Do you know the name Gretta Vosper? She is a United Church minister serving in the Toronto area. She is a published author and has been featured on CBC radio, CTV’s Canada AM, and the United Church’s own publication, “the Observer”. Gretta has garnered a lot of media attention because of one particular assertion; she is a self described atheist.
Many find it incredible that a person can be an ordained minister and an atheist but Gretta does not see this as a conflict. She is currently under formal review by the church to determine whether or not she can continue in ministry. To hear more on this listen to the podcast of the CBC documentary by following the link:http://www.cbc.ca/player/play/2681657542/
A few comments and observations of my own:
1. Gretta identifies God as a heavenly, interventionist being. While this is one aspect of God described in the bible it is not the totality of God and is far too limited a definition. Many ministers and many Christians would not emphasize those aspects of the divine and yet believe in God.
2. Gretta treats the faith language in what I find to be a heavy handed, literal fashion while most people of faith understand it to be more poetic and metaphorical.
3. Gretta says that we must choose our own morality and not rely on God to tell us how to act. This, she believes, would raise our sense of morality by making us more personally accountable. I cannot agree. In the complexity of our relationship with God we are choosing our path in life and we are accountable but we acknowledge that the values to which we should aspire are beyond our own personal interests.
These are but a few reflections after hearing Gretta. I would love to hear your reactions. Please feel free to comment on this story.
By the way, the CBC documentary did not make clear the United Church’s processes. The church’s review has been established to determine whether or not Gretta can still affirm her ordination vows. She has challenged that basis of a review arguing that the church has no policy to re ask the questions of ordination. That matter is before our judicial body. Ministers are not dismissed lightly and so this conversation will continue for some time.