Monday, June 30, 2008

Telling the Truth

The writer of Proverbs admonishes the reader to “Buy truth, and do not sell it …” Ephesians tells the Christian that they are not to “be carried about by every wind of doctrine, by the trickery of men, by craftiness in deceitful scheming,” but are instead to speak truth in love. (Eph 4:14-15)

The absolute lack of such understanding about truth was pictured to me while sitting as an observer in the Ecumenical & Interfaith Committee at General Assembly. My nervousness over testifying against the overture that would declare that Muslims and Christians worship the same God was gone. All that was left was anxiety that the General Assembly would be unfaithful enough to pass the overture.

But I turned my attention to David Thompson, the minister from Westminster Presbyterian Church in Sacramento, wondering if he was testifying on some overture or just observing?

Thompson is the minister, who along with his associates, filed complaints when the Sacramento Presbytery allowed First Presbyterian Church of Roseville and Fair Oaks Presbyterian Church to leave with their property for a sum of money considered a gift. The two Churches in turn dropped their suit for their Church property. They of course had to return to court when the Synod agreed with Thompson, and they won the case.

When the Presbytery voted not to appeal, Thompson filed another complaint, causing the Synod to insist the Presbytery file an appeal. (
Stay of Enforcement) Thompson was not finished. He stood before the Ecumenical & Interfaith Committee and testified that the Evangelical Presbyterian Church was stealing churches and millions of dollars from the Sacramento Presbytery.

Thompson was the only one who testified for approval of “
On Investigating the Actions and Conduct of the Evangelical Presbyterian Church.” Did he offer proof? Hardly. He talked about web sites where churches can receive information about how to leave the PCUSA.

It can truthfully be stated that First Presbyterian Church of Roseville has a considerable amount of information on their web site which their members used in deciding if they as a church would leave the PCUSA. Included in this information is the web site of the EPC which offers a fifty page booklet entitled,
Information Packet for Inquiring Churches

In the booklet is this statement:

“The EPC takes no joy at divisions existing within any body which bear the name ‘Church of Jesus Christ.’ We join our voices in prayer to the many within and without the PC(USA) for God to bring reconciliation, truth and righteousness. The EPC will retain the posture it has in the past toward other denominations with respect to those interested in or seeking dismissal – we do not recruit congregations from other communions but we will respond quickly and helpfully to those who wish to explore a relationship with the EPC.”

I have read most of the material that was offered as handouts at meetings of both Roseville and Fair Oaks. There was certainly no recruiting by EPC but there was plenty of information about the failure of the Presbyterian Church USA to uphold the faith of the Church. And that was not material published or produced by the Evangelical Presbyterian Church but by members of the PCUSA. The failure of the PCUSA to uphold their standards has everything to do with the loss of two very vibrant and evangelical churches from the Sacramento Presbytery.

While I am not a New Wineskin Presbyterian nor am I at this time intending to leave the PCUSA, I now have a picture of what falsehood looks like and am pained that I am part of a denomination that would persecute their brothers and sisters. And I confess part of the confession written by Bonhoeffer in his book Ethics, The Church confesses
“She has not convicted the slanderer of his wrongdoing, and she has thereby abandoned the slandered to his fate.”

Saturday, June 28, 2008

In the presence of evil

In the book That Hideous Strength, C. S. Lewis describes a group of people who, in one way or another, have become refugees from their own homes. They are taken under the wings of the Director whose name is Ransom. They are living in the presence of evil as they watch a group of diabolical utopians tear apart their familiar world, a small but ancient college town.

The beauty of this story is that the gathered people live as a family expecting to do great things in the presence of great evil. But the most important thing they do is follow the directions of the Director whether that is doing kitchen or garden duty or running risky errands for Ransom. In the end it is the wizard, Merlin and all the powers of heaven that confront and destroy the evil as those in Ransom’s house simply watch with some wonder.

The Church in the world, the ancient city of God, those gathered under the care of Jesus often face evil and faithlessness. But it is faithfulness and obedience that is required. The words of Holy Scripture are His directions.

“But you, beloved ought to remember the words that were spoken beforehand by the apostles of our Lord Jesus Christ, that they were saying to you, ‘In the last time there will be mockers, following after their own ungodly lusts.’ These are the ones who cause divisions, worldly-minded, devoid of the Spirit. But you, beloved, building yourselves up on your most holy faith, praying in the Holy Spirit, keep yourselves in the love of God, waiting anxiously for the mercy of our Lord Jesus Christ to eternal life. And have mercy on some, who are doubting; save others, snatching them out of the fire; and on some have mercy with fear, hating even the garment polluted by the flesh.
Now to Him who is able to keep you from stumbling, and to make you stand in the presence of His glory blameless with great joy, to the only God our savior, through Jesus Christ our Lord, be glory, majesty, dominion and authority, before all time and now and forever. Amen. (Jude 17-25)

Thursday, June 26, 2008

Evelyn Waugh and the 218 General Assembly

The Catholic writer Evelyn Waugh wrote a historical novel about Helena the mother of Constantine; I was reminded of a conversation in that story as I thought about last night’s plenary session. In the novel Helena visits the holy sites of Jerusalem where she later, according to Catholic tradition, finds the cross of Christ.

But the conversation I was thinking of was about those Christians who languished in prison during the last Roman persecution (250 A.D.). Some in the leadership of the Church, while their sisters and brothers accepted death and prison, collaborated with the officials, in order to avoid prison. In a conversation between Helena and another person it is explained to her how the Christians in prison watched their pastors and bishops enter the prison in conversation with their persecutors, walking by their cells without a care.

Many of those who betrayed the sheep of their particular pasture were later forgiven and allowed back into the Church. (As an aside, there were those who did not want to allow them back. This became the
Donatist controversy.)

But how this connects with last nights plenary session is how the commissioners were treated by those who officiated over the General Assembly debate on several of the overtures concerning Christians and Muslims, or as one person put it the Muslims and Jesus.

As some on the floor of the Assembly attempted, by amendments, to make sure the church did not enter into apostasy by saying that Christians and Muslims worship the same God ,the Moderator of the Church and others attempted to keep them from their witness.

In particular, the moderator of committee 7 and the new Moderator of the General Assembly, unfairly, paid little attention to parliamentary rules.

As one commissioner gave a strong defense of not using the term a “common God” on the basis of neither offending her Saudi relatives nor her own faith, the committee moderator interrupted her and was not ruled out of order. (Although the commissioner did finish)

The committee moderator was allowed to ask to have a Muslim clergy person who was on the platform speak to the commissioners. This was permitted without the vote of the commissioners and then, although there was someone waiting to speak for the motion, the Assembly Moderator called on a commissioner who was asking to call the question. That meant that after the Muslim speaker no one was allowed to refute anything he said.

Needless to say this means that in both the committee and the General Assembly a member of the Islamic faith actually was allowed to be the largest influence on the voting Christians. When one lists all of the broken parliamentary rules it is breath-taking.

Now several leaders of the Church have various modern & Western Muslim scholars and laity to stand for their progressive views. For the orthodox of the Church it is like being in those ancient prison cells while the progressive leadership of the church walks by hand in hand with those who care little for Jesus Christ.

It is important to point out that 07-01 and recommendation 2 were changed on the Assembly floor to a much better statement, that is, “2. State that though we hold differing understandings of how God has been revealed to humankind, the PC(USA) affirms that, as children of this loving God, we share the commandments of love for God and neighbor, the requirement to care for the poor” However the other amendments would have clarified the item and made it even more reformed and orthodox.

It is troubling when the congenial moderator becomes the congenial dictator. Perhaps it is simply a lack of experience. But nonetheless it does leave one thinking of ancient pastors and bishops who needed forgiveness.

How do you witness to those who need Jesus Christ when what should be pastoral leadership stands between you and the lost?

For complete details on how the three items on Muslims and Christians were handled see, “General Assembly Makes New Statements and Encourages Common Worship for Christian-Muslim Relations” by Michael R. Walker on the
Presbyterians for Renewal Web page.

Tuesday, June 24, 2008

A terrible misundertanding about God

Many members of the Committee on Interfaith and Ecumenical Relationships seem to misunderstand the difference between belief in one common God, and belief in a particular "monotheistic"God. Just because someone believes in one God does not mean that they believe in all other monotheistic gods nor hold them in common.

In an attempt to not offend anyone the committee changed the wording "Jews, Christians, and Muslims worship a common God, although each understands that God differently" to “Though we hold differing understandings of how God has been revealed to humankind, the PC(USA) affirms our belief in one God, the God of Abraham, whom Jews and Muslims also worship.”

They have actually stated the same thing that the original overture stated and simply reversed the order. Perhaps if they had stated that the three faiths each worship a monotheistic God that would have been more acceptable. But given that they were simply guided by the thoughts of a western Islamic leader who is neither an Imam nor an Islamic scholar they had little help.

Her presentation of portions of the Muslim sacred text on Islamic tolerance was helpful when thinking about relationships between Christians, Jews and Muslims, but of little use for understanding the difference in the two views of deity.

As I have stated in another place on this same overture, "the sacred text of Islam does not reveal Jesus Christ as very God of very God although they do speak of Jesus. The Christian does not find grounds for the deity of Christ in any part of the Qur’an and no part of the Qur’an shadows a Messiah who comes to save his people from their sins. ...

God’s revelation has come to us in Jesus Christ who is God in the flesh, the Incarnation. We can only know God through Jesus Christ. That is not an understanding but rather revelation given from God’s side. We cannot get behind Jesus Christ to any other God. So we do not know the God of Islam. He is not our God."

All should pray that this overture be changed on the floor of the General Assembly. Jesus Christ is Lord of His Church and one way or another He will be lifted up by those who worship and adore Him.

Sunday, June 22, 2008

Singing our way in San Jose!

I sat in the San Jose Civic auditorium this morning with my husband. We were attending the worship service of the 218 General Assembly of the Presbyterian Church USA. There were a few wonderful songs such as "Bearing Witness and Following the Word into the World: In Christ Alone," written by Keith Getty & Stuart Townend. But lifted with these songs were several monstrosities.

Using the music of "Oh for a thousand tongues to sing," others in the auditorium sang words written by Mirian Therese Winter. She is a Catholic sister who sometimes writes songs in reference to the divine feminine. I did not sing.

How could those who love Jesus Christ sing"O for a world where everyone respects each other's ways, where love is lived and all is done with justice and with praise. ... We welcome one world family and struggle with each choice that opens us to unity and gives our vision voice." as a substitute for:

O for a thousand tongues to sing
My great Redeemer’s praise,
The glories of my God and King,
The triumphs of His grace!

My gracious Master and my God,
Assist me to proclaim,
To spread through all the earth abroad
The honors of Thy name."

Another song was "O God, we Raise Our Voices," written by Rev. W Robert Martin III. The music was "The Church's One Foundation,"written by Samuel S Wesley. So instead of singing:

The Church’s one foundation
Is Jesus Christ her Lord,
She is His new creation
By water and the Word.
From heaven He came and sought her
To be His holy bride;
With His own blood He bought her
And for her life He died.

She is from every nation,
Yet one o’er all the earth;
Her charter of salvation,
One Lord, one faith, one birth;
One holy Name she blesses,
Partakes one holy food,
And to one hope she presses,
With every grace endued."

Some sang:

O God, we raise our voices remembering our past
Brave times of valiant choices on which our hopes were cast.
But now we seek perspective for all the future holds,
Grant us a clear directive to fashion Christ -like goals

We live with vast divisions of race, and creed and view,
a time of dire revisions to what you'd have us do.
So let us seek a pathway that leads us from such night,
and puts us on a highway that guides us toward your light."

Many may find themselves needing to sing a verse from "The Church's One Foundation," which we often don't sing but which was included in the original hymn by Samuel J Stone.

The Church shall never perish!
Her dear Lord to defend,
To guide, sustain, and cherish,
Is with her to the end:
Though there be those who hate her,
And false sons in her pale,
Against both foe or traitor
She ever shall prevail.

Thursday, June 19, 2008

Jerry Van Marter, coordinator of the Presbyterian News Service: His reported statements about the Jewish reaction to a paper-switch

The New Jersey Jewish News has a news article written by Robert Weiner entitled Presbyterian confab worries advocates for Israel. There are several statements by Jerry Van Marter, coordinator of the Presbyterian News Service about the Jewish outrage over the switching of texts in the paper, "Vigilance Against Anti-Jewish Ideas and Bias.” It seems Van Marter cares little for the upset feelings of the Jewish community. And if this is reported correctly by the NJJNews, he seems to lack a news person's sense of the unbiased statement. The statements Van Marter is reported to have made are:

The Jewish groups go nuts every time we make any statement they interpret as favorable to Palestine or the Palestinians...”

Wiener wrote, "Van Marter said church leaders amended their first statement 'to make it more balanced, and apparently it still doesn’t satisfy our Jewish friends. It is tough for Presbyterians because there is a Christian population in the occupied territories. The Christians are a very small minority, and they are shrinking because they are caught in the crossfires. The Presbyterian Church understands precisely why Jewish groups are upset, because we refuse to be one-sided. We’ve been on record for a two-state solution for 60 years now.'”

Evidently Van Marter did go on to state, "Presbyterians are not of one mind about the Israeli-Palestinian conflict."

As a Presbyterian and a Christian who is of another mind than Van Marter I have to say I wish it didn't seem as through he was speaking for most of the PCUSA because in reality he is not!

And the question might be asked, how truthful is that statement of Van Marter's about the sixty year call for a two state solution? Didn't PCUSA only recognize the state of Israel since 1974?

Tuesday, June 17, 2008

The Return:

Dave Moody is back blogging at blog 126. Dave is a Presbyterian Pastor in Southern Illinois; his postings always have a poetical tone to them. Yet, they are solidly concrete in the biblical faith and overflowing with a sense of the Christian's call to proclaim that Jesus came to redeem. See his Profile.

Friday, June 13, 2008

The demonic quality of hatred of the Jewish people

The dishonesty of my denomination as it confronts and deals with the inescapable fact that God both chose the Jewish people as his, and upheld them in their journey of blessing the nations, is shocking. From the Jewish people came my Savior.

When the Samaritan woman at the well remarked on the controversy between the Jewish people and the Samaritans over the right place to worship (John 4:20), Jesus not only clarified that true worshipers would worship the Father in spirit and truth, he also stated that, “Salvation is from the Jews.”

After all of the atrocities of this past century there are still people who name the name of Christ, yet continue to listen to the broken words of those who despise the Jewish people and nation. I have watched this scenario play out with horror. Not only are some in leadership in the PCUSA attempting to deny the nation of Israel the right to defend their nation against terrorism, they use deceptive tactics against them.

The recent substitution by the Office of of Interfaith Relations of one form of the paper, “Vigilance against Anti-Jewish Ideas and Bias,” for another form is a sign of how relentlessly some are pursuing their prey. But unlike the Hound of heaven, who pursued to his own death the sheep of his pasture, these particular individuals seem to be seeking self-preservation. 'Stay within the circle' appears to be the watchword. (See C. S. Lewis)

Moreover, the circle is so tight that those within cannot see that their present tactic has all the earmarks of a lie. (They not only added to the document, as they said, but they also changed what they said. Therefore it is a lie.) And if they fail to see the lie it is a lie coming from a hard heart.

I am ending this posting with the end of a letter that Professor Franklin H. Little wrote to the Dean of a seminary who refused to attend a conference on the Holocaust promoted by the National Council of Churches and the National Conference of Catholic Bishops. The Dean’s refusal was based on his denial of the particularity of the Jewish people. This section of the letter may offend many. But perhaps it is time to offend. And be aware that this was written in 1970.

“The truth is that Christendom is sick, sick with so wicked a malaise that the baptized destroyed 6, 000, 000 Jews in Hitler’s Europe, so sick that many ‘Christian’ leaders were prepared to look on from the balcony while Nasser tried to carry out his threat of a Second Holocaust in June, 1967.

My earnest plea is that before you join the Neo-Nazis, Communists, and black ethnics (not to mention the American Radical Right!) in automatically considering the essential affinity of Judaism and Christianity ‘patently Zionist,’ you examine your own theological commitments. The Jews are not Cherokees, and the wrong done them by the faithless baptized is not the same thing as the white man’s injustice to the American Indians. There is a demonic quality to hatred of the Jews which makes it more than human cruelty: it is blasphemy. By the same token, the guilt of Christians and the obligation to repent and right the ancient wrong is far heavier upon us.”

May God have mercy on the Presbyterian Church (USA).

Seeing the Presbyterian Church (USA) through Jewish eyes

The Jewish Council for Public Affairs has posted a press release, JCPA Joins Jewish Agencies Expressing Profound Hurt by Presbyterian Church Actions. The Press Release is a joint statement of:

"More than a dozen national Jewish agencies, including the Jewish Council for Public Affairs, have issued a statement strongly criticizing a Presbyterian Church (USA) document that replaces a PCUSA critique of anti-Jewish bias, issued just one month prior. The revised document, according to the Jewish statement, “is infused with the very bias that the original statement condemned.” The Jewish agencies note “with profound hurt” that the “new season of mutual understanding and dialogue” called for by the 2006 Presbyterian General Assembly “has indeed not yet arrived.” The 2008 Presbyterian Church General Assembly opens in San Jose, California. JCPA Associate Executive Director Ethan Felson, who will be in attendance, called the revision of the PCUSA document 'a very troubling development that we know is similarly discouraging to our many friends in the church.'" More

Also the Union for Reformed Judaism and other Jewish organizations have sent a letter to Stated Clerk Kirkpatrick:

"Dear Reverend Kirkpatrick-

Candor compels us to respond immediately and clearly to the “expanded” and “revised” publication of “Vigilance against Anti-Jewish Ideas and Bias,” and to tell you as plainly as we know how that the new statement marks a new low-point in Presbyterian-Jewish relations.

While we received what now seems to have been a draft of the statement with optimism and appreciation for its clear awareness of the sensitivities in the Jewish community, the revised statement that was just released is deeply troubling theologically, politically, and personally. The revised statement, which is currently prominently displayed on your website, does more to excuse anti-Semitism and foster anti-Jewish motifs then it does to dispel them. And to speak frankly, the revised statement leaves us with a deep suspicion regarding the motivations behind replacing the initial statement – which the Jewish community warmly welcomed – with a document which you surely knew would cause deep angst. Friends, or even dialogue partners, do not engage in actions that can so easily and plausibly be seen as "bait and switch" tactics

Hat Tip to Will Spotts

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."

Tuesday, June 10, 2008

Congratulations to some in my family

This is a post to congratulate a Son-in-law and a Daughter-in-law as well as a few other people.

Juana, my son Stephen's wife, just became an American citizen two and a half weeks ago. She has lived most of her life in the United States and her parents are already citizens but she waited.

We attempted to go to the swearing in ceremony and failed. It was suppose to be very early in the morning. When we arrived there was a huge line of people all around the block. We looked and looked for Juana and Stephen but didn't find them. We didn't know we were suppose to go straight in and Stephen was saving a seat for us. (Sorry about that.)

But one of the wonderful things about that morning was walking by all of those people from so many countries who were gaining their citizenship that day. There were about 1800 people who became citizens.

Juana is a wonderful Daughter-in-law who sits quietly doing crossword puzzles while we all make so much noise. And she paints beautiful Aztec designs on her walls. Congratulations Juana.

This is my Son-In-Law Derek McHenry who graduated about two years ago from Capital Christian Center Bible College and then became, along ,with my daughter Jenny, a member of a PCUSA, at Peace Presbyterian Church. This isn't to congratulate him on either of those moves although I encouraged the latter, but on becoming, last Sunday, an Elder. We used to work together at Apologetics Resource Center and I know he is going to be a very faithful Elder.

Derek has worked for many years in several Sacramento libraries and is the supervisor at the one where he now works. He is also the father of six of my grandchildren and soon to be a grandfather. He is also a poet. Here is one of his poems:


That the Infinite would clothe Himself
in the finite;
Deity taking on a gown of flesh
that can hunger, sweat, bleed
and die.
0 what perfect divine madness,
that the Potter should become
the clay,
the Shepherd
a sheep,
the Master
a slave,
all to save a mad world from itself.

In His divine insanity,
He turned His wrath from us
and the Judge received
His own sword’s blow.
The All-wise became foolish,
exchanging heavenly joy for earthly agony.

All for the love of you and…me.
This next picture is my Granddaughter Melissa with her tummy growing larger with a child. That will be my first great grandchild. (I swiped the picture off of her blog )Libellus Stellatus, where she has just posted some more of her art work including some submissions to the State Fair .

Thursday, June 5, 2008

Sharing the African American's Joy for just a weekend: Please!

Thabiti Anyabwile at Pure Church has posted an article, "Seven Reasons Conservative Whites and White Evangelicals Should Stop and Enjoy Obama's Nomination ." I hope many of my friends including members of the Consistory will read this article. In fact, since all of the members of the consistory are very reformed and the blog I am featuring belongs to an African American (very) Reformed Pastor I keep hoping for some exchanges of comments.

The Article begins:

"A dear, dear friend gave me a ride to O'Hare airport this past week. He's a white brother, a precious saint, who takes great interest in the history of the Civil Rights Movement. I'm thinking he's read more and thought more about that history than I have. He from time to time asks me what I think about this or that aspect of African American history, culture, current events, etc.On the ride to the airport he asked me, "When reflecting on the significance of Barack Obama's run for president, how do you feel when your white brothers immediately start talking about abortion? Does that anger you? Do you feel like they just missed the point of your reflections altogether?"I thought for a moment. I don't think it angers me or frustrates me much. I think I'm mostly saddened by it. I'm saddened that for those moments brothers and sisters in Christ cannot or will not enter into my experience for a little while... just a little while... without asserting their own agenda. I generally think that a great opportunity is missed, an opportunity to see the world in wide screen rather than full screen, to get more into view instead of having the screen filled with a more limited picture. It's a loss for me and them."

And goes on:

"1. Rejoice with those who rejoice. A significant part of the Christian world is rejoicing in a landmark achievement. Obviously, not all the reasons for rejoicing are reasons everyone can share. "


"2. Mourn with those who mourn. For most African Americans Christians, this is bitter sweet on at least two levels. First, there are the same laments that you have regarding Sen. Obama's position on moral issues like gay rights and abortion. Those positions are not widely shared among African-American Christians and cause something of a real dilemma for Bible-believing African Americans."

So please read starting here Pure Church.

Sunday, June 1, 2008

An Overture and a Report: A Hand in A Glove

The Committee on Ecumenical and Interfaith Relations have an Overture and a Report listed which at first I thought were rather contradictory. But the more I study them I see that they fit like a hand into a glove. The overture is 07-03 On Investigating the Actions and Conduct of the Evangelical Presbyterian Church from the Presbytery of Peace River, the other, the Report, 07-info, is the World Alliance of Reformed Churches Report to the PC(USA), 2006–2007, Report of the General Secretary.

After reading both report and overture, and doing some research on the information given by the General Secretary of the World Alliance of Reformed Churches, I am convinced that the leaders of the WARC would happily rid themselves of anyone who believed that Jesus Christ was the only Lord and that the Church's main calling was to proclaim his life, death and resurrection.

The Overture is an attempt to get the “Executive Office,” of WARC to investigate the EPC with the unsubstantiated accusation that they "are actively pursuing a strategy to persuade" PCUSA churches to disaffiliate from the Presbyterian Church (U.S.A.) and be dismissed to the Evangelical Presbyterian Church.

The EPC is in correspondence with the Presbyterian Church (USA) since they are both members of WARC. It would, undoubtedly, be easier for Presbyteries and Synods to keep the property of churches leaving for the EPC if that Reformed denomination was not in correspondence with PCUSA.

At the same time in the Report from the General Secretary of WARC, he “highlights some of the work” that has been done through the “Geneva offices and networks.” He mentions several small conferences in different areas of the world. One was near Manila in the Philippines and was focused on “global empire,” corresponding to the Accra confession.

They produced a document entitled An Ecumenical Faith Stance against Global Empire for a Liberated Earth Community.

This is a very long document but it should be read by all Presbyterians. It is extremely political with very slanted biases and even blatant historical mistakes, such as the claim that the United States not only bombed Japan with the atomic bomb but also Korea. The poverty, hunger and refugee problem in North Korea is blamed on the USA. The authors write:

“North Korea’s economy, already weakened by the ravages of neoliberal globalization, has been pushed to the brink by the US trade embargo and economic sanctions. As a result millions suffer from hunger and malnutrition, leading to a scandalously high incidence of child mortality and a massive flood of economic refugees.”

But I am concerned with this document's diatribe toward all of historical Western Christianity. The authors of the document write:

“Western Christianity has been closely related to empire since the Roman days and has thus spread throughout the world. [So undoubtedly the Christianity of Africa and South America is Western Christianity!?] It is now being used to provide ideological legitimization for today’s empire. Globalized Christendom and the “crusades” it embarks upon today are symbiotically intertwined with global capital and the power of the global empire. In its triumphalistic [sic] pursuits, it discounts if not condemns all other religious faiths and cultures. The indigenous religions of many communities are destroyed and Islam is vilified.

The convergence of Christian religion with Western modernity has destroyed the religious and cultural life of peoples and their communities throughout the world. The powers and principalities of the global market and empire are being baptised by these theological distortions of “Christianity”, which promote religious conflicts and bigotry globally.”

Once again as in the
Communiqué from the Workshop on Spirituality of Resistance, Liberation and Transformation, also aided by WARC, Christianity is disparaged. The saints through the ages, who have ministered the word of God to those who were dying without Christ, are made to seem evil. (Of course some missionaries committed grave errors, we are all sinners, but the story of missions is not so simplistic.)

If the General Assembly sends with a yes Overture 07-03 to the World Alliance of Reformed Churches and if WARC removes the Evangelical Presbyterian Church from their organization it will have nothing to do with any wrong done by the EPC. It will instead be because any church that proclaims the unique Lordship of Jesus Christ can find no resting place in worldly organizations. But they can find that place in Jesus Christ.

Jesus, as he visited and taught in the home of his friends, Martha, Mary and Lazarus, explained that in setting at his feet and listening to his words Mary had “chosen the good part.” (10: 42) Those who listen to Jesus Christ as he makes himself known and is known in the Old and New Testaments have chosen the good part. They are safe in the care of Jesus Christ, rejected perhaps by the world, they are enclosed in the love of God.