Marcus Borg 

According to his own testimony, Marcus Borg is a "committed Christian:" "As a committed Christian, I live in the world of the church and have been deeply involved in its life for decades." (Marcus Borg, 'Jesus in Contemporary Scholarship,' Chapter Seven, p 143). Indeed he is married to a priestess. What sort of 'Christian' is Marcus Borg? Not the sort who believes Jesus is the Savior of the world; certainly not the sort who believes that Jesus is God incarnate. Rather, the kind who believes Christianity can successfully "mediate the sacred" (ibid., p. 193), as indeed for that matter any form of shamanism can do. The gospel narrative must be squished to fit into the armature of this form of bad religion, which is the 'liberalism' which has caused precipitous membership declines in the main-line churches:

Bad Religion Man, Therefore Not God
Perjury The Peasants Are Restless
The Vineyard Empty Tomb
Docetism Just-So Stories
The First-born Theism
The Five Fundamentals

Bad Religion

A symbiotic umbilical link joins 'critical' Jesus scholarship with bad religion. What is Ernest Renan's treacly unitarian 'Jesus' but just bad religion? When you walk into a Unitarian-Universalist church nowadays, you are more likely to encounter a congregant who self-identifies as a 'Wiccan' or a 'Buddhist' than 'Christian,' because this scripture-defying ideology has no solid foundation and collapses once the founding generation passes from the scene. First generation unitarians still tell themselves legends about how bold and brave they are to defy orthodoxy, even if it has been a very long time since anyone was tormented on the rack, by either trinitarian Christians or by unitarian Muslims. But the second generation loses interest in these self-glorifying fables and turns its attention elsewhere. Yet even as 'liberal' Protestantism empties out the main-line churches, savants like Marcus Borg keep buffing and polishing up this unwanted product. Though unitarian 'scholarship' is neither more careful nor thoroughgoing than fundamentalist scholarship,— it differs only in that it is established on unbelieving principles,— they insist that this bad religion which no one wants must be subsidized by the tax-payers, as good religion cannot be.

One familiar feature of cultic religion is strained and unconvincing exegesis; think, for instance, of the hand-springs and pirouettes the Jehovah's Witnesses have to do to dance around John 1:1. That feature is found here as well. Think of the familiar parable of the talents, Matthew 25:14-30 and Luke 19:11-27:

"And as they heard these things, he added and spake a parable, because he was nigh to Jerusalem, and because they thought that the kingdom of God should immediately appear. He said therefore, A certain nobleman went into a far country to receive for himself a kingdom, and to return. And he called his ten servants, and delivered them ten pounds, and said unto them, Occupy till I come." (Luke 19:11-13).

Most interpreters take the householder who goes to a far country to be God the Son, understanding His projected return to be the Second Coming. After all, this theme is oft-repeated in the gospels, and in some instances, no other interpretation is even possible:

“But of that day and hour no one knows, not even the angels in heaven, nor the Son, but only the Father. Take heed, watch and pray; for you do not know when the time is. It is like a man going to a far country, who left his house and gave authority to his servants, and to each his work, and commanded the doorkeeper to watch. Watch therefore, for you do not know when the master of the house is coming—in the evening, at midnight, at the crowing of the rooster, or in the morning— lest, coming suddenly, he find you sleeping. And what I say to you, I say to all: Watch!” (Mark 13:32-36).

So by analogy to a very common gospel theme, wouldn't the householder who deposits the talents with His servants be God the Son? Oh, no! Why not? Because the 'Jesus' of John Dominic Crossan and Marcus Borg must not be allowed to stray off-message. He is a wind-up doll who says, 'The imperial domination system is bad. The imperial domination system is bad.' Over and over again. He can say naught other. The problem with the parable of the talents is that it seems to imply, though it is far from being the main point of the story, that there might be profitable investments to be made which are neither exploitive nor immoral. According to these people, the only way of making money in that society was to inherit it or to ally with the exploitive elite: "Wealth was acquired through inheritance or by allying with the rulers. Peasants knew this." (Marcus J. Borg, Jesus: Uncovering the Life, p. 244). Why doesn't Jesus know this? Isn't He a 'peasant,' as they keep repeating? So the parable must be turned on its head: "Is this the way God acts? Rewarding those who use money to make money in a society such as Jesus lived in?. . .Or is the key to this parable the realization that the wealthy owner does not represent God? That the parable is instead an indictment of the wealthy? Perhaps the parable is saying, this is the way the domination system works — the wealthy get wealthier, and those who have nothing have even what little they have taken away from them." (Marcus J. Borg, Jesus: Uncovering the Life, p. 247). Could anything be more absurd? Realizing that the unprofitable servant is cast into "outer darkness," (Matthew 25:30), does ultimate damnation even within the purview of your typical exploitive capitalist? If it's necessary to distort the gospel in this way to maintain the interpretation, is the interpretation credible?

The arch-villain to these people is the Religious Right; Borg waxes indignant against "The Jesus of the Christian right," who is a "teacher of a rigorous personal morality." (Marcus J. Borg, Jesus: Uncovering the Life, p. 303). As if there could be any historical Jesus, or 'pre-Easter' Jesus, who was gay-friendly! Was Josephus gay-friendly, was Philo Judaeus gay-friendly? No! Why do these people even bother? They are looking for a left-of-center Jesus: "To use the image of Jesus I have sketched, what would Jesus do in our context? He might once again disrupt the temple — the unholy alliance between religion and empire." (Marcus J. Borg, Jesus: Uncovering the Life, p. 305). But a 'Jesus' who endorses the sexual revolution? There never was such a party, and I doubt that they even believe themselves in the transparent fiction they demand everyone else follow.

Condemning the Roman imperial system as exploitive is hardly controversial; who would defend it? But the reader should realize that John Dominic Crossan sees no meaningful difference between the Roman system and the relations between the United States of American and the other nations of the world; Borg obediently echoes, "We live in a time of the American Empire." (Marcus J. Borg, Jesus: Uncovering the Life, p. 296). Capitalism is the enemy. This political reading of the gospels cannot really be sustained, though the gospels are political to the core. The gross distortions that result, like making the returning house-holder into the bad guy, the heavy, do not trouble the devotees of this system of interpretation. But it gets worse. Bad politics, erroneous ideologies like Marxism, impoverish the body, clean out the cupboard and leave the table bare, but they do not directly send anyone to hell. Bad theology does that.


Man, therefore Not God

Marcus Borg, formerly associated with the 'Jesus Seminar,' follows the well-worn pathway of assuring us Jesus Himself cannot have claimed to be God. Why not? Because no one ever claims to be God? To the contrary, very many people, even Jews like Sabbati Sevi and Jacob Frank, have claimed to be God. Amongst the pagans of classical antiquity, cases of outrageous imposture were downright common. It helped to be tall and good-looking:

"And Peisistratos having accepted the proposal and made an agreement on these terms, they contrived with a view to his a device the most simple by far, as I think, that ever was practised, considering at least that it was devised at a time when the Hellenic race had been long marked off from the Barbarian as more skilful and further removed from foolish simplicity, and among the Athenians who are accounted the first of the Hellenes in ability. In the deme of Paiania there was a woman whose name was Phya, in height four cubits all but three fingers, and also fair of form. This woman they dressed in full armour and caused her to ascend a chariot and showed her the bearing in which she might best beseem her part, and so they drove to the city, having sent on heralds to run before them, who, when they arrived at the city, spoke that which had been commanded them, saying as follows: "O Athenians, receive with favor Peisistratos, whom Athene herself, honouring him most of all men, brings back to her Acropolis." So the heralds went about hither and thither saying this, and straightway there came to the demes in the country round a report that Athene was bringing Peisistratos back, while at the same time the men of the city, persuaded that the woman was the very goddess herself, were paying worship to the human creature and receiving Peisistratos." (Herodotus, Histories, Book I, Chapter 60).

In contemporary times, Wallace D. Fard claimed to be God, and attracted more than a few followers, as did Father Divine. Far be it from me to point out this undeniable fact to discredit Jesus' claim; to the contrary, pointing to counterfeit currency does not prove there is no real currency. But the baseless assertion parrotted by 'Jesus Seminar scholars' that Jesus cannot have claimed to be God, because only later 'post-Easter' followers can have made such claims, is without historical foundation.

Prince of Tyre Salmoneus
Phya, the Tall Woman Saturn, King of Italy
Empedocles Zalmoxis
Menecrates Amulius
Demetrius Apsethus
Jesus of Nazareth Simon the Samaritan
Epiphanes, son of Carpocrates Little Gods
Jewish Messiahs Gaius Caesar
The Khlysty Muslim Gods
Wallace D. Fard Father Divine
Jim Jones The Maharaj Ji
Draftees Romulus
Apollonius of Tyana Ras Tafari
Jehovah Wanyonyi

What, again, is the compelling proof by which these folks demonstrate that Jesus cannot have claimed to be God, as His disciples recall Him as having done? Why, because they would be disinclined to believe Him if He did:

"When the 'I am' statements are understood as Jesus' own words, they become very problematic. What would we think of a first-century Galilean Jew (or anybody else, for that matter) who said about himself, 'I am the light of the world,' 'I am the bread of life,' etc.?" (Marcus J. Borg, Jesus in Contemporary Scholarship, p. 174).

What would we do? Certainly not take him at His word, not in the moral universe Marcus Borg inhabits. And yet there are very few facts in history that are better attested than that Jesus of Nazareth claimed to be God. Not only does the New Testament so testify, so does the hostile Talmud.

The 'Messianic secret,'— the fact that Jesus sometimes tells people not to reveal who He is or what He did for them,— does not prove that Jesus made no extraordinary claims for Himself, but rather proves the contrary. If the 'historical Jesus' was a modest person, a 'Jewish mystic' making no unusual or out-of-the-ordinary claims, then what was the secret?



"Were the empty tomb and the appearances of Jesus after his death the kinds of events that disinterested observers could have seen, that even Pilate could have seen? Do these stories purport to report the kinds of events that could in principle have been photographed?. . .This reasoning is a legacy of the Enlightenment, which led many in Western culture to identify 'the true' with 'the factual.'" (Marcus J. Borg, 'Jesus,' pp. 48-49).

In our society, we expect perjurers, if prosecuted, to receive a couple of years in the slammer. Under the Mosaic law, perjurers could be subject to the death penalty, depending on the character and consequences of their false accusation:

  • "If a false witness rises against any man to testify against him of wrongdoing, then both men in the controversy shall stand before the Lord, before the priests and the judges who serve in those days. And the judges shall make careful inquiry, and indeed, if the witness is a false witness, who has testified falsely against his brother, then you shall do to him as he thought to have done to his brother; so you shall put away the evil from among you. And those who remain shall hear and fear, and hereafter they shall not again commit such evil among you. Your eye shall not pity: life shall be for life, eye for eye, tooth for tooth, hand for hand, foot for foot."
  • (Deuteronomy 19:16-21).

  • "Thou shalt not raise a false report: put not thine hand with the wicked to be an unrighteous witness."
  • (Exodus 23:1).

  • "Ye shall not steal, neither deal falsely, neither lie one to another. And ye shall not swear by my name falsely, neither shalt thou profane the name of thy God: I am the LORD."
  • (Leviticus 19:11-12).

Does a fair assessment of ancient legal thinking on perjury confirm that the ancients possessed no mental categories which could differentiate between the factual and the imaginary? Lacking any such categories, how did they ever successfully prosecute perjury? Such prosecutions assume the events recounted could, in principle, have been photographed, though of course they had no such equipment, but instead had to rely upon the preponderance of witness testimony:


Moses Twelve Tables
Untangling the Threads Fact-Checking
Seth Speaks Quintilian
Self-Incrimination Pythagoras
Who's Zooming Who? Historiography
False Musaeus Jerome
Publishing Contract

The Peasants are Restless

For "peasants" like Jesus and His family, Marcus Borg explains that true literacy was out of reach:

  • "For the vast majority of peasants, the Bible would have been heard, not read. There is more than one reason. Literacy rates in the ancient world were low, especially in the peasant class. . .Though peasants might possess 'peasant literacy' (the ability to sign their name and perhaps to write simple agreements),  few would have had 'scribal literacy.' But peasants would have heard the Bible in synagogue gatherings, in story-telling, and during Jewish festivals."
  • (Marcus J. Borg, 'Jesus,' p. 98).

Was this indeed an oral culture, where simple peasants told one another stories and danced in the village square? Or does this 'peasant' paradigm grossly misrepresent the situation as reported in contemporary literature?:


A Priori Desiderata
Reality It Takes a Village
School-houses Quintilian
Public Library Grants to Education
Normalcy Hellenic Civilization
Voting Child of Destiny
Liberal Education Old Deluder
A Father Set Free Caius and Caia
Down on the Farm Learned Slaves
Women's Literacy Enlightened Audience
Fame and Fortune The Public
Sign-board Fair Warning
Inscriptions Spare No Pains
Those Left Out Shorthand
Caesar's Army Small Print
Writing on the Wall Ordinary
Believe it or Not Barbarians

The Vineyard

"In the second episode, Jesus takes the initiative. With the crowd and the authorities still present, he tells a parable about at vineyard owner who leases his vineyard to tenants (Mark 12:1-12)." (Marcus J. Borg, 'Jesus,' p. 237).

"Hear another parable: There was a certain householder, which planted a vineyard, and hedged it round about, and digged a winepress in it, and built a tower, and let it out to husbandmen, and went into a far country: And when the time of the fruit drew near, he sent his servants to the husbandmen, that they might receive the fruits of it. And the husbandmen took his servants, and beat one, and killed another, and stoned another. Again, he sent other servants more than the first: and they did unto them likewise. But last of all he sent unto them his son, saying, They will reverence my son. But when the husbandmen saw the son, they said among themselves, This is the heir; come, let us kill him, and let us seize on his inheritance. And they caught him, and cast him out of the vineyard, and slew him. When the lord therefore of the vineyard cometh, what will he do unto those husbandmen? They say unto him, He will miserably destroy those wicked men, and will let out his vineyard unto other husbandmen, which shall render him the fruits in their seasons." (Matthew 21:33-41).

Admitting the authenticity of this parable gives away the game, because in it, Jesus plainly claims to be the Son of God in a unique sense. Strangely enough, the Jesus Seminar admits this parable is Jesus' own. It is odd that they do this because the 'Son' of the parable is plainly God's son in a unique sense, whereas it is more to their purpose to submerge Jesus' claim to the Sonship, if allowed at all, down with that of others, like Honi the Circle-Drawer, said to be God's "spoiled child:" "Shimon ben Shetach [the head of the Sanhedrin] sent [word] to him: 'If you were not Honi I would decree a ban upon you. But what shall I do to you, for you act like a spoiled child before God and He does your will for you, like a son who acts like a spoiled child with his father and he does his will for him?'" (M. Taanit 3:8).

The 'Jesus Seminar' got it right for a change. Some people foolishly think Jesus can never have told this parable, because it evinces knowledge of events to come. That 'Israel' is the vineyard is a not a very bold leap. Let us say we take ten test subjects, and ask them to call 'heads' or 'tails.' Those who call the wrong way, we leave alone. Those who call correctly, we corral, and sequester on the premise they must be time-travellers! How else can they have known it would be 'heads' or 'tails?' Please realize I don't for one minute suggest Jesus was 'guessing.' He knew the end from the beginning. But is it really possible to defend the premise upon which modern 'Jesus scholarship' rests, that 1.) no one ever makes statements about the future; or 2.) if they do, those statements are invariably false? How can one hundred percent of statements predicting a 50-50 event possibly be false?

There is an entire modern profession, 'economics,' whose practitioners bring to the market-place predictions about the future. Though Yogi Berra presciently warned of the danger of making predictions,— "It's tough to make predictions, especially about the future,"— these highly-trained professionals wade bravely into the fray: They are generally wrong, which does nothing to erode the enthusiastic willingness of financial institutions to pay good money for their work product. President Jimmy Carter bitterly complained about the forecasts his economic advisors gave him, which did not pan out. But sometimes, wondrous to relate, the predictions come true. An after-the-fact report of such a successful prediction should not suffice to convince future 'scholars' it was never made. Even a stopped watch is right twice a day. Joseph Smith, reputed by some to be a prophet, predicted the Civil War. So did many others. Travellers observing the abolitionist fervor of the Northern population, who were also aware the Southern economy increasingly rested upon a foundation of slavery, might well have hazarded the guess that there was a collision coming.

Isaiah Deuteronomy
Dividing Line Track Record
Copernican Revolution Joseph Atwill
70 A.D. Selection Bias

First century prophets who consoled themselves with sanguine visions of a blissful, long-lasting marriage between the pagan Romans and the monotheistic Jews should have been the ones asked to explain themselves, not their more clear-sighted colleagues. It testifies to nothing so much as statistical illiteracy that some atheistic naturalists do not understand all they need posit is a company of prognosticators, some predicting doom, some predicting happy things, shake, then add just a pinch of selection bias to weed out the false predictions, and their assumptions about the world stand unshaken, although some speakers have said, in advance of the event, things which turned out to be true. How is this possible? Because those speakers who said, in advance of the event, things which turned out to be false, have been forgotten. The happy prophets, who either did not predict the Jewish War or predicted victory in the Jewish War (these were legion), have been forgotten. The fact that not all first century prophets have been forgotten should suffice to show that not all first century prophets were happy prophets.


Empty Tomb

"Before his death, they knew him as a finite and mortal human being. He was a flesh-and-blood, corpuscular and protoplasmic Galilean Jew; he weighed around 110 pounds and was a bit over five feet tall; he had to eat and sleep; he was born and he died. This Jesus, the pre-Easter Jesus, is a figure of the past, dead and gone, nowhere anymore." (Marcus J. Borg, 'Jesus,' p. 44).

What great Christian doctrine is our author here denying?:



According to Marcus Borg, the Christian orthodoxy of two natures: the paradigm that Jesus is very God and very man,— is actually docetic, though no one had realized this previously:

"Many of us have been asked by Christians who are quite sure they are orthodox, 'Do you believe Jesus was God?' But this view is actually one of the earliest Christian heresies, known as docetism (pronounced doh-sit-izm), from a Greek word meaning 'to seem' or 'to appear.' Jesus seemed, appeared, to be human, but really wasn't — rather, he was really God." (Marcus J. Borg, 'Jesus, p. 9).

Taken at face value, he is alleging that people who say Jesus is God are saying He is not really a man; in other words, the two affirmations of orthodoxy are mutually contradictory.

What is Marcus Borg's argument against the deity of Jesus Christ? That people could not be urged to imitate Jesus if He were God, as they are urged in scripture:

"In addition to being docetic, this way of telling Jesus's story has an additional problem. Namely, if Jesus had superhuman power and knowledge, he cannot be a model for human behavior. Yet the New Testament often speaks of him as such. The gospels speak of following Jesus, and Paul speaks of imitating Christ and being transformed into the likeness of Christ. But if Jesus was really God (and thus not really human), it makes no sense to speak of imitating him and becoming like him." (Marcus Borg, 'Jesus,' p. 10).

This argument might carry more weight were it not that scripture instructs us to imitate God, "For I am the LORD that bringeth you up out of the land of Egypt, to be your God: ye shall therefore be holy, for I am holy." (Leviticus 11:45); "But I say unto you, Love your enemies, bless them that curse you, do good to them that hate you, and pray for them which despitefully use you, and persecute you; That ye may be the children of your Father which is in heaven: for he maketh his sun to rise on the evil and on the good, and sendeth rain on the just and on the unjust." (Matthew 5:44-45). Oddly enough Mr. Borg himself realizes this:

"At the heart of his ethical vision was the imitation of God: 'Be compassionate, just as your Father is compassionate.' (Luke 6:36)" (Marcus J. Borg, 'Jesus,' p. 109).
"In remarkably few words, theology and ethics are combined: 'Be compassionate, just as your Father is compassionate' (Luke 6.36). Found in slightly different form in Matthew 5.48, the passage affirms an ethic known as imitatio dei, 'imitation of God.' The ethical imperative is to live in accord with God's character." (Marcus J. Borg, 'Jesus,' p. 175).

"As we have seen, the central imperative in the teaching of Jesus is to live in accord with God's character: 'Be compassionate, as God is compassionate.' As an ethic, an imitatio dei, its associatinos are rich." (Marcus J. Borg, 'Jesus,' p. 184).

I make note of this because it is not often you find an author arguing so neatly and completely in a circle. For that, you need the 'Jesus Seminar.' And yes, the perfect circle is completed: "For John, Jesus is the revelation of God's love, and so the imitatio dei becomes an imitatio Christi, an imitation of Jesus." (Marcus J. Borg, 'Jesus,' p. 184). To summarize the argument: Jesus Christ cannot be God, and why not? Because we are instructed to imitate Him, an impossible command if He is God. And yet we are commanded to imitate God. And this oft-repeated command elides into imitating Jesus as well; we are to imitate Jesus because He is God. Where can you find logic like that, outside of the 'Jesus studies' field?

"Jesus would not have known what the words 'second person of the Trinity' meant. And if we had explained it to him, he perhaps would have been able to understand it—he was very bright. . .I think he would have been amused. And troubled. I think he would have said, 'No, no—it's not about me.'" (Marcus J. Borg, 'Jesus,' p. 321).

What is the truth about God's nature?:

True GodOnly One GodThe Father is GodThe Son is GodThe Holy Spirit is God

Marcus Borg would have us emulate a counterfeit 'Jesus,' a man who, like us, can modestly reflect he is no more than a mere man, comparable with Honi the Circle-Drawer, a flea-bitten carnival attraction of the day who made it rain, but too much, like the Sorcerer's Apprentice. And this is presented as a breakthrough: it is finally OK, after years of struggle, to present Jesus as a religious person, because after all it's a matter of common observation that religious people exist. Grappling with the epistemological issues raised by the Enlightenment's habit of discarding every historical fact they happened to dislike, looking around nervously but with the exhilaration of doing something 'forbidden,' now they assure each other, well, what, after all, is so bad in affirming the obvious fact that religious people exist?:

"A central feature of my own work on the pre-Easter Jesus is the claim that he was a 'spirit person.' By this I mean what Rudolf Otto meant with the earlier non-inclusive term 'holy man.' Put compactly, my claim is that Jesus was one of those figures in human history who had vivid and frequent experiences of that reality which has variously been called 'the numinous,' 'the Hoy,' 'the Sacred,' 'the Spirit,' or simply 'God.' Such figures frequently become mediators of the Spirit to their community, whether as healers, inspired prophets, clairvoyants, game-finders, charismatic warriors, divine lawgivers, movement founders, or enlightened teachers. When one realizes that there really are people like this and that the Jewish tradition prior to and contemporary with Jesus knew such figures, it seems obvious that whatever else one needs to say about Jesus, he was one of these." (Marcus J. Borg, 'Jesus in Contemporary Scholarship,' p. 152).

Like this 'Jewish mystic,' we should seek to be 'centered' in God, whatever that means. The reality of who Jesus is and to what He invites us is an all but infinite distance beyond this pallid unitarian spirituality. Jesus invites us into the very fellowship of God Himself. He was with the Father in the beginning: "And now, O Father, glorify thou me with thine own self with the glory which I had with thee before the world was." (John 17:5). And He prays for us, "That they all may be one; as thou, Father, art in me, and I in thee, that they also may be one in us: that the world may believe that thou hast sent me. And the glory which thou gavest me I have given them; that they may be one, even as we are one: I in them, and thou in me, that they may be made perfect in one; and that the world may know that thou hast sent me, and hast loved them, as thou hast loved me." (John 17:21-23). That is, that we, too, should enter into this eternal fellowship of love. What Marcus Borg is offering, even encompassed round about as it is with mental reservations and equivocal and ambiguous formulations, is far less than second-rate; it is not even in the ball-park. Liberal Protestantism, alas, supplies only enough religion to innoculate people against the real thing.


  • "To apply this to the gospels, does it ever happen that somebody can feed five thousand people with five loaves and two fish? Does it ever happen that somebody can walk on the sea? . . .If I became convinced that things like this sometimes happen, I could entertain the possibiliity that Jesus did things like this..
  • "But if not, then as a historian I cannot conclude that Jesus did — unless I assume that Jesus had supernatural powers unlike any other human being. But to make this assumption would be to assume that Jesus is not human like the rest of us, which is contrary to the central Christian claim that Jesus as a figure of history was fully human. And if one were to say, 'Ah, but Jesus was also fully divine, and that's why he could do things like this,' one might respond that a human who has unique divine powers is not human like the rest of us." . . .
  • "Thus I treat the most spectacular stories in the gospel as metaphorical narratives and not as memory."
  • (Marcus J. Borg, 'Jesus,' pp. 74-75).

Notice the form of the argument: if Jesus is a man, then He is not God. If He is God, then He is not a man. That's it. This little gem is repeated often by this author, without any development or analysis. To put it another way: if Jesus is a man, then He is a mere man; if He is God, then He is God and not man. The orthodox doctrine teaches that Jesus Christ has two natures: He is both human and divine. Certainly if they wish Muslims and unitarians can argue these two natures, of such differing character, cannot co-exist in one person, but simply to keep pointing out the two natures are different seems rather pointless. The orthodox concede the two natures are different:

The Bible truth is that Jesus is man. . .and God These claims are not mutually exclusive, as Marcus Borg asserts. Both are made, clearly and unambiguously, in scripture:

LogoMarcus Borg denies that Jesus is God, or ever claimed to be God:

"The Nicene Creed, the great creed of the church formulated in the fourth century, speaks of him in the most exalted language: 'We believe in one Lord, Jesus Christ, the only Son of God, eternally begotten of the Father, God from God, Light from Light, true God from true God, begotten, not made, of one Being with the Father. Through him all things were made. For us and for our salvation he came down from heaven. . .' Yet historical scholarship about the pre-Easter Jesus affirms essentially none of this. We are quite certain that Jesus did not think of himself as divine or as 'Son of God' in any unique sense, if at all. If one of the disciples had responded to the question reportedly asked by Jesus in Mark's gospel, 'Who do people say that I am?,' with words like those used in the Nicene Creed, we can well imagine that Jesus would have said, 'What???'" (Marcus J. Borg, 'Jesus in Contemporary Scholarship,' pp. 182-183).

Or is the church merely repeating what Jesus said about Himself when we say these things? Is Jesus God? What saith the scriptures?:


Jesus is God

Who is Jesus?

The Son is God.

Your Throne, O God The Work of Your Hands Let Angels Worship
True God Express Image Visible and Invisible
For Himself Son of God Kiss the Son
A Son is born Honor the Son Only-begotten God
Pantocrator Believe on the Son Only Savior
The Dead were Judged Everlasting to Everlasting

Jesus is Jehovah God.

Jehovah of the Old Testament.

Jesus is Jehovah.

A Voice Crying Temple Visitor Stone of Stumbling
The Rock of Israel The First and the Last Lord of all
The LORD our Righteousness Holy, holy, holy Captivity Captive
House of David Answered prayers With all His saints
Israel's Savior Giver of Life Every Knee Shall Bow
Pastoral Supply I send you prophets Who forgives sin
I am He He is Lord Call upon the Name
Doxology God with Us Lawgiver
Great Shepherd You Only Lawful worship
Builder I AM THAT I AM Moses' Veil
Wine Press Lord Willing Secret Things
Boasting Excluded King of Israel Fount of Living Waters
Searches the Heart Till Death Do us Part Angel of the LORD
Take Refuge Has Reigned On His Forehead
Me Whom they have Pierced Stretched Out My Hands Head
Keeper of Israel The Amen

Jesus is God.

Jesus our Lord.

Jesus Christ is God.

The Eyes of the Blind Thought it not Robbery Eternally Blessed God
Fullness of the Godhead Great God and Savior Faith in Him
Redeemed King of Kings Spirit of Christ
Destroyed by Serpents Lord of Glory Renewed in the Image
New Jerusalem's Lamp Now is Christ risen Upholding all Things
Light to the Gentiles My Companion Miracles
Prosecutors' Indictment Sun of Righteousness Thirty Pieces
Testator's Death Author of Life The Blood of God
My Lord and My God One Mystery of godliness
God was in Christ The Word was God Shared Glory
Omniscience Omnipotence Omnipresence
Change Not Yesterday, Today and Forever Whose Hand?
Not of Man Receive my Spirit Believe in God
Only Holy Sole Proprietor Priests
Walk on the Water

Sometimes you have to wonder how he can read these verses and obtusely fail to get the point: "In this context, the Q threat to Jerusalem follows: ''Jerusalem, Jerusalem, the city that kills the prophets and stones those who are sent to it! How often have I desired to gather your children together as a hen gathers her brood under her wings, and you were not willing!'. . .It is a strong indictment. . . The 'I' who desired to gather Jerusalem's children could be Jesus or God; in prophetic oracles, the 'I' is often God." (Marcus J. Borg, Jesus: Covering the Life, p. 242). Yes, and the 'I' who stands to the people of Jerusalem as a mother hen stands to her chicks is God; here, Jesus. But in this universe of pretzel logic, the 'pre-Easter' Jesus is not God, though the 'post-Easter' one is; how the 'pre-Easter' Jesus can be ontologically of an altogether different category from the 'post-Easter' one, I leave to the lobotomized to explain. Borg counters this flood of very intentional Bible evidence in favor of Jesus' deity with the usual objections one hears from Muslims, Jehovah's Witnesses, the Iglesia ni Christo, et al. In fact, if you've heard one of these people, you've heard 'em all:


Just-So Stories

It is the common perception that there is a lot of 'noise' as compared in ratio to 'signal' in our world. Things happen more or less at random, or so people believe. It might surprise non-theists to realize that theists do not 'hear' any 'noise' at all, only signal:

"Are not two sparrows sold for a farthing? and one of them shall not fall on the ground without your Father." (Matthew 10:29).

According to the 'things-happen-more-or-less-at-random' school of thought, you can tell that a story is made-up as opposed to 'actually happened,' precisely by this measure. If the 'moral' fits just-so, then it didn't really happen, it was made up after the fact. Certain things were predicted of the Messiah in the Old Testament, and exactly these things happened to Jesus, and yet the disciples cannot have recognized these correspondences after the fact. . .because they cannot have happened!

"For John, the story is a metaphorical narrative about Jesus as spiritual food. And because the story is given this manifestly metaphorical meaning, there is reason to think that it is metaphor and not memory." (Marcus J. Borg, 'Jesus,' p. 74).

In other words, it means something, and therefore it cannot really have happened this way:

This school of thought is quite willing to legislate reality in accordance with their principles. Christians of course have always thought the contrary, that inasmuch as the event as well as the prophecy are both under the same Authorship, then there is no reason at all why they mightn't correspond perfectly:

"I answer that, The author of Holy Writ is God, in whose power it is to signify His meaning, not by words only (as man also can do), but also by things themselves. So, whereas in every other science things are signified by words, this science has the property, that the things signified by the words have themselves also a signification. [...] Hence it is plain that nothing false can ever underlie the literal sense of Holy Writ." (Thomas Aquinas, Summa Theologica, P(1)-Q(1)-A(10)).

According to Borg, the reader who believes events occurred as reported has missed the point: "At noon, darkness comes over the whole land and lasts until Jesus' death three hours later. It is idle to wonder if this was an eclipse of the sun. . .if it were an eclipse, it would simply be a coincidental natural phenomenon. Nor does it help to suggest that this was a special darkness created by God. To see the darkness as something that happened risks missing the point." (Marcus J. Borg, 'Jesus,' p. 265). In other words, there cannot be meaning in anything that actually happens, but only in made-up stories. To theists, there is, of course, no such thing as 'coincidence.'


Pure Words Sufficient
Blind Eyes The Logos
Unbroken Doctrine of the Trinity
To What Purpose? Tradition

The First-born

If there is any fact better attested by history than that Jesus of Nazareth claimed to be God incarnate, it is that He called Himself God's Son. That the Messiah is God's Son is taught throughout both testaments:

The First-Born

Only-Begotten His Own Son
Declare the Decree The Beloved
I am Peter's Confession
Apostles' Confession The First-born
My Father Out of Egypt
The Vineyard Messianic Secret
No Consort Overshadow

Marcus Borg is willing to entertain the idea that the title 'Son' goes back to Jesus Himself, but only because it can be taken in a weak sense such as might be appropriated by any random Jewish charismatic. Jesus did not mean by this self-identification, of course, what Christians understand Him to mean:

"Jesus as a Jewish mystic—as one anointed by the Spirit, filled with the Spirit—is the germ, the generative impulse, for familiar Christian language about him. . .So also the Christian affirmation that Jesus is the 'Son of God' has its embryo in Jesus' s experience as a Jewish mystic, as seen in his calling God abba. Abba is  a parental metaphor whose male correlate is 'son'; if God is abba, Jesus is 'son.' Of course, it would not have been 'Son of God' in the later Christian theological and ontological sense, or the 'only begotten Son'. . ." (Marcus J. Borg, 'Jesus,' p. 135).

And why wouldn't it have been? Because, like all the myriad of 'Jesuses' spun off by modern 'scholarship,' this is the one he likes best. Personal preference is the bedrock for these 'scholars.' For purposes of brand differentiation, this is the 'Jesus' he hopes to market to the remnant congregation camped out in the ruins of the mainline church.

We learn from these folks that Christianity cannot be true, because Buddhists and Hindus do not believe in it. Do you think, therefore, gentle reader, that Buddhism and Hinduism cannot be true, because Christians do not, conversely, believe in them? Bigot! By this way of thinking, Hinduism is granted veto power over Christianity, but the more numerous Christians wield no veto power over Hinduism. In general, liberal mainline Christians are the most irrational people you will ever encounter. Atheists take some of these ideas and develop them consistently, Christians take others, arriving at an internal consistency which is not attainable for a whimsical and arbitrary mixture. "How long halt ye between two opinions?":


Mountain Top Baal
Engulf and Devour Circle of Equals
Rabbi Shmuley Boteach A Plague on Your House
Universal Longing Pearl of Great Price


The young Marcus Borg grew up believing something similar to Joseph Smith's idea that God was an exalted man who lived on a planet revolving around the star Kolob. A novel element of young Mr. Borg's version of the ancient anthropomorphite heresy is that God's facial features are to be conformed to those of his elderly pastor. He realized that Christians believe God is omnipresent, but rejected this as inconsistent with the idea that God lives far, far away. This stranger god, who resided in such a distant locale that he could not often visit, was unipersonal, not a trinity. Mr. Borg no longer so believes but rather believes, not in simple pantheism which identifies the universe with god, but that god equals the universe plus a superimposed spiritual layer of some sort. His new view may not be compared and contrasted with Christian orthodoxy, but only with his earlier view, which he sometimes imagines as the theology of 'American Christianity.' Such features of Christian theism as 'supernaturalism:' that God does mighty deeds like parting the Red Sea;— are to be rejected as pertaining to his non-omnipresent childhood god, though 'supernaturalism' is in no way incompatible with 'omnipresence.' A set of heretical and orthodox ideas were bundled together by the young Marcus Borg and cannot now be teased apart but must be accepted or rejected as a package: if you accept a 'supernatural' god, then he must share the facial features of young Mr. Borg's childhood pastor. This confessional approach, oddly enough, is not limited to one rather confused author, but is common in modern 'Jesus' studies, where whatever odd-ball ideas these authors held as children are projected onto the blank screen of 'American Christianity.' It is then accurately pointed out that these views are heretical by traditional standards of Christian orthodoxy, but in fairness it should also be pointed out that these authors' current views are also heretical.


When all is said and done, is Marcus Borg too calm, too sedate, too sensible for you? Then you must be looking for. . .

"Christianity, because it grew out of Judaism, almost inevitably carried this 'anti-earth' attitude with it. Its Jesus was understood as one who had invaded the earth on behalf of or at the behest of the Father God  from the sky. . .Salvation was portrayed as escaping the earth, which was somehow evil. It was a human-centered but heavenward-bound religious emphasis. Ecological disaster was all but inevitable." (John Shelby Spong, The Sins of Scripture. pp. 55-56).

The Five Fundamentals

How did Borg and his ilk manage to infect previously Christian churches with this particular variant of bad religion? The essence of their error is to say, with the Muslims and the Unitarians, that Jesus never said nor thought that He was God; subsequent generations of Christians invented that idea. And this is just exactly what these people say. So how can they infest churches which recite the Nicene Creed as part of their worship? With this sort of pretzel logic:

"There is a strong consensus among mainstream scholars that Jesus did not speak of himself as he does in John. . .And, because of the modern Western tendency to think that if a statement isn't literally factual, then it isn't true at all, I underline that as a Christian I affirm that Jesus is the Light of the World, even as I do not think that Jesus said this about himself. So also, I am skeptical that Jesus proclaimed himself the 'Son of God' or the 'Messiah,' but I nevertheless think these affirmations are true. They are the post-Easter testimony of early Christian communities, and as a Christian I agree with them — this is who Jesus is for me." (Marcus J. Borg, Jesus: Uncovering the Life, p. 315).

"[W]ho Jesus is for me"??? What can this possibly mean? If Jesus had not, in fact, been God incarnate, could the early church possibly have made Him to be such? What does the Bible say about man-made gods?: "Shall a man make gods unto himself, and they are no gods?" (Jeremiah 16:20). Humanity has no power to promote anyone to godhood not previously of that estate; man-made gods are idols. What can it mean to talk about who Jesus is "for me"? Will not every knee bow?: "That at the name of Jesus every knee should bow, of things in heaven, and things in earth, and things under the earth; and that every tongue should confess that Jesus Christ is Lord, to the glory of God the Father." (Philippians 2:10-11). Can it be that Jesus was God incarnate, but did not know He was such, having developed amnesia when He emptied Himself of all but love? Then woe to the Christians, who serve an amnesiac god, who must be reminded of His estate by His adoring followers, of later generations! Perhaps those 'liberal' Christians who can make sense of these transparent evasions will be so kind as to tell us where their lobotomy was performed, and by what surgeon.

All cults do their own in-house scholarship, the 'liberals' as well as the Jehovah's Witnesses. Quality varies, but those who imagine that writers like Marcus Borg and Bart Ehrman are uniquely insightful and well informed about the ancient world fail to understood how light-weight these authors actually are. Readers who share their initial presuppositions, including the idea that miracles are impossible, and thus that no man ever walked himself out of his own tomb, may find their work compelling, but those who do not can hardly be expected to. When this conclusion, that there was no empty tomb, pops out at the end, these readers should be gently reminded that this is because it was programmed in at the outset; this is no 'discovery' of modern scholarship, rather its starting assumption. We cannot express amazement at the discovery of chocolate chips, when they were baked in; they were there before the cookie tray ever went into the oven.

What group makes up the target audience for this new 'progressive' religion? People who are embarrassed by Christianity: "Several midlife professionals have told me that they're embarrassed to tell their colleagues at work that they go to church because of the assumptions they think their colleagues will make." (Marcus J. Borg, Jesus: Uncovering the Life p. 299). This weak and watered-down version of Christianity is for people who, through no fault of their own, were raised in Christian homes. They don't believe a word of it anymore but they're too timid and weak-minded to break free; they continue to feel they're doing something bad if they don't go to church. Marcus Borg is not afraid nor embarrassed to be their champion.