Christian colleges: Will you fold under cultural pressures or actually BE what you say you are?


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CHRISTIAN COLLEGES STRUGGLING TO MAINTAIN CHRISTIAN CODES

TOM LAMPRECHT:  Harry, NPR ran an in-depth story recently, “Christian Colleges Are Tangled in Their Own LGBT Policies.” The article goes on to say, “Conservative Christian colleges, once relatively insulated from the culture war, are increasingly entangled in the same battles over LGBT rights and related social issues that have divided other institutions in America.

Students and faculties at many religious institutions are asked to accept a faith statement outlining the school’s views on such matters as evangelical doctrine, Scriptural interpretation and human sexuality. Those statements also include a rejection of homosexual activity and a definition of marriage as a union of one man and one woman.

Mary Hulst, senior chaplain at Calvin College says, “You’ve got these two values. We love our LGBT people, we love our church of Jesus Christ, we love the Scripture, so those of us who do this work are right in the middle of that space. We’re living in the tension.”

DR. REEDER: You can see immediately the world and life view and perspective of the reporter and the article and those who are engaged in the interviewing process, even by the phrase that “Christian Colleges are Entangled.” Well, actually, they are being entangled. They were just going along as normal with a Biblical doctrine of sexuality and marriage. Marriage is one man, one woman, one life, with heterosexuality within marriage, monogamous — the Bible doesn’t change even though culture is visibly changing itself into chaos by redefining marriage and by the sexual revolution.

WHAT SHOULD SCHOOLS DO?

Therefore, what do Christian colleges do? First of all, you have the cultural elite motivated in compliance with and complicit with the LGBTQ agenda. They want to impose that upon Christian colleges so they will use phrases like this: “You’re going to be on the wrong side of history. If you don’t get on-board with redefining marriage as same-sex and affirming homosexuality as normal, if you don’t do that, you’re going to be on the wrong side of history.”

The Christian colleges they have leverage upon are those who are receiving whatever kind of aid from the federal government. At the moment, the present administration has removed the pressure that had been placed upon them in the previous administration.

However, of course, you don’t know what administration is coming and it’s more than likely that these same pressures are going to come that, “If you don’t affirm, embrace and allow, for instance, transgender definition of self-identification of gender — what bathroom, or facility or sports team you play on — if you do not affirm same-sex marriage, if you do not affirm same-sex sexuality, then the federal programs which you participate in can and will be removed and we will remove them if you don’t change your positions in your handbook and your practices.”

Now the Christian college is going to have to make a decision: Do we want to be politically correct, do we want to be on the “right side of history” or do we want to be theologically correct and be on the right side of the Word of God and God, Himself, in terms of what he has declared.

TWISTING THE BIBLE TO FIT THEIR PURPOSES

TOM LAMPRECHT:  Harry, let me give you a quote from Brad Harper, who is a professor of Theology and Religious Studies at Multnomah University. He says, “Millennials are looking at the issue of gay marriage and, more and more, they’re saying, ‘Okay, we know the Bible talks about this, but we just don’t see it as an essential of the faith.’”

DR. REEDER: Right. What you see now is things that are being promoted like the Tony Campolo movement of “The Red-Letter Revival” — those Bibles that put the words of Jesus in red letters. What he’s saying is, “See how gracious Jesus is? Don’t be like Moses. Don’t be like Paul. We need to have Jesus Christ correct Moses and Paul.”

WHAT DOES THE BIBLE SAY ABOUT SEXUALITY?

Well, first of all, in the Bible, the Bible is never contradictory. Jesus doesn’t correct — in fact, Jesus is the One, by His Spirit, who led Moses to write what he wrote, and Paul to write what he wrote, and Luke to write what he wrote and Peter to write what he wrote because the Author of all the authors is the Holy Spirit and it’s non-contradictory. What the authors are doing are not correcting each other, but they’re complementing each other.

And then, secondly, you probably, Mr. Campolo, do not want to read very closely those “red letter words” of Jesus. If you want to do a Red-Letter Bible, everything in the Bible ought to have the red letters, but if you’re just identifying the direct quotes of Jesus, you’ll notice that, first of all, He gave more information on the doctrine of Hell than anybody else. In fact, two-thirds of the information on the doctrine of Hell is given by Jesus.

If you want to go to Jesus, then you can just pick up, for instance, in Mark 10: “But you do not know the Scriptures, for from the beginning of creation, God made them male and female.” Well, there we are. God made them male and female. God made marriage because He goes on to quote from Genesis, “For this cause, a man shall leave his father and mother and cleave to his wife and the two shall become one,” so he affirms sexuality within marriage, He affirms a heterosexual marriage, a covenantal marriage, a conjugal marriage, a procreative marriage and, therefore, same-sex could never be accommodate by “the words of Jesus”.

PRESSURE IS MOUNTING FOR COLLEGES TO APOSTATIZE

Where we are are these apostate theologians, the colleges: “You must apostatize. It’s more important for you to get the approval of the government, and the money of the government, and the approval of the culture and the applause of the culture than it is to be faithful to God, Himself.”

Hear this very clearly and very pointedly from a Christian world and life view: If these colleges, in order to maintain the money and to maintain the freedoms of the culture that they offer to you, if they decide to apostatize from the Word of God — redefine sexuality, redefine marriage and find a way to accomplish that — if they so vacillate, if they so apostatize, then they are no longer a Christian college. You can’t be a Christian college and sacrifice the supremacy, the sovereignty and the sufficiency of the Word of God in terms of what we believe and how we practice.

The colleges that will most likely withstand the challenge are those that are under a local church or under a faithful evangelical denomination — they will be the ones that most likely will stand. If someone from a Christian college came to me right now, I would say, “You need to take advantage of this present administration backing off on the assault upon what you believe and what you do and use that period of time to go out with your Development Office and your fundraising and your friend building and get the support you need for your college so that you are not dependent upon the government. If you’re dependent upon the government, you’re going to be tempted to compromise.”

STUDENTS HAVE REDEFINED THEIR IDEA OF CHRISTIANITY AND WANT TO LEGITIMIZE IT

TOM LAMPRECHT:  Harry, let me give you a quote from a student, Sam Koster, who is a junior at Calvin College in Grand Rapids, Michigan. He identifies as queer. He says in this article, “When I realize that my faith wasn’t necessarily about the Christian Reformed church and it wasn’t even necessarily about the Bible, but about my relationship with God and that God is all-compassing and loving, I felt very free.”

DR. REEDER: When you hear that from a student that’s in a Christian college, you know that Christian college has already failed in its job because no thinking Christian could ever say, “I don’t need the Bible.”

How do you know you need to be saved by Jesus without the Bible? How do you know who Jesus is and that He is a sufficient Savior without the Bible? How do you know who God is without the Bible? The Creation reveals God is Creator, but it does not reveal God in Trinity — Father, Son and Holy Spirit — because the Bible tells you that.

Therefore, you can’t be a Christian without the Bible and Christ’s church is not just a little addendum for the Christian — it is, as John Calvin said, “the womb established by the Lord to nurture believers as they grow in the grace and knowledge of Christ.” You can’t have your relationship with God without the Bible. You can’t grow in your relationship with God without the Bible.

The Bible consistently condemns any sexual activity, whether it’s heterosexual promiscuity or homosexual perversion, it condemns it continually. He calls those “clobber passages” — don’t bring those passages to clobber me. The Word of God that brings the passages to clobber sin also tells you of the Savior who was clobbered under the righteous judgement of God so that you could miss any and all of that judgement because of Jesus Christ, Who will take you to glory in Heaven. And where do you find all of that out? You find it in the Bible.

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.

2 hours ago

Alabama’s ‘white gold’ draws worldwide interest

Ruth Beaumont Cook’s latest book started 10 years ago as a brochure request from Sylacauga‘s B.B. Comer Memorial Library in advance of the city’s first marble festival.

“They asked me to put together a brochure about the history of the marble,” Cook said. “It was overwhelmingly successful, so the next year they asked to me write a book.”

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New book celebrates Sylacauga’s marble legacy from Alabama NewsCenter on Vimeo.

Nearly nine years and dozens of interviews later, Cook celebrates the natural resource that nurtures both the economy and the cultural heritage of Alabama’s “Marble City” in her new book, “Magic in Stone: The Sylacauga Marble Story.”

“Whenever you start working on a book, you have all of this information but you look for a story thread through it,” Cook said. “I had no clue when I started what that was going to be.”

Cook said the clues starting coming together as she started talking to people who grew up mining marble.

“There are so many people who grew up in Gantts Quarry,” Cook said. “Most people have good memories of growing up there and work they are proud of. Telling those stories was the most interesting part of it.”

Commercial marble quarries began in Sylacauga in the late 1800s. Cook said the marble was initially used by sculptors such as Giuseppe Moretti, the Italian who created the Vulcan statue on Red Mountain in Birmingham.

“His Vulcan won gold prize at the 1904 World’s Fair, but what most people don’t know is he also took another piece with him, ‘The Head of Christ,’ which he had carved from Sylacauga marble,” Cook said. “It won a silver medal.”

The notoriety caught the attention of construction managers around the world who were seeking dimension marble for their projects. By the 1930s, Sylacauga’s creamy white marble had been used in hundreds of buildings, including the U.S. Supreme Court building and the ceiling of the Lincoln Memorial.

“It was chosen for the Lincoln Memorial because it can be cut very thin and still be strong,” Cook said. “They cut it thin enough to be translucent and then rubbed it with beeswax and put it in the ceiling.”

Despite the marble’s beauty and strength, Cook said the demand for dimension marble in construction dropped dramatically by the 1950s.

“It became obvious that granite was much easier to withstand pollution than marble,” Cook said. “Marble is still great if it’s thick enough, but if you make a facade of it on a building, it’s probably not going to last because it deteriorates from the pollution.”

Instead of closing the mines and laying off employees, Cook said the Sylacauga marble companies survived and thrived thanks to a growing need for calcium extracted from marble deposits and used in hundreds of products, such as cosmetics, paints and glue.

“They turned to industry and began to grind up the marble into fine powder – called GCC, ground calcium carbonate – which industry had a strong demand for,” Cook said.

Cook said Sylacauga continues to be a rich marble resource more than 70 years later.

“I’ve been told there’s enough marble there for sculpture and industry for at least another 200 years,” Cook said. “The vein of marble is 35 miles long, a mile and a half wide and goes down quite a ways — 300 or 400 feet I believe. It’s a very valuable resource.”

Sylacauga Marble Festival

Since 2009, the city has celebrated its heritage through the Sylacauga Marble Festival, a 10-day event drawing sculptors from around the world to work alongside an Italian master sculptor. Visitors can watch, tour local quarries and purchase sculptures. Cook said the festival brings Sylacauga’s rich heritage full circle.

“It came from art, up through all of these others, and now you have this wonderful balance,” Cook said. “You still have major industry but you also have major art appreciation. It’s a great story.”

The 12th annual Marble Festival will be March 31 to April 11, 2020.

The 2019 Marble Festival, which was one of several events highlighted by the Alabama Bicentennial Commission as part of the state’s 200th birthday celebration, was sponsored by the Alabama Power FoundationAlabama State Council on the ArtsAlabama Tourism DepartmentAmerican Legion Post 45 SylacaugaArchitectural Stone ImportsB.B. Comer Memorial LibraryBlue Bell CreameriesBlue Horizon TravelCity of Sylacauga, Conn Equipment, Coosa Valley Medical CenterCurtis and Son Funeral HomeImerysIsabel Anderson Comer Museum and Arts CenterJ. Craig Smith Community CenterMiller Lumber CompanyMorris Custom Marble & GraniteNemakOmya, Inc.Pizza & Pint, Representative Ron Johnson, SouthFirst BankSylacauga Arts CouncilSylacauga Chamber of CommerceSylacauga Housing Authority, Sylacauga Marble Quarry, Towne Inn, 21st Century Signs and Utilities Board of Sylacauga.

To learn more about “Magic in Stone: The Sylacauga Marble Story,” visit newsouthbooks.com/magicinstone.

(Courtesy of Alabama NewsCenter)

3 hours ago

Birmingham Business Alliance reveals new mission, economic development approach

The Birmingham Business Alliance revealed a new mission and a new approach to economic development as it heads into 2020.

The BBA’s 2019 Chairwoman’s Annual Meeting was at the Lyric Theatre in Birmingham Dec. 11. Chairwoman Nancy Goedecke passed the gavel to Jim Gorrie, president and CEO of Brasfield & Gorrie.

Gone is Blueprint Birmingham, which guided the BBA through its first 10 years. In its place is a strategy that keys in life sciences, advanced manufacturing and technology. Those are some of the main industries the Alabama Department of Commerce is expected to emphasize in its revision of Accelerate Alabama, the state’s economic development plan.

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“Those are the three areas that we’re going to focus on,” said Fred McCallum, interim CEO of the BBA. “I will tell you that when you look at our state plan, there are a lot of similarities.”

Birmingham Business Alliance announces new direction from Alabama NewsCenter on Vimeo.

A main component to Blueprint Birmingham was a set of metrics that measured Birmingham’s success against a cluster of peer cities. Doing so often looked too broadly, McCallum said.

“Blueprint was a good plan at the time,” he said. “It was very wide and in some ways it was successful and in other ways it wasn’t so successful. I think what we’ve come to now is a point in time where we’ve got to focus in on jobs and economic growth.”

There will be a new set of metrics created and benchmarked in a new BBA strategic plan, McCallum said.

Birmingham Mayor Randall Woodfin did highlight one comparison between Birmingham and other cities.

“Since the great recession around 2008, 60% of all jobs have only gone to 25 cities in America,” Woodfin said. “You need to know that Birmingham is not on that list.”

Woodfin feels Birmingham should measure itself against its own potential instead of comparing itself to others.

“We don’t have to be like Nashville or Chattanooga or Atlanta or Austin,” he said. “We need to be the best version of ourselves. But that is going to require us to shake off the way we’ve always done things.”

Woodfin said the companies and organizations that make up the BBA should be prepared to take greater risks and push boundaries.

“Being risk-averse at this time as we move into 2020 … will not work for us – as an organization or for our city,” he said. “So the question becomes when you walk out of this room, are we prepared to invest in our competitiveness? Do we want to compete? Do we want to set ourselves apart, not be like any other city in America?”

A primary goal for the BBA is to find a new CEO. McCallum has led the organization on an interim basis after former CEO Brian Hilson stepped down at the end of March. Hilson now works on rural economic development initiatives in the state.

Other changes will include aligning the BBA’s internal strategy to execute the new strategic plan, updating its governance structure to be more effective and efficient and aligning the funding model to support the BBA’s new strategic plan.

“I think the organization will be more focused on specific strategies and focused on doing what we do well,” McCallum said.

McCallum believes Birmingham leaders and economic developers can tell the region’s story more forcefully and proactively.

“We’re on a good trajectory. I feel good about where we are as a community,” McCallum said. “Our leadership is strong. Our public leadership is strong. Our private leadership is strong. I feel good about where the BBA is focused.”

This year’s annual meeting was more a call to action than the rah-rah sessions of the past.

“Usually I would get up here and give you all some stats about what we’ve done and what we’ve accomplished,” Woodfin said. “I think it is fair to say that 2019 has been a good year for many of your organizations individually and collectively for our Birmingham Business Alliance.”

It was a good 2019 in the Birmingham metro area. Halfway through the year, the region reached and surpassed its pre-recession height of employment. There were 32 projects with 1,180 jobs and $492.2 million in capital investment announced in the region in 2019.

(Courtesy of Alabama NewsCenter)

The biggest birthday party in Alabama history is TODAY!

The biggest birthday party in Alabama’s history is taking place today, December 14, and you are invited! Join us in Montgomery for the grand finale celebration of our state’s 200th birthday.

Watch the parade, listen to concerts and performances, visit open houses and much more.

This is sure to be a day you don’t want to miss. The event is free to the public and lasts all day starting with an elaborate parade at 10:00 a.m. The parade will travel from Court Square Fountain in downtown Montgomery up Dexter Avenue to the State Capitol. There will be marching bands, city floats and unique displays of Alabama history on wheels, such as the USS Alabama and U.S. Space and Rocket Center.

The parade is a great opportunity for families to enjoy the celebration together – and it’s only the beginning of a packed day. Following the parade, Governor Kay Ivey will dedicate Bicentennial Park. The afternoon will offer performances, exhibitions and open houses throughout downtown Montgomery. The day will conclude with a concert featuring popular musicians from Alabama and the history of Alabama presented in a never-before-seen way.

Visit Alabama 200 Finale for a complete rundown of the day’s events.

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5 hours ago

ADCNR officers help spread Christmas cheer at Academy Sports

Imagine elves filling baskets with goodies to load on Santa’s sleigh and you get a snapshot of what it looked like last week when Academy Sports + Outdoors provided Christmas cheer for numerous youngsters who needed that encouragement the most.

At Academy stores across Alabama, youngsters were chosen to go on shopping sprees with a budget of $150 each, assisted by first responders from the local area. In two locations, Huntsville and Foley, Alabama Conservation and Natural Resources (ADCNR) enforcement officers assisted the kids in choosing the items that were loaded into the shopping carts.

Into the baskets went bows and arrows, footballs, basketballs, soccer balls, clothing, athletic shoes, candy canes and more. The youngsters proved more than adept at keeping track of just how far that gift card would go, counting down until the funding was exhausted.

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“Academy Sports + Outdoors is excited to partner with first responders across the state of Alabama to help 150 children enjoy more sports and outdoor fun this holiday season,” said Rick Burleson, Academy’s Regional Marketing Specialist. “As the shopping destination with the most fun gifts and gear, we look forward to making the holidays merry for our local communities across Alabama.”

Chris Blankenship, ADCNR’s Commissioner, said the shopping events presented a special opportunity for outreach to the younger generation.

“I appreciate Academy Sports + Outdoors for sponsoring this program,” Commissioner Blankenship said. “Opportunities like this where enforcement officers can interact positively with citizens, especially youth, are so valuable for building trust on both sides. Our Conservation Enforcement Officers participate in many programs to promote hunting and fishing for youth. This is just another example of the good people we have in the Department of Conservation and Natural Resources.

“In the photos, you can really see the joy in the faces of the kids, the officers and the employees of Academy Sports + Outdoors. The giving spirit of Academy, our officers and the community is evident in the outpouring of support for this program. With this scene replicated at hundreds of Academy stores all over the country, good relations with law enforcement are being built nationwide and will pay dividends for many years to come. My desire to work in conservation came from encounters such as this with Marine Resources conservation officers when I was a kid. You cannot underestimate what effects the little things like this will have on a person and a community.”

At the Foley event, Conservation Enforcement Officers from the Alabama Wildlife and Freshwater Fisheries (WFF) Division and the Marine Resources Division aided 10 youngsters from the afterschool program at the John McClure Snook Family YMCA in Foley.

Melissa McGhee, associate branch director of the Foley YMCA, said the youngsters ranged in age from 5 to 13.

“All the kids we chose are highly scholarshipped kids,” McGhee said. “They just don’t have a lot. For three of them, this is their Christmas. This was such an honor to be picked for this. When I talked to some of the parents, they just started crying because this is what their kids are doing for Christmas.”

Jason Ford, Academy Store Director in Foley, said providing a venue for officers and youngsters to interact in a positive way during the holiday season was well worth the effort from Academy and the associates who also assisted during the shopping sprees.

“We love that we can reach out to people in our community who are less fortunate,” Ford said. “But it also strengthens the bonds between our first responders and our community. Right now, we can use that unity more than ever. To be able to impact the community in such a positive way really goes a long way in warming my heart, and hopefully seeing the kids gets some good Christmas presents and develop some goodwill with our law enforcement.”

WFF Conservation Officer Steve Schrader wore a perpetual smile while he helped a young lady fill her basket with gifts from shoes to candy cane-shaped containers filled with M&Ms.

“This has been great,” Schrader said. “My shopper has been very generous and has bought more for her family than herself. I hope she now sees us (enforcement officers) more friendly than the other side of the fence. They can see us as real people, too. I think it went really well.”

At the event in Huntsville, Beth Morring with the Boys and Girls Clubs of North Alabama echoed the need for the sponsored kids to find out more about the ADCNR enforcement officers and what those officers actually do.

“Before they started shopping, we asked the Conservation guys to explain what they do every day,” Morring said. “The officers told them how they protected the wildlife and help those who fish and hunt and enjoy the outdoors. It was neat because our kids probably never knew these men and women existed. It was a learning experience just to meet these officers, which was great.”

Morring said 10 kids from the Seminole Boys and Girls Clubs in Huntsville were chosen for the event.

“These were the kids who needed it the most,” she said. “With $150 to shop, we did kind of steer them during their shopping, as did the officers. We started with shoes first and then went to get some essential clothing. They were able to get a goodie or two as well. It was a great time, and everybody wanted new shoes. These kids were predominantly from the public housing area where the club is located, and they were thrilled to get some new, shiny tennis shoes. In fact, some of them wore them out of the store that day, which was fabulous.”

Morring said the event was much more than just a shopping spree for the kids.

“To watch them interact with the officers and for our children to see men and women who serve and protect us, that they are good people,” she said. “Many of our children don’t have as positive an exposure with first responders sometimes. For them to be able to meet these first responders who can talk to them and realize these are dads and moms and husbands and wives – just regular people even though they might be in a uniform. So that positive interaction was so important. That was really impactful for our children.”

Morring said it was great to see the officers meet the kids on the same level.

“I loved watching these big grown-ups with these little children and them kneeling down on the floor to help them try on shoes,” she said. “Not to mention for our children, it was the first time they were able to walk into a store and have a budget for gifts where they got to make the decisions and choices. To watch these kids whose families struggle financially, for them to have $150 and then think about family members before themselves is admirable and amazing in light of their circumstances.”

David Rainer is an award-winning writer who has covered Alabama’s great outdoors for 25 years. The former outdoors editor at the Mobile Press-Register, he writes for Outdoor Alabama, the website of the Alabama Department of Conservation and Natural Resources.

17 hours ago

Ivey visits hometown Camden to commemorate bicentennial — ‘Y’all, Alabama has come a long way’

CAMDEN — On Friday, on the eve of the culmination of Alabama’s Bicentennial celebration set to take place in Montgomery, Gov. Kay Ivey paid a visit to her hometown to take part in an event marking the milestone in her home county of Wilcox.

Not far from where Ivey attended high school as part of Wilcox County High School’s class of 1963, the governor participated in a ceremony that also included Camden Mayor Bill Creswell and Wilcox County Commissioner Bill Albritton.

After offering a list of the state’s achievements, Ivey remarked on how far Alabama had come.

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“During these 200 years, Alabama has celebrated some pretty incredible people and milestones,” she said. “Building a rocket that took a man to the moon, our rich Native American history and culture, becoming the birthplace for civil rights, and becoming an international market for goods and products. Y’all, Alabama has come a long way.”

She also noted that the events leading up to the bicentennial celebration kicked almost immediately after she assumed the role governor in 2017 and led her to make at least one visit in all of Alabama’s 67 counties.

(Jeff Poor/YHN)

While speaking to the press at the return to her hometown, Ivey expressed how great she felt about being back in her hometown and what her goals were as the state heads into its third century.

“We’re proud to be here in Wilcox County and in my hometown of Camden to celebrate the bicentennial of Wilcox County, and tomorrow we’ll celebrate the bicentennial of Alabama. It is sure great to be home,” Ivey stated.

“Certainly, we want to keep the economy going, keep the everybody working, get more people that are not working to work,” she continued. “We just want to make the quality of life in our state really good, so everybody has an opportunity to be and do what they want to do.”

(Jeff Poor/YHN)

Ivey also offered some words of advice for her hometown and county in the pursuit of a better quality of life.

“Y’all just make this place an attractive place to live and do business, have a strong education system so people can put their children in schools, then in touch with the Department of Commerce to get prospects to look us over,” she said.

@Jeff_Poor is a graduate of Auburn University, the editor of Breitbart TV and host of “The Jeff Poor Show” from 2-5 p.m. on WVNN in Huntsville.