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?
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:
WHY IS THE MB HERALD FEATURING “A RADICAL PRAYER GATHERING” LED BY RACHEL TWIGG-BOYCE?
Is the MB Conference Knowingly Condoning Ecumencial Inter-spiritual Practices?
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.)
THE DANGERS OF CONTEMPLATIVE PRAYER
History of Ignatian Spirituality
Spiritual Disciplines: Some Thoughts
Beginners or Beggars?