Thursday, October 20, 2011

Reward & Punishment In The Christian Church/God Is Not A Christian


In the next few weeks I will be posting blogs dealing with progressive Christianity, an alternative to fundamentalism and those who take the Bible literally. This is something I have been interested in for a very long time and will be doing more reading about. There are some Christian authors who are just getting their feet wet in exploring possibilities, and there are other Christian authors who have jumped right in and are often called heretics.

Here is a clip from one of my absolute heretical heroes, the retired Episcopal Bishop John Shelby Spong. Spong is the author of books such as Rescuing The Bible From Fundamentalism, and Why Christianity Must Change or Die. I had the privilege of hearing him speak in Toronto a few years back.

In this clip, he speaks out about Hell and Heaven, as well as being born again.

On Heaven and Hell

"Religion is always in the control business, and a lot of people don't understand that. It's in the guilt-producing control business. If you have heaven as a place where you're rewarded for your goodness and hell as a place where you're punished for your evil, then you sort of have control of the population. And so they create this fiery place that has quite literally scared the hell out of a lot of people throughout history."

On there being "one way" to God:

"Every church I know claims that we are the true church: we have the infallible pope, the inerrant Bible, creeds. The idea that the truth of God can be bound in any human system, in any human book, is almost beyond imagination for me. God is not a Christian, God is not a Jew, God is not a Muslim, or Buddhist or Hindu. All of those are human systems which humans have created to try to help us walk into the mystery of God. I honour my tradition but it doesn't define God, it just points to God."

On Christ and humanity

"The function of the Christ is not to rescue the sinners, but to empower you and call you to be more deeply and fully human than you've every realized there was the potential in you to be. Maybe salvation is about enhancing your humanity rather than rescuing you from it."


2 comments:

Rev. Alison Longstaff said...

I like and agree with what he says. Though there are some "religions" who are't into control and ARE trying to help people be more fully human and spiritual grown-ups, they never make the news. I believe Unity is a "religion" like that, eh?

Mark Andrew said...

Yes, you are absolutely right that there are spiritual movements who are trying to help people be more fully human without scaring the shite out of them. Unfortunately the "big ones" still do and I'm glad there's people like Spong to challenge those churches. He's awesome.