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What the Presbyterian Church (USA)’s General Assembly prayer gets wrong


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PRESBYTERIAN CHURCH OF THE USA BRINGS IN PRAYER TO PRAISE AND VALIDATE NON-CHRISTIAN RELIGIONS

TOM LAMPRECHT: Harry, the denomination that you’re a part of, the Presbyterian Church in America, recently had their assembly in Atlanta, Georgia. The Presbyterian Church USA also conducted their general assembly. At the 222nd General Assembly in 2016, a Muslim was invited to invoke an Islamic prayer at the opening of that general assembly.

Well, that didn’t happen this year at the 223rd General Assembly of the Presbyterian Church USA — however, there was a prayer and everyone was asked to participate in reciting in this prayer: “We praise you for the gift of faith we have received in Jesus Christ. We praise you also for diverse faith among the peoples of the earth. You have bestowed your grace to Christians, Jews, Muslims, Buddhist, practitioners of traditional religions and others may celebrate your goodness, act upon your truth and demonstrate your righteousness. In wonder and awe, we praise you, great God.”

Matine Elise writes, “Reading this prayer carefully, one discovers that faith in Jesus Christ is just one of many diverse faiths on earth, all of which are good. God’s gift of grace is not linked uniquely to the work of Christ opening up salvation for all the world, but rather only one way of coming to God.”

DR. REEDER: Let’s take this prayer on from a Christian world and life view. At the core of any Christian world and life view is the Gospel claim that man is wrong with God because of his sin and that God has made a way for man to be right with Him and that way is His Son, Jesus, Who is the way, the truth and the life. And the Christian message is we want to communicate to you the love of God in Christ is that, through the death and resurrection of Christ, you can be right with God when Jesus Christ alone is your Savior because only Christ can save.
THE CHRISTIAN TRUTH CAN REPEL NON-BELIEVERS BECAUSE OF THESE THREE THINGS

Now, let me go ahead and acknowledge upfront that there are three things that causes the Gospel to be an offense to everyone who hears it unless the Holy Spirit is at work in their lives giving them eyes to see and ears to hear.

What are those three things? First is the declaration that we are sinners and we need a savior. Second is that you can’t save yourself, nor can your manmade religion save you. Third, Jesus alone can save you. You need a savior, your religion can’t save you and Christ exclusively is the only one Who can save you. That is, as Peter says, a stone of stumbling — a rock of offense — to any and all who hear that unless the Lord works in their life and then that rock of offense becomes the rock of their salvation.

What does this particular prayer say? Well, it starts off pretty good, actually. “We praise you for the gift of faith we have received in Jesus Christ.” So, first, the opening statement, this is really amazing how, in the space of two sentences, you can go from the heights of confessional orthodoxy that exalts the glory and grace of God to the depths of manmade deception and rebellion against God — you can do it in two connected sentences.

BREAKING DOWN THE STATEMENT — WHAT DOES IT GET RIGHT AND WRONG?

The first sentence, “We praise you,” is worship to God. For what? The gift of faith. That’s accurate. The Bible says, “For by grace are you saved. Through faith, and that not of yourselves; it is the gift of God,” so that’s correct. “Through the gift of faith, we have received,” — so faith isn’t something we work up but faith is something that God works in us that we receive from God the ability to believe

And then it says, “In Jesus Christ.” Therefore, what is the right object of saving faith that we receive from God? Jesus Christ. That’s a glorious statement. Then the next statement, “We also praise you,” — for what — “diverse faith among the peoples of the earth. So, among all of the nations, we want to praise you for the diverse faiths. And then a third sentence is given on what are these diverse faiths? Oh, these are the evidences of your grace — “You have bestowed grace that Christians, Jews, Muslims, Buddhists, practitioners of traditional religions may celebrate your goodness, act upon your truth and demonstrate your righteousness.” “So, in wonder and awe, we praise you, O great God.” That was on Page 113 of their program book that they all participated in.

THERE IS THE RIGHT TO RELIGION, BUT NOT ALL RELIGIONS ARE RIGHT

Now, let’s be very clear: do people have the right to believe whatever they want to believe? Absolutely. Does God, because of common grace, have elements of truth in many religions and “isms” out there? Absolutely. For instance, I can name all the main traditional religions that all affirm monogamous, heterosexual, covenantal marriage — at least up until now. Praise the Lord for that blessing of common grace. Though the religion is wrong in terms of how a man can be right with God, it does have some right things in it from which we can have conversations.

However, do we praise God for those religions as evidences of His grace? The answer is no. How can I praise God for a manmade religion that deceives people into false assurance that they can be right with God apart from the atoning work of Christ on the cross? I cannot praise God for that and I will not call religions as a gift of grace — on the contrary, they’re counterfeits to the work of grace.

Will they, by God’s common grace, have elements of truth? Absolutely. But are they, of essence, a statement of God’s grace? No, on the contrary, they are manmade religions and they all tell you not the grace that you need but all tell you what men and women can do to earn salvation. Therefore, I don’t see those as something to celebrate in worship but I see those as something to deal with in evangelism and apologetics — that is, the defense of the Gospel.

Therefore, we don’t celebrate God’s goodness by the presence of false religions. I am not ashamed of the Gospel for it — only it — is the power of God unto salvation. For everyone who believes — for the Jew and to the Gentile — for, in it, that Gospel, the righteousness of God is revealed. It’s not revealed in other religions. It is revealed in Christ.

THIS PRAYER BROUGHT NO OPPOSITION?

Now, the amazing thing, Tom, is that this was written, it was vetted and it was included in the Presbyterian Church of the United States of America and this very statement that we just went through stands in opposition to the confession that they say that they believe, the Westminster Confession of Faith — it stands in opposition to it.

As Mr. Elise says, are we making too big of deal of this? First, your leadership put this prayer that celebrates the deceptiveness of the religions of the world by the wording of the prayer and giving praise to God for manmade religions as statements of God’s goodness and righteousness while they lead people with a false assurance of life and they lead people into the pit of hell apart from the saving work of Jesus Christ.

God’s only Son gave His life on the cross and rose from the dead so there is only one way and that is the Christ Who provided that atoning death. And the biggest decision you’re ever going to make in your life is will you stumble over Christ as the rock of salvation or will He become the rock of your salvation?

It is also amazing that no one brought a protest to that prayer. No one who was there, called upon to participate in it, raised a protest in it. And, by the way, that astounds me that there was no protest because I do know some solid pastors that love Jesus and are faithful to His Word within that denomination and some churches but what I long for is a great movement of the Gospel of grace throughout our nation and in the Presbyterian Church of the United States of America as well.

STAND UP FOR CHRIST AND HIS ATONEMENT TO SHARE THAT SALVATION WITH OTHERS

Whenever we see such statements that eviscerate the claim of Christ — that “I am the way, the truth and the life. No man can come to the Father but through me,” — and celebrate manmade religions designed to rebel against God’s grace, designed to deceive men and women from grace and to celebrate those in the context of a worship service is utterly astounding.

It breaks my heart — grieves my heart — because of the false assurance it gives to men and women standing on the edge of eternity. Would you hear me tell you there is the big decision that you will make: either Jesus was a liar, He was a fool, He was insane or He was the Lord. And, if He’s the Lord, then you got to hear what He says: “No man can come to the father but through me.”

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.

20 mins ago

Del Marsh: Judge Kavanaugh’s record is clear — He deserves to be confirmed

When the name Brett Kavanaugh was first mentioned to fill the vacancy on the Supreme Court, like many of you, I did not know who he was or much about him. I began looking into him for more information as to what kind of Supreme Court justice he would be, should he be confirmed by the United States Senate. What I found was a fair, mainstream judge who believes in the United States Constitution, who has dedicated his life to public service and a judge who shares our conservative Alabama values.

His academic record is just what you would want to see from someone who sits on the highest court. He graduated from Yale for both his undergraduate studies and for law school. He has been a clerk for judges on the Third and the Ninth Circuit courts, as well as a clerk for Justice Anthony Kennedy on the United States Supreme Court. Since 2009, he has been a lecturer at Harvard’s law school.

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Judge Kavanaugh has published over 300 opinions in his career and his decisions show a judge who will apply the law as written and enforce the text, structure, and original understanding of the Constitution. His opinions have been cited as law by over 200 judges from across the country. He is no stranger to the current make-up of the Supreme Court as many of those who
have clerked for him have gone onto work in the Supreme Court, and dozens of his opinions have been endorsed by the current members of the Court.

As impressive as his professional career has been, his personal character seems to be impeccable. He serves as a coach for youth basketball, is a leader in his church, serves meals to needy families, and is a tutor for children at local elementary schools in the Washington D.C. area.

All of this has led me to believe that Judge Kavanaugh is the most qualified person in the country to serve on the Supreme Court. In his current role in the D.C. Circuit Court, he was confirmed with bipartisan support – and nothing will have changed from that confirmation until now.

Unfortunately, this vote will be a very close vote and many experts believe that the confirmation could come down to the decision of Alabama’s Senator Doug Jones. If Senator Jones wants to represent the people of Alabama, he will take a look at Judge Kavanaugh’s record, as I have, and vote to confirm him to the Supreme Court. Alabama should not have a Senator that shares the same values as far-Left extremists such as Chuck Schumer and Elizabeth Warren. Since he has been in the Senate, Senator Jones has a history of deferring his opinion on important issues until they have been decided by others (confirming the Secretary of State and the CIA Director are the first issues that come to mind). He has vowed to have an “independent review” of Judge Kavanaugh’s record. If he is serious about his slogan of Country over Party, I believe that the record speaks for itself and he will have no choice but to vote to confirm President Trump’s nominee to the Supreme Court.

Senator Shelby has already said that Judge Kavanaugh has “impressive credentials” and that “This nomination is one of the most important items that we will consider this year.” I completely agree and I hope that the Senate will do the right thing and confirm Brett Kavanaugh as the next Justice of the Supreme Court of the United States.

We need a justice in the Supreme Court who will uphold and apply the laws of the Constitution, not an activist judge who will re-write our laws to gain political points from those who have an extreme agenda. It is clear that Judge Kavanaugh is the kind of high character public servant we need.

Del Marsh is president pro tempore of the Alabama Senate, representing the 12th District.

50 mins ago

Illegal alien beheads 13-year-old Huntsville girl

Law enforcement officials in Alabama say an illegal alien and an immigrant in America on a green card are responsible for murdering a 13-year-old girl with special needs and her grandmother, who had connections to Mexican drug cartels, says a report by AL.com.

The brutal beheading of 13-year-old Mariah Lopez took place after she witnessed her grandmother, Oralia Mendoza, get attacked with a knife in a cemetery, according to court testimony.

Mendoza, the 49-year-old grandmother, was alleged to have had connections with the Sinaloa Mexican drug cartel, a popular and deadly drug-trafficking organization.

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Mendoza, along with Israel Palomino and Yoni Aguilar, had traveled to Georgia on June 2 to pick up methamphetamine, according to Investigator Stacy Rutherford. During the trip, one of the men became suspicious that Mendoza’s involvement was a setup.

Authorities say that Mendoza and Aguilar lived together and had dated one another in the past.

Palomino and Aguilar reportedly woke up Mendoza one night and told her that they were taking her and her granddaughter somewhere safe.

On June 4, Mendoza and Lopez were reportedly driven to Moon Cemetery located on Cave Springs Road. According to Aguilar, Mendoza and Palomino got out of the car and argued about the entire situation.

According to Aguilar, that is when the situation escalated and Palomino stabbed Mendoza. Due to Mendoza’s granddaughter being at the scene during the crime, Aguilar and Palomino took the 13-year-old girl to a separate location nearby and beheaded her.

Aguilar revealed to investigators that he was holding a knife when Palomino walked up to him and moved his arm back and forth in a sawing motion. Lopez was later beheaded.

Days later, both Aguilar and Palomino were placed in custody.

Two knives were recovered and cell phone signals from both of the men’s cellphones were pinged at the locations of each occurrence.

Palomino, 34, and Aguilar, 26, are both charged with two counts each of capital murder in the slayings of Mariah Lopez and her grandmother, Oralia Mendoza.

@RealKyleMorris is a Yellowhammer News contributor and also contributes weekly to The Daily Caller

1 hour ago

Roy Moore is not done embarrassing Alabama yet

Whether you view former Supreme Court Justice Roy Moore as the “Ten Commandments’ Judge”, the “guy banned from the Gadsden Mall”, or the “guy who lost to Doug Jones”, you probably don’t think very highly of him. He has brought loads of scorn upon the state of Alabama — some feel this is not his fault.

Whatever you think of Judge Moore, you probably think he should go away. Unfortunately, it appears that he is not interested in doing that. “Borat” creator Sacha Baron Cohen has a new TV series and Moore was apparently a target of one of his pranks.

Moore is rightly embarrassed, but is pretending he is going to sue Cohen if he airs the tape Moore is concerned about:

“I am involved in several court cases presently to defend my honor and character against vicious false political attacks by liberals like Cohen. If Showtime airs a defamatory attack on my character, I may very well be involved in another.”

Why this matters:

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Moore is an attorney and was the Chief Justice of the Alabama Supreme Court. He knows as well as anyone that if he said something on a tape during an interview it can be used. He will not win a single lawsuit he is involved in, but he will bilk his supporters for more money. He may sue, but you can sue on anything. He cannot win a lawsuit with a comedian who is producing a satire piece.

Moore is a public figure, a target for liberals, and he needs to fade into obscurity. Moore also needs to realize that his insistence on standing on the public stage only hurts the causes he holds dear. If he truly cares about Alabama, and not only about himself, he will stop answering media inquiries.

@TheDaleJackson is a contributing writer to Yellowhammer News and hosts a conservative talk show from 7-11 am weekdays on WVNN

2 hours ago

University of Alabama System chooses new interim chancellor Finis E. St. John

The University of Alabama System has chosen an interim chancellor to replace the retiring of current chancellor Jay Hayes at the end of the month.

Finis E. “Fess” St. John, IV, who currently serves on the UA system’s Board of Trustees, will succeed Hayes on August 1.

St. John will take an unpaid leave of absence from St. John & St. John law firm in Cullman and will serve as interim chancellor without compensation.

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“The fact that Fess St. John is willing to serve as our Interim Chancellor without compensation is a tremendous public service,” Board Trustee Joe Epsy said in a statement.

“We are extremely grateful that he is willing to step in and take on these complex administrative duties at a crucial time for our campuses and the UAB Health System,” Epsy continued, in part.

St. John graduated cum laude from Alabama in 1978, where he was a member of Phi Beta Kappa, Omicron Delta Kappa and Jasons. He went on to receive a law degree from the University of Virginia.

3 hours ago

Georgia woman gets five years for filing fraudulent tax returns through Birmingham business

A Georgia woman has been sentenced to five years in prison for preparing and filing fraudulent tax returns through her Alabama-based business.

U.S. Attorney Jay E. Town, in a news release, says U.S. District Judge R. David Proctor sentenced 38-year-old Patrice Anderson on Monday for 13 tax-related counts. A federal jury convicted Anderson in September for using her Birmingham-area business, Queen’s Fast Tax, to file returns between 2009 and 2012 that she knew contained false information.

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Evidence at trial showed that Anderson filed tax returns claiming refundable credits to which her clients were not entitled so that they could receive much larger refunds than they were eligible for. In return, Anderson would charge the clients abnormally high fees – up to $3,000 per fraudulent return – to file their taxes.

(Associated Press, copyright 2018)

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