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A New Christianity for a New World: Why Traditional Faith Is Dying & How a New Faith Is Being Born (2002)

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Description

In his bestselling book Why Christianity Must Change or Die, Bishop John Shelby Spong described the toxins that are poisoning the Church. Now he offers the antidote, calling Christians everywhere into a new and radical reformation for a new age. Spong looks beyond traditional boundaries to open new avenues and a new vocabulary into the Holy, proposing a Christianity premised upon justice, love, and the rise of a new humanity — a vision of the power that might be.

Reviews

Amazon.com’s Best of 2001

Christianity will not be a viable belief system for honest people in the contemporary world, writes John Shelby Spong, until it drops a few outmoded ideas–for instance, belief in a supernatural God who reveals Himself from outside creation. A New Christianity for a New World continues the work begun in Spong’s bestsellingWhy Christianity Must Change or Die, in which the former Episcopalian bishop diagnosed Christianity’s major problems. Here, he offers a vision of what authentic Christian belief might look like today, stripped of theism and all its corollaries (doctrines such as the Trinity, the Incarnation, and Atonement). Christians may come to believe that “God is beyond Jesus, but Jesus participated in the Being of God and Jesus is my way into God.” Readers inspired by Dietrich Bonhoeffer’s tantalizing writings on “religionless Christianity” in Letters and Papers from Prison and by John A.T. Robinson’s Honest to God will find much challenge and comfort in Spong’s New Christianity, his most mature and most radical book. —Michael Joseph Gross

From Publishers Weekly

Religious reformer Spong builds upon the program he initiated in Why Christianity Must Change or Die as he outlines what he believes is an authentic faith for a new millennium. Taking cues from the works of John A.T. Robinson, Dietrich Bonhoeffer and Rudolf Bultmann, Spong proclaims that theism the view that a supernatural deity creates and provides for humanity is merely a “human coping device, created by traumatized self-conscious creatures to enable them to deal with the anxiety of self-awareness.” The theistic God, for Spong as for Freud and Feuerbach before him, is nothing but a projection of our own desires and wishes. Since the theistic God was a construct that helped humans cope with their anxieties, the hysteria and trauma rampant in our society today is proof, says Spong, that the theistic God has died. But once theism is extinct, many of the central ideas of conventional Christianity, such as original sin, the incarnation and the Resurrection, tumble into uselessness. Spong’s “new Christianity” is rather old, though. Just as in 19th-century theological liberalism, Jesus is god-presence and god is the ground of all being. Moreover, Spong recycles the central ideas of his previous nine books. At worst, this is an uninspiring and unoriginal tract for a formless and meandering quasi-spiritual life. At best, however, Spong openly reveals his honest struggles to fashion a living faith that transcends what he sees as the sterility of the Christianity in which he was formed.

Copyright 2001 Cahners Business Information, Inc.

From Library Journal

In what he claims to be his parting manifesto, Spong, the former Episcopal bishop of Newark, NJ, saves his sharpest salvos for organized religion in general and Christianity in particular. Arguing for the full humanity of women, gays, and other disenfranchised groups, Spong continues arguments begun in earlier works (e.g., Why Christianity Must Change or Die), striving to improve upon his previously vilified or misunderstood ideas, such as the figurative nature of the Passion, the death of theism, and various dogmas and creeds that fall under the “theistic firewall of [religious] hysteria.” Still, he doesn’t anticipate much clerical support; he speaks instead to “the ordinary people whose name is legion” and is somewhat defensive in tone. As with his previous works, faithful folk will struggle with the radical nature of his vision, laboring to see what is fundamentally Christian in his Christianity. Loyal Spongians will welcome the conversation, but foes will be further infuriated. Purchase accordingly. Sandra Collins, Duquesne Univ. Lib., Pittsburgh

Copyright 2002 Cahners Business Information, Inc.

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