…and will turn away their ears from the truth and will turn aside to myths.
(2 Timothy 4:4, NASB)

The Historical And Mythical Jesus Of Marcus Borg

We begin by reminding the reader that in his book Velvet Elvis (VE) emerging church pastor/communicator Rob Bell recommends via footnote [Endnotes: 1; 57] The Heart of Christianity (HC) by “Progressive [read: postliberal] Christian” Marcus Borg. You should also know that in HC Borg goes through the very same mythological pre-Easter vs. post-Easter version(s) of his “Jesus” as shown in the previous Apprising Ministries piece Marcus Borg vs. Jesus.

The point here being that this book HC is a treatise arguing for an “emerging paradigm,” which is actually a postliberal theology and yet Rob Bell recommends it without qualification to his readers. He doesn’t even say something along the lines of: “I don’t agree with Marcus Borg’s wrong views about Who Jesus Christ is, etc.” In fact in VE, Bell’s own hypothetical argument concerning the Virgin Birth and how even if it wasn’t true it wouldn’t affect the Christian faith is actually of the same kind Borg himself would use in his “historical, metaphorical and sacramental” approach to Scripture.

In other words, liberal—and postliberal—theology really couldn’t care less whether things like that were real and/or are true because regardless they are simply following the religious “tradition” to the Sacred which they feel is right for them. And prior to explaining why he follows the path of the “Christian” tradition Borg informs us in his superior erudition that in the end what religion one chooses really doesn’t even matter to God:

When a Christian seeker asked the Dalai Lama whether she should become a Buddhist, his response, which I paraphrase, was: “No, become more deeply Christian; live more deeply into your own tradition.” Huston Smith makes the same point with the metaphor of digging a well: if what you’re looking for is water, better to dig one well sixty feet deep than to dig six wells ten feet deep. By living more deeply into our own tradition as a sacrament of the sacred, we become more centered in the one to whom the tradition points and in whom we live and move and have our being.

A Christian is one who does this within the framework of the Christian tradition, just as a Jew is one who does this within the framework of the Jewish tradition, a Muslim, within the framework of the Muslim tradition, and so forth. And I cannot believe that God cares which one of these we are. All are paths of relationship and transformation. (223)

Perhaps this also sheds further light concerning The Seeds of Compassion Event: Rob Bell, Doug Pagitt with Dalai Lama. Both times in VE where Bell refers his readers to Borg there is no mention that it is Borg’s ideas from which he is drawing. Our concern in this piece is footnote 1, prior to which Bell writes:

Often the person with spiritual convictions is seen as close-minded and others are seen as open-minded. What is fascinating to me is that at the center of the Christian faith is the assumption that this life is not all there is. That there is more to life than the material. That existence is not limited to what we can see, touch, measure and observe and see with our eyes is real. One of the central assertions of the Christian worldview is that there is “more” [1]. (019)

Sending Young Lambs Out To The Progressive Wolves

As I mentioned before Bell just has the footnote with no further explanation. Then when we go to the Endnotes here is what we will read: “1 Marcus Borg explains this idea extremely well in his book The Heart of Christianity (San Francisco: HarperSanFrancisco, 2003).” Really; is there no better apologist Bell can think of to discuss this idea of the spiritual vs. the material world than a Jesus Seminar Fellow who denies virtually everything taught by the historic, orthodox Christian Church and one who’s also a leading teacher of the universal new spirituality?

Men and women, I think the time has now arrived where you ought to seriously ask yourself why. Is there an agenda here by Bell? After all, in Rob Bell In A Nutshell: Contemplative Mysticism I showed you Bell himself promotes Contemplative Spirituality/Mysticism. In closing for now, Bell also doesn’t even say where it is in HC that Borg “explains this idea extremely well.” As a pastor myself, especially considering that a lot of Bell’s readers are supposedly “seekers” and undoubtedly many are young, I say this is a very grievous error on Bell’s part in sending innocent lambs over to a wolf like Marcus Borg with no guidance whatsoever through his pseudo-spiritual neo-Gnostic mumbo jumbo.

Well, maybe the following is what Bell is referring to concerning Borg’s “idea,” which he allegedly “explains” so “extremely well”. In chapter 6 of HC, “God–The Heart of Reality”, Borg appears to be discussing what Bell is talking about above in VE concerning the two worldviews; one holding to a material world only, while the other holding to the idea there is a spiritual world i.e. “more.” Under the heading “Two Kinds of Worldviews” Borg tells us:

at a very foundational level, there are two primary kinds: religious worldviews and nonreligious worldviews. In a religious worldview, there is, to use William James’s term again [from 61], a “More.” In addition to the visible world of our ordinary experience and as disclosed by science, there is a “More,” a nonmaterial layer or level of reality, an extra dimension of reality.

This view is shared by all the enduring religions of the world. To echo language from the contemporary historian of religion Huston Smith, this conviction was until recently the “human unanimity.” “The More” has been named in various ways: God, Spirit, the sacred, Yahweh, the Tao, Allah, Brahman, Atman, and so forth. In a nonreligious worldview, there is no “More.” There is only “this”—the space-time world of matter and energy and whatever other natural forces lie behind or beyond it. (63, emphasis his)

While the above, in and of itself, does contain some factual information I still wonder why emerging church pastor Rob Bell is reading a heretic like Marcus Borg to help him understand these issues. For here in Borg is a man who clearly denies that Jesus is the Creator God in human flesh—thereby grossly insulting the “Jesus” Rob says he loves. And, as I said previously, why would he then risk sending his own lambs to a wolf like Marcus Borg—at all—let alone with no warning whatsoever.

Because as we read earlier from HC in his myth about how one comes to know this generic “More” god Borg unequivocally denies that the death, burial and resurrection of Jesus is the only way into a saving relationship with the one true and living LORD God Almighty:

A Christian is one who does this [follow the right personal path to the Sacred] within the framework of the Christian tradition, just as a Jew is one who does this within the framework of the Muslim tradition, and so forth. And I cannot believe that God cares which one of these we are. All are paths of relationship and transformation. (223)

But that is simply not Christian theology, nor is what is about to follow below:

Dr. Marcus Borg—Christianity as a way

See also: