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Why Christianity Must Change or Die: A Bishop Speaks to Believers In Exile Paperback – April 21, 1999
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Spong refers to himself as a believer in exile. He believes the world into which Christianity was born was limited and provincial, particularly when viewed from the perspective of the progress in knowledge and technology made over the past two millennia. This makes any ideas or beliefs formulated in 1st-century Judea totally inadequate to our progressive minds and lives today. So Spong is in exile until Christianity is re-formed to discard all of the outdated and, according to Spong, false tenets of Christianity.
He begins his book by exposing the Apostles Creed line by line, then methodically moves on through the heart of Christian belief, carefully exploring each aspect, demonstrating in each case the inadequacies of Christianity as detailed in the Bible and in the traditions of the Church. The epilogue includes Spong's own creed, recast to reflect the beliefs he considers relevant to Christianity at the end of the 20th century.
Oddly enough, Spong's views do not seem particularly new. In fact, his views seem very much in keeping with the religious humanist variety of Unitarianism. What is remarkable is not the beliefs themselves, but that an Episcopal bishop would be the one to embrace and espouse them. Spong has become a trumpeter in the battle of beliefs, not just in the Episcopal communion, but in the realm of Christian faith in general in this country. His books are bestsellers and are in turn, presumably, read by those who, whether they agree or disagree, all acknowledge that in some way, Spong is involved in setting the agenda. This book, as the admitted "summation of his life's work" tells every reader what the complete agenda will be, for the next few years at least. --Patricia Klein --This text refers to an out of print or unavailable edition of this title.
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Top Customer Reviews
For those espousing Biblical literalism and fundamentalism, this book will read like utter heresy. For the true atheist, perhaps, it will seem like goody-goody wishful thinking. Yet, throughout it all, Spong clings to the notion that God is Love, God is Life, God as the ultimate Source of All, and urges people, Christians or not, to examine their beliefs and enter into discussion and dialogue about what Christianity and religion mean in the world today, and for the next millennium. Even when I disagree with Bishop Spong's conclusions, he makes me reevaluate my own faith, and thus both stimulates and refreshes it. I am grateful for this book, even as it disturbs me.
If the critic goes back and READS the book, he or she will soon catch on that Spong is not attacking historic Christianity...but is questioning its cliches. He is, in a sense, nailing his own Theses on the Cathedral door for DISCUSSION, not slavish acceptance.
I have disagreed with Jack Spong on much, if not most of what he has written over the years. He has always made me think, often gets by blood pressure up a bit (but rarely as much as most of those Christian authors we find on the shelves in the local "Bible Bookstore" who haven't printed a new idea in decades, but still manage pump out their quick reading, simplistic, royalty grabbing tomes).
I have no doubt of Spong's individual and unique relationship with Christ. I have no doubt as to his compassion, and desire to work with the tough questions so that the Christian life NEVER fears to ask, and attempt to answer ANY question. Good man, good book. Read carefully, thoughtfully and prayerfully!
No, Spong doesn't really provide *answers*--but I think that's the point. So often people who question are told, basically, to shut up and believe because shutting up and believing is what faith is all about. Spong replies that questioning and reformulating is healthy. I agree with him wholeheartedly that unless Christianity wakes up and starts reexamining itself, it is going to die. Thinking people will dismiss it as a useless relic because it will be so inadequate for their everyday lives. It's happening that way now.
I highly recommend that anybody with any spiritual life whatsoever read this book! It is extremely thought-provoking (which is probably why the fundies can't stand it), and no matter what belief system you arrive at, you need to arrive there informed.
Spong encourages those of us just starting down the path to go to the next level. He lets us know that it ok to use our God given power of reason to question everything and anything that the church traditionally teaches. He provides historical context to show us where the current teachings came from, then presents alternative views. Some point out that his teachings are really not that new - and they may be right for those well read on liberal "theology" - but they were new and refreshing ideas to me.
An example of how he takes it to the next level: I have long ago dismissed the idea of a theistic God sitting like a king in heaven somewhere. But still the church teaches the doctrine of Trinity as a core concept that must not be questioned. But as Spong points out - of what good is the concept is God in "3 persons" once you have discarded the idea of God as a personal being.
What of virgin births and physical resurrections from the dead?Read more ›
Most Recent Customer Reviews
Retired bishop sponge from newark, NJ is one of the worlds leading biblical scholars and a true advocate for peace and ecumenism. Read morePublished 16 days ago by AMA
Bishop Spong's addresses the basic tenets of Christianity in a thoughtful and transparent manner. The book offers hope for believers who hold onto the reality of God but have... Read morePublished 22 days ago by Amazon Customer
I ordered this as a gift because I have already read it and many other of Spong's books. He is a superb author who tells things in such a way that the average person can... Read morePublished 1 month ago by A. Braswell
Readers of the Bible understand that there has certainly been a change in world views since the writings of the Old and New Testaments were first written. Read morePublished 2 months ago by Bob McCullough
Spong is always an interesting read but he tends to "throw out the baby with the bathwater". As always, he does help to introduce new thoughts and stuff to chew on.Published 3 months ago by O. W. Bartland
The most remarkable thing about this book is that an Episcopalian Bishop wrote it. Neither the ideas nor the (constructive) criticism are radical by today’s standard, only that... Read morePublished 6 months ago by David Lewis
This is not a book for the close-minded fundamentalists. A thoughtful read for those who want something more out of religion.Published 8 months ago by Beverly L. Zachry