The year was 2001 when I first read Marcus J. Borg’s book Meeting Jesus Again for the First Time: The Historical Jesus And the Heart of Christianity. This book spoke to me, touched my heart, challenged my mind, and accompanied me on my way ever since. Marcus describes his own journey from believing certain things to discovering the spirituality of Jesus and his foundational experience of the sacred Spirit.
Marcus’ description of his journey resonated with my own. He became a mentor for me, who gave me inspiration, questions, conclusions, and language for my personal quest to grow in my faith experience without leaving my intellectual capacity behind. My life as a Christian is not so much about believing certain things but about a way of living in a relationship with the Sacred, being inspired by the Spirit. This relationship challenges me continuously to transformation, to a way that makes sense to me as a Christian of the 21st century. From Marcus I learned to embrace any questions I might have. And he also instilled in me the courage to address my “non-beliefs,” and to encourage other people to do the same.
Marcus Borg could admit that he did not have all the answers. At the same time, he could also use his deep knowledge about the first century or of contemporary statistics for very critical arguments about the world surrounding us. I understand that Marcus touched the lives of many people who might otherwise have left the church and the Christian faith. Marcus said, “Adult theological re-education at the congregational level is an urgent need within American churches today. It is essential to Christian formation. And from my own experience and from a number of studies, I know that it has been a source of re-vitalization in hundreds of congregations around the country.”
In the late 1980s Marcus received an invitation from an Episcopal group in the San Francisco Bay area. “We want you to talk to us about Jesus,” they said, “and we want you to make it personal.” Nobody had ever asked Marcus to “make it personal” before. Trying to figure out what to say, he wrote the words “Me and Jesus” on a page, and reflected on those words. What emerged was the story of “Marcus and Jesus”—of what he could remember about Jesus from his childhood, adolescence, early adulthood all the way to the present of a Jesus scholar in his “personal and academic pilgrimage.”
Marcus gave us insights like Jesus’ “early followers experienced the risen Christ as the functional equivalent of God, as ‘one with God.'” He pointed out for us that “the Christian life is about entering into a relationship with that to which the Christian tradition points, which may be spoken of as God, the risen living Christ, or the Spirit,” and that this relationship involves us “in a journey of transformation.”
We are on this journey together now! It is up to you and me to continue the conversation about what it means to live as a Christian in the 21st century. The Marcus J. Borg Foundation can help us to promote the work of Marcus, and to inspire and encourage us to honestly continue the conversation and discussion about important questions of our faith life – now and for the future!