Bishop Spong

wil

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Letter and response from Spong. What I really like is his and many others interest in staying in their preferred church and opening eyes from within.
From: Bishop Spong Q and A <qna@johnshelbyspong.com>
Reply-To: qna@yournewsletters.net
To: kerrymelby@HOTMAIL.COM
Subject: Bishop Spong Q&A on January 3, 2007
Date: Wed, 3 Jan 2007 16:25:57 -0500


Valerie from Elgin, IL writes:
" I grew up ECLA Lutheran. My mother was raised Mennonite, which contributed pacifist beliefs. My father was an ordained Methodist minister but worked in a different profession. I married into a Lutheran family and my parents now worship at the United Methodist Church.


I tried very hard to 'make it work' in mainline Christianity. I read, Rescuing the Bible from Fundamentalism and that started me on the path of questioning everything. I've been working my way through all of your books and enjoying them quite a bit. Some of your sentences are so finely crafted and beautiful in their content. My mother and I constantly discuss your work. It is very difficult, however, to reconcile our newfound awareness
with our Sunday morning experiences. Certain statements, hymn lyrics or rites have to be outright rejected or translated in my mind. (I refused to allow the Creed at my daughter's baptism!)


I understand your desire for people to stay and fight for change within their particular churches, but that is like trying single-handedly to turn the Titanic around. I have only one life to live. I need to go where my soul is fed. I have recently found the Unity Church and started attending services. I am interested to know what your opinion is of the Unity Church.


P.S. I highly respect your opinion, but please do not feel that I am waiting for your answer in my decision to attend services. I do not mean to imply anything of that nature. "


..................


Dear Valerie,

Thank you for your letter and for your kind words. I am glad that you have found Unity. I think it is one of the most exciting movements within Christianity in the world today.


I had never heard of Unity until about ten years ago. While on a lecture tour of Alaska, I received an invitation to speak at the Unity Church of Anchorage. My response was that "these people don't know how to spell Unitarian!" I had, however, already spoken at the Unitarian Church in Anchorage, meeting there the Rev. Dr. Richard Gay who was, and is, one of the finest clergy I have ever encountered, so I was in some wonderment about what Unity was. I went and that was the first of many enriching experiences I have had with the Unity Movement across the United States and throughout the world.


Unity traces its roots to Mary Baker Eddy and what we once called the Christian Science movement. It has, however, evolved well beyond its origins. It is distinctively Christian but they have managed to escape the traditional Christian obsession with sin, guilt, rescue and control. They teach the goodness of God's creation, the capacity of human beings to grow spiritually and they avoid dated concepts like sacrifice and the sacredness of shed blood.

I have found their clergy to be bright, well trained, open and positive. Their Spiritual Center and Training School is in Lee's Summit, Missouri. The things that attract me to Unity are their dedication to education; the consistently high quality of their music; their commitment to affirm their children rather than to make them feel inadequate; their care for one another and the joy that permeates Unity worship. I don't know that Unity will be the future of Christianity but I do believe that the Christianity of the future will have many of the marks of Unity within it. I find that many people are like you, they discover Unity when they awaken to what Christianity can be and compare it to what they experience in many churches on Sunday morning.


I remain committed to reforming the church of my birth but I am deeply grateful for what Unity has done for me and for the way that Unity has enriched my life.


I wish you well on your journey.


-- John Shelby Spong
 
Don't take this as negative criticism, but my impression of Unity is that it's kinda like the last rest area on the highway out of organized religion town.

Chris
 
Don't take this as negative criticism, but my impression of Unity is that it's kinda like the last rest area on the highway out of organized religion town.

Chris
Perhaps, but I think this part alone says it all:
"It is distinctively Christian but they have managed to escape the traditional Christian obsession with sin, guilt, rescue and control. They teach the goodness of God's creation, the capacity of human beings to grow spiritually and they avoid dated concepts like sacrifice and the sacredness of shed blood."
In fact, with this as a cornerstone, it looks to me like they're about 98% there. As for the other 2%, I'll bet we could probably fudge it. And why not - everyone else does! :p

~Zag
 
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Don't take this as negative criticism, but my impression of Unity is that it's kinda like the last rest area on the highway out of organized religion town.
It is funny, Unity often claims to be without the dogma and ritual...but there is a lot of ritual in the services to me. Of course I was just at an Episcopal funeral...which gave me a taste of how much ritual there could be.

I quite enjoy the rest area...then of course I enjoy reading Spong as well. And as I don't have a 'church of my birth'...it fits quite well.

But as for the road out of organized I don't know, while the majority seats are full of former Catholics and Protestants they also contain wanderers who strayed away from Christianity a long time ago and are returning... I've also run into a number in my travels over the years who were Unitics for a number of years and then I suppose you'd say left the rest stop back in the other direction and headed back to mainstream Christianity...so there are two exits and two entrances on this rest stop...and no membership requirements...
 
Thanks for that note Wil.
I don't know if I am ready or willing, but it certainly sparked my curiosity, thinking more of unitarians, quackers and the like.
I suppose it does bring hope that you can meet with like minded people, or that there are other options out there.
 
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Oh, I see, you mean the Society of Friends? Like the mystic George Fox, and the group that reformed the way mental patients are treated and started hospitals?
 
Thank you for sharing that Wil, interesting.

Spong is really interesting and I think his radical message is important to hear even when he goes places I can't follow. One thing I like about the Episcopal Church is that he can boldly speak what he thinks, boldly claim his place in the Episcopal Church, and not be 'excommunicated.' It is a big tent.
 
I think there is room for all of us that believe there is room for all of us, but I don't think there is any room for those that think there isn't.

I prejudge prejudice people, am impatient with impatient people. It is something I need to work on.
 
"...they avoid dated concepts like sacrifice and the sacredness of shed blood ..."
These are two completely different things. Christ took away the stupid idea that God wants blood on the altar. God wants the sacrifice of what we most value: in those days a prime unblemished lamb worth a lot of money and a future investment.

God asks: give it to me. Not even to charity; kill it and burn it to ashes. Trust me alone. Let me take over completely.

So, if this bishop seems unable to grasp even this most basic concept of sacrifice, in all religions ...

Oh well
 
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"...they avoid dated concepts like sacrifice and the sacredness of shed blood ..."
These are two completely different things. Christ took away the stupid idea that God wants blood on the altar. God wants the sacrifice of what we most value: in those days a prime unblemished lamb worth a lot of money and a future investment.

God asks: give it to me. Not even to charity; kill it and burn it to ashes. Trust me alone. Let me take over completely.

So, if this bishop seems unable to grasp even this most basic concept of sacrifice, in all religions ...

Oh well

It's pretty clear that the Christian God has a huge problem with holding a grudge and unforgiveness. If that's not true then why was it necessary for Jesus die for something that God could have said, "no problem" I'm not a demanding or unforgiving God. When my family screw up I dont demand anything.
 
It's pretty clear that the Christian God has a huge problem with holding a grudge and unforgiveness. If that's not true then why was it necessary for Jesus die for something that God could have said, "no problem" I'm not a demanding or unforgiving God. When my family screw up I dont demand anything.
'He without sin cast the first stone.' The Christian God Christ chap who said that sort of stuff? Who preached the sermon on the Mount?

Sigh. Let it go ...
 
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Jesus ended all blood sacrifice by sacrificing himself he returned sacrifice to its original principle. He gave himself to God completely, and he let God take over completely. The mystery of the cross can't be explained by logic in a few words. Imo
 
'He without sin cast the first stone.' The Christian God Christ chap who said that sort of stuff? Who preached the sermon on the Mount?

Sigh. Let it go ...

Once we understand that The Gospels shouldn’t be interpreted literally we start to gain a greater understanding of the spiritual truths behind the words.

As far as I’m concerned its the spiritual truths found in the sermon on the mount that’s the real price, not whether or not it was a literal event, which most theologians don’t believe it was.
 
As far as I’m concerned its the spiritual truths found in the sermon on the mount that’s the real price, not whether or not it was a literal event, which most theologians don’t believe it was.

Well, a follower does need a religious master who embodies the teachings to follow, no? It seems like you're saying, "Hey, it doesn't really matter if Jesus existed or not; the story matters more than any said living person."
 
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