- By John Shelby Spong

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

  • Title: Why Christianity Must Change or Die: A Bishop Speaks to Believers In Exile
  • Author: John Shelby Spong
  • ISBN: 9780060675363
  • Page: 377
  • Format: Paperback
  • 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 morali

    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 tAn 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 than religion.

    1 thought on “Why Christianity Must Change or Die: A Bishop Speaks to Believers In Exile

    1. William James would say that the reason I like Bishop Spong so much is that because he reconfirms all of my already existing prejudices. But this book rang like a revelation to me. At a time when I continued to be disillusioned with the Christian church, yet was beginning to despair that I would find anything else spiritual that would be truly meaningful to me, Bishop Spong opened a door and told me that it was okay to go back inside. That the fundamentalists don't own Christianity. That I could [...]

    2. This book changed my life. I "searched" for it for years, stuck in the middle between my beliefs and the control and manipulation I felt from the fundamentalist church I was raised in. Determined not to "throw the baby out with the bathwater," I kept searching. I stumbled across this book at a bookstore. I had never heard of it or of John Spong. I have since read almost everything Spong has written and been privileged to meet him and hear him speak on several occasions. He is brilliant. He is th [...]

    3. This is an amazing book! Yet, for the "traditional" Christian believer, it is probably too heretical, so be forewarned. For me, though, I appreciate Bishop Spong's careful parsing of theistic Christianity and his alternative espousal of the nontheistic view. Frankly, it's his willingness to be open and honest about the "cracks in the foundation" of traditional religion that is one of the most compelling features of the book. Its most moving one, though, is his passionate exposition of the nonthe [...]

    4. Interesting book, but I couldn't buy the author's incredible premise, but I did finish the book. Seems to be a case of wanting one's cake and eating it, too. I prefer the argument that CS Lewis made in Mere Christianity, when he wrote about people who say: "'I'm ready to accept Jesus as a great moral teacher, but I don't accept His claim to be God.'" Lewis said: "That is the one thing we must not say. A man who was merely a man and said the sort of things Jesus said would not be a great moral te [...]

    5. This sounds like the handbook of an atheist, but it's not. Read this book if you've ever felt or wondered about the conflict between Christianity and science and how we might resolve it.[return][return]The book speaks to those who feel they are in exile from Christianity, but even if you don't identify with that (such is the case with me) or consider yourself a Christian, you will enjoy it. If nothing else, it helps to articulate the problems you might have noticed with today's version of Christ [...]

    6. Seek ethics. Review truer intention. I was raised Episcopalian. My Grandmother gave me her copy a couple years back when she came to visit me in Alabama. She insisted I read it to find comfort. We spent hours on the porch reading together in the mornings over Earl Grey tea, lightened with rice milk and raw sugar before work.I am proud she introduced me to this radical mind, a bold read for a traditional, upper class Bermudian immigrant in her early 80's. I treasure her penciled underlines and do [...]

    7. In this book, Bishop Spong has written what can be considered his comprehensive case for the reformulation of Christian beliefs. However, it's also the comprehensive showcase of his blind egotism. His ideas and reasoning is shabby and aggressive to say the least (and I say this as someone who loves Marcus Borg and John Dominic Crossan), his interaction with Christian history is an embarrassment (particularly when he called Galileo "not very courageous" for recanting), and his self righteous atti [...]

    8. Like Crossan, this former Episcopal Bishop still considers himself Christian but doubts the fundamental creeds. His doubts are very well founded, but I can't understand why he remains Christian. OK, I actually get it -- he has a lot invested. That is why MOST remain Christian or never doubt.I lost a girlfriend and all my guy friends from my Christian days after I deconverted. Then I had to eat crow with my family. And I have to tip-toe in my professional life in the nomimal Christian society whe [...]

    9. This book was wonderful. I had unanswered questions and felt guilty for questioning. I no longer question. Bishop Spong explains with love and devotion how one can have questions and still be a believer.I've read it twice.Going through the rest of his collection and rereading.I reread to refresh my memory and instead it refreshed my soul. :)

    10. I was initially drawn to this book by Spong's use of exilic metaphor to describe the faith journey of Christians who no longer feel at home in institutional Christianity. He is a sincere and passionate thinker I appreciate much more now that I've read some of his work. I was particularly intrigued by the chapter "The Meaning of Prayer in a World with No External Deity." The title is a little melodramatic. "Christianity" is very diverse, and forms of it are quite robust. These forms aren't threat [...]

    11. John Shelby Spong is a brave man, sharing the truth of his own journey in the world of Christianity. A retired Bishop of the Episcopal Church, he understands well how fearful & unmoving an institution can become. He understands that he treads in dangerous waters when dealing with deep-seated beliefs, dogmas & fears within the Church at large, yet he carves a path of forward thinking & does so with loving & visionary clarity.Christianity, as with all the great sacred institutions, [...]

    12. this was intersting. Bishop John Shelby Spong discusses how the concept of a personal God (theism) has become obsolete in our modern society. He describes how advances in science such as astronomy and evolution have proven that the Bible cannot be true. He describes himself as a "believer in exile" telling the story of the Jewish city of Jerusalem in ancient times. The Jewish people in Jerusalem had their faith centered on the city, they believe that God had blessed them and was maintaining thei [...]

    13. If any book was going to turn me into a Christian, it would have been this one. Spong presents a Christianity that is scientifically tenable, does not raise disturbing questions about the morality of God, and is immune to the question of why evil exists in the world. He does this by treating God as an impersonal pan*theistic force and Jesus as one who was more in touch with this force than any other. All of us -- he says -- can be in touch with this God.This all seems like mysticism light, which [...]

    14. This book speaks directly to where I am after almost 60 years of active church membership as a Southern Baptist, United Methodist, and Episcopalian. For the first time in my life, I am not an active part of the church; I am, as Bishop Spong states, a "believer in exile." I have come to doubt the existence of a theistic God who resides "up there." I have been seeking a reinterpretation of the life of Jesus. And, most recently, as a person of almost constant prayer, I have wondered if praying make [...]

    15. I LOVE THIS BOOK! Even after reading it the first time, I always keep it readily available to reread a chapter or two as a refresher. In this day & age, there is way to much UNSUPPORTED info about religion that people swallow up like candy without further thought or investigation (which REALLY bugs me). This is a scholarly approach by a very a christian bishop. Like everything else even religions are heavy in politics & the TRUTH vanishes. Don't fall for that! USE YOUR BRAIN! This book i [...]

    16. First, Spong is not for everyone. Readers will find him an in-your-face radical who challenges traditional concepts of God and truth and even reality. Second, this is a brave book, worth reading for its thought provoking ideas. But if your mind is already made up you should avoid this book.

    17. If I didn't have people that I respect who thought this was a worthwhile book, I would have put it down after the first chapter and been just happy with not having spent anymore time with Spong. As it is, I'll concur with his premise, so long as the Christianity he wants to change is the one he describes. I don't recognize the Christianity he is attacking, and wouldn't even begin to call what his suggestions for change "Christian". His complaints about the Creed sound like Philosophy 101 student [...]

    18. I have mixed feelings about this book. On the one hand, I agree with much of Spong's thinking. On the other, I didn't think this was a great book. The title points out one of the problems. "Why Christianity Must Change or Die" seems to address itself to the Church, as though it will point out issues for the Church to work on. "A Bishop Speaks to Believers In Exile" suggests that it will speak to those who already understand why Christianity must change. The bulk of the book raises issues and que [...]

    19. Spong is expert at pointing out much of what should be changed in Christianity and why. However, I can't buy his ultimate remedies. I also think Spong comes across as bitter at times that more of Christianity has not come closer to some of his views. I share his frustration but I don't think it's quite as tragic as he seems to make it in this book.Spong serves well as a watchdog of some of the abuses and craziness in our faith, but I wouldn't look to him as being one to provide effective solutio [...]

    20. This book may be hard to swallow for many literal or conservative Christians. It is possible that they can get mad. However, the book has a point. Literal and conservative Christians also may want to read this book and get ready to answer the questions that this book raises. The authors calls for critical thought rather than blind faith. Many young people leave church when these questions linger in their mind and they want good answers. This book does not offer good answers either, however.

    21. The Christianity formulated in a 1st century desert is totally inadequate to life after two thousand years of progress in science and knowledge. Spong details the inadequacies of Christianity and its traditions.

    22. Be prepared Christians to have your principals of belief brought into the 21st century. Really thought provoking and "real"!!! A heavy but great read

    23. This will be the last Spong book I read. I just don 19t think I can take it anymore. This book is basically the same rehasing of Rescuing the Bible From Fundamentalism in terms of backward liberal apologetics. The only positive note that I can think to mention (just to be nice) is in his reflections of heaven in the next to last chapter. He basically asserts there that in modern Christian thinking about heaven is a notion often goes unspoken. His conclusion of this is that to people 1CHeaven has [...]

    24. I was raised Baptist, dunked at the age of 10 or 11, and felt a “calling” around 13. But as I read more and more scholarship, I fell out with the “institualized” church because I could not believe the Bible as the literal word of God as promoted by the Southern Baptist Convention. (This change was mainly brought about by a bit of evangelical propaganda against the Mormon church, in which the writer pointed out all the difficulties with the Book of Mormon. I don’t think the writer antic [...]

    25. This book made me wonder if I'm not as theologically progressive as I thought I was. It's a challenging read–partially because of the author's writing style and partially because of his views–and one that requires patience and open-mindedness. Spong spends the first half of the book essentially deconstructing Christianity before making much of effort to reconstruct it. I can easily see why he's such a controversial figure. There were many times when even I became miffed at his arguments. Ult [...]

    26. Bishop Spong worked with John A. T. Robinson, who wrote a book in the 1960s called Honest to God. I've read that and loved the idea of non-theism. Bishop Spong takes that book and runs with it. This book was published in 1998 and was something I would have easily dismissed a few years ago, but now it is putting language to my thoughts. He continues the dismantling of a 3-tiered universe God and shows how that plays out in various activities: worship, prayer, communion, and the church calendar.Bi [...]

    27. Excellent on deconstruction of tradition but I found myself wanting more on the reconstruction. This will likely be true for anyone who is not in the same "place" as author and should be noted as a problem for reconstruction - that non traditionalists can still have differing perspectives on reconstruction and should be church together to grow into the future in a big tent that allows much room for divergence. Spong is very open to otherness but doesn't specifically address how "open" reconstruc [...]

    28. This bishop focuses on looking at God in a non-theistic way encouraging us to look at Jesus as a man who did great things. That he alone was godlike in his treatment of others and we too can be a part of the greater meaning of God within each of us. This book gives you a good idea of how we can still be a part of spirituality without following many of the old outdated ways. It also examines whether or not you can still hold on to some of the traditions without theism. I do not know if I'm open e [...]

    29. This is what happens when a thoroughly rational and deeply spiritual person decides to write a book on just those two, oftentimes, conflicting attributes.

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