Essay Archives View as a list
1 January 2015: Part XXXV Matthew – Getting Back in Touch with our Source
I return this week to our study of Matthew’s gospel after a rather long hiatus, which allowed me the opportunity to address other pressing topics such as my visit to a Nazi Concentration Camp in what is now The Czech Republic, an analysis of the impact of communism on Eastern Europe and finally, what it …
Are you familiar with Phyllis Tickle’s book The Great Emergence and her analysis of where we are in terms of the 500-year cycle of “great” changes? Does it make sense to you? Does “Emergent Christianity” seem to be the wave of the future for faith? Will its impact be primarily on the established church or will it be a new form of faith altogether?
24 December 2014: A Letter to my Community of Readers
Dear Friends: As the calendar in the year 2014 dictates this column should arrive at your email address at about 2:00 o’clock A.M. Eastern Standard Time on December 25th. I have a fantasy that all of my east coast readers in the United States set their alarms for 2:00 A.M. each week so that they …
18 December 2014: “Fear Not” – The Message of Christmas in a Frightened World
Christmas will dawn in 2014 in a world gripped by a growing sense of fear. We have recently experienced that pervasive emotion in almost every phase of our life in the United States. The content of that fear has struck our citizens in successive waves: a possible worldwide epidemic, a renewed war in the Middle …
11 December 2014: Standing on the Boundary Between Death and Life. Charles Robinson 1931-2014 R.I.P.
His name was Charles. His wife of 57 years, and now his widow, was named Cynthia. He was a lawyer who, after ten years and with a wife and three small children, gave up the practice of law to follow his heart. He became an artist of some note and an illustrator of many books. …
Bishop Spong spoke at Clemson United Methodist Church in Clemson, SC. He asked if we had questions. We were to write them down and get them to him. Situations arose that prevented getting my question to him. This is my question, because it is a question that my granddaughter asks regularly: WHAT is God?
4 December 2014: Insights from Behind the Iron Curtain
I made my second trip in the last two years behind what was once known as the Iron Curtain recently. There I saw the impact of communism that had been imposed by force of arms on these countries. I also saw what has happened since communism’s fall in the latter years of the 20th century. …
I read your essays and have read some of your books and have enjoyed both. You certainly give us a lot to think about and a new way of viewing our faith, which I appreciate so much. However, I was wondering, given your analysis of our current liturgy, what would be your ideal look like for an Episcopal Eucharist? Would you start over and rewrite it completely or just replace some of the verbiage in some of the prayers/creeds?
27 November 2014: Do Our Seminaries Prepare Clergy for Today’s World?
Writing about the Theological School at Drew University this past week caused me to think about theological education in general and my own theological education in particular. I loved the experience I had at the Protestant Episcopal Seminary in Virginia (VTS), but a year after graduating I realized that the gap between what my seminary …
I have read your book Eternal Life: A New Vision with great interest and have found in it much to which I can relate. Apart from a brief mention of childhood prayers (which frightened you because of their association with death) you do not say whether we should pray to this God of yours whom we should strive to find deep within ourselves. Theologians like John Bowker, however, hold that prayer is essential and holds the key to growing into a knowledge of God – whatever we mean by that term. Your thoughts on this subject please.
From time to time, I have an experience inside organized Christianity that is filled with such excitement that it creates in me the hope that there might be a genuine future for the Christian faith. Most frequently this experience takes the form of hearing that someone with some authority within institutional Christianity actually sees, actually …
On your recommendation, I read Carl Jung’s book, The Answer to Job, and as you said, it is a difficult book – the language is not the easiest nor is the conclusion. What comes across to me is that the God portrayed has some really big issues with his self-image. Since your recommendation was a response to my question if God has both good and evil, then must I conclude that the divine encompasses both? Yet, you often refer to God as the source of love, but isn’t it the hard truth that God is also the source of hate and evil? Perhaps the unique thing about being human is that we can actually choose which of God’s qualities we nurture. I think there is an Indian saying that the side of God (good/evil) that becomes the strongest in you is the one you feed. So my belief is that our quest is maybe to give God the answer God cannot give to Godself – namely which of God’s sides is the better one? I can see that this is perhaps the conclusion that Jung drew. God needs man and woman to become human – not the other way around.
13 November 2014: On Visiting a Nazi Concentration Camp
In early October of this year, Christine and I had the opportunity to visit a concentration camp at a place called Theresienstadt in what is now the Czech Republic. This camp, known as Terezin, was run during World War II by the Prague Gestapo. Terezin was not normally the final destination of the Jews sent …
After reading your moving and poetic answer in Q&A 9-25-14, to the question from Ed Branthaver: "Are you an atheist?” I couldn't help but revisit definitions of pantheism, theism, deism and atheism. In all your writings you show how supernatural theism has been utterly demolished by the rise of Western science, but you state that you continue to believe in God so you are not an atheist. You are very conscious to reflect modern human understanding and cite Copernicus, Galileo, Newton, Darwin, Freud and Einstein in describing your approach so that it resonates with educated people. Belief in a God by nature and reason, however, is deism and here I am reminded of perhaps George Washington and Thomas Jefferson, two men of the Enlightenment. Then your beautiful phrase, "I believe I walk in God and with God and that God lives in me and through me," reminds me of Luke 17:21: “The kingdom of God is within you.” Here I note a hint of pantheism there in that God is within us. You conclude that our God language must become less concrete and more mystical." So, as I grapple with everything you say, I still perceive deistic-pantheistic-mystical elements in your thinking. You have, however, characterized it differently, which I respect. All this aside, you believe in God. What I think many readers - and certainly this 46 year old active Episcopalian - would LOVE to hear from you is why you think God exists. I often wonder if you just skip over this in your effort to dissuade us of theism. Growing scientific understanding aside, at your core, what moves you to belief in God? What gives you that primal confidence in the existence of God in the midst of all these reductions or re-crafting of theological understanding?
6 November 2014: Part XXXIV Matthew – The Transfiguration of Jesus, Part III
A Dedication-Hanukkah Story How many of you have ever connected the story of Jesus’ transfiguration with the Jewish celebration of Dedication/Hanukkah? We may well have imagined it as almost anything but that. Some New Testament scholars have suggested that the transfiguration story was a “misplaced” resurrection narrative. They cite as evidence for this conclusion that …
Having read all of your books, I feel at ease now with the discomfort I have felt during many church services over many years. With the Bible stories revealed as myths with underlying truths, how can one be sure that Jesus Christ himself was not a myth? At the moment, I feel a discomfort in even asking that question. On the other hand, apparently Pope Leo (1513-1521) is quoted as saying “It has served us well this myth of Christ.”
Last week we traced the origins of the Jewish festival known as “Dedication,” but in our day popularly called “Hanukkah.”. It celebrated the moment when a guerilla army of Jewish people, led by man named Judas Maccabeus, dealt a series of hammer-like blows to the army of the Syrians led by their king, Antiochus Epiphanes …
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: