The Bible is a Good Book, But God Didn’t Write It
Retired Episcopal Bishop John Shelby Spong is used to being a lightning rod for religious debate. Known affectionately as “Jack” to his friends, Spong has been taking religious literalists to task for over 40 years.
The bishop made a big splash a couple of years ago when he issued a “Manifesto” in which he declared: “I will no longer debate the issue of homosexuality in the church with anyone.” Southern Baptist Theological Seminary president Albert Mohler responded that this was fine with him as “Bishop Spong rejects any claim that the Bible is the Word of God.”
Mohler will find verification of his view in Spong’s new book Reclaiming the Bible for a Non-Religious World. Right there, on page 15, Spong writes: “I do not think for one moment that Bible is any literal sense the ‘Word of God.’” This book is Spong’s way of putting the Bible back in its right perspective — as a collection of “tribal” stories that sprang from “the experience of human beings seeking to make sense out of the life they are living and the things they are experiencing.”
Spong invites readers to consider the Bible more deeply. His approach opens up the Bible in a new way and invites us all to engage the texts, argue with them, and use it make new meaning for our own experiences and lives. This, Spong argues, makes the Bible more than a manual for morality, but a living document.
Religion Dispatches had the chance to talk with Bishop Spong about his new book, as well as his take on how religion has been shaping — and misshaping — the political landscape. [More]