The GLBTRT has been reviewing books and movies in its newsletter since the early 1990s. Trace the evolution of queer publishing through these historic reviews. This review was originallyÂ published inÂ Vol. 3, No 3 & 4 Spring/Summer 1991.Â
Generally speaking, one of the tenets of fundamentalist American Christianity is the literal interpretationÂ of the Bible. This isa basic belief held by some members
of nearly all mainstream Christian denominations,Â and is an absolute in more conservative and extremistÂ sects.
This has proven a two-edged sword: it provides aÂ comfort zone for Christians who need a rigid structureÂ for their religious beliefs; and it has become a means of condemning the civil rights and feminist movements,Â as well as a weapon against gay and lesbian lifestyles.Â The results have been a continuing hostility to gays,Â lesbians and feminists, and often rejection of Christianity by those groups.
John Shelby Spong is the Episcopal bishop of Newark, and Peck’s Bad Boy of the Christian Left. In thisÂ study, Spong reviews biblical scholarship to demonstrate that literal interpretation is simply insupportable. He shows how many of the stories of the OldÂ Testament are apocryphal; others are chronologicallyÂ inaccurate. The four main books of the New TestamentÂ often contradict each other, and Paul was captive to theÂ social mores of his times.
Spong’s argument that the Bible can in fact be basisÂ for an abiding faith, and that minorities need not feel disenfranchised is a strong one. His hypothesis thatÂ Paul was probably a repressed homosexual weakensÂ that argument somewhat, but it is an interesting consideration nonetheless.
It is doubtful that Spong’s book will change theÂ minds of many fundamentalists, but it will provideÂ support for readers who have had to wrestle with theÂ apparent opposition of lifestyle and religious faith.Â Recommended for general readers and for all religion collections.
Reviewed by Jim McPeak
Lepper Public Library