On February 11th, Cedarville University will be hosting an evening with emerging church activist Shane Claiborne. The evening is titled after Claiborne’s book, The Irresistible Revolution. Lighthouse Trails spoke with John Purple (Cedarville’s Dean for Student Life), who said the event was open to both students and the public.
Lighthouse Trails told Purple that in the back of Claiborne’s book he lists a number of “Local Revolutionaries and Ordinary Radicals” to which proceeds of the book go. One of those is the church Brian McLaren founded – Cedar Ridge Community Church. 1 Another is Rob Bell’s church, Mars Hill Bible Church. 2 Bell is a New Age sympathizer who tells readers in his book, Velvet Elvis that they should study the teachings of mysticism and tantric sex promoter Ken Wilber (p. 192) (see Wilber’s website with discretion). Bell also resonates with a Dominican sister (whom he invited to his church) who is from a spiritual center that promotes the occultic healing technique called Reiki (see March 29, 2006 teaching at Mars Hill).
Claiborne’s book has a foreword by liberal political activist Jim Wallis. While Cedarville’s Dean of Student Life (Purple) told Lighthouse Trails that Cedarville is “very conservative,” pointing students to a book that is partially written by Wallis seems to give a different message. Wallis is the founder and editor of Sojourners magazine, a widely read publication that gives a voice to mystics, emerging leaders, and New Age proponents. Sojourners would not represent the views of a “conservative” Christian college by any means, and it is a dichotomy for Cedarville to call itself conservative Christian then introduce students to a book written by Wallis and Claiborne in a favorable light, which CU is doing when it says that Claiborne is “rooted in the values of the Christian faith.”
In addition to Claiborne and Wallis’ book proceeds going to Rob Bell and Brian McLaren’s home church, money will also go toward Tony Campolo. 3 Campolo is a strong proponent for eastern-style mysticism, and in his book Speaking My Mind, he says that Christians who believe in an end-time, Armageddon scenario (as described in the Book of Revelation) are actually the cause of wars and the social ills of the world (ch. 9).
Another organization that will receive money from Claiborne’s book is Mark Scandrette’s Reimagine. Scandrette is one of the contributing authors to An Emergent Manifesto of Hope, the manifesto of the emerging church edited by Doug Pagitt and Tony Jones. Scandrette says that the “healing of our world” must come through integration (interspirituality) and the “interest in theologies of the kingdom of God is related” to a “sense of interconnection” (pp. 27, 30 – also see Faith Undone for more on this topic). This interconnectedness that Scandrette speaks of lines up with Leonard Sweet’s vision when he says:
If the church is to dance, however, it must first get its flabby self back into shape. A good place to begin is the stretching exercise of touching its TOEs [which he also refers to as Grand Unified Theory]…. Then, and only then, will a New Light movement of “world-making” faith have helped to create the world that is to, and may yet, be. Then, and only then, will earthlings have uncovered the meaning of these words, some of the last words … Thomas Merton uttered: “We are already one. But we imagine that we are not.” (from Faith Undone, p. 163)
It is clear that Shane Claiborne shares the same affinities as Brian McLaren, Tony Campolo, Rob Bell, Mark Scandrette and many others of similar spiritual persuasions – if that weren’t true, he wouldn’t be giving his money away to them. But the difficult thing to understand is how Cedarville leadership can be leading their students in this direction and all along insisting they are still a university that stands for biblical truth.
Lighthouse Trails also spoke with CU’s Vice President Carl Ruby. He said he visited the Lighthouse Trails Research website and was very fond of many of the people we critique. Given the fact that all of the names we critique promote eastern-style mysticism and given the fact that Ruby has no reservations about having Claiborne speak, we should be very concerned about the welfare of CU students. However, a closer look at Cedarville reveals that the school is being influenced by New Age/contemplative/emerging spirituality. Even the President’s online “Recommended Book List” includes a book by New Age evangelist Leonard Sweet and staunch New Age teacher James Redfield (The Celestine Prophecy). That is only one example of many, showing CU’s slide.
As Cedarville University joins the ranks of Christian learning institutions that are blindly leading trusting and often naive students down the slippery slope of spiritual deception, we must pray that the Lord will protect these young innocents in a day and age where this is becoming increasingly difficult to do.
List of organizations that Claiborne gives support to. (starting on page 359)