Ask the Bishop
Q: My wife and I recently retired and relocated from metropolitan to rural Texas. As independent thinking, mainstream Protestants, we have encountered a "theology" in some of the small fundamentalist churches with which we are not familiar. Jesus is believed to be God and is worshipped as God (i.e. not the son of God, or a person with the presence of God.) The Bible reference usually provided is "I and the Father are one" John 10:30. However, it is our understanding that the Greek "one" is neuter, meaning one in essence or nature, not one person or being. We would appreciate your comment on the origin of this "theology" and its scriptural basis, if any.
A: I am not surprised that you have found fundamentalism in rural Texas difficult to understand. One has to be raised in that tradition, as I was, to know what it means to the people involved. You do not engage this way of thinking by rational argument. The Fourth Gospel is the only place where Jesus claims the identity of God, but I am not sure that is a proper understanding of this gospel. That is, however, is the way the Fourth Gospel is traditionally understood. I have just finished working my way through Rudolf Bultmann's massive commentary on John's gospel. He sees Jesus as "the Revealer" of God who becomes so mystically at one with God that John's Jesus can say things like "If you have seen me, you have seen the Father." John's Jesus is portrayed as believing that God worked through him. Later interpreters interpreted that to be that Jesus was identical with God. Yet in this gospel Jesus is made to utter the "High Priestly" prayer of Chapter 17. That prayer was not addressed to himself, but to one he envisioned as being beyond himself. John's Gospel portrays Jesus as dying. Surely God is not subject to the limits of humanity, but Jesus is. So it is apparent to me that these texts should be read as God being revealed in and through Jesus, but not incarnationally as if Jesus is God masquerading as a human being.
Mark, the first gospel to be written, portrayed God coming into the human Jesus at his baptism. That is not dual nature, but a God-infused life. The earliest records of Easter in the Bible speak of God raising Jesus. The action was God's not Jesus' — again no single identification.
What is clear throughout the text is that people met God in Jesus and through Jesus and that is what the core of the word incarnation was designed to say.
I hope you will find a church in which you can participate without necessarily buying the theology. Don't argue with it, but live out your values and through love be an agent of change within that church. I'm sure there are others like you in Baird, each waiting for someone else to take the first step.
– John Shelby Spong
Doug Spaulding again provides us
Interesting post, Doug, particularly since people have had varying views on the concept of the trinity ever since the dawn of Christianity.
It would be something if those who disagreed with this post actually came up with a calm and logical refutation of it (or a defence of their own views) point by point, showing why they believe as they do.
Fred, I was just thinking that, why is it every time I post anything on religion (particular by the Bishop), I get comments on how stupid the Bishop is. Without fail.
Thank you for your thoughtful offering. It was intended to get folks thinking about the Trinitarian concepts, and how people's beliefs are so ingrained over hundreds of years, that anything that questions them are immediately called heresy!
The reason is this: anything that knocks people out of their "comfort zone" is attacked - people don't like to be put in a position in which they have to think. People don't like to be out of that zone. It makes them uncomfortable (obviously). Am I wrong? I don't think so, because look how defensive they always get.
Don't be fooled! OH, what nonsense from Doug Spaulding! These things from Bishop Spong have been shown to be how silly and wrong they are in many previous postings thru the months. This is not something new. Many posted comments and videos from many sources have shown how absolutely non-Christian Spong really is. He does not believe in nearly any of the major tents of historic Christian doctrine and has decided his are correct. No different than if I moved to a city with certain traffic laws and I decided riding on the sidewalk is a freeing thing, and red flashing lights really mean that all you do is slow down a bit.
Doug Spauding insists on plowing thru all the evidence and saying that all the stuff from all those groups that deny the Divinity of Christ or the resurrection and so many other Christian truths are far more accurate and truthful.
Again, as stated before on previous postings, shame on you Doug Spalding for pushing this tripe.
Sounds like you have been to Rome!
Hey, Nard. It's October already. You said you were going to continue or conclude your lengthy and interesting June 9th, 2009 postings, about discovering Bradbury. What gives?
Along with a few others, I think Nard has escaped as well.
Escaped may be the wrong word. Let's hope he's just taking an extended break.
Come on, Nard. Let's hear the rest of this.
Happy Halloween, everyone! Okay, I have to confess, this did make me laugh.
From Pat Robertson's web site direct:
Which, far as I can figure, is all about demon-inspired Halloween-timed curses in relation to the time of year you buy candy, and the fact that witches mutter curses over Halloween candy at the factory.
Judging from what I've read recently, Robertson himself seems to be suffering from dementia---or so I would say, if he had not been spouting the same truly bizarre things for over thirty years....
Hmmm, so THAT'S how they do it! Mmmm...candy.
Well.... after reading that article, yesterday I deliberately went out and bought some peanut-butter-cups. I don't know---I MAY be demon possessed, but how could I tell?
Okay, seriously, I kinda feel badly about making fun of the writer of this particular article, who may be mentally ill. But---I can fathom the mindset of Robertson who has made millions from his flock---I'll just refer him to that Lily Allen song.
Bigotted people are not hard to find who don't have a clue what Robertson is about. Such a common mindset is immersed into today's present culture which is going to hell in a hand basket. Robertson made millions from his flock? Shows how much you know. Robertson made most of his money in financial investments in stocks, bonds and government securities. He's always been a shrewd businessman.
But why be a sad, empty voice in a dry landscape? People who have no educated reference to scripture love to imitate the ways of a Mr. Dark (the major evil character in SWTWC).
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