Taking Christ out of Christianity:
Avant garde pastor teaches a new Christianity where the-way-you-live is more important than beliefs.
'With or Without God: Why the Way We Live is More Important than What We Believe.'
(Published this week by Rev. Gretta Vosper, Toronto's West Hill United Church's minister for the past 10 years.)
Rev. Vosper argues that the Christian church -in the form in which it exists today- has outlived its viability, and either it sheds its no-longer-credible-myths, doctrines and dogmas, or Christianity is toast.
Vosper is considered one of the bright, if unconventional, minds within the United Church, Canada's largest Protestant Christian denomination, holding a Master of Divinity degree from Queen's University. She founded and chairs the Toronto-based Canadian Centre for Progressive Christianity.
A number of leading theologians in Britain - where the decline in adherents is more dramatic than in Canada - are on the same path, people like Richard Holloway, former bishop of Edinburgh and primate of the Scottish Episcopal (Anglican) Church, who has likened the Christian church to a self-service cafeteria stacked with messy trays of leftover food urgently in need of being thrown out.
Vosper says there's been virtually a consensus among scholars for the past 30 years that the Bible is not some DIVINE EMANATION; it is not The Authoritative Word of God For All Time.
It is a HUMAN PROJECT filled with contradictions and the conflicting world-views and respective political perspectives of its authors.
And yet, she says, the liberal Christian churches, including her own, won't acknowledge to the congregation that it is a human project, that it's wrong in parts and that -in the 21st century- it's no more useful as a spiritual and religious guide than a number of other books.
She says now that the work of biblical scholars has become publicly accessible, the churches and their clergy are caught living a lie that few people will buy much longer.
Like Bishop Holloway, Rev. Vosper does not want to dress up the theological detritus 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.
Posted By: MICHAEL VALPY
March 22, 2008