1. Donationrwingett
    Ming the Merciless
    Royal Oak, MI
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    11 Dec '08 00:34
    This is a little something by John Shelby Spong. For those of you who are unfamiliar with Mr. Spong, he is the retired Episcopal Bishop of Newark, New Jersey. He is also a (very) liberal theologian, a biblical scholar, and an author. He has written a host of books on Christianity over the years. Anyway, I've been interested in his views for a while now and have finally gotten around to purchasing one of his books. His latest one: Jesus for the Non-Religious. I've just started it, but I'd like to share the prologue to the book, titled:

    The Lament of a Believer in Exile

    Ah, Jesus!
    __Where have you gone?
    ____When did we lose you?
    Was it when we became so certain that we possessed you?
    __That we persecuted the Jews
    ____Excommunicated doubters
    ______Burned heretics
    ________And used violence and war to achieve conversion?
    Was it when our first century images
    __Collided with expanding knowledge?
    Or when biblical scholars informed us that the Bible does
    __Not really support what we once believed?
    Was it when we watched your followers distorting people
    __With guilt,
    ____Fear,
    ______Bigotry,
    ________Intolerance,
    __________And anger?
    Was it when we notice that many who called you Lord
    __And who read their Bibles regularly
    ____Also practiced slavery,
    ______Defended segregation,
    ________Approved lynching,
    __________Abused children,
    ____________Diminished women,
    ______________And hated homosexuals?
    Was it when we finally realized
    __That the Jesus who promised abundant life
    ____Could not be the source of self-hatred,
    ______Or one who encourages us to grovel
    ________In life-destroying penitence?
    Was it when it dawned on us that serving you would require
    __The surrender of those security-building prejudices
    ____That masquerade as our sweet sicknesses?

    We still yearn for you, Jesus, but we no longer know where
    __To seek your presence.
    Do we look for you in those churches that practice certainty?
    Or are you hiding in those churches
    __That so fear controversy that they make "unity" a god,
    ____And stand for so little that they die of boredom?
    Can you ever be found in those churches that have
    __Rejected the powerless and the marginalized,
    ____The lepers and the Samaritans of our day,
    ______Those you called our brothers and sisters?
    Or must we now look for you outside ecclesiastical settings,
    __Where love and kindness expect no reward,
    ____Where questions are viewed as the deepest
    ______Expressions of trust?

    Is it even possible, Jesus, that we Christians are the villains
    __Who killed you?
    ____Smothering you underneath literal Bibles,
    ______Dated creeds,
    ________Irrelevant doctrines,
    __________And dying structures?
    If these things are the source of your disappearance, Jesus,
    __Will you then reemerge if these things are removed?
    ____Will that bring resurrection?
    Or were you, as some now suggest, never more
    __Than an illusion?
    By burying and distorting you were we
    __Simply protecting ourselves
    ____From having to face that realization?

    I still seek to possess what I believe you are, Jesus:
    __Access to and embodiment of
    ____The Source of Life,
    ______The Source of Love,
    ________The Ground of Being,
    __________A doorway into the mystery of holiness.

    It is trough that doorway that I desire to walk.
    __Will you meet me there?
    ____Will you challenge me,
    ______Guide me,
    ________Confront me,
    __________Reveal your truth to me and in me?

    Finally, at the end of this journey, Jesus,
    __Will you embrace me
    ____Inside the ultimate reality
    ______That I call God
    ________In whom I live
    __________And move
    ____________And have my being?
    For that, Jesus, is my goal in this book.
  2. Joined
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    11 Dec '08 00:49
    nice

    challenge, discussion, open-mindness

    this is what religion should be about.
  3. Donationrwingett
    Ming the Merciless
    Royal Oak, MI
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    11 Dec '08 02:15
    Martin Luther, in an attempt to revitalize Christianity, tacked his 95 theses to the door of the Wittenberg Church. Spong feels that we are at another such crossroads, where Christianity must make itself relevant to a modern age or risk dying out. To that effect he has come up with a comparatively modest set of 12 theses.

    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.

    Source: Wikipedia (of course).
  4. Standard memberblack beetle
    Black Beastie
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    11 Dec '08 04:38
    Originally posted by rwingett
    This is a little something by John Shelby Spong. For those of you who are unfamiliar with Mr. Spong, he is the retired Episcopal Bishop of Newark, New Jersey. He is also a (very) liberal theologian, a biblical scholar, and an author. He has written a host of books on Christianity over the years. Anyway, I've been interested in his views for a while now and ...[text shortened]... ________And move
    ____________And have my being?
    For that, Jesus, is my goal in this book.
    This all is introduced by far better long ago

    (echo and bounce)
    -- Who gave you the sponge to wipe away the entire horizon?

    Who needs theology under the sun?
    Nothing Holy
    😵
  5. Standard memberblack beetle
    Black Beastie
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    11 Dec '08 04:39
    Originally posted by rwingett
    Martin Luther, in an attempt to revitalize Christianity, tacked his 95 theses to the door of the Wittenberg Church. Spong feels that we are at another such crossroads, where Christianity must make itself relevant to a modern age or risk dying out. To that effect he has come up with a comparatively modest set of 12 theses.

    1. Theism, as a way of d ...[text shortened]... ed as the basis for either rejection or discrimination.

    Source: Wikipedia (of course).
    Wikipedia stinks

    big time😵
  6. Standard memberblack beetle
    Black Beastie
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    11 Dec '08 04:40
    Originally posted by Zahlanzi
    nice

    challenge, discussion, open-mindness

    this is what religion should be about.
    No religion
    😵
  7. Break-twitching
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    11 Dec '08 07:17
    I find it truly amazing (and refreshing) that many atheists here cannot resist reading/talking about Jesus and discussing God...endlessly. There is hope!

    Spong sounds as if he 'sprung' a leak...in the mind.

    Bless all of you!! Remember to pray....
  8. Donationrwingett
    Ming the Merciless
    Royal Oak, MI
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    11 Dec '08 11:40
    Originally posted by dystoniac
    I find it truly amazing (and refreshing) that many atheists here cannot resist reading/talking about Jesus and discussing God...endlessly. There is hope!

    Spong sounds as if he 'sprung' a leak...in the mind.

    Bless all of you!! Remember to pray....
    Christianity is an interesting subject for study, just like Greek, or Norse, mythology are interesting subjects. But it is precisely the centuries of built up mythology that hide the real Jesus from the Christians themselves and which has turned him into a lifeless caricature. It is like an ancient object that has had layer after layer of paint applied to it by successive generations, so that nobody can remember what it looked like originally. You need to strip away that old paint to restore the original finish.
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    11 Dec '08 14:58
    Originally posted by dystoniac
    I find it truly amazing (and refreshing) that many atheists here cannot resist reading/talking about Jesus and discussing God...endlessly.
    that's because christians aren't happy with non-believers living their life in peace, they have to intrude and impose their belief system on everyone else: abortion,contraception, homsexuality, stem cell research, evolution etc, all are pervaded by the stench of fundamentalist christians.
    And then we have politicians who believe in the rapture and who potentially have their finger on the nuclear button. So we take a deep interest on what you guys are going to plan next and why you beieve the things that you do.
  10. Joined
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    11 Dec '08 23:11
    Originally posted by rwingett
    This is a little something by John Shelby Spong. For those of you who are unfamiliar with Mr. Spong, he is the retired Episcopal Bishop of Newark, New Jersey. He is also a (very) liberal theologian, a biblical scholar, and an author. He has written a host of books on Christianity over the years. Anyway, I've been interested in his views for a while now and ...[text shortened]... ________And move
    ____________And have my being?
    For that, Jesus, is my goal in this book.
    "Finally, at the end of this journey, Jesus,
    __Will you embrace me
    ____Inside the ultimate reality
    ______That I call God
    ________In whom I live
    __________And move
    ____________And have my being?
    For that, Jesus, is my goal in this book."


    Strange.

    I feel sorry for anyone who claims to be a Christian, yet doesn't understand that the relationship we have with God is a present possession.

    Ephesians 1:6
    To the praise of the glory of his grace, wherein he hath made us accepted in the beloved.

    You wasted your money.
  11. Joined
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    11 Dec '08 23:28
    Originally posted by black beetle
    No religion
    😵
    i disagree😀

    religion is like chocolate, when taken moderately it is quite good.
  12. Joined
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    11 Dec '08 23:30
    Originally posted by rwingett
    Christianity is an interesting subject for study, just like Greek, or Norse, mythology are interesting subjects. But it is precisely the centuries of built up mythology that hide the real Jesus from the Christians themselves and which has turned him into a lifeless caricature. It is like an ancient object that has had layer after layer of paint applied to i ...[text shortened]... it looked like originally. You need to strip away that old paint to restore the original finish.
    not only a caricature but a boogey man also. so many people use religion as a burden instead of a blessing, a blanket for the soul. i say instead of doing that you would be better off an atheist.
  13. Joined
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    11 Dec '08 23:36
    Originally posted by josephw
    [b]"Finally, at the end of this journey, Jesus,
    __Will you embrace me
    ____Inside the ultimate reality
    ______That I call God
    ________In whom I live
    __________And move
    ____________And have my being?
    For that, Jesus, is my goal in this book."


    Strange.

    I feel sorry for anyone who claims to be a Christian, yet doesn't understand that the r ...[text shortened]... ory of his grace, wherein he hath made us accepted in the beloved.

    You wasted your money.[/b]
    you, like always and similar to some atheists, deal in absolutes.

    god SAID that. god WANTS that. god has a plan. god COMMANDS it.
    atheists(some) say "the earth wasn't created in 6 days so the bible is lying about jesus as well." "the bible thought us to kill adulterers so we must discard any moral guideline that might exist in other parts of the bible"

    anything is open to interpretation, more so a text thousands of years old that we have no certainty was inspired by god, and even if it was, we have no certainty we have translated or interpreted correctly.

    christian doesn't mean "present possesion". it means follower of christ. and you can follow christ without doing all that jazz religious folks claim it is absolutely necessary to do in order to be "saved"
  14. Joined
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    11 Dec '08 23:44
    Originally posted by Zahlanzi
    you, like always and similar to some atheists, deal in absolutes.

    god SAID that. god WANTS that. god has a plan. god COMMANDS it.
    atheists(some) say "the earth wasn't created in 6 days so the bible is lying about jesus as well." "the bible thought us to kill adulterers so we must discard any moral guideline that might exist in other parts of the bible" ...[text shortened]... hat jazz religious folks claim it is absolutely necessary to do in order to be "saved"
    You contradict yourself.

    You have no absolute truth, yet you espose a truth.

    You follow Jesus with absolutely no certainty of salvation.

    Sorry, but I KNOW I'm saved NOW! My relationship with God is sound and secure.
  15. Donationrwingett
    Ming the Merciless
    Royal Oak, MI
    Joined
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    11 Dec '08 23:53
    Originally posted by Zahlanzi
    not only a caricature but a boogey man also. so many people use religion as a burden instead of a blessing, a blanket for the soul. i say instead of doing that you would be better off an atheist.
    Part of the point that Spong makes is that by clinging doggedly to first century mythology, Christianity is pushing more and more people away. It is appealing to a narrower, and a narrower minded, crowd. So for people like Spong, who can no longer reconcile the mythological elements of Christianity with a 21st century world, they are left adrift. Hence the title of his prologue: The Lament of a Believer in Exile.

    People will say that Christianity is stronger than ever, and for some people it is. But with some 16% of the people now claiming no religious affiliation, and church attendance continuing to drop, I think he is right. The various Christian churches are making themselves less and less relevant to people's everyday lives. The tighter they cling to their antiquated dogma, the fewer people there will be who are willing to wear the necessary blinders.
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