My friend Peter sent me a link yesterday to a “Dateline” interview with John Shelby Spong, the liberal theologian and former Episcopal bishop of Newark. It’s Spong’s belief that Hell is a religious fiction created by the church. It’s a control device, he says, plain and simple. He’s a controversial guy.
Synchronistically, I was approached this morning by the very man who told me a year ago that, unless I “do business with Jesus,” I’m going to Hell. He does a great deal of business with Jesus himself, much of it in the vein of persuading others to believe as he does. So I asked him to sit with me for a moment. Referring to his core philosophy (i.e. “My way, or the Hell way.”), I used words like “offensive” and “dangerous.” He smiled. I asked him to please stop greeting me as if he and I were friends. I told him that I wasn’t willing to implicitly endorse him by responding in kind, nor did I want to be put in the position of having to rebuff him. Still smiling, he consented, and invited me to let him know if I ever change my mind. I invited him to do the same. He chuckled. At the absurdity, I guess.