Post-theistic Christianity "Other view"

Discussion in 'Christianity' started by YNOT, May 1, 2006.

  1. YNOT

    YNOT Zen philosopher

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    I'm wondering if anyone has read any books by the former Bishop John Shelby Spong. Does anyone have any opinions (for/against) on Spong's post-theistic interpretation of Christianity? Is he right when he professes the death of Theism as a reality in our midst or can the ancient theistic world-view and vocabulary be salvaged in our postmodern world? I am in the middle of reading Spong's A New Christianity for a New World and I find it fascinating.

    My name is Tony by the way and it is nice to meet all of you. :)
     
  2. iBrian

    iBrian Peace, Love and Unity Admin

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    Re: Post-theistic Christianity

    Nice to meet you, Tony. :)

    I've not read Spong's books, but I have read some of his articles online, and certainly they are stimulating.

    The concern I have - which I presume a lot of his critics have - is that once you start over-turning the core traditions of a particular faith, you can be seen to be effectively invalidating it.

    In which case, why hold on to claiming an association with a particular faith if you reject it's roots?
     
  3. wil

    wil UNeyeR1 Moderator

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    Re: Post-theistic Christianity

    I have not read this book, but have read other information by him.
    I'd be very interesting in knowing his definition of post theism....if we are referring to losing the G-d of old, the thunder and lightning bolt larger than life built in our image recorder of good and bad creator of the universe.. I'd say that old guy is lost to many of the abrahamic faithful right now. Most have developed another understanding of 'all that is and all that will be' and if that is post theism, I agree with him that it is inevitable and we are in the midst of it. But just because a new understanding has developed, doesn't mean the old texts and stories have lost their flavor...quite the opposite is true for me, the book is more powerful than ever before...and less intimadating...as is our brother and father...in which you and I are one...

    Just like learning Gulliver never Travelled and the hare never pulled the thorn outta the lion, or Santa exists in our mind....they can still have a huge impact on life today....
     
  4. YNOT

    YNOT Zen philosopher

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    Re: Post-theistic Christianity

    Hi I, Brian....Namaste

    It is difficult for me to do justice to Spong's vision in a simple post, but I will do my very best. His vision is intertwined with many revolutionary ideas and can't be summed up with fortune-cookie precision.

    Your observation that a post-theistic Christianity will overturn many core traditions of this faith is certainly an extremely valid one. Spong does not shy away from this charge but meets it head on. He does insist that many will turn away in fear from the notion that the God of old has died. What he substitutes in God's place is not an external deity that intervenes in the world but a "God-experience" that is found in the person of Jesus of Nazareth. This experience consists of 1. living fully, 2.loving wastefully and 3. seeing God as the Ground of All Being.

    For Spong, Jesus is the doorway to the God experience. Because he grew up in the Christian tradition, the person of Jesus is a figure of adoration for him and he still calls him "Lord". He doesn't worship Jesus as a divine figure, but he sees him as person (not different in kind, but different in degree) who calls us to transcend our humanity which is all too capable of prejudice and evil.

    Spong realizes that his vision may kill Christianity. He doesn't pretend that accepting these notions may not have devastating consequences for the entire tradition and its followers. But not re-interpreting the faith, and bringing it into the postmodern world, will CERTAINLY have that effect.

    As I said, very interesting stuff. I'll respond to your post wil when I have a few moments. Thanks guys.
     
  5. YNOT

    YNOT Zen philosopher

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    Re: Post-theistic Christianity

    I, Brian,

    One other quick thing: For Spong, Jesus is central to HIS OWN God-experience. Jesus may not be the doorway for others. He acknowledges how others see the Buddha, Mohammed, Krishna etc..as a portal to that SAME God-experience.
     
  6. YNOT

    YNOT Zen philosopher

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    Re: Post-theistic Christianity

    wil, you are absolutely correct to state that the old texts and stories have not lost their flavour. Spong, and I agree with him, says that the Bible can have a powerful meaning in our lives....but for many of us, this requires rescuing the Bible from a literal understanding that only fosters a tribal mentality that we are all too aware of. I will need more time to illustrate how he does this....I have a patient right now though.
     
  7. wil

    wil UNeyeR1 Moderator

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    Re: Post-theistic Christianity

    I am currently reading 'A New Earth' by Eckardt Tolle, author of 'The Power of Now'...an excellent read and seemingly intune with Spong and this 'modern thought.'

    I think this is what Jesus was trying to tell those with ears all along...look neither high nor low...I and the Father are one...I AM the light and the way...

    The only real downfall I see is those that feel they've cornered the market finding out that everyone has access to all, w/o dancing to their specific beat... but even that is a personal choice...some of the house of cards will crumble, some will be disappointed, others will rejoice in finding that the New Earth is rising now...
     
  8. Quahom1

    Quahom1 What was the question?

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    Re: Post-theistic Christianity

    Unless one's intention is to start a new "faith" and bring others along from that faith...? just a thought.

    v/r

    Q
     
  9. Quahom1

    Quahom1 What was the question?

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    Re: Post-theistic Christianity

    I'm afraid Wil is not absolutely correct. It is simply (though well put), his opinion. The majority of Christians do not adhere to this train of philosophy.

    Further more, it cannot be assumed that the mainstream Christian thought is wrong, and others are right because they presume to be more enlightened.

    For a great majority of Christianity (more than 70 percent of the 2.3 billion professed Christians), the literalness of the Bible is sacresanct. And there is nothing wrong with a "tribal" mentality. Up to the 20th century, that mentality kept Mankind from totally destroying itself.

    I too am very familiar with Bishop Spong, and find his thoughts interesting, but not the quintesential of how the "new christian concept" should neccessarily proceed.

    Agreed, the patient comes first...;)

    v/r

    Q
     
  10. YNOT

    YNOT Zen philosopher

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    Re: Post-theistic Christianity

    I haven't read Tolle yet but I am an enthusiastic proponent of anyone who's strong enough to challenge the fossilized version of Christianity that has been passed on to us via its institutions. What so many of us don't realize is that Christianity can be resuscitated to where it can become a very meaningful and LIVING faith!

    I and the Father are one indeed! Look under a rock and you will find me. Knock and the door shall be opened to you. The Kingdom of God is within (Luke 17:21)! These are all tremendous calls to awaken!

    Jesus, to me, is a Zen master calling us toward a higher humanity. His life is an example (and to some, and rightly so, THE example) of a Kingdom of God on earth. Heaven is not to be found beyond the clouds. It is within you when you look into the eyes of your brother and love him without expecting anything in return. Wherever there is love, there will you find God. Wherever there is life being lived to the fullest, there will you find God. Whenever we have the courage to be (as Paul Tillich says), there will we find God.

    Spong has me excited when he suggests that God is our being. :cool:
     
  11. YNOT

    YNOT Zen philosopher

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    Re: Post-theistic Christianity

    Q, I agree that for most Christians, the Bible as literally understood, is sacred. I also agree that, up to the 20th century, the tribal mentality has ensured man's survival. What I see in Jesus' message, however, is a call to transcend and abandon this tribal mentality and cross all boundaries (religious, national, gender, sexual) and embrace eachother as brothers and sisters. I'm sure that we can agree that the church has not lived up to this ideal (inquisition, crusades, imperial/colonial missions, burning of heretics).
    Man's competition for survival, I think, must be put in its proper post-Darwinian context. A struggle to survive, while necessary, is a limit placed upon our humanness that must be transcended. Jesus teaches me how to do this.

    Just a thought and interpretation. I wouldn't claim that my interpretation is superior. That would be failing just as the church has many times throughout its history.

    Nice to meet you by the way.

    Namaste
     
  12. Quahom1

    Quahom1 What was the question?

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    Re: Post-theistic Christianity

    Thank you Y.

    I think this particular train of thought deserves time and points all its own within the Christian Forum. You will find it is stickied up at the top. I believe everyone should be able to contribute, but understand it is a more "enlightened" concept of Christianity, therefore all should know what exactly they are getting into when choosing to address said issues within this thread.

    v/r

    Q
     
  13. YNOT

    YNOT Zen philosopher

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    Re: Post-theistic Christianity

    I agree that this thread could be uncomfortable to many people. It is wise that we proceed cautiously. I think that this forum is a wonderful way to generate an ecclesia for the future that speaks to Christian and Non-Christian alike. I do hope that others do not mistake my enthusiasm for a re-interpretation of Christianity as a condemnation of the views of others.

    What does v/r mean?

    Peace and loving-kindness,
    Y:cool:
     
  14. Quahom1

    Quahom1 What was the question?

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    Re: Post-theistic Christianity

    v/r...very respectfully...;)
     
  15. YNOT

    YNOT Zen philosopher

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    Re: Post-theistic Christianity

    right back at ya'!;)
     
  16. YNOT

    YNOT Zen philosopher

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    Re: Post-theistic Christianity

    I've just remembered how Spong demonstrates how the synoptic gospels, as they were written chronologically, paint a picture of the divinity of Jesus that becomes more and more theistic. What he is suggesting is that a return to the roots of Christianity requires seeing Jesus as less a God and more of a God-presence.
     
  17. Quahom1

    Quahom1 What was the question?

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    Re: Post-theistic Christianity

    accepted.
     
  18. Quahom1

    Quahom1 What was the question?

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    Re: Post-theistic Christianity

    There is no way to generate an "ecclesia", based upon CR forums. This is a discussion board (lol), not a pulpit. No "following" will begin here. Are you sure that is what you meant?

    v/r

    Q
     
  19. China Cat Sunflower

    China Cat Sunflower Nimrod

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    Re: Post-theistic Christianity "Gnostic View"

    I've read most of Spong's books and I like what he's saying, but I have the nagging feeling that he's just peeing in the wind. I'm not sure Christianity can scrape off the two thousand years of theistic patina and still have any kind of institution left.

    The problem for me is trying to find a way to embrace Christ without having to compartmentalize my thoughts. I don't want two thought worlds: a spiritual one where the miraculous can happen, and a mundane one where it can't. Does that make any sense? I know that virgins don't conceive, people don't die and then come back to life, the sun can't stand still, mental illness doesn't come from evil spirits. I'm pretty sure that the gospels don't present history, and I know the OT doesn't either. I know that we are evolving as a species rather than devolving from some edenic state.

    I don't want to construct special theories to rationalize things that aren't rational. If I'm going to be able to embrace my Christianity it's going to have to be in a way where there is one world that's both scientifically and spiritually viable. I'm experimenting, but I'm not at all convinced it's even possible...especially as a "religion".

    Chris
     
  20. Quahom1

    Quahom1 What was the question?

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    Re: Post-theistic Christianity "Gnostic View"

    Well, that is a rather interesting way of putting things...
     

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