Friday, July 8, 2011

Marcus Borg, The Heart of Christianity, Ch 4, God the Heart of Reality

Marcus Borg, The Heart of Christianity, Ch 4, God the Heart of Reality.

Borg makes an important point initially in the Chapter; to be called a Christian you need to accept the reality of God. He then points out an amazing statistic 95% of Americans believe in God while in the UK this figure is 35%! (Makes me wonder what it is in Australia, probably closer to the UK).
Borg talks about world view and then two concepts of 'God'; these are
  • Supernatural Theism :: God as 'person like', with a person like being there is a separates, between God and the world. God as 'up in heaven', 'out there' beyond in the Universe. The clearest expression of this according to Borg is with Paul's writing.
  • Pantheism::  God and the world relationship is different. 'An encompassing Spirit'. The universe is very much entwined with God. Pantheism does not speak of divine intervention as as Supernatural Theism rather a God of divine intention and divine interaction.
A side aspect of this chapter is prayer. Why pray intercessory or petitonary prayer  with a panentheistic God. Borg's answer
Panentheism does not deny the efficacy of such prayer. Its framework allows for prayers to have effects, including prayers for healing. It does not rule out extraordinary events. But it refuses to see efficaious prayer or extraordinary events as the result of divine intervention. It does so for more than one reason. Intervention counters its notion of God: it does not see God as absent, but present. Moreover, it sees the notion of divine intervention as having an insuperable difficulty: if God sometimes intervenes, how does one account for the non-intervention? Given all the horrible things that happen, does the notion that God ever intervenes make any sense?

(This above paragraph was a light going off in my head. Many of problems that I inherently had with Christianity disappeared. Especially in the light of suffering in the world and praying for it.)

Borg goes onto write some of the issues regarding supernatural theism many of which I agree with
  • most westerners only have this as the only worldview of God.
  • Panentheism is just as biblical as supernatural theism if not more.
God as Personal

God as personal has difficulty with a Panenthiesm view of God it is much more suited to a Supernatural theism.  Though whatever God is like we still have to interact with him which becomes personal because that is what we are. I get the impression that Borg has not yet acquired the language or able describe how a 'personal' panethestic God interacts. He discusses the word 'Transpersonal' "more than personal"

The Character of God

Borg starts off writing that the Character of God shapes our faithfulness as well what the Christian life is about.

Basically you could sum it up as Law vs Grace. That the Church although might point to Grace but it traditionally leans in the direction on Law. Ultimately Gods Character is one of grace and love.

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