The Globe and Mail’s Michael Valpy has written an article about a United Church pastor who is “post Christian”.
That triumphal barnburner of an Easter hymn, Jesus Christ Has Risen Today – Hallelujah, this morning will rock the walls of Toronto’s West Hill United Church as it will in most Christian churches across the country.
But at West Hill on the faith’s holiest day, it will be done with a huge difference. The words “Jesus Christ” will be excised from what the congregation sings and replaced with “Glorious hope.”
Thus, it will be hope that is declared to be resurrected – an expression of renewal of optimism and the human spirit – but not Jesus, contrary to Christianity’s central tenet about the return to life on Easter morning of the crucified divine son of God.
Generally speaking, no divine anybody makes an appearance in West Hill’s Sunday service liturgy.
I really have to wonder what exactly it is that makes this congregation Christian, then…
Like Bishop Holloway, Ms. Vosper does not want to dress up the theological detritus – her words – of the past two millennia with new language in the hope of making it more palatable. She wants to get rid of it, and build on its ashes a new spiritual movement that will have relevance in a tight-knit global world under threat of human destruction.
Would that be “God’s word written” that she wants to get rid of? How can we be Christians if we give no credence to God’s revelation?
[Ms. Vosper] says there’s been virtually a consensus among scholars for the past 30 years that the Bible is not some divine emanation – or in [her] acronym, TAWOGFAT, The Authoritative Word of God For All Time – but a human project filled with contradictions and the conflicting worldviews and political perspectives of its authors.
All I can say about that is that she can’t be very widely read. Here’s the nub of the issue, though:
She wants salvation redefined to mean new life through removing the causes of suffering in the world. She wants the church to define resurrection as “starting over,” “new chances.” She wants an end to the image of God as an intervening all-powerful authority who must be appeased to avoid divine wrath; rather she would have congregations work together as communities to define God – or god – according to their own worked-out definitions of what is holy and sacred. She wants the eucharist – the symbolic eating and drinking of Jesus’s body and blood to make the congregation part of Jesus’s body – to be instead a symbolic experience of community love.
I have to wonder if this woman has even read the New Testament. She seems to have no real concept of God’s love, or who Jesus really is. How do you work out a definition of what is holy and sacred without divine guidance? What she is advocating is remaking God in man’s own image. At least she is being honest about it. I really wonder why she just doesn’t resign her United Church orders and go get ordained in the Unitarian Church. This is what Unitarians have been doing for decades, after all.
This really breaks my heart. It’s not really that she and her congregation have tried Christianity and found it wanting; they haven’t really tried authentic Christianity. So sad.