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

The Gospel Reformation Network

The Gospel Reformation Network (GRN), a gathering of over 100 ministers and elders from the Presbyterian Church in America (PCA), met in Atlanta on February 6-7, 2012, focusing on the gospel as sufficient for believers for life and ministry.

The GRN gathering came as a result of a consultation that was held in August 2011, which was held to discuss the nature of the gospel in light of what is sometimes called the contemporary grace movement. This movement appears to focus on grace to the apparent neglect of the place of God’s law in the believer’s life and ministry. As a result, the GRN centered its discussion on the definitions of justification and sanctification and how they function in the Christian life and affect ministry.

The discussion between the various groups has been framed in terms of opposite poles, the place of God’s law and God’s grace, legalism and antinomianism. The consultation recognized that the issues in this discussion are as old as church history, with just about every generation of the church wrestling with them, and is now a present reality in this generation.

One of the goals of the GRN meeting was a desire to clarify the nature of the discussion as it has been taught and written about over the last decade. One member of the organizing committee noted, “We want to deal with the issue pastorally and theologically, not polemically; this is a time to educate the church on this topic so we can all grow up into maturity in Christ.”

Speakers and topics included:

Dr. Harry Reeder, pastor of Briarwood Presbyterian Church in Birmingham, Ala., on “The Grace of God Has Appeared.”

Dr. Ligon Duncan, pastor of First Presbyterian Church in Jackson, Miss., on “What is Salvation by Grace?”

Rev. Richard Phillips, pastor of Second Presbyterian Church in Greenville, S.C., on “The Relationship Between Justification and Sanctification.”

Dr. Liam Goligher, pastor of Tenth Presbyterian Church in Philadelphia, Penn., on “The Use of the Law in Gospel Ministry.”

Dr. Michael Ross, pastor of Christ Covenant Presbyterian Church in Matthews, N.C., on “The Heart and Life of the Gospel Minister.”

The question was asked, “Where do we go from here?” The answer was that “the GRN desires to discuss the issues with those who may define terms differently so that together we may all see the gospel deeply affect Christian life and ministry.”

These messages are available here online where you can listen to them.  To downloaded right click on “Listen Now” and click on “Save link as” to save the messages to your computer.

Other commenting blogs of interest:

JoelWS.com

Thoughts From a Drafted Moderator on the 38th General Assembly of the PCA

This past month I was given the extraordinary honor and privilege to serve the Presbyterian Church in America as Moderator of our General Assembly in Nashville, June 29-July 2. Needless to say, the task was daunting as well as challenging. Our General Assembly, besides usual business, tackled a highly debated initiative which had been making its way through the committees of the denomination called the PCA Strategic Plan. The purpose of the plan is to address issues of proper funding for our Administrative Committee as well as to give vision for the future as the church fulfills its Biblical mission from God’s Word, specifically the Great Commission. As Moderator, it was my responsibility to guide the (at times intense and often tedious) process of debate as well as commission requests, competence and parliamentary procedures of motions and amendments. My lack of confidence was probably evident on numerous occasions but was greatly ameliorated by the able assistance of the Stated Clerk of the PCA, Dr. Roy Taylor and the appointed parliamentarians, Ruling Elders John White and Sam Duncan as well as a complement of assistant clerks. Their experience, abilities and servant hearts allowed me to not only do what I was called to do but they enabled me to do it much more effectively than I would have ever been able to do alone, which is further evidence to me of the wisdom of our Lord with the marvelous blessing of diversity in callings and gifts throughout the body of Christ.

I have determined, since my responsibility as moderator continues through the entire year, not to comment upon the merits or demerits of the PCA Strategic Plan in order to remain in an appropriate position if needed for future occasions that might necessitate the role of the moderator.

What I would like to do is comment on the conduct of the GA in general and a few observations in particular. As moderator, not only was I positioned for such observations, but of necessity was also continually engaged and therefore became impressionable to a number of dynamics.

1. Mission and Vision – First of all was the obvious desire of those in the General Assembly of the PCA to fulfill our original vision which is bound up with the simple yet, I believe, profound and timeless statement that the PCA be “True to the Scriptures, the Reformed faith, and obedient to the Great Commission of Jesus Christ.” As we were considering this Strategic Plan there seemed to be a heart desire by those in the Assembly to maintain our faithfulness to this historic three-fold vision of the PCA. In the midst of debate and discussion I sensed that no matter where one stood on the issues the constant refrain and prevalent passion was to remain anchored to the simple yet crucial mission and vision of being “true to the Scriptures, the Reformed faith, and obedient to the Great Commission of Jesus Christ.”

2. Truth –  Even more specifically, there were stated concerns that in the name of relevance, to reach the culture, there was not enough attention being given to those things which give permanence to the effectiveness of the church transcending the contemporary issues of the culture. And there were some who were concerned that in the name of permanence we as a church were not thoughtfully responding to the ever changing dynamics of the contemporary culture therefore, losing relevance and influence.  Yet, what remained clear was the desire of the vast majority of those engaged in debate to be anchored as well as both informed and conformed to the Word of God. In other words, the General Assembly desired to be faithful and fruitful as an overarching banner defining the discussion. Some were concerned that in the name of faithfulness there was not necessary thought to effectiveness. Some thought that in the pursuit of effectiveness there was a possible erosion of principled faithfulness.

3. LoveAnother observation is that in the midst of the debate which was marked by passion and precision the ever present attitudes and actions of respect and civility along with the judgment of charity continually surfaced throughout the Assembly. To me, from where I stood as Moderator, it was heartening to see brothers who desire to be faithful to God’s Word through the mission of the church and even though they, at times, intensely disagreed over strategy I honestly observed the prevalence of respect through proper questions and comments, civility in response and attempting to understand the other person’s position.

4. Advice –  When I was informed a few weeks prior to the assembly that I was going to be nominated it struck me as odd. The reason is because even though I have had the privilege to preach to the General Assembly on a number of occasions, have regularly led seminars and have never missed a General Assembly since my ordination in 1982, I have never spoken on the floor of General Assembly in debate. There are a number of reasons that I haven’t but initially it is because I am convinced of the marvelous proverbial wisdom that “even a fool is thought to be wise if he keeps silent.”  My father taught me years ago that it is impossible to learn while you are talking and believe me I continue to have much to learn. I also realize that unless you are extremely wise and gifted the more you talk the less effective you usually are so you can see the numerous reasons that it was a choice of wisdom for me not to speak on the floor of General Assembly. There is a time for silence, and yes silence can be golden, but it can also be yellow. I would not recommend silence because of cowardice or self preservation. But I do have some advice. There is more than one of us who is guilty of dominating the microphone and making our opinions known more than necessary. The General Assembly of the PCA may seem like a Session meeting but in reality it is not. It may feel like a committee meeting but in reality it is not. If there is something that needs to be said, say it. The General Assembly is always in need of knowing all that it needs to know. But the General Assembly is not in need of knowing all that you know or all that you think you know or even all that you think the General Assembly should know that you know. And by the way, if silent, we may be amazed at how much we don’t know, and that someone else will say what we thought needed to be said and perhaps they will say it better than we could have said it. The result is to find out how much we might yet be able to know and learn.

5. Pray – Orthodoxy (believing the right thing) and orthopraxy (doing the right thing) is glorious but it is dead when done in the flesh and without the Holy Spirit. So, my desire is that through intercessory prayer we might seek the Lord’s presence and power, through the Holy Spirit, as a denomination.  May God grant us a hatred of relying on the flesh and an unstoppable desire to be filled with His Spirit. When we look to ourselves, may it be with full knowledge of the weakness and trembling and when we look to the Lord, may it be with confidence and desire. Without Him we can “do nothing” but “I can do all things through him who strengthens me.”

It is my conviction that the PCA has been and is basically on target but we are at a crucial point. We are approaching our 40th year. It is clear from Scripture and church history that arriving at such an age of any Christian church or movement has arrived at a turning point. The 40 – 80 year time-frame seems to be a crucial moment for institutions and movements. Either they maintain their roots and extend their branches to bear more fruit or they begin the process of uprooting their roots in the name of bearing more fruit and begin to lose fruitfulness having abandoned faithfulness. Many of our seminaries, churches and institutions as well as our denomination are at such a crucial moment in the 40 – 80 year season. The issue for us is God’s sovereign grace granting us direction to deal with this season by the God given blessing of Godly, faithful and wise leaders who in turn give effective leadership.

God has granted the PCA influence beyond its numbers and notoriety. Now, what will we do until Christ comes? What do I think? Well, this is more than an abstract consideration as I have the enormous blessing of pastoring Briarwood Presbyterian Church as we celebrate our 50th year.  My desire is that God would allow us to celebrate and learn intentionally from our past, to consecrate and live effectively in the present and passionately look with anticipation to the future. Perhaps, the most crucial element in such generational transition is God-centered, grace saturated, Bible immersed, spirit filled  leadership which knows the blessing of timely timelessness and the joy of God-anchored permanence producing world shaking relevance.

Desiring to think in Biblical Perspective,

Harry