Wednesday, November 18, 2009

What If Jesus Meant All That Stuff?

I like Shane Claiborne. I do not agree with everything he says or writes, but I believe that he has a firm grasp on what the Kingdom of God looks like. Here is a letter he recently wrote into Esquire Magazine to non-believers. Loved it and would like to know what you all think.

What If Jesus Meant All That Stuff?

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julie said...

Interesting post, Ray! I guess I'll tell you my thoughts (since you asked).

My theology is different from Shane's in a lot of ways so I often disagree with him. That being said, he does practice what he preaches and I respect that.

While it is good to confess hypocrisy, I think it is unbiblical to say the biggest obstacle to God are hypocritical Christians. The true obstacle is sin, and Christ had to pay the ultimate price to make atonement possible.

He makes no mention of the cross or the need for repentance. In fact, he chides a fellow believer for shouting that people will go to hell if they do not repent. I agree that may not be the best approach, but which is more biblical? To inform people of their need for repentance, or to assure them God is their friend no matter what?

There are a lot of other points I could make, but overall, my conclusion is 'heartfelt and honest but not so theologically sound.' Of course you seemed to like it and you're much more educated than me! Maybe I'm missing something?

I sort of got the impression he is a universalist. Is that way off?

Ray said...

It's good to hear from my good friend Julie. Many of your conclusions, especially about the cross and the need for repentance I agree with. One point of contention though. When Jesus threatned hell to people (which was rare), it was most often to religious leaders who did not live up to their calling as God's people. I think that is what Shane is getting at when he chides the street preacher on the corner. About Shane being a universalist, I do not know. He is at least an inclusivist (where others outside of the Christian faith are included in salvation).

The reason I liked the article is because it brings out the life of Jesus and its importance in salvation history. In much of Evangelical Christianity, we miss out on the radical nature of the Gospel among the marginalized by focusing solely on the afterlife. I look forward to a New Heaven and a New Earth as much as anybody, but I believe that God has called his church to bring some of that New Heaven and Earth in the present day.

julie said...

thanks for the response, ray! i especially am thankful for you pointing out Jesus' warning to religious leaders--that was a helpful reminder.

my main concern over perspectives like Shane's is that it seems to ignore the fact that God will judge sin and only those who have repented and trusted in Jesus will be saved (according to the Bible). he seems to be assuring people that God loves them no matter what, and that their sin isn't really a huge problem because Jesus hung out with sinners, and yes, of course God loves sinners, but he is also perfectly holy and just. he will not ultimately be a friend to those who have not repented (again, according to the bible).

the lifestyle of jesus was indeed a radical one, and we who strive so much for comfort have much to be shameful about when we really look at the lifestyles of the early christians. we can improve relations between those who profess to be christians and those who do not by a willingness to love and care for the oppressed and marginalized. and yes, that is what Jesus would do.

but that in itself is incomplete. i think to address unbelievers about the christian faith and fail to mention the cross is to leave out the most important thing of all.

hope you guys are doing well in texas!