Speaking Christian by Marcus Borg


Marcus Borg is Canon theologian at Trinity Episcopal Cathedral in Portland, Oregon. Borg is the author of many books including the best-selling ,the Heart of Christianity, Meeting Jesus again for the first time, putting away childish things. 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.

The book, Speaking Christian, represents New Testament scholar Marcus Borg's attempt at cultural linguistic theology. Borg writes that in America,"for many, an increasing number, Christianity has become an unfamiliar language."Even for those who speak Christian fluently, they often misunderstood much of the language. In Speaking Christian, Borg provides a primer to help correct misunderstandings and help those unfamiliar with Christian language to become fluent.

Borg critiques two understandings of Christian language and seeks to correct them. First, he takes the "heaven and hell framework," which boils Christian language down to issues concerning "the afterlife, and forgiveness, Jesus died for our sins and believing" Borg Borg writes that this heaven and hell framework has become a stumbling block for many in the modern world. Instead of replacing the language of Christian faith, Borg seeks to redeem it, helping people understand "their Bibical and traditional meanings."

Secondly, Borg critiques a literal understanding of language. He also critiques those who insist upon an inerent infallible Bible, but also those who hold to a soft literalism. The writer calls for a historical/metaphorical approach to the Bible..The writers of the Bible use multiple metaphors to discuss salvation, and to a liberation from economic, political, and religious bondage, returning from exile, rescue, and healing. The writers also discusses salvation not only in individual terms, but also in political/communal terms.

Borg writes that taking the Bible literally often leads to fundamentalism and rigidity in matters of religion. He writes that much of the Scripture is not factual but rather metaphorical and is to open it up to a more and deeper and richer meaning of the Scripture. For some time now much of the Scripture has been taken literally and as factual in order to make it fit into the heaven and hell Christianity. However, as more and more people question and doubt the heaven and hell Christianity, this book offers a wonderful new way to understand religious language like Savior, salvation, redemption, liberation, sin, Jesus and atonement, and many other religious terms and words. He gives the original meaning of these words which opens up our minds and hearts to a whole new understanding of religious language.

Borg teaches us how to read, hear, and reflect on Christian language without preconceived ideas getting in the way. In Speaking Christian, Borg redeems the language of Christianity by restoring its power to enlighten us and transform the world.

I highly recommend this book to people who rely on Scripture and commonly used Christian words in order to gain new insight for living out biblical faith.