Wednesday, March 26, 2008

christ out of easter, and everything else 'christian'

Taking Christ out of Christianity

That triumphal barnburner of an Easter hymn, Jesus Christ Has Risen Today - Hallelujah, this morning will rock the walls of Toronto's West Hill United Church as it will in most Christian churches across the country.

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.

I suppose this is largely informative, and I'm not going to say much about the whole thing. And as well, I guess this kind of stuff isn't really all that new, nor is it everywhere.

But one can wonder--why are people like this tolerated in denominations? Vospers can have her opinions, of course, but really, doesn't the denomination have some say on whether they will allow one with her ideas to occupy one of their pulpits?

Or do they agree with her? Or are they afraid to do anything, because she's a woman, and to do something would cause all kind of flak?

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.

Some of her ideas have a ring that is all too familiar. To be fair, I don't know if some others I've read would agree with her or not, but what she's doing does seem much like what they are doing.

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