Sorry and all, but yes there is a Heaven and Hell


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POPE ACCUSED OF MISLEADING STATEMENTS ABOUT HELL

TOM LAMPRECHT:  Harry, a number of media outlets covered this story. We’re taking it from CNS News, Pope Francis saying there is no hell. Recently, Pope Francis had an interview with his long-time atheist friend, Eugenio Scalfari. In this interview, Scalfari asked, “Your Holiness, in our previous meeting, you told me that our species will disappear at a certain moment and that God, out of His creative force, will create new species. You have never spoken to me about the souls who die in sin and go to Hell to suffer for eternity.” Pope Francis replied, “They are not punished. Those who repent obtain the forgiveness of God and enter the rank of those souls who contemplate Him, but those who do not repent and cannot, therefore, be forgiven, disappear. There is no Hell. There is the disappearance of sinful souls.”

DR. REEDER: Tom, we need to say that the Vatican — not the Pope — put out the disclaimer that the exact words were not completely accurate. What didn’t come was a “Hey, that was erroneous. The Pope affirms the historic doctrine of Heaven and Hell, the eternal condemnation of the lost in their rebellion against God and the eternal joy of those who know Him through the atoning work of His Son, Jesus Christ. There was no reclamation of the historic doctrine.

We’re not going to speak to the erroneous doctrine of Purgatory. We’re going to only deal with the issue of the eternality of Heaven and Hell and the reality that there is a Heaven to gain and a Hell to lose and the only way you gain that Heaven and the only way you can lose that Hell — since we’re all born sinners and under the judgement of God — is through the atoning work of Christ, who has come into this world because of the love of God to save sinners.

HEAVEN IS A FREE GIFT FROM GOD IF WE ACCEPT IT

And God’s love for us is unmerited and unwanted, but it’s not, in the ultimate sense, unconditional in that God’s love for us had to meet certain conditions and that is the eradication of our sin, but God’s love for us is so glorious He didn’t tell us that we had to eradicate the consequences of our sin — His Son came and His Son eradicated the consequences of our sin by His atoning death on the cross. And He eradicates the power of sin because, by His Spirit, we are born again so we not only get a new record with our sins removed from us as far as the east is from the west through Christ’s atoning work and the righteousness of Christ that is given to us so that our sins that were credited to Him and He paid for them now are replaced by His righteousness that is credited to us.

Therefore, we’re not only forgiven and pardoned, we are accepted and declared innocent through the righteousness of Christ and then, by the work of the Holy Spirit, we are born again and we’re given a new heart so that not only is the penalty of sin eradicated, but we are emancipated from the power of sin. We get a new life in which we increasingly walk away from the practice of sin into the newness of obedience to Christ and then, one day, we will have the absence of the presence of sin or even the ability to sin in the glories of a new heaven and new earth.

And, Mr. Pope, with all due respect, Heaven is not an ethereal existence of contemplating God. The Bible is very clear that there is much activity in Heaven — we are not sitting in a corner in an eternal contemplative mode. There’s a new heavens, and there’s a new earth, and there’s activity, and there is serving the Lord but there will be no curse of sin and there will be no ability to sin. There will be no consequences of sin: no pain, no death. The former things have passed away.

Jesus said, “Behold, I make all things new.” On that day, with a new body that He gives to us, He will bring us not into a refurbished heaven and earth, but a transformed heaven and earth. The new heavens and the new earth and the glories of not simply contemplating Him, but learning from Him, enjoying Him, and not only enjoying Him, but the unbroken fellowship with those made in His image into a relationship that is glorious and beyond our comprehension but will not be beyond our occupation for all eternity.

And what about his remarks on Hell? Pope Francis has now embraced, to some degree, the historically condemned doctrine of annihilation — that, at death, the unbeliever, the impenitent, do not come under the judgement of God for all eternity, but are basically dismissed from existence into oblivion of non-existence.

I have no idea what he means by the creative power of God creating new species. The Bible is very clear that God has finished creation. Six days He created and then He rested from creation. The Bible is very clear that the doctrine of Hell is the conscious punishment of the impenitent in their cosmic treason and rebellion against God for all eternity.

Tom, what in the world was Jesus doing on the cross? What was that agony of the soul in “Eli, Eli, lama sabachthani?” “My God, My God, why have You forsaken Me?” What is all that that becomes meaningless gibberish if there is no Hell to shun. So, the Pope, in one simple statement of complex consequences, has dismissed the historic Apostle’s Creed, has dismissed the Biblical doctrine of Hell.

CHRIST SPOKE AND TAUGHT MUCH OF HELL

And, to the Pope, I would simply say, “You are to be the Vicar of Christ. Who is it that gave us the most information about Hell and conscious torment in all of eternity, even using the metaphors of the blackness of full isolation and the torment of fire?” Over two-thirds of the information about Hell comes directly from the mouth of Jesus, the one who would bear the Hell that was due to His people for their sins on the cross.

Two-thirds of it is given to us and the warning of what it means to come under the judgement of God and eternal condemnation and that God will hurl them into the lake of fire that is the conscious torment of the lost for all eternity. There will weeping and gnashing of teeth. That does not sound like oblivion to me — that sounds like torment. That is something that propels me to tell people to come to Jesus.

CONFUSION AND LACK OF TEACHING ON HELL CAUSES MORE SIN

TOM LAMPRECHT: Harry, let me go back to Pope Benedict XVI, who just in 2007 said, “Jesus came to tell us that He wants us all in Heaven and that Hell, of which so little is said in our time, exists and is eternal for those who close their hearts to His love.”

Harry, there’s obviously a paradigm shift that’s taking place here. Is the new attitude toward Hell going to create a callousness and a laissez-faire attitude toward sin?

DR. REEDER: And toward God, Himself. We contemplated doing a program on the blasphemy that Stephen Colbert did during Holy Week against the majesty of God and the holiness of God and then, right within the Roman Catholic church, again, this professor at Holy Cross who blasphemes Christ by trying to turn Him into a transgender androgynous existing entity.

However, the reason that people in the culture feel free to do those things and there is no restraint upon how you refer to God and how you would speak about Him, is because the church of Jesus Christ has declared itself more spiritual than Jesus in that we will not speak of the sinfulness of sin and we will not speak of the consequence of sin.

When was the last time that you heard a sermon on the Biblical doctrine of Hell? Jesus gave a number of those sermons. You go find a revival in which the doctrine of sin and the doctrine of Hell was not prominent in the preaching of God’s Word, which then set up the preeminence of the doctrines of grace to save us from our sin, and the Savior who bore our Hell and who desires us to be with Him in a new heavens and a new earth. Jesus bore the penalty of those sins, our hell, and in Jesus you can have eternal life.

Just as Hell is real, so is the new heavens and the new earth. “Where I am, there you will be with Me always.”

Dr. Harry L. Reeder III is the Senior Pastor of Briarwood Presbyterian Church in Birmingham.

This podcast was transcribed by Jessica Havin, editorial assistant for Yellowhammer News, who has transcribed some of the top podcasts in the country and whose work has been featured in a New York Times Bestseller.

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7 hours ago

AUDIO: ‘The University of Alabama showed great courage in its defense of open debate and free speech’ — J. Pepper Bryars

Earlier this week J. Pepper Bryars, editor of Yellowhammer News, appeared on WYDE’s “The Ford Faction” to discuss a speech that was scheduled to be given by a “race realist” this Thursday at the University of Alabama.

“The University of Alabama showed great courage in its defense of open debate and free speech through its willingness to allow this speaker on campus,” Bryars said, adding that “the only cure for hate speech is more speech.”

The details:

— An obscure student group invited self-described “race realist” (aka: a racist) Jared Taylor to deliver a lecture on campus.

— The university initially approved the event because the group had followed the required process, although administration officials made clear Taylor’s message ran contrary to the school’s values.

— Eventually, however, the student group was found to be in violation of key requirements (having a faculty advisory, etc.), and after officials gave the students time to come into alignment, the group failed so the invitation was rescinded.

“Had the group met the requirements and followed the process like any other, Alabama was prepared to allow its students to hear the racist arguments this man makes, and that’s a great thing,” Bryars said. “Because the only way our society can refute such claims is to know of their existence and how to properly dispose of them … like the garbage they are.”

LISTEN NOW:

@jpepperbryars is the editor of Yellowhammer News and the author of American Warfighter

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8 hours ago

Alabama man charged after hunters find remains of missing woman

An Alabama man has been charged with murder after hunters found the skeletal remains of a missing woman.

News outlets report that 58-year-old Kenny Darity of Montgomery is charged in the strangling death of Christina Bloss.

Darity was arrested and charged Tuesday, and bond was set at $150,000. Jail records on Wednesday did not show whether he is represented by an attorney.

Bloss was reported missing Feb. 28, 2017, in Montgomery County. Authorities now think she had been killed 10 days earlier.
A Montgomery County Sheriff’s Department captain, George Beaudry, says Darity and Bloss were acquaintances.

Hunters found her remains Thursday in Lowndes County, which is just west of Montgomery County.

(Associated Press, copyright 2018)

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9 hours ago

Michael Knowles featured at Alabama Policy Institute’s 19th annual dinner event in Mobile

On Tuesday, the Alabama Policy Institute held its 19th annual Mobile dinner event in the airplane hangar at the USS Alabama Battleship Memorial Park.

“I cannot think of a better place to discuss freedom and liberty than at the U.S.S. Battleship Memorial Park and Aircraft Pavilion, a place that holds so many reminders of the sacrifices that thousands of Americans have paid to guarantee our freedom and liberty,” Caleb Crosby, President and CEO of API, told Yellowhammer News.

The “Evening with the Alabama Policy Institute” included keynote speaker, Michael Knowles.

Knowles is a talk show host and former managing editor of The Daily Wire, who is most well-known for his best-selling (and blank) book Reasons To Vote For Democrats: A Comprehensive Guide.

Part of a generation of young-ish conservatives that includes the Wire’s, Ben Shapiro, Knowles spends much of his time traveling to universities and rebutting their brand of “illiberal liberalism,” as Frank Bruni of the New York Times has called it.

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“I feel that here we’re in a safe space,” Knowles opened his speech last night, mirroring Crosby’s sentiment by ironically appropriating the campus buzzword.

“We’re definitely in a safe space because there are lots of guns and battleships. This is the perfect safe space for conservatives to be on tax day.”

Knowles’s speech before API and guests was as much about making the case for conservatism and for President Trump as about rebutting progressivism.

He began by reminding everyone in the room of all the good that the Trump presidency has accomplished: tax cuts, deregulation, originalist judges.

“Now you might be having déjà vu,” he said, “because I could have given that exact same [list] in 1981.”

Pointing out similarities between Reagan was Knowles’s primary way of arguing that Trump has governed as a conservative. In some ways, it also seemed to be his way of coaxing those never-Trump conservatives to embrace the president, or at least to encourage those conservatives supportive of — but still apprehensive — about him.

“Take the victories that we can get today,” Knowles said.

His chief point was that politics is about the now.

“Politics changes all the time,” he said. “There are different circumstances. There are different public policy challenges. There are different public policy prescriptions. There are timeless principles. And of course the hope, is that we conservatives can maintain the bedrock of timeless principles that we can apply to new circumstances and new challenges and make America great again, again.”

“Political victories are never permanent,” Knowles continued. “Political successes are never permanent. That’s why you always need to be making America great again. It’s because otherwise, it’s going to revert to its natural state of decay and destruction.”

@jeremywbeaman is a contributing writer for Yellowhammer News

9 hours ago

Why the Alabama Legislature holds the power — and a breakdown of interesting open seats

Our antiquated 1901 Constitution was designed to give inordinate power to the Legislature. During the Wallace years, the King of Alabama politics, George Wallace, usurped this power and controlled the Legislature from the Executive Branch of Government. Over the last couple of decades the Legislature has wrestled this power back and pretty much excluded the Governor from their bailiwick. Governors Bob Riley and Robert Bentley were ostracized and pretty much ignored. Their proposed budgets were instantaneously tossed into the nearest trashcan.

Legislative power is derived from controlling the state’s purse strings. Thus the old adage, “Those who have the gold set the rules.” The Legislature has gotten like Congress in that incumbents are difficult to defeat. Therefore, the interest will be on the open Senate and House seats. Most of the Montgomery Special Interest money will be focused on these Legislative races.

Speaking of Montgomery, two open and most interesting Senate seats in the state will be in the Montgomery/River Region. One is currently in progress. Montgomery City Councilman, David Burkette, Representative John Knight and Councilman Fred Bell are pursuing the Democratic seat vacated by Senator Quinton Ross when he left to become President of Alabama State University. Burkette has already bested Knight and Bell in a Special Election last month. A rebound race is set for June 5.

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The Republican Senate seat in the River Region held by Senator Dick Brewbaker is up for grabs. This seat was expected to attract numerous well-known aspirants. However, when the dust settled at the qualifying deadline two relatively unknown candidates were the only ones to qualify. Will Barfoot and Ronda Walker are pitted against each other in a race that is considered a tossup.

The Etowah County/Gadsden area was considered one of the most Democratic areas of the state for generations. However, in recent years it has become one of the most Republican. State Representative, Mack Butler, should be favored as a Republican. Although, polling indicates that veteran Democratic Representative, Craig Ford, could make this a competitive race in the Fall. He is running as an Independent.  

Veteran State Senator Harri Ann Smith has represented the Wiregrass/Dothan area admirably for over two decades. She has been elected several times as an Independent. However, she has decided not to seek reelection. Her exit leaves State Representative Donnie Chesteen in the catbird seat to capture the seat.

Republican State Senator Paul Bussman, who represents Cullman and northwest Alabama, is a maverick and very independent. This independence makes him powerful. He will be reelected easily.

State Representative David Sessions is predicted to win the seat of Senator Bill Hightower who is running for Governor.

Most of the state Senate’s most powerful members are unopposed or have token opposition. Included in this list of incumbent State Senators are veteran Senate leader and Rules Chairman, Jabo Waggoner, R-Vestavia, Senate President, Del Marsh, R-Calhoun, Senate Majority Leader, Greg Reed, R-Jasper, veteran Senator Jimmy Holley, R-Coffee, as well as Senate leaders Arthur Orr, R-Decatur, Cam Ward, R-Alabaster, Clay Scofield, R-Marshall, Clyde Chambliss, R-Autauga, Steve Livingston, R-Scottsboro, Tom Whatley, R-Lee, and Shay Shelnutt, R-Gardendale. The Senate leadership will remain intact, as will the House leadership.

Almost all of the House leaders are unopposed or have token opposition. This prominent list includes: Speaker Mac McCutcheon, R-Madison, Budget Chairmen, Steve Clouse, R-Ozark, Bill Poole, R-Tuscaloosa, Speaker Pro-tem, Victor Gaston, R- Mobile, Rules Chairman, Mike Jones, R-Covington.

In addition, there are numerous Veteran lawmakers, who will be reelected, including Lynn Greer, Mike Ball, Jim Carnes, Howard Sanderford, Kerry Rich, and Jimmy Martin; as well as rising leaders: Nathaniel Ledbetter, Kyle South, Connie Rowe, Tim Wadsworth, April Weaver, Paul Lee, Terri Collins, Danny Garrett, Dickie Drake, Chris Pringle, Randall Shedd, Allen Farley, Becky Nordgren, Mike Holmes, David Standridge, Dimitri Polizos, Reed Ingram and Chris Sells.

Even though there are 22 open House seats and 10 open Senate Seats, the leadership of both Chambers will remain the same.

There are some competitive House seats that will be interesting. In the Pike/Dale County Seat 89, Pike Probate Judge Wes Allen is pitted against Troy City Council President Marcus Paramore. Tracy Estes is favored to replace retiring Mike Millican in Marion County. Alfa is going all out for Estes. David Wheeler is expected to capture the open House seat in Vestavia.

See you next week.

Steve Flowers is Alabama’s leading political columnist. His weekly column appears in over 60 Alabama newspapers. He served 16 years in the state legislature. Steve may be reached at www.steveflowers.us.

 

9 hours ago

Alabama aging death row: Is executing old or infirm inmates cruel?

Vernon Madison has spent decades on Alabama’s death row. Now 67, Madison has suffered from strokes and dementia and his lawyers say he no longer recalls the crime that put him there: the 1985 killing of a police officer.

His speech is slurred, he suffers from confusion, and once thought he was near release and talked of moving to Florida, according to his lawyers. This fall, the U.S. Supreme Court is set to review the claims by Madison’s defense team that executing someone in his condition would violate the Constitution’s ban on cruel and unusual punishment.

“Killing a fragile man suffering from dementia is unnecessary and cruel,” Madison’s attorney, Bryan Stevenson of the Equal Justice Initiative, said in January, when the justices stayed Madison’s execution the night he was to receive a lethal injection.

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The U.S. death row population is aging, and that leaves courts increasingly likely to grapple with questions of when it becomes unconstitutionally cruel to put someone to death who is mentally frail — or whose medical conditions could complicate the execution procedure.

“That is going to be an increasing issue in carrying out the American death penalty,” said Robert Dunham, executive director of the Death Penalty Information Center in Washington. “We are reaching a stage, as death row inmates age, we’ll see this more frequently.”

About 2,800 people are on death row in prisons nationwide, and about 1,200 of them over age 50, the non-profit group said. An Associated Press review of the group’s data shows the median age of an executed inmate in the U.S. rose from 34 to 46 between 1983 and 2017 — a fact observers attribute to appeals taking longer — sometimes decades.

One of the oldest, 83-year-old Walter Leroy Moody, is scheduled to be executed Thursday in Alabama for the 1989 package bomb killing of a federal judge. If the sentence is carried out, Moody would be the oldest person and the first octogenarian put to death since U.S. executions resumed in the 1970s, Dunham said.

“Many of these defendants have done terrible things. People are torn between wanting to punish severely and the belief it is beneath us as a nation to kill a frail person who is already dying. It’s a challenge to our morality and our sense of humanity,” Dunham said.

Kent Scheidegger, legal director of the pro-death penalty Criminal Justice Legal Foundation, supports steps to reduce the time between an inmate’s sentencing and execution.

“There is no constitutional issue from age alone, though dementia does, of course, become more common with age. The underlying question about what kind and degree of mental illness will prevent an execution is not new. It is ancient.”

Justice Stephen G. Breyer, writing in Madison’s case, noted the growing number of aging prisoners on death row and said, “Given this trend, we may face ever more instances of state efforts to execute prisoners suffering the diseases and infirmities of old age.”

Age by itself isn’t the issue, but rather the illnesses more common with old age.

Take Alva Campbell, 69. He died last month in an Ohio prison of natural causes after his 2017 lethal injection procedure was halted when a usable vein couldn’t be found. Alabama similarly aborted last month’s execution of Doyle Lee Hamm, 61, who has battled lymphoma. His lawyer said Hamm had at least 11 puncture wounds from attempts to find a vein.

“It was precisely Doyle’s old age and illness that raised all the problems. The state of Alabama was not prepared,” Hamm’s attorney, Bernard Harcourt, wrote in an email.

Yet 75-year-old Tommy Arthur, who had argued that his cardiovascular disease would complicate execution, was put to death without obvious incident last year in Alabama.

Madison was convicted of killing Mobile police officer Julius Schulte.

Schulte responded to a missing child report on April 18, 1985. Arriving at a home, he found the child had returned but Madison and his girlfriend were embroiled in a domestic dispute. According to court records, Schulte interacted briefly with Madison, telling him to “just to go on and let things cool down.” According to prosecutors, Madison left but then crept up behind Schulte as he sat in his police car, shooting him twice in the head.

The Supreme Court has ruled inmates must have a rational understanding of why they’re being executed, faculties which Madison’s lawyers say he doesn’t possess.

His attorneys argue strokes have left Madison frequently disoriented with no independent memory of his crime. They also say he is legally blind, cannot walk independently and has urinary incontinence from his brain damage.

The state’s lawyers counter that Madison was found competent at a 2016 hearing, hasn’t presented new evidence and is aware he received the death sentence — even if he doesn’t remember killing Schulte.

“What happened to my dad was cruel and unusual punishment,” said Schulte’s son, Michael. “He was shot twice in the head while he was trying to help somebody.”

Schulte, 59, has suffered health problems of his own, including a stroke and heart attack. Yet he said Madison’s protracted legal fight has been hard on his family and doesn’t “do my dad justice.”

Said Schulte: “Somebody needs to make a decision. Either we are going to have the death penalty or we’re not.”

(Associated Press, copyright 2018)