Monday, July 09, 2012

The Presbyterian Church (USA): What Progressive Christianity Looks Like

"They will cleverly teach destructive heresies and even deny the Master who bought them....They delight in deception even as they eat with you in your fellowship meals.  They commit adultery with their eyes, and their desire for sin is never satisfied.  They lure unstable people into sin, and they are well trained in greed....They have wandered off the right road and followed the footsteps of Balaam son of Beor..."   2 Peter 2:1, 13-15

Introduction.  It appears that the Presbyterian Church (USA) is positioning itself to become the Progressive Church of America by adopting the entire progressive agenda, hook, line and sinker.  This includes the homosexual agenda, the environmentalist agenda, the Open Society agenda (George Soros), and the acknowledgment that other religions are legitimate pathways to God.  Frankly, PC(USA) appears to be more like the Church of Oprah Winfrey rather than a Church based on the Word of God.

What follows are several of the topics that the 220th General Assembly of the Presbyterian Church, USA, addressed this summer.  As a Christian having grown up in the Presbyterian Church, I find the topics and the PC(USA) responses to them alarming.

(1) Boycott of Israeli products from the Occupied Palestinian Territories.  "After three failed attempts to bring divestment back to the table, commissioners to the 220th General Assembly voted with a 71% majority to boycott “all Israeli products coming from the occupied Palestinian Territories....” One of the motions considered by the Assembly was the use of the word "apartheid" to describe the condition of Palestinians at the hands of Israelis....  The Assembly agreed and voted with a 72% majority to reject the motion."  (link)
"He [Bonhoeffer] had become convinced that a church that was not willing to stand up for the Jews in its midst was not the real church of Jesus Christ."  Bonhoeffer: Pastor, Martyr, Prophet, Spy (Eric Metaxas and Timothy J. Keller) (Bonhoeffer was a Christian pastor during the time of Nazi Germany.)
"I will make you a great nation.  I will bless those who bless you and curse those who treat you with contempt.  All the families on earth will be blessed through you." Genesis 12:2-3
(2) "New Arab democracies doing in a few years what it took the U.S. over 200 to do."  They willingly listened to Rami Khouri, director of the Issam Fares Institute for Public Policy and International Affairs at the American University in Beirut, spout hogwash like:
  • The United States and Israel need to understand and appreciate the change taking place this year across the Arab world because “you have for the first time nations with popular legitimacy.”  
  • He pointed to the birth of the United States, followed almost 100 years later by the Civil War, later still by women’s rights, and now by issues of immigration, gender issues and sexual orientation. “You’re still debating these issues,” Khouri said. “They [the new Arab democracies] are debating these issues in one year.” (link)
We should be skeptical of the quality of the freedoms that result from these new Arab democracies, since they are influenced by the Islamic ideology that requires the implementation of shariah law, and because many of their leaders, like the President of Egypt, are members of the Muslim Brotherhood.  The freedoms of fellow Christians in those nations will most certainly be in jeopardy, as will the lives of the Jewish people in neighboring Israel.
" may kill the idol worshippers when you encounter them, punish them, and resist every move they make." --Sura 9:5 of the Quran
"You shall fight them, for GOD will punish them at your hands, humiliate them, grant you victory over them..." --Sura 9:14 of the Quran
"As for those who reject our revelations, and are too arrogant to uphold them, they have incurred Hell, wherein they abide forever.  Who is more evil than those who invent lies about GOD, or reject His revelations?  These will get their share, in accordance with the scripture, then, when our messengers come to terminate their lives..." --Sura 7:36-37 of the Quran
"God is our objective; the Quran is our constitution, the Prophet is our leader; Jihad is our way; and death for the sake of God is the highest of our aspirations."--Motto of the Muslim Brotherhood
(3) Rejected the return to the 'fidelity and chastity' language to the ordination standards.  In 2010 PC(USA) removed the language that required pastors to be either chaste or in a faithful marriage between a man and woman.  As a result, homosexuals are now permitted to hold leadership positions in the church. (link)
"Do not practice homosexuality, having sex with another man as with a woman.  It is a detestable sin."  --Leviticus 18:22
"Don't you realize that those who do wrong will not inherit the Kingdom of God?  Don't fool yourselves.  Those who indulge in sexual sin, or who worship idols, or commit adultery, or are male prostitutes, or practice homosexuality, or are thieves, or greedy people, or drunkards, or are abusive, or cheat people--none of these will inherit the Kingdom of God....  You say, "I am allowed to do anything"--but not everything is good for you....  But you can't say that our bodies were made for sexual immorality.  They were made for the Lord..."  --1 Corinthians 6:9-10, 12-13
(4) Redefining marriage.  The Assembly rejected the idea of affirming that the definition of marriage is "a civil contract between a woman and a man" and instead called for a two-year study in the matter.  (link)  Two proposals during the General Assembly:
  • Change the definition of marriage from between a woman and a man to between two people...The proposal to change the definition of marriage passed 28-24, with commissioners on both sides expressing fear about being unfaithful to God’s call.  (Against All Enemies note: Are you more concerned about obeying God or pleasing Man?)
  • Call for a “season of serious study and discernment” about the meaning of Christian marriage. (link)
"But because there is so much sexual immorality, each man should have his own wife, and each woman should have her own husband."  -- 1 Corinthians 7:2

"As the Scriptures say, "A man leaves his father and mother and is joined to his wife, and the two are united into one."  This is a great mystery, but it is an illustration of the way Christ and the church are one."  --Ephesians 5:31-32

(5) Approving multiple actions in regard to immigrants.  PC(USA) may have adopted the ideology of multiculturalism and an Open Society where there are no national borders, and may also be asking its members to ignore current immigration laws.  Frankly, how illegal immigrants are dealt with on a personal level needs to be left up to each parishioner's conscience and not dictated from on high.
  • Affirming the scriptural call to provide hospitality to and justice for immigrants, regardless of status
  • Continuing to advocate on behalf of comprehensive immigration reform
  • Actively advocating for legislation such as the DREAM Act (Development, Relief and Education for Alien Minors) that offers hope for young immigrants by providing a pathway to citizenship
  • Directing the PC(USA)’s Office of Public Witness to make immigration reform one of the top policy issues in its work
  • Urging the U.S. government to end policies such as Secure Communities, a program of the Department of Homeland Security, because of concern that the program has led to racial profiling, lack of due process and violations of human rights related to the arrest and detention of immigrants
  • Encouraging presbyteries to create cross-cultural ministry teams and immigration issues task forces
  • Calling on congregations to build relationships with immigrants and refugees and to learn about the gifts they have to offer
  • Incorporating stories from churches engaged in ministry with immigrants into times of worship and sharing at next year’s Big Tent event and at the 221st General Assembly (2014) (link to article)
(6) Steering away from the one true path; worship of the planet.  The following "to do" list was recommended by a speaker at a "Voices of Sophia" breakfast.  The points sound very much like New Age philosophies that are fundamentally at odds with the Christian faith.
  • the need to create holistic, sacred space
  • giving attention to inclusive, expansive language for God
  • speaking truth to power about warmongering, sable-rattling, and more
  • recognizing the earth as an endangered species
  • building coalitions with other faith communities (link to article)
Why are we building coalitions with other faith communities when the Church should be spreading the Good News to them?  This sounds like the legitimization of other faiths as pathways to God.
"I am the way and the truth and the life. No one comes to the Father except through me."  --John 14:6
(7) Embraced the ideology of environmentalism (socialism).  Remember F.A. Hayek said in "The Road to Serfdom" that "...this is linked directly to the environmentalist agenda to only produce that which we need...using the threat to the environment as the rationale for controlling production..." (p. 84).  PC(USA) fails to understand that by supporting socialist goals such as those established by environmentalists, the end state will be tyranny and a limitation on religious freedoms to ensure the power of the state is unchallenged.  What follows demonstrates some of the discussion about the matter during the General Assembly.
Economic growth “has taken on a God-like identity,” Kovacs said, “and fossil fuels have become the economic temple of global commerce. This is perilous to the well-being of humanity, especially the impoverished.”
The World Christian Student Federation (WCSF), composed of Christian student groups from around the world, has been active in a program of the World Council of Churches called AGAPE, which is promoting “an alternative global development policy that integrates concerns for poverty, wealth and ecology.” Regional gatherings around the world over the last four years culminated last month in a Global Economic Forum on Poverty, Wealth and Ecology. 
“We are addicted to economic models that are the antithesis of God’s justice, which is not a political system or a social gospel but THE gospel―the good news for the hungry is a piece of bread.” (link)
Another speaker, Rev. J. Herbert Nelson, espoused more global socialist policies:
Nelson listed other examples of violence, including the “economic violence in our nation, where two classes are emerging—one rich and the other poor.” Free trade agreements, because they are not about “fair trade,” have contributed to violence and poverty in developing nations. Nations such as Iran and the United States are in a “race to see who can take out the other.” (link)
(8) Retained PC(USA) Property Clause.  This ruling prevents a local congregation from owning their own property, keeping it in the hands of the PC(USA) denomination as a whole.  This is most likely a move to prevent congregations from seceding from PC(USA). (link)

(9) Ruled on social(ist) issues. (link)
  • Calling for an end to Poverty Zone Development and a resolution on Workers’ Rights and Income Equality
  • Supporting the work of the Environmental Protection Agency (EPA)
  • A set of principles and actions called World of Hurt, Word of Life: “Renewing God’s Communion in the Work of Economic Reconstruction”
  • A Resolution on Racism, Incarceration and Restoration
  • Commending the 2011-2012 Horizons Bible Study and the Accra Confession
  • Plans to update the Safe Child Policy in the PC(USA)
  • Supporting justice for survivors of sexual abuse
  • A Statement on housing and the mortgage crisis
  • Appointing two seasons of prayer to seek the will of God in this year’s election
  • A Statement of concern about prolonged solitary confinement
  • Advocating for trade reform and accountability
"I believe that the church's main power comes through the influence of chiefly their congregations.  If the Word is not taught properly, then it sets itself up for failure when assailed by challenges to the beliefs of the faith."  Bonhoeffer: Pastor, Martyr, Prophet, Spy (Eric Metaxas and Timothy J. Keller)
"We reject the false doctrine, as though the Church in human arrogance could place the Word and work of the Lord in the service of any arbitrarily chosen desires, purposes, and plans." Bonhoeffer: Pastor, Martyr, Prophet, Spy (Eric Metaxas and Timothy J. Keller)
I have not been to seminary and am therefore not a pastor, but I do possess the capacity to read.  In 1536, William Tyndale sacrificed his life to ensure that the people of Britain had access to an English translation of the Bible.  He did so to prevent the Church of England from possessing the sole ability to interpret the Bible and relate it to the people based on what the Church of England wanted the people to believe.

Some 400 years later we are fortunate to still be able to read the Bible in English, but are being told by churches like PC(USA) that our interpretations are wrong.  Instead, we are being fed interpretations that fit an earthly agenda.  The Presbyterian Church, USA, is clearly becoming of the world, as opposed to being in it.  The leadership of PC(USA) fits the Bible to the world, as opposed to making the world fit to the Bible.

What business does the Church have meddling in all these topics covered during this year's General Assembly?  Should they not be more concerned about ministering to their flocks instead of establishing a social platform?  The behavior of PC(USA) appears more like that of a progressive, secular political party rather than that of a church concerned first and foremost with following Christ.

Bottom line is this: PC(USA) needs to get back to basics--the Word of God--or witness more of the faithful walking away.

(From 2010 to 2011, the total membership of PC(USA) declined by 63,804 members.--article link)

Disclaimer: These opinions are solely my own, and do not reflect the opinions or official positions of any United States Government agency, organization or department.

1 comment:

  1. PCUSA is a church that reaches out to the "freaks" of society, hoping that the gift of God's Grace will heal the "freaks". Because they accept "freaks" into their congregations, they fight constantly with the idea that practicing "freaks" can keep their non-Christian "freakish" ideas at bay. Unfortunately, "freaks" are "freaks", and feel that they have the right to share their non-Christian ideas with Christians. Every few years, the doctrine of the PCUSA swings to the "dark side", and then they correct the doctrine in the next cycle. Unfortunately, this conservative Presbyterian abides the periods of "freakishness" because we know that they will correct... and that "freaks" will stay during both periods, and eventually get the "message" and change their ways.