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Shane Claiborne wants ‘a Christianity that looks like God again’

Shane Claiborne speaks at Abilene Christian University during Summit 2010. (Photo by Erik Tryggestad)

Shane Claiborne, Christian activist and author of “Irresistible Revolution: Living as an Ordinary Radical,” spoke to more than 4,000 students and visitors Wednesday on the final day of Abilene Christian University’s Summit 2010.
The Abilene Reporter-News reports:

Claiborne advocated reading the Bible in one hand and the newspaper in the other to learn the “heartbreaking realities” in the world. He recalled the words of Mother Teresa, who said, “Calcuttas are everywhere; we only have to have eyes to see.”
He called the current economic recession “an opportunity for imagination and for the church to shine … We may not can do great things, but we can do small things with great love.”
“Poverty has a lot of different faces,” he added.
Instead of asking, “‘Am I going to be a teacher, a lawyer or a doctor?’” Claiborne said, “ask, ‘What kind of teacher or lawyer or doctor am I going to be?’”
He said Christianity cannot be spread by force.
“We want a Christianity that is fascinating again,” he said. “We want a Christianity that looks like God again. We all have a role to play.”

Read the full story.
Here’s a video that explains Claiborne’s ministry, the simple way.
Shane’s Short Intro from The Simple Way on Vimeo.

  • Feedback
    Shane Claiborne doesn’t teach the Biblical Gospel. I have a hard time with the ecumenical spirit that we have chosen to take. Shane may be doing “good things” but he preaches a Gospel “other than the one Paul preached and will be anathema.”
    Mike L.
    September, 23 2010

    The Biblical Gospel is more than quoting proof texts and having a perfect understanding of doctrinal issues. Shane and a host of other young Christians have a passion for ministry to the the poor and helpless that would do us all good to imitate. As far as an ecumenical spirit goes, let’s remember the restoration emphasis of ‘seeking to be Christians only, not the only Christians.’
    William C.
    September, 24 2010

    I thought Shane’s presentation at the ACU Lectureship was the most outstanding of all of the speakers. He is sold out to Jesus, passionate, and seems natural in his witness. He was able to speak with conviction without “in-your-face” condemnation of those for whom his lifestyle might not be theirs.
    Steve S
    September, 24 2010

    N.B. Hardeman said it well. “To teach God’s Word and to preach the gospel of His Son to dying humanity is the noblest work on this earth. You may feed and clothe humanity and provide for them good homes , but if you fail to induce them to obey the gospel, they will die and land in hell at last.” (Vol.V, p56)
    Willis Page
    September, 24 2010

    Perhaps it is cynical to take issue with a man who is passionate on a subject. That said I take issue with the title of the presentation: “a Christianity that looks like God [dash] again.”
    Is that not a slap in the face for all the rest of us? That title would seem to stereotype the church of Christ – except for him.
    Robert McAfee
    September, 24 2010

    Willis: I don’t know the context of NB Hardeman’s statement, but on its face value I’d say he is dead wrong. The criterion for salvation seems to be feeding, clothing and housing humanity (Matt. 25). Therefore, those things seem to be “the noblest work on this earth.” Claiborne is doing in the name of Jesus what so many believers aren’t.
    Steve Sr
    September, 24 2010

    To Steve Sr. The context is a sermon “The Mission and Work of the Church” , which was delivered in his series of Tabernacle Sermons at the Ryman Auditorim in Nasville. All 5 volumes are available from the Gospel Advocate.
    My brother, Thomas N. Page at age 19 read them when he was dying. After reading all of them ,he made a vow to the Lord that if he would live , he would devote his life to the saving of souls. He lived, attended Freed-Hardeman, preached for years, baptized many and died at 49.
    Willis Page
    September, 24 2010

    “For by grace you have been saved through faith. And this is not your own doing; it is the gift of God, not a result of works, so that no one may boast.” Eph. 2:8-9
    “But the fruit of the Spirit is love, joy, peace, patience, kindness, goodness, faithfulness, gentleness, self-control; against such things there is no law.” Gal. 5:22-23
    It would seem to me that the thing that is more important is saving faith. From that extend our works of kindness, love, goodness, etc. We have gone from one extreme of legalism with no showing of good works, to the other of the legalism of salvation by works. I have yet to hear Shane Claiborne preach the Gospel of Jesus Christ.
    Mike L.
    September, 24 2010

    After all is said and done, there’s a lot more said than done. While doctrine is important, it’s nothing but dead letters unless given life by disciples who practice living what Jesus taught.
    Following Christ is much more than attending a church with the right doctrines; it’s a life-long journey toward spiritual maturity rather than a doctrinal destination that can become a dead end in itself.
    Having read Shane Claiborne’s scripture-filled books and listened to him speak, he pleads with those who call themselves Christian to take God’s word seriously enough to live it, daily, to behave godly.
    Like the lesson of the rich young ruler who claimed to fully obey God or the lesson of those who look into the mirror of God’s word but forget how they measure up, all who claim Christ as Lord need to reflect on his or her own obedience and repent accordingly.
    Standing before God to be judged, our unrepented sins and those of omission will likely be more about orthopraxis than orthodoxy, more about what we didn’t do than what we incorrectly believed.
    Mike Clemens
    September, 24 2010

    Christianity is following Christ, plain and simple. Forget the hype and follow Christ.
    John Jenkins
    September, 25 2010

    That was the second time I’ve heard Shane Claiborne speak, and once again he challenged audience to be more like Jesus. I thought it was excellent.
    Trey Morgan
    September, 25 2010

    Mike Clemens … VERY well said.
    Trey Morgan
    September, 25 2010

    None of us are perfect and we will make mistakes in doctrine. I won’t claim that Shane is an exception to that rule.
    But I will state that he has a heart for Jesus as God’s Son, born of a virgin, making the perfect atonement for our sins, resurrected from the dead, saving the world. If the western church had a half a heart for Jesus as Shane does, then maybe we would do more than just come to church on Sunday in our uniforms.
    Bob Valerius
    September, 25 2010

    “Jesus didn’t come to die for us.” — Shane Claiborne
    “But now a righteousness from God, apart from law, has been made known, to which the Law and the Prophets testify. This righteousness from God comes through faith in Jesus Christ to all who believe. There is no difference, for all have sinned and fall short of the glory of God, and are justified freely by his grace through the redemption that came by Christ Jesus. God presented him as a sacrifice of atonement, through faith in his blood. He did this to demonstrate his justice, because in his forbearance he had left the sins committed beforehand unpunished�he did it to demonstrate his justice at the present time, so as to be just and the one who justifies those who have faith in Jesus.” — Romans 3:21-26
    Mike L.
    September, 27 2010

    I have been a member of the Lord’s church for 55 years and I am happy that I have lived long enough to see that someone could express their faith like this without fear of retaliation. It has not always been so. The 1950s was an age of Macarthyism politically and the church was not immune in the Spiritual realm. As Mike stated, he would be anathema only with action not just complaining. read some of the web sites “ex-church of Christ” support groups and try to understand the anguish of some of these poor souls.
    Praise God!
    John Hundley
    Brussels, Belgium
    John Hundley
    September, 28 2010

    This article, with the comments, is exactly what I have think God has called me to address in my ministry.
    Why can’t we have sound doctrine + an authentic non pretentious Christian witness.
    Painting with a broad brush here: The doctrinally sound don’t do grunt work Christian ministry or evangelism like door to door, living in the poor communities, having mixed racial churches.
    Then on the other hand, the worse the doctrine gets the more they seem to do outreach. Like inner city Charismatic churches or liberal liturgical churches.
    If the RM is supposed to be about returning to the New Testament there is no other body BUT US that should be able to bring both sides together. To return to the NT would not just mean in Doctrine alone, but in practice also!
    This is why I am very interested in simple churches. Simple churches with sound doctrine could be revolutionary thing.
    Johnny Cox
    October, 3 2010

    I have read Shane Claiborne�s book �The Irresistible Revolution,� and have read many of his articles in Christian publications and magazines. I am aware of his high-profile ministry among the poor in Philadelphia where he lives here in poverty, choosing to spend his days with the poor and the destitute, serving them and sharing in their trials.
    Indeed Shane says some things that make sense to me regarding Christians and our need to help the poor and actually connect with them personally, rather than just giving a few bucks to the united way and calling it a day.
    I don�t question that Shane is deeply sincere in what he does and believes. But he is sincerely wrong. He promotes a false gospel.
    The message Claiborne teaches, preaches and models is not a gospel of salvation through the atoning death of Jesus Christ. It is not a gospel that saves souls as much as it is a gospel that brings wealth to the poor and sustains the health of the planet. These are good and noble ends, indeed, but they are not the gospel message; this is not the message Jesus came to proclaim and this is not the message of Jesus� Apostles. It is not the primary message of Scripture. We may tend to the needs of the poor and join them in their suffering, but our foremost concern must be for their souls.
    And so although we can appreciate his concern for the poor and for the destitute, we must insist that the gospel message�the message of Jesus� atoning death for hopeless sinners like you and me�be the message that marks us as radicals in this world.
    Now don�t misunderstand, I�m not advocating that Christian college students should not be informed on the various religions and spiritualities of the world. But I don�t think that they should learn them from the proponent themselves. Would a university need to bring in a Marxist to teach the students about Communism? No. Neither do they need to bring in an emerging activist to teach the students about mysticism and emerging spirituality.
    But it does greatly concern me that if Abilene Christian cannot grasp the underlying reality and spiritual framework behind the message of the key proponents of the emerging church, then they could find themselves swept up into a spirituality that is not in harmony with the Gospel of the grace of God.
    Robert Prater
    Robert Prater
    October, 12 2010

    Extending the love and grace reflected in the life of Christ by living a life of service to others is the gospel that Shane encourages us to follow. There’s nothing false in it. It’s similar to the charge of St. Francis of Assisi: “Preach the Gospel at all times – and when necessary use words.”
    I agree wholeheartedly with Mike Clemens’ response. Can’t say it any better.
    Greg Barrett
    October, 22 2010

    You know, there are “Denominations” that teach the substitutional atonement of Jesus, AND emphasize helping the poor. If the church of Christ knew more about what other “denominations” teach, they would know there are many other “denominations” that teach the way traditional Christians do about Jesus and salvation, yet also teach much of what Shane teaches.
    I grew up in the church of Christ being told that people who go to “denominations” only go there to make network connections and show off their diamonds and furs. Also, that people in “denominations” were not sincere because they “knew the truth” and ignored it willfully.
    Because of this mindset, it seems church of Christ young people don’t know there’s anything between the 1950’s mindset church of Christ mentioned above by another commenter, and Shane here. Well, there is. And there has been for centuries. People growing up in the church of Christ are blind to a whole spectrum of other denominations that DO teach correctly about Jesus and salvation…and a lot of other things. They may have bishops and they may use instruments. That’s no reason to be unaware of what they actually DO teach apart from those topics…but in my experience, the church of Christ is missing knowledge of this whole spectrum of other denominations because they are (or were) actively discouraged from learning about these denominations.
    There really is something between the 1950’s McCarthyism mentioned above, and Shane here, with “Jesus didn’t come to die for us” (if he really said that.) The church of Christ thinks if a “denomination” is into the social gospel at all, it doesn’t emphasize salvation or teach right doctrine about Jesus and salvation. Nothing could be further from the truth–but I think the church of Christ emphasized staying far, far from other denominations to the extent that it ended up not knowing there was anything between itself and Shane here.
    Again, there are “Denominations” that teach that Jesus came to die for us and salvation comes from Him….AND emphasize (as a *part* of what they teach) the social gospel. And they aren’t all “watered down feel good.” Thanks for listening even though this might seem mean. Didn’t mean to be too mean. It is possible to teach much of what Shane teaches AND salvation through Jesus and His sacrifice. “DENOMINATIONS” do it all the time.
    Teresa Neal
    January, 9 2011

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