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Wednesday, May 07, 2008

There is no Christianity without Christ

Earliest known icon of Christ as Pantocrator (Almighty)

For by him were all things created, that are in heaven, and that are in earth, visible and invisible, whether they be thrones, or dominions, or principalities, or powers: all things were created by him, and for him; and he is before all things, and by him all things consist. And he is the head of the body, the church: who is the beginning, the firstborn from the dead; that in all things he might have the preeminence. (Col. 1:16-18)

Stirring words, pointing to the centrality of Christ. There can be no Christianity without Jesus Christ - not the Jesus-as-moral-teacher of the modern "progressives," but the one of Whom the Apostle Paul was speaking in the passage quoted above. Remove Him from the edifice and you remove every support. Remove the Cross and you have deprived yourself of God's remedy for what you are. Strip Him of His Deity and you have gutted His demand to obedience and His intrinsic authority to command, so forcefully, in that Sermon on the Mount which seems to be highly prized nowadays. As if that Sermon contained only Matthew 7:1 and not Matthew 7:13.

Or 7:23.

We are nearing the time - it's almost here - when society will drop the pretense of the name of Christian. If only they would do it today, simply call their churches and their selves by another name!

The latest window into apostasy is provided by Canada's National Post, in a story featuring the Rev. Gretta Vosper of West Hill United Church in Toronto.

There is a Bible on a pedestal in Gretta Vosper's West Hill United Church in Toronto. She would prefer it did not have a special place, she said, because it is just a book among other books. In a similar way, the cross that is high above the altar has no special meaning, but there are a few older congregants for whom the Bible and the cross are still nice symbols so there they remain.

Though an ordained minister, she does not like the title of reverend. It is one of those symbols that hold the church back from breaking into the future -- to a time "when the label Christian won't even exist" and the Church will be freed of the burdens of the past. To balance out those symbols of the past inside West Hill, there is a giant, non-religious rainbow tapestry just behind the altar and multi-coloured streamers hang from the ceiling.

"The central story of Christianity will fade away," she explained. "The story about Jesus as the symbol of everything that Christianity is will fade away...."

Ms. Vosper does not believe in the Virgin Birth, the Resurrection, the miracles and the sacrament of baptism. Nor does she believe in the creeds, the presence of Christ in communion or that Jesus was the Son of God.

In With or Without God, her book that was formally launched this week, she writes that Jesus was a "Middle Eastern peasant with a few charismatic gifts and a great posthumous marketing team."

What is striking is the blatancy and self-assuredness, the willingness to reach beyond and no longer even feel the need to appeal to Jesus for anything of substance. Typically, love is all that is said to matter:

The focus of her "spiritual" life is love. And since love is the common bond between all people, it is really the only thing worth believing in.

"Here in the context of seeking out harmony with all things, the purest understanding of those values that enhance and sanctify life becomes the foremost spiritual practice," she writes.

"We call it love, radically inclusive love. It is here, in the caring, challenging, prophetic role with which it is so familiar that the church can really shine."

If only love were the common bond between all people. But, the reality of this life is that Man is at enmity with himself, with others, and with God. The Christ of Christianity is the answer to this problem.

Read the whole thing here.

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