Rescuing the Bible from Fundamentalism: A Bishop Rethinks the Meaning of Scripture

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9780060675097: Rescuing the Bible from Fundamentalism: A Bishop Rethinks the Meaning of Scripture

By popular demandstudy guides to two of Bishop John Shelby Spong's bestselling and controversial works, including questions, reflections, and summaries for group and individual use.

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About the Author:

John Shelby Spong is the Episcopal Bishop of Newark in New Jersey and the author of fifteen books, including the bestselling Rescuing the Bible from Fundamentalism. He will retire as bishop after more than twenty years and become a lecturer at Harvard University in the year 2000.

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Spong, John Shelby
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Spong, John Shelby
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Book Description Harpercollins, 1991. Book Condition: New. Brand New, Unread Copy in Perfect Condition. A+ Customer Service! Summary: Chapter One A Preamble: Sex Drove Me to the Bible Sex drove me to the Bible! This statement is literally true, but not in the sense that most would interpret it. In 1988 my book entitled Living in Sin? A Bishop Rethinks Human Sexuality was published by Harper and Row. In that book I was led to question traditional religious attitudes and traditional religious definitions on a wide variety of sexual issues, from homosexuality to premarital living arrangements. There was an immediate outcry from conservative religious circles in defense of something they called biblical morality. Proof Texting and Prejudice This appeal to the Bible to justify and to sustain an attitude that was clearly passing away had a very familiar ring to me. I grew up in America''s segregated South with its rich evangelical biblical heritage. Time after time I heard the Bible quoted to justify segregation. I was told that Ham, Noah''s son, had looked on Noah in his nakedness, and for this sin he had been cursed to servitude and slavery along with all his progeny (Gen. 9:25-27). It did not occur to those quoting this Scripture to raise questions about what kind of God was assumed in this verse, or whether or not they could worship such a God. Since they could not identify themselves with those who were the victims of this cruelty, the God to whom they ascribed this victimizing power did not appear to them to be seriously compromised. It also did not seem to matter that this corporate condemnation of millions of people to servitude because of their ancestor''s indiscretion might also contradict other parts of the sacred text. The prophet Ezekiel, for example, writes: "What do you mean by repeating this proverb concerning the land of Israel, ''The fathers have eaten sour grapes, and the children''s teeth are set on edge''? As I live, says the Lord God, this proverb shall no more be used by you in Israel. Behold, all souls are mine; the soul of the father as well as the soul of the son is mine: the soul that sins shall die" (Ezek. 18:2-4). The only concern of the one who quoted the texts in my early life was to maintain that person''s prejudice, to enable that person to avoid having to change destructive attitudes. I lived in Lynchburg, Virginia, in the late 1960s, when independent Baptist preacher Jerry Falwell was just beginning his rise to national prominence. Intense racism was certainly in the air at that time, and Jerry Falwell played to these feelings as his popularity grew. To start a "Christian school" in that period of history was a popular response to the Supreme Court order to dismantle the segregated school system endemic to the South since the Civil War. Teachers in Falwell''s school had to take an oath of conformity to biblical inerrancy, and by that same view of Scripture, Jerry Falwell could justify his emotional commitment to segregation, although, in fairness to Mr. Falwell, it needs to be said that he has moved away from these negative attitudes as the years have gone by. It was in this period of history that the segregationist governor of Georgia, Lester Maddox, became a candidate for president of the United States and was supported by many southern fundamentalists. Maddox was a Georgia restaurateur who battled for his "constitutional right" to serve only a segregated public. He gave out ax handles at his restaurant as a hint of the way he thought those who wanted to desegregate public businesses might be discouraged from doing so. With ease, many texts out of the Hebrew Scriptures could be quoted to justify the need for God''s chosen people to keep themselves separate and apart from those judged to be unchosen, heathen, or evil. That was, and is, a major theme in the books of both Ezra and Nehemiah, for example (Ezra 10:12, 15; Neh. 13:1-3). Of course those texts could be countered by other texts to produce ambivalence or relativity in biblical truth, but fundamenta. Bookseller Inventory # ABE_book_new_0060675098

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