Tag Archives: Shane Claiborne

“Kill them all, and let God sort them out” – Why Evangelicals’ Reaction to 9/11 Went so Wrong

20 years ago, Al Qaida killed 3,000 civilians through terror and fire. That was a horrifying, indefensible act of violence.

In response, the USA started two wars that have killed 70,000 civilians in Afghanistan and 200,000 (!) in Iraq. Thousands of them were children.

That was also a horrifying, indefensible act of violence.

Shane Claiborne is an activist and theologian who had wise things to say concerning the violent aftermath of 9/11. From his book The Irresistible Revolution (2nd edition, pp. 185-187):

When Kingdoms Collide

Shortly after September 11th, I traveled to speak to a large congregation in the Midwest. (And no, it wasn’t Willow Creek.) Before I got up to preach, a military color guard presented the US flagat the altar. The choir filed in one-by-one, dressed in red white, and blue, with the “Battle Hymn of the Republic” playing in the background. I knew I was in big trouble. The congregation pledged allegiance to the flag, and I wished it were all a dream. It wasn’t. I got up to speak, thankful I was standing behind a large podium lest anyone try to pelt me with a pew Bible. I went forward to preach the truth in love with my knees knocking and managed to make it out okay with a bunch of hugs and a few feisty letters.

This is a dramatic (though painfully true) illustration of the messy collision of Christianity and patriotism that has rippled across our land. I thought this was an exceptional and dramatic example, but l’ve had same zingers since this. I spoke at a military academy where they had a full-on procession of military vehicles and weaponry. They fired cannons and saluted the flag, and then I got up to speak. I felt compelled to speak on the fruit of the Spirit (love, joy, peace, patience, kindness, gentleness, goodness, faithfulness, and self-control), the things Scripture says God is like and we should hope to be more like.

I talked about how the fruit of the Spirit take training and discipline and are not always cultivated by the culture around us. Afterward, one young soldier came up to me, nearly in tears, and told me that as he heard the list of the fruit of the Spirit, it became clear to him that these were not the things he was being trained to become. We prayed together, and I think of him often. I know that young man is not alone.

I saw a banner hanging next to city hall in downtown Philadelphia that read, “Kill them all, and let God sort them out.” A bumper sticker read, “God will judge evildoers, We just have to get them to him.” I saw a T-shirt on a sold’ that said, “US Air Force … we don’t die; we just go to hell to regroup.” Others were less dramatic-red, white, and blue billboards saying, “God bless our troops.” “God bless America” became a marketing strategy. One store hung an ad in their window that said, “God bless America–$1 burgers.”

Patriotism was everywhere, including in our altars and church buildings. In the aftermath of September 11th, most Christian bookstores had a section with books on the event, calendars, devotionals, buttons, all decorated in the colors of America, draped in stars and stripes, and sprinkled with golden eagles.

This burst of nationalism reveals the deep longing we all have for community, a natural thirst for intimacy that liberals and progressive Christians would have done much better to acknowledge. September 11th shattered the self-sufficient, autonomous individual, and we saw a country of broken fragile people who longed for community–for people to cry with, be angry with, to suffer with. People did not want to be alone in their sorrow, rage, and fear.

But what happened after September 11th broke my heart. Conservative Christians rallied around the drums of war. Liberal Christians took to the streets … Many Christians missed the opportunity to validate both the horror of September 11th and outrage at war as a response to September 11th.

In the aftermath of September 11th, many congregations missed the chance to bear witness of God’s concern for the victims of the attack and God’s concern for the victims of the imminent war. Many of us hunkered down into familiar camps rather than finding a more creative way of standing with all who suffer. Many of the antiwar activists would do well to visit the memorial in NYC. And many of the war hawks would do well to visit the Ameriyah shelter in West Baghdad. Every life lost is reason for grief and outrage.

The cross was smothered by the flag and trampled under the feet of angry protesters. The church community was lost, so the many hungry seekers found community in the civic religion of American patriotism. People were hurting and crying out for healing, for salvation in the best sense of the word, as in the salve with which you dress a wound.

A people longing for a savior placed their faith in the fragile hands of human logic and military strength, which have always let us down. They have always fallen short of the glory of God.

Shane Claiborne is a Red Letter Christian and a founding partner of The Simple Way community, a radical faith community that lives among and serves the homeless in the Kensington neighborhood of Philadelphia. He is the co-author, with Chris Haw, of Jesus for President. His newest book is Executing Grace: Why It is Time to Put the Death Penalty to Death.

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Pentecostals & Charismatics for Peace & Justice is a multicultural, gender inclusive, and ecumenical organization that promotes peace, justice, and reconciliation work among Pentecostal and Charismatic Christians around the world. If you like what we do, please become a member!

Politicians Conflating the Kingdom of God with America

Tiffany Trump said at the 2020 Republican National Convention:

“God has blessed us with unstoppable spirit. His spirit, the American spirit. My dad has proven to be driven by that spirit.”

Vice President Mike Pence paraphrased Hebrews 12:1-2 but replaced ”Jesus” with the American flag and Christians with Americans:

“So let’s run the race marked out for us. Let’s fix our eyes on Old Glory and all she represents. Let’s fix our eyes on this land of heroes and let their courage inspire.”

Just one year ago, President Trump called himself “The Chosen One”, and thanked someone for ”the very nice words” of calling him the “king of Israel” and like ”the second coming of God”.

If this isn’t blasphemy… what is it?

I’m reminded of Shane Claiborne writing in his excellent book ”The Irresistible Revolution” about when some kids insisted that he should play Jesus in a church play when he did missionary work in a Latin American country.

”Why don’t any of you play Jesus?” he asked.

”You must do it!” the children said, ”because you’re white and come from America!”

Continue reading Politicians Conflating the Kingdom of God with America

PCPJ Year in Review

Happy new year! 2018 has been an exciting year for PCPJ. The organization has been expanding globally and we have reached a wide audience through for example The Christian Post and Sojourners. Here are some highlights from the past twelve months:

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The Trump Letter. Amos Yong, Craig Keener and Brian Zahnd were among the signatories of our open letter to President Donald Trump, urging him to stop using war rhetoric, welcome immigrants and take climate change seriously. While the president doesn’t seem to have changed course, the letter still received much attention and showed the world that many Pentecostal and charismatic leaders take peace and justice seriously.

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PCPJ Leader’s Seminar in Stockholm, Sweden. In February, PCPJ organized a leader’s seminar together with PMU, the Swedish Pentecostal Mission’s development cooperation organization. We talked about the future of PCPJ, how Swedish churches and organizations can connect and what Pentecostal and charismatic leaders need as they promote peace and justice.

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Shane Claiborne Interview. In an exclusive interview with PCPJ, activist theologian PCPJ Leader’s Seminar in Stockholm, Sweden, February, Shane Claiborne talked about his charismatic faith and his interactions with Bethel Church pastor Bill Johnson. “I’m a huge believer in miracles,” Claiborne said. “I often refer to the fish and loaves miracle that Jesus does as a conspiracy between us and God working together. I think it was both a miracle and the attentiveness of the disciples, to notice that people were hungry. I think one of the beautiful things is that God refuses to change the world without us. He wants us to be a part of this.”

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Jesse Duplantis’ Jet Dream. One of the most well-read articles this year was Kevin Daugherty’s critique of prosperity preacher Jesse Duplantis and his conviction that God wanted his church to raise him tens of millions of dollars for a jet plane. Challenging prosperity theology is one of PCPJ’s primary aims, replacing it with a theology of simplicity and equality. “Material prosperity is not a blessing for a disciple of Christ. Rather it is a temptation. As the Apostle Paul says, it is the root of all evil. It is something that rots us from the inside out and makes us less loving towards our neighbor”, Daugherty wrote.

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Denis Mukwege Received the Nobel Prize. At PCPJ, we have highlighted the committed, Pentecostal faith of Denis Mukwege from the day it was announced that he would receive the Nobel Peace Prize together with Nadia Murad. We interviewed his friend Maria Bard and covered the link between the electronics industry and the conflict in Congo that Mukwege himself often talks about. Our editor Micael Grenholm was present at a celebration organized by the Swedish Pentecostal movement in Stockholm, from which he reported that Mukwege has a fascinating gift of prophetic foresight that has helped him help women at the Panzi hospital for years.

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Rev. Dr. Elιzaвeтн Ríoѕ
Dr. Liz Ríos

The Trump Tragedy. Another well-read article was Liz Ríos reflections on what many evangelicals of color see that white evangelicals don’t. “So here’s the thing, for white evangelicals, their interpretation of scripture on the issues mentioned is what has them standing by Trump no matter what he does (although we cannot forget their hypocrisy because if this was Obama, his head would have been on a plate already). And for evangelicals of color, it’s the same thing. Their interpretation of scripture on the immigrant, the poor via policies and rhetoric concerning DACA, the border wall and such is what has them standing against Trump.”

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Micael Grenholm

Five Weird Ways People Deny That Jesus Was a Refugee. Finally, Grenholm’s article defending the notion that Jesus was a refugee went viral, reaching thousands of readers around the world. Grenholm writes: “The million-dollar question is obviously why people try to deny that our Lord and Savior was a refugee? What’s so uncomfortable with a historical fact? I think we all know the answer to that: they don’t want their countries to receive refugees today, and so they fear the idea that God might think otherwise.”

Behind the scenes, the PCPJ team of contributors and administrators has expanded and the number of members are steadily growing. We’re looking forward to an exciting new year with many more opportunities to promote Spirit-filled peace and justice!

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ska%cc%88rmavbild-2017-01-06-kl-21-17-02Pentecostals & Charismatics for Peace & Justice is a multicultural, gender inclusive, and ecumenical organization that promotes peace, justice, and reconciliation work among Pentecostal and Charismatic Christians around the world. If you like what we do, please become a member!

Shane Claiborne: Put the “Christ” Back in “Christians”!

A few weeks ago, activist theologian Shane Claiborne held an amazing Christmas sermon at Woodland Hills Church. Here are some highlights:

Shane shares a testimony of a pastor whom God told to get rid of all Christmas decorations in the church and fill it with hay and manure. As a result, the Holy Spirit fell and they had an amazing encounter with the Lord. Shane also points out how radical the original Christmas was, and why it’s time to put the “Christ” back in “Christians”.

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Shane went on speaking about his fight against Philadelphia’s anti-homelessness laws: “How can we worship a homeless man on Sunday and ignore one on Monday?” He also shows why you don’t mess with Pentecostals.

Watch the whole sermon here.

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ska%cc%88rmavbild-2017-01-06-kl-21-17-02Pentecostals & Charismatics for Peace & Justice is a multicultural, gender inclusive, and ecumenical organization that promotes peace, justice, and reconciliation work among Pentecostal and Charismatic Christians around the world. If you like what we do, please become a member!

Shane Claiborne on His “Charismatic DNA” and When He Ministered With Bill Johnson

Shane Claiborne’s Red Letter Revival in Lynchburg, Virginia, was a success. Not only did it gather 300 people celebrating Jesus and justice, but it also caught a lot of media attention thanks to Jerry Falwell Jr’s Liberty University.

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The letter sent to Shane Claiborne (click to enlarge)

Shane had asked Falwell Jr., who is a passionate Trump supporter, if he could come and pray at the University. Rather than receiving a respectful “no”, he was sent a letter from the Liberty University Police Department telling him that he would be put in jail and/or fined 2,500 dollars if he just showed up at the University grounds. The threat was similar to the one Pentecostal speaker and author Jonathan Martin received in November when he tried to organize a prayer there.

It’s ironic, to say the least, that a Christian University will arrest and prosecute those who pray – I’m telling you, pray – at their campus. It’s also ironic that Falwell Jr. killed the campus newspaper story about the Claiborne incident while claiming that free speech is a core value of his school.

If you haven’t already, you should check out the comments Claiborne made on Trump and American idolatry in an interview with us. In this post, I want to share some of the other things he said in that interview regarding miracles, revival, and Bethel Church pastor Bill Johnson.

I asked him if he thinks that it’s possible that God can help us in our social justice campaigning by doing miracles? Continue reading Shane Claiborne on His “Charismatic DNA” and When He Ministered With Bill Johnson

Shane Claiborne: Trump is the Result of American Idolatry

This weekend, activist theologian Shane Claiborne and his friends at Red Letter Christians will arrange a Red Letter Revival in Lynchburg, Virginia. That’s right, the town where Liberty University, the world’s biggest Christian university whose president Jerry Falwell Jr. is a passionate Trump supporter.

The Revival will be themed “Jesus and Justice” and include sermons, worship and workshops on how to fight Trumpism by going back to the Sermon on the Mount. I got the chance to speak with Shane Claiborne on this historic event.

– The reason we do the Lynchburg Revival is that Christianity and Republicanism have been fused together, Shane Claiborne says. They have become almost indistinguishable from each other. When you have the First Baptist Church in Dallas singing ”Make America Great Again” as if it was a hymn in worship, when the American flag is bigger than the cross, what happens is that you begin to see a discrepancy between the values of America and the values inherent to the Gospel. Continue reading Shane Claiborne: Trump is the Result of American Idolatry

The Problem with Patriotism

I have a challenge for my American readers this day. Before you wave the banner of your empire and enjoy billions of dollars being blown up in fireworks, pray that God will help you love all people, including all those harmed by American consumerism, militarism and racism, and that He will help you pledge allegiance to His Kingdom first and foremost.

After all, Scripture says that we are foreigners and strangers on earth (Hebr 11:13) and that we are citizens in Heaven (Phil 3:20). We are called to love all people as ourselves (Lk 10:25-37) and while the early Christians didn’t revolt against the Roman empire, they were known for pledging allegiance to another king than the emperor, namely Christ (Acts 17:7). I think Shane Claiborne nails it in his altar call on Red Letter Christians about celebrating interdependence day rather than independence day:

Dr. Martin Luther King spoke of us all being bound up in an “inescapable web of mutuality.” He talked of how we have encountered half the world by the time we have put on our clothes, brushed our teeth, drunk our coffee and eaten our breakfast, as there are invisible faces that make our lives possible every day. That’s why I’ve always struggled with “Independence Day.”

Continue reading The Problem with Patriotism