Shepherd’s Conference removes Alistair Begg from speaker lineup

Photo via Truth for Life

Pastor Alistair Begg, who had been scheduled to speak in March at the Shepherd’s Conference led by pastor John MacArthur, has now been removed from the conference website’s featured speakers page* after controversial remarks Begg made in which he gave unbiblical advice to a Christian about attending a family member’s wedding to a transsexual. After Begg’s comments became public, MacArthur and Begg talked and both decided the controversy would be “an unnecessary distraction,” according to Phil Johnson, executive director of Grace to You.

“Pastor MacArthur’s counsel on that issue would be completely different from the counsel Alistair Begg said he gave an inquiring grandmother,” Johnson told Religion News Service in an email. “So both agreed that it was necessary for Pastor Begg to withdraw.”

UPDATE: Ligonier Ministries operates an internet radio network called Reformation Network, or RefNet, and has as of 2/02/24 quietly removed Truth for Life from their website. Truth for Life was removed from the partners listing and also four time slots on Saturdays, and were replaced with reruns of R. C. Sproul.

Begg has been the pastor of Parkside Church in Cleveland, Ohio since 1983, more than 40 years. He also heads up his own parachurch teaching ministry, Truth for Life. Until recently, his Truth for Life broadcasts could be heard on over 1800 Christian radio stations via AFR, American Family Radio. For many years, Alistair Begg has been regarded by millions as a doctrinally sound, trustworthy pastor and teacher.

Last week American Family Radio announced it dropped Alistair Begg’s program, Truth for Life, because of the pastor’s advice in a podcast last September to a grandmother to go ahead and attend her grandson’s wedding ceremony to a transgender person, because Begg would not retract that advice when AFR spoke to him. Days later, on January 28 during a sermon to his church, Pastor Begg tripled down on his counsel.
What does the Bible have to say about sexual immorality and a pastor’s responsibility to teach and counsel according to sound doctrine? A Word Fitly Spoken Podcast breaks down the history and examines Pastor Begg’s comments in the light of Scripture. Listen here:

*Note: For clarity and accuracy sake, the article’s headline has been amended with the additional “…from speaker lineup,” after it was pointed out that just saying Begg was removed did not match with Phil Johnson’s quote that said, “both agreed that it was necessary for Pastor Begg to withdraw.” Truthful journalism is important, and I will make every attempt to get it right. A heartfelt thanks to those who have pointed out the discrepancy.

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8 Responses to Shepherd’s Conference removes Alistair Begg from speaker lineup

  1. Michelle February 1, 2024 at 1:38 pm #

    To be consistent, Shepherd’s would need to disinvite John Piper for his continuationist stance and partnerships with men like Louie Giglio, his confusing teaching on final/future justification, and his refusal to defend his own wife from a hypothetical attacker. And, Begg is not the only Reformed preacher to give this exact advice. In the recent past, Adriel Sanchez of Core Christianity gave similar advice but no one seemed to blink an eye or respond with the same ferocity they have with Begg. I vehemently disagree with both men on this issue but don’t see an urgency to ‘cancel’ them or their vast body, even decades of faithful ministry.

  2. Mark Escalera February 1, 2024 at 2:38 pm #

    Sadly, I think these ladies are playing with semantics. This still falls under the LGBTQ agenda and is NOT confusing in any way. If a man is marrying a transperson, there are only one of two options if it is indeed a grandson that Alistair spoke of (his story changed). 1) The other person is a biological female transitioning into becoming a “male” in which case the grandson is supporting, endorsing, and lusting after a homosexual relationship. 2) The other person is a biological male transitioning into becoming a “female.” This is still a homosexual relationship with two men.

    If it is a granddaughter in question, then still only two options. 1) The other person is a biological female transitioning into becoming a “male” which is then a lesbian relationship or 2) the other person is a biological male transitioning into becoming a “female” which is still a lesbian relationship.

    • Amy S. February 2, 2024 at 10:52 am #

      With all respect, does that matter? The focus should be on whether the grandmother should celebrate this matrimonial ceremony. Not which kind of sexual confusion makes their union somehow biologically correct. We are not the ones twisting semantics.

  3. Martin Dorgan February 1, 2024 at 7:06 pm #

    I have to wonder about the wedding at Cana: was there any sin in any of the lives of the wedding party? How many wedding have we attended where the bride or groom had been divorced? How many weddings have we attended where the bride and groom were of different faiths, one a Christian and the other not? But we bite our tongues.

    I am not condoning sin, nor do I exempt any from being accountable. But aside from the obvious sin of sexual nature (and recognizing that the celebration is necessarily confronting it), there are other things to consider. When Jesus went to Simon’s house, he knew the house was a hotbed of sinful players but he used the occasion to show God’s mercy to the penitent woman who washed his feet with her tears. He went to Samaria, a place of people deemed spiritually unclean. Yet he openly rebuked those who kept the law (supposedly).

    I don’t pretend to have an answer, but to ‘cancel’, whether mutually or one-sided, doesn’t seem to be intellectually honest. But that is just my understanding.

  4. Ronald Kays February 2, 2024 at 1:46 am #

    Have always liked and respected Alistair.

    I believe he is wrong (and am not persuaded by commenters attempting to draw parallels between Beggs’s action and Jesus’s in a given situation).

    Bottom line: Attending the wedding ceremony of “transgender” persons knowingly is tacit approval of their assertion that they are powerful enough to “change” their sex/gender. That is biblically untenable.

    When Jesus attended a dinner in the presence of many sinners, He by no means validated their sinfulness. Rather, He called them out for their hypocrisy (in contrast to Mary’s humility and worship) … “ Simon, I have a question for you …”

    Christians using “preferred pronouns” in social media presents the same issue as Begg’s advice—to do so lends tacit credibility to the “transgender” claim of omnipotent creative power. Looking at you, Gary K.

    The “loving” action is to quietly and graciously opt out (of the wedding; of using pronouns; etc.). No explicit reason to explain unless pressed for a reason. Explaining the Sovereignty of God over Creation is not difficult to do.

  5. Danny February 2, 2024 at 2:21 pm #

    I agree with some here who say that opting out in love would be the correct option for grandma. One can love a grandson and not support his perversions which God says are an abomination to Him [Lev. 18]. Telling the grandson that he will always have access to “grandma” is the loving open door left for a blind, errant grandson. If he loves grandma, he will understand that grandma loves him but will just not support by her smiling attendance acts that God has deemed repulsive, unnatural and abominable. In this age of moral decline, it becomes more and more difficult to steer clear of giving tacit approval to the ever-growing depravities of those who seek to express “love” without knowing the Giver of life and love.

  6. Carmen February 2, 2024 at 4:41 pm #

    I’m so thankful to The Lord that none of my 3 precious grandchildren would even think of inviting me to be a part of something like this. They know where I stand, and though I believe they are on the same page, they also respect me enough to not ask me to be a part of something so vile. And we love each other very much. But Jesus, the most ❤️

  7. Rock Nixon February 14, 2024 at 6:31 pm #

    Rock N. I have watched Alistair for years. While my example is different from what Alistair actually gave, the circumstances are similar.My only grandson became addicted to heroin. I loved him deeply and on numerous occasions explained to him that I could never approve of his drug use. Even when he was going through serious withdrawal, I did not give him money for drugs and he still knew that I loved him regardless of his addiction. He knew where I stood and understood that I would always be there for him. The night before he died we had a long conversation in which I expressed my love for him, and his love for me, but he was not ready to change his lifestyle. You can express and maintain your love for someone without compromising your faith.

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