In the December 2010 issue of the MB Herald was an article on page 22 called Youth convention speaker raises eyebrows regarding Shane Claiborne who will be speaking at the U.S. Mennonite Brethren conference’s 2011 youth convention ins San Antonio, Texas. The article suggests that the reason questions are being raised about Claiborne being a speaker at the convention is because his dreadlocks and justice for the poor message makes a lot of people uncomfortable. To ease this ‘discomfort’ among the wary sheep who are wise to this ecumenical socialist activism disguised as the gospel, some Mennonite leaders have stepped forward to assure them that there is no cause for alarm. Here is what they are saying:
Steve Schroeder, U.S. Conference leadership board chair: I have read one of Shane Claiborne’s books, which I found very inspiring and which sounded very Anabaptist to me. I have also combed through his website looking for anything that would contradict our MB Confession of Faith and I’ve found nothing.
[Menno-lite Editor’s comment: Claiborne’s promotion of Roman Catholic monks and practices (see here) do not contradict the MB Confession of Faith?]
Rod Suess, Pacific District Conference board of faith and life: [NYC leaders] designed this event to challenge young people caught in a very materialistic culture to risk their lives with Jesus. It’s critical that we support them in the effort, surround them and all those who will attend in prayer, and send any concerns directly to them.
[Menno-lite Editor’s comment: Correct, surround the young people attending with prayer for protection against false teaching.]
Ed Boschman, U.S. Conference executive director: When a youth camp speaker challenged me as a 15-year-old to lay down my life to follow Jesus – over the top as far as I was concerned – I said I would. And while I’m still struggling to get it right, I’ve never regretted it. The NYC planning team has put together an incredible plan for a similar discipleship opportunity. I’d love to be a youth pastor or sponsor at SA2011, and after hearing from this modern-day prophet, get into a circle with open Bibles and do what the Bereans (Acts 17:11) did. The Spirit of Jesus Christ would be there.
[Menno-lite Editor’s comment: If pastors would really do what the Bereans did, they might not be leading their youth to follow Claiborne’s ecumenical social gospel.]
Larry Nikkel, chair of the national board of faith and life: I have read Shane’s writings and find him among the most serious followers of Jesus I know. If his messages offer the opportunity to engage in serious examination of biblical truth, he would be presenting our youth and our youth leaders with a great opportunity for spiritual discernment and growth.
[Menno-lite Editor’s comment: Serious examination of biblical truth might show youth leaders that their youth should not be lead on this pathway.]
Study guides and post-event materials to help youth prepare for and process the Apr. 16–19 convention are available at http://www.SanAntonio2011.org. More information about Shane Claiborne is also linked on the SA2011 site.
The recommended link at the end of the MB Herald article to help readers better understand this speaker leads to a Christianity Today article called The New Monasticism – A fresh crop of Christian communities is blossoming in blighted urban settings all over America. The article, which further explains this Mother Teresa style of social gospel (Claiborne spent time with Mother Teresa’s Missionaries of Charity), also talks about remonking the church, or remonasticization
Remonking the Church
Though the movement is relatively small and intimidating for many, for others it has become an attractive option for living the Christian life. Bessenecker says many young Christians today are looking to commit themselves to something far more radical than the suburban evangelicalism of their parents. We’ve lost the art of vow-making, he says. “In a community that has become so connected to their iPods and gaming, calling people to something different is the sort of challenge they’re ready to rise to. It’s their response to the abundance sickness that marks Western society.”
A group of “monks” could help American Christians better stand against the pervasive consumerism and individualism of pop culture by providing an ideal of unworldly living. As CT wrote in 1988, such a remonasticization “would look to the biblical antecedents for a select group of holy persons set apart to call all persons to holiness, such as the Old Testament Nazirites … and Jesus’ calling of disciples to train and teach with the goal of drawing all Israel to the same discipleship.”
While this sounds good, there is far more to this message than meets the eye. A deeper examination, as the MB leaders have recommended, might reveal that this speaker could be leading the MB youth to a false understanding of the pure gospel. Do we want the eyes of our youth to be opened by the Holy Spirit, or by the ecumenical spirit of the new monasticism?
For further research, those who care about the youth attending this conference may benefit from the following articles and their links:
Shane Claiborne rewrites Matthew’s gospel
Shane Claiborne preaches “The Best Sermon Ever” from Matt 5-7 (and changes scripture to suit his agenda)
MYSTICISM’S GOSPEL OF GOODNESS AND SHANE CLAIBORNE
The NCR Sheds More Light on the Mennonite Brethren’s 2011 Youth Convention Speaker
Shane Claiborne’s Common Prayer
MB leaders respond to concerns about conference speaker
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
***NEW (May 2011):
An Ecumenical Evening With Shane Claiborne, Theme Speaker at Annual Meeting (Winnipeg)