Timothy, Take Heed

In the January 2014[1] issue of the MB Herald is an article called They will know us by our theological arrogance[2] by Tim Neufeld[3]. In it he gives advice to move past all the drama of winning theological differences and arguments, and be known by our “love for one another”. The first suggestion is to read broadly and the last is to practice what you preach. For the second idea, he writes:

2. Learn about traditions outside your own.
The history of the church includes different periods, styles and practices of Christian faith. For example, Richard Foster identifies six historical traditions in Streams of Living Water: contemplative, holiness, charismatic, social justice, evangelical and incarnational influences of spirituality. Exposure to other traditions leads to gracious embrace of those who are theologically dissimilar.
Occasionally, I attend an evening vespers service at a nearby convent where worshipping with a small group of Roman Catholic sisters has taught me the importance of quiet reflection in the presence of Christ. We pray, read Scripture and sing with a serene reverence that ministers to the core of my busy soul. I’ve had similar experiences of prayer and worship at a Greek Orthodox monastery located in the mountains an hour from where I live.
I don’t always understand the observances or agree completely with the theology of these communities, but I’m deeply challenged by the piety of their worship.

The problem with this idea is that there is a difference between learning about other traditions and immersing yourself in them while participating. This is how so many Christians have become involved in contemplative spirituality. Richard Foster[4] not only identifies other traditions, he teaches the spirituality behind them and has led countless sincere Christians onto the path of the contemplative mystics. Neufeld is right that there is piety in the worship of Roman Catholic nuns and the Greek Orthodox tradition, but which Jesus[5] are they worshipping? How can two walk together, unless they are agreed? (Amos 3:3)

Neufeld’s third point also involves a caution. While recommending talking to Christians from other cultures to create awareness, he says:

Native American pastor Richard Twiss’s challenge toward reconciliation, especially among and on behalf of First Nations people, has shaped my understanding of forgiveness and oppression.

There is nothing wrong with talking to Christians from other cultures. The difficulty here is that Richard Twiss “continues to teach that the Great Spirit is the Holy Spirit by wearing the cultural items associated with the Great Spirit, even though it is a historical fact that the Great Spirit is a pantheistic god that required blood rituals and human sacrifice. Richard Twiss claims that what he is doing is not syncretism, when it is the very definition of syncretism.”[3] This is something that was further confirmed recently at the Emergent Village Theological Conference that he took part in.[4]

Tim Neufeld’s prayer that those outside the church will know us for our love, not our theological arrogance, should be the prayer of every Christian. We should practice what we preach and learn from others, but not at the expense of compromising doctrine and leading others astray, whether it be into contemplative spirituality or syncretism. Doctrine is important. In the Bible we read Paul exhorting another Timothy to…

Take heed unto thyself, and unto the doctrine; continue in them: for in doing this thou shalt both save thyself, and them that hear thee. 1 Timothy 4:16

The truth is, we can be known as loving and caring and still hold to doctrine and stand up for truth.

Finally, the MB Herald directs readers to Tim Neufeld’s blog, Occasio (timneufeld.blogs.com), where he promotes Bono, U2 Sermons, and the One Campaign (one.org), of which Bono is on the board of directors.[8]

Timothy, take heed.

Endnotes:

[1] http://mbherald.com/january-14-issue/
[2] http://mbherald.com/they-will-know-us-by-our-theological-arrogance/
[3] Tim Neufeld is associate professor of contemporary Christian ministries at Fresno (Cal.) Pacific University.
[4] Richard Foster:http://www.lighthousetrailsresearch.com/fosterlinks.htm
[5] Watch: Another Jesus http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=dncdIxJeA8U
[6] “Richard Twiss is spreading the doctrines of the New Apostolic Reformation and is endorsed by them. He claims that the Great Spirit of the Indians is the Holy Spirit of the Bible. . . He continues to teach that the Great Spirit is the Holy Spirit by wearing the cultural items associated with the Great Spirit, even though it is a historical fact that the Great Spirit is a pantheistic god that required blood rituals and human sacrifice. Richard Twiss claims that what he is doing is not syncretism, when it is the very definition of syncretism.”http://www.deceptioninthechurch.com/twissquotes.html
Also see: http://www.deceptioninthechurch.com/reasonstoreject.html
[7] At the 2010 Emergent Village Theological Conference, which Richard Twiss was a part of, a blog for the event states:
“Richard Twiss . . . began by blessing us with sage incense and having a member of his team dance a healing dance. . . . He moved from rejecting his reservation upbringing, to re-discovering his heritage and hating white people, coming to faith in Christ through evangelical churches, walking away again from his heritage, to re-re-discovering his Native culture and integrating it into his faith.” – Emergent Village Theological Conference, http://iowaemergent.blogspot.com/2010/11/emergent-village-theological-conference.html
*Also related: NEW PRINT BOOKLET TRACT: Can Cultures Be Redeemed? (Some Things You Should Know About the Indigenous People’s Movement) http://www.lighthousetrailsresearch.com/blog/?p=11295
[8] For an eye opening revelation on Bono and the One Campaign, please read this informative article with pictures, video clips and links, here:
U2′s Bono, Unorthodox Superman http://www.submergingchurch.com/2013/07/05/u2′s-bono-unorthodox-superman/
Also see:
Bono: David sang the blues and Jesus did some punk rock https://www.thebereancall.org/content/bono-david-sang-blues-and-jesus-did-some-punk-rock
Also related: U2’s Music And Moments Of Vertigo by Tim Neufeld http://www.usmb.org/u2s-music-and-moments-of-vertigo

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