Audio Divina and Mennonites

“Music can be a vehicle for transporting the psyche back and forth between ordinary consciousness and contemplative awareness.”
Mary T. Rankin

Mary T Rankin is a spiritual director and retreat leader who currently co-directs Stillpoint at Beckside (www.stillpointatbeckside.com), an ecumenical spiritual retreat center in Bellingham, WA. where those seeking to experience the Mystery of God can spend time walking and meditating in their labyrinth. With a background in music therapy (The Bonny Method of Guided Imagery and Music), Rankin developed Audio Divina (Sacred Listening) in 2003 while at Vancouver School of Theology. She has since authored “Audio Divina: Introducing a Contemplative Practice for Contemporary Times” (Journal of the Association for Music and Imagery, Vol. 9, 2003-2004), and “Audio Divina: Introducing a Musical Aid for Spiritual Direction” which appeared in the Presence Journal (Volume 15, June 2009), an international journal of SDI (Spiritual Directors International). Rankin’s Audio Divina is also listed as a Saturday evening workshop option at SDI (among other options such as Dancing the Cosmic Dance, Reiki: A Spiritual Doorway to Natural Healing, Accessing Cosmic Unity with Wordless Song using Nigunim from the Jewish Mystical Tradition, and Coming Home to the Cosmos According to Harry Potter). Audio Divina by Mary Rankin can also be found (here) at the Institute of Noetic Sciences.

What does this have to do with Mennonites?

The following is an endorsement of Mary Rankin’s Audio Divina by retreat leader Lorie Martin.

“Mary’s gift (Audio Divina) to me was found in the orderly framework yet the wide open invitation to meet with God in such a powerfully beautiful way. I love prayer encounters and this was a bright new experience in meeting with God. I highly recommend entering this rich method of prayer, sharing it, and enjoying it together in community as well.” -Lorie Martin, minister, retreat leader, spiritual director, and author of ‘Invited Simple Prayer Exercises for Solitude and Community”, Abbotsford, BC, Canada

Source: Audio Divina: a contemporary framework for an ancient practice
http://www.examiner.com/christian-spirituality-in-seattle/audio-divina-a-contemporary-framework-for-an-ancient-practice

This summer, Lorie Martin was one of the hosts at the BC Conference of Mennonite Brethren Churches Mark Centre (Pender Island location).

Summer Silence for Women

A week to feast on silence and rest.

July 11th 4pm – July 15th 11am

Come and linger over some quiet days by the sea. Watch the whales and seals play, listen to the crashing waves, savour the tastes of home cooked meals, and feel your heart come alive as you give yourself time and space to be. During your five days by the sea, you will be guided into silence interspersed with thoughtfully led group sessions and individual spiritual direction sessions. Cathy Hardy (cathyhardy.blogspot.com/), Lorie Martin and Evy Klassen will be your hosts for this silent retreat at the Pender Island Lodge.

We invite you to enjoy this week by the sea in a peaceful and inspiring setting:

* Slowing down to listen, reflect and receive
* Giving attention to God’s active presence
* Being renewed and energized through the practice of silence
* Experiencing Spiritual Direction as a tool for opening up the inner journey of the heart

Source: http://www.markcentre.org/Retreats/SummerSilence.html

As the Mennonites continue to show their lack of discernment as they soak in the ways of contemplative spirituality and silence, it would not be a big step for them to move from Lectio Divina to Audio Divina and be lulled into an even deeper sleep.

NOTE: For further research on Audio Divina, Music-assisted Contemplative Prayer, go to these links:

http://www.stillpointatbeckside.com/team/mary-terry-rankin/audio-divina/

http://www.audiodivina.com/

Related:

MB Herald Promotes Mark Centre
https://mennolite.wordpress.com/2010/08/03/mb-herald-promotes-contemplative-centre-again/

The Mark Centre and Lectio Divina
https://mennolite.wordpress.com/2011/01/13/the-mark-centre-and-lectio-divina/

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*** UPDATE – January 2012:

The following is on the website of Lorie Martin:

I just wanted to let you know of a blog that is starting on January 1st, called, 40 Days of Contemplative Ways. It is a collection of writings of myself along with over 10 people who have contributed postings of our favorite ways of adding contemplative ways into our lives. We hope you will join us in ‘tasting’ of our practices and finding one of your own. Please go to http://www.spiritual-direction.com and press blog on the top of the page to find more information and to follow the blog over the first 40 days of the new year. We hope you will be interactive on the site as you feel comfortable to do so, and that you will pass this on to others who may also enjoy beginning the Year 2012 in this way. We trust you will be blessed as you become a part of this with us!
Deep Peace, Great Joy, Much Grace,
http://loriemartin.com/Events.php

The following events are recommended by Lorie Martin on her website:

Invited–Half Day Retreats
at the 
MARK Centre, Abbotsford
A half-day retreat to be still. 9:30-noon at the MARK Centre Chalet
Facilitator: Lorie Martin http://www.loriemartin.com
Friday March 9th Invited to Listen
Experiencing God’s Voice for Intimacy and Guidance
Monday April 2nd Invited to Scripture
Entering Gospel Stories to Encounter Christ
Saturday May 26 Invited to Rest
Encountering God in Stillness
Friday August 24 Invited to Solitude
Enveloped in God’s Quiet Presence

Saturday October 20 Invited to Healing
Engaging with God in Pain and Loss
Friday December 7 Invited to Bethlehem
Enjoying our Advent Journey Together 


Upcoming Events at Stillpoint:
January 28-29, 2012 (Part I) AND February 4-5 (Part II) – Enneagram Workshop
February 18, 2012 – “Christ and the Cosmos” Retreat
Thursday evenings TBD, “Christ and the Cosmos” DVD/Discussion Series (see next newsletter for dates)
March 3, 2012 – “SoulCollage” Retreat
March 24, 2012 – “Stations of the Cross” Labyrinth Walk
April 14, 2012 – “Welcoming Prayer” Retreat
Date TBD – “Dying to Love” Retreat
CLICK HERE TO VISIT STILLPOINT
http://www.stillpointatbeckside.com/
Stillpoint at Beckside is located at 1625 Huntley Road, Bellingham, about 20 minutes from downtown Bellingham. This rural retreat center/home is on five acres with a spacious outdoor wooded area for walking and meditating and two labyrinths.

Selah Center
http://www.selahcenter.org
• SoulSpace – a contemplative group retreat. March 23-24 (Friday from 6 – 9 p.m. and Saturday 9 a.m. to 4 p.m.)

SoulStream
Interested in a contemplative community……You are warmly invited to a Chocolate Tasting Event with live jazz to introduce SoulStream Initiatives and ask for your support. Saturday, October 29, 2011 at 7:0 pm @ Highland Community Church 3130 McMillan Road, Abbotsford.
http://www.soulstream.org/chocolate

Jan 2012: Course: 
 
Encountering God through Spiritual Formation:
Exploring Spiritual Disciplines, including Biblical Meditation (along with the DVD series: “Sacred Rhythms”, by Ruth Haley Barton) – 12 weeks Course 

Contact: Nadine Frew: njoyfrew@gmail.com

November 11/12
Listen Up!!! Hearing God’s Voice with Brad Jersak.

Hosted by Fresh Wind Christian Fellowship I Abbotsford. Location to be determined. Friday evening/Saturday

Silent Retreat @ The Mark Centre
http://www.markcentre.org/Retreats/ComeAway.html
A great retreat coming up that can offer deep nourishment. The timing of this is right at the beginning of Advent. The retreat will help facilitate slowing down instead of speeding up – as we often tend to do at this time of year. There are spaces available, so call the Mark Centre if you are interested.

Also find the following on Lorie Martin’s Deeper In Blog:
http://loriemartin.com/DeeperInBLOG.php

1/8/2012 7:57:08 PM
Centering Prayer
The Best Gift to Give God
“But when you pray, go to your inner room, close the door,
and pray to your Father in secret.
And your Father who sees in secret will repay you.”
(Matthew 6:6 NAB)
Practicing Centering Prayer has become one of my favourite times with God. It is an ancient Christian prayer exercise that, when I first heard of it, I thought would be really easy. At first it seemed so uneventful that I thought there must be something wrong. Was I doing it right? Was anything happening with me and God?
As I have continued practicing this method of contemplative prayer I have come to see some of the value of it and the good fruit in my life, and I now love meeting God in this way. It is the exercise I miss the most if I miss doing it. I often feel the Lord leading me to do it and it is one of the Spiritual Disciplines that I endeavour to practice daily.
Contemplative Prayer is opening our whole being, heart and mind, to God. There are times to use words in prayer and to interact with God; however, this contemplative prayer exercise takes us beyond thoughts, words, feelings, and actions. It is an invitation to open our awareness to God, who we know by faith, is within us (1 John 3:24). Centering Prayer helps us develop our faculties to receive communion with God rather than conversation with God.
I’ve heard it said that Centering Prayer familiarizes us with God’s first language, which is silence. I’ve also heard it said that God loves meeting us in this manner the most since we are so clearly invited, “Be still and know that I am God” and the Psalmist speaks of quieting himself at times instead of crying to God (Psalm 46:10; 131:2 KJV). I do like the fact that during this time in prayer I am not asking anything of God, nor am I am engaging to listen for anything for myself; this allows us simply to be together and that is beautiful and it is enough.

The principle fruits of the prayer are experienced in daily life and not during the prayer period. Centering Prayer is not limited to the “felt” presence of God but is rather a deepening of faith in God’s abiding presence. It is not reflective or spontaneous prayer, but simply resting in God.

Prayer Exercise Centering Prayer Suggested time: 20 min.

To Begin – We choose a sacred word as a symbol that expresses our intention to consent to God’s presence and action within.
a.) The sacred word is chosen during a brief period of prayer asking the Holy Spirit to inspire us with one that is suitable for this time with Him.
Examples: God, Jesus, Peace, Trust, Abba, Yes, etc.
b.) The sacred word is said when we wander off in our thoughts, and helps us come back to an awareness of God’s presence with us. It is not to be used repetitively. It is to be spoken quietly within to gently turn us towards God.
c.) Instead of a sacred word, a simple glance toward the Divine Presence or focusing on one’s breathing may be more suitable for some people.
• Sit comfortably with backs straight so as not to encourage sleep during this time. We close our eyes as a symbol of letting go of what is going on around and within us. Legs and arms need to be set comfortably as straight as possible to rest for the full 20 minutes.
• We introduce the sacred word inwardly as gently as laying a feather on a piece of absorbent cotton.
a) Should we fall asleep, we continue with the prayer when we awake. When engaged with our thoughts, we return ever so gently to the sacred word.
Thoughts are inevitable, an integral and a normal part of Centering Prayer. Thoughts include body sensations, feelings, images, and reflections. They may be ordinary wanderings of the imagination or memories. Thoughts and feelings that come may bring feelings of attraction or aversion. Insights and psychological breakthroughs may come, as well as self reflections such as, “How am I doing?” or, “This peace is just great!” They all arise from the unloading of the unconscious mind. When you realize you may have become engaged with any of these thoughts return gently to your sacred word, leading you back to an awareness of God’s presence.
b) We avoid analyzing our experience, holding expectations, or aiming at any goal such as: having no thoughts, making the mind a blank, feeling peaceful, repeating the sacred word continuously, or achieving a spiritual experience.
c) We may notice slight pains, itches, or twitches in parts of our body, or a generalized restlessness. These are usually due to the untying of emotional knots in the body. We may notice heaviness or lightness in our extremities. This is usually due to a deep level of spiritual attentiveness. In all cases we pay no attention and gently return to the sacred word and to focus on God.
• This prayer normally lasts for 20 minutes.
a) It is recommended that we practice this exercise twice daily, first thing in the morning and in the afternoon or early evening. With practice the time may be extended to 30 minutes or longer. (Once a day works well, too.)
b) Using a quiet timer will help to tell us when the time is done. In a group setting it is nice to be brought back from the prayer time with someone leading in the Lord’s Prayer or another gentle form of re-entry.

4. Remain silent at the end of the prayer period for a couple of minutes. The additional 2 minutes enables us to bring the atmosphere of silence into everyday life.
I heard one of my favourite comments after leading a Centering Prayer time which my friend, Eric, was attending. I thought that fifteen minutes would be long enough for our first time doing this together. I wondered if some of the people attending the retreat might not be able to focus like this for very long or find it very uncomfortable. Being silent, especially in a room full of people, can feel like a long time, even though doing this together in a group is a very wonderful experience. I was concerned that this lively group would be grumbling when we finally moved from the prayer time. However, instead of any negative complaining, I heard Eric sigh and say, “No, I don’t want to stop this.” Thankfully it isn’t expensive, doesn’t need a lot of equipment, and can be taken with you into every day.
One day I saw some lovely fruit coming from my Centering Prayer times. A lot of busy activity was happening around me on this particular day, yet I was able to lightly let each thing go and stay in a deep peacefulness. It wasn’t until later that I realized that my heart had taken Centering Prayer with me into the day.
Andrea Kastner, a well-learned teacher and encouraging facilitator of Soulstream, had some brilliant insights into Centering Prayer that she graciously shared with me. She writes:
“Centering Prayer is very hard at first. Everyone who has practiced contemplative prayer/centering prayer over the ages says this same thing. It takes a LOT of practice. It gets easier, then it gets harder, then it gets easier…. In a large sense it is the practicing itself that holds the transformative power of the prayer. For one thing, staying with it, no matter what the immediate experience/‘effect’ shows us just how deeply addicted we are to our belief that we can improve ourselves spiritually by trying hard. Most of us expect there will be some reward, including the reward of feeling like we are ‘getting it’ or feeling peaceful. It is helpful to remember that all we are doing is making ourselves available, to the best of our human ability that day, to receive the love of God pouring around and through us. God is doing the transforming in us whether we feel it or not. Everything that happens is a gift from God: our ability to ‘show up’ in the first place when there are so many other demands from the world – even our desire to show up on the days when we avoid it or forget to show up, our noticing our frustration at not being able to pay attention for very long, and the more rare moments when we glimpse the face of God gazing at us with love. It’s all a gift. And God is so touched, so delighted when we make even the smallest of steps.

“The alertness or paying attention, the ‘being present with God,’ is important and not quite the same thing as the kind of cosy nestling up one might do in another kind of prayer such as the kind of rest we might experience in imaginative prayer where we might picture ourselves as a small child snuggled in God’s arms.
“I find it helps to think of this kind of rest as the kind that comes from stopping. Where I stop trying. Stop planning. Stop trying to figure things out. It is a giving up of all effort for 20 minutes. In time, stopping brings rest; rest is the result of stopping.
“It is a big challenge for us to enter into this prayer as a response to God, out of the place of our desire to be with God and enjoy God, rather than out of our more usual place: the habit of doing, or trying to achieve yet one more thing. Again and again we meet this mistaken impulse, this weakness in ourselves. Perhaps with a little light humour and the reminder that Jesus understands our human weakness, and without beating ourselves up when we notice we are back in our habit again, we can just gently return to our word, the sign of our desire, our intention.”
I’d like to invite you to ponder two great phrases that Andrea gave:
“Being present to God.” And “Rest is the result of stopping.”

CENTERING PRAYER
I came to know Lorie in person through a Listening Prayer weekend at her home. My spiritual life was challenged and enriched by Lorie’s teaching and she certainly practices what she teaches as I got to know the wonderful community that she draws towards herself. Her longings to deepen and enliven other’s relationship with God, resulted in her terrific book, Invited, Simple Prayer Exercises for Solitude and Community (Fresh Wind Press, 2010). It is a privilege to know her!
Getting to know Lorie:
“I live in Abbotsford with Dwight, my wonderful husband of 33 years. We have five children, now grown, one is married, one still in high school, 3 moved out of town and our first grandchild who thankfully is here in town near Grammy and Papa!!! I enjoy quiet time with God, meaningful times with my family, fun times with friends, divine moments with those I meet. I am a spiritual director, an ordained pastor on staff at Fresh Wind Christian Fellowship.”
“It is my desire to continue to join God in The Way of Love (the life of Jesus), Peace (personal and community), Healing (for the whole person), Grace (unearned redemption), Justice (co-suffering and restorative), Stillness (silence and solitude), and Intimacy with God (ever enlarging union and abiding with God in Christ). High values for me are living and working closely in community with mutual love and acceptance, serving people from all walks of life as led by the Spirit of God. My main hope for the future is to be present to God and the Kingdom of God and welcome Jesus whenever and however he may appear.”
Lorie graduated in 2007 from SoulStream which is a contemplative community that trains spiritual directors and has formed a disbursed contemplative community. Lorie has offered spiritual direction to many who come to retreats or are retreating guests at MARK Centre in Abbotsford. She has a private practice from her home where she meets clients regularly for the past 5 years. Click here to learn more about spiritual direction and read some of Lorie’s articles.
Visit Lorie’s new Website at http://www.loriemartin.com

Centering Prayer
by Lorie Martin of Abbotsford, B.C.

My favourite contemplative practice, far above all of my favourites, is Centering Prayer. In this quiet 20 minutes with God the purity and simplicity of being with the Divine Presence is most practical and mystical all at the same time. I’ll share the essence of it in this post; however, click here for more information and details for a full understanding.

Posture: Sitting straight in a chair with feet squarely beneath you and hands relaxed on your lap.
Begin: Ask the Holy Spirit to give you, or you choose a “sacred word” such as Father, Jesus, Abba, Holy One, Love ……. which will be used to bring you back to an awareness of God’s presence when you’ve wandered away in a thought that comes to mind in the quiet. Set a timer for 20 minutes so you can enter in without time being a distraction.
Continue: Sit quietly in God’s presence with an awareness of Divine Love being with you. Thoughts, pictures, prayers, etc. will come to your mind in the quiet, which they are supposed to in all thinking beings. Lightly as a feather you are invited to let the thoughts go for now and gently say the sacred word you’ve been given one time to bring you back to an awareness of God. The goal is Presence.
Some times in Centering Prayer will seem to go so very well, other times it may feel useless and unproductive. However, the joy is being with God without either needing any interaction (there are other times for conversation, intercession, healing, etc.) – this is about purely being together. A most beautiful gift to give God and to receive for yourself.
http://spiritual-direction.com/2012/01/centering-prayer/

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For more on Centering/Contemplative Prayer see here:

Centering Prayer
http://carm.org/centering-prayer

CONTEMPLATING CONTEMPLATIVE PRAYER: IS IT REALLY PRAYER?
http://christiananswersforthenewage.org/Articles_ContemplativePrayer1.html

The Danger of Centering Prayer
http://www.bibleguidance.co.za/Engarticles/Centering.htm

Do Christian Leaders Understand
The Contemplative Prayer Movement?

http://www.spiritual-research-network.com/christianleaderscontemplativeprayer.html

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Mennonite Students go to Benedictine Monastery to Sit in Silence

Last fall, TREK students participating in silent retreats at the Mennonite Brethren affiliated Mark Center were brought to a Benedictine Monastery in Mission B.C. called Westminster Abbey where they spent the afternoon practicing contemplative spirituality in silence. One participant wrote about the experience…

Silent Retreat

The Mark Centre was in a state of total silence this weekend as we all entered into a 48 hour silent retreat. It was like taking daily quiet time with God, except that instead of just quiet, it was in fact silent, and instead of committing only 20 minutes or so to meeting with God, it was 2880 minutes.

We were released from busyness, forced not to rush through.

Something incredible happens when we remove all the distractions from our life and just sit and be still. I discovered that in these times I don’t need to be devoted to getting answers, or coming to any conclusions, but all I need is to simply be still in the presence of God.

I think it was very wise of my leaders to put this into our training schedule. It was a great weekend, but it also made us experience the how important it will be to bring this practice of being still before God into our field assignments, and our day to day lives. There will surely be times this coming year that will be truly hectic, and in those times it will be more important than ever to surrender our to do lists, concerns, and time so that we can rest in God’s quiet and hear his voice.

Inside Westminster Abbey (see picture) – Since the Mark Centre can get crowded when everyone wants their own silent space, we spent an afternoon at this monastery in Mission BC.

Silent Retreat
http://www.worksinme.com/2010/09/silent-retreat.html

This was written by a student who participated in a program called ACTION with MBMSI for 6 weeks followed by the TREK program, which he was on at the time of his blog post (dated Sept 26, 2010). See Welcome to TREK Training @ http://www.worksinme.com/2010/09/welcome-to-trek-training.html.

This student was sent on both of these trips by his MB church (Glencairn MB, Kitchener, ON). Do other Mennonite Brethren churches like Glencairn who send their youth to TREK know that they have been paying for them to be taught contemplative spirituality? Do they know they are being taught to sit in stillness at a Benedictine Monastery? Are Trekkers this fall going to be doing the same? Do churches, pastors, and parents care?

UPDATE:

The fall 2011 TREK team began with a silent retreat at the Mark Centre, and a trek to the newly leased Mark Centre chalet at Pender Island. This is what happened:

The chalet at Pender Island (which is being leased by the Mark Centre) is a place of stillness. The chalet is roomy and spacious. The outdoors is lush and open. We had a good time. Everyday involved work duties. I was able to contribute to a circular labyrinth by collecting beautiful rocks from the beach. The idea behind the labyrinth is to be used as a prayer tool. As you go to the centre you listen to God; he prepares your heart and mind through this process. When you are leaving the centre of the labyrinth you pray for others. It takes about 5 minutes to navigate without praying. It was awesome to be apart of the construction of this prayer tool.

Mark’s Trek 2011 Adventure
Posted on October 17, 2011
http://trek2011mz.wordpress.com/2011/10/

To see why this is concerning, read here:

Mennonites and Prayer Labyrinths
https://mennolite.wordpress.com/2011/10/27/mennonites-and-prayer-labyrinths/

Love or Leave the Labyrinth?
https://mennolite.wordpress.com/2011/02/25/should-christians-love-or-leave-the-labyrinth/

Mennonite Labyrinths
https://mennolite.wordpress.com/2011/02/09/mennonite-labyrinths/

There’s more. Read what the TREK students are reading:

One tool I have been using is Steve and Evy Klassen’s book Your Ears Will Hear. It is a journal that helps guide an individual in becoming better at listening to God.
In the journal there are 64 different stories to inspire a person in how God speaks to people and then related questions to help in listening to God. For example a title of one of the stories is called Let Me Guide Your Heart with a personal story from Evy; the corresponding question is: “How is God guiding my heart”? The story helps ready your heart, sprit and mind to listen to God. There are 5 recurring themes in the book: listening to God through scripture, listening to God at work around us, listening to God through our hearts, listening to God in times of silence and solitude, and listening to God in community. I have found by using this book and taking time meditating in actively listening to God I am being transformed. I am constantly surprised, refreshed when I listen to God.

Being Transformed
Posted on April 4, 2012
http://trek2011mz.wordpress.com/2012/04/04/being-transformed/

To see why this is problematic, please read the following:

What Will Ears Hear in The Mark Centre’s New Book?
https://mennolite.wordpress.com/2012/06/02/the-mark-centres-new-book/

RELATED:

Do Christian Leaders Understand The Contemplative Prayer Movement?
http://www.spiritual-research-network.com/christianleaderscontemplativeprayer.html

Contemplative Prayer—A mystical prayer practice that leads one into the “silence” but in actuality leads away from God.
http://www.lighthousetrailsresearch.com/cp.htm

CONTEMPLATING CONTEMPLATIVE PRAYER: IS IT REALLY PRAYER?
http://www.christiananswersforthenewage.org/Articles_ContemplativePrayer1.html

CONTEMPLATIVE PRAYER VS BIBLICAL PRAYER
http://www.earnestlycontend.com/cp.html

ALSO IMPORTANT:

ECUMENISM … Where do you draw the line?
http://www.deceptioninthechurch.com/ecumenism2.htm

The “Evangelical” Seduction
http://www.reachingcatholics.org/seduction.html

Evangelicals and Catholics Together – Part 1
http://www.svchapel.org/resources/articles/24-ecumenicalism/568-evangelicals-and-catholics-together-part-1
(parts 2 and 3 also at above link)

Mennonites and Muslims Merge?

And he said unto them, Go ye into all the world, and preach the gospel to every creature. He that believeth and is baptized shall be saved; but he that believeth not shall be damned. Mark 16:15,16

Instead of obeying the words of our Lord by witnessing, preaching the gospel, and sharing the truth, some Mennonites recently prayed with Muslims for peace, and then participated in the Hegelian dialectic process with them over dinner.

A five year long effort recently resulted in an evening of making placards and posters for “A Joint Muslim- Christian Public Prayer for Peace,” to be held on April 16 in front of the Vancouver Art Gallery. Muslims and Christians stood together to pray for peace in the nations of the Middle East. About 100 Mennonites and Muslims got together for dinner and poster making at Peace Mennonite Church on April 9. (…)

While the group ate, Mennonites listened to their Muslim tablemates share about their lives and their faith. The Mennonites, in turn, shared about their faith and what it means to live as a follower of Jesus (Isa in Arabic).

Both communities were equally represented at each table, with a facilitator encouraging
tablemates to engage in dialogue by asking questions such as, “What was it like to grow up in your particular Muslim/ Christian community/family/culture

?” “What does your faith mean to you?”
“What are some regular practices that are a part of your faith as a community and/or individually?”

Muslims, Mennonites, act together, for peace
http://liveforpeace.org/node/390

This is a classic example seen in too many church settings today, and always includes the following:

“…a diverse group of people (in the church, this is a mixture of believers (thesis) and unbelievers (antithesis), gather in a facilitated meeting (with a trained facilitator/teacher/group leader/change agent), using group dynamics (peer pressure), to discuss a social issue (or dialogue the Word of God), and reach a pre-determined outcome (consensus, compromise, or synthesis).”

Deceived by the Dialectic Process

Also mentioned in the above Live For Peace article is how the Mennonites referred to Isa, the Muslim’s Jesus, in order to appear to be on the same ground. But do they know that this Isa not the Jesus of the Bible?

“…truly Born again Arab believers normally address Jesus as ‘Yesua Hamesa’…(the Islamic name for Jesus who is not the Jesus of The Gospels because Issa is not God’s Son)…”

Judas Strikes Again

This typical dialogue process generally achieves its intended goal so well that soon the Christians participating believe they are on common ground with other religions, even though Jesus said “I am the way, the truth, and the life: no man cometh unto the Father, but by me..” (John 14:6).

Though it seems hard to believe, many are being deceived today through dialogue methods intended to bring about compromise and interfaith unity. This is not the only recent dialogue between Mennonites and Muslims, as seen in these recent news articles:

Mennonite theologians meet with Iranian Muslim clerics
Winnipeg Free Press

Tuxedo News: Mennonite Scholars from CMU Face Criticism for Meeting with Iranian Clerics from Institution Led By Ahmadinejad’s Spiritual Leader
Winnipeg Jewish Review

It sounds like a page out of a book called Ecumenical Jihad, where author Peter Kreeft calls for ecumenical union with Islam to morally redeem society, arguing that others have salvation and without a personal saving faith in Christ (see Our Regretful Inability To Become A Signatory -The Manhattan Declaration). Whether knowingly or out of ignorance, some Mennonites are entering into this union.

Be ye not unequally yoked together with unbelievers: for what fellowship hath righteousness with unrighteousness? and what communion hath light with darkness? 2 Cor. 6:14

RELATED:

Common Ground
Signatories to make Menno roll over
http://rollovermenno.wordpress.com/2007/11/29/common-ground/

More Dialogue
Mennonite and Muslims
http://rollovermenno.wordpress.com/2008/01/22/more-dialogue/

Does God care what He is called – Can a Christian to call God by his Islamic name?
http://www.letusreason.org/current112.htm

What Is Ecumenical Jihad?
http://www.thebereancall.org/node/6854

The Myth of Islamic Tolerance
http://answering-islam.org/Shamoun/badawi_tolerance.htm

Islamic Extremism: The Five Deceptions of Islam
http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=4qgbWMEedJM

A Response to a Pastor of political correctness
Peace at the expense of truth.

http://www.crossroad.to/articles2/forcing-change/08/5-inter-faith.htm

Update:

In the November 2011 MB herald is a page of quotes entitled Overheard which includes the following:

“Large communities of Muslims and Christians in the world will continue to make the best case they can for their faith communities. Polemic will continue. But polemic need not lead to acrimony. Will the partners in the conversation be able to respect each other in spite of their disagreements? The first act of respect for the partner is to acknowledge difference.” – Gordon Nickel, “‘A Common Word’in Context,”
http://www.quranandinjil.org

“If I don’t speak with you, my judgment abut you might be wrong. When we sit around the table and talk, my judgment about you is correct because I understand you and you understand me.”
-professor Maryam Esmaeili, on MCC’s 10-year-old inter-faith dialogue between Mennonite and Muslim scholars

“Christians recognize that the gospel both challenges certain aspects of cultures, Christians are called to respect all people. Christians are also called to discern elements in their own cultures that are challenged by the gospel.”
-“Christian Witness in a Multi-Religious World: Recommendations for Conduct,” a document signed by the World Evangelical Alliance, World Council of Churches, and the Vatican, representing more than 90 percent of the world’s total Christian population

“Any evangelicalism is love. If we show real love, they will be drawn to Jesus. I have 500 Muslims in my church. I have never ‘evangelized’ them. I never go knocking on their doors. But what we have done is show them real love and kindness in our church’s ministries of compassion – food distribution and the like. They see that we as Christians care about them and they want to come and worship as we do.”
-Andrew White, the “Vicar of Baghdad”, in Christianity Today, September 2011

= = = = =

“Friendships between Muslims and Christians are blossoming across the globe. In these situations, it isn’t only two life stories that collide, but entire generational histories. Worldviews bump up against each other, words mean different things, cultures clash, and collective memories can cause rifts.

Despite these challenges, however, Muslims and Christians are finding ways to share life together.”

A beautiful collision
http://www.mbconf.ca/home/products_and_services/resources/publications/mb_herald/november_2011/features/collision/

Mennonite Brethren affiliate ‘Imago Dei’ Director now promoting Brian McLaren

Pastor Rob Des Cotes is the director of Imago Dei (imagodeicommunity.ca), a contemplative community affiliated with the Mennonite Brethren Conference of British Columbia, Canada. The church that he pastors, called Fairview Baptist Church in Vancouver, B.C., is advertising the following event on their website which takes place tomorrow at another Baptist church:

Four Paths to Seeking Justice
– Free public lecture with Dr. Brian McLaren
Carey Theological College invites you to a free public lecture with Dr. Brian McLaren, author, speaker, activist, theologian. The topic is Four Paths to Seeking Justice.
Date: September 22nd, 2011
Time: 7 pm
Location: West Point Grey Baptist Church, 4509 West 11th Ave, Vancouver.

http://www.fairviewbaptist.ca/2011/08/01/four-paths-to-seeking-justice-free-public-lecture-with-dr-brian-mclaren/

In addition to promoting author, speaker and emergent church leader Brian McLaren and his emerging spirituality, the Fairview community pastored by Rob Des Cotes practices Celtic spirituality, contemplative spirituality, Taize, and spiritual direction.

UPDATE:

Brian McLaren Leads Commitment Ceremony At Son’s Same-Sex Wedding

McLaren family wedding ceremony included “traditional Christian elements.”
http://blog.christianitytoday.com/ctliveblog/archives/2012/09/brian_mclaren_l.html

Brian McLaren’s Platform at Menno Weekly

As more and more Mennonites and their affiliates are jumping on the apostasy train, our warnings fall on deaf ears – and the SHAME award for Mennonites giving a platform to false teachers goes to…Menno Weekly!

As seen here:

Preaching Peace organization pushes discussion on God and violence
By Scott Sundberg

BALTIMORE — Brian McLaren likes to quote Austrian priest, philosopher and social critic Ivan Illich, who said, “If you want to change a society, then you have to tell an alternative story.”

[Pictured: Michael Hardin, left, and Brian McLaren are among many writers, speakers and scholars who want to push the discussion on God and violence. — Photo by Scott Sundberg]

Part of the alternative story McLaren has been suggesting is this: Our God is not violent.

Joining in discussion with McLaren are Anthony Bartlett, Michael Hardin, Suzanne Ross and many others who are stating that Christians need to rethink how they look at violence in the world.

“We are basically caught between something real and something wrong,” McLaren noted at a Theology and Peace conference May 31-June 2 at Notre Dame College of Maryland.

The Theology and Peace organization came out of, and is still connected to, Preaching Peace, which seeks to educate the church in Jesus’ vision of peace.

Both organizations jointly have a “purpose of rethinking theology in a nonviolent framework,” according to Michael Hardin, who co-founded Preaching Peace with his wife, Lorri.

Hardin is the author of The Jesus Driven Life, and co-editor of the recent Compassionate Eschatology.

Through a grant, Michael and Lorri Hardin will be at the MC USA assembly in Pittsburgh July 4-9, giving away copies of The Jesus Driven Life to pastors. The hope is to equip pastors and lay leaders to be able to engage their congregations in discussing traditional Anabaptist views on non­violence and how those views impact Anabaptist theology.

“Preaching Peace is actively developing a curriculum for colleges and churches modeling a theology of peace,” Hardin said. “With Theology and Peace, our purpose is also the rethinking of our theology in a nonviolent framework that is congruent with the radical gospel — a gospel of peace — that Jesus preaches.”

Attendance at the organizations’ conferences, as well as membership of the organizations, shows a broad range of Christians interested in the discussion, including Roman Catholics, Episcopalians and Anglicans, Mennonites, Lutherans, Old Order River Brethren and Baptists.

“I hope this thinking will be transformative first to Christians, and then to people who see Christianity negatively,” said Elizabeth Richner, a lay church leader from Chester City, Pa. “And it can bring theological consistency, making our ethics and our theology match.”

McLaren added that “Preaching Peace and Theology and Peace are about people in ministry working together to find the language and story to reach people about mimesis and violence.”

“Mimesis” refers to the idea that people imitate others because they desire what others have, which can lead to violence. It is reflected in the Ten Commandments’ warnings against the many desires — typically caused by imitation of what someone else desires — that can lead to sins such as coveting, idolatry or killing.

http://www.mennoweekly.org/2011/7/4/preaching-peace-organization-pushes-discussion-god/

And here:

Does God ever go against God’s word?
By Brian McLaren
August 23

[Editor’s note: Someone recently asked Brian McLaren, “Does God ever go against God’s word?” Here is McLaren’s response.]

Thanks for this great question. Like you, I want to always be open to the Spirit’s guidance for everything I say … and like you, I want to critically scrutinize “leadings” or “promptings” in the spirit of 1 Thess. 5:19-22 — avoiding superficial proof-texting on the one hand, and loosey-goosey-subjectivism on the other.

I would hope that my books would provide an example of how I try to do this. I constantly refer to the Scriptures — especially in my most recent five or six books — but not in a constitutional way. A narrative approach, focused on God’s self-revelation in Christ, means that the Scriptures can be brought powerfully to bear, without doing so in a rigid, domineering way.

This is what I find in 1 Thess. 5:19-22. Don’t despise prophetic utterances, but don’t accept them uncritically either. Both in the speaking and in the receiving, we need appropriate humility, knowing that chaff gets mixed with the wheat and that every statement — including inspired ones! — needs to be interpreted with wisdom and critical discernment. Another way to say it: both speaking and interpreting require Spirit-guidance, and the Spirit empowers and employs both wisdom and critical thinking.

I wouldn’t say any formula is “sufficient” in the sense that “nothing more is ever needed and this guarantees that you will always be right,” but I would say it is “sufficient” in the sense that it gets you going on a wise and good path — which is always a path open to correction and further learning. James 3:13-18 comes to mind.

As I tried to explain in A New Kind of Christianity, I see inspiration not as dictation, but as God’s word emerging even amid the contrary voices and arguments in the point-counterpoint of the text.

I like how I heard Doug Pagitt put it: the Scriptures are an honored participant in every conversation.

Brian McLaren is an author, speaker and activist who blogs at brianmclaren.net, where this blog originally appeared.

http://www.mennoweekly.org/blog/2011/8/23/does-god-ever-go-against-gods-word/

Menno-lite’s comment:

God never goes against His Word, but Brian Mclaren is in no position to answer such a question as he is not for God’s Word, neither is Doug Pagitt. Yet both frequently use it, but only to twist it.

RELATED:

Lucifer Emerging
https://mennolite.wordpress.com/2011/05/12/lucifer-emerging/

See Parts 1-5 of Menno-lite’s detailed review on McLaren’s sessions at the Canadian Mennonite University Refreshing Winds conference, here:

McLaren’s Refreshing Winds at CMU – Part 1
https://mennolite.wordpress.com/2011/02/22/mclarens-refreshing-winds-at-cmu-part-1/

McLaren’s Refreshing Winds at CMU – Part 2
https://mennolite.wordpress.com/2011/02/28/mclarens-refreshing-winds-at-cmu-part-2/

McLaren’s Refreshing Winds at CMU – Part 3
https://mennolite.wordpress.com/2011/03/11/mclarens-refreshing-winds-at-cmu-part-3/

McLaren’s Refreshing Winds at CMU – Part 4
https://mennolite.wordpress.com/2011/03/14/mclarens-refreshing-winds-at-cmu-part-4/

McLaren’s Refreshing Winds at CMU – Part 5
https://mennolite.wordpress.com/2011/03/16/mclarens-refreshing-winds-at-cmu-part-5/

FOR FURTHER RESEARCH:

Surprise, Surprise, Brian McLaren Aligns with New Age Leaders
http://www.ericbarger.com/mclaren.NA.htm

Interview with Brian McLaren – His Views on the Cross, the Church and Hell
http://www.lighthousetrailsresearch.com/brianmclarenandthecross.htm

An Open Letter to Brian McLaren
http://archive.constantcontact.com/fs019/1101818841456/archive/1107190606422.html

Brian McLaren – New Age/Mystic/Contemplative
http://www.lighthousetrailsresearch.com/brianmclaren.htm

An Emergent Manifesto of Hope by Doug Pagitt and Tony Jones (Bad Fruit)
http://thebereanlibrary.com/archives/2110

Doug Pagitt, Solomon’s Porch and Christian Yoga
http://www.lighthousetrailsresearch.com/dougpagitt.htm

WHAT EVER HAPPENED TO THE BIBLE?
http://www.understandthetimes.org/commentary/c55.shtml

*** UPDATE:

Brian McLaren Leads Commitment Ceremony At Son’s Same-Sex Wedding

McLaren family wedding ceremony included “traditional Christian elements.”
http://blog.christianitytoday.com/ctliveblog/archives/2012/09/brian_mclaren_l.html

Mennonites and Sikhs offer prayers together

In this month’s issue of the MB Herald (September 2011), an article called Interfaith relationships take root on greenway tells how two faith groups have joined together in a unique partnership by planting a garden. Pastor Sara Jane Schmidt of River East MB Church (REMB), Winnipeg, has partnered with a member of a local Sikh temple to “lead the two worshipping communities” in this common cause while furthering understanding between both groups:

On Aug. 2, some 120 people from the MB and Sikh congregations – and from the wider community and secular media – attended the sod-breaking ceremony and prayers offered by leaders of both churches. Afterward, members of the long-established Mennonite church interacted with those from the newer-immigrant Sikh gurdwara over Indian samosas and Mennonite platz in the basement of REMB, concluding the first official meeting of the two groups.

“We participate with the Sikhs boldly because of our identity as Christ-followers,” says Isaak, describing the growing relationship between the communities as bridge-building – effective when well-anchored on each side. “When we continue to name Jesus as the one we follow, while working together for good with others who believe differently, we live out the gospel in powerful ways.”

Hopefully their future meetings will involve sharing the gospel in spite of the “prayers offered by both churches” (Sikhs pray to a different god) followed a suggestion by the Mennonites to share food and have a seminar on Sikh religion and history during interfaith Sunday School classes.

“Bridges between faith communities are built as we speak clearly and with conviction about what we believe, and as we listen with respect to what the other believes,” Isaak says. Schmidt intends to keep working on this “bridge,” but, “maybe the ball for the next initiative is in their court.”
-‘Interfaith relationships take root on greenway’ – MB Herald

The trouble with finding common ground in order to understand one another through interfaith dialogue is that the Bible no where gives the message that we as Christians are to unequally yoke ourselves with other religions in order to seek common ground with false religions. Learning to respect false beliefs leads to lack of conviction and spiritual compromise – we will not be a strong influence if we merge rather than share the gospel truth with them. While we respect the person, we must not ‘respect’ their false religion that will lead them to hell. Part of true respect and love for others is telling them the truth, not taking the interfaith road to compromise.