It’s like a breath of fresh air when a person is not defensive about his religious beliefs. Prevailing congregants could seriously benefit from Episcopalian bishop John Shelby Spong’s views on religion, but he is unfortunately now retired.
People don’t need to be born again, they need to grow up. – John Shelby Spong
Spong postulated 12 theses for the reformation of Christianity specifically, but these have unfortunately, but not unsurprisingly been widely criticized:
- Theism, as a way of defining God, is dead. So most theological God-talk is today meaningless. A new way to speak of God must be found.
- Since God can no longer be conceived in theistic terms, it becomes nonsensical to seek to understand Jesus as the incarnation of the theistic deity. So the Christology of the ages is bankrupt.
- The Biblical story of the perfect and finished creation from which human beings fell into sin is pre-Darwinian mythology and post-Darwinian nonsense.
- The virgin birth, understood as literal biology, makes Christ’s divinity, as traditionally understood, impossible.
- The miracle stories of the New Testament can no longer be interpreted in a post-Newtonian world as supernatural events performed by an incarnate deity.
- The view of the cross as the sacrifice for the sins of the world is a barbarian idea based on primitive concepts of God and must be dismissed.
- Resurrection is an action of God. Jesus was raised into the meaning of God. It therefore cannot be a physical resuscitation occurring inside human history.
- The story of the Ascension assumed a three-tiered universe and is therefore not capable of being translated into the concepts of a post-Copernican space age.
- There is no external, objective, revealed standard written in scripture or on tablets of stone that will govern our ethical behavior for all time.
- Prayer cannot be a request made to a theistic deity to act in human history in a particular way.
- The hope for life after death must be separated forever from the behavior control mentality of reward and punishment. The Church must abandon, therefore, its reliance on guilt as a motivator of behavior.
- All human beings bear God’s image and must be respected for what each person is. Therefore, no external description of one’s being, whether based on race, ethnicity, gender or sexual orientation, can properly be used as the basis for either rejection or discrimination.
Now if that’s not reasonable, I don’t know what is. And if religion must needs prevail, Spongism is the way to go…
Spongism won’t convince me of a deity or of a need for religious belief, but maybe that you don’t have to be an atheist to be a good person 😉
Spong has not convinced me that a deity exists. That was not his intention. He’s just trying to show that the fundamentalist approach adopted by most believers is outdated.
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