Bishop Jack Spong

Twelve Theses

These statements, published in his book ‘Why Christianity Must Change or Die’ in 1998, caused outrage around the world. It would be interesting to have some responses to them, from both our local and our Internet readers.

A Call For A New Reformation
  1. Theism as a way of defining God, is dead. God can no longer be understood with credibility as a Being, supernatural in power, dwelling above the sky and prepared to invade human history periodically to enforce the divine will. So, most theological talk today is meaningless unless we find a new way to speak of God.
  2. Since God can no longer be conceived in theistic terms, it becomes nonsensical to seek to understand Jesus as the incarnation of the theistic deity. So the Christology of the ages is bankrupt.
  3. The biblical story of the perfect and finished creation from which human beings fell into sin is pre-Darwinian mythology and post-Darwinian nonsense.
  4. The virgin birth, understood as literal biology, makes the divinity of Christ, as traditionally understood, impossible.
  5. The miracle stories of the New Testament can no longer be interpreted in a post-Newtonian world as supernatural events performed by an incarnate deity.
  6. The view of the cross as a sacrifice for the sins of the world is a barbarian idea based on primitive concepts of God that must be dismissed.
  7. Resurrection is an action of God, who raised Jesus into the meaning of God. It therefore cannot be a physical resuscitation occurring inside human history.
  8. The story of the ascension assumed a three-tiered universe and is therefore not capable of being translated into the concepts of a post-Copernican space age.
  9. There is no external, objective, revealed standard writ in Scripture or on tablets of stone that will govern our ethical behaviour for all time.
  10. Prayer cannot be a request made to a theistic deity to act in human history in a particular way.
  11. The hope for life after death must be separated for ever from the behaviour-control mentality of reward and punishment. The church must abandon, therefore, its reliance on guilt as a motivator of behaviour.
  12. All human beings bear God’s image and must be respected for what each person is. Therefore no external description of one’s being, whether based on race, ethnicity, gender or sexual orientation, can properly be used as the basis for either rejection or discrimination.


If you would like to comment on all or any of these theses, please e-mail the website editor at response at leuty dot net. Please note that your contribution may be published in our printed magazine or on this website.

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© St Peter's Church, Nottingham
Last revised 3rd February 2001