Thursday, September 27, 2012

Presbyterian the little ones

Two Presbyterian entities have articles with confrontational references to Jesus. The Presbyterian News Service has an article highlighting one of our mission partners who is a part of the team representing the Presbyterian International Peacemaker Program. The article, Knowing Jesus, is about Andrey Beskorovainiy, a Roma Pastor. When asked “What is the primary message you want to communicate to U.S. Presbyterians?” Beskorovainiy answers, “Do you know Jesus?” That is a wonderful question, and just the right one for this time in our denomination.

Sadly the other Presbyterian entity, The Presbyterian, is attempting to answer the question with those theologians and teachers that will lead followers of Jesus away from a true biblical knowledge of Jesus. They are now highlighting two sets of a series of videos and study books one entitled, Living the Questions, the other entitled, Saving Jesus. The latter is a revision of the first. The summery of “Saving Jesus,” is:
Ever feel like Jesus has been kidnapped by the Christian Right and discarded by the Secular Left? Jesus Redux is total revision of Living the Question’s popular 12-session DVD-based small group exploration of credible Jesus for the third millennium. New contributors including Brian McLaren, Diana Butler Bass, and Robin Meyers join Marcus Borg, Walter Brueggemann, John Dominic Crossan, Matthew Fox, Amy-Jill Levine and a host of others for a conversation around the relevance of Jesus for today.
Some of the other presenters listed are John Cobb, Rita Nakashima Brock and John Shelby Spong. Many of these authors, theologians and teachers do not believe in the most bedrock belief of the Christian faith, the deity of Christ.

Matthew Fox and Spong are two infamous examples but there are others. Marcus Borg has stated that he sees Jesus from a panentheistic view. That is the view that humanity is a part of God although God is more than humanity. Using this view he sees Jesus as a person who is so empty that he could be filled with the Spirit. “Thus I see Jesus as the embodiment and incarnation of the God who is everywhere present. But he is not a visitor from else where, sent to the world by a god ‘out there.’”[2] Borg does not accept any of the statements Jesus makes about himself such as “I am the Light of the world” as being authentic.

Stephen Patterson, professor at Eden Theological Seminary, and another contributor for the videos, in his book, The God of Jesus: the historical Jesus and the Search for Meaning, misrepresents the biblical view of the Incarnation, suggesting that it was easy for ancient peoples to believe that a god mated with a human.[3] And he goes on to write that the meaning the early disciples found was simply in the words and actions of Christ, not in his miracles, death or resurrection. Patterson writes:
But many still believe that Jesus was essentially divine, accepting this as an article of faith, even though the mythic framework within which such belief might have made sense has longed passed away from our cultural consciousness. It remains as the text of a placard, a rallying cry. But it is a claim without meaningful content in the modern world. It is perhaps the centerpiece of a modern Christianity that has been drained of most of its content and meaning.[4]
Another contributor, Brock, under the subtitle, “Beyond Jesus as the Christ,” in her book, Journeys by Heart: A Christology of Erotic Power, concerned with what she calls erotic power posits Christ not in the person Jesus but in a community. She writes:
In that sense, Christ is what I am calling Christa/Community. Jesus participates centrally in this Christa/Community, but he neither brings erotic power into being nor controls it. … Hence Christa/Community is described in the images of events in which erotic power is made manifest. The reality of erotic power within connectedness means it cannot be located in a single individual. Hence what is truly Christological, that is, truly revealing of divine incarnation and salvific power in human life, must reside in connectedness and not in single individuals.[5]
Very few of those on the contributors list accept the biblical view of atonement. Brock along with author Rebecca Ann Parker, a Methodist minister in fellowship with the Unitarian Universalist Association, and another contributor, wrote the book Proverbs of Ashes which considers the biblical view of atonement to be child abuse and the cause of abuse against women. Their book Saving Paradise: How Christianity Traded Love of this World for Crucifixion and Empire is a convoluted text attempting to prove that the idea of the cross as important to Christianity is an extremely late innovation.

The text is also occultic in its worldview. Chapter seven begins, “Throughout their lives, Christians were instructed to be the earthly manifestations of God. Like their forerunner and model, they were to become fully human and fully divine.” (6)

One could keep probing and quoting the relentless destruction of such basic Christian beliefs, including the bodily resurrection of Jesus—but this is enough to insist that the entity ‘Presbyterian Leadership’ is failing to uphold and defend the faith. It is an official Presbyterian organization promoting material that will lead astray and hurt those who belong to Jesus Christ. The scripture gives very clear warnings about such teaching. Jesus is very clear:

I am the door; if anyone enters through me, he will be saved, and will go in and out and find pasture. The thief comes only to steal and kill and destroy; I came that they might have life, and have it abundantly." (John 10:9-10)

And Paul, faithful to his Lord, thinking of his people and undoubtedly looking prophetically down the long corridors of history states:

Be on guard for yourselves and for all the flock among which the Holy Spirit has made you overseers, to shepherd the church of God which he purchased with his own blood. I know that after my departure savage wolves will come in among you, not sparing the flock; and from among your own selves men will arise speaking perverse things to draw away the disciples after them.” (Acts 20:28-30)

This is perverse and the evil one who has ever opposed Jesus Christ and his redemptive, life, death and resurrection, surely intends it as one of his means of stealing, killing and destroying.

David Maxwell, who is “the executive editor for Geneva Press, WJK Press, The Thoughtful Christian, and The Presbyterian Leader,” needs to address the apostate teaching that is being offered through the Saving Jesus curriculum. Hopefully no official organization or leader in the PC (U.S.A.) will allow themselves to become complicit in harming the little ones of Christ’s kingdom.

[1]This is from the web site of Presbyterian Leadership, “The Mission of The Presbyterian The Presbyterian is a comprehensive selection of inspiring resources that provides the information necessary to support new and existing congregational leaders as they prepare meaningful worship experiences, learn about practical and spiritual aspects of leadership in the church, and forge a deeper understanding of basic Presbyterian beliefs and doctrines.
The Presbyterian is maintained by the Presbyterian Publishing Corporation, the publishing house of the Presbyterian Church (U.S.A.)."

[2]Marcus J. Borg & N.T. Wright, The Meaning of Jesus, paperback edition, (San Francisco: HarperSanFrancisco 2000) 147-48.

[3]Please note that both Borg and Patterson present a caricature of real biblical Christology.

[4]Stephen J. Patterson, The God of Jesus: The Historical Jesus & the Search for Meaning, ((Harrisburg, Pennsylvania: Trinity Press International 1998) 53.

[5]Rita Nakashima Brock, Journeys by Heart: A Christology of Erotic Power, (New York: Crossroad 2000) 52.

[6]Rebecca Ann Parker & Rita Nakashima Brock, Saving Paradise: How Christianity Traded Love of this World for Crucifixion and Empire, (Boston: Beacon Press 2008) 169.


Anonymous said...

Greetings Viola,
Great teaching on the apostasy which permeates the PC(USA) at this point in history. All the educated reprobates with the capital letters after their name can disclaim Jesus all they want; however, it does not make it so. As you have gracefully quoted, the Scriptures very clearly address false teachers. My humble conclusion on this issue can be traced back to Genesis 3:1”has God indeed said?” A question Satan espouses over and over to this day. Sadly, now Satan has more listeners that just Eve. Mankind continues to indulge in our fallen state with the precept we know more that our Creator. How utterly ridiculous we have become that our minis cue minds reduce God to the simple standards of the created. Like the Pharisees, these heretics show no fear of God. Instead of listening to the whisper of Jesus, they boast of inner knowledge known only to them: which leads to mocking of Jesus and His followers. Christ comforts us and warns them in Luke 12: 4-5. Continue to be bold Viola and may the Peace of Christ overwhelm you!

Boris in North Carolina

Anonymous said...

This is really an amazing collection of presenters. If Presbyterian Leadership had decided to deliberately have a "Heresypalooza," they couldn't have done better than this.

David Fischler
Woodbridge, VA

Anonymous said...

Just checked, and found that Presbyterian Leadership didn't produce this. Some group called "Living the Questions" did. PL only sells it. Still, the fact that a denominational outlet sells garbage like this implies endorsement.

David Fischler
Woodbridge, VA

Viola Larson said...

Yes my concern is that they have highlighted it on their site. It is the first thing you see. And more than that, they are selling it as leadership material. Some of the authors are Presbyterian but most are not. If this had been material by some of the least radical--and they are there-that would not have been quite as bad. But many of the authors are complete heretics-there isn't anything that is Christian that they believe.

Viola Larson said...

I appreciate what you have to say, but I do need to ask you to include your full name--some do not but it is generally because I already know them.