Saturday, February 1, 2014

The Presbyterian Church (U.S.A.) and my complaint ...

I just went out to my first day of a February garden. I needed the sunshine—needed to feel the softness of the wood sorrel as I pulled it away from tiny parsley and leek plants. I picked some very ripe lemons and a few snap peas. I brought them in and sat down here at my computer to complain—I’m not sure who I'm complaining to—God, The Presbyterian Church (U.S.A.), no one in particular.

It's just that I never thought for a moment that I would belong to an organization that would so badly attack the people who gave us our holy book, the Bible. Well, of course, it is God's book, his word, but he called and used the Jewish people to write the Hebrew part of our Holy Scriptures. And God used Jewish converts to our Lord Jesus Christ to write the New Testament.

Zionism, it has been a safety net for the Jewish people. It matters not whether it is cultural Zionism or political Zionism: it is the shell around the fruit of their culture and the work of their political groanings. I say groanings because like all new democracies they are still in the process of working out the process of liberty and equality. But to see my denomination stand behind a document, Zionism Unsettled, that calls Zionism, “a system of discrimination and exclusion,” is more than I can stand.

My denomination, the Presbyterian Church (U.S.A.), has allowed a Palestinian pastor who is suppose to be a Christian, but undoubtedly isn't, to write in one of our denominational booklets that Zionism's inspiration has been drawn “from those portions [of the Bible] that betray a narrow and exclusive concept of a tribal god.” Truly we have aligned with the German Christians of Nazi-times because this is what they believed and said. They do not care for God's word and they do not care for the Jewish people. They have insulted both. And I find myself weeping in places where I never intended to cry.

What does one do when they find themselves weeping in the middle of the aisle in, of all things, the grocery store. What does one do when they find themselves privately saying goodbye to a denomination they have been a part of for over twenty years. Oh, not goodbye in the sense of I won't be here anymore—but in the sense of, my heart is no longer here. My face is turned a different direction and it is hard to keep traveling back over the roads that have gone from rocky to granite.


Greg Scandlen said...

I am so sorry for your pain, Viola. My connection to the PCUSA was much more tenuous than yours and I too felt that pain and frustration.

I left for three reasons --
1. I could no longer be associated with such an organization, and I was ashamed that I was counted as one of the 2 million or so people it claimed to represent.
2. It was diminishing the joy of knowing Jesus, and that is unacceptable. The joy I find in Christ is the most important thing in my life today. I will not allow anything to sully it.
3. I could not share that joy with others without them questioning all the political positions of the PCUSA before listening to my witness.

Since I left I feel far happier and more fulfilled. My new church does not put politics before Scripture and it invests far more in missions than my old PCUSA church ever did. It is a former UCC church, devoted to Reformation theology, and a member of the Evangelical Association, not as a denomination but as a trade association.

I pray constantly that your witness will bear fruit and that the Lord will bless you forever.

Greg Scandlen
Waynesboro, PA

Anonymous said...

"My heart is no longer there."

Viola, that so profoundly expresses the feeling that so many of us have, for so many reasons.

I am glad you are a fellow pilgrim on this journey!

Bless you,

John Erthein
DeFuniak Springs, FL

will spotts said...

Viola - I think you sum up what many of us feel and have felt. It is painful and frustrating and lonesome and profoundly sad.

To be frank, I'm at a loss for an answer. But I do know one thing: they don't have the final word. God is in control of all of it.

Viola Larson said...

Greg, John & Will,

Thank you for your words- I think it was Hans' linking to the article on Zionism Unsettled on the Electronic Intifada that got to me, not his linking but seeing the PCUSA connected to such a despicable and radically socialist site over the issue of Zionism. The PCUSA has to do with everyone but those who love Jesus above all else.

Chas Jay said...

You summed up so perfectly how many have felt. My heart aches so greatly for you and the many other people that have spent years in the PCUSA and are going through what you best articulated.
I thought of Revelation 21:1-4 when I first read this post.

1And I saw a new heaven and a new earth: for the first heaven and the first earth were passed away; and there was no more sea. 2And I John saw the holy city, new Jerusalem, coming down from God out of heaven, prepared as a bride adorned for her husband. 3And I heard a great voice out of heaven saying, Behold, the tabernacle of God is with men, and he will dwell with them, and they shall be his people, and God himself shall be with them, and be their God. 4And God shall wipe away all tears from their eyes; and there shall be no more death, neither sorrow, nor crying, neither shall there be any more pain: for the former things are passed away.

Viola Larson said...

Chas Jay,
I finally have gotten around to removing your extra comment although I think what you said is nice enough to say it two times. Your choice of verses fairly well fits all of our need.