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The God We Never Knew
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The God We Never Knew

4.14 of 5 stars 4.14  ·  rating details  ·  389 ratings  ·  47 reviews
Answering the many "spiritual" questions left unaddressed by such popular historical bestsellers as A History of God and God: A Biography, renowned author Marcus Borg reveals how to embrace an authentic contemporary faith that reconciles God with science, critical thinking and religious pluralism.

How to have faith––how to even think about God––without having to stifle mode...more
ebook, 192 pages
Published October 6th 2009 by HarperCollins e-books (first published 1997)
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Jim
Marcus Borg makes the case for a panentheistic concept of God, panentheism being a way of conveiving God's relation to the material universe.

Borg contrasts his concept with other ways of thinking about God:

- Theism (or supernatural theism) assumes a God that is entirely separate from nature, but who occasionally intervenes in miraculous ways (the "old man in the sky").

- Pantheism assumes that God and nature are one, that God is not separate from the universe.

- Deism assumes God created the un...more
Amy
Thoughtful, informative, and accessible, this book was exactly what I was seeking as I'm exploring my Christian beliefs and questioning what I had been taught about Christianity starting in my childhood. The author, Marcus Borg, deconstructs Christianity as both he and I had first learned it (e.g., God as distant, "out there"; God as judge, "finger-shaker"; salvation as an outcome to motivate beliefs and behaviors). He then proposes a historically- and scripture-based framework for Christianity...more
Jessica
I'm grateful that someone recommended this book to me. I've been reading the Bible as The Message Remix translation the past year or so, and so much of what I've read just didn't fit with the traditional theology I'd been taught, nor did that theology fit with the world I saw around me. The God We Never Knew introduced me to entirely new ways of thinking about God and about Jesus that made far more sense to me than anything I'd previously been taught.

Using Scripture along with a historical persp...more
George Mills
Borg presents a God all would hope for (which is why we never knew him), but his vision simply wishes the terrible, vindictive, jealous, genocidal, and even infantile God portrayed in many books of the Old Testament away. Like all apologists, his vision of Jehovah does not include the blood thirsty tribal deity of the 1st 5 books of the Bible. There is much to wish for in Borg's portrayal, but one cannot take all of the good and positive traits of something and say the other traits are simply th...more
John
This book updates Paul Tillich for the twenty-first century. Borg speaks comprehensively to those who are attracted by religion, especially Christianity, but who don't know how to participate while maintaining their integrity. Borg uses Tillich's updating of traditional Christian terms in a sweeping way, showing how his "new" understanding of God impacts all areas of the Christian life, ending with some thoughts on the afterlife. I bought his The Heart of Christianity at a used book sale this we...more
Thom Foolery
Jul 15, 2009 Thom Foolery rated it 5 of 5 stars  ·  review of another edition
Recommends it for: Christians, students of religion
Describes the Biblical basis for a panentheistic understanding of God. Explains clearly how our images of God influence how we relate to God, one another, and the natural world. Argues for a plurality of images of God and for a "new" understanding of Christianity that is less exclusivist and more focused on individual relationship with God, one another, and the world.
Sharon
Having studied modern theology for some 40 years (as an amateur, of course), Borg's writing does not surprise me, but he does express very well my understanding of the Bible, the church, and the meaning of faith. I am surprised that so little of this understanding has permeated the understanding of American church-goers. Borg makes the point that the fundamental, literal reading so many embrace is only a couple of hundred years old and does not reflect the origins of the faith. I was grateful to...more
Michael
Excellent for those who have outgrown the idea of the Old Feller in the Sky, but who still want "God".
Andrew
By and large, I found this to be a nice approach to dogmatism. I feel like being averse to dogmatism is often one of those things we tend to say without necessarily internalizing or applying it. "Yeah. I've been trying to move away from all the biblical rules and have a deeper relationship with Christ..." as "yeah, I'm going to try and drop a few pounds next year..." It feels more authentic and meaningful coming from Borg.

I did take a slight issue with some of Borg's statements, although even th...more
Thurman Faison
I would like to commend Marcus Borg for writing this book. In it he admits his struggles in coming into a concept of God, Christ, The Spirit and the scriptures that met his personal spiritual needs. The title "The God We Never Knew" is an attention getter. It certainly should be expected to get a response from many that would probably say "speak for yourself Mr Borg, we have known for some time the God that you have only recently discovered after many years of searching". I don't mean in any way...more
Audrey
An excellent book providing a most satisfying view of God. Borg says that "God has always been in relationship to us, journeying with us, and yearning to be known by us. Yet we commonly do not know this or experience this." The way we image God very definitely affects how we experience God. Borg provides quite a number of sacred images to show how we can be in contact with and experience meaningful relationship with God.

Borg continues his exploration of God by affirming Jesus as the revelation o...more
Salena
I bought the book, but had been avoiding it for fear of being irritated at all the Christian theology. But I haven’t been at all. There have only been one or two times in this book where I’ve rolled my eyes internally.

No, this author gets it. He knows the point of faith, and that it has nothing to do with the afterlife. Sure, I find it a little annoying that he states that he uses the terms “God,” “Spirit” and “the Divine” interchageably, but the Christianity he proposes solves many of the same...more
Maria
This book introduces a new way of envisioning God that I had not thought about before. I don't know (theologically) if everything he has concluded is accurate or something I'm willing to believe, but it certainly gives me lots of thinking to do over the next few years. I like where he's taking my thinking about God as panentheistic (all around us and with us all the time instead of dwelling somewhere else far away in space or beyond; different from pantheism, which states that God is in everythi...more
Linda Owen
I had come to some of the same conclusions on my own (including the right pronoun to use for God!), but Professor Borg places these ideas in a theological and historical context that is extremely enlightening. The experience of the sacred is central to his argument, and frankly could use even more emphasis in this book. (One of my frustrations with progressive Christianity is its tendency to intellectualize faith and over-rely on words -- even in hymns.) Borg's understanding of salvation is part...more
Gary
Mr. Borg has an interesting modern synopsis of historical Christian beliefs that I found refreshing to be reminded of. // You do need to keep in mind however, that in addition to offering a historical Christian perspective, he also advocates a historical Jesus, which is a totally different use of the word. He uses reverse-engineering to achieve this goal. You start with the belief that Christ can't be divine, so you strip away everything in the Bible that indicates his Godhead. Then you read the...more
Alicia
Growing up, I never understood why some people don't like talking about their faith. I know people who grew up with church and don't go. I didn't put a lot of thought into why. Reading this book introduced me to some views of God that I didn't know about. It is now easier for me to understand why some people wouldn't want to go to church. I feel fortunate in the view of God that is taught at my church. For me, He is a loving and forgiving father and friend.
Dwanna
Apparently this is the 2nd time I've tried reading this book and haven't managed to finish it before it was due back at the library. I think I need to buy my own copy. Even though it's not a very long book it requires slow, thoughtful reading.

Marcus Borg is one of my favorite writers on religious/spiritual topics even though his views are often a little more theologically liberal than mine.

1st try at reading: Jan 2009
2nd try at reading: Jul 2012
Joan
I like Marcus Borg. He takes a tough subject and handles it well as he shares the struggle that many of us have with God. He is able to move through his Lutheran Old Man in the Sky up-bringing to Panentheism in which God is both immanent and transcendent. As the scholar that he is, he uses many texts - even beyond the Hebrew and Christian Bible to make his point. I follow him easily up to a point, beyond which I as a non-Christian cannot go.
Linda
Borg revisits some of the same ground covered in Meeting Jesus Again for the First Time. I guess he wrote this before the other book of his I've read, Reading the Bible Again for the First Time. He expounds a bit more on the idea of a politics of compassion. He also outlines what a life of faith might look like for those who see faith not as a matter of belief, but a matter of relationship to the sacred.
Ryan
Much better than the more popular Meeting Jesus Again for the First Time, Borg presents an excellent introduction to the idea of Christian Panentheism, and offers experience from his own, personal, spiritual journey. Written by a well known scholar, this book does not presuppose much in the way of theological training, but is rather written for lay theologian, believers, and skeptics.
mahatma
saya sedang seneng ajah baca buku-buku 'historical jesus', entah dari dominic crossan atau marcus j.borg ini.
mereka berdua menyadarkan mengenai betapa perlunya menempatkan ide tentang 'yang ilahi' itu pada tempat yang tepat. hal yang membutuhkan perjalanan panjang dan jatuh bangun karena melibatkan pondasi ideologis yang selama ini kita yakini sendiri.
dengan begini maka iman dibawa maju.
Dave
Borg has interesting ideas and a compelling thesis, but ultimately moves from Point A to Point D without ever taking the reader through B and C. I'm sympathetic to his position, but the book often presents as fact what it should present as argument. I would like to have known how he came to his current point of view, but maybe I have to read one of his other books to discover that.

David Edgren
Marcus Borg is a thinker and a teacher. While I do not agree with all his conclusions, I truly enjoy taking the journey with him in each of his books.
The God We Never Knew explores the whole concept of God from a broad Christian perspective which includes the other faiths in our world in an embracing and exciting way. Part II - Imagining God - was my favourite. Very insightful.
Izzie Kikue
In this book Marcus Borg confirmed my own inner thoughts as a Christian and it has enabled me to break through a lot of doctrine that kept me from experiencing an intimate relationship with God. I'm very grateful to Borg dedication to his research and hard work in making it available for those who seek a deeper understanding of their relationship with God.
JRobin Whitley
Mar 16, 2013 JRobin Whitley rated it 5 of 5 stars  ·  review of another edition
Recommends it for: Rosemary Peek, Tara Fleck, Joshua Wilkey
I used this book as part of my morning quiet time and there were times I would get so excited about the theology or one of his concepts that I had to write. At other times, he wrote about concepts that caused me to read one sentence and then ponder it for a few days. I love this type of writing about God.
Jake Porter
I almost want to hand this book out on the street. A lot of the ideas in it seemed pretty natural to me, having learned long ago that God is found in everything- but you'd be amazed at how many people have never experienced the simplicity and freedom of this conceptualization of God.
Carol Cabbiness
Marcus Borg takes the dogmas of the Christian faith and refreshes them with a more contempary interpretation. Borg's focus is on the relationality of God revealed in Jesus Christ. In this book, Borg gives a new interpretation to the salvation found in Jesus Christ.
Clodia Metelli
I read this,hoping for a more in-depth discussion of panentheism, but this is a nice, readable book. It might be more of a starting point for exploration as it doesn't cover ideas in any great detail but gives a very basic introduction to liberal Protestant theology.
Jared
I love everything I have ever read that has been authored by Marcus Borg, a professor of religion at the University of Oregon. In this tome he critiques the traditional/literal conception of the Christian God and offer a new way of understanding this force.
Bishop Bergland
Generally very good, though I admit that his concluding chapter left me more than a little flat as he found it necessary to start the tired old Lutheran faith vs. works flogging of the dead horse. Without that, I would have given it five stars.
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Borg was born into a Lutheran family of Swedish and Norwegian descent, the youngest of four children. He grew up in the 1940s in North Dakota and attended Concordia College, Moorhead, a small liberal arts school in Moorhead, Minnesota. While at Moorhead he was a columnist for the school paper and held forth as a conservative. After a close reading of the Book of Amos and its overt message of socia...more
More about Marcus J. Borg...
Meeting Jesus Again for the First Time: The Historical Jesus and the Heart of Contemporary Faith The Heart of Christianity: Rediscovering a Life of Faith Reading the Bible Again for the First Time: Taking the Bible Seriously but Not Literally The Meaning of Jesus The Last Week: What the Gospels Really Teach About Jesus's Final Days in Jerusalem

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“The point is not that Jesus was a good guy who accepted everybody, and thus we should do the same (though that would be good). Rather, his teachings and behavior reflect an alternative social vision. Jesus was not talking about how to be good and how to behave within the framework of a domination system. He was a critic of the domination system itself.” 15 likes
“The Christian life is not about pleasing God the finger-shaker and judge. It is not about believing now or being good now for the sake of heaven later. It is about entering a relationship in the present that begins to change everything now. Spirituality is about this process: the opening of the heart to the God who is already here.” 7 likes
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