Speaking Christian: Why Christian Words Have Lost Their Meaning and Power--and How They Can Be Restored
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Number of Pages: 256
Publication Date: 2012
|Dimensions: 7.17 X 4.71 (inches)|
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Modern Christians are steeped in a language so distorted that it has become a stumbling block to the religion, says internationally renowned Bible scholar Marcus J. Borg. Borg argues that Christianity’s important words, and the sacred texts and stories in which those words are embedded, have been narrowed by a modern framework for the faith that emphasizes sin, forgiveness, Jesus dying for our sins, and the afterlife. Here, Borg employs the “historical-metaphorical” method for understanding Christian language that can restore for us these words of power and transformation. For example,
- Redemption: now narrowly understood as Jesus saving us from sins so we can go to heaven, but in the Bible it refers to being set free from slavery.
- Savior: now refers to Jesus as the one who saves us from our sins, but in the Bible it has a rich and wonderful variety of meanings having nothing to do with the afterlife.
- Sacrifice: now refers to Jesus’s death on the cross as payment for our sins, but in the Bible it is never about substitutionary payment for sin.
In Speaking Christian, Borg delivers a language for twenty-first-century Christians that grounds the faith in its deep and rich original roots and allows it once again to transform our lives.
Marcus J. Borg (1942–2015) was a pioneering author and teacher whom the New York Times described as "a leading figure in his generation of Jesus scholars." He was the Hundere Distinguished Professor of Religion and Culture at Oregon State University and canon theologian at Trinity Episcopal Cathedral in Portland, and he appeared on NBC's The Today Show and Dateline, ABC's World News, and NPR's Fresh Air. His books have sold over a million copies, including the bestselling Meeting Jesus Again for the First Time, Reading the Bible Again for the First Time, Jesus, The Heart of Christianity, Evolution of the Word, Speaking Christian, and Convictions.
Speaking Christian correctly may seem like it’s just a fuss over semantics, but it’s ultimately about something bigger: defining Christianity… When Christians forget what their words mean, they forget what their faith means.
“Ranks with his earlier volumes as efforts to renew and rebuild Christianity by healing long-standing wounds and welcoming millions of alienated men and women.”
“A primer to help correct misunderstandings and help those unfamiliar with Christian language become fluent. . . . An important figure on topics from the historical Jesus to religion and culture, he challenges Christians to live for God’s justice in the world and not just focus on the next world.”
CaretakerRock Falls, Il.Age: 55-65Gender: male5 Stars Out Of 5Very thought provoking & interesting.February 8, 2012CaretakerRock Falls, Il.Age: 55-65Gender: maleQuality: 5Value: 5Meets Expectations: 5"Speaking Christian" is an excellent book. Borg keeps you thinking of many possibilities & meanings of Jesus & His ministry & how we have changed the meaning of so many biblical words. We used this book as our textbook in our religion course, "Diakonia" & it served us well. I had trouble putting it down when I was reading it.
AdamSan Diego, CaAge: 55-65Gender: male5 Stars Out Of 5From the position of a Progressive Christian, andSeptember 1, 2011AdamSan Diego, CaAge: 55-65Gender: maleQuality: 5Value: 5Meets Expectations: 5From the position of a Progressive Christian, and noted biblical scholar, Borg deals with what he believes to be the most important areas of scripture as they relate to what he calls the "literalization" of language that has taken place in the modern period. He points to the interpretation of Christian language within a framework he calls "heaven and hell" Christianity.
Borg writes, "About half (maybe more) of American Christians believe that biblical language is to be
understood literally within a heaven-and -hell framework that emphasizes the afterlife, sin and forgiveness, Jesus dying for our sins, and believing. The other half (maybe less) puzzle over and have problems with this. Some have moved on to another understanding of Christian language. The differences are so sharp that they virtually produce two different religions, both using the same Bible and the same language" (pg 2). Borg further states in the introduction that "The book's purpose is to redeem or reclaim Christian language in all of its richness and wisdom." What does that look like? Borg takes careful aim at what he calls "heaven and hell " Christians when he says, "To redeem means to set free from slavery, bondage, captivity; it is not about being saved from our sins. In this sense, Christian language needs to be redeemed-to be set free from its captivity to contemporary literalism and the heaven-and-hell Christian framework"(pg 2 intro). Again Borg states his book's purpose telling us that "This book's purpose is to help us to read, hear, and inwardly digest Christian language without preconceived understandings getting in the way. It is about learning to read and hear the language of our faith again."
Borg packages his book to include the key focal points of Christianity through a lens that re-assigns
literal interpretation of scripture to a broader more inclusive framework. This is carried out to the jubilation of Christians that don't hold to the same criteria of truth that many mainline Christians do.
On the other side, what Borg calls "heaven and hell" Christians would say that he is creating his own labels on sacred scriptural truth and in the process has "moved the goal posts" of what Christianity is about. Which ever side you land on, Borg's scholarly review of the topic, and his insightful treatment of "sacred cows" facilitates healthy discussion on what it means to be Christian in the modern era.