Unlike its companion, Committee 4, Committee 7 – “Ecumenical and Interfaith Relations” – voted to reject an overture from the Presbytery of Chicago “On Distinguishing Between Biblical Terms for Israel and Those Applied to the Modern Political State of Israel in Christian Liturgy”.
Since the design of this overture was to sever the ties between ancient, biblical Israel and modern Israel – and by implication, between ancient Israel and the Jewish people – it was problematic at best.
In fact, whenever churches have emphasized this distinction historically, they threw open the floodgates to Christian antisemitism.
I’m not suggesting that the modern state of Israel is identical to biblical Israel, but to deny the relationship between the two is foolish and dishonest on the best of days.
In their action on this matter, Committee 7 chose to follow the “advice and counsel” of the Presbyterian Mission Agency, and it chose to reject the contrary “advice and counsel” of the Advocacy Committee for Racial and Ethnic Concerns.
ACREC urged Presbyterians to go farther and insist that “This distinction should be made by worship leaders whenever ‘Israel’ is used in a worship setting, whether in hymns, prayers, confession, or sermon.]”
Fortunately, wisdom prevailed in committee 7.
Nonetheless, as with all the decisions taken today, nothing is final until after the whole assembly meets.