And I suppose I shouldn't be the last surprised that the writer so soft-pedals Spong's legacy: a greatly diminished diocese, a record of heretical theologizing, and a tradition of divisive controversialism. The 2011 statistics are out, and it should surprise nobody that with the exception of Average Sunday Attendance the statistical trends of the last four years show no overall change from the consistent decline seen from the turn of this century, so that I am pretty safe in predicting that the 2012 numbers will leave membership below a hundred ninety thousand and ASA below six hundred twenty thousand, and this year's numbers will show declines from that. And as Spong continues to be invited into churches to push his idiosyncratic heresies, we continue to find bishops who cannot commit to the most basic tenets of the faith. Preaching has been so captured by the socio-political inclinations of the liberal upper middle class that I should to have been surprised to told that the gospel story of the healing of the ten lepers (Luke 17:11-19 for those who check up on that sort of thing) is somehow about the social action we should do, rather than being a type of the rejection of Jesus by the Jews.
But the point, after all, is not serious engagement with Spong's datedly-wrong theology (Tillich is, after all, so late-1950s), nor a balanced historical recollection (which would lay bare the breadth of disagreement with Spong's later ideas), but rather to present him as a noble, heroic dissident in order to make his books more salable to the godless ex-Catholic intelligentsia whom the booksellers see as the surviving market for this kind of work. As for myself, I have no interest at all in what Spong has to say at this late date; I only wish that the people at the Religious News Service (not to mention the Episcopal Diocese of Virginia), who are supposed to know better, would cease this hagiography.