Liberals should be required to explain how an atheist woman (lesbian?) can lead a church to a deeper faith in God.
She can’t. But in the name of tolerance and inclusion, the left demands that atheists be church pastors.
Well, why not? Pope Francis is probably either an atheist or an agnostic Marxist.
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.
“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.”
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 the committee was to find that Vosper should be put on the “Discontinued Service List” — the most severe outcome she could face — there would have to be a further hearing at the national level of the church.
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.
Some argue it will reinvent a struggling church with declining attendance. Others believe it will destroy it.
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.”
Until recently, Vosper’s unorthodox approach was welcomed by the United Church of Canada, a historically inclusive and open-minded Protestant denomination founded in 1925, when Presbyterians, Methodists and Congregationalists formed a union. It is a church that has always avoided setting boundaries on the scope of acceptable beliefs. Vosper, whose Twitter bio boasts, “Irritating the church into the 21st century,” has pushed the limits of that openness.
In challenging Vosper’s suitability for ministry, the church took the unprecedented step of asking itself whether there is a line. The majority of the 23-member review decided she has crossed it.
In the past, top elected church leaders, known as moderators, have enthusiastically come to Vosper’s defence, whether they agree with her or not. No one questioned her in 2008 when she published her first book, With or Without God: Why the Way We Live Is More Important Than What We Believe, or a few years later when she published her second, Amen: What Prayer Can Mean in a World Beyond Belief.
The tipping point came three years ago, when Vosper adopted a new label: atheist.
The West Hill congregation has stood behind her through it all.Others have balked — calling her a heretic, an abomination, a provocateur — and demanded to know why an atheist is allowed to preach from a Christian pulpit.
Things escalated in January 2015, when she wrote an open letter to then-moderator Rev. Gary Paterson in response to a prayer published on the United Church of Canada website for those killed in the Charlie Hebdo attacks, arguing the use of religious language reinforced the belief that motivated the killings: the existence of a supernatural God.
In May 2015, Toronto Conference announced that it planned to review Vosper’s fitness to be a minister, and asked Nora Sanders, general secretary of the United Church, to create a procedure for doing so.
A United Church minister can only be reviewed for alleged ineffectiveness or insubordination. The Sanders decision tied Vosper’s effectiveness to her “suitability.” A minister who is not suitable, Sanders ruled, cannot be effective. To assess suitability, Sanders wrote, a review committee may ask the minister to answer the ordination questions again, starting with: do you believe in God?
Vosper filed an appeal seeking to halt the review, arguing it would redefine the nature of ministry in the United Church and reduce the diversity of beliefs that could be expressed within the denomination. In March, the Church announced that the review would proceed.
The left is seeking to place leaders in churches who are social justice warriors of the left, rather than believers in the Bible.
Egalitarianism is intended to replace a real spiritual life. Negro worship and the worship of the nonwhite races is part of the agenda.
This perverted form of Christianity already widely exists. I suspect many of the pastors of liberal churches do not believe in God or the Bible.
This rejection of true Christianity in favor of universalism offers a reason for whites to embrace Odinism and other tribal pagan belief systems that predate Christianity.
Read more about Gretta Vosper at Wikipedia.