Saturday, February 14, 2009

Christianity and Borgism

Marcus Borg’s well-written, thoughtful book The Heart of Christianity has become a manifesto of sorts for progressive Christians of the postmodern age. When I finished reading it, I found myself asking the question, What’s new? Universalism isn’t. Neither is pantheism. Or Arianism. And there have always been those who denied the divine origin of Scripture.

Cutting the doctrinal heart out of the Christian faith and still insisting on calling it Christian is also not new. In 1923, J. Gresham Machen published his classic polemical work Christianity and Liberalism in which he argued that there is so much difference between orthodox Christianity and modern liberal Christianity that they are, in fact, two different religions. The same applies to traditional Christianity and Borg’s faith, which he calls the earlier and emerging paradigms, respectively. In my mind, the differences are so vast that they are two different faiths, despite their common heritage, vocabulary, and liturgies. Truth in advertising would seem to require a different name for this newer faith. Borgism, anyone?

1 comment:

  1. Ah ha! You read it! Travis, that says a lot to me about your willingness to define your own faith yet dialog with other perspectives.

    As someone who is passionate about history and highly values the history of the church in particular, it feels uncomfortable to me, too, to acknowledge that much of what we call "traditional Christianity" is our human understanding of God, with historical constructs nailed down as foundation, then cultural (and who knows what else) accoutrements decorating said understanding until it becomes an unmovable shrine.

    That being said, I don't think everything traditional about our faith is passe; you need only attend worship at Calvary to know that. However, I do think that God is always doing a new thing, so we must continually walk the line between the safety of the familiar and the possibility of something new. This is in no way comfortable, ever. But, let's be honest: the guaranteed, codified, broken down, and comfortably familiar often is very often devoid of God altogether.