I would like to answer the question, “Why promote Bishop Spong?” asked by Richard Harstone (January Letters.)
One has to wonder whether Mr. Harstone has ever read anything by Bishop Spong or attended any of the lectures he has given in Canada – usually, unfortunately, under the auspices of the United Church.
A couple of facts must be noted:
Bishop Spong is a bishop in the Anglican Communion and has lectured to massive audiences in England, Australia, Canada and the United States. His home church, the ECUSA, has not seen fit to discipline him in any way because of his teachings.
Bishop Spong is a lecturer at Harvard University – a university not noted for taking “kooks” as members of faculty.
Bishop Spong is passionately in love with the Anglican church – indeed it is this passion that drives him to speak a gospel in tune with the best of Christian scholarship and to speak that gospel in language and thought forms which 21st century Christians can believe in. He has the courage to believe that Anglicans are intelligent and do not leave their brains in a basket by the door when they enter a church. It is precisely his love for his Lord and his church that drives him to make the gospel of love central to Christian teaching, and in so doing risk the disapproval of those who are comfortable with 16th century thought forms and cosmology.
Another item in the same Journal spoke of the “sea of grey” in a particular church – a sea all too obvious in most churches. Ought not that evidence alone be sufficient to prod all of us who love our church to push at the constricting walls which have brought us to that “sea of grey”, and seek ways of putting new wine in old wineskins? While I do not agree with all the bishop teaches, I admire his courage in striving to put Christ back into the church – a goal all too many Anglicans find frightening.
The answer to “Why promote Bishop Spong?” is “Because the Journal also has the courage to challenge the status quo when necessary” – see the editorial in the same issue. New ideas, change, progress – these ought to be the norm, not the exception in any living, dynamic organism.