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Sunday, February 24, 2013

Scratching Those "Itching Ears"

It appears that many in Gainesville and Hall County have decided that they need their “itching ears” scratched. Appearing and speaking on the campus of Brenau University on March 1 and 2 (next Friday and Saturday) is Marcus Borg. According to the Gainesville Times, Borg is “one of the most widely known and influential voices in progressive Christianity and a major figure in scholarship related to the historical Jesus.”

In other words, Borg is a heretic. His “scholarship related to the historical Jesus” describes his participation in the Jesus Seminar. The Jesus Seminar is a group of self-described scholars who attempt to discover the “historical Jesus.” According to apologist Greg Koukl, “they have rejected as myth the resurrection of Jesus from the dead, the virgin birth, all Gospel miracles, and a full 82% of the teachings normally attributed to Jesus--all dismissed as legendary accretions with no historical foundation. For example, only two words of the Lord's Prayer survive as authentic: ‘Our Father.’”

Consider some of the words of Borg himself (emphases mine): “I let go of the notion that the Bible is a divine product. I learned that it is a human cultural product . . . As such, it contained their understandings and affirmations, not statements coming directly or somewhat directly from God.”

"Seminary also introduced me to the historical study of Jesus and Christian origins. I learned from my professors and the readings they assigned that Jesus almost certainly was not born of a virgin, did not think of himself as the Son of God, and did not see his purpose as dying for the sins of the world.”

“As such, myths can be both true and powerful, even though they are symbolic narratives and not straightforward historical reports. Though not literally true, they can be really true; though not factually true, they can be actually true. The stories of Jesus' birth are myths in this sense. Along with most mainline scholars, I do not think these stories report what happened. The virginal conception, the star, the wise men, the birth in Bethlehem where there was no room in the inn, and so forth are not facts of history. But I think these stories are powerfully true...The stories of Jesus' death and resurrection contain a mixture of historical memory and mythical narration.”

“Religious pluralism is a fact of life in North America, and in the world. To absolutize one's own religion as the only way means that one sees all of the other religious traditions of the world as wrong, and dialogue, genuine dialogue, becomes impossible. Conversion can be the only goal.

I affirm, along with many others, that the major enduring religions of the world are all valid and legitimate. I see them as the responses to the experience of God in the various cultures in which each originated. To be Christian means to find the decisive revelation of God in Jesus. To be Muslim means to find the decisive revelation of God in the Koran. To be Jewish means to find the decisive revelation of God in the Torah, and so forth. I don't think that one of these is better than the other. You could even say they are all divinely given paths to the sacred. To be Christian in this kind of context means to be deeply committed to one's own tradition, even as one recognizes the validity of other traditions.”

When debating William Lane Craig (see here), on the Resurrection of Jesus, Borg declares “…for me, whether or not the tomb was empty doesn’t matter. Whether something happened to the corpse of Jesus doesn’t matter. For as I understand things, Easter is not primarily about something spectacular happening to Jesus on a particular day in the past, it is about the continuing experience of Jesus after his death. This, in my judgment, is the historical ground of Easter.” 

Borg believes that the accounts (or “stories”) of the Resurrection in the Gospels are “metaphorical narratives.” He speaks and writes of a “pre-Easter Jesus” and a “post-Easter Jesus.” The “pre-Easter Jesus” was merely a human who lived and died. The “post-Easter Jesus” lives on (though not in any literal sense) in “the experience and tradition of the church.” According to Dr. Craig, “What Dr. Borg means by the ‘post-Easter Jesus’ is what Jesus became in the thinking and imagination of the Christian church.”

In other words, in Dr. Borg’s thinking, Jesus only exists as a symbolic figure. To use Dr. Craig’s analogy (see his retorts here and here), the relationship between Dr. Borg’s “pre-Easter Jesus” and “post-Easter Jesus” is much like that between the fourth-century bishop Saint Nicholas and Santa Claus. Though not real, the fictional character that is today’s Santa Claus embodies much that is good: giving, kindness, family, love, etc. and is based on a real historical figure. Thus, Santa Claus is worth celebrating. For Borg, Jesus is little different.

The Times reports that Dr. Borg's two-day appearance is presented by “the university [Brenau], First Baptist Church of Gainesville, Grace Episcopal Church, First Presbyterian Church of Gainesville, St. Paul United Methodist Church and EMW Lectures.”

The Times also reports Bill Coates, senior pastor of First Baptist Church, describing Borg as someone who “speaks of an emerging paradigm to see faith and practice faith in an age of science and technology.”  Coates adds that, “So many people don’t believe today because they don’t believe the basic doctrines or have trouble understanding the stories of the Bible. For people like that, Borg has a new approach, a new lens through which they can see those stories.”

DON'T BELIEVE THE BASIC DOCTRINES?! Have ANY of these so-called "PASTORS" actually heard or read of what Borg teaches?! BORG HIMSELF rejects the “basic doctrines!” What is it exactly that makes Dr. Borg a Christian?! People don’t believe because of the heresy spread by men like Borg! What a sad indictment on the local Christian community that Marcus Borg would be put forth as a teacher of Christianity.

Copyright 2013, Trevor Grant Thomas
At the Intersection of Politics, Science, Faith, and Reason
Trevor and his wife Michelle are the authors of: Debt Free Living in a Debt Filled World

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