Sabeel, Merton, Mennonite Convergence

This week, Menno-lite has been exploring the link between the Mennonites and the anti-Israel agenda. Much of the information on this topic applies to other church denominations and Christian organizations, like the following ministry which is not Mennonite per se, but does have Mennonite project leaders.

Bartimaeus Cooperative Ministries is a Christian revisionist group that was founded in 1998 as ‘an ecumenical experiment.’ BCM works towards justice and discipleship in communities, and currently has several project areas headed up by Mennonites. One of those is Ched Myers, an ecumenical Mennonite activist specializing in theologically educating churches and faith-based movements towards peace, justice and radical discipleship.[1]

On the BCM blog, Ched Meyers recently made a posting called Sabeel Global Young Adult Festival:

“Imagine rebuilding a family’s demolished home in one week. Or replanting a burned down olive grove in a day. Or challenging discrimination with the mischievous fun of a solidarity flash mob.

”These are the sorts of things you could be doing in Palestine and Israel this summer.”
- Sabeel’s Festival Invitation

Dear colleagues: 
In spring of 2011 and 2012 I traveled to Palestine/Israel to learn about the painful, but also inspiring, realities of this troubled place. Both times I was hosted by colleagues at the Jerusalem-based Sabeel Ecumenical Liberation Theology Center, an organization that I believe is the best “midwife” for faith-based international visitors to the Holy Land.
This spring I am home, but my mind and heart are very much with our friends still struggling for justice and peace in places like Hebron, Taybeh and Nazareth. This year, I want others to see what I saw…
We at BCM strongly support this gathering, which will be co-hosted by another of our international partners, Diakonia (Sweden), and led by the indefatigable Sabeel staff Omar Haramy (pictured right). In this critical historical moment, I want to urge you, and/or a young adult friend of yours who has never been to Palestine/Israel, to attend… 
Easter blessings, Ched Myers

The facts about Sabeel should alarm Christians that invitations like this are becoming a disturbing trend.

Here is the problem:

Sabeel Ecumenical Liberation Theology Center, headquartered in Jerusalem, has been a persistent source of anti-Zionist agitation in mainline Protestant churches in the United States since its founding in 1994. The organization subjects Israel, Jews, and Judaism to intense scrutiny while remaining nearly silent about Arab and Muslim extremism in the Middle East. In addition to publicizing the writings of its founder, Anglican priest Naim Ateek, Sabeel broadcasts its message via regional conferences in the United States and regular study missions to Israel. Far-Left American and Israeli Jews are given prominent display at Sabeel conferences, where Israel is held up to a strict biblical standard of conduct while its adversaries are held to no standard at all. By giving its followers the sense that they are engaging in a showdown with the forces of evil embodied by Israel and its U.S supporters, Sabeel reenacts the church-synagogue rivalry documented in early Christian writings.Read much more about Sabeel here:
Updating the Ancient Infrastructure of Christian Contempt: Sabeel

Those who work with Sabeel are only supporting what Sabeel supports, which is; the “one state solution” (the elimination of Israel as a Jewish state). How can any Christian group align themselves with the claims of Sabeel’s director, who blames Israel for suicide bombing attacks?[2]

Paul Wilkinson, who attended the Sabeel conference in 2004, said:

“…the Lord prompted me so clearly to go out to Israel for the very first time and witness this movement called Sabeel, and see all these evangelical leaders assembling in Jerusalem, basically, to condemn Israel, to condemn the United States for supporting Israel, and to condemn all Christians for supporting Israel based on a literal interpretation of the Word of God, and that’s where I met men like Stephen Sizer, Gary Burge, Donald Wagner—leading evangelicals within the Anglican and Presbyterian churches who, as I mentioned in a previous program, lined up with Yasser Arafat and gave him their support and their endorsement, and that shows you the power of this movement I’ve termed, “Christian Palestinianism,” that Yasser Arafat would want to meet with this group involved with the Sabeel conference.”
Source: Paul Wilkinson, T. A. McMahon & Paul Wilkinson (Part 4)

A few years after Wilkinson witnessed what this movement was about, Mennonite ecumenical activist Ched Myers was a keynote speaker at Sabeel’s eighth International Conference in Bethlehem Feb. 22-28, 2011. Now he is inviting students to Sabeel through Bartimaeus Cooperative Ministries. In light of what this movement stands for, one cannot help seeing the parallels with another movement in history.

“…Hitler targeted the youth. He had the whole Hitler Youth Movement, because he knew if he could get the young people onboard, wow! He would have a powerful force behind him. And, you know, I was in Bethlehem at the Checkpoint Conference and there were young students wearing the Palestinian Keffiyah—that headscarf, the black and white checkered scarf—they’d been brought there to Bethlehem by Gary Burge and Tony Campolo and Shane Claiborne, and you could just see how much they were being swept along on the hype and the emotion and the propaganda that was coming from that platform, and Satan is certainly targeting the youth in our church today.”
Source: Paul Wilkinson, T. A. McMahon & Paul Wilkinson (Part 4)

Inviting students to Sabeel is one way to get more people in the movement. This is why the BDS campaign targets university campuses. How alarming that all these movements are backed by Christian organizations. In spite of all the truth twisting, recent Christian donors of Sabeel include, among others, Church of Scotland; Presbyterian Church USA; Presbyterian Church of Canada; United Church of Christ and the Mennonite Central Committee (U.S. and Canada).

This is why it’s not a surprise to see an ecumenical Mennonite activist like Ched Meyers promoting Sabeel. But there is another surprise. On his resource website[3] Ched Meyers has the following blog post (dated Feb. 3):

Reflecting on the 50th anniversary of a historic peacemaking retreat with Merton

One of the joys of assessing manuscripts by new authors is discovering both a good story and a good storyteller. So it was a delight working with Gordon Oyer, a midwest Mennonite, on his book project documenting the historic retreat of pioneering peacemakers with Thomas Merton in the fall of 1964 (in photo above), which included A.J. Muste, J.H. Yoder, the Berrigan brothers, Jim Forest and others.
Three powerful faith traditions–Anabaptist peace ecclesiology, Catholic radicalism and Protestant political theology–converged for the first time at that legendary retreat at Merton’s hermitage. The resulting synergy has fueled North American Christian activism ever since . . . Oyer has gifted us with a magnificent chronicle of that seminal event in his forthcoming Pursuing The Spiritual Roots of Protest, due out from Cascade Books in March.
Two retreats around the book are being planned. The first is just two months away, and will be held at Kirkridge in PA[4]. . . Another is being planned for October 24-25 at the Merton Center in Louisville, KY.

As for Merton:

Wayne Teasdale , who wrote A Monk in the World, saw Thomas Merton as being one of the leading interspiritual visionaries as Merton assimilated “the major spiritual classics of the east into his Christian understanding, particularly Zen Buddhist, Hindu Vedanta, Yoga texts and Taoist classics.” Wayne Teasdale also said of Merton: “He was consciously trying to relate the mystical insights of other traditions with his own Christian faith.” p.181
SOURCE: Thomas Merton – Contemplative, Mystic, Panentheist

Is it really a surprise when Mennonite theology converges with Merton and Sabeel? It all seems to fit with the the revisionist themes of ecumenical experiments and Mennonite activists. The only surprise in these perilous times is when the truth is spoken.


February 16, 2014



Palestinian Liberation Theology Exposed Jan 20, 2014
Reverend Dr. Naim Stifan Ateek (Arab Palestinian Anglican priest and founder of Sabeel International Ecumenical Liberation Theology Center in Jerusalem) attempts to revise history.


2 thoughts on “Sabeel, Merton, Mennonite Convergence

  1. Pingback: McLaren’s Palestinian Justice Speech, Part 1 | Menno-lite

  2. Pingback: Anti-Christian Zionist Event Organized by a ‘Mennodox’? | Menno-lite

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