John Shelby Spong is a US priest Bishop who recently called for the church and worshipers to rethink of Christian beliefs and the traditional doctrines. Namely, he said that although he believes in the afterlife, the concept of ‘reward and punishment’ has nothing to do with it. He said that religion is, and has always been in the control business, and people fail to understand that. According to him, it’s a guilt-producing control business.
The former priest spoke in an NBC interview, and noted that he thinks hell doesn’t exist.
‘If you have heaven as a place where you’re rewarded for your goodness and hell as a place where you’re punished for your evil, then you sort of have control of the population. So they create this fiery place which has quite literally scared the hell out of a lot of people.’ – he added.
When the interviewer asked the priest on whether he believes that hell is an invention by the church, Spong said that he thinks the church fired its furnace hotter than anyone else. You can check out the interview for yourself below.
Note: The interview took place in 2006.
The priest has since faced backlash for his comments, most notably from other religious figures. He was also condemned as a heretic by the Southern Baptist Theological Seminary, stating that Spong denied every major conceivable doctrine.