if the text itself isn't the core of the issue at hand! I'm really disappointed.
 

repeater75

Puritan Board Freshman
Challies has posted an article on the interview: Thinking About Rick Warren & John Piper | Challies Dot Com

And yet I find that I disagree with his conclusion. And here is why: I do not think he has given us an accurate understanding of Rick Warren or his ministry. It has given us a very partial understanding, one based on a very limited scope of conversation. I do not think there is any malice here or any intent to deceive. It’s just reality as I understand it.
 
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