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What's Wrong With Bishop Spong

What's Wrong With Bishop Spong

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Absolute Truth and Morality. From Answers in Genesis.
Absolute Truth and Morality. From Answers in Genesis.

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Published by: pilesar on Feb 23, 2013
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What’s Wrong With Bishop Spong?Laymen Rethink the Scholarship of John Shelby Spong
 by Michael Bott and Jonathan Sarfati NB: Reprinted (slightly modified and updated for the Internet, April 98) with permissionfrom
 Apologia
 
4
(1):3–27, 1995.
 Apologia
is the journal of theWellington ChristianApologetics Society. Its address is: The Editor,
 Apologia
, 106 Hataitai Rd, Hataitai,Wellington, New Zealand; Phone/fax (+64-4) 386-1067. Or email 
.
Introduction
John Shelby Spong is an influential public speaker, writer and media figure. He is alsoBishop of Newark in New Jersey. He claims he is a Christian yet he champions causesthat historic Christianity has often fought tooth and nail against. Bishop Spong is wellknown for ordaining practising homosexuals, denying the bodily resurrection and virginalconception
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 of Christ, and for deriving his moral code from modern human experiencerather than the Bible.Bishop Spong is often described as a great scholar and intellectual giant who ‘has theguts to tell it like it is’ (see back cover of 
 Living in Sin
[LS — see the bibliography for  abbreviations of Spong’s books]), whereas all Christians who oppose him are ignorant‘fundamentalists’ and ‘literalizers’. Indeed, one Australian reviewer said, ‘Thank God for Spong!’ In Spong’s world, works which support his view are described as ‘well writtenand even brilliant works of biblical scholarship’; whereas works supporting biblicalinerrancy are ‘tracts, pamphlets, and books from the pens of fundamentalist Christians’(
 Rescuing the Bible from Fundamentalism
[RBF] p. x).It was after reading comments such as these that we decided to investigate the work andtheology of John Spong. We aimed to see whether his case against Christian orthodoxy isas persuasive as he claims. We also aimed to see whether orthodoxy has any solutions tothe doubts he raises.We intend to do this by focusing chiefly on the following overview:
 
1) Spong’s World View
Spong rejoices in uncertainty and the supposed relativity of all truth in
 Into theWhirlwind 
(ITW pp. 12 ff.). Also, in
 Resurrection: Myth or Reality?
RMR (pp. 34–35) heclaims: No word is objective; hence no word ever passes from the lips of one person into thehearing of another without being changed in meaning. … Words are never the truth. Theyare only the medium of truth … Words become the vehicles by which experiences areshared.Yet Spong wants us to believe that
his
words are true and that fundamentalists are mostcertainly wrong. Such absolute and certain statements sound strange from a bishop whocondemns a church for prescribing certainty and absolutes. However, we must now look at why Spong thinks that the church has got it wrong and why liberal scholarship andmorality is on the right track. To answer these questions, we must look at Spong’s worldview.
1.1) The religion of evolutionary scientism
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Spong jettisons belief in God as the supernatural lawgiver. He sees this belief arisingwhen ‘men and women, groping for the power to express what they found in him [God],discovered the inadequacy of language, so they lapsed into myth and poetry’ (THL p.184). He argues that this belief should be rejected in favour of the light of truth which hethinks is the monopoly of objective science.Spong labels the view that ethics, especially sexual ethics, can be derived from the Bibleas ‘fundamentalist’ and ‘pre-modern’, whereas he claims his new framework is ‘modern’and ‘scientific’. He says:I am amazed that given the knowledge revolution of the last 600 years, anyone could stillregard the Bible as the dictated
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word of God, inerrant and eternal (BW p. 3).In Spong’s world, the findings of objective science continually chip away at our ‘pre-modern’ moral reference, the Bible. For instance, science supposedly has proven that wemust change our beliefs about homosexuality:2
 
Contemporary research has today uncovered new facts that are producing a risingconviction that homosexuality — is a healthy, natural and affirming form of humansexuality. (LS p. 71)Science, Spong believes, is a neutral sifter and accumulator of facts which producesconclusions based on observation and is untarnished by prejudice. Belief in a literal Bibleis primitive and produces such ‘mistakes’ as beliefs in Christ’s bodily resurrection andvirginal conception, and the idea that homosexual acts are sinful. But now, thanks toscience, we have the facts. We know that Jesus neither rose from the grave nor was He born of a virgin, and that homosexual acts are just as valid as heterosexual acts.But just how objective and neutral is Spong’s new god Science? The view of science as aneutral accumulator of facts has been debated in several books, such as Thomas Kuhn’sfamous book,
The Structure of Scientific Revolutions
.
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 Kuhn maintains that scientificrevolutions occur through a shift in the framework or paradigm in which facts areinterpreted, and that the shift in framework depends as much upon human and non-scientific factors as on the data themselves. The Marxist evolutionist Stephen Jay Gouldalso admits that any theory colours perception of fact.
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Simply put, scientists are notalways neutral.
1.1.1) The Bias of some scientists
Agnostic science writer Richard Milton used to be respected by scientists until he wrote a book which vigorously challenged the dogma of Darwinism.
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‘Objective’ scientistRichard Dawkins (and ardent atheist), reviewing the book in
 New Statesman
, wrote thatthe book is ‘loony’, ‘stupid’, ‘drivel’, and its author a ‘harmless fruitcake’ who ‘needs psychiatric help’.
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Dawkins is now ‘Chair of the Public Understanding of Science’ at the prestigious Oxford University and is responsible for shaping the minds of youngscientists. Yet this is not the objective language supposedly typical of science, but rather that of a religious zealot responding to someone who has blasphemed his faith.Most secular science magazines censor challenges to evolution.
Scientific American
evenrefused to hire Forrest Mims III
 
as their 
Amateur Scientist 
columnist, when they foundout that he was a creationist, although they admitted that his work was ‘fabulous’, ‘great’and ‘first rate’.
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 Ironically, the founding editor of the magazine was a creationist, as werethe founders of most branches of modern science.
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 Professor DMS Watson, one of the leading biologists and science writers of his day,wrote:evolution [is] a theory universally accepted not because it can be proven by logicallycoherent evidence to be true, but because the only alternative, special creation, is clearlyincredible.
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