Shuck and Jive

Thursday, September 29, 2011

Great Lecture By Bishop Spong on Death

We watched this lecture by John Shelby Spong on his new book, Eternal Life, A New Vision: Beyond Religion, Beyond Theism, Beyond Heaven and Hell.

He fought with his publisher over the title which he doesn't like. The subtitle is his. The publisher wanted "Eternal Life."

It is a great lecture and I especially enjoyed the Question and Answer. We are going to watch more of his videos as we make our way through his book in our book study group that has a place waiting for you.

Here are Bishop Spong's Twelve Theses for A New Reformation

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.


  1. Here's an argument for consideration. I'll start by saying I agree with Spong that "theology" needs to invent new language. But Spong himself is trapped in the necessity to use "god-talk." For example, see especially his theses numbers 7 and 12.

    Spong has an idea of what he means by “God” – I’d like him to spell that out so that he doesn’t seem to be defeating his own arguments here.

  2. You raise a good point. I have no idea what point 7 means.

  3. Just a quick point....The video link in you post connects to one of the four talks Spong gave at the Chatauqua Institute. All four are available on Foratv.