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Speaking Christian: Why Christian Words Have…
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Speaking Christian: Why Christian Words Have Lost Their Meaning and Power… (2011 original; edició 2011)

de Marcus J. Borg

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Asserts that a failure to understand Christian words and phrases has lead to the religion losing much of its meaning, and offers a path back to a true understanding of Christianity.
Títol:Speaking Christian: Why Christian Words Have Lost Their Meaning and Power - And How They Can Be Restored
Autors:Marcus J. Borg
Informació:HarperOne, Hardcover, 256 pages
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Speaking Christian: Why Christian Words Have Lost Their Meaning and Power - And How They Can Be Restored de Marcus J. Borg (2011)

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In this book, Borg goes through a number of key Christian concepts and explains what they mean from a perspective that is not the heaven-and-hell Christianity that is so common today (especially in the US). The approach he takes to reading is to create a historical-metaphorical understanding of these key concepts. It's important to understand what this does and does not entail. This approach does not entail applying modern ideas or morals on top of Christian ideas. It does not entail watering down the Bible or reading it selectively.

Rather, what it entails is two-fold: first, Borg takes a historical perspective on these concepts. He asks the question, "What did these words mean in and for the ancient communities that used them? What did they mean for their 'then'?" and from this, he asks "Given what their words meant for their then, what might their meaning be for our now?" Key in this method of understanding the Bible is that what something means for "their then" need not be the same thing it means to "our now". However, we should not project the understanding of "our now" onto "their then".

Second, it is a metaphorical understanding. This is the fairly straightforward idea that much -- probably most -- of the language of the Bible was meant to be read metaphorically, not literally. Biblical literalism -- and the idea that most texts should be taken as bare factual "newspaper" writing -- is a modern invention which can interfere with our ability to read older texts such as the Bible.

From this foundation, Borg discusses many different concepts. He uses an almost formulaic 1 chapter per 1-2 concept organization. My one criticism of the book is that there are some obvious thematic elements throughout which Borg pulls together occasionally (including at the end) but which could be woven more strongly into a biblically sound progressive Christianity.

Instead of going through the many concepts discussed, I'll focus on that theme. The common theme throughout is that the language of the Bible, both Old Testament and New points toward societal transformation, not individual salvation. However one conceives of God, the message of the Christian language is that God's vision is for a world where there are distributional justice and peace.

If you're used to a heaven-and-hell Christianity, this may sound like a stretch. For example, didn't Jesus die for our sins? How is that not about individual salvation and the afterlife? One of the things that pleasantly surprised me about this book is that Borg was able to make the argument that the broad message of biblical Christianity and many of the specifics that seem to point toward individual salvation are all focused on societal concerns. While it's true that his job was made easier because he sees the Bible as the record of the one tradition's understanding of God rather than as a literal divine revelation, he still takes the Bible as the foundation of his definitions.

This book is an engaging read for anyone, Christian or not, who cares about the monopoly that literalistic Christianity has over moral discourse in the US. ( )
  eri_kars | Jul 10, 2022 |
An exceptionally insightful look at how the meaning of common Christian words like mercy have changed over the centuries. Borg does a great job of explaining how the Christian church was once an agent of change for the oppressed but later was attached to empires.

( )
  Bookjoy144 | Mar 2, 2022 |
An old book but one I needed; it is easy to forget what you have known, what you have read previously.
  Elizabeth80 | May 21, 2021 |
Reading this book confirms for me that Marcus Borg is possibly my favorite heretic. Don't get me wrong, I don't think he says anything particularly new; his theology is a blend of Schleiermacher subjectivity and Bultmann's de-mythologizing. He denies that Jesus was God pre-Easter (though there is a certain vagueness which makes me unsure if he is an Adoptionist), any substitutionary understanding of Christ's death, the Resurrection, the Ascension, the Second Coming, the Trinity. And yet, he feels that his theological home is Christianity. You may be wondering, if he doesn't believe any of these things can he be called a Christian? Well to answer that question, he wrote a book where he redefines and appropriates Christian language.

Actually he makes some good points. Borg has two axes to grind here. One is the way in which he tries to redeem Christian language from two errors. First, there is the Heaven-and-Hell framework which construes Christianity to be about what happens to you when you die. The other is an overly literal interpretation of the Bible.

I think he is right that Christians have, quite often made the faith about believing the right stuff so that you go to heaven when you die, without enough emphasis on how you live now, so I appreciate the critique.

I disagree with his critique on the literal interpretation, precisely because what he means is that the supernatural elements of Jesus life (i.e. miracles, resurrection ,ascension) didn't happen, but that we must probe these events for what they mean. I agree with some of his evocative readings, but do not share his historical literal suspicion.

Where I think Borg is golden is in his description of lived faith. He appropriately probes the meaning of belief in the Christian sense as not merely assent to doctrine, but something more akin to 'I give my heart to.' He explores a full orbed meaning of salvation which includes wholeness, health and liberation and rescue. He examines the human condition and has some good words to say on the Lord's prayer.

So while I can't really endorse this book or offer my hearty recommendation, I enjoyed it and found it edifying (in pieces). ( )
  Jamichuk | May 22, 2017 |
Excellent. ( )
  aegossman | Feb 25, 2015 |
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Asserts that a failure to understand Christian words and phrases has lead to the religion losing much of its meaning, and offers a path back to a true understanding of Christianity.

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