I 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
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.