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David19
April 9th, 2010, 09:30 PM
I was wondering, what is everyones opinions of John Shelby Spong (http://www.johnshelbyspong.com/publicsite/index.aspx)?, today, I saw his book 'Jesus for the Non-Religious' in a bookshop, and was flicking through it, and did seem quite good, I haven't brought it, but, may one day (there's a few other books I want to get before then, though).

I like his view of not accepting everything in the Bible as Divine, although, I'm not sure if I'd agree with getting rid of everything supernatural/miracles/magical (that's just me, I think it's possible to do things that appear supernormal or supernatural, like many Hindu Yogis, Buddhists, Christian Mystics, Jewish Kabbalists and Rabbis, Sufis, etc have done), but, he definitely seems quite a cool guy, and I like how he supports LGBT people too.

Anyway, I just wanted to get your opinion on him, have you read his works, if so, what did you think?, do you like him?.

BTW, this is open to anyone - Pagans, Christians, Muslims, Atheists, whoever, etc, I'd like to get a diversity of opinions.

john.a
April 10th, 2010, 11:31 AM
The Scriptures are divinely inspired and the message contained therein is inerrant with respect to the genre and style that was chosen to convey it. To claim anything less calls not just all of Christianity's central tenets - but all of Judaism's central tenets.

His focus on social justice and anti-opression and his attempt at eliminating the Biblical miracles is perhaps a slightly obvious attempt at enticing some of the curious-yet-skeptical the Christian-would-be. Yet, I think it does more harm than good when we question the history of our faith as recorded and handed down in our Scriptures. It is the only link we have to a distant past - a past whose miraculous events are the basis of our worship, our creed, our theology and our devotion.

We can interpret the Bible - and in fact we are encouraged to do so - in a matter that is figurative, metaphorical and symbolic - but we must restrain are personal exegesis by the boundaries delineated by the genre and style of the specific book. Figuratively interpreting the Acts of the Apostles for instance would be kind of absurd yet figuratively interpreting the story of Noah and the giant fish would make a little more sense.

Yet in all this, the Scriptures, as literary works, are of divine origin. There is no getting around this in the dominating mainstream Christianities. God may sometimes write as a historian and sometimes He tells parables. Yet it is He, indeed, who is the author.

David19
April 10th, 2010, 08:33 PM
The Scriptures are divinely inspired and the message contained therein is inerrant with respect to the genre and style that was chosen to convey it. To claim anything less calls not just all of Christianity's central tenets - but all of Judaism's central tenets.

His focus on social justice and anti-opression and his attempt at eliminating the Biblical miracles is perhaps a slightly obvious attempt at enticing some of the curious-yet-skeptical the Christian-would-be. Yet, I think it does more harm than good when we question the history of our faith as recorded and handed down in our Scriptures. It is the only link we have to a distant past - a past whose miraculous events are the basis of our worship, our creed, our theology and our devotion.

We can interpret the Bible - and in fact we are encouraged to do so - in a matter that is figurative, metaphorical and symbolic - but we must restrain are personal exegesis by the boundaries delineated by the genre and style of the specific book. Figuratively interpreting the Acts of the Apostles for instance would be kind of absurd yet figuratively interpreting the story of Noah and the giant fish would make a little more sense.

Yet in all this, the Scriptures, as literary works, are of divine origin. There is no getting around this in the dominating mainstream Christianities. God may sometimes write as a historian and sometimes He tells parables. Yet it is He, indeed, who is the author.

Thanks for the reply, although, and this may be 'cause I draw more from a Jewish background, but, I like the Jewish tradition of wrestling with the Scriptures, of the idea that in each generation, the Scriptures must be reinterpreted and reimagined, what was relevant for one generation might not be relevant for another. I also like a quote from a very amazing Rabbi, who's name is Rabbi Zalman Schachter-Shalomi:


"Trying to give finite form to the Revelation of the Infinite is dangerous. You can't drive forward while looking through the rear-view mirror. The Revelation of Torah, for example, has no one single finite form. The Revelation might remain the same, but the form which mortals give it changes. Tradition, therefore, is a marker we leave behind us in previous life cycles so that when we come back we have some notion of where we left off. We need to look at tradition, therefore, not as a relic of the past but as a catalyst for the future."

I'm also not sure if I could agree everything was Divinely inspired, for example, there is evidence that, contrary to what many bigots and even Pagans say, the prohibitions against homosexuality that are found in Leviticus are actually foreign to ancient Judaism, and were implanted due to Zoroastrian/Persian influence (apparantly, Zoroastrians, in that time, associated homosexuality with Ahriman, the God of Evil) (that might both upset the bigots of Abrahamic religions by showing that the law they so love to talk about isn't actually from YHWH, and, it'll upset certain Pagans 'cause they no longer have an excuse for their anti-Semitism).

john.a
April 10th, 2010, 11:36 PM
Thanks for the reply, although, and this may be 'cause I draw more from a Jewish background, but, I like the Jewish tradition of wrestling with the Scriptures, of the idea that in each generation, the Scriptures must be reinterpreted and reimagined, what was relevant for one generation might not be relevant for another. I also like a quote from a very amazing Rabbi, who's name is Rabbi Zalman Schachter-Shalomi:

Several factors are at play here. Some denominations of Christianity also have no problem with the belief that the Scriptures are to be reinterpreted and reimagined as they're passed down through the generations, while the more observant Jewish groups throughout history down to the modern day regard the revelation of the Torah as having been given to the Jewish people through Moses on Mt. Sinai. I mean - that's not to say that I personally believe the Scriptures are devoid of new meaning - there is depth to the revelation and surely it was meant to positively impact many people in new, different ways throughout all of human history. We are allowed to see different interpretations and surrender to new imaginings. Yet I - and I'm sure many orthodox Jewish groups as well - would caution anyone in completely setting aside old interpretations and imaginings. There are things in Scriptures that are eternal. The LORD who says, "My covenant will be everlasting..." doesn't lie.


I'm also not sure if I could agree everything was Divinely inspired, for example, there is evidence that, contrary to what many bigots and even Pagans say, the prohibitions against homosexuality that are found in Leviticus are actually foreign to ancient Judaism, and were implanted due to Zoroastrian/Persian influence (apparantly, Zoroastrians, in that time, associated homosexuality with Ahriman, the God of Evil) (that might both upset the bigots of Abrahamic religions by showing that the law they so love to talk about isn't actually from YHWH, and, it'll upset certain Pagans 'cause they no longer have an excuse for their anti-Semitism).

You can, of course, disagree! I was simply just answering your question and telling you about why I disagree with several things that you presented were his personal beliefs. I am Catholic - and my beliefs reflect that whereas he is Anglican. He's a little bit more free in being as progressive and liberal as he wants and any Protestant can reinterpret and reimagine the Biblical faith in any way they please. It's kind of what happens with a Christian group that crowns personal revelation. They're sola scriptura. There is, of course, no absolute proof that the Scriptures, either in their entirety or specific parts, are divinely inspired. Nor is there absolute proof of the lateral. It's one of those things that one believes as de fide or not.

I am, as a gay Catholic, interested in what you claim about the prohibitions concerning homosexuality in Scripture and I'm definitely interested in checking out your sources! That kind of evidence would have to be pretty damn strong - the Zoroastrian texts would have to be pretty close to the Biblical texts to amount to any kind of "proof" that isn't just "probably coincidence." And even more, we'd need to know whether the Zoroastrian text was older than the Biblical text in order to see the direction of influence. How do we know the Jews did not influence the Persians? And even then - how is it not coincidence? Civilizations, kingdoms and tribes have at times condemned homosexuality and at other times, accepted it so long as the individuals were on the down-lo and still obeyed the heteronormative social pressures.

Lastly, I don't know if you meant to put it that way but I don't think talking about the Law and loving it and believing it was given by Ha Shem is automatically bigotry.

P.S. You might enjoy this movie. I downloaded it:

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=dnKfBvlZAcM

I can send it to you if you're interested. I want to download this one:

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=8LuON00TKAw

P.S.S. I hope I'm not derailing the thread. Anyone who feels these movies should maybe go in a different thread and I'll do so!

David19
April 12th, 2010, 09:19 PM
Several factors are at play here. Some denominations of Christianity also have no problem with the belief that the Scriptures are to be reinterpreted and reimagined as they're passed down through the generations, while the more observant Jewish groups throughout history down to the modern day regard the revelation of the Torah as having been given to the Jewish people through Moses on Mt. Sinai. I mean - that's not to say that I personally believe the Scriptures are devoid of new meaning - there is depth to the revelation and surely it was meant to positively impact many people in new, different ways throughout all of human history. We are allowed to see different interpretations and surrender to new imaginings. Yet I - and I'm sure many orthodox Jewish groups as well - would caution anyone in completely setting aside old interpretations and imaginings. There are things in Scriptures that are eternal. The LORD who says, "My covenant will be everlasting..." doesn't lie.



You can, of course, disagree! I was simply just answering your question and telling you about why I disagree with several things that you presented were his personal beliefs. I am Catholic - and my beliefs reflect that whereas he is Anglican. He's a little bit more free in being as progressive and liberal as he wants and any Protestant can reinterpret and reimagine the Biblical faith in any way they please. It's kind of what happens with a Christian group that crowns personal revelation. They're sola scriptura. There is, of course, no absolute proof that the Scriptures, either in their entirety or specific parts, are divinely inspired. Nor is there absolute proof of the lateral. It's one of those things that one believes as de fide or not.

Thanks, I'm not sure if I could ever interpet it as all being Divine, some it would be, but, others, I think, reflect human input (the Jewish Scriptures are a history of the Jewish people - it collects the laws, rites, rituals, beliefs, etc of them).


I am, as a gay Catholic, interested in what you claim about the prohibitions concerning homosexuality in Scripture and I'm definitely interested in checking out your sources! That kind of evidence would have to be pretty damn strong - the Zoroastrian texts would have to be pretty close to the Biblical texts to amount to any kind of "proof" that isn't just "probably coincidence." And even more, we'd need to know whether the Zoroastrian text was older than the Biblical text in order to see the direction of influence. How do we know the Jews did not influence the Persians? And even then - how is it not coincidence? Civilizations, kingdoms and tribes have at times condemned homosexuality and at other times, accepted it so long as the individuals were on the down-lo and still obeyed the heteronormative social pressures.

Well, I haven't managed to get the book yet, but, this was told to me by another Jew, he recommended the book 'Men, Homosexuality, and the Gods: An Exploration into the Religious Significance of Male Homosexuality in World Perspective' by John Dececco Phd & Ronald Long (http://www.amazon.com/Men-Homosexuality-Gods-Exploration-Significance/dp/1560231521), which I definitely will be getting, as it's something I'm very interested in (not just the Jewish parts, but, I'm interested in homosexuality in all cultures, really I'm interested in anything LGBT).

Also, this article is definitely a great one (http://home.earthlink.net/~ecorebbe/id18.html), it brings in the evidence found by some very knowledgable Rabbis, some of who are experts in Leviticus.


Lastly, I don't know if you meant to put it that way but I don't think talking about the Law and loving it and believing it was given by Ha Shem is automatically bigotry.

I didn't mean seeing the Sriptures as Divine was somehow bigotry, I meant, that the bigots who always quote the "man shall not have sex with another man" part will probably be annoyed - if it's shown that YHWH did not say or ordain it.


P.S. You might enjoy this movie. I downloaded it:

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=dnKfBvlZAcM

I can send it to you if you're interested. I want to download this one:

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=8LuON00TKAw

P.S.S. I hope I'm not derailing the thread. Anyone who feels these movies should maybe go in a different thread and I'll do so!

I think I've heard of those movies, I may try and watch them sometime (right now, I've already brought a lot of DVDs I need to watch).