By Christian Research Network correspondent Erin Benziger of Do Not Be Surprised…
This is a repost of an original article on Do Not Be Surprised…

If an Emergent, a liberal theologian and an evangelical are all speaking at the same conference, addressing the same issue, seeking to arrive at a unified conclusion, can they be successful? What if “the heart of the conference, and the driving force behind the plenary sessions, is to speak to the broad idea of God’s heart for justice (Online Source)?”

What if the Emergent is Shane Claiborne, the liberal theologian is Miroslav Volf, the evangelical is Francis Chan, and the conference is the Justice Conference, occurring now in Portland, Oregon? And what if the evidence indicates that these men, as well as many of the other speakers, do not actually share the same God?

In an article entitled “On Evangelicals and Interfaith Cooperation,” Shane Claiborne notes:

When a devout Muslim brother asked Tony and I to have this cross-generational dialogue about interreligious cooperation for an interfaith publication, we jumped on it. (Online source, emphasis added.)

As Ken Silva rightly questions in his article, “Is Shane Claiborne a Christian-Muslim?”

If Shane Claiborne has a devout Muslim “brother,” does this now make Claiborne himself a Christian-Muslim? I mean, apparently he’s in the process of approaching this in the opposite direction from those alleged hybrid Muslim-Christians, who’re practicing Muslims that supposedly “love  Jesus.” So could it be that, in Shane Claiborne, we’re witnessing a new breed hybrid of Christian-Muslims practicing Christianity but who also love Muhmmad? (Online Source)

This seems to be a fair question. In the aforementioned article, “On Evangelicals and Interfaith Cooperation,” Claiborne (SC) interviewed Tony Campolo (TC) regarding this topic. About midway through the article, an interesting exchange occurs:

SC: Both Muslims and Christians are very evangelical in the sense of desiring others to come to faith in their God. When we talk about inter-religious cooperation, does that mean that we need to stop trying to convert each other?

TC: We don’t have to give up trying to convert each other. What we have to do is show respect to one another. And to speak to each other with a sense that even if people don’t convert, they are God’s people, God loves them, and we do not make the judgment of who is going to heaven and who is going to hell.

I think that what we all have to do is leave judgment up to God. The Muslim community is very evangelistic, however what Muslims will not do is condemn Jews and Christians to Hell if in fact they do not accept Islam.

SC: That seems like a healthy distinction—between converting and condemning. One of the barriers seems to be the assumption that we have the truth and folks who experience things differently will all go to Hell. (Online Source)

Well, if “the assumption that we [Christians] have the truth and folks who experience things differently will all go to Hell” is a barrier, then men like Jesus, Paul and the other apostles must have had their message all wrong. See, it isn’t an issue of “experiencing” things differently. No, it is an issue of truth. This truth is found in Scripture, the very Word of God. Yet, from the conversation above, it doesn’t seem as though Shane Claiborne accepts this truth as final. This, then, would easily explain his embracing of a Muslim as a “brother” and does indeed leave one asking, “is Shane Claiborne a Christian-Muslim?”

Also embracing this Chrislamic movement is theologian Miroslav Volf, who has stated that, “Christians and Muslims, notwithstanding their important and ineradible differences, have a common and similarly understood God” (Miroslav Volf, Allah: A Christian Response [New York: HarperOne, 2011] , 262).

At the blog, My Sheep Hear My Voice, it is noted that Volf,

is one of the key architects of the “Loving God And Neighbor Together: A Christian Response To A Common Word Between Us And You”document (an ecumenical document that claims that Muslims and Christians have the same God) – from “A Common Word”
“Indeed, together with you we believe that we need to move beyond “a polite ecumenical dialogue between selected religious leaders” and work diligently together to reshape relations between our communities and our nations so that they genuinely reflect our common love for God and for one another.”
So, is there now a “common love” for the God of the Bible and the god of Muslims or other religions? Do we all serve the same God? According to Mr. Volf Muslims and Christians do serve a “Common God”
“The Jews worship God without acknowledging God’s Trinitarian nature; Christians worship God while acknowledging God’s Trinitarian nature. Both cannot be right about God’s Trinitarian nature, but both can worship the same God. The same holds true of Muslims.”

It is indeed a bit befuddling to wonder how one could even begin to equate the God of the Bible with Allah of the Koran. But here again is another example of the subtle and silent compromise that is happening within Christianity.

Here we have looked briefly at just two of these speakers for the Justice Conference. Two men who claim some type of Christianity, yet it is a Christianity that is foreign to the historic faith. This leads to the obvious question: what would Francis Chan, a supposedly conservative evangelical, be doing at this same conference?

To be fair, the Justice Conference does seek to answer any questions regarding its religious foundation:

Is the conference a Christian Conference? 

While the organizing organizations and many of the conference team are Christians, the conference seeks to be a blend of about 70% faith based and 30% non-faith based in speakers and organizations represented. (Online Source).

Based upon this, one cannot necessarily decry the presence of one individual over another. Yet, do not forget the stated intent and purpose of this gathering:

The heart of the conference, and the driving force behind the plenary sessions, is to speak to the broad idea of God’s heart for justice. (Online Source)

And ponder for a moment the following promotional video for the Justice Conference:

“The vision is revealed by the light, there like a gift God speaks our calling to create. The same Voice that calls us to make calls us to come.” “We stand as one and give thanks because we believe the same God that called us to create and come together is the one(emphasis added) who raises justice from the ground.”

If only 70% of the speakers are “faith based,” and even those individuals differ widely in their profession of the Christian faith, then how can this event ever hope to speak to the “broad idea of God’s heart for justice?” How can this conference ever hope to address “God’s heart for justice” if those engaging in the conversations are ultimately not seeking after the same God?

Like all ecumenical events and movements, one question looms large over whatever purpose hopes to be achieved: which god?

The Justice Conference: Another Ecumenical Emergent Event?

The original appears complete with a comments section for you to join the discussion right here.

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