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Rescuing The Bible... Spong


des
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I've really enjoyed this book and the attempt that it makes to include some serious Bible scholarship. Things I esp. like are his attempts to describe who the various Gospel writers were, who their audiences were, that sort of thing. Anybody know of a book that is more serious (less opinionated) but still approachable, like Spong is.

 

BTW, I hope Spong writes his views on the Rapture.

 

 

--des

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Spong is great. I have read all of his books and can’t wait for his next one, coming out in April I think (Sin’s of Scripture). However, I think that he goes in and say’s, ‘well what you thought was wrong, and this is what is right.’ I don’t like that so much. I have also felt that he would destroy some old feeling about the Bible or the Church, but never really offer anything that is remotely uplifting.

Marcus Borg on the other hand. Now if you want to read a book on the bible, or hell anything that is Christian, Borg is the man. His style is usually not coming from the desire to destroy old thoughts about the Bible, but rather to just offer something new. I find his writing very fresh and meaningful. I have become much closer to God reading both Spong and Borg.

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  • 2 months later...
Reading the Bible Again For the First Time, by Marcus Borg

 

The Good Book: Reading the Bible with Mind and Heart, Peter Gomes

Both of these are excellent. I'm reading Mr Gomes's book at the moment, and while I can't comment on that specific book, I highly recommend any Progressive Christian read all of Borg's books, which I consider to be excellent, and very insightful.

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Spong is great.  I have read all of his books and can’t wait for his next one, coming out in April I think (Sin’s of Scripture).  However, I think that he goes in and say’s, ‘well what you thought was wrong, and this is what is right.’  I don’t like that so much.  I have also felt that he would destroy some old feeling about the Bible or the Church, but never really offer anything that is remotely uplifting.

Marcus Borg on the other hand.  Now if you want to read a book on the bible, or hell anything that is Christian, Borg is the man.  His style is usually not coming from the desire to destroy old thoughts about the Bible, but rather to just offer something new.  I find his writing very fresh and meaningful.  I have become much closer to God reading both Spong and Borg.

 

 

I agree about Borg. His books have really spoken to me. Spong leaves me cold. I get the feeling that he is proposing a new orthodoxy, where as I feel we need a heterodoxy.

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I personally preffer Borg over Spong, although I've read more of Borg's books than Spong's, so I guess I'm a little biased. Spong just comes off to me as more confrontationary than Borg, more like an immature preschooler that feels he has to be right, than someone who is able to rationalise and see the good in both views, which is what I see Borg doing.

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I personally preffer Borg over Spong, although I've read more of Borg's books than Spong's, so I guess I'm a little biased. Spong just comes off to me as more confrontationary than Borg, more like an immature preschooler that feels he has to be right, than someone who is able to rationalise and see the good in both views, which is what I see Borg doing.

Exactly. Spong practically foams at the mouth in his virulent rejection of anything remotely orthodox. I think they both ultimately fail to offer a constructive enough alternative, but then I can't expect them to agree with me down the line either. I'll make my case someday. :)

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The very first book I ever read by a progressive was Living in Sin, so I guess I owe my release from Fundamentalism, or whatever I thought, to Spong.

 

That said, I always felt that he gave me no hope for the future of my faith or my Church. Like someone else said, I felt cold. I must say though, when you finally realize that there is something else out there it is hard not to just wish to tear down all the old junk and start new, or at least back at the beginning.

 

But, for a Bishop especially, Spong should have a more pastoral character to him. That is where I find Borg. Borg, to me, has seemed to lift me out of my despair that Spong led me to. I guess it was like Spong led me out into the wilderness and then Borg showed me the way back. I needed both.

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I definitely agree, Steve. There are uses to books written by Spong (and another one called "Saving Jesus" by Bauer). They are angry books in a way (esp. Bauer's), but imo they are a good antedote for fundamentalism. But if you stay in angry mode, then, I think, you don't get anywhere. You might stop believing one thing but you don't get into standing for anything. Progressivism is way more than being *against* something. (I think Spong got that most right in his book on Resurrection btw).

 

 

--des

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As I mention on another thread, Robinson's book on the bible covers some of the same issues from a readable and scholarly basis (plus much more ground).

 

I enjoy reading some of Spong's ideas and look forward to reading his Liberating the Gospel's (looks at them from a Mishrashic perspective). My criticism of Spong as mentioned above is his smugness (sort of you poor deceived fools attitude). He is given to hyperbole. If you were someone without much familiarity with biblical issues you might well buy the hyperbole but any Southern Baptist who has attended bible study for any time can drive a truck through some of the holes in his arguments (eg women at the tomb controvery) or his "No credible scholar still asserts xyz". The other thing is that in some of his commentary he frankly....whines about how misunderstood he is and how people attack him. Let me get this straight....you propose giving up the tradtional view of diety and adopt something more akin to Fox's pantheistic theory and you are surprised. Huh... Also evidentally surprised that other Christians can act uncharitably because he complains in a whiny way about that...huh. Mind you he himself notes that Falwell refused to continue debates with him and said frankly Falwell was not up to the task. That does not strike me as too charitable either even if it was true (Falwell does not have the theological education that Spong has).

 

Someone mentioned Gomes, also a good read. Also enjoy Borg and Crossan.

 

North

Edited by North
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If you were someone without much familiarity with biblical issues you might well buy the hyperbole but any Southern Baptist who has attended bible study for any time can drive a truck through some of the holes in his arguments (eg women at the tomb controvery) or his "No credible scholar still asserts xyz".

 

Actually, that's what I used to think too, and then I did more research into biblical scholarship and discovered the extent to which that was true.

 

In fact, when I first came across this book, I was in my own "fundamentalist" phase. It was quite the shock. Borg didn't help matters much for me. But, being the curious one that I am, I sought to understand why these people were saying what they did. The two of them were instrumental in that part of my own faith journey, and I largely credit them for forcing me into deep introspection that has brought significant transformation in my own life, the like of which sometimes have to come about through hearing hard to handle truth.

 

While sometimes I think Spong is a bit over the top in his pronouncements, it seems that there is a distinct reason for it. When speaking out on behalf of those who have been damaged emotionally (or even physically) as a result of a supposedly "religious" way of being, then you don't bring an end to the cycle of violence by saying "pretty please...with sugar on top?" As one who encountered him while going through my own fundamentalist phase, his assertions forced me to consider how I was a part of the system of violence, and to what degree that participation could really be considered "divine."

 

I'd summarize his attempt at shocking us into divine truth this way: religious violence never has been and never will be holy; it is always evil.

 

Admittedly, this is a very difficult lesson for those immersed in institutionalized systems whose authority is based on fear, domination, and shame...most especially when "holy writ" seems to authenticate such a reality. Sometimes its just too hard to see out of our own boxes.

 

I would suggest two books from him as back to back reading. First, Why Christianity Must Change or Die, because it is intended to critique the dominant Christian tradition. Second, A New Christianity for a New World, because it is an attempt to proposing a new vision of what could be. They go together quite well.

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If you were someone without much familiarity with biblical issues you might well buy the hyperbole but any Southern Baptist who has attended bible study for any time can drive a truck through some of the holes in his arguments (eg women at the tomb controvery) or his "No credible scholar still asserts xyz".

 

Actually, that's what I used to think too, and then I did more research into biblical scholarship and discovered the extent to which that was true.

 

 

Thank you for sharing your thoughts and recommendations. I agree that there are many who have been damaged by fundamantalist theology. I also agree about the thought provoking nature of Spong's writings. That is why I have some of his books on my "to read list". My concern with his writings is the mix of thought generating scholarship with nonsense. He interjects unscholarly hyperbole by making non defensible statements (the I know of no credible scholar rubbish). Or doing what he seems to feel are dropping astounding claims (like the women at the tomb issue). Those evoked a smile and a yawn. I know of Southern Baptists with no formal theological training who have been involved in Sunday school who could successfully answer those claims (to quote Limbaugh -Es tut mir leid) with half a brain tied behind their back. On another board someone mentioned an author who referred to Spong as amateur night.

 

You are correct that misconceptions about religion put into practice have harmed many. Charismatics with their "you are sick because you do not have enough faith" or fundamentalists with graceless Christianity (recommend Yancey or Swindoll's books on Grace for anti fundamentalist look) have hurt and confused many. Since this is about books I might add here that I enjoy Kushner's books because they address these issues and understanding faith and life issues.

 

North

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Well, North, I don't know how he does actually arguing or debating theology, as I haven't heard him. (I tend to think of such discussions as a little meaningless anyway--

"what I believe is right." "NO, what I believe is right.")

 

But I do agree with XC about Spong for someone who has been hurt by fundamentalist attitudes (I also like Bauer's Stealing Jesus, as I said, also a worthwhile viewpt.). I think it is like the first therapy for post traumatic stress. You get to rail against it for awhile. It is useful. But after a certain pt, I think you have learn to let go, decide what you actually believe instead of what you don't believe.

 

 

--des

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