When Spong visited Brisbane

Thank you to Dr Steven Nisbet OAM for facilitating yesterdays seminar for the Merthyr Rd Explorers.

For those who missed the seminar at New Farm, Brisbane, yesterday, here is the material that formed the basis of a very vibrant and enjoyable discussion by the large group.

The video:

(38) Bishop John Spong | The Weekly [Extended Interview] – YouTube


The top 25 Quotes by John Shelby Spong:

  1. “God is not a Christian, God is not a Jew, or a Muslim, or a Hindu, or a Buddhist. All of those are human systems which human beings have created to try to help us walk into the mystery of God. I honor my tradition, I walk through my tradition, but I don’t think my tradition defines God, I think it only points me to God.” ~ John Shelby Spong
  2. “I do assert that one prepares for eternity not by being religious and keeping the rules, but by living fully, loving wastefully, and daring to be all that each of us has the capacity to be.” ~ John Shelby Spong
  3. “True religion is not about possessing the truth. No religion does that. It is rather an invitation into a journey that leads one toward the mystery of God. Idolatry is religion pretending that it has all the answers.” ~ John Shelby Spong
  4. “You can’t go to church without praying ten or fifteen times for God to have mercy on you. You can’t sing “Amazing Grace” without reminding yourself that the reason God’s grace is amazing is it saves a wretch like you. This self-denigration stuff – Jesus died for my sins – is nothing but a guilt message. That’s the thing we’ve got to get out from under. That’s not Christianity. That’s sort of fourth-century Christianity that got turned into doctrines and dogmas that we’ve never been able to escape.” ~ John Shelby Spong
  5. “I do not think of God theistically, that is, as a being, supernatural in power, who dwells beyond the limits of my world. I rather experience God as the source of life willing me to live fully, the source of love calling me to love wastefully and to borrow a phrase from the theologian, Paul Tillich, as the Ground of being, calling me to be all that I can be.” ~ John Shelby Spong
  6. “The church is like a swimming pool. Most of the noise comes from the shallow end.” ~ John Shelby Spong
  7. “When the dust settles and the pages of history are written, it will not be the angry defenders of intolerance who have made the difference. The reward will go to those who dared to step outside the safety of their privacy in order to expose and rout the prevailing prejudices.” ~ John Shelby Spong
  8. “Christianity is, I believe, about expanded life, heightened consciousness and achieving a new humanity. It is not about closed minds, supernatural interventions, a fallen creation, guilt, original sin or divine rescue.” ~ John Shelby Spong
  9. “The Bible has lost every major battle it has ever fought. The Bible was quoted to defend slavery and the bible lost. The Bible was quoted to keep women silent, and the Bible lost. And the Bible is being quoted to deny homosexuals their equal rights, and the Bible will lose.” ~ John Shelby Spong
  10. “Praying and living deeply, richly and fully have become for me almost indistinguishable. Prayer is being present, sharing love, opening life to transcendence. It is not necessarily words addressed heavenward. Prayer is entering into the pain or joy of another person. Prayer is what I am doing when I love wastefully, passionately and wondrously and invite others to do so.” ~ John Shelby Spong
  11. “I could not believe that anyone who has read this book would be so foolish as to proclaim that the Bible in every literal word was the divinely inspired, inerrant word of God. Have these people simply not read the text? Are they hopelessly misinformed? Is there a different Bible? Are they blinded by a combination of ego needs and naïveté?” ~ John Shelby Spong
  12. “The view of the cross as the sacrifice for the sins of the world is a barbarian idea based on primitive concepts of God and must be dismissed.” ~ John Shelby Spong
  13. “The Bible is full of dreadful things. There’s a Psalm that says, “Happy will you be when you take your enemy’s children and dash their heads against the stones.” Don’t read that to me on Sunday morning and say “This is the word of the Lord.” It’s like that crazy man down in Alabama who wanted to put the Ten Commandments in his courtroom.” ~ John Shelby Spong
  14. “The Bible was written between 3,000 and 2,000 years ago, and it’s filled with the knowledge that people had in that period of time, some of which you and I rejected long ago. The Bible says that women are property, that homosexuals ought to be put to death, that anybody who worships a false God ought to be executed, that a child that talks back to his parents ought to be stoned at the gates of the city. Those ideas are absurd.” ~ John Shelby Spong
  15. “I think that anything that begins to give people a sense of their own worth and dignity is God.” ~ John Shelby Spong
  16. “So who is God? No one can finally say. That is not within human competence. All we can ever say is how we believe we have experienced God, doing our best to dispel our human delusions. Let me try to do just that. I experience God as the source of life calling me to live fully and thus to respect life in every form as embodying the holy.” ~ John Shelby Spong
  17. “All human beings bear God’s image and must be respected for what each person is. Therefore, no external description of one’s being, whether based on race, ethnicity, gender or sexual orientation, can properly be used as the basis for either rejection or discrimination.” ~ John Shelby Spong
  18. “In that process of coming to know that which we name as divine, the God who is love is slowly transformed into the love that is God. Let me repeat that…We breathe love in, and we breathe love out. It is omnipresent, omniscient, omnipotent. It is never exhausted, always expanding. When I try to describe this reality, words fail me; so I simply utter the name God. That name, however, is no longer for me the name of a being.” ~ John Shelby Spong
  19. “All religion seems to need to prove that it’s the only truth. And that’s where it turns demonic. Because that’s when you get religious wars and persecutions and burning heretics at the stake.” ~ John Shelby Spong
  20. “If the resurrection of Jesus cannot be believed except by assenting to the fantastic descriptions included in the Gospels, then Christianity is doomed. For that view of resurrection is not believable, and if that is all there is, then Christianity, which depends upon the truth and authenticity of Jesus’ resurrection, also is not believable.” ~ John Shelby Spong
  21. “There’s no way a human being can escape his or her human-ness to be able to imagine God. We can talk about how we’ve experienced God, not what or who God is.” ~ John Shelby Spong
  22. “I look at American Christianity and I’m almost in despair. I don’t want to be identified with it. The Christian vote in America is an anti-abortion, anti-homosexual vote. I consider that to be anti-female and anti-gay, and I don’t want to be identified with a God who is anti-anything.” ~ John Shelby Spong
  23. “Paul’s words are not the Words of God. They are the words of Paul – a vast difference.” ~ John Shelby Spong
  24. “I think one of the things we’ve got to look out for is human beings claiming that they know how God operates.” ~ John Shelby Spong
  25. “Papal infallibility and biblical inerrancy are the two ecclesiastical versions of this human idolatry. Both papal infallibility and biblical inerrancy require widespread and unchallenged ignorance to sustain their claims to power. Both are doomed as viable alternatives for the long- range future of anyone.” ~ John Shelby Spong.




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