March 25, 2017

September 14, 2016


Is Canadian Church OK with Atheist Pastors?

It’s been an open secret for a long time that the pulpits of the mainline Protestant churches are occupied by more than their fair share of charlatans, time-servers who don’t believe what they preach, but instead do all they can to undermine the faith of the people who pay them. In at least one instance, in the United Church of Canada’s Toronto Conference, evidently the wink-wink-nudge-nudge has gone too far even for them. The Toronto Star reports:

Gretta Vosper, the popular and controversial United Church of Canada minister who calls herself an atheist, should no longer be a minister, a review committee has recommended.

“In our opinion, she is not suitable to continue in ordained ministry because she does not believe in God, Jesus Christ or the Holy Spirit,” the church’s Toronto Conference Review Committee concluded in a 39-page report released Wednesday.

“We have concluded that if Gretta Vosper were before us today, seeking to be ordained,” said the report, the committee “would not recommend her.”

“After prayer and much discussion,” the 23-person committee voted 19 to 4 in favour of a motion that found Vosper “unsuitable to continue serving.”

Vosper, 57, a minister at West Hill United Church in Scarborough for nearly two decades, does not believe in an interventionist, supernatural God. She preaches instead about love, kindness and human connection

Translation: she preaches therapeutic bromides (with, I’m guessing, a helping of liberal politics on the side). Apparently the ethics of niceness are not a substitute for theological or biblical truth, at least when the purveyor is so open about her disdain for Christianity. Vosper, demonstrating that she has no clue what the controversy is about, responded this way:

“My sadness is for the many clergy and members and individuals currently studying for leadership in the UCC who are now also being told they need to keep quiet about their true beliefs or risk censure,” Vosper told the Star in an email.

“The majority report said nothing about ethos and spoke exclusively to theological belief. A very sad day for the UCC.”

You know what’s really sad? When a person has so little respect for the institution for which they work that they insist on their right to continue to work for it even though they stand diametrically opposed to everything that it is built on. The United Church of Canada is notoriously liberal, at least as much the the United Church of Christ in the U.S., but apparently has not completely forgotten that it is supposed to be a Christian entity, and that that word actually means something. Of course, that could change as early as this week:

Vosper and her supporters will have a chance to respond to the report’s conclusions at a hearing scheduled for Sept. 15, before a separate, eight-member sub-executive committee of the church.

“We’re going to hear from Gretta and her congregation and it’s possible that they could say something that could cause us to go in a totally different or a slightly different direction,” David Allen, executive secretary of Toronto Conference of the United Church of Canada, told the Star.

The committee next week can accept the report’s recommendations, reject them or modify them, said Allen. A decision could be made the same day as the hearing.

If that committee wants to overturn the decision and declare the UCC-North is in fact the frozen branch of Unitarians Concerned about Christianists, it can rely on the minority report for justification:

Vosper has been an outspoken voice in a slow but growing movement within the United Church toward downplaying Jesus and the Bible, and adopting a more metaphorical interpretation of religious symbols and a greater emphasis on humanist, environmental and social justice causes.

The minority who dissented to the interview committee’s motion finding Vosper unsuitable wrote that many of her theological positions, “while not in the mainstream, are not unique amongst the ministers and lay persons of the United Church.”

Not in the mainstream. In other words, there are lots of other dishonest people bilking people out of their offerings by pretending to be Christians when they aren’t. Why should one more matter?

I’ll let you know whether our Canadian brethren decide they are a church, or a union of con-artists, as soon as they’ve made their decision.

(Hat tip: Jeff Walton of the Institute on Religion and Democracy at Juicy Ecumenism.)


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12 comments

This is crazy! Just when you think you’ve heard it all! It just keeps getting worse and worse. From The Second Coming, William Butler Yeats: 
“The best lack all conviction, while the worst
Are full of passionate intensity.”

[1] Posted by Nellie on 9-14-2016 at 11:04 AM · [top]

And:
“Being certain that they and I
But lived where motley is worn:
All changed, changed utterly:
A terrible beauty is born.”

[2] Posted by Pb on 9-14-2016 at 01:16 PM · [top]

Ecusa has been doing this for years - just trying to fly under the radar with it.  There were the Druid priests, the priests AND BISHOPS who do/did not believe in the resurrection or the Holy Trinity and let us not forget the Muslim/Episcopal priest in Seattle where the bishop thought it was GREAT!  And unfortunately, this is a very brief listing.  A little surfing

Unless and until the churches return to the purpose of being a House of God they can expect the continued decline and plan for the coming fall.

[3] Posted by Jackie on 9-14-2016 at 04:29 PM · [top]

Anyone remember Bishop Spong’s Twelve Theses?  His views are no different than Ms. Vosper’s, and he has a lot of company.  It is to the Episcopal Church’s everlasting shame that they did nothing to stand against Spong’s false teaching.  Instead, they celebrated him.

[4] Posted by ToAllTheWorld on 9-14-2016 at 11:59 PM · [top]

If 4 out of 23 thought she was okay to stay, I would say that the camel’s nose is already in the tent.

[5] Posted by Undergroundpewster on 9-15-2016 at 09:03 AM · [top]

It is a thinly disguised grift.  Masquerade as a cleric, but embrace popular revisionism even if it is unable to withstand scrutiny. 

Their message, turned on itself, unravels the whole undertaking.  A person of principle would forego the deception. 

The emoluments are simply irresistible to some.  Funny how the only core doctrine of TEC pertains to property…

[6] Posted by tired on 9-15-2016 at 10:05 AM · [top]

Speaking of Spong , http://www.anglican.ink/article/spong-hospitalized-following-stroke  -  note that the Bishop denied the efficacy of prayer, but perhaps you’d offer one for him anyway.

This verse also floated into my memory: Psalm 137:5       If I forget thee, O Jerusalem, let my right hand forget her cunning.  KJV

Which led me to read it all and see
Psa 137:5     If I forget thee, O Jerusalem, let my right hand forget her cunning.
Psa 137:6     If I do not remember thee, let my tongue cleave to the roof of my mouth; if I prefer not Jerusalem above my chief joy.

It is worth reading the whole Psalm and recollecting why the Lord’s people were where they were.  Some in Canada and the USA should think long and deeply about their end.

[7] Posted by dwstroudmd+ on 9-15-2016 at 10:20 AM · [top]

If you want to stir up a forum hornet’s nest respond to a post by a minister on a Christian progressive theology blog who espouses therapeutic deism and remind them that if they do not assent to the literal interpretation of the Nicene Creed (and the other three creeds of the ancient church councils) then they really should not call themselves Christians.  The vituperative nature of the responses just serves to confirm that it is a thinly disguised grift.

[8] Posted by Daniel on 9-15-2016 at 06:48 PM · [top]

Daniel, you are absolutely right.  That is precisely the point of the Creeds—to help define who is a Christian and who isn’t.  But that is certainly not the way the Creeds are being used by the so-called mainline churches that still say them.  Inclusivity must prevail—no matter who we have to drive out of this Church in order to be inclusive!  The whole liberal agenda reminds me of a cancer; the first thing it does is to disable the body’s immune system so it can multiply.

[9] Posted by ToAllTheWorld on 9-15-2016 at 08:39 PM · [top]

Creeds were formulated to combat heresies.

[10] Posted by Pb on 9-16-2016 at 12:47 PM · [top]

Hmmm, just within the past week I was just reading a church website where on the pastor’s page he says he doesn’t have people say the Nicene Creed in services (although required by their liturgy) because it is a creation of Constantine and the Eastern Roman Empire, is sexist and patriarchal,  and does not reflect the true Christian gospel of “love.”

[11] Posted by Jim the Puritan on 9-22-2016 at 06:25 PM · [top]

The obvious “fix” is to add that we believe in the inclusion of all genders.

[12] Posted by Pb on 9-23-2016 at 12:15 PM · [top]

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