PC(USA): At Odds With God’s Word
My responsibilities at The Friends of Israel Gospel Ministry (FOI) have changed over the years, but one of the tasks I enjoy most is that of Philadelphia tour guide. When FOI staff visit our international headquarters, I often take them to historical sites like Independence Hall, where the Declaration of Independence was signed; the Liberty Bell, with its famous crack; and, of course, John’s Roast Pork for the best roast pork and cheesesteaks in the cradle of liberty!
My tours always conclude with a visit to the historic Witherspoon Building on Walnut Street in Center City. This is one of my favorite sites because it provides a glimpse into the rich history of The Friends of Israel. The Witherspoon Building housed FOI’s first official offices.
The 19th-century, 11-story edifice that looks more like a church than a commercial building was named after John Witherspoon (1723–1794), one of America’s Founding Fathers, who was a Presbyterian minister and president and head professor of the small Presbyterian College of New Jersey, later known as Princeton University.
The Witherspoon Building’s location was a natural fit for The Friends of Israel because many of the pastors and Christian businessmen who founded FOI in 1938 were Presbyterians—among them, Lewis Sperry Chafer, the founder of Dallas Theological Seminary. Our first executive director, Dr. Victor Buksbazen, was also a Presbyterian.
FOI exists because brave Christian men and women chose to stand with the Jewish people and help them as they fled Nazi tyranny. Their biblical convictions compelled them to help. They knew beyond a shadow of a doubt that the Jewish people held a special place in God’s heart and that His eternal plan for the ages involved the children of Abraham, Isaac, and Jacob. So these believers used what little resources they had and invited other Christians to give financially and join them in bringing comfort to God’s Chosen People during the Holocaust of World War II.
Fast-forward 84 years. Today, the same denomination that helped establish the FOI ministry is decrying Israel as an apartheid state. At its General Assembly meeting over the summer, the Presbyterian Church (USA) (PC[USA]) passed a resolution declaring the Israeli government’s treatment of the Palestinians “fulfills the international legal definition of apartheid.”
The resolution compared Israel’s security policies in the West Bank to those of segregated South Africa during its apartheid era of institutionalized, racial oppression (1948 to the early 1990s). This blatant lie is used around the world to demonize and delegitimize the Jewish state.
If the PC(USA) General Assembly wanted the facts, it should have invited South African Parliament Member Kenneth Meshoe to its meeting. Meshoe has said, “Those who know what real apartheid is, as I know, know that there is nothing in Israel that looks like apartheid.” Calling Israel an apartheid state “is an empty political statement that does not hold truth,” he added.
To be clear, The Friends of Israel Gospel Ministry has no association or relationship with the PC(USA). Yet it saddens and troubles us to see how a denomination that once produced men and women with keen spiritual discernment could lose its scriptural footing concerning Israel and the Jewish people. The PC(USA) General Assembly fails to take God’s Word at face value and has abandoned the art of reading the Bible in its literal, grammatical, and historical context.
When God made His eternal promise to Abraham, He said, “I will bless those who bless you, and I will curse him who curses you” (Gen. 12:3). Based on the PC(USA)’s recent anti-Israel resolution, the denomination is at odds with God’s Word—not a good place to be.
The Witherspoon Building today still has its ornate façade, but the inside is hollowed-out. The structure that once housed FOI and other Bible-based ministries is just another apartment complex in Philadelphia. If the PC(USA), now steadily losing members, continues to demonize Israel, it could end up just another hollowed-out façade. And that would be a shame.