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    • John Shelby Spong
    • John Shelby Spong, whose books have sold more than a million copies, was bishop of the Episcopal Diocese of Newark for 24 years before his retirement in 2001. His admirers acclaim him as a teaching bishop who makes contemporary theology accessible to the ordinary layperson — he’s considered the champion of an inclusive faith by many, both inside and outside the Christian church. In one of his recent books,The Sins of Scripture: Exposing the Bible’s Texts of Hate to Discover the God of Love(San Francisco: HarperOne, 2005), this visionary thinker seeks to introduce readers to a proper way to engage the holy book of the Judeo-Christian tradition.

      A committed Christian who has spent a lifetime studying the Bible and whose life has been deeply shaped by it, Bishop Spong says he was not interested in Bible bashing. “I come to this interpretive task not as an enemy of Christianity,” he says. “I am not even a disillusioned former Christian, as some of my scholar-friends identify themselves. I am a believer who knows and loves the Bible deeply. But I also recognize that parts of it have been used to undergird prejudices and to mask violence.”

      A visiting lecturer at Harvard and at universities and churches worldwide, Bishop Spong delivers more than 200 public lectures each year to standing-room-only crowds. His bestselling books include Rescuing the Bible from Fundamentalism, A New Christianity for a New World, Why Christianity Must Change or Die, and Here I Stand.

      Bishop Spong’s extensive media appearances include a profile segment on 60 Minutesas well as appearances on Good Morning America, Fox News Live, Politically Incorrect, Larry King Live, The O’Reilly Factor, William F. Buckley’s Firing Line, and Extra. Bishop Spong and his wife, Christine Mary Spong, have five children and six grandchildren. They live in New Jersey.

John Shelby Spong: Separating the Fourth Gospel

John Shelby Spong gives an introduction and brief explication of his 5 day lecture series hosted by the Department of Religion, in the Hall of Philosophy.

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John Shelby Spong – The Judeo-Christian Faith Story: How Much is History?

“I am one priest and bishop in the church who is no longer willing to read [the Bible] through stained glass lenses,” Bishop John Shelby Spong said. That might as well be the man’s mantra, and this lecture exemplifies why.

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John Shelby Spong – The Mother of Jesus: A Symbol of Judaism

John Shelby Spong explains how the 4th Gospel creates a symbol from the presence of Christ’s mother. This is the fourth lecture of a five lecture series.

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John Shelby Spong – Johannian Characters: Literary Creatures

John Shelby Spong continues his 5 day lecture series. He explains the colorful characters who hold dual purpose in the fourth Gospel.

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John Shelby Spong: The Cross in John: Not Tragedy But Triumph

John Shelby Spong concludes his five day lecture series by explaining the Crucifixion in the fourth Gospel. This event was hosted by the department of religion and took place on June 27, 2014.

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John Shelby Spong: Fourth Gospel Warns Against Literal Reading

John Shelby Spong explains the importance of reading the 4th Gospel with out being a literal. Hosted by the Department of Religion, this event is part 2 of 5 and was held on June 24, 2014.

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Bishop Spong on Coming to Self Awareness- Video

Join Ian Lawton, founder of Soulseeds.com, for transformative conversations with renowned spiritual leaders from many traditions as we explore awareness.

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Question and Answer with Bishop Spong- Integrity of Belief

How do you speak with integrity of belief when your audience is seemingly traditional and literal?

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America’s Health Care Debate and What it Reveals

The idea that a few of the Congressional majority would actually force America into default and bankruptcy, bringing on, the Europeans feared, a world wide depression in order to stop people from getting health care, left them disillusioned with America’s political leadership.

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A Manifesto! The Time Has Come!

I have made a decision. I will no longer debate the issue of homosexuality in the church with anyone. I will no longer engage the biblical ignorance that emanates from so many right-wing Christians about how the Bible condemns homosexuality, as if that point of view still has any credibility. I will no longer discuss with them or listen to them tell me how homosexuality is “an abomination to God,” about how homosexuality is a “chosen lifestyle,” or about how through prayer and “spiritual counseling” homosexual persons can be “cured.” Those arguments are no longer worthy of my time or energy. I will no longer dignify by listening to the thoughts of those who advocate “reparative therapy,” as if homosexual persons are somehow broken and need to be repaired. I will no longer talk to those who believe that the unity of the church can or should be achieved by rejecting the presence of, or at least at the expense of, gay and lesbian people. I will no longer take the time to refute the unlearned and undocumentable claims of certain world religious leaders who call homosexuality “deviant.” I will no longer listen to that pious sentimentality that certain Christian leaders continue to employ, which suggests some version of that strange and overtly dishonest phrase that “we love the sinner but hate the sin.” That statement is, I have concluded, nothing more than a self-serving lie designed to cover the fact that these people hate homosexual persons and fear homosexuality itself, but somehow know that hatred is incompatible with the Christ they claim to profess, so they adopt this face-saving and absolutely false statement.

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Bishop Spong Live Stream- November 22, Friday 8pm

Austin, TX. The Bailey Lectures this weekend at All Saints’. With Bishop Spong.

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Honest Prayer, Parts 1 and 2

Jeff Procter-Murphy of Living the Questions Interviews John Shelby Spong

Bishop Spong shares an early experience in ministry that helped redefine his understanding of the practice of prayer.

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Bishop John Shelby Spong, “Why Christianity as We Know It is Dying”- Sermon Video

This is Bishop Spong’s first lecture in the “Future of the Progressive Church” conference held on August 3, 2013 at the Community Christian Church in Springfield, MO

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“What a New Christianity for a New World will Contain”- Sermon Video

This video is the second of Bishop John Shelby Spong’s lectures at the “Future of the Progressive Church” conference held on August 3, 2013 at the Community Christian Church in Springfield, MO.

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SYRIA, POISON GAS, MISSILE STRIKES AND PEACE?

It has been both an emotional and a political roller-coaster. The television newscasters and the print media informed us that a political debate was underway as to whether or not the armed might of this country should be used to punish the Syrian government for violating the universal condemnation against chemical warfare that has governed the world since the horror of gas in the trenches in World War I. Pictures were released of small children, who had been the victims of sarin gas. The pictures were chilling. I enquired of a medical expert about the effects of sarin gas on the human body. He shuddered even to talk about it. His sentences were short and declarative. “It is deadly.” “There is no protection.” “Suffering is intense.” “Death is inevitable.” For almost one hundred years, despite brutal wars, both worldwide and local, with weapon enhancements like atomic power and cruise missiles, the prohibition against chemical warfare has still been generally adhered to by the nations of the world until this moment. Now the Syrian government has breeched this taboo, in an action widely believed to have been ordered by its president, Bashar al-Assad. I did not disagree with the official statement of facts and yet the debate itself struck me as deeply irrational.

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Lectureship that Challenges What is, in the Name of What Can Be

21st century Christianity is thus wedded to the world view of its 1st century scriptures, its 4th century creeds and its 13th century liturgies. Consequently Christianity presents itself to potential modern believers encased in a series of doctrinal and liturgical forms, undergirded by a theological point of view that communicates almost nothing to those people who gather in church to worship. Why is there any surprise that the number of worshipers is in steep decline? Modern Christianity offers only two alternatives. The first is to close our minds to the explosion of knowledge in order to build a protective fortress around the religious formulas of antiquity.

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Meaningful creeds for the 21st Century- Q and A with Bishop Spong

John Shelby Spong Question & Answer

Nina Brock from Ovando, Montana, writes: Question: Your comment in a recent column about Paul not being able to say the Nicene Creed prompts a question. We attended your week long seminar in Berkeley, CA, last summer …

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The Fourth Gospel: Tales of a Jewish Mystic

Now Available in Paperback!

The Fourth Gospel was designed first to place Jesus into the context of the Jewish scriptures, then to place him into the worship patterns of the synagogue and finally to allow him to be viewed through the lens of a popular form of first-century Jewish mysticism.

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Can Christianity Survive the Prejudice of Christians? A Revolution in Faith and Ethics

“Can Christianity Survive the Prejudice of Christians? A Revolution in Faith and Ethics” presented by John Shelby Spong from Vann Center for Ethics on Vimeo

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Emerging Christianity: Growing into Spiritual Adulthood

Hosted by Kathy Kirk

Rarely is the Bible perceived as a tool of transformational change; yet it is. As humanity moves deeper into a time of conscious awakening, traditional Bible interpretations become stepping stones illuminating paths of greater understanding. The special guest for this program is Bishop John Shelby Spong.

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Burke Lecture: John Shelby Spong

A pre-eminent voice for liberal Christianity, John Shelby Spong was the Bishop of the Episcopal Diocese of Newark for 24 years before his retirement in 2000. His admirers acclaim his making contemporary theology accessible to the ordinary lay person—he’s considered a champion of an inclusive faith by many both inside and outside the Christian church.

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Looking at Christmas Through a Rear-View Window

It still has magic power. Across the Western world hearts beat lighter during the Christmas season, generosity expands and romance overflows its normal boundaries. 

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The Origins of the New Testament, Part II: Dating the Jesus of History

The events in the life of Jesus of Nazareth did not happen in a vacuum, nor are these events history as history is now defined.

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The Origins of the New Testament, Part XX: Seeing the Crucifixion as Related Liturgically to the Passover

The overwhelming probability is that the familiar details of the cross are not the result of historic memory at all, but are rather liturgical interpretations of who it was who died on the cross and what his death meant. A quick analysis of the details from this narrative reveals that they were drawn not from the memory of eye witnesses, but from the scriptures of the Jewish people, primarily from Psalm 22 and Isaiah 53. So even the central story of the final events in Jesus’ life now looks more like the work of an interpretative imagination than it does the work of a historian.

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The Sins of Scripture: Exposing the Bible

The Bible contains many passages that believers and nonbelievers alike would recognize as appalling theology. Whether these texts are used to discriminate, oppress, or condemn, they distort the truth of Christianity and cast doubt upon the love …

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A New Christianity for A New World: Why Traditional Faith Is Dying and How a New Faith is Being Born

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.

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Jesus for the Non-Religious

Writing from his prison cell in Nazi Germany in 1945 Dietrich Bonhoeffer, a young German theologian, sketched a vision of what he called “religionless Christianity.” In this book, John Shelby Spong puts flesh onto the bare bones of Bonhoeffer’s radical thought. The result is a strikingly new and different portrait of Jesus of Nazareth—a Jesus for the non-religious.
Spong invites his readers to look at Jesus through the lens of both the Jewish scriptures and the liturgical life of the first-century synagogue. Dismissing the dispute about Jesus’ nature that consumed the church’s leadership for the first 500 years of Christian history as irrelevant, Spong proposes a new way of understanding the divinity of Christ: as the ultimate dimension of a fulfilled humanity. Traditional Christians who still cling to dated concepts of the past will not be comfortable with this book; however, skeptics of the twenty-first century will not be quite so certain that dismissing Jesus is the correct pathway to walk. Jesus for the Non-Religious may be the book that finally brings the pious and the secular into a meaningful dialogue, opening the door to a living Christianity in the post-Christian world.

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The Study of Life, Part 5. My Search for the Meaning of Life as I Walked in Darwin’s Footsteps

In the preparation required to write my new book on eternal life, I soon discovered that this subject raised all of the contemporary theological issues that threaten to destroy Christianity as we have known it. It was clear that I would have to turn the traditional religious approach around. I had to read the modern critics for whom the religious concepts of the past make no sense. I also had to come to a new understanding of what life itself means. Life after death cannot possibly be contemplated until one understands the wondrous and even mysterious dimensions of life before death.

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The Virgin Mary is No Wonder Woman

Who was Charles Moulton? His name is not a household word but his creation is. Moulton is the man who in 1941 launched the career of a comic strip character who was know as Wonder Woman. Moulton was a psychologist. He was also the inventor of the lie detector. In an autobiographical note in the Wonder Women Archives Vol. 2, he describes himself as “an early feminist,” who believed that “a woman’s rightful place was as a world leader, not servant or helpmate.”

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Terrorism and the Democratization of War

At the end of the Cold War, the United States, for the first time in history, had the only remaining first-rate military capability left in the world. We had the mightiest Navy ever to roam the seas, a supreme Air Force, the ever-prepared Marines, and the world’s largest and most mobile land army, all of which were equipped with pinpoint missiles and atomic weapons of mass destruction. No nation would dare to challenge such an arsenal. That was the hope and the dream. From our vantage point 10 years later, one can only wonder what happened to that dream. Welcome to the world of terrorism and suicide bombers.

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