Now we know and we know a lot more.
Now we know why two years ago before the 218 General Assembly a paper written and placed on the PCUSA’s web site apologizing for the Church’s anti-Semitism was changed without any announcement and yet with the same title. That paper was titled “Vigilance Against anti-Jewish Bias In the Pursuit of Israeli-Palestinian Peace.”
I wrote about it here: Not just a broken confession of sin but a disappearing one!
This is part of what I wrote: “This newly revised document is changed in many ways. An attitude of humility in the face of past wrongs has turned to arrogance. … 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.’”
Now after reading some letters of complaint written by both the Secretary of the National Middle Eastern Caucus, Raafat L. Zaki, and the Moderator of the National Middle Eastern Presbyterian Caucus, Fahed Abu-Akel to several leaders of the GAMC of the Presbyterian Church (U.S.A.) I understand a little more about how the anti-Jewish bias worms its way into the soul of the PCUSA. National Middle Eastern Presbyterian Caucus Letter
The letters are complaints about not being consulted before the papers "Christians and Jews: People of God" and “Toward an Understanding of Christian-Muslim Relations" written by Jay Rock and Joseph Small, were approved by the GAMC. (The papers are coming before the 219th General Assembly.)
After going over all the papers recommended by the Presbyterian Middle East Study Committee and noting that they did not consult any members of the main Jewish organizations in the United States I find this newest complaint by the Presbyterian Middle East Caucus amazing.(1) I find some other things amazing. But first I should say that except for a very few ideas I found the paper “Christians and Jews: People of God,” a reasonable paper and finally one that is fair to the Jewish people.
Here are some things I found amazing in the letters of complaint: One writer found that the paper on Christians and Jews was “shabby” and had “questionable content.” And those statements are underlined and in bold!
Also the letter writer, Zaki, felt that the paper on Christians and Jews was like other such documents that “have influenced perspectives in the United States on issues of war and peace in the Middle East, and ultimately resulted in the support of two wars in Iraq, and policies that allowed the subjugation and disposition of the Palestinian people. It is such documents that have had tremendous negative impact on the lives of 18 million Christians in the Middle East and have rendered hundreds of thousands of us [those from the Middle East] refugees and in Diaspora.”
Another complaint was that the writers of the paper did not subscribe to supersessionism,(the replacement of the Jews by the Church), also Zaki complained that the paper did not uphold the doctrine of the Trinity. (I did not find that in the paper and I am fairly clear about the Trinity as most of my readers know.It may be that because Rock refers to the paper on the Trinity that Zaki has this complaint. While I don't care for the Trinity paper either it doesn't inform the paper "Christians and Jews: People of God.") I think perhaps Zaki’s problem may be that Rock writes that God continues to be faithful to the Jews.
Abu-Akel has suggested “that this paper not be sent to the General Assembly until consultation is done and our Christian partners in the Middle East as well as Middle Eastern Presbyterians in the US are invited to participate in the process.”
In these letters of complaint twice the paper I mentioned above, “Vigilance Against anti-Jewish Bias In the Pursuit of Israeli-Palestinian Peace.” is mentioned. Once in the letter by Zaki, but also in Abu-Akel’s letter. The latter writes, “It has not been two years since he [Jay Rock] issued the ‘Vigilance’ statement without proper consultation; and subsequently I and other concerned Presbyterians had to fly to Louisville (at our own expenses) to meet with you and GAMC staff to discuss it.”
Now we know why it was changed.
This is politics trying to over-ride theology and fairness. This is what we have asked for and received-to have all the Middle East issues and their bitterness show up in our own back yard because we have not remembered that “The gifts and callings of God are irrevocable.” (Romans 11:29)And “that God has shut up all in disobedience so that he may show mercy to all.”(32)
(1). I see that one of the members of the Presbyterian Middle East Caucus is Elder Lucy Janjigian one of the members of the Presbyterian Middle East Study Committee and an American Palestinian. One of those who found it troubling for the committees' report to affirm Israel's right of existence.