15 June 2015: Marcus Borg’s latest book ‘Convictions’ Chapt 11 – led by Cristina

Chapt 11: To love God is to love like God    This is the last chapter in this very interesting and stimulating book and it also has a somewhat different character compared with preceding chapters. Borg seems to be implying a love for an entity that is real and (almost physically) exists; the meaning of love for God is not-unnaturally based on our human experiences – parental, friendship, lovers – ‘of lover and beloved’. He alludes to a lover’s ‘longing’ for God. He relates an exercise in which students were invited to write a passionate love letter and then unexpectedly addressing it to God!

It seemed that this intensity was not the experience of members of the group. We spoke about believing being a prerequisite for a relationship and hence potential for love to develop. We wondered why nuns ‘marry’ God but monks do not. Do we love the concept of God as a loving and all-powerful who will make everything good and eliminate evil? Does loyalty and caring for others equate to loving God? Or what one holds as core values, one holds most dear to oneself and therefore ‘adores’? We acknowledged our mystical experiences; our Christian experiences have lead to a ‘wonderment’ of life and the natural world that is both cerebral and emotional.

We noted that Borg’s fruits of the spirit – compassion, freedom, courage and gratitude are not the same as Paul’s in Galatians 5:22. Are these possible without centring on God? Perhaps the greatest ‘gift’ is to be able to live and face death without fear. This is the gift of ‘liberal’ theology.

To round up Cristina notes: Consider loving what God loves – the human and non-human world (John 3:16), friends as well as enemies, righteous and the unrighteous (Matt 5:44 – 47). Consider Micah 6:8 – What God requires of us is to do justice, love kindness and walk humbly with your God.

Ian Harris