Monday, December 27, 2010

When do we seek agreement, when do we, instead, stand for righteousness?

Someone, who I respect in many ways, offered me some advice in the comment section of an article linked to several weeks ago at CHURCHandWorld.Com. The article “The Presbyterian-Jewish Divide that Need Never Be,” had to do with both a controversy between the Simon Wiesenthal Center and supposedly the Presbyterian Church; the article had as its background the Middle East peace problems.[1] I suggested that many Jewish people and organizations are confused because they see the actions of the Israel/Palestine Mission Network of the Presbyterian Church (U.S.A.) as the actions of the whole Presbyterian Church.

In disagreement the commenter wrote, “Viola, how about working for how we can AGREE with one another, rather than how we DISAGREE? Maybe God’s shalom will break through if we don’t help the sides rub salt in the wounds.”

And this is an issue that I think needs to be addressed because it is an important statement about how issues are sometimes, but not always, resolved. We want reconciliation and are even willing to compromise in order to reach peaceful agreements. Sometimes that is good and right. But sometimes it isn’t. The truth is that sometimes we are so desirous of seeking reconciliation that we become confused about the difference between standing for righteousness and dialoguing for unity.

And so questions ensue. What does one do in the face of evil? And how should we as Christians, who are often seen as peacemakers, oppose evil. When is a compromise a good position to take and when is it wrong? When do we quit looking for what we agree on because the other person or group has become so involved in evil that all we can do is stand and oppose them?

Israel and the Palestinians with their horrendous problems and the PCUSA’s IPMN’s involvement in their problems are perhaps the ultimate reasons for answering those questions. I believe that Rev. Dr. Byron Shafer, a member and lone dissenter, of the past PCUSA Middle East Study Committee, gave the clearest answer in his speech at the GA breakfast for Presbyterians for Middle East Peace. We must love both sides, Israel and the Palestinians, and act accordingly.

So where and how can Christians and Presbyterians agree with the IPMN. We can not and, please, listen very carefully to why I say this. Many of us oppose most of the settlements, we may oppose where the wall is placed, we must oppose any racism, we must criticize Israel as well as the Palestinians, but we cannot discuss issues or talk about agreement on Middle East issues with the Israel Palestine Mission Network. They have crossed a line that must never be crossed again by any church or Christian organization in the modern or post-modern eras. Here is their offense:

1. They have slandered the Jewish people of the United States without apology. That also happened in the past and was part of the many acts of anti-Semitism against the Jewish people that led to the holocaust.[2]

2. They have allowed themselves to be pulled into a circle of vile anti-Semitic writers who are willing to tell lies about Israel and the Jewish people. Some of the writers even advocate for the death of the Jews, insisting they are trying to take over the world.[3]

3. They promote a one state solution and insist that Israel should not be a Jewish State, thereby denying the Jewish people any place of safety.[4]

4. They make common cause with and defend those who believe that Jewish refugees are not genetic Jews and that they should be pushed out of Israel and return to the countries in which they were persecuted.[5]

5. They make light of the Holocaust equating the death of six-million people with the suffering of the Palestinian people.[6]

If we make common cause with the IPMN we will be on the side of those who do nothing but rub salt in the wound of the Jewish people and their wound is deep, cruel and very, very old. If we unite with IPMN around any common agreement we will be connected to that other part of them which is now so deeply entrenched in anti-Semitism that it causes our whole denomination to reek with the same odor that drifted over the world in the 1930’s.

William Buckley, that great conservative who loved debate, knew when to do so and when to cut away that which would poison his own morals. He refused connections to the John Birch Society because of their early anti-Semitism and their conspiracy theories; he severed Patrick Buchannan from conservative fellowship because of his anti-Semitism. Anti-Semitism has no place in the life of a Christian individual or organization. I pray that all who are members of the Presbyterian Church (U.S.A.) will begin to move away from any connections with those who are tainted with such immorality.

The Lord of the Church is truly Lord of the Church. No ideology, no group of advisors tainted with prejudice and bigotry, no leadership which allows worldly lies to enter our decision making has a right above his rights. Salvation is “from the Jews” Jesus told the woman of Samaria. Our heritage is in both the New and the Old Testament. We are not allowed to cut ourselves free from any of those pages. We are forever connected to God’s promises to Israel that through them he would bless the world. As we hold that blessing, Jesus Christ, close, we will not allow his Hebrew children to be maligned and hated.

May Christ Jesus have mercy on us and help us.

[1] I have it from a very good source that the original title of the article sent by the SWC to the Wall Street Journal was not Presbyterians but mainline denominations. The WSJ changed it.
[2] See An overture filled with fury: anti-Semitism again and Slandering the Jewish people-more on overture 08-09
[3] For further information on this see, Veterans Today: anti-Semitism moving from the right to the left and IPMN: More From the Gutter. Also click on the link provided above, vile anti-Semitic writers which is an article prepared by the ADL.
[4] The IPMN’s endorsement of the Kairos Document, which condemns the idea of Israel as a Jewish State (Which it is) and this article is part of this problem: Israel is a Jewish State: IPMN's Noushin Framke would like that to end
[5] See Were Holocaust victims linked genealogically to biblical Israel?
[6] The footnotes for this could go on forever I will just leave it at that.


Anonymous said...

Jesus said that the gates of Hell will not prevail against his church. The church is with us and will remain until his return, just as he left the earth after his resurrection. Every eye will see him, even those who pierced him. It is one thing to always be on the offensive as we proclaim God’s love for the whole world (John 3:16) and another to willingly fragment in hatred of that love. The church has always been in the minority and the Jews will always be with us. God has spoken and his word will endure. The Jews will always be a presence in the world. God has never failed to keep a single promise he made!
In 47 years of working in people’s homes as a professional I have served people of many different Nationalities. Some of the most endearing are my Jewish clients. While we differ on the reality of Jesus Christ as God’s Messiah, we are, nevertheless, good friends and have been for decades. My childhood Jewish Optometrist provided his services for me at times when I could not afford to pay him. The more I learn from studying the Bible, the more I love and care deeply for Jewish people I know, partly because of how I have been befriended by them but mostly because I understand God’s love for them. God has promised that he would never abandon his chosen people and now, more than 2000 years later they are still with us. They will never be destroyed! They truly have blessed the entire earth as God said they would when He made His promise to Abraham more than 3,000 years ago!

Viola Larson said...

Brad Larson
Sac, Ca