Well, I guess nothing coming from John Shelby Spong can be “amazing,” since his entire career has been founded upon the most outrageous claims all arising from his inveterate hatred of “fundamentalism” which, in reality, is simply his way of referring to anything that takes Scripture seriously and proclaims anything even slightly akin to “the gospel.” But you still have to simply shake your head at his ability to be outrageous in any context.
Bill McKeever dropped me a link to Spong’s eulogy of Robert Funk, the co-founder of the Jesus Seminar–the same man who had told me to go to hell and hung up on me on a radio program back in 1989. Ironically, at one point, Spong says,
Bob Funk refused to live inside such boundaries or to accept such limitations. He seems to have agreed with my great teacher, Clifford Stanley, who was fond of saying, “Any God who can be killed ought to be killed.” He had little patience “for suffering fools,” either long or gladly.
Yes, well, we know that Bob Funk found the gospel and the cross to be foolishness, to be sure (talk about prophecy fulfilled—indeed, read all of Spong’s eulogy in light of 1 Corinthians 1:18-2:5 and you’ll be truly amazed, and probably a bit edified, too). But earlier on Spong had written these words:
Despite these storms, Funk persevered in his lonely but compelling task. Established old-line religious leaders such as the evangelical N. T. (Tom) Wright of England and the Roman Catholic Luke Timothy Johnson of Atlanta built their careers attacking his initiatives. Perfuming their irrational conclusions with the odor of respectability, Wright defended the literal accuracy of the details of the biblical story and Johnson defended the authority of an infallible papacy. Each reacted to Funk with the hysteria of a stuck and squealing pig.
Now, there are many things Tom Wright says that cause me to shake my head, but this kind of utterly irrational caricaturization of his responses to the Jesus Seminar, along with the sober, insightful criticisms of Luke Timothy Johnson, once again illustrates how far removed from any semblance of truth Spong lives. I can’t imagine a more blinding illustration of the utter irrationality of the extreme left, represented by Spong, than a debate would provide wherein the man would actually have to answer direct questions (remember what happened to Barry Lynn?). Who knows, maybe, someday…. 🙂