Walrus Article

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  • #14479
    Profile photo of drdj
    drdj
    Participant

    http://thewalrus.ca/atheist-at-the-pulpit/

    This is an article about the denomination to which I currently belong. To me, it is disturbing that someone who calls themselves atheist speaks out as if she represents the denomination as a whole, I understand what Greta Vosper is trying to say BUT it is my strongly held belief that theism is important as a foundation for everything else.

    Yes, I understand that the Bible is allegorical, written as scholars believe some 50 to 150 years after Christ died. It is important to understand then that the Gospels (including that of Thomas) lead us to an understanding of a oneness of The Father, Son, and Holy Spirit – a special understanding of how we are to pattern oursleves in action and in belief. I find it fascinating that despite differences in a number of human ways the Gospels leave a message of a loving, caring, healing God who wants to clear our thinking of greed and turn us toward a healing and accepting ministry. Stories like the Good Samaritan, the lady by the well, the prodigal son show an acceptance of differences as well as a foregiveness which transends ethnic, colour and other differences. There is a love for the poor. While it is more difficult to see that in the Old Testament, time and again, the Jews were shown foregiveness. The Jesus of the Gospels can be understood as a loving kind understanding and helpful individual and we are to pattern ourselves likewise.

    So many people praise Pope Francis for washing people’s feet, for slipping out of the Vatican and helping feed the poor. Why are we not doing that? It seems so God-like to do that

    I am mst anxious to hear forum member’s views on this topic.

    #14565
    Profile photo of DaytonaTom
    DaytonaTom
    Participant

    Hi Dr. DJ and Group…..

    Interesting article, but I wish it had more material on Rev. Gretta. The ups and downs¬† (mostly downs) of the United Church didn’t interest me much. Individual denominations rise and fall, so what? I would be more curious if organized religion as a whole is on the decline in Canada, and how that compares with trends in the U.S., western Europe, eastern Europe, UK, Latin America and Africa.

    As for Rev. Gretta, I would say if there is an issue at all, it’s between her and her local church. If they are willing to hire her and listen to her sermons, why should anyone else care? It may seem strange to have a “devil’s advocate” given a place within a church’s leadership, but so long as she is not dictating to her parishioners what they should believe,¬† her interpretation of the role of Christianity is entitled to an airing. In my opinion, the concepts of heresy and blasphemy are simply tools of control by a clergy caste. My own church had several discussions about doctrine in recent months, and in the end, we decided to eliminate just about all details of doctrine from our governance bylaws. We still do identify ourselves as Christian and profess a general belief in Jesus as a manifestation of God in human form, but we don’t go much beyond that. So, in essence, we are a big tent that can include people with a devout Catholic upbringing (about half our congregation),¬† various Protestants, from liberal to Baptists and pentecostals,¬† many unchurched, or lightly churched, more or less messianic Jews and those who consider themselves partly or wholly agnostic.¬† Even if someone called themselves “atheist,” we are not going to get bent out of shape about it….Whatever they come to church for, even if it’s just for refreshments and hope of finding a date, is OK by us. Of course, we hope that everyone eventually experiences spiritual growth and greater peace of mind through faith, but we are not going to dictate what the faith should be.

     

    DaytonaTom

    member of New Church Family, Daytona Beach

    #14647
    Profile photo of drdj
    drdj
    Participant

    Tom, I refer you to http://www.thestar.com/news/insight/2016/02/21/meet-the-united-church-minister-who-came-out-as-an-atheist.html.

    Our Monday night study group at the Church I attend used her book

      Amen: What Prayer Can Mean in a World Beyond Belief.

    chapter by chapter. I was horrified personally by the things in that book, arguing that she still believed in prayer, but because there is no God to answer that prayer it is for our own feeling of well-being to pray.

    My own understanding of God is that a)there is a Creator b) while He may not be interventionist, He acts with our interest (the world) and c) He has his own timing and we are not to know what that timing is. That may not coincide with yours or other’s beliefs.

    While I agree with you about it being up to the group employing her, the United Church is an unusual cross between a hierarchial structure versus a local congregation. As Treasurer of our local church, I submit pay sheets every other week to the United Church of Canada and the ministers and staff get paid by the central church (which then comes out of our bank account). Right now our two ministers are retiring after a combined 70 years of ministry. The central church has one member on our search committee and has to approve the decision of the local church and the central church has to approve a vacancy in our pulpit. It is not a Bishp that appoints as in a true hierarchial church but rather the central church controls the application process and approves any hiring firing.

    The central church also controls who gets licenses to marry (conduct the services) and when a minister is not connected to a local congregation lifts that approval as one of my friends who is retired found out. He can apply to Presbytery and remain engaged with the organization and then aply for such a license back.

    One of my sons who himself was baptized in the United Church is finding further evidence that the United Church is not based on a Christian base by citing the fact a Gretta Vosper is permitted to remain a United Church minister. I know others who look down on me for having gone back to the United Church after being almost 40 years in Missionary, Baptist, Pentecostal and MCC churches.

    #14650
    Profile photo of DaytonaTom
    DaytonaTom
    Participant

    Hi Dr DJ…..The link was broken, but that’s OK….I can use Google to find out more about Rev. Grotto.

    United Church’s governance scheme is not to my liking.¬† As they say in politics and crime, “follow the money.”¬† If UC’s central office controls pay checks, they control anything else they care to — such as doctrinal disputes, clergy licenses, etc.

    Re prayer, I agree about 50 percent with Rev. Gretta. I still believe there is a God who hears our prayers….if there were not, why would Jesus pray to Him, and teach others to pray to Him?¬† But since the ways of God are unknowable to us humans, we cannot expect to understand anything about which prayers God answers, what his answer is, etc. We have faith that God dispenses both justice and mercy, but does our prayer make a difference in that equation?¬† Better, imho, to do prayer for reasons that we humans can understand and that science has confirmed — that it makes us and the people we pray for feel cared about and united,¬† in some cases. helping with the healing of a person, or helping them turn away from addiction, depression or suicide, or to perform better in some crucial way.

     

    Daytona Tom

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