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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.

3 hours ago

The surprising link between Alabama seafood, timber and U.S. national security, and how Shelby is leading the way

There are plenty of areas of debate over exactly how and where the U.S. should spend its foreign aid dollars. But for Alabamians in particular — and the entire Gulf Coast region more broadly — the international assistance that flows into cracking down on illegal wildlife trafficking is paying massive dividends, both economically and, perhaps more surprisingly, in terms of national security.

A survey by the Kaiser Family Foundation indicates Americans grossly overestimate the amount the federal government spends on foreign aid.  The average answer was foreign aid accounts for a whopping 31 percent of spending. Fifteen percent of respondents actually thought it represented over half of the U.S. budget.

In reality, according to the Congressional Research Service, it accounts for about 1 percent total when military, economic development and humanitarian efforts are combined.  And it is paying massive dividends for Alabama.

Here’s how:

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First, foreign aid dollars fund multi-nation efforts to combat illegal trade in timber and fish. These illicit practices cost U.S. foresters and fishers billions of dollars in lost revenue every single year by flooding the market and driving down prices.

According to the Alabama Department of Commerce, “Alabama has the second largest commercial timberland base in the U.S., with 23 million acres. Forestry is the state’s second largest manufacturing industry, producing an estimated $14.8 billion worth of products in 2013, the latest data available.” Alabama also ranked second in the country in fish production. By cracking down on the black-market trading of timber and fish, our foreign aid dollars are protecting Alabama jobs.

Second, foreign aid that flows into international conservation efforts, which has enjoyed bipartisan support for decades, helps countries manage their natural resources sustainably. This prevents the scarcity of water, food or forests that often contributes to instability and sparks regional conflicts.

Third, cracking down on illegal wildlife trafficking cuts off a major source of income for armed groups and organizations with terrorist ties throughout the world, many of which pose a direct threat to American interests.

A report by the United Nations and Interpol found that the “illegal wildlife trade worth up to $213 billion a year is funding organized crime, including global terror groups and militias.” Additionally, “the annual trade of up to $100 billion in illegal logging is helping line the pockets of mafia, Islamist extremists and rebel movements, including Somalia’s Al-Qaeda linked terror group al-Shabaab.”

Fortunately, Sen. Richard Shelby (R-Ala.), who recently rose to the powerful post of Chairman of the Appropriations Committee, has remained a staunch supporter of ensuring that resources continue to flow into efforts to combat the illegal trade in timber and fish.

“The Committee has worked together to strike the appropriate balance between the competing priorities of law enforcement, national security, scientific advancement, and economic development,” Shelby said after announcing critical funding for Fiscal Year 2018. “Additionally, the measure includes necessary oversight provisions to fight waste, fraud, and abuse. This is a step forward in maintaining critical funding for core programs and addressing the needs of our nation while staying within our spending boundaries.”

The move did not go unnoticed by leaders in the seafood industry, a major source of economic activity in all Gulf States, including Alabama.

“We cannot thank Senator Shelby enough,” said Southern Shrimp Alliance Executive Director John Williams after fiscal year 2018 appropriation. “Their extraordinary efforts ensure the survival of the domestic shrimp fishery in the face of what has been an endless stream of illegal shrimp imports.”

Support for foreign assistance and international conservation is smart domestic policy. It protects our economy and cuts off the flow of cash to criminals and terrorists. Sen. Shelby and the bipartisan coalition of lawmakers from whom he has helped rally support deserve recognition and praise for their leadership.

Allison Ross is the owner of Yellowhammer News.

 

 

3 hours ago

What’s wrong with Calhoun County’s economy?

Earlier this week, Zippia, one of the many job search websites out there, released its list of 2018’s 50 worst job markets in America. Only one in Alabama made the list: Anniston-Jacksonville, AL, which came in at number 43.

That’s not bad given what we’re told about Alabama and poverty. But it does raise one question: Why are Anniston and its surrounding areas struggling compared to other similar places in the state?

Although unemployment in Calhoun County is not nearly as high as counties in the Black Belt, compared to other quasi-urban areas of Alabama, Calhoun has the highest unemployment rate, coming in at 5.9 percent according to data posted recently on the Alabama Department of Labor’s website.

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That far exceeds the seasonally adjusted numbers for the state of Alabama, at 4.1 percent, and nationally, at 4 percent.

So, what gives? Why does Calhoun County struggle economically?

“It’s a good question,” Rep. Mike Rogers (R-Saks) said in response to that in an interview with Yellowhammer News back in April. “I saw those numbers come out for my congressional district and Calhoun County had the highest unemployment rate, still. It is better than it has been, but I don’t know the answer to that question.”

Rogers said part of the answer to that question may be tied to military spending during the Obama administration and its impact on the nearby Anniston Army Depot.

“[T]here was a real downsizing at the Depot,” he added. “They had had a couple more thousand employees than they have now at the height of the war and there had been a downsizing since the drawback from Iraq and Afghanistan. You don’t need to refurbish as much equipment. But now they’re trying to ramp back up as we try to rebuild our military.”

He credited the potential for a turnaround in that trend to President Donald Trump’s commitment to the military.

Beyond that, why isn’t Calhoun County booming? It seems like every other day, Gov. Kay Ivey is announcing a new addition or manufacturing facility in the Huntsville area that includes a ribbon-cutting ceremony.

Let’s compare the Anniston-Oxford area to another economic hot spot in Rogers district, the Auburn-Opelika area.  Although Lee County isn’t quite enjoying the successes of Madison and Limestone Counties, it seems to be growing. Its unemployment rate is 4.7 percent – a little higher. But when you look around Auburn and Opelika, there are all kinds of new commercial and residential construction projects.

That doesn’t seem to be a trend in Anniston and Oxford.

Both Lee and Calhoun Counties have some similarities. Having Auburn University in Lee County is a big difference. Besides that, the two approximately the same distance from Atlanta and its international airport. The two are served by the Interstate Highway System – I-20 in Calhoun County and I-85 in Lee County.

If Lee County can make it work, then why not Calhoun County?

Getting to the bottom of determining what is ailing Calhoun County is not an easy chore. Although reading the pages of The Anniston Star is not quite the adventures of “Alice in Wonderland” it was when H. Brandt Ayers was in charge, under Josephine Ayers and Anthony Cook, it still tends to dwell in the politics outside of Calhoun County.

Addressing Calhoun County’s struggles is a politically worthwhile endeavor. While Kay Ivey is patting herself on the back for economic prosperity in north Alabama at plant-opening ceremony number 105, and Walt Maddox is championing his heroics in Tuscaloosa post-2011 tornado devastation, what about Anniston? What about Oxford? What about Jacksonville?

From an outsider’s perspective, there seems to be a presentable case for manufacturing to make Calhoun County a home given its infrastructure and proximities it Atlanta and Birmingham. But first, we need to determine what’s behind its current struggles.

@Jeff_Poor is a graduate of Auburn University and is the editor of Breitbart TV.

4 hours ago

Six vote difference: Republicans Todd Rauch and Debbie Wood in tight race for House District 38

Todd Rauch and Debbie Wood are in a tight race to become the Republican nominee for House District 38, where only six votes separate the two candidates. Wood has 2,165 votes to Rauch’s 2,159 votes.

The number is well within Rauch’s reach considering there are still votes to be counted.

A winner won’t be declared until at least next Tuesday, July 24, when provisional ballots are officially counted and even then, it could take longer for Secretary of State John Merrill to certify the results officially declaring a winner.

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“There’s never a winner until everything is certified,” Secretary of State John Merrill told Yellowhammer News.

Even in the case of such a wide margin as Attorney General Steve Marshall has over Troy King – 62 to 38 percent – there is still no official winner because it hasn’t been certified, Merrill said.

Provisional ballots are provided to those whose names do not appear on the voter roles when they show up to vote but who insist they belong, and still want to vote.

In order to have their votes counted, those who participate in the provisional process must prove to the board of registrar’s office that they ought to be on the roles.

@jeremywbeaman is a contributing writer for Yellowhammer News

5 hours ago

Alabamians less likely to be understood by ‘Alexa’ and other ‘smart’ tech because of southern accents

The remarkable drawl that embodies Southern culture may be responsible for the frustration many Alabamians feel when trying to get their smart tech to answer a question. The repeated “Sorry, I didn’t get that” can lead people with accents to underutilize voice-activated devices such as Alexa and Google Home that are rapidly growing in popularity.

study conducted by the Washington Post and two research groups revealed people with Southern accents were three percent less likely to get accurate responses from a Google Home device than those with Western accents.  Foreign accents face the largest challenge with 30 percent more inaccuracies.

But, help is on the way.

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According to the study, the artificial intelligence used in programming the technology is taught to comprehend different accents by processing data from a variety of voices.  The more it learns, the more accurate the programming will become.  Even though these tools may be more useful for some people at the moment, Amazon, the maker of the smart home product Alexa, says to keep trying.

“The more we hear voices that follow certain speech patterns or have certain accents, the easier we find it to understand them.  For Alexa, this no different,” Amazon said in a statement.  “As more people speak to Alexa, and with various accents, Alexa’s understanding will improve.”

Over 20 percent of U.S. households with WiFi utilize smart speakers, and the number of users is growing.  Hopefully, for the benefit of Alabamians, that growth will happen in the South.

Allison Ross is the owner of Yellowhammer News.

Learning from President Trump: Words matter

“I don’t see any reason why it would be”.

Those words, voiced by President Trump when asked whether he believed it was true that Russia interfered with the 2016 election, set off a media firestorm early this week.

Trump, of course, is used to media criticism, but this time was different. Joining the normal critics were a multitude of Fox News hosts including Neil Cavuto, Bret Baier, Brit Hume, Dana Perino, and even Brian Kilmeade of the oft-lauded by Trump Fox and Friends.

The morning after Trump’s press conference with President Putin, Kilmeade spoke in second person “you” language and pleaded for President Trump to clarify his statement and his belief in our intelligence agencies over Russians who, as Kilmeade said “hate democracy.”

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To his credit, Trump – who had previously agreed that Russian meddling existed – corrected his statement within twenty-four hours.

Regardless of whether his clarification was believable or timely, this episode reminds us that in politics and government – and in everyday life – words matter.

19thcentury German philosopher Friedrich Nietzsche recognized the power of words. Nietzsche wrote, “All I need is a sheet of paper, and something to write with, and then I can turn the world upside down”.

Nietzsche’s statement wasn’t merely hypothetical. His declaration that “God is dead” shattered worldviews across western civilization into pieces that PureFlix (the movie company behind God’s Not Dead and its sequels) is still trying to pick up.

Even so, it seems that many have forgotten the power of words and have embraced the idea that simply being heard, regardless of content, is of utmost importance.

In NBC’s hit show The Office, Michael Scott tells viewers, “Sometimes I’ll start a sentence and I don’t even know where it’s going. I just hope I find it along the way.” I think a lot of us are more like Michael Scott than we’d like to admit.

We might do well to envision more intentional dialogue from ourselves and from our elected officials, especially our state and local representatives.

In an environment where soundbites are everything, Trump’s statements in Helsinki and the backlash that ensued ought to prompt Alabama officials and candidates to rethink any “wing it” sympathies they may have towards public statements, press conferences, or tweets.

This is even more important in the post-primary period of our election cycle.

Now that the nominees are chosen, we must remind each of their responsibility as leaders to use words, strategies, and express differences in a way that is less divisive and more unifying, less bombastic and more genuine. Our officials and candidates should think twice before resorting to name-calling or vilifying their opponents, as doing so endorses that type of behavior and lowers the standard of Alabamians for those who represent them.

We should also expect, now that the in-fighting of our primary process is over, nominees to run thoughtful campaigns where issues, not personalities, are articulately debated.

Candidates and regular Alabamians alike must remember that words yield tremendous power. Therefore, as Roald Dahl, the author of Charlie and the Chocolate Factory, the BFG, and Matilda, suggests, “Don’t gobblefunk around with words”.

Parker Snider is Manager of Policy Relations for the Alabama Policy Institute, an independent, nonpartisan, nonprofit research and educational organization dedicated to strengthening free enterprise, defending limited government, and championing strong families.