Saturday, May 03, 2008

Christian? Believer?

How about "lost" and a "heretic"? A Canadian pastor, Gretta Vosper, of the United Church in Canada has moved beyond Christ and "Christianity". They are so "last 2 millennia" I guess.

The United Church is a union of Methodists, Congregationalists, and most Canadian Protestants and is the largest mainline Protestant denomination in Canada. This is sign #3,789,490 that Western civilization -- and Christ's church, in particular -- has lost its way. Pray tell? Why does Rev. Vosper think Christ is out of date?
Though an ordained minister, she does not like the title of reverend. It is one of those symbols that hold the church back from breaking into the future -- to a time "when the label Christian won't even exist" and the Church will be freed of the burdens of the past. To balance out those symbols of the past inside West Hill, there is a giant, non-religious rainbow tapestry just behind the altar and multi-coloured streamers hang from the ceiling.

"The central story of Christianity will fade away," she explained. "The story about Jesus as the symbol of everything that Christianity is will fade away."

Why surely she'll suffer church discipline. No Protestant denomination would put up with such shenanigans and outright heresy from one its pastors. Not so fast. Here's the head of the United Church of Canada:

The head of the United Church of Canada, David Giuliano, who went to divinity school with Ms. Vosper 20 years ago, said if he felt the way that she does, he would not be a minister. But it is not his job to condemn, he said, and the church is structured in such a way that complaints have to come from the congregation before any action can be taken. And so far there have been no complaints. He also sees the United Church, considered the most liberal of the mainline Protestant churches, as broad enough to encompass a wide range of theologies.

Even Rev. Giuliano agrees that the name Christian -- which carries the baggage of colonialism and other ills -- should probably be phased out. Instead, he would replace "Christian" with "Follower of the Way" or "Follower of Jesus."

Perhaps Vosper would embrace such terms to mark her belief in Christ? No so fast again!

But it is an absolute certainty that Ms. Vosper would not go for "Follower of Jesus."

Ms. Vosper does not believe in the Virgin Birth, the Resurrection, the miracles and the sacrament of baptism. Nor does she believe in the creeds, the presence of Christ in communion or that Jesus was the Son of God.

In With or Without God, her book that was formally launched this week, she writes that Jesus was a "Middle Eastern peasant with a few charismatic gifts and a great posthumous marketing team."

She sees religion as needlessly dividing us. We could all get along if we'd just give up our Christ and cross-carrying ways I guess. "Imagine there's no Heaven," as John Lennon said. I know Canada is more European than Europe in many ways, but this is, of course, both outrageous and unsurprising. We are in for a reckoning -- spiritually and culturally.



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