I was deeply disappointed, but hardly surprised.
Let’s be clear: not all Presbyterians agree with this decision. There are orthodox evangelical Presbyterian churches, leaders, and individuals out there who truly love Christ, love His Word, and love both Israel and the Palestinians.
But PCUSA has completely lost its way. Many of its members are not only theologically liberal, they are engaged is full-blown apostasy. The majority PCUSA pastors and members, according to the denomination’s own data, completely deny the divinity of Jesus Christ. They completely reject the teachings of the Bible on numerous issues. Is it really surprising, then, that so many of its members do not have a Biblical understanding of how to love Israel and her Arab neighbors?
Let’s get back to the divestment issue in a moment. The apostasy issue is far more important, so let’s consider it first.
THE APOSTASY ISSUE
The Lord Jesus Christ warned that in the last days before His return, many who claimed to be His followers but really weren’t would fall away from the faith and many teachers inside the church would teach heresy. “At that time many will fall away and will betray one another and hate one another,” He warned. “Many false prophets will arise and will mislead many. Because lawlessness is increased, most people’s love will grow cold. But the one who endures to the end, he will be saved.” (Matthew 24:10-13)
The Apostle Paul also warned that in the last days many inside the church would turn away from the faith. “I solemnly charge you in the presence of God and of Christ Jesus, who is to judge the living and the dead, and by His appearing and His kingdom: preach the word; be ready in season and out of season; reprove, rebuke, exhort, with great patience and instruction,” the apostle wrote to his disciple, Timothy, who was the pastor in Ephesus. “For the time will come when they will not endure sound doctrine; but wanting to have their ears tickled, they will accumulate for themselves teachers in accordance to their own desires, and will turn away their ears from the truth and will turn aside to myths.” (2 Timothy 4:1-4)
This is exactly what is happening inside the PCUSA denomination. Consider these examples:
In 2010, the PCUSA released a survey that only 39% of its members agreed or strongly agreed that “only followers of Jesus Christ can be saved.”
In 2010, the same PCUSA survey found that only 35% of its pastors agreed or strongly agreed that Jesus Christ is the only way of salvation.
In 2013, the PCUSA rejected the popular hymn, “In Christ Alone,” from its hymn book because it so deeply disagreed with the lyric’s theology.
In 2014, the PCUSA General Assembly voted to approve of homosexual marriages.
In 2011, the PCUSA General Assembly voted to approve people in homosexual relationships to be ordained as pastors, elders and deacons.
As far back as 1970, the PCUSA General Assembly declared that abortions were morally permissible and “should not be restricted by law.”
What we are seeing inside PCUSA is a fulfillment of Bible prophecy. It is tragic, but at least the Lord warned us ahead of time that things like this would happen.
What’s interesting is that the further PCUSA gets from Biblical orthodoxy, the more its members — and whole congregations — are leaving the denomination.
In 1965, the denomination boasted 4.25 million members, but by 2013 that number had declined to 1.84 million.
In 2012 alone, the denomination lost 102,000 members.
In 2012, the denomination lost 196 congregations — 110 that left, and 86 that dissolved.
Even large congregations are leaving. Religion News Service reported earlier this year that “members of one of the largest congregations in the Presbyterian Church (USA) have voted to leave the denomination, despite facing an $8.89 million cost for leaving. Menlo Park Presbyterian is based in the San Francisco Bay area and led by well-known author and pastor John Ortberg. It is the ninth-largest PCUSA church, with about 4,000 members, including former Secretary of State Condoleezza Rice. The motion to leave the PCUSA was approved by 93 percent of the church’s members who voted, with 2,024 ballots in favor of the motion and 158 ballots opposed, according to a letter posted by Ortberg. Menlo Park determined that to keep its property and leave the denomination would cost $8.89 million, based on a summary for dismissal agreement. ‘Surprisingly, there are many PC(USA)-ordained pastors who do not believe, for example, in the deity of Christ or in salvation through faith in Christ,’ the rationale states, citing a 2011 PCUSA survey.’”
Let us must pray for Presbyterians to leave PCUSA and seek out orthodox evangelical church congregations that are teaching sound doctrine and preaching the true Gospel of salvation through Christ alone.
“If you are a Jesus-loving, Bible-based member of the Presbyterian Church (U.S.A.), unless God has called you to stand as a prophetic voice of rebuke to the denomination, or unless your ministry commitments to individuals make it impossible for you to leave, now is the time to make your exit,” writes Dr. Michael Brown. “The PCUSA has made its rejection of the Word of God official….The sad truth is that these faithful Presbyterians are not so much leaving their church as their church has left them.”
Well put. This is just one more reason we need to pray and fast for the Lord to bring a sweeping revival to all churches and denominations in America, and a Third Great Awakening to the nation at large.
THE DIVESTMENT ISSUE
Now, let’s get back to the divestment issue.
PCUSA leaders say they are taking a stand against what they call Israel’s “occupation” of territory to which they argue Israel no legal, moral or Biblical right. Some PC USA leaders, and some advising the church leadership, accuse Israel of waging a policy of “apartheid” against the Palestinian people.
Israel is “a beacon of civilization and moderation” that “protects Christians” while so many “Christians are persecuted throughout the Middle East,” Netanyahu said, while many Islamic countries are riddled “by religious hatred, by savagery of unimaginable proportions.”
“You know, I would suggest to this Presbyterian organization to fly to the Middle East, come and see Israel for the embattled democracy that it is, and then take a bus tour, go to Libya, go to Syria, go to Iraq, see the difference,” Netanyahu added, and then advised them to “first make sure it’s an armor-plated bus, and second, don’t say that you’re Christian.”
Former CIA Director James Woolsey, a Presbyterian, has described the PC USA leadership as “anti-Semitic” for its unfair and biased positions against the Jewish State.
Asked on the NBC-TV interview program if he was “troubled” by the Presbyterian Church USA’s move on Friday, when it voted to withdraw its $21 million in investments from Caterpillar, Motorola and Hewlett-Packard, Netanyahu said, “It should trouble all people of conscience and morality because it’s so disgraceful.”
Seeming to address his remarks to American Christians, he went on to hold up Israel as “a beacon of civilization and moderation” that “protects Christians – Christians are persecuted throughout the Middle East,” and contrasted it to the rest of Middle East, which he characterized as being riddled “by religious hatred, by savagery of unimaginable proportions.”
He continued, “You know, I would suggest to this Presbyterian organization to fly to the Middle East, come and see Israel for the embattled democracy that it is, and then take a bus tour, go to Libya, go to Syria, go to Iraq, see the difference.” Then he advised them to “first make sure it’s an armor-plated bus, and second, don’t say that you’re Christian.”
“The Presbyterian Church (U.S.A.) on Friday became the most prominent religious group in the United States to endorse divestment as a protest against Israeli policies toward Palestinians, voting to sell church stock in three companies whose products Israel uses in the occupied territories,” reported the Associated Press. “The General Assembly voted by a razor-thin margin — 310-303 — to sell stock in Caterpillar, Hewlett-Packard and Motorola Solutions. Two years ago, the General Assembly rejected a similar divestment proposal by two votes.”
“The Presbyterian Church (U.S.A.) on Friday became the most prominent religious group in the United States to endorse divestment as a protest against Israeli policies toward Palestinians, voting to sell church stock in three companies whose products Israel uses in the occupied territories,” reported the Associated Press . “The General Assembly voted by a razor-thin margin — 310-303 — to sell stock in Caterpillar, Hewlett-Packard and Motorola Solutions. Two years ago, the General Assembly rejected a similar divestment proposal by two votes.”
The American Jewish Committee, a policy and advocacy group based in New York, said the vote was “driven by hatred of Israel.” But Heath Rada, moderator for the church meeting, said immediately after the vote that “in no way is this a reflection of our lack of love for our Jewish brothers and sisters.”
The decision is expected to reverberate well beyond the church. It comes amid discouragement over failed peace talks that have left activists desperate for some way to affect change and as the broader movement known as BDS — or boycott, divestment and sanctions against Israel — has gained some momentum in the U.S., Israel’s closest and most important ally.
Presbyterians who advocated for divestment insisted their action was not part of the broader boycott movement. Israeli officials, along with many American Jewish groups and their supporters, have denounced the campaign as an attempt to delegitimize the Jewish state. In a separate vote, the assembly also voted to re-examine its historic support for a two-state solution.
The top Presbyterian legislative body has been considering divestment for a decade. Representatives of the Presbyterian socially responsible investment arm told the national meeting in Detroit that their efforts to lobby the three companies for change had failed. Carol Hylkema of the Israel/Palestine Mission Network, a Presbyterian group that advocates for Palestinians and spearheaded the drive for divestment, said their action was modeled on the divestment movement to end apartheid in South Africa.
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