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Affirmations of a Dissenter [Paperback]

By C. Joseph Sprague (Author) & Joseph C. Sprague (Author)
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Item Number 151501  
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Item Specifications...

Pages   96
Est. Packaging Dimensions:   Length: 8.56" Width: 5.58" Height: 0.31"
Weight:   0.37 lbs.
Binding  Softcover
Release Date   Dec 1, 2002
Publisher   Abingdon Church Supplies
ISBN  0687728258  
EAN  9780687728251  


Availability  0 units.


Item Description...
Overview
Like many churchgoers, C. Joseph Sprague finds himself in a quandary: he loves the church but often finds himself at odds with its principles and/or practices. What makes his situation unique is that in addition to his role as worshiper, he is a bishop who is charged with the responsibility of leadership. In this book, Sprague gives readers a composite of affirmation and dissent, of faith and protest. He writes about his trust in and commitment to God's hospitable, unconditional love for all humankind as well as about his discomfort with discernible public trends in religious institutions, particularly United Methodism. The brief chapters of this book cover a variety of topics: biblical literalism; the power of biblical witness; biblical authority as related to homosexuality, divorce, violence, and women; the nature and person of Jesus; hope in the church; leadership; and racism.

Publishers Description
Like many churchgoers, C. Joseph Sprague finds himself in a quandary: he loves the church but often finds himself at odds with its principles and/or practices. What makes his situation unique is that in addition to his role as worshiper, he is a bishop who is charged with the responsibility of leadership.

In Affirmations of a Dissenter, Sprague gives readers a composite of affirmation and dissent, of faith and protest. He writes about his trust in and commitment to God's hospitable, unconditional love for all humankind as well as about his discomfort with discernible public trends in religious institutions, particularly United Methodism. The brief chapters of this book cover a variety of topics: biblical literalism; the power of biblical witness; biblical authority as related to homosexuality, divorce, violence, and women; the nature and person of Jesus; hope in the church; leadership; and racism.

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Reviews - What do our customers think?
Afirmations of a Dissenter  Aug 8, 2006
Reading this book brings me back to the 1960's. Joe Sprague was a pastor at our church in Cincinnati. I was a teenager and the only reason I went to church was because of C. Joseph Sprague. Joe had a way of delivering a message that no other preacher could. He told stories that were relevant to our needs.
In 1968, riots broke out. Many people were arrested. Joe walked the pavement to make sure everyone had their needs met. That is just the type of guy he is.
In 1977, I was in graduate school at Ohio State University. Driving by Summit St Methodist Church, I noticed that Joe Sprague was the minister there.
Soon afterward I stopped in for a visit and asked if he would do the wedding cerimony for my fiancee and myself. A little counseling and done.
Many years later, Joe has agreed to perform vows for my son and his intended wife.
Read the book and undertstand what Joe has to say. To understand is a comfort. Jim
 
A Book For All Believers To Read  May 31, 2003
I am a member of a church in the Northwestern Illinois Conference of United Methodists whose Bishop is Bishop Sprague. I have heard Bishop Sprague on two occasions, and have followed the contoversy that surrounds him and his beliefs.

Whether you agree or disagree with him, this is a book for all to read. For I get the feeling that Bishop Sprague's real objective is to open a dialogue, not just between Christians, but people of all faiths. Perhaps there is a common ground we can all reach that will end much of the trouble in the world. He does assert in the book that this is his own personal way of looking at things. By stating that, I believe he has opened the door for dissent from his beliefs, not only in the United Methodist denomination, but all peoples of faith.

Whether you agree or disagree with him, this is a man that has devoted his life to not only preaching the Gospel, but living it as best he can. For his service to people and to God, he deserves the opportunity to be heard without the charges of heresy and the threats on his life that he has endured. And I would say that any person, no matter what their belief, should have the same right.

Whether a person follows Christ, Buddha, Mohammad, Moses, or Joe Blow from Kokomo makes no difference to me. If your belief causes you to do good towards others, to throw off the rampant self-centeredness that the world is full of, and causes you to be a good person, then your faith is real.

Finding this faith does not consist of blindly following ancient interpretations of even more ancient texts. Look at all the injustice done within the last nearly 2,000 years, and it's obvious it hasn't worked. This is a time for new thoughts about ancient truths.

I am proud of our Bishop in the Northern Illinois Conference. I do not agree with him 100%, nor should I. We were all created with a brain to feel, think, and reason with. I refuse to be a part of any religion or denomination that insists that I accept 2,000 year-old teachings without debate. I refuse to be a part of any religion that requires me to 'check my brain at the door'.

I encourage all to read this book. Agree or disagree with his views, the dialogue will begin. And every Christian, from 'liberal' to 'fundamentalist' will benefit from that.

 
An historical footnote for those chronicling  May 23, 2003
the death of mainline Protestantism.

It's hilarious to see the term "fundamentalist" tossed about in defense of Bishop Sprague's thesis. If "fundamentalist" means (as it has to here) "one who tends to take the Bible and the historic witness of Christianity seriously," then I guess I'm a "fundamentalist." And proud of it. If nothing else, it is solid evidence that my leaving the church of my youth was the proper decision.

Admittedly, though, as a Catholic, I have yet to be called a "fundamentalist." First time for everything, I suppose.

Now that that the Bishop's fans have successfully conjured up the image of "American Gothic" meets Fred Phelps in demonizing their critics, let's look at the substance of the Bishop's witness to Jesus, The Really Neat But Safely Dead Palestinian Guy. Fellow fundies can start, and end, with Chapter 4, "Fully Human Jesus."

Boy, does the Bishop mean it! None of that "virgin birth," "divinity of Christ" nonsense for him. No, sir! The Resurrection was an event all the truer for never having occurred in a crudely real, physical sense.

You see, the primitives who assembled the creeds of Christianity were a half-step removed from working on cave paintings. They didn't have the sophisticated understanding of the Force--er, "God"--that we merlot drinkers do. The scriptures and creeds were actually "poetry," and it is only now, in our enlightened era that we now understand what they were *really* trying to say.

For example, here's the Bp's take on the Virgin Birth:

"I believe that Jesus the Messiah, the Christ of God, was fully human. The myth of the Virgin Birth (a theological myth is not a false presentation but a valid and quite persuasive literary device employed to point to ultimate Truth that can only be insinuated symbolically and never depicted exhaustively) is found neither in Mark, the earliest gospel account, nor in John, the latest. This powerful myth was not intended as historical fact, but was employed by Matthew and Luke in different ways to point poetically to the Truth about Jesus as experienced in the emerging Church. The Church believed that Jesus was the long-expected Messiah, the Christ of God, whose revelation was unique and normative. Said differently, in Jesus, God's Essence found confluence with a human being and the Kingdom/Reign was incarnated and ushered into being. The theological myth of the Virgin Birth points to this wondrous mystery and ultimate Truth. To treat this myth as an historical fact is to do an injustice to its intended purpose and to run the risk of idolatry, namely, treating a means as an end itself."

The theo-flatulence can be filtered to the following: Belief in historic virgin birth = idolatry. Got it.

Watch now as the Resurrection goes out the winn-der (you know how we fundies talk) as more literalist idolatry:

"I affirm resurrection, the resurrection of Jesus. God's Essence cannot be killed, buried or kept from being active in creation and history. God is from everlasting to everlasting. But, resurrection, including that of Jesus, does not occur through bodily resuscitation. God does not work this way. The issue is not the absence of God's power but God's own "self" limiting role of revelation in history. God works within the boundaries God has established. And while I do not pretend to know the limits of these boundaries and realize that we all see but through a glass darkly, I am certain that the miracle of resurrection, pre-eminently that of Jesus, is not tied to bodily resuscitation. The linking of resurrection with bodily resuscitation is to make a literal religious proposition of a metaphorical, symbolic expression of Truth itself. This is the kind of idolatry from which I dissent."

He also denies Jesus is the "the way, the truth and the life" for anyone other than Christians. Wouldn't be "ecumenical" to assert otherwise, I guess.

You get the idea. I am not entirely unsympathetic to the Bishop, who perhaps unwittingly reveals the key to his thought in recounting the tragic death of his baby boy. Perhaps he could not reconcile the traditional understanding of Christianity with his loss. It's hard to say how any of us would react.

But that does not give anyone the license to remake the ancient faith for which Christians died and are dying for today. We worship a Father who cruelly lost his own blameless Son, and understands pain. That example should cause us to draw closer, not away from, the historic understanding. Which, after all, makes better sense of the evidence of Christ.

To see the Bishop's take revealed to be the unclothed emperor it truly is, read Anglican scholar N.T. Wright's "Resurrection of the Son of God." There you will see all the evidence, pro and con, handled in a careful, objective, scholarly manner.

Instead of being mangled in an exercise in pseudo-midrashic wish-fulfillment.

 
Religous Fundamentalists Will Hate This Book  May 8, 2003
Well, it's either a ONE STAR book or a FIVE STAR book based upon whether or not you are a Religious Fundamentalist. Fundamentalists hate this book, along with most other books that do not march in lock-step with their conservative assumptions.

Do you believe that the bible is straight from God and must be blindly followed according to a narrow interpretation? You won't like this book.

Do you believe the bible was written by people, from a culture long ago, expressing their relationship with God? Maybe this book has something for you.

I thank Bishop Sprague for challenging the fundamentalist "take- over" of the United Methodist Church.

Just like what happened in the Southern Baptist Convention, the United Methodist Church is being saturated and consumed by religious fundamentalist organizations. The "Good News" movement, the "Confessing" Movement, Renew Women's Network, Lifewatch, Transforming Congregations, the Mission Society of United Methodists, and the Institute on Religion and Democracy are attacking the freedom of thought, expression, inclusiveness, and theology that stands as the backbone of the Methodist experience.

Do you want the UMC to continue to become a fundamentalist church? If not, then read this book.

Rev. Kevin Higgs
United Methodist Pastor
North Alabama Conference

 
A Match Made in Outer Darkness? Sprague & Spong  Mar 6, 2003
UMC Bishop Sprague and former Episcopal Bishop Spong have both achieved notoriety with their respective books that call into question the basic tenets of the Christian faith as it has been proclaimed from the time of the apostles onward. The success of their books is more an indictment of the Church and the Christian faith than any reenvisioned "Christianity" that they may advocate. People are hungry for spiritual food, and during famines they will not hesitate to eat shoe leather!!! Like many confused *theological* liberals (who politically might be liberal or conservative) they make the mistake of advocating a rejection or radical re-shaping of specific claims of the faith because they do not believe in them. There is nothing wrong with having objections to portions of the Christian faith--we are all weak in faith! The problem lies in then moving for a new faith--a faith not based on what has actually happened in history, a faith not lived by the people of Israel, a faith not proclaimed by the apostles, a faith that is a creation in our own image. The Christian faith must challenge us! It speaks over and against us, but also envelops and supports us. Sprague and Spong both are active in the world, and that's great. But it's wrong to think action demands a watered-down faith. ... The day of thinkers and bishops like Sprague and Spong is coming to an end--either by their own hand or by a shift in Christianity that is sick and tired of pretending the faith is what it is not. Save these books--not as worthwhile, but as relics of the dying past.
 

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