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The God We Never Knew: Beyond Dogmatic Religion to a More Authentic Contemporary Faith [Paperback]

Marcus J. Borg
4.5 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (8 customer reviews)
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Book Description

5 Oct 1998

The God We Never knew challenges readers to reclaim a stronger sense of God’s presence and nearness by embracing an authentic contemporary faith that reconciles God with science, critical thinking, and religious pluralism.

How to have faith (how to even think about God) without having to stifle modern rationality is one of the most vital challenges facing many of us today. Marcus Borg, author of the bestselling Meeting Jesus Again for the First Time, traces his spiritual journal to the discovery of an authentic yet fully contemporary understanding of God. In a compelling, readable way, he leads us from the distant authoritative God of our childhood to an equally powerful, dynamic adult understanding of God.

Arguing that the modern crisis of faith is rooted in the misinterpretation of biblical texts and God’s true nature, Borg offers a fresh, yet deeply gounded understanding of God that is more intellectually and spiritually satisfying.

Frequently Bought Together

The God We Never Knew: Beyond Dogmatic Religion to a More Authentic Contemporary Faith + Meeting Jesus Again for the First Time: The Historical Jesus and the Heart of Contemporary Faith + The Heart of Christianity: Rediscovering a Life of Faith
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Product details

  • Paperback: 192 pages
  • Publisher: HarperSanFrancisco; Reprint edition (5 Oct 1998)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 0060610352
  • ISBN-13: 978-0060610357
  • Product Dimensions: 21.3 x 13 x 1.2 cm
  • Average Customer Review: 4.5 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (8 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Bestsellers Rank: 183,912 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)
  • See Complete Table of Contents

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Product Description


‘Writing clearly, summarixing some of the best of contemporary theology in non-technical language, Borg continues to speak to, and to challenge, the widest possible audience.’
Publishers Weekly

‘A breath of fresh air, a liberating book for Jews and Christians alike.’
Rabbi Harold Kushner, author of When Bad Things Happen to Good People

From the Back Cover


Selected by 'Publishers Weekly' as one of the best books of 1997

In 'The God We Never Knew', bestselling author Marcus J. Borg leads us from the distant, authoritative God of our childhood to an equally powerful, dynamic adult understanding of God. Tracing his own spiritual journey, he reveals how to embrace a fresh, authentic view of God that is fully compatible with good science, critical thinking, and religious pluralism–a view that promotes a much healthier and more vital life of faith today.

Marcus J. Borg is Hundere Distinguished Professor of Religion and Culture at Oregon State University and author of many books, including 'Jesus: A New Vision'and 'Meeting Jesus for the First Time'

'"The God We Never Knew' will appeal to unbelieving and fainthearted believers, but it also has riches for those who think their faith is secure."
ROBERT N. BELLAH, author of 'Harbits of the Heart'

Writing clearly, summarizing some of the best of contemporary theology in nontechnical language, Borg continues to speak to, and challenge, the widest possible audience."
Publishers Weekly

Borg does what few scholars on religion seem capable if doing: He has digested an immense amount of difficult, often conflicting religious ideas and written a clear, coherent, and highly readable theological work that satisfies mind and soul."

Inside This Book (Learn More)
First Sentence
ow are we to think of God? Some intellectual questions may not matter much, but this one has major consequences. Read the first page
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Customer Reviews

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Most Helpful Customer Reviews
65 of 65 people found the following review helpful
4.0 out of 5 stars Panentheism for the People 15 Feb 2004
This is a mind-expanding book which will have an impact on most readers. The impact will largely be determined by your present perspective on spirituality. Prof. Borg grew up in a legalistic Lutheran setting, and experienced a lot of conflict between he teachings he received, and his own life experiences. Instead of simply throwing the whole faith issue out of his life, he continued to struggle with it until he was able to find a perspective that made sense. He identifies his old received faith as "Supernatural Theism", God out there, remote and authoritarian. His new position he describes as Panentheism, God throughout and beyond everything, intimate and nurturing. This is different from pantheism, which states "everything is God; God is not more than everything".
Borg writes with remarkable clarity, considering the complexity of the subject, even taking time to explain Greek terms. He shows numerous Biblical references to panentheism, then moves on to demonstrate how this altered perspective affects the way we relate to God, people and creation. He keeps coming back to the assertion that Christianity is about relationship with God, not meeting God's demands.
Borg is unashamedly liberal, yet his genuine faith shines through the text, giving his argument a credibility which mere debating power would not achieve. However, the book is quite challenging, denying the Evangelical standpoint and making forays into Liberation Theology. In spite of all this, Borg is overwhelmingly positive, and does not come across as the stereotypical liberal whose mission in life is to destroy the faith of naive evangelicals.
I recommend this book, for the startling "paradigm shift" which Borg expounds with such clarity.
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44 of 44 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars A Relationship With The Living God 1 Aug 2002
THE GOD WE NEVER KNEW covers three broad subjects. In the first section Borg describes both the God he learned about in his youth and also the God he came to know later in life.
In the next section the author explains why our image of God is important and how it influences our entire concept of the sacred.
In the last part of the book Borg explains that God is all around us. The sacred is not somewhere else. God is always in relationship to us and journeying with us. God yearns to be known by us.
The closing chapters resemble an instruction manual on how to open up to God. Borg includes here a clear vision of what we can expect from our own pilgrimage with Jesus. This is what sets the author apart from most of the other Jesus Seminar scholars. Borg goes beyond the reconstruction of the historical Jesus to emphasize the rewards of seeking a relationship with the living God.
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39 of 39 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars God Is Present Everywhere 31 July 2002
THE GOD WE NEVER KNEW introduces us to a God we never met during childhood.
Most of us as Christians were taught about a supernatural being out there who created the world a long time ago and sometimes intervened - especially during biblical times. After death we might be with Him if we were good on earth and believed the right things.
Instead of believing in a supernatural being out there, Borg suggests we will find it more satisfying to be in relationship with a sacred reality right here. God is not the sum total of things. God is more than everything. He is all around us and within us and we are within God.
The Christian life is not about beliefs and requirements. It is not about believing in a God out there for the sake of an afterlife later. The Christian life is about entering into a relationship with God as known in Jesus Christ. This is the God who is out there but also right here. This God is real and is the God we never knew. A relationship with this God will prove to be a life-changing experience.
Borg shows how this God has really been in the Bible all along but has been largely ignored by mainline Christianity. For anyone struggling with Christian beliefs, THE GOD WE NEVER KNEW may well lead to the start of an unforgettable journey with the sacred.
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23 of 23 people found the following review helpful
4.0 out of 5 stars Encouragement For Those Struggling With Doubts 9 April 2002
By A Customer
In THE GOD WE NEVER KNEW Borg invites the reader to enter into a relationship with God. The author draws heavily upon his own personal experiences as an inclusive Christian who does not hold a literal interpretation of the Bible. Borg's account of his search for a meaningful relationship with God will provide encouragement to anyone struggling with doubts about mainline Christian beliefs.
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