Progress via a Muslim Spong?

Driving back from the North Carolina mountains tonight, I heard an amazing commentary on NPR that fits into our discussion of the MSM's heated search for a "moderate" version of Islam that it can hold up as some kind of majority viewpoint. This is part of the whole template that there are "fundamentalists" in all faiths who are equally dangerous in their often violent quest for the illusion of certainty and moral absolutes and then there are "moderates" who, if they all had their way, would all get along as they search for the Eternal Other. Here is the NPR link for those who want to hear the commentary and the brief summary:

July 8, 2005 -- Commentator Irshad Manji, who is a practicing Muslim, would like Muslims around the world to publicly reject some of the violent messages that she says are inherent in the Koran.

There's a lot of valid content in this piece, and let me stress that I am not suggesting, for a moment, that moderate Islamic voices are unimportant or that they should be marginalized. No way. I am saying that the press, at the moment, needs to be covering the who, what, when, where, why and how of how most Muslims are responding to the events in London.

Manji is, in a way, calling for the same thing. In particular she urges mainstream Muslims to take a tough look at the actual contents of the Koran and, in particular, how it is being parsed and preached by those who approve of violence against Jews, Christians, moderate Muslims, etc.

So far, so good. Then she suggests it is time for all religious leaders to be equally honest in dealing with their own scriptures and histories. So far, so good. Then she holds up, as the model for these exchanges, the work of retired Episcopal Bishop John Shelby Spong of Newark. This is where the train comes off the tracks.

The last thing in the world we need right now is for Western leaders -- religious or political -- to find and promote the views of some Islamic version of Spong, someone who is no longer even a theist. You want a clash of civilizations? Let the mainstream Muslim world see America praising the work of those who do to Islam what Spong does to Christian faith. Heaven forbid. Here, for example, is a link to Spong's 12 Theses for the new reformation of Christianity. Here's the first half of the list.

1. Theism, as a way of defining God, is dead. So most theological God-talk is today meaningless. A new way to speak of God must be found.

2. Since God can no longer be conceived in theistic terms, it becomes nonsensical to seek to understand Jesus as the incarnation of the theistic deity. So the Christology of the ages is bankrupt.

3. The biblical story of the perfect and finished creation from which human beings fell into sin is pre-Darwinian mythology and post-Darwinian nonsense.

4. The virgin birth, understood as literal biology, makes Christ's divinity, as traditionally understood, impossible.

5. The miracle stories of the New Testament can no longer be interpreted in a post-Newtonian world as supernatural events performed by an incarnate deity.

6. The view of the cross as the sacrifice for the sins of the world is a barbarian idea based on primitive concepts of God and must be dismissed.

Come to think of it, mainstream Muslims have a higher view of Christianity than Spong.

I realize this was a commentary, not an NPR news piece. But I still think its contents reflect the worldview of many in the MSM. Check it out.

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