John Shelby Spong, liberal Episcopal bishop, dies at age 90
Message on behalf of PCN Britain Trustees
We have received the sad news that Bishop Jack Spong has died peacefully at home. On behalf of PCN members, the trustees express their great sadness at Jack’s passing and send our love and condolences to Christine Spong and all the family. Bishop Spong has been an inspiration to millions of people across the world and we at PCN have been so fortunate to welcome him at our conferences and gatherings across the UK.
Fuller tributes and reminiscences will be shared in future editions of Progressive Voices and on this website and we invite members to send their particular memories and the influence of Jack’s writings and lectures on their own spiritual journeys.
Reflection on the news of the death of Bishop John Shelby Spong in the Washington Post:
The bishop who said “a virgin birth is no big deal” when interviewed by Religion Dispatches in 2016, was known for such statements far removed from the mainstream of Christianity, and sometimes even the teachings of his own church.
“I do not believe that God is a Being sitting above the clouds pulling strings. … I do not believe that human beings are born evil and that only those who come to God through the ‘blood of Jesus’ will be saved,” he wrote in the diocesan newspaper in 2000.
Such sentiments are at variance with the Episcopal Church’s own catechism, which says of Jesus, “By his resurrection, Jesus overcame death and opened for us the way of eternal life.”
His 2002 book, “A New Christianity for a New World: Why Traditional Faith Is Dying and How a New Faith Is Being Born,” outlined a 12-point platform that said, among other points, that seeing Jesus as God was “nonsense”; that a Virgin Birth was an “impossibility”; and that Jesus was raised “into the consciousness of God” and not physically, as the Bible states.
In 2013, Bishop Spong told Religion News Service he did not consider any of the Gospel accounts of Jesus’ life reliable.