I know the acronym for Presbyterian Church USA is not PUKE but that’s how I have always thought and heard it. A visit to St. Andrew’s Presbyterian Church, Austin, Texas confirmed that this wasn’t a mondegreen on my part.
The first thing you see on approaching the building is a banner that says: “St. Andrew’s Stands with Our Muslim Neighbors.” And they made a point of standing with the Green movement, Black Lives Matter, and socialism. The main problem in the world was men and their idols (The chief one being capitalism.). The solution was man, not God much less God the Son – who was referred to once in the sermon and in whose name the congregation prayed their leftist prayer for the world. In this prayer, they made a point of remembering Philando Castile (The black man killed by a policeman who had just been acquitted the day before), but no mention was made of the then recent gunning down of Republican politicians.
Of course, the only oppressed people St. Andrew’s makes no mention or hint of standing with is the unborn. They would throw back at me: the only oppressed people you do stand with are the unborn; you ignore the homeless, the oppressed, the abused LGBTQ’s, etc.” I would reply: “There is some truth to your charge, but no one is killing 125,000 a day of any of these groups. Check that. About 900 black babies are killed every day in the womb. You want to talk about black lives mattering? Start with the fact that we accept the fact that we are killing black babies at 4 times the rate we are killing white babies (https://rtl.org/outreach/)!
The Triune God was not invoked, prayed to, or mentioned. Light, wind, the table of the earth’s abundance, and “water, symbol of Love’s ever flowing care” were all welcomed in the ceremony labeled “Creating Sacred Space.” Please note the words of men not God’s Word and the actions of men not God did this. The spirituality spoken of, praised, song of, and preached of was distinctively not Christian and therefore was not the Holy Spirt.
The text of the sermon was the Golden Calf. The pastor told us he did not believe this actually happened because nobody is so stupid as to do what they are purported to have done in that story. He then turned this around saying “but then again we are all that stupid.” The point being that stories can do what history cannot. He made this point but not as bluntly. He admitted he was preaching about Capitalism (again); he did not say he was preaching against it, but he was. There is a lot wrong with capitalism, but that is not what we in the pew are dying from and being damned for. Ism’s don’t damn and they can’t save. Separation from God damns and being reconnected through Christ saves. The only separation mentioned in the sermon was from our fellowman, and we were the answer to undoing that.
I say in the title that the music is by Disney. Look these hymns up “Justice is a Journey Onward”, “Every Way of Compassion”, “Sound Over All Waters”, “Awe and Wonder” and “Thy Word is a Lamp”. You will recognize the message, the medium, the rhythms as that of Disney. We should not kid ourselves. Our kids are being inoculated by humanism at a very early age. It’s true; these hymns have more substance than the standard contemporary worship fare centering on what you do, feel, think, or believe, but the substance here is not Christian sustenance but humanistic “We are the World” and in the words of the 1973 Humanist Manifesto: “No deity will save us; we must save ourselves.” And the people of St. Andrew’s Presbyterian church say: “Amen!”
The Benediction, pronounced by the lead pastor, was Aaronic in form but in place of the Lord blessing, keeping, shining, lifting His countenance, and giving peace, Love was said to do these. This really is no more profound than Rita Coolidge telling us that love had lifted her higher than she has ever been lifted before, or the Beatles telling us that all we need is love.
Augustine said of the Donatist (I’m going on memory here.), “As long as they say the ‘Our Father’ they will remain our brothers.” St. Andrew’s did not prayer the “Our Father” or recite any creed, ecumenical or otherwise. The Offertory song summarized the depth, breathe, and hope of their theological existence. It was the 1969 song, “One Tin Soldier”, made popular by the 1971 movie “The Legend of Billy Jack”. I have referenced this song in a sermon before. There is a worthwhile point here as there are in many 60s and 70s “anti” songs. However, left unconnected to Christ and His Gospel, they remain about us. And, in the words to Luther’s “Sacristy Prayer”, all we can do if left to ourselves is bring it all down around us. I heard the crumbling as I exited the darkness of this humanist church.