I opened my email this morning to the sad news that Marcus Borg died on Wednesday. Professor Borg was instrumental in helping me find meaning in Christianity. His book, Meeting Jesus Again for the First Time enabled a generation to find a way to enter or to re-enter the Christian tradition by way of history and metaphor.
search Borg on my blog you will find a number of posts dedicated to the study of his writing. I gave away and replaced Heart of Christianity many times in my efforts to introduce people to a thoughtful Christianity. Borg was a founding member of the Jesus Seminar who I credit for helping me find the content of my faith. I wrote this a couple of years ago:
Two books, Marcus Borg’s Meeting Jesus Again for the First Time and John Dominic Crossan’s Jesus: A Revolutionary Biography changed my faith. Not just my thinking…my faith. Default religion (Jesus died on the cross to save some people from sin so they--Christians--can go to heaven when they die even though most people will go to hell) lost its appeal for me long ago.
Borg and Crossan introduced me to a Jesus who was a real person. He embodied a vision of justice, peace, and hope that wasn’t based on supernaturalism. In opposition to the injustice and dehumanizing forces of Empire, this Jesus preached the “empire” of God that is real, present, and participatory.Marcus Borg was always a gracious teacher. I was fortunate to have him on Religion For Life three times (Evolution of the Word, Speaking Christian). The one I enjoyed the most was the last when he talked about his book, Convictions: How I Learned What Matters Most.
I don’t talk or write about my faith too often. It is mine. It is personal. It is sacred to me. Making it public risks misrepresentation and belittlement. I also know that talking about personal faith can sound self-righteous and grandiose.
At the risk of all of that I will say that for me, my search for the historical Jesus has enabled me to find content for my faith. It is not simply an intellectual exercise. This vision, this icon, this myth (in the true sense of that word) of the historical Jesus is sacred.
Jesus stood up for those who were put down.
I trust, I have faith, that I can do that too.
That is the Jesus who is “in my heart.”
That is my faith.
I thank the Jesus Seminar for their part in restoring it.
Maybe the quest will inspire you as well.
He will be missed by many.
I count myself among that number.