Emily Jane Failla: A Special Life

Column by Bishop John Shelby Spong on 26 July 2006 0 Comments
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Why not refer readers both Christian/Church alumni/and

non-Christian readers to the recent publication of James Robinson's

"The Gospel of Jesus." It is a very well written account of how

the New Testament came to be but is most effective in isolating

the meat of the coco, his account of Jesus' own gospel as opposed

to that of Paul and Rome. He paints a picture of what I truly

believe the man Jesus was about that can only be described as

"awesome!" But mostly he points me, a retired minister, to the

tremendously exciting truth I could have been preaching...but

sadly, I just didn't know.


I am happy to recommend James Robinson's book along

with many others. Marcus Borg's "The Heart of Christianity" and

"Meeting Jesus Again for the First Time." Robert Fink's "Honest

to Jesus," perhaps even my own book, "This Hebrew Lord" may be

helpful to others.

The sad truth is that the scholarship present in the

Christian Academy for at least 200 years has not been shared with

the people sitting in the pews. This conspiracy of silence has

been carried out quite consciously for fear that these biblical

insights might destroy the faith of lay people and make the

minister's task more difficult. I have always believed that any

god who can be destroyed ought to be destroyed. If one's faith

has to be protected from truth, it has already died.

If the clergy would accept the fact that lay people

are not dumb sheep who cannot learn and stop insulting their

intelligence with the theological drivel, masquerading as a

sermon, and would take their educational task seriously, there

might be some excitement in the Christian Church.

Instead we are offered a choice between hysterical

fundamentalism and vapid liberalism. In my opinion both are dead

end streets. There is a hunger in the church for truth, not

illusion; for education, not propaganda; for the honoring of our

questions rather than the pretense that the clergy have all the

answers; for a journey into the mystery of God, not the

memorization of creedal formulas.

Across America and Canada and perhaps the world,

there are some local churches awakening to these possibilities

and the response is heartening.

It takes courage to risk. However, the alternative

is to die or to try to put a face-lift on the corpse of yesterday's

religious system.

For you to recognize this, even in retirement, is a

beautiful thing.

John Shelby Spong




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