Sunday, Apr 17, 2005: “The Heart of Christianity… Chapters 4 and 5”

St. Mark’s Adult Education Meeting Summary
The Heart of Christianity: Rediscovering a Life of Faith, by Marcus Borg
Preface and Chapters 4 and 5:
“God: The Heart of Reality” and
“Jesus: The Heart of God”
>  Learn more about Marcus Borg:  click HERE

Discussion Led By Mike Kreutzer
Sunday, April 17, 2005



The Heart of Christianity: Rediscovering a Life of Faith by Marcus Borg
(San Francisco: HarperCollins, 2004)

Session 3, April 17 and 20, 2005

Chapter Four — God: The Heart of Reality

63-64 Two Kinds of Worldviews
(1) “In a religious worldview, there is…, a ‘More.'”
(2) “In a nonreligious worldview, there is no ‘More.’ There is only ‘this’ – the space-time world of matter and energy and whatever other natural forces lie behind or beyond it.”

“Most Christians basically accept the modern world view image of reality and then add God onto it… God becomes a supernatural being ‘out there’ who created a universe from which God is normally absent.”

data “suggestive” of the reality of God: “the collective witness and wisdom of the world’s religions…, the data of religious experience…, the provocative affirmations of postmodern science, especially postmodern physics.”

65-66 Two Concepts of God

“Supernatural theism imagines God as a personlike being.”

“Panentheism…, imagines God and the God-world relationship differently… Rather than imagining God as a personlike being ‘out there,’ this concept imagines God as the encompassing Spirit in which all that is is. The universe is not separate from God, but in God.”

69 Paul Tillich: “if, when you think of the word ‘God,’ you are thinking of a reality that may or may not exist, you are not thinking of God.”

“The word ‘God’ is the most common Western name for ‘what is,’ for ‘ultimate reality,’ for ‘the ground of being,’ for ‘Being itself,’ for ‘isness.'”

72 “God has more the quality of a ‘presence’ than of a nonpersonal ‘energy’ or ‘force.'”

74 The Character of God; two different approaches
(1) “God is a God of requirements and rewards.”
(2) “God as a God of love and justice.”

77 “unconditional grace is not about the afterlife, but the basis for our relationship with God in this life… it’s about seeing what is already true – that God loves us already – and then beginning to live in this relationship.”

Chapter Five — Jesus: The Heart of God

80 “one of the defining characteristics of Christianity is that we find the revelation of God primarily in a person.”

81 “The emerging paradigm affirms the decisive centrality of Jesus, even as it sees Jesus quite differently than the earlier paradigm does. Its historical, metaphorical, and sacramental approach leads to ‘seeing Jesus again,’ just as it leads to seeing the Bible and God again.”

81-91 five major reasons why “seeing Jesus again” matters:
1) “the earlier image of Jesus and the image of the Christian life that goes with it have become unpersuasive to millions of people in the last century.”
2) “the important distinction between the pre-Easter Jesus and the post-Easter Jesus”
3) “it helps to see the nature of the gospels and thus to understand them better.” (the product of a developing tradition; combine memory and metaphor; helps us to see rich meanings in the text that a literal reading misses)
4) “it helps us to see the meaning of our Christological language” (the language is post-Easter; the language is metaphorical; it is a language of confession and commitment)
5) “because Jesus is for us as Christians the decisive revelation of what a life full of God looks like, what we can glimpse of the pre-Easter Jesus matters.” (Jesus was a Jewish mystic, a healer, a wisdom teacher, a social prophet and a movement initiator)

91-96 New Testament interpretations of the cross
1) rejection and vindication
2) “the defeat of the powers”
3) the revelation of “the way”
4) revelation of the depths of God’s love for us
5) “died for our sins”

96 Jesus as Metaphor and Sacrament of God
96 “Jesus discloses what God is like. We see God through Jesus.”
97 “a sacrament of God, a means through whom the Spirit of God becomes present.”

98-99 “the purpose of the church, of Christology, of the creed is to point us to Jesus. And then Jesus says, ‘It’s not about me.’ He points beyond himself to God – to God’s character and passion. This is the meaning of our Christological language and our creedal affirmations about Jesus: in this person we see the revelation of God, the heart of God. He is both metaphor and sacrament of God.”