Reassessing Marcus Borg

Fellow Patheos blogger Frederick Schmidt has penned an article for the Journal of Preaching about the strengths and weaknesses of Marcus Borg:

Marcus Borg

One: Marc relies heavily on stereotyping of a Christian perspective that, where it exists, is historically representative of a small minority.

I’ve known some of the Christians that Marc uses as a foil for his apologetic, but it is hardly fair to suggest that the kind of thinking he outlines dominated the church until Progressive Christianity came along. The Christian tradition is a global, wide- ranging, and complex phenomenon covering more than two millennia. Protestant fundamentalism is both a relatively recent and relatively small part of that story, even if it looms large in some parts of the United States.20

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The McLaren Lectionary

BMac’s new book comes out today. I had the opportunity to give it a close read last winter and to provide feedback on it. My endorsement reads,

“This is Brian McLaren at his best, and I think this is what so many readers want from him: Deeply rooted in scripture, yet offering fresh, even radical, readings. WE MAKE THE ROAD BY WALKING will surely be a benefit and blessing to many.”

I stand by that. Over the years, I’ve read all Brian’s books and heard him give dozens of talks. He’s good at so many things, but I think he is absolutely on his game when he’s interpreting the Bible. His approach is both pastoral and radical, a difficult mix to maintain. He brings fresh and often unexpected interpretations.

What Brian is not is an unredeemed liberal, bent on demythologizing the text. He takes the text seriously and doesn’t get hung up on historical-critical arguments. Astute readers will see the influence of René Girard, whom Brian has immersed himself in over the last couple years.

I did lobby for a new title, The McLaren Lectionary, knowing that Brian was far too humble to agree. But that’s really what this book is: Brian taking the reader on a journey from the beginning of the Bible to the end, in short, digestible chapters. It can be read straight through, as I did, or better yet, on the bedstand as a nightly or weekly devotion.

If you’ve been influenced by Brian’s past books — I’m guessing that’s just about all of you — I encourage you to get ahold of this one to see a comprehensive McLarenesque hermeneutic of the love-and-redemption story of the Bible.

Can NT Wright Have It Both Ways?

On the issue of Hell, NT Wright seems to be on a lonely island. (Sophie Gerrard, Christianity Today)

Keith DeRose doesn’t think so. DeRose, a philosopher at Yale and correspondent with YFB, has posted a retort to Wright’s posture of both emphasizing the “Kingdom-Now” theology that he’s made famous, while holding onto a belief while holding onto a belief in a grim fate for unbelievers, set at their deaths. Among the strange (and not particularly biblical) claims that Wright makes regarding Hell is that the lost will devolve to a kind of subhuman state and will thus be beyond human pity.

There are other problems, too. Here’s Keith:

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Five Reasons You Probably Shouldn’t Attend a Christian Seder

The Seder plate at Rabbi Joseph Edelheit’s home, including oranges, olives, and tomatoes.

It’s Passover until this evening, and lots of Christians — especially evangelicals — are attending Passover Seder dinners. But they’re not traditional Seder dinners, with Jews. No, they’re a co-opted rite, sometimes hosted by a “messianic” Jew, and sometimes just by Christians who’ve read a Wikipedia entry.

I’ve been to a Seder for the past couple years. My family and I have been hosted by Rabbi Joseph Edelheit, a sometime contributor to this blog, and a dear friend. In his role as director of the religious studies program at St. Cloud State University, Joseph has hosted Seder dinners for Christian students — at the Lutheran campus ministry for instance — but the difference is that he’s really Jewish. He’s a rabbi. He’s not playacting. This is really his thing.

Many Christians, particularly evangelicals, are drawn to primitive Christianity. They want to follow Jesus like those first Christians did, before Constantine and Charlemagne mucked everything up with Christendom. I personally think that’s a noble goal, and I’m not totally averse to it. However, having a Seder meal at your church or Christian college is not the way to do here. Here’s why:

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