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.

 

Ledbetter: Alabama’s teachers are standing tall with return to classroom instruction

All of the personality traits, values and life lessons that we carry with us as adults were shaped and instilled in us by the people we encountered in childhood. For many, the strongest influences came from our schoolteachers, who opened new worlds of knowledge and taught us skills that remain with us today.

Consider for a moment the music teacher who taught you to play an instrument, the math teacher who led you to a love of numbers, the history teacher who brought to life the stories of our nation’s past, or the English teacher who inspired you to love great literature.

Teaching is one of the few professions whose impact continues to last for decades after the individual who does the job retires.

As many children across Alabama are preparing to return to school even while the coronavirus pandemic continues, teachers have never been more important or vital or deserving of our deepest appreciation.

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Returning to brick-and-mortar school instruction will, hopefully, restore a sense of normalcy to our children’s lives in these decidedly abnormal times.

A return to the classroom and even resuming the online instruction that some are adopting will also help our students maintain their education progress and continue the important social and emotional development that interaction with their peers and instructors allows.

Our English second language learners will receive the communication skills they need in order to better assimilate, and many low-income students will receive the healthy nourishment from the school lunch program that might be denied them at home.

Given the current circumstances and environment, I recognize that some of our public school employees may have a sense of trepidation about returning to school, and that is certainly understandable. Wearing a face mask to do something as simple as shopping for groceries, paying for gas or walking into a restaurant offers all of us a constant reminder that COVID-19 is a very contagious virus.

But our teachers and educators are setting their concerns aside and answering the call to duty.

I know that Gov. Kay Ivey, State Superintendent Eric Mackey and the staff of the Alabama Department of Education took great care in developing the “Roadmap to Reopening Alabama Schools,” and local school boards are being equally diligent in creating and implementing their own safety guidelines.

The importance of sanitization will be stressed more than ever before, and billions of dollars made available to Alabama through the federal CARES Act will help ensure that any resources that are needed to reopen schools safely will be readily available.

As the majority leader of the Alabama House, I can also offer assurances that the legislature stands ready to pass legislation or make appropriations that are necessary to ease the return to classroom instruction once we are in session.

The COVID-19 pandemic has prompted an even deeper appreciation of the frontline heroes who have remained on the job and provided the most essential services throughout the crisis.

Doctors and nurses in our hospitals and health clinics; grocery store and other retail employees; law enforcement officers, emergency workers and firefighters; postal workers; sanitation workers; restaurant personnel; and those in dozens of other professions are among those who continued working even when times were their toughest.

I am proud to say that the teachers, school nurses, administrators and support personnel in Alabama’s schools also rank high upon the list of those who have stood tall, and their already invaluable service to our state is even more important to students and parents in each of our cities, towns and crossroads today.

Helen Keller, one of Alabama’s most inspirational figures, once said, “It was my teacher’s genius, her quick sympathy, her loving tact which made the first years of my education so beautiful. It was because she seized the right moment to impart knowledge that made it so pleasant and acceptable to me.”

As I close by wishing everyone a safe, happy and healthy school year, we would all do well to keep Helen Keller’s words in mind.

State Rep. Nathaniel Ledbetter (R-Rainsville) serves as majority leader in the Alabama House of Representatives

5 hours ago

Alabama Ag Commissioner Pate gives update on unsolicited seed packages from China, urges public to stay ‘vigilant’

MONTGOMERY — Alabama Department of Agriculture and Industries (ADAI) Commissioner Rick Pate gave an update Monday afternoon on the spate of seed packets from China that people across Alabama have received in recent weeks despite never having ordered anything.

Pate said that after the state seed labs had performed tests on the packets they had collected from individuals across Alabama, and none of them proved to be dangerous.

“Right at 50% of them proved be some kind of weed flower … 41% were vegetables, and 9% were herbs … we found no noxious compounds, no dangerous compounds,” said Pate at the event.

However, he warned, “They might send out the first seeds that weren’t treated with anything, have a sense of security come about, and then later send something out that could be harmful.”

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The commissioner further urged members of the public to refrain from planting any unsolicited seeds and continue to report them to the Department.

“At the very least something criminal has gone on here,” stated Pate, referencing laws that prevent seeds from being moved across state lines without being inspected by the relevant agencies.

Pate said his department had collected 252 seed samples as of Monday morning.

A total of 385 individuals in all but 11 of Alabama’s 67 counties have received one of the packets, according to information relayed at the press conference. State workers will be collecting the remaining samples soon.

(AL. Dept. of Ag/Contributed)

“Because we’ve got such a good food and drug lab, because we’ve got such a good seed lab, we knew this was inside of our comfort zone,” Pate said of the decision to conduct the seed tests in-house as opposed to shipping them to the federal government.

Andy Tipton, division director of Food Safety and Ag Compliance, said that 25 states had reported similar seed packets showing up at consumers’ doorsteps. He added that the ADAI was turning over all relevant info to the FBI, who were monitoring the situation.

Pate further told Yellowhammer News that one of the prevailing theories remained that the cause was an internet seller running a scam to artificially inflate their customer numbers and create opportunities for fake reviews.

He ended his press conference saying, “We have no idea the reason for this happening, but it doesn’t mean we can stop being vigilant.”

Any Alabamian still receiving one of the packets can report it here.

Henry Thornton is a staff writer for Yellowhammer News. You can contact him by email: henry@yellowhammernews.com or on Twitter @HenryThornton95

5 hours ago

Alabama basketball star John Petty returning for senior season

University of Alabama star forward John Petty, Jr. will return for his senior season, the player announced on Monday.

The Huntsville native was a second-team All-SEC honoree this past season, after leading the Southeastern Conference in three-point percentage.

Petty was considering entering the 2020 NBA Draft, however he decided to return for a final season in Tuscaloosa after evaluating his prospects. Another college season could see Petty lock down his chance at being a first-round pick.

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Tide head coach Nate Oats released a statement on Monday afternoon celebrating Petty’s return.

“It’s great to have John back for his senior year,” Oats said. “He is certainly one of the best, if not the best, shooters in the country which is extremely important to us with how we play.”

“He’s made it clear that it’s his goal to become a first round pick in the 2021 NBA Draft and we’re going to work with him to make sure he’s in the best position to reach that goal. Let’s get to work!” the coach concluded.

Follow along with the Bama men’s basketball program here.

Sean Ross is the editor of Yellowhammer News. You can follow him on Twitter @sean_yhn

6 hours ago

State of Alabama, University of Alabama System officials unveil GuideSafe app aiming to keep schools virus-free

Key figures from Alabama’s government and university systems joined to announced the new GuideSafe platform that bills itself as the key for students to safely return to college campuses amid the ongoing coronavirus pandemic.

The GuideSafe platform will help the state fulfill its promise to test every single college student before they return to campus, and the platform will provide a space for ongoing health monitoring throughout the semester.

The unveiling took place over videoconference, where State Health Officer Dr. Scott Harris, University of Alabama System Chancellor Finis “Fess” St. John and other key players detailed the importance of GuideSafe to the upcoming semester.

GuideSafe was developed by the University of Alabama at Birmingham (UAB) in conjunction with the Alabama Department of Public Health (ADPH) and tech company MotionMobs. It will be provided to any educational institution in the state that wishes to use it.

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Governor Kay Ivey apportioned some of Alabama’s CARES Act funds for the development of GuideSafe and the universal free testing for college students.

St. John on Monday praised Ivey’s “decisive action to provide funding” for the testing initiative and other campus reopening measures.

(Click for higher resolution version that will open in new tab)

GuideSafe will be accessible via app on smartphones and tablets and via web browser on any computer. Students will be invited to join the platform in the coming weeks.

One of the key features of the GuideSafe app is that it will track the location of students via smartphone and then inform them if they have come into contact with someone who has tested positive for the coronavirus.

“This new app – using Google- and Apple-led technology and created by UAB faculty, staff and MotionMobs for the people of Alabama – is a necessary tool in our effort to return to college campuses safely this fall,” said UAB President Ray Watts.

The app also allows students and faculty to report symptoms as they experience them, and get directed to a nearby testing site if necessary.

“The combination of these tools enables every participating college, university and K-12 school to engage faculty, students and staff regarding on-going monitoring of symptoms, exposure and risks of acquiring COVID-19,” said Sue Feldman, professor and director of graduate programs in health informatics at UAB.

A general factsheet on GuideSafe is available here.

Watch:

Henry Thornton is a staff writer for Yellowhammer News. You can contact him by email: henry@yellowhammernews.com or on Twitter @HenryThornton95

6 hours ago

Trump fires TVA board chair after outsourcing uproar

President Donald Trump on Monday announced that he was removing the Tennessee Valley Authority’s board chairman, Skip Thompson, an Alabamian.

Thompson, a resident of Decatur, is the president and CEO of Corporate Billing, a subsidiary of Birmingham-based National Bank of Commerce. He previously served as the president and CEO of both First American Bank in Decatur and First Commercial Bank in Huntsville, as well as serving on the board of Decatur Utilities.

Trump appointed Thompson to the TVA board in 2018. He was elected chairman of the board last year.

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The president on Monday cited TVA’s plan to outsource information technology jobs overseas as the reason for firing Thompson and one other board member. Trump warned the other board members that they would be next if the outsourcing continued. The president also called on them to replace the organization’s CEO, who Trump said was making far too much money.

The president added, “Let this serve as a warning to any federally appointed board: If you betray American workers, you will hear two words: ‘You’re fired.’”

The TVA is the electricity provider for much of North Alabama. Self-described as “a corporate agency of the United States,” it is regulated at the federal level and not under the jurisdiction of the Alabama Public Service Commission.

Congressman Mo Brooks (AL-05) applauded Trump’s move on Monday.

“TVA fires AMERICANS & hires cheap foreign labor,” the North Alabama congressman tweeted. “TVA executive salaries EXORBITANT. TVA=NO competition, unlike private sector execs who compete to earn profits to earn pay… WAY TO GO [President Trump]!”

RELATED: Doug Jones: ‘The TVA has lost its way’

Sean Ross is the editor of Yellowhammer News. You can follow him on Twitter @sean_yhn