Spong is wrong

circle-slash.jpgI know that picking on “Bishop” John Shelby Spong’s theology is like shooting fish in a theological barrel, but he is still taken seriously in some Christian circles.  I put his title in scare quotes because he mocks the essentials of the faith and uses his position to spread un-Christian views.

He issued a call for a New Reformation (Oh, Luther would be so proud!).

#6 alone should garner him an ejector seat from the church (“The view of the cross as the sacrifice for the sins of the world is a barbarian idea based on primitive concepts of God and must be dismissed.”)

His list of 12 items he manages to deny many essentials of the faith and other important issues:

  • The atonement
  • The deity of Christ
  • Biblical authority
  • The exclusivity of Christ
  • Miracles, including the virgin birth
  • The physical resurrection
  • Original sin
  • Sanctity of marriage and heterosexual behavior
  • The Bible as a guide to ethical behavior
  • More!

Why anyone would consider him a Christian is beyond me.  He doesn’t just believe a little differently from orthodox Christianity on the essentials, he teaches the opposite.  He literally and figuratively mocks the cross and the blood of the martyrs.

He appears to be making up his own god.  Richard Dawkins and Sam Harris have equally (un)charitable views towards the faith, but at least they are honest enough to call themselves atheists.

I’m not saying that 100% of pro-legalized-abortion and pro-“same-sex-marriage” proponents are heretics like Spong, but I do see a remarkable correlation of their views with his. 

But I do have to give Spong credit on one point.  Even though he denies the authority of the Bible at every turn, he at least concedes this:

“The Bible can certainly be read as condemnatory of homosexual practice. Both sides admit that.”

Well, Mr. Spong, both sides should admit that.  But parts of your side deny the obvious. 

I appreciate his concession, though, because that makes the conversation more productive.  We agree on what the Bible says on this matter, but we don’t agree on whether Christians should consider the Bible to be authoritative.  That is a far more honest conversation.

Interestingly, he appears to understand what the Bible says.  He just doesn’t like what it says, so he is trying to create a new religion.  That is his prerogative and I fully support his religious and political freedom to do so. 

I just think it would be more intellectually honest if he would take off his collar and renounce his title while doing so. 

57 thoughts on “Spong is wrong”

  1. I’d remind you of the Paul’s Word to Timothy, Neil:

    “Don’t have anything to do with foolish and stupid arguments, because you know they produce quarrels. And the Lord’s servant must not quarrel; instead, he must be kind to everyone, able to teach, not resentful.”

    If you disagree with my statement that the Bible nor God never calls the 66 books of the Bible “God’s Word” then make your case. Show us where it says that or hints at it, even. But quit the demonization. Teach, don’t argue. Don’t belittle. Don’t accuse. Just teach.

    Or not.

    As I’ve stated repeated, I think the 66 books of the Bible are a revelation of God’s Word. Not God’s WHOLE Word, but useful for teaching us of God. And I DO love the Bible. Believe it or not.


  2. “If God is not the ultimate author, then man is. Man is fallible, God is not. There is really no middle ground. Either the ultimate source is God securing the Bible’s accuracy and authority, or the ultimate source is man ensuring nothing.”

    I almost agree with this. But there IS a middle ground: It’s fallible men, inspired by God, writing faithfully of their experiences WITH God. I trust God. I trust the honor and intention of those fallible men of the early church, but much less so. Their testimony, however, is almost all we have. Since I don’t need the kind of certainty of FACT that shows up around here pretending to be FAITH, my faith is not shaken by the fallibility of the men who wrote Scripture.


  3. No one here who believes in the infallibility of the Bible is shaken by the belief that it is errant. That faith is quite intact and depended upon.
    Those who believe that it is errant aren’t just arguing against us, but against Jesus Himself ultimately. That’s one debate they can not win. If someone has issues with the Bible, they need to take it up with the Author, since nothing Neil, Bubba, WOZ, and Timothy, Mom2 and others say will convice them.


  4. “As I’ve stated repeated, I think the 66 books of the Bible are a revelation of God’s Word. Not God’s WHOLE Word, but useful for teaching us of God. And I DO love the Bible. Believe it or not.”

    Hey Dan, this doesn’t quite address what you said earlier. In response to what someone said “If God, the Creator of the Universe says the Bible is His word, he is not lying, kidding, or even mistaken. Take it as fact.”

    You said,
    “This is an adding to of God’s Word. God never called the 66 books of the Bible “his word.” Y’all are making extrabiblical assumptions and then demanding that others do the same to be Christian. That, too, is extrabiblical and not sound doctrine.”

    I’m a bit confused. It seems that you believe that the canon may possibly be incomplete, based on the first quoted statement, but you seem to think that what is currently in the canon is correct. However, your last statement seems to say otherwise, where you say the books currently in the canon may not necesarily belong there.

    I’m not trying to trip you up or point out inconsistencies, I just don’t quite understand your viewpoint of the Bible. At first you say what we consider the Bible may not necessarily be accurate, but then it seems you say it is accurate, only incomplete.


  5. Chance said:

    At first you say what we consider the Bible may not necessarily be accurate, but then it seems you say it is accurate, only incomplete.

    God bless you, Chance, for your even-handed and fair questioning of my positions.

    But I have not said that the Bible is inaccurate, nor have I said it is incomplete.

    I HAVE said that reading every passage literally will lead to an inaccurate representation of God. If you read the genocidal passages or kidnap passages literally, you have a god that commands atrocities.

    As to the incomplete, thing, God’s Word – as in every Word that comes out of the Mouth of God – is complete. But the Bible is not – and no where avows itself to be – every word that comes out of the mouth of God. Rather, the Bible affirms “scripture” as God-breathed and useful for teaching and rebuke.

    I believe what the Bible says literally right there. The scriptures are useful for that. They are God-breathed and useful for teaching. But no where does the Bible say that every word in the 66 books of the Bible must be literally taken or assumed to be “inerrant.” So, since the Bible doesn’t tell us that, I don’t assume that to be the case.

    It’s funny, if you think about it. I’m suggesting that a literal reading of the Bible recommends against a literal reading of the Bible. And when it comes to “essentials” of the faith, I AM pretty much a literalist – opposed to adding hoops through which to jump that simply aren’t in the Bible.

    It’s not unlike the Pharisees who, as I’ve noted, were interested in getting back to the essentials, but they weren’t content with the essentials as defined in Scriptures. They added and expounded, “When it says, “don’t work on the Sabbath,’ it means X, Y and Z…AND if you don’t believe X, Y and Z, you are an accursed sinner and doomed!”

    Very much like many christian fundamentalists of today.


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