A Tribute to Marcus Borg – What Christianity is all about!
Recently I have taken up jogging, as part of a training program to get fit for a mini triathlon, and I do say mini triathlon. Now don’t laugh, as I certainly don’t look like a jogger. In fact a friend send me a Facebook message asking whether I still had the unique ability to jog yet do it at a walking pace. Mmmm, maybe! Yet I also see it is a way to change my outlook on life, improve my health, make some new friends and join a community of women all wanting to do the same thing. It’s not going to be easy, its part joy, part pain, which I have discovered already. Sweat and stiches, snail pace and blisters. A book I brought many, many years ago, and which I recently discovered, actually says it better than me. It called the Zen of running. “Running is not all ecstasy, all positive. Sometimes running is suffering intentionally for the sake of seeing, sometimes running is resisting and suffering unintentionally because we are human beings”. Let’s not make our running a fantasy, let’s let our running be real”
Let’s let our running be real.
Let’s let our Christianity be real.
On Friday we heard that Marcus Borg had died at the age of 72. For those who don’t know him, he was a prominent progressive liberal theologian and New Testament scholar, a member of the Jesus seminar looking for the historical Jesus, an incredible writer, and speaker, and above all a man of faith. He brought to his understanding of God and of Jesus eyes that were opened to the myth and poetry in the bible, and the history in the time of Jesus and of the following church. He presented to his many readers and listeners a faith story that could be discerned with 21st century eyes instead of 1st.
While he worked his entire life within different universities he was one of a few scholars in the 1980’s who wanted the research going on in these universities to spread to the mainstream Christian. So he started to write. I would have many of his books on my shelf at home. In all of them he gives us a Jesus far more political and socially active than is expected. He gives us a Jesus with heart, and with determination, who spoke in parables, who ultimately suffered a horrible death, but who reveals more deeply than anything the divine nature of God. A God of compassion and love, a God of justice and peace. What God, found within all of humanity, is calling us to be. Marcus Borg gave us a Jesus who could be and still is real to us.
So in pondering today’s sermon, I have decided that in order to honour Marcus Borg properly I will let him speak…
So I would like to play a sermon given by him, entitled “What Christianity is all about”. It’s found at this address.
Transformation, life giving transformation to a way of life that is loving. That’s what Christianity is about for Marcus Borg. Not creeds, or dogmas, or rules. A Christianity in the image of Jesus life and teachings rather than in some other time and place. And as in running or jogging in my case, it is not always easy, but there is as much joy as pain in the quest. As Jesus said to his disciples in Galilee, come follow me. And proclaim the good news of God’s love, discovering a richer larger life in the process.
It is this form of Christianity that we should be shouting about from the roof tops. Instead the church dithers, and quite often, as Borg suggests, argues about things we couldn’t possible know.
So as my heart is saddened at the loss of this most humble but influential voice I will finish by quoting from his final book, called convictions which grew from the sermon you just heard. He ends both the sermon and the book with these words,
“Imagine that Christianity is about loving God. Imagine that it’s not about the self and it’s concerns, about “whats in it for me”, whether that be a blessed afterlife or prosperity in this life. Imagine that loving God is being attentive to the one in whom we live and move and have our being. Imagine that it is about becoming more and more deeply centrered in God. Imagine that it is about loving what God loves. Imagine how that would change our lives. Imagine how it would change American (Australian) Christianity and its relation to American (Australian) politics and economics and our relationship to the rest of the world. Imagine how it would change our vision of what this world, the humanly created world, might, could, and should be like ”
Marcus Borg points the way forward for those of us wanting a faith that we can live here and now. And he will always do so, for his books and talks will remain even if he has gone.