A New Reformation


In my previous post, I cited the 12 theses that John Spong proposed for what he calls a New Reformation of Christianity. Spong isn't the only one who uses that term. Matthew Fox also does, and in fact his most recent book is titled, A New Reformation: Creation Spirituality and the Transformation of Christianity. Fox includes in his book slightly more than 12 theses--95, to be exact. From what I can tell, on the other hand, Marcus Borg seems to prefer to talk about a paradigm shift rather than specifically making a reference to the Reformation.

What these three individuals have in common is a desire to transform the Christian religious tradition into a new set of traditions. Where Borg and Fox seem to differ is that while Fox seems to be calling for a break between those who espouse the Old Christianity and the New one, Borg seems more inclined to try to find some basis of reconciliation and common ground between the two Christianities.

I think that Fox's viewpoint makes more sense. It isn't clear to me how any kind of reconciliation between such fundamentally different theologies can take place. It is worth remembering that the Protestant reformation was less a reformation of the existing Church than a split from it, and the differences between the New Christianity of the 21st century and the Old Christianity of the past is, I believe, far greater in scope. Borg is right, though, that what we are talking about is a paradigmn shift--and the new paradigm is simply incompatible with the old one.

Do New Christians want to continue to associate with religious bodies that continue to embrace rationally untenable positions on the Bible, the nature of God, homosexuality, and a host of other matters?


CT said...

After reading your posts I thought Borg sounded interesting. I have read plenty of Spong and agree with much he has to say. However there seems to be a lot of criticism of Spong and I wondered if that was from the traditional church or was it all biblical scholars. So I figured a read of Borg could be enlightening.

I was surprised to read Borg simply outlining how to read the bible metaphorically and how to consider God as something beyond the father-in-the-sky model. I thought both of these concepts would be so well entrenched throughout the christian world that they almost go without saying. But Borg spends a lot of time trying to convince us that the bible is not literal and that God may be 'everywhere and everything'.

After reading Spong for many years it was really a watered down version. An author writing very cautiously to a conservative Christian audience as he tried not to upset them with the knowledge that Christian educational institutions has known for 50 years.

Either way I think there will be a reformation - its a matter of whether it takes 20 years or 100 years. The newer generations that grow up recognising pluralism, incorporating science and other objections to their faith, will slowly adapt their beliefs to something that matches their experience of the world.

Maybe we could take the best teaching of all religions ?