New Age sympathizer Leonard Sweet, who will be training church leaders and pastors at the 2008 Saddleback Small Groups Conference in April, is accepted by Rick Warren as a trustworthy source of Christian leadership. However, Sweet’s view of the value of small groups lines up more with the New Age and Alice Bailey than it does with biblical Christianity. In his book, Quantum Spirituality, Sweet states:
The power of small groups is in their ability to develop the discipline to get people “in-phase” with the Christ consciousness and connected with one another.
What Sweet means by “Christ consciousness” can be determined through his book, Quantum Spirituality. For instance, in the Acknowledgements pages Sweet thanks the “New Light leaders” whom he has followed in his spiritual journey. He names interspiritualists/universalists such as Matthew Fox (author of The Coming of the Cosmic Christ), Episcopalian priest/mystic Morton Kelsey, Willis Harman (author of Global Mind Change) and Ken Wilber (one of the major intellectuals in the New Age movement). In the Preface of Sweet’s book (p. 3), he (referring to other New Agers such as Gary Zukav) says: “Unfortunately, little of this literature is known or celebrated in the religious community.” Zukav’s book, The Seat of the Soul, teaches people how to get in touch with their spirit guides.
Since the release of Quantum Spirituality in 1991, Sweet has never renounced the spirituality of the book, and in fact offers a free online edition from his current website. This means he still agrees with its contents.
A key to understanding Sweet’s meaning of “Christ consciousness” can be partly found in his reference on page 13 to Thomas Merton, whom he quotes as saying:
We are already one. But we imagine that we are not. And what we have to recover is our original unity.
And also in Sweet’s TOE (Theory of Everything) in which he believes that a “unifying principle” binds all things together.
In February, Lighthouse Trails reported that the Saddleback Small Groups Conference would be featuring Leonard Sweet as one of the speakers.1 The report explained that for many years Rick Warren has resonated with Leonard Sweet, which was apparent in a 1994 audio series the two did together, and also in a book written by Sweet (Soul Tsunami), on which Warren wrote a front cover endorsement. Sweet’s idea that the power of small groups lies in their ability to develop the Christ consciousness in participants is alarming, especially considering the influence Warren has on hundreds of thousands of churches around the world.
In A Time of Departing, Ray Yungen explains that occultist Alice Bailey, who coined the term New Age, predicted a time would come when new age philosophy would rejuvenate the Christian church:
Bailey eagerly foretold of what she termed “the regeneration of the churches.” Her rationale for this was obvious:
The Christian church in its many branches can serve as a St. John the Baptist, as a voice crying in the wilderness [for the New Age], and as a nucleus through which world illumination may be accomplished.
In other words, instead of opposing Christianity, the occult [New Age] would capture and blend itself with Christianity and then use it as its primary vehicle for spreading and instilling New Age consciousness! (ATOD, p. 123)
Someone whom Leonard Sweet has looked to for spiritual guidance is Matthew Fox, author of The Coming of the Cosmic Christ. A brief look at Fox’s “cosmic christ,” will help sum up why we believe Sweet’s teachings to small group leaders and pastors will not give them the biblical Christ but rather a false “christ consciousness.” From Matthew Fox:
Divinity is found in all creatures…. The Cosmic Christ is the “I am” in every creature.2
Without mysticism there will be no “deep ecumenism,” no unleashing of the power of wisdom from all the world’s religious traditions. Without this [mysticism] I am convinced there will never be global peace or justice since the human race needs spiritual depths and disciplines, celebrations and rituals to awaken its better selves.3
We need to become aware of the Cosmic Christ, which means recognizing that every being has within it the light of Christ.4
2. Matthew Fox, The Coming of the Cosmic Christ (New York, NY: HarperCollins Publishers, 1980), p. 154.
3. Ibid., p. 65
4. Steve Turner interviewing Matthew Fox, “Natural Mystic?” Nine O Clock Service, March 1995, http://members.tripod.com/nineoclockservice/mattiefx.htm