MB Priorities

The following is an excerpt from page 24 of the latest MB Herald ( October 2010) issue. This is priority number three on the MB board’s list from an article called Moderator’s minute: Three words, three rocks:

3. Seminary: With MB Biblical Seminary being reabsorbed into Fresno Pacific University, we’re asking how to develop long-term, effective, and sustainable MB leadership training in Canada. Currently, MBBS-ACTS (Langley, B.C.) and Canadian Mennonite University (Winnipeg) provide training. The board’s seminary commission appreciates your input about this need. What should church leadership training for MBs in Canada look like in the future?

My hope is that you will take a moment to pray for the larger family and participate with interest as you are able. The board invites your thoughtful responses to these questions in preparation for our meeting Oct. 15–17. Please email to MBboard@mbconf.ca.”

-Paul Loewen, moderator of the executive board of the Canadian Conference of the MB Churches

Paul Loewen is correct, this is a very important rock which needs prayerful consideration and research. Are MBBS-ACTS and Canadian Mennonite University theologically and biblically solid places for future church leaders and pastors to be trained? We’ve already begun to see the effects of the emergent/contemplative influence inside Christian universities and seminaries as a new breed of pastors and church leaders are filling pulpits and leadership positions. The Mennonite Brethren lay people should be very concerned. When they were asked for their responses, did Mennonites take this rare chance to review the facts and let their voices be heard?

It may be too late to respond to this particular MB Herald questionaire, but it’s never too late to speak up.

Please consider the following concerns about Canadian Mennonite University regarding their promotion of contemplative spirituality and the teachings of the emerging church:

CMU offers their students Spiritual Direction (see Spiritual Life) and various syllabuses and retreats based on contemplative spiritual formation. These are taught by Gerry Ediger [Richard Foster fan] and Irma Fast Dueck [participant in Muslim-Christian dialogue (sponsored by MCC), and Mennonite-Catholic dialogue groups].

CMU’s Refreshing Winds Committee is welcoming Brian McLaren on January 3-5, 2011 as their plenary conference speaker (page 17, The Blazer, Winter 2010 issue).
*See ad here: http://www.cmu.ca/conferences.html#refresh

They also just had a ‘desert fathers’ (and desert mothers) lecture which was promoted here:

October 19-20, 2010
Dr. Belden Lane, Saint Louis University
From Desert Christians to Mountain Refugees: Fierce Landscapes and Counter-Cultural Spirituality

October 19, 11:00 AM Places on the Edge: The Power of Desert/Mountain Terrain in Christian Thought
October 19, 7:30 PM The Counter-Cultural Spirituality of the Desert Fathers for Today
October 20, 11:00 AM Fire in the Desert: Learning from the Desert Mothers
http://www.cmu.ca/publiclectures.html

Should protecting students from Roman Catholic spiritual formation and mysticism and the heretical teachings of emerging church leaders like Brian McLaren be a priority of the MB Conference?

Here are some concerns about MBBS-ACTS at TWU regarding their promotion of the emerging church, Roman Catholic mysticism and contemplative spirituality:

First of all, ACTS Seminaries is a partnership of five seminaries in an integrated multi-denominational learning environment. “ACTS” stands for Associated Canadian Theological Schools. These five represent the Graduate School of Theological Studies of Trinity Western University:

Canadian Baptist Seminary
Canadian Pentecostal Seminary (became affiliated with TWU in 1996)
Mennonite Brethren Biblical Seminary (joined ACTS in 1999)
Northwest Baptist Seminary
Trinity Western Seminary

All partners agree on fundamental biblical principles, and all courses are accessible to students enrolled in any of the partnering seminaries.

But there is another partner not mentioned on the above list:

Why Study Catholic Studies at TWU?
In Spring 2008, TWU approved a Catholic studies minor in the Christianity and Culture program comprised of courses entirely by Redeemer Pacific College, a Roman Catholic college affiliated with TWU, located next to the main campus.
http://twu.ca/undergraduate/academics/catholic-studies.html

Here is a sample of what happens at Redeemer Pacific College which is now affiliated with Trinity Western University (Eucharist adoration, veneration of Mary, and daily mass):

Eucharist Adoration
Come to RPC Spring Retreat this Sunday Jan 17
The Spring Retreat is this Sunday!! We will be going to Westminster Abbey. This retreat will focus on the Eucharist; what we believe as Catholics and how we can apply this belief to our everyday lives. There will be talks by Fr. Gabriel, Dr. Stackpole and time for quiet prayer and reflection, Eucharistic Adoration and Benediction, a very funny skit, and yummy pizza!!

A Marian Conference:
The BC/Yukon KofC and RPC Present: Mary, Mother of All Christians and Her Son’s Message for the Americas
http://www.rpcollege.bc.ca/index.php?page=conferences

Spiritual Life at RPC

In his 1997 apostolic constitution on universities, Ex Corde Ecclesiae, Pope John Paul II emphasized that Catholic universities should fully integrate faith into all aspects of university life. He also encouraged the whole university community to regularly participate in the sacraments, especially the celebration of the Eucharist.
RPC students, staff and faculty form an intimate Catholic community rooted in the common bond of faith and sacraments. Students attend daily mass, participate in Eucharistic adoration, make frequent confessions and receive spiritual direction. Our spiritual activities include annual retreats, prayer meetings, Bible studies and faith formation based on the Catechism of the Catholic Church.

RPC Chapel
Christ can quite literally be found at the heart of Redeemer Pacific College. All students, staff, and faculty are encouraged to come to the Chapel and spend time in prayer with Jesus in the Blessed Sacrament any time the College is open. Throughout the day many students come to spend some quiet moments with Christ in prayer before the Blessed Sacrament, while students who live on campus are able to visit the Blessed Sacrament after regular office hours.
http://www.rpcollege.bc.ca/index.php?page=spiritual-life

How does this fit in with the ACTS “all partners agree on fundamental biblical principles” clause? Is ecumenism a concern to the MB leadership in regards to this campus? What about the doctrinal differences between Christianity and Roman Catholicism? Is it a compromise to refrain from telling Catholics the truth? What about contemplative spirituality or ancient Roman Catholic mysticism? Should it be a priority of the MB Conference to teach students and future leaders to stand for the truth and contend for the faith? Or should they lead them into spiritual compromise?

The TWU campus appears to be overflowing with it:


Chapel at Trinity Western University – Some Concerns

http://muddystreams.wordpress.com/2010/09/28/chapel-at-trinity-western-university/

The Muddy Waters of a Bible Seminary Course
http://muddystreams.wordpress.com/2009/08/04/the-muddy-waters-of-a-bible-seminary-course/

Is Trinity Western University helping to Pave the Thomas Merton Pathway?
http://muddystreams.wordpress.com/2010/03/25/english-professor-at-trinity-western-university-is-thomas-merton-expert/

Is ‘The Still Point’ of Interspiritualist Thomas Merton being promoted at TWU?
http://muddystreams.wordpress.com/2010/04/26/is-the-still-point-of-interspiritualist-thomas-merton-being-promoted-at-twu/

These are NOT minor issues, especially if the October MB Herald has been any indication (if you have been reading this blog you will have seen how emerging/contemplative spirituality and Roman Catholic mysticism has already spread through the MB seminaries and churches). It is obviously not one of the top priorities of the Mennonite Brethren leadership to separate themselves from the doctrines of Roman Catholicism, which Menno Simons clearly spoke against and renounced. The only rock Christians need to be grounded on is Jesus Christ (not Saint Peter, Rome, or the papacy). To which “rock” are the new leaders and pastors (that are emerging from these Christian universities) going to be leading the Mennonite people if this continues?

Related:

Eucharistic Adoration
http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=ZE0ysu_35bc

ANOTHER JESUS? – ROGER OAKLAND
1:04:22 – 1 year ago
Pope John Paul II has called for a new evangelization focused on the Eucharistic Christ. According to Roman Catholic teaching, the Eucharist is the central component of the Mass and the source and summit of Christianity. It is believed that when a priest consecrates the Communion bread, the wafer is no longer bread, but the actual body, blood, soul, and divinity of Jesus Christ. Rome teaches that Jesus is literally and bodily present wherever a consecrated Host is found. Therefore, hundreds of thousands of Catholic churches claim that Jesus is present in their eucharistic tabernacle or monstrance.
Watch here:
http://video.google.com/videoplay?docid=1440171899401190627#

Advertisements

19 thoughts on “MB Priorities

  1. Wow, I guess some people are still buying completely into the “fall paradigm” – the rather arrogant assumption that the church fell into corruption after the 2nd century and did not come to its senses until mennon simmons came around. Are you really saying that God did not communicate anything significant for 15 centuries. Can we not learn from the dessert fathers, from the catholic spiritual tradition without buying into everything the catholic church is saying? Are we heretics because we talk about lent, or read Henri Nouwen?

    There is a way to engage with differing viewpoints without buying into the whole program. This type of closed-mindedness towards learning from others thwarts our spiritual growth and contradicts our ecumenical mandate John 17 to seek unity among believers. I find this type of blog post especially ignorant in a post-vatican II / post “Evangelicals and Catholics Together,” world.

    • Philip,

      “There is a way to engage with differing viewpoints without buying into the whole program.”

      You are correct, it’s called ‘compromise.’

  2. Phil,

    Sure we can read and learn from the dessert fathers. Where are the people demonstrating the discernment that you’re talking about? Over here in Saskatchewan, there’s an MB church experimenting with Taize worship and nobody in leadership is saying a word about discernment or “not buying into everything they say”. I don’t see the call to discernment you’re talking about anywhere in those who are promoting the Catholic Spiritual Traditions but if you can point me to someone making that call (beyond this blog), I’d be delighted to learn about it.

    Also, I’m wondering where Vatican II (or the ECT) the Catholics repealed their teachings for which the reformation occured? (i.e. on the eucharist, justification by faith, purgatory, etc.)

    When did the Catholic church repent of their false teaching? As far as I know, they’re still blasting those trumpets over at Catholic Answers and in “Upon This Rock”. Rome is still a false church. That means that we don’t seek unity with them because they’re unbelievers. That means that we don’t seek to learn from their spiritual traditions because their spirituality is decorated paganism.

  3. First, where do you see paganism, or catholic eucharistic theology in a Taize service? Have you ever been to one? It is a service of prayer, silence, and reflection on scripture. I’m putting on a Taize service next month at my church and it has a track record of being very spiritually edifying for us. Maybe the reason why the leaders at this church in Saskatchewan are not saying anything about the Taize service is because there is nothing that needs to be said.

    We cannot write off 15 centuries of Christian history because of some of the problems within it. I mean you are even calling out Richard Foster sympathizers heretics? Have you even read a Celebration of Discipline? The introduction clearly places the spiritual disciplines in the context of the gospel of grace. You were looking for an example of discernment on integrating catholic spirituality with evangelicalism – why don’t you begin by reading some of the authors like Foster, that you have so carelessly labeled as heretics.

    You literally say in your response that catholic “spirituality is decorated paganism.” Certainly there are examples of catholic spirituality that I question – I disagree with there eucharistic theology, but catholic reflections the disciplines of prayer, silence, fasting etc are not pagan.

    One of the reason evangelicals are drawing on the catholic spiritual tradition is because we have been weak on this point. There was only one evangelical seminary that offered a course on spiritual discernment in North America, when I was a student, yet you would think that would be a pretty central topic.

    • Philip,

      You may not see the Eucharist theology at a Taize service, but you will see more than a few icons and hear a few repetitive chants, depending on how authentic the service is.

      Icons in worship
      http://www.taize.fr/en_article340.html

      Learning the chants
      http://www.taize.fr/en_article10308.html

      The Taize website tells us that the purpose of chanting is to bring the participant into a meditative state:

      “Meditative singing
      Singing is one of the most essential elements of worship. Short songs, repeated again and again, give it a meditative character. Using just a few words they express a basic reality of faith, quickly grasped by the mind. As the words are sung over many times, this reality gradually penetrates the whole being. Meditative singing thus becomes a way of listening to God. It allows everyone to take part in a time of prayer together and to remain together in attentive waiting on God, without having to fix the length of time too exactly.”

      There are quite a few MB churches that are having Taize services. As you probably know, the ecumenical Taize Community consists of those with both Catholic and protestant backgrounds. The National Catholic Reporter calls it a joint Protestant and Catholic monastic order. See here:

      Another tribute for Taizé from the Vatican
      http://ncronline.org/blogs/ncr-today/another-tribute-taiz%C3%A9-vatican

      Brother Roger was as close to the Catholic faith as you can get without converting to it, and:

      “subscribed fully to the Catholic faith… From a Protestant background, Brother Roger undertook a step that was without precedent since the Reformation: entering progressively into a full communion with the faith of the Catholic Church”
      -Brother Roger: Full Communion, Not Conversion
      http://www.zenit.org/article-16977?l=english

      And here is that eucharist theology you mentioned:

      “Brother Roger shared the Catholic belief in the real presence of Christ in the Eucharist.”
      -Shared Communion: Brother Roger’s death spotlights perennial issue
      http://www.catholicnews.com/data/stories/cns/0504883.htm

      And Philip, in regards to your statement, “I mean you are even calling out Richard Foster sympathizers heretics?”

      Could you please point out where this was said? I must have missed it. Thank you. And by the way, I’m not sure who your question was addressed to, but if I may answer that one, I have read Celebration of Discipline. As popular as he is, Richard Foster is hardly an example of discernment for Christians to follow.

      • The idea that Foster is un-orthodox is implied in the following post when the author critiques Gerry Ediger simply because he is a “Richard Foster fan.” This includes a link to a former post where Richard Foster is called out as a false teacher for discussing mindfulness. You are right to ask for clarification. Richard Foster is not called out as a heretic verbally but this post implies that he is teaching false ideas, which is how I think we define heresy.

        In regards to Taize services, I’m not entirely sure what your point is when you bring in Brother Roger’s view on the Eucharist. Essentially you seem to argue that people from the Taize community buy into the catholic view of the Eucharist, therefore we cannot borrow or learn from any aspect of there worship life. The point I’ve been trying to make is that we can be nurtured by this tradition without buying fully into the whole thing. You insist on arguing that dialogue and engagement with people from other denominations must = compromise, but I don’t buy it. We can gain insights from some aspects of another tradition without compromising what are essentials to the faith.

        The other issue you seem to have with Taize worship is that it evokes the practice of meditation. I do not see anything implicitly unchristian about meditating on God. So perhaps that is where the conversation needs to go. What in particular do you find unbiblical about the discipline of meditation. Why is Taize music singled out as pagan when contemporary worship music, or hymns, for that matter, employ repetition for the purpose of meditating on the truth about God. Meditating day and night on the law of God is part of Jewish spirituality in the Old Testament (Joshua 1:8). And where do I begin with the psalms? Here are just a few examples:

        fPsalm 1:2

        But his delight is in the law of the LORD, and on his law he meditates day and night.

        Psalm 19:13-14

        Keep your servant also from willful sins; may they not rule over me. Then will I be blameless, innocent of great transgression. May the words of my mouth and the meditation of my heart be pleasing in your sight, O LORD, my Rock and my Redeemer.

        Psalm 39:3-4

        My heart grew hot within me, and as I meditated, the fire burned; then I spoke with my tongue:

        “Show me, O LORD, my life’s end and the number of my days; let me know how fleeting is my life.

        Psalm 48:9

        Within your temple, O God, we meditate on your unfailing love.

        Psalm 77:12

        I will meditate on all your works and consider all your mighty deeds.

        Psalm 104:34

        May my meditation be pleasing to him, as I rejoice in the LORD.

        Psalm 119:14-16

        I rejoice in following your statutes as one rejoices in great riches. I meditate on your precepts and consider your ways. I delight in your decrees; I will not neglect your word.

        Psalm 119:23

        Though rulers sit together and slander me, your servant will meditate on your decrees.

        Psalm 119:26-27

        I recounted my ways and you answered me; teach me your decrees. Let me understand the teaching of your precepts; then I will meditate on your wonders.

        Psalm 119:34

        Give me understanding, and I will keep your law and obey it with all my heart.

        Psalm 119:48

        I lift up my hands to your commands, which I love, and I meditate on your decrees.

        Psalm 119:73

        Your hands made me and formed me; give me understanding to learn your commands.

        Psalm 119:78

        May the arrogant be put to shame for wronging me without cause; but I will meditate on your precepts.

        Psalm 119:97

        Oh, how I love your law! I meditate on it all day long.

        Psalm 119:99

        I have more insight than all my teachers, for I meditate on your statutes.

        Psalm 119:125

        I am your servant; give me discernment that I may understand your statutes.

        Psalm 119:144

        Your statutes are forever right; give me understanding that I may live.

        Psalm 143:5

        I remember the days of long ago; I meditate on all your works and consider what your hands have done.

        Psalm 119:148

        My eyes stay open through the watches of the night, that I may meditate on your promises.

        Psalm 119:169

        May my cry come before you, O LORD; give me understanding according to your word.

        Psalm 145:4-6

        One generation will commend your works to another; they will tell of your mighty acts. They will speak of the glorious splendor of your majesty, and I will meditate on your wonderful works.

      • Seriously?… “implies” and “I think” and “how I think we define heresy”?

        The only teacher that has been called a heretic on this blog is Brian McLaren, which is fair game as he has called the Cross false advertising for God and has endorsed a book called Reimagining Christianity, a book by Alan Jones that calls the doctrine of the Cross a vile doctrine, for starters.

        The only reference of heresy to Richard Foster on this blog is a quote by Garry Gilly (Re: Foster and Beebe’s book), where he said of this book:

        “The book is, for the most part, a collage of apostates and their heretical teachings. Included are: Origen, Thomas Merton, Francis of Assisi, Ignatius of Loyola, Julian of Norwich, George Fox, Friedrich Schleiermacher, Teresa of Avila, St. John of the Cross, among others “

        Regarding your Taize questions; you had asked, “First, where do you see paganism, or catholic eucharistic theology in a Taize service?” I simply answered that question and showed you where Catholic eucharist theology was in Taize by going straight to the theology of its founder Brother Roger from the Taize, France website, and the Catholic websites. (I also did this for the benefit of all those reading who don’t know much about Taize.)

        Regarding meditation, there is biblical meditation, where we fill our minds with God’s Word and think on His precepts, and there is contemplative meditation, where the mind is emptied and quieted in order to find the silence within where God will speak. As I am officially out of time, here is an explanation of this Silence.

    • Philip,

      They certainly have complicated things, have they not? Such as points 5 and 14:

      5.The present Joint Declaration has this intention: namely, to show that on the basis of their dialogue the subscribing Lutheran churches and the Roman Catholic Church[9] are now able to articulate a common understanding of our justification by God’s grace through faith in Christ. It does not cover all that either church teaches about justification; it does encompass a consensus on basic truths of the doctrine of justification and shows that the remaining differences in its explication are no longer the occasion for doctrinal condemnations.
      14.The Lutheran churches and the Roman Catholic Church have together listened to the good news proclaimed in Holy Scripture. This common listening, together with the theological conversations of recent years, has led to a shared understanding of justification. This encompasses a consensus in the basic truths; the differing explications in particular statements are compatible with it.

      Unfortunately, the end result of dialogue (common listening) is always compromise.

      “You do not dialogue truth, you teach truth, you dialogue compromise.”
      – Dean Gotcher, DIALECTIC AND PRAXIS: DIAPRAX AND THE END OF THE AGES, VOLUME II
      http://www.authorityresearch.com/file%20dean%20gotcher/iar%20dean%20gotcher%20paper.htm

      Of course they believe in Christ (point 5). The issue is whether they believe in CHRIST ALONE.

      “Those who are justified are saved and salvation is a free gift (Rom. 6:23), something we cannot earn (Eph. 2:1-10). However, Roman Catholic doctrine denies justification by faith alone…
      In the Catechism of the Catholic Church (CCC), par. 2010 it says,
      “Moved by the Holy Spirit and by charity, we can then merit for ourselves and for others the graces needed for our sanctification.”
      How does anyone merit for himself the underserved kindness of God’s grace? Grace is by definition unmerited favor. “
      – The Roman Catholic view on justification
      http://carm.org/roman-catholic-view-justification

      This is another gospel and another Jesus, and there are many more resources about that here:

      Roman Catholic Teaching on Justification
      http://www.monergism.com/directory/link_category/Justification/Roman-Catholic-Teaching-on-Justification/

      And here is another link for you to read regarding that Lutheran/Catholic understanding:

      The Papacy—Why The Lutheran Confessions Assert it is Antichrist
      http://cyberbrethren.com/2008/07/27/the-papacy%E2%80%94why-the-lutheran-confessions-assert-it-is-antichrist/

      • “You do not dialogue truth, you teach truth, you dialogue compromise.”

        I guess we just have a very different view of theological method. How did we come to know what was true. Study the great ecumenical counsels of the church – the central doctrines of the Christian faith regarding the nature of Jesus, the trinity, and salvation involved great dialogue and debate within the ecclessial community. So history proves this quote wrong. Through dialogue the church formulated the truth that you espouse.

        I suspect you will reply with an appeal to Sola Scriptura. The notion that the bible is where we get truth, not the traditions of the church. However, the scripture itself is the the product of an active dialogue in the Christian tradition.

    • Well, I’m not surprised by that statement. There’s nothing shocking in there, though that makes me I wonder if you understand the differences between “Justification” in Roman Catholic and Protestant theology. Maybe it’s time you actually dig through some of the reformers who wrote about justification; their followers didn’t die for a theological hiccup.

      You maybe need to understand that Rome hasn’t really changed their position since the reformation, though there are several self-styled Catholic apologists like Robert Sungenis, Patrick Madrid, Karl Keating, Mark Shea and Scott Hahn (and a fair amount of Catholic Bloggers, like Matthew Bellasario) who have learned to phrase Catholic belief in language that confuses and misleads Protestants.

      An example of this is the statement:

      “Together we confess: By grace alone, in faith in Christ’s saving work and not because of any merit on our part, we are accepted by God and receive the Holy Spirit, who renews our hearts while equipping and calling us to good works.”

      That sounds pretty solid, but I’ve heard Robert Sungenis, Mitch Pacwa, and other RC apologists/priests explain exactly what a statement like that means according to the Vatican.

      They have multiple “kinds” of grace, multiple “kinds” of faith, multiple kinds of “merit”, a differing meanings of words like “alone” “accepted”, “receive”, “renew”, “hearts”, and “good works”.

      Matt Slick had a recent debate with Robert Sungenis where this came out in rather stark, and suprising ways. James White has been reviewing the programs on the Alpha and Omega podcast and they’ve been very enlightening. I’d encourage you to listen to it.

  4. “I am the way, the truth, and the life: no man cometh unto the Father, but by me.”
    -Jesus (John 14:6)

    Oopsy. Looks like Jesus said He was the truth before the church counsels or church/Christian traditions existed.

    And this is what those who knew Him taught, and were persecuted for teaching:

    “And daily in the temple, and in every house, they ceased not to teach and preach Jesus” Christ. Acts 5:42

    Note that they didn’t teach contemplative spirituality, the rules of life, ecumenical chanting, or borrowing from other religions.

    In other words, we get to know truth from The Truth, Jesus, who is the living Word (John 1:1, Hebrews 4:12).

    Scripture is the product of the inspiration of the Holy Spirit.

    “All scripture is given by inspiration of God, and is profitable for doctrine, for reproof, for correction, for instruction in righteousness” 2 Timothy 3:16

    This I know because the Bible tells me so.

    • Yes Jesus is the Truth! But he is also the Way and the Life. I find it interesting that only one of those three things are highlighted in your response. What then does it mean to preach Jesus? Yes we preach him as the truth – namely that through him we have salvation. But in Jesus we also find a way of living, and we find a life of communion with God. Paul illustrates this for us in Romans. Romans 1-11 is doctrine and Romans 12-16 shows how this doctrine influences our worship and our ethics. So I suspect that the early church did in fact teach contemplative spirituality – Jesus did when he taught his disciples how to pray. And the early church did follow a rule of life – notice in Acts 3:1 that they had scheduled hours of prayer at 3 in the afternoon. Maybe those Benedictines have some biblical wisdom to there rule of life after all!

      I appreciate your emphasis on the word. I agree with you that we find truth in scripture. I just think that we need to realize that how we received the scriptures and how we interpret scriptures is done in community. We are sharpened through dialogue. An individual approach to interpretation – where it is just me, the bible, and the holy spirit, seems to be a bit naive and dangerous. Whether we admit it or not, we approach the scriptures through a particular lens and with particular assumptions based on the tradition we are from. Naming this is more helpful then denying it.

      The main thing though is that in our presentation of truth we need to have a bit of humility and honesty towards other peoples questions and view points. 1 Peter 3:15 says, “Always be prepared to give an answer to everyone who asks you to give the reason for the hope that you have. But do this with gentleness and respect.” Paul tells us in Ephesians to speak the truth in love.

      I should probably close with an apology. For I realize that some of my responses have not lived up to this vision of Christian dialogue as commended by Peter and Paul. I sometimes have visceral reactions towards dogmatism as I’ve been wounded by this type of theological discourse in the past. As such my apologies for not approaching this discussion with the most helpful tone. Alas, this impersonal and unaccountable venue for discussion on a blog is probably not the best place to have these discussions.

      All the best as you continue to seek the living God!

  5. The first dialogue took place in the garden of Eden and resulted in man’s fall. Revelation and proclamation of the truth, and obedience to it leads to freedom in Christ.

    The church did not formulate the truth. The Living and Written Word of God ARE the truth. They were given to us by revelation of God. The Scripture is the product of God, who used men empowered by the Holy Spirit to write His message. God entrusted the church with this message and has preserved His Word down through the centuries. I speak of the “Received Text” – the OT and the NT (letters and epistles and the Revelation to John), accepted by the earliest church. Man did not DECIDE what belonged in the Bible and what didn’t. The RC church attempted to decide later on what belonged to Scripture, and has accepted corrupted texts and other books that did not belong in the original canon, as have many profiteers who want to copyright the Word of God, limiting it by the confines of man’s idea of what God’s Word should say, not accepting it as it was originally given to the church. The very early church, and especially the apostles and those who knew them personally knew what was true Scripture and what was not. The uncorrupted Textus Receptus is not the product of man’s dialogue. (You appear to have a low view of Scripture). Please read 2 Timothy 3 in its entirety, a warning about deception and a defense of the holy Scriptures and its profitability.

    The later creeds that were written were written to protect against false doctrine and were a defense of the truth. They are not the Word of God. They may contain truth, but they are not THE Truth. We must depend on the Word of God to guide us is faith, in life, and in doctrine, not on what man man’s declaration of the truth is via creeds written later on. (Not that they are necessarily a bad thing, but they are a product of man and have some value in understanding church history). The same goes for the “church fathers”. They are not the truth. Many of them wrote about the truth and some of them had incorrect doctrine. This is also true about the desert Fathers. (A mixture of truth and error= error, by the way, and is not to be trusted).

    Paul warned that deception would quickly enter the church in the book of Acts (a good reason to stick to the Word of God alone):

    25And now, behold, I know that ye all, among whom I have gone preaching the kingdom of God, shall see my face no more. 26Wherefore I take you to record this day, that I am pure from the blood of all men. 27For I have not shunned to declare unto you all the counsel of God. 28Take heed therefore unto yourselves, and to all the flock, over the which the Holy Ghost hath made you overseers, to feed the church of God, which he hath purchased with his own blood. 29For I know this, that after my departing shall grievous wolves enter in among you, not sparing the flock. 30Also of your own selves shall men arise, speaking perverse things, to draw away disciples after them. 31Therefore watch, and remember, that by the space of three years I ceased not to warn every one night and day with tears. 32And now, brethren, I commend you to God, and to the word of his grace, which is able to build you up, and to give you an inheritance among all them which are sanctified.

    In his 2nd letter to the Corinthians (ch 11), Paul once again warns the church about guarding against deception and sticking to the truth revealed about Christ in the Scripture:

    2For I am jealous over you with godly jealousy: for I have espoused you to one husband, that I may present you as a chaste virgin to Christ. 3But I fear, lest by any means, as the serpent beguiled Eve through his subtilty, so your minds should be corrupted from the SIMPLICITY that is in Christ. 4For if he that cometh preacheth another Jesus, whom we have not preached, or if ye receive another spirit, which ye have not received, or another gospel, which ye have not accepted, ye might well bear with him.

    And then again a little later:

    12But what I do, that I will do, that I may cut off occasion from them which desire occasion; that wherein they glory, they may be found even as we. 13For such are false apostles, deceitful workers, transforming themselves into the apostles of Christ. 14And no marvel; for Satan himself is transformed into an angel of light. 15Therefore it is no great thing if his ministers also be transformed as the ministers of righteousness; whose end shall be according to their works.

    The traditions we are supposed to hold to are those given to us in God’s Word (2 Thess. 2:15). All other traditions need to be fully examined in the light of God’s Word and if they don’t line up with Scripture they are to be discarded. The Roman Catholic religion is filled with man made traditions which have no legitimacy in Scripture. Since we have the true Scriptures with all the traditions we are told to uphold, why would we ever need to look anywhere else? God’s Word is completely sufficient to instruct believers in how to worship, how to conduct themselves in daily life, and in how to govern the church. The church of the last days need to heeds the warning of Scripture, guard against Satan’s subtle deception, and look to the Word of God for direction.

    We do not need to get “creative” to entertain and retain people in the church. If they have truly been born again they will want to study God’s Word (His written communication to us and an inexhaustible source of truth which never gets old) and learn to pray (our communication to Him). If we are bored with it, we need to examine our hearts for sin, for a loss of appreciation for what Christ did on the cross, and ask God to renew our hearts and minds.

    Many denominations now deny that the Bible is the Word of God (as defined by Scripture), no longer believe in the divinity of Christ, or believe that salvation only comes by faith in the shed blood of Christ for the remission of sins. These are merely social clubs with a socialist agenda adding on some spiritual “feel-good” exercises to mollify the masses and deceive them into believing they are still a spiritual entity. They have left their first love, have bought into false doctrine (which always seems to come through their institutions of higher learning) and are no longer preaching a biblical gospel. Although their statements of faith have not changed, they no longer follow or teach them. They are merely relics of the past, museum pieces kept around for posterity’s sake. Nobody in those churches really believes them any more. They are a trophy they can point to when anybody ever questions what they are doing.

    The MB Conference needs to decide which direction it is going to go. It will either continue to follow the other denominations in their fall away from the truth and headlong into apostasy, or it will return solidly to the Word of God for direction. We need to be wary of glorying in our education and start glorying in Christ. He chose the foolish things to confound the wise. For our much learning, we have developed much pride and dependence on the traditions of men. Paul considered all of his learning, all his previous accolades as worth nothing compared to knowing Christ, and we must be careful that our ability to be educated does not puff us up with pride, and lead us away from the truth of Scripture. God will give us want we want, and if we want to choose worldly wisdom and accolades from those who pretend to belong to Him, above Him and His Word, He will let us have it. Is this what MBs want?

    The titanic appears to be heading straight for the iceberg, and I am deeply concerned that it may already be too late to turn it around.

    Phil, 3:
    7But what things were gain to me, those I counted loss for Christ. 8Yea doubtless, and I count all things but loss for the excellency of the knowledge of Christ Jesus my Lord: for whom I have suffered the loss of all things, and do count them but dung, that I may win Christ, 9And be found in him, not having mine own righteousness, which is of the law, but that which is through the faith of Christ, the righteousness which is of God by faith:

  6. Contemplative prayer is well-known by new agers, Buddhists and Hindus, and they claim this kind of prayer for their own (they may call it by something else, but the practice is the same). By saying that the NT church prayed contemplatively is reading into Scripture something that isn’t there. Jesus said, “Pray after this manner”, not repeat, repeat, repeat what I just said. He said not to do as the heathens do, using vain repetitions. How would you like it if somebody you knew always said exactly the same things every time they saw you? Jesus nowhere taught people to pray contemplatively. Contemplative prayer uses repetition to still the mind and enter the spirit realm, where there are familiar (deceiving) spirits to be encountered. This is an occult practice, and Scripture warns us to stay away from occultic practices.

    Jesus and his disciples withdrew to quiet places to pray, but this does not mean they entered the silence of mind in contemplative prayer like the mystics do. The Bible says quite a bit about prayer, including that it is about supplication, thanksgiving, etc. The verses contemplatives use to justify their type of prayer are grossly taken out of context. And the type of meditation spoken of in Scripture is mulling over God’s Word, filling the mind with it in ordered to have it transformed, not the type of meditation the mystics practice, who use it to feel God’s presence and try to form union with God. We draw near by faith and by the blood, according to what Scripture teaches.

    There is a lot of confusion created by the similar terminology used. Many words have been redefined by the mystics. These are not biblical definitions. This is partly what Satan uses to deceive believers. Motive is another excuse used for participating in mystical practices, but this does not justify them either. God has His ways of doing things, His instructions are given in HIS Word, and we do not need to borrow from any other religious traditions. This is what the Hebrews did when Moses did not return from the top of the mountain when they thought he would. They built a calf and dedicated it to the Lord and had a real party going on. They were steeped in pagan traditions and tried to syncretize them with their worship of God. He struck several thousand dead to show his judgement and displeasure in their actions.

    We cannot do whatever we want just because it is what WE like. We need to be concerned about what pleases God, not what pleases us when we worship Him. God is not impressed with our imaginations. He is perfect in knowledge and holiness and we are to look to Him for wisdom and instructions for worship. These things in the OT were given for examples to us and we need to learn from them. Our minds are corrupted by our sin nature and need to be renewed by Scripture. When we become a Christian we do not just add Jesus on to our old way of doing things, we need to learn what He want us to do.

    • For the Author,

      Thank you for your comments.

      I am very sorry to hear about the direction your friends are taking (mbcontemplativearchive.blogspot.com). Further proof of how widespread this spirituality is in the MB denomination. I am wondering how a protestant Christian Mexican mission justifies returning to Roman Catholic prayer methods and disciplines of CP, much of it from Spanish mystics, as they reach out to a population that is 95% Roman Catholic.

  7. Yes, it does appear that contemplative spirituality has infiltrated the final frontier. It is typically the small, geographically isolated churches that are last to be involved. Sad thing is, many of the people in these congregations just bury their heads in the sand and are being led along without a true understanding of what they are supporting and being taught. To this day I have difficulty understanding how people we attended church with for over 25 years are not interested in the reasons we left the church. I believe they are either simply afraid to know the truth, or think we lost our marbles.

    As far as the Matthew Training Centre goes, they shouldn’t have much trouble gaining converts (?) from the Roman Catholic church, as they will be comfortable with the practices they will encounter there. They should also have no problem embracing Catholics as their brothers and sisters in the community, considering they will eventually encounter teaching from Roman Catholic sources if they continue in the contemplative direction.

    I wonder how long it will be before we see a Mennonite Catholic church spring up? There are Anglo-catholic churches at present, so why not Menno-Catholic? If only Menno Simons knew what was happening today amongst the believers who carry his name! I believe he would write each of them a letter or article of urgent warning, for this is what he did in the past.

    Thank you for faithfulness to the work which God has called you. Keep the faith, and keep looking up, for your redemption draweth near!!

    Blessings, Bonnie

  8. Pingback: What Kind of Discipleship is this in the MB Herald? « Menno-lite

  9. Pingback: Partnership or Compromise? « Menno-lite

Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in:

WordPress.com Logo

You are commenting using your WordPress.com account. Log Out / Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out / Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out / Change )

Google+ photo

You are commenting using your Google+ account. Log Out / Change )

Connecting to %s