Thursday, January 29, 2009

Another Awesome Bishop Spong Q & A - #2

I've said it before... Bishop John Shelby Spong IS an authoritative voice for believers in exile! And in part, his message is my understanding and core purpose for this blog - in the first place! I always have to disclaim that .. when I post the Q&As here that it might offend someone I know. But.. this is my blog and Why I'm here! I just love this man, and I am thankful for his ministry! For those seeking to experience Christianity in a new and vibrant way you too can subscribe to his newsletter, get some insight on another new way of thinking about the Bible and Christianity.

In light of the subject of Oprah's show yesterday and probably a host of others I'm unaware of regarding the supposed SIN-filled downfall of Pastor Ted Haggard and his sexuality confession/confusion.. This Question & Answer is timely. As I watched Oprah, I was wondering what questions Bishop Spong would get and post in his next newsletter. In my spirit, I'm not so sure that Haggard has reached a full understanding of himself, but I was proud of his attempt a full disclosure with Oprah's help. However, I also felt he must also be promoting something - a reality show perhaps? As it turns out there's an HBO documentary airing tonight. I don't normally watch Oprah, and since it was an ice day - no school, my indigo child and I found the subject intriguing, and Oprah showed us her real true light again! Provocative interviewer. We liked it.

Many Blessings to the readers of this message from the bottom of my heart!

KJ from Minnesota writes:
The news has been received that a California Episcopal Diocese (San Joaquin) has reached the second stage in voting to leave the national Episcopal Communion over the issue of homosexuality. The media is describing the anti-gay position as biblical, the pro-gay as being against Bible teaching. After reading Living in Sin and The Sins of Scripture, I can not believe that it is that simple. Reporters are not doing their job of careful investigation.
  • Have these biblical stories and texts that are quoted to support the anti-gay position ever been read, analyzed, thoroughly debated and defended in bishop's conferences? These are supposedly intelligent people who respect scholarship. How can they support exclusion on such flimsy evidence?
  • Am I wrong to think this struggle among Episcopalians might be a healthy thing, which resistance from the highest levels might be a way of teaching and illuminating facts and reality, exposing the prejudice for the evil it is?
  • Where is all this going? What could or should be done to bring about a rational and acceptable result?
Your thoughts, your comments, would be very much appreciated.

Dear Kenneth,

It is not fair to expect secular journalists to be biblical scholars, nor should it be anticipated that they would spend the necessary time to research the issue. It is for that reason that they tend to accept uncritically the oft-repeated Evangelical Protestant and Conservative Roman Catholic definitions that the Bible is anti-gay. If these people were honest, they would have to admit that the Bible is also pro-slavery and anti-women.

There is also a widely accepted mentality that if the Bible is opposed, the idea must be wrong. That is little more than nonsensical fundamentalism. The rise of democracy was contrary to the "clear teaching of the Bible," as the debate over the forced signing of the Magna Carta by King John of England in 1215 revealed. The Bible was quoted to prove that Galileo was wrong; that Darwin was wrong; that Freud was wrong; that allowing women to be educated, to vote, to enter the professions and to be ordained was wrong. So the fact that the Bible is quoted to prove that homosexuality is evil and to be condemned is hardly a strong argument, given the history of how many times the Bible has been wrong. I believe that most bishops know this but the Episcopal Church has some fundamentalist bishops and a few who are "fellow travelers" with fundamentalists.

The Bible was written between the years 1000 B.C.E. and 135 C.E. Our knowledge of almost everything has increased exponentially since that time. It is the height of ignorance to continue using the Bible as an encyclopedia of knowledge to keep dying prejudices intact. The media seems to cooperate in perpetuating that long ago abandoned biblical attitude.

That is not surprising since the religious people keep quoting it to justify their continued state of unenlightenment. That attitude is hardly worthy of the time it takes to engage it. I do not debate with members of the flat earth society either. Prejudices all die. The first sign that death is imminent comes when the prejudice is debated publicly. The tragedy is that church leaders back the wrong side of the conflict, which is happening today from the Pope to the Archbishop of Canterbury to the current crop of Evangelical leaders. That too will pass and the debate on homosexuality will be just one more embarrassment in Christian history.

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