Agnostic About the Afterlife

I am a committed Christian and a complete agnostic about the afterlife. I use “agnostic” in its precise sense: one … Continued

I am a committed Christian and a complete agnostic about the afterlife. I use “agnostic” in its precise sense: one who does not know. Moreover, I know that I cannot resolve “not knowing” by “believing” – whatever we believe about an afterlife has nothing to do with whether there is one or what it is like.

There is more to say. I think that conventional Christianity’s emphasis on the afterlife for many centuries is one of its negative features. I have often said that if I were to make a list of Christianity’s ten worst contributions to religion, it would be its emphasis on an afterlife, for more than one reason.

When the afterlife is emphasized, it almost inevitable that Christianity becomes a religion of requirements and rewards. If there is a blessed afterlife, it seems unfair to most people that everyone gets one, regardless of how they have lived. So there must be something that differentiates those who get to go to heaven from those who don’t – and that something must be something we do, either believing or behaving or some combination of both. And this counters the central Christian claim that salvation is by grace, not by meeting requirements.

Another problem: the division between those who “measure up” and those who don’t leads to further distinctions: between the righteous and the unrighteous, the saved and the unsaved.

Another problem: an emphasis on the afterlife focuses our attention on the next world rather than on this world. Most of the Bible, on the other hand, focuses our attention on our lives in this world and the transformation of this world. At the heart of the Lord’s Prayer is the petition for the coming of God’s kingdom on earth: your kingdom come on earth, as it already is in heaven. There is nothing in the Lord’s Prayer asking that God take us to heaven when we die.

As yet another reason for my agnosticism about an afterlife: does it involve the survival of personal identity and reunion with those we have known in this life? Are family reunions part of the afterlife? For some people, this is much to be desired, for family has been the primary source of love and joy in this life. But for perhaps an equally large number of people, family has been the primary source of pain and unhappiness. So, are we going to be with those people forever?

What I do affirm about what happens after death is very simple: when we die, we do not die into nothingness, but we die into God. In the words of the apostle Paul, we live unto the Lord and we die unto the Lord. So whether we live or die, we are the Lord’s.

For me, that is enough. My not knowing anything more does not bother me at all.

And I am very wary when the Christian gospel becomes a message about the afterlife. I am convinced that it invariably leads to distortion. This is not the Christian gospel.

Marcus Borg
Written by

  • BELOW THE LINE OF DESPAIR

    Horrible, do you see how this man is feeding on ashes? In what sense is he a committed Christian if he ignores the many Biblical passages on the afterlife? I Co 15 *snip* *snip* gone!”When the afterlife is emphasized, it almost inevitable that Christianity becomes a religion of requirements and rewards. If there is a blessed afterlife, it seems unfair to most people that everyone gets one, regardless of how they have lived. So there must be something that differentiates those who get to go to heaven from those who don’t – and that something must be something we do, either believing or behaving or some combination of both. And this counters the central Christian claim that salvation is by grace, not by meeting requirements.””But for perhaps an equally large number of people, family has been the primary source of pain and unhappiness. So, are we going to be with those people forever?”.” There is nothing in the Lord’s Prayer asking that God take us to heaven when we die.””an emphasis on the afterlife focuses our attention on the next world rather than on this world.”Please, if you have been swayed or undecided regarding liberal theology- look upon this horror. This is what liberal theology is. This man is living below the line of despair, in some irrational nether world where he vacillates between nihilistic materialism, and an absurd groundless hope of meaning that he cannot explain based upon his presuppositions.

  • BELOW THE LINE OF DESPAIR

    It’s strange really: “I use ‘agnostic’ in its precise sense: one who does not know … So whether we live or die, we are the Lord’s … My not knowing anything more does not bother me at all.”He wants to take from you the Gospels and epistles and leave you with only Ecclesiastes 12:7. He does know more, and that’s what bothers him, it seems.Does the Bible leave us with only a vague pantheistic possibility of an afterlife, from which we are not supposed to derive any sort of hope or comfort?Mt 25:34 – Then shall the King say unto them on his right hand, Come ye blessed of my Father, inherit the kingdom prepared for you from the foundation of the world.Ph 1:21 – For to to live is Christ, and to die is gain. But if I live in the flesh, this is the fruit of my labour: yet what I shall choose I wot not. For I am in a strait betweixt two having a desire to depart and to be with Christ; which is far better.I Th 4:14 For if we believe that Jesus died and rose again, even so them also which sleep in Jesus will God bring with him. For this we say unto you by the word of the Lord, that we which are alive and remain unto the coming of the Lord shall not prevent them which are asleep. For the Lord himself shall descend from heaven with a shout, with the voice of the archangel, and with the trump of God: and the dead in Christ shall rise first: Then we which are alive and remain shall be caught up together with them in the clouds, to meet the Lord in the air: and so shall we ever be with the Lord. Wherefore comfort one another with these words.

  • Russell D.

    Seems like some of the most the responses are very narrowed in here. David:Very close-minded my friend. You should hook up with Pablo and Canyon Shearer. Afterlife should not be a concern. What should concern people is the here and now. Gotta remember, the Bible isn’t the word of God, it is a book with stories. Stories put in place to give root to a movement. The stories are borrowed and unoriginal, and some of the better ones were left out. There is merit in the Bible though, don’t get me wrong. It does have good messages. But even the messages are borrowed. Look around at the world and experience life. If you lead a happy life, you won’t give a rat’s doo about death.

  • Andrea

    I second that, Russell

  • AMviennaVA

    It is IMPOSSIBLE to be a Christian and agnostic about the afterlife. Since that is the first sentence the author wrote, the rest is tripe.

  • AMviennaVA

    Chaotician wrote “…the early followers of Jesus were Jews; for several hundred years.” WRONG!

  • Terra Gazelle

    As a Pagan I have a different idea of the After Life. So tell me where does this make sense?I also believe in reincarnation, once is not enough time to gain enlightenment.Will someone please tell me what I am missing.I believe that what is bad harms others. What is good promotes the welbeing of others. This does not mean there has to be a belief in any god…it means you want to help others. That takes a good heart not a certain faith.In my faith there is no hell..Hell also was not in the Jewish beliefs…so where did it come from?I believe that all spirits have the goal of enlightenment, and those spirits have the decision of what they need to learn and what it will take to learn it. That to me, is why being discrimitory against others for their sexual orientation, race or color, gender or handicap is totally stupid. Because you were or will be that person. Compassion needs to be learned, after all it is a virtue. We learn it by living it. We all have much to learn and what we call our god/s is small stuff..how we live and how we treat others is the big stuff.It’s all part of the Universal Law…what you send out returns to you. Fate is a boomerrang.

  • Angela B.

    Mr. Borg, I believe you are self deceived to believe you are a Christian. You don’t even believe the Bible and you couldn’t possibly have read it if you can truly believe you’re a Christian. Call yourself an agnostic not a Christian or go pick up the Holy Bible and read, study and mediate on it; start with Romans and then Galatians.

  • rafael

    Morris:Pascal’s wager is silly. By picking Christianity’s god to worship you are not picking a million other gods who might be the right one. These odds aren’t especially good. Even worse, it seems likely that by worshipping another god you will anger Allah, or Thor, or Zeus, or perhaps a more vengeful god and be punished even more than someone who showed no allegiance to any god.As an atheist, I believe in only one god less than you do.If your life depends on picking a stock, you’d have to know you were picking the one that will actually deliver and not the one that promised to.

  • Julie

    Re: the first postWhat would Christian apologists use for evidence of an afterlife if they were not allowed to cite the Bible as if it were actually a reference book? The Bible is no more valid as a reference than Wikipedia. Both are written by committee and subject to editing based on whims and personal interest as much as fact. Sure, you can quote philosophers, but if you’re perfectly honest with yourself, there has been no one, nor will there ever be anyone who can give us a definitive answer to the ultimate question. What strikes me most odd about Christian apologists is their need to be Christian apologists. If you have faith, does it really matter whether any of the rest of us believe? Why the anger and the need to question Mr.Borg’s commitment as a Christian? Why the indignation at the idea that someone could both be a Christian, and yet still feel the need to question? I don’t understand the hypersensitive nature of the so-called devout. For folks who are supposed to have found inner peace, they sure seem to thrive on external turmoil.

  • lds mark

    CHAOTICIAN: Wow! How misinformed you are.I recommend some study on your part.Mark

  • lds mark

    CHAOTICIAN: Wow! How misinformed you are.I recommend some study on your part.Mark

  • lepidopteryx

    Pascal’s Wager is incomplete, and therefore, defeats its own purpose. It fails to take into account the possibility that there may indeed be One True God, and it may not be the Christian god. In that case, Christians would be just as screwed as many seem to think the rest of us are. As for afterlife, I don’t believe in eternal rewardor punishment. When I die, my body will be consumed by various scavenging insects, worms, and microflora. It will become part of the soil, which will nourish plants, which will nourish animals, which will nourish other animals, all of which will eventually die and become part of the soil, etc – THAT, my friends, is my idea of Eternal Life. I beleive that my spirit will simply dissipate, becoming part of the energy fields of the Universe.

  • Luke

    Wow. The “blame humanity first” crowd. Human beings are so evil and terrible that God created them knowing full well what they would do. So God simply said “you have free will” and his isn’t responsible for our actions anymore. Oh and take this other scapegoat, Satan, to be responsible for everything we think is “bad”. Absolute nonsense. So if you know that a tsunami is going to hit a coastal town but refuse to warn the residents because they have the free will to not live by the coast, then you aren’t responsible. Doesn’t matter how good your Jesus is, your God is far more evil than any human being that has ever lived.

  • Luke

    Also, you don’t love God. You don’t love Jesus either. You’ve never met them, spoke to them, or had any actual contact with them. You love what they can DO for you, much like a child loves an aunt that gives them toys and candy. That isn’t love. Would you die for God or Jesus if you wouldn’t go to heaven afterwards? No you wouldn’t. I would die for my mother and father even if hell was awaiting me afterwards, because I actually do love them. There is no sincerity in that – it is false love, brought on by the promise of something better. If I loved a woman because she promised to give me a nice house and make me happy forever, would that really be love? Such delusion – it skews truth more than it ever proves anything. Rewrites history to confuse people into believing, and then demonizes the antithesis of it. Brilliant show, but game.set.match.

  • D.W. Van Winkle

    N.T. Wright presents an argument that is not circular. He argues that the most probable explanation for the origin of the Christian church is the physical resurrection of Jesus. He does this on the basis of his examination of the history of the ancient world and the Christian church.Peace,

  • FRIEND

    Oh purple finch,If I should tell you anything,E E CummingsDo not go gentle into that good night,Though Wise men at their end know dark is right,Good men, the last wave by, crying how brightWild men who caught and sang the sun in flight,Grave men, near death, who see with blinding sightAnd you, my father, there on the sad height,Dylan Thomas

  • AMviennaVA

    Terra Gazelle @ October 10, 2007 1:18 PM: You wrote “Christians seem to think if they just believe in Jesus they will gain their carrot and move on up to Heaven.” You are obviously misinformed and never made the effort to have an informed opinion. The individuals conduct, that is both actions and inactions, determine the ultimate fate. In other words, saying ‘I believe’ is irrelevant.

  • D.W. Van Winkle

    Pascal’s wagerI have never been favorably impressed with Pascal’s wager. Doesn’t the god who is the greatest terrorist win? Surely it in the gamblers enlightened self-interest to worship the god with the hottest hell and the most wonderful heaven (most virgins or most gardens based on which text of the Koran you prefer). There are better reasons for faith than Pascal’s wager. Peace,

  • John Carter

    I only hope that I’m awake when I die. It only happens one time and I’d hate miss it! Then I get to do one of my favorite things forever, sleep!

  • Luke

    Amviennava – you can just state that. You need to back up your claims with some scripture or proof – something you may have never done based on your responses.

  • Terra Gazelle

    Amviennava,So…? Will I, a Pagan who has lived as good a life as any…while I do not believe that Jesus is the Only son of god…will I join all the good Christians? (Not that I want to…its just a hypothetical.)terra

  • Terry

    John Carter – be careful what you wish for….it is said that those that deeply disbelieve in a life after death can, after their demise, remain asleep for decades or even centuries, before they exhaust their karma and finally awake to once again reincarnate as a human. As you suggested, remaining awake and conscious during one’s passing is the best of all possible worlds – but is in fact almost impossible without deep training in the necessary meditative skills. Virtually everyone loses consciousness for a period of time during death -see the Tibetan Book of the Dead for a more in-depth explanation.

  • Thomas Baum

    TO MARCUS BORG AND THE REST OF HUMANITY: You wrote, “I am a committed Christian and a complete agnostic about the afterlife. I use “agnostic” in its precise sense: one who does not know.”, this sentence makes no sense whatsoever considering that christianity is about the afterlife AND the meaning and reason for this life. Jesus said, “MY KINGDOM IS NOT OF THIS WORLD”, what do you think that this means or do you think it is meaningless? Paul said, “If our concerns are only of this life then we are the most pitied of people”, do you think that this might mean something? What do you think christianity is even about? You also wrote, ” If there is a blessed afterlife, it seems unfair to most people that everyone gets one, regardless of how they have lived.”, in the bible it says that God said, “My ways are not your ways, and My thoughts are not your thoughts”, do you think that statement might be true? Considering that some of the people that call themselves “christian” as long as they get to the “good place” that seems the only thing important to them, maybe what is important to God is the welfare of ALL OF HUMANITY not just some of them. We are all God’s children and God’s Plan is for all of us to be in the Kingdom, the new heavens and new earth. The True, Living, Triune, Triumphant God is a searcher of hearts and minds, not of religious affiliations or lack thereof. We will all be judged, we have free will and it is important what we do and why we do it and what we know. I have met God the Trinity and I know that He is real, when you wrote, “I am a committed Christian and a complete agnostic about the afterlife. I use “agnostic” in its precise sense: one who does not know”, have you met God and if not, how come you are not an “agnostic” committed Christian in its “precise sense”? God has a Plan and has had that Plan since before creation and it is unfolding in God’s time, God wins, satan loses, a tie is unacceptable. You also wrote, “When the afterlife is emphasized, it almost inevitable that Christianity becomes a religion of requirements and rewards”, yes, it does seem to become that when people look at christianity as a religion rather than a covenential relationship between God and a person, and also when you don’t look at it as part of God’s Plan from before the beginning. Take care, be ready, see you in the Kingdom. Sincerely, Thomas Paul Moses Baum.

  • ark

    No one can KNOW what’s in store after death. It’s simply beyond the ken of human beings. Period. (I know, I know, believers have the Word, and that settles it for them. May they find comfort in that.)On the other hand, I disagree with those who dismiss religion out of hand. Just look around the world. Everyhere people find their own way to worship, to relate to the unknown, to the miracle of life. It seems to me to be a very deep-seated and very basic human activity. The tragedy is that very few can recongize that their own particular view of God has been informed and tempered by the culture they were born into. But isn’t that obvious? Too many fail to see the commonality that underlies all belief; far too many come to see their own sect’s view as ultimate truth. The rest of humanity is just plumb out of luck. If there were a God, that would be enough to make Him or Her cry.

  • Michele H.

    Ah, but Paradox,

  • Michele H.

    Pardox: Might it be possible

  • Carol

    Luke,I don’t understand your assertion that “God is far more evil than any human being that has ever lived.”First, for the sake of argument, you are allowing that there is a God and presumably the afterlife that goes with it. Generally speaking, Christian people claim that this afterlife is far more wonderful than they can imagine.So, if God permits people to drown in a tsunami and brings them back home to himself — to a place far better than this mortal world — how exactly does that make him evil…? I have caused my own kids plenty of short-term suffering for long-term benefit. I’ve taken them for vaccinations which made them cry, I’ve often refused them candy when I could have indulged them, and I’ve allowed them to experience the consequences of their mistakes. I don’t see that as evil because I see a bigger picture than they do. Do allow that if there is a being such as God, he may likely think things through a little further than we do.

  • Concerned The Christian Now Liberated

    Somalitrade,And this same God/Allah/Zeus instructs Muslims to hasten the path of the infidels to Heaven or is it Hell for infidels?? Give us a break!!!!!! You cannot escape the 24/7 butchering of Muslims by other Muslims/infidels in the name of Allah.

  • imagine

    Jesus said we have to become like little children to enter the Kingdom of God. All these posts are written by such serious, intellectual, adults. Will they all go to heaven wherever that is? I hope so because not one of us is any better than another and not one of us is loved more than another. When we all finally know the answers I hope we will then be friends.

  • A Mother

    Moments after I was told my child was dead I experienced a black empty shock thinking what if there is no life after death. I shook it away because I could not have lived with that thought. The stakes are so much higher now that she’s gone. I can’t continue to live if I don’t at least hope what Christianity promises me.

  • Prefabman

    Jesus’ message had nothing to do with our modern overly sentimental Christianity of today. “Kingdom of Heaven” is a state of mind for each individual to achieve, not a physical place. The New Testament is about how each individual can achieve their own “Death and Rebirth”. If you get a chance, read Maurice Nicoll’s “The New Man”. Great stuff

  • Try not judging others

    Jesus is pretty much agreed to have existed historically. The Bible is only the inerrant word of God if you think it is, so it is not definitive. Therefore, if you believe everything the Bible says about Jesus is true, you may reach one conclusion about Jesus’ teachings and the nature of the afterlife. If you think that the Bible probably contains some things Jesus actually said, with a bunch of other stuff added by other people years later, you may reach a different conclusion about Jesus’ teachings. You could both be Christians, though. There are Christians who believe faith is the main requirement and that will lead to good works, and there are Christians who think good works is the main requirement. There are even Christians who don’t think Christ rose physically from the dead. There are Christians who believe more in judgment of others and Christians who believe more in love of others. So YOU can’t determine whether someone else is or is not a Christian. You can only define whether you think YOU are a Christian. This is in the “Judge not, lest ye be judged” category. But humans do LOVE to judge.

  • pv

    How COULD we know?We are only human and I think it’s great to think and dream and ponder…The mistake is the pretense that you CAN know.The mistake is to bet ALL you have on one horse.The mistake is to tell people that don’t believe the exact same thing as you that they are bad and going to hell.Inerrency is the biggest mistake of all.Life is an adventure with many facets….and the final mystery will only be revealed when we pass.Make your bets smartly-p

  • Ron Roberts

    Neither the “Great Commission” or the “Great Commandment” contain anything about an afterlife.

  • pv

    “that an appeal to behave morally is absurd if there is no post-mortem judgment.”I do not believe there is post-mortem judgment.and yet, I behave morally.It’s not absurd, I’m a human being with respect and admiration for people around me. We’re awesome! I don’t believe the bible is a fact book, though it has marvelous lessons for us all.

  • BR549

    This is the most intelligent and sensitive post I have ever read on any Washington Post blog. I may have to join the Borg…….

  • Neal

    For as long as I can remember, my ‘saintly’ mother and aunts have sullenly and compulsively prayed for a quick and painless death so that they could be with Jesus in heaven. They are in their 80’s and 90’s now, still praying, and still frittering away what could have been a joyful life, full of exploration and wonderment at what’s been right in front of their eyes, right here on Earth.

  • BELOW THE LINE OF DESPAIR

    “What would Christian apologists use for evidence of an afterlife if they were not allowed to cite the Bible as if it were actually a reference book?””The Bible is no more valid as a reference than Wikipedia. Both are written by committee and subject to editing based on whims and personal interest as much as fact.””Sure, you can quote philosophers, but if you’re perfectly honest with yourself, there has been no one, nor will there ever be anyone who can give us a definitive answer to the ultimate question.” “What strikes me most odd about Christian apologists is their need to be Christian apologists. If you have faith, does it really matter whether any of the rest of us believe?””Why the anger and the need to question Mr.Borg’s commitment as a Christian? Why the indignation at the idea that someone could both be a Christian, and yet still feel the need to question? I don’t understand the hypersensitive nature of the so-called devout. For folks who are supposed to have found inner peace, they sure seem to thrive on external turmoil.”

  • Concerned The Christian Now Liberated

    It is good to dream. It helps get through the tough times.Professor Crossan is another in the “don’t know and don’t care” club. And both professors have reviewed the scriptural texts thoroughly putting them in a class above most of us. With respect to Hell: Father Edward Schillebeeckx, the famous contemporary theologian, has a different take on Hell. He reasons that the Singularity does not tolerate imperfection in its spiritual realm. Therefore, any soul dying in mortal sin will simply disappear since Hell, the imperfect state, does not exist.

  • Neal

    BELOW THE LINE OF DESPAIR:What age will my resurrected, glorified, physical body be? At the age it was when I died? What if I was a fetus who was not carried to full term?Where in the physical universe will all of these physical bodies reside?Since Jesus and Elijah (and some say Mary) were taken into heaven, body and soul, is it possible to see them w/ the Hubble telescope?These are not rhetorical questions. For someone so cock-sure of all the answers I’m confident you can fill us in.

  • z-bob

    In a global religious climate where too many “believers” of differing faiths look forward to a reward in the “afterlife”, I urge people to experience the peace and joy of the “kingdom of heaven” , “nirvana” , “paradise” NOW.

  • Chaotician

    This is one of the greatest hoaxes of all time! Jesus, if he existed was a Jew; the apostles were Jews, Paul was a Jew, the early followers of Jesus were Jews; for several hundred years. Jews have no concept of a Heaven, Hell, or even souls! The Kingdom of God for the Jews is to be one this planet, presumably in Palestine!

  • Gary Jackson

    The question of the survival of the “family” in the afterlife has been a major plank in the beliefs of Mormons. My wife is a devout Mormon, myself less so. Oh, I attend church on a weekly basis but more so out of maintaining a social connection with friends and neighbors than any seeking out the answers to the mysteries of life and death.But, the notion that our families will be reunited in the afterlife strikes me as patently ridiculous on its face. The family is a transient feature of life here on earth. How can my parents hope to have their children reunited with them as a central family unit when we have all grown up to have central family units of our own and their children are now busy about doing the same.Will Abraham Lincoln’s son Robert rejoin the family unit having gone on after his father’s death to sire many generations of families? What will Abe do when he sees the vast numbers of his offspring all coming to whatever constitutes his door in the afterlife. Mary Todd had better have plenty of provisions for that is likely to be one enormous gathering considering that Abe’s own parents, grandparents and…well, you get the picture.The point is, familes are a wonderful contrivance for the social well being of humans here on earth. We all need a sense of belonging, of being loved and family constitutes that fundament that all other social constructs are developed. But in the end, families are transient. They end. And they begin again.

  • Linty

    For me, it is quite simplistic; I have no cognitive pre-life experience, so it is hard to then conceive of a post-life one.

  • Linty

    For me, it is quite simplistic; I have no cognitive pre-life experience, so it is hard to then conceive of a post-life one.

  • Linty

    For me, it is quite simplistic; I have no cognitive pre-life experience, so it is hard to then conceive of a post-life one.

  • BELOW THE LINE OF DESPAIR

    Neal, it’s not fair to call me cocksure- I’d never go *beyond* the Biblical data by speculating on what you’ve mentioned.Borg on the other hand has taken what data we *do* have and he’s clearly denied it. My pointing this out is not at all arrogant. Don’t try to exonerate Borg by accusing me of the opposite. That dog won’t hunt

  • UCCer

    Angela, and “Below the Line of Despair”Actually, there are many Christians who do not agree with the evangelical Protestant notion of God the judge with heaven the reward and hell the punishment. There is actually slim scriptural evidence for this theology. Many, even in the evangelical community (Brian McLaren for example) argue that Jesus’ message about the Kingdom of God, Kingdom of Heaven, and eternal life is not about the afterlife but rather a present spiritual reality. Don’t you think it’s better to let God be the judge rather than putting yourself in God’s place? Claiming God’s role in judgement is one of the worst sins and one of the most common sins by the fundamentalist crowd.

  • BGone

    At That “notion” like all “notions” comes from the human mind. And, it’s universal. Everyone, atheists, agnostics, free thinkers of all kinds and evangelicals in their massive number of cults one and all have a “notion” of more life of some kind after this life.The afterlife as you call it is totally independent of God or supernatural beings of any kind. That which comes from the human mind, “notions” stands alone, on it’s own two feet. The “notion” of supernatural beings, gods, Gods, sons of gods, angels, devils, all imaginary beings also come from the human mind but a different place therein.Religion combines the two, uses supernatural beings to threaten the non suspecting with being deprived of their afterlife, more life after this one. “Unless you accept Jesus Christ as your lord and savior you’re going to hell” is standard American evangelical gun-of-hell to the head. It’s disguised in “sermon on the mount” philosophy.The key to understanding religion is hell. The history of religion is the history of hell. The “notion” of faith in supernatural beings only confuses the issue. Simply remove God and see what’s left. Faith is not in God but rather in those who use God as a weapon to threaten with hell, being deprived of the afterlife. It’s as old as the “trust me” con.

  • Paradox

    “And I am very wary when the Christian gospel becomes a message about the afterlife. I am convinced that it invariably leads to distortion. This is not the Christian gospel.”Speaking of gospels, any complete reading of the 4 New Testament gospels, Matthew, Mark, Luke, and John, will reveal a very clear and recurring teaching about the afterlife by Jesus. It is why He said He came to earth. To give eternal life to those who believe in Him. I don’t understand how anyone who claims to be a committed Christian can miss the main tenet of Christianity.

  • Richmond T. Stallgiss

    I can accept what Borg says as being authentically Christian, but I think it is important to preserve a sense of wonder and expectation about what ‘the afterlife’ *might* look like. The present life is not the ultimate reality. What we see here is just a foretaste of what is to come; we see now as through a mirror darkly, then we shall know fully, even as we are fully known. If you stop looking, you stop learning. Peace,

  • Margery

    I consider it tough enough to deal with what is going to happen two days from now, thus worrying about what my ‘reward’ would be after I die is just worthless worry.

  • edward

    There is absolutely no evidence for an afterlife. Religion uses it in a carrot and stick manner to scare people into remaining in the faith and acting in a proper manner. It is pure nonsense and is not worthy of a thinking person in this scientific age.

  • edward

    There is absolutely no evidence for an afterlife. Religion uses it in a carrot and stick manner to scare people into remaining in the faith and acting in a proper manner. It is pure nonsense and is not worthy of a thinking person in this scientific age.

  • BTLOD

    “Actually, there are many Christians who do not agree with the evangelical Protestant notion of God the judge with heaven the reward and hell the punishment. There is actually slim scriptural evidence for this theology.”Consider what happens to denominations that allow liberals to take over, such as UCC, or the Episcopal Church – they face declining membership, while conservative denominations such as SBC, AoG, or PCA continue to grow. I’m not saying we should worship church growth (a la Osteen), but it certainly seems that the liberal view of scripture is in the end nihilistic, and eventually the pew sitters detect this and leave.

  • John

    Thank you for a sound and insightful article. It takes me back to when I was a child. My mother took me to church at a very young age. Of course the attention span of a young child is very limited and I was prone to figiting. My mother said that if I was good, she would take me for ice cream after church. I would try so hard to be good but not to gain from the teachings. I was five. I wanted the ice cream.I have always resented the Christian notion that basically says “Be good in this life and you shall be rewarded with a spiritual sundae”.Attempting to be a good person is its own reward.

  • John

    Thank you for a sound and insightful article. It takes me back to when I was a child. My mother took me to church at a very young age. Of course the attention span of a young child is very limited and I was prone to figiting. My mother said that if I was good, she would take me for ice cream after church. I would try so hard to be good but not to gain from the teachings. I was five. I wanted the ice cream.I have always resented the Christian notion that basically says “Be good in this life and you shall be rewarded with a spiritual sundae”.Attempting to be a good person is its own reward.

  • David

    Mr. Borg,You have an opportunity here to clarify an important biblical topic for the readership of the Washington Post, potentially tens of thousands of people, and you have abused that privilege royally. It is by the grace of God that we are saved, because we don’t deserve to be saved. The graciousness comes into play as the very first step…God is gracious and merciful, as a result he is willing to forgive us for our sin and look past our mortal weakness. THAT’s the gracious gift of God. After that we need to decide that giving our life to his will is more important than giving our life to our own will; and keep our eyes on heaven. Afterlife is not a debatable topic, it is a crucial tenet to Christian faith. The whole Christian point would be lost, if afterlife was simply a man-made addendum. We are to give our lives to God and be his servants; in return for our stewardship we are rewarded by living with him forever in the kingdom of heaven. It is not a question of whether there is a heaven; the question is whether you have given your life in the truest, fullest manner to God.

  • Rachel

    I very much appreciate Marcus Borg’s image of “dying into God.” I have seen this myself. What happens beyond death? Speculation is idle. Live. Seek justice. Love compassion. Walk humbly with God. That’s enough.A good Christian can safely trust questions beyond daily life to God. Questions like the origin of the universe and the destination of our consciousness after death are not so important as the abundant Life that we participate in today, and our call to be faithful to Love and Truth in our daily living. Learning how to live faithfully is enough trouble for one lifetime.

  • jonny

    Pie-in-the-sky.Good to see even a magical thinker acknowledge it.

  • R. Russell

    I thought that the first step — to sell everything and give the money to the poor — would have been #1. Yet, look at all the Christians. Christianity has always been a great religion for exposing hippoctites. You must give it credit.

  • Hans

    I like to see life as Creative Energy, which for me is another term for God.We know from science that things visible and invisible vibrate at varying rates. The more invisible, the higher the rate. The top rate would be Creative Energy, or God, it just makes sense.The bible says “The Kingdom of Heaven is within you”. We are already part of Heaven, a part of God, it’s Jesus who says it. God is within us, although we are not aware of it. Do we grasp this? It’s not a place, it’s awareness. As long as we do not think and behave in the sense of being a true servant to the Creator (Creative Energy) and our neighbor (the first two commandments, which is all that counts), our awareness capacity will not rise up to the Heaven within us.Jesus said (paraphrased): “He who is not as perfect as my Father in Heaven will not be able to be in His presence”. Since Heaven is within us but we are seemingly unaware of it, it simply means that we do not follow those two first commandments. Only introspection, self-observation and consecutive acting with regard to those two commandments will help us forwards, there is no free lunch, and, for me, grace does not mean my sins are just going away, no, GRACE means that we shall be shown the way back to Heaven within, if we really mean it.How that works out in detail (after-life, reincarnation, or whatever variations thereof) is not important, what is important is that we come to terms with our unbalanced thinking and acting at every moment of our life, all day long, day after day.It’s all about our thinking (and consecutive acting). We hold a grudge? Is it the other’s fault? Shouldn’t we deserve better? Don’t we permanently judge the other person, unconsciously (due to habit) or fully consciously? Jesus insisted on not judging the other, but instead on trying our best to be helpful.Our actual state of awareness will not go away after our physical demise. Our state of awareness is real energy, and real energy is lasting (as shown by physics), but it’s the rate (the spiritual rate) of vibration that counts. As long as that rate is not aligned with Heaven within (perfect love), we will remain searchers of the true path. And that vibrating rate will only change by changing our thinking (and the resulting actions), permanently.Churches are communities, with their own views and ideas, they can be helpful. But the real Church is of spiritual nature, invisible, it’s all the individual parts of Heaven within taken together. “My Kingdom is not of this world”. The essence, or creative energy, is the highest form of energy, invisible. Heaven is not of this world, but at the same time present in the midst of every human being on this world.As long as we try to follow His teachings, we don’t have to worry, we do not have to know the exact inner (spiritual, high-energy) workings, but knowledge and insight will come to us, daily and in exact proportion to our inner progress. We know so little about the exact workings of the universe and life, but we are promised knowledge if we ever get to the point of becoming coherent. We can’t serve two bosses at the same time, i.e. service attitude AND egocentric interests. Trying to do both will not work, because the universe is so coherent and it’s impossible to act against universal laws without paying back.What we do know now is the vibrational essence of life, of the universe, and that the same law governs everything. It cannot be otherwise, if we believe in a sole source for all this, and a unique source of all this makes sense, otherwise there would be contradicting forces at work, or better said, there would be chaos. But when we look at nature, we can see that each atom is a server of its neighboring atoms, that’s why it works. We should do the same, as per the second commandment. The first reason to act like this lies in the fact that Heaven is within everybody, everybody is part of God, and by being truly collaborative in life, we are collaborating with God personally. So, the first and second commandments mean essentially the same thing.There is only one Law.

  • frank burns

    It would seem that any creator went to great pains to make anything before our birth and after our death here completely opaque. The message would be “Find your meaning here.” But Christianity insists on subverting this message. The “here” is just “a little milk spilled on the ground,” compared to the “there.” Christians don’t have meaning in this life, or for themselves, it is all contingent on God’s value — serving him, making him happy, and providing for themselves (and perhaps others, but to a minimal extent) in heaven. They are blind to any meaning in life — they in fact will tell you, if you do not believe in an afterlife, “Well, then, your life has no meaning, because when you are dead, everything is over, you will be inexistant.” In the absence of meaning they play a litle logical trick — like when once to explain what held up the earth some cosmologies said it was on the back of a turtle. They push the question of meaning “one step back” but without really answering it. What then, is God’s meaning, what is our meaning in heaven?” The truth is, if you cannot find meaning in 70 years, you will hnot find it in 700, 70,000 or 700 billion. And, if you can find meaning in 70, then the amount of that meaning is entirely sufficient.

  • Sylvester Boyd

    I find Mr. Borg’s comments about Christianity’s emphasis on the afterlife startling. For better or worse, Jesus himself taught that there is an afterlife. To me, it is unquestionable that there is an afterlife. But “afterlife” unfortunately seems to imply to Mr. Borg that life after death is one-dimensional or that there is a single destination for all who die. Yes, the Bible says that salvation is by grace, but that is not to say that your personal acceptance of it does not change your personal conduct. After all, God applies justice to your life, which will determine how and where you will spend your afterlife. Grace is not a free ride through this life. But true grace changes us from within thereby assuring us salvation according to the pattern that Christ lays out for those who are his. As a “committed” Christian Mr. Borg should be assured of his salvation without works. However, we do wear salvation like a piece of clothing. After all, we learn that Christianity is not just a religion, but a way of life. Following that way of life assures us salvation because grace is applied to those who truly believe that Christ has the power to forgive and His Spirit keeps us on the walk of life called “The Way”. And yes, we are rewarded for how we live it. And, by the way, Mr. Borg’s hazy explanation about what he affirms happens after death is that we die into God is skewed. Paul meant that when we are converted we live in the Lord by walking the walk and we die into the Lord by dedicating our life to Him – while we are alive and breathing. But He should know that, yes, a great part of the philosophy of The Way (as the early Christians called it) IS a message about the afterlife. After all, what make Christianity possible is the death and resurrection of Jesus Christ – the very heart of Christianity. The Bible devotes plenty of verses to the consequences of how this life is lived and that judgement comes for all in the afterlife. Because our perceptions of it get distorted is only par for the course, because much of Christianity’s message get distorted. He may as well be wary of Christianity itself which puts him in no position to represent the faith, in any form.

  • Thomas Baum

    TO DG AND THE REST OF HUMANITY: You made some comments about hell and I would like to make some comments not only about hell but spiritual death, it really doesn’t matter if anyone believes me but I have experienced both. Some people seem to think that there is a hell and it is where either God or satan sends them, actually hell is built by the person that goes there. Jesus, Himself, went to hell and I do mean the uttermost depths, considering that He took upon Himself the sin and the sins of all of humanity by His choice, He was not forced to do it, He did it out of Love, that is why He chose to become a human being. Also hell is not seperation from God, that is spiritual death, hell is going to God and the consuming fire of Pure Love, instead of being so wonderful beyond words, burns you instead that is why God is trying so hard to get thru to people but right now with free will, He cannot force people to repent. Repenting means being sorry for whatever wrong that anyone does and we all do wrong. We are all God’s children and God’s brothers and sisters no matter what some “christians” say, page one, “Let us make man in Our Image”. We sure seem to be quite an unruly family, don’t we? Some people sure would get a totally wrong picture of God from what some of the people that call themselves “christian” present Him to be. God is not the egomaniac that some people think, knowing His Name is not some kind of magic and if you say His Name then it doesn’t matter what you do, this is patently absurd. It does matter what you do and why you do it and what you know contrary to what some people say. We have free will and we are resposible for what we do and we will all be judged, it is kind of like asking to be cleaned or being cleaned later, nobody gets away with anything, Thank God that God’s Plan is for all of His children, it is sad that a lot of “christians” get really upset about God’s inclusivity, I personally am very thankful for God’s Plan. Only God knows all of the details since He is God but I am here to declare in advance that God wins, satan loses, a tie is unacceptable. God always sends someone doesn’t He? I say that because I have been chosen by God to be the New Testament Moses but if you, and by you I mean everyone, look in the bible it says it all over the place. For those that say that they believe in the bible instead of trying to shove it down other people’s throats maybe they should at least attempt to live it. The Divine Commission given to us by Jesus, “PROCLAIM THE GOOD NEWS”, and if we look at the angel’s announcement of Jesus’s birth, “This is Good News for all people” and “Peace to whom God’s favor rests”, two seperate statements, both true. Jesus offered the invitation, “Come follow Me” , it still stands. Also on the cross Jesus said, “Father forgive them” pretty simple and direct and all-inclusive. He also said, “It is finished” which means “PAID IN FULL” maybe when God speaks so simply and clearly, we should take it to heart. Take care, hang it there, be ready, see you in the Kingdom. Sincerely, Thomas Paul Moses Baum

  • Morris

    rafael:Inherent in your statement that people might choose the wrong God/religion and therefore gain nothing by practicing their religion is the idea that God is a jealous God (very Judeo-Christian assumption).A more generous God would see that a person practiced the religion and lived up to the highest ideals of the culture they were born in. Such a person would be rewarded in the afterlife regardless of which God they chose.

  • jon zebedee

    always a great POV, marcus. “i do not know” is it so hard for people to say those words? is there no room for mystery in our lives? http://www.jesusisnowhere.com

  • jon zebedee

    always a great POV, marcus. “i do not know” is it so hard for people to say those words? is there no room for mystery in our lives? http://www.jesusisnowhere.com

  • jon zebedee

    always a great POV, marcus. “i do not know” is it so hard for people to say those words? is there no room for mystery in our lives? http://www.jesusisnowhere.com

  • AMviennaVA

    Terra Gazelle @ October 10, 2007 5:31 PM: “Many times I have read here that going to heaven was not deed based, you had to believe that Jesus was God. I have been told that a person could live a sinless life, and if they did not believe in Jesus they are out of luck.” That is unfortuantely a set of correct statements, and were encouraged by the Catholic Church in th emiddle ages, especially when it was selling spots in Purgatory (at least they were ‘honest’ not to guarantee Heaven). However, the concept of Purgatory was created as a fund-raising technique. Nonetheless, there is no basis for either the sentiments nor the concept.You also stated “I have read where even Hitler, if he believed that Jesus was the son of god…all his sins would be forgiven and he would be with the saints.” God can forgive anyone, but belief in Jesus Christ is NOT sufficient. I have, however, ran into fanatics who will assert some fascinating concepts and statements and simply will keep repeating them. They are stil wrong.As for “So…? Will I, a Pagan who has lived as good a life as any…while I do not believe that Jesus is the Only son of god…will I join all the good Christians?” We do NOT know! 😉

  • Anonymous

    Luke @ October 10, 2007 4:28 PM: I would respond to you, but your posts on ‘October 10, 2007 2:35 PM’ & ‘October 10, 2007 2:46 PM’ imply that there is no rational basis for discourse.

  • AMviennaVA

    Luke @ October 10, 2007 4:28 PM: I would respond to you, but your posts on ‘October 10, 2007 2:35 PM’ & ‘October 10, 2007 2:46 PM’ imply that there is no rational basis for discourse.**Sorry, I left ou the handle.

  • Comfort/Friel in ’08

    Terra Gazelle: So…? Will I, a Pagan who has lived as good a life as any…while I do not believe that Jesus is the Only son of god…will I join all the good Christians? (Not that I want to…its just a hypothetical.)terra”If a pagan leads a sinless life, then he would go to heaven even if they had never heard of Jesus. But we have ALL sinned and fallen short of the glory of God! Your life may be ‘as good as any’, but that’s not good enough! Go to wayofthemaster.com and take the Good Test, if you dare!

  • comfort/friel in ’08

    Oops. Sorry – link is at livingwaters.com/good.

  • Terry

    One thing we know for sure – and once again confirmed many times on this thread…religion and the religious are almost infinitely inflexible in their beliefs, even as to the afterlife!! – even though it’s all just something they read in a book. There’s nothing quite like a true believer. To the rational mind beliefs are only provisional, until either proved or disproved – they get us through the day, but The other approach to religion is scholastic and academic – knowing that religion is also a social phenonemon & never isolated from the greater society, it can be studied in this context. The anthropological method yields interesting relationships, insights and historical facts that will always escape the individual swimming in that particular sacred pond. One doesn’t have to believe or disbelieve in order to gain both knowledge & appreciation for the creativity of the human mind – whether the sugject be religion or any other field of endeavor. If life has any meaning whatsoever it’s bound to involve learning in some way, shape or form. Folks that are locked in religious beliefs have stopped learning – they should take that into consideration whenever they start quoting the bible or any other religious tract as a source of absolute truth – it just can’t be…there are no absolutes that we know of.

  • Gene Fisher

    Amen!

  • Judith

    My mother died this summer a year after she was diagnosed with a uniformly fatal brain tumor. We knew that her death was just over the horizon, but given the disabilities that come with brain surgery and the great white shark (our surgeon described her tumor in that language) that lurked in her head, we lived that year as fully as we could. At 82, she retained an iron grip on her love of life.

  • Luke

    Good escape Amviennava. At least you bow out with class. Anyway, so if God designed us to fall short of his glory, then what would be the purpose of our creation? To toy with us and see who believes and who doesn’t? Did God create the universe just so he could watch a bunch of “filthy” human beings interact with each other? God created Saturn for what reason? Pluto? If he already knows what is going to happen, then he doesn’t have the excuse of ignorance for not acting! Could it be that your perfect, omnipotent being has weaker morality than human beings? His laws are weaker? God is stagnant – he does not progress or change. How are his laws even applicable? “Don’t be gay, or burn in Hell for eternity”. Real loving. So, like, why did you make him gay if you knew he was going to burn in Hell for it? Don’t program these things into someone’s DNA if you don’t want him to suffer. God is such a joke. Being an atheist is so liberating.

  • BTLOD

    frank burns: Interesting objection you bring up, but here’s the problem with that. You are right that you can perceive meaning apart from religion, as you can watch television apart from understanding (or even being aware of) electricity. But that doesn’t mean electricity isn’t necessary to the working of the television.I assume the meaning you were talking about would be something like love or aesthetics, but there are other types of meanings where the connection to God and eternity are more concrete. Morality, for example. What would it take for our moral intuitions to “mean” something, as opposed to their being mere evolutionary brain-gas (as Doug Wilson puts it).

  • Anonymous

    Neal, we can have great confidence in the clarity of the word. It’s only very rarely that a disputed word has *any* bearing whatsoever on doctrine (such as authenteo in 1 Ti 2:12 domineer vs. ‘exercise authority’ and even in that case, there are clear passages elsewhere about gender roles), and I disagree with your example. There are 2 separate words “lachanon = garden plant” and dendron “= tree” being used. Mt uses both, Mark uses garden plant (or herb in the KJV) and Luke uses tree. Note further that in using the two terms, Jesus is not contradicting himself- the mustard plant is the largest garden plant, as well as a tree (which back then would simply have denoted a large plant).Christianity isn’t silly Mormon science fiction. *They* might actually think if they could locate the planet Kolob in a telescope, they’d see Joseph Smith and Moroni smiling and waving at them through the other end.The Bible says the heavens and earth shall pass away, and there shall be a new heaven and a new earth (2 Pe 3:10-13). Jesus has gone to prepare this place for us (John 14:3). But we do not know if this is done outside the universe, or at some point within it (Peter was not speaking in our current cosmological categories, so we do not know how these apply to the term ‘heavens’). But the essential point is *that* he is doing this, not *how*. You’re like a man bleeding to death who wants to know all the mechanisms involved in blood circulation, before you’ll let the doctor apply a tourniquet to save you.

  • alwaysastudent

    Borg is the only person I’ve ever read who articulates one of the most troublesome aspects of the concept of “family reunion in heaven.” This was a major selling point for the fundamentalist church I was raised in. Yet, as Borg points out, families are one of the chief sources of grief here in this valley of woe. Also, the idea that for all eternity one was going to be defined by the relationships one had in life– always a child, or always a parent, or always a member of a married couple, nothing changes and there is no growth– and that family member who was clearly a Christian by the church’s definition, but who also was a royal pain, would always be there…And this is supposed to be heaven?

  • BTLOD

    “alwaysastudent: AAS, read Matthew 22:23-30 and note the punchline in Matthew 22:30. Our relations with others will be different and our natures themselves will be different in heaven. Why is this such a stumbling block for you? Haven’t even your earthly relationships with your family members changed over time? Then why can’t you believe this to be true after our incomprehensible and glorious translation into the heavenly state. Please, snap out of it for goodness sake!

  • D.Sarkar

    To Dear reverend Marcus Borg,So after having lengthy discourse, the whole thing boils down to one conclusion- The ” “Morphogenetic Field”, is a pervasive Energy that control us. I call it divine nature and Supreme, The GOD.

  • J. Rhinehart

    “Distortion” is right. I grew up with a grandmother who focused on the afterlife. She didn’t do well in this world; she lost her home and part of her family in 1929-30, she was ridiculed by others for being so immersed in religion that she couldn’t see what was wrong in & around her; she had wanted more than anything to go off to Korea as a missionary. Her family talked her out of that when she was younger, leaving her to find a new dream. She never really did. I think people like my grandmother want there to be a better life after this one because this one is such a disappointment to them. But you’re right; wanting it doesn’t make it so. My mother’s family was hurt because her mother was so unable to deal with the present. If she’d never been told to look for an afterlife, I think her family life would’ve been much different. However, there is one thing believing in an afterlife can do for some people: it can make them think long-term. If relationships are forever, then relationships become more important. You know, the Mormons emphasize that “Family is Forever.” They go to extremes to make people focus on it, telling them that they have to do genealogy researches and baptize anyone who wasn’t baptized in the past in order for them to get into heaven. I think such lies are made up by people to get an abstract idea across to concrete people, like parables. That doesn’t make this true, and woe unto the person who’s so stupid they don’t realize it’s a gimmick. But people convince themselves it’s OK to lie for such a good cause. Is it?

  • Neal

    BTLOD:Even literalist theologians disagree frequently about the meanings, and even actual construction, of certain words and phrases as they have come down through the various Biblical translations and through the context of historical usage. The word “tree”, in the some Bibles, for example, is not always a very large plant with a large trunk, etc.: sometimes it’s just a bush, as is evidenced in the various translations of the story of the mustard seed. From what I’ve read, The discovery of the Dead Sea Scrolls, and other non-Biblical literature, continues to spawn, amoung committed conservative Christian scholars, not only new speculation on possible interpretations of individual words, but even on the very sense of the earliest Christian community. This task might be allot easier for all of us, by the way, if so much “heretical” literature hadn’t been used as kindling by Christians throughout the ages. In view of this apparent unfinished “data” collection, your reliance on the translation of the version of the Bible that currently sits on your nightstand, would therefore, in and of itself, seem to be speculative in nature. This is why I question how you can seem to be so absolutely certain that your view of Christianity trumps anyone else’s.I also do not think it unfair to ask you, as an individual, to speculate on how some of the “truths” you espouse, especially in regards to the physical universe, actually occur. If you believe that Jesus and Elijah *exist* somewhere in our universe, then surely you must have an *opinion* if it’s possible to see them with the Hubble telescope. It would seem unfair of you to ask anyone to believe in these things without offering *any* explanation of how they might be possible.

  • dg

    Thomas Baum. Thank you so much for sharing your faith on these posts. I appreciate your courgage, please keep posting. Someone may actually listen. I cannot understand how anyone can call themselves a Christian and not believe in the resurrection. I have encountered God, the Holy Spirit, Christ and the resurrection. Yes, the resurrection is real. It is more real and more wonderful than anything that is within human imagining. Because something is beyond our understanding does not make it impossible. How arrogant and ignorant we are, to think that just because we cannot get our tiny minds around a thing that it cannot exist. How infantile. And yes, there is a heaven. Heaven is living in the prescence of God for eternity. And yes, there is a hell, hell is living out of the prescence of God for eternity. And that is the only difference between heaven and hell, and that is the only difference there needs to be, because to live without God, even in a paradise, would be the worst hell you could ever imagine. And God dosn’t send you to hell, you decide to go there yourself when you reject God and believe that you are wiser than Him and can save yourself and have no need for His grace. But I do believe that most people would spend only a second in hell, and their utter lonliness and hopelessness would be so completely unbearable, and their longing for God would be so great that they would repent, and be joyfully welcomed into heaven.

  • LT

    “slim scriptural evidence” for the theology of God’s judgment (and grace)?It’s useful to note from Prof. Borg’s bio on this page his membership in the Jesus Seminar, which denies that Jesus said most of the sayings attributed to Him in the gospels. Given such a denial, the claim naturally follows that “a message about the afterlife … invariably leads to distortion [and] is not the Christian gospel.” Prof. Borg’s use of the word “gospel” in the singular is very deliberate, since the whole of the “gospels” plural would show that they are claiming the existence of an afterlife.The scriptural evidence is “slim” only if one slims the text of the gospels, excising anything miraculous or having to do with an afterlife. It’s an old trick, done two hundred years ago by Thomas Jefferson.Note that I’m objecting less to doubts about the existence of the afterlife than to denials that the Bible asserts an afterlife.

  • Birchfield, servant of the LIVING GOD….the GOD of ISRAEL who was and is and will be forever

    …….”Take A LEAP OF FAITH”……”THEN YOUR SEE………..”YOU HAVE TO TAKE A LEAP OF FAITH TO FIND THE LIVING GOD……FOLKS ITS AS SIMPLE AS THAT!…….YOU READ THESE WORDS THAT YOU SEE, AS CHRISTIANS WE WALK WE FAITH AND NOT BY SIGHT!IN CONCLUSION, YES…HE’S REAL, AS REAL AS HELL, AND AS REAL AS THESE WORDS.HE’S WHATS HOLDING ME UP!!!…..WHATS HOLDING YOU UP!……YOU HAVE TO DECIDE ITS THAT SIMPLE AND YOU’D BETTER HURRY….”LIFE IS SHORT!…’THANKS BE TO THE LIVING GOD, WHO HAS ALLOWED ME TO TELL THOSE WHO SEEK THE TRUTH….THE TRUTH!

  • Concerned The Christian Now Liberated

    The Reincarnated, “Visionair y” “Moses” Baum,Thump, thump, thump!!!!!!

  • Terry

    BTLOD – just an observation….it appears your view of the cosmos is of the ‘hard’ anthropic persuasion – also known as Intelligent Design.In that sense, the universe is self-created and evolving intelligence is here to literally give shape to the phenomenal universe while intuiting purpose and meaning – that’s our job. This does not in any way impute or prove a stand-alone creator as apart from the creation. There are of course other scientific views and cosmologies that consider the anthropic principle unproven & fraudulent, because it’s a teleology (putting the cart before the horse).

  • UCCer

    BTLod,How wrong you are. McLaren cites many, many scholars who hold this view in his books, including Dallas Willard. Furthermore, entire branches of Christianity (e.g. Eastern Orthodox) have a different view of the afterlife. As I understand it, the Orthodox view is that those who love God will enjoy God’s intimate presence in the afterlife, whereas those who worship idols (such as money) over God will feel discomfort being so close to God in the afterlife. As far as church growth/loss, I am always amazed and stonished at how you fundamentalist pigs rejoice at declining mainline membership. First of all, the cause is mostly due to simple demographics. Perhaps you should be more concerned about the larger trend that those who self-identify as Christians is decreasing at 1% per year according to more than one study. In the recent study by the Barna Group, 40% of those 16-29 age range say they are not Christian. (See the book UnChristian). Their study also showed that the perception of Christians by non-Christians, and even many Christians is highly negative due to perceived self-righteousness, judgmentalism, hypocracy, and political connectedness. In other words, the negative perception and the general erosion of the faith are due to you fundamentalist pigs.

  • Thomas Baum

    TO CONCERNED THE CHRISTIAN NOW LIBERATED: I am not reincarnated, the Old Testament Moses said, “Someone like me will come”, He did not say that he would be back. Sincerely, Thomas Paul Moses Baum.

  • Steven Hovey

    The opening paragraph is contradictory and oxymoronic. To be a “committed Christian” and be an agnostic about the afterlife, by whatever meaning of agnosticism is chosen, is to not believe Christ and everything he taught. It is the same as saying we belief IN Christ, but we don’t believe Christ. How committed is THAT?

  • Concerned The Christian Now Liberated

    Moses and Also Thomas Baum,It appears you are suffering from a multiple personality disorder. Might want to see a “shrink”.

  • Terry

    BTLOD – My own feeling is that theistic religionsPythagorian & Buddhist thought, as examples, do not employ this type of cosmology, but certainly do leave a place for transpersonal (cosmic) consciousness as the essence of reality. This could be described as intelligence, but not in an ordinary sense. In like manner, it could also be argued that Ain Sof (Great Unmanifest)as the ultimate cosmic principle of the Kaballah is similarly transpersonal in nature. Hinduism, even with it’s great pantheon of gods, recognized Brahman as the transpersonal ultimate (and in fact the one and only ‘true’ reality – all else is Brahman in disguise). The ‘strong’ anthropic view of seems specious now given the advances made in science, not to say that science has ultimate answers. Stephen Hawking along with other astro-physicists and mathematicians don’t typically buy into it – on the other hand, quantum physics is a strange world indeed – and no telling where we’ll be 50 -100 years from now. We simply may not have evolved to a point of knowing or discovering what we want to know – human truth and understanding may be a bit pre-mature in the category of absolutes – and that’s where religion freezes over from my point of view. One thing we can’t escape is the fact of our own consciousness, and how this singularity may be tied to the rest of the mystery.

  • BTLOD

    Lepidopteryx, that is a very astute question – I hope the answer won’t put you off. The answer is that God regenerates the people he wishes to save, so that they desire Christ and salvation. He cures people who use the life God gave them to strike their Holy creator in the face by denouncing Him and living sinful lives.Ezekiel 11:19-20:But God not only determines who will be saved, but how. He determines the means as well as the ends. This may seem counterintuitive, but, for example, it’s how Israel was brought out in Egypt. They weren’t immediately brought to the promised land, they had to escape from Pharaoh, cross the Red Sea, etc.Likewise, God regenerates people through the preaching or reading of the Word. His sheep hear the Word, they are convicted in their own hearts by their sins, they repent and put their faith in the Lord who bought them. But throughout all of that, it is God working in you both to will and to do of his good pleasure. If you put your faith in him, he will save you to the uttermost:”No man can come to me, except the Father which hath sent me draw him: and I will raise him up at the last day.” (John 6:44).”My sheep hear my voice, and I know them, and they follow me:If you are regenerate, you will no more be able to resist God than the Prodigal Son was able to stay at the swine trough after his eyes were opened (Luke 15:4-32). You will answer like Peter in John 6:68. When Christ asked him, “Will ye also go away?”, he responded, “To whom shall we go? thou hast the words of eternal life.”

  • jds

    To Mr. Hovey:Maybe the commitment is in caring deeply enough to admit not knowing all the answers. I’ve heard it said that only a rock hard faith dares to doubt. Somewhere in the Bible it says something to the effect, “Lord, I believe. Help thou my unbelief.”

  • BTLOD

    Terry, call me a stodgy hick, but I really can’t imagine the sort of consciousness you describe. In Miracles, C.S. Lewis ascribes these theories to a sub-personal conceptions of God, based on faulty analogies with impersonal things (ch 11), so if I’m being dense, I feel I’m in good company.”We simply may not have evolved to a point of knowing or discovering what we want to know – human truth and understanding may be a bit pre-mature in the category of absolutes – and that’s where religion freezes over from my point of view.One thing we can’t escape is the fact of our own consciousness, and how this singularity may be tied to the rest of the mystery.”That may be, I can’t really refute that, but I can offer a reaon to reject it- at present there’s no empirical evidence for such a cosmic consciousness. And without that evidence we are left with bare materialism. But consciousness isn’t the sort of thing that can arise out of bare materialism – that seems to be absurd, so there must be a source of our consciousness transcendent to this universe, which would be God.Other difficulties I have – if consciousness is a ‘given’ along with the material universe, why does it seep into such a ‘concentrated’ form in human beings, then disappears at death, and is not detectable anywhere else (except possibly some animals)? *Who* put that whole system into place? *Who* arranged it?

  • BTLOD

    JDS, does it really seem to you that Borg is saying ‘help thou my unbelief’?You cannont equate the situation of a believer in a state of despair because he has been struck by tragedy (Mk 9:24 you reference), and Borg, who coldly calculatingly denies the plain teaching of scripture and actually proselytizes this POV.If he had any ‘commitment’ or ‘cared deeply’ he’d honestly lay his cards on the table and admit he is no longer a Christian. He wouldn’t try to argue that his doubting should be canonized as orthodoxy . The man in Mk 9:24 wasn’t trying to do that.I also find it interesting that Borg (a former Lutheran), Robert M Price (a former Baptist), and James McGreevey (a former Catholic) have all joined the Episcopal Church. It seems to be a sewer trap for ex Christians who still desire the comforts of Christianity while denying its truths.

  • BTLOD

    Terry, that’s a bit heady for me. But I actually have a small amount of sympathy for the hard view. If all initial configurations of the universe are equally probable, we can’t say a life permitting universe is ‘improbable’ since it is no more improbable than any other configuration (even though most of those are life prohibiting). You know – it’s improbable that Mr X in particular won the lottery, but it’s not improbable that someone did.

  • Terry

    BTLOD -From a Buddhist perspective, no creator is necessary because the universe is eternally existing – no beginning and no end. All sentient beings experience are changes, cycles and transitions. There are no individual entities or self-existing phenomena, despite appearances and common-sense to the contrary – this is not in disagreement with some views of quantum mechanics – but for reasons of brevity can be ignored! The intelligence part eg. pure awareness is self-existing and permeates the creation in it’s entirety. This can be experienced directly, according to certain systems of esoteric practice found in Zen and Tantric Buddhism, as two examples. However, Buddhism like Christianity is outwardly a philisophy of living as well as one of self-discovery. On the other hand, physicists do point to a beginning for the universe, and Stephen Hawking maintains that he and a co-worker did the math to prove the Big Bang truly occurred (beyond my 9th grade algebra I presume). But, according to inflation theory, what happens once can happen again, and again – ad infinitum, so then – what beginning?? In my view, it would be impossible to know a cosmic creator intelligence or even postulate such an intelligence – without being of the nature of that intelligence. In the end, I object to the dualism of Christianity (creator/creature dicotomy)…my perspective is that everything is ultimately of one nature and ‘one taste’. If this can be called God so be it!! all the best –

  • Martin CT

    Marcus,Thank you, as always, for a provocative but kindly message to open our eyes.I have found it helpful, when afterlife issues come up, to consider the reverse problem. Where did we come from? Where was our soul *before* we came into this world? Most likely, the same place where we will be going. Did we have consciousness and memory? No, not that we know. When we came into the world, it is if we woke up. When we leave, I expect it will be as if we went to sleep.Jesus said the Kingdom of God is at hand — meaning right here and now, if we will see it. Not some place in the sky with clouds and pearly gates.

  • faithdweah@yahoo.co.uk
  • rafael

    Morris:”A more generous God would see that a person practiced the religion and lived up to the highest ideals of the culture they were born in. Such a person would be rewarded in the afterlife regardless of which God they chose.”How do you know what the supposed god or gods are like? Anything that really wants you to worship it isn’t likely to smile on your worshipping something else.And in any case, who needs fairy tales to live up to the “highest ideals” of the culture? What I would expect this ultra-generous god of yours to appreciate most is your appreciation for the one life you’ve been given, not a focus on the one or infinite number that might or might not occur next.

  • John Laughlin

    As ususal Dr. Borg gives me somthing deep to consider that I had not heard or considered before. What a gift!

  • Paul Kostoff

    I can’t believe how far away from real Christianity Borg and other liberal scholors now are. It really amazes me, Christianity is hardly even a religion anymore it seems like for them. It’s more of just a way to sort of worry about the environment. God is some vague figure, Jesus is not divine for them haha. Wow it’s insane, I feel bad for him and others, come back to the Orthodox faith please, it’s been the same since the begginings, no change needed, come back, come back!!!