Thursday, May 05, 2005

Your Inspiring Comments

You people are amazing! I am terribly impressed by all of the wise comments made to Reading John Shelby Spong and to some extent to its follow-up, Excerpt. Many of you are much younger than I but have clearly already thought of these issues although this is new ground to this old geezer. And although this is a controversial subject, I appreciate the avoidance of antagonistic and inflammatory comments. It's great to hear everybody chirping in (or up) with cheerful voice and light spirit. Sometimes, one wonders about the wisdom of blogging certain topics, but I'm glad that I posted this.

I did a little Internet searching the other night, and it wasn't difficult to find the orthodox sites, which excoriate Spong for the obvious — all of the shibboleths of the faith that he doesn't believe: at least in the factual and historical sense. It's true; he doesn't match the required catechismic checklist very well. Indeed, this venerable and scholarly bishop would fail the entrance exam to scores of evangelical colleges. Sad that!

Sad that Christendom must persist in squabbling over the minutiae of belief list items rather than rejoice in the common faith that elevates and that bonds (or should bond) spirits together. With such a Big God, why are so many Christians so puny and narrow-minded?

I cannot tell whether Spong has arrived at the ultimate truth in unravelling the gospels. I can tell you that what he says makes a lot of sense to me. I will try to understand that Jews writing to Jews about profound truths could only attempt to do so by relating and linking Jesus with all sorts of Jewish scripture and scriptural characters. I will try to understand that they were much more interested in communicating ideas than in describing history.

I am trying to track down some works by other authors: Harpur and Borg. I'd like to see what ingredients they have to add to the mix. Maybe I'll figure out what I truly believe some day. Once I was so sure. I knew the bible, knew God, knew His will, knew His plan. But I didn't. And then I knew nothing for sure. Maybe now, I can approach the threshold of knowing something, a few crumbs, once again.

But mainly, I just want to thank everyone for those wonderfully positive and impressive comments. You're great!

Since You Asked About
Who Wrote What When ...

The gospels were not written until at least thirty years, and perhaps longer, after Jesus' life. That's the first gospel, Mark. The last gospel, John, was probably not written until very close to the end of the first century. Paul wrote his epistles before the gospels existed. I Corinthians 15 seems to be the very first written record that exists about the resurrection. It's rather hard not to interpret this passage in the traditional way because we know how the rest of the story is told, and we infer things.

Do note, however, that he seems to equate all other appearances of Christ as being like his own (and also note how many appearances are not part of the body of knowledge yet). Even if his own sighting happened exactly as Luke records it in Acts, Paul does not claim to have seen Jesus in bodily form. In fact, the others with him on the road to Damascus that day saw no one at all, thus suggesting that Paul's encounter was more of a vision than anything. Do you think that the very early church might not have been besotted with the notion of a physical resurrection that later developed, but that they believed in a genuine, spirit resurrection nonetheless?

Well, I find it all very interesting fascinating.



Dale said...

"Do you think that the very early church might not have been besotted with the notion of a physical resurrection that later developed, but that they believed in a genuine, spirit resurrection nonetheless?"

Yes, AC. That's what I'm coming to believe. And that is the central theme of Harpur's book.

Anonymous said...

Most of the letters in the new testament are not written to non-believers, but to believers in the churches created after christ's death (like the 3000 in Jerusalem patterned in Acts 2:41-42)

The letters are meant to correct actions in churches. I chose my church based on their ability to meet the scriptures. Everything that they do, I ask why. Show me in the Bible why you do what you do.

Many churches were unable to do that. I have found only one church that has a worldwide reach that does this.

It is one thing to be enlightened by a man's thoughts, but it is better to be enlightened by the Holy Spirit in your private, personal study than to rely on man.

kathy said...

Wow! my bible knowledge is so very small. i didn't know that the gospels was written 30 years or more after the life of Jesus. i thought they were all together at the same time! i could talk about the bible all day...i love learning new things i never knew before. even though im not fond of organized religion, i still think Jesus is awesome!

kathy said...
This comment has been removed by a blog administrator.
kathy said...

Hi anvilcloud
I read your latest post and even though it wasn't for me...i still learned from it.
my favorite part was this, because i too feel like this way..when you wrote, "Eventually, I came to realize that God cannot be confined to my little box of narrowly-formed dogma. My evangelical theology was far too small and limiting. My trite beliefs needed to be reexamined and redefined. If God is God, then he can withstand my honest doubts, my vacillations, my search, my own wandering in the wilderness."(end of quote)--- wasn't it Thomas, one of Jesus disciples who also doubted? or am i wayyyyy out there?