Charting a New Reformation – The Twelve Theses
by Bishop John Shelby Spong is an article that he updated in December 2015.
As part of his introduction Spong writes:
The explosion of knowledge over the last five hundred years in the West has rendered most of the biblical and creedal presuppositions to be unbelievable. They rise out of a world that no longer exists. Yet churches continue to operate as if eternal truth can be placed into these earthen vessels, proclaiming that in both the Bible and the creeds ultimate truth has been captured forever. The result is that Christianity seems less and less believable to more and more people. Can we separate the Christ experience from the dying explanations of the past? If we cannot then surely Christianity will continue its relentless journey into a declining irrelevance. If we can achieve this separation, however, the result will necessitate a reformulation of Christianity that is so radical that Christianity as we know it may well die in the process. Death or radical revision, however, appear to be the only realistic alternatives. I cast my vote for the latter.
I can relate to much of what Spong is saying. I sense that with his academic approach he has made a very strong case for the need for a radical revision of CHRISTENDOM with its dogma and traditions. But does anyone really believe that radical changes can come from within the Christian community (or as I would suggest, from within CHRISTENDOM with its 35,000+ different denominations)?
It seems to me to be important to recognise that every Christian denomination has its own traditions and theology and that each one can only take its members so far.
I have been asking some of those awkward questions to which there are no easy answers for a very long time. I have had many deep discussions over the years with people who question at least some of what they were taught, and others who no longer believe the Christian story. An article entitled, “20 Reasons to Abandon Christianity” seems to be a good reflection of many of the common reasons. How do you think this fits with the views of Spong?