The Thin Place Trend Continues

The contemplative trend continues to surface in Mennonite publications, as recently shown by a two part article called Moving thinward[1] in the Canadian Mennonite by Troy Watson[2]. It’s about ‘thin places,’ believed by some to be places where we can feel God’s presence more readily because the barrier between the spiritual realm and the material is thinner than in other places. Another article about ‘thin places’ was recently published in the MB Herald, called Find Yourself a Thin Place this Christmas[3].

Could this growing interest in Celtic spirituality and thin places be the fruit of a concern back in 2007 about Lilly Endowment grants that were being given to congregations and their pastors? These grants for pastors to go on sabbaticals with contemplative/emerging overtones have been as recent as 2012.

“. . . according to the Lilly Endowment document that lists the winners of the 2012 grants, pastors will:

. . . seek to regain spiritual vitality through the ancient Christian practice of walking as pilgrims in several countries—the path of Jesus in Israel, the path of the Exodus, some or all of the 500-mile Camino de Santiago (the Way of St. James) in Spain, the missionary journeys of the Apostle Paul in Greece, Turkey and Italy—and making retreats in Benedictine monasteries, walking the labyrinth at Chartres Cathedral, and living in sacred space on the Isle of Iona and other Celtic spiritual destinations.

Winners represent various denominations including Southern Baptist, Independent, Presbyterian, Reformed, Episcopal, United Methodist, Lutheran, Nazarene, Evangelical Free, and Mennonite.”

SOURCE: Question to the Editor: What’s Up with Lilly Endowment – Funding Pastoral Sabbaticals with a Contemplative Agenda
http://www.lighthousetrailsresearch.com/blog/?p=11280

Whether or not Troy Watson’s recent visit to the contemplative community of Iona was due to a grant, he writes that he’s always been drawn to environments that evoke ‘a sense of sacred space.’ In part two of Moving Thinward he says that “…for Abraham, Jacob and their descendants, Bethel was a thin place” and of Mount Sinai, “This mountain was clearly a very thin place.”

Are there such places to be found today? We know from the Bible that the holy place (the temple) was the only place on the entire earth that God dwelt after sin and death entered the word and man was separated from God. Sacrifices ceased in the Temple in Jerusalem when it was destroyed in 70 AD, but access to the Holy of Holies, where God met man, was already no longer available by then because Jesus was the final sacrifice, once and for all, and the veil to the Holy of Holies was torn.

“Having therefore, brethren, boldness to enter into the holiest by the blood of Jesus, By a new and living way, which he hath consecrated for us, through the veil, that is to say, his flesh” Hebrews 10:19,20

Because Jesus is the only way to enter God’s presence, any so called sacred space we now make or attempt to find in order to enter that realm is idolatry. There can be no places on earth where the veil between us and God’s presence is ‘thinner.’ Where ever there are efforts to find thin places where God meets man, such as the contemplatives making their sacred spiritual spaces to sense God’s presence, or the practice of the presence of God through prayer techniques – it is idolatry. The God of the universe already made a way to dwell within each believer, by the power of the Holy Spirit, whom Jesus sent after His ascension. Those who believe are now called the temple of the Holy Spirit. No place on earth is worth making the effort to find. He lives in us. Praise the Name of the LORD!

Endnote:

1] This is part one:

Moving thinward (Pt. 1)
By Troy Watson
Feb 25, 2015
Viewpoints
I’ve always been intrigued with “thin places” long before I ever heard the term “thin place.”
Since childhood, I’ve been curiously drawn to old churches, temples, cathedrals, monasteries, ruins, holy sites, natural “wonders,” remote wilderness, solitary night skies—anywhere that evokes a sense of sacred space. Part of the appeal has been the beauty and mystery I so often find in these environments, but occasionally I’ve been so overwhelmed by divine energy in these places it was as if I’d stumbled upon holy ground.
I’m not the only one. Countless people have experienced God in places like these. Sometimes in exactly the same place.
Almost two years ago, I had the privilege of visiting the Island of Iona. Iona has long been considered a thin place by people from various religious and spiritual backgrounds. . .
*More here:
http://www.canadianmennonite.org/stories/moving-thinward-pt-1

Here is part two:

Moving thinward (Pt. 2)
By Troy Watson
Mar 25, 2015
(Volume 19 Issue 7 Canadian Mennonite):
http://www.canadianmennonite.org/stories/moving-thinward-pt-2

2] Troy Watson is pastor of Avon Mennonite Church (www.avonmennonite.com/troywatson.htm) in Stratford, Ontario. He is the founder of the Quest Christian Community (www.questchristiancommunity.ca), an alternative faith community in St. Catharines, ON. (a Mennonite Church of Eastern Canada affiliated initiative) whose aim is ‘Christ Consciousness.’ Pastor Watson recently reviewed The Naked Now, a book by Franciscan priest Richard Rohr that explores the lost tradition of mystical Christianity. Of this book, Watson said “I highly recommend this book to anyone who has been reading spiritual authors such as Eckhart Tolle.” (See: http://www.mcec.ca/content/naked-now-richard-rohr)

3] Find Yourself a Thin Place this Christmas
https://mennolite.wordpress.com/2014/12/08/should-you-find-yourself-a-thin-place-this-christmas/

*Photo of Altar in The Chapel The Chapel at Iona Abbey by James Denham

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

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

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.

Merton and the Mennonite Church Down the Road

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

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

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

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

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

Thomas Merton and Buddhism

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Learning to Approach Mystery

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

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

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

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

-Len Hjalmarson
Coloring outside the box

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

Endnotes:

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

RELATED:

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

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

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

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

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

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

UPDATE:

Please see:

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

There are other major problems with his teachings:

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Is anyone concerned?

RELATED:

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

More about Starhawk here:

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

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

Also see:

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