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July 03, 2010

Presby Establishment Doubles Down on Middle East Study Committee Report

Given the distorted history and theology evident in the report issued by the Presbyterian Church (USA)’s Middle East Study Committee (MESC) in March, it would seem reasonable that Presbyterian staffers and elected officials would engage in some soul-searching prior to the denomination’s General Assembly (which began today) where the report will be debated and possibly affirmed.

Nope.

Instead of admitting the report omits crucial facts of history, Presbyterian leaders and peace activists have tried to make it appear that the only way the PC(USA) can demonstrate its commitment to peace in the Middle East and for the well-being of the Palestinian people is if the General Assembly affirms the report, as if good intentions somehow make it unnecessary for Presbyterians to tell the story of the Arab-Israeli conflict with a modicum of integrity.

This strategy was clearly evident in a letter issued to the General Assembly by current PC(USA) Moderator Rev. Bruce Reyes-Chow and more than a dozen former moderators of the church on June 15. 2010.

In their letter, the moderators call on the General Assembly to “support and vote in favor” of the MESC report, which among other things endorses the Kairos Document written by Palestinian Christian leaders in late 2009, a document which has been condemned by the Central Conference of American Rabbis (CCAR) as anti-Semitic and supersessionist.

Oops!

In response to the concerns over the Kairos Document, the moderators state the MESC report "lifts up the Kairos document for study - not approval - so that a collaborative Palestinian Christian voice can be heard. The study team report affirms the emphases in the Kairos document on non-violence and reconciliation and hope.”

Compare the moderator’s description with the actual text of the MESC report, which calls on the General Assembly to approve a recommendation that

Endorses the Kairos Palestine document (“A Moment of Truth”) in its emphasis on hope for liberation, non-violence, love of enemy, and reconciliation; lifts the document up for study and discussion by Presbyterians; and directs the creation of a study guide for the document through the appropriate channel of the General Assembly Mission Council.

How is that not an endorsement of the Kairos Document? Only the most obtuse parsers of the text can deny that by calling on the General Assembly to endorse the Kairos document, the MESC is doing the same thing. Did the moderators read the MESC report? Did they read the letter they signed?

The moderators’ efforts to rehabilitate the MESC report also includes a defense of its theological analysis, which imposes demands on Jews because of their connections to the Hebrew Scriptures but does not make similar demands on Muslims in the Middle East.

The moderators write “The biblical and theological section clearly repudiates any hint of Christian Zionism or supercessionism (sic). What it does do is tie responsibilities for justice, human rights and hospitality to the biblical understanding of land rights.”

With this passage, the moderators are mimicking the report itself, which uses scripture to suggest that the Jewish claim to land is handicapped by obligations that apply to no other state. What would happen if one applied a “biblical understanding of land rights” to say, Germany or the United States?

What the MESC report tried to do is to dress up discriminatory and unreasonable expectations of Israel with scripture and theology to justify these expectations.

And the PC(USA)‘s moderators are assisting in this process.

The willingness of the moderators to sign such a letter indicates that the PC(USA)‘s establishment is getting behind the Middle East Study Committee Report in a big way.

They are doubling down.

One need only look at what happened to the United Church of Christ in the aftermath of its 2005 General Synod to see where the PC(USA) is headed if this doubling-down process continues. The one-sided “Economic Leverage” and “Tear Down the Wall” resolutions approved at this synod were not the prophetic trophies that UCC leaders and peace activists had hoped they would be.

Instead of serving as ringing demonstration of the UCC’s status as a trailblazing peacemaking denomination, these statements became an albatross that hung around the church’s neck for the next two years.

And it wasn’t just the one-sided nature of the resolutions that harmed the church’s credibility. It was the events that took place after the 2005 General Synod. Israel withdrew from the Gaza Strip and things got worse with Hamas’ kidnapping of Gilad Shalit and the rocket attacks from Gaza Strip and Lebanon. In sum, the UCC placed a bet on Hamas behaving responsibly and lost. Delegates may have not known what they were doing when they placed the bet, but that’s what they did.

Consequently, the mood was somber and more reflective at the UCC’s 2007 General Synod. The angry self-righteous certitude that manifested itself at the 2005 General Synod was gone.

The delegates knew something was not right and as a result, they passed a resolution that stated in effect that maybe there were some things the denomination hadn’t taken into account in its 2005 assessment of the Arab-Israeli conflict. The only way they could remove the albatross from their church’s neck was to eat crow.

The PC(USA)‘s 2012 General Assembly may need to do the same thing, but on a much grander scale.

Compared to the resolutions passed at the UCC‘s 2005 General Synod, the report before the PC(USA)‘s current General Assembly is not an albatross, it is a millstone.

Posted by dvz at July 3, 2010 11:43 PM

Comments

It is because of idiocy such as this from the leaders of PCUSA that the church has been hemorraging members since the mid-sixties. It's nothing but a nest of radical leftists. Abandon hope, all ye who enter here - or there, as the case may be.

Posted by: unclebryan [TypeKey Profile Page] at July 4, 2010 02:37 AM

Very convenient of the PC to ignore the fact that the Bible is also a record of Jewish history in the land of Israel.

DVZ Responds: Thanks for your comment. It's becoming inreasingly evident that the MESC report does not represent the denomination as a whole.

Posted by: ProfMiao at July 4, 2010 08:14 AM

Simply put. Wolves in sheeps clothing that have infiltrated the church. God has something really special in store for them. And, it's not very PC.

Posted by: Tony Gambarp at July 4, 2010 12:42 PM

The weasel words in the MESC report are incredible.

Endorses the Kairos Palestine document (“A Moment of Truth”) in its emphasis on hope for liberation, non-violence, love of enemy, and reconciliation; lifts the document up for study and discussion by Presbyterians; and directs the creation of a study guide for the document through the appropriate channel of the General Assembly Mission Council.
Whose liberation, and from what? Who is supposed to love which enemy—presumably here it's Israel that's supposed to embrace the Palestinian Arabs and their bogus, ahistoric propaganda narrative. Do the report and Kairos actually call on Palestinian Arabs to love Israel and the Israelis? Does the report even remotely suggest that Palestinian Arabs should be reconciled to the fact of Israel as a Jewish state, there by right, as a matter of historic jusice, or is the onus again all on the Israelis to "make difficult choices for peace," as if that hadn't already been tried a few times. Where is the suggestion that the proposed study guide call for a critical reading of Kairos and the inclusion of other sources?

Posted by: Nappy-headed Ho' at July 4, 2010 04:02 PM

PCUSA has by this sort of unbiblical stance in current affairs, acquired mostly a membership of Non-believing, Anti - Bible radicals who mouth christianity but are really not Christians.

So they don't believe in Israel's right to their land? What else is new? Most members of the PCUSA do not believe in the existence and deity of Christ - the basic tenets of the Christian faith. How then would anyone expect them not to be Politically Correct? Why is anyone surprised at their support for some strangely twisted, Revisionist Findings and Document like the MESC Report?

As this writer prophetically pointed out, like the 2005 UCC Gen. Synod, and its aftermath events, this too shall be the lead that would finally sink the pretensions and activism of the agnostics within the PCUSA. Hopefully, it will truly expose them for who they are, and on whose side they truly are.

Obviously, we true Bible - Believing Christians are unshakable in our belief in Israel's right to their land, and their historical and biblical ownership of the land for many centuries, till date. Any other version is pure revisionism of history.

No wonder why the PCUSA is dying off as a denomination!

Posted by: Eva at July 9, 2010 04:29 AM

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