Opinions expressed here are my own and do not represent the views of the congregation I joyfully serve. But my congregation loves me!

Monday, December 10, 2007

Will Spotts on the Theology of John Shuck

First Presby, Bill, wrote me an e-mail in response to my post earlier today Is Christmas Political? In response to Will Spotts summary of my theology, Bill wrote:

I thoroughly enjoyed Supplement A. I think your theological views are extremely refreshing and germane for the 21st century. Maybe we can finally get out of the Dark Ages we have been stuck in for centuries. Have you considered hiring this guy as your PR front man? He is really good at picking out the meaty, thought provoking points. The collection of points is good for hours of contemplation for people who are not afraid of free thought, free will, enlightenment. This stage of my life is the ONLY time I ever wanted to go to church and it is because I finally have validation for the religious perspective that I developed myself in a vacuum. I finally have a community!
Thanks, Bill! Glad you have found us and we you! I have to say that I am flattered that Mr. Spotts took the time to outline my theology, complete with footnotes! Maybe someday he'll write a book about me.

Here is the Spott on Shuck:

Rev. John A. Shuck: The pastor of the First Presbyterian Church of Elizabethton (TN) and member of Holston Presbytery. In both published sermons and on his blog – which he describes as a part of his teaching ministry – Rev. Shuck has proclaimed doctrines that are completely at odds with Christianity. Holston Presbytery (from which Rev. Shuck derives his authority as a minister in the Presbyterian Church (USA)) is aware of Rev. Shuck’s writings and is apparently content with its endorsement.

Rev. Shuck on a variety of doctrines:

· Christianity –

o “You may have heard that there is one way to be a Christian, and that is to be a literalist Christian. The virgin birth, the empty tomb, an error-free Bible, Jesus dying for our sins and returning in the clouds is a package deal … I don’t believe that we have to make that black and white either/or choice.”[10]

o “What happens to those folks when they realize that the Bible is not error-free or that Christianity isn’t the only or even the best religion?”[11]

o “As humanity continues to grow, we begin to realize that we have created the god who has created us. We just forgot. We have developed the stories, the doctrines, the beliefs in response to dissatisfaction and fear.”[12]

o “When we become conscious that humanity is the creator of the gods and of the stories of the gods, we can begin to evaluate these stories. Which of them are still worth telling?”[13]

· The nature of God –

o “Conceiving of God as a personal being has become increasingly problematic. We may imagine God in personal terms in prayer, worship, or poetry, but even there the language we use does not fit the reality we see.”[14]

o “A theology for the 21st century, in my view, may very well begin with God, not as a personal Creator, a human writ large, but Creativity itself.”[15]

o “Mystery was called by different names in different languages in different places— / The Great Spirit, Marduk, the Goddess, Brahman, The Holy One of / Israel, God, Sophia, Christ, Allah, The No-Thing, the Ground of Being. / But Mystery is elusive, not allowing a name to tame it, / Allowing no human to claim it for a possession.”[16]

· Jesus Christ –

o “Jesus was a human being. Let the man rest in peace.”[17]

o “When I think of Jesus or the Buddha or Mohammed or Hildegaard of Bingen I think of individuals who have achieved a higher level of consciousness than I have achieved… Jesus like the Buddha and other enlightened mystics had a heightened level of consciousness … They are, I think, the first fruits of a higher evolutionary stage for humanity.”[18]

o “Jesus is one of the great light-bearers”.[19] [This is a very peculiar phrase – I wonder where Rev. Shuck gleaned it; another way of saying this would be “Jesus is one of the great luciferi.”]

· The Resurrection –

o “Number 1: I believe fully in the Resurrection of Jesus. I don’t simply believe it. I trust it. I try to live by it. Number 2: I believe the remains of the historical Jesus decayed like all human remains decay.”[20]

o “Resurrection is not something that happened but it is something that happens. It is about new and authentic life in the present and opening oneself to that experience. It is what a good story does for us.”[21]

o “The resurrection of Christ to me is not about heaven in the sky when you die. It is not about believing in a resuscitated corpse. It is also not merely a metaphor, symbol, or subjective vision. To see the resurrected Jesus or the cosmic Christ is to glimpse in a person the summit of consciousness to which we are ascending.”[22]

· Hell – “The idea that God would send people to hell doesn’t make sense to me at all. It is a cruel doctrine.”[23]

· Evangelism – “If we let go of hell, we may need to let go of evangelism. What is the point of trying to save people if they don’t need to be saved? Imagine if all religion gave up that one.”[24]

· Heaven –

o “The idea that heaven is a better place, when this life seems unbearable can be a great comfort. If that belief works for you, then keep it.”[25]

o “My concern with beliefs about an afterlife is that they can (not necessarily so, but they can) lead one to devalue this life.”[26]

· The Bible –

o “[Paul] wrote some wonderful things. But not everything is a keeper.”[27]

o “I love the stories of the Bible, the stories about Jesus and the stories about a new heaven and a new earth. I love them because they are imaginative stories of hope that can help us, if we understand them as stories, to enjoy what we can in this life and to work so that others can enjoy it as well.”[28]

o “The preacher can no longer assume that just because a text is in the Bible that it is from God or is even valuable.”[29]

o “The dogma of the divine inspiration of the Bible is nothing more than channeling God. It is unbelievable and unnecessary.”

Thanks, Mr. Spotts! I couldn't have said it better myself! Oh, wait, I did say it!
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