If we believe the word of God to be true…

More from the pen of Menno Simons, who by today’s standards would be considered a ‘judgmental, hate-mongering, intolerant, exclusive, right-wing fundamentalist,’ even by those who so lightly call themselves and their institutions after his name but don’t take heed to his warnings from the grave….

“My readers, take heed, if we, with the upright and godly Noah, observe the faithful warnings of Christ and his Holy Spirit, and believe with the whole heart; believe the word of God to be true and immutable, the threatened punishment will come in its time, even though it should be delayed a thousand years; yet, I advise that every one watch, for all who die in their sins, receive their punishment, for the time of grace is then expired; then we would undoubtedly fear and tremble to the inmost of our souls, at the wrath and punishment, threatened in the Scriptures to all the impenitent which will be eternal in its duration; we would pray to God for grace, would clothe ourselves in sackcloth and mourning garments, would truly repent, reform the wicked life, follow after righteousness, and with our new and spiritual Noah, Christ Jesus, enter into the new and spiritual ark, which is his church; ever being careful and fearful that the deluge of the coming wrath of God, will not unexpectedly overtake us with all the unbelieving and impenitent, who acknowledge neither God nor Christ, neither Spirit nor word, as it overtook the corrupt antediluvian world as mentioned; yea, we would sincerely watch for the coming of the Lord, and give heed to the time of grace, preserve our wedding garment, and have oil in our lamps, that our house be not unseasonably broken through, and we with the guest, who had not on a wedding garment, be cast forth from the Lord’s wedding, into outer darkness and abide eternally without.
Because alas, we do not believe the threats, punishments, wrath and judgments of the Lord, and have little regard for the examples of Scripture, therefore, we say with the mockers, Beloved, where is the promise of his coming? All things abide as they were from the beginning since the fathers fell asleep. It will, I fear, happen with us as it did with the unbelievers and disobedient who were overtaken with sudden destruction in the time of Noah and Lot, as one may plainly see and read concerning the coming of the Lord, Matt. 24; Luke 17; because we do not believe the threats, judgments, and wrath of the Lord, but disregard them, therefore do we lead such a reckless, unbridled life, follow the lusts of the flesh, eat, drink, build, sow, reap and marry without any fear or care, and avariciously hoard up gold, silver and possessions, and haughtily say in our hearts there is peace and liberty, till swift destruction shall overtake us.
Again, let every one look well and watch. The messenger, with his peremptory summons is already at the door, who will say, Render an account; thou mayest be no longer steward. But could we, with the unwavering and pious Noah, firmly believe the coming eternal wrath and punishment, also the promises through Christ, to all true Children of God, we would, undoubtedly, not be found so inattentive, drowsy and indifferent, but with full earnestness without delay, rise from our abominable sin, separate ourselves from our grievous errors, and shun wickedness as we would a hungry, roaring lion, or a blood-thirsty enemy; we should also watch with open eyes all our days, lest the Master of the house overtake us when we sleep and regard us not.”

SOURCE: Noah’s Faith
http://www.mennosimons.net/ft027-noahsfaith.html

Mennonite Palestinianism

A conference was recently held called Impact Holy Land which was attended by well meaning Mennonites. It came into being because of the Christ at the Checkpoint conferences in 2010 and 2012 that were supposedly formed to allow conversations between Christians and Messianic Jews. Impact Holy Land was meant to continue the conversation in the U.S. Because of their partnership with Bethlehem Bible College, representatives from the MCC participated in the conference, enlisting the Mennonite Church USA (Peace and Justice Support Network), to help recruit pastors and leaders to attend.

The following is how the article in the February issue of the MB Herald[1] called Anabaptists join conversation to Impact Holy Land[2] begins.

Shireen Awwad Hilal, a Palestinian Christian, has hope for Israel-Palestine.

“Few people view our situation with hope, and the concept of reconciliation is controversial,” she said at the Impact Holy Land conference Dec. 4–6. “Let us commit to see hope where others see hopelessness.”

Hilal teaches and is assistant dean of students at Bethlehem Bible College, a partner of Mennonite Central Committee. She believes in the power of relationships, which she sees in her role as the women’s minister for Musalaha (Reconciliation), an organization developing relationships between Palestinian and Israeli believers.

“When you know names, you have a friendship,” she said. “You begin to see what you have in common with a stranger.”

The conference, organized by Evangelicals for Social Action, was meant to open conversation around differing perspectives on Israel-Palestine. It was held at the Friends Center in downtown Philadelphia.

About 250 attendees came from a variety of perspectives, including more than 50 Anabaptists. MCC U.S. awarded 50 scholarships for Anabaptists to attend…

Do these conferences truly offer hope for Israel, as claimed? Or is there another agenda underway? As Jan Markel warned just today, there are some very big problems with Christ at the Checkpoint and its associations of which these Mennonites seem to be completely unaware. The next Christ at the Checkpoint conference is coming up very soon. Markel warns…

The event, sponsored by the Bethlehem Bible College, is really all about blaming Israel and her evangelical supporters for most of the problems in the region. It is about hammering away at the “occupation” by Israel of the Palestinians. Those who criticize Christian support of Israel will get applause and even standing ovations. Theology that stresses Israel’s important role in biblical prophecy will be put down. Replacement Theology, which teaches that the church is the new Israel, will be an underlying theme although the leaders will deny that.

The group will gather frequently at the partition wall that separates Israel from the Palestinian territories to mourn the persecution of the Palestinians whose lives have been interrupted by this “checkpoint.” There will be little explanation that the wall was built to stop the brutal Palestinian terror incursions into Israel to slit the throats of innocent Israeli citizens. Or to plant bombs on buses that have taken scores of Israeli lives.

What you will hear will be empathy for Islamists and rhetoric about pacifism. There will be endless calls for peace at the CATC conferences but no acknowledgment that Israel has negotiated for peace for decades. It’s just that she does not have a peace partner. Her Islamic neighbors want her pushed into the sea. She offered to accept 95% of Yaser Arafat’s demands at Camp David in 2000. He returned to Palestine rejecting the offer and chose more war.[3]

The well meaning, peace loving Mennonites who are involved in Impact Holy Land and Christ at the Checkpoint would do well to take heed and look to the Prince of Peace to lead them to all truth. When He returns to ‘impact the Holy Land’, it won’t be to ‘occupied territory’!

Endnotes:

[1] http://mbherald.com/february-issue-2014/
[2] Written by Kelli Yoder (assistant editor for the Mennonite World Review, where this article first appeared)http://mbherald.com/anabaptists-join-conversation-to-impact-holy-land-2/
[3] Jesus Isn’t Coming Back to “Occupied Territory” http://archive.constantcontact.com/fs138/1101818841456/archive/1116572784466.html

Related:

Mennonites and Christ at the Checkpoint
June 2012
https://mennolite.wordpress.com/2012/06/19/mennonites-and-christ-at-the-checkpoint/

Christ at the Checkpoint 2014: Reconciliation or Indictment?
Feb 7, 2014
http://www.newantisemitism.com/2014/02/christ-at-checkpoint-2014.html

Christ at the Checkpoint 2014 Manifestly Biased Manifest
http://roshpinaproject.com/2013/10/22/christ-at-the-checkpoint-2014-manifestly-biased-manifesto/

New DVD Exposes “Christian Palestinianism” and the Evangelical Leaders Promoting It
http://www.lighthousetrailsresearch.com/blog/?p=14603

The New Anti-Semitism
http://www.israelmyglory-digital.com/israelmyglory/20130102?pg=42#pg15

All Who Truly Believe

A reminder from the pen of Menno Simons, preserved for the benefit of modern Mennonites (the Menno-lites) who still identify with his name but not what he believed or stood for….

“All those who sincerely believe the righteous judgment of God and his eternal wrath over all sin and wickedness, and do not doubt in spirit, look at the fallen angels; they look at the first, depraved world, at Sodom and Gomorrah, and upon disobedient, refractory Israel. They take particular notice how God humbled his innocent Son, who knew no sin, and in whose mouth guile was not found; how he was humbled, and made the most miserable among men for the sake of our sins. Yea, that he was so beaten and tortured, that while extended on the cross, he piteously complained to his Father saying, “My God, my God, why halt thou forsaken me?” Matt. 27:45.
All who truly believe this, will certainly flee from all unrighteousness, as they would from the fangs of a serpent; they turn away from all sins, and dread them more than a burning fire, or a piercing sword, for their whole mind and conscience testify to them, that if they knowingly and willfully sin against the law and word of God, and do not receive Christ in a pure and good conscience, live according to the flesh, and despise the inviting voice of God that they will fall under the dreadful, eternal sentence and wrath of God.”

SOURCE: Menno Simons, THE TRUE CHRISTIAN BELIEF.
http://www.mennosimons.net/ft026-truechristianbelief.html

Ruth Haley Barton Trains Mennonites to Discern in the Silence

Last month, hundreds of people at Eastern Mennonite Seminary explored the discernment process of difficult church issues. The topic was fuelled by EMU’s announcement of a listening process for hiring homosexuals and the Mountain States Mennonite Conference’s decision to license a gay pastor.

To help this new process was an “elephant in the room” service where participants were told to imagine themselves in the presence of Jesus with people they disagreed with.

One of the speakers teaching these leaders in the discernment training process was Ruth Haley Barton, founder of the Transforming Center in Wheaton, Ill., who told them that it starts with “spiritually formed leaders who are intentionally attuned to the Holy Spirit” and spend time in prayer and solitude. Barton’s process outline for discernment in meetings included group sharing, listening to God, prayer and time spent in silence.

Often, according to Barton, the time spent in silence is key to the decision-making process.
“After 30 minutes of silence when each member of the group spends time seeking God, often a way forward emerges,” Barton said.
“If the group is ready to respond, each member is asked to voice their level of agreement — either completely agree, agree with some reservations, don’t agree but will defer to the process of the group, or don’t agree at all. If people don’t agree, then the process begins again. Unity is the marker that God’s will is being done.”
Source: Seminary program confronts discernment issues
http://www.mennoworld.org/2014/2/17/seminary-program-confronts-discernment-issues

Biblical truth is not mentioned in this experience based discernment process. Maybe this is because it didn’t work for Ruth Haley Barton, as she admitted…

“A few years ago, I began to recognize an inner chaos in my soul . . . No matter how much I prayed, read the Bible, and listened to good teaching, I could not calm the internal roar created by questions with no answers.”
Source: http://www.lighthousetrailsresearch.com/ruthhaleybarton.htm

Barton then sought spiritual direction at the Shalem Institute for Spiritual Formation, where she learned the ancient disciplines and practices of contemplative spirituality.

Instead of being trained to seek God’s written Word for discernment on issues He has already spoken so clearly about, these Mennonite leaders at EMU are being trained to use their imaginations and find direction based on group experience and what they hear in the silence of contemplative prayer.

Related:

The Spiritual Journey of Ruth Haley Barton
http://www.truthkeepers.com/?page_id=125

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

WHO IS RUTH HALEY BARTON?
http://apprising.org/2008/09/17/who-is-ruth-haley-barton/

MC USA Executive Board releases statement on LBGTQ inclusion
http://www.themennonite.org/issues/17-2/articles/MC_USA_Executive_Board_releases_statement_on_LBGT_inclusion

UPDATE: July 2015

One result of the above “listening process”:

Two Mennonite Colleges Announce Hiring Policy Change to Employ ‘Married’ Homosexuals
http://christiannews.net/2015/07/22/two-mennonite-colleges-announce-hiring-policy-change-to-employ-married-homosexuals/

Imagine That

Worship acknowledges ‘elephant’
By Laura Lehman Amstutz
Eastern Mennonite University

HARRISONBURG, Va. — Participants in the School for Leadership Training at Eastern Mennonite Seminary did not tiptoe for three days around the “elephant in the room” — the anguish felt by many over congregational disagreements in regard to same-sex relationships.

A highlight appeared to be a worship service titled “Offering the Elephant in the Room to the Holy Spirit.”

Participants were invited to imagine themselves in the presence of Jesus and then to imagine themselves in the presence of Jesus with someone with whom they disagree. Each person wrote down hopes and fears for themselves and for the person with whom they disagreed and placed both at the foot of the cross.

“This worship service created time and space for the Spirit to move among us,” said Beth Yoder, associate pastor at Salford Mennonite Church in Har­leysville, Pa. “I know without doubt that the full gamut of beliefs about this question was represented.”

Yet, at the end of the service these people gathered together, prayed together and wept together at the foot of the cross.

As each person in the room remembered his or her own relationship with God and then remembered that even those who vehemently disagree with them are also beloved children of God, tears flowed.

More here:

http://www.mennoworld.org/2014/2/17/worship-acknowledges-elephant/

Imagine that.

Where do Mennonites, Monasteries and Jesuits Intersect?

In an article called Pray and Work[1] in the February issue[2] of the MB Herald, the author attempts to answer the question; where do prayer and deed intersect? But another question remains unanswered; where do Mennonites and Benedictine monks and Jesuits intersect?

Here is an excerpt from Pray and Work (MB Herald):

The Protestant work ethic shouts: “Work harder, do more, give more!” The contemplative ethic tells us to pray more, go deeper with God, reflect on our activity. Perhaps the answer is in both.
Holy dependence
I’ve often heard we should “pray as if everything depended on God and work as if everything depended on you.” This proverb (often attributed to Ignatius of Loyola) seems prudent – an appropriate mix of dependence on Christ and the Protestant work ethic that has served us so well.
While this saying appears wise at first glance, it’s poorly conceived. If we apply it to our lives, we risk falling into self-sufficiency and independence from God. It’s the Jesuit version of “God helps those who help themselves.” If I work as though ministry is all my responsibility, I’m liable to create my own kingdom based on my good works. Who needs God if I work as if everything depends on me?
Some suggest that St. Ignatius’ comments were more along the lines of: “Work as if everything depended on God, pray as if everything depended on you.”
Father Mark Stengel, who contributes to the Country Monks blog, summed it up well…

What follows is a lengthy quote from Father Mark Stengel, the oblate director at the Subiaco Abbey in Arkansas, home of 40 monks who follow the rule of St. Benedict and chant prayers 5 times a day. Father Stengel is a contributor to the blog on the Abbey’s website (www.countrymonks.us).

“Saint” Ignatius of Loyola[3] was the founder of the Jesuits, an order formed to bring about the counter reformation, which continues today (through much more civil efforts than 500 years ago) to convert Protestants back to the Mother Church of Rome. Roger Oakland says that “in a way, it is more insidious than the Inquisitions, because now it has infiltrated Christianity and is being disguised as the “new” Christianity.”[4]

Where do Mennonites and Benedictine monks and Jesuits intersect?
Answer: at the ecumenical crossroads where the cross of Christ and the gospel of truth is compromised.

Endnotes:
[1] http://mbherald.com/pray-and-work/
[2] http://mbherald.com/february-issue-2014/
[3] http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Ignatius_of_Loyola
[4] Understanding The Jesuit Agenda and the Evangelical/Protestant Church http://www.understandthetimes.org/jesuit.shtml

Related:

Of Saints and Fathers.
http://gerdapeacheysviews.wordpress.com/2014/02/02/of-saints-and-fathers/

Mennonites and St. Ignatius
https://mennolite.wordpress.com/2010/10/26/mennonites-and-st-ignatius/