Mennonites and the Eco-Gospel

A new collaboration of Mennonite Church Canada and Canadian Mennonite University called the CommonWord Book Store and Resource Center[1] just opened at the beginning of this year. On their website they state that they are “passionate about Anabaptist resources for the home and congregation,” however, what can be found there is a plethora of spirituality, from earth worship and indigenous peoples resources to contemplative spiritual formation curriculum and resources by emergent church leaders. Within the virtual walls of this library are enough non-anabaptist resources to make Menno Simons roll over in his grave. For example, the closest Brian McLaren (whose materials fill their web pages) comes to “anabaptist” is his Plymouth Brethren roots.

Shortly after opening, the top ten most popular resources[2] at CommonWord included Heaven is for Real: Based on the incredible True Story DVD[3], Buffalo Shout, Salmon Cry: Conversations on Creation, Land Justice, and Life Together[4], Sacred Pauses: Spiritual Practices for Personal Renewal by April Yamasaki[5], and Falling Upward: A Spirituality for the Two Halves of Life (Curriculum) by Richard Rohr[6].

While there may be some biblical resources to be found at CommonWord, more commonly there appears to be a lack of materials that teach the power of God and His Word. For example, Becoming an Energy Saint is a video that was promoted this January on CommonWord’s New Resources page[7]).

Is this environmental message of eco-theology truly what some Mennonites want in their church congregations as a teaching resource?

Carl Teichrib, researcher and writer, confirms that the interfaith green gospel has not only invaded Mennonite organizations, but many church denominations.

“Today’s Christian community is rife with green social and political messages, eco-theology, and interfaith action on the environment. Examples abound, such as the G8 World Religious Summit of 2010, a major interfaith meeting with strong representation from across the Protestant/evangelical spectrum, working in cooperation with world religions to push global green governance and a form of eco-spirituality.
Another example is the commissioned Mennonite Central Committee report, Earth Trek: Celebrating and Sustaining God’s Creation. In it we discover a combination of questionable theology, pantheistic-based messages, troubling political and social activism, mystical meditations and texts on the sacredness of Earth, the promotion of family planning through the United Nations Fund for Population Activities (part of the global abortion industry), favorable connections to The Earth Charter Foundation and Friends of the Earth – and at the end of the book we find this suggestion; “this week, make an offering to the earth, in the form of a prayer or some other gift.” (bold in original)
In Canada, the United Church sings “O Beautiful Gaia” – a song to the Greek goddess of Earth – as found in their More Voices hymnal. Across North America congregations hold Earth Day services, hear sermons on global warming, and engage in environmental campaigns. Example after example could be given. It’s like we’re facing a tsunami of green.”

SOURCE: Bridging Faith and Earth
By Carl Teichrib (www.forcingchange.org)
https://forcingchange.wordpress.com/2015/01/24/bridging-faith-and-earth/

Have some Christians, perhaps in name only, gone so far from their roots that they don’t know who they truly are in Christ? One can only pray that such souls will turn away from the earthy green gospel and turn their hearts to the Maker of heaven and earth.
_____

Endnotes:

[1] http://www.commonword.ca/Home
[2] http://www.commonword.ca/MostPopularResources
[3] Is “Heaven Is for Real” for Real?: An Exercise In Discernment
http://www.thebereancall.org/content/heaven-real-real-exercise-discernment-0
[4] http://www.commonword.ca/ResourceView/2/16064
[5] See: Pausing to Examine Sacred Pauses https://mennolite.wordpress.com/2013/07/27/pausing-to-examine-sacred-pauses/
[6] This book by Franciscan Priest Richard Rohr is endorsed by Dr Mehmet Oz, Brian McLaren, Cynthia Bourgeault
http://www.amazon.com/Falling-Upward-Spirituality-Halves-Life/dp/0470907754
[7] http://www.commonword.ca/ResourceView/48/17430

Mennonites and a Bridge too Far?

Go ye therefore, and teach all nations, baptizing them in the name of the Father, and of the Son, and of the Holy Ghost: Teaching them to observe all things whatsoever I have commanded you: and, lo, I am with you alway, even unto the end of the world. Amen. Matthew 28:19,20

Did Jesus instruct his disciples to go into all the world as peace catalysts, building bridges, making relationships and finding similarities with those who worship other gods?

In the January issue[1] of the MB Herald, a book review called A guide to following the Prince of Peace[2] by J Janzen[3] paves the way for Mennonites to cross the ‘peace catalyst’ bridge. But is this peace building the way of the Prince of Peace? In his review of Rick Love’s Peace Catalysts: Resolving Conflict in Our Families, Organizations and Communities, Janzen writes:

“In recent years, attention to peacemaking has been reinvigorated among North American Mennonite Brethren. Rick Love’s Peace Catalysts is a timely resource for two important reasons.
First, Love, who serves as associate director of the World Evangelical Alliance Peace and Reconciliation Initiative as well as president of Peace Catalyst International, which promotes peacemaking between Muslims and Christians, writes out of the evangelical tradition. Love combines Mennonite and Reformed resources to present long-standing Anabaptist convictions in a language that many Mennonite Brethren will appreciate.”

Janzen continues to describe Rick Love’s foundations for peace catalysts which among other things include the holistic approach of pursuing harmony and the eight pillars of peacemaking, concluding that . . .

“church leadership teams, pastors and business people among others will want to have this helpful resource on their shelves… teachers and Sunday school facilitators will find this book to be an excellent discussion starter.
In a pluralistic society in which the church experiences tension with other groups – homeless people, Muslims, the LGBT community, to name a few – Peace Catalysts sparks one’s imagination to consider how God might be inviting Mennonite Brethren into a deeper experience of the Prince of Peace.”

The concern with the MB Herald publishing this recommendation of such a resource is deeper than Janzen’s review delves. Inside Peace Catalysts, Rick Love acknowledges his many influences on his road to peace building. One of these is Miroslav Volf, the Founding Director of the Yale Centre for Faith and Culture and Yale Divinity School. Love writes in the first chapter of his book how he helped prepare for Miroslav Volf’s Common Word Conference at Yale University in 2008.[4]

“This unprecedented global conference was a turning point in my life. I have never met so many Muslim scholars, sheikhs, grand muftis and princes. More importantly, learning about Islam directly from these Muslim leaders and getting to know them personally over meals impacted me profoundly. I began to devote myself to becoming a full time peacemaker and to breaking down barriers between Christians and Muslims. God was calling me to be a bridge builder.” Rick Love, ch. 1, Peace Catalysts

Another influential leader in this bridge building movement is Lynne Hybels, married to Bill Hybels of Willow Creek Church. In her endorsement of Rick Love’s book, she says: “In my life and ministry, I need this book!” Many may not know that she is a Palestinian advocate who often speaks at church conferences. Jim Fletcher, editor of the Balfour Post, writes:

“At Catalyst Atlanta, in 2012, Hybels spoke, and the title of her talk, “We Belong to Each Other: Americans, Israelis and Palestinians for Peace,” implied a non-violent form of protest of the “occupation,” yet she decried the presence of the IDF in the territories, spoke of the negative impact of the security fence, and alleged that Palestinians lack water sources. Her slide titled “1967 Six-Day War” stated: “Israeli Military Occupation of the West Bank and Gaza begins.”
All standard PLO fare.”
– Jim Fletcher, Creeping Anti-Israelism in the Evangelical Movement[5]

This anti-Israel position of Lynne Hybels was also mentioned in an Israel Today article that states. . .

Hybels is close friends with Nora Carmi of Sabeel, an organization that pushes vitriolic anti-Israeli propaganda in the name of “peace and justice.”
All of this eclipses Hybels’ attempts to become a neutral peacemaker. While certainly not an anti-Semite, she is guilty by close association with those who accuse Israel of everything from genocide to deicide. Perhaps unwittingly, she is carrying on Christianity’s awful anti-Semitic legacy.[6]

Also a contributing editor for Jim Wallis and Sojourners magazine, Lynne Hybels was appointed to President Obama’s faith Council, and has partnered with Tony Campolo and Brian McLaren at “Christ at the Checkpoint”.[7] For her to say that she really needs Rick Love’s book in her life and ministry should be quite telling.

Today Rick Love is an internationally recognized expert in Christian-Muslim relations and leads Peace Catalyst International.[8] On his website is a video called Conversations with an Imam: Similarities and Differences in Christian-Muslim Friendship[9], the message of which boils down to the bottom line that – “we can be friends.”

But is this even possible? One defender of biblical truth says it is not. . .

“Muslim clerics know that from Muhammad’s time until today Islam has always viewed each and every non-Muslim as “infidels” and members of the “House of War.” It is, in Muslim tradition and doctrine, perfectly acceptable to deceive any and all infidels (non-Muslims) if it is for the furtherance of Islam”
-Eric Barger, Evangelical MELTDOWN [10]

If this is so, from a Christian point of view, what would be the sense of participating in such bridge building campaigns? What eternal benefit is there in seeking similarities between two opposing religions? Without prayer and preaching of the truth about the Prince of Peace (to ANY group the church experiences “tension” with), is bridge building on common ground and/or integration even possible (or biblical)?[11]

“The ultimate goal of befriending Muslims should be, for the Christian, to present the gospel of Jesus Christ to them. Those who are true disciples of Jesus were, at one time, “God’s enemies, but have been reconciled to Him by the death of His Son” (Romans 5:10).” – Got Questions[12]

Bible believing Christians (and Mennonites) would agree that Jesus instructed his followers to preach the good news to every person who is eternally lost, and make disciples. Perhaps this is the sincere objective of many peace bridge builders. However, another very important concern needs to be addressed in this case – what about the anti-Zionist names involved with Rick Love in this peace catalyst process?

Jim Fletcher recently wrote:

“Rick Love, I have no doubt, is very sincere in his efforts to build bridges with Muslims. I found it incredibly interesting though to check out whom he “follows” on Twitter. A sampling:
Porter Speakman Jr. (director of the Christian Zionist-mocking film “With God on Our Side”); David Neff (editorial vice-president for Christianity Today); The Economist (left-leaning European news magazine); Catalyst; Cameron Strang; Mark Driscoll; NPR News; Al Zazeera English; Alan Hirsch; Joshua Dubois (who until recently headed Obama’s Office of Faith Based and Neighborhood Parterships); Rob Bell; Lynne Hybels; World Vision; John Ortberg; Rachel Held Evans; Gabe Lyons; Christ at the Checkpoint; Tony Campolo; Ed Stetzer; Shane Claiborne; Donald Miller.
The list goes painfully on, but you get the idea. Each of the people/organizations listed above would either be overtly hostile to Israel, or they hobnob with those who are. Hence, Rick Love’s view of Israel is, I can safely presume, similar to that of Mahmoud Abbas.
That is, Middle East peace would flourish were it not for the “occupation,” etc.”
–Jim Fletcher, Israel Watch[13]

In conclusion, a ‘peace building’ book recommendation in a Mennonite magazine may not be noticed by many, but it is an important issue in light of what is going on in the world today. It is only one of many examples where good intentioned Mennonites get involved in interfaith dialogue with other religions, be it Islam or Catholicism. The list would be too extensive to add to this blog. One such Mennonite has endorsed Rick Love’s book:

“This book is Christ centered and biblically grounded…Those committed to local and global mission will find this book to be a necessary resource in these tumultuous times.” (David W. Shenk, global consultant for Christian/Muslim relations, Eastern Mennonite Missions)

As Jim Fletcher concludes in his message to the many evangelicals who are willing to go far in building bridges with Muslim leaders . . .

“Well, then I say to them: go on and try to build your bridges, though I am certain it is a bridge too far.”[14]

_______

End Notes:

[1] http://mbherald.com/january-issue-2015/
[2] http://mbherald.com/peace-catalysts/
[3] J Janzen (former interim MB Herald editor) serves as pastoral elder at the Highland Community Church, Abbotsford, B.C., a Mennonite Brethren affiliated church which leans toward contemplative spirituality. (See: Disappointment in the MB Herald
https://mennolite.wordpress.com/2011/04/25/disappointment-in-the-mb-herald/)
[4] Read: A Biblical and Historical Rebuttal to “Loving God and Neighbor Together: A Christian Response to a Common Word Between us and You.” By Eric Barger http://www.ericbarger.com/muslim.rebuttal.htm
[5] Jim Fletcher, Creeping Anti-Israelism in the Evangelical Movement
http://www.frontpagemag.com/2015/jim-fletcher/creeping-anti-israelism-in-the-evangelical-movement/
[6] The Impossible People: Lynne Hybels: http://www.israeltoday.co.il/NewsItem/tabid/178/nid/24218/Default.aspx?archive=article_title
[7] See: “Christ at the Checkpoint” and Lynne Hybels: http://standtoministry.com/2012/02/18/christ-at-the-checkpoint-and-lynne-hybels/
[8] http://www.peace-catalyst.net/
[9] January 7, 2015 http://ricklove.net/?p=3009
[10] Eric Barger, Evangelical MELTDOWN
http://www.ericbarger.com/emailers/2008/update8-7-2008.htm
[11] Danish Psychologist: ‘Integration of Muslims in Western Societies is Not Possible’ by FELIX STREUNING http://www.familysecuritymatters.org/publications/id.5905/pub_detail.asp
[12] http://www.gotquestions.org/sensitive-Muslim-culture.html
[13] Jim Fletcher, Feb, 18, 2013, Dupes: Part 786, Israel Watch
https://www.raptureready.com/jim/rap15old24.html
[14] Ibid.

*Final note: Incidentally, although the word ‘bridge’ does not appear in the Bible, Jesus is the only One who bridged the gap between us and the Father. It is Him we must direct people to, not the so called bridges of common ground beneath opposing religions.

RELATED ITEMS:

*Interfaith Peace – Mennonites and Muslims
https://mennolite.wordpress.com/2014/03/15/interfaith-peace-mennonites-and-muslims/
*Mennonite Palestinianism
https://mennolite.wordpress.com/2014/02/21/mennonite-palestinianism/
*Mennonites and Muslims Meet
https://mennolite.wordpress.com/2013/10/03/mennonites-and-muslims-meet/
*Mennonites and Muslims Merge?
https://mennolite.wordpress.com/2011/09/22/mennonites-and-muslims/

More Mennonite Yoga

The Mennonite is the publication of Mennonite Church USA. Several months ago they published an article called Learning to love our bodies. The following is an excerpt from this article that begins with the question: “How is it possible that we in the church, which claims that Jesus is the center of our faith, don’t love our bodies and love being human?”

Loving our bodies is not some new age or heretical concept; it is at the heart of the gospel…
One way to do this is through the ancient practice of yoga. We may not think of yoga as a way to practice Christian theology. In fact, friends who are yoga teachers often talk about concerns they hear from people in classes that yoga violates their Christian beliefs.
There is an irony that our church, with the foundational doctrine of the Incarnation, doesn’t have a practice for us to learn to inhabit and love our bodies, so it makes sense that we borrow from another culture and translate it into a Christian practice.
Yoga is a practice of mindfulness, of learning to be in the body, in space and in time. As such, it easily becomes an incarnational practice.

Source: Learning to love our bodies
10.26.2014 by Suella Gerber
https://themennonite.org/feature/learning-love-bodies/

*Read the truth about so called Christian Yoga, HERE.

Related:

Christian Yoga at Mennonite Camp
https://mennolite.wordpress.com/2013/05/24/christian-yoga-at-mennonite-camp/

Saskatoon gay couple 1st to be married in Mennonite church

Saskatoon gay couple 1st to be married in Mennonite church
Craig Friesen and Matt Wiens were married on New Year’s Eve
By Rachel Bergen, CBC News, Jan 05, 2015

New Year’s Eve is a special time for many, and for Craig Friesen and Matt Wiens, it was especially meaningful.
The Saskatoon couple was married on Dec. 31 in Osler, Sask., in the presence of family, friends and the church community.
The men’s wedding marks a point in history for the Mennonite denomination in Canada. Friesen and Wiens are the first same-sex couple publicly married in a Canadian Mennonite church. . .

More here:

http://www.cbc.ca/news/canada/saskatoon/saskatoon-gay-couple-1st-to-be-married-in-mennonite-church-1.2888826?cmp=fbtl

RELATED:

Survey reveals divides on inclusion, organization
A new survey reports credentialed leaders in Mennonite Church USA have diverse views about membership and leadership roles for gay and lesbian people and about how the denomination might organize itself differently.
http://mennoworld.org/2015/01/05/survey-of-credentialed-leaders-released/

Year in review: Sexuality issues test unity
https://mennolite.wordpress.com/2014/12/30/year-in-review-sexuality-issues-test-unity/