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HOLY TRINITY CHURCH LEICESTER: MONASTICISM - MIKE BREEN AND THE ORDER OF MISSION HERESY
The Order of Mission (TOM) claims to be a global community of pioneering leaders who follow Jesus. TOM is inspired by monastic movements of previous eras. Before even beginning to examine some the finer details of this model, it has to be said that monasticism is not sanctioned as an institution in the Bible.
TOM is described as a Protestant, Charismatic and Evangelical religious order with its founder Mike Breen as its Senior Guardian. Breen was previous Senior Rector of St. Thomas' Church, Crookes, Sheffield, an Anglican-Baptist Local Ecumenical Partnership. Since 2008 Breen has lived at Pawleys Island, South Carolina, where he is the leader of 3D Ministries. (wikipedia.org)
TOM is a kind of pick and mix of Monasticism, Mission Shaped Communities (devised by Mark Stibbe) and an extension of the ‘Seeker Friendly’ model of Rick Warren. In fact just to confuse everyone Breen’s Missional Communities are also called Clusters, Go Communities, Mid-Sized Communities and Mission Shaped Communities (MSCs) and his eight geometric LifeShapes are called 3DM. There are also Discipleship Huddles, which are groups of 4-10 leaders who are discipled and held accountable by their Huddle leader. TOM uses supposed buzzwords and expressions such as ‘LifeShapes’ ‘attractional’, ‘missional’ ‘shared dna’ ‘hubs’ as well as Roman Catholic Monastic terminology such as ‘order’ ‘monasticism’ ‘rule’ ‘vows’ ‘guardian’ ‘chapter’ etc.
It cannot be said that monastic movements were a positive influence upon Christianity or that monastics were evangelists in the true sense of the word. The ‘fruit’ of fourth century monasticism was Gnosticism and heresies such as Pelagianism, encratism, quietism etc. Furthermore, it cannot be said that monastics spearheaded the renewal of the church and transformation of society as the TOM website asserts. Withdrawal from the world is synonymous with monasticism, and whilst Christians should not love the world (1 John 2/15-17), they are never to withdraw from it for considerable periods of time.We are in the world, but not of it:
I do not ask that you take them out of the world, but that you keep them from the evil one. (John 17/15)
The goal of monasticism was self-abnegation and asceticism, with practices such as flagellation, poverty, monastic orders, celibacy etc. There is no value in these sorts of things according to the Apostle Paul: If with Christ you died to the elemental spirits of the world, why, as if you were still alive in the world, do you submit to regulations— “Do not handle, Do not taste, Do not touch” (referring to things that all perish as they are used)—according to human precepts and teachings? These have indeed an appearance of wisdom in promoting self-made religion and asceticism and severity to the body, but they are of no value in stopping the indulgence of the flesh. (Colossians 2/23)
The Roman church is responsible for a plethora of anti-biblical doctrines – the sacraments (Baptism, Confirmation, the Eucharist or Mass (transubstantiation), Penance (confession), Matrimony, Anointing the Sick, Holy Orders (ordination of a priest)). Also - Mary worship, purgatory, necromancy, tradition placed above the Word of God, papal infallibility etc. Luther and the Protestants belief in sola scriptura was a tremendous breakthrough against all of the above as well as monastic pseudo spirituality. It is difficult to see why a true Christian would take the backward step of modelling anything at all based on Roman Catholic monasticism.
A little leaven [teaching] leavens the whole lump.(Galatians 5/9)
A healthy tree cannot bear bad fruit, nor can a diseased tree bear good fruit. (Matthew 7/18)
Mike Breen’s casual definition of sin: 'sin is simply failing to reflect God’s glory.' authorstream.com
thefreedictionary.com defines sin as follows:
a. Deliberate disobedience to the known will of God.
b. A condition of estrangement from God resulting from such disobedience.
3. Something regarded as being shameful, deplorable, or utterly wrong.
intr.v. sinned, sin·ning, sins
1. To violate a religious or moral law.
2. To commit an offence or violation.
OATHS, VOWS, PLEDGES AND COVENANTS
Monastics were under meticulous conformity to religious vows and were subject to a fixed rule. However the Bible explicitly and strictly forbids oaths, vows and pledges of any kind:
“Again you have heard that it was said to those of old, ‘You shall not swear falsely, but shall perform to the Lord what you have sworn.’ But I say to you, Do not take an oath at all, either by heaven, for it is the throne of God, or by the earth, for it is his footstool, or by Jerusalem, for it is the city of the great King. And do not take an oath by your head, for you cannot make one hair white or black. Let what you say be simply ‘Yes’ or ‘No’; anything more than this comes from evil.” (Matthew 5/33-37)
This is very strong language: ‘is of evil’ Greek - ponērós (an adjective which is also used substantively, derived from 4192 /pónos, "pain, laborious trouble") – properly, pain-ridden, emphasizing the inevitable agonies (misery) that always go with evil. from poneó (to toil).toilsome, bad….. from the evil one. (http://biblelexicon.org)
But above all, my brothers, do not swear, either by heaven or by earth or by any other oath, but let your “yes” be yes and your “no” be no, so that you may not fall under condemnation. (James 5:12)
James reiterates Jesus Christ’s teaching on the Sermon on the Mount concerning the Pharisaic practice of taking oaths. The prefix ‘above all’ emphasises that it is of first importance not to take oaths or vows. In fact it is vital not to swear in order to ensure integrity of speech without having to rely on oaths. Taking oaths is a very serious thing to the Lord. All oaths are binding, solemn and inflexible; they demand complete faithfulness. If we should take a vow that for some reason we are unable or unwilling to comply with at a later date then we may come under condemnation. Swearing an oath or vow implies that we do things in our own strength rather than by faith, it is a reliance on works of the flesh and a denial of grace. We take the Lord’s name in vain by swearing an oath because by doing so we dishonour Him.
The definition of oath is from the Greek herkos (a fence; perhaps akin to horion); a limit, i.e. (sacred) restraint (specially, an oath) http://biblesuite.com An oath/vow/pledge/covenant is a solemn attestation of the truth or inviolability of one’s words. An oath is a solemn pledge to affirm something said as absolutely true. An oath is a definitive and binding confirmation of the spoken word and invalidates any contradiction of the statement made. (http://preceptaustin.org)
Taking vows puts unnecessary burdens upon individuals which God does not want them to carry. The story of Jephthah illustrates the foolishness of making a vow without thinking about the possible consequences on our own lives and the lives of others (Judges 11/29-40). Taking religious vows is actually quite an arrogant thing to do because it says ‘I am really spiritual and part of this special elite group’. The simplicity that is Christ (2 Corinthians 11/3) should be enough without adding other things to trip us up at a later date.
Monasticism defined is a discipline of life encapsulated in a vow to obey a rule. In the TOM model, the stated rule is ‘LifeShapes’:
We are a people who have committed ourselves to the vows of simplicity, purity and accountability. We take ‘LifeShapes’ as our rule or pattern of life and seek to journey together, encouraging and challenging each other, as we follow God’s call on our lives. (missionorder.org)
Shared DNA = vows, rule and pattern of life, kingdom and covenant and covenant community.
TOM Permanent Covenant:
In the name of the Father,
and of the Son,
and of the Holy Spirit,
I solemnly promise before God
to devote myself
to a life of simplicity, purity
as a permanent member of
The Order of Mission.
I vow before God and in the presence of the Senior Guardian
and the members of the Order,
to live and work according to its Rule.
I ask for the grace of Almighty God
and the prayers of all those present.
Membership of TOM involves relationship with and committed to journeying with others who are part of the community already. ‘TOM life’ ‘TOM community’ ‘covenant community’ are all emphasised. LifeShapes is a set of practical tools for missionary living grounded in biblical insights that enables Order members to live the TOM way……... (missionorder.org)
Jesus Christ said: I am the way, and the truth, and the life;no one comes to the Father but through Me. (John 14/6) The New Testament speaks only in terms of life in and through Jesus Christ (2 Corinthians 4/10; Romans 5/21, 6/23; 2 Timothy 1/1 etc.)
Believers are already in the New Covenant and consequently in covenant with each other through the shed blood of the Lord Jesus Christ. The grace of the New Covenant, the in-dwelling of the Holy Spirit, and faith are sufficient. Further covenants are not only superfluous; they are heretical and very dangerous putting believers into bondage through a legalistic usurpation of the grace of the New Covenant:
Let me ask you only this: Did you receive the Spirit by works of the law or by hearing with faith? Are you so foolish? Having begun by the Spirit, are you now being perfected by the flesh? Did you suffer so many things in vain—if indeed it was in vain? Does he who supplies the Spirit to you and works miracles among you do so by works of the law, or by hearing with faith—(Galatians 2/3-5)
Are you so foolish? Having begun by the Spirit, are you now being perfected by the flesh? (Galatians 3/3)
Further covenants do not ensure faithfulness; rather they are binding and hold believers in spiritual pride and bondage. Once a further covenant is entered into, an instant division is created between those Christians who are in the covenant and those who are not. For the same reason that we should not take oaths and vows we should not enter into further covenants. Accountability is not connected to making covenants in Scripture; rather accountability is intimately linked to our relationship with Jesus Christ and others as we seek to follow Him and produce the fruit of the Spirit. No further covenant can produce this. Improper covenants are limiting, constricting and prevent people from being led by the Holy Spirit into freedom. Further covenants are entirely the opposite of God’s will for a believer’s life.
Basically oaths vows pledges and covenants try to achieve something which only the Holy Spirit can produce in a believers life i.e. faithfulness, accountability etc. If you walk in the Spirit you will do these things……. But I say, walk by the Spirit, and you will not gratify the desires of the flesh. (Galatians 5/16)
I have not found one verse of scripture on the TOM website, just jargon and unbiblical but religious sounding concepts. This is actually typical of cultish groups where new members have to learn unfamiliar terminology in order to assimilate and understand what is being said. This new language gradually alienates members from their old associations and they find progressively that they can only relate to and rely on other members of the cult. As they get more and more deeply involved, their isolation from the world outside the cult is secured.
Monasticism is characterised by rules (Regula), for instance the monastic rules of poverty, chastity, and obedience. In this instance the rules are all the principles that TOM encompasses. Do we really need a Rule or a set of principles in order to follow Christ? The Bible speaks for itself:
“You shall love the Lord your God with all your heart and with all your soul and with all your mind. This is the great and first commandment. And a second is like it: You shall love your neighbour as yourself. On these two commandments depend all the Law and the Prophets.” (Matthew 22/37-40)
The word rule only appears once in the Bible when Paul came against the Judaisers who were trying to impose the Law of Moses onto believers and insisting upon circumcision:
For neither circumcision counts for anything, nor uncircumcision, but a new creation. And as for all who walk by this rule, peace and mercy be upon them, and upon the Israel of God. (Galatians 6/15-16)
Paul told the Galatians: all who rely on works of the law are under a curse. (Galatian 3/10) It logically follows that anyone who relies on a rule and takes an oath or a vow is under a curse.
TOM claims to distill the teachings and principles of the Bible and Jesus. (missionorder.org) The Bible itself gives us many principles to live by. Do we really need alien language and symbols to distill the plain teaching of Christ and the apostles? Rules imprison rather than liberate:
“All things are lawful for me,” but not all things are helpful. “All things are lawful for me,” but I will not be enslaved by anything. (1 Corinthians 6/12)
But I say, walk by the Spirit, and you will not gratify the desires of the flesh. (Galatians 5/16)
"And do not be conformed to this world, but be transformed by the renewing of your mind, that you may prove what is that good and acceptable and perfect will of God." (Romans 12:2)
Geometry of Satan Invocation
Since LifeShapes are the Rule of TOM and their Discipleship Strategy, I will take a brief look at these. There are eight geometric shapes which are used as: visual guideposts to achieving a more passionate spiritual journey. These LifeShapes provide a simple but powerful way to help people learn and to remember the principles of the Jesus-driven life. The LifeShapes comprise of the circle, semi-circle, triangle, square, pentagon, hexagon, heptagon and octagon. Within these eight LifeShapes are yet more concepts and breakdown of what they are. Perhaps Breen got the idea from the eightfold path of Buddhism, or even the Satanist eightfold path associated with Astoreth (Crowned Prince of Hell). Eight (the octagon) is a secret code for the Order of the Templars, it has strong association with the Swiss Templar Nazis and the swastika.
Followers will be expected to engage themselves in a circle of repentance/faith, pattern their lives into a semicircle of rest/work, form a triangle of relationships and use a square of leadership tools, etc. (missionorder.org)
Mike Breen uses the term "Jesus-driven" in a similar way that Rick Warren uses the term "purpose driven". Christians are not "driven", they are "led' by the Holy Spirit. (Matthew 4/1, 6/13; Psalm 23/2, 25/5 etc.) We read in the Bible that being "driven" is a demonic activity. The demon possessed man in the region of Gerasenes was demonically "driven" (Luke 8/29). In fact the book A Passionate Life which Breen co-authored is said to build upon Rick Warren's The Purpose-Driven Life.
This method of visual teaching was not used by Jesus Christ or the apostles. Jesus Christ primarily used verbal communication in the form of teaching and parables taken from every day ordinary familiar settings which people would have readily understood. The apostles simply explained Christ’s teachings as they were led by the Holy Spirit. The idea that geometric shapes are associated with or represent certain things is quite unfamiliar to Christianity and I would say frankly that this is very dangerous. In Freemasonry: ….. all Masonry rests upon Geometry, and in all its lore Geometry is the way to God.” http://watch.pair.com/TR-1-textus-receptus.html The occult ‘sacred geometry’ of the monastic Templar Order was handed down to the Freemasons. Within witchcraft and Satanism geometric shapes play a central part in the invocation of demons. Geometric shapes and the blending of geometric shapes are a focal point for demons to enter in occult rituals. I find it disturbing that Breen has disguised words and numbers most commonly associated with witchcraft. For instance the hexagon fits perfectly inside the six sided star - the hexagram (the most wicked satanic symbol). Similarly, the pentagon fits perfectly inside the pentagram - this symbol has strong associations with witchcraft, Satanism and Freemasonry. In the Bible images carry repeated warnings and are a very dangerous area to get into (Exodus 20/4) An Order member is expected to be well grounded in the use of unfamiliar quasi-religious language and geometric LifeShapes in order to put them into practice. This means that the TOM concepts have to be thoroughly assimilated - learned, understood and translated into the principles of Breen’s Jesus-driven life.
Breen: "Looking at the Lord’s Prayer we observe six different facets of our relationship with him." Breen defines the Lord’s Prayer as a pattern…..”As we learn from this shape it shapes our very spirit, it shapes our very internal life……." (missionorder.org) The 'shape' Breen refers to is the hexagram, the most wicked of all the occult symbols which embodies the number 666. In the Bible the number six has always been associated with imperfection and represents Godless, carnal man. Six is the number of sin - and Breen links this wicked number to the Lord’s Prayer of all things!
missionorder.org: We recognise that apostolic leadership is necessary to continue the forward movement of the Order. The Senior Guardian is the apostolic leader, carrying, guarding and developing the spiritual vision of the Order1 . Elected by the ‘Chapter’ of the Order (the gathering of permanent members), the Senior Guardian serves for a period of six years2 and is accountable to the Visitors of the Order, the Council (the Guardians of the Order) and the Chapter itself.
1 In other words Breen is describing himself as an apostle.
2 Breen has been the Senior Guardian for a period of eleven years, since April 6th 2003.
TOM is based a foundation of straw - Roman Catholic Monasticism, not on Jesus Christ or the apostles teaching (1 Corinthians 3/10-15)
The definition of Apostolic is: of or relating to or deriving from the Apostles or their teaching. I find nothing about TOM remotely resembles the teaching of the Apostles – the above is a self-contradictory statement.
WARNINGS FROM THE BIBLE
Below is a passage of scripture which warns believers about people who come into the church in the guise of apostles but who are in fact agents of Satan:
For such men are false apostles, deceitful workmen, disguising themselves as apostles of Christ. And no wonder, for even Satan disguises himself as an angel of light. So it is no surprise if his servants, also, disguise themselves as servants of righteousness. Their end will correspond to their deeds.(2 Corinthians 11/14-15).
In light of the above, the presence of false apostles is not just theoretical it is prophetic, i.e. it is definite that these false apostles are in the very midst of the church drawing people unwittingly into the occult. Both Jesus Christ and Paul warned us about such people:
I know that after my departure fierce wolves will come in among you, not sparing the flock; and from among your own selves will arise men speaking twisted things, to draw away the disciples after them. Therefore be alert, remembering that for three years I did not cease night or day to admonish everyone with tears. (Acts 20/29-31)
Whenever we see the word Ecumenical we should be aware that its definition is derived from Greek οἰκουμένη (oikoumene) which means ’the whole inhabited world’. Ecumenism is a movement which is working towards the syncretism of all people into Roman Catholicism, the One Ecumenical [Apostate] Church - "BABYLON THE GREAT, THE MOTHER OF HARLOTS AND OF THE ABOMINATIONS OF THE EARTH." (Revelation 17/5)
New Monasticism, Neo Monasticism or Lay Monasticism in its various forms is a movement being promoted by Protestant Christianity, Willow Creek Community Church, Mars Hill Bible Church and Saddleback amongst others.
The above critique is not exhaustive, but hopefully it has given the reader enough information to examine what is really being promoted here. It is essential that the church stays alert (1 Peter 5/8) in these times of spiritual deception just prior to the Lord’s return and does not become caught up in the apostasia (apostasy, defection, revolt) prophesied by Paul (2 Thessalonians 2/3).
But woe to you, scribes and Pharisees, hypocrites! For you shut the kingdom of heaven in people’s faces. For you neither enter yourselves nor allow those who would enter to go in. Woe to you, scribes and Pharisees, hypocrites! For you travel across sea and land to make a single proselyte, and when he becomes a proselyte, you make him twice as much a child of hell as yourselves. (Matthew 23/13-15)
UPDATE: THE SCHOOLEY FILES
The Schooley Files are an important confirmation that 3DM is indeed a very dangerous system.
There are many many confirmations in the comments, some of which I have quoted below:
Our church is in the midst of heated discussion between the council and pastoral staff in electing to follow the 3dm model of ministry. council has decided to not follow this after much research. sounds like freemasonry cloaked.
the church mentioned above i believe i am a member at. i had to leave sunday service on april 6th, 2014, listening to an apology turned push for this program. there is a "control" on the minds, it seems, for some leadership in the church. there is great division. the patterns how this is brought seem to be what i have read even using the same lauguage in other churches that have been dooped to go with mike breen. and are we paying $30,000 a year to join this. Council people, i support you. anonymous contribution.
Also in the midst of discussion after seven sessions. The church has decided to drop the program, dispense with the language, and move on. Pastors humbly apologized for having made a mistake and opened the floor for comments.
While I certainly understand the turmoil over some of the teaching, what if I was not subjected to objectionable material, but rather introduced to the model as a tool only? There were no vows, no pledges, no two types of disciples, and no hierarchy- should I assume that it was yet to come, or rather, that I was introduced to a method and not a system? Am I being naïve?
It is heartening and heartbreaking at the same time to read the experiences of others since I last posted; heartening, because 3dm is finally being exposed; heartbreaking, well, for obvious reasons. I am praying that our church be included with those who are able to proclaim the Lord's deliverance from secrecy, division, and biblical distortion; but alas that hasn't happened yet. Three years after our pastor's intial buy-in (literally) to the program, our decimated church is still in a state of tension and disunity. There seems to be an inexplicable inability to see and admit failure. While asserting the program to be "voluntary" and "simply a tool" I have been warned by the pastor that due to my abstention I will "not understand the language the rest of us are speaking" and I have been accused of "undermining (pastoral) authority." I have taken the position from the beginning that the Lord Himself will judge between His sheep (Eze 34:17); He will show who the approved workmen are; 3dm willl stand or fail as He sees fit. But we are commanded to watch ourselves and our doctrine closely. "Loving one another" is how we will be known as Jesus' disciples, a commandment which cannot be fulfilled in any man-made program that advocates secrecy ("put it in the water") and is inherently divisive (leaders only, huddle-by-invitation.) Isn't it odd that the New Testament writers refer very rarely to systematic discipleship but very often to false doctrine and church unity? Three years into this trial I am able to see how the Lord has used it in my own life to test and discipline me; "endure hardship as discipline." Yes, Keith, learning to love and maintain a spirit of Christian kindness in the face of "differing opinions" is imperative; thank you for the admonition as I press on.
I just found this site and could not believe that others have experienced the same things that we did recently at our church. The creation of insiders and outsiders, only person's who adhere totally to the 3DM methodology being qualified to serve in leadership positions, those who have been huddled being the least charitable to Christian brothers and sisters that they have known and loved for decades. This is an insidious program that was instituted in secret at our church with only the pastor, staff, and board being allowed to know what was going on. Having read Building a Discipling Culture twice I have highlighted many passages which are just "out there" in terms of historic Christian doctrine and belief, such as "you can learn to do everything that Jesus did." Really? I haven't heard of anyone walking on water or raising the dead lately. When the temple veil was rent at Jesus death it signaled the destruction of the old system that was characterized by exclusion. Under the old covenant the closer you got to the presence of God in the Jewish temple the more exclusive, i.e. court of the gentiles and women, court of the men, the Holy place where only the priests could go, and then the Holy of Holies where only the high priest could go once per year. Yet 3DM creates a system of exclusion by its insistence on learning the "life shapes" and its unique language. Christ came to destroy the barriers and 3DM erects more, how could anyone call this discipleship. If this comes to your church run, run, run.
Bethany Lutheran in Elkhorn Nebraska, US: “Apparently Mike Breen was fired at the church in Arizona, and his friend, Garett Robinson was not far behind. The rumor we got was that when Breen was fired, the Immigration officials were on hand but somehow he got around that......The first time I read the oath the followers had to take to follow Mike Breen, the guardian I was sick to my stomach. As far as I was concerned it was a CULT, and there were many others of the same mind..... Our church paid out $72,000 to Mr. Breen before it was stopped.”
NORTH HEIGHTS LUTHERAN CHURCH REMOVES 3DM
"The authority given to the North Heights Lutheran Church Council of Elders by Chapter 10 of the NHLC Constitution allows us to give the following statement. The North Heights Elected Council of Elders, on April 2, 2014, voted unanimously to move into the future unencumbered by the 3DM movement. The congregation was sent a brief email on Saturday evening, April 5, 2014. Below, you will find more detailed information. http://www.nhlc.org/3dm