The Death of John Shelby Spong
Christ Has Prevailed Once Again
I learned about John Shelby Spong in my modern church history class in college. So it was interesting to hear that he had passed away this last week at 90 years of age.
With his death we also lay to rest an era. Mark Tooley has appropriately said that Spong's death brings about the death of Protestant Modernism.
Spong was a liberal theologian (or a modernist, as they have traditionally been called). As a child of the enlightenment he rejected Biblical revelation and embraced rationalism. Thus, he believed that Christianity needed to "keep up with modern times." Anything that smacked of being unscientific needed to be tossed out.
For instance, the virgin birth, the bodily resurrection of Christ, his second coming, as well as any belief in an afterlife and miracles had no place in Spong's worldview. To Spong it wasn't rational to believe such things. Those were the beliefs of the archaic Christians (or "fundamentalists," as normal, Bible believing people would be called).
The Modernists, of course, were the forerunners of the Post-Modernists. Modernists liked claims to absolute truth, but they chucked the Bible, which is the basis for it. So their big claims of right and wrong / truth and error were soon supplanted by their Post Modern sons who do not believe in any absolutes.
The Postmodernists took Modernism to its logical conclusion. Who's to say what is right and wrong? If there is no absolute, then what's true for me may not be true for you. It just depends on your personal narrative.
Today you will be hard pressed to find a tried and true Modernist Christian. Like Spong, they are pretty much an extinct species. Modernism really does seem to go to the grave with Spong.
What did not die out was orthodox Christianity. Jesus Christ truly did rise from the dead and he currently lives at God's right hand. He now sends the Spirit, who actively works faith in his people and teaches them all things that God has revealed.
As a matter of fact, the true faith has only grown and multiplied many times over, much to Spong's chagrin. Interestingly, over Spong's 90 years of life traditional Christian belief has grown from 600 million to over 2 billion!
Christ has indeed prevailed and and Spong's hope of ridding the world of such views has failed miserably.
It is just as Proverbs 11:7 says, "When a wicked man dies, his expectation will perish; the hope of strong men perishes." Spong lived a vigorous 90 years. He wrote many books and promoted a liberal agenda with radical passion up to his dying breath. Yet there's very little to show for it. His modernistic hope is dead.
Just as the church he pastored plummeted in attendance during his time, so too does his hope of defeating Christ and Biblical Christianity. It falls and dies with him and is about as useful as the book that Spong wrote on the afterlife in 2010.
By contrast, Christ still reigns. His truth marches on unhindered.
The true gospel not only continues to live and thrive, but it brings people a real and living hope. We have a sure anchor of the soul; a hope that absolute truth delivered to us from God provides.
Protections for Religious Liberty
This Sunday at 6pm John Sparks will begin a series which will examine the legal provisions which protect believers in the US as they live out their Christian faith. Sparks, who taught Constitutional History at Grove City College, will survey key U.S. Constitutional cases, and explain their significance to believers today.
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A Reformed and family integrated Church in Ashland, Ohio.
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