This video is from an interview with the retired Bishop Bishop John Shelby Spong with Keith Morrison from Dateline NBC in August 2006.
Under the videoconference, you can find a fragment of the interview:
Spong: I do not think Hell exists. I happen to believe in life after death, but I do not think that she got any relation to the reward and punishment. Religion is always in the sphere of control, and this is something that people do not understand. Its in the production of control of guilt. And if you have Heaven as a place where you are rewarded for your good, and Hell is the place where you are punished for your evil, then you seem to be controlling the population. And that’s why they create this fiery place, which literally frightened Hell from many people throughout Christian history. And its part of control tactics.
Morrison: But wait a minute. You say that Hell, the idea of a place under the earth or somewhere else you torment eternity, is actually the invention of the church?
Spong: I think that the church has fired its furnaces hotter than anyone else. But I think that in the most religious life there is a sense in reward and punishment in one form or another. The church does not like it when people grow up, because you can not control adults. That’s why we’re talking about being born again. When youre brought again, youre still a child. People do not need to be born again. They need to grow up. They must take their responsibility for themselves and for peace.
Morrison: What can you say about theology, which today is quite noticeable in America, and there is one guaranteed way not to go to hell; And that means accepting Jesus as your personal savior.
Spong: Yes, I grew up in this tradition. Every church that I know claims that we are a real church that has some higher power. We have an infallible Dad, we have the Bible. The idea that the truth of God can be connected in any human system, any human dogma, any human book, is almost inconceivable to me.
I mean, God is not a Christian. God is not a Jew, a Muslim, Hindi or a Buddhist. All these are human systems created by people to help us enter the mystery of God. I respect my tradition. I follow my tradition. But I do not think that my tradition defines God. It only points me to God.
Church of the State