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

3.99 of 5 stars 3.99  ·  rating details  ·  1,387 ratings  ·  53 reviews
By popular demand—study guides to two of Bishop John Shelby Spong's bestselling and controversial works, including questions, reflections, and summaries for group and individual use.
Paperback, 288 pages
Published April 10th 1992 by Harper (San Francisco) (first published 1991)
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(showing 1-30 of 2,269)
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Lee Harmon
I’m sure there are hundreds of reviews by now of this book on Amazon and elsewhere, so I won’t repeat what everyone else is saying. I just want to call it to your attention.

If you’re new to Bishop Spong’s books and his liberal Christian bent, then pick this up. Published way back in 1991, it wasn’t Spong’s first book, but it’s where you want to start. In fact, this should be your starting point to understand liberal Christianity in general.

Current Biblical scholarship will shake your faith. Ther
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Walter
Bishop John Shelby Spong - scourge and heretic to some, prophet, seer and seeker to others - is a singular phenomenon. His insights into Scripture and into the meaning of spirituality and God are most often piercing. And his observations about our world and the role of the spirituality in it are usually poignant and trenchant (mainly in the sense of being forthright but also at times in the sense of being scathing). And yet the experience for me is always uplifting and faith-inspiring/-deepening ...more
Precious
The saddest part of this book is that the people who really need to consider the subject are either unlikely to read it or are illiterate. The author has a Great point and a sound argument....And he's an Episcopalian bishop. I appreciate when someone who knows what they're talking about talks about it in an intelligent and approachable way.
Kimberly Cain
John Shelby Spong is forever the brave voice in Christianity who will speak up & speak out for an evolving faith. He shares, with great clarity, the need to read more deeply into the meaning of Scripture (or any sacred text, for that matter) or risk losing its essence altogether.

Fundamentalism, in any area, is the place furthest from life (an ever-evolving, living, breathing state). It is a beginning, an entry level. If one does not change & grow from there, the only other option is deca
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Mike Holmes
an amateur bypasses both critical (left wing and moderate) and traditional scholarship to come up with his own "satisfying" version of Christianity. Does not take evidence and run with it, but comes up with his own story.
Erika
Jun 13, 2014 Erika rated it 3 of 5 stars
Shelves: own
So, my thoughts:

First of all, as a person, Spong is a really interesting, intelligent guy. Throughout the book, I was surprised that he was a preacher, given all his free-wheeling thought about biblical interpretation, and his calling into question of the virgin birth story, the gospels regarding Jesus due to their long-time oral tradition, and the competing creation stories and various traditions of interpretation such as the Yahwist and Elohist, among other things.

Secondly, regarding the book
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Fr. Matthew
Dreadful stuff. I don't even know where to start on how this book has very little to do with good biblical scholarship and more to do with Spong's self-promoting agenda to sell books and hawk the emaciated corpse of "liberal Christianity." Glad I read this as a new Christian almost two decades ago and moved on to many more decent books on the subject.
Karin
Our local newspaper calls Spong "the bad boy of christianity." I would call him the thoughtful explorer of christianity. It is always useful to reconsider what we think of as being true, and Spong's ideas loosen and soften and raise questions that may have no answers and just how interesting is that?!
Ruth
I first read this while living in Arkansas and it is simply a must-read if you live in the Bible Belt. Takes apart the fundamentalist mindset and provides a great progressive counter.
Brian Reagan
Bishop John Shelby Spong is an Episcopal Church USA pastor and leader. His text contains numerous thought-provoking issues but unfortunately many of the "proofs" which he bases his presuppositions upon are little more than a rehashing of failed liberal theology and the worst type of alleged "scientific" proofs. Spong asserts many points consistent with traditional evolution and cites them as fact, but provides no citations to support his points.
In discussing the various issues related to human
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John
Spong is an amazing man... a later day prophet, trying with scholarship and persuasive forcefulness to pull the church into accepting modern morality (primarily human rights and justice) and divest itself of superstition and destructive orthodoxy. He has been a tremendous educator over his long career bringing forth the history, context and Jewish heritage of the Bible to the general public. This history has been known to scholars for 150-200 years and taught in all scholarly divinity schools fo ...more
Mary Pellecchia
Aug 08, 2008 Mary Pellecchia rated it 4 of 5 stars
Recommends it for: Bible readers and non-readers
I would recommend this book to anyone who has read the Bible, or who might read the Bible, or is in the progress of reading the Bible. I would most especially recommend it to people who have become disillusioned with standard Christian religion, Protestant or Catholic, but who would still like to have a spiritual side to their lives.

Spong gives an overview of the whole Bible, section by section, telling what was going on historically and philosopically at the time each section was written. His m
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Jack
Jan 06, 2013 Jack rated it 5 of 5 stars  ·  review of another edition
Recommends it for: People of faith and those that question self-righteous fundamentalism
I have to laugh, because you can tell which reviewers are fundamentalists just by looking at the star ratings. You can also tell that none of them bothered to read the book. In fact, one reviewer stated she quit reading the book "...because [she] didn't have time for it." Unfortunately, it is folks like her that need to read it the most.

In some ways, I could almost wish that I'd read this book when it was first published... or maybe 20 years earlier. Had I done so, I might never have left the Ch
...more
Tom
Not even sure where to start. I read this book to do a critical analysis for my Christianity class in college. This book requires discernment. If you know your bible, you will see the problems with this book. It you don't know your bible, you could be led down a path of confusion in a theological quagmire. I gave this book one star because zero stars might suggest that I did not rate the book. This book lacks biblical scholarship and zero regard for exegetical interpretation. This book is a good ...more
Charles
An excellent work. Spong puts into words many of the things I've been thinking in the last ten years. He shows clearly how it is simply impossible to give the Bible a literal interpretation, but that doesn't mean the book is wrong or useless, only that it can't be taken simplistically, as the biblical literalists would want to claim.
Sam
This is the book that started it all for me. I picked it up at a books-by-the-pound sale figured, why not. I guess I was already questioning my fundamentalist Christianity. This book made it all so obvious for me. I guess you could say it led me out of the darkness.
Sara
A bit confusing as to what exactly the bishop DOES believe! After I read this, I wasn't sure why the bishop was even a bishop.
Jenny
There are moments of real brilliance and insight in this, especially in Spong's analysis of the Gospels. I'd never heard his exact take on them and the reasoning for them to be written the way they are, but his commentary makes a lot of sense. However, there is a lot of repetition in this book and way too many rhetorical questions--whole paragraphs of them sometimes--all of which creates a tone that is often grating. Some of this might be a result of his intended audience, who I assume are funda ...more
Calnan
In this book, Jack Spong, (he introduced himself to me as 'Jack'), takes his reader through the origins of the Bible explaining the time frames and context under which the Gospels (stories of Jesus) of The New Testament were written. He started with Paul of Tarsus and noted that his works which make up most of the New Testament was written first, at about 50-64 years after the death of Jesus. The Gospels of Mark, Matthew, Luke and John, all written after Paul's works, were then presented and aga ...more
Erik Graff
Jun 13, 2012 Erik Graff rated it 2 of 5 stars
Recommends it for: Christians
Recommended to Erik by: no one
Shelves: religion
I picked this up on the "Cheapest" shelf at the going-out-of business Bookman's Alley in Evanston, Illinois.
This book, written by a much-published Episcopal bishop, argues against biblical inerrancism, illustrating how the bible is internally inconsistent as well as substantially incompatible with more modern beliefs and scientific understandings of the way things work. This is not hard to do, though some of his illustrations were new to me and all were worth remembering.
What's left, hermeneut
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Carolyn Lind
A few direct quotations may convey why I give this book a "5" better than any explanation of my own:

"Both the sacred Scriptures and the creeds of the Christian church can point to but they can never finally capture eternal truth." -169

"Truth is never finally found in words. Truth is always beyond words."

"Above all else, it has been my purpose to call people into a love of Scriipture for what it is--a Chronicle written by our ancestors in faith as they walked through history in the presence of th
...more
Laura
This book is great for liberal Christians - it gives biblical scholarship back up to such views and can generally be assuring if your beliefs are along these lines. But this book is certainly not designed or written to convince people with fundamentalist/ literal viewpoints to change their minds. He throws phrases around like obviously that can't be true or no biblical scholar today still believes xxx, etc. That approach is fine if you don't believe whatever he is saying but if you do, he gives ...more
Jane
I've read several books lately by Bart Ehrman. Spong's books shares the theme of rejecting a literal view of the Bible. In fact, Spong is even more adamant about the fallacy of taking the Bible literally. But while Ehrman eventually becomes agnostic, Spong retains a strong faith in Christianity. A quote from Spong, retired Episcopal bishop.."All human beings, men, women, homosexual persons, heterosexual persons, all races, nationalities, and persons of any ethnic background, all communists and c ...more
Matthew Klippenstein
My introduction to progressive Christian thought, the book moved me with its passionate defence of the inclusive core of the Christian message -- and its rigorous, informed debunking of the fear-fueled literalist approach. Perhaps on account of my atheism, I had not previously encountered an intellectually rigorous approach to Christianity, and it was a soaring joy to see how one could take the Bible seriously... without taking it literally.

The book made me a lifelong reader of Rev Spong's writ
...more
Jo Ann Hall
Concurrent readings of Spong and N.T. Wright are provocative! While I don't agree with all of Spong's theses (and some make me very uncomfortable, frankly), there is bravery and expediency in what he has to say. He is at his inspirational best when he writes about the coming Kingdom--there's a remarkable change, uplift in tone when he shifts to this away from his discussion of current fundamentalist belief. I think N.T. Wright better manages to express concern re: literal biblical interpretation ...more
Conrad
Interesting, although Bishop Spong never quite gets around to stating his position on the divinity of Jesus, the effect of not believing in a bodily resurrection, and how these things affect his Christianity, personally. Nevertheless, his exposition of inconsistencies in the New Testament resonate with doubts I have had since I first read the Bible through at age 16. I recommend this book for any thinking Christian.
Ryan
The book was pretty good. It has some good information and serves as a good overview for a lot of ideas. The big problem is that the book's information is about history, where the author is not considered an unbiased source. I'd probably put this book really down at 3.5 stars. Also, the rescue effort is not likely going to be considered plausible by most believers.
Katherine
Wonderfully thought provoking, I only wish the analyses of Biblical texts had been a bit more extended - clearly I need to get some of Spong's other work where this is the explicit goal. I also have a copy of his autobiography that I look forward to starting once the stack has been reduced a bit.
Tiffany
An interesting view on the depth available from Scripture if you read it non-literally with an understanding that most of the text is not historically accurate. Biship Spong reads Scripture as the Word of God, God speaking to him, but not as "God's words." I really enjoyed it.
Faison
so far this book is interesting, i like a lot of things he has to say... but he's quite dense in areas and without a lot of background knowledge of the bible can be hard to follow in places. I"ve put it down for now until i finish reading Ehrman's book.
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Rescuing the Bible from Fundamentalism 5 22 Nov 30, 2012 08:35AM  
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John Shelby Spong was the Episcopal bishop of Newark before his retirement in 2000. As a leading spokesperson for an open, scholarly, and progressive Christianity, Bishop Spong has taught at Harvard and at the Graduate Theological Union in Berkeley, California. He has also lectured at universities, conference centers, and churches in North America, Europe, Asia, and the South Pacific. His books in ...more
More about John Shelby Spong...
Why Christianity Must Change or Die: A Bishop Speaks to Believers In Exile The Sins of Scripture: Exposing the Bible's Texts of Hate to Reveal the God of Love Jesus for the Non-Religious A New Christianity for a New World: Why Traditional Faith is Dying & How a New Faith is Being Born Eternal Life: A New Vision: Beyond Religion, Beyond Theism, Beyond Heaven and Hell

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