PS yes I do know that Christians arguing among themselves and washing dirty linen in public gives occasion for much sarcastic laughter to enemies of the Gospel. This was anticipated in Scripture where the behaviour of some supposed believers was criticised as giving ammunition to opponents. OK, so Satan is a skilled strategian who creates discord by placing his agents in the church and devises heresies to which the faithful are forced to respond or deemed to accept by remaining silent. That this is happening tends to validate the Scripture that foretold it, some of which I cite below. And I am not wandering off my blog's main subject since this is all connected to Darwin. Spong and many of his brother heretics cite Darwin as their authority for 're-interpreting' (i.e. explaining away) the miraculous events in the Bible, beginning with creation, to fit in with 'modern science' (actually the philosophical assumption of materialism, which is not the same thing).
All this is in tune with modern secularist thinking, but plain contrary to the Bible. You expect it from a militant atheist, but not from a Christian bishop.
4 Peter said to Jesus, “Lord, it is good for us to be here. If you wish, I will put up three shelters—one for you, one for Moses and one for Elijah.”
5 While he was still speaking, a bright cloud covered them, and a voice from the cloud said, “This is my Son, whom I love; with him I am well pleased. Listen to him!”
6 When the disciples heard this, they fell facedown to the ground, terrified. 7 But Jesus came and touched them. “Get up,” he said. “Don’t be afraid.” 8 When they looked up, they saw no one except Jesus.
9 As they were coming down the mountain, Jesus instructed them, “Don’t tell anyone what you have seen, until the Son of Man has been raised from the dead.”
The incident is mentioned in all 3 synoptic Gospels, and is referenced in 2 Peter ch 1 vs 16 where Peter wrote
‘ For we did not follow cleverly devised stories when we told you about the coming of our Lord Jesus Christ in power, but we were eyewitnesses of his majesty. 17 He received honor and glory from God the Father when the voice came to him from the Majestic Glory, saying, “This is my Son, whom I love; with him I am well pleased.”[b] 18 We ourselves heard this voice that came from heaven when we were with him on the sacred mountain.’
Now this is interesting, because the whole gist of Spong’s argument is that in fact Peter and the other apostles DID in fact ‘follow cleverly devised stories’ and that the whole idea of Jesus performing miracles, fulfilling prophecies, rising from the dead and ascending into heaven were, in the immortal words of the village atheist ‘all made up’.
I cite this particular passage as it was on the radio this morning and as we find Peter specifically refuting the assertion that the false bishop Spong and others like him would make later.
In the end, this boils down to a couple of ‘either/or’ conundra (*). Do you believe the apostolic contemporary eye witness account, or the worldly wise commentator of centuries later? The fisherman whose preaching led 3,000 people to convert in one day (Acts chapter 2) or the metropolitan cleric under whose 'care' churchgoing in Newark fell off by 40%? Do you trust the apostle Peter, who lived and died for Jesus, or Spong who courts controversy to sell books? And since we know from Scripture (for example Matthew 24 where Jesus warns against false prophets THREE TIMES in one passage) that false prophets are inevitable, who do you think is the false prophet-the likes of Spong or those who cling to the plain teaching of the Bible that was held by saints and martyrs since the day of Pentecost? Because these positions really are opposed and can't both be true.
Peter wrote about the likes of Spong in the same letter, 2 Peter chapter 2 vss 1-3
They are wolves in sheep’s clothing, in other words-they are disguised to make them appear good when they are evil. False prophets don’t have a tattoo on their foreheads that says ‘I have come from Satan to devour you’ they are plausible and attractive, just like any serious con man. They probably talk a lot about ‘love, inclusivity, understanding’ and other warm words, and are invariably more concerned about global warming that warning sinners to flee from God’s coming judgment. Adultery is not a sin in their eyes, but ‘homophobia’ (***) is. They are very anxious to avoid being criticised by secular humanists, and they loathe people like me whom they call ‘biblical literalists’.
(*) conundra is the plural of conundrum. Call me pernickety but I do like using words correctly as far as possible.
(**) Christian doctrines rejected by the false bishop John Shelby Spong, lifted without editing from his Wikipedia entry
- Theism, as a way of defining God, is dead. So most theological God-talk is today meaningless. A new way to speak of God must be found.
- Since God can no longer be conceived in theistic terms, it becomes nonsensical to seek to understand Jesus as the incarnation of the theistic deity. So the Christology of the ages is bankrupt.
- The Biblical story of the perfect and finished creation from which human beings fell into sin is pre-Darwinian mythology and post-Darwinian nonsense.
- The virgin birth, understood as literal biology, makes Christ's divinity, as traditionally understood, impossible.
- The miracle stories of the New Testament can no longer be interpreted in a post-Newtonian world as supernatural events performed by an incarnate deity.
- The view of the cross as the sacrifice for the sins of the world is a barbarian idea based on primitive concepts of God and must be dismissed.
- Resurrection is an action of God. Jesus was raised into the meaning of God. It therefore cannot be a physical resuscitation occurring inside human history.
- The story of the Ascension assumed a three-tiered universe and is therefore not capable of being translated into the concepts of a post-Copernican space age.
- There is no external, objective, revealed standard written in scripture or on tablets of stone that will govern our ethical behavior for all time.
- Prayer cannot be a request made to a theistic deity to act in human history in a particular way.
- The hope for life after death must be separated forever from the behavior control mentality of reward and punishment. The Church must abandon, therefore, its reliance on guilt as a motivator of behavior.
- All human beings bear God's image and must be respected for what each person is. Therefore, no external description of one's being, whether based on race, ethnicity, gender or sexual orientation, can properly be used as the basis for either rejection or discrimination.