Blessed are the merciful,
for they will be shown mercy.
Matthew 5:7

Be merciful,
just as your Father is merciful.
Luke 6:36

Be Compassionate
as God is Compassionate.
Luke 6:36

Speaking Christian:
Why Christian Words Have Lost Their Meaning and Power -
And How They Can Be Restored

By Marcus J. Borg

Bible Basics Custom Google Site Search!

Both of Marcus Borg’s books: “Speaking Christian” and “The Heart of Christianity” have been a part of Rev. Jack Soper, Senior Pastor of Arapaho United Methodist Church in Richardson, TX. Sunday School Class.

Modern Christians are steeped in a language so distorted that it has become a stumbling block to the religion, says internationally renowned Bible scholar Marcus J. Borg. Borg argues that Christianity’s important words, and the sacred texts and stories in which those words are embedded, have been narrowed by a modern framework for the faith that emphasizes sin, forgiveness, Jesus dying for our sins, and the afterlife. Here, Borg employs the “historical-metaphorical” method for understanding Christian language that can restore for us these words of power and transformation. For example,

Redemption: now narrowly understood as Jesus saving us from sins so we can go to heaven, but in the Bible it refers to being set free from slavery.

Savior: now refers to Jesus as the one who saves us from our sins, but in the Bible it has a rich and wonderful variety of meanings having nothing to do with the afterlife.

Sacrifice: now refers to Jesus’s death on the cross as payment for our sins, but in the Bible it is never about substitutionary payment for sin.

In Speaking Christian, Borg delivers a language for twenty-first-century Christians that grounds the faith in its deep and rich original roots and allows it once again to transform our lives.

Editorial Reviews
Speaking Christian correctly may seem like it’s just a fuss over semantics, but it’s ultimately about something bigger: defining Christianity… When Christians forget what their words mean, they forget what their faith means. (CNN )

“This book could start a revolution. Borg cracks open the encrusted words of faith and pops them into fresh language that people can understand and trust. The last time this happened, we got the Reformation.” (Anne Sutherland Howard, Executive Director of The Beatitudes Society )

About the Author
Marcus J. Borg is Canon Theologian at Trinity Episcopal Cathedral in Portland, Oregon. He was Hundere Chair of Religion and Culture at Oregon State University until his retirement in 2007. Borg is the author of nineteen books, including the bestselling The Heart of Christianity, Meeting Jesus Again for the First Time, Reading the Bible Again for the First Time, and the novel Putting Away Childish Things. He was an active member of the Jesus Seminar when it focused on the historical Jesus, and he has been chair of the Historical Jesus section of the Society of Biblical Literature.

A book to be read with open mind and a mustard seed faith
By John Philoponus

"This book could start a revolution. Borg cracks open the encrusted words of faith and pops them into fresh language that people can understand... " Anne S. Howard

There is no doubt that the revolution was already started in 1963, by former Anglican bishop of Woolwich, John Robinson, who was a major force in shaping Borg's liberal and progressive Christianity. His controversial million-copy bestseller, "Honest to God" was not so much an attempt to reshape Christianity, but a trial of concepts and modern language that conformed Christianity to a modern pro-scientific world view. There can be little question that Robinson wished to reduce Christianity's dependence on belief in legendary accounts and on the supernatural. Some conservative Christians were, and others are still terrified by the same 'Jesus Seminar' attitude. They see in this approach an appeal for a secularized Christianity or even worse, an appeal for secular humanism.

Acclaimed Bible scholar Marcus Borg, revisits same issues again after a half century. He argues that contemporary Christian language has become non inclusive, disconnected from and not representing the beliefs which once substantiated it. Defending his case with allusion to N. T. Wright's "Simply Christian," Borg calls for a radical change to the language Christians use to express their beliefs. For Borg, as was for Robinson, it is the primary remedy that will permit the Church's words to once again communicate Biblical truth, faith, and hope. Borg is addressing what he wrote earlier in, "Reading the Bible Again for the First Time." By taking the Bible Seriously, But Not Literally he shares Robinson's main perspective. He does not believe in miracles in a conventional sense, yet professes his belief in the paranormal, and offers a definition that accords well with Robinson's views.

While twenty-five chapters may echo 'too many notes' to the average reader, it is not so. This book, is Borg's confession of faith "On Being a Christian", making an effort to interpret what it means to be a liberal and progressive Christian. In his Confession book, he discusses various Christian themes, exposing each in a chapter, such as Salvation and The only way, God and Jesus, Believing and Faith, Mercy and Righteousness, Sin, forgiveness and Repentance, To be Born Again, Ascension and Pentecost, Rapture and Second Coming, Heaven (without Hell), Creeds and Trinity, Lords Supper and Lords Prayer. Meanwhile he tries to weave personal anecdotes and vignettes along the way.

Dr. Marcus Borg is a professor of philosophy, and a respected Historical Jesus Scholar, who has enjoyed an illustrious career explains how can we benefit from a spiritual, metaphorical understanding of the gospels, without taking them literally. He also proposes to reconcile the results of New Testament and Historical Jesus scholarship with a modern, even redefined Christian faith. Borg clearly holds to the Metaphorical Gospel, but seems to be open to dialogue and change. It may be unfair just to cite his earlier books, or take this last one to describe his dynamic position on all issues. Speaking Christian is a serious book that has to be read critically, with an open mind and a mustard seed faith.

Honest to God

...And what does the LORD require of you?
To act justly and to love mercy
and to walk humbly with your God.
Micah 6:8

Anna Woofenden
Speaking Christian: Marcus Borg

13 Oct 2011 1 Comment
By Anna Woofenden in Books and Speakers Tags: bible, justice, marcus borg, mercy, non-literal interpretation, righteousness, salvation, speaking christian

Anna Woofenden at Wordpress 10/12/2011

I believe that Anna Woofden's comments and insights are some of the best theology that you can find! She is a great student of Marucs Borg.

Bible Basics' goal is NOT to tell you what to think...
but to make you THINK!

Bible Basics Layers of Understanding's has the notion that if you think, “you have found it” you stop looking! At Bible Basics we recognize that we are always missing some of the meanings to scripture – those Layers of Understanding have to be peeled away.

*If you lost your keys in the car and go out to find your keys on the front seat... you Stop looking for them... But if you had kept looking you may have found your lost watch/meanings. We can always find more meanings in Scripture everytime we read the Bible. - Osten

But you, Lord, are a compassionate and gracious God,
slow to anger, abounding in love and faithfulness.

Psalm 86:15

Mercy & Righteousness
We hear these words a lot in church settings, in our prayers, scripture, etc. The problem, the most common meaning of these words in modern English is not the biblical context or intention.

Mercy/merciful—presuppose a situation of wrong-doing, where a person of power has the power to punish or not to punish.

Clemency. Parent give mercy on child punishment, etc.

Situation of wrongdoing here someone is entitled to punish.

Note how this understanding fits the common understanding of the heaven and hell Christianity. Presupposes that we’ve done wrong, God will punish, Jesus will intercede for our forgiveness.

Borg suggests we exchange the word “mercy” for the word “compassion”: this word does not pre-suppose a situation of wrongdoing.

Which word to use? Compassion or mercy? Depends on the context. If there’s a situation where there is a broken agreement, wrong-doing, etc. then yes, use the word “mercy”. But in many contexts, this word gives us the idea that there has been wrongdoing and that there is a punitive God who is ready to punish.

Compassion—feeling with, feeling the suffering of others, acting in accord with these feelings. In both Hebrew and Aramaic—associated with the word for womb, and the feelings a mother has for the children in the womb.

God is a God of mercy/compassion –WOMB-LIKE: creative, nourishing, encompassing, love for children, willing your children’s well-being, caring for them, willing to let them go, fierce dimension—compassion can become like a Mama Bear. Compassion is not a soft, woosy virtue.

We are called to this to others as well. Called to be compassionate of others.

Blind beggar—Bartamaus—“have mercy on me”. Bartamas was not a sinner needing forgiveness, he’s not calling out for mercy, he’s calling out for compassion.

Story of the Good Samaritan—“which of these three proved to be a neighbor?” (note, the story starts out with the question, who is my neighbor?, never answers the question, ends with how to be a neighbor). Ends with “the one who shows mercy”. Not a sinner, but a victim. Better translation—“the one who shows compassion”.

Sermon on the Mount—“blessed are the merciful”. Gives a very narrow meaning to that passage.

“Blessed are the compassionate, for they will receive compassion”.

“Be merciful, as God is merciful”.

“Be compassionate as God is compassionate”.

Some newer translations are using this. See how it broadens the meaning immensely? This verse is the most compact version of Jesus’ theology in the NT. “God is compassionate (who God is), be compassionate (our response and we are defined by).
What a contrast to the view of a punitive God—God’s gonna getcha unless you get it right. God of wrath. God who must be appeased, offering an adequate sacrifice.

This set up creates two very different forms of religion.

1. If we see God as punitive and we can appeal to Him as mercy.

2. If God is compassionate and therefore we can be compassionate.

Actions have consequences. Don’t confuse these consequences with “God punished that person”.

Does God ever punish anyone? OR Do we live in a world of consequences? And is God all loving?

More Like Falling in Love
By Jason Gray

The Heart of Christianity By Marcus J. Borg

This is just a small section from the Heart of Christianity by Marcus J. Borg. This is a very revealing book!

So different are these two views of Christianity that they almost produce two different religions, both using the same Bible and language. Our time of two paradigms is virtually a tale of two Christianities. To summarize the differences:

The two ways of being a Christian are often suspicious of, even hostile toward each other. From the earliest paradigm’s point of view, the emerging paradigm looks like a reduction of Christianity, a subtraction. Letting go of the notion that the Bible is a divine product seems to call its authority into question. Being relatively indifferent to whether the virgin birth and empty tomb are historical facts seems to call the divinity of Jesus and the wonder-working power of God into question. Letting go of the uniqueness of Jesus and the necessity of believing in him as the only way of salvation seems to call Christianity itself into question. Can one let go of any or all of this and still be Christians?

From the emerging paradigm’s point of view, the earlier paradigm seems anti-intellectual and rigidly (but selectively) moralistic. Its insistence on biblical literalism makes little sense, as does its rejection of science whenever it conflicts with literalism.

Advocates of the emerging paradigm are particularly perplexed and often impatient with earlier paradigm’s subordination of women,
its negative attitude toward gays and lesbians, and its preoccupation with conservative political issues rather than issues of justice.

It seems to emphasize personal righteousness more that compassion and justice. And its exclusivism, its rejection of other religions, as inadequate or worse, is unacceptable. How can it be that God is known in only one religion – and then perhaps only in the “right” form of that religion?

We get the conception (from Jesus Christ) that we are NOT
to wipe out God’s enemies by killing them;
we are to wipe them out by converting (loving) them.

William Barclay – Introducing the Bible

"The Last Week" By Marcus J. Borg and John Dominic Crossan.

“The Last Week” is extraordinary reading during the Season of Lent!

What the Gospels really teach about Jesus's final days in Jerusalem.

This book is about the last week of Jesus's life. It is a week of extraordinary importance for Christians. With its climax on Good Friday and Easter, it is "Holy Week," the most sacred time of the Christian year. And because of its centrality for the lives of Christians, how this story is told matters greatly. What was the last week of Jesus's life about? And because this story is seen as revelatory, as speaking to us today, what is it about?