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
http://www.bcm-net.org/node/140

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
http://jcpa.org/article/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) https://www.thebereancall.org/content/t-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) https://www.thebereancall.org/content/t-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.
http://ChedMyers.org/blog/2014/02/03/reflecting-50th-anniversary-historic-peacemaking-retreat-merton

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
http://www.lighthousetrailsresearch.com/merton.htm

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.

________________

[1] http://www.bcm-net.org/node/1
[2] SABEEL ECUMENICAL LIBERATION THEOLOGY CENTER
February 16, 2014
http://www.ngo-monitor.org/article/sabeel_ecumenical_liberation_theology_center
[3] http://ChedMyers.org/
[4] http://kirkridge.org/wp-content/uploads/Oyer-1.pdf

________________

UPDATE: NEW ARTICLE:

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.
http://www.frontpagemag.com/2015/susan-warner/palestinian-liberation-theology-exposed/

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Interfaith Compassion?

On the Mennonite Church Canada Resource Centre under most popular resources we find a new video made for a Junior High-Adult audience called Leap in Faith: Glimpses of Spirituality and Beliefs. 
The video is a production of the Mennonite Heritage Centre Gallery (Winnipeg, MB) directed by Manju Lodha[1] and Ray Dirks[2]…

Discover eight faith traditions, all now common in Canada. 

Watch the entire video or break it into faith chapters with discussion after each. 

Invite representatives of each tradition to take you beyond the introductions found in Leap in Faith. 

Understand differences and discover similarities. 

Share in wishes for peace and compassion for all.
-http://resources.mennonitechurch.ca/MostPopularResources

Here is the trailer:

Peace and compassion
Compassion and peace
Knowing eachother wherever we come from
Bahai, Buddhist, Christian or Muslim
Let’s continue to try to understand
All the different religions of this land
This world abounding in beauty
We should be walking hand in hand.

Very nice people, lovely peaceful song, nice sentiments.

There is a compassion that accepts and understands and walks hand in hand with people of other religions (2 Corinthians 6:14-18), and then there is a greater compassion, the one that loves them enough to tell them the truth (John 3:16-18).

As Carl Teichrib exhorts in An Inside Look at the Global Interfaith Agenda:

“As a follower of Jesus Christ and His exclusive message of salvation, stay alert to how the interfaith movement is shaping your own community and the church. The New Age/interfaith movement recognizes that education at the grassroots level is vital to its global agenda. Already many churches and Christian schools have succumbed to its philosophy of “religious pluralism.” In Jesus own words, “take heed that no man deceive you.” (Matt. 24:4) Likewise, counter the dangers of this philosophy by ingraining God’s truth in yourself and your children.

Consider the exhortation of Deuteronomy 6,”Love the Lord your God with all your heart and with all your soul and with all your strength. These commandments that I give you today are to be upon your hearts. Impress them on your children. Talk about them when you sit at home and when you walk along the road, when you lie down and when you get up.””

Footnotes:

[1]Manju Lodah is an Indian-born Winnipeg artist who sustains her Hindu identity with art. See:
Beautiful connections: Art is heart of Indian religion, culture, philosophy and humanity
http://www.winnipegfreepress.com/special/ourcityourworld/southAsia/beautiful-connections-145317995.html
Art exhibition set to break through faith barriers
http://www.winnipegfreepress.com/our-communities/times/Art-exhibition-set-to-break-through-faith-barriers–138427319.html
[2] Watch: Interfaith Dialogue at CCS
http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=ZPXlsF0pj7E
Feb 28, 2013: Ray Dirks and Manju Lodha reflect on Interfaith Dialogue as part of the Centre for Christian Studies’ “Second Fridays” series of noon hour discussions held on the second Friday of each month.

Merton and the Mennonite Church Down the Road

Jesus saith unto him, I am the way, the truth, and the life: no man cometh unto the Father, but by me. John 14:6

Thomas Merton was a Trappist monk who did not believe that Jesus is the way, the truth and the life. At the end of his life he had become so interested in Buddhism and Asian monasticism that he showed up at a monastic conference in Bangkok. In rare footage, Merton said:

“That’s a thing of the past now, to be suspicious of other religions, and to look always at what is weakest in other religions and what is highest in our own religion. This double standard of dealing with religions — this has to stop.”

The Muddy Theology of Thomas Merton
http://muddystreams.wordpress.com/2010/04/28/the-muddy-theology-of-thomas-merton/

During his Asian pilgrimage Thomas Merton stood in front of the Buddha statues and finally found the ‘clarity’ he was looking for – not in the word of God, but in the faces of the statues. Listen to his words:

Thomas Merton and Buddhism

After meeting him, the Dalai Lama [1] called Thomas Merton his comrade and spiritual brother, which was the foundation for the interreligious Compassion Rising Project, revealing how closely Merton’s beliefs resonated with Buddhism and New Age pagan religions.

Merton’s untimely death by accidental electrocution in Bangkok did not zap him into silence. Today he has begun showing up in many Christian churches. In fact, Thomas Merton and his teachings can now be found at the Mennonite church down the road. In an August 2012 MB Herald article called Viewpoint: “My church meets just down the road…” Seeking a theology of place for the church, author Len Hjalmarson [2] writes:

“Thomas Merton, both a mystic and a rooted man, embodied in his life and work this paradox – between earth and spirit – that expressed his gospel journey. I was first drawn to Merton’s work in 1981 with New Seeds of Contemplation. I recognized the threads of a common pilgrimage: a search for a place to belong…

Thomas Merton, trying first to escape the world, perceived that the path to life was in and through creation. Life became sacramental: the created world a window opening toward God. All around him, creation was continuing – “the dance of the Lord in emptiness.””

-Len Hjalmarson, MB Herald, August 2012
“My church meets just down the road…” Seeking a theology of place for the church

Hjalmarson, who has a doctorate in spiritual formation from MBBS, then goes on to say that Merton would have heartily approved of songwriter Bruce Cockburn words in “In the Falling Dark” (last verse). The last line goes like this:

“Don’t you know that from the first to the last we’re all one in the gift of grace!”

Hjalmarson is right that Merton would have agreed. Merton also said, “I see no contradiction between Buddhism and Christianity … I intend to become as good a Buddhist as I can.” [3]

Next, Hjalmarson quotes Merton’s kindred spirit Henri Nouwen [4]…

“Writer Henri Nouwen reminds us we must convert hostility to hospitality – and this is a call to prayer. In prayer, we will discern the Spirit in the rhythms and textures of the neighbourhoods to which we are called, and which Jesus died to redeem.”

Only after reading Hjalmarson’s other writings[5] does it become apparent that this could be another reference to contemplative prayer and spirituality in the form of Rule of St. Benedict, the Daily Office and fixed hours of prayer.

In “My church meets just down the road…” Hjalmarson also points out that the missional church should invest in its own neighbourhood, but is this how to do it? Should the Bride of Christ, the head of which is Jesus Christ, be drawing from the living water of God’s Word, or from the words of men like Merton and Nouwen [6] and Benesh and Cockburn? Hjalmarson also alludes to the analogy of planting trees and deepening our roots, but instead of trusting in the words of mystics and men to do this we should consider the words in Jeremiah 17:5-8.

Unfortunately Hjalmarson is not alone in his quest for wisdom from other sources than the Word of God. Like many leaders and teachers affiliated with the Mennonite Brethren who now promote men like Thomas Merton and Richard Rohr (see: Rob de Cotes, Steve Klassen and Gareth Brandt), Hjalmarson too draws deeply from these same sources to find ‘wisdom’.

Learning to Approach Mystery

Approaching mystery isn’t an easy thing to do in our world of daytimers, constant interruptions, cellular phones and pagers. We have some unlearning and some learning to do.
The contemplative tradition offers some help. Pick up a book by Henri Nouwen, Thomas Merton, or Richard Rohr. Try “The Way of the Heart,” by Nouwen, “New Seeds of Contemplation,” by Merton, or “Everything Belongs,” by Richard Rohr. You’ll be amazed at the wisdom there.”

– Len Hjalmarson
Coloring outside the box
http://www.next-wave.org/aug01/coloring.htm

Like Klassen of the MB affiliated Mark Centre [7], Hjalmarson not only promotes neo pagan Franciscan priest Richard Rohr but also the silence of contemplative spirituality and Roman Catholic mysticism:

“… I have known a few Catholics over the years, and attended a few retreats, and I have observed that they are comfortable with silence. Silence is the one element almost completely missing from evangelical meetings.”

-Len Hjalmarson
Coloring outside the box

Welcome to the new neighbourhood Mennonite church down the road, but don’t forget to read the back of the sign. There you may find words like “new missional, monastic, and sacred” and quotes from universalist interspiritualist monks, but will you find THE Way, THE Truth and THE Life?

Endnotes:

[1] See: Thomas Merton & HH Dalai Lama
http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=JXSnnYQEpkA

[2] Len Hjalmarson is co-author of Missional Spirituality and an adjunct professor of ministry at Northern Baptist Theological Seminary in Chicago with a doctorate in leadership and spiritual formation from MBBS. A new missional author of several books, he has written previously for the MB Herald. See more here:
What Kind of Discipleship is this in the MB Herald?
https://mennolite.wordpress.com/2010/10/25/what-kind-of-discipleship-is-this-in-the-mb-herald/

[3] (David Steindl-Rast, “Recollection of Thomas Merton’s Last Days in the West” (Monastic Studies, 7:10, 1969)

[4] Thomas Merton & Henri Nouwen: Sacrificing Truth for Mystical Experiences
http://www.lighthousetrailsresearch.com/blog/?p=104
Why Christian Leaders Should Not Promote Henri Nouwen
http://www.lighthousetrailsresearch.com/blog/?p=1355

[5] See: Ancient Monasticism and the Anabaptist Future: A Tale of Two Reformers
Leonard Hjalmarson
http://www.directionjournal.org/article/?1583
Also see: the daily office
by Len Hjalmarson @ http://nextreformation.com/?p=2000

[6] WHO IS HENRI NOUWEN?
http://muddystreams.wordpress.com/2010/05/28/who-is-henri-nouwen/

[7] See: Richard Rohr Impacts the Mark Centre
https://mennolite.wordpress.com/2012/06/30/richard-rohr-impacts-the-mark-centre/
The Mark Centre and Silent Prayer – Strategy to Affect Millions
https://mennolite.wordpress.com/2011/01/14/the-mark-centre-and-silent-prayer/

RELATED:

Merton’s Spirituality
http://muddystreams.wordpress.com/2010/01/24/mertons-spirituality/

MB Herald Editor Quotes Interspiritualist (Thomas Merton)
http://rollovermenno.wordpress.com/2007/11/14/mb-herald-editor-quotes-interspiritualist/

Mennonites or Mertonites?
http://rollovermenno.wordpress.com/2007/08/11/mennonites-or-mertonites/

Contemplative Prayer and the Evangelical Church
by Ray Yungen
http://www.lighthousetrailsresearch.com/contemplativeprayerarticlebyray.pdf

Contemplative Prayer – Does Our Intent to Find Jesus Justify the Method?
http://www.lighthousetrailsresearch.com/blog/?p=4186

Missionary or Missional-lite?
https://mennolite.wordpress.com/2010/03/12/missionary-or-missional-lite/

UPDATE:

Please see:

A Historical Analysis of Mysticism: Part I
Catholic and Buddhist Spirituality in the Context of the 12th and 13th Centuries

http://moriel.org/MorielArchive/index.php/missions/thailand/a-historical-analysis-of-mysticism-part-i

Richard Rohr Impacts the Mark Centre, the Mennonites, and Maybe Millions

Richard Rohr is a Franciscan priest and Founding Director of the Center for Action and Contemplation in Albuquerque, New Mexico. An international author and spiritual leader, he teaches on incarnational mysticism, non-dual consciousness and contemplation.

In a recent video clip for a conference on Franciscan Mysticism: I Am That Which I Am Seeking, Rohr says that most of us believe things because our church told us to believe them, but there is something called The Univosity of Being (one voice)…

“When you speak of God, when you speak of angels, when you speak of humans, when you speak of animals, when you speak of trees, when you speak of fish, when you speak of the earth, you are using the work Being univocally . That might seems like an abstract philosophical position but I hope you can see how that creates an inclusive universe where everything is sacred where you can’t divide the world into the sacred and profane anymore. It’s over, and yet, most Christians to this day, in what was called the mainline orthodoxy still, most Christians I meet, Catholic and Protestant, still have the world divided into the sacred and the profane.”
-Richard Rohr, Franciscan Mysticism Conference preview
http://secure.lenos.com/lenos/cac/FranciscanMysticism2012/

This is a view that basically puts the Creator and creation on a continuum which makes God susceptible to revolutionary critique by materialist science. In other words, it’s the philospher’s slippery slope towards Darwinism and atheism.  It also leans towards panentheism, the belief the universe is contained within God and that the universe is part of God (see PANENTHEISM! WHAT IS THAT?).

Rohr is also a promoter of the Cosmic Christ, whom he believes is the foundation for interfaith dialogue. He writes:

“Only a truly cosmic Christ is adequate to the breadth of our problems and the depth of our hopes today….I personally do not believe that Jesus came to found a separate religion- as much as he came to present a universal message of vulnerability and foundational unity that is necessary for all religions, the human soul, and history itself to survive.”

– July-Sept. 2002 Radical Grace, “A Cosmic Christ” by Richard Rohr.
http://www.lospequenos.org/RohrDossier/Material/9.3%20Cosmic%20Christ.pdf

There are other major problems with his teachings:

In January of 2008, Rohr was a “presenter” at a conference on “Jesus and Buddha: Paths to Awakening.”5 Consistent with contemplative spirituality, Rohr taught the equality of Buddha with Christ and the indwelling of God in all things. Rohr taught that the teachings of both Jesus and Buddha call people to transformational honesty. He declared, “They are both teaching us how to see and how to see all the way through! They both knew that if you see God for yourself, you will see the Divine in all things.”6

Hazards unfolded by Emerging Church leaders
By Richard Bennett
http://www.bereanbeacon.org/emergentchurch/The_Hazards_unfolded_by_Emerging_Church_leaders.pdf

In spite of these major concerns, in Your Ears Will Hear: A Journal For Listening To God by Steve and Evy Klassen of The Mark Centre (affiliated with the BC Conference of Mennonite Brethren Churches), Steve Klassen quotes Richard Rohr on page 9 (from The Naked Now: Learning to See as the Mystics See). Then on page 78 he further explains:

“…I have been able to read some of Richard Rohr’s writing and also have the privilege of meeting him on a men’s retreat. His writing and his teaching have impacted me deeply, especially in the area of meaning, purpose and identity. He said, “your importance is given and bestowed in this universe, which is the unbreakable covenant between you and your Creator. You are declared important; you cannot declare yourself important.”

-Steve Klassen, Your Ears Will Hear: A Journal for Listening to God, p 78

Does this philosophy fit with what the Bible says in regards to our importance in the universe?

Behold, thou hast made my days [as] an handbreadth; and mine age [is] as nothing before thee: verily every man at his best state [is] altogether vanity. Psalm 39:5

For if a man think himself to be something, when he is nothing, he deceiveth himself. Galatians 6:3

Is the Conference of Mennonite Brethren Churches at all concerned that the Mark Centre’s director admits to being deeply impacted by the writings and teachings of  a proponent of the “Cosmic Christ”  whose spirituality is linked with Matthew Fox – who also believes in the Cosmic Christ as well as pantheism (that God is in all things) and panentheism (that all is in God)? Should they be concerned that Steve Klassen counted it a privilege to have met a major advocate for interspirituality? Are they at all aware that Rohr’s teaching encompasses Eastern and new age fringe beliefs from gnostic mysticism to medieval metaphysics (mantra meditation, Enneagram, Univosity of Being, etc.)? Or what about Rohr’s all male retreats where men sometimes remove their clothing to release the demons (source), or that he has prayed to ‘Father Mother God’ (source), and has reportedly presided over same sex marriages? He is even on the same Vision Project list as his friend Brian McLaren. And now he has deeply influenced the author of a journal that will be used by hundreds of MB students, missionaries and pastors worldwide through the Mark Centre, whose strategy is to affect millions through contemplative spirituality.

Is anyone concerned?

RELATED:

The Mark Centre’s New Book
https://mennolite.wordpress.com/2012/06/02/the-mark-centres-new-book/

The Mark Centre and Silent Prayer – Strategy to Affect Millions
https://mennolite.wordpress.com/2011/01/14/the-mark-centre-and-silent-prayer/

Brian McLaren’s good friend Richard Rohr
https://mennolite.wordpress.com/2011/03/15/brian-mclarens-good-friend-richard-rohr/

Priest: ‘The boy always gets naked…’
http://www.renewamerica.com/columns/abbott/060123

THE ENNEAGRAM GPS: GNOSTIC PATH TO SELF
http://www.christiananswersforthenewage.org/Articles_Enneagram.html

Richard Rohr Teaching on the Ennegram
http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=7RNt0MH9dWA

Mystic Madness: Spiraling Down into the Pit
-read how Richard Rohr (the Kything Monk) and friends represent a revival of occult mysticism within the Roman Catholic Church
http://www.apostasyalert.org/REFLECTIONS/mystic.htm

Bongos, Dancers, and Father-Mother God
http://www.calcatholic.com/news/newsArticle.aspx?id=b9f5f434-6ee1-4c6c-821a-cb2495d30ade

Dossier/documentation of Father Rohr’s disturbing teachings, tapes and writings:
http://www.lospequenos.org/RohrDossier/

Fr. Richard Rohr on “The Cosmic Christ
http://vimeo.com/25939181

Panentheism! What is That?
by Orrel Steinkamp, The Plumbline, Volume 17, No. 3, May/June 2012
http://www.deceptioninthechurch.com/orrel52.pdf

What is panentheism?
http://www.gotquestions.org/panentheism.html

What is pantheism?
http://www.gotquestions.org/pantheism.html

Brian McLaren and Fellow Visionaries
http://muddystreams.wordpress.com/2011/05/13/brian-mclaren-and-fellow-visionaries/

* NOTE: In the link below, notice that Starhawk (a leading practitioner of feminist Wicca (witchcraft) in the United States and teacher at ex-priest Michael Fox’s Institute for Culture and Creation Spirituality) was invited to speak at the Center for Action and Contemplation, founded and directed by Richard Rohr. The CAC classes were in “Elements of Magic.”

http://www.lospequenos.org/RohrDossier/Material/8.2%20Pepper%20RE%20Starhawk.pdf

More about Starhawk here:

http://www.encyclopedia.com/topic/Starhawk.aspx

http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Starhawk

Also see:

WITCHCRAFT, WICCA AND NEOPAGANISM
http://www.christiananswersforthenewage.org/Articles_Wicca.html

Menno Simons Centre, Inter-Mennonites, and Buddhism

The Menno Simons Centre (“the Centre”), is a student residence located near the University of British Columbia (UBC) and Regent College in Vancouver, B.C.. The facility, which opened in 1986, was purchased from a Catholic convent and is owned and operated by a non-profit Inter-Mennonite society (Pacific Centre for Discipleship Association). The purposes of the Centre, besides providing a Christian support community for university and college students, are as follows.

• To promote Christian faith and discipleship:
• To foster Christian community and fellowship:
• To support Christian scholarship:
• To facilitate the study of the Anabaptist Mennonite Heritage:
• To assist in the integration of faith and contemporary life style;

http://www.mennosimonscentre.com/about.htm

The Centre’s chapel is regularly used by the Point Grey Inter-Mennonite Fellowship (“PGIMF” also known as “the Fellowship”) on Sunday mornings and other special events which “the Centre’s” residents are encouraged to participate in. Point Grey’s conference affiliations include the BC Conference of MB Churches, The Canadian Conference of MB Churches (and the MB Forum), Mennonite Church Canada, the Mennonite Church of British Columbia, MB Mission (formerly Mennonite Brethren Missions & Services).

This past weekend, the Point Grey Inter-Mennonite Fellowship had a retreat:

May 27 – 29 – Church retreat at Camp Luther (Hatzic Lake, no service in the MSC chapel), on the theme of telling our stories. Download the retreat information package (2-page PDF) and send in your registration form (right-click to save the 1-page fillable PDF).
http://www.pgimf.org/

Here was the theme for this retreat:

Theme
Our theme for this year is “Telling our Stories”. We are a historic people, yet often our stories today do not adequately reflect our history. We will explore barriers in communication between generations, review stories old and new, engage in the practice of being mindful or ‘stilling’ our noisy minds so we can let the words that need to be said come out.

-page 1, PGIMF Annual Retreat 2011 Information
http://www.pgimf.org/archive/2011 PGIMF Annual Retreat Information.pdf

The ‘mindfulness’ part of the Program was on the schedule for Saturday:

…10:00-10:50 Session 1 – The Practice of Mindfulness

-page 2, PGIMF Annual Retreat 2011 Information

What exactly is ‘Mindfulness’, or ‘stilling of the mind’?

“Mindfulness is a Buddhist concept and practice, the seventh step of the Eightfold Path. Mindfulness is more than a meditative practice; it is an outlook on life and reality that ideally results from a type of meditation designed to cultivate detachment. Detachment in Buddhism is necessary, because Buddhism teaches that attachment to this world, to your thinking, to your identity as an individual self, and other attachments, such as desires, keep you in the cycle of rebirth.”

*Quote from Mindfulness: No-Mind Over Matter
By Marcia Montenegro
http://www.christiananswersforthenewage.org/Articles_Mindfulness.html

Who would have ever thought that the Mennonites would be practicing Buddhist mindfulness meditation?!

Further indication that the Menno Simons Centre and the Point Grey Inter-Mennonite Fellowship may have wandered away from biblical truth is Point Grey’s sermon blog, as seen by this recent entry:

Sun. May 8, 2011 (Karl Brown)
Last Sunday, Karl Brown asked us, “What if we’re all wrong?” Our lectionary readings for the day retold the death and resurrection of Jesus (Acts 2), how we are therefore to live (1 Peter 1), and that if we do those things we will go to heaven (Luke 24). However, the Koran tells its readers to do certain righteous works and they too will go to heaven. But what if everybody is wrong?

http://blog.pgimf.org/

Also advertised in Point Grey Inter-Mennonite Fellowship’s May 22, 2011 bulletin (which can be viewed on their website) is: “Green Fair. Mother Earth News is sponsoring a “Green Fair” in Puyallup, Washington, on the weekend of June 4-5.” The link provided directs church goers to the Mother Earth News Fair (www.motherearthnews.com/fair/home.aspx) where they can learn about sustainability, self-suffiency and earth care.

Are any of these things in keeping with the Menno Simons Centre goals to promote Christian faith and discipleship, and facilitate the study of the Anabaptist Mennonite Heritage? Is the road traveled by these Inter-Mennonites interwoven with the inter-faith road? How many more examples are there going to be until Mennonites wake up and see the folly of their worldly and spiritual compromise?

Note: See Point Grey Inter-Mennonite Fellowship’s Easter and Rogation Sunday photos HERE. (‘Rogation’ originates from Robigalia, an ancient Roman religious festival of dog sacrifice to protect crops from disease.)

Related:

Agenda 21
The U.N. Plan for Your “Sustainable” Community

http://www.crossroad.to/text/articles/la21_198.html

Mindfulness: No-Mind Over Matter
By Marcia Montenegro
http://www.christiananswersforthenewage.org/Articles_Mindfulness.html

What is Buddhism and what do Buddhists believe?
http://www.gotquestions.org/Buddhism.html

What is Christian meditation?
http://www.gotquestions.org/Christian-meditation.html

The Altered State of Silence – Promoted by Both New Agers and Christian Leaders
http://www.lighthousetrailsresearch.com/thesilence.htm

On Rob Bell, Hell and Mennonites

A newly released book called Love Wins by Rob Bell is (supposedly) causing a huge controversy in Christendom. The issue is over the doctrine of hell, which the emergent Bell hasn’t been very clear about in certain interviews and promotional videos lately. Because it’s no secret that in the past Mennonites have been fond of Rob Bell, and that even more recently, the October 2009 MB Herald issue featured Bell (under Currently in Sermons), some of us are wondering how the Mennonites are reacting to the current publicity over Bell’s latest work on his road to universalism.

As expected, a few postmodern Mennonites are beginning to sound off on this issue, like the odd Mennonite blogger here and there, an MB Forum discussion here, and even some young Anabaptist radicals. Even Menno Weekly has gotten into the hellish debate. After recommending readers to glean from the opinions of heresy’s front line defender Brian McLaren, their article then states:

It has been astounding to see the speed with which Bell has been denounced as a heretic and the forceful unwillingness to even raise the questions he poses. For me, this is a red flag. Why are so many vigorously defending a relatively specific doctrine of hell?
When you look at the Bible, there is no one consistent understanding of hell. For that matter, the concept of an afterlife in much of the Old Testament was non-existent. God blesses and curses you through your descendants, not in an afterlife (see the Ten Commandments). There is no consistent version of hell in the Bible, and what is there most certainly doesn’t look like what most people envision. The image of a red guy with a pitchfork and horns comes from Dante’s Inferno, not the Bible.
The doctrine of hell is powerful. Combined with a select few leaders who determine who’s in and who’s out, the fear of hell fuels enormous power and control. Even raising the question, as Bell has done, challenges the enormous power that many have enjoyed for centuries.

Rob Bell and what we believe about hell and heaven
By Alan Stucky (pastor of Pleasant Valley Mennonite Church in Harper, Kan.)
http://www.mennoweekly.org/blog/2011/3/7/rob-bell-and-what-we-believe-about-hell-and-heaven/

Bringing reason to this postmodern madness is an enlightening review that Menno-lite has come across which definitely shines a bright spot light on the subject. Part One of the following very helpful book review (by a pastor at a Bible believing church in Colorado) notes that at the end of Rob Bell’s book there are no footnotes or references to back up his dangerous theology on this extremely important doctrine. (Perhaps he learned from his big mistake of recommending his readers study Ken Wilber for three entire months in endnote 143 of his book Velvet Elvis.) Instead of footnotes or endnotes in Love Wins, Bell has simply included a list that he encourages readers to look into and learn from. Mennonites will find it particularly interesting that among these…

Bell also lists Mark Baker’s edited book, Proclaiming the Scandal of the Cross: Contemporary images of the Atonement. Baker’s book includes Brian McClaren, liberal theologian, other’s from Church History and still others who are outside Orthodox Christianity. Baker is a bright man with a PhD from Duke University and an associate professor of mission and theology at Mennonite Brethren Biblical Seminary. He lists better ways to share the Atonement of Christ other than using blood as the “metaphor” (Bell has talked about this in interviews just prior to the release of the book). I would argue a strong Biblical case that without blood (not as a metaphor, but literal blood), there is no Atonement of Jesus Christ for our sins. No other image represents the Biblical message of the Old Testament and New Testament!

It also lists Richard Rohr, a Franciscan Monk who was a Roman Catholic Priest who has written many books on spirituality including The Naked Now: Learning to See How the Mystics See. In 2008, Rohr presented a lecture entitled, Jesus and Buddha: Paths to Awakening calling us to be like Jesus and Buddha in our honesty. Rob Bell has quoted Rohr throughout the years. Rohr, in interviews has admitted to being a sort of a Christian Universalist (everyone to heaven for eternity and no one to Hell).

Source: Old School Theology is Just Fine: a book review of Rob Bell’s Love Wins (Part One) [Wednesday, March 16, 2011]
http://sacredoutfitter.blogspot.com/2011/03/old-school-theology-is-just-fine-book.html

Bell’s reference to Mark Baker comes as no surprise. Baker is a professor at Mennonite Brethren Biblical Seminary in Fresno, CA., and it should ring a bell with the Mennonite Brethren that he was recently left with no choice but to apologize for his remarks regarding penal substitutionary atonement (see here). A critique of his book, “Recovering the Scandal of the Cross,” which was required reading for pastors attending Fuller Seminary’s “2004 President’s Theological Conference for Pastors,” can be found here:

Recovering the Scandal of Liberalism: Disdaining the Cross
By Richard Nathan, M.A.*
http://www.crossroad.to/articles2/04/scandal-cross.htm

As far as Bell’s recommendation of Fr. Richard Rohr, the readers of this blog will be familiar with the naked spirituality of this mutual friend of both Bell and Brian McLaren (see here and here). This alone should set off loud, clanging warning bells.

Another thing we learn from the above Sacred Outfitter review is that Bell’s book is endorsed by Eugene Peterson, author of The Message (paraphrase that a generation of biblically illiterate Christians has grown up on) as well as by Brian McLaren, who says, “In Love Wins, Rob Bell tackles the old heaven-and-hell question and offers a courageous alternative answer. Thousands of readers will find freedom and hope and a new way of understanding the biblical story – from beginning to end.” When McLaren recently spoke to the Mennonites at CMU he revealed what these ‘courageous alternative’ questions and answers are really about.

In the end, it won’t matter what Rob Bell says about Hell. All this publicity serves to prove is that, like his friends Brian McLaren and Richard Rohr, and now Mark Baker, Rob Bell is fulfilling what the Word of God already told us – that people would be gathering together teachers to tell them what their itching ears want to hear; alternative answers, otherwise known as fables or myths, changing the truth of God into a lie.

For the time will come when they will not endure sound doctrine; but after their own lusts shall they heap to themselves teachers, having itching ears;
And they shall turn away their ears from the truth, and shall be turned unto fables.
2 Timothy 4:3-4

If you want to know the truth about hell and universalism, open your Bible and read it, not the blood drained gospel of Rob Bell.

UPDATE:

Read Part 2 of the Sacred Outfitter review of Love Wins here:

Tuesday, March 22, 2011
Old School Theology is Just Fine: Review of Love Wins (Part Two)
http://sacredoutfitter.blogspot.com/2011/03/old-school-theology-is-just-fine-review.html

Refreshing Winds

Here is a video report from the February 2011 CMU conference:

Refreshing Winds Conference at Canadian Mennonite University

Related:

CMU Student found Refreshing Winds very cool

https://mennolite.wordpress.com/2011/03/17/cmu-student-found-refreshing-winds-very-cool/