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New Reformation: Spong's 12 Theses

Discussion in 'Liberal Christianity DIR' started by spiritually inclined, Jun 28, 2008.

  1. spiritually inclined

    spiritually inclined Active Member

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    I've posted this elsewhere but decided it belongs in the Liberal Christian forums, too. What do you liberal Christians think of Spong's theses?

    John Shelby Spong is one of the most liberal theologians in the Anglican Communion and Christian religion. He calls for a reformation that will make the last one appear insignificant in comparison. His 12 theses are as follows:

    Quote:
    1. Theism, as a way of defining God, is dead. So most theological God-talk is today meaningless. A new way to speak of God must be found.
    2. Since God can no longer be conceived in theistic terms, it becomes nonsensical to seek to understand Jesus as the incarnation of the theistic deity. So the Christology of the ages is bankrupt.
    3. The biblical story of the perfect and finished creation from which human beings fell into sin is pre-Darwinian mythology and post-Darwinian nonsense.
    4. The virgin birth, understood as literal biology, makes Christ's divinity, as traditionally understood, impossible.
    5. The miracle stories of the New Testament can no longer be interpreted in a post-Newtonian world as supernatural events performed by an incarnate deity.
    6. 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.
    7. Resurrection is an action of God. Jesus was raised into the meaning of God. It therefore cannot be a physical resuscitation occurring inside human history.
    8. The story of the Ascension assumed a three-tiered universe and is therefore not capable of being translated into the concepts of a post-Copernican space age.
    9. There is no external, objective, revealed standard writ in scripture or on tablets of stone that will govern our ethical behavior for all time.
    10. Prayer cannot be a request made to a theistic deity to act in human history in a particular way.
    11. The hope for life after death must be separated forever from the behavior control mentality of reward and punishment. The Church must abandon, therefore, its reliance on guilt as a motivator of behavior.
    12. All human beings bear God's image and must be respected for what each person is. Therefore, no external description of one's being, whether based on race, ethnicity, gender or sexual orientation, can properly be used as the basis for either rejection or discrimination.
    As a Christian, how do you react to Spong's call for a new reformation?

    James
     
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  2. Jordan St. Francis

    Jordan St. Francis Well-Known Member

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    I don't consider Spong a liberal. I don't know what to consider him at all, frankly.

    His first thesis automatically ex-communicates himself from any kind of legitimate visible communion with the Church of Christ. There is very little need to proceed to his next 11 points.

    If he does not believe in God, on what basis can he possibly be a Christian? I am not a liberal, but am I the only one who thinks it ridiculous he persists under the title of bishop, shepherd of the Christian faithful?

    How can you, in about 11 points, rip the spine out of a religion and call it "reform" ?

    Spong would probably make a good Buddhist or secular humanist. What he is saying is not new and its not something Christians have ever said.

    Point 12 is noble.
     
  3. sandandfoam

    sandandfoam Veteran Member

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    Point by point:-
    1.I'd like to know why he says Theism is dead.
    2. Depends on 1
    3. I think the Bible is mythology, I don't see what he hopes to gain by calling it nonsense.
    4. I don't take it literally anyway so have no trouble with that view.
    5. As above
    6. " "
    7. That's my view too.
    8. The story is a story, so?
    9. Agreed
    10.I don't see why not, whether they'll be answered is a different question.
    11.Agreed. I would also say that the Church is not the repository of ultimate truth, individual experience is superior.
    12. Agreed, God is inside.
     
    #3 sandandfoam, Jul 2, 2008
    Last edited: Jul 2, 2008
  4. doppelganger

    doppelganger Through the Looking Glass

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    Read any of the three books: "Why Christianity Must Change or Die", "A New Christianity For A New World" or "Jesus For the Non-Religious" for some excellent insights on this. I've been a Spong fan for several years now.

    He's an apostle to the non-religious much in the same way Paul was an apostle to the "gentiles." I doubt he or people to whom his approach and writings appeal care whether traditional "Christians" approve of the way they understand Christianity. That's the whole point of a reformation after all, isn't it? :)
     
  5. lunamoth

    lunamoth Will to love

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    I think he means anthropomorphic, Great-beard-in-the-sky theism is dead.
     
  6. doppelganger

    doppelganger Through the Looking Glass

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    I agree . . . kinda. He takes the position that "belief in the existence of God" as a discreet thing or being is no longer comprehensible or meaningful to most people and instead that a re-opening of the divine experience from which "God" notions arise is where the future of human spirituality (and perhaps its past) really lies. Not unlike what Dawkins and Dennett have pointed out, people don't really believe in God much anyway - they believe in certain words or ideas about "God" (or as Dennett would put it, they "believe in belief in God").

    From Spong's " . . . Change or Die":
    And from "New Christianity":

     
  7. sandandfoam

    sandandfoam Veteran Member

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    I've started reading a little bit about Gnosticism (The Gnostic Gospels - Elaine Pagels), I'm already smitten by Pelagius, I find a lot that resonates with me in heresy. A lot of what is contained in the op. has been said before, and it sits well.
    I must read him. Thanks for the pointer.
     
  8. sandandfoam

    sandandfoam Veteran Member

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    System won't let me frubal!, I'm off to Amazon. Thanks.
     
  9. Quiddity

    Quiddity UndertheInfluenceofGiants

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    By raising the price of indulgences.

    That'll teach em a lesson.
     
  10. Quiddity

    Quiddity UndertheInfluenceofGiants

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    ...:yes:...
     
  11. doppelganger

    doppelganger Through the Looking Glass

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    Isn't this a DIR? Ahem . . .
     
  12. Quiddity

    Quiddity UndertheInfluenceofGiants

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    Oops...

    Curse the statistic links.
     
  13. TashaN

    TashaN Veteran Member
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    **MOD POST**

    This is the DIR for Liberal Christianity. Please make sure you know the rules of DIRs before posting.
     
  14. Wandered Off

    Wandered Off Sporadic Driveby Member

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    It's interesting how much his ideas are similar to those of Anglican Bishop Don Cupitt's. From Sea of Faith:
     
    #14 Wandered Off, Jul 3, 2008
    Last edited: Jul 3, 2008
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  15. doppelganger

    doppelganger Through the Looking Glass

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    It's what Christian mystics and "gnostics" have been saying all along. And a natural result of the process of turning Christian myths and symbology to act as a psychological pointer instead of regarding it as history or metaphysics.

    Meister Eckhart, Joseph Campbell, Paul Tillich, Dietrich Bonhoeffer (in his latter works), and many of the early "Gnostic" texts, have taken this same approach (as have many philosophers).

    Spong's "New Reformation" is a new take on the age old project of turning the symbols of Christianity around to point to the "mystery of Christ" within. :D
     
  16. Wandered Off

    Wandered Off Sporadic Driveby Member

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  17. spiritually inclined

    spiritually inclined Active Member

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    I like the above quote. I'm not completely sure, but I believe Spong says in his autobiography that he was influenced deeply by Don Cupitt and his book Sea of Faith.

    James
     
  18. doppelganger

    doppelganger Through the Looking Glass

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    He was. And also by Paul Tillich's The Courage to Be.
     
  19. sojourner

    sojourner Annoyingly Progressive Since 2006

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    I am becoming more and more convinced that religion is more an interior impetus, which gives rise to acts of goodness and life, rather than an exterior force, which acts upon us in mystical and spiritual ways. To a point, I agree with the poster who said that religion must be a human endeavor. But I don't think religion can be fully human. For it to be so, it would be...humanism. Religion serves to raise humanity to an awareness of Divinity. Whether that Divinity is a man in a beard, or the spark of life, or Angellous Evangellous -- these are all simply different models for conceptualizing the Divine. Spong, in point 1, is simply calling for new models.
     
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