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What Has Happened?

Last Sunday, my pastor introduced our congregation to a piece by John Shuck, a Presbyterian minister.  His belief system seems a bit odd; maybe I'm just tired.  He believes the following:


  1. in evolutionary theory. This obviously includes human beings. Evolution and science in general have had major implications regarding theology that we mostly ignore or in our worse moments deny.
  2. in higher criticism of the Bible. The Bible like all other books are human products (what else could they be?) and should be read as such as opposed to special revelation from a divine being.
  3. that all religion is a human construct. Its primary purpose has been and should be an attempt to find and evoke meaning amidst life's contingencies as opposed to speculation regarding supernaturalism.
  4. that "God" functions as a symbol. The concept of "God" is a product of myth-making and "God" is no longer credible as a personal, supernatural being. For me, "God" functions as a shorthand for the Universe and sometimes for qualities and aspirations I wish to pursue or to emulate.
  5. that human consciousness is the result of natural selection. Human beings do not have immortal souls nor will consciousness survive death. Thus there is no afterlife. There is no heaven, no hell, and no need for salvation from one realm to another.
  6. that there is no "end" in human time. Earth is four billion years old. Earth was here long before human beings. Earth will spin on its axis and revolve around the sun long, long after the last human being has breathed her last. We will have to find meaning and our "eschaton" in this life.
  7. that Jesus may have been historical but most of the stories about him in the Bible and elsewhere are legends. But he's cool. He serves as a human ideal and a focal point for devotion (like an ishta deva). 
  8. that industrial civilization is in for a long descent. Peak Oil and Overshoot should be everyday terms in our lexicon. We ought to be putting our religious energies toward spiritual, emotional, and practical preparation for this reality.

Obviously, anyone has the right to believe these things, regardless of how ill-informed, errant or just silly I may think they are.  What should not be alright is to believe these things as a Christian Minister.

Equally disturbing is the number of supportive comments coming not only from laypeople, but from fellow ministers.

Are we finally paying the piper for years of lax doctrine?  I heard a discussion on "Big Business" a while ago.  One of the participants was shocked by how left of centre (politically) they seemed to be.  The response was simple:  The people running the companies in question had matriculated through a modern day education system, been indoctrinated (whether blissfully unaware or blissfully aware), and had met with immediate success financially upon graduation that prevented any deeper investigation of some of the ideas they had learned.  I make no comment on the political side of things here, but perhaps the same observation applies to many of our current Church leaders:  They have been raised on an empty faith, and can therefore offer nothing more.

I believe it was in Willing to Believe that RC Sproul made the basic point that as the Church was in a mad rush to build bridges to an increasingly secular world, it should be careful - traffic goes both ways.  If my memory is correct, what an understatement!

Perhaps the most jawing line of the Patheos piece is this:

And yet, even though I hold those beliefs, I am still a proud minister. But I don’t appreciate being told that I’m not truly a Christian.

This is how far the self-identification obsession has come.  The world does not readjust based on one's attitudes towards reality.  If one holds beliefs like these, that person is not a Christian, and most certainly should not be leading a church in its name.

NOTE: A Toronto area minister of the United Church is currently under review for similar atheistic views.  I'm not sure I want to know how many more of these ministers and churches there are. . . 

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May God richly bless you as you utilize this site to deepen your understanding and appreciation for all He has done.

-Glen Torhjelm, Executive Director