Shane Claiborne and the question of what it means to be a Christian

There’s a really good interview with Shane Claiborne here which really brings out some straightforward but vital stuff. He’s really talking throughout about what it really means to be a Christian, as the writer makes clear from the start, we can call anything Christian, but that doesnt mean it necessarily has much to do with Jesus or the way he taught people to live.

Anyway, read the article, I urge you, it’s encouraging.

As a special treat, here is an edited excerpt, which I think this is a good example of the kind of good stuff he says:

“I think we’ve become infatuated with evangelism to the point that we have an imbalanced focus on discipleship and formation. So what we end up with is a church of believers but very few disciples or followers. And you can worship Jesus without following him…

“So people believe something but even the demons believe we can have faith to move mountains but if we don’t have love it’s nothing, Scripture says.

“So what we’re really talking about I think is recognising that in the evangelical church our evangelism has been a mile long but our discipleship has been an inch deep. We’ve got to really rethink what it means to have lives that are transformed and to have people that because of Christ they’re a new creation and they no longer live on the patterns of our culture. Romans says that we are to be transformed by the renewing of the mind and not to conform to the patterns of our world. So those patterns of racism, consumption, militarism, all the things that don’t look like Jesus, we’ve got to be cultivating people who think with a different imagination than the world around us.

“What monasticism does is put together our belief and our practices so to begin to articulate what are some of the practices of Christianity, what are the ways that it looks? We can learn that by looking at the early church, by looking at Jesus and we can see that the early church shared all their money. They were busting through the barriers of class and race. So we have to relearn our identity, that our identity no longer centrally lies in America but it’s much deeper than that. That we are first Christians and that means we’re a part of a global family and that affects the way that we think about international conflicts, immigration…”

As usual his words are prophetic and timely, and he has this warning for a church which is worried about why its losing young people from its ranks, and desperately trying to make itself ‘hipper’ to stem the exodus.

“I think that part of what we’ve done is we thought in order to stay relevant to a new generation we’ve got to have more drums and drama and high-tech entertainment. The truth is if we lose a generation in the church it won’t be because we didn’t entertain them but because we didn’t dare them and challenge them to really take Jesus seriously in light of the world we live in.”

For me personally, I’m just dead keen to find and work alongside others who think the sermon on the mount should be taken seriously, that it should be used as a way to live, not just something to read. If that’s your kind of Christianity – get in touch.


3 thoughts on “Shane Claiborne and the question of what it means to be a Christian

  1. *raises arm*

    The beatitudes make me angry and sick. Mostly due to my inability to live up to them and the woeful lack of seriousness most Christians seem to take of them.

    1. a listen to neil douglas-klotz on the Beatitudes is a real heart/ eye/ ear opener.
      He’s using, working from the Aramaic rendidtion not the much translated and out of context renditions of 100’s / 1000’s of years later.could send you cd if you are interested jude

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