Customer Reviews


173 Reviews
5 star:
 (82)
4 star:
 (27)
3 star:
 (8)
2 star:
 (8)
1 star:
 (48)
 
 
 
 
 
Average Customer Review
Share your thoughts with other customers
Create your own review
 
 

The most helpful favorable review
The most helpful critical review


162 of 181 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars A Seeker.
Well the attacks have begun, a series of one star reviews that do not discuss the books content, but just attack Spong gnerally.

I sat and read ths book in one sitting. Like all of Spongs work it is the work of a seeker. Those who accuse Spong of being dogmatic are simply dishonest. Spong is careful to point out the number of things he doesn't know. This was...
Published on April 15, 2005 by Jason M. Fitzmaurice

versus
9 of 11 people found the following review helpful
3.0 out of 5 stars Equal Opportunity Offender
Years of university level teaching and writing have led to a manuscript that's sometimes tedious to read. That said, Spong's hit on a number of issues that have been bugging me for decades. I'd recommend this book to anyone who's uncomfortable with the way his/her church deals with the topics of the day - i.e. homosexuality, Jew vs Christian, child rearing. In the end, he...
Published on January 4, 2011 by Rodney L Osterloh


‹ Previous | 1 218 | Next ›
Most Helpful First | Newest First

162 of 181 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars A Seeker., April 15, 2005
Well the attacks have begun, a series of one star reviews that do not discuss the books content, but just attack Spong gnerally.

I sat and read ths book in one sitting. Like all of Spongs work it is the work of a seeker. Those who accuse Spong of being dogmatic are simply dishonest. Spong is careful to point out the number of things he doesn't know. This was made clear in his appearance on The O'Reilly Facto this Wednesday. He feels the presence of God, he finds God most clearly in Jesus, and he SEEKS to understand this presence. I don't always agree with him. He is pro-choice, I am pro-life. He is an economic liberal, I am an economic conservative. I do not entirely agree with his linking of fundamentalism to anti environmentalism; however, the important thing is that he is seeking the truth. He acknowledges he has not completely found it, he acknowledges that he never may, and as he often says he has no wish to change anyone's conception of God. He doesn't write for the fundamentalist or the theologically conservative. He writes for thos of us who believe, but can't accept what can be disproven, ie. Virin Birth, miracles, etc.

Like many of us he does not need proof to believe, but he does need something not to be disproven to be believed. If you are interested in looking beyond the literal words of scripture -which are often misleading, contradictory or proveably wrong- to the message and experiences behind it Spong is your man, if not.. then fine. If you are comfortable in your faith than neiher he, nor his supporters are seeking to change your mind.

Oh and as for the review pointing out that he does not engage more conservative believers in debate, rubish. He has held several public debates with scholars of other beliefs. And many more times has chalanged fundamentalist to a debate and been rejected. He once wanted to do a lecture tour with Jerry Fallwell. He said that the two of them discussing the Bible seriously might encourage more people to read it. Fallwell refused as he was afraid such a tour might make Spong more well know. It is the fundamentalists who wil not engage him.
Help other customers find the most helpful reviews 
Was this review helpful to you? Yes No


113 of 127 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Too Much Unfair Criticism, October 3, 2005
By 
I have read this book and others by Bishop Spong. This is the first review I have written on Amazon but felt compelled to write after reading some of the hateful things that have been said about this book and the insults that have been hurled at Bishop Spong. I am reminded of a quote that was attributed to Gandhi. He said, "First they ignore you, then they laugh at you, then they fight you, then you win." Bishop Spong seems to be receiving blows from the "fight you" people now.

Several of the reviewers have called the book hate filled and demonic. I could not disagree more. If someone actually reads the book then it becomes evident that most of the one star reviewers probably didn't read the book and that their critiques are more hate filled than anything that the book remotely contains.

That said, I must praise the book. As Spong often points out in his writings, there is no such thing as liberal or conservative Bible scholarship. There is only responsible and irresponsible Bible scholarship. The truth is under neither conservative or liberal ownership. One need only look up the passages mentioned in this book, review the historical context of the period when the scripture was written, and see how the passages were used centuries later in order to soon realize that this book uses responsible Biblical scholarship.

Contrary to what some reviewers say, this book does not degrade the Bible. This book makes one think about the ways that people through the centuries have far too often misused the Bible for acts that are in direct conflict with Jesus' prime directive to love God and love each other.

This book also makes one ponder issues that are all too often swept under the rug in weekly sermons across the country for fear of "offending" a certain population of "conservative" Christians. It asks serious questions about war, child abuse, homosexuality, birth control, gender roles in the church, the way we have treated the environment, etc. As Bishop Spong pointed out in an essay I read, "Why is it that the churches that have all the answers don't allow any questions?" This book shows that to ask questions and point out mistakes made by mankind's use of the Bible does not degrade the Bible. It only causes us to want to know more and search for understanding that brings us closer to God.

The one star reviewers brought the overall rating of a wonderful book down because of their ultraconservative views and an apparent fear of questioning the Bible. I for one enjoyed the book immensely and am better for it. Just think for yourself and do your own research. An open mind is all Bishop Spong is asking.
Help other customers find the most helpful reviews 
Was this review helpful to you? Yes No


192 of 219 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Many negative reviewers are lying about reading the book, April 20, 2005
By 
Verified Purchase(What's this?)
I got the following Amazon alert: "As someone who has purchased books by John Shelby Spong, you might like to know that "The Sins of Scripture. . . will be released on April 12, 2005." The attacks on this book started getting posted April 13. Somehow, I doubt that these "moral" "Christians" managed to buy the book of a man they despise instantly on release, and read it and digest it in 24 hours or less. Quite apart from the time frame, I doubt any of these people would pay money for this book, and it isn't available in libraries as I write this. Hmmmmm. I only got my copy at a local store last night. I find the book very thoughtful and careful in its analysis. I can find no heresy or "satanism" in Spong's belief that the Christian way should involve compassion for the poor and suffering in this world. What is there to complain about? The quotes he takes are directly from the Bible--he is not misrepresenting anything.

I suppose we ought to thank these people for being so ludicrously obvious about their close-mindedness and dishonesty. If they hadn't jumped the gun, they might have been more able to successfully pretend that they'd actually read what they are condemning.
Help other customers find the most helpful reviews 
Was this review helpful to you? Yes No


381 of 458 people found the following review helpful
4.0 out of 5 stars Another Winning Treatise for Liberal Christianity, April 13, 2005
By 
Mark H. Drought (http://www.geocities.com/markdrought) - See all my reviews
(REAL NAME)   
Once again, Bishop Spong has hit the nail on the head. This book follows in the footsteps of his other notable attacks on Christian fundamentalism to show how a literal interpretation of the Bible, removed from the context in which it was written, can do more harm than good.

Bishop Spong touches on many of the areas in which a fundamentalist reading of the Bible has had adverse effects on mankind as a whole, and on the morality of Christianity in particular. From environmentalism to gay rights, women's rights and respect for human life, Spong relentlessly works his way through the Bible, demonstrating how immoral a person would be if he took seriously the brand of ethics that the Bible in its literal words recommends.

Obviously, the Religious Right will attack this book for its perceived "wishy-washy" brand of Christianity, but his logical progression through the absurdities that fundamentalism foists on believers contains sufficient scholarship to withstand such criticisms. Sadly, Bishop Spong is a voice crying out in the wilderness here, as his brand of Compassionate Christianity is running against the tide of the Taliban-style religion that is ever-increasing in popularity in the United States, just as its cousin, Islamic fundamentalism, is gaining ground in the rest of the world.

His attackers are likely to claim that Spong's writings are an assault on Christianity itself, but this book makes it clear that his objections are not with the spirit of Christianity, but rather with the extemists who've hijacked the religion and turned it into something hateful. I'm afraid Bishop Spong's words will likely go unheeded as harsh literalist religion gains ascension here in America, but this book will be a fitting epitaph for a dying breed of Christianity that will be sorely missed in the future.
Help other customers find the most helpful reviews 
Was this review helpful to you? Yes No


31 of 34 people found the following review helpful
4.0 out of 5 stars Flawed but powerful, May 23, 2006
Retired Episcopalian bishop John Shelby Spong once again takes up the fight against simplistic fundamentalist interpretations of the Bible, examining and deconstructing what he calls its "texts of terror," which are used to marginalize, abuse and exploit women, gays and Jews, among others.

Starting with an account of his "love affair" with the Bible and how his understanding of it evolved, he concludes that as much as he loves it, he cannot believe that it is literally the "Word of God." There is too much in it that is problematic or out-and-out repulsive and he does not accept the pious attempts to explain these parts away. His stated aim, however, is not to destroy but to create, and to go beyond these timebound texts to find the God of love. While he certainly ends up giving an uplifting vision, I am not sure that it is one that will appeal to many people over the traditional one.

Most of the book is devoted to an examination of the "terrible texts," placing them in historical context (often exposing later accretions that have nothing to do with the original meaning), and attempting to show why they are inconsistent with a religion that proclaims a loving God. Spong spends entire sections on the Bible and the environment, women, homosexuality, children (in which he argues against portrayals of God as an "abusive" parent), and anti-Semitism. He also has a chapter on the need for certainty, which he finds damaging and feels needs to give way to a tolerance for ambiguity. The last section, "Reading Scripture as Epic History," is a detailed examination of how the various books of the Bible came to be written. (Speaking of tolerance for ambiguity, I wish that he had been a little less definite in this part and more clear that much of the story he tells is necessarily speculation.

My main difficulty with this book may have something to do with the fact that I come to it as a Jew, and while I believe that Bishop Spong has consciously worked hard (and for the most part successfully) on eliminating any residual anti-Judaism from his fundamentalist upbringing, I still see vestiges of Christian triumphalism and a view of Judaism as somehow inferior and obsolete, although some of that may necessarily follow from the fact that he is speaking to Christians and giving a "Christian" exposition of why certain attitudes are not acceptable. Ironically, I noticed this the most in his section on "The Bible and Anti-Semitism." Writing about the final split between Christianity and Judaism, he says, "Traditional Judaism could not and would not change. Anything that gets so rigid it will not adapt to a new reality will finally die." The last I looked, Judaism was still in existence. On the Jewish attitude to the Hebrew Scriptures: "They invested these scriptures with both absolute authority and literal truth...Nothing more is essential; nothing more is necessary." Has he never heard of the Talmud? Also, Judaism has never read even the Torah, the most sacred of the scriptures, literally in the sense that Christian fundamentalists read both the Old and New Testaments today.

I sincerely doubt that _The Sins of Scripture_ will win over any doctrinaire biblical literalists (of whatever persuasion), but apart from what I must consider to be the glaring weakness detailed above, it may be very useful in showing those who are more open to persuasion that not only do they not have to denigrate others to be "good" Christians, but that such attitudes are directly antithetical to the "abundant life" that Jesus (and the Hebrew Scriptures, in their own way) promise.
Help other customers find the most helpful reviews 
Was this review helpful to you? Yes No


87 of 105 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars "No hate texts in the Bible" -- say what?, May 8, 2005
By 
Jeffrey Carver (Alexandria, VA USA) - See all my reviews
(REAL NAME)   
I grew up a Southern Baptist (not that it matters, but Pat Robertson and I attended the same church, in Lexington, VA). Over fifty years later, I still believe in God as much as I did then. What I stopped believing decades ago, however, is the laughable assertion that the Bible is the "literal Word of God." I don't mean to be disrespectful or dismissive, brothers and sisters, but did God give you functioning brains? Can you not tell the difference between reality and the tribal legends of an ancient people? Contrary to a previous reviewer's truly amazing statement ("There are no Hate texts in the Bible"), it's full of passages that promote hatred: sure, go ahead and hate Jews, hate gays, hate uppity women, hate anyone who belongs to a different tribe or who doesn't believe exactly what you believe, just so long as you're doing it in the name of God. "Grow up, already!" is Bishop Spong's point; use your God-given intelligence to think for yourselves for a change, as opposed to blindly buying into the lock-step, "my way or the highway" ravings of the Falwells, Robertsons, Dobsons, and other would-be Pharisees of a theocratic America. What, indeed, would Jesus do? Ask yourself if Jesus would beat a young gay man senseless and left him to die in the cold. Ask yourself if Jesus would discourage reality-based sex education and opt instead for the head-in-the-sand, abstinence-only version that results in more unwanted pregnancies and sexually-transmitted diseases. And the next time the "fry 'em all and let God sort 'em out" capital punishment loonies start howling at the moon and spouting that truly evil "eye for an eye" Old Testament nonsense that Jesus so emphatically refuted in the New Testament (you might want to look that up when you get tired of cherry-picking Leviticus to find verses to rationalize your prejudices, by the way), try really, really hard to visualize Jesus pulling the switch on an electric chair to fry one of God's children. Too many people who claim to be Christians are missing the forest for the trees: Jesus came to teach love, not to enforce an inflexible legalistic system. The "terrible texts" that Bishop Spong dissects and dismisses as fraudulent are the ones that teach exclusion, hate, and intolerance. His work makes me admire him greatly, but it also makes me sad: sad to think that, two millenia later, there are still so many people who believe that Jesus' message of love is less important than mindlessly adhering to an endless list of "seemed like a good idea at the time" laws set down by people who also believed that the sun revolved around the earth!
Help other customers find the most helpful reviews 
Was this review helpful to you? Yes No


32 of 37 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Spong redux; fine book that restates earlier work too much, November 26, 2005
By 
As with Bishop Spong's previous efforts, "The Sins of Scripture" is a thoughtful, well-documented survey of the ways that the Bible has been used to justify some thoroughly immoral attitudes and behavior. Specifically, the authority of the Bible to underwrite selfish abuse of the environment, the repression of women, the condemnation of homosexuals as somehow subhuman, pious anti-Semitism, the violence meted out to children and to people treated as children, and the destructive divisiveness of creeds are exposed for what they are: an appeal to the authority of God to justify evil. Spong builds his case quite convincingly yet I was left a bit unsatisfied by the book as a whole.

Anyone who has studied the history of Western civilization knows of the appalling "sins" of the Christian establishment. The Bible has been used as a weapon countless times in attempts to destroy freedom of conscience and belief, at the cost of human lives and the aggregate human progress in knowledge. For that matter, anyone who keeps reasonably informed of current events, particularly in the United States, has seen how a certain view of the Bible is used to damage people, to repress scientific inquiry, and to subvert the interests of democracy and freedom. This book serves quite well as an examination of how the message of the Bible has been corrupted, both in its writing and its application, to serve provincial bias and to support otherwise untenable positions.

Thus, to refer to the subtitle of this book, the "Bible's Texts of Hate" have been exposed for what they are: the prejudices of people in a particular place and time, elevated through time and tradition to become, amazingly, the inerrant Word of God. In that effort, Bishop Spong has succeeded admirably. However, I must say that, in my opinion, the book is somewhat disappointing in revealing the "God of Love".

Much of the depiction of the "God of Love" in this book is accomplished by describing what God is not. I was already well convinced of those propositions, even before having read earlier books by this author. Clearly, if God is seen as the creator, the designer, the ground of being in which humans exist, or any other such conception, the idea that somehow God is capable of hating and condemning any portion of humanity is absurd. Equally absurd is the notion that God wishes some part of humanity to hate, abuse or oppress any other part. God is, by definition, the *Higher* Power, and doesn't indulge in the base emotions which would be attributed to God by those ideas. Rather, God calls humanity to "come as [they] are in order to become all [they] can be", to use an apt phrasing from the book (p. 274).

Spong, unfortunately, does too little to describe the "God of Love" affirmatively. It is primarily in the final two sections of the book that this is attempted, and not particularly coherently. As with the book "Rescuing the Bible from Fundamentalism", he has succeeded in exposing the nonsense but stating little of the sense found in the Bible. In chapter 20 of the present book, he asks whether there is any role for Jesus in the new view of reality he has explained, which sees humanity not as "fallen" from some state of grace in the misty past, but rather as an incomplete creation which is growing toward a perhaps impossible perfection. His answer is an endnote which states that he will address the question more completely in his next book, tentatively titled "Jesus for the Nonreligious". I find myself wishing that he had written that book now, since "Sins of Scripture" covers much of the same ground his earlier books had already examined. This book does lay out his thesis somewhat more completely, but it leaves me questioning, as I was when I first opened the book, what can be salvaged from the Bible to further a healthy, humane spiritual growth. Perhaps that is the point; after all, affirmative statements of belief have the disturbing propensity to become creeds, which by their very nature are exclusionary and divisive.

To summarize, this is overall a fine work. Those already familiar with Spong's writings will find it a bit repetitive of previous books; those who are not will find it challenging and illuminating. Being of the former description myself, I wavered a bit over rating the book '5 stars'. After reading other reviews here, many of which gave very low ratings based apparently on either the publisher's blurb rather than actually reading the book and/or the reviewer's own contempt toward anyone who questions dogma, I felt compelled to give an additional star over my initial four simply to help push the average toward a realistic rating.
Help other customers find the most helpful reviews 
Was this review helpful to you? Yes No


59 of 71 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars for the real CHRISTian, April 22, 2005
By 
T Ramirez "bindi" (Missouri, United States) - See all my reviews
It is sad that in this day and age that there are those that use the Bible to spread their hatred of others - and justifies it. We shun this behavior in terrorists, yet practice intolerance with others. Bishop Spong questions the Bible's text in an insightful manner. While in college (at a Catholic university), my theology teacher (a Father who is now with the Bible Institute in Rome, Italy), taught us to question where each religion came from and what sort of environment the authors of the religious texts were in. We all know that Jesus Christ, Lord Buddha, etc did not write the doctrines followed by their respective religions. Their desciples did. We tend to forget that and take these texts literally - when these texts were written at a time where majority of the populous was illiterate - thus ideas had to be given in non-literal ways ... such as narratives.
Help other customers find the most helpful reviews 
Was this review helpful to you? Yes No


58 of 70 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars A Brilliant Counter To Fundamentalism, May 4, 2005
By 
Verified Purchase(What's this?)
The times we live in show a resurrection of great theological debate. Biblical scholarship, with the help of the discovery of ancient texts such as the Dead Sea Scrolls has revealed the great diversity of thought that made up Christianity in the first three centuries after the death of Jesus.

It wasn't until the fourth century and the adoption of Christianity as the state religion of Rome that Christianity went through a period of codification and setting of official dogma. Fundamentalist Christianity today continues the traditions and dogma put in place by politicians and church elders of the fourth and fifth centuries. Beliefs of a different age, and a society much different than our own.

It was then that beliefs became law, for there was no division between church and state...indeed, a heretic in those times was guilty of not only treason against God, but against the state. In this book by John Shelby Spong, he exposes how the Bible has been used to suppress the opposers of the state and its religion.

He tells how the Bible has been used to keep women as second-class citizens, how scripture has been used to justify cruelty and tyranny. His words are the words of a man that has studies the Bible all of his life, given his life to working for God and the followers of Jesus. While many will not agree with him, there is no doubting his scholarship and dedication to Christianity.

It has been said that the days of the prophets are gone. I disagree. John Shelby Spong, Marcus Borg and others are speaking out against the iniquities of ancient biblical thought that continue to be practiced. We need people like them to speak out. There are many that wish to maintain the old thoughts about God and keep people in fear. For those, this book will be a revulsion. For others that look for a different way, this book could be a revelation.

Highly recommended
Help other customers find the most helpful reviews 
Was this review helpful to you? Yes No


81 of 99 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Review of the reviewers ..., May 15, 2005
From the reviews posted about Spong's excellent treatise, several things become apparent about the "1 Star" reviewers. First, they don't appear to have read the book. (One even admits to only browsing it in a bookstore!) Second, their "reviews" are not reviews but simply a re-hash of their own personal beliefs. (Save it for the pulpit.) And, third, if you take a look at the number of people who read their reviews and found them helpful, few people are taking them seriously. I read the book and can see why they may be upset. It takes a lot of contemporary evangelical Christian positions and uses the Holy Bible to destroy their foundations. It is a classic double bind. Leon Festinger (Cognitive Dissonance Theory) would have a field day. All I can say is "Read the book." But, read it side by side with the Bible. Look up the references. Then, take a look at all the hatred in the Christian world. Spong makes a lot of sense.
Help other customers find the most helpful reviews 
Was this review helpful to you? Yes No


‹ Previous | 1 218 | Next ›
Most Helpful First | Newest First

Details

The Sins of Scripture: Exposing the Bible's Texts of Hate to Reveal the God of Love
Used & New from: $0.89
Add to wishlist See buying options
Search these reviews only
Send us feedback How can we make Amazon Customer Reviews better for you? Let us know here.