In this challenging, intellectually rigorous culmination of his body of theological work, retired Episcopal bishop Spong (Jesus for the Non-Religious)
provides a lucid historical analysis of the development of human religious thought from the onset of self-conscious awareness to the present, and a compelling argument for the creation of a new religious paradigm. Offering deeply personal reflections on his own Christian journey and priestly career, Spong reviews a lifetime of passionate engagement with biblical study and with questions of faith, charting his growing discomfort with language that seemed limited, falsifying and inadequate. Arguing that modern scientific understanding necessitates dismissing outdated metaphors and assumptions by which faith seeks to calm human anxiety, Spong suggests an understanding of God not as a person, but as the process that calls personhood into being. Spong's examination of the gospel resurrection accounts includes an intriguing interpretation of John's portrayal of Jesus as a being so courageously present that he was open to the ultimate reality of life, love and being. 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. (Sept.)
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“In Spong’s perpetual quest for truth and knowledge, he has transformed the enigmatic cosmic energy of the ‘big bang’ into an afterglow of human hope for the ages.” (Daniel H. Gregory, M.D., Senior Attending Physician, Bassett Healthcare)
“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)