Marcus Borg, author of The Heart of Christianity, delivers a look at his own life and an older, wiser look at faith in his seventies via Convictions: How I Learned What Matters Most. Sharing from his own experiences and offering an overview of various theological and social issues from war to Biblical interpretation, Borg echoes many of the broader images that Adam Hamilton recently tackled in Making Sense of the Bible (out now, and also from HarperOne). He’s a deep thinker with a broader scope of understanding the words contained in the Bible, and a wider net is cast in examining the Scriptures of the Old and New Testament.
Again, Borg challenges the reader to think historically, contextually, about the Scripture, not abolishing what they might think but pushing (for some, it will be dangerously) against popular Christian understandings that may or may not be Biblical. [My own favorite example concerns the Wise Men: how many were there? when did they arrive? were they men? “We Three Kings” seems to drive the bus of popular opinion.]
Issues that Borg aims at here over a series of essays:
1. Christians and the afterlife: Jesus was more concerned, says Borg, with the kingdom of God than “getting into heaven.”
2. It isn’t all factual, but that doesn’t matter: Whether you’re talking creation narratives or post-resurrection sightings, Borg isn’t bothered if you want to explain it one way or another, as long as you don’t close your mind to the big, parabolic [lesson-infleneced] meaning of the stories.
3. Jesus’ death matters, but maybe not how you think: we should be careful, he says, how we explain the death of Jesus to not paint God into a corner.
4. The Bible is more political than you think, but not what you’re expecting: read the book of Amos, or consider the Year of Jubilee.
5. Wars are fought for the wrong reasons: pacifism might deserve another look.
Overall, the book pushes your buttons and makes it interesting. You should read it, even if you don’t agree, because it will stretch your mind.