One Toronto church decided that they had enough of divisiveness this Lenten season, and decided to take a stand. No more would incendiary rhetoric be used to inflame the passions of the congregation. No more would the United Church endorse an outdated theology, at least not the West Hill Protestant United Christian Church. Their pastor struck these dreaded words from their Easter hymnal …. Jesus Christ?
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.
It’s Easter without God and Jesus Christ! What a breakthrough! Now all we need is a Toronto Argonauts game on the telly, and the West Hill congregation won’t have any reason to attend at all.
The pastor, Rev. Gretta Vosper, has had it with “Big God-ism” and wants to turn the West Hill United Church into a New Age encounter group. Vosper says that the world has outgrown Jesus Christ and the church is finished unless it gives up God, Jesus, and pretty much the entire Bible, except possibly for the Sermon on the Mount. Her new book, With or Without God, makes plain her hostility to the tenets of Christianity over the last two millenia and the need to replace God with Human.
The Anchoress is appalled:
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!
It recalls to mind a conversation I had with a friend of mine who was an observant Reform Jew about the group Jews for Jesus. He told me with a laugh that Jews have a name for them — Christians. We Christians have a name for ministers who proclaim the end of God and Jesus in their Christian churches — atheists.