Spong, John Shelby
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Time Period
6/16/1931
Description
John Shelby Spong is a retired Episcopal bishop of Newark and best-selling author of religion books that questioned several popularly held Christian beliefs, such as Jesus’ virgin birth and bodily resurrection. Starkly liberal in his theology, Spong’s chief quests, as he would tell audiences, were to wrestle the Bible from literalists and reclaim it for a secular world. Among his critics was Archbishop of Canterbury Rowan Williams, who said Spong’s 'own continuing commitment to the [Christian] tradition becomes incomprehensible.'
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Narrative
John Shelby Spong was raised in a conservative religious home in Charlotte, North Carolina and earned a Master of Divinity degree from Episcopal Theological Seminary. After twenty years pastoring Episcopalian churches in North Carolina and Virginia, he was appointed the Bishop of Newark from 1979-2000.

Starting in the 1970s, Spong authored more than two dozen best-selling books on religion, most of which focused on elements of "secular theology." In 1998, Spong issued a Call for a New Reformation and offered twelve theses encapsulating his theology. Spong pulled many of these ideas from theologian John Robinson, whose 1963 book Honest to God revolutionized Spong's understanding of Christianity.

Like Robinson, Spong says that "theism...is dead." Instead, he defines God with a concept borrowed from existentialist theologian Paul Tillich, that God is the "Ground of Being" rather than a personal, knowable deity. He also rejects the proposition that there is an "external, objective, revealed standard writ in scripture," accusing Biblical literalists of over-interpreting Jewish and Christian mythology. Spong's call attracted many critics, including the Archbishop of Canterbury Rowan Williams, who argued that Spong's "own continuing commitment to the [Christian] tradition becomes incomprehensible."
Religious Groups
Timeline Entries for the same religious group Anglicanism Family
Anglicanism Family: Other ARDA Links

Photographs

John Spong portrait- Flickr- photo by Scott Griessel (CC BY-SA 2.0)

John Spong preaching 2- Flickr- photo by Scott Griessel (CC BY-NC-ND 2.0)

John Spong preaching- Flickr- photo by Scott Griessel (CC BY-NC-ND 2.0)
Web Source(s)
http://chqdaily.com/2012/06/28/spong-dissects-virgin-birth-story-in-gospel-of-matthew/
Spong Dissects Virgin Birth Account
Web Page Contributor
Paul Matzko
Affliated with: Pennsylvania State University, Ph.D. in History

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