My rating: 3 of 5 stars
This book made me wonder if I’m not as theologically progressive as I thought I was. It’s a challenging read–partially because of the author’s writing style and partially because of his views–and one that requires patience and open-mindedness. Spong spends the first half of the book essentially deconstructing Christianity before making much of effort to reconstruct it. I can easily see why he’s such a controversial figure. There were many times when even I became miffed at his arguments. Ultimately, I either agreed with his reconstructions or found them interesting, but his path to reaching those conclusions did not fully convince me, especially since he seems to go for the most conservative or traditional understandings of church practices to tear down in light of his conclusions. For example, when criticizing baptism, he makes a sweeping statement that baptism is salvation itself without at all mentioning that this is only the view in some denominations. Personally, I’ve never been part of a tradition that taught baptism as salvation.
More generally, I’m not convinced an external, theistic God cannot exist whatsoever. I don’t see why his framework cannot still have room for an external God, if God is truly beyond all things that human beings adequately define our limited logic and language. Maybe I don’t understand because I’m not a seminary student (which at times I felt I had to be in order to understand what the author was talking about).
This said, I think this book provides a vastly different perspective and some valid critiques of traditional Christianity that you’ll accept, reject, and/or mull over for a few hours.