"Standing room only" crowds came to hear the Sunday presentations of a two-day visit from retired Bishop John Shelby Spong
last month in the new Parish Hall. Spong spoke of his life's journey that began in a home environment of racism, sexism and
homophobia to his becoming an outspoken proponent of the full rights of blacks, women and gay people. He talked about his
faith in Christ and the language we use to articulate faith.
A recurring theme for Spong is that the experience of the divine is real and ineffable, but the words we use to describe
that experience are always bound by our human limitations. Each generation, he said, must find expression of that experience
from within its own world view. He reviewed the many ways that the New Testament tries to articulate the experience of Jesus
as being an experience of God present. And he criticized the fundamentalist tendency to limit the reality of God to certain
words about God.
Invitations for other views
Spong has a natural audience with people who have found that traditional ways of talking about God are problematic for
21st century people. On the other hand, many people who treasure traditional language and imagery about the divine take issue
with Spong's revisions.
The Episcopal Church is a place for open dialogue about our faith and our experience of God. Jack Spong has had his opportunity
to make his case. We invite the people of St. Paul's to enter into the conversation. If you would like to critique or affirm
parts of what we heard last month, please accept this invitation to do so. Write something for the newsletter. We hope his
visit stimulates all of us to be more thoughtful and articulate about our faith.