"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.
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.