Marcus Borg will present three lectures at Brenau University on Friday and Saturday, March 1-2 as part of a newly formed partnership of North Georgia churches and academic institutions.
Borg is one of the most widely known and influential voices in progressive Christianity and a major figure in scholarship related to the historical Jesus.
The author of 20 books, Borg is canon theologian at Trinity Episcopal Cathedral in Portland, Ore. He has appeared on NBC’s “Today” show and “Dateline,” PBS’s “NewsHour,” ABC’s “Evening News” and “Primetime,” NPR’s “Fresh Air” with Terry Gross, and several National Geographic programs.
“Religion in the 21st Century,” the two-day Chautauqua-style event in Pearce Auditorium at Brenau, is jointly presented by the university, First Baptist Church of Gainesville, Grace Episcopal Church, First Presbyterian Church of Gainesville, St. Paul United Methodist Church and EMW Lectures.
Bill Coates, senior pastor of First Baptist Church, described Borg as one of the best-known educators in the country.
“He speaks of an emerging paradigm to see faith and practice faith in an age of science and technology,” Coates said.
“So many people don’t believe today because they don’t believe the basic doctrines or have trouble understanding the stories of the Bible. For people like that, Borg has a new approach, a new lens through which they can see those stories.
“He’s not concerned with, ‘Is this story literally true?’ What he’s interested in is ‘What is the truth that is more true than the story itself?’ For a person in a scientific, technical age, that has intellectual problems with belief, he speaks to people in a new way.
“He says, ‘Whether these stories are literally true or not doesn’t matter.’ Some say he’s a heretic. But he’s willing to wade into that controversy.”
Borg will present three lectures: “A Crisis in Christian Language: Its Conflicted Meanings Today,” “The Goal of the Christian Life” and “The Central Virtues: Mercy and Righteousness? Or Compassion and Justice?”
Lectures last one hour and will be followed by a 30-minute Q and A session. Borg will be available for book signing after each Q&A. Borg’s books will be available for purchase during the event.
Friday evening’s lecture, “A Crisis in Christian Language,” will begin with a welcome and introduction starting at 7 p.m. Borg will speak at 7:30 p.m.
Saturday’s first lecture, “The Goal of the Christian Life,” begins at 10 a.m. — following a performance by the Brenau University Gospel Choir — and “The Central Virtues” starts at 1 p.m. Lunch will be available at noon Saturday for $10 in the dining hall adjacent to Pearce Auditorium.
Barbara Brown Taylor, preacher, noted speaker, author and the Butman Professor of Religion at Piedmont College in Demorest, will introduce Borg and lead the Q&A sessions following each lecture.
“With great clarity and pastoral genius, Borg offers questioning Christians a way to keep their faith without shutting down the search for truth,” said Taylor of Borg’s books.
Borg’s doctorate degree is from Oxford University, and he has lectured in England, Scotland, Austria, Germany, Belgium, Hungary, Israel, South Africa and North America, including appearances at the Chautauqua and Smithsonian Institutions.
He held the Hundere Chair of Religion and Culture in the Philosophy Department at Oregon State University until he retired in 2007. A Fellow of the Jesus Seminar, Borg has been national chairman of the Historical Jesus Section of the Society of Biblical Literature and co-chairman of its International New Testament Program Committee.
He was formerly president of the Anglican Association of Biblical Scholars.
Tickets are $50 and may be purchased through EMW Lectures online at www.tinyurl.com/Borglecture or by phone at 706-754-8036. Tickets are also available through the sponsor churches. One ticket buys admission to all three lectures. Single-lecture tickets are not available.