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J.S. Spong, a scholar who has held the seemingly contradictory titles of "Episcopal Bishop" and "Humanist of the Year", presents his final work: an examination of whether or not a modern, skeptical understanding of evolution, anthropology, and religion can permit a concept of eternal life after death.
This is an excellent, timely and probing question. Unfortunately, the answer offered is less than satisfying, and is certainly not the "resounding yes" promised in the first chapter.
Spong provides many autobiographical anecdotes as he relates how his own thought process led him to the conclusions drawn in this book. This is helpful, as his opinions are often quite caustic, and being able to see these opinions in the perspective of Spong's own personal experiences renders them at least understandable, if not agreed upon.
Spong identifies religion as the necessary crutch devised by humanity in order to cope with the separation anxiety caused by the evolutionary development of self-consciousness. He dismisses religion as "outdated", "spiritually immature", and "out of touch with modern scientific understanding". He calls for humanity to transcend our religious heritage and enter into new ways of thinking.
He concludes that the meaning of eternal life consists of living meaningfully in the here and now. He identifies God as "not supernatural, but in fact part of us", and argues that this is actually what the Gospel of John was trying to communicate. The path to eternal life: Live fully and love fully, because love is eternal.
Disappointingly, the conclusion stops short of discussing whether and how the individual consciousness is preserved beyond death. Also, Spong fails to subject his belief in Love and in God-as-part-of-us to the same "skeptical scientific scrutiny" used to tear apart traditional religious ideology.
13 of 16 people found this review helpful
This is a great read. John Shelby Spong is spot on with his views and revelations. This book is so enlightening and supports many of the views that I have come to support and believe as s result of my own spiritual evolution. I highly recommend this book.
1 of 1 people found this review helpful