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Eternal Life: A New Vision: Beyond Religion, Beyond Theism, Beyond Heaven and Hell Paperback – October 5, 2010
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From Publishers Weekly
Copyright © Reed Business Information, a division of Reed Elsevier Inc. All rights reserved. --This text refers to an out of print or unavailable edition of this title.
“Fear of death is the most fundamental fear of human existence. The only way it can be conquered is through knowledge and experience of your eternal being. Eternal Life: A New Vision is elegant invitation to find this part of yourself and be liberated.” (Deepak Chopra, author of The Third Jesus)
“His courage, candor and intense awareness are unique gifts to people both inside and outside Christianity at this critical time in human and planetary history.” (Matthew Fox, author of Original Blessing)
“This work, bound to be influential, offers new insights into religion’s big questions about life and death, making an invaluable contribution to both religious scholarship and faithful exploration.” (Publishers Weekly)
“Spong has spent his life and work making sense of this most fundamental human issue . . . His fans will find this spiritual autobiography fascinating, but so, too, should anyone interested in the still uncomfortable topics of death and mortality.” (Booklist)
“With subtlety and complexity, Spong promotes an idea of an ongoing existence beyond our physicality, one that entirely supercedes “religious” notions of Heaven or Hell and even conventional notions of God . . . Spong’s writing here as elsewhere is intelligent, engaged, comforting, and uplifting. ” (Library Journal)
“Spong once again puts his intellectual money on common sense . . . Religion’s purpose, he claims, is “security, not Truth” - a key insight that demands, in turn, a set of wholly new visions. . . . Spong . . . [is] a unique visionary.” (St. Louis Post-Dispatch)
“John Shelby Spong, the reinterpreter of Christianity for the doubtful, retired as the Episcopal bishop of New Jersey in 2001 but not from his religious provocations. . . . People have to get beyond the idea of God as a heavenly judge who hands out rewards and punishment,.” (Atlanta Journal-Constitution)
“Eternal Life: A New Vision doesn’t actually give us a clear vision of eternal life at all. Spong would never do that.... Instead he frees us to dream a dream of what life, eternal or otherwise, might be.” (Central Coast Express)
“Spong invites us to engage the questions, to revel in the mystery, and finally to find our place within God’s place, our time within God’s time, and our life within God’s life.” (Anglican and Episcopal History)
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Top Customer Reviews
The very cool thing about Spong's books is that they track his own personal growth in knowledge and, dare I say, enlightenment (for lack of a better term). This gives his books a personal touch which, for me, allows me to see the depth dimension of his being - something which many authors keep well hidden. Recent books by folks like Elaine Pagels (Beyond Belief) and Bart Ehrman (Misquoting Jesus) reveal the personal spiritual sides of the authors and I appreciate that greatly. It's not like you're reading some dispassionate objective dissertation - it makes the material live and breathe.
With that as background, if you're still reading, here's the review:
In his latest book, Eternal Life: A New Vision, Jack Spong's life work dedicated to finding meaning in the Christian tradition blossoms fully and completely by transcending it (but not abandoning it). In some of his early books, he shows the flaws apparent (should I say "obvious") in human-made Christian institutions and doctrine, yet, offers little to give us hope or meaning in their absence.Read more ›
I confess that I have been puzzled by Spong's repeated definition of God as "the source of life, the source of love, and 'the ground of all being,' which he adopted from his spiritual guide, Paul Tillich. I had hoped that this book would shed further light on this definition. Here, Spong finally reveals that he is a mystic, and that this hallowed tradition of mysticism has seen God through inner experience, not external revelation. He asserts that God is not the theistic, creative, all-controlling deity of the Bible, but rather a divine aspect of our own nature as human beings. Jesus, he says, was fully human, and did not come down to earth as an incarnate God to "save" humankind from original sin (which does not exist, because of evolution). Spong disavows all the miraculous and supernatural explanations of God and Jesus, and believes that the Gospel writers were not trying to be literal in their descriptions of the life of
Jesus. Instead, they were explaining in their limited vocabulary the God-experience like-minded people saw in Jesus.
Spong's main thesis is that human self-consciousness, superseding the consciousness of other animals, left us with fear and anxiety when it was experienced by early man.Read more ›
This latest--and last--book by Bishop John Shelby Spong is difficult to review in some ways; it is not easily characterized by simple technical questions about scripture or Biblical interpretation. Rather, "Eternal Life" covers the biggest and toughest of questions.
A few relevant disclaimers: 1) This reviewer is a non-theist, and no longer believes in god. 2) Many skeptics and non-believers break ranks with Spong insofar as he persists in using "God language" like "salvation," "eternal," and "redemption". Such breaks are evidenced by the Bishop's participation in some formal debates with atheists. Still, it seems that if we discard our symbols and metaphors we might arguably just as well discard all attempts at articulating the human experience--including art, myth, literature, and all of language. As Spong frequently points out, language is but symbol. It is therefore worth pointing out that the naturalist, skeptical, and materialist reader may want to be patient with Spong's use of loaded symbolic terms.Read more ›
Most Recent Customer Reviews
I know Bishop Spong from his lectures, weekly blogs, and from other books in addition to Eternal Life: A New Vision. Read morePublished 6 days ago by Robert D. Goldbach
This is a perfect read for anyone who is mortal!!! I would also highly recommend reading "Being Mortal" by Atul Gawande as a partner to Eternal Life. Read morePublished 2 months ago by Silly Mimi
A bit verbose but very enjoyable overview of a post-formal religion idea of belief.Published 2 months ago by Jeff Williams
Spong's best, I think. He writes his spiritual autobiography. I'll be reading this again, along with The Fourth Gospel. Read morePublished 3 months ago by Gerald B.
Provocative. Tests one's faith. As usual, Spong is brilliant, brave and a man of great faith.Published 4 months ago by Amazon Customer
This work, envisioned as a last work, though thankfully it was not, falls into two main sections. The first part is chiefly recollection and reflections on a life well-lived. Read morePublished 5 months ago by Stephen Braun