An Open Letter to Political Leader Newt Gingrich and Religious Leader Pat Robertson

Column by Bishop John Shelby Spong on 21 October 2010 0 Comments
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I have only recently entered upon my religious inquiry path, having been raised in an American Baptist Convention Church, but really only attending church during my adulthood to support my wife who has been more involved. While I think I have always believed this is God's creation and we are a part of it, I haven't really paid much attention to it and, quite frankly, the biblical miracles and stories really seemed so impossible to me as to turn me off to the Bible generally.

Over the past year or so, I have read eight to ten books (including three of yours


Dear Phil,

Thanks or your letter and your comments on my writing. I am grateful.

The question you raise about a "New" New Testament does in fact represent a solution to the problem you have named. Those of us who pursue a scholarly probe of the Bible are swimming against a huge tide of biblical usage, memory and self-serving propaganda. Critical biblical scholarship has been publicly attacked by leaders of the Christian Church since it first appeared in Germany in the early years of the 19th century. Those whose agenda is to save the Bible from the profound ignorance that envelops it today are in fact regularly condemned by those who think that we are destroying the Bible. While this goes on, people abandon the Church in droves to take up citizenship in the secular city while those who remain identified with Christianity become more and more fundamentalist.

I prefer to remain inside the Church and force its doors and its people's hearts open to the fact that truth is bigger than the Bible or the Church and that a book of sacred scriptures that cannot face its own limitations cannot live into tomorrow. I seek to separate the experience to which the Bible points from the time bound and the time warped words it uses to explain that experience.

Critical Bible study is in short supply in most of our churches and is deeply resisted by many of the Church's members. Letters like yours represent hope for they express the yearning that still exists in the hearts of many.

My next book




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