I haven’t read ALL of his books. But I’ve read enough to know that I liked him. Agreed with him. Was inspired by him. Wish I had known him personally. Would love to have had coffee with him and just let him ramble. He seemed to put into words what I feel and what I believe.
Marcus Borg gave Christianity back to many who thought they had to desert it.
One day, some years ago, I was standing in Russ’s office in front of the filing cabinet that holds all of our old “Living Pulpit” journals. I must have been preparing for an Easter sermon so I pulled that issue. I was thumbing through – probably looking for a quote to use as a printed mediation in the bulletin – when I stopped on an article written by Marcus Borg. I read the whole thing. Didn’t just skim it. And I had an “Aha!” moment.
For almost 30 years I have been frustrated with conservatives who get so hung up on a literal interpretation of what they consider to be an inerrant, infallible word from God - which misses the whole point of the truth! And, for the last 15 years or so, I have been equally frustrated with a liberal perspective that throws the baby out with the bath water by totally dismissing that which they can no longer believe. For those folks, if the story can’t be true they cease to go deeper for Truth.
Personally, I don’t want some middle ground that is watered down so that we can all find a place of agreement. I want a faith that is powerful and living and transformative and life-changing.
And I read Borg’s words . . .
“I see Easter stories as true stories, even as I am convinced that they are not factually accurate reports. To paraphrase words used by a native-American story teller as he tells his tribes’ story of creation, `I don’t know if it happened this way, but I know this story is true.’ . . . So what is the truth of Easter? Two claims seem most central to me.
First, Jesus is a figure of the present, not just of the past. Jesus continued to be experienced by his followers after his death, though in a radically new way: as a living spiritual reality. Sometimes he was experienced in visions, sometimes as an abiding presence.
The presence which his followers felt in him as a historical figure – spoken of as the Spirit of God, the Wisdom of God, and the Word of God – continues to be and to operate. Moreover, experiences of Jesus have continued throughout the centuries to this day. The truth of Easter is grounded in the continuing experience of Jesus, not in what did or didn’t happen on a particular day in the past . . .
Of equal importance is the second claim: Easter affirms that Jesus is Lord. To echo the New Testament, God has made him both Lord and Christ. He has been raised to God’s right hand. The one who lived among us as a God-intoxicated Galilean peasant healer, wisdom teacher and social prophet not only lives, but is Lord. Easter is God’s `yes’ to Jesus.”
(The Living Pulpit, “Hearing The Easter Stories Again,” Marcus Borg, Volume 7, No. 1, January-March 1998, page17)
One thing that some conservatives and some liberals have in common is that often they both miss the point. I vividly remember my out-loud comment after reading Borg’s article on Easter all those years ago: “He hasn’t lost his Joy. And I don’t want to lose mine either.”
I pray that as I continue to study, and as I continue to probe, and as I continue to question, and as I continue to minister that I will never ever be tempted to let doubt and questioning steal the Joy of Faith. Years from now if someone ever reads what I’ve written, I hope they will exclaim: “She didn’t lose her Joy!”
Grace and Peace, Marcus Borg – well done, good and faithful servant – your voice will be missed among those of us who needed you to help us keep our faith.