Why Christian Words Have Lost Their Meaning and Power—And How They Can Be Restored
By Marcus J. Borg
(HarperOne, Hardcover, 9780061976551, 256pp.)
Publication Date: April 2011
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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 Christianitys 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 Jesuss 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.
MARCUS J. BORG is canon theologian at Trinity Episcopal Cathedral in Portland, Oregon, and Hundere Distinguished Professor of Religion and Culture, emeritus, at Oregon State University. A Fellow of the Jesus Seminar, Borg has been national chair of the Historical Jesus section of the Society of Biblical Literature and is the author of the bestselling books Meeting Jesus Again for the First Time, The Heart of Christianity, Jesus, and Speaking Christian. Visit Borg online at www.marcusjborg.com.
“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.”
-Anne Sutherland Howard, Executive Director of The Beatitudes Society
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.”
-Read the Spirit
“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.”
-Englewood Review of Books