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Why Christianity Must Change Or Die By Bishop Spong


Guest Michaeljc4
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Guest Michaeljc4

Has anyone read this? I'm interested on hearing thoughts, comments, discussion, dissent, critique, etc. If people want to talk about this book, or Bishop Spong in general, I'd be really interested in hearing about it. I'm logging off my computer and starting to read pg. one right now...

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Has anyone read this? I'm interested on hearing thoughts, comments, discussion, dissent, critique, etc. If people want to talk about this book, or Bishop Spong in general, I'd be really interested in hearing about it. I'm logging off my computer and starting to read pg. one right now...

 

I read that book years ago, but I don't remember much about it. However, I have recently read some other works of Spong's, and I really like his work. His book "Resurrection: Myth or Reality?" is a wonderful book that gave me some important insights in how to view the origins of Christianity and the resurrection experience of Jesus's followers (not as a historical event, but as the experienced presence of Jesus after his death.) I have found his books to be well written and interesting.

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I read Why Christianity must change or die years ago, and agreed with much of what he said.

My favorite two books of Spong's are Here I Stand (his autobiography-really helps to see where he's coming from) and This Hebrew Lord--excellent at imagining the life and times of Jesus and putting us into the situations he faced.

 

Since I don't go to church much any more I can only guess, but it seems to me that Spong underestimated the resistance of the church to change. Also, the book was written before the terrorist attacks, and the subsequent polarizing of this country, the hunkering-down mentality. I don't mean to sound pessimistic. Anyway I really admire what Spong has tried to do to improve social justice, and thought he was an inspired speaker and a likable person when he came here a few years ago.

Edited by rivanna
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Maybe I should add...I don't think the Christian church will ever die. It just seems that Spong's title for that book was a bit extreme-- and the progressive direction he predicted took an unforeseen detour after 9/11. At least that is how I see it.

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Guest Michaeljc4

And also...the Christian Church may be dying in Western Europe, and mainstream Protestant denominations might be hemorrhaging members in the United States, but...evangelical protestantism (especially Pentecostals) are flourishing in the US, as well as in Central and South America. The Catholic Church is rapidly expanding in Africa, and I think Christianity is spreading in Asia as well. So it doesn't appear to me that Christianity must change or die...rather, I think liberal Christianity (or progressive, whichever label floats your boat) is in trouble. Fundamentalism of all religious stripes, as well as conservative branches of the Christian faith, seem to be doing fine.

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And also...the Christian Church may be dying in Western Europe, and mainstream Protestant denominations might be hemorrhaging members in the United States, but...evangelical protestantism (especially Pentecostals) are flourishing in the US, as well as in Central and South America. The Catholic Church is rapidly expanding in Africa, and I think Christianity is spreading in Asia as well. So it doesn't appear to me that Christianity must change or die...rather, I think liberal Christianity (or progressive, whichever label floats your boat) is in trouble. Fundamentalism of all religious stripes, as well as conservative branches of the Christian faith, seem to be doing fine.

I could be wrong, but I believe that one of the points that Spong makes is that mainline Christian denominations are doing poorly not at the expense of conservative churches, but at the expense of unchurched people who can't accept the old paradigm anymore but who would nevertheless interested in a religious affiliation if they could find a home. I believe that the point is that the problem with "liberal" denominations is that they are still largely stuck in an old paradigm that a lot of unchurched people can't accept. A lot of mainline Christianity may not accept all the Bible as being inerant, but they are basically what Borg calls "soft literalists", who still adhere to a literal understanding of many traditional doctrines, what Spong thinks needs to be understood as having mythological rather than literal truth. That means, for example, that while they might accept evolution and thus reject the idea of Genesis as being literal, they will still accept the doctrine of the virgin birth. My guess is that this is what Spong is trying to address.

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Guest Michaeljc4

Well, I finished it! Great book. I found that Bishop Spong put words into many of the things that have troubled me about Christianity...I had many "Ah ha!" moments while reading it. I can't believe this guy wasn't excommunicated or something. According to the author, when you strip away all the "theism," and contextualize the time, culture, language, and point of view of the Gospels' authors, you are left with an image of Jesus who preached radical inclusivity for all people--lepers, prostitutes, Samaritans, Romans, tax collectors, gentiles, etc. All people have the Kingdom of God within them. God is love. Love one another. Abide in love. I would argue that Jesus was talking about a radical type of egalitariansism, too: share what you have with those who do not (which is also love, I guess).

 

Pretty cool.

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... when you strip away all the "theism," and contextualize the time, culture, language, and point of view of the Gospels' authors, you are left with an image of Jesus who preached radical inclusivity for all people--lepers, prostitutes, Samaritans, Romans, tax collectors, gentiles, etc. All people have the Kingdom of God within them. God is love. Love one another. Abide in love. I would argue that Jesus was talking about a radical type of egalitariansism, too: share what you have with those who do not (which is also love, I guess).

 

Pretty cool.

 

Amen.

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