Mennonite Brethren still okay with Brian McLaren

It appears that the Mennonites are still praising the false teachings and ‘beautifully poetic moving’ ideas of Brian McLaren. In the Cross Currents section of the February 2015 issue of the MB Herald is a book review of the newest Brian McLaren book called We Make the Road by Walking: A Year-Long quest for Spiritual Formation, Reorientation and Activation. The review is written by Brad Sumner, regular writer for the MB Herald and pastor at a Mennonite Brethren church plant (Jericho Ridge, B.C. Canada). A mixture of light criticism and praise, the review leans toward applause and affirmation of the book’s commendable emphasis on spiritual formation among many other things – McLaren’s approach to scripture, emphasis on justice and nonresistance that resonates with the Mennonite Brethren, caring for creation, and enough ‘skillfully phrased’ family/child inclusive questions to sustain conversations for a year. The following excerpt is from the review:

Concerning reorientation toward the Bible

What will likely create some tension, however, is the elasticity with which McLaren treats the Bible itself. For him, Scripture seems to be an allegory of possibilities where factual truth and actual truth become interchangeable and sometimes intermingled.
McLaren has a tendency to denigrate biblical authority to make a contemporary point. For example, when discussing violence in the Old Testament, he indicates that “in the minds of the originators of these stories, God as they understood God did indeed command these things.” He goes on to suggest that what is truly important is how we understand God, not necessarily how the original writers or hearers heard or understood him…
As Mennonite Brethren, we have a very different outlook, as expressed in Article 2 of our CCMBC Confession of Faith: “We accept the Bible as the infallible Word of God and the authoritative guide for faith and practice.”

Community emphasis on activation

For those with an already firm view of biblical authority, the book holds wonderful benefit for personal contemplative reading…I could see the material being used as a post-Alpha learning circle that meets weekly to journey deeper into the themes of Scripture.
…on the whole, the book is pithy and full of vitality and worthwhile topics for conversation along the road.

Source:
http://mbherald.com/we-make-road-walking/

Why recommend ANY teacher who does not submit to the Bible as the inspired Word of God? Why promote the ‘skillfully phrased’ (some might say “hissed”) questions of a false teacher as a good source for teaching children and new Christians?

This review by Pastor Sumner, an avid reader and prolific blogger, is also posted at his blog Leadership Confessions, where admiration for Brian McLaren, whom Sumner calls “a sometimes controversial author and public theologian,” is expressed more than once. Previous book reviews and author promotions on his blog include (among many others) many such “controversial” authors. Such as Danny Silk of Bethel Church, Henri Nouwen, Parker Palmer, George Fox, Kathleen Norris, Ann Voskamp, Leonard Sweet, Gary Thomas, and Larry Crabb. Sumner also refers to “The Emotionally Healthy Church”, by Peter Scazzero, and Shane Claiborne’s “Common Prayer – A Liturgy For Ordinary Radicals” as ‘helpful’ books. Also included among his many postings is a quote from Understanding the Ennegram (“Psychology without spirituality is arid and ultimately meaningless, while spirituality without grounding in psychological work leads to vanity and illusions”). Many of these are authors are leaders in the emerging church and contemplative spirituality movements. The Ennegram, which quite a few of them also promote, is an occult tool.

There is an old quote by Oscar Wilde, whose life turned out to be a tragic mess, that goes like this: “It is what you read when you don’t have to that determines what you will be when you can’t help it.” Sadly, many of today’s pastors and Christian leaders read more books off the shelf than they do the books of the Bible.

“And further, by these, my son, be admonished: of making many books there is no end; and much study is a weariness of the flesh.” Ecclesiastes 12:12

It is time to weep and pray for the pastors.

“But we will give ourselves continually to prayer, and to the ministry of the word.” Acts 6:4

__________

Related:

*Find out more about Mennonites and McLaren’s book here:

McLaren’s New Book – A New Kind of Year Long Church Curriculum
https://mennolite.wordpress.com/2014/05/16/mclarens-new-book-a-new-kind-of-year-long-church-curriculum/

*Learn more about McLaren’s Bible interpretation methods and plans to influence children, here:

Muddy Emerging Convergence in Sunday School Curriculum
https://muddystreams.wordpress.com/2014/05/16/muddy-emerging-convergence-in-sunday-school-curriculum/

Note: to read previous articles on this blog about Mennonite and their enchantment with Brian McLaren, enter his name in the search box.

The “New” Evangelical Traditions

Are Lenten abstinences a rejection of the completed substitutionary atonement of Christ?

Former Roman Catholic T.A. McMahon writes:

I trusted in relics of dead so-called Saints; holy water; making the sign of the cross; votive candles; baptism for salvation (infant or otherwise); a “transubstantiated” piece of bread alleged to be Christ; apparitions of Mary; a scapular; a “miraculous medal”; statues and images of Jesus, Mary, and the saints; endless Rosaries, Novenas, the Stations of the Cross; abstaining from meat on Friday; Lenten abstinences; the Last Rites to get me into Purgatory and indulgences to get me out of Purgatory; Mass cards; graces dispensed from Mary; the confessional, with absolution of my sins by a priest; penance and personal suffering to purify me of my sin; worshiping a piece of bread at the Eucharistic Holy Hour; the Holy Father as the Vicar of Christ on earth, etc., etc. Therein lies a bondage that few evangelicals understand.
Many brush these things aside as non-essentials of the Christian faith or minor theological aberrations unique to Catholicism. Not true. They are essential to the gospel that Rome declares-a gospel of meritorious works that the Bible condemns (see Galatians, Romans, Ephesians, et al.) as a rejection of the completed substitutionary atonement of Christ our Savior. Catholicism’s Tradition, which is declared to be equal in authority to Scripture, is made up of those things (such as cited above) that are necessary for, or supportive of, a Catholic’s entrance into heaven.
According to the Word of God, anything that is added to Christ’s finished work on the cross is a denial of the gospel: that Christ paid the full penalty for the sins of humanity.

Source: Evangelical Mysticism?
McMahon, T.A
http://www.thebereancall.org/content/evangelical-mysticism

Why Lent?

Once again the Mennonite Brethren are promoting their new ancient tradition of Lent. In the February 2015 issue of the MB Herald[1] are two plugs. The first is an article by Norm Funk, founding pastor of Westside Church, Vancouver, B.C. (Canada). He begins with a very good question . . .

Why Lent, why Now?

There were certain traditions in my Mennonite Brethren upbringing; Lent wasn’t one of them.
So why Lent, and why now?
I’ve wrestled with this. Here’s my answer: my main motivation is birthed out of what I see as a lack of preparation and thoughtfulness connected to the Easter season.
Lent helps battle that tendency. Lent doesn’t just remind us of the cross; it prepares us for it.
Lent invites people to join Jesus on the way to the crucifixion. Fasts – one or many – assist in that process. Obviously, the joy of Good Friday comes because the tomb was empty Sunday; however, in the sacrament of communion we are called to remember Jesus’ death. . .

More here:

http://mbherald.com/lent-now/

[Note: The comment thread following this article at the above link is quite informative.]

We also discover in this same MB Herald issue that the MB Biblical Seminary Canada has produced a devotional resource for the MB family this Lent and Easter called “Waiting for the Resurrection: A Collection of Readings for Lent and Easter”.[2]

Turning toward the resurrection

“The resurrection changes everything,” says Jeff Peters, director of advancement at MB Biblical Seminary Canada. “Christians should spend time contemplating and celebrating this pivotal event.”
The seminary has produced a devotional resource for the MB family this Lent and Easter.
Available for download, “Waiting for the Resurrection: A Collection of Readings for Lent and Easter” contains forty-one 300–400 word devotionals reflecting on a Scripture passage.
For each of the six Sundays of the Lenten season, a poem, song, reflection or prayers from the history of the Christian church foster excitement about the coming resurrection.
Contributors are Canadian pastors, scholars and leaders from MB and other traditions.
The seminary resources the MB family in Canada with training and special initiatives like this devotional. A limited number of hard copies will be sent to churches and supporters. Donations to cover costs are welcome.

SOURCE: http://mbherald.com/turning-toward-resurrection/

The Mennonites who download the recommended devotional will now be taught through a collection of meditations about the new traditions of Lent (Lenten Season, Ash Wednesday, Maundy Thursday, Holy Saturday). The contributions of these Lenten Devotionals are from various Mennonite Brethren pastors and seminary leaders, and a few surprises, including one by Rachel Twigg Boyce[3], Pastor of House Blend Ministries in Winnipeg, Manitoba.

Why Lent? The answer appears to be obviously simple. The spread of ecumenical yeast seems to have spread through the whole lump of Mennonite dough.

____________

Endnotes:

[1] http://mbherald.com/february-2015-issue/
[2] http://www.mbseminary.ca/devotional
[3] For previous blog posts on Rachel Twigg-Boyce, see:
WHY IS THE MB HERALD FEATURING “A RADICAL PRAYER GATHERING” LED BY RACHEL TWIGG-BOYCE?
https://mennolite.wordpress.com/2011/01/19/why-is-the-mb-herald-featuring-a-radical-prayer-gathering-led-by-rachel-twigg-boyce/
Is the MB Conference Knowingly Condoning Ecumencial Inter-spiritual Practices?
https://mennolite.wordpress.com/2011/03/03/is-the-mb-conference-knowingly-condoning-ecumencial-inter-spiritual-practices/
More House Blend
https://mennolite.wordpress.com/2011/03/22/more-house-blend/
MB Herald promotes Ecumenism, New Monasticism
https://mennolite.wordpress.com/2011/01/10/mb-herald-promotes-ecumenism-new-monasticism/

____________

* Related blog posts on Mennonites and Lent:

Bent on Lent
https://mennolite.wordpress.com/2011/03/19/bent-on-lent/

Mennonites, Lent, and Spiritual Direction (Updated)
https://mennolite.wordpress.com/2011/03/21/mennonites-lent-and-spiritual-direction/

Lent, the New Mennonite Tradition
https://mennolite.wordpress.com/2014/03/05/lent-the-new-mennonite-tradition/

Researching The Labyrinth

As today’s Christians are justifying the revival of the ancient labyrinth in their universities, colleges, church camps, retreats, and youth conferences, here is some interesting research on its origins . . .

Proverbs 2 (KJV)

10 When wisdom entereth into thine heart, and knowledge is pleasant unto thy soul;

11 Discretion shall preserve thee, understanding shall keep thee:

12 To deliver thee from the way of the evil man, from the man that speaketh froward things;

13 Who leave the paths of uprightness, to walk in the ways of darkness;

14 Who rejoice to do evil, and delight in the frowardness of the wicked;

15 Whose ways are crooked, and they froward in their paths

‘Sacred Space Holy Time’ at Mennonite College

Another Mennonite youth labyrinth experience took place recently, this time at Rockway Mennonite Collegiate in Kitchener, Ontario.

Sacred Space Holy Time
by Lorie Williams
Rockway Mennonite Collegiate
KITCHENER, ONT.
Posted Jan. 28, 2015

On Friday, December 13, students in Ms. Bauman’s grade 10 Church History course had the unique opportunity of experiencing a prayer labyrinth.
Patricia Horst Wagler, a pastor and trained labyrinth facilitator, led students and staff in exploring the history of the labyrinth as a Christian tool for prayer. She explained the meaning and symbolism of the shape and various features of the labyrinth, and the benefits for many of an active, physical way to pray. She described walking the labyrinth as a way to focus the mind and give insight into one’s life and spiritual journey.
She then invited students to walk the labyrinth in silence. While this was a new experience for many students, they respected the silence, took their time and reflected thoughtfully on this experience of active prayer. Some found it a bit weird! Some found it calming, some noticed it helped them find clarity with a problem or decision, and some liked the way they could use their whole body to connect with God.
An open invitation was extended to anyone else who wanted to walk the labyrinth during their spare or at lunch during Friday’s Sabbath Space.
Warm thanks are extended to Patricia for helping us to create this sacred space and holy time.

SOURCE:
http://www.canadianmennonite.org/articles/sacred-space-holy-time

ALSO HERE:
http://rockway.ca/2015/01/13/sacred-space-holy-time/

Patricia Wagler, who led the grade 10 class through the labyrinth, was recently ordained (Jan. 11) at Tavistock Mennonite Church, where she is the associate pastor. She is also a labyrinth retreat workshop facilitator and a spiritual director, having received her spiritual formation and direction training from Jubilee Ontario. Wagler became a certified labyrinth facilitator through Veriditas, whose mission is to connect people with the labyrinth. This season of Lent (Feb. 18 – April 8 from 3 – 8 p.m. on Wednesdays) Tavistock Mennonite Church offers an open invitation to walk the labyrinth (www.tavistockmennonitechurch.ca).

What would Menno Simons say about that?

Related:

Labyrinths – Popping Up at Lots of Seminaries and Christian Colleges
http://www.lighthousetrailsresearch.com/blog/?p=7933

Labyrinth at USMB Youth Conference this Spring – UPDATE!!!

UPDATE!!! February 24th

Menno-lite was notified this morning that the Named 2015 committee had ‘recently decided to cancel the labyrinth’ but had neglected to remove the information about the labyrinth from the website.

They are to be commended for doing so, however, perhaps they should be asked to publish their reasons for putting it there in the first place, and for leaving it on the website after they had decided against it.

The alert will remain as posted as a reminder to pray for and keep the leaders of the Mennonite youth accountable. Bless the prayers of the faithful!

************

This April 9-12 the National Youth Conference of the US Conference of Mennonite Brethren Churches called NAMED 2015 will be held in Denver, Colorado.[1]

The following is one of the activities listed under “ATTRACTIONS” on the website of Named Denver 2015.[2]

PRAYER LABYRINTH

The Labyrinth is an interactive installation for spiritual journeys. It’s for anyone who wants a break from surfing the surface of culture to contemplate the deeper things of life. The Labyrinth reshapes a 12th-century ritual for the 21st century. Its maze-like path takes you on a symbolic journey, creates space to unwind and think—in particular about our relationships with ourselves, one another, our planet and God. Designed for young and old alike, it provides a mixture of rituals and visuals, of contemplative words and contemporary ambient music, of symbols and media to help guide the spiritual traveler.
Labyrinths were a feature of many medieval cathedrals, one of the best remaining examples is found in Chartres Cathedral in northern France. Unlike a maze they have only one path—there are no dead ends. People walk labyrinths slowly, as an aid to contemplative prayer and reflection, as a spiritual exercise or as a form of pilgrimage. This contemporary version includes music, meditations, art, media and symbolic activities at intervals along the path. Participants walk the Labyrinth with a MP3 player and headphones, in their own relaxing soundworld, at their own pace. Each track contains meditations, instructions and music relating to a part of Labyrinth.

SOURCE: http://www.Named2015.com/contentpages/32538/bc907310-f3d8-4d4a-b0a4-f2cb97b04af2/PrayerLabyrinth.aspx

This is not the first time that Mennonites have sent their youth to events where they learn to walk the labyrinth.[3] In fact, it is becoming increasingly more common. Is this spiritual trend something that youth should be exposed to at a Christian conference? Read the following links and decide.

LABYRINTHS, Prayer Paths That Promote the Occult
http://www.lighthousetrailsresearch.com/labyrinth.htm

Enter the labyrinth
http://www.letusreason.org/Nam30.htm

________
Endnotes:

[1] The National Youth Conference will be held April 9-12, 2015, at Hyatt Regency Downtown and Colorado Convention Center in Denver, Colo.
http://www.usmb.org/departments/National-Youth-Conference/page/named-2015.html
[2] http://www.Named2015.com/
[3] See previous posts:
Mennonite College Dedicates New Prayer Labyrinth
https://mennolite.wordpress.com/2014/11/15/mennonite-college-dedicates-new-prayer-labyrinth/
Children Experiencing Mennonite Labyrinth
https://mennolite.wordpress.com/2014/10/22/children-experiencing-mennonite-labyrinth/
Mennonite Brethren Sponsored University Promoting the Labyrinth and Taize?
https://mennolite.wordpress.com/2014/05/23/mennonite-brethren-sponsored-university-promoting-the-labyrinth/
Mennonite Labyrinths
https://mennolite.wordpress.com/2011/02/09/mennonite-labyrinths/
Mennonites and Prayer Labyrinths
https://mennolite.wordpress.com/2011/10/27/mennonites-and-prayer-labyrinths/
MB YOUTH SOARING WITH CONTEMPLATIVE MINISTRY?
https://mennolite.wordpress.com/2013/05/31/mb-youth-soaring-with-contemplative-ministry/

Mennonites and the Eco-Gospel

A new collaboration of Mennonite Church Canada and Canadian Mennonite University called the CommonWord Book Store and Resource Center[1] just opened at the beginning of this year. On their website they state that they are “passionate about Anabaptist resources for the home and congregation,” however, what can be found there is a plethora of spirituality, from earth worship and indigenous peoples resources to contemplative spiritual formation curriculum and resources by emergent church leaders. Within the virtual walls of this library are enough non-anabaptist resources to make Menno Simons roll over in his grave. For example, the closest Brian McLaren (whose materials fill their web pages) comes to “anabaptist” is his Plymouth Brethren roots.

Shortly after opening, the top ten most popular resources[2] at CommonWord included Heaven is for Real: Based on the incredible True Story DVD[3], Buffalo Shout, Salmon Cry: Conversations on Creation, Land Justice, and Life Together[4], Sacred Pauses: Spiritual Practices for Personal Renewal by April Yamasaki[5], and Falling Upward: A Spirituality for the Two Halves of Life (Curriculum) by Richard Rohr[6].

While there may be some biblical resources to be found at CommonWord, more commonly there appears to be a lack of materials that teach the power of God and His Word. For example, Becoming an Energy Saint is a video that was promoted this January on CommonWord’s New Resources page[7]).

Is this environmental message of eco-theology truly what some Mennonites want in their church congregations as a teaching resource?

Carl Teichrib, researcher and writer, confirms that the interfaith green gospel has not only invaded Mennonite organizations, but many church denominations.

“Today’s Christian community is rife with green social and political messages, eco-theology, and interfaith action on the environment. Examples abound, such as the G8 World Religious Summit of 2010, a major interfaith meeting with strong representation from across the Protestant/evangelical spectrum, working in cooperation with world religions to push global green governance and a form of eco-spirituality.
Another example is the commissioned Mennonite Central Committee report, Earth Trek: Celebrating and Sustaining God’s Creation. In it we discover a combination of questionable theology, pantheistic-based messages, troubling political and social activism, mystical meditations and texts on the sacredness of Earth, the promotion of family planning through the United Nations Fund for Population Activities (part of the global abortion industry), favorable connections to The Earth Charter Foundation and Friends of the Earth – and at the end of the book we find this suggestion; “this week, make an offering to the earth, in the form of a prayer or some other gift.” (bold in original)
In Canada, the United Church sings “O Beautiful Gaia” – a song to the Greek goddess of Earth – as found in their More Voices hymnal. Across North America congregations hold Earth Day services, hear sermons on global warming, and engage in environmental campaigns. Example after example could be given. It’s like we’re facing a tsunami of green.”

SOURCE: Bridging Faith and Earth
By Carl Teichrib (www.forcingchange.org)
https://forcingchange.wordpress.com/2015/01/24/bridging-faith-and-earth/

Have some Christians, perhaps in name only, gone so far from their roots that they don’t know who they truly are in Christ? One can only pray that such souls will turn away from the earthy green gospel and turn their hearts to the Maker of heaven and earth.
_____

Endnotes:

[1] http://www.commonword.ca/Home
[2] http://www.commonword.ca/MostPopularResources
[3] Is “Heaven Is for Real” for Real?: An Exercise In Discernment
http://www.thebereancall.org/content/heaven-real-real-exercise-discernment-0
[4] http://www.commonword.ca/ResourceView/2/16064
[5] See: Pausing to Examine Sacred Pauses https://mennolite.wordpress.com/2013/07/27/pausing-to-examine-sacred-pauses/
[6] This book by Franciscan Priest Richard Rohr is endorsed by Dr Mehmet Oz, Brian McLaren, Cynthia Bourgeault
http://www.amazon.com/Falling-Upward-Spirituality-Halves-Life/dp/0470907754
[7] http://www.commonword.ca/ResourceView/48/17430