I learned about the recent passing of Episcopal Bishop John Spong in a daily reflection by Matthew Fox. Bishop Spong was a progressive person that based his beliefs and passion on very solid scripture exegesis (study) and open thinking. He championed the inclusion of women and LGBTQ people in the clergy and was known for his efforts to open the faith to marginalized groups and preaching a message of love and justice. The Washington Post did a very nice obituary about Bishop Spong. I think for most people, he is recognized for his book “Why Christianity Must Change or Die: A Bishop Speaks to Believers in Exile”, which is a very good book but I was most attracted to his deep and solid study of scripture.
While I did not always agree with the conclusions from his study of scripture, I found that his in-depth journey through the historical, social, literary types, and other scripture interpretation methods lined up so perfectly with our Catholic understanding of scripture study. Reading his books brought me to a much deeper understanding of scripture. One of his legacies was taking on the literalist interpretation of the bible found in many fundamental Christian denominations. The book “Rescuing The Bible From Fundamentalism: A Bishop Rethinks The Meaning Of Scripture” is a great read and a must-read for anybody spending time with scripture.
I am sad about Bishop Spong’s passing, but also feel appreciative of his life, writings, and progressive positions concerning the Christain faith and Church. His open-mindedness and willingness to study scriptures for new understandings is something we all as Christians and followers of Jesus need to have the courage to do. In our faith journey, we will do well to listen to prophetic voices like Bishop Spong for new perspectives of what it means to be Church and how the proper interpretation of scripture applies to us in our modern world.
Eternal rest grant unto him, O Lord. And let perpetual light shine upon him. May he rest in peace.
May his soul and the souls of all the faithful departed, through the mercy of God, rest in peace.
Peace, Love, and Blessings