Sure enough, I did.
Reverend Connie denBok says to sum up what is wrong with the United Church of Canada, one need look no further than the name of the panel discussion being held tonight in Toronto.
"Shouldn't the United Church Just Throw in the Towel?" is the opening event of a four-day Church-sponsored conference that will look at the future of the country's largest Protestant denomination.
I don't agree with women minister's generally speaking. However, denBok is right on the money.
[denBok] points to Gretta Vosper, a fellow minister who recently wrote a book called With Or Without God, as a prime example of what is wrong. Ms. Vosper, who disdains the title Reverend, said she does not believe in anything remotely Christian, let alone anything religious: not God, not the divinity of Jesus, nor the sacraments or the centrality of the Bible in Church life.
"I cannot really fathom with integrity why she works within the broad spectrum of United Church theology and practice," Rev. denBok said. "But I think Gretta is simply the visible symptom of much deeper malaise."
Rev. denBok said the leadership sets the tone for the kind of theological training that is taught in seminaries, and the result has been a disaster.
Some time ago I sent an email to the local radio station about this very thing. The discussion was on religion and the fact that three United Church congregations in my area have shrunk to such a degree that they are now being amalgamated into one. Here is the letter I wrote at the time:
I am an ardent church-goer and have been my entire life. Both my family and my husband's family are regular attenders. My parents attend a Pentecostal church, his parents attend a Free Reformed church and we attend a United Reformed church (similar to the Free Reform). However, your question regarding the role of church in one's life misses the point. It's not about church attendance but about God and our obedience to Him. We don't just "do church." Our walk encompasses our entire life. We desire to do His will... no easy thing in an age where religion (especially Christianity) is scorned. We aren't just Christians on Sundays, Easter and Christmas. We are to live our lives in a godly way throughout the week. Church attendance provides no benefit whatsoever if one's religion is not put into practice throughout the week. It doesn't make you a better person or less of a sinner. It just becomes something to fill a Sunday.
It's not a social group for peer support.
We attend out of obedience and love for God. We desire to hear His Word (which comes through preaching). We desire to meet and fellowship with our fellow Christians and we are spiritually fed so that we are strong (again, spiritually) for the coming week.
It is no surprise to me that membership of the United Church is in decline. The United Church abandoned preaching the truth a long time ago. As such, God does not bless their efforts. Only churches that preach the truth and are faithful to the Bible experience growth.
(You should have heard the guy read it. I nearly died! He had "that tone." You know, the one that says "I can't believe you said that." He prefaced my comment with "And listen to what she says at the end..." followed by a few seconds of silence after he finished.)
Note what denBok says:
Rev. denBok... said the United Church has moved from being a Christ-centred body to become a "government-sponsored social club" in which all classic Christian doctrines are open to question...
"If we had a medical school that kept turning out graduates who consistently killed their patients, would we not ask some questions about the education?"...
[She] is not expecting a warm reception tonight but feels it is important that someone raise the question on which she believes the entire future of the Church turns.
"We have a huge number of deeply demoralized clergy, congregations dwindling and dying, and either we say, 'Gosh, we've hit a dead end and should consider changing direction,' or we say, 'Our direction has been a good and righteous one and we're not getting anywhere with it and we should shut the whole organization down."
I almost wish I was attending.
It ought to be a fiery night.