Okay, okay…I’ll have to set this up a bit. That question is very confusing.
For starters, I really like Northview Community Church in Abbotsford.
I have many friends who go, or have gone, there. A lot of good stuff has come from Northview, and I’ve been an enjoyer of their Roaring Twenties C&C group in years past (and by the name, some will know just how long ago that was…). I appreciate that they’ve tried to take an educated position on the volatile issue of women in ministry. I appreciate that they’re attempting to train up their men. I love that they have a bookstore and are trying to cultivate a love of reading good books in their church. I love that they have a pastor who is an expositor, and I’m very pleased at the positive stuff going on at Northview.
I’m theologically in some slightly different categories than Northview, but have little of serious significance to complain about regarding Northview MB Church.
The way I understand things is that Northview has an excellent women’s ministry, which includes things like a spa night for women with special needs kids, a great mother’s mentoring program, a prayer ministry, a sexual discipleship program (?!? Confused ?!?), a conference ministry, and many other various components. From what I can gather, it seems that the women’s main weekly teaching/discipleship component of their ministry is called Oasis, which comes in a morning and evening flavour, depending on schedules.
In the morning Oasis program, here is their fall program description.
Now, at the risk of never being welcome in the MB Conference anywhere, I have to admit that I was actually surprised when I learned about this from Menno-Lite, because in the morning Oasis program, Northview is teaching through an introduction to Listening Prayer by Lorrie Martin entitled “Invited”. Lorrie is a Spiritual Director at the Mark Centre in Abbotsford, which is basically a spiritual retreat centre (read – “Haven for people who though Keith Green was a better theologian than musician…”). She’s a disciple and co-worker of Brad Jersak, who I’ve already written a bunch about.
In the PDF announcing the fall plan for Oasis, there’s the following blurb:
OASIS CLASSES – SEPTEMBER TO DECEMBER 2010
LISTENING PRAYER – Cost $22 for Book Invited by Lorie Martin
Listening prayer is about communing with God, hearing the voice of the One who loves us, saved us and who
desires to come alongside us and speak in to every aspect of our lives.
John 10:2-5, 14-15 says…….
The man who enters by the gate is the shepherd of his sheep. The watchman opens the gate for him, and the
sheep listen to his voice. He calls his sheep by name and leads them out. When he has brough
he goes on ahead of them, and his sheep follow because they know his voice. But they will never follow a
stranger; in fact, they will run away from him because they do not recognise a stranger’s voice
Brad Jersak in his book Can you hear me says of this scripture: “The Lord is making a point here about his voice: He has one. He uses it. He speaks. His sheep – those who have ears to listen – hear it, know it and follow it.”
The Lord speaks to us in many ways – in quietness, in community, in nature, in scripture, a sermon, in worship, through a friend to name but a few. Whether you are new to listening prayer or a “ seasoned listener” join us as we are invited and guided by Lorie Martin using her wonderful book of prayer exercises for solitude and community where we will learn together to hear the voice of the Lord and apply it to our lives.
Now, I’ve written a bit on Brad Jersak and on the whole concept of Listening Prayer. Listening Prayer is kinda like a Butterfly – The name has nothing to do with what it really is. Butterflies are not houseflies covered in butter; they’re neither butter, nor flies.
Listening Prayer involves neither listening to God, nor prayer. Listening Prayer is a synonym for Prophecy, and not the kind of prophecy modeled in the Old or New Testaments. It’s not even the kind of prophecy espoused by Wayne Grudem. It’s the kind of forbidden “prophecy” performed by the Witch of Endor.
WHAT? Well, I’m serious. Consider the following:
Listening Prayer teaches someone to hear voices, receive impressions in their imagination, read events in life, and basically see anything and everything as God speaking propositional communication to you and about you. All you have to do is learn to “listen”. I’ve previously walked through all of Brad Jersak’s exegetical argument and shown that his entire argument from scripture isn’t even a house of cards; it’s a house of complete smoke and mirrors in which Jersak completely twists every single one of his main supporting biblical texts. So in the end, if the major exegetical tenets of Brad Jersak’s teaching (and consequently the teaching of Lorie Martin, Ted Enns, or anyone else who pedals his ideas) are unbiblical (read “claiming that the Bible says something it actually does not”), then the whole biblical basis for the practice is completely nonexistent. Secondly, if the practice is connecting with the spiritual realm (which it may not be – see Ez. 13:12 & 17), then Listening Prayer would be a form of divination/channeling that is covered up in Christian rhetoric.
I mean, if there is true propositional revelation coming from somewhere, and it’s not coming from God, then one has only one other option; the demonic realm. So, I submit that if someone gains propositional information from listening prayer, then listening prayer is actually a form of divination.
I.E. it’s something bad dressed up to look like something good.
It seems that by allowing false doctrine to be taught to the wives and daughters under their vigilant watch, the men leading at Northview are allowing their women to be lead into false doctrine.
Now, I understand that some would respond “But you cannot expect us to filter through every book that is used for teaching or reading in our church! We’d have to sort through, like hundreds of books a year!” I get that. I know that it’s difficult to keep tabs on all the various unbiblical ideas peddled in the church, and all the people who are theological 2nd and 3rd cousins to those who spread those unbiblical ideas. It takes actual work to be a proper filter to that much content that tries to come into your church.
None the less, does not the scripture clearly address the elders of the church, saying:
1. “Watch your life and doctrine closely. Persevere in them, because if you do, you will save both yourself and your hearers.” – 1 Tim. 4:16.
2. An elder “must hold firmly to the trustworthy message as it has been taught, so that he can encourage others by sound doctrine and refute those who oppose it.” – Titus 1:9.
“For there are many rebellious people, mere talkers and deceivers, especially those of the circumcision group. They must be silenced, because they are ruining whole households by teaching things they ought not to teach—and that for the sake of dishonest gain. Even one of their own prophets has said, “Cretans are always liars, evil brutes, lazy gluttons.” This testimony is true. Therefore, rebuke them sharply, so that they will be sound in the faith and will pay no attention to Jewish myths or to the commands of those who reject the truth.” – Titus 1:10-14.
One of the main jobs of the elders in the church is the proclamation of the truth of God’s word and inversely, the refutation of the twisting of God’s word. That’s part of being an elder, and it’s not a job that many men would choose if they had the choice.
The wives and daughters in the church should be protected from this garbage, not left to “sort through it” on their own, or simply be deceived when their eldership/husbands passively sit by and do nothing. Every church, and especially the big ones, needs men who are competent to teach, but also able to examine what’s coming into the church and willing to take the heat when they have to teach against things that people like.
So the question goes out to Northview MB Church:
“Where are your men?”
Get up brothers. It’s time to start fulfilling your roles and protect the women in your house from false doctrine.
Northview has not usually been a haven for false doctrine, and it shouldn’t be now.
Until Next Time,
Lyndon “The Armchair Theologian” Unger
P.S. – I know I’m neither in leadership nor membership at Northview, and I’m in no authoritative position to say anything about what they do. I fully agree. I do have the biblical commission to warn a brother in the Lord about something dangerous in their life though, and I’m only trying to fulfill the principle of Ezekiel 3:16-21 and 1 Timothy 1:6, and warn my brothers about sin/false doctrine. Nobody in Northview has any reason to listen to a thing I say outside of whether or not I make a case upon the authoritative scriptures. I believe that my other writing on the topic shows that Listening Prayer and the teaching of Brad Jersak is unbiblical and should be avoided by discerning Christians. So, I speak up about something that I know is spiritually dangerous, and I do so for the sake of the brothers and sisters in the Lord at Northview in the only avenue I have at my disposal; this blog.