Envisioning a future in which the Christian church plays a viable and transformative role in shaping society, Gretta Vosper argues that if the church is to survive at all, the heart of faith must undergo a radical change. Vosper, founder of the Canadian Centre for Progressive Christianity and a minister in Toronto, believes that what will save the church is an emphasis on just and compassionate living -- a new and wholly humanistic approach to religion. Without this reform, the church as we know it faces extinction.
Vosper addresses the issues of spiritual fulfillment, comfort and connection in the modern world through a thoughtful and passionate discourse. She urges a renewal of old doctrines but does so with dignity and respect. Offering difficult but penetrating insights into a new generation of spiritually aware -- and spiritually open -- people, With or Without God offers a startling model for a renewed church as a leader in ethics, fostering relationships, meaning and values that are solidly rooted in our own selves.
Writing as if she has been in exile for the past 20 years, United Church of Canada pastor Vosper gazes wide-eyed at the splendors of progressive Christianity as she offers her own idealistic manifesto on the future of the faith. She blunders her way through the history of contemporary Christianity with such gaffes as "For Christians with evangelical roots, the uprising of liberal biblical scholarship that took place in the 1950s and 1960s... needed to be utterly denied," seemingly unaware this scholarly approach has been with us since the 19th century. She then marches superficially through every area of the Christian tradition scripture, belief in the afterlife, assent to creedal statements in her quest to liberate Christianity from its past and present and to humanize the religion. In the end, she proclaims: "we believe there are no supernatural beings, forces, or energies necessary for or even mindful of our survival," and closes with a Woodstock-like benediction: "May we each believe in and hallow the inherent beauty of the other, the earth, and ourselves, and... may the love we learn to share enrich us all." Previously published in Canada.