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Rescuing the Bible from Fundamentalism: A Bishop Rethinks the Meaning of Scripture Paperback – April 10, 1992

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Product Details

  • Paperback: 288 pages
  • Publisher: HarperOne; Reprint edition (April 10, 1992)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 0060675187
  • ISBN-13: 978-0060675189
  • Product Dimensions: 8.2 x 5.5 x 0.9 inches
  • Shipping Weight: 8 ounces (View shipping rates and policies)
  • Average Customer Review: 3.7 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (179 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #56,245 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)

Editorial Reviews


“[Spong is] striving to revive the imaginative possibilities of ancient Scripture for the women and men of today.” (Mirabella)

From the Publisher

By popular demand--study guides to two of Bishop John Shelby Spong's bestselling and controversial works, including questions, reflections, and summaries for group and individual use. --This text refers to an out of print or unavailable edition of this title.

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3.7 out of 5 stars
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Most Helpful Customer Reviews

92 of 100 people found the following review helpful By Bradley Headstone on August 24, 2006
Format: Paperback
It is interesting that many Churches place much emphasis on the strict and literal interpretation of the Bible. Isaac Asimov pointed out that the whole reason Jesus clashed with the Jewish authorities was because while they placed strict emphasis on keeping with the strict letter of the law, Jesus' mentality was that it was alright to deviate from the written law if it meant doing a greater good. EXAMPLE: In the Gospel According to John, a woman is going to be stoned for adultery. "Levitivus" 20:10 and "Deuteronomy" 22:22 clearly state death as the punishment for adultery. And Jesus of course told them anyone who was without sin could begin the execution: "...He that is without sin amongst you, let him first cast a stone at her" (John 8:7). (None of them could.) Paul even warns us about taking the Bible too literally in his 2nd letter to the Corinthians: "...the letter killeth, but the spirit giveth life" (2nd Corinthians 3:6). While Bishop Spong explains that the differences between the 4 Gospels often frustrate people, he explains that it shouldn't. The reason is that the 4 Gospels were written for different audiences. Mark basically wrote his Gospel based on the teachings of Peter. Matthew wrote his Gospel in a way that compared Jesus to Moses. He was writing for the Jewish populations, and he wanted to emphasize that Christianity was the fulfillment of Judaism. Matthew also liked to dramatize things. Luke wrote in a memorable and beautiful way. His goal was to make peace with the Jews who became followers of Christ and the Gentiles who became followers of Christ. John's Gospel is on the hostile side. This is because at the time John wrote, many of the followers of Christ were being expelled from the Jewish places of worship. And John wrote in a hostile manner to show the early Christians that God would not be angry at them for leaving their former places of worship. All in all, this is a great book that belongs in the library of any Christian.
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132 of 156 people found the following review helpful By Bruce Aguilar on April 13, 2002
Format: Paperback
- My purpose in this volume is first to resuce the Bible from the exclusive hands of those who demand that it be literal truth and second to open that sacred story to levels of insight and beauty that, in my experience, literalism has never produced.
- I honor fundamentalism's demand that the Bible be taken seriously.
- To traffic in guilt as the church has done, to take the beauty and life-giving quality of sexual love and distort it with layer after layer of sexual guilt is simply no longer defensible, if it ever was.
- When the love of God is contained inside human barriers, it dies. It ceases to be the demanding, searing, opening love of God. It has become instead the perfume of human respectability, sprinkled on the cesspools of human negativity.
- Religion almost inevitably tries to take our anxiety away from us by claiming that which religion can never deliver - absolute certainty.
These are just a few of the many passages I highlighted when reading this volume. A book that I"m sure to read again and again for a different point of view, one that talks about the Bible not as a devinely inspired, unchanging thing, but as a tome that was written by men of their time trying to convey the deep meaning of the life altering experiences they encountered. A must read for it's measured, thoughtful, direct and stance.
Since reading this book two weeks agao I've been wondering why I hold certain beliefs, pondering new meanings and finding new insights. In short Spong has done something no other Priest or theologian has done for me in a LONG time - he's got me thinking about the Bible and my relation to it on a daily basis.
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180 of 215 people found the following review helpful By A Customer on November 30, 1999
Format: Paperback
This book should be required reading for all seekers of God, particularly those who identify themselves as Christians. I have known for a long time that it was not possible for the Bible to be the "inerrant" work of God. (Anyone who still thinks the Bible is inerrant should be forced to READ every word of it so they know what they are believing.) The Bible when read at face value condones incest (Lot and his daughters) slavery, the denigration of women and a host of other ills our world does not need. RE: Inerrancy--When in history have we ever seen humans interpreting God's word without any mistakes or projecting their own biases? Never--human beings are flawed -- as it was in the beginning, it is now at the dawn of the 21st century. I am very grateful to men like Spong and Bruce Bauer for helping me reclaim the truths I know are in the Bible without the trappings of 1st century ignorance that has long been proved inadequate. The result in my faith is not the collapse of all I used to believe (as the fundamentalists would have us think) but for me, a renewed excitement and celebration of my faith. When I can understand that Paul's views of homosexuality and male supremacy are based on his culture, I am free to release the anger I have felt at him for years for surpressing women and rejoice in his life changing experience with the Living Christ that I can share. The black and white thinking I was taught in the church "Jesus was the son of God, a liar or a maniac" is exactly the kind of craziness that is driving folks from seeking God in our world, and it breaks my heart. I used to be ashamed to call myself a Christian; thanks to the works of Spong and others, I am now reclaiming that word as meaning "a follower of the teachings of Jesus of Nazareth" and I wear it with pride. OUR GOD IS SO MUCH BIGGER THAN WE EVER THOUGHT POSSIBLE! If that's not worth a Hallelujah I don't know what is.
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