PART TWO

The Irresistible Revolution

(All quotes are from  The Irresistible Revolution by Shane Claiborne, published by Zondervan, Grand Rapids, Michigan in 2006)

 

1.         THE PROBLEM OF DEFINITIONS

Before commenting in any details on Shane’s writing in The Irresistible Revolution in any detail one important point needs to be made. When Shane uses some Christian terms which have a specific meaning to us they do not necessarily mean the same to him – for example ‘evangelical’, ‘evangelise’, ‘conversion’, ‘kingdom of God’ and ‘prophet’. Students of liberation theology, which is one of Shane’s major influences, and of movements such as the New Age will recognise this phenomenon.[1] It is a very important point. It means that a particular sentence with which we think we entirely agree at the first quick read can turn out to have a different meaning when it is studied in detail.

Take Shane’s use of the word ‘evangelical’. The British Evangelical Alliance defines ‘evangelical’ as follows:

Evangelicals often appeal to the derivation of their name from the Greek New Testament word for the ‘gospel’ or ‘good news’ of Jesus Christ. On their own account, they are ‘gospel people’, committed to simple New Testament Christianity and the central tenets of apostolic faith, rather than to later ecclesiastical accretions.

Shane says he is an ‘evangelical’, and then defines this as

One who spreads the good news that there is another kingdom or superpower, an economy and a peace other than that of the nations, a saviour other than Caesar. (p.23)

A Moslem, Mormon, or New Ager would find nothing to disagree with in that definition if it was applied to themselves. They could not say the same about the EA’s statement.  The real problem arises when Shane writes that he speaks ‘as an evangelical’ as then makes a contentious statement which, because he has proclaimed that is ‘one of us’, we feel we should not question.  When reading his book, we need to be careful not to take such terms at face value without examining them carefully first. A person is not an evangelical just because he describes himself as one.

Here is the full quote:

Sometimes  folks (usually of an older persuasion) ask me if I am an evangelical Christian.  As with any label… I want to make sure we have a proper understanding before I answer…. the early evangelists announced another gospel, proclaiming allegiance to another emperor, and conspired to build another kingdom.  If by evangelical we mean one who spreads the good news that there is another kingdom or superpower, an economy and a peace other than that of the nations, a saviour other than Caesar, then yes, I am an evangelical. (p. 23)

He then follows by implying that not a few conventional ‘evangelicals’, dismissed as ‘pop-evangelicals’ and in some cases as ‘false prophets’, have ‘distorted’ the Christian faith.  It is a huge generalisation and a harsh criticism. And just who are these people he dismisses? Are they people we know and are in relationship with?

No doubt, there is much noise in evangelical Christianity. There are many false prophets (and false profits) out there, and all kinds of embarrassing things have been done in the name of God.  Religious extremists of all faiths have perverted the best of our traditions. But… many of us are refusing to allow distorted images of our faith to define us.  There are those of us who, rather than simply reject pop evangelicalism, want to spread another kind of Christianity, a faith that has as much to say about this world as it does about the next.  New prophets are rising up who try to change the future, not just predict it.  There is a movement bubbling up but goes beyond cynicism and celebrates a new way of living, a generation that stops complaining about the church it sees and becomes the church it dreams of…. We are a modest revolution… that can run moneychangers out of temples and politicians out of office. (p.23-5)

Here he has also introduced another ambiguously used word – ‘prophet’. And as for ‘running politicians our of office’, we must ask ourselves if, in a political system with democratically elected leaders, we have any right as Christians, enjoined by scripture to respect and honour our leaders, to take such action? Do we want our young people, reading this book, to follow his lead?

Here is some more. The snipe at ‘pretentious’ ‘suburban’ Christians is repeated elsewhere in the book.

As an evangelical, the only way I know to invite people into Christian faith is to come and see.  After all, I’m not just trying to get someone to sign a doctrinal statement…  So if someone asked me to introduce them to Jesus, I would say, “Come and see.  Let me show you Jesus with skin on.”    Sometimes we have evangelicals (usually from the suburbs) who pretentiously ask us how we “evangelise people.”  I usually tell them that we bring folks like them here to learn the kingdom of God from the poor, and then send them out to tell the rich and powerful there is another way of life being born in the margins. (p.126-7)

I am not quite sure how you ‘learn the kingdom of God from the poor’. It sounds good but what does it mean?

***

Next, we also see that, by his own definition, Shane’s concept of  ‘conversion’ is different from the one held by the ‘conservative evangelicals’ whose understanding he appears to disparage (‘Some of us shiver at the word’[2]). The next paragraph has not been cut and pasted out of order – he really does go straight from ‘conversion’ on to talking about running vans on veggie oil etc as if the two are part of the same process, ‘tearing ourselves away from the clutches of the culture’, a concept we think we agree with but may mean something slightly different to The Simple Way community[3].

It’s a shame that a few conservative evangelicals have had a monopoly on the word conversion.  Some of us shiver at the word.  But conversion means to change, to alter, after which something looks different than it did before – like conversion (sic) vans or converted currency.  We need converts in the best sense of the word, people who are marked by the renewing of their minds and imaginations, who no longer conform to the pattern that is destroying the world…  What the world needs is people who believe so much in another world that they cannot help but begin in acting now.  Then we will start to see some true conversion vans – vehicles that run on a veggie oil instead of diesel.  Then we will see some converted homes – fuelled by renewable energy – and laundry machines powered by stationary bicycles and toilets flushed with dirty sink water.  Then we will see tears converted to laughter as people beat their swords into ploughshares and weld their machine guns into saxophones, and as police officers use their billy clubs to play baseball …  Conversion is not an event but a process, a process is slowly tearing away ourselves from the clutches of the culture. (p.149)

Again, as an aspect of his understanding of conversion what does Shane really mean when he says ‘in such moments that we understand what the Catholic Workers mean when they say, “The true atheist is the one who refuses to see God’s image in the face of a neighbour.” ’ (p.265) It is a good sounding phrase, but does it actually mean anything scriptural?

2.         HISTORICAL AND BIBLICAL ERRORS

Before turning to the main issues raised by the book, I have some other minor quibbles over a number of inaccuracies or misinterpretations which do not enhance the author’s credibility. Here is one example:

Church history is filled with movements of piety, like the Puritans, who marked themselves by separating from the unholy and deemed it as their duty to destroy all that is not pure in the world.  And the pages of church history are filled with the embarrassing bloodstains left by Christian movements that have tried to rid the world of evil by the sword.  Martyrs, heretics, the busy guillotine of the English Reformation, and the cruel punishments of the Spanish Inquisition. (p.250)

First, there is the unsupported statement that the Puritans felt it was their duty to ‘destroy all that was not pure in the world’. Many theologians have great respect for the Puritans. I do not know the truth about this statement but Shane’s following comment gives me no confidence that he has any grasp of history with which to support it. The guillotine was first used in 1792 in France, and the English Reformation dates from 1530. He is 250 years and two nations out. Here’s another:

Though the masses cry out for a safer, more sustainable world, the bear and the bull of Wall Street are aggressive and are ready to tear apart anything that stands in their way. (p.25)

It’s poetic but does it mean anything? ‘Bear’ and ‘bull’ markets on the stock exchange are simply terms used to describe rises and falls in market indices. And, anyway, the statement that the stock market is that destructive is hugely contentious and needs to be supported with some examples. He gives none. The integrity of anti-capitalist agenda is an assumption that pervades the book but it is nowhere argued in any detail. This means that the enthusiastic (young) reader will absorb and believe a contentious and unsupported argument that strikes at the root of Western capitalist democracies (the profession of many people in our church, their parents) without realising they never heard it argued. Shane says it, we have given him a platform, so it must be right.

A debatable interpretation of more recent history comes when Shane says that the Oklahoma Bomber,  Timothy McVeigh, carried out the atrocity as a protest against the American campaign in Iraq.

(McVeigh was) turned into an animal (in Iraq where he was a soldier) because day after day it became easier to kill… He came home from serving in the Army Special Forces, horrified, crazy, dehumanised, and became the worst domestic terrorist we have ever seen.  His essays cry out against the bloodshed he saw and created in Iraq…  No doubt his mind had been tragically deranged by the myth of redemptive violence.[4] He bombed the federal building in Oklahoma City in hopes that complacent Americans could see what “collateral damage” looks like and cry out against bloodshed everywhere, even in Iraq.  Instead, the government that had trained him to kill, killed him, to teach the rest of us that it is wrong to kill.  Dear God, liberate us from the logic of redemptive violence. (p.260)

Before he was executed, McVeigh wrote to Fox News to justify his crimes.[5] Nowhere in that statement does he depart from the accepted view that his motivation was to retaliate against the interference of the FBI and other Federal authorities which, in his paranoia, he felt was akin to some form of rising ‘Big Brother’ totalitarianism.

***

At times Shane interprets Scripture very loosely to make his point. I am not a theologian (one would probably find more examples in his books) but this is one of the most obvious. It starts with another wild generalisation about the failings of the historic church which his lack of historical precision elsewhere gives me no cause to believe.

Christianity often has offered little to the world, other than the hope that things will be better in heaven.  The Scriptures say that the entire creation groans for liberation[6] and the echoes of that groaning can be heard in everything from hip-hop to Hollywood. … Most Christian artists and preachers have remained strangely distant from human suffering, offering the world eternal assurance over prophetic imagination.  Perhaps it should not surprise us that Jesus says that if the Christians remain silent, then the rocks will cry out. (p.17)

If the Christians remain silent about what? About Shane’s version of conversion and liberation? The text about the rocks crying out, to which he refers (Luke 19:37-40), is very specific and has a different meaning. It comes when Jesus is riding into Jerusalem. His followers are proclaiming that he is King and Messiah. The Pharisees tell Jesus to stop them crying out “Blessed is the King who comes in the name of the Lord”.  He answered “I tell you that if these should keep silent, the stones would immediately cry out” … that Jesus was Lord, not in protest against human suffering.

Ananias and Sapphira are mentioned twice in the book, because ‘they withheld a portion of their possessions from the common offering and then lied about it’ (p.105). In the context Shane strongly infers that Ananias’s sin was to withhold any part of their money from the common pot and that God punished them for it. Shane misses the part of the passage in Acts 5:3 where Peter says to Ananias that it was his property and he was not compelled to give it. His sin was to lie about it and claim credit for good that he had not done. This is sloppy bible interpretation.

Another example of how Shane has twisted historical fact to suit his purpose is in the final pages of the book. According to him Charles Finney did not make altar calls for the reasons we have always believed:

So it’s the end of the book, and I feel like I should give an altar call.  But let me remind us that altar calls originated during the fiery revivals of 19th-century evangelists like Charles Finney.  The reason they gave them was to register new converts to the antislavery movement.  They were not simply calling people forward to become believers; they were calling people forward to join the movement of ordinary radicals… it is time for an altar call, but this one is a little different.  It is an altar call to the world to see a new kind of Christianity… it is an “alter” call (sic) to the church, to alter our vision to the patterns of this world and create new ways of living. (p.357)

Yes, you did read that correctly. Shane did say that the real reason Finney gave altar calls was to register new converts to the antislavery movement.

Oh, really?

3.         THE HOLY SPIRIT, WORSHIP & MIRACLES

Shane vfddf gdf gdfg df f gdfgd fg dfg dfg df d fg dfg df gd fd fg df gdf gd fg dfg df df gd df d fgd fg dfg df gd fgd g dg df d fgd fg df d fgd fg df gdf gd fg dfg dd f d fgd fgd fg dfg dfg. His pronounced antipathy to larger corporate worship events (detailed in the next section) prompts other questions: What is his experience of the Holy Spirit? What is his understanding of the presence of God, of miracles and of healing? What can he bring fto sdFGdFgdgdGGdddfgdfdfg       ?

We do not learn much from the list where he tells us of his most powerful encounters with God. No angelic visitations here, no being swept away in worship, no experience of dramatic healings, no Wimber ‘power encounters’:

My most powerful encounters with God seem to involve camping of some kind – crashing on the marbled floor of abandoned St Edward’s Cathedral, camping out in tents in Baghdad outside the Al Monzer Children’s Hospital, sleeping in church parking lots as we march with migrant workers, standing around barrel fires in shanty towns in tent cities, and camping in the wilderness of God’s creation.  That is where I have met God.  God still dwells there.  No doubt there is power in corporate worship but… (p.325)

He talks of another experience of God in meeting Him through the eyes of the dying, a difficult concept which I am not sure I (and a number of other critics) quite understand.  I have no doubt it was a profound experience to work with the dying especially with Mother Theresa but Mother Theresa’s own teaching was that it was not necessary to be born again as a Christian to go to heaven[7].  Some of those eyes into which he looked and saw God were a few moments away from eternity in hell. The dying are not saints because they are dying. It was undeniably a profound human experience (especially for a middle class Westerner), but was it also a divine one?

As I looked into the eyes of the dying, I felt like I was meeting God.  It was as if I were entering the holy of holies of the Temple – sacred, mystical. I felt like I should take off my shoes. I knew what Dorothy Day meant when she said “The true atheist is one who denies God’s image in the least of these ” ’.

Shane then continues with an elaboration which is the clearest indication of his underlying theological/philosophical outlook.

The reality that God’s spirit dwells in each one of us began to sink in. … over and over the dying and the lepers would whisper the mystical word namaste in my ear. We really don’t have a word like it in English (or even a Western concept of it). They explained to me that namaste means “I honor the Holy One who lives in you.” I knew that I could see God in their eyes. Was it possible that I was becoming a Christian, that in my eyes they could catch a glimpse of the image of my Lover? (p.79-80)

There are clear resonances here with Hindu pantheism/universalism which has been adopted in by the New Age movement in the West – that “god” is in every man and woman. The Hindu namaste greeting is the acknowledgement of that supernatural reality. They bow to each other in deference to the spirit of god[8] they recognise in every other human. In Shane’s theology the only difference is that his god is an individual rather than the more abstract spirit of some New Agers.

Shane’s conclusion is unmistakable. God lives in everyone.[9] There is no need for evangelical ‘conversion’ which now, in his book, is reinterpreted to mean a change of outlook about the poor, politics and wealth.

No matter how laudable some of the results of his ministry among the poor, this is NOT orthodox Christianity. Is bsdfSdfsD  he  sfsfsdsddsdsdfs dsd df a man who, in spite of using all the correct language, does not actually subscribe to all the central tenets of the Christian faith?

***

Shane has had encounters with Charismatics, and confesses to having been one for a short while[10]. He left after less than a year because ‘it lost its glamour’. His account of this is the most shocking part of his book and personally, given the preciousness of my own experience of the things of the Holy Spirit which he disparages so obscenely, I find this extremely distressing. I am shocked that he could think of putting it in a book with so little disregard for the offence it might cause.

The time he talks about was when he was at high school. The charismatic Christian group he got involved with would appear to have been a church youth group that was very much like our own and, like ours, experienced the gifts and presence of the Holy Spirit in their meetings:

Then a couple of new kids transferred to our high school, and I heard rumours about them. They were from a “charismatic” nondenominational congregation that was much more radical (than his); they spoke in tongues and danced in the aisles… One day in the lunch room, I was commissioned (okay, dared) to go and sit with them and ask them about speaking in tongues, as all my friends looked on, snickering… They invited me with open arms to worship with them, and I went.  I quickly grew to admire their reckless, unguarded worship.  And I met people who lived like they believed in heaven and hell, who cried and worshipped like they were actually encountering God.
Before long, I ended up joining that congregation.  I became a Jesus freak.  I tried to convert everyone, from heathens to pastors..  I was passionately pro-life and anti-gay, and I tore apart liberals. I helped organise the local Bush/Quayle campaign… I went to the malls to do goofy skits and hand out religious tracts to try to save innocent shoppers from the fires of hell.[11]

It was awesome being a Jesus freak, and I did it for almost a year, but the fiery newness of it died out, and when they actually let us pray in school, it sort of lost its glamour.

[Shane’s footnote is inserted at this point in the text]   We later referred to this feelgood, emotionally charged Christianity as “spiritual masturbation.”  It feels good but never really gives birth to anything.

I saw the messiness of church politics and egotism.  I was driven mostly by ideology and theology, which isn’t very sustainable, even if they’re true…  I needed some relief for my over churched soul. So I became quite disenchanted with the church, though I was still fascinated with Jesus (p.43-46)

What he says is unmistakable and there is no way of explaining it away. The charismatic Christianity of his short-lived association with this group – speaking in tongues, abandoned worship, and street evangelism is described as ‘feelgood, emotionally charged Christianity’ which ‘never really gives birth to anything’ and then is dismissed in deeply offensive terms as ‘spiritual masturbation’.

Is that blaspheming against the Holy Spirit, to call his activity ‘spiritual masturbation’? I do not know. It is very disturbing and highly revealing.

Shane reports that the reason why he left is that ‘ideology and theology’ wasn’t ‘very sustainable’ and ‘it lost its glamour’. I wonder if at that stage he actually had had any experience of God.[12] If he had it is unlikely that he would have turned his back so firmly on it. Perhaps, as one radical among other radicals,  he was merely impressed by the group’s radical behaviour but it never went deeper than that?

Shane has gone on record here as rejecting charismatic Christian practice. He is quite at liberty to do this. We must still honour and respect his precious work with the poor but f fgdgd dg dg dfg dg dfg dfg dfg df d gd fgd fg dfg df gd fgd fg dfg d gd d g dg df gd fgd fg dfg df gd fg dg df gdf gd fg dg df gd g dfg d d fg dfg df gd fg dg df gd g dg dfg d gd g dfg d gd g dfg dfg df gd fg df gd fg dfg d fg dfg df gd g d d g dfg df gd g dg dg df

***

What of Shane’s experience with, and understanding of, miracles?

This is where things get a bit hazy. He has a habit in the book of passing quickly over issues or beliefs that would be too controversial to own up to, but with which we realise from reading the book and elsewhere, he actually is in sympathy.

Bible miracles, in this example the miracle of the loaves and fishes, are a case in point. It seems to be obvious from the context that, even if he does believe the miracle happened (I think he is an agnostic rather than atheist on this one) he does not think it is the most important part of the story. And he introduces his own version of a supernatural miracle – ‘mystical multiplication’, which seems to be something akin to synergy with spiritual resonances. When two parts come together they form more than the sum of those two parts. Read what he says:

While theologians and scholars may debate the essence of the feeding miracles[13] in the Gospels, I think one thing is hard to miss: God’s economy is one of abundance.  When the disciples point out to Jesus that the people are hungry, he tells them to feed them.  When they complain about the price, still thinking with the mindset of the market economy[14], Jesus tells them to take what they have – a little kid’s lunch of fish and loaves – and there will be a mystical multiplicationThat is the miracle: when we give up our possessions, we are doing it in faith, knowing that other people too are  giving up their possessions. (For the record, this idea of mystical multiplication is not confined to the world of economics.  We are more than the sum of our parts, and we can do together what we cannot do alone.) (p.177)

It still doesn’t seem to be an orthodox take on the bible miracles.

Over the next few pages he expands on this ‘mystical’ or ‘divine multiplication’:

Over and over, I have seen divine multiplication meeting people’s needs… in Philly, we have an ongoing dialogue about creating a village of communities, bartering with one another, sharing the things we need, even creating a new currency… one community may have a plumber but need a gardener; another may have a gardener but need blankets; and yet another may have blankets but need a plumber.  It is miraculous how the abundance of God and the gifts of the children of God are able to provide mystically for people’s needs…. and the reality of divine multiplication is realised only when we allow ourselves to be dependent on God and live in radical interdependence with one another. (p.179)

There is no consideration in his book of prayer for physical healing. When he mentions someone who is ill (and obviously needs prayer for healing), it is mystical multiplication that he writes about instead.  To illustrate community living, Shane tells the story of a couple who shared their home with a single pregnant woman and then she and her child remained with them for the next ten years and the woman qualifies as a nurse. Shane concludes:

A heart-wrenching twist to the story is that the wife of the married couple is now very ill with multiple sclerosis, but now the nurse living in her home is caring for her, just as she had cared for the nurse.  This is the divine gift of mystical providence and radical interdependence. (p.183)

***

One further indication of Shane’s perspective on the miracles and the truth of Scripture may come in his reference to the controversial heterodox theologian John Dominic Crossan:

John Dominic Crossan is one of the leading contemporary scholars of the historical Jesus and early Christianity, and a controversial figure.  Whether it’s with the Jesus Seminar or the religious right, Crossan catalyses debate as people seek to understand Jesus.  I will shrewdly avoid the delicate theological issues he stirs up, but one of his books begins with a fascinating story.

A couple of paragraphs later, he continues:

A few years back, a friend and I had dinner with Dominic Crossan.  As we shared with him our feeble attempts to follow after the peasant revolutionary he wrote about, his eyes gleamed with excitement.  You could almost smell the fresh aroma of the gospel as it rose above the suffocating pages of academia.  He told us he had met plenty of evangelical Christians, but not too many still believed that the ole rabbi really meant the stuff he said. (p.240-1)

When Shane says ‘I will shrewdly avoid the delicate theological issues (Crossan) stirs up’ it is because he realises that he would be in hot water if he publicly endorsed Crossan’s theology which (through The Jesus Seminar which Crossan established) maintains that:

  • Jesus had a human father whose name may not have been Joseph
  • Jesus was born in Nazareth, not in Bethlehem
  • Jesus was an itinerant sage who shared meals with social outcasts
  • Jesus practiced healing without the use of ancient medicine or magic, relieving afflictions we now consider psychosomatic
  • He did not walk on water, feed the multitude with loaves and fishes, change water into wine or raise Lazarus from the dead
  • He was executed as a public nuisance, not for claiming to be the Son of God
  • The empty tomb is a fiction – Jesus was not raised bodily from the dead
  • Belief in the resurrection is based on the visionary experiences of Paul, Peter and Mary Magdalene[15]

He clearly admires Crossan (who he describes as ‘one of the leading contemporary scholars of the historical Jesus and early Christianity’) and is not at all put off by his heretical views about scripture. He could not possibly write so uncritically of Crossan as ‘leading scholar’ if he disagreed with Crossan’s heretical views about the divinity and resurrection of Jesus which strike at the heart of orthodox Christian belief. Crossan portrays a Jesus who is very different from the understanding of the historical church, and yet Shane says this is the (same) Jesus that he is trying to follow – ‘the peasant revolutionary he (Crossan) wrote about’.

***

Lastly, I must add another quote to balance the record:

I am a strong believer in miracles, and so many stories come to mind of miraculous providence.  How about a quick one.. (p.85)

He then tells the story of a friend in a Latin American health clinic who had a bottle  of medicine which didn’t run out. I am sure it is absolutely genuine. We have heard many like it – especially through Heidi Baker’s ministry in Mozambique. What is surprising is that he has no genuinely miraculous stories of his own to illustrate God’s activity in the midst of his community in Philadelphia. One cannot argue a point from an omission so I must draw no more conclusions than that. It does seem strange.

(For more information on The Simple Way’s perspective on demonology, see Part I of this paper, in the section on the teaching of The Alternative Seminary, at which Shane lectures and which is led by Shane’s colleague and fellow founder member of The Simple Way, Will O’Brien.)


[1] E.g. ‘The Scriptures say that the entire creation groans for liberation’ (p.17). This is not the place to go into a lengthy discussion of liberation theology so I will say no more on this.

[2] Why? We may not identify ourselves entirely as conservative evangelicals but there is nothing in there teaching about conversion that is so unpleasant as to make us ‘shiver’. We are entirely in accord with their understanding of this concept.

[3] It would include embracing pacifism and giving  your money to the poor.

[4] Shane refers often to ‘the myth of redemptive violence’ – a term coined by Walter Wink, cited as a major influence on the Alternative Seminary (See p.7). The theory  maintains that all military action is wrong because it is based upon the belief that hitting someone back who hits you is the way to solve conflicts.  It runs into difficulties when a nation acts in self-defence against an invader.

[5] The letter is available online – http://www.foxnews.com/story/0,2933,17500,00.html

[6] ‘Liberation’ – In the keeping with the use of this word in Liberation Theology, it is quite possible that Shane’s understanding of it (or at least its implications) varies from our own.

[7] Mother Theresa own words:  “If we accept Him fully in our lives, then that is conversion. What approach would I use? For me, naturally, it would be a Catholic one, for you it may be Hindu, for someone else, Buddhist, according to one’s conscience. What God is in your mind you must accept.” (Desmond Doig, Mother Teresa: Her People and Her Work, William Collins Sons & Co., Ltd., Glasgow, 1976, page 136). Also “There is only one God and He is God to all; therefore it is important that everyone is seen as equal before God. I’ve always said we should help a Hindu become a better Hindu, a Muslim become a better Muslim, a Catholic become a better Catholic. We believe our work should be our example to people. We have among us 475 souls – 30 families are Catholics and the rest are all Hindus, Muslims, Sikhs—all different religions. But they all come to our prayers.”  Please Note: I have not had time to check the original sources for these quotes. I take them at face value but must add this as a caveat.

[8] My omission of capitals for ‘spirit of god’ is deliberate. This is not the Holy Spirit nor Yahweh, the God of Israel.

[9] This is Christian Universalism, widely regarded as heretical: ‘Every person is the divine offspring of God, created in the image of the Heavenly Parent of all… the Light or Spirit of God is within (all of) us… there is no such thing as “eternal” hell, despite what many Christians have been led to believe based on mistranslations of the Bible.’ (www.christianuniversalist.org)

[10] ‘Having been one’ – actually he joined their church but appears not to have been a converted Christian at that time. See Footnote 16 below.

[11] Cynicism?

[12] In support of my contention that Shane was not a Christian during the time he associated with (and rejected) these charismatics, we have only to refer to the passage about his India trip cited a page or two above. He writes ‘Was it possible that I was becoming a Christian?’ (p.80)  In other words, he himself confesses he was not before his trip to India.

[13] Eg  John Dominic Crossan, see below.

[14] Note the anti-capitalist dig

[15] Sources used  for information on Crossan and the Jesus Seminar  include http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Jesus_Seminar . I have not had time to check the Jesus Seminar in detail.

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