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.

13 hours ago

VIDEO: Prisons could be built with COVID-19 funds, Shelby endorses Katie Britt for Senate, Brooks battles with Swalwell as a new poll shows big lead and more on Alabama Politics This Week …

Radio talk show host Dale Jackson and political consultant Mecca Musick take you through Alabama’s biggest political stories, including:

— Will Alabama really use COVID-19 relief funds to build prisons?

— Does Katie Britt’s entering of the U.S. Senate race shake things up, or has U.S. Rep. Mo Brooks (R-Huntsville) already won this race?

— Can U.S. Sen. Joe Manchin (D-WV) keep the more radical members of the Democratic Party at bay?

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Jackson and Musick are joined by former U.S. Attorney Jay Town to discuss the issues facing the state of Alabama this week.

Jackson closes the show with a “Parting Shot” directed at those who want to use the illegally acquired tax returns of the uber-wealthy to push for higher taxes. He argues the released returns show that we should implement a flat tax and do away with all deductions.

Dale Jackson is a contributing writer to Yellowhammer News and hosts a talk show from 7-11 AM weekdays on WVNN and on Talk 99.5 from 10AM to noon.

16 hours ago

Auburn’s David Housel tackles more than sports in ‘From the Backbooth at Chappy’s’

When David Housel retired from Auburn University in 2006, after a legendary career as athletics director for the Tigers, it wasn’t long before his wife urged him to get busy again – and a deli on Glenn Avenue in Auburn was the beneficiary.

“Susan wanted me to do something to get out of the house,” Housel recalls. “I started going to Chappy’s to drink coffee, read the paper. Pretty soon, Kenny Howard would meet me there, and it just kind of grew from there.”

In short order, friends of Housel began to gather, first a few one day a week and then, just prior to the pandemic, 12-16 people nearly every day of the week.

They meet at Chappy’s, where a plaque commemorates Housel’s booth, and they talk – about sports, of course, but about pretty much anything that’s on their minds.

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Housel began to write essays about those mornings, posting them to Facebook. He’s now compiled more than 100 of those pieces into a new book, “From the Backbooth at Chappy’s: Stories of the South: Football, Politics, Religion, and More.” It’s officially released next week at a series of book signings at Chappy’s in the Auburn area from 10 a.m.-2 p.m. each day: Tuesday in Auburn, Wednesday in Montgomery and Thursday in Prattville.

“Consider this Housel unleashed,” the author says. “Most of the stuff I’ve written in my life has been about Auburn on an Auburn platform. Even after I retired, I was a representative of Auburn, even though I wasn’t working there. This is not an Auburn book. It’s about football, politics, religion and more.”

“From the Backbooth at Chappy’s,” with a foreword by Auburn graduate and acclaimed journalist Rheta Grimsley Johnson, evolved as Housel’s morning gatherings at Chappy’s evolved, though he began writing the essays fairly early in the process.

“When something is in your mind, in your heart, in your head, if you’re a writer, it just has to come out, and it just comes through your fingers,” Housel says. “Turns out people like to read it, so I got the Facebook page. I shared thoughts and essays and that kind of thing. It was not a planned thing.”

When COVID-19 came along, Housel decided to listen to a few folks who told him his musings would make a good book.

“I had been thinking a lot about it, and it was time to do it,” Housel says.

Housel has written six other books. Most have to do with Auburn sports history, but one, “From the Desk of David Housel,” is similar to “From the Backbooth at Chappy’s.”

“That one was primarily sports, but it had some other things in it,” Housel says. “This one is about the other stuff, but it has some sports in it.”

Though the three topics in his book’s title – football, politics and religion  – are often the subjects people are warned not to bring up if they want to keep the peace, Housel and his friends don’t shy away from any of them. Housel especially gravitates toward religious topics.

“I like the ones that I hope make people think,” he says of his essays. “The good Lord gave us a mind, and we’re supposed to use it. Too few people who call themselves Christians do what the Lord said and use their minds. … Faith has got to be built not on challenging God but questioning God. I think God likes that, because it shows we’re engaged and that we care.”

Now that the pandemic is ending, the Backbooth at Chappy’s events are slowly but surely returning to normal. On Mondays, Housel eats two eggs scrambled, lean bacon and a helium biscuit; on Tuesdays maybe a parfait with granola; on Wednesdays, it’s blueberry pancakes, and Fridays a waffle.

What remains constant is the conversation. And the writing.

“I’m still writing the Backbooth, and since the first of the year, I’ve written a couple I think are book-worthy,” Housel says. “I started out doing maybe one a week, but I’m old enough that I don’t have to meet a self-imposed deadline. When the spirit moves me, I write.”

(Courtesy of Alabama NewsCenter)

17 hours ago

State Rep. Pringle pushes to ban critical race theory in public schools — ‘Woke culture indoctrination,’ ‘Needs to be stopped in its tracks’

Last week, Florida’s Board of Education banned so-called “critical race theory” from its public schools, and it is a move State Rep. Chris Pringle (R-Mobile) hopes to follow in Alabama.

Critical race theory, a belief that racism is ingrained in some of America’s sacred institutions, is widely panned by critics because it distorts and weaponizes history for political gain.

Friday, Pringle discussed his prefiled bill for the Alabama Legislature’s 2022 regular session to prohibit critical race theory from being taught in Alabama’s public schools.

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“It’s simply a bill that says in public education, you can’t teach or indoctrinate our children with critical race theory,” he said. “People are waking up all around the nation to how bad this stuff is. I mean, this is woke cancel culture gone completely amuck. They want to completely disregard our 14th and 15th Amendment rights, the Voting Rights Act, the Civil Rights Act. If you don’t agree with them — here’s what’s crazy: They want to send you to a reeducation camp. Think about that, a reeducation camp. Don’t they do that in China, Russia and North Korea?  That’s how bad this stuff is. Either you agree with them or you have to be sent off to a reeducation camp.”

“This is just indoctrination — the woke culture indoctrination of our children,” Pringle continued. “That’s all it is and it needs to be stopped in its tracks. I mean, our children need to learn history and we ought to open a frank discussion about history — the good, the bad. But this is not about good or bad. This is teaching our children that our nation is a bad nation, is an evil nation and is not the great country that we live in. We are the safest, freest people in the world and that’s what our children need to learn.”

“Do we have problems? Yeah,” he added. “Have we done bad things? Yeah. But we’re still the greatest nation in the history of the world.”

According to the Mobile County Republican lawmaker, the response to the effort thus far has been positive and supportive.

@Jeff_Poor is a graduate of Auburn University and the University of South Alabama, the editor of Breitbart TV, a columnist for Mobile’s Lagniappe Weekly, and host of Mobile’s “The Jeff Poor Show” from 9 a.m.-12 p.m. on FM Talk 106.5.

21 hours ago

Why Sylacauga marble is known around the world

If you’ve ever visited the Lincoln Memorial in Washington D.C. and stared up at the translucent marble ceiling, you’ve witnessed a piece of Alabama history. The ceiling is made of white marble mined in Talladega County’s Sylacauga (appropriately known as the Marble City).

In addition to lending its natural treasure to some of the nation’s most notable buildings, Sylacauga also holds the title for having the longest deposit of marble in the world. The bed of stone runs 32 miles long, a mile and a half wide, and more than 600 feet deep. The marble found in this quarry is especially desirable for two key characteristics: its purity and its durability. When paired together, these distinct qualities make Alabama marble some of the most desired in the world for large-scale buildings and monuments, as well as homes and sculptures.

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The History of Alabama Marble

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The Sylacauga Quarry (Sylacauga Marble Festival/Facebook)

Marble is formed when limestone is subjected to extreme pressure and heat. In Sylacauga, the conditions are perfect for the formation of metamorphic marble. Sylacauga’s massive deposit was first discovered by Native Americans, but it wasn’t quarried until 1834, 20 years after army surgeon Dr. Edward Gantt stumbled upon the vein while passing through with General Andrew Jackson’s army.

In the years that followed Gantt’s discovery, Sylacauga’s marble business thrived. More quarries popped up, mining the marble for everything from funerary monuments to building projects to sculptures. By the 1960s, the use of the quarried marble shifted toward the utilitarian. Rather than being mined in huge chunks for building material, the marble was being ground down for use in products like cosmetics, diapers, magazine paper, fertilizer, fiberglass, toothpaste, and chewing gum. In 1969, marble was named Alabama’s state rock.

A Timeless Treasure

Sylacauga Quarry (Sylacauga Marble Festival/Facebook)

Today the charge for Alabama marble is being led by the Swindal family, who own Alabama Marble Mineral & Mining Co. (AM3). AM3’s 50-acre quarry in Sylacauga is the world’s only supplier and leading distributor of Alabama marble. Owner Roy Swindal’s goal is to reintroduce the world to Alabama marble, once again marketing it as a prized material for both commercial and consumer construction. According to the Alabama Department of Archives and History, around 30 million tons of marble have been pulled from the ground in Sylacauga since 1900. The Swindals hope to add to that number by continuing and improving upon the state’s tradition for many years to come.

Marble Mania

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Sculptor Enzo Torcoletti at the Sylacauga Marble Festival (Sylacauga Marble Festival/Facebook)

It’s only fitting that a town built on marble pay tribute to the stone that brought its success. For the past 13 years, the city has celebrated its marble mining heritage with the 12-day Magic of Marble Festival. The festival, typically held in April, features several activities and events that are all free and fun for the whole family. Festival participants can take a tour of operational quarries and visit the Gantts/IMERYS Observation Point that overlooks the town’s historic first quarry. The creative side of marble is put on display at Blue Bell Park, where 25 sculptors create original pieces made entirely of marble. On the final day of the festival, the finished pieces are displayed and sold at nearby B.B. Comer Library. Other activities include a 5K run and a scavenger hunt.

If you can’t wait for next year’s festival and you want to see Alabama’s famous white marble in action now, there are several locations around the state to see it put to good use. In Birmingham, try the John Hand Building, Wells Fargo headquarters, City Federal building, or the Chamber of Commerce. If you’re in Montgomery, don’t miss the “Head of Christ” sculpture at the Alabama Department of Archives and History. It was created by Italian sculptor Giuseppe Moretti, who also happens to be the artist behind Birmingham’s Vulcan.

(Courtesy of SoulGrown)

21 hours ago

The economics of paying ransom

The cyberattack on the Colonial Pipeline by the hacker group DarkSide disrupted gasoline supplies across the Southeast. The company caused a stir by paying a 75 Bitcoin ransom to DarkSide. America historically has been opposed to paying evildoers, as reflected in the slogan, “Millions for defense, but not one cent in tribute,” and President Jefferson sending the Navy and Marines to fight the Barbary Pirates.

Ransomware raises many economic issues. A first question is, do hackers ever give the data back if paid? DarkSide provided Colonial Pipeline a key to decrypt their data. According to Proofpoint, this is the norm: 70% of ransom payers got their data back, 20% never got their data back and 10% received a second ransom demand.

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From an economic perspective, this is not surprising. About two dozen groups, identifying themselves by name and known to insurance companies, carry out most of the sophisticated attacks. Insurers would never recommend payment in the future to a group which has reneged. The hackers must deliver as promised to make money.

Some have suggested making payment of ransom for cyberattacks illegal. If no one ever paid ransom, the hackers could not make money. Refusing to pay ransom though faces two significant economic challenges.

The first is time consistency. Kidnapping illustrates this concept. Before an event, the incentive exists to say, “We will never pay ransom.” If the bad guys believe this, they will never invest the time, effort and expense to stage a kidnapping. Once they hold hostages, however, our incentive changes; negotiating just this one time now makes sense. Our policy to never pay ransom is not credible.

Collective action poses the second challenge. Businesses collectively have an interest in not rewarding cybercrime, yet individual businesses suffer these attacks. A business which does not pay ransom benefits other businesses, creating the challenge. Why should Continental Pipeline suffer losses to make other businesses less likely to be attacked?

Why do businesses pay ransom? Reports mention several factors. A business may face a closure of unknown length and cost. Customers’ personal information will be sold if ransom is not paid, leading to fines and bad publicity. And the hackers might sell proprietary information to competitors.

Good economists know better than to second guess business managers’ decisions. Decisions to pay ransom often involve the business’ executives, its insurance carrier and tech security experts. They know the options and likely costs and should make a good decision, despite the pressure of a crisis.

Insurance companies and government regulations reduce organizations’ vulnerability to hackers, which is good. But what about channeling President Jefferson and going after the hackers? Most of the hacker groups operate in Russia, which provides Safe Haven as long as the hackers do not target Russian companies. Some law enforcement options may exist. Federal prosecutors apparently recovered most of the Bitcoins paid to DarkSide.

Crime is a very costly way to transfer wealth. Stolen merchandise typically sells for one-third (or less) of market value. A criminal might have to steal thousands in property to net $1,000. Ransomware appears much more wasteful than traditional theft. Consider just the value of the time Americans spent searching for gas during the disruption. Remember then that the ransom was about $4.4 million.

Cybercrime makes us poorer. The hackers and defenders at tech security companies are highly skilled computer programmers. But instead of making new apps or games, they are hacking or defending existing computer systems. Add to this the service disruption during cyberattacks, the reduced use of technology for fear of being hacked and the time spent on security training. The costs may be $1 trillion annually, or one percent of global GDP.

We must guard here against comparing the real world to an imagined utopia. We cannot costlessly protect our property from thieves or our computers from malware, or make people no longer willing to steal from others. Economics teaches that there are no perfect solutions in life, only tradeoffs. Vigilance, antivirus programs and backup are the tradeoffs we face with cybercrime.

Daniel Sutter is the Charles G. Koch Professor of Economics with the Manuel H. Johnson Center for Political Economy at Troy University and host of Econversations on TrojanVision. The opinions expressed in this column are the author’s and do not necessarily reflect the views of Troy University.