Dear Jack Spong
I read in The Times that you had published a comprehensive denial of most of the fundamental doctrines of the Christian faith on the Internet. Having looked, I see Ruth was not exaggerating.
I’m sorry that you have lost your Christian Faith – as you know it’s not un-common amongst a certain sort of cleric and you have clearly been drifting away for many years. But now that you have comprehensively and publicly abandoned it, going so far as to become a self-proclaimed atheist, you must surely see that you cannot with any moral integrity continue as a Diocesan Bishop. If a General becomes a pacifist he or she betrays his or her troops if he continues as a General; a Judge who becomes an anarchist cannot remain a judge with integrity; no more can a Bishop who becomes an atheist.
Indeed, by carrying on as a Bishop you are denying the Anglicans in your diocese a fundamental human right: freedom of religion – since as you must know it is fundamental to orthodox Anglicanism that your priest should be under a true Bishop. You should also hand over to the Diocese any earnings from books and media appearances that you have made out of exploiting your office— if you were just another failed priest as opposed to a sitting bishop you would not get such media attention.
You must also surely be aware that, however hard you find it to believe in the Christian faith, it is both morally and intellectually bankrupt to infer from your troubles that the faith or those of us who is ‘bankrupt’ or ‘dead’. I have looked at your ‘theses’ and frankly, they are so lightweight that I am surprised that you have had the gall to publish them. Even I, a mere layman, can see the gaping holes and untruths.
You say that you are ready to debate them, and having published them on the web the most appropriate medium is surely a debate on the web. I have published on the web a first refutation, and if you have the intellectual integrity which you would wish to claim, you will doubtless have some responses and join the debate. I note however that your scientific references seem to stop with Darwin in the 1890s, so you may find some of the points difficult to follow.
I have had no response to an EMail inviting you to the debate, so perhaps this open letter would be a more appropriate medium. And maybe a short verse would encapsulate the challenge: