I picked up an interesting little flier on cults at the Metropolitan Bible Church in Ottawa the other evening, showing where the cults go wrong. The passage that caught my eye particularly said:
"Jesus is the only way to God. Basic to the false teachings of the cults is a misconception of Jesus Christ as "a great teacher" or "the highest of all created beings" or "the divine ideal." Whatever the terminology used, the cults do not teach that Jesus Christ is fully God and man, the incarnate Son of God. But the Bible teaches that, unlike all other religious teachers, Jesus claims to be equal with God and the only true avenue of salvation: "I am the way, the truth, and the life: no man cometh unto the father, but by Me" (John 14:6)."
The UCC course Reconciling and Making New seemed to me to be deliberately vague in this area. Coming from an Anglican background where I had certainly been taught the above truth, I had a number of conversations with sincere UCC members on the course who seemed to have been taught and to believe that whoever Jesus was, he wasn’t God - otherwise why would he have referred to the Father as another rather than himself - was the line of thinking. This unfamiliarity with the basics of the Trinity seems endemic in the UCC. You can understand how Bill Phipps may have come to his understanding of spiritual matters as a lifelong United Church member.
I am currently reading Melody Green’s biography of her late husband, Keith Green, pioneer of Christian contemporary music. As the title of the book - "No Compromise" - suggests, Keith was far more than a songsmith. Coming from the hippy environment of San Francisco in the early ‘70’s, he and Melody sought out everything they could find about Jesus (after having previously vainly sought fulfillment in every other possible source). One of their earlier stumbling blocks was the "is Jesus God?" debate. Keith couldn’t understand how this could be, for the same reasons as my UCC friends. Finally they stumbled on the Trinity concept (having never had this taught to them formally), and were shown how Father, Son and Spirit were analogous to the three forms of water: steam, water, ice. They were also pointed to Hebrews 1:6: ‘When God brings his firstborn into the world, he says "Let all God’s angels worship him,"….But about the Son he says, "Your throne, O God, will last for ever and ever…"’ and to Colossians 2:9: "For in Christ, all the fullness of the Deity lives in bodily form, and you have been given fullness in Christ, who is the head over every power and authority." These revelations got Keith over a major hurdle, and were their launching pad to a life of ministry and passion for Jesus, bringing large numbers to the Lord then, and also posthumously today through the immense power of their music and lyrics. Could this have ever come about had they not found the true nature of Jesus, as God himself?
The last word….?
The e-mail arising from the Bill Phipps debate seems to have abated; life continues on, and we may ask ourselves "Was all the fuss about his remarks reported in the Ottawa Citizen on Friday October 24th by Bob Harvey warranted, or has this been, as an early correspondent suggested, a storm in a teacup?"
For me, it has been a learning experience. I learned that the belief in God as manifested in Father, Son and Holy Spirit, which I have always held since being taught it as a child, is not held universally, and even many clergy do not hold to it.
Following all the debate, some of which is reported on this Site, my belief has not changed, but I recognize now I may be in a minority. This does not concern me, although it amazed me when I first sensed it at that early meeting at Parkdale United. Were I not to believe that Jesus was the 100% representation of God in human form, and therefore that I may worship Him as Lord and God, I would question almost every other aspect of my Christian belief, which follow logically from this first great belief, and indeed I would question the value of any involvement for me in Christianity.
The Moderator debate, and the construction of this Site, has been a significant step on my faith journey, and I feel more ready for what the Lord has in store for me in the future.
In fact, my future may well be totally different as a result of the Site, which resulted in a personal relationship that I value more than any other, with Laurie-Ann Zachar. And it is likely that Laurie-Ann, being the most spiritual person that I have ever closely known, will be very influential over my spirituality in the future. Naturally, we both believe the Lord used the whole Moderator experience for His purposes, one of which was to bring us together. And that means that no man or woman can ever break it asunder.
- Tony Copple
Co-ordinator of the Moderator Site