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The Terrible Texts of the Bible

WHEN: Thursday, November 18, 2004 at 8:00PM.
2722 York Hall at UCSD.

Watch the lecture on UC TV.

The speaker is Bishop Spong, Retired Bishop of the Episcopal Diocese of Newark, New Jersey.

How often has the Bible been quoted to justify environmental exploitation, war, slavery, second class status for women, oppression of homosexuals, the discipline of children and many other practices. How did the Bible come to this and how can we still use it as something that is holy.

A pre-eminent voice for liberal Christianity, John Shelby Spong, 72, was the Bishop of the Episcopal Diocese of Newark for 24 years before his retirement in 2000. 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.

His challenges to the church have also made Bishop Spong a target of hostility, fear, and death threats. In what may come as a surprise to his critics, his latest book, A New Christianity for a New World, is a statement of Christian faith and love for the church. 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. "I am a Christian and will go to my grave as a member of this household of faith," he writes.

Bishop Spong challenges the church to move with him, convinced that if the church remains where it is now, the Christian faith will die. "I hold steadfastly to the truth of the assertion first made by Paul that 'God was in Christ'," he says. He yearns for the reformation, he says, so that his grandchildren too can say, "God is real to me, and Jesus is my doorway into this reality."

Since his retirement, Bishop Spong has taught at Harvard University, where he delivered the William Belden Noble lectures; at the University of the Pacific, and at the Graduate Theological Union in Berkeley, CA. He has been a scholar in residence at Christ Church, Oxford, and is a fellow of St. Deiniol's Library in Wales. In demand as a speaker around the world, Bishop Spong recently lectured to standing room only crowds in the U.K., Europe, Thailand, Indonesia, Australia, New Zealand and Canada.

Bishop Spong is the author of several bestselling books which have sold more than 1,000,000 copies combined, including Living in Sin?, Rescuing the Bible from Fundamentalism, Why Christianity Must Change or Die, and Here I Stand, a memoir of his journey to the reasoned, loving Christianity he has preached for decades and A New Christianity for a New World, his vision of a Christian future.

Bishop Spong has received numerous honors, including being named Quatercentenary Scholar by Emmanuel College, Cambridge University in 1992 and Humanist of the Year in 1999. The Protestant Episcopal Theological Seminary in Virginia and St. Paul's College have conferred on him Doctor of Divinity degrees and Muhlenberg University a Doctor of Humane Letters degree.

His extensive media experience includes appearances on "60 Minutes," "Good Morning America," "Fox News Live," "Politically Incorrect," "Larry King Live," "The O'Reilly Factor," William F. Buckley's "Firing Line," and "Oprah," and "Phil Donahue."

Bishop Spong lives with his wife, Christine Mary Spong, in Morris Plains, New Jersey.