Tuesday, January 04, 2005

The Heart of Christianity

Marcus J. Borg, The Heart of Christianity
Is a Cadillac transmission a Cadillac CTS? No, of course not--that's confusing parts and wholes. What if we add axles and an engine? Still no? How about wheels, tires, a body, and perhaps an exhaust manifold? Is it a CTS yet? Or maybe we should reverse the situation--take a CTS and begin stripping parts away, one at a time. When does it become something less--a not-CTS?

If you're like most, you have trouble defining an bright line, and willingly leave such petty debates where they belong: in college bull sessions and rest-stop bathroom stalls. But the larger issue--what "is," and what "isn't"--is a matter of urgency for Marcus J. Borg, who wants to reclaim Christianity from fundamentalists of every stripe.

Borg's work is an attempt to reduce Christianity to its ontological minimum, to tear away the inessentials while (hopefully) maintaining its identity as a unique belief system. He is not likely to sway many fundamentalists; he advocates panentheism, calls Jesus a "metaphor for God," affirms the basic validity of multiple religious viewpoints, and favorably quotes John Dominic Crossan, among other things.

Borg is most provocative, though, when discussing the meanings of the word "faith," which are crammed (by both fundamentalists and strong atheists) into one connotation: assent to specific propositions, denoted by the Latin word assensus. Borg claims that actual faith rests more on fiducias (trust in God), fidelitas (faithfulness to God), and visio (faith as a different way of seeing the world).

Even if you automatically discount Christian liberalism, Borg's book is useful as a concise statement of the "new paradigm."


Anonymous Anonymous said...


4:25 PM  
Blogger Jim said...

I'm curious, Anonymous, why you posted the link. I'm familiar with the site (a portal to atheism and agnosticism that I breeze by every now and then).

9:09 PM  

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