Wednesday, October 21, 2009

Spong is Wrong

Recently, John Shelby Spong has shot his most recent salvo across the noses of those who continue to hold the catholic faith and ethic. He calls us the "b" word (bigot) and lumps us in with flat-earthers and slavery defenders (nice strawman). Just as he won't hold dialogue with flat-earthers or slavery defenders (which are where, again?) - so he won't discuss the ethics of same-sex erotic relationships with those who take the opposite side.
I have been part of this debate for years, but things do get settled and this issue is now settled for me. I do not debate any longer with members of the "Flat Earth Society" either.
In the Episcopal Church - of which he remains some sort of high-ranking ecclesial officer in good standing - this is called "openness" and indaba. (In other words, you need to be open to our innovations on the faith and discipline of the Church, and then listen while we tell you you're an oppressive, morally bankrupt simpleton.) Here are some more excerpts:
I have made a decision. I will no longer debate the issue of homosexuality in the church with anyone. I will no longer engage the biblical ignorance that emanates from so many right-wing Christians about how the Bible condemns homosexuality, as if that point of view still has any credibility....I have been part of this debate for years, but things do get settled and this issue is now settled for me. I do not debate any longer with members of the "Flat Earth Society" either.
Even advocates of the revisionist position* admit that the biblical evidence is on the side of the historic faith. But Mr. Spong cares little about the evidence, and even less about the authority of the Scriptures. (In spite of any vows he made to defend them as - some sort of high-ranking ecclesial officer in good standing.) Spong has already admitted that Scripture condemns homosexuality. You can watch it, but here's what he says:

Spong: But let me say that I do not disagree that homosexuality is condemned in Scripture. I do not agree with that.

Ankerberg: Yes, you’ve said that before.

Spong: I think that is obvious. It’s in Leviticus; it’s in the Sodom and Gomorrah story; it’s in the Pauline corpus at least, and probably some other places…

Ankerberg: All right, we’re…

Spong: The issue in my mind is not that. The issue is whether or not the people who lived at the time of the Bible and who wrote about homosexuality understood the scientific meaning of homosexuality.
But, as Jude warned us:
10 But these people blaspheme all that they do not understand, and they are destroyed by all that they, like unreasoning animals, understand instinctively. 11Woe to them! For they walked in the way of Cain and abandoned themselves for the sake of gain to Balaam’s error and perished in Korah’s rebellion. 12These are hidden reefs at your love feasts, as they feast with you without fear, shepherds feeding themselves; waterless clouds, swept along by winds; fruitless trees in late autumn, twice dead, uprooted; 13 wild waves of the sea, casting up the foam of their own shame; wandering stars, for whom the gloom of utter darkness has been reserved forever.
Speaking of casting up foam to their own shame...
I will no longer temper my understanding of truth in order to pretend that I have even a tiny smidgen of respect for the appalling negativity that continues to emanate from religious circles where the church has for centuries conveniently perfumed its ongoing prejudices against blacks, Jews, women and homosexual persons with what it assumes is "high-sounding, pious rhetoric."
Yeah...we conservative types are the sort that keep condemning the Jews with "high-sounding, pious rhetoric." Oh wait...that's the TEC revisionistas.

He even takes on Abp. Duncan, who has already responded to Mr. Spong's errors (begining with his 1998 12, Theses).**
I will dismiss as unworthy of any more of my attention the wild, false and uninformed opinions of such would-be religious leaders as Pat Robertson, James Dobson, Jerry Falwell, Jimmy Swaggart, Albert Mohler, and Robert Duncan.
Yeah...real nuanced. All of those guys are so practically alike as to make no distinction possible, much less desirable.

To be honest, Spong's problems go much deeper than his disregard for the Scripture's teaching on homosexual behavior. His big problem is with God Almighty. Spong casts scorn on the whole notion of theism, and has such an unnuanced fundamentalist materialist bent to his mindset that he's incapable of making any sense of the Resurrection or Ascension (much less the Incarnation).

And because of that, he is to be pitied. Because, one thing is sure - the striving is over. The battle is won, and there's no need to argue about it. Rather, it's time to simply proclaim the dogma and live into that truth. So here's some help to do just that.
Woodley Ensemble - The Strife is O'er (Palestrina)

Found at bee mp3 search engine

* Bailey, Homosexuality and the Western Christian Tradition, p. 30, and Spong himself during the “Martin/Spong Debate on Sexual Ethics,” transcript from The John Ankerberg Show.
cf. J. Gordon Melton, The Churches Speak On: Homosexuality; Official Statements from Religious Bodies and Ecumenical Organizations (Detroit: Gale Research, 1991), xxii.

John Spong: An apostle no longer

Beloved in the Lord,

It was with the most profound sorrow that I received and read the twelve theses of John Spong, recently published. At point after point these few sentences contain an explicit denial of the Christian faith. The incarnation and atoning sacrifice of Jesus Christ are denied; the efficacy of prayer and the work of the Holy Spirit are declared null; scripture and creeds are no longer trustworthy guides.

The man set aside as Bishop of Newark for the last twenty years has placed his theses before the Christian world and called for debate. The debate will be between those who profess the Christian faith and one who offers some other religion.

As I travel about our diocese, I see the pain and confusion which this shepherd-become-wolf is causing my people, not to mention that wider fellowship which is all the baptized in Christ Jesus. What this errant brother is doing must be named for what it is, not apostolate but apostasy.

What John Spong proposes as a reformed Christianity abandons every revealed essential. It is not Christianity. It is a counterfeit.

Everything I promised to do at my ordination requires that I speak clearly at this moment. Most especially pastoral compassion and gospel witness require a timely word both to the people of God and to the world at large.

We in the Episcopal Diocese of Pittsburgh -- like Christians in every age -- have our disagreements about how the boundaries of Christian response to the cultures and peoples among which we minister are to be shaped. When we disagree here, it is because of our deep conviction for and experience of the One God -- both transcendent and immanent -- revealed in Scripture, Tradition and Reason as Father, Son, and Holy Spirit. This is not the circumstance with which John Spong confronts us. We are confronted now by one who has become an outsider, one who by his philosophical, intellectual and credal shifts no longer reasons out of that bedrock of Christian faith that always shapes our local debates.

Pray for the Episcopal Church and for our Anglican Communion as the bishops prepare to gather at Lambeth. We are a worldwide fellowship of immense missionary faithfulness and of magnificent local diversity. Nevertheless, we must also be a communion that can recognize when an apostle is one no longer, or when a teaching must be declared utterly false

Faithfully your bishop,

+Robert VII Pittsburgh

1 comment:

Viola Larson said...

Thank you Chris- I looked for it on You-Tube but didn't find anything good. And thank you for the additional information. Apostasy is right.