Why Christianity Must Change or Die: A Bishop Speaks to Believers In Exile

An important and respected voice for liberal American Christianity for the past twenty years, Bishop John Shelby Spong integrates his often controversial stands on the Bible, Jesus, theism, and morality into an intelligible creed that speaks to today’s thinking Christian. In this compelling and heartfelt book, he sounds a rousing call for a Christianity based on critical thought rather than blind faith, on love rather than judgment, and that focuses on life more than religion.

 

Product Details

  • Paperback: 288 pages
  • Publisher: HarperOne; Reprint edition (April 21, 1999)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 0060675365
  • ISBN-13: 978-0060675363

 

Editorial Reviews

Amazon.com Review

John Shelby Spong is the Episcopal Bishop of Newark, New Jersey, and has enjoyed a career filled with controversy, much of it thanks to his many bestselling books, such as Born of a Woman, Living in Sin?, and Liberating the Gospels. He has tapped into an audience of people who are at once spiritually starved and curious, yet unwilling or unable to embrace Christianity.

Spong refers to himself as a believer in exile. He believes the world into which Christianity was born was limited and provincial, particularly when viewed from the perspective of the progress in knowledge and technology made over the past two millennia. This makes any ideas or beliefs formulated in 1st-century Judea totally inadequate to our progressive minds and lives today. So Spong is in exile until Christianity is re-formed to discard all of the outdated and, according to Spong, false tenets of Christianity.

He begins his book by exposing the Apostles Creed line by line, then methodically moves on through the heart of Christian belief, carefully exploring each aspect, demonstrating in each case the inadequacies of Christianity as detailed in the Bible and in the traditions of the Church. The epilogue includes Spong’s own creed, recast to reflect the beliefs he considers relevant to Christianity at the end of the 20th century.

Oddly enough, Spong’s views do not seem particularly new. In fact, his views seem very much in keeping with the religious humanist variety of Unitarianism. What is remarkable is not the beliefs themselves, but that an Episcopal bishop would be the one to embrace and espouse them. Spong has become a trumpeter in the battle of beliefs, not just in the Episcopal communion, but in the realm of Christian faith in general in this country. His books are bestsellers and are in turn, presumably, read by those who, whether they agree or disagree, all acknowledge that in some way, Spong is involved in setting the agenda. This book, as the admitted “summation of his life’s work” tells every reader what the complete agenda will be, for the next few years at least. –Patricia Klein –This text refers to an out of print or unavailable edition of this title.

 

Review

“Bishop Spong is a passionate, illuminating original. His knowledgeable concern for the future of Christianity offers strength, hope, and theological solutions.”

– — Clarissa Pinkola Estés, Ph.D., author of Women Who Run with the Wolves, The Gift of Story, and The Faithful Gardener

“Should be required reading for everyone concerned with facing head-on the intellectual and spiritual challenges of late-twentieth-century religious life.”

– — Karen L. King, Harvard Divinity School

“Spong demolishes the stifling dogma of traditional Christianity in search of the inner core of truth. This book is a courageous, passionate attempt to build a credible theology for a skeptical, scientific age.” — Paul Davies, author of The Mind of God

“This is an important contribution to the Christian dilemma of our time. With reverence, courage, and compassion, Bishop Spong helps his readers to articulate their difficulties with the conception of God and, in so doing, to take the first step toward a creative resolution.” — Karen Armstrong, author of A History of God

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