John Shelby Spong

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Moral judgment is not life-giving; love that transcends the boundaries of judgment as Jesus' love did, is.
- John Shelby Spong
Collection: Jesus
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To have a great university library near you with plenty of archives of all the journals that you want to research in the twentieth century is a remarkable asset, and I spend a day, maybe two days a week in that library. I just plain love it.
- John Shelby Spong
Collection: Two
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[Charles] Darwin, for example, is the one who made us face the fact that the primary way we tell the Christ story doesn't work anymore.
- John Shelby Spong
Collection: Example
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We have a democracy within the bounds of a constitution which provides certain guarantees related to the basic humanity of every person. I think that's the best way to go.
- John Shelby Spong
Collection: Thinking
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I know that Arnold Toynby, the great historian, said he had always hoped the religions of the world would evolve until they began to bring the very best of each tradition into one tradition. He hoped that Christianity would be the one religion that finally incorporated the values of Hinduism and Buddhism, and enriched itself with them.
- John Shelby Spong
Collection: Buddhism
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The powers of nature are so great, and our power is so inept. So,in order to cope with the incredible anxiety that human self-consciousness produced, I think we created God in our own image, and then portrayed this God as having supernatural power that we didn't have.
- John Shelby Spong
Collection: Thinking
Image of John Shelby Spong
I'd like to turn the whole Jesus story around and look at it from a different vantage point, to consider that he was a human being who achieved such promise of humanity that he entered into what I think God is: mainly, the power of life, the power of love and what Paul Tillich, a German theologian of the mid-twentieth century, called "the ground of all being."
- John Shelby Spong
Collection: Jesus
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We were born in a Jewish world, as part of a Jewish faith tradition. We had to translate ourselves into the neo-Platonic thinking Greek world; that took us about 400 years. Then, finally a man named Augustine, the Bishop of Hippo, recast Christianity in terms of neo-Platonic thought.
- John Shelby Spong
Collection: Men
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I don't like to talk about it in those terms; it's impossible to describe who or what God "is." Suppose you were a horse, and you were asked to describe what a human being was like. You couldn't do it.
- John Shelby Spong
Collection: Horse
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Toward the end of his life, [Arnold] Toynby said the Christianity he saw developing was brittle, imperialistic and incapable of reforming itself.
- John Shelby Spong
Collection: Saws
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Some people think prayer is telling God what to do. I don't think that's the case.
- John Shelby Spong
Collection: Prayer
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Some people think prayer stops bullets or rockets or land mines. It doesn't. That's magic, that's not God. Sometimes, you're just in the wrong place at the wrong time.
- John Shelby Spong
Collection: Prayer
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I know Jerry [Falwell] fairly well, and he's probably not bright enough to recognize all of the implications of what he said.
- John Shelby Spong
Collection: Enough
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Another [book on Matthew] is Amy-Jill Levine, who is a Jewish woman who teaches New Testament at the Vanderbilt School of Religion. It's a group of essays by mostly womanly scholars looking at Matthew's gospel through feminists' eyes - very exciting. It opens up all sorts of things that I've never thought about.
- John Shelby Spong
Collection: Book
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Matthew is the only gospel that uses the Sermon on the Mount, for example, because that's the new Moses making a new interpretation of the law on a new mountain. So then you begin to put all these things together, and I don't know how you can make sense out of that book if you don't know the Jewish background.
- John Shelby Spong
Collection: Book
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Prayer cannot be a request made to a theistic deity to act in human history in a particular way.
- John Shelby Spong
Collection: Prayer
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The demolishment of the power of organized Christianity in the Western world to finally realize the emancipation of women and give them the vote in 1920. Women couldn't even own property in their own names until the last quarter of the 19th century in America.
- John Shelby Spong
Collection: Names
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[Apostol Paul's] views were translated as, "Your rule is to be kind to black people; you don't beat them." It's very much the way we treated women in the 14th and 15th centuries. A woman was not human, and you should be kind to your wife like you are to all dumb animals. That was the mentality.
- John Shelby Spong
Collection: Animal
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The church had to find a way to protect Jesus' perfection so that he could do the work of salvation which, in their frame of reference, only God could do, because God had to come into this world from outside this world to rescue the fallen creation.
- John Shelby Spong
Collection: Jesus
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Malachi, the last book of the Old Testament, says, "From the rising of the sun to its setting, God's name shall be great among the Gentiles." This encompasses the whole world. Suddenly it's not the Jews against the Gentiles, or my tribe against your tribe.
- John Shelby Spong
Collection: Book
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"You shall not covet your neighbor's wife, nor his ox, nor his ass, nor anything that is your neighbor's." Your neighbor is clearly a male, and the woman, the ox and the ass are property of the male. That's not morality I will salute today.
- John Shelby Spong
Collection: Wife
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Edward Schillebeeckx is probably as fine a New Testament scholar as I've ever read. He's a Dutchman. And he was harassed so many times that it was just painful for him. He constantly had to go to Rome to explain his views.
- John Shelby Spong
Collection: Views