A fellow named “Shane” posted a very revealing comment at Gretta Vosper’s blog today which succinctly summarizes the chasm that separates her version of “Christianity” from that identified by historic Christian orthodoxy. Shane writes:
“For me, Christian Atheism is about the values that we as humans have developed and associated with the Christian story, not about “believing” certain truth claims that are demonstrably false or massively implausible, like the resurrection, virgin birth or even the existence of a “God”. If Christianity can’t incorporate such views, that’s pretty sad, and declares the triumph of mere belief over values. It’s confusing the wrapping with the present.”
Nicely stated. In the view of Shane, and it would seem of Vosper as well, the various doctrines that have historically defined Christianity (God’s existence, virgin birth, resurrection, etc.) should be understood as dispensable husks. The real kernel of gospel truth, that which is important for all time, is captured in three words: Love one another.
Shane’s final metaphor is a revealing one: you keep a present but you discard the wrapping (unless you’re one of those old-school thrifty grandmas who carefully removes the tape and folds the paper to reuse it next Christmas). And Shane clearly envisions something like this: keep loving one another, but recognize that Christian doctrines are the dispensable husk.
While the wrapping metaphor suggests that we should move beyond the mythology of symbols and narratives (once you’ve opened the gift you can throw away the Christmas wrapping paper), I suspect that Shane may be open to folks remythologizing to the extent that doing so would protect and nurture those all-important values.
There are two problems with this picture. The first, as I’ve already noted in earlier articles, is that this picture isn’t Christian. Perhaps it is secular humanist, it could be Unitarian universalist, but it most certainly is not Christian.
The second problem is that folks like Shane and Gretta Vosper are openly hostile to the view that Christian doctrines are something more than dispensable Iron Age and Roman Age myths. In other words, they’re openly hostile to Christianity. They criticize and denigrate Christian doctrines as dispensable wrapping paper, reducing the rest of us who insist that it is essential to being old-school thrifty grandmas.
Consider Shane’s bald contempt for Christian doctrines which he dismisses as “demonstrably false” and “massively implausible” and which he places in condescending scare quotes.
Vosper’s attitude toward orthodox Christianity is similarly caustic: she views it as outmoded and harmful and she’s been actively campaigning against it for three years as she seeks to promote an atheistic agenda within the United Church.
And now, when the church finally begins an inquiry into her doctrinal views, it’s supposed to be the church that is intolerant?