McLaren’s Palestinian Justice Speech, Part 2

In the last half of his plenary talk at a FOSNA conference this April in Portland, Oregon, in his case to prove that Christians are responsible for creating the injustice that currently exists in Palestine, Brian McLaren went into further detail about his problem with all the accounts in the Bible where God said to wipe out the surrounding nations, people and even animals, in what he calls the ‘texts of genocide.’

“Through its appropriation of “texts of terror” and especially through the application of those texts to the Jews, the Christian religion created the conditions for the oppression of Palestinians.”
-Brian McLaren, Seeds of Hope and Justice for Palestinians and Israelis [1]

McLaren then talked about the holocaust being one of many world wide genocidal atrocities which the church has been behind, saying that “The lament that Christians should have is that Israel is treating Palestinians exactly the way Christians treated Jews, and we now lament that past.”

But is it true that the Christian religion created the conditions for oppression of Palestine? While many atrocities in the world have been done in the name of Christ, is it true for McLaren to say that Israel is treating Palestinians the way Jews were treated in the Holocaust?

First of all, it was Hitler and the Unholy Alliance who were behind the annihilation of the Jews. Secondly, Israel today treats the Palestinians better than they are treated by their own leaders. Where is the genocide happening in Israel? Just this week Prime Minister Binyamin Netanyahu showed to the world “the true Israel, the advanced, modern and tolerant Israel, in effect, the only country in the Middle East that ensures complete freedom of worship to those of all faiths, guards the holy places and ensures the rights of all – Jews, Muslims, Christians, everybody.”[2]

Israel is not oppressing Palestinians. The exploitation of Palestinians appears to be coming from a leadership that does not want peace, using its people as pawns while trying to annihilate Israel.

The reality is that Israel, not only as a country, but as individual citizens, lives at peace with the Palestinians. Hard to believe – but it’s true. Since 1947, when Israel accepted the U.N. Partition Plan, which gave them sovereignty over a crumb of land, Israel has continuously reached out to the Arabs for peace, only to be met with a just as continuous chant of no, no, no.

Israel at Peace, Palestinians at War

(It is important to understand all the facts in the above article if one is to counter the anti-Israel myths.)

Nearly at the ten minute mark in the second half of his talk, McLaren says that “More of us are going to have to stand up to the Christian Zionists and others…”

Christian Zionists everywhere should be alarmed by that statement and prepared to stand up for Israel and ask McLaren and friends how they think this is going to look.

In a classic misinterpretation of the Bible, McLaren said that after Jesus read the scroll of Isaiah and rolled it up (Luke 4), what he meant by doing that is that it’s time to move on from the ‘vengeance way’ of reading the Bible, the ‘exclusive way’ – and on to a ‘universal way’ of reading the Bible.

One day men like McLaren will tremble at the real reason that Jesus stopped reading in the middle of the prophecy. He purposely stopped at the comma because the next part was about his second coming. Jesus came the first time to do his ministry in order to set the captives free. We are now living in the comma, in the age of grace, the church age, before His second coming. When the other half of the Isaiah prophecy is fulfilled – then the world will see that the ‘vengeance’ part was not left out by Jesus to move on to a ‘universal way’, as Mclaren would have his listeners believe.

At the 12:22 minute mark, McLaren says: “It is time to join with Jews, Muslims, and others who seek peace, justice and the common good.”

Someone should ask McLaren to explain why (if the religion of Islam truly seeks peace) do the Muslim nations want to destroy Israel and drive them into the sea? If they really want peace, why did they not accept the peace offerings they were first given? Are Palestinians really ‘victims’ of an ‘occupation’?

Palestinians would not have become refugees in 1948 had they agreed to the 1947 UN Partition Plan. There would have been no Palestinian refugees, had they chosen not to attack and terrorize the Jewish community in Palestine in 1929, 1936-1939, and later in 1948, when they attempted to extinguish the nascent Jewish state. History repeated itself in 1967. After the Six Day War, Israel offered to negotiate peace with the Arab States. The response came from the Khartoum, Arab Summit, “No to Peace, No to negotiations with Israel, and No to recognition of Israel.”
… The “occupation” mantra is meant to appeal to emotions and not facts. Israel is the legal administrator of the territories until a peace settlement is reached. The “occupation” could have ended in 1967 if the Arab states and the PLO had agreed to make peace as UN Resolution 242 required. The Palestinians could have acquired statehood in 1947, or once again under the Oslo Accords process. They chose instead to launch an intifada (uprising) against Israel, rather than “end the conflict.”

The Self-Inflicted Palestinian Victimhood

Near the end of his talk, McLaren promotes his new book, “We Make the Road by Walking” (a re-imagined re-telling of the Bible). On his powerpoint beside his book is a CS Lewis photo with the caption: “It is time to reclaim the Bible as “a book for grown ups.” This CS Lewis quote seems to be out of context. It is from Mere Christianity, where Lewis makes fun of those who reject the Christian’s idea of heaven because they don’t want to spend eternity playing harps. He says, “The answer to such people is that if they cannot understand books written for grown-ups, they should not talk about them” (p 121, Mere Christianity). Perhaps it is time for someone to suggest to Brian McLaren that if he cannot understand the Bible, he should not try to re-tell it [3].

Under McLaren’s powerpoint topical sentence: “We cannot be naive about the possible subconscious motivations for maintaining the status quo,” he notes that what happened recently with World Vision (hiring gays)[4] was just a matter of economic bullying by the elite. One of his other points, which he does not read out loud, is; “legitimization for a new scapegoat Islam”.[5] Does this mean that McLaren thinks that Islam is being bullied by the elite?

McLaren ends his presentation with a ‘thanks to Sabeel for the great leadership’ [6] followed by a very short Q&A where at 16 minutes he says that ‘the fundamentalist ways of reading the text are just soooo unfair to the text. When you really love a text you realize there is so much more going on.’ Does McLaren love the Biblical text enough to realize there is so much more going on?

After reading the question (at 19:30, followed by audience laughter): “Do you think peace in Israel will signal the end times?” – the moderator then asks McLaren to briefly comment on Revelation. McLaren answers that Revelation is a literature of the oppressed… a message that is speaking the truth indirectly. Like the sword on the guy riding on the horse that is coming out of his mouth (Revelation 19)[7]. If you wanna take that literally, says McLaren, that is comic. He then explains that the unarmed peaceful Messiah who rode in on a donkey is the real message, that peace is more powerful, and that the blood on his robe is only the blood of the powerless victim that overcomes the violence of his oppressor. (This is in keeping with the heretical non-violent atonement theory of Steve Chalke and others which denies the penal, substitutionary atonement of Christ on the cross.)

Teachers like McLaren cannot discern that the sword in Jesus’ mouth represents the power of His Word, that His robe is stained in either the blood of His enemies or His own blood (a reminder of the cross). They cannot see that this is not the meek and mild Jesus who came the first time as a lamb. This Jesus is the returning King, the Lion of Judah, who by His righteousness will demand attention and submission when He comes back (as prophesied) to the rebellious world in the day of vengeance at the end of this age of grace. How sobering for any man who dares to take away the power of that image in the words describing the things which shall be hereafter, as told to us in the revelation of Jesus Christ, the King of Kings and Lord of Lords.

“And if any man shall take away from the words of the book of this prophecy, God shall take away his part out of the book of life, and out of the holy city, and from the things which are written in this book.” Revelation 22:19

Why is it important to critique the clever words of those like McLaren? Because of the way they are valued by Christian denominations, some Mennonite, who have allowed emerging church literature and resources with McLaren’s name on the label into their churches and institutes of learning, or have had him in as a guest to speak, or are involved in the same causes as McLaren and friends that contradict the Word of God. The question of urgency in these perilous times is: are you a friend Jesus, the soon returning King? Or Brian McLaren, friend of Sabeel and FOSNA[8], who says the guy on the horse with the sword is comic?



[1] At about 4 minutes into the Part 2 youtube clip of his presentation, see: Christian responsibility for Palestinian Justice, Part 2 of Brian McLaren’s plenary talk at “Seeds of Hope and Justice for Palestinians and Israelis” at a FOSNA(Friends of Sabeel North America) conference, April, 2014 in Portland, Oregon:
[2] Netanyahu: Pope visiting only Mideast state to offer true freedom of religion
[4] World Vision: Why We’re Hiring Gay Christians in Same-Sex Marriages
[5] Powerpoint slides available at
Published on Apr 21, 2014 by FOSNA Sabeel (Friends of Sabeel North America) (
[6] “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 this and much more about Sabeel here:
Updating the Ancient Infrastructure of Christian Contempt: Sabeel
[7] Revelation 19
[8] “Rather than truly seeking ways to coexist or to build up a normal Palestinian-Arab society, FOSNA has assembled a roster of Israel-haters and antagonists to present discussions and workshops geared toward delegitimizing and defaming Israel, hurting the Jewish state economically, and eroding support for Israel – particularly among American Christians…
.. Sabeel and Friends of Sabeel also distort history, international law, and the situation on the ground – casting Israel as “oppressors” and responsible for every “injustice” that allegedly afflicts Palestinian-Arabs. Everyone else is apparently blameless for their claimed suffering…
… Further, Sabeel considers all of the land as “Palestinian,” accuses Israel of practicing “apartheid,” and dates the “occupation” to 1948. The facts that the Palestinian Arabs rejected the U.N. Partition Plan in 1947 that offered them a state of their own, that the international community gave the land to the Jewish people for “close settlement” (as per the Mandate for Palestine issued by the League of Nations), that Judea and Samaria and the eastern half of Jerusalem and the Gaza Strip were illegally occupied respectively by Jordan and Egypt from 1948 to 1967, and that the charge of “apartheid” is laughable do not seem to matter.”
Source: The Palestinian Narrative: Seeking Peace by Waging War


McLaren’s Palestinian Justice Speech, Part 1

*Find this blog’s 5 part critique of McLaren’s teaching at Canadian Mennonite University in 2011, here:

**The following links may provide answers to some issues McLaren mentioned:

Why did God condone such terrible violence in the Old Testament?

Why Would a Loving God Tell Israel to Wipe Out Her (enemies?)

Why would God order the destruction of men, women, and children?

Christians condemn the Quran and Islam for all the violence taught therein, but say nothing about all the OT brutalities such as God commanding the utter annihilation of the Amalekites, including women, children and animals. Why this inconsistency?

Klavan’s One State Solution: Give the Middle East to the Jews


Attacks on Christian Zionism

Palestinian Liberation Theology

***Also see:

The End of Evangelical Support for Israel? The Jewish State’s International Standing

‘Jesus Was a Palestinian’: The Return of Christian Anti-Semitism by Melanie Philips

Bethlehem’s ‘Christ at the Checkpoint’ Conference: A Personal Report By: Brian Schrauger

Who Are the Peacemakers?


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.


McLaren’s Palestinian Justice Speech, Part 1

The Friends of Sabeel North America (FOSNA) regional conference recently took place this last April at First United Methodist Church in Portland, Oregon[1]. It was called Seeds for Justice and Hope for Palestinians and Israelis – What is required of US?

Since there are quite a few Mennonites who are fond of both Brian McLaren and Sabeel, it is fitting for this blog to draw attention to what was taught during McLaren’s one hour plenary session.

During the first half hour[2], McLaren’s talk began with his background in the Plymouth Brethren, Darby, dispensationalism, and the Jesus people movement. From there he went to questioning his beliefs in the Bible, fast-forwarding to Greenbelt to Sabeel to Israel – all parts of his journey to rethinking and writing.

Unfortunately, McLaren’s experiences on his quest left him with a jaded perception of ‘church’ as a place where there are questions you can’t ask and explanations you can’t give. Through his doubting and rethinking process, he concluded that in the same way that the Christian religion created Europe and failed Europe, the Christians created the injustice that currently exists in Palestine. Quoting several Bible passages that he calls Texts of Terror (Deuteronomy 7, Lev. 25, 1 Samuel 15:1-3, Rev. 19:11), McLaren explains that these are tickets to oppress, because people who think they are on God’s side feel they can do what is in the text, from the Middle East to Europe to the colonization of America, to slavery. (McLaren says that Columbus Day should also be changed).

Continuing on, in the last half of McLaren’s talk[3], he refers to passages from the book of the Revelation as “Texts of Terror.”

McLaren picks extreme examples of controversial speakers to make his points in this regard. One of those he quotes, who doesn’t even represent mainstream Christianity, is fringe speaker ‘Jeremy’ Boykin. (His name is actually ‘Jerry,’ not Jeremy, as McLaren has on his power point.) McLaren mentions that Boykin is a representative of Family Research Council when he said “The sword today is an AR-15, so if you don’t have one, go get one. You’re supposed to have one, it’s biblical.”[4] Boykin, an ecumenical Knight of Malta, is hardly a solid representative of the fundamentalist dispensational viewpoint.

Oddly enough, McLaren also quotes “a preacher down the road” who has said that:

“Jesus is not a pansy or a pacifist. In Revelation, Jesus is a pride fighter with a tattoo down His leg, a sword in His hand and the commitment to make someone bleed. He is saddling up on a white horse and coming to slaughter His enemies and usher in his kingdom. Blood will flow. That is a guy I can worship. I cannot worship a guy I can beat up.”[5]

McLaren does not mention that the name of this pastor down the road is the controversial Mark Driscoll (Seattle), who was once his friend and partner at the beginning of the emerging church movement, but has since distanced himself from McLaren and his false teaching.[6] Many Christians find that Driscoll takes too many liberties with his irreverent grunge vocabulary approach of teaching, earning him the reputation of the cussing mouth pastor[7].

Couldn’t McLaren have found more respected mainstream examples to represent the dispensational view of the book of Revelation? There are many pro-Israel Bible scholars and excellent, well respected teachers he could have chosen from who teach what the Bible says about the return of Jesus the Messiah as conquering King.

McLaren appears to have a few bones to pick with this view he was raised in as he defends his ‘re-thought’ position against it. Perhaps there has been a need in his pro-Palestinian camp to counter the effects of biblically grounded teacher Paul Wilkinson, who has recently been presenting his excellent expose of Sabeel and defense of Darby[8]. If you watch McLaren rehash and trash this same dispensational teaching model he grew up in as a Plymouth Brethren (in order to justify and invest his re-imagined ideology in the anti-Israel campaign), and then compare it with the presentation by Paul Wilkinson on the same topic, it becomes evident who is speaking in the power and name of God.

The next blog post[9] will examine McLaren’s views he expressed in the second half of his presentation where he went into detail on what he calles the ‘texts of genocide’ and ‘terror’ in the Bible, and blames Christians for the injustice in Palestine.


[1] Seeds for Justice and Hope for Palestinians and Israelis
[2] Christian responsibility for Palestinian Justice Part 1:
[3] Part 2:
[4] See: Knight of Malta, Jerry Boykin quote – “…the sword today is an AR-15…go get one…it’s biblical”
[6] According to Driscoll: “In the mid-1990s I was part of what is now known as the Emerging Church and spent some time traveling the country to speak on the emerging church in the emerging culture on a team put together by Leadership Network called the Young Leader Network. But, I eventually had to distance myself from the Emergent stream of the network because friends like Brian McLaren and Doug Pagitt began pushing a theological agenda that greatly troubled me.
-Mark Driscoll and the Emerging Church:
[8] What is Christian Palestinianism:


Mennonite Palestinianism

The Anti-Israel Movement and the Mennonites: Part 1 – What’s it all about?

The Anti-Israel Movement and the Mennonites: Part 2 – In the Name of Christ

The Anti-Israel Movement and the Mennonites: Part 3 – Pawns at the Checkpoint

Sabeel, Merton, Mennonite Convergence


Related Update:

McLaren would be pleased to know that his wish for to Columbus Day to be re-imagined has become a reality in Seattle, Washingtion (see: SEATTLE SAYS GOODBYE TO ‘COLUMBUS DAY’ @ As he has said, everything must change, and so it has begun in America.

Mennonite Brethren Sponsored University Promoting the Labyrinth and Taize?

Is this Mennonite Brethren sponsored university condoning the labyrinth? Rather than warning about the labyrinth as an inter-religious and mystical device, this recent blog article appears to recommend its use…


I first became acquainted with labyrinths through my studies in Medieval literature and culture. One of the most famous labyrinths is embedded in the floor of Chartres Cathedral just south of Paris. Chartres is one of the most famous of medieval Cathedrals, and the labyrinth is well known because of this. The pattern of the labyrinth has been used in a famous study of Chaucer called “The Idea of the Canterbury Tales.”

Read more @

Steve Varvis is Provost of Fresno Pacific University, an accredited Christian university established and sponsored by the Mennonite Brethren Church.

Coincidentally, also recently promoted at Fresno Pacific University was an ecumenical contemplative chanting prayer service called Taize:

Thursday, February 6, 7:00 p.m., Ashley Auditorium.
Taizé is a meditative prayer service that incorporates simple, repetitive song and chant, scripture readings, and periods of group silence in a setting of peace and soft light that fosters communion with God. Through Taizé, participants can worship in a community setting, while remaining open to the voice of God in their hearts.
Taizé Prayer is an ecumenical form of prayer meant to foster reconciliation and peace among all people. Christians of all traditions share in this ecumenical group. Taizé Prayer is meditative common prayer. Gathered in the presence of Christ, we sing uncomplicated repetitive songs, uncluttered by too many words, allowing the mystery of God to become tangible through the beauty of simplicity.

From Milt Friesen @

Both the labyrinth and Taize are contemplative practices that being accepted by nearly every compromising Christian denomination today.


Mennonites and Prayer Labyrinths

The Labyrinth Journey: Walking the Path to Fulfillment?
By Carl Teichrib

Enter the labyrinth

Understanding Taize Worship

More Centering & Meditation Mennonite Resources

The Way of the Child[1] for children is part of the contemplative COMPANIONS IN CHRIST series from The Upper Room. It was created by Wynn McGregor who completed the two-year Academy for Spiritual Formation at The Upper Room and ‘had a vision to engage children in spiritual practice.’ Focusing on spiritual formation, The Way of the Child teaches children practices to help them experience God’s presence by slowing down and listening to the inner voice.

The Way of the Child can be found on the Mennonite Church Canada resource website[2], as can the Companions in Christ series by Upper Room.[3] The Upper Room is a religious organization that promotes contemplative spirituality and is the creator of a meditation tool called Walk to Emmaus.[4]

The following is an overview of The Way of the Child from Faith Christian Books.


Meeting the needs of children’s spirituality, Way of the Child, provides a contemplative and formulaic approach to providing resources that both teach the Bible and the basics of faith. In a world where we are always rushing to get from one place to another, Way of the Child offers a calming, centering, meditation style, which deepens a child’s connection to God. What is The Way of the Child? What is spiritual formation? What happens during the sessions? What can I do to support the study? How can our family – together – share our faith in practical ways? … “Children are spiritual beings who come to us as gifts from God,” writes McGregor. “The child’s natural way of life and the way most of us live seem to be two different orders of reality. Yet the way of the child represents much of what we consider central to authentic Christian spirituality.” … Every family with a child in The Way of the Child program needs a copy of The Family Booklet.

Centering prayer is a type of meditation that is being taught as a popular contemplative Christian practice. It is simply another term for going deep within your center, and has its roots in New Age spirituality and Hinduism. There are dangers in this method of meditation and it is not a practice that should be taught to children, regardless of what it is called or who promotes it as Christian.


[1] Introduction to The Way of The Child (video clips):



The Danger of Centering Prayer

McLaren’s New Book – A New Kind of Year Long Church Curriculum

As readers discovered in yesterday’s post, Mennonites have supported the agenda of the contemplative spirituality and emerging church movements to teach and influence their children. Mennonites have even shown their support of Brian McLaren’s agenda to shape their entire families. In 2012, an announcement by MennoMedia Staff appeared on the Mennonite Church Canada website called Brian McLaren headlines Shaping Families line-up in December.[1] Shaping Families was a radio broadcast for three years but now remains as a faith-based resource website. Linked with Mennonite Church USA, Mennonite church Canada and Mennoninte Missions Network, it continues to offer various interviews that Third Way Media/MennoMedia produced in the last number of years. At Shaping Families, Brian McLaren remains as a family shaper on one of their resource pages.[2]

Since 2012, McLaren has been working very hard on his plan of re-imaging church curriculum. His new book, a retelling of the biblical story, will be released next month…

We Make the Road by Walking
A Year-Long Quest for Spiritual Formation, Reorientation, and Actiivation
On Sale Date: 06/10/2014

From critically acclaimed author Brian McLaren comes a brilliant retelling of the biblical story and a thrilling reintroduction to Christian faith.

This book offers everything you need to explore what a difference an honest, living, growing faith can make in our world today. It also puts tools in your hands to create a life-changing learning community in any home, restaurant, or other welcoming space.

The fifty-two (plus a few) weekly readings can each be read aloud in 10-12 minutes, and offer a simple curriculum of insightful reflections and transformative practices. Organized around the traditional church year, these readings give an overview of the whole Bible and guide an individual or a group of friends through a year of rich study, interactive learning, and personal growth.

Perfect for home churches, congregations, classes, or individual study…

We Make the Road by Walking is praised by Phyllis Tickle, Rachel Held Evans, Rob Bell, and Tony Jones.

McLaren describes his new book on a series of walking youtube clips…

“an overview of the whole Bible from Genesis to Revelation and a fresh re-orientation to the Christian faith…”

“I grew up going to church…”

“…even whole churches could use it as a kind of year long curriculum…”

“None of our religions are finished…”


The new church curriculum has been re-imagined, the Bible is being retold… let the undiscerning allow it to be introduced to their churches. The question is: will there be a children/youth version to follow, as promised? Will the Mennonites who find McLaren’s winds of doctrine very refreshing[3] allow more of his teachings to blow into their teaching establishments?

These are perilous times. Watchmen on the wall! Where art thou?


[1] November 29, 2012, Mennonite Church Canada/MennoMedia


Mennonites Teaching Contemplative Spirituality to Children

Muddy Emerging Convergence in Sunday School Curriculum

Mennonites Teaching Contemplative Spirituality to Children

Are the Mennonites who are teaching contemplative spirituality to children leading them astray?

In 2005, at a Mennonite Educators Conference workshop, Dr. Sara Wenger Shenk taught child educators to:

“Teach various kinds of prayer: centering prayer with a chosen word such as “Abba” or “shalom” to repeat while quieting one’s spirit and body to listen to God; meditative prayer prompted by a poem, artwork, musical selection that provides a loose structure within which children can ponder the mysteries of life, their commitments…; using a biblical story for guided meditation, pausing to ask prayerful questions that invite imaginative engagement at various points in the story”

Source: How do we cultivate faithfulness in children?
Mennonite Educators Conference
September 22-24, 2005
Workshop: Practices for Nurturing Children in Faith 
Presenter: Dr. Sara Wenger Shenk

The primary source for ideas in this workshop was a book called Real Kids: Real Faith—Practices for Nurturing Children’s Spiritual Lives by Karen Marie Yust[1]. Since then, the ideas in this book have captured the imagination of other child educators. In 2011, this same book by Yust (among others) was used as a reference source for an article about children and contemplative prayer in The Mennonite. Here is an excerpt…

“there has been an increased recognition that children in our society have an intense yearning for silence and meditation (see Real Kids Real Faith by Karen Marie Yust). There is also a growing understanding that children have the capacity to enter the meditative silence of various spiritual practices and often with greater ease than some adults. The keys to helping children enter these practices are creating space and providing them with the tools and understanding necessary to connect with God in prayer. 

Many prayer practices are being recommended for children, for example: centering prayer, guided meditation, journaling, listening prayer, the examen and mindfulness. Some educators, such as Ivy Beckwith, have explored the benefits for children of adding deep breathing to their prayers in order to develop a rhythm for centering prayer, or using a prayer rope to occupy their hands and minds as they engage in the Jesus prayer (see Formational Children’s Ministry by Ivy Beckwith)”[2]

Source: 2011-09-01 ISSUE:
Children and prayer
Ways to help us see ourselves and our children as whole beings who pray with our bodies.
by Carrie Martens

Carrie Martins is still interested today in helping children learn contemplative spiritual formation. Her website ( promotes many contemplative links. One of these is the First Steps Spirituality Center[3], where children from babies to teens can learn about the labyrinth, or practice breath, sensory, and contemplative prayer with interactive prayer beads, holy listening stones, or by reading a ‘breath prayer book’ called Child of God, Child of Light by founder Rev. Leanne Hadley. Carrie Martins’ favourite author list includes Ivy Beckwith, Marjorie Thompson, Richard Rohr, Adele Calhoun, and Joyce Rupp, some of whose contemplative teachings are considered by many Christians as New Age paganism.

Martins says she loves the Mennonite Church Canada Resource Centre[4] which offers many sources to help teach families and children contemplative prayer. These include the above mentioned child educator contemplatives, Karen Marie Yust[5], Ivy Beckwith[6], and various materials on centering prayer[7] and monastic traditions[8] for children.

As these Mennonites teach such practices to children, what direction are these little ones being influenced to walk in?

Ivy Beckwith, who has explored the benefits of centering prayer and deep breathing for children (as Carrie Martins mentioned in The Mennonite), spoke at the “Children, Youth, and a New Kind of Christianity” conference in May 7-10, 2012 in Washington, D.C. Other speakers included emerging church leaders Brian McLaren, Tony Campolo, Shane Claiborne, Jim Wallis, and over 50 other influential leaders in Christian formation.[9] The Gather Round Sunday school curriculum (, co-published by Brethren Press and MennoMedia, was one of the co-sponsers at this emergent conference. Attendees represented Church of the Brethren, Mennonite Church Canada, and Mennonite Church USA.

This month, Ivy Beckwith will be speaking at Faith Forward (May 19-22) in Nashville, TN.[10] Other speakers[11] include emergent leader Brian McLaren, ‘thin places’ Lilly Lewin, ‘recovering fundamentalist’ Melvin Bray, and ‘the great emergence’ author Phyllis Tickle.

Is this where contemplative spiritual practices and meditation will lead the children? Into the welcoming arms of emergent teachers of ‘the new kind of Christianity’ who want to influence the minds and hearts of the next generation?[12]

But whoso shall offend one of these little ones which believe in me, it were better for him that a millstone were hanged about his neck, and that he were drowned in the depth of the sea.
Matthew 18:6

End Notes:

[4] Top Ten Reasons I LOVE the Mennonite Church Canada Resource Centre
[5] Karen Maire Yust:
[6] Ivy Beckwith:
[7] Journey to the Heart: Centering Prayer for Children by Frank X. Jelenek
This simple, colorful, practical book uses rhyme and illustrations to teach children how to practice prayer of the heart, contemplative prayer, or “centering prayer.” Ideal for parents, teachers, educators – and children ages 3-10.
[8] The Busy Family’s Guide To Spirituality: Practical Lessons for modern Living From the Monastic Tradition by David Robinson (lessons from the rule of St. Benedict and the Benedictine traditions)
[9] Gather Round cosponsors conference on children and youth, June 6, 2012.
Gather ’Round co-sponsors conference on children and youth
[12] Q&A with Brian McLaren


Why centering prayer should not be taught to children



THE LABYRINTH: A WALK BY FAITH? Concerns About the Christian Use of Labyrinths by Marcia Montenegro

Call for an Ecumenical Mennonite Denomination

The lead pastor of Akron Mennonite Church is wondering if anxiety over sexuality issues can be reframed into ecumenical dialogue by Mennonite Church USA. Expressing his wish this April to focus on convergence points rather than divergence, he wrote . . .

“Our local ministerium is a rich mixture of mainline Protestant, independent evangelical, Anabaptist and Catholic congregations. We agree to hold the local community as our shared parish. We partner together in community meals, the nonprofit social service agency, food banks and homeless ministries. We stay connected to the local school district and are mindful of community-wide issues and initiatives. We created an ecumenical understanding of working together on common interests. Beyond that, we respect each other’s way of worship and core beliefs.
What holds us together is our common commitment to Christ. We give witness in word and deed through an Anabaptist theology and missional ecclesiology. We seek local and global partnerships while remaining true to our core identity. We are voluntarily accountable to one another, just as we are in our congregational life together.
… It is really a form of ecumenical partnership.
A congregational polity within an ecumenical framework allows us the breathing room to be who God calls us to be while providing the vehicle for greater partnerships. The structure serves our common mission and identity…”

SOURCE: A call for an ecumenical Mennonite denomination

Any Mennonites answering to such a call would be joining the growing crowd on the road to Rome. Those they would be walking side by side with include:

Rick Warren:
Ulf Ekman:
Ambrose College:
Kenneth Copeland:
James Robison:
Moody Bible Institute:
The Nazarenes:
Peter Scazzero, the Christian Missionary Alliance and Focus on the Family Canada:

What would Menno Simons say about this?