John Shelby Spong

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John Shelby "Jack" Spong (born June 16, 1931) is a retired Episcopal Church bishop, having served the Newark, New Jersey diocese for 21 years, from 1979 to 2000. Despite spending a career in clergy, Spong is a long time atheist and critic of Christianity, even to the point of writing numerous books critical of traditional Christian belief while serving as a bishop. He holds liberal views in regard to the homosexual agenda, feminism, and Christian church history. [1]

Spong advocates a non-theistic view of God[2], declaring theism to be "dead" and choosing to define God as a mere metaphor for humanity and existence rather than the literal creator of the universe. He calls for a "new reformation" that will eliminate theism from Christianity (essentially reframing it as a form of humanism). He has embraced a tradition of secular Biblical scholarship that is largely based on anti-Christian speculation and to date has failed to present anything of worth or provability. Among Spong's favorite theories is that of Judas Iscariot being an anti-semitic invention[3], a theory rejected even by most secular scholars. Spong has made numerous assertions regarding perceived textual and logical issues in the New Testament in an attempt to debunk traditional Christian concepts (such as the bodily Resurrection of Jesus), with some of his textual criticisms attacking Christianity based on "key" Greek words that weren't even in the cited Biblical passage to begin with. [4]

Spong has attacked early Christianity and the actions of previous Christians, declaring the church sexist and attempting to argue that Biblical literalism in terms of the Hebrew scriptures is a Christian invention[5] (the implication being that ancient Israelites before Christ were also atheistic). He still wears his collar in spite of no longer being affiliated with the Episcopal Church.


Spong's assertions have garnered criticism from Gerald O'Collins, a Jesuit Priest and Professor of Fundamental Theology at Rome's Gregorian University, as well as former Anglican Archbishop Rowan Williams. O'Collins referred to Spong's work as "simply not belonging in the world of international scholarship" and criticized Spong's apparent lack of understanding in his own arguments regarding the Greek language[6], while Williams discussed why Spong's points are "invalid" in his opinion and fail to present a compelling alternative for traditional, theistic Christian belief. [7]