NEWS BRIEFS: David Platt weighs in on Rob Bell controversy; Colo. civil unions advance

BIRMINGHAM, Ala. (BP)--Pastor and author David Platt, on a mission trip in India, has weighed in on the controversy over Rob Bell's latest book by saying "intellectual universalism is dangerous" but "functional universalism is worse."

Platt, author of the New York Times best-selling "Radical" and pastor of the Church at Brook Hills in Birmingham, Ala., recorded a four-minute video that was posted at Vimeo.com and at the church's blog (http://bhglobalblog.org).

Bell, in "Love Wins," affirms a form of universalism and denies there is a literal hell.

"If we believe that everyone is going to be OK in the end," Platt said, "[and] if we embrace universalism however it is cloaked, then we're free to live our lives however we want, to sit back as easygoing Christians in comfortable churches, because in the end all these masses are going to be OK."

But if there is a literal hell and people are perishing without the Gospel, "we don't have time to play games with our lives," Platt said.

"I hope that no one who knows me as either pastor or person would question or wonder where I stand on this issue. The crux of the Bible is clear and the story of redemption is sure.... [I]ntellectual universalism is dangerous, thinking that in the end everyone is going to be OK. But functional universalism is worse, living like in the end everyone is going to be OK. So let's fight them both -- in our heads, in our hearts, let's hold fast to the truth of this Gospel.

"And in our lives, let's sacrifice what we have -- our possessions and our plans and our dreams, our safety, our security, if necessary our own lives, to make this Gospel known among all peoples. That is the only possible response for people who really believe this Book."

COLO. SENATE PASSES CIVIL UNIONS BILL -- The Democratic-controlled Colorado Senate passed a bill March 24 that would legalize same-sex civil unions, sending it to the Republican-controlled House, where it faces a much tougher road. The bill passed the Senate, 23-12. If signed into law, it would grant homosexual couples the state legal benefits of marriage, except the name. In other states such as Connecticut, New Hampshire and Vermont, civil unions have been used as a stepping stone to "gay marriage" legalization. Colorado's constitution prohibits "gay marriage."

Colorado voters rejected a proposal in 2006 that is nearly identical to the civil unions bill. Opponents also say most of the benefits already are available in Colorado law.

100 UNBORN BABIES SAVED IN CAMPAIGN -- The latest 40 Days for Life campaign has recorded 101 unborn children saved from abortion, the organization reported March 20.

The biannual campaign consists of 40 days of prayer and fasting to end abortion, as well as community outreach and peaceful prayer vigils outside abortion clinics. Since 2007, there have been nearly 3,600 unborn children spared from abortion during 40 Days campaigns, according to reports to the organization.

Volunteers at two 40 Days vigil sites reported dramatic declines in abortions March 15.

Tuesdays are the only days surgical abortions are performed at Planned Parenthood of Lincoln, Neb., but none were scheduled or performed March 15, a volunteer named Sheila reported to 40 Days. "We do not know why," she said. "We are blessed that God has chosen to reveal these fruits. Truly our prayers are saving lives."

In Virginia Beach, Va., Planned Parenthood performed seven abortions March 15 instead of its normal 10 to 15, reported Marcia, the local 40 Days coordinator.

ABORTION-FUNDING BAN REACHES MILESTONE -- A government-wide ban on federal funding of abortion has achieved a majority in cosponsors alone in the U.S. House of Representatives.

As of March 22, the No Taxpayer Funding for Abortion Act, H.R. 3, had 221 cosponsors. A majority in the House is 218 votes. Typically, votes for a bill surpass the number of cosponsors.

The proposal, which was approved by the Judiciary Committee, would institute a permanent ban on federal funds and subsidies for abortion. It would serve to standardize bans on abortion funding that now exist in various federal programs, many of which have to be approved each year, and make certain the prohibition extends to all agencies. It also would provide conscience clause protections for pro-life, health-care providers.

Rep. Chris Smith, R.-N.J., is the bill's chief sponsor.


Compiled by Michael Foust, associate editor of Baptist Press, and Tom Strode, Washington bureau chief for Baptist Press.

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