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140 of 161 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Spong deserves accolades., October 19, 2002
This review is from: A New Christianity for a New World: Why Traditional Faith is Dying & How a New Faith is Being Born (Paperback)
John Shelby Spong does not believe in a Theistic God and he states so forcefully; "Theism is dead, I joyfully proclaim." THEISM as Bishop Spong defines it, is "a being, supernatural in power, dwelling outside this world and invading the world periodically to accomplish the divine will".
Yet, Spong admits, "Christianity postulates a theistic God who does supernatural things". Christianity is about God invading the world through Jesus Christ. Christianity is, and has been for 2000 years (give or take), "Emmanuel" - God with us, visibly and dramatically. "Christianity is a THEISTIC religion" said Dr. Sally McFague (Professor of Theology -Vanderbilt Divinity School - author of the pensive and provocative book, 'Life Abundant' - envisioning Christianity for the new century - see my review).
Therein lies the rub. Allow me to digress. A man had a Honda Civic that needed the engine overhauled. He decided to 'radically' change the car and make it a quarter-mile race car. He pulled out the engine and transmission, threw out the brakes, replaced the tires and the suspension. He gutted the interior completely (graciously keeping the windshield and wipers). He then cut away parts of the body to accommodate the new parts and welded the doors shut. He put in a high performance, 400 horsepower engine and modified what was left of the car so that it could reach speeds in excess of 110 mph in 9 seconds. Now, with a great stretch of the imagination you could say this man still had a Honda Civic, but, in reality, he had created a new vehicle.
This book is not a "radically, reformed" car, so to speak, it is a completely different car. Bishop Spong has taken a blow torch and sliced out the parts of Christianity that he no longer believes in or adheres to.
He has not "radically reformed Christianity" he has created a new belief system.
For Spong; God is not a supernatural being, Jesus is not the earthly incarnation of God, the Bible is not the "Word of God", the supernatural miracles of Jesus did not happen and Jesus was not resurrected, nor did he return to God. God, incarnation, atonement, Trinity, miracles, 'Christian' morals, and the Church as it exists today are all replaced. What the title of this book should be, is, "A New Religion for a New World", for that is what Bishop Spong is giving us. T\
This is not to say that he does not have something to say. He does and he says it well.
Bishops Spong radically questions the basic assumptions of conventional Christian theology and attacks the paradigms that ecclesiastical hierarchy find convenient. He rejects: Theism's tribal theology, bibliolatry, Jesusolatry, and Christianity as an exclusive pathway to God. His "beyond theism" theology demands that we stand and embrace our own humanity, not with shame or the stigma of sin, but recognizing that we are unique and full of potential. That we can, without an "eternal and omnipotent protector" and live fully, love fully and be all that we can be.
The God that Spong embraces is "not a being but BEING itself. This God is the source of life, the source of love, the Ground of Being." For Spong God is beyond any limits of our religious systems. God is no longer a being 'external' to life, but the very BEING of life itself. He says, "I have walked beyond theism, but not beyond God". He forewarns that to separate yourself from the belief of a theistic God is painful. Those that do will have to stand without magic or miracles. He writes, "we make no attempt to suggest that life is fair or to defend the theistic deity when life is harsh. We do not cultivate a false security."
Bishop Spong deserves the accolade given to those who push out the boundaries of any rigid system. Especially in religion, those that hold controversial opinions and especially dissenters like Spong, who publicly depart from the officially accepted dogma, are marginalized and labeled. Spong has paid the price of apostasy in his search for truth, life, love and God. This book is required reading for all those searching for the same. Highly recommended
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Showing 1-1 of 1 posts in this discussion
Initial post: Jun 6, 2007 4:37:48 PM PDT
J. Conlon says:
Having read other books by Spong I was curious to read others' comments. These are very thoughtful and insightful comments. Thank you.
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