"The Preachers chiefly shall take heed that they teach nothing in their preaching, which they would have the people religiously to observe and believe, but that which is agreeable to the Doctrine of the Old Testament and the New, and that which the Catholick Fathers and Ancient Bishops have gathered out of that Doctrine." A proposed canon of Elizabeth I, 1571

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Location: Bedford, Texas, United States

I am a presbyter in the diocese of Fort Worth, Texas (Anglican Church in North America). I serve as Chaplain at St. Vincent's School and as a canon of St. Vincent's Cathedral Church in Bedford, Texas. In addition to my parish duties and teaching Religion classes in the school I am also the Middle School Social Studies teacher.

Wednesday, October 12, 2005

Spong the subject of a new play

For those with a theatrical bent who might be in Los Angeles next week, you may want to take in a new play--about the heresiarch retired ECUSA bishop of Newark, John Shelby Spong! The Rt. Rev. Spong's life story is being immortalized thanks to the good folks at Harper SanFrancisco. Here is an excerpt from a story in the LA Times:

At 74, Spong, the retired bishop of Newark, N.J., continues to rile many Christians with his denial of the virgin birth, the bodily resurrection of Jesus and a God who works miracles and exacts punishment. His critics call him a heretic.Others, however, say that Spong's defense of ethnic minorities, women and gays as well as his skeptical take on Scripture as the literal word of God bring relevance, rationality and hope.

Now Spong's lifelong quest to wrest himself from what he has called his fundamentalist evangelical North Carolina upbringing to understanding God in a radically different way is the subject of a sympathetic new drama, "A Pebble In My Shoe."The bishop plans to be at Sunday's 5:15 p.m. premiere at the Los Angeles Theater Center, 514 S. Spring St. After the 90-minute performance, Spong will be honored at a reception. He also will sign his latest book, "The Sins of Scripture." Other performances are scheduled for Oct. 15,16, 22 and 23.

Written and directed by [Colin] Cox, the play is based on Spong's 1999 autobiography, "Here I Stand: My Struggle for a Christianity of Integrity, Love and Equality." It features actor Stephan Wolfert as the bishop. Cox said Spong's publisher, HarperSanFrancisco, approached him two years ago about writing a play about the bishop's life. Cox, director of the Los Angeles-based Will & Co. theater ensemble, described himself in an interview as "not a religious fellow."

"Any God who can be killed ought to be killed. That's the message of the play and, I think, that is the message of Jack Spong," Cox said. A biochemist by training, Cox said he was smitten by Spong's take on Christianity and his dismissal of so many traditional views of God. "Once I read Jack's books, I kind of realized, here's a man with a different point of view that seems valid to me," Cox said. "If you're going to be a Christian, what this man is saying makes sense."

Incidentally, Spong credits his exposure to Tillich during his time at VTS for moving him away from the Christianity of his youth. I can only hope that my friends who have attended VTS in the years since were not similarily moved. Hat tip to CANN.


Blogger Richard said...

I read "Here I stand" and rather enjoyed it. Spong certainly had something going for him when engaged in parochial ministry - his churches were full and people would come to learn before services.

The problem is, though, that, as the years went on, what he didn't have going for him was Christianity.

I simply don't understand why he bothers to call himself a Christian anymore.

1:06 PM  
Blogger Mike the Geek said...

"A Pebble in my Shoe?" I fear that the permanently-running sequel is likely to be "A Fire on my Skin." Other people who are fleeing from a fundamentalist background at least have the courage of their convictions and just reject it, instead of constantly seeking affirmation by trying to pull others after you.

Interestingly, the first thing Eve did, after she ate the fruit of the tree, was to get Adam to eat it too.

9:42 PM  
Blogger Julian said...


11:27 PM  
Blogger olympiada said...

So you do not like Spong eh? Well I do, and I posted this article to my blog, thanks. By the way, I came to you by way of Andy. Do you guys get off on beating up Spong?

3:50 PM  
Blogger texanglican said...

It is certainly fair to say that Bishop Spong is not one of my favorite public figures. It is clear to me that he has devoted much of career toward subverting classical Christianity. And I, as you probably can tell from this blog, believe that "the faith once delivered to the saints" is the only certain way to salvation. Souls may be lost due to Spong's influence. Hence, I am no fan.

7:00 PM  
Blogger Julian said...


does it look like anyone is "getting off?" Or even "beating up Spong?" IMHO, your comment was the harshest posted so far.

1:35 PM  
Blogger John J. O'Sullivan™ said...

Considering Spong has decimated the Diocese of Newark, to the point where we'll be closing 30 parishes by next year...I think some "verbal lashings" are entirely appropriate. And, really, when we consider that he'll be held to a higher degree of scrutiny at The End...I think it makes it utterly crucial that we pray for the conversion of his soul.

But, even still, I do believe it is totally meet and right to deny the heresiarch delicious fruit. NO FRUIT FOR SPONG!


1:22 PM  
Blogger olympiada said...

Yes I have been harsh. I apologize. I learned it from the book of Ezekiel. Spong is irrelevant to me. I am wasting my time discussing him!

10:51 PM  

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