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A New Christianity for a New World: Why Traditional Faith is Dying and How a New Faith is Being Born Paperback – 13 Feb 2003


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A New Christianity for a New World: Why Traditional Faith is Dying and How a New Faith is Being Born + Why Christianity Must Change or Die: A Bishop Speaks to Believers In Exile + Liberating the Gospels: Reading the Bible with Jewish Eyes
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Product details

  • Paperback: 304 pages
  • Publisher: HarperCollins; 1 Reprint edition (13 Feb. 2003)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 0060670630
  • ISBN-13: 978-0060670634
  • Product Dimensions: 13.5 x 1.7 x 20.3 cm
  • Average Customer Review: 4.1 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (7 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Bestsellers Rank: 465,513 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)

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Review

In this brave and important book, Bishop Spong continues his life-long quest for a living faith and church worthy of the Christ in whom we can find God in our time. His call for a new reformation is honest, deep, provocative, and needed--one hopes there are those with ears to hear. --Matthew Fox, author of Original Blessings and One River, Many Wells

About the Author

John Shelby Spong was the Episcopal bishop of Newark before his retirement in 2000. As a leading spokesperson for an open, scholarly, and progressive Christianity, Bishop Spong has taught at Harvard and at the Graduate Theological Union in Berkeley, California. He has also lectured at universities, conference centers, and churches in North America, Europe, Asia, and the South Pacific. His books include: A New Christianity for a New World, Rescuing the Bible from Fundamentalism, Resurrection: Myth or Reality? Why Christianity Must Change or Die, and his autobiography, Here I Stand.

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51 of 53 people found the following review helpful By Peter Kenney on 31 Jan. 2003
Format: Paperback
A NEW CHRISTIANITY FOR A NEW WORLD represents the latest stage in the author's rapidly evolving vision of the future of Christianity. Spong begins by stating that theism is dead. God is not a supernatural being who can or does periodically intervene in the world. Our modern view of the natural order suggests that this is not possible.
Spong explains that theism was born in the beginning of civilization when people first experienced feeling unsafe and alone. Theism developed as a coping mechanism against trauma.
The author asserts that the theistic interpretation of Jesus was only added in the later Christian writings. Spong does not believe in much of the traditional Christian story. He does not believe in the virgin birth of Jesus or the idea that Jesus founded either a church or its sacraments. He says he does not have a problem with the faith - only with the literal way it is interpreted and described by some others.
Spong sees a need for a new faith that is not subject to the death of theism. God is real even though theism is dead. Can Christianity still live after theism is dead? It will, according to the author, if we are willing to move beyond our traditional ideas of Jesus.
Spong sees God as the source of all life, love and being. He views the church of the future as a place where worshipers will still seek the Holy and the Realm of God. They will search for an environment which allows them to increase their capabilities to love and embrace life to the fullest.
God is real and Jesus is the doorway into this reality. Spong still considers himself to be a Christian and he remains optimistic about the future. He is not sure where his new reformation will ultimately lead us but he is convinced we have to take the first step. If we do nothing, Spong believes that Christianity will surely die anyway.
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4 of 4 people found the following review helpful By calmly on 19 Feb. 2008
Format: Paperback
Writing 2 years after exploring a non-theistic Christianity in Why Christianity Must Change or Die: A Bishop Speaks to Believers In Exile, Bishop Spong seems to have little to add to that work. An opportunity, perhaps, to re-state where he had come to in his thinking. A good chapter on the role theism had played historically in helping humankind deal with the trauma of self-consciousness and a challenge to any emergent Christianity that it be able to help us counter the hysteria that seems to be emerging due to the dying of theism. But little theological advance in this book and one wonders if one would do better to turn to Tillich, however less accessible he might be, or to Bonhoeffer. Is knowing God as "the Ground of All Being" adequate to sustain one? Is meeting Jesus as the Gospel writers presented him adequate to inspire? Spong seems unsure just what form any "New Christianity" will take although he seems to know what forms it should not take. Although committed still to his image of Jesus, he does not even seem certain whether Christianity will survive as a viable religion for those believers in exile he has sought to reach. Given that, it seem s surprising that he has not ventured away even a little from Jesus. He does speak of conversations with Buddhists and others, but he seems unwilling to let go of Christianity for a while and try Buddhism or any other faith. Were he, for example, to at least study and practice some form of Buddhism, say Chan Buddhism, he might see how that religion evolved so as to let go almost entirely of the historical Buddha, instead turning to creating legends of new Chinese Buddhas based on such Chan Buddhist masters as Hui-Neng and Lin-Chi.

Spong's attachment to his image of Jesus may be preventing his spiritual growth.
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7 of 8 people found the following review helpful By Philip Jones on 27 Oct. 2007
Format: Paperback
One of the commonest responses to a journey into Jack Spong's theological world is the question: "What is left, which we might recognise as a church, when we've removed all the mythology and wiped away all the dubious interpretation from the Christian tradition?"

I was privileged to attend a series of Spong's lectures a couple of years ago and, as the week progressed, I became aware of a growing 'twitch' among the audience who steadily began to realise that significant chunks of what they identified as their tradition were visibly crumbling in Spong's hands as he held them up to the scrutiny of his thesis. In that same way, this book can have a fascinating yet rather unnerving effect.

The book is Spong's attempt to address the question of what is left of 'the church' when Christianity is stripped of its mythology and its various historical and political accretions. Spong also makes a brave attempt to consider what can be offered in place of the beliefs, structures and liturgies which have emerged from the theistic concepts which he targets.

As with much of Spong's work, we are on a journey with him towards a destination which is not yet reached, probably not yet even fully constructed when you read how many aspects of Spong's post-theistic 'church' he acknowledges as unknown and unknowable. But it's a journey well worth starting and a territory well worth exploring - strange and unnerving though it may be for those of us prone to the odd 'twitch' when our familiar foundations start to crumble.

I would love to see a working model of a cohesive, post-theistic Christian 'ekklesia' which reflects some of Spong's core ideas.
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