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Cedarville University, a Baptist school in southwest Ohio, decided on January 30 to cancel a lecture from Christian social activist Shane Claiborne originally slated for tonight (Feb. 11) in the school's Dixon Ministry Center, after a small but vocal number of bloggers saw the lecture as a step toward liberal theology.

After Cedarville's public relations office announced on January 22 that Cedarville would be hosting "An Evening with Shane Claiborne," some blogs decried the decision to invite someone they labeled as belonging to the Emergent community. Links to the blogs were then e-mailed to alumni and pastors, some of whom called Cedarville administrators to complain.

Carl Ruby, Cedarville's vice president for student life, told CT that although there was "a high degree of receptivity on campus" to the Claiborne lecture, he decided to cancel the lecture to avoid risking conveying the wrong message about Cedarville's doctrinal beliefs.

"There was a tension between my desire to use this event to challenge students to take a closer look at a very important social issue, and the need to protect Cedarville's reputation as a conservative, Christ-centered university," said Ruby. "There can't be any confusion about our commitment to God's Word and our historically conservative doctrinal position.

"Nearly all of the opposition to Claiborne's visit came from off campus," he said. "The reaction from both faculty and students has been along the lines of, 'We are a university … We need to be having these kinds of conversations on campus if we are going to adequately equip the next generation of Christian leaders.' "

The Claiborne lecture was only one episode in the ongoing story of Cedarville's efforts to pinpoint its doctrinal commitments ...

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February 2008

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