Posted by: the warrioress | May 23, 2012

Remaking Christianity II

Who are these modernist “progressive Christians” interested in remaking Christianity? We are currently looking at two people. The first is Bishop John Shelby Spong, and the second is Karen Armstrong. 

Based upon a request from one of my regular commenters, (Joe), I thought I would find some interesting quotes from both Spong and Armstrong, thus allowing you, the reader, to digest their religious and spiritual views for yourselves. For traditional Christians who believe the bible, the perspectives held by Spong and Armstrong are going to be a bit of a shock.

Most certainly, these individuals do not believe in any kind of actual literal, or biblical interpretation of God, Jesus Christ, or the supernatural events that transpired within the bible. Both Spong and Armstrong are recreating Christianity through modified and “updated” versions of what Christianity should look like according to them, so that it can be brought into the 21st Century.

Spong attempts to “liberate the gospel,” in one of his more recent books, and by the time he finishes, I don’t see anything recognizably left of Christianity but the name. You’ll see what I mean, should you pick up a copy of his writing.

Needless to say, in my opinion, I think we’re seeing an example of the spirit of antichrist within pretty much everything that Spong and Armstrong offer us, but you be the judge of whether or not their interpretations of Christianity ring true for you.

Let’s look at Bishop John Shelby Spong first: 

Bishop John Shelby Spong, Episcopal Diocese of...

“I do not believe that Jesus, at the end of his earthly sojourn, returned to God by ascending in any literal sense into a heaven located somewhere in the sky. My knowledge of the size of this universe reduces that concept to nonsense.” John Shelby Spong (Source: A New Christianity for a New World: Why Traditional Faith is Dying & How a New Faith is Being Born, Pages: 5,)

In our next quotes, Spong is obviously opposed to biblical literalism, the virgin birth, and the resurrection of Jesus Christ. He writes:

The best way to lose all is to cling with desperation to that which cannot possibly be sustained literally. Literalistic Christians will learn that a God or a faith system that has to be defended daily is finally no God or faith system at all. They will learn that any god who can be killed ought to be killed. Ultimately they will discover that all their claims to represent the historical, traditional, or biblical truth of Christianity cannot stop the advance of knowledge that will render every historic claim for a literal religious system questionable at best, null and void at worst. [Bishop John Shelby Spong, Episcopal (Anglican) Bishop of Newark, NY, in Resurrection: Myth or Reality? pg. 22]

Bishop Spong also apparently believes that prayer is akin to talking to Santa Clause. He wants Christians of the world to debate the following:

The following twelve “issues to which I now call the Christians of the world to debate are these,” according to Spong:

  1. Theism, as a way of defining God, is dead. So most theological God-talk is today meaningless. A new way to speak of God must be found.
  2. Since God can no longer be conceived in theistic terms, it becomes nonsensical to seek to understand Jesus as the incarnation of the theistic deity. So the Christology of the ages is bankrupt.
  3. The biblical story of the perfect and finished creation from which human beings fell into sin is pre-Darwinian mythology and post-Darwinian nonsense.
  4. The virgin birth, understood as literal biology, makes Christ’s divinity, as traditionally understood, impossible.
  5. The miracle stories of the New Testament can no longer be interpreted in a post-Newtonian world as supernatural events performed by an incarnate deity.
  6. The view of the cross as the sacrifice for the sins of the world is a barbarian idea based on primitive concepts of God and must be dismissed.
  7. Resurrection is an action of God. Jesus was raised into the meaning of God. It therefore cannot be a physical resuscitation occurring inside human history.
  8. The story of the Ascension assumed a three-tiered universe and is therefore not capable of being translated into the concepts of a post-Copernican space age.
  9. There is no external, objective, revealed standard writ in scripture or on tablets of stone that will govern our ethical behavior for all time.
  10. Prayer cannot be a request made to a theistic deity to act in human history in a particular way.
  11. The hope for life after death must be separated forever from the behavior control mentality of reward and punishment. The Church must abandon, therefore, its reliance on guilt as a motivator of behavior.
  12. All human beings bear God’s image and must be respected for what each person is. Therefore, no external description of one’s being, whether based on race, ethnicity, gender or sexual orientation, can properly be used as the basis for either rejection or discrimination.

As I finish looking into Bishop Spong’s views, I’m so relieved to find that he has retired. Unfortunately, when we have a look at Karen Armstrong, we find many similarities. Let’s look at some of the quotations attributed to her:

Karen Armstrong:

Even though Paul and the evangelists all called Jesus ‘son of God,’ they were not making divine claims for him. They would have been quite shocked by this idea.” (p. 85)

“A God who kept tinkering with the universe was absurd; a God who interfered with human freedom and creativity was tyrant. If God is seen as a self in a world of his own, an ego that relates to a thought, a cause separate from its effect. he becomes a being, not Being itself. An omnipotent, all‐knowing tyrant is not so different from earthly dictators who make everything and everybody mere cogs in the machine which they controlled. An atheism that rejects such a God is amply justified.” ― Karen Armstrong
“The only way to show a true respect for God is to act morally while ignoring God’s existence.” ― Karen Armstrong, A History of God 
“This was the scientific age, and people wanted to believe that their traditions were in line with the new era, but this was impossible if you thought that these myths should be understood literally. Hence the furore occasioned by The Origin of Species (1858), published by Charles Darwin (1809-82). The book was not intended as an attack on religion, but was a sober exploration of a scientific hypothesis. But because by this time people were reading the cosmogonies of Genesis as though they were factual, many Christians felt — and still feel — that the whole edifice of faith was in jeopardy. Creation stories had never been regarded as historically accurate; their purpose was therapeutic. But once you start reading Genesis as scientifically valid, you have bad science and bad religion.” – Karen Armstrong, A Short History of Myth
 “I see the Christmas story and the deification of Jesus not as a statement of historical fact or an abstract religious doctrine. Like all religious teaching it is a call to action. When St Paul quotes that early Christian hymn in his letter to the Philippians (2:5-11), he was not giving his converts a lesson in the doctrine of the Incarnation. He was telling them how to behave.”

Karen Armstrong on the bible: “These myths were not intended to be taken literally, but were metaphorical attempts to describe a reality that was too complex and elusive to express any other way.”  – Karen Armstrong on “the bible.”


  1. Wow! Thank you for exposing these false prophets and proclaiming biblical truth.

  2. That was crazy.

  3. Spong is not a Christian. Anyone who rejects the physical and bodily resurrection of Christ is a false prophet. The Apostle Paul warns against this, “Remember Jesus Christ, raised from the dead, descended from David. This is my Gospel” (2 Timothy 2:8) and “If Christ has not been raised, our preaching is useless and faith is in vain” (1 Corithians 15:14). Without a physical and literal resurrection – of which over 500 of Jesus’s contemporaries witnessed – we have no hope of the Holy Spirit coming and cleansing our souls so we can be born again. Spong also condemns the idea of being “born again” as a tool for church control, even though being born again is integral to Christianity.

    Liberalizing Jesus and the Bible is no answer for Christianity in the 21st Century. Conforming to contemporary society is the last place the Church needs to go.

  4. Thank you…very interesting…:)

  5. Adrienne, they sound a lot like Jehovah’s Witnesses. I am trying to finish an e book on JW’s. They take the Bible and re-write it as you said to fit their philosophy. I would consider them to be the false witnesses in the end times…

  6. Well from looking at the numbers of other types of Christians the Resoration Movement doesn’t have that many anyway in comparison to the others.

    Here are only a few offshoots of Christianity:
    Religion # of members
    Roman Catholic 1,050,000,000 Orthodox/Eastern Christian 240,000,000 African indigenous sects (AICs) 110,000,000 Pentecostal 105,000,000 Reformed/Presbyterian/Congregational/United 75,000,000 Anglican 73,000,000 Baptist 70,000,000 Methodist 70,000,000 Lutheran 64,000,000 Jehovah’s Witnesses 14,800,000 Adventist 12,000,000 Latter Day Saints 12,500,000 Apostolic/New Apostolic 10,000,000 Stone-Campbell (“Restoration Movement”) 5,400,000 New Thought (Unity, Christian Science, etc.) 1,500,000 Brethren (incl. Plymouth) 1,500,000 Mennonite 1,250,000 Friends (Quakers) 300,000

  7. Spong’s comments bring to mind someone who is “unable” to embrace an already-existing faith. It suggests to me an ego too fragile to fully embrace Christianity.

  8. To say he was not a Christian is a “No True Scotsman” Fallacy. He came out and showed its errors, whats wrong there?

  9. Do you have proof that God is real? The way he is defined in the bible, he cannot logically exist. Why dont you believe in Zeus, or Thor, or the Hindu gods, or the Sumerian Gods, or the Invisible Pink Unicorn?

    The bible is not proof of God, and neither is personal experience. If you retort back that the bible is proof, than the Iliad is proof of Zeus, Ancient Sumerian texts are proof of the Sumerian gods, and the Gospel of the Flying Spaghetti Monster is proof of the Flying Spaghetti Monster.

    If god was all powerful and all knowing and Christians claim it is, than he would know exactly how much evidence an atheist would need to convert without sacrificing free will. It is God, is it not?

  10. Did you not read the subsequent verses in the comment? To deny the physical resurrection is to deny the divinity of Jesus, and without the physical resurrection of Christ, there is no Christianity. While Spong may have some interesting, and I’ll contend good ideas for Christianity to look at, it should not revolve around the denial of Christ’s physical resurrection – to which 500 of Jesus’s contemporaries are reported to have witnessed.

    To call Spong “Christian” after this denial, would be to call someone a Muslim who does not believe Mohammed to be God’s prophet. There are certain aspects of religion/faith that are fundamental, and without, it is no longer valid.

  11. […] Remaking Christianity II ( […]

  12. I think that these expamples are unfair to “progressive” Christianity – what if I judged all those who are biblical literalists by the Westboro baptist church? You are painting with broad strokes here… better get down to the detail and see what you find…

    Me myself I fear Bible idolatry far more than Spong – I fear those who worship the bible above the Lord Jesus…

    Speaking as a methodist who is not in the literalist camp.

  13. Many do judge biblical literalists by the Westboro Baptist Church, but that isn’t the point I’m attempting to make with my posting, Pastor Jenn. The bible is our guide as Christians, in my opinion. It led us to Christ Jesus. Doing away with everything it tell us and claiming it is outdated and that the belief system needs scrapping and a remake is a personal opinion, purely. We all have one of those.

    In the bible, I’m called upon to call it as I see it, according to the gospel that I have been taught by what is written. Any man or woman who preaches a different gospel than the one the apostles of Jesus Christ preached was warned:

    “I AM AMAZED that you are so quickly forsaking the one who called you by grace for a different gospel, not that there is another…But even if we or an angel from heaven should preach a gospel other than the one that we preached to you, let that one be accursed!” (Gal.1:6,8).

    We’re not here to judge or condemn anyone, but we are told to be wise as serpents … we have to be able to tell the true from the false. Thanks for your comment, Jenn, and I appreciate you stopping by and reading.

  14. Very much agree with your take on this!

  15. God *is* all powerful and all knowing, but you’re not a puppet. You have to make up your own mind based upon the knowledge we’ve all received. It’s called “faith.” When you muster as much as a mustard seed, you find out exactly how all knowing and powerful God really is.

    We don’t need proof, nor do you, really…..

    Simply decide what you believe and recognize that this is your personal choice and decision, just as it is mine. A pissing match that demands one of us prove our belief is fairly pointless, don’t you think? Thanks for your comment, Michael.

  16. Hi Tom! I agree…

  17. If one soul is lost because of these false teachers, that’s too many; at least this is the way I’m looking at it. Hey, Pat.. hope you’re doing well! Thanks for the comment.

  18. Me too, Cath.. how are you? Thanks for the comment, hon.

  19. Hi, hon! Thanks for reading 😉

  20. Well said, Paul!

  21. Oh yeah…. it definitely was.

  22. Hi Men of Mud.. thank you so much!

  23. Well, I have to disagree with you about it being pointless Ma’am. When religion mingles into politics is when you must show your fairy tale to be true.

    Examples being Laws like homosexual marriages banned, creation “science” in a real science class room, trying to get rid of evolution, which is based on facts, etc.

    So, the burden of proof lies with you. Extraordinary claims require extraordinary evidence. Atheism is simply the lack of belief in a deity or deities.

    Personal choice is not personal choice when it impedes on someone else. Simple as this.

  24. Hi again; Great follow up article! Very helpful. I don’t know whether to feel sadness, pity for these two people or anger for what they are doing to the people that fall under their spell. In my experience people that follow are often not open to hearing God’s Word but only search for something to ‘tickle their ears. (Something that they agree with and fits what they want to do.) Keep up your great work and have a great day in the Lord!

  25. You’ve expressed my feelings so perfectly, Joe. Thank you.

  26. We each have the right under the constitution to express our beliefs and opinions, and vote as citizens as to how we feel the nation should be managed. You and I disagree, obviously, on how this nation should be managed. I believe that if the theory of evolution is preached in our public schools, that other, equally as valid theory should be allowed a mention.

    As for homosexual marriage … there is no such animal. Marriage is a religious concept between one man and one woman. Attempting to mock this, alter, or redefine it is something Satan is intent on, but we don’t have to go along with it. My vote is against the redefinition of marriage. I have the right to this vote as much as you do and my personal beliefs have nothing to do with my right to a vote on how we run America.

    Your choice impedes on the countless of us who don’t want to see marriage made into something that it was never meant to be. It’s already been altered enough by the heteros of this nation because they are unable to keep their marriage covenants’ to one another… we don’t need to utterly destroy the concept.

    Proving my religious beliefs has absolutely nothing to do with politics and my rights as a citizen of this nation to express and vote my conscience.

  27. Marriage is a concept that has been around long before Christians came along.

  28. I’m not sure what exactly you’re referring to here, so I’ll simply reply that I’m speaking to marriage ordained by the god of the bible, the god of Abraham, Isaac, and Jacob. God told us what marriage is and America’s believers in God do not want to see marriage redefined as a concept. Period. We will vote our consciences to that effect as we are allowed by law. I have to prove nothing whatsoever about my religion in order to do so, nor should I.

    I do appreciate the discussion here and your expressing yourself, however, regardless that we disagree, Michael. Thank you again for sharing your views here.

  29. No problem. I tried to have a civil discussion, and it seemed to work out. If you ever want to have a discussion in the future, just let me know.

  30. I will let you know (grin). I very much enjoyed the discussion, Michael. I will visit you on your blog as well. Thanks again.

  31. 🙂 Thank you Ma’am. I hope you have a great day.

  32. @ Paul.
    The Resurrection of Jesus, as with the Trinity and the Divinity were written into the gospels.
    The earliest extant copies of Mark’s gospel do not feature the Resurrection.
    Shelby is right.

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