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Why Christianity Must Change or Die: A Bishop Speaks to Believers In Exile [Paperback]

John Shelby Spong
3.8 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (22 customer reviews)
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Book Description

26 April 2001

An important and respected voice for liberal American Christianity for the past twenty years, Bishop John Shelby Spong integrates his often controversial stands on the Bible, Jesus, theism, and morality into an intelligible creed that speaks to today's thinking Christian. In this compelling and heartfelt book, he sounds a rousing call for a Christianity based on critical thought rather than blind faith, on love rather than judgment, and that focuses on life more than religion.


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Why Christianity Must Change or Die: A Bishop Speaks to Believers In Exile + A New Christianity for a New World: Why Traditional Faith is Dying and How a New Faith is Being Born + Eternal Life: A New Vision: Beyond Religion, Beyond Theism, Beyond Heaven and Hell
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Product details

  • Paperback: 288 pages
  • Publisher: HarperOne; New Ed edition (26 April 2001)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 0060675365
  • ISBN-13: 978-0060675363
  • Product Dimensions: 20.3 x 13.8 x 2.5 cm
  • Average Customer Review: 3.8 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (22 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Bestsellers Rank: 138,232 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)
  • See Complete Table of Contents

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Product Description

About the Author

John Shelby Spong was the Episcopal Bishop of Newark before his retirement. As a visiting lecturer at Harvard and at universities and churches throughout the world, he is a leading spokesperson for liberal Christianity. Selling over a million copies, his books include The Fourth Gospel: Tales of a Jewish Mystic; Eternal Life: A New Vision; Why Christianity Must Change or Die; and his autobiography, Here I Stand. His weekly online column reaches thousands of subscribers all over the world.


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Customer Reviews

Most Helpful Customer Reviews
23 of 23 people found the following review helpful
4.0 out of 5 stars Who knows the truth? 16 Aug 1999
By A Customer
Format:Paperback
As a non-Christian reading this book, I felt as though Bishop Spong came as close as anyone in my past to making me understand Christ and Christianity. Had he been influential earlier in my life, I may even have chosen Christianity!
Bishop Spong has "Rattled a Few Cages" in his most recent book, cages that needed rattling. No one knows "the truth" of whatever god/gods there be, yet one that is accepting and loving and is within us rather than "out in space" somewhere is certainly an appealing thought to consider.
Don't read this book unless you can handle a challenging read.
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18 of 19 people found the following review helpful
By A Customer
Format:Hardcover
Why do you believe what you believe? This is a question that many people are ill-equipped to answer because they've been taught that it should never be asked. Faith is sufficient for some. Experience is the authority to which many appeal. Tradition makes sure that we don't stray far from the thoughts of the past. Often, our most cherished beliefs are grounded in little more than a desire to hold them or our fear of the consequences of the contrary. Into such a mix of certainty and uncertainly has ventured Bishop John Shelby Spong of the Episcopal Diocese of Newark. To some, he is the epitome of everything that is wrong with the "modern" church. Over the past 20 years, and more publically over the past 10, he has sought to skewer every sacred cow in the belief-system of "orthodox" Christianity, of which he says, "To be called an orthodox Christian does not mean that one's point of view is right. It only means that this point of view w! on out in the ancient debate."
Although Bishop Spong's conclusions are not original with his own thinking, he has systematically examined the nature of human sexuality, the Bible, the ideas of virgin birth and resurrection, and the nature of Jesus with the lens of rationality, scholarship, and a concern that the church is perpetuating ideas that make it less possible for people to have a serious commitment to the Christian faith in a modern, technological world. Bishop Spong has asked believers to take seriously the question of why they believe what they believe and to not be cowed when they find that some of what they have taken "for granted" has little else upon which to stand.
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14 of 15 people found the following review helpful
4.0 out of 5 stars A very thought provoking account 15 Mar 2004
Format:Paperback|Verified Purchase
What a brave and challenging book. I can see Spong's honesty in trying to strip away years of built up doctrine and belief that seems at odds with human logic and reason. He does not spend long amounts of time dealing with scholarly issues, but accepts things such as changes to the Bible over time and the issues related to the council of Nicea. Instead of bickering and debating Spong acknowledges issues and then deals provides solutions. He discusses things such as the church's objection to all sceintific discoveries that oppose its view of the world.
After reading this book i felt Christianity could perhaps evolve using a blueprint similar to this, and i felt forces within it were moving towards this more logical approach. My recent experience with Christians,however, has shown to me the problems they face without Spong's foward thinking.
Some of Spong's writings related to Jesus dying for the sins of the world, and also the idea of him being God incarnate are very bold and presented in a no-nonsense style. He rejects all these ideas and in very plain terms. His viewpoint on other religions is also very healthy to see and read. His views may annoy and offend the orthodox clergy, but for the people of this world what he says is a relief to hear.
Spong writes towards the end that history may show later that this book of his does not go far enough, to me the book goes a bit too far in places. During his demolition act of Christianity he also does away with a God that influences things in this world, and also does away with heaven and hell. This is my personal view, others may feel his vision should have gone further.
I hope this voice being raised in the Christian world will be listened to.
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11 of 12 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars It's time to give up "childish things." 31 May 1998
By A Customer
Format:Hardcover
This is a very moving and wise book. It is strong spiritual meat for those who are ready to give up "childish things," as St. Paul said. Bishop Spong refreshingly realizes that Christianity has a credibility problem. The Church has to start over again. It must stop thinking in terms of an old man in the sky, a supernatural Santa Claus who will swoop down to save us from natural disasters, illness, death, and the consequences of our own stupidity. It has to stop trying to impose moral prohibitions that have nothing to do with the truths of human biology and psychology, or with true justice and compassion. Freedom, knowledge, and wisdom must be our new commandments; our knowledge of God will based upon the truths revealed in our humanity, in which God truly exists. His style is powerful, clear, and sometimes lyrical. This is a great book by someone who speaks compassionately in a language we non-Christians can understand. I hoped to find in it some common ground from which believers and non-believers could begin a dialogue, and I was not disappointed.
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Most Recent Customer Reviews
3.0 out of 5 stars Disappointing
I must say I was disappointed with this book. I had hoped that Bishop Spong would give more direction to what he sees as the future of Christianity but I found this sorely missing... Read more
Published on 4 Mar 2012 by CJ Craig
5.0 out of 5 stars A foundation for a New Christianity
For years I have solemnly recited one or other of the Christian Creeds all the while thinking to myself, 'I do not believe these words. Read more
Published on 2 Sep 2011 by G. E. B. Russell
4.0 out of 5 stars Can Christianity make sense and yet retain its power?
Having jettisoned the need for a bodily resurrection of Jesus in Resurrection: Myth or Reality? : A Bishop's Search for the Origins of Christianity, Spong is now ready to jettison... Read more
Published on 18 Feb 2008 by calmly
4.0 out of 5 stars not yet dead
I have just re-read "Why Christianity must change or die" after an interval of years. The many questions the book asks still remain largely unanswered by the churches at which... Read more
Published on 21 Sep 2007 by Gerald Wiener
5.0 out of 5 stars There Is Still Hope
John Shelby Spong has pointed out in WHY CHRISTIANITY MUST CHANGE OR DIE that the early church creeds were not completed until the last few decades of the third century and this... Read more
Published on 14 July 2003 by Peter Kenney
1.0 out of 5 stars a whiff of new age nonsense!
If Spong claims to be a Christian, he really needs to research what the title and life really means. Read more
Published on 16 April 1999
1.0 out of 5 stars Bishop goes out on a limb
I have read a couple of the bishops earlier works and found some legitimate reasoning in them. However, his newest work seems to be a contradiction in terms overall. Read more
Published on 22 Mar 1999
3.0 out of 5 stars An intellectual exercise.
Spong's new work is all about a formidable and powerful intellect totally frustrated in its proud efforts to encompass and conquer and possess the Holy, so it shapes for itself... Read more
Published on 16 Mar 1999
4.0 out of 5 stars Tells us where we are, but not how to get out of here.
Spong does a pretty good job of demolishing traditional Christian teaching here, but he's writing for people who already know that much of traditional teaching is contrary-to-fact... Read more
Published on 3 Nov 1998
5.0 out of 5 stars At Last!! HOPE!!!! An awesomely inspiring book!
This was the most inspiring book I've ever read concerning Christianity. I have read the bible from cover to cover, more than once. Read more
Published on 20 Oct 1998
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