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Do you know why these “progressive” Christians want to “progress” right through the tenets of Christianity into the grim world of neither-faith-nor-reason but self-actualizing instinct and “hopeful” feelings? Why they want Jesus with no Christ, God with a small g and all that? Can you take a guess?
If you said “it is the logical culmination of baby-boomer narcissism and that generations’ tireless effort to deconstruct the universe and put itself at the center of all things” then ding, ding, ding! You win the daily double!
That was written by The Anchoress, in response to this story from Canada’s Globe and Mail about a church in Toronto that wants to take two words out of the church in an attempt to be more ‘progressive.’ What two words are we talking about?
The G&M reported (via The Captain):
That triumphal barnburner of an Easter hymn, Jesus Christ Has Risen Today â€“ 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 â€“ an expression of renewal of optimism and the human spirit â€“ 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.
There is no authoritative Big-Godism, as Rev. Gretta Vosper, West Hill’s minister for the past 10 years, puts it. No petitionary prayers (“Dear God, step into the world and do good things about global warming and the poor”). No miracles-performing magic Jesus given birth by a virgin and coming back to life. No references to salvation, Christianity’s teaching of the final victory over death through belief in Jesus’s death as an atonement for sin and the omnipotent love of God. For that matter, no omnipotent God, or god.
Ms. Vosper has written a book, published this week â€“ With or Without God: Why the Way We Live is More Important than What We Believe â€“ in which she 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 it’s toast.
She is considered one of the bright, if unconventional, minds within the United Church, Canada’s largest Protestant Christian denomination. She holds a master of divinity degree from Queen’s University and was ordained in 1992. She founded and chairs the Toronto-based Canadian Centre for Progressive Christianity.
Sadly, this type of ‘secular Christianity’ is becoming more the rule than the exception in amongst liberal Christians. Vosper might literally be taking the words Jesus Christ and the word of God out of her “church,” but modern liberal Christians have been doing this in other ways for years. The Episcopalian church has been ripped apart the last few years after consecretating their first openly gay bishop, Gene Robinson, in November 2003. You’ve got radical liberal Christian churches like Rev. Jeremiah Wright’s that preach about the supremacy of black people over all others, which is not something you learn from the Bible. The presidential candidate who calls Wright his “spiritual mentor” believes the Sermon on the Mount justifies civil unions, and that we can “create a kingdom right here on earth.” Secularists and liberal Christians alike react with absolute outrage when churches refuse to memorialize lifestyles that are contra-Biblical scripture, not understanding that Bible-believing churches are not supposed to be tolerant of sin of any sort … because God wasn’t, either. The head of the DNC claimed in front of thousands of Jewish leaders late last year that “there are no bars to heaven for anybody.”
In response to Howard Dean’s claim, I wrote:
To liberal churchgoers like him, there is no right or wrong, and God is not a judgmental God, but instead a tolerant one. This is secular wishful thinking – and it’s dangerous (to them). The mentality is: Go on and do whatever you want to do, and in the end, God will still welcome you into heaven! Wrong, wrong, wrong. Informed believers know that in order for a Christian to make it past the pearly gates they must accept the Lord into their heart as their saviour, ask forgiveness for their sins, and pledge to live their lives according to God’s word. This is not Sister Toldjah “claiming” this – any Bible-believing preacher will tell you the same thing.
To sum up: If you take Jesus Christ out of the church, you might as well not even have a church. If a Christian church preaches that good deeds alone will get its congregants into heaven, and/or tells them that not only does God love the sinner, but will also “tolerate” the sin, then that church is no better than the street-corner bar for all the good its doing its attendees in terms of their journey towards and with Christ, and the deep spiritual and emotional fulfillment which comes from it.
The type of “if it feels good, it must be ok” Christianity preached by Vosper and other liberal Christians might win them friends in high places here on earth, but won’t do them any favors when it comes to an even higher place.