A Thirty-Day Lecture Tour of Europe

Column by Bishop John Shelby Spong on 28 November 2013 0 Comments
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It was a pleasure to hear and meet you at Trinity Cathedral in Cleveland last November. We always enjoy your talks and books. It is exciting and such a relief to hear from a biblical scholar that the thoughts we have mulled over for many years – about God and the life of Jesus and what it all means for the world – are not totally crazy – or subversive! A small but growing study group, meeting in our home, enjoys discussing your books among others. So – thank you for sharing your knowledge! We know it has not been an easy road for you.

The question: Is there a “Progressive Christianity” study Bible available that would help us search Scripture and give historical background?


Dear Jackie and Bruce,

The ProgressiveChristianity.org that publishes my weekly column has begun the task of providing Church School material for children. They also monitor other resources that might be available for use in congregations. You might want to check in with them.

There is, however, no such thing as a “Progressive Christianity Study Bible.” Only fundamentalists, who are not progressive Christians, think that way. The Bible is a collection of 66 books (plus the Apocrypha) written over a period of about 1,000 years, between approximately 2,000-3,000 years ago, by a wide variety of different authors living under a wide variety of differing historical circumstances. No single volume could embrace that diversity. My 2011 book, Re-Claiming the Bible for a Non-Religious World was written to provide a single sweeping source to introduce the various books of the Bible to a study audience. That book will come as close to what you are seeking as I could recommend. I have just learned that Harper/Collins will very soon issue this book in paperback, which will make it more available and less expensive as a resource for group study. I have also been both amazed and pleased to discover how many small churches across the United States, where resources and money are in short supply, use this weekly column and/or the Question and Answer feature as the basis for their adult class every Sunday morning. The discussions engendered, I’m told, are quite energizing.

I think single book discussion groups are an incredible way to bring new ideas to a local congregation. So, I commend these few ideas to you.

My best,

John Shelby Spong




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