Hegel, Foster and the Mennonites

In the latest issue of The Mennonite, a monthly magazine for members of Mennonite Church USA, Ervin Stutzman, executive director of Mennonite Church USA, writes about the recent discernment process at Eastern Mennonite Seminary. Part of this discernment process training event, which was fuelled by recent homosexual issues, included imagination, contemplative silent listening prayer and a session led by Ruth Haley Barton.[1] Is it any surprise that when Christians turn from what God has written about discernment, they begin to look to other traditions and sources to override their opinions and discomfort? In this case, it appears to be Quaker traditions and contemplative sources.

Stutzman writes in The Mennonite:

“My hope for the church spiked in late January at the annual School for Leadership Training at Eastern Mennonite Seminary in Harrisonburg, Va. My courage rose because we studied group discernment, the practice of listening for God’s voice in the midst of difficult circumstances. As part of that study, we studied the need to cultivate “indifference” to all but the will of God.

I first learned about such indifference from the Quaker tradition of communal discernment. . .

. . . 

Lack of indifference can be a serious impediment to genuine discernment. If we have our minds firmly made up before we enter the group process, we can hardly be impartial to the outcome. In some matters, we may have such strong opinions that we speak of them as a matter of conscience. Rather than listening in the process of decision-making, we may feel compelled to insist, debate or perhaps shout our opinion. Therefore, when we gather in a communal process of discernment as people of conscience with sharply differing opinions, it may be exceedingly difficult to find group consensus. That’s why, in a highly polarized political environment, we may lack the capacity for healthy discernment. 

Lately, in order to cultivate indifference, I’ve been praying the prayer of relinquishment I learned from Richard Foster (Prayers from the Heart, Harper San Francisco, 1994). I commend it to you as well.”

– Ervin Stutzman, Cultivating Indifference, 2014-03-01 ISSUE: The Mennonite http://www.themennonite.org/issues/17-3/articles/Cultivating_indifference

Truly discerning Mennonites (not Menno-lites) might be alarmed to see this Hegelian group dialect method[2] mixed with the spirituality of Quaker and contemplative author Richard Foster, whose writings and prayer methods continue to influence their denominations in the US and Canada.[3] The prayer sources Foster draws from typically include monks and meditating mystics such as Julian of Norwich, Teresa of Avila, Madame Guyon, Emilie Griffin, George Fox, Bernard of Clairvaux, St. Ignatius of Loyola, Henri Nouwen, Evelyn Underhill, Thomas Merton, Sue Monk Kidd, and Richard Rolle. Forms of prayer promoted by Foster are centering, visualization, contemplative, breath, Examen of Consciousness, imagination, Lectio Divina, silence, listening, spiritual ecstasy, and fixed hours of prayer.

Author Ray Yungen writes what Foster really means by these prayer forms:

When Foster speaks of the silence, he does not mean external silence. In his book, Prayer: Finding the Heart’s True Home, Foster recommends the practice of breath prayer —picking a single word or short phrase and repeating it in conjunction with the breath. This is classic contemplative mysticism. In the original 1978 edition of Celebration of Discipline, he makes his objective clear when he states, “Christian meditation is an attempt to empty the mind in order to fill it.” 
In Prayer: Finding the Heart’s True Home, he ties in a quote by one mystic who advised, “You must bind the mind with one thought.”
The advice recounts Anthony de Mello’s remarks in his contemplative prayer classic, Sadhana: A Way to God. His approach was virtually identical to Foster’s:
To silence the mind is an extremely difficult task. How hard it is to keep the mind from thinking, thinking, thinking, forever thinking, forever producing thoughts in a never ending stream. Our Hindu masters in India have a saying: one thorn is removed by another. By this they mean that you will be wise to use one thought to rid yourself of all the other thoughts that crowd into your mind. One thought, one image, one phrase or sentence or word that your mind can be made to fasten on.
I once related Foster’s breath prayer method to a former New Age devotee who is now a Christian. She affirmed this connection when she remarked with astonishment, “That’s what I did when I was into ashtanga yoga!”[4]

These are perilous times when Christians turn to outside sources for discernment and prayer instead of repenting and seeking the truth found in God’s Word alone.

Endnotes:

[1] See: Imagine That https://mennolite.wordpress.com/2014/02/18/imagine-that/
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/
[2] Hegel’s Marxist Dialectic – a Tool Used By the Emerging Church to Bring About a “New World Order” http://www.lighthousetrailsresearch.com/blog/?p=14895
[3] Mennonite Church Canada promotes and offers Foster’s teachings in their resources: http://resources.mennonitechurch.ca/ResourceView/2/2661
[4] Source: Richard Foster’s Renovare President Admits They Have Taught Spiritual Formation to “Hundreds of Thousands of People” http://www.lighthousetrailsresearch.com/blog/?p=7913

Related:

Read about the effects of Richard Foster’s prayer books on another church denomination here:
Richard Foster, The Prayer Room, And Discernment http://reformednazarene.wordpress.com/2009/07/07/richard-foster-the-prayer-room-and-discernment/

Timothy, Take Heed

In the January 2014[1] issue of the MB Herald is an article called They will know us by our theological arrogance[2] by Tim Neufeld[3]. In it he gives advice to move past all the drama of winning theological differences and arguments, and be known by our “love for one another”. The first suggestion is to read broadly and the last is to practice what you preach. For the second idea, he writes:

2. Learn about traditions outside your own.
The history of the church includes different periods, styles and practices of Christian faith. For example, Richard Foster identifies six historical traditions in Streams of Living Water: contemplative, holiness, charismatic, social justice, evangelical and incarnational influences of spirituality. Exposure to other traditions leads to gracious embrace of those who are theologically dissimilar.
Occasionally, I attend an evening vespers service at a nearby convent where worshipping with a small group of Roman Catholic sisters has taught me the importance of quiet reflection in the presence of Christ. We pray, read Scripture and sing with a serene reverence that ministers to the core of my busy soul. I’ve had similar experiences of prayer and worship at a Greek Orthodox monastery located in the mountains an hour from where I live.
I don’t always understand the observances or agree completely with the theology of these communities, but I’m deeply challenged by the piety of their worship.

The problem with this idea is that there is a difference between learning about other traditions and immersing yourself in them while participating. This is how so many Christians have become involved in contemplative spirituality. Richard Foster[4] not only identifies other traditions, he teaches the spirituality behind them and has led countless sincere Christians onto the path of the contemplative mystics. Neufeld is right that there is piety in the worship of Roman Catholic nuns and the Greek Orthodox tradition, but which Jesus[5] are they worshipping? How can two walk together, unless they are agreed? (Amos 3:3)

Neufeld’s third point also involves a caution. While recommending talking to Christians from other cultures to create awareness, he says:

Native American pastor Richard Twiss’s challenge toward reconciliation, especially among and on behalf of First Nations people, has shaped my understanding of forgiveness and oppression.

There is nothing wrong with talking to Christians from other cultures. The difficulty here is that Richard Twiss “continues to teach that the Great Spirit is the Holy Spirit by wearing the cultural items associated with the Great Spirit, even though it is a historical fact that the Great Spirit is a pantheistic god that required blood rituals and human sacrifice. Richard Twiss claims that what he is doing is not syncretism, when it is the very definition of syncretism.”[3] This is something that was further confirmed recently at the Emergent Village Theological Conference that he took part in.[4]

Tim Neufeld’s prayer that those outside the church will know us for our love, not our theological arrogance, should be the prayer of every Christian. We should practice what we preach and learn from others, but not at the expense of compromising doctrine and leading others astray, whether it be into contemplative spirituality or syncretism. Doctrine is important. In the Bible we read Paul exhorting another Timothy to…

Take heed unto thyself, and unto the doctrine; continue in them: for in doing this thou shalt both save thyself, and them that hear thee. 1 Timothy 4:16

The truth is, we can be known as loving and caring and still hold to doctrine and stand up for truth.

Finally, the MB Herald directs readers to Tim Neufeld’s blog, Occasio (timneufeld.blogs.com), where he promotes Bono, U2 Sermons, and the One Campaign (one.org), of which Bono is on the board of directors.[8]

Timothy, take heed.

Endnotes:

[1] http://mbherald.com/january-14-issue/
[2] http://mbherald.com/they-will-know-us-by-our-theological-arrogance/
[3] Tim Neufeld is associate professor of contemporary Christian ministries at Fresno (Cal.) Pacific University.
[4] Richard Foster:http://www.lighthousetrailsresearch.com/fosterlinks.htm
[5] Watch: Another Jesus http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=dncdIxJeA8U
[6] “Richard Twiss is spreading the doctrines of the New Apostolic Reformation and is endorsed by them. He claims that the Great Spirit of the Indians is the Holy Spirit of the Bible. . . He continues to teach that the Great Spirit is the Holy Spirit by wearing the cultural items associated with the Great Spirit, even though it is a historical fact that the Great Spirit is a pantheistic god that required blood rituals and human sacrifice. Richard Twiss claims that what he is doing is not syncretism, when it is the very definition of syncretism.”http://www.deceptioninthechurch.com/twissquotes.html
Also see: http://www.deceptioninthechurch.com/reasonstoreject.html
[7] At the 2010 Emergent Village Theological Conference, which Richard Twiss was a part of, a blog for the event states:
“Richard Twiss . . . began by blessing us with sage incense and having a member of his team dance a healing dance. . . . He moved from rejecting his reservation upbringing, to re-discovering his heritage and hating white people, coming to faith in Christ through evangelical churches, walking away again from his heritage, to re-re-discovering his Native culture and integrating it into his faith.” – Emergent Village Theological Conference, http://iowaemergent.blogspot.com/2010/11/emergent-village-theological-conference.html
*Also related: NEW PRINT BOOKLET TRACT: Can Cultures Be Redeemed? (Some Things You Should Know About the Indigenous People’s Movement) http://www.lighthousetrailsresearch.com/blog/?p=11295
[8] For an eye opening revelation on Bono and the One Campaign, please read this informative article with pictures, video clips and links, here:
U2′s Bono, Unorthodox Superman http://www.submergingchurch.com/2013/07/05/u2′s-bono-unorthodox-superman/
Also see:
Bono: David sang the blues and Jesus did some punk rock https://www.thebereancall.org/content/bono-david-sang-blues-and-jesus-did-some-punk-rock
Also related: U2’s Music And Moments Of Vertigo by Tim Neufeld http://www.usmb.org/u2s-music-and-moments-of-vertigo

Will Mennonites Attend this Conference?

Ray Yungen will be speaking at Columbia Bible College, Abbotsford, B.C. Canada, this August 15th-17th. Also speaking at this conference will be Jacob Prasch of Moriel Ministries and Eric Barger. (See SCHEDULE.) Why is this ironic?

CBC is an inter-Mennonite Bible Institute that was established to actively promote and teach a strong evangelical Anabaptist/Mennonite theology. The college is affiliated with the British Columbia Conference of Mennonite Brethren Churches and Mennonite Church British Columbia, their confessions of faith having been adopted by the college. Their denominational links include:
*Mennonite Brethren Conference Canada 
www.mbconf.ca
*B.C. Conference of Mennonite Brethren Churches 
www.bcmb.org
*Mennonite Church Canada 
mennonitechurch.ca
*Mennonite Church B.C. 
mcbc.ca

Columbia Bible College’s President’s message says:

Through the power of Jesus living in us, we are aiming to live out the Great Commandment: “to love God with heart, soul, mind and strength,” and “to love our neighbours as we love ourselves.” This requires a holistic understanding of life that integrates spiritual formation, biblical studies, mission engagement, leadership development with our general studies courses to develop a biblical understanding of life and mission.

Part of their mission has recently included influencing students in Roman Catholic spiritual direction and ancient mysticism.

For example, on their faculty is a teacher who has been trained in the ways of Franciscan priest Richard Rohr’s male spirituality, an ecumenical and inter-religious spirituality program for men that “transcends the boundaries of race, nation, culture, gender, economics/class, politics, sexual orientation and religious differences.” Too find out more, read More Rohr Influence – this time at Inter-Mennonite Bible College.

Another teacher of spirituality at Columbia Bible College is the spiritual director and pastor at the contemplative Imago Dei Community (affiliated with the BC MB Conference of Churches). For more information read Another article in the MB Herald that opens the door to contemplative spirituality.

One teacher of biblical studies at Columbia Bible College is married to the lead pastor of Emmanuel Mennonite Church who recently wrote a book on spiritual disciplines. Read about this here: Pausing to Examine ‘Sacred Pauses.’

A required first year course at Columbia Bible College is Spiritual Formation where students read through Richard Foster’s Celebration of Discipline. CBC also offers a Worship Arts BA program where third and fourth year students learn worship ideas from the contemplative communities in Europe.(1)

The students spend a semester in Europe studying worship practices, art, architecture and church history. They spend time at Taizé, L’Abri, new congregations in Germany, and either Iona or Northumbria Community in order to learn about living in Christian community.”
– Andrew Dyck (mar 12 at 9:31 a.m.), In Europe, touching history moves faith deeper
(www.mennoworld.org/2012/3/5/europe-touching-history-moves-faith-deeper/)

Taize is an ecumenical community in France that combines forms of contemplative worship, mystical practices and interspiritual beliefs. Northumbria(2) and Iona(3) are similar ecumenical communities in Scotland.

All these factors together reveal how influential the ecumenical spiritual formation movement has been in this and many other colleges in North America. Therefore, it’s ironic that ALL of the speakers at this August’s free conference at Columbia Bible College teach very strongly, based on the Word of God, against the very things that are making their way in through the doors of this Bible college. Will this conference be attended by any Mennonites who are departing from God’s Word by incorporating Roman Catholic spiritual formation into Columbia Bible College programs? If so, their ears may not like what they hear, but God often speaks lovingly to his children that way when they are straying from the truth.

Endnotes:

1) See CBC Worship Arts BA program here:
http://www.columbiabc.edu/page.aspx?pid=835

2) Northumbria practices “a way of living centred in our Rule of Life of Availability and Vulnerability. The Rule, along with our Daily Office (Celtic Daily Prayer), reflects the influence of the monastic tradition in the development of Community ethos.”(http://www.northumbriacommunity.org/)

3) Iona: (http://iona.org.uk/)

_______________________________________________
Note: See Jacob Prasch’s Itinerary here.

More Rohr Influence – this time at Inter-Mennonite Bible College

Gareth Brandt, author of Under Construction: Reframing Men’s Spirituality, is a teacher on the Biblical/Theological Studies Faculty of Columbia Bible College [1]. An experienced leader of retreats for adults and youth and a certified user of Myers-Briggs Type Indicator, Brandt has also been trained in the use of the Enneagram [2]. The foreword in his book, Under Construction: Reframing Men’s Spirituality (2009 Herald press), is written by Benedictine oblate Arthur Paul Boers [3]. It’s also been reviewed by neo pagan Franciscan priest, Richard Rohr [4], who Brandt quotes many times from various works (From Wild Man to Wise Man, Reflections on Male Spirituality, Adam’s Return: The Five Promises of Male Initiation). This is no small coincidence as Brandt is one of the Authors and Leaders in Male Spirituality at Richard Rohr’s Arizona Male Spirituality, and is listed on the same page as Richard Rohr, Matthew Fox, Scott Peck, Gerald May of the Shalem Institute, Jungian analyst James Hollis, and Robert Bly. Arizona Male Spirituality is Richard Rohr’s ecumenical and inter-religious spirituality program for men that “transcends the boundaries of race, nation, culture, gender, economics/class, politics, sexual orientation and religious differences.” According to his website, Rohr’s rites of passage (which Brandt has been trained in) are about spirituality and age-old traditions, not religion. Like Brandt, Rohr is also a promoter and teachers of the occultic Enneagram.

Other well known names or concepts quoted or referenced in Brandt’s book include Eugene Peterson, penal atonement denier William P. Young, contemplative Henri Nouwen, radical contemplative socialist Shane Claborne, and the Jungian psychology of Myers Briggs.

On his blog (see: My Favorite Authors, January 20, 2012, garethbrandt.wordpress.com) Brandt shares with readers that among his favorite authors are contemplative and emergent leaders such as Richard Foster (Celebration of Discipline), Brian McLaren (A New Kind of Christian), Henri Nouwen [all his books] [5], J. Denny Weaver [6], Tom Sine [7], Marva Dawn, and Joyce Rupp [8]. Among his favorite poets and song writers are Lennon & McCartney (of The Beatles) [9].

Are such influences in keeping with this inter-Mennonite Bible institute’s history of promoting an evangelical Anabaptist/Mennonite theology? Are some students at Columbia Bible College being taught that these things are biblical? Is this what is being supported by the Mennonite conferences?

Weren’t we warned?

But false prophets also arose among the people, just as there will also be false teachers among you, who will secretly introduce destructive heresies, even denying the Master who bought them, bringing swift destruction upon themselves. 2 Peter 2:1

Let not many of you become teachers, my brethren, knowing that as such we will incur a stricter judgment. James 3:1

Gareth Brandt interview

Endnotes:

[1] CBC is an inter-Mennonite Bible Institute promoting an evangelical Anabaptist/Mennonite theology supported by the Mennonite conferences. (See history here: http://www.columbiabc.edu/page.aspx?pid=1016)

[2] Learn about the occultic roots of this tool here:
Tell Me Who I Am, O Enneagram
http://www.iclnet.org/pub/resources/text/cri/cri-jrnl/web/crj0146a.html
What Is The Enneagram?
http://solasisters.blogspot.com/2011/05/what-is-enneagram.html

[3] Boers is a Mennonite who participates in medieval Catholic spiritual disciplines. He is an ordained minister in the Mennonite Church USA and a Benedictine oblate at St. Gregory’s Abbey in Three Rivers, Michigan. See:
MB Herald Promotes Ancient Rhythms of Monastic Prayer
https://mennolite.wordpress.com/2010/12/11/mb-herald-promotes-ancient-rhythms-of-monastic-prayer/

[4] See this on Brandt’s website:
http://mensspirituality.com/table-of-contents/

[5] See: WHAT DID HENRI NOUWEN REALLY BELIEVE?
http://www.lighthousetrailsresearch.com/nouwen.htm

[6] See: J. Denny Weaver’s Nonviolent Atonement: A Critique
http://www.tektonics.org/books/denatrvw.html

[7] Tom Sine of the Mustard Seed Associates is a promoter of Celtic Spirituality, monastic communities, the labyrinth and the Catholic spiritual disciplines.
See: Mennonite Central Committee promotes Mustard Seed Associates (Updated)
https://mennolite.wordpress.com/2010/03/13/mennonite-central-committee-promotes-mustard-seed-associates/

[8] The Catholic Free Press pomotes New Age advocate Joyce Rupp
http://www.freerepublic.com/focus/f-bloggers/2875078/posts

[9] They Sold Their Souls For Rock & Roll: The Beatles Exposed
http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=00W93kE-ZE0

RELATED:

Richard Rohr Impacts the Mark Centre, the Mennonites, and Maybe Millions
https://mennolite.wordpress.com/2012/06/30/richard-rohr-impacts-the-mark-centre/

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

Everyone is ‘Rohring’ full speed ahead down the rails (and over the bridge) of mystical spirituality
http://muddystreams.wordpress.com/2011/03/19/rohring-down-the-rails-and-over-the-bridge-of-mystical-spirituality/

The Enneagram and the Mennonites
http://rollovermenno.wordpress.com/2007/08/30/the-enneagram-and-the-mennonites/

Video: Franciscan Father Richard Rohr interview about spiritual direction
http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=KII2C3uxD4s

Mennonites Reading and Quoting Thomas Kelly

Thomas Kelly (1893-1941) was a renowned mystic Quaker, teacher, writer and scholar. Even though he had pantheistic beliefs, his book A Testament of Devotion is frequently quoted by Christians.

A Testament of Devotion is not a book that should be quoted favorably by Christians. Doing so can lead readers towards a spirituality that is contrary to biblical Christianity and that ultimately rejects the gospel. Kelly does not beat around the bush about his beliefs. On the first page of the book, he comes right to the point … God is in all. So anyone reading that book and then quoting favorably from it may indeed have strong affinities towards contemplative and New Age spirituality, and when Richard Foster wrote the foreword for a 1996 Harper Collins edition of A Testament of Devotion, perhaps this is his way of saying he agrees with such persuasions. Either way, if you are reading one of your favorite Christian authors and you come across a quote by Thomas Kelly, you might want to let that author know of your concerns.

“A Testament of Devotion” Says God is in All
http://www.lighthousetrailsresearch.com/blog/?p=3504

Here is a Thomas Kelly quote from his book:

“The Inner Light, the Inward Christ, is no mere doctrine, belonging peculiarly to a small religious fellowship, to be accepted or rejected as a mere belief. It is the living Center of Reference for all Christian souls and Christian groups – yes, and of non-Christian groups as well”

-Thomas Kelley, A Testament of Devotion
http://www.lighthousetrailsresearch.com/fosteranduniversalism.htm

The Bible says:

But if our gospel be hid, it is hid to them that are lost: In whom the god of this world hath blinded the minds of them which believe not, lest the light of the glorious gospel of Christ, who is the image of God, should shine unto them. 2 Cor. 4:3,4

Here is another Thomas Kelly quote from A Testament of Devotion:

“The sooner we stop thinking that we are the energetic operators of religion and discover that God is at work, as the Aggressor, the Invader, the Initiator, so much sooner do we discover that our task is to call people to be still and know, listen, hearken in quiet invitation to the promptings of the Divine…”

-Thomas R. Kelly A Testament of Devotion (San Francisco, Harper 1941) page 59

An extended version of this quote also appears in Your Ears Will Hear: A Journal for Listening to God on page 7-8, followed by another full page repeat of the same quote on page 169, as well as a reference to Thomas Kelly’s A Testament of Devotion on page 144. (Read more about Your Ears Will Hearhere.)

Many people who promote contemplative prayer use the “be still and know” theme, but it is only the first part of Ps. 46:10. “Be still and know that I am God,” is used out of context to endorse a prayer method of “quieting” or going beyond the mind, but is this what the verse is talking about? Read MEDITATION AND PSALM 46:10 (by Marcia Montenegro of CANA) to find out how this verse is frequently misused to support mystical meditation.

Once again, by condoning such teachings with their support, we see how the BC Conference of Mennonite Brethren Churches may be missing the mark by promoting the MB affiliated Mark Centre.

RELATED:

What Will Ears Hear in the Mark Centre’s New Book?
https://mennolite.wordpress.com/2012/06/02/the-mark-centres-new-book/

CONTEMPLATING THE INNER LIGHT OF THE QUAKERS
http://apprising.org/2008/08/25/contemplating-the-inner-light-of-the-quakers/

CONTEMPLATING THE INNER LIGHT OF THE QUAKERS (PT. 2)
http://apprising.org/2008/08/25/contemplating-the-inner-light-of-the-quakers-pt-2/

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

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

Mennonite Rites of Worship?

The theme of the November 2010 issue of the MB Herald (www.mbherald.com), ‘MB Rites of Worship,’ is liturgical worship. Under the editorial on page 4 (Life’s liturgies) we read:

“As always, we trust your reading of the Herald will be a worshipful experience.”

Scattered throughout this issue are liturgical quotes to aid the readers in ‘a worshipful experience,’ such as the Liturgy selection on page 12 where we find a prayer by Evelyn Underhill, ‘Christian’ (Anglo-Catholic ) mystic and member of the occult Order of the Golden Dawn, which was possibly the single greatest influence on twentieth century western occultism (see here and here). Even so, she is popular among contemplatives, such as Richard Foster who praises and recommends her work for all students of spirituality and says that “few women of the twentieth century have done more to further our understanding of the devotional life” (see Richard Foster and Gnostic Mysticism). According to Ephesians 5:11-13, should Evelyn Underhill’s quote be in the MB Herald as an example of a worshipful liturgy?

Also in this issue is “A rough guide to the liturgical calendar” on page 6 beside a picture of a white robed priest’s hand above a water basin. Included in this guide are worship celebrations unfamiliar to most Mennonites, such as Lent (and Ash Wednesday), Ordinary Time, Trinity Sunday, Christ the King day and the Lectionary readings. But when did these traditions, added by the Roman Catholic church to their liturgical calendar year, become Mennonite Brethren rites of worship? For Mennonites who are new to these terms, Ordinary Time is a concept that protestant churches adopted after Vatican II. The Feast of Christ the King was instituted in 1925 by Pope Pius XI. Churches that use the Revised Common Lectionary observe Christ the King Sunday on the last Sunday of the year, in agreement with a 1969 Roman Catholic date revision. The Revised Common Lectionary is also based on the Catholic liturgical reforms of the late 1960s. Its first version was known as the Common Lectionary, assembled in 1983, itself an ecumenical revision of the 1969 Ordo Lectionum Missae, a three-year lectionary produced by the Catholic Church following the reforms of the Second Vatican Council. (Source: wikipedia)

Also included in the November MB Herald for our worshipful reading experience are some reviews in Cross Currents on page 33. Training bodies and hearts for God is a review by the worship of leader of the MB’s contemplative Highland Community Church (highlandcommunitychurch.blogspot.com). It’s about a book called Desiring the Kingdom: Worldview, and cultural formation by James K. A. Smith , who was also recently referred to in an October MB Herald article by Len Hjalmarson (What Kind of Discipleship is this in the MB Herald?). The author is a figure in the radical orthodoxy and postmodern Christian movement who is very fond of reading Thomas Merton (as his blog and recent posts reveal @ jameskasmith.blogspot.com). The MB Herald review of Smith’s book discusses the importance of rhythms and rituals, bodily senses in worship (like smelling incense), the views of contemplative Dallas Willard, the blending of elements from other traditions with MB traditions, and using our imaginations even more creatively and intentionally, as in the tradition of Nadab and Abihu, the sons of Aaron who offered strange fire before the LORD, which He had not commanded them to do (Leviticus 10).

Another review called Praying in time is about a book called Praying the Hours in ordinary life by Lauralee Farrer and Clayton J. Schmit. It has also been endorsed by friend of the emergent church movement Phyllis Tickle:

“Beautifully constructed and equally well suited for use by either first-time or long-time practitioners of fixed-hour prayer, Praying the Hours in Ordinary Life is rich in details, offering brief, informing commentary on the history of the divine hours and speaking with candor about both the how-to and the why-to of the discipline. Those of us who have learned over the years to appreciate the power of fixed-hour prayer in shaping our Christian life will all rejoice in the arrival of this newest manual and breviary.”
– PHYLLIS TICKLE compiler, The Divine Hours

The MB Herald review tells us that this is a book that introduces the ancient Benedictine devotional practice known as the opus Dei or divine office, a 1500 year old monastic rule still in practice worldwide of 8 fixed hours of prayer a day including one in the middle of the night. There is more mention of praying the hours and Taize-style cyclical refrain, for all those who are choosing the ecumenical pathway to the Roman Catholic church.

Reading these endorsements in the MB Herald of this new blend of Mennonite Roman Catholic traditions was supposed to be part of a worshipful experience.

Is the MB Herald actually inferring that Roman Catholic fixed hours of prayer are now MB rites of worship and liturgy? Are the Mennonites actually accepting this? Has the gradual indoctrination dulled the senses of the people? Has there been an outcry about the contemplative spirituality promoted in the October issue? By the lack of letters of protest to the editor in this month’s issue, are we to conclude that the Mennonites are all practicing “the silence“?

*What are the Divine Hours? See here:

Liturgy of the Hours
http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Liturgy_of_the_Hours

Canonical hours
http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Canonical_hours

*What is true worship?

The Biblical Definition Of Worship
http://www.deceptioninthechurch.com/biblicalworship.html

Richard Foster and Mindfulness in the MB Herald?

In the October 2010 issue of the Mennonite Brethren Herald, which is one of the most revealing so far as to how far the Mennonites have regressed back to Roman Catholicism while still squeaking by as namesakes of Menno Simons who renounced the Roman Catholic church and her false doctrines, we read on page 11 an article called Mindful discipleship (the concept of mindfulness is also central to Buddhist meditation and its disciples). The article is a conversation between the new interim MB Herald editor J Janzen and Canadian Mennonite University faculty Gerry Ediger and Gordon Matties about what mindful discipleship might look like for the ordinary Christian. Recommended for this process of mindfulness are the practices and spiritual disciplines of Richard Foster, who many discerning Christians recognize is leading thousands astray through contemplative spirituality.

Gerry:
“…Among the twelve classic Christian practices Richard Foster describes, he names fasting and living simply alongside study. Disciplines, like fasting and living simply, are really quite counterintuitive to us in our cultural and economic setting, but the biblical call to both is clear.”

http://www.mbconf.ca/home/products_and_services/resources/publications/mb_herald/october_2010/features/mindful_discipleship/

While it may or may not be surprising that the MB Herald is promoting Richard Foster, it’s no news that Gerry Ediger is recommending this Quaker and his spiritual discplines, which involve far more than fasting and living simply. This is not simply some innocuous random mention of Foster’s name. First of all, Ediger is no stranger to contemplative spiritual formation, and has even been teaching it a Canadian Mennonite University:

Courses offered in 2007-2008
10.390/3 Christian Spiritual Formation.

A course designed to help students deepen their spiritual formation in the context of their own Christian tradition. To this end students will conduct primary research into their own tradition of Christian spirituality in dialogue with other traditions. Participation in selected spiritual practices and a weekend retreat are expected. (Gerry Ediger)
http://www.cmu.ca/programs/grad_courses_previous.html

Even before that, his articles revealed his interest in contemplative spirituality. Take the following excerpts, for example:

Spring 2005 article:

Mennonites, and with them Mennonite Brethren, are joining the growing discourse around Christian spirituality. C. Arnold Snyder’s new book, Following in the Footsteps of Christ: The Anabaptist Tradition,1 is recent evidence of this. Spiritual formation is also finding renewed interest in seminary curricula. Mennonite pastors are discussing contemplative prayer and seeking training as spiritual directors. The first issue of Vision: A Journal for Church and Theology,2 jointly sponsored by institutions of Mennonite Church Canada and Mennonite Church USA, was dedicated to the theme of spirituality.
A Sketch of Early Mennonite Brethren Spirituality
Gerald Ediger
http://www.directionjournal.org/article/?1374

Fall 2005 article:

Creating this space can signal to the Holy Spirit that we are open to God; it may even help us see that God is already there in our experience, waiting for us to see and accept love and grace.

Such intention, patiently accepted and activated can and will lead to other healthful spiritual practices suited to our needs and disposition. We may experiment with lectio divina (divine reading), an approach to Bible reading that blends reading, prayer, meditation and silence.

Another option is to journal our prayers and, when we have finished writing, sit in silence to hear—and perhaps even record—what the Holy Spirit says to us in response. A half hour spent Saturday evening or earlier Sunday morning praying for the coming worship service and meditating on the sermon text, if it is known, can renew our experience of worship. Taking the risk of meeting with a spiritual director can open our eyes to God’s presence in our experience and enhance our awareness of how we respond to that Presence. Books such as Richard Foster’s Celebration of Discipline, Dallas Willard’s The Spirit of the Disciplines or Marjorie Thompson’s Soul Feast (all contemporary Protestant writers on Christian spirituality) can encourage us with the many options before us in addressing our spiritual hunger.

No two spiritual pathways are alike, but each of our pathways opens before us as we clear space in our daily life—space for attention to God and to the connecting such attention brings to our awareness of God and others around us.

Clearing space, paying attention, being connected
http://www.themennonite.org/issues/9-7/articles/Clearing_space_paying_attention_being_connected

[Note:
*Richard Foster is not an evangelical believer, but a Quaker.
*The above article, originally published in The Blazer, Canadian Mennonite University, Fall 2005, also appears here: http://www.christianity.ca/NETCOMMUNITY/Page.aspx?pid=3736]

Obviously, Ediger has been a disciple of Foster and his disciplines for quite some time. More recently, Ediger was one of the endorsers of a book called Longing for God Seven Paths of Christian Devotion by Richard Foster and Gayle Beebe. In the September 2009 MB Herald, semi-retired CMU professor Ediger (who was teaching courses in Christian Spirituality at the time), highly recommended this book.

“Foster and Beebe certainly captured my interest and spiritual imagination as I used this book for my morning quiet time. I recommend it highly. The book is also available as an abridged audio book–a great resource for the morning commute or a road trip.”
—Gerry Ediger, Mennonite Brethren Herald, September 2009
http://www.ivpress.com/cgi-ivpress/book.pl/review/code=3514

It has been said that one man’s trash is another man’s treasure, but as evangelical Christians, shouldn’t we all examine the books of spiritual teachers by the same standard (God’s Word) and come to the same conclusions? In this biblical review of Foster’s book which Ediger so highly esteems, Pastor Gary Gilley concludes:

Foster and Beebe can tell us that there are seven paths to Christian devotion but in reality most of these are dead ends at best. Lack of biblical authority and majoring on esoteric experience, these highlighted mystics have led countless thousands astray with their extra-biblical and unbiblical teachings. Foster and Beebe do not understand this danger and instead paint these false teachings as spiritual guides and masters. The book is, for the most part, a collage of apostates and their heretical teachings. Included are: Origen, Thomas Merton, Francis of Assisi, Ignatius of Loyola, Julian of Norwich, George Fox, Friedrich Schleiermacher, Teresa of Avila, St. John of the Cross, among others. It has value as a reference tool but not as a guide to spiritual devotion and life.
Longing for God by Richard J. Foster and Gayle D. Beebe
Written by Gary Gilley
http://www.svchapel.org/resources/book-reviews/4-christian-living/654-longing-for-god-by-richard-j-foster-and-gayle-d-beebe

Exactly what kind of mindful discipleship is being promoted in the MB Herald? Is this another example of contemplative spirituality slipping in between the lines and through the cracks?

Speaking of mindfulness, wouldn’t it be refreshing to see some brave Mennonites (who have filled their minds with God’s Word instead of Richard Foster’s words) follow the example of Menno Simons and speak their minds to those in MB leadership and say that enough is enough?!

***Related:

Some Foster facts to be mindful of:

RICHARD FOSTER
http://understandthetimes.org/transcripts/apr2008/2474.shtml

RICHARD FOSTER AND HIS 100 SPIRITUAL CLASSICS (Devotional Masters)
http://www.lighthousetrailsresearch.com/fosters100spiritualclassics.htm

Richard Foster—Celebration of Deception
by Bob DeWaay
http://cicministry.org/commentary/issue112.htm

RICHARD FOSTER: THE BIBLE A RELIABLE GUIDE DESPITE INCONSISTENCIES
http://apprising.org/2010/03/18/richard-foster-the-bible-a-reliable-guide-despite-inconsistencies/

Richard Foster’s Renovare Turns to Panentheist Mystic Richard Rohr and Emerging Darling Phyllis Tickle For New Book Project
http://www.lighthousetrailsresearch.com/blog/?p=4986

RICHARD FOSTER A RELIABLE SOURCE FOR PROPER CHRISTIAN SPIRITUALITY?
http://apprising.org/2009/03/14/richard-foster-a-reliable-source-for-proper-christian-spirituality/

Richard Foster and the Be Still DVD
http://www.lighthousetrailsresearch.com/richardfosterbestilldvd.htm

Update:

NEW:

Mindfulness: no-mind over matter

By Marcia Montenegro, November 2010
http://christiananswersforthenewage.org/Articles_Mindfulness.html