Point #1: Theism

January 20, 2015
I am going to place these 12 posts discussing John Spong’s 12 points toward a New Christianity, and a rebuttal by Stephanie Monk, and my rebuttal to her rebuttal, in the New Christianity Sub-Category for The Hero Science Project Screenwriting Notes. I realize this content may be of little interest to the Game audience, or the Education audience, or even the Screenwriting audience, so I will not hashtag them in my tweet of the publication.

I apologize in advance, I just don’t want to resist being honest. There is a level of frustration inside of me that a conversation with Buddha could probably dissolve. A central focus of the plot conflict in The Hero Science Project will be a testing of Christian/Catholic hearts and minds. The differences between Christian Fundamentalism, and the New Christianity John Spong is proposing, go straight to what I see as the nature of the problems preventing the ending of war and poverty. I feel fortunate to have discovered John Spong’s, and Stephanie Monk’s rebuttal to his suggested reforms of Christianity.

My bias will be clear, and probably disrespectful. I need to understand arguments being made by those that oppose this reform, and my feeling toward them. I am a little curious what I am going to say, but expect I will allow myself to get confrontational, because these are notes, and I want to let my true passions be revealed. I’m sure I will feel bad about it later. Sorry Stephanie. I am sure you do not deserve the frustration I am about to unload on you.

  • These “Twelve Points for Reform” come from Spong’s book A New Christianity for a New World:
  • The rebuttal of his points comes from Stephanie D. Monk – An Examination of the Theology of Bishop John Shelby Spong.
  • I am responding to the twelve points for reform proposed by Mr. Spong, and their rebuttal by Ms. Monk.

Spong – Thesis 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

Monk – Response to Thesis 1: Theism
Theism cannot be divorced from Christianity without losing every characteristic that makes Christianity different from Pantheism or any other pluralistic religion. As Machem aptly states,

“The very basis of the religion of Jesus was a triumphant belief in the real existence of a personal God. And without that belief no type of religion can rightly appeal to Jesus today. Jesus was a theist, and rational theism is at the basis of Christianity.”

Thus, for Spong to deny theism, is contradictory to Christianity itself. Ephraim Radner adds, “[T]he kind of God Spong affirms is semantically nonsensical abstraction. Therefore, anything Spong has to say about Scripture is, religiously speaking bound up with nonsense.”

Spong‟s rejection of theism is contradictory to Christianity itself, and the God as Being he proposes to replace the traditional understanding of God is a meaningless, semantic generalization.

Sly – Theism: The Tooth Fairy and the Easter Bunny

“Theism cannot be divorced from Christianity without losing every characteristic that makes Christianity different from Pantheism or any other pluralistic religion.”

In the first place, Pantheism is not a “pluralistic religion”.

Pantheism is the belief that the universe (or nature as the totality of everything) is identical with divinity, or that everything composes an all-encompassing, immanent God. Pantheists thus do not believe in a distinct personal or anthropomorphic god.

Notice that pantheists believe in the One God, but not a separate supernatural deity with a long white beard that poof-ed the universe into existence 6,000 years ago. In the second place – so what? You have to want to be “special” to be a Christian? It seems to me that the whole point of the twelve points is a reform of Christianity to strip it of its egotistical delusions and find the courage of humility. In particular, Spong is attempting to remove the “crutch” of pretending that there is a supernatural being, your own “personal God” that favors YOU. Spong is simply suggesting that Fundamentalists “pull their heads out of the sand”, as it does not actually make you safer, or bring you closer to God, to pretend there is a “supernatural Being” with magical powers to answer your prayers.

Embracing fantasy that makes you FEEL good does not seem to be what Jesus was about, and thus, should not be what Christianity is about. Christian Fundamentalism would appear to be a DENIAL of what Jesus was about, being grateful for what he was given and risking his life to give something back, instead of wanting more. In my opinion, Spong’s points of reform are a correction toward a Christian courage that has been a long time coming.

To submerge your life in a selfish hunger for heaven, instead of being grateful for what you have already been given and giving something back is the core essence of Fundamentalist immorality. It is this religion of selfishness that is the source of Fundamentalism cowardice, that makes them such easy “marks” for Pirates selling heaven with threats of burning hell, and that motivates such horrific idiocies as blowing yourself up in a schoolyard full of children to earn your 70 black-eyes virgins in heaven. (I know, other Fundamentalists, but the point stands)

Jesus was a Hero who fed the hungry, and healed the sick, and who was murdered by people trapped in egotistical delusions for trying to FREE the people from egotistical delusions at the orders of those that “owned” those egotistical delusions. Fundamentalism is not the Hero in the Hero Jesus story.

“Spong‟s rejection of theism is contradictory to Christianity itself, and the God as Being he proposes to replace the traditional understanding of God is a meaningless, semantic generalization.”

Do you really believe that arguing against the reality of a supernatural being that poof-ed the world into existence 6,000 years ago, who is your personal God, that has promised YOU that he is on YOUR side and assured you a ticket to heaven, is a “meaningless, semantic generalization?” I consider this statement a perfect example of what eating the Fruit and “knowing the Truth” does to your mental facilities, and why Fundamentalist Christianity is so desperately in need of the reforms Spong is proposing.

Next up in this category –

Spong – point 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.

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