With or Without God by Gretta VosperWith or Without God by Gretta Vosper

With or Without God

byGretta Vosper

Hardcover | March 18, 2008

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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.

GRETTA VOSPER, author of the national bestsellerWith or Without God, is pastor of West Hill United Church in Toronto, and founder of the Canadian Centre for Progressive Christianity. She received her master of divinity from Queen’s Theological College in 1990 and was ordained in 1992. Vosper is a widely sought-after speaker and is regu...
Title:With or Without GodFormat:HardcoverDimensions:400 pages, 9.41 × 7.24 × 1 inPublished:March 18, 2008Publisher:HarperCollinsLanguage:English

The following ISBNs are associated with this title:

ISBN - 10:1554682282

ISBN - 13:9781554682287

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Rated 1 out of 5 by from Author is more a Agnostic - Humanist that Christian Author is more like an Agnostic. She is not a true christian. Does not believe in God and Jesus, just the moral concept of God. It is not hard to tell that she does not have a relationship with God. She does not seem to get that fact that you have a relationship with God not a Religion. Her religion to me is one of a "New World Order", one of the Anti Christ..coming to a city near you.
Date published: 2009-10-02
Rated 1 out of 5 by from Author is more like an Agnostic. Author is more like an Agnostic. She is not a true christian. Does not believe in God and Jesus, just the moral concept of God. It is not hard to tell that she does not have a relationship with God. She does not seem to get that fact that you have a relationship with God not a Religion. Her religion to me is one of a "New World Order", one of the Anti Christ..coming to a city near you.
Date published: 2009-10-02
Rated 5 out of 5 by from a breath of fresh air It should come as no surprise that, today, we are witnessing a problematic and dangerous shift in focus about belief (or non-belief) in God. Gretta Vosper’s book, With Or Without God will be dismissed by those for whom God is not to be debated but defended at all costs. But God has become a problem for many others. A significant number of these persist in their “spiritual search” within the context of today’s resurgence of religious fundamentalism and the latest critical and scientific thinking. They cannot accept the supernatural God of a dogmatic Christianity - the Almighty, the lawgiver and judge who "convicts the world of sin". For them this book may well come as a breath of fresh air. Gretta Vosper challenges Christians to address the ‘God problem”, recognizing this will change the very nature of Christianity. Hers is a prophetic voice that is directed at long held interpretations, values, and priorities and calls for their review. She is in good company. “A prophet is not without honour except in his (or her) own country and own house.” 'With Or Without God' shares the dreams and visions of new possibilities for a Christianity Vosper believes has otherwise become so obstructed by its words and rituals, it no longer resonates with contemporary life. Like the radical reformers of the sixteenth century, she is tired of reinterpreting religious language and symbols that have been misused so long. It is a struggle to find alternatives to the jargon of "Christ", "God", "sin", and “eucharist” to name but a few. But is she asking us to "toss out the baby with the bath water”? Not so. Vosper is concerned to save that child and have it achieve a credible maturity full of grace and compassion. Practitioners of religion who seek to be progressive are not all in the same place nor do they carry the same baggage. This needs to be stressed. Vosper reflects on her Christian experience as practiced, for the most part, within the United Church of Canada - a Protestant denomination of calvinist and liberal roots where emphasis is placed upon the authority of the spoken Word. She makes assumptions that challenge others to address their sacramental theologies and liturgical traditions. Some will protest there is more than one theory of the atonement, and there are several sacramental theologies. Vosper responds, “Where the shoe fits, wear it.” I take exception to the subtitle of Vosper’s book “Why the way we live is more important than what we believe”. It makes a wonderfully provocative statement for a book cover. But if you open up that cover, you’ll never find it written on the pages in between. Far from it! Instead, Gretta Vosper stresses her point that it is the way we live our lives that reflects what we believe and hold as being sacred. Gretta Vosper exposes dilemmas faced by every thinking Christian and she indicates where there is possibility of reform. Some will seek responsible change from within their Christian tradition, others from without. “With Or Without God” should help provoke that change. The road of progress for those who follow Jesus invites them to live with questions and to follow the way of compassion. It requires them to bear one another’s burdens. With Or Without God.will assist them in their search to make sense of their lives, the world, and of the nagging notion of something greater that has created and sustains it all.
Date published: 2008-04-15
Rated 1 out of 5 by from Gretta Vosper does not prove her point C. S. Lewis, a scholar Catholics, Protestants, and Hollywood admire, used the term "Chronological Snobbery" to refer to the tendency people have to believe something is true simply because it is contemporary. Logically, each argument should be assessed according to its own merits and weaknesess instead. Vosper's book speaks as if contemporary liberal scholars are right simply because they are contemporary. For example, Vosper says that the resurrection of Jesus was not necessarily an historical event--thereby giving preference to modern liberal scholars instead of early documents. Although she looked at the gospels, she ignored the earliest account of the resurrection given in 1st Corinthians--and even liberal scholars agree that the Apostle Paul wrote this letter around 55 AD. He wrote: "For what I received I passed on to you as of first importance: that Christ died for our sins according to the Scriptures, that he was buried, that he was raised on the third day according to the Scriptures, and that he appeared to Peter, and then to the Twelve. After that, he appeared to more than five hundred of the brothers at the same time, most of whom are still living, though some have fallen asleep. Then he appeared to James, then to all the apostles, and last of all he appeared to me also, as to one abnormally born." (NIV) It's about 30 years after the death of Elvis Presley, and there is little evidence that he is still alive. After his death, Elvis did not appear to a dozen of his closest friends, and then briefly restart his career in front of a group of 500 people simultaneously. Yet historical accounts of more preposterous things, such as the lunar landing and the atomic bomb, are so compelling I can't help but believe them. I truly admire Vosper's emphasis on living honestly & ethically; I also appreciate how favourably she speaks of the Evangelical church and the Bible even though she believes differently. But I wonder if her book "With or without God" should actually be taken literally.
Date published: 2008-04-12
Rated 1 out of 5 by from An Inconsistent Effort Canadian United Church pastor (Westhill United Church in Toronto - www.warmplace.ca ) and now author Gretta Vosper's book, titled With or Without God should really be titled Without God because that's essentially where it leads; another fitting title would be Throwing the Baby (Jesus) Out With the Bath Water. By the end of the book Vosper describes the heritage of Christianity (and essentially all forms of belief in the supernatural) as human dreams and nothing more. There is no room for God in what she calls "progressive Christianity". It is amazing that she can be considered a Christian pastor, literally one who is called by Christ to shepherd people in The Way, given she doesn't even promote a belief in God let alone the divinity of Christ, etc. The appendix to the book is a description of a Theistic and a non-theistic (why not say Atheistic - that's what it is) service. The preference is clearly toward the non-theistic church service. The book is inconsistently footnoted and often vast, sweeping statements and assumptions are made without any external reference (see p.89 which references Emperor Constantine's motivations for converting). This particular style of developing the argument is similar to that of Baigent, Leigh & Lincoln in their book Holy Blood, Holy Grail - for their effort the first letters of their last names came to form an apt acronym. I would be lying if I didn't say that the massive amount of coverage for this book in Macleans and the CBC didn't disappoint me primarily for it's one-sidedness. There is no care to bother to interview orthodox Christian scholars but rather any reference to this side of Christianity is made by those who staunchly oppose it. Well - for what it's worth everything Vosper has to say in this book has been said before and far more eloquently by the likes of Marcus Borg, John Shelby Spong, and John Dominic Crossan (none of whom I agree with but scholars all). Vosper is also the chair of the group - Progressive Christianity (http://progressivewchristianity.ca). All in all this book is less substance than a kind of a cultural bookmark not unlike the kind emerging secular leaders are "required" to publish in order to move to a higher level of leadership in the culture. This book feels the same - like an attempt to establish Vosper rather than to promote serious dialogue.
Date published: 2008-04-09
Rated 5 out of 5 by from This is an amazing book! Reverend Gretta Vosper is the minister of West Hill United Church in Scarborough, and the founder and Chair of the Canadian Centre for Progressive Christianity. Gretta has drawn the ire of many traditional church folks because of the way she is "pushing the envelope" of what it means to be the Christian Church in the 21st century. I have always felt an affinity for Gretta Vosper for her honesty, her sincerity, and for the courage and integrity of her search for meaning and personal truth, no matter where it leads her, even down uncomfortable paths. She courageously challenges much of the comfortable and security aspects of the faith, even when it undercuts the security of "traditional" Christian faith as espoused by those in church leadership. Many of the controversial figures of present day liberal Christianity are seen as strident and even arrogant as they articulate their particular viewpoint about the church. However, despite her intellectual prowess and the high respect she engenders in "progressive" circles, Gretta is gentle and caring, and has a surprisingly vulnerable side to her personality. In my all my contacts with her she has always been warm and gracious. When I attended her church some time ago, she introduced me to her congregation and even used part of one of my articles for her children's story! This excellent book lays out many of her views on "Progressive Christianity". She not only takes a swipe at conservative and literalistic expressions of Christianity, but even suggests that liberalism falls far short of the changes that are needed. This is a powerful book as it challenges all liberal and progressive thinkers to deeply examine where they are going and how to continue their journey. It doesn't just push the existing boundaries of Christian thinking, but in many cases, hammers them. You may say "wow!" and "gulp!" as you read page after page of this book. For some it will be frightening, and for others it may be angrily rejected, because it certainly challenges religious security systems. She urges a radical reworking of Christianity, far beyond the mere "tinkering" we have done so far with inclusive language in hymns and liturgy, modern biblical translations, modern music, use of updated technology etc. There will be those who will say that she has gone too far in her examination of the Bible, God, and Jesus - that she has overstepped the boundaries. But to use these charges as a basis for rejecting all of the ideas presented in this book would be a enormous mistake. We need this kind of deeply insightful, critical analysis at the raw edges of our understanding to challenge us to think and to discover what is meaningful for our spiritual journey into the twenty first century. Gretta does not hold back from critical examination of any aspect of Christian history, theology, or practice. There are many "sacred cows" that fall under her perceptive scrutiny, and in many cases are found wanting. Her critique of the words of Jesus as they apply to our time is especially provocative. She even questions the usefulness of the Bible, and the word "God" with all its different interpretations and imagery. As a member of the clergy herself, she takes aim at many in church leadership (but not all of them) for their collective failure to bring modern scholarship to the popular pulpit, and to update the liturgy, music and all other aspects of worship accordingly. It will be enlightening to see how church leaders will react to this book. Will they simply fall back on the traditional "knee jerk" defensive positions, or will they be open-minded enough to look for the deep truth in her words and respond thoughtfully. As the laity read this book there will be a variety of reactions form "Wow!", to "Oh my God!" to "Holy Sh**!". To my mind, this book is a landmark addition to the literature of "Progressive Christianity". It is the most comprehensive book on the subject that I have ever read. Many other "progressives" are good at deconstruction and (validly) pointing out what they think is wrong with contemporary Christianity, but very few are good at suggesting solutions. Gretta Vosper is the exception, and she does it through the appendix to the book which is called "A Toolkit". The Toolkit provides a highly detailed set of ideas, options and resources for those who want to take progressive worship to its farthest limits. It covers language, different kinds of prayers, symbols, clerical garb, Baptism, Communion, the service, the music, the readings, adult faith affirmations, and congregational responses. She analyses each of these, and presents examples from her own progressive congregation. So my advice to those who are not faint of heart - read this book, it is a gem! Reviewed by Doug Richards
Date published: 2008-03-27