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John Shelby Spong

John Shelby Spong (1931 - ) was born in Charlotte, North Carolina, educated in the public schools of Charlotte, was a Phi Beta Kappa graduate of the University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill in 1952 and received his Master of Divinity degree in 1955 from the Protestant Episcopal Theological Seminary in Virginia. That seminary and St. Paul's College have both conferred on him honorary Doctor of Divinity degrees. He served as rector of St. Joseph's Church in Durham, North Carolina from 1955 to 1957; rector of Calvary Parish, Tarboro, North Carolina from 1957 to 1965; rector of St. John's Church in Lynchburg, Virginia from 1965 to 1969; and rector of St. Paul's Church in Richmond, Virginia from 1969 to 1976. He was consecrated bishop in the Episcopal Church on June 12, 1976.

One prominent theme in Bishop Spong's writing is the need to rethink the basic ideas of Christianity to make them consistent with a postmodern understanding of the universe. He believes that theism has lost credibility as a valid conception of God's nature, and therefore rejects theism. He identifies himself as a Christian because he believes that Jesus fully expressed God's presence, but he does not believe that Jesus was sent to the world as the result of divine intervention in human history. He further rejects traditional theistic Christian ideas about Jesus, such as the virgin birth and the resurrection of Jesus Christ. He has also been a strong proponent of feminism and gay rights within the church and within society at large. Towards these ends, he calls for a new Reformation, in which many of Christianity's basic doctrines should be reformulated. These beliefs are most fully outlined in his book A New Christianity for a New World: Why Traditional Faith Is Dying and How a New Faith Is Being Born.

Published Books

  • 1973 - Honest Prayer
  • 1974 - This Hebrew Lord
  • 1975 - Christpower
  • 1975 - Dialogue: In Search of Jewish-Christian Understanding
  • 1976 - Life Approaches Death: a Dialogue on Ethics in Medicine
  • 1980 - The Easter Moment
  • 1983 - Into the Whirlwind, the Future of the Church
  • 1986 - Beyond Moralism, a Contemporary View of the Ten Commandments (co-authored with Denise G. Haines, Archdeacon)
  • 1987 - Consciousness and Survival, an Interdisciplinary Inquiry into the possibility of Life Beyond Biological Death (Edited by John S. Spong, Introduction by John S. Spong.)
  • 1988 - Living in Sin? A Bishop Rethinks Human Sexuality
  • 1991 - Rescuing the Bible from Fundamentalism[?]: A Bishop Rethinks the Meaning of Scripture.
  • 1992 - Born of a Woman, A Bishop Rethinks the Birth of Jesus
  • 1994 - Resurrection: Myth or Reality? A Bishop's Search for the Origins of Christianity
  • 1996 - Liberating the Gospels: Reading the Bible with Jewish Eyes
  • 1999 - Why Christianity Must Change or Die: A Bishop Speaks to Believers In Exile
  • 2002 - A New Christianity for a New World: Why Traditional Faith Is Dying and How a New Faith Is Being Born

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