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The headline reads, “United Church of Canada to Investigate ‘Effectiveness’ of Minister Who Professes Atheism”1. Say what? Is this a hoax? Sounds like something one of those satirical news sites write about. Most unfortuantely, this is not a hoax.

I truly wish it was. This headline and the story surrounding it has to be the most idiotic thing I’ve read in a long time.

What is truly shocking to me is that this revelation of an atheist minister didn’t just happen. In 2001 the minister in question, Rev. Gretta Vosper, told her church (West Hill United in Toronto) that she was an atheist. She made it more publically known in 2004 and has blogged and written about it several times and in 2008 published “With or Without God: Why the way we live is more important than what we believe”. Only now has the Toronto Conference of the United Church of Canada (UCC) called for the review of her ministry.

Executive secretary of the UCC Toronto Conference, Rev David Allen, told the Christian Post that the review is "a formal process within the United Church which is ordered when serious questions have been raised about a minister's effectiveness."

A “minister’s effectiveness”? Hello? Isn’t it obvious? She denies God. She denies Jesus. The Church is the bride of Christ. Without Christ there is no Church.

Truly, the obviousness of the fact that this person is completely unqualified and should be forcibly removed from a pulpit, or headship of any Christian church, doesn’t really need any commentary. I trust that my readers have already face palmed over the mere title of this article. What truly is worth noting is just how truly apostate the United Church of Canada has become.

As The National Post so rightly states from an article from May 14, 2011,

The United Church of Canada, which was formed 86 years ago with the grand vision to bring Protestants together “in one glorious national church,” is undergoing one of the most precipitous slides in modern religious history.

In the midst of a breathtaking erosion in its membership, the church is undertaking what some call a great experiment to redefine itself through an intense engagement with the surrounding secular world; whether it be through advocating for the environment, fighting for the rights of homosexuals to marry or taking on the cause of the Palestinians, the church has attempted to blur the boundaries between religion and the broader society.

Supporters believe this strategy will eventually right the ship because they are following the word of God to engage in the world.

To others, though, the United Church is engaged in a self-destructive act, aiming to be so many things to so many people that it will morph into just another social advocacy group disconnected from 2,000 years of Christian tradition. Critics say there is a severe lack of orthodoxy, lax demands on belief and even too much latitude for ministers who can question the existence of God and the divinity of Christ.2

I believe the term ‘Too much latitude’ is an understatement. Rev. Vosper as we’ve seen above is an Atheist! Let that sink in again. In any other denomination she would be considered a heretic and likely be dumped out on her ear. And yet she is tolerated in some quarters of the United Church, even to the point of enthusiasm – and it has been so since 2011!!!

“I celebrate Gretta and others like her who cause us to think more deeply about the nature of our faith,” said Mardi Tindal, the United Church of Canada’s Moderator.

“One of the things we’re seeing is a greater tolerance for paradox. What Gretta has done has ignited a fresh conversation and invigorated the discussion. This is in the DNA of our Church: to invite this open, deep broad conversation to be the body of Christ....Besides, you can’t talk about post-theism without talking about God,” she explained, pointing out the positive side of having a minister who is an atheist.

How about back in 1997, when then Moderator, Bill Phipps said that the divinity of Jesus and the reality of hell were irrelevant.

“I don’t believe Jesus was God, but I’m not theologian,” the Reverend said.

The United Church of Canada worries that its numbers are plummeting. Since their peak of over one million congregants in the 1960’s people have left the church in droves. And after reading only a little about them, there is no need to wonder why. They have long since been a Christian Church. They are no more effective than a clubhouse of likeminded people. There can be no Church where Christ is not the head.

The saddest thing in all of this. Is that despite the writing on the wall. Despite the rank heresy professed from within her ranks, there are still over 300,000 Canadians that call the UCC their home. Pray for them. Witness to them. They need to hear the Gospel. And praise be to God that their pews are emptying out, and people are fleeing from such apostasy.

"Who is a liar but he that denieth that Jesus is the Christ? He is antichrist, that denieth the Father and the Son. Whosoever denieth the Son, the same hath not the Father:…" 1 John 2:22-23

Serving the King,

J.R. Hall

Endnotes:

  1. United Church of Canada to Investigate 'Effectiveness' of Minister Who Professes Atheism, Michael Gryboski, May 30, 2015 Source Article
  2. The split in the United Church, Charles Lewis, The National Post, May 14, 2011 Source Article