Speaking Christian: Why Christian Words Have Lost Their Meaning and Power--and How They Can Be Restored  -     By: Marcus J. Borg
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Speaking Christian: Why Christian Words Have Lost Their Meaning and Power--and How They Can Be Restored

HarperOne / 2012 / Paperback

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* Has the meaning of the Christian lexicon been distorted over the centuries? Using a historical-metaphorical approach, Borg explores words such as salvation, redemption, and other terms to put them in historical context; shows how literalism has impoverished the biblical text; and calls for a revolutionary change in how we understand the church's most cherished words. 256 pages, softcover from HarperOne.

Product Information

Format: Paperback
Number of Pages: 256
Vendor: HarperOne
Publication Date: 2012
Dimensions: 7.17 X 4.71 (inches)
ISBN: 006197658X
ISBN-13: 9780061976582
Availability: In Stock

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Publisher's Description

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.

Author Bio

Marcus J. Borg is canon theologian at Trinity Episcopal Cathedral in Portland, Oregon, and was Hundere Distinguished Professor of Religion and Culture at Oregon State University. Described by the New York Times as "a leading figure in his generation of Jesus scholars," he has appeared on NBC's The Today Show and Dateline, ABC's World News, and NPR's Fresh Air. He is the author of the bestselling books Meeting Jesus Again for the First Time, The Heart of Christianity, Reading the Bible Again for the First Time, The God We Never Knew, Jesus, Speaking Christian, and The Evolution of the Word. His blog appears on the Progressive Christian Channel of Patheos.com.

Editorial Reviews

“This book could start a revolution. Borg cracks open the encrusted words of faith and pops them into fresh language that people can understand and trust. The last time this happened, we got the Reformation.”
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.”

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  1. Rock Falls, Il.
    Age: 55-65
    Gender: male
    5 Stars Out Of 5
    Very thought provoking & interesting.
    February 8, 2012
    Caretaker
    Rock Falls, Il.
    Age: 55-65
    Gender: male
    Quality: 5
    Value: 5
    Meets Expectations: 5
    This review was written for Speaking Christian.
    "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.
  2. San Diego, Ca
    Age: 55-65
    Gender: male
    5 Stars Out Of 5
    From the position of a Progressive Christian, and
    September 1, 2011
    Adam
    San Diego, Ca
    Age: 55-65
    Gender: male
    Quality: 5
    Value: 5
    Meets Expectations: 5
    This review was written for Speaking Christian.
    From 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.
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