Maintaining the walls of a ravaged city?
The Layman.org has just posted an article by Parker T. Williamson, relating a summary of a presentation given by the Witherspoon Society at the most recent gathering of the General Assembly (the highest governing body of the PCUSA). This article indicates a clear sign that many in the leadership of the PCUSA are apostate. The rejection of core theological doctrine of Christianity separates a body from the greater church. Parker Williamson reports the following:
Christ’s death on the cross has no place in authentic Christianity said Rita
Nakashima Brock, a featured speaker at the Witherspoon Society’s pre-General
Assembly gathering. Brock said that when church leaders in the 10th century began celebrating bread and wine communion, they instituted “ritualized murder, sacred murder … salvation that is achieved by violence.” Brock teaches theology in Berkley, Calif. Brock was welcomed to the platform by Eugene T’Selle, a professor at Vanderbuilt Divinity School and founding leader of the Witherspoon Society. Appealing largely to Presbyterian Church (USA) seminarians and academics, the Witherspoon Society lobbies denominational assemblies on behalf of “progressive theology.” Acclaimed by the Society’s president Jane Hanna, as “the very model of an engaged theologian,” Brock has been an outspoken opponent of the Iraq war and has organized demonstrations outside President George W. Bush’s Texas ranch. According to Brock, a Re-Imagining God speaker who has been featured at several Presbyterian Church (USA) sponsored events, the idea of the atonement was a concoction of male church leaders to justify violence. According to Brock’s history, Jesus’ death as sacrifice for our sins was not a part of the early church’s teaching. Brock said that the early church was a here and now, “life affirming” community. It did not believe in a paradise that one enters upon death, but a paradise that one enters at the time of baptism. Paradise happens, said Brock, when we wake up to the
presence of “The Spirit” in all of life and celebrate it. The early form of what the church now calls the eucharist was a celebration of life, not death, said Brock. Pointing to a painting of the last supper that she said was “very early,” Brock noted the presence of seven loaves on the table. The church was celebrating blessings, she said. It did not “go down the imperial toilet” until centuries later when it turned the feast into a ritual of sacrifice. Brock said that early church leaders celebrated creating, focusing primarily on the first three chapters of Genesis. The world, she said, is already a paradise, a place where humans may thrive. Brock believes that when a person understands what paradise really means, one is given power “to work for justice and to actualize the community of God in the world.” Why did male church leaders in the 10th century introduce the ideas of sin, guilt and the need for atonement? According to Brock, they did it in order to exercise power over people. Making people feel guilty and then offering them a release from that guilt is a form of
manipulation and control, she said. The masses were duped into depending on
church leaders and their sacrificial Jesus rituals.”Another Christianity is possible,” said Brock. “We already live on holy ground. It does not belong to any individual, not even to God … We actualize it when struggling for justice in community.”
Not only does Brock deny the substitutionary atonement of Jesus Christ, she utterly rejects it, making the claim that this doctrine was created by a male dominated church. There is an underlying assumption that the numerous Biblical texts that present the substitutionary atonement are also a creation by the later church, denying the authority of the Scriptures. In this short report, we have denials of many core essentials of the Christian faith (the atonement, a literal heaven and hell, the historicity and apostolic authority of Scripture, etc.). That such a speaker would be given a place of honor at such an important occasion gives clear indication that this is the position of many of these denominational leaders.
This type of presentation should come as no surprise by anyone familiar with the history and current position of the PCUSA. This is a clear and unambiguous sign that many denominational leaders have abandoned all pretenses to orthodox Christianity. Those congregations and individuals who choose to support this kind of heresy do so under the risk of separating themselves from Christ’s church, because they support a denial of Jesus Christ and the Holy Spirit inspired scriptures (e.g. rejection of the Holy Spirit).
I was at a meeting of one of the renewal groups of this denomination where the discussion surrounded the topic of the appropriate time to leave a denomination. One leader stated that the only appropriate time to leave is when a denomination denies the Lordship of Jesus Christ, and he went on to state that as long as the constitution of a denomination (e.g. the Book of Order) upheld Christ’s Lordship it was wrong to leave. I contend something entirely different. I believe that what a denomination stands for is not to be found in its constitution, but rather in its defense of that constitution. An analogy would be that of the place of ancient city walls. The walls were the defense lines of a city, but those walls could only defend the city as long as they were defended by people willing to sacrifice their lives in its defense. So too, a constitution is only as good as far as it is upheld through discipline. I propose that the renewal groups in the PCUSA that work to defend the constitution are merely maintaining the walls of a city that has long ago been defeated and ravaged. The enemy has gotten a strong foothold in the city, and many of us have accepted the enemy as a sister or brother.
These kinds of speeches, denying central tenets of the Christian faith, are promulgated throughout the denomination by ordained leaders. Yet, there is no defense of the walls, through discipline. No one is censured or stripped of their ordination because they deny the atoning death of Jesus Christ. No one is censured or stripped of their credentials because they deny the literal physical bodily resurrection of Jesus Christ. Not one individual has been censured for denying the total depravity of humanity (rather emphasizing the goodness of humans) as this speaker does. She states that “paradise happens when we wake up to the presence of “the Spirit” in all of life and celebrate it”. This is simply theological liberalism and new age religion, with a veneer of Christian language. The Holy Spirit is at work convicting the elect of their sins, calling them to repentance, and to trusting in Jesus Christ and the work of the cross and is not to be found in “all of life”. Yet, this kind of speech is promoted and celebrated as representative of Presbyterianism. Another article indicates that the newly elected moderator believes that homosexuality is not sinful and is to be celebrated, while at another event a self-identified homosexual couple celebrate the ability to be married in California. Here is an issue that cannot be any clearer in the scriptures, and yet is denied by denominational leaders at every level, including the highest positions. The walls still exist, though they are battered, but there are fewer and fewer people to guard them. In fact, many who have been put in the position of defending those walls, are the actual ones who are battering them.
When will God’s people in the PCUSA wake up to the reality that they only exist within a shadow of a Christian church? Where is the outcry? Where is the discipline? How do Christians justify financial support of a denomination that allows, encourages and approves of such statements? I applaud those that have left such heresy behind and their stand for the core truths of the gospel, but what about those who have chosen to stay? Where is the so-called work of renewal? Why is there no call to discipline? Have we gotten too comfortable and have too much invested? Where is the sacrifice for the gospel? Are we numb to heresy?
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