Iowa's Vote - National and International Scandals

Column by Bishop John Shelby Spong on 9 January 2008 0 Comments
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Dear Friends,

Instead of the question and answer section of the column today, I want to share with you something written by a priest in the Church of England, who is under pressure from his Bishop to conform to traditional Church teaching and practice. He is, so far as I can discern, a faithful priest who is caught in that awkward position where he must violate his own conscience and integrity in order to conform to ecclesiastical expectations. Many clergy live in that place today as the Church becomes more and more closed minded and afraid and as its leaders move to put unity ahead of truth. I was so impressed with his work that I wanted to share it with you.

John Shelby Spong


I'm off!
I must leave the political and ethical compromises that have corrupted the faith of my Jesus.
I must leave the stifling theology, the patriarchal structures.
I must leave the enduring prejudices based on our God-given humanity, the colour of my skin, my gender or how my sexual orientation is practiced.
I must leave the mentality that encourages anyone to think that our doctrines are unchangeable.
I must leave the belief of those who insist that our sacred texts are without error.
I must leave the God of miracle and magic.
I must leave the promises of certainty, the illusion of possessing the true faith.
I must leave behind the claims of being the recipient of an unchallengeable revelation.
I must leave the neurotic religious desire to know that I am right, and to play at being God.
I must leave the claim that every other pathway to God is second-rate, that fellow Hindu
searchers in India, Buddhists in China and Tibet, Muslims in the Middle East and the Jews of Israel are inadequate.
I must leave the pathway that tells me that all other directions will get me lost.
I must leave the certain claim that my Jesus is the only way to God for everyone.
I must leave the ultimate act of human folly that says it is.
I must leave the Church, my home.
I must leave behind my familiar creeds and faith-symbols.
I can no longer stay in an unliveable place.
I must move to a place where I can once again sing the Lord's song.
I must move to where my faith-tradition can be revived and live on.
I must move to a place where children don't tell me what I believe is unbelievable but tell me they can believe what I believe.
I must move to a place where they are not playing at moving the deck chairs on the decks of an ecclesiastical Titanic.
I can never leave the God experience.
I can never walk away from the doorway into the divine that I believe I have found in the one I call the Christ and acknowledge as "my Lord."
I must move to dangerous and religiously threatening places.
I must move to where there is no theism, but still God.
I'm off! But to where, God only knows.

David Keighley, An English Anglican Priest




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