Monday, April 19, 2010

A New Christianity for a New World

A New Christianity for a New World by John Shelby Spong.

Borrowed from my local public library.

*** "Thought-provoking"

From the back cover: "...in A New Christianity for a New World, he presents his inspiring alternative of what true faith should be today - a Christianity premised upon justice, love, and the rise of a new humanity - and offers a unified vision of authentic Christian belief for the third millennium. Spong looks beyond traditional boundaries to open new avenues and a new vocabulary into the holy..."

I have been a member of several Christian churches over the years, all of which have been very traditional in their approach to the Bible and the fundamental truths of the faith. John Shelby Spong is synonymous with "heretic" for many of the congregation members. I, however, have always had an inquiring mind, and have always wanted to have avenues to explore my questions and doubts. A recent purchase of mine, The Sacredness of Questioning Everything by David Dark, has encouraged me that genuine questioning is essential for a healthy spiritual life. It is from that perspective that I have read A New Christianity for a New World.

If you are happy with your religious/spiritual experience, safe and secure in your particular beliefs/faith/tradition, then you probably won't be interested in this book. However, if you're a Christian who wonders and doubts, you'll probably find at least some of this book resonates for you. 

The thing that strikes me the most in this book, is the fact that Spong still very much identifies himself as a Christian, despite refuting all of the traditional fundamental tenets of the faith. At first I found that confusing, but reading further I realised that Spong is attempting to strip back all the layers of human attempts to define God; all the language and imagery of Christian cultures over the centuries. He aims to find what is left, the central truth, if you like, of God, when all the human inventions are removed. To my mind, that's a noble ideal.

Do I think Spong has succeeded in arguing convincingly for his new definition of Christianity? That's not really for me to say in the context of a book review. Suffice to say, he has set himself a daunting task. A lot of what he says is extremely controversial when said from within the church (Spong is a Bishop).

Would I recommend this book? I would say follow your own conscience on this one. If you believe that this book may damage your faith, then don't read it. But if you're intrigued, I think you'll find it well worth your time.

1 comment:

L S said...

Having trouble catching up on blogs and reading at the moment, though have heard of Spong. (Still working in the Theological library!) It's amazing how many points of view there can be. Just by reading the titles and mentally connecting them to other titles by the same author is often an interesting way to see how that particular author has changed their own views over time. Some are very consistent and others are all over the place!