Thursday, January 22, 2015

Giving Thanks for Marcus Borg

This morning, I woke to the news that scholar, author, and speaker Marcus Borg died yesterday. I was shocked and saddened by this news. I hadn't realized that he was in ill health, let alone that he'd been so close to leaving this earthly life.

My first encounter with Borg's writing was the summer after I graduated college. I was well familiar with the work of the Jesus Seminar by that point, and I took a copy of Reading the Bible Again for the First Time with me to my job as a staff camp counselor with the Ohio Conference Outdoor Ministries. There, seated on a cot and in between shushing 8-11 year-olds who were supposed to be napping, my sense of how the Bible can serve as a window into how my faith ancestors viewed God and Jesus, and how I myself could think about these things in new ways, was challenged and deepened.

Years later, I had the opportunity to meet Borg when he and J.D. Crossan spoke at Eden Theological Seminary. By that point, they'd just penned their latest joint venture, The First Paul, but their lectures focused on the figure of Jesus: reclaiming who he was both for his original ministry and for the purposes of following him today. One of the things that most struck me during these talks was the gentle and passionate spirit with which Borg spoke. It was clear simply by the way he shared with us that this was a man of faith, not a distant and cold scholar. He spoke of Christ genuinely and personally. Since then, whenever I've read his writing, I still hear that voice.

I am very thankful for the impact that Marcus Borg has had on my faith. He's one of many who indeed have helped me see Jesus and the Bible again, as for the first time. My prayers are with his family and others who knew him best. May the church continue to learn from and be challenged by his witness.