Wednesday, December 24, 2003

Spong’s Blasphemy

For amusement purposes, I signed up for a trial version of the enlightened Episcopalian Bishop John Shelby Spong’s Q&A mailing. (You too can sign up, here.) It is fun to follow the bishop's follies and to try to understand his thought process.

Here is a bit from my last two emails:

A reader asked a question based on Spong’s teaching that the stories of Jesus’ miraculous birth are "pious legends". Spong’s partial response:
There is no reputable New Testament scholar in the world today, either Catholic or protestant, who regards the birth stories of Matthew and Luke as history. I say reputable because there are a few evangelical fundamentalists and pre-Vatican II Roman Catholics who have not yet caught up with the last 150 years of biblical scholarship.

Yep, there are a few of us Luddites and Bumpkins that still believe in the Virgin birth. Spong goes on to argue that, in effect, the Jesus story is a "retelling" of Messianic prophecy, rather than its fulfillment. In other words it is not prophecy at all. A story is told once in the Old Testament (e.g., Abraham and Sarah) and then retold in the New Testament (Zechariah and Elizabeth).

Another reader asks Spong about Bishop Kelshaw of the Diocese of Rio Grande. Bishop Kelshaw has dissociated himself from gay Bishop Robinson of (it grieves me to say) New Hampshire. In addition to being blasphemous, Spong demonstrates that he can engage in an ad hominem attack:
The Diocese of the Rio Grande, under the leadership of its present bishop, Terrence Kelshaw, has drifted into the backwaters of the Episcopal Church. It was once an exciting Diocese. Bishop Kelshaw had a hard time adjusting to women priests and he clearly has a hard time with the issue of homosexuality. He is not highly regarded in the House of Bishops. I remember one occasion in the House of Bishops when he was supposed to lead the House in a discussion on Evangelism. His presentation was so poorly prepared and incompetent that the vast majority of the bishops decided that they needed a coffee break or a toilet break, so more bishops were in the halls than on the floor of the House. He has very little respect in the House except among the most ultra-reactionary types and they are few in number. He is not even a leader among them.
I highly recommend Bishop Spong for your amusement.

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