Thursday, April 24, 2014

The PMAB: touching on Christology in the suffering of the saints

The Presbyterian Mission Agency Board met this week. One of their activities was deciding what comments to put on overtures coming to the Presbyterian Church (U.S.A.)’s General Assembly. I saw a comment on what was overture -053 and is now item 08-02.. The Item “A Resolution of Spiritual and Material Support for the persecuted Church. is short and concise:

The Presbytery of Upper Ohio Valley overtures the 221st General Assembly (2014) to do the following:
1.    Ask that all members of the Presbyterian Church (U.S.A.), and all Christians everywhere, be in prayer for these believers and for their persecutors.

2.    Direct the General Assembly Mission Agency either to institute a new special offering to provide financial or other material support to those persecuted for their faith in Jesus Christ, as well as for their families; or, to designate a certain percentage of monies collected in one or more of the already existing special offerings for this purpose.1

1.            A case could be made that such support might come from either the Peacemaking offering or the One Great Hour of Sharing offering or both.

The Church is called to prayer for those who suffer due to their faith. The Presbyterian Mission Agency reminds commissioners and advisory delegates the suffering of the church in the world is not only due to “persecution”, but there are many factors involved. These include geopolitical and economic factors. The General Assembly should consider all the factors that result in and contribute to sectarian violence. Use of the word “persecution” mischaracterizes the nature of the maltreatment of Christians in the world, and in many cases would be unhelpful exaggeration.

 With respect to Special Offerings, research has continually shown during each of the last two reviews of Special Offerings by the Special Offerings Advisory Task Force the church is unwilling and unable to  sustain a fifth special offering.

 The Presbyterian Mission Agency suggests that if the General Assembly desires to address the substance of this overture through Special Offerings, that it consider building upon this new understanding of the “Peace and Global Witness Offering” rather than creating a new offering, or changing the distribution of an existing offering.” (Italics mine.)

The vote was yes, place the comment on the overture.
I am having trouble seeing or thinking straight here. The word ‘monsters’ keeps going through my head although I know I should not use it. Logic does not work against hatefulness; it doesn’t wash away the bloody stain that is so cruelly being ignored.  I could write all night piling up scene after scene of the persecution of Christians around the world. More Christians have died for Christ in the last century than all of Christian history together.

Often,  ChurchandWorld, Editor, Hans Cornelder ,puts up an article of horrible, wretched persecution of Christians around the world. Just today he linked to this: Punjab: clan gang rapes seven year old Christian and kidnaps father to stop him reporting them. On the twenty-first, Cornelder linked to this “Muslim in Uganda Kills Daughter for Leaving Islam.” On April the 11th he linked to this, “Islamic Mob kills Coptic Christian woman in Cairo

An excellent article, Rediscovering the Martyrology by George Weigel of First Things, suggests Christians , for Lent, read a recent book by John Allen. The book The Global War on Christians: Dispatches from the Front Lines of Anti-Christian Persecution (Image), tells more than the Presbyterian Mission Agency Board wants to hear:

 “That witness includes, in his book, a continent-by-continent overview of anti-Christian persecution, a debunking of various myths about anti-Christian persecution, and some counsel on what can be done to support those who are literally putting their lives at risk for love of the Lord and the Gospel. Most poignant for Lenten reading, of course, are those parts of Allen’s book that truly are a contemporary martyrology: his telling of the stories of such martyrs of our time as Shabhaz Bhatti of Pakistan, Ashur Yakub Issa of Iraq, the Tibhirine monks of Algeria, and the pastors and church elders who were crushed to death by a bulldozer in front of their North Korean place of worship.”

There can be no greater shame poured on our denomination than the words placed on the overture 053/08-02 by the Presbyterian Mission Agency Board.  Jesus accused Paul of persecuting him when he persecuted the church. We are touching on Christology in the suffering of the saints. The commissioners to GA221 must ignore the comments of the PMAB or be guilty themselves of denying Christ.


Anonymous said...


Over the years there has been much that you have said that I have objected to, but on this one post I have to say we are completely on the same page. What ARE they THINKING???

Jodie Gallo
Los Angeles, CA

Viola Larson said...

Well, that is amazing Jodie. And yes, what are they thinking?

dhollifield said...

I have read "The Global War..." book and it is a rough go, an assault on both mind and heart, difficult to read except in small bursts. Perhaps if everyone read it, they would begin to understand and care. The PMAB overlooks the most important piece: that persecution of God's people is abuse of our Lord.

Viola Larson said...

Thanks Dhollifield, I have been reading small bursts of another book like that. It is hard going. Yes, it is the abuse of our Lord.

will spotts said...

I suppose it is no surprise, but I find this appalling.