Wednesday, February 21, 2007

What is the Heart of Christianity?

This was the title of a recent socratic club debate I went to between Dr.'s Gary Ferngren and Marcus Borg. Both professors at Oregon State University.

Dr. Ferngren, arguing for traditional evangelical Christianity, argued five major points make up the heart of Christianity. These points are: A diagnosis of what is wrong with the world: sin, The story of God’s love and his provision for the human race, The confession that Jesus Christ is the son of God and savior of the world, a promise that there is life after death, Christianity is a living faith that speaks to our hearts as well as our heads.

Dr. Borg, arguing as a member of the Jesus Seminar for the historical Jesus point of view argued that at the core of what he calls Christianity lie three basic premises: At the heart of Christianity is a robust affirmation of the reality of God, the reality of the sacred, the reality of the spirit. At the heart of Christianity lies the Bible and Jesus, these are the two primary sources of revelation for Christians, simply disclosure or epiphany of the sacred. At the heart of Christianity is following Jesus. Finally, at the heart of Christianity is the transformation of the heart.

On the outset Dr. Borg's arguments look all well and good, it isn't until the question and answer session that Dr. Borg's true beliefs came out. In the debate Dr. Borg made it clear that he did not take the bible literally. When asked abou the experiences of the apostles after Jesus rose from the dead he said, "I think some of the followers of Jesus had experiences of him after his death. Some of these experiences were visual, visions – seeing the form of Jesus, some experiences were similar to Paul’s." In other words, Dr. Borg believes when Jesus died, he really died, no resurrection involved whatsoever. Therefore, the apostles affirmation that Jesus did in fact rise from the dead Dr. Borg says is nothing more than visions, experiential claims.

These are not the whole of what Dr. Borg has rejected in the Bible. Dr. Borg went on in another question to say that all religions will eventually lead to heaven. "I have no interest in making a claim that Christianity is superior to all other religions. All religions are legitimate paths of transformation and transformation and salvation are synonymous terms." The huge problem with this statement lies in the fact scripture very clearly states "I am the Way the Truth and the Life, no man comes to the father except through me." Jesus very clearly says he is the only way to heaven. There are no other options.

Dr. Borg goes on further to completely deny the intervention of God in the world. What Dr. Borg deals with here is the problem of miracles. I have invested interest in this particular debate as I have experienced miraculous healing. Dr. Borg says that the supernatural things that do occur in the world are nothing more than coincedences saying "it's not a matter of what God can do, it's a matter of what God does do." In otherwords, Dr. Borg has come up against an issue he can't explain, so what does he do with it? Dr. Borg completely denies it's existence.

What Dr. Borg has done is chosen the things in Christianity he can explain, and completely thrown out the things he can't. What you get is something other than Christianity, what you get is pane theism. The notion that an omnipresent God is every where, in everything. The difference between this and pantheism is very slight, in pantheism it is nature that is in and through everything. Therefore I think it is safe to say that Dr. Borg reduces Christianity down to a feel good religion, it's all about loving people for Dr. Borg. As far as jesus goes, he reduces Jesus Christ to nothing more than a political revolutionary. Finally, as far as the religion itself goes Dr. Borg picks and chooses so much that it's difficult to see Christianity in the religion Dr. Borg has created.
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