A Critique of John Shelby Spong’s “The Sins of Scripture”

Introduction

To those who profess to seek a brand of Christianity that is “open, scholarly, and progressive,” the former Episcopal bishop, John Shelby Spong, has become a household name. Challenging the fundamentals of traditional theological orthodoxy, Spong has advocated what he calls a “New Reformation.”1 This reformation includes the exhortations to, among other things, abandon theism and reinterpret the miraculous events of Scripture in light of modern scientific, sociological and psychological findings. He even goes so far as to passionately deny beliefs such as the Deity of Jesus Christ along with Christ’s virgin birth and physical resurrection. The reaction to Spong’s quest to reformulate Christianity has been, for the most part, polarized. Some have praised Spong’s work as being a long overdue response to the evils of right-wing fanaticism,2 while others have sharply criticized the bishop for what they believe to be his blatantly apostate status.3 Whatever one’s opinion of Spong, it is clear that his influence cannot be ignored. Publishing over twenty titles and lecturing at prestigious institutions such as Harvard and Berkeley, Spong’s influence on the culture of twenty-first century western religious thought has become a reality. The magnitude of his influence is certainly open for discussion, but the presence of that influence does not seem to be.

One of the more controversial of Spong’s recent publications attempts to tackle the Bible itself. The broad purpose of this book, which is titled The Sins of Scripture (2005), can be found in the book’s subtitle, “Exposing the Bible’s Texts of Hate to Reveal the God of Love.” In short, Spong’s purpose is to “disarm those parts of the biblical story that have been used throughout history to hurt, denigrate, oppress, and even kill.”4 On the surface, such a purpose may appear admirable. After all, who could question the fact that the Bible, along with other sacred texts, has been used numerous times in world history for deplorable purposes? The prospect of unlocking where these misguided people went wrong seems exciting. Surely if a scholar of Spong’s background could help us to understand how these texts were misinterpreted by the aforementioned offenders, that would be beneficial, right? It may in fact be, but as we shall soon discover, Spong’s critique of Scripture’s “terrible texts” goes beyond their being misused by those who failed to understand their intended meaning. In fact, Spong blames the Bible itself for the travesties committed in its name. I shall explore this further in our treatment of The Sins of Scripture.

For some, this book is a revolution of knowledge about a religious text that has quite obviously manipulated and brought untold horrors upon multiplied millions of people over the past two millennia. For others, it is nothing less than an abomination that seeks to destroy the foundations upon which is built the beliefs held sacred by Bible-believing Christians everywhere. The purpose of this evaluation is to ascertain which of these two opinions is closer to reality.

Spong sees himself as a modern-day Elijah5 who is crusading against “the way the Bible has been used throughout history.”6 Is he? Or has he fallen short of the task to which he aspires? I shall endeavor to shed some light on these questions by utilizing the following format:

1. I will evaluate whether Spong’s work contributes anything of significant value to the Evangelical Christian movement. In other words, is it possible that Christians could benefit from reading this book? In what ways could they benefit?

2. I will evaluate the liabilities of Spong’s work. Specifically, I will address whether Spong makes use of appropriate faculties of reasoning, argumentation and logic in presenting his material. I will address the following five areas of Spong’s work: 1) his focus, 2) his logic and ability to reason, 3) his scholarship, 4) his understanding of the doctrine of Scripture, and 5) his integrity. I will be dwelling more so on these areas than on specific areas of “social justice” dealt with by Spong. The reason for this is simple. Spong’s focus, logic, scholarship, doctrine of Scripture and integrity will help us construct a “philosophical” skeleton. Once this skeleton is complete, we will have a reasonably good idea as to whether it is strong enough to support the “flesh” of social issues Spong attempts to attach to it. Therefore I will be dwelling primarily on Spong’s method, although I will supplement my evaluation with an adequate amount of content as well.

3. I will offer my conclusion regarding the data, reasoning and conclusion of The Sins of Scripture.

Now, before I proceed in offering my evaluation, please allow me to encourage the reader to read as much of The Sins of Scripture as possible before taking my evaluation too seriously. Writers are often times opinionated people, and as much as many of us seek to present information objectively, we will always be a bit biased in our presentation. I, being a committed Evangelical Christian, am no exception, and my simple request is this: Whatever your opinion of John Shelby Spong, it is fair and appropriate that we should give him an adequate hearing before taking too strong a stand either way with regard to his positions. With this encouragement in mind, I will now proceed in evaluating The Sins of Scripture.

Contributions

It is quite difficult for one to read a book and find nothing at all worthwhile in its pages. In coming to a book by a man as accomplished as John Shelby Spong, we would expect to find a few areas of significant contribution. And find them we do! First of all, it must be said concerning those of us who are of the Evangelical persuasion, that Spong does an effective job at challenging us to think about why we believe what we do about Scripture. Is Scripture really the treasure that we believe it to be? Is it as unique as we had always estimated? Is it really God’s Word? It is impossible to read The Sins of Scripture without facing these transparent and sometimes difficult questions. After thoughtfully considering them, we will become more effective in three areas that are essential to the Evangelical worldview.

First, we will have a better, more precise, and more refined understanding of the faith the we hold so dear. Scripture exhorts us to seek understanding and to “prize” it above all else.7 One of the most efficient ways of learning our own beliefs is to see how they are distinctive in comparison with the beliefs of others.

Secondly, after considering difficult questions about our faith, we will be able to better communicate to those with whom we disagree. Many times the issue in a conversation or debate about religion can be solved by more effective communication. Therefore, if I understand the position of my opponent, I will certainly be able to make my positions known to him in a more cogent fashion.

Thirdly, Spong’s radical commitment to social issues has the potential to wake some Evangelicals up to the fact that even though our goal is not to be found in the world, we still have responsibilities in the world. In the past, some Evangelicals have focused almost exclusively on matters of the head (intellect) and heart (emotions) to the neglect of the hand (action). Now, this is certainly not the case with all Evangelicals, but it is true that many have taken little interest in the matters such as 1) being a good steward over God’s creation in the environment; 2) treating those with whom we passionately disagree with a proactive love and selfless consideration; and 3) respecting and treating with equality those from different ethnic or socio-economic backgrounds.8

Hence, it is appropriate to acknowledge that there is some definite benefit for the Evangelical Christian who reads Spong’s work. Some will, of course, disagree on the grounds that his work has the potential to deter someone from his or her faith in Christ. However, I would respectfully disagree with that position for reasons that will occupy the remainder of my evaluation. In short, I believe the method of reasoning Spong employs in The Sins of Scripture is alarmingly ineffective and deficient. Furthermore, I would suggest that any legitimate follower of Christ who has a solid grasp of the Bible and its message will not be swayed by Spong’s rhetoric. Catholic theologian Gerald O’Collins has said that Spong’s work “simply does not belong to the world of international scholarship”9 because he offers little data and exegesis to substantiate his claims. A Christian who has been trained to test all things by Scripture and by reason will see O’Collins’ point, namely that Spong’s work is lacking in five essential areas. It is to these liabilities that I shall now turn my attention.

Liabilities

The background and motive of Spong’s reader will undoubtedly play a role in his evaluation of the material contained therein. For example, someone with a strong distaste for traditional Christianity will most likely sympathize with Spong’s positions, all of which are uncharitable to traditional Christianity. And due to that reader’s background, he may read Spong’s work with a less critical eye. On the opposite end of the spectrum, the Evangelical may read Spong’s work and immediately dismiss the conclusions before ever having heard the arguments. However, I am interested in writing from neither perspective. Rather, I am interested in writing from as much of an objective viewpoint as possible. As stated earlier, I have my unconscious biases as does every other writer, but my interest here is to focus solely on how Spong makes the case he does. In other words, does he offer a good argument?

At this point, I wish to state again what it is that Spong is arguing for in The Sins of Scripture, and also what he is not arguing. It will be very important, going forward, for the reader to understand this. First of all, Spong is not arguing that various biblical texts have been used throughout history to oppress and destroy the innocent. Rather, that the Bible has been used in such a way is merely a basis for his primary argument, which is this: Because it has been used throughout history to oppress and destroy the innocent, the Bible, or at least various parts of it, are evil. Consider the following revealing passages from Spong’s section, “The Word of God:”

At first I convinced myself that the problem was not the bible itself, but the way the bible was used. That, however, was a defensive and ultimately dishonest response. I had come to the place where I recognized that the bible itself was often the enemy. Time after time, the bible, I discovered, condemned itself with its own words.10

Much as I wanted to think otherwise, I had to conclude that the Bible is not always good. Sometimes the Bible is overtly evil.11

If Spong had merely asserted that some sects of Christianity were flawed and evil because of their use of Scripture to mistreat others, that would be one thing. Spong, however, is not arguing for this. He is assuming it so that he can argue for the Bible’s being “evil” or “hateful” or “the enemy.” But the question is this: Does Spong present a valid argument? In other words, does his conclusion follow from its premises? And is it sound? In other words, are the premises upon which the conclusion is based true? I will attempt to show the reader that Spong’s argument is neither valid nor sound, and I will do so on the basis of there being a lack in five crucial areas in Spong’s book.

The first area of concern is Spong’s lack of focus. Any scholarly work must have focus. In other words, the writer of a particular work must choose a narrow subject with which to deal exhaustively. Now, there are plenty of good works around that are neither narrow nor are they exhaustive. Does this mean they have no value? Of course not! It only means that they are not to be taken as “scholarly.” This was the point of the previously quoted O’Collins’ statement. My position is that Spong’s work is not focused enough to substantiate the huge claim he makes regarding the nature of Scripture. In The Sins of Scripture, Spong essentially writes what amounts to eight books in one. He begins with his foundational belief that the Bible is not God’s Word, and then proceeds dealing with societal issues ranging from spanking children to homosexuality to women’s rights to environmentalism and others. Each of these issues is preceded by a “terrible” text in the Bible. Following this “terrible text,” Spong merely surveys the way each immoral issue has supposedly been the result of the Bible. In trying to tackle so many issues in so few pages, Spong ends up doing a poor job of addressing each issue. His lack of supporting evidence, citations, and data for the claims he makes is astounding, as the following sections of this evaluation will demonstrate. It appears as though Spong and his publisher have banked on the fact that many people who would buy their book already shared their assumptions. If that is the case, then it may not be that big of a sin to try and accomplish so much in so few pages. If your readers do not require solid evidence and clear argumentation, why bother striving for such?

Before leaving this point of Spong’s lack of focus, it will be appropriate to simply address the theses of a few of Spong’s major sections and then ascertain whether or not he effectively makes his case in any of them. We will return to the first section and consider it later, but let us address the second section, “The Bible and the Environment.” Spong’s point in this section is that the biblical mandates to “be fruitful and multiply”12 and to “exercise dominion over the earth”13 have not just been the basis for, but have actually caused numerous social ills including overpopulation and the oppression of human sexuality. At one point, Spong even says that these texts, if followed literally, will “guarantee [the human race’s] annihilation.”14 Now, our purpose is not to evaluate these social issues, but to ask the question, “Has Spong made the case that the Bible is the cause of these matters?” The answer is no. All Spong provides in the area of support are numerous instances of anecdotal evidence that only demonstrate how the passage in question has been (mis)used. He never offers any reason why the Bible, and not the actions of those who misuse it, is to blame. Furthermore, in this section, Spong rarely cites Scripture other than the two original verses in Genesis.

Spong employs the same method in section three, “The Bible and Women,” as he rips Genesis 2:18-23 and I Corinthians 11:8-9 out of context. Again, there is no connection as to why the Bible is to blame for the oppression of women in various times and places of history, but there is the radical suggestion that the woman who dried Jesus’ feet with her hair was actually committing an “erotic act” and that Mary Magdalene and Jesus were married.15 Spong continues with what he perceives to be the oppression of homosexuals in section four, children in section five, and Jews in section five. Again, the problem is this: Spong utilizes a simple argument in making his case, but never does he offer support for his initial premise (P1):

P1: If something has been used to commit evil (A), then that thing is evil (B).

P2: The Bible has been used to commit evil (A).

C: Therefore, the Bible is evil (B).
Imagine if we were to use the same logical form and apply different content:

P1: If something has been used to commit evil (A), then that thing is evil (B).

P2: Last night, a surgeon’s scalpel was purchased at a pawn shop and then used to commit murder (an act of evil).

C: Therefore, the surgeon’s scalpel is evil.

Obviously this makes no sense, but it is the implied reasoning throughout each chapter of Spong’s book. Because the Bible has been used to perpetuate what is (arguably in some cases) evil, that necessarily means that the Bible itself is evil. This brings me to the second area of lack in Spong’s book: the lack of logic.

In addition to the argument utilized by Spong above, there are other occasions where he demonstrates a sloppy reasoning process. For example, in Spong’s preface, he says that it is not his intention to write a book that “bashes” the Bible.16 When I first read this, I thought it meant that The Sins of Scripture would be addressing the evil of the Bible’s misuse. And if this had been the case, the glaring problem in Spong’s work may have been avoided. However, in a later section, Spong says the fault lies not with bad interpretations of Scripture, but in Scripture itself.17 These are blatantly contradictory statements. Which is the cause of evil? Is it faulty interpretations of the Bible? Or is it the Bible itself? Spong seems to have difficulty in making up his mind.

Another logical issue deals with a glaring category mistake Spong makes in the first section. In making the point that the invocation of (what Spong clearly implies to be the Christian) God brings terror, he uses Osama bin Laden as an example. However, he never addresses the notion that the Chritian God and the God of Osama bin Laden are two different Gods. He uses an illustration from one God to attack another. This is what the Philosopher of Mind Gilbert Ryle referred to as a category mistake. Spong seems to have no problem making it, though.

The list of logical problems in Spong’s reasoning is vast, but it is important that the reader understand a few more of them. To conserve space, I will list a few of them with brief summaries:

1. Spong attempts to completely separate the Bible from Christianity. However, he never deals with the epistemological problem posed by this divorce. If we have no source for Christianity, then how do we plausibly posit a Christianity at all?18

2. Spong says that the Bible could not be the Word of God because the authors never saw themselves as writing God’s Word.19 However, he never says why a writer would need knowledge of the ultimate purpose of his work in order for that work to be used for God’s transcendent purposes. He assumes a structural connection that he never demonstrates or even attempts to demonstrate.

3. After concluding that institutional Christianity has become “consumed by its quest for power and authority,” Spong again concludes that God’s voice cannot be heard in the Bible. The problem here is that Spong wants to throw the baby out with the bath water. If institutional Christianity is the culprit, then why throw out the Bible? Why not throw out the institution? Or at least throw out whatever in the institution seems to be causing such vices.

4. Spong believes our advances in science and medicine have alleviated our need to continue “being fruitful and multiplying.”20 However, he then gives numerous examples of events in world history that have wiped out large percentages of the human population. Somehow, Spong thinks events like these are highly unlikely today. However, this is not rational. What if a nuclear holocaust happened? What about a global bubonic plague? What about an asteroid? There is no way that Spong can know that we are past the time in human history when unexpected cataclysms are possible.

5. Spong seems to have a huge concern for social justice, but never justifies his concern with any authority outside of his own opinion. While the Bible-believing Christian bases his concern for justice on the Bible, Spong has no authority. He doen’t even appeal, as the British Empiricists did, to reason. He simply “assumes” that social justice is warranted and justified. He never demonstrates how.

So we see then that Spong not only lacks focus in his work, but also lacks the ability to argue rationally and provide substance for the premises upon which he bases such arguments. At this point I shall proceed to the next area where Spong is quite obviously in lack: the area of scholarship.

As O’Collins’ commented above, Spong’s The Sins of Scripture is not scholarly literature. It is “popular” or “mainstream” literature. It seems to be written for two purposes: First, it appears to have been written to “preach to the choir.” As stated earlier, there are throngs of liberal churchgoers who are willing to drink Spong’s kool-aid without ever critically evaluating his rationale. Secondly, it appears that Spong has written this work to incite a reaction from traditional Christians like myself. People from the first group buy the book in order to get what they believe to be “intellectual” ammunition to support their “progressive” social and quasi-spiritual agenda, while people from the second group buy the group because they have to respond to its contents. This is why his book should be classified as “popular” rather than “scholarly.”

Let me address, then, why this work is not scholarly. In writing a text on the Bible, perhaps the most surprising feature of Spong’s work is the fact that he does no careful exegesis of the texts he employs. He offers anecdotal evidence in the form of who he believes to be intolerant believers,21 but he hardly ever addresses the text directly and objectively. The few times he does address a text, he offers a quick and overly simplified interpretation based only on liberally-slanted scholarship. In addition, here are some other scholarly inadequacies that are apparent in The Sins of Scripture:

1. Spong’s self-admitted qualifications to write on this subject are weak. He says he is qualified because 1) he loves the Bible and 2) is a church insider.22 However, for one to write what would be considered “scholarly” on a particular subject, one would have to have educational credentials in the area he writes. Spong was in ministry for many years, but was not a Bible scholar.

2. The Sins of Scripture lacks clarity, but a scholarly work would attempt to leave little ambiguity. For example, Spong uses words like “evil,” “church,” and “truth” without even attempting a definition. These definitions are desperately needed in this work due to the fact that Spong has thrown out the Bible as a source of authority for these terms. A scholarly work would recognize that each term could mean different things to different people, but Spong demonstrates no such recognition.

3. Spong demonstrates a blatant disregard for objective scholarship. He crusades and rants continually about all the evil that has come about in the world because of the Bible and Christianity.23 However, not once does he give credit to the good things Christianity has given to our world. It might do him some good to read Schmidt’s How Christianity Changed the World, a book that outlines the amazing achievements (i.e. education, women’s rights, abolition of slavery, hospitals, international human rights, etc.) that were spearheaded by Christians who believed the Bible to be the Word of God.

4. Spong refuses to offer scholarly citations of the evidence he does present. He offers all of the following without citation: 1) He misrepresents President George W. Bush’s comments about the Iraq war;24 2) He cites the aforementioned situation with the SBC President;25 3) He comments that the Bible has “perfumed prejudice and violated millions;”26 4) He says that “it is easy to demonstrate that the Bible is simply wrong in some of its assumptions;27 5) He rants against the evil of Western lifestyles; 6) He accuses the “leadership of the Christian Church” of attempting to separate sexuality from procreation;28 7) and makes the outlandish comment that the human birthrate is threatening survival.29 All of these claims are very serious. A true scholar would cite scholarly evidence for each of them. Spong does not.

5. The scholarship Spong does rarely reference is strongly one-sided. For example, he refuses to present conservative views30 and only attacks them.31 Also, Spong defines a reputable scholar as one who agrees with him and disbelieves in the virgin birth.32

6. Spong misunderstands Christianity as being a religion primarily for white, Protestant, heterosexual, middle-class people. He shows his ignorance that the strongest areas of Evangelical Christian growth today are in the third world.33

7. He fails to recognize the non-monolithic nature of Evangelical Christianity. He speaks of only two groups of Christians: those whom he agrees with and those he does not. He does not seem to recognize diversity in the body of Christ.

8. He frequently appeals to the reader’s emotion rather than to his sense of reason.34

9. He assumes a naturalistic metaphysic without ever offering one reason for his rejection of the supernatural. He disbelieves in a supernatural Jesus, creation, Bible, and justifies it all by saying that to believe such things would “violate everything we know about how the universe works.”35 He does not defend his naturalistic worldview, nor does he point the reader to a plausible defense of naturalism by another author.

10. He fails to treat positions contrary to his own with professional courtesy and respect. He employs sarcasm36 and labels people who disagree with him as “hysterical.”37 Furthermore, he takes the liberty of becoming emotional with those he disagrees with, but will not afford them the same luxury.38

I have now tried to demonstrate Spong’s lack of focus, his lack of logic, and his lack of scholarship. I shall now proceed to the next area: Spong’s lack of understanding of Scripture.

Jesus frequently responded to his opponents’ errors by asserting that they did not know the Scriptures. The same rebuke is in order for Spong in The Sins of Scripture and can be briefly illustrated in five errors he makes:

1. Error #1: Spong misinterprets and misapplies the Old Testament. He acts as if the commands of Levitcal law are binding today. No serious student of Scripture would assert such. Hence, Spong attacks a straw man in this case.39

2. Error #2: Spong consistently fails to apply Scripture in context. Nowhere is this more apparent than in his treatment of I Corinthians 14 as he fails to understand that Paul was answering an opponent is this case.40

3. Error #3: As mentioned earlier, Spong attempts to interpret a supernatural Bible through a naturalistic lens without ever offering an explanation as to why this is logical.41

4. Error #4: Spong applies the term “believer in the Word of God” to anyone regardless of their interpretive errors. Hence, he put everyone is the same box and judges them equally.42

5. Error #5: Spong generally misinterprets Scripture, as discussed in the above section on the social issues Spong espouses.

Spong continually displays a lack of insight into Scripture and commits serious error by interpreting it through a naturalistic lens. These errors are serious liabilities and should be carefully considered before assigning too much credibility to Spong’s status as a Bible scholar.

At this point I have addressed the liabilities of The Sins of Scripture by pointing out Spong’s lack of focus, logic, scholarship, and Scriptural knowledge. I will now conclude with the fifth “lack” in Spong. However, before I do so I wish the reader to know my motives. My motives are simply to provide counsel to those who are “on the fence” and considering receiving the “knowledge” Spong offers. I have no desire to assassinate the character of Spong, but I must deal with his integrity since so many look to him as a “spiritual mentor.”

After reading Spong’s work, I am convinced that there is an integrity issue on Spong’s part, and because of this I do not believe he is to be recommended as a Christian minister who rightly handles the Word of Truth. It is fine to read and evaluate his work, but it may be dangerous to take his counsel for the following reasons:

1. Spong has taken an oath three times in his life where he has pledged to uphold the Bible as the “Word of God.”43 He has clearly broken that oath and now proclaims that the Bible is evil.44

2. Regardless of his oath and his status as a “bishop,” Spong says he wants no part in “Word of God” Christianity.45

3. Regardless of his oath, Spong acknowledges that he does not want to worship the God of the Bible.46

4. Regardless of his oath, Spong states that he desires to destroy creed, church and Scripture.47

It seems to me that Song is a man of divided affections and not to be trusted in spiritual matters. His blatant disregard for God’s Word and failure to honor the oath he has made continually brings his integrity as a minister into question.

Conclusion

My evaluation of The Sins of Scripture began by assessing the contributions of the book to Evangelical Christian who reads it. I proceeded by outlining the books liabilities in the five areas of focus, logic, scholarship, Scripture and integrity. I will now offer some final thoughts concerning Spong’s work.

During the course of my study of Spong’s work, I have been appalled at the lack of depth represented in this work. The lack of the five essential areas above is significant enough for me to seriously question the book’s value as a piece of objective scholarship. However, the most appalling thing of all in reading Spong’s work is this: In his subtitle, it seems as if Spong is going to show his readers how the God of love will be revealed when these “terrible” texts are exposed. However, I don’t recall hearing much about either a God of love or how He was revealed in the exposing of faulty texts. Perhaps this is the most glaring defieciency of them all. After all, this was Spong’s purpose, was it not? Did he not set out to present a God of love? Has he done this? In my opinion, he has not. If Spong is correct in much of what he has asserted, I would propose that he has revealed not a God of love, but a God of confusion. And in so doing, I am not sure that his work is to be, above all else, commended. In the end, I appreciate SPong’s work in the sense that it challenges me. But as for me and my house, we will serve the Lord. And we will serve Him based on what He has communicated to us in His Word.

Footnotes:

1 An outline of Spong’s primary these are available at his website: http://www.johnshelbyspong.com

2 As his publisher advertises on the back cover of The Sins of Scripture, Spong has received numerous endorsements from well-known personalities such as Bill O’Reilly and from other popular media outlets.

3 Criticism of Spong has come from inside his denomination as well as from outside. The Archbishop of Canterbury, Rowan Williams, has labeled Spong as an apostate and the Roman Catholic theologian Gerald O’Collins has questioned the scholarly value of the breadth of Spong’s works.

4 John Shelby Spong, The Sins of Scripture: Exposing the Bible’s Texts of Hate to Reveal the God of Love (New York: Harper Collins, 2005), 24.

5 Spong, 25.

6 Spong, 11.

7 Proverbs 4:5-9, NASB

8 While racism is not found as much at the beginning of the twenty-first century as it was a century before, the fact remains that it has, embarrassingly enough, taken Evangelicals longer than it should have to realize the foolishness and sinfulness of such a position.

9 Gerald O’Collins, “What of the Spong Song?” in Apologia (The Wellington Christian Apologetics Society), 7 (2/3), 112-113.

10 Spong, 11.

11 Spong, 12.

12 Genesis 1:28, NASB

13 Genesis 1:26, NASB

14 Spong, 39.

15 Spong, 104-106.

16 Spong, xiii.

17 Spong, 11.

18 Spong, 14.

19 Spong, 23

20 Spong, 35-36.

21 For example, Spong refers to anti-Semitic comments made on Larry King in the 1990’s by the then President of the Southern Baptist Convention.

22 Spong, 5.

23 Spong, 11.

24 Spong, 13.

25 Spong, 12.

26 Spong, 17.

27 Spong, 19.

28 Spong, 37-38.

29 Spong, 41.

30 Spong, 5, 10.

31 Spong, 24.

32 Spong, 23.

33 This has been extensively documented in Jenkins’ The Next Christendom.

34 Spong, 29, 31.

35 Spong, 21.

36 Spong, 21.

37 Spong, 24.

38 Spong, 14.

39 Spong, p.19

40 Spong, 95-102.

41 Spong, 22.

42 Spong, 39.

43 Spong, p.16.

44 Spong, 11-12.

45 Spong, 18.

46 Spong, 18-19.

47 Spong, 25.

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