ment stress on science and factnalih hasrndistorted Christianitv’. Borg critiques thernEnlightenment as a postmodernist mystic,rnwhile Wright does so as a Christianrnclassicist.rnTheir arguments have been publishedrnin USA Today and aired on NationalrnPublic Radio, and their debate over Jesusrnis hyped as Something New. Actually, itrnis about 2,000 years old. Wright, althoughrntrying to speak the language ofrnthe academy rather than the pulpit, is stillrndefending Christian orthodoxy. Borg’srnJesus, who is divine only in tlie hearts ofrnHis belieers, differs little from the Jesusrnof Rudolf Bultmann SO vears ago, AlbertrnSchweitzer 100 years ago, or Thomas Jeffersonrn200 years ago.rnAccording to Wright, Jesus professedrnHis divinity more through His actionsrnthan His words. “If we look long andrnhard at Jesus, we will find out who Godrnis,” Wright said. This God is not a deistrnor New Age deity, but the “strange” Godrnof Exodus and Deuteronomy. Jesus “wasrndoing what God was supposed to do.” Asrnto questions about the New Testament’srnveracity, Wright said, “We know morernabout Jesus than how the Gospels gotrnwritten.” But in general, Wright sees thernmiraculous events surrounding Jesus asrnhistor)’, not poetr’.rnhi contrast, Borg sees the Gospels asrn”historv remembered and historv metaphorized.”rnSome stories happened,rnwhile others are completely metaphor.rnTales about the Virgin Birth, miracles,rnmultiplying bread loaves, and walking onrnthe sea should be seen as the latter. Borgrnsaid scholarship (presumably as embodiedrnin the Jesus Seminar) must decidernwhich parts of the Gospels are “early”rnand which parts reflect the much laterrn”voice of communitv.”rnBorg disagreed with Wright about Jcsus’srnself-understanding, His death, andrnEaster. Jesus “probably” did not seernHimself as mcssiah. His death was arn”consequence” of His achons but not Hisrn ocation, making Him similar to the martrnred Mardn Luther King, Jr., or MahatmarnGandhi. And, in Borg’s view, therncorpse and tomb of Jesus are “irrelevant.”rn”Truth is founded in the continuingrnreality of Jesus among believers,” Borgrnclaimed, rather than a strict reliance uponrnScripture. He sees Jesus as a Jewishrnmvstic or “spirit person,” like Buddha.rnAnd like Jesus or Buddha, we can experiencernGod through “shamanie” or “alteredrnstates of consciousness.” Oulv thernEnlightenment, Borg smmised, wouldrndeny the validity of such moments.rnThe early Church described its spiritualrnexperiences in the language of miraclesrnand resurrection, according to Borg,rnwho thinks we distort their message withrna literal reading. But Wright finds thatrnapproach misleading. “You’re saying thernearly Church took non-literal, non-concreternideas and then historicized them,”rnWright retorted. “Metaphor is beingrnused to cover a multitude of sins.”rnBorg asked Wright if there were anyrnlimit to what he would accept as history.rnFor example, could anyone multiplyrnloaves of bread? Wright said he rebelsrnagainst the Enlightenment’s automaticrndismissal of the miraculous. And hernpoints out that the Gospel narrativernuniquely equips Jesus with extraordinaryrnpowers. “It’s really hard to imagine thesernthings without imagining an interventionistrnGod,” Borg protested. Wright respondedrnthat it was an erroneous legacyrnof the Enlightenment to speak of a “splitlevelrnuniverse” in which God does orrndoes not intervene. God’s miraclesrnshould not be seen as an inter’ention intornHis own universe, Wright said, butrnmore appropriately as “unique” and “dramatic.”rnMuch of the discussion may havernseemed too academic to the audience.rnWithin an hour, many people left therncathedral, and within 90 minutes, nearlyrnhalf the crowd had departed. A debaternbetween Borg and Jerry Falwell mightrnhave been less cordial, but the sanctuaryrnwould have stayed filled.rnThe audience of Washingtonians appearedrnupscale. Episcopalian, and veryrn”inside the Beltway.” I assumed thatrnBorg, as the mystical postmodernist,rnwould be the crowd’s favorite against arnclever but still traditionalist cathedralrndean. But most questions from the pewsrnexpressed dismay that Borg could professrnChristianity while den ing some of thernfaith’s key tenets. One questioner askedrnBorg if the Holy Spirit had misled thernChurch’s interpretation of Scripture forrn2,000 years. “I don’t know if the HolyrnSpirit would be helpful in judging thernfactuality of the Gospels,” respondedrnBorg. “The Holy Spirit is irrelevant inrnthat decision-making process.” In responsernto another query about his viewrnon the Resurrection, B(jrg surmised thatrnthe disciples safely waited until Jesus’srncorpse was rotted beyond recognition beforernmaking their claims.rnNo cathedral colunins collapsed in responsernto Borg’s impieties; obviously, thernGod of Episcopalians is patient and longsuffering.rnThe remainder of the audiencernpolitely applauded and filed out tornpurchase copies of the debaters’ books inrnthe lobby.rnBorg professes to be a practicing Christian.rnHis wife is an Episcopal priest.rn”Tom [Wright] and I share a vision of thernChristian life. Our disagreements are inrntheology. Does it matter if Jesus thoughtrnHe was messiah? Tom says yes. I say no.”rnGood English gentleman that he is,rnWright accepts Borg’s profession of faith.rnAlthough unmentioned in the cathedral,rnBorg has said that Christianih^ is a temporar’rn”prism” through which to view thernsacred, a prism which eventually will berndisplaced by other spiritualities. If thernChristian faith survives at all, it will resemblernZoroastrianism as a quaint andrntiny sect, he predicts. He describes himselfrnas a “panentheist” who believes that allrnmatter is a part of the great divine spirit.rnOne audience member asked Borg ifrnhe really believed in the biblical god Yahweh.rn”Sure,” he replied. Ofcourse, asarngood postmodernist, he reserxes the rightrnto define Yahveh as he chooses, Yahweh’srnselt-revelatory nature notwithstanding.rnLeft unaddressed in this discussionrnwas one central question: Does Yahwehrnapprove of Borg’s consignment of Him tornthe realm of subjective imagination?rnThe debate would have had more spark ifrnWright had suggested that Yahweh veryrnwell may not.rnMark Tooley is a research associate at thernInstitute on Rehgiou and Democracy inrnWashinston, D.C.rnThe Most DangerousrnAmendmentrnby William R. TonsornOne evening a few years back, I wasrnchannel-surfing when I ran acrossrna panel discussion of efforts to restrictrnchildren’s access to smut and violence onrnTV. One of the panelists was formerrnNew York mayor Ed Koch; another wasrnthe president of one of the major TV networks.rnThe latter was quite agitated byrn42/CHRONICLESrnrnrn