Before I read Meeting Jesus Again for the First Time: The Historical Jesus and the Heart of Contemporary Faith, I had been “searching” for Jesus. About a year ago, I decided that I could no longer accept the Jesus that conservative Christianity preaches about. I had slowly begun to realize that the literalistic Jesus was no longer worth my time or devotion. I secretly wondered if I could still be a Christian without blindly assenting to impossible tales attributed to Jesus, especially myths like the “virgin birth.” It suffices to say that I still had many questions about the man we call Lord, Savior, and Christ. Was he God? Was he the Son of God? If so, could he defy physics by resuscitating his own body? Did he really die for my sins? Borg’s answers to these questions changed my faith forever.
Borg is a participant in the Jesus Seminar, a group of theologians who have tried to determine what words and actions attributed to Jesus are authentic. Their conclusions are fascinating. They’ve concluded that a bulk of what is recorded by the authors of the Christian Scriptures are not the words or actions of Jesus at all.
According to Borg, “. . . the gospels are the church’s memories of the historical Jesus transformed by the community’s experience and reflection in the decades after Easter. They therefore tell us what these early Christian communities had come to believe about Jesus by the last third of the first century. They are not, first and foremost, reports of the ministry itself.”
Since the Gospels were actually written about 60-90 years after Jesus’ death, that leaves a lot of room for interpretation. Borg interprets Jesus in four different parts. He was a spirit person, a teacher of wisdom, a social prophet, and a movement founder. But most of all, he was supernaturally aware of God’s love for us and gave us the abundant gift of grace! It doesn’t matter what creeds or doctrines that I agree with. I hardly agree with every proposition that Borg sets forth, but that’s not what matters at all. The only thing that counts is grace: the free gift that Jesus offered to us. What refreshing news!
Beyond the mythical framework of Biblical literalism, I found a Christ far greater than the one that I’d known in the past. This Christ is one that relies not in working physical miracles to spread his message, but by working miracles with his almighty ability to give us the love that comes from God. I don’t call Jesus my “Savior” because he was supposedly born of a virgin and was nailed to a cross. I call him my Savior because his ability to love – perfectly – set him apart from any other human that ever lived. Finally, a Jesus that is worth our adoration!
I highly recommend Borg’s book to anyone who is on a search for the living Jesus, because when you meet this Jesus, “the Jesus who comes to us even now,” it will be like meeting Jesus again . . . for the first time.