Tony Jones--When I spoke at the National Cathedral in May, at a conference around Diana's book, that they were nice enough to invite me to, the evening before I spoke, Marcus Borg spoke, and Marcus Borg for the umpteenth time was asked in the Q&A an old--I remember this so vividly--an old man came up to the microphone in the center aisle of the nave of the national cathedral, and said "Dr. Borg, what about the empty tomb?". And he said, probably for the umpteenth time, verbatim, this is what he said, "If I had to bet a dollar or my life, I would say the tomb was not empty, or there was no tomb." I was in the back, sitting around a circle with people my age who came from a mainline church in Wichita, and if you're a mainliner in Wichita, you're not really a mainliner in the way that people on the east coast think of mainliners, or people in Minnesota think of mainliners. In the fly-over territory, you don't get to be a liberal mainliner at a big mainline church in Wichita. You are a bit evangelical, even though you're a mainline church, because you're in Wichita. And they were extremely distressed by this response, and it got me to thinking, that emergents don't have a problem with paradox. And it seems to me, and this is the risky thing that I do in the book, I really think that Marcus Borg and John Piper, who's a right-wing baptist pastor in Minnesota, very five-point Calvinist reformed hyper-reformed guy, that they're basically doing the same thing. They're both looking for an air-tight Christianity. For Borg it's logical positivism, it doesn't make sense that God would upset the laws of physics and do things like resurrect people or have miracles or things like this, so let's do away with those things and make Christianity more believable. For Piper, it's a purely fideistic system, in which the laws of physics matter not at all, and what matter is you know what the Bible says and that's it. And so leads to Creation Science and leads to you know these kinds of interpretations of scripture of which we're all familiar. Those are both part of the modern enterprise, modern apologetics on the evangelical side is built on, and the modern ecumenical movement on the left side is built on it--looking for rock-solid indubitable foundations not to be questioned. And it's this search that emergents find no interest in. And so yes, indeed, the six questions that Scot talks about that he hears his students in evangelical university asking...
Diane Butler Bass--I really, I just have to jump in real quick, and then we can go to larger questions, but Tony, if Marcus Borg was sitting here and had misquoted you, I would jump in and defend you. Marcus did indeed say exactly what you said, but then three minutes later, he said that "but that in no way undermines the confession of the early church that Jesus lives and Jesus is Lord" and so then he went on to say that he does indeed--I mean I remember how startling it was there in the great high alter of the national cathedral, we got this incredible faith statement, personal faith statement, from Marcus Borg, saying that he does indeed believe in that confession and that he makes that confession proudly with the early church, and so what he actually did was although the way that he got about it was perhaps logical positivism, he came to a place himself of incredible paradox, that he made a faith statement that in a way contradicts old style liberalism and he did it in front of a crowd of some 350 people. And so you both were actually working out of your point of tension or wanting to work out of a paradox its just that your paradoxes where in different places and I wasn't entirely sure that that you were--there were a couple of people who blogged about that as well, heard the second part of what Marcus said and I did hear it because I went downstairs and was attacked by somebody from the Institute of Religion and Democracy and they were going on about how you know this was just old style liberalism and it's the same old same old and on and on and on and I said "Did you just hear what Marcus Borg said upstairs, if you weren't listening, Marcus Borg just said that he believed in Jesus Christ." And he said "Oh yeah I heard that but it just doesn't matter"
I Corinthians 15
15:12 Now if Christ be preached that he rose from the dead, how say some among you that there is no resurrection of the dead?
15:13 But if there be no resurrection of the dead, then is Christ not risen:
15:14 And if Christ be not risen, then [is] our preaching vain, and your faith [is] also vain.
15:15 Yea, and we are found false witnesses of God; because we have testified of God that he raised up Christ: whom he raised not up, if so be that the dead rise not.
15:16 For if the dead rise not, then is not Christ raised:
15:17 And if Christ be not raised, your faith [is] vain; ye are yet in your sins.
15:18 Then they also which are fallen asleep in Christ are perished.
15:19 If in this life only we have hope in Christ, we are of all men most miserable.
15:20 But now is Christ risen from the dead, [and] become the firstfruits of them that slept.
6. But the righteousness that is by faith says: "Do not say in your heart, 'Who will ascend into heaven?' " (that is, to bring Christ down)
7. "or 'Who will descend into the deep?' " (that is, to bring Christ up from the dead).
8. But what does it say? "The word is near you; it is in your mouth and in your heart," that is, the word of faith we are proclaiming:
9. That if you confess with your mouth, "Jesus is Lord," and believe in your heart that God raised him from the dead, you will be saved.
10. For it is with your heart that you believe and are justified, and it is with your mouth that you confess and are saved.
11. As the Scripture says, "Anyone who trusts in him will never be put to shame."
So, here's the deal--Marcus Borg basically bets his life that Jesus did not really resurrect from the dead (even though Butler Bass says that "he does indeed believe in that confession", which I suppose means he's saying that he does believe in Christ's resurrection in some non-literal sense). Paul makes the resurrection central to our hope in Christ and our salvation. And Paul leaves no doubt that "now is Christ risen from the dead", and not in some metaphorical of 'spiritual' sense.
Borg tells us that it is only in this life that we have some kind of hope in some kind of still-dead Christ. Butler Bass' contention that Borg believes in Jesus Christ is wrong. He may have constructed some imaginary or mythological "jesus christ" in his own mind, much like how cults take the name Jesus Christ and add and take away from what the Bible says about Him, but the "jesus christ" Borg believes in is not the one in the Bible, and the person from the Institute of Religion and Democracy was right to say that what Borg said didn't matter.
For my part, I think I'll stick with Paul. After all, he actually met the risen Christ on the Damascus road. Plus his writings are scripture and true, while Borg is just, well, another crank.
Sorry, but Borg will not assimilate me.