Essay Archives View as a list
4 August 2011: The Lecture Tour of Germany, Part II: Gottingen
My lecture tour of Germany was joined from the very beginning by a unique Frenchman named Raymond Rakower, who accepted Gerhard Klein’s invitation to come to Germany and to accompany us. Gerhard Klein has been the translator into German for four of my books. Ray Rakower was his French counterpart, who has translated two of …
28 July 2011: The Tragedy in Norway and Its Meaning
My heart aches for Norway. I have visited that country where I lectured in a large Lutheran Church in downtown Oslo and admired some of Norway’s most creative clergy. I have also felt the reaction of Norway’s ecclesiastically conservative Christian leaders who seem to believe that preserving yesterday’s truth, not engaging the world, is their …
21 July 2011: Our Political Debate – A National Embarrassment
Either those who now run the legislative wing of our government are irresponsible and frivolous with this nation’s health and well being or there is something I do not understand about the current crisis in Washington. I am both amazed at and disgusted by the behavior of some of our elected representatives. Let me test …
Earlier this summer as part of a European lecture tour, Christine and I went to Germany for three public lectures in three cities and two press interviews. The invitation to include Germany on this trip came from a retired Lutheran pastor named Gerhard Klein, who has translated four of my books into German, which have …
My mother and I had the honor of meeting you at the National Cathedral some five years ago and the reason I am writing to you now is that we are watching a special on John Wycliffe and we really rely on your knowledge. What is your view on him? What to believe or not? I think though he had gone through a lot of courage trying to translate the Bible into English, in the 1500’s if I am not mistaken. This book sure does get a lot of attention no matter what one’s beliefs are. Thank you for your time. I hope this finds you well.
Something happened at the first Easter. Some insist that it was an event that occurred on a single day. Others suggest that an experience was identified with that day making it a symbol of a breakthrough to a new consciousness. Theologians and biblical scholars alike still debate whether it was an internal or external happening, …
I've read Rescuing the Bible from Fundamentalism and am now reading Jesus for the Non-Religious In chapter one of Jesus for the Non-Religious you wrote "The religious debate in our time results rather from the exploding new horizons of learning that have re-shaped our perceptions of reality, coupled with a new biblical scholarship that previously had not been allowed to escape the academy for fear that it might erode the confidence of the people who sit in the pews" Having been raised Catholic, I can remember sitting in the pews during mass and reflecting on how little the mass involved the Bible - three brief passages, the same ones every year - and thinking that if the Bible is the word of God, why the church didn't do more to engage its parishioners in biblical history and education. So, I'd like to find out more about deliberate efforts to keep people in the pews - the lay person - from biblical scholarship that "previously had not been allowed to escape the academy."
30 June 2011: Examining the Meaning of the Resurrection, Part V: The “How” Question — What Was the Context in Which Easter Dawned?
We come now to our fourth and final question in search of the meaning of Easter. Then with clues, hopefully well established, I will seek to draw some conclusions in the final column in this series. We have thus far identified Simon Peter as the person who stood in the center of the resurrection experience …
The Wyoming legislature is considering laws that would make it illegal to apply Shariah laws in our courts. That is incredibly stupid, I know, but apparently that movement is sweeping the country. Seems to me that since those espousing such laws say they are like Old Testament laws and a few years ago we had Christian Reconstructionists wanting to make Old Testament law the law of the land. Comments for your articles?
23 June 2011: Examining the Meaning of the Resurrection, Part IV: What is the Meaning of Three Days?
First, we asked who stood at the center of the Easter experience and Peter emerged from our study as the one in whom the meaning of resurrection dawned. Then we asked “where” Peter and the disciples were when Easter broke into their consciousness and our study led us to the primacy of the Galilean tradition …
I have read four of your books since December 23 and feel a guilt-free spiritual awakening. Raised Episcopalian, I had to leave out most of the words in the creeds when omitting the words I believe. You bring the spirit rather than just the letter of the law and explain inconsistencies beautifully. I feel as if I can talk with fundamentalists now when promoting social issues, especially relating to the environment and women. Thank you so much for your risky writing.
16 June 2011: Examining the Meaning of the Resurrection, Part III: Where Were the Disciples When They Saw?
When people have a life-changing experience, they tend to freeze in their minds forever where they were and even what they were doing when the news broke or the new awareness entered their world. I can recall to this day where I was when, as a ten-year old child, I heard the news of the …
Have you come across a book called The Jesus Mysteries? I think it makes a very good case for the possibility that Jesus as a man never actually existed. For one thing it is surprising that such a remarkable person has no mention at all in any writing of his time. (Of course, he would not have been called Jesus, which is a Greek name, more likely Joshua. If he was real why was he not given his true Aramaic name?) Second, it would not be surprising if one (the writer of Mark’s gospel) was writing a myth, that he would set it a few decades in the past so that it would not be so easy to refute. Third, it would account for the other gospels being different, as each elaborated a further fiction. Fourth, it would entirely account for the references back to the Old Testament prophesies, as the story was written around them. It does appear that Saul (aka Paul) had set out to replace Judaism with a religion to which others in the Roman Empire could also belong. I realize that after a lifetime of biblical study, you may find it hard to accept this possibility. Perhaps that could be the big secret that the Vatican has hidden all these years?
9 June 2011: Thoughts on the Future of Christianity After a Conversation with the Founder of the Alban Institute
Several weeks ago I had the opportunity to have lunch with the Rev. Dr. Loren B. Mead, known to many of you as the creator of the Alban Institute. A think tank operation, funded largely over the last fifty years with grants from major foundations, the Alban Institute has studied and made recommendations on every …
I’ve been reading your book Liberating the Gospels. Your well supported hypothesis that the gospels are midrashic stories that cast light on the core stories of Jesus as they were understood at the time makes perfect sense. I find it interesting that with the four gospels, the writing gets better with each one, Mark through John. My problem is that Jesus is a “character” different in the mind of each evangelist, who does things essentially made up by the writer, perhaps some based on a verbal tradition, perhaps not. My question is how do I get closer to understanding Jesus as a person? Or is it a matter of always “seeing through a glass darkly? I’m at the point in your book where you discuss the Gospel of John, which brings up the memory of when my New Testament professor, Sherman Johnson, listed 13 reasons supporting the idea that John was the earliest gospel.
1 June 2011: Examining the Meaning of the Resurrection, Part II: Who Stood in the Center of the Easter Breakthrough?
We begin our probe into the meaning of the Easter moment by asking who it was who stood in the center of the Easter experience. People do not always recognize that the claim of revealed truth requires both a revelation and a receiver of that revelation. The revelation may be of a timeless truth, but …
I recall reading recently a request from a follower asking if you have ever considered producing a TV program. Frankly, I don’t think a TV program is effective for “this form of teaching/lectures.” However, over the last month I have discovered an excellent educational organization, The Great Courses. I do not know what business conditions apply to producing lecture/courses for them (the religion courses that I purchase are all presented by excellent lecturers, including Professor Amy-Jill Levine, Professor Bart D. Ehrman and Professor Emeritus James Hall.) Although I’m almost certain that a Bishop easily qualifies as a professor equivalent. Regardless, I am certain that your courses would outsell almost all of its contemporary (traditional) religious programs-and I would be one of your biggest customers. Anyway I wanted to pass this information along. Their website is at www.aboutgreatcourses.com.
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: