Some Obvious Yet Drastic Implications of the Current Campaign to Legalize Same-Sex Marriage with the Complicity and Coercion of the Federal Court System of the United States Government

The rapid cultural transformation to mainstream the practice of homosexuality now being accelerated by the Federal Court initiative to redefine marriage affirming homosexuality is on the one hand startling but on the other predictable. The decision of the Supreme Court to strike down the constitutionality of the Defense of Marriage Act (DOMA) has predictably opened the flood gates for the same-sex marriage movement designed to legitimize homosexuality. This tsunami wave to moralize the immoral has now engulfed 17 states and has been assisted by nine separate federal court rulings against targeted states that had previously passed constitutional affirmations of the historic definition of marriage as a covenantal, monogamous, heterosexual, and conjugal relationship. The implications are incalculable and almost enumerable but here are 7 to consider. They are selected in light of the undeniable fact that each will now become a thread woven into the social and cultural fabric of the United States. All of them will be applauded by the LGBT (lesbian, gay, bisexual, transgender) agenda proponents and will be affirmed by the secular progressives as a necessary cultural evolution. I am convinced if unchallenged these predictable consequences will soon signal the demise of what was once an imperfect but significantly blessed national heritage.

 The Seven Implications

  1. The sexual choices of citizens in the US will now be legally defined as a civil right to be affirmed and protected. Furthermore, these sexual choices will also become the controlling identity factor of an individual’s existence. In other words, one’s sexual behavior will now be considered a civil right. Initially this effort was designed to promote the acceptability of homosexuality but the rejection of the Judeo-Christian sexual ethic (sexual activity belongs in the context of a heterosexual marriage) required to accomplish the normalization of homosexuality removes the framework necessary to prevent other sexual aberrations as protected civil rights. Presently, the only legal restraint to sexual practices outside of marriage is adult consent. But without a doubt even this restraint will soon be declared immoral and illegal. Previously immoral sexual acts will now be declared not only moral but also a Civil right to be constitutionally protected. Furthermore, the idea of defining your essential identity by your sexual behavior would have been considered nonsense but now we have established a predominately sexualized culture where one’s existence is signified and defined by their sexual behavior – (I am homosexual, or I am transsexual, or I am heterosexual, etc.). The identity list now becomes endless as indicated by Facebook’s recent creation of 56 sexually defined identity choices. I’m not sure how or why they would stop at 56 but I will predict that they can’t and won’t. Of course, the sanity of the Biblical world and life view declaring our identity in life as having been created in the image of God as male and female will be a faint echo of a voice from the past. Therefore, the insanity of a national culture of sexual chaos, promiscuity, and aberration will be embraced as normal and a civil right securing the new human sexually defined identity to be legally promoted and protected by the Federal Courts of the United States. This irrational plunge into the abyss of a depraved sexualized culture will soon bring to believers legal challenges determining whether we will “obey God or man.”
  2. We will purposefully dismiss all reputable social science studies universally affirming the obvious fact that children need a two-parent, two-gender, male father and female mother environment for a beneficial and normal process of maturity through adolescence. The family unit as the irreplaceable environment to promote the spiritual, physical, psychological, educational, and economic development of children revealed in God’s Word and affirmed by observable evidences will, of necessity, be relegated to at best, an option. These studies unsurprisingly affirm that the same God who created us in His image also created marriage as a one man and one woman for one life institution. This divinely-designed family structure singularly provides the optimum environment for the well-being of children. This means a healthy culture must embrace and establish as normative families who have both a father and mother committed first to each other as a husband and wife and then to their children for life.
  3. In the name of thoughtless societal experimentation designed to moralize the immoral in a manufactured chaotic culture we will now consign children in this generation and the coming generations to the likelihood of either a fatherless or motherless home. Of course, the secular progressive authors of this mindless agenda will quickly assure us that this is best for everyone including the children in spite of all the documented evidence to the contrary. The cultural landscape will increasingly be dominated (to the demise of children) by same sex and soon to come, poly-amorous marriages with multiple gender combinations resulting in irrational and destructive family configurations as a consequence.
  4. We will officially dismiss the historic definition and declaration of marriage pronounced at the conclusion of a sacred wedding ceremony – “upon the consummation of this union before God I pronounce you husband and wife” – Obviously the dismissal of this benedictory valediction will be necessary since we will have redefined marriage in a manner which precludes the act of consummation. In a same-sex marriage it is biologically impossible to have a true husband and true wife and therefore a conjugal relationship. The religious and historically legal “sign and seal” of marriage by sexual consummation will be rendered meaningless and impossible. The marriage bed consisting of one man and one woman for one life will be replaced by inventive and vacuous sexuality in a likely soon-to-be crowded marriage bed of multiple sexually aberrant participants – same sex or otherwise.
  5. We will have dismissed the singular essential foundational block of a society and culture – the monogamous, heterosexual, conjugal covenantal marriage – which provides the necessary environment for human flourishing and the development of future generations. The tried and true creation ordinance of marriage will now become at best, a possible option and at worst, a rejected relic of the past. This previously unimaginable phenomena is the future present even though the historic definition of marriage has provided a culture which has more than doubled our lifespans while advancing living standards and providing a stable social order, all of which has produced an unprecedented era of beneficial human flourishing.
  6. We will have intentionally returned to the sexual and familial anarchy of our pagan barbarian forbearers. In other words, we are not entering into a Brave New World but re-entering a Cowardly Old World. This Old World of paganism from which Christianity had rescued our ancestors and progressively transformed their existence (and thus ours) from disorder to order has now become the new objective for today’s cultural elite – back to the future. In other words, the Biblical framework which, by consensus, had guided the moral direction of the culture in general and marriage/family in particular will be rejected for the familial anarchy of our pagan ancestors in order to promote sexual aberrancy as normal. This illogical agenda is now called a cultural progressive evolution although, in reality, it is a cultural regressive devolution.
  7. Finally and ominously, we will arrogantly position ourselves under the inevitable righteous judgment of God as previous nations and city states such as “Sodom,” “Gomorrah,” the “cities of the plains” and Empires who have long since disappeared. That judgment if not by Divine edict is inevitable by Divinely ordained consequences for those who engage in high-handed rebellion against God’s law. Those nations who knowingly break God’s law will inevitably be broken by God’s law. “What a man (nation) sows he (we) will also reap.”

Is there a way out? There is one, but only one. It is not a political movement although it would affect politics. The answer is simply, but profoundly found only in a Gospel awakening – a Gospel awakening which produces not only the life changing and culture enhancing blessings of redeeming and transforming grace through the saving work of Jesus Christ in the lives of men and women but also the work of common grace through the witness of God’s people “growing in grace.” But there will be no Gospel awakening until Christ’s church determines that to be “in the world” does not require us to be “of the world.” There will be no Gospel awakening without a loving, compassionate yet clear and distinctive witness of the redeeming and transforming grace of God in the lives of His people which alone will return the Church to its calling of being both “salt and light” in an “evil and adulterous generation.”

Finally, no such revival will be found in the Church to ignite a Gospel awakening until there is a Reformation within the leadership of Christ’s church. Specifically, a Reformation producing Pastors who in life and from their pulpits faithfully proclaim “the whole counsel of God.” Our great need is the movement of God’s grace providing persistent prayer and Christ-consumed, Bible-filled, Holy Spirit-empowered, Gospel-saturated preaching from the pulpits of local churches. O Lord, please begin with me.

 

 

Concerning the Insider Movement

In light of the determination of the 41st General Assembly of the Presbyterian Church in America (PCA) to refer back to the Ad Interim Study Committee the matter of the Insider Movement without action to adopt the excellent, well thought out study report, and while many decisions of PCA churches have been placed on hold pending this report and action of the General Assembly, looking to the General Assembly and Mission to the World to lead us in this issue; and

Having received requests for assistance for understanding and guidance from a number of congregations in the (PCA) and from others outside of the PCA concerning the Insider Movement in general and its theology and philosophy of ministry in particular as it relates to discipleship and evangelism among the people of the religions of the world; and

Realizing that certain aspects of the Insider Movement have fostered an apostate Christology by presenting Jesus Christ as something less than the eternal Son of God and have encouraged Muslims who have professed conversion to Christ to retain their religious identity thereby becoming “secret believers or followers of Jesus” which results in producing professing converts framed more by their existing cultural/religious surroundings than the inerrant Word of God; and

Because Islam as well as all other religions of this world are inventions of man to save himself by his religious endeavors and realizing the absolute necessity to reject and repent of these delusional religions which not only are inadequate to save men and women from their sins and be made right with God but are also blasphemous and deceptive in their false promises and assurances; therefore

the Session of the Briarwood Presbyterian Church does accept the majority study report of the Ad Interim Study Committee as a well thought-out theological, exegetical, and practical resource of use by PCA churches and members; and furthermore to respond with assistance to those who have requested are would desire assistance in the future both within and without the PCA; the Briarwood Session summarizes the analysis, teaching and recommendations found in the Report with the following statements:

All religious spiritual belief systems other than Christianity are ultimately and definitively false as well as deceptive and therefore of no value as it relates to forgiveness of sin and salvation from the lost-fallen estate of mankind.  While recognizing that in God’s common grace there may be technically accurate statements within any religion there is no ultimate redeeming value within the religion. Therefore these systems do not need to be reformed, but forsaken; and all followers within these religions must repent and forsake them and must put their faith in the substitutionary redeeming work of the Lord Jesus Christ as the Son of God and Son of Man ALONE to be saved from both the guilt and power of sin; and

People who believe in the Lord Jesus Christ, the eternal Son of God, second member of the Trinitarian Godhead, should continue to live among the people of their former religious belief system as a faithful witness to the truth of the Gospel and the saving-cleansing power of the Lord Jesus Christ, resolved in humble reliance upon God’s grace not to be conformed to the world in which they  live but to be transformed by the renewing of their mind and;

People who believe in the Lord Jesus Christ, the eternal Son of God, second member of the Trinitarian Godhead, should not continue to live out non-biblical religious practices, rituals and practices that are a part of their family, community and former religious belief system, such as praying for the dead, animal sacrifice, or pilgrimages for holiness, etc; and

People who believe in the Lord Jesus Christ, the eternal Son of God, second member of the Trinitarian Godhead, are permitted to utilize biblical forms and practices even though those forms and practices are a part of their former religious community, such as prayer, alms giving,  and assembling with other believers, etc; and

People who believe in the Lord Jesus Christ, the eternal Son of God, second member of the Trinitarian Godhead, are expected by men and required by God to live by God’s standards for His people, such as ethics, morality, witness, love, compassion as revealed in His inerrant Word and enabled by the indwelling power of the Holy Spirit; and

Bible translations that remove from the text references to God as “Father” or Jesus as “Son”, thereby compromising the Biblically revealed economy and relationships within the Trinity and therefore the divinity of Jesus, the doctrines concerning the person and work of Christ, and the doctrine of Scripture, are unfaithful to God’s revealed Word.

Based upon the work that the Global Ministry Team at Briarwood has done, Briarwood would offer these practical suggestions as well as cautions to local PCA Church Mission Committees as they evaluate their present ministry involvements and as they move forward we would share the following observations:

  1. We found it necessary to make a clear distinction between the philosophical, methodological, and theological position of field personnel who are doing the work of ministry and the philosophical, methodological, and theological policies of the organization under which they serve.
    1. It was discovered that in some circumstances it was either the official position of the organization which was incompatible with our position and at other times it was the actions of the field personnel that was unacceptable.
  1. We came to the position that supporting the ministry being done by personnel who had no Insider tendencies, if they serve under an organization that encourages or permits such tendencies, still put us in the  position of supporting “Insider” philosophy, methodology  and theology,  or being identified with  and endorsing such unacceptable philosophy and theology.
  1. We asked to see the organization’s official statement on the contextualization of the Gospel.   If there was not a written statement, we urged them to put in write the principles by which ministry were being done.
  1. Then we evaluated the official position statement of each organization against the statement / position of Briarwood.
  1. We asked the heads of all the organizations, under which we supported ministry, if any of their field personnel functioned in ministry among peoples of other religions at a C-5 level on the contextualization scale or beyond.
  1. We asked how personnel was handled who functioned in ministry outside the official position statement of the organization.
  1. The hard decision was made to suspend all financial support to all ministry personnel serving under any  organization with an unacceptable position statement, a statement incompatible with the Briarwood position.
  1. We gave a full explanation to each organization involved, seeking to be very clear as to what issues within their official statements was unacceptable; and we  offered alternative wording to improve the statements and  to make  their statements theological biblical.
  1. In some instances official changes were made, Praise the Lord, and we were able to re-engage in ministry partnership with the reinstatement of support; however, in some instances no changes were made and we disassociated ourselves and  discontinued  support completely and in some cases wording was changed but practice remained in violation of the Briarwood position statement.

This has been a health, ministry-strengthening, painful process.   But we have a better understanding of the Word of God as well as God’s purposes and plans for world evangelization.

The Session of the Briarwood would gladly make available the work of our Global Ministry Team and provide any assistance to whoever might request it.

Merry Christmas – Why? A Celebration and an Invitation

Merry Christmas! This is the Christmas greeting each Advent season when the Gospel-confessing church and Christians pause in the yearly calendar to focus with celebration and proclamation upon the birth of Christ – the Incarnation. This Christmas greeting is no act of human ingenuity. Christians are simply following the model laid before us by the Angels on that first Christmas who declared the proclamation the Savior is born and who celebrated with a Doxology of praise to the Triune God of Glory.

“Glory to God in the Highest and on earth peace among those with whom he is pleased!” Luke 2:14

This Christmas greeting by which we address one another and the world and which in our culture has historically been embraced although now attacked, is a message proclaiming a unique, one-of-a-kind event in history where our greatest hope and need is realized and answered – sinners can be right with God and amazingly reconciled to God as a gift of grace flowing from the unmerited love of God the Father, God the Son, and God the Holy Spirit – the Triune God of glory. How? In history the Son of God “came down” and “took upon Himself” a true human body, soul, and mind for one express purpose: “to save His people from their sins” to the glory of God the Father and through the power of God the Holy Spirit.  Therefore, the Angel instructed Joseph and through Joseph commands us to “call His Name Jesus” – meaning Yahweh (Jehovah) saves! So…

Merry Christmas! God has made a “way” when there was no “way” to save sinners who are rightly under His eternal and Holy judgment and who are incapable of saving themselves by resolution, ritual, or religion. That “way” which He has made is His Son, Jesus Christ who is “the Way, the Truth and the Life and no man can come to the Father but through Him.” Yet, the corollary to that truth is another Biblical promise that all who “come to Him” will be saved  from their sins and reconciled to the Father for all eternity. Why?

Merry Christmas! Because in Christ we have, by the gift of God’s grace and love, the only One qualified to save sinners. The Son of God, fully God, has humbled Himself to become the Son of Man, fully man. Therefore, we now have a new Adam. “By a man comes death (Adam); by a Man comes the resurrection of the dead (the Second Adam – Christ).”

In other words, Christ, the One who always has been (Son of God), has become what He never was (Son of Man) in order to save sinners for God’s glory and now is what He always will be (fully God – fully Man) for all eternity. This means that those who trust Him alone as Lord and Savior will one day be able to behold Him and see Him in eternity and for all eternity.

Merry Christmas! Why? Because the One who alone is qualified to save us did qualify us to be saved. Christ who was born to die for us has won the victory at the cross. His death was not a martyr’s death on a cross but an atoning death on The Cross. This One would be unstoppable as He “set His face to Jerusalem” to be “put to death” of His own will under the crushing blow of God the Father’s righteous judgment in our place. This glorious redemption of sinners was not because we wanted it or deserved it but because of His great love for us which sent Him on a love-driven, relentless journey to the cross. Not only do the Gospel biographies record this righteous journey for our redemption, but they also record informative birth narratives which all contain this glorious message of Christ born to die for our sins. In other words, the Manger is explained at the Cross and the Cross is meaningless without the Manger. “Emmanuel. God with us.” So…

Merry Christmas! The birth narratives record the reply from earth to the Heaven-sent Redeemer as they each contain the message of celebrating His birth and anticipating His atoning death. The Angels, in announcing His birth to shepherds, affirm the Divine sign at the Manger of the Christ being “wrapped in swaddling cloths.” These linen cloths that wrapped Him are cast aside as His Body grows in this stone trough. In 33 years His body will again be wrapped in linen cloths only to be cast aside as His now resurrected Body leaves the stone tomb. See the shepherds in response to the Angelic announcement coming to the Manger to celebrate the birth of a Savior. These who raise and tend in the valleys of Bethlehem, the sheep and lambs, which will be sacrificed on the Mountains of Zion in Jerusalem will, at the Manger, behold – “the Lamb of God who takes away the sin of the world.” Furthermore, these shepherds who care for their flocks in the same fields as their forbearer David, now behold the prophesied Son of David, the Great Shepherd, who “lays down His life for His sheep” and will save them as the Good Shepherd, who on the Mountain of death – Calvary, will lay down His life for his Sheep so that they will only pass through “the shadow of the Valley of death.” See the Wise Men who, in fulfillment of prophesy, bring gifts of gold (affirming His Royalty), frankincense (affirming His Deity), and Myrrh which anticipates the day when this death-spice will vainly encase the Body of our Savior as He “descends to Hades” – the grave, and in three days will rise in victory as our Triumphant Redeemer.

Merry Christmas! A greeting declaring the Savior is Born! We have a message of a sure Hope. Not the vanity of absurd idolatry, repetitive ritual, self-reliant resolutions nor the arrogance of man’s religion. A glorious Hope.  God has “come down,” born in a manger, truly God and truly man, to be crucified on the Cross, to be buried in a Tomb and to rise in triumph, ascend to glory and is coming again as Lord of all and Savior for all who by faith and repentance turn to Him and trust in Him by surrendering unto Him. Rejoice! The Lord has come! From our sins and fears He releases us! Joy to the World! This is why we greet each other and the world with a greeting that is both a celebration and an invitation. Merry Christmas!

The State of New Jersey and Governor Chris Christie Have Now Declared War on the First Amendment, the Family and the Church While Blaspheming the God of Glory

Okay, I will acknowledge that the title of this blog is too long and will be critiqued as provocative. But, more to the point, I am convinced it is true and if anything, understated in its content. Let’s begin with two things; the essence of the recent New Jersey Law and Gov. Christie’s statement upon signing, endorsing and promoting it, followed by an observation.

 1.     The law prohibits any and all efforts at heterosexual behavioral transformation for self-identified homosexuals, bisexuals and transgendered minors or in other words attempts at changing professed sexual orientation by professional counsellors is now illegal.

2.     Recognizing the obvious, that this state law is ultimately an aggressive invasion of parental rights, church sovereignty and religious liberty, Gov. Christie responded by first pontificating as true, the popular but non-scientific and anti-Biblical mantra, that homosexuality is a sexual practice genetically determined. After propounding the mythological “born that way” talking point designed to culturally normalize homosexual behavior, he simultaneously acknowledged that both he and the law were in conflict with the doctrinal position of his church (Roman Catholic) as to the sinfulness of homosexual practice. To remedy this problem he then proclaimed that in effect God has lied in both His Word and through His church as he assured his constituents that “homosexuality is not a sin.”

While acknowledging the difficulties of faithfully, compassionately and graciously ministering the Gospel to those entangled in sexual addictions and the challenge of addressing the culturally promoted and encouraged confusion about sexual orientation, the ramifications and implications of this latest expansion of government intrusion into the sanctity of the family, the sovereignty of the Church and an all-out and anti-constitutional assault upon the First Amendment must be considered.  Beyond that, what does the Christian and the church do in addition to prayer to rightly respond to this intrusion? This challenge is compounded in that such initiatives have been defended by the arrogant and unconscionable blasphemy of a state legislature and a state Governor declaring the consistent doctrine of sexuality as good and right only within the context of a monogamous heterosexual marital relationship and sexuality practiced outside of such a relationship as sinful and destructive is now pronounced as at best, an error and in reality, a lie. This position is found in all of the major religions in the world.  In other words the position on sexuality demonstrably foundational to society, consistently taught in God’s Word and even affirmed beyond Christianity in the major religions of the world has now been exposed as a multi-century blunder of bigotry, according to the Governor of the State of New Jersey.

Therefore, if a New Jersey parent is confronted by the ever increasingly culturally encouraged and predictable adolescent enhanced sexual confusion of their child they may do a number of things but there are some specific things they might have done in the past that they now can no longer do in the present. They will not be able to tell their child that homosexuality is wrong and sinful since such statements will inevitably be considered a charge of child abuse. This also means they cannot tell them, from God’s Word, that homosexuality is a sin and seek Gospel transformational therapy.  That of course means they cannot, in the context of addressing the issue, share the Gospel of saving grace which promises to all who believe and repent both the blessing of forgiveness of sin as well as the transforming power of God’s grace bringing victory over the practice of sin. This comprehensive Gospel promise includes sexual sins, whether mono-sexual, heterosexual, homosexual or poly-sexual. Both of the above mentioned Gospel promises of pardon and transformation in God’s Word are repeatedly offered and affirmed. Here is just one instance.

 Or do you not know that the unrighteous will not inherit the kingdom of God? Do not be deceived: neither the sexually immoral, nor idolaters, nor adulterers, nor men who practice homosexuality, nor thieves, nor the greedy, nor drunkards, nor revilers, nor swindlers will inherit the kingdom of God. And such were some of you. But you were washed, you were sanctified, you were justified in the name of the Lord Jesus Christ and by the Spirit of our God.

I. Corinthians 6:9ff

Note clearly, along with eight other representative lifestyle sins, homosexuality is declared as an act of transgressing the Law of God or in a word – sin. The Bible also warns that “the wages of sin is death” (Rom. 6:23). But also note that God has loved sinners to provide a way of salvation from both the guilt and practice of sin.  In other words, the One who cannot embrace sin has embraced sinners by sending His Son to the Cross to die for our sins (including sexual sins) so that we can be forgiven – “but you were washed you were SANCTIFIED, you were JUSTIFIED in the name of our Lord Jesus Christ.” And amazingly, this same God of grace and glory also sends the Holy Spirit to sinners so they are not only delivered from the penalty and position of sin by redeeming grace but also delivered from the power and practice of sin by transforming grace – “such WERE some of you.”

New Jersey, in opposition, has now declared acceptable what God has declared unacceptable. They, the State and Governor Christie, have pronounced God a liar, the Word of God errant, deceptive and destructive and the church complicit. Furthermore, Jesus dying for the sin of homosexuality and homosexuals (in fact for all the sins of all of His people) is at best an act of Divine ignorance and the promise of transformation and liberation from sexual addictions not only false but an evil delusion. And if parents announce such Biblical truths they are soon likely to be found culpable for discrimination, hate speech, etc.

What are the ramifications? The sanctity of the family and the sovereignty of the church have simultaneously been violated. In addition, the First Amendment, guaranteeing to individuals, families and the church “the free exercise of religion,” has been trampled by a blasphemous defaming of God and His Word through the religion of State-ism and its secular, politically correct morality, enforced by the ever increasing, invasive, powerful and arrogant expansion of the State.

So, what will churches and, even more pointedly, preachers of the Word of God in New Jersey now do? And what do we do as it inevitably spreads to other states with the predictable threats and charges of hate speech and criminality to those who affirm heterosexual, monogamous marriage as the singular sphere of virtuous sexuality? What will they/we do when teaching Gospel-blessed Biblical sexuality to our parishioners in general and our covenant children in particular results in being our being “dragged to the court?” What will they/we do with our Christian Counseling ministries? As of now in New Jersey if you, from the pulpit, in discipleship or a Counseling Center identify homosexuality a sin and offer forgiveness and transforming discipleship to teenagers you can and likely will be prosecuted. So will you/we compromise by “adjusted teaching” thus denying the authority of Christ, His Word and the Gospel or will you/we succumb to the less obvious sin of a strategic but guilty silence. Satan has brought the battle to us as he has done, buttressed by the power of the State, for 2,000 years. We, in the west have, in God’s kind Providence, been living in a cultural bubble that, without a Gospel Awakening, is about to burst. Our forbearers met the test of Rome with the courage and humility of grace. They refused to compromise and instead proclaimed “the whole counsel of God.” Even upon the penalty of death they would not say “Caesar is lord.” On the contrary, they established the earliest confession of the church and the Christian by proclaiming “Jesus is Lord.”

So now the question has been put to us. Is New Jersey lord? Is Gov. Christie lord? Since a state legislature and Governor (please note the one Democratic-controlled and the other Republican- an arena for bi-partisanship has finally been found) have now, with unadorned blasphemy and the unconstitutional dismissal of the First Amendment and therefore, the “free exercise of religion,” declared themselves as the definers of sin and righteousness in opposition to God and His Word – not to mention the givers of a new law above the Law of the nation, i.e. the Constitution. We now must decide as those who have gone before us did…is Jesus Lord or is the State lord?

To unashamedly paraphrase Martin Luther – wherever Satan brings the battle to bear upon the Church if we do not meet it with a courageous humility of grace and truth, everything else we do is in reality cowardice.

The Briarwood Presbyterian Church Sessional Resolution with Rationale Concerning Severing Its Chartered Relationship with the Boy Scouts of America

 FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE

Briarwood Presbyterian Church has been placed in an unsought position of responding to the change of Troop membership standards established by a consensus majority vote of the BSA national Council. A key element of the change is contained in the following approved statement from the Resolution.

…no youth may be denied membership in the Boy Scouts of America on the basis of sexual orientation or preference alone.

This issue was addressed by our Session at the June 25 meeting in response to a recommendation from the youth and adult leadership teams from Troop 254 at Briarwood whereby they unanimously recommended that BPC through the Session consider severing its relationship with the Boy Scouts of America. After due diligence, prayer and discussion the Session unanimously voted to sever the 52 year old BPC relationship with the BSA through Troop 254 by the end of this year and that its Resolution be recorded with their rationale and then spread upon the minutes of the Session as well as announced to the congregation and publicly.

THE BRIARWOOD PRESBYTERIAN CHURCH SESSIONAL RESOLUTION WITH RATIONALE CONCERNING SEVERING ITS CHARTERED RELATIONSHIP WITH THE BOY SCOUTS OF AMERICA

RATIONALE

Whereas, the actions of the BSA concerning its change of membership standards effectively and functionally alters its affirmation of the historic Judeo-Christian ethic affirming sexuality as a gift from God reserved for its Divinely designed blessing within the bounds of a heterosexual, monogamous marital relationship and,

Whereas, the Word of God requires Briarwood Presbyterian Church to oppose all sin including all forms of sexual immorality including homosexuality, bisexuality and transgender-ism and,

Whereas, the Scout Oath affirming a Scouts “duty to God” has now been compromised by abandoning the revealed Law of God affirming sexuality as a relationship of intimacy reserved for a heterosexual, marital monogamous relationship and,

Whereas, the Scout Oath affirming a Scouts commitment to be “morally straight” has also been compromised for the reasons stated above and furthermore, this element of the Scout Oath has now been redefined and rendered meaningless in terms of sexual morality and,

Whereas, the BSA has now in principle and practice placed homosexuality, bisexuality and transgender-ism as normative by requiring those affirming such “orientations” and behavioral “preference” as qualified for membership within the BSA thereby creating conflict for the ministry of Briarwood Presbyterian Church since all other ministries of BPC oppose such sexual behavior as immoral, calling for repentance of such sexual behavior through the forgiving and transforming power of the Gospel; a position and practice which would now be effectively prohibited in the BSA by the changed membership standards and,

Whereas, the BSA has rendered its commitment to produce young men of virtue and principled leadership unattainable by its embracing sexually immoral and abnormal behaviors as normative and therefore calling good and acceptable what God calls evil and destructive and,

Whereas, the BSA has, in effect, betrayed the model of principled leadership by practicing compromised leadership through succumbing to financial threats of already compromised corporate leaders and,

Whereas, it is obvious that the compromise of accepting as normative sexually immoral and abnormal behavior for membership in the BSA will inevitably and necessarily lead to the same compromise concerning BSA Troop adult leadership standards as it is now logically and legally untenable to accept sexually immoral and abnormal behavior as normative for Troop membership but reject it when the Scout grows to adulthood and desires to participate in the leadership; as well as the inevitable pressure to provide homosexual, bisexual and transgender leaders for the Scouts who claim to have such “orientations” and “preferences” and,

Whereas, the BSA in effect by its membership change has embraced the untenable, unbiblical, unscientific contemporary myth and proposition that sexually immoral behavior is genetically-determined and,

Whereas, Briarwood’s ministry to boys and young men who are struggling with issues of sexuality does not and for the sake of these boys and young men must not require affirming as acceptable what is not only unacceptable but destructive and,

Whereas, to love and accept people in general and those dealing with sexually immoral and abnormal confusion, tendencies, or questions is not enhanced and in fact is hindered by the deceitful myth that one must accept or affirm their sexually immoral or aberrant behavior in order to minister to them effectively (for instance; to love, accept and affirm a young man struggling with sexual immorality exhibited by practicing heterosexual promiscuity does not require BPC to affirm and/or accept heterosexual promiscuity as normative no matter how much the young man might insist he cannot help himself); and furthermore, since homosexuality is ultimately sexually immoral, destructive and aberrant; and since it cannot be treated as normative or genetically determined with integrity; and furthermore, it would be cruel and deceitful to treat sexually immoral behavior as acceptable in the name of love; therefore, it is the responsibility of Christians and the Christian church in every ministry and in every relationship to “speak the truth in love” since “to speak truth without love is cruelty and to love without truth is barbarity.”

Whereas, Christians and Christian ministry must also intentionally reject another popular myth which is the notion that tolerance is a virtue; when in fact tolerance is the last refuge of the cowardly, arrogant, bigoted and self-righteous since it is fundamentally patronizing and demeaning; instead BPC must embrace our Lord’s command to love others intentionally and personally with courage, compassion and humility; in other words we do not choose to tolerate people, we must choose to love them intentionally, relentlessly and personally; and we must not tolerate sin since it kills and destroys; and furthermore, we must not tolerate people since such toleration is demeaning; therefore, as sinners saved by grace we must love as we have been loved, as we are loved and even more specifically as Christ loves us and with Christ’s love to others by exposing sin and by exalting Christ who is Lord and Savior as revealed in the Good News of God’s grace which announces that Christ freely forgives sinners who come to Him by faith and repentance because He has paid for their sins on the Cross and also because He will transform sinners by the power of His marvelous grace; in other words, Christ “takes away our sins” and Christ takes us away from our sins; and even more gloriously Christ delights to save any and all sinners including homosexuals who, like all of us, are so easily seduced by the deceptive idolatry of sin and its addictions in general and by addictive sexual sins in particular and,

Whereas, the ministry of Briarwood Presbyterian Church to youth is multi-faceted and must be ethically consistent and since Biblical sexual ethics are consistently implemented in the multiple venues of its youth ministries  (i.e. Briarwood High School, BYG high school youth ministry, 56 Club, Raiders junior high ministry, Pioneer Clubs, Sunday School, Children’s worship, etc.) it would be unbiblical, illogical and deceitful to compromise by continuing Troop 254 under the new untenable and ultimately life-destroying membership standards and its inevitable future compromises and,

Whereas, there are other ministries which are existing or in process of development that would allow Briarwood to provide or consider providing a ministry to boys and young men using the historic BSA profile of camping, manhood, practical training, etc. and,

Whereas, there is a desire to seek, explore and implement a scouting ministry for boys with a fully uncompromised commitment to manly and virtuous character including the BSA historic oath affirming an unreserved vow to be “morally straight” affirming the Judeo-Christian ethic of sexuality as a gift of God to be enjoyed in the context of a monogamous, heterosexual marital relationship.

Therefore be it resolved, that the Briarwood Session for the sake of Gospel faithfulness and the ministry of grace and truth with heart-felt remorse in light of our historic and mutually beneficial relationship with BSA, yet constrained and motivated by the love of Christ, a desire to be faithful to God’s Word and the full confidence of God’s good and never failing Providence will sever its chartered relationship with the Boy Scouts of America and will also commit to continue to pray for our Lord to do a work of grace allowing the National Leadership of the Boy Scouts of America to repent of their recent and pending actions embracing sexual anarchy and leadership compromise under duress thereby returning to their historic commitment to do their “duty to God” and train young men to be “morally straight” and,

Furthermore be it resolved, that the Briarwood Session will continue its Gospel ministry of saving grace to boys and young men no matter what issues they are addressing in life including the issues of sexuality by “speaking the truth in love” through a Gospel message of grace and truth marked by clarity and conviction as well as a Gospel ministry of love and mercy manifested with compassion and courage and,

Furthermore be it resolved, the Briarwood Session will not only continue its multi-faceted Gospel ministry to youth in general and young men and boys in particular but will also continue to prayerfully and diligently consider future options for a consistent and effective ministry to boys and young men through a Christ-centered, Gospel-consistent and Holy Spirit-honoring scouting ministry and,

Furthermore be it resolved, that the ultimate desire of the Session of Briarwood Presbyterian Church is that the Triune God of Glory will be glorified and the Kingdom of God advanced and expanded through all of the ministries of Briarwood Presbyterian Church thereby remaining faithful to its Biblical mission and ministries….

“For God’s glory Briarwood is committed to equipping Christians to worship God and to reach Birmingham to reach the world for Christ.”

We do so affirm on this date, June 25, in the year of our Lord, 2013AD, the Session of Briarwood Presbyterian Church.

Harry L. Reeder, III

Moderator and Senior Pastor of the Briarwood Presbyterian Session and Church

Matthew R. Moore

Stated Clerk of the Briarwood Presbyterian Church Session

How are Pastors and Church Leaders Called? A Blog: From an Interview at Westminster Theological Seminary Part 2

How are pastors and church leaders called?

Well, it is clear that we ought to teach one of the great principles of the Reformation – Vocation or “calling” is a universal experience to every Christian. We have been “called” from darkness to light. We are “called” to serve the Lord. We are “called” to evangelize. We are “called” to worship. We are “called” to live for the Lord in every area of life. We are “called” to “work heartily as unto the Lord.” We are “called” to make all of life a worship statement as well as being “called” to gather with the Lord’s people for worship. The people of God are a “called out” – “called together” – “called to life for Christ” – beyond that, all have been gifted by the Lord and “called” by the Lord to minister in the body of Christ. There are some whose “calling” is to leadership. There are some whose “calling” positions them to be “worthy of double honor.” In other words, the Lord’s tithe is used to support them to work hard, not only at leadership but even more pointedly, at preaching and teaching. “Let the elders who rule well be considered worthy of double honor; especially those who work hard at preaching and teaching.” I Tim 5:17 When I speak to pastors about their “calling,” I think Spurgeon was on to something when he said, “if there is anything else you can do joyfully in the Lord for the rest of your life apart from the pastoral/preaching ministry then go and do it.” In other words, do not go into the pastoral ministry if you do not truly sense “woe be unto me if I do not preach the Gospel of Jesus Christ.” And also, that you know God has called you by the Holy Spirit through His church to the public ministry of pastor and preacher.

So how do you know if you have been called by the Lord?

Now, I am going to say something somewhat controversial. Do not go into the ministry “to be fulfilled.” I am fully aware that those who have been “called” to the ministry have moments and seasons of fulfillment. I also know they have moments and seasons of despair and absolute devastation and utter discouragement. If you go into the ministry to be fulfilled you will not “finish the course.” Then why go into the ministry? Because God has “called” you internally by the Holy Spirit and externally through His Church which means you go into the ministry having been “called” by the Lord to “fulfill the ministry” to which God has “called” you. Again, do not go into the ministry to be fulfilled. This is why Paul said at the conclusion of his ministry in II Timothy 4 – “I have been poured out as a drink offering.” Note that he does not say a “burnt offering.” Burnt offerings have ashes left but a drink offering has nothing left since it is fully poured out. Paul continues saying, “I have fought the good fight. I have finished the course. I have laid up for me a crown of righteousness.” Then Paul gave his concluding charge to Timothy. “Timothy fulfill your ministry.” He did not say for Timothy to be fulfilled in the ministry but he unequivocally challenged him in the faith to fulfill his ministry.

In a word, the church does not exist to provide me a job as a pastor. I have been “called” of the Lord to do a job for Jesus in His church and from His church into the world. I am not in the ministry to be fulfilled. Yes, there are fulfillments in it, but I’m in the ministry to fulfill my calling. It is only by being focused on Christ, the Gospel and His grace that you can stay the course, finish the race and fight the good fight. You are not in it for fulfillment in this life. You are in it for the wreathe and the life to come that He awards in that day when He says, “Well done, good and faithful servant.” Again, there are moments of fulfillment being that I love what I do. But, there are many moments when I ask myself, “Why are you taking this abuse?” and “Why are you in this?” It is because Christ “called me” to fulfill the ministry, not to be fulfilled.

How does a Pastor’s theological competence relate to his leadership in a church?

When we talk about Pastors there are all kinds of hyphens we have to put beside them, and rightly so because you have a Pastor-Teacher, Pastor-Preacher, Pastor-Evangelist, Pastor-Leader, Pastor-Shepherd. You are multiplying teachers, evangelists, preachers, and shepherds, but to some degree you embody all of those things. One important role would be that of a Pastor-Scholar. I tell people that almost all of the books on my shelf are written by guys named “John.” There is John Bunyan, John Calvin, John Brown, John Flavell, and Jonathon Edwards. It is amazing the John’s and Jonathon’s used by the Lord. They were not only authors but they were primarily Pastors.  As pastors, their study produced sermons worthy of publication which is why we have got to reclaim the Pastor’s study and jettison the Pastor’s office. Pastors have to lead, but our primary calling is prayer and the Word and to properly handle the Word, perform the sacraments, and lead in prayer requires us to be theologians. To be theologians requires us to “study to show yourself approved as workman who do not need to be ashamed handling accurately the word of truth.” II Tim 2:15

Leaders must be formed and framed by three elements:  theological formation, character formation, and skill formation. Most leadership courses focus on skills. I know churches where the Pastors are extraordinary theologians, and extraordinary communicators, but they split and destroy churches because they have a character problem. They are not living their theology. But, I also know that my people need a Pastor who theologically knows the Word of God to be able to convey the majesty of God that they may see the Glory of God, who now dwells within them by grace. Pastors must be equipped to deal with the ever intensifying assault of the dying “evil empire” against the church.  So, we should be inquiring, “How do you do that theologically?” instead of asking, “What’s the next program that everybody is talking about?” The bane of the church is its continual pursuit of “the next big thing” and therefore it loses its moorings by abandoning the Biblical message, the Biblical methods and the Biblical means in order to do the next “cool” thing.

I think part of the challenge is our churches are shallow because our pulpits are shallow. You have got to find a way to communicate popularly, but communicate profoundly theologically. Communicate so everyone can understand, not just PhD Christians. Yet communicate solid theology, so that people know how to live life based upon God’s Word, not just checking it out and making sure they are not going against it.

A “Supremely” Assured Devolution and Destruction of Marriage and Culture

Dr. Harry Reeder was asked to write the following for the Birmingham News Opinions/Editorials page by Mr. Joey Kennedy. It has been published on al.com.

http://www.al.com/opinion/index.ssf/2013/07/a_supremely_assured_devolution.html

The Supreme Court of the United States (SCOTUS) has struck down the Defense of Marriage Act (DOMA)! Did they? The answer is both yes and no.

The answer is no “factually.” SCOTUS left DOMA intact and even stated (disingenuously) that the Federal government has no Constitutional interest in defining marriage since it is a matter of state law. But the DOMA provision denying Federal benefits to same-sex couples living in states not recognizing same-sex marriage was declared unconstitutional. So how is it yes “actually?” Why were the “progressively cultural elites” high-fiving and cheering if it was not a “factual victory?” They knew the decision secured an inevitable “actual victory,” establishing a relentless trajectory to redefine marriage to accommodate so called same-sex marriage, driven by the desire to culturally affirm homosexuality as normative with its attendants of bi-sexuality and transgender-ism. So, where will this journey backward to the pagan practices of marital and sexual anarchy from which our barbarian forbearers were rescued centuries ago by the beneficial effects of Christianity lead us? Furthermore, how do those who desire to affirm and maintain the foundational institution of covenantal, conjugal, heterosexual, monogamous marriage respond to this marital and cultural devolution? First, let’s identify the inevitable consequences of this irrational and unconstitutional decision rivaled only by the devastating Dred Scott and Roe v. Wade rulings.

Consequence #1

All of the major religions of the world and the centuries of cultural progress and stability that the historic institution of marriage has provided is now framed by Justice Kennedy as “inhumane,” “stigmatizing,” “intolerant” and “bigoted.” So, who is actually “stigmatizing,” “intolerant” and “bigoted?” This, at best thoughtless and at worst, absurd language in the majority opinion was clearly designed not only to frame the opposition but also to intimidate.

Consequence #2

The “historic” view affirming marriage as essential to establishing families as the foundational building block of culture is now abandoned for a redefined view of marriage. Historically marriage was a covenantal (assent), conjugal (sexually consummated), monogamous (i.e. Utah was not allowed into the Union until they affirmed monogamy outlawing polygamy) and child-focused, protecting and nurturing the next generation. The “new” definition of marriage is an agreed partnership for personal fulfillment accommodating and affirming as normative any sexual behavior agreed upon by “consenting” adults. Therefore, marriage is no longer exclusively heterosexual. Monogamy cannot logically or legally be maintained since the identical arguments to abandon the “historic” view will also eventually affirm poly-amorous, bigamous, and polygamous “marriages.” Furthermore, marriage will no longer be conjugal as sexual consummation is biologically impossible in same-sex marriages. Finally, the flourishing of the next generation will no longer be the primal focus of marriage for two reasons. One, same-sex marriage cannot biologically reproduce children apart from technological intrusion and intervention. Two, by law and definition SCOTUS has now sentenced a segment of the next generation to either a “fatherless” or “motherless” family. A father’s love and guidance is overlapping yet distinct from a mother’s love and guidance and the reverse is also true. Both are necessary for a child’s well-being. While you can be a man or a woman and not give a father’s or mother’s love you cannot give a father’s love without being a man nor a mother’s love without being a woman. Men and women are equal but not interchangeable. In a broken world with disease, death and divorce single parenting is a reality which must be thoughtfully addressed with compassion by responsive communities, extended families and churches. But same-sex marriage and its future mutations intentionally assigns children to the disaster of either a fatherless or motherless childhood out of our self-absorbed pursuit of sexual anarchy now accommodated by sexual, marital and family chaos.

Consequence #3

Enshrining Four Mythologies:

Myth #1: The untenable notion Biblically or scientifically that the practice of homosexuality is a genetically-determined sexual behavior.

Myth #2:  To love and accept someone you must affirm and accept their behavior. As a sinner, saved by grace, I am called to love and accept others humbly and intentionally. But doing so does not require affirming and accepting their behavior. In fact, it may require challenging their behavior. “Faithful are the wounds of a friend.” To love a heterosexually promiscuous person, for instance, does not require me to accept and affirm their sexually immoral behavior even if they insist they cannot help themselves. I can share the forgiving grace of God in Christ who paid for our sins on the cross and the transforming power of God’s grace in Christ who not only “takes away our sins” but “takes us away from our sins”.

Myth #3: Tolerance as a virtue. Tolerance is actually the last refuge of the arrogant, bigoted and self-righteous. God calls Christians not to patronizingly tolerate others but to actively love them. Sin is not tolerated because it kills. People are not tolerated because it demeans. Homosexuals are no different than any of us caught in the deceptive, idolatry of any addictive sin. They, like us, are to be loved compassionately and courageously.

Myth #4: Sexually immoral behavior has amazingly become a civil right. This is an absolute affront to those who have experienced discrimination due to their God-given skin color.

Response? As a citizen, thoughtfully be engaged. Public policy is locally driven and the result of cultural engagement. As a Christian, first pray that the Lord would not “give us over” and instead send another Gospel Awakening like the one that gave birth to this nation in the 18th century. Second, commit “to speak the truth in love.” “Truth without love is barbarity and love without truth is cruelty.” Christ warned us that men and women, unrestrained by God’s grace, will call good, evil and evil, good. But in reality, while we may call what is immoral, legal, we cannot make moral what God has declared immoral. Finally remember that, in a sense, the SCOTUS decision has not changed a thing. The issues are still the same. “The wages of sin is death but the free gift of God is eternal life through Jesus Christ, our Lord.” This message saves sinners with redeeming grace and blesses a nation with common grace.