It’s Time to Blow Off Jack Spong, Too

He’s blowing off many of us, as he does here:

‘I have made a decision. I will no longer debate the issue of homosexuality in the church with anyone. I will no longer engage the biblical ignorance that emanates from so many right-wing Christians about how the Bible condemns homosexuality, as if that point of view still has any credibility. I will no longer discuss with them or listen to them tell me how homosexuality is “an abomination to God,” about how homosexuality is a “chosen lifestyle,” or about how through prayer and “spiritual counselling” homosexual persons can be “cured.”

And he goes on…and on…and on.

One of my oldest articles for this site was When Church Becomes Pointless, which features Jack Spong.  Nothing in the twelve intervening years has changed my mind about the subject.

Personally, I think that Jack Spong is one of those Southerners who was so “traumatised” by his conservative upbringing that he has spent the rest of his life inflicting the pain of this on everyone else.  (Another is anti-fundamentalist James Alexander, who cut me off when he could not properly answer my questions.)  But I find myself no longer able to sympathise with such people.  I find them tiresome.

Spong thinks that he has won the debate.  But his triumphalism is misplaced.  Forces far beyond his willingness to understand are working to pull the plug on the nice little world he thinks is winning.

2 Replies to “It’s Time to Blow Off Jack Spong, Too”

  1. I agree with your sentiments, but am curious to know why think why you think his breed is a dying one. I’m genuinely concerned that traditional religion as we know it in the Western world won’t exist a hundred years from now outside the Roman Catholic Church (and I say that as a committed Episcopalian, btw). Your thoughts?


  2. There are two levels we need to look at this.

    On an ecclesiastical level, the core of the problem is that there are too many Jack Spongs in TEC and other “traditional” churches like TEC. And they have too many admirers as well. We saw this forty years ago with James Pike, and TEC’s hierarchy lost its nerve to do anything about it:

    You can’t have traditional religion without basic adherence to the core doctrines of the faith. As you merge your idea with that of the culture around you, people will find it easier to just float in the culture rather than take the time and effort to “do it” in a church.

    And that leads to the second level. Spong, I think, has the idea that the liberal West will triumph over many of his “traditionalist” enemies, in and out of the church. But a civilisation (?) with the demographic and financial woes ours has is waiting for its own Valhalla to ignite. To take one issue: most of the world doesn’t have the affinity for the LGBT community that Spong exhibits (and did so at length for the Times piece) and his expectations that the rest of the world will follow his idea to victory are sorely misplaced.

    When Spong squared off with the Africans at 1998 Lambeth, he was facing the future. But I think he instinctively discounted that future because it wasn’t white. But nonwhite is the future.

    The survival of traditional or any other kind of authentic Christianity will be principally resident in non-Western people.


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