Why the Church needs Gretta Vosper

Pike spelled out his position in his work, If This Be Heresy" , and Stringfellow graciously simplifies it for us in 3 points:
  • A personal God of the universe,
  • The servant image of Jesus, or the man for others,
  • The ongoing and potential continued development of human personality (even after death).
Stringfellow asserts, Forgive us, bishops one and all, if we profess to discern in these three affirmations a suspicious resemblance to the doctrine of the Trinity." I would go even further, as I'm sure Pike and Stringfellow would 50 years later, that even these terms, including God, Jesus, and the implied Spirit, are powerful symbols that must be continually re-examined and re-articulated for the sake of the contemporary mind. As one Bishop proclaimed in defense of Pike:
" I believe the whole thing‚ I will venture to say there isn't one Bishop here that believes any more than I do and that takes more delight in the worship from that Prayer Book than I do. I believe it from cover to cover, and the Bible too‚ I don't reject one supernaturalistic representation of the Bible,‚ of the creed, of the Prayer Book. I interpret it all symbolically."
I claim that Vosper, rather than blowing her own horn or trying to make a buck off the church while she can— as some have accused— is actually working in the spirit of Bishop Pike to bring about this same honest re-examination of traditional beliefs, polity, and social awareness and action as someone who appreciates the tradition and all it holds dear, but only in a different way than the church would wish. 6. This brings me to my final point where I pretend to be wise enough to offer advice. I ended up in the Vineyard church because, believe it or not, it was more spacious than anywhere else I'd been. I was sorry I had to leave because I considered it my spiritual family. Now, I'm pretty much out of the loop. My loss. Their loss. There is one Vineyard church we visit, but its graciousness is unfortunately a very rare thing. I really did hope that the Vineyard's passion to be relevant would translate into significant internal transformation rather than just the modernization of non-essentials like music styles, dress codes or drinking. I think they lost an opportunity. I'm not talking about me. What I mean is that I feel there came a point in the Vineyard's life where it faced" a fork in the road: change or solidify. It chose solidify. I could no longer stay. The UCC has been given an opportunity here with the Reverend Gretta Vosper. I read the Statement of Faith on the UCC's website, and honestly I'd have to say I was surprised. It came across as far more conservative than I expected. Certainly most of its members would not subscribe to many of their statements, and even more certainly many of their clergy would not either. I know I'm guessing, but I think it's a good guess. The UCC is being given the chance to change or at least re-examine, redefine, and re-articulate, its Statement of Faith. For example, like Pike and Stringfellow, is it possible and allowed to take these statements symbolically? Not only among its membership, as it undoubtedly does to some extent, but among its clergy, as it most certainly does. When I was educated, prepared, and ordained for ministry in the Presbyterian Church in Canada (PCC), we took great pride in looking down on the UCC for its capitulation to and cooperation with the secular powers. We were the hold outs of union, which essentially to us meant compromise. For example, the PCC insisted that it's name be in" Canada, a geographical designation, rather than of" Canada like the UCC, a possessive one." Presbyterians, in my experience, must and love to be exact in their Reformed theology. So we took great delight in charging the UCC with a generic faith. It was a fault. But now, I'm thinking, it is a virtue. Is it fair to say, now to its credit, that the UCC could never be accused of dogmatic orthodoxy? Is it possible that the UCC, in its efforts to be inclusive, are now being invited to be truly inclusive, even of its own members and clergy that are undoubtedly re-examining traditional beliefs? Even in the UCC's own preamble regarding its Statement of Beliefs, it makes a prophecy:
" But Christians of each new generation are called to state it afresh in terms of the thought of their own age and with the emphasis their age needs."
Thankfully, the UCC helped to create the Reverend Gretta Vosper, and she is fulfilling its vision. It is uncomfortable. It is challenging. It is upsetting. But it can also be positively life-changing for the church. It has been invited and it is being done. This is their chance. (*** UPDATE September 8, 2016: Gretta has been deemed unsuitable for ministry. Read the report here.)
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