John Shelby Spong bigraphy, stories - American bishop

John Shelby Spong : biography

June 16, 1931 -

John Shelby "Jack" Spong (born June 16, 1931) is a retired American bishop of the Episcopal Church. From 1979 to 2000 he was Bishop of Newark (based in Newark, New Jersey). He is a Protestant liberal Christian theologian, religion commentator and author. He calls for a fundamental rethinking of Christian belief away from theism and traditional doctrines. ABC Radio Australia, June 17, 2001

Writings

Spong's writings rely on Biblical and non-Biblical sources and are influenced by modern critical analysis of these sources (see especially Spong, 1991). He is representative of a stream of thought with roots in the medieval universalism of Peter Abelard and the existentialism of Paul Tillich, whom he has called his favorite theologian."". Interview with Bill O'Reilly. April 14, 2005.

A prominent theme in Spong's writing is that the popular and literal interpretations of Christian scripture are not sustainable and do not speak honestly to the situation of modern Christian communities. He believes in a more nuanced approach to scripture, informed by scholarship and compassion, which can be consistent with both Christian tradition and contemporary understandings of the universe. He believes that theism has lost credibility as a valid conception of God's nature. He states that he is a Christian because he believes that Jesus Christ fully expressed the presence of a God of compassion and selfless love and that this is the meaning of the early Christian proclamation, "Jesus is Lord" (Spong, 1994 and Spong, 1991). Elaborating on this last idea he affirms that Jesus was adopted by God as his predilect son, thus embracing (at least at linguistic level) a form of the ancient adoptionist heresy (Born of a Woman 1992), and yet in an orthodox way he says that this would be the way God was fully incarnated in Jesus Christ. He rejects the historical truth claims of some Christian doctrines, such as the Virgin Birth (Spong, 1992) and the bodily resurrection of Jesus (Spong, 1994). In 2000, Spong was a critic of the Congregation for the Doctrine of the Faith of the Roman Catholic Church's declaration Dominus Iesus, because it reaffirmed the Catholic doctrine that the Roman Catholic Church is the one true Church and, perhaps even more importantly, that Jesus Christ is the one and only savior for humanity.

Spong has also been a strong proponent of the church reflecting the changes in society at large. The New York Times, May 15, 2005 Towards these ends, he calls for a new Reformation, in which many of Christianity's basic doctrines should be reformulated.

His views on the future of Christianity are, "...that we have to start where we are. As I look at the history of religion, I observe that new religious insights always and only emerge out of the old traditions as they begin to die. It is not by pitching the old insights out but by journeying deeply through them into new visions that we are able to change religion’s direction. The creeds were 3rd and 4th century love songs that people composed to sing to their understanding of God. We do not have to literalize their words to perceive their meaning or their intention to join in the singing of their creedal song. I think religion in general and Christianity in particular must always be evolving. Forcing the evolution is the dialogue between yesterday’s words and today’s knowledge. The sin of Christianity is that any of us ever claimed that we had somehow captured eternal truth in the forms we had created."Q & A for 2-14-2013 - electronic newsletter, A New Christianity For a New World, http://johnshelbyspong.com/

Criticism

Spong's ideas have received strong criticism from some other theologians, notably the former Archbishop of Canterbury, Rowan Williams (when Williams was the Bishop of Monmouth), describing his twelve theses as embodying "confusion and misinterpretation".

Background

Spong was born in Charlotte, North Carolina and educated in Charlotte public schools. He was a Phi Beta Kappa graduate of the University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill in 1952, and received his Master of Divinity degree in 1955 from the Episcopal Theological Seminary in Alexandria, Virginia. (That seminary and Saint Paul's College have both conferred on him honorary Doctor of Divinity degrees.) He wrote: "[I have] immerse[d] myself in contemporary Biblical scholarship at such places as Union Theological Seminary in New York City, Yale Divinity School, Harvard Divinity School and the storied universities in Edinburgh, Oxford and Cambridge."John Shelby Spong, The Sins of Scripture, HarperCollins 2005, page xi

Living octopus

Living octopus

In countries which are located near sea coasts, sea food is an important part of national cuisine