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The Heart of Christianity: Rediscovering a Life of Faith

4.19  ·  Rating Details  ·  2,848 Ratings  ·  208 Reviews
World-renowned Jesus scholar Marcus J. Borg shows how we can live passionately as Christians in today's world by practicing the vital elements of Christian faith. For the millions of people who ha
Hardcover, 234 pages
Published September 23rd 2003 by HarperOne (first published 2003)
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May 24, 2008 Mary rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
This really is an amazing book. Borg offers a vision of Christianity that doesn't require us to check our intellect at the door and that rejects the Christian exclusivism that so many of us find distasteful and irrelevant today. Borg offers a way of seeing the Bible, Jesus, and Christian practices that transcends the literal-factual interpretation that most people in my demographic can't swallow. My favorite thing about this book is Borg's rejection of the question, "Did it really happen?" Was J ...more
Interesting. I guess liberal Jesus-seminar-types do have faith after all....

I don't necessarily agree with everything, but I can see that Borg is really trying to forge a way of Christian living based on the historic faith. He is especially helpful in understanding that the biblical meaning of "belief" is not simply mental assent. It's not a checklist of right doctrines, but living faithfully, trusting God through Christ in the power of the Holy Spirit.

I do disagree with some stuff, which is wh
Aug 08, 2011 Linda rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
I loved this book. Loved it. It may not appeal to people who are pretty content with their current understanding of Christianity, especially if it's very narrow or conservative understanding. But if you feel like Christianity has lost it's appeal (or that it never had much) I highly recommend this book. It made sense to me on a very deep level. My reaction to almost everything I read was "this is what I've always thought myself, but could never really express well, even to myself."
Apr 03, 2008 Andrea rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
Ive seen this guy talk a few times, and read a number of his books. A Jesus scholar, really, and this is probably the one most important book in convincing me that following a "christian" faith, apart from connection to any particular religion, is still valuable to me. I dont know how to explain my complete lack of interest in the Bible as anything more than a literary/political work yet my continued membership in an Episcopalian church and my absolute spiritual hunger for the ritual of communio ...more
Katy Benway
Jan 25, 2013 Katy Benway rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
Four years ago I read Borg's "Meeting Jesus Again for the First Time," and the result was destructive. I loved and hated the book, not because of Borg but because I felt the Christian church had betrayed me. Borg's language about Jesus rang true--true to my thoughts and meditations, true to the reality I experienced, and true to history. But his language also complicated and even contradicted most Christian teachings I had encountered throughout my young life. "Meeting Jesus Again for the FIrst ...more
Dec 31, 2012 Roben rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
I'm so glad I read this. Our new minister told me that this book was singularly inspiring.

The following are lines from The Heart of Christianity that I reread and treasure:

Of course, the earlier paradigm uses the language of God's grace and compassion and love, but its own internal logic turns being Christian into a life of requirement and rewards, thereby compromising the notion of grace. Indeed it nullifies grace, for grace that has condition attached is no longer grace.

The point is, there is
Aug 28, 2007 Mark rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: theology
If you want one book to help you find a strong foundation for being a liberal Christian in today's society, this one is it. Borg, a Lutheran who at one point left the church entirely and is now back and reinvested in his faith, provides a strong basis for how someone can embrace the lessons of science and modern life and still accept the Bible, the church, a spiritual life and hope for the future.

And there's the added bonus that he's a thelogian that conservatives love to hate. OK, that's a lit
Apr 07, 2008 Beth rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Wow, an amazing book... a new way of living my faith that I will cherish for lifetimes to come. Currently attending a Unitarian Universalist Congregation, but am not fulfilled in my connection to the spirit through this practice... Marcus Borgs writings take me one step further and help my soul to grow and stretch, and become who it is I'm suppose to be. If anyone in Orlando wants to do the course that goes along with the book, contact me!
May 02, 2009 Megan rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
I absolutely will not delve into a thick review here because Marcus Borg gets SUPER deep in this one. I will argue that if you are a Christian and you are alive today you ought to read this and consider the diversity and openness amongst believers. It should be required reading and if it were maybe Christians would co-exist more peacefully considering varying denominations and factions within those denoms.
Sep 19, 2014 Matt rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
A sane, beautiful vision of Christianity that manages to be postmodern and deeply traditional at the same time.
Christopher Endress
Aug 04, 2010 Christopher Endress rated it did not like it  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: theology
What I learned from this book was not to read anything else by Borg.
May 19, 2008 Shane rated it it was ok  ·  review of another edition
I kept hoping to find something to hang onto . . . never did.
Dec 11, 2014 Diane rated it liked it  ·  review of another edition
Through this book I made my acquaintance with the concepts of "Earlier Christianity" and "Emerging Christianity," and it helped me think clearly about where I fit on a spectrum from one to the other. Also, Borg distinguishes between the American social and political value of personal independence versus the Christian value of communal participation and action. In addition, he makes a good case for the value and similarity of all major religions but, in my view, a rather poor case for why he hims ...more
Jul 02, 2014 Walter rated it it was ok  ·  review of another edition
I wanted to like this book. Better said, I wanted to be challenged by this book. And at times I was. I particularly liked his discussion on "thin places" and on his call that the church should be more concerned with social justice, not just content to feed the poor but also to ask why so many are poor. But his new paradigm of Christianity is far from orthodox. Worse, while he offers many deviations from what Christians believe to be true, he provides little in justification why we should change ...more
Nov 21, 2011 Ann rated it liked it  ·  review of another edition
I'd like to see every Christian (and everyone else too for that matter) read Borg. His research and descriptions and conclusions allow all current major religions to be "correct" and, at the same time, he gives clear reasons for being Christian .. and what that means. This book certainly helped me along on that path.

On the other hand, his ideas of the "emerging paradigm" of Christianity today are something I heard about years ago and have felt and believed for the past 20 years or so. These idea
Sean Mcdermott
Nov 17, 2012 Sean Mcdermott rated it did not like it  ·  review of another edition
In this volume he will indirectly take a swipe at C.S. Lewis, evangelical Christians and anyone who truly, truly believes in the resurrection of Our Lord.

He will give many kudos to Jim Wallis, social justice, Vida Scudder and the book "Nickel and Dimed" (refers to reading this book in the context of a book group as a consciousness raising event).

Excuse me, we're supposed to read a leftist's diatribe on the horrors of the free market and have our spirituality raised in our church book group as op
Feb 28, 2014 Ellen rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
I haven't read anything by Marcus Borg before, but wanted to give him a try, so I picked this randomly from what the library had on hand. It was a good read, and I found it very affirming of my style of faith. I know that Borg's ideas are challenging to Christians of a certain mindset, but they don't feel like anything new or revolutionary to me as a liberal Christian. I'm writing this from my perspective as a new-ish member of the United Church of Christ, and I've spent the last few years think ...more
John Lucy
Jul 20, 2011 John Lucy rated it did not like it  ·  review of another edition
Borg is probably not the best writer in the world, he makes lots of assumptions about the theology and positions of his reader. If only I had $100 for every time he says, "Obviously," "impossible," "makes no sense," "no one can think that way," about something that many people believe and think, sometimes including myself.

He does make some good points. But the points he makes aren't exactly arguments so much as simple descriptions of his viewpoint. If you want to read a book that explains the em
Kate Ditzler
Jul 15, 2011 Kate Ditzler rated it it was amazing
When I identified Love and Compassion as two of my values earlier this summer, I knew I wanted to express them through my Christian faith. I knew that my passion for justice is one of my gifts, but ultimately, I was not sure how to go about encountering the Divine.

This book answered these questions for me. It answered questions I didn't even have on a conscious level, about sin and salvation, amongst others. It presents Christianity through a postmodern lens, and I find it compelling for itself
Aug 23, 2010 Ian rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
This is a must read for anyone trying to be a Christian in the 21st Century and hasn't been able to adequately describe his or her beliefs.

And you have to read the Kingdom of God chapter twice - its what its all about - living it on the Earth now! Its not so much about salvation as picking up the cross and doing what is right in your time - economically, socially, fraternally, etc.

Awesome, a way to be Catholic and progressive - a must read.
Brandon Stewart
Jun 24, 2009 Brandon Stewart rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
Recommends it for: Anyone!
Marcus Borg presents an alternative vision of Christianity that has, frankly, reinvented my faith. He presents a vision of Christianity that involves my head and my heart. He affirms that faith is about an ever-deepening relationship with God, and that God is all around us, not "out there." All in all, a great book, and a strong vision. I would recommend this to anyone who is seeking to live out an authentic Christian faith in today's world.
This is the book that helped me understand what's at the heart of Christian teachings - and that they don't actually conflict with or even differ from my core beliefs. A shocking revelation to a Pagan-Hindu-Jew, and one that led to my becoming a Progressive Christian (of the Episcopalian variety).

I believe that all interpretations of God's nature are "right" - that there is no basis for "we're right, you're all wrong" judgements. I think we all have different names, understandings and explanatio
Evan Kostelka
Apr 18, 2016 Evan Kostelka rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: 2011
Basically a book about finding Jesus and God, or the "More," in all facets of life, including other religions. He also has a lot of views and ideas which run counter to the mainline beliefs of Christians. Worth reading to at least see the questions that most people are too afraid to ask in churches.
Apr 21, 2011 Laura rated it did not like it  ·  review of another edition
I was extremely disappointed in this book, and not only because it was not what I expected. I disagree with much of the author's theology and found it hard to get into the book as soon as I realized that. I do agree that we as Christians are to reach out to the world and be active participants in justice.
May 08, 2014 Sue marked it as abandoned  ·  review of another edition
As I start: Read a few reviews on Amazon today, and one by a J Lee Harshbarger impressed me the most. Harshbarger sounded more Christianly ("religiously" doesn't seem to be as descriptive) conservative than Borg, as I am, and he found some good things in the book. He gave the book 3 stars. He said that Chapters 2, 7, and 8 were the most meaningful (read: to one with a more conservative, but not a fundamentalist, frame of mind), so I thought I'd give this a go. Other reviewers, who I think are mo ...more
Apr 05, 2014 Fred rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Borg attempts to forge a compromise between the "Ultra Conservative" and the "Ultra Progressive" camps of Christianity in this work. It is a very interesting read, though I'll admit to being no closer to embracing my own version of "Truth" than I was before beginning this book.
Admittedly, I do have more tools with which to frame my thoughts and this work has certainly presented me with questions that I need to frame.
The bottom line here is that neither the devout nor the doubters will likely be
Oct 20, 2015 Nirrvana rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: my-favorites
This book changed my perspective forever. It eased all my doubts and let me know I wasn't the only one out there who thinks this way.

My church has also had several enrichment series with this book and with Marcus Borg in general. It's amazing what clarity he brings to Christianity and scripture for those of us who just couldn't bring ourselves to believe in the right wing judgmental form of Christianity that people think is Christianity.

I highly recommend this book to those of you who believe in
Aaron Lopez
Jul 10, 2014 Aaron Lopez rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
The Heart of Christianity by Marcus Borg is a fair assessment of Christianity from a progressive Christian thinker. He deals with religious pluralism effectively and the practices of justice and compassion in a thoughtful manner. Borg also is fair to a more conservative Christian worldview.

Borg seeks to make understanding and compassion and justice to be on the main agenda when one is a Christian. He seeks to unite religions rather than divide. The section on Christian practice in terms of pray
Joel Wentz
Dec 16, 2015 Joel Wentz rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Marcus Borg was an amazing figure, someone who managed to defy many of our typical categories. He was a progressive/liberal, historical Jesus scholar, but someone passionate about daily faith practices, prayer, friendly dialogue, and social justice. More than anything, I love his "heart" (pun intended) throughout this short book, and while I don't agree fully with everything he contends (I still think he jumps to "metaphor" a little quickly in some texts, draws a too-harsh distinction between th ...more
Nov 27, 2011 Bonnie rated it liked it  ·  review of another edition
I appreciated Borg's explanation of the new paradigm of Christianity which harkens back to the metaphorical approach actually employed by the writers of the original Biblical texts. Borg offers a poetic way to retain one's faith in a postmodern world and effectively shows how Biblical literalism is a modern development. While demolishing more literal interpretations of the Bible, he asserts that mythology allows Christians to live a fruitful life of compassion while maintaining a closeness to Je ...more
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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
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“A perception of empire is found in an early Christian acrostic. An acrostic is a word made up of the first letters of each word in a phrase or sentence. In this case, the phrase is an early Christian saying in Latin: radix omnium malorum avaritia. Radix means “root,” omnium means “all,” malorum means “evil,” and avaritia means “avarice” (or “greed”). Putting it together, it says, “Avarice (or greed) is the root of all evil.” And the first letters of each word produce Roma, the Latin spelling of Rome. It makes a striking point: Roma - empire - is the embodiment of avarice, the incarnation of greed. That’s what empire is about. The embodiment of greed in domination systems is the root of all evil.” 1 likes
“[S]in in popular Christianity is often understood individualistically, obscuring the reality of “social sin.” An emphasis upon sin most often leads to introspection about what I have done wrong. Of course, such introspection can be helpful, but it clouds the fact that much of human suffering and misery is not because of our individual sins, but because of collective sin. For example, when it is emphasized that Jesus “died for our sins” (and thus for your sins and my sins), our sins are seen as responsible for Jesus’ death.

But it wasn’t individual sins that caused Jesus’ death. He wasn’t killed because of the impure thoughts of adolescents or our everyday deceptions or our selfishness. The point is not that these don’t matter. The point, rather, is that these were not what caused Jesus’ death. Rather, Jesus was killed because of what might be called “social sin,” namely, the domination system of his day. The common individualistic understanding of sin typically domesticates the political passion of the Bible and Jesus.”
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