Dominus Iesus: The Voice of Rigor Mortis

The Vatican's exclusionist document exposes a hierarchy that refuses to face reality


04/10/2008 06:48:54 AM

Thanks 2 Bishop Spong for giving me the desire 2 actually read "Dominus Iesus".I'm not sure what his gripe is with the Church.The document says it's restating Catholic Doctrine and not addressing the idea of unity.Can I get mad at the Catholic Church for believing it's the descendant Church of Christ?"DI" says on p.1 that the Church agrees that it shares a ray of truth even with non-Christian churches.I wonder if you considered that perhaps your tirade against the Catholic Church puts in the same position that you claim they take against everyone else.You say the Church is ignorant, embarassing, irrelevant, ludicrous,waning &unintellectual,dead,absurd,foolish,&etc.Are you responsible for helping peace & unity or is it your mission from God to stir the pot and build a wall of division?What if the Church had labelled your Church in the same manner you have them!?The speck and the beam,dear Bishop and BIC It may be time to get rid of that giant Catholic chip on your shoulder.


02/03/2006 12:51:24 AM

Dear Poor Bishop Spong, Domine Iesus is a beautiful, charitable statement of Truth. Do you Bishop Spong really believe that the teaching of the Church on the Virgin Birth before the 18th century was based on the lack of understanding the scientific mechanisms of conception?? Do you think that if God used evolution to create man's body that he is therefore ipso-facto incomplete or that the fall into original sin could not have occured. Do you think that scientific understanding of the atmosphere surrounding th earth mitigates belief in the ascension. Ha ha ha


04/25/2005 03:56:03 PM

Well put.


04/25/2005 12:07:27 PM

If there is any church going into rigor mortis it is Spong's church which promotes to the episcopacy a man who threw his wife and kids on a rubbish pile to make room for a male lover in his bed. Thus it is no surprise the Episcopal Church is shrinking like the proverbial snowball in hell. Meanwhile the Catholic Church set a new record for adult converts this past Holy Saturday (with almost 20% of dioceses to still report) as the Catholic Church still gains far more members than it loses to "the world, the flesh, and the devil."


04/24/2005 12:05:26 AM

tdogg18 wrote: For starters, preaching how the Nicene Creed is not valid. That seems pretty automatic for disqualifying someone from christian authority. Says who? Who says I can no longer believe in Jesus Christ because of some awful politicians masquerading as people of faith i.e., the Nicene pretenders? How anyone can bind themselves to this blind tradition of believing the Nicene Creed should be the seventh wonder of our time.


04/23/2005 11:17:26 PM

For starters, preaching how the Nicene Creed is not valid. That seems pretty automatic for disqualifying someone from christian authority.


04/21/2005 02:02:24 PM

TDogg13--Bishop Spong lacks credibility? Is that because you don't agree with his view of the Bible? Just wondring like GodintheTV.


04/21/2005 12:32:36 PM

Spong lacks the credibility to be a christian authority on issues of faith. How, and for what reasons?


04/20/2005 10:47:19 PM

Whether or not I am the right person to respond on this, I do not know. I do know this though. Spong lacks the credibility to be a christian authority on issues of faith.


04/20/2005 07:11:49 PM

The "Dominus Iesus" states what the Conservative Roman Catholics believe. If they didn't keep their power and control over their "Sheep" they would stray and perhaps let their love for a non-catholic person come between the Church and their control. Their religion if lived the way the new Pope proclaims is a divider of men and women. It's a divider between families of Roman Catholics and other Religions. In the late 40's my brother turned Catholic to marry his lovely wife and I was not allowed to be one of the bridesmaids at my one and only brothers wedding, because it was High Mass. Try explaining that to a sixteen year old. I haven't lost sleep over this, but I have never gotten over the hurt.


04/20/2005 07:59:04 AM

Welcome to a new age of global religious conflict - Naqoyqatsi - war as a way of life. By asserting the "one true" anything, one says that the rest are lies. Which means that anyone who is not just like you is somehow less than you - and you can do whatever you want to them. Forget peace. Without justice, there is no peace. Without compassion, there is no justice. Without empathy, there is no compassion. How can you have empathy for someone or something that is less than you and whose beliefs are lies? By electing the Ratzinger to the papal seat, the Cardinals of the RCC have declared war on all other modes of spiritual thought. God help us all.


04/19/2005 03:08:20 PM

What a shock! The Pope proclaims that only the Roman Catholic Church has the fullness of the truth and is the only path to salvation! One wonders what will happen next! Maybe President Bush will say that he thinks America is the greatest country in the world! Or the CEO of G.M. will say that he thinks everyone should drive a Chevy! Horrors! Sheesh, people, do you really expect the Pope to say that he *doesn't* believe that the RCC is the only true Church? Get a reality check.


07/12/2002 03:43:51 PM

P.P.S. It seems rather arrogant of Pope John Paul II to declare that the RC church is the only way to god. I understand the church mythology holds that Peter was the first Pope and Christ appointed him so, but certainly actual history does not confirm this at all. The RC church is nothin more than an extension of Roman or Latin culture and society from which it sprang. The RC church is no more related or similar to early Christianity than say Methodism.


07/12/2002 03:38:05 PM

P.S.-I was raised Catholic and I am ashamed of the the Dominus Iesus. It speaks to the darker side of humanity, namely it shows a profound intolerance which tends to divide humanity rather than unite it. I think Bishop Spong is absolutely correct.


07/12/2002 03:37:28 PM

In response to domer1976, I would say that "Divine truth" is in fact relative. Assuming that "divine truth" exists, we can only grasp and interpret it through the limits of human perception. Perhaps that is why there are so many religions in the world, each equally valid. I think what Bishop Spong is trying to argue (not just in this article) is that we must look beyond our own particular belief systems in an effort to bring humankind closer together. Bring in the disparate elements of humanity. The "Dominus Iesus" stands in contravention to the ideal of bringing humanity closer together. By declaring that there is only one way to god and that is through the Roman Catholic Church, it excludes all other possibilities for humans express a belief in god or a religion in general.


06/20/2002 11:58:03 AM

Mr. Spong complains that "(Christianity)is not yet the faith of the majority of the earth's population and in fact today has a declining percentage of that population", and lays blame at the feet of the Church. I fail to see the relevance of the number of believers in Divine Truth as expressed by the Church. When Jesus came to us, he was the ONLY human believer in the Divine Truth we now embrace. Does that make it somehow less truthful? If Britney Spears declares herself a goddess and attracts billions of believers to the "Church of Britney", does that mean she holds the key to Divine Truth? Again, Mr. Spong argues the Church is erroneous because it's not contemporary or responsive to changes in secular society. I fail to see how these criticism's relate to the Church's mission to espouse the truth.


06/20/2002 11:53:33 AM

I'm not a theologian, but the obvious error in his criticism of Roman Catholic theology is contained in his own words: "This document admits to no cultural shaping and to no relativity of truth that is so obviously present in all classical Christian doctrines." I would respond that the thruth, especially Divine Truth, is not relative. Divine Truth is absolute and immutable, though secular society strongly prefers the concept of "relative" truth. Frankly, I find Mr. Spong's views utterly preposterous.


06/15/2001 10:21:31 AM

Priam said: "Random evolution as a source of life has already been disproven through irreducable mechanisms and by the second law of thermodynamics (entropy)." Wrong. The 2nd law of thermodynamics says (basically): In a closed system, the entropy increases with time. Since the Earth is not a closed system, this law can not prevent evolution. See Talk Origins Archive, especially this file. Mike Rosoft


05/11/2001 08:39:44 AM

I would rather follow the Church of John Paul 11 , the Church founded on Peter by Jesus Christ than follow a heterodox Bishop in the category of Bishop Pike etc of the Episcopal Church . When we are all in Rigor mortis ,Bishop Spong and including myself, the Catholic Church will continue as so promised by Christ Himself when he declared " Go ye therefore and TEACH all nations...Behold I shall be with you till the end of times. This Church guided by the Shepherd " Feed my Lambs, Feed my Sheep has the ability to renew itself thru the Paraclete and in fact has this "outlandish" claim to Authority to be Christ representative on Earth and his Teacher ( Magisterium). In the story, wherein Jesus walks on the water and Peter does likewise but falters and starts sinking , Peter among all the spostles is SINGULARLY is written in the Bible as faltering down BUT Christ lifts and helps him from his faltering predicament.


05/08/2001 07:15:56 AM

I think it's important to note we can't believe what Roman Catholic conservatives, like Ratzinger and Bethel are saying about Dominus Iesus. I have good sources on this. These conservatives are suggesting the document says there is no salvation outside of the Roman church and that it does so "politely." Nothing could be further from the truth. In fact, there was a Bishop in the 11th Century who was silenced for saying this. The document says can experience Jesus "more fully" through the Roman church in the sacrements. Bethel seems to suggest the document give Roman Catholics an excuse to look down their noses at everyone else. This misses Jesus' message, in my view.


02/28/2001 04:31:44 PM

When the Church has in fact acted as a political body and given into political fadism, it did things like censor Galileo and Darwin. If the Church remains apart from politics and unapologetic in its wisdom, it can be freed from errors and more elegantly exercise that infallibility it possesses by virtue of God's blessing.


02/28/2001 04:30:11 PM

The Church should do all in its ability to avoid becoming a cultural sponge. Modern trends can easily taint theology with fadism. In this way "Dominus Iesus" is a way of preserving "unam sanctam" ecclesiam. If indeed you do see truth more clearly, there is no reason to hedge simply to be P.C. No, if you see salvation more clearly and God's lordship, then you should be proud to proclaim it and announce it. The modern trend of political correctness should be purged from the Church, which should express its vision of Truth freely, although indeed with more humility.


01/03/2001 10:26:46 PM

Random evolution as a source of life has already been disproven through irreducable mechanisms and by the second law of thermodynamics (entropy). Priam, You haven't checked into this board for awhile but, hoping you might, here is a question. Entropy, as applied in thermodynamics, is the quanity of energy tht is unavailable for work. How does this apply in an assessment of evolution, either pro or con?


12/22/2000 06:28:31 PM

If people do not follow Bishop Spong it's because they cannot accept the truth. They want to continue to live in their fantasy world.


12/22/2000 06:27:02 PM

I believe in fusing religion and science and concern for humans with the most solid basis for environmental ethics. The universe is divine and nature is sacred. Life is not a path to somewhere else: It is the destination. The reward of a good life is a good life itself... Fundamentalist societies who follow the leader inevitably suffer from corrupt and poverty stricken societies. Just look at Latin America then and now, and Southern Europe before WW2 and compare it to N. America and western society where free enterprise, literacy and freedom of religon was accepted and encouraged. Who has more to eat? Whose children survived? Everyone has a right to pursue happiness.


12/22/2000 06:21:12 PM

Fundamentalism is dangerous. It is rigid and uncompromising. Bishop Spong does not choose to believe in the fantasies of Church built on a NT filled with errors. Those who do have not examined the Bible critically. It's always easy (but childish) to believe in faery tales.


11/30/2000 02:00:05 PM

Watson, Please come and join us on the Anglican/Episcopal boards


11/27/2000 09:51:06 PM

Priam,a famous Jewish sage that simply to exist and to live is a miracle.


11/23/2000 09:48:42 AM

Miracles as a myth? Many people have experienced them. This includes myself and various people I know. Some of them extraordinary some of them small. How one deny miracles such as what occurred in Fatima in front of 70,000 witnesses? Although it would be unwise to base my faith on miracles, I just look at them as signs from God.


11/23/2000 09:44:23 AM

Watson, you just reiterated some of Spong's spiel in his column on the left. ;) Random evolution as a source of life has already been disproven through irreducable mechanisms and by the second law of thermodynamics (entropy). If you do believe in an all powerful omnipotent God as a creator, then it is not a far stretch to believe in the virgin birth, resurection, and ascension. If you do not believe this as a basis, then there is not much left. Throwing in Copernicus and Newton is irrelevant in that their work is nothing contradictory to Christianity. You are confused in that the word does not try to explain science. Newton was a devout Christian and he said his work in mathematics and physics was "studying God's rules". Copernicus was employed in the Canon and had full support of his uncle who was the Bishop.


11/22/2000 11:38:50 PM

I guess from what I said in my previous two postings, I'm not a Christian either, huh. I don't recall a single quote in the Bible saying that one has to believe it is literally true. I do recall Jesus saying to love God with all your heart, soul, mind, etc., and to love your neighbor as yourself. I sense no love in the attcks on Spong, not to mention academic merit. I only sense hostility and hatred.


11/22/2000 11:18:22 PM

(continued from last posting) Spong never denied the resurrec- tion. He only denied the physical resuscitation of Christ. That also assumed a pre-Newtonian world of miricle and magic. The ascension assumed a three-leveled universe which is not compatible with a post-Copernican universe. And finally, to quote one of Spong's 12 theses, "The biblical story of the perfect and finished creation from which mankind has fallen into sin is pre-Darwinian mythology and post-Darwinian nonsense" It's true that evolution is a theory, but the Creation is a MYTH. The Creation is not a scientific conclusion like Evolution is.


11/22/2000 11:09:55 PM

Priam, If you want me to elaborate on Spong's "loony" ideas, ok, I will. Many accuse Spong of not being a Christian becaus he doesn't believe in the virgin birth, resurrection, ascension, or that God created Earth and humans. The virgin birth stories of Matthew and Luke are two differnt stories which have contradictions. They also assumed a pre-Newtonian world of miricle and magic and that conception was done by a man planting his seed in a woman to grow. We know that both are not true today. (to be continued...)


11/22/2000 05:13:37 PM

Watson, if you are going to speak in his defense then do so. You have not elaborated on any of Spong's loony ideas as of yet. I would like to ask you what do you mean by "irrelevant"? Roman Catholics and orthodox Protestants are growing in numbers. In the Roman Catholic Archdiocese of Newark, the number of Roman Catholics have grown by more then 30% over the last 30 years. In contrast, Spong's Episcopal Diocese has shrunk by less then half over the last 30 years. What kind of hope did Spong provide for all those who abandoned his church?


11/21/2000 12:17:35 PM

After all the unbelievable vilification Bishop Spong has received, I feel compelled to speak in his defense. One should note that the hostile vilification he receives comes from a minority of people who are part of an increasingly irrelevent "Christian" minority. However, he provides hope for those people who have abandoned Christianity, because they finally come across someone in the clergy who can simply tell it like it is. Spong is, in no way, trying to destroy Christianity by undermining biblical literalism: He's trying to reform it. Thanks to him, I honestly believe that one can be a Christian and be a sceptic and religious pluralist at the same. Thanks to him, I'm a Christian again and I plan to go to seminary once I graduate college. God bless Bishop Spong.


11/18/2000 08:06:26 PM

"But even if we or an Angel from heaven should preach another gospel than what we have preached to you, let him be accursed". Galatians 1:8 I wonder how Spong is going to answer the Lord on that Final Day? When He asks what did you do to my gospel? I agree Spong is most definitely NOT a Christian! You can be a bible believing Christian and be an Anglican too!


11/15/2000 11:31:57 AM

Get over yourself, lots of us certainly are.


11/15/2000 10:37:15 AM

dgallaugher, You are correct. I have posted my conclusions about Spong so many times on other boards that I simply didn't have the energy (or space) to do it again. We have had considerable discussions about him and his books on the Anglican/Episcopal boards. They are much more reasoned and developed than you find in these sideboards. Peace.


11/14/2000 11:38:53 PM

tarrantf, your cautions have reason to them. But do you realize that your three-part post consists entirely of pulling people back from their conclusions, while never drawing any conclusions yourself? Caution has its value, but also its limits. Our Lord was not cautious when he talked back to the religious leaders of his day, or broke social barriers, or overturned the tables in the Temple, or marched toward his death--his Passion--on the cross. Spong's books were helpful to me during a period of strong doubts--they confirmed what I was seeing, and that I wasn't alone. I theorized that he wasn't as extreme as he seemed, but "dressed in doubt" to better identify with people in my situation. My theory was damaged when he spread around his extreme "Theses." Then it shattered when I read his 1999 diocesan convention speech: on his own turf and preaching to the choir, all he could do was attack traditional Christianity and push his agenda.


11/14/2000 03:07:52 PM

(part 3) Only time will tell if Spong has been the cause of his own diocese's shrinkage. Only time will tell if Christian liberalism is really dying. Numbers are deceptive whether they increase or decrease, and I would argue that Church growth is a very poor litmus test for right and wrong. Human beings are not always drawn in mass numbers to that which is good. These side boards are so seductive: we hurl insults and sweeping judgements, yet never discuss anything of substance. I must be a masochist because I keep coming back. How utterly meaningless.


11/14/2000 03:07:11 PM

(part 2) Spong obviously has a lot of faults--I do not support him uncritically. I happen to think he is dead wrong about the R.C. dying. I also think he has made very poor choices in his adoption of such an arrogant and harsh voice in many of his Beliefnet columns. He knows just how to push emotional buttons, and he exploits this to the detriment of his ideas. His books present a more balanced tone. It seems to me, however, that most of you who vilify him so strenuously refuse even to consider the possibility of something good coming from him. The alarming loss of membership in the Newark diocese is not necessarily the result of Spong's leadership. At most it is circumstantial evidence. There are lots of reason people have left the Episcopal Church, and Spong is but a drop in the bucket. (end part 2)


11/14/2000 03:06:45 PM

Ann, Rave, et. al., You persist in distorting the controversies of the Lambeth Conference with simplistic accusations of racism. Are you not able to look at the context of the arguments that led to their heated exchange? Do you not understand the hostile, spiteful condemnation leveled at the Episcopal Church by those same African bishops you cite as having been wrongly insulted by Spong? Can you seriously continue stating that Spong insulted these poor innocent people merely because they disagree with him? Has any of actually read transcripts of the argument, or do you merely repeat hearsay ad nauseam? Can you argue critically without resorting to sweeping, all or nothing judgements? (end part 1)


11/14/2000 01:59:48 PM

Rave- You mentioned Spong's racist remarks about the African Anglicans who disagreed with him about homosexuality in the Anglican Church. It is a sad comment on his career,considering that he had been in the civil rights movement and befriended Desmond Tutu,hoping for an end to apartheid. But now he insults Africans who think homosexual acts are immoral.


11/14/2000 06:49:21 AM

Gandhi once said, "All the world would be Christian if you Christians were more like your Christ." (Or something like that--I've heard several wordings of what I assume is the same quote.) We Christians fail. Christ never fails. Christ: Yesterday, Today, Forever!


11/14/2000 03:51:00 AM

But if Christianity were obviously THE path of light and hope and truth and happiness, wouldn't people gravitate to it when they started seeking, whether they had had prior 'guidance' or not. If people are confused and lost in a country with as many Churches as America, it is a sign that Xianity has lost it's ability to mediate the upwelling of the divine within.


11/13/2000 06:59:02 PM

hm2menger you have every right to agree with Spong. However, most critics who reject Christian beliefs and hope for it's demise at least come from outside the church. Catholicism in particular is growing. This is especially true in Africa and in Asia. Even in the USA, church attendance among Catholics has grown. What is dying is liberal protestantism. As it was pointed out earlier Spong's own diocese has shrunk by more then half. Looks like a lot of people there are taking his advice. Yes, neo-pagan beliefs are becoming more popular. Most adherents tend to be lost, confused souls who did have not have any spiritual guidance in their own upbringing and are looking for meaning, something to fill the void.


11/13/2000 06:43:36 PM

I happen to agree with Mr Sprong. I feel that Christianity in general and Catholism in particular ARE dying. This is why the neo-pagan religions are gaining so rapidly. I have even seen some on pagan boards refer to Catholism as "a good pagan upbringing"


11/13/2000 04:26:48 PM

Spong has done more work in tearing down his own diocese then in building it. Since he was made a bishop in the Episcopalan church the amount of faithful in his diocese of Newark has shrunk by less then half. In contrast the Roman Catholic diocese of Newark has grown by 25% over the same time period. How can Spong offer spiritual healing when he rejects anything spiritual? He does not believe in an omnipotent God who created the world. He rejects the core Christian beliefs of the virgin birth, resurrection, and ascension. As it was pointed out earlier, he tries to replace a powerful religion of love and mystery with his own shallow form of humanism based on his limited scientific knowledge. What he tears down he cannot rebuild. Spong is a bigot. His reference to African peoples as "jungle monkeys" and "pre-scientific" just because some African Anglican leaders disagree with him on his ideas. Hey, we can see that Spong is very tolerant, as long as you agree with him.


11/13/2000 04:20:45 PM

tarrantf- Spong never seems to ask WHY literalism exists.He should try understanding the psychological reasons for fundamentalism rather than merely condemning it and whining why he's such an exile.


11/13/2000 03:02:51 PM

Spong has been a great beacon of hope and reconciliation for the traditional outcasts of the Church, particularly gay and lesbian Christians. He has also been a light for skeptical, post-modern liberals such as myself who wish to maintain a foot in the door of Christianity without swallowing the nonsense of Biblical literalism. I therefore reject the previous statement that Spong has done no "real good in the world." There are lots of afflicted people in our broken society; Spong has helped bring spiritual healing to many people, and no self-righteous criticism can undo the good he has achieved over many years of turbulent ministry. So, for those of you who persist in calling Spong a disgrace, an anti-Christian, or a "racist bigot": please keep in mind that you are condemning someone who has touched many lives for the good. Your blatant, all-or-nothing condemnations are shallow and meaningless.


11/13/2000 01:32:09 PM

Dominus Iseus is nothing new. I don't see anything wrong with the Catholic Church asserting its long held views. As Christians, though, I believe we are called to seek unity within the body of Christ. As an observer of this board it seems interesting to me how the issue of the truth of Christianity came to be more important to posters than the issue of ecuminicalism. I believe, that Spong is a poor writer and I do not understand why he retains a post for a faith he rejects. I intend to work in the ministry after college and my plans are to: lead people to the love of God, help the homeless, the poor, the abused women-children-men or elderly, provide counsel, give intelligent sermons, and glorify the Lord Jesus. As a man of the church Spong fails to do any real good in the world. If I were him I would use my post to help the afflicted, not attempt to damage through words my own institution.


11/13/2000 12:59:57 PM

seriousbiz, I too suspected that you were not born a Muslim. You seem to have too much of an act to grind here to justify your new faith. Islam as a religion is not compatible in the modern world. Just look at the state of all Islamic nations. All dictatorships with poor education standards. A religion that circumizes women. A religion where it is acceptable to promise 13-14 year old girls in marriage to 40-50 year old men. A religion that punishes women for showing any amount of skin just above the wrist. It is a tribal religion created to civilize Arabic nomads in the southern Arabic peninsula. The Koran teaches you what to do in the case that you raid the next village. Men can be killed or taken as slaves. Women on the other hand can be used as either wives or sex slaves.


11/13/2000 12:51:43 PM

In answer to your question, yes Jesus did teach he was the son of God (Matthew 17; and so many references it would be too much to write). In regards to the virgin birth the New Testament teaches that it is so (Math 1-18; Luke 1, 2, 3). He also said he will return (Matthew 24 and in the other gospels, acts, revelation, etc). Is Spong a Christian? No.


11/13/2000 09:25:00 AM

Belief in the teachings of Jesus and belief in the teachings of the church (any church or religion) are two different things. As Bishop Spong believes in the teachings of Jesus, he can claim to be a christian. Did Jesus ever teach that he was the son of God? Did he ever teach that his mother was a virgin? Did he teach that he would come back to earth? One leason that can be learned from the life of Jesus is that the established religious organizations do not always relfect the truth.


11/10/2000 05:37:59 PM

[CONTINUED FROM PREVIOUS POST]. In 7th grade, out of the blue, I *knew* something was wrong. It had nothing to do with any dogma. I could *feel* it in my soul. Eventually, God led me to Islam. Now, a Hindu or a Buddhist might get pissed off at my answer to your question. But it is *my* answer. It is not an answer meant to speak against any other belief. If someone believes God led them to Christianity, that's fine with me. If this answer doesn't satisfy you, let me know. I will say, in terms of doctrine, that I like the idea tha God is One, not a trinity. I don't even *want* to "struggle" with trying to fix trinity in my head. In fact, I don't even think about it at all anymore. God is One--just as Jesus said when they asked him what was the first commandment. He answered: "Hear Oh Israel! The Lord your God is One." That's it.


11/10/2000 05:34:10 PM

dgallaugher, the soul is real. The soul, from birth, leans towards God instinctively. My spiritual search, therefore, had less to do with a reaction to "problems" with Christianity [12 years raised] than it had to do with the *genuine* need to be with God. Whatever your struggle was, and however you resolved it is legitimate as far as I am concerned. I won't question it. As for myself, I began my search in 7th grade, from *inside*. No outside influence was taking me away from Christianity. In my view, God was doing that. I was *sheltered*, almost totally, within Christianity. So the spiritual indications I received inside my soul were untainted by dogmatic debate or any such thing.


11/10/2000 10:11:35 AM

seriousbiz, I'm curious about your background. Your comments about Islam and Christianity lead me to this hypothesis: that you are a recent convert to Islam, and a recent one at that; that you were raised in a (nominally) Christian society, probably even in a Christian family; and that you have rejected Christianity for both the intellectual reasons you have mentioned and more personal reasons you have not. How am I doing? I struggled myself with the central Christian mysteries of the Trinity and the Incarnation of God in Christ for many years during college and after, through the mid-'90s. And I also had problems with what I saw in many Christians. But my resolution has been different from yours. Or have you even reached resolution? If you would prefer to talk about this by e-mail, write me at


11/09/2000 05:32:51 PM

serious, then why do you care? You should like Spong. He agrees that Jesus didn't rise or that he was divine. But we demand that Christians believe those things and he claims to be one of us. I think he should just leave physically since he has already left spiritually.


11/09/2000 02:47:46 PM

It's incredible how Spong argues that Christianity is dying, without showing how. Certainly not in eastern Asia or Africa, where numbers have grown constantly for decades. Even in the U.S., the percentage of churchgoers hasn't changed by more than 10 points up or down in 50 years. What is shrinking is the moderate-to-liberal Protestantism to which Spong himself belongs. His own diocese has shrunk by nearly half since he became bishop there in 1968.


11/09/2000 01:51:17 PM

hawker, please elaborate yourself regarding the "attacks". People responded to his essay on Dominus Lesus (or at least what he learned about it through his newspaper) and on other items in his column. Like mjb said: "I think it would be an interesting psychological study to look at what sorts of circumstances would lead a man who has dedicated his life as a member and leader of an organization to gleefully predict and look forward to that same organization's irrelevance and destruction." That pretty much sums up Spong.


11/09/2000 01:38:07 PM

I applaud Spong for his courage to state his convictions.The attacks on him remind me of the attacks on the peace movement during the Vietnam War. "When the wise man points to the moon,the fool looks at the finger."


11/09/2000 12:29:17 PM

Cestusdei, what is your point? I'm not inside Christianity in the first place. So what is your point? And, I actually *do not* wish to be inside Christianity, because I think it's central doctrines of death, resurrection, ascension and return are totally false. So your comment about me being outside Christianity makes no sense. I have *no* desire whatsoever to be a Christian, believe me.


11/07/2000 07:47:14 PM

Spong is a racist bigot. He smiles benignly until you disagree with him. Then you are "right out of the jungle". The man destroyed his own church. bn-actually we are growing. serious-to say Jesus didn't rise puts you outside Christianity. It's like muslims saying Muhammed wasn't a prophet.


11/07/2000 04:30:06 PM

I am grateful for men like Spong who have the courage to point out the church's mistakes. It is hard to believe many think that it would be better to never question. But it really doesn't matter anyway. Traditional Christian influence over[read manipulation of] people is overwith. Just take a look around. Hopefully there will be a lot less lying, saying we know things that we do not (volumes of man made dogma), and more honesty and reflection.


11/07/2000 02:24:12 PM

seriousbiz, Both of us, as well as Spong, have shown how people react when their "security systems" are undermined. They react with overwhelming hostility.


11/07/2000 01:47:43 PM

Watson, people wish to be "comfortable," as you know. For example, I am a Muslim. The traditional belief in orthodox Islam is that the Prophet Muhammad made an "Isra" physically to heaven. But when you SHOW Muslims in the hadith (recordings of the life and sayings of Prophet Muhammad) that Aisha, his wife, stated clearly that he was lying down next to her ASLEEP when this Isra took place; and when you explain that this shows that his Isra was not physical but spiritual, they go bonkers. Why? Because, for whatever reason, they, like Christians, have this need to have some incredibly extraordinary, "miracle" as testament to the truth of their faith. And if you speak against the orthodoxy, you can even be murdered in Islamic countries--just the way it used to be in Christian Europe centuries ago.


11/07/2000 01:36:10 PM

I am so appalled by the vilification John Spong receives. Maybe he should stop trying to help make Christianity a relevent religion for today. Maybe he should stop publicly acknowledging the flaws and mistakes of Christianity throughout history. Maybe he should stop telling the truth about the current state of Christianity. It's true that he wouldn't inspire open minded people this way, but hey, at least he won't be mindlessly attacked by people like cestusdei and Rave.


11/07/2000 01:11:06 PM

[CONTINUED FROM PREVIOUS]: The entire history of the Church is filled with people who were courageous enough to attack what they viewed as incorrect beliefs. And, just as you are doing now, those who believed in the orthodoxy labeled such people as psychologically damanged, and even murdered them, as took place during the long years of the Spanish Inquisition. Spong, Sheehan, members of the Jesus Seminar, etc., are simply the latest theologians who have the courage to admit the doctrinal mistakes of the Catholic Church. As regards longevity, the Yoruba religion predates the Catholic Church by 3,000 years. So should we all begin spitting whiskey on rocks? Longevity is not necessarily a sign of truth.


11/07/2000 01:10:47 PM

Mjb691, I think that your comments about Spong are incorrect. There is nothing psychologically wrong with Bishop Spong. His expositions about the Catholic Church are no different that the struggles that occurred with Christianity at the very beginning, when Gnostics and others REJECTED the notion of Jesus as "son of God", God incarnate, and all of that. [CONTINUED NEXT]


11/07/2000 11:48:36 AM

Southwid, although I would agree with your post you leave some important facts out. Saint Peter did go to Rome and is the first of the long succession of popes that we have to this day. Saint Paul is one of the builders of the Roman church and through this Christianity itself. I have read that Saint Andrew was had a big role in the spread of Christianity in the east. As we know the east (Greek) church would later split off during the great schism.


11/06/2000 11:41:13 PM

For MominOrlando: Peter's group meant to keep to the Jewish faith. They maintained that Jesus was the Jewish Messiah. The remnants of this are now the Hassidic Jews. The Roman Church was founded by the one Roman Apostle (Paul, the actual "founder of Christianity")and split with the Greek church long before Luther.


11/06/2000 08:00:04 PM

I think any ethical reality model which is also Ethnocentric in this modern age dooms itself to obsolescence. Thankfully. I am certain that in 500 years, There will be Spirituality. I am also certain it won't look anything like The Current Predominant Paradigm. Evolution and Entropy are inevitable. The Intellectual age of free information dooms the Church. Its lies and its neuroses are exposed. Thank Goddess.


11/06/2000 03:08:09 PM

I think it would be an interesting psychological study to look at what sorts of circumstances would lead a man who has dedicated his life as a member and leader of an organization to gleefully predict and look forward to that same organization's irrelevance and destruction. It's a special kind of masochism, if you think about it. After all, if Bishop Spong is right, his entire life has been meaningless and a waste of time. I kind of feel sorry for him. Pax, Mike Boyle


11/06/2000 01:35:12 PM

Bishop Spong says he has read Dominus Iesus, but it sounds like he only read his newspaper. That caution about "sister churches" is not even found in this document but in a separate note reported by the media about the same time. He addresses none of the documents subtleties, but only the media's oversimplified distortions of it. In fact, he never quotes the document once. Instead, he spends the bulk of his essay just repeating the same tired tirades from his books against historic Christianity. Ironic that Spong should talk about death throes, when it is his weak and empty philosophy that cannot strengthen, cannot comfort, cannot persuade, cannot survive. Meanwhile, the Catholic Church continues to follow her Lord faithfully and courageously. Here is truth; here is life, strength, and love!


11/06/2000 11:24:15 AM

LAST NOTE,CONTINUED FROM PREVIOUS POST. As regard my saying anything about who has the right path and who doesn't, what I *said* was that the Christian notion that Jesus is the "son of God" is false. I said nothing about whether Islam was the "one true" religion, because that was not the subject of these exchanges. The subject surrounded Spong's well-known idea that the Churh needs a new reformation, as he calls it at his web site. In fact, I not only mentioned Muslims, but this is what I said: "The Gnostics, the Muslims and anyone with spiritual *common sense* LONG AGO understood that Christianity was false at its core." So I included *other* groups aside from the Muslims PRECISELY to demonstrate that the idea that Jesus is *not* the "son" of God was and is shared by other religions other than Islam. For instance, Judaism does not believe that.


11/06/2000 11:23:52 AM

CONTINUED FROM PREVIOUS POST: In short, NO WHERE does Qur'an support the idea that Jesus Christ is the son of God. The Qur'an CONDEMNS that idea very forcefully and in no uncertain terms, all through the text. As regard my saying anything about who has the right path and who doesn't, what I *said* was that the Christian notion that Jesus is the "son of God" is false. I said nothing about whether Islam was the "one true" religion, because that was not the subject of these exchanges. The subject surrounded Spong's well-known idea that the Churh needs a new reformation, as he calls it at his web site. In short, NO WHERE does Qur'an support the idea that Jesus Christ is the son of God. The Qur'an CONDEMNS that idea very forcefully and in no uncertain terms, all through the text. In short, NO WHERE does Qur'an support the idea that Jesus Christ is the son of God. The Qur'an CONDEMNS that idea very forcefully and in no uncertain terms, all through the text. [CONTINUED NEXT POST]


11/06/2000 11:22:03 AM

TO JLG: First of all, can you show me where I stated that I don't "accept" Christians, or that Islam does not accept Christians? No, you can't. The Qur'an makes a CLEAR distinction--all throught its text: 1. I speaks--over and over again--AGAINST the Christian idea that Allah has a son. This is repeated so many times in Qur'an that one almost begins to believe that Qur'an was revealed *specifically* to clear up this idea of God having a son. Indeed, Qur'an says in one place. "And that it may warn those who say, 'Allah has taken unto himself a son.' Monstrous is the word that comes out of their mouths. They speak naught but a lie." That kind of admonition runs *all through the Qur'an. 2. Qur'an speaks of those Christians who truly believe in the ONE GOD, in the Last Day, are righteous, etc. [CONTINUED NEXT POST]


11/05/2000 06:34:38 PM

The Church is run by a bunch of old guys. Their vision is limited and will cause the Church to fail in the eyes of most people. Let the Church documents speak for theselves, they do not speak for most rational people. Let them eat pasta and leave the path of God alone!


11/05/2000 01:14:57 PM

disc-we don't worship the goddess whatever you might call her. Just another heresy from the radical feminist movement. God is Father, Son, and Holy Spirit.


11/05/2000 11:36:41 AM

Future graffiti: "The Church is dead." ---John Shelby Spong "Spong is dead." ---The Church


11/05/2000 02:16:39 AM

To seriousbiz: So Islam is the only "one true way" to God? Funny that you claim for your religion what you're denying the Catholic religion. (BTW, I'm not Catholic.) And if Islam is indeed the "one true way", how do you explain a religion that (in many places, anyway) either openly condones or actively encourages the sexual mutililation of its women, the marriage of 14-15 year old girls to 40-50 year old men (without the girls' having any say, of course), the vicious beating of women in public for exposing their arms as little as 3 inches above the wrist or a lock of hair, and "honor" killings of rape victims as young as 3? Supposedly the Shari'a provides "protection, honor and respect" for a woman's body (per the Prime Minister of Iraq). I have a lot of trouble believing this. Guess I'm the wrong gender.


11/04/2000 10:43:29 PM

To cestusdei, Sophia means wisdom. Is Jesus wisdom? I would say yes. "Disciple of wisdom" is not a self-deification, but a self-declaration of one willing to seek wisdom wherever it may be found.


11/04/2000 03:38:32 PM

As we must repeat over and over again. This is not a new teaching. Nor is it arrogance. It is arrogant to comment on a document without reading it. If you are Catholic this is part of our churches belief "that Jesus founded only one church which subsists in the Catholic church". Vatican II said the same thing. Unfortunately many Catholics are very poorly educated in their faith. This is not a Ratzinger document it is a Papal one. PS-disciple of sophia, Jesus is not sophia. The real arrogance is for those who deify their own experiences and selves. Radical feminism is the greatest heresy in the west today.


11/04/2000 10:04:23 AM

Part II. For Spong to write this article only proves he is unfamiliar with historical fact. What I see in many responses to the Catholic church is that many people believe they have faith in Jesus Christ but I see that they have mabe a little knowledge of Jesus and His Church. For what truly is faith? Faith is the virture by which WE BELIEVE IN GOD, AND WE BELIEVE IN ALL THAT GOD HAS REVEALED TO MANKIND. The Catholic Church has the fullness of truth of God and that is what Cardinal Ratzinger is talking about. To simply dismiss the Church because you don't agree shows either lack of faith or total disobedience to the will of God. True there is truth that exists in all religions; but that truth is only a reflection of Jesus and the best and surest way to eternal life is thru truth in the one true Church - Roman Catholic.


11/04/2000 10:00:30 AM

Part I. I am Roman Catholic and I have studied the origins of Christianity which it seems many Protestants have not. When one studies, one will find that until Martin Luther, John Knox, etc.(and these were Catholic priests by the way who were disobedient to the church) there was no such thing as a Protestant. There was the one and only church of Jesus Christ, the Roman Catholic Church. It doesn't take a "rocket scientist" to determine this historical fact. History is written. Seems though that many want to dismiss history and lay claim that THEIR church is legitimate. When Jesus founded HIS church, he said to Peter: Thou art ROCK, and upon this ROCK (Peter) I will build my church. He didn't say "I will build your church; nor you will build My church! He gave His directive to Peter and as Scripture proves, it is only in Apostolic succession that a legitimacy of a church is found to be true.


11/04/2000 01:18:53 AM

mindsight: Thank you so much for showing that there is a true Roman Catholic out there! It is so refreshing to hear of someone who voluntarily gives up the sacrament of Mass while struggling with an issue of personal conscience versus published church doctrine! As I understand most Christian church doctrines, communion is not supposed to be a routine ritual, but something one partakes of only if truly in accord with the church after a thorough examination of conscience. I have never been able to believe that 95-100% of any random congregation is truly in that state of grace on any and every Sunday morning! But then I'm just a pagan outsider with no morals in the eyes of most "Christians".


11/04/2000 12:50:44 AM

seriousbiz: what brand of Islam do you follow? As a Baha'i child, whose father studied the Koran as the rootstock of his Baha'i faith, I know that Islam accepts Jews and Christians as fellow "people of the book". While not accepting Jesus as the ONLY prophet, the Koran does accept him as a prophet born of an exceptional mother (I'll go look up the verses if anyone asks, but I can't cite them from memory). It is precisely this Islamic influence on my spiritual childhood which makes me refuse to accept that there is only one path to God. There are many, and we as mortals argue about which is best or most perfect. But the presence of a newer, shorter path to the goal doesn't somehow cause the older paths to change direction and no longer lead to the same place!


11/03/2000 10:23:59 PM

I, as a mainline Roman Catholic would like to state: Ratzinger's "Dominus Ieus" is smug at best. Using the words he does such as 'defective', 'inferior', 'superstitious' in comparison to other traditions says it all. I don't agree with Bishop Spong on everything, but I do here with his column. Whenever the Vatican clamps down with a muzzle on anything (and here it is ecumenical dialogues) that action is rooted in fear and anxiety. Synthesizer


11/03/2000 09:27:11 PM

Yawn. Muslims believe that there are only Muslims in Heaven. Mormons believe that there are only Mormons in Heaven. Catholics believe there are only Catholics in Heaven. What is the alternative, a Heaven where we are still confused about the Truth? Muslims, Mormons, Catholics, ... they are at least rational in their belief that there can only be one truth, and it is not mutable. The question that is not being addressed is the Catholic theology of invincible ignorance and culpability before the Judgement seat of God.


11/03/2000 08:48:14 PM

Most Christian voices today are arrogant noises meant to claim God's heart as the private possession of the select few. Dominus Iesus is a slap in the face to people all over the world who live their lives in God's spirit. I hope that Spong is right: the church needs to die; it needs to be stripped on all its institutionalism and be resurrected into the liberating community that Jesus intended.


11/03/2000 08:46:51 PM

Spong started the name calling. Typical liberal. I really doubt that most here have actually read the document. By no means does it say that you have to be Catholic to be saved. Please READ it. It is what our church has taught for millenia. The Catholics in here who don't agree with it are apparently more American then Catholic. Our doctrines come from God not the New York Times. If you want to ignore the voice of the Successor of Peter then Spong offers you a church where you can ignore not only him, but Jesus too. Of course Spong won't allow himself to be ignored. If you are Catholic then this is our faith and we are proud to profess it in Christ Jesus our Lord.


11/03/2000 07:42:35 PM

It seems that virtually every response I've read here is a condemnation of Spong. Does no one have an opinion about Dominus Iesus? I find it profoundly disappointing that we seem so much more interested in villifying the author of this essay than we are in discussing the basic question of whether this declaration of exclusivism is a good thing.


11/03/2000 07:01:52 PM

So Ratzinger says that Protestant churches have defects. Show me one Protestant leader who wouldn't say the same thing about the Catholic Church. I'm not defending Ratzinger -- I think he's a bigot, personally -- I'm just tired of people misrepresenting this document. Yes, it was very disappointing. Ratzinger has interpreted Vatican II reforms as conservatively as he possibly can -- but Vatican II cannot be reversed. Compare Ratzinger's document with this from Lumen Gentium, chapter 2, paragraph 15: it says that non-Catholic Christians "are indeed in some real way joined to us in the Holy Spirit for...his sanctifying power is also active in them." In paragraph 16 of the same document, "the plan of salvation also includes those who acknowledge the Creator, in the first place amongst whom are the Muslims."


11/03/2000 05:23:58 PM

"I agre with Tarrantf that he"..I meant the previuos post. Kudos to thomassw, your comments are well put.


11/03/2000 05:23:22 PM

Webster defines Christian as "one who professes belief in the teachings of Jesus Christ." This Bishop Spong is definitely not a Christian. I had never read any of his articles before, and I am truthfully appauled. DebArRR, the man does have right to believe whatever he chooses, but please don't claim to be something you're not. That does nothing but tarnish the image of those who truly are what they claim. As for the "Dominus Iesus," Jesus is "...the way, the truth, and the life. No one comes to the Father excepth through [Him]" (John 14:6). It is not true, though, that the only way to Christ is the Roman Catholic Church. It all comes down to having a personal relationship with Jesus - it's not an intellectual thing, it's not a religion, it's a relationship with the living God. Joe


11/03/2000 05:21:42 PM

Someone had made a comment about how christianity most change or it will die, I would say that it we who have to change or we will die. I agree with Tarrantf that he is not the voice of the majority for the Episcopal church.


11/03/2000 05:19:05 PM

>>He does not believe in an omnipotent God who created the universe. He does not believe in the virgin birth, resurrection, nor ascension. This is an extremely unfair representation of what Spong believes - by someone with an apparent axe to grind. How about the topic at hand? Is the Pope correct in asserting that only Catholicism offers the reality of salvation? Is the Pope the only direct line authority on scriptural matters? Do any catholics really believe in Papal infallability?


11/03/2000 05:17:12 PM

As much as I admire the tenacity with which Spong holds to his dated-- somewhat redundant-- liberalism, I sometimes find him to be no better than the fundamentalists and conservatives whom he so aggressively attacks. Perhaps we should call him a 'fundamentalist liberal.' Spong must realise that liberal theology has moved on from Tillich and Bultmann (not negated them, just progressed). He would do well to study postliberal and postmodern theology. His liberalism is just as irrelevant as is religious fundamentalism. He observes that Roman Catholicism is in its death throes. Well his modernity has been dead and buried for some time now.


11/03/2000 04:51:52 PM

DebArRR, as I have pointed out many times and as anyone can read in the article on the left Spong is not Christian. He does not believe in an omnipotent God who created the universe. He does not believe in the virgin birth, resurrection, nor ascension. These are core Christian beliefs, whether traditional or liberal. Also, who is always doing the attacking? Spong attacks anyone who does not share his narrow-minded modern humnanist view. Among his targets are Catholics, Orthodox, evangelical Christians, and even goes to race with recent unflattering remarks about Africans. Do you not think that those of us attacked should not defend ourselves? Spong is an athiest. He loves any media attention he can get in that it is contreversial for a Bishop to not believe in God and reject Christian core beliefs. In contrast to most athiests, the premises in which Spong expresses his views presents him as a slippery con.


11/03/2000 04:47:45 PM

I would agree with Bishop Spong in his assessment of the state of the church, except for the fact that it has so much money. When an organization can muster six million dollars to pay for its priests misconduct in only one case (see, it can probably survive something as small as a bankruptcy of ideology.


11/03/2000 04:45:02 PM

Unlike the many Catholics who ignore what comes out of the Vatican, I pay attention to their declarations and have not been able to go to Mass since the release of Dominus Iesus. I felt that my presence would be a tacit endorsement of ideas and attitudes I cannot agree with. If my Catholicism is to separate me from other people, it is time to reassess it in the light of Christ.


11/03/2000 04:29:23 PM

Some of Spong's writings have led me to wonder if he is even truly a Christian; however, surely he has the right to believe, speak and write whatever he chooses without being attacked. Reasonable argument is needed and represented here, and I feel Spong's editorializing is at least useful for prompting discussion.


11/03/2000 03:22:50 PM

NANSTEVENSON How can you say that you are Catholic and do not pay attention to the Vatican? That is like saying you are a Marxist without ever having read Marx. Maybe if you started paying attention to the Vatican you would understand why your position is so problematic.


11/03/2000 03:08:46 PM

The previous comment by Foust77 represents an excellent example example of PRECISELY why the church is losing members. Foust77 virtually THREATENS Bishop Spong (in the traditional manner of the Church of the Middle ages). But the "hammers" Foust77 refers to lie in the hand of church itself, which bops *itself* over the head by holding on to doctrines that clearly have no basis in truth.


11/03/2000 03:06:53 PM

The doctrine of Papal infallibility was promulgated by Pope Pius IX in the 19th century. The Church is sometimes used as a metaphor for Christ. It must be centered on the teachings of Christ as contained in the New Testament, otherwise it has lost its focus. Those Christian denominations that center themselves on Jesus Christ and the Bible, and with humility strive for a true understanding will thrive, and those that insist on their own particular interpretation, treating their leaders as equivalent to Jesus in infallibility, have cut themselves off from the true manna to be fed to their members.


11/03/2000 02:49:14 PM

>Moreover, apparently marlowe1 >confuses "scholars" with "all >conservative evangelical scholars." I have not seen any theologian or scholar from Yale, Duke, Emory, Harvard, Chicago, Princeton or any other reputable university or seminary who takes Spong seriously. I am not just talking about "conservative evangelical" scholars and theologians. Certainly Luke Timothy Johnson could not be described this way.


11/03/2000 02:47:04 PM

Cestus, Don't hold your breath waiting for Episcopalians to "swim the Tiber." Also don't look for us to follow Spong all the way down his individual path. You have a patronizing tendency to associate the Episcopal Church as a whole with Spong, as if they were synonymous. They are not.


11/03/2000 02:28:06 PM

The church of God is an anvil that has worn out many hammers... Sprong would do well to remember that.


11/03/2000 02:24:39 PM

Amen to Bishop Spong...I've been a Catholic for over 20 years now, and basically, I ignore most of what comes out of the Vatican. You can't put God in a box...I'm ashamed of this document's dare we assume to have ALL the answers!


11/03/2000 02:23:15 PM

Spong will never live down his comment about the Africans being straight from the jungle. If a conservative had said that he would have been drawn and quartered. But liberals get a pass (just look at Clinton). The Catholic church is growing while Spongs is shrinking. That disproves his hypothesis. He is the perfect example of a leftist bigot. If the Episcopal church follows him...well...will the last one out turn out the lights. As I said though I like Episcopalians, so much so I would love to see them swim the Tiber. Ven. John Henry Newman pray for us.


11/03/2000 02:23:15 PM

Anyone who begins an argument with a cry of "intolerance" has a mind like a top winding down in oddly-shaped circles. Spong is also not tolerant. With that out of the way, the argument that the Church is not consistent because it now accepts the possibility of biological evolution and Galileo's theories is a grasp at straws. The Church only condemned these men because their (at that time) unproven ideas were being used to interpret scripture and applied to other realms of study like sociology. The Church is not perfect. However, it has always claimed to be the True Church from the very beginning. If Spong thinks "Dominus Iesus" is a new doctrine, it's time for him to take Christianity 101.


11/03/2000 02:13:17 PM



11/03/2000 01:09:30 PM

Marlowe, You should understand that Spong was defending against African bishops who are actively trying subvert the ministry of the Episcopal Church in this country. You are espousing a half-truth by stating that Spong's comments about the African bishops were made simply because those bishops disagree. The do FAR MORE than disagree. They have attempted to have sexuality made a litmus test of remaining in Communion with the worldwide Anglican Communion. They have become vicious, judgemental fundamentalists who are slowly poisoning the Anglican Communion with a completely UN-Anglican agenda. That is an accurate context for your half-truth.


11/03/2000 01:09:12 PM

I agree with Spong. It's interesting that folks such as marlowe1 use the tired old "you're not tolerating my intolerance" argument. Moreover, apparently marlowe1 confuses "scholars" with "all conservative evangelical scholars." This is, to me, either ignorance or dishonesty. Any plumber who thinks he doesn't have to think about pipes- that the issue is settled by the folks who built the aqueducts in Rome- I woudn't let near my new house.


11/03/2000 01:08:42 PM

CONTINUED FROM PREVIOUS POST: While you accuse the Catholic Church and its "ecclesiastical hierarchy" of fighting to maintain its doctrine and to survive as an institution, what are YOU trying to do, Hum? The *same thing*: You're attempting to SAVE Christianity because you know, as you stated, that it is dying. You're trying to keep YOUR job and YOUR status as a "Bishop." Why not just accept Islam, which explained the falsehoods of Christianity 1,400 years ago. I am not impressed by you as a modern Luther. You said it: "If that diagnosis is correct, then very shortly the Church of Jesus Christ, in all its forms, will begin to hear the sound of taps." That includes YOUR version, Bishop Spong.


11/03/2000 01:08:11 PM

Bishop, spare us our "revolutionary" update on the ever "evolving" religion of Christianity. The Gnostics, the Muslims and anyone with spiritual *common sense* LONG AGO understood that Christianity was false at its core. This is the very reason that Islam (my religion) CLEARLY informed the world (long before you put on your Bishop's collar and later decided to appear "radical") that Jesus Christ, 1.) was not the "son" of God; 2.) did not "rise from the dead."; 3.)did not "ascend" up to heaven in the flesh; 4.) is not "coming back" physically to establish the Christian "Kingdom of God."


11/03/2000 01:06:34 PM

Spong's significant historical ignorance coupled with that well stated opinion from Marlowe1 about his hypocrisy makes a said statement about what kind of drivel Beliefnet lets on here ... This is a church that condemned Darwin and Galileo because they challenges its authority -- not for their scientific findings. His doctrinization to everything Darwin and evolution shows his bias -- as much as the Roman Catholic Church show it. Like Ocracy says, I think the church needs to change ... but not on the advice of Sprong. He's a hypocrtical bigot and his article is flatly moronic.


11/03/2000 12:39:40 PM

The church has to change or die ,its as simple as that ,for me every thing that spong says is obviously true.his modern views might sometimes offend but the truth has the habit of doing that......


11/03/2000 12:09:39 PM

Spong's hypocrisy is manifest. He decries those whom he views as "exclusive", but no one is more exclusive than he is. He excludes the ancient orthodox Christian faith. He excludes everyone who does not fit into his narrow modern world view. He recently called African members of his communion "pre-scientific" and "backwards" because they did not agree with his views on homosexuality. Spong later apologized when it was pointed out to him how subtlely racist his statement was. Scholars and theologians do not take him seriously. Luke Timothy Johnson of Emory University's Candler School of theology has said that having a bishop like Spong who wants to "rethink" Jesus is like having a plumber who wants to "rethink" pipes. Spong is loud and obnoxioius, and loves the media attention he can grab, sort of like PT Barnum.


11/03/2000 12:09:23 PM

I hope all of you read Sister Joan Chittister's column as well as Rev. Spong's. She does a much better job of discussing the basic problem with "Dominus Iesus" -- the insistence on Jesus as the ONLY way to salvation. I was reared in the Baha'i Faith, but have felt a strong attraction to Christianity for most of my 50 years. I think often and seriously about converting, I participate in lots of Christian worship, but I just can't get past that (to me) silly insistence on Jesus as the ONLY path to salvation! I find it sad.


11/03/2000 12:05:43 PM

Rave, You cannot know what is or is not dying unless you are in the midst of it. We are not dying. It is quite possible that Spong's particular brand of completely rationalized liberalism is dying. That remains to be seen. As I've stated repeatedly: Spong does not represent the mainstream of Anglicanism or congregations in the Episcopal Church. I do not support his confrontational style; I'm very disappointed by it. Although he does insult people, he has had an important influence for the good in his dogged crusade to make the Church inclusive. The exclusion of "undesirables" is one of the big reasons that most of the larger branches of the Church thrive. It is very comfortable to be told you are a good guy, and that the "others" are all bad guys.


11/03/2000 11:59:06 AM

Reminds me of a wonderful sign I saw on a church message board in New York: "He came to take away your sins, not your mind"


11/03/2000 11:49:59 AM

Should the Christian church survive it will be because of voices such as the good Bishop Spong. Keep rattling the bones, Bishop: debate, controversy, non-conformity, and non-convention - looks like Jesus to me.


11/03/2000 11:36:21 AM

That said, Christianity IS in fact in an emerging state of crisis. The majority of believers (in my experience) don't even understand their faith, and others are troubled by the Church's inability to speak timeless truths to a modern audience. Thus, many retreat into the security of more authoritarian branches, like the Romish or fundamentalist protestant churches...


11/03/2000 11:35:57 AM

I have read three of Spong's books because I find him to be a worthy critic of fundamentalism in all its forms. That said, I have not finished any of the three, and I barely finished this article. As an open-minded Methodist (also with a very strong background in science) I like his critiques of the evolving cultural (ir)relevance of some of Christianity's PRACTICES, but invariably he crosses the line and makes wholly invalid claims against Christianity's core BELIEFS. He replaces a religion of infinite power and mystery with a very shallow brand of watered-down humanism based solely on his own limited scientific understanding. What he tears down he is unable to rebuild...


11/03/2000 11:26:11 AM

jenniferlana, that was a very nice and inspirational message. I agree with your sentiments. Mariette, I also agree with your sentiments. I do not see how Spong can speak for liberal Protestant Christians when he is not even Christian himself. Spong has found his niche as being a Episcopal Bishop who is an athiest who attacks Christianity. He is even gained a bit of a celebrity status at it. The logic is flawed and of course doomed to failure. Like you said, if there is to be any kind of real dialogue about Dominus lesus, a more cogent and respectful critic should be brought to the table.


11/03/2000 11:17:45 AM

tarrantf, most people in the Catholic, Orthodox, and evangelical protestant faiths are searching for truth. To generalize and attack these people as Spong does just because they are not the same as he is is simply intolerant. Ironic in that is a label that I have seen Spong try and throw at so many people. >Judging the "rightness" of a >religion based upon its numerical >growth is a slippery slope. Yes, but isn't this what Spong uses as one of his main arguments? However, it is congregations that have endorsed deas such as his that are dying. I do not see the Roman Catholic, Orthodox, and evangelical protestant churches partaking in any drastic changes any time in the near future. However, you look at it these are the dominant and most populous Christian churches.


11/03/2000 11:00:17 AM

Most Christians (Catholic, Orthodox, Protestant, evangelical, fundamentalist) cannot fairly say that Spong offers sincere and responsible commentary on the life of the church--visible or invisible. I strongly urge beliefnet to offer his webspace to someone more apt to fill his place. Can't we find anyone else who more fairly represents (or even more fairly criticizes) Christians than Spong? He is not an interlocutor; he provocates. He endorses his own ideas that go against tradition and scripture. But, even those ideas would be considered if they could be presented in fair and respectful manner. I urge you to find another person to comment on this latest Vatican document. Dominus Iesus has done little to damage ecumenical dialogue, in my opinion. There is nothing conspiratorial about it. And even a thoughful evangelical Christian would affirm most of what was written. If we are about real dialogue, let a more cogent and respectful critic come to the table.


11/03/2000 10:52:17 AM

I returned to the Catholic Faith after experiencing other religions because I felt the pull of the eternal way and truth so taught by the Catholic Faith. It forced me to stop veiwing God on my terms. The Catholic Faith practiced fully and as God intended, is not an easy Faith to follow. It requires of the believer a complete conversion in the private and public life. A conversion that you are given time and an infinite number of chances to make. As eternal and infinite as God's Love. I do not consider the demands and teachings misguided or outdated, but difficult standards that are set to quide us to what we are suposed to be. After much consideration and painful searching, I too consider the Catholic Faith the most full, best and truest path to God. Does that mean I am intolerant? I doubt it, It simply means I have the Catholic Faith. And this is what Dominus Iesus was about.


11/03/2000 10:33:25 AM

Rave, You wrote: "ask yourself why the evangelical protestant, Roman Catholic, and Orthodox churches are flourishing while the churches such as Spong's are splintering and/or whithering in numbers?" I would answer that most people seem to want easy answers and to have someone else do their thinking for them: the magisterium, the Ecumenical Councils, the Evangelical preacher. The decline in mainline churches is a complicated mixture of issues including the simple reality of changing demographics. More important, however, is the emmergence of a new type of post-modern Christianity. This transformation from traditionalist models is just beginning (30 years is but a speck in time) and will continue for quite sometime before we see if it endures. As long as I live there will be at least one Episcopalian out there who maintains the faith, and I know many, many people just like me. Judging the "rightness" of a religion based upon its numerical growth is a slippery slope.


11/03/2000 10:13:26 AM

To clear things up. The arguments at the left have nothing to do with traditional vs. liberal, hetero vs. homo, etc., etc. Spong does not believe in God's creation of the universe. He does not believe in the virgin birth, resurrection, and ascension, period. By definition he is an athiest (albeit a very confused one) who has used the Episcopal church as a vehicle for his career. He calls for a new religion and for those of you who jump on his bandwagon ask yourself why the evangelical protestant, Roman Catholic, and Orthodox churches are flourishing while the churches such as Spong's are splintering and/or whithering in numbers. If you don't believe in the core beliefs I listed above then going to this type of mass is no different then going to a tea party, a community get together. People are searching for more then that and are looking for meaning.


11/03/2000 10:02:49 AM

For those of you who feel guilt about believing the sun is at the center of the universe please seek help. Copernicus was a canon in the Cathedral Chapter and had the full endorsement of his uncle who was the bishop. We all know what happened with Galileo but those were different times many many years ago. To clear up some of Spong's lies there is nothing in scripture that contradicts science. When you really look at it, science enhances scripture. To use these types of arguments to discredit the church only weakens your position and your credibility as well.


11/03/2000 08:40:15 AM

[part 2] Don't read too much into my closing analogy: Like Moses, he has helped prepare the way for a new Episcopal Church, but he probably won't enter the "Promised Land." He may be a bishop in exile, but he has been a profoundly important and positive influence for inclusion and rationality in small but vital branch of the Church. Thanks be to God. Ann, Come to my parish: a broad-to-liberal congregation full of both children, young families, and openly gay and lesbian persons.


11/03/2000 08:39:58 AM

Cestus, I assure you that the congregations who are splintering over homosexuality are a minority of Episcopalians. One of the problems with having Spong as the "Episcopal voice" on Beliefnet is that he does not represent the majority of Episcopalians, any more than the traditionalists who are splintering represent the majority. Yet non-Episcopalians assume that he speaks for the church. There is a vast middle who may be influenced by Spong but who are a uncomfortable with the full implications of his ideas. The traditionalists are leaving, and Spong has become passe. Passe but not irrelevant: his voice has been an extremely important influence for the good in the life of our Church, though it admittedly repels the judgmental bigotry of the Christian majority. [end part 1]


11/03/2000 03:58:02 AM

Spong's writing must sound clearly refreshing to those angered by, or hurt by the Christian faith, and the Catholic Church, in particular. While I believe that he is correct in his assumption that the document is clearly a last "ditch effort" on the part of Rome to maintain its hierarchy, he has not given enough credit to lay people and localized communities. People can be amazingly resilient in having to cope with less than ideal circumstances; feminist thinkers and liberation reformers, as well as socially motivated parishes and organizations are, in one sense, replacing and re-creating the "traditional" Christian church. I don't think that Christianity will be defunct of believers -- but it will be populated by new kinds of believers. This document is an inverse reflection of what the new kind of Christian believers will choose to embrace -- acceptance, dialogue, absence of dogma, and freedom from any kind of "centralized" religious authority.


11/02/2000 11:49:48 PM

Most of my life was spent with the secret guilt of believing that the sun was the center of our Solar System. Infallible Rome had clung to the Earth being the center. Less than a decade ago, with the adjustment of belief in Rome, millions of people had suddenly to switch their belief, or their admission of what they believed. That meant this infallible Pope was now telling us that previous Popes were NOT infallible. I no longer had to feel like I was cheating if I didn't buy some of the details!


11/02/2000 11:45:36 PM

As a recovering Catholic, I thank God for the voice of JS Spong! His books were instrumental in learning that I could consider myself a Christian without having to believe a predetermined dogma. I think that there are many kinds of Christians and that Jesus has told all of us not to judge each other. Spong may not be the same kind of Christian, or understand scriptures the same as many other folks, but that is his point. Every Christian does not have to believe all minor points all the way through. St. Paul teaches a valuable lesson in differing beliefs in Romans 14. And makes the point that Jesus teaches us not to judge our brother if he believes differently than we do.


11/02/2000 11:39:08 PM

cestus- It's pretty unfortunate.I went to an Episcopal Church with a friend and most of the congregation were elderly.Unlike some Catholic churches,the tabernacle was in a prominent place and it was quite tasteful.


11/02/2000 09:01:02 PM

tarr, I do know the difference of course. The ECUSA is in the process of splintering. Some parts are indeed vital. They are the ones who are leaving. It is the ones who agree with Spong who are presiding at their own funeral. I rather like Episcopalians and hope they eventually join up with us. We could use some English good taste in church architecture.


11/02/2000 04:18:13 PM

Now that I've vented, I have less confrontational comments. I think Spong is ultimately wrong about the demise of Christianity, but I think he is correct that it will eventually lose its cultural importance unless it evolves along with humankind. I believe we are going to see a post-modern form of Christianity become a viable option for those, like me, who cannot accept the pre-scientific assumptions about the nature of existence yet who, also like me, are compelled to believe in the incarnation all the same. This is a paradoxical faith that accepts the need for human reason, yet admits that human reason cannot fully explain all the mysteries of existence. I believe my own church is heading in this direction, much to the surprise of Spong.


11/02/2000 03:58:03 PM

Cestus, Perhaps you are unaware that the Church of England and the Episcopal Church USA are not the same. Actually, I'm sure you are, but you purposely ignore it in a effort to add more punch to your usual polemical comments about the Episcopal Church. You clearly have no understanding of the Episcopal Church whatsoever, even though you may have once been a member. Check out the Zaccheus Report if you doubt its vibrancy. Is it changing? Yes. Is it dying? Not a chance, though I'm certain you would dance for joy if it did.


11/02/2000 03:56:46 PM

However, Spong demonstrates that he is not a Christian. In fact, he has a very poor understanding of the faith. Coming from a strong scientific background, Spong would also do himself well to leave his junior high understandings of science out of it as well. Instead, Spong appears to be on his own vendetta against Christianity. He searches tirelessly for little snippets from the Christian faith for which he can attack and try to disprove. Him and his kind have done there job in the Anglican/Episcopal church. Like cestusdei said there are less then a million practicing Anglicans in England. In contrast the Roman Catholic church is growing. At first I got a real chuckle out of this column as I do out of most of his columns. However, I mostly feel sorry for this man. Let's remember him in our prayers.


11/02/2000 03:46:07 PM

Assuming we are all Christians then it is our belief that God is the creator. Considering the magnitude of God's love and power, then it is not a big stretch for him with the virgin birth, resurrection, and ascension. Pascal's philosophy tells us that we are fallen creatures in an unnatural state. And only through love and closeness to God do we come close to our natural state and happiness, wisdom, and truth.


11/02/2000 03:38:57 PM

LoveAllAsOne and sawyersa, I feel the same way. Spong then goes off on his own ASSUMING the THEORY of evolution is FACT. The second law of thermondynamics (entropy), the study of irreducible mechanisms would prove otherwise. Plus a friend of the family who is a renowned astrophysicist and collaborator and friend of Stephen Hawking sees no problem with Genesis in the creation of the universe. Even Hawking who is and athiest has no problem. The only thing is that a day for God may be longer then 24 hours. At first there was darkness and then God said let there be light (Big Bang), God created the stars, then the world, the oceans.... All in the exact order that modern science tells us. Man appeared 50,000 years ago and there is no trace of any inbetween species.


11/02/2000 01:10:54 PM

sawyersa you wrote: You know, when I read the first page, I thought that maybe Spong was at least expressing a reasonable disagreement, one that was in principle coherent. I didn't agree with him, but I thought, maybe, from his standpoint as an Episcopal bishop, it could make sense. Then I got to the second page. And I find out that the "intellectual revolution" means no more virgin birth of Christ, no more redemptive suffering, etc . . . translation: no more Christianity. My sentiments exatcly. I have tried to read some of Spong's articles and have gotten to the same point as you mention on page 2 of this article, his rational explaining leads to no more Christianity.


11/01/2000 09:16:04 PM

The arrogance of the Catholic Church is terribly sad, Pharisee like and contrary to the teaching of the Lord Jesus- (Jesus' kindom is not of this world, be humble, concentrate on the worship of God in the spirit of love not on the "rules" and rituals). However, I don't know why Sprongs cares, since he is not a Christian.


11/01/2000 05:37:14 PM

PS-Given Spongs overwhelming arrogance and conceit I am sure the Archbishop of Newark was relieved that he didn't have to deal with him anymore. Besides ecumenism is between Christians and Spong isn't a Christian.


11/01/2000 05:34:28 PM

Spong is incapable of seeing reality. If he did he might notice it is the Episcopal church that is the dinosaur headed for extinction. People are leaving in droves and many are just waiting to die. The Archbishop of Canterbury is even getting worried. He is even starting to sound like the Pope. Must be the fact that in England less then a million people practice Anglicanism. Spong is the dying gasp of doomed agenda.


11/01/2000 02:18:08 PM

You know, when I read the first page, I thought that maybe Spong was at least expressing a reasonable disagreement, one that was in principle coherent. I didn't agree with him, but I thought, maybe, from his standpoint as an Episcopal bishop, it could make sense. Then I got to the second page. And I find out that the "intellectual revolution" means no more virgin birth of Christ, no more redemptive suffering, etc . . . translation: no more Christianity. Spong appears incapable of understanding the distinction between claiming to possess the *only* truth and claiming to be the teacher of the fullness of truth. I'm glad he's at least left the door open for empirical proof: For if his diagnosis is correct, he says, the Church of God is dying. Strange to hear a bishop offer that diagnosis, but easy enough to know that he's wrong. The Church has survived worse than Spong's doubt and heretical teaching, and will survive those as well.