I stopped being a Christian minister forty years ago, and don’t now attend any church, but I’d gladly have listened to the late Bishop John Shelby Spong. And if I were to have my time over again, this is along the lines of what I’d want to say, not that it might be welcomed. Bishop Spong was loved by the few, but hated and reviled by many. I’ve here juxtaposed a quote from Albert Einstein with the conclusion of a talk by Shelby Spong. At the end, I’ve added a link to the talk it comes from. Not many may listen to it – it’s 50 minutes long, which is 49 too many for lots of folk in these ‘tweety’ days of ours. But if you still have any interest at all in religion, it’s well worth listening to, and thinking about ….
Bishop John Shelby Spong.
“It’s a life-centred, human-centred God who calls us out of our tribal prejudices, and the worship of our tribal deities. And this God calls us not to be religious. God knows, we’ve got quite enough religion in this world, and most of it is quite destructive. God’s call is to be fully human – to live, love, and be – and then try to build a world where everybody, whether white or black, male or female, gay or straight, bi-sexual or transgender, has a better opportunity to be all that each of us, in the infinite variety and fullness of our humanity, can be.
Unless this God of the future is finally perceived, I don’t think there is any future for the enterprise that we call religion. And if religion has no future, then I think it’s fair to say that neither does humanity. For humanity is marked most uniquely by its yearning, and its driving out beyond its limits, into a full humanity that finally opens into the divinity that marks this universe.
I want to see a religious revival that centres in our humanity, that is dedicated to building a more human and humane world, and I think every religion of the world can participate in that kind of humanity. We can each walk the path of our own cultural religious tradition, but never be limited by that, for the pathway to God always goes beyond the religious systems of men and women the world over.
God is not a Christian, or a Jew, or a Muslim, or a Hindu, or a Buddhist. God is that ultimate dimension of life to which each of those systems must point, and we must walk through our faith systems, never making an idol out of them We walk through them, to escape their limits, and to enter into the mystery and the wonder of what God is. That’s where the future of religion lies.