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The Heart of Christianity by Marcus J. Borg Book Summary

If you’re looking for a progressive summary on Christianity, this book by Marcus J. Borg is pretty great. You may have read my last summary, Meeting Jesus Again for the First Time. I really liked that book and just went through the Marcus J. Borg rabbit whole. At the beginning of the book, Borg starts off by comparing an old and new paradigm when it comes to Christianity. Most Christians attach themselves to the old paradigm that emphasizes faith as believing, requirements and rewards, and the afterlife. This way of thinking about Christianity seems more like an exclusive club in which their belief in Jesus gives them access to heaven. The emerging paradigm features a more relational and transformational life.

Old Paradigm vs. New Paradigm

Borg doesn’t necessarily see the old paradigm as something bad. In fact, it’s pretty necessary. The author argues that the more liberal Christians should take on the notion of being “born again.” With this idea of being born again is a more conscious effort to have a relationship with God. Being born again also calls to be more politically passionate and care for those who are marginalized. We see evidence of both in the life of Jesus. Jesus had such a close relationship with God that he called him Father. Jesus was also condemned for not being politically correct by conversing and eating with less desirable members of society. My favorite part of the book was when Borg encouraged us to donate to causes that fight systems that marginalized people, not just church.

Traditions of Christianity

Much of the book is about the practices of Christianity and how they can be practiced as a progressive Christian. He incorporates meditation into prayer, contemporary praise and worship, and the community aspect of attending church. All these are just traditions that make Christians a part of their own religion or school of thought. Much like wearing a hijab makes someone Muslim, being Christian is cultural. There is more emphasis on the spiritual practices of love and compassion. It also involves seeing life as spiritual death and renewal.


The main reason why Christianity gets a bad rap is pluralism. The religion has credibility when it is seen as one of the great religions. When there are people who claim that it is the only true religion, people are turned off. Borg compares Christianity as a school of thought. It could be compared to a college in the university we call life. The intersection of all world religions are things we can’t see like love, compassion, kindness and hospitality.

The Heart of Christianity