Eternal Life: A New Vision: Beyond Religion, Beyond Theism, Beyond Heaven and Hell

Drawing on a lifetime of wisdom, New York Times bestselling author and controversial religious leader John Shelby Spong continues to challenge traditional Christian theology inEternal Life: A New Vision. In this remarkable spiritual autobiography about his lifelong struggle with the questions of God and death, he reveals how he ultimately came to believe in eternal life.


Product Details

  • Paperback: 288 pages
  • Publisher: HarperOne; Reprint edition (October 5, 2010)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 0060778423
  • ISBN-13: 978-0060778422


Editorial Reviews

From Publishers Weekly

In this challenging, intellectually rigorous culmination of his body of theological work, retired Episcopal bishop Spong (Jesus for the Non-Religious) provides a lucid historical analysis of the development of human religious thought from the onset of self-conscious awareness to the present, and a compelling argument for the creation of a new religious paradigm. Offering deeply personal reflections on his own Christian journey and priestly career, Spong reviews a lifetime of passionate engagement with biblical study and with questions of faith, charting his growing discomfort with language that seemed limited, falsifying and inadequate. Arguing that modern scientific understanding necessitates dismissing outdated metaphors and assumptions by which faith seeks to calm human anxiety, Spong suggests an understanding of God not as a person, but as the process that calls personhood into being. Spong’s examination of the gospel resurrection accounts includes an intriguing interpretation of John’s portrayal of Jesus as a being so courageously present that he was open to the ultimate reality of life, love and being. This work, bound to be influential, offers new insights into religion’s big questions about life and death, making an invaluable contribution to both religious scholarship and faithful exploration. (Sept.)
Copyright © Reed Business Information, a division of Reed Elsevier Inc. All rights reserved. –This text refers to an out of print or unavailable edition of this title.


“In Spong’s perpetual quest for truth and knowledge, he has transformed the enigmatic cosmic energy of the ‘big bang’ into an afterglow of human hope for the ages.” (Daniel H. Gregory, M.D., Senior Attending Physician, Bassett Healthcare)“Fear of death is the most fundamental fear of human existence. The only way it can be conquered is through knowledge and experience of your eternal being. Eternal Life: A New Vision is elegant invitation to find this part of yourself and be liberated.” (Deepak Chopra, author of The Third Jesus)“His courage, candor and intense awareness are unique gifts to people both inside and outside Christianity at this critical time in human and planetary history.” (Matthew Fox, author of Original Blessing)“This work, bound to be influential, offers new insights into religion’s big questions about life and death, making an invaluable contribution to both religious scholarship and faithful exploration.” (Publishers Weekly)

“Spong has spent his life and work making sense of this most fundamental human issue . . . His fans will find this spiritual autobiography fascinating, but so, too, should anyone interested in the still uncomfortable topics of death and mortality.” (Booklist)

“With subtlety and complexity, Spong promotes an idea of an ongoing existence beyond our physicality, one that entirely supercedes “religious” notions of Heaven or Hell and even conventional notions of God . . . Spong’s writing here as elsewhere is intelligent, engaged, comforting, and uplifting. ” (Library Journal)

“Spong once again puts his intellectual money on common sense . . . Religion’s purpose, he claims, is “security, not Truth” – a key insight that demands, in turn, a set of wholly new visions. . . . Spong . . . [is] a unique visionary.” (St. Louis Post-Dispatch)

“John Shelby Spong, the reinterpreter of Christianity for the doubtful, retired as the Episcopal bishop of New Jersey in 2001 but not from his religious provocations. . . . People have to get beyond the idea of God as a heavenly judge who hands out rewards and punishment,.” (Atlanta Journal-Constitution)

“Eternal Life: A New Vision doesn’t actually give us a clear vision of eternal life at all. Spong would never do that…. Instead he frees us to dream a dream of what life, eternal or otherwise, might be.” (Central Coast Express)

“Spong invites us to engage the questions, to revel in the mystery, and finally to find our place within God’s place, our time within God’s time, and our life within God’s life.” (Anglican and Episcopal History)

eternal life Spong

Review & Commentary

One thought on “Eternal Life: A New Vision: Beyond Religion, Beyond Theism, Beyond Heaven and Hell

  1. Review

    The one Spong book you MUST read!
    By Don Smith
    Format: Paperback

    OK, let’s set the record straight: I’m a progressive Christian – I’ve read (and enjoyed) even Gretta Vosper’s book (With or Without God) – and I’ve read most of Spong’s bestsellers. I’ve always LOVED Jack Spong as a preacher and have been privileged to hear him speak in person a half a dozen times. As an author, I would have to say that he has his moments (Here I Stand, Why Christianity Must Change or Die and A New Christianity for a New World are excellent) but, in general, if I rate his speaking as an A+, some of his books get an A but often only a B or C.

    The very cool thing about Spong’s books is that they track his own personal growth in knowledge and, dare I say, enlightenment (for lack of a better term). This gives his books a personal touch which, for me, allows me to see the depth dimension of his being – something which many authors keep well hidden. Recent books by folks like Elaine Pagels (Beyond Belief) and Bart Ehrman (Misquoting Jesus) reveal the personal spiritual sides of the authors and I appreciate that greatly. It’s not like you’re reading some dispassionate objective dissertation – it makes the material live and breathe.

    With that as background, if you’re still reading, here’s the review:

    In his latest book, Eternal Life: A New Vision, Jack Spong’s life work dedicated to finding meaning in the Christian tradition blossoms fully and completely by transcending it (but not abandoning it). In some of his early books, he shows the flaws apparent (should I say “obvious”) in human-made Christian institutions and doctrine, yet, offers little to give us hope or meaning in their absence. Eventually, in other books, Spong leads us into the understanding that to be fully human (live fully, love wastefully, be all that you can be) is to catch a glimpse of what it means to be divine. In ETERNAL LIFE, he finally (as if the universe was waiting for him to figure it out – wink) pulls it all together and offers a vision which transcends religion itself and encourages us to enter into a new way of being – in relationship with each other and the universe – thereby experiencing eternity NOW.

    You’ll have to read the book to get the details, but I was VERY impressed with the way he tied together all his previous thinking and made this leap to, what I consider, a new level of consciousness and awareness. Don’t let this talk about transcendence, consciousness and awareness make you think that Spong has gone “NEW AGE”. LOL. Far from it. It’s a personal, well-reasoned and easy to understand story of his own emerging thought and how we might do something similar in our lives.

    One thing which surprised me about the book is that he ends up in a place that Thomas Berry and Brian Swimme are at as well, WITHOUT referring to them at all. I have great respect for all three authors and am glad that they are reaching a sort of conjunction in their thinking.

    HIGHLY RECOMMENDED for anyone interested in Spong, progressive Christianity and the emerging universal consciousness.

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