The Emerging Church

Column by Bishop John Shelby Spong on 17 August 2005 0 Comments
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I first heard of you when driving back to Melbourne from
Adelaide when you were interviewed by the Australian
Broadcasting Company. I subsequently purchased some of your
books and the theories you put forward opened up a completely
new way to appreciate Christianity. The only disappointing
thing to me seemed that you didn't stress in sufficient
detail your thoughts on the likelihood of an after life and
what form you believe it would take.


The subject of life after death dominated my study life
for almost three years. I hoped to write a book on that
subject but the deeper I got into the material, the less I
discovered that I could articulate other than informed
speculation. Since informed speculation is hardly worthy of
publication, the book was never written. In my opinion, no
one can know anything about life after death with the
certainty and the scholarship that writing a book requires.
However, I did write two chapters in two different books that
were designed to analyze the power of the idea and to state
what it is that I believe about this vast and mysterious
subject. A chapter can handle that - there is simply not
enough data for a book.

The first of these two chapters came at the end of my book
on Jesus' Resurrection, that bore the title:
Resurrection: Myth or Reality? A Bishop Rethinks the
Meaning of Easter
. The second was the next to last
chapter in my book, Why Christianity Must Change or Die:
A Bishop Speaks to believers in Exile

I believe in life after death. I do not know how to talk
about a realm beyond the human since all the words I know how
to use are shaped by the world of my human experience. Most
life after death talk is about behavior control, which I
regard as a sad chapter in the paternalistic history of
institutional church life. I have said in these two places
all that I can honestly say about life after death, not
because my confidence is weak but because my ability to put
my faith into words is so limited. I commend these two
chapters to you as at least a starting place.

— John Shelby Spong

New Book From Bishop Spong Available Now!

Exposing the Bible's Texts of Hate to Reveal the God of Love
"The Sins of Scripture challenges Christians to look beyond the myths of their faith into the heart of the matter."




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