Mennonites Walk Barton’s Bridge

Ruth Haley Barton, founder of The Transforming Centre[1], was trained at the Shalem Institute for Spiritual Formation which teaches: “This mystical stream [contemplative prayer] is the Western bridge to Far Eastern spirituality … It is no accident that the most active frontier between Christian and Eastern religions today is between contemplative Christian monks and their Eastern equivalents.” —Tilden Edwards, Shalem Founder[2]

Barton, who could not find peace or direction in her Baptist roots or through reading the Bible and praying, found fulfillment through spiritual direction. Now she incorporates a blend of Eastern and Roman Catholic contemplative spirituality and monastic practices in her retreats and books on practicing the presence of God in the silence and sacred rhythms of prayer. Lately she has been very instrumental in leading entire Protestant and Anabaptist church congregations and their leaders into these same practices through spiritual direction and discernment seminars.

This year, the Mennonites have once again[3] brought in Ruth Haley Barton to help them make decisions in the silence regarding some very important upcoming issues that include LGBTQ and anti-Israel BDS resolutions. How tragic to see an entire church delegation over looking all that is necessary in their discernment process (the Bible), thereby shunning to declare the whole counsel of God (Acts 20:27) in seeking guidance from an apprentice of Thomas Merton and Tilden Edwards. Surely Menno Simons is rolling over in his grave.

“But we will give ourselves continually to prayer, and to the ministry of the word.” Acts 6:4

Here are two articles for the remnant to read and pray about…

CLC discerns delegate agenda and offers counsel to Executive Board
Posted on March 30, 2015
NORTH NEWTON, Kan.—“We are here and we’ve been gathered by God, and the truth is gathered, too,” said Chuck Neufeld, conference minister for Illinois Mennonite Conference, during a plenary session at the March 26–28 meeting of Mennonite Church USA’s Constituency Leaders Council (CLC) in North Newton, Kan.
CLC members spent time in prayer and worship; received input from Ruth Haley Barton on tools for discerning God’s will for the church; and offered counsel to the Resolutions Committee and Executive Board (EB) of Mennonite Church USA on churchwide statements to bring before the Delegate Assembly in Kansas City, Mo., this summer.
Neufeld’s reflections, offered after a half hour of silent discernment and prayer, were joined by those of other CLC members who called for mutual forbearance and care across the church in the midst of disagreements on how LGBTQ (lesbian, gay, bisexual, transgender and queer) individuals should be allowed to participate in Mennonite Church USA. Marco Güete, conference minister for Southeast Mennonite Conference, closed the sharing time with observations from his long career in the Mennonite Church, saying, “My reflection to God during this time was, ‘I love your imperfect church. Thank you for this opportunity to be a part of it.’”

More here:
http://mennoniteusa.org/news/clc-discerns-delegate-agenda-and-offers-counsel-to-executive-board/

Discerning spirit
God’s will can be found, even in when we disagree
Apr 13, 2015 by Paul Schrag

The rest of the world makes decisions, but the church discerns. If that were just a choice of words, it wouldn’t be important. But Ruth Haley Barton believes the difference goes much deeper. To discern is to find the will of God.
“Christian leaders have an idea that their decision-making should be somehow different from the rest of the world,” Barton said in a presentation to the Mennonite Church USA Constituency Leaders Council on March 26 at Bethel College in North Newton, Kan. “But sometimes we reduce that to just having a prayer and devotions at the beginning of the meeting.”
Discernment is more than a nod to God.
At a time when MC USA is experiencing conflict over same-sex relationships and church polity, Barton’s message was timely. Though she spoke to leaders dealing with major issues, her ideas apply to every Christian and to all of life.
Barton is a teacher and writer about Christian formation and church leadership at the Transforming Center in Wheaton, Ill., who will speak to delegates at the MC USA convention in Kansas City in July.
She defines discernment as “the capacity to recognize and respond to the presence and the activity of God in both the ordinary moments and the larger decisions of our lives.”
Discernment is the habit of noticing where God is at work and how God is speaking. Barton believes it is possible, in any situation, to “have a sense of whether God is at work or the Evil One is at work.” This needs to happen even in the interior world of our own thoughts and motives. 1 John 4:1 advises us to “test the spirits.” Are we willing to test our own spirit?
To do this, we need to listen to God in solitude and silence.
“Many of us are trying to give spiritual leadership without having much of a spiritual life,” Barton said. We must not let our busyness — even our Christian busyness — keep us from being aware of what is going on in our own soul. We need to be quiet and hear the voice of God as distinct from our own voice.
To whom does God give the spiritual gift of discernment? To those who are on a spiritual journey, Barton says. To those who let God transform them into a better version of themselves.

More here:
http://mennoworld.org/2015/04/13/editorial/discerning-spirit/

________

Endnotes:

1] (www.transformingcenter.org)
2] Ruth Haley Barton, Contemplative Prayer, 
and the Spiritual Formation Movement
http://www.lighthousetrailsresearch.com/ruthhaleybarton.htm
3] Ruth Haley Barton Trains Mennonites to Discern in The Silence
https://mennolite.wordpress.com/2014/02/18/ruth-haley-barton-trains-mennonites-to-discern-in-the-silence/

*** UPDATE JULY 3, 2015

Mennonites delay vote on divesting from Israel for 2 years
http://www.israelhayom.com/site/newsletter_article.php?id=26609

What does meditation, Jungian psychology and the labyrinth have to do with the Mennonite Brethren?

Can nice people who create beautiful music be sincerely deceived and lead other well meaning people astray? When reading about the following retreat which is taking place today, keep in mind that this ‘Christian mystic’ is one of the retreat leaders at the Mark Centre which is affiliated with the Mennonite Brethren Conference of BC.

Saturday, March 28 Soul Care Day Retreat
Soul Care Day Retreat – with a theme of Receiving Forgiveness for self and Extending Forgiveness to others
When we can receive love and forgiveness in greater measure for ourselves,we are able to extend that in greater measures to those around us. Aligning with Love is a way to guide us into a deeper journey of forgiveness in our lives. Forgiveness is a key to bring greater transformation in all our relationships.
A full day of care for the soul – for 12 women.
Our day will be a flow of group time and personal time, including lunch and snacks.
Group times will include music meditation, stories, forgiveness teaching and meditation, poetry and sharing together.
In your free time you can choose to rest, do journaling meditations that will be available for you, walk the outdoor labyrinth, or sit at an art/icon station.
$85 for the day. If finances are a difficulty, please indicate what you are able to afford on your registration. Please pay $25 registration down below to reserve your spot and the remainding $60 upon arrival by check/cash/credit.
 Cathy AJ Hardy is a Christian mystic and the retreat will hold elements of Jungian psychology, Celtic Christianity, poetry, and art. Cathy has been leading retreats with the Mark Centre in Abbotsford, MCC in Abbotsford, and at the Westminster Abbey in Mission. She also leads day retreats through her home. She is a singer-songwriter, poet, and retreat facilitator.
(cathyajhardy.com/events/saturday-march-28-soul-care-day-retreat/)

What does Christian mysticism, meditation, Jungian psychology and the labyrinth have to do with the Mennonite Brethren? Biblically and theologically, these have absolutely no place in any Christian ministry. This information has been posted simply to create awareness in the hearts of the remnant of believers within the Mennonite Brethren denomination. Pray for those who have taken the contemplative path. The teachings of contemplative spirituality seem inviting, but are leading many astray.

Note: The goal and strategy of the (Mennonite Brethren affiliated) Mark Centre is serve thousands who will inspire millions to embrace a lifestyle of contemplative listening to God. Those who want to learn more about the Mark Centre or the labyrinth may use the search box on this blog to find previous posts.

RELATED:

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

What is Jungian analytic psychology, and is it biblical?
http://www.gotquestions.org/Jungian-analytic-psychology.html

Carl G. Jung
 Man of Science or Modern Shaman?
http://www.crossroad.to/articles2/08/nathan/jung.htm

LABYRINTHS, Prayer Paths That Promote the Occult
http://www.lighthousetrailsresearch.com/labyrinth.htm

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

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

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/

A Little Paganism and Hinduism at Mennonite U?

When searching for a Christian university or Bible college to attend, little clues can indicate some very big spiritual and theological issues.

For example, Eastern Mennonite University calls itself “a Christian university like no other, rooted in values of peacemaking, community and service.” Besides academics, this university also offers counselling services and fitness exercises for the wellbeing of its students. Two items pertaining to these, from EMU’s website, are indicative of how far off course a Christian institution can drift from its moorings and biblical roots when it is rooted in peace making, community and service instead of the Bible.

Item #1: Counseling services offered with a tiny quote from . . . who?

EMU Counseling Services

“A skilled listener can help people tap into their own wisdom.” ― Richard Rohr

SOURCE: http://www.emu.edu/studentlife/counseling/

It’s just a small quote, and aside from the fact that our own wisdom is not worth much (Isaiah 5:21), if one can estimate what a person is feeding their mind by the people they quote, how much more a school of learning? This is not the first time that Franciscan Priest Richard Rohr’s pagan teachings have been influential on a Mennonite institution of learning. See More Rohr Influence – this time at Inter-Mennonite Bible College and Brian McLaren’s good friend Richard Rohr.

Item #2: EMU Fitness Center classes are offering . . . what?

Fall Semester 2014 Exercise Classes

-Power Yoga
Get ready to get moving! This invigorating vinyasa (flow) based class is designed to spark your inner fire and empower you physically and mentally. This class moves continuously, all levels welcome.
Tuesdays 5:15 – 6:15 PM Sept. 2 – Nov. 25 excluding Oct. 21
Instructor: Jamie Morgan
Thursdays 5:15 – 6:15 PM Sept. 4 – Nov. 20
Instructor: Taylor Evans

-Flow Yoga
A practice that links movement with breath to create a continuity from one posture to the next. Accessible to all levels, expect basic standing and seated postures, strengthening and stretching poses.
Wednesdays noon – 1 pm Sept. 3 – Nov. 19 
Instructor: Donovan Seow

SOURCE: http://www.emu.edu/studentlife/fitnesscenter/classes/

Supporters of Eastern Mennonite University may want to ask why students are given the opportunity to learn to practice the Hindu religion at the Fitness Center in their Christian university, if according to the following, this is in fact what it is:

What is vinyasa? See: http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Vinyāsa
What is inner fire? See: http://www.devanadiyoga.com/class/inner-fire-vinyasa/
What is Flow Yoga? See: http://yoga.about.com/od/typesofyoga/a/vinyasa.htm
Is YOGA Just Exercise or a Hindu Religion? See: http://www.lighthousetrailsresearch.com/yoga.htm

A tiny quote, a small class… and soon a little spiritual compromise goes a long way. But then again, what can one expect from a Christian university that has its own labyrinth and is immersed in contemplative spiritual formation?

NEW: Also see:

A Public Service Announcement Regarding Goshen and EMU.
https://mennoknight.wordpress.com/2015/08/19/a-public-service-announcement-regarding-goshen-and-emu/#more-5371

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.

Overview

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.
http://www.faithchristianbookstore.com/item/wynn-mcgregor/the-way-of-the-child-family-booklet-helping-children/133202.html

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.

Endnotes:

[1] Introduction to The Way of The Child (video clips): http://companions.upperroom.org/children
[2] http://resources.mennonitechurch.ca/ResourceView/16/12082
[3] http://resources.mennonitechurch.ca/ResourceView/2/11935
[4] http://www.lighthousetrailsresearch.com/blog/?p=4143

Related:

“PRACTICING THE PRESENCE OF GOD” A GROWING CONTEMPLATIVE TREND http://standupforthetruth.com/2013/06/practicing-the-presence-of-god-a-growing-contemplative-trend-2/

The Danger of Centering Prayer http://www.bibleguidance.co.za/Engarticles/Centering.htm

Interfaith Peace – Mennonites and Muslims

Third Way Café is a ministry website that basically presents Anabaptist Christian topics of special interest to Mennonites. Recently the Third Way Café has been promoting a documentary called Waging Peace: Muslim and Christian Alternatives[1], an hour-long documentary about peacemaking in Christian and Muslim traditions. The goal of this documentary and recommended online links is to nurture a better understanding for world peace.

Links that appear in the documentary[2] include several Islamic centres as well as various Islamic and interfaith blogs. One belongs to Lynn Hybels who is listed with several Muslim leaders under Third Way Cafe’s Peace Blend, Meet the People list.[3] What kind of peace blend does Hybels offer? An Israel Today article explains:

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.[4]

The wife of Bill Hybels, Lynne Hybels is a contributing editor for Jim Wallis and Sojourners magazine, was appointed to President Obama’s faith Council, and has partnered with Tony Campolo and Brian McLaren at “Christ at the Checkpoint”.[5]

Some other links that the Waging Peace website does not necessarily endorse, but have been provided by the Third Way Café website[6], include several Islamic and interfaith websites.

In addition, Third Way Café lists some resources for those who want to explore more about this topic[7]. One of these recommended resources is A Common Word: Muslims and Christians on Love God and Neighbor[8], a book that contains the original letter, “A Common Word between Us and You,” that stressed the common ground of Islam and Christianity in love of God and love of neighbor.[9]

Thirdway Café also provides three video clips from the Waging Peace documentary[10]. The first one is about weekly breakfast meetings of a Mennonite pastor and a Muslim imam in Ontario, Canada, and Muslim and Mennonite students learning from each others’ faith traditions at Rockway Mennonite Collegiate. The second clip shows an interfaith peace camp where children of Islam, Christian and Jewish faiths learn about the others’ traditions. The third is about what Christians and Muslims historically have ‘in common’ regarding peacemaking.

Is partnering with Islamic and supporters of anti-Israel campaigns the way to make biblical peace? While they are blending together, learning to understand eachother, and trying to bring about an alternative world peace, are these Mennonites sharing the biblical gospel of peace with the Muslims[11]? Did Jesus tell his disciples to go make peace with the world and understand the other faiths, or go into all the world and preach the gospel? Without telling Muslims the truth about the Prince of Peace, is such a peace blend even possible[12]?

Say among the heathen that the LORD reigneth: the world also shall be established that it shall not be moved: he shall judge the people righteously. Psalm 96:10
____________________________

[1] http://www.thirdway.com/peace/?Topic=360_Waging+Peace
[2] http://www.thirdway.com/peace/?Topic=364_Links
[3] http://www.thirdway.com/peace/?Page=6680%7CLynne+Hybels
[4] The Impossible People: Lynne Hybels: http://www.israeltoday.co.il/NewsItem/tabid/178/nid/24218/Default.aspx?archive=article_title
[5] See: “Christ at the Checkpoint” and Lynne Hybels: http://standtoministry.com/2012/02/18/christ-at-the-checkpoint-and-lynne-hybels/
[6] http://www.thirdway.com/peace/?Topic=365_Related+Links
[7] http://www.thirdway.com/peace/?Topic=367_Resources
[8] Miroslav Volf, Prince Ghazi bin Muhammad bin Talal, Melissa Yarrington, Eerdmans, 2009. http://www.eerdmans.com/Products/Default.aspx?ISBN=9780802863805
[9] See: The Foolishness of the Yale Proposal, I CAN’T SIGN THE LETTER: Peace at the cost of absolute truth is conciliation with a lie by Eric Barger http://www.ericbarger.com/yale.letter.htm
[10] http://www.thirdway.com/peace/?Topic=369_Video+Clips+from+Documentary
[11] CHRISLAM AND SHARING FAITH WITH MUSLIMS http://standupforthetruth.com/2011/06/chrislam-and-sharing-faith-with-muslims/
[12] Danish Psychologist: ‘Integration of Muslims in Western Societies is Not Possible’ by FELIX STREUNING http://www.familysecuritymatters.org/publications/id.5905/pub_detail.asp