Dr. Marcus J. Borg

Denomination: The Episcopal Church (TEC)

Marcus J. Borg is a fellow of the Jesus Seminar and a progressive religious author of Speaking Christian, Meeting Jesus Again for the First Time, The Heart of Christianity, The Last Week, Jesus, and other books, and of the novel, Putting Away Childish Things. He holds a D.Phil. from Oxford University and is the Hundere Distinguished Professor of Religion and Culture, an endowed chair at Oregon State University. He lectures widely and often appears in the national news media. He has been president of the Anglican Association of Biblical Scholars and a columnist for Beliefnet. Borg is among the most widely known and influential voices in progressive Christianity.

Borg was born in 1942 into a Lutheran family of Swedish and Norwegian descent, the youngest of four children. He grew up in the 1940s in North Dakota, and attended Concordia College, Moorhead, a small liberal arts school in Moorhead, Minnesota. While at Moorhead he was a columnist in the school paper and held forth as a Conservative. After a close reading of the Book of Amos and its overt message of social equality, he experienced a political conversion and immediately began writing with an increasingly liberal stance. He did graduate work at Union Theological Seminary, and obtained master's and D.Phil degrees at Oxford under George Caird. Anglican Bishop N. T. Wright had studied under the same professor, and many years later Borg and Wright were to share in coauthoring The Meaning of Jesus: Two Visions, an amicable study in contrast. Following a period of religious questioning in his mid-thirties, and numinous experiences similar to those described by Rudolf Otto, Borg became active in the Episcopal church, in which his wife serves as a priest.

Borg advocates entering into relationship with God as more important than belief about God. He has a panentheist understanding of God, which sees God as both indwelling in everything and transcendent. He teaches that a historical-metaphorical approach to the Bible is more meaningful for today's world than is the historical-grammatical approach or that of biblical literalism. He also distinguishes between the pre-Easter Jesus, who was a Jewish mystic and the founder of Christianity, and the post-Easter Jesus, who is a divine reality that Christians can still experience personally.

Borg does not believe that the Bible has to be taken literally if it is to be taken seriously. Indeed, he purports that truths can be found in the many messages and metaphors of the Bible stories even though he states that such stories may not have actually happened at all. Rather than asking what the events in certain New Testament stories actually were, he challenges his audience with another question-what effect must this man Jesus have had on the people he came into contact with for so many rich stories to have been written about him after his life?

Day1 Weekly Programs by Dr. Marcus J. Borg

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What's Christianity All About?

Tuesday February 01, 2011
Noted theologian Dr. Marcus Borg strips away the complexities of Christianity to help us focus on the breathtakingly simple message of the faith: Love God and change the world.

Articles by Dr. Marcus J. Borg

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Marcus Borg: Has Christmas Been Swallowed by the Miraculous?

Wednesday December 17, 2014
For Christians, Advent (as its Latin etymology affirms) is about the coming of Jesus, in the past and the future. His first more than 2000 years ago when he was born into a historical life of humility and vulnerability; and his second in the future when he will return as judge of the living and the dead and establish God’s kingdom on earth. The first is more emphasized. How many Christmas cards have you seen that highlight the second coming?

Marcus Borg: Remembering Our Death: What May Be at Stake

Thursday October 23, 2014
A great change has occurred in the rituals, formal and informal, surrounding dying and death in North America. Here and in other contemporary western cultures, our customary practices around dying and death, have changed dramatically. For millennia, both were part of the familiar fabric of human experience. But no longer.

Marcus Borg: What Would It Have Been Like to Be A Companion of Jesus?

Saturday October 18, 2014
What is your 75 second (about 150 words) summary of the Jesus you believe in and love? Or your 75 second summary of the Jesus you are uncertain about or indifferent to or reject?

Marcus Borg: Responding to a Critic: Misunderstanding or Misrepresentation?

Wednesday October 01, 2014
To write about religion is to court controversy, conflict, and criticism. It confirms the counsel of conventional etiquette that it is best in polite conversation to avoid two subjects: religion and politics.

Marcus Borg: Top Religious Trends 2014: A Christianity Co-Opted by Individualistic, Exclusivist Faith

Sunday September 07, 2014
The most critical issue within American Christianity today as I see it? The co-optation of its most publicly visible face by an individualistic, self-oriented, exclusivist and entrepreneurial form of Christianity.

Marcus Borg: Postscript to a Letter About Jesus

Tuesday August 19, 2014
To emphasize: as a Christian, I affirm that Jesus is 'the Word of God' and 'the Word become flesh,' that is, the Word incarnate, the Word embodied in a human life. In Jesus, we see what can be seen of God in a human life. This affirmation goes back to the first Christian century and is orthodox Christianity.

Marcus Borg: Further Thoughts on a Letter About Jesus

Sunday July 27, 2014
My previous blog – 'A Letter about Jesus' – drew a much larger response than I expected. In this blog, I continue that conversation with a clarification and some additional comments.

Marcus Borg: A Letter About Jesus

Saturday July 12, 2014
A very few days ago, I received by e-mail a letter about Jesus from a person who is reading one of my books. His thoughts and questions struck me as being of interest to many people. I quote the letter at length and then share my response.

Marcus Borg: Does the Bible Matter? Progressive Christians and Scripture

Saturday July 05, 2014
Progressive Christians are often better known for what we don’t believe than for what we do affirm. I say 'we' because I am one of them.

Marcus Borg: Easter Again

Wednesday April 23, 2014
I sympathize with clergy who preach about Easter to the same congregation for several years. Of course, you say what you think is most important the first time. So what do you say the second time and the third time and more?

Marcus Borg: Holy Monday: Public Protest in the Temple

Monday April 14, 2014
On Monday of Holy Week, Jesus performed a provocative public act in the courtyard of the temple. As Mark (and Matthew and Luke) tells the story, he overturned the tables of some money-changers.

Marcus Borg: Holy Week: Palm Sunday

Tuesday April 08, 2014
I wish that all Christians knew the story of Holy Week. Indeed, I wish everybody, Christian or not, did. But Christians especially. It is the story that should shape our understanding of Jesus and thus our understanding of what it means to be Christian – of what it means to follow him, to follow 'the way' that he revealed and embodied.

Marcus Borg: Lent and the Cross

Sunday March 23, 2014
If you had asked me at the end of childhood, at age 12 or so, what this season was about, I am quite sure I would have said: Lent is about becoming intensely aware of our sinfulness and need for forgiveness, and Holy Week is about Jesus dying to pay for our sins so that we can be forgiven. In shorthand, that is the payment understanding of Jesus’s death.

Marcus Borg: Ash Wednesday: Death and Repentance

Tuesday March 04, 2014
Ash Wednesday (this year, March 5th) is the first day of the season of Lent. In liturgical churches, it begins with a vivid reminder of death. As the words 'Dust thou art and unto dust thou shalt return' are said, Christians are marked on their foreheads with ashes in the shape of the cross. The words echo language from the funeral liturgy, 'Ashes to ashes and dust to dust.'

Marcus Borg: More on Amos

Tuesday February 25, 2014
This blog supplements my previous 'Amos and American Christianity.' If you read that first, this blog will make more sense to you.

Marcus Borg: Amos and American Christianity

Tuesday February 18, 2014
I have been thinking a lot lately about what I wish every Christian knew. On my list: I wish all Christians, especially American Christians, knew the book of Amos.

Marcus Borg: The Bible and Mysticism

Tuesday February 11, 2014
I am very much enjoying and valuing the conversation about my recent blog about the Bible and what it is and is not. I am especially interested in the comments about mystical experiences and how they (or the lack of them) affect understandings of the Bible.

Marcus Borg: What the Bible Is

Wednesday February 05, 2014
In one sense, biblical inerrancy is not an issue for progressive Christians. Not affirming biblical inerrancy is one of the defining characteristics of progressive Christianity. In another sense, it is an issue. Many of us grew up with an understanding of Christianity that implicitly or explicitly affirmed that the Bible is always right.

Marcus Borg: Memories, Conversions, and Convictions

Wednesday January 29, 2014
The triad named in the title of this blog has been illuminating as I have reflected about the stages of my life as a Christian. The meaning of memories is obvious, especially our memories of growing up, going back to childhood and continuing into young adulthood and beyond.

Marcus Borg: The Cultural Captivity of Christianity: The Poisoning of the Church

Wednesday January 22, 2014
Individuals matter. It is a central affirmation of the Bible and Christianity: we all matter to God. Individuals and progress in individual rights, human rights, matter. But individualism as an ideology is quite different.

Marcus Borg: The Real War on Christmas

Monday December 23, 2013
Today’s lamentation about the war on Christmas misses the real war on Christmas. Its subversive and revolutionary meanings have been co-opted for many centuries by the Christian emphasis on sin and our need for a savior who will pay for our sins. More recently, it has been co-opted by commercialization.

Marcus Borg: The Cultural Captivity of Christianity: The Poisoning of the Church

Friday December 20, 2013
In the first third of the 300s, as the Roman emperor Constantine legalized Christianity and then became its patron, Pope Sylvester, the bishop of Rome from 314-335, had a dream. He understood it to mean, 'Now is poison poured into the church.'

Marcus Borg: Thinking About Advent

Tuesday December 17, 2013
Seeing Advent as a penitential season strikes me as unfortunate. It is the product of a seriously distorted and yet widespread understanding of Christianity: namely, that the central issue in our lives with God is our sinfulness (commonly understood as disobedience and/or failing to measure up to what God requires from us) and thus our need for repentance and forgiveness.

Marcus Borg: What Is the Gospel?

Tuesday December 10, 2013
For a number of years I have asked Christian groups what they think the Christian gospel – the 'good news' – is. I ask them to begin with memory – to think back to how they would have answered that question at the end of childhood, at age twelve or so – and in not more than a sentence. What had they absorbed by then?

Marcus Borg: What Is a Christian?

Tuesday December 03, 2013
What does it mean to be Christian? What makes a person a Christian? An important prologue: my purpose in this blog is not to provide criteria for deciding who is and who is not a Christian, not to separate sheep from goats, not to suggest who is in and who is out. Rather, it is a series of reflections about what is at the heart of being Christian. What matters most in seeing what being Christian is about?

Marcus Borg: Gratitude: One of the Most Important Virtues

Thursday November 28, 2013
This season is a fruitful time to reflect about the relationship between gratitude and thanksgiving. Sometimes they are the same, but not always.

Marcus Borg: The Real Meanings of the Cross

Tuesday November 26, 2013
I grant that there are multiple understandings of the significance of Jesus’s death, beginning with the New Testament itself. One respondent referred to eight. I do not disagree. But I think it is pedagogically helpful to reduce them to three.

Marcus Borg: Christianity Divided by the Cross

Tuesday November 19, 2013
For Christianity from its beginning, the cross has always mattered. The crucial question is: what does it mean? Why does it matter? What is its significance?

Marcus Borg: Does Christianity Have a Future?

Tuesday November 12, 2013
I have just returned from a lecture event in Houston with Joan Chittister and Dom Crossan. The theme was the same as the title of this blog. None of us tried to predict the future of Christianity, even as we all spoke about our hopes for its shape in the future.

Marcus Borg: Christianity and the Modern World-View

Tuesday November 05, 2013
'World-view' is a semi-technical term that names something we all have, whether we are conscious of it or not. It is a way of seeing reality – of what is real and what is possible. In German, where I think the notion was coined, the term is Weltanschauung – the way the world appears to us, how we think of it.

Marcus Borg: Continuing the Resurrection Conversation

Wednesday October 30, 2013
I am pleased to see that my response to Tony Jones has generated a thoughtful response from him and many thought-filled replies from others. At the risk of continuing the conversation too long, I offer the following.

Marcus Borg: Response to Tony Jones about the Resurrection

Saturday October 26, 2013
In his blog, “No, the Writers of the Bible Did Not Expect It to be Taken Literally,” Tony Jones briefly contrasts his view of the resurrection of Jesus with mine. I agree with the title of his blog, but strongly disagree with his characterization of how I see the resurrection.

Meeting Marcus Borg Again for the First Time

Tuesday October 22, 2013
I am in today’s terminology a progressive Christian and, except for about a decade in my 30s, I have been deeply involved in the life of the church all of my seventy years

David Crumm Interviews Marcus Borg on His New Reorganized New Testament

Saturday November 03, 2012
Marcus Borg's newest book is unusual: It’s not so much a book about the Bible as it is an actual Bible as reorganized by Borg to present the New Testament books in the order that the ancient world first received them. Here's David Crumm's interview with the renowned scholar.

David Crumm Interviews Marcus Borg on "Speaking Christian"

Saturday July 16, 2011
Marcus Borg’s latest book ranks with his earlier volumes, The Heart of Christianity and Embracing an Adult Faith, as inspirational efforts to renew and rebuild Christianity by healing long-standing wounds and welcoming millions of alienated men and women. David Crumm of ReadtheSpirit.com interviews Borg.

Dr. Marcus J. Borg: The Only Way

Friday May 06, 2011
In this final excerpt from his new book "Speaking Christian," Dr. Marcus J. Borg takes on the concept of Jesus as the "only way" to God: "There is a way of understanding the claim of John 14:6 that does not involve Christian exclusivism."

Dr. Marcus J. Borg: On Being "Born Again"

Friday April 29, 2011
In the third excerpt from his new book "Speaking Christian," Dr. Marcus Borg writes, "The negative associations of 'born again' are unfortunate. They eclipse and obscure its rich biblical meaning. Not only rich, but important. Being 'born again' is a powerful metaphor for the transformation at the center of the Christian life."

Dr. Marcus J. Borg: On John 3:16

Friday April 22, 2011
In the second excerpt from his new book "Speaking Christian," Dr. Marcus Borg tackles John 3:16: "this verse is not about believing a set of statements about Jesus now for the sake of heaven later. It is about beloving Jesus and beloving God as known in Jesus, in the incarnation, and entering into 'the life of the age to come' now."

Dr. Marcus J. Borg: "Speaking Christian": A Word of Introduction

Friday April 15, 2011
In the first excerpt from his new book "Speaking Christian," Marcus Borg posits: "'Speaking Christian,' by which I mean knowing and understanding Christian language, is in a state of crisis in North America today."

Dr. Marcus Borg: Putting Away Childish Things (Excerpt 3)

Wednesday June 30, 2010
In this final excerpt from Dr. Marcus Borg's new novel, "Putting Away Childish Things," popular religion professor Kate talks with Erin, one of her students who is struggling with maintaining a literalist faith after all she's learned.

Dr. Marcus Borg: Putting Away Childish Things (Excerpt 2)

Wednesday June 23, 2010
In the second excerpt from Marcus Borg's new novel, "Putting Away Childish Things," we meet Martin, a professor at Scudder Theological Seminary, as he experiences a choral concert that sets him musing on his past--and his future.

Dr. Marcus Borg: Putting Away Childish Things (Excerpt 1)

Wednesday June 16, 2010
In this first excerpt from Marcus Borg's new novel, "Putting Away Childish Things," we meet Kate, a popular religion professor at a liberal arts college in a small midwestern town, and catch a glimpse of one of her religion classes.

Video by Dr. Marcus J. Borg

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Dr. Marcus Borg - Day1 Conversations with Peter Wallace

Thursday February 24, 2011
Distinguished author, professor and theologian Marcus Borg sits down with Day1 host Peter Wallace for a wide ranging discussion on the state of the modern church, the prospects and expectations he has for the future, and his current and upcoming writings. Join us for a conversation and a message of hope.

What's Christianity All About? - A Sermon by Dr. Marcus Borg

Thursday February 17, 2011
Dr. Marcus Borg joins Day1 with an important message attempting to answer the age old question: What's Christianity All About?