Last week, retired Episcopal bishop, John Shelby Spong, issued a manifesto titled, "The Time Has Come!" In that essay Spong essentially said that for him, enough was enough, especially when it comes to Christian responses to homosexual issues based on a certain reading of the biblical texts and a certain understanding of Christian ethics and how they play out in church life. "I will no longer debate, " he wrote, "the issue of homosexuality in the church with anyone." Period.
I've been mulling over his essay, or as I earlier characterized it, "broadside," for several days. And I've been reading the reactions of others to it, as well. Some agree. Some disagree. Some do both, kind of an "agreement, but..." sort of thing. Statements have appeared like:
"...the battle is NOT won."
"I hate to see him leave the debate..."
"No, the battle is not won!"
"...we must engage people in order to change hearts and minds."
Or, like those words penned by my fellow Presbyterian blogger, John Shuck at "Shuck and Jive" (http://www.shuckandjive.org), "We need more people to follow the lead of Bishop Spong and speak clearly. This clear speech is what is required to penetrate the fog of homophobic propaganda and the hand wringing of the weak-kneed who unwittingly corroborate with it."
The priest of the small Episcopal church I briefly attended a while back was quick to label Spong as a heretic and sometimes, jokingly I trust, call for his burning — along with the Presiding Bishop, et al.
Spong is, by certain standards, a heretic. But then, so am I. And that has nothing to do with his, or mine, view of homosexuality. That view, that understanding, flows from a theological journey. For Spong, traditionally understood theism is a woefully inadequate conception of what we term "God." The Bible is a collection of theological reflections which can inform our own reflections and no more. It is not, in any way typically understood, the Word of God.
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