Wednesday, September 30, 2009

Good news from far away

[I have not posted a newsletter from my missionary friends for awhile. So please enjoy. And there is an important prayer request at the end,]

Ministry Update

Life is definitely in a new phase for us since our youngest child is now in the U.S. preparing for university this fall. Our son will be starting at Seattle Pacific University on the 24th of September. We are so thankful that God provided a good summer job and he was able to spend a few months with his grandparents; making up for some of the time he has missed being with them during his years growing up in Thailand.

Our daughter, a college junior, is doing an overseas semester in China as part of her course in international business. She and 25 classmates from S.P.U have been doing a study tour through Hong Kong, Shiang Hai and Beijing. In the next few days they will travel to Chong Qing where they will spend the remainder of their time studying business and Asian culture at a Chinese university.

Here in Chiang Mai, the ministry to children in the Thai hospital has been put on hold temporarily due to the threat of swine flu. In the children’s cancer ward especially, the children are immuno-suppressed, so the hospital is trying to limit outside contacts. Some Thai schools here were closed for a few days but they cannot close school indefinitely. We will have to wait and see how long it takes before the H1N1 virus ceases to be a major issue.

We were able to visit a ministry home for disabled children, and found that the care-givers were Karen. They had quite a surprise when we started talking with them in their own language! As is so often the case, it is the Christians who seek to help the most needy and vulnerable people. For others who believe in Karma, these children are receiving just punishment for sins committed in a former life, and that is why they are born handicapped. What a contrast to see these lovely Karen girls who really love and care about these special needs children.

Being some of the “old timers” here, we are often called on to help newer missionaries with questions related to their visa, car registration, house rental, household employees etc etc. It can be helping someone through the process of getting a drivers license or just figuring out how to get propane delivered to their house for the kitchen stove. Often people need a listening ear and encouragement to “hang in there” when the cultural adjustments seem overwhelming. We want to help and encourage anyone that we can to stay and continue the valuable work and ministry they are involved with here in Thailand.

Could I please also give a prayer request for Grace International School where our children graduated from High School? The school, which serves missionary kids from all over Asia, purchased a sports club some years back and has modified the facility for use as a school. Now, several years later, a new Thai law which protects the rights of consumers has come out, and former members of the health club claim that the school has infringed on their rights to use the facility. The law is being applied retroactively, even though the school purchased the property legally. The school lost the first court case and it is now under appeal to take the case to a higher court. Pray that justice will be done and that God would provide the funds necessary to build a new campus in a new location. Relocating nearly 500 students plus teachers and classroom equipment will be no small task. You can read more about this situation at

Thank you so much for your prayers. We truly believe that they make a difference!

[please go to the link, but I will also provide here the video about the school]

Tuesday, September 29, 2009

The Kingdom of God and the authority of his Christ has come

It is nearing 10 tonight as I write this. This has been a strange day, starting in a startling manner but full of the blessings of the Lord. I awoke this morning early as my husband leaned over me to say he had been up for several hours with chest pains. They were not so bad now he said but perhaps he should go to the hospital. We ended up at our doctor where an EKG was fine but his blood pressure was not. Brad working on hammers on a piano

He is on medicine now, and will have a stress test next week. I am sure he will be fine. After all he bounded down our eleven steps, past me, on the way to the car, as he always does. But one always thinks of the worst first.

That is why I thought of him first when somebody on my comment section suggested that conservative Christians don’t care for the needy. I wanted to blurt out, as I am doing now, but my husband spends his Sunday afternoons doing prison ministry, etc., etc., and he is there because another conservative Christian, the Chaplain cares so very much for all of those boys. And that story could go on and on and maybe someday will. But this is a different thought.

Because I was brought up short, as the saying goes, by the thought that those who belong to Jesus never have to defend themselves. They are safely tucked under the wings of their keeper. And he is after all their final word, as he is their refuge. Immediately verses from the eighth chapter of Romans came to me. But also Revelation 12:10-11:

“Then I heard a loud voice in heaven, saying, ‘Now the salvation, and the power, and the kingdom of our God and the authority of his Christ have come, for the accuser of our brethren has been thrown down, he who accuses them before our God day and night. And they overcame him because of the blood of the lamb and because of the word of their testimony, and they did not love their life even when faced with death.”

The 12th verse goes on to tell the heavens and earth to rejoice. This is a picture of the beautiful work of redemption that Jesus Christ has finished by dying on the cross for us and living again that we might have forgiveness of sins and eternal life. It is not our righteousness but his that matters. But because of his gift of righteousness and life we are being transformed into the sons and daughters of God.

Jesus has won for us the victory over sin, and death, and hell. Jesus has overcome the accuser; Satan has been defeated, the blood of Christ is our salvation. “Therefore there is now no condemnation for those in Christ Jesus.” (Romans 8:1)

So here is a song to end my day and if you read this in the morning hopefully give you a morning blessing.

Monday, September 28, 2009

Sometimes you laugh, sometimes you cry, but who is the joke really on? Up-date

I read with enjoyment the Presbyterian News article “Mission Challenge ’09 speakers commissioned.” Hearing about missionaries and their work is always important. And, in fact, two will be coming to my Church on October the 18th. I am looking forward to hearing about the needs of the Roma people.

This is a combined group of peacemakers and missionaries and I clicked on the link to see who the peacemakers were. There is a list of them at International Peacemakers. I also looked at the picture there and found that instead of the eleven Peacemakers they had spoken of there were 12. But I think they just used an old picture, because Shehadeh Shehadeh is not mentioned in any of the 2009 lists. But there he sits. And I saw that he was an Israeli!

A man from Israel and I was excited because perhaps now a person from Israel who really cares about Israel or at least two sides of the story either had been or would be talking to Presbyterians. I found his biography. Read a bit of biographical information on the 2008 Peacemakers site.

Shehadeh, who is also a retired Episcopal Priest, in his bio states he is “vice chairperson of the general counsel of a political party called “Democratic Front for Peace and Equality ". So with my curiosity in hand I went looking to find out about that particular party. It is the Communist Party of Israel.

And so listed in every Presbytery newsletter, that I looked at, advertising Shehadeh’s visit is the information that he is Vice Chairperson of the General Counsel of the Democratic Front for Peace and Equality. (The Communist Party) Oh well, his picture is there but I don’t think he was or well be commissioned this year. Hopefully.

UP-date- I just received an answer to an e-mail I sent to Dayna Oliver of the Peacemakers. Shehadeh was a participant last year, not this year.

Music for Monday

This is a busy Monday so since I missed putting up any music for Sunday- here is a delayed praise.

Friday, September 25, 2009

Belhar: four important reasons the PC(U.S.A.) should not adopt the Confession

The Presbyterian Outlook reported that the Committee to Consider Amending the Confessional Documents of the Presbyterian Church (U.S.A.) to include the Confession of Belhar in The Book of Confessions reached a consensus to recommend the addition. That means that the General Assembly in 2010 will vote on the recommendation.

If it passes at GA the Presbyteries will then vote, “needing approval from at least two-thirds of the denomination’s 173 presbyteries.” I have been writing on this Confession for the last year. I believe it should not be added to our Book of Confessions for four reasons:

1. Failure to focus the confession on the Lordship of Christ.

2. The issue of homosexuality

3. The Israeli and Palestinian conflict

4. The issue of pluralism

Before I begin explaining each of these problems I must insist that in South Africa with its problems of apartheid, which included the Church, such a statement was necessary. But there are problems with this Confession; the first and most important one being its failure to emphasize Christology including the Lordship of Christ. And it is this failure that causes all of the other problems.

Failure to focus the Confession on the Lordship of Christ: Various theologians have insisted that Belhar looks to Karl Barth and the Declaration of Barmen as its model. While this may be true the writers failed Barth’s and Barmen’s most important tenet, the insistence that a Confession’s main emphasis is to confess Christ. And in fact, Barmen would have been and is the better Confession.

The problem in South Africa within the Church was with the doctrine of the ‘Orders of Creation.’ That is, that in creating, God instituted certain institutions that could not be changed. In South Africa, the church using this system set boundaries for various races allowing the Church to fit within a racist state. In Nazi Germany the rights of government was emphasized in an attempt to allow the Church to fit within a totalitarian state.

But Barth’s word on that attempt was to insist that placing anything beside Christ, as he is found in the Old and New Testament, was a compromising position for the Church. Here Barth is referring to “Creation and Redemption, Nature and Grace, Nationalism and Gospel.” And Barmen, (which was largely written by Barth), supports his concerns while at the same time preventing the Church from falling into any kind of idolatry or antinomianism. And it does that by insisting, biblically, that “Jesus Christ, as he is attested for us in Holy Scripture, is the one word of God which we have to hear and which we have to trust and obey in life and death.” (8:11)

And additionally Barmen states, “As Jesus Christ is God’s assurance of the forgiveness of all our sins, so in the same way and with the same seriousness is he also God’s mighty claim upon our whole life. …
We reject the false doctrine, as though there were areas of our life in which we could not belong to Jesus Christ, but to other Lords—areas in which we would not need justification and sanctification through him.” (8:14-8:15)

This places the Lordship of Christ above all statements and yet Christ is tied to scripture. What falls outside of Christ’s Lordship is unacceptable. What falls under his Lordship is. For instance the racism of South Africa is seen as sin when one reads, “There is neither Jew nor Greek, there is neither slave nor free man, there is neither male nor female; for you are all one in Christ Jesus. (Gal. 3:28)

But the Belhar Confession on the other hand emphasizes the unity of the Church which is not a confession that Jesus Christ is Lord, but a confession about what the Church is or must do. Therefore unity is not necessarily tied to Christ’s Lordship, since unity may be achieved by other means.

The issue of homosexuality: Because unity is the main point of the Belhar Confession others have insisted on using it for issues that are unbiblical. In a blog posting,
The Belhar Confession & God's final revelation, I have pointed out that one of the contributors to Belhar, Allan Boesak, has sought to use it as a means to gain ordination for practicing homosexuals in the Uniting Reformed Church in South Africa. Quoting from the Banner, I wrote, “He dramatically insisted that the church’s Belhar Confession demands the defense of the full rights of gay members.”

A statement within the Confession of Belhar, “…we reject any doctrine which absolutizes either natural diversity or the sinful separation of people in such a way that this absolutization hinders or breaks the visible and active unity of the church, or even leads to the establishment of a separate church formation. …” is a very big problem. (Emphasis mine)

In the Presbyterian Church (U.S.A,) the Witherspoon Society’s Eugene TeSelle in a “Special Report to Witherspoon Society and Friends” from the 2004 General Assembly,
ga report by gene.pmd, writes of that part of Belhar, “While we’re talking about absolutizing natural diversity, we might refer the Belhar Confession to the Task Force on Peace, Unity, and Purity as it considers the PC(USA)’s prohibition on gay/lesbian.”

So in the PC (USA) we also will undoubtedly see this confession used in a way that is detached from the Lordship of Christ “as he is attested for us in Holy Scripture.”

The Israeli and Palestinian conflict: In another posting on my blog,
Using the Belhar Confession to overcome Israel’s “racism,” and as a means to bring about repentance from those desiring a Jewish State!, I have pointed to speakers for the Reformed Church in America using the Confession as a solution for what they perceive as racism on the part of Israel. As one speaker, the Rev. Christo Lombard from the Uniting Reformed Church of South Africa, put it “If there is one situation in this world that contextually fits the antiapartheid struggle and its dynamics, for which the Belhar Confession was written, it must be the Palestinian situation, currently.”

Another speaker, Rev. Dr. Mitri Raheb, pastor of Evangelical Lutheran Christmas Church in Bethlehem, also hoped that the Confession might be used against the State of Israel. And in the same way those in the Presbyterian Church (U.S.A.) who are advocating for this Confession may attempt to use it as leverage against Israel.

One of my first postings on Belhar was concerned with a faulty study paper on Belhar. It made reference to the United Nations World Conference against Racism, Racial Discrimination, Xenophobia and Related Intolerance which met in Durban, South Africa from August 31 to September 8, 2001.

I began that posting, “At the coming 218 General Assembly the Advocacy Committee on Racial Ethnic Concerns is offering Rec-046, Resolution to study the Belhar Confession for inclusion in the Confessional Documents of the Presbyterian Church (USA).”A study paper was recommended by that committee,(Report of the Task Force to Study Reparations) .

The authors of that paper castigated the United States for walking out of the conference. What the author’s failed to write was that Israel also walked out of the Conference because it was an extremely anti-Semitic conference.

The then U.S. Secretary of State, General Colin Powell, wrote:

“Today I have instructed our representatives at the World Conference Against Racism to return home. I have taken this decision with regret, because of the importance of the international fight against racism and the contribution that the Conference could have made to it. But, following discussions today by our team in Durban and others who are working for a successful conference, I am convinced that will not be possible. I know that you do not combat racism by conferences that produce declarations containing hateful language, some of which is a throwback to the days of "Zionism equals racism;" or supports the idea that we have made too much of the Holocaust; or suggests that apartheid exists in Israel; or that singles out only one country in the world--Israel--for censure and abuse.”

If members of the AACREC could so easily ignore the racism of this conference while recommending Belhar and their paper, it may be inferred that they may also use the Belhar Confession in the same manner as Raheb.

The issue of pluralism: And Raheb formulates the last concern that members of the PC(USA) may have with this Confession.

In a final and complete leap away from Barmen, Raheb divorces Jesus Christ from the Confession, writing “On several places in the confession the word “church” is replaced by another category called “the People of God.” The Belhar Confession uses this term to describe the church. My question would be, is it possible to expand this “People of God” terminology to encompass the “peoples of God,” including in this Jews and Muslims? And by this to provide a monotheistic platform for unity?”

Now, with this formula we have unity totally taking over the Confession as it shallows up the Church’s confession of Jesus Christ as Lord. In fact, Raheb’s formula does more than shallow; it empties and turns the confession into a hollow unfaithful paper, recommending apostasy.

A Confession of Faith for the Church must have as its main focus the Church’s Confession of Christ. All other important concerns of the Church, including her unity, must be subsumed under the heading 'Jesus Christ is Lord.' He is Lord over sin of any kind. Lord over adultery and homosexual practice. Lord over racism and anti-Semitism. Lord over all gods and powers. Jesus Christ is the Lord of his Church, within her, above her and leading her. That is the ultimate Confession for the Church of Jesus Christ.

Thursday, September 24, 2009

Writing about the Jewish people and Christian theology - 2 (Used by God)

In my first posting on Christian Theology, the Jewish people and Israel, I stated that there is a Reformed theology that while insisting on the all sufficiently of Jesus Christ does not deny that the Jews are God’s chosen people. And this is not some recent phenomenon.

The Scottish pastor, Samuel Rutherford, (1600? – 1661), pays the Jews some honor with a bit of quaint exegesis when he writes of them as the older sister, “When they [the Jews] were in their Lord’s house, at their Father’s elbow, they were longing for the incoming of their little sister, the kirk of the Gentiles. They said to the Lord, ‘We have a little sister and she hath no breasts; what shall we do for our sister in the day when she shall be spoken for?’ [Cant 8, 8 Editor]” (Letters of Samuel Rutherford)

He goes on to exhort the recipient of his letter to pray for the elder sister that she might now have breasts and be seated with the Gentiles at the Lord’s Table. But to be clearer, the person who has given Reformed understanding its most important theological systematization, John Calvin, writes this about the Jewish people:

"For they [the Jews] are, as it were, the first born in the family of God. The honor due, on this account, must therefore be paid them, until they have rejected the offer, and by their ingratitude, caused it to be transferred to the Gentiles. Nor, however great the contumacy with which they persist in warring against the gospel, are we therefore to despise them. We must consider that in respect of the promise, the blessing of God still resides among them; and, as the apostle testifies, will never entirely depart from them, seeing that 'the gifts and calling of God are without repentance' (Rom xi 29)” (Institutes, book IV., Chapter XVI, 14)

So using the writing of Reformed Pastor David Torrance, brother of theologians James and Thomas Torrance, I will look at the ways God has used the Jews to confront all others, as they continue to be God’s people among the nations.[1]

The first thought in Torrance’s list has to do with “their remarkable preservation through history.” This preservation can point only to the hand of God. I once took a class on Jewish history from an excellent teacher. But I, even as a Christian, was troubled by her constant search for why the Jewish people had survived through their many persecutions and exiles. She never proffered the idea that God was at least a part of that reason.

I believe the Scripture that Torrance points the reader to is the answer.

“’If this fixed order departs from before me,’ declares the Lord, then the offspring of Israel also will cease from being a nation before me forever.’” (Jeremiah 31:36)

The second way God is using the Jewish people is that in their presence among the nations we are reminded of all that God has done in their midst. They lend to us a living witness of Scriptures.

The third way has to do with Israel’s presence once again in the Holy Land. They remind us of God’s power to work his will. As Torrance puts it, “their presence back in the promised land-reminds us that we and the nations have to reckon with a living, personal God. He is a God who acts in space and time, a God of judgment as well as mercy.”

Going further, concerning their return to their land, the fourth way God uses the Jewish people is to show the peoples of the world that their destiny is not in their own hands. Governments do not bring about the destiny of nations, but God is truly in charge. His actions are a call to obedience.

Finally, Torrance states that in Israel’s “modern history” the nations may perceive that God is “over-ruling the continued sin of the world.” He is moving us toward a time when all nations will give a complete account of their actions. Looking at the formation of Israel in their ancient homeland after the attempt of Hitler and his henchmen to totally destroy them one perceives ahead of time God’s judgment and power. As Torrance puts it God is the Lord of history.

From a Reformed point of view God continues to use the Jewish people. They are chosen by him. Through them the Lord continues to both bless and remind the nations of his power and sovereignty. In my next posting on this subject I will look at the use Christians have made and must make of the Hebrew Bible in regards to the Jewish people.

[1] “The Mission of Christians and Jews,” James Torrance, A Passion for Christ: The Vision that Ignites Ministry, Thomas F. Torrance, James B. Torrance, David W. Torrance. (Handsel Press, PLC Publications, 1999)

Wednesday, September 23, 2009

Writing about the Jewish people and Christian theology

Christians have several theological directions when considering the Jewish people and the State of Israel. There is the dispensational view which is often connected to Christian Zionism. There also exists a Reformed view that does not reject Israel. The orthodox Reformed view does not deny the all sufficiency of Jesus Christ’s death on the cross but niether does it deny that the Jewish people are God’s chosen people.

I have written of Karl Barth’s view of them as chosen. Barth insisted that God’s choosing of the Jewish people troubled the world and led many in their jealousy to indulge in anti-Semitism. Yet he made the rejection of Jesus Christ, the Jew, the ultimate anti-Semitism. Not in the sense that the Jews rejected Christ by not believing in him as the Messiah, but in the sense that the world rejects the Jew on the cross as that particular One who suffers in shame and humiliation for the sake of the world. That is God’s call is to live only by his grace yet the world seeks some other way.

Christ’s death and resurrection is the ultimate out working of God’s free grace, the ultimate gift, the only way of salvation. But, we are brought to our knees by the sight of the Jewish people who are sustained through the years by the grace of God.

As Barth writes, “we find it uncanny that the Jews live among us and move like shadows through world history with the unheard-of historical permanence, yet without roots, without security; without roots because they are sustained by the free grace of God—so persistent because that grace holds them so firmly.”

Barth spoke those words a year after the birth of Israel. He undoubtedly saw their war for survival as a continuation of the sufferings of the Holocaust. And he certainly recognized the sustaining hand of God among them both biblically and from his experience.

And Barth understands how the two communities, Christians and Jews, are alike, not only living by faith but also offending those who reject God’s care and his chosen people. Barth writes:

“Without any doubt the Jews are to this very day the chosen people of God in the same sense as they have been so from the beginning, according to the Old and New Testaments. They have the promise of God; and if we Christians from among the Gentiles have it too, then it is only as those chosen with them, as guests in their house, as new wood grafted on to their old tree. The Christian community exists in the same way as the Jews; miraculously sustained throughout the years, it too is a people of strangers; and just as the anti-semites are offended by the Jews, so the Christian community will necessarily arouse the same feelings.” Against the Stream

I intend to look at some of the Christian theology that enfolds issues both about the Jews and the State of Israel. I will be posting on these subjects in the coming weeks.

Tuesday, September 22, 2009

Blogs and web sites old and new

I have a couple of blogs and web sites I want to highlight.

I just recently got back in touch with an old friend who does apologetics. And missional is the air he breathes. John Morehead used to come into the Apologetics Resource Center office in Sacramento when I was working there. He was a United States Service man (I don't remember which branch)but intended to work at apologetics and ministry to new religions when finished. And so he has, and in a big way. Picture-In the Apologetic Resource Office.

Moreheads Musings

His blog is Morehead’s Musings. Morehead also has three projects, Western Institute for Intercultural Studies where he is the Director, Sacred Tribes Journal, where he is a senior editor and Lausanne Issue Group on Postmodern and Alternative Spiritualities.

Morehead has two books published, one can be down loaded, Burning Man Festival as Life-Enhancing, Post-Christendom 'Middle Way' and one of which he is a contributing Editor, Encountering New Religious Movements: A Holistic Evangelical Approach. That one I have and it is very good. You will also find many helpful articles on Morehead’s site.

Theology Matters

Another site I want to highlight is an old one that has been redone. And as far as I am concerned the new look is excellent. That is Theology Matters which is the publication of Presbyterians for Faith, Family and Ministry. If you visited the site in the past you may have experienced trouble getting about because there was so little there. But now there is so much more.

And if you scout around you will find pictures of the Board of Directors except for several of us who keep forgetting to send them to Sue Cyre our Executive Director.

In case anyone is unfamiliar with Theology Matters and Presbyterians for Faith, Family and Ministry here is our statement of purpose:

Presbyterians for Faith, Family and Ministry is working to restore the strength and integrity of the Presbyterian Church (USA)'s witness to Jesus Christ as the only Lord and Savior, by helping individual Presbyterians develop a consistent Reformed Christian worldview.

Presbyterians for Faith, Family and Ministry is committed to the restoration of Reformed theology as taught in Scripture and expressed in the Confessions, in the lives of individual Presbyterians and in the Church. To affirm the Christian faith is necessarily to reject all false ideologies. The First Commandment carries both a commitment to the One true Lord God and a rejection of false gods, "I am the Lord your shall have no other gods before me." To commit to the Lord God and reality as he has defined it, without also rejecting false gods and their worldview is to unite the worship of the living God with idols.

Therefore Presbyterians for Faith, Family and Ministry is committed to promoting the doctrines of Reformed Christian faith and their worldview implications by contrasting them with the beliefs of false religions and their distorted worldviews.

Presbyterians for Faith, Family and Ministry is convinced that an obedient understanding of family and ministry can only grow out of a faith in Jesus Christ that is based on Scripture and the Confessions.

Monday, September 21, 2009

Jesus Music and friends

A couple of days ago I wrote about all the old Jesus Movement music records I found. Remembering music and friends from the Jesus Movement I mentioned the 77’s record Ping Pong Over the Abyss.

An evening later my husband and I sat down at the Tower café, one of our favorite hang outs. After sitting down I looked over at the person sitting caddy-corner from me. Wouldn’t you know it was Mark Tootle, one of the original 77s musicians, and his wife Traci. He is now music Director at the Baptist Church down town.

I don’t think we stopped talking to take a breath. We covered the old days, the Jesus movement music, and yes, the book of Revelation, and what ever happened to Aaron Smith? Now I have his telephone number I will be calling. Picture from Penny Juncker's facebook photo

Anyway the conversation led me to more records on the internet. This is from Ping Pong Over the Abyss. "denomination blues"(original music by Ry Cooder)

A clarification about one of my postings

One of the commenters on my article Some very good articles on Marc Garlasco, the Human Rights Watch member who obsessively collects Nazi memorabilia, questioned the accuracy of the article by NGO Monitor.

Because the person who questioned the accuracy is a friend who I respect I sent an e-mail to the organization asking for clarification.

I have just received their e-mail with the answer which includes some links. The concern about the article was whether Hermann Göring received the Iron Cross in World War I or II. It seems according to the links sent me that he received one during WWI but later in WW II received the Grand Cross version of the Iron Cross. And it was given by Hitler.

The two links are
Reddick Militaria and Trial.

I have had so many disagreeing comments on an article that I still feel is very good that I felt this clarification should be a post as well as a comment.

Saturday, September 19, 2009

Presbytery was today:

I have been at Presbytery all day. The worship was beautiful, in fact one of the songs we sang was one I posted on my blog recently, Grace like Rain. Fellowship was great but I am sad tonight because we failed to pass a motion to join with San Diego Presbytery “in overturing the 219th General Assembly to:

Issue an authoritative interpretation of G-6.0106, ‘Restoring to full force and effect the authoritative statements concerning ordained service of homosexual church members by the 190th General Assembly (1978) of the United Presbyterian Church in the United States of American, and the 191st General Assembly (1979) of the Presbytery Church in the United States and all subsequent affirmations including the Bush vs. Pittsburgh Presbytery (218-10) PJC Decision.”

I thought I had written the vote down, I didn’t-but it seems quite a few people did not vote. As I stated the orthodox and evangelicals lost the motion.
The debate was centered around the thoughts of shall we be totally inclusive or shall we follow biblical standards.

One of the things that disturbed me was that the Covenant Network (One of the Groups pushing the ordination of practicing homosexuals.) had a table set up with displays. And that in my church, Fremont Presbyterian USA, where we do not push for ordaining practicing homosexuals and, this is important, feel that homosexual sex is sinful. I am thinking about finding out if both Theology Matters and "Voices of Orthodox Women" can have tables at our next Presbytery meeting. Maybe even "Presbyterians Pro Life."

So tomorrow is the Lords day and I am tired so here is some music for me and for anyone else who likes it.
"For the Lord is our judge,
the Lord is our lawgiver,
the Lord is our king;
He will save us-
Your tackle hangs slack;
it cannot hold the base of its mast
nor spread out the sail.
then the prey of an abundant
spoil will be divided;
The lame will take the plunder.
And no resident will say, 'I am
the people who dwell there will be forgiven their iniquity. (Isaiah 33:22-24)

Friday, September 18, 2009

Writing about anti-Semitism: some of my history

Have you ever noticed how God often brings you full circle in ministry? Around twenty years ago I was very busy writing on racism and anti-Semitism. This is how my story goes and why I have come back to it.

I was both Research Director and then Director of a ministry called Apologetics Resource Center. As Research Director I began researching and writing on a movement often referred to as the Manifest Sons of God. That was a movement best defined by their belief that a unique group of people would come out of the Church, overcome death, and then save an embattled Church bringing in the Kingdom for Jesus.

I began this project because various people kept bringing me in tapes to listen to from friends and relatives who were involved. Before I was finished with the research I discovered that a Christian radio station in Sacramento was involved as well as a local abusive group who called themselves Aggressive Christianity. They were preying on other churches’ young people. I also ordered tapes from places around the United States.

But I soon found I was ordering some materials from what turned out to be Christian “identity”(1) groups who were racist and anti-Semitic. That led to a whole new paper about anti-Semitism and ‘identity” Christianity-which is not Christian by any means. That paper led to an article on “Identity” for Christian Research Journal, entitled “Identity: A "Christian" Religion for White Racists.”

Before and during those years several experiences stand out in my mind. Interestingly enough they involve both a liberal television station and an Evangelical radio station.

I just happen to turn on my car radio to a Christian station while driving to a class at California State University at Sacramento. The class was a philosophy class and we were reading Nietzsche. During the same period my Church, Ware House Ministries, was offering a play on the life of Dietrich Bonheoffer. So God had set me up for what was to happen.

The Radio station advertised a special speaker who had an important message. As I began listening I heard the speaker saying that of all the various religions Judaism was the worst, that they alone had rejected Jesus Christ. I was enraged and later, after class, called the radio station.
I think the radio station was upset too, because they gave me the fellow’s phone number and we talked for almost an hour. The man was a Holocaust revisionist. You can read his complaint to the Christian Research Journal that they allowed me to write an article.

And this sounds so familiar:

“One of SMYRNA'S newsletter recipients sent us a copy of an article in your Fall 1992 issue entitled "Identity", by Viola Larson. I was quite amazed that you allowed so much space to Ms. Larson, whose views are quite slanted and intolerant. Why do I state this?

In 1981 she telephoned me after I had filled in for a fellow minister on a Sacramento Christian radio show. She exhibited a closed mind regarding everything that she did not agree with. Her behavior was intolerant in the extreme, even to the point of refusing to believe that I am a Christian simply because I did not meet her doctrinal criteria. …

While her article in your recent journal has certain merit regarding the Identity movement, it is nevertheless slanted and contains the self serving motive of connecting elements within that movement that should not be connected. For example, she leads the reader to believe that all followers of Identity are anti-Semites and racist Nazi types. This is far, far from the truth, but it serves her purpose, which is to label as racists and anti-Semites all who don't agree that contemporary Israel is a fulfillment of Bible prophecy, or that modern Jews are God's chosen people....

Will Viola Larson admit that the Jewish religion (Talmudism) is bitterly anti-Christian and racist in the extreme?”

The man sent me literature for a long time and never, as far as I know, repented of his anti-Semitism.

The liberal television station was run by Sacramento’s Interfaith Bureau and no longer exists. I was folding clothes one day and watching television. I turned to that station and started watching the program. There was a man named Arnold Murray teaching the Bible.

After I listened for a while I realized that he was an Identity preacher with a difference. He called the Jewish people Kenities and so he got by with a lot of anti-Semitism without others realizing it.

He was on the station all day because he was free and because the two ladies running the programming didn’t understand what he was preaching. One was a Unity School of Christianity pastor, the other a Seventh Day Adventist. Both of those groups are into health foods and so the Identity pastor who was also into the Hebrew Bibles’ food laws made sense to them.

It took the Session of Fremont Presbyterian Church, (I did not go there at the time) and a Jewish professor at college, (a friend) to finally get Murray’s time shortened. I found, at the time that both liberals and conservatives can indulge in anti-Semitism and once involved it is extremely hard for them to be convinced otherwise.

And now it seems I am spending a great deal of time writing about anti-Semitism in the Presbyterian Church (U.S.A.) I believe when God gives you knowledge and experience in one area he uses it to bring about his own purposes. I will continue until I understand that God is finished with me in that area.

(1) Christian Identity adherents believe that the white races are the true Israelites and that the Jewish people are children of Satan. They believe that Satan had sex with Eve in the Garden of Eden and the the Jews came from that union. Some see this as a metaphor but most see it as literal.

Thursday, September 17, 2009

Remembering music and friends from the Jesus Movement

I had forgotten about all of those records. And then my daughter Andrea ask me if I had a Rock & Religion record made at Christmas time when she was three or four and was interviewed by Mary Neely. I didn't, but I started looking at all of those records that I had forgotten about, like "Ping Pong over the Abyss" with the Seventy Sevens and Steve Scott's "Love in the Western World."
That last one has never been opened because it was bought to give away and then we never gave it away.

There are also several Randy Matthew's recordings and Love Song. So I went looking for some of those old recordings on You-Tube since most were a part of the Saturday night concerts we held at WareHouse Ministries in Sacramento. But first that picture of the Seventy-Sevens I took from my daughter Penny's Facebook photos. Why do they always try to look so bad in those pictures?
One of those fellows taught some of my children drums, another the guitar and another the piano. Really they have sweet smiles.
I found a video of Mike Roe playing with Phil Keaggy-they are just having fun, so it is fun.

And then I looked for a song from the recording "Good to be Home," with Paul Clark and friends. I did find the song I was looking for. The title one "Good to be Home":

The words are:

Humbly oh Father, do I come before your door
with arms outstretched wanting to come in
graciously accepting the love you have for me
knowing that your Son died for my sin.

Humbly oh Father, do I come into your home
knowing now that I have been set free
caressing brothers and sisters with an overflowing heart
how good it is to be in your family.

Humbly oh Father, do I lay my head down
upon your chest it feels so soft and warm
the feeling of your arms around me true peace and joy
its good to be in out of the storm
in a house that's filled with love and oh so warm
yes Father, its good to be home.

Wednesday, September 16, 2009

Some very good articles on Marc Garlasco, the Human Rights Watch member who obsessively collects Nazi memorabilia

I have seen two very coherent and reasonable articles about Marc Garlasco, the military analyst for Human Rights Watch, who is on leave from that organization due to his obsessive collecting of Nazi memorabilia.

The first is a three part posting by an “Advisory Committee member with HRW for some 17 years,” Helena Cobban. She was bothered enough by Garlasco’s activities to write about it and defend her feelings against some rather insistent detractors. (Picture of book, The Flak Badges of the Luftwaffe and Heer by Garlasco)

Here is part of her third posting:

“ I do not claim to know what Garlasco's attitude is toward the Nazi-era military memorabilia that he so obsessively collects. He clearly seems to have a collector's zeal, or obsession, and to spend a lot of time pursuing this hobby. 7,734 posts on Wehrmacht Awards since March 2004, and compiling a 450-page guide to one small sub-branch of Nazi-era badges are not the signs of a casual collector. The comment shown above, made on Wehrmacht Awards in 2005, indicates some open-ness, at the very least, to the idea that one could entertain and express fondness for specifically SS memorabilia.

Also, using 'Flak88' seems like a signal of possible pro-Hitler proclivities to others in that part of the collecting world, who would be quite aware that '88' is their insiders' code for Heil Hitler.”

Here are her three statements.

Marc Garlasco's little "hobby"
Garlasco, part 2
Garlasco, part 3

NGO Monitor also has a complete article with many links. (I should state at this point that Helena Cobban and the editors of NGO Monitor are far apart on their views about Middle East issues, while fairly much in agreement on Garlasco’s hobby.) But in reading this as well as the above postings the reader can understand why I will continue to view Garlasco’s collecting as obsessive and focused on ‘Nazi’ memorabilia.

Here is part of that article:

"According to HRW’s response, “Garlasco’s own family’s experience on both sides of the Second World War has led him to collect military items related to both sides . . .” While Garlasco’s interest may have been a result of his family history, his hobby borders on the obsessive and is one-sided. He has posted thousands of comments on Nazi memorabilia sites including German combatawards (981 posts) and Wehrmacht-awards (7735 posts). In one post, he notes that he takes his collection of medals (many of which are swastika-adorned) out on a yearly basis to admire and photograph. He has even gone so far as to say he would “kill” to obtain a piece. HRW claims Garlasco also collects US Airforce memorabilia. Research conducted by NGO Monitor could not find any evidence that Garlasco’s interest in US military memorabilia approaches the level to which he is devoted to Nazi paraphernalia.”

You can read the article here: Expert or Ideologues?: HRW’s Defense of Marc Garlasco’s Nazi Fetish

Tuesday, September 15, 2009

Something about Marc Garlasco of Human Rights Watch Up-Date

Up-Date: Kattie Coon has informed me that Flak 88 stands for a certain type of gun used by the Germans in World War II. She sent this link That is undoubtedly the right symbol. I however, still stand by my final conclusion.

On this blog when I write about Israel and Middle East issues often in the comment section someone will refer to information that Human Rights Watch has given about Israel. Usually it is bad and most Jewish and pro-Israel people will argue with the information. The person who has done most of this work for HRW is Marc Garlasco. He is a military analyst who has worked for the Pentagon. It now turns out that he also is an obsessive collector of Nazi military memorabilia even to the point of wearing some of their stuff.

On one forum devoted to Nazi military memorabilia Garlasco refers to himself as Flak 88. 88 is often used by neo-Nazi groups and symbolizes Heil Hitler. While I know this from my own research into racist and anti-Semitic groups, here is a section from Wikipedia about the Symbol.

“Eighty-eight is used as code among Neo-Nazis to identify each other.
H is the 8th letter of the alphabet, so 88 is taken to stand for HH which in turn means Heil Hitler. For example, the number is used in the song "88 rock'n'roll band" by the neo-Nazi group Landser. The late convicted Order terrorist David Lane wrote "Fourteen Words" and 88 Precepts, and the numbers are often found in combination (1488, 14/88, etc.). This form of the number has inspired the naming of the groups Column 88, Unit 88, and White Legion 88.”

Because HRW is used so much when any one writes about Israel I have decided to link to some of the articles including the New York Times and Garlasco’s own explanation. The subject can be further explored by using the links found in the articles.

Marc Garlasco - Is HRW's Anti-Israel Investigator A Nazi-Obsessed Collector? Mere Rhetoric
Rights Group Assailed for Analyst’s Nazi Collection -

HRW's Garlasco, taking it easy

Responding to Accusations this is by Marc Garlasco.

The Latest Human Rights Watch Bombshell This one because you can see Garlasco's car with the plate Flak 88.

My thoughts are that Garlasco at the very least is a very foolish and arrogant person to indulge in such an obsessive and creepy subject while working as a Human Rights worker. Or at the very worst he is indulging his own inner dark thoughts with both his collecting and his work.

Monday, September 14, 2009

Dr. Mary Mikhael and Horizon's Bible Study workshop at San Francisco Theological Seminary

I wrote on Saturday evening of my trip that day to San Francisco Theological Seminary with two friends. I didn't keep my promise. We attended the workshop offered by the Presbyterian Women for the 2009-2010 Bible Study, “Joshua: A Journey of Faith.” It was presented by Dr. Mary Mikhael the author.

The drive was early and beautiful. Clouds and then lightening enlivened our trip. Even a few rain drops encouraged us since California is in a drought. Later, on campus, it poured for a few minutes. We were all grateful.

But the workshop was not much different than the one presented by Mikhael at the PW Gathering during the summer in Kentucky. But still, I was once again full of thoughts about such a presentation. My thoughts center around three issues. And they all fit together to form a troubling portent of the future.

They have to do with Mikhael’s view of Scripture, God and contemporary Middle East issues.

She once again stated that God’s word is contained in Scripture. That is, the Bible is not the word of God but it contains the word of God. She also talked of God having the attributes of compassion, love and justice. And because of this she believes that the center section of Joshua is simply oral stories gathered into one story, not fully true or even useful.

And in fact she informed us that many in Lebanon, where she is the Dean of the Near East School of Theology, would like to rid the Bible of the book of Joshua. Mikhael went on to say many would like to rid the Bible of the Hebrew text.

While Mikhael would certainly not go that far and found much worthy of use in Joshua, still she insists that Joshua is full of rocks that must be broken up to find any diamonds.

I am reminded that an earlier generation, particularly in Europe, tended to disregard the Hebrew Bible, cutting away its hard corners so as to make it fit neatly into nineteenth & twentieth century cultural views of God. Some cut the Hebrew Bible away altogether thus turning the Lord Jesus Christ into a cultural monstrosity made important only because of changing human ideals.

At that time it was easy to invent humanly contrived ideals about Jesus Christ and pull the New Testament around the ideal. For instance Jesus was noble or a hero and God was loving but never wrathful. However, one must ask, does God fit into a New Testament milieu but not in all Old Testament views of God?

Mikhael went on to say that the importance of the Bible is because we know God in Scripture. God reveals himself in his word. And while she insists that he is more clearly revealed in the New Testament she went on to speak of him as Creator, personal and a God of covenants in the Hebrew Bible. And she reminded us that God may be angry for the sake of the oppressed. This was all good.

But two points need to be explored. Yes, we more clearly understand God in the New Testament through the eternal Son of the Father, Jesus Christ. Christ is God’s final revelation and in him we may see how God works out the promises of the Hebrew Bible. And yet, the Hebrew Bible is full of the eternal Son, both in Theophanies and promises to come.

Certainly all that Jesus said of himself came from the Hebrew text. Nonetheless this should never demean the history of the Hebrew Bible. And contrary to post-modern sensibilities all the attributes of God found in the Hebrew Bible find a twin in the New Testament.

God is love. But he is also a God of justice and wrath. Certainly, in God’s perfection, his wrath as well as his love, leads to justice. Think of Jesus in the temple, with a whip in his hand, overturning the moneychangers’ tables, driving out the unholy from the Holy. Think of references to the Lord’s compassion and care in the Hebrew Bible:

“How can I give you up, O Ephraim? How can I surrender you, O Israel? …My heart is turned within Me, all My compassions are kindled. I will not execute My fierce anger; I will not destroy Ephraim again. For I am God and not man, the Holy One in your midst, and I will not come in wrath. (Hosea 11:8-9)”

His judgment and wrath is in the Hebrew text; it also belongs to the New Testament. (Acts 5:110; 12:22-23; 13:6-12) His compassion is in both.

Mikhael, attempting to reconcile her pacifism, a legitimate Christian view, with Scripture admits that God may be angry and he seeks justice. He is for the oppressed. Yet, his wrath and judgment against sin is not mentioned. And she, a pacifist and a Christian, in both workshops has lifted up the terrorist group Hezbollah whose goal is to destroy Israel. According to Mikhael they are simply a resistance group.

She also had good words to say about the booklet, Steadfast Hope, published by Israel/Palestine Mission Network. IPMN was at the workshop selling the booklet.

I have been writing on the booklet now for several weeks. It contains several anti-Semitic ideas in it such as the insistence that the Jewish immigrants to Israel were not really genetically Jews but the descendents of converts to Judaism.

During the comment time I had to protest such one-sided political views in a Bible study workshop. Mikhael insisted that the American people never hear the true story, and she never backed off from her views about Hezbollah. I felt fairly alone as most of the women clapped for her after our exchange. However, I was not alone. (I know the Lord was there)

Several women came up to me thanking me for speaking up. One had two sons-in-law who were messianic Jews. One had a friend who had also been in Lebanon during the war between Hezbollah and Israel. She told me part of the story, but I never got to hear the end. I hope I do sometime soon.

Not just a few clouds or streaks of lightening, but a whole storm may be coming at the next General Assembly. Perhaps it is time for more Presbyterians to speak up for the sake of God’s chosen people the Jews.

Saturday, September 12, 2009

I didn't keep my promise

Okay, I know I said I would be good today. Anyway that is what I told some friends, both those I went with, and those I ate with the other night. But who could be quiet. Well, I guess most but I couldn't. I know some of the past, I know some of the present, I know what the future might bring. So I could not be quiet.

Today at the Presbyterian Women's workshop on the Horizon's Bible Study at San Francisco Theological Seminary with Dr. Mary Mikhael the author presenting I simply felt discouraged. I went with two good friends, one from my church Fremont Presbyterian Church, and the other from Peace Presbyterian Church.

When Mikhael started referring to the Hezbollah as a resistance group which simply formed to rid Lebanon of the Israeli occupation, it was too much. When she suggested that the only reason Israel invaded Lebanon in 2006 was because Hezbollah kidnapped two soldiers my burden of knowing the truth was just too much. She opened the session for comments and I entered that door.

Hezbollah shot rockets into Israeli towns; they not only kidnapped two soldiers but also killed at least ten others on that day. And the story is also, as usual, very complex.

And only a resistance group? This is in their charter:

"The Necessity for the Destruction of Israel:"Our primary assumption in our fight against Israel states that the Zionist entity is aggressive from its inception, and built on lands wrested from their owners, at the expense of the rights of the Muslim people. Therefore our struggle will end only when this entity is obliterated. We recognize no treaty with it, no cease fire, and no peace agreements, whether separate or consolidated."

Later Mikhael lifted up the booklet Steadfast Hope. A representative from Israel/Palestine Mission Network was selling it just outside the door in the church. That is the booklet I have been blogging about for several weeks. It is the one that encourages the reader to believe that the Jewish people who immigrated to Israel are not really Jewish but only children of converts. It is the booklet that insists that the Israel lobby and other Jewish groups control the media in the United States.

Because I am weary, because tomorrow is Sunday, a day for the body of Christ to gather for worship I am just going to finish this with a song I like and then, perhaps, write on it some more later. But I have to admit I did not keep my promise.

Friday, September 11, 2009

What's in a name? Israel/Palestine or Israel and Palestine?

The whole time I have been writing about the Israel/Palestine Mission Network I frown every time I write Israel/Palestine. I always will.

The reason? Several years ago Dr. James Berkley and I wrote a paper together entitled, “PW Document Shows Embarrassment about Jesus and the Bible.” The PW document, “Guidelines for Avoiding Anti-Semitism,” was one of those papers which attempts to give an extended list of correct ways to refer to other people, organizations and in this case even a nation.

In the document, which was quickly removed, the authors also showed some embarrassment about Israel and the Jewish people. They wrote “The modern State of Israel is properly called Israel/Palestine in respect for the independent Palestine state emerging there.”

I cringe now every time I see those two names together, Israel & Palestine, with only a slash between them. I am always certain there is a deeper meaning in that coupling. For the IPMN that is a certainty since several years ago they produced a brochure that was intended to help the church pray for the Middle East with the State of Israel and Palestine once again crunched together while all other States were allowed their names.

Now there is a power point, The Cradle of Our Faith PowerPoint study companion , mostly about the Christians in the Middle East. Once again the State of Israel is crunched up with Palestine. (And this power point as usual fails to tell the complete story about Israel.) For instance this:

“When Israel was formed in 1948, Mandate Palestine, unlike its neighbors, was not granted self-rule and self-determination, but became a zone of mounting conflict. Britain not only maintained its colonial presence but presided over a massive influx of European Jews fleeing European anti-Semitism and Nazism, which ultimately led to the partition of Palestine.”

No, there could have been a Palestinian state but instead the Arab nations attacked Israel. Their aim was to destroy Israel and so they felt no need to pursue a Palestinian State. On top of that misinformation this paragraph begins with the 1948 birth of the State of modern Israel and then turns back to 1945 to 1947 to make it seem as though the “colonial presence of Britain” still existed after Israel had become a state in 1948.

Then under “The Jewish State” there is this:

The Western-sponsored establishment of a Jewish state in the Arab Middle East, predictably, brought stresses to relations among Middle Eastern Muslims, Christians, and Jews. Sadly, the Mizrahi Jewish communities that once prospered in Alexandria, Baghdad, Damascus, Beirut, and Tehran are now shadows of their former vital selves or are extinct.

There is some truth to this, but not much. Stresses? Although most of these Jewish communities considered themselves citizens of their particular countries, they were attacked, killed and exiled. Close to a million were exiled. It is not sadness that is called for but honesty mixed with horror.

But, finally, what about the name Palestine. Dr. Mary Mikhael writes that “By Roman times (early second century C.E.), the word Philistine morphed to Palestine and was used by the governments to identify not just the coastline, but the whole of the land between the Jordan River and the Mediterranean Sea.”

And she does provide a clear description of the modern area of Palestine, writing that the name Palestine now is used to refer to the West Bank, Gaza and East Jerusalem but that the two names must be placed together to show that they both have “a right to self-determination and a right to exist within sovereign and secure borders.” (24)

But where did that name really come from? Why is the area named after a group of people who were once the enemies of Israel? With the last revolt of the Jewish people against Rome, Hadrian, in an attempt to make sure the name Judea or Israel would never again be known, renamed the whole area after the Philistines, a people who no longer existed.

In an extremely interesting article, “What Did Rome Call the Land of Israel? –What were its Borders?” Prof. Elliot A. Green gives the whole history. He writes “The name "Palestine" was not used officially by the Romans before Hadrian (135 CE).” He goes on to explain:

Some 65 years later [after the defeat by Titus], however, in the year 135 CE, when the Emperor Hadrian's forces had suppressed the Jewish revolt led by Bar-Kokhba, the emperor renamed the province Provincia Syria Palaestina. The name change had obvious political implications. This becomes even clearer when we bear in mind that at the same time Hadrian forbid Jews to live in a large zone in the heart of Judea around Jerusalem.

Before 135 AD, that land which was Judea was called Judea. It was not called Palestine. And the author cites several references to prove his point, including Pliny the Elder.

Israel has returned to her land she should also have her own name.

"It is racial prejudice to deny the people of Israel the right to name their own land."

Monday, September 7, 2009

Using the Belhar Confession to overcome Israel’s “racism,” and as a means to bring about repentance from those desiring a Jewish State!

Sometime after the Presbyterian Church (U.S.A.)’s General Assembly I posted an article, The Belhar Confession & God's final revelation on my blog about how it might be possible to use Belhar as a means of insisting that a denomination must ordain practicing homosexuals.

What I did not know at that time was that at the General Synod (2004) of the Reformed Church in America[1], two speakers, one from South Africa, the other from Palestine, insisted not only that the Belhar confession would provide a means for “justice” for homosexuals in the church and unity among the three monotheistic faiths, but that it might be a means for bringing those who desire a Jewish State to repentance.

The first speaker, The Rev. Christo Lombard from the Uniting Reformed Church of South Africa laid out some of the more positive aspects of Belhar and attempted to give it a strong connection to Barmen and Barth. That in itself calls for a different posting. But as a contextual theologian he emphasized how Belhar could be used in other contexts, including Palestine.

Under the subtitle “the Palestine struggle for independence and justice,” Lombard stated:

“ It is with grave and almost bewildered concern that South Africans (and other citizens of our planet) witness the typical violent and oppressive (“apartheid”) route the Palestinian struggle for justice is taking under the almost unbelievable measures of the Israeli state to “control” the lives of Palestinians in the smallest details, like in the “old” South Africa. With bitter irony, walls are now being erected around Palestinian cities or enclaves, reminding us of the Jewish ghettos of the holocaust. If there is one situation in this world that contextually fits the antiapartheid struggle and its dynamics, for which the Belhar Confession was written, it must be the Palestinian situation, currently. Only, the situation in the “Holy Land” appears to be even more serious, threatening, and inhuman than the terrible days of apartheid in South Africa. Is it possible? Does this not cry out for another status confessionis? Do we have any consistency in the very heart of our Christian convictions about justice?”

Lombard’s speech covered a wide range of uses to make of Belhar including the idea of justice for those he considered marginalized in the church. But the next speaker, The Rev. Dr. Mitri Raheb, pastor of Evangelical Lutheran Christmas Church in Bethlehem and General Director of the International Center of Bethlehem, dealt chiefly with Palestine, including the three monotheistic faiths in the area.

Raheb, of course, found it necessary to show the differences between the problems of South Africa and the problems in Palestine and Israel. That is, since the problem in South Africa was between different churches or Christians, Raheb looked for divisions among the churches in his area and found it mainly between those Christians who consider themselves Christian Zionists and the churches that reject Christian Zionism. He found it also between those who support Israel as a Jewish State and those who do not.

But an important thought here with both Lombard and Raheb is that one must see Israel as racist in order to use Belhar as a confession to address the issues. And besides the racist label, one must expand the definitions of those involved since the scenario moves from Christian unity to ethnic unity combined with interfaith unity. This is interesting because Belhar pointed to a church denying the Christian faith because of the lack of unity between believers.

Raheb asks, “My reading of the Belhar Confession suggests that there could be a small open window, which might help us to do exactly this. On several places in the confession the word “church” is replaced by another category called “the People of God.” The Belhar Confession uses this term to describe the church. My question would be, is it possible to expand this “People of God” terminology to encompass the “peoples of God,” including in this Jews and Muslims? And by this to provide a monotheistic platform for unity?”

In his attempt to contextualize the confession Raheb clearly moves far beyond Barmen and Barth. And as I have contended in other postings this is due to a lack of placing the confession of Christ as Lord as the foremost reason for the Belhar Confession.

Raheb goes on to refer to Barmen as a Confession directed against the “racist ideology” of the Nazis. But he fails to understand that its main focus was confessing Christ. Christ as Lord means that the commandments of other lords such as “hate Jews” or “tell lies about Jews” cannot be obeyed.

After referring to Barmen he now turns to Israel and the Jews insisting that now it is time for a Jewish confession. He states:

“Where do our Jewish dialogical partners stand with regard to the apartheid system which is being perpetuated by the Israeli government? Why don’t we hear more Jewish clergy raising their clear voices against this? Isn’t it time for a clear Jewish confession or for maybe a joint Jewish-Christian confession regarding the lands and the people under Israeli occupation? We have been confessing our sins to the Jewish people over and over again for fifty years now. And we do not regret doing that. But we should now expect our Jewish partners to confess their sins against the Palestinian people. A moment of truth has come. This issue, I believe, will either make or break Jewish-Christian dialogue. It is in this spirit of the Belhar Confession that I hope we can come to forge a unified Jewish-Christian confession on this issue.”

But one must deny several issues to state any of this. One has to deny the need for a Jewish State, which means that the history of the persecution of the Jews has been ignored. And above all else a denial of the very reason for a confession has occurred. The main reason for the Church’s Confession is to clearly confess Jesus Christ as Lord.