In 'Speaking Christian' Acclaimed Bible Scholar Marcus Borg Argues the Language of Church has Become Dangerously Disconnected from Rooted Beliefs

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In a revolutionary argument vital to every person of faith in the English-speaking world, acclaimed Bible scholar Marcus Borg—author of Meeting Jesus Again for the First Time—argues that the very language Christians use has become dangerously distilled, distorted, and disconnected from the beliefs which once underpinned it. Stating a case that will resonate with readers of N. T. Wright’s Simply Christian, Borg calls for a radical change to the language we use to invoke our beliefs—the only remedy that will allow the Church's words to once again ring with truth, power, and hope.

Jacket Image - Speaking Christian by Marcus Borg

Speaking Christian by Marcus Borg

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. —Anne Sutherland Howard, executive director of The Beatitudes Society

The cornerstone of Christianity includes sin, forgiveness, Jesus dying for our sins, and the afterlife. However, in his new book Speaking Christian: Why Christian Words Have Lost Their Meaning and Power—And How They Can Be Restored (HarperOne; April 12, 2011; Hardcover; $25.99), Marcus Borg asserts that modern Christians are steeped in a language so distorted that it has become a stumbling block to the religion. These words and concepts don’t mean what we think they mean.

In the 4th century, Christianity began to focus largely on the afterlife and the post-mortem fate of people. But Christianity’s initial focus was on compassion and God’s dream for a just and peaceful world in the here and now. Unfortunately, this original interpretation of the Bible has been overshadowed by “heaven and hell Christianity.” As Borg illustrates In Speaking Christian, modern Christianity has lost its transformative power because of a literalism that has impoverished the meaning of the Bible and a consequent misunderstanding of Christianity’s core ideas.

Borg urges readers to consider whether we can be Christian without sharing God’s passion for transformation of ourselves and the world. His unequivocal answer is no; being Christian includes “speaking Christian.” To that end, Borg offers a way to redeem Christian language by reading Scripture through a “historical-metaphorical lens.” Doing so matters not only because the language of the Bible is extraordinarily rich and wise, but also because how we speak and understand Christian language can revitalize Christianity and change the world.

Marcus J. Borg is professor emeritus in the philosophy department at Oregon State University, where he held the Hundere Chair in Religion and Culture, and author of the New York Times bestsellers Meeting Jesus Again for the First Time, The Heart of Christianity, The Last Week, and Jesus. 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.

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