The Fifth Fundamental The Second Coming

Column by Bishop John Shelby Spong on 31 October 2007 0 Comments
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I have been a subscriber to your weekly newsletter for some
time. I sincerely appreciate your opening up an entirely
different interpretation of biblical events, making it possible
for a person to question the literal view without feeling like
an evil person. I have certainly gained important insights into
the Bible and learned much about what doesn't make sense in the
literal interpretations. Of your several books, which do you
feel would be the most helpful and informative to read if I am
primarily looking for your view on what the Bible and
Christianity mean when they are stripped of the literal


The Bible has been used for centuries by Christians as a
weapon of control. To read it literally is to believe in a
three-tiered universe, to condone slavery, to treat women as
inferior creatures, to believe that sickness is caused by God's
punishment and that mental disease and epilepsy are caused by
demonic possession. When someone tells me that they believe the
Bible is the "literal and inerrant word of God," I always ask,
"Have you ever read it?"

I work on the Bible constantly. The two books I recommend to
you are Rescuing the Bible from Fundamentalism, a
survey of the entire Bible from Genesis to Revelation, and
The Sins of Scripture, in which I looked at the way the
Bible has been used throughout history to support prejudice, to
create stereotypes, to justify war, environmental degradation
and a host of other evils.

A literally understood Bible has been the source of great evil.
I think we should recognize that and state it clearly.

John Shelby Spong




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