If You are Interested in Urban Ministry and the Poor…

27 Mar

and Theology, I recommend who heartedly this post from my friend Joel, who even though he is GARBC still manages to love both Jesus and people who are not white. The post is a critique of Shane Claiborne and it is well done.


11 Responses to “If You are Interested in Urban Ministry and the Poor…”

  1. Seth McBee March 27, 2008 at 10:49 pm #

    :::so it starts:::


  2. poopemerges March 27, 2008 at 10:55 pm #

    I mean it in a nice way πŸ™‚ You should check this guy out though…he knows his stuff!

  3. John McIntosh March 28, 2008 at 9:15 am #

    The post sort of misses the point: voices such as Mother Teresa and Shane Claiborne don’t claim the poor are closer to Jesus. The 1980’s documentary “Mother Teresa”, which the article refers to a clip of, addresses that directly.
    Thanks for being a catalyst to this important dialog.

  4. Joel Shaffer March 28, 2008 at 10:51 am #


    Thanks for reading the post and for participating in this dialog (and for your critique). I confess that I did not see the Mother Teresa documentary (but I will have to check it out soon). I was quoting her from other times she has mentioned this.

    Just to clarify a few things, I will be posting more about Shane and the sacramental theology of the poor so this is not my only point that I am trying to make. I’ve been posting about his beliefs in small segments so that people don’t get all ADD on me.

    In fact, I wasn’t even trying to make the point that Mama T and Shane were somehow advocating that the poor were closer to Jesus. In this segment I tried to demonstrate that we have to make the distinction (when talking about the incarnation) between God’s perfect image (Jesus) and humanity’s broken image because of sin. The Sacramental view does not do that (at least in all of Shane and Tony’s writings). I am questioning the Sacramentalist view of sin when encountering the poor. Its seems to be all about the mystery that takes place when you encounter Jesus in the poor. Consequently, it neuters the gospel (Why should we call the poor to repentance when they are actually Jesus in disguise)? The good news that Jesus preached to the poor and oppressed was one of repentance (I just gave away a little of what I will be posting at a later time).

    As much as I have spent 18 or so years of my life committed to justice for the poor and the oppressed in my neighborhood, I also want to make sure that I am faithful to the gospel which is why I am questioning the sacramental theology. If Tony Campolo wants to see a sacramental theology of the poor develop among evangelicals, addressing these serious questions might be a start. Sorry I rambled a bit….

  5. Joel Shaffer March 28, 2008 at 1:39 pm #

    By the way, my relationship with the GARBC is sort of like a relationship with an odd relative. Despite all the quirky things they say and do, you still love them because they’re family….

  6. poopemerges March 28, 2008 at 1:57 pm #

    Joel: Seth up there at the top is one of your GARBC brethren from Seattle.

  7. Brianmpei March 28, 2008 at 3:34 pm #

    I’ve read Campolo and Clairborne and I don’t remember either one of them saying the poor don’t need Jesus since they mystically (are there two ‘ls’ in that) ARE Jesus. I’m a little amused here ‘poop’ that you take Eldredge and Bell to task for re-spinning what the Scripture says and then here seem to support the notion that what Jesus said in Matthew 25 isn’t really what Jesus meant.

    Joel tells stories and wants to interpret what Jesus meant on the basis of those experiences. If that was RB you’d be burning him in literary effigy. I’m also guessing that if he could get a gun with a laser sight and was actually selling drugs he’s probably less poor than most of us.

  8. poopemerges March 28, 2008 at 4:24 pm #

    Brian: Read it again. Jeol does nt at all say that Campolo and Claibore do not need Jesus his view is more nuanced than that. The issue is not really even how the poor need Jesus but our motivation for serving them and how that related to the presence of God in them. Campolo and Claiborne have in Joel’s opinion a view of the poor that rivals the Catholic view of the Eucharist: I.E. they believe it is the real presence of God. Joel does not really discuss what “the least of these” means for the poor themselves but rather what it means for us who would serve them.

    Also: Elderidge is a pyscho who does not himself take even attempt to take scripture seriously or to wrestle with it. This is not at all what Joel has done. Joel thoughtfully deals with what Jesus said and the implications of what that means.

    Your must take the core of his argument more seriously than you have.

  9. poopemerges March 28, 2008 at 4:27 pm #

    Secondly Brian: I am just going to assume that you have no experience with urban ministry as your last comment about the dealer and money is just stup-tarded.

    You should know what you are talking aobut. Joel is one of the most respected urban ministers in our city and he has done it for many years. You may attack the view…but remember being whiny does not prove your point, especially when you are clueless.

  10. Brianmpei March 29, 2008 at 12:00 pm #

    Poop: In my comment I was picking up on Joel’s comment “(Why should we call the poor to repentance when they are actually Jesus in disguise)”. Not in the original article. Jesus seemed to have the idea that it was the real presence of Jesus as well (Matt. 25)”…you’ve done it unto me.”

    I think this is a very serious point indeed.

    We’ve all been created in the image of God and the way we treat each other, regenerate and not yet, says a great deal about what we think of the Maker.

    I will agree that my city is hardly urban but we’re as urban as we get here. I feed people weekly, meet with the mentally ill daily, love the social outcasts with cash, hands and heart several times each week and a solid third of our church are on social assistance. But no, I don’t have a lot of gun pointing thugs here. Mostly I have drunks who just threaten to be the crap out of me. So I guess Joel knows better than me Poop, thanks for clearing that up.

    And yes, the guy who threatens to do that to me occassionally and the young guy who threatened to break my sons knee caps with a crow bar, we see the original image in them too. If God values them enough to die for them, if he sees enough of himself in them worth redeeming, I can too.

  11. poopemerges April 2, 2008 at 4:10 pm #

    Brian: I am going to do something I rarely do: admit I was to harsh above. I am sorry, I was just taking up for a friend.

    A few on urban poverty though:

    1. Illegal guns in the hood are not usually a sign of money.

    2. Most drug dealers in the hood are also users and only those at the top of the ladder actually make money

    3. People in poverty don’t always make wise choices with the money they do have

    Now a general point: You are confusing Joel’s theological point with a practical application. Joel is as I have said one of the most effective and loving urban ministers in our area, he does indeed love the “least of these”


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