Gospel of John: What Everyone Should Know About The Fourth Gospel (John Shelby Spong)

Almost any poll of regular church goers will reveal that their favorite book in the New Testament is the Gospel of John. It is the book that is most often used at Christian funerals. It includes such well known and oft-quoted texts as: “God so loved the world that he gave his only son that whoever believes in him should not perish but have everlasting life.” It boasts the shortest verse in the Bible: “Jesus wept,” which serves the needs of many cross word puzzle creators. Its prologue was used for centuries in Catholic liturgies as “the last gospel” at the mass. It includes characters like Doubting Thomas, whose very name has entered our public discourse.

Yet, I suspect that if these devotees of John’s Gospel were introduced to the world of Johannine scholarship, they would be both shocked and angered by contemporary insights into this treasured book. It is to place much of this scholarship into the public arena that I have written the book, “The Fourth Gospel: Tales of a Jewish Mystic.”

Among the conclusions that I have reached in my intensive five-year-long study of John’s Gospel are these:

1) There is no way that the Fourth Gospel was written by John Zebedee or by any of the disciples of Jesus. The author of this book is not a single individual, but is at least three different writers/editors, who did their layered work over a period of 25 to 30 years.

2) There is probably not a single word attributed to Jesus in this book that the Jesus of history actually spoke. This includes all the “I Am” sayings and all of the “Farewell Discourses.”

3) Not one of the signs (the Fourth Gospel’s word for miracles) recorded in this book was, in all probability, something that actually happened. This means that Jesus never changed water into wine, fed a multitude with five loaves and two fish or raised Lazarus from the dead.

4) Many of the characters who appear in the pages of the Fourth Gospel are literary creations of its author and were never intended to be understood as real people, who actually lived in history. This includes Nathaniel, who is introduced with great fanfare in chapter one and is treated in John’s Gospel as one of “the Twelve,” as well as the enigmatic character called by the Fourth Gospel “the disciple whom Jesus loved,” who is introduced in Chapter 13 and who stars in this narrative from then on up to and including the resurrection event. Between those two “bookend” characters, we run into such well-known figures as Nicodemus, the Samaritan woman by the well, the man crippled for 38 years and the man born blind, none of whom has ever been mentioned before in any written Christian source and each of whom in all probability is nothing more than the literary creation of the author.

5) John’s Gospel seems to ridicule anyone who might read this book as a work of literal history. For example, Jesus says to Nicodemus: “You must be born again.” Nicodemus, the literalist, says: “Born again? I am a grown man! How can I crawl back into my mother’s womb and be born again?” Jesus says to the Samaritan woman: “If you know the gift of God, and who it is that is saying to you ‘Give me a drink,’ you would have asked him and he would give you living water.” The Samaritan woman, a literalist, responds: “Man, you don’t even have a bucket!”

6) The Gospel also exaggerates its details, once more I believe, to counter any attempt to read it literally. For example, Jesus does not just turn water into wine, he turns it into 150 gallons of wine! Jesus does not just give sight to a blind man, he gives sight to a man born blind! Jesus does not just raise a person from the dead, he raises one who has been dead and even buried for four days, one who is still bound in grave clothes and one who, according to the King James translation “already stinketh” with the odor of decaying flesh!

Finally this book will challenge the way the Fourth Gospel has been used in Christian history as the guarantor of what came to be called Christian orthodoxy or creedal Christianity. The Council of Nicea in 325 C.E. leaned on the Fourth Gospel as literal history in order to formulate the creeds and ultimately to undergird such doctrines as the Incarnation and the Holy Trinity. The texts used to support that creedal development, my studies have led me to affirm, have nothing to do with an external God entering humanity in the person of Jesus, but are rather attempts to describe the experience of the human breaking the boundaries of consciousness and entering into the transformation available inside a sense of a mystical oneness with God. If that is so, then the Fourth Gospel has the potential to become the primary biblical source upon the basis of which Christianity can be changed dramatically to speak with radical freshness to the 21st century.

Christianity is not about the divine becoming human so much as it is about the human becoming divine. That is a paradigm shift of the first order.

These are the conclusions to which my study of John’s Gospel has led me, and they are the conclusions that I explore and document in this book “The Fourth Gospel: Tales of a Jewish Mystic.”


74 thoughts on “Gospel of John: What Everyone Should Know About The Fourth Gospel (John Shelby Spong)

  1. I am curious as to why, Mr Spong did not extend beyond the Gospel of John, to Acts which is another Gospel cut in two.The ‘Young Men, obviously had nothing to do ,but wait around for people to blaspheme the Holy Spirit, because, when Safira arrives, they are waiting outside to cart her away.There is no indication of the apostles knowing from the Holy Spirit that the young men would be required to cart her away.I have often thought that this is a sudden departure from preached forgiveness and mercy of Jesus’s prior messages to us.There are also problems with ,in my opinion, the, scripture is inspired doctrine,because, in my opinion, the new Testament,having not being collated, at the time of those words being written, was more likely to be referring to the ‘Prophets and Mosaic books and other Jewish holy books, which Jesus many times referred to or paraphrased.Too, he would have known about other holy or reverenced scrolls.Now, those supposedly determining the Canonical texts, took about 300 years to decide[supposedly from The Holy Spirit] that Jude should be part of the New Testament.Curiously Peter’s Epistles make the grade as being Canonical, but the book of Enoch hasn’t, yet Peter actually is either quoting from or paraphrasing from it in his Peter Epistles. So, in conclusion, I am saying the Scripture which is being referred to in the ‘all Scripture is inspired and beneficial’ text was in fact the Old Testament and other Prophets and wise people of which Jesus knew of, and so too would his later apostles and disciples of The WAY. So, if one says such as I have just outlined, most contemporary scholars would like to still burn such thinkers at the stake, for blasphemy and heretical opinion or teaching?!! In the case of Jude it seems that The Holy Spirit on leave of absence for 2or 300 years finally said something to the determinants of Canon?If so, perhaps they were hard of hearing if He mentioned The Book of Thomas, or the gospel of Philip.Or did they fail to make the cut because they aren’t in full agreement with Pauline teaching or Peter and Jame’s teching?I just put it out there, leaving you to be the JUDGE of these things.Dallas.

  2. For goodness sake, Greg! At least Nicolle Kidman has a few things going for her, but Spong?

    I’m rapidly loosing interest in this crock of liberal slush.

    What is your aim, here? To destroy any belief in any passage of scripture altogether? Are you a Christian?

  3. And before you add the lame excuse that you didn’t write the piece you only posted it, why? Why did you google this tripe and post it?

    Look, why not just post up a Richard Dawkins rant and be done with it?

  4. Dallas,
    I am curious as to why, Mr Spong did not extend beyond the Gospel of John, to Acts

    Well, Dallas, Mr Spong is probably waiting for you to come up with the goods so he can quote you down the track!

    Of course, if you take out enough of the passages, letters and books which speak of things which the natural mind can”t reconcile, such as miracles, healing, deliverance, demons, prophecy, heaven, judgment and speaking in tongues, you are left with the kind of things which hearten the religious and tickle the ears of those who would like to live under a pseudo-christian humanist gospel which can include scientific and psychological aspects of the enlightenment and leave out all the hard sayings of Jesus, the Apostles and Prophets.

    What we end up with is a gospel which says if we are all good people and do nice things and don’t push our own religion on others and allow people to do what they want as long as they don’t hurt others they will all be accepted…

    …into what?

    Some place which is a holographic Memorium? Where the lives of the self-elevated just are replayed on an eternal loop, and all evil deeds and words are deleted from their account, leaving only the outward appearance given in superficial circumstances and moments of euphoria?

    Life isn’t like that, Dallas. There is not one thing we can do in our own steam. Without Christ we are all sinners. We are all wicked. We are all worthless.

    We all need a Saviour, and we need Him to be Anointed, Empowered and Authorised by God Almighty with kingdom power and glory. We need the Eternal Spirit of God.

    John is important to us because he reveals his testimony of the love of God, o the supernatural power of God, of the anointing, of the Holy Spirit, of the supernatural power release of the Spirit to the believers, of the cross and resurrection of Christ, of the grace and glory found on the Son of God who is the Word made flesh and dwelt amongst us demonstrating the grace of God.

    He tells us of our need of this love and of the saving grace of God. he draws us into the conversation and brings us to the feet of Jesus. He tells us of the Holy Spirit who is God with us to help us, lead us, guide us and teach us.

    the Book of Acts is a documentary of how this took place in the first years of the Church age.

    Remove these accounts and you remove a great and powerful witness.

  5. But let’s dig some positive out of this debacle of a post and pose a reasonable question.

    Mr Spong says he spent five years proving to himself that he should eliminate the Gospel of John from his personal canon.

    Suppose, instead, he had spent those five years taking the Gospel of John at face value and applying it to his ministry and serving people through the gospel presented by John. What do you think would have been the result?

  6. A while back, about the time of our first quakes, I and others kept alluding to “seeing” the number sequence 333 crop up. I asked within what this was about and heard “John’s Gospel”. John 3:33, For as many as believe are sealed. The other number sequence which then began to recur was 111, and again I asked and heard “That’s John also” – He came to His own and His own rejected Him. How apt.

    Given the absolutely critical nature of John’s Gospel and his role as the Apostle of Love, and the absolutely pivotal discourse of Jesus in chaps 15-17, I am absolutely aghast at this man’s claims. My first reference point with scripture or any translation thereof, or indeed anything which purports or pretends to be Holy, is the sense of The Anointing. If you know the author, then you know His Word.

    Spong is an anagram of ‘pongs’ and while this man may think that his don’t stink, to me it is some of the most cretinous crap I have ever read – it is not even mildly amusing and I wonder rally why Greg would publish such nonsense, perhaps to counterpoint my apparent excesses?

    John is responsible for three of the most important segments of scripture, and given that Jesus told me a while back that “This is the time of the fulfillment of John’s words” I can see why the devil would be mounting a counter attack, albeit a clumsy, stupid, mind numbingly appalling exegesis, the true nature of which is perhaps best typified by this pusillanimous Pharisees own words.

    Christianity is not about the divine becoming human so much as it is about the human becoming divine. That is a paradigm shift of the first order.

    And of course those of his master, “And you shall be as gods, knowing both the good and the evil.”

    I think maybe Greg was just being controversial, yes? If this man can ‘destroy’ John’s gospel, then he also takes out John’s”Love” letters and the Apocalypse. Only the seriously deluded would believe such egregious nonsense as this. In deference to my bum, I would not use this tossers tome for toilet paper.

    Shelby Spong – that’s like SS, right? Applicable anagram might be “By Hel’s Pong”?

  7. I’d rather hear from you about why you could possibly agree with the article.

    Or even agree with the original prognosis, given that the man has spent a futile five years convincing himself, and presumably others, of the worthlessness of the Gospel of John.

  8. So now, assuming Bones takes this and runs with it, we will have a scenario where Luke and John are eliminated from the canon, and I seem to remember some concerns being aired from one of you liberals about Matthew and Mark, which takes out the first five Books of the New Testament, to complement the removal of Revelation, Hebrews, James, Jude, and, presumably, John’s letters, since there is so much controversy over John being the writer of either the Gospel or the Revelation, there is surely conjecture over the letters.

    This leaves Paul, Peter, and… oh, would you believe it… that’s it for the New Testament, and I’m guessing that there is some dispute over these as well. In fact there are several liberal theologians (and I use the term loosely) who have immense trouble with Paul, and I vaguely recall question marks being placed against Paul on a number of occasions in the course of some of our discussions, so we're down to the two letters by Peter as the Neo New Testament å la SP02 libs.

    Any more removal of New Testament scripture and we'll all have to convert to Judaism.

  9. Here’s a curly one. the initials JSS – John Shelby Spong, numerizes to 111 – high order Masons like him love these number multiples as did they who named him. Norman Vincent Peale is another Episcopal uber Mason with his Power of Positive Thinking delusion which gave greed in America the gee-up it needed to become a World Empire (WE).

    John 1:11 says, ‘He came to His own and they knew Him not,or rejected Him.’ How apt.

    Greg – I for my part disagree with is assertions as they are leavened with the same type of specious logic (aka apologetic) used to substantiate the claims of so many cults, Episcopal, Catholic or otherwise. He says that the paradigm shift is that man realize that it is not about the Divine becoming human but the human becoming Divine. This is the same old con since the Garden Greg – you shall be as gods…same old lie…never changes…

    I think it is more about the human awakening to their Divine nature in Christ, and their origins in God, and becoming transformed into that (original) image, by the RE-NEWING of the mind. Instead of a mind occupied with carnal compulsions and appetites, it is to be filled with the Spirit to serve God. This is why 90% of new converts fall away within 2yrs – they have been sold a lie which does not work by estranged priests who do not work, and it leaves them shattered and scattered and sometimes sodomized – and I include all hireling priests in this.

    To become born anew or born again is to forsake all you know, to cash in your pearls, to give up your old operating system, to have your mind renewed to the NEW CREATURE you were made in Christ before the foundation of the worlds, to be transformed from your flesh image to your divine image and so to become a servant of the Most High.

    You have to become as a little child, with no preconceptions, not a brainwashed, religiously indoctrinated parrot for the “Synagogue Of Satan” (SOS). If you got born again after seven yrs old, which is the norm, then you have at least seven years of seeds to be dealt with – tare seeds sown by your enemy, let alone what you picked up in Church. You have to have all that stuff that your parents put on you, the demons you inherited from your forebears, and those traditions and doctrines which we ingrained into your mind, all cast out, all driven out by the NEW LEAVEN OF RIGHTEOUSNESS.

    And if you do not think that you can have demons in your life from before your birth, just ask Jesus (honestly now) if you have any yourself, anything that needs casting our, purging, cleansing, renewing.

    Jesus laid down His Divinity to become as a servant – He did not grasp at his equality with God, which this man appears to be doing with his back door solutions. Speaking of witch, is he “gay”? It is the sort of specious sophisticated logic a gay Xian would come out with. He is correct in his assertion that hell is a construct designed to keep people from spiritual maturity, but hell, even the Mormons know some stuff, and don’t forget that there is not much about Man or God’s dealings with Man that Satan does not know about, and even his servants may appear as to be ministers of righteousness…never, ever forget and PROVE ALL THINGS, hold fast to that which is true.

    Who will ascend in to the mountain of the Lord? Those with clean hands and a clean heart, and you cannot have clean hands if you have been handling someone’s didactic dung, let alone your own…

    I learned a huge lesson some years back when a sister came into my shop and I gave her a word of knowledge and mini sermon which blew us both away – God was in the house. I was so impressed and literally saw where this whole thing was tracking so i began to expand upon the sermon and heard immediately and loudly in my inner man, “And immediately, Satan comes to steal the Seed!”

    I bit my tongue and repented. It began a whole process of discovery of who satan is to me and in me and how all to often his nature still abides in the Holy Place, pretending to be as God and being the abomination which is between Man and God. The sons of God cannot come to God with Satan amongst us as they did in Job’s time – Satan has been banished from heaven – Jesus comes before God on our behalf – but when you are mature – the satanic humanistic lower nature in you is no more a problem. Remember how Jesus told Peter, “Get out of my face satan, for you savor not of the things of God but the things of Man”? And this was the satan who started the Church in Rome and who Paul had to admonish? Are you getting this? If you think Spong is controversial….LOL…he is a pussy! Satan’s thousand year Reich in the Church began in 1033AD when Benedict IX began having homosexual orgies in the Vatican. It will end soon…

  10. @Greg I don’t have a problem with you posting the article if this site is about the discussion of theology.
    I disagree with just about everything Spong says and it would take too long to go into it.

    Maybe the comment about his photo didn’t sound very nice, but really I don’t think this man has done anything good for Christians, and in fact has just given people more reason for not coming to Christ or going to church or praying – or believing in anything. Not because he’s right or reasonable in any way, but because of his position. The fact that he could have a leadership position in teh Episcopal church is yet another reason why I could never be an Anglican.

    I realize that doesn’t tell you why I disagree with him, but it would just take too long.

    And I wouldn’t consider Spong to be a brother or fellow Christian. Not because of any evil he has done but because of what he believes. (Or rather doesn’t believe).

  11. And like I said, I’ve studied all that stuff about a johannine community. But his books are probably convincing to those who are wavering in faith and who aren’t familiar with conservative biblical scholarship.

  12. Done?

    meaning….”I’m done here talking with these fundamentalist neanderthals”?

    or “I’ve done lots’s of study of conservative pseudo-scholarship”?

    or “the housework is done” so you can get back to signposts02?

    Or what’s done is done and cannot be undone.

    In case you were looking for a better reply how about this.

    There are very few people including liberal theologians who would go along with his 3rd point.

    No real words of Jesus?
    None at all?

    So if none of the miracles in John happened, the people weren’t real, and Jesus didn’t say anything in it, I don’t think many people would bother reading it – except for a few professional
    theologians. He has made the incredible statements, so it’s up to him to prove it. (Which he attempts to in his book but seeing we just have his conclusions it’s hard to comment on”.

    But it’s probably good for people to be aware that Spong exists if they didn’t already.

    Probably someday someone will study paul for a while and decided that he was really a gay alien visiting earth for ideas for a screenplay. And he’ll sell a few books no doubt.

  13. Paul a gay alien…now I do recall reading a scripture about him being caught up to the 7th heaven and not being able to talk about it…perhaps your thesis has legs Q, it’s worth exploring!

  14. What I’d like to know is on what points you disagree with Spong.

    I think you would agree with 1, 3, 4 5 and 6 – except that you believe in the physical resurrection of Jesus so I think you should be able to allow for at least the possibility of the Lazurus story. Though I do understand that believing in the resurrection of Jesus doesn’t mean acceptance of the Lazurus account as a real story.

    But if you agree with him on 2, that would mean that it would be difficult to discuss much.
    People often ask me “WHat did Jesus say about homosexuality?”, but it’s moot point if we can already dismiss everything he supposedly said in John.

    So we basically have no idea then do we? You could argue that he actually went around preaching about how great gay marriage was but those three writers in the johannine community kept it under wraps.

  15. @Greg Your seventh heaven comment gave me my first laugh of the day.
    THough I should probably be weeping ….

  16. Yes, you’re correct Q I agree with 1,3,4,5 and 6…and aspects of 2. I think it is unlikely that Jesus or the woman at the well would have reported their conversation in such detail that it ended up being able to be recorded some 70 years later verbatim! I think there are some made up stories to prove a theological point…such as the wedding at Caana – but I think the Samaritan story is true, and the conversation may have been something like that – but I doubt it..i think the conversation has been implanted. The language of John comes form a highly sophisticated theological language with regard Jesus and his purpose and his nature that just was not around at the time of John Zebedee.

    John the apostle could not have written this Gospel. It is far more likely that there was a group of people (not dissimilar to deutero and trito Isaiah) who put it together, there are all kinds of awkward transitions and weird edits within the story. The Gospel of John includes women as being disciples (extremely revolutionary..hence the woman at the well story) which just wasn’t done by any god Jewish Rabbi of the times…have you seen the movie Yentl?

    The likelihood of the conversations at the cross occurring are doubtful as well. The pain and inability to breathe wold have made any conversation virtually impossible…let alone cogent thought along the lines of what is purported to have been said.

    Nevertheless, I don’t think that the Gospel of John is done away with – it has to be treated as you would treat Jonah, or Job, or Genesis…The point o fJohn is that to know God, you must know Jesus…to konw Jesus is to know God.

    John does appear to make up characters – Nathanael for instance, although some do suggest he is the Bartholomew of the synoptics – because both Nathanael and Bartholomew are closely linked to Philip..I’m not convinced..but it is possible.

  17. The scriptures are written by men who had a special kind of relationship with the Teacher within, far more developed than most. Jesus told me that they first had a sound relationship with God and intimate revelation of Him and out of this came the books. They were birthed in God and written by men inspired by God. This is why our comprehension of scripture is so two dimensional until we get to know the Author and the perfecter of our faith, Jesus. Now just suppose we actually (are meant to) have the Mind of Christ? Remember how Jesus confounded the scholars of his time, the Doctors of the Law, the spiritual intellectuals, the theologians, those who knew all about God – so much so that when he withstood them to their faces, they did not recognize them and WHY? They were BLIND leaders of the blind. But the simple folk recognized him, even the demons recognized him and were sore afraid!

    Greg, its the thing between our ears that is the problem…don’t try and figure God out with your brain…have the Mind of Christ! Do you really think that God cannot bring things to remembrance or grant revelation knowledge of the most profound nature to even the likes of me? Do you consign such claims to the same bin you put healing testimonies in?

    He comes to His own, and His own know Him not…Jesus wept!

  18. Jesus still weeps…a while ago he had me preach a meeting…before it started He had me weep with such inner agony i did not know possible…He weeps over our unbelief, not over Lazarus…whose end he already knew. Jesus weeps for His bride…ask Him to show you…but be ready to get very teary…He will allow you to feel a little touch of His pain for His people…and maybe share some wisdom betimes…

  19. What do people like Spong bring to the table? Nothing. They remove the very meal we depend on for nurture and strength. They are kill-joys. Presenters of subtle antichrist thought. He is he Lord Haw-Haw of the movement against faith.

    He poisons the trough with unbelief.

    Jude described them well.

    These are spots in your love feasts, while they feast with you without fear, serving only themselves. They are clouds without water, carried about by the winds; late autumn trees without fruit, twice dead, pulled up by the roots; raging waves of the sea, foaming up their own shame; wandering stars for whom is reserved the blackness of darkness forever.

  20. Well, I’d left the church for dead and then. while in gaol, I read some of Jack Spong’s books and he actually helped me to come back to faith with some intellectual integrity.

    You say he brings nothing? Well he helped restore my relationship with God. You may not like him. You may not agree with him, but you can not say he brings nothing, nor can you accurately say he poisons the well. He drinks from a different font to you, for sure, but it is still holy water.

  21. Why We Must Reclaim The Bible From Fundamentalists

    John Shelby Spong

    The contrast between the way the Bible is understood in the academic world and the way it is viewed in our churches is striking. I know because in my life as a priest and a bishop I have both served typical congregations and been privileged to study and to teach in some of the best known Christian academic centers in the world. In academia I discovered that issues and insights, commonplace among the scholars, are viewed as highly controversial and even as “heresy” in the churches. The result has been that the majority of people who have remained in the church have become more and more rigid and fundamentalist, while those who have left have become more and more dismissive of everything, good or bad, about Christianity. We also now have a crop of writers like Richard Dawkins and Christopher Hitchen, who have totally demolished the fundamentalist approach to God with their clever and penetrating books, yet they are seemingly unaware that there are other ways to view Christianity.

    In the world of Christian scholarship, for example, to read the Bible literally is regarded as absurd. To call the words of the Bible “the Word of God” is more than naïve. No modern person can still believe that a star can wander through the sky so slowly that wise men can keep up with it, that God actually dictated the Ten Commandments — all three versions, no less — or that a multitude can be fed with five loaves and two fish. No modern person understanding genetics and reproduction can believe that virgins conceive, nor can those who understand what death does to the human body in a matter of just minutes still view the resurrection as the resuscitation of a deceased body after three days. Biblical scholars know that the accounts of the crucifixion read in Christian churches on Good Friday are not eye witness reports, but developed interpretations of Jesus’ death based on a series of Old Testament texts selected to convince fellow Jews that Jesus “fulfilled the scriptures” and thus really was the “messiah.” These issues and many others are assumed in the world of biblical scholars, but are viewed by many church-goers, together with the vast majority of television evangelists and radio preachers, as attacks on divine revelation that must be resisted in order to save Christianity. They thus, knowingly or unknowingly, join in a conspiracy of silence, ignoring truth when they feel they can and viewing biblical scholars, strangely enough, as the church’s ultimate enemy. At the same time secular critics attack what Christian scholars know is nonsensical about both the Bible and Christianity and act as if they have discovered something new.

    There are some biblical facts that cannot and should not be ignored, if Christians really value truth. For example, the time separating when Moses lived (ca. 1250 BCE) from when the stories of Moses were written in the Bible (ca. 950 BCE) is about 300 years, representing 15 generations of oral transmission. Can anyone knowing this continue to be a literal believer? The gospels were written 40 -70 years after the crucifixion, which means that most of what we read about Jesus in the Bible was handed down orally for two to three generations before one word of it achieved written form. The gospels were also first written in Greek, a language which neither Jesus nor his disciples spoke or wrote! How can anyone claim “inerrancy” for such material? Other facts well-known in the academy, but seemingly unknown outside by either believers or critics, are that scholars can find no evidence that miracles were associated with the memory of Jesus before the 8th decade of the Christian era, that there is no mention of the virgin birth anywhere before the 9th decade and that the narratives of the ascension and Pentecost did not appear until the 10th decade. The New Testament does not agree on such basic issues as the identity of the twelve disciples or the details of Easter. Why has none of this been made available in churches or been discovered by those who pose as the church’s secular critics?
    The New Testament also introduces us to a group of characters who are far more likely to be literary creations than they are to be literal. Was Judas Iscariot a figure of history? I do not think so. There is no mention of him in any source before the 8th decade. Paul, writing between 51 and 64 CE, appears never to have heard of the tradition that one of the twelve was a traitor. In addition to that, every detail of the New Testament portrait of Judas can be located in other traitor stories in the Hebrew Scriptures. If a major figure like Judas is not real then what about such lesser characters as Nicodemus, the Samaritan woman by the well, Lazarus, miraculously raised from the dead four days after being buried, or even the “Beloved Disciple?” All of them, I now believe, were created to illustrate a theme.

    It was fascinating for me in writing this book to explore the scriptures from these perspectives by journeying through the entire biblical landscape from Genesis to Revelation. That enabled me with both integrity and conviction to challenge the literal assumptions of the past and to open the biblical story to new levels of understanding that I believe are profoundly real. Who would have thought, for instance, that Hosea’s domestic life would illumine his understanding of the love of God; or that Amos, a keeper of sycamore trees in the village of Tekoa, would be the one to redefine God as justice? The book of Jonah is seen as a readable mythological tale, deliberately designed to hook its audience emotionally in order to break them out of the bondage of prejudice. The book of Job explores the universal theme of why innocent people suffer. There is great stuff in the Bible that needs to be opened in new ways.

    Christianity is, I believe, about expanded life, heightened consciousness and achieving a new humanity. It is not about closed minds, supernatural interventions, a fallen creation, guilt, original sin or divine rescue. I am tired of seeing the Bible being used, as it has been throughout history, to legitimize slavery and segregation, to subdue women, to punish homosexuals, to justify war and to oppose family planning and birth control. That is a travesty which must be challenged and changed.

    I wrote “Re-Claiming the Bible for a Non-Religious World” to do precisely that.

    http://www.huffingtonpost.com/john-shelby-spong/why-i-wrote-re-claiming-t_b_1007399.html

  22. Greg, what he gave you is an intellectual understanding of faith, and this shines through in your contributions to this blog. But you struggle with anything supernatural such as healing and miracles or things of the Spirit. I did not say you reject them,must you do struggle.

    I don’t se how Mr Spong can help you through this.infact he is deepening your doubts if you accept what he says about John.

    I’m glad you’re where you are, but you can draw closer to the Jesus of the Bible than you are at present.

    Bones, I take it you agree with Mr Spong also, since you added the comment quoting his reasons for ‘reclaiming the Bible from fundamentalists’, whatever that means! I mean, the the very premise is flawed to the bone. The Bible is the Bible. It stands as it is whether you’re a fundamentalist, conservative, liberal, literalist or mythologist. You choose to believe what it says or not. You don’t claim it from anyone. It is what it is.

    What people like Mr Spong do is take away the Bible and replace it with a humanist concept which has a pseudo-Christian subheading.

    It is intellectual fodder for unitarians.

  23. What people like Mr Spong do is take away the Bible and replace it with a humanist concept which has a pseudo-Christian subheading.

    Once upon a time I would have agreed with you. I don’t now.

  24. Jack Spong was on radio once many many years ago, and I couldn’t believe what I was hearing, I felt at the time; given what I’d been told I had to believe in order to be a Christian, that he therefore was no Christian. I was well wrong!

  25. Spong, re-Bones,
    No modern person understanding genetics and reproduction can believe that virgins conceive, nor can those who understand what death does to the human body in a matter of just minutes still view the resurrection as the resuscitation of a deceased body after three days.

    I take it you agree with this heresy.

    Come now Bones. I can put up with, or make allowances for, much of what you say and still believe that you have enough of Christ to be a Christian, but if you continue with the heresy of this fellow you are overstepping the line considerably. The man is a total unbeliever. At best he could be considered agnostic, but, given his prolific authorship of anti-scriptural denial of faith, one could only attribute wolf to his name.

    Christianity is, I believe, about expanded life, heightened consciousness and achieving a new humanity. It is not about closed minds, supernatural interventions, a fallen creation, guilt, original sin or divine rescue.

    So, as I said earlier, Mr Spong is a humanist attempting to reconcile his unbelief in the supernatural power of God with his limited worldview. He is seeking a new religion through the vehicle of an established faith. he is hi-jacking truth to insert a material gospel of human logic because he can’t bring himself to believe in a God who performs brilliant acts which confound our limited intellect.

    Mr Spong doesn’t, in his mind, need God. He doesn’t need a Saviour. He just usurps a platform on which to build flawed framework for a new paganism.

    I am tired of seeing the Bible being used, as it has been throughout history, to legitimize slavery and segregation, to subdue women, to punish homosexuals, to justify war and to oppose family planning and birth control.

    Well, this is a weak argument for demolishing scripture, which men like Wilberforce and Lincoln would find pitiful, and, although, on many of these points, Mr Spong could have agreement from most Christians, including evangelicals, that they are poor use of scripture, why does he have to spend his entire life attempting to destroy the canon to achieve his aims?

    Probably because the canon defies much of what he seeks to achieve, or presents an ambiguity he cannot cut free from without compromising the cloth he has chosen to wear, and, being ordained in a Christian religion, restricts his personal gaols unless they are bastardised to suit his aims.

    Does he have the same perspective about communism, Islam, animism or Buddhism? There are many religions and cultural traditions which legitimise these societally weakening issues.

    But Jesus came to liberate all of these people through the very gospel Mr Spong rejects, and through the cross and resurrection he cannot believe in.

    A true man of God would know how to utilise scripture to demonstrate the authenticity of the Word to free all people from their sin and from the sin of others who hold them back from true liberty in Christ.

    But Mr Spong, I guarantee, has a major issue with what sin is , why Jesus came to redeem us form sin, and how Jesus sets the captive free even if they were to remain in temporal slavery. He brings a liberty which transcends this earthly suffering and leads us to a heavenly hope.

    But liberals like Mr Spong cannot grasp the significance of the cross because they do not believe it, nor do they see the relevance of it.

    He is an heretic.

  26. Greg I’ll get on to that link you gave – but for a start, I’ll show you the way I think by referring to three points you mentioned.

    ” I think there are some made up stories to prove a theological point…such as the wedding at Caana – but I think the Samaritan story is true, and the conversation may have been something like that – but I doubt it..i think the conversation has been implanted.”

    And the next guy might think that the wedding at Caana might have been true – minus the miracle, but think the Samaritan story was made up to prove a point. And yet another thinks there both made up. or another thinks they’re both true. Then another thinks they’re both made up but another story is true and on we go.
    And often what a lot of what you think is true or not is probably influenced by the latest book you read or the lecturer that happened to be in your religious studies dept, who was influenced by a guy influenced by a German 1900 years after the John was written. In other words….what makes your opinion about one passage so valid?

    “The language of John comes form a highly sophisticated theological language with regard Jesus and his purpose and his nature that just was not around at the time of John Zebedee.”

    See here is a statement the like of which always comes up in authorship discussions – like the arguments about church government in Timothy.
    Okay, here we are in 2013. Can you tell me within 10 years or so, or 20 years, when you think someone might have used highly sophisticated theological language? So give me the date for when John Zebedee could have written this book, or when your writers wrote this book. GIve me the dates, and tell me how you (and your sources can be so positive that nobody could have used the highly sophisticated language?
    How many pieces of theological literature would you need to compare to come to an answer?

    ” The Gospel of John includes women as being disciples (extremely revolutionary..hence the woman at the well story) which just wasn’t done by any god Jewish Rabbi of the times”

    So when Jesus does something revolutionary, we think he couldn’t have done it?
    Maybe Jesus was……revolutionary? Maybe he kind of stood out in the things he said and did?
    There are hundreds of liberal women writing blogs as we speak about Jesus and his female disciples making points about sexism in their feminist hermeneutics classes – but you in one clean sweep can dismiss them because you doubt Jesus would have gone against the status quo.

    My basic thesis is that I have no faith at all in people 2000 years later to sit around deciding what they think Jesus would have REALLY done and said. Maybe he never said ANYTHING?
    Maybe the Johannine community were nutcases.

    “The likelihood of the conversations at the cross occurring are doubtful as well. The pain and inability to breathe wold have made any conversation virtually impossible…let alone cogent thought along the lines of what is purported to have been said.”

    Okay sorry – it’s four. The likelihood of lots of things that I read in the newspaper is small – but that’s why a lot of them are in the news. But you are saying that no person could have ever talked at all during a crucifixion? I think the things that Jesus said are of incredible importance -BECAUSE HE SAID THEM, not because some writers wanted to make a point. Do you think that there were people who heard about the sayings and mocked Christians because everyone knew speech was impossible? Or do you think the opponents of Christianity let it go because they understand that the sayings of the cross were just a literary device?

    No. I have never read any medical evidence to suggest that Jesus couldn’t have said what he said on the cross.

    But in the end, if in some cases there are accounts in the gospel records like Jesus dying, his body laid in a tomb then rising after days – instead of thinking that’s impossible, I believe it, and it’s the very basis of my faith.

    See all my life I’ve heard people giving reasons why the gospel isn’t true. Some say that Jesus passed out on the cross and came too later so he just resucitated. Now you say that the cross was so terrible that he couldn’t have said what he said.

    Go back to your evangelical days and get a yellow marker and highlight the abount of times faith and believe comes in the gospels. And have another color for doubt and unbelief.

    Everyone wants you to doubt that Jesus is who he says he was, and that he died on the cross was buried and rose again. But, that my friend is the gospel that we preach or should be preaching.

    Take away the resurrection – and your faith is in vain.

    I’m glad you got some good out of Spong. Next time, take some different books with you!

    Peace.

  27. What a bizarre post by q. People have been trying to understand the bible for 2000 years. Thousands of commentaries have been written and many more will come. Which makes me wonder why God would make the basis of salvation in a book which can clearly be interpreted any number of ways.

    All the gospels including those of thomas, phillip, etc were primarily theological texts. Written to attack and defend a communitys theology. That was their primary purpose and the purpose of the over 150 books that didnt make the bible.

  28. Also that our understanding of God and scripture doesnt develop over time is to consign biblical study to the dark ages. Not unlike rejecting modern medicine or science.

    Whrther you agree with spong or not there are many who cannot understand a literal ascension and some of the other biblical accounts. If i was with a guy getting baptised down the river and a voice grom heavrn announced who he was I’d think that was something pretty special. Yet the disciples still didnt get it.

  29. There’s not much doubting what Jesus said, nor what Paul said about salvation. Unless you’re an unbeliever.

    You just don’t want to accept what the Old and New Testaments say because you might have to change your thinking about a few things.

    People haven’t been trying to understand the basics. Modern day scholars have attempted to confuse the issue.

    The Bible worked for me as far as salvation, repentance, and a changed life inside and out. I could line up literally hundreds of people who would say the same. If I had time to gather them all, make that thousands.

    Do you actually have a relationship with the Spirit of Christ, Bones?

  30. Do you?

    Yes it is ok to doubt. Without doubt there is no search for truth nor growth of knowledge. The opposite of faith isnt doubt but certainty.

  31. “What a bizarre post by q.”

    No I don’t think it was bizzare at all. I’m not saying I understand everything, and I’m not saying the Bible is easy to understand or believe. As I’ve said before, I accept the fact that people will have different interpretations.

    But, while I might have a completely different interpretation to a Roman Catholic or an Orthodox priest or a Presbyterian, at least we start with the common ground that Jesus said what is recorded.

    Once you start saying that Jesus didn’t say this or that, and didn’t do this or that, and even the people he spoke to weren’t real, then there is no basis to the discussion.

    That’s why I have more in common with a Roman Catholic/Orthodox priest in many ways than I do with you or Greg.

    And I am extremely ecumenical. I can understand and respect different forms of baptism, transubstantiation, end times, Revelations – you name it. As you said, there are many different ideas.

    Noah’s flood, different interpretations of Genesis – you name it. But if a man denies all the miracles, the virgin birth but then also the resurrection, he has lost all claim to be a Christian. Sure he can say he is – that’s fine. But to me he’s basically an unbeliever – not that there’s anything wrong with that (most of the people i live near are unbelievers.

    So, can you and Greg get together and tell us what Jesus actually said?
    If you are say there are huge portions of things that didn’t happen, or weren’t said, then write a gospel for those who are interested in knowing what Jesus actually said and did. A lot of people are interested in that.
    Do you believe that Peter and John and Thomas existed? Or was Thomas a literary creation so that gospel writers could speak about doubt?

    Actually, my comment wasn’t crazy at all. The Pope and that Orthodox priest in your youtube would agree with me completely. Ironic isn’t it?

    The same arguments that Spong uses could be used to say it’s absurd for you to believe that the Holy Spirit is with you – except in some kind of literary philosophical way.

    I don’t know where you’re at now Bones. Greg has always said that he doesn’t believe in any miracles of Jesus but does believe in the resurrection. You don’t seem to believe in OT miracles, but believed that Jesus did miracles and you believe in the resurrection. Spong doesn’t believe in the miracles or the resurrection.

    What would be interesting is watching you and Greg argue your case for the resurrection to Spong.

    No resurrection, no Christianity.

  32. But I i know what it is to doubt so I don’t condemn a person for having questions.

    Spong doesn’t have questions though. He flat out denies truth. There’s a difference.

  33. Well there are different applications of doubt. If I doubt that there will be a cyclone in London this morning even though someone says there will be I am acting on very good data which tells me there has never been a cyclone on London. On this occasion doubt would be useful to me. Now if I was in Darwin in the wet season and someone said it I would have every reason to not doubt, but I would make inquiries via weather sources. If I rejected this it could be that my doubt would adversely affect me.

    However, if Jesus appeared to me and said that, as a sign to Londoners, there would be a unique weather event which included a cyclone over London, I would have two choices. I could either believe what Jesus said, or doubt him. I would have to ask myself whether Jesus had the capacity to change the weather patterns, and if he would, on any occasion do so. This would be a different set of values to the norm.

    So you say that doubt is a stimulant to education. Well, this could have an element of truth, but is it actually doubt which is driving you, or curiosity, or even the more positive search for truth? Why did you have to make the claim that doubt was the stimulant? But I can see what you are implying, and this is another application, even if it is a sketchy example, because I do not think that doubt actually drives our intellect.

    What you are really saying is that you have a higher faith in the opposite conclusion, and, by being convinced of the alternative you are driven to research it. That is not doubt. That is confidence in another opinion.

    But Jesus didn’t use doubt in the same way. He considered it a negative when it came to the application of his promises. He rebuked his disciples for doubting his word, for instance. When Jesus, who was walking on water, encouraged Peter to come walking on the water to him, Peter, at first, succeeded in walking on water, then, looking at the roughness of the water, lost confidence and began to sink, Jesus having to save him, Jesus said to Peter “Oh you of little faith, why did you doubt?”

    He told his disciples on a few occasions they did not have enough faith. He cajoled them for doubting his Word or instruction. Jesus very much encouraged faith as a means to accessing the incredible.

    In this case doubt is not useful, and it is not inspiring. Doubt becomes the antithesis of faith. In Greek the word for ‘faith’ is pistis, and the word for ‘doubt’ is distazo, meaning to waver between two opinions, so you can see that doubt very much is the negative of faith in Biblical terms when using this application, because it makes a person double minded, unable to decide whether to follow wat God says in the Word or not.

    James put it well.

    But let him ask in faith, with no doubting, for he who doubts is like a wave of the sea driven and tossed by the wind. For let not that man suppose that he will receive anything from the Lord; he is a double-minded man, unstable in all his ways.

    So you have to acknowledge the application of ‘doubt’ as a negative of faith i You are to understand what Jesus is saying when he implies that doubts will interfere with faith in a negative way.

    So Jesus, telling us how to see obstacles to faith removed, says, “assuredly, I say to you, whoever says to this mountain, ‘Be removed and be cast into the sea,’ and does not doubt in his heart, but believes that those things he says will be done, he will have whatever he says.

    I think you are making a different kind of application of doubt when you say doubt drives you towards truth. My Pastor, who is C3 of course, would say exactly the same thing as you, by the way, and I think it is a C3 teaching. I don’t necessarily disagree with what is being said, but I think there are different applications and we have to be careful about how we define doubt.

  34. No resurrection, no Christianity.

    Bishop Spong On: The Resurrection

    The essay below was published April 23, 2003.

    Easter: In Need of Reinterpretation!

    The Christian Faith was born in the experience that we have come to call Easter. It was this Easter experience that invested Jesus with a sense of ultimacy. It caused his followers to regard his teaching as worthy of being preserved. It was the reason that Saint Paul could write, “if Christ has not been raised then your faith is in vain.” Clearly without Easter there would be no Christianity. That assertion hardly seems debatable. At this point I discover that I am at one with the most literal fundamentalists.

    What is debatable, however, is the question of what the experience of Easter really was. Here the distance between the Christianity of biblical scholarship and the Christianity of the fundamentalists opens and begins to widen. Fundamentalists are quite sure of their truth. On Easter the crucified Jesus, who was laid in the grave as a deceased man on Good Friday, was by the mighty act of God, restored to life on Easter. He had thus broken the power of death for all people. If the body of Jesus was not physically restored to life, the fundamentalists claim, then Easter is fraudulent. There can be no compromise here. Those who waver on this foundational truth of Christianity have, according to this perspective, abandoned the essential core of their faith tradition. Well, my only comment on this would be to borrow the words from an old song and say, “It ain’t necessarily so!”

    When one reads the New Testament in the order in which these books were written, a fascinating progression is revealed. Paul, for example, writing between the years 50 and 64 or some 20 to 34 years after the earthly life of Jesus came to an end, never describes the resurrection of Jesus as a physical body resuscitated after death. There is no hint in the Pauline corpus that one, who had died, later walked out of his grave clothes, emerged from the tomb and was seen by his disciples.

    What Paul does suggest is that Easter meant that God had acted to reverse the verdict that the world had pronounced on Jesus by raising Jesus from death into God. It was, therefore, out of God in a transforming kind of heavenly vision that this Jesus then appeared to certain chosen witnesses. Paul enumerates these witnesses and, in a telling detail, says that this was the same Jesus that Paul himself had seen. No one suggests that Paul ever saw a resuscitated body. The Pauline corpus later says, “If you then have been raised with Christ, seek the things which are above, where Christ is, seated at the right hand of God.” Please note that the story of the Ascension had not been written when these Pauline words were formed. Paul did not envision the Resurrection as Jesus being restored to life in this world but as Jesus being raised into God. It was not an event in time but a transcendent and transforming truth.

    Paul died, according to our best estimates, around the year 64 C.E. The first Gospel was not written until the early 70′s. Paul never had a chance to read the Easter story in any Gospel. The tragedy of later Christian history is that we read Paul through the lens of the Gospels. Thus we have both distorted Paul and also confused theology.

    When Mark, the first Gospel, was written the Risen Christ never appears. The last time Jesus is seen comes when his deceased body is taken from the cross and laid in the tomb. Mark’s account of the Resurrection presents us with the narrative of mourning women confronting an empty tomb, meeting a messenger who tells them that Jesus has been raised and asking these women to convey to the disciples that Jesus will meet them in Galilee. Mark then concludes his Gospel with a picture of these women fleeing in fear, saying nothing to anyone (16:1-8). So abrupt was this ending that people began to write new endings to what they thought was Mark’s incomplete story. Two of those endings are actually reproduced in the King James Version of the Bible as verses 9-20. But thankfully, these later creations have been removed from the text of Mark in recent Bibles and placed into footnotes. The sure fact of New Testament scholarship is that Mark’s Gospel ended without the Risen Christ ever being seen by anyone.

    Both Matthew, who wrote between 80-85, and Luke, who wrote between 88-92, had Mark to guide their compositions. Both changed, heightened and expanded Mark. It is fascinating to lift those changes into consciousness and to ask what was it that motivated Matthew and Luke to transform Mark’s narrative. Did they have new sources of information? Had the story grown over the years in the retelling?

    The first thing to note is that Matthew changes Mark’s story about the women at the tomb. First, the messenger in Mark becomes a supernatural angel in Matthew’s story. Next Matthew says the women do see Jesus in the garden. They grasp him by the feet and worship him. This is the first time in Christian history that the Resurrection is presented as physical resuscitation. It occurs in the 9th decade of the Christian era. It should be noted that it took more than 50 years to begin to interpret the Easter experience as the resuscitated body of the deceased Jesus. When Matthew presents the story of the risen Jesus to the disciples, it is on a mountaintop in Galilee where he appears out of the sky armed with heavenly power. Recall once again that when Matthew wrote this narrative the story of Jesus’ ascension had not yet entered the tradition.

    Luke follows Mark’s story line about the women at the tomb, stating that they do not see Jesus in the garden on Easter morning. Luke, however, has turned Mark’s messenger into two angelic beings. He has also transferred the locale of Easter to Jerusalem specifically denying Mark’s words spoken through the messenger that Jesus will meet them in Galilee. Luke has heightened dramatically the physicality of Jesus’ resuscitated body. In Luke, the resuscitated Jesus walks, talks, eats, teaches and interprets. He also appears and disappears at will. He invites the disciples to handle his flesh. He asserts that he is not a ghost. Finally in order to remove this physically resuscitated Jesus from the earth, Luke develops the story of Jesus’ Ascension.

    Even in the Ascension narrative, however, Luke is not consistent. In the last chapter of his Gospel the Ascension takes place on Easter Sunday afternoon. In the first chapter of Acts, which Luke also writes, the Ascension takes place 40 days after Easter. Whereas the messenger in Mark, who becomes an angel in Matthew, directs the disciples to Galilee for a meeting with the risen Christ, Luke specifically denies any Galilean resurrection tradition. He orders the disciples to remain in Jerusalem until they are endowed with power from on high. The narrative is clearly growing.

    In John, the Fourth Gospel (95-100), the physicality of the Resurrection is even more enhanced. In the 20th chapter of this Gospel Jesus appears first to Mary Magdalene in the garden and says to her, “Mary do not cling to me.” One cannot cling to something that is non-physical. Then John suggests that Jesus ascends immediately into heaven before appearing, presumably out of heaven, that night to the disciples, who are missing Thomas. Though Jesus appears able to enter an upper room in which the windows have been closed and the doors locked, he is once again portrayed as being quite physical. This physical quality is further enhanced a week later when Jesus makes a second appearance to the disciples, this time with Thomas present. It is in this narrative that Thomas is invited to touch the nail prints and to examine the place in his side into which the spear had been hurled. All of these appearances take place in Jerusalem.

    Chapter 21 of John’s Gospel portrays a Galilean appearance much later in time after the disciples have actually returned to their fishing trade. Here Jesus directs them to a great catch of fish, 153 of them to be specific. Then he eats with them. Finally he restores Peter after his three-fold denial.

    The Easter story appears to have grown rather dramatically over the years. Something happened after the crucifixion of Jesus that convinced the disciples that Jesus shared in the eternal life of God and was thus available to them as a living presence. This experience was so profound that the disciples, who at his arrest had fled in fear, were now reconstituted and empowered even to die for the truth of their vision. This experience had the power to force the Jewish disciples to redefine the God of the Jews so that Jesus could be seen as part of who God is. Finally this experience was so profound that it ultimately created, on the first day of the week, a new holy day that was quite different from the Sabbath, to enable Christians to mark this transforming moment with a liturgical act called “the breaking of bread.”

    When these biblical data are assembled and examined closely, two things become clear. First something of enormous power gripped the disciples following the crucifixion that transformed their lives. Second, it was some fifty years before that transforming experience was interpreted as the resuscitation of a three days dead Jesus to the life of the world. Our conversation about the meaning of Easter must begin where these two realities meet.

    http://johnshelbyspong.com/sample-essays/the-resurrection/

  35. So you say that doubt is a stimulant to education.

    More than that. If I am certain of something, why would I question it, why would I want to change my beliefs or knowledge if I am certain of that belief. Nothing changes when you are certain.

    Without doubt, we wouldn’t have scientific discoveries or medicines. Without doubt, there would be no Reformation. If Luther didn’t doubt the Catholic teaching on indulgences then we would all be celebrating mass every Sunday. That wasn’t a result of curiosity. Of course the Reformation fathered the Enlightenment. The questioning of religious dogma spread from a religious battle to a secular and scientific one. Whereby many started doubting prevailing beliefs such as God causing disasters, a massive fallout resulted after the Earthquake in Lisbon in 1755 which drove philosophers like Voltaire to renounce a sovereign God.

    Indeed the heart of Evangelism is to create doubt into a non-believer’s lifestyle. To question the way they live, the god they worship, that they are sinners and without God their life is incomplete. And we all know how hard it is to change the certainty and delusion of cultists.

    Study of scripture raises many questions. For many of us there are doubts and we plea to God “Lord, help our unbelief!”

  36. So Jesus, telling us how to see obstacles to faith removed, says, “assuredly, I say to you, whoever says to this mountain, ‘Be removed and be cast into the sea,’ and does not doubt in his heart, but believes that those things he says will be done, he will have whatever he says.

    So has that happened to anyone here? Do you have enough belief to have whatever you say.

  37. So in other words, Spong denies the resurrection.

    Are you agreeing with Spong, Bones?

    I don’t think he’s saying that. And I have more doubts over the Ascension which Spong outlines above then the resurrection.

    At college we used to denigrate Spong’s work by calling him ‘Spong the Pong’. Pretty immature stuff and I’d have lined up with Q to see him burn for his unbelief. Which I interpreted as an attack on my beliefs.

    Spong is outlining inconsistencies within the gospel accounts, including the fact that Mark has no resurrection account.

    Jesus was resurrected – how that happened I cannot say.

  38. No. Spong is creating inconsistencies with which to form a cult.

    And he is denying the resurrection, without question.

    The Bible tells us how Jesus was resurrected. What’s to be confused over?

    Unless you agree with Spong.

  39. Spong claims, and you swallow, the lie that Paul doesn’t speak of the resurrection, yet Paul obviously does. And he does so as an answer to the question of what gospel he preaches, so it is rather concise.

    1 Corinthians 15
    3 For I delivered to you first of all that which I also received: that Christ died for our sins according to the Scriptures,
    4 and that He was buried, and that He rose again the third day according to the Scriptures,
    5 and that He was seen by Cephas, then by the twelve.
    6 After that He was seen by over five hundred brethren at once, of whom the greater part remain to the present, but some have fallen asleep.
    7 After that He was seen by James, then by all the apostles.
    8 Then last of all He was seen by me also, as by one born out of due time.

    He rose again the third day according to the Scriptures! Which Scriptures, Bones?

    Well they must have been the accounts Paul received from the Apostles of Christ, which were being circulated around the growing Church which expanded from Jerusalem. Paul was in Antioch after he had to escaped from Jerusalem, having been apprehended by Christ on the road to Damascus. Paul was in Antioch for 14 years sitting under the ministry there, so he must have known all about the death, burial and resurrection of Christ as outlined in the gospels.

    Come on, Bones. For goodness sake wake up.

    Spong is a crass deceiver and a heretic. At best he is deceived himself because he is not saved and is not filled with the Spirit, so he’s trying to work it all out in the flesh. He is faithless in the sense that he does not believe, therefore he can only work things out according to human logic and not according to the Spirit of Christ.

    Again. Are you in a relationship with the Holy Spirit, Bones?

  40. Peter also, in Acts, had preached, on the day of Pentecost, that it was written that the Messiah Jesus would not see corruption, but would be raised. Do you think that perhaps Paul got wind of what Peter preached on the Day of Pentecost? That word was out well and truly from the very beginning of the Church.

    Spong’s illiteracy when it comes to Scripture is evident throughout his writing.

  41. “I’d have lined up with Q to see him burn for his unbelief. Which I interpreted as an attack on my beliefs.”

    I am not lining up to burn anyone. I don’t think Spong should be burned or imprisoned or anything. People are free to believe anything in a democracy.

    He is most certainly denying the bodily resurrection. You pasted an article which I am familiar with. And he’s not saying anything new. I was taught that stuff 20 years ago.

    So there’s nothing new there for me.

    He has said nothing at all that would make me or the Pope or millions of Christians think that the bodily resurrection of Jesus was not fact or not important.

    No resurrection, no Christianity.

    So Bones, have you ever thought about going overseas to preach the gospel? What would you preach?

  42. He rose again the third day according to the Scriptures! Which Scriptures, Bones?

    There were no scriptures around when Paul wrote. Only the Old Testament.

    What Scriptures is Paul referring to in 1 Cor 15:4

    In Acts 17, Paul is speaking in the synagogue. That would require basing his sermon off an Old Testament passage. Even if he then began quoting rabbinic interpretations of the Old Testament, he would have to start from an Old Testament scripture. The same is true of debating the Jews in public. He had to base his reasoning first on written Torah.

    Which leaves only two occurrences of graphe, those under discussion:

    1Cr 15:3 For I delivered to you as of first importance what I also received, that Christ died for our sins according to the Scriptures, 4 and that He was buried, and that He was raised on the third day according to the Scriptures,
    From Paul’s usage of the word graphe and grapho elsewhere overwhelmingly being to the Old Testament, we may reasonably conclude that in 1 Cor 15:3 and 4, he is also making his basis on the Old Testament (if you include the times that Paul alludes to the Old Testament or quotes it without an introduction, the evidence is even more overwhelming that he is thinking of the Old Testament).

    http://hermeneutics.stackexchange.com/questions/1431/what-scriptures-is-paul-referring-to-in-1-cor-154

  43. You could of course try demolishing Spong’s argument instead of feigning offence. Spong has outlined the inconsistencies in the resurrection account and has sought to explain why they exist. Not everyone can sweep them under the carpet.

    And if you’re going to quote Acts you need to consider his argument re Luke

    Luke follows Mark’s story line about the women at the tomb, stating that they do not see Jesus in the garden on Easter morning. Luke, however, has turned Mark’s messenger into two angelic beings. He has also transferred the locale of Easter to Jerusalem specifically denying Mark’s words spoken through the messenger that Jesus will meet them in Galilee. Luke has heightened dramatically the physicality of Jesus’ resuscitated body. In Luke, the resuscitated Jesus walks, talks, eats, teaches and interprets. He also appears and disappears at will. He invites the disciples to handle his flesh. He asserts that he is not a ghost. Finally in order to remove this physically resuscitated Jesus from the earth, Luke develops the story of Jesus’ Ascension.

    Even in the Ascension narrative, however, Luke is not consistent. In the last chapter of his Gospel the Ascension takes place on Easter Sunday afternoon. In the first chapter of Acts, which Luke also writes, the Ascension takes place 40 days after Easter. Whereas the messenger in Mark, who becomes an angel in Matthew, directs the disciples to Galilee for a meeting with the risen Christ, Luke specifically denies any Galilean resurrection tradition. He orders the disciples to remain in Jerusalem until they are endowed with power from on high. The narrative is clearly growing.

  44. Just to emphasise this for you, Bones. Paul, according to Spong, doesn’t mention the death, burial and resurrection of Christ, and, again, according to Spong, Paul could not have known the gospels of the resurrection, because, he claims, they were written after Paul.

    But Paul himself gives testimony.

    He says, “I delivered to you first of all that which I also received: that Christ died for our sins according to the Scriptures, and that He was buried, and that He rose again the third day according to the Scriptures.

    So Paul tells us he delivered, or preached, that which he had also received. He received it from where? From his formative years in the churches at Jerusalem and Antioch, after his conversion, where he received the gospel, and the Apostles’ Doctrine, which served the early Church. Of course, after Pentecost, the Apostles immediately set themselves apart to study, pray and bring the Apostles’ Doctrine to the growing Church.

    And Paul says he received the gospel according to the Scriptures, so clearly there were written accounts of the gospel message being circulated in his time in Antioch and probably Jerusalem, and these accounts gave the gospel message that Jesus…

    1. Died for our sins
    2. Was buried
    3. Rose again on the third day
    4. Was seen by witnesses, including His disciples

    How much clearer could this be?

  45. Bones, you talk about doubt – you have plenty of doubt regarding God and the bible but seemingly have no doubt accepting anything Spong says re authorship and dating of gospels.

    You do realize that not all academics agree with his dating don’t you?

    You say so many things dogmatically when all you have is the word of Spong.

    I wish you’d read these guys more critically.

    It just takes so long having to go through his arguments. Steve did but then you just start pasting again.

    Anyway, I don’t have time to go through everything Spong says.

    But if now you have really gone so far that you
    don’t believe in the bodily resurrection of Jesus it will change the nature of how we discuss things here.

    I don’t think you’d really fit in to an Orthodox Church after all.

    They still believe in the death, burial and physical resurrection of Jesus.

  46. Of course the Scriptures refer to the Old Testament, but they are also brought to us by the Apostles and Prophets as the foundational New Testament.

    Do you really think there were no written versions of the Apostles’ Doctrine circulating in Paul’s time? Are you really trying to say that Paul did not know what James and John and Peter and Andrew knew of the death, burial and resurrection of the Master?

    Paul explicitly tells us that he delivered that which I received. He received it from where? From his teachers at Jerusalem and Antioch. He also received much of what he revealed form Christ. He received much of what he said from translation into the third heaven.

    But he was also an expert in the Torah, the Old Testament, and in Greek and Latin as well as Hebrew. He was a Pharisee. He was a Jew. He knew huge passages of the Old Testament, including the Pentateuch and the Psalms, verbatim.

    Paul also tells us that after his conversion, when he went into Jerusalem, he was expressly cross-examined for his doctrine by the Elders of the Church there. They put him through it to make sure he knew what the gospel of the New Testament was according to their then understanding.

    Do you not think that he would have had to know and understand what peter had revealed on the Day of Pentecost of the death and resurrection o Christ, and particularly in reference to the fact that Christ would not see corruption, and would be raised?

    Come on people!

  47. I’m well aware of the dating issues. No one wants to talk about the resurrection discrepencies within the gospel accounts.

  48. Gosh, I don’t know what to say to you, Bones. I have already told you.

    You are actually telling us that you agree with Spong, as does Greg, and, in fact, prepared to defend Spong’s rejection of the resurrection of Christ as it appears in the New Testament, and is prophesied in the Old.

    I can’t work with you on this any further, Bones. If that is your position, I can only treat you as an unbeliever, and this discussion, from here on, changes, because there is no sense in discussing issues with you as a believer to a believer when you have revealed yourself as an unbeliever.

    The reason I asked if you had a relationship with the Holy Spirit was because if you did you would already know the answer, would fully grasp he significance and importance of the resurrection of Christ according to the Scriptures, and would not be so adamant about your defence of Spong’s clear and undeniable heresy.

    At least Greg has the sense to watch how this conversation develops and is giving the appearance of not defending Spong, just giving his perspective. But one has to wonder why, and what the benefit really is, except to determine who defends heresy and who doesn’t.

    A sad day indeed.

  49. I agree with Spong that there are discrepencies in the Gospel accounts.

    An explanation on the discrepencies in the Gospel accounts please….

    After all it was God who guided their memories…

  50. As for Spongs ‘argument re-Luke’ it is highly contrived and just panders to his own doubts. There is no evidence in Spong’s claims, only conjecture based on other unproven premises. he begins with supposition based on his own lack of belief in the possibility of a bodily resurrection and builds on it. I don’t have to discuss it because he hasn’t shown anything apart from his own failure to grasp scripture.

    If there were three or four witnesses to an incident on the High Street, and they were all exactly the same, with no apparent discrepancies, I would, if I were examining the evidence, be suspicious, and not fully accepting that all the evidence must be accurate, because there would be no way that any witness would see an incident from the same perspective.

    There should be some key similarities in the evidence which leads to a consistency but some things which are seen in a different way, even some things included others missed or things left out others saw, which would convince me on the merits of the testimony more than three or four reports with exactly the same details form exactly the same position, in exactly the same language. Otherwise I might suspect there was collusion and possible fabrication of evidence to suit a cause.

    If the recall was given at different times by people with different personalities I would expect some parts which would not tally. If one witness was passing on information in a journalistic fashion I would expect other differences.

    The differences in the accounts tell us they are the perspective of different witnesses, not error. They actually add to the evidence. They do not take away.

    They are still inspired by the Holy Spirit, but revealed through people whose understanding is different and means of relating their testimony or report are different. There is indeed a human element to Scripture, but the inspiration is divine.

    No prophecy of Scripture is of any private interpretation, for prophecy never came by the will of man, but holy men of God spoke as they were moved by the Holy Spirit.

  51. If we are to continue with the discussion at Scriptural level, Bones, you will have to let me know whether you agree with Spong’s doctrine on the resurrection, or if you consider the ‘Orthodox” version to be true.

    I do not see the value of continuing with the Spong discussion, frankly, any more than there would be any point in discussing JW doctrine of the semi-deity of Christ. It is so off the wall it is not worth discussing.

    So, do you agree with the Apostle’s Creed version of the death, burial and resurrection?

    I believe in God, the Father almighty,
    creator of heaven and earth.
    I believe in Jesus Christ, God’s only Son, our Lord,
    who was conceived by the Holy Spirit,
    born of the Virgin Mary,
    suffered under Pontius Pilate,
    was crucified, died, and was buried;
    he descended into hell.
    On the third day he rose again;
    he ascended into heaven,
    he is seated at the right hand of the Father,

    and he will come to judge the living and the dead.
    I believe in the Holy Spirit,
    the holy catholic Church,
    the communion of saints,
    the forgiveness of sins,
    the resurrection of the body,
    and the life everlasting. Amen.

    Oh, dear, they mention hell! Let’s assume they mean Hades!

    Let’s go with the Nicene Creed, then.

    We believe in one God,
    the Father, the Almighty,
    maker of heaven and earth,
    of all that is, seen and unseen.
    We believe in one Lord, Jesus Christ,
    the only Son of God,
    eternally begotten of the Father,
    God from God, light from light,
    true God from true God,
    begotten, not made,
    of one Being with the Father;
    through him all things were made.
    For us and for our salvation
    he came down from heaven,
    was incarnate of the Holy Spirit and the Virgin Mary
    and became truly human.
    For our sake he was crucified under Pontius Pilate;
    he suffered death and was buried.
    On the third day he rose again
    in accordance with the Scriptures;
    he ascended into heaven
    and is seated at the right hand of the Father.

    He will come again in glory to judge the living and the dead,
    and his kingdom will have no end.

    We believe in the Holy Spirit, the Lord, the giver of life,
    who proceeds from the Father [and the Son],
    who with the Father and the Son is worshiped and glorified,
    who has spoken through the prophets.
    We believe in one holy catholic and apostolic Church.
    We acknowledge one baptism for the forgiveness of sins.
    We look for the resurrection of the dead,
    and the life of the world to come. Amen.

  52. The differences in the accounts tell us they are the perspective of different witnesses, not error.

    No they weren’t. They were deliberate intentional changes specifically to the Gospel of Mark.

  53. Of course docetism was a major problem in the first 2 centuries CE.

    Here is an article on how manuscripts were changed to combat docetic teaching. It shows how the gospels were manipulated to teach theology.

    Docetism claimed that Jesus did not have a real, physical body but only
    seemed to and that he ate just to keep up appearances because that is
    what humans were supposed to do, and not because he had to eat to stay
    alive.

    IOW, what the orthodox say about Jesus’s resurrected body is very
    similar to what the Docetists said about Jesus’s body prior to his
    death.

    For example, a Docetist would claim that in John 19:28, Jesus said ‘I am
    thirsty’, not because he was thirsty, but in order to fulfill prophecy,
    as indeed John 19:28 explicitly says.

    To counter such Docetic claims, the orthodox scribe of p66 (the earliest
    manuscript we have) drops the statement from John 19:28 that Jesus said
    he was thirsty ‘in order to fulfill scripture’.

    The docetic Acts of John said that Jesus was only pierced with a sword
    and blood and water came out after he died, so the orthodox scribes of
    Codex Sinaiticus, Vaticanus and Ephraemus Rescriptus put in a sword
    thrust in Matthew 27:49, *before* he died, so that Jesus really was a
    human being who suffered.

    This shows a) Christianity was very split as to what Jesus was and b)
    early Christians had no scruples about altering evidence to suit their
    views. It happened time and time again.

    I can give dozens more examples of orthodox alterations of manuscripts
    to refute Gnosticism and Docetism.

  54. So you add an article with no author acknowledged which claims passages were doctored to counter docetism in your defence of a man who is claiming docetism!

    Weird!

    And, unless we know the source and authority of such claims, they are null and void.

    I think Paul dealt with all of these things in his epistles.

  55. Okay, I’ll use the Bones method.

    “Spong is so insulated that he doesn’t know what scholars outside of his small circle actually say. He points out that a survey of NT scholarship of the last few decades indicates that three-fourths of the scholars writing on the subject accept the historicity of Jesus’ empty tomb, and almost universally accept his post-mortem appearances as historically demonstrable. Moreover, most scholars today recognize that the four gospels are written as historical writing, specifically in the genre of ancient biography — not myth, not legend, not allegory, not midrash (as Spong claims). Spong seems genuinely puzzled by this. It reminds me of something N. T. Wright wrote of Spong in Who Was Jesus?

    What is central is that Spong apparently does not know what ‘midrash’ actually is. The ‘genre’ of writing to which he makes such confident appeal is nothing at all like he says it is. There is such a thing as ‘midrash’; scholars have been studying it, discussing it, and analysing it, for years. Spong seems to be unaware of the most basic results of this study. He has grabbed the word out of the air, much as Barbara Thiering grabbed the idea of ‘pesher’ exegesis, and to much the same effect. He misunderstands the method itself, and uses this bent tool to make the gospels mean what he wants instead of what they say.”

    I agree with NT Wright. If you believe in God who can act in history, and raised Christ from the dead, you can believe that Jesus did miracles.

    Spong doesn’t believe in anything that he thinks doesn’t make scientific sense, so he obviously won’t accept any biblical miracles or the resurrection. He then goes on to make a theory to explain how the resurrection story came about. he’s basically appealing to Christians who have left the church who can say “see it’s okay for me to not believe”

    Basically he’s in a very small group of extreme liberal scholars (the god is dead crowd).
    And if all you do is read his and his friends stuff, it’s no wonder people end up not having any spiritual life.

    Christianity is reduced to having a “Christ consciousness” which is strange because Greg, Bones and SPong don’t really have any confidence that we know what Jesus actually said,
    and the goal of becoming a “fully developed human” – whatever that is.

    In Spongs world, god can’t help you – so there is no use praying for anything.

    no, I think my original reaction was right. Even his photo makes me sick.

    So, Greg and Bones, will you be going overseas to preach the gospel as Jesus talked about?
    What is your gospel? What will you tell people?
    And do you even think that Jesus said “Go ye into the world …” or is it unlikely that he said that either.

    Spong and people with his faith (or lack of faith) are pitiful. Except that I’m sure Spong has had a comfortable life financially.

  56. I just checked this post.Steve, it seems to me that you are a very fundamentally taught Christian.I am born again Christian and being so, have learned to ,where possible, study myself, avoiding Bible Colleges and the similarly biased Seminary type teachings.At the base point of fundamentalist, literalistic teaching and subsequent belief which seems to accompany such teaching, is that every word in the Bible is true, and Inspired by God and Holy Spirit.This cannot possibly be cor4rect, because, especially in New Testament writings, we can see how scribes, no doubt, at and of a later time than the original have clarified, or inserted things to back up certain myths or beliefs which had somehow sprang up and developed since Jesus’ birth.It is one thing to have a fervent faith, entirely another to blindly fervently seek to start quoting how the Holy Spirit is the answer to all unknown questions that may be raised, as you seem to be preaching to me in answer to those questions I raise.I, never indicated that I agree with Spong.I get a comment from you, as though I do.Curoiusly, you didn’t deal with the issues I was raising, that instead of Mr Spong, in his endeavour to realigne one’s thinking on aspects of John’s gospel, does not venture into other doubtful phrasing and renderings in the New Testament.Spong, doesn’t even raise the issue, in John, that the nwords of Jesus, when the disciples are sleeping, and Jesus being at least5 a stonethrow’s distance away, therefore out of earshot have all been recorded!!.Yes, yes, I know, most will counter with the Holy Spirit supplying Jesus’ words, but, having faith in what others may say, is not proof within itself.There are even Manuscripts, deemede so doubtful by the translators, that they are placed at the bottom of the page, or specifically notarized in margins, to that effect.Our very ardent Fundamentalists and, at the more extreme end, of Fervency in Evangelism choose to quote and indeed turn into a whole discourse on faith.The snakes ande poisons one is one of these manuscripts.The prostitute, where Jesus, writes in the dirt, and a few others come to mind as I write.Here is another strange faith belief, which to my knowledge,n does not work, yet it has become a great plinth of FAITH teaching.It is that of Jesus saying this mountain shallk be hewn into the sea.I think this was said after He cursed the fig tree.Most people, just read this and accept it.However, I have tried asking mqssive things in faith, and, if I wasn’t fully expectant, thenn I assure you I would not even ask such things.They have not, in this world and dimension come about.Getting back to 5the fig tree,Jesus in ANGER, cursed it,Why? it was completely innocent, Jesus chose to curse it, which, if the Holy Spirit and The Father, were always guiding what Jesus did and/or said, as He stated in John.WQhy did He curse the poor old fig tree, hereditarily ,not just fo9r the immediate or next season, w2hen He knew full well that it wasn’t the SEASON to have fruit on it.This suggests to me, that, it wan’t a literal occurrence, but is a mystic type of Jewish parabaling.As I grew up, I built an unswerving faith in God.It was imparte3d to me by largely well meaning fundamentalist Christian people.I accepted it hook, line and s8inker, trusting the sources that taught me.Now2, however,I earnestly seek the word of God, including my own commo9n s3nse and observations.I am now, a Christian believer, prepared to exami8ne these things in detail for myself.I can now, admit when asked certa9i8n questions of my faith, that, the questioner has a point, that I am unable to intellegentl6y answe4r.This doesn’t diminish my faith, but on the other hand allows credence for my considerati9on o9f other’s points of contention.Whilst not aqgree38ing with such questioners,I do not dism8iss or parody those, as it seems many non this thread tend tow2ard
    Wh6y did it take more than 200 years for the Holy Spirit to lead the determinants of Canon ,to include Jude? Paul wasn’t always open to the Holy Spirit, and if we read between the lines, we c90nclude, that what 8j bookform, originally had no verse3s or Chapters, seems that the disciples and leaders of the Church were in constant discourse with Holy Spirit and Jesus, were in fact not, and probably hea54d from hIM ON A RAREW BASIS 9INDEED.iF YOU NOTE, THEY GAMBLED, SOMEWHAT LIKE USING MODERN TAROT CARDS, DRAWINGT THE LOT, ASCRIBING hOLY sPIRIT TO THE CONSEQUENCES OR DIVINING OF THAT LUCK.sO, ASSUMING THAT, AS sT aUGUSTINE AND cO.were indeed guided by Holy Spirit, it is likely that Holy Spirit continued to spe3ak on aq less frequent basis aws time went on.Paul, in his letter to Corinthians also shows that he thought that Jesus was returning in his immediate lifetime, history shows he was wrong, as have 20 or more generations since thought the same thing, and at present too.It see3ms that it has been to allow followers to be content in their error, has been, for w2hatever reason the Holy Spirit’s way.In conclusion, I think it wise, that we, should be adamantly adamant about not being, adamantly arrogaqnt in the way we approach other thinkers and de3nom8inations approaches to sim8ilar4 beliefs..Ps my keyboard mistypes so, please edit to read this post.I risk erasure if I try to edit this.God Bless us alll.

  57. Hi Dallas. Is there some reason for not breaking your comments into multiple paragraphs? It’s very hard to follow your train of thought if you add several ideas to a continuous single section. The generally accepted way of presenting blog comments is in short, two or three sentence paragraphs to make them easier to read online.

    You start with claiming I must be a ‘very fundamental’ Christian, and imply blind faith. I think a person is either fundamental or not. You can’t be ‘very’ fundamental. The word means ‘forming a necessary base or core; of central importance’, so, in regards to a belief that the Bible is a necessary core and of central importance to faith, I do say it is fundamental.

    Whether I would claim to be fundamental, I would say that the definition doesn’t fit me, but fits the criteria of the Bible as a presentation of the interaction between God and His people, especially with the chosen nation of Israel as descendants of Abraham through whom God brought the Seed, Jesus, who is both the Son of God and the Word.

    I would claim to be evangelical, in the sense that I hold to basic protestant beliefs which are still developing towards a realisation of what the Church represented before the apostasy of the middle and dark age. I would also claim, if we are to be tribal, to be a Pentecostal, in that I am part fo the movements which returned to the Promise of the Spirit, including the manifestations and fruit of the Spirit as a demonstration of our connection to the Spirit, and infilling.

    I believe we are led and taught by the Word and Spirit of God, therefore I am not going to accept your claim of ‘blind faith’. In fact, when we have the Bible to draw inspiration from we are less likely to be ‘blind’ in our faith than if we doubt the authenticity of the Bible, as Spong clearly does, and as you are telling us you do.

    So I am less likely to be leaning on ‘blind faith’, as you call it, than you are, assuming you have faith in the Lord Jesus Christ as your Lord and Saviour. I can say this because I know exactly how and why I was saved, and can easily articulate the basic processes for salvation, as well as the result of conversion, or the result of rejecting Christ. This is because I have a written record of these issues to refer to. You do not.

    Nether so I accept your claim that ‘we’, whoever ‘we’ is, are saying that ‘every word’ was given by God, and our literal stance is, therefore, impossible to reconcile because of the handful of seeming discrepancies in scripture. In fact, as i have said before, the scripture itself says that it is God-inspired. It doesn’t, however, say that God wrote it all, or manipulated people into writing it. There are few passages which were dictated verbatim by God to Prophets or Scribes.

    I have already stated that God ‘moved on’ holy men of old and they were inspired to write what they did. They did so through the prism of their understanding. There are also, obviously passages which wee the thoughts and words of men and not the thoughts and words of God. There descriptive and historical passages. There is the wisdom of men, such as Ecclesiastes, and Lamentations.

    There is Poetry and Prose, Psalms, and Songs written to worship, praise and honour God. There are many literary styles in the Library of God. They were all inspired by God, but not all written by God, nor are all the words of God.

    The Gospels are the perspective of three witnesses and a journalist. They wrote from different perspectives on similar events. I would expect their evidence to differ. I have already written about this. We all see the same incidents from different stand points and with a different world-view.

    This doesn’t make our evidence irrelevant. It builds a picture for the observer when he looks at it from the variety of angles. It is what gives it its depth and perspective. It is all still inspired by God because it was the holy Spirit who brought the Gospels back to the memory of the writers.

    The Epistles are undoubtedly God-inspired. Paul was given revelation personally by God. He wrote from the highest of perspectives, and that is why there is such clarity and forceful argument in his writing, and such a depth of spiritual maturity.

    I think you have gravely misrepresented both what I think and what the Bible says. It would be better to take the Bible as literally as possible and applying it than to try to work it all out through humanistic glasses.

    1 Corinthians 2
    11 For what man knows the things of a man except the spirit of the man which is in him? Even so no one knows the things of God except the Spirit of God.
    12 Now we have received, not the spirit of the world, but the Spirit who is from God, that we might know the things that have been freely given to us by God.
    13 These things we also speak, not in words which man’s wisdom teaches but which the Holy Spirit teaches, comparing spiritual things with spiritual.
    14 But the natural man does not receive the things of the Spirit of God, for they are foolishness to him; nor can he know them, because they are spiritually discerned.
    15 But he who is spiritual judges all things, yet he himself is rightly judged by no one.
    16 For “who has known the mind of the LORD that he may instruct Him?” But we have the mind of Christ.

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