The United Church Observer, a monthly denominational magazine, conducted a poll in 1981, which showed only 10 per cent of the United Church membership was evangelical.[1]  By 2000, Moderator, Marion Pardy, said this conservative remnant had fallen to 5 per cent (say 30,000 souls).[2]  UCC Rev. Dr. Donald Faris writes for the Community of Concern within the UCC: “With the approval of gay, lesbian, and bisexual marriage - the foolhardy blessing of behavior that God condemns - the paganization of the United Church is almost complete.”[3]  UCC Rev. Dr. Allen Churchill writes: “Our own United Church is in a state of free fall…76% of our theological professors think it is not important to affirm Jesus Christ as Saviour and Lord.”[4]  He quotes comments made by UCC theological professors: “I am doing my best to get Jesus Christ out of the centre of the United Church,”  Life beyond death, salvation of the soul, redemption from a miserable earthly into a blissful heavenly one are totally foreign to the faith and message of Jesus,” “In the context of our consciousness of diverse forms of authentic religiousness, I take it as accepted that we can no longer see Jesus as ‘the only name,’ ‘the only way’ to salvation.”[5]  In testimony on behalf of a Wesleyan congregation choosing to separate from the UCC, Rev. Dr. Victor Shepherd, chair of Wesley Studies at Tyndale Seminary, said in 1996, “The [UCC] documents on sexuality cannot be reconciled and would be rejected outright by Wesley.  The new Creed and the Amendments to the Hymn Book ‘Voices United’ are non-Methodist.  The ‘Authority of Scripture’ is totally offensive to Wesley’s 25 Articles and Mending The World violates the principle centre piece of the Christian Faith…namely the Uniqueness of Jesus Christ…it is my opinion that the United Church of Canada has, in its articulation of its formal theology, and in its fostering of its day-to-day operative theology, contravened the Twenty-five Articles of Faith.  Such infringement has occurred not once but many times, and not witlessly by inadvertence (as might be the case with a denomination that drifted doctrinally on account of theological naiveness).  Such infringement has occurred, rather, as successive positions and policies have been adopted intentionally.”[6]


 In 1997, UCC Moderator Right Rev. Dr. Bill Phipps denied the bodily resurrection of Jesus Christ and Christ’s divinity.   When asked, “Is there any truth that the United Church, or Bill Phipps, agrees with?”  Dr. Phipps replied, “The fundamental truth to me in the biblical story is that God loves us and the world unconditionally…The whole biblical story is one of unconditional love.” [7] After publication of the Phipps interview, the UCC leadership backed his response.  Indeed, reflecting the level of support for such thinking within the UCC, Dr. Phipps was the first of the 36 UCC moderators elected on a first ballot.  And the future portends more of the same.  The New Statement of Faith for the UCC, issued for the 2006 General Council, names the Trinity: “Creator, Redeemer, Sustainer,” “God, Christ and Spirit,” “Mother, Friend and Comforter,” and “Source of Life, Living Word, and Bond of Love.”[8]  Jesus Christ is not acknowledged as Lord or the Son of God.  Geoff Wilkins, Chairman of the National Alliance of Covenanting Congregations (100 reform churches of 3,500 UCC congregations) describes what may be called evangelical dissonance within the UCC: “At the end of 2003…membership stood at 608,243, down a massive 460,692 from 1965... We are an exhausted, depleted church.  Those who still have the energy to care, once again find themselves divided by controversy.”[9]  The decline is in its 39th consecutive year with an average of 16,000 members leaving each year since 1988 - “one good sized congregation every 5 days.”[10] 


9.1 - The United Church of Canada – A Witness of Unwavering Apostasy 


The chronology of events ending in the creation of this pseudo-Christian church (a denomination empty of biblical Christian theological content) follows starting with a rare statement of orthodoxy:


1960 - First Report on a Christian Understanding of Sex, Love, Marriage.  This report stated: "Marriage is an intimate personal union to which a man and woman consent, consummated in sexual intercourse, and perfected in a life-long partnership of mutual love. Marriage is also a social institution recognized and regulated by the laws and customs which a society develops in order to safeguard its own continuity and welfare. A Christian marriage is one in which husband and wife have publicly covenanted together with God..."[11]


1962 - Sanction divorce and remarriage.[12] 


1965 - Condone pre-marital sex.[13]


1968 - Issue a New Creed which does not name the Father and does not declare Jesus as God’s Son, Savior or Lord.[14]


1971 - The 24th General Council states “abortion is morally justifiable.”[15]   UCC policy as amended in 1989: “As a forgiven people in Christ, it is possible for us to live in the midst of moral dilemmas…A child has a right to be wanted, so that it may have some assurance of this essential element in human development.  Bringing unwanted children into the world is irresponsible…Some practice of abortion is inevitable for the next few years while contraceptive techniques are imperfect and contraceptive ignorance is widespread, but the aim of all education, research and social pressure must be always to reduce the incidence of abortion and to promote effective contraception…We affirm the inherent value of human life, both as immature in the fetus and as expressed in the life of the mother and related persons. The fetus is a unique though immature form of human life and, as such, has inherent value. Christians should witness to that value by stressing that abortion is always a moral issue and can only be accepted as the lesser of two evils. Therefore, abortion is acceptable only when, after careful consideration, the medical, social, and/or economic situation makes it the most responsible alternative…We do not support 'abortion on demand.' We believe that abortion should be a personal matter between a woman and her doctor, who should earnestly consider their understanding of the particular situation permitting the woman to bring to bear her moral and religious insights into human life in reaching a decision through a free and responsive exercise of her conscience…We URGE the government of Canada...to provide early access to early diagnosis and if necessary, termination of pregnancy so that any abortion should be as early as possible… We draw attention to the action of the Society of Obstetricians and Gynaecologists of Canada at their meeting in June, 1971: 'That for the time being the fees for the performance of termination of pregnancy should not exceed that set in the local and provincial fee schedules.'"[16]


1980 - Issue sex report approving of marriage infidelity - In God’s Image: Male and Female: “it [fidelity] includes openness to secondary relationships of emotional intimacy and potential genital expression but with commitment to the primary marriage.” 


1984 - Declare God indifferent to all sexual orientations.


1986 - Report on AIDS.  Under the title, “Theological Affirmation”: “We affirm that the Christian conviction that God loves and cares for all people includes persons with AIDS, and we reject the argument made by some that AIDS is God's punishment for homosexuals.”  We call upon the church: to affirm that the well-being of both individuals and communities requires not only social responsibility but also personal responsibility to refrain from high-risk behaviors and to adopt responsible behaviors, with a view to the care of one's own body and the care of those to whom we are bound in relationship, family and community.” [17]


1988 - Unrepentant homosexuals who profess faith in Jesus can join and be ordained.


1991 – Work begins on the new hymnal Voices United.  Rev. Dr. Victor Shepherd writes: “… I am stunned to find Voices United naming God ‘mother’ and ‘goddess’ in six hymns and three prayers. Two of the prayers name God ‘Father and Mother’ (as in the rewritten prayer of Jesus, ‘Our Father and Mother...’)... Hymn #280 of Voices United exclaims, ‘Mother and God, to you we sing; wide is your womb, warm is your wing.’ This hymn squares perfectly with the fertility cults of old, together with their sacral prostitutes and their religiously sanctioned promiscuity…Voices United has virtually eliminated ‘LORD’ from the Christian vocabulary. The reason it has done so, according to the hymnbook committee, is because ‘LORD’ is hierarchical and therefore oppressive. In The Hymnbook the Trinity is referred to in over 50 hymns out of 506. In Voices United the Trinity is referred to twice out of 719 hymns. Plainly, the Trinity has all but disappeared. This is no surprise. After all, if God isn't to be called ‘Father,’ then God certainly isn't going to be known as ‘Father, Son and Holy Spirit’…Voices United combines fine hymns and terrible hymns on the assumption, apparently, that ‘nothing should be left out; no one should feel left out; there should be something here for everybody.’  For this reason what we call the ‘Lord's prayer’ has been re-written, ‘Our Father and Mother,’ even as ‘Father, Son, Holy Spirit’ is retained (twice only) for die-hard traditionalists.”[18]


1992 - Clarify policy on inerrancy of Bible in report “The Authority and Interpretation of Scripture.”  Moderator Marion Pardy summarized the position: members are “to engage the Bible to experience the liberating and transforming word of God…with an awareness of our theological, social and cultural assumptions…with a sense of sacred mystery and in dynamic interaction with human experience, understanding and heritage…trusting God’s Spirit to enliven our understanding and to empower our acting.”[19] 


1997 - Adopt a policy to lobby teacher’s unions to promote homosexual affirming programs in public schools.


2000 - Adopt a resolution to affirm civil recognition of same-sex unions.


2003 - Amend the resolution from 2000 to redefine marriage inclusive of homosexual couples.  Rev. J. Clark Saunders reports, “Out of over a hundred commissioners, I saw only four hands raised in opposition to the motion.  So I think we can say that the General Council’s support was overwhelming.”


2005 – UCC “prophecy” on marriage redefinition.  Rev. Dr. Jim Sinclair, General Secretary of the General Council declares, “Marriage will be enhanced, not diminished, religious freedom will be protected, not threatened, and Canadian society will be strengthened, not weakened, as a result of this [same-sex marriage] legislation.”[20]


9.2 - The Genesis of Religious Orthodoxy: A Response to Gnostic Liberalism


Orthodoxy, the English equivalent of Greek orthodoxia (from orthos, “right,” and doxa, “opinion”) means right belief, as opposed to heresy or heterodoxy.  The term is not Biblical; no secular or Christian writer uses it before the second century, though orthodoxien is used by Aristotle.  The word expresses the idea that certain statements accurately embody the revealed truth content of Christianity, and are therefore in their own nature normative for the universal church.  This idea is rooted in the New Testament insistence that the Gospel has a specific factual and theological content and that no fellowship exists between those who accept the apostolic standard of Christological teaching and those who deny it.  Paul wrote to the Christians at Corinth: “Now, brothers, I want to remind you of the Gospel I preached to you, which you received and on which you have taken your stand.  By this Gospel you are saved, if you hold firmly to the word I preached to you.  Otherwise, you have believed in vain” (1 Corinthians 15:1-2).  “Do not be yoked together with unbelievers.  For what do righteousness and wickedness have in common?  Or what fellowship can light have with darkness?  What harmony is there between Christ and Belial?  What does a believer have in common with an unbeliever?  What agreement is there between the temple of God and idols?  For we are the temple of the living God.  As God has said: I will live with them and walk among them, and I will be their God, and they will be my people.  Therefore come out from them and be separate, says the Lord” (2 Corinthians 6:14-17).[21]


At Colassae in Asia Minor, Paul met with perhaps the gravest heresy threatening the early Church.  This was the syncretistic blending of Christianity with theosophical elements drawn from the mystery cults and partly from heterodox Judaism.  According to Henry Chadwick author of The Early Church this heresy belonged to the general category commonly labeled “Gnosticism.”[22]  This is a generic term used primarily to refer to theosophical adaptations of Christianity propagated by sects which broke with the early Church between 80-150 A.D..  The term Gnosticism is derived from the ordinary Greek word for knowledge (gnosis).  The second century sects claimed to possess a special “knowledge” which transcended the simple faith of the Church.  The Gnostic initiate was taught to acknowledge no responsibilities.  According to Kurt Rudolph, author of Gnosis: The Nature and History of Gnoticism, the traditional Church accused the Gnostics of deceit and falsehood declaring the supernatural cause of Gnostic teaching to be Satan himself, who sought to corrupt the Church.[23] 


Gnostic tradition frequently drew its material from varied existing traditions, attached itself to them, and at the same time set it in a new frame by which this material took on a new character and a completely new significance.  This “anything goes” theology was anathema to the early Church, as it should be today.  The period between 150 and 250 A.D., was evidently a high point in the debate between the Christian church and the Gnostics.  According to Kurt Rudolph, there was no “Gnostic church” or normative theology, no Gnostic rule of faith nor any dogma of exclusive importance.  No limits were set to free representation and theological speculation so far as they lay within the framework of the Gnostic worldview - that God is forever unknown.  In all but one sect, there was no Gnostic canon of scripture (authorized text).  In libertine sects, the adherent was seen as a new kind of person who is subjugated neither by the obligations nor the criteria of the present world.  Historian H. Jonas writes that the Gnostic in contrast to the orthodox Christian: “…is free from the law - in a quite different sense from that of the Pauline Christian - and the unrestrained use of this freedom is not just a matter of a negative license but a positive realization of this freedom itself.  This ‘anarchism’ then was stamped by a ‘determined resentment against the prevailing rules of life,’ and by ‘obstinate defiance of the demands of the divine cosmic powers who are the guardians of the old moral order.”[24]


Gnosticism culminates in the assumption of a new unknown God, who dwells beyond all visible creation and is proclaimed the real lord of the universe.  Gnosticism is a religion of self-redemption, one is already redeemed, and all that is necessary to achieve salvation (freedom) is knowledge.  The Gnostic gospel, Thomas 22, reads: “When you make the two one, and when you make the inmost as the outermost and the outer as the inner and the above as the below, and when you make the male and female into a single unity, so that male will not be only male and the female will not be only female, when you create eyes in the place of an eye, and create a hand in the place of a hand, and a foot in the place of a foot, and also an image in the place of an image, then surely will you enter the kingdom[25].


Gnostic redemption is deliverance from the world and the body through wisdom, not as in Christianity from sin and guilt by Christ’s atoning sacrifice.  That the Christian Gnostics considered themselves to be Christian and not pagan, and were using the name, severely vexed their ecclesiastical rivals.  Rudolph writes that the Church Fathers commented on the Carpocration Gnostics: “[They] are so abandoned in their recklessness that they claim to have in their power and to be able to practice anything whatsoever that is ungodly (irreligious) and impious.  They say that conduct is good and evil only in the opinion of men…according to their scriptures they maintain that their souls should have every enjoyment in life, so that when they depart they are deficient in nothing.[26]  Subsequently, the Fathers of the Church simply traced the rise of Gnosis to the devil.  The classic formulation of this view was made by the father of ecclesiastical historiography, Eusebuis of Caesarea (ca. 264-339) in his Ecclesiastical History: “Like brilliant lamps the churches were now shining throughout the world, and faith in our Savior and Lord Jesus Christ was flourishing among all mankind, when the devil who hates what is good, as the enemy of truth, ever most hostile to man’s salvation, turned all his devices against the church.  Formerly he had used persecutions from without as his weapon against her, but now that he was excluded from this he employed wicked men and sorcerers, like baleful weapons and ministers of destruction against the soul, and conducted his campaign by other measures, plotting by every means that sorcerers and deceivers might assume the same name as our religion and at one time lead to the depth of destruction those of the faithful whom they caught, and that others, by the deeds which they undertook, might turn from the path to the saving word those ignorant of the faith.”


According to Chadwick, the Church’s defense against these anti-Christian forces was threefold.  The first defense against Gnosticism was developed in the idea of orthodoxy through succession from the apostles.  Against any heretical claim to possess new and varying revelations of the Gospel of Jesus Christ, there was the clear argument that Christ would not have failed to impart such wisdom to Peter and Paul and that these apostles would have shared such doctrines through the line of accredited Church teachers.  The succession argument was key for two reasons.  First, the faithful were thereby in some sense assured that revelation was knowable as retrospective historical fact.  Second, it enabled defenders of orthodoxy to oppose the proliferating Gnostic sects, with the concept a one true church unanimous in its possession of an immutable revelation.  The second weapon of orthodox defense was the gradual formation of the New Testament canon.  The controversy with the Gnostics gave sharp impetus to control the authentic tradition which a written document possessed and which oral tradition did not.  The contemporary version of these two defenses is to hold to the authority of the Bible over abject revisionism.  The third and last weapon against heresy was the “Rule of Faith,” a title used to mean a short summary of the main revelatory events of the redemptive process.  The crux of the creed for polemical purposes lies in the assertion of the unity of the divine plan from Old Testament to New.  Gnostic heretics did not believe in the God detailed in the Old Testament and with their low valuation of the Old Testament, were not interested in the fulfillment of prophecy.  Today Christian creedal statements still have the value of anchoring the faith of adherents and exposing heterodoxy.


9.3 - Analysis of Gnostic and United Church Theologies


On this single point, I would agree with liberal theologian Rev. Dr. John Shelby Spong: “it matters how one thinks of God.”  Theology affects our faith and the theology of the UCC, to the extent that it can be identified (and unmasked) is as unique from Christianity as Gnosticism was found to be by the first and second century apologists.  Moreover, UCC theology is the equivalent threat to Christianity today that Gnosticism was to the early Church.  Christians are called to confront heretical doctrines and when the teachings persist, to separate from those giving false witness.  The “Rule of Faith” action plan taken by the early Church is a sound model for dealing with apostate denominations (and individuals) that falsely claim to be Christian.  Before introducing an Augmented Creed for protecting the right faith in contemporary times, it is valuable to compare the extent of UCC apostasy with Gnosticism.  The word “apostasy” comes from the Greek apostasia, a late form of apostasies, originally to desert a post or station in life.  Apostasy is a “falling away” to the revelation of the man of sin, or Antichrist, “a passing over to unbelief.”  Apostasy is dissolution of the “union with God subsisting through faith in Jesus Christ.”  The risks of apostasy are well documented: “But there were also false prophets among the people, just as there will be false teachers among you.  They will secretly introduce destructive heresies, even denying the sovereign Lord who bought them – bringing swift destruction on themselves.  Many will follow their shameful ways and will bring the way of truth into disrepute. (2 Peter 2:1-2)  If we deliberately keep on sinning [NIV Study Bible: committing the sin of apostasy] after we have received the knowledge of the truth, no sacrifice for sins is left, but only fearful expectation of judgment and of raging fire that would consume the enemies of God.  Anyone who rejected the law of Moses died without mercy on the testimony of two or three witnesses.  How much more severely do you think a man deserves to be punished who has trampled the Son of God under foot, who has treated as an unholy thing the blood of the covenant that sacrificed him, and who has insulted the Spirit of grace? (Hebrews 10:26-29) [NIV Study Bible: to reject Christ’s sacrifice for sins is to reject the only sacrifice; there is no other.]


The following table compares Gnostic and United Church theologies and heresies.  In sum the two religious views share the following heresies: (1) denial of the Trinity; (2) denial of the Bible as the Word of God and the final authority on matters of faith; (3) denial of the divinity of Jesus Christ; (4) denial that Jesus Christ is the only way of redemption; (5) denial of original sin; (6) denial of judgment; (7) belief that all will be saved; (8) denial of the Law and replacement with liberal morality; (9) condoning premarital, extra-marital and homosexual sex; (10) no normative theology; (11) no limits set to the free representation and theological speculation; and (12) condoning abortion.  


9.4 - Comparative Table of Gnostic and United Church Beliefs







United Church





Gnostics believed there was revealed truth to be found in many religions. 


There was no Gnostic church or normative theology, no Gnostic rule of faith or any dogma of exclusive importance. 


No limits were set to the free representation and theological speculation so far as it lay within the framework of the Gnostic worldview.


Gnosticism was a mix from the mythological or religious ideas of the most varied regions and cultures: Greek, Jewish, Iranian, Christian, Manicheism, also East Indian.


Marcionism rejected the Jewish Scripture (Old Testament) and its prophetic roots and connection with Christianity.


When Gnostics recognize the truth(s) they find the fruits of the truth in themselves.  If they unite with it, it will bring fulfillment.









Denial of the

Bible as:

the  Word of God, the final authority on matters of faith






Romans 15:4

2 Tim.  3:16-17

2 Peter 1:19-21


‘I would want to question some of the conclusions you reach from a platform of natural theology.’[27]The Right Rev. Dr. Peter Short, Moderator, 2005. 

Our society is multicultural, our world is multifaith; our church community has varying theological perspectives within it.  Some make exclusive claims to absolute truth and find in these claims authorization to do harm…While believing that our faith is grounded in truth, our truth need not deny the truths of others’  -  Question of Truth, Faith Talk II.

Some will protest that we must have faith in the Bible, and that the Bible takes an unfavourable view of intimate same-sex relationship.  But I would answer that Christian faith is not an uncritical repetition of a received text.  It is a mindful commitment to the power of love, to which the text seeks to give witness. ..In fact, change is the only medium in which faithfulness can truly become faithfulness.  Uncritical repetition is more like being on autopilot. – The Right Rev. Dr. Peter Short, Moderator, 2005.

‘The United Church unequivocally supports the right of same-sex couples to have access to civil marriage, it also unequivocally supports the right of religious communities to refuse to perform such marriages.  The United Church does not believe that the faith stance of a community which supports same-sex marriage undermines the faith stance of a community that does not.  -  Choice Okoro, UCC Program Officer for Human Rights




Gnosticism culminates in the assumption of a new unknown God, who dwells beyond all visible creation and is proclaimed the real lord of the universe.  This god is not the creator of the material world. 


Marcion taught that Jesus was a man like any other, who was endowed with the Spirit by the true Father (not the God of Israel) but the unknowable Stranger God.  Marcion held that a real divine Christ could not have taken on a material body.


Jesus Christ of Scripture could not have been divine.  Divinity can not experience suffering.


Gospel of Thomas denies the virgin birth and the resurrection.


The true and good God is unknown.


Knowledge is freedom.


Gnostic Gospels stressed ‘self-knowledge’ where to know the self is to know God.


Jesus is presented as the revealer of wisdom and knowledge, rather than the source of salvation and reunion with God. 




Denial of the Trinity:

Father, Son and Holy Spirit




Matthew 3:16-17

Mark 1:10-11

John 14:16-17

2 Cor. 13:14

Titus 3:4-8



Denial of the



Jesus Christ


(The sole Way, Truth and Life)






Matthew  1:18-25

John 15:5-8

2 Peter 2:1-3

1 John 2:22


1968 - New Creed - Jesus no longer declared Son of God, Saviour and Lord.

‘No I don’t believe Christ was God.’[28] – The Right Rev. Dr. Bill Phipps, Moderator, 1997. 

In ‘Roses Are Difficult Here,’ The Right Rev. Dr. Short preaches on a non-relational deity: ‘…so much of the spiritual tradition falls into the unlikely…That Jesus was born of a virgin....That Jesus was raised from the dead – not likely…No use for the church to be condemning the modern world.  No use launching into a diatribe against technology, nor an indictment of consumer culture…The absence of God is not caused by those things.  The absence of God is as old as the hills.  Older.’[29] 

God is not singularly known, adherents may choose their own likenesses: ‘Our words, while necessary, are limited.  We sometimes make false gods of them and use them to exclude or denigrate others.  We therefore also speak of God: as Creator, Redeemer, and Sustainer; as God, Christ, and Spirit; as Mother, Friend, and Comforter; as Source of Life, Living Word, and Bond of Love.’  – Faith Talk II.[30]

‘The Spirit fills creation in diverse ways and makes the Divine knowable, not only to us but also to others.  We understand faith as an experience common to humanity, as a shared response to God’s self-giving; and we know that our own and other’s expressions of faith are often distorted by insecurity, intolerance and hatred. How others perceive God is often foreign to our perception.   The breadth of Spirit calls us away from isolation to consider the Spirit’s freedom of movement beyond our experience and, however our expressions of faith may differ, to act toward all with the same love by which God acts toward us.’ - Faith Talk II






Gnosticism is a religion of self-redemption, one is already redeemed all that is necessary to achieve salvation (freedom) is knowledge.  Gnostic redemption is deliverance from the world and the body through wisdom, not as in Christianity from sin and guilt by Christ’s atoning sacrifice.




For the Gnostic, achieving gnosis (knowledge) meant to know oneself as God.  But ‘to know’ meant not merely to understand one’s divine origin, but to achieve the classic goal of the mystic: union with God.  The idea that our souls are intrinsically divine stands in sharp contrast to orthodox dogmas which stressed Jesus’ exclusive divinity.  Gnosticism is salvation through knowledge and self-discovery.




Each person is born with a seed or spark of the Divine, a body and a soul.  The divine spark - the God within - acts something like a pilot light, sustaining the divine potential of the soul and body until the soul is ready to be ignited, or awakened to gnosis.  The awakened soul pursues union with the God within and this union is salvation.  






Denial of

Original Sin




1 Peter 1:23

Romans 9:8-15






Denial of





Matthew  3:12

Matthew 7:21-23

John 6:44

2 Peter 3




Denial of Christ as the only way for





1 Cor. 6:11

Ephesians 2

Eph. 5:25-27


‘Before conscious thought or action on our part we are born into brokenness of this world.  Before conscious thought or action on our part we are surrounded by God’s redeeming love.’ - Faith Talk II

‘In Jesus’ resurrection, God overcomes death, reconciles and makes all creation new, faithful to what God in love has created.  Nothing separates us from the love of God.’ – Faith Talk II

‘The Risen Christ lives today, present to us and the source of our hope that nothing can hinder the Compassionate Love that is the origin and end of all.’ –  Faith Talk II

‘The Holy One promises that all will share in abundant life.’ - Faith Talk II 

Indifference to the risk of the UCC same-sex marriage experiment: ‘This is my job.  I do it gladly and enthusiastically, trusting that where we are wrong God will forgive…’[31] - Right Rev. Dr. Peter Short, Moderator, 2005

‘We know not when that hour (Christ’s return) will be, many in our day seek such knowledge and false prophets lead many astray, preaching a neo-apocalyptic gospel of smug triumphalism and the abandonment of earth.  We reject that false gospel, choosing instead to love our enemies and to care for the earth, choosing life…Divine creation does not cease until all things have found wholeness, union, and integration with the common ground of all being.’ –  Faith Talk II

‘Evil does not, cannot, undermine or overcome the love of God.  The essence of the Divine enfolds and forgives, reconciles and transforms the results of sin….With God’s help we turn from our sin and seek to be agents of God’s healing and reconciliation.  Repenting of our closed minds and hearts, now we choose to listen to our neighbors in faith, to respect them and the integrity of their understanding, to work together for a whole earth of peace and justice.’ – Faith Talk II

No Gnostic canon (approved books) of their scriptures. 

‘They are so abandoned in their recklessness that they claim to have in their power and to be able to practice anything whatsoever that is ungodly (irreligious) and impious.  They say that conduct is good and evil only in the opinion of men …according to their scriptures they maintain that their souls should have every enjoyment in life, so that when they depart they are deficient in nothing.’ 

Marcionism: rejected the Jewish Law (Old Testament) and the Jewish notions of God in favor of the new idea of a God of love, divorcing themselves entirely from the Jewish roots of Christianity.

Iranaeus, known as the First Church Father, codified orthodoxy in his five-volume Against Heresies, characterized Gnosticism as a refuge of perverts who held orgies, practiced promiscuity and homosexuality, aborted fetuses and refused to bear children.

The libertine adherent was seen as a new kind of person who was subjugated neither by the obligations nor the criteria of the present world. 

The Gnostic is free from the law in a different sense then the Pauline Christian.  The unrestrained use of this freedom bordered on anarchism - a determined resentment against the prevailing rules of life and an obstinate defiance of the demands of the divine cosmic powers who are the guardians of the old moral order.













Denial of

The Law and replacement with liberal morality


‘Scripture is not too hard to live out, nor far off, nor in heaven, that we should say, who will go up for us to heaven, and bring it to us that we may hear it and do it.  It is near us, in our mouths and hearts, that we might do it, and so we are called to be doers of the Word, and not hearers only.’  –  Faith Talk II


1962 - sanction divorce and remarriage.


1960 - First denomination to advocate abortion.


1965 - condone premarital sex.  


1980 - sex report redefines marriage fidelity to include marital sex with spouse and secondary sexual intimacy with an outside partners.


1984 - declare God indifferent to all sexual orientations and recommend ordination of homosexuals.


1988 - unrepentant homosexuals who profess faith in Jesus can join and be ordained.


2000 - adopt a resolution to affirm civil recognition of same-sex unions


2003 - amend the resolution from 2000 to redefine marriage inclusive of homosexual couples. 




9.5 - Spiritual Roses Are Difficult in Liberal Denominations


On the occasion of the 80th Anniversary of the United Church of Canada, The Right Rev. Dr. Peter Short gave a sermon at Worship Matters, Halifax, titled “Roses Are Difficult Here.” Dr. Short asked the congregation: “Suppose you had to choose a title for your life and your work.  Suppose you had to say in a phrase what it’s like to be inside your skin and to live the struggle you live.  Don’t you think that might be a good title. ‘Roses Are Difficult Here.’  [He went on…]   We,ve got a lot of problems in The United Church of Canada…People are all the time telling me that roses are impossible here…It’s not the presence of problems or the presence of stress that makes roses difficult here.  In fact, it’s not the presence of anything.  It’s an absence.  It’s an abandoned and boarded up heaven.  It’s the empty space in the soul where wonder used to live light in the spring.  It’s the silence of God and the aloneness in facing the world that makes roses so unlikely.” [32] 


Why is it that relational silence pervades this denomination, as if members must bear their personal and collective burdens in a spiritual vacuum (to use Dr. Short’s words, “The damned, godless, inscrutable absence,” as if “the world is godforsaken”) and yet, for other Christians each day comes up roses regardless of the hardship?  It is true that Job, a faithful and righteous man, experienced a period of rare personal catastrophe, felt abandonment by God (Job 23:3-17)[33] and received poor advice from his “orthodox” friends.  And that in the end Job held his course and his personal relationship with God was restored to Job’s liking and he was also bountifully blessed.  Indeed, his orthodox critics and the Devil were duly silenced.  The key lesson in the Book of Job appears to be that obedient and god-fearing people experience suffering, and that for these people the reason may never be clear nor of their making.  The pain and hardship may only have meaning and value in the greater context of the spiritual struggle between Satan and God.  This Biblical lesson said, the remainder of this sub-section is devoted to raising other Scriptural considerations for the United Church’s felt spiritual abandonment and none of these are insights from the Book of Job.  Christians do not live under God’s Old Covenant and although, not all Christians feel the same level of relief and measure of grace in coming to accept Christ’s lordship and redemption, most rejoice every day for the change in their lives, the fact of being saved for eternity from separation from God, and in the joy of their spiritual walk with Christ.  For these Christians every day is a rosy day.  This is not to diminish life’s pains and sorrows, but Christians under the New Covenant are never abandoned (Romans 8:38-39, John 10:27-29, Philippians 1:6, 2 Corinthians 4:8-9).  Satan wants us to doubt our salvation since this destroys our faith.  Nowhere in Scripture is there record of one Christian being abandoned by Jesus Christ.  Counterfeit believers are exposed and abandoned, but not Christians (Matthew 7:21-23, Luke 13:22-30).  Biblical assurance is being certain of our salvation, totally free from doubt.  How is it that Paul overcomes catastrophes similar to Job (2 Corinthians 11: 23-29), yet he characterizes these trials and pains as delightful: “Therefore, I will boast all the more gladly about my weaknesses, so that Christ’s power may rest on me.  That is why, for Christ’s sake, I delight in weaknesses, in insults, in hardships, in persecutions, in difficulties.  For when I am weak, then I am strong” (2 Corinthians 12:9-10).


If spiritual roses have been difficult for what seems to be years or decades, this is not God’s intent.  God must be relational to humankind in order to be of any relevance to human life.  Our God is not a Gnostic unknown god.  As the saying goes: When God seems far away, it is not because God has changed or moved - it is because we have.  To grow spiritual roses - the same fruits of the Spirit that the Apostle Paul exudes (Galatians 5:22), UCC members should consider re-potting with or without their congregation.  Faith is affected by theology.  Life can be entirely different in the circumstance that God has revealed as ideal for spiritual growth and strength - a rose garden where the pure light never dims or stops, living waters never cloud or dry up and the soil is always deep and rich in nourishment for the soul.  Indeed, it is a rose garden theologically founded upon God’s loving gracious gift to humankind, His One and Only Son - Jesus Christ (Matthew 1:20-23).     


In “Roses Are Difficult Here,” Dr. Short explains that “God cannot be captured and trained” and that the presence of God can leave a church.  Although most evangelicals would be quick to agree, the moderator’s meaning behind “cannot be captured” needs careful study.  The orthodox would argue that Christianity is not about projecting or selecting one’s own image of Jesus Christ.  Scripture advises: “A student is not above his teacher, nor a servant above his master” (Matthew 10:24).  Our faith is about escaping just judgment according to the Law through a saving relationship with Jesus Christ, the Holy Spirit and God the Father.  By divine authority the nature of this relationship is dictated by the terms our Creator has chosen to reveal: “In the beginning was the Word, and the Word was with God, and the Word was God.  He was with God in the beginning. (John 1:1-2)  The Word became flesh and made His dwelling among us.  We have seen His glory, the glory of the One and Only, who came from the Father, full of grace and truth” (John 1:14).  “As soon as Jesus was baptized, He went up out of the water.  At that moment heaven opened, and he saw the Spirit of God descending like a dove and lighting on Him.  And a voice from heaven said, ‘This is my Son, whom I love; with Him I am well pleased”’ (Matthew 3:16-17).  “I [Jesus] am the way and the truth and the life.  No one comes to the Father except through me” (John 14:6).  “I [Jesus] am the vine; you are the branches.  If a man remains in me and I in him, he will bear much fruit, apart from Me you can do nothing” (John 15:5).  “And how from infancy you have known the Holy Scriptures, which are able to make you wise for salvation through faith in Christ Jesus.  All Scripture is God-breathed and is useful for teaching, rebuking, correcting and training in righteousness” (2 Timothy 3:15-16).  “Do not merely listen to the Word, and so deceive yourselves.  Do what it says” (James 1:22).


A huge concern among those tired of God’s silence and absence within the United Church should be the denomination’s doctrine that Jesus Christ is not the One and Only Way to God the Father.  God will not be mocked without consequence.  They seek the true light for growing roses, but their church denies that Christ is the only light.  They seek the living water which Jesus declared before the Samaritan woman at the well (John 4: 1-26), but their church denies it is the perfect sustaining truth.  They seek to find good nourishing soil yet their church picks and amends Scripture as if it is not the truth, not God inspired.  The parable of the Sower reveals much about the dearth of roses, as characterized in Dr. Short’s sermon.  Jesus said in the parable: “But the seed on good soil stands for those with a noble and good heart, who hear the Word, retain it, and by persevering produce a crop (Luke 8:15).   


If Christ is not exactly who He says He is, as recorded in the Bible, than our faith is in vain.  Everything stands on Christ.  Even Karl Barth, quoted in “Roses are Difficult Here,” declares that the Word of God comes to man as a gift.  Man cannot know God other than God freely makes Himself known in Jesus Christ through the Holy Spirit.[34]  The key to the truth of the Bible and the infilling (to the brim) by the Holy Spirit is full acceptance of the one and true Gospel of Jesus Christ - a Gospel of God’s grace to humankind.  And yet the UCC Committee For Theology and Faith refutes the Gospel of Jesus Christ: “Our society is multicultural, our world is multifaith; our church community has varying theological perspectives within it.  Some make exclusive claims to absolute truth and find in these claims authorization to do harm…While believing that our faith is grounded in truth, our truth need not deny the truths of others.”[35]  This multitrack theology of nil certainty (no absolute secure truth) drastically weakens the adherent’s faith, is at the heart of God’s silence, and carries with it many more spiritual and social difficulties.  The God we follow affects our politics, our values, our worldview. 


Choice Okoro, UCC Program Officer for Human Rights, further amplifies this multifaith doctrine by commenting on UCC policy for performing same-sex marriages: “The United Church does not believe that the faith stance of a community which supports same-sex marriage undermines the faith stance of a community that does not.”[36]  Rev. Dr. Short broaches this topic in “Roses Are Difficult Here” when he contends that God cannot be domesticated, God is “wild” in nature and will go where He pleases and do whatever He wishes: “God will not be tamed by any religious tradition, no matter how loudly and how long that tradition booms out the divine name.”  Because God has given man the decisive revelation of Himself in Jesus Christ, to try to find God somewhere else is to fail the first and greatest commandment: “Love the Lord your God with all your heart and with all your soul and with all your mind” (Matthew 22:37).  In matters crucial to the Christian faith, we must acknowledge the Holy Bible’s claim on our faith and the Holy Scripture’s claim to inform our lives.   If God is absent in Christian life and the gates of heaven appear boarded up, if spiritual roses are difficult, it is most likely not a “Job scenario,” but a problem of one’s relationship.  God’s gracious offer of peace and salvation requires one to have a receiving heart and true faith.  One can accept God’s silence, as if under some wild (uncalled-for) test as described in the Book of Job - the obedient righteous sufferer - and choose the status quo, enduring patiently another year, another decade, a life time.  One can accept the silence as if worshipping a God who is unknowable, wholly mystery, in a world which is godforsaken, with a Law which is unrevealed and choose to follow a social gospel, doing one’s ethical best to improve God’s creation in His absence.  But neither approach will bring the desired spiritual roses.  If God eludes churches upholding liberal theologies, it is because God is not “there” to be received.  Liberal theology is not obedience to God at all, but simply a deified humanity - anything goes.


9.6 - Recognizing a Pseudo-Christian Cult


On 22 June 2005 Marriage Reality received the following feedback: “It is interesting to read how this debate is shaping up.  I am saddened that you are not willing to look at love as an option.  I am sad that you are threatened by the idea that two people of the same gender might come to love and care for one another into their old age, instead of being alone and possibly helpless...I am married myself and when I vowed to my husband before God and family that "When you are lost I will find you" - I meant it.  I wish everyone on earth the happiness and security that comes from having a partner to turn to.  A partner that has sworn before God that they will honour the relationship and all of the day-to-day maintenance that goes along with a life together.  I cannot at this time find any reason (except for dubious interpretations of Biblical texts) that same-sex marriage is an ‘evil.’  Even if the Bible clearly stated ‘There shall never be a marital union between two men or two women’ I would still wonder ‘who wrote that?’  ‘Would Jesus have said that?’ ‘What fears led to that bit of text?’  I hear your pain though and respect your right to fight for that which you believe.”

The follow-on text was sent to this person to give a defense for accepting the Bible as God's Word and as the authoritative reference for who Jesus Christ truthfully is and for revealing God’s Law.  The term "cult" really came to many people's attention for the first time with the Jonestown Mass Suicide (913 people), in November 1978. Time magazine told the story of the "cult of death," about a man named Jim Jones, who had begun as a proclaimed Christian minister in Indiana.  He came to San Francisco and like the Gnostic leaders Marcion and Simon Magus, set himself up as the voice of God on earth.  Then he started what he called "The People's Temple" and eventually led his followers to Guyana in South America.  He so convinced those people that he was God’s voice on earth that when he told them to take Dixie cups and dip them into a vat of grape Flavoraid laced with poison, 900 did and gave some to their children before taking it themselves.  One wonders how this could happen.  Authors Dr. Ron Carlson and Ed Decker offer this warning: “The commander of the U.S. Forces who was responsible for going to Jonestown, cleaning the camp out, and bringing the bodies back for burial was a Christian.  When he returned with the bodies to Dover Air Force Base he held a press conference.  We'll never forget one of the things he said: 'The thing that interested me most about Jonestown is that when we cleaned the camp out, we did not find a single Bible in all of Jonestown.  Jim Jones had so effectively replaced the Bible with his own man-made teaching and theology, he had so convinced those people that he was God's voice on earth, that when he told them to drink poison, they did it.'”[37]

Pseudo-Christian cults are religious organizations or movements that claim to be Christian and claim to believe in the Bible, but instead of building their theology and teaching on God's Word - the Bible, they claim some "new revelation" or man-made teaching as superior to the Bible.  By interpreting the Bible through the grid of their particular revelation or teaching, these movements and churches end up denying central doctrines of historic “orthodox” Christianity.  The key perversions of the cults always relate to the central doctrines of God, Jesus Christ, and salvation.  The "non-divinity" of Jesus Christ is often an open or hidden tenet in Pseudo-Christian organizations.  These groups are considered cults because they seek to counterfeit biblical Christianity.  People generally join a cult, not because they have done an exhaustive analysis of the theological worldview behind the church, but rather because they have problems that they are having trouble solving or facing, and the cult promises to solve these problems or give relief and support.  The seeker suffers from chronic cognitive dissonance and the cult offers them relief - a complete contemporary (postmodern) cosmology  tailored for the “what I want when I want” ethos.

A strong manifestation of cultist behavior is picking and choosing what you like from the Bible and ignoring the rest.  The importance of differentiating between truth and counterfeit is evident in specific references to "the truth," made some 186 times in the New Testament alone.  This matter of "the truth" must be seen in the context of a crucial spiritual battle for one's mind. Richard Strauss points out: “Man's mind can only choose what his mind has first grasped. Freedom of choice is restricted to the information one has in his mind.  So if our minds are shielded from the truth of the Gospel, this effectively keeps us from getting to know God and from fulfilling God's purpose for creating us.”[38]   Ex-lesbian Ann Phillips describes her difficulties in finding and following the true path.  Pastors told her that homosexuality was acceptable for a Christian.  "It simply isn't sin," they told her.  "God made you gay, and he doesn't make mistakes."  She recalls her reaction: “Try as I might, I was never satisfied with their answers.  The attitudes, activities and rhetoric of the pro-gay theology movement never seemed to line up with what I was reading in Scripture and hearing in my heart...People all around me were saying things like, 'I didn't ask to be gay' and 'I was born this way.'  These were statements I had made all my adult life.  Then a woman seated right next to me made another comment I'd said many times, 'And no one can change me.'  Within my mind I heard these words crystal clear: But God can do anything.  There it was again God's truth.  He had a way out for me even if I couldn't imagine how this was possible.  As much as I couldn't face leaving my partner and my gay identity there was no alternative as far as I could see.”[39]




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[1] 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.

[2] Laurie-Ann Zachar, “Moderator Controversy,” footnote 5, www.igs.net/~tonyc/bill.html, 10/30/05.

[3] Don Faris, speech titled “THE PAGANIZATION OF THE UNITED CHURCH,” before the Community of Concern AGM, April 29, 2004.

[4] Allen Churchill, “At The Crossroads,” CONCERN, Vol. XIV No. 3, 10 August 2003, p.6.  Adapted from his Presidential Address at the 12th Annual Meeting of COC.

[5] Ibid.

[6] Gwyneth I. Lightbourne, The Sparks among The Ashes (Enumclaw, WA: Winepress Publishing, 2002), pp.112 and 113.  Available at www.winepresspub.com or 877-421-7323.


[7] “A Church leader’s view of Jesus’ life,” Hamilton Spectator, 27 November 1997, p.2, www.bible.ca/cr-united-Can.htm, 4/20/2001.

[8] Committee on Theology and Faith, The United Church of Canada, FAITH TALK II: A DRAFT STATEMENT OF FAITH FOR DISCUSSION AND RESPONSE, , January 2005.

[9] NACC Letter to MPs, 1 February 2005, regarding the January 17 Letter of the Moderator of the United Church of Canada to MPs, www.unitedrenewal.org/archives/2005/02/nacc_letter_to.php, 10/30/2005.

[10] “What General Council Never Mentioned: United Church Membership Loss (1988-2002), CONCERN, Vol. XIV No.5, December 2003, p.2.

[11] The Right Rev. Dr. Peter Short, 38th Moderator, “Chronology of Marriage and Equality Rights in The United Church of Canada,” 8 October 2003, www.united-church.ca, 10/30/05.

[12] Ibid.

[13] “Creed of The United Church of Canada,” www.bible.ca/cr-united-Can.htm, 4/20/01.

[14] Don Faris, “Choose Life!” CONCERN, Vol. XIV No. 3, 10 August 2003, p.2.

[15] Child Birth Choice Trust, “Abortion Law, History and Religion,” www.cbctrust.com/history_law_religion.php, 10/30/05.

[16] United Church of Canada Social Policy Positions, “Contraception and Abortion,” www.united-church.ca/policies/1980/c511.shtm, 10/30/05.

[17] Executive of General Council, United Church of Canada, Social Policy Positions “Report on AIDS,” November 1986, www.united-church.ca, 10/30/05.

[18] Victor Shepherd, “You Asked For A Sermon On Voices United,” February 1997, www.victorshepherd.on.ca/UCC%20Critique/voices.htm#Prostitution, 10/30/05.

[19] Marion Pardy, “Moderator Calls for ‘Holy Manners’ in the Same-Sex Marriage Debate,” August 2003, www.united-church.ca/moderator/pardy/2003/0801.shtm, 4/20/2001.

[20] United Church News Release, “Same-Sex Marriage Legislation Offers a Win-Win Solution, Says The United Church of Canada,” 1 February 2005, www.united-church.ca/news/2005/0201.shtm, 10/30/05.

[21] NIV Study Bible Footnote for: “For Corinthian believers to cooperate with false teachers, who were really servants of Satan, notwithstanding their charming and persuasive ways, is to become unequally yoked, destroying the harmony and fellowship that unite them in Christ.”

[22] Henry Chadwick, The Early Church (London: Penguin Books, 1993), p.34.

[23] Kurt Rudolph, Gnosis: The Nature and History of Gnoticism, trans. by Robert McLachan Wilson, (Edinburgh: T&T Clark Limited, 1983), p.10.

[24] Rudolph, p.254.

[25] Stephen A. Hoeller, Jung and the Lost Gospels (Wheaton, Illinois: The Theosophical Publishing House, 1989), p.224.

[26] Rudolph, p.257.

[27] Response from the Moderator, The Right Rev. Dr. Peter Short,  Letter to the Rev. Dr. Connie denBok et al., dated 10 February 2005, www.united-church.ca/moderator/short/2005/0210.shtm, 4/20/2005.  Cornelius G. Hunter writes on Gnosticism in Darwin’s God (Grand Rapids, Michigan: Brazos Press, 2001), pp.149 and 150: “The deity is absolutely transmundane, its nature alien to that of the universe which it neither created nor governs and to which it is the complete antithesis…The world is the work of lowly powers.” Hunter observes that the Gnostic’s belief in “lowly powers” was fulfilled in Darwin’s evolution by natural selection - the theory that life was not divinely created but developed by random chance and selective survival of the fittest.  The acceptance of evolution, in turn reinforced Gnosticism in modern thought.  Hunter writes: ‘Two important themes are discernible in the writings of Darwin and his fellow naturalists: Gnosticism and natural theology (p.129).’ Wikipedia defines natural theology as theology based on reason and ordinary experience. It is distinguished from revealed theology which is based on Scripture and religious experience.  Howard Bloom, in The American Religion (New York: Simon & Schuster, 1992), p.22, writes that Gnosticism is the most common thread of religious thought today.  He calls it the ‘American Religion’ and concludes: ‘even our secularists, indeed even our professed atheists, are more Gnostic than humanist in their ultimate presuppositions.’  Cornelius G. Hunter records in Darwin’s God that philosopher Michael Ruse observed that Victorians in Darwin’s time had trouble with the idea that God created a natural world that often seemed devoid of His presence.  Ruse found: Darwin is characterized as one held to some kind of ‘deistic’ belief in a God who works at a distance through unbroken law: having set the world in motion, God now sits back and does nothing.’  And Baker’s Dictionary of Theology, Everett F. Harrison Editor-in-Chief, (Grand Rapids, Michigan: Baker Book House, 1960), p. 162, characterizes deism as follows: Negatively, the deists generally denied any direct intervention in the natural order on the part of God.  Though they professed faith in personal Providence, they denied the Trinity, the incarnation, the divine authority of the Bible, the atonement, miracles, any particular elect people such as Israel or the church, or any supernatural redemptive act in history… Denying revelation and affirming natural theology only, they yet generally claimed to be within the Christian tradition.[my underline]


[28] Head of church denies Resurrection of Christ! Hamilton Spectator, Nov 27, 1997, p.A2, www.bible.ca/cr-united-Can.htm, 4/16/2001

[29] Moderator’s 80th Anniversary Sermon, “Roses Are Difficult Here,” www.united-church.ca, 7/14/2005

[30] FAITH TALK II: A DRAFT STATEMENT OF FAITH FOR DISCUSSION AND RESPONSE, Committee on Theology and Faith, The United Church of Canada, January 2005.

[31] Response from the Moderator, The Right Rev. Dr. Peter Short,  Letter to the Rev. Dr. Connie denBok et al., dated 10 February 2005, www.united-church.ca/moderator/short/2005/0210.shtm, 4/20/2005

[32] See UCC website for full text, www.united-church.ca.

[33] The NIV Study Bible, 10th Anniversary Edition, Gen. Ed. K. Barker (Grand Rapids, MI: Zondervan, 1995). Used throughout.  Dr. Short, in “Roses Are Difficult Here,” likens the felt absence of God in the UCC to Job’s trials and experiences.

[34] Livingston, J., “Barth, Karl,” Encarta Encyclopedia, July 2005, p.13

[35] Committee on Theology and Faith, The United Church of Canada, FAITH TALK II: A DRAFT STATEMENT OF FAITH FOR DISCUSSION AND RESPONSE, January 2005.

[36] United Church of Canada, News Release “United Church Intervenes in Supreme Court on Same-Sex Marriage,” 6 October 2004, www.united-church.ca, 11/02/05.

[37] Ron Carlson and Ed Decker, Fast Facts on False Teachings (Eugene, Oregon: Harvest House, 1994), p.136.

[38] Richard L. Strauss, Win the Battle for Your Mind (Wheaton, Illinois: Victor Books, 1980), p.10.

[39] Ann Phillips, “Letting Go of Loneliness,” testimony in Portraits of Freedom  by Bob Davies with Lela Gilbert (Downers Grove, Illonois: InterVarsity Press, 2001), pp.24-26.