Friday, April 25, 2008

Shane Claiborne: Comfort becomes Uncomfortable

In Chapter 4 of The Irresistible Revolution, Shane returns from India to work and study at Wheaton and Willow Creek Church. He experiences culture shock as he makes an abrupt transition from lepers and the dying to wealthy white Americans. In this chapter, he "longs" for more contact between the rich and the poor, and for each to see the face of Christ in the other. He believes more interaction between rich and poor will end poverty.

Certainly many groups, such as the Church of the Savior, have organized, in part, around putting rich and poor together. Claiborne yearns for the peaceable kingdom, a yearning that permeates the Bible.

One "comfort" he discusses is Willow Creek's refusal to hang crosses because crosses are not "seeker sensitive" or comfortable to people who may have been wounded by earlier church experiences.

He writes: "I fear that when we remove the cross, we remove the central symbol of the nonviolence and grace of our Lover. If we remove the cross, we are in danger of promoting a very cheap grace. Perhaps it should make us uncomfortable." In light of the Quakers' shedding of earthly symbols, what do you think of Claiborne's comments?

1 comment:

Bill Samuel said...

Well, early Quakers did talk about the cross, although they eschewed physical symbols. It was important in their understanding.

Friends, the cross is the power of God. When you flee the cross, you lose the power...though the Cross seems foolish, stand in it...though it be a stumbling block to the wise, stand in it. And this is not to be exercised in only for a time, as at your first convincement; but daily, even to the death. - Priscilla Cotton, a Friends' minister, 1664

I don't share early Quakers' antipathy to physical symbols, so the cross seems an appropriate symbol to me for a place of worship. But the important thing is whether the reality of the cross is conveyed to seekers. If the physical symbol is going to keep them outside, it makes sense not to have it. But they should be introduced to the significance of the crucifixion and resurrection as they are ready.