IMPORTANT – READ THIS COMMENT FIRST:

Around 2010/2011 a number of people expressed an interest in my paper on Shane Claiborne. It was written as a PRIVATE paper for a church.

This presented a difficulty because htere werw references to the church in that paper.

Out of respect for them I deleted every sentence or phrase which might identify them. Lots of that editing got lost when I transferred the paper to this blog.

This resulted in a lot of rubbish text in the first part (eg below) and some elsewhere. Until I have time to work on it, that means there are a number of sections that contain stuff like this  [dfgd dd dg dgdg dg]  in the place of those words. You will have to ignore it. Sorry about that. The sense is still there.

Now in 2016, I am planning a revision and hope to tidy it up and do this soon.

Bear with me til then. There’s enough here to read and digest until that happens

 

SHANE CLAIBORNE:

Radical Christian Or Spiritual Radical?

 

 

INTRODUCTION   ………………………………………………………. 2

PART ONE  –  Shane Claiborne and The Simple Way Board ……………  6

1.         The Alternative Seminary – Will O’Brien  ………………………..  7

2.         Word & World – Michael And Michelle Brix   ……………………  9

3.         Jamie Moffat & The ‘Jesus For President’ Film   …………………  11

PART TWO – ‘The Irresistible Revolution’   ……………………………..  12

1.         The Problem of Definitions    ……………………………………… 12

2.         Historical And Biblical Errors   ……………………………………. 14

3.         The Holy Spirit, Worship & Miracles   ……………………………  16

4.         Condemnation Of Large Churches & Large Church Gatherings …. 21

5.         Personal Wealth & Corporate America  …………………………..   24

6.         Human Sexuality   …………………………………………………  26

7.         Criticism Of The Church   …………………………………………  27

8.         Pacifism   ………………………………………………………….  31

CONCLUSION……………………………………………………………………………….. 33

APPENDIX   …………………………………………………………………………………… 34

ADDENDUM  (Claiborne & The Emerging Church Movement) ………… 36


SHANE CLAIBORNE:

 

Radical Christian Or  Spiritual Radical?

INTRODUCTION

Shane Claiborne’s impact [ooo ] has been enormous on [mmm] youth, already experiencing a new touch of the Holy Spirit, are now entranced by this radical dreadlocked Christian with a heart for the poor. They have found a new role model. [oooo], his books are being read and his talks are being recommended and downloaded. [oooooooooo].

What if Shane’s Christian faith turned out to be not a little unorthodox? What if his attitude towards the rest of the church, especially large charismatic churches, was one of scorn?  What if he dismisses the worship and experience of the Holy Spirit which we enjoy as ‘spiritual masturbation’?  My research shows that all these are true of Shane Claiborne..

In the middle of writing a book about the infiltration of British politics (and the deception of Socialist Christians) in the 1930s by atheistic communism, I was probably more sensitised than most to pick up some of the subtle hints of Shane’s underlying worldview [hjhjh]. I was alarmed by what I heard and I have now made a detailed study of his book The Irresistible Revolution. I have also researched his community, The Simple Way, Shane’s fellow leaders there, and the Christian teaching with which they publicly associate themselves.

I have not done this lightly. I know that Jesus feels that Shane’s work with the poor is very precious. The response of many [oooooo[ to his challenge to social action has been genuinely godly and needs to be protected.  I also have a deep aversion to Christian heresy hunters and have been appalled by the poisonous criticism I have seen them direct against [ooooooo] as well as other ministries I respect such as that of John Wimber and the Arnotts.

The results of my research have left me profoundly disturbed.

I have no alternative but to communicate what I have found [oooo] in this paper. I would beg those who read it to understand that it is offered prayerfully and with an element of ‘fear and trembling’. It is not only distasteful but wrong to raise a voice against any work of God. All individual Christians have weaknesses and faults. That does not disqualify them from ministry.

In Shane’s case, I believe  the worrying things I have uncovered amount to far more that manifestations of human weakness, mere treasure held in earthen vessels.

[paragraphs deleted]

In brief, in the book and elsewhere, as described in detail in this paper, Shane:

  • Describes charismatic Christian worship and practice as ‘spiritual masturbation’, saying about it that  ‘This feelgood emotionally charged Christianity (is) “spiritual masturbation”. It feels good but never really gives birth to anything’
  • Says we must not ‘centralise’ worship and criticises large scale worship events such as [oooo]
  • Defines ‘evangelical’ so loosely that a Moslem, Mormon or New Ager could be included but thereafter appears to be justify the contentious things he says because he speaks ‘as an evangelical’
  • Uses the terms ‘conversion’, ‘evangelise’ and ‘prophet’ just as imprecisely
  • Appears to holds Christian universalist views (that the Holy Spirit dwells in every human and all go to heaven) and thus sees ‘conversion’ as a change of outlook and behaviour rather than the spiritual regeneration of orthodox Christianity
  • Reinterprets the miracle of the loaves and fishes as a form of community synergy and writes in approving terms of a theologian who denies the miracles, the divinity of Christ and his resurrection
  • Makes a number of alarming errors of biblical interpretation and historical fact, including the statement that Finney’s altar calls were not for biblical conversion as we understand them to be but were actually intended to sign up the ‘radicals’ of his day to the anti-slavery cause
  • Harshly and consistently criticises the church and Christians, especially ‘suburban’ Christians, and Christians who are Republicans (he implies the two are incompatible)
  • Portrays that part of the Body of Christ with which he disagrees in an exaggerated stereotype, which he then proceeds to shoot down
  • Teaches that rich people can only become Christians if they give away their wealth and implies that no one can be a Christian and have any personal wealth
  • Rails against large churches which, he says, should grow smaller and not larger
  • Implies that no church should pay staff from its offerings and if it holds property it  embezzles from the poor and is responsible, while one person dies of starvation in the world, for their murder
  • Criticises Willow Creek’s building programme as theft from the poor
  • Openly espouses an uncompromising pacifism, holds that all military action is wrong, that Christians should not serve in the armed forces and even states that the plotters who tried to assassinate Hitler to stop the Second World War were wrong to do so

I have also researched Shane’s long-term associates and fellow board members at The Simple Way, on the principle (which I think is not unfair) that if they are involved in Christian teaching or in the leadership of other Christian organisations on their own account, this will give a fair picture of the theology and Christian understanding of The Simple Way as a whole.

  • There is a theological teaching organisation called The Alternative Seminary in Philadelphia which is ‘co-ordinated’ by Shane’s fellow Simple Way board member Will O’Brien. Shane teaches there. The Alternative Seminary is recommended by Shane in his book and the book’s appendix shows that a portion of the profits from the book are being given to The Alternative Seminary. On this basis it seems inconceivable that Shane does not assent to the teaching that takes place there.
  • The Alternative Seminary list of lecturers includes an actively homosexual Mennonite church leader (and long term associate of Simple Way founder Will O’Brien) whose website says that he is ‘active in gay/lesbian issues currently exploring the art of creating nurturing space for queer and progressive individuals on a journey toward liberation of the world, the flesh, and the spirit… (has) led retreats on ritual and rites of the gay-male spirit… (and works) in queer contexts, designing rituals to honor gay elders’ (where) we danced the fleshly, sexual spirituality of queer men in workshops to discover the work of the divine there.’
  • Two other Simple Way board members have been imprisoned for their pacifist activities and are involved in a leadership role (along with Shane) in another radical Christian teaching/conference organisation called Word and World
  • Word and World’s board of reference includes a woman pastor who describes herself as a protestant lesbian feminist who teaches how to find ways to ‘subvert and transform the dominant order’ from things such as ‘heterosexism’.

***

Lastly, I make no apology for the length of this paper (it is over 30 pages), while recognising that it will not be light reading. Shane Claiborne has been enthusiastically received by [oooo]. I cannot possibly raise questions about the propriety of that (with all the possible repercussions that may follow) without elaborating at length, from his own writings, why I am doing so. A few quotations can be dismissed as out of context or as exceptions from the tenor of his overall message. I have no alternative but to do a full examination of what he has written.  I hope that it is a small consolation that I have restricted my research to The Irresistible Revolution and not conducted another investigation of his second book, Jesus for President!

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