Marcus Borg, mentor to C. Joseph Sprague, will take the pulpit
for worship services at FUMC Downers Grove in November. Borg, a
top name in the Jesus Seminar, commandeers the moniker "christian,"
but he actually classifies himself as a panentheist. As you can
read below, he uses the Bible, not as the Word of God, but rather
as a philosophy student uses ancient books of mythology. Borg
denounces the doctrine and beliefs of the United Methodist Church
(as well as those of every truly Christian church). This man is
everything which the Bible teaches us to remove from our midst. We
are warned of his kind of false teaching in the Bible in more ways
than we are warned of those who teach witchcraft and sorcery.
Would we sit idly by if one who practices witchcraft were to
"preach a sermon" in our church? If not, then why would we watch a
false teacher of the sorts of Borg "preach" while we do nothing?
If you noticed the announcement of the NICEA "Meeting Jesus
Again" in the UMReporter this past week
couldn't have missed the announcement of Marcus Borg at Downers
Grove, just below the NICEA announcement:
Read below the beliefs of Borg, and you will hear a heretical
philosophy. If any candidate for the ministry in the UMC espoused
in the ordination process any of this philosophy, which
consistently denounces UMC doctrine, that candidate would be
dismissed from the process. And yet, this heresy is to be preached
from the pulpit in a conference church?!
Let us pray: Where, oh Lord, is the shepherd of your flock here
in the NIC? You have shown us, Lord, that C. Joseph Sprague is NOT
your follower, and we will NOT follow him; and so we search, Lord,
for the defender of the faith in the NIC. Who, Lord, will lead
your children away from the false teacher who will preach in Your
house in Downers Grove in November?
Background profile on Marcus Borg
Marcus Borg, one of the Jesus Seminar's founders, is frank
about what he does NOT believe. Borg does not believe Jesus was
born of a virgin, walked on water, multiplied loaves of bread,
performed any miracle other than "healing," ever claimed any
divinity for himself or sonship with God, ever claimed his death
would be a sacrifice for the world's sins, or ever physically
rose from the dead.
Similarly, Borg does not believe in the miracles recorded in
the Old Testament, such as the parting of the Red Sea, because
he rejects notions of an "interventionist" God. Although he does
not believe God answers prayer, Borg does think prayer can be
therapeutic for its own sake.
According to Borg, the Bible was not in any way divinely
inspired and is completely a human creation. Not surprisingly,
he does not believe in an afterlife and thinks Christians are
wrong to focus on it. Borg does not believe Christianity is in
any way more true or preferable to any other religion, and
expects the Christian faith eventually to fade away either into
an obscure sect or complete oblivion.
He professes not to believe in any firm or unchanging
standard of truth, as all perceptions of truth are culturally
relative. He makes it clear that he does not believe in a
creator God or even a personal God, both concepts being more
suitable for children who lack "critical thinking" than for
What does Borg believe? Borg believes Jesus was a Jewish
mystic, spirit person, and social prophet, who, like the Buddha,
experienced altered states of consciousness and "shamanic
journeys." Jesus was killed for politically opposing the
"domination system" of his day.
The early church, Borg believes, elevated the "post-Easter"
Jesus to the exalted titles of Lord, King, Savior and divine Son
merely to express a personal faith and sense of spiritual
community, and did not intend these concepts to be literally
Borg believes everything is a part of God, and God is part of
everything. For this reason, Borg calls himself a "panentheist"
who rejects the "supernatural theism" of traditional
He believes mainline churches have declined because most
people cannot any longer believe in "literal" versions of
Christianity. Although Borg cannot believe in divine miracles,
he does believe in "paranormal healings," visions, and altered
states of consciousness.
He believes the church, instead of focusing on its concepts
of personal "sin," should combat the political and economic
systems he believes are at fault for the world's misery. Borg
believes that Christianity's symbols and language are a useful
"lens" through which to view life, so long as we do not take
Christianity's teachings too literally.
Borg calls for a "revisioning" of Christian theology. He
would like to discard the "older understanding" of the faith
reflected in the Nicene Creed. He would drop the "moralistic"
warnings about sin, the call for persons to seek forgiveness,
the proclamation of Christ as the only author of redemption, and
the promise of eternal life for Christian believers.
Borg urges moving beyond "fact fundamentalism" and suggests
accepting that Bible stories can be true without being literally
true. "We need to be clear and candid," Borg says. "The Bible is
a human product." Ascribing it to divine inspiration leads to
He recalls that he once believed in the Christmas story as
literally involving a virgin birth, a "magic star," and Wise Men
with gifts. He did so because he lacked the "mental equipment"
at that age to think otherwise. Most people develop the ability
for critical thinking in late adolescence, he noted.
"Fundamentalists" reject this route and instead uncritically
cling to stories of Noah and the Garden of Eden. But maturity
involves moving into "post-critical" thinking so as to accept
Bible stories as not factual but still spiritually true in some
mystical way, Borg affirms.
He relates that his own spiritual development has rejected
"supernatural theism" altogether in favor of panentheism. The
former hails God as creator of the universe, while the latter
sees the universe as literally part of God. Borg says the old
supernatural theism, which described God as separate from the
universe and occasionally intervening in it, made God "remote
and irrelevant." But panentheism recognizes that "we and
everything that is are in God. God is not something else. God is
right here and all around us. We are within God."
Panentheism, Borg claimed, is very "ancient" and was a
"foundational element in the Christian tradition." This
panentheism allows us to pray to a "reality that is all around
us," Borg affirms. "The best way to refer to God is You, the You
who is right here." Borg calls himself a "happy agnostic"
regarding life after death. "Salvation is something that happens
in this life."
According to Borg, "I don't think God cares if we're
Christian or Muslim or Buddhist or something not yet born. We're
not talking about a divine requirement that we be Christian."
Borg distinguishes between the pre-Easter and the post-Easter
Jesus. The pre-Easter man was simply a great historical figure
who fought for social justice. But the post-Easter figure, which
the early church developed in its traditions, became a divine
miracle-worker who was raised from the dead. Borg said Jesus
could be viewed as the "decisive disclosure of God" without
having to say he's the "only one or without even saying he's the
He describes the Bible and Jesus as simply a helpful "lens"
through which to view the sacred. "If we stop using the
Christian lens, then we cease to be Christian, and that's not
the end of the world. If humanity lasts 10,000 years, then I
expect that, if Christianity lasts at all, then it will be a
tiny sect like Zoroastrianism. We're not going to last forever
in the Christian tradition. The Christian lens will eventually
fall into disuse."
According to Borg, "fundamentalism" has "reached its high
water mark." He forecast a "very bright" future for mainline
churches if they understand their traditions "metaphorically"
and not literally. To be successful, churches will have to
recognize that Christianity is not the only way of salvation, he
Borg further refutes the biblical tradition's notion of a
personal deity as a "childlike literalization of the
personifications of God." Seeing God as a "person-like being out
there" makes it impossible to appreciate God's presence "in
everything" and makes the deity seem "unreal or remote." He also
complains that notions of a supernatural God who intervenes in
the universe make it impossible to understand illness, car
accidents, airplane crashes, or the Holocaust.
According to Borg, we cannot believe that God literally
raised Jesus from the dead. The "pre-Easter Jesus is a figure of
the past, dead and gone. He isn't anywhere." Talk about his
corpse or an empty tomb are "irrelevant distractions." But the
"post-Easter Jesus" as a spiritual creation of the early church
is alive in the hearts of believers, Borg claims.
It would have been an incredibly arrogant Jesus who claimed
equality with God and predicted his own resurrection. "We have
categories of psychology for people who talk that way about
themselves," Borg has said. Borg says modern people rightly are
"suspicious that any particular collection of teachings or
doctrines can be absolute truth." Every notion of truth is
actually "conditioned and relative to the time and place in
which it originated."