J. S. Spong says this:
1. God is still envisioned as a “being” supernatural in power, dwelling somewhere external to this world, usually depicted as “above the sky.”
2. Prayer is largely an effort to manipulate God to conform to our wishes.
3. Heaven and hell are still largely “behavior controlling religious mechanisms” designed to get people to conform and obey.
4. Sacraments are the “means of grace” as if God is even subject to the religious institutions that arbitrarily decide who can be the recipient of grace and who cannot.
5. Neo-orthodoxy of the late 20th century has been replaced today by the oxymoronic slogan of “Progressive Orthodoxy” which reminds me of the political slogan “Compassionate Conservatism” that turned out to really be little more than rabid conservatism. Spong calls this “Progressive Orthodoxy” just “perfumed orthodoxy” – just the old orthodoxy put into a new spray perfume in hopes of making it a little more acceptable.
6. The organized expressions of Christianity, just as in many other organized religions, entertains the illusion that its understanding of God is “right” which, by implication, means every other religious understanding of God is “wrong,” and, as a consequence, if you want to go to heaven when you die, instead of the “other” awful place of eternal, conscious torment where you burn, burn, burn yet still, you’d better believe as our religion says to believe, or you will have no one to blame except yourself for your everlasting screw up. (Taken from “A New Christianity for a New World” newsletter, dated Oct. 10, 2013).
That last one I took a little liberty with. But do you realize how many sincere religious people I meet almost weekly who still live in the terror of these empty, dehumanizing and godless, religious notions?
How did any of this ever pass the “Good News” test? What’s “good” about it? It is offensive. Hurtful. Godless. Aberrant. And, it is a misguided reading of scripture. The damage it has done to people…to their potential for living productive, joyful, Christ-filled lives is beyond any imagination.
I am an advocate for change. There is nothing wrong with Christianity, my friend. Only the unbelievable expressions of it. The Jesus way of living…the Christ-path to Christ-consciousness is more real…more vital…more humanizing…more in line with who Jesus was, is, and wishes you and me to become than most of the nonsense you and I have been taught is truth. If you have not read Diana Butler Bass’ new book, Christianity after Religion: The End of Church and the Birth of a New Spiritual Awakening, I commend it to you.
Even as I write these things down, I find myself feeling deep inside that something has gone terribly wrong in much of what we say on the outside is “right” about our religion today.
What do you say?