Tuesday, March 31, 2015

Content-Free Christianity

Christianity ... without all the nasty Christian bits.
Watch out: it’s catching on.

I mean, I thought Gretta Vosper was impressively brassy. (For those unfamiliar with Gretta, she’s the atheist United Church minister and author who doesn’t believe in the historical Christ. She has a congregation of less than 50 and thinks things are great. And don’t forget, you can have her new book Amen delivered to your door for just a little over Cdn$45 if you suspect she might have something profound to say about ... not believing.)

But though she’d be content to amend the word “God” to read “good” and carry on with many of the traditional forms tweaked only slightly, at least she seems to understand that she is not a Christian.

This guy, on the other hand, takes the cake — at least as much cake as I can stomach in one sitting. John Shuck is a Presbyterian minister who, like Gretta Vosper, does not believe in God. Oh, he believes Jesus Christ was a historical figure but all the other stories about him, according to Shuck, are “legends”.

The problem is that, unlike his fellow pastor, John would like to retain his nominal association with the Lord he doesn’t believe in. Maybe he thinks the brand is more marketable, or maybe he hasn’t quite figured out what you call faith without its Object. But Mr. Shuck gets downright testy if you don’t acknowledge him as “Christian”. Christian Today says:
“Shuck also used the article to say that he takes offence at not being called a Christian. The minister said that while he rejects the Bible as literal truth, and denies the existence of Heaven and Hell, he is still a ‘proud minister.’

He asserted that there are many liberal or progressive Christians who have ‘de-emphasised’ their belief in the concept of Heaven and Hell, as well as belief in Jesus Christ’s supernatural nature, the truthfulness of the Bible and of Christianity being the only true way.

‘Yet they still practise what they call Christianity,’ Shuck said.”
A “proud minister” of what, precisely?

You can call it what you like, but whatever it is, it is not Christianity. When you deny — sorry, I mean “de-emphasize” — belief in heaven and hell, the deity of Jesus Christ, the uniqueness of his sacrifice as a way to God and the truth of scripture, what exactly are you left with?

I’m reminded of what John tells us:
“No one who denies the Son has the Father. Whoever confesses the Son has the Father also.”
Of course, if you don’t believe there is a “Father” to be had, what does it matter how you come, or whether you come at all?

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