Friday, August 7, 2015


Colin Perkel/The Canadian Press
She is one of their own. They don't want her anymore. She is Rev. Gretta Vosper. The United Church ordained Rev. Vosper in 1993. We assume that she was approved because in good faith she agreed with the tenets of faith of the United Church which includes a faith in God, which is stated with astonishing theological liberality. Among the belief statements of the United Church of Canada, is the following statement entitled 'Multi-faith Relations', with its deliberate non-discrimination that submits Christianity as merely one of the many ways by which humans find their way to God.

"The United Church of Canada views the religious practice of all people of goodwill with respect and gratitude. We believe the Spirit of God is at work in many different faith communities.For Christians, Jesus is the way we know God. Our understanding is nonetheless limited by human imagination. God is greater still and works in our world by a mysterious Spirit that knows no distinction at the doorway of a Christian chapel; Buddhist, Hindu, or Sikh temple; Aboriginal sweat lodge, Muslim mosque, or Jewish synagogue.
We work together with other Christian churches whenever possible, and among people of other religions in Canada and throughout the world on matters of justice, peace, and human dignity.
Today, difference is everywhere around us and, we believe, a great cause for celebration.

The United Church's doctrinal broad-mindedness afforded Ms. Vosper a vast expanse of theological possibilities that unpredictably brought her to the conclusion that she no longer believes in God and she went public with this in 2001. This incongruence has been quiet but unresolved for over a decade but now the United Church of Canada Executive is questioning her fitness to serve as a minister. Colin Perkel's article in the Globe and Mail quotes Ms. Vosper saying, I don’t believe in...the god called God….Using the word gets in the way of sharing what I want to share…. Is the Bible really the word of God? Was Jesus a person?... It’s mythology. We build a faith tradition upon it which shifted to find belief more important than how we lived.”

This United Church statement acknowledges God as an entity who is accessible by way of Jesus, but not exclusively so, since God's Spirit works to make God known to Buddhists, Hindus, Sikhs, First Nations, Muslims and Jews. In our obsessively politically and religiously correct culture this is a commendably acceptable. But is it acceptable to God? Doesn't the concept of Jesus as eternal God, incarnated briefly for the purpose of dying a substitutionary, atoning death for sinners, define God to the exclusion of every other religious alternative? Well you can hear where I am coming from. Yet, Rev. Vosper insists that she should not be bound by a belief in God: Father, Son and Holy Spirit, even though that was basic to her ordination vows. Vosper believes that her movement to humanism should be embraced by her church as she explores new ways to express spirituality and values. An ecclesiastical court will decide this autumn 2015 whether she has gone too far.

No comments:

Post a Comment