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Shane Claiborne at Park St Church


Last night we saw Shane Claiborne (of the Simple Way, and Irresistible Revolution as well as Jesus for President) at Park St Church in Boston. The man is certainly a storyteller. He has chosen to do things most people think is crazy. He is a fantastic encouragement that anyone can do this. Around ten years ago he started a community on Potter St in Philadelphia. They opened a community garden, and housed Christians. They got increasingly involved with the neighbors and children around them. They set aside (tithe) money to help the community with whatever needs were current. They’ve made a huge impact and given Christians a good name there.

A lot of what I’ve been reading recently and thinking about personally was affirmed in his talk. For a while I’ve been distressed at the Church’s largely personal and individualized gospel. Not only was it ignoring the larger Kingdom context of Jesus’ preaching and the Jewish hope – whatever it did retain about that was for the most part off in the future. I’m being forced to reconsider the amount of inaugurated eschatology that I do believe in – that God’s power, through the spirit, is causing the age to come to break into this age prematurely. Shane calls what they do there “practicing resurrection”.

One of the most profound insights I had was a single word that Shane used in his talk: “patterns”. I use the word found in Paul’s epistles ‘institutions’, but that word is unable to effectively communicate it to people today. The patterns of the world is the way to communicate that very same idea, and Shane turned me on to it. To talk about the Church, and being the Church, we cannot conform to the patterns of the world. In nearly all cases the patterns of the world are built to negate so much of God wants done. Therefore to be complicit with those patterns, to encourage them, enforce them, support them – through action, or theology – is to be anti-Gospel. Why? Because Jesus did not conform to the patterns of this world, he broke them at every turn to glorify God and redeem His creation. His very death being salvific instead of the destruction of hope is a perfect example. This is the very beginning of the theology that lies behind Christian justice movements. Unfortunately this theology is hardly ever taught in churches.


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