In the history of the Western World, the Bible has been a perpetual source of inspiration and guidance for countless Christians. However, this Bible has also left a trail of pain. It is undeniable that the Bible is not always used for good. Sometimes the Bible can seem overtly evil. Sometimes its texts are terrible.
Bishop John Shelby Spong boldly approaches those texts that have been used through history to justify the denigration or persecution of others while carrying with them the implied and imposed authority of the claim that they were the "Word of God." As he exposes and challenges what he calls the "terrible texts of the Bible," laying bare the evil done by these texts in the name of God, he also seeks to redeem these texts, hoping to recover their ultimate depth and purpose. Spong looks specifically at texts used to justify homophobia, anti-Semitism, treating women as second-class humans, corporal punishment, and environmental degradation, but he also delivers a new picture of how Christians can use the Bible today.
As Spong battles against the way the Bible has been used throughout history, he provides a new framework, introducing people to a proper way to engage this holy book of the Judeo-Christian tradition.
John Shelby Spong
John Shelby Spong served the Episcopal Church as a priest and bishop for forty-five years. As a visiting lecturer at Harvard and at universities and churches throughout North America and the English-speaking world, he is one of the leading spokespersons for an open and engaged Christianity. He has initiated landmark controversial discussions within the church and is an outspoken advocate for change. His twenty-plus books, including The Sins of Scripture, A New Christianity for a New World, and his autobiography Here I Stand have sold over one million copies and have been translated into most of the major languages of the world. He also writes a weekly column for WaterFrontMedia. He lives with his wife, Christine, in Morris Plains, New Jersey.
Spong (Rescuing the Bible from Fundamentalism), a retired Episcopal bishop and prominent spokesperson for liberal Christianity, focuses this book on "terrible texts" which have been used to justify such "sins" as overbreeding, degradation of the environment, sexism, child abuse and anti-Semitism. These biblical texts, according to Spong, are not the incontrovertible Word of God, but flawed human responses to perceived threats. An incendiary example of this is Spongs assertion that Paul was a closeted gay man whose anti-gay statements were motivated by little more than his own self-loathing. Spong does not stop there; in the course of the book he suggests that Jesus and Mary Magdalene were married; that none of the supernatural events described in the Bible took place (including the resurrection); and that theism itself is a misunderstanding of God. Interestingly, readers who do not endorse Spongs radical reinterpretation of Christianity will still find much in this book they can affirm. His explanation of the roots of Christian anti-Semitism is fascinating and much less challenging to orthodoxy than many of his other claims. Unfortunately, Spong leads with his weakest section, which features a variety of poorly constructed arguments claiming, but giving inadequate evidence for, a strong causal relationship between biblical injunctions and both overpopulation and environmental problems. Nonetheless, this absorbing book has much to offer readers of all persuasions.
- Publishers Weekly
"A valuable modernist manifesto for progressive readers seeking a response to the conservative theology dominating the news these days."
- Boston Globe
"Another brilliant chapter in Spongs quest to rescue the Bible from fundamentalism."
- Robert W. Funk, Jesus Seminar, author of Honest to Jesus
"Remarkably insightful and honest, John Shelby Spong explores some of the most compelling issues of our time."
- Reverend Jarmo Tarkki, Ph.D.
"Spong demonstrates the prophetic vocation that prefers truth to lies, honesty to hypocrisy, common sense to sick religious ideologies."
- Matthew Fox, president, University of Creation Spirituality
"Spong lifts the myths surrounding scripture, stripping away the superfluous so the kernal of truth becomes reality."
- Reverend R. Robert Kimes, Director Religious Activities, Bay View, MI
"Spong shares his extraordinary gift of conveying the Bibles spiritual and ethical authority"
- Jack D. Spiro, Harry Lyons Distinguished Chair of Judaic Culture, Virginia Commonwealth University
"The Sins of Scripture challenges Christians to look beyond the myths of their faith into the heart of the matter."
- Bill OReilly, Anchor, Fox News Channel
"This absorbing book has much to offer readers of all persuasions." Publishers Weekly
"This book is long overdue..."
- New York Times
"With prophetic vigor, Spong lays bare the evil donein the name of God...[and] calls the Christian community to accountability...."
- Spirituality and Health magazine