Bishop John Shelby SpongThe Sins of Scripture
The Sins of Scripture
Bishop John Shelby Spong is one of the foremost agents of change in modern Christianity. Drink in his enlightened telling of the truly sacred meaning of the Bible and it’s blessing in our lives today.
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Bishop John Shelby Spong Text Excerpt
So I think for the audience to appreciate who you are and where you came from, let’s just take a couple of minutes and please give me a little narrative of this remarkable life of yours.
Bishop John Shelby Spong
I am happy to do that. I was born in what we call the Bible belt. I was an Evangelical Fundamentalist in Charlotte N.C. I grew up in a world that thought segregation was the will of God, that women were inferior to men, that it was okay to hate other religions and especially Jews. And that homosexuals were either mentally sick or morally depraved. And I’ve spent most of my life sort of exorcising the demons of my early religious upbringing.
The normal path when somebody’s disillusioned with their religious upbringing is that they give up religion all together. And the number of people who have done that is legion. But for reasons that I don’t fully understand, instead of giving it up, I decided to go into it far more deeply.
So my whole career, I’ve been a priest for 21 years and I was elected by my church to be a bishop. I served as a bishop for 24 years. I retired a few years ago. But during that period of time, I used my office to address racism, to address sexism, to address homophobia, and to address anti-Semitic and anti-other religions prejudices, in the heart of the Christian community. So it’s been an exciting, wonderful career. It doesn’t make you popular with the religious folks.
I was going to say, you must be one of the least celebrated bishops in the country.
Bishop John Shelby Spong
Well, I may be the best known. And there’s nothing wrong with that.
Now if you look back at the history of religious reformers though, they never, hardly do they survive. Jesus remember got executed. And so did many people in the dawn of the reformation. A man Giordano Bruno was put to death in 1600 because he challenged the idea that the earth was the center of the universe. You know, Galileo a 100 years ago** pretty well established that. But the Christian church, or religious institutions in general, are always conservative institutions, maintaining their power by claiming direct access from God. And so when somebody challenges the church, they are thought to be challenging God. Those things get deeply entwined. And there is a lot of hostility.
Remember the Christian church did the Inquisition. The Christian church fostered the crusades. The Christian church stood by silently while Hitler murdered six-million Jews during WWII.
We have a lot of dark chapters. I think the only way to get rid of the dark chapters of your life is to make them conscious and to raise them into the public light and to do some public repentance. And I think the Christian church is in a position where we need to do that.
Wow! What a radical voice from a Bishop inside of his Christian community for you to make these appraisals these—
** about 100 years after Bruno