On Baptizing Hadden
12 July 2012: 9 Comments »
It is a rare treat in the life of a bishop in general and in the life of a retired bishop in particular to participate in a pastoral act like a baptism. It normally has to come at the invitation of a family member or a very close friend. Seven years ago I married a …
Question & Answer
This is not a question, rather a message of appreciation of what you have achieved for one family. My wife and I were hugely encouraged and relieved to read your book, Rescuing the Bible from Fundamentalism after it was published. I have attended most of your public lectures in Hamilton. As a Methodist Lay Preacher for 50 years and also a Presbyterian elder (for reasons of geographic location, I have been involved with farming all my life), I used to struggle with much of the doctrine I was taught. I was, however, fortunate to have clergy of progressive thinking to stimulate and encourage the questions. However, the main point of this note is to tell you that my 97 year old mother is still probably the most radical member of our family. Each of your newsletters I print in a bold 20 font so she can read them. At 90 she said, I am glad to have lived this long because I keep learning more and more. In the 60’s she was the first to read J. A. T. Robinson with the encouragement of our then minister Rev. Dr. (now Dame) Phyllis Guthardt. During World War II, she and my father were persecuted for their Christian pacifist stand, so she knows what fires of faith mean. Today, I received an e-mail from one of our sons who is a PhD in engineering, was NZ young manager of the year some years ago and was recently made redundant when the government dept he headed was amalgamated with another. His comments reflect I believe many of our younger generation, in Richard’s case he has found a church where his intelligence and leadership skills are appreciated and his beliefs stimulated. Your newsletter he refers to is the one concerning Barabbas. I send these on to all of my family.
“Always a delight to read and see what a truly clear mind and impeccable scholarship can bring to scripture. I always feel like slapping my head and crying “How obvious, when Spong lifts the scales from my eyes. Thanks for keeping me in touch with someone (like you and Mum) who makes me proud to call myself a Christian.” - Love, Richard
Some time ago when I was being interviewed on a radio station in Johannesburg, South Africa, the interviewer asked me what country I would most look forward to visiting again and I replied without hesitation, New Zealand. We have been there on nine different occasions and treasure the friends we have in that country, starting with one who is almost a national monument, Dr. Lloyd George Geering, who was one of the original voices of progressive religious thought in the world and who paid for it by being put on trial for heresy by the Presbyterian Church in New Zealand. Dr. Geering was exonerated, but the Presbyterian Church was revealed as so limited and closed-minded that it has never been the same since.
New Zealand surely has it share of small-minded religious zealots and one of them follows me around when I’m there and hands out tracts to those attending my lectures so that they will be able to resist “the onslaught of the Devil.“ I am sure that he thinks he is serving God and the cause of truth, but any God who has to be defended by that kind of person is clearly sick unto death.
New Zealand’s Anglican clergy have also included some great leaders. I think of Paul Reeves, David Coles, Dean Peter Beck of Christ Church and Glynn Cardy, the vicar of St. Matthew-in-the-City in Auckland. There were, of course, other Anglicans who will die of boredom long before the courageous ones die of controversy.
When I think of New Zealand, I think of things like beautiful landscapes, Kiwi fruit and Kiwi birds, ripe avocadoes picked off the tree and spread on toast for breakfast, the Franz Joseph Glacier, the Abel Tasman Park, the Milford Track, a wonderful international religious leader in the world council of Churches, named Dr. Brash, now deceased, and his two children, Don and Lynn, now themselves impressive adults and last but not least two of our closest personal friends, Geoff Robinson, the voice of New Zealand, and his wonderful wife Liz, who is a theological rebel with a cause.
Thank you for your letter and please give my love to your 97-year-old mother.
~John Shelby Spong
Read what Bishop Spong has to say about A Joyful Path Progressive Christian Spiritual Curriculum for Young Hearts and Minds: "The great need in the Christian church is for a Sunday school curriculum for children that does not equate faith with having a pre-modern mind. The Center for Progressive Christianity has produced just that. Teachers can now teach children in Sunday school without crossing their fingers. I endorse it wholeheartedly."
Login to be able to comment directly on the website. Join in the discussion!
Thank you for taking this journey with us!
Any questions or concerns, please contact us at firstname.lastname@example.org or 503-236-3545.
In Need of a Good Word?
We encourage you to show your support for positive and progressive Christian views by becoming a part of Bishop Spong's growing online community. You'll receive a new column each week on topics in social justice and spirituality that matter most.
Free Q&A Email
Sign up for Bishop Spong's FREE weekly Q&A email.
Looking for something special? Search here:
Browse by Date
Browse our monthly archives: