Wednesday, February 20, 2008 and Cedarville University

Scot McKnight's blog,, had an article about Cedarville University yesterday (with a follow-up today). I guess Cedarville invited Shane Claiborne to come speak at the school, but when some watchdog blogs disapproved of the invitation, it was revoked. McKnight's blog had an interesting discussion about academic freedom in evangelical universities, and whether or not Cedarville did the right thing when they pulled the plug on Claiborne. (I have heard that they have since re-invited him to come speak at a later date.)

I wasn't surprised at the move at all. Cedarville has historically been a very conservative school. I don't know much about Shane Claiborne, but from what I gather about his theology, he doesn't fit the Cedarville mold. (That's okay, I'm all for diversity of opinion.) Cedarville, being a private school, relies heavily on financial support from alumni and other conservative groups. If their financial support is against one of their decisions, it makes good business sense to change the decision. I don't have a problem with that.

I do, however, think it's sad that Cedarville'c onservative support is afraid of Claiborne speaking at the school. It's not like they were going to make him chair of the Bible department. Further, I think it's sad that "watchdog" blogs exist to call people out for being "heretics." On what authority do they make these claims? It's a pretty bold move to call someone a heretic, and it presupposes a lot of spiritual authority on the one making the proclamation. Does anyone today in America have such authority? Even real heretics like Arius were condemned by councils of churches representing all of christendom, not by individuals on their blogs.

I'm glad Cedarville re-invited Claiborne, and I hope he says something controversial that gets the campus talking. I'm all for theological dialogue.


David said...

You make a very interesting point about authority. I hope you continue to think about the implications of what you said. On what authority did the Church Fathers speak. On what authority did the Council of Constantinople, Ephesis, Chalcedon, etc. speak. For a couple of hundred years they hammered out the details of our Trinitarian theology so many take for granted today. They authoritatively declaired the canonicity of Hebrews, II Peter, etc. I appreciate your honost questioning about authority.
God bless,

Matt said...

Thanks for the thoughts, David. I noticed from your blog that you are coming from a Roman Catholic perspective. You guys certainly have it easier when it comes to answering these kinds of questions.

One of the biggest problems I have with being a Protestant is that ultimate authority on matters of faith comes down to an individual's interpretation of Scripture. That's a little too existentialist for my liking. But, I am what I am.

David said...

Again, you have amazed me. You have clearly articulated a serious problem with your own belief system. Most people are afraid to make such statements. It shows that you are a genuine seeker of the truth.

It is an even bigger problem when you consider the biblical evidence, "Know this first of all, that there is no prophecy of scripture that is a matter of personal interpretation" from II Peter.

Also, in light of I Tim. 3:15 that states the Church is the pillar and foundation of the truth, it makes it even harder to hold to the Bible alone system, rather the "my personal interpretation of the Bible alone system".

I agree with you about it being existential if you mean too subjective and relativistic. Truth is objective. It sets us free and makes us one.

In Christ it is not "I am what I am", it is in Christ I can be what I am meant to be and will be. Does that make sense? I do understand that you were not trying to make an indepth philosophical and theological statement at the end of your post :O)

Keep pressing on! (Phil. 3:13-14)