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January 04, 2008


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Ann Marie

As humans, we know death as permanent - but with God we know all things to be possible.

I owe Spong a debt of gratitude for the help his books gave me with his questioning. I love the challenges he presented as they made me more firm in what I do believe and knowing why I believe it. By the time I started seminary and we were discussing the various understandings of the resurrection, I already knew that I did not have to cross my fingers when I said the creed - "I believe in the resurrection of the body" - and why I believed what I did. Rather than believing just because I had been told it was so, I believed because I had discovered that it was so. Spong's "Rescuing the Bible from Fundamentalism" was key in starting my own ownership of my faith - I believed because I had discovered that it was true, rather than because someone had told me what to believe. I have to admit that I have never been good at doing or believing what I am told to.

Love and Prayers,
Ann Marie


Joe, I've oftened wondered how people like this get to stay as bishops. Is there nothing in the church hierarchy that says, "Your job is to teach what we believe, and since you are actively teaching something that the church does not stand for, you no longer have a job."
Perhaps the concern is that it will start a theological witch-hunt. But the complete lack of any discipline, allowing our leaders to actively teach against what the church officially stands for, seems just as bad.

Scott Gilbreath

Certainly a crucified man, executed and buried on Friday, cannot walk out of his tomb resuscitated and alive on Sunday... I must reject all these things as not possible.

St Paul has a rather different take:
If there is no resurrection of the dead, then not even Christ has been raised. And if Christ has not been raised, then our preaching is in vain and your faith is in vain.


Ann Marie - thanks for sharing. From my own journey, I would have to say that I first learned to question the "false gods" from Socrates - someone who predates Spong by a bit. But more importantly, I learned from Socrates how to question. It is a subject I hope to post on at some point - the "how" of questioning versus merely rejecting. I think Spong sets up too many straw men in his approach. However, I will try to (gasp, ugghh) get through the book and sift his thoughts as openly as possible. It seems to me, though, that his modernist presuppositions are showing from the very outset.

Alex - there are those pesky things called ordination vows. I think you are right that at least part of the concern is the witch hunt. On the other hand, there is a major difference between being misguided and being misguiding. In our own day and age, I see that we can become upset over violations of the canons of Nicea, but less so over rejection of the creed of Nicea.

Scott - yes, there is quite a contrast, isn't there? I've never found the former sentiments helpful in the hospital room or at the graveside.

Prairie Words

Well he is in good company with +Ingham who denies Creation and resurrection. Do they lip sync the Creed? No gentlemen it's not just SSA that is driving us away it's your total denial of faith.


I'm almost at page 100 now. One interesting observation: for all his debunking, there is no credible explanation given as to why, of all the humans in history, it should be the figure of Jesus of Nazareth around whom these mythologies have arisen. It is as if he does not even recognize this as a fundamental flaw in his approach. Given that the miraculous, the resurrection and the divine are stripped away from Jesus, why on earth has this supposed mythology arisen around him in particular?


Actually, I'm not that fond of Spong. I'm not bothered by the questioning. I just don't see what his point is.

Abigail Ann Young

Yes, I too find Spong kind of leaves me cold. My own journey was immeasurably helped by J.A.T. Robinson, the infamous (in his day) bishop who wrote Honest to God but now both Borg and Spong do nothing for me -- I think I am in the wrong point in my own spiritual life and now asking different questions.

About Bp Ingham -- I don't know a great deal about him (I heard him preach once and speak another time)-- the sermon made me uncomfortable but there certainly wasn't anything in it that could be construed as denying creation or the resurrection. Does he do this in one of his books?



I'm always a bit suspicious when I see conservative and "conservative" commentators claiming that this, that or another ecclesiastical liberal denies this, that or another tenet of the faith. Certainly I've seen or heard nothing from Ingham that denies either creation or resurrection.

Often, this becomes like the hackneyed claim that the Episcopal Church is unitarian - based on nothing at all that I can find. Or the claim that it is somehow okay for an Episcopal priest to be a Muslim - based on a completely false account of real events. (One troubled priest claimed to be both a Muslim and a Christian. Far from it being okay, she was, rightly, suspended by her bishop within hours of it becoming known.)

I am personally offended by Venables's dishonest comments in his "pastoral" letter in which he clearly and unequivocally implies that the Anglican Church of Canada denies that Jesus is Lord.

As to Ingham - as I say, I've seen nothing - and neither has Abigail - to support the accusation from Prairie Words.

The solution is simple. Let PW present some evidence, or let PW withdraw the accusation gracefully.


I think one the two-edged swords of Anglicanism is our acceptance of the tradition of speculative theology. One the one hand it can give rise to what we might see as genuinely fresh insights and expressions of faith. At the same time, if we become too afraid of limits or doctrinal boundaries, then our speculative theology can simply wander off the edge. I haven't read anything specific from Bishop Ingham denying those doctrines as such. I have read his interpretation and application of those doctrines (eg address to the Whole Message conference) with which I and a good many others would disagree.

Abigail Ann Young

Joseph, that's a very good point, about speculative theology wandering off the edge -- and I like the image, too -- I'd like to see a Dave Walker cartoon of that! What is the Whole Message conference?


Scott Gilbreath


Bishop Ingham's address to the Whole Message Conference is posted here and other related materials here.

In my view, Joseph's characterisation of Ingham's theology as "speculative" is generous. I'd be inclined to call it "fanciful", and I'd probably throw in "tendentious" as well. (But I guess that's why Joseph's a pastor and I'm not.)


Good grief!

I just read the first few paragraphs of Michael Ingham's address.

He doesn't understand what Paul meant by the Greek word 'sarx'.

He thinks agapé is purely spiritual and therefore non-physical. Apparently he missed the footwashing part!

Really, really wondering why I should bother to read on!


Bishop Spong is now trying to make a case (pg 151 ff) against the possibility of Palm Sunday as described in the gospels because there would not have been leafy branches at Passover time (March/ April) in Jerusalem. This, I can tell you from first hand experience, is not the soundest of arguments.
ps - perhaps one should also discover whether Phoenix dactylifera L. is an evergreen, and therefore does not lose its leaves in an annual cycle...

pps - we can save discussions of other theological voices for another thread... :^)

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  • Copyright Rev. Joseph Walker, St Timothy's Anglican Church

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