Quotes and Excerpts from

Marcus Borg

Member of the Heretical Jesus Seminar And the author and promoter of

"The God We Never Knew"

Skip down to Panentheism





"While I have high regard for the 'search for the historical Jesus' (especially the work of scholars like N. T. Wright and Marcus Borg, who dialogue about their differences in a responsible and charitable way), much Jesus scholarship (so-called) seems to trim Jesus down to the size of the assumptions of those doing the research." Brian McLaren, www.brianmclaren.net/archives/000201.html


"....Borg makes the case for revising our conceptions of God. In place of a monarchical, dominating deity, the author proposes a 'belonging model' of a God who is always among us. In dispensing with older images of God that have lost their persuasive powers, Borg stresses the importance of re-conceiving our relationship to the sacred."

     "...Borg reveals how to embrace an authentic contemporary faith that reconciles God with science, critical thinking and religious pluralism. ... In providing a much-needed solution to the problem of how to have a fully authentic yet fully contemporary understanding of God, Borg... traces his personal journey. He leads readers from the all-powerful and authoritarian God of his (and their) childhood and traditional faith to an equally powerful but dynamic image of God that is relevant to contemporary seekers...."  www.bestprices.com/cgi-bin/vlink/0060610352BT.html  [It may be more universally "relevant," but it isn't true according to God's Word]

Pastor Rick Warren quotes Marcus Borg on at least twice in his "Rick Warren's Ministry Toolbox" at www.pastors.com  Apparently he approves of Borg's teachings. The third quote below is from an article posted on the same website.

1. Rick Warren's Ministry Toolbox; quotes & notes and www.pastors.com/RWMT/?ID=98: "When worship is functioning as it should, it can be a powerful mediator of the sacred. It can open the heart, shape the religious imagination, and nourish the spiritual life, all within the experience of community. - Marcus Borg, The God We Never Knew

2. Where Two or More Are Gathered: Exploring Alternative Worship Strategies: (by Bradley Sowash) "'Churches that are full of God are likely to find their pews full of people.'-- Marcus Borg


3. "...How would it feel to participate in an extravagantly creative worship experience? Could a service be designed that mixes church tradition with original ideas? Does alternative worship enhance or alienate the church community? How does it effect outreach? ....Matthew 26:6-13... This woman's singular act of adoration demonstrates that effective worship integrates creativity, extravagance, understanding, originality, and spontaneity in a manner that is both personal and participatory as well as community enhancing. This conclusion is based on the following observations: Worship is creative. Lacking a structured setting for worshipping Jesus, she invents her own expression. Worship is extravagant. Though the perfume is valuable, she pours it all out for Jesus. Worship is done with understanding. Apparently, she alone understands that Jesus really is going to die. Knowing that she will not be around, she performs a funeral rite on the living. Worship is original and spontaneous. She does not wait for the perfect moment to express her faith. Though she interrupts the fellowship of Jesus with the disciples, she acts on her unique expression. Worship is both personal and participatory. She DOES something that leads others to participate first in protest and later by illumination from their master. Worship is community enhancing. Her act of worship enhances the disciple's understanding and ultimately the continuing Christian community as Jesus predicts in the last verse."

  Excerpts from "The God We Never Knew"

Chapter 2: Why Panentheism?

Panentheism as a root concept for thinking about God is a broad umbrella.... Within it I include all concepts of the sacred that strongly affirm both the transcendence and immanence of God. It is what John Macquarrie calls “dialectical theism”: the affirmation of two apparent opposites, God as 'beyond' and God as “right here.' God is more than the world.... Yet God is present in the world....

       "Panentheism is unfamiliar to many Christians, so deeply entrenched is supernatural theism. When they do hear of it, some welcome it enthusiastically because it makes sense and fits their own experience....

       "When I first ran into this way of conceptualizing God in modern thinkers like Tillich and Robinson, it seemed to me like a way of trying to evade the intellectual difficulties posed by thinking of God as a being 'out there'.. But I now see this as one of the virtues of panentheism: it does genuinely resolve much of the intellectual difficulty posed by supernatural theism. For the most part, modern skepticism and atheism are a rejection of supernatural theism.... [page 33]

Note: Yes, of course, skeptics and atheists reject God's moral law, the need for the cross, and the victorious resurrection. These wonders are neither appreciated nor understood by those who refuse to repent and come to Jesus. Apart from conversion and the gift of the indwelling Spirit of God they cannot be understood. That's why heretics such as Marcus Borg must both redefine and redesign Christianity.

"If God can be 'seen' and “known,' then God is accessible to human experience and cannot simply be transcendent but must also be thought of as here. Moreover, knowing God is attested to not only by biblical texts explicitly referring to it but in the experience of the central figures of the biblical tradition. The stories about Moses’ experiences of the sacred, the call stories of the prophets, and the story of Jesus all speak of people who knew the sacred. For them, the sacred was an element of experience, not simply an article of belief." [page 37]

Note: Yes, but their "experiences" were not universal. Those men were blessed in God's presence because they first believed, or -- as in Moses case -- because God had specifically chosen them for His own special purpose.

EXPERIENCES 0F THE SACRED (through contemplative and mystical practices]


Here Borg uses pagan or mystical illustrations to validate his unbiblical and deceptive beliefs. Notice how well his pagan illustrations match today's "Christian" quest for spiritual experiences through mystical rituals (such as walking the Labyrinth) and other spiritual disciplines:]

"...if the sacred—if God—can be experienced, then God is not simply somewhere else but also right here. The most dramatic of these experiences involve non-ordinary states of consciousness. They are 'ecstatic,' which means literally to be out of oneself, or out of one’s ordinary state of consciousness. Sometimes occurring spontaneously, these non-ordinary states can also be entered through ritualized means and spiritual disciplines.

     "Ecstatic religious experiences and their implications for how we see reality have been made central by many scholars of religion, classically by William James and Rudolf Otto near the beginning of this century and more recently by Mircea Eliade and Huston Smith.21 Otto spoke of them as experiences of 'the numinous.' Eliade spoke of them as 'hierophanies' (manifestations of the sacred) and 'theophanies' (manifestations of the sacred as God). In the non-ordinary states of consciousness that mark these experiences, reality is experienced as 'more” than the visible world of our ordinary consciousness." [page 37]

"Shamanic experiences are similar in one respect to visions and may be regarded as a special type of visionary experience. In them, the person not only sees into another level of reality but journeys into it, embarking on 'magical flights' and 'spirit-journeys.' Shamans enter the alternate reality and interact with it for the sake of their people. They are technicians of the sacred; they have techniques for entering the alternate reality and techniques for mediating, on behalf of the group, spiritual power (often healing power but also divination and clairvoyance, among other functions). Sometimes shamans seek to affect entities encountered in the alternate reality. There are also reports of journeying through alternate reality to another place in ordinary reality; there the shamans are able to see events that are happening at a great distance from their actual physical location." [page 39]

Note: Keep in mind, demonic experiences and torturous bondage are likely to be the end result of many quests for spiritual thrills and "oneness with [a] god." [See My Kingdom Come]

"Mystical experiences involve ecstatic states of consciousness in which one is vividly aware of the presence of God.... Earlier in this century, Rufus Jones, a Quaker scholar, defined mysticism as a type of religion which puts the emphasis on immediate awareness of relation with God, on direct and intimate consciousness of the Divine Presence. It is religion in its most acute, intense, and living stage.". [page 39] ...

"...it seems to me that ecstatic religious experience is the primary reason for taking seriously the reality of the sacred, of God. These experiences lead to the inference that there is more than one kind of reality, more than one level of reality, and that these other levels or layers can be (and are) known ... I find the evidential value of religious experience to be far more interesting and suggestive than the traditional 'proofs' of God’s existence..." [page 45]

Of course those "proofs" don't work for skeptics or unbelievers! God never promised they would! Instead, Jesus emphasized Faith (through grace, accompanied by repentance and humility) as a prerequisite to "seeing" or "hearing" His truth and delighting in His presence. He refused to "prove" His existence to wondering skeptics. Whether in Old or New Testament times, those who scorned His Word and ways became spiritually blind:


"...the light has come into the world, and men loved darkness rather than light, because their deeds were evil. For everyone practicing evil hates the light and does not come to the light, lest his deeds should be exposed." John 3:19-20

"Hear this now, O foolish people, without understanding, Who have eyes and see not, and who have ears and hear not: Do you not fear Me?’ says the Lord. ‘Will you not tremble at My presence?" Jeremiah 5:21-22

"But they refused to heed, shrugged their shoulders, and stopped their ears so that they could not hear. Yes, they made their hearts like flint, refusing to hear...." Zachariah 6:11-12

Note: These Scriptures illustrate the stubborn resistance of arrogant seekers who want to pave their own path to spiritual blessings, no knowing that those popular roads lead straight into the clutches of the prince of darkness who masquerades as "an angel of light." [2 Cor. 11:14] They lead to Moral and Spiritual Depravity, not peace and joy. In fact,

"The coming of the lawless one is according to the working of Satan, with all power, signs, and lying wonders, and with all unrighteous deception among those who perish, because they did not receive the love of the truth, that they might be saved. And for this reason God will send them strong delusion, that they should believe the lie, that they all may be condemned who did not believe the truth but had pleasure in unrighteousness." 2 Thessalonians 2:9-12

But Borg, who picks and chooses what to accept from the Bible, ignores that warning. Instead, he soothes his soul and his deceived disciples with false promises and platitudes:

"...the ineffable, the sacred, is real and present. To use an inscription important to Carl Jung, “Bidden or not bidden, God is present.” These words were carved in Latin over Jung’s front door.... They are also on Jung’s tombstone....[page 49]  


"Put very simply and directly, the course of my own Christian journey from supernatural theism to panentheism has led me, experientially and intellectually, to three central conviction:

 God is real. [But what kind of "god" does he encounter?]
●  The Christian life is about entering into a relationship with God as known
  That relationship can—and will—change your life. [page 51]

Remember that Borg's god is not the Biblical God. And his "Christian life" is grounded in man-centered heresies and liberal theology. Therefore, that relationship, entered through all kinds of spiritual rituals and deceptive disciplines, will mislead and destroy life, not conform people to the family of God.

Borg's view of the Kingdom of God


Note: For background information, please read  The Kingdom of God and Who defines the Kingdom of God? The first part may sound good, but keep in mind that Borg has redefined Spirit to include all kinds of spiritual experiences, Biblical and pagan. He has redefined tradition to mean genuine Biblical faith in the God's unchanging Word and ways. In other words, he turns everything upside down. "Woe to those who call evil good and good evil..." Isaiah 5:20 [See Don't Be Deceived!]


As you ponder the references to an earthly kingdom, an inclusive social vision and the contextual emphasis on relationships, it makes sense that Rick Warren and other contemporary leaders highlight his teachings.

"The alternative wisdom of Jesus... involves a radical recentering....  Jesus spoke and enacted a social vision grounded in God—what I will call 'the dream of God'.... We see his social passion and vision in several ways: in his role as a social prophet who indicted the ruling elites at the top of an exploitative domination system; in his boundary-breaking behavior and in the inclusive shape of his movement.... We see it also in his frequent use of the phrase 'kingdom of God,' at least one of whose meanings is social and political. [page 100]


"...I will focus on the stories of his birth, death, and resurrection and the way they generate the classic Christian story of Jesus as a disclosure of God. To do so, I will use the term myth. Using this term requires a strong warning against a common misunderstanding of the word. For many people in the modern world, myth is a dismissive term. In popular usage, myth most often means an untruth that need not and should not be taken seriously.... This is unfortunate, for myth has a very different meaning in the study of religion.... Religious myths or sacred myths are stories about the relationship between the two worlds—the sacred and the world of our ordinary experience. In short, a myth is a story about God and us. As such, myths can be both true and powerful, even though they are symbolic narratives and not straightforward historical reports. Though not literally true, they can be really true; though not factually true, they can be actually true.
      "The stories of Jesus’ birth are myths in this sense. Along with most mainline scholars, I do not think these stories report what happened.
[page 101]

Note: Not only does Borg reject the Bible as truth, he twists God's purpose of redemption by faith into the liberal vision of social transformation of the world. But Jesus didn't come to change the world. He avoided politics. Instead, He came to deliver a faithful people out of the world, into His kingdom. That's why we remain here on earth as pilgrims, soujourners and ambassadors for His higher kingdom. "For our citizenship is in heaven, from which we also eagerly wait for the Savior...." Philippians 3:20-21

"The dream of God as we see it in Jesus—his alternative social vision—is usefully crystallized in three complementary ways. First, I call it a 'politics of compassion.' For Jesus, compassion was more than a virtue for the individual. It was the basis of his criticism of the social order: for Jesus.... Compassion was also the paradigm or core value of his social vision: Jesus’ understanding of God as compassionate led to a social vision grounded in compassion. It stood in sharp contrast to the core value of the social vision of elite theology, which was a politics of holiness and purity centered in the temple and legitimating the social order. Compassion as a core political paradigm suggests a political order that is life-giving, nourishing, and inclusive.....
       Third, one may speak of Jesus’ social vision with one of his most frequently used phrases: “the kingdom of God.” Though the phrase had several nuances of meaning, one was theo-political.... The kingdom of God is what the world would be like if God were king...."

Remember, Jesus said, "My Kingdom is not in this world." John 18:36

Salvation as the Kingdom of God

Kingdom of God” is the most common image of salvation in the teaching of Jesus. We have already considered it in the previous chapter, but I include it again here because of its importance and because it underlines that biblical images of salvation include a communal and political dimension. For Jesus, the kingdom of God is both a social vision (and thus future) and a present reality (whose power is already at work and which can be known in the present).
      As a social vision, it points to a way of living together in which, to use the language of the beatitudes, the destitute are blessed, and the hungry are filled’."
[page 166]

But the beatitudes point to spiritual hunger and spiritual poverty, not a social condition.

Compare Borg's "Kingdom" theories with Brian McLaren's view of the Kingdom of God: Who defines the Kingdom of God?

Endnote: 9. Following Sallie McFague and other. See McFague, Models of God.... Jurgen Moltmann, The Trinity and the Kingdom of God (San Francisco: Harper... 1981) refers to this model as "monarchical monotheism."

Another link:

Metropolitan Community Churches--ECUMENICAL AND INTERFAITH NEWS: "All Saints MCC (Christchurch, New Zealand) joins Durham Street Methodist Church for a monthly Theology Discovery Group to discuss the thoughts of such theologians as Bishop Spong, Marcus Borg, Tom Harpur, Jurgen Moltmann, and others writing in the tradition of Progressive Christianity."