A new era of Christianity dawns in the Diocese of Niagara

The diocesan rag (page 6) lays before the Niagara faithful the path of progress and enlightenment.

Original sin is out, as is propitiatory sacrifice and substitutionary atonement – what is there to atone for, after all? Gone is the Fall, the uniqueness of Christ and, it seems, theism itself. What is left, you might be wondering – evolution.

Change, of course, is difficult so for those feeling a little queasy about tossing out every major tenet of our belief system, the authors of this recipe for interfaith advancement, Rev Wayne Fraser and ACoC Partnership in Mission Officer, Dr Eleanor Johnson, offer the comfort of Missa Gaia. If that doesn’t do it for you, try listening to John Lennon’s Imagine: its emetic properties will induce the inevitable and help quell the waves of theological nausea.

The concept of Original Sin is the key to obsolete beliefs including propitiatory sacrifice and substitutionary atonement.

Likewise, to blame afflicted people for their personal torments is presumptuous in the extreme. God did not create us evil and prone to diseases as punishment for our fallen state.

Humanity is not fallen. Original Sin is not a concept even mentioned in the Bible. Original Blessing, its opposite, is, yet we allow ourselves to be “guilted” about Jesus dying for our sins. Instead, we see the Bible’s claim that God created the human race, all other species, our habitats and “saw that they were very good.”

The God we worship and serve is not an old man living above the clouds. We can call ourselves “a-theists,” people who do not worship a human-like, a human-made God. Many who have left church have done so because of the traditional image of God. Non-theism for most of us still attending church is uncharted territory, a new theological creation. Who or what do we worship?

We must start with a humble reading of the New Testament, with the brilliant hope, peace, joy and love put before us by Jesus. We experience God as an evolving Ground of Being, and the key word is evolution. Here’s where the most radical concept comes in: God is Love, is giving and receiving. God plunges into the breakdown of humanity’s connection to creation as Love in our loving.

We seek the wisdom and faith to explore our human understandings of God, for kindred spirits of other world religions and for this fragile earth, our island home. We see the destruction of the ecosystems and the mass extinctions of fellow creatures as crimes against God and all creation. We believe in caring for all species of creatures and their habitats. We welcome interfaith peace and inclusive justice for all.

A new era of Christianity is here and now but many are afraid to acknowledge it. It is here in our ecumenical and interfaith worship. We must give up our fantasy that Christianity is superior to other religions.

People of all faiths have in common an evolving experience of the Divine. True worship does not care a whit for the forms of our rituals. God gives no one the right to be militant. Jesus commands us to love God, our neighbours and ourselves. Change is difficult, in anything we do. It seems especially challenging in matters of faith.

We must, however, change or atrophy. Instead of condoning all the fears, threats and guilt induced in the past, let us rejoice in the complexity, beauty and mystery of all creation. All people come from God, we are imitators of Emmanuel and we are co-workers with the Holy Spirit.

For the beauty of the Earth,
sing oh sing today.
Of the sky and of our birth,
sing oh sing today.
Nature human and divine,
all around us lies.
Lord of all, to thee we raise
grateful hymns of praise.

—Paul Winter, Missa Gaia

6 thoughts on “A new era of Christianity dawns in the Diocese of Niagara

  1. This is wrong on so many levels. They could start by reading Genesis 3 and then try to find any explicit mention of the Trinity in the Bible. Mind you, I don’t see any mention of the Trinity in the text.

  2. They’re entitled to their religious opinions; but hardly to fund them from charitable donations and investments given for quite another purpose.

  3. Agreement or disagreement with Fraser and Johnson aside, their position does have a fair degree of internal coherence, as do many systems that are closed off from the outside. The crucial outside in this case being the Divine Necessity of the Cross and the Resurrection. To arrive at their position requires such a determinedly selective reading of the New Testament that it suggests as an axiom a tacit assumption of that which they profess to conclude: a circularity of reasoning that to my mind beggars belief in their assertion of a “humble reading”. As Thomas Sowell as pointed out,
    often the appropriate word, when someone embraces a view as if it is special to them and in contrast to those they oppose (do they really think that orthodox Christians are not also concerned about environmental and ecological degradation ?), is sanctimoniousness.

    Of course, their “not an old man living above the clouds” is classic strawman, and is below the level of the sophomoric.

    Their “we experience God as an evolving Ground of Being, and the key word is evolution” has the structure of Swiss Cheese regarding metaphysics and theology.
    Most of the New Atheists would say: fine, but why call it religion using the concept of a deity ?

    The crux of the matter is whether it is fair use of language to espouse such a system and to retain the name Christian/Christianity. At one time what later became to be called Christianity was seen as a movement within the Judaism of the time. Fairly soon the incompatibility was evident, and now Christians and (orthodox/conservative observant) Jews agree that those (cultural) Jews, e.g. Jews for Jesus, who follow Christ should simply call themselves Christian and not doublethink and doubletalk around the words Jew and Judaism. Likewise, Fraser and Johnson, and their like-minded, should see if they can affiliate themselves with whatever non-Christian groups, cease using the epithets of “Christian” and its derivatives, remove the symbol of the cross from their buildings and literature, and – here, perhaps, is the rub – cease being paid from funds that are sourced from Christians.

  4. Just clicked on John Lennon’s “Imagine” and listened to the words. Of course it’s not Christian. But that’s not what we need to tell his audience. Instead, let’s tell them that its sentiments are noble and their fulfillment — their only assured fulfillment — is in Jesus. Let’s learn how to use the best of other world views to show the gospel to those other world views.

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