Bishop John Shelby Spong’s final book is now out
It is called Unbelievable - Why neither ancient creeds nor the reformation can produce a living faith today
Jack Spong has been a regular visitor to the UK and many of us have been to hear him speak. He is a leading Bible scholar and episcopal bishop from New Jersey. His new book was published in the UK on 13th February. The RRP for the hardback is £18.99 but you should be able to get it slightly cheaper.
John Shelby Spong is best known for his book “Why Christianity Must Change of Die”. This book starts with the same idea - that the slow withering of the traditional church makes it imperative for Christians to develop a radically new kind of Christianity—a faith deeply connected to the human experience instead of outdated dogma. In ‘Unbelievable’ he goes on to urges modern Christians to update their faith in light advances in our knowledge and to challenge the rigid and problematic church teachings that emerged with the Reformation. Spong outlines twelve “theses” to help today’s believers more deeply contemplate and reshape their faith.
The first chapter of the book is titled: Why modern men and women can no longer be believers. Our colleagues in the US have provided this link to preview the chapter.
Writing about this book, Jack Spong says:
I wanted this final book to be more than a mediocre work. It had to be clear and understandable. I tried to develop a crucial distinction between the Christ experience and the Christ explanation. The experience is real and timeless; the explanation is in the language of its day and is thereby time-warped and time-bound. The explanation must be surrendered, but the experience does not have to go with it. The Incarnation, the virgin birth, resuscitation as the meaning of resurrection and the concept of the Holy Trinity – all are explanations that will never last. People hear the experience of Christ being challenged when it is only the explanation that is at stake. I wanted to make sure that people could understand that explanations have to die, but the experience remains eternal.
Peter Francis, the warden of the Gladstone Library writes
If you choose just one book of John Shelby Spong’s then choose Unbelievable. This final book is not only a summation of his life’s teaching, but a contemporary catechism that addresses the real questions and profound hesitations that contemporary women and men really do have about Christianity. Put another way, it provides in one volume the basis for a new reformation for all those who have left the church in despair or who will never darken its doors because of the intellectual non-sense and constricted life that are perceived to be required by its followers. Here is something different that asks us not to check our brains at the door, but to think deeply, “to live fully, to love wastefully and to be all that we can be.”