From an email I received, which ostensibly is Bishop Spong answering a question about why Good Friday is called good. I’m not exactly sure where this came from, but, based on what else I have read, this would be pretty consistent with Spong’s anti-Theology. Spong is allegedly writing a book about life after death, which, according to him, will be the ultimate test of his “theology.” However, I think the ultimate test that would be to ask Bishop Spong this, and it is similar to what Archbishop Rowan Williams stated when he found Spong’s writings to be theologically uninteresting.
Why, Bishop Spong, should I get up on Sunday, put on nice clothes, sit there in church, listen to you speak while you wear funny clothes, eat a small piece of bread and take a sip of yucky port wine, and have a cup of coffee afterward, for which I am to pay 10% of my income to your employer?
Anyway, here is the piece on Good Friday:
Why is the Friday before Easter called “Good
Friday”? Where did the term originate?
Words do convey strange meanings, don’t they? I
can remember asking my rector the same thing when
I was a lad. The Friday that observes the
crucifixion of Jesus was the most somber day of
all to me as a child. To call it “good” seemed strange indeed.
The word good reflects the rescue and atonement
theology of the Church. It was an attempt to say
that the result of what happened on that Friday
was good. The death of Jesus was thought of as
good, since it broke the power of evil, rescued
us from the original sin of the fall and restored
us to the original relationship with God. That is
how the word good became part of the title of the day of the Crucifixion.
Today, that theology is badly dated and has been
abandoned by all but the fundamentalist elements
of the Christian Church – which come, as I always
remind people, in both a Catholic and a Protestant form.
As post Darwinians, we no longer believe we were
created perfect. We were created as single cells
of life and evolved into our present complex,
conscious and self-conscious forms. Since we were
never perfect, we could not fall into sin. Since
we could not fall into sin, we could not be
rescued. How can one be rescued from a fall that
never happened or be restored to a status we never possessed?
Of all the symbols of the Christian faith, these
are the ones most in need of rethinking and
reformation since our theology, creeds and
liturgies all infected these dated concepts. This
change will cause a mighty upheaval in Christian
understanding. Indeed it will signal the beginning of a mighty reformation.
Until then, I doubt if Good Friday’s name will be
the subject of debate. It is too far down the
consciousness ladder – so just keep using it.
– John Shelby Spong