A New Christianity for a New World
Why Traditional Faith Is Dying and How a New Faith Is Being Born
by John Shelby Spong

Book Review
..Wayne Holst
"I suspect that we stand on the brink of a period in which it is going to become increasingly difficult to know what the true defence of Christain truth requires. ... At the same time, I believe we are being called, over the years ahead, to far more than a restating of traditional orthodoxy in modern terms. ... I am convinced there is a growing gulf between the traditional orthodox supernaturalism in which our Faith has been framed and the categories which the "lay" world ... finds meaningful today."
Preface remarks from Honest to God by Bishop John Robinson, 1963.
Invitation: The original course was the Fall of 2003. We intend these course notes to continue as an on-line resource on the themes the Bishop Spong raises in this book. You are welcome to these notes in any way. If you should build a course for your own group we are happy to share our experience. Email links below.
Preliminary Links  Course Outline / Session Note Links Facilitators:   
Wayne Holst Jock McTavish
Course Goals:
     1. To help participants become familiar with the thought of John Spong.
     2. To discuss, debate and learn together in the spirit of holy manners.
     3. To come to view Spong's contribution in light of modern biblical scholarship.
     4. To encourage individual initiative, and further study, beyond the actual class time.
     5. To combine input and small group sessions in order to blend content and relational learning.
     6. To help students come to a place of confidence in defining/articulating personal beliefs.
Characteristics of the Book:
     1. The book focuses on modern theology (not spirituality) with a faith and life focus.
     2. The emphasis of the book is on the death of theism, not the death of God.
     3. We believe that everyone is a theologian and each of us is challenged to live his/her faith in daily life situations.
     4. References, special quotes, insights will be posted to the website for personal reminders and broader distribution.
  Preliminary Link List   
Background on Holy Manners Holy Manners The background on the phrase and why we have adopted it. The guidelines.
Click to visit the St. David's Book Group Discussion on Yahoo Groups. Internet Discussion Group at Yahoo - the St. David's Forum. This discussion group centers generally on the issues of theology, spirituality and justice that are raised by the books we have studied. Click HERE if you would like to join. You will then be emailed all notices and contributions. Click left to visit the archives of the site to sample the reparté. There are presently 75 persons.
Internet Links to sites related to this particular study - 49 quality links are researched and gathered for further information on the topics raised or referenced by this study. The internet is the most wonderful resource library - but a bit overwhelming - This collection will save you much time. It is a collection of works and sites, of colleges and groups, of scholars and private persons, of papers and poems.
Old Drum - When Bishop Spong first coined the phrase "a church in exile", I wrote this poem called "old drum" which seems now particularly appropos. Jock.
      Course Outline and Links to the 10 Session Pages   
Click on the left side digit buttons below to load the session pages. These will be added to every few days as the course progresses. Please print out your own sheets as you need. We will print a dozen or so for the people without internet access - including some of the reference link material. Remember also to click the reload/refresh after the transfer to get the latest page version and not just the old page from your computer cache.
Section One Notes 22 September 2003. Preface - The Origins and Background of these matters. Introduction with autobiographical comments by Wayne and Jock.
Section Two Notes Ch 1 - A Place to Begin: The Old Is No More; The New Is Not Yet
Ch 2 - The Signs of the Death of Theism.
Section Three Notes Ch 3 - Self-Consciousness and Theism: Siamese Twins at Birth.
Ch 4 - Beyond Theism but Not Beyond God
Section 4 Notes General Discussion on the Death of Theism but not the Death of God
Section 5 Notes Ch 5 - The Original Christ: Before the Theistic Distortion
Ch 6 - Watching Theism Capture Christianity.
Section 6 Notes Ch 7 - Changing the Basic Christian Myth
Ch 8 - Jesus Beyond Incarnation: A Nontheistic Divinity
Section 7 Notes Ch 9 - Original Sin Is Out; The Reality of Evil Is In
Ch 10 - Beyond Evangelism and World Mission to a Post-Theistic Universalism
Section 8 Notes Ch 11 - But What About Prayer?
Ch 12 - The Ecclesia of Tomorrow
Section 9 Notes Ch 13 - Why Does It Matter?: The Public Face of the Ecclesia
Ch 14 - The Courage to Move into the Future
Section 10 Notes Section 10 Notes
1 December 2003 - Final Discussions on the New Reformation.
Bishop Spong and his wife Christine gave the group an hour telephone conference call on 1 December 2003. Click left for the tape transcription of the evening.

Facilitator. Wayne Holst

I spent most of my life thinking like a church professional, rather than as a regular congregational member. My training as a pastor always had me asking myself 'how can I apply this discovery, insight, new information to a regular church setting?'

Often, clergy have been hesitant to share the discoveries they have made through a 'critical' approach to the Bible with their parishoners because they wonder how laypeople might accept it. I have found that many thinking laity are professionals in their own fields of endeavour and understand a critical approach very readily. What they seek are ways of relating faith to daily living.

I am grateful for the journey I have been taking through ordained ministry to teaching at the university and serving as a fellow layperson at St.David's United Church. Here we find that questioning and honest expression of our faith and doubt is readily accepted and supported.

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Facilitator. Jock McTavish

I am a student and a poet, a democrat and a techocrat, an eclectic eccentric. I grew up in a loving Baptist community, so in my heart I'm still a Bible loving evangelical. As I grew in learning I found a new home in the United Church whose tolerance embraces the broadest range of Christian understanding. I most enjoy the illumination of our ancient traditions by modern scholarship. For they show in clear novel ways that the perspectives of the Special Ones were seldom the understandings of those that followed. They show all knowledge to be in relationship .

There seems a lack of understanding in our secular world for religious practices. The reasons why I still gladly - even necessarily - attend church are difficult to voice to those unfamiliar with church, or those injured by church. Elliott got it right. We find our way back to the place we started from. But with new understanding.
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Jan 5, 04