Response to this site and e-mail correspondence

Date: Wed, 28 Jan
By Tony Copple

The first item in this report is the letter that my own church council, Glen Cairn United Church in Kanata, On., sent to General Council this week after considerable debate, such as the e-mail below from Norm. View the letter. Because of the diverse beliefs of the members of council, we felt it impractical to comment on Mr Phipps’ beliefs per se, and restricted our letter to the negative effects that the publication of the beliefs of a church leader will have where they differ from the written beliefs of the church, as enshrined (by act of parliament) in the Articles and Basis of Union.


To: Tony Copple, GCUC
Subject: Re: My Comments on the Letter for the Moderator


I have given this matter much thought and discussed the subject at length with members of our committee. I have little concern over the Moderator's comments. And while a number of people have expressed concern over his words, I have not received the impression that an overwhelming number of people in this congregation or the church at large think differently.

I do not believe any of us can ever claim to know anywhere the whole truth of who Jesus was and his role in bringing the word of God to the people of the world.

I can understand people who believe that the Bible was divinely inspired and was totally absent of personal bias by the "men" who wrote it's various books, many years after the events actually took place. But it is too much of a reach for me to believe that the bible is entirely accurate, even just the new testament (which some people are prepared to accept). The fact is that the Bible was been written within a specific social and economic time by one gender of humanity. It has been translated from Hebrew to Greek to Latin to English and many other languages of the world. I don't believe all those translations were divinely inspired. And when all is said and done, it's clear that throughout history the bible has been interpreted by "man" in support all manner of human injustices including slavery, anti-suffrage and apartheid. Many of these social conditions have been only realized to be wrong in relatively recent times and their persistent existence over time has been the result of interpretation by prominent and respected men who believed that they understood the Bible correctly. Such interpretations, many of which were made by "church leaders" of the day, can hardly be viewed as "divinely" inspired. It's easy to look back 550 years ago (when people said the world was flat) and think how ignorant people were back in that time, and smugly assume that we properly understand the meaning and significance of the Bible today. I wonder how we will look to people 550 years into the future? I think it is a serious mistake for us to assume we know all the answers and that we no longer have to question the basis of our faith or challenge our beliefs. I think we have to ask ourselves what is at stake in trying to maintain an understanding of our faith that is 40 years old.

To conclude, I find the most serious point that I can make of Bill Phipps comments is that he did not indicate to the Citizen editorial board members that the views that he expressed did not necessarily reflect the views of more orthodox believers in the church. Having expressed my feelings on this matter I think that Vida's comes as close to addressing the needs of all members of the congregation possible and in so saying I would request that her letter be put forward to Council for consideration.




From: (Gail Reid)
Subject: Re: Victor Shepherd's sermon
Date: Tue, 27 Jan

Tony Copple wrote:

> > Gail: this sermon is so good, I just have to put it up on my site.
> I didn't know how to reach Rev Shepherd to ask his permission. You
> obviously do. Would it be possible for you to forward this request
> to him?




From: ("Desjardins, Norm")
To: (aj624)
Subject: Re: Victor Shepherd’s sermon
Date: Wed, 28 Jan

I am still reading Victor Shepherd's sermon. Some of his arguments, I find, depend on black and white reasoning...the kind of logic that lead me to leave the Roman Catholic church. However some of his ideas are forcing me to pause and think. I would like to talk to you more when I am done. I appreciate the fact that you and I can have such a discussion. It gives to a chance to analyze my thinking on what I really believe and why it's important for me do so.



Subject: Letter to Bill Phipps
From: Mark Fearnall
Date: Wed, 11 Feb

Hello all,

After prayer and consideration of your comments I have decided to send the following to Bill Phipps, but I will not (at this point) proceed to appeals to the GCE.

To Tony (and any others that are interested), please feel free to quote this email.

To: The Right Reverend Bill Phipps

It is with sadness that I write to you once again. I continue to follow your comments on various television programs and continue to hear you espouse beliefs that I am convinced by scripture and history are heretical.

You are causing factions in the body of Christ, and Paul states in Galatians that dissensions and factions ("hairesis" is the Greek word) are works of the flesh. You have pointed out how important community and relationships are in the church. I agree but the formation of factions and dissensions is a breaking of relationship. These factions may have been around for 100 years, as you have noted on more than one occasion, but that does not stop them from being "hareseis". Remember the orthodox faith has been around for nearly 2000 years!

There are so many objections I would like to make. Let me note just two.

1. You continue to deny that Jesus can be worshipped. Yet at the same time you say we need to be biblical. How so? Every one of the four Gospels affirms that Jesus can be worshipped, yet you deny this. I find it interesting that you noted that only 2 gospels give the birth narrative (and thereby you question it's relevance). All the Gospels affirm the worship of Jesus, why are you not biblical here?

Just last night at our Presbytery meeting our prayer of approach stated, "Come, Lord Jesus… to open our spirits, to worship you". Is the Ottawa Presbytery committing idolatry by worshipping Christ?

2. Your use of the word "divine" is misleading and not historical. In your interview with Pamela Wallin you asserted that Jesus is truly human, and truly divine. You go on to assert that this is the reason we can't say "Jesus is God". Please look at the council of Chalcedon. The term used by this council (in reference to Jesus Christ) is "very God". The church in scripture (see Thomas) through the many early writers (see Ignatius, Justin and so on) in the Reformation (Calvin calls Jesus, "Jehovah") has continually affirmed the full deity of Jesus Christ while never denying his full humanity. Your historical understanding of the word "divine" is skewed at best.

I suspect, just like my previous letters, these concerns will not be answered. Nevertheless I cannot remain silent. I am afraid that though you and I belong to the same institution that we do not have fellowship in Jesus Christ. I say this with regret not glee.

When we talked on the phone (now about 4 months ago) you asked where we can go from here. You asked this in reference to our strong disagreements. Unless we can discuss these things further, and there seems to be an unwillingness to address these crucial issues in most places, there is no place to go. How can we go anywhere together since we seem to agree on little to nothing. Where is our unity? I don’t see it.

Sadly yours in Jesus Christ, my Lord and my God

Mark Fearnall, pastor Shawville United Church

Note: As usual this is an open letter which will be published on my web-site and on the NET. If you choose to respond directly to this letter I will be glad to post your response.


Date: Thu, 15 Jan 1998 22:35:06 -0800
From: Carole Burton Subject: (no subject)

Re. Removal from e-mail lists- I don't know about the rest of you, but this leaves me unsure what to do. I for one appreciated very much the info, thoughts, answers to unscriptural ideas which were being put forth, etc which were sent out by people like Brian Wilkie, Mark Fearnall, Jim Breen, David Fisher, Gail etc. I wonder if they like me feel unsure whether to send any further messages to ANYONE in this UC network which developed over the past 2 or 3 months? I HOPE THIS IS NOT THE CASE. If it is, then many of us will be the losers in this thing.

I hope we can separate the chaff from the wheat, and keep the good in this. It seems that the DEBATE which developed recently, was what many of us were uncomfortable with.
But what about the rest of it?

As I said, it leaves me unsure whether to send anything.

However, I am going to send something which has been on my mind recently, to at least some of the names on "the list" - people I know or who are known by someone I know), and if any of you DON'T want me to ever send you anything else, PLEASE let me know.

And I hope that especially the people I mentioned above (and others too), will NOT stop sending us things which they feel God has laid on their hearts to share with us.

+ + + + +

The Jan.-Feb. issue of Faith Today quotes Peter Wyatt, UC secretary of Theology, Faith and Ecumenism, with an idea which seems to have been latched onto by a lot of UC folk lately (including Peter Scott, exec. sec. London Conf., in his open letter to that Conf.)- i.e. **to say Jesus is God is to deny his humanity.** The answer to that is so obvious, but we need to SAY it, esp. to help church members who hear it and DON'T know how to deal with it: Jesus is fully divine AND fully human. A PARADOX, impossible- yet unless it is received by faith, we are left with a Jesus who is not the real Jesus.

Also, the other idea that is being used a lot lately re. Jesus (e.g. again, Peter Scott's open letter to London Conf.) is: To say Jesus is God is to deny two-thirds of the Trinity(!) (i.e. the Father and the Holy Spirit would then NOT be God, if Jesus IS God - !) Bill Phipps took a somewhat different but equally untrue approach on "Face-off", Dec.21: "If you say Jesus is God, you have a DUALITY"- (two Gods - Father and Jesus. No, Bill, it could be even worse - THREE Gods - Father, Son and Holy Spirit!)

Again, the answer to that is so simple, to those of orthodox Christian faith: the Trinity - not three Gods, but one God in three persons- each of them FULLY God. Again, so hard for some to believe.

Carole Burton

(Incidentally, we can remind anyone who accepts the Moderator's statement on Spirit Connection, Nov.24 as proof of his "orthodox" faith ("...Jesus was the Son of God, Jesus is the Word made flesh, Jesus is God incarnate") : We heard his statements on "Face-off" Dec.20, with David Snihur, **taped Dec.11**, AFTER the Nov.24 Spirit Connection statement! The most he meant on Sp. Conn. is: Jesus is SOME of God incarnate, SOME of the Word made flesh- as much as can be contained in a human body: his original statement.)


From: Tony Copple[]
Sent: February 6, 1998 12:10 PM
To: Carole Burton
Subject: Re: (no subject)

Carole: I just wanted to encourage you that I believe there are many who enjoy and feed off the "debate", for every one who wants off the list.

I am involved in many things that give me huge pleasure and put energy into trying to introduce them to others. (I also do this for a living as a salesman). Only about 2% of the seeds sown fall on fertile soil, and the 98% don't want to know. So I just go on enjoying these things and communicate about them with my web site (a great source of contentment when total strangers get in touch even though friends and family don't care much).
I think that's life. I don't give a fig for hockey, golf, curling, TV soaps and many things that seem to fascinate my friends. So they probably put me into their 98%s)
So keep me on your list!
- Tony


From: Don Anderson[]
Sent: January 29, 1998 10:22 PM
To: Copple, Tony
Subject: sadducees

Remember the argument with the sadducees (mat22:23, mar12:18, luk20:27) in which Jesus says "He is not the God of the dead, but of the living"? Taking Phipps' argument seriously, I think one of the most difficult questions is how Jesus Christ is the "Head of the Church" if he is dead, and particularly if there is no resurrection.


From: Ed Hollyer, Kanata
Date: December 1997

The following is an excerpt taken from a short talk I gave to the congregation of Glen Cairn United Church, as requested by the Chair of Council, on "What Glen Cairn United Church Means to Me": " I ....... share with you a few thoughts of how the teaching from this pulpit has been instrumental in developing my faith.

In this day and age, ......... there are so many happenings and events that tend to shake, and in many cases shatter, ones faith, but mine has not been shattered. The teachings here, over the years, has reinforced; my beliefs, my love of God through Jesus Christ and my concern for his people.

I have been reminded of the historical teachings of the Old Testament and how it forecast the birth, life and death of our Lord. The recollection of these revelations made to the prophets of old years and years before the events, has surely done something to cause my faith to survive ......... Then there are all the activities that go on in this upcoming season that remind me of the grace of God and how he sent his Son into this world to establish a new life for all who would accept him and his teachings. I know that there are many who cannot accept the concept of the virgin birth, but to me that is not important, the importance is the acceptance of Christ as the Son of God, who came into this world for our salvation. To me the Virgin birth is no problem. I believe all things are possible with our most-powerful God of love, and through faith I am able to accept this miracle.

Then there is the teaching about the life of Christ, loving and caring, which is the example of how a Christian life should be led, but I think probably the most important education that I have experienced here is how death was conquered by the resurrection of Jesus and his appearance to a number of people after the resurrection to ensure us "doubting Thomases" of the fact. With this experience of Jesus I am convinced of the validity of the promise that there is a life hereafter.

I believe that Christians today, as I do, believe in Christ's constant presence with us; a presence that lightens our burdens, inspires our hopes and keeps us moving forward together in love.........................."

I remember some thirty years ago when I and my family were considering membership in GCUC and we were being counselled by the then minister I asked the question "Could the resurrection have been a spiritual one and not an actual one" and the reply I received was that too many people had seen Jesus after the resurrection and in fact had talked with him and even had physical contact with him to be other than a resurrection of the body.

These are the teachings I have received in GCUC and from the creed and the hymns we sing, all of which have been authorized by the United Church of Canada, are also the fundamental tenets of the Church.

The remarks of the Moderator and the apparent condoning of them by the executive of the United Church of Canada has caused much confusion which must be rectified.

Ed Holyer