MB leaders respond to concerns about conference speaker

Can the peace loving Mennonites stir the pot by speaking up? They certainly can! They not only have the right to do so, but those who know God and His Word MUST continue to shine the spotlight on error and sound the warning – for the sake of the gospel and the future generation!

MB leaders respond to concerns about conference speaker
By Sheldon C. Good
Mennonite Weekly Review

Mennonite Brethren leaders are defending their choice of a national conference youth speaker after some members raised concerns.

The speaker is Shane Claiborne, a prominent author and activist who often speaks about peacemaking and social justice.

Claiborne is slotted as one of two keynote speakers at the 2011 U.S. Conference of Mennonite Brethren Churches youth convention in San Antonio, Texas.

Wendell Loewen, co-director of the convention, and other church leaders have heard concerns since late July after they publicized Claiborne as a speaker.

“I was bracing for some pushback,” said Loewen, associate professor of youth, church and culture at Tabor College in Hillsboro, Kan. “People start to get curious and investigate a little bit, especially if they’ve never heard of him.”

Some church groups aren’t planning to attend the convention because of Claiborne, Loewen said….

More here:



The Fallacy of Social Justice

Shane Claiborne will be the keynote speaker for the 2011 National Youth Conference of the Mennonite Brethren Churches

MB Herald Spotlights Claiborne’s Socialist Propaganda


14 thoughts on “MB leaders respond to concerns about conference speaker

  1. Okay, Olives, this one I will disagree with you on 😉 I was at the 2009 MCUSA convention where Shane spoke. He challenged our youth to live their faith not just by worshiping Jesus, but also by actually following him, and they responded very positively. His sermons, books, and lifestyle are no more socialist and/or Marxist than is the message of Acts or the Sermon on the Mount. He knows you can’t drag God’s kingdom into the world (by imposing economic/political systems through the state or otherwise); only God can establish the Reign of God. We as his church can just be a foretaste!

    He’s a passionate evangelical, who takes Jesus’ Way so seriously that it’s threatening to those who would be more at home worshiping in the church of Adam Smith or in the Pentagon, or devouring the sweet sermons of the prosperity preachers. I’m sure the MB youth will find Shane to be a passionate, engaging, kingdom-minded speaker who will challenge them to greater faithfulness to their Lord. I think you might actually enjoy his book, Jesus for President.

    Thanks for letting me stop by your blog the past couple of days here! Sounds like you’re having some important conversations. Who knows, maybe I’ll stop by again in the future. Take care!

    Grace and peace,

    • Okay Peter, Claiborne’s new book Jesus for President is “calling people out of business-as-usual in a corrupt world and back to the radically different social order.” Is this Jesus’ way? Is this faithfulness to the Lord? Does Jesus call us to a different social order? The way of social justice? The way of Mother Teresa (whom Claiborne admires) who was a universalist? Not many of us even understand where the term “social justice” comes from, but this explains it very well:
      The Fallacy of Social Justice

      What sounds like charity and “the radical way of Jesus’ according to Shane Claiborne is actually the slippery path to a global collectivist system/Marxism/redistribution of wealth, etc. The Bible does not call for economic equality or changing the social order.

      Christians will believe anything that sounds good these days. They don’t even know what the truth is anymore. This is how a pastor introduced Shane Claiborne at that convention you attended:

      When folks ask me what I think about Shane Claiborne, I like to say that I cam glad that what he says is right and true. If he were a liar, then we would all be doomed. Why? Because he’s good, really good. Shane can persuade me of just about anything. I bet it has something to do with that disarming Southern drawl—it makes all his words taste like sweet tea. And it’s probably his contagious and gentle laugh; I can’t help but laugh with him. And as soon as I do, it’s over. He has me. My mind is putty in his hands. But like I said, it’s a good think Shane speaks the truth. He’s honest—a man without guile, without a deceptive bone in his body.
      Now, I usually run away from smooth-talking preachers. I always feel like they are trying to sell me something that they really don’t believe. And I can’t stand their slick grins and cheezy smiles… and that voice, that all-knowing tone of voice. But I’ve learned that Shane isn’t like that at all. I’ve actually learned to trust Shane, almost in spite of his rhetorical powers. I’ve come to find out that he actually tries to speak the truth about the world, about the church, and, most importantly, he tries to speak the truth about himself. Shane is on a pilgrimage of truth and he invites all of us along that same path.
      So, that’s why we should listen to him. Brother Shane won’t lie to you because he doesn’t lie to himself. And if you think he might be wrong, let him know. I’m sure he will appreciate it. Because Shane knows that the truth is something we discover together. Truth comes to us as we travel together down the way of Jesus.

      -Shane Claiborne at MCUSA Convention

      This is how pastors judge the truth in the 21st century church. Passionate speaking seems to be the criteria for truth these days.

      • Hi Olives,

        I generally prefer “justice” so “social justice,” as it’s the biblical term. Of course, justice in the Bible has a pronounced social dimension to it (e.g. the repeated call to the covenant community to care for the widow, the orphan, the alien; the prophetic judgment against injustice in social spheres like courts; and the Jubilee).

        I find it difficult to say that Jesus didn’t invite us into a new social body, God’s kingdom, a distinctly political and social identifier. Moreover, his church (Gk. assembly) is a distinct social reality, indeed a radically different one, actually called to be radically different from the world around it. It’s not changing the social order; it’s a new and distinct one of believers whose citizenship is in heaven, yet who are connected with the social order as Christ’s ambassadors.

        Often folks mistake the common living of the early church with a prescription for government policy (i.e. Marxism). Shane makes no such claim. He’s talking primarily about the church, composed of God’s kingdom people who *choose* to live in Jesus’ way, not about rewriting secular government policy. He invites people to be a contrast/holy/set apart community (1 Peter 2:9). He makes no assumption that this will become the dominant political reality apart from God’s direct action (not human agency). In fact, in Jesus for President, he roundly critiques Liberation Theologians and revolutionaries who try to force the very sort of political ideology you fear.

        The early church didn’t slip into Marxism; I’m confident Shane’s community won’t either. Such a slip is only possible if one assumes and accepts a Christendom context, which both Shane and traditional Anabaptist communities resist. Shane doesn’t claim the Bible calls for economic equality, but he does affirm its call to right relationship among God’s people, which includes an economic dimension which, when disregarded, has disastrous consequences (e.g. Acts 5:1-11).

        Regarding the pastor in question, he was saying he trusts Shane *in spite of his rhetorical skills.* As he said, truth comes as we travel the Way of Jesus (John 14:6).

        It seems like lots of complaints against Shane are born out of an allegiance to the gods of the Market and Capitalism (neither of which is endorsed in the Bible any more than is socialism or redistribution) and by those who grab short sound bytes and truncated quotes rather than seeking to understand Shane. (To be clear, I’m not accusing you of this.)

        I appreciate that you took the time to read some of Shane’s commentators/reviewers, and I’d also love to hear your comments after reading Jesus for President for yourself.

        Grace and peace,

  2. Here’s one review:


    Here’s mine:

    Quite honestly, I really am not as worried about Claiborne’s social gospel as I’m worried about his personal testimony.

    On page 37-51 of “The irresistible revolution”, he talks about his foundational Christian experience:

    1. He was “born again” six or eight times in his youth (this is when he got the “belief” part of Christianity down pat).
    2. He bought a whole bunch of Christian kitsch and burned all his CDs (this is when he was struggling with the “what to do” part of Christianity).
    3. In high school and in college he was a raging materialist with little concern for God (again, still struggling with the “what to do” part of Christianity). He even jokes about how church had nothing to offer him because the games were lame, the songs were old and the girls were more attractive elsewhere (page 42 – Remember, this is AFTER he claimed to have the “belief” part down).
    4. He became a “Jesus Freak” and vandalized for the sake of evangelism (still working out the “what to do” part of Christianity). He compares his evangelism to being a “used car salesman” and thought people’s salvation depended on the quality of his presentation.
    5. He went to study under Duffy Robbins and Tony Campolo (or dear).
    6. He and some friends started hanging out with the homeless (and seeing demons – page 49), and eventually discovered the “missing element” in his Christian life, which he expands upon in the following pages as basically social justice and caring for the homeless.

    I don’t hear too many say this, but NOWHERE in the book does Claiborne give me reason to believe that he ever heard or believed the good news of Jesus Christ. He never once talks about coming to face his own sin (hence he doesn’t really like the substitutionary atonement idea – he never actually believed he was a sinner. That’s also how he thinks he can “see God” in the eyes of unregenerate people who are poor…). He never once talks about repentance either. He doesn’t mention God’s holiness or justice.

    Anyone who preaches a gospel without a sinful man, a holy God, or the need for repentance and imputed righteousness is preaching a different gospel than the Christ of scripture.

    I honestly feel for the man, since he has been taught such a steaming load of dung. He heard and believed the Duffy Robbins “Jesus is the ultimate high/You need to accept Jesus into your heart” gospel (whatever THAT means) and was innoculated against the biblical gospel…then he went searching for missing element in his life, which apparently was “purpose” (since after being born again six to eight times, he figures he HAD to be a Christian). He found his purpose and now, like Mother Theresa, he serves for poor for the glory of self. I doubt God is pleased with that.

    He’s right on a lot, but wrong where it really matters most.

    Unless he REALLY left some massive content out of his book, we need to pray for Claiborne’s salvation.

  3. I guess I read his testimony and see in it a witness to the persistent call of God and the transforming work of the Spirit in the process of salvation. I’m glad that Shane is open and honest about his past; it bears witness all the more to God’s goodness and grace. In reading his later work or encountering him in person, it’s also evident that he has continued to grow and refine his theology since IR.

    Irresistible Revolution, and to a much greater extent, the more recent and more developed Jesus for President, read like a call to repentance and turning from the power of Sin. True, he doesn’t talk about penal substitution. I guess that doesn’t bother me because I personally find minimal support for it in the Bible as it’s usually articulated (or forensic justification in general — Pierced for Our Transgressions is a good recent book that does attempt to support it, though; I can almost agree with Barth).

    I think it’s unfair to say Shane or Mother Teresa serve the poor for the glory of self, though it is a convenient way to dismiss them.


    • 1. “Irresistible Revolution, and to a much greater extent, the more recent and more developed Jesus for President, read like a call to repentance and turning from the power of Sin.”

      Except that they don’t actually contain a call to repentance and turning from the power of sin. So is this “call” in the white spaces of the book? Is it implicit somehow?

      2. “True, he doesn’t talk about penal substitution. I guess that doesn’t bother me because I personally find minimal support for it in the Bible.”

      And I cannot open up the New Testament without getting slapped in the face with five facts:

      a. Every human being is a wretched sinner by nature who cannot do a thing about their will to rebel against God’s glory.

      b. Every human being expresses that will to rebel (if and to the extent that they can) in acts of rebellion against God’s glory in word, walk and will.

      c. Every human being faces the coming judgment of Jesus Christ against their acts of rebellion against God’s glory.

      d. Every human being needs a solution to their predicament of being trapped in the iron maiden where they have their own nature pressing in from one side and their actual wilfull acts of rebellion against God’s glory pressing in from the other, which make them guilty of actual rebellion.

      e. Jesus Christ is the only one who can disassemble/disarm that iron maiden by the indwelling of the Holy Spirit who deals with the pressing sin-nature side, and the death of Christ on behalf of sinners along with the imputation of his own alien righteousness to those same sinners that deals with the pressing rebellion side.

      If someone doesn’t see that in the New Testament, they’ve got sin goggles on.

      If someone doesn’t see that in the New Testament, the problem isn’t that the New Testament is unclear. The scripture has perspicuity for all, even children.

      The problem is that though they may like the New Testament (and church, and think Jesus is your homeboy, etc.), they are not willing to go where it goes because they’re stuck at point ‘d’ and can’t progress any further.

      That person needs to read “The Almost Christian Discovered” by Matthew Mead.

      3. “I think it’s unfair to say Shane or Mother Teresa serve the poor for the glory of self, though it is a convenient way to dismiss them.”


      It’s sure convenient for you to suggest that I need to be “fair” with a humanitarian from a false religion and give her “benefit of the doubt on righteousness”. If she acts nice, and isn’t a materialist, she’s all of a sudden regenerate in spite of devoting her life and service to a false religion?

      Should I be fair with Bill Gates too?
      Warren Buffet?
      L. Ron Hubbard?
      Thomas S. Monson?
      Swami Vivekananda?

      Are they all “Christians until proven guilty” because they’re nice folks who do altruistic acts beyond the realm of possibility for most normal people?

      Since when is “fair” even a category in discussions about truth?

      Unless Mother Teresa rejected and abandoned Catholicism for Biblical Christianity, she couldn’t have done what she did for anything other than the glory of herself. Unless Mother Teresa rejected and abandoned Catholicism for Biblical Christianity, she died in her sins and is currently waiting in line for judgment between Michael Jackson and Chairman Mao.

      How does a sinner, albeit a very nice looking and altruistic one, ever do anything for the glory of God?

      Also, if Shane Claiborne gives me no reason to think he ever heard and believed the gospel, why would I put him in a different category than Mother Teresa?

      *Awooga! Awoooga!*

      *Warning! Theological Inconsistency Alert! Core Breach Imminent!*

  4. Peter,

    It’s been sad to watch as you progressively reveal your true views. It would not be at all surprising to hear that you also agree with Marcus Borg in your next comments, should you return to visit. Do your friends who are practicing contemplative prayer also share your views about the sufficiency of scripture and the penal atonement?

    ‘Mennoknight’ and ‘For the Author,’

    Thank you for filling in the gaps.

    • Woah Olives, be nice.

      Peter and I definitely don’t agree, but I don’t think you should be lumping him in with Borg unless he places himself there. That’s “blackest darkness” territory…

      • My apologies for inferring so hastily that Peter shares the views of Borg, but he did make a rather shocking statement when he said that he finds minimal support for the penal atonement in the Bible.

      • Yeah, I hear you. When people say that they don’t find penal substitution in the Bible, it CAN possibly mean that they agree with Borg…

        …But I know a lot of MB’s who simply have never really been taught through the issue and therefore don’t see it anywhere because their understanding of it is horribly shallow. That’s somewhat their own fault, and somewhat the fault of their leadership.

        I mean, I was teaching Sunday school today and went through 1 Peter 5. It’s in there, though a casual read of an English translation wouldn’t show the reader that.

      • The amazing part about the penal substitutionary view of atonement [that Christ paid the penalty in our place to reconcile us back to God] is that it’s simple enough for a child to understand, yet too deep for some educated adults to grasp.

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