Rescuing the Bible from Fundamentalism: A Bishop Rethinks the Meaning of ScriptureJohn Shelby SpongHarperOne / 1992 / Trade Paperback$14.39 Retail:3 Stars Out Of 5 1 Reviews
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Philip TuttSacramento, CAAge: Over 65Gender: male3 Stars Out Of 5A Few Grains of Wheat Amid the ChaffJanuary 6, 2013Philip TuttSacramento, CAAge: Over 65Gender: maleQuality: 3Value: 3Meets Expectations: 2This work, written by a "controversial" Episcopal bishop (John Shelby Spong) proposes a venture to save Christianity from fundamentalism. In the epilogue (which I suggest that the reader peruse first), the author says "... it has been my purpose to call people into a love of Scripture for what it is--a chronicle written by our ancestors in faith as they walked through history in the presence of their God." Looking back at the book, I do not think that he has been successful. He seem to be addressing "mainline churches", whatever these may be. I had to wonder as I was reading, however, who exactly the target audience was. Fundamentalists, at least of the variety which I call "knee-jerk" (don't question, just believe) will simply tune him out. Those who take a more scholarly view of the Bible will find nothing new or valuable in observations that sum up in such ideas as: pre-scientific world views get displaced by science. Atheists and agnostics will do little more than continue to watch (some gleefully) from the intellectual sidelines as Christianity goes through yet another internal revolution, this time, at least, (mostly) bloodless. The upshot, for me, is that I do not believe that Christianity stands on the edge of extinction (I have more faith in the Holy Spirit than at least one bishop seems to). While I do not defend fundamentalism, I think that the author gets it wrong by concluding that certainty of faith is the driving motive of those who follow a literalist route. Rather, the motive is simplicity of faith. Where I think that author is absolutely right is in the implication of his (somewhat long-winded) critique of literalism (an insight which I do not find well-developed in this work) that simplicity of faith is not credal. It is, instead, borne of an internal receptivity to God's love which Jesus exemplifies to us in his "little children" teachings. Had the author focused on this point, what he proposed to do would, very likely, have been considerably advanced.
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