A famous German theologian used the term "Christless Christianity" to describe the empty religion he found in Europe's liberal churches. Of course, he knew that the label was an oxymoron, a contradiction in terms. If you take the Christ out of Christianity you have no Christianity at all. And that was the point. What posed as Christianity was not even a distant relative of it. It was an altogether different religion, the antithesis of all that true Christianity was and is.
These thoughts came to kind when a friend showed me an article from Toronto's Globe and Mail. It was written during the Easter season and here's an synopsis of the story:
On Easter Sunday Christian churches rang out the good news of the resurrection of Christ with such wonderful hymns as Jesus Christ Has Risen Today, Hallelujah. However, in Toronto's West Hill United Church things were a little different. Had you been foolish enough to visit that church you would have heard the familiar tune of that hymn and most of the words-with one alarming difference: the words "Jesus Christ" were excised from the text and replaced with "Glorious hope." So, hope was declared to be resurrected, not Christ, and this was meant to be an expression of renewal of optimism and the human spirit. The central truth on which all the hope Christianity has to offer rests, the resurrection of Jesus Christ the Son of God after His crucifixion, found no expression in what claims to be a Christian church. In fact, in the services of West Hill United Church no divine anybody made an appearance.
That church describes itself in various ways. It proclaims, "We are just like you" and describes the congregation as racially diverse (which is fine) and made up of people some of whom are "straight" while others are "gay." Such little things as sexual purity or biblical morality have as little place in West Hill United Church as Jesus Christ has. Yet the church presents itself as a dynamic community of faith. It prides itself that it does not have the answers to life's big questions. It blathers on and on about "the Spirit" but is singularly devoid of any definitive statement about God or His Son. It makes much about its support for the human spirit by discussions on such uplifting and edifying subjects as diet and of course AIDS prevention, led by Gretta, its minister.
None of this has the remotest connection with Christianity. This is apostasy and it is in your face. This church makes no pretense to Christian orthodoxy. It is a blatant repudiation of all that the Christian faith propounds. Yet it remains a congregation in the United Church of Canada-which says a lot for the state of that denomination. How Christians can remain in fellowship in churches that have so repudiated the gospel is more than I can understand. But they do, finding some lame excuse for their compromise. Christless Christianity is little more than atheism and churches that promote it are not churches of Christ at all but what the word of God rightly calls "synagogues of Satan."