This video is an interview with retired Episcopal Bishop John Shelby Spong when he spoke to Keith Morrison, Dateline NBC. A partial transcript of the interview can be found below:
Spong: I think that there is no hell. I believe in life after death, but I think it has something to do with reward and punishment. Religion is always in control business, and that’s something that people do not really understand. It is in a control business produces guilt. And if you have heaven as a place where you are rewarded for kindness, and hell is a place that is punished for his wrong, then have the kind of population control. And so it created this place of fire that has literally scared off a lot of people, throughout Christian history. And it is part of a control tactic
Morrison :. But wait a minute. Are you saying that hell, the idea of a place under the earth or somewhere that is tormented for eternity – is actually an invention of the church
Spong 😕 I think they shot the church its hotter than anyone else furnaces. But I think there is a sense in most of the religious life of reward and punishment in some way. The church does not like people to grow, because you can not control adults. That’s why we talk about being born again. When you are born again, you’re still a child. People do not need to be reborn. They need to grow. They have to accept responsibility for themselves and the world.
Morrison : What do you think of theology which is quite quite prominent these days in the United States, which is no guaranteed way to not go to hell; And that is to accept Jesus as their personal savior
Spong : Yes, I grew up in that tradition.. Every church I know claims that “we are the true church ‘- who have some ultimate authority,’ We have the infallible Pope, ‘We have the Bible” … The idea that God’s truth can be attached in any human system. For any human creed, by any human book, it is almost unimaginable to me.
ie God is not a Christian. God is not a Jew or a Muslim or a Hindu or Buddhist. These are all human systems that humans have created to try to help us walk in the mystery of God. I honor my tradition. Ande in my tradition. But I do not think my tradition defines God. I just points to God.