Few people know that in my personal history, I almost transferred to Cedarville halfway through my undergraduate career. I was accepted. Credits transferred. Campus visited. But at the last minute, I did not. Maybe one day that story will be told (it's a good one). My cousin did atttend and graduate from Cedarville. She enjoyed it.
But my reason to not attend Cedarville wasn't because it was too conservative. It would have been a breath of fresh air compared to where I was coming from.
In Today's Christianity Today, they posted "Braking for Bloggers," telling of bloggers, outside the university, who raised such a ruckus that the administration canceled Shane Claiborne's lectures on his mission and social work.
The accusation against him: He's Emergent.
Yet he doesn't identify himself as Emergent.
There are several factors at play here. One, Cedarville is a conservative university... leaning heavily toward the fundamentalist spectrum. It is where Bob Jones University student would consider transferring to find freedom but without being called a 'liberal compromiser' (a pejorative term from early 20th century brand of Christian fundamentalism).
Two, anyone who is trying to live the good news of Jesus that has a different texture to mission than Christian fundamentalism will be suspect. There's little way around it. If you don't use the typical accepted vocabulary, then expect suspicion. I've been at the brunt of it myself with no good Biblical reason, but that I just don't fit the sub-culture.
Three, with the new research and re-examining of the faith through the lens of Scripture and history, anyone who doesn't tow the conservative, evangelical party-line will be considered 'Emergent' (which is another pejorative word for those who still call themselves evangelical but don't tow the party line). It is unfortunate that using the word 'emergent' is the only option, but that's the term many use for lack of a clearer, more nuanced one (since we have to call names and categorize people, right? Right?). It would be like saying anyone who doesn't live on American soil isn't American. So an American citizen studying in Japan would fall under this label. The label is false and hurtful.
I haven't read Claiborne, but I have read about his mission. And I have sympathies with Claiborne as I don't call myself 'Emergent' either, though I've been accused of it from time to time (I even give lectures on nuancing the idea and what's going on in the church these days... the difference between being historical and postmodern, between being Emergent and emergent, between strong foundationalism, moderate foundationalism, coherentism and skepticism, etc.).
I'm trying to follow Jesus the best I can, with the resources I can. And I'm discouraged that so many, who identify themselves "Christian," will use loaded words like "unorthodox!" when something smells remotely unusual to them.
Here's a clear example: Try telling a Baptist that 'church membership is not a biblical idea.' Report back. You may be called someone 'causing dissension in the Body.' You may be called 'uncommitted to the cause of Jesus.' You may be called 'in rebellion to your church leaders.' You may even be called 'unorthodox'.
Yet anyone would be very hard-pressed to find church membership in the Scriptures. I've read articles where the author has prior commitments to church membership and so makes assumptions of the text. But reading the Bible as a first-century Jew, you will not find one mention or even a hint that there was some sort of formal agreement, signing on the dotted line, telling people this was required to be 'inside' the real church.
In addition, even if you did find a hint, it wouldn't be ranked up there with Orthodoxy. You don't find it in the Creeds. At best its a tertiary teaching. My personal view is that we only get it through eisegesis, yet it has become a sacred doctrine of many conservative churches. Are will we willing to exclude, call names, cancel dialogs because of it?
So let's use the term 'orthodoxy' for the true cases of orthodoxy. Some could even say the early Creeds themselves (by which we measure Orthodoxy) aren't orthodox... as there is no mention that Jesus is Jewish and born of a Jew or King of the Jews. We only get the mention that he was God and born of a virgin. Yet without his Jewishness, he can't be Messiah and there is no 'church.'
So let's be careful with our name calling.
One last point that I think motivates the whole enterprise: I think Cedarville is concerned about its constituency, reputation, and financial backing. Instead of stepping into wider vistas of understanding God's work in the world, it is stuck looking over its shoulder at who is following. And I think that shut Claiborne out. If the University is to bow to unwarranted concerns of those on the outside afraid of the dialog of ideas (do those outsiders decry that Darwin's books are in the library?), then why even have a University? We can see how education can quickly go from a center of knowledge into a center for propaganda, massaging our own unchallenged assumptions. Of course, this erodes faith as well and we wonder why our children grow less interested in church... maybe because truth, knowledge, understanding, love, and life are being choked.
This is why many Christians, like Clairborne, are speaking out to make a difference. Lest we forget, "The fear of the LORD is the beginning of wisdom"... not our 'old time religion.'