In the opening worship of the Presbyterian General Assembly in St. Louis yesterday, the Call to Confession read, “The Hebrew people crossed the Jordan into the promised land—freed to build new lives in a land flowing with milk and honey. But at what cost to those already living there?” The Prayer of Confession expands the focus to all migrating peoples who have crossed into new lands “when our claim to land displaces others, stripping away all sense of security and denying their hope of home.”
The Call to and Prayer of Confession neatly avoided the biblical fact that the entry of the people of Israel into the Promised Land was not only a mandate from God; but God reaffirmed the mandate numerous times with Abraham and Sarah and other Jewish notables in the Bible once the people inhabited the Promised Land. There were many complaints by commissioners about the liturgy.
One might ask, “From whence comes such a philosophy (turned into a theology)?” The answer is pretty easy. It comes from the obsession of some within the Presbyterian community to condemn and demonize Israel and the Jewish people. The GA will be asked to support the notion that Israel is a “colonial project,” not a people returning to land they inhabited, literally, for thousands of years. The Call to and Prayer of Confession were a unabashed setup for such a grotesque interpretation of Israel’s history.