Wednesday, June 11, 2008

Not just a broken confession of sin but a disappearing one!

In May of this year, the Office of Interfaith Relations, Presbyterian Church (USA), placed on their web site a paper, “Vigilance against Anti-Jewish Ideas and Bias.” The paper was highly praised by many including the Jewish Community. Now the original paper has been edited in the extreme. The Presbyterian Office of Interfaith Relations is no longer confessing the sin of anti-Semitism for the Church. The statement has been removed.

The Jewish Council for Public Affairs has produced a paper combining the original paper with both the deleted and added material. However it is not on the web yet. In the mean time here is the original found at Jewish Christian Relations
, and here is the new version found on the PCUSA web site, "Vigilance against Anti-Jewish Bias in the Pursuit of Israeli-Palestinian Peace.”

This newly revised document is changed in many ways. An attitude of humility in the face of past wrongs has turned to arrogance. As stated above, this sentence, “However, we are aware and do confess that anti-Jewish attitudes can be found among us,” has been removed. Instead the paper refers to Israel as “oppressors.”

Additionally, this redone paper softens its original accusation that liberation theology has contributed to anti-semitism. Instead using a distinction between anti-semitism and anti-Judaism the authors attempt to avoid attributing any complicity in anti-semitism to those who advocate entirely for Palestine. Yet those who advocate entirely for the Palestinians, while failing to uphold the rights of Israel, are those who use liberation theology. It is a complete circle.

It is as though a liberation theologian came upon the original paper, “Vigilance against Anti-Jewish Ideas and Bias,” took out a pair of scissors and started hacking away at it.

After cutting out any confession of the sin of anti-semitism she added all of the material that has already appeared in so many other Presbyterian papers such as a call for ”an end to the Israel occupation of Palestinian territories,” and the need to “speak out against the placement of the separation barrier…”

Looking around for someone to blame for the prevailing anti-semitism in the Presbyterian Church she added “On the other hand, anti-Jewish’ attitudes and actions are deeply rooted in the teaching of contempt for the Jews, which has its antecedents in a strong strand of Christian theology in which the Jews are replaced and superseded by Christians."

Perhaps this hacking liberationist does not realize that those who believe that Jesus Christ is the only way to the Father also believe that God does not revoke his promises to the Jews. But it is the liberationist who has forgotten the Jewish people and their story.

Liberation theology and this redone paper equate the Exodus story with the promise of land to all people. It isn’t that liberation theology eliminates the Jewish people from that promise but rather such theology turns it into a material promise for all rather than a particular promise given historically to Israel. The author destroys Israel’s particular history and misses the true meaning of the Exodus for Christians, which is a metaphor for their new life in Christ.

This isn’t to say that other peoples should not have land nor that land isn’t God’s gift to them but the liberation theologian eliminates the particularity of the Jewish people.

But I digress. How utterly unthinkable, that Church Officials should place a paper on their web site urging others to avoid anti-semitism, collecting the praise of both Christians and Jews alike, and then, in reality, switching papers, only giving their latter edition which is anti-Semitic the same name as the first faithful, truthful and humbly written paper. How will the Jewish people ever trust the Presbyterian Church (USA) again?

1 For instance this quote in the new version, "Polemic that identifies today’s oppressors with Jewish authorities in the time of Jesus is especially problematic, and clouds an accurate understanding of the current situation."


Anonymous said...

The link takes the reader to a AT&T web mail page.

Viola Larson said...

The pdf file was sent to me in an e-mail, I copied it from there and am trying to fix it now.

Viola Larson said...

hsgbdmama & others. I did not realize that the pdf file was not on the web and that it would not link that way. I have now in the post linked to the original paper on another site and to the new version on the PCUSA site. If the pdf file becomes available on the web I will then link to it.

Bill Crawford said...

It is so tiring to have to watch the termites at work in Louisville.

Anonymous said...

Surely we did not actually think that Louisville was capable of self-criticism?

Now I'm doubly glad that I did not praise a document that was not long for this world...

Anonymous said...

I could not believe how different those two documents were - the first from May 2008 and the other from June.

I wonder what happened in the Never-Never-Land of Louisville to bring about such a change.


Viola Larson said...

We can only guess unless the Office of Interfaith Relations wants to tell the truth.

Debbie said...

This is sickening and disheartening. Thanks for exposing it, Viola.

Did the people who did this have the authority to do it? This is the question in my mind. How were they allowed to overwrite the previous document?


Viola Larson said...

I hope all of those answers are eventually given in a truthful way without spin or are at least exposed.

Viola Larson said...

I did praise the first document in a letter to Prebyweb. I am not sorry, it was a good paper as I have pointed out. But that is also part of the reason I so quickly wrote this post. I and I am sure many others feel betrayed.

will said...

Toby & Viola -

Hi. It was fully appropriate to praise the May document. That was an act of courage and honesty.

The change - offered without announcement or explanation - is extremely jarring. And it guts everything good in the original.

Anonymous said...

Vi and Will,

I know that praising it was appropriate. I'm just glad that I didn't!


Mac said...

The PC(USA) has discovered a time machine to return us to the (fictional?) 1984.

Glenn Buzbee said...

Things like this make it truly depressing to admit you are part of such a denomination. I'm ashamed of us.

Anonymous said...

It is unconscionable to have released an article about the importance of addressing and healing antisemitism within the faith and then revising it in such a way to turn it into a document which calls supporters of Israel "oppressors" and even attempts to redefine antisemitism as something different from anti-judaism. This will go down as another historic antisemitic incident of false accusation and betrayal this time perpetrated by the PCUSA. Documents which ignore the responsibility of Palestinians for actions which include the deliberate bombing of schools, buses, and missile firings - attacks directed solely at civilians - crimes which are unacceptable even in wartime - while at the same time criticizing the attempts of Israel to defend herself will always be seen as obviously one-sided and contemptible. This same document is displayed prominently even proudly as Presbyterian policy towards Jewish people. It is obvious why the Jewish community is appalled by this policy, the way it was done yes, but most especially its content. Vile. Immoral.