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Bishop: ‘I Don’t Think Hell Exists — Religion Is In The Control Business’

by David Badash on September 29, 2012

in News,Religion

Post image for Bishop: ‘I Don’t Think Hell Exists — Religion Is In The Control Business’

John Shelby Spong, a retired Episcopal Bishop, says in this interview that Hell does not exist, the Church aims to control people, and God is not a Christian.

Needless to say, Spong is very controversial, and has been condemned for his views, some of which are contained in his Twelve Theses:

  1. Theism, as a way of defining God, is dead. So most theological God-talk is today meaningless. A new way to speak of God must be found.
  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 Christ’s divinity, 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 the sacrifice for the sins of the world is a barbarian idea based on primitive concepts of God and must be dismissed.
  7. Resurrection is an action of God. Jesus was raised 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 written in scripture or on tablets of stone that will govern our ethical behavior 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 forever from the behavior control mentality of reward and punishment. The Church must abandon, therefore, its reliance on guilt as a motivator of behavior.
  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.

Spong is on Twitter and Facebook

Hat tip: Upworthy

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{ 2 comments }

usorthem3 September 29, 2012 at 2:51 pm

I've thought the same thing for the last 42yrs. It is what made me shun all Christian based beliefs as they attempt to beat people down in the name of God so I made the choice to stop believing him to be real. Glad to know I'm not the only one that sees the hypocrisy of the church for what it is, egomaniacal superiority complexes that only serve to try and control people & make LOADS of tax-free money.

labman57 September 30, 2012 at 10:56 am

That's the great thing about faith-based proclamations.  No verifiable facts or empirical evidence are required.

"God works in mysterious ways" is a religious rationalization for what these folks really mean:  "I have no freaking clue how natural phenomena happen, nor how the process of scientific observation, experimentation, analysis, deduction, and discovery further our understanding of the universe".

Religion was originally developed to answer many of the questions that science could not, as well as to bring a sense of order by controlling the behavior of the populace.  As mankind's scientific knowledge grew, some religious folks felt uneasy and insecure, fearing that God was being displaced by science, and so they attempted to undermine and discredit both the science and the scientist.  This self-serving practice by religious extremists continues to this day.

Organized religion plays a valuable, useful role in the lives of many people throughout the world.  It can bring communities together in times of hardship, it can help people cope with personal tragedy, it can provide a means of emotionally and financially assisting the downtrodden.  But all too often, it is used to denigrate and/or persecute the non-believer.

If you happen to be a believer, wonderful.  If you are an atheist or agnostic, that is equally wonderful.  Both points of view should be respected, and neither should be so insecure that they feel the need to convert or condemn the other. Furthermore, there is no inherent conflict between spirituality and science — there is plenty of room for both to co-exist in the human psyche.

Most importantly though, people who belong to any of the myriad of religions that exist in this country should observe their tenets and practice their rituals in the comfort of their homes, their sanctuaries, and their private schools and not try to impose their particular religious values and morals onto the rest of society via political lobbying or by proselytizing religious dogma in public schools.

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