John Shelby Spong

Bishop Spong, whose books have sold more than a million copies, was the Bishop of the Episcopal Diocese of Newark for 24 years before his retirement in 2001. His admirers acclaim his legacy as a teaching bishop who makes contemporary theology accessible to the ordinary lay person—he’s considered a champion of an inclusive faith by many, both inside and outside the Christian church. (Further information about Bishop Spong will be found in the notes following the videos.)

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Videos (with notes a-m  following)

University of Oregon  May 24 2005  52:19    (a)
“Who is the Popular God in Public Life in the 21st Century?”

Burke Lecture UCSD  Jan, 2008  1:23:25   (b)
“The Terrible Texts of the Bible”

Allan Gregg In Conversation  Dec 2, 2010   27:13
On his book: “Jesus for the Non Religious”

The Great Resurrection Debate (1 of 2)  April 19, 2011  1:01:33  (c)
William Lane Craig and Bishop Spong

The Great Resurrection Debate (2 of 2)  April 19, 2011   42:33

Elmhurst College   Sept 14, 2011 1:23:20
Homosexuality: The Battleground for a Dying form of Christianity

Jesse Herriott   Apr 27, 2012    59:20  (d)

Chautauqua Institution  July 9 2012   1:13:08  (e)
The Judeo-Christian Faith Story: How Much is History?

Chautauqua Institution  July 9 2012   1:16:29  (f)
The New Testament: An Evolving Story

Chautauqua Institution  July 9 2012   1:17:49  (g)
The Prophets: Not Predictors of the Future but Change Agents

Chautauqua Institution  July 9 2012   1:16:29   (h)
Re-Casting the Christ Story

Chautauqua Institution  July 9 2012   1:03:52  (i)
Roger Rosenblatt and Bishop John Shelby Spong on grief

Chautauqua Institution  July 16 2012   1:17:31  (j)
The Story of Judas Iscariot

Dan Morrill   Jan 25, 2013  45:11

Countryside Community Church Omaha   April 14, 2013    32:40
“From a Tribal God to a Universal Presence: The Story Of The Bible”

Community Christian Church  August 3, 2013  36:34  (k)
“Why Christianity as We Know It is Dying”

Community Christian Church  August 3, 2013  58:42
“What a New Christianity for a New World will Contain”

Stateofbelief radio  Aug17, 2013   21:39   (l)
Conversation (Part 1)

Stateofbelief radio  Aug 17, 2013   23:21
Conversation (Part 2)

Rotary Club of Seattle   Aug 21, 2013
“Why Christianity Must Change or Die”

DallasCoHTV   Mar 9, 2014  27:56
He Did Not Die For Your Sins  Sermon

Chautauqua Institution  June 23 2014   1:04:21
Separating the Fourth Gospel

Chautauqua Institution  June 24 2014   1:13:23
Fourth Gospel Warns Against Literal Reading

Chautauqua Institution  June 25 2014   1:17:56
Johannian Characters: Literary Creatures

Chautauqua Institution  June 26 2014   1:13:37
The Mother of Jesus: A Symbol of Judaism

Chautauqua Institution  June 27, 2014   1:20:52
The Cross in John: Not Tragedy But Triumph  July 3, 2014    48:39  (m)
Coming to Self Awareness

(a)  Bishop John Shelby Spong presented two public lectures as the 2005 – 2006 Kritikos Professor in the Humanities. On May 24th he spoke on “Who is the Popular God in Public Life in the 21st Century?” in Columbia Hall at the University of Oregon campus.

(b)  A pre-eminent voice for liberal Christianity, John Shelby Spong was the Bishop of the Episcopal Diocese of Newark for 24 years before his retirement in 2000. His admirers acclaim his making contemporary theology accessible to the ordinary lay person—he’s considered a champion of an inclusive faith by many both inside and outside the Christian church. His challenges to the church have also made him a target of hostility, fear, and death threats. Calling himself “a joyful, passionate, convinced believer in the reality of God,” he seeks not to create a new religion, but to reform the church he loves.

(c)  Nothing is more central to the Christian doctrine than the reality of Christ’s resurrection. In this debate, William Lane Craig and Jesus Seminar fellow John Shelby Spong discuss and debate whether the resurrection was a real, physical event. Presented by Church Communication Network (CCN).”

(d)  Jesse Herriott is joined this week by special guest Bishop John Shelby Spong, retired Episcipal bishop, best-selling author and the preeminent voice for liberal Christianity. Bishop Spong’s latest book is Re-Claiming the Bible for a Non-Religious World. Bishop Spong is considered the champion of an inclusive faith by many, both inside and outside the Christian church.

(e)  “I am one priest and bishop in the church who is no longer willing to read [the Bible] through stained glass lenses,” Bishop John Shelby Spong said. That might as well be the man’s mantra, and this lecture exemplifies why. Spong’s idea of “reclaiming the Bible” refers to putting its words into context and highlighting its inconsistencies. In this lecture, he does so by tracing some biblical “facts” and addressing their validity.

(f)  “The Bible was written to interpret the power of Jesus, not to describe the events of his life,” according to Bishop John Shelby Spong. In this lecture, an examination of the New Testament, Spong calls into question the virgin birth of Jesus Christ, which is only present in two of the four Gospels. Spong breaks down the details of biblical events and argues for a symbolic, figurative approach to Scripture, not a fundamentalist one.

(g)  Bishop John Shelby Spong has made it his life’s work to clear up biblical misconceptions. In this lecture, he elaborates on the stories of biblical prophets Hosea, Amos, Jonah and Malachi and explains how these men did not see grand visions from the future. Instead, their record of unique and intimate relationships with God led to a transformation in the way believers read the Hebrew Scriptures

(h)  Bishop John Shelby Spong’s message might alienate certain types of believers–namely, biblical literalists. But he stands strong in his analysis of the Bible as a symbolic work and calls Christ’s followers today to recognize their savior as a “boundary-breaker,” not a “blood offering.” This lecture ended Spong’s weeklong stint as 2 p.m. interfaith lecturer, a gig he titled “Re-Claiming the Bible in a Non-Religious World.”

(i)  Can we re-learn to experience life after those we love are gone? Is it possible to ever fully overcome grief? In Roger Rosenblatt’s latest book, “Kayak Morning: Reflections on Love, Grief, and Small Boats,” the author details his solitary quests on the water after the death of his daughter. John Shelby Spong lost his wife after battles with mental illness and cancer.

(j)  In one of his boldest lectures yet, Bishop John Shelby Spong asserts that Judas Iscariot, the man who biblically betrayed Jesus Christ, never actually walked the earth. He’s merely a literary creation, who, according to Spong, was added to the Bible as a device. For his proof, Spong turns to Jewish history, touching on the Roman Empire and previous biblical stories with striking similarities to Judas’. This lecture was Spong’s fourth of five in a week titled “Re-claiming the Bible in a Non-Religious World.”

1. The problems that are faced by Christian people who know they live in the 21st century.

a. Xn tradition begins with a wrongful notion of what it means to be humanTo be human means to be guilty. Without God’s mercy we will receive God’s wrath and will receive God’s punishment. If our natural biology has become the source of our guilt, then guilt is universal.
b. Blood of Jesus. Cleanse Xns internally. Evang externally. Guilt is the reality of our humanity.
c. Guilt producing mantra. ‘Jesus died for my sins,’
Prescription: We have absolutely no control over our sin. We are meant to be guilty. If evil is intrinsic to our humanity, then you and I are helpless victims of sin. No ability to save ourselves.
Against that backdrop we have told the Christ story. Titles we give to Jesus define our understanding of humanity. Savior, Redeemer, Rescuer.
What’s so wrong with this version of our story? Everything.
God: monster. A God who requires the death of the divine sone before he can be moved to forgive?
Jesus: Has to die to satisfy this tyrannical gods’ desire for justice.
Human life: enhance our sense of worthlessness and eccles control over human life.
It aint so. Why does Darwin frighten them so.

2. How we can transform our faith story so that we might live within our context and speak with power and integrity.

(l)  “They taught me that segregation was the will of God, and quoted the bible to prove it. They taught me that women were inferior to men by nature, and quoted the bible to prove it. They taught me it was okay to hate other religions, and especially the Jews, and quoted the bible to prove it. And they taught me that homosexuals were either mentally sick or morally depraved, and of course, quoted the bible to prove it. And so my life has sort of been an emergence out of the prejudices that my church planted in me.” – Rt. Rev. Bishop John Shelby Spong
Bishop Spong is one of our nation’s leading — and most controversial — theologians, who for decades has been a powerful voice calling for inclusivity, reform and renewal in the Church. He is also a long time friend of State of Belief.

In Part I of a wide-ranging and candid conversation, Rev. Welton Gaddy and Bishop Spong talk about his life growing up in the segregated, homophobic south and the path that led him toward an ever-increasing understanding of the need for acceptance and inclusion.
Bishop Spong is the author of the new book The Fourth Gospel: Tales of a Jewish Mystic.

(m)  Join Ian Lawton, founder of, for transformative conversations with renowned spiritual leaders from many traditions as we explore awareness. Beyond all the things that divide us, both from ourselves and each other, awareness brings up back to our essential oneness. Through this conference, you will come to a deeper understanding of your own wholeness and your connection to all else. Together, we can increase the peace, both within and in the world. In this session, Ian interviews Bishop John Shelby Spong on “Coming to Self Awareness.” They cover topics from God, prayer, Jesus’ message, the church, and consciousness.


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