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AlanW

Re-Claiming The Bible...

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I have read a number of Bishop Spong's books - the most recent being Re-Claiming the Bible. It has helped me a great deal.

 

To demonstarte the work still ahead I have attached a reply to a book review that was published in the official Anglican newspaper (Canada). The letter is from George Sumner (I believe he heads up Wycliffe Colloege in Toronto).

 

I wonder how Bishop Spong would respond to such reviews?

 

AlanLetter-Sumner-Spong002.pdf

Edited by AlanW

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This response to John Shelby Spong is weak and without any real substance. He has to do far better than that. For me it's typically fundamentalist in spirit and attitude. I think the Bishop would simply scrape it off his shoe.

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I agree with others here. It is a petty and cheap potshot, certainly unworthy of someone supposed to be in any kind of leadership role or position, even if at odds with the Bishop's ideas and his book. And whomever wrote it either hasn't bothered to bother to read Bishop Spong or certainly is not well informed about first century gnositicism to even make such a comparison. Maybe both.

 

Jenell

Edited by JenellYB

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Thank you all so much for your thoughts. Not being a biblical scholar I felt somewhat intimidated by the leadership position that the letter writer holds. I felt his letter was shallow and did not address anything of substance that Bishop Spong discusses in this marvelous book. Alan

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I would respond that there is not a new Christianity, but a deeper Christianity. Some Christians fear it because they don't understand it. I feel it is their fear that compells them to give it with labels so they can talk about it with a negative connotation.

 

It I had to label this consciousness I would call it Christian Mysticism. I think it is a deep awareness of our unity with the power of God so we experience a greater good as a result of limiting our negative attitude. This positive awareness applied to specific needs in our daily life changes our circumstances helping us to pass from hardship and desire into a greater freedom than we have ever known. As we enter into a greater consciousness astonishing things happen that we thought were not possible, but we must take an honest look at our negative thoughts and let them go. Having the determination to expand our positive thoughts and take charge of our life will eliminate many problems, negative beliefs and unhappiness. We must have the courage to move forward into the new Christ consciousness where we are free from pain,desire, fear, conflict and worry.

 

I Christianity is about the teachings of Jesus which point to this all pervading pure consciousness of God and not about the history of Jesus. May we all bath in the light of love and happiness that Jesus pointed to.

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I had some very early bad,bad experiences, even one traumatic experience, with deep water when I was a child. For many years, I was terrified, easily panicked, at getting into water even above my waist. OMG! What if I fall down,and can't get backup??!!! What if I step off into an unseen hole on the bottom???!!! Even people splashing water into my face, or others, upset me...if they wouldn't stop, I'd get out of the water. i wouldn't go swimming with them again if I could avoid it . A few, thinking perhaps to 'help' (or really only tobe mean?) tried such means as throwing me into deeper water. It was horrible, i remember that terror, that panic, even feeling unable to breathe. (I would not learn until much later, as an older adult, of my having actually drowned, and 'miraculously' survived, at less than 2 yrs old)

 

I was well into adulthood that left to myself, left alone, without others trying to push me, I over came that.

 

A few times in more recent years, some other has made such comments while swimming, as "and wow, I thought I was a water-baby!" or, "Oh my gosh! How do you DO that???!!!"

 

And I can only smile. Shrug. "just do," is all I can think to say.

 

Maybe that's as good an analogy, or metaphor, as it gets, for those that don't understand. Just leave them alone. They have to, can only, come to it on their own, if ever at all for them. Maybe they feel like I did, when others kept splashing water into my face.

 

jenell

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Well, thick old me. I thought Bishop Spong was uncovering the lingering roots of Gnosticism in current Christian practices. The concept of an evil, suffering filled world created by a mean vengeful God sort of fits quite a bit of Gnostic beliefs. It would not be surprising to me to see Gnosticism lingering - Mediterranean Pantheism is still around plenty. I have plenty of friends who bury a statue of St. Joseph to sell their houses and who pray to St. Anthony to find the car keys, so why wouldn't Gnosticism, which was extremely widespread, leave much in the way of residual traces? The old heresies never completely poof out.

 

Bishop Spong's ideas are cogent and to the right person, like, for instance, me, enlightening. The changes he sees coming to Christianity truly should scare the bejeebers out of establishment types. The more popular Spong gets, the more frothy reviews we will get to read. No one fights harder than the rear guard of a retreating army. Trust me, I'm a Catholic.

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for me, gnosticism is soteriological and infers a transcendent God who sent divine enlightenment into a fallen world. Clearly, this is not at all Jack Spong's focus

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I have plenty of friends who bury a statue of St. Joseph to sell their houses and who pray to St. Anthony to find the car keys, so why wouldn't Gnosticism, which was extremely widespread, leave much in the way of residual traces? The old heresies never completely poof out.

 

 

You can see residue of Gnosticism in fundamentalist Christianity which sees the OT as being inferior to the NT and mostly ignores Jesus' humanity to elavate his divinity much like the Gnositcs scorned the OT as being the product of an evil false god and believed Jesus was purely divine and removed anything human about Jesus. Edited by Neon Genesis

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Allegory in the bible? Jesus a human being who has fully realised his own consciousness? Nothing new in these ideas. Christian Mysticism has been around as long as Christianity and a more general Mystic movement for centuries before that. I believe it is inclusive and open and as such is attractive to the modern mind, which no longer finds relevance in the institutional literal interpetation (generalising) offerred by organised Christianity. As Christians I think the future lies in small groups discussing the story and how THEY intepret it in relation to their personal journey. I think the days of huge buildings filled with people being told what to believe (or else...!) are numbered. Education, freedom of information and the secular shift continues to errode Christian congregations, particularly in the west. As human beings we are naturally inclined to find the meaning in things which means we are naturally spiritual beings. As such I think this sort of shift in thinking, call it Mysticism or Gnosticism if you like, should be encouraged, especially by the church if it wishes to survive. I hope I don't offend anyone because that is not my intention. It's only my opinion and if you ask me in 5 years it may be different!

 

We learn something every day; embrace the change I say!

 

Regards

 

Paul

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