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/

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Mennonites ask ‘What is Truth?’

Recently, a reader e-mailed Menno-lite with concerns about Mennonite Church Canada. One of these included a portion of an article in The Canadian Mennonite[1] (called What is Truth?) that deals with contemplative spirituality in a positive light. The reader commented that . . .

“It is interesting that the MC Canada writer confirms what your blog has said all along, that contemplative spirituality leads to an interspiritual “religion”. This is not new, see Ezekiel 8 for the description of the first “interfaith worship center” that the temple was turned into.”

The following is a quote from The Canadian Mennonite article called “What is Truth?”:

“It has become clear that there is a need to have some truths upon which many can agree, and it has become clear that there are different ways of finding truth. These ways are not the old ways of an individual studying and developing truth, nor of an individual prophet receiving a revealed truth that all must obey.

Historians like Karen Armstrong have come to the conclusion that there is truth to be found by studying the wide experience of many people over time and space. In her book A History of God, Armstrong proposes that mystics past and present, Christian, Jewish, Muslim and beyond, have come to truths through lives of contemplation. These truths include:

• There is a god/God who can be approached, found and communicated with through contemplative prayer.
• This god/God works to change people from the inside out into empathic and love-driven workers for change in society.

Because she finds this in many religions, she does not depend on outside influences like religious texts and practice, or hierarchies, to influence people. Instead, god/God works from the inside out to influence and change people no matter which religion nurtured and matured them. The Golden Rule—“Do to others what you want them to do to you” (Matthew 7:12)—is an example of this. Jesus’ two great commandments—“Love the Lord your God with all your heart and with all your soul. Love him with all your strength and with all your mind.’ And, ‘Love your neighbour as you love yourself’ ” (Luke 10:25-28)—is a Jewish/Christian summary of the same.

At the Mennonite Church Canada biennial assembly in Winnipeg this summer, Betty Pries called on participants to turn to contemplative life, surrendering to God all of their lives; abiding in Christ, allowing God to free them from their attachments to anything other than God; and to incarnate Christ in their lives. This directly parallels Armstrong’s findings from her study of the Abrahamic faiths.”

SOURCE-“What is truth?”
By Dave Rogalsky
Eastern Canada Correspondent
Posted Oct. 22, 2014
http://www.canadianmennonite.org/articles/“what-truth”

What is truth?

Jesus said, in his high priestly prayer to the Father, “Sanctify them through thy truth: thy word is truth.” (John 17:17). Jesus is the Word; “In the beginning was the Word, and the Word was with God, and the Word was God” (John 1:1), “And the Word was made flesh, and dwelt among us… full of grace and truth” (John 1:14), “and his name is called The Word of God.” (Rev 19:13)

Jesus also said “I am the way, the truth, and the life, no man cometh unto the Father but by me.”(John 14:6) But the article in The Canadian Mennonite says it has become clear that there are different ways of finding truth. Are there?

Hear the word of the LORD, ye children of Israel: for the LORD hath a controversy with the inhabitants of the land, because there is no truth, nor mercy, nor knowledge of God in the land. (Hos 4:1).

For this cause also thank we God without ceasing, because, when ye received the word of God which ye heard of us, ye received it not as the word of men, but as it is in truth, the word of God, which effectually worketh also in you that believe. 1 Thessl 2:13

The article says the ways to find truth are not the old ways, as an individual prophet receiving a revealed truth that all must obey. Is this true?

And he gave unto Moses, when he had made an end of communing with him upon mount Sinai, two tables of testimony, tables of stone, written with the finger of God. Ex. 31:18

For whatsoever things were written aforetime were written for our learning, that we through patience and comfort of the scriptures might have hope. Romans 15:4

The article says that people need not depend on outside influences like religious texts and practice, or hierarchies, to influence them. Does God work from the inside out? Don’t we need the Bible to know truth?

I will worship toward thy holy temple, and praise thy name for thy lovingkindness and for thy truth: for thou hast magnified thy word above all thy name. Psa 138:2

But these are written, that ye might believe that Jesus is the Christ, the Son of God; and that believing ye might have life through his name. John 20:31

For the word of God is quick, and powerful, and sharper than any twoedged sword, piercing even to the dividing asunder of soul and spirit, and of the joints and marrow, and is a discerner of the thoughts and intents of the heart. Hebrews 4:12

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. Rev 22:19

In summary, truth is not found from contemplating within. God gave us a written record for us to read, by which we can know truth. His Word has been preserved through the ages for our benefit. Martyrs have died for it. Our entire Juedo-Christian system of Law is based on it. In it we find truth, because Jesus is the Word, and He is the truth. We cannot trust any other source that claims to be.

____
[1] The Canadian Mennonite Mission statement: To educate, inspire, inform, and foster dialogue on issues facing Mennonites in Canada as it shares the good news of Jesus Christ from an Anabaptist perspective. We do this through a print publication (published 24 times a year) and through other media, working with our church partners. Canadian Mennonite serves primarily the people and churches of Mennonite Church Canada.

Mennonites bending their ears to the earth

The earth is the LORD’S, and the fulness thereof; the world, and they that dwell therein. Psalm 24:1

Next month, on July 28-31, Mennonite Church Canada will be gathering together at Native Assembly 2014 in Winnipeg, Manitoba.[1] Together, Mennonites and aboriginals are going to celebrate through song and ceremony on the land, hear from elders and teachers, and bend their ears to the earth. Here they will discover old and new teachings which will bring them “closer to the Spirit, to each other, and to the land.”

According to the schedule, each of the four days opens with sacred fire prayer times followed by workshops that teach such things as Water, Fire, Wind and Earth: Creator’s Medicine Chest, following the Natural Laws of Nature, and the 7 Sacred Teachings of the Ojibwe to see what the animals have to teach them. Another workshop is about reading the Bible outdoors in God’s ‘second book’, the land, to see what happens when one is read in the presence of the other.

Participants, leaders and speakers include representatives from the Mennonite Central Committee, Canadian Mennonite University, Mennonite Women USA and various First Nations members, leaders and elders.

One of the workshop leaders is Dave Courchene – Nii Gaani Aki Innini (Leading Earth Man), who carries his message of hope and peace to the world. He believes his ancient Indigenous knowledge is “the foundation in supporting the New Life that Mother Earth is now entering, and that the Elders have confirmed has arrived.”[2]

A member of the Pine Creek First Nation will light the first Sacred Fire on opening night of Native Assembly, and the Summer Bear Dance Troupe will perform on opening day.

“Thus saith the LORD, Learn not the way of the heathen” Jeremiah 10:2

As these Mennonites participate in First Nations ceremonies, bend their ears to the earth, and learn old and new teachings from aboriginal elders to bring them closer to the Spirit, each other, and to the land, are they not putting the creation before God, who created all things for His glory(Romans 1:25)?

That at the name of Jesus every knee should bow, of things in heaven, and things in earth, and things under the earth; And that every tongue should confess that Jesus Christ is Lord, to the glory of God the Father. Phil. 2:10-11

Endnotes:

[1]http://home.mennonitechurch.ca/event/NativeAssembly2014/theme
[2]http://www.trcm.ca/public-education/speakers-bureau/speakers-bureau-member-profiles/dave-courchene/

Related:

How should a Christian view environmentalism? http://www.gotquestions.org/environmentalism-Christian.html

The Environmental Agenda, The New World Religion: The Spiritual Roots of Global Government http://www.garykah.org/GaryKah/The_Environmental_Agenda_files/The%20Environmental%20Agenda%20.pdf

Cult of Green: The United Nations Environmental Sabbath and the New Global Ethic http://forcingchange.wordpress.com/2012/11/28/cult-of-green-the-united-nations-environmental-sabbath-and-the-new-global-ethic/

All for Gaia – Earth Day and Total Transformation by Carl Teichrib http://www.crossroad.to/articles2/forcing-change/09/4-earth-gaia.htm

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.

ENDNOTES:

[1] Seeds for Justice and Hope for Palestinians and Israelis http://mideastpeace.net/Portland_Sabeel_Conference_2014/Schedule.htm
[2] Christian responsibility for Palestinian Justice Part 1: http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=mz_caQ67gBM
[3] Part 2: http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=3hM7Us1wDzk
[4] See: Knight of Malta, Jerry Boykin quote – “…the sword today is an AR-15…go get one…it’s biblical” http://ephesians511blog.net/2014/02/26/knight-of-malta-jerry-boykin-quote-the-sword-today-is-an-ar-15-go-get-one-its-biblical/
[5]http://web.archive.org/web/20071013102203/http://relevantmagazine.com/god_article.php?id=7418
[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: http://www.driscollcontroversy.com/?page_id=9
[7] See: PROFANE PREACHERS CONTRIBUTE TO KILLING THE CONSCIENCE: http://www.newswithviews.com/West/marsha238.htm
[8] What is Christian Palestinianism: https://mennolite.wordpress.com/2014/02/21/what-is-christian-palestinianism/
[9] https://mennolite.wordpress.com/2014/05/28/mclarens-palestinian-justice-speech-part-2/

RELATED:

Mennonite Palestinianism https://mennolite.wordpress.com/2014/02/21/mennonite-palestinianism/

The Anti-Israel Movement and the Mennonites: Part 1 – What’s it all about? https://mennolite.wordpress.com/2014/03/07/the-anti-israel-movement-and-the-mennonites-part-1/

The Anti-Israel Movement and the Mennonites: Part 2 – In the Name of Christ https://mennolite.wordpress.com/2014/03/08/the-anti-israel-movement-and-the-mennonites-part-2/

The Anti-Israel Movement and the Mennonites: Part 3 – Pawns at the Checkpoint https://mennolite.wordpress.com/2014/03/08/the-anti-israel-movement-and-the-mennonites-part-3-pawns-at-the-checkpoint/

Sabeel, Merton, Mennonite Convergence https://mennolite.wordpress.com/2014/03/13/sabeel-merton-mennonite-convergence/

“COME AND SEE”: MENNONITE LEADERS VISIT ISRAEL/PALESTINE http://www.mennoniteusa.org/2014/03/24/come-and-see-mennonite-leaders-visit-israelpalestine/

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’ @ http://www.breitbart.com/Big-Government/2014/10/11/Seattle-Says-Goodbye-Columbus-Day). As he has said, everything must change, and so it has begun in America.

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

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/