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on 14 April 2017
This, for me, is probably the best book Bishop Spong has written. For all those searching for the meaning of GOD ,read this book!!!!
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on 13 April 2017
Good book and excellent customer service
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on 1 February 2017
Everyone should read this book! I found it inspirational.
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VINE VOICEon 4 March 2012
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 from these pages. There is much personal experience of his own journey and what he finds hard about Christianity today, but there is precious little definite as to how he sees Christianity moving forward into the twenty-first century. The areas he covers are skirted over with little solid framework given. I would have thought a bishop who, even with his doubts and difficulties, has stayed in the mainstream church would offer more.
When I looked at his website I realized that perhaps one of the reasons he remains a bishop is because of the pulling power with the media this guarantees. And a heretical bishop is going to pull in more buyers than someone who resigns because he/she just doesn't believe anymore in the traditional line. Of course, if you want to read his latest offerings on his website you have to pay $10 USD a month. This, for me, was a dead giveaway that perhaps the bishop is more interested in cash flow than the future of christianity.
His earlier books are more honest; more real. Jesus for the Non-Religious is a much better book for those grappling with doubts about faith and christianity. It's probably better because it is concentrating on the faith that is inspired by Jesus (whether you believe him to be god or not doesn't really matter)rather than the institution that is Christianity.
This book though was not all that great for me.
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on 30 June 2015
This guy only got publicity because (astonishingly) he was a bishop. His comments about modern churches and the bases of the Christian faith are puerile, the only people that he recognises are "new and exciting scholars", everyone else is a fundamentalist who lacks scholarship.
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on 16 August 1999
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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on 24 July 1998
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.
With his latest book Bishop Spong has moved beyond the realm of talking to seekers in church and directly addresses those who have left the church behind, even if they're still physically present. Although his critics dispute the claim, Bishop Spong says that the book is, "! ...a work of faith and conviction...as one who desires to w! orship as a citizen of the modern world and to be able to think as I worship." Throughout the 250 pages which follow, Bishop Spong identifies those Christian concepts which he claims are rooted in the "tribal identity" of an earlier time, not in any external or eternal reality. He identifies the ways in which the maintenance of those claims has strained under the history of human thought and scientific discovery. He goes ahead, then, to assert that a living, powerful Christian faith is possible, without the literal acceptance of the ideas that many people would consider to be essential to any religion.
Bishop Spong claims that such deconstruction is necessary because within and without the church there are those who use language which they "know" no longer speaks truth but for which there are few alternatives. Of such believers, he writes, "They refuse to abandon the reality of God, yet they have been driven by forces over which they have ! no control to sacrifice much of the content of that God reality. So they are left with an almost contentless concept, which must be allowed to find a new meaning or it will die."
Bishop Spong's book is not for the "weak of heart!" He consistently overstates his case, in often dramatic terms, leaving himself open to critics who want to literalize the extremity of his views. He also makes sweeping conclusions based on appeals to scholarship that can even leave sympathetic readers scratching their heads at some of his lines of thought. But what Bishop Spong does well, in an engaging and easy to read fashion, is state the case for a "post-Christian" Christian faith that seeks to integrate many of the common understandings of theological and Biblical scholarship with the "facts of life" as we enter the 21st century. What he stops short of doing is providing easy answers for what comes next.
This book is part of a larger effort by Bishop S! pong to engage his church and other concerned persons in a ! new dialogue about what the church is and how Christian faith should be expressed. Coinciding with the release of this book, Bishop Spong also released a "Call for a New Reformation" in which he challenges the church to a new debate over it's fundamental doctrines
Those who are certain of what they believe and feel that "orthodox" Christian tradition has expressed eternal truths for all time and all people will be enraged by this book. Those who find themselves bothered by blanket appeals to "tradition" and "scripture," when those appeals take precedence over rationality and common sense, will likely find Bishop Spong's book an interesting excursion into an "alternative" future for Christianity that they might never have thought possible. Those who have dismissed Christianity as anachronistic may be pleasantly surprised by the future that Bishop Spong envisions. Bishop Spong's own assessment is that, "...the world ca! n judge my contribution as to whether it destroyed the old or created the new...I am content to let the passage of time make that determination."
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on 31 May 1998
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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on 20 October 1998
This was the most inspiring book I've ever read concerning Christianity. I have read the bible from cover to cover, more than once. I was raised in the Roman Catholic church and converted to Pentacostal when I was a teenager. In recent years I began to question the teachings of organized religion and as a result developed an interest in religion, philosophy and history. I then identified as an atheist, but more recently have begun to understand myself as a "seeker of truth". As I was reading Bishop Spong's book, I kept thinking, "this is my thought exactly", and "wow, I didn't think there was anyone who would understand where I'm at in my own spiritual journey", and "I have to meet this man".
I'm still not quite sure I will ever believe in "God" again; Christianity just does not make any sense at all to me. However, I feel that Bishop Spong is inspiring Hope where there was none. I hope that many people will embrace Bishop Spong and his new insight with a sense of awestruck inspiration and hope.
Thank you, Bishop Spong! If a godly man ever lived, you are he. Please continue to write. I intend to read every word you have written thus far.
I found this book to be quite readable. Bishop Spong's ideas were presented in a very understandable way, asking very legitimate questions and providing reasonable answers which, at the very least, were thought provoking.
Anyone capable of truly thinking for her/himself will find this book a gold mine.
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on 31 May 2016
Quite simply, if Christianity changes in the way Spong wants it too it will certainly die. His sort of theology doesn’t convert people. What is does manage to do is hold on to people who started off as evangelicals and want something less dogmatic to cling on to. So it will staunch the haemorrhage but not revive the patient. Towards the end of the book, Spong seems to realise this: "Is my reformulation of Christianity adequate for our brand new world? I would be surprised if it is judged to be so.”

Furthermore, Spong isn’t as clever and certainly not as original as he thinks he is. He tends to peddle others’ ideas, often misunderstanding them, especially when it comes to Bonhoeffer (religionless Christianity is not the same as ‘Christianity without God’.).

He regards Tom Wright and Alistair McGrath as ‘right wing’ but surely they’re open evangelical. And I can’t see how he can regard Keith Ward as a fellow traveller given that he is basically orthodox. And I’d hardly rate Michael Goulder as ‘a scholar of world rank.’

Spong objects to the following: Father - the masculinity of God has led to the subjugation of women; Almighty - if God is all-powerful and good, then how can bad things happen?; creator of heaven and earth - our current understanding of the origin of the Earth has little to do with the Biblical account; only Son - denies that other religions can provide a channel to divinity; conceived by the Holy Ghost, born of the Virgin Mary - inconsistent with what we have since learned about biology; ascended into Heaven - based on a primitive understanding of God as up; judge the living and the dead - "Postmodern people who know the depths of human interconnectedness, who understand psychological wounding and blessing, cannot be moralistic in the way that these creedal images of judgment have always assumed." ; the holy catholic Church, the communion of saints - the church and its members have a long history of being neither holy nor saintly.

He regards these things as unbelievable. This flies in the face of a Harris Poll in July 1994 which showed that 95 percent believed in God; 90 percent believed in heaven. Of the four in five Americans who described themselves as Christians, 89 percent believed in life after death, 87 percent in miracles, and 85 percent in the virgin birth of Jesus Christ. Even 52 percent of the non-Christians surveyed expressed belief in the Resurrection.

Spong argues that theistic thinking was born at the exact moment when human self-consciousness first emerged from the evolutionary process, that it became the inevitable human response to the terrors of self-consciousness."Powerful divine figures could also be placated, bargained with, flattered, or appeased," he writes." Frail and frightened human beings thus could ingratiate themselves with these external powers so that instead of being victimized by them, they could move the deity to protect or spare them instead"

Contending that "human beings have evolved to the place where the theistic God concept can be and must be cast aside," Spong searches for "another God language," enlisting support from the likes of Alfred North Whitehead ("the divine process coming into being within the life of this world") and Paul Tillich (for whom God was "Ground of Being," an "internal reality that, when confronted, opened us to the meaning of life itself")

"Is God, so defined, any less personal than a theistic deity?" Spong asks. His answer: "Does not the being of God manifest itself in intense personhood? Can one worship Tillich's Ground of Being in any other way than by daring to be all that one can be? Can one worship the Source of Life in any other way than by daring to live fully? Can one worship the Source of Love in any other way than by daring to love wastefully and abundantly? Are there any categories that could be said to be more personal than those calling each of us into being, into living, and into loving? Would a life that reflected these qualities not be seen to reveal the image of God that is within that person?"

Writring about Israel’s experience of exile, he refers to Nebuchadnezzar as a ‘commander’ – he wasn’t just that. He was a king.

He shows his lack of Hebrew when he suggests that ‘ruach’ was a force, not a being. Hebrew is layered and the term means both.

He is also ignorant about Buddhism when he says it is theistic – some Buddhists may be but it isn’t the official line.

He regards penal substitutionary atonement as "the most obvious candidate for dismissal." Much as I loathe this doctrine, it is the model that is dominant in all the churches which are growing. Of curse, that doesn’t make it right but it gives the lie to his assertion that Christianity will die if it isn’t redefined.

He reckons Luke knew Matthew’s gospel – no Q then?

He rates John A. T. Robinson as a mystic on a par with Meister Eckhart.

He doesn’t regard Catholicism as ‘mainstream’.

He reintroduces Tillich towards the end as if he hadn’t already written a lot about him earlier.

He thinks the Forth Gospel was written as late as 100 CE, despite his admiration of John Robinson who dated it much earlier.

Most oddly, he talks about human beings ‘as we were created to be’. But if there’s no creator….
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