Mennonite Brethren Still Spreading Stillness

As more and more evangelical leaders are compromising and crossing the ecumenical bridge toward Rome[1], quietly joining them are the Mennonite Brethren. They are not blatantly announcing it, but just revealing the direction they have been taking more subtly for some time now. It began silently, and still continues to spread through contemplative spiritual formation being taught in their seminaries and churches.

A recent example of this can be found on the Mennonite Brethren Biblical Seminary website (www.mbseminary.ca) where viewers can watch a faculty testimony video and read a news article commending the Assistant Professor of Ministry Studies for Mennonite Brethren Biblical Seminary Canada and Canadian Mennonite University (Winnipeg). . .

SEMINARY PROFESSOR RECOGNIZED BY EVANGELICAL PRESS ASSOCIATION
May 21, 2014
The Evangelical Press Association recently awarded Professor Andrew Dyck a 3rd place award for his article, “Sowing Seeds or tossing nutshells?” published in the October 2013 issue of MB Herald. The “Higher Goals” competition honors individual aspects of a publication, such as reporting, column writing and design. Professor Dyck received this honor in the Evangelism category. To read the article online, go to… http://mbherald.com/sowing-seeds-or-tossing-nutshells/.
Source: http://www.mbseminary.ca/%5B2%5D

The sincerity and qualifications of this seminary professor are not the issue. The disturbing trend that is becoming more apparent is that the Mennonite Brethren have become more comfortable with their acceptance of contemplative spirituality and those who teach it.

Last September in St. Catharines, the Ontario Conference of Mennonite Brethren churches promoted a contemplative workshop (led by this same professor). . .

Day in the Word
Being with God in Stillness and Scripture
September 21

Evangelicals have often emphasized having a personal “Quiet Time.” 
This has meant setting aside time regularly for reading the Bible, reflecting and praying—often accompanied by some form of journaling. Believers have sought to nurture their personal relationship with Christ by doing these activities every day.
Over time, however, Bible reading can be reduced to rote reading, intellectual study, or a springboard for one’s own musings—without listening for God’s communication. Similarly, Quiet Time can become so filled with activity that there is no quietness in which to pay attention to the Spirit’s still small voice. Believers are left wondering whether Jesus’ followers can hear God’s voice, or even whether God still communicates to people.
If this is your experience, your participation in this one-day workshop can help to open your heart and set you on a path to hearing God’s voice and refreshing your relationship with him.
Two experienced pastors will lead participants into fresh and time-tested ways of having a conversational relationship with Jesus:
- by addressing this topic in the light of scripture and experience; 
- by guiding the group into two spiritual practices that open the possibility of encountering God as personal and communicating. 
These practices are stillness, and “sacred reading” of Scripture (i.e. lectio divina).

Seminary Credit
If you’d like to take this worshop as a seminary credit please contact Andrew Dyck at adyck@cmu.ca for a syllabus with a reading list and assignments.

About the Workshop
This one-day workshop provides an ideal learning environment and time context for those with busy schedules. The material is presented in a clear and concise manner that is suited to persons of any age, to newcomers as well as seasoned Christians and mature students of the Word.
By means of gifted teachers and leaders and with the use of numerous visual aids, you will be amazed at the truths you will come to understand as we methodically walk through the spiritual disciplines of stillness and lectio divina.
You will enjoy learning in a comfortable, relaxed setting, and have the opportunity to fellowship with others during breaks and over lunch.
Come and discover the treasures of Christ for yourself.

http://events.r20.constantcontact.com/register/event?oeidk=a07e82odozp134c7152&llr=bwatvmcab

This workshop on stillness and Lectio Divina was also offered last fall to students at Mennonite Biblical Seminary . . .

This fall, one of the courses offered by the Mennonite Brethren Biblical Seminary to equip future pastors and teachers and missionaries is listed on the CMU 2013-14 COURSE TIMETABLE:
BTS-5960M Being with God in Stillness and Scripture (1.0 credit hour) This course will draw on biblical, historical and experiential resources for developing a conversational relationship with Jesus Christ through the practices of stillness, and `sacred reading’ of Scripture (lectio divina). Students will complete several assignments after participating in a one-day workshop. (In 2013 this workshop will be offered in two Ontario locations.)
Instructor: Andrew Dyck
http://www.mbseminary.ca/cmu-courses

http://mennolite.wordpress.com/2013/08/23/stillness-and-lectio-divina-at-a-mennonite-biblical-seminary/

What are these practices of stillness and Lectio Divina? Briefly…

Stillness:

Different than finding a quiet place away from noise and distractions, the silence is referring to a stillness of the mind.

http://www.lighthousetrailsresearch.com/thesilence.htm

Lectio Divina:

While some people think lectio divina is just reading Scripture slowly, and what’s wrong with that, it is the focusing on and repeating a word or small phrase to facilitate going into the “silence” that is the real danger. There is certainly nothing wrong with reading Scripture carefully and thoughtfully. Thoughtfully, we say. In eastern-style meditation (and in contemplative prayer) thoughts are the enemy.

http://www.lighthousetrailsresearch.com/lectiodivina.htm

As controversial as these methods are, Mennonite Brethren Church of Manitoba (http://mbcm.ca/) has also condoned contemplative prayer as taught by this same professor. On their website, another article called Does praying include listening?[3] by Andrew Dyck explores listening prayer, stillness and silence. . .

“Several emphases in Scripture suggest that stillness and listening are indeed meant to accompany our praying. Psalm 131 (a favourite of mine, not least because it challenges my ambitions) addresses the LORD with these lines, “I have calmed and quieted myself / I am like a weaned child with its mother.” As I once heard the Rev. Mike Stewart of St. Matthew’s Anglican Church, Abbotsford comment: in our culture of ambition, noise and busyness, silence with God is one of the most important practices we can cultivate in our congregations.

… Praying—asking God—needs to be embedded in the silence of stilling our souls, of depending on God to be praying on our behalf to God, and of being alert and attentive to life.

I learned this some years ago, when I discovered that in spite of praying for many people in my pastoral role (e.g. beside hospital beds, during prayer meetings, leading worship services), I rarely felt moved to pray for people in my private prayers. When I told this to a wise spiritual director, he said, “Tell this to God, and just be quiet and wait. Pay attention, and see how Jesus invites you.” In the coming months, as I did this, I discovered occasions when I found myself deeply desiring God’s goodness for someone I knew. By becoming silent with God, I learned how to ask God.

I am convinced that silence needs to be an integral part of our praying—not only when we are alone, but also in our times of praying together. Communal prayer trains us in private prayer (that’s why we’ve been given the Psalms). Therefore, prayerful silence needs to be a normal part of our worship gatherings. And not  just 30 seconds of “let’s- pause-for-a-moment-of-silent-prayer,” but much longer intervals of stillness—even minutes long, or more!—since we can’t ‘still and quiet our souls’ in a mere 60 seconds.

When silence and listening become embedded in our practices of praying without ceasing, perhaps our lives will indeed become incense to God.”

Although Andrew Dyck does not specifically refer to Roman Catholic sources, he ends his article with the recommendation of a prayer website called Sacred Space. . .

A RESOURCE:

I recommend the website www.sacredspace.ie for incorporating silence with prayer. This daily prayer site is provided by Irish Jesuits, who emphasize that “when you pray you are not alone. You are part of a global community.” This prayer guide is organized around 6 simple steps: (a) become aware of God’s presence, (b) desire and acknowledge the freedom God gives us, (c) become conscious about oneself with God, (d) meditate on The Word of God, (e) have conversation with Jesus, and (f) conclude with God’s glory. When I use this guide leisurely, allowing for ample silence during and between each step, I have often  been refreshed, challenged, invited and renewed by God’s Spirit.

This guided prayer website belongs to the Jesuits, the order founded by Ignatius of Loyola that led the counter reformation. Their mission continues today in the new evangelization plan to bring the “separated brethren” back “home” to the church of Rome[4]. After the Jesuit recommendation at the end of Andrew Dyck’s article, a note from the MBCM says:

This blog is the second in a series of monthly posts that are offered to “equip, resource and inspire” the Mennonite Brethren Church of Manitoba in praying.

Apparently, MBCM must agree that Jesuit guided prayer is a good global link to Jesus. They also give their readers a link to Andrew Dyck’s blog, where in his recent post, Repetitive Prayer: Vain or Meaning-full?[5], he recommends Taize, The Jesus Prayer and a book called Take Our Moments and Our Days – An Anabaptist Prayer Book: Ordinary Time. Arthur Boers, an editor of this book, is an ordained Mennonite Church USA minister and a Benedictine oblate at St. Gregory’s Abbey. (Boers also wrote Day by Day These Things We Pray – Uncovering Ancient Rhythms of Prayer (Herald Press 2010), a revision of his earlier book called The Rhythm of God’s Grace: Uncovering Morning and Evening Hours of Prayer. It’s about monastic prayer disciplines (fixed hours of prayer, the daily office, etc.) which Boers first discovered in a book by a Jesuit priest that made him realize he had much to learn from other traditions.[6]

What will the students coming out of Mennonite Brethen Biblical Seminary, their churches, and their places of service look like in 10 years from now? Andrew Dyck’s spiritual direction began just over 10 years ago, when…

“Andrew Dyck of King Road MB Church in Abbotsford, B.C. was awarded a Study Grant for Pastoral Leaders given out by The Louisville Institute. He was one of only 40 pastors from across North America to receive the award in 2002, out of 236 applicants…
Dyck also joined nine other MBs to begin a two-year series of retreats and spiritual direction under the leadership of Steve Imbach, focusing on prayer, listening to God and discernment; this experience is intended to prepare them to give spiritual direction to others.”
-Mennonite Brethren Herald • Volume 41, No. 14 • August 2, 2002

MB pastor wins sabbatical award 

old.mbherald.com/41-14/profile.html?view=p

It was only a matter of time until this spiritual direction led by Steve Imbach would lead to more contemplative spirituality and eventually go mainstream in the Mennonite Brethren churches[7]. Imbach co-founded the contemplative SoulStream (soulstream.org) for those seeking a contemplative community through spiritual direction training, retreats and courses in the Vancouver, B.C. area. Soulstream draws heavily from the teachings of Thomas Merton[8], a trappist Monk. In 2004 a retreat for pastors in the BC MB Conference (Mennonite Brethren of British Columbia, Canada) took place at Silver Star Mountain Resort. This prayer retreat for pastors and their spouses, focusing on spiritual direction[9], was also led by Imbach of SoulStream.

What began with a little bit of stillness and spiritual direction has now spread, like yeast through an entire lump of dough. Only a decade after contemplative spirituality was introduced, it is now being taught at Mennonite Brethren Seminary[10] and is showing up in most Mennonite churches.

Considering that the meditation methods of monks are being so highly esteemed and taught in the Mennonite Brethren seminaries and conferences, wouldn’t it be safe to say that the Mennonite Brethren are no longer following the footsteps of their namesake, Menno Simons, who bravely left false teaching? Instead of standing on the Solid Rock, many who still call themselves Mennonites seem to be picking up speed on their slide down the slippery slope of silent contemplation and ecumenical compromise.

Were he here to today, what would Menno Simons blog about that?

Your glorying is not good. Know ye not that a little leaven leaveneth the whole lump?
1 Corinthians 5:6

________
Endnotes:

[1] See:
The Great Convergence and the End of the Age http://standupforthetruth.com/2014/06/great-convergence-end-age
TV Preachers [Copeland, Robison] Glowingly Describe Meeting with Pope to Tear Down ‘Walls of Division’ http://www.lighthousetrailsresearch.com/blog/?p=15760
CBN Building Bridges to Rome http://muddystreams.wordpress.com/2014/06/17/cbn-building-bridges-to-rome/
Is Beth Moore’s “Spiritual Awakening” Taking the Evangelical Church Toward Rome? http://www.lighthousetrailsresearch.com/blog/?p=1591
Evangelical Church Takes Another Big Step Toward Rome—This Time? Franklin Graham http://www.lighthousetrailsresearch.com/blog/?p=159664
[2] Also found here: http://www.mbseminary.ca/news-updates/seminary-professor-recognized-by-evangelical-press-association
[3] http://mbcm.ca/does-praying-include-listening/
[4] “. . .the Counter Reformation (tha) was founded to bring the “Separated Brethren” back to the “Mother of All Churches” . . . was largely headed by Ignatius Loyola, the man who founded the Jesuit Order in the mid 1500s and launched an all-out attack against those who dared stand against the papacy and Rome… While most Christians think that the Counter Reformation is a thing of the past because we are not seeing Inquisitions today, this movement continues until today and with renewed effort through various avenues of the evangelical/Protestant church. In a way, it is more insidious than the Inquisitions, because now it has infiltrated Christianity and is being disguised as the “new” Christianity. . . By their very roots, Jesuits are proponents of mystical prayer practices. The founder of the Jesuits, Ignatius Loyola, created “spiritual exercises” that incorporated mysticism, including lectio divina. Today, millions of people worldwide practice the “Spiritual Exercises of Ignatius Loyola.” “
SOURCE: The Jesuit Agenda and the Evangelical/Protestant Church http://www.understandthetimes.org/commentary/c97.shtml
[5] http://bringinggifts.com/2014/07/08/repetitive-prayer-vain-or-meaning-full/
[6] See also:
MB Herald promotes ancient rhythms of monastic prayer http://mennolite.wordpress.com/2010/12/11/mb-herald-promotes-ancient-rhythms-of-monastic-prayer/
The Influence of Mennonite Oblate Arthur Boers Reaches 100 Huntley Street http://mennolite.wordpress.com/2013/08/19/the-influence-of-mennonite-oblate-arthur-boers-reaches-100-huntley-street/
[7]Disappointment in the MB Herald (UPDATED 2013) http://mennolite.wordpress.com/2011/04/25/disappointment-in-the-mb-herald/
[8] Catholic lay monk Wayne Teasdale says this of Thomas Merton:
“Thomas Merton was perhaps the greatest popularizer of interspirituality. He opened the door for Christians to explore other traditions, notably Taoism (Chinese witchcraft), Hinduism and Buddhism.” [Mystic Heart: Discovering a Universal Spirituality in the World's Religions - Wayne Teasdale]
[9]Contemplative Mennonite Retreats http://rollovermenno.wordpress.com/2008/03/28/contemplative-mennonite-retreats/
[10]The Stillness and Lectio Divina at a Mennonite “Biblical” Seminary? http://mennolite.wordpress.com/2013/08/23/stillness-and-lectio-divina-at-a-mennonite-biblical-seminary/

Related:

Contemplative Spirituality – the Source of the Catholic Church’s Expansion http://www.lighthousetrailsresearch.com/blog/?p=633

The Road to Rome: The New Evangelization Plan to Win Back “the Lost Brethren” http://www.lighthousetrailsresearch.com/blog/?p=654

CERTAIN MEN CREPT IN http://www.understandthetimes.org/commentary/c151crept.shtml

Upcoming Conference Concern

Because some Mennonites have had a connection with Sabeel, and because Paul Wilkinson, who has been mentioned on this blog, recently spoke in a Mennonite Brethren church in Canada and warned about an upcoming Sabeel conference in that very city, today Mennolite is linking to a post at Olive Press about Sabeel’s upcoming Canadian conference. Originally scheduled for two months from now, it has recently been changed to next spring. The Canadian Friends of Sabeel conference is called Facing the New Jerusalem:
 Face-to-Face with Christian Zionism and with Palestinian Christians, and will be held in a university in the Fraser Valley of British Columbia, Canada. Read about it here:

Canadian Friends of Sabeel or Enemies of Israel? http://olivepress.wordpress.com/2014/08/22/friends-of-sabeel-canada/

Related:

What is Christian Palestinianism? http://mennolite.wordpress.com/2014/02/21/what-is-christian-palestinianism/

Mennonite Palestinianism http://mennolite.wordpress.com/2014/02/21/mennonite-palestinianism/

Sabeel, Merton, Mennonite Convergence https://mennolite.wordpress.com/2014/03/13/sabeel-merton-mennonite-convergence/

McLaren’s Palestinian Justice Speech, Part 1 http://mennolite.wordpress.com/2014/05/27/mclarens-palestinian-justice-speech-part-1/

McLaren’s Palestinian Justice Speech, Part 2 http://mennolite.wordpress.com/2014/05/28/mclarens-palestinian-justice-speech-part-2/

The Anti-Israel Movement and the Mennonites: Part 1 – What’s it all about? http://mennolite.wordpress.com/2014/03/07/the-anti-israel-movement-and-the-mennonites-part-1/

The Anti-Israel Movement and the Mennonites: Part 2 – In the Name of Christ http://mennolite.wordpress.com/2014/03/08/the-anti-israel-movement-and-the-mennonites-part-2/

The Anti-Israel Movement and the Mennonites: Part 3 – Pawns at the Checkpoint http://mennolite.wordpress.com/2014/03/08/the-anti-israel-movement-and-the-mennonites-part-3-pawns-at-the-checkpoint/

More Mennonite connections with Sabeel, for research purposes:

Network seeks to mobilize Israel-Palestine peacemaking
http://mennoworld.org/2014/08/12/network-seeks-to-mobilize-israel-palestine-peacemaking/

Mennonite Palestine Israel Network (MennoPIN)
Steering Committee
http://mennopin.wordpress.com/about/steering-committee/

Same Sex Marriages in Mennonite Church

After ban lifted, same-sex couples wed at Germantown
by Tim Huber, Mennonite World Review

After a federal judge ruled Pennsylvania’s ban on same-sex marriage was unconstitutional May 20, Germantown Mennonite Church in Philadelphia hosted two marriage ceremonies for gay and lesbian couples.

Pastor Amy Yoder McGloughlin said she performed a June 24 wedding for a couple in the church who had completed a covenant ceremony six years earlier.

Plans came together quickly to secure legal protections for the couple’s children.
“Oddly enough, these were my first queer weddings ever,” McGloughlin said, noting that a July 2 wedding she officiated fell on the 20th anniversary of the couple’s original covenant ceremony. “We were very clear about the difference between a wedding and a recommitment. This was not them doing this for the first time, this was them fulfilling their marriage rights that in our congregation they already had.”

The ban’s reversal, one year after the Supreme Court struck down portions of the Defense of Marriage Act as unconstitutional, took many in the church by joyful surprise. A third couple in the church traveled to Vermont to get married legally in early July, having made their plans before the federal judge’s ruling.

More here:

http://mennoworld.org/2014/07/14/after-ban-is-lifted-same-sex-couples-wed-at-germantown/

‘Wisely’ Revised Mennonite Perspective on Sin

The author of a recent article in The Mennonite, a monthly magazine for members of Mennonite Church USA, wonders if today’s same-sex marriage debate is a timeless biblical command or just one of the latest ‘wisely’ revised fresh perspectives of our culture.

“It is increasingly apparent that many Christians in covenanted same-sex unions manifest the presence and power of the Holy Spirit in their lives and ministries, just as Peter recognized the work of the Spirit in uncircumcised Cornelius. This witness is significant because the Holy Spirit’s presence suggests a life in faithful relationship with God and because the Holy Spirit often runs ahead of the churches’ formal decision-making. First came the Holy Spirit baptism of Cornelius and the irruption of the Gentile churches, followed by the Jerusalem Council’s process of discernment and authoritative decision.


Above all, it is clear that mutual, self-giving love can and does occur in a marriage between two Christians of the same gender, reflecting the union of Christ and the church. 


That is, a couple of the same sex can meet the “sacramental” requirements of marriage, illuminating Christ’s presence and serving as a means of grace to the world. No less than heterosexual marriage, such unions can be exclusive, permanent and issue in shared lives of service to God.”

- Martin Shupack, 2014-06-01 ISSUE: Beyond dual[ing] narratives on same-sex marriage The Bible, experience and Christian charity allow for the exception of same-sex marriage. http://www.themennonite.org/issues/17-6/articles/Dualing_narratives_on_samesex_marriage

At this rate, where will the Mennonite Church USA be found on the following list?

Where Christian churches, other religions stand on gay marriage http://www.pewresearch.org/fact-tank/2014/06/18/where-christian-churches-stand-on-gay-marriage/

How soon until all the dialogue and ‘wise’ revisions puts more Mennonites adrift in the sea of politically correct compromise. . .

Presbyterians (USA) Vote to Allow Homosexual ‘Marriages’ by 3-1 Ratio http://www.lighthousetrailsresearch.com/blog/?p=15681

Mennonites bending their ears to the earth

The earth is the LORD’S, and the fulness thereof; the world, and they that dwell therein. Psalm 24:1

Next month, on July 28-31, Mennonite Church Canada will be gathering together at Native Assembly 2014 in Winnipeg, Manitoba.[1] Together, Mennonites and aboriginals are going to celebrate through song and ceremony on the land, hear from elders and teachers, and bend their ears to the earth. Here they will discover old and new teachings which will bring them “closer to the Spirit, to each other, and to the land.”

According to the schedule, each of the four days opens with sacred fire prayer times followed by workshops that teach such things as Water, Fire, Wind and Earth: Creator’s Medicine Chest, following the Natural Laws of Nature, and the 7 Sacred Teachings of the Ojibwe to see what the animals have to teach them. Another workshop is about reading the Bible outdoors in God’s ‘second book’, the land, to see what happens when one is read in the presence of the other.

Participants, leaders and speakers include representatives from the Mennonite Central Committee, Canadian Mennonite University, Mennonite Women USA and various First Nations members, leaders and elders.

One of the workshop leaders is Dave Courchene – Nii Gaani Aki Innini (Leading Earth Man), who carries his message of hope and peace to the world. He believes his ancient Indigenous knowledge is “the foundation in supporting the New Life that Mother Earth is now entering, and that the Elders have confirmed has arrived.”[2]

A member of the Pine Creek First Nation will light the first Sacred Fire on opening night of Native Assembly, and the Summer Bear Dance Troupe will perform on opening day.

“Thus saith the LORD, Learn not the way of the heathen” Jeremiah 10:2

As these Mennonites participate in First Nations ceremonies, bend their ears to the earth, and learn old and new teachings from aboriginal elders to bring them closer to the Spirit, each other, and to the land, are they not putting the creation before God, who created all things for His glory(Romans 1:25)?

That at the name of Jesus every knee should bow, of things in heaven, and things in earth, and things under the earth; And that every tongue should confess that Jesus Christ is Lord, to the glory of God the Father. Phil. 2:10-11

Endnotes:

[1]http://home.mennonitechurch.ca/event/NativeAssembly2014/theme
[2]http://www.trcm.ca/public-education/speakers-bureau/speakers-bureau-member-profiles/dave-courchene/

Related:

How should a Christian view environmentalism? http://www.gotquestions.org/environmentalism-Christian.html

The Environmental Agenda, The New World Religion: The Spiritual Roots of Global Government http://www.garykah.org/GaryKah/The_Environmental_Agenda_files/The%20Environmental%20Agenda%20.pdf

Cult of Green: The United Nations Environmental Sabbath and the New Global Ethic http://forcingchange.wordpress.com/2012/11/28/cult-of-green-the-united-nations-environmental-sabbath-and-the-new-global-ethic/

All for Gaia – Earth Day and Total Transformation by Carl Teichrib http://www.crossroad.to/articles2/forcing-change/09/4-earth-gaia.htm

Mennonite-Catholic Collaboration

A century old Mennonite church in Ukraine is being restored into a Greek Catholic church with help from Canadian Mennonites. The building fell into disrepair when Mennonites were forced to leave during the Soviet era.

“Observers call the project an example of Mennonite-Catholic collaboration in the spirit of other exchanges over the past decade or so….

“Initially Father Peter was afraid that Mennonites wanted to take back the church,” said George Dyck, treasurer of Friends of the Mennonite Centre in Ukraine, the Canadian-based charity providing partial funding to the project over the past year.
Dyck describes the involvement as a “mutual embrace of returning Mennonites with their former fellow villagers.”

… Darrin Snyder Belousek said the renovation “is the fruit of the renewal of the Catholic Church in Ukraine.” Snyder Belousek is executive director of Bridgefolk, a North American-based movement of Mennonites and Cath­olics with an annual gathering to learn from each other’s traditions.”

Source: Greek Catholics restore Ukraine church building
May 26, 2014 by Ron Rempel and Mennonite World Conference http://mennoworld.org/2014/05/26/greek-catholics-restore-ukraine-church-building/

The common ground for this collaboration is based on past persecution and remaining faithful. However, are these Mennonites remaining faithful, to the gospel or their founder, by building such bridges with the church of Rome? Would their founder, who renounced the teachings of the church of Rome, smile upon such compromise?

“I voluntarily renounced all my worldly honor and reputation, my unchristian conduct, masses, infant baptism, and my unprofitable life, and at once willingly submitted to distress and poverty, and the cross of Christ.”

-Menno Simons, MENNO SIMONS RENUNCIATION OF THE CHURCH OF ROME http://www.mennosimons.net/ft002-renunciation.html

RELATED:

Mennonite Pope? http://mennolite.wordpress.com/2014/03/20/mennonite-pope/

Call for an Ecumenical Mennonite Denomination http://mennolite.wordpress.com/2014/05/14/call-for-an-ecumenical-mennonite-denomination/

The Deception behind Evangelicals and Catholics Together http://mennolite.wordpress.com/2010/11/12/the-deception-behind-evangelicals-and-catholics-together/

Common Cause – for Concern http://mennolite.wordpress.com/2011/02/14/common-cause-for-concern/

Mennonite Students go to Benedictine Monastery to Sit in Silence http://mennolite.wordpress.com/2011/09/23/mennonite-trekkers-go-to-benedictine-monastery-to-sit-in-silence/

Mennonite seminary hosts conference on Mary http://mennolite.wordpress.com/2011/02/15/mennonite-seminary-hosts-conference-on-mary/

McLaren’s Palestinian Justice Speech, Part 2

In the last half of his plenary talk at a FOSNA conference this April in Portland, Oregon, in his case to prove that Christians are responsible for creating the injustice that currently exists in Palestine, Brian McLaren went into further detail about his problem with all the accounts in the Bible where God said to wipe out the surrounding nations, people and even animals, in what he calls the ‘texts of genocide.’

“Through its appropriation of “texts of terror” and especially through the application of those texts to the Jews, the Christian religion created the conditions for the oppression of Palestinians.”
-Brian McLaren, Seeds of Hope and Justice for Palestinians and Israelis [1]

McLaren then talked about the holocaust being one of many world wide genocidal atrocities which the church has been behind, saying that “The lament that Christians should have is that Israel is treating Palestinians exactly the way Christians treated Jews, and we now lament that past.”

But is it true that the Christian religion created the conditions for oppression of Palestine? While many atrocities in the world have been done in the name of Christ, is it true for McLaren to say that Israel is treating Palestinians the way Jews were treated in the Holocaust?

First of all, it was Hitler and the Unholy Alliance who were behind the annihilation of the Jews. Secondly, Israel today treats the Palestinians better than they are treated by their own leaders. Where is the genocide happening in Israel? Just this week Prime Minister Binyamin Netanyahu showed to the world “the true Israel, the advanced, modern and tolerant Israel, in effect, the only country in the Middle East that ensures complete freedom of worship to those of all faiths, guards the holy places and ensures the rights of all – Jews, Muslims, Christians, everybody.”[2]

Israel is not oppressing Palestinians. The exploitation of Palestinians appears to be coming from a leadership that does not want peace, using its people as pawns while trying to annihilate Israel.

The reality is that Israel, not only as a country, but as individual citizens, lives at peace with the Palestinians. Hard to believe – but it’s true. Since 1947, when Israel accepted the U.N. Partition Plan, which gave them sovereignty over a crumb of land, Israel has continuously reached out to the Arabs for peace, only to be met with a just as continuous chant of no, no, no.

-Israel at Peace, Palestinians at War http://www.frontpagemag.com/2014/gideonisrael/israel-at-peace-palestinians-at-war/

(It is important to understand all the facts in the above article if one is to counter the anti-Israel myths.)

Nearly at the ten minute mark in the second half of his talk, McLaren says that “More of us are going to have to stand up to the Christian Zionists and others…”

Christian Zionists everywhere should be alarmed by that statement and prepared to stand up for Israel and ask McLaren and friends how they think this is going to look.

In a classic misinterpretation of the Bible, McLaren said that after Jesus read the scroll of Isaiah and rolled it up (Luke 4), what he meant by doing that is that it’s time to move on from the ‘vengeance way’ of reading the Bible, the ‘exclusive way’ – and on to a ‘universal way’ of reading the Bible.

One day men like McLaren will tremble at the real reason that Jesus stopped reading in the middle of the prophecy. He purposely stopped at the comma because the next part was about his second coming. Jesus came the first time to do his ministry in order to set the captives free. We are now living in the comma, in the age of grace, the church age, before His second coming. When the other half of the Isaiah prophecy is fulfilled – then the world will see that the ‘vengeance’ part was not left out by Jesus to move on to a ‘universal way’, as Mclaren would have his listeners believe.

At the 12:22 minute mark, McLaren says: “It is time to join with Jews, Muslims, and others who seek peace, justice and the common good.”

Someone should ask McLaren to explain why (if the religion of Islam truly seeks peace) do the Muslim nations want to destroy Israel and drive them into the sea? If they really want peace, why did they not accept the peace offerings they were first given? Are Palestinians really ‘victims’ of an ‘occupation’?

Palestinians would not have become refugees in 1948 had they agreed to the 1947 UN Partition Plan. There would have been no Palestinian refugees, had they chosen not to attack and terrorize the Jewish community in Palestine in 1929, 1936-1939, and later in 1948, when they attempted to extinguish the nascent Jewish state. History repeated itself in 1967. After the Six Day War, Israel offered to negotiate peace with the Arab States. The response came from the Khartoum, Arab Summit, “No to Peace, No to negotiations with Israel, and No to recognition of Israel.”
… The “occupation” mantra is meant to appeal to emotions and not facts. Israel is the legal administrator of the territories until a peace settlement is reached. The “occupation” could have ended in 1967 if the Arab states and the PLO had agreed to make peace as UN Resolution 242 required. The Palestinians could have acquired statehood in 1947, or once again under the Oslo Accords process. They chose instead to launch an intifada (uprising) against Israel, rather than “end the conflict.”

- The Self-Inflicted Palestinian Victimhood http://www.frontpagemag.com/2014/joseph-puder/the-self-inflicted-palestinian-victimhood-2/

Near the end of his talk, McLaren promotes his new book, “We Make the Road by Walking” (a re-imagined re-telling of the Bible). On his powerpoint beside his book is a CS Lewis photo with the caption: “It is time to reclaim the Bible as “a book for grown ups.” This CS Lewis quote seems to be out of context. It is from Mere Christianity, where Lewis makes fun of those who reject the Christian’s idea of heaven because they don’t want to spend eternity playing harps. He says, “The answer to such people is that if they cannot understand books written for grown-ups, they should not talk about them” (p 121, Mere Christianity). Perhaps it is time for someone to suggest to Brian McLaren that if he cannot understand the Bible, he should not try to re-tell it [3].

Under McLaren’s powerpoint topical sentence: “We cannot be naive about the possible subconscious motivations for maintaining the status quo,” he notes that what happened recently with World Vision (hiring gays)[4] was just a matter of economic bullying by the elite. One of his other points, which he does not read out loud, is; “legitimization for a new scapegoat Islam”.[5] Does this mean that McLaren thinks that Islam is being bullied by the elite?

McLaren ends his presentation with a ‘thanks to Sabeel for the great leadership’ [6] followed by a very short Q&A where at 16 minutes he says that ‘the fundamentalist ways of reading the text are just soooo unfair to the text. When you really love a text you realize there is so much more going on.’ Does McLaren love the Biblical text enough to realize there is so much more going on?

After reading the question (at 19:30, followed by audience laughter): “Do you think peace in Israel will signal the end times?” – the moderator then asks McLaren to briefly comment on Revelation. McLaren answers that Revelation is a literature of the oppressed… a message that is speaking the truth indirectly. Like the sword on the guy riding on the horse that is coming out of his mouth (Revelation 19)[7]. If you wanna take that literally, says McLaren, that is comic. He then explains that the unarmed peaceful Messiah who rode in on a donkey is the real message, that peace is more powerful, and that the blood on his robe is only the blood of the powerless victim that overcomes the violence of his oppressor. (This is in keeping with the heretical non-violent atonement theory of Steve Chalke and others which denies the penal, substitutionary atonement of Christ on the cross.)

Teachers like McLaren cannot discern that the sword in Jesus’ mouth represents the power of His Word, that His robe is stained in either the blood of His enemies or His own blood (a reminder of the cross). They cannot see that this is not the meek and mild Jesus who came the first time as a lamb. This Jesus is the returning King, the Lion of Judah, who by His righteousness will demand attention and submission when He comes back (as prophesied) to the rebellious world in the day of vengeance at the end of this age of grace. How sobering for any man who dares to take away the power of that image in the words describing the things which shall be hereafter, as told to us in the revelation of Jesus Christ, the King of Kings and Lord of Lords.

“And if any man shall take away from the words of the book of this prophecy, God shall take away his part out of the book of life, and out of the holy city, and from the things which are written in this book.” Revelation 22:19

Why is it important to critique the clever words of those like McLaren? Because of the way they are valued by Christian denominations, some Mennonite, who have allowed emerging church literature and resources with McLaren’s name on the label into their churches and institutes of learning, or have had him in as a guest to speak, or are involved in the same causes as McLaren and friends that contradict the Word of God. The question of urgency in these perilous times is: are you a friend Jesus, the soon returning King? Or Brian McLaren, friend of Sabeel and FOSNA[8], who says the guy on the horse with the sword is comic?

 

Endnotes:

[1] At about 4 minutes into the Part 2 youtube clip of his presentation, see: Christian responsibility for Palestinian Justice, Part 2 of Brian McLaren’s plenary talk at “Seeds of Hope and Justice for Palestinians and Israelis” at a FOSNA(Friends of Sabeel North America) conference, April, 2014 in Portland, Oregon: http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=3hM7Us1wDzk
[2] Netanyahu: Pope visiting only Mideast state to offer true freedom of religion http://www.jpost.com/LandedPages/PrintArticle.aspx?id=353279
[3] http://mennolite.wordpress.com/2014/05/16/mclarens-new-book-a-new-kind-of-year-long-church-curriculum/
[4] World Vision: Why We’re Hiring Gay Christians in Same-Sex Marriages http://www.christianitytoday.com/ct/2014/march-web-only/world-vision-why-hiring-gay-christians-same-sex-marriage.html?paging=off
[5] Powerpoint slides available at
http://www.slideshare.net/brianmclaren/sabeel-2014
Published on Apr 21, 2014 by FOSNA Sabeel (Friends of Sabeel North America) (www.fosna.org)
[6] “Sabeel Ecumenical Liberation Theology Center, headquartered in Jerusalem, has been a persistent source of anti-Zionist agitation in mainline Protestant churches in the United States since its founding in 1994. The organization subjects Israel, Jews, and Judaism to intense scrutiny while remaining nearly silent about Arab and Muslim extremism in the Middle East. In addition to publicizing the writings of its founder, Anglican priest Naim Ateek, Sabeel broadcasts its message via regional conferences in the United States and regular study missions to Israel. Far-Left American and Israeli Jews are given prominent display at Sabeel conferences, where Israel is held up to a strict biblical standard of conduct while its adversaries are held to no standard at all. By giving its followers the sense that they are engaging in a showdown with the forces of evil embodied by Israel and its U.S supporters, Sabeel reenacts the church-synagogue rivalry documented in early Christian writings.”
Read this and much more about Sabeel here:
Updating the Ancient Infrastructure of Christian Contempt: Sabeel http://jcpa.org/article/updating-the-ancient-infrastructure-of-christian-contempt-sabeel/
[7] Revelation 19 http://www.blueletterbible.org/Bible.cfm?b=Rev&c=19&v=13&t=KJV#s=1186013
[8] “Rather than truly seeking ways to coexist or to build up a normal Palestinian-Arab society, FOSNA has assembled a roster of Israel-haters and antagonists to present discussions and workshops geared toward delegitimizing and defaming Israel, hurting the Jewish state economically, and eroding support for Israel – particularly among American Christians…
.. Sabeel and Friends of Sabeel also distort history, international law, and the situation on the ground – casting Israel as “oppressors” and responsible for every “injustice” that allegedly afflicts Palestinian-Arabs. Everyone else is apparently blameless for their claimed suffering…
… Further, Sabeel considers all of the land as “Palestinian,” accuses Israel of practicing “apartheid,” and dates the “occupation” to 1948. The facts that the Palestinian Arabs rejected the U.N. Partition Plan in 1947 that offered them a state of their own, that the international community gave the land to the Jewish people for “close settlement” (as per the Mandate for Palestine issued by the League of Nations), that Judea and Samaria and the eastern half of Jerusalem and the Gaza Strip were illegally occupied respectively by Jordan and Egypt from 1948 to 1967, and that the charge of “apartheid” is laughable do not seem to matter.”
Source: The Palestinian Narrative: Seeking Peace by Waging War http://www.levitt.com/news/2014/03/29/

Related:

McLaren’s Palestinian Justice Speech, Part 1 https://mennolite.wordpress.com/2014/05/27/mclarens-palestinian-justice-speech-part-1/

*Find this blog’s 5 part critique of McLaren’s teaching at Canadian Mennonite University in 2011, here: http://mennolite.wordpress.com/2011/03/17/cmu-student-found-refreshing-winds-very-cool/

**The following links may provide answers to some issues McLaren mentioned:

Why did God condone such terrible violence in the Old Testament? http://www.gotquestions.org/Old-Testament-violence.html

Why Would a Loving God Tell Israel to Wipe Out Her (enemies?) http://www.thebereancall.org/content/why-would-loving-god-tell-israel-wipe-out-her

Why would God order the destruction of men, women, and children? http://carm.org/bible-difficulties/joshua-esther/why-would-god-order-destruction-men-women-and-children

Christians condemn the Quran and Islam for all the violence taught therein, but say nothing about all the OT brutalities such as God commanding the utter annihilation of the Amalekites, including women, children and animals. Why this inconsistency? http://www.answering-islam.org/Shamoun/q_amalekites.htm

Klavan’s One State Solution: Give the Middle East to the Jews http://moriel.org/MorielArchive/index.php/discernment/israel/klavans-one-state-solution-give-the-middle-east-to-the-jews

SABEEL ECUMENICAL LIBERATION THEOLOGY CENTER http://www.ngo-monitor.org/article/sabeel_ecumenical_liberation_theology_center

Attacks on Christian Zionism http://www.levitt.com/essays/christian_zionism

Palestinian Liberation Theology http://www.levitt.com/news/2012/02/15/palestinian-liberation-theology/?shared=email&msg=fail

***Also see:

The End of Evangelical Support for Israel? The Jewish State’s International Standing http://www.lighthousetrailsresearch.com/blog/?p=15597

‘Jesus Was a Palestinian': The Return of Christian Anti-Semitism by Melanie Philips http://www.commentarymagazine.com/article/jesus-was-a-palestinian-the-return-of-christian-anti-semitism/

Bethlehem’s ‘Christ at the Checkpoint’ Conference: A Personal Report By: Brian Schrauger http://www.jewishpress.com/indepth/bethlehems-christ-at-the-checkpoint-conference-a-personal-report/2014/03/18/0/?print

Who Are the Peacemakers? http://blogs.jpost.com/content/who-are-peacemakers-0