Friday, May 21, 2010

Equpping the saints, telling lies, and other thoughts

Late Tuesday evening I returned from an out of state trip. After partially catching up on what needed to be done in the house, writing a letter to the editor, which in this case was a joy because I could dig deep into one of our confessions, and returning to another joy, a new biography of Dietrich Bonhoeffer, I spent far too much time on Google.

I was searching out a mystery created by the San Francisco Presbytery with its overture 08-09 and the overture’s link to a paper created by the Presbyterian Israel/Palestine Mission Network.

Truthfully it is the IPMN which has created the mystery. With their paper, Christians and Jews: People of God” an example of Occupation Theology, they have created such a lie that it is impossible to untangle it. And so several of us have googled trying to find out what church in what Rochester city in what state (probably New York) was burnt down and why. (picture: Early Rising by Lauren Ford)

We already know that the footnote connected to their accusations of threats has liable information in it. That is they accuse Jewish organizations and members of Jewish synagogues in the United States of sending, (perhaps a bomb) to the Presbyterian headquarters in Louisville. Remembering the past plus reading news articles we know the truth about that. It isn’t true. But did the Jewish organizations and the Jewish citizens really burn down a church?

This is all that can be found, “Fire guts historic New York church,” at the Presbyterian News Service or anywhere else for that matter. The church was struck by lightning.

The above thoughts all came together as I made coffee and my husband asked me if I knew which epistle had the verse about Jesus ascending to heaven and giving gifts to the church. So after suggesting it might be in Ephesians I sat down and read chapter four. I thought how we can all be gifts to the church by walking in the newness that Jesus gives us or we can insist on damaging the church with our own personal agendas.

That chapter in Ephesians speaks about the gifts of apostles, prophets, evangelists, pastors and teachers who equip the “saints for the work of service, to the building up of the body of Christ.” But it also speaks of what we need to lay aside which includes anger and stealing and this, “Therefore laying aside falsehood, speak truth each one of you with his neighbor, for we are members of one another.”

This brings me back to the biography of Bonhoeffer, Bonhoeffer: Pastor, Martyr, Prophet, Spy, there is a section on Martin Luther and how he at first understood how badly the church had treated the Jewish people and then how he in several ways became mentally unhinged and said some very horrible things about the Jews. His later words were used by the Nazis, his earlier sane words were used by Bonhoeffer and others.

If I had been a Jew and had seen such dolts and blockheads govern and teach the Christian faith, I would sooner have become a hog than a Christian.”

Martin Luther must have been looking over some of our backs. I am pleading with myself and others: use the gifts Jesus gives us to help the church, equip the saints, bring others to Jesus Christ, bring discernment to the body, care for one another and the lost. Anchored in the One who is the Truth, tell the truth.

"As a result [of being built up] we are no longer to be children tossed here and there by waves and carried about by every wind of doctrine, by the trickery of men, by craftiness in decietful scheming; but speaking the truth in love, we are to grow up in all aspects into Him who is the head, even Christ, from whom the whole body, being fitted and held together by what every joint supplies, according to the proper working of each individual part, causes the growth of the body for the building of itself in love. (Eph 4:14-16)"
H.T. to Dexter Van Zile of Camera for Church News


will spotts said...

Viola - I also have been trying to find out what incident the IPMN was describing. I too am coming up with a complete blank - it seems to be a complete fabrication.

I know that people will sometimes comment - claiming the IPMN is not antisemitic. But I think this diverts from the relevant issue. If indeed this story is untrue- as clearly seems to be the case, I, for one, could not care less what the motives behind such libels are. The intent, though difficult to defend, is far less important than the fact that accusations of this kind are being made in the first place.

It may well be that overt lying was not the intent. It may be that this is simply a manifestation of such a degree of bias that prompts people to believe the worst of their targets without proof.

Whether the IPMN is motivated by some indiscernible cause - their action itself is the problem. Commissioners to the GA need to be aware that it is NEVER OK to spread false information, that it is NEVER a Christian action to ignore fundamental fairness, and that one-sidedness and bias in terms of facts presented automatically precludes any possibility of the 'prophetic'.

This is just egregious; unfortunately, equally false information is being presented in numerous overtures, from the MESC, and from other employees, networks, and committees of the church.

Will Spotts
North East, MD

Viola Larson said...

I am particularly bothered by this because it is a slander against the Jewish people of the United States. And every time I read it, and I have read it a lot trying figure out where it is coming from, I wonder is it something taken off of an anti-Semitic web site like Storm Front.

I know there are some very strange things out there-but who knows.

How can we ever talk about the real problems when this kind of thing keeps showing up in Presbyterian documents.

will spotts said...

I noticed the difference - this has NOTHING to do with Israel or the government of Israel. It is targeting American Jewish groups.

I can't imagine the source. They cited Muzzle Watch - maybe there was something on that site at some point?

will spotts said...

I'm curious - do you know if the Presbytery of San Francisco appended this document - or was it added somehow administratively.

I ask because I thought I originally saw it briefly as an appendix to the report of Christians and Jews.

I'm wondering whether or not the Presbytery of San Francisco thought this was somehow perfectly OK. Clearly their overture echoes the desire of the IPMN - but would they really think that the contents of this (including the accusations) could in any way, shape, or form be considered ethical conduct?

Viola Larson said...


This is in the text of the rationale:

"The leadership of the Israel-Palestine Mission Network, upon learning that such entities [The Middle East caucus for one]had not been invited to participate in this process, expressed its concern to the Office of Interfaith Relations. The issues raised in the following critique of “Christians and Jews: People of God” by the IPMN in its memo of February 18, 2010 to the General Assembly Mission Council have not yet been addressed, and need to be—in a substantive manner. (See attached background materials for text of this memo.)"

So it must have been S.F. who attached the link.

will spotts said...

Thanks for pointing that out. I guess that answers that.

On ONE point I agree with the Presbytery of San Francisco: "The issues raised ... by the IPMN ... have not yet been addressed, and need to be—in a substantive manner."

This does need to be addressed in a substantive manner. If the IPMN can provide evidence for its allegations against Jewish organizations - then it needs to do so. If it cannot, then the PC(USA) needs to decide, once for all, if it supports the kind of hate speech such an unsubstantiated allegation would constitute.

Viola Larson said...

I agree with that also.