From Bishop John Shelby Spong's A New Christianity for a New World
l am a Christian.
For forty-five years I have served the Christian church as a deacon, priest, and bishop. I continue to serve that church today in a wide variety of ways in my official retirement. I believe that God is real and that I live deeply and significantly as one related to that divine reality.
I call Jesus my Lord. I believe that he has mediated God in a powerful and unique way to human history and to me.
I believe that my particular life has been dramatically and decisively impacted not only by the life of this Jesus, but also by his death and indeed by the Easter experience that Christians know as the resurrection.
Part of my life's vocation has been spent seeking a way to articulate this impact and to invite others into what I can only call the "Christ-experience." I believe that in this Christ I discover a basis for meaning, for ethics, for prayer, for worship, and even for the hope of life beyond the boundaries of my mortality. I want my readers to know who it is who writes these words. I do not want to be guilty of violating any truth-in-packaging act. I define myself first and foremost as a Christian believer....
....My problem has never been my faith. It has always been the literal way that human beings have chosen to articulate that faith.
I have elected, therefore, the harder, the more complicated path, even though it has on many occasions threatened to tear my very soul apart. Walking my path has subjected me to enormous religious hostility from threatened adherents of my own faith-tradition, as well as to cursory dismissal on the part of many of my secular friends, who seem to regard me as a hopelessly religious carryover from the Middle Ages. In the face of religious hostility on one side and incredulous disdain for my unwillingness to reject my faith-tradition on the other, I continue to insist that I am a Christian. I hold steadfastly to the truth of the assertion first made by Paul that "God was in Christ" (2 Cor. 5: 19,KJV). I seek the God-experience which I believe lies underneath the biblical and theological explanations that through the ages have attempted to interpret Jesus. I think that it is possible to separate the experience from the explanation and to recognize the increasingly inadequate capacity of ancient words to capture the essence of any experience for all time....
.... I will remain rooted in my conviction that the word _God_ stands for and points to something that is real. In some way, I will continue to assert that the Christ-figure was and is a manifestation of the reality that I call God, and that the life of Jesus opened for us all a way to enter that reality. That is, I will seek to maintain that Jesus was a defining moment in the human journey into the meaning of God. I will stake out a vision of how I believe this power can transcend the ages to enable people today to be touched by it and even to enter it, necessitating the creation of communities of worship and living liturgies.
Finally, to accomplish this task, I am required to strip away from this Christianity of the future every attempt to literalize the interpretive myths and explanatory legends of the past. I will attempt to free Christianity of its exclusive claims and its power-needs, which have totally distorted its message. I will seek to go behind the institutionally developed religious system that has come to mark Christianity and there explore the power which that system sought to explain and organize. Although eager to escape those limits, I have no desire to escape the experience that has compelled people through the ages, down to and including me, to say, "Jesus is Lord!"