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.

 

34 mins ago

Marsh bill to repeal Common Core approved by Senate committee

MONTGOMERY — Senate President Pro Tem Del Marsh’s (R-Anniston) bill to eliminate Common Core in the state of Alabama was given a unanimous favorable recommendation by the Senate’s Education Policy Committee on Wednesday.

The bill, SB 119, is now set to be debated and considered on the Senate floor Thursday.

Marsh spoke about this bill during Yellowhammer Multimedia’s “News Shaper” event in Montgomery Tuesday evening after he filed the bill earlier that day.

He acknowledged that he has been a proponent of letting the state school board set education curriculum and standards policy in the past and even stopped an effort to repeal Common Core a few years ago. However, in Marsh’s view, Common Core has been given a chance now and it is time for the legislature to step in.

“It’s not working. I think we have to have some radical change with education policy in this state. And y’all know me, I’ve pushed a lot of things –  public charter schools, the Accountability Act. We’ve got to address this issue and it’s critical for this state,” Marsh said.

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He said eliminating Common Core would “clear the field” so the state could then move forward to better education outcomes.

Alabama would come up with its own high standards, premised on local control, under Marsh’s proposal.

He said his bill is cosponsored by all 27 of his Republican Senate colleagues and he expects SB 119 to pass the chamber and then receive similarly strong support in the House.

“I am committed to moving to a different standard that’s right for Alabama and moves us forward,” Marsh emphasized.

He also advised that there is a high level of politics involved in education decisions in the state but that sound policy must come first.

“[T]he education community, who I’ve asked to get this fixed, who have not addressed this, quite honestly I don’t think has put us in shape to move forward to address the problem at present. But I’m going to do all I can to see that it happens,” Marsh added.

Democrats on the Senate Education Policy Committee spoke in favor of keeping Common Core on Wednesday.

A career public school teacher from Lee County spoke in favor of eliminating Common Core at the hearing, while representatives from the state school superintendents association and the school boards association had concerns about the implementation of new standards.

Marsh said his bill will be amended before a vote by the full Senate to allow another national standard to be used if found to be best for Alabama, as the current language in his bill would ban any national standard from being adopted by the state school board.

Update, 11:35 a.m.:

State Sen. Sam Givhan (R-Huntsville) released a statement in support of Marsh’s bill.

“I strongly support Senator Marsh’s bill,” Givhan said. “The Common Core standards just haven’t worked for Alabama’s students, and the proof is evident in the data. In 2017, Alabama’s 8th grade math scores ranked 49th among the 50 states, and math scores for 4th grade students were 45th in the nation, according to the National Assessment of Educational Progress (NAEP). Common Core’s curriculum standards and guidelines have been in place for nine years, and they have failed Alabama’s students. It’s clear we need to look at alternative educational methods, with an emphasis on returning as much control as possible back to the local school districts.”

Sean Ross is a staff writer for Yellowhammer News. You can follow him on Twitter @sean_yhn

1 hour ago

Marsh, McCutcheon talk lottery, ethics clarifications at Yellowhammer ‘News Shaper’ event

MONTGOMERY — Speaking Tuesday evening at Yellowhammer Multimedia’s first “News Shaper” event of 2019, Alabama Senate President Pro Tem Del Marsh (R-Anniston) and House Speaker Mac McCutcheon (R-Monrovia) provided their insight on some of the hot-button topics expected to be debated during the legislature’s ongoing regular session.

Yellowhammer owner and editor Tim Howe, who moderated the discussion, outlined uncertainty in the state’s ethics laws brought on by recent court and ethics commission decisions. Howe then asked the two leaders how they think the legislature can provide certainty and codified clarification moving forward, especially when it comes to defining a “principal.”

“There is no doubt that there’s a lot of uncertainty in the ethics legislation,” Marsh said. “The [Alabama Code of Ethics Clarification and Reform Commission] was set up to look over this, but in addition to that, both the Senate and the House – in the Senate you have Greg Albritton and in the House [you have] Mike Jones – working throughout the entire break on how we address this.”

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“And remember,” Marsh continued, “it’s not about 140 legislators, there are 50,000 people in the state of Alabama affected by the ethics law. I’m going to make a plea to my colleagues, some of whom are in this room tonight: If it’s going to be fixed, we’ve got to fix it.”

He emphasized, “[I]t’s not going to get any easier. You’ve got to face the issues. You’ve got to address it and realize this is about much [more] than the legislature. So, I’m hopeful.

Marsh also noted that the uncertainty in the ethics law has “affected economic development.”

“There’s a section there where the economic developers are having problems keeping the [confidentiality] in the process of recruiting industries. We’ve got to address this,” he advised. “And I’m hopeful that we will address it this year.”

Marsh added, “I know that both Senator Albritton and Representative Jones have been in conversation with the attorney general and the ethics commission, as well. So we’re going down a path to try and get everybody on the same page. But we have got to -trust me, ladies and gentleman – we have best fix this. It’s got to be done.”

Howe then asked Marsh to articulate why certainty in the ethics law for economic development professionals is important not just for them, but for the entire state and each of its residents.

“[I]t’s important for the state, because we’re competing with all of the other states,” Marsh said.

He used the example of a piece of legislation passed out of committee that very day largely dealing with Polaris vehicles built in north Alabama and explained that the site selection process requires confidentiality, with most economic development recruitment projects being given code names.

“Because we’re competing against other states. And if we’re not able to keep that degree of secrecy at that stage of the game, we’re at a disadvantage to our neighbors,” Marsh explained.

He concluded, “So this is something that we have got to address. But I’m going to say this: that’s [only] a piece of it. And there’s going to be an attempt by the business community and economic developers to pass the piece. But I think it’s [incumbent] upon us to pass the big picture, solve all the problems, because you want as many people with you, supporting you, to make the changes. Every time you carve off a little piece, you lose some support. So, as I said, I want to help everybody, but I’m committed to the big picture.”

Lottery

Howe later asked the speaker if the time has come for a lottery proposal to pass the legislature and reach a referendum of the people.

“I think so,” McCutcheon responded. “I think it’s been coming for several years. I know that the districts, House districts, that are [bordering other states], most of those districts have seen a significant shift over the last seven or eight years because they see Alabamians driving across the state line to buy lottery tickets.”

He continued, “And people are starting to talk about it, and they’re starting to make it part of their discussion around the dinner table. … At the end of the day, there’s a good push from the people.”

McCutcheon did emphasize what he viewed as key to a successful lottery discussion.

“If we’re going to put this to a vote of the people, and I think it has a good chance of passing, we need to make sure that people understand what they’re voting on,” he outlined. “That’s very, very important. We don’t want to cloud the issue with the definition of a ‘lottery’ and try to sneak something in the back door. Let’s make sure the people understand in their minds what a lottery is and we define it in such a way that they know what they’re voting on.”

“Then, I think the next big debate will be, ‘Where’s the money [lottery revenue] going to go?’ And that will be something that we’ll have to contend with,” McCutcheon concluded.

This came the same day that Senator Jim McClendon (R-Springville) filed a lottery proposal that was soon after called not “clean” by the Poarch Band of Creek Indians, who said McClendon’s legislation would legalize slot machines in a select few places in the state.

Watch the entire discussion:

Sean Ross is a staff writer for Yellowhammer News. You can follow him on Twitter @sean_yhn

After 133 launches, Alabama built rockets boast 100% mission success

Thank you to the United Launch Alliance team and the entire workforce surrounding another successful launch.  Alabama’s Decatur based facility brings the utmost precision, passion and purpose to one of the most technically complex, critical American needs: affordable, reliable access to space.

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2 hours ago

Bipartisan bill to regulate vaping set for House committee hearing

MONTGOMERY — Alabama is currently one of only three states to not regulate vaping, but that could soon change.

HB 41, sponsored by Republican Rep. Shane Stringer and Democrat Rep. Barbara Drummond, both of Mobile County, is on the House Judiciary Committee’s agenda for Wednesday afternoon.

The bill would regulate the sale, use and advertisement of vaping – or “alternative nicotine products” – in the state.

In an interview with Yellowhammer News, both Drummond and Stringer emphasized that their bill is intended to protect the health and wellbeing of Alabama minors.

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“The motivation is simple,” Drummond emphasized. “We are trying to safeguard the teens in the state of Alabama.”

She outlined, “Vape shops, as it stands right now, are not regulated at all… And the bill came about because our drug education council locally brought it to our attention, but [Stringer and I] have both seen ourselves, as well as throughout the whole state, the rise of vape shops. They’re popping up everywhere in the state of Alabama.”

While it is too early to tell what vaping is directly doing to users’ health, Stringer and Drummond emphasized there is an objective gateway effect from vaping use and to smoking traditional cigarettes.

“Right now, there is no data that says what is the [direct] effect that these products are having on our young people. What we are seeing, and this is a national trend, is that you’re seeing smoking not going down, but increasing, among young people,” Drummond explained.

Stringer, a career law enforcement officer with stints as chief of multiple local police departments, said educators from every corner of Mobile County have voiced their concerns with the lack of state oversight on vape products and retailers “saying this is an epidemic and a problem what we need to address.”

“The products haven’t been out long enough to know the problems we could face in five, ten, 15 years from now,” he said. “It’s pretty similar to when smoking came out. There was basically no risk at that time, according to everyone. Now, look at all the data that we have to go with smoking… this is a new product we’re learning every day about.”

Stringer said statistics they were shown from the drug education council show an approximately 34 percent increase in children under 19-years-old that tried smoking after vaping.

“In Alabama, we don’t want to wake up one day and see the effects, negative effects on our kids,” Drummond added. “Right now, we’re trying to be responsible legislators to make sure that we look out for the welfare of our children.”

The two lawmakers also stressed that not only do vape shop operators have no restrictions on them, but the state has no way to even keep track of them currently.

Their bill would make it illegal to sell or give vape products to anyone under 19-years-old. The Alcoholic Beverage Control Board would regulate retail sales of the products, just as they do tobacco products. Retailers would have to obtain an annual permit, which includes an application fee of $300. Retailers would also have to comply with relevant FDA regulations and post signage warning of the dangers of nicotine usage.

Using vape products in certain places, including schools and child care facilities, would be prohibited.

‘This is something that is nonpartisan, it’s not anything that is about Republican or Democrat. This is something about our young people,” Drummond said. “Because if you look at the amount of nicotine that is showing up in these products, when they first hit the market, the nicotine levels were very low – like five percent. Now, it’s gone up to about ten percent. They’ve got other chemicals in there, like formaldehyde. What is the effect of that upon the brains of our kids? So, this is more of a public wellbeing bill for us.”

Stringer advised that he foresees widespread support in the legislature for the bill.

“Everyone agrees that there has to be some checks and balances [oversight] in place,” he concluded.

Sean Ross is a staff writer for Yellowhammer News. You can follow him on Twitter @sean_yhn

3 hours ago

House Majority Leader Ledbetter predicts Alabama to ‘move to number one’ nationally in automotive production after Port of Mobile expansion

Tuesday on Huntsville’s WVNN radio, House Majority Leader Nathaniel Ledbetter (R-Rainsville) said he did not think it would be very long before Alabamians started to see tangible benefits of the Rebuild Alabama Act.

The legislation that was recently signed into law by Gov. Kay Ivey after she called a special session will raise the gasoline tax six cents in September, then add an additional two cents in 2020 and 2021.

According to the DeKalb County Republican, road projects could start as early as the summer given the bill will allow for counties to bond half of the revenue the additional tax will generate that is distributed to the counties.

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“I really think it will be this summer,” Ledbetter said. “I think we’ll see it immediately, and the reason I say that is inside that bill there is a mechanism that the counties can use half of their money to bond with. So, I know there’s mine – I talked to the president of my county commission, and we’re looking at bonding half of that money. So if that happens, you’re going to see a lot of paving going down, and I think it will be significant, especially on those roads we can’t get buses across, or you know, the transportation has been limited due to the fact of the road conditions.”

Ledbetter also predicted one of the aspects of the law, which is to expand the Port of Mobile, will generate a positive impact statewide, especially with regards to the automotive industry.

“I don’t think there is any question about that,” he said. “The thing I think we’ll see – Alabama rank third as far as automotive manufacturing in the country. I think we’ll move to number one. I really do. I think this is that big of a game changer. I think aerospace engineering, and some of those jobs going to the port, building airplanes and building the ships – we’re going to move up the ladder because we got availability in the port to bring the ships in and out, the post-Panamax ships we hadn’t seen.”

“You know, the sad part about it is we build all these automobiles in Alabama – a lot of those were being shipped out of Savannah because we can’t get them out of our port,” Ledbetter added. “I think once this happens, we’ll see the roll off-roll on where we’ll be carrying cars to Mobile from Huntsville, from Lincoln, from here in Montgomery to see them delivered, or shipped out from Mobile.”

@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.