I just listened to a pretty riveting interview on CBC’s Tapestry with John Shelby Spong, retired Episcopalian bishop and the author of over 20 books. The book he was promoting is called Jesus for the Non-Religious. From the book’s blurb:
Spong invites his readers to look at Jesus through the lens of both the Jewish scriptures and the liturgical life of the first-century synagogue. Dismissing the dispute about Jesus’ nature that consumed the church’s leadership for the first 500 years of Christian history as irrelevant, Spong proposes a new way of understanding the divinity of Christ: as the ultimate dimension of a fulfilled humanity. Traditional Christians who still cling to dated concepts of the past will not be comfortable with this book; however, skeptics of the twenty-first century will not be quite so certain that dismissing Jesus is the correct pathway to walk.
I don’t know much about him, but he certainly has some provocative and heretical ideas about Christianity and the church. He was also an extremely eloquent and thoughtful speaker. He occupies some fascinating middle ground, I think, between traditional Christians and atheists. His Wikipedia entry refers to his call for a ‘new reformation’, which (among other things) calls into question all of the miracles–from virgin birth to cosmic ascension–of Jesus’s life.
I’d recommend the piece to believers and non-believers alike–the theological thinking felt very fresh to me. But, then, I’m no Bible scholar.
On a vaguely related note, this Reddit thread has some very civil discussion about growing up religious, and when it becomes indoctrination.