Posted by: gmscan | August 4, 2011

Busted in D.C.

There have been a couple of PCUSA officials arrested in Washington recently.

It began with former PCUSA moderator Rick Ufford-Chase being arrested in front of the White House on July 11, according to an article in The Layman. He and several other members of the Presbyterian Peace Fellowship (PPF) were protesting the pending free trade agreement with Columbia.

The Director of the PCUSA Office of Public Witness, Rev. J. Herbert Nelson was also in attendance at the White House event, but not arrested. Apparently Mr. Nelson suffered a case of protest envy when Mr. Ufford-Chase got arrested but Mr. Nelson did not, because a couple of weeks later Mr. Nelson also got himself arrested, but this time at the United States Capitol and over the issue of the debt ceiling negotiations.

A press release from the PCUSA  shows how very proud the denomination was of this action. It writes:

“The PC(USA) Office of Public Witness, along with interfaith partners in ministry, is indignant that, in order to break that stalemate, spending cuts to programs that serve the most vulnerable in the U.S. and around the world will likely be included with an increase in the nation’s credit limit.”

The press release uses the expression “the most vulnerable” several times without ever clarifying exactly what program cuts it is talking about. The closest it comes is in a statement of Mr. Nelson’s:

“Too many Congresspersons of all parties are trapped in a space where commitment to the common good is diminished for the sake of personal gain and the seduction of power. In this process, the American people and others all over the world are left to suffer.  Our denomination cannot stand idly by and watch while the mandate of the gospel to love our neighbors is violated in the halls of Congress.”

Mr. Nelson is from Memphis, so his arrest was also written up in the Memphis Commercial Appeal.

I won’t deal with the politics of this position here, other to say that it is nothing but left-wing blather. The need to get our fiscal house in order is indisputable. Failure to do so will do far more harm to “the most vulnerable” than any of the modest cuts that have been contemplated in this dispute.

No, I am far more offended at the feeble attempt to invoke Jesus’ name in trying to score political points. The commandment to love our neighbors as ourselves is a powerful mandate that all Christians must honor. It is, in my opinion, blasphemy to use it as a cudgel for political gain.

  • Loving our neighbor does not mean taxing some of our neighbors to give their money to others.
  • Loving our neighbor does not mean creating a sense of dependency so that they are incapable of controlling their own affairs.
  • Loving our neighbor does not mean leaving the children of our neighbors a legacy of indebtedness that can never be paid back.
  • Loving our neighbor does not mean becoming enablers of their dysfunctions.

Yes, we are instructed to feed the poor, clothe the naked, and care for widows and orphans. WE are instructed to do these things. We were never instructed to circulate a petition asking Caesar to take care of it for us.

It is charity on the cheap to forcibly require others (through taxes) to pay for our charitable inclinations.

Political activists like Mr. Nelson often disregard Christ’s other mandate, the “Great Commission” to spread the Gospel to every corner of the world. Indeed, Reformed theology (which the PCUSA is supposed to be a part of) insists that we are justified by grace alone, and that our “good works” will come out of our realization and gratitude that we have been saved through no merit of our own.

Calling on non-believers to abide by Christ’s commandment to love their neighbors (as Mr. Nelson would do through taxpayer funding of charity) makes no sense at all. Mr. Nelson and the PCUSA would do better to focus on spreading the joy of the Gospel knowing that those newly converted will then gladly and willingly follow all of Jesus’s commandments to the best of their ability.

But, then Mr. Nelson would not be able to enjoy the conceit that he is a martyr for the cause of – what? – raising the debt limit? Give me a break!



  1. Well said. May I share this?

    • Of course, Bev. Always.

  2. Greg, it is sad that our chuirch “leaders” have used their position to take congregational funding from local churches to fund their left wing misguided political ideology. Most members of PCUSA would be shocked to know what their monies are going to support! The political liberalism is one of the main reasons why the PCA split from PCUSA in 1973. I suggest you check out PCA as an alternative denomination. I am personally struggling with the Presbyterian positions on predestination, evolution versus creationism, and whether the bible is unerrant and to be take literally. My faith walk continues with fascination and an open mind, I hope yours is as interesting. I suggest a great book called “The language of God” by Francis Collins.

    • Ron,
      I know you will be traveling in Alaska and may not be able to get back to this for a while, but I wanted to respond before you leave.
      1, Yes, Collins’ book is fabulous and I always cite it when people complain that religion and science are incompatible.
      2. I am looking for another Reformed church/denomination to affiliate with. I pray the Lord will lead me to the right place.
      3. I think we all struggle with those issues and many more. I am comfortable with the three you raise. Here is probably not the place for it. If I do a post on them, I hope you will weigh-in.

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