Laurie-Ann

The United Church of Canada

Moderator Controversy:

Bill Phipps and Responses

Christian Apologetics

Dr. James Beverley

Tyndale Seminary

May 14, 1998


Statement of Acknowledgement and Thanks

I wish to thank Dr. Bob and Mrs. Verna Blackburn for their encouragement and articles from the renewal groups and the Lutheran bishop, Dr. John Trueman for encouragement, Dr. Graham Scott for encouragement and the latest Theological Digest & Outlook, and Dr. James Beverley for his ongoing encouragement and interest.

Thanks also to Dr. Victor Shepherd for his encouragement and insight, Dr. Andrew Stirling for his encouragement and kindness, Al Clarkson for hard copy newspaper articles, Jacquie Lyn for all the Calgary Herald articles, David Fisher for his newest article, the Moderator packet and encouragement.

Thank you also to Mary-Frances Denis for where to find more responses from both sides, and for her understanding about my confusion that there really is only one conference for Alberta. (Having grown up in Ontario, where there are more than one conference, I was confused.)

Thank you also to various UCC people who have Internet response sites. These include: Mark Fearnall (Shawville QC), Brian Wilkie (Ottawa ON), and Wayne Wilson (COC) and especially Tony Copple (Kanata ON) . Thanks also to Terry Harris for taping the Pamela Wallin interview for me, and to the rest of the 1997-98 OTS Student Council for allowing me to use the Internet for this project in our shared office. Without this assistance this paper would not have been possible.

Thanks also to the authors of the appendices section, to Ron Piggott for his HTML coding, and to Tony Copple for e-publishing this paper.

I also regret that Bill Phipps was unable to respond to my e-mail concerning this paper, but he was away in Africa.   -   Laurie-Ann Zachar


Table of Contents

Statement of Acknowledgement and ThanksPage 02
Table of Contents Page 03
IntroductionPage 05
Bill Phipps the manPage 06
Bill Phipps "Prophet in a Baseball Cap"Page 07
Bill Phipps the PastorPage 08
Bill Phipps' ElectionPage 09
Bill Phipps the Moderator: Confusion with the Moderator Role?Page 10
Past Controversial ModeratorsPage 11
The ControversyPage 12
Theological Issues Raised: Christology Page 15
Theological Issues Raised: ResurrectionPage 17
Theological Issues Raised: Heaven/HellPage 18
Theological Issues Raised: Biblical AuthorityPage 18
Theological Issues Raised: Other Apologetical IssuesPage 20
Theological Issues Raised: The Virgin BirthPage 21
Theological Issues Raised: MiraclesPage 21
Theological Issues Raised: Influence From Process Thought in the Problem of Pain and Evil Page 22
Theological Issues Raised: Influence from panentheismPage 22
The Cost of the Controversy: Exodus continues from the UCCPage 24
The Cost of the Controversy: M&S Fund continues to declinePage 26
The Cost of the Controversy: Cost to the GospelPage 27
The Moderator's wording issue: word smith or contextualization?Page 28
Concern of Over-Contextualization: Is the Gospel Lost?Page 30
From "Repent and Resign" to Applause: Why the Continuum?Page 32
Responses in the United Church: Renewal Groups Page 34
Responses in the United Church: Opposed Clergy Page 34
Responses in the United Church: Opposed LaityPage 36
Responses in the United Church: Seminary Students: Emerging Leaders Page 37
Responses in the United Church: The Christmas Confession Page 37
Responses in the United Church: Supportive Clergy Page 39
Responses in the United Church: Supportive Laity Page 39
Responses in the United Church: Phipps' congregation Page 40
Responses in the United Church: Phipps' presbytery and conference Page 41
Responses in the United Church: Other supportive presbteries Page 41
Responses in the United Church: General Council ExecutivePage 42
Diversity of Gifts and UnderstandingsPage 42
What is Essential Agreement?Page 44
In the sister churches: Clergy Page 45
In the sister churches: Laity Page 46
Romans 8:28 - All Things Work to the Good for those who love GodPage 47
Dialogue: The Guttenberg Net Page 47
Conclusion Page 48
EndnotesPage 49
Sources Consulted and CitedPage 73
Appendices: Shift of LiberalizationPage 83
Appendices: Resurrection through the New CurriculumPage 83
Appendices: To the Moderator: Laurie-Ann ZacharPage 83
Appendices: Response: John Trueman, Community of ConcernPage 84
Appendices: Response: Dave Snihur, National Alliance of Covenanting Congregations

Page 85

Appendices: Response: Gail Reid, Fellowship Magazine Page 85
Appendices: Response: Graham Scott, Church Alive Page 86
Appendices: On Doubt Page 87
Appendices: Concerned Clergy: Mark Fearnall Page 88
Appendices: Supporters : "Darren L." Page 89
Appendices: "Drop the Issue": Iain Macdonald Page 91
Appendices: The Moderator's Congregation: Ronald Read Page 91
Appendices: What Would Jesus Say? Jim Wallace, Calgary Herald Page 92


The Rt. Rev. Bill Phipps is the new and controversial moderator of the United Church of Canada. Within a few months of office, he 'turned the church upside down' with comments that seriously downplayed Jesus' divinity, the resurrection, the reality of heaven and hell, and the reliability of scripture. Since then he has been both praised and denounced, both within and without the UCC. Is he the "prophet in a baseball cap"1 or is he a heretic?2 Is he a compassionate activist who understands the suffering of the oppressed, or is he a radical liberal who knows how to cleverly manipulate words?3 Is he indeed a cobra who can be crass and crude?4 At first the choice seems easy, until one gets to know him. Can someone this likeable be capable of such deception? Or is he simply spiritually blind to some of the core truths of our faith while very sensitive to others? He is hopeful in the controversy generating discussion of Jesus both within the Church and in the surrounding Canadian culture. Yet, who is Jesus to the Rt. Rev. Phipps? These are not easy questions, but along this journey, we may discover who Bill Phipps is, as well as the inclusive church of diversity in which he is a leader.

Is the new moderator representative of all the United Church in his beliefs? This question can be answered with a loud "No!" This denomination includes many different types, including liberals and evangelicals, of a wide variety along the continuum of both streams. One of the ways in which the variety could be understood is in the work of outreach. "It may mean a preaching mission for some, or work for social justice for others. Some church members would describe themselves as evangelical; others would not. According to a 1981 Observer poll, 10 per cent of the United Church would consider themselves to be evangelical."5 Many of these people left after the 1988-90 crisis over 'the Issue.'6 However, due to recent statistics as reported by former moderator Marian Best, the number of UCC people involved in the renewal groups are 5%, although there may be some who are not as vocal.7

Bill Phipps the Man

Bill Phipps was born in Toronto on May 4, 1942 to a 'staunch' United Church home. His father Reginald was an Eaton's accountant who was strongly relational with family, church and friends. In this atmosphere he learned about social justice through his father's volunteer work at inner-city missions, and unconditional love from his mother.8 He later returned this loving presence to his mother when she was dying in 1981. "He's never been afraid to be with someone in pain" says Carolyn Pogue-Phipps, "Most of us are afraid of the darker side of life. Bill isn't. He'd simply calls it life."9 He continued to stand unafraid in situations of suffering, whether in inner-city Toronto, New York and Chicago, in war-torn Nicaragua, or in being present with dying step-children. Part of his 'prophetic' concern of outreach to the downtrodden comes from what he has personally witnessed. After he graduated from Osgoode Law School, he spent a summer with Brooklyn Presbyterian Church when the surrounding area was dangerous. "It was a summer of riots and soldiers on the streets, [... where] the church [was] trying to be the church in a war zone."10 Later, he attended Chicago's McCormick Theological School on a three-year scholarship, where he learned from Saul Alinski, marched with Martin Luther King Jr., and worked in a children's leukaemia ward.11 In 1969, he was ordained, continued working on his law degree, and in community work.12 He was admitted to the Law Society of Upper Canada the following year.13 After pastoring in Trinity St.Paul's in downtown Toronto,14 he moved to Alberta in 1983 "where he took an administrative job as executive secretary for the church's Alberta and Northwest Territories conference [...]"15 It was during this time that his first marriage ended in divorce.

After visiting Nicaragua during their horrible civil war,16 he continued as executive secretary, and working with the Division of Mission in Canada.17 He also protested with the Lubicon Cree. As executive secretary, he was also involved with the Issue (over gay ordination) that buffeted the church in 1988. He also served all courts of the church in a variety of ways, including being a General Council commissioner to eight General Councils.18 In 1990, he married writer Carolyn Pogue (who used to work for the United Church Observer), and moved to pastor Calgary's Scarboro United in 1993.19 Shortly after their marriage, two of Carolyn's children died within two years. They chose to redeem their time of grief by an outreach to others in pain. Each Christmas their church has a "Hard to Be Merry Christmas service"20 He is also both an avid baseball and hockey fan, listens to jazz and classical music, spends much time alone to replenish energy, and takes long walks with his wife in the nearby mountains.21

Phipps' weaknesses, according to parishoner Mary Beard are "that he over-extends himself, [...] is impatient with stupidity and he's impulsive."22 A colleague from Edmonton also adds that "he is quite hesitant. He tries to make everybody feel included. He's very upset personally when people feel their faith is threatened by what he says [meaning cost of the controversy]."23 Pogue-Phipps also adds that he is somewhat of a romantic, that he is open, "[...] and that [he has] no hidden agenda. It's all there."24 Loyalty and friendship are also very important to him as he described in the Pamela Wallin interview.25 His friend 'Jake' Williams, whom he met in a sand-box at age 5 continues to be an metaphoric reminder to him that one can strongly disagree, yet still love unconditionally.26 Behind this commitment seems to be Phipps' view of dialogue, in which differences are discussed in 'love,' otherwise considered an offence. Says Phipps,

"My great passion for the[UCC]and for the church at large is that it should be a place[...]where we can have honest differences and speak the truth to each other while always respecting the dignity and personhood of the [one] with whom we are in debate."27

Tony Copple has further to say concerning Bill Phipps himself.

"Bill is a remarkably articulate politician. He can sway a crowd. He truly believes in his view of Christianity. He is scrupulously honest and ethical, and is currently building bridges within the church, and getting the church a lot of editorial. On Friday Nov 7, 1997 he took part in a conference call with about 10 hostile to his views (including me), and on Monday Nov 10 he debated with a large crowd at Parkdale United in Ottawa. He has many supporters, both ordained and lay. He has received letters from former church members saying that his vision was appealing to them, and they wanted to come back to the church. He may feel that he can increase the membership and influence of the United Church by promoting a more liberal understanding of our beliefs.

So why does this make me so, so sad. Not because Bill has spoken out, but because a sizeable number within the United Church are clearly sympathetic with his views and support him, if the attenders at the November 10 gathering are representative. I'm sad because he was elected by people who knew his beliefs. He's courageously doing exactly what he was elected for. But they and he aren't [sic] reckoning with some significant Christian forces [the number of transformed lives through the Vineyard movement, the Alpha programme, Billy Graham, etc]"28

Bill Phipps "Prophet in A Baseball Cap" - Baseball and Social Justice

Bill Phipps was declared as the 'prophet in a baseball cap' at the 36th General Council in Camrose, Alberta in August 1997.29 This epithet presents him for both his love for social justice and his pastime of baseball. However, Phipps does inform us that "he is not a baseball fanatic. He just loves the game." Says Asling,

"Phipps is well known for two things in the church he has served since his ordination 28 years ago [in 1969]: his commitment to social justice, particularly for First Nations people, and his love for baseball. [...] In 1984 he started the Moderator's Cup baseball tournament as a way to help ease the stress of Council. At this Council he will get to present the trophy that he created and donated to the winning baseball team. Its one of the privileges of the office [that he says] he will relish."30

However, the UCC directive of justice and outreach to both Canada and the 2/3 world31 is where Phipps' deepest concern abides, and this seems to be an extension of his earlier experiences. Says Asling, "[...] While he has served in the church in three congregations and in administration as executive secretary of Alberta and Northwest Conference, Phipps' heart is in the prophetic social ministry of the UCC [italics mine]"32 Phipps noted that"it's not that [the UCC] have forgotten our prophetic voice [...] but I think we've spent a lot of time internally for the past 10 years. [...] [However], I think people are [now] sticking their head[s] out and saying we've got a tradition of being out there and being critics of our society; [so] we need to be doing that more."33

The written material that Phipps provided for the commissioners at the Camrose conference included intermittent phrases such as prophetic, public witness, and loving justice. He expressed a concern that congregations and all courts of the church have the potential to be prophetic.34 This may also refer to the ministry of the laity as well as the clergy and bureaucracy. He also believes people both within and outside the church are ready for the United Church to speak out loudly and clearly on behalf of those who are hurting in society. Yet, in order to do this, there must be a unity of purpose and motivation within the whole church. This requires knowing self-identity as Christians35 and responding in a call to reach out to others.36

Phipps believes that Christian communities in Canada have much wisdom and strength to bring to the community at large. "[However], Phipps, [as a] lawyer [...] acknowledges that the church must learn to be prophetic as a minority in society. It is a process he says has already begun with the church's aligning itself with the marginalized in society--the homeless, the poor, First Nations and environmentalists."37 The process according to Phipps includes "real congregational renewal. [...]The church's worship [...], education [...], pastoral care[...], and prayer life are also mixed up with its political life. That means challenging political and corporate institutions. Phipps believes that "[...]the Bible is one of the most political collections in any religious literature.And any[one]who says you can't [sic] mix Bible and politics has never read the Bible."38

Adjacent to his concerns of putting faith into action is his theologically liberal position. Even with his view of being 'mutually tolerant of other view points in the UCC'39 it is clear that his presuppositions would be as evident as some of the earlier moderators, and thus there was already potential of the public disclose of liberalism that has long been one of the views of the UCC and its seminaries. However, though his liberal views were no secret, he found it beneficial to meet with the leaders of the renewal groups when he was elected. It may have been politically wise to do so, since the orthodox voice within the UCC is defended through the renewal groups, such as Church Alive, Community of Concern and the National Alliance of Covenanting Congregations (as well as Fellowship Magazine, which is the offspring of the now defunct United Church Renewal Fellowship). John Trueman, president of COC reports this exchange as congenial and neutral in tone:

"Rev. Bill Phipps has never been known for giving reform/renewal people the time of day; yet he moved quickly to meet with their leaders at Camrose. Our Vice President, John Hoover, described their exchange of views as "very frank and forceful, but cordial" - but tempered these remarks with the reminder that "while we are listened to once in a while it has not led to any concrete action for traditionalists to help us feel more at home."40

Phipps also "envision[s] every UCC congregation becoming a safe place for people--that everyone [...]no matter who they are or where they come from, is welcomed in our churches, and is loved as a child of God."41 Can one hope that these are not mere words to a church that has been polarized for years? Orr also adds that Phipps wants the 'storytelling' in the church to continue among the groups that are in some conflict.42 Phipps narrates his concern in the following quote:

"There are people hurting in many parts of our church and I guess we have to be open and hear what they have to say," he said. "The fundamental principle has to do with God's unconditional love for all of us [...] When people do not show each other respect as human beings, then I think we have to hear the gospel." He said he wants all groups in the church to speak the truth to one another in love.43"

"

John Hoover also spoke in hopeful expectation:

'[...] we welcome Phipps's initiative, and hope we can build on what he heralded as his "great passion for the United Church . . . that it should be a place out of any other place in the world where we can have honest differences and speak the truth to each other while always respecting the dignity and personhood of the person with whom we are in debate."44 John Trueman believes that such words [may] seem to indicate a change of heart for Phipps, since his term of office as Executive Secretary was marked by "[...]little respect, let alone compassion, for renewal/reform supporters. Or are they just words?"45 Phipps said in recent interview46 that he respects the conservatives' opinions but completely disagrees with them and that they are concerned about theological formulas. However, this disagreement is defended by saying that "[...] learning from [other beliefs] enhances my Christianity, it doesn't[sic] dilute it [...] We're fairly good at it because we're nondogmatic and we don't [sic] have a lot of doctrines."47 Thus Trueman was concerned upon Phipps' election that their new moderator would 'fight fair' in being a 'prophetic' social critic. Says Trueman, "Now that this 'prophet in a baseball cap' has taken over, can we rely on him to be a fair umpire? Can we count on him to call a foul a foul? Or will he bend every rule to prevent us from scoring? Above all, will he try to put our heaviest hitters right out of the game?"48

Bill Phipps the Pastor

Bill Phipps is very much supported by his congregation (as will be later shown below). Since he arrived at Scarboro UC, "membership at the upper-middle class church on the edge of the Beltline downtown has doubled to 325 families."49 He is known within this context as having a "real affection for people, a real concern and love for each individual, [...] with an openness and acceptance [... often] missing in other churches."50 As a congregation, they are involved in weekly Bible studies, letter writing campaigns to address child poverty, school reading programmes and evenings serving dinner at the Mustard Seed Mission in downtown Calgary.51

His understanding of the human side of suffering is very articulate, and is expressed in the Christmas service for those in transition and grief. During the 1997 Christmas season, Phipps continued with the service, despite his three year leave of absence. Asling believes that Phipps' decision not to leave his congregation relates to a strong sense that the prophetic life of the church is rooted in congregational life and linked with the pastoral work of congregations. Says Phipps, "the church exists for the sake of the world. The congregation exists for the sake of whatever part of the world it sees as its responsibility."52 At this Christmas service, Bill Phipps embraces those who have come to his church for the special liturgy . Says Leahey-Bailey,

"Although embroiled in controversy in his role as moderator of the United Church of Canada, here at this service, the focus is on those who are suffering. According to Phipps, the burdens people are carrying are varied. 'This service helps people in various ways. The main thing is for people to acknowledge that Christmas can be really tough. For many people it's the worst time of the year. It's just an awful season.' Tears flow easily during the service. And that's okay. '[Do not] be embarrassed by those tears, nor angry with them,' Phipps tells his congregation. 'For they are tears of reality. They are tears of feeling genuine loss and experiencing the emotions of what it is to be a human being, to be a real person.''52

Bill Phipps' Election

Bill Phipps won on the first ballot in August 1997 over the other nominees, Dr. Andrew Stirling of Parkdale UC in Ottawa (a thoughtful evangelical) and John Ambrose, the managing editor of the new Voices United hymn book.54 One United Church minister who was recently interviewed shared his surprise that Phipps won over Ambrose so easily, because Ambrose was smooth in his style, while Phipps was crass and crude in comparison. Stirling however, did not have a chance.55 Some who were commissioners of the conference say that the vote was nearly unanimous, and others do not. Rev. Tom Sawyer, of Edmonton's St. Stephen's College reported that he

"[...]was very pleased that Bill was elected moderator of the church [...] It was the first time in years that a moderator had been elected on the first ballot. There was a strong sense of unity, unanimity and oneness among the delegates [...] You no longer have to leave your brains at the door. A [...] lot of people [were] very excited at Bill's election.''56

Phipps believes that his first ballot election as a sign that the United Church still shares his vision of what a church ought to be about: "speaking out against injustice in society [and] being prophetic [in action?]57 Sawyer says he can understand opposition to Phipps' statements. "I'm sure people from a more conservative persuasion would like things to be more black and white,'' he said. "But the mainstream United Church knows that things aren't black and white[italics mine].''58 Perhaps Sawyer's comments of 'black and white' may be a somewhat problematic, and one may remark that more definition may be required to avoid confusion and give more assurance. The UCRF

in an earlier era often remarked in its publication Small Voice that the UCC had to fight being called a 'United Church of Confusion.'59

One commissioner reported on Tony Copple's moderator site in November 1997 that he did not vote for Bill Phipps, and gave clear reasons why he did not do so. He reported that Mr. Phipps' declaration that Jesus was a window to God (but one of the most important windows we have),

"it became quite obvious to the discerning that he is more Unitarian than Christian [... in] what he actually believes. [...]In any case, you now have some evidence that the vote taken in Camrose was not unanimous. Heaven knows why, but as one prominent renewal person said prior to the election, 'I hope Bill wins; he'll do more for renewal within the United Church (by repulsion) than all the other moderators combined! I hope this man's words end up being prophetic."60

The words just reported may have been prophetic, but not without a cost (which shall be covered below).

Bill Phipps the Moderator: Confusion About the Moderator Role?

During this present controversy, there was much confusion concerning what the moderator role actually is. Phipps was even asked by Pamela Wallin why he has not run for political office, since he would be perfect for that more defined role.61 His reply was that to work within the church was better, and that it is a more freeing institution because of its biblical mandate.62 While the renewal groups such as Community of Concern were very clear about the moderator's role as a leader of a Christian church, where social ministry and empowered faith are supposed to be combined. Says Trueman, "A Moderator's job is defined as being 'to give leadership to the United Church ... heartening and strengthening the whole UNITED CHURCH.' "63 However, one Calgarian questioned Phipps' motivation and was confused about the moderator role. AnnMarie Hall wrote a letter to the Calgary Herald editor concerning his theological remarks (to be discussed below)which includes the following comments:

"Phipps could be doing effective work for social justice as a lawyer or an activist, and have a much clearer agenda. It is obvious that social activism and political influence are more important to him than spiritual issues. [...]It is disappointing and disturbing to see yet another charismatic Christian leader use the faith as merely a means to an end, a way to get a political or social cause heard. Phipps has pursued the role of leader and spokesperson, a representative of the Christian church in Canada. His first and foremost responsibility is to represent the church; that role must come ... before any cause he chooses to champion, worthy as it may be. My question for Rev. Phipps is, why the ministry? What is his motivation? Power? He surely has power now. Phipps is in a highly visible position of religious authority, blithely announcing he does not believe or support tenants that unite Christian believers in Canada and worldwide. I wish he had gone public with these beliefs before he was elected moderator."64

Phipps personally responded to Ms. Hall's letter in defence of both the role how a candidate is chosen for the moderator position. Some of his response is as follows:

I want to thank Ann Marie Hall for her thoughtful letter. There are a few points of clarification I would like to make. First of all, one does not ``pursue'' the role of moderator in the United Church of Canada. I was nominated by four Presbyteries within our Church; [these were Calgary, Edmonton, Toronto South and Northern Lights]65 there is no way in which there is any pursuit of the office. Rather, one is nominated and then elected. Any campaign for that office would be totally outside the tradition of our Church. Secondly, [concerning] [...] the comments I have made, [I believe they] are within the mainstream of the United Church and reform theology. I believe strongly that I am well-rooted within the Christian tradition, although not frozen in its language. [...] Lastly, the biblical tradition is very clear that ``the spiritual'' involves all of life, including personal relationships, prayer, worship, politics, economics and more.[...] Why the ministry?'' Because I have a passionate belief that in Jesus Christ we have a glimpse of God's call for us to reach out to all those who may be left out of the benefits of our society. I have a strong belief that the God of love as depicted in scripture is something our world needs now more than ever.66

Other United Church people expressed concern that the moderator should more adequately reflect the official beliefs of the church, such as the Twenty Articles of the Basis of Union,67 and be concerned for the harmony and unity of the church. Steven Chambers defines the moderator position as having four specific roles, "although each person brings to the task unique gifts and contributions."68 Phipps' unique gifts, appear to be his social conscience and understanding of human suffering. These four roles are: a presiding role (over General Council meetings, the Executive and Sub-Executive), a representative role (representing the United Church at public national occasions, including royal and papal visits), an interpretive role (although only the General Council has the right to speak officially, the moderator is the spokesperson of the church) and a pastoral role.69 It appears that the concern of the controversy is over the representative and pastoral roles. The representative role was in confusion because he seemed to represent his own views only in the Ottawa Citizen and following media exposure, and the pastoral role was questioned because the controversy was shaking a church that still has not recovered from the 1988 Issue and mass exodus. Was this really helping the Gospel? What of the cost?

Phipps was concerned about the representative role and that he is not meant to be like a bishop that may represent one view on behalf of the people. Says Phipps, "Some people have written in and said, 'We respect that you can have your own view, but once you're elected Moderator, you have to represent the whole Church. I am not a bishop, or a pope, or anything like that, and we have to understand that's not the understanding of the United Church Moderator."70 The General Council Executive also affirmed this non- episcopal role, particularly because the UCC is a conciliar church. However, although the moderator and other officers of the church courts are free to express personal points of view, this freedom of expression "must be tempered by the need for congruence with stated policies and statements of the UCC."71

The first moderator of the UCC, the Rt. Rev. George Pidgeon, was concerned that social activism not be entirely at the expense of Christian doctrine. This could open a door to agnostic clergy to "avoid the imprisons of unbelief"72 as it had with Methodist James Shaver Woodsworth, who had offered to resign twice for his unbelief, and was refused. He was not given an invitation to leave the ministry until his pacifist politics conflicted with the Church during World War I.73 Thus, Pidgeon warned in 1926 that "social service is not religion. Christ was no mere social reformer."74 Another former moderator, Richard Roberts, also warned in 1932 that "religion was in danger of becoming a pale and anemic counterfeit of itself."75 The General Council Executive's response to the controversy shall be discussed below.

Past Controversial Moderators

Phipps said the United Church has always been freethinking and past moderators [such as Ernest Howse, Bob McLure, and Bruce McLeod] have said much more outrageous things. 'What's new is that my views hit the front page of a secular newspaper.'76 Have they said more outrageous things in the name of liberalism, progress and 'making things new' (or contextualization?) Ernest Howse was moderator in the late sixties and then pastor of Bloor Street UC in Toronto. It was during his time of office that the United Church Renewal Fellowship began in protest with the growing liberalism.77 Victor Shepherd recalls what Howse preached on Easter Sunday one year:

Phipps insists that he hasn't [sic] said anything that United Church moderators haven't [sic] said for 35 years, all the way back to Ernest Marshall Howse. Phipps is correct. His perfidy isn't [sic] new and is no greater than theirs. Well do I remember Ernest Marshall Howse's public denials of the incarnation when Howse was moderator. Well do I remember Howse's Easter sermon of 1968. I as flat on my back, encased from neck to groin in a body cast as a result of a three fatality car accidents in which my spine had been fractured. Since I was encased in plaster, I didn't [sic] go to church in Easter '68; instead I turned on the T.V. set and watched the Howse's broadcast from Bloor Street United Church. Howse managed to get through the entire sermon, on Easter Sunday, without once mentioning the resurrection of Jesus Christ. This, of course, was no accident, since Howse had already said many times over that such matters as incarnation and atonement and resurrection he disdained. Phipps is right: he's no different from his predecessors in the office of moderator.78

Other moderators who were known for their liberalism were Lois Wilson (who believes that Jesus is not the only way to God),79 Bob McClure, the layman-doctor moderator, Bruce McLeod, who is 'like a fighter'80 and past moderator Marion Best. Other past moderators were also liberal, but were not always outspoken about it. McLure's comments during his office were often dismissed because he was a medical doctor and not someone who went to seminary.81 Muriel Duncan also writes that McClure said "that ascribing supernatural powers to Jesus detracted from the image he held. [He] regarded him as a son of man so much more than emphasizing that he is the son of God."82 McLeod, believes the same views as Phipps, and also says that liberal views are "[...] not a new issue. For a hundred years these things have been taught in our seminaries."83 McLeod also recalled the former moderator Ernest Howse, who "faced similar questions about the divinity of Christ and the resurrection as Phipps did [in the media]. [McLeod said that] the United Church is quite used to this. The mainline of the church was not shaken [italics mine]."84

John Ambrose, one of the other nominees for the moderator position was concerned that Phipps was not saying anything new, and that "the difficulty is when you start speaking out informally (in the media) and there is no opportunity to translate what you say."85 Ambrose believes that much of the "heated censure" of Phipps' opinions is due to Canadian Christians' "theological and biblical illiteracy" because they have a tendency to "literalize" traditional beliefs.86 This attitude of viewing evangelical Christians as less learned is one that is common, and many evangelicals view it as an attempt to marginalize them. This label does not always fit evangelicals, as in the examples of Billy Graham, who does not believe that hell is literally a 'lake of fire', or John Stott, who "holds approximately to the idea that hell is annihilation or an unconscious state."87

The Controversy

So Phipps' liberal views and his phraseology of expressing his faith is not new. What is new is the way it was conducted, by a newly elected moderator, to a secular newspaper, the Ottawa Citizen on October 24, 1997, as if it were one of the accepted official views of the church. The newspaper may also have been secular, but the interviewer, Bob Harvey was not.88 Phipps also believes that when people see theological proclamations as stark headlines it is problematic.89 Another surprise is that this is not usually the "norm for United Church ministers to proclaim [their] beliefs, they prefer to discuss Christian based philosophy and behaviour."90 However, there has been precedent from previous moderators, and as Phipps has stated, he intended to talk on other issues. It seems that the inclusive agenda and view of the UCC bureaucracy has remained the same since the 1960's, and through this (intentionally or not), an Arian error from early church history has resurfaced. Phipps, in the name of avoiding what he believes is Docetism (an overemphasis on the divine nature of Jesus)91 has 'swung the pendulum' too far in the other direction. When he is further questioned about his beliefs in the original interview, his defense is to remind them that he is not a professional in determining doctrine.92 Although Phipps calls himself no theologian,93 in some sense, everyone is a theologian and a philosopher,94 because as spiritual and ontological beings, we want to make sense of our lives and what is around us.95 Several United Church ministers have commented on Phipps' remark of not being a theologian. Graham Scott commented on Phipps by asking a question. Says Scott:

" Now Mr. Phipps admits that he is no theologian. Why then would he deny Jesus Christ's divinity and physical resurrection? There is a difference between remaining silent before a mystery which one does not understand and denying faith statements that have been affirmed by virtually all Christians at all times in all places. It is one thing for him to attempt to articulate his faith in Jesus and quite another for him to deny historic and universal faith statements. We are compelled to deny his denials [italics mine]." 96

Victor Shepherd also humourously commented , "True enough [...]but since he manifestly isn't, [sic] then where theological matters are concerned why doesn't [sic] he simply shut up? [italics mine]"97 As thinking and creative human beings, we prescribe meaning to things, but what we impose is not necessarily the truth. Truth then is the core question when it comes to Phipps, especially when he believes in introducing Christ to the moral economy (which is theology and social justice in the world through the Moderator's Consultation on Christ and the Moral Economy).98 Where is his centre? He claims in the original interview that "[...]the [moral] centre is in biblical terms, our concepts or words or experiences as compassion, justice, peace. The Jewish term "shalom" encompasses a whole lot of things. Peace with justice. There is no peace where there is no justice. It's how you apply that in a given situation."99 Yet, is this guideline of situational ethics a centre? If Christians who are both liberal and conservative on the lesser issues are held together by the core doctrines of our faith, what is holding him together? Is it merely a rewording of the same faith as Antonio Gualtieri believes?100 Or is the United Church really so inclusive that core doctrines such as the resurrection, the incarnation, the divinity of Jesus and authority of scripture are believed to be mere theory? Even Peter Wyatt, the general secretary for faith and ecumenism for the UCC believes there are two sides to this inclusive diversity. Says Wyatt,

"Our strength is our diversity and the freedom we give people. [...] But the shadow side of that is that people wonder whether there are any boundaries? In point of fact, we have doctrinal standards. We believe that Jesus Christ is the Lord and Saviour of the faithful, But we [do not] use those doctrinal standards to exclude people [italics mine]."101

One of the writers of the original Twenty Articles of Faith was Canadian Methodist Nathanael Burwash. He was the one who reconciled the doctrines of predestination with that of Wesleyan Armininism in such a way that there was a creative tension. He had believed that it was theory that divided the two groups in their theology.102 However, those two doctrines are not absolutely essential for saving faith. Even Burwash, who was a noted reconciler of doctrines, upheld scriptural truth and the human theories, (including ones of human origin that were a hypothesis). Said Burwash concerning the difference of scripture and 'theory':

"The Scriptural elements of faith we held to be essential, the theories human and at best imperfect, and changing with the progress of human science and philosophy. We strove to include all the prominent elements of religious faith, and to eliminate all speculative theory, especially where its harmony with Scripture might be questioned [italics mine]."103

Thus, scripture was used as the 'plumbline' for the test- instead of allowing contextualization to act as the guide. These twenty articles of faith are now currently under revision in the Vision 2000 movement under leader Peter Vanderkaam,104 and during one of the past councils, there was a motion to declare the twenty articles as an historical document, thus not the guiding norm for UCC clergy and members. (This has not yet cleared).

It seems to be clear that Phipps' 'creed' is social justice, of a sort; a biblical selectivity that only focuses on the prophetic justice acts of Micah, Amos and in cases Jesus, but he does not see that there is more to the story. Says Harvey in the original article, "His lapel button, 'zero poverty', reflects the views he developed in the mid-1960's as a student observing riots and civil rights marches in New York and Chicago. 'Biblically, it's an abomination that there are any poor people in Canada at all', he says.105 His views on poverty are strong and definite. 'Your soul is lost unless you care about people starving in the streets.' He says Canada's major churches can no longer be called mainline churches because there is relatively little influence."106

It is very true that many churches are indifferent to the poor, and often do not know how to really help; but arousing the Church to act does not come from attacking her very centre. Calgary Baptist pastor Tim Callaway, believes that many evangelicals are indifferent to the poor and those in transition.

"Whilehe's willing to help, Callaway [is] appalled at the number of evangelical Christians who regard every destitute visitor as a 'scam artist.' 'I'm amazed at the response I get from people, says Callaway. [...] It would be so easy if Jesus [had not] said 'love your neighbour'. [...] If you [cannot] love your neighbour whom you have seen how can you love the brother you [have not] seen?' I'm all for an orthodox statement of faith [...] I'm also for an orthodox statement of life."107 Charles Nienkirchen, a professor at Rocky Mountain College and Tyndale Seminary, also adds that:

"Phipps, and others within the United Church, are celebrating this outpouring of discussion about Christ's nature and other key Christian doctrines, arguing that it will foster intelligent discussion and the pursuit of truth. Evangelicals disagree. That will only further polarize the church by creating more confusion. [...] If you [cannot] trust the biblical account of God's involvement with Jesus Christ, [...] what can you trust? That kind of polarity is the tragedy of the North American Christianity. Mr. Phipps is asking us to choose between historical Christianity and social compassion. That's the worst of all possible choices."108

Graham Scott, the president of UCC's Church Alive is concerned about the lack of empowered faith behind the good works. "Moderator Phipps' denials, unbelief and agnosticism are not good news. They seem to me an invitation to suicide. They do not even inspire me to care for the poor. But Jesus Christ, who, though he was rich yet for our sake became poor, does inspire me to care for the poor, for all human beings and for the world that God loves so much (John 3:16, 2 Cor. 8:9).109 Scott also confided to McLean's magazine that he hopes "[that] Phipps will do what Jimmy Bakker did and write a book entitled I Was Wrong. [...] My only question now is, 'Why, if Jesus is not God, should we pay any attention to him?'"110

There is nothing wrong with social justice, but by itself, it does not fill one with compassion for the lost, it is not Christocentric and empowered by the Holy Spirit. Phipps' creed is very much steeped in humanistic social justice, thus he "believes that it is Christ's humanity[as a window to view the divine God] that brings people closer to him."111 Then what would make Jesus distinct?Where is his heart and empowerment? He says that the Spirit of God in Christ energizes him, forgives him, and empowers him to engage the dark corners of life.112 But is this a minimized Christ? If the resurrection is irrelevant as he believes,113 then even the preaching of the apostle Paul was in vain (1Cor 15:14).If the resurrection is irrelevant, than by what power does he minister if he accepts a form of godliness, but denying its power? (2 Tim 3:5) Says Victor Shepherd, "the resurrection of Jesus Christ is the foundation of every aspect of the Christian faith. St. Paul insists that if Jesus Christ had not been raised, then preaching would be a waste of time, faith would be a superstition and forgiveness a pipe dream."114 More will be covered on the resurrection below.

When Phipps was interviewed by The Ottawa Citizen originally, he believed it would be about his political views, but it was not. Says Finch-Drichen, "The Ottawa Citizen meeting was called partly in response to a barbed August editorial lambasting the [UCC] of its choice of leader and among other things, for being too political too be relevant."115 Is Phipps being too political? Was there not a reason for Pamela Wallin suggesting that he run for office? John Hoover also believes that Phipps' political presuppositions give him an outlook that may place his socio-political aspirations as the goal of his work and his theology. Says Hoover, "For [Phipps], theology is the product of the human mind and the human imagination, readily adaptable to serve political ends."116

The Theological Issues Raised: Christology

Christology was debated all throughout early Church history, but modern Christology has been an issue at least since H. S. Reimarus' Fragments in 1778.117 It can even to traced back as far as Konrad der Gassen who denied Jesus as true God and true man, and was executed at Basle in 1530.118 McKnight believes that since "Reimarus raised [Christological] questions, and scholars have not answered them, in spite of having over two centuries to do so."119 Phipps says he does personally believe in Jesus; but what does he believe about Jesus? It is clear that he does not believe the Chalecedonian formula of being fully God, fully human that was agreed upon in 451. Phipps even got the date of the council wrong in the Wallin interview and elsewhere.120 What does he believe about the uniqueness of Jesus Christ? Phipps says that

"I believe with all of my soul that Jesus embodies all of God that can be embodied in a human being. That makes Jesus special, it makes Jesus unique. The Leap of Faith which Christians take, is that Jesus was unique and special and reveals us the nature and will of God. [...] I can say quite comfortably [that] Jesus is the Son of God, the Word made Flesh, the Messiah, Emmanuel, God with Us. God was in Christ, reconciling the world unto God's self. [like the reconciling and making new Jesus in the new UCC study?]"121

Carole Burton questions this 'reconciliation' - although in the context it appears above it seems normative, but in the November 24 statement, it appeared to mean a blanket coverage which did not include the aspect of individual appropriation.122

Another concern involves the actual incarnation of Jesus as professed by Phipps. Earlier in the paper it was mentioned that Phipps can be a word smith. This concern appears in a response about his statements and Christology. Says Burton, "Many of us believe that in [one of his ] statement[s], Phipps is using orthodox Christian phrases in order to pacify UC people, but he means something different by the phrases. Jesus is some of God incarnate, some of God made flesh. By this he can still hold to his belief that Jesus reveals as much of God as is possible in a human being - but he is not fully God."123 Is his focus so much on the transcendent aspect of God's nature, and that He is wholly other, that he forgets that the full incarnation was indeed possible for God, and that he is no mere avatar (to use Hindu-type terms of a visitation of God)? Phipps is thinking of God's transcendence when he talks of Jesus' incarnation. So he says that " Jesus express[es] God, reveal[s] God as much as any human being can."124 Perhaps the problem here is that Phipps has swung the pendulum too far on the transcendence of God, and too far on the humanity of Jesus? Believing in both transcendence and imminence are possible. Therefore, Phipps concern to avoid Docetism has forced him to swing to the other extreme. He believes that to call Jesus God (starkly, without also mentioning his humanity) is heresy.125 Bob Bater, the former principal of Queen's Theological College in Kingston, believes that Phipps is not heretical in his confession, and that "no church, except perhaps the Eastern Orthodox Church, has ever been willing to say simply that Jesus was God. [...] Traditionally, the churches say that Jesus was 'fully divine, fully human."126 However, Bater forgets the Nicene Creed, and even the words to "Hark the Herald Angels Sing" and "O Come all ye Faithful."

A core issue around the Christology debate centres in the act of worship. Burton believes its the "acid test" of Jesus' divinity.127 CS Lewis also addresses this issue somewhat with his trilemma question of Jesus being either a liar, a lunatic or the Lord (as in to fall at the feet of Jesus and call him Lord and God).128 Perhaps Phipps would call him a lesser Lord, thus not deserving the full worship that is due the Father. (Phipps would also most likely not call the head of the Trinity the Father either, he would call God as the "most loving parent").129 Phipps apparently stated clearly at both the Parkdale UC (Ottawa) and the Metropolitan UC (London) meetings in November that he believes that we are not to worship Jesus. He said, "We worship God. We do not worship Jesus. Jesus pointed us to the God we are to worship."130

Mark Fearnall, pastor of Shawville UC, personally attended the meeting at Parkdale UC, and sent Mr. Phipps an open letter (which is still on his moderator site)131 concerning implications for UCC unity and worship. Phipps proclaimed that we do not worship Christ, and Fearnall confesses that he wanted to yell out, "I do!"132 Thus the real question is very serious, which is: Can we, or can we not, worship Christ?"133 Fearnall's concern is powerfully communicated in the following quote:

"I do not see how we could possibly honour both views for when (and if) we are together you(in good conscience) could not worship Jesus Christ, while I must (in good conscience). How can we be united in worship when we cannot agree as to who can receive worship? If you are correct about Christ, I am committing idolatry: the worship of a creature![italicsmine]"134

Another way to defend the divinity of Jesus concerns the forgiveness of sins. Andrew Stirling believes that the authority of Jesus (his divinity and Lordship) is either based upon the forgiveness of sins or it he is not Lord.135 Says Stirling, "There is not much neutral ground. [There] is no Jesus of the 'fuzzy navel.'"136 Jim Amy also stated in a sermon that "forgiving sin was something [that] only God had the authority to do. Yet Jesus claimed that perogative for himself [...]137 (Mat. 9:2, 5; Mk. 2:5, 9; Luk. 2:9, 5:20, 23, 7:48). Tony Copple also included this defense in his open letter to the Moderator,138 as did Victor Shepherd in his response to the Moderator.139 Jim Amy also lists other biblical defenses concerning the divinity of Jesus. These include Jesus' self understanding concerning his authority: as the judge of the world (Mat. 25), as modifier of the Sabbath (Mk. 2), as unique in relationship with the Father and was preexistent (Jn. 8:85), over heaven and earth (Mt. 28:19), as the source of life (Jn. 5:39-40, 6:33-35),140 and there were also the disciple's understanding of Jesus, which included 'doubting' Thomas' declaration! (Jn. 20:28) More shall follow on this controversial topic in the response section.

Resurrection Issue

The resurrection is the very core of the Christian faith. In fact, even skeptics had to understand that it was the very beginning of a movement which was not merely due to social forces. Says Craig:

"the earliest believers pinned nearly everything on it. [It was] the sine qua non for their belief in Jesus as Messiah and in his death as the basis for the forgiveness of sins. [...] Though [the liberal scholar]Bultmann protest[ed] against any further historical probing behind the faith of the first disciples, even the most skeptical critic must posit some mysterious X to get the movement going. But what was that X?"141

Although in the original interview it appeared that Phipps was belittling the resurrection when he called it irrelevant, in the Observer he clarified his beliefs. Like William Craig, he does assert that "without the resurrection, there would be no Christian community or Christian faith."142 He likewise asserted this in the Pamela Wallin interview, but was agnostic in defining it, for fear of losing the mystery of the religious language.143 In the Observer he stated:

"[...] After the crucifixion, the followers were afraid and bewildered. 'It's over, how do we get out of here with our lives?' But something clearly powerful happened where they experienced a living Jesus after he died. It motivated them to risk their lives and be willing to die for their faith. It wasn't [sic] just a dream. I don't [sic] have any idea what it was. The Gospel accounts each tell a different story. [...]"144

Phipps rephrased these words into a recognition of the transformation that comes from the power of the resurrection. Says Phipps,

"There is no question that the followers of Jesus experienced God's transforming power in the resurrection. Jesus was so alive for them that they were driven to risk[...] their lives in proclaiming the Gospel. The 'resurrection event' is difficult to harmonize in the Gospel accounts, but there is no doubt that Jesus becomes a living, transforming power in the lives of his followers, and continues to do so to this day."145

Phipps explains this further when he was asked to speak at Metropolitan United in London on November 13, 1997 that he respects those whose faith

"depends on a certain kind of bodily resurrection. Some people need to believe, and do, that Jesus rose from the dead, in the same body, walked around and then ascended into Heaven. [...] I don't [sic] think its necessary to believe in the Resurrection in that particular form in order to believe in the Resurrection and that Jesus lives and is alive. In fact for me, one of the really interesting proofs [...] is the commitment and passion of his followers from that moment until today as we gather in this place. The critical question for me is how and in what way is Christ Jesus calling each one of us into relationship with him and into the world."146

Carole Burton pointed out that in a statement Phipps also proclaimed that he '"also believe[s] in the mystery and power of the resurrection,' but basically he believes that the influence of Jesus is still powerful in the world today. He does not believe that Jesus is actually still alive and present in the world. Jesus was, not is.147 It is quite possible he believes this way, but one thing is for certain - he is agnostic concerning details other than it was more than a dream or a vision. Instead, it was "something so profound [...] that they believed that Jesus was alive, [...] energizing them, [...] transforming them, [...] sending them on to continue the ministry they began with him. [...] It was something powerful enough that they were willing to go from where they were, to risk their live[s]. [...] Jesus was alive and well and beckoning them into continuing that ministry [italics mine]."148 Graham Scott pursued Phipps' agnosticism on this area even further. Due to Phipps' revulsion for the idea of a bodily resurrection like a form of resuscitation (something that resurrection is not but could be misunderstood to be),149 he instead denies the objectivity of the resurrection. Graham Scott has a very strong argument against this denial. Says Scott:

"Granted that Phipps acknowledges that after his burial, Jesus began to live in the minds of his disciples and friends, this is obviously a subjective event and equally obviously at variance with St. Paul's insistence that the resurrection is a real event. Phipps seems to have focussed on only one word of 1 Cor. 15 - the word 'spiritual body' (v.44). We simply note that Paul also uses the word 'body' and that the context of [this chapter] makes it crystal clear that he insists that Jesus rose from the dead in a real way. [see Luke 24:39 and John 20:20-27]" 150

Heaven/Hell

Phipps chooses to be agnostic on this issue,151 perhaps he believes it could be a distraction from concerns here on earth. A Thornhill pastor used to say in his sermons that life should not be like a bus stop while we are waiting to go to heaven.152 Perhaps there is some of this attitude behind his remarks when he says that although he believes there is a continuation of life after death, "[he] has no idea what the nature of that is."153 It is not surprising that he does not see heaven and hell as places if he believes they are on earth.154 Yet I would like to ask the question that yes, a form of hell may be evident here on earth, but what of heaven? Surely there would be a place better than here? In the original interview, Phipps said concerning the reality of hell:

" I have no idea. And I don't [sic] think Jesus was that concerned about hell. I think we're concerned about life here. And the Jewish tradition wasn't [sic] that concerned about hell either. They were concerned about just relationships here. I've got enough problems, and I think most of us have enough problems, trying to live an ethical life knowing all of the ways we compromise ourselves and all of the frailties that we've got. We've got enough problems trying to live ethically and well here to have any knowledge or understanding or worry about what happens after I die [italics mine]."155

It is true that the Hebrew Scriptures talk more of Sheol, the place of the dead more than hell or gehenna, however, hell can also be interchangeable with sheol. Dr. James Beverley, a theology professor at Tyndale Seminary, also questions Phipps on Jesus' concern about hell. Says Beverley, "I urge him to do a word search in any concordance on this topic. [...] What is happening here is [...] a disregard for the emphases of Scripture when it contradicts personal taste [which also happens with evangelicals on other issues]."156 According to the Quickverse computer word search, the word hell appears 14 times in the New Testament (NIV), 54 times in the whole Bible (KJV), and sheol appears 67 times in NASB!157

Biblical Authority

The issue of the diminishing biblical authority is one that has been raised by the United Church Renewal Groups from their very inception beginning in the 1960's. Instead of scripture being the guideline for all doctrine, as the afore-mentioned Nathanael Burwash had done, it was made merely one guideline in the 1992 view of the Wesleyan method of understanding. Wesley's guideline was: scripture (first), tradition, reason and experience.158 This was adapted to: heritage, understanding, experience and scripture.159 Note that scripture is named last in the list. Don Faris believes that this rewriting of the Wesleyan Quadrilateral [so] distorts it that Methodist scholar Albert C. Outler wishes he never coined the phrase!"160 Faris believes that the source of this attack against scriptural authority (as well as sound theology) can be traced to what he calls "inclusivity ideology."161 It has affected the New Creed by not naming Jesus as Lord, and God as Father, and has diminished the value of scriptural authority. Says Faris, "If [...] you wish to diminish the authority of Scripture with its clear theological and moral boundaries, what better way than to give three other sources equal or even superior status? No wonder the Moderator [became] confused!"162

It appears that somewhere along the history of the UCC, the "slippery slope principle of biblical authority"163 came into effect. It became noticeable to the laity in the 1960's with the Sunday School New Curriculum, yet was evident in the seminaries at a much earlier date. Even Nathanael Burwash, who contributed to Church Union and the original Basis of Union, found that some of his students at Victoria College were becoming increasingly liberal in scriptural understanding. Some of his students included James Shaver Woodsworth (previously mentioned),164 S.D. Chown and A.M Phillips.165 Phillips was later accused of a heretical understanding of the atonement, and Chown stepped too far into liberalism with a sociological interpretation of heaven. Chown was important in the first years of the United Church and was one of the nominees to be the first moderator. Instead, because it was politically expedient to give the position to a former Presbyterian, it was given to George Pigeon.166 If Chown was that liberal as a UCC leader then, is it any surprise that many in leadership are liberal now? Reginald Bibby, in the recent Unitrends report discovered that only 24% of faculty at UCC seminaries believe that Jesus is Saviour and Lord.167 Now there is more to this issue than whether one is liberal or conservative.168

One aspect of a diminished view of scripture is selectivity. Phipps, for example is very good at using biblical examples of social justice, caring for the poor, and good works. Yet other clear statements in scripture are not accepted. It is not even the case that one could say, well, that's a different biblical genre, that its not meant to be literal, or that its meant to be a metaphor. Many times it seems to be 'just plain disbelief ' and agnosticism. James Beverley notes that "[...]what is happening [with Phipps] is simply a disregard for the emphases of Scripture when it contradicts personal taste."169 Yet can Phipps even defend his view of scripture, or will he just change the subject and talk about another biblical aspect - that of social justice?170 Could this be a 'red herring' (an argument that introduces another point to avoid what is being asked)? This trait of avoiding a specific scriptural question (other than calling it irrelevant, as he does in the original interview)171 is also shown in the Edmonton Journal, when he said, "Those who say the United Church is drifting away from the Bible haven't [sic] read it for themselves."172

Mark Fearnall is concerned about Phipps' view of not worshipping Jesus, which is a biblical act - not once does he tell the worshipper to stop. However, the underlying issue concerns the place of scripture. Says Fearnall:

"For the modern theological liberal, usually the judge of scripture is him/herself [which is arrogant]. Often they will acknowledge that scripture affirms in many places that Jesus is God, but they will add that this is an addition by the writers. Often it seems as though they have 'inside' information on which scriptures are accurate [but they do not have new documents to prove it]. But the moment we focus on some scriptures to the neglect of others is when we fall into error.[italics mine]"173

Lastly, even secular reporters, such as John Robson are questioning Phipps' biblical selectivity of 'cut and paste.' Says Robson:

[...] Bill Phipps has never been shy about speaking out on worldly issues. When a man whose primary identity is minister, then head, of a Christian church speaks out with certainty, he cannot avoid the implication that he does so based on an understanding of the Gospels that he shares with his parishioners. It is particularly disingenuous to declare that the Gospels are either impenetrable or irrelevant theologically, but then to find secular certainty in them. And he did. He assured us that anyone not concerned about the poor would lose their soul. But you can't [sic] just believe in Scripturewhen it coincides with your own preferences. You must accept all of it, including the claim that Jesus was God.174

This selectivity also represents the slippery slope principle in the words of John Trueman, who in his opening address of the 10th annual COC meeting, said that the UCC has gradually slipped from a high view of scriptural authority and supremacy of Jesus eventually to Mr. Phipps' remarks, which endanger the connection with the Canadian Council of Churches [as well as the W.C.C.] "The 'trapdoor' has been opened to Unitarianism."175

What does the Moderator say to defend himself in this area? He combines an argument of particularity (the Bible was written by believers most likely to their own era), with a misunderstanding of eclectic biblical genre as [usually] less than literal. It is true that much of the genre is metaphorical, but not as much as Phipps' version appears to be.176 Says Phipps:

"Jesus is the Living Word, not the Bible. [This is true, perhaps he wants to avoid what he believes is bibliolatry?] The Bible is a whole combination of thing; it does contain some history, a [...] lot of mythology, poetry, letters [and] legends. They mythology expresses a larger truth than history can. I like the line" 'I take the Bible seriously, not literally.' It is the story of faith written by believers. For example, Mark had a different agenda than John: he wrote in a different time to a different audience."177

Other Apologetical Issues

Other issues that Phipps raises include a possible incursion of the Sophia doctrine, the denial of the Virgin Birth, the defamation of miracles, the influence of process thought in the context of the problem of evil and suffering, and the influence of panentheism (not pantheism). The Sophia issue is one that has only one reference, but it warrants a question. What does Bill Phipps mean when he "refers to God as 'she' when he speaks[?]"178 Is this a reference to Sophia (the feminine 'goddess' of wisdom of whom radical feminists proclaim?) or is he merely using inclusive language? Inclusive language can be very helpful in many contexts, but when this is superimposed onto God, who is not only neither male nor female, but exhibits both in character, it brings confusion. This imagery is also shown in a hymn in the Voices United hymnbook, in which the 'womb of God' is enshrined and worshipped as an image of God.179 A line of this hymn is as follows: "Mother and God, to you we sing, wide is your womb, warm is your wing."180 Another example is the hymn, Dear Mother God, in which worship is given to the "Dear Mother God, your wings are warm around us, we are enfolded in your love and care.[...]"181

The Virgin Birth

The Virgin Birth is also something that Phipps believes is not necessary doctrine to claim as a part of Christian identity,182 and he sees it as a didactic metaphor of pure storytelling.183 It is here that there appears to be influence from the nineteenth century scholar Strauss, who believed that the Gospels were all in the form of stories. However, the ancient Near East used the story form to portray composition worth keeping - because although there were written manuscripts, the best way to memorize events was to put them into story form. This form does not or should not detract from truth. It is merely the form. This view was also displayed by Frank Morgan, who in 1942, held a preparation class for young church-goers to equip them for university philosophy that would challenge their "childhood beliefs."184 Says Morgan,

" In our living room we talked abo ut the very questions the moderator has raised. We even discovered that another faith claimed that its founder was virgin born, for this is an ancient way of explaining extraordinary people. All this happened 55 years ago!"185

Morgan's discussion in 1942 was predated by P. Annet, in 1744 within his book The Conception of Jesus.186 However, this same man also disbelieved the resurrection of Jesus, and was convicted of blasphemy in 1762.187 Thus, this disbelief in the virgin birth is not new, but is merely a 'replay' of the earlier scoffers of the first and second centuries due to either believing that Jesus' biological father was a Roman soldier, or that it was a carry-over from the stories of surrounding cultures concerning some of their heroes.188

Miracles

The defamation of miracles is also an issue in the controversy, particularly with the devolution of Jesus. The disbelief in miracles is not new, and has been espoused in 'modern' history by T. Hobbes (1651),189 Spinoza (1670), Locke (1705), Woolston (1727-29),190 Hume (1748) and Reimarus (1754).191 These most likely are only the past writers that stand out in past Enlightenment thinking. Phipps is most likely influenced from this past procession of naturalistic presuppositions, which are also very present in the contemporary Jesus Seminar, which he encourages UCC people to investigate.192 He was included in Mike Trickey's article on the spirituality that is growing in Canada that is not specifically connected to organized religion. However, belief in spirituality is high, and Phipps was asked to comment on this grassroots interest. Trickey commented that "[...] 54 per cent of Canadians believe in divine intervention or miracles."193 Phipps responded to this comment by saying, "That strikes me as high, but these things always depend on what your definition [of miracles] is. You can say that from the Christian and biblical perspective that God is involved in the world and that the divine is very present in all of human life. I wouldn't [sic] call that divine intervention, but some might."194 He also said he was not surprised at Trickey's comment that 69 per cent of Canadians admit to praying for divine intervention "or guidance when faced with a particularly stressful situation."195 Says Phipps, "that's not surprising. You won't [sic] find many atheists in a foxhole."196

Process Theology in the Problem of Pain and Evil

There is also some evidence that Rev. Phipps is influenced from process thought within the context of the problem of evil and suffering. This view that God is limited in love and power197 is evident especially as he shared his testimony (of his family suffering) with Pamela Wallin. Ms. Wallin addresses the question of the problem of pain and evil with the Moderator, because it is clear that he understands the tragedy of human suffering. She asked him, "How do you look at [all the suffering you have seen] and say there is a great and good God, a power larger than mine, who looks at this, and allows [suffering and evil] to happen?"198 Phipps was not only emphatic that God identifies with us in our suffering, and is powerfully present, especially through the cross199 but he also diminished God's omnipotence when he replied,

God doesn't [sic]allow it to happen. Period, full stop. As you know, two of my stepchildren have died, one aged 14, and one aged 20. I've been at the bedside of people of all ages, whether they're one month old, or a hundred years old, who have died. And people who would come up and say, and this is where I get really angry, "Well, God must want something for [?] that child." I feel like punching them in the face. Or that its "God's will that this happened." I don't [sic] understand it, its NOT God's will."200

Phipps was even stronger in his denial of God's omnipotence when he spoke with a reporter in Calgary. Again the context was about the loss of his stepchildren, when he said, "They were tragic deaths. [...] When you go through that, life is thrown into a whole different perspective.''201 Says Stockland, Phipps' different perspective doesn't make Phipps' unorthodox ideas any more correct, of course. [..] However startling or wrong-headed, they remain the result of anguished inner struggle. "202 Phipps reveals more as follows:

God is not all-powerful and will not just swoop down to intervene in tragedies. [...] God did not swoop in to save my two step children. But God sure was present to comfort us, [...] be with us and reassure us. God is vulnerable, and it's the God of the Cross who has more power to save us than the all-powerful God that can wave magic wands."203

Other forms of suffering also deeply affect the Moderator, including the martyrdom of Salvadorian bishop Oscar Romero, and the mass suffering that was experienced by the Jewish people. Says Phipps concerning the Holocaust:

"If there's a theological question that the people of the Bible have to ask this century, it's where was God at Auschwitz? I think there are some good answers, but the question itself blows away the God who's going to intervene and rescue people because he's all powerful. To me, what the Holocaust symbolizes theologically is that God is not all powerful.''204

Although Phipps is 'right on target' concerning the presence of God in suffering and that he suffers with us, the limitation of God's power is not a biblical response to the problem. It is an understandable one, in which many modern authors take, such as the author of Why Bad Things Happen to Good People, but it is not a biblical response. The Bible teaches "both God's omnipotence and his total perfection in love and goodness."205 There is a balance even in the midst of suffering.

Influence from Panentheism

This view is not pantheism which David Fisher says is "God IS all things, [but] rather, panentheism holds that God is IN all things [thus not apart from His creation]. One description of panentheism is to say that as the soul is to the body, so God is to the world".206 Andrew Stirling believes there is a connection between panentheism and the rise of interest in environmentalism and earth-based spirituality. In this 'religion', there is no transcendence, no transformation, and no accountability.207 The 'transcendence' in panentheism especially concerns reconciliation of Jesus to a broken world, as is shown in the Reconciling and Making New Document, and in the Mending the World Document.208 "Panentheism is often monistic by nature. [Thus], namely it holds that there is essentially one reality, and that all other beings are but attributes or modes of that reality."209

Fisher worked through writing on the incursion of panentheism while considering the UCC Mending the World document of 1997, and has later found that this ideology has also influenced Bill Phipps. The concept of Jesus' reconciliation seems to be viewed through the lens of panentheism by the Moderator, especially when he makes the following statement:

"'[that] God was in Jesus reconciling the world to God's self; [...] that as much of God that was possible was revealed in Jesus of Nazareth, [...] and therefore we can say with confidence that Jesus was the Son of God, that Jesus is the Word made flesh, that Jesus is God incarnate [...]'. At the same time he holds that Jesus is not [fully] God. "210

This Arian view is consistent in the context of panentheism, because, according to Fisher, "from a panentheistic perspective this is logical. God is said to be in Jesus, and revealed by Jesus. Jesus is God's Son because he reveals the nature of God. Jesus is held to be God incarnate because God's presence was enfleshed in the human being, we have known as the historical Jesus.[italics mine]"211 This view also connects to Phipps' resistance of worshipping Jesus, because it would "fail [...] to categorically differentiate between who Jesus was in relation to the Father, and who human beings are in relation to the Father."212 His agnostic view towards heaven and hell as well as the denial of the objectivity of the resurrection is also consistent with the panentheistic world view.

How did panentheism influence the modern church? It seemed to gain a foothold into theology through an interest of contextualizing the images of God. Contextualization generally is very helpful in increasing understanding of theological concepts, and was perceived by Reform theologians as the principle of accommodation.213 However, adopting other worldviews, such as panentheism, is not contextualization, it is adaption! The Reconciling document has one small section, which acknowledges that "[...]some theologians are experimenting with new images, including that of the world as God's body. As a metaphor it is not to be understood literally. It invites us to see all things in God, and God in all things."214 However, this metaphor, which was also present in ancient mythologies,215 is one that is so powerful that it could significantly alter one's view toward God. If one wanted to understand the immanence of God in his connection with creation, why choose panentheism? Why not choose Eastern Orthodox theology, which is more discerning in how God's 'thumbprint' may be revealed within his works?216

However, Fisher does have an insightful comment concerning why we should understand the theological framework of the Rt. Rev. Phipps. Says Fisher,

"Since panentheism has undergirded a portion of Mending the World, and is acknowledged by the Reconciling & Making New document on Jesus, it seems to me that it might hold a key in understanding what otherwise seems like rather confusing and inconsistent statements about Jesus, heaven & hell, the resurrection and so forth."217

There are also risks that are involved with adopting panentheism as a world view when it becomes a prime motivator within the Christian faith (rather than a Christocentric-empowered view). "By accepting panentheism [in this fashion], the traditional theistic distinction between the Divine and the created order is dissolved."218 Phipps demonstrates this in part when he says, " The biblical faith is one that is primarily concerned with how we work out our life here in this earth [...] The God we know in scripture calls us to engage life in this world in human relations with each other and with the earth itself. [italics mine]"219 Is this concern of reconciliation with the earth about respecting the earth in stewardship, or is it dissolving distinctions? The risks of panentheism include: "the conceptualization of Christ as an impersonal force [his personality would be contained within creation], the elimination of any conceptualization of the resurrection [... including] judgement or hell, [...] the repudiation of the belief that Christ died to save sinners [opposite to Rom. 5:8-9], as well as trying to hold contradictory claims that God is good when evil is acknowledged to be present within creation, and Christ is said to be in all things. [italics mine]"220 The last statement would explain why the Moderator may acknowledge the presence of God with the sufferer, and yet also imply that God is not powerful enough to prevent it. Theodicy is a difficult question enough without the presence of panentheism. However, the true reconciliation of God in Christ is more than the Reconciling document proposes. "God is not reconciled, nor does he reconcile himself, but he himself reconciles us or the world to himself (2 Cor. 5:18-19), while we are reconciled to God (Rom. 5:10) or reconcile ourselves to him (2 Cor. 5:20)."221

The Cost of the Controversy: the Continuation of the Exodus From the UCC

The exodus from the UCC essentially started with the New Curriculum in the mid-sixties, but grew to mass proportions during the struggle over the Issue in 1988-90. Ralph Garbe believes that the 1988 General Council decision to allow the ordination of practising homosexuals was more than the catalyst which damaged the restraining dam of the UCC. He called the reaction to this decision as "the largest single exodus of members in the church's [entire] history; [greater even than that caused by the New Curriculum, which was a loss of 92,410 Sunday School students alone in the first year.222 Former UCRF leader, Joe Campbell called for a choice between "Christianity and Churchianity; [and so many from the UCRF left, as well as many other members and adherents]."223 Many United Church people who were either 'kept in the dark' or were sleeping, were now awake and questioning all around them. Says Cumming,

"The exodus, which had already begun, gained momentum. Sad to say, [many of] those who were leaving, did not leave as a body, they left as individuals and families. In some cases, these people were welcomed into the fellowships of other denominations; but others seemed to be wandering in a wilderness. Some, [...] even a year later, were still not attending church anywhere or they [had] not settled into a church home."224

The national church itself estimates the number at 20,000, but the true figure may have been significantly higher. Unfortunately, many of those who withdrew from the church were renewal- minded Christians who felt they had been pushed out of the United Church. Those leaving included the majority of members and leaders of the Renewal Fellowship."225

Since then, the decline has continued in large numbers, with each upcoming change. Victor Shepherd believes that the UCC loses an equivalent of up to 400 members a week, yet the larger United Methodist Church in the US loses up to 1,000 members.226 Even though the exodus in the U.S. is larger, the one from the UCC is more grievous because the denomination is smaller than the United Methodists.227 Says Shepherd, "the [UCC] is two and a half times smaller [per capita] than it was in 1925. [...] Also since 1969, we now have only 28% in attendance [or 320,000 ca.].228 This means that the active church has shrunk by 72%, although the rate of decline never remains constant."229

This 'exodus wave' is causing the UCC to become Canada's fastest shrinking Protestant denomination,230 and even the United Church Head Office says on their home page that there are 3,000,000 [ca.] members and adherents, 701, 968 of which are members, and only 296,600 attend regularly. 231 Both Mackinnon in the Edmonton Journal and Wallin report the number as 700,000"plus" [ca].232 Philip Cline reports that in 1926, the membership of the new [UCC] stood at 609,779 of a Canadian population of nine million [ca]. "In 1996, [...] membership stood at 713,196 of a Canadian population of nearly 30 [million]."233 The exodus was also contributed to by the factor of marginalization, particularly of the leaders of the reform movements, and dissenting clergy. John Trueman also shows stark figures of membership loss during the terms of the four previous moderators. These are as follows: Sang Chul Lee (1988-90) 34, 536; Walter Farquharson (1990-92) 43, 648; Stanley McKay (1992- 94) 31, 513; and Marion Best (1994-97) 41, 018).234 Says Trueman, "our church has been losing an average of 45 members every single day since 1987. [...] This without taking into account the tens of thousands of our members who are stopping out but retaining their membership[...]."235

Mary-Frances Denis, the public-relations person at the Head Office in Etobicoke commented on the latest church statistics. Cline reports her saying that "[The UCC is] in the company of most 'mainline' churches [concerning] declining numbers. [...] Ours is an aging population, [...] and many local churches continue to exhibit health and vitality [due to] geographic location [or] insightful [...] leadership who are able to present the Gospel effectively and develop programmes that meet local need."236 However, John Trueman continues his warning to not be "lured into complacency [...] by those who say comfortingly that all mainline denominations are losing members. Of course they are [italics mine]."237

The Phipps effect238 or phenomemenon239 also increased the exodus in certain evangelical congregations, especially the ethnic ones, who were previously protected from liberal incursion through their own cultural distinctiveness. Although in some of these churches, its 'business as usual' because they essential run their own affairs240 , others are more distressed about the Moderator's comments. One such congregation was Ottawa's Chinese UC. Its pastor, T.K. Ng, was one of many who have complained about the damage of the Phipps' effect. Ng said

"that in 1989, his church split, and 315 members left. [...] The church has slowly built up attendance again, to an average of 300 to 400 [...]. But since [the Moderator's comments], attendence has dropped to about 80 people [more than 300%]. [The]members believe Phipps' views are heresy [...], we have been hurt [...] and have a right to exist."241

Another ethnic church in Winnipeg was also similarly affected.242 However, even "though [many in] the United Church have been troubled by the declining numbers - some attribute it to an emphasis of social action over spiritual practice --- Phipps said people are returning one by one."243 Thus, the Moderator does not seem troubled by this trend, as is shown in the following quote. Stern reports that "Phipps sees a bright side [?] to the church's declining membership. The United Church 's new position as a 'sideline church', he says, affords other opportunities. 'We can do a lot more. We can change society from the margins. We can critique a society that has lost its moral centre."244 What of the cost? Mr. Phipps does not seem to be disturbed by the cost as shown by the exodus. In fact, the controversy to him "is a healthy sign [that] the church is beginning to fulfil its role as a social advocate."245 Phipps says, that he does not "[...] think [that the UCC] generates enough controversy, [and that] we need to take even greater risks [especially in pushing harder on specific social issues]."246 Yet, what of the other costs, such as the lack of financial support to the Mission and Service fund? What of the cost to the Gospel message?

The Cost of the Controversy: Mission and Service Fund Continues to Decline

Another cost of the controversy is the decline of financial support, especially in the form of the Mission and Service Fund. This fund finances home and overseas missionaries, theological education, television programming such as Spirit Connection on the Vision cable network, emergency assistance (like the ice storms in Montreal and eastern Ontario), and many other good things. Yet it also is used for court cases against dissenting ministers, as in the example of Ronald McCaw, the founder of the UCRF, Ted Wigglesworth, the former president of the NACC, and other clergy. The official use of the M&S budget includes: congregational life/discipleship and mission, (31.41%), Church in mission beyond the congregation (including grants and emergency relief) (29.45%), Financial, Information and Administrative Support (12.8%), Support for Ministry Personnel (including theological education of different forms, candidates, and missionaries) (9.42%), Conference Support (9.29%), General Council UCC Polity and Theology (3.87%), and Pension, Group Insurance and Investment (3.77). 247 John Asling gave a disturbing report to the General Council commissioners during August 1997:

"Michael Scott, chairperson of the church's Division of Finance, told the nearly 400 commissioners meeting at Camrose, Alberta, that the church's financial lifeline, the Mission and Service Fund, is in trouble. Scott wanted commissioners to know the state of the church's finances before they endorse actions this week that would add to the already under-funded, overwhelmed budget. Only one quarter of our members give to the Mission and Service Fund, and the number of givers has declined 14% over the past six years. Over 22% of our donors has been lost in recent years. The average per donor remittance is $157 per year. Our donor base is aging and declining . . . ."Many congregations are choosing to invest their money in themselves and their communities and many have no idea what work is being supported by the Mission and Service Fund . . . . [Scott went on to say that] there are no more funds available for 1998 unless the church goes deeper into its reserve fund something he doesn't advise or undoes commitments currently being made."248

Asling was concerned that the UCC is not living within its means and is currently using the reserve fund as a form of "pain killer."249 This action disguises the problem of establishing budgets (with shrinking revenues), without being clear about visioning or priorities (both short and long-term). Asling reported that the "reserve fund now stands at about $8.1 million and while that sounds like a lot of money, [but it is spent quickly as is shown by the following quote]."250 Scott said that this figure "represents two months spending by the church or three months givings to the Mission and Service fund. "251

John Trueman gave thoughtful insight to this shortfall in the following quote:

"When will headquarters realize that no amount of spending and advertising [in the Observer and in local congregational bulletins]will convince members that some of M&S [fund] is being used for purposes that many cannot in conscience condone? When will we get a straight answer on how much is being spent on such spin-offs of the inflexible liberal agenda as legal defences and settlements?Why should an aging membership leave bequests to a Church which refuses to take their concerns seriously?252

Some responses concerning the M & S Fund both before and during the controversy include many congregations funding their own projects and mission trips with funds that may be otherwise delegated.253 Many individuals also take a stand of not supporting this fund as well.254 Jack Waller even publicly sent a complaint in the form of an open online letter to Virginia Coleman, the Secretary of the General Council. In it, he was concerned of the lack of credibility of the Council's decision to support Mr. Phipps, as well as a concern of the diversion of more M & S Funds. Says Waller, "The monies which will be diverted into damage control will serve to further erode [...] the M & S Fund, which continues to suffer, due to manner in which the United Church has allowed itself to become embroiled in temporal concerns."255

What is the Moderator's response to the shrinking Mission and Service Fund? Asling reports Phipps' concern as follows:

"The church has to get its financial house in order to tackle some of the political issues of the day. He worries about the decline of the church's Mission and Service Fund. He wishes all United Church members could attend councils such as the Camrose meeting so that they might see the breadth of the work, the commitment of staff, the spirit of the group. If they did, "Mission and Service givings would triple," Phipps predicted. "For United Church people, the money is there if they were inspired enough by our story."256

The Cost of the Controversy: Cost to the Gospel

Bill Phipps is in many ways a inheritor of skepticism, and of the 'modern' world-view (although he may be somewhat influenced by the post-modern view as well). Skeptics have often claimed that they were not out to harm others Christian faith.257 Bill Phipps has said this in a public apology (apology in the general modern sense) and regret in a pastoral address on Vision television:

"Some people have been extremely exhilarated by the comments as reported and caused them to have many conversations with friends, [...] neighbours and many other people. Other people have felt deeply hurt, that somehow I was taking issue with some of the fundamentals of their faith and I want to apologize to anyone who was hurt by what I was reported to have said. I honour people whose faith is deeply rooted and grounded in the traditional understanding of our creeds and our Christian faith. Indeed, the strength of our United Church is that we do respect people and where they stand along the long continuum of our Christian belief.258

He also expressed this concern in the Parkdale UC meeting when asked about his regrets. He told those in attendance, "I would never ever want to hurt anyone, especially on things that go to the heart of our faith."259 If he had to do it again, says Muriel Duncan, "He would begin with his positive faith statements, but he'd [sic] still answer honestly and directly."260 However, apologetically, one must understand that there can be actual differences between a skeptic's motives and the result of the skeptic's actions.261 How many have been stumbled by the confusion caused by the controversy? Has this really helped the Gospel?

Phipps would do better to begin on a positive note, as earlier suggested by Muriel Duncan. For it is best not to preach agnosticism and doubt but faith and the Gospel (which includes service). Graham Scott also believes this core truth of evangelism, as is shown in the following quote:

"Emmanuel Principal Earl Lautenschlager's insistence years ago [was] that ministers should preach what they believe, not what they don't [sic] or cannot yet believe. What we may not believe will likely not help spread the Gospel. But what we do manage to believe can be used by God to build up the faith in our congregations and in seekers." 262 Phipps also realized his mistake in at least not mentioning his doubts first (although it would not have been wise to talk about them to the media at all). Harvey reports the Moderator's regrets as follows:

"Mr. Phipps said that because he was caught off-guard, he made the mistake of saying first what he did not believe, and those negatives have stuck in people's minds. Now he says he begins by saying first what he does believe. [...] As this thing has gone on, I think the conversations with people have been even more interesting. I think they have encouraged people, basically."263

Another part of proclaiming the Gospel is through actions, and many times UCC people do this out of genuine faith. However, actions must be undergirded by a positive faith to have a real impact apologetically. Says Graham Scott, "[...] When actions are coupled with denials of the faith, we think that the witness of the action is being drowned out by the noise of the denials."264 Perhaps it would be best for Mr. Phipps to just do his good works and not make theological comments, except perhaps to ask his popular question, 'who is Jesus to you?' Scott also asks that the Moderator would "let his good works speak for themselves and not drown out their message with front-page denials of the faith. Perhaps his gift is to lead in doing good and in calling Canada to social justice. [Yet], clearly, his gift is not that of theology, [...] apologetics or [...] of evangelism."265

The Moderator's Wording Issue: Word Smith Or Contextualization?

Earlier in the paper, it was mentioned that Bill Phipps is a word smith, in the sense of using specific words that may have one meaning, yet mean something else entirely. This may connect with his outspoken desire to not use language from earlier eras266 Jim Breen commented on Phipps' modified argument (on the Vision Network) concerning the 'mere' change of word context. Says Breen, "That statement on Vision [...] did not contradict his previous statements! He was just silently redefining his terms [...] to state [...] 'I am comfortable saying that Jesus is the Word made flesh' is another example of the radical theologians in the tradition of Tillich, using traditional language to say very different things!!!"267 James Beverley states that one of the examples of 'sloppy thinking' that Phipps appears guilty of in this context is of equivocation, or the "careless use of words [which means] using a word in a different way than the general meaning of a word."268 Another witness to this slippery use of words is a UCC minister who has been placed on the discontinued service list, perhaps for being so outspoken in his views, although officially this has not been made public. Through this following quote the pain of dissociation from the UCC is very evident.269 Says Wigglesworth:

"While the moderator has changed his latest statements to better reflect the whole of the church, remember that Bill is a words smith and will change the words to sound in the way he thinks you will accept them. He will change his way of speaking according to the group he speaks to. His ultimate intention is to change the UCC to the church that reflects his first interview with the Ottawa Citizen. He will use any means to do this. The most effective means in the long plan is to change the way the structure works. This is not a flashy out there thing like his interview but it is where the real miracle of Jesus Christ and the Holly Spirit can take place if we as people who believe in Jesus are willing to take a stand. I hate to say it but all the public protest will do little good. You have already seen how the executive of General Council has affirmed both Bill and the Basis of Union even though Bill denied 17 of the 20 articles of faith. They are very good at double talk. The only way to make sure that we can proclaim the Gospel is to insure that the principles of the Basis of Union are guaranteed in law. That is what my case can do if I have the financial support to keep going.270

Gualtieri, a religion professor, defended the Moderator's beliefs and said that Phipps is actually more conservative in his doctrinal beliefs than his 'critics' might hold him to be. "He said that if you analyze Mr. Phipps' words in the initial Citizen interview [...], and at meetings like that at Ottawa's Parkdale United, [...] you find that 'Mr. Phipps is almost boringly conservative, [because the words are different, but the concepts seem to be the same]."271 This same professor also believes that Phipps' critics have confused faith (which is an orientation that implies action)272 with belief.273 However, is there not a propositional side to faith as well as an active experiential one?274 The 'beliefs' that many UCC evangelicals are concerned about are a part of Mr. Phipps' faith - as much as a tomato stake holds up a vulnerable sprawling plant.275 So while it is true that faith and belief are not exactly the same thing in orientation, they are very much interconnected to bring ones faith into maturity. Yet, notice that Gualtieri does not mention that where Mr. Phipps' words are the same, the meanings may be very different. Don Anderson also proposes that belief is no mere dry and sterile intellectual assent, but is the "mentor of existence, [...] and the pervasive of life. [He finds that] belief is not that which [he] confess[es], but [...] it is that which God is confessing in me."276

Perhaps this word smithing/contextualization concern is one that affects far more than the Moderator. Victor Shepherd believes that there has been a deliberate change in the meaning of religious symbols for some time.277 He said that the understanding behind religious terminology may subtly change, but the symbol would not at first.278 Perhaps this is a time of transition? But a transition into what? After the meaning behind the symbol would change, eventually the symbol itself would have to be completely changed.279 However, the death of core symbols can be very damaging to faith, because within those symbols are truth that can be too deep to articulate into words. Thus, according to Leanne Payne, when the symbols die, so does the faith.280

The Moderator also strongly believes in dialogue, and he has been insistent on it all along during the controversy. Part of the dialogue concern includes the importance of mutual respect, especially of the personhood of those in dialogue. Relationship is the key for Phipps, and this is a good concern. He also seems easily offended when the pain and frustrations of others are put in strong words. For example, when Gail Reid asked whether the orthodox theological perspective could be protected by motions through Conference and Presbytery, and gave the example of Ted Wigglesworth's situation (of being removed from his church and disallowed from applying for other UC pastoral positions) she informed the Moderator that "many were suspicious that he was an example of [...] persecution [against outspoken evangelical clergy/reform leaders]".281 His reply focused more upon his concern of that word than of answering Reid's question. Instead, he said, "Obviously, there's a difference of opinion."282 It appears to him that 'persecution' cuts off dialogue (which is true), yet what can be done about the problem of hate mail and incidents such as finding a bag of excrement smeared on renewal group buttons at the Camrose General Conference (in August 1997)? Phipps believes that using terms such as 'persecution' even if one is marginalized "reinforces [...] exclusion."283 As long as the dialogue is not just words, but also actions that respect the personhood of all involved, this is reasonable. Yet, has this really been happening?

Phipps truly believes that the language in which we understand Christ must be one that is contemporary in order for people to meet the living Christ. This is quite true, for culture can be used as an effective tool for the Gospel. However, he may not understand the need for apologetics around the core truths behind the ancient creeds, and thus, be caught unknowingly in "chronological snobbery."284 Does he believe that the 'new' scholarship such as the Jesus Seminar is better because it is new? Would he be willing to admit that there is more than his 'modern' worldview allows him to see? He said in the Pamela Wallin interview that he is more open than he used to be.285 Perhaps there is hope here for true understanding. Muriel Duncan asked the Moderator how he thought Christians would best grow in faith and understanding. It is here that his motive of contextualization shows best. Says Phipps,

"God is not embarrassed by anything we think or do, by any questions we might have. We don't [sic] have to protect God. We have to engage in honest and open struggle where any question is acceptable. We have a great opportunity now. People in our society are yearning for spiritual sustenance. The whole Christian church is in danger of hiding behind dogma and words that were written 1600 years ago. I'd rather meet the living Christ than one wrapped up in language we don't [sic] understand."286

Concern of Over-Contextualization: is the Gospel lost?

Even though Phipps has given an apology for hurting the feelings of church members;287 he still refuses to step down or to retract his statements, since they are personally held beliefs.288 However, he seems to be confused about how this is affecting the church. According to Harvey, "Phipps said his worst fear is that the controversy over his views will divide the church, but his hope is that church members will see it as an opportunity to 'invite people to see the significance of Jesus in our world [italics mine]."289

It is quite probable that Phipps believes he is trying to contextualize his form of the gospel, but even his version has been skewed by decades of the surrounding culture. There simply is nothing left to adapt, because if current culture has been adopted in the central core of the faith, it ties you to culture, and when culture declines, so does the church! To this, John Neal formerly of the UCRF had long ago given a plea concerning the destruction of United Church uniqueness. He reminded them that "we cannot be all things to all people.290 Thus, it is essential that the United Church be called back to what is central and core to her faith, and to reevaluate, in spite of Head Office's decision to defend Phipps because he fits within the inclusive scope of the church. Inclusivity works well, but only if you have a core identity and grounding. If this is lost, than the moorings are lost, and that which held the church falls apart.

One of the areas where Phipps uses contextualization is in the example of salvation. He uses the word in different contexts in his interview with Gail Reid (for Fellowship Magazine) and in his address to Metropolitan UC in London (November 13, 1997). When Reid asked him about orthodox beliefs and the importance of making a choice in their faith (while respecting the dignity of the person to choose), he talked about his father's ministry with teenage boys in showing him the example of Jesus. In this context was Phipps' view of salvation. Reid asked him:

"[Would your father] 'have shared what he believed if [the boys] had asked him?' [Phipps replied], Oh, sure, but he was also a person who respected other people's right to think what they thought and would encourage them to do that." [Reid followed with], 'And to make a choice?' [Phipps replied] 'Well, make a choice or continue in dialogue for the rest of their life. I know people who say: 'The only way to salvation, the only way to heaven is to believe in Jesus Christ as your personal Lord and Saviour. That's the only way you are going to get to heaven and anyone who is not saved by Jesus Christ is going to hell.' They are very clear about it. I know others who also believe this, who have no desire to impose it on anyone else. They will accept that other people have a different point of view which is just as valid as theirs. It is just that they disagree fundamentally. Those two people have the same belief; but the way they carry it out, the way they relate to other people, is totally different.That is where the dilemma is."291

However, Phipps also believes that "its the height of arrogance to claim that a particular group of people know the only way to God. [...] Anything you say about faith must be said in humility. Its arrogant to think we have the answers to everything, [...] and that our experience is the only [valid one] and that everyone else is wrong. [...] There are countless people, [...] and experiences of God that other people can have." 292 However, even though Phipps' believes that salvation through Jesus is not unique (although he is not clear on whether the salvation of the non-Christian is inclusive as in the concept of Karl Rahner's anonymous Christians, or whether it is a pluralist view), he does acknowledge the need for salvation in the form of reconcilation and healing (or perhaps the Hebraic meaning of shalom?) Phipps' address to Metropolitan UC included this quote:

"Salvation, and I've got to say this because some people have asked about salvation, I think salvation for our world, which is in deep need of salvation, is through witness to the love and the justice and the compassion of Jesus Christ and not through the market economy, political power or any other kind of thing where people are looking for salvation now.[true] The spirit of God in Christ energizes me, forgives me, empowers me to engage the dark corners of our life; to heal the broken, to stand in solidarity with the oppressed; and to embrace the weak. And I think the United Church of Canada is strong and provides a Christian home for people who are struggling with what life means and wants to struggle with that question with fellow travellers and people who can love understand, honour and respect each other. [italics mine]"293

Phipps' concern for reaching out to the downtrodden has already become very clear - this is part of a missionary mandate. However, is he using evangelical terminology here to satisfy the evangelicals in that congregation? In this address, he also raised the issue of evangelism through the controversy created by his remarks (which shall be covered in the Romans 8:28 section). Says Phipps, "Now isn't that wonderful? Wouldn't it be marvellous if everyone in our society was trying understand and come to grips with who this Jesus is, for us and for the world? Isn't that what evangelism is about? Isn't that what spreading the Gospel is about?"294 He sounds almost evangelical in this remark.

Muriel Duncan raised the issue that some UC people were concerned that the Moderator is advocating salvation by works.295 An Alvinston UC pastor very strongly portrays this view online. Says Breen,

"The alternative Phipps presents, is one of works, not grace! If Jesus is only a prophet whom we should listen to, then we are only given hard work to save the world. Since Jesus the dead prophet did not address every issue then we don't [sic] live in 'relationship with him today' but before God! As we seek to live 'responsibly before God,' choosing the best ways we can figure out to bring in the Kingdom [...] on a practical level are left trying to save the world. Phipps' own language about social action [in the original article?]betrays this orientation [italics mine]."296

Duncan also addresses this issue, but directly has given the Moderator an opportunity to reply. Says Duncan, "To some, the Citizen article suggested you might favour salvation by good works [meaning your soul is lost unless you care about those starving in the streets] over salvation by faith."297 Phipps gives a detailed answer to this question that includes the grace of God as essential, but he does not mention the need of asking for salvation. Says Phipps,

" What does God require of us? Jesus continues to call his followers to 'do justice, love tenderly, and walk humbly with God' (Micah 6:8). If you don't [sic] understand the nature of evil, that every institution and person is subject to powers and principalities that twist goodness into evil, then actions can become arrogant and isolated from reality. You hope with all your energy that what you are doing is helpful, but you don't [sic] know. We need God's grace. The good news is God loves us totally and unconditionally. Now we don't [sic] believe it. If we really believed then we could go out into the world and try to live as Christ did, knowing we'll make mistakes, knowing God will love us anyway. I don't [sic] like the word salvation anyway. The purpose of all the good works is not to chalk up brownie points; that 's why the word salvation bothers me. It's not that I'd do this to be saved. Not at all. We are already saved in God's love. [boldening mine]"298

Again, it is essential to ask, what of the salvific aspect of personal faith? Was he saying that we are "already saved" because he knew he was speaking to UCC people? He may have answered Muriel Duncan's question, but his answer causes many more questions. Perhaps this would be another dialogue topic with the Moderator.

Responses- From "Repent and Resign" to Applause: Why the whole continuum?

The UCC was known for its diversity in theology and ministry from its very inception when nearly all of the Canadian Methodists, all of the Congregationalists and many of the Presbyterians united into one church.299 However, the reconciling theology in the Basis of Union cannot fully explain why the United Church has "such heated debates over key issues."300 What can shed light on this situation? Is it merely a matter of having different but equally valid opinions (which is relativistic), or is the plight more serious? David Fisher examined the presuppositions that are in the UCC and declared them to be major worldviews.301 Two of these orientations are from the surrounding culture, and the other is the biblical theistic worldview. The first two are the modern and post-modern world views. The modern 'lens' has questioned everything in "the light of reason and conscience [in its desire of eliminating] superstition [where] reason [becomes] the key to certain or absolute knowledge of the world."302 This powerful world view tends to dismiss the divinity of Christ, the bodily resurrection, the second coming of Christ, and miracles as being prescientific. Revelation is replaced by reason, and with the addition of Godfried Lessing,303 a 'ditch' is created between the Christ of Faith and the Historical Jesus. Both the latter quests for the Historical Jesus and the modern Jesus Seminar are direct descendants of this view. Thus, when some Christians are more influenced by the modern world view than others (including Bill Phipps), there will be disagreement.

What of the third worldview, that of postmodernism? Postmodernism has been in evidence for at least twenty years, and it:

"points out that the process of selecting and analyzing what we observe is unavoidably filled with bias. As a result, postmodernists tend to reject any claim to a universal standard of truth, and, going further, tend to criticize all such claims as being inherently oppressive. For [this person], truth is definitely not 'one size fits all.' Rather, truth is viewed as having been created or made up over time by a particular community; it is thought to be 'constructed' as one might construct or write a story. [...] If there are no absolutes, "[...] then social convention ends up determining ethics. [...] Truth [then becomes] what we make of it, and as such, every interpretation is viewed as equally valid [italics mine]."304

The view of each opinion being just as valid as another appears in some of the responses to the Moderator, and even in his views as well. For example, in his interview with Gail Reid, there was discussion on whether dialogue would be possible in an atmosphere of disagreement. He gave thoughtful answers in the interview, such as respect for the opposing person in debate. This is where Phipp's legal background shows itself. Says Phipps, "Part of [this] is my legal training. Lawyers are trained to go into court and argue opposite sides of a case as vigourously as possible, using everything at their disposal. After that they should be able to [...] talk together, and say, [...]'I never thought of that argument. Where did you get that case?"305 However, influence from postmodernism's relativism was also prevalent in the interview when he advised that UC clergy should accept their parishoners views as equally valid.306 Says Phipps, "I think the UC minister has to be able to respect contrary points of view within their congregation, and the church at large, and not feel that they are wrong or that their job is to convert them to their point of view."307 Yet, when Reid asked what would happen to evangelicals in a more liberal church, he responded as follows. "Nothing happens to them. The way you are talking it sounds like if I believe something there is going to be some authority to come and tell me I am wrong. Nobody tells me what to believe."308 The Moderator's defensiveness in this comment also reveals a trace of post modern thinking.309

Fisher believes that there are Christians [both within and without the UCC] who hold "to a greater or lesser extent, each of these three world-views."310 So why if we are all influenced in differing degrees by these worldviews is it not possible to agree? Says Fisher, "Sometimes its because the [presuppositional] undercarriage is just too different, [which is especially shown through the past] debates [...] with respect to the ordination of homosexuals."311 The apologetical arguement of popularity is one that is quite prevalent in the UCC at this time, and this is where postmodernism is most evident in the church. Says Fisher,

"How the [UCC] has responded to the recent controversy over the public statements of the Moderator [...] also reflects a postmodern emphasis. His comments were defended not so much on the basis of how well they conform to a core understanding of Christian belief, or even based on reason, but rather on the strength of support he had in making them, their relative popularity, and that they were respectful of diversity. [...] Without the acknowledgement of an objective standard by which to 'settle the arguement', the [UCC] is left with the difficult task of trying to build a consensus about what we believe. [...] Understanding the postmodern way of looking at the world helps to explain why we study issues as a Church. Whatever the issue, we tend to take part in a broad Church-wide consultation. Everyone has a voice. Our stance is not so much a declaration of 'this is true' based on an appeal to biblical norms, but rather it is a reflection of a collection of opinions on specific topics - some more or less biblically informed."312

Thus, it is important to remember the presuppositions and world-views of not only the Moderator, but of all who have responded in the following sections. Each worldview has its own definition of what a Christian is313 of who Jesus is to them and of what outreach to the world is, that of evangelism, dialogue, mercy work, social service.

Responses in the United Church: Renewal Groups

The Renewal groups are generally opposed to much of the theology behind the Moderator's remarks, but not his social service. Some of the official responses of these groups are stated in full in the appendix section. This response section will briefly cover some of the other replies of the renewal leaders and participants. Many of the lay participants in the renewal groups are standing up and protecting their evangelical clergy from presbytery censure,314 and are otherwise encouraging them. One of these participants is Ian Outerbridge, a Toronto-area lawyer and United Church former elder, who said that "[...] he believes there are good legal grounds for laying a charge against Phipps within the church's own courts. He said 'there is a serious question as to whether or not he ought to even be a member of the United Church of Canada. Outerbridge [also] said Phipp's opinions are heretical, and he could be charged with spreading false teaching, and failing in his duty as moderator to provide spiritual leadership to the church."315 Mr. Outerbridge is only one of many who think this may be possible. There was also a legal attempt by pastor Don Anderson to censure the Moderator, but this did not succeed. COC president John Trueman's response was one of the strongest of all, and has been included in full in the Appendices. The opposing response to his remarks have been varied, but includes calling Phipps a false teacher,316 an iconoclast of ecumenical orthodox church doctrine such as what is contained in Christmas and Easter, (and including that of the World Council of Churches), the Twenty Articles of the Basis of Union 318 the United Church manual319 and even the New Curriculum that was so shocking in 1964-65.320 These are some very strong responses indeed. Gail Reid's later response to the controversy was to see what God is doing through the controversy, to assess the damage and begin the healing. She perceptively has written that it is not Bill Phipps entirely who is to blame, for he has "stated openly his concern and burden for those hurt by his statements. For months he has travelled across the country pleading for dialogue and respect for our diversity. The problem is that before he ever spoke, we were vulnera ble as a church. The secular media's hunger for controversy only exposed our weakness. We seem to have lost the very thing that brought us together - our unity of belief. [...] This is not a plea for watering down our faith, but rather an opportunity to proclaim it, [and] pray for our Church - especially those who are hurting because of this. [...] Repent and forgive. In Christ, there are no divisions."321

Responses: Some Opposed Clergy

Responses from opposed clergy vary. Some call the moderator a heretic, an apostate,322 while others are questioning why he would publically speak his views when they are not within basic agreement of the Basis of Union (of 1925), a 'creed'323 that all seminary students and those in ministry must accept upon ordination.324 Consequently, many pastors have distanced themselves from his statements, in preaching about all that he dismissed325 and many have been demanding that he step down to show that he is at least responsible.326

There are different concerns behind these pastors' protests. Allan Schooley, a Calgary pastor (Southwood UC) who publically called Phipps a heretic, was concerned with ecumenical relations with other churches because of the moderator's remarks. Indeed, says Schooley, that [... Phipps] definitely stated Jesus was not God, which I think first and foremost is problematic.''327 Schooley said that he planned to preach a sermon called Heresy In High Places.328 Also, in a letter to the editor of the Calgary Herald, Glenn Wilms, (a retired minister at Calgary's Central UC) also suggested the Moderator pastor should consider his future in light of his earlier comments. Said Wilms, "If Phipps is still not in agreement with the 20 Articles of Doctrine of the church, he should resign as a minister and offer to serve as moderator in a non-theological capacity."329

Allen Churchill (the senior minister of Dominion-Chalmers UC) also remarks, "[The Moderator's comments] puts the United Church outside of the historical centre of the Christian church'' It will also make it impossible to attract new church members, [...] as well as make it equally difficult to work ecumenically with other Christian churches [italics mine]."330 Allen Churchill, the senior pastor of Dominion-Chalmers UC in Ottawa, was also concerned with interdenominational outreach:

"The United Church of Canada has always been ecumenically oriented," [...] "How can we work with other churches if we [do not] have the same theological basis?' Churchill [believes] Phipps' views clash with the Articles of the Basis of Union of the United Church, the agreement which in 1925 brought together the Methodist, Presbyterian and Congregationalist churches. That document, he says, confirms a belief that Christ is the son of ... God and the way to salvation. "If he thinks he speaks for the majority of church members, then the United Church is no longer a Christian church, but is a unitarian church with Jesus as teacher," said Churchill. "No moderator has the ability or mandate to redefine the theology of our church [italics mine]."331

One minister, who often writes for the various renewal groups, is Don Faris. In his response to Bill Phipps, he challenges his belief in supporting modern scholarship, such as the Jesus Seminar. Faris's sardonic wit is most apparent in the following quote:

"We certainly should look to modern scholarship. If Bill Phipps, who claims he is no theologian, was a good theologian, he would know that the Jesus Seminar is considered to be a bad joke in the scholarly world. It is a self-selected group of Unitarians and ultra-liberals who vote on the texts of the gospels to give their opinions of whether Jesus really said it or not."332

However, a modifying statement regarding the Jesus Seminar is that it is not entirely composed of 'radical liberals and Unitarians', but some evangelicals and more moderate liberals such as Michael Steinhauser.333 Not all of the members are like John Dominic Crossan (who believes Jesus' body was eaten by dogs).334 Faris continues in his sermon to draw together two opposites that are preached by Phipps in a logical attempt to defend the gospel. Says Faris, "[...] the ironic part of the Moderator's telling us to consult the alleged scholarship of the Jesus Seminar is that this group [...] voted that Jesus did not say one word of Matthew 25:31-46. So on the basis of the authority of the Jesus Seminar, Bill Phipps should stop telling us that Jesus said to feed the poor, clothe the naked, visit the sick, etc."335 The acerbic humour of some of the loyal opposition336 can surely be appreciated when seeking to understand such a serious matter.

Responses: Opposed Presbyteries

Some of the Presbyteries were opposed to the Moderator's remarks. Some of these include Halifax and Oshawa. The Halifax presbytery also called for prayer for Mr. Phipps, while the Oshawa presbytery gave a specific critique of the comments concerning underlying relativism. Part of that response is as follows:

"While recognizing how genuine and deeply felt is the Moderator's social concern, we are disturbed by his failure to ground that concern within the core of the Church's faith and life. His statement that 'Jesus talks economics more than he talks about anything else' constitutes a grossly unbalanced treatment of the scriptural witness. The rejection of a positive correlation between a 'proper relationship with Jesus' and moral conduct is based on embarrassingly scant historical evidence. Throughout the interview, the Moderator seemed to be adrift on a sea of relativism, offering few grounds for understanding g social needs or moving church and society to respond to them. [...] The impression is given that we [the UCC] are very wishy-washy about the great themes of Christmas and Easter [...]."337

This statement is only one of the responses of opposed presbyteries.

Opposed Laity

Responses from laity also vary as widely as the clergy. One music minister from Renfrew ON commented on the Moderator's theology and compared it to some of the hymn titles in the new hymn book Voices United. Some of the hymns included "Holy, Holy, Holy," "The Day of Resurrection," "What a Friend We Have in Jesus, " "All Hail the Power of Jesus' Name," "What Child is This," "Lift High the Cross," "Just as I Am," "Amazing Grace" and many more hymns with similar content.338 She was concerned that Phipps was insinuating that Voices United was full of misconceptions. Says Brydges,

"Would he suggest a new committee be formed to "once again" produce a suitable United Church hymnal? Should it include such hymn titles as: "Jesus Was Not God," "Christmas and Easter are Deceptions," "Your Church Wedding is Unnecessary," "I Don't Know if There's a Heaven or Hell," "I Have No Idea Where You Go When You Die." Would these new hymn titles be of assistance to the Moderator in his responsibility as noted in the United Church "MANUAL" section 511: 'to give leadership to the United Church, especially in spiritual things, quickening in the hearts of the people a sense of God as revealed in Christ, and heartening and strengthening the whole United Church?'"339

On a practical and pastoral note, she is concerned of teaching unbiblical concepts. Don Anderson responded to Brydges on-line complaint. He was somewhat puzzled by the possibility that although "Bill Phipps has expressed difficulty with the scientific possibility of the resurrection, [...] apparently there is no difficulty in singing hymns which express concepts he doesn't [sic] believe in. [Yet], the new hymn book [may appear to be] an authoritative statement of what the General Council perceives its people believe.

Other lay responses to the Moderator in the United Church Observer include: calling the church a glorified social movement,340 Phipps a secular humanist,341 a non-Christian,342 a theist, humanist and social activist,343 that the Moderator should reconsider his career,344 a slap- in-the-face for struggling congregations,345 a jerk,346 a call to pray for Phipps' conversion,347 that Phipps would make a good Kiwanis service club president,348 and a successful politician.349 Other responses include: more upset and discouragement350 that the moderator is "completely out of 'sync' with the lay members"351 and that if UC members who do not believe in Jesus' divinity should wish to leave, they should be allowed to essentially form their own churches.352 One response compared the decline of the UCC with that of the more conservative churches. Says John Edelhofer, "It's sad to see the [UCC] slipping ever farther into apostasy. It is ironic that [more evangelical] Christianity is experiencing rapid growth while the [UCC] rolls decline."353

There are many more responses of this type, in both the Observer and Fellowship Magazine that express hurt, betrayal and confusion. Some of these responses are also on the internet moderator rresponse sites. There have also been direct responses to the Head Offices, some directly to the Moderator by e-mail, and letter, and others to other executive leaders. It is no wonder that the General Council Executive responded in their address that 'We acknowledge that there is pain in the body of Christ."354 Now can there be healing?

Seminary Students: Emerging Leaders

Jim Love, a VST student has many questions of Mr. Phipps, both positive and negative. He challenges Phipps on the 'I'm no theologian" issue, as have others mentioned above, in a way that invites others to consider theology for everyone. Peter Wyatt, during a panel on theological education in Faithfulness Today V said he believed that lifelong learning in theology is important. "The church does not just 'rubber stamp' the academy. It has to make its own confession [to critically reflect their faith]"355 at Faithfulness Today V. May 2. Hamilton ON.) The importance of understanding the heritage of the UCC and of the Church at Large is essential, otherwise there is a danger of the church's vitality shrivelling up. Kowalski called the United Church ten years ago a "cut flower church" [that was completely cut off from its roots]. Thus, it appears that Peter Wyatt has understood this danger, and encouraged learning, asking questions and finding out where their church has come from.356 Jim Love picks up this theme when he writes:

"The moderator is not like a Pope? We are not required to agree with him. Why concern ourselves about the theological 'error of Bill Phipps' ways? We're not theologians? Are we? Theology means [...] theo, the Greek for God [...] and ology, the 'study of', in this case, God. [A] theologian [is] one who studies about God. Whether we know it or not, we are all studiers of God. We all ask the fundamental questions. [...] To be a human is to ask [if] there [is] a God. We cannot help but be theologians. And as Christian theologians, we ask special questions [such as] Who is Jesus?"357

The Christmas Confession

During the Christmas season, many pastors and laity signed a new and clear confession of their belief of Jesus' divinity and other essentials of the Christian faith. This confession began on the site of associate pastor Brian Wilkie of Dominion-Chalmers church in Ottawa.358

It was released on Christmas Eve and has been circulated by the Internet, fax and mail, as well as through the renewal groups. Says Wilkie, "There are [many] members of the church feeling lonely and isolated as they hear the leadership profess a different gospel. We're just trying to encourage one another."359 This confession was produced independently of any "existing organization inside or outside the [UCC, which include the renewal groups, although it has since been supported by these groups]."360

Bill Phipps' response to this grassroots confession (which includes both clergy and laity) especially centres around the assertion that " the [UCC] has been brought to a crisis in which we must answer again the question Jesus asked of His disciples: 'Who do you say that I am? [and the statement within the confession that] Jesus is God."361 Says Phipps,

"It isn't [sic] a crisis. I think it is a bit alarmist, a bit of an overstatement. It's generated some wonderful discussion. [...] [And the confession's statement that] 'Jesus is God' is not one which Christians within the Reform tradition would normally make. This 'Jesus is God' is not the way we talk.' It is the way newspapers talk. Reform theology would never make such a bald, short unexplained statement. We talk about Jesus being fully human, fully divine, or Word made flesh, or He came to reconcile and make new."362

This confession gathered 250 lay and 65 clergy signatures nationwide during the Christmas holidays,363 [with one hundred of those signatures within the first 48 hours]364 and this response is still growing. Andrew Stirling also insightfully and loosely compared the Christmas confession to the Barmen declaration, which is the historical confession of the German Confessing church during the Nazi regime.365 He also defended the Confession in a Faithfulness Today Seminar by saying, "[that] when [people] criticize the Christmas confession, I suggest that they read Karl Barth."366 Although the current controversy is not the same as the confessing church, there is a need to continue to uphold the divinity of Jesus as central, thus recognizing him as the empowering centre. This notion is shown within the declaration as "The [UCC] can only be faithful and strengthened to serve others and resist evil whenever it corporately confesses that Jesus Christ is Lord and Saviour."367 Therefore, the Christmas confession represents the grassroots of the UCC in a positive way as a proclamation of faith. Peter Wyatt also believes that this confession shows "a serious undertaking to be constructive," and also hopes that the evangelicals within the UCC will enter fully into studying the Reconciling document.368 Another stimulus for the UCC evangelicals to respond in this area was encouraged at the Faithfulness Today conference.

Concerning Andrew Stirling's position, he very wisely has declined to comment officially in the controversy (especially since it would be a conflict of interest as a former moderator nominee to either call for Phipps' resignation or publicly censure him).369 He has shown respect for Mr. Phipps by providing his church, Parkdale UC Ottawa, as a place where the Moderator could ameliorate the controversy, and Lloyd Mackey believes that this had great significance. Says Mackey,

"The ability of Phipps and Stirling to work out the arrangements had its own significance. They respect each other - and have a clear understanding of their theological differences. [...] Stirling identifies without hesitation with evangelical and orthodox perspectives, [athough] he and his church are not part of either the [COC or the NACC]. That is important in Ottawa [because it is] a very political city. And Stirling did not want the controversy to become politicized."370

Stirling even continued to move in this cautionary way at the Faithfulness Today conference. Although implications could be inferred because of his topic of the Trinity, he gently announced a disclaimer that the seminar was not "about the Moderator;" that he had been working on this topic for some time, and had planned to give and overview of it at the conference long before the Moderator Controversy.371

Responses: Supportive Clergy

"On the other side of the debate are United Church members who support Mr. Phipps' views and are prone to condemn the media, rather than the moderator for the controversy."372 This attitude was also expressed when the Ottawa Citizen conducted a survey to determine how the Ottawa area churches stood. It appeared that they were divided on the controversy. Those who were concerned commented in some form, while many on the other side of the debate "refused to comment, and some angrily condemned the Citizen for its coverage of the debate."373 One of the Moderator's Ottawa-area supporters is "[...]Peter Lougheed of Kanata UC, who sees the resurrection of Jesus as a spiritual rather than a physical event and views Jesus as a spiritual guide rather than the only way to God."374

The Observer has varied responses from clergy, both opposed and supportive. Some of the supportive responses are as follows: that the church has chosen to be "sidetracked" by the controversy instead of responding to the UCC mission mandate,375 that Bill Phipps merely uses different wording,376 and that what appeared in the original article was "not what Phipps said, but what the journalist wanted to hear."377 Another UC minister quipped in an on-line note that "the best I can do is fault him for an early-term bad case of 'foot-in- mouth' disease, and then get on with the rest of life."378 However, one UC minister was concerned pastorally about those who have been hurt in the controversy because they have not heard Phipps' views before. Says Karen Ptolemy-Stam, ""For many, these are views they've never heard before. It raises questions for us of what happens between theological school and the pulpit."379 A reply to that concern often noted on the moderator response sites is that it is not proclaimed because it is not believed.380 This gap was discussed by Ernest Howse, who had commented that clergy had "believed they were guarding the peace and welfare of the church, but who mistakenly believed that the peace was the welfare instead of the paralysis."381 Thus, this theology surfaced into the notice of the laity with various controversies - which includes the New Curriculum, the Issue and the current Moderator Controversy. These responses are but a few of the ones available, but they give a good cross-section of the varied views even of Phipps's ordained supporters.

Responses: Supportive Laity

Some of the Moderator's lay support came in the form of disagreement with the way his theology was proclaimed, but otherwise they generally backed Mr. Phipps. There were also a sizable number of UCC lay people who supported Mr. Phipps and his theology. The elders of Bloor St. UC in downtown Toronto declared "We have heard similar statements from our pulpit for the last 30 years [...] We do not wish to have some people tell others what they should believe."382 This statement is not surprising, since both controversial former moderators, Ernest Howse and Bruce McLeod pastored this congregation. Some are applauding the Moderator for being 'fresh air' and catalyst of dialogue (yet not realizing the cost). Others focus more on Phipps' mission mandate for justice. Some of the responses from the Observer include: that Phipps' theology can "offer an access point to [...] people [...] outside [...] the church,"383 that "people like [the responder] feel a lot less alone in [their] belief,"384 that "what matters is people on earth,"385 that Phipps is God's gift to the [UCC],386 that traditionalists are arrogant because they refuse to enter into "honest doubt and dialogue,"387 and that the moderator's statements are not unique.388 Other responses include: that the Moderator gave incentive for the study of Reconciling and Making New,389 that [the responder] is no longer in fear of being branded a heretic390 and that Bill Phipps has "sent us scurrying to our Bibles."391 Some longer responses include: " Already we can detect the fresh air. Bill Phipps has started an exciting discussion. There can be no losers in this debate."392 "Bill Phipps has got all thinking theology and Christology, and as the questions lead to more questions, we gain a deeper understanding of God."393 "People are talking about Jesus and what they believe at the after-church coffee hour now, instead of about the w eather."394 Others believe that the controversy reflects the glory of UCC diversity. This diversity is also somewhat reflected in the Moderator's own congregation, but apart from theological disagreement from some, there is general support.

Responses: Mostly Supportive- Phipps' Own Congregation

Scarboro UC in Calgary knew that their pastor would be a catalyst for controversy, as he had promised in his letter to the Camrose General Council delegates. In his statement he had correctly perceived that "people are yearning for both a personal and a social gospel,"395 and he proposed a major launch of his mission mandate. This vision was thoroughly supported by his congregation before his nomination as Moderator. Says Judy Chapman, (who is serving the Scarboro church in Phipps' absence) "His social activism was a good fit with ours. Ours became more so because of his. [...] We're quite supportive of Bill. We're very, very pleased he was elected moderator."396 Chapman also said that the Scarboro congregation was quite aware that he would "stir things up once elected."397

After the controversy started, there was somewhat of a stir in his church, but because there was a more personal element involved, there was support. Says Doyle, "Outside, on the church steps, members of the congregation rallied around the popular minister."398 Some disagreed, such as parishoner Ken Hodgert, who said "I might be a little more traditional, [...] but I'm very happy with what he's doing for our church. Rev. Phipps has woken people from their comfortable pews."399 "Everybody loves Bill,"says another parishoner, Ralph Garrett.400 "He's stimulated our spiritual lives. [...]The answers are unknowable, so why waste our energy? [...]Instead, we should put our energy into making this a better world."401 Chapman also commented that "there is lots of scriptural evidence to support that Jesus is not God,'' said Chapman. [?]``Bill challenges us to re-think what we believe and how we will respond to the Gospel.''402

Some of his parishoners, were disturbed by the portrait of Phipps that was portrayed in the media. They thought that their pastor was being depicted in an unbalanced way only on his theology. Thus, Norma Bannerman wrote a plea to the editor of the Calgary Herald with the support and signatures of 112 other Scarboro UC parishoners. That letter is as follows:

As members of the Rt. Rev. Bill Phipps' home congregation, Scarboro United Church, we are disturbed at the limited picture of this man that has been portrayed during the recent controversy. While there has been much talk about his political activism, and considerable distortion of his theological beliefs, there has been virtually nothing said about his role as a caring and compassionate pastor, teacher and counsellor. Jesus said, ``The greatest commandment is love.'' Bill Phipps lives this.403 As was also shown in an earlier section of the paper, Bill Phipps is a very caring pastor. A longer response from another parishoner is available in full in the appendices section.

Responses: Supportive - Phipps' Presbytery and Conference

Although there were some in Phipps' presbytery who opposed his remarks and called for discipline, most of his colleagues urged calm and caution. Grant Dawson, minister at Knox UC, was among many who supported Phipps by defending his statements. "Let's not become divisive among people, Dawson said during an interview before the meeting.404 "It's people that Christ cares about. Let's not have any family fights [italics mine].''405 Bill Phipps greatly believes in mutual respect, loyalty and friendship. Thus, when Alan Schooley had reacted to his statements to the Calgary Herald and his complaint to Calgary presbytery, he was very upset. Phipps wrote a letter to the Herald about this personal and professional offense on his integrity. Says Phipps, "With a colleague in ministry . . . at least do me the courtesy of talking to me personally before convincing his congregation of these serious, unfounded accusations based on newspaper articles."406 At a meeting of Calgary Presbytery, (the governing council for the city's 34 churches), representatives on a resolution from Southwood UC that urged the presbytery to discipline the Moderator. The presbytery voted to exclude the media from the debate, instructed its chairman to issue a news release,407 and they "solidly defeated that resolution."408

Elinor Townend, President of Phipps' conference, (Alberta and Northwest) was also supportive of the Moderator, but was also concerned that the controversy was a diversion from the UCC mission mandate. Says Townend,

"In our church, we hope we can have open and honest discussion about these issues,'' she said, noting that there had already been some healing, and if people are willing to talk about these issues there will be much more. We're trying to get real with what the gospel says. [...] We can debate these theological issues like the divinity of Jesus but it doesn't [sic] help us live the gospel in the streets. That's what Jesus was all about.''409

Townend says Phipps' statements have already attracted some members back to the fold, and she expects more to come. But she is concerned about the long-term effect the dissident group may have on the church. "A small group may use (church) court processes, which won't be helpful. It's too bad [because] it takes up time and energy from other things.''410

Other supportive presbyteries and conferences

Some presbyteries have publicly shown their full support for the moderator, while others have declared that while they theologically do not entirely agree, they support his ministry and actively pray for him One presbytery, that of Woolastock, declared a commendation for Mr. Phipps concerning his "integrity and fortitude that he has displayed while the debate has raged."411 They, like other presbyteries (such as Valley)412 have upheld him "and the entire church in prayer, trusting that the Spirit which changes, renews and reforms us all will do so again in the days to come."413 Valley presbytery (in the Maritime conference) declared that it their

"desire and intention to uphold him in prayer at this time of controversy. [...] We are asking God to grant you wisdom and courage in proclaiming the message of Christ's passion for the world; to grant conviction amongst your hearers and partners in mission; and to comfort you in the darker moments of your personal trial and the testing of our national church. [...] You are not alone [...]."414

These are very warm sentiments indeed, for the Moderator does need intercessors.

General Council Executive

The General Council had a difficult task before them concerning a response to the many e- mails, letter, faxes, telephone calls, and presbytery responses regarding the moderator's comments. They took four days to intensely focus on the concern in November. When they declared their intention to not dissociate the Moderator because he was still within the accepted boundary of essential agreement, they wisely acknowledged the important pastoral concerns. Part of their response was:

"We acknowledge that there is pain in the body of Christ. We express gratitude to the many people of the United Church who, regardless of their personal positions, have offered their prayers for our church and for our Moderator. We express our concern for our Moderator in light of the stress, accusations and personal criticisms that have been directed toward him. We also recognize the stress and the demands that have been made on church leaders in this time. We call upon members and adherents, in keeping with our tradition and ethos, to listen to and to respect the varying understandings of faith within this United Church of ours."415

Part of their response to the controversy included a badly needed clarification of the Moderator role, an explanation of celebrated diversity within the various theological statements, such as the following:

"The Executive of General Council affirm the doctrine of the United Church as set forth in the two basic documents, the Basis of Union (1925) and the Statement of Faith (1940) and expressed further in such documents as the "New Creed" (1968, as further revised in 1994), "The Lordship of Jesus" (1978) and the Authority and Interpretation of Scripture (1992), recognizing and celebrating the diversity of interpretation of these official statements and documents within the membership of The United Church of Canada."416

The response also included recommendations on what could be done with the controversy (including encouragement of congregational study of the document Reconciling and Making New), practical decisions concerning who to direct further complaints toward , and that an effort would be made to disseminate the resolution as widely as possible within UCC domain - the presbyteries, colleges, UCC web page and the like.

The Moderator was also affirmed for his 'unique skills that he brings to the job and the contribution he will be able to make to the church."417 However, Bill Phipps was advised to temper his comments on the divinity of Jesus Christ. "[The] [...] executive meeting reaffirmed the church's traditional doctrinal beliefs while saying that Phipps -- like all others in the 720,0000-member church -- has a right to express his personal views. "418 Thus, as an individual within the UCC, he was given the freedom of his own beliefs, however as a leader, he had to ameliorate the comments and the effect caused by them. Since Phipps has a pastoral heart, he has been working hard in this area.

Plea for Diversity: Diversity of Gifts and Understandings

Bill Phipps also pleas for diversity with mutual respect. Although all do not agree in the UCC, his pastoral concerns about the controversy are apparent. Says Phipps,

"Our body needs all its members. The heart and soul of our church has many voices, each of which is important and to be respected. All of us are part of a common life we share around the table of the one whom God sent that we may have life. As Moderator, I urge each of us to contribute what we have of faith, energy, service and hope. The world yeans for the Gospel embodied in Christ Jesus."419

Douglas Miller of Brampton believes that "the [UCC] has always had ministers and members at opposite ends of the theological stance. The image of the rainbow illustrates one light creates diversity. [...] Let's all continue together in our church. The moderator was wrong when he suggested [in an interview with Gail Reid] that conservatives were somehow not as acceptable as liberals."420 Another UCC member commented that "[the] diversity of theological opinion is the glory of the United Church. In my view, its is its principal justification for existing as a denomination. In its diversity, the [UCC] embodies the idea that the Christian community consists of those who believe that God is love, and that people should love one another - and who also believe that these absurdly simple theological principles, taught by Jesus, should govern the way they live."421 Although some seekers have called and have shown an interest to coming to the UCC422 many seekers also are looking for certainty.423 Says Ron Graham,

"[Some spiritual searchers are looking for certainty. It's like climbing a mountain to seek advice from a guru. [...] The pilgrim finally reaches the top and poses the question: who is the true Jesus? If the answer is, 'we're debating that,' [...] people will look somewhere else. What Phipps signals is that, at the very top, the church doesn't [sic] know what's true. People might go to something more traditional [...] or leave."424

In mid November, the Moderator called for tolerance from his critics, claiming that the "church has a place for all of us."425 Phipps had been asked to resign (by John Trueman of COC,426 Alan Schooley and Glenn Wynn of Calgary,427 Orleans UC in Ottawa, Grace UC in Cobden, Zion UC in Pembroke, Harris-Steeves Memorial UC in Moncton and members of Central UC, Brandon 428 and others, such as Don Anderson, who began a legal inquiry against him429 which was later denied. Others have dissociated themselves from him, including Shawville UC, Devine St UC. Sarnia, and Dominion-Chalmers UC Ottawa,430 and many others positively defended the orthodox faith during the start of the controversy.431 However, even before the General Council defended him and said that "rarely, if ever do we use doctrine to exclude anyone from the circle of belonging [which is evidence of the Congregational roots]"432 Phipps defended himself, saying that he will not resign, despite the controversy over his theological views. Said Phipps, "I'm not going to destroy people's faith. If one moderator can destroy people's faith, it's not all that deep."433 [However, Phipps' plea for diversity can partly out of a desire to maintain diversity and a call to mission (perhaps his own attempt at apologetics?)] The moderator expressed this concern in the following statement: "The church has a choice. We can take up all our time sniping at each other, when what Jesus calls us to do is heal the broken world, which knows us by the way we act toward each other. Who's going to be interested in us if all we do is snipe at each other?"434 Is this really diversity?

Graham Scott is concerned that although the Moderator is acclaimed for his unique gifts, that of social concern and a sensitivity to human suffering, that others in the UCC are not given that opportunity. For example, many leaders in the Renewal groups have gifts in the area of apologetics. His argument is clearly shown in the following quote:

"Mr. Phipps and the Executive of General Council speak of diversity in the United Church, but the national and conference staff positions are almost 100% filled by one type of Christian - Mr. Phipps' type. It seems to us that those who control the levers of power in the [UCC] are committed not to diversity but to uniformity - the uniformity of denying or doubting the universal faith as articulated by virtually all Christians of all times in all places. We therefore suggest that they think twice before issuing denials of the universal faith, which others, such as renewal group leaders, may be better able to articulate and defend. We suggest that Mr. Phipps and his friends seriously consider the theological and other gifts of those evangelical ministers and laypersons whom they have marginalized for so long."435

Another concern in this context is that of mutual respect. Is it person-respecting, understanding one's dignity and giving that person a sense that they are not only listened to, but also heard? Is it Christocentric in a loving understanding that unites all as believers in Christ ? Or is it just postmodern tolerance for anything but absolutes? The first example could be mutual respect at its best, the latter at its worst. Mark Fearnall warns what could happen when faith in mutual respect leads to its conclusion. Says Fearnall, "Unfortunately, [...] this belief in mutual respect and complete tolerance can and does go farther. It can lead to the judgement and exclusion of those who have exclusionary views. [...] The new openness [could] be based on not regarding anything as the truth [...] beyond critical discussion."436 Thus, there is an actual intolerance - which John Trueman comments on. Says Trueman, "Ever since 1988 there has been [...] a lack of freedom in the [UCC], [in the form of] ongoing harassment of orthodox [UC] clergy and laity at the hands of some presbytery executives. [Thus] if this Moderator would use his 'unique gifts' to bring peace and justice to the [UCC], that would surely be a liberating act. It would also demonstrate pastoral concern, an admirable quality in any moderator."437

What is Essential Agreement?

Throughout the controversy, there have been responses from a great number of clergy that the Moderator is not in essential agreement with the 20 Articles of the Basis of Union. The main argument that they used was a 'confrontation of opposites' and that two radically different ways of looking at God could not be reconciled. Others sought the meaning of what essential agreement is, and that it is part of the UCC's Congregational heritage.438 Emmanuel College church history professor Phyllis Airhart sheds light on this situation by explaining what this concept is:

"Members of the small but mighty Congregational contingent to Union talks had clung strenuously to their right to meet God on their own terms. Steeped to their roots in dissent, they were convinced [that] written creeds were un-biblical and must never be used to test one's faith. This wasn't [sic] doctrinal 'looseness' on their part. It's just that faith for them was above all a 'living experience', and they feared that candidates for ministry might pay lip service to another era's expression of faith without ever having to figure out what it meant for them now. The other two denominations were used to putting certain questions about belief to would-be ministers (although the Methodists [...] also set great store on spiritual experience). It took over a year, but all three finally agreed: instead of having to comply with a written statement, candidates for ministry could interpret their faith face-to-face with a committee which would decide if it fell within acceptable boundaries. That's how the [UCC] ended up with that odd phrase, 'essential agreement' - especially around discussion of the seventh article [in the Basis of Union] on Jesus."439

Thus, when Mark Fearnall asked the Moderator the question "Do you feel [that you are in] essential agreement with the Basis of Union?" he was encouraging a re-examination of the controversy with the very roots of the UCC.440

In the Sister Churches: Clergy

Most of the responses that have been more readily available from sister churches are not in agreement with Bill Phipps' theology, and some question whether ecumenical work such as the National Council of Churches and World Council of Churches may be indeed possible. Others question the Moderator's epistemology, and whether Phipps uses faith and reason together.441 Thus, it is an important matter to address between interdenominational leaders so that any misunderstandings may be clarified. In some cases, the Moderator has done this, particularly with one of the examples below. For the purpose of brevity, only the Presbyterians, Evangelical Lutherans and United Church of Christ will be covered, since comments from other denominational pastors have been sprinkled intermittently throughout the paper. One response came from Stephen Kristenson, the Bishop of the Evangelical Lutheran Church (Synod of Alberta and the Territories). Part of his letter is as follows:

"I am writing as a concerned friend as well as the bishop of a synod with which your church has several shared ministries. When you make public statements that contradict the clear teaching of the Christian church, its scriptures and creeds, it calls into question the basis upon which we work together in those shared ministries. [...] You, and your church, will be in my prayers as you meet the days ahead. [...] I am enclosing a letter I have sent to our congregations so that you will know how I am dealing with the considerable fallout we are experiencing as people react to your statements. Our shared ministries, with which you are very familiar, are at risk if we cannot agree on a clear proclamation of the Christian faith. [...]"442

In that letter that was sent to the evangelical Lutheran congregations was a consideration of examining each and every shared project between the two denominations. Within this concern was a warning that

"until there is a clear sense of where the United Church of Canada is going in regards to its confession as a church body, we will review on a case by case basis each shared ministry to ensure that no member of our church involved in such a shared ministry will have to wonder if they in good conscience can continue that involvement because of theological concerns." 443

In a shared ministry, two or more Protestant denominations agree to share the costs and resources in ministering to a particular area. "The Lutheran synod and UCC's Alberta conference share two such ministries (in Norman Wells, NWT, and Slave Lake, AB, where the Anglicans are also involved. The UCC also shares another eight to 10 ministries with Lutherans in another synod in northern BC.

What was the Moderator's response to Kristenson's reaction? Phipps said "it was unfortunate the letter was sent without consultation with him or others in the [UCC] and said he hopes that shared ministries would not be put in jeopardy because of news reports about his comments. Church representatives were to discuss shared ministries between the four major Protestant denominations (Anglican, Lutheran, Presbyterian and United) at a conference in January in Grande Prairie."443 "I hope when they sit down face to face, he will have a better understanding of what I have actually said and we will have a better understanding of the import of his letter.''444 However, Kristenson was not acting on this own when he wrote that letter, he was under pressure for clarification from those in his church. Also, the Moderator said that he had not received expressions of concern from other Canadian denominational leaders.

Presbyterian Harris Athanasiadis believes that credit should be given to the Moderator for his honesty about what "he believes and what is important to him, [like] justice. [...] On this issue, we must applaud him."445 Athanasiadis discerns that Mr. Phipps is extremely perceptive regarding sinful motives and actions within the surrounding culture. Says Athanasiadis,

"His is not a basic reaction to this reality, which he rightly calls sin, and he has some very deep reflections. Concerning the reality of poverty in Canada, "as elsewhere in the world, Phipps perceives the rule of powerful financial and corporate institutions as well as governments in representing their own interests rather than those of the most vulnerable citizens of society. Unfortunately, Phipps seems unable to relate the basic issue of justice to some of the deeper affirmations of the gospel which must undergird justice [like the divinity of Jesus and the bodily resurrection]. [However], we need to struggle, as Phipps does, with the reason and ground upon which we hold any belief."446

What kind of Jesus does the Moderator offer? Athanasiadis believes it is a 'barebones' Christ, that is a holy man and a model."447 Athanasiadis also believes "that there is no half-way point about the resurrection, [...] and that for those who have witnessed such transformation in themselves or others, Christ is no phantom of the imagination."448 It takes courage to have faith. It takes courage to struggle to understand and articulate our faith with intelligence and integrity. However, Athanasiadis believes that "watering down the faith to make it more acceptable [...] shortchanges this struggle which is necessary for all who seek a deeper spiritual foundation for their activism in this world. [Yet], let us affirm Phipps' vision of justice but [... ] through the inspiration and empowerment of the living Christ. [...][italics mine]"449

Craig McCreary, a United Church of Christ minister in the US raised doubt about the empowering centre of the Moderator. Says McCreary, "I have my doubts about Mr. Phipps' doubts. I doubt that moral energy can long be maintained without religious intensity that comes from feeling that one has an ongoing personal relationship with God [...] I find that moral energy comes not from what I know St. Paul says about being known and loved."450 Edith Humphrey also said something similar in her keynote address at the Faithfulness Today V conference, that it is not Rene Descartes' I think therefore I am that makes us who we are, but "we are loved, therefore we are."451 However, Phipps has stated, especially in his address to Metropolitan UC in London,452 that he indeed does feel loved and in connection with Jesus and the Holy Spirit. Perhaps it would be a good idea to pray that this aspect of his faith is deepened.

In the Sister Churches: Laity

There have been many responses from lay people in the other churches, some s upportive and funny (such as a reference of the Moderator "being the guy who killed the Easter Bunny"453 and others seem hurt and defensive. Some have responded to the moderator response sites, speaking out, but not in love. Others included the Issue from the 1988-90 controversy. Some called Phipps a non-Christian,454 others a Unitarian, and a myriad of other names that I shall not mention. There is one thing to note in this section. Name-calling is not good apologetics, nor does it respect the person it is aimed toward.455 Mr. Phipps has stated that he hates it when others burn effigies in protest marches.456 Are not some of the vehement responses a form of burning an effigy? Says Phipps, "One of the things I hate when I go on marches and demonstrations and stuff, is that they've decided to burn an effigy. I hate when I go on marches and demonstrations and stuff is that they've decided to burn an effigy. It just turns my stomach."457 The Moderator did address the problem of hate-mail when he was interviewed by Gail Reid before the controversy even started. He had said, "I don't [sic] think I should be called the anti-Christ. I don't [sic] think that's dialogue."458 Good apologetics is like good dialogue in the sense that there must be a loving attitude and respect.

Other lay people have been confused about Phipps' comments, especially since they do not understand the basics of essential agreement, the flexible boundaries of the UCC, and the diversity of the church. Others have 'tarred and feathered' the whole UCC because of the controversy, and have essentially written 'Ichobod' on the denomination. Others have snidely remarked that the UCC is living up to certain negative stereotypes.459 Is this a reasonable response? It does not seem to be a constructive one. Yes, it is clear that there is some confusing theology, but this does not mean that the Moderator's beliefs (in this area) are entirely normative for all of the UCC. Nor does it make Bill Phipps the enemy. For a normative theology (within a continuum), the Basis of Union and the 1940 Statement of Faith are still the official guidelines, although there are also the newer less clear statements. There is hope for the UCC, so do not write off what God is not finished with yet.

Romans 8:28 - All Things Work to the Good to Those Who Love God

Many people in the UCC are noting that God is working through this controversy and is turning it to his glory. The Moderator has said many times that he is excited by the increase in dialogue about Jesus, as is many UCC clergy and the renewal groups. Allen Churchill responded near the start of the controversy that "while he was concerned about Phipps' comments, he was happy that, in Ottawa at least, the subject of Jesus was on everybody's lips. He expressed the belief that God was using the Moderator's seemingly damaging comments for good - especially in the light of the upcoming Billy Graham mission."460 The Ottawa- area leaders who are preparing for this mission believe that "there is no arguing with Phipps' contention that discussion about Jesus is part of good evangelism - although they might question his 'methodology.'"461 Mackey believes that this preparation may indeed help the UCC "play a significant role in the preservation of the nation [by preparing hearts]"462

Dialogue: The 'Guttenberg Net'

Another positive aspect of the Moderator Controversy is that the internet has been available to help struggling UCC people encourage each other. Brian Wilkie 'coined' the phrase "Guttenberg Net" on November 21, 1997, when she compared the impact of the Guttenberg printing press in the Reformation, with the potential of the internet now. He also commented that he prays "that the internet might do as much for this generation!"463 It is clear that for many UCC ministers scattered in rural and urban pastoral charges throughout the country that the internet and e-mail have been a very important 'life- line' for them. One group of young UCC pastors were discussing their frustrations, fears and loneliness at the dinner following the Faithfulness Today conference. Throughout the this intimate time of fellowship, e-mail addresses were exchanged, and encouragement was given.464

Moderator web pages (or sites) were created where people both within and outside the UCC could respond to the controversy and encourage each other. One of these was from Mark Fearnall in Shawville QC, and another from Tony Copple in Kanata, ON. Tony Copple's site was created in November 11, 1997, and he has continued to collect information from many of the newspapers, responses to his site, sermons, essays and interviews.465 Copple reports that "initially the feedback came as a result of the site being mentioned by journalist Bob Harvey."466 Copple also advertised his site467 in a nation-wide e-mail broadcast to many UCC leadership and other interested people. In this promotion, he proclaimed his desire to preserve as much of possible all the dialogue and responses that have been generated by the Moderator controversy. It appears that Copple has done this well, for even this paper is directly influenced by this internet site. The dialogue yet continues in a more positive way, as was seen at the Faithfulness Today conference. As to what will happen next, God only knows.

Conclusion

It is clear that the Moderator controversy has created a massive shaking in the UCC, and that God is clearly turning it around to his glory. Many of the theological issues raised are not new, thus an inquiry into Church history may be advised concerning how this has been dealt with in the past. There is no need to repeat past mistakes, yet neither do we need to start all over again. The Moderator's comments have raised more and more questions concerning core doctrines, and even many of his responses have raised even more. It could be a voyage of discovery when the pastoral issue of healing the church's woundedness has firmly taken root. This has begun through nation-wide visits by Bill Phipps and in increased response to the renewal groups, who have all been concerned for the wounded clergy and laity. Another concern was raised intermittently throughout the paper, and that is, that the Moderator and the UCC are in urgent need of prayer. It is clear that the Rt. Rev. Phipps has doubts, and needs prayer for his faith journey. Yes, Bill Phipps has faith, for this is quite clear from his testimony. He also does have a prophetic call to social justice, and an awareness in this area that is very discerning. It is very possible that he may have (as Graham Scott said above) a divine call to call Canada to justice. This is necessary, however, not at the expense of core aspects of the Christian faith. As a pastor, Mr. Phipps is articulate, and compassionate. It is understandable why his church has flourished, and yet, with a deeper grounding in the profound mystery of our faith, it is clear that there is so much more that could be gained in Christ! Therefore, to conclude, Augustine, like Albert Schweitzer on the historical Jesus, gives us a proverb that reminds us how powerful the Gospel is, but also how orienting ones own presuppositions are. Said Augustine, "If you believe what you like in the Gospel, and reject what you like, it is not the [full] Gospel you believe, but yourself."468



endnotes

1. John Asling. Prophet in a Baseball Cap: An Interview with Moderator- Elect Bill Phipps. United Church Home Page www.uccan.org.story17.html. August 21, 1997.

2. Alan Schooley in Gordon Legge. "Calm urged in church strife." in The Calgary Herald. City News. p. B 2. November 19, 1997. (Calgary: Southam, 1997).

3. Gordon Legge. "Tough times old hat for Phipps." in The Calgary Herald. News. p. A 1. November 22, 1997. (Calgary: Southam, 1997). - His opponents call him manipulative, friends see him as politically skilled)

4. A comment by an unnamed United Church minister.

5. Steven Chambers. This is Your Church:A Guide to the Beliefs, Policies and Positions of The United Church of Canada. (Toronto: United Church Publishing House, 1993 Third Edition). p. 13.

6. A comment by an unnamed United Church minister.- many evangelicals left after 1988-90 which was also the cause of UCRF dying.

7. Don Anderson. E-mail - concerning Marion Best's source of the 5% conservatives.

- based on paid subscriptions to their publications and NACC congregations only - based on paid subscriptions to their publications and NACC congregations only.

8. Gordon Legge. "Tough times old hat for Phipps."

9. Carolyn Pogue-Phipps in Ibid.

10. Bill Phipps in Ibid.

11. Ibid. -He also worked in a Sunbeam factory.

12. Ibid.

13. Asling. "Prophet in a Baseball Cap"

14. Royal Orr. "Bill Phipps Elected Moderator." August 1997. www.uccan.org/gc36/story16.html - He was at Trinity-St Paul's for nine years (replacing a former pastor of mine - Bob Watt).

15. Gordon Legge. "Tough times old hat for Phipps."

16. Ibid.

17. Royal Orr. "Bill Phipps Elected Moderator."

18. Asling. "Prophet in a Baseball Cap. "

19. Gordon Legge. "Tough times old hat for Phipps."

20. Ibid.

21. Ibid. - 'nearby' is relative to Albertans - the mountains are over an hour's drive from Calgary).

22. Mary Beard in Ibid.

23. Bruce Miller in Ibid.

24. Carolyn Pogue-Phipps in Ibid.

Interview with Bill Phipps. on The Pamela Wallin Show. CBC Newsworld. January 21, 1998. Transcript by Laurie-Ann Zachar March 16, 1997.

26. Royal Orr. "Bill Phipps Elected Moderator."

27. Ibid.

28. Tony Copple. Intoduction to his moderator site. www.igs.net/~tonyc/mod.html

29. John Trueman. "Prophet in A Baseball Cap?"

30. Asling. "Prophet in a Baseball Cap."

31. Steven Chambers. This is Your Church:A Guide to the Beliefs, Policies and Positions of The United Church of Canada. (Toronto: United Church Publishing House, 1986 Second Edition). p. 63.

32. Asling. "Prophet in a Baseball Cap."

33. Bill Phipps in Ibid.

34. Bill Phipps in Ibid.

35. In abiding in Christ and being empowered in the Holy Spirit.

36. Mat. 5:43, 19:19, 22:39, Mk 12:31, 33, Lk. 10:27, Rm. 13:9, Gal. 5:14, Jam. 2:8.

37. Asling. "Prophet in a Baseball Cap."

38. Bill Phipps in Ibid.

39. This refers to Phipps' defense of himself - calling for mutual respect.

40. John Trueman. "Prophet in A Baseball Cap?" editor John Trueman. in Concern. 9709 Vol.VIII No. 6 September 6, 1997. p. 7. Concern Internet Newsletter Archive.

41. Bill Phipps in Gail Reid. Fellowship Newsletter. "Conversing with the Moderator." in Fellowship Magazine. December 1997 (Toronto:1997) http://www.igs.net/~tonyc/mod0.html

42. Royal Orr. "Bill Phipps Elected Moderator."

43. Royal Orr. "Bill Phipps Elected Moderator."

44. John Hoover in John Trueman. "Prophet in A Baseball Cap?"

45. Ibid.

46. Alberta Report. September 1, 1997. p. 37. as cited in John Trueman. "Prophet in A Baseball Cap?"

47. Ibid.

48. Ibid.

49. Gordon Legge. "Tough times old hat for Phipps."

50. Mary Beard in Ibid.

51. Ibid.

52. Asling. "Prophet in a Baseball Cap."

53. Margaret Leahey-Bailey. "Church extends hand to Christmas sufferers: Phipps' sermon for those who get little cheer out of festive season." in The Calgary Herald. Religion Page. H9. Friday, December 7, 1997.

54. Royal Orr. "Bill Phipps Elected Moderator."

55. A comment by an unnamed United Church minister.

56. Allison Monroe. "Views reveal fault lines: While some salute moderator, others think he should resign." in The Calgary Herald. Opinion Article, Religion and Spirituality Page. p. J7 November 8, 1997.

57. Asling. "Prophet in a Baseball Cap."

58. Alison Monroe. "Views reveal fault lines"

59. Ed McCaig comment in Small Voice archive about UC confusion-unable to find exact reference at this time. It was approx. 1984 - 1987.

60. David MacKenzie. "Re: Response to Bill Phipps." E-mail to Tony Copple's Moderator Site. November 13, 1997. http://www.igs.net.~tonyc.mod.modlet16.html.

61. Pamela Wallin. Interview with Bill Phipps.

62. Bill Phipps in Ibid.

63. John Trueman. Statement by Dr. John Trueman, President of Community of Concern [regarding Bill Phipps] October 31, 1997.

64. Ann Marie Hall. "Holier than thou?" in The Calgary Herald. Opinion. Letters. p. A18. November 5, 1997. (Calgary: Southam, 1997).

65. Allison Monroe. "Views reveal fault lines."

66. Bill Phipps. "Response to Ann Marie Hall's letter Holier than Thou?" in The Calgary Herald. Letters. . p. J7 November 20, 1997. (Calgary: Southam, 1997).

67. Many responses talk about this, but especially Mark Fearnall in his open letters.

68. Steven Chambers. This is Your Church Edition 2. p 21.

69. Ibid. p. 21.

70. Bill Phipps. Statement. October 29, 1997. www.uccan.org.newsreleases.971029.htm

71. United Church of Canada General Council Executive. General Council Executive responds to Moderator's Interview with the Ottawa Citizen. November 1997. http://www.uccan.org.NewsReleases/gcresponse01.htm.

72. David B. Marshall. "Doctrinal disputes not new: Crises of doctrine are nothing new to the United Church, writes Prof. David Marshall of the University of Calgary's department of History." in The Calgary Herald. Opinion. p. A 13. November 18, 1997. (Calgary: Southam, 1997).

73. Ibid.

74. Ibid.

75. Ibid.

76. Bob Harvey. "Moderator's beliefs divide United Church."in The Kitchener-Waterloo Record. (Ottawa:Southam, November 11, 1997.

77. This is concerning Howse (mid 1960's), and the New Curriculum. My own mother left for seven years and pulled me out of the Sunday school.

78. Victor Shepherd. Response to Bill Phipps. Sermon preached in Streetsville United Church, Mississauga ON, January 1998.

79. Krysia Lear. "Is Jesus the only way to God?" in Fellowship Magazine. Editor's Note. March 1997. Vol. 15 No. 1. (Toronto: March 1998). p. 7-9. This is mentioned also by Muriel Duncan. "Plain- speaking his faith." in The United Church Obeserver. Church section. Vol. 61. No. 5. December 1997. 28-29.

80. This is my own assessment of Bruce McLeoed after meeting him in a sociology of religion class at U of T.

81. A comment by an unnamed United Church minister.

82. Bob McClure quoted by Muriel Duncan. "Plain speaking his faith."

83. Bruce McLeod in Leslie Scrivener. "United Church moderator draws controversy for views." in The Toronto Star. Toronto Star Faith And Ethics Reporter. Toronto: October 29, 1997.

84. Bruce McLeod in Ibid.

85. John Ambrose in McLeod in Ibid.

86. John Ambrose in Ibid.

87. Lloyd Mackey. "Romans VIII:28:God working the Moderator controversy together for Good." in March 1998. Vol. 16. No. 1. (Toronto:March 1998) p. 10.

88. Lloyd Mackey. "Romans VIII:28" p. 12.

89. Bill Phipps. Statement. October 29, 1997.

90. Tony Copple. "Some personal thoughts on theological issues Apr. 6, 1988. " http://www.igs.net.mod.html.

91. Bill Phipps in Pamela Wallin. Interview with Bill Phipps.

92. "Whole Transcript of original article by Mark Fearnall [of the whole interview of Bill Phipps with the Bob Harvey of the Ottawa Citizen.]" November 2, 1997. Transcribed by Lorraine Fearnall. www.iosphere.net/mfearnall/newpage1.html

93. Bob Harvey. "I don't believe Jesus was God: United Church's new moderator rejects Bible as history book." in The Ottawa Citizen. (Ottawa: Southam, October 24, 1997).

94. Victor Shepherd. The Spirit of Methodism. Lecture Notes. Laurie-Ann Zachar, notetaker. September - December 1997. Ontario Theological Seminary, North York ON.

95. This is a general concept that I have learned from narrative therapy in counselling class.

96. Graham Scott "The Phipps Phenomenon." in Theological Digest & Outlook. Vol, 13. No. 1. Editorial. p. 25-26. March 1998. p. 25.

97. Victor Shepherd. Response to Bill Phipps.

98. Bill Phipps in Pamela Wallin. Interview with Bill Phipps.

99. Bill Phipps. "Whole Transcript of original article by Mark Fearnall [of the whole interview of Bill Phipps with the Bob Harvey of the Ottawa Citizen.]"

100. Anthony Gualtieri in Bob Harvey. "Moderator's views 'boringly conservative': Phipps's critics confuse faith and belief, professor says." in The Ottawa Citizen. (Southam:November 15, 1997).

101. Sharon Doyle Dreidger. "Is Jesus Really God?" in MacLeans. December 15, 1997. www.macleans.ca/newsroom/21597/cov1121597.htm (p. 44. hard copy version)

102. Marguerite Van Die. An Evangelical Mind: Nathanael Burwash and the Methodist Tradition in Canada, 1839-1918. (Kingston: McGill-Queen's University Press, 1989). p 162.

103. Ibid. p 162.

104. http://www.osiem.org/project2000/preamble.html

105. Bob Harvey. "Heaven and Earth: United Church Moderator Bill Phipps worries less about the divinity of Jesus and more about whether his fellow man is starving in the street." The full unedited report for The Ottawa Citizen. Reprinted in full in The Calgary Herald. (Calgary:Wednesday October 29, 1997).-Is this biblically an abomination because Canada is supposed to be a rich country?)

106. Ibid.

107. Tim Callaway in Gordon Legge. "Evangelicals could taks some tips from Phipps: Pastors lament United Church moderator's theology, but his thoughts on poverty elicit sympathy." in The Calgary Herald. Religion and Spirituality. p. H 11. November 29, 1997. (Calgary: Southam, 1997).

108. Charles Nienkirchen in Ibid.

109. Graham Scott "Statement of the Rev. Dr. Graham Scott on published remarks by Moderator Bill Phipps in October 1997. (Church Alive: November 5, 1997).

110. Graham Scott - in Sharon Doyle Dreiger. "Is Jesus Really God?"

111. Pauline Finch-Drichen. "Moderator defends comments on beliefs." in Kitchener-Waterloo Record. (Kitchener: November 13, 1997)

112. Bill Phipps. Transcript of a Presentation of a public forum held November 13, 1997 at Metropolitan United Church. London ON. http://www.uccan.org.newsreleases.971121.html.

113. Bob Harvey. "I don't believe Jesus was God."

114. Shepherd, Victor. "The Foundation of It All." in Renewal Fellowship Magazine. Volume 7. No. 2. March/April. 1989. (Toronto: UCRF, 1989). p. 22.

115. Pauline Finch-Drichen. "Moderator defends comments on beliefs."

116. John Hoover. "Impressions from General Council." in Metropolitan Newsletter. December 1997 -January 1998. (London ON: Metropolitan United Church, 1997).

117. Scot McKnight. "Who is Jesus? An Introduction to Jesus Studies." in Wilkins, Michael J. Moreland, J. P. ed. Jesus Under Fire: Modern Scholarship Reinvents the Historical Jesus. (Grand Rapids, MI: Zondervan, 1995.) p. 51-72. p. 52.

118. James Beverley. "Background to Modern Christology: From the rise of Scepticism to the New Quest (1530-1953). Ontario Theological Seminary. March 1998. p. 1.

119. Scot McKnight. "Who is Jesus? p. 52.

120. Bill Phipps and Pamela Wallin in Pamela Wallin. Interview with Bill Phipps. - it is 451 not 415, although interposing the dates is a very common mistake to make.

121. Bill Phipps. Transcript of a Presentation of a public forum held November 13, 1997

122. Carole Burton. The Moderator Controversy. A Response to the Moderator. February 18, 1998. www.igs.net/~tonyc/mod10.html

123. Ibid.

124. Bill Phipps. Transcript of a Presentation of a public forum held November 13, 1997.

125. Bill Phipps in Pamela Wallin. Interview with Bill Phipps. and in Calgary Herald against the Christmas confession.

126. Bob Bater in Ted and Virginia Byfield. "Orthodoxy: Why Caiaphas had more respect for Jesus than the United Church's new moderator." in in British Columbia Report. December 1, 1997. p. 37.

127. Carole Burton. The Moderator Controversy.

128. C.S. Lewis, from Mere Christianity p 55-56 as quoted in Scot McKnight. "Who is Jesus? An Introduction to Jesus Studies." p. 68.

129. Bill Phipps in Muriel Duncan. "Jesus is at the centre of my life and faith." in The United Church Obeserver. Church section. Vol. 61. No. 5. December 1997. p. 29.

130. Bill Phipps in Carole Burton. The Moderator Controversy.

131. Mark Fearnall's web page response is http://www.iosphere.net/response.htm.

132. Mark Fearnall. "Open Letter to Moderator." http//www.iosphere.net/mfearnall/response.htm

133. Ibid.

134. Ibid.

135. Andrew Stirling. "Reclaiming the Trinity for the Renewal of the Church." Seminar in Faithfulness Today V Conference. May 2, 1998. Hamilton ON. (a loose paraphrase)

136. Ibid.

137. Jim Amy. "A Response to Statements made by the Moderator of the United Church of Canada: Preached Sunday November 30, 1997." f rom United Online, November/December 1997.

138. Tony Copple. Letter to the Moderator. http://www.igs.net/~tonyc/mod.html

139. Victor Shepherd. Response to Bill Phipps.

140. Jim Amy. "A Response."

141. William Lane Craig. Did Jesus Rise from the Dead. in Wilkins, Michael J. Moreland, J. P. ed. Jesus Under Fire: Modern Scholarship Reinvents the Historical Jesus. (Grand Rapids, MI: Zondervan, 1995.) p. 141-176. p. 159.

142. Bill Phipps in Muriel Duncan. "Jesus is at the centre." p. 29.

143. Bill Phipps in Pamela Wallin. Interview with Bill Phipps.

144. Bill Phipps in Muriel Duncan. "Jesus is at the centre." p. 29.

145. Bill Phipps. Statement. October 29, 1997. www.uccan.org.newsreleases.971029.htm

146. Bill Phipps. Transcript of a Presentation of a public forum held November 13, 1997.

147. Carole Burton. The Moderator Controversy.

148. Ibid.

149. Bill Phipps in Pamela Wallin. Interview with Bill Phipps. and Michael Steinhauser in Apologetics - dislike for resus. but open to a real bodily change in resurr. - Steinhauser is more open than Phipps)

150. Graham Scott. "The Phipps Phenomenon." p. 26.

151. Bill Phipps. Transcript of a Presentation of a public forum held November 13, 1997.

152. Dale Bolton, Thornhill Vineyard, about encouraging parishoners in outreach. ca. 1992.

153. Bill Phipps in Muriel Duncan. "Jesus is at the centre." p. 29.

154. Sharon Doyle Dreidger. "Is Jesus Really God?" p 43. hard copy.

155. Bill Phipps in "Whole Transcript of original article by Mark Fearnall [of the whole interview of Bill Phipps with the Bob Harvey of the Ottawa Citizen.]"

156. James Beverley. "A confession of unbelief." in Faith Today. March-April 1998. p. 21.

157. Strong's Concordance, QuickVerse for Windows Version 3.0d. (KJV, NIV, NASB, NCV) Craig Rairdin and Parson's Technology, 1992-1994.

158. Victor Shepherd. The Spirit of Methodism. Lecture Notes. September 11, 1997.

159. Don Faris. "How Bill Phipps got off the rails." in Concern. Dawn Trueman, John Trueman, editors. Vol, IX No. 1. February 1998. 1-2. - This was concerning the document Authority and Interpretation of Scripture.

160. Ibid.

161. Ibid.

162. Ibid.

163. James Beverley. Lecture Notes and handouts f rom Christian Apologetics. Notetaker: Laurie-Ann Zachar. January - April 1998. Ontario Theological Seminary, North York ON. Apologetics and Biblical Authority handout. March 9, 1998.

164. Marguerite Van Die. An Evangelical Mind. p. 192. - mentions Woodsworth's struggles

165. Ibid. p. 186.

166. Victor Shepherd. The Spirit of Methodism. Teaching after the Nathanael Burwash presentation.. November 13, 1997.

167. John Trueman in Sharon Doyle Dreidger. "Is Jesus Really God?"

168. James Beverley. Lecture Notes from Christian Apologetics. Apologetics and Biblical Authority handout. March 9, 1998.

169. James Beverley. "A confession of unbelief." in Faith Today. March-April 1998. p. 21.

170. Bill Phipps in Pamela Wallin. Interview with Bill Phipps. -Phipps does this often in the Wallin interview.

171. Bob Harvey. "I don't believe Jesus was God"

172. Mark MacKinnon. "An activist moderator is rocking the United Church: Rev. Bill Phipps wants to 'mend a broken world' by exhorting his flock to focus on social issues, not religious doctrine." in The Edmonton Journal. (Edmonton: November 1, 1997).

173. Mark Fearnall. "We worship Jesus Christ." December, 1997. www.iosphere.net/mfearnall/newpage1.html.

174. James Robson. "Before the cock crow, thou shalt deny me thrice: Church moderators should be Christian just a Communist Party leaders should be Marxist religion." in The Calgary Herald. Opinion. p. J 4. November 19, 1997. (Calgary: Southam, 1997).

175. John Trueman. Opening address at the Community of Concern 10th Annual Meeting. Hamilton Convention Centre, May 1, 1998.

176. This is a general comment from having taken the Interpreting the Biblical Text course.

177. Bill Phipps in Muriel Duncan. "Jesus is at the centre." p. 29.

178. Mark MacKinnon. "An activist moderator."

179. Victor Shepherd. The Spirit of Methodism. Lecture Notes. September 11, 1997.- comment paraphrased - in one of the classes - late November 1997.

180. Miriam Therese. "Mother and God." Words and music. Hymn #280 Voices United. p 280 publ. details- Managing Editor John Ambrose. (Etobicoke:united church publishing house, 1996.

181. Janet Wootton. "Dear Mother God." Hymn 270. in Voices United. Managing Editor John Ambrose. (Etobicoke: United Church Publishing House, 1996). p. 270.

182. Bill Phipps in Pamela Wallin. Interview with Bill Phipps.

183. Ibid.

184. Frank Morgan. "Doctrine is in spiritual truth, not the wording." in The Kitchener-Waterloo Record. November 29, 1997.

185. Ibid.

186. James Beverley. Lecture Notes and handouts from Christian Apologetics. Apologetics and Biblical Authority handout. March 9, 1998.

187. James Beverley. "Background to Modern Christology: From the rise of Scepticism to the New Quest (1530-1953). Ontario Theological Seminary. March 1998.

188. I do not have a reference for this, but I picked this up in general reading from a university course in Greek and Roman mythology, and a course in Judaism.

189. James Beverley. "Background to Modern Christology"

190. Ibid. p. 1.

191. Ibid. p. 2.

192. Don Faris. "Is Jesus God." as quoted in "Palms & Scorpions, Cheers & Tears." in Theological Digest & Outlook. Vol, 13. No. 1. Editorial. p. 28-31. March 1998. p 29-30.

193. Mike Trickey. "Nation's faith rising, poll says." in The Calgary Herald. Statistics. p. A 1. December 21, 1997. (Calgary: Southam, 1997).(trickey cal herald)

194. Bill Phipps. in Ibid.

195. Ibid.

196. Bill Phipps. in Mike Trickey. "Nation's faith rising, poll says."

197. James Beverley. Lecture Notes and handouts f rom Christian Apologetics. - Apologetics and Theodicy handouts February 2, 1998.

198. Pamela Wallin. Interview with Bill Phipps.

199. Bill Phipps in Ibid.

200. Ibid.

201. Peter Stockland. "God is vulnerable and the Cross is Powerful: Peter Stockland in conversationwith Rev. Bill Phipps, United Church Moderator." in The Calgary Herald. Comment. Table Talk. p. J 5 November 15, 1997. (Calgary: Southam, 1997).

202. Ibid.

203. Bill Phipps in Peter Stockland. "God is vulnerable."

204. Bill Phipps in Peter Stockland. "God is vulnerable."

205. James Beverley. Lecture Notes and handouts f rom Christian Apologetics. The problem of pain and evil handout. February, 1998.

206. David Fisher. Panentheism and Trying to Make Sense of Things. Article on UC Chat and Tony Copple's moderator site. http://www.igs.net/~tonyc/panentheism.html

207. Andrew Stirling. "Reclaiming the Trinity" This is a paraphrase!

208. Both recent documents of the UCC that Head Office has encouraged the church at large to study

209. David Fisher. "A Response to 'Mending the World.' in Theological Digest & Outlook. Vol, 13. No. 1. p. 9-14. March 1998.

210. David Fisher. Panentheism - and Phipps from Metropolitan U)

211. Ibid.

212. Ibid.

213. I am speaking of Calvin here, and the understanding of God speaking to humans in language they could understand. Likewise, contextualization would further show a human attempt to communicate cross-culturally these core concepts.

214. Committee on Theology and Faith. Reconciling and Making New: Who is Jesus for the world today? (Toronto:United Church of Canada, 1997). p. 33.

215. Such as Sumerian mythology, and possibly Greek as well - see the Enuma Elish story.

216. Petro Bilaniuk. Lecture Notes and handouts from Eastern Christianity. Notetaker: Laurie-Ann Zachar. September 1993- April 1994. St. Michael's College, University of Toronto. (Petro Bilaniuk, Eastern Christianity U of T 1993-4. 'Medieval Orthodox theo', and see Nil Skorsky.

217. David Fisher. Panentheism.

218. David Fisher. "A Response to 'Mending the World.'

219. Phipps in Peter Stockland God is vulnerable and the Cross powerful Calgary herald)

220. David Fisher. "A Response to 'Mending the World.'

221. Kittel and Friedrich. Theological Dictionary of the New Testament. p. 41. as quoted from David Fisher. "A Response to 'Mending the World.'

222. Ralph Garbe. "The Renewal Fellowship turns twenty five." in Renewal Fellowship Magazine. Ed McCaig editor. July/August 1990. Volume 8 Number 4. Barrie:UCRF,1990. p 6.

223. Lloyd G. Cumming. The Uncomfortable Pew: Committed to Renewal. (Barrie: UCRF, 1990).

224. Lloyd G. Cumming. The Uncomfortable Pew. p 141.

225. Ed McCaig. "Merger Keeps Renewal Vision Alive." in Fellowship Magazine. Barrie: March 1997. Volume 15. Number 1. p. 18.

226. Victor Shepherd. The Spirit of Methodism. - A comment made in more that one class - at one time it was 400 a week, until Phipps it was the same per centage per capita for the members and adherants who were left.

227. Victor Shepherd. "The Shape of the Church in the Twenty-First Century." Seminar in Faithfulness Today V Conference. May 2, 1998. Hamilton ON.

228. Mark MacKinnon. "An activist moderator."

229. Victor Shepherd. "The Shape of the Church"

230. John Trueman. "Promises Betrayed." in Concern. 9708 Vol. VIII No. 3. August 16, 1997. p 1-3.

231. United Church of Canada Head Office home page. Quick Facts on the UCC. http://www.uccan.org/Quickfact.htm. Updated December 1997.

232. Pamela Wallin. Interview with Bill Phipps.

233. Philip A. Cline - "United or Untied." in Theological Digest & Outlook. Volume 13. March 1998. No. 1. p.14-16.

234. John Trueman. "Promises Betrayed." Chart of membership loss 1988- 1997. p. 3.

235. Ibid. p. 3.

236. Mary-Frances Denis, 1997 Year Book, Vol. 1 p 4. as quoted in part in Philip A. Cline - "United or Untied." p 15.

237. John Trueman. "Promises Betrayed." p 3.

238. As Tony Copple names the controversy- http://www.igs.net/~tonyc/mod.html.

239. Graham Scott. "The Phipps Phenomenon." p. 25.

240. Matthew Fox. A comment concerning serving in a Korean UC. recently. He did mention that the UCC presbytery did step in - in another area - that of a split that was caused in 1997 due to attitudes around the charismatic movement and spiritual gifts.

241. Ng in Bob Harvey. "Moderator's beliefs divide United Church."

242. Gail Reid. "Can We Agree?" in Fellowship Magazine. Editor's Note. March 1998. Vol. 16 No. 1. (Toronto: March 1998). p. 3.

243. Leslie Schriver. "United Church moderator draws controversy for views." (Toronto:Toronto Star, October 29, 1997.)

244. Bill Phipps in Mark MacKinnon. "An activist moderator."

245. Ibid.

246. Bill Phipps in Ibid. to Robertson-Wesley United Church.

247. United Church of Canada. Head Office home page. Mission and Service Fund. http://www.uccan.org/stewardship.htm# current and http://www.uccan.org/MSBudget/htm

248. John Asling. "Tough Tough Financial News: General Council." in Concern. Council News from August 18, 1997. Concern Newsletter Archive. 9709 Vol.VIII-6 September 6, 1997.

249. Ibid.

250. Ibid.

251. Michael Scott in Ibid.

252. John Trueman. editorial comment in Ibid.

253. Some congregations do this. I do not name them for fear of reprisal.

254. Such as my own mother, Carol Zachar.

255. Jack Waller On-line Open Letter to Virginia Coleman. December 3, 1997. on Tony Copple's moderator site. http://www.igs.net/~tonyc/mod.html - December 4 responses. 1997.

256. Bill Phipps and M & S fund in John Asling. "Prophet in a Baseball Cap."

257. Frank Jones "Proof of God all around us, readers say." in The Toronto Star. Opinion Column. February 10, 1997. -This is only one modern example, I am sure that there are many, many more.

258. Bill Phipps. Transcript of the pastoral message delivered on Monday November 24, 1997 on Spirit Connection. Vision Television. Current News Releases from the General Council Offices. http://www.uccan.org.newsreleases.971124.htm

259. Bill Phipps in Muriel Duncan. "Doctrine, Phipps affirmed." in The United Church Observer. Church section. Vol. 61. No. 6. January 1998. 17-18.

260. Ibid.

261. James Beverley. Modern Christology handout: Understanding Modern Skepticism. p. 3 March 9, 1998.

262. Graham Scott. "The Phipps Phenomenon." p. 25.

263. Bob Harvey. "Church has a place for all of us: United Church moderator asks critics for tolerance." in The Ottawa Citizen (Southam:November 14, 1997).

264. Graham Scott. "The Phipps Phenomenon." p. 26.

265. Ibid. p. 26.

266. He says many times in different articles that he does not like the language that was 'frozen in the creeds' - so it is likely that he uses contemporary language for other things as well.

267. Jim Breen. "Response to the Moderator and to Doug Koop's article" January 10, 1998. E-mail correspondence. on Tony Copple's moderator site. January 15 1998 responses. http://www.igs.net/~tonyc/mod.html.

268. James Beverley. Lecture Notes f rom Christian Apologetics. February 2, 1998. p. 1 - Also the popularity argument that someting must be true because many in the church think it. Likewise, unpopularity does not mean the idea is false.

269. The NACC have been fundraising for his legal support.

270. Ted Wigglesworth. Online letter to Tony Copple. December 3, 1997. on Tony Copple's moderator site. http://www.igs.net/~tonyc/mod.html. December 3 responses.

271. Anthony Gualtieri in Bob Harvey. "Moderator's views 'boringly conservative':

272. Bruce Alton.Lecture Notes from Introduction to Religious Studies: Sociology, Pyschology and Philosophy of Religion. Lecture Notetaker: Laurie-Ann Zachar. REL 101Y. University of Toronto. September 1990 - April 1991. January [?] 1991. - 'faithing' - faith is a verb.

273. Ibid. - belief: a creed, doctrine, or in the Old English, 'to hold dear.'

274. Don Leggett. Lecture Notes from Old Testament Theology and History. notetaker Laurie-Ann Zachar (handwritten and taped). Ontario Theological Seminary, North York Ontario. May - June 1997. May 14, 1997 [?].

275. I know this type of thing from personal experience, since I am very strong in the experiential side of Christianity, but have been very hungry for propositional truth in the Bible, in critical study, and systematic theology.

276. Don Anderson. "I believe." Statement of faith as a United Church minister. on Tony Copple's site. http://www.igs.net/~tonyc/mod.html. January 24, 1998.

277. Victor Shepherd. The Spirit of Methodism. - change the meaning behind the symbols, then change symbols November 20, 1997.

278. Ibid. nd.[?]

279. Ibid. nd. [?]

280. Leanne Payne. Pastoral Care Ministry School. Notes and Tapes. Notetaker: Laurie-Ann Zachar. Columbus OH: 1995.

281. Gail Reid. "Conversing with the Moderator. (Part 2)." in Fellowship Magazine. March 1998. Vol. 16 No. 1. (Toronto: March 1998). p. 22, 23, 26, 27. p 26.

282. Ibid. p. 26.

283. Ibid. p. 26.

284. James Beverley. Lecture Notes. February 2, 1998. p. 2.

285. Bill Phipps in Pamela Wallin. Interview with Bill Phipps.

286. Bill Phipps in Muriel Duncan. "Jesus is at the centre of my life and faith." p. 29.

287. Canadian Press. "Moderator a heretic, minister says." in Kitchener- Waterloo Record. (Calgary:Canadian Press, November 17, 1989)

288. Ibid.

289. Bob Harvey. "Moderator's beliefs divide United Church."

290. Lloyd G. Cumming. The Uncomfortable Pew p. 126.

291. Bill Phipps in Gail Reid in "Conversing with the Moderator. Pt. 1" in Fellowship Magazine. December 1997 (Toronto:1997) http://www.igs.net/~tonyc/mod0.html.

292. Ibid.

293. Bill Phipps. Transcript of a Presentation of a public forum held November 13, 1997 at Metropolitan United Church, London Ontario. http://www.uccan.org.newsreleases.971121.htm

294. Ibid.

295. Muriel Duncan. "Jesus is at the centre of my life and faith." p. 29.

296. Jim Breen. "Response to the Moderator and to Doug Koop's article"

297. Muriel Duncan. "Jesus is at the centre of my life and faith." p. 29.

298. Bill Phipps in Ibid. p. 29.

299. And in 1968, the United Brethren joined the UCC.

300. David Fisher. If We're all Christians - Why Can't we Agree? p. 1. Article soon to be published in Fellowship Magazine. June 1998? from David L. Fisher - d.m.fisher@sk.sympatico.ca

301. Ibid.

302. Ibid.

303. James Beverley. Modern Christology handout. March 9, 1998.

304. David Fisher. If We're all Christians. p. 1.

305. Bill Phipps in Gail Reid in "Conversing with the Moderator. Pt. 2" p. 23.

306. Bill Phipps in Gail Reid in "Conversing with the Moderator. Pt. 1"- this is in the sense of not imposing, which is a good concern, but also a distinction must be made)

307. Ibid.

308. Ibid.

309. As did his original willingness to live common-law with his wife Carolyn - I cannot find the reference that I had for this, but it is commented upon by Marie Brydges in an email on Tony Copple's response site on November 14, 1997.

310. David Fisher. If We're all Christians. p. 3.

311. Ibid. p. 3.

312. Ibid. p. 3.

313. Ibid. p. 4.

314. Ian Outerbridge. "Making a Virture of Abusing our Clergy" in Concern. Vol VIII No. 3 August 16, 1997.

315. Bob Harvey. "Moderator's beliefs divide United Church."

316. Ian Outerbridge. in Bob Harvey. "'Un-Christian' remarks disturb minister's flock." in The Kitchener-Waterloo Record. (Ottawa:Southam, October 30, 1997).

317. Allen Churchill. quoted in Charles Enman. "Moderator 'undermines' faith, United Church minister says." in The Ottawa Citizen. (Ottawa: Southam: October 27, 1997).

318. John Trueman. Statement.

319. John Trueman. Statement.

320. Graham Scott. "Statement of the Rev. Dr. Graham Scott on published remarks by Moderator Bill Phipps in October 1997. (Church Alive: November 5, 1997).

321. Gail Reid. "Can We Agree?" in Fellowship Magazine. Editor's Note. March 1998. Vol. 16 No. 1. (Toronto: March 1998). p. 3.

322. Canadian Press. "Moderator a heretic, minister says."

323. Some believe it is the 'official creed', while others see it as a basic guideline that later theological documents 'update.' For a more in-depth discussion of this topic, see Tony Copple's moderator site - http://www.igs.net.~tonyc/mod/html - and click on the responses from December.

324. Don Anderson. "Before Ordination." E-mail to Tony Copple. tonyc@igs.net. February 12, 1998.

325. Graham Scott. "Statement of the Rev. Dr. Graham Scott.

326. John Trueman. Statement.

327. Allison Monroe. "Views reveal fault lines."

328. Jim Cunningham. "Ministers call on Moderator to resign." in The Calgary Herald. News. p. A 2. November 9, 1997. (Calgary: Southam, 1997).

329. Ibid.

330. Allison Monroe. "Views reveal fault lines."

331. Ibid.

332. Don Faris. "Is Jesus God." p 29-30.

333. Michael Steinhauser. This was a comment that was given by our guest Michael Steinhauser in Apologetics class - March 23, 1998

334. This was mentioned in Apologetics class countless times.

335. Don Faris. "Is Jesus God." p. 29-30.

336. Victor Shepherd. Spirit of Methodism. -This is Victor Shepherd's term - said in class that he intends to stay in the UCC, and declares himself as loyal- November 6, 1997. ca.

337. Oshawa presbytery - Response to the Moderators remarks, November 1997 in Compilation of Statements (Other Statements Shawville United Church, Motion of Halifax Presbytery, Motion of Oshawa Presbytery, Open Letter from Devine Street United Church, Motion of Devine Street United Church, Letter from Allen Churchill, Letter from John Wilkie.) November 1997. www.iosphere.net/mfearnall/statement/.html

338. Marie Brydges. "Response to Bill Phipps" November 14, 1997. on Tony Copple's moderator site. http://www.igs.net/~tonyc/mod.html. November 14 responses.

339. Ibid.

340. Steven Davis in Muriel Duncan. "Phipps and Jesus: readers have their say." in The United Church Observer. Letters section. Vol. 61. No. 6. January 1998. 2-6. p. 2.

341. Gerry and Leslie Strome. in Muriel Duncan. "Phipps and Jesus." p. 2.

342. Gary Webster and Margaret Allsop in Muriel Duncan. "Phipps and Jesus." p. 2.

343. Eileen Arthur in Muriel Duncan. "Phipps and Jesus." p. 2.

344. Clint Nesbitt in Muriel Duncan. "Phipps and Jesus." p. 4.

345. Karen Allsop in Muriel Duncan. "Phipps and Jesus." p 4.

346. Oliver Stevens (he is clergy, but it fit here) in Muriel Duncan. "Phipps and Jesus." p 4.

347. Charles Levy in Muriel Duncan. "Phipps and Jesus." p. 4.

348. Pamela Matthews in Muriel Duncan. "Phipps and Jesus." p. 4.

349. Arthur Lindenberg in Muriel Duncan. "Phipps and Jesus." p. 4.

350. Many responses, but also June and Stuart Douglas in Muriel Duncan. "Moderator: commended/The Moderator: denounced." in The United Church Observer. Letters section. Vol. 61. No. 7. February 1998. 4-7. p. 5.

351. Vern N. Miner in Muriel Duncan. "Moderator: commended/The Moderator: denounced." p. 6 .

352. G.E. Douglas in Muriel Duncan. in Ibid. p. 6.

353. John Edelhofer in Muriel Duncan. in Ibid. p. 6.

354. United Church of Canada General Council Executive. General Council Executive responds.

355. Peter Wyatt. What's a Valid Theological Education for Today? Theological Panel at Faithfulness Today V. May 2. Hamilton ON.

356. Lloyd G. Cumming. The Uncomfortable Pew p. 130.

357. Jim Love. A Sermon about Phipps. November 9, 1997. Crescent United Church, Surrey BC. VST student intern. November Letters and Articles, United Online. rjg@rockies.net.

358. Gordon Legge. "Grassroots group states 'Jesus is God, Saviour'" in The Calgary Herald. City News. p. B 4. January 9, 1998. (Calgary: Southam, 1998).

359. Brian Wilkie in Ibid.

360. Christmas confession http://www3.sympatico.ca/confession

361. Ibid.

362. Bill Phipps in Gordon Legge "Grassroots group."

363. Ibid.

364. Gail Reid. "Renewal and Reform." Editorial comments and news. in Fellowship Magazine. March 1998. Vol. 16 No. 1. (Toronto: March 1998). p. 20.

365. This was a personal remark to me upon meeting him at Faithfulness Today in the context of asking me about my seminary studies and what I thought of the Christmas Confession.

366. Andrew Stirling. "Reclaiming the Trinity."

367. Christmas confession http://www3.sympatico.ca/confession

368. Peter Wyatt in Lloyd Mackey. "Romans VIII:28" p.12.

369. Ibid.. 10.

370. Ibid. p. 10.

371. Andrew Stirling. "Reclaiming the Trinity."

372. Bob Harvey. "United Church reaffirms its faith Leaders state adherence to creed, support for Phipps." in The Ottawa Citizen.(Southam:November 25, 1997.)

373. Bob Harvey. "Half of area ministers reject views of moderator:Some say issues too complicated to be answered with a yes or no." in The Ottawa Citizen. Bob Harvey with files from Leonard Stern, Stephen Smith, Mark Bourrie, Derek Puddicombe, and Leanne Yohemas Haye. (Southam:November 19, 1997.)

374. Ibid.

375. Brenda MacLauchlan in Muriel Duncan. "Phipps and Jesus." p. 5.

376. Peter Praamsma in Ibid. p. 5.

377. Oliver Stevens. "Moderator: commended/The Moderator: denounced. p. 5.

378. Iain Macdonald. "Reply to David Sherman and Steve Clarke regarding the Moderator." January 10, 1998. on United Online. in Tony Copple's moderator site. Moderator response January 15, 1998. http://www.igs.net/~tonyc/mod.html.

379. Muriel Duncan. "Doctrine, Phipps affirmed." p. 18.

380. Carole Burton "E-mail to Tony Copple regarding Theological Education." November 27, 1998. http://www.igs.net/~tonyc/mod.html. November responses.

381. Ernest Howse quoted in Donna Sinclair. "The Jesus Question: An old debate erupts anew." in in The United Church Observer. Cover Story. Vol. 61. No. 6. January 1998. 27-33. p. 28.

382. Bibliographic details unavailable at this time.

383. Gloria Friesen-Moor. in Muriel Duncan. "Phipps and Jesus." p 3.

384. John Hanson. in Ibid. p. 3.

385. Amanda Royal. in Ibid. p 3, 5.

386. D. Michael Dobbin. in Ibid. p. 5.

387. Siobhan Sexton. in Ibid. p. 5.

388. Bill Burgess. in Ibid. p. 5.

389. Florence Wilkinson in "Moderator: commended/The Moderator: denounced." p 4.

390. Diana Chappell. in Ibid. p. 4.

391. Laverne Rabatich. in Ibid. p. 5.

392. M.J and C.A. Kitson. in Muriel Duncan. "Phipps and Jesus." p 3.

393. Sheila Hutchinson. in Ibid. p. 3.

394. Charlie Thompson. in Ibid. p. 3.

395. Bill Phipps. "Statement by Bill Phipps for the 'Moderators Packet' on Issues Facing the United Church of Canada." May, 1997.

396. Judy Chapman in Allison Monroe. "Views reveal fault lines."

397. Ibid.

398. Sharon Doyle Dreidger. "Is Jesus Really God?" p. 43.

399. Ken Hodgert in Sharon Doyle Dreidger. "Is Jesus Really God?" p. 43.

400. Ralph Garrett in Sharon Doyle Dreidger. "Is Jesus Really God?" p. 43.

401. Ibid.

402. Judy Chapman in Allison Monroe. "Views reveal fault lines."

403. Bannerman, Norma. "A Whole Lot of Love." in The Calgary Herald. Letter to the Editor. Opinion. A18. November 30, 1997.

404. Grant Dawson in Gordon Legge. "Calm urged in church strife."

405. Grant Dawson in Ibid.

406. Bill Phipps "Pause for thought." in The Calgary Herald. Opinion. p. A 12. November 18, 1997. (Calgary: Southam, 1997).

407. Gordon Legge. "Calm urged in church strife."

408. Muriel Duncan. "Doctrine, Phipps affirmed." p. 17.

409. Ellinor Townend in Allison Monroe. "Views reveal fault lines."

410. Ibid.

411. Woolastock Presbytery. in "Moderator: commended/The Moderator: denounced." p. 4.

412. Valley Presbytery, Maritime Conference. A Letter from Valley Presbytery to the Moderator. November 20, 1997.

413. Woolastock Presbytery. in "Moderator: commended/The Moderator: denounced." p. 4.

414. Valley Presbytery, Maritime Conference. A Letter from Valley Presbytery.

415. United Church of Canada General Council Executive. General Council Executive responds.

416. Ibid.

417. Ciaran Ganley. "United they stand." in The Toronto Sun. Tuesday November 25, 1997. Toronto: 1997.

418. Gordon Legge. "Moderator ordered to temper comments." in The Calgary Herald. News. p. A 1. November 25, 1997. (Calgary: Southam, 1997).

419. Bill Phipps. Part of a Common Life. Excerpts from the moderators December pastoral letter in United Church Observer Janurary 1998. Vol. 61. No. 6. p. 18.

420. D. Miller. in Feedback, Letters to the Editor. editor Gail Reid. in Fellowship Magazine. March 1998. Vol. 16 No. 1. (Toronto: March 1998). p. 7.

421. Philip Harrison. in Muriel Duncan. "Phipps and Jesus." p. 5.

422. Bill Phipps in Pamela Wallin. Interview with Bill Phipps.

423. My own testimony - I was a seeker, and although I grew up in a United Church - I was so confused and so empty to know real certainty in my spirituality that I turned to the occult because I did not know any better.

424. Ron Graham in Sharon Doyle Dreidger. "Is Jesus Really God?" p. 41.

425. Bob Harvey. "Church has a place for all of us"

426. John Trueman. Response.

427. Bibliographic details unavailable - but I believe it is in the C algary Herald.

428. Bob Harvey. "'A betrayal of his position and tenets of the Christian faith: Moderator's comments cause growing uproar in United Church" in The Ottawa Citizen. (Southam:November 13, 1997).

429. This fact is in the Ottawa Citizen - February 1998 ca. and in the February responses on Tony Copple's moderator site. http://www.igs.net/~tonyc/mod.

430. Compilation of Statements. www.iosphere.net/mfearnall/statement/.html

431. This is including Don Gibson at Humber Valley United Church, Etobicoke, where I grew up.

432. United Church of Canada General Executive in Bob Harvey. "United Church reaffirms its faith Leaders state adherence to creed, support for Phipps." in The Ottawa Citizen.(Southam:November 25, 1997.)

434. Bill Phipps in Bob Harvey. "Church has a place for all of us."

435. Bill Phipps in Ibid.

436. Graham Scott "The Phipps Phenomenon."p. 26.

437. Mark Fearnall. "We worship Jesus Christ." December, 1997. www.iosphere.net/mfearnall/newpage1.html

439. John Trueman. "Letter to the Editor." in The Globe and Mail. A 26 Toronto: December 6, 1997.

440. Steve Clarke and David Shearman. E-mails concerning the Moderator's comments and Doug Koop's article in Christian Week. on Tony Copple's moderator site - January responses. 1998.

441. Phyllis Airhart in Donna Sinclair. "The Jesus Question: An old debate erupts anew." p. 28-29.

442. Mark Fearnall in Ibid. p. 28.

443. Allen M. Gibson. "Phipps' remarks may hurt all churches." in The Halifax Herald Limited December 6, 1997.

444. Kristenson Stephen P. Letter of Response to Bill Phipps from Stephen Kristenson, Bishop of the Evangelical Lutheran Church, Synod of Alberta and the Territories. November 28, 1997.

445. Gordon Legge. "Lutheran Bishop worried over Phipps' remarks." in The Calgary Herald. City News. p. B 1. December 24, 1997. (Calgary: Southam, 1997).

446. Ibid.

447. Bill Phipps in Ibid.

448. Harris Athanasiadis. "A Response to Bill Phipps's Vision of the Gospel." in Presbyterian Record. Volume CXXII No. 2. John Congram, editor. February 1998. 17-18.

449. Ibid. p. 17.

450. Lloyd Mackey. "Romans VIII:28" p. 9.

451. Edith Humphrey. "Truth, Reality and the Problem of Other Gods." keynote address in Faithfulness Today V: Jesus Christ for the Twenty- First Century. Conference. Note taker Laurie-Ann Zachar. Hamilton ON. May 1-2, 1998.

452. Bill Phipps. Transcript of a Presentation of a public forum.

453. Harris Athanasiadis. "A Response to Bill Phipps's Vision p. 18.

454. Bill Phipps and Pamela Wallin in Pamela Wallin. Interview with Bill Phipps.

455. Jodie Wang. "Bill Phipps's opinions are not really Christian." in The Kitchener-Waterloo Record. Second Opinion. December 1, 1997.

456. Pamela Wallin. Interview with Bill Phipps.

457. Ibid.

458. Bill Phipps in Gail Reid. "Conversing with the Moderator. (Part 2)." p. 22.

459. Doug Koop. "Three stereotypes and a confirmation:United Church of Canada leaders blow their big chance." Editorial page. in Christian Week. Vol, 11. No. 17. December 16, 1997. p. 6.

460. Lloyd Mackey. "Romans VIII:28" p. 8.

461. Ibid. p. 10.

462. Ibid. p. 12.

463. Brian Wilkie. E-mail to Tony Copple. November 28, 1997. http://www.igs.net/~tonyc/mod.html in November 28 responses.

464. At the Faithfulness V conference, I was sitting at this table, and my heart was touched to keep them all in prayer.

465. Tony Copple. Introduction to his moderator site. November 11, 1997. www.igs.net/~tonyc/mod.html

466. Tony Copple E-mail to UCCANCHAT@coolist December 20, 1997. on www.igs.net/~tonyc/mod. December 22 responses.

467. Tony Copple. E-mail to Tony Copple's recipient list (myself included). April 30, 1998.

468. Augustine. As found in Mark Fearnall's site http://www.iosphere.net/mfearnall/response.htm"

469. Donald L. Faris. Trojan Horse: The Homosexual Ideology and the Christian Church. (Burlington: Welch, 1989). p. 42.

470. Arthur BB Moore - "Jesus Christ and the Christian Life" in The New Curriculum as quoted in "Lord, Light, Son" The United Church Observer . p. 28-33. Vol . 61. no. 6.

471. Laurie-Ann Zachar. E-Mail to Bill Phipps. March 10, 1998.

472. Trueman, John. Response.

473. Dave Snihur. "Regarding the Moderator of the United Church of Canada's Comments to the Ottawa Citizen and CBC Radio, October 20-27th." Press Release. November 10, 1997.

474. Gail Reid. E-mail to Gail Reid's recipient list. December 16, 1997.

475. Graham Scott. "Statement of the Rev. Dr. Graham Scott"

476. The Presbyterian Church in Canada. Living Faith: A Statement of Christian Belief. (Winfield BC: Wood Lake, 1984). Seventeenth printing 1996.

477. Mark Fearnall . "Open Letter to Moderator." http//www.iosphere.net/mfearnall/response.htm

478. Darren L. [?] E-mail to United Online. on Tony Copple's Moderator Site. "Re: Moderator's Comments" November 1997.

479. Macdonald, Iain. "Reply to David Sherman and Steve Clarke regarding the Moderator."

480. Ronald R Read "Response to Tony Copple's site from Bill Phipps congregation" November 14, 1997. http://www.igs.net/~tonyc/mod.html. November 14 responses.

481. Wallace, Jim. "Moderator met Saviour One imaginary day..." in The Calgary Herald. Opinion Article, Religion and Spirituality Page. p. H10. December 8, 1997. (Calgary: Southam, 1997).


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_______________. E-Mail to Bill Phipps. March 10, 1998.


Appendix

A. Increasing Shift of Liberalism in the U.C.C. chart469

Liberalism trendOld

Liberal

New

Liberal

Ultra Liberal
Basis of Union
19251940's1960's1980's-90's[?]

Jesus - GodJesus-Greatest manGreat

man

Good man but

limited

Bible-infallibleBible-tells of JesusOne

of many good

books

Unreliable, outdated

To come: Project 2000 - a new attempt to have the 20 Articles of the Basis of Union rewritten by the next General Conference Assembly - in 2000. (http://www.osiem.org/ project 2000/preamble.htm)

B. Resurrection through the eyes of the 'New' Curriculum - 1965

"Let no one claim to know too much about how the resurrection took place. It is enough that all the evidence points to an actual event in which Jesus made himself known, though with a new form, after his death. The disciples who had known him best and had seen him die were convinced beyond a shadow of doubt that he was no longer dead and entombed, but alive and vitally present to their fellowship. He made claims upon their lives, decisions and manifested purpose and intention, all of which are characteristic of a living personality. The church through nineteen hundred years has entered into this experience with joy as she has net and worshipped, obeyed and served her risen and living Lord."470

C. Some Responses to the Moderator

Dear Rt. Rev. Phipps,

Greetings! I am a seminary student (M Div Counselling Major) currently taking an apologetics class this semester, and I have chosen to do a paper on the current controversy regarding your theological comments in the recent past, as well as the responses from ALL sides. I also have a UCC background, and although I do not attend a UCC church at this time, I have been reconnecting with my UCC heritage.

My questions will not be the ones that others have asked you countless times, especially since you've stated your position in its context in the Pamela Wallin interview and many articles. I am basically trying to get at the background context of where you've been coming from.

I don't need a sermon on social justice, ministry to the underdog and a prophetic concern about injustice issues. I agree with you on those - for I have worked with refugees in Africa, and have seen much injustice as well. I am touched by your compassion for the hurting who have been victimized. Theologically? Well, that's another story.

My questions are as follows:

1. You mentioned in the Wallin interview and elsewhere that biblical scholarship has been saying basically the same thing you have. It is true that some biblical scholars have been saying these things. What I would like to know is WHICH SCHOLARS HAVE INFLUENCED YOU PERSONALLY?

I believe I can see traces of Bultmann, Strauss and Tillich - but these are guestimates at best.

2. WHAT DO YOU THINK OF THE JESUS SEMINAR? I am basically trying to draw a loose boundary around just how liberal you are, for example, I am guessing that John Dominic Crossan would NOT be one of your favourites. Who likes to think of Jesus' body being eaten by dogs? No thanks.

3. What do you believe about the Holy Spirit?

Thank you in advance for any answers you are able to give. (My paper is due around April 10, so time is essential). If you would like me to send you a copy of the paper, I would be glad to do so.

Blessings!

Laurie-Ann Zachar471

(Note: this answer is still pending)

From the Renewal Groups

Community of Concern472

"Shocked, disheartened and grieved do not adequately describe the feelings of the members of the Community of Concern. With one sweep of his hand the Moderator, the Right Reveren William Phipps, has repudiated both Christmas and Easter. In his statements to the Editorial Board of the Ottawa Citizen on October 24. 1997 and again to Michael Enright on the CBC "This Morning" show of October 28, 1997, he stated a personal belief that unequivocally contradicted 17 of the 20 Articles of the Basis of Union of the United Church. By the definition of 'membership' in the United Church Manual, the Right Reverend William Phipps is disqualified from membership in the United Church of Canada. It stretches the Manual to believe that he is qualified to be Moderator.

A Moderator's job is defined as being "to give leadership to the United Church ... heartening and strengthening the whole UNITED CHURCH.' It is, therefore, both tragic and dereliction of duty for him to make such reckless declarations. 'No moderator,' said Rev. Dr. Allen Churchill of Ottawa, 'has the ability or mandate to redefine the theology of our church.'

The ancient heresies have always been in our midst. Our toleration of them in recent years has allowed them to rise to the very highest levels of our church. Those of us who profess our faith in Jesus Christ and pledge our obedience to him, must no longer permit these heresies to go unchallenged. The Moderator is seeking a personal confrontation with the membership. The membership cannot back down from that confrontation. This is not a point on which Christ will permit us to compromise or negotiate.

In assessing the damage which the Moderator's ill-considered utterances have already done to the church morally, spiritually, and financially, the Executive of the General Council has an obligation to require his resignation.

Make no mistake about the depth of our distress. The members of the Community of Concern call upon the Moderator to repent of his irresponsible conduct. His words cannot be regarded as uttered in haste because they were uttered over a period of several days. They were a deliberate repudiation of Jesus Christ.

To demonstrate responsible leadership expected of a Moderator, he should resign." (John Trueman)

National Alliance of Covenanting Congregations473

"We, the member congregations of the National Alliance of Covenanting Congregations (NACC) within the United Church of Canada, hereby reject the comments made by the Moderator of our denomination to the Ottawa Citizen and the CBC. [...]Within the Christian faith, the incarnation (God coming down to earth in human flesh) is central and bedrock to all we believe and do...

The one hundred and fourteen congregations that form the NACC within the United Church stand on the record of scripture and the fundamentals of the Historic Christian Faith as outlined in The Articles of Faith of the United Church of Canada...

The articles were written in the early 1900's and formed the theological and spiritual basis of the United Church of Canada. It was these statements of faith - that allowed the Methodists, Presbyterians and Congregationalists to come together and form the United Church in 1925.

Though he is the Moderator of our church, his theological views are strictly his own and in no way are representative of the denomination he leads." (Dave Snihur)

Fellowship Magazine474

From: Gail Reid[SMTP:ivylodge@planeteer.com]

Sent: December 16, 1997 9:54 PM

Subject: Don't leave; stand (PLEASE PASS THIS ON TO YOUR CONGREGATIONS)

Dear Sisters and Brothers in Jesus Christ:

The representative of the Billy Graham Association spoke directly to the interdenominational group of ministers in Ottawa: "Your task is to ensure that Jesus Christ becomes the talking point for all the people in Ottawa for the next nine months till the Billy Graham Crusade in June."

As chair of the group listening, Dr. Allen Churchill, minister at Dominion-Chalmers United, remembers how they all looked at each other, wondering how they could do it. "But, in just one week, God used a non-believing press and a non-believing moderator to make it all possible," said Allen to me today, talking of the reaction to Bill Phipps' declaration of faith. In fact, he believes there may never have been a time when Jesus Christ was more talked about in a Canadian city.

I think he is right. God is working together for good what could bring us shame and bitterness. Jesus is being talked about in every United Church, on the radio, TV, internet, and I just heard from Tom Bandy that the Washington Post is doing a story on the moderator etc. Nevertheless, there IS a serious, powerful battle going on. As the national church has struggled with damage control and the moderator has tried to use orthodox phrases to declare his faith in a way that would win back the conservatives, we are left with clergy and laity even more confused and leaderless.

Now, perhaps more than since '88, we must be very clear about what we believe. For those who are in the NACC, we need you more than ever to hold up the Truth about Jesus Christ and to be a light to those who are now really searching for who Jesus is. For those of you who may feel alone in denominations that are liberal in focus, believe me, they know who you are and people are looking to you for a strong clear confession of Jesus Christ as Lord and Saviour. Suddenly, I am no longer getting glazed looks when I speak up. People are listening as never before.

There are many congregations and individuals who have had nothing to do with any of the renewal groups who have been shocked by the moderator's statements and are looking for leadership. Some are inquiring about the Alliance, some are calling the Community of Concern. We have had calls at Fellowship asking for direction and copies of the Basis of Union. On one day we had 29 calls.

I believe we must be faithful where we are. Now is not the time to quit or be discouraged, but to draw closer to Jesus and to be the lighthouse for so many in our church who now realize they are leaderless. They realize that they are confused and lacking in the understanding of what they believe about their faith. They realize that their commitment to social action has lost its core. They are asking questions. They are suspicious of the answers. They are sheep without a shepherd. May God give us the courage and the words to love them and point to the only true Shepherd who can save them.

I want to thank all of you for being out there, small lights and bigger ones, across the nation and our United Church. It means a great deal to me to know you are there in your small corner. Be assured, there are many believers in other denominations who are praying for us.

Have a joyous Christmas as you shine for Jesus.

Blessings,

Gail Reid, Fellowship Magazine

From Church Alive475

Statement of the Rev. Dr. Graham Scott, President Church Alive on published remarks by Moderator Bill Phipps in October 1997.

The 1925 Doctrine of the Basis of Union remains the official and constitutive teaching of the United Church of Canada, specifically

that the Bible is given by inspiration of God, a faithful record of God's gracious revelations, and the sure witness of Christ (Article 2)

that Jesus Christ is the eternal Son of god and the only Mediator between God and humankind (Article 7)

and that Jesus rose from the dead (Article 7) and so will we (Article 19).

The 1940 Statement of Faith affirms this teaching. The 1944 Catechism affirms this teaching.

The New Curriculum affirms this teaching, as, for example, in the former moderator A.B.B. Moore's book, Jesus Christ and the Christian Life, published in 1965. I quote the following paragraphs, which relate to the reality of the resurrection, the historicity of the Bible, and the divinity of Jesus Christ.

The records of the first Christian century are clear. They leave no doubt about the witness of these communities. They affirmed that Jesus of Nazareth had been crucified, that he had been raised from the dead on the third day, and that he had been seen by many of the brethren. This astonishing claim was the very heart of not only their public proclamation but of their personal experience. [p. 246]

The twentieth century mind may find it difficult to incorporate this event into its faith, but neither the church nor its documents will allow us to cut it out of the record simply because it is difficult or inconvenient to accept. We must deal fairly with the evidence that is in our hands. The church and its ancient documents are there and cannot be wished out of existence. Their testimony is plain tha the resurrection appearances occurred in times and places and to persons that are known, and those occurences have found a continuation in the living experience of the church through all the ages. [p. 174]

No matter what kind of fantastic world may be emerging from the adventures of man's mind, the needs of the human spirit will be with us still. The Christ whose redeeming influence answered those needs in the apostolic age continues to answer them in the nuclear age. He is the same yesterday and today and forever. And man's only fitting response to him is the confession of faith: "My Lord and my God!" [p. 246]

There is good news in the affirmations above. I am prepared to die for this resurrection faith in Jesus our Lord and Saviour and God. I am called away from the culture of death by this life-affirming Word and by the life-giving Spirit, who bears witness to Jesus (John 15:26).

Moderator Phipps' denials, unbelief and anosticism are not good news. They seem to me to be an invitation to suicide. They do not even inspire me to care for the poor. But Jesus Christ, who, though he was rich yet for our sake became poor, does inspire me to care for the poor, for all human beings and for the world that God loves so much (John 3:16, 2 Cor. 8:9).

Concerning doubt Living Faith: A Statement of Christian Belief. 476

Doubt

We are not always certain that God is with us.

At times God calls us to live in this world

without experiencing the divine presence,

often discerning God's nearness only as we look back.

At other tiems God seems absent in order that our faith may be tested.

Through such struggle we mature in faith

God may also chasten and strengthen us through the hard circumstances of life.

Questioning my be a sign of growth.

It may also be disobedience, we must be honest with ourselves.

Since we are to love God with our minds, as well as our hearts,

the working through of doubt in part of our growth in faith

The church includes many who struggle with doubt.

Jesus accepted the man who prayed: "Lord, I believe. Help my unbelief."

Though the strength of our faith may vary

and in many ways be assailed and weakened,

yet we may find assurance in Christ through confidence in his word

the sacraments of his church and the work of his Spirit.

From concerned clergy

November 17, 1997

The Right Reverend Bill Phipps.

Moderator, United Church of Canada

Dear Mr. Phipps,

Hello. First of all let me thank you for taking the time on Monday, October 27, 1997 to talk with me on the phone. I also appreciate your willingness to address concerns in Ottawa at Parkdale United Church.

From our telephone conversation there is no doubt that we would disagree in many areas of theology. We could probably have long discussions on many of them, but I note just one issue that I see as of utmost importance… the deity of Jesus Christ. This teaching, I believe, has great implications for our unity and worship. Let me explain.

In answering questions at Parkdale United Church you said at one point that we worship God, "we don't worship Christ" [I am not the best note-taker but I believe this is accurate]. In truth I wanted to yell out, "I do". And I think that is the seriousness of the issue. Can we, or can we not worship Christ? I do not see how we could possibly honor both views for when (and if) we are together you (in good conscience) could not worship Jesus Christ, while I must (in good conscience). How can we be united in worship when we cannot agree as to who can receive worship? If you are correct about Christ, I am committing idolatry… the worship of a creature!

That is a serious issue, but believe it or not it is not my main reason for writing. My main concern revolves around the United Church Basis of Union, in particular our Doctrine, and what is known as "essential agreement".

In our original telephone conversation I read the following to you from the Basis of Union… "We worship Him in the unity of the Godhead and mystery of the Holy Trinity, the Father, the Son and the Holy Spirit, three persons of the same substance, equal in power and glory."

I then asked whether you believed that and you responded, "I don't believe that". I then read the following, again from the Basis of Union, "We believe that faith in Christ is a saving grace whereby we receive Him, trust in Him, and rest upon Him alone for salvation" I emphasized, if I recall correctly, the "alone" aspect of this confession. Again I asked what you thought of this and you responded, "I don't believe that".

It is in this context that I decided to ask you one question at Parkdale United Church. Your response was that you are in essential agreement with the Basis of Union. Unfortunately, because of time limitations you were not able to tell me what you mean by "essential agreement". I admit that I am confused. I do not understand how a person can say they don't believe something but then affirm that they are in essential agreement with it? Is it just the two statements that I read to you from the Basis of Union that you don't believe, and perhaps you agree with all the rest? That might explain how you could be in essential agreement, but I don't want to answer the question for you.

I am asking if you could explain this to me, please. How can you not believe something but still be in essential agreement with it? I am baffled. I know there can be and are differences in interpretation, but there are also limitations to interpretations… one can't make "agree" mean "disagree". We cannot make the words mean anything we want them to mean. Can we?

I thank you for listening to my concerns and I look forward to your reply.

Yours,

Mark Fearnall477

Pastor, Shawville United Church.

PS. I should let you know. I am publishing this letter on the Internet at my web site as well as on the Forum at United Online. There will also be a few people who receive a copy of this letter via email. I do this for two reasons. First, I hope that others with the same concerns will see your response, and second, I hope this provides an opportunity for dialogue with others. Of course, I will publish your response to the same places. If you should care to examine my web-site you can find it at http://www.iosphere.net/mfearnall/response.htm and should you wish you can respond by email to me at mfearnall@sonetis.com

Again, I thank you for your time and willingness to discuss these important matters.

From 'supporters'

From: darrenl@nortel.ca478

Subject: Re: Moderator's Comments

Hi all,

Well, let me first start off by saying what a nice little witch hunt this has turned out to be. I mean, Mr. Phipps has just put into words what most of the human population believe now. The only people who seem to have a problem with these views are the old conservative members of the church. Ones who want things to stay the same forever. Everything else in this world is changing an amazing rate. Did they really think that belief systems were immune to this...

Anyway, bravo to Mr. Phipps. I come from the generation that was force-fead Christianity. In grade school we were taught religion and prepared for the sacraments etc. Not once did any of my teachers ask me what I believed they just told me what I should believe. Is that right? I don't think so. For about 12 years or so I have not gone to church because of this. I am quite angry at the church for doing it and am very concerned when I see someone like Mr. Phipps persecuted for his/her beliefs. Its like a Spanish Inquisition.

I do, however; find the reaction quite typical. I understand the need for human beings to have something larger than themselves to believe in. I have also noticed that conservatives don't like to have their faith questioned...it just doesn't occur to them that they could be wrong and that the true path to God could be through Budda or the like. Questions must be answered if religion is to find a place in the 21st century.

Because of Mr.Phipps I am seriously considering going back to the church. But only if things start to change. We need to re-evaluate a belief system that is grossly outdated. Unless more people like Mr. Phipps come forward, the conservatives will see their worse nightmare come true...religion will die and technology will take its place.

Thank-you, Darren

P.S. How can I contact Mr.Phipps?

[Answered: by e-mail to bphipps@uccan.org]

From those who have 'dropped' the controversy and moved on

From: Rev. Iain Macdonald 479

I reply to David [Shearman] and Steve [Clarke] as respecting the communications below. Whether or not the United Church is a credal church is one thing. Whether the moderator is outside the pale so far as the Articles of Faith are concerned, is in my book, a settled issue.

Judging by his statement of Vision TV of November, I'm quite satisfied that he is in "essential agreement" with the Articles and the traditional faith. Where he is perhaps less than orthodox is in his way of launching stimulating crusades to get people talking about Jesus.

I find continuing grumbling about Phipps after the Vision remarks has a somewhat grudging or even nasty flavour to it-- "Oh, he doesn't really mean that-- too late to say that now." The best I can do is fault him for an early-term bad case of foot-in-mouth disease, and then get on with the rest of life.

Whatever happened to "forgive and forget?"

Cheers & blessings Iain

From the Moderator's congregation480

To Tony Copple

Thank you for your web page. I am proud to be a member of the United Church of Canada. I have specifically entitled my e-mail message "Prophet or Heretic?" to highlight the sad fact that we have let the media polarize communication within and among us by failing to allow our moderator to express his views fully before disseminating them throughout the country. To read the letters to the editors of the Ottawa Citizen and the Calgary Herald, or to read the responses to this web page, one would get the impression that this man is either a saint or a demon. There seems to be no middle stance, no common ground for discussion. To me, this is a double tragedy. On the one hand, Rev. Phipps has not been given a fair opportunity to tell the wider church just exactly what he did mean, and to put his comments into a broader (i.e. more complete) context. On the other hand, we are now in a position where rational communication about this very important issue is difficult, if not impossible; the long knives are out, sides have been chosen, and our options have been severely limited.

I have had the distinct pleasure of being a member of Scarboro United Church, Rev. Phipps' home congregregation. I know him, as you have stated in your web page, to be a man of the highest degree

of integrity and committment. Although our congregation contains both liberal and conservative members, he has lovingly ministered to all of his flock, and in addition to his great passion for social justice, he suffuses us equally with a deep, rich spirituality.

Although there is clearly great resistance to Rev. Phipps particular views regarding the divinity of Jesus and the nature of the resurrection, there is, within our own congregation, the same disparity of belief that we see mirrored on the editorial pages and in this web page. It is a tribute to Rev. Phipps that this diversity of belief exists without rancor under a single United Church roof, and yet all of us feel valued and included in the life and mission of Scarboro United. It is vital to understand that this diversity already exists within all of the United Churches in Canada and it will not go away if we attempt to sweep it under the carpet and ignore it.

Let me be consoling to those who feel betrayed by the media portayal of Rev. Phipps, and let me additionally reassure us all that Bill Phipps is not our enemy, indeed I believe that he is a man who so closely follows the path that Jesus laid out for us in our holy scriptures that we as a church could have no greater ally.

I propose that we make use of this ally to bring this issue to the front stage of the United Church for honest, respectful debate that will empower us, rather than to call for him to recant and resign, violent acts which will only serve to embitter, weaken and diminish us.

Once again, I would like to thank you for providing this web page so that we may have an opportunity to talk to each other. I look forward to seeing how we as a church family deal with this issue. I would remind us, in closing, that the rest of Canada is also watching to see the outcome. Let us not lose this opportunity.

Dr. Ronald R. Read

Calgary, Alberta

What would Jesus say to Bill Phipps?481 (from the Calgary Herald)

The Premise

During the past several weeks Calgary minister Right Rev. Bill Phipps, Moderator of the United Church of Canada, has been embroiled in a theological controversy stemming from some comments he made during an Ottawa newspaper interview.

Is Jesus divine? Is Jesus of Nazareth, son of Mary, also the ``son of God?'' That's the nub of the controversy. In broad terms, the moderator responded that Christ's divinity has always been an affirmation of faith, not a provable historical fact. His ideas have sent ripples, and in some cases tidal waves, throughout the Canadian church community.

In the midst of the controversy, Calgary's Rev. Jim Wallace, a Baptist minister who is pastor of South Calgary Community Church in Cedarbrae and former president of the Calgary Evangelical Ministerial Association, telephoned the Herald and asked if he could write a column: What would Jesus say to Bill Phipps? We were intrigued by the idea.

For another perspective, we asked Rev. Christopher Levan, an Edmonton Journal columnist and principal at Edmonton's St. Stephen's College, a United Church college that has a Calgary campus at Knox United Church, if he would do likewise.Both have based their responses on Biblical statements attributed to Jesus, paraphrasing them for the sake of these articles.

Rt. Rev. Bill Phipps slipped away for a hike in the mountains. As he approached a meadow, he rested on a rock. Suddenly, a weathered, long-haired hiker came around the bend and sat down beside Bill.

``Bill,'' said the ancient voice, ``I'm glad I could get a few moments with you. I want to talk with you about the things that have been going on over the past few weeks.

``I want to thank you, Bill,'' Jesus said. ``Canadians haven't talked about me so much in years. `People may not understand what it is all about, but I do. It's not about religion, denominations or creeds. It's about me -- a relationship with me and a commitment to follow me.

``Bill, I appreciate your zeal, though some may not. And I don't mind your questions and doubts either.

``But, Bill, I do not call people to live on the basis of their doubts. I call them to walk by faith. Faith in me. Faith in my Father who sent me. And faith in my Word. ``I know you read my Word a lot. I said the words recorded in the Bible. They are simple, direct and true -- just the way I meant them

to be. ``You don't have to rationalize them, Bill. You don't have to make them fit somebody's politically correct model of what I should be. You have to accept them, believe them and follow them.

``My disciple John got it right when he quoted me, `I and the Father are one . . . anyone who has seen me has seen the Father.'

``Bill, I am not just a man who had a profound spiritual experience with God. I am God. I was sent from heaven to reveal God's love to this world. I spoke the words my Father gave me to speak. ``I understand one of the biggest struggles that people have is the Trinity.

``Well, Bill, just look at the water in that lake. It is H2O. It is a liquid, though you see along the edges it is turning to ice. And in the summer, it evaporates as a gas. They are all H2O, Bill, though they are very different in form and appearance.

``Bill, I am God's Son. I am a part of him and yet a different expression of Him. Together with the Holy Spirit that dwells in my followers, we form the full expression of God -- the Trinity. Luke wrote about us in his gospel when he described my baptism. ``I was out in the water with my cousin, John the baptizer. The heavens opened and the Holy Spirit descended on me in the form of a dove while my Father spoke, `You are my Son, whom I love; with you I am well pleased.'

``And Bill, my purpose for coming to earth was to provide a way back to my Father. You see, `I am the way, the truth and the life. No one comes to the Father but by me.' Even though people would like to think there are many ways to God, he only provided one --me.''

With the sun setting, Jesus said, ``And one final thing, Bill. I know you are very concerned with the issue of faith and works. It is not a matter of one or the other. ``It is both. ``But people still tend to focus on one or the other.

``In my sermon on the mountainside, I made it clear. I said, `By their fruits you will know them . . . every good tree bears good fruit.' Good works are the reality of a transformed life. However, salvation and faith must come first. You will not have a regenerate society until you have regenerate hearts. ``That is why the focus of my ministry on earth was not confronting the repression of the Romans. It was changing people's hearts. It was transforming their relationship with my Father, so they could become salt and light, hope and truth in a fallen world.

``Bill, don't miss that. Don't look for fruit until you have firmly planted and watered the tree of faith. Keep all of my words in balance. ``And don't forget what my beloved John wrote, `For God so loved

the world that he gave his one and only Son, that whoever believes in him shall not perish but have eternal life'.''

As Jesus' words faded with the setting sun . . . he was gone.


The Moderator
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