Is Alabama-founded PCA church encouraging gay people to identify by sin?


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NEW PCA CONFERENCE EMPOWERS LGBTQ PEOPLE

TOM LAMPRECHT: Harry, there’s a conference coming up in a PCA church, Presbyterian Church in America, in St. Louis from July 26th through the 28th. The name of the conference is “Revoice”. Todd Pruitt wrote in an article, “The stated purpose of Revoice is supporting, encouraging and empowering gay, lesbian, same-sex attracted and other LGBT Christians so they can experience the life-giving character of the historic Christian tradition.” Harry, anybody who knows anything about the Scriptures would have a large question mark hovering over the top of their head wondering, “Is this right?”

DR. REEDER: Hardly a day goes by without people asking me because I am a minister in a PCA church. When I am asked about it, I say, “Well, I have three issues with this conference.” Let me tell you what one of my issues is not. I do not have a problem with a church hosting a conference to define and discuss and propagate how you call sin “sin” and how do you minister effectively to sinners who are entangled in that sin. I find that commendable if that’s what’s being done.

However, if you frame the conference from a secular world and life view instead of a Biblical world and life view, then I have a problem. Now, let me also say this: I will suspend judgments on the speakers in the conference until I hear what they’ve got to say. I have spoken in situations where you had a rainbow behind my head promoting the LGBTQ, but I came there to speak the truth in love.

And so, I’ll suspend judgment on what people say who participate until I hear what they say but I can and should apply some analysis to the framing of the conference by what has already been said.

What has already been said about Revoice? Well, first of all, it is set up to minister to those — and I quote now from what you have said, which is a quote from the website — “This is a conference established to help LGBTQ Christians” — gay Christians and bisexual Christians — “and to accept and navigate the historic Christian ethic.”

WE DO NOT IDENTIFY OURSELVES BY OUR SIN

It is absolutely unacceptable, untenable and unbiblical to identify any Christian by sin, in general, or by one’s embedded sin or entangling sin. In other words, I minister to people who deal with the issue of sexual promiscuity but I do not identify them, nor do I encourage them to identify themselves as “fornicating Christians” or “promiscuous Christians” or “pornographic Christians.”

We do not take entangling and embedded sins in our life that we are fighting and dealing with as the adjectival modifier of our Christianity. In other words, we don’t modify ourselves as any kind of Christian other than Christ-trusting, Gospel-driven, Spirit-filled … Biblical adjectives can describe us.

Do Christians have entangling sins? Yes. Do Christians have embedded sins? Yes, but one of the great hopes of the Gospel is you are not only forgiven from the penalty and shame of those sins, but you are also liberated from the power of those sins. You may have sin living in you, but you do not live under its dominion and you will be and can be liberated from the practice and eradication of those sins in your life.

WE WILL NOT ATTAIN THE KINGDOM WHILE EMBROILED IN THESE SINS

The Bible says in 1 Corinthians 6 that, “No fornicator, no adulterer, no effeminate, no glutton, no murderer, no drunkard, no homosexual shalt enter the kingdom of God.” Anyone who has surrendered to the idolatry of sin in those listed and there’s nine of them. And, by the way, seven of them were active with great horror in my life prior to my conversion. Some of them, God allowed me to walk away from the day of my conversion and some of them I’ve had to fight my whole life.

However, that’s the point: I don’t surrender to that as my identity in my life because the text goes on to say, “And such were some of you but you’ve been washed.” You’re not only washed with the blood of Jesus, but you’re washed with the power of the Spirit and the Word of God so that you are free from its shame and guilt and condemnation and you are free from its power and increasingly free from its practice.

And to identify any Christian with any sin is absolutely untenable and unbiblical. They may be well-motivated in what they’re doing, but it is counterproductive, unbiblical and untenable to call anyone a “gay Christian” and also to declare that the church is made up of sexual minorities as if there are categories of sexual sin that are embraced as a status within the church. No. Do we minister to sinners saved by grace fighting sexual sins? Yes, but we do not categorize them as minority groups within the church.

SIN IS INTERNAL AND MUST NOT BE PRESENTED TO OUTSIDE TEMPTATION, BUT FLEE

Thirdly, here’s what the Bible says in the Book of James: “Sin is the product of temptation and sinful desires.” Internally, I have a sinful desire — I lust — which is rooted in the idolatry of self. All sin is rooted in the idolatry of self. I am born with sinful desires.

Sin is not a created reality; it is a reality of our fallen nature and, therefore, the sinful desire is internal, whether it’s manifested in thievery, or gluttony, or drunkenness, or sexual promiscuity or sexual perversion, that is the product of my sin nature and, the remnant of it that still resides in me, the Bible calls it “the old man.”

Then there is temptation outside. Now, when temptation outside gets married to sinful desires, its product is sin — that’s its child — so how do I not have the child “sin” in my life? I get rid of sin by fleeing temptation and killing “the old man.” Sinful desires are not syndromes to be managed; they are sins to be mortified — to be killed — every single day. Some of these are very powerful, addictive, entangling sins such as sexual perversion and such as sexual promiscuity, but we don’t manage them — we kill them.

THIS IS NOT A NEW PATH; IT IS UNCHANGEABLE BIBLICAL ETHICS

Finally, we are not trying to help people “navigate a historic Christian tradition.” These are Biblical ethics. Biblical ethics is that sex is a gift from God within marriage and marriage is one man and one woman. That is a Biblical ethic, not a Christian tradition to manage, to tolerate, to conform to. It is a Biblical ethic to embrace in our life because we love the Lord and we love His Law and His Law is a gift to us of love. We don’t love His Law to obey it to be saved, but we love His Law because the one who saved us from our sins has told us this is the way we love Him and we love our neighbor.

Instead of embracing the sinful desires, we kill them. Instead of resisting temptation, we flee it. And that is what is missing in the framing of this conference. Hopefully, some participant is going to raise the clarion call of the Gospel: You can be forgiven of these sins, and you can be liberated from these sins and we are here to help you kill the desires and flee temptation by fixing your eyes on Jesus.

The Christian life is an ethic to embrace out of love to Christ — not simply a ritual or tradition to conform to with a managed life, but with a transformed life — and that’s why the Bible says, “And such were some of you.”

STAY STRONG IN LOVING THE SINNER, BUT HATING THE SIN

I love what Dr. Schaffer said: “I need to identify drunkenness as a sin, I need to identify prostitution and sexual immorality as sin, but I always need to be willing to clean the vomit off up the floor of the drunk and to provide a bed for the prostitute that leads the prostitute to freedom in Christ.”

You do not have to accept the behavior of a sinner in order to love the sinner — that’s a myth that must be dispelled. Nor is it loving the sinner by helping them manage sin. Loving sinners is to send them to the Savior, Who will set them free from its shame, its guilt and its power.

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.

 

10 hours ago

Birmingham-Southern College to impose fee on unvaccinated students

Unless students of Birmingham-Southern College are vaccinated against COVID-19, those who attend the private liberal arts school will be forced to pay a $500 fee “to offset continual weekly antigen testing and quarantining.”

In an email sent to students, the college announced its pandemic protocols for those returning to campus for the fall semester. In what appears to be an effort to encourage students to receive the vaccine, BSC told students it will levy a monetary charge against those who are unvaccinated. The school cited the need for funding to be applied toward COVID-related mitigation measures as a reason for the charge.

The email reads in part, “Due to the lack of federal funds for pandemic precautions this term, all students will initially be charged $500 for the fall term to offset continual weekly antigen testing and quarantining. Students who are fully vaccinated prior to the beginning of fall term will receive an immediate $500 rebate.”

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The college announced in the email that it has also set separate move-in dates for vaccinated and unvaccinated students.

The College Republican Federation of Alabama (CRFA) has condemned the move as discriminatory against students who have chosen not to receive the vaccine.

“The College Republican Federation of Alabama condemns this obvious attack on students who are not vaccinated,” says CRFA chairman Clint Reid. “While vaccines are an important tool in the fight against COVID-19 we are still a free society where one should not be held at ransom to the tune of $500 if they do not feel the vaccine is the best course of action for them. We call on Birmingham-Southern College to drop this outrageous fee.”

The college’s email goes on to direct students who have been immunized against the virus to complete a “Vaccination Report Form.” BSC stated that the school’s goal is to achieve an 85% vaccination rate among students, faculty and staff.

Portion of the email sent to BSC students as follows obtained by Yellowhammer News: 

Birmingham-Southern College did not respond to a request for comment. Yellowhammer News has inquired with the Attorney General’s Office regarding the legality of BSC’s guidelines and will provide updates accordingly.

Dylan Smith is a staff writer for Yellowhammer News. You can follow him on Twitter @DylanSmithAL

11 hours ago

Tim James: A house divided against itself cannot stand

Last week the discussion of COVID vaccination burst into the news and ripped the scab right off the wound exposing the divide among Alabamians about whether to vaccinate or not. We all know there can be tense moments among friends and family when the vaccine topic comes up especially when there are differing opinions in the room.

Well, last week the discussion hit a fever pitch on a grand scale and landed on the front pages of the national news outlets. According to news reports, in Alabama, there are about 2.5 to 3 million people that have CHOSEN NOT to take the vaccine out of the state’s population of 5.1 million. Approximately 60% of all Alabamians have made this their personal health choice.

I am writing this letter today to express my distaste for those bent on shaming people in which they disagree on the vaccine issue. They divide Alabamians into two classes: the vaccinated and the unvaccinated. The media’s contempt is in overdrive for anyone that dares to disagree and not blindly follow the government directives. So, they shame by spewing their poison proclaiming the unvaccinated are the problem. Their assertion of “Blame” by extension means the unvaccinated are responsible for the spread of COVID. If you want to blame someone or something, blame the virus and the makers of it. As everybody knows, it was not the bats.

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The problem is not the unvaccinated, but rather those spawning division among the population. It’s the BLAME GAME.

They shake their fingers in the face of millions of Alabama citizens for refusing to take the vaccine and are beside themselves when everyone does not fall in line like sheep. I guess the unvaccinated are the “New Deplorables.”

I’ve listened to their shaming long enough and felt it was time to stand up for millions of Alabamians that have made their decision, over the many months, NOT to take the vaccine. I fall into this category; however, like most families I have family members that have chosen TO take the vaccine. Alabamians know full well what is going on in their communities, local hospitals, nursing homes and churches. They are not ignorant to the medical realities and associated risks. Neither are they reckless or selfish.

Every unvaccinated person has considered whether to take the vaccine for months. They have discussed the matter with others, prayed about it and even may have tolled back and forth on the decision. In the end, their “call” was to not take the vaccine for their own personal reasons. I can’t help but wonder why so many vaccinated people lecture everyone else when they themselves have marginal health risk as they are the vaccinated class.

Has it occurred to them that their shaming is certain to follow children into the classroom in the form of bullying? Do they care about young women in childbearing years who are rightfully cautious about what goes into their bodies? It’s ironic that people that CHOOSE NOT to take the vaccine are labeled dissenters even though they are the majority in Alabama and cross all races and political lines.

Going forward I want to encourage people to take a deep breath and stand back from the situation. COVID, of course can be lethal, but at the same time the odds of fatality are extremely low. This is one of those times when we must not succumb to fear. Fear is the root from which anxiety and worry bud.

Fear is a weapon used to manipulate the public, and the press is its enabler. The Lord speaks to the issue of fear through the Apostle Paul. “For God hath not given a spirit of fear but of power and sound mind” – 2 Timothy 1:7

I also would like to take this opportunity to say something about Governor Ivey’s statement last week concerning unvaccinated Alabamians. She said, “It’s time to start blaming the unvaccinated folks, not the regular folks. It’s the unvaccinated folks that are letting us down.”

The unvaccinated people represent approximately 60% of the population in our state. The Governor’s comments triggered uncontrollable elation and gaiety from politicians and news anchors at CNN, NBC and others. As one could expect, President Biden and Dr. Fauci were ecstatic at Alabamians being scolded by their Governor over this issue. I believe the Governor’s comments were off-base. I also believe she likely misspoke in the heat of the moment; something any of us could do. As we navigate forward, we need to lower the tone and not take the bait of those whose goal is to sow seeds of division amongst Alabamians.

I have a message for the American press corps concerning their hysterical, fear-based coverage of the pandemic.

It’s a quote from Edward R. Murrow, the great broadcast journalist during the first half of the 20th century.

He effectively warned his fellow journalists what would happen if the free press became compromised. He wrote: “No one can terrorize a whole nation unless we are his accomplices.”

Tim James, the son of former Gov. Fob James, is a Greenville, Alabama businessman. He was a 2010 GOP candidate for governor.

11 hours ago

Regions names Jason Isbell senior vice president of state government affairs and economic development

Regions Bank has tapped one of the state’s foremost experts on banking law and government affairs to serve as senior vice president of state government affairs and economic development.

Jason Isbell comes to the Birmingham-based bank brandishing nearly two decades of legal and government affairs experience in the public and private sectors.

Elizabeth Taylor, head of government affairs and economic development for Regions, highlighted Isbell’s depth of knowledge and relationships throughout the industry.

“Regions Bank has a strong history of working with government leaders and other stakeholder groups on issues impacting our associates, customers and communities,” Taylor said in a statement to Yellowhammer News. “Jason Isbell brings a wealth of knowledge and experience on a variety of financial services matters to this role. His work building relationships and navigating a myriad of legislative issues will serve us well. We look forward to his service advancing economic development opportunities that move our communities forward while also building on the strong relationships we have in the areas Regions serves.”

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Isbell most recently worked with Maynard Cooper & Gale where he represented a wide array of clients, including Regions, as an attorney and lobbyist in the firm’s Government Solutions Group.

Prior to his time at Maynard Cooper, he held the position of vice president for legal and governmental affairs at the Alabama Bankers Association (ABA). Isbell was charged with implementing ABA’s legislative and regulatory agendas at both the state and federal levels. He honed his skills in public policy during his 11 years in state government, first as a fiscal analyst for the Alabama Legislative Fiscal Office and then as general counsel to the Speaker of the House of Representatives.

Isbell is a member of the Faulkner University board of trustees and is a graduate of the school’s Thomas Goode Jones School of Law.

Regions Financial Corporation recently reported $748 million in second quarter earnings. The company cited strategic decisions in high-growth areas, such as Florida, Texas and Tennessee, as contributing to those earnings.

Isbell noted the momentum of the bank’s growth and influence throughout its footprint as he prepares for this new endeavor.

“I’m excited to represent an institution with such a rich history and stellar reputation,” he told Yellowhammer News. “Regions Bank is poised to continue making a positive impact on communities in Alabama and beyond. I’m grateful for this opportunity and look forward to being part of the Regions team.”

Isbell is set to officially join the bank in mid-August.

RELATED: Joia M. Johnson appointed to Regions board of directors

Tim Howe is an owner of Yellowhammer Multimedia

12 hours ago

State Rep. Wes Allen: Biden administration’s mixed message on COVID shows he doesn’t put Americans first

The Biden administration is issuing warnings to Americans regarding the increasing number of COVID cases across the country. Calls for a return to mask-wearing and social distancing are becoming more frequent from the President and his advisors.

Businesses, large and small, fear the possibility of mandated shutdowns that plagued our nation last year. Parents are wondering if they will be forced to face the inadequacies and challenges of remote schooling again. These are all worries that are being forced upon law-abiding, tax-paying Americans by the Biden administration.

But it goes further. Our northern border with Canada remains closed to non-essential travel for fear of spreading the virus. Biden and his team cited concerns over the Delta variant as the reason for banning travel from 26 nations including most of Europe, South Africa and Brazil.

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This all seems like a concerned President who is trying to save our nation from the death and damage of a pandemic. But a closer look at Biden’s policies proves that his concern is not for Americans and he has little to no desire to stop the spread of COVID from coming across our border.

His policy that allows thousands of illegal immigrants to move freely across our southern border and into our towns, neighborhoods, restaurants and schools without any regard for their immigration status or their COVID test results prove that the Biden administration doesn’t care about America or Americans. Is the health of Americans, the success of our economy and the fate of our schools and health care system of any concern to this President or his advisors?

I think not.

State Rep. Wes Allen is a Republican candidate for Alabama Secretary of State.

12 hours ago

Alabama League of Municipalities launches Economic Development Academy

The Alabama League of Municipalities (ALM) on Thursday announced the creation of its Economic Development Academy, which will partner with local leaders in an educational capacity to offer their assistance regarding business and industry recruitment practices.

Developed in conjunction with the Alabama Community College System (ACCS) and supported by an advisory council of industry leaders, the Academy will engage local leaders and help them further understand their role in the economic development process.

The Academy is specifically designed to educate and engage municipal officials and designated community business leaders on best practices and strategies for successful economic and community development. Additionally, the ALM says the Academy will focus on the role of elected officials regarding evaluating abatements, legal processes and implications, correctly marketing the community, gaging the community’s expectations, workforce development as well as other key aspects of the development process.

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ALM says the Academy is unique from other economic development programs in that it is tailored to municipal officials using a team model. The mayor or another designated elected or administrative official and at least two council members are required to participate from each community to form a team of up to five members.

In promoting the new program, ALM executive director Greg Cochran conveyed the importance of economic development efforts that take place at the local level.

“Our organization is pleased to collaborate with the Alabama Community College System and Neal Wade to launch the ALM Economic Development Academy,” said Cochran. “It is our goal for the Academy to develop intentional programming and identify resources to empower our municipal officials so they can create legacy programs and projects within their cities and towns. Municipalities are the foundation of our state’s economy, and it is the League’s mission to provide our members the necessary tools to build a community where citizens can live, work, play and prosper and where businesses can thrive.”

The Academy will take place over a full year and consists of an orientation; four one-day sessions that include community assignments; and a special graduation ceremony. To graduate, participants must conduct an economic vitality survey of their communities; complete a community assessment/project; and attend all sessions.

At the conclusion of the year-long program, graduates will be presented a certificate of municipal economic development from the League and ACCS.

Neal Wade, former head of the Alabama Development Office as well as a consultant for Alabama Power, The St. Joe Company and the Economic Development Partnership of Alabama, has been tapped to develop the Academy’s curriculum and conduct the classes.

“The objective is for Alabama communities to be the best they can be and competitive for growth and new revenue,” Wade said. “Setting realistic expectations for each community will be foremost.”

In addition to working with Wade, the League has developed a partnership with ACCS to provide classroom space and workforce development resources for Academy participants. The four mandatory sessions for selected municipalities will be conducted at ACCS campuses throughout the state based on each region.

Chancellor Jimmy Baker praised the partnership and expressed his optimism on the potential growth opportunities he believes can stem from the Academy.

“At Alabama’s community colleges, everything we do is workforce development – from education and training to providing wraparound services and hosting community events,” Baker said. “We are honored to work alongside the Alabama League of Municipalities to launch the Economic Development Academy and host its participants at our campuses across the state. Education is so often the linchpin to positive change and the resources and training this effort will provide will have a positive impact on Alabama for years to come.”

An Academy Advisory Council has been developed to add input, assist with training and provide additional resources to the process. The Council consists of state and federal government agencies, ACCS presidents, utility partners, League strategic partners, local economic developers and statewide business associations.

Academy applications will be accepted via the League’s website July 29 – August 31. Applicants will be thoroughly evaluated and candidates chosen by mid-September. There is a community fee to participate.

Those interested in attending the Academy may apply via online application at almonline.org.

Dylan Smith is a staff writer for Yellowhammer News. You can follow him on Twitter @DylanSmithAL