Archive for the ‘retreats’ Category

What does the spiritual bridge from east to west have to do with anti-Israel resolutions and same sex resolutions in the Mennonite Church USA denomination?

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

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

More here:

Mennonites Walk Barton’s Bridge (to Rome and beyond)

Read Full Post »

Father Thomas Ryan is a catholic priest who directs the North American Office for Ecumenical and Interfaith Relations in Washington DC for his community, the Paulist Fathers.[1] He also coordinates ecumenical and inter-religious relations for the paulist community in Canada. A certified Kripalu yoga teacher, one of the sacred practices he teaches is YOGA PRAYER: AN EMBODIED CHRISTIAN PRACTICE.[2] Last fall Fr Thomas Ryan wrote several guest blogs for ‘Shalem Institute’s Living Contemplatively’[3].

This week Father Thomas Ryan will be speaking with Dr. Gordon Smith, President of Ambrose University College and Seminary, in Calgary, Alberta (the seminary of Christian and Missionary Alliance and The Church of the Nazarene). Together they will be leading “Catholics and Evangelicals in God’s Mission—Together,” which is an opportunity to…

“…come together to talk about Christian unity and mission. Church unity is a global issue that matters: Jesus prayed in the closing hours of his life for the unity of his followers, and the church’s vocation is to be a sign in our world of God’s reconciling power. The truth is that Evangelicals and Catholics share much more in common than not.”[4]

This comes as no surprise to those who have been watching the muddy streams of religion converge. Indeed, a picture says a thousand words.[5]


[1] http://www.kripalu.org/presenter/V0000213/fr_thomas_ryan
[2] http://www.paulistproductions.org/movies-yoga-prayer.html
[3] http://livingcontemplatively.org/tag/fr-thomas-ryan/
[4] http://ambrose.edu/global-impact-week
[5] http://www.lighthousetrailsresearch.com/blog/?p=14806



C&MA and Ambrose: Welcoming Spiritually Muddy Theology

Are Ambrose Lecturers Leading Students into Muddy Waters?

Christian & Missionary Alliance Students Taught to Listen to God – Contemplative Style


Evangelicals and Catholics Together – Part 1
(December 1994 – Volume 1, Issue 2)
Was the Reformation a mistake, or do fundamental points of doctrine still separate the Roman Catholic Church from us?
Read Parts 1-3 here:

Evangelicals & Catholics: The Next Generation?
McMahon, T.A.

Read Full Post »

In a Letter to the Editor: Saddened by Christian & Missionary Alliance and Ambrose University Continuing Plunge into Contemplative at the Lighthouse Blog, we read that there are more winds of doctrine blowing through the Canadian Christian & Missionary Alliance doors. One of the concerns mentioned in the letter is in regards to a former teacher once let go for theological differences who appears to be apologetically welcomed back to working with the C&MA denomination. Have black and white issues that were once doctrinally weighed and defended by the Word of God become such a muddy blend that they are now okay?

The person who the C&MA is now looking forward to working with again is Charles W. Nienkirchen, Professor of Christian History and Spirituality at Ambrose University College in Calgary, Alberta. His bio (here) says that Neinkirchen has also been a Scholar in Residence at Tantur Ecumenical Institute(tantur.org) in Jerusalem, also known as the Catholic Church of The Holy Land (catholicchurch-holyland.com/?p=789). He’s also been a Visiting Professor in Residence at another ecumenical seminary called Tamil Nadu Theological Seminary in South India. Therefore it is no surprise that his teaching and ministry focuses on the subject of renewal and spirituality through ecumenical retreat courses and conferences.

In 2006 Nienkirchen designed a travel study program called ‘Down Ancient Paths’ Travel Study Program (www.downancientpaths.com) which explores the oldest Christian traditions in the world. According to Tyndale, here, Nienkirchen’s areas of specialization are “classical spiritual disciplines, dreams, spiritual direction, renewal movements, ancient Christian traditions, and Christian-Muslim relations.” During his exploration in ecumenicalism and spirituality, Nienkirchen has also attended a School for Spiritual Directors at a Benedictine Abbey to learn more about prayer and spiritual renewal, and now serves on the Faculty of the Pecos Benedictine School for Spiritual Directors near Santa Fe, New Mexico (www.pecosmonastery.org).

Nienkirchen was also a signator on a document by the late Robert Webber called The Call (www.ancientfutureworship.com/afw_wkshps.html), a movement that embraces Ancient-Future worship style and practices based on ecumenism and unity with other faiths. (You can read quite a bit about this here: exnazarene.wordpress.com/2009/03/)

This has all begun to bear fruit which we are now seeing in the C&MA, as revealed last spring when students at their university (Ambrose) were taught to listen to God, contemplative style:

April 24, 2013 | Last fall during the annual Fall Spiritual Emphasis Days, students at Ambrose University College of the Christian & Missionary Alliance in Calgary, Alberta (Canada), were taught contemplative spirituality with the theme of Listening to God. Ambrose alumnus Steve Kerr, pastor of Gateway Church in Caledonia, Ontario (a C&MA church) taught sessions about Listening to God. Other contemplative workshops were facilitated by Ambrose staff and faculty. Students were invited to participate in a diverse array of workshops, like “Centering Prayer: A Pathway to Experiencing God’s Presence,” taught by Dr. Miriam Charter. Students learned that “Centering Prayer is a gift to us from the Desert Fathers who sought a way to deepen their relationship with the living Christ. It is “listening” prayer that may become for the serious pilgrim a pathway for receiving and experiencing the gift of God’s Presence.”
Additional workshops included “Hear the Divine Voice…Make the Right Choice,” by Dr. Charles Nienkirchen, “Hearing God through Nature: A Walk Through the Ambrose Aspen Stand,” by Wally Rude, “Making (Some) Sense of the Pain: Hearing God in Times of Difficulty and Suffering,” by Dr. Gordon Smith, “Lectio Divina” (Divine Reading) with Kevin Cawthra, “Going Global? A Conversation about Discerning God’s call to Serve Internationally,” and “Hearing the Voice of Jesus through Imaging,” with Joy Ulrich.

Source – To Hear, To Contemplate, To Act ambrose.edu/news_and_events/hear-contemplate-act

Incidentally, Ambrose University College Seminary (in Canada) is a merger of the Christian & Missionary Alliance with The Church of the Nazarene. Ambrose’s new president Gordon T. Smith (previously Vice President and Dean of Regent College), has written several books. In The Voice of Jesus, Smith’s ideas are built on Roman Catholic spiritual traditions of John of the Cross, Teresa of Avila, and Ignatius of Loyola. Alone With The Lord is a self guided prayer plan adapted from The Spiritual Exercises of St Ignatius of Loyola, founder of the Jesuits.

A few years ago, Charles Nienkirchen led a Lent retreat in Calgary, Alberta.

Westside King’s Church, Calgary, AB
Lent Prayer Retreat
Lent 2010 begins February 17 and concludes April 3. This year we invite you to deepen your experience of this holy season by joining us in spiritual retreat. Dr. Charles Nienkirchen will lead us in an exploration of the prayer journey of Jesus as it is rooted in the events and emotions of his earthly life. Specific attention will be given to the often neglected ‘minor prayers’ of Jesus which reveal the intimate depths of his humanity. Talks, guided prayers, and conversations will form the essence of these very special days.

One of his media appearances in regards to Lent was an interview, which you can learn about or watch at the following links:

100 Huntley Street Airs Interview with Charles Nienkirchen ambrose.edu/content/100-huntley-street-airs-interview-charles-nienkirchen

The Way Of The Cross
April 20, 2011

The Way Of The Cross
100 Huntley (6:30)
youtube (click HERE to watch)

In conclusion, the reader who wrote Lighthouse Trails Research has every right to be concerned. The C&MA certainly is crossing the bridge over the spiritually and theologically muddy waters of ecumenism and interfaith unity. There are many reasons, many ways, many winds, some new and some old. This is only one. The troubling question is, how many undiscerning followers will they take with them? Those who are sending students to Ambrose might do well to take heed.


Ambrose University College hires Jesuit-educated contemplative spirituality proponent as its new president http://suspiciousberean.blogspot.ca/2012/05/ambrose-university-college-hires-jesuit.html

Related posts on this blog:

Christian & Missionary Alliance Students Taught to Listen to God – Contemplative Style https://muddystreams.wordpress.com/2013/04/24/christian-missionary-alliance-students-taught-to-listen-to-god-contemplative-style/

Yoga Class at Christian & Missionary Alliance Church https://muddystreams.wordpress.com/2012/08/10/yoga-class-at-christian-missionary-alliance-church/

Christian & Missionary Alliance Workers will soon be learning Ancient Spiritual Disciplines https://muddystreams.wordpress.com/2009/12/02/christian-missionary-alliance-workers-will-soon-be-learning-ancient-spiritual-disciplines/

Peter Scazzero’s Contemplative Bridge Crossing to Canada https://muddystreams.wordpress.com/2013/02/12/peter-scazzeros-contemplative-bridge-coming-to-canada/

Are Ambrose Lecturers Leading Students into Muddy Waters? https://muddystreams.wordpress.com/2013/02/06/are-ambrose-lecturers-leading-students-into-muddy-waters/

Christian Missionary Alliance and Focus on the Family Canada leading Christians across the Contemplative Bridge https://muddystreams.wordpress.com/2010/01/04/christian-missionary-alliance-and-focus-on-the-family-canada-leading-christians-across-the-contemplative-bridge/


***NEW! Also read a well written review on a book by a Christian & Missionary Alliance pastor who has chosen the contemplative pathway:

Reimer Loses His Way in “Pathways to the King:” A Review

Dr. Rob Reimer, pastor of the Christian & Missionary Alliance South Shore Community Church, adjunct professor at the Alliance Theological Seminary, and speaker at various conferences has authored a book: Pathways to the King: Living a Life of Spiritual Renewal and Power. To look inside is to learn how Reimer loses his way straying onto contemplative and kingdom now roads as he strives to experience, and expand God’s kingdom on earth…

*Click here to read more:


Read Full Post »

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…

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.

Read Full Post »

Last fall the BBC began a series called ‘The Big Silence.‘ They invited five ordinary people to volunteer to understand just why silence is so elusive in modern-day society. The group spent a weekend at Worth Abbey, then eight days in silence at St Beunos, a Jesuit Retreat centre in North Wales. Their progress into silence and how it affected them afterwards made a fascinating documentary, with some very sad results.

The series, which can now be watched on youtube, begins by explaining that many of the world’s religions believe that there is one path that leads to God and to the very center of who we are – SILENCE. This is supposedly where we get to know our true self, in the deep Silence which has been at the core of the Catholic mystical traditions for centuries.

Watch here:

The Big Silence – Part 1 of 12

The remaining parts can be found here on youtube.

After the initial first week of struggling with loneliness, burdensome fears, anger, great frustration, rebellion, bad dreams, doubts, dreariness, oppression, depression, and fighting the Silence and their feelings of going mad, they all seemed to have a breakthrough on Day 7. This is when they were all taught to do an imagination exercise (visualization) where they were taught to place themselves in a Bible story. This resulted in all of them having ‘experiences’ of inner shifts and an awareness of ‘self’ as they allowed their barriers to lift and emotions to emerge, moving from the known to the unknown. One woman heard a female voice say, “You are not alone.” One man, the former skeptic, had a conversation with Jesus.

The people in the documentary all seemed very nice, and the sad part is that in the end, none of these experiences were brought on by, nor did they lead to, a true knowledge of Jesus Christ and salvation through the gospel. They strolled through the beautiful grounds of the monastery, walked the labyrinth, spent time in silence in the chapel, met daily with a spiritual director, read the Bible, and even talked to God, but were not at any point in their spiritual anguish offered solid answers or hope for their searching. Their voids were simply filled by finding the Silence and their true selves. Eventually, they all claimed to have arrived at peace and felt the love. Of what? The feeling of well being and love from everybody else in the Silence. It was “about inviting our souls to get in touch with us.” The conclusion and hope was that silence is the gateway to the soul, and that in the experience of silence they will have discovered things of immense value to take back in their lives. The initiator of this project, a very nice Benedictine monk, ended the documentary by saying that “the Silence will sustain them into the cloud of unknowing.”

Is this what is at the very heart of the big Silence – ourselves? Is this what so many Christian churches are integrating into their teaching today? If all that is found in this Silence is ourselves, how can it lead to God? Jesus said that the only way to God was through Him – not the big Silence.

“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

For Christians who are following the ways of the Benedictine monks and doing the exercises of St. Ignatius of Loyola, and believing that this will connect them with the presence of God, this documentary is a real eye opener. Participating in contemplative silent retreats, reading the writings of Roman Catholic mystics, and practicing the big Silence will give you an experience. But what if, instead of being led closer to God, you are being led by your spiritual director over the contemplative bridge to the Roman Catholic church and her doctrines?

To demonstrate this possibility, as follow up, the Jesuits have recommended a website on the heels of this documentary called Growing Into Silence (www.growingintosilence.com). On this website you will find more Jesuit retreat centres listed as well as prayer suggestions, such as Pray-as-you-go, “short breathing and body exercises which can be a useful preparation for prayer, helping you to develop the stillness, focus and attentiveness that you need,” with further advice on stillness and breathing exercises in a booklet. Those who find their way to this website and click on the ‘Christianity – Find Out More About It’ tab will be led to the Roman Catholic church.

But surprisingly, the top third link that comes up on this Jesuit site about the silence is…ALPHA!

The Alpha course (http://uk.alpha.org) is designed primarily for people who aren’t churchgoers: each course is open to anyone….Alpha in a Catholic context serves as a refresher course for practicing Catholics or for those who have lapsed in their faith and want to clarify their thoughts about belief. It is run in thousands of Catholic parishes around the world, hosted either by the parish priest or a lay member of the parish. http://uk.alpha.org/catholics


On the same Growing Into Silence page of recommendations, under Alpha, is Thinkingfaith.org, produced by Jesuit Media Initiatives. Next, listed below these Catholic links are the seven main Christian denominations in Britain.

It looks like a lot of people who watched this documentary may be led over the bridge home to Rome, through The Big Silence – and Alpha. Incredibly, this is the same silence that is being offered to Christians worldwide, as the different streams of spirituality converge.

For the truth, please see:

The Altered State of Silence – Promoted by Both New Agers and Christian Leaders

Different than finding a quiet place away from noise and distractions, the silence is referring to a stillness of the mind.

Alpha: Another Road To Rome?
by Roger Oakland


By Marcia Montenegro

Read Full Post »

What message should the following give to all those evangelical pastors and church leaders who are going to retreat centers to learn contemplative spirituality and cross the ecumenical bridge home to Rome?

Here we see that the Pope also goes to retreats to practice these very same spiritual exercises…

Pope Having “Profound Experience” at Retreat

Spiritual Exercises Focusing on Divine Call

VATICAN CITY, FEB. 26, 2010 (Zenit.org).- Benedict XVI’s spiritual exercises this week have been a “profound experience” for the Pope, says a Vatican spokesman.

Father David Gutiérrez, director of Vatican Radio’s Spanish programs, told ZENIT that “once again, the Pontiff gives the faithful the example of the attitude one must have in this particular time of prayer, reflection and conversion.”

The Holy Father and members of the Curia will complete spiritual exercises Saturday, which are being preached by Salesian Father Enrico Dal Covolo.

Each day of the week constituted a specific framework from which to look at the vocation to the priesthood, in line with the Year for Priests convoked by Benedict XVI.

Monday was a day of “listening,” Father Gutiérrez explained, centered on the “lectio divina” of a well-known biblical passage as paradigm of the vocational calling, God’s calling to the prophet Samuel (1 Kings 19:1-21)….

More here:


Also see:

“What Every Catholic Should Know” by Mike Gendron

Bridges To Rome Archive

Read Full Post »

The pastors at Radicalis are “part of a new movement that goes back to the roots of original Christianity” says Rick Warren here:

Which roots?

This week, one of Warren’s speakers, Peter Scazzero, most likely took these pastors back to the roots of mysticism in the form of ancient Roman Catholic rituals and spiritual disciplines.

Watch at the 4 minute mark here:

Scazzero speaks about how his retreating with the trappist monks, chanting, and having silence in his cell at the monastery helps him see his evangelical tradition in a healthy light, because he can learn from other people.

According to Rick Warren, this is part of the new movement that goes back to the “roots” of Christianity?

Once again, discernment has been tossed into the river.


The Trappist Bridge to Rome

Read Full Post »

Older Posts »