Did Jesus Really Raise the Dead? Part II - The Widow's Son in the Village of Nain

Column by Bishop John Shelby Spong on 17 January 2006 0 Comments
Please login with your account to read this essay.


We are studying "A New Christianity for a New World" at our church study

group. One question raised last night was the implication of continuing

with the words, "This is the Word of God" following our bible readings in

church on Sundays. What alternative words could better reflect the role of

the Bible in post-modern Christianity?


Yours is a very good question. There are some lessons from the Bible

that when read you want to say, "This is the Word of the Lord?" I think of

God slaying the first-born male in every Egyptian household on the night of

the Passover, of Samuel instructing King Saul to practice genocide on the

Amalekites or even Elisha calling out some she bears to eat up some little

boys who have insulted him. If that is the word of God, I want nothing to

do with that deity. The phrase, "This is the Word of God" comes out of that

period of history before biblical scholarship and higher criticism began.

It is terribly misleading and ought to be abandoned.

When I was an active bishop, I borrowed a phrase from the New Zealand

Anglican prayer book and closed lessons by saying, "Hear what the Spirit is

saying to the Church." Sometimes I'm convinced the Spirit is saying,

"Please do not take these words literally" or "These words are not worthy of

the God we meet in Jesus of Nazareth."

The Church teaches through its liturgy. We need to look carefully at

what that teaching is and move to modify it wherever necessary.

Thanks for raising this issue.

John Shelby Spong




Leave a Reply