Tuesday, January 28, 2014

The Israel/Palestine Mission Network & Zionism Unsettled denies the uniqueness of Jesus Christ

I am surprised that no one protested loudly about denying the unique Lordship of Jesus Christ. Maybe all of those who care are those who have left or are in the process of leaving the denomination—but I must be wrong, surely I am wrong. I, just a few days ago, posted a book review where I told you that the Israel/Palestine Mission Network, a Presbyterian Church (U.S.A.) organization, not only had insisted that Zionism was evil at its roots, they also insisted that it was possible that God was intending a greater or fuller revelation then Jesus Christ. That is what this quote taken from Zionism Unsettled means:
“...many contemporary Christians choose to modify our traditional theology by saying that the life, death, and resurrection of Christ is the most complete revelation of God that we know and that we have experienced. This statement affirms the revelation of God in Christ while at the same time recognizing the limits of our knowledge and experience ...” (30)

 Perhaps it is because I did not include some other quotes from Zionism Unsettled. After writing the above quote, the author states:
From a logical standpoint, only someone who had entered deeply into the faith and experience of every religion could claim to know from an insider's perspective that God's revelation in Christ is “the most complete revelation.”
In other words, unless you have a deep faith commitment to all other faiths you can't know if Jesus is God's most complete revelation.

And after trying to explain that Augustine and Anselm's insistence that we believe “in order that we might understand,” has some kind of relevance to the question of the uniqueness of Jesus, the authors write:
With Augustine's and Anselm's perspective in mind, the traditional view (that the life, death and resurrection of Christ is “the most complete revelation that God has granted to humankind”) claims more than any individual can know. Claims like this won't attract new members or keep existing members from falling away; in a pluralistic world any attempt to circle the wagons may alienate as many as it attracts.
Don't you see that in one swift move the IPMN has resurrected the old German Christian idea that there could possibly be another revelation of God to set beside the one we know in Jesus Christ? Don't you understand that with those words the Declaration of Barmen is wiped out?

In Barmen we hear the words of Scripture:

I am the way, and the truth, and the life; no one comes to the Father, but by me” (John 14:6). Truly, truly, I say to you, he who does not enter the sheepfold by the door but climbs in by another way, that man is a thief and a robber. … I am the door; if anyone enters by me, he will be saved.“(John 19:1, 9.
And beneath the Scripture in the Confession:

“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.

We reject the false doctrine as though the Church could and would have to acknowledge as a source of its proclamation , apart from and besides this one Word of God, still other events and powers, figures and truths , as God's revelation.” 8.10-8.12

One either believes that Jesus Christ is God's complete revelation or one does not believe it and denies that Jesus Christ is Lord. God is not asking us to play games but to affirm the truth. Christians all over the world are dying because they affirm this truth. Why are we all so weak in our faith that we will not stand up against the Israel/Palestine Mission Network? Why would we listen to anything they have to say when they deny Christ.

The German Christians didn't like Zionism or Jews, and especially not the confession that Jesus Christ is the Only Lord, either. But we must, if nothing else, stand for Christ and love our neighbor.


will spotts said...

I expect what you describe represents a 'common' view within the PC(USA). I expect also that it is far more common among the leadership - e.g. national employees, officials, seminary professors, even seminarians. I'm a little nervous to see how widespread it would be among pastors and even members.

It *is* the view of the secular world - the culturally approved view. So it is the easy view to hold in this time and place.

It also is incompatible with biblical Christianity, but I'm not sure that matters to a great many. And to others, I think this is not shocking at all. It has come to be expected that it will be embraced within the PC(USA). That does not mean, of course, that all or even most Presbyterians embrace it. It does mean that the PC(USA) is itself pluralistic. (Which is to say that people are used to multiple, incompatible faith perspectives co-existing within the organization, and they are used to preference being given to the most non-biblical ones among them.)

Sherry L. Kirton said...

If one looks to numbers, "Claims like this won't attract new members or keep existing members from falling away." If our purpose was to keep the numbers rising by making people comfortable with their lives as they are, then maybe their argument would have some merit. But, if we are merely working from fallen, human logic, then there are philosophers who say we cannot know anything. There's absurdity everywhere.

Jesus on earth is God revealed to us. We can take Him at His word or leave it, but to change what He said about who we are as His church, His people, His body is rude. I'm sure the writer at IPMN would not want their words changed by others, even those who consider themselves admirers.

Will, you are so right.
Viola, we must keep praying that all will see Salvation is necessary, and only from the LORD, or else they abandon their post as leaders, vocal, or otherwise.

Viola Larson said...

Will, my problem is, I can never get used to it. And there are some leaders, even evangelical ones, who say that Christology has not been touched in this denomination but it has-this is a document by an official PCUSA organization and these same leaders seemingly do not care.

Viola Larson said...

Yes, Sherry, I thought that was so trite, after totally destroying the biblical understanding of Christ-God's complete revelation, they think we might be worried about membership loss because we teach the truth of Jesus!

And your prayer is my prayer.

will spotts said...

Viola - I understand. It is not something we should ever get used to, and you're quite right to speak out about it.

For my part, I have trouble believing the denial you describe. I'm 100% sure it's there. It just seems to be more willful collaberation than an honest lack of awareness. There comes a point beyond which remaining unaware of the way things really are happening in the organization is not credible.

For example, I imagine some will say that "since the confessions haven't changed" we're still christologically sound. It seems as if such a person would be waiting for the organization to repeal the Nicene Creed or the Apostles Creed.

As if an organization would do this - when it can keep those creeds while embracing the 'new' Christology those creeds reject. People will deceive themselves into imagining that this perspective represents humility rather than unfaithfulness. Meanwhile, the organization will retain the creeds as 'beloved' artefacts and pretend there is a continuity between them and the trajectory we are on now.