As I walked through the streets of Glebe last night I wondered how many people would recognise my tie. Was I from the CIA or the FBI or was I a member of another unknown unit in Sydney for just a couple of weeks. As I sat down in a small cocktail bar on Glebe Point Road and drank a glass of Pinot Grigio, I wondered if people would look at me as if I was a member of the Federal Police. In case you hadn’t recognised it, it’s the official APEC tie.

I was in Glebe last night to see Bishop John Shelby Spong speak at Gleebooks. I read one of his books, Sins of Scripture few years ago, and was quite interested in what he had to say, especially as his new book is called “Jesus For The Non-Religious”.

His view of Jesus is complex. Although he believes in God the creator, he doesn’t believe in the human-like supernatural being which he believes we, as human beings, have created. “You ask a horse what God looks like and he’ll describe a horse”, he told us.

As a follower of Christ, Spong argues against the notion of Jesus as a supernatural being. Rather, he argues Jesus was more than just an enlightened human being, he was “fully human”. Although I can’t articulate this myself, I think I understand what he means.

The central thesis of last night’s talk was that, because the Bible was written decades after the death of Jesus, there was a degree of embelishment in what was written. Subsequently, he believes Jesus the man became Jesus the supernatural.

That said, he said he acknowledges the contradictions in his own belief system. Despite this apparent denial of the supernatural, he says he believes in God running through all of us. He also believes in the afterlife, though he doesn’t accept the idea of heaven and hell, and he says he find its difficult to articulate what he does believe the afterlife means.

So yes, an interesting evening, and not what most people would be doing on a Friday night.

Otherwise, the last few days have been busy both with work and social life. Socially, there was Wednesday night drinks at the Lewisham, and Fruits In Suits at Slide. So yeah, an interesting couple of days.

3 Replies to “Spong”

  1. So life got busier after your Tuesday night off! I’d relish a night at home if I was doing all that stuff!

    That APEC tie is growing on me. I don’t think much of the logo when it’s shown on its own as one large thing (look carefully and you can make it out on the side of the harbour bridge even though they haven’t turned the lights on yet), but in a small size and repeated in a pattern it looks quite good. It’s probably too subtle for people to realise what it is though! Do you reckon it will help you get through the checkpoints in the city more easily?!

    Spong sounds interesting too. I shall look out for his books.

  2. I read most of Spong’s “Sins of Scripture” a few years ago. Although he writes well and challenges Christian theology in many areas it needs to be challenged (sexuality, religious bigotry, religious authoritarianism), I don’t think offers a particularly interesting analysis of Christianity or a coherent alternative. He’s a lightweight, in my view. He imposes his own version of secular humanism on scripture and secular humanism, for better or worse, has little to do with the historical Jesus. If anyone really wants to understand what Jesus was on about they should begin by reading John Dominic Crossan’s books or download Thomas Sheenan’s lectures from itunesU.

    But I don’t know, tell me I’m wrong. I think this is a really interesting topic.

  3. I heard John Spong speak at the Malvern Town Hall in Melbourne on 22 August at 7.30 p.m.
    He explained how Jesus was experienced by his early followers as the New Moses (representing the Law) and the New Elijah (representing the Prophets). Matthew stresses Jesus as the New Moses, who visited Egypt, spent time in the Wilderness etc and Luke stresses Jesus as Elijah, who performed healing miracles and ascended to heaven unaided. Very interesting.

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