Will Mennonites Attend this Conference?

Ray Yungen will be speaking at Columbia Bible College, Abbotsford, B.C. Canada, this August 15th-17th. Also speaking at this conference will be Jacob Prasch of Moriel Ministries and Eric Barger. (See SCHEDULE.) Why is this ironic?

CBC is an inter-Mennonite Bible Institute that was established to actively promote and teach a strong evangelical Anabaptist/Mennonite theology. The college is affiliated with the British Columbia Conference of Mennonite Brethren Churches and Mennonite Church British Columbia, their confessions of faith having been adopted by the college. Their denominational links include:
*Mennonite Brethren Conference Canada 
*B.C. Conference of Mennonite Brethren Churches 
*Mennonite Church Canada 
*Mennonite Church B.C. 

Columbia Bible College’s President’s message says:

Through the power of Jesus living in us, we are aiming to live out the Great Commandment: “to love God with heart, soul, mind and strength,” and “to love our neighbours as we love ourselves.” This requires a holistic understanding of life that integrates spiritual formation, biblical studies, mission engagement, leadership development with our general studies courses to develop a biblical understanding of life and mission.

Part of their mission has recently included influencing students in Roman Catholic spiritual direction and ancient mysticism.

For example, on their faculty is a teacher who has been trained in the ways of Franciscan priest Richard Rohr’s male spirituality, an ecumenical and inter-religious spirituality program for men that “transcends the boundaries of race, nation, culture, gender, economics/class, politics, sexual orientation and religious differences.” Too find out more, read More Rohr Influence – this time at Inter-Mennonite Bible College.

Another teacher of spirituality at Columbia Bible College is the spiritual director and pastor at the contemplative Imago Dei Community (affiliated with the BC MB Conference of Churches). For more information read Another article in the MB Herald that opens the door to contemplative spirituality.

One teacher of biblical studies at Columbia Bible College is married to the lead pastor of Emmanuel Mennonite Church who recently wrote a book on spiritual disciplines. Read about this here: Pausing to Examine ‘Sacred Pauses.’

A required first year course at Columbia Bible College is Spiritual Formation where students read through Richard Foster’s Celebration of Discipline. CBC also offers a Worship Arts BA program where third and fourth year students learn worship ideas from the contemplative communities in Europe.(1)

The students spend a semester in Europe studying worship practices, art, architecture and church history. They spend time at Taizé, L’Abri, new congregations in Germany, and either Iona or Northumbria Community in order to learn about living in Christian community.”
– Andrew Dyck (mar 12 at 9:31 a.m.), In Europe, touching history moves faith deeper

Taize is an ecumenical community in France that combines forms of contemplative worship, mystical practices and interspiritual beliefs. Northumbria(2) and Iona(3) are similar ecumenical communities in Scotland.

All these factors together reveal how influential the ecumenical spiritual formation movement has been in this and many other colleges in North America. Therefore, it’s ironic that ALL of the speakers at this August’s free conference at Columbia Bible College teach very strongly, based on the Word of God, against the very things that are making their way in through the doors of this Bible college. Will this conference be attended by any Mennonites who are departing from God’s Word by incorporating Roman Catholic spiritual formation into Columbia Bible College programs? If so, their ears may not like what they hear, but God often speaks lovingly to his children that way when they are straying from the truth.


1) See CBC Worship Arts BA program here:

2) Northumbria practices “a way of living centred in our Rule of Life of Availability and Vulnerability. The Rule, along with our Daily Office (Celtic Daily Prayer), reflects the influence of the monastic tradition in the development of Community ethos.”(http://www.northumbriacommunity.org/)

3) Iona: (http://iona.org.uk/)

Note: See Jacob Prasch’s Itinerary here.


Beginners and Beggars?

“I appreciate Thomas Merton’s perspective that “we will never be anything else but beginners.”” April Yamasaki

At her Sacred Pauses book launch at a Christian Bible and book store, author and pastor April Yamasaki ended her book promotion with this quote from Thomas Merton (at 14:15 minutes HERE):

We do not want to be beginners. But let us be convinced of the fact that we will never be anything else but beginners.
Thomas Merton, Excerpts from Contemplative Prayer, in Richard J.Foster and James Bryan Smith, eds., Devotional Classics (Harper: San Fransisco, 1993), 64

-From page 180, Sacred Pauses: Spiritual Practices for Personal Renewal, Herald Press, by April Yamasaki

To find out who Thomas Merton was, listen to the following discussion (between the 5-8 minute marks) with Christian author and researcher, Ray Yungen:

As mentioned in the above video, when Trappist monk Thomas Merton went on his spiritual quest to meet with the Buddhist monks, he went as a pilgrim, not as a missionary evangelist. After reading the Merton quote in her book Sacred Pauses, April Yamasaki went on to read more from her book:

“Just as evangelism has been described as one beggar telling another beggar where there is bread, that applies here too. When it comes to spiritual practice, we are all like beggars telling other beggars where there is bread to nourish our souls.”

-April Yamasaki, page 180, Sacred Pauses: Spiritual Practices for Personal Renewal, Herald Press

In the Bible, a beggar was someone in want, a poor and needy person of the lowest class, oppressed, afflicted and wretched, needing deliverance from trouble by God, as we read in 1 Samuel:

“He raiseth up the poor out of the dust, [and] lifteth up the beggar from the dunghill, to set [them] among princes, and to make them inherit the throne of glory: for the pillars of the earth [are] the LORD’S, and he hath set the world upon them. He will keep the feet of his saints, and the wicked shall be silent in darkness; for by strength shall no man prevail.”
1 Samuel 2:8,9

Beggars were reduced to begging because they were lowly, afflicted, often full of sores, helpless, powerless, and lacking in anything. A beggar cowers down, slinks or crouches in fear. They are destitute of wealth, influence, position and honour. But believers are not beggars, they are rich in Christian virtues and an eternal inheritance. Paul prayed for believers in Christ that:

“The eyes of your understanding being enlightened; that ye may know what is the hope of his calling, and what the riches of the glory of his inheritance in the saints, And what [is] the exceeding greatness of his power to us-ward who believe, according to the working of his mighty power”
Ephesians 1:18,19

Believers in Jesus Christ who have been rescued by God are not destitute beggars:

“Now therefore ye are no more strangers and foreigners, but fellow citizens with the saints, and of the household of God” Ephesians 2:19

To believe that we as Christians will never be anything but beggars and beginners is walking in contradiction to the Bible, which tells us that we are to grow in our walk, not remain babes. Believers are to grow in knowledge according to Christ’s divine power (2 Peter 1). The Bible addresses those who are never anything but beginners:

For every one that useth milk [is] unskilful in the word of righteousness: for he is a babe. But strong meat belongeth to them that are of full age, [even] those who by reason of use have their senses exercised to discern both good and evil.
Hebrews 5:13,14

Would you agree that Christians who admire quotes from Thomas Merton which contradict the Bible, or believe that as saints in Christ we are merely beggars, may need to get back to the Bible and be reminded  who they are in Christ?

“Henceforth I call you not servants; for the servant knoweth not what his lord doeth: but I have called you friends; for all things that I have heard of my Father I have made known unto you.”
– Jesus Christ, John 15:15


Pausing to Examine ‘Sacred Pauses’

Ray Yungen will be speaking at Columbia Bible College, Abbotsford, B.C. Canada, this August 15th-17th. [See SCHEDULE.]  Also speaking at this conference will be Jacob Prasch of Moriel Ministries. How ironic that these men, who speak so strongly against contemplative Roman Catholic spirituality entering the evangelical church, will be speaking at a Mennonite college that has been promoting those exact things.

See also:
Will Mennonites Be Attending This Conference?

Pausing to Examine ‘Sacred Pauses’

This March, Frank Viola interviewed the author of a new book called Sacred Pauses: Spiritual Practices for Personal Renewal published by Herald Press(1). In the interview, April Yamasaki, lead pastor of Emmanuel Mennonite Church (B.C., Canada), indicated that her views of finding God’s presence are drawn from sources like Mother Teresa(2), Henri Nouwen, and the 14th century Cloud of Unknowing.

She also draws from and the spiritual exercises of St. Ignatius of Loyola, even recommending a helpful introduction to Ignatian Spirituality(3), although Yamasaki’s book is more like a new kind of consumer friendly Jesuit spirituality.

One of the classic models for retreat is The Spiritual Exercises of St. Ignatius of Loyola, which is organized into four weeks to be completed along with a spiritual director. But even Saint Ignatius seemed to realize that was not possible or practical for everyone.”
– page 21, Chapter 1, Sacred Pauses

Sacred Pauses unfolds to give readers an easier, do it yourself at home recipe for part time retreat, Brother Lawrence style (page 22). Yamasaki draws from many other extra biblical sources to find ways of making sacred pauses with God, from recommending icons to “allow God to create that sacred space in you” (p 24), to Thomas Merton and Richard Foster (p 180).

In a recent Herald Press (Menno Media)(4) Interview with April Yamasaki, more of her sources were revealed:

Q: What other books have you read on this topic? How is your book different from others on this topic?
Richard Foster’s Celebration of Discipline is a classic; I also love Ruth Haley Barton’s Sacred Rhythms: Arranging Our Lives for Spiritual Transformation


Ruth Haley Barton’s book Sacred Rhythms and its unbiblical Roman Catholic mysticism is a classic example of contemplative spirituality making its way into Bible believing churches (please see this review). While Yamasaki’s theme that Christians in this day and age of distractions should take pauses for God is correct, isn’t she gleaning from many sources that not only contradict the Bible but are based on Roman Catholic spiritual formation? The only way to draw nearer to God is through Jesus Christ and His written Word, not through the mystical experiences of contemplative spirituality.

The July 2013 MB Herald magazine published a review of Sacred Pauses by Rachel Twiggs Boyce(5), pastor of House Blend Ministries, Winnipeg. Boyce says that “Sacred Pauses is a good book to begin to explore that sort of life-style.” What sort of life style is the ecumenical Boyce referring to? The slowed down more centered way of life as experienced by contemplative mystics?

Other contemplatives who have endorsed Sacred Pauses include Jan Johnson, J. Brent Bill, Quaker and author of Awaken Your Senses(6), and Benedictine oblate Arthur Boers(7), who wrote the foreword.

Do the Mennonites who promote Sacred Pauses actually believe that this is a book that equips the church with the gospel of Jesus Christ from an Anabaptist perspective, as their goals state on their websites? Would they change their minds if they paused to examine Yamasaki’s sources and contemplative spirituality in practice where she blogs at aprilyamasaki.com?(8)


1) Herald Press says on their website that they provide books that equip the church to experience and share the gospel of Jesus Christ from an Anabaptist perspective.

2) Mother Teresa quotes:
“There are so many religions and each one has its different ways of following God.”
“There is only one God and He is God to all; therefore it is important that everyone is seen as equal before God. I’ve always said we should help a Hindu become a better Hindu, a Muslim become a better Muslim, a Catholic become a better Catholic.”

3)  On page 184-185 Yamasaki recommends Inner Compass: An Invitation to Ignatian Spirituality (Loyola Press) by Margaret Silf, a book about the insights of St. Ignatius of Loyola’s Spiritual Exercises. In the Foreword of Inner Compass, Gerard W. Hughes (on page vii) wrote:
A friend of Ignatius, Jerome Nadal, on being asked for whome the Spiritual Exercises were suited, answered, “For Catholics, for Protestants, and for pagans”! Inner Compass is similarly suited.”

4) MennoMedia says on their website that they are an agency of Mennonite Church USA and Mennonite Church Canada, and 
seek to engage and shape church and society with resources 
for living Christian faith from an Anabaptist perspective.

5) Read previous concerns posted on this blog about the ecumenical Rachel Twigg Boyce:
Is the MB Conference Knowingly Condoning Ecumencial Inter-spiritual Practices?

6) MB Herald favourably reviewed J. Brent Bill’s book about sensual spirituality in November of 2012. See: Awaken Your Senses

7) Athur Boers is Benedictine oblate at St. Gregory’s Abbey. In December of 2010 the MB Herald promoted his book on monastic prayer. See: MB Herald promotes ancient rhythms of monastic prayer

8) How do you do contemplative prayer? (for I. who asked)
(April Yamasaki is married to Gary, teacher of biblical studies at Columbia Bible College in B.C., Canada.)



History of Ignatian Spirituality

Spiritual Disciplines: Some Thoughts

Beginners or Beggars?