Bishop Spong’s discussion showing the impact of modern education on Christian beliefs from antiquity is a delightful read. However, the text could have been more poignant had he recognize elements of the beliefs of other cultures beside those arising from the Middle East and Europe alone. Having failed at this, he could only recognize two alternatives from antiquated Christian creeds. With a more global perspective other religious traditions would offer additional alternatives. Otherwise, he would have had to show the shortcomings of these other religions are comparable to those of Christianity. Vodou for example, is a belief system that draws heavily from the Ginen Heritage and as such is fundamentally dependent on old African beliefs, particularly those of the 17th and 18th century. Bishop Spong failed to expose broad limitations of numerous religions because his perspective is too constrained. These limitations force him to speak of ideas from a time, namely, 1st, 4th and 13th century without specifying a place. Ideas did not arise uniformly around the world and European history is not synonymous with world history. Bishop Spong’s discussion is too important for it to lack precision especially since the necessary corrections would not disturb his main points.
There is so much to be said and little time to do it. Certainly, Bishop Spong could not address every detail. He did well to give the dates that various when Gospels were written. Regrettably, he failed to say that in general the Gospels were written anonymously and were later assigned authors. The names attached to these books represent best convenient guesses and not known authors.
In focusing on European Western tradition, Bishop Spong did well to recognize that where scientific know-how is well developed, fewer and fewer people are attending Christian mass. This same focus caused him not to recognize that in places where science is less developed people are converting to Christianity in droves. In Haiti where science education is deficient, first, forth and thirteenth century Christian concepts are thriving. Today, most Christians live in poor countries with poor education systems.
These criticisms in no way invalidate the points made by Bishop Spong. His main points are well presented. With respect to Christian religion, Bishop Spong showed the need to align religious belief with what is known in the modern era.