I was surprised and disappointed to read the headline of the Reverend Robert Hurkmans’ article stating that “Spong’s advice is dangerously misleading.”
I decided to discover what Robert’s concerns are about Unbelievable. Having read the book, do I agree with everything in it? No. Nonetheless, it does provide opportunities to consider, explore and even deepen one’s faith. It also provides a valuable resource in exploring and discussing how the church should respond to its situation in the 21st century and beyond.
He seems to believe the way forward is for Niagara Diocese to adopt a conservative or evangelical literalist approach to scripture, as being the correct way to proceed for the church to survive — and thrive.
I would like to remind him that there are conservative and evangelical parishes in Niagara, as well as throughout the Anglican Church of Canada. Yet, none of these parishes would be considered as thriving.
He only has to do some basic research to quickly realize that numerous parishes in this Diocese and across the country that follow the prescription he suggests are not growing and healthy. The churches that he is referring to are those churches that believe the Bible literally (Pentecostal, Baptist, Non-Denominational, etc.). He erroneously believes that these churches are very spiritually healthy and also appear to be growing.
It is more than a little disconcerting that he easily dismisses a non-literal view of Jesus and is quick to discount Bishop Spong.
As far as spiritualizing the resurrection, one needs to look no further than scripture. It is patently obvious the authors/editors were unclear whether Jesus’ resurrection was spiritual or bodily or both.
Robert concludes there is but one way for the church to survive and grow as a faithful community. There is another way. That way is to do the work that Jesus came to show humanity.
It isn’t through a retrenchment into pietism that will cause the church to survive and grow. Rather, it is only through the care for the poor, the homeless, the disabled, those struggling with mental health issues and many others who are marginalized and discounted by society.
It is only through doing this that the Church will be vital and will truly survive — and grow.