St. Mark’s Adult Education Meeting Summary
Session Seven: The Meaning of Jesus: Two Visions
By Marcus Borg and N.T. Wright
Sunday, February 22, 2004
Part seven, entitled “He Will Come Again In Glory,” dealt with the anticipated second coming of Christ. One observation was that in Borg’s analysis of this topic, he stayed within the bounds of our physical world with his feet solidly planted there. Wright, on the other hand, gave his explanation in more of a “fantasy world” setting based upon the emergence of a new, perfect heaven and earth. Jesus becomes “king” of sorts of the new earth. It becomes somewhat problematic in a couple of areas. One, is that of the Trinity. Does Jesus come forth as the superior being? Also, does this imply that earth that God created (“… and it was good.”) is really “not good?” There are also implications that heaven and hell are “holding places.” However, it was questioned as to what type of beings were residing there.
Both authors seemed to agree with the earlier interpretations of the Bible in that one could not take it literally, line by line and as such moved away from believing in exact interpretation. People have come to realize that the world we live in is God’s creation and that it will not be discarded. There is perfection in our existing world. The new Christian teachings were in contrast to those supported by the pagans and Hellenists, in that Christianity focused on the goodness of God’s existing creations. There have been numerous groups over the years that have predicted the exact time as to the second coming of Christ. Even Paul thought that it would be “any day now.” Those who have already died and believed would be raised from the dead. Many people thought the world was coming to an end at the turn of the first century and during the collapse of the Roman Empire. Jesus, himself said, “Only the Father knows.” Thus, how is it that a number of humans have thought they knew this answer?
It was noted that Borg raised the question about “evil” and creation. He maintained that evil was not a necessary part of creation, but are not evil and death part of “everything?” One of our modern day scientists has predicted that based upon recent data from the Hubbell spacecraft the universe will last for thirty billion years, but what is the meaning of time to God? Borg explained that the world is made up of the physical beings (“this”) but also something beyond that (“more than this”). People have tried to make the Bible into both a science book and history book, and it is “more” than that. It was noted that the major cultures of the world all seem to need a god beyond what they can sense here on earth. Some groups, for example, have explained away various diseases as God’s punishment for the past wrongdoings of that individual. Borg also noted that there will be no “second coming” and that it has already occurred. He pointed out that if he did come again, where would he come and to what group of people? Of course one other answer may be that why couldn’t he come everywhere at once. However, that may lead us to believe that God is some type of “magician,” and the real answer may be that none of us understand him well enough to know predict what may happen in the future, even though many have tried. Usually, in those cases, the predictions tell more about the point of view of the person or persons more than anything else.
There are some modern day prophets in the world today who try and predict what life will be like in the future. This is especially true in the “G-N-A” fields (genetics, nano-technology, and robotics). Some authors have written how these technologies may get out of hand and have a drastic negative impact on the human species. Finally, in conclusion, Borg believes that the early Christians were wrong about the second coming and that Christ is already here among us all today.