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Archive for the ‘Mennonite Brethren Conference’ Category

It is no surprise to read about YWAM leaders in Switzerland earning their MA in a Spiritual Formation course from the University of the Nations with Renovaré at its core (see: A Public Letter From Renovare Reveals Troubling Connection with YWAM). The effects are already rapidly spreading throughout YWAM worldwide, but it was only a matter of time. Contemplative spirituality has been lurking quietly in this organization for a few years.

For example, on the YWAM Knowledge Base website is a Spiritual Growth Reading List that was compiled in 2010 as part of the ‘Savior Care’ files in ‘Missionary Care,’ which is essentially about the self care of YWAM leaders. Recommended books to read ‘no matter what’ include authors Ruth Haley Barton, Tony Jones, Peter Scazzero and ‘anything Henri Nouwen has written’. Some of the other resources recommended for Spiritual Growth on this list are:

Sacred Pathways by Gary Thomas
Come Be My Light by Mother Teresa
The Reflective Life by Ken Gire
Sacred Reading: The Ancient Art of Lectio Divina by Michael Casey
A Guide to Living the Truth: Saint Benedict’s Teaching on Humility by Micheal Casey
A Testament of Devotion by Thomas R. Kelly
Open Heart Open Mind by Thomas Merton

The Way is Made by Walking by Arthur Paul Boers
Letters from the Desert by Carlo Carretto
Strengthening the Soul of Your Leadership: Seeking God in the Crucible of Ministry by Ruth Haley Barton
The Contemplative Pastor by Eugene Peterson
Let Your Life Speak: Listening for the Voice of Vocation by Palmer Parker
The Poems of St. John of the Cross

Another way that contemplative spiritual formation may be influencing YWAM leaders is through various retreat centers. Since 2010, YWAM Canada (based in Vancouver, B.C.) has been promoting retreat centers that specialize in ecumenical contemplative spirituality (see: Retreat Centers @ http://www.ywamvancouver.org). One of the retreat centers YWAM recommends is the Mennonite Brethren affiliated Mark Centre. In fact, the founder of Youth With A Mission himself, Loren Cunningham, recently wrote the foreword in a new contemplative training resource written by the Mark Centre directors (see: What Will Ears Hear in The Mark Centre’s New Book?). The Mark Centre’s overriding goal
 and strategy is “To serve thousands who will inspire millions to embrace a lifestyle of listening to God” through contemplative spirituality (see: The Mark Centre and Silent Prayer – Strategy to Affect Millions). Will YWAM, with their worldwide influence, achieve that same goal?

There are just as many theological problems within YWAM as there are sincere young Christians with good intentions, but now a dangerous dose of contemplative spirituality has been added to the mixture. Pray for this Christian organization and others who may be leading sincere disciples of Jesus over the contemplative bridge back to Rome.

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An inter-Mennonite college that may be influential in promoting ecumenical and Roman Catholic spiritual formation is the host venue for some speakers next month who might help clear some muddy water. But will those who have been drinking from muddy streams be thirsty enough for pure water?

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. . .

More here:

Will Mennonites Attend This Conference?
http://mennolite.wordpress.com/2013/07/28/will-mennonites-attend-this-conference/

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The Canadian Baptists of Western Canada is one more denomination that is now leading their flock to drink from the muddy streams of contemplative spirituality. They just finished three Monthly Seminars on Spiritual Exercises which were taught by Rob Des Cotes, whose teaching series offered an introduction to the spiritual theology of St. John of the Cross as outlined in Rob’s three books. The seminars, The Ascent to Mount Carmel (Sat. Jan 22), The Dark Night of the Soul (Sat. Feb. 19) and The Living Flame of Love (Sat. Mar. 19), took place at Fairview Baptist church in Vancouver, B.C. Rob also led a three-day retreat at Carey Theological College related to Ignatian Spiritual Exercises, from Jan. 27-29.

St. Ignatius of Loyola

These spiritual exercises are based on the works of St. John of the Cross and St. Ignatius of Loyola. John was a Roman Catholic monk who wrote about The Dark Night of the Soul in a book on mysticism which was not derived from the Word of God. The Ignatian Spiritual Exercises were written by St. Ignatius of Loyola, founder of the Jesuits. How surprising to see that the Canadian Baptists are allowing this kind of mysticism to be taught from within, by the pastor of Fairview Baptist Church in Vancouver, B. C., Canada. (Rob Des Cotes is also a spiritual director and teaches Contemplative Traditions at Trinity Western University, and courses on spirituality at both Carey Theological College and Columbia Bible College. He also directs Imago Dei, a network of faith communities that encourages contemplative spirituality and is affiliated with the Mennonite Brethren denomination of BC.

Not only have the Canadian Baptists of Western Canada been promoting Rob Des Cotes’ seminars on contemplative spirituality, they also recommend his books about contemplative Spiritual Direction on their website. His newest book, Ultreia: Meditations for Spiritual Direction, is deeply rooted in the ancient traditions of ‘Christian’ contemplatives and mystics from the early centuries to the present.

Here Rob Des Cotes talks about the contemplative practices at his church and his newest book:

Rob Des Cotes Fairview Baptist Pt 2

Rob Des Cotes Fairview Baptist Pt 3

Another concern about this slide of the Canadian Baptists of Western Canada into the muddy contemplative stream is the Retreat Centers that they promote:

Retreat Centers
Providing space for people to meet God

Kingsfold Retreat & Renewal Centre
Website: http://www.kingsfoldretreat.com
King’s Fold Retreat and Renewal Centre: King’s Fold is an interdenominational retreat centre near Cochane, AB. Retreats for individuals or groups up to 30 people are facilitated in facilities that include a chapel, library, labyrinth and prayer walk…

Rivendell Retreat Centre
Website: http://www.rivendellretreat.org
Rivendell is located on 6.5 acres on Cates Hill on Bowen Island, near Vancouver. It is hosted by a volunteer Christian community rooted in the gospel values of Jesus and the practiced traditions of prayer, silence, simplicity and hospitality…

Stillpointe
Website: http://www.salsburycommunitysociety.ca
Stillpointe is a retreat and hermitage associated with Salsbury Community Society in Vancouver. It is available for personal retreats of up to 24 hours, as well as Group retreats and prayer gatherings. Through a weekly rhythm of individual prayer, Taize services, and neighbourhood prayer, Stillpointe reserves a space that loves God and the world…

William Carey Institute
Website: http://www.carey-edu.ca
The William Carey Institute in Vancouver on the UBC campus offers customized retreats to churches and individuals across Western Canada. These retreats may be offered on location at Canadian Baptist churches or at the Carey Centre.

It’s quite obvious from the above evidence that the Canadian Baptist churches of Western Canada are being led over the the muddy waters of contemplative spiritual formation across the bridge that leads home to Rome.

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As mysticism in the form of contemplative spirituality spreads through the church, and now even into missions, it is becoming more important by the day to examine everything. Ingrid Schlueter writes:

Like the Bereans commended in Scripture so many centuries ago, it is more crucial than ever to examine everything being taught by churches and parachurch organizations in the light of Scripture. We cannot afford to trust the spiritual well-being of our young people to leaders who speak passionately and effectively about making a difference in the world for Christ, while at the same time they engage in spiritual practices that are opposed to the teachings of God’s Word. I am sharing this letter today in hopes that parents and young adults will examine things closely, not only with this organization but with anything they come across today. Error is rampant, and Scripture-guided vigilance is the watchword.

Read the letter and the article about it here:

World Race and Adventures in Missions: An Open Letter

http://www.crosstalkblog.com/2011/01/world-race-and-adventures-in-missions-an-open-letter/

Also read about this here:

“Adventures in Missions?” Or Adventures in Pagan Spirituality?

http://solasisters.blogspot.com/2011/01/adventures-in-missions-or-adventures-in.html

NOTE: This is not an isolated occurrence. See where contemplative spirituality has entered into missions on another front, from Canada to Mexico via Lectio Divina, here:

CONTEMPLATIVE SPIRITUALITY IN MB MISSIONS
http://mbcontemplativearchive.blogspot.com/2010/10/contemplative-spirituality-in-mb.html

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Even the Mennonites have been crossing the bridge over the muddy waters of ancient Roman Catholic mysticism and contemplative spirituality. See here:

MB Herald Promotes Contemplative Centre, Again
mennolite.wordpress.com

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Another Christian organization that is currently promoting the Koinos Seminars* (besides Canadian Christianity) is the British Columbia Mennonite Brethren Conference (http://www.bcmb.org/qry/page.taf?id=148). However, rather than just the on-line Koinos lectures, these are actual seminars to attend throughout the year. The cost is $30 per seminar or $250 per series (10 seminars). These seminars allow for academic credit at the graduate or undergraduate level through Carey Theological College at an extra cost of $250 per seminar. [For online registration see here: http://www.mbccakoinos.vcmbc.org.]*

The PDF document there describes Koinos as such:

KOINOS is a program developed by Pacific Association for Theological Studies (Seattle), an association of churches and educational institutions linked together to make theological education accessible in the Pacific Northwest. Several thousand lay men and women (plus several dozen clergy) have participated in the program.

While the description at Canadian Christianity is almost identical, there are a few differences between Canadian Christianity’s seminar Koinos list and the Mennonite Brethren Koinos list. For example, the MB seminar list states that Christian Spirituality 101 (Mar 19) is taught by Marty Folsom, Director of the Pacific Association for Theological Studies (PAThS), who also teaches at Northwest University, Kirkland.

Folsom, a regular lecturer in the KOINOS program, describes himself as:

“an ecumenical evangelical who bridges between church and academy and across the theological spectrum”
-http://martyfolsom.com

The Koinos Christian Spirituality 101 taught by Folsom is described this way:

An introduction to the biblical and historical roots of Christian spirituality, the spiritual disciplines, spiritual direction, and the pursuit of personal and corporate holiness.

By offering the Koinos Seminars, is the B.C. Mennonite Brethren Conference promoting contemplative spirituality?

A further look into Koinos Seminars (http://koinosseminars.wordpress.com) reveals that individuals completing all Koinos 101 seminars receive a Certificate in Christian Foundations. This paves the way to receive a formal academic graduate credit which is available for the KOINOS Certificate program through Carey Theological College.

Here we begin to see where this bridge is leading. Very important at Carey College is something called spiritual formation, which brings participants into contact with Soul Stream

The Centre for Spiritual Formation

Working in tandem with the Centre for Spiritual Formation Carey Theological College is able to provide a two year graduate level experience in Spiritual Formation. Each year of this program begins with an eight day intensive retreat.
Learn more about our graduate-level program in the Center for Spiritual Formation: how it works, what makes the program distinct, what sort of tuition rates you’d pay, and how to apply.
Additionally, you can also learn more about SoulStream, where students who are enrolled in Carey’s Master of Pastoral Ministry program can earn credits toward their practicuum by doing work in spiritual direction, through SoulStream programming.

http://www.careycentre.com/index.php?option=com_content&task=category&sectionid=3&id=40&Itemid=98

Steve and Jeff Imbach are the founders of the very contemplative organization called SoulStream (soulstream.org), where they draw heavily from the teachings of Thomas Merton and Henri Nouwen.

Here are some of Carey’s other courses on Spiritual Formation:

Master of Arts in Spiritual Formation Courses
http://www.careycentre.com/index.php?option=com_content&task=category&sectionid=3&id=37&Itemid=100

SoulStream Spiritual Direction Practicum
http://www.careycentre.com/index.php?option=com_content&task=view&id=177&Itemid=100

March 2010: SPIR 589 The Practice of Contemplative Prayer

Carey Centre (Vancouver, BC) Media Room
Steve Imbach
http://www.careycentre.com/index.php?option=com_content&task=view&id=379&Itemid=100

SPIR 588: Introduction to Spiritual Direction
Carey Centre, South Classroom
Rev. Steve Imbach & Dr. John Kiemele
March 14-17, 2011
Spiritual Direction is the simple gift of offering to another person the gentle but tenacious encouragement to open oneself fully to God’s loving presence and to co-discern God’s action in every aspect of life. In receiving spiritual direction, we learn to open our hearts more deeply in trust and surrender. Spiritual direction provides a safe and yet challenging place where our story can be honoured as the raw material in which we learn to discern the signs of God drawing us into the intimacy of loving union and intimacy with God. Through spiritual direction we also learn to follow the Spirit’s guidance as we discover how to integrate and express God’s presence in our everyday choices.
http://www.careycentre.com/index.php?option=com_content&task=view&id=449&Itemid=100

While it sounds very nice, this spiritual direction leads to the contemplative, ecumenical side of the bridge that eventually branches into interspirituality. (See Interspirituality: The Final Outcome of Contemplative Prayer (Spiritual Formation by Ray Yungen.)

By promoting these seminars, is the B.C. Mennonite Brethren Conference leading their congregations over the Koinos bridge into the muddy swampland of contemplative spirituality?

It wouldn’t be the first time.

Also see:

Contemplative Mennonite Retreats
http://rollovermenno.wordpress.com/2008/03/28/contemplative-mennonite-retreats/

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*ENDNOTES:

*KOINOS is a program developed by Pacific Association for Theological Studies (Seattle) that was brought to metro Vancouver in 2008 by Richmond Chinese Alliance Church.
*The Mennonite Brethren Chinese Churches Association (MBCCA) is a ministry of the BC Conference of Mennonite Brethren Churches.

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Some Mennonites are now joining the compromising church by promoting “Christian yoga” in their widely read magazine called the Mennonite Brethren Herald (page 18, February 2010)…

Stretching to the New Testament

Exercise and stretching classes are increasingly popular in North American culture, but many Christians are wary about the spiritual associations of yoga. Now Winnipeggers can attend a class where stretching, breathing, and relaxation exercise are focused on God.

Three years ago, Martine Fortin, a certified fitness instructor with 20-plus years’ experience, felt God tugging on her heart to offer an alternative. She calls it Yo-God….

More here:

http://www.mbconf.ca/home/products_and_services/resources/publications/mb_herald/mb_herald_february_2010/people_and_events/stretching/

The truth about “Christian yoga” is that the spirituality of yoga is NOT Christian at all, and never can be. See here:

YOGA – Just Exercise or a Hindu Religion?
http://www.lighthousetrailsresearch.com/yoga.htm

Please watch these video clips from Yoga Uncoiled to learn the truth:

Yoga Uncoiled: From East to West Part 1

Yoga Uncoiled Part 2

To grasp a full understanding of the roots of yoga and how this eastern spiritual practice has made its way into the North American church, purchase this excellent DVD (80 minutes long) here.

[Hopefully someone will read this and send a DVD to the pastor of the church where the Yo-God classes are being held, as well as to the editor of this Christian magazine that is promoting re-packaged eastern religion.]

Note: for more current updates on the MB Herald, see Menno-lite.

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