Dietrich Bonheoffer denounced liberal Proetstantism because it preached cheap grace: “Cheap grace is preaching forgiveness without requiring repentance, baptism without church discipline, Communion without confession. … Cheap grace is grace without discipleship, grace without the cross, grace without Jesus Christ, living and incarnate.”

 A leading minister of the United Church in Canda has decided the the next step is Taking Christ out of Christianity.”  Seriously. The Rev Gretta Vosper, of the West Hill United Church in Toronto, has decided to excise Jesus from the Easter liturgy: 

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. 

The Rev. Vosper wants to Schliermacherize Christianity completely:

She wants salvation redefined to mean new life through removing the causes of suffering in the world. She wants the church to define resurrection as “starting over,” “new chances.” She wants an end to the image of God as an intervening all-powerful authority who must be appeased to avoid divine wrath; rather she would have congregations work together as communities to define God – or god – according to their own worked-out definitions of what is holy and sacred. She wants the eucharist – the symbolic eating and drinking of Jesus’s body and blood to make the congregation part of Jesus’s body – to be instead a symbolic experience of community love.Theologians asked to comment on her book said they wouldn’t until they’ve read it. But one of her colleagues who knows her well, Rev. Rob Oliphant, the progressive pastor of Toronto’s Eglinton St. George’s United Church, said, “While I’m somewhat sympathetic to the aims of it all – getting rid of the nonsense and keeping the core faith – I think that there is something lacking in it all. Gone is metaphor, poetry, symbol, image, beauty, paradox.”

For some reason she thinks that the world will flock to this Christianity without Christ.   Vosper seems to unaware of her literary antecedents in Flannery O’Connor’s Wise Blood and the church of truth without Jesus Christ crucified. She might do well to read that story.

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