Crimes of Communism and Christianity

How are communism and Christianity similar? Well, they both have good points (teaching about how to relate to each other) and they both have histories to be ashamed of.

The Russian Communist Party still exists. But to have any credibility it is only right that the Russian people would expect two things of it:

  • Acknowledge the mistakes and crimes of the past. (It started to do this in 1956 with criticism of the Stalin Terror, and in the 1980s with a more open consideration of its history);
  • Adjust its teachings, policies and political programme to prevent similar mistakes in the future.

Crimes of Christianity

Bisho SpongChristianity also needs to do this if it is to have any credibility in the modern world. It needs to acknowledge the past and present crimes committed in its name. Crimes such as the terror of the inquest and todays justification of prejudice against women and people of different sexual preference. It needs also to adjust its teachings and activities to prevent similar crimes in the future.

A key to this lies in interpretation of the Bible. A literal interpretation is still used today to justify criminal and prejudicial action. Bishop John Shelby Spong (right) makes these very points in his lecture “The Terrible Texts of the Bible.” He shows how the Bible contains texts which are brutal, anti-human, racist and sexist. Arising out of distant times and brutal situations these texts have no relevance in todays world. However, they are still being used to justify violence, prejudice, attacks on science and the denial of human rights.

Spong says that these texts and the previous crimes and mistakes of Christianity need to be acknowledged. Christian belief should be adjusted to the modern world. If Christians do this, he argues, they will find much of value in the Christian teachings which can be retained and used today.

The Terrible Texts of the Bible is a Burke Lecture on Religion and Society (73 min).

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4 responses to “Crimes of Communism and Christianity

  1. Of course we should always work to ensure that people don’t twist the Bible to justify evil actions. Ironically, Spong is one of the major culprits of that.

    If Spong’s message was that “Christian belief should be adjusted to the modern world,” then he is displaying his ignorance of 1 John 2:15-16, among other passages: “Do not love the world or anything in the world. If anyone loves the world, the love of the Father is not in him. For everything in the world—the cravings of sinful man, the lust of his eyes and the boasting of what he has and does—comes not from the Father but from the world.”


  2. It’s not a matter of twisting the Bible – it’s using the Bible to justify evil. There is plenty there to use that way if you are so inclined.

    What evil actions does Spong justify??

    Re your Bible quote – Really can’t see the relevance – but I do have that problem with Bible quotes anyway. It seems like one of those “terrible texts” – you are using it to justifying dogma. It could also be used to attack science (being of, and based on, this world).


  3. Thomas Hasler

    The main point of this article has merit. The countless different minor sects of Christianity, denominations if you will, all seem to interpret the Bible’s texts in different ways. It is by no means uncommon for people to quote the Bible in order to justify their own actions, often with violent bloody results. This has been proven time after time through history. Such examples as the Spanish Inquisition, the Salem Witch Trials, any and all of the Holy Crusades, and even to an extent the Holocaust of WWII can all be traced back to Christian beliefs and set a very clear picture of violence and ignorance.

    I’m not saying that all Christians are evil bastards, or even a large minority. But in the name of Religion, to many wrongs have been committed. The world has changed and we are much more intelligent en mass than the common man of 2000 years ago. There are many many technological advances and communication devices available, and if you say we are to abandon “anything in the world.” in order to prove love and devotion to God, then you might as well commit suicide now, cause the food you eat, the people of your family, the air you breath, the ground you walk on, is all of this world. That is another example of using quotes from the bible in what ever context you feel fits any given situation.

    When it comes to Biblical text, Context is Everything. The entire book was written as an open interpretation, a mass of metaphors for life if you will.

    This is just my opinion, and I’m a nobody from the southern Bible Belt area of the US, so take it how you will. I grew up surrounded by religion, and the people that claim to be the most devout are the ones that will usually shoot you in the eye at the first opportunity. I enjoyed your article Ken.


  4. Spong has quite a way with words.
    Thanks for posting it.


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