G.W. on the Clarence Jordan Symposium

Bethel professor emeritus of History and Political Science G.W. Carlson was one of the speakers at the Clarence Jordan Symposium, held this past fall in Americus, Georgia (home to Koinonia Farm and Habitat for Humanity, both part of Jordan’s substantial legacy). This morning he published some reflections on his experience, including the role of theatre at the symposium and how Jordan was connected to two of the event’s headliners: former president Jimmy Carter and civil rights leader Vincent Harding.

Here’s a sample of GW’s post, outlining other talks (including his own):

Joyce Hollyday gave a wonderful outline of the major aspects of Jordan’s life and testimony. Shane Claiborne shared his interest in Jordan’s communitarian gospel, and Jonathan Wilson-Hartgrove compared Jordan’s work with the development of a “new monasticism.” Charles Marsh suggested ways in which one could understand Jordan’s “radical ordinariness.” And Nora Tisdale suggested the core themes emerging from a personal reading of the Cotton Patch Gospel. The addresses of the Symposium will eventually be published in a book.

My own paper was entitled “Celebrating the Radical Baptist Heritage of Clarence Jordan,” in which I tried to argue that the Koinonia Experiment, the writing of the Cotton Patch Gospels, and Jordan’s engagement with the larger Christian community were designed to call his fellow Baptists (particularly in the South) back to their heritage. These themes included a strong commitment to the transformational view of evangelism, a communitarian understanding of the church, a belief in the idea of “radical discipleship,” a need to proclaim the presence of the Kingdom of God on earth as it is heaven, and a proclamation of peacemaking norms of Christ as found in the Sermon on the Mount. I traced the origins of each of these themes from Jordan’s understanding of both a radical Baptist and Anabaptist tradition.

Click here for the full post.

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