"Prayers To Allah-Offered At PCUSA’s
General Assembly Plenary Session."
Could this be a mistake.... or a bad joke... or maybe a regrettable misprint, I wondered to myself. But, alas no. It was the shocking truth.
Accompanying the article was a video of the event and with my own eyes (at the 14:04 mark to be precise) I witnessed a Muslim man leading the allegedly Christian assembly in reverential prayers to the Muslim diety, with petitions such as: "Allah bless us and bless our families and bless our lord. Lead us on the straight path - the path of all the prophets... blah, blah, blah."
My response to all of this was an odd collage of conflicting emotions that rose up as if powered by rocket-fuel, until they found their way out of my mouth in the form of a very strange guttural noise. The best way I can describe the sound is by saying that it is similar to the kind of rasping growl one would expect to hear from a bulldog who has just been refused cake.
Pausing, I began to try and evaluate the multifaceted reaction that was boiling and bubbling within me as I read of the PCUSA's interfaith-free-for-all... and as I did a few things became clear.
The first thing I noticed was that I felt sad and sick and ashamed all at the same time. All of this had invoked an internal conversation in which I was arguing to myself that while Christians should certainly love and serve their Muslim neighbors in Christ's name, Christians must never affirm the errant beliefs of Islam - let alone partner with Muslims in the worship of God. To do so would be to throw truth itself out the window. It's only logical isn't it - I asked myself. The claims of Christianity and the claims of Islam are conflicting. They can't both be correct. For example, if the Holy Trinity is the One true God, Allah is not the true God.. Or take another example, if "in these last days God has spoken to us by His Son" then Jesus Christ is God's final word to mankind and the teachings of Mohammad are not.... Now all of this and more went through my mind before finally winding its way to a conclusion... I concluded that the Christian's involvement with his/her Muslim neighbors should always be governed by a loving, evangelistically-minded, Christ-glorifying, zeal for the truth of God's Word. This is precisely what the PCUSA failed to do in its public prayers to Allah. At the expense of truth they embraced the pretended and pretentious "virtue" of religious syncretism. Though profitable for self-aggrandizement and worldly accolades this kind of syncretistic interfaith sideshow is useless for anything of eternal value.
After concluding these things I sought to evaluate my feeling further. I realized I was also feeling indignant. Again the internal conversation began... The whole thing, I heard myself arguing, was not merely a failure to uphold the truth of Christianity but it was also an Insult to the Lord Jesus. To profess to be servants of Christ and to then offer public prayers to a false god - this is nothing short of contempt! And for these prayers to arise from the lips of a man who adheres to a religious system that openly denies the divinity of Christ and rejects His redemptive achievements - this is yet further contempt! One wonders what it was exactly that led the PCUSA to the following conclusion: when dealing with those who reject the person and work of Christ our best means of response is to invite them to lead us in prayer... Seriously! Of all the things you might conclude how on earth could you come up with that?
Seeking to evaluate my mixed emotions further I realized that I was also feeling very curious. What had once been a silent internal conversation suddenly became verbal and surprisingly loud. Sitting in my empty study I asked no one in particular: "If the PCUSA is going to do this kind of stupid stuff why bother with the pretense of Christianity? Wouldn't it be a lot more honest (not to mention a lot more sane) to just freely acknowledge that there is not now nor has there ever been anything distinctly Christian about offering prayers to Allah? And in light of this latest display of non-Christian worship shouldn't the PCUSA finally just admit what everyone already knows - i.e., sometime ago (and against the wishes of many of the Presbyterian faithful) the church hierarchy willfully set sail out of the harbor of Christianity. Having now lost sight of that harbor sometime ago a new generation of theologically-backrupt influence-peddlars, filled with a misplaced joy that only madmen can appreciate, have determined to set their denominational ship totally adrift on a sea of religious pluralism.... With these things in mind and with a burning sense of curiosity I asked myself a question which I could not and cannot provide a rational answer for - "Why doesn't the PCUSA just admit that there is longer anything distinctly Christian about them?"
The final thing I noticed as I evaluated my feelings was a sudden urge to correspond with someone sane. Quickly I fired off an email to a trusted and godly colleague who himself had exited the PCUSA not long ago at least in part because of the kinds of ridiculous garbage outlined above. "What's your take on all of this?" I asked him. His response (which he has been good enough to allow me to reprint below) was wise and Christ-centered. Reading it I saw that it contained not merely the insights of a former PCUSA insider but it also expressed a deep love for the purity of Christ's church and a pastoral concern for it's people.
I hope you'll read his response and benefit from it as I have.
And also.... on a personal note.... Thanks for what you wrote in response to me that night, John... I'm blessed to count you as my brother, as a wise friend, and as my partner in the gospel.
The seeds of this madness were sown decades ago as attested by Parker Williamson in his book Standing Firm and in many of his articles in the Presbyterian Layman. They (the liberals) were snagged by the "interfaith" hook completely. No surprise if you don't adhere to biblical authority and "see the pure reason behind universalism." This stuff used to make me choke and splutter all the time, even sent me to the ER a couple of times until I saw they were reaping the whirlwind. Solomon nailed it: The fear of the Lord is the beginning of knowledge, fools despise wisdom and instruction. PCUSA has been long past fear of the Lord and its haemorraghing membership reflects God's judgment upon them. They clearly mock the wisdom and instruction of God's Holy Word. I tremble when we shall all stand before the throne and folks like those will attempt to explain their motives and our Lord will say "I never knew you, depart from me, you workers of lawlessness."
As a previous POTUS once said, "I feel your pain."
....May the Holy Spirit bless us with complete humility, that we handle the truth with the appropriate reverence it is due, and seek to glorify God in Christ above all things as long as He allows us to minister.
Please tell me I can exhale now and that the bulging blood vessel on my forehead has begun to recede... Truthfully I don't know if we should switch to imprecatory prayers over these people considering how often this crap manifests itself.
Grace and peace,
Some additional thoughts about liberal theology...
(if you're interested enough to continue)
H. Richard Niebuhr powerfully encapsulated the teachings of Protestant Liberalism in a single sentence. He said liberalism teaches that "A God without wrath brought men without sin into a Kingdom without judgment through the ministrations of a Christ without a Cross."
Perhaps J. Gresham Machen summed it up even more powerfully by describing liberalism as a religion different altogether from the Christian faith. According to Machen, "The chief modern rival of Christianity is 'liberalism' ...at every point, the two movements are in direct opposition."
I would suggest that time has proven the accuracy of these men's statements even as it has revealed the devastating impact that liberalism has had upon the church since the modernist controversy.
In light of its disastrous wake let us cling to the truth of God's Word all the more even as we affirm, with sobering conviction, the fact that liberal theology destroys souls and closes churches.
"...liberal theology destroys souls and closes churches..."