The Easter Moment: What Really Happened?

Is the literal claim of Easter still believable? Can Christianity afford to debate its originating moment?

elessien

05/19/2008 05:05:45 AM

It's easy to ignore people who don't agree with you, ie: "no creditable New Testament scholar in the world, Protestant or Catholic, will defend those simplistic propositions." Simply saying that no 'creditable' scholar would defend these claims does not make it so. Also, when someone claims that they are going to do something "openly, honestly, historically, and critically" I expect to find someone with unfettered bias, and a tendency to play fast and loose with the facts. In this I was not disappointed. Anyone desiring a counterpoint to this article should read this article, also on beliefnet: http://www.beliefnet.com/story/102/story_10203_1.html

skarlett

02/17/2008 02:20:26 PM

I was saved at an early age and I never doubted, even then, that Christ died on a cross so his blood would would cover my sins and yes, He rose from the dead in three days."DESTROY THIS TEMPLE AND I WILL REBUILD IT IN THREE DAYS." I sing in our Church and each year we preform an Easter Cantata with a Drama. They show the Roman Soldiers dragging Christ away kicking and , using a whip on Him and crucifying Him. The Lights Are dimmed to darkness and from the back of the Church you hear one mournful scream "JESUS!" Watching this, how could you not believe?

Journeyer66

05/20/2005 08:27:40 AM

Azbeliever, meaning no disrespect to your obviously deeply-held convictions, I don't agree that Spong's views of the resurrection are "wordly" while yours are somehow the objective "truth". You simply disagree on how to interpret Scripture. Spong makes an interesting case and brings up some points about the differences in the gospels that I had not considered before. His argument may not definitively settle the question, but he cannot be dismissed so easily. He certainly has studies the Bible.

azbeliever

03/27/2005 08:47:29 PM

This Bishop Sprong may call himself a Christian for the new world....but I would call him something else....he is placing his opinions as fact and yet calling himself a Bishop of The Lords! So were the priests of the Temple in the Biblical days! And they were way off.....broods of vipers Jesus called them. How sad there are those who think they can rewrite the Bible to suit themselves...think and rearrange all you like, the truth of Jesus and God are! Man has searched, thought, restated and tried to deny the truch. I don't need mans worldly view of anything when trying to explain, refute or give information about something that is faithfully beyond understanding. To pin down Jesus and God other than the truth of the Word is worldly not of faith or being a true Christian. All the trying to disprove what can not be understood is wasted time that should be spent accepting,being faithful and believing! Study the Bible, the Word of God!

serenitys_hope

12/26/2004 11:10:00 AM

It never ceases to amaze me at how people can believe in things like Harry Potter and Poltergeist and all these other pagan works of mysticism and the devil, but cannot accept the miracles of the Bible...lol. I still believe that God created Adam and Eve. I still believe that Jesus is the Christ and that he was born to give his life for my sins and that he was literally resurrected in body and appeared to his disciples. The Bible says that Thomas thrust his hand into his wounded side and understood that it was His Lord and His God. I also believe that one day, this same Jesus, that they saw ascend into Heaven, will come back to claim His children, I hope we are all one of them...

skaya

04/10/2004 04:25:55 PM

People should read the article at this link: www.witchvox.com/media/thepassion2.html As a Pagan, I had a very different experience in watching that film than I had expected. In fact, I was shocked. I gasped, perhaps not unlike the original Greek audience would have done, because in that very well-known story I saw something only a handful of people in today's society would ever recognize. The story of the Passion is the story of a human sacrifice, done unknowingly, and yet according to Roman ritual sacrifice structure. Let me start at the beginning, and how I came to this realization. This angle probably accounted for many pagan conversions in the ancient world.

revinpitts

04/10/2004 04:25:35 PM

Sorry about the double post. Some kind of glitch... One more note. There have been many Jewish messianic wannabees through history. When they were killed, their movements died with them and none claimed their leader had been resurrected. None. It was not a common expectation among the Jews that the Messiah would die or rise again. Why is the Jesus movement so utterly unique in this regard? Maybe because an utterly unique thing happened!

revinpitts

04/10/2004 04:20:14 PM

I have been on both sides of this issue at times. But I have concluded that some kind of tangible, physical event took place and that the Resurrection is more than a symbolic turn of phrase. They could have proclaimed that Jesus was a spiritual presence in their lives after his death without arousing controversy or oppostion from Jewish or Roman authorities. It was their adamant insistence that it was something more which led to persecutions that would have been a powerful reality check to anyone who was simply deluded.

revinpitts

04/10/2004 04:19:47 PM

I have been on both sides of this issue at times. But I have concluded that some kind of tangible, physical event took place and that the Resurrection is more than a symbolic turn of phrase. They could have proclaimed that Jesus was a spiritual presence in their lives after his death without arousing controversy or oppostion from Jewish or Roman authorities. It was their adamant insistence that it was something more which led to persecutions that would have been a powerful reality check to anyone who was simply deluded.

mailcarrier

11/08/2003 07:25:43 PM

Just wondering: If, as Bishop Spong believes, it is true that Mark is the first written gospel, he fails to discuss one very telling verse. This verse is contained in what he says is the original version of Mark. Mark 16:6 has these words: "He has risen! He is not here. See the place where they laid him." Now, it is certainly possible to believe that "he has risen" refers only to a "spiritual" resurrection, perhaps even the "he is not here" (spiritually?), but what are we to make of "See the place where they laid him"? Do you think such a statement might obviously imply that the body is missing???

bobafett

09/25/2003 02:52:43 PM

Spong makes me laugh. The Bible is a bunch of crap. The birth stories are all myths. The Resurrection did not happen (except in some imaginary way). And this is the religion he wants to save? To hell with it. Spong's basic tactic is to assert that everyone before Darwin (and why that guy is so central to Spong, I don't know) was an unlettered rube who would believe anything you told them. But at the same time the people who wrote the Bible were so damned clever that they were able to manipulate all these symbols to their own advantage, knowing they were false, in a way that ... well, only a heretical Episcoplian priest with too much time on his hands would be able to decipher. Therefore, since they are all dolts, we moderns who are so much more intellectually advanced can judge the historical accuracy of events recorded 2,000 years ago from our parlors. To hell with Spong's religion.

logophilios

06/21/2003 04:54:12 PM

I think the most pertinent modern perspective is Marcus J. Borg's, which says that the resurrection may, but did not **necessarily** have involved something happening to Jesus' corpse. Certainly those who identify "bodily" resurrection with **physical** resuscitation (albeit with paranormal powers), expose themselves to bad jokes about Easter being cancelled "because they found the Body." Whereas those who view Jesus' resurrection as his manifesting from heaven in an epiphany do not depend for their resurrection-faith on a re-animation or the purported emptiness of a tomb. Yrs, logophilios

konoina

05/16/2003 12:57:29 PM

He says, "for Christians to enter this subject honestly is to invite great anxiety." Hogwash and donkey poop If you're anxious about digging for TRUTH, then question what you believe. As for Christ, when you dig for Him, you will find Him, when you search with an honest, sincere heart. His Spirit is in this world convicting the hearts of every man. Soon a loving Saviour will become a severe judge.

konoina

05/16/2003 12:57:18 PM

"Is the literal claim of Easter still believable?" What does Spong intend to suggest? That truth changes over time? Is the fact I was born on a certain date going to change in 100 years? He states that because some "Biblical Scholars" are "moving away" from Bible truth in their views, the actual truth is changing over time. What was once truth is changing with the belief of the person. That is the modern message of "tolerance", which is not tolerance at all. Tolerance is putting up with. The modern "tolerance" is acceptance of a contradictory truth as just as true as another truth. This is like saying I believe that black is white, so black must be white, etc.

dejesus

04/21/2003 02:29:51 PM

#4 Fallacy of detail: He says, "reading them in order will show how much exaggeration and growth in legendary material entered the story". First, as mentioned, one may or may not agree with Spong's ordering of the writing of the four Gospels. Second, what Spong regards as exaggeration may also be regarded as additional detail. Assuming his order correct, why wouldn't later versions contain more detail? Isn't that the way news works? In the first versions, there is only a sketch of events, while later versions add detail. Also, John, the stated author of the Gospel of John, was an actual disciple and was actually present during many of these events. Wouldn't it be natural for John to have many details, based on his own experience, that other versions might lack? These are only a few of the most glaring of fallacies. What is clear is not that the resurrection story lacks credibility, but that Bishop Spong does.

dejesus

04/21/2003 02:29:21 PM

#3 Fallacy of agreement: He says, "the authors of the gospels do not agree with each other in any essential detail of the Easter story except the assertion that Jesus had transcended death". First, if all accounts do agree that Jesus transcended death, why doesn't Spong believe this agreement? Second, if accounts of an event differ in details, that does not mean that the event did not occur: more likely, it means that one is reading accounts from different points of view. Third, if all four Gospels gave identical accounts of the events – which is what Spong seems to think the ideal – I, personally, would be highly suspicious. The differences between the Gospels make them believable, like different versions of a crime. Furthermore, the Gospels do agree on the general sequence of events: first, in and around the tomb of Jesus; later, where the disciples were staying; finally, in other more distant locations. To say they agree on no "essential detail" is simply wrong.

dejesus

04/21/2003 02:27:22 PM

#2 Chronology: He says, "There are five portions of the New Testament that purport to give us knowledge of the events of Easter. The earliest one was written by Paul in the mid-50s" What proves that Paul's is first? Suppose Paul's is first: Does that make it the best description? Paul isn't a historian. Plus, Paul was not an eyewitness, as others were. More chronology: He says, " it would be another 30 years before Luke would write the story of the ascension of Jesus" and "when the later gospels of Luke and John were written, between the years 88 and 96 of the common era". This makes no sense. Jesus predicted the destruction of the Temple in Jerusalem, which occurred in 70 AD. Gospel writers wanting to convince readers of Jesus would mention this. None do. So the original Gospels were written before 70 AD. Trying to cast doubt on Gospels by making them seem later is an unworthy trick. Furthermore, even if they had been written later, that would not make them incorrect.

dejesus

04/21/2003 02:18:18 PM

I find that the argument by Bishop Spong has several fallacies. I feel these are fatal to his point. Denying the opposition: He says, "Can we get beyond such legendary details as angelic messengers, empty tombs, and resuscitated bodies". He is entirely dismissing the main point of the debate. Once the reader concedes that there is no empty tomb or resuscitated body, the "debate" is over. No need to read further! Appealing to authority: He says, "no creditable New Testament scholar in the world, Protestant or Catholic, will defend those simplistic propositions" and "The fact is that the great majority of contemporary biblical scholars have for almost 100 years been moving away from these conclusions". First, he is not naming scholars, what each believes, or why. I doubt if any Biblical scholars agree on anything. Second, if one does believe, one is not "creditable". Third, he implies that, since these are the experts, you'd better agree. Therefore, the only choice is to agree with his argument.

peggy61lynn

07/14/2002 09:17:02 PM

I'm reading yourremarks and I am amazed that even"Christians" hae a hard time showing love and understanding to one another. Why can't you each show respect for the others truth. We all have our own way of approaching the truth of God in our lives and I dare say none of us has the right to judge the other. I tend to agree with some of Bishop Spong's ideas but most of the metaphores of the ancient's have a place in the core of my faith as well. How each of us experiences God is not for another to judge. This is where I find my fundamental friends seem to come up short. God's truth to me may well not be the truth God imparts to you. Let's look at the ideas Bishop Spong presents without judgement--just comment.

Soul_Alive

03/31/2002 12:22:03 PM

Good Lord, where's the grace? Seems Jesus' own command to love one's brother/sister as oneself is often forgotten in these posts. It's necessary to have healthy debates about faith and life and good to share one's questions and thoughts. It seems, however, that most of the responses here essentially attack Spong, rather than debating or refuting his thoughts. I see too many words like "fraud" and "hack" levied against him. Seems that especially at Easter we should be more gracious toward others -- including those with whom we disagree. Best to clearly and thoughtfully attack arguments rather than the person making them. Peace to all.

Christ4me

03/29/2002 12:47:55 PM

We have been warned that in the last days there would be men who love themselves more than God. Roman 1 The carnal man cannot understand the things of God because his mind is at enmity with God. He wrangles with his unbelief, never coming to a knowledge of the truth, and finally exalts his own imaginations against the knowledge of God. He imagines that unless he is privy to the spiritual, it doesn't exist. Surely God is not speaking to any of us humans; if God was, surely he, Bishop Spong, would know about it he believes. ON THE CONTRARY--"Blessed are the eyes which see the things that ye see: For I tell you, that many prophets and kings have desired to see those things which ye see, and have not seen them; and to hear those things which ye hear, and have not heard them." Luke 10:23-24. Consider yourselves blessed. Rejoice belivers.

sivreis

11/20/2001 04:38:05 PM

I can't see how Bishop Spong is supposed to lead Christians in his church when he is as much a Christian as he is a astronaut. Instead of using the internet to debase his supposed religion, Spong should use it to look for new work.

jerry2911

11/13/2001 02:27:59 AM

Mr. Spong has made a hobby--no, a career out of watering down Christianity until it is "acceptable" to non-Christians and far-left Christians. With his latest two-bit idea--namely, that the Resurrection is no more than a feel-good metaphor--Spong makes Christianity completely unrecognizable to mainstream Christians. If Jesus did not rise from the dead, wherein lies his power over death? If he who was the son of God (or does Mr. Spong deny this as well?) could not overcome the grave, why should we believe we can? The Resurrection is not a "legendary detail," any more than the presence of the Holy Spirit in the life of a believer is a chemical phenomenon in the brain. Easter is the crux (no pun intended) on which Christianity has rested for 2000 years. It is our source of hope, and our source of salvation. Mr. Spong, for heaven's sake, debunk Jonah, or Job, or Adam and Eve, but leave salvation alone.

c_james

05/07/2001 06:41:11 PM

Mr. Spong makes two gross errors in his essay. The Bible was not wrong when it was used to condemn heliocentrism, support slavery, etc. -- the Bible was either misinterpreted or taken out of context in all of those cases. His second mistake is in pushing back the dates of the gospels to 70-100 CE, a date that is not defendable with the texts themselves or with extrabiblical evidence. Besides, Paul's account of the resurrection pushes its source date back to a time before 1 Corinthians was written in ~50 CE.

JimboBillyBob

05/07/2001 07:29:56 AM

I personally want to thank Bishop Spong for inviting us to reflect on Easter this way. I don't know if a dead man got up and walked out of his tomb, and the Biblical accounts are suspect because of their inconsistancy and the fact that they were written years after the alleged miracle. For me, this does not at all negate my Christian faith, nor does it preclude me from believing in Miracles. I have personally seen and experienced miracles, things which cannot be explained apart from God, a God who has in my life and in others I have known cheated death and guided me to a new life. If I insist on believing in the resurrection, as in a man physically walking out of tomb, I am missing Jesus' message.

JimboBillyBob

05/07/2001 07:25:56 AM

Buxton: Thanks for bringing these columns to my attention. Spong very eloquently point out what I have come to believe: that people use religion and the Bible to cloak their bigotry. I don't find any references in Mathew Mark Luke or John about sexuality, but I find many about greed and judging others. How often I've heard the line "you're going to hell because the Bible says you are, but I'm not judging you, because the Bible says not to judge." Tough to follow the entire text, isn't it?

endom2x

04/26/2001 11:26:29 PM

Spong is a fraud. Imagine trying to debunk one of the central tenets of a faith of which he is supposed to be one of the leaders. What's that about?

SaberZedge

04/25/2001 11:11:14 AM

I am sure Big Bishop Spong is the smartest guy in the Episcopal Church. And if you dont agree with his rantings you are dishonest with yourself, just read paragraph 5. Hey, even preachers who still preach the bible are "well-meaning but not necessarily well-informed." And dont forget, honest people in this post-Christian era dont really believe in the bible anyway as stated in paragraph 4. But Big Bad Bishop Spong does know this (if he is honest with himself); that if Christ did not rise from the dead, then Christian faith is a fraud. Therefore Spong is a fraud because he pretends to be one who conveys the message of Christ just to collect a paycheck.

cturner14

04/24/2001 11:21:36 AM

buxton: pro-Spong, eh...? pastorgirl: see you over at the cagematch... later everyone!

tarrantf

04/23/2001 04:05:31 PM

How's the trolling, Buxton?

Buxton

04/23/2001 03:28:15 PM

Fellow Episcopalians, there are 2 new columns by Bishop John Spong at www.theposition.com which are definitely worth a read. One is titled "Is homosexuality really a sin?". The second one is juicy erotica and is titled "Not A Convential Affair" where an Episcopalian priest finds out what sex is all about. It is written under his pen name Bertrand Rennick.

boristspider

04/23/2001 01:39:49 PM

tarantf - This board is starting to thin out. Anyone interested in pursuing some of these topics (in a polite and dignified manner, hahah) please consider my invitation to pick this up at the Christian Cagematch thread in the bible/multifaith discussion area. I am personally interested in finding out how Narsil, Pastorgirl and Cturner, all believers of an inerrant Bible, came to at least two different views on the position of women in the Church. Has someone been INTERPRETING the Bible?? Shame, shame. ;) Boris

tarrantf

04/23/2001 12:03:03 PM

I've been out of town for nearly a week and am not surprised by what I've read. Spong does elicit conversation, doesn't he? If anyone, especiallly Narsil, is still around, I'd like to comment on the statement about Spong disagreeing with a few traditionalists and thereby insulting them at the last Lambeth Conference. This half-truth has been flung out by Spong's detractors for many months now. I say half truth because Spong was under hostile attack from militant African bishops who were attempting to have the Episcopal Church censured and even thrown out of the Anglican Communion. Unlike Narsil's incorrect comment, these are not simply a few innocent, traditionalist bishops with whom Spong disagrees. Let's please stop repeating this distortion, shall we?

cturner14

04/23/2001 09:55:04 AM

Spong is reintterperatting scripture for his own ends. Why, I probably will never know, nor do I care at this point. I have enjoyed the spirited discussion to this point. Sping did accomplish this: he brought people together with disparate beliefs for dialouge. We all have grown from this? hesedlv: "minister of gospel" Which gospel? I only know of one, all else, well... God is spirit, His word touches our lives deeper than mere intellect. The words of the Bible must go further down (18-inches) and touch our soul. Anything less is mere fiction.

cturner14

04/23/2001 09:50:53 AM

darnay2: I agree with PastorGirl, the Gospels are history. They were not written in the Hebrew of the old testament. They were written by four different individuals, one was not even Jewish. They were written to different audiences. I commend the Holy Spirit for directing the lives of those four to get me the complete picture of my Saviours life here on earth. everyone: imagine this. Two of you attend a meeting, one on one side of the room, the other on the other side. You both take minutes. You both meet to compare notes. Will they be the same? Of course not. Will they both be truthful? Yes. Meet ya'll in the gagematch discussion. Chris

ronford95

04/22/2001 10:37:56 AM

Why does everybody overlook the fact that the Bible is a spiritual work and everything should therefore be intrepreted as a spiritual message. The resurrection is just that, a spiritual message that reiterates the fact that Crhist was inhabiting a physical body for His work. Like the rest of us, their came a time when the body was no longer needed. When He re-appeared, it was in a form that the disciples recognised but no longer material. The true resurrection was the rebirth of the faith after the clergy had thought that they had suppressed it by destroying a body.

darnay2

04/22/2001 02:00:37 AM

I would also recommend everyone look into today's daily wisdom from the Dali Lama. it has to do with the ideological disagreemnts we have on these discussion boards. I know it made me think :)

darnay2

04/22/2001 01:57:11 AM

Just one last question. Does anyone here think Spong is trying to re-shape Christianity in a way that is more comfortable to him? I don't think he is. I think comfort would come from shutting off one's intellect and just accepting the outdated modes of tradition that have been handed to us, rather than take up the cross and follow our God-given and God-blessed sense of reason, right and wrong and learn the truth behind the mythology of our Holy scriptures. The more difficult path involves letting go of the old and familiar for what is new, dangerous, and alive.

darnay2

04/22/2001 01:54:23 AM

I've just read over the volumes of psots that have elapsed in the last 48 hours. All I can say is, WOW! And thank you, Narsil, for finally taking a moment to respond to Spong himself. btw...I was once seeking the living among the dead...then I left the traditional church behind and found more life then I ever had imagined was possible. But alas, noe of us has the corner on truth. None of us can legitimately say "I am right and you are wrong" when it comes to matters of faith. Scholarship, however is fair game. So I will call myself a christian still, because I seek to walk the path of most resistance. The pasth of following the still small voice of God inside me.

darnay2

04/22/2001 01:41:21 AM

Pastor Girl, No. The Gospels were not written as history. At all. ever. They were written following the midrashic tradition of hebraic storytelling. In addition, since the 4 gospels disagree with one another in so may ways, if they were history, they would render each other meaningless. Especially without corroboration. reading them as the Mythology they were intended to be makes them much more powerful than trying to squeeze them into the box of "historical fact".

alc

04/21/2001 04:41:15 PM

NO NEED TO DEFEND.....I KNOW HE LIVES AND MY LOVE FOR HIM GOES BEYOND MEASURE ..NOTHING ELSE TO SAY

hesedlv

04/20/2001 10:27:45 PM

I am a Minister of the Gospel, and a devoted follower of "The Way", since changed to Christian. I don't know what to believe about Easter, but I know God, and I know His/Her/It's Love. That seems way more important than arguing over the Bible, because arguing is not Loving, and that's all Jesus wants us to do.

cturner14

04/20/2001 08:19:59 PM

oh, forgot, everyone have a good weekend. I will be back on Monday. Yardwork and church, no rest for the weary. Let me know about the chat. Hope everyone has a good weekend too. Take care of the kids, I have four very loud ones that need to get to bed.

cturner14

04/20/2001 08:18:38 PM

Narsil, Pastorgirl, Denholt, Cturner, others... Yes, another discussion area would be fine. I think we have moved past Spong. I am glad, he weighes on my soul each time I read one. Marcus Borg is another. pastorgirl: The problem with the women in ministry issue is not that it is delicate but that it is complex and multifaceted (that's a double positive ;-)) Has anyone grabbed the Book and checked out my previous scripture references? The thing about scripture is that God used 27 different individuals and thousands of characters to give us His story. Understanding that Matt was written to a Jewish crowd and Luke was written to heathen, gentile dogs ;-) puts the differences in a new light...?

denholt

04/20/2001 07:34:07 PM

Just enough time for one more . . . pastorgirl writes: "The gospels, on the other hand, are clearly written as history. The authors intended them to be read, not as symbols or metaphors, but as history. "I too decided, after investigating everything carefully from the very first, to write an orderly account for you... so that you may know the truth... Luke 1:3-4)." The gospels would be much more convincing as history if their authors had been able to corroborate their accounts. A comparative study of them makes it impossible (at least for me, and many others I know) to accept them as an accurate historical record. Have a good weekend.

pastorgirl

04/20/2001 07:17:57 PM

cturner– your remark about women in ministry (several pages ago!) obvlously gets my goat. But you are a brother in Christ who clearly treasures and respects the Word of God, so I can't get too hot about it. I don't know if you're at all interested, but an excellent, scholarly, and biblically sound discussion of this issue can be found in "Women, Authority, and the Bible", ed. A. Mickelsen.

pastorgirl

04/20/2001 07:13:30 PM

Wow... I spend a couple hours out in the "real" world, come back and there are 2 pages of posts! Time to put on the hip boots and wade in (no slight intended). Boris... First off, hope your son is feeling better. Some things are more important than our theological plate spinning. Speaking of Scripture you said "It's all divinely inspired. But its not all right or accurate..." How can something be "divinely inspired" and not "right or accurate"? Are you suggesting that God would inspire a lie? (cont.) I agree that some of Scripture (much less than you would argue for) is not meant to be interpreted literally. But there are guidelines for interpretation– one being the context, another the genre or style of writing. A parable is a just that– a metaphor. Gen. 1-11 is written in Hebrew poetry, meant to be interpreted poetically (my fellow "fundie" brethren will get me for that one) not as history. (cont.)

pastorgirl

04/20/2001 07:13:11 PM

(cont.) The gospels, on the other hand, are clearly written as history. The authors intended them to be read, not as symbols or metaphors, but as history. "I too decided, after investigating everything carefully from the very first, to write an orderly account for you... so that you may know the truth... Luke 1:3-4). My problem with trusting my own discernment as to what is "divinely inspired" or "right and accurate" is that my sin keeps getting in the way. We all come to Scripture with cultural biases, presuppositions, and, yes, sin. My tradition (Presby) has a strong belief that when God's Spirit speaks to us it is confirmed within the body of Christ. Relying on individual inspiration can lead in extreme cases to a Jim Jones or a David Koresh. More commonly it leads to my seeing a lot more of "your sins" in Scripture than "my sins". I have more confidence in God's Spirit working thru the Christian community than in my own fallen wisdom.

denholt

04/20/2001 07:10:43 PM

Count me in -- but not until the middle of next week. I'm getting out of the city for a lloonngg weekend. (And remember: you can always set up your personal beliefnet e-mail account and conduct "sidebar" discussions one-on-one . . .)

Narsil

04/20/2001 07:05:59 PM

Sounds like a blast! Kind of like the X-WCC? I may need a new handle...

boristspider

04/20/2001 06:13:10 PM

(Cont'd) I propose the Multifaith Forum Discussion area. I'll call the discussion group Christian Cagematch. Join me for some fun. All are welcome. Check your egos at the door. (Narsil, I'll go down a Defcon level if you will.) I think it'll be a blast. (I'm calling it a Cagematch in jest, I think we can all come out standing and profit from the exchange as well.) Boris

boristspider

04/20/2001 06:08:30 PM

OK guys (Narsil, Pastorgirl, Denholt, Cturner, others...) I am personally having fun. But I don't like these public forums (I'm a lawyer, it takes me 1024 characters to say good morning!). I say we move this little shindig to a discussion forum, give it a fun name like "Liberal, progressive, conservative cage match" and toss some of these ideas around. B'net is eventually going to cycle this link lower and lower on the home page till its gone. I think we've actually got some real dialogue going here (I still have some serious gripes with Emilyanna and J-cpusa.) I'd like to start the discussion in a "neutral site" so we don't have an abundance of "fundies" or Godless humanists ganging up on an outnumbered few. Ideas?

cturner14

04/20/2001 05:24:51 PM

denholt: Yes we should temper correction of sin, with repentence of sin, and the sin of the "accuser". If a brother in the Lord is in sin - adultery, extortion, etc. then they should be dealt with by the one who is faulted or has authority over them. If they don't "see the light", then two go, and if they still don't see the light the whole congregation deals with it. The idea is that if you sin, then you ask for forgiveness and repent (turn away). If you continue, was there really repentence. p.s. everyone, we are not debating what is a sin, just sins as a whole. All of us will be suprised who is up there. Will I see Gandhi, I don't think so, Mother Teresa, maybe, the little old lady at the end of the pew, maybe. Will I be there - YES. Will my mother in law (raised in the Catholic Church) - NO. She has denounced Christ and its not the Catholic Churches fault; its her's.

denholt

04/20/2001 04:49:49 PM

N-- I'd consider it a clarification, since my syntax apparently led to a misunderstanding. D

Narsil

04/20/2001 04:41:06 PM

...I accept your apology, I guess.

denholt

04/20/2001 04:39:16 PM

Narsil-- My post CLEARLY states (with emphasis by me): . I'd just like the opportunity to toss around some ideas and not be met with responses ON THE ORDER OF "I disagree with you and because my version of Christianity is the true one, you are a non-Christian and will be dealt with accordingly in the afterlife." First of all, this is a GENERAL statement. My post was addressed to you BUT I DID NOT not attribute the quotes to you. When I use words such as "on the order of" that means "similarly to" or "like."

Narsil

04/20/2001 04:30:50 PM

Denholt: '[I'd rather] not be met with responses on the order of "I disagree with you and because my version of Christianity is the true one, you are a non-Christian and will be dealt with accordingly in the afterlife." ' I have certainly said things like the first two clauses ("my version of Christianity is the true one" and "you are a non-Christian"). I have never, on this forum, said the third one ("[you] will be dealt with accordingly in the afterlife"). I have specifically said the *contrary* several times-- I have said that "who is a Christian" is a completely different quesion from "who goes to Heaven". Please do not attribute statements to me which I have not made.

denholt

04/20/2001 04:28:31 PM

cturner14 writes: "every Christian has the authority to evaluate others spiritual walk" While this assertion is certainly debatable, let's assume that this is the case. How should one navigate the slippery slope of "we're all sinners, but I've chosen to call you on your particular sin because I am without sin"? (Calling to mind the biblical injunction, "Let he who is without sin cast the first stone.") Just curious.

cturner14

04/20/2001 04:21:38 PM

I John 5:12-14 tells me that if I have Christ in my heart I have life. Romans 10:9-10, 13 tells me how to get Him in there. John 1:11-13 tells me that Jesus' mission was to tell his own and give them life in His name. Paul reprimands the Romans and Corithians for judging others, especially to condemnation; however, every Christian has the authority to evaluate others spiritual walk. We were given the authority to handle conflicts of both spiritual and social within our local churches. If someone wants to join our church and their beliefs differ no can do. Will I have lunch with them, only if they chose not to tear down my faith. I am not having lunch with Spong.

Narsil

04/20/2001 04:09:41 PM

...God is punishing me... Ever since I compared Spong's prose style to Neil Diamond, I've had "I Am, I Said" running through my brain. Let that teach me charity. ...maybe if I play Eminem really loud, it'll drive Neil out. "You don't wanna f--- with Shady, 'cause Shady will f---ing kill you..."

denholt

04/20/2001 04:09:08 PM

(con't) Narsil also wrote: "I'm not trying to demonstrate *why* I believe Christianity to be true . . .I'm simply saying that I *do* believe it." Again, that's perfectly fine, and I think most of us here would agree with me when I say that you're not required to pass any litmus test for participation here. In other words, you don't have to convince me of anything. I'd just like the opportunity to toss around some ideas and not be met with responses on the order of "I disagree with you and because my version of Christianity is the true one, you are a non-Christian and will be dealt with accordingly in the afterlife." In other words, the reality is that we will encounter individuals who hold widely different beliefs from our own is a given when we sign on to beliefnet. In order to find common ground, I think we're best served by discussions which are not framed in "right v. wrong." I mean, these are our OPINIONS we're tossing around here.

denholt

04/20/2001 04:06:39 PM

Narsil wrote: "...yes, but I haven't done it -- have you?" Nope -- but I HAVE seen the photographs in elementary school geography class, and (I know you won't like this, but . . .) consider those photographs to be more reliable than the widely divergent gospel accounts of the "resurrection."

Narsil

04/20/2001 03:54:11 PM

denholt: 'It can easily be proven that Australia is a continent by flying over it with a camera.' ...yes, but I haven't done it-- have you? I believe that Australia exists *on authority*. Competent authority, to be sure. Anyway, this gets back to a statement I made earlier. I'm not trying to demonstrate *why* I believe (classical, traditional) Christianity to be true-- why I consider "Christ rose" to be a statement on the order of "Australia exists". I'm simply saying that I *do* believe it. So, here's where the rubber meets the road-- Given that traditional Christians believe that they know some facts which you don't, are you willing to have discussions with them? If not, "dialogue" only means "dialogue with people you agree with".

denholt

04/20/2001 03:43:12 PM

You've lost me with your analogy, Narsil. It can easily be proven that Australia is a continent by flying over it with a camera. As you know, this sort of proof is not available to those who wish to assert that Christ rose bodily. Further, you wrote: "He can respect someone who disagrees, but he can't consider that person's belief to be the equal of his own—because one belief is accurate, and the other isn't." Fine -- consider it unequal. But you will only ostracize people who would like to engage with you in dialogue if you keep reminding them that you think that your belief system is superior to theirs. That's all I've been trying to tell you -- admittedly, my temper HAS interfered -- for the last several days.

Narsil

04/20/2001 03:33:47 PM

Me: "I believe that "Christ rose bodily" is a true, factual, historical statement, and that means I have to believe that anyone who disagrees is mistaken." denholt: '…it's probably best if you keep that to yourself.' Let me offer this analogy: I believe there is a continent called Australia. That means perforce that I believe anyone who disagrees with me is mistaken. No judgement on the person's intellect, wisdom, or piety—I just think he holds an erroneous opinion. For a traditional Christian, "Christ rose bodily" is a factual statement, on the same order as "Australia exists". He can respect someone who disagrees, but he can't consider that person's belief to be the equal of his own—because one belief is accurate, and the other isn't. And, yes, I do think error is "inferior" to truth—don't you? As Ambrose Bierce said, "One must respect a neighbor's religion, in the same way that one must respect his belief that his wife is beautiful and his children are brilliant."

Narsil

04/20/2001 03:27:36 PM

Boristspider: 'I don't disagree so much with the things that you believe, but in the position that those beliefs absolutely define who is a Christian. I think we we all be surprised as to who ultimately comes to be in God's presence and who does not.' I should clarify: I think the question of "who ultimately comes to be in God's presence" is a *different* question than "who is a Christian". I believe that a good many Christians (by my strict definition) are in Hell; I may well end up being one of them. And I have a lot of confidence in the ultimate salvation of many who rejected the Christian doctrines (I'm not much worried about Gandhi, for example). I'm not not not talking about who God loves, or who is in God's favor, or who is doing God's will. I'm just talking about the more limited question: Who professes belief in the doctrines which have always, historically, been associated with Christianity.

Narsil

04/20/2001 03:23:11 PM

Denholt: ‘It's my understanding that Christians are followers of Christ. Period.’ I see three problems with that definition. 1. No Christian could then call himself, or anyone else, a Christian. How could we know what’s in our own hearts, let alone anyone else’s? The term would be usable only by angels. 2. I think there are many people who are truly “following Christ” without knowing it. “Sheep I have, which are not of this fold…” Many of those reject the tenets of Christianity, and reject the label ‘Christian’. Israel Bal-Shem-Tov followed Christ better than I ever will, but he would never let himself be called a Christian. 3. The flip side of #2—many who claim to (and even believe to) follow Christ, aren’t really doing it. “Not everyone who says ‘Lord, lord…’ ” …which is why the term “Christian” has usually been used, *not* to pronounce on the state of someone’s soul, but simply to assess whether his stated beliefs accord with the doctrines of a particular historical religion.

denholt

04/20/2001 03:19:43 PM

Narsil writes: "I believe that "Christ rose bodily" is a true, factual, historical statement, and that means I have to believe that anyone who disagrees is mistaken." If you "have to believe that anyone who disagrees is mistaken," it's probably best if you keep that to yourself. Since this is a voluntary forum and exchange of ideas, I don't think anyone appreciates when someone they've never met tells them they're "mistaken" (i.e., their beliefs are inferior). I think anyone should be able to make a point, question and challenge without DIRECTLY insulting another. Sometimes broad criticisms can border on insults, but that can't always be helped. For my purposes, I try not to use specific language (i.e. Eastern Orthodox, Baptist, etc.) when citing examples of institutions with belief systems differing from my own.

boristspider

04/20/2001 03:19:14 PM

Narsil - Fair enough. In that respect, I too have things that are not on the table. However, I *try* to draw the line at wholesale dismissals of other faiths (I admit however that its hard to communicate 1024 characters at a time without resorting to labels). Your faith is different than mine, as is Cturner, Pastergirl, et al. I don't disagree so much with the things that you believe, but in the position that those beliefs absolutely define who is a Christian. I think we we all be surprised as to who ultimately comes to be in God's presence and who does not. The only judgement I try to make in this lifetime is how well I and others maintain the 3 loves: God, neighbor, self. Gotta run. Sick son at home. Peace

Carolus

04/20/2001 03:15:19 PM

I believe in the incredible, the impossible, the resurrection, because without the bodily resurrection of Christ, the faith of two billion people rests on a lying lunatic. It sounds as if Sprong is trying to aruge himself out of belief, and not succeeding. Does the ressurrrection make logical sense? No, but I believe, as one of the Church fathers said, 'because it is absurd.' Christus ressurexit!Pax et Bonum.

Narsil

04/20/2001 03:05:27 PM

Boris-- Apology accepted. For my part, I hope you'll forgive me for my intemperate words. But I have to warn you-- for me to follow my faith (which shall remain nameless ;-) ), I have to believe in some doctrines. I have to consider them non-negotiable. I can discuss them with people who don't share them, but I can't "put them on the table", as it were-- I can't say "Well, maybe Christ rose bodily and maybe He didn't". I believe that "Christ rose bodily" is a true, factual, historical statement, and that means I have to believe that anyone who disagrees is mistaken. If this is out of bounds in this discussion, fair enough. If not, I hope we can all make allowances.

denholt

04/20/2001 02:53:36 PM

Priam wrote: '[To be a Christian] You must believe in Jesus Christ and that he was born of a virgin. You must believe that Jesus Christ rose physically from the dead on the third day.' About all of those "musts": were you told this by God, or by Christ? It's my understanding that Christians are followers of Christ. Period. I respectfully submit that NONE of us is even REMOTELY qualified to determine exactly who is a Christian, and I would hope that we could put an end to the "I'm a Christian But You're Not" thread which keeps appearing in these posts.

boristspider

04/20/2001 02:45:07 PM

Narsil I apologize if I gave the impression that I was telling you not to post. I just said that I don't think there will productive discussion between you and I. Feel free to comment. Despite our differences and even my anger (which I'm embarrased to admit, and for which I apologize) you are entitled to express yourself and your beliefs, as are we all. Boris

cturner14

04/20/2001 02:42:54 PM

denholt: agree, um maybe, yes Jesus told us in the Gospel's would be His, and you would know them by their fruit. My position (Biblical) is that if your fruit is not building up Christ and His Church, then it does not matter which denomination you are - Catholic, Orthodox, Episcapaleon (sic), Baptist (me), or Methodist (my family). Membership to a church or denomination, attendance, and or a good life does not a Christian make. Everyone: remember - all have sinned and fall short of the glory. When I get to heaven and they ask me why I am there, I will point to my Saviour and He will nod and welcome me home with open arms. Does Spong long for the day with the Saviour? Does he call on Jesus Christ to save him to the uttermost? Does he trust in Him and His word? What does he do to build up the saints? How many converts does he claim? Fruit folks, the seed has to take root, get pruned, and never stop growing.

Narsil

04/20/2001 02:39:51 PM

Priam writes: '[To be a Christian] You must believe in Jesus Christ and that he was born of a virgin. You must believe that Jesus Christ rose physically from the dead on the third day.' Well, I'll show my liberal colors here—I'm willing to cut some slack to someone who believes in the Incarnation and Resurrection, but doesn't believe in the Virgin Birth. To me, the Virgin Birth is most important as a *symbol* of the Incarnation—Christ's biological lack of a human father points to His true Father. I see no inconsistency (in principle) in believing in the Incarnation and not in the Virgin Birth. That's why I said I might not require adherence to the entire Nicene Creed. But I also said I was being more generous than many of my coreligionists in so doing... OTOH, one has to wonder why someone who can believe in the miracle of the Resurrection would have trouble with the comparatively modest miracle of the Virgin Birth.

denholt

04/20/2001 02:36:46 PM

cturner14 writes: "the Bible clearly states the positions within the local church and the sex of each office. Deacons are men, and Deacons wives are of course women." What the Bible does NOT clearly state, however, is whether this is prescriptive for all time. Actually, it's silent on that as on many other issues. Our culture clearly has evolved to give women the parity of which they are clearly capable and deserving. For example, my mother, at age 59, was recently promoted to Director of Marketing for her company. Should women be excluded from roles of leadership and service in the church because they have a vagina and not a penis? I think not.

denholt

04/20/2001 02:24:47 PM

cturner14: I agree completely and wholeheartedly with your and the Bible's definition of a Christian as being a follower of Christ. In keeping with this, then, it is completely UNSCRIPTURAL for anyone to arbitrarily make pronouncements -- in the manner of Priam -- as to who is a Christian and who is not. It's as simple as that. Religions, denominations and doctrine all arose from differing interpretations of the Bible.

Narsil

04/20/2001 02:22:35 PM

cturner14 writes: 'Does Spong actually read these posts?' I doubt it... He's not much interested in discussions with people who disagree with him. WHen he went to the worldwide Anglican meeting at Lambeth a couple of years ago, he was very frustrated by the presence of more traditional Christians from other countries; he ended up attacking them in borderline-racist language. I'm not sure that all his columns here are original-- they duplicate very closely material he's already written. This entire four-part series, for example, could have been put together by a competent secretary armed with a copy of Spong's "Resurrection: Myth or Reality?" (and maybe "The Bishop's Voice" to fill in some gaps). So the level of his involvement with Beliefnet is questionable. (...unless, of course, Buxton is really him?... Nah.)

cturner14

04/20/2001 02:18:45 PM

denholt: change for change sake is like saying after 20 years of driving to work the same way, you just go a different route. Not because they built a newer, faster road or the way you were going was not working out. Many times change is good, but the question of why always has to be asked. Also, the Bible clearly states the positions within the local church and the sex of each office. Deacons are men, and Deacons wives are of course women. Preachers can be anyone, teachers are audience dependent. There are dozens of references, a chat will not suffice. Therefore, if a church wants a directors job (not in the Bible) to change requirements, then not a problem, but the Bishop, Deacon, elder are spelled out. That would be change for sake of the person doing the changing.

Narsil

04/20/2001 02:16:38 PM

denholt, boristspider: Both of you have said you don't want to talk with me any more-- which is fine. But both of you have also recently addressed posts to me. So... do you want me to respond or not?

cturner14

04/20/2001 02:12:52 PM

Amazing how when we vere off the topic of the article, we get right back to it - Biblical authority. Churches aside, denominations aside, styles of worship aside; we have to get back to the basics - Did Christ rise from the dead bodily? I have read book, upon book on the subject. I have studied how we have gotten the translations we have. I understand the perceived "problems" we have with them, but one thing remains true to me - it is the Word of God. I believe/know they are inerrent in the original text. The trick for us comes in our ability to do proper study on them, understand there relevancy, and then engraft their true meaning in our hearts/soul.

cturner14

04/20/2001 02:12:02 PM

con't Scripture does give a definition of a "true Christian" - follower of Christ. Scripture tells us who Christ is - Jesus, the Son of God. He claimed it, Paul, Peter, James, Jude, and Luke substantiated it. Thousands of early converts knew it, shared it, and kept it alive until the complete scriptures were written and compiled. Many did not agree, many strayed for their own personnel reasons, but enough stayed true to give us the Bible (Word of God) we have today. Trust me when I say this: I analyze gov't docs for a living and the Bible is easier to understand than those. I will never argue that proper tools are needed, study skills, and dicsernment from the Holy Spirit; but with all of those, anyone can be a Biblical Scholar.

denholt

04/20/2001 02:12:02 PM

cturner14 writes: "Liberal's seem to want change for change sake" When I was a child, about 11 years old, I asked my Sunday School teacher why our church (Christian Reformed) was to averse to allowing women to be deacons and elders. He told me, "You don't want change for change's sake." I never understood what that meant and I still don't. Today, in 2001, women can serve as deacons, elders and even ministers in the Christian Reformed Church thanks to a synodical decision in 1992. I thought at the time and I still think that such a change was for allowing everyone to serve in the church regardless of gender -- and not just for the sake of making a change.

cturner14

04/20/2001 02:05:14 PM

con't Liberal's seem to want change for change sake, Fundamentalist by far want things to stay the way there were when they became fundamental, but Progressives (my def.) kept the main things the plain things and grow within the framework given. i.e. organs were taboo in the 16/1700 and yet we have them today; powerpoint was not available 10 years ago, but that is no reason we can't use it today; Christ rose from the dead and will return one day to call His own home. I ask that we all keep it in perspective. p.s. Does Spong actually read these posts?

denholt

04/20/2001 01:54:36 PM

Re biblical accuracy: the gospel accounts of the birth of Christ, his life, death and "resurrection" all vary too widely to support any claim of biblical infallibility or inerrancy.

boristspider

04/20/2001 01:41:55 PM

Pastorgirl: (cont'd from below) It's all divinely inspired. But its not all right or accurate, and its not all to be taken as literally true. How about the Genesis story. The authors and editors of Genesis were not interested in a scientific explanation of the beginning. They were trying to tell the story of man's separation from God's love. I absolutely reject the literal accuracy of the Genesis story as an account of the creation of the world. I also absolutely believe that the Genesis story is a powerful explanation of God as the first cause of all things and the awesome power that was revealed in the creation. The Big Bang and evolution are not a threat to my belief because I look for the deeper meaning in the Judeo Christian creation story.

boristspider

04/20/2001 01:34:44 PM

Pastorgirl. It's not about picking and choosing. Its about recognizing the importance of metaphor in explaining what is, for humans, unexplainable. For instance, on the resurrection. Something wonderful happened. Something extremely difficult to explain, and, more importantly, to communicate to others. I'm not saying physical rescussitation of Christ's body did not occur. I'm just saying that the physical rescussitation could be a "myth," in the sense that it is an attempt to explain through metaphor what could not be otherwise explained in the language and context of their time. What if the resurrection were a transcendental experience in which God, through no physical miracles, raised Jesus into himself? (Similar, but very different, from Buddha's enlightenment under the tree.) I think that there is a powerful message in that possibility as well. I am open to either possibility. Either way, something divine occurred. My belief in that is very Christian.

pastorgirl

04/20/2001 01:09:32 PM

Borist– What you wrote is dangerously close to a clasic orthodox definition of divine inspiration– one I would (more or less) agree with. I'm having trouble putting that together with some of your earlier statements about Scripture and Spong's position. My conclusion (please correct me if I'm wrong– I'm not trying to judge, but simply to understand) is that you believe God worked in a supernatural way in and thru the authors of scripture, but you reserve the right to decide for yourself which things are divinely inspired and which are not.

boristspider

04/20/2001 12:27:56 PM

Pastorgirl, by divinvely inspired I mean that God revealed himself to the authors of the Bible, to the Jews and to the early Christian church. Wrote they recorded, and this is the important point, was their comprehension of what was revealed. They recorded it in terms that they understood, according to their language, their culture and their individual experiences. Gotta go now. Lunch.

boristspider

04/20/2001 11:57:32 AM

Priam - The question is, with respect to judgmental people who use their "faith" as the litmus test for the worthiness of all others, who spend more time debating doctrine than following Christ's commandments--are these people true Christians? Our belief is the way we say "Lord! Lord!" But Jesus said he COULD NOT CARE LESS how, when and how often we say Lord Lord!! You wanna know God, keep his commandments. I'm sure those in the convservative crowd can sing along with me "Love God with all your heart, all your sould and all your mind. Love your neighbor as yourself." Two simple commandments(apparently God saw how badly we had botched the job with 10). They are like breathing. Every body does them to some extent, but most do it badly and without contemplating their importance. When they become second nature then we can move onto doctrine. It's like running. You're never going to run your best if you don't make proper breathing second nature.

pastorgirl

04/20/2001 11:51:41 AM

Borist– For the record, I never used (nor do I feel comfortable with) the term "inerrant" re: Scripture. The word I used was "infallible"– theological hair-splitting perhaps, but to me an important distinction. Actually, I'm pretty comfortable with your phrase that the compilation of the canon reflects a "corporate expression of faith". I think that pretty much summarizes what we've been discussing here. You can't prove the Bible (or the resurrection) is true. But the Christian church, through centuries of history, church councils, etc., has defined what it stands for– its "corporate expression of faith". To strict (dare I say fundamentalist?) empiricists this is simply silly superstition and ignorant myths. But to me and millions of others, it is the cornerstone of a powerful and living faith. The Christian Church i a community that believes something. (cont.)

pastorgirl

04/20/2001 11:51:22 AM

(cont.) I would be interested (really– I'm not just been cheeky) in what you mean when you say the Bible is "divinely inspired" but not "dictated by God". If you mean God worked in and thru the authors, but did not dictate in a word-for-word stenography session, I would agree with you (an event so momentous it would probably signal the beginning of the end times!). But looking at the rest of your posts, I don't think that is what you meant...?

Priam

04/20/2001 11:46:26 AM

Boris, you are correct in saying that I do not know your beliefs. I did not nor do not claim to know them. What I wrote down was the vere core beliefs that one must possess for the Christian faith. Lurk around on the Catholic boards and you will see even the most liberal of Catholics professing to these beliefs. Spong reminds us in every column he writes (literally) that he does not hold these beliefs. Not only does he not hold them, he feels threatened enough by them to repeatedly attack and ridicule Orthodox Christians. If all on this board held these beliefs, then the argumentary tone would not be there. Like I said, Spong is of a different faith which he borrowed the name "Christian" for. As Narsil said, it is productive to let people know that there is a much bigger and older faith out there that has used the name "Christian" a lot longer.

hawker

04/20/2001 11:45:54 AM

Boristspider Well said! I was hoping that there were still some Christians out there who can see that God won't be confined to a cookbook.

boristspider

04/20/2001 11:29:12 AM

Priam - You don't know what I believe. You only know that I have defended Spong's and others' rights to belief in a more spiritual, non-physical interpretation of the resurrection message. I repeat, you don't know anything about me. The time is long since past when the superstitious elements of Christianity can call the tune for the rest of us. My faith is endowed with a sense of mystery, a sense of mystery that is probably not accessible to those who take the Bible literally and can't see beyond a literal, physical interpretation of the metaphors used in scripture. My God is a great God. The God of the Big Bang, of strong and weak nuclear force, of quantum mechanics, of chaos theory, love and compassion. The Father of the prodigal Son. The Hen gathering her chicks. I don't doubt that he has the power to accomplish the miracles in the Bible. I just think those miracles are somewhat prosaic given the power that is visible to us everyday in the universe we inhabit.

denholt

04/20/2001 11:21:00 AM

True confession -- I was "baiting" Narsil with that line about Spong speaking at an Eastern Orthodox Church. I do know that he's supposed to be in the area again soon and will post anything I find out. I also know that he will be at Christ Community Church, Spring Lake, MI, where I attend when I'm at my family's summer home, for a series of lectures, discussion and worship service from September 28-30 of this year. Details can be found at www.christ-community.net/html/cntr_for_religion_life.html

denholt

04/20/2001 11:08:19 AM

Priam writes: "You can dance around it all you want and you can call yourself whatever you want, but to Catholics and Orthodox this is not Christian. Don't feel alone, we also do not consider Mormons and Jehova [sic] Witnesses Christians as well." This is unmitigated bullshit! Priam purports to speak for ALL Catholics and Orthodox in determining that ALL progressive Episopalians (as well as Mormons and Jehovah's Witnesses) are not Christian! I've seen some pretty incredible examples of self-righteousness sanctimony before, but this has to rank near the top. Amazing. I'd be interested to know what Christ would have to say about this.

lruds

04/20/2001 11:05:39 AM

Denholts, you mentioned in your last post that John Shelby Spong will be lecturing at a church downtown Chicago next month. Would you give more details? What date? What church? Thanks.

Priam

04/20/2001 10:47:05 AM

In that regard Boris, no common ground can be found. Such topics can be discussed among Orthodox and Catholics whom all share these fundamental beliefs. To discuss the resurrection with "progressive" Episcopalians is the same scenario as discussing it with Moslems who also do not believe Jesus physically rose from the dead. However, Catholics, Orthodox, and certain Protestants share more common ground with Moslems in that we do believe in a transcendant God.

Priam

04/20/2001 10:43:49 AM

For Catholics and Orthodox the very "law" is basic. As I will state and Narsil has repeatedly drummed out that you must first believe in God. A transcendant God who answers prayers, performs miracles, knows the future, and is the creator of the universe. You must believe in Jesus Christ and that he was born of a virgin. You must believe that Jesus Christ rose physically from the dead on the third day. As the "progressive" Episcopalians do not believe in a transcendant God, logic will lead us that they will not believe any of the others as well. You can dance around it all you want and you can call yourself whatever you want, but to Catholics and Orthodox this is not Christian. Don't feel alone, we also do not consider Mormons and Jehova Witnesses Christians as well.

boristspider

04/20/2001 10:31:06 AM

Denholt - I wish I lived in Chicago. I'd love to be there. I love it when God uses irony to make a point.

denholt

04/20/2001 10:23:50 AM

What a coincidence! This morning on the train into downtown Chicago I met a gentleman who is Eastern Orthodox. He invited me to attend his church and -- it gets better -- to accompany him to the lecture by Bishop John Shelby Spong which they are hosting next month. Narsil -- care to join us?

boristspider

04/20/2001 10:01:09 AM

Cturner - I'm progressive. No apologies, no excuses, no need to explain myself to anyone. We've all got to go where we are led. I have no problem with anyone's particular path. But I don't sit idly by and let others denigrate the path I've been called to. Nor do I let those who claim to have a monopoly on the truth skate by without challenge. Pastorgirl interprets the history of the Bible's compilation as a mark of its inerrancy. That's great. I'm glad here belief is based on serious inquiry and a search for understanding. I interpret the same history as a sign that the Bible is a corporate expression of faith. Serious, holy, devout, multifaceted, divinely "inspired" but not dictated by God, and not the whole story. Peace

cturner14

04/20/2001 09:46:07 AM

Sorry to come back in so late, I was out proselityzing last night. Our church had 124 salvation professions, and I was on one of the visitation teams. Worship is as much personal as corporate. Where does the Holy Spirit lead you. There are several dozen churches in the same distance as my house is to the one I am a member of. About 10 are Baptist and 4 are Independent, Fundamental. Why dis I chose the one that I did - the Holy Spirit. That is why I can not argue about anyone specific church home. What I can, and will, discuss is the governing denomination.

cturner14

04/20/2001 09:45:48 AM

con't The Bible is infallible and on Faith I accept that. Spong seems to change parts that fit his beliefs. Sometimes you have to grab ahold of a map, trust it on faith, and follow where it leads. This is definitely an issue of fundies and libs. However, who out there are progressives. Ones that hold onto the doctrine and let loose on tradition when its Biblical and Spiritually appropriate?

boristspider

04/20/2001 09:34:53 AM

Narsil - Problem is, you don't just believe to the creeds. You think you have some sort of monopoly on them. I'm going to stop beating around the bush. You and I aren't going to find common middle ground. That's not because we have differing views, but that you give no respect to other's views. I have had many positive exchanges with posters on this site with whom I have disagreed on matters large and small. You however, run the risk of becoming a pharisee praying on a public street corner. You've turned the gospels into your new pharisaic law by which you hold yourself out to be closer to the truth than others. When Christ told the pharisees that man was the measure of the law, I would tend to think that this philosophy applies to interpreting the Gospels as well. In short, read between the lines. It's not about dividing people up based on doctrine, its about loving God, loving our neighbor and loving ourselves. I'm done responding to you.

Narsil

04/20/2001 03:21:48 AM

boristspider: 'Given that most people these days [want] easy answer not requiring them to think, I fully expect other more dogmatic forms of Christianity to prosper.' Any stigma will do to beat a dogma, eh, Boris? 'Happily, truth has never been determined by a majority vote.' It turns out you're mistaken on that point! You may want to read up about the Council of Nicea. (Or, for that matter, the Council of Jerusalem...)

Narsil

04/20/2001 03:16:16 AM

boristspider: ‘I’d be interested in seeing the divine orders granting you the power to define who is and isn't a Christian. Did God appear to you in a burning house plant? …’ Nothing so special. Belief in the Incarnation and the Resurrection has been a pretty standard touchstone of Christianity for a while now. (I’m being more expansive than some—many would require adherence to the entire Nicene Creed.) For what it’s worth, I really don’t regard “non-Christian” as an insult. There are many, very good and holy, non-Christians. Rav Soloveitchik was a better man than I’ll ever be. So how dare I say that he wasn’t a Christian? Well, he didn’t believe in the Incarnation and the Resurrection, and that kinda settles it… as he’d have been more than happy to tell you. You know, when a Moslem says to me, “You don’t believe Mohammad was a prophet—that means you’re not a Moslem!”, I take it in stride…

Narsil

04/20/2001 03:10:14 AM

Denholt: 'I don't believe anyone has offered any commentary -- positive or negative -- on your Eastern Orthodox Church.' Well, IIRC, people who hold to the historic Christian doctrines have been referred to-- on this very forum-- as "premodern", "fundie", "superstitious", "closed-minded", "arrogant", "frightened", "children"... I could find some others. And this would, naturally, encompass the Eastern Orthodox Church-- which tends to be very traditional on doctrinal matters. But I wasn't trying to engage in any tit-for-tat... It seems to me that if a bishop of the Episcopal Church posts controversial commentary, it reflects on the Church he belongs to. That’s a fair topic of discussion, here. Also, I felt the need to engage i-pcusa in *civil* discussion-- since someone on this forum called i-pcusa a "moron" for making a reasonable (if combative) post. I also have some close friends who are refugees from the ECUSA, so I think I'm entitled to express an opinion...

pastorgirl

04/19/2001 11:17:23 PM

denholt– There's a litle more to biblical infallibility than that. The compilation of the canon took place over several centuries during which there were several church councils. There were several factors involved in deciding which books got "in" and which were "out" including: apostolic authority (not necessarily written by an apostle, but somehow connected to one), use in the church, usefulness and edification, and witness of the Spirit (i.e. the Spirit speaks to us that these are in fact God's words). The men (sadly no women then) who were part of these councils were chosen for their scholarship, their wisdom, and their godliness. They approached this task with much prayer and humility. (cont.)

pastorgirl

04/19/2001 11:17:07 PM

(cont.) Many have been "shaken" when they realize the scriptures were compiled in this seemingly "human" manner. But, for me, the centuries of church history have demonstrated that God was, in fact, working in and thru the church fathers. The world is a vastly different place today than it was in the 1st century. Yet millions of Christians around the world today still hear God's Spirit speaking to them thru these ancient texts.

denholt

04/19/2001 10:55:20 PM

I have a question about purported Biblical infallibility: Doesn't anyone think that perhaps the biblical authors themselves simply wrote in the part about the Bible being divinely inspired and infallible? I mean, it's very likely that this is the case. I could write and publish a book and claim that every word was dictated by the Holy Spirit. Would anyone believe me? Doubtful. So why the facile acceptance of divine inspiration and biblical infallibility?

pastorgirl

04/19/2001 10:44:21 PM

denholt– It is heartening to see the degree of affection many have for the Episcopal Church. All too often I see a critical and destructive spirit in churches and denominations, leading to divisions and disillusionment. Whatever disagreements I may have with ECUSA (did I get initials right?), it is great to know so many have found healing and spiritual nurture there. Surely God can use such a loyal and affirming community (even if I think you're off base on some things!)

pastorgirl

04/19/2001 10:37:36 PM

Borist– I will sell you a map for just $39.95 along with a Ginzu knife and a bamboo steamer... nah, just kidding... Actually, I'm still formulating a (less flippant) response...

denholt

04/19/2001 10:18:45 PM

Narsil: I don't believe anyone has offered any commentary -- positive or negative -- on your Eastern Orthodox Church. Please refrain from denigrating the Episcopal Church which, as you should know from reading several recent posts to this forum, is dear to many of us.

boristspider

04/19/2001 09:51:16 PM

Pastorgirl - Thanks. I wish all exchanges between people of differing views on this site were as civil. Likewise, your analogy gave me a bit to think about. Namely, if a map is helpful, then where do I get a map? I know others, maybe yourself, think the Bible is a detailed map with specific instructions. I don't necessarily think this view is bad or wrong. However, I tend to think of the Bible more as notes left by explorers who have gone before me. Maybe that's the best we can hope for. Peace

pastorgirl

04/19/2001 09:27:50 PM

Boristspider– I find myself strangely taken by your adaptation of my camping analogy... while I'm still a "map" kind of gal (or a right-wing, narrow minded, uneducated fundie, depending on your point of view), I like your dual picture encompassing both the danger and the adventure of the woods (world). A nice balance to the fundamentalist (which I don't really consider myself) tendency to escape from this "evil" world and hide under the bed waiting for the 2nd coming. Thanks for giving me something to chew on for awhile...

boristspider

04/19/2001 09:09:56 PM

Narsil - I'd be interested in seeing the divine orders granting you the power to define who is and isn't a Christian. Did God appear to you in a burning house plant? Was it a vision? Was it perhaps, more likely, your own self satisfaction, growing just a bit more every day? In any case, I wouldn't be surprised if the Episcopalian church does shrink a bit. Given that most people these days won't easy answer not requiring them to think, I fully expect other more dogmatic forms of Christianity to prosper. Happily, truth has never been determined by a majority vote. Boris

Narsil

04/19/2001 07:51:32 PM

Hm... looks like the Beliefnet elves have been cleaning some of the posts off this board. Can't say as I blame 'em. (Somehow, my comment about goats survived...) i-pcusa: I think you're a little unfair when you say the Episcopal Church is "a humanistic organization lacking true Christian faith". Christian faith is *present* in the ECUSA-- it is, however, not required (even of the clergy), and is increasingly unpopular there. From all I've read, there are some conservative (i.e., faithful) dioceses, both high- and low-church; and there are also some liberal bishops who will nevertheless tolerate conservative parishes. But I don't hear good things about ECUSA div schools... Barring some revolution, I'd expect that most of the Christians in the ECUSA will have left within 20 years (scattering to Catholic, Orthodox, faithful Protestant, and "continuing Anglican" groups). But God's surprised me before.

Buxton

04/19/2001 06:54:17 PM

Fellow Episcopalians, Bishop Spong has two new columns at www.theposition.com that are well worth reading. One is titled "Is homosexuality really a sin?". The other is juicy erotica and is titled "Not a conventional affair" where an Episcopalian priest finds out what sex is really all about. It is written under Spong's pen name "Bertrand Rennick".

boristspider

04/19/2001 06:36:32 PM

Pastorgirl An interesting analogy. But, by your analogy the purpose of religion is to protect us from evil lurking in the dark woods. If this is the only point of spirituality then your need for direction and fundamental truth are well founded. If however, spirituality is a camping trip in which the scouts are there to experience the beauty of their environment in all its glory then a map is of less, though still some, importance. Here experimentation and exploration pay off. This is a good starting point for the different ways in which fundamentalists and liberals see the world. I think spirituality is a mix of the two analogies. The woods can be dangerous, but they are also beautiful. We aren't just trying to advance through the woods avoiding lurking danger, we are also explorers trying to uncover the beauty in the woods. Having a map is nice but so is wandering off the beaten path.

pastorgirl

04/19/2001 06:08:32 PM

Back to Spong: Imagine a boy scout troop. As they arrive in the middle of the wilderness for their annual camp out, their scoutmaster announces "there are many ways to the great campground" and everyone should "follow their own path". Bobby follows a cute little woodchuck. Jonny follows the path of a babbling brook. Billy pulls out a map, but is quickly derided as a literalist and "fundie." Each boy goes off in his own way. Within an hour all are lost and wondering in the woods, where they are eaten by bears (who are better organized with a more developed sense of direction). (cont.)

pastorgirl

04/19/2001 06:08:12 PM

(cont.) To me, this is what its like to have a church with no direction– whose leadership (i.e. bishops) don't believe in anything. Their flock is left wandering in the wilderness of life– lost and alone. Of course, we want a faith that is intellectually viable– that respects science and academic scholarship. We don't want to be spoon-fed "pat" answers. We don't want to be locked into rigid boxes. But we also want to be a part of a church that stands for something. We want to be discipled by godly men and women who believe in something. Ultimately, when we face the tough (often unanswerable) questions of life, that is the only thing that will see us through.

denholt

04/19/2001 06:07:52 PM

Thanks, cturner -- I'm quite familiar with the historical aspects you cite. Thankfully, we've moved beyond the Middle Ages. I PERSONALLY am predisposed to worshipping God in a building which is set apart for that purpose and is appropriately dignified and respectful. I PERSONALLY do not find large, sterile auditoriums an appropriate venue for worship. But that's my opinion. I don't claim that what's "right" for me in this regard is "right" for anyone else.

cturner14

04/19/2001 06:01:15 PM

denholt and others: Got to know the history of them. In the middle ages, they were the mandatory, megachurch of the town. I have visited many in Europe and the same feeling prevades all them - huge. The idea was to build a building larger the neighboring town, house all of the government functions not inside the local castle walls - taxes, census, court, etc. The stain glass windows were build to house specific stories of the Bible, all with a political slant, so that the uneducated townspeople could relate to the stories being told to them in the services which sometimes were not in their native tongue.

cturner14

04/19/2001 06:01:02 PM

con't There are some traditions to keep and some to move from. It was because of this that the puritans made sure that there churches were simple. I really don't care what the building looks like, as long as the message of Jesus Christ is preeminent there. Columns, glass, and statues don't help. Don't get me wrong, they are magnificant and should be preserved, but not required. Read Psalm 127:1, then I Cor 13, and lastly Heb 11:2 Those will tell you if the building you are in is the right one. Remember the church is not a building, its the bride of Christ, the body of believers.

pastorgirl

04/19/2001 05:58:46 PM

I have worshipped in tiny traditional churches, in gothic cathedrals (Greek Orthodox and Episcopal), in outdoor chapels, and now in one of those charismatic "megachurch shopping malls." What is key is to experience God's presence. Worship should allow me to hear God speak to me and touch my life in a powerful and life-changing way. Where it happens is not particuarly important. The state of my heart is.

boristspider

04/19/2001 05:54:18 PM

Cturner - Read the Oxford History of Christianty, a very well researched and balanced view of the last 2000 years of Christianity. In the 1400's people didn't understand the resurrection, the services were in Latin, they substituted saints for their old pagan gods. Their idea of being a Christian was worship on Sunday, keeping feast days and loyalty to the church. The middle ages were hardly the glory days of Christianity, they were the glory days for papal power and authority, but not for the spiritual health of the people. The upside to all of the skepticism and different views out there today is that more people are actually giving these matters serious thought.

denholt

04/19/2001 05:33:13 PM

"Megachurchs can be shopping malls, but we don't want to be in gothic cathedrals either." cturner14: May I ask why not a gothic cathedral? That is exactly the type of building in which I occasionally worship.

cturner14

04/19/2001 05:26:20 PM

I do agree... style of worship is very important - to individuals. I like what Paul said in 1 Cor 2,3. He only sees three kinds of people: unsaved (natural), saved, backsliden (carnal). My Dad will not go to church with drums, my wife will not go to church that disallows women in pants, I will not go to one that does focus. However, my view is that church is all week long. Sunday morning (or Sat for 7th Day) needs to be about corporate worship (prayer, tithes, Bible, and renewal. Megachurchs can be shopping malls, but we don't want to be in gothic cathedrals either. I say to all, in and out of this chat, worship has to go all the way to your soul and not stop at your emotions. Preaching must convict your heart, that's its very nature.

cturner14

04/19/2001 05:26:09 PM

con't Last night our Pastor preached on the faithfulness of God. I am reminded that we must strive to be just as faithful. I am disturbed not by changes in style of "service" but of substance, standards, and doctrine. No one in the 1400's doubted the resurrection story. We added organs in the 1600/1700, but we changed the Bible in the 1900. I say make the main things the plain things. Have you honored God today?

boristspider

04/19/2001 05:14:37 PM

Cturner - There are few things as personal as the style and manner in which a person worships. When Paul talked about praying in a distant room in your house, he was not just saying pray privately, but that prayer is private. To a certain extent, though it is conducted in public, worship is the same way. I am happy that you and your wife have found a faith and a style of worship that connects you with God. Others will find different styles that have the same effect. There are few criticisms that evoke as emotional and heated of a response as a criticism of one's style of worship. Tread lightly on that ground. There is more to be gained by respecting the differences than trying to convince others of "one true" style of worship.

denholt

04/19/2001 05:08:05 PM

cturner14: I occasionally attend high church Episcopal worship to do just that: worship. I feel that many churches -- especially the conservative Christian "megachurches" of the Assemblies of God, Baptists, etc. -- focus too much on "worship as entertainment." With the Episcopal liturgy (similar in many, if not most, aspects to that of the Roman Catholic Church) I am focused exclusively on worship. The words are beautiful and the music and incense are dignified and worthy offerings to God. I'm disappointed to hear that many of these "megachurches" design their worship centers to resemble suburban shopping malls and multi-screen movie theaters so that their members will have a more "familiar" setting in which to meet.

denholt

04/19/2001 04:52:52 PM

Boris-- I agree, to an extent. I'm just weary of all of the irresponsible Spong-bashing (I won't even dignify it by responding directly, despite several invitations to do so). By all means, everyone/anyone should feel free to disagree with him, but he's been called "wacky" and has had many other DIRECT personal attacks leveled against him by purported "Christians" that it's rather disheartening to stick around.

cturner14

04/19/2001 04:52:50 PM

denholt and others: One reason my wife left the Catholic faith, and sought the Lordship of Jesus Christ, was that she felt that in all of its liturgy, repetition, prayers, confessions, etc. that there was no relationship with her Creator. Two years later I was saved (5 years ago) after having spent my life thinking I was a Christian because I visited my Uncle's and Grandparents Methodist church on the holidays. All of my family had been saved in those churchs, put the preaching of the Gospel had left them and it became less about Him and more about those churches. Now, I will only attend/belong to a church that puts the deity of Christ first and preaches that understanding comes from the Bible. I pray that all here have/find a church, no matter what name is on the side, that believes in the truth and builds up the faith. Unfortunatly Spong here has reworked it to his own scholarly ends - where is the 18 inch drop?

boristspider

04/19/2001 04:41:01 PM

Denholt I also think its important to hang out on some of these more public forums so that newcomers to B'net realize that there is a broad spectrum of Christian (and other) faiths represented here. I was introduced to the discussion groups by someone on one of these comment boards, so its sort of like evangelizing--progressive style.

denholt

04/19/2001 04:33:32 PM

Boris-- Nor did he implore his followers to arrest their intellectual development, or to restrict their reading comprehension to literal interpretation. See you soon over at one of the other forums!

boristspider

04/19/2001 04:28:55 PM

Denholt - Amen. When asked what the greatest commandment was, Jesus did NOT reply "Develope a really detailed doctrine of the Trinity." Boris

denholt

04/19/2001 04:25:05 PM

Thanks for the tips, boris. I think I'll move on over there. I've had my fill of revisiting the catechism and creeds which were "drilled" into me as a youth. Repetition does not make the heart grow fonder . . . and there's just a bit too much of that around here.

boristspider

04/19/2001 04:22:25 PM

Last post was addressed to Denholt. Sorry

boristspider

04/19/2001 04:21:28 PM

You should check out the Anglican/Episcopalian discussion boards here as well as the Progressive Christianity board. There are even some good discussions (and not a few flaky ones ;)) on Christianity Critique and Challenge. Have you checked out Quodlibet online. Its a fairly good scholarly theology journal on the web. Good mix of progressive, conservative theology. All fairly scholarly. Peace

denholt

04/19/2001 04:16:04 PM

Thanks, Boristspider, your words of welcome are appreciated. Since I know that I am most certainly NOT welcome in the Fellowship of the Convinced (aka "Christian" Fundamentalists Fearful of New Insights and Responsible Scholarship) because I use God's gift of the intellect, it's heartening to know that there is a Christian community which accepts me Just As I Am, despite my doubts and inability to sit back and agree to it all like a zombie.

Narsil

04/19/2001 03:51:24 PM

cturner14: '...on the fundamentals of doctrine, there can be no difference for full fellowship.' I absolutely agree. In the presence of non-Christians, we can see that what unites us is bigger than what divides us-- but there *are* still things which divide us, and they are important. Given our disagreements about, say, the Lord's Supper and the nature of Scripture and Tradition, we couldn't belong to the same church. Our respective churches could work together, and we can strive for charity, but we shouldn't pretend the differences don't exist. Also, I think we can agree that some "fundamentals of doctrine" are more fundamental than others? e.g. believing *that* Christ died and rose, is more important than one's beliefs about precisely what His death and resurrection did.

cturner14

04/19/2001 03:44:32 PM

denholt and nasril: thank you for your comments. Not that I have read every page (29 now), but thank you for your kind words of agreement and difference.

boristspider

04/19/2001 03:44:25 PM

Thanks Denholt. The Episcopal Church welcomes you (and J-CPUSA and Emily, even if right now I cannot bring myself to). Boris

cturner14

04/19/2001 03:43:48 PM

con't everyone: After reading many of your posts, I have been able to guess your spiritual profile with amazing accuracy (+75%). The easter season as we celebrate has become something of a "hallmark" holiday. We get all dressed up, get to our local church, here the same message as last year, and go out to eat. The same happens around Christmas. I am an Independent, Fundamental Baptist who is not afraid of the Gospel of Jesus Christ. Everytime I witness a baptism (full immersion) I am witnessing a picture of what Christ did for me about 1970 years ago. Everything in the Bible hings on the fundamentals of faith. 1 Cor 15 speaks of a time where I will put away this corruptible body of sin for a new immortal, uncorruptable one and live forevermore with my Saviour and Lord. If Christ, who had an incorruptable body through the Virgin Birth, did not get His on His resurrection then when do I get mine? If Christ could not be raised physically, then were is Elijah and Enoch?

cturner14

04/19/2001 03:42:53 PM

cont' As far as differences in the community go... I can understand through tradition and belief that various interpertation exist, but on the fundamentals of doctrine, there can be no difference for full fellowship. You know what I like about the book/movie Left Behind, the visitation Pastor did not go on the first go around. He never let the message of salvation drop the 18-inches from his head to his heart (that's what is wrong with purely scholarly research on spiritual matters). On that same note, I think many of us will be suprised who will be the sheep and who will be the goats in heaven on the day of judgement.

denholt

04/19/2001 03:37:30 PM

boristspider: I understand your frustration and empathize completely. A recovering member (from birth through college) of the Christian Reformed Church, I occasionally attend worship in an Episcopal parish here in Chicago and have been moved as never before. I especially appreciate the worshipful focus of the liturgy as opposed to the "preacher-centered" worship services of the fundamentalist and many evangelical Christian churches. Of course, it is the passive, captive audience of those churches (no questioning allowed; you just go to church and are told what to think) which breeds the sanctimony and ignorance which we often witness in these online forums. And more than in almost any other Protestant church, the Episcopal Church makes room for my doubts. If I do return to church membership one day, it will be in the ECUSA.

boristspider

04/19/2001 03:24:47 PM

Narsil - Your head should hurt. I don't always turn the other cheek. The Episcopalian church has played a tremendous role in my life recently, it has been a place of refuge and healing and quite frankly, has brought me to know Christ and God. If some foolish children want to speak cruelly and stupidly about the church, I'm not inclined to respond with kind words of enlightment and reconciliation. Nor should I have to.

boristspider

04/19/2001 03:13:46 PM

Jcpusa & Emily - Just to be clear. Most people on this board, even those with wildly differing views, are perfectly willing to engage in civilized in civilized discussion, even slightly uncivilized discussion, as to the topics at hand. None of us should have to tolerate out and out insults. And Narsil, its obvious you would defend the point of view of those two, but if you are also defending the way in which they expressed themselves, then what kind of Christian do you claim to be? Are we seeing the birth of "Evangelism through Rudeness." I can see the evangelical book section now. Titles like "Witnessing Through Insults." "He Was the Way, the Truth and the Light, and Anyone who Says Otherwise is Itching for a Fight." What a laugh!

Narsil

04/19/2001 02:55:23 PM

Jpcusa and Emilyanna-- Don't sweat it. Check Matt 5:11-12, and be cool. Kristos anesti!

Narsil

04/19/2001 02:48:32 PM

My answers to starrcross: 'When you accept the Risen Christ into your heart, do you do it physically or spiritually?' Spiritually. But, of course, I believe "spirit" is more real than "matter". Accepting Christ is a real, objective, factual spiritual event-- but humans don't have the equipment to measure it. (I expect angels do.) 'When believers encounter Christ is his presence physical or spiritual?' Both have happened. Thomas put his hand into Christ's side-- that's pretty physical. Paul says Christ was resurrected in a "spiritual body", but that body seems able to interact with the physical world, so someone could encounter Him physically. 'At the eucharist blessing do the bread and wine become the body and blood physically or spiritually?' Both, of course. "Body, blood, soul, and divinity", as the Catholics say. But cturner and foust probably disagree with me...

Narsil

04/19/2001 02:43:18 PM

cturner14: 'Christians are a group of people who believe the same - virgin birth, death on the cross, burial, and resurrection for the atonement of sin. Catholics, Orthodox, and Protestants should not be grouped together because beliefs and practices, including what is stated above, are so different.' There are wide differences *within* each community, to be sure... but on all the points you mention, the "conservatives" within each group agree with each other much more than they do with the "liberals" within their own group. On this forum, faithful Catholics, Orthodox, mainline Protestants, and Evangelicals have been in basic agreement-- so on this group, we can all be lumped together in one category. To be sure, if we were talking among ourselves, we'd see big differences on all kinds of matters–but on this board, where we're arguing about basics (is there a God? did Christ rise from the dead?) we're pretty much indistinguishable. (We're all premodern fundies here...)

Narsil

04/19/2001 02:34:49 PM

Me: 'Any conversation a Christian has with a non-believer about core Christian doctrines is going to have apologetic elements.' denholt: 'Presuming, of course, that you are in a position to decide who is a Christian or a non-Christian.' No, I'm scarcely in a position to do that. If someone professes to believe in the Incarnation and the (literal, bodily) Resurrection, I take him at his word and call him a "Christian". If he doesn't, I don't, of course... but that's not judging, that's just using words accurately.

denholt

04/19/2001 02:24:10 PM

Narsil writes: "And please, *try* to do it without insulting language..." Thanks for the LAUGH! Although in doing so, I just spewed my lunch (soup) all over my keyboard -- rendering it useless -- and will have to bow out of this discussion until I can get a new one. I've learned everything I know about "insulting language" from you, Narsil.

denholt

04/19/2001 02:14:38 PM

Narsil writes: "Well, first off, I reject the idea that there is anything bad about apologetics." As Ronald Reagan said, "There you go again." NO ONE SAID/WROTE THAT APOLOGETICS IS INHERENTLY BAD. "Any conversation a Christian has with a non-believer about core Christian doctrines is going to have apologetic elements" Presuming, of course, that you are in a position to decide who is a Christian or a non-Christian.

Narsil

04/19/2001 02:11:27 PM

denholt-- You say that we never criticise Spong's substance-- but whenever we try to, you ignore it. You asked for examples of Spong behaving contemptuously, I provide it, you hand-wave it away. (If I found a place where he wrote "Traditional Christians bugger goats", you'd probably explain to me that this isn't an insult, it's simply Spong explaining that traditional Christians are known to engage in goat-buggering.) So... Why don't you respond to my main criticism, which I've voiced over and over: that Spong merely *asserts* that miracles never happen, when this is clearly a point of controversy? I don't recall that you've ever addressed that. And please, *try* to do it without insulting language...

Narsil

04/19/2001 02:08:09 PM

On apologetics vs. scholarship-- Well, first off, I reject the idea that there is anything bad about apologetics. Any conversation a Christian has with a non-believer about core Christian doctrines is going to have apologetic elements-- because the Christian can scarcely *deny* that he believes Christ rose from the dead, and if the non-believer disputes it, the Christian is going to have to defend his belief. Call it "scholarship", "apologetics", or "proselytizing"-- it's simply a discussion about facts and truth. And secondly-- how is Spong's writing "scholarship"? He has no scholarly credentials, and in his columns, he neither produces nor cites scholarly evidence-- he simply asserts all his necessary conclusions. "Christ performed no miracles", "The resurrection was a late addition to the gospels", "angels don't sing". How do we know that? Because "all credible scholars say so". Yes? Like who? Please tell me the scholar who's proven that angels don't sing...

Emilyanna17

04/19/2001 01:54:31 PM

> For a minute I thought you said he was a Christian and shouldn't be thrown out. Thank goodness I reread it. I'm so glad you feel that way. Emily

j-pcusa

04/19/2001 01:51:44 PM

Bishop Stong is not a Christian and should be thrown out of the Episcopal Church. Only problem is that the church lost integrity years ago and is now a humanistic organization lacking true Christian faith.

ajobson

04/19/2001 01:26:27 PM

In the interest of accuracy, Spong notes that he has heard well-meaning current leaders argue that Christianity will die unless Christ rose, not Paul as I suggested. I apologize for my misrepresentation. But I wish to repeat my point, that if Christ did not REALLY rise again, what hope do we have that we will do the same? And if there's no afterlife, what is the Christian faith but just one option among many for living a "good" life?

Psionycx

04/19/2001 12:41:45 PM

I think the pivotal issue here, and what Spong is trying to communicate and getting derided wholesale for, is the statement that the *true* story behind the Resurrection is not about the disposition of Jesus's body, it's about what the spiritual transformation that came about. After all, even if you do believe Jesus was bodily raised from the dead, He *still* didn't stick around in person for very long afterwards. And yet, what He started swept through the whole of the Roman Empire and the world without His physical presence. Sounds spiritual to me.

ajobson

04/19/2001 11:55:19 AM

RockyMtnTim wrote that the truth of the Resurrection depends on whether or not you believe it. (I paraphrase.) This is an all-too common current assumption, but it is ludicrous. If I believe that I am the Emperor of Abyssinia, that does not make it so. That proves that I am a madman. Just so, either the Resurrection happened (physically), or it did not. My opinion on the subject has no bearing on its ultimate reality. I find Spong (in part I, anyway) to stretch for possible meanings while ignoring the bold, obvious assertions of the Gospels. (I must go back and examine his announced inaccuracies.) I also note that he cites Paul as saying Christianity will die if Christ did not rise. I believe what he said was, we are to be most pitied of men if He did not, for we have a fruitless faith.

denholt

04/19/2001 11:30:10 AM

"When people's strongly held beliefs and prejudice are being undermined," Foust -- I understood Watson's meaning here to be that when people feel that their beliefs are being undermined, they often become hostile. This has consistently been my experience (I've been on the receiving end). You ask me: So what meaning do you place on Luke 24:42-44 - "and he took it and ate it in their presence." An account by a biblical writer which is certainly not probative.

Foust77

04/19/2001 11:14:37 AM

Part 2 ---- "When people's strongly held beliefs and prejudice are being undermined," * Sigh. The whole point of this discussion is that nothing is being undermined, at least in the sense that nothing is being debunked. ---- "It's just a DIFFERENT meaning for him (and me)." * So what meaning do you place on Luke 24:42-44 - "and he took it and ate it in their presence."

Foust77

04/19/2001 11:14:23 AM

"There's a difference between Christian apologetics and academic scholarship. Apologetics is concerned with defending Christian doctrine. Scholarship is concerned with searching for truth." * So any writing and research that agrees with Christianity is "apologetics", and anything that disagrees with it is "scholarship". That you for that useful distinction. I guess Sprong must be being scholarly when he says "We have identified the places in the narrative where exaggeration entered the texts, where miraculous elements were heightened, and where history forced new details into the ancient story.", when in fact all he has done is state his own opinion on these things.

denholt

04/19/2001 11:13:49 AM

Watson: Thanks for the excellent delineation. A couple of days ago, I posted a request asking participants not to be so defensive, i.e., not to monotonously engage in apologetics. This was interpreted as a request to refrain from hostility by one participant in particular who apparently was made to feel guilty by my admonition.

denholt

04/19/2001 10:54:41 AM

cturner14writes: "When Spong denies the bodily resurrection of Christ, he can't then believe in I Cor 15, and if he can't believe in that then Revelation and other prophetic elements of the faith will have no meaning." Perhaps the "elements of the faith" thus understood would have no meaning for YOU, but they obviously still have meaning for Spong and others (myself included) who aren't convinced of the bodily resurrection. It's just a DIFFERENT meaning for him (and me). You then write: "Sorry folks, but that's my story and I am sticking to it." This forum is open to all -- I can't imagine anyone would expect an apology from you, especially when you've consistently refrained from the use of invective and direct personal attack.

Watson

04/19/2001 10:54:03 AM

There's a difference between Christian apologetics and academic scholarship. Apologetics is concerned with defending Christian doctrine. Scholarship is concerned with searching for truth. Spong's four part series on the ressurection was clearly academic scholarship. Rather than defending the literalness of the ressurrection, he placed his bias aside, remained as objective as possible, and searched for the truth behind the resurrection. What he got was an experience that was just as real for the disciples as it is for us today, even if we don't live in the pre-scientific world of Jesus and his disciples. As far as the vilification of Spong is concerned, I think it is nothing more than the voice of a belief system caught in it's death throes. When people's strongly held beliefs and prejudice are being undermined, it's only too predictable for them to get paranoid and hostile.

cturner14

04/19/2001 10:49:22 AM

Christians are a group of people who believe the same - virgin birth, death on the cross, burial, and resurrection for the atonement of sin. Catholics, Orthodox, and Protestants should not be grouped together because beliefs and practices, including what is stated above, are so different. My apologies for the garbled message. Would I sit down and meet with Spong, probably; would I break bread and fellowship with him over spiritual issus - No. When Spong denies the bodily resurrection of Christ, he can't then believe in I Cor 15, and if he can't believe in that then Revelation and other prohetic elements of the faith will have no meaning. Sorry folks, but that's my story and I am sticking to it.

denholt

04/19/2001 10:18:50 AM

Starrcross-- Thanks for posing those questions. My answer to all three would be resounding: "spiritually." Priam-- You wrote about Spong: "When you break it down to what he believes (or rather disbelieves), logic will tell you how he thinks. All his columns are really the same and are poorly written." Your (and Narsil's) disdain for Spong has always been quite obvious, but your sweeping generalization (as one sees in the example above) needs to be backed up with specific examples because instead of critiquing Spong's ideas, you move into personal attack (i.e., taking issue with his writing style).

starrcross

04/19/2001 09:51:29 AM

When you accept the Risen Christ into your heart, do you do it physically or spiritually? When believers encounter Christ is his presence physical or spiritual? At the eucharist blessing do the bread and wine become the body and blood physically or spiritually?

Priam

04/19/2001 09:48:23 AM

That was a great Spong review Narsil. I think for Darnay to say we are not discussing Spong's articles is unfair. When you break it down to what he believes (or rather disbelieves), logic will tell you how he thinks. All his columns are really the same and are poorly written. In "The myth of the virgin birth" he uses the same tired rhetoric to attack the virgin birth. In "Goodbye John Stott!", a conservative pastor whom he considers "a fundie in sheep's clothing?" (let the witch hunt begin) is retiring, he spends the first few paragraphs personally attacking him, then goes again uses the same rhetoric to attack the existance of God, and subsequently the virgin birth and resurrection of Jesus Christ, and all miracles.

RockyMtnTim

04/19/2001 09:19:26 AM

Theory, theology, historical fact? Who ever really knows? Faith, is certainly a part of it. Is Christian ty a religion about Jesus or of Jesus and his teachings. If you have faith it was a historical fact. If you are non-believer or of another faith it is a part of Christian theology and a matter of one's perception.

Emilyanna17

04/19/2001 07:50:01 AM

Well done, bishop Spong. At last you finally believe in God and the afterlife, even if your views are still somewhat wacky.

breadandbutterfly

04/19/2001 04:54:35 AM

The Romans had very little problem with the Christians, practicing their rites which were very similar to those practised in other mystery cults. The communion service had been appropriated many times before, the eating and drinking of the flesh and blood of one's saviour being such a potent symbol. We can't deny that the Christians were somewhat hostile to the pagan world around them - there is enough evidence of this in the New Testament. The Christians became a scapegoat for the lunatic emperor Nero, under whom the state was falling apart. Nothing particularly theological, just politics. And there were an awful lot of non-christians executed under all of the emperors.

Narsil

04/19/2001 04:35:31 AM

Oops-- a retraction. I criticised Spong's statement, "It is interesting to note that not until the late ninth or early 10th decade did stories enter the tradition that placed the disciples in Jerusalem for the Easter experience." As my comment makes plain, somehow I misread this-- I thought he was saying, "Not until the ninth or early tenth *century*". No excuse for that one. (I assumed he was referring to folk-tales and hagiography, and ignoring the Gospels.) So-- score one for the +Spongmeister! I 'umbly retract that portion of my critique. But I still think "daring to be all that I can be" is pretty lame...

Narsil

04/19/2001 04:28:37 AM

Another thought… Is the faith Spong describes, a faith the Romans would kill over? The Romans had fairly advanced notions of religious tolerance. They were more than happy to let odd faiths and cults spring up, as long as each was respectful of the other—go ahead and worship Isis, as long as you don’t neglect Mars. So. If Christianity—as the Apostles understood it—meant “Jesus [is] part of God’s being and God’s meaning”, why would the Romans object in the slightest? Such a cult would be perfectly compatible with higher Roman theology. (Many Romans read their myths allegorically—e.g. “Jove” typifies the divine principle of Majesty.) If Peter went before Claudius and said, “Jesus is a part of God’s being,” Claudius would have said, “How interesting—I think Castor and Pollux, too, were representatives of the Divine Nature.” But that isn’t what happened, is it? The apostles really thought the Way was something new, and incompatible with the old… and the Romans felt the same way.

Narsil

04/19/2001 03:17:03 AM

I'd hate to see this discussion get sidetracked. So, I withdraw my criticism of +Spong's prose. I think he's the best writer this side of Marshall Mathers, and I think "Daring to be all that I can be" is the most brilliant phrase in the English language since Neil Diamond told us his chair couldn't hear him. And, as I read more Spong, I'm sure I'll feel the same way about his other aphorisms, like "Lambeth: Full Speed Ahead", "We're Looking for a Few Good Catechumen", "It's Not Just a Job-- It's a Calling", and (of course!) "A Religion of One". So. How'd you like the rest of my comments?

denholt

04/18/2001 11:55:15 PM

I didn't mean to imply that the Rt. Rev. Spong was "compromising his beliefs" by quoting from army advertisements. The phrase "be all you can be" was around long before the Army commandeered it for their advertisements and, as far as I know, they don't have exclusive rights to its use. Spong does NOT look like a buffoon for using it.

Narsil

04/18/2001 11:45:03 PM

'To insinuate that Spong is somehow compromising his beliefs by using words which also happened to be used in an advertisement for the U.S. Army is simply ridiculous.' I must apologize. I didn't mean to imply that the Rt. Rev. Spong was "compromising his beliefs" by quoting from army advertisements. I simply meant that he looks like a buffoon.

denholt

04/18/2001 11:39:28 PM

Narsil wrote this about Spong: “Daring to be all that I can be”? Alas, when a bishop abandons the Bible and the Fathers, this is what he’s reduced to—drawing inspiration from Army recruiting slogans. As far as I know, there is no biblical injunction against using the full resources of one's native language when communicating with others. To insinuate that Spong is somehow compromising his beliefs by using words which also happened to be used in an advertisement for the U.S. Army is simply ridiculous.

Narsil

04/18/2001 11:29:03 PM

darnay2 said to me: '...you seem incapable or unwilling to [discuss +Spong's articles].' I hope I've satisfied you? 'You won't even respond to my posts, or anyone else's.' And here I'd been worried I was talking too much! I'm sorry if I neglected to answer you-- I did my best, but there were a lot of discussions flying around. Could you point me to the posts of yours you'd like me to respond to? Kristos anesti!

denholt

04/18/2001 11:26:05 PM

It doesn't matter whether Christ was resurrected bodily or metaphorically: the gospel message remains the same. Religion is not about fear and guilt. God gave us minds and expects us to use them. If eternal life in heaven is reserved only for the biblical literalists/fundamentalists, then count me out. There are far too many more interesting and developed individuals with whom I'd rather spend my time. If that happens to be in a place with very warm temperatures, so be it: I was raised in Michigan, lived for 3-1/2 years in Minneapolis and have been in Chicago since 1998. Quite frankly, I'd welcome a tropical climate for eternity!

Narsil

04/18/2001 11:21:32 PM

[part 3] One refreshing thing about part IV—Spong feels less driven to insult his opponents. Perhaps he assumes they’ve already gone away… In any event, it’s a nice change to read an entire column without being informed that I’m “premodern” or “superstitious”, or a dupe of cyncical opportunists feeding me falsehoods so they can keep their powerful, high-paying jobs as Orthodox priests. There are some nuggets to reward the careful reader. “Next we put on detective clothes, got out our spyglasses, and searched for clues…” I think he means “magnifying glasses”, not “spyglasses”. A shame—if he’d stuck with the sea-captain metaphor, it might have livened up the series. But my favorite Spongism is this: “I shall worship this God by living fully, loving wastefully, and daring to be all that I can be now and forever.” “Daring to be all that I can be”? Alas, when a bishop abandons the Bible and the Fathers, this is what he’s reduced to—drawing inspiration from Army recruiting slogans. Kristos anesti!

Foust77

04/18/2001 11:17:10 PM

""Death cannot contain him. I have seen the Lord!" was Simon's ecstatic exclamation. Then Simon opened the eyes of the others to what he saw." And then proceded to manufacture stories about eating with him. Very inspirational.

Narsil

04/18/2001 11:04:23 PM

[part 2] Spong makes some strange errors. He says, for example, "It is interesting to note that not until the late ninth or early 10th decade did stories enter the tradition that placed the disciples in Jerusalem for the Easter experience." I don't know what to make of it… the gospel of John has four disciples present at the Cross, and all gospels put the disciples in Jerusalem (or within easy reach of it) on Easter Sunday. I understand that Spong rejects the gospels’ historicity—but surely these are “stories” in the “tradition” that put all the disciples in Jerusalem on Easter Weekend? Since he rules out the possibility that Zechariah was a prophet, Spong draws the natural conclusion that the disciples re-worked the Passion events to match Zechariah’s account. This is a reasonable conclusion, *if* one has already rejected the notion of prophecy—but Spong has not, of course, *disproved* prophecy, he has simply discounted it.

Narsil

04/18/2001 10:51:56 PM

My fan darnay2 has encouraged me to comment again on +Spong's articles, so here goes... It'll take more than one post, though. Part IV goes off in odd directions. Spong began his work with the assertion (unproved, of course) that there are no miracles, and thus that there could not have been a "resurrection" in the sense that Christians have always understood the term. His goal, apparently, is to finish with a construct which uses the words "God", "Christ", and "Resurrection" in prominent places, but to come up with new definitions for these terms which he feels comfortable with. This construct will be named "Christianity", and will launch a campaign to seize the trademark for that term from its previous owners. Having set himself free from what little historical evidence we have, Spong really gets to indulge himself. Where were the people? How did they behave? What were they thinking? Spong has a grand old time filling in the blanks, and comes up with an interesting story.

starrcross

04/18/2001 10:29:02 PM

I appreciate Spong's last article because it sounds so much more like what real people experience in the real world. I've never been impressed by stories of big slashy miracles. I think God created reality is big and splashy enough. The reason to come away from a literal physical resurection is because it leads to a literal physical accension, with Jesus levitating up of the ground and flying away beyond the clouds. Where did you think he was going? It's too much like Greek myths about the Gods of Olympus, holding court up in the Heaven above the clouds. So, again, it is a different perspective for those who search for deeper meaning.

Narsil

04/18/2001 09:45:21 PM

The ever-irenic darnay2: 'How do you know that I do not follow the Christian faith?! Becasue I thumb my nose at doctrines I believe to be absurd? I am seeking Christ, not Christianity.' The often-ironic Narsil: Well, if you're really looking for Christ, aren't you worried you might be looking in the wrong place? "Why do you seek the living among the dead?"

darnay2

04/18/2001 09:37:07 PM

Is anyone here even READING Spongs articles before they respond? Spong is not denying the reality of Christi's RESURRECTION. he is contradicting the idea of PHYSICAL RESUCITAION. Ther is a difference, that difference is important, and Spong deserves a more careful reading than the hack job he's being given right now.

darnay2

04/18/2001 09:29:43 PM

Narsil, nothing you've posted at this point has been well said. I'm sorry to take such a harsh tone here, but look - we aren't even discussiong Spongs articles anymore. The reason why is because you seem incapable or unwilling to do so. You won't even respond to my posts, or anyone else's. Who has something to say about this latest article? lets put the discussion back where it belong.

pastorgirl

04/18/2001 05:45:47 PM

Thanks, Narsil– well said.

Narsil

04/18/2001 04:42:51 PM

denholt: ‘Narsil: your posts are outright attempts to proselytize.’ Well, a Christian should be proselytizing (or, as we call it, “evangelising”) with every breath he takes, so I’m glad it comes across that way—but I’m trying to do something more modest. I’m not trying to convince people that Christianity is *true*. I’m just trying to let people know that it *exists*—that there’s a collection of beliefs called “Christianity”, that there are people who take those beliefs seriously, and that our opinion is, if you hold those beliefs, it changes everything. My modest hope is that some people will be intrigued enough to investigate this belief-system further. One wouldn’t think such education would be necessary—but when you have people like Spong insisting that “Christianity” is indistinguishable from the mildest and silliest kind of pantheism, well, some people might need to be told that there is a completely different belief system which has used that name longer.

Priam

04/18/2001 04:40:55 PM

I agree, cturner14 please explain. denholt, that last post was pretty sad. I thought I would just let you know. How can you have dialogue when you resort to hostile name calling and silly accusations with those whom you disagree with? I like Narsil's posts, he explains the theology of our faith quite well. We know we are just arrogant narrow-minded premodern fundies, but by simply stating our beliefs we proselytize?

Narsil

04/18/2001 04:17:13 PM

cturner14-- I think your post got garbled. Could you clarify?

cturner14

04/18/2001 04:13:48 PM

Everyone, please do not put Catholics, Eastern Orthodox and Conserservative Protestants group.

denholt

04/18/2001 04:06:56 PM

This has been interesting, but I prefer the face-to-face dialogue (yes, REAL dialogue) which I enjoy in a couple of groups here in Chicago. Those participating leave our biases at the door. Narsil: your posts are outright attempts to proselytize. On one hand, I'm glad you've found an electronic medium with which to perform your missionary service so you won't be coming by and ringing my doorbell (please tell all of your fellow evangelists to come online as well). But there is no possibility of conversing with you and your ilk who feel that you alone know the truth and can't seem to stop reminding us.

Narsil

04/18/2001 03:36:54 PM

Priam-- Thanks for your support! Denhholt-- You seem to be all in favor of dialogue, until someone says something that offends you. Well, if you want to have dialogue with faithful, traditional Christians, you're going to be offended from time to time, because-- there's no avoiding it-- the Christian faith is offensive. "Jews demand signs and Greeks seek wisdom, but we preach Christ Crucified, a stumbling block to Jews and folly to Greeks." Fell free to call me an arrogant childish closed-minded fundie if it makes you feel any better...

denholt

04/18/2001 11:36:10 AM

"Priam" wrote the following: "What Narsil wrote in his explanation of Christianity, is in a nutshell what Christianity is in it's classical definition. That is what Roman Catholics, eastern Orthodox, and conservative protestants believe." Thanks, but I believe a "classical definition" of Christianity is rather easily obtained should one choose to do so, and I suspect that most if not all of those posting to this forum are aware of Christianity's "classical definition." So please, spare us the arrogant condescension of assuming that we require tutoring in this area.

Priam

04/18/2001 09:27:35 AM

darnay2, what Narsil wrote in his explanation of Christianity, is in a nutshell what Christianity is in it's classical definition. That is what Roman Catholics, eastern Orthodox, and conservative protestants believe. No one put any label on you on whether you are Christian or not. You did that yourself. To claim that much of the scripture is poppycock and that it is okay to criticize in that Jesus conflicted with the pharisees is illogical. Jesus worked with the outcasts of society and he also did not criticize the Jewish religion. He came to enhance it. However, you are entitled to believe what you want and there is no reason to feel offended. Narsil is just politely explaining we are of different faiths.

Priam

04/18/2001 09:26:07 AM

Narsil, I think you did an excellent job in your posts on miracles despite the 1024 character limit. As Doestovsky said, miracles are more beneficial to the believer, who sometimes needs a little reassurance. To the unbeliever, the most amazing miracle would be shoved off as something that must have some kind of earthly explanation.

darnay2

04/18/2001 01:56:18 AM

Narsil,In my studies, I have learned that there are very deep differences between the "christian church" and "Christ". The Christian Church" can exclude me all it wants to. I would not be proud to call myself a member of institutions that have caused the world such misery as the "historical christian Church". Christ himself made special effort to include those who did not fit in the "mold" of orthodoxy in his native religion. This is the Christ I seek, and find missing in the "traditional" church. Furthermore, you are still presumptous to conted that if I simply start following the Christian faith I will be included. How arrogant! How do you know that I do not follow the Christian faith?! Becasue I thumb my nose at doctrines I believe to be absurd? I am seeking Christ, not Christianity. You can be included in your precious institutions all you want to. Enjoy. Meanwhile, I'm looking for the living Christ himself.

denholt

04/17/2001 05:42:37 PM

Narsil: My choice of words at times probably derives from the intense frustration I feel toward those who sabotage dialogue with the implied superiority of their orthodoxy. I'm not here to prove anything to anyone. I don't have ANY answers. I'm here to ask questions and to watch others do the same.

Narsil

04/17/2001 05:27:22 PM

Denholt: 'It's not constructive to write, as you did: "My beliefs (and Bethell's) *are* more orthodox than yours, if the term "orthodox" means anything at all."' By the very definition of "orthodox" you posted, it is simply, factually true that some of us have more orthodox beliefs than others. WHy do you object to this? (Most liberal Christians that I know don't consider "orthodox" a term of praise...) 'I were you, I wouldn't object too strenuously when I choose to invoke a term such as "children" to describe those who exhibit childish behavior.' What I object to is your self-righteously calling on everyone to refrain from name-calling and personal attacks, when your own word choices make it abundantly clear that, as far as you're concerned, the conservatives are the only ones who ever indulge in this. If you really were opposed to name-calling, you wouldn't characterise those who disagree with you as "children". Try to set us poor children a good example, eh?

denholt

04/17/2001 04:48:02 PM

Narsil: I'm objecting to individuals who feel compelled to "police" the faith of others. It's not constructive to write, as you did: "My beliefs (and Bethell's) *are* more orthodox than yours, if the term "orthodox" means anything at all." I were you, I wouldn't object too strenuously when I choose to invoke a term such as "children" to describe those who exhibit childish behavior. Again, this forum asks us to share what we believe. I (and I suspect I'm not alone here) am not interested in witnessing regurgitation of creeds and Bible references by those who have had exemplary catechetical instruction. I suspect that most of us have already gone through all of that and our quest leads us beyond, into a new, fresh understanding of the Bible in light of modern scholarship. I don't recall Christ asking any of his disciples and those to whom he preached to follow him on the condition that they put an immediate halt to their intellectual development.

Narsil

04/17/2001 04:30:38 PM

Hm. If people persist in name-calling, then you'll call them children. Am I the only one who sees just the faintest hint of inconsistency here?

denholt

04/17/2001 04:15:48 PM

Note that "orthodox" as I use it is in lower case letters. And Webster's II New College Dictionary defines orthodox as follows: 1. adhering to the establish and traditional faith, esp. in religion. 2. adhering to the Christian faith as set forth in the early ecumenical Christian creeds. 3. conforming to accepted standards or established practice. As I write this, the question which appears above me is: What do YOU [emphasis mine] believe? It doesn't ask me to conform to anyone's "accepted standards" or "established practice." So when someone in this forum insinuates or states outright that I'm somehow inferior for not adhering to such standards and practices, I'm going to call them on it. I call things as I see them. And when people are engaging in childish behavior similar to name-calling -- activity not worthy of adults -- I'm going to describe them as children.

Narsil

04/17/2001 04:03:22 PM

Denholt-- don't you object to Watson characterising conservative Christians as "[believing] in absurd dogma"? What happened to raising the tone of discourse? 'Seriously, as so many conservative Christians have, he's bought into the whole "my beliefs are more orthodox than YOUR beliefs/I'm going to heaven and you're not" game.' Those are two different statements, and entirely unrelated. My beliefs (and Bethell's) *are* more orthodox than yours, if the term "orthodox" means anything at all. This statement does not imply a judgement on the state of your soul. 'Some children never seem to outgrow that one.' Yup, boy our tone sure is improved here. What happened to 'most of us are interested in this conversation for the free exchange of ideas'? Calling the people you disagree with "children" is hardly consistent with that. Explain.

denholt

04/17/2001 03:49:00 PM

If Tom Bethell were to tell me that I'd lost my faith, I think I'd take it as a compliment . . . Seriously, as so many conservative Christians have, he's bought into the whole "my beliefs are more orthodox than YOUR beliefs/I'm going to heaven and you're not" game. Some children never seem to outgrow that one.

Watson

04/17/2001 03:34:32 PM

Has anyone here read Tom Bethell's response to Spong's articles. I must say that Bethell is quite funny when you don't take him seriously. He says Spong "has lost his faith." I guess what Bethell means by "faith" is belief in absured dogma. He also believes that gay rights activists, what he likes to call "militant gays", have struck fear in those who are anti-gay and that dissidents in the Catholic Church should be excommunicated. Poor Tom Bethell. He's so out of touch with reality.

Narsil

04/17/2001 03:13:54 PM

tarantf: 'Yet you call me agnostic.' I phrased that badly. (Curse this 1024-char limit!) I meant only that you are agnostic on *that particular question*-- whether Christ rose bodily from the grave. I didn't mean you are an "agnostic" as a general religious outlook. In the same way, if you asked me whether I believed in the apparition of the Virgin of Guadalupe, I'd say I'm an "agnostic" on that point-- I neither believe nor reject it.

denholt

04/17/2001 03:05:35 PM

Fred aka tarrant: I especially appreciated this reference in your post re Bishop Spong: "His greatest contribution to the Church has been his dogged and tireless efforts to bring gay and lesbian Christians into the full life of the Church." As a gay man who has for some time been wrestling with his love for the Church and the reality of historical (and actual) ostracism, I've been mainly flirting with the Anglican/Episcopalian branch of Christianity for years, and sometimes worship with a parish in Evanston (I live in Chicago).

tarrantf

04/17/2001 02:56:35 PM

(part 3) Finally, Spong has been the target harassment and severe threats through much of his career as a bishop. I believe these experiences have hardened him so that he is much less congenial than he used to be (many of us might become the same way if attacked year after year). Believe me, many of his detractors are much more vicious than anything he has ever written. Peace, Fred

tarrantf

04/17/2001 02:56:21 PM

(part 2) You asked me what I thought of Spong's columns. I think Spong's insulting tone gets in the way of his content, which is unfortunate. I also dislike his gross generalizations and over-simplifications of statistics. Other writers are much better than he of conveying the "liberal tendencies" in biblical criticism. You ought to understand that Spong is not widely loved or revered in the Episcopal Church. He has vocal supporters, but as far as I can tell, those who are uncomfortable with his manner and ideas far outweigh those who support him. I am a supporter of many of his ideals though not all. His greatest contribution to the Church has been his dogged and tireless efforts to bring gay and lesbian Christians into the full life of the Church. Many others have also worked for this, but few have been as passionate (end part 2)

tarrantf

04/17/2001 02:56:08 PM

Narsil, You wrote: we find that the historic Christian faith has always been based around just such an affirmation (though we'd say "resurrected", not "resuscitated") Yes, but I am a member of an evolving branch of the Church. We embrace change while keeping one foot in the door of tradition. This ambiguity is too schizophrenic for most Christians, and that is one of the reasons we are so small (not the only reason, but a significant one). I affirm Christ's resurrection into the Body of Christ because that is what I experience, what I understand on a genuine and mystical level. Yet you call me agnostic. This is not the same as agnosticism because I affirm Christ's risen presence in the community and sacramental presence in the Eucharistic feast. (end part 1)

denholt

04/17/2001 02:35:40 PM

To say that someone is "not credible" or "not well-informed" is not necessarily an expression of contempt. I understand that you may dislike Spong because his views differ from yours, but I think it's a stretch to say that Spong is contemptuous toward those with whom he disagrees.

Narsil

04/17/2001 02:28:42 PM

denholt: ‘Could you give an example of [Spong’s] “contempt”?’ Well, just from his recent columns, how ‘bout... ‘I hear well-meaning but not necessarily well-informed religious leaders say such things as, “If the biblical story of Easter is not literally true, if there is no physical resurrection of Jesus, then Christianity will surely die.”… However, no creditable New Testament scholar in the world, Protestant or Catholic, will defend those simplistic propositions.’ So... people who hold the traditional Christian belief are not “well-informed”, are not “creditable”, make “simplistic” arguments. (And is he really claiming that, say Pelikan is a less “creditable” scholar than Spong is?) ‘Very few people living in the post-modern world can suspend their rational faculties so totally as to find [a literal Resurrection and Ascension] believable.’ So traditional Christians have totally suspended our rational faculties. That's just for starters. Would you like more?

denholt

04/17/2001 02:12:39 PM

Narsil: My request was made to each and everyone who posts to this forum; it was not my intent to single anyone out.

Narsil

04/17/2001 02:05:59 PM

Denholt: ‘On another note, I would urge some of those who post to this discussion to take a less defensive approach.’ For my part, I’ll try to improve. But I hope you were addressing your comment to people on *both* sides of this argument? Because neither side is guiltless, here… I’ll be specific. I think it’s childish and obnoxious to respond to a post with “ha ha”. And I think it’s similarly childish to deliberately misspell someone’s name (writing “Sprong” instead of “Spong” hardly advances reasoned discourse). But on the other side, it’s obnoxious to call people insulting terms like “fundie” (which a *lot* of you guys have done), or to make blanket statements like “All fundamentalists believe…” or “None of the people on the other side of the argument ever think about…” Several times, people have put words in my mouth. I am not, for what it’s worth, a biblical inerrantist or a fundamentalist, but those opinions are regularly ascribed to me—and used to dismiss my actual statements out of hand.

denholt

04/17/2001 02:04:31 PM

Ach, Narsil, du sprichst Deutsch! You state that Spong "rejects the idea of miracles with contempt"? Could you give an example of this "contempt"? I've read a lot of his work and have never found him to be insulting or condescending.

Narsil

04/17/2001 01:53:33 PM

tarantf: 'You stated that the conservatives in this discussion are open to the possibility of miracles. So is this liberal.' Fair enough-- but how do you feel about +Spong's columns? He rejects the idea of miracles with contempt. As far as he's concerned, the only people who believe in miracles are "premoderns" or frauds. 'I simply don't make the miraculous the foundation of my faith.' Again, fair enough-- but I think that puts you outside the Pauline faith. Paul, whether you agree with him or not, felt that *one* miracle in particular *is* the foundation of the Christian faith. If you think he's wrong, fine, sei gesund. 'I neither affirm nor deny that Jesus's resucsitated corpse walked out of a tomb.' Nothing wrong with honest agnosticism-- but as far back as we can trace, we find that the historic Christian faith has always been based around just such an affirmation (though we'd say "resurrected", not "resuscitated").

denholt

04/17/2001 11:56:53 AM

Budd -- I really appreciate your last post. On another note, I would urge some of those who post to this discussion to take a less defensive approach. I would guess that most of us are interested in this conversation for the free exchange of ideas. This is hindered when individuals take a "my beliefs are correct and yours aren't" posture.

budd

04/17/2001 11:35:30 AM

cturner14: You are certainly entitled to believe whatever you like and for whatever reasons. But I think you misunderstand Bishop Spong's position concerning the truth of the Bible. It is not so much a matter of how other people throughout history have used selective passages from the Bible to promote their own violent and self-serving causes. The crux of the matter is that the Bible is full of self-contradictions and outright falsehoods! How can such a document be the "inspired Word of God? Better to think of it as an interesting historical document peppered with occasional wisdom, the same available in any other major world religion.

tarrantf

04/17/2001 11:33:29 AM

Narsil, You stated that the conservatives in this discussion are open to the possibility of miracles. So is this liberal. I simply don't make the miraculous the foundation of my faith. Making an intellectual assent to a true/false dichotomy of what is historically factual is not what I understand "belief" to be about. I am open to the miraculous all around me at all times. I neither affirm nor deny that Jesus's resucsitated corpse walked out of a tomb. I affirm pationately, however, that the risen Christ is present in my life in the life of the Body of Christ. That is a great mystery that cannot be reduced to a simple true/false scenario.

cturner14

04/17/2001 11:15:39 AM

narsil: thanks for getting to the heart of the matter; did a miracle (mystery) of God happen 1970 odd years ago? Personally I believe it did. I believe He arose bodily and was witnessed by thousands for 40-days and by Paul on the Damascus road. denholt: Spong does not believe the Bible as the inspired Word of God. It has power that he does not accept. His reasoning is that people have used it in the past to do some outrageous things. I agree with the writer here that its the people, full of sin, mis-using it.

cturner14

04/17/2001 11:10:37 AM

starrcross: I think it is about stories, fables, and truth. What I think is most amazing about the resurrection is the 40-days that follow. everyone: Miracles are miracles, who am I to refute one over another. I know that I am presuaded [in what I believe] that He is able... Since I have no reference otherwise, I will not denegrate anyone on their beliefs.

starrcross

04/17/2001 08:48:13 AM

I don't understand. When people read about "miraculous" events in other religous scriptures they dismiss them as silly stories, but when simular stories are in their own scripture it becomes the "God's honest truth". For example, in Hindu scripture a Divine child is to be born but an enemy wants to kill the child. So the Divine unborn gets bounced around from womb to womb like a peanut in a shell game in order to confuse the enemy. This sceme works and the Divine child gets born. Now, did this really happen? Or is there a deeper meaning that gets lost when present day readers try to understand the story literally? That's all Spong is investigating.

denholt

04/17/2001 08:35:42 AM

Narsil writes: "And in my speech, I use the word “Christian” to mean someone who professes the basic, historic Christian doctrines." I think most people would agree that there is enough disagreement over doctrine to mandate that the term Christian means "follower of Christ," nothing more, nothing less.

Narsil

04/17/2001 03:25:15 AM

Denholt: ‘I assumed that when you wrote “facts” you meant aspects of the biblical narrative.’ Yeah—I phrased it unclearly. (I was trying to cram everything into a 1024-char message…) Right now, I’m not trying to prove the Resurrection from historical sources. I’m just trying to do a couple of more modest things... First, I’m trying to say that +Spong hasn’t *disproved* the Resurrection. As I’ve said ad nauseam, +Spong starts from the premise that there are no miracles; if you question that premise, you question his conclusion. And second, I’m saying that belief in an historical, physical Resurrection has been central to Christianity from the time of Paul to at least the time of the “Enlightenment”. An intelligent, good person—even a holy person—can reject that doctrine; but if he does so, he is rejecting most of what people have always meant by the word “Christianity”. And in my speech, I use the word “Christian” to mean someone who professes the basic, historic Christian doctrines.

denholt

04/16/2001 09:02:25 PM

Narsil wrote: >Anyway, what I meant by "facts" was >things that aren't really in >dispute. Firstly, facts about the >world and humans-- as, e.g., that >we have a conscience but can't seem >to follow it. I guess since we've been discussing our views of biblical interpretation, and particularly the resurrection, I assumed that when you wrote "facts" you meant aspects of the biblical narrative. You then wrote: >And secondly, facts about early >Christianity-- that a small and >weak movement managed to attract a >devoted/fanatical following, held >on through long persecution, and >(several times) converted the >people who hated it the most. This probably can be said for most, if not all, religions -- at least those which are evangelical (i.e., those who attempt to attract converts).

Narsil

04/16/2001 08:48:49 PM

Me: 'There are competing ways of interpreting the same facts...' denholt: 'I'm interested in your use of the word "facts" because much if not most of the available historical record of the time Christ is said to have lived differs widely from events as chronicled in the biblical narrative.' I don't think I quite agree with this. Most of the biblical narrative is uncorroborated by historical evidence, but I didn't know that it's *contradicted* by outside evidence... Anyway, what I meant by "facts" was things that aren't really in dispute. Firstly, facts about the world and humans-- as, e.g., that we have a conscience but can't seem to follow it. And secondly, facts about early Christianity-- that a small and weak movement managed to attract a devoted/fanatical following, held on through long persecution, and (several times) converted the people who hated it the most. But that's really too much to cover in 1024 chars... ;-)

denholt

04/16/2001 08:33:16 PM

Narsil: First of all, thanks for staying with this conversation we've been having this afternoon/evening. You wrote: >There are competing ways of >interpreting the same facts I'm interested in your use of the word "facts" because much if not most of the available historical record of the time Christ is said to have lived differs widely from events as chronicled in the biblical narrative. As I've said in an earlier post, I was raised in the church (conservative Presbyterian), educated in private church schools (K-12) and college, and my life's journey has led me to conclude that I cannot know for certain whether the Bible is truly the word of God. I don't know whether Christ was bodily resurrected from the dead. If this is just a metaphor and Christ's "resurrection" was only figurative, I don't believe it detracts at all from the account of Christ's life and the incredible model and teacher that he was.

magnificat

04/16/2001 07:36:29 PM

Some years ago my home town baseball team went to the World Series and got swept 4-0, with almost every game a rout. After the last game the ace pitcher made news by proclaiming that the loss was a fluke and saying, "we're still the best team in baseball." He was roundly and rightly ridiculed by writers who understand that if you've lost, you've lost. Mr. Spong's contention that "life is stronger than death" despite the lack of resurrection is equally idiotic but not nearly as funny. Try telling someone who's just lost a spouse or a child that "life is stronger than death." Then duck, if they're bigger than you are.

Narsil

04/16/2001 07:02:40 PM

Denholt: "The essential MESSAGE of the Bible, however, stands up despite the many errors, contradictions and inconsistencies." Perhaps... but what is that message? People disagree wildly about it. For my part, as I say, I put my trust in the Church. They held councils to settle this question, and they came up with a "mission statement" of sorts-- the Nicene Creed. But that's a contentious matter... while I'm sure I still have Priam's support, I may have completely alienated Foust. I really can't see how one could read the Bible (especially Paul) and not think that a literal Resurrection is central to Christianity. I think that to reject the Resurrection, is to reject both Paul, and the "faith once delivered to the saints". Which is fine and consistent, but I object to people saying that their new faith is the same one that Athanasius and Chrysostom followed...

Narsil

04/16/2001 06:58:08 PM

Denholt: "you admit that they're your THOUGHTS on the subject and nothing more than that." Absolutely. There are competing ways of interpreting the same facts. That really, in my opinion, comes down to a difference of religion. As I’ve said, I don’t think my religion is the same as Spong’s—I’d say conservative Christianity is much more like Islam than like liberal Christianity. "What, then, am I to conclude when I encounter contradictions and inconsistencies in the Bible?" That's a whole different can of worms... For my part, I cope with them by putting my trust in the Church Christ founded. (I only have a Bible because the Church gave it to me.) But here we're getting on really contentious grounds… Also, as I've said, I'm not a biblical inerrantist (though I *do* think it's inspired). Was the Last Supper a Passover meal? The synoptists say "yes", John says "no", someone's got to be mistaken. But on the big things—especially the Resurrection—they're pretty much in agreement.

denholt

04/16/2001 06:38:52 PM

Narsil: Thanks for your thoughts on miracles. At the same time -- and not to denigrate your opinions -- you admit that they're your THOUGHTS on the subject and nothing more than that. My problem with reading and interpreting the Bible is this: those who wrote the Bible CLAIM to have been inspired by God who guided them so that the end result is an infallible work. In the same vein, I can CLAIM that an essay I'm writing is inspired by God and will be, when finished, an infallible work. What, then, am I to conclude when I encounter contradictions and inconsistencies in the Bible? I'll tell you what I DO conclude: that the writers of the Bible, while well-intentioned, were fallible human beings and the work they produced does contain mistakes. The essential MESSAGE of the Bible, however, stands up despite the many errors, contradictions and inconsistencies. In other words, I can still have faith despite the fact that a lot of the biblical narrative doesn't make any sense.

Narsil

04/16/2001 06:24:38 PM

[Miracles, cont’d] * Circumstances were special at the time of the NT. First, Christ needed to establish His mandate; after that, the disciples need some miraculous help to get the Church going—though even there, they can't seem to count on miracles getting them out of scrapes. * In the OT, too, we see swings in the amount of "miracle" floating about—lots of them for Moses, none for Esther. We may be in a "low-miracle" period. (If God is trying to find a balance between reassurance and free will, the balance point might shift from one era to another.) * There are *some* miracles happening today. People I know and trust have witnessed them. But, of course, they're not "provable". (For that matter, last Saturday night I saw bread and wine miraculously change to flesh and blood... but, of course, it still *looked* like bread and wine.) That’s just off the top of my head… C.S. Lewis wrote a book about the question (“Miracles”), but I haven’t read it in a few years, so I can’t really summarize it.

Narsil

04/16/2001 06:23:53 PM

Denholt: Whoa—now, that's a heck of a question. And definitely one which will strain the 1024-char limit... I’ll have to use a two-part post, which I *hate* doing. First off, I'd say that by definition, miracles have to be uncommon or unpredictable. ("by definition" because if it's common—like, say, a single cell growing into a baby—we don't call it a "miracle", no matter how impressive it is.) Of course, that doesn't explain why we don't occasionally see dead bodies rising. I can toss out a few thoughts... * God is playing a delicate balancing act. We have to return to Him by our free will. If the evidence of His existence and justice is *too* impressive, our free will is subverted—our "repentance" becomes just a rational cost-benefits analysis, not a true change of spirit. OTOH, we're so badly fallen that we need *some* reassurance. [cont'd]

denholt

04/16/2001 06:17:54 PM

I'm fascinated by this from cturner14: If the Bible is an inanimate object, how can it do anything wrong. Exactly what do you mean by this? Did Spong claim that the Bible "does" something wrong?

denholt

04/16/2001 05:27:20 PM

Narsil wrote: The conservatives on this discussion are open to the possibility of miracles. May I ask a question, then, of ANY conservative who is "open to the possibility of miracles"? Why don't we witness miraculous acts today of the sort which purportedly (I can't speak to whether or not they actually did) occurred in biblical times? I'm thinking especially of changing water into wine and feeding multitudes with a few fish and loaves of bread. I'd be interested in a response.

cturner14

04/16/2001 05:16:17 PM

After reading Tom's response article, I went to my Bible and read I Corinthians 15 (the whole thing) and now I see why Spong is so wrong. He is afraid. Tom picked apart Spong's logic. One big difference between liberals and fundamentalist is Biblical criticism. I, a fundamental, feel the Bible is inspired of God. Spong, a liberal, does not. If the Bible is an inanimate object, how can it do anything wrong. A double negative makes a positive. I believe in a bodily resurrection becuase if it were not true, there would be a lot more lies than the accounts of the 40 days after the first "easter".

denholt

04/16/2001 04:34:43 PM

Narsil wrote: The conservatives on this discussion are open to the possibility of miracles. May I ask a question, then, of ANY conservative who is "open to the possibility of miracles"? Why don't we witness miraculous acts today of the sort which purportedly (I can't speak to whether or not they actually did) occurred in biblical times? I'm thinking especially of changing water into wine and feeding multitudes with a few fish and loaves of bread. I'd be interested in a response.

Narsil

04/16/2001 03:48:27 PM

cturner14 saith: "The problem in this discussion, and any formatted in this way, are that the principles (fundies and libs) can't list out their differences and argue the points." May I try? As I see it, the key question is: Is the miraculous possible? (or, Can miracles ever happen?) Spong rejects the possibility of the miraculous out of hand; rather than arguing "miracles don't happen", he simply *asserts* that they don't happen, then tries to devise a Christianity that makes sense given that presupposition. The conservatives on this discussion are open to the possibility of miracles.

cturner14

04/16/2001 02:57:41 PM

24+ pages of postings... busy. The problem in this discussion, and any formatted in this way, are that the principles (fundies and libs) can't list out their differences and argue the points. Too many personal attacks, sarcasim by both sides, and conflicting view points with view points. Anybody keeping track of the issues? I am going to read the article now and wait for it!

denholt

04/16/2001 02:40:01 PM

It's almost impossible to dialogue with Conservative Christians such as Narsil. Their insistence that the Bible, despite its innumberable contradictions and internal inconsistencies, is infallible makes them so defensive and antagonistic toward adult Christians and skeptics that two-way conversation is thwarted. One would do well to ignore the posts of such individuals (as I will be doing from now on) and not engage them directly unless you are prepared to be insulted and condescended to.

starrcross

04/16/2001 11:58:00 AM

Narsil Bigoted and intolerant are your words, please don't use them about yourself. I now understand that the differences of perspective place us in different religions. I have faith that if you follow the path of the Divine as you understand it from your religious perspective and have love for God and others that you will be rewarded with eternal life in which to experience that love. I will try not to be offended if you do not believe the same for me.

tmaster1

04/16/2001 07:52:58 AM

Sorry, I forgot to give the reference for the previous quote: Hazrat Mirza Ghulam Ahmad, Tazkirah-tus-Shahadatain, 1903, pp. 64-65.

tmaster1

04/16/2001 07:48:29 AM

"I have come only to sow the seed. That seed has been sown by my own hand. It shall now grow and blossom forth. And none dare retard its growth." Hazrat Mirza Ghulam Ahmad was the first person who wrote a *full* and detailed book dealing with the issue of Jesus' survive from death on the cross, and his subsequent travels to India. In this way he sowed the seed. Because since then at least 30 books on the subject--written by Christians, Hindus, Muslims, etc--have come out. Also, his prophecy has already begun to be fulfilled. The pews are virtually empty in Europe. I the north of the U.S., movements such as the New Age Movement are threatening to replace Christianity. This dynamic is huge. A spiritual shift is occuring, and the lies about Jesus being the "son of God" are being uncovered so rapidly that it is simply astonishing. People are dropping this belief left and right.

tmaster1

04/16/2001 07:44:27 AM

"Then God will create reslesness in their hearts, that though the time of the supremacy of the cross had passed away and the world had taken another turn, yet the son of Mary had not descended from heaven." "Then all the wise people will discard this belief [Spong, Sheehan, Funk, Jesus Seminar]. The third century after today will not yet have come to a close when those who hold this belief, whether Muslims or Christians, will lose all hope and will give up this belief in disgust." [NOTE: Many Muslims believe Jesus is coming back, with "Imam Mahdi" to force Islam on the world].

tmaster1

04/16/2001 07:41:36 AM

This topic is not about the doctrine of the return of Jesus to this earth. But I'd like to say something about that. Around the turn of the century (late 1800s, early 1900s], a man named Hazrat Ahmad spoke the following words [a prophecy]. I cite them because it truly seems sad to me that Christians are going to be waiting for something that will not happen. Despair will set in [it's already happening] amongst Christians. Here's the prophecy [it will run more than one post]: "Remember that no one will descend from heaven. All...who are alive today will die and no one will see Jesus son of Mary descending from heaven. "Then their next generation will pass away and no one of them will see this spectacle. "Then the generation next after that will pass away without seeing the son of Mary descending from heaven." [next post]

tmaster1

04/16/2001 07:30:18 AM

pastorgirl, so as not to waste your time, I must tell you that I can't go any further, otherwise I have to stand accused of just arguing for argument sake. I am a thousand percent familiar with all these Christian arguments. I was a Christian for 12 solid years, please remember that. I suppose I just wanted to see what you would say. We have to pay *our own price* for "sin," not God, and certainly not the prophet, Jesus. Each person is responsible for himself and herself--to go the right path in life. When "sins" are made, people must ask forgiveness *of God,* and try not to repeat the mistake. That is what I believe. And that belief is not "mystery." Everybody undestands it clearly.

Narsil

04/16/2001 12:54:39 AM

darnay2 writes: "I have attempted to be heartfelt... and been excluded by proxy from Narsil's Easter table ." Well, if it makes you feel any better, Foust77 and Priam are also excluded from my particular Easter table. Eastern Orthodox churches are pretty strict about who gets to participate. (No offense meant, folks.) "I deserve an equal place at the Easter table with you narsil" And *here*, you're absolutely right! Both of us have the same "right" to the Easter table-- we have no right at all. It is not our table, we didn't set it, and we don't remotely deserve it. That said-- Christ's church has been pretty consistent about limiting attendance at that table to people who believe in some basic Christian doctrines. So while I don't have any "right" to be at that table, I am very grateful that Christ permits me to go there. And if you ever follow the Christian faith, you'll be permitted there, too...

darnay2

04/16/2001 12:29:40 AM

And sorry about the typeo -o's. I had little time for editing tonight. :) Happy Easter (the day we celebrte when christ was raised from death into the house of God). happy Easter to everyone.

darnay2

04/16/2001 12:22:18 AM

The only parts of my posts that seem to get responses are the ones directed toward specific people, largely because they, in thier Christian compassion, don't seem to care about the main point of my or any other liberal's posts. I am a child of god no different than anyone else here. I deserve an equal place at the Easter table with you narsil, and I 'm taking it because you do not decide who can sit and who doesn't. God and Christ decides, and the Christian message is that all are welcome, even if outr opinions differ. The fundies (not a derogatory term - just a shotened and rather cute form of any degree of fundamentalist)are not right, and niether are we libersals. We cannot know for sure. We only have intellect, faith, hope and love to guide us. Paul said the greatest of these is love. In this chat room, love has been the least. Snobbery has been the greatest. It will cease now.

darnay2

04/16/2001 12:17:14 AM

A biography and one book is a good representation of "what" a person believes, but not adequate explination of why a person believes it. Spong's faith quest is not simple. It has taken him years to come this far. Second, we are all partioal products of reason and intellect of our forefathers, and the Bible itself was written with tremendous reason and intellect. To proclaim these god-given wonders as "weak" shows a lack of faith in one of the main distinctions God blessed us with to distinguish us from other animals.

darnay2

04/16/2001 12:11:48 AM

There are several people here who are so sure of everything about thier faith that they feel they can afford to behave in a way that is snotty and arrogant toward others who disagree. I am speaking of course of foust77 and narsil, among others. Folks, this discussion is pointless. This is not a showcase for our surities and insecurities, our skill in memorizing the text of certain passages of scripture, and our sneer wit at putting down those who agree with us. I have attempted to be heartfelt in my responses to fundamentalist (or in narsil's case fundimentalist-like) posts, and have been laughed at by Faust and been excluded by proxy from Narsil's Easter table. (Cont'd)

Narsil

04/15/2001 11:15:00 PM

P.S. denholt-- why do you put the word "fundie" in quotation marks, as if it were a term we use and you borrow? Nobody ever calls himself a "fundie", except ironically (as I did last night). FWIW, I'm not a "fundamentalist"-- I'm not a protestant, and I'm not a biblical literalist. I freely grant that I have much more in common with fundamentalists than with liberal Christians-- is that what you're trying to say? In any event, "fundie" is a sneer word, a dismissive term which tends to lower the tone of the argument. So how 'bout a compromise-- you don't call us "fundies", and we don't call you "heathens"? Kristos anesti!

Narsil

04/15/2001 11:12:05 PM

Hm... I said why I don't believe that I have the same religion as some of the others here. As near as I can make out, starrcross and denholt are saying that my bigoted and intolerant attitude show why... um... why they don't have the same religion I do. So why all the fuss? We seem to be in agreement! It's a funny thing... If I say to a Jew, or a Moslem, or a Hindu, "My religion is different from yours", they don't seem to be offended. Kristos anesti!

starrcross

04/15/2001 10:16:21 PM

This is why I do not like Christianity. But I sure do love the Divine, with all my heart and soul and mind. I do not wish to have to decide what really happened that first Easter, I wasn't there. But I'm here, now, and I have faith that where love is there is the Divine. Where the Divine is there is eternal life, for love can only be experienced by the living.

denholt

04/15/2001 10:08:04 PM

Re Narsil's post of 4/15/01 - 2:06:41 pm: With this post we see the "us v. them" mentality of Biblical literalists aka "fundies." Narsil writes: "I won't quarrel with your folk customs -- but I wouldn't trade my holiday for yours," implying the superiority of his own beliefs. This is a perfect example why, after being raised in the Church (conservative Presbyterian), being educated in private, "Christian" schools from K-12 and receiving a B.A. from a well-known and highly respected evangelical Christian college, I have given up on organized Christianity. For the most part, it ignores the teachings of Christ in favor of Old Testament legalism, despite the fact that any credible Biblical scholar will tell you that the Christ's birth, death and resurection represent the fulfillment of the Old Testament. But then again, "fundies" don't enjoy much of a reputation for Biblical scholarship, do they?

Narsil

04/15/2001 02:06:41 PM

PLuv2 writes: "So I am to understand that you do not wish non-fundamentalist Christians a happy Easter?" Well, we don't all have the same holiday. Traditional Christians ("fundies", in local parlance) are celebrating our belief that God, who had become a Man, and laid down His life of His own free will, took it up again on the third day, rose from the dead, and thereby conquered death. I gather that liberal/progressive/"postmodern" Christians also have a holiday today, and also (confusingly enough) call it Easter. As near as I can tell from Spong's columns, they're celebrating that after a really cool guy got executed by some bad guys, all his friends remembered him so well that, gosh, it was like he'd risen from the dead or something. I won't quarrel with your folk customs-- but I wouldn't trade my holiday for yours... Kristos Anesti!

Foust77

04/15/2001 12:58:11 PM

"he was defending his miracle to people who felt that he was wrong because what he was doing went against the accepted teachings of the day." * Uh-huh... so do you reject that this miracle took place? If it didn't, then we have no reason to think Jesus wasn't wrong when he seemingly broke Jewish law (which he supported in other instances). And if it did take place, well then that's just a big can of worms for liberals, isn't it? ---- "Is laughing at the opinions and beliefs of others part of being a "fundie" If so count me out." * Yes, I laugh when people try to use a verse to defend their beliefs, when in reality that verse shows how they are wrong. I like irony, don't you?

PLuv27

04/15/2001 11:09:21 AM

An open letter to the "fundies": I wonder if you all keep slaves, keep the Sabbath, subjugate your wives and do not allow them to speak in church etc etc. I could go on and on listing teachings and "laws" from the bible that are no longer practiced. If you do not do these things then I suppose that you really don't believe that the Bible is the ennerant word of God after all. These teachings dissapeared as our understanding of the world increased. There were people who fought very hard against going away from these beliefs much as you are now. When history looks back on you, you will be seen to be as misguided as they were. How can meditating on the true meaning of Bible passages be a bad thing? Opening your mind to look more deeply into what the teachings of the Bible mean does not weaken Christianity. In fact, it has exactly the opposite effect. It causes the Christian faith to become much more alive and dynamic. Drop your fears, open your minds, love each other and your God. God Bless, PLuv

PLuv27

04/15/2001 10:56:56 AM

Foust77 wrote:"Go look at Matthew 12:6-7. You do realize that Jesus was defending a miracle he had just performed, right? Or maybe it's just a myth..." Foust77, I understand the context of the teaching. he was defending his miracle to people who felt that he was wrong because what he was doing went against the accepted teachings of the day. Funny sounds a lot like what started all the arguments posted here in the first place doesnt it? Foust77 also wrote "Haha" Haha? Is laughing at the opinions and beliefs of others part of being a "fundie" If so count me out.

Foust77

04/15/2001 10:26:23 AM

"like we liberals don't do our homework, don't agonize over our beliefs and don't feel a sense of care regarding our beliefs." * Human reason is frail, and changes from generation from generation. Like the book "Jesus Among Other Gods" says, moods change, the Truth does not. Don't go to your mind (primarily) for the truth, go to God. "Proverbs 14:11-13 There is a way that seems right to a man, but in the end it leads to death." "Corinthians 1:24-26 For the foolishness of God is wiser than man's wisdom, and the weakness of God is stronger than man's strength." "Go look at Matthew 12:6-7." * Haha. You do realize that Jesus was defending a miracle he had just performed, right? Or maybe it's just a myth...

Foust77

04/15/2001 10:24:52 AM

Part 1 "Um Foust177, I am talking about any of the so called "supernatural" miracles of past, present or future." * My statement still stands. This isn't a refutation of it, it just dodges it. ---- "And no, the two books you mentioned having read by spong are not enough." * Hahahahaha. I don't have to spend a lifetime studying the man. One autobiography and one book should be enough to understand anyone. How many books do you think I should read before I get a handle on the man? Sprong is *not* Jesus. ----

PLuv27

04/15/2001 10:01:46 AM

Narsil wrote:"To all those of my religion ("fundies") .....A glorious Easter to you!" So I am to understand that you do not wish non-fundamentalist Christians a happy Easter? Is there any sentement that could be more un Christian than that? Foust77 wrote:"Way to toss in that word "absolutley". " It isn't a question of semantics or wording. You yourself said "Look over the posts - Sprong's errors are repeatedly pointed out." I just fail to see these errors that have been "pointed out" It's very unfortunate that many seem to miss a big part of Jesus's teachings from his ministry. Namely the breaking down of religious and cultural traditions in the name of love and understanding. Go look at Matthew 12:6-7. God Bless and Happy Easter, P Luv

Narsil

04/15/2001 06:09:49 AM

To all those of my religion ("fundies") in this discussion-- A glorious Easter to you! Christ is risen from the dead, trampling down death by death, and bestowing life on those in the tombs! Worthy is the Lamb!

darnay2

04/15/2001 12:53:41 AM

Um Foust177, I am talking about any of the so called "supernatural" miracles of past, present or future. And no, the two books you mentioned having read by spong are not enough. Those two count as a very slim summation of views Spong carefully hypothesized, argued and supported over 20+ years of writing. go back a little further, and this time take some notes. Finally, I've been reading the thread over the last few days, and I've noticed a lot of fundies repeat words to the effect of "they call the parts of the Bible they disagree with 'myth' or 'legend'" It just isn't that simple. Fundies seem to think we liberals don't do our homework, don't agonize over our beliefs and don't feel a sense of care regarding our beliefs. Spong's conclusions come from a lifetime of study and reflection. Not just simply saying "i don't like it so I'll change it". hey fundies, at least recognize that much, please?

Foust77

04/15/2001 12:35:40 AM

"most people have never experienced a miracle, don't ever expect to and don't spend a lot of time even thinking about such an idea." * Ah. Well, yes, the number does grow smaller when you bring up the concept of modern miracles. However, evangelical christians (the second largest and fastest growing expression of christianity) do firmly believe in modern miracles. Not to backtrack, but in my post I was refering to miracles of the past, which are easier for most to believe in. However, my statement still stands - that more then "very few" believe in them.

Foust77

04/15/2001 12:32:45 AM

berdyaev said: "it probably wouldn't hurt to actually read something by Spong." * Does "Here I Stand" and "Why Christianity Must Change or Die" count as reading something by Sprong? I especially liked the part in WCMCOD when he claims to be a defender of the faith and a defender of "church unity". He then goes on to talk about his "suggestion" that Paul was gay. So... he's defending unity, but goes around harmlessly & admittedly pointlessly suggesting things he knows will promote disunity? ---- "As for Bishop Spong's so called errors I fail to see where he has been proven to be absolutely wrong." * Way to toss in that word "absolutley". No, he hasn't been proven wrong beyond a shadow of a doubt. But I still think it's clear that he makes unfounded assertions that don't stand up to scrutiny - like his comment about miracles.

darnay2

04/15/2001 12:10:05 AM

Foust77 writes: "before anybody responds to my post, tell me: am I worng to say that more then 'very few' people living in the post-modern world believe in fantastic miracles?" As a lifelong Christian and 3 year church emplyee, I can tell you it has been my experience that most people have never experienced a miracle, don't ever expect to and don't spend a lot of time even thinking about such an idea. To me, this is practically the same thing as non-believeing. belief is worthless without care. What most post-modern Christians attend church for (despite what they will answer on a survey) has more to do with coffe hour than liturgy. The number of us who care enough to go at each other on these message boards pales in comparison to those self-professed christians who go to church but don't really know or care why.

darnay2

04/14/2001 11:56:22 PM

I did not read any of the other posts regarding this third installment before submitting mine. Every time I do, I get frustrated at someone else's deafness and spent the whole post giving a counter argument. This installment is a well thought out hypothesis of what may or may not have happened. It is well written, provocative and should be considered by all in one way or another. perhaps I try to rely too much on the little brain God gave me, but I have never been able to accept as truth that which I understand to be truth's opposite. For me and countless others in the Same boat, Spong has gone a long way towards giving us a reason to worship Christwhen we had almost lost it. happy Easter!

Priam

04/14/2001 09:48:41 PM

Foust77, I am a Roman Catholic who believes in a sensient transcendant God and thus in the virgin birth and resurrection of Jesus Christ. For this reason, on this board I am labelled "fundie" and "pre-modern" as you have been. The word "fundie" has a different meaning here then it does elsewhere. You have do realize that for the most part, you are arguing with people of a different faith. As they don't believe in a transcendant God who answers prayers and performs miracles, logic shows that they will also not accept the virgin birth and resurrection. Such topics can be discussed between people of our faiths, but no constructive progress can be made here. I will agree with you in that it is sad how they have took in parts of the bible that fits their criteria and dismissed other parts as unreliable that does not. Only to have a more simplistic watered down religion. Much the same as the Jehova Witnesses.

howiedds

04/14/2001 05:53:28 PM

Thanks, berdyaev. Yours is the first comment that comes from a thoughtful, reasonable, tolerant mind. Who are all these folks that seem to know the mind of God with such certainty, not to mention events of the first century that are recorded only in an ahistorical work whose purpose was to convey to contemporary and future generations what the witnesses to Jesus' life thought they saw in this Palestinian Jew.

PLuv27

04/14/2001 11:17:54 AM

Hi Friends, Foust77 wrote in reply to me: "PLuv27, ever consider the possibilty that we think Sprong is simply and dangerously wrong? Look over the posts - Sprong's errors are repeatedly pointed out." Foust I have a very hard time seeing how the thought of reading the Bible with intelligence is dangerous. If Christianity is so weak that looking at the bible with intelligence will destroy it, well that is very sad indeed. My God and my Christianity are strong enough to stand up to a little intelligent scrutiny. As for Bishop Spong's so called errors I fail to see where he has been proven to be absolutely wrong. I think your belief that he has been proven wrong comes from the fact that you don't agree with him. And thats quite all right by the way, I firmly believe that a personal relationship with Jesus is just that; PERSONAL. God Bless you Foust and everyone else, PLuv

TheMadYank

04/14/2001 06:14:54 AM

When Mr Spong says: "If Christianity is built on a literal reading of these texts, it is on shaky ground indeed. Add to that the fact that growing exaggerations have so clearly entered these texts, and confidence in their literal accuracy plummets once again," It seems that all we have is a game of "Telephone" and wind up with nothing worth believing. Sounds good to me!

berdyaev

04/14/2001 03:29:03 AM

Also, as a side note, it probably wouldn't hurt to actually read something by Spong instead of just seeing his name and going into a frothing frenzy.

berdyaev

04/14/2001 03:27:54 AM

First, I love the arrogance that many of these posts (read: Fundamentalist posts) betray. Second, I love that fact that people aren't educated enough to understand that their critiques are grounded in their assumptions. Third, I find it humorous that people (again read: Fundamentalists) think that the way they read and understand the Bible is the only way or the way it has always been read. Do yourselves a favor: read some history; read a primer on logic; and remind yourselves that you are not God and cannot judge the heart or the intent.

Foust77

04/13/2001 11:52:14 PM

"1) My Bible's not dusted" D'oh. I meant "not dusty". ---- "I am troubled by the fact that so many are threatened by the writings of Bishop Spong." * Oh, here we go again. This is just like "you're getting defensive" or "you're hysterical" - it can't be argued against and only muddies the waters. PLuv27, ever consider the possibilty that we think Sprong is simply and dangerously wrong? Look over the posts - Sprong's errors are repeatedly pointed out. ---- "He loves the Bible and everything that it represents." * Everything that it represents? Hahahaha. Maybe everything he *makes* it represent. Anything he disagrees with, he declares "myth" or "unbelievable".

PLuv27

04/13/2001 10:39:51 PM

Hi friends, I am troubled by the fact that so many are threatened by the writings of Bishop Spong. I have yet to hear him say that the Bible is not a sacred and useful text. In fact he states quite the contrary often. He loves the Bible and everything that it represents. The only thing he does say is that the Bible should be read critically and with the understanding that people living in our day and age are blessed with. Please don't be so afraid and please read the Bible with open eyes. You may find it even more wonderful and beautiful if you do. I know I did. God Bless, P

Foust77

04/13/2001 10:04:38 PM

Merridaze - I don't think Sprong is one of these deceivers. No Christian with a solid biblical backing would ever be decieved by the good Bishop. I've always figured the deceiver would be more subtle. ---- "No, Foust, he means if I came to you.. and said, God spoke to me and said for you to jump off the Empire state bldg... you wouldn't believe me. The Pope wouldn't believe me." * No, I wouldn't believe you. 1) God dosen't perform pointless miracles 2) He wouldn't tell you to risk my life - He'd tell me 3) I find it highly amusing that you use the same scenario Satan did in the desert. Matthew 4:5 - "If you are the Son of God, he said, throw yourself down [and angels will catch you]." "But if you find that in a dusty old book, you might be tempted???" * 1) My Bible's not dusted 2) No such thing is in there

mariaiturbe

04/13/2001 05:52:14 PM

Just because the current Science can not PROVE that something DOES exist, does NOT automatically NEGATE its existence. There have been times in Human History when the accepted facts turned out to be wrong. It was a known "fact" that the world was flat. It was also "known" that the earth was the center of the universe and that the sun revolved around the earth. We in the post-modern world should not make the same mistakes of the past...that is to believe that we know all there is to know!

mariaiturbe

04/13/2001 05:36:33 PM

Foust77, I agree with you that a great many people believe in fantastic things. But I would also add that we live in a world of countless FACTS that would have been considered fantastic in the past.

DonJT

04/13/2001 05:35:56 PM

>>Sorry I can't quote the passage, but I remember the jest of the Bible reading...'in the last days some will come so cunning that even the elite will be deceived.' The last days have been coming for 2000 yrs now. If Spong is this person, I expect we're still safe. You're falling into the trap of believing "It's better to avoid stepping on cracks - just in case." It's safer to believe a superstition and it not be real than to not believe it and it be real. Are we really that paranoid?

DonJT

04/13/2001 05:33:06 PM

>>"Very few people living in the post-modern ...find these concepts believable." * If ...he means the 1/5 of the world's population that professes to be orthodox christian, then ok. No, Foust, he means if I came to you tomorrow and said, God spoke to me and said for you to jump off the Empire state bldg and you would fly like a bird, you wouldn't believe me. The Pope wouldn't believe me. But if you find that in a dusty old book, you might be tempted???

Foust77

04/13/2001 04:37:00 PM

maliethorn: "The problem with the statement below is this: Just because lots of people buy into the belief in "fantastic miracles" doesn't mean there is any truth to them." You miss my point, by a mile. I was pointing out that Sprong is saying things without foundation, things that I think all of us on both sides can agree are blatantly wrong. He says nobody believes in miracles anymore, when clearly a near majority of the worlds population *does* believe. ---- I'll come back to your questions about miracles later.

Merridaze

04/13/2001 04:01:15 PM

Sorry I can't quote the passage, but I remember the jest of the Bible reading...'in the last days some will come so cunning that even the elite will be deceived.' After reading some of Bishop Spong's articles I've wondered if perhaps he is not one of the deceivers we were warned of.

PrickliestPear

04/13/2001 03:56:55 PM

Bethell quotes 1 Corinthians 15.14, but seems not to have given it a great deal of thought. Some members of the community at Corinth were questioning the truth of the resurrection (1 Cor 15.12). Why would Paul feel threatened by this? Because if Jesus wasn't resurrected, Paul has no claim to being an apostle -- Paul never met Jesus during his life, he could only claim to have encountered him if he was, in fact, raised. By questioning the resurrection, the people at Corinth were questioning Paul's authority.

Merridaze

04/13/2001 03:52:27 PM

Presbygirl, did you recently visit Union-PSCE during the weekend to inquire? This is a great school, steeped in history and tradition,and so much is being planned for the future. The theological library is world-class.

boristspider

04/13/2001 03:41:01 PM

trmaster - I used to have the same criticism of Christianity. And I do mean the very same criticism. The injustice you point to is even worse when you consider that some Christian denominations would find room in "heaven" for your theoretical chronic sinner/repenter but not for people of conscience who happen, for whatever reason, to not be Christian. I think I have found the solution to this particular puzzle. I'd be happy to share it with you if you are interested. I'm not trying to convert, prosyletize (sp?), etc., so let me know if you really want to hear my solution. Boris

pastorgirl

04/13/2001 02:35:34 PM

tmaster1– let me try again. I have an 18 mo. old who I absolutely adore – not because he is smarter, cuter or better than others– not because of anything he can do for me– but just because of who he is. My son would like nothing better than to run out the door & into the street. He believes he'll find a world of excitment & adventure there. I know he'll be squashed like a bug. So I warn him– say "NO" etc. Not to spoil his fun or bend him to my will, but to preserve his life. But if he were to rebel & run into the street, I would run after him– even push him out of the way to take his place under the wheels of an 18 wheeler. This is how God loves us. Our sin leads ultimately to death. Why? I'm not sure I understand that any more than my 18 mo. old understands the physics of what happens to a 25 lb. child under the wheels of a semi. God doesn't want to spoil our fun or curb our freedom, he wants to save us from eternal death. Because of his great love for us, he was willing to die for us.

maliethorn

04/13/2001 02:21:20 PM

The problem with the statement below is this: Just because lots of people buy into the belief in "fantastic miracles" doesn't mean there is any truth to them. Lots of people believe things for stupid reasons or worse - no reason at all. After all, what constitutes a miracle, and how does one go about 'proving' the miracles' veracity?

Foust77

04/13/2001 01:18:04 PM

Here we go again. Unfounded, blatently incorrect comments. Bishop Sprong... are you reading any of this? "Very few people living in the post-modern world can suspend their rational faculties so totally as to find these concepts believable." * If by "very few" he means the 1/5 of the world's population that professes to be orthodox christian, then ok. If you include all the hindus and Jews that believe in things just as fantastic, then the number shoots way up. It's funny how he starts with a series of assumptions, just tossing out the story because he disagrees with it. "So we are left with an experience that cries out to be explained, and an explanation that has no credibility" * I'd say Sprong is the one without credibilty. Before anybody responds to my post, tell me: am I wrong to say that more then "very few" people living in the post-modern world believe in fantastic miracles?

boristspider

04/13/2001 01:11:18 PM

C.S. Lewis made some good points on this in one of the essays in "Mere Christianity." He explained two or three common ways to conceptualize the means by which the crucifiction and resurrection redeemed the world: as a substitute sacrifice, as a payment of man's debt, etc. And then basically said, pick one you like. No one can be sure of how exactly it works, just be sure that you know it does. Hans Kung goes a bit farther than Lewis, but not as faf as Spong and says that a physical resurrection, although it was well within God's power, was not necessary to the redemption formula. That the resurrection could be viewed as a transcendental event by which God justified the One who had been completely unjustified on Earth, by which God made known to men that Christ was in God and had spoken God's will on earth. Cont'd Boris

boristspider

04/13/2001 01:10:53 PM

--continuing-- Now this is hard to accept for many people who require that this recognition be communicated by God in the form of a miracle defying physical laws that most of us take for granted. Kung also examines the original words used to describe what we call the "resurrection" in the early, original texts of the Gospels. More often than not, the words chosen to describe this event are passive verbs. "Christ was raised." This is very different from saying that Christ resurrected himself. The use of a passive verb puts much more emphasis on the power of God the Father. cont'd - Boris

boristspider

04/13/2001 01:09:32 PM

Spong goes a lot farther, I don't agree with his ideas on an impersonal God and some other points but I do respect his attempt to elevate the discussion of the resurrection from out of the purely miraculous, historical context. In doing so, he is actually making the resurrection story more of a spiritual event and less of an alleged historical fact that acts as a litmus test for determining who is a "real Christian." Bring it on fundies! Boris

pastorgirl

04/13/2001 12:57:02 PM

(cont.) Blaise Pachal talks about the "great wager" (I'm doing a lot of quoting other people today– what does that say about me???)– if Chrsitianity is false, we are all doomed. If it is true, it is the most wonderful and powerful gift possible. We have nothing to lose– so "gamble" on God. So herre's my Good Friday wager for you: ask God to reveal himself to you. Sincerely ask him to open your heart to something supernatural. Ask him to touch you with his powerful, life-changing presence. Then see if anything "happens".

pastorgirl

04/13/2001 12:55:51 PM

Back to the core of our discussion– did Jesus physically rise from the dead? Basicly, our whole discussion has boiled down to a difference between empiricism and those who are open to the "supernatural" I don't know that there's anything I can offer in empirical proof. Scripture calls me to simply be a witness– to share what the resurrection has meant in my life– the rest is up to you– so here goes. God has broken into my life in a powerful way. He has helped me to become someone I could never be through my own power. He has equipped me in supernatural ways. I have seen the sick healed, I have seen broken relationships reconciled. I have seen his power at work in my life. Most of all, I have felt his presence. (cont.)

pastorgirl

04/13/2001 12:40:22 PM

The "core truth" of Calvinism– which I believe is the sovereignty of God– is alive and well in PCUSA. But I don't hear too much preaching (thankfully) on things like limited atonement that are a little "out there". In fact, in Calvin's Institutes he shows quite a bit of theological evolution himself as he changes and refines his views. Just shows that none of us has really "arrived"– we've all got a lot to learn.

Emilyanna17

04/13/2001 12:38:09 PM

Amen, Tom. God bless you.

pastorgirl

04/13/2001 12:37:04 PM

tmaster1– one last thing I forgot to add re: "cheap grace"– the Greek word for repentance means a literal 180 turn– consciously turning our lives around and going the other direction. Continuing in sin with a few "time outs" to go to confession is not repentance. (As I write this I'm beginning to be uncomfortably convicted of all the stubbornly sinful areas of my life I like to ignore so maybe we should change the subject...).

tarrantf

04/13/2001 12:33:00 PM

Pastorgirl, Is there much of Calvin left in the PCUSA. This is a serious question because I really don't know your Church has evolved.

pastorgirl

04/13/2001 12:27:21 PM

tmaster1– you're right about the gospel being abused– what Dietrich Bonhoffer calls "cheap grace". All too many churches (especially in US) teach this watered-down "feel good religion", with tragic results. But this is not the gospel Jesus taught. Let me take another stab at it. Jesus' death demonstrates two powerful truths: (1.) the seriousness of our rebellion against God. Our sin was not some "goof" that could easily be swept aside by a kindly God with a pat on the head or a slap on the wrist. Nothing less than the death of God's own son could set it right. (2.) the enormity of God's love for us. That he would be willing to pay that price– that at our worst moments, when we were farthest from him, he loved us enough to die for us (Rom. 5:8). It's kinda un-presby of me, but I don't believe God choses only those he "favored" (Calvin's limited atonement). I believe Scripture shows God passionately loves each of us, & desires us to be reconciled to him.

pastorgirl

04/13/2001 12:17:39 PM

Tarrantf– re: science and faith: well said! (there must be a God when you and I start agreeing on stuff!). Faith is nothing else if not a search for truth. A distrust of science is indicative of an ungodly and unattractive fear of "losing ground"– of having to give up our own preconceived notions– rather than a willingness to be surprised by the truth God has for us.

JimboBillyBob

04/13/2001 11:30:12 AM

As for Tmaster's question about why Jesus died: Emmett Fox has a take on this, that his was not a martyr's death, but rather a demonstration of how through God, we could triumph over death. Does it still mean someone had to get up and walk out of tomb on Easter Sunday? I don't think so, necessarily. But I can tell you from my own experience God has helped me triumph over my own hopelessness, only after I surrendered and allowed things to be as he would have it, "not as I." Bill Wilson, founder of AA, was pronounced "hopeless" by the leading chemical addiction treatment physician of the time. Yet God took away his drinking obsession. Before his death (He died sober.) Wilson founded a fellowship that continues to grow and offer hope to suffering alcoholics worldwide, and it's largely based on the great commandment "love thy neighbor." That's evidence to me Jesus is alive and well.

JimboBillyBob

04/13/2001 11:22:58 AM

Amen Tarrantf! The "fundies" tend to look at science and scientific achievements as a threat in themeselves. While I'm not an ardent student of the sciences, I have friends who are. It's explained to me Darwin was never an athiest, as is implied by conservatives. Rather, he sought to find explanations for HOW God worked. The Creation story was borrowed form a Babylonian myth, for example. There was no stenographer recording what God did on each day. I feel my God is made much greater when scientists explain he set things in motion and let them run their course. An interesting tidbit: scientists say the universe is expanding, but there is an outer boundry, moving as the walls of a balloon. So what's constricting it, and what's on the other side?

tmaster1

04/13/2001 11:02:40 AM

pastorgirl, I'll keep this *out* of the realm of tension, and just follow up. Okay, you claim the penalty of the bondage of sin has been removed. Then you state that you're talking about "eternal terms." So are you saying that the former Catholic teaching of eternal hell was *always false?* Because if you're saying that Jesus death mitigated saved sinners from eternal hell, then where did the idea of eternal hell come from in the first place? Also, you talk about Jesus' death as giving a "second chance." Wouldn't you say that many of those who believe in Jesus have used up their second chance? At some point, it seems that your concept breaks down. In your concept, a person can sin all his life, repenting repeatedly. But as long as he believes in Jesus, he'll avoid the hellfire.

tarrantf

04/13/2001 10:30:09 AM

Good question, Presby. In my understanding, God cannot be a liar; therefore, archeology and science only bring us closer to Truth and the nature of God. I fear no scientific finding that might shake the foundations of the Church. Frankly, I think the Church needs to be shaken up a great deal more. Truth shall be victorious, and truth and God shall not contradict one another. The fossil records, the spectographic imagery revealing the origins and age of the universe, and our growing understanding of the intricacies of human life bring us closer to the true God of creation.

Presby

04/13/2001 09:44:29 AM

Pastorgirl, thanks for the rcommendation. Yes I would be interested. I love history. As I mentioned a few pages back, part of my faith journey at this point is wanting to know more about the individuals in the Bible from a more historical perspective. Presbygirl79, good luck on seminary. While we're at it, I'll throw out another topic I think we've all been dancing around: Does the effort in the modern age to know as much about the archeological record of that time destroy (for you) the beauty (the miraculous, the metaphorical, the allegorical) of the writings from that time? For me it doesn't. I believe archeology, science and theology aren't necessarily working at cross purposes here. But there seems to be some testiness about that.

breadandbutterfly

04/13/2001 05:17:04 AM

And I think Spong's point in saying "the bible was wrong when ..." is that the bible in the hands of church leaders was interpreted incorrectly and to useless ends.

breadandbutterfly

04/13/2001 05:14:13 AM

Benthall's essay is succinct, yes, but the religion he defends is not appealling. Why would Jehovah be so disturbed by our misbehaviour that he has to damn us all to hell? And demand the sacrifice of his son to appease? Just like Moloch. Benthall's god has picked all his heavenly favourites out before the dawn of time anyway. So leave the rest of us to this world, to do the best we can. Spong has encouraged me to return to the gospels and think about what I find there. I like alot of it. I don't know what C. S. Lewis meant when he said they were the most terrifying words. I don't have any hellish spectre hanging over my head and with my thinking thus cleared earnest investigation is alot more commendable than blind, ego-boosting faith.

pastorgirl

04/13/2001 12:10:30 AM

Sorry for the sidebar... now back to your usual discussion...

pastorgirl

04/12/2001 10:08:54 PM

I went to the outcast school– Fuller. I had a great experience there. I have a lot of friends at Princeton– the PCUSA "gold standard" (and all the financial aid $$ doesn't hurt either).

presbygirl79

04/12/2001 09:28:14 PM

pastorgirl, Not to change the subject, but you mentioned being PC(USA) (me too!:) ) and you're screenname says your a pastor. Where did you go to seminary? I'm hoping to go to either Union-PSCE in VA or Princeton. Only one more semester for me before then!

pastorgirl

04/12/2001 09:00:14 PM

re: definition of a fundamentalist: Harold Ockenga (one of the founders of Fuller Seminary) wrote an excellent article defining fundamentalism not as any set of beliefs, but as a way of looking at the world. A fundamentalist is one who defines the world as "us" and "them". A fundamentalist "demonzies" those who disagree with him/her. A fundamentalist is a purist who shuns contact with the "other". Thus, a fundie can be either right or left wing, depending on their outlook. In fact, by this definition, Spong himself would be a fundie (!) because of the way he "demonizes" the motives of his critics, and dismisses them as "ignorant". An excellent book on the evolution of evangelicalism and the fundie movement is Reforming Fundamentalism by Marsden. Presby– you would enjoy this as it details a fascinating era of our common PCUSA history.

pastorgirl

04/12/2001 08:52:06 PM

tmaster– yours is a simple yet basic question. I agree, sin abounds in the world– sadly, the Christian church being no paragon of virtue. Jesus did not die to eliminate sin from the world– without the freedom to sin, we would be mere puppets. Jesus died to remove the "bondage" of sin– which means the penalty (in eternal terms) but also our very powerlessness, our addiction to sin (i.e. doing things our own way). I know, I know, that sounds like a "get out of jail free card"– all the sin with none of the consequences. And many conservative churches seem to teach just that. But Paul preaches against that philosophy of "sin that grace may abound". Rather, Jesus' death gives us a second chance. It gives us the power to become something we can't be through our own strength. It gives us hope.

tmaster1

04/12/2001 08:40:50 PM

I have a simple and, I believe, fair question. This is posed not as an attack on Christianity. Explain what did the supposed "death" of Jesus do? It is said that he died for the sins of the world. So what *result* comes from that? On another note, it looks to me that the proof of Paul's words can be seen today in the *existence* of much sin. Paul said that if Christ be not risen, "then is our faith in vain--we are yet in our sins." Look around you. Sin is everywhere and growing. And Paul said that if "Christ be not risen, we are yet in our sins: your faith is in vain." So if we're to believe Paul, the Christ did not rise. Because we are "yet in our sins." America has more Churches per capita than any other country--and the most sin. "If Christ be not risen, we are yet in our sin." The Tomb of Jesus Christ Website.

tmaster1

04/12/2001 08:25:32 PM

mariaiturbe states: "I guess it is OK to offend Christians even during the most sacred period." Also: "I wonder if the question were the validity of Judaism, Hinduism, Islam, or any other religion...would we be debating if their beliefs were valid during their most holy period." People consciously remember when Christianity criticized other religions for centuries. Now that it is under scrutiny, it screams foul. Certainly the holiday should be respected, and I do. But this is a free forum.

citizenk

04/12/2001 04:06:26 PM

As G.K. Chesterton said, when you stop believing in God, you will believe in anything--and that is what has happened to Spong. He has stopped believing in God--but because of the racket he's got going he cannot come out and be frank about it. He does believe in something, though: his ability to manufacture a nonexistent scholarly consensus on the "historical" Jesus. Oh, yes, by the way: If Jesus was not the Christ, the Anointed One prophesied in the Hebrew Scriptures, and he founded no institutional Church with the authority to teach and preach in his name, which can only be God's name, or what you have is a cult not a church, what exactly is Spong a bishop of?

citizenk

04/12/2001 04:05:27 PM

In the words of Father Raymond Brown, the hem of whose exegetical garment Spong is not fit to touch, "The differing details [of the resurrection] clearly rule out any organized attempt at inventing the incidents involved. Different apologetic and doctrinal interest in these various compositions seems to guide the choice of appearances and details." And as for what a so-called "modern" person will or will not believe in this scientific age, has Spong taken a look in a bookstore recently--I mean to look at more than his own works? Works on the occult and New Age spirituality, positing far more bizarre notions than anything described in the Bible, clog the shelves.

Narsil

04/12/2001 02:31:06 PM

Presbygirl79 says, "Additionally, I am by no means a fundamentalist. And I don't like being accused of being one." Um, actually, on this board, you *are* a fundamentalist. You may think that "fundamentalism" is a particular school of evangelical Baptists with particular teachings about the nature of Scripture, the Atonement, and the Millenium. That *is* what the term means in divinity schools. But here, or wherever Spong is, "fundamentalist" simply means "someone who believes the Resurrection really happened, and thinks this is important to Christianity". Spong uses "fundamentalist" (and other terms, like "premodern") to mean "someone whose preconceptions are not my own, so I'd rather dismiss him." So wear the badge with pride. I find it strange to be called a "fundamentalist", sitting as I am at a desk surrounded by ikons. Certainly Rev. Falwell wouldn't call me a "fundamentalist". But Spong would, and so would Buxton... so why quibble about a word?

Priam

04/12/2001 01:36:10 PM

Presby, our definition of God is totally different from yours. Looking at this discussion, there was no common ground for each side to come to terms on. We are of different faiths. In regards to your slight attempt to insult, I don't think anybody's thinking was muddied (on both sides). There are other pages here for Mormons, JW, Muslims, etc. However, as I think the Mormon beliefs are bunk, if I went to their main board and posted my opinions, they would be deleted. I would have to post them on the "opposing view" board. I think Spong's columns should be presented for Anglicans, and if others such as myself wanted to enter these discussions, we would have to so on the premise that we know your beliefs and post in a civil and corial way. I think this would make it a lot more positive would stop the bickering due to confusion of both sides on the belief of the others.

Presby

04/12/2001 01:18:24 PM

Just so I'm clear, You would rather everyone else just contain themselves, their expression of God in their lives, so you don't have to deal with it. That way it doesn't muddy up your thinking.

Priam

04/12/2001 01:09:21 PM

For these reasons, I feel that the missunderstandings, bad feelings, and arguments could be avoided if Beliefnet presented Spong's columns in a way that it is clear that it is written by an Episcopalian for Episcopalians.

Priam

04/12/2001 01:02:17 PM

anglodutch, by Orthodox Christian I am referring to Roman Catholics, Eastern Orthodox, and conservative Protestants. By "Episcopal audience" I am referring to people of the Anglican denominations and also other liberal denominations such as the UCC. True, there are a variety of opinions within the Anglican church. However, though Spong may appear to be the "shock jock" of the Anglican world, his beliefs are common within it and shared by a great many in his church. This is the way Anglicanism is going. By going through these discussions, it becomes apparent that we are of very different faiths. To argue such topics is the equivalent to arguing the resurrection with Muslims who also do not believe in it (although we have common ground with them in that we believe in a transcendant God who created the universe, all life, answers prayers, and performs miracles).

Presby

04/12/2001 12:24:02 PM

RockyMtnTim:"what is important... do, is a belief system that does not question, but accepts what is written in the bible as factual." Tim, I'm certian you don't know anybody from PCUSA.

Presby

04/12/2001 12:12:21 PM

Presbygirl79, Welcome! Always like to see more Presbies. We are having a Maundy Thursday Tennebrae service tonight. We light the candlelabra and as each one of the disciples flees during the reading of Scriptures, a candle is snuffed out. It's rather draining for me actually, seeing those candles go out. Then to welcome the daybreak on Easter morning is all the more glorious.

tarrantf

04/12/2001 11:52:46 AM

Presby, No, it is not an all-nighter. The service lasts maybe two or two and a half hours, and it may be held at anytime after sundown on Holy Saturday and before sunrise Easter Sunday. Ours will begin at 9:30 pm. The only all-nighter we have is the Night Watch, during which people come and pray and meditate. Jesus asked his followers to wait, watch, and pray with him in the Garden. Anyone who wants may stay in the church all night where the reserve sacrament is placed to be viewed in a monstrance. This begins directly after the Maundy service and concludes with the Good Friday liturgy at noon.

Presby

04/12/2001 11:44:49 AM

JimboBillyBob:"...if it didn't happen, Christianity is a sham. Spong is saying the opposite...challenging us to move beyond biblical literalism and explore the great mysteries .... To do so makes my Christian faith come alive and assures me that my job of seeking God is never done." Amen! I don't think Spong is denying anything so much as trying to reframe it. I think the minute I begin to think I have anything perfectly figured out in nice neat little packages, I have failed in the task God has set me to.

JimboBillyBob

04/12/2001 11:39:25 AM

I think too many of us are keeping our minds in a box. It's strictly an either or proposition. 'Either Jesus walked out of the tomb, or he didn't, and if he didn't, there's no basis for Christian faith.' I disagree. Perhaps this business of 'rising' is itself a metaphoic mystery which bears exploring, and may yield more profound revalations than any of us could imagine. We forget the Bible wasn't written in King James English. Jesus wasn't speaking to his disciples in English. There is a lot of room for misinterpretation, making Biblical Literalism suspect. The trouble is, too many clerics know this and refuse to admit it from the pulpit. Either they are afraid of their congregations or they want to maintain control over them.

RockyMtnTim

04/12/2001 11:39:00 AM

To believe in the physical resurrection of Christ is to go beyond the physical laws of nature as we now know them. Simply put the present laws of physics, as we know them, obviouly does not allow for such an historical happening. Thus, one has to believe, as many Christians do, that we have a transident God and Jesus Christ who are beyond the known laws of physics. I am not a Christian so I do not believe in transident laws. However, what is important for those who do, is a belief system that does not question, but accepts what is written in the bible as factual. Personally, I have always seen Christ as the great example not the great exception.

JimboBillyBob

04/12/2001 11:34:41 AM

Don JT: 'Acknowledging this "myth creation" is the first step in getting to the true core of Christian faith.' This is precisely the point Spong is trying to make! I don't know that Jesus rose from the dead, and I don't know that he didn't. I don't have a problem with people saying they accept that he did on the basis of faith. I do have a problem with people saying I have to believe he walked out of his tomb in order for me to call myself a Christian. I also have a problem with people suggesting that if it didn't happen, Christianity is a sham. Spong is saying the opposite. He is merely challenging us to move beyond biblical literalism and explore the great mysteries of our faith. To do so makes my Christian faith come alive and assures me that my job of seeking God is never done.

JimboBillyBob

04/12/2001 11:30:16 AM

Obfuscate: You asked where the core teachings of Jesus could be found? I believe they can be found in Mathew 5, 6 and 7 with the Sermon On The Mount. There is an excellent book by a scholar named Emmet Fox who gives his take on what Jesus presented on the Mount. I find it very useful, and the fact that I can apply these teachings with positive results is all the proof I need that Jesus lives.

presbygirl79

04/12/2001 11:24:22 AM

Presby, For holy week celebrations, I will attend Maundy Thursday service tonight, Good Friday service tomorrow, and at least one Easter service Sunday, depending on if I can manage to wake myself up early enough to make it to church at 7:00 a.m. I attend all the services in order to view the Passion in totality, rather than focusing merely on the Resurrection or by turning Easter into a focus on the Crucifixion and the Resurrection as some sort of afterthought (as some churches do). Anyway, blessings to all.

presbygirl79

04/12/2001 11:19:40 AM

Don, I did not mean to imply that St. Paul's words are the ONLY definition of the faith, but that they are the starting point in many regards. Additionally, I am by no means a fundamentalist. And I don't like being accused of being one. The literal interpretation of ALL of scripture is incorrect. Certain things should be understood in a literal sense. Certain others most definitely should not. That's what I adhere to. Don't define people by one post! BTW, the reasons the different stories of Jesus differ in the gospels is due to the purpose and audience to whom they are writing. Additionally, if you and I witnessed the same event, would we not tell it defferently because of our differing perspectives? Spong's point is not solely to point out something that is unhealthy for the church; it is to dismantle key historical doctrines. Doubt is okay; believe me, I have plenty of it; but to outright deny the fundamentals is a whole other ballgame.

Presby

04/12/2001 10:59:26 AM

Fred, Thanks! :) Your service sounds lovely. Wow, to be baptized during Easter, how powerful! So, this is an all-nighter? I like the idea of kids filling in the cross with daffodils. How beautiful. "Suffer the little children to come unto me..." Thinking of who's feet I can wash today, Denice

tarrantf

04/12/2001 10:38:13 AM

Preach on, Presby! We shall gather in the Church Garden after sunset on Holy Saturday, where the priest will kindle the new flame from which the Paschal Candle shall be lighted. Then we shall process into the church chanting "Light of Christ; Thanks be to God." We shall then begin the Great Vigil of Easter with the Exultet and Biblical stories of salvation history. We will have baptisms, and the first Eucharist of the Resurrection will be celebrated close to midnight. The Easter Vigil is my favorite service of the year, but I also love the Easter Sunday services, especially when all of the children come forward and place bright yellow daffodils into a cross frame. Today is Maundy Thursday when we observe Jesus washing his disciples' feet and commanding them to love one anothor. Let us do the same. Peace to you all. Fred

Presby

04/12/2001 10:31:54 AM

I do not expect any of you to see God the same way I do. I would add that the reason I come to BNet is to learn...from everyone: the believers, the doubters, the wannabes, and the travelers. Learning how others see God enriches, not lessens my own experience. Those differences help me feel closer to the infinite complexity that is God. And I do this not just within Christendom, but across religions as well. I learn from Jews, Muslims, Hindus, Buddists, anyone who dares to walk the spiritual path. I thank all of you for sharing your thoughts and beliefs.

anglodutch

04/12/2001 10:20:11 AM

Priam, What in the world is an "Episcopal audience." Where 2 or 3 Episcopalians are gathered ye shall find 4 or 5 opinions. I'm strangely troubled by your declaration of who is and who isn't Spong's audience and the implied contrast between Episcopalians and "Orthodox Christians." (And, who do you mean by that later distinction? Eastern Orthodox?) Please define your terms.

Presby

04/12/2001 10:15:30 AM

What I will do on Easter morning is get up in the dark, out of respect for the occasion put on my best dress. I'll go to the Church cemetery just as the first rays of daybreak begin to peak over the trees. Watch my minister proclaim "He is not here. He is risen, indeed!", with sheer, unconditional joy on her face. We will celebrate the life, the eduring and everlasting love of Christ with our prayers, our voices, and our corporate hearts. Then, we will go have the breakfast the men have prepared... TOGETHER. What about the rest of you?

Presby

04/12/2001 10:04:44 AM

I think what this discussion does show is, even in the Christian community, there is wide variance in what the word "Resurrection" means. I think what's needed here is some recognition of individual experience. My particular view of it does not negate or disallow another's experience of it. And it works the other way also, I do not expect any of you to see God the same way I do. We are all individuals, there's no reason to believe our experience of the Divine wouln't be unique to each of us as well.

Priam

04/12/2001 09:53:59 AM

I agree with your last posts Narsil. Spong is writing for a different audience. If someone does not believe in a transcendant God who knows the future and can perform miracles, then it is pretty obvious that they will not believe in the resurrection and there is not much point in discussing it. Part of the missunderstandings and arguments could be avoided if Beliefnet presented Spong in a way that made it clear it is for an Episcopalian audience. That way Orthodox Christians would not enter with the missconception that they are conversing with people with similar beliefs. It is not much different then going to the Muslim boards and arguing the resurrection.

Nomad

04/12/2001 09:38:53 AM

Bethell writes: "The truth is that Jesus--his life, his teachings, his resurrection--is difficult for all of us to accept. But we must do so." The truth is that Buddha--his life, his teachings, his englightenment--is difficult for all of us to accept. But we must do so. Bethell commits a logical fallacy in assuming Jesus is unique in being able to have this claim made about him. Unfortunately, it's quite likely Jesus was merely a construction of the later church. Paul never refers to anything of Jesus of Nazareth (not one miracle, not one parable, not one teaching) and most, if not all, of the other epistles are just as lacking in reference to an historical figure portrayed in the Gospels. The early church fathers make no clear references to an historical Jesus until midway in the second century. Such a lack of reference is striking. See www.jesuspuzzle.com for a more thorough argumentation.

DonJT

04/12/2001 09:05:41 AM

>>The Apostle Paul wrote So you are saying that everything that Paul said "IS" the definition of Christianity? A famous quote (forget source but can get it if you insist): "Protestantism is the triumph of Paul over Peter. Fundamentalism is the triumph of Paul over Christ." So true... So true...

DonJT

04/12/2001 09:02:17 AM

>>By the way, most ministers read the same books Spong does. They know the history of the canon. ... Let me understand you. Most ministers know the books of the Bible were not written when and by whom they preach that they are? They know the stories of Jesus birth, life and death are different in many details? They know this and still preach it? So they lie to their congregation by not telling them what they know? Maybe Spong is being overly generous. Or maybe despite "knowing" these things, they are afraid of them and so choose to "not believe" them. Separating ones faith from one's knowledge is surely not healthy for the church.... OOPS! I think that's Spong's point.

presbygirl79

04/12/2001 08:57:40 AM

Happy Easter all! "But in fact Christ has been raised from the dead, the first fruits of those who have fallen asleep." (1 Cor. 15:20)

presbygirl79

04/12/2001 08:57:24 AM

In his first article during Holy Season, irRev. Spong said that "no major theologian, Protestant or Catholic" would argue that belief in the Resurrection of Christ is necessary to the Christian faith. WRONG! The Apostle Paul wrote, "For I delivered unto you as of FIRST IMPORTANCE what I also received, that Christ died for our sins in accordance with the scriptures, that he was buried, that he was raised on the third day in accordance with the scriptures, and that he appeared to the Cephas, then to the twelve..." (1 Cor. 15:3ff.) FIRST IMPORTANCE, in other words, this is FUNDAMENTAL to the Christian faith, and what irRev. is doing is trying to not change Christianity but to dismantle it. He is attempting to remove from Christian thinking its distinctive-the particularity of the person of Jesus Christ. This is heresy!

mariaiturbe

04/12/2001 05:31:17 AM

I wonder if the question were the validity of Judaism, Hinduism, Islam, or any other religion...would we be debating if their beliefs were valid during their most holy period? I think it would be politcally in-correct to do this with any other religion except for Christianity. Perhaps during this holy week, we would be better served to debate the actual teachings of Christ and not if he is valid or not. I guess it is OK to offend Christians even during the most sacred period.

tmaster1

04/11/2001 08:33:00 PM

A portion of the previous post is incorrect. It should have read, "...non-Church texts other than the "authorized" Bible],

tmaster1

04/11/2001 08:30:15 PM

Narsil wishes very badly that the discussion end. So he employs the common trick of the lazy: sarcasm. It is a common, Internet forum ploy: When your'e stumped and have nothing really to contribute, employ sarcasm. Well, leaving Narsil aside [where he probably feels more comfortable anyway, now that the topic has *widened* to include non-Church "authorized" texts such as the Bible], I will continue. *At this very moment*--especially since the year 1974, up until today--Ahmadi Muslims in Pakistan are martyred for their particular beliefs, which go counter to the orthodox beliefs of the majority Muslims of the world. And they believe as strongly in their beliefs as others do. But martyrdom is not necessarily a sign of the truth of a belief. It is a sign of the *faith of that individual,* more than anything else. What's to be examined is the doctrines of the particular belief, not one's martyrdom.

tmaster1

04/11/2001 08:19:56 PM

THE QUESTION OF MARTYRS: There are *plenty* of cases of martyrdom throughout human history. So the supposed martyrdom of the disciples does not *at all* prove that Jesus rose from the dead, or that he ascended into heaven. There are people who will martyr themselves for MAFIA LEADERS, in order to protect that leader--and they will do it without hesitation. There are people who have bombs strapped to themselves, but only THEY and their deluded leaders view them as martyrs. The rest of us think they're nuts.

Narsil

04/11/2001 08:17:27 PM

tmnaster1 says: "The point is what one of Hitler's men said: If you tell a lie long enough, people begin to believe it." Hurray! It took 20 screens, but someone finally invoked the Nazis. That means the discussion is over! And not a moment too soon...

tmaster1

04/11/2001 08:10:27 PM

THE POINT: The point is what one of Hitler's men said: If you tell a lie long enough, people begin to believe it. And despite the fact that the idea of someone *actually* dying and coming back to life to EAT FOOD soundsd absolutely ridiculous, Christians have heard it for so long that any other *reasonable* suggestion sounds "wacky." That's almost hilarious.

tmaster1

04/11/2001 08:07:40 PM

Speaking of wacky, which of the following sounds wackier: 1. A man dies on the cross. Then his DEAD body is placed in a tomb. Then three days later a DEAD MAN comes back to life. Then this DEAD MAN starts walking around *in the flesh.* Then this DEAD MAN starts eating food [for what? Nourishment?]. Then this DEAD MAN flies vertically up in the skies until he's no longer seen. Then this DEAD MAN sits next to God's "right side". 2. A man is nailed to a cross, goes into a coma. He's in the coma for three days. He comes out of the coma. His wounds are healed by friends.

tmaster1

04/11/2001 08:03:51 PM

[Second challenge to Priam]: Priam, please NAME the historians who so-called "debunked" what I presented. Not only that, *show a specific instance* where ANYBODY here debunked anything that I've placed, either her or at The Tomb of Jesus Christ Website. Have they "debunked" the Qisa Shazada? Have they "debunked" the Garden of Solomon, or any of the other documents presented here or at the website? Name these people, please, or stand accused of lying.

Narsil

04/11/2001 08:03:34 PM

Whoa. And I thought it couldn't get any wackier... Kalli anastasi!

tmaster1

04/11/2001 07:58:40 PM

[CONTINUED FROM PREVIOUS POST] You don't know the excerpts from the Bhavishya Mahapurana. Yet you *think* that you can discuss what happened to Jesus after the crucifixion, while you don't have all the information. You have not read the writings held by the Followers of Jesus in Herat, Afghanistan. You have not read the Wajees-ut-Tawareek, have you? All you know is *what you have been taught* by a LIMITED group of so-called Church scholars who re-read the SAME thing, century after century, as if Europe was the only place that existed, *despite* the fact that Jesus was an Eastern man Meaning that *if* you want to find out what happened to him, you have to read what the documents of the East state, not some so-called orthodox OR revisionist scholar, *neither* of whom have the courage to face the fact that they are walking in circles, going nowhere.

tmaster1

04/11/2001 07:55:19 PM

Priam, please NAME the "other discussion" that "even non-Christian historians" supposedly "debunked" me on. And perhaps the reason you are advising people not to discuss this subject with me is due to your fear of their being INDEPENDENT enough [and not afraid] to read the information at The Tomb of Jesus Christ Website. One reason that *nobody* here [you're simply lying outright] "debunked" anything is because I doubt very seriously if anyone here knows Persian, Sanskrit, Tibetan or any of the language that record the sojourn of Jesus Christ throughout Asia AFTER the crucifixion. Those documents are featured--in their original script--on the Ancient and Other Documents page of The Tomb of Jesus Christ Website. "He's not worth the time." But *of course* you'd state that, because you don't know the subject at all. You don't know about the Rauzat-us-Safa, the Tarik-i-Kabir-i-Kashmir, the Glass Mirror, and the other documents that reveal Jesus' post-crucifixion life.

Narsil

04/11/2001 07:41:46 PM

Part III... nothing really new here. Again, he simply asserts that miraculous, supernatural explanations are "unbelievable". I think I'm being unfair to Spong-- he's writing to a different audience. His columns might be very valuable to those who have already dismissed the idea of a "Theistic" God, Who answers prayers and works wonders. For such people, the question "why should I go to church" might be a pressing and emotional one. (Wasn't for me when I was an atheist, but maybe I just have a better-integrated personality...) But for people who find the idea of a God plausible, Spong literally has nothing to say. He refuses to even consider the question "Can there be miracles?", so his arguments and conclusions can't much interest those who think the miraculous is possible.

Priam

04/11/2001 07:19:54 PM

Part 1 Easter, the holiest festival of the Christian year, is still observed as a civic holiday in Canada, but one suspects that its true significance is lost on most of the largely unchurched baby boomers and the even less-churched generations following in their wake.

Priam

04/11/2001 07:19:29 PM

Part 2 Today's multiculturalism mania begs the question of how long a commemoration of Jesus Christ's Resurrection from the dead can remain a public holiday in this society. Christmas has already been replaced in some venues by the politically-correct "Winterfest." Can "Springfest" be far behind, so as to avoid offending the sensibilities of religious minorities and atheists. However, the Cross of Jesus Christ has always been offensive. The prophet Isaiah refers to the Messiah as "a rock of offence." St. Paul speaks of the "offence of the cross" in his letter to the Galatians. Display of the cross by Christians has frequently tended to arouse antagonism, in its symbolic claim that the only route to the kingdom of God is the way of the Cross.

Priam

04/11/2001 07:19:07 PM

Part 3 The question Easter confronts us with is: "Did Jesus Christ rise from the dead on the third day following his crucifixion, or didn't he?" If he didn't, then Christianity is a fraud and a sham, and those who call themselves Christians ought to give up the charade and stop propagating a lie. However, if Jesus did rise, then the souls of those who reject him are in dire peril. What evidence have we that Jesus rose? That his body disappeared from the tomb seems to have been widely acknowledged. Roman soldiers, the government and Jewish Temple authorities all accepted that without controversy. So what happened to the body?

Priam

04/11/2001 07:18:49 PM

Part 4 If religious enemies had stolen it, why did they not produce it when the Apostles began preaching about the Resurrection? If thieves stole it, why did they leave the expensive grave-clothes behind? If it were stolen by the disciples themselves, it's not credible that they would have been willing to suffer hideous persecution and death under torture for preaching that Christ had risen, without someone breaking down and recanting. A man might be prepared to die for a mistaken conviction, but few would be prepared to suffer like that for what he knew was a lie.

Priam

04/11/2001 07:18:25 PM

Part 5 The Bible says over 500 people saw Jesus on 10 different occasions after the Resurrection. Then there is the matter of Jesus' own promise to come back to life. If he did not keep the promise then he was a liar and a disappointment to his followers and unlikely to inspire martyrdom. It is, of course, politically incorrect to insist that there is one unique way of salvation, and to assert that one religion is "truer" than the others. But Christianity is founded on belief in a risen Jesus Christ, and once that is affirmed, it is absurd to claim that other religions and teachers are his equals in any sense.

Priam

04/11/2001 07:18:08 PM

Part 6 He either rose on Easter Day - or he did not. If he really did rise, the implications are profoundly and magnificently overwhelming. If Christ is who he said he was, then he is not just a God for Christians, but God the Creator of the universe, and his spiritual authority over that creation and everyone in it is absolute. If he was lying, or mistaken about himself, why should anyone want to be a Christian? The question the Christian Gospel confronts us with is: "What think ye of Christ?"

Priam

04/11/2001 07:17:42 PM

Part 7 There is simply no logical or defensible basis for being "a little bit" or "moderately" Christian. As St. Paul affirmed: "If Christ hath not been raised, then is our preaching in vain, your faith also is in vain. . . . If we have only hoped in Christ in this life, we are of all men most pitiable." Unfortunately, most churches today do a largely ineffectual job of conveying the Easter message in the face of aggressive secularization. "The tragedy," wrote Christian philosopher Soren Kierkegaard, "is not that Christian truth is never uttered, but that it is uttered in such a way that at last the generality of men attach to it no significance whatever. . . . Now it is spirited and the sign of a deep nature not to believe. . . . Splendid result attained by Christendom!"

Priam

04/11/2001 07:17:18 PM

Part 8 That Christian faith still survives in the hearts and lives of so many, after long years of neglect, derision and attack from self-styled cultural elites, often including the Churches' own leaders, seems truly miraculous. Unless, of course, Jesus Christ really is "the way, the truth and the life." Perhaps the folks who believe Christ died for their sins and rose triumphantly are influenced by something more profound than hopeful delusion, when they declare joyfully on Easter morning that "Christ is risen!" That's what Easter is really about.

pastorgirl

04/11/2001 06:44:52 PM

Obviously, Jesus' resurrection is something that must be taken on faith. Orthodox Christianity has risen & fallen many times in the last 2000 yrs, yet the gospel survived. The Church doesn't need to "saved" by Spong & others by stripping the gospel of everything supernatural. If Christianity is true– if God came to earth to be with us– if Jesus rose from the dead– it is a profound, life-changing miracle that doesn't need a lot of pseudo-intellectuals "fixing" it. If Chrisitanity is false- if Jesus is not the risen God- than the church is already dead. By the way, most ministers read the same books Spong does. They know the history of the canon. The respect scientific evidence. They believe in a real world, governed by scientific laws & principles (including evolution). And they believe that 2000 yrs ago, the Living God broke into that world in a supernatural & miraculous way, to reach a sinner like me.

Narsil

04/11/2001 06:34:03 PM

I kinda wish we could break this into several smaller discussions... If someone does not believe in God, or does not believe that God knows the future and can perform miracles, then there's not much point in arguing with that person about whether Jesus rose from the grave. As a result, the discussion I have with a frank atheist (like Buxton) or... um... "non-Theistic Theist"? (like tarantf and DonJT) is very different from a conversation I might have with someone who believes in, or at least admits the possibility of, a transcendant God but rejects the Resurrection (like obfuscate, and possibly like Presby). And, of course, there are conversations about fine points of Christian doctrine-- the nature of the Resurrected Christ, who can be saved, the precise nature of biblical revelation-- which I should only have with other Christians. Is it time to leave Spong on his own, and break this down into discussion groups?

tmaster1

04/11/2001 06:33:29 PM

And it strikes me as might strange that people find it easier to believe that Jesus came back to life, than to believe what the Bible obvious indicates: that the man *physically survived the crucifixion as an ordinary human being.* He was HUNGRY and he ate. He was FEARFUL, so he hid. In fact, right in the Bible it's *so* clear, because the so-called "angel" [probably just some friend of Jesus'] said, "Why seek ye the living among the dead?" In short, "What are you doing here at this tomb looking for a dead man, when Jesus is alive?"

tmaster1

04/11/2001 06:33:22 PM

In absolute terms, you are correct: neither can be proved: that he *did* rise from the grave, or that he *didn't* rise from the grave. But it's a matter of whether or not someone is willing to believe that dead people come back to life. I am not willing to believe that. Further, I am not willing to believe that dead people need to eat food ["...fish and a honeycomb." I am not willing to believe that dead people talk. I am not willing to believe that dead people physically rise up in their bodies to sit in heaven. But what I *can* believe is that this man--Jesus--who was seen walking around and eating, was alive. [NEXT POST]

Narsil

04/11/2001 06:24:39 PM

tmaster1: 'The fact is that it is simply *not possible* to prove that Jesus "resurrected" in some kind of special, god-body.' Fair enough-- I won't argue that. But Spong says something stronger. He doesn't just say "you *can't* prove that Jesus *did* rise from the grave"-- Spong says, "you *can* prove that Jesus *didn't* rise from the grave". Do you see the difference?

tmaster1

04/11/2001 06:18:58 PM

I've told people for many years now that these "revisionist" preachers & scholars [Spong, Sheehan, Funk] and groups [The Jesus Seminar] ARE NOT "radicals" trying to tear down the Church. They are, in fact, LOYALISTS to the Church who are trying to save it from what they know is an *inevitable* collapse. Through keen study, they have come to understand that Jesus *did not die on the cross*; did not "rise from the dead" (because he never died on the cross); did not ascend into heaven. These people are, in fact, very smart, and are, as I stated, trying to save the Church by salvaging the *basic teachings* of Jesus. They realize that if they *don't*; that if the Church keeps insisting upon holding these false ideas, that Church will lose its membershi--in total. They know the information that appears at The Tomb of Jesus Christ Website [Both Spong and Sheehan, Spong especially]

tmaster1

04/11/2001 06:10:54 PM

The fact is that it is simply *not possible* to prove that Jesus "resurrected" in some kind of special, god-body. It can't be proved at all. It's written in the Bible, but there is NO proof that Jesus was some god-man who died and then came back to life. It also cannot be proved that he is in his body "in heaven," because none of us can get there. So this idea of the resurrection of Jesus in a special body, and his supposed ascension to "heaven," is something that can only be believed by Christians, based on faith--not proof.

Narsil

04/11/2001 05:47:17 PM

Tom Bethel: 'Spong tries to discredit those he disagrees with by ascribing bad motives to them.' DonJT: 'Actually Spong is generously trying to ascribe intelligence to them.' DonJT-- So you're saying that anyone who claims to believe in a literal resurrection is obviously either ignorant, stupid, or lying? And that Spong is being as generous as he can by assuming that they're lying? In that case, let me say this-- we have exactly as much reason to believe, or disbelieve, in miracles as Aquinas, Athanasius, and Augustine had. They all thought miracles occurred. So... were they ignorant, stupid or lying? And if they were "ignorant"-- what fact do we have that they were ignorant of? (Don't say, "The fact that miracles don't happen"-- that's the very point in contention. And don't say "the fact that dead people don't rise"-- they knew that dead people don't rise, without a miracle.)

Narsil

04/11/2001 05:29:18 PM

DonJT writes: "A minister recently told me that "evolution" didn't happen... How did he know this? Because, he said, Darwin was an atheist." Of course, Spong makes the same kind of argument. How does he know there are no miracles? Because the people who believe in miracles are "fundamentalist" or "premodern". Anyway, this isn't an argument about evolution. It's about whether Christ rose from the grave, and whether there's any point in calling oneself a Christian if one doesn't believe He did so. Kalli anastasi!

Narsil

04/11/2001 05:26:18 PM

Presby says: "Narsil, you might be interested to know [the Council of Nicea] is where the Nicene Creed was born." ...is this a joke? Of *course* that's where the Nicene Creed was written. That's why it's called the "Nicene Creed". I knew this. Trust me, nobody's allowed to join the Orthodox Church (aka "The Church of the Seven Councils") without knowing about the Council of Nicea. I don't see the relevance of this, though... My claim stands. The New Testament we have, we were given by an essentially Pauline church. All of the most vaunted modern scholarship dates the Pauline epistles as the oldest parts of the New Testament. The rest, while written by others, was apporved and preserved by a Church which was largely shaped by Paul.

DonJT

04/11/2001 05:21:44 PM

A minister recently told me that "evolution" didn't happen. The Bible tells the true story. How did he know this? Because, he said, Darwin was an athiest. Is that adequate reason to reject evolution for which hard evidence exists and is earily studied by any sentient being? Simply pointing out holes in the data base of the evolutionary process of human development does not invalidate the theory. Pointing to Genesis with claims of "God revealed" fact doesn't make it that. Ancient creation myths are plenifull. That doesn't make them real. Simply ancient peoples way of describing their origins or understanding of their relation with God.

Presby

04/11/2001 05:20:27 PM

The first Council of Nicea met in 325 AD at the behest of Emperor Constantine. At that point a lot of the writings that had been around, The Pentatuch, The synopic Gospels, and other writings were, voted in or out of what was to become the new Christian Bible. Narsil, you might be interested to know this is where the Nicene Creed was born. Constantine is a controversial figure. Perhaps someone with a better grasp of history can fill us in.

DonJT

04/11/2001 05:16:26 PM

Bethel's article puzzle's me - because its the usual, i.e. - Spong is wrong because, well, he's just wrong. "Spong tries to discredit those he disagrees with by ascribing bad motives to them. ...Perhaps, more charitably, he might have allowed that they make such claims because they believe them to be true." Actually Spong is generously trying to ascribe intelligence to them. After all, most clergy deny any validity to the last hundred years of historical, linguistic and archeological research that dates and ascribes authorship to people other than previously supposed. (e.g. James the bro of Jesus did not write the book bearing his name). Why? They cling only to tradition, without accepting any research that challenges that tradition. They seem to prefer superstition (which supports their limited view of history) than scientific observation or historical evidence which do not support their world view. What is that? Ignorance?

DonJT

04/11/2001 05:07:22 PM

Spong has argued, effectively I think, that if you read NT texts in the order in which they were written (or even just take account of for whom they were written) clear patterns of evolving myth are present. Acknowledging this "myth creation" is the first step in getting to the true core of Christian faith.

DonJT

04/11/2001 05:04:07 PM

There were many other epistls and gospels available at the time lists of "acceptable" texts were compiled (in the mid- 2nd to mid 3rd centuries. Politics, desires to create some degree of uniformity of dogma, and efforts to suppress views of fringe groups all influence text selection. It was obviously not "exclusively" divine guidance.

DonJT

04/11/2001 05:01:11 PM

>>everything we know about Jesus, we know through Paul. Paul's followers wrote the Gospels down and preserved them. I don't think that is an accurate statement. It is true that the Gospels were not written by those whose names they bear and were written years later than fundies would like to believe. But not at the instigation or even in conjunction with Paul. Many of them (e.g. ACTS) were later attempts to reconcile Paul's writings and some of the others. But, I recently learned that James, written between 90 and 150 AD (James dies in 62 AD) was called "The Epistle of Straw" by Martin Luther - you know - the ultimate Protestant - because it so blatently conflicts with Paul's teachings.

Presby

04/11/2001 04:09:55 PM

And I'll add anti-semitism to that last post as well.

Presby

04/11/2001 03:57:26 PM

pastorgirl:"maybe because of our infamous history of religious persecution. We are way too defensive." Absolutely. I think down through the centuries, people have used this notion of a personal view of God as too much of a weapon. That's especially true when in western Europe Xtianity got combined with colonialism. All, sorry for the double posts.

Narsil

04/11/2001 03:55:49 PM

Ofuscate says: 'What then are the core components of Christianity that Muslims DON'T follow and where in the Bible does Jesus (Not Paul, Jesus) state them?' According to the Gospels, Jesus claims to be the One who sends prophets (Matt. 23:34) and the One who can forgive sins (Matt. 9:5). In short, he claims to be God. (When Thomas addresses Jesus as "My Lord and my God" (John 20:28), Jesus praises him for saying it.) Moslems don't believe this; to a Moslem, this is blasphemy. I assume Moslems reject those passages as inauthentic? Which brings us to a core problem-- everything we know about Jesus, we know through Paul. Paul's followers wrote the Gospels down and preserved them. If we reject Paul, we know *nothing* about Jesus-- barring some further divine revelation (which, of course, Moslems claim to have).

pastorgirl

04/11/2001 03:42:27 PM

Yep, I agree. Other cultures are so much more comfortable discussing religion than we are. It's always sticky to be able to define the distinctives of one's faith, without seeming intolerant or attacking- maybe because of our infamous history of religious persecution. We are way too defensive.

Presby

04/11/2001 03:36:19 PM

Tarrantf, you are erudite as always. Obfuscate, yes the act of being Christianty promises the experience of God on a personal, individual level. Which is why Jesus came. The individual tries to the best of his ability to have a personal relationship with God (however one defines that) and looks for Jesus (the living God, or the spark of the Divine) in others. Tarantf, I echo your statements about Islam. I wish we did much more communicating across religions than we do.

tarrantf

04/11/2001 03:25:32 PM

Obfuscate, Yes, and now I understand what you are saying, too. One of the reasons I respect Islam so is that it affirms Jesus's importance as a prophet. Islam according to my friends is very accepting of Christians, whereas Christians are not always terrible open to Muslims. I have also observed that Muslims often do a better job of respecting the dignity of every human being. We have much to learn from each other.

obfuscate

04/11/2001 03:18:04 PM

Pastorgirl and Tarrantf, I guess what you both are saying is that you define Christianity to be more than Jesus's Teachings. Correct? Muslims follow Jesus's Teachings. Thus we are followers of Jesus. We are not Christian however.... which was my original point when I responded to DonJT's statement: "Muslims do not follow Christ - period."

pastorgirl

04/11/2001 03:09:20 PM

Well said, tarrantf

tarrantf

04/11/2001 02:58:11 PM

I just saw your correction. My branch of Christianity evolves as human society evolves. We interpret and reinterpret Jesus's teachings and try to understand their meaning in our generation. Jesus is recorded as having said "Come unto me all ye who are weary and heavenladen, and I will refresh you." There is this level of personal identification with Jesus specifically that distinguishes Christianity. Some people call it having a personal relationship with Jesus. I don't think of it in this way, but I understand the model. I strive to "seek and serve Christ in all persons." That is a principal tenet of being an Episcopalian. It is the incarnate, risen Christ that we seek and serve in all people. This is not specifically the same as following Jesus's teachings as recorded in the Bible. Following Jesus includes the much more than simply following his teachings. Our tradition (yes, I do adhere to some of it but not dogmatically) tells us that it is much, much more.

tarrantf

04/11/2001 02:50:34 PM

At our Baptisms we affirm (or our parents affirm on our behalf) that we accept Jesus as our personal savior. Do Muslims do this? I think not. (This is in the Episcopal Book of Common Prayer, and it is consistent with most Protestant theology--it is perhaps the most Protestant aspect of our dual identity as both catholic and Protestant). Now, before I get jumped upon by most everyone else, please note that I did not define what personal savior means. Although it is different for all of us, it is an essential of what I understand as Christian faith. Having faith in the transforming power of Jesus in our lives (faith, not intellectual "belief" in something being 100 percent historically true) is something that distinguishes Christianity from Islam.

obfuscate

04/11/2001 02:39:58 PM

In my last email, I misspoke.... the first sentence should actually say "What then are the core components of Jesus's Teachings....."

obfuscate

04/11/2001 02:35:40 PM

Tarrantf, What then are the core components of Christianity that Muslims DON'T follow and where in the Bible does Jesus (Not Paul, Jesus) state them? Please be precise. Many Muslims will tell you specifically that they follow Jesus along with Abraham, Isaac, Ismael, Moses, etc... And of course Muhammad. This is pretty basic stuff of Islam.

tarrantf

04/11/2001 02:28:24 PM

Obfuscate, You're the first Muslim I've ever heard say specifically that you follow Jesus. Fasting, prostration, circumcision, etc. are all superficial components to Christianity. That all Muslims do this as did Jesus has nothing whatsoever to do with Christianity.

obfuscate

04/11/2001 02:05:28 PM

Narsil, I couldn't agree with you more. I was unaware of the prostrating done in Eastern Orthodox Christianity. Thanks

obfuscate

04/11/2001 02:03:28 PM

PastorGirl, I don't know why Paul would have gone to his death for no good reason. He may well have believed what he was writing.... No matter, the fact that he went to his death for his beliefs doesn't prove his beliefs to be Valid. Many people around the world willingly die for their cause. I'm sure they all believe their cause. Doesn't make the cause valid. for Example, Thousands of Confedarate soldiers died in the Civil war for their cause. Thus we can assume they believed that Slavery was right. I'm sure they did. Does this mean that slavery was right?

obfuscate

04/11/2001 01:58:53 PM

...cont'd Granted, he probably is not speaking in Literal terms. And It may be that you are right on this point (circumcision) and I am wrong. However, how can you say there is no radical departure by Paul? He abrogated the Mosaic Laws which Jesus emphatically reinforced in Mathew 5:18-19: “I tell you the truth, until heaven and earth disappear, not the smallest letter, not the least stroke of a pen, will by any means disappear from the Law until everything is accomplished. Anyone who breaks one of the least of these commandments and teaches others to do the same will be called least in the kingdom of heaven, but whoever practices and teaches these commands will be called great in the kingdom of heaven.” For Greeting, Luke 24:36, John 20:19, John 20:26

obfuscate

04/11/2001 01:58:42 PM

Pastorgirl, All the statements from the NT are to be found in the Gospels. I don’t have my marked up Bible with me right now so I cannot give you all the verses. For Circumcision, Paul said in Galatians 5:11-12: “Brothers, if I am still preaching circumcision, why am I still being persecuted? In that case the offense of the cross has been abolished. As for those agitators, I wish they would go the whole way and emasculate themselves!” ...cont'd

Narsil

04/11/2001 01:57:10 PM

obfuscate-- While I don't agree with all your points, I think you've confirmed something I've said-- namely, that it isn't useful to define Christian as "someone who follows Jesus", because a Moslem will say that he, too, follows Jesus (and follows Jesus better than the Christians do). Which is why I think a good definition of "Christian" is someone who believes in the Incarnation and the Resurrection, or maybe someone who professes the Nicene Creed (and does it honestly). BTW-- some Christians do fast and prostate ourselves. (Eastern Orthodox do, including a lot of Arab Christians.) But we don't regard this as central to our faith...

Presby

04/11/2001 01:51:13 PM

Presby History continued... If anyone is interested, check out: http://www.pcusa.org/101/101-history.htm.

Presby

04/11/2001 01:35:03 PM

JimboBillyBob:"It's nice to know your community is full of divergent views. I know a fellow who grew up Scotch Presbyterian, and he says Original Sin goes back a long way." LOL! No 2 presbies think alike! 10 different people? 10 different views of God. Not sure what you mean by "Scotch" Presbyterian. All Pesbyterian heritage is Scottish. It refers to a democratic form of church government rather than a sect-specific theology. Though, Presby-ism in general subscribes to most of the standard Xtain stuff there is extremely wide variance in individual interpretation of beliefs.

pastorgirl

04/11/2001 01:26:15 PM

obfuscate– I'd give you a pt by pt rebuttal, but I can't. I consider myself pretty well versed in NT, but I can't find most of your "the NT says..." statements. The few I can find out are wrong. ex: Paul never prohibitted circumsicion. He was circumsized & had Timothy circumcized. He just said it's not necessary for salvation. Please provide verse references. The theory that Paul started something totally different than what Jesus taught is an old theory, but it doesn't hold water. Read the gospels, then read Paul– you'll find no radical departure. As I mentioned in previous post, Paul turned his whole life around, endured lifelong suffering & death for the faith he preached. Why would he die for a lie? Lots of good, caring, ethical people (Muslims included) follow the teachings of Jesus. What we're talking about is a life that has been transformed by a powerful relationship with the living & risen Christ.

obfuscate

04/11/2001 01:26:09 PM

...cont'd You will find much in the NT that Muslims will take exception to (Original Inherited Sin, Trinity, etc.). However, you will find that these are not Jesus's own teachings but the words of Paul. And as I stated earlier, the Words of Paul (who came years later) Contradict the Actions of Jesus Christ. We follow Jesus (a prophet of God)rather than Paul (an early Church Father). Additionally, there is much scholarly debate on the authenticity and veracity of the Bible that is available to us today. As Muslims, we believe that the Bible available today is adulterated over the years (Constantine, King James). So even the Bible (that is available today) cannot be trusted 100% to be accurate on Jesus's Teachings. The Quran has been preserved 100% intact from the begenning and it can be demonstrated that it is the EXACT same as it was a few decades after Prophet Muhammad (an Ancient Quran exists in a Turkish Museum I believe) that is identical to the one available today. So we trust the Quran.

obfuscate

04/11/2001 01:25:48 PM

tarrantf: You said "That Jesus's Jewish traditions and outward rituals overlap some of the teachings of Muhammed does not mean that Muslims follow Jesus." I am a practicing Muslim so I will give you my perspective. As I already have... As Muslims, we believe in a succession of Prophets Guided by God. These prophets include Abraham, Isaac, Ismael, David, Moses, Jesus, Solomon and many others which are found in the Bible and some not found in the Bible. We believe that Prophet Muhammad was the last Prophet. We believe that in ESSENCE, each one of the Prophets taught the SAME message: I.E: Submission to ONE God only, righteousness, justice, etc. You assert that Muslims don't follow Jesus but you have not quoted any NT verse which you can point to in which Jesus said something that Muslims will refute. So I'm a little mystified at your unsupported assertion. ... cont'd

tarrantf

04/11/2001 12:58:22 PM

I have a number of Muslim friends who revere Jesus but follow Muhammed. Islam affirms Jesus as a great prophet, but its religious life is based in the Qu'ran, not the Christian New Testament. There are many similarities in the two religions, and the ritual practices between Judism and Islam have many similarities. That Jesus's Jewish traditions and outward rituals overlap some of the teachings of Muhammed does not mean that Muslims follow Jesus. Perhaps we can encourage a practicing Muslim to give us a Muslim perspective.

obfuscate

04/11/2001 12:39:30 PM

... cont'd According to the NT Jesus performed ritual washing before prayer - Muslims perform ritual washing before prayer - Christians don't. According to the NT Jesus greeted people with the words "Peace on You" - Muslims greet each other with this greeting - Christians don't. According to Jewish Custom of the time Jesus was circumcised - Muslim Males are circumcised - Paul prohibits circumcision in the Epistles. According to Jewish Custom of the time Jesus observed Mosaic Dietary laws - Muslims observe some similar laws - Christians don't.... because Paul claimed these laws were abrogated. (Acts 13:38 – 39) For these reasons it is at best intellectually dishonest to say that Muslims don't follow Jesus. At worst a lie. Muslims DO follow Jesus. Muslims just don't follow Paul. Christians follow Paul instead of Jesus (Paul abrogated the Mosaic laws which Jesus steadfastly observed). If you wish to respond, please give a point-by-point rebuttal to each of the above statements.

obfuscate

04/11/2001 12:38:59 PM

DonJT: You said: "Well now you obviously didn't bother reading what I wrote - I never denied Muslim beliefs, but Muslims do not follow Christ - period." This is Patently untrue and you should know better: According to the NT Jesus tells his followers to fast - In Islam Fasting is Mandatory - Most Christians don't Fast According to the NT Jesus tells his followers to stay away from excessive interest - In Islam Interest is prohibited - Christians accept interest According to the NT Jesus prostrated his head to the ground during prayer - Muslims Prostrate during prayer - Christians don't. cont'd...

JimboBillyBob

04/11/2001 12:14:58 PM

Garynamy: As I've stated, I don't know what happened in the First Century AD, because I wasn't there. Could God raise someone up from the dead, body and soul? I have no doubt that he could. But would he? I'm not so certain my faith is compromised if it did not happen. The story of Jesus is one of redemption, of death and rebirth. I can tell you in my own life's experience, the old person died a few years ago, and God raised up a new one, someone I always wanted to be, but couldn't by my own devices. Miracles happen, but for me, they happen internally, and those are more profound and meaningful than the Gospel account. It means God is alive and well, and I am a part of his creation.

JimboBillyBob

04/11/2001 12:14:39 PM

Tarrantf: Thanks for the invite. Quite a fascinating and lively group there. I like to be associated with a group of seekers. Seeking God is a job that is never done. Presby: Thanks for the kind words. It's nice to know your community is full of divergent views. I know a fellow who grew up Scotch Presbyterian, and he says Original Sin goes back a long way.

garynamy

04/11/2001 11:01:46 AM

What a great thread! I have several observations and questions. First, Jimbo, I also grew up RC, I also left the church (any church) for a while, and I am also attending an Episcopal church. If the Episcopal church is dying, no one has told us! Sunday school classes are full to bursting; we have three Sunday Euchararists that are standing-room only, and we're considering adding a fourth. My parish is active in feeding the hungry, parish suppers, softball leagues, etc., etc. We're doing just fine, thanks. The other major issue here is pretty simple: did Jesus literally die and literally rise from the dead on the third day. (Can there be a more central question during Holy Week?) It's very, very hard for modern people to swallow, but my answer has to be yes. It's the cornerstone of my faith; it's in the Apostle's and Nicene creeds; I think to be Christian, you have to accept it. Faith ain't easy, is it?

tarrantf

04/11/2001 10:52:15 AM

JimboBillyBob, Boris, or anyone else of our "ilk", Have you visited the Anglican/Episcopal Boards yet? Come hang out with us.

JimboBillyBob

04/11/2001 10:30:25 AM

Boris: I agree totally with what you say about the Episcopal church. I speak as someone who grew up a devout Roman Catholic, then put my faith aside for a number of years. I've found the Episcopal Church lets me worship with my mind while Roman Catholocism limited my scope. What I find interesting is Bishop Spong says the very same things about the Bible I've heard Catholic scholars say. The difference is Catholics don't tend to say things like "God didn't create the world in six days" or "The Nativity Story didn't happen the way the Gospels say" from the pulpit. Spong not only says it openly, but suggests it's time for Christian scholars to be honest about things. I agree. Stop treating me like a chile, and trust me to have faith.

tarrantf

04/11/2001 10:23:14 AM

As I stated previously, I'm accustomed to being called a false Christian. Despite what a few disgruntled traditionalist or former Episcopalians say about the Church, it is alive and well as those of us committed on the inside understand very well. The dire predictions of made by those on the outside are incorrect. We shall continue ministering with or without the blessing or cooperation of our fellow Christians. Come on over: We're a great place for those who don't always fit in. By the way, Spong is retired now, and we don't bite.

boristspider

04/11/2001 09:49:52 AM

Foust77 - Your parsing and quoting of random biblical passages is a sign of your weak faith. You elevate the letter of the Bible over Christ's message. The Bible is complicated. Paul is complicated. Spend some more time learning about the word's history and the context in which it was written before you try to wield it like a weapon. You are like a child trying to handle a sword that is too heavy. You're more likely to hurt yourself than an opponent. Lastly, allow me to pass judgment on your faith as you have done for so many others on this site. You do not know God. You have too much anger and self righteousness to know God. You run around saying Lord! Lord! without following Christ's commandments. You are the servant who was given a talent and wasted it. You have obviously read the gospel and have a sound knowledge of the words, but you have missed the message. Boris

boristspider

04/11/2001 09:49:33 AM

Foust77- Allow me to indulge in your favorite pastime, judging other people's faith. I'll start with yours. Whether or not any doctrine that I, Tarrant77 or any other person of faith chooses to follow is right, wrong or has a "biblical leg to stand on" is probably more complex than can be expressed in a 1024 character post on B'net. The fact that you do not realize this indicates your immaturity. Boris cont'd on next post

JimboBillyBob

04/11/2001 07:18:54 AM

I'm not sure I agree with the posters who say the Episcopal Church is destined to become a splinter group in the Christian community. Where I live, the Episcopal Churches are growing by leaps and bounds. They are inclusive toward women and gays. Not everyone in the congregations agree with them, but the churches are drawing Roman Catholics and protestants alike. I profess to be a Christian, but not because I fit into someone's ecclesiastical box. I have put the teachings of Jesus to use in my daily life, and I get very positive results. Furthermore, I don't have a problem regarding members of the Buddhist or Hindu faith as Christians if they too follow Jesus' teachings. Who am I to say they're not? I don't believe I have to reject Christianity to accept Buddhism. For me, the realm of the spirit is broad, roomy, and inclusive, never exclusive.

Foust77

04/10/2001 10:48:17 PM

Part 2 tarrantf: "I believe fervently in one Creator God, an impersonal 'Other'..." * You realize this idea is totally at odds with the entire Bible, right? There isn't even a verse you can twist into supporting an impersonal God. ----- "Yes, he was raised triumphantly by God into a new existence, into an inextinguishable mystical presence within the Body of Christ." * I'd just like to say, my God can beat your god up. Mine can raise dead bodies, divide seas, heal sickness, provide food for an entire nation for 40 years. Yours can... well, he can stand there and be all mystical. ---- DonJT: "Getting defensive about your faith?" * I think we're all above such comments. They can't be rebutted, because if Priam says "no, I'm not defensive" then he's being defensive.

Foust77

04/10/2001 10:42:55 PM

Part 1 Presby said: "My concept of H*** is probably different from yours. I don't believe it to be some form of parallel, perverse Heaven. For me, it's more a state of being)" * Ah. So you disagree with Luke 16:23 & Revelation 20:15, both of which clearly portray hell as a supernatural place of torment some enter after life? Oh wait, I forgot. Anything in the Bible that disagrees with you can be discounted as unreliable or as a myth. boristspider said: "You are not alone in your progressive, ecumenical view of Christianity." * Perhaps not alone, but completly without a biblical leg to stand on.

Priam

04/10/2001 10:15:29 PM

Thanks for clarifying your beliefs tarrantf. However, for the Catholic/Orthodox believer, we do believe in a sentient omnipotent God, and that Jesus Christ is the word made flesh, that he was born of a virgin and rose from the dead on the third day. Compared to the beliefs that you stated, we are not even on the same page and no common ground can be found. I am not a member of the ECUSA, but even I am aware of the exodus of parishes from the ECUSA. I also know of families who have left (in one family the parents went Orthodox and the children became Catholic). Everyone is entitled to their beliefs, but I agree with Narsil in that the ECUSA will shrink to a small not unlike the UCC, JW, and Mormons, who claim to be Christians but aren't.

Narsil

04/10/2001 08:47:39 PM

tarantf writes: 'It takes a particular personality type to be able to say the Nicene Creed every week with integrity, and yet not commit the sin of hypocrisy by not "believing" every word as literal, historical fact.' May I paraphrase? 'It takes a certain kind of person to stand up in Church and solemnly say "I believe in A, B, C..." when he really doesn't believe anything of the kind.' May I further paraphrase? 'Not everyone is a bare-faced liar.' Shorter, but I think we can agree I preserved the essentials of your statement.

pastorgirl

04/10/2001 08:21:14 PM

We can't prove the resurrection, but one of the strongest evidences that point to the historical truth is the life of Paul. What could make a man whose entire life's work was directed toward one end (the destruction of the Christian church) make a complete 180 and endure beatings, imprisonment, and finally death? If the biblical resurrection story is nothing but a myth or "urban legend", why did so many 1st century Christians (including Paul, Peter, and most of the apostles) die for proclaiming the truth of the resurrection? I have often wondered if I would have the courage to die for my faith. But I know for sure I would not die for a lie! Millions of Christians around the world today believe in the truth of the resurrection for the exact same reason Paul did: because they experienced an encounter with the living Christ, and their lives will never be the same again. He changed my life– and he is with me still.

Narsil

04/10/2001 07:53:08 PM

sawyersa says: "Pray for the orthodox Episcopalians out there saddled with this heretic bishop." Well, there aren't any people under his episcopacy now, though there are other bishops just as radical if somewhat quieter... There's already a bit of a rush for the exits in the ECUSA. Many people are moving to "continuing" Anglican churches, others are going to faithful Protestant communities (if they're "low-church") or becoming Catholic or Eastern Orthodox (if they're "high-church"). Frederica Mathewes-Green, for example, used to be Episcopalian (her husband was a priest); a few years back, they left the ECUSA for the Orthodox Church. Once the process completes, the rest of us can file the ECUSA right next to the UCC and the Mormons as "odd groups which claim to be Christian but aren't". Which will be a shame-- the church of C.S. Lewis and Dorothy Sayers (among many, many others) deserves better-- but if it happens, it happens. Jah reigns.

sawyersa

04/10/2001 06:20:04 PM

(Continued, ending here) All these people going to such lengths to construct a co-opted post-modern Christianity. The one we have will weather post-modernity quite well, thank you. Pray for the orthodox Episcopalians out there saddled with this heretic bishop.

sawyersa

04/10/2001 06:19:54 PM

(Continued) 2) Spong weaves a zero-evidence just so story about why the Gospels might have turned out the way they did. Since no one has any evidence of exactly what the early church believed, there are infinite other stories which could be presented to counter Spong's, also with zero evidence. None of them are very interesting, in terms of figuring out the resurrection, because none of them can be verified. What we are left with is this: the early Church accepted and made canonical the Gospels we have, despite "contradictions" which they also must have seen. The Church has always taught that those Gospels are inspired, and are the document of our faith. To use them antagonistically against each other with a reductive "only-if-you-prove-it-with-science" model of truth is not the practice of the Christian Church.

sawyersa

04/10/2001 06:19:31 PM

Two questions for the board (and Spong, I suppose): 1) Spong seems to want a resurrection and a Christianity largely without reference to the supernatural (i.e., that which stands above nature, and, necessarily, the laws thereof). Why bother? Who would care? Christianity is and always has been supernatural. If you want it to be otherwise, you want it to be something other than Christianity.

DonJT

04/10/2001 06:05:08 PM

>>By the term Orthodox Christians, I am including Roman Catholics, eastern Orthodox, and believing Protestants. As opposed to unbelieving Protestants? What a load!

DonJT

04/10/2001 06:03:02 PM

>>Muslims do indeed hold Jesus Christ as one of their holy prophets. Well now you obviously didn't bother reading what I wrote - I never denied Muslim beliefs, but Muslims do not follow Christ - period. They consider the very idea a form of heresy and think og the "triune" God concept to be somewhat plasphemous. I simply said Christian fallow Christ. That's "Spouting off"? >>And for the reasons I explained, they come closer to the Christian family ... Uh, that was an explanation? It looked more like an angry assertion. Getting defensive about your faith?

tarrantf

04/10/2001 05:54:44 PM

(part 4) From my insider perspective, I think the key reason the Episcopal Church is so small is not because people like Spong are pushing the faithful out, but rather that we are facing tremendous changes as we struggle together to reinterpret some of the traditional Christian mysteries for a post-modern age. It takes a particular personality type to be able to say the Nicene Creed every week with integrity, and yet not commit the sin of hypocrisy by not "believing" every word as literal, historical fact. Lots of people (probably most Christians) are uncomfortable with this ethos. Yet it is a place where people such as I and John Spong find the risen Christ. I am very comfortable with ambiguity; I look for the meaning beyond the words. I can therefore speak those words and believe that God is, that Jesus is risen, and that Holy Spirit permeates my life, and that the dead will be somehow raised into God's existence. (this is the end--really!)

tarrantf

04/10/2001 05:54:14 PM

(part 3) As with my friend, DonJT, I see little real importance in the literal meaning of the supernatural events as recorded in the Bible. I see them as stories that express the deep meaning of Jesus and his ministry. The early Christian community attested to Jesus's power and risen presence in their lives. I experience and know the risen Christ in my parish community and in the larger Body of Christ, the Church. I experience the risen Christ on many of the B'net boards. I understand profoundly the idea that when two or more are gathered in the name of Christ, that Christ is present. I cannot deny this mystery, nor do I want to. Yet I do not affirm a physical resuscitation of Jesus's corpse because for me, resurrection transcends our corporeal life. (end part 3)

tarrantf

04/10/2001 05:53:55 PM

(part 2) That said, I see the Virgin birth and resuscitation story of Easter as a mythical telling of the significance of Jesus's ministry and godly nature. I don't specifically deny them as literal history, but I find greater meaning in the mythical understanding the biblical writers wished to convey about Jesus. Yes, he was raised triumphantly by God into a new existence, into an inextinguishable mystical presence within the Body of Christ. Yes, many of those early Christians died as martyrs because of that reality. (end part 2)

tarrantf

04/10/2001 05:53:27 PM

Yes, Priam. I believe fervently in one Creator God, an impersonal "Other" that is, as Paul Tillich described (as does Spong) the Ground of Being. I also believe that Jesus was the embodied essence of God, not in a supernatural sense but in a mystical sense. Holy Spirit (note my lack of "The") permeates all existence: We breathe Holy Spirit in and out; we are bathed in it. There is a palpable, divine presence all around us and in us, waiting for us to recognize so that we might revel and romp. (end part 1)

boristspider

04/10/2001 05:52:38 PM

tarrantf - You are not alone in your progressive, ecumenical view of Christianity. Don't be bashful, it in no way makes you a "false Christian." Read "The Good Book" by Peter Gomes, and if you have the time you might also appreciate some of the works of Hans Kung. I have taken the same path as you, and although I think it is the most demanding path to follow, the reward is that it brings me closer to God than I ever though possible.

Priam

04/10/2001 04:51:56 PM

True, Spong did a lot of good work in the civil rights movement, and for other noble causes. However, his ideas are long dated. He rejects the fundamental Christian beliefs and all the notion of an all powerful religion (and mysterious) and instead replaces it with his shallow humanism based on his limited scientific knowledge. What he tears down, he cannot build up. He is a fundamentalist, a liberal fundamentalist. And with all fundamentalists, his ideas are simplistic and predictable. I read earlier that Spong best personifies the prodigal son. I think he best fits this description and I would love to see him some day return home.

Priam

04/10/2001 04:51:47 PM

tarrantf, I agree that we all are on the same path searching for the truth. Along the way we all may trip or fall, and come to hard test. Faith is just that faith and it is normal to come to moments of doubt and struggle. I truly believe in the saying "Seek and ye shall find". With it "God remains hidden except to those who genuinely seek him" and "that the path is narrow that leads to salvation". Our paths and journeys to the same end are different for each individual. I do believe in the Orthodox Christianity and with it fundamentally God, a virgin birth, and resurrection. From what I read of your posts, you aspire to this as well.

tarrantf

04/10/2001 03:51:28 PM

I just noticed that I mistakenly addressed my previous message to Narsil. I meant to be addressing Priam on the issue of traditional orthodoxy. Sorry for the confusion.

Priam

04/10/2001 03:16:56 PM

DonJT, angry rhants like that are will not be considered a rebuttal. However, thanks for reinforcing what I wrote regarding what your disbeliefs are. Also, before spouting off you should at least educate yourself. Muslims do indeed hold Jesus Christ as one of their holy prophets. And for the reasons I explained, they come closer to the Christian family then Spong and his followers. Presby, I am not eastern Orthodox either. I am Roman Catholic. By the term Orthodox Christians, I am including Roman Catholics, eastern Orthodox, and believing Protestants. Am I absolutist? I would say not. I try to be humble with myself and subissive to God. I don't try and put myself at the level of God where I claim to know all. However, Spong is an absolutist. He can best be described as a liberal fundamentalist. Like all fundamentalists, his mind is own stuck in own way of thinking and he is not open and hostile to others who do not share his beliefs.

DonJT

04/10/2001 02:59:36 PM

>>Lets look at it this way, Muslims highly regard Jesus Christ as a holy prophet. Yet they do not believe he is the son of God. ...Spong and those whose beliefs are the same as his are further from Christianity then Muslims are. That's just plain BS and shows how judgemental you are. Muslims do not follow the teaching of Christ. Christians do. >>I do not mean to be insulting, Oh yes you do.

DonJT

04/10/2001 02:56:36 PM

>>These guys believe: Wrong - you believe this so you can be smug in your dismissive tone. >>no omnipotent being called God. God is not the long white bearded guy in the sky looking down on us - God ain't Santa Claus. >>no virgin birth. I believe that virgin birth is possible - biologically. I don't think the story of Jesus birth was meant to be taken literally. And I don't see such a miracle as being necessary for me to follow Jesus. >>no resurrection. It was spiritual into the Body of Christ - the Church - not into a resucitated body. >>- These beliefs are from the pre-scientific dark ages. That's a statement of fact, not belief. The issue is modern understanding of scripture. >>nothing divine about Jesus. Nobody said that. The issue is what does "divine" mean. The Bible weighs in ambiguously on this issue and you are blind to that. Jesus is the "son of man" many more times than the "son of God" and only occassionally as "God."

tarrantf

04/10/2001 02:25:58 PM

Narsil, I understand what you are saying now. I agree with you that I do not cling to Orthodox Christianity. That is why I am an Episcopalian. As a non-Orthodox Christian, I am open to an evolution of the Church. As with you, I keep searching for Truth, but I don't think the traditional Church is the only source for it. The Church is the path through which I approach ultimate Truth. This is paradoxical, and it probably sounds hypocritical to an Orthodox Christian, but it is my path. I'll keep calling you a Christian brother/sister, whether or not you recognize me as your Christian brother. I'm used to being called a false Christian.

Presby

04/10/2001 02:22:21 PM

Narsil:"well, we don't really know where we'll wind up, do we?" No of course not. In Presby-speak this is the concept of predestination. But I do not think of this as some kind of Almighty Russian Roulette. My concept of H*** is probably different from yours. I don't believe it to be some form of parallel, perverse Heaven. For me, it's more a state of being (addiction, for example), consequences of bad choices or even mental illness. Things that can keep you from seeing God. I would add Priam, that I am not Orthodox. I am fairly typically Reformed Protestant, if more on the liberal end of things. I don't share your absolutest, either/or thinking about theology. Saying that I am "liberal" does't mean I love God or Jesus any less. Or that you have a right to beef up your own beliefs at my expense. No one can know what is in another's heart except God.

Narsil

04/10/2001 02:01:49 PM

Presby writes: 'Yes, I can live with the fact that we may describe "christian" differently. But we all wind up in the same place.' ...well, we don't really know where we'll wind up, do we? There are two places we could wind up. One of them is a whole lot better than the other. I don't know where I'll be, and I don't know where you'll be. Which, to my mind, is a reason to keep trying to figure out what is really *true*, and not just to say "I'm okay, you're okay".

Priam

04/10/2001 01:48:04 PM

tarrantf, you are free to call yourselves whatever you may wish. It is devious to call Spong a Christian in that he publicly denounces God and the divinity of Christ. Given that, he does not denounce the teaching of Christ but his divine role. Lets look at it this way, Muslims highly regard Jesus Christ as a holy prophet. Yet they do not believe he is the son of God. On the other hand they devoutly worship God the creator. Yet you would never refer to a Muslim (nor would they refer to themselves) as Christian. Spong and those whose beliefs are the same as his are further from Christianity then Muslims are. I do not mean to be insulting, and you are free to believe whatever you like. But definition of Christian you have is not the same as what the classical definition would describe. The Christianity that Orthodox Christians such as myself adhere to.

Presby

04/10/2001 01:27:23 PM

Narsil, thanks for your editorial corrections. Yes, I can live with the fact that we may describe "cristian" differently. But we all wind up in the same place. Buxton, I think you're a bit out there, even for this crowd. Priam, you are presumptuous.

tarrantf

04/10/2001 12:52:30 PM

Priam, To whom you are refering when you say "these guys?" Are you saying it is "devious" for me, and Don and Presby to identify ourselves as Christians?

Priam

04/10/2001 11:53:28 AM

In respect these guys do love the institution of the church. They accept the goodness/morals of the teachings and they would like to see it go on. However, they reject the core Christian beliefs. In God, the virgin birth, and the resurrection. They would like to do away with the mystical and divine, and keep it only as an charitable organization. That is why unlike other agnostics/athiests they simply do not leave the church. Although they agree with Jesus's teachings, as they do not believe in God and thus Jesus's divinity, it is missleading for them to call themselves Christians. Even devious. We all are not perfect and can struggle with faith. However, we aspire to know God. We as Christians, accept our weaknesses and humble ourselves.

Priam

04/10/2001 11:46:07 AM

As someone earlier pointed out there were a lot of other good people in the past. What differentiates Jesus from these people? The Christian believes that he is the son of God. That the word became flesh so a new covenant can be offered to the world. Miracles? We do believe in the virgin birth and the resurrection. Not a small stretch if you believe in an omnipotent God which created the universe (which they say they don't believe in). Previous posts have explained that there is much evidence and witnesses to prove this. And sacrifice for early believers (I don't think the early disciples would have willingly accepted death if not for God). Again, these agnostics say there is no proof in that it was long ago. Just an example of arranging things to believe what they want to.

Priam

04/10/2001 11:39:30 AM

Just coming in and looking over the posts. Foust77, lets break it down. These guys believe: -There is no omnipotent being called God. God is only the highest natural order one can approach. - There was no virgin birth. Physically impossible. - There was no resurrection. Again, phsyically impossible. - These beliefs are from the pre-scientific dark ages. - There is nothing divine about Jesus. Although they respect him as a just humanist. Perhaps as a model for all humanists to aspire to. These beliefs are not mine but you see how weak they are. They call themselves Christian in that they believe in the teachings of Jesus Christ. Then again so did Ghandi and he was a Hindu.

Foust77

04/10/2001 11:27:40 AM

"I am a Christian because I say I am, and I will not have you to tell me I can't take on a title I believe to be true. I think the same should go for Spong or anyone else who choses to call themselves a Christian..." Oh really. It's not up to me, but consider... Matthew 7:21 - "Not everyone who says to me, 'Lord, Lord' will enter the Kingdom of heaven, but only he who does the will of my Father in heaven." You can't just slap the moniker "christian" on yourself and suddenly become one.

Buxton

04/10/2001 10:14:48 AM

tarrantf, you don't have to buy a word I say. Funny, then you also do not have a real understanding of the Episcopal church because we say the exact same thing. Think about it. Peace.

tarrantf

04/10/2001 10:09:23 AM

Buxton, I don't buy a word of what you say. You obviously have no real understanding of the Episcopal Church or you would not say the things you say. The accusation stands.

tarrantf

04/10/2001 09:38:34 AM

Narsil, Way down on this page you wrote in response to my definition of Christian: "That'd still be awfully broad. It would include, for example, Moslems (who think Jesus "saved" people by bringing a revelation to them), as well as Jehovah's Witnesses, Unification Church types, and some Hindus (don't many Hindus believe Jesus was an avatar of Vishnu?)." Many different people revere Jesus as a great leader, but they do not claim his as lord and savior. I suspect that you and I do not define "lord" or "savior" in the exactly the same way. Must we define them the same to be fellow Christians?

Buxton

04/10/2001 09:20:15 AM

tarrantf, I do not appreciate your accusations. For the most part, I agree with everything you have to say. I am a staunch Episcopalian and a great admirer of our most beloved Bishop Spong. I post here for I like our views to be known. For the most part, our church has done away with the Nicene creed, I thought this was the same for most parishes. It is only a matter of time before this will be the norm for all Episcopalian parishes. For you and the others, your forgiven, this time.

DonJT

04/10/2001 09:18:57 AM

>>paul writes often abt resurrection life, and colossians 2:12 says God raised Him from the dead. Are these verses meant to be literal or figurative? In my opinion, - they are spiritual - somewhere beyond literal but not simply figurative. Paul wrote of meeting Christ as in a dream in heaven and also wrote his experience was the same as the pillars and the others. Paul also wrote that the emerging Christian chruch is "The Body of Christ" To me, these are clear indications that no matter what later writers added to the growing myth, Jesus resurrection was seen as a deeply spiritual effect on his followers, that in a real way his spirit (or the Holy Spirit sent after him) filled them with passion for their faith and they then lived the legacy that Jesus wanted for them.

DonJT

04/10/2001 09:11:35 AM

>>...and I have as yet to see anybody post a response to Bishop Spong's *actual* thesis. ...So far, it's just been "He's a Liar!" "He's an atheist!" "Why is he a Bishop?" And not likely you will. I read the book supposedly countering Spong - It's called "Can A Bishop Be Wrong" and is a compilation of essay by many of Spong's most outspoken critics. Guess what? They attack Spong. They call him "shrill" and heretic and all sort of name. To them, the Bible is right, well, just because that's what they always believed. And Spong is wrong, just because he's... Spong.

cathedral

04/10/2001 04:08:04 AM

paul writes often abt resurrection life, and colossians 2:12 says God raised Him from the dead. Are these verses meant to be literal or figurative? i feel the argument that paul was unaware of the resurrection or was using it as a parable about spiritual rejuvenation is unsound. wat do you guys think?

Narsil

04/10/2001 02:27:12 AM

darnay2: I provided my definition of the word "Christian". Would you be good enough to return the favor, by defining "fundie"? "A re-animated corpse is a worthless foundation for a faith." ...apparently, you don't know much about what Christians believe. Would you like me to recommend some books for you?

darnay2

04/10/2001 02:15:14 AM

I turn to those who demand that Spong give up the title of Christian. You show your true colors when you are presumptuous enough to decide that Spong is not a Christian. i am a Christian because I say I am, and I will not have you to tell me I can't take on a title I believe to be true. I think the same should go for Spong or anyone else who choses to call themselves a Christian, and yet shuns the deliberate ignorance you would impose on all as a prerequisite for joining the faith. truth is ultimately measured in the crucible of personal experience, not in some rule book, not by a tribunal, and not by divine vengance. A re-animated corpse is a worthless foundation for a faith. A lesson in how to live without fear is an extremely powerful one. The former comes from the fundies. The latter comes from common sense and personal experience. Remember, Christ said that the Kingdom of God is within. I echo Presby....deal with it!

darnay2

04/10/2001 01:50:48 AM

cont'd So how does this relate to Spong's thesis? Well in most of Spong's writings (in and out of his beliefnet columns) Spong advocates a hearing of scientific evidence that the bad things in the owrld occur because that is how nature works, not as some sort of divine punishment. eastern Religions got this 500 + years before Christ was born, why are we Christians so slow? because we are stubborn and insecure. We have a religion that does not teach us harmony, but vengance. the resurrection myth has no meaning if taken literally. Death is not something to be conqured. I think christ was not trying to show is that death was a war to be won, but rather a natural part of life. The power of the resurrection myth is as a statement that the world is NOT based on divine vengance, but on a cyclical pattern of constant death and rebirth. Therefore our fears about death (which fundies have in spades) are unfounded.

darnay2

04/10/2001 01:45:07 AM

cont'd christian funie-ism is an addictive thing. It is a highly emotoional game we play to make us feel better about the world. We are under suspicion that all of our misery must be because we are bad, and we have manipulated an entire religion into giving ourselves relief, in the form of God's so called "forgiveness" without actually getting rid of the idea of a vengeful God. Just becuase some authors a few centuries ago decided that all the pain in the world is some sort of divine punishment, we are now left with a legacy of believeing in fairy tales.

darnay2

04/10/2001 01:41:17 AM

Thank you Presby! i was feeling a little sucked into the whilwind there. I'm glad to hear your voice on this discussion! In response to Spong's thesis.. I am wondering what is so special about believing in a physical resurrection? What meaning does the bodily revival and ascention mean to me? It means that God created a universe of natural laws, and then broke several of them to prove some kind of point. But about what?

Narsil

04/10/2001 12:15:52 AM

Presby writes, "...I have as yet to see anybody post a response to Bishop Spong's *actual* thesis." Well, that's because Spong's posts are on the topic, "Given that we know God does not perform miracles, what are we to make of the Easter story?" A doctrinaire Christian can only respond by attacking his premise ("God does not perform miracles")-- or by remaining silent, which is probably the better approach. So if anyone's going to speak to Spong's thesis, it'll have to be a liberal Christian or a plain non-Christian. Go get 'em.

Narsil

04/10/2001 12:13:04 AM

Correction: I wrote 'If "Christian" means "someone who follows Jesus", I can't call *anyone* a Christian, including myself-- how can I judge what's in another's heart? In that case, the term "Christian" becomes.' ...and that was an editing snafu. I meant '...the term "Christian" becomes useless.' I don't think Presby and I will agree about how I use the term "Christian", but, like I said, I can live with that. The fact is, there are a whole bunch of us who are happyto use the word "Christian" for both Billy Graham and John Paul II, don't use it for John Spong or Albert Schweitzer, and have some doubts about Pat Robertson.

Presby

04/09/2001 11:20:53 PM

DonJT: "The same historic Christianity that used the Bible to justify slavery, subjugation of women, inquisitions,extermination of indigenous peoples who refused to convert, selling indulgences, etc." See this is why it's necessary that Christian theology evolve. I wish people would stop using God as an excuse to justify weaknesses. And when I get to Heaven, I'll somehow have to swallow my bile and share Our Lord's table with Torquemada and Hitler. I'm hoping we all look different and I won't notice or care.

Presby

04/09/2001 10:55:51 PM

Narsil:"conservative adherents to all the denominations... have something in common with each other that we do not share with more "progressive" members .... and we use the word 'Christian' for that. We recognize that other people use the word differently, but we don't let it bother us.' Um, no conservatives dont get to co-opt the word "Christian" for their exclusive use. Christ, Christos, Jesu, God belongs to ALL OF US. Not just some of us. Call me the "Christian" left. Deal with it. Yours in Christ, Presby

Presby

04/09/2001 10:45:38 PM

To those of you who disagree with Bishop Spong: We're into what 15 pages of posts now, and I have as yet to see anybody post a response to Bishop Spong's *actual* thesis. Take a guess. No it isn't that the resurrection didn't happen! So far, it's just been "He's a Liar!" "He's an atheist!" "Why is he a Bishop?" LOL. Any takers?

Presby

04/09/2001 10:41:07 PM

Narsil: "if ... 'Christian' is to be useful at all, it has to have some kind of definition, and that has to exclude someone....I can't call *anyone* a Christian ...". Narsil, I'm disappointed. Who died and appointed you judge, anyway? Where's all that brotherly love toward Bishop Spong you were espousing a page down? All any of us can do is love God. I think you are ascribing a priviledge to the Body of Christ we do not possess. None of us gets to decide who God considers worthy. That's His/Her job. I don't think definitions about who's a "Christian" need be exclusionary. And that's from a lifelong Presbyterian.

DonJT

04/09/2001 10:23:31 PM

>>I am just saying who professes a belief in accord with historic Christianity. The same historic Christianity that used the Bible to justify slavery, subjugation of women, inquisitions, extermination of indigenous peoples who refused to convert, selling indulgences, etc. That historic Christianity? Give me a break.

DonJT

04/09/2001 10:18:44 PM

Sarcasm may be the last refuge of the defeated wit, but "omnipotent" was the correct word for what I meant.

DonJT

04/09/2001 10:15:23 PM

>>If "Christian" means "someone who follows Jesus", I can't call *anyone* a Christian, ...In that case, the term "Christian" becomes. ???? >>If "Christian" means "someone who *professes* to follow Jesus", the term becomes so broad as to be almost useless... So being Christian does not mean following Christ, then what's the point? You say it is only by believing what you view as central dogma, but not everyone who claims to be Christian agrees with your interpretation of scripture. My CofC youth, Jesus was not God but was a sacrifice for our sin and was bodily ressurected. Some liberal Christians believe Jesus was God incarnate but that his resurrection was only spiritual and not phsyical. You believe both, so you define "Christian" as only those who believe as you.

Narsil

04/09/2001 08:18:07 PM

One last note, if necessary-- When I define "Christian", I am emphatically *not* saying who I think is pleasing to God, or who will go to Heaven, or who is wise or good. I am just saying who professes a belief in accord with historic Christianity. Christians do have diverging opinions on just who will go to Heaven, and that's a topic for a whole other discussion-- but I'd rather we discussed it just among ourselves.

Narsil

04/09/2001 07:36:41 PM

DonJT summarizes Christianity thusly: "To be Christian is to follow Christ. To do as he commanded: Love God with all your heart and soul and Love you neighbor as yourself." ...which begs some important questions, like, "What does the word 'God' mean?" I would argue that Spong is not a Christian by even this loose definition, because he does not (consciously, anyway) believe in God. He has redefined "God" so thoroughly that it has nothing in common with how I (or Moses, or Jesus) use the word. Those commandments were given by the Deuteronomist, and repeated by Jesus. So shouldn't we ask what they meant by "God"? It's pretty clear from their other statements that they thought God knows the future, created the world, hears prayers, and answers miracles. Spong does not believe in the "God" they spoke of, so how can he be obeying their command to love that God?

Narsil

04/09/2001 07:10:38 PM

Tarantf-- That'd still be awfully broad. It would include, for example, Moslems (who think Jesus "saved" people by bringing a revelation to them), as well as Jehovah's Witnesses, Unification Church types, and some Hindus (don't many Hindus believe Jesus was an avatar of Vishnu?). What would such a broad category be good for? The fact remains-- conservative adherents to all the denominations (mainline Protestant, Evangelical, Catholic, Orthodox) tend to recognize that we have something in common with each other that we do not share with more "progressive" members of our communities. We need a word to identify ourselves, and we use the word "Christian" for that. We recognize that other people use the word differently, but we don't let it bother us. If we are forced to relinquish the word "Christian", we'll come up with some new label-- but we've called ourselves "Christian" for a long time (since Antioch), so we're not likely to stop now.

tarrantf

04/09/2001 05:40:13 PM

Narsil, How about defining Christian as someone who professes to follow Jesus as Lord and savior (though not insisting upon a litmus test that would define what "Lord" and "Savior" means to each Christian)?

Narsil

04/09/2001 05:05:53 PM

I said: "If someone rejects these doctrines [the Incarnation and the Resurrection], I cannot regard him as a Christian." DonJT said: "At least now, after all these years, I know who to ask to find out if I'm a Christian. I guess following Jesus isn't enough in your omnipotent eyes?" I think you meant "*omniscient* eyes"? If you're going to be sarcastic, you ought at least to get the terminology right. Anyway... if the term "Christian" is to be useful at all, it has to have some kind of definition, and that has to exclude someone. If "Christian" means "someone who follows Jesus", I can't call *anyone* a Christian, including myself-- how can I judge what's in another's heart? In that case, the term "Christian" becomes. If "Christian" means "someone who *professes* to follow Jesus", the term becomes so broad as to be almost useless-- it includes you, me, Mormons, J's Witnesses, Moslems, Moonies, and a lot of atheists.

DonJT

04/09/2001 04:35:21 PM

>>Both doctrines are infinitely beyond human comprehension But not significantly beyong human invention. To ascribe the magical and the mythical to reality is one of humanities distinguishing characteristics. Doesn't mean it's not real of course, but doesn't mean it is either.

dharmaflux

04/09/2001 04:33:35 PM

I love Bishop Spong. I wish all christians would be JUST like him. However, a perfect world will never exist, so.... I wish Christians would get off of this "I talked to God this morning" crap. When a person prays, and becomes spiritual, and has powerful and moving internal experiences, they are NOT talking to anyone. It's just so hilarious how religious people can carry on divine "conversations" which ammount to no more than some good vibrations and euphoria, and then lock up other people into insane asylums for "hearing voices" and at the same time talk about how they were "talking" to god this morning..." "Talking to God" is a poetic way of saying that they had a moment of religious euphoria and an extreme sense of "knowing" god was there, that they were "right on track" in life and in god's favor. Some go so far as to say that a holy "ghost" is with them, making them feel this way. Guys, just remember, you aren't the only people who get good warm fuzzy feelings when you pray.

DonJT

04/09/2001 04:32:55 PM

>>Way back when, I said: "To be a Christian means to believe in the Incarnation and the Resurrection." [Cliff’s-Notes version] I ain't Cliff, but here's my notes - To be Christian is to follow Christ. To do as he commanded: Love God with all your heart and soul and Love you neighbor as yourself. The Incarnation - this wasn't even an accepted Church doctrine till the 3rd century and has been hotly debated. It sure isn't spelled out in the Bible - which can be read either way and mostly the other way. Only that latest Gospel writers incarnated God in the person of Jesus. Jesus was, as Spong might say, the person in whom his folowers saw the likeness of God, the essence of God in human form. That doesn't mean they are the same. The resurrection? Even Paul gets a little ambiguous - he met Jesus "as if in a dream" (not on the road to anywhere) and wrote the the early Church was "The Body of Christ"

DonJT

04/09/2001 04:26:39 PM

>>If someone rejects these doctrines, I cannot regard him as a Christian. At least now, after all these years, I know who to ask to find out if I'm a Christian. I guess following Jesus isn't enough in your omnipotent eyes?

Foust77

04/09/2001 04:17:46 PM

I said: "Whatever Spong believes, his ilk is in the minority." tarrantf said: "The narrow path, eh Foust?" Um... clever, but pointless. Mormons are also in the minority, yet their views are in direct conflict with Sprong, hm? I said Sprong was in the minority to directly challange his repeated statement that the majority of christians are on his side, when clearly they aren't. Never mind the fact that Sprong doesn't believe Christ is the only way - believing everybody gets into heaven kind of negates the narrow way idea, dosen't it?

Narsil

04/09/2001 03:37:39 PM

P.S. on Incarnation/Resurrection: That was a highly compressed sketch of the doctrines, to fit into a 1024-char limit. Both doctrines are infinitely beyond human comprehension; nevertheless, we *can* say true things about them. (For that matter, "time" is beyond human comprehension, but we can still build clocks.) If you want a good introduction to the doctrines, I recommend C.S. Lewis's "Mere Christianity". If you want to get into the real meat, I suggest Athanasius's "On the Incarnation" (which you should be able to find on the web).

Narsil

04/09/2001 03:35:20 PM

Way back when, I said: "To be a Christian means to believe in the Incarnation and the Resurrection." DonJT said: "I disagree because you have not specified what you really mean by either word." [Cliff’s-Notes version] Incarnation: The God who created the universe, chose to become a human; that human is the one we call Jesus the Christ, who lived in Judea ~2000 years ago. Jesus Christ, Son of God, is both God and Man-- entirely God, entirely human. This is true of Him, and of *no other human*. Resurrection: Jesus, having submitted to death of His own free will, rose from the dead on the third day. He was able to talk to and interact with living humans, in the most prosaically physical way (touching them, eating their food). His Resurrection somehow prefigures the one we will enjoy-- He is "the first-fruits of those who rise". If someone rejects these doctrines, I cannot regard him as a Christian. And, yes, I know this includes the Church of Christ congregation you grew up in.

DonJT

04/09/2001 02:31:38 PM

>>Can I have faith in spite of all of this? You better believe I can. That is true faith.

DonJT

04/09/2001 02:29:04 PM

>>as we people know in this age, only the truth can set anyone free. So please Bishop Spong do us all real christians a favor, don't come into our church unless you are at least willing to consider the word of God as the truth. And the truth shall make you.... angry and living in denial.

DonJT

04/09/2001 02:26:56 PM

>>Who says they weren't witnesses? Well, Duh???? We obviously need a little history lesson here. I suggest reading a little more Spong - as in "Rescuing the Bible..." If that doesn't appeal to you because of the name attached to it, there are many other and more authoritative sources. Or keep your blinders if you wish, SPong has a word for that, as we already discussed.

dturner32257

04/09/2001 02:02:51 PM

He probably doesn't give out his address because of people like you who are unable to emotionally handle a challenge to your beliefs without 'sounding' (at the very least) angry, frustrated, and condemning. I won't assume that my opinion of how your emails sound is an accurate estimate of you. But, I do believe that approach is a non-christian approach and directly conflicts with Jesus's statement to the prostitute that was going to be stoned. "Nor do I condemn you..." As to the Shroud or any other scientific proof of God. You should ask yourself why you feel the need for that kind of proof. "Remove the beam from your own eye..."

SONOFMAN2000

04/09/2001 01:28:57 PM

To Bishop Spong, there is new scientific facts concerning the Shroud of Turin as Historical truth of Christ's resurrection,what do you say about that? Let's see how you learn in the universities you put your hopes on? What's your verdict? The case of the Shroud of Turin is not closed as you would hoped for. Look in www.shroudofturin.com. If you want I'll send you the web site but only you don't have a e-mail address to send the info to. I suppose even you know better to give it out your addy because of fear of the repercussion you would received for your attack on the Bible and the Faith.

SONOFMAN2000

04/09/2001 01:07:45 PM

I wish Bishop Spong would stop calling himself a christian let alone a bishop, There is a saying in the writings of the Apostle, he who denies that Jesus is the Son of God and that God did raise Him from the dead on the third day of His death, is a anti-christ 1 John 2:18-22. No person in this age, no matter how much education in the university they have received or what title they come in, they can't shake the faith that been here for Two thousand years, in fact these so-called expert scholars or professors if you will can only give assumptions that is not based on Truth, as we people know in this age, only the truth can set anyone free. So please Bishop Spong do us all real christians a favor, don't come into our church unless you are at least willing to consider the word of God as the truth. Remember Christ's Words? "Upon this Rock, I will built My Church and the powers of hell shall not over come it".

JimboBillyBob

04/09/2001 12:54:34 PM

There's a paradox that always amuses me: The most simplistic answer is not the most simple. Biblical literalsists typically come up with very complicated explanations why what's written in the Bible should be taken at face value. For me, simply put, I don't know what happened in 33 AD. I wasn't there. But I know the courts do seriously question witness testimony about an incident that happened 20-years ago or more, and is borrowed from previous testimony. Can I have faith in spite of all of this? You better believe I can. "Go and tell John what you've seen and heard." I see miracles every day.

tarrantf

04/09/2001 11:21:51 AM

Whatever Spong believes, his ilk is in the minority The narrow path, eh Foust?

Foust77

04/09/2001 11:15:21 AM

Who says they weren't witnesses? Each account could have been first hand, and we'd still have differences. You do know how unreliable a witnesses account in court is, right? 3 people watch a murder. One says the murdered had long blond hair, another said he had short blond hair, and the third says he had long brown hair. Yet, nobody questions that they saw the murder.

DonJT

04/09/2001 09:35:03 AM

>>It was more of a "hey you - write this stuff down". Inspired, but minor mistakes can still happen. Talk about the "thin end of a long wedge"? Even minor mistakes must cause one to be a little suspicious of bigger events... >>And like I've already said, if it was all identical, skeptics would say they conspired together. Perhaps, but the average Bible reader doesn't care to hear that none of the writers of the NT were witnesses to any events in Jesus' life and most of the books of the NT were written 30 to 100 yrs after Jesus died.

wubs

04/09/2001 08:45:34 AM

I was taught that one of the reasons that Jesus rebuked the Pharisees was because they were so obsessed with the letter of the Jewish law that they totally missed the spirit of the law. This is very differnet than saying that they were rebuked for being intellectuals. By the way who was more intellectual that Jesus who was all knowing? He would have to rebuke himself.

pjc60

04/09/2001 07:31:45 AM

Mr Spong: Just remember that when Jesus was here he regularly rebuked the authorities of that period for their hypocrisy, lack of faith and doubt. He maintained that their intellectualism stood in the very way of their salvation. Clearly you are very educated and intelligent as you have done a nice job "disecting" the Easter story. You appear to be heading down the same road with your article as the pharisees were in that day.

Narsil

04/08/2001 05:20:12 PM

StephenK.Adams writes: "The biggest miracle of all, is how such superstitious beliefs as those contained at the foundation of Christianity, have survived for as long as they have." You are absolutely right-- the survival of Christianity is miraculous. You may want to think about that a little bit... (Recommended reading: "The Six Deaths of the Faith", in G.K. Chesterton's _The_Everlasting_Man_. "Christianity has died many times and risen, for it had a God who knew the way out of the grave.")

Foust77

04/08/2001 03:56:20 PM

CS Lewis rocks. http://www.beliefnet.com/story/74/story_7473_1.html http://www.beliefnet.com/story/74/story_7475_1.html

bkherbert2000

04/08/2001 01:02:50 PM

I agree with Spong that the gospels contain speculation and what we might call 'urban legends'. However spong's hardline rejection of anything even remotely 'supernatural' is just the current twenty first century form of 'secular fundamentalism' creeping into his writings. I have had so many experiences that cannot be squeezed into his narrow definition of reality. Now for someone like me, who knows a few things, and is always learning more about these 'supernatural' events Spong catagorically rejects, it seems that I can meet him half way in that while I know that his materialistic philosophy is invalid and more than likely reflects his rejection of the excesses and lack of freedom in the Christian tradition, nevertheless I share his skeptical and critical veiw of the scriptures (so let us say right from the start that a critical attitude and a profound faith can coexist in the same person). My site, my testimony, my animation files, etc., can be found on my site: http://www.awitness.org/

StephenK.Adams

04/08/2001 10:59:34 AM

The longer something exists, the more strength it seems to have...The more people who accept certain ideas, the more validity they seem to have...However, the above ideas do not determine conclusively, whether something is the actual truth, or whether it is superstition or myth. It is easy to follow the crowd...It's much more difficult to follow what one truly believes...Bishop Spong deserves high marks for placing the truth, as he sees it, above all else.

darnay2

04/08/2001 01:38:58 AM

How do I know anything about what fundies experience? because i was one, and I come from a family and social strata populated with them. Easter is so powerful. What a shame to waste it on interpreting the story literally.

darnay2

04/08/2001 01:37:00 AM

This argument is trivial on several levels. first, I commend Spong for trying to describe the transformative experience one has when they close their Bible and face the eternal not as something to be thought about, but experienced. Spong really is trying here. And naturally, those who have not entered into that experienc erroneously claim Spong is trashing Christianity, or unable to grasp its truth with his narro mind. How rediculous! Narrow minds are ones who hold onto meaningless doctrine and fairy tales because they are more comfortable than the sheer magnitude of the easter experience Spong is trying to describe. Make no mistake, it is the fundies who are narrow. Spong's vision of Christ and easter, his EXPERIENCE of Christ and Easter seems far greater than any fundie's experience that I know.

rgleyva

04/07/2001 11:48:50 PM

Stephen, interesting way of defending Bishop Spong. Bishop Spong must believe some the superstititious beliefs contained in the Bible or he wouldn't be a bishop. His problem isn't believing in Christ, his problem is not believing the Bible. Paradox is that the Bible is the basis of his supposed believe in Christ. He has chosen to believe some of the Bible and discard some of it as fairy tales because his finite mind cannot comprehend the infinite mind and powers of God. His position should be worst in your eyes. He doesn't believe the Bible is the truth yet he still professes a belief in Christ. He has based his career on something he thinks is a lie. Such a waste of effort and life. God bless him anyway and may he guide him to the whole truth. AMEN

Foust77

04/07/2001 11:26:22 PM

Uh, Steven? Most of the discussion has had nothing to do with weather or not the Bible is infallible, but weather or not it's meant as a literal story or not.

StephenK.Adams

04/07/2001 10:25:22 PM

Eighty percent of the people posting to this site are against the ideas put forward by Bishop Spong...Most of the people who agree with him, don't bother coming into websites such as this...They are tired of the endless quotation of scriptures which presumes that the words are infallible. The biggest miracle of all, is how such superstitious beliefs as those contained at the foundation of Christianity, have survived for as long as they have.

toadman

04/07/2001 07:36:40 PM

Mr. Spong is again showing his true colors. A belief in God but no fruit. If Mr. Spong read the bible he so diligently trashes he would know that "...even satan believes in God and trembles." His denial of Christ's bodily resurrection is his acceptence of satan's invitation to join him in hell. What a shame, God desires all to come to the knowledge of Him, and knowing that many wouldn't He still came to earth to die for me.

pastorgirl

04/07/2001 07:19:43 PM

Bishop Spong is entitled to his say, but I resent his condescending tone. In his lengthy attack on the Bible, Spong repeats the phrase, "the Bible was wrong when..." A more accurate phrase might be: "we were wrong when we twisted the Bible..." In our sin, we often misread God's Word and cling stubbornly to our own misinterpretations until God sends someone (even a scientist) to knock some sense into us. We all need to pray to be delivered from our own sinful and cultural blinders. But the supposed contradictions within the Bible don't amount to anything more than minor variations of point of view among eyewitnesses. I when Spong states "all modern scholars agree with me". "All modern scholars" don''t agree on much of anything– certainly not how to interpret the Bible. Many agree with Spong's view. But a substantial number of educated, highly respected scholars disagree. I resent being called "ignorant" (Spong) or "freak" (Sidhantha) for disagreeing with such controversial statements.

Foust77

04/07/2001 06:40:18 PM

By the way, I read the article about so-called "mature faith". There's another, better article about child-like faith here: http://www.kidbrothers.net/release/janfeb95.html "O Lord, this is me calling - an adult in an adult world, needing to be a child again in a kingdom for children. O Lord - can you make me that? It will take a miracle."

Foust77

04/07/2001 06:32:01 PM

Sorry. In the below post, I meant "If somebody can instantly kill bacteria and repair skin WITHOUT medicine,"

Foust77

04/07/2001 06:31:27 PM

Part 3 "In my view, if Jesus can heal a leper, he can certainly walk on water. If he didn't walk on water, there's no reason to believe he cured leperosy either." * I agree completely. If somebody can instantly kill bacteria and repair skin with medicine, then it's not such a stretch to think he can walk on water. Heck, even without healing, walking on water is done even today - there's a lizard called the "Jesus lizard" because it runs over water.

Foust77

04/07/2001 06:28:57 PM

Part 2 DonJT: "to read the Bible as literally true in every detail, and yet know that in the real world Heaven is not just above the clouds" * Sigh. The resurection story is presented as historical fact. They were lying, or deluded, but it's not a metaphor. And who says God couldn't raise Jesus into the sky? Why would that have been so terrible for him to do? This is one of those trivialities that Sprong loves to jump on. "I'd assume that God wouldn't have made so many "mistakes" * I don't think anybody believes God put the authors into a trance and then ghost wrote the book for them. It was more of a "hey you - write this stuff down". Inspired, but minor mistakes can still happen. And like I've already said, if it was all identical, skeptics would say they conspired together.

Foust77

04/07/2001 06:24:50 PM

Part 1 "Kalli Anastasi" is Greek for "Good Resurrection"... From Easter until the Ascension, the greeting is different-- "Kristos Anesti", Christ is risen. And the response is "Alethos anesti"-- truly, He is risen!" That is so cool. Growing up in a penticostal church, I sometimes think I've missed out on a lot of great traditions. Sidhantha said: "Compare the two main birth stories. They don't agree on anything!" * Uh-huh. And if they were identical, the authors would have been accused of collaboration. The Bible is in a no-win situation with some people. So some details were confused - these are hardly central to the story. You go on to say you want Christianity neutered - that will never happen. Whatever Sprong believes, his ilk is in the minority. ----

DonJT

04/07/2001 05:50:12 PM

Fred, The problem I find with Borg, while he says things in a nicer tone, he seldom says as much. For example, in a B'net article on Jesus miracles he wrote: >>"These spectacular deeds are commonly divided into two categories. The first is healing, including exorcism. The second, often called nature miracles, includes ...walking on the sea, stilling a storm, multiplying loaves and fish, and changing water into wine. >>"Mainstream scholars widely accept that Jesus performed spectacular deeds falling into the first category. ...But ...A majority of mainstream scholars view the stories of the nature miracles as metaphorical narratives rather than as historical reports. I am among them." So Borg only goes half way on the path of rejecting miracles as historical events. In my view, if Jesus can heal a leper, he can certainly walk on water. If he didn't walk on water, there's no reason to believe he cured leperosy either. (Sorry, that's my all-or-nothin' fundy past rearing its rather ugly head.)

DonJT

04/07/2001 05:36:05 PM

>>cschuchart: "I feel sad for those who think they know more than God by second guessing His Word." SO you think God actually wrote the Bible? Perhaps you need to study a little more. I'd assume that God wouldn't have made so many "mistakes" (i.e. differences between the various version) as are present in the Gospel. Men writing it may get some of the details wrong - especially since they were followers of followers of Christ writing 40 to 70 yrs after Christ death. But God? But then maybe you're one of those who believe God planted dinosaur bones just to trick us...

DonJT

04/07/2001 05:28:32 PM

Spong does not call people "stupid" I've read many of his books and that word doesn't appear. He refers to some people's beliefs about certain things as reflecting "ignorance." That is a word he uses - but he's using it in a rather hopefull sense. The earth is not the center of the universe, mankind did evolve from lower orders, the earth is millions of years old - not 5000, mental and physical ailments are not signs of demonic possession. Those are/were positions of ignorance. Using the word "ignorance" is meant as in "here are some facts that apparently you have not come to terms with, but facts they are." "Stupid" is when you know the facts and yet cling to your ignorance. Spong is carefull in his use of the word "ignorant" even though he does use it frequently.

DonJT

04/07/2001 05:18:35 PM

Narsil: "Spong's insulting... he never defends...'God doesn't perform miracles'-- ...he's telling every traditional Christian, 'If you don't agree with me, you're stupid'" If it is insulting to point out that for one to read the Bible as literally true in every detail, and yet know that in the real world Heaven is not just above the clouds (as the Bible says MANY times)is tantamount to clinging to ignorance... well if you find that insulting, then I guess Spong is "insulting." If it is insulting to have someone point out to you that the world is millions of years old and that man kind appears to have evolved from lower species over those millions of years, rather than having been created in perfection 5000 years ago, If that is insulting to you to be told that your superstitious believes about the Biblical story of creation are false, then I guess he is insulting. But it seems to be that defending ones ignorance is never a winning strategy.

Narsil

04/07/2001 05:07:12 PM

Presby-- "Kalli Anastasi" is Greek for "Good Resurrection". (Or so I gather-- I don't speak Greek, but it's what everyone says at my church during Holy Week.) From Easter until the Ascension, the greeting is different-- "Kristos Anesti", Christ is risen. And the response is "Alethos anesti"-- truly, He is risen! But it isn't Easter yet, so I won't jump the gun. We can't rise with Christ unless we're first buried with Him. But thanks be to God, when we do rise, it won't be in the sense that "other people will remember us, and in a sense our 'spirit' will live on in them, and it's almost as if we came back from the dead". No-- we will rise indeed, and be more alive than we are now. We will rise as Christ did. As Athanasius said, God became like us, so that we might become like Him.

sidhantha

04/07/2001 03:22:56 PM

Those who read the Bible literally, don't read it carefully. Compare the two main birth stories. They don't agree on anything! Was Jesus born in a house or in a manger? were there wise men and a star or weren't there? But in the end it doesn't matter. The infinite God being beyond the comprehension of finite minds, many need an idea or a form of Him/Her/It to approach H.H.I. If you feel comfortable with Jesus filling that role, go for it! Love him irrationally! Hold back nothing! Those who feel threatened by the good bishop's truths are the exclusivity freaks. Shorn of specificity, they believe, Jesus would become one of many holy incarnations and teachers. But that, friends, would be a very positive development. The notion of my rightness and your wrongness has caused the three religions of the Bible to kill dozens of millions over the last three thousand years. When Christians can love Jesus and all the other avatars and prophets as well, the golden age will truly be upon us! Om, shanti!

Presby

04/07/2001 12:59:08 PM

Narsil:"A week from now, I'll commemorate the day I murdered God. And two days later, I'll celebrate the fact that it's very hard to keep God buried." Amen! I'm so very glad God doesn't give up on us.. :D "Kalli anastasi!" This sounds celebratory..what does it mean?

Presby

04/07/2001 12:51:53 PM

I am not saying that since the historical record, other than the Gospels, being silent on this whole business is a bad thing. In fact, I would argue that the less specific, the less detailed a story is, the more universal it becomes. Everyone who comes in contact with the Bible can see themselves in it. There's a reason why we don't know what Jesus actually looked like. Physically, he's anyone you want him to be. That's the interactive part of the Bible. There's no description of the crowd that Pontius Pilot shouts to about what to do with Jesus; WE are in the crowd. We're following Moses across the Dead Sea bed, struggling to keep up so Pharoh's chariots don't catch us. We may be Lot or his Wife, struggling, however vainly, not to look back at something that will only come to ruin. I've been Sara's handmaiden, watching her laugh with ironic glee at the thought of becoming a mother at the age of 90. To me, this is the power of the Bible.

Presby

04/07/2001 12:47:31 PM

barneydingo:"But tell me this – since we preach that Christ rose from the dead, why are some of you saying there will be no resurrection of the dead?" Whoa, fella! I never said that there won't be a resurrection. For me it's more a metaphysical thing. I think whatever did happen to Jesus after they pulled him down from the cross is entirely open to interpretation, especially since we don't have any writings or other hard evidence from the day it happened. All of the Gospels were written at least 40 -100 years after the fact. Somehow I find it hard to believe that the techniques of storytelling didn't find their way into these writers' memories. However much they may have wanted not to.

barneydingo

04/07/2001 12:10:52 PM

But tell me this – since we preach that Christ rose from the dead, why are some of you saying there will be no resurrection of the dead? For if there is no resurrection of the dead, then Christ has not been raised either. And if Christ was not raised, then all our preaching is useless, and your trust in God is useless. And we apostles would all be lying about God, for we have said that God raised Christ from the grave, but that can't be true if there is no resurrection of the dead. If there is no resurrection of the dead, then Christ has not been raised. And if Christ has not been raised, then your faith is useless, and you are still under condemnation for your sins. In that case, all who have died believing in Christ have perished! And if we have hope in Christ only for this life, we are the most miserable people in the world. 1 Corinthians 15:12-19

Narsil

04/07/2001 12:18:20 AM

Presby: "God keeps wanting us to get this message of loving each other, so periodically we have these christ-like (not Christ) messengers..." ...and we ignore them at best, kill them at worst. God tells us, over and over through a thousand teachers, the same basic truths we always knew-- "do justice, love mercy, walk humbly with your God." And we always shoot the messenger. I would despair, if God hadn't become a Man among us, to pull us out of the pit we dug for ourselves... A week from now, I'll commemorate the day I murdered God. And two days later, I'll celebrate the fact that it's very hard to keep God buried. Kalli anastasi!

Presby

04/06/2001 10:04:55 PM

Did anyone read the link at the bottom "Why it's OK to question" "Adult Christianity" is a beautiful essay about loving God, with an adult's perspective. I'm curious to hear what did the rest of you think?

cschuchart

04/06/2001 09:55:44 PM

My post was pointed at the parson that wrote the "The Easter Moment" Biship Sponege, (not anyone on these postings), who is suposeed to be Christian Biship. You guys can believe what you want its a free country.

Presby

04/06/2001 09:49:13 PM

cschuchart: "I feel sad for those who think they know more than God by second guessing His Word." I never pretend that I know more than God. However, I am not one of those that thinks "well, it's not in the Bible, so I should even think it." I say think it all, say it all, and decide for yourself. God gave me my brain as well as my heart; I'm not leaving either outside the sanctuary. :)

Presby

04/06/2001 09:42:05 PM

Narsil: "But neither does he [Paul] stress Jesus's teachings (which ... weren't all that different from ... Socrates or Moses or Gautama or a thousand other good people we humans have ignored)." True. I admire the Ba'hai tenent that says all religions are related. God keeps wanting us to get this message of loving each other, so periodically we have these christ-like (not Christ) messengers... Ghandi, MLK, Mandela, etc. to remind us of what we can be. But we ignore them, or, like Jesus, kill them. N. Mandela seems, thankfully to be the exception.

Maccabeus

04/06/2001 07:38:03 PM

DonJT> Where exactly is this Church of Christ you belong to? Your local congregation, I mean. While there is a considerable amount of variability in our teaching on the Incarnation, I have never heard of any group among us that teaches Jesus is not God incarnate. *** Generally speaking, I agree that miracles are a sign, and bear little intrinsic importance--though they certainly testify to God's desire to grant us healing, both physically and otherwise. The Incarnation and the Resurrection, however, are different because they are for different purposes.

cschuchart

04/06/2001 07:07:35 PM

I feel sad for those who think they know more than God by second guessing His Word. Jesus was the Living Word of God, to deny His Words Literaly, Spiritualy, and only take them Philosophicaly is Denying the Son. If you deny the Word you deny the Son, if you deny the Son you deny the Father, and he will deny you on Judgement day. If you deny the world of the spirit and of the Hosts of Gods angels, shich is the world of Heaven, you deny the Holy Spirit who is the Spirit of God, to deny the Holy Spirit is the only un-forgivable sin. I wouldn't give up my day job if I were you. God has no room in His ministry for philosphers, only those who believe the complete Word of God. ...Another thing the word "Easter" is a mistranslation of Passover, and is the name of the middle eastern pagan goddess "Ishtar" celebrated by rolling eggs and making like bunnies with virgins in pretty white dresses as a sacrafice to her.(think on that one!)

Presby

04/06/2001 05:22:57 PM

Buxton: I'm not willing to say that there are no miracles and there is no God. For me there is a God, and yes, present in my everyday life. But it has nothing to do with repeating stories of biblical miracles in my head. I am willing to say that there are parts of the universe, including the devine, that we do not understand yet. And to try to explain things like the resurrection in, say purely the terms of our limited understanding of biochemistry, is a bit like a 2yr old trying to explain the process of fission in the sun. Note about creeds: PCUSA uses the Apostles' Creed. I don't know that it's all that different than the Nicene Creed. I'd have to take the time to study them.

tarrantf

04/06/2001 05:06:35 PM

I've never been in an Episcopal Church anywhere that omits the Nicene Creed. Who are you really, Buxton? You remind me of the bad guy in CS Lewis's Last Battle who dresses in the Lion Skin and pretends to be Aslan so as to lead others astray.

Presby

04/06/2001 04:59:50 PM

I'm glad that "faith-based initiatives" clap-trap is dying under it's own preponderance. I wondered if the christian right would be able to stand sharing federal $$ with religious groups, and people, they don't like. Looks like they've answered my question. The president using the South Lawn for T-ball sounds more productive. tarrantf:"Marcus Borg says most of the same things much better, and he rarely elicits the hostile attacks and outright dismissals of Spong." I haven't read Marcus Borg, so I can't say. But Spong is VERY DIRECT. He's out there, letting it all hang out (theologically speaking). If you want to open up a debate, that would be the way to go about it.

Presby

04/06/2001 04:36:22 PM

Narsil:"but will you at least recognize that this outlook is controversial?" Oh sure. It seems like Bishop Spong is turning the Church (not God, us aka the "body of Christ") on its ears! :D As others have posted before, every important idea in history started out as a "little wacko." In the end, I think that's a healthy thing. Because in the end, through the struggle of debate and prayer, we can come to some much richer, more complex, more eduring view of God. Don't forget, Paul and Peter were considered controversial too, in their own Jewish community.

tarrantf

04/06/2001 04:34:01 PM

Don, As usual I agree with you on the issue of continuing to speak out (in reference to yesterday's appalling article about conservative disdain for 1/10 of the Body of Christ). I just wish Spong could find a way of making his points without alienating the people he needs to reach. Marcus Borg says most of the same things much better, and he rarely elicits the hostile attacks and outright dismissals of Spong. [Don, did you see my message to you in your B'net e-mail?]--sorry for the private message, folks :0)

tarrantf

04/06/2001 04:27:41 PM

Presby, I'm delighted that you have found Spong's writings help. They literally changed my Christian life years ago. I encountered Spong in an Episcopal reading group that discussed Living in Sin. His books are much better than these B-Net articles. In addition, his personality is more congenial. I know people in my parish who have met and interacted with him, and they tell me that he is a delightfully charming and gracious person. That side of his personality doesn't always come out in his B'net articles:-) I recommend strongly Why Christianity Must Change or Die. In it, he has the guts to express boldly what many of us feel instinctively but don't always say outright.

Narsil

04/06/2001 04:09:32 PM

Presby: "I think he's going past the miracles debate to his larger thesis: What's really important about Jesus. Miracles or teachings? Bishop Spong seems to think the teachings are. I agree." ...but will you at least recognize that this outlook is controversial? When Paul writes about Jesus, he doesn't stress (or, indeed, mention) the miracles of His ministry-- the water-to-wine, walking-on-water stuff. But neither does he stress Jesus's teachings (which, when you get down to it, weren't all that different from the moral teachings of Socrates or Moses or Gautama or a thousand other good people we humans have ignored). What Paul stresses is one miracle in particular-- that Jesus rose from the grave. He really seems to think that that one event, the Resurrection, is what Jesus's ministry is all about. I think that's why the Nicene Creed doesn't mention either Jesus's teachings, *or* His miracles-- except the Virgin Birth (testimony to the Incarnation) and His Resurrection.

Presby

04/06/2001 04:01:13 PM

DonJT:"many denominations refer to the broader 'Christian Church' as 'The body of Christ.' This very usage sidesteps any literal physical ressucitation of the crucified body." Exactly. PCUSA certainly does use this language. "Christians are not totally defined by dogmatic acceptance of your two nonnegotiable miracles but by a commitment to live the life that Jesus commanded - to love God and everybody else" This has always been my understanding. To try to defend the logistics of how miracles actually happened, how *He* got up from the dead, is to miss the point of Jesus in the first place. That universal, unconditional love is the thing we can all be "born again" into.

Presby

04/06/2001 03:44:55 PM

Tarrantf, re your "genteel complacency": Personally I had never heard of Bishop Spong until I visited BNet. But I'm glad I did. I actively look for ways to expand my worldview. I don't see every new idea as a direct challenge to my being. It looks like we agree on that.

Presby

04/06/2001 03:43:45 PM

Narsil: "Spong's insulting... he never defends...'God doesn't perform miracles'-- ...he's telling every traditional Christian, 'If you don't agree with me, you're stupid'" I might be willing to concede that point. But I think he's going past the miracles debate to his larger thesis: What's really important about Jesus. Miracles or teachings? Bishop Spong seems to think the teachings are. I agree. I think Xtians confuse Jesus the miracle worker (water to wine, walking on water, etc), with Jesus the teacher/philosopher(unconditional love,help those in need). "Miracles" are attention-getters. It's what you do with that attention that really counts. Bishop Spong is right about one thing. If humanity, even for a naonasecond, fully focused on and lived out the teachings, it really would be revolutionary. Woodstock (sans LSD and Harleys), anyone? Jesus and John the Baptist: the World's first recorded hippies. LOL!

DonJT

04/06/2001 03:25:03 PM

>>Spong tends to be insulting. And sometimes his critics take offense when I don't think he intended insult - but you are correct. Even I have learned to see some of it more plainly (But having read his critics book - it's pretty much filled with personal attack rather than arguments on why his ideas are wrong) >>At one time his abrasive style was necessary because we (Episcopalians) needed to be shaken out of some of our gentile complacency. And often times, Fred, I think it is still needed for the same reason to peoples of other denominations. For example - the B'net article yesterday stating that the main reason conservative Christian leaders now oppose Bush's faith based initiatives is because they so despise homosexuals that the idea of treating them with equal rights while managing tax-payers money is beyond their comprehension.

DonJT

04/06/2001 03:15:59 PM

pt 1 >>But there are two minimum miracles that are non-negotiable. To be a Christian means to believe in the Incarnation and the Resurrection. Well that's pretty closed minded of you - (just teasing) I disagree because you have not specified what you really mean by either word. Jesus was not God incarnate to a large number of Christians - e.g. the Church of Christ does not accept that. Jesus called himself the "son of man" more than anything else.

DonJT

04/06/2001 03:15:45 PM

pt 2 On the resurrection, Paul wrote at least 2 times that the very church iteself is the resurrected body of Christ - many denominations refer to the broader "Christian Church" as "The body of Christ." This very usage sidesteps any literal physical ressucitation of the crucified body. And certainly, in my reading of Paul, he does not argue strongly for the literal resurrection that many Christians claim - he describes his meeting with Jesus as spiritual, as if in a dream and occuring in spiritual realm, not a corporeal one. So... Christians are not totally defined by dogmatic acceptance of your two nonnegotiable miracles but by a commitment to live the life that Jesus commanded - to love God and everybody else.

tarrantf

04/06/2001 02:36:29 PM

oops: make that genteel complacency

tarrantf

04/06/2001 02:35:06 PM

Narsil, We agree on one important point: Spong tends to be insulting. It is the greatest flaw of his ministry in my opinion. At one time his abrasive style was necessary because we (Episcopalians) needed to be shaken out of some of our gentile complacency. But now I find that his rhetorical style often thwarts his message. I agree with his ideas in most ways, but I dislike his attitude.

Narsil

04/06/2001 02:10:56 PM

Presby writes: "It's evident to me from the vitriol on this board that people feel personnally insulted by Bishop Spong's writings. Why?" I think you'll find some vitriol on both sides. (Look at our friend Buxton.) But to answer your question-- +Spong's basic premise is insulting. If you read carefully, you find that he never defends such statements as "God doesn't perform miracles"-- he just asserts that no intelligent person can believe them. So he's telling every traditional Christian, "If you don't agree with me, you're stupid"—sometimes, in so many words. I think this explains why some Christians (including myself) get angry at Spong's writings—but itdoes not *excuse* this anger. We are a light to the world. If we can't read the writings of one troubled apostate without getting angry, then we should get off the web and get back to our prayers—IMHO. Whatever he may write, +Spong was baptised into Christ, and he is our brother. We should be more charitable than the Prodigal's brother was.

Narsil

04/06/2001 02:02:56 PM

DonJT writes: ' So it is obvious by all the back-slapping here that you guys can't conceive of a Christianity that does not include these "miracles". ' Exactly! We finally understand each other. You can't have Christianity without miracles. I don't think *all* the miracles of the Gospels are "necessary". Convince me that, say, the blasting of the fig tree or the feeding of the five thousand was just an allegory, any you leave my faith untroubled. But there are two minimum miracles that are non-negotiable. To be a Christian means to believe in the Incarnation and the Resurrection. And if I can believe that a dead man can rise, why should I be troubled by comparitively "easy" miracles like a virgin birth, or turning water into wine?

StephenK.Adams

04/06/2001 01:50:46 PM

I agree completely with the ideas expressed by Bishop Spong, but how he believes that on the one hand he can lay waste to the supernatural aspects of Christianity and on the other hand, still find value in it's continued existence is beyond me.

boristspider

04/06/2001 01:43:15 PM

Ms. Mathewes-Green: I have sincere respect and admiration for those who do have a truly personal relationship with Christ and the Father. However, as someone still leaning toward some skepticism on this issue, many "believers" sound to me as if they "spout off" about something they have never experienced: which is putting their faith under the crucible of doubt and examining what it is exactly that they "believe in." In my view, no matter how emotional and personal their experience may seem, it lacks something that the skeptics have. Neither is right or wrong, merely a different manifestation of the same thing. Please, let us not reserve the word "believer" for only those people who have had a more emotional experience of faith than others.

tarrantf

04/06/2001 12:53:16 PM

Buxton, I don't want you to confuse my lack of belief in God as a "sentient being" with my belief in God as an "Other Presence." I experience the Holy Spirit moving within my being everyday, and I affirm this as God in my life. From your other posts, I perceive that you seem to be suggesting that all mystical experience is illusion. I don't believe this to be so, and I know for certain that our Church as a whole does not either. We can have a progressive faith complete with Biblical scholarship without losing our mystical connection with God. Or without losing a progressive understanding incarnation, atonement, resurrection, and other ancient doctrines.

Buxton

04/06/2001 12:28:21 PM

tarrantf, exactly! That is an excellent way of putting it. John Spong teaches us that there is no such thing as a sensient being we call God. God is simply the highest natural order of things. When we aspire to this natural order we become God. Spong shows us a humanistic approach on how to be the best we can be and road to this state. Spong is a little ahead of his time.

Buxton

04/06/2001 12:22:42 PM

tarrantf, I think we agree on most things. Maybe I go off a bit in that I have a deep faith in our church and have a strong admiration and respect for John Spong. He is one of our greatest leaders. I think as time goes on, we will see him see his undue credit for the great changes that have happened in the Episcopal church. DonJT, I agree with everything you say. We don't need miracles to support our beliefs. They stand on their own. These Catholics and Orthodox are narrow-minded and stuck in a pre-Copernican world. In the modern world we can see that there is no God and with it we dismiss the silly notions of virgin birth and resurrection. And Spong does a great job of explaining himself and offering proof.

tarrantf

04/06/2001 12:17:32 PM

God had, in effect, left the sky and was now found in the self-giving love of Jesus, in whom a new depth to human life was also revealed....From that moment on, they were convinced God could be encountered in human form as life, love, and being. What a wonderful way of expressing the incarnation! This is a perfect example of how traditional language and concepts may be expanded to incorporate new understandings. I'm not as certain as Spong that Bible-literalist Christianity will die out, but I am convinced that a new era is dawning for Christianity that will renew and invigorate our evolving branch of the Church. Who knows how it will play out in the end. The risen Christ is the center, regardless of how you conceive of him.

Presby

04/06/2001 11:28:39 AM

I think Bishop Spong's is a wonderfully refreshing perspective. It's evident to me from the vitriol on this board that people feel personnally insulted by Bishop Spong's writings. Why? The Bishop is allowed to see God in his way. And perhaps, just perhaps, he can open up the message of Jesus to those who have felt too removed from it. Presby

rpf366

04/06/2001 09:41:32 AM

Listen! Study the Shroud of Turin (the burial cloth)- search for shroud on web. If you still have doubts about the validity of the resurrection you probably don't believe even what you see.

DonJT

04/06/2001 09:33:06 AM

>>Narsil - well said. Here, here. So it is obvious by all the back-slapping here that you guys can't conceive of a Christianity that does not include these "miracles" To me that mean that you do not have faith, because you think the Bible offers "proof" by telling all these stories that grew up in the 50 to 70 yrs after Christ was crucified. To you they must be literally true or you have no foundation on which to build your belief system. Hmmm, building foundations on sand? I wonder where I heard that one before...

DonJT

04/06/2001 09:30:09 AM

>>Moreover, Spong has confused what the Bible says with what people have used the Bible to say. No, Spong addressed that issue directly: >>Before representatives of Christianity begin to answer modern questions about the resurrection with biblical assertions as the source of their authority, they should remember this history [of others using the Bible to rationalize other ideas like slavery] and face the possibility that the Bible might also be wrong about the literal details of Easter

Foust77

04/06/2001 08:56:31 AM

Narsil - well said. Here, here.

Narsil

04/05/2001 11:22:31 PM

Maccabeus asks: "...what in the world does Spong think could have caused such a transformation in the disciples anyway?" I wondered that myself. Spong seems to be saying that he's presenting Paul's understanding of the Faith-- that neither Paul nor the other Apostles actually believed that Christ rose from the dead (except in the sense that "Christ's spirit lived on in them" or somesuch). If so... then why would so many of them have gone to their deaths? Would Stephen have died to proclaim that "[his] consciousness had been expanded to new dimensions"? Would Peter go to the cross, and Paul to the headman's block, to say that "God was wholly other and that this God could never be captured in finite words or symbols"? When St. Polycarp was on trial for his life, the baffled proconsul asked him, "Why not just say 'Lord Caesar', burn some incense, and live?" I know Polycarp's answer to the question. But what is Spong's?

Maccabeus

04/05/2001 11:08:01 PM

You've got to wonder--what in the world does Spong think could have caused such a transformation in the disciples anyway? And why does he bother to believe (if he does believe) in a God who can't work miracles? Moreover, Spong has confused what the Bible says with what people have used the Bible to say. It's one thing to say that the Bible says Christ rose from the dead, physically, and another to say that someone in the 1800s used the Bible to support slavery.

Maccabeus

04/05/2001 11:05:37 PM

Narsil> I must say that the previous poster belongs to an unusual variety of the church of Christ indeed. I've heard of such places, but never worshipped at one of them. Churches of Christ usually accept the basic idea of the Trinity; however, we do not accept the various doctrines that have grown up around it as authoritative. For instance, it is perfectly in order to deny that Christ is eternally begotten of the Father, and Betty Choate has done so (as well as propounding several other "heretical" notions, some of which were quite shocking to me) in her book Jesus Christ: the Eternal Sacrifice. It is one thing to deny some ancient council's interpretation of an abtruse doctrine. It's quite another, as John Spong has done, to state that the historical event on which our faith is based because it doesn't happen to jive with what "we postmoderns" think is possible.

Foust77

04/05/2001 11:00:19 PM

Part 2 ---- "These leaders seem not to recognize that, as modern history has unfolded, the Bible has proven to be wrong many times." * *sigh* Isolated verses that have been misinterpreted and misused. Hardly "proven wrong". ---- His list of Bible "wrongs" contains a series of grand, unfounded assumptions that set him at odds with all of Christianity. ---- "Does anyone really think, for example, that a physical resuscitation of a body dead for three days is actually possible?" * THAT'S WHY IT'S CALLED A MIRACLE! A MIRACLE! A SUPERNATURAL ACT! Of course it's not possible, naturally. This one sentence PROVES Sprong's bias - he decides God can't do anythign outside his little box, and spends his life making up and twisting facts to support this. Eh. This is pointless.

Foust77

04/05/2001 11:00:00 PM

Here we go, another Sprong rant complete with inaccuracies so glaring it makes one wonder how anybody can take this man seriously. "Well, it's in the Bible, so it has to be true. This is the traditional answer given..." * This is only one peice of the reasoning to believe in the resurection - to misrepresent it as the "whole answer" indicates a dishonest bias. (just like everything Sprong writes) ---- "Church leaders, eager to protect their power, appear intent on employing pre-modern claims that convince fewer and fewer people" * hahaha. Hahahaha. There's always a line in these articles that makes me laugh out loud. Sprong seems to think here that Christianity isn't growing faster then ever before... which it is.

Narsil

04/05/2001 08:06:07 PM

[On the 4th Century...] Food for thought: Isn't it just possible that the 4th century got some things right? In calculus class, did you stand up and say "That thinking is so 17th-century"? After all, very few 21st-century people understand calculus. Or did you perhaps think that Newton was no less correct for having the misfortune of living in a time before yours? Me, I'll stand with Athanasius against the world-- and with Athanasius against the ages, if that's necessary. "Heaven and earth may move with the times, but My Word will never move with the times."

Narsil

04/05/2001 08:03:10 PM

[On the Church of Christ, Sola Scriptura, and the Creeds...] Well, I guess that's why I belong to the Orthodox Church, not the Church of Christ. If they really reject the Trinity, I'm not sure I could call them Christian. But most "Sola Scriptura" groups, while they might think the Creed is not *authoritative* (because they don't grant authority to Church councils), nevertheless think it's *accurate*-- because it is, after all, borne out by Scripture.

Narsil

04/05/2001 08:00:56 PM

DonJT asks: 'What do you mean when you say "God the Father"?' What do I, personally, mean? Not very much, and most of it mistaken. But I do know that Jesus and His Apostles described God as "the Father". I have theories of what it means, but they're just mine... but in a nutshell, I'd guess that biological "fatherhood" is a shadow, a metaphor God uses to teach us about the ultimate Relationship, which is that between the Father and the Son. Calling a human (or animal) a "father" is saying that its relationship, in a small way, models and echoes the relationship in the Godhead-- a relationship we can share, when we put on Christ in our baptism. What difference does it make? Well, if Christ chose to emphasize that God is "the Father", shouldn't I believe it? Christ must know something about it. If not, how did He rise from the grave? Kalli anastasi!

DonJT

04/05/2001 07:18:25 PM

What do you mean when you say "God the Father"?? Father has a precise definition biologically speaking, it has a pretty good definition for position in a family structure, but what do you mean by it in a Godly sense? God may be my creator, in the sense that he set it all in motion. He may be my mentor in the sense that his word and the life of his prophets, followers and "son" can provide guidance and inspiration, but he never played ball with me in the back yard or took me fishin' or even carried me on the beach so I didn't leave footprints. So what do you mean when you say "God the Father" as opposed to "God the Mother" or "God the ethereal creator of the universe"??? And what difference does it make?

DonJT

04/05/2001 07:14:23 PM

>>As I understand it, mired in the 4th century as I am, that means that Spong does not believe in "God, the Father Almighty". Well, there's the problem, you are mired in the 4th century along with those political leaders who wished to consolidate control over the church by creating a dogmatic rendering of Christianity such that only they could define who is and who isn't a Christian. Now you're 17 centuries behind and 4 centuries past the reality of the experience.

DonJT

04/05/2001 07:09:57 PM

>>but in my humble opinion, a Creed is meant to be a profession of faith. (That's. Why. They. Call. It. A. "Creed".) I grew up in a Church of Christ congregation and was taught: 1) the Nicene (or Apostles) Creed is not in the Bible. 2) If it ain't in the Bible, then it ain't Christian, and 3) Only pagan sinners would need or use such extra-Biblical texts to represent their faith. Further, we were taught that Jesus was God's son and not God. The Trinity is three - not one. And we were taught to worship God, not his son or the Holy Spirit. (Of course, In CofC we were also taught that only we was s goin' to heaven.)

Narsil

04/05/2001 05:05:14 PM

Origen: "Christ is in our midst!" He is and shall ever be! I don't disagree with anything you've said, and I think you've expressed yourself very clearly. It's just that when some people are deadset on misinterpreting whatever they read, we all need to hedge our comments with disclaimers... You're right about Christ's body being "not physical" in the sense of "more than physical". But to many readers, "not physical" will always mean "less than physical"-- which is why, if we say that Christ's is a "spiritual body", we should make it clear that that Body did actually eat fish and bread with the apostles, and cooked that fish over a fire. I didn't mean to imply that all Orthodox churches speak the creed instead of singing it; that's a legitimate local variation. Good Lent!

Origen

04/05/2001 03:43:15 PM

>>In my church, where almost everything in the Liturgy is sung or chanted, we make a point of *saying*-- not singing-- the Creed, to make it clear that it is exactly what it seems to be: a profession of our faith. Anyone who doesn't believe it, is more than welcome to be silent. In my Parish (Parish of St. Cornelius the Centurion of Amersfoort, Nederland) we sing the Holy Creed. Only the sermon is spoken and the messages at the end of Divine Liturgy. Agape, Origen

Origen

04/05/2001 03:39:06 PM

Hi Narsil, Christ is in our midst! >>His resurrected Body may have been different from the one that died, but it is "physical" in the modern sense-- it can interact with the physical world, as He repeatedly demonstrated. Certainly so! However, I would like to qualify that with adding that His Body is corporeal, not physical in the sense that it is limited to our space-time-continuum. To be sure, His Body CAN interrect with it, but it is free from the usual time-space limitations that we are still subjected to, as Evdokimov stressed. In this sense it was absolutely "pshysical". But this way of using the word physical is what I express with somatic and corporeal. Agape, Origen

Origen

04/05/2001 03:34:02 PM

Hi Narsil, Christ is in our midst! >>To a liberal theologian, "spiritual" is another word for "allegorical" or "metaphorical", and "raised spiritually" means "not raised at all". Such was also Bultmann's belief as he expresed it in his below mentioned book. I have it on my shelf somewhere,.. Bultmann's problem with St. Paul was that the Apostle clearly perceived the necessity of the BODILY (somatic) resurrection, a restoration to life of the fleshly body that had died on the Cross, and also its TRANS-formation into a new quality. The essence of the earthly body and the "spiritual" body is identical, only its quality is changed. Bultmann and his followers reject the bodily resurrection. I always express my faith in the bodily resurrection, and I usually avoid the term "spiritual resurrection" for the exact reason you mentioned. I hope I have expressed myself better this time? Its good to see more "narrow-minded, backward Orthodox" out here! Agape, Origen

Narsil

04/05/2001 03:22:07 PM

DonJT: 'But also, any one who spent more than five minutes studying the issue would quickly realize that other major faiths that use the creed also offer their own "spin" on it.' I can't speak for the PCUSA-- your example-- but in my humble opinion, a Creed is meant to be a profession of faith. (That's. Why. They. Call. It. A. "Creed".) If, for the sake of argument, the PCUSA does not believe in the Nicene Creed, they should change it or replace it with something they do agree with. When everyone in the church stands up and says "I believe in...", they ought to believe it-- I think simple honesty demands that. In my church, where almost everything in the Liturgy is sung or chanted, we make a point of *saying*-- not singing-- the Creed, to make it clear that it is exactly what it seems to be: a profession of our faith. Anyone who doesn't believe it, is more than welcome to be silent.

Origen

04/05/2001 03:19:25 PM

>>...just as narrow-minded and backward"? I beg your pardon! We're a lot more narrow-minded and backward, and pretty darned pleased about it!" LOL, that's very well put ! Narsil, Thank you. Agape, Origen

Narsil

04/05/2001 03:16:02 PM

Origen-- It is certainly true that there is a difference between a "fleshly" body and a "spiritual" body, and that Paul was careful to draw that distinction. But on this thread, stressing that distinction overmuch may not be wise, since it will certainly be misinterpreted. Paul thought spirit was *more* real than flesh, but moderns misunderstand this. When a Spong says Christ was raised "spiritually", he will then go on to explain that this means people remembered Christ’s “spirit”. To a liberal theologian, "spiritual" is another word for "allegorical" or "metaphorical", and "raised spiritually" means "not raised at all". Which is why we, like Paul and the Evangelists, should first stress the reality of Christ's resurrection-- a resurrection that left Him more able, not less, to affect the physical world. His resurrected Body may have been different from the one that died, but it is "physical" in the modern sense-- it can interact with the physical world, as He repeatedly demonstrated.

Narsil

04/05/2001 03:05:49 PM

Me: 'But I do accept the Nicene Creed, which Spong rejects.' DonJT: 'Obviously you didn't bother to finish "Why Christianity Must Change or Die" since Spong ultimately claims that he can read the Nicene Creed with "Integrity" once he has given his interpretation of it.' (sigh) I did read it, and believe me, it wasn't easy. (With all the writing Spong does, you'd think he'd be better at it...) You say Spong can "read" the Creed with integrity—but he clearly doesn’t believe it. In Spong's unintentionally hilarious chapter "Reading the Creed with Integrity", the first thing he does is to say that he does not believe that God is "the Father", and he does not believe that God is "almighty". As I understand it, mired in the 4th century as I am, that means that Spong does not believe in "God, the Father Almighty". His way of "reading the Creed with integrity" is to proclaim, once and for all, that no matter how often he may recite the Creed, he doesn't believe a word of it. Which is honest, in its way...

tarrantf

04/05/2001 03:01:07 PM

Don, If you are still around: Do you know who this "Buxton" person is? S/he seems very insistent upon misrepresenting the Episcopal Church with the deliberate intention of deception. Is this really our friend, Athena, in a new guise?

Narsil

04/05/2001 02:57:10 PM

The ever-tolerant Buxton writes: "[Origen] is an Orthodox and they are just as narrow-minded and backward as Roman Catholics." That's funny-- we Orthodox tend to regard the Catholics as a bunch of radicals, hell-bent on changing the Faith. "...just as narrow-minded and backward"? I beg your pardon! We're a lot more narrow-minded and backward, and pretty darned pleased about it! But I'll take your comment as a compliment, as I'm sure that was how it was intended.

Origen

04/05/2001 02:29:03 PM

"May the FARCE be with you." Live long and PONDER. (from the same genre, different movie)

Origen

04/05/2001 02:23:58 PM

"What you can you expect from Origen and his kind, whose minds are stuck 2000 years ago. He is an Orthodox and they are just as narrow-minded and backward as Roman Catholics." Hmm, I would like to note that the Orthodox are NOT like the Roman Catholics upon closer examination. But, I thank you for the compliment! Our minds are indeed "stuck" in what happened 2000 years ago, its what makes us Christians. Agape, Origen

Origen

04/05/2001 02:17:21 PM

The Mystery of Christ's glorious Resurrection is the central Feast of Christianity. Its message is the bodily resurrection of Christ our God, reminding us that all matter, every single atom of this Universe will one day be transformed to unite to the Uncreated Light of Tabor. The day that God will be all in all (1 Cor. 15, 28). Agape, Origen

Origen

04/05/2001 02:16:48 PM

"Simply because people find comfort in superstitions does not make them either real or even essential to the "very heart of Christianity." The Gospel Of Jesus Christ (the God-man) is no superstition. It is Mystery, and simply because the rationalistic, post-enlightenment mind of Western European influenced people cannot fathom the meaning of Mystery doesn't in the least lessen its truth and power. see next post above,..

Origen

04/05/2001 02:15:21 PM

"Simply because people find comfort in superstitions does not make them either real or even essential to the "very heart of Christianity." The Gospel Of Jesus Christ (the God-man) is no superstition. It is Mystery, and simply because the rationalistic, post-enlightenment mind of Western European influenced people cannot fathom the meaning of Mystery doesn't in the least lessen its truth and power. The Mystery of Christ's glorious Resurrection is the central Feast of Christianity. Its message is the bodily resurrection of Christ our God, reminding us that all matter, every single atom of this Universe will one day be transformed to unite to the Uncreated Light of Tabor. The day that God will be all in all (1 Cor. 15, 28). Agape, Origen

Origen

04/05/2001 02:11:32 PM

"Simply because people find comfort in superstitions does not make them either real or even essential to the "very heart of Christianity." The Gospel Of Jesus Christ (the God-man) is no superstition. It is Mystery, and simply because the rationalistic, post-enlightenment mind of Western European influenced people cannot fathom the meaning of Mystery doesn't in the least lessen its truth and power. The Orthodox East worships the God Who reveals Godself, whereas the rationalist worships his own intellect or a god created in the small box of rationalism. The Orthodox Church worships the God in whose image all free-willed beings were created, whereas the rationalist (if he worships a deity at all) worships a god created within the limits of his own understanding. A god not that different from what seems to be Spong's god. Agape, Origen

Origen

04/05/2001 02:01:31 PM

"That's just plain GOOFY. He's got the title - you just have a stolen name" Bishop is NOT a title, it is a ministry. A ministry God gave to the Church, and which can only function within the Church. A Church that Spong has rejected implicitly by rejecting and denying its Faith. Agape, Origen

DonJT

04/05/2001 01:36:19 PM

>>...suggests that all resurrected bodies lose the negative force of repulsion... May the FARCE be with you.

DonJT

04/05/2001 01:33:59 PM

>>and Spong's is certainly erratic, or even heretical, since his theology undermines the very heart of Christianity, thereby teaching a doctrine that hurts the soul, and keeps the spirit of a human seeking salvation locked away in darkness. WOW, what a load! Spong's writing gets to the heart of Christianity, which people like you have for 2000 yrs glossed over with ever thicker layers of superstitious varnish. Simply because people find comfort in superstitions does not make them either real or even essential to the "very heart of Christianity."

DonJT

04/05/2001 01:30:15 PM

>>Mr. Spong apparently seems to think he is a Bishop. ...his rejection of the essentials of Christianity alone testify to his not being a Bishop at all. That's just plain GOOFY. He's got the title - you just have a stolen name. Your narrowed minded view of Christianity does not define it for all peoples and all times.

Origen

04/05/2001 12:51:37 PM

Christ's resurrection was the victory that did away with death. It constituted therefore an ontological change and henceforth the spiritual body of glory could reappear in this world without being restrained by its laws. Christ could go through closed doors and appear and disappear in front of His disciples. These archetypical properties of the Lord's resurrected body suggests that all resurrected bodies lose the negative force of repulsion (hostility and solipsism) which characterizes the dark, dense, opaque aspect of matter, that is, the closed volume of objects in space. The resurrected body keeps, on the otherhand, the positive force of attraction (charity) and thus resistance and impenetrability are suppressed. This force allows the deified bodies to go 'through,' to be transparent, able to go anywhere, and totally receptive to communion." Paul Evdokimov "The Art of the Icon: a Theology of Beauty"

Origen

04/05/2001 12:41:33 PM

A suggestion I would like to make is to pay more attention to a true Bishop and teacher, such as St. John Chrysostom Bishop of Constantinople: A link to his Easter Sermon: http://www.ocf.org/features/EasterSermon.html From this short and simple sermon you will be able to draw much more "spiritual food" than from the three pages Spong has filled sharing his ideas on Easter. Agape, Origen

Origen

04/05/2001 12:35:06 PM

First read the messages below this one, and read from bottom to the top. Thát is the essence of heresy, teaching a doctrine that hurts, and that surpresses the truth by untruth, thereby sustaining darkness upon spirits seeking enlightenment. end post

Origen

04/05/2001 12:33:44 PM

The body is freed from its mortal burden by resurrection and is of a non-fleshly quality, but of a corporeal and very real form. That such is a fact for St. Paul was also recognized by such an un-orthodox theologian as Rudolf Bultmann. in his "Theologie des Neuen Testaments" he remarks that St. Paul was regretfully unable to undo himself from understanding the resurrection as such a tangible and "somatic" thing. Bultmann regrets St. Paul's need for "mythology". Thereby Bultmann clearly acknowledges that a more "liberal", "modern", or "less literal" understanding is NOT compattible to Pauline thinking! Going on St. Paul's directions, traditional Faith is quite correct, and Spong's is certainly erratic, or even heretical, since his theology undermines the very heart of Christianity, thereby teaching a doctrine that hurts the soul, and keeps the spirit of a human seeking salvation locked away in darkness. see next post

Origen

04/05/2001 12:32:48 PM

Spong wrongly assumes that the resurrection concerns the physical resuscitation of a corpse. First of all, the resurrection is NOT any such thing. It is not only a restoration to life it is the transformation of matter to deïfied matter (or glorified, redeemed, or whatever term you like to use of the "stuff" that makes up the resurrection body, soma pneumatikon ). What is resurrected is NOT Flesh (sarx) but body (soma) a distinction carefully applied by St. Paul. There is absolutely no trace in Spong's article of this very Paulin thought. Yet it is essential to Christianity. Spong misrepresents traditional teachings, and goes on to show how rediculous these teachings are. In fact, it is not the actual teachings that are rediculous, but Spong's misrepresentation of them and his own conclusions about the Mystery of Easter. see next post

Origen

04/05/2001 12:09:37 PM

Mr. Spong apparently seems to think he is a Bishop. Had he been, than his office would have been a teaching one indeed. However, his rejection of the essentials of Christianity alone testify to his not being a Bishop at all. His teaching is NOT that of the Church. The further he strays away from Holy Tradition, the less Christian his theology becomes. For Holy Tradition is "not only a protecting conservative principle, it is primarily the principle of growth and regeneration... Tradition is the constant abiding of the Spirit, and not only the memory of words. tradition is a charismatic, not an historical principle," wrote the great Russian Orthodox theologian George Florovsky. To stray from Holy Tradition is to stray from the Spirit of Truth, and the results are clearly visible in Spong's attempt to resuscitate the corpse of nineteenth and early twentieth century liberalism.

DonJT

04/05/2001 09:45:41 AM

>>But I do accept the Nicene Creed, which Spong rejects Obviously you didn't bother to finish "Why Christianity Must Change or Die" since Spong ultimately claims that he can read the Nicene Creed with "Integrity" once he has given his interpretation of it. But also, any one who spent more than five minutes studying the issue would quickly realize that other major faiths that use the creed also offer their own "spin" on it. The PCUSA, for example, has a 50 plus page explanation of the creed on their website - and just about every section begins with a line of the creed followed by "what we Really mean is..." So SPong is not being so radical as people like you claim.

sunnyboy143

04/05/2001 02:57:35 AM

Everyone should be aware that our subjective view, is just that, and in no way can completely understand nor define the 'Whole' of anything, most especially deity (D). There are mysteries in every belief system I have ever studied or even read about. We do the very best we can to understand the most we can on our subject; and go with that understanding. My understanding of Jesus and Easter is that in some way and somehow still lives because he must, from all the people his life has influenced. Even, if no more than My Grandfather, who taught me certain rules to live by, and I have passed them on to my Grandsons.

Narsil

04/05/2001 01:05:08 AM

Rt. Rev. Spong: 'A deceased man did not walk out of his grave physically alive three days after his execution by crucifixion... These legendary aspects of the Easter story are no longer viewed as literally true in the academic world of biblical scholarship.' G. K. Chesterton: '...the modern world will accept no dogmas upon any authority; but it will accept any dogmas on no authority. Say that a thing is so, according to the Pope or the Bible, and it will be dismissed as a superstition without examination. But preface your remark merely with "they say" or "don't you know that?" or try (and fail) to remember the name of some professor mentioned in some newspaper; and the keen rationalism of the modern mind will accept every word you say.' He who has ears, let him hear...

mohan75thomas

04/05/2001 12:41:03 AM

its a simple story.. A man attended a meeting where a learned man came up with the theory that the resurection has not taken place.Our man challenged him..He got up started having an orange.All the people were looking at him..after finishing the orange he asked the speaker whether the orange he ate was sour or sweet... He told he doesn't know... thats true..only those know Him(Jesus) can say that He is sweet.. And people hear this.... Your blind theory,..can never displace..that victory won on the cross...many have tried to uproot it..but History speaks... God bless

barrybynum

04/05/2001 12:01:11 AM

interesting to me that some people love to throw up that term 'medevial' when they describe the supposedly outdated nature of thought processes of those believing in the ressurection. Medevial times were marked by the things that were decided and even made law or punishment with a lack of any real evidence. Evidence: There is to date no eyewitness that has come forward to give any credible testimony to say that the ressurection of Jesus was a hoax, lie or mistake. Plain and simple fact. He was seen alive again by over 500 people, and even though a lot of powerbrokers had lots to gain by producing a credible testimony, non was produced. Evidence!

shiboleth

04/04/2001 08:58:56 PM

I cannot believe people would take verses from the Epistles of St. Peter as a source of proof for that the Bible is God-inspired. Many persons have died and continue to die for belief in Jesus Christ.

donald5

04/04/2001 08:38:29 PM

I CAN'T BELIEVE THIS QUESTION KEEPS COMING UP!!! Bishop Spong states that no credible New Testament scholar would defend this event. Since when does the bible really need to defend its contents. I believe somewhere in Peter's letters it is stated that ALL scripture is GOD BREATHED! That means men might have wrote it ,but God inspired it. It is suitable for teaching and instruction. Like it or not THAT'S WHAT IT SAYS!! God needs no defence. In regards to did this really happen--examine the evidence. During 3 1/2 years ,12 men followed Him. The tomb was surrounded by guards to prevent a theft of His body. In the end-1 committed suicide-10 suffered horrible deaths for their beliefs (Peter was crucified up side down)-and 1 was exciled to Patmos for the rest of his life. Why would anyone die for a hoax like that? It does not take a "conservative mind set" to look at the evidence presented and come to the same logical conclusion.

ldei

04/04/2001 08:30:39 PM

I'm LDS. And I find it amazing how protestants have come up with excuses on why they think the resurrection did not happen exactly, and excuses for ignoring much of the Bible. Or having some strange translation of a simple verse.

Narsil

04/04/2001 07:56:02 PM

Buxton saith: "I agree with Bishop Spong that Christianity is one of the biggest shams out there. This is the 21st century already. I can't believe that people still need to believe in a God..." Bravo, Buxton! You at least have the courage and honesty to say it plainly-- you reject the Christian religion because you believe there is no God. I can respect that. I wish the Rt. Rev. Spong were half so honest...

Narsil

04/04/2001 07:53:41 PM

Me: 'And I don't see why an atheist's opinion about the New Testament would be all that interesting to a Christian...' DonJT: 'And you obviously haven't read much of Spong's writings - being blinded by your own superstitious clinging to the Bible as the "literal, inerrant Word of God." ' Tsk, tsk. You should only use quotation marks when you're making a quotation. As it happens, I'm not a Biblical literalist (or, in your sense of the word, an "inerrantist"). But I do accept the Nicene Creed, which Spong rejects (explicitly, clause-by-clause, in "Why Christianity Must Change or Die", which (for my sins) I did indeed read). Spong says he believes in "God, but not a theistic God"... which means he uses the word "God" differently from everyone else. His perogative, and if we're mislead, it's own own fault. I don't worship "words on a page"-- but I do worship the risen Christ. You and Spong will understand when you meet Him...

Buxton

04/04/2001 06:29:04 PM

Well said DonJT. I agree with Bishop Spong that Christianity is one of the biggest shams out there. This is the 21st century already. I can't believe that people still need to believe in a God, let alone silly ideas such as the virgin birth, resurrection, etc. Somepeople still live in a medieval mindset. John Spong is one of the most influential leaders of the Episcopalian church to date. He has really strengthened my faith and has done much to evangalize our church in the right direction. We are now an earth based church that has picked up on new age spirituality.

DonJT

04/04/2001 05:28:33 PM

Given that Paul wrote 20 to 50 years before the Gospels were commited to paper and his are the only true first person narratives in the New Testament, I would think his statements on the ressurection event would take precedence over those written by followers of Apostles years do many years later.

DonJT

04/04/2001 05:24:41 PM

One problem I have is that most of the Spong bashers here have apparently never even read the Bible - just the words their ministers choose to misuse on Sunday mornings. Paul wrote that his meeting with Jesus was the same as the Apostles and the others, but Paul wrote of a dream-like encounter with a spiritual being, not a physical one. Paul wrote that "flesh and blood" cannot inherit the kingdom and that we are all raised in a new spiritual body. He also wrote that the resurrected body of Jesus is the Church.

DonJT

04/04/2001 05:21:30 PM

>>And I don't see why an atheist's opinion about the New Testament would be all that interesting to a Christian... And you obviously haven't read much of Spong's writings - being blinded by your own superstitious clinging to the Bible as the "literal, inerrant Word of God." You choose to worship words on a page, Spong seeks to worship God freed from your superstitions.

Karamazovna

04/04/2001 05:15:14 PM

(continued from below) b) all of the ideological principles of the Magna Carta are in fact "right" as opposed to the Biblical "wrong." Note also the clever metonymy which identifies the Bible with those who would use it to further their own ideological interests. Mr. Spong seems, in his rush to have all "literalist Christians" question their assumptions, to have forgotten to question his own.

Karamazovna

04/04/2001 05:14:21 PM

I have to hand it to Mr. Spong-- each time I read any of his work I am forced to admit that he is a master of rhetoric. His technique is very subtle, but also nothing new; one of the most powerful ways to sway an audience of uncritical readers is to make conclusive statements based on unspoken premises which, if stated, would be evident as, if not immediately false, at least presumptuous. For example: "The Bible was wrong in 1215 when it was used to oppose the Magna Carta and to uphold the divine right of kings." The implied premises, of course, are that a) the content of the Bible actually does, in some way, oppose the ideological principles of the Magna Carta and that those attempting to employ the text were using it in a purely exegetical manner, without any culturally or socially influenced hermeneutic attitudes which would cause them to misinterpret the Biblical text. Also that (continued...)

Narsil

04/04/2001 04:58:48 PM

+Spong writes: "Let me be specific... A deceased man did not walk out of his grave physically alive three days after his execution by crucifixion. The risen Jesus did not walk, talk, eat, teach or invite the disciples to handle his physical flesh." And *that*, friends, is the answer to all of you who say, "Spong is just asking questions!" Spong is indeed asking questions-- but he starts from the premise, here made explicit, that there is no God (I beg your pardon, no "Theistic God") and there are no miracles. In short, he's an atheist. And I don't see why an atheist's opinion about the New Testament would be all that interesting to a Christian... Kalli anastasi!

Narsil

04/04/2001 04:55:47 PM

The inimitable (thank Heaven!) Rt. Rev. Spong writes, "Does anyone really think, for example, that a physical resuscitation of a body dead for three days is actually possible?" It's a *miracle*, Rt. Rev. It goes against our understanding of the physical world-- because the Christian claim (also the Moslem and Jewish claim) is that God is bigger than the world, made it, made its rules, and can do whatever He wants. You don't need to ask whether our "post-modern world" can accept the resurrection. We know precisely as much on this matter as the 1st-century Jews did-- we know that dead bodies don't just get up and start walking around. It takes a miracle to make that happen.

cory2992

04/04/2001 04:16:38 PM

Every time I read something Bishop Spong has written, I wonder why he chooses to remain a Christian if he doesn't believe everything one who has faith believes. I am a literalist Christian and a conservative Christian, so Bishop Spong and I will never agree on most subjects. All I really know for sure is that Jesus is my Saviour and He is alive.

shiboleth

04/04/2001 03:32:02 PM

"Fundamentalism" is intellectual suicide. Bishop Spong challenges one's beliefs in a classically liberal way. He forces Christians to think about what they believe. Should his work destroy your faith? No. The New Testament is the reflection of experience of Early Church. It was not handed to us in the King James Version (while beautifully written). It is sacred because it is the fundamental source of our Christian faith. While it is our faith in Jesus Christ, "the Good Shepherd", that will give us eternal life, Christianity is more than just believing. We are called, as disciples, to live "Christ-like" lives and bring our experience of God in Jesus to all, Christian or non-Christian. Once we can shed our ignorance and naive misunderstandings, which I, too, am plagued by, we can come out of the darkness and walk in the Light, which is Christ Jesus. Bishop Spong is a good shepherd (not THE good shepherd, but a good shepherd).

princeszee

04/04/2001 02:11:21 PM

First of all I am a CHRISTIAN!! I do believe in Adam and Eve, and the virgin birth of our Lord and Saviour Jesus Christ!! I do follow his teachings because he is Gods son, he is part of the holy trinity (God,Jesus and the Holy Spirit). I am proud to be a believer of the WORD of God!! I am praying for all who do not believe in our Lord.

Ruven@heresy

04/04/2001 12:49:23 PM

Christianity has always been a religion which adopted and dropped various beliefs so that its tenets coincided with the subconscious needs of its followers. Many Christians, however, prefer to live in historical ignorance with no knowledge of how and when Christianity altered its beliefs to fit the times. Christinaity now covers so many people, that the range of subconscious needs spans the lucid to the insanely morbid. Some need a religion that shuns ignorant superstitions, while other people's subconscious minds are filled with twisted fears and spiritual demons. To keep these insanities in check, they need to hold onto weird beliefs. EAMPLE: Some people gain emotional satisfaction from the cannibalistic devouring of the flesh of a dead man-god; other people find such a primitive and violent ritual to be repulsive. It takes a primitive mind to need to hold onto the idea of a physical resurrection.

purple-luna-spirit

04/04/2001 10:26:46 AM

This entire discussion reminds me of the lines of Judas in Heaven on Their Minds in the rock opera, Jesus Christ Superstar, especially the part that goes "You've begun to matter more than than the things you say." My point is this: Does it matter? Isn't the real point of memorializing someone... indeed... worshipping someone... a statement of belief in the thoughts, words and deeds of that individual...? I'm very surprised there aren't more postings that describe the meaning of Easter in terms of how he lived rather than in terms of the details of his death.

enarcheenhologos

04/04/2001 07:54:28 AM

Regarding Bishop Spong's point about what Paul may or may not have believed about the resurrection; Paul's silence in 1 cor 15 is a shakey pillar upon which to build an argument. Paul was writing to an assembly that he himself had founded. Would he have thought it necessary to recount the entire resurrection story? What he does tell us in that chapter is that he saw the resurrection as the central pillar of his Christianity--an by extension those to whom he had preached.

enarcheenhologos

04/04/2001 07:50:33 AM

Bishop Spong's assertion that "no creditable New Testament scholar in the world, Protestant or Catholic, will defend those simplistic propositions" is less than creditable itself. I suggest that he or others interested in a credible, scholarly presentation of bodily resurrection begin with with a book coauthored with Marcus Borg and N. T. Wright entitled, The Meaning of Jesus. They debate the very same issues raised by Spong. They disagree, but take each other's positions seriously. Does Spong afford those who disagree with him the same courtesy? Questions regarding the credibility of the gospel accounts and the nature/historicity of the resurrection are important. Christianity may not stand or fall on the historical answers. However, exploration of these questions have the potential to drastically change Christianity as we know it.

bonilloa

04/04/2001 03:00:54 AM

"Jesus Christ" was created by Paul. He took beliefs Jews had about the messiah, mixed with Wisdom tales, modified info from Essenes (Dead SS) about a "Teacher" who was betrayed and died...and had an idea. Paul/others in Jerus. thought that Jesus Christ had come and died IN THE UNSPECIFIED PAST. Paul never says when he died. Paul says this Jesus died an obscure death. Jesus was never recognized in his glory while on earth. ALAS, people had started reporting "visions" of a risen Jesus. Even Paul had one. These appearances proved that their belief in the resurrection of the dead IS true! Jesus was the very proof by being the first fruit of the resurrection of the dead. Later, Ignatius, wanting to kill the *docetic* gnostics (who said Jesus SEEMED to have been human) uses bishop authority to prove Jesus was really human by stating details about his life. Mark modifies Ignatius, creates basic storyline...Matt/Luke copy...the rest is "history"

sundialer

04/04/2001 01:29:10 AM

tmaster1, you must think we are all brainless idiots..."Jesus in Kashmir!" That dubious theory instigated by Nicholas Notovitch was blown out of the water long ago. I could care less about some documents you are GOING to deluge us with or that is GOING to be revealed or about your english translations on a website because until you make any of these alledged documents available in their original form for world scrutiny and biblical scholarship to analyze they will be regarded just as they should...as non-historical legends and fantasies. The facts as you would have us to believe them do not accord with the facts that we actually do have and seeing that you and others like you who subscribe to this theory that Jesus was a wanderer in India, etc. only have vague and elusive facts to offer the rest of us...I really don't see any credible reason to grant you any authority in the matter. As the old saying goes..."A text in the hand is worth two waiting to be dug up."

Zen-Hippie-4-Jesus

04/04/2001 01:05:28 AM

Concerning Mr. Spong's statement concerning those who believe Christianity's survival depends on a solid belief in the resurrection of Jesus: " . . . no credible New Testament scholar in the world, Protestant or Catholic, will defend those simplistic propositions." The above is such a biased, unfounded generalization that there is no need to read further. There are plenty of credible scholars, both Protestant and Catholic, who believe the resurrection of Christ as an historical event is the very bedrock of the Christian religion. My note to any who care to read (apologies to Dr. Suess): don't bother with this silly Mr. Sprong, this Mr. Sprong; to read beyond what I have quoted is to read too long!!!

rgleyva

04/03/2001 10:35:56 PM

We, as Christians must be wary of false teachers and what they want us to believe. We must be well founded in the Bible and build on the Rock of our salvation which is Jesus Christ. God bless all of you. May he open your heart to His Word. May he watch over you and fill you with the Holy Spirit. I ask all this the name of Jesus. Amen

tmaster1

04/03/2001 07:10:42 PM

Gnort, what your teachers in your senior year in high school DID NOT tell you is that there exist individuals *and* groups who have dedicated themselves to revealing information that so-called "credible" sources are either ignorant of, or afraid to deal with. Anyone who's been around the block KNOWS that the filtered and sanitized "peer reviewed journals," are NOT always the best place to find *truth.* Jesus himself was speaking as an individual. He had no backing whatsoever from "credible authroties," and he didn't *want* such backing, because all the "credible" authorities were corrupt. [NEXT POST]

tmaster1

04/03/2001 06:55:18 PM

BeachBoy, I have no desire whatsoever to be a Christian. Nor do I desire to be "saved" by a man who was nailed to a cross. My "salvation" is dependant upon the Mercy of God; upon the Grace of God; and upon MY hard work at being righteous. Jesus was a physical human being, not a god. For almost 2000 years people have been waiting for him to come back. The reason he has not come back after all this time is simple: He's dead. His physical remains are under the earth, beneath the Roza Bal mausoleum, located in the Kan Yar section of the city of Srinagar, Kashmir, India. I already mentioned the documents a few posts back that deal with this reality; not to mention the 1900-year ORAL traditions of the people of Kashmir.

tmaster1

04/03/2001 06:50:20 PM

Here's the reality: Spong is not a radical. Nor is Thomas Sheehan. Nor is Robert Funk. Nor is the entire crew of the Jesus Seminar. These people are Christian Revisionists who see the handwriting on the wall, and are trying to RECASTE Christianity to accomodate the coming deluge of documents, traditions, etc., that are GOING to be revealed concerning Jesus. They have known for a long time about Jesus in Kashmir, and have been slowly trying to SAVE Christian doctrine by slyly incorporating the truth from the East, located in the documents I mentioned a couple of posts back. Funk's goal is not to destroy Christianity--he's trying to SALVAGE it, knowing that its doctrines were proved incorrect a long time ago.

TheBeachBoy

04/03/2001 06:46:59 PM

I believe in the resurrection. Christ, being the literal Son of God and being born of a mortal, had the characteristic of being able to live forever (as His and our Father in Heaven has) and the ability to die. From this, He allowed the Romans to crucify him. He did it as a sacrifice, to replace the sacrificing of lambs as in the Old Testament. He was the ultimate sacrifce. To give us the chance to live forever with our Father in Heaven (God, as most call Him), Christ gave us the gift of resurrection. If you don't believe me, then pray about it with a sincere heart, earnestly seeking an answer. If you don't recieve a posistive answer, I cannot help you, as with anything in the Bible, it really does boil down to faith.

tmaster1

04/03/2001 06:45:10 PM

On December 10, 1999, we promised to present the previously-mentioned documents at the website. We fulfilled that promise. Let me state that though we do not promise more documents, we are fairly confident that we *will* dig out many more documents as time goes by. How many more Easters will pass before people finally realize that the body of Jesus lies dead and buried in the Roza Bal mausoleum (picture at the website).

tmaster1

04/03/2001 06:41:37 PM

It is not possible for a Western Christian to know exactly what happened at the crucifixion. The reason it is not possible is because people like Spong have not read the many documents of the East the tell what happened to Jesus after he survived the crucifixion. Documents such as the Bhavishya Mahapurana, The Glass Mirror, the Tarikh-i-Kashmir, the Tarikh-i-Kashmir-i-Kabir, the Wajees-ut-Tawareek, Ikmal-ud-Din, the Rauzat-us-Safat, the Qisa Shazada, the Bagh-i-Sulaiman, the writings amongst the Followers of Jesus of Afghanistan. Those documents are available at The Tomb of Jesus Christ Website (with English translations). Western Christians have monopolized an Eastern man, then tried to "explain" what happened to him. The above documents indicate that he survived the crucifixion PHYSICALLY as a normal human being.

daturah

04/03/2001 06:37:07 PM

Personally, I think it's a metaphor for how his philosophy continued to live on through his disciples. However, it's a matter of faith. I'm hardly going to present anything as truth.

Psionycx

04/03/2001 06:26:09 PM

You know, the major reason I adore Bishop Spong is that he likes to make people think about there faith. He takes a lot of criticism for it certainly. But his outrageous stances on Biblical issues are meant to make people really look at their beliefs instead of just repeating them from memory. Those that can endure the shock often find their faith strengthened immeasurably by the experience. And that's a good thing.

Spiritous

04/03/2001 04:17:52 PM

My personal firsthand knowledge of 'resurrection', came as a child. My cat was very ill. Mom took me into the back room to show me Cocoa (maybe to prepare me for the inevitable...) there he lay , in his catbox (!) with ants crawling in and out of who knows where. I remember mumbling something, about how I loved him, or something, and the next day Mom was so freaked out. Cocoa had nothing wrong with him. He was completely well and lived for many years more. To this day, my mom thinks that I brought him back from the dead, with my innocence and love. You know, now that I am a healer, I also know that this is what happened.

WonderousWMU

04/03/2001 04:16:43 PM

.. cont, Part 2 .. In reading the Bible while taking in consideration of who wrote it, other recorded history of the times that it cites, etc., one can understand that it was written by many many *MEN*, inspired by God the same way many of you are here on this website -- and it is not inerrant. To think that the Bible *MUST* be inerrant is missing the point. The Bible is a creation of man about history and living one's life well - through experiences of others a long, long time ago. You don't pick and choose your morals through them, you see the discrepancies and the mishaps, but understand the central meaning of the book.

WonderousWMU

04/03/2001 04:13:03 PM

Roarick... It isn't that God isn't capable of creation, it's whether Jesus actually rose from the dead - or if he's the stuff legends are made of. Just because Jesus may not have risen from the dead, doesn't mean anything about God's potential. And to believe the Bible LITERALLY is not the only way - nor are other ways "Watered-down", either. Many read, study, and feel the Bible in the time and context in which it was written.

Spiritous

04/03/2001 04:12:23 PM

Personally I have been working this one out for 25 years. Tons of reasoning and study and debate and research=I just keep confirming one thing---Yes he did. Two supporting facts. One second hand the other first hand. Several Masters of eastern philosophies, have done similar works. Leaving behind bodies that wer eincorruptable...not because of physical conditions as in desert mummies---but becaue they were Holy men with knowledge of Spirituality beyond the public 'knowing'. Some cases, the hair and nails were all that were left. these things can be found and so how is it that hard to believe that Jesus was taught likewise? I have friends who believe the whole thing was a scam, some trance or drug that made it appear that he had died. But trickery is not necessary, with the writings from Oriental Masters...Which are not fake because there is alot of knowledge there. My husband is firsthand witness to "chi".

roarick

04/03/2001 03:59:13 PM

I believe Christ arose and appeared to many. Details such as those mentioned by Dr. Spong, could be reported as recalled by individuals. Bonified witnesses often do not recall the exact details. This material really didn't matter - such as who saw the risen Christ first etc. If God isn't capable of creation, resurrection etc., then he really isn't GOD, now, is He? Why bother with Christianity if one does not believe the Bible?

DonJT

04/03/2001 03:55:34 PM

>>Maybe Mark came back and added from verse 9 on of the last chapter in order to clear up accusations that he didn't support the resurrection. If you'd bother to read up on Biblical history, you'd know that passage didn't appear until many decades after the oldest known copies. Long after the original author and his followers were long dead and gone. It happens. God didn't write it, people did and people changed it.

longhornmo

04/03/2001 02:56:30 PM

Bishop Spong says the "original version" of Mark doesn't even mention Jesus' appearance after the resurrection. I wonder what "afterward Jesus himself sent them out..." is supposed to mean. I don't pretend to be a scholar like Bishop Spong, but the Resurrection was an issue that called for a decision from the beginnings of Christianity. Maybe Mark came back and added from verse 9 on of the last chapter in order to clear up accusations that he didn't support the resurrection. Who knows for sure. The gospels seem somewhat like the blind men describing the elephant. One of them tells you about the trunk, another about the tail. That doesn't mean they aren't describing the same elephant.

michele_tambunan

04/03/2001 02:35:30 PM

A little humour.... Recently, at a theological meeting in Rome, scholars had a heated debate on this subject. One by one, they offered their evidence. THREE PROOFS THAT JESUS WAS JEWISH 1. He went into His Father's business 2. He lived at home until he was 33 3. He was sure his Mother was a virgin, and his Mother was sure he was God JESUS WAS ITALIAN 1. He talked with his hands 2. He had wine with every meal 3. He used olive oil JESUS WAS A CALIFORNIAN 1. He never cut his hair 2. He walked around barefoot 3. He started a new religion But perhaps the most compelling evidence .......... THAT JESUS WAS A WOMAN ...... 1. He had to feed a crowd at a moment's notice when there was no food 2. He kept trying to get the message across to a bunch of men who JUST DIDN'T GET IT 3. Even when He was dead, He had to get up because there was more work for him to do

michele_tambunan

04/03/2001 02:10:43 PM

To Jeff Faris Your question moot. I, a blond in Indonesia, am still seen as a rich and raunchy symbol when being married to an Indonesian, I am actually quite poor and dumpy looking. When people stop looking at the physical and start seeing the spiritual, then there is a kind of equality. Especially when one respects another as a creation of God.

jeff_faris

04/03/2001 01:37:45 PM

What exactly is the difference between Black and Non-Black America? This then is what needs to be repaired. And should this repairation take the form of wealth, or the capacity to build wealth? A step ladder or the ability to stand on equal footing with the powers that shape America?

DougDL

04/03/2001 01:28:24 PM

yonatron, Absolutely. As it says in the Padgett messages, "This is not the Resurrection of Jesus that I declared "without which is our faith as Christians vain," but is the common resurrection that is applicable to all mankind of every nation and race, whether they have a knowledge of Jesus or not. And many times, in many nations, it has been demonstrated, even before the coming of Jesus, that men had died and appeared again as living spirits in the form of angels and men, and that they were recognized by mortal men as spirits who had had a previous earth existence..."

DougDL

04/03/2001 01:23:39 PM

Right on Molt! You got it! Of course, I sound like Mr. Smartypants here, but the truth is that I peeked in the answer book. The physical resurrection of Jesus was not the "basis" of Jesus' Gospel, it was simply a very powerful "sign", which was needed to convince the disciples that Jesus was indeed not a "failed Messiah". It is the materialistic mind that needs to latch onto a dramatic physical occurrence such as the crufiction and resurrection as the basis for their "faith". But as Jesus said, his true Kingdom is not "of this earth". It has nothing to do with physical bodies. The true Resurrection which Jesus taught was a resurrection from spiritual death. See: http://www.truths.com/ch13-1.htm

yonatron

04/03/2001 01:21:39 PM

A Jewish point of view: Resurrection from the dead is not a proof of divinity. Whether it happened or not may be relevant from the historical or story-flow point of view, but don;t confuse it with proof of divinity. Lot's of people in those days were on the level where they could resurrect the dead. A more important point for Christians should be: What are Jesus' teachings and are they correct? Y.

Niyse

04/03/2001 12:31:15 PM

Do you remember how that after the resurrection, Jesus came through the wall where the disciples were sitting having dinner & discussing their fate? Do you remember how Thomas wouldn't believe until he could feel the scars on Jesus' hands & side? Do you really think that Thomas would be convinced by anything less than that? He recognized Jesus as his own familiar friend & Lord.

kerouac

04/03/2001 10:22:30 AM

why don't you guys just stick with Frederica Mathewes-Green's peice. Obviously, you have an ax to grind with Shelby Spong's piece. What's that about ?

Molt33

04/03/2001 09:16:25 AM

Part 6, What sort of vindication is this. This is where we have to be careful of placing our context back onto the text. We have developed ingenius theories concerning resurrection, namely the idea that is a "spiritual awakening," or some other sort of ghostly idea. But was this the case in 1century Judaism? I do not think so, it seems unlikely to me that Paul would stake his life on a concept or an idea, a spiritual awakening. His encounter on the road to damascus could not have been easily mistaken. He saw the Living Lord Jesus. He saw God's messiah vindicated and seated at God's right hand. Paul would never invested his transformation to some important concept only to God's reality.

Molt33

04/03/2001 09:06:39 AM

Part 5, The resurrection becomes the launching point of this Christian religion. This is God's validation or vindication of Jesus and his messiahship. This was the impetus that drove the disciples to rethink everything, to begin scouring the Jewish scriptures and to reinterpret them in light of Jesus. Hopefully this demostrates the importance of a resurrection contrary to Spong's point. However, it does not yield a bodily resurrection by default. There is another step we have to take.

Molt33

04/03/2001 09:02:07 AM

Part 4, Jesus' was a signification that God had abandoned him. The idea was that if God was in favor of Jesus he would not have let him suffer such a death. This was a common thread, a thread that the Jewish leaders were banking on. This should have been the end of any Jesus movement (hence the scattering of the disciples). This is where the resurrection comes into play.

Molt33

04/03/2001 08:55:49 AM

Part 3, Spong, and Green to some extent, miss the point of the text. The resurrection, the bodily resurrection, is a vindication of Jesus, namely Jesus as the Messiah. First, we must think properly about the cross. We have been taught to envision the cross through the eyes of atonement alone. But, the historicity of the cross (an historical event not discounted by any NT scholars worth their weight in salt) meant other things to. It was a shameful way to die, and it was the place that failed messiahs went to die. The key term being failure. The disciples believed on that Friday that Jesus had failed them.

Molt33

04/03/2001 08:49:48 AM

Part 2, Spong would object at this point stating that the NT is a biased document and that it is filled with exaggeration. He may be right. However, it is important to note that no historical document is without bias. Spong seems to believe that there are "objective Facts" in our world, untainted by our bias. This is by far the biggest fairy tale of them all. His committment to such fable cripples his interpretive framework.

Molt33

04/03/2001 08:45:12 AM

Ker has made a good distinction. It is important to note that there is a difference between what happened to Jesus and what happened to Lazarus. However, I would like to add some more wood for the fire. Regardless of what we are talking about now, the NT authors thought it extremely important that we understand Jesus' resurrection as a bodily one (although different than just resucitation). There are at least two occassions where Jesus meets with the disciples. The key is that he walks through the door like a spirit being and (here is the kicker) he eats with them. What is important is that the food does not fall onto the ground. It is consumed by Jesus. This may seem insignficant, but the early church struggled with understandings of a "spiritual resurrection," and passages like these point to a bodily resurrection.

Keruri

04/03/2001 07:44:22 AM

Maybe I wasn't listening close enough in religion class, but I never understood the resurrected Jesus to be literally a resuscitated human body walking around. When we die, we don't expect our bodies to pop up out of the ground and then be sucked up into heaven to live the next life (I mean, we're not Egyptian here). Jesus died to forgive our sins, so that we could be reborn spiritually in the next life. Why would his experience be any different than the one we will all undergo? Anyway, whether you agree with me on that subject or not, one should surely accept that there are probably many Christians out there who never took the resurrection to mean the literal resuscitation of a body, but rather a rebirth of the soul. Since there are differing texts, there will always be those who believe differently. But that's a good thing. It keeps our faith so active and introspective, and a true faith that is examined only grows stronger.

rosepainter

04/03/2001 01:33:07 AM

Read Lee Stroebel's "A Case for Christ" and "A Case for Faith". If I ever had any doubts at all, Lee stomped them into the ground once and for all! The books are AWESOME. But the Bible is the foundation for my faith. I believe because I choose to. I see the results of my belief in Christ as well: His promises fulfilled in my life and a deep down happiness I never had before I new HIM! Jesus Christ is in fact, the only "religion" that makes sense.

Silverbee

04/02/2001 11:20:46 PM

Paul says in 1 Corinthians 15:17, "And if Christ be not raised, your faith is vain; ye are yet in your sins." Spong says, "I hear well-meaning but not necessarily well-informed religious leaders say such things as, "If the biblical story of Easter is not literally true, if there is no physical resurrection of Jesus, then Christianity will surely die."... However, no creditable New Testament scholar in the world, Protestant or Catholic, will defend those simplistic propositions." I'll go with Paul. He was a BELIEVER.

rgleyva

04/02/2001 05:26:26 PM

Basically I'm saying that the Bible is our way of knowing what God's says is right. When we begin to deviate from that path, no matter how good our intentions are, we are being disobedient to God. This world provides us with so many reasonable sounding reasons and logical arguments as to why the Bible is not applicable to our modern "world". But we are not of this world, we have been bought with a price. I have a relationship with Christ that is backed by every word in the Bible. If I lie to you, will you still believe me when I tell you something that doesn't make sense to you?

rgleyva

04/02/2001 05:10:29 PM

DougDL, my beliefs and faith are besed on the Word of God as written in the Bible. I believe the Bible is the truth. There for I can be assured that God's grace and mercy has been made available because of the promises made in the Bible. If the Bible is a lie, I have lost all assures of the true Word of God. I then have a feel good religion but thats all. I stand on the Bible as being the truth because God has revealed himself to us all through this magnificent book. The covers of a Bible can contain the pages of the Bible, but the entire universe cannot contain the grace, mercy and wisdom that is in the Bible.

SugarMango

04/02/2001 04:14:43 PM

If Jesus didn't resurrect, then many other of christianity's beliefs may not be valid also.

tarrantf

04/02/2001 03:40:17 PM

Molt, I'd rather ask the question: Can Christianity survive without the resuscitation of Jesus's corpse? It has for nearly 2000 years! Resurrection is a wonderful mystery that is personal for each of us as Christians. The resurrected Body of Christ is the Church: we are the body of Christ because he lives within us.

Molt33

04/02/2001 02:34:56 PM

This is the key point. Spong does not believe that historicity can support the resurrection and Green conceedes with her subjectivist account that even so we know "he lives." The odd thing to me is that both come to the same conclusions. Namely, the actuality of the resurrection is not the point, but our experience of faith, our experience of God. This seems to be the heart of the matter. Can Christianity survive without a resurrection? What would it look like?

DougDL

04/02/2001 01:28:26 PM

rgleyva , all you're saying is that your faith is based on a book, rather then on a personal relationship with God. To the degree that one realizes that "God's Word" has indeed been written "in their heart" one's faith does not stand or crumble on the basis of the accuracy of this book. As Green said, I do not need to worry about the precise nature of the Resurrection, because I know that Jesus "lives" - I talk with him every day...

rgleyva

04/02/2001 11:00:17 AM

Yes it is important that the resurection was a real event. Its recorded in the Bible as a historical event. If the Bible is God's Word and contains lies or misinformation, how can we trust it as a basis for our faith. Minor differences in the resurection story doesn't mean it didn't happen, it means it was told by different people from different points of view. If the Bible is not trustworthy on the historical events of Jesus' life, how can we be sure of the rest of his ministry. If you "prove" the Bible is wrong, what have you got that is worth believing? New Age is a lot easier to live by and you don't have to worry about being proved wrong. Thank you, but no thank you. Every honest attempt to prove the Bible wrong has ended up confirming the Bible is accurate adn the truth.

Molt33

04/02/2001 09:10:57 AM

Is it important that the Resurrection is a real event? I think that both of our authors here suggest a negative answer to this question. It seems that Bishop Spong can find no clear and distinct objective facts to support Resurrection, while Green doesnt want to be bothered by such historical inquiries. Spong seems to want us to see that Christianity can still exist without the Resurrection as a "fact." This is the real question for us to answer. Green is already a step ahead of Spong, because she has moved the resurrection from the realm of history into the subjective realm. This would open up a way for Christianity to exist without an actual resurrection.

trust3god

04/01/2001 10:14:18 PM

I believe that God is the Godhead of the Trinity God the Father, Jesus Christ the Son and The Holy Ghost, and Jesus is His Son who died on the cross for my sins, and The Holy Ghost is the Spirit of God who dwells within,and brings about change from the inside is revealed on the outside. Genesis 1:26,:And God said, Let us make man in our image, after our likeness..." The Trinity is at work there, however Jesus Christ is concealed in the Old Testament and Jesus Christ is revealed the New Testament. John 1:1 "IN the beginning was the Word, and the Word was with God, and the Word was God." God said in His word that is as expedient that He go, and that another would come after Him. Praise God! The Holy Ghost. If it were not for the power of the Holy Ghost that dwells within in me, I would not be able to fight the evilness of the devil which I face each and everyday. However with GOD"I can do all things through Christ Jesus who strengthens me."

rgleyva

04/01/2001 09:08:20 PM

Read the Bible. It has to be believed as the Word of God or get another belief system that is easier to take. We are not given the choice of picking and chosing the parts we want to follow and the parts we want ignore. 1 Sam 6:18,19 seventy died for looking in the Ark 2 Sam 6:6 Uzzah died trying to keep the Ark from falling Its the Bible that says this happened. I have to assume God wished us to believe this and know it happened. Blasphemy is speaking evil of God. Imerely believe what he said.

rgleyva

04/01/2001 08:46:24 PM

Do you believe that people, good people, are going to hell just because they don't accept Jesus as their savior? Doesn't that sound harsh? Telling the Jews to wipe out everybody in Canaan as a divine judgement against them and so the Jews, his chosen people, could occupy the land. Doesn't sound harsh? God loves each of us but he is a God of justice. If you are not covered by the blood of Jesus, forgiven by God's grace. We are destined for hell. Harsh but that is what we deserve.

DougDL

04/01/2001 04:47:04 PM

Certainly God is the same now and forever. That the Bible accurately describes this unchanging God suggests a fate worse than death. Would you actually want to spend an eternity with a God that once demanded the death of someone who *accidentally* bumped into His Ark? With all due respect, I would suggest that to believe that God is capable of such blatant, cruel injustice is to subscribe to blasphemy. Yes, God never changes. God is Love, yesterday, today, and forever... Don't take my word for it, ASK GOD! :-)

rgleyva

04/01/2001 03:41:23 AM

Christianity Christianity is not a religion for those who want to satisfy everyone and not offend anyone. God is the same today as he was yesterday and will be tomorrow. Read the Old Testament. He doesn't change. He wasn't afraid to pass judgement then and still passes judgement now using the same rules and standards. The Old Testament is about how God deals with people groups. The New Testament is about how he deals with individuals who have accepted His son as their Savior.

rgleyva

04/01/2001 03:34:06 AM

Concerning Bishop Spong He doesn't believe that the Old Testament should apply to how we percieve God's intention on how we are to live our lives. Check out his web page "http://www.dioceseofnewark.org/jsspong/". Read his "Catechesis On Homosexuality". Here is a man whos is ready to do what ever it takes to make everyone comfortable with Christianity, no matter what part of the Word of God he has to sacrifice. This includes watering down God's stated will in the Bible. Read his address to the 125th Convention of the Diocese of Newark, its on his web page. Here is a man full I and me. Yes, he has accomplished alot according to the address given to the convention and he's ready to take the credit for it.

rgleyva

04/01/2001 03:33:02 AM

Concerning Bishop Spong I have a problem with Bishop Spong's article. I wouldn't want to be involved in a "religion" based on fairy tales, myths and exagerations. Yet, here is man who has risen to the top of his chosen field and believes that the very book that his "religion" is based on, the Bible, is full of myths and fairy tales.

supremeevil

04/01/2001 01:55:47 AM

Xristgape, Thank you friend. I didn't mean humans are my enemy. I have no human enemies. Mine are the ones cast away from Father. They are the ones I battle daily and in the literal sense at times.

starrcross

03/31/2001 11:12:50 PM

darnay2 Thank you! That is how I understood Bishop Spong's and Mathewes-Green's articles, exactly! Spong only said he didn't believe that Jesus was i>resucitated back to his earthly existance, but was raised to a new way of being, one that was very difficult for witnesses to describe. There isn't anything to argue about.

darnay2

03/31/2001 10:15:56 PM

mathewes-Green asserts essentially the same thing, only in terms of our personal realtionship with the divine in today's world. To say that we experience the resurrection in our lives is not to say that Christ is currently being physically re-animated in God's mad science lab. Nor do I think this was the case 2 millenia ago. Spong warns us about basing our religion on misinterpretations of mythology. mathewes-green supplies ample proof for Spong's argument because she has nothing to say that counters it. She focuses on the personal relationship we have with the divine in the here-and-now. It is a relationship akin to the one the Apostles wrote about and knew. Also, stop this petty arguing over non-issues. 2000 years is enough bickering.

darnay2

03/31/2001 10:11:12 PM

Hello?? Is anyone listening?? These two columnists are not in fundamental disagreement. Once again, we wise thinkers have concocted a new false-reason to argue with one another. Christians are historically very good at that. On one page, we have Bishop Spong, who does not seem to think that the bodily resurrection of Christ is what really happened at the first easter moment. He sees the resurrection of Christ as a mystical, spiritual event in the lives of Christs first Apostles and believers, and event so profound that it came in later years to be mythologized as a 'resurrection". This is chronologically correct.

DougDL

03/31/2001 01:28:58 PM

I was so delighted to read William James "Varieties of Religious Experience" not too long ago, to hear the words of a wonderfully perceptive man who pointed out the simple tendency of humans to create an "overbelief" on top of their personal religious experiences. In that book James advocated the development of a "science" of religion, applying the same techniques as used in other areas of research. And he so rightly pointed out that our knowledge of religious subjects might be so much further along if we had been doing this for the last two thousand years -- instead of angrily killing all who do not subscribe to the exact identical overbelief as we do.

DougDL

03/31/2001 01:28:26 PM

As rhemlow and others confirm by their testimony, the question as to the nature of Jesus' resurrection is ultimately not of great relevance. What truly matters is whether a person has developed a personal relationship with God -- a deep, committed "romance", "hopelessly in love" with our Creator. For those who have, this relationship is more real than anything else, and needs no further proof as to its reality.

rhemlow

03/31/2001 10:41:31 AM

I think it is very important to be able to debate your faith. Truth will never be hurt by honest observations and honest questioning. Surely God can handle it.... The bottom line for me is that it really doesn't matter...physical or spiritual resurection....HE is risen and alive. I know this because of the work HE has done in my life. The Bible says that we will become like HIM and that's good enough for me!!

Xristgape

03/31/2001 04:01:29 AM

There is a sweet romance in simply knowing the Ressurected Jesus, His Spirit is a sweet aroma, and just being able to as Frederia writes about sitting over a cup of coffee and just talking with Him, its a sweet romance and not many know what thats like. It's not about turning Jesus into a feeling but it's about a sweetness that comes from allowing the Holy Spirit entrance into your life. The more of yourself you give over to God, the more you become aware of His sweet presence...It really is a romance :)

Xristgape

03/31/2001 03:57:44 AM

supreme, "For our battle is not against flesh and blood..." Your enemy is my enemy, but know who your enemy is, "but against the powers, the principalities against the spiritual forces and rulers of this dark world..." Those who do not yet know the true and living God are not our enemy, they are simply lost and we need to show them what real love is through the power of the Holy Spirit given to us by the Risen Lord. Know how to battle with love and truth, if you have not love, you are nothing. Jesus is our strength, and I encourage you brother, to fight the fight for truth but always do all things with love, and not an earthly love but with a love that comes from the one true God. -Jon

supremeevil

03/31/2001 12:59:28 AM

Chistianity is not about feeling good or spiritual. It is about a personal relationship with the Son of God, through whom we are saved. My experiences with my Lord and his enemy can not be defined as spiritual or physical since the two are inseparable. I am not here to conform or make friends. I have a clear understanding of who the enemy is. Wiccans, Cathololics, Mormons, Satanists, Protestants, Hindus, Jews, and all others need to turn to Christ and turn away from their selfish ways or face the unmentionable. Jesus is the Son of God, he is God, and all things were created through him. Deny this and you deny God. This is just the truth. A great sadness overcomes me to know many will not know him. He is real. He lives! Reach out to him as he is waiting for you.

gracenwilk

03/30/2001 11:43:01 PM

Breadandbutterfly: With all due respect, I think your concern about Matthew-Green's article repeats an important point she herself is making about the deficiency in rationalist thinking. Rationalism is no less subject to error than a life based in faith, indeed, the evidence seems to suggest that rationalism harbors far greater dangers. Rationalists have been the authors of some of the most inhuman acts in human history. I am sure you would argue that those kinds of rationalists are not YOUR kind; that they erred in some important way from your kind of truth and truth seeking. Then you would proceed to tar, WITH THE SAME BRUSH, all those of us who believe that there is legitimate truth and truth-seeking in the path of personal relationship with a literally resurrected Christ. Meanwhile Christ's word's go unheard in the din of everyone shouting "My ideas are better than your actions"-- "The tree is known by its fruits."

breadandbutterfly

03/30/2001 11:34:56 PM

What surprises me most is that I recognise Christ so much more readily in the Spong article, and I GENUINELY did not expect this. For all the years that I was a Christian my faith was just what is described by Green. But reading the gospels now, from the dry and tired seat of one abandoned by her faith, I see dangerous flirtation with heresy, not emotionalism. There are no demonstrative conversion scenes, only very stark decisions concerning whether or not one will repent, whether or not one will accept Christ's offer to follow him. I love the distinction that has been made in this discussion between worshiping and following Christ. I'm not absolutely sure I have the right idea, but it seems we, on the one hand, can make a once in a lifetime decision to become a Christian, and on the other to be constantly inconvenienced with thoughts of better ways to behave.

breadandbutterfly

03/30/2001 11:18:18 PM

I am thankful for both these articles. I think they make such an interesting diptych. But the Mathew-Green article worries me. Certainly she is sincere, and the faith she describes is beautiful. What is of concern is her confidence in this "interior experience," this "pure experience of contact." It is beyond explanation but can be counted on as a source of truth. "But it just feels so right," is what I end up hearing after reading through her article. And please believe that I have read it more than once, I don't take lightly the decision to suggest that this sort of faith is not good.

Molt33

03/30/2001 11:09:13 PM

I think that you have missed my point. We always view the "end times" as some future event, but the fall of the old age and the rise of the new one begins in the Cross and Resurrection. We are mistakenly focused on the future of things. The battle is already won. So, unfortunately, I have not consulted with Nostradamus, but I have consulted with the New Testament.

Presby

03/30/2001 04:18:49 PM

Molt33- how prescient of you to know the meaning of "end times" I suppose you ran into Nostradamus down the hall.

Molt33

03/30/2001 02:37:38 PM

I would state that we have been in the end times since, oddly enough, the resurrection of Jesus.

tarrantf

03/30/2001 02:11:30 PM

I would urge anyone who read Buxton's comments about Episcopalians to ignore them. We on the Anglican/Episcopal threads are highly suspicious of him/her. Not a word of his/her post rings true, even among the liberals such as I in the Episcopal Church. We are not an earth-based church, we believe passionately in God, and Spong is in the fringes of the denomination. Buxton's misrepresentation of Episcopalians is quite shameful.

taydragon

03/30/2001 01:59:21 PM

Don't you realized that this entire debate just means that we are in the end times now? You're unbelief is exactly what Jesus predicted would happen before he returned. To see so many people who claim to be Christians being fooled by Spong makes me wonder if he is a candidate for the Antichrist, maybe he is the helper the bible predicts.

Molt33

03/30/2001 01:23:20 PM

Part 4 Paul was right to say that if God does not raise Jesus from the dead then we are most fooled. We have truly given our lives over to a lie. The resurrection is not about "getting to heaven," rather it is about vindication. It validated the message and the messenger. It is God's approval of Jesus as the Messiah, not some sentimental element to keep the dream alive. If Jesus and Paul were just about telling monumental truths then why such the fuss. The Jews did not kill Philo or Josephus. Jesus as the teacher of great moral truths just doesn't do justice to the story. It sounds good, and it preaches well to an agnostic crowd. It is easier to follow the Jesus of moral truths, you wont step on any toes, but to follow God's messiah, something much different. Paul knew this and he knew it well.

Molt33

03/30/2001 01:15:20 PM

Part 3 In our cultural context, the world of supposed "tolerance," we can believe in things and it does not make a bit of difference. So believing in the resurrection or not believing wont change a whole lot. This is where I think that Spong is headed. The important thing is that we get the concept right and implement that into our lives. However, in Paul's day to preach Jesus as the Christ was to take one's life into great danger. Paul abandoned everything he knew to be true (as a Jew) to be named with this ragtag group claiming Jesus as God's expected Messiah. Paul took on scorn and abuse to just reveal an important truth?

Molt33

03/30/2001 01:11:41 PM

Part 2 Spong will go on to say that the resurrection was not a real event, but rather it teaches us some concept or truth about God. He would have us believe that Jesus took upon himself death on a cross to get his point across. This is the only vindication that God can give.

Molt33

03/30/2001 01:10:00 PM

There is an important statement that needs to be addressed in this article. "Can we separate the truth from the interpreted framework that has carred that truth for so long." Spong would have us believe that there is such a thing as "unmediated truth." What historical document does not contain a bias, even this article contains a bias, the notion that there is such a thing as unmediated truth.

DougDL

03/30/2001 12:54:20 PM

> Yea, right. Again I ask: What are you smoking? I do hope that there are some in this forum who can override the natural tendency towards such a knee-jerk reaction. For those who can't stomach the notion of "automatic writing", just read the words. The logic and truth of these writings speaks for itself, and is not depend upon any blind faith as to their authorship. Those who have the curiosity and patience to visit the web site and read the message purportedly received from Paul will discover a point of view which is wonderfully in consonance with both science and Christian Faith. There is a teaching here that both Bishop Spong and Frederica Mathewes-Green could subscribe to.... www.truths.com

Buxton

03/30/2001 12:32:19 PM

Bishop Spong has been the most influential and important leader of the Episcopalian church to date. We Episcopalians have outgrown the need to believe in a God, and also the silly notions of "virgin birth" and "resurrection". If people are so closed-minded not to see Spongs truths then they can stay in the dark ages. I am glad about the direction the Episcopalian church is moving. We are an earth-based church, similar to the Unitarians whom I would like us to have closer relations with. We a church where a large number of new-age spriritualists can feel at home in.

tarrantf

03/30/2001 11:38:17 AM

Jon, Our different understandings of the risen Christ really do not matter. Christ is risen for both of us. The end result is the same. Intellectual "belief" (specifically a sincere affirmation of a historical fact) is nothing compared with giving your heart to the Gospel. That is what New Testament "belief" really means: giving your heart to Jesus. All doubt is welcome at Christ's table. We are all on a common journey. Diversity is a gift, not a curse. Peace, Fred

Presby

03/30/2001 11:26:16 AM

Xristgape:"..lalalala' no offense, I apologize but your belief is nothing less than a product of this society we live in today" Jon, I wish you had just left it had that beautiful prayer you posted further down. I am not a 1C CE jewish woman. I AM a product of this society. But you are too. It is our reaction to it that makes us different. God doesn't expect me to leave my brain outside the sanctuary. "God didn't make no junk." gracenwilk:"the more you hate your enemy, the more you become like them . " So true...though giving up anger is hard sometimes. My treadmill really takes A BEATING some days! LOL! Tarantf: I couldn't agree more. DonJT: "...then your faith becomes no more than superstition" Don, you equate the capacity for faith with the ability to measure observable fact. This is a very limited view of faith. Faith IS communing with that which you cannot see. "Blessed are they that have not seen, and yet have believed." (Jn 20:29)

DonJT

03/30/2001 10:43:48 AM

Web surfer >>On the other hand moslems have clear scriptural evidence to believe WHAT???? So second generation followers of Jesus, writing 30 to 60 yrs after his death are suspect, while someone writing HUNDREDS of years later knows the truth? What are you smoking? DougDL >>An excerpt from a letter from Paul the Apostle, received through automatic writing by a Washington DC lawyer named James Padgett around the turn of the last century Yea, right. Again I ask: What are you smoking? NJLee >>You don’t need “proof” of the resurrection, only faith Aye, there's the rub... But when the Biblical texts on which you base this "faith" are at best ambiguous and at worst contradictory, then your faith becomes no more than superstition. None of these events had anything to do with Christ's message: Love God with all your heart... and love you neighbor as yourself. All else is windowdressing.

NJlee

03/30/2001 09:29:05 AM

Frederica Mathewes-Green has defined evangilism. DEVELOP A PERSONAL RELATIONSHIP WITH JESUS CHRIST AND SHARE IT WITH OTHERS. You don’t need “proof” of the resurrection, only faith.

NJlee

03/30/2001 08:17:14 AM

Bishop Spong began to open my mind decades ago, and I thank God for that. The Bishop's hope is to "save" Christianity, not to bury it. My journey in Faith has taken me to the far edge of both the neurosciences and the physical sciences. The remarkable if not miraculous fact is that there is near-perfect coincidence of Bishop Spong's vision and the latest understanding of our Universe and the way humans think. Much of this was unknown and unknowable when we started this journey. The hopeful message is in the poll results. A minority (18%) of respondents believe that Christ was raised from the dead "Spiritually" and 62% believe in physical a resurrection. 80% have experienced the risen Christ and I venture to say that every encounter has been "spiritual" The hopeful message that comes from the mind of Bishop Spong and from the edges of the universe is that the spiritual encounter is the "peace that is beyond our understanding."

DougDL

03/30/2001 12:13:33 AM

An excerpt from a letter from Paul the Apostle, received through automatic writing by a Washington DC lawyer named James Padgett around the turn of the last century: "...many times, in many nations, it has been demonstrated, even before the coming of Jesus, that men had died and appeared again as living spirits in the form of angels and men, and that they were recognized by mortal men as spirits who had had a previous earth existence.... So I say, this is (a) resurrection common to all men. The coming and death and resurrection of Jesus, as taught by the churches, did not bring the *Great Resurrection* to the knowledge or comfort of men, and did not furnish the *true foundation* upon which the true Christian belief and faith rest. The great weakness of the (Christian) church today is that they claim and teach this resurrection of Jesus, as set forth above, as the foundation of their faith and existence...." The rest of this letter can be read at www.truths.com/ch13-1.htm

Xristgape

03/29/2001 11:58:05 PM

Here is my liberal non-judgemental response, go ahead believe whatever you want, you have every single right to. But as for me maybe it is better to not even get into a discussion like this, I am way to passionate about my beliefs and asserting apostolic doctrine and the truth of Christ and it only will cause anxiety for both of us, maybe it is better to just ignore and keep living out the Gospel to the best of my ability with the aid of the Holy Spirit. I don't know, but I do know this. Jesus physically was raised to life and we have a future hope, this is far more difficult to believe than "oh it was just a metephorical phenomanon that will lighten our souls..lalalala" no offense, I apologize but your belief is nothing less than a product of this society we live in today. -Jon

gracenwilk

03/29/2001 10:07:59 PM

I think the only way this "debate" matters at all is that it gives us one more thing to do so that we don't have to go about doing the one thing that would really make a difference. Spong is jousting with his mirror-image in this life-long fit of fascination and hatred of fundamentalism. He gets to indulge his hatred the same way the fundamentalists get to indulge theirs- by finding a righteous cause, then by identifying a likely scapegoat. The problem is that the more you hate your enemy, the more you become like them . . .

starrcross

03/29/2001 06:31:44 PM

Hmmm... didn't the religious leaders at the time of Jesus also "go by the book"? And weren't they offended and angry when Jesus shared new spiritual insights with people? And when the people said,"hey, yeah, that makes sense, I can believe that" or "aaahhhh, now I get it" didn't the religious leaders decide Jesus was a threat? When they said, "the Law says this and the Law says that, and that should be enough," didn't Jesus turn around and say, "it's about love and common sense and working together" ? Do you think that Jesus is going to come crashing down out of the sky with a gazillion angels flapping at his heels? Or maybe, just maybe, one of these days, suddenly a Divine Light will go on in everyones head "and every eye shall see him" when we look to each other and realize that what we have done for or against each other, we have done for or against the Divine.

web_surfer

03/29/2001 06:18:08 PM

watson, I found it... The following verses in the Quran speak about the incident. --- That they said (in boast), "We killed Christ Jesus the son of Mary, the Messenger of Allah";- but they killed him not, nor crucified him, but so it was made to appear to them, and those who differ therein are full of doubts, with no (certain) knowledge, but only conjecture to follow, for of a surety they killed him not:- Nay, Allah raised him up unto Himself; and Allah is Exalted in Power, Wise;- And there is none of the People of the Book but must believe in him before his death; and on the Day of Judgment he will be a witness against them;- ( Quran 4:157-159) --- While doing comparative study of religion I found some convincing proofs that Jesus was not crucified, in a book, 'Muslim Christian Dialogue' by H. M. Baagil. Try: http://www.themodernreligion.com/comparative/christ/christ_mdc.htm

web_surfer

03/29/2001 06:16:21 PM

watson, I think christians have mere conjecture to believe that Jesus was crucified. At the time of crucification most his closest followers were not a witness. There must have been a crucification but there is no proof that it was Jesus who died on the cross. And after about 50 years of the incident one after the other people started writing accounts of crucification and resurrection, each contradicting the other. On the other hand moslems have clear scriptural evidence to believe, let me search the verses....

Watson

03/29/2001 05:22:45 PM

web surfer, Muslims do believe that Jesus was not crucified. I, however, disagree. I've done some reading into the historicity of the crucifixion and scholars and historians are about 99% sure that Jesus really was crucified. Here's why. Why would a group of people make up a story about how their hero suffered what was probably the worst form of capital punishment in the Roman empire? Many Jews at the time believed that the comming messiah would conquer the evil of the world. They didn't have in mind that this messiah would be crucified. Again, why would such a story be made up?

Watson

03/29/2001 05:16:03 PM

tarrantf, Amen! I couldn't agree more.

web_surfer

03/29/2001 05:15:24 PM

Did anyone give a thought to the views of arabs/moslems that Jesus never died in the first place, but he was raised to the heaven by God. I believe it is in the Quran, that Jesus never died. Did anyone do some reading on this.

tarrantf

03/29/2001 04:59:49 PM

Stephen and Watson, A liberal, non-judgmental, and rational form of Christianity is, in my opinion, the narrow path Jesus talks about. It will not be an easy road, but it is worth it!

Watson

03/29/2001 04:48:39 PM

StephenK.Adams, "Without the superstitious foundations, perhaps many more people would follow religious teachings...Hopefully, the rules for living that such a religion would put forward, would help to reduce the horrors and violence that are still occurring around the world today." I highly agree with you. If Christians would stop worrying about whether or not the Bible is literally true and start emphasizing the ethical and spiritual teachings of Jesus and Paul, it would certainly be able to speak to the world with dignity and help reduce the horrors and violence that occur today.

Watson

03/29/2001 04:38:07 PM

Of course, if this reformation doesn't occur, then Christianity will die a slow but sure death, which is what is in process now. I have confidence however that this reformation will occur and Christianity in the future will have much more dignity than it does now. We already have theologians, such as Matthew Fox, Robert Funk, Hans Kung, and last, but not least, John S. Spong who have called for such reform. This reformation may have already started. It just needs to gain momentum.

StephenK.Adams

03/29/2001 04:36:05 PM

Religions try to answer the question---What are we doing here?..What is life all about?..They also put forward what they believe are the best rules by which we should live...In this regard, Christianity is as good as or better, than any of the other existing religions. The problem is, that because of the superstitious foundation at the core of this religion, [other existing religions have the same flaw], many people pay little or no attention to it. I think Bishop Spong is trying to use the intelligence that our Creator has given us to look at reality as clearly and precisely as possible. Without the superstitious foundations, perhaps many more people would follow religious teachings...Hopefully, the rules for living that such a religion would put forward, would help to reduce the horrors and violence that are still occurring around the world today.

Watson

03/29/2001 04:29:59 PM

In case some of you don't know, Spong has called for a new reformation. There's a dialogue group at this website on his 12 Theses called "A New Reformation?" I won't elaborate on these theses but I would like to talk about the nature of the comming radical and inevitable reformation. The hostile vilification that Spong has received here will definately be a part of it. Anyone participating in this Reformation will definately be the targets of the same hostility, because the voices of this hostility will subconciously realise that their outdated, narrow-minded version of Christianity will be in the death throes that have already begun. In the end however, I think we will have a Christianity that accepts all people for who they are, regardless of their beliefs, race, sex, and sexual orientation. There will no longer be arrogant claims to superiority and ignorant claims of biblical inerrancy. Instead there will be humble claims of equality with other religions and acceptance of theological inquiry.

Watson

03/29/2001 04:12:05 PM

kerouac, You're right. I shouldn't knock myself out. My last posting was an overreaction to the hostile rhetoric of some of these postings. The hostility of some of these people is so intense, that it's impossible to reason with them and conflict is unavoidable (I won't mention any names this time but I'm sure they know who they are). I guess that's what produced my overreaction.

kerouac

03/29/2001 03:25:19 PM

hey Watson - don't knock yourself out man. The truth is on your side. Or at least, I thinkit is. Those other folks are just wrong. They're not bad people. And they're not stupid. Their reasoning is flawed. I've been wrong once or twice in my own life as well. haha. That said, you're probably right about their maturity level. But hey, I acted pretty small a couple of times too...

tarrantf

03/29/2001 02:18:48 PM

Fools rarely inspire such passion, Faust. Liberal Christians are of course a threat to the evangelical mindset because we are open to the notion that Christian truths may come to us in part through metaphor and myth. Our concept of "belief" has virtually nothing to do with verifiable history. It has everything to do with giving our hearts to the Gospel. I believe in Jesus, in his ministry and cause, and in his resurrected presence within the Christian community. So does Spong. I do not affirm as history that Jesus's resuscitated corpse walked out of the tomb, but I passionately affirm that Jesus was resurrected into the lives of the Christian community. That is where the risen Christ abides; that is why we are the Body of Christ.

Xristgape

03/29/2001 02:04:03 PM

I think this was absolutely beautiful. I to know the presence of the Ressurected Christ, He's here right now as King over my heart. His presence is so lovely it transcends words. I believe in His very real physical ressurection. I believe in His soon second coming when all the world will see Him who they have pierced. But until then His gentle whisper will suffice. Thank you Lord for your promise to never leave us or forsake us whom you have called to be not only your servants, but also your friends. -Jon

Presby

03/29/2001 01:59:52 PM

For me, the essence of being a spiritual being, is being enriched by others' experiences of God, including Bishop Spong's. And I am skeptical of anyone who says they know *definitely* anything about the resurrection. To me that says more about the limitations of that person's mind than anything else. Tmaster, it is an interesting theory that Jesus spent time in India. The nonviolent aspects of his teachings would certainly make sense coming from there. Afterall, the later testaments are empty on his teen/early adult years. Foust your little "Sprong" joke reveals more about your lack of maturity that Bishop Spong's supposed heresy. It's tiresome. Get some manners.

tmaster1

03/29/2001 01:49:29 PM

Why is Rev. Spong depicted as some "radical" Christian revisionist, out to either "destroy" Christianity or "save it?" And why does he even *attempt* to know what happened to Jesus. If you want to know what happened to Jesus, go to http://www.tombofjesus.com/tombhome.htm Western Christians *cannot* know what happened to him because they have NEVER read the documents of the East that clearly--in no uncertain terms--tell what happened to him. They are either ignorant of those documents or arrogant that the East has any answers. Have they read the Bhavishya Mahapurana, or the Tarikhi-i-Kashmiri, or the Wajees-ut-Tawareek or the Bagh-i-Sulaiman, or the Glass Mirror, all of which state that Jesus SURVIVED the crucifixion as an ordinary human being? No, they haven't. Why are they considered "authorities," hum? Jesus is dead and buried in the Roza Bal Mausoleum--visited by thousands of people--in the Kan Yar Section of Srinagar, Kashmir, India. His the picture of his tomb at about-mentioned URL.

kerouac

03/29/2001 01:17:42 PM

tmatt and foust77 - such negativity. note that none of us "skeptics" have had anything negative to say about Frederica Mathewes-Green piece. Good for her as far I'm concerned. if she's happily content and leading a spiritual life then that's GREAT! I am interested in your thoughts, but I'm not interested in changing your mind or having you change my mind. I am capable of such things all by myself. :)

tmatt

03/29/2001 12:59:35 PM

I once had a chance to ask Spong if he thought that Jesus was raised from the dead in an event that, however mysterious in form, took place in real time and space. In other words, if you were standing with Mary and the apostles, would you have seen and heard Jesus? He said that was an interesting question. I asked for an answer. He declined to answer. Basically, Spong's career has had one goal. He wants to save, in his definition of saving, the modern church from the early church. Why doesn't he leave the church? He wants to change the church so that it no longer has doctrinal ties to the Early Church Fathers. Simple as that. He can't do that as, oh, an off-Broadway performance artist. I do hope everyone is reading the Frederica Mathewes-Green piece, as well. tmatt

Foust77

03/29/2001 11:43:44 AM

Ugh. I can't believe some are being taken in by this guy. Starrcross: "This is only studying scripture with an eye out for truth" You can't see his obvious agenda? Hellllllo. Right the from begining of his "search for truth", he discounts the literal resurection. Everything after that very has an AGENDA. Kerouac: "I am happy to know that you wouldn't judge something before having read it." Sprong is kind of unique. You can close your eyes, imagine what Satan would say, and viola, that's the distilled nature of Sprong's writings. And yes, I read the whole article myself. And you never answered me - how is aruging from silence anything less then an insult to all reputable scholarship? "Spong's ideas are too much of a threat to evangelical Christians." A classic comment. "It's a threat to them, so of course they won't argue it." Maybe you can take our word for it when we say we think Sprong is a fool - and not a threat.

tarrantf

03/29/2001 11:35:04 AM

Starrcross, You wrote Some of you are so quick to lambaste him for his sincere search for truth that you don't take the time to find out what he's really saying. You have articulated the exact reason why most of the Episcopalians stay away from these sideboards on Spong. No genuine discussion of issues takes place here. Spong's ideas are too much of a threat to evangelical Christians.

kerouac

03/29/2001 11:01:33 AM

Emilyanna17 - I am happy to know that you wouldn't judge something before having read it. who's leading whom astray ?

starrcross

03/29/2001 10:46:01 AM

Please, friends, go back and read Spong's article again. This time read one paragraph at a time and try to understand what this man is saying. He is not denying the resurection, he is saying Jesus was raised to a different way of being, not a physical "resucitation" to his earthly existance. Spong takes the earliest writing about this resurection and follows each succeeding story to show how the Easter "event" developed over time. This is only studying scripture with an eye out for truth, being open to new and deeper spiritual insights. Some of you are so quick to lambaste him for his sincere search for truth that you don't take the time to find out what he's really saying.

jenniferlana

03/29/2001 08:28:28 AM

BTW - I am an intellectual type. I spend alot of time thinking and I dont think this conflicts at all with religious belief. I have sadness for those who do.

jenniferlana

03/29/2001 08:23:31 AM

My faith journey has always been one of questions, learning, scholarship and considering new viewpoints. I believe that faith that cannot stand to listen to challenges is No Faith at all. In the begining I had a view of Jesus that was very earthly - I am sure a nice guy with some revolutionary ideas who meant well and got screwed. But my Faith grew over time to understand Jesus in the light of God, to what is a more religiously understood view point of divinity. Aparently Sponge does not share my views.

Emilyanna17

03/29/2001 06:08:44 AM

I haven't even read spong's "article" but frankly I'm disgusted with him. When is he going to just become an atheist and quit publishing his distorted views? He's a disgrace to all Christians, whatever denomination you are. What an evil man, leading many astray.

gracenwilk

03/28/2001 10:32:25 PM

Bishop Spong's line of argumentation is disingenuous. He sets up a straw man- namely, that anyone who still believes in the literal truth of the resurrection (a. stands without "creditable" scholarly backing and (b. hasn't examined the claims of the resurrection with real honesty. This is an old gambit, quite readily employed by politicians and criminal lawyers- tar your opponent by presupposing the WEAKEST argument for the case, then proceed as if there were no other "creditable" arguments. If I had to make a choice between the good bishop and the New Testament writers, with truth claims on either side in the balance, this technique would not convince me of his commitment to that noble goal.

Beatus

03/28/2001 08:11:20 PM

A fascinating article, I look forward to reading the follow-ups to it. Surely we have all heard of the physchology experiments where a group of subjects are presented with an enactment of an event, then asked to describe the event, the words that were exchanged, & physical description of the participants in the event. The description of each of the observers almost always varies widely among members the same group of people who concurrently have witnessed the identical situation. An error of perception cannot automatically be construed as an error of faith. The Gospel writers, recounting the events decades after the event, may not agree on the insignificant details surrounding the Resurrection, such as which two women visited the tomb that Sunday morning -- but they agree on the fact that the Resurrection took place, just a crime victim may not remember what color his attacker's jacket or eyes were, but he is certain beyond a shadow of a doubt that he was robbed.

Presby

03/28/2001 07:02:04 PM

I should hasten to add, The theme of the deity dying then resurrecting, or being reborn, is common to many theologies and mythic traditions.

Presby

03/28/2001 06:56:49 PM

Fornicor:"Is it intellectually honest to enter into a quest for truth with a priori assumptions?" Well if you mean in the scientific sense, yes. That's what hypotheses are. You start with a statement then perform an experiment to see if it's true/untrue. But I don't know that it really matters, in the great cosmic scheme of things, if Jesus actually got up and literally left his tomb so much as it matters that we (humanity) seem to have the NEED for it to have taken place.

kerouac

03/28/2001 06:37:23 PM

presby - thanks. very nice of you to say so. you seem lovely yourself. fornicor - that's a loaded question. but let me say that conflicting historical evidence is generally important. But so is reason and experience. That is, no matter what the bible says people don't rise from the dead in any way that can be recorded as historical or scientific fact. It can only be said that people believe people rise from the dead. You've asked a hugely important question that can hardly be answered in this forum, but I hope you get the idea. That said, secondary sources (written texts as witnesses) have to be taken with a grain of salt and understood in context, etc.

SandraJackson

03/28/2001 06:24:57 PM

I am not a bible scholar. In fact I really don't know that much about the bible at all, but I have given a lot of thought as to why there isn't definate proof of such things as the resorection or even the existance of God, and I have come to this conclusion. If we could prove the resurection with out a doubt we would have to believe. Just like we believe other proven histroic facts, and if we have to believe because it is proven then we have no choice, and as we all know the point of us and all of this is that God wants us to choose to love and serve him, not do it because we have to.

Hutton

03/28/2001 06:21:12 PM

thepetersenboy, you are in error when you say Spong holds doctorates. In reality, his "doctorates" are honourary degrees. He never earned them so for that I say he has none. In regards to his reputation. He showed his racist side when he called African Bishops (who were disagreeing with him on these issues) "jungle bunnies" and "pre-scientific". NadaTall, litbit, Fornicor, Foust77, and others best described him. He is an apostate. He does not believe in the Christian faith. Did he really have faith to begin with? Not for me to say but somehow I doubt it. He appears to be a career clergyman. Pretty sad.

NadaTall

03/28/2001 06:03:55 PM

Yes, petersenboy, I agree with litbit. Take a look at Heb. 6:4-8. All that education means nothing without faith to back it up. I would rather listen to someone with absolutely no education but mountain-moving faith than to an educated fool. And just because it's decades, Psionycx, doesn't mean it's decades well-spent. I, too, have studied the Scriptures for more than 40 years, and I believe what I've learned, just as millions of other Christians do and have done for hundreds of years. The Gospels are teeming with warnings by Jesus regarding false teachers and "wolves in sheep's clothing" who will attempt to deceive the church; all those degrees you are both citing only make the deception easier for some to swallow.

Presby

03/28/2001 05:57:45 PM

Fornicor, thanks for the Greek textbook info. Kerouac, you sound like a lovely guy. Litbit, I'm sorry the world/universe is such a terrifying place for you.

litbit

03/28/2001 04:58:33 PM

Answer for thepetersenboy, Yes, Mr. Spong has Apostasized. Anytime you deny the death, burial, and resurrection of Christ after you have believed you are an apostate. You have left THE FAITH. There those that have left THE FAITH and "preach" every Sunday. He is a false teacher, a wolf in sheeps clothing, a deceiving spirit, that teaches a doctrine of devils!

hildaofwhitby

03/28/2001 04:55:08 PM

I don't see that Greene is saying the resurrection is a literal truth, in the sense that Jesus came back to life and walked out of the tomb. I believe in the risen Christ, just as she talks about, but that doesn't mean I think Jesus was walking around after his death like a flesh and blood person (unlike what fundamentalists I've talked to think). And I agree with the poster below that the experience of the risen Christ is one I recognize when I read accounts by mystics of other faiths.

Fornicor

03/28/2001 04:48:23 PM

To Presby: There's an excellent Koine Greek grammar by William Mounce called "The Basics of Biblical Greek." Additionally, you can purchase copies of the Greek New Testament from the American Bible Society (www.americanbible.org).

Fornicor

03/28/2001 04:44:22 PM

A question for Kerouac: As a professor of history, how important is it to you that a historical event have no conflicting accounts or documentation? In other words, do you discount as invented any event that has conflicting historical accounts? For example, can we say that, although the accounts don't match up exactly, the underlying message of the NT stories is always the same -- that Jesus of Nazareth rose bodily from the dead? To everyone: Is it intellectually honest to enter into a quest for truth with a priori assumptions? For example, can someone seeking to determine the veracity of the resurrection stories have the a priori belief that bodily resurrection is impossible or that angels don't exist? Thanks for your responses.

Presby

03/28/2001 04:34:07 PM

I should also say, that as a life-long Presby, I am also at a point in my life where learning about the actual humanity and humility of the individuals in Bible is much more satisfying to me now than simply repeating the supernatural elements. I wish I could read Hebrew, Greek and Aramaic. Though I love my KJV, I would love to learn the original meanings of some of these texts.

kasturi

03/28/2001 04:28:24 PM

I admire Bishop Spong who's humble enough to admit that even he has doubts and questions, despite his vast religious knowledge and experience (at least more than the average person). Some people prefer to sweep ambiguities/inconsistencies under the carpet by calling it 'blind faith'.

Psionycx

03/28/2001 04:12:03 PM

I fin it hugely humorous. In the past I have often been talked down to by fundamentalists who cite their "years of Bible study" as evidence of their "expertise". However, Bishop Spong, with decades of Biblical scholarship takes a position that they don't like and then suddenly all that Bible scholarship is "meaningless". I LOVE the way logic leaves the room whenever the fundies enter!

Presby

03/28/2001 04:10:33 PM

Thank you Bishop Spong! You don't have to believe in the literalness of the Bible to derive meaning and passion. Since when is debating with the Bible such a big sin? God is not fragile. S/He won't fall apart if we stop to ask questions. In fact, debate is very much a part of the Bible. Go ask our Jewish bretheren. Debate is in the very best rabbinic tradition. Remember Abraham arguing with God about just exactly how many righteous people he can find in Sodom and Gomorrah? (This is a great comedy routine) Remember the big blowout between Peter and Paul about eating with Yikes! unclean (not kosher) gentiles?! People who think you can't argue with the Bible miss the point. A great pity. They close themselves off to so much of God's presence this way. The resurrection? I do believe that Jesus is always near, if we have the courage to see Him.

bernie53

03/28/2001 04:05:27 PM

So, there are people who believe in the literal resurection and there are some people who don't. That's fine, it's really impossible to prove either way (except that people don't usually rise from the dead, so it's easier to believe it didn't happen). However, I think it may serve all Christians well to take a look at the resurection story and really consider what it means. How can one man's rising (or not rising) from the dead change the world? What would be different if it didn't (or did) happen? No matter what you believe, it can't hurt to imagine for a second that things could be different. It can even be healthy.

thepetersenboy

03/28/2001 03:59:50 PM

To those who seem to wish to discount Bishop Spong as some two bit heretic or simply as a misguided fool: the Rt. Rev. Spong has been a clergyman for 45 years and a bishop for 24 of those years. He holds three doctorates and is considered to be one of the most intelligent bishops in the history of the Episcopal Church. Do you really believe he woke up one recent morning and decided, after a life's work in behalf of God and the church, to apostatize?

kerouac

03/28/2001 03:33:55 PM

Searaven - thank you noting that distinction. I am as you are in that regard.

etenoha

03/28/2001 03:27:04 PM

well what can one say to a "biblical scholar" whose expertise is drenching in arrogance? Sprong please try again after you have learned the elementary, and i do mean elementary, basics of research and summarization. i found it easy to get by your title of "bishop", and wonder why you cannot? prayer, my dear sprong, meditation, contemplation and introspection are what you need to round out the edges to highlight the whole. god bless you "bishop".

Searaven

03/28/2001 03:26:11 PM

kerouac said: "We are following this guy because he was a great example of how to live. That's the TRUTH." Yes. I am a follower, not a worshiper of Jesus; I also honor the Cosmic Christ, which includes Buddha nature and other Word/Wisdom/Spirit/ and compassion/justice expressions of the Christ. When a literal interpretation is worshiped, truth is lost. Spong is encouraging an examination of Christianity that does not require anyone to leave either heart or mind at the church door.

kerouac

03/28/2001 03:14:08 PM

hey starrcross and the petersenboy - very sensible stuff. your thoughts remind me a little of what that lonely kid from New Jersey, Bruce Springsteen once had to say on relgious thinking "it ain't no sin to be glad you're alive." cheers to you on your path.

Foust77

03/28/2001 03:11:54 PM

"He is only asking questions." Oh please. His agenda is clear. he's not asking questions, he is attacking with irrational hostility.

thepetersenboy

03/28/2001 03:09:07 PM

Why condemn Rev. Spong? He is only asking questions. Are we so unsure of our faith that we cannot accept that questions can be asked by a believer and faith still be maintained? To those who question his efforts: can you read Greek? The original texts of Christianity are in Greek. If you cannot read Greek, how can you know what they really say? He reads Greek, and in doing so he has discovered things not known to those who can only read translations. Why are we Christians mostly ignorant of the original language of our own sacred texts? Is it from fear of what we may discover? He is not to be condemned, but congratulated. His books have caused more discussion about the Christian faith than all the collected, insulated “Christian books” do in a year. He reaches those not in the faith, even those hostile to it. They want to read him. He shows them that all Christians are not small minded rubes. From this, some are brought to Christianity. His work is accomplished.

starrcross

03/28/2001 03:08:21 PM

I actually believe that Bishop Spong is a very devout man. His article is only the first of three parts, I think, and we should see how he developes his thesis futher. From reading his other articles and books I feel he is trying to share with us how to let go and be completely satisfied with the reality that God has created. Spiritual joy is not dependant on fantastic, implausible stories or miracles that defy the laws of nature. Reality is spectacular and miraculous enough!

Foust77

03/28/2001 03:06:06 PM

Ah. My mistake, sorry. So exactly how is saying "the bible dosen't mention it, so it clearly didn't happen" good scholarship?

kerouac

03/28/2001 02:59:19 PM

Foust, I'm the Ph.D.

Foust77

03/28/2001 02:58:31 PM

His profile says DD, not PhD. kerouac, whatever you think of Sprong, his favourite method - aruging from silence - is laughable. When he stops using techniques that illicit little more then a snicker, I'll listen to him.

kerouac

03/28/2001 02:53:53 PM

CSSR - We are following this guy because he was a great example of how to live. that's the TRUTH.

litbit

03/28/2001 02:53:23 PM

Throughout the epistles to Timothy, the Bible clearly admonishes us to avoid these vain babblings, and foolish, unlearned questions that simply lead to strife and arguing amounting to nothing. Jesus is the Christ the Son of the Living God, He died on the cross and ROSE on the third day with all power of Heaven and Earth in His hands. At the name of Jesus every knee shall bow and every tongue WILL confess that He is Lord. He rose in a visible glorified body, and ascended literally, physically, and visibly returning to his home in Glory at the right hand of the Father. And this same Jesus will come again and receive all those that believe unto Himself. Mr. Spong is an Apostate, he has left The Faith (1 Tim. ch4). He teaches lies in hypocrisy, having his conscience seared as with a hot iron. Pray for those who are being misled by his teaching.

CSSR

03/28/2001 02:51:48 PM

The resurrection must have happend. If it didn't there wouldn't be Christianity. All false Messiah's died and their following dispersed never to be heard of again. Gamaliel, a prominent Jewish Pharisee said about the Christians, "Let them be, don't persecute them, if this Jesus didn't rise, they will scatter with the wind." If this is the case, why are we still following this guy? Something so momentus must have happend to keep the early Christians alive in their faith during the Roman persecutions.

kerouac

03/28/2001 02:51:09 PM

ISA - you are just being foolish and clearly have an agenda. But Foust77 - I assure you that as a Ph. D. and professor of history, Spong's methods are terrific scholarship. Even my zealous Christian colleagues think Spong's scholarship is impressive. They simply don't mix relgious thought with scholarship it makes for oil and water in. I disagree. But it all makes for enthusiastic discussion.

ISA

03/28/2001 02:36:16 PM

Jesus (pbuh) didnt resurrect he wasnt even crucifiedand there is ample evidence from within and outside the Holy Scriptures. check following debate: http://www.islaminfo.com/links.asp. Best of luck in your search for the TRUTH.

Foust77

03/28/2001 02:25:06 PM

No, kerouac. You've said again he's arguing rationally as someone who cares about the subject. My entire point is, he's not arguing rationally. He's using methods like arguing from silence that any respectable scholar woulnd't touch with a ten foot pole.

jpalatucci

03/28/2001 02:21:14 PM

To say that Jesus didn't truly rise from the dead is to call Him and His Apostles liars. ("They that reject you reject me and they that reject me reject the one who sent me"). The Apostles witnessed the resurrection (Gospel of St. John 20; 1 John 1, etc)and all of them died violently (except St. John) for their belief in Jesus' resurrection. Mr. Spong mocks the Apostles and the Messiah whom they loved and follwed and sacrificed themselves for His Gospel. Mr. Spong (not worthy to be called a bishop) is a heretic, a weak willed man who has forgone his office like Judas. All those centuries of martyrs and the persecuted have suffered in vain according to his work. All of those in world today who are persecuted and murdered for their beleif in the reality of resurrection have no meaning for Mr. Spong. I feel very sorry for Mr. Spong and any of his disciples who follow his heretical ideas. "When the Son of Man returns will he find any faith left on earth?"

Rave

03/28/2001 02:09:03 PM

Thanks Mariette. It is almost comical how we see Beliefnet and Spong use the Christian calendar for their attacks on Christianity. The last attack was during advent with his 3 parter attacking the virgin birth. It was only too predictable that he would resurface during lent to attack the resurrection with another "3 parter". You have to hand it to them, they are dedicated. It would be interesting to do a psychological profile on a man who took up a career in the clergy. And at his later years gleefully dance and spit and hope for that religion's demise.

kerouac

03/28/2001 02:04:09 PM

ischobe - Spong is most definitely not a Catholic Bishop. Do you really think the conservatism of the Church in Rome would stand for this ? He would be excommunicated in a millisecond. The Catholic Church just isn't that tolerant. He is an Episcopalean. It might behoove you to do a little research of your own. You really should know this stuff if your going to argue scholarship. And incidentally, Scholars have been wrong before. They used to think that the Sun revolved around the Earth. So, yes they are wrong in fact. But not wrong in Spirit. And that is Spong's point.

balloony

03/28/2001 01:54:40 PM

Those of us angry at the spong piece should look at the companion piece by frederic mathewes green. seems an excellent laying out of the other point of view

kerouac

03/28/2001 01:51:42 PM

Stephen K. Adams - you seem sensible. And I suspect have a healthy relationship with your faith. I applaud you.

kerouac

03/28/2001 01:49:45 PM

why are you so angry ? Spong is arguing with the reasoned aguement of a man who cares about his subject.

cng-1976

03/28/2001 01:49:01 PM

cturner14, AMEN, AMEN!!!

jscholbe

03/28/2001 01:48:09 PM

To arrive at an true, honest and believable conclusion, scripture must agree with scripture without interpretation or manipulation and when studied in earnest it does. To NOT believe in what the Bible has taught for centuries is to believe that for centuries scholars world wide have been wrong in their study and beliefs and that scripture does not agree or mesh with other scripture. I believe further study is required by the good Bishop perhaps translating all study material to the Hebrew or Greek that the words were first written in might shed further light, in his case. I can certainly appreciate the search for truth, but at what cost and to what good. I am an ex-Catholic and this theory from a Catholic Bishop has me even more confident that leaving Catholisism was a smart move, for me!

cturner14

03/28/2001 01:46:13 PM

Defense is one thing, belief is another, and what Spong is saying is something entirely different. He is not stretching the bounds of this discussion, he has ripped off the frame from the picture. Who wants off? As a man of the "cloth", what does he stand on? Seems like he is picking up on scholars that he likes and picking and choosing what scriptures he likes and how he feels about them. I prefer to build on Solid Ground. Do I get an amen?

kerouac

03/28/2001 01:17:24 PM

whatever. you've obviously missed the point.

rayl

03/28/2001 01:02:28 PM

Well there is the case of the 'doubting' apostle Thomas who was asked by Jesus to place his hands on His wounds. There is the case of Mary who ran to tell the Apostle who were congregating with the belief that Jesus had died (for good) that Jesus was alive. Jesus' words to Mary were "Do not cling to me. I have not yet ascended to the Father". There is no reason to believe from these accounts that they are any more fictional than other events in the Acts that do not include Christ's physical presence. Was the martyrdom of Steven another religious fiction? One can cast doubt on the literal veracity of every line in this Scripture and make complete nonsense of Christian belief.

kerouac

03/28/2001 12:20:38 PM

how sad that so many beliefnet users would not be willing to defend their faith with reason and integrity. Faith is a great thing and I believe a necessary thing for our lives to be whole and full. Having said that, the Supernatural stories in the bible do not stand to reason. But the faith in the unity of the relgious/spiritual experience does. Please understand that Shelby SPong is not attacking so much as constructively criticizing the parts in Chirstian dogma that are long outdated. I beleive he is doing so in order to preserve and restore a faith where all who wish to worship can be called together regardless of belief. Our values are what bing us, not our dogma. Cheers to everyone on their journey.

Searaven

03/28/2001 12:12:45 PM

The trick is to live the metaphor without making it literal. All stories are true, whether they are literal facts or not. Jesus lived. Jesus died. The Christ (the post-Easter Jesus) is revealed in human spirit today.

Foust77

03/28/2001 12:11:15 PM

Next on Beliefnet: Was Muhummed really a prophet of God, or just a confidence man? Oh wait, that'll never happen. Only christians are fair targets for this kind of attack.

Mariette

03/28/2001 11:46:33 AM

Rave, Right on with your first posting. I'm not sure why Beliefnet is allowing the onslaught to be against Christianity only, but now that we know Spong follows the Christian calendar, we can certainly anticipate many more "insightful", "honest," and "intelligent" articles. Foust77, this has become a regular party for all of us, huh? I'll keep posting like the rest of you--who not only believe Jesus is risen, but also believe that the fact of his risenness is NOT contigent on belief--and say, Beliefnet, you might as well take seriously a Holocaust-denier; that's how much this hurts.

StephenK.Adams

03/28/2001 11:29:25 AM

Hello Friend of Jonathan: You assume that Christianity is the ultimate truth...Not everyone is willing to set aside or avoid constructive criticism of the ideas that are placed before them, in favour of blind faith.

Friend_Of_Jonathan

03/28/2001 11:06:17 AM

StephenK, the other possibility is that if Christianity, and the ministry of Christ occured to day, DNA testing would prove that Jesus was NOT the natural son of Joseph and Mary, there would have been a coroners report on Lazarus, home video would have recorded the changing of wine into water. Only by assuming that Christianity is false can one also assume that science would prove it false.

NadaTall

03/28/2001 10:14:00 AM

I can't even believe a man who has been entrusted to teach God's word to others does not believe it himself. The penalty for such things isn't going to be a pretty sight, and I hope the bishop realizes if he is instructing people in 'selective belief', then he is esstntially telling us that nothing God says is necessarily true. Look how many people saw Jesus, wounds and all, after he was resurrected; were they all delusional? All through the Old Testament, this event was predicted; and when it finally happened, it was the greatest gift God could have given to mankind. How can we be Christians if we don't believe Christ?

StephenK.Adams

03/28/2001 10:08:16 AM

David & Mary???? Sorry that should have read Joseph & Mary.

StephenK.Adams

03/28/2001 10:05:46 AM

If Christianity was being put forward as a new religion today, it would never get off the ground...DNA evidence would prove that Jesus was the natural son of David & Mary...All of the other supernatural beliefs at the core of this religion would be shown to be both mythical and superstitious. Because of the manner in which this religion was conceived, it will always be marginalized by the population of the world at large...The real miracle, is that it still is accepted as much as it is.

Psionycx

03/28/2001 09:57:59 AM

The only contradiction I see in the story of the resurrection stems from the doctrine of the Trinity. If Jesus is, in fact, an aspect of the Triune Godhead then he is, also in fact, by definition immortal. Therefore, He wasn't "raised" from the dead. He simply got up, dusted Himself off and went on about His business.

balloony

03/28/2001 09:52:43 AM

On a simple level, for me, it comes down to this. There were so many religious leaders back then who came and went. Jesus's impact was even more after his death than during. SOMETHING highly unusual must have happened in that tomb.

rossaroni31

03/28/2001 09:13:05 AM

What does religion have to do with objective facts? It seems to me that the whole point of "faith" is to belief in things which can't be proven with hard evidence--like whether or not Jesus actually rose from the dead. The point is not that it can be 'proven' and written up in scientific journals, but whether or not the resurrection has a reality in people's lives regardless of a lack of hard, objective evidence. Certainly, there are many Christians who don't need the reality of the resurrection to draw comfort from its symbolism, and many others who don't need any external forms of evidence to maintain their faith. Then there are atheists, such as myself, who happliy deny the existance of any supernatural intelligence and get to sleep late every Sunday. Is there anybody who can 'prove' that I'm wrong? (a rhetorical question).

dawnpiper

03/28/2001 09:12:17 AM

I have had a direct experience of God both in synagogue and in a Wiccan circle (at different points in my life) - and guess what, folks, it was the same God! I'm sure that if I had ever had such an experience in a Christian context (which I never did, despite being raised a preacher's kid), it would still have been the same God. How hard it this to grasp? There is one ultimate reality: God, ground of being, Eternal Thou, Tao, Nirvana, whatever name you like - we're all talking about the same thing, just using different words and different pictures. As the old saying puts it: "a finger pointing at the moon is not the moon." If religion is the finger, and God is the moon, then what are we arguing about? We should all stop staring at our fingers and try to see what they're pointing at.

ryan_rego

03/28/2001 05:11:53 AM

Well, even though I am not very familiar with the biblical verses, but I have this "Gut feeling" that Jesus is for real and did bodily & spiritually rise from the Dead. Haven't we seen enough of his signs and wonders all over the globe. Keep an open mind to all his works and he will come to dwell within you, Jesus Christ our Lord!

AnitaK

03/28/2001 02:52:48 AM

First of all it's almost impossible to believe in anything if one dosn't believe in the imfallible Word of God and I should also say inspired . We all know that when at a seen of an accident, 5 people witnessing the same accident will give 5 different accounts of what happened, why? Because they all saw it differently. The reason I strongly believe that it was a bodily resurrection is because in the Book of John 20:27. Jesus says to doubting Thomas"Reach here your finger and see My hand;reach here your hand and put your hand into My side. In Luke 24:39 Jesus says "See My hand and My feet, that it is I, touch Me and see, for a spirit does not have flesh and bones as you see that I have" In verse 41 He says" Have you anything to eat?" and 43 He took and ate in their sight.

iceworld00

03/28/2001 02:50:46 AM

Mr. Spong. Do u know that there are frequencies of light that u can not see wich are near to red ... and blue ... (I'm talking about physical light - Photons and electomagnetic waves) ... So how can u dare and talk about spiritual things wich is greater than physical matters and argue that it might not exist simply because you can't see them .. I tell you one thing that it is by your soul only you can see these things ... what I mean is by "belief" .. I don't want to open another subject for discussion about "Soul existance" but it exist simply because IT'S YOU!

BlueChocobo

03/28/2001 02:45:57 AM

I do find it funny that people seem to think their "experiences" with the "risen Christ" mean much to anyone else. I and plenty of others have had experiences with totem animals in a shamanic reality. Does that mean totem animals and these alternate realities really do exist and are "correct"? Hindus have had experiences and visions of Krishna, so does Krishna really exist? Hindu mystics have performed miracles similar to those attributed to Jesus in the christian bible. Does that mean those Hindu mystics are gods incarnate? My wiccan friends have had direct experiences with their gods and goddesses. Does that mean they too must exist exactly as these people say they do?

gracenwilk

03/28/2001 12:30:09 AM

What a winsome confession of faith and cogent rebuttal of intellectualism by Frederica! One of the most powerful evidences of Christ's resurrection is to be found in the nature of Christian witness immediately after the resurrection. The courage, inspired compassion and persistent wisdom expressed by the early church all offer powerful confirmation-- not absolute proof, but very strong confirmation-- that these women and men had experienced a true miracle. The words of the apostles and the early Christian writers have served for two millenia as sure and certain standards that beckon us to love and courage in service of God and others. It is certainly our duty to look beyond the surface of scripture and to avoid lazy distortion of the word. It is also our calling to hold the lives and heroic deaths of the women and men upon whose unflinching love and loyalty to Christ persistently confirmed the reality of his resurrected presence among them.

jlaboy

03/28/2001 12:22:05 AM

It is important to point out that the diciples of Jesus Christ were willing to sacrafice their lives after his ressurection but before this event took place they kept to themselves and assisted Jesus Christ during his mission for man. Why did the diciples go through so much if it wasn't because they witnessed the altimate miracle of the beginning of the end of times. I recommend a book titled: This We Believe - The good news of Jesus Christ for the world. Its a wonderful book.

Xristgape

03/28/2001 12:18:27 AM

IF the Ressurection actually did occur, if Jesus of Nazareth really did rise from the dead three days after He was crucified that means that every single thing that He said was true. The evidence of who He was was in His ressurection. He came to be an all atoning sacrifice for our sins. But if death conquered Him, what hope do we have, if He was supposed to be our Savior then not even God our Creator can save us. BUT IF Christ DID rise then we have a hope. Because then He did defeate sin and death and has given us victory over sin and death as well. It's this message that led 11 men to spread a faith so strong that it virtually conquered Rome. The very fact that there is a Christian faith today is evidence to the Ressurection of Jesus Christ. -Jon

Xristgape

03/28/2001 12:14:31 AM

The Ressurection is THE very foundation for the entire Christian faith. It is the single event that caused the Christian faith to even happen. If we cut away at the root the whole tree dies. Is it any mystery why the Ressurection has to be quickly swept underneath the carpet of mythology and fairy tales? Of course not, if it can be quickly cast to the side then it doesn't have to be dealt with, and then the individual can go on living however he or she wants to. But...

supremeevil

03/28/2001 12:00:05 AM

Faith is just the beginning of Christianity! I am beyond the faith point and I wish I could share with you all my experiences, but I'm not allowed. This Bishop doesn't know of what he speaks. Jesus' resurrection was physical and spiritual in the literal sense. If you believe otherwise then you're not a Christian in any sense of the word. Go on and believe that you are but when you die you'll have a rude awakening. Enough said.

jlaboy

03/27/2001 11:51:06 PM

Why I believe? If my GOD the creator of all; thus, The creator of my being Has me believing what I believe Then it must be believable. I surrender my existing self To his all and if what I believe Isn’t then he would not Have me believing what I believe But rather what is. Truth is what you believe it to be. To be a true Christian is to believe in faith, and in hope. It brings peace to the heart and doesn’t cost anything but brings many rewards. Jose M. Laboy

Mella1

03/27/2001 11:46:29 PM

I am a new Christian, but I have always believed in the Risen Christ! When Mr. Spong wrote about having to prove it word for word, doesn't shake my belief that Jesus Christ is Lord that he died for us, conquered death, and rose the 3rd day. When I first saw this article, I thought that the "difficult" and "frightening" questions were going to sway me. But after reading such a negative response to Christianity, I had to laugh! He just "doesn't get it" does he! I feel very lucky to have such a Wonderful backer in my "corner", Jesus Christ my Lord!

presbygirl79

03/27/2001 11:32:17 PM

"I believe we are well beyond the day when the leaders of the church can still protect their weakest members by not sharing with them the findings of scholars on matters of critical religious importance." Do you really think this Mr. Spong? If we were all beyond those days, why would you need to write and publish such poorly developed, poorly informed, poorly researched garbage??? Wouldn't we all have gotten it by now??? Yes, I realize I am "close-minded," whatever that means, but the search for truth must have roots somewhere. When you cut the roots of truth (as Mr. Spong has), how can you search for it honestly nor ever find it??? Mr. Spong has attacked the core beliefs of Xnity so that he might find "truth" and has found that "truth" in denying those beliefs. Imagine that!?!

presbygirl79

03/27/2001 11:28:04 PM

Further, "However, no creditable New Testament scholar in the world, Protestant or Catholic, will defend those simplistic propositions," seems a great lie when EVERY SINGLE MAJOR THEOLOGIAN IN THE MAINSTREAM CHURCH (of which Mr. Spong claims to be seeking to "save" from itself-therefore the place of the "credible" scholars to which he is referring) seem to indicate that this is of utmost importance in the Christian confessions and creeds. Oh, I forgot, the Creeds and confessions are outdated ("Why Christianity Must Change or Die"), so I guess you're right. But you are entitled to your opinion, Mr. Spong. I'll just sit here in my little dream world reading the works of idiots like St. Augustine, C.S. Lewis, John Calvin, Martin Luther, Karl Barth, etc. They know so much less than you...riiiiiight. And I've spent $15,000 per year for nothing. Darn it!

presbygirl79

03/27/2001 11:27:05 PM

"The fact is that the great majority of contemporary biblical scholars have for almost 100 years been moving away from these conclusions. Yet Christianity has survived that transition." Interesting, when I studied hermeneutics and the life and teachings of Jesus, it seemed that the majority of these scholars were in no real agreement on these issues, and the majority of them were discredited for some reason or another. Additionally, no real change in Christianity came about due to their Biblical criticism. It was a move to studying the Bible contextually, but not exclusively within context, for the Bible is meant as a history for all mankind, for all God's people-from the Israel to the church today. To focus only on it contextually is to deny this. Mr. Spong apparently slept through this class during his years in seminary.

umimm

03/27/2001 11:02:27 PM

As someone stated earlier Spong has a right to his opinion. What keeps me focus in these kinds of debates- is that regardless of the different accounts of the resurrection in the Scriptures - I believe that Christ rose on that third day. I understand very little of the power of His resurrection - but I can acknowledge - daily - the effect of His resurrection on my life and in those who believe. When we as a Christian community get to the understanding that the Bible is the inspired Word of God and recognize that nothing contained within is by any whim or fashion, we will be able to stop these debates and get on with living, witnessing, praying and loving the way God would have us to do - according to His Word.

Foust77

03/27/2001 10:26:33 PM

Part 4 (read from bottem) ". I know of no one, certainly not Luke writing in the book of Acts, who believes that what Paul saw was the resuscitated physical body of Jesus." Hellllllllllllllllo. Damascus Road? Book of Acts. Authored by *Luke*. This article is a joke. Why does beliefnet continue to publish this guy? Eh. I have to go do something else now.

Foust77

03/27/2001 10:23:54 PM

"I do admit that for Christians to enter this subject honestly is to invite great anxiety." Yes, I'm shaking uncontrollably. Once again, Sprong has shaken my faith to its core. *yawn* "In Paul's recounting of Easter... Paul does use the phrase "on the third day," Ah, I was wondering when Sprong would use his favourite tactic. "The Bible dosen't mention it, so it didn't happen and nobody believed it did." Arguing from silence, yet again. cont

Foust77

03/27/2001 10:21:06 PM

Part 2 "The fact is that the great majority of contemporary biblical scholars have for almost 100 years been moving away from these conclusions" Is he trying to be funny here? He's saying that CS Lewis, Augustine & Milton are in the minority? Hahaha. "Critics will argue: "Are not Adam and Eve, the Virgin Birth, and even the miracles peripheral to the Christian faith--while the resurrection of Jesus is not?" No, they won't. This is a perfect example of Sprong talking about christians as if he knows what they think and will say. con't

Foust77

03/27/2001 10:20:15 PM

Part 1 Hahaha. I love Sprong's opening paragraphs where he attempts to pass himself off as an unbiased researcher. "I will follow wherever the search for truth takes me" He says this like he's not profoundly biased against and hostile to christianity. Ah, I see he goes on to display his usual ignorance and forces his own faulty assumptions upon the rest of us. "almost all Christians believed that the story of Adam and Eve was literal history" Um... still do. "They also asserted that the Christmas narratives of wandering stars, angels singing to hillside shepherds, and virgins who give birth were literally true and that all accounts of miracles attributed to Jesus actually happened." Again, still do. con't

allanbal

03/27/2001 10:14:18 PM

One fact that seems to escape both Bishop Spong and his critics on these pages is Paul's affirmation in I Corinthians 15 that the resurrection of Jesus is in the form of a spiritual body. Paul goes on to assert that flesh and blood cannot inherit the Kingdom of God. Therefore, the resurrection appearances of Jesus are not simply moments of inspiration or insight, but actual encounters with the divine spiritual presence of Jesus. I respect Bishop Spong's scholarship - I have read 3 of his books including that on resurrection, but I do feel he does not go far enough in attempting to understand spiritual realities. My faith is not threatened by raising questions about Biblical inerrancy; rather, the transforming experiences I have had in prayer, worship, and meditation on the words and person of Christ give me reason enough to affirm that Jesus indeed lives and reigns in a glorious spiritual heaven.

victorianprof

03/27/2001 09:45:51 PM

Hey, Narsil, they ought to get YOU to write columns--that would brighten up our day. Go Byzantium! Beat Tech!

revinpitts

03/27/2001 09:00:19 PM

The problem with the concept of a purely spiritual resurrection is that claiming that "It's as though Jesus were alive again" would scarcely have raised an eyebrow among those who persecuted the early Christian community. Portraying Jesus as a teacher of venerated memory alone,would not have been that dangerous. The disciples could have saved themselves much persecution, poverty, and even violent death by simply presenting Jesus in this more palatable way. Yet, they insisted on proclaiming that Jesus had conquered death in some way which was uniquely powerful and unexpected. That there are differences in the biblical account is not a problem for a non-literalist. Amazing events usually generate multiple and slightly different stories, but that doesn't mean the events didn't take place.

purpleku69

03/27/2001 08:53:06 PM

Hey Rave: Beliefnet says that "everyone believes in something," NOT "everyone believes what I believe." So Bishop Spong does not go along with your narrow mind (same to you, Sorrowful Mysteries). Having been raised Catholic, I can understand (but never again believe in) such insular bigotry. I heard it said once that if you have to "defend" your god, than your god is probably not worth defending. Who says Spong does not have it right, and you all are wrong? It just depends on your own point of view, doesn't it?

Narsil

03/27/2001 08:31:30 PM

The Spectacularly Rt. Rev. +Spong writes: "...no creditable New Testament scholar in the world, Protestant or Catholic, will defend [the proposition that the physical resurrection of Christ is necessary for Christianity]". ...this is, I think, called "arguing by asserting the conclusion". +Spong seems to define "creditable" scholars as those who do not believe in the Resurrection. Any traditional Christian is ruled out of the discussion right at the beginning. That's fair enough, I guess. When Christians talk about the Resurrection, we tend to ignore the views of apostates... so I suppose they're entitled to ignore us, too. "I know of no one... who believes that what Paul saw was the resuscitated physical body of Jesus." Don't get out much, do you, Rt. Rev.? I've met a lot of people who believe precisely that. I think you need to do a little more research.

Cephas

03/27/2001 08:30:59 PM

What Mr. Spong writes really doesn't prove or disprove anything as far as Jesus' resurrection goes. The only thing it does is to add mounting force of moral relativism running rampant through Christianity today. With over 2000 different denominations since Reformation no wonder there is such skeptism about. Personally, I don't think Mr. Spong has the right to interpet Scripture with any sense of authority. I believe that authority is rested in the Catholic Church. Look at it like you would the Supreme Court who has the final say on the interpertation of the Constitution. Without it everyone is a law unto themselves which is exactly what is happening in Christiandom today. The only way to stop it is to be as one again.

dougkatz

03/27/2001 08:28:10 PM

i was closed to my dad and it was a devastating when he passed away. But when i was mourning for him, i can feel him near me. does that mean he was resurrected too?

pakalolo

03/27/2001 08:14:07 PM

I think everyone is missing the point. All I read so far is the viewpoint that the Christian bible is not literal. The Christian bible itself proves that it is not literal by it's own gospels telling variations on a story. Does that make the religion any lesser? Is not Christianity based on faith? One person on this board said he has not experienced the "Risen Christ." For the person posting, surely this was an experience of faith and devotion. This wasn't an actual live being walking up to you and saying..." I am Jesus, worship me." If it was, seek medical treatment now if you believed them! I'm not Christian and therefore think I could see the forest for the trees. Also, I have the ability to look at all religions with a historical and social eye (even my own). My whole point is...lighten up. He is not saying the religion is false, he is just saying thinking the Easter story is not to be taken word for word. It is to be understood as a religiously significant moment in Christianity.

firinne916

03/27/2001 08:06:59 PM

My previous message was posted before i'd read frederica matthewes-Greene's article.(one of my favorite writers).Well said, frederica,well said...

firinne916

03/27/2001 07:59:39 PM

Mr. Spong has never experienced the Risen Christ. I don't fault him for that,but i do wish he wouldn't present his faithlessness before the world as scholarly exploration. The blind DO lead the blind at times,even when there's a multitude about them trying to lead them to sight....

tds777

03/27/2001 07:58:39 PM

This just proves the Bible more true.For in the last days mankind will not need the true and living God.But one designed of their own minds and their religion. Tit 3:10 A man that is an heretick after the first and second admonition reject;

sorrowful_mysteries

03/27/2001 07:48:22 PM

There is one fundamental issue concerning the Resurrection that very few people seem to have the courage to address. It is an issue that has no bearing on whether or not Jesus actually did rise from the dead as it is not an issue of evidence. This issue is this: Jesus was at least a good teacher, of that there is no debate. He spoke out and lived out a path in opposition to the forces of greed, hate, and evil that run this world. The deffenders of greed, hate, and evil murdered Him for it. If Jesus didn't STAY dead, then there is hope for the future. Greed, hate, and evil did their worst and, in one glorious moment, LOST. That loss gives us purpose and hope that Jesus' teachings are worth anything at all. If Jesus DID stay dead, then He is JUST ONE MORE example of how greed, hate, and evil ALWAYS win. Jesus goes down into the annals of history as yet one good teacher amongst many who were just plain wrong. Evil ALWAYS wins and probably ALWAYS will. Make of that what you will.

berdyaev

03/27/2001 07:38:59 PM

Rave, et. al. Cognitive Disonance hurts, huh? As a side note, an ad hominem doesn't actually prove anything except that the person offerring it has nothing to contribute to the conversation.

Rave

03/27/2001 07:17:05 PM

Another front page slam on Christianity by Doubtnet's own star reporter: Spong. Was not his last column last December during Advent where he said the whole Christmas story was false? Front page news back then. I was willing to put money that Doubtnet give us and Easter treat and let him slam Easter as well.

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