Find Yourself a Thin Place this Christmas

In an article called Have a “thin” Christmas in the December 2014 issue of the MB Herald, readers are encouraged to find God in the ‘thin places‘ this Christmas.

God comes near

In North America, with the endless noise and rush of life, it’s often difficult to find places where we can steal a glimpse of heaven . . . we all long for places where the veil of eternity becomes slightly more transparent, awareness of God’s presence is heightened and intimacy with Jesus grows. . .
The ancient Celts called these “thin places.”
Whether thin places are actual geographical locations, or simply moments when we allow ourselves to be more aware of Jesus’ presence in our lives, they’re essential to our spiritual well-being.
New York Times writer Eric Weiner says thin places make us feel disoriented – in a good way. “They confuse. We lose our bearings, and find new ones. Or not. Either way, we are jolted out of old ways of seeing the world.”

“Thin places” at Christmas

The Christmas season offers ample opportunities for us to discover “thin places” in our world. They allow us to become disoriented for just a moment. They open the door for God to show us new ways of seeing things – to renew our hope and faith, and to reorient our spiritual compass.
Perhaps it’s a stirring performance of Handel’s “Messiah,” reminding us again of the majesty and grandeur of our Saviour. Perhaps it’s a quiet evening spent by the fire reading God’s Word, seeking his direction for the new year. Perhaps it’s a smile and an embrace from an old friend in the form of a Christmas card, allowing the joy of community to warmly enfold us.
Or perhaps it’s an unexpected faith conversation with a stranger on the subway after a hectic day of Christmas shopping, jarring us out of the ordinary and reminding us of what’s really important.
Wherever the thin places are for you this Christmas season, I wish you many moments discovering the nearness of God in this world.
After all, more than creating a thin space, Jesus’ birth on earth tore the veil in two. On the first Christmas, he emptied himself to dwell with his people, so we might truly see God face-to-face.

SOURCE – Have a “thin” Christmas by Laura Kalmar
http://mbherald.com/thin-christmas/

Are thin places a biblical way to meet God? Does the Bible teach us to seek God through the concept of thin places?

Before the answers to these questions are explored, one important point must be addressed. In the article, MB Herald editor Laura Kalmar refers to New York Times writer Eric Weiner as one of her information sources on thin places. In the Weiner’s NY Times article, called Where Heaven and Earth Come Closer, he calls thin places “locales where the distance between heaven and earth collapses and we’re able to catch glimpses of the divine, or the transcendent or, as I like to think of it, the Infinite Whatever.” Weiner is also an author of Man Seeks God: My Flirtations With the Divine. In the writing of this book, Weiner describes . . .

“… a wild ride that takes me to Nepal, where I meditate with Tibetan lamas and a guy named Wayne; to Turkey, where I whirl (not so well, as it turns out) with Sufi dervishes; to China, where I attempts to unblock my chi; to Israel, where I study Kabbalah, sans Madonna; to the Bronx, where I volunteer at a homeless shelter run by Franciscan friars; and even to Las Vegas, where I have a close encounter with Raelians, followers of the world’s largest UFO-based religion.
Along the way, I learn that I am not alone in my spiritual restlessness. The latest studies find that nearly one in three Americans will change their religious affiliation at some point in their lives. We are, more than ever, a nation of God hoppers.
I am willing to do anything to better understand faith, and to find the god or gods that speak to me. I maintain an open mind, leaving judgment at the door…”

It is unfortunate, if not shocking, that the editor of a Christian magazine would draw from the spiritually restless Weiner as a source for an article on how Christians might experience God.

This isn’t the first time that Christians have looked to other religious sources and extra-biblical spiritual means to experience the presence of God. On page 26 of his book called Letters to a Young Evangelical, well known Christian author Tony Campolo writes that every morning “I am able to create what the ancient Celtic Christians call “the thin place.”” This term is the thin line between spirituality and panentheism, implying that God is in all things. The thin place is also considered the gap between God and man where everything thins out and ultimately disappears in meditation.[1]

When Jesus and the power of the gospel is not enough for some people, they often turn to such concepts of ancient spirituality, like Campolo, who says:

“Believing the gospel was never a problem for me, but during times of reflection I sensed that believing in Jesus and living out His teachings just wasn’t enough. There was a yearning for something more, and I found that I was increasingly spiritually gratified as I adopted older ways of praying–ways that have largely been ignored by those of us in the Protestant tradition. Counter-Reformation saints like Ignatius of Loyola have become important sources of help as I have begun to learn from them modes of contemplative prayer. I practice what is known as “centering prayer,” in which a sacred word is repeated as a way to be in God’s presence.
… I’ve got to push everything out of mind save the name of Jesus. I say His name over and over again, for as long as fifteen minutes, until I find my soul suspended in what the ancient Celtic Christians called a “thin place”–a state where the boundary between heaven and earth, divine and human, dissolves. You could say that I use the name of Jesus as my koan.”
-Tony Campolo[2]

Campolo’s friend Samir Selmanovic[3], who has participated in the emergent conversation with Shane Claiborne and Brian McLaren, says of thin places:

“Celtic Christians sought after ‘thin places,’ spots where the membrane between mere physical reality and the reality of God’s presence thins out and becomes soft and permeable. For them, thin places are locations in space or time where God’s world (‘reality as it really is’) intersects with our world (‘reality as we happen to experience it’) so that it can be seen, touched, tasted, or sensed in some unmistakable way. They believed that at places like shorelines, fjords, rivers, and wells, the veil was so sheer, one could almost step through it. . . . A thin place could be a conversation, a dream, a room, a tree, a dawn, a shore, a dance, a person, a scientific lab, a Sabbath, a Eucharist, an early morning meal before the Ramadan fast begins.” 
— Samir Selmanovic in It’s Really All About God, Reflections of a Muslim Atheist Jewish Christian

It appears that, like contemplative spiritual formation, this is all part of a progression of (un)belief that leads people towards universalism. Like the labyrinth, a thin place appears to be another spiritual tool or means where people seek a supernatural experience or feeling. But what exactly is a ‘thin place’?

A thin place is a place of energy. A place where the veil between this world and the eternal world is thin. A thin place is where one can walk in two worlds – the worlds are fused together, knitted loosely where the differences can be discerned or tightly where the two worlds become one.
Thin places aren’t perceived with the five senses. Experiencing them goes beyond those limits.
Fascination with the “Other world” has occupied our human minds since early recordings of history and likely before that. A thin place pulsates with an energy that connects with our own energy – we feel it, but we do not see it. We know there’s another side – another world – another existence. To some it is heaven, the Kingdom, paradise. To others it may be hell, an abyss, the unknown. Whatever you perceive the Other world to be, a thin place is a place where connection to that world seems effortless, and ephemeral signs of its existence are almost palpable.
Mahatma Ghandi in his Spiritual Message to the World in 1931, speaks of this.
“There is an indefinable, mysterious power that pervades everything. I feel it, though I do not see it. It is this unseen power that makes itself felt and yet defies all proof, because it is so unlike all that I perceive through my senses. It transcends the senses”

Source – What is a Thin Place?
http://www.thinplaces.net/openingarticle.htm

The practice of trying to find the doorway connecting to the other world is definitely not a concept from biblical origins, as an excerpt from thinplace.net explains:

The Celts were a culture of people that arrived in Ireland after 500 BC. The idea of thin places or doorways to the Otherworld were solidly a part of the Irish culture long before the Celts came. …The thin places concept was a part of the pre-Christian or pagan charism and these beliefs or sensitivities – existed prior to the Celts. The concept is rejected by many of the present day Christian communities, often being linked to “new age” heathenism. …These pre-Christian Irish people believed the thin place itself had the mystical or spiritual power. One didn’t create a thin place simply by moving into a state of contemplation or spiritual trance. The site itself was thin and that made spiritual contemplation more powerful.[4]

Christianizing the concept of thin spaces is simply another a new blend of spirituality that is not taught in the Bible, if not forbidden. Attempting to sense a spiritual energy or presence through the supernatural veil is an occultic practice. If ‘occult’ means ‘hidden’ spiritual mysteries and the supernatural, those who attempt to peer through the veil between the realms in order to ‘steal a glimpse of heaven’ to hear or see or feel God may be practicing a form of occultism. Occult methods involve seeking the hidden realm beyond rational reason to find a supernatural experience. Such an attempt outside the word of God might be compared to a soldier stepping into enemy territory without his sword. If Satan masquerades as an angel of light, why take the chance of being deceived by the prince of the power of the air (Eph 2:1-2) while looking for a nice supernatural experience in a ‘hidden’ thin place?

While the spiritually restless and misinformed seek supernatural experiences in the thin spaces, it is only in the Bible that the deepest truths can be found. In its pages we read how the Creator of time and space stepped into this darkened world at the perfect time to fulfill prophecy and die for our sins to reconcile us back to Him. His death (not his birth) tore the veil in two, because He was the High Priest who made the final sacrifice (Himself), once and for all (Hebrews 10:10). When our resurrected Lord ascended in heaven, He sent His Holy Spirit to help, teach and comfort us with His presence that indwells and empowers every believer. We don’t need to seek a doorway or experience, we only need to seek and abide in Him. He is the door (John 10:9). Instead of looking to discover “thin places” in our world this season, believers in Christ need only to draw near to God and abide in Him, every day of the year.

“Draw near to God, and he will draw near to you. Cleanse your hands, you sinners, and purify your hearts, you double-minded.” James 4:8 ESV

_______

[1]Campolo Crosses Bridge to Celtic Thin Place
http://muddystreams.wordpress.com/2010/05/05/campolo-finds-the-thin-place/
[2] 
http://www.beliefnet.com/Faiths/Christianity/2006/02/Mystical-Encounters-For-Christians.aspx
[3] Selmanovic is the founder of “Faith House Manhattan”, an interfaith community of Christians, Muslims, Jews and humanists/atheists (http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Samir_Selmanovic)
[4] http://www.thinplace.net/2011/03/richard-rohr-celts-didnt-invent-thin.html

Related:

*Read more about the thin places of Celtic Spirituality and which so called Christians promote them, in this article:

In Touch Magazine Draws Readers to “Celtic Spirituality”
http://www.lighthousetrailsresearch.com/blog/?p=9485

*What are Celtic thin places?

Where will the Same-Sex Conversation Lead?

The same-sex issue has been brewing from some time now in the Mennonite church. The following article in the December 2014 issue of the MB Herald is about a play that is bringing people into the same-sex conversation. But will it bring them into the truth?

One-man play calls audience to hear another story

Can fiction create a conversation where study has led only to argument? Some 20 MB and Mennonite church members sponsoring a presentation of Ted Swartz’s play on relationships, sexuality and the church at Mennonite Brethren Collegiate Institute, Winnipeg, Nov. 11, 2014, hope the audience will come to listen.
Listening for Grace: Variations on a Theme of Struggle and Hope is created and acted by the U.S. Mennonite actor and humourist. Swartz plays five different characters, based on interviews and stories from same-sex attracted individuals and their families. Swartz’s play does not promote an agenda, explains the show’s website, but “teaches the transformative power of listening.”
The Mennonite Brethren conference has heard theological teaching on homosexuality at the board of faith and life’s “Honouring God with the body” study conference Oct. 16–18, 2013, and will continue to explore the subject at the “God, Sex and Church” study conference in 2015.
Swartz’s format isn’t a theological study or discussion. “Plays touch on the emotions,” says Manitoba MB conference pastor Keith Poysti. The conference is not endorsing the play; however, “It’s good for us to listen and hear respectfully,” says Poysti.
John Unger, retired pastor of Fort Garry MB Church, Winnipeg, who is part of the sponsoring group, see the play as “a way to help the church begin to listen to one another. . .”

SOURCE: http://mbherald.com/play-hear-another-story/

***

***

What other Mennonites are saying about this play:

Ted Swartz’s New Play May Have Just Scared Me Back onto the Straight and Narrow, in the Funniest Possible Way and for Probably Not Quite the Right Reason
http://www.oldsouthhigh.com/2014/05/08/ted-swartzs-new-play-may-have-just-scared-me-back-onto-the-straight-and-narrow-in-the-funniest-possible-way-and-for-probably-not-quite-the-right-reason/

Playwright and actor Ted Swartz brings music, comedy and storytelling to conversation about sexuality, faith and family
http://emu.edu/now/news/2014/10/playwright-and-actor-ted-swartz-brings-music-comedy-and-storytelling-to-conversation-about-sexuality-faith-and-family/

Voice of grace
Actor brings music, comedy and storytelling to conversation about sexuality, faith and family

http://mennoworld.org/2014/11/03/voice-of-grace/

***

What God says about the same-sex issue:

“Is it possible to be a gay Christian?”
http://www.gotquestions.org/gay-Christian.html

What does the New Testament say about homosexuality?
http://www.gotquestions.org/New-Testament-homosexuality.html

What does the Bible say about gay marriage / same sex marriage?
http://www.gotquestions.org/gay-marriage.html

What does the Bible say about homosexuality? Is homosexuality a sin?
http://www.gotquestions.org/homosexuality-Bible.html

If homosexuality is a sin, why didn’t Jesus ever mention it?
http://www.gotquestions.org/Jesus-homosexuality.html

***

What the facts say about same-sex relationships being harmful:

Homosexual activity harms no one
http://carm.org/homosexual-gay-sex-harms-no-one

Misery and the “Gay”
http://moriel.org/MorielArchive/index.php/discernment/church-issues/various/misery-and-the-gay

***

RELATED:

More Mennonites Licensing Same-Sex Pastor
http://mennolite.wordpress.com/2014/10/29/more-mennonites-licensing-same-sex-pastor/

Same Sex Marriages in Mennonite Church
http://mennoworld.org/2014/07/14/after-ban-is-lifted-same-sex-couples-wed-at-germantown/

‘Wisely’ Revised Mennonite Perspective on Sin
http://mennolite.wordpress.com/2014/06/20/wisely-revised-mennonite-perspective-on-sin/

Mennonite Leaders Concerned about Recent Same-Sex Issues
http://mennolite.wordpress.com/2014/03/19/mennonite-leaders-concerned-about-recent-same-sex-issues/

Will Mennonites Make Space to Welcome Sin?
http://mennolite.wordpress.com/2014/01/28/will-mennonites-make-space-to-welcome-sin/

Mennonite University Considering Policy Change to Allow Homosexual Faculty
http://mennolite.wordpress.com/2013/11/26/mennonite-university-considering-policy-change-to-allow-homosexual-faculty/

Mennonite Church USA Same Sex Marriage Symposium
http://mennolite.wordpress.com/2013/11/15/mennonite-church-usa-same-sex-marriage-symposium/

__________

NEW RESOURCE:

NEW BOOKLET TRACT: 6 Questions Every Gay Person Should Ask
http://www.lighthousetrailsresearch.com/blog/?p=16535

Menno Monday

In light of what some Mennonites have been promoting recently (i.e. labyrinths, pagan rituals, the new church of anti-Christ, etc.) in the name of Christ . . .

“. . . it should be observed that the church of Christ is begotten by the Spirit and word of Christ. For as an honorable woman can bring forth no legitimate children but from the seed of her lawful husband, so, also, the bride of Christ, namely, the church, can bring forth no true Christians but from the legitimate seed of Christ, that is, from the unadulterated word, rightly preached through the Holy Spirit, and conceived in the heart of the hearers. Paul says, “In Christ Jesus I have begotten you through the gospel,” 1 Cor. 4:15; James says, “Of his own will begat he us with the word of truth,” Jas. 1:18; also read Rom. 10; 1 Pet. 1.
On the other hand the church of anti-christ is begotten of deceiving doctrine, through the spirit of error. Paul says, “Now the Spirit speaketh expressly, that in the latter times some shall depart from the faith, giving heed to seducing spirits, and doctrines of devils; speaking lies in hypocrisy,” 1 Tim. 4:1.
The prophets on every hand complained that Israel inclined their ears to false preachers, Isaiah 30:9; Jer. 8:8; 14:14.”

- Menno Simons, CONCERNING THE CHURCH, AND AN INSTRUCTIVE COMPARISON HOW WE MAY DISTINGUISH BETWEEN THE CHURCH OF CHRIST, AND THE CHURCH OF ANTI-CHRIST. http://www.mennosimons.net/ft068-concerningthechurch.html

Mennonites Promoting the Mesa Document – the New Direction of the Same Old Emerging Conversation

My son, fear thou the LORD and the king: and meddle not with them that are given to change
Proverbs 24:21

For ninety years, Mennonite World Review has independently published a newspaper to serve Mennonites and the Anabaptist movement. In more recent years they began publishing a website and The World Together Blog. This Anabaptist-themed blog contains articles written by Brethren, Brethren in Christ, Mennonite Brethren, Conservative Mennonite, Quaker and other “Anabaptist-influenced thinkers”. This blog seems to be one of the ways that Plymouth Brethren defector Brian McLaren has been making inroads into Mennonite circles. One of the current articles on The World Together Blog by change agent McLaren concerns the direction the emerging conversation has taken and how it has led to his latest project, the Mesa Document.

Here is an excerpt of McLaren’s article as it appears on the Mennonite blog:

What’s happening in the emergent church conversation?
Nov 19, 2014 by Brian D. McClaren

I was asked recently for my view of what’s happening in the emergent/emergence conversation in North America. Here’s a very short overview, from my perspective.
The conversation continues to grow, not by creating a new slice of the pie, but by seasoning nearly all sectors of the pie. Even where the word “emergent” is not used, ideas from emergence leaders are being considered and adopted, leading to new experimentation and openness.
Influence in the Roman Catholic world is still relatively small, but growing numbers of Catholic scholars and leaders are listening, reading and engaging, from lay people to (yes) the Vatican. Catholic influence on the emergence community continues to be strong, especially through the spiritual practices of the monastic and contemplative traditions.
Much of the Mainline Protestant world has opened its arms wide to the emergent conversation, from bishops to parachurch organizations to denominational leaders to local pastors to grassroots activists. A few years down the road, I think Mainline engagement will become even more overt and significant, but already most Mainline Protestant denominations are experimenting with creative new approaches to church planting and worship/liturgy renewal. Key next steps may include the creation of a national, trans-denominational campus ministry, collaborative and transdenominational church planting and “branding,” new approaches to theological and ministry education, and the development of a new genre of progressive Christian worship music.
The evangelical community has, by and large, decided to double down against LGBT inclusion and equality, and because many emergence leaders see equality as a natural and unavoidable expression of the gospel, their voices have been marginalized by prominent gatekeepers. But beneath the surface, influence continues to expand, especially among young evangelicals and those uncomfortable with the marriage between American evangelicalism and the religious right. Along with LGBT equality, surprising numbers of evangelicals are quietly but consistently moving towards greater concern for the full equality for women, the environment, racial and interfaith reconciliation, the elimination of torture, peacemaking, poverty reduction and related issues. And theologically, they are eager to engage with questions that have been suppressed — including rethinking penal substitutionary atonement theory, biblical inerrancy and interpretation, and the violence of God. For practical reasons, it will often be best, in the short run at least, for these conversations to happen without association with the term “emergence.”

SOURCE:
http://mennoworld.org/2014/11/19/whats-happening-in-the-emergent-church-conversation/

After perfectly describing what the one world church of the anti-Christ might look like, McLaren goes on to explain in this article that, as the first wave of the emerging church leaders are aging, a new wave of young (politically correct, sin tolerant, atonement rethinking, Bible doubting) leaders is rising. These radicals are “making room for Catholics, Mainline Protestants, Evangelicals and others to work together for the common good.” Since this new unstructured wave of emergent spawn requires new structuring, McLaren recently got a group together to make a global document of sorts, detailing their new ideas and goals. In May of 2013, Brian McLaren asked for large sums of money to go toward this project which was yet to be named[1]. What he has to show for this effort is called the Mesa Document.

The Mesa Document pdf[2] explains how the goals for this restructuring were formulated in Thailand, based on conversation, dreams and friendships around the world, and is dated Halloween, 2013. An excerpt describes:

“The journey was often frightening and difficult. Whenever we found someone who shared our questions, desires, and dreams, we gathered around a table for conversation. Through conversation, we became friends on a journey. And from our friendships, we gained the courage to try new things. . . We chose the name Mesa, the Spanish word for table, because it suggested a space of conversation, companionship, and nourishment for life, work, and action.”

They are always attempting to try ‘new things,’ but had they consulted the Bible for wisdom, they might have save themselves a lot of time and resources, for as the wisest man in the world said, “The thing that hath been, it is that which shall be; and that which is done is that which shall be done: and there is no new thing under the sun. Is there any thing whereof it may be said, See, this is new? it hath been already of old time, which was before us.” (Ecc. 1:9-10) Then in the book of Acts we saw the wise Bereans who studied in contrast with all the Athenians and strangers who spent their time in nothing else, but either to tell, or to hear some new thing. (Acts 17:21). All scripture is written for our benefit, but only to those who study and take heed.

Although McLaren and friends say they believe in Jesus, nothing is mentioned about the Holy Spirit’s guidance in the re-writing of this new kind of church (because they don’t believe the written word is inspired or inerrant). According to McLaren’s perspective, here are the new directives on the Mesa Document:

• We believe in Jesus and the good news of the reign, commonwealth, or ecosystem of God, and we seek for God’s will to be done on earth as it is in heaven by focusing on love — love for God and neighbor, for outsider and enemy.
• We seek to know, serve and join the poor in the struggle for justice and freedom . . . through advocacy, relationships and action.
• We seek to honor, interpret and apply the Bible in fresh and healing ways, aware of the damaging ways the Bible has been used in the past.
• We seek to reconnect with the earth, understand the harm human beings are doing to it, and discover more responsible, regenerative ways of life in it.
• We seek the common good, locally and globally, through churches of many diverse forms, contexts and traditions, and we imagine fresh ways for churches to form Christlike people and join God in the healing of the world.
• We build inclusive partnerships across gaps between the powerful and vulnerable – including disparities based on wealth, gender, race and ethnic identity, education, religion, sexuality, age, politics and physical ability.
• We engage conflict at all levels of human society with the creative and nonviolent wisdom of peacemaking.
• We propose new ways of encountering the other in today’s pluralistic world and we collaborate with other religious and secular groups in alliances for the common good.
• We host safe space for constructive theological conversation, seeking to root our practice in theological reflection and seeking to express our reflection in practical action.
• We value the arts for their unique role in nurturing, challenging and transforming our humanity.
• We emphasize spiritual and relational practices to strengthen our inner life with God and our relationships with one another.

Why did McLaren and friends travel all the way to Thailand to re-define words into a language the new kind of gatekeeper-phobic church will be comfortable with? As much as McLaren has been preaching that everything must change, these “new” concepts sound like the same old ways the emerging church has been using to integrate ideas the world already accepts: reconnecting with mother earth, social justice, the new tolerance, politically correct peace building, ecumenism, interfaith, LGBT inclusiveness, transformation of humanity through the arts and inner spiritual disciplines. The world drinks this church blend the same way it accepts the New Age message of Oprah’s tour with Rob Bell.[3] In their process of redefining terms for the new kind of church, McLaren and friends have ignored the words of Jesus (whom they claim to believe in) when He said to His beloved friends, “If ye were of the world, the world would love his own: but because ye are not of the world, but I have chosen you out of the world, therefore the world hateth you.” (John 15:9)

What began in Thailand in 2013 will be completed in 2017 with a final Mesa gathering. Meanwhile, more gatherings and conversations will take place until then.[4] Other emergent friends of McLaren associated with Mesa are Doug Pagitt, Frederick Buechner, Phyllis Tickle, Steve Chalke and Tony Jones. In fact, partnering with Mesa is Oasis, where Steve Chalke is founder of the Oasis Charitable Trust.[5] McLaren’s friend Chalke denies the penal substitutionary atonement by Jesus Christ on the cross, calling the cross ‘cosmic child abuse’.

McLaren ends his article on the Mennonite blog by expressing interest to see where others would add, subtract or differ. In answer to that, Menno-lite would like to propose that these new leaders add the words that God has already said (in the Bible), from which McLaren and friends appear to have subtracted. But that would just start another never ending conversation out of which a barrel of semantic monkeys would emerge.

In conclusion, those who call themselves Mennonites and point to such false teachers would do well to read the words of their founder and namesake, Menno Simons, who said…

“it should be observed that the church of anti-christ is brought forth by faithless preachers, who are actuated by the spirit of anti-christ … who, with the false prophets preach Peace, Ezek. 13:16”
-Menno Simons [6]

_____

Endnotes:

[1] DONATION PLEA: BRIAN MCLAREN RESPONDS
http://standupforthetruth.com/2013/05/donation-plea-brian-mclaren-responds/
[2] The Mennonite blog article has a link to the Mesa Document entitled Mesa Friends in Pattaya, Thailand (31 October 2013)
http://www.mesa-friends.org/downloads/Statement%20from%20Mesa%20Pattaya%20October%202013%20FINAL.pdf
[3] Rob Bell and Oprah Wrap Up New Age Tour—EQUALLY YOKED
http://www.lighthousetrailsresearch.com/blog/?p=16411
[4] http://mesa-friends.org/
[5] http://www.oasisuk.org/changemakers
[6] Menno Simons, CONCERNING THE CHURCH, AND AN INSTRUCTIVE COMPARISON HOW WE MAY DISTINGUISH BETWEEN THE CHURCH OF CHRIST, AND THE CHURCH OF ANTI-CHRIST.
http://www.mennosimons.net/ft068-concerningthechurch.html

Related:

Brian McLaren and a New Era of Bible Reading
http://www.thebereancall.org/content/brian-mclaren-and-new-era-bible-reading

Brian McLaren’s Platform at Menno Weekly
http://mennolite.wordpress.com/2011/09/20/brian-mclarens-platform-at-menno-weekly/

MB Herald Promotes Brian McLaren
http://mennolite.wordpress.com/2010/12/09/mb-herald-promotes-brian-mclaren/

MB Herald calls A New Kind of Christianity “a book on freedom”
http://mennolite.wordpress.com/2010/06/14/mb-herald-calls-a-new-kind-of-christianity-a-book-on-freedom/

The Morphing of the Emergent Movement: Can You See It Now
http://standupforthetruth.com/2014/11/the-morphing-of-the-emergent-movement-can-you-see-it-now/

Mennonite Central Committee Big Event Smudged Off the Calendar

Mennonite Central Committee concert postponed because of ideological clash
November 15
Immanuel Pentecostal Church says it was not comfortable knowing ceremonial smudging was to be part of show

Mennonite Central Committee Canada is postponing their biggest event of the year after a clash in ideological values between a group that was scheduled to perform in the show and the church that was supposed to host it.
Former prime minister Joe Clark was scheduled to speak at what was to be MCC’s 50th anniversary benefit concert, and Buffalo Gals drum group was to perform.
But officials at Immanuel Pentecostal Church were not comfortable knowing that a ceremonial smudging was to be part of the Buffalo Gals drum group performance. They said it clashed with their Christian values, and the show was cancelled.
“Their position was that the practice of smudging was not in alignment with that statement of faith in practice. We thought we had to respect that. We also felt we had to respect the position of the drumming circle,” said MCC’s executive director, Ron Janzen.
Janzen went on to say everyone involved is saddened by the postponement. “Heartbreaking for everyone no question. Yeah this is, we felt so blessed by just the coming together of different groups on the event.”
The committee says it is in the process of considering a new date for the benefit.

SOURCE: http://www.cbc.ca/news/canada/manitoba/mennonite-central-committee-concert-postponed-because-of-ideological-clash-1.2836410

What is smudging?

“Many cultures and religions use sacred smoke made from the plant medicines. This is called smudging in Native America.

Often incense is burned during rituals, both for purification and to symbolize the prayers of the worshipper, which are then carried to the Creator along the smoke.

While much is written on the use of smudging to cleanse negative energy, one of its main purposes is to bring vision, aided by the sense of smell.

In ancient Greece, smudging formed part of the rituals to contact the dead, following long periods of fasting and silence. Their sacred smoke was born out of sulphur and minerals in lieu of herbs to part the veil between the worlds of the living and form a bridge to the other world.

Besides producing visions, smudging is used to purify tools and people before an important spiritual ceremony. It is also used to clear sacred space and open the soul before calling upon the Spirits and their healing powers.

The Elders say that the Spirits like the aroma produced when we burn sacred medicines.”

Source: SMUDGING AND THE FOUR SACRED MEDICINES
http://www.dancingtoeaglespiritsociety.org/medicines.php

Can the Mennonite Central Committee’s slide down the slippery slope of compromise be stopped if more brave, God fearing Christians stand up for biblical truth? (Also see: ‘Little affinity between native spirituality and Christianity,’ says pastor)

Mennonite College Dedicates New Prayer Labyrinth

A student walks the college’s new prayer labyrinth.

Hesston College dedicates prayer labyrinth

Hesston (Kan.) College and the local community now have a new place to go for quiet contemplation or prayer with the completion of Hesston College’s prayer labyrinth.
With candles lighting the path, the labyrinth was dedicated Oct. 30. Bible and ministry faculty member Michele Hershberger led participants through the labyrinth in prayer while local musician Ben Regier set the mood with guitar and mandolin music.
“The labyrinth provides a place to let go of resentments, worries and emotional hurts while walking towards the center of the labyrinth and then to receive God’s love and peace while walking away from the center,” said Hershberger.
Prayer labyrinths offer a way of praying that brings a person’s whole body into the prayer. Individuals walk toward the center of the labyrinth and back out – a physical action that serves as a reminder of the spiritual action they are taking.
“Our physical bodies and spiritual beings are interconnected,” said Clay Stauffer, Hesston College exercise science faculty and labyrinth committee member. “The labyrinth, with its walking and praying, activates this interconnectedness.”
The idea for a prayer labyrinth on the Hesston College campus started in 2002 when former physical education instructor Jen LeFevre returned from a sabbatical where she experienced a prayer labyrinth and thought it would fit well with campus values. LeFevre taught a physical education class called prayer walking where students walked around the campus and town focusing on contemplation, meditation and prayer.

Read more here:

https://themennonite.org/daily-news/hesston-college-dedicates-prayer-labyrinth/

[The Mennonite provides Anabaptist content and is a publication of Mennonite Church USA. The mission of The Mennonite is to help readers glorify God, grow in faith and become agents of healing and hope in our world.]

Also see the announcement at the Hesston College website, here:

PRAYER LABYRINTH DEDICATED AS A CAMPUS SACRED SPACE
http://www.hesston.edu/2014/11/prayer-labyrinth-dedicated-campus-sacred-space/

[Hesston College is a Christ-centered community where each student is educated and nurtured academically, socially and spiritually. As a two-year liberal arts college, we believe that your first two years should be treated as more than something to get out of the way. They should be seen as an opportunity to lay a solid foundation for the rest of your life.
Hesston College is affiliated with Mennonite Church USA and connects to the denomination through Mennonite Education Agency. The president of Hesston College is a member of the Council of Mennonite Colleges, an organization composed of the presidents of Mennonite colleges in the United States and Canada.]

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NOTE: To see other posts on Menno-lite regarding Mennonites and the Labyrinth, click HERE.

Mennonites ask ‘What is Truth?’

Recently, a reader e-mailed Menno-lite with concerns about Mennonite Church Canada. One of these included a portion of an article in The Canadian Mennonite[1] (called What is Truth?) that deals with contemplative spirituality in a positive light. The reader commented that . . .

“It is interesting that the MC Canada writer confirms what your blog has said all along, that contemplative spirituality leads to an interspiritual “religion”. This is not new, see Ezekiel 8 for the description of the first “interfaith worship center” that the temple was turned into.”

The following is a quote from The Canadian Mennonite article called “What is Truth?”:

“It has become clear that there is a need to have some truths upon which many can agree, and it has become clear that there are different ways of finding truth. These ways are not the old ways of an individual studying and developing truth, nor of an individual prophet receiving a revealed truth that all must obey.

Historians like Karen Armstrong have come to the conclusion that there is truth to be found by studying the wide experience of many people over time and space. In her book A History of God, Armstrong proposes that mystics past and present, Christian, Jewish, Muslim and beyond, have come to truths through lives of contemplation. These truths include:

• There is a god/God who can be approached, found and communicated with through contemplative prayer.
• This god/God works to change people from the inside out into empathic and love-driven workers for change in society.

Because she finds this in many religions, she does not depend on outside influences like religious texts and practice, or hierarchies, to influence people. Instead, god/God works from the inside out to influence and change people no matter which religion nurtured and matured them. The Golden Rule—“Do to others what you want them to do to you” (Matthew 7:12)—is an example of this. Jesus’ two great commandments—“Love the Lord your God with all your heart and with all your soul. Love him with all your strength and with all your mind.’ And, ‘Love your neighbour as you love yourself’ ” (Luke 10:25-28)—is a Jewish/Christian summary of the same.

At the Mennonite Church Canada biennial assembly in Winnipeg this summer, Betty Pries called on participants to turn to contemplative life, surrendering to God all of their lives; abiding in Christ, allowing God to free them from their attachments to anything other than God; and to incarnate Christ in their lives. This directly parallels Armstrong’s findings from her study of the Abrahamic faiths.”

SOURCE-“What is truth?”
By Dave Rogalsky
Eastern Canada Correspondent
Posted Oct. 22, 2014
http://www.canadianmennonite.org/articles/“what-truth”

What is truth?

Jesus said, in his high priestly prayer to the Father, “Sanctify them through thy truth: thy word is truth.” (John 17:17). Jesus is the Word; “In the beginning was the Word, and the Word was with God, and the Word was God” (John 1:1), “And the Word was made flesh, and dwelt among us… full of grace and truth” (John 1:14), “and his name is called The Word of God.” (Rev 19:13)

Jesus also said “I am the way, the truth, and the life, no man cometh unto the Father but by me.”(John 14:6) But the article in The Canadian Mennonite says it has become clear that there are different ways of finding truth. Are there?

Hear the word of the LORD, ye children of Israel: for the LORD hath a controversy with the inhabitants of the land, because there is no truth, nor mercy, nor knowledge of God in the land. (Hos 4:1).

For this cause also thank we God without ceasing, because, when ye received the word of God which ye heard of us, ye received it not as the word of men, but as it is in truth, the word of God, which effectually worketh also in you that believe. 1 Thessl 2:13

The article says the ways to find truth are not the old ways, as an individual prophet receiving a revealed truth that all must obey. Is this true?

And he gave unto Moses, when he had made an end of communing with him upon mount Sinai, two tables of testimony, tables of stone, written with the finger of God. Ex. 31:18

For whatsoever things were written aforetime were written for our learning, that we through patience and comfort of the scriptures might have hope. Romans 15:4

The article says that people need not depend on outside influences like religious texts and practice, or hierarchies, to influence them. Does God work from the inside out? Don’t we need the Bible to know truth?

I will worship toward thy holy temple, and praise thy name for thy lovingkindness and for thy truth: for thou hast magnified thy word above all thy name. Psa 138:2

But these are written, that ye might believe that Jesus is the Christ, the Son of God; and that believing ye might have life through his name. John 20:31

For the word of God is quick, and powerful, and sharper than any twoedged sword, piercing even to the dividing asunder of soul and spirit, and of the joints and marrow, and is a discerner of the thoughts and intents of the heart. Hebrews 4:12

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. Rev 22:19

In summary, truth is not found from contemplating within. God gave us a written record for us to read, by which we can know truth. His Word has been preserved through the ages for our benefit. Martyrs have died for it. Our entire Juedo-Christian system of Law is based on it. In it we find truth, because Jesus is the Word, and He is the truth. We cannot trust any other source that claims to be.

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[1] The Canadian Mennonite Mission statement: To educate, inspire, inform, and foster dialogue on issues facing Mennonites in Canada as it shares the good news of Jesus Christ from an Anabaptist perspective. We do this through a print publication (published 24 times a year) and through other media, working with our church partners. Canadian Mennonite serves primarily the people and churches of Mennonite Church Canada.