One can find out such amazing things by reading the MB Herald. For example, on the back of the October 2010 issue is a full page ad for Regenerate 2101 that says:
Imagine what it would be like to live like the first-century church in the 21st-century
Visit http://www.regenerate2101.ca to learn more, be inspired, share stories, and watch the video
This web address brings you here, to the MB Conference website where we find out what Regenerate is:
Regenerate 21-01 is a name given to the idea of looking to the first century church – the stories we read about in the book of Acts – and applying their dynamics to our current communities.
We believe this simple idea can help align our churches with what God has intended for his Church. This concept will manifest itself differently in every community, and bring us closer to the ideals Jesus set in motion 2,000 years ago.
The Regenerate blog reveals further what ideas the MB churches are aligning themselves with – but is it what God has intended for the church, or more evidence of how widespread contemplative spirituality within the MB denomination has become? We really begin to wonder as we read the September 15th entry called Artisan: breathing the Psalms. It’s about an ancient practice of prayer at Artisan, a newly formed church plant of the BCMB Conference that meets in the downtown Vancouver Public Library.
This summer they began a 10 week series called Inhale/Exhale: Learning to Breathe the Psalms, led by pastor Nelson Boschman, who was inspired by the contemplative Eugene Peterson, famed author of the paraphrase called The Message.
The ten-week series featured guest speaker Steve Imbach, spiritual director and retreat facilitator from Soul Stream. A prayer gathering provided an additional pathway for people to pray the Psalms at SOMA Underground, (a church planting hub). The Regenerate 2101 blog article says that:
“In keeping with their normal practice, leaders used the ancient Lectio Divina format, a way Christians have prayed Scriptures for centuries. Lectio Divina is a method of engaging Scripture that involves reading, meditation, responsive prayer, and contemplation.
“Those who came out found it a meaningful rhythm in their week,” said Boschman.
“They found that praying the Psalms with others is an even richer experience than praying them alone. Others see and hear things in the prayers that we don’t, so there is a mutual enrichment as we engage the same Psalm together in community.”
The plan for the fall is to continue the weekly morning prayer gatherings but to alternate between Lectio Divina (inward focus) and Intercessory Prayer (outward focus…) “
A meaningful rhythm? Seeing and hearing things? Have they all gone daft? Lectio Divina, latin for ‘Divine Reading’ is an ancient prayer method formerly popular only among Roman Catholics and gnostics that involves relaxation, breathing, concentration and slow repetition of a phrase, or mantra. As a practice that is hauntingly similar to meditation exercises used in Eastern religions and New Age circles, it’s goal is to aid the practitioner in hearing ‘God’s voice.’ The danger, obviously, lies in whether or not this opens one’s mind up to hearing voices that are not God’s.
Even so, the MB Conference appears to condone and even spread this practice, time and time again, as Lectio Divina and contemplative spiritual formation continues to flood every congregation and ministry under its umbrella. So much for shelter and covering from false teaching.
The guest speaker who provided this “additional pathway” (there is no such thing mentioned in the Bible) by teaching the Lectio Divina method at the Artisan Inhale/Exhale series, Steve Imbach, co-founded the contemplative SoulStream in 2002 to provide connection and support for those seeking a contemplative community through spiritual direction training, retreats and courses in the Vancouver area.
You can read more about Soul Stream in yesterday’s article.
Getting back to Regenerate’s slogan, Imagine what it would be like to live like the first-century church in the 21st-century, we just have to ask the MB Conference leaders and their church plant pastors if this is actually how they imagine the first century church lived, since the Roman Catholic church, Benedictine rules and rhythms, 16th century Ignatius of Loyola, the medieval tradition of Lectio Divina, and the contemplative spirituality of Roman Catholic mystics did not exist yet, and Christians in the first century church were killed for believing in only one pathway to prayer through Jesus Christ. Even the desert fathers, who get the credit for many of these practices, weren’t around til the 3rd century.
Is it time for these false teachings and half truths to be challenged instead of swallowed as the whole truth?
Are we watching a return to the teachings of the same Roman Catholicism that Menno Simons renounced, as we see Mennonites becoming Benedictine Oblates and having a dialogue with Roman Catholics instead of telling them the truth?
With all this post-modern ancient/new contemplative spiritual formation emerging in Mennonite-ville, it looks like it’s time for a modern day non-conformist to step into a phone booth and don the good old Menno Simons super hero cape – before it’s too late.
“And I heard another voice from heaven saying, ‘Come out of her, my people, lest you share in her sins, and lest you receive of her plagues. For her sins have reached to heaven, and God has remembered her iniquities'” (Revelation 18:4,5)
What is Lectio Divina?
Contemplative Spirituality Comes to Modern Day Christianity
re: Inhaling and Exhaling:
Whether it’s inhaling and exhaling with a meditation mantra during yoga or Zen meditation, or doing the breathing relaxation exercises of contemplative/centering prayer, the results and effect on the mind are the same. Some do it to meet their spirit guides in the inner silence, some say they meet Jesus in that quiet place within. The questions is, how would you know whose voice you are hearing if Satan appears as an angel of light and his servants as ministers of righteousness (2 Cor. 11:14,15)?
Challenge: For those who have been led to believe that contemplative prayer is biblical, please spend some time reading on meditation websites (using discernment) and compare the relaxation steps and meditation exercises with those methods taught in “Christian” spiritual formation and contemplative prayer. You may find that they are exactly the same.
re: Why the MB leadership will turn a blind eye to blogs like this…
Menno is on a Roll