Posts Tagged ‘Leonard Sweet’
By Warren B. Smith
For the time will come when they will not endure sound doctrine; But after their own lusts shall they heap to themselves teachers, Having itching ears; And they shall turn away their ears from the truth and shall be turned unto fables. (2 Timothy 4:3-4)
YOUNG PUBLICLY ENDORSES UNIVERSAL SALVATION
In his just-released book (March 7th), Lies We Believe About God, best-selling author Paul Young openly describes himself as a universalist. In chapter 13, Young would have us believe it is a “lie” to tell someone, “You need to get saved.”1 Young asks himself the rhetorical questions, “Are you suggesting that everyone is saved? That you believe in universal salvation?”2 He answers, “That is exactly what I am saying!”3 Young then goes on to teach that “every single human being is in Christ” and that “Christ is in them.”4 With this unbiblical teaching, one recalls how Young put these same heretical words in the mouth of his “Jesus” character in The Shack. He wrote:
God, who is the ground of all being, dwells in, around, and through all things.5
THE TRINITARIAN LIE
Young would have us believe his trinitarian lie that God, Jesus, and the Holy Spirit inherently indwell everyone.6 This is exactly what the false “Christ” of the New Age teaches. In fact, it is the foundational teaching of the New Age/New Spirituality/New World Religion that has progressively moved into the world and into the church.
NEW AGE IN THE CHURCH
As I pointed out in my booklet, The Shack and Its New Age Leaven,7 the teaching that God is “in” everyone is a heretical New Age teaching that has been increasingly popularized over the last thirty years by New Age authors and teachers and heavily promoted by people like Oprah Winfrey. Sadly, it is also found in the books and teachings of well-known church figures like Robert Schuller, Rick Warren, Eugene Peterson, Leonard Sweet, and Sarah Young.8 And in a November 1, 2016 Catholic News Service article titled, “Pope Offers New Beatitudes for Saints of a New Age” Pope Francis, in a Catholic Mass in Malmo, Sweden, proposed a new “beatitude”—”Blessed are those who see God in every person and strive to make others also discover him.”9
WHAT WILL THE CHURCH DO?
Paul Young wanted to have a conversation about the nature of God, and that conversation is now front and center before the church. Will pastors and leaders and day-to-day believers contend for the faith and fight the good fight, or will they let false teachers like Paul Young have their uncontested say and have their uncontested way?
1. Chapter 13 title in Lies We Believe About God is “You need to get saved.”
2. William Paul Young, Lies We Believe About God (New York, NY: Atria Books; An imprint of Simon & Schuster, 2017), p. 118.
4. Ibid., p. 119.
5. William P. Young, The Shack (Newbury Park, CA: Windblown Media, 2007), p. 112.
6. In C. Baxter Kruger’s book, The Shack Revisited: There Is More Going On Here Than You Ever Dared to Dream, in the foreword, Shack author William Paul Young writes: I want to say, “Thank you, and please read The Shack Revisited.” He adds, “If you want to understand better the perspectives and theology that frame The Shack, this book is for you. Baxter has taken on the incredible task of exploring the nature and character of the God who met me in my own shack” (p. ix). On page 49 of The Shack Revisited , Kruger writes: “For inside of us all, because of Jesus, is nothing short of the very trinitarian life of God.” C. Baxter Kruger, The Shack Revisited: There Is More Going On Here than You Ever Dared to Dream (New York, NY: FaithWords), p. 49.
7. To read this booklet, click here: http://www.lighthousetrailsresearch.com/blog/?p=12290.
8. I have documented a short history of how this deceptive New Age teaching has entered the world and the church in my booklet Be Still and Know That You Are Not God. The booklet includes quotes by each of these figures. To read this booklet, click here: http://www.lighthousetrailsresearch.com/blog/?p=17572.
9. Cathy Wooden, “Pope Offers New Beatitudes for Saints of a New Age” (Catholic News Service, November 1, 2016,).
Erwin McManus, Moody, Liberty, Cedarville, and Biola Help Pave the Emergent/Social Justice/Progressive Future with Barefoot Tribe
Lighthouse Trails has been warning readers for several years about the emergent church. In those warnings, we’ve addressed the spiritual leanings of Erwin McManus.1 We also challenged David Jeremiah because he told his church that he wanted to use McManus’ book The Barbarian Way to help bring about a “major paradigm shift” in his church.2 Well, there’s no question about it, the evangelical church has gone through a major paradigm shift. This week we received some information from a Lighthouse Trails reader about an event called Barefoot Tribe Gathering, which is another example of where emergent leaders are taking the church, in particular young evangelicals, who by the way are being encouraged not to even call themselves evangelicals or Christians anymore. They see themselves on a much higher ground than that. It’s a ground that incorporates all religions, all people, and all beliefs and practices.
This emergent progressive church (which they tried to make us believe was a thing of the past) is the new “Christianity” for millions of young people. Under the disguise of helping the poor, taking care of the environment, and loving everyone (except their critics), is a growing body of people with a New Age/New Spirituality mindset that embraces all spiritual views and believes God exists in everyone. The Cross (or atonement) doesn’t mean the place where Jesus Christ took our place and died for our sins but rather means at-one-ment (that is, we are all one and connected together with a “God” energy that flows through all things and all people). This at-one-ment rejects the idea that God would actually send His Son to a violent death to pay for OUR sins; rather this emergent view of atonement means that Jesus was a good example of someone who laid down His life and we should follow that example. That’s as far as this “new church” will go with the Cross. To say He paid the penalty for our sins is to say that man is sinful and is not God. The new social justice, emergent, progressive “Christianity” cannot do that because it doesn’t believe that.
According to the Barefoot Tribe’s website, Erwin McManus was one of the speakers in the 2014 Barefoot Tribe Gathering (and by the way, the emergent church has made a lot of progress since then with the help of “evangelical” names such as McManus). We also noticed that Palmer Chinchen, who heads up Barefoot Tribe, has been bringing the Barefoot Tribe message to various Christian colleges including Cornerstone University, Biola, Moody, Cedarville, and Liberty. What better place to change the face of Christianity than at the Christian universities. While parents keep their heads in the sand and pay huge dollars to have their children educated at “nice safe Christian colleges,” right under their noses, their kids’ spirituality is being turned upside down, and in many, if not most, cases will never be restored to biblical Christianity. Other colleges Barefoot Tribe has spoken at are:
Lest some think that Barefoot Tribe is simply an outreach to the poor and needy in the world, Palmer Chinchen’s books, including Barefoot Tribe, are packed with quotes by, references to, and inspirations from some of the leading emergent writers today (Sweet, Ortberg, N.T. Wright, Nouwen, Brueggemann, Morgan Cron, Campolo, etc.). Satan has an agenda to deceive the whole world, and most proclaiming Christians and church goers have no idea it is happening right in their own backyards.
The information sent from our reader:
The Barefoot Tribe Gathering 2014 and 2017
“We are on the crest of an epic shift in humanity. This generation views the world as an extended family – increasingly interconnected through technology – and living with a deep moral obligation to care for one another.
The Barefoot Tribe GATHERING will promote conversation, collaboration, and help network a generation of Christ-followers to respond to the plight of desperate people in broken places.”
– Palmer Chinchen is organizer
(1) Bob Goff: author of Love Does – http://bobgoff.com/
(2) Dr. John M. Perkins: https://spu.edu/depts/perkins/john-perkins/
(3) Caitlyn Crosby: Oprah pick for Super Soul 100 list as a “Soul Giver”: http://www.supersoul.tv/supersoul-100/soul-givers/caitlin-crosby
More on Caitlyn: https://www.thegivingkeys.com/pages/our-founder-caitlin-crosby
(4) Erwin McManus: http://awakengroup.com/?ag_team=erwin-raphael-mcmanus
Barefoot Tribe: http://www.palmerchinchen.com/barefoot-tribe
Editor’s Introduction Note: It is very fitting that our 100th Booklet is about emerging-church leader Leonard Sweet. Many of you may not know who he is or know very little about him, but his influence in the church has been significant. He is a prolific author who has been writing popular books since the 1990s, has worked closely with many Christian leaders such as Rick Warren, and has been very involved in teaching college-age evangelical students.
Sweet is currently organizing and co-hosting an event in Germany taking place in October called Luther 2017. Sweet has brought on board with him at the event Christian figures including Dr. George Wood, head of the Assemblies of God denomination, Dr. Gustavo Crocker, one of the General Superintendents of the Church of the Nazarene, Dr. Jo Anne Lyons, head of the Wesleyan denomination, Rev. Samuel Rodriguez, President of the National Hispanic Christian Leadership Conference, and several other major Christian leaders from around the world.
Important to note is Sweet’s newest book, Jesus Speaks, published by the same publisher (Thomas Nelson) as Sarah Young’s Jesus Calling and released this past summer. Jesus Speaks is touted by Sweet and co-author Frank Viola as “the practical sequel” to Jesus Calling that “gives you the practical steps to have your own ‘Jesus Calling’ experience.” As Warren B. Smith has documented in his book “Another Jesus” Calling, the Jesus in Jesus Calling is a false Christ.
And so the great deception happening in the church today continues. Popular proclaiming Christians introducing believers and unbelievers alike to false Christs and a “more magnificent way of seeing Christ” but, sadly, a way that does not point people to the true Jesus Christ at all. Once you read this booklet below, you will understand the direction Leonard Sweet is taking the church and why this cannot be ignored.
NEW BOOKLET: Leonard Sweet—A More Magnificent Way of Seeing Christ? by Warren B. Smith is our newest Lighthouse Trails Booklet Tract. The Booklet is 18 pages long and sells for $1.95 for single copies. Quantity discounts are as much as 50% off retail. Our Booklets are designed to give away to others or for your own personal use. Below is the content of the booklet. To order copies of Leonard Sweet—A More Magnificent Way of Seeing Christ?, click here.
Leonard Sweet—A More Magnificent Way of Seeing Christ?
To survive in postmodern culture, one has to learn to speak out of both sides of the mouth.1
Who is Leonard Sweet?
Leonard Sweet is an ordained Methodist minister who is presently the E. Stanley Jones Professor of Evangelism at Drew University in Madison, New Jersey. He is also a visiting distinguished professor at George Fox University in Portland, Oregon. On his various websites, he is described as a “scholar of American culture” who has authored over 60 books and 200 articles and has published over 1500 sermons. A “Phi Beta Kappa graduate,” he is a “frequent speaker at national and international conferences, state conventions, pastor’s schools, retreats” and “serves as a consultant to many of America’s denominational leaders and agencies.” Descriptive terms such as “distinguished,” “most influential,” “widely quoted,” “highly sought after,” and “the Picasso of Preaching” give visitors to his website the distinct impression that this is a man they should definitely pay attention to. And many people are doing just that.
Day-to-day believers may or may not be familiar with Leonard Sweet, but many in Christian leadership are very familiar with this self-described “semiotician.” According to his website, a semiotician is someone who “sees things the rest of us do not see and dreams possibilities that are beyond most of our imagining.” And as a “cultural futurist” and “Christ follower,” he seems to be very comfortable assuming the role of a postmodern prophet who provides hip observations of what is and what will be. His mission is to help the church become more culturally relevant in the 21st century. However, as he attempts to walk the narrow line between the Gospel and the world, he frequently walks over that line into the false teachings of the New Age/New Spirituality. When he does, legitimate questions need to be raised about what he is doing.
In June 2010, Sweet became the object of a swirling controversy, and his name suddenly disappeared from the list of scheduled speakers at a National Worship Conference taking place in Albuquerque, New Mexico. The controversy centered around the New Age implications of many of the quotes and teachings found in his 1991 book Quantum Spirituality: A Post Modern Apologetic. Prior to the conference, a number of people were starting to ask pertinent questions about Sweet and what he was teaching. In my 2009 book A “Wonderful” Deception, I wrote three chapters on Leonard Sweet and the obvious New Age implications of what he was teaching. In the first chapter on Sweet, I described some of my initial impressions regarding this man, and in particular, his book Quantum Spirituality:
Highly intellectual and well-read, Leonard Sweet almost dares you to keep up with him as he charges through the spiritual marketplace. Operating at lightning speed and quoting from countless books and articles, he will impress many readers with his quick wit and spiritual insights. However, as he treacherously dives into New Age waters and challenges his readers to go there with him, serious problems arise within his “postmodern apologetic.”
In reading Quantum Spirituality, I recalled the Sermon on the Mount when Jesus warned that you can’t serve two masters (Matthew 6:24). Leonard Sweet may be a professing evangelical Christian, but he also simultaneously praises New Age authors and their teachings.2
Sweet’s “Response” to Critics
Keenly aware of the controversy he has created, Sweet has a statement prominently posted on his present home website titled—“A Response to Recent Misunderstandings.” While his attempt to explain himself might satisfy the uninformed reader, his “Response” does not address the specifics of what he has written and is actually teaching. His simplistic denunciation of the New Age is unconvincing. His statement that the “New Age rhymes with sewage” and his encouraging the use of a “daily ritual of starting the day by standing in front of a mirror and saying: “God is God and I am not” do not speak to the fact that he has never even addressed, much less renounced, the specific New Age teachings that he was otherwise appearing to deny and disparage. And his stating “back when the New Age was a movement” completely misses the fact that the New Age movement never went away. Those of us who came out of New Age teachings and have been observing the New Age over the past several decades know that contrary to Sweet’s claims, the New Age movement has actually grown exponentially and is now mainstream and an inherent part of our culture. Due to its continued wide-spread growth and influence, the New Age threat to the church (and the world) is larger than ever before. But now it is just hiding in plain sight behind the facade of other names like “New Spirituality,” “New Worldview,” or in Sweet’s case—the “New Light” teachings of a “Quantum Spirituality.” But by any other name a rose is still a rose and the New Age is still the New Age.
Because Sweet’s “A Response to Recent Misunderstandings” left so many unanswered questions and because of his continued influence in the church, it seems imperative that thoughtful Christians take a deeper look at what Leonard Sweet is really teaching. For starters, here are five immediate concerns to consider.
FIVE IMMEDIATE CONCERNS
1) Leonard Sweet teaches the New Age doctrine of “Immanence” that would have the church believe God is “in” everyone and everything
In her 1948 book The Reappearance of the Christ, New Age matriarch Alice Bailey and her spirit guide Djwhal Khul describe how the path to their New Age God will be based on an “immanent” God that is “within every form of life”:
. . . a fresh orientation to divinity and to the acceptance of the fact of God Transcendent and of God Immanent within every form of life. These are the foundational truths upon which the world religion of the future will rest.3 (emphasis added)
Likewise, in his 1980 book, The Reappearance of the Christ and the Masters of Wisdom, New Age channeler Benjamin Creme, states that the New World Religion will be based on the proposition that “Christ” is “immanent”—“in man and all creation”:
But eventually a new world religion will be inaugurated which will be a fusion and synthesis of the approach of the East and the approach of the West. The Christ will bring together, not simply Christianity and Buddhism, but the concept of God transcendent—outside of His creation—and also the concept of God immanent in all creation—in man and all creation.4 (emphasis added)
In Leonard Sweet’s 1999 book SoulTsunami—with its front cover endorsement by Rick Warren—Sweet introduces this same New Age idea of God not only being transcendent but also immanent. He writes:
To survive in postmodern culture, one has to learn to speak out of both sides of the mouth. It should not be hard, since Christianity has always insisted on having things both ways. Isn’t it based on the impossible possibility of Jesus being “beyond us, yet ourselves” (poet Wallace Stevens)? Biblical theological is not circular with a fixed center, but elliptical, revolving around the double foci of God’s immanence and God’s transcendence.5 (emphasis added)
Sweet clearly spells out what he means by “immanence” in his 1991 book Quantum Spirituality: A Postmodern Apologetic. As a self-described “radical,” he presents his “radical doctrine” that God is immanently embodied “in” His creation. He writes:
Quantum spirituality bonds us to all creation as well as to other members of the human family. . . . This entails a radical doctrine of embodiment of God in the very substance of creation. . . . But a spirituality that is not in some way entheistic (whether pan- or trans-), that does not extend to the spirit-matter of the cosmos, is not Christian.6 (emphasis added)
But Sweet’s “radical” panentheistic doctrine is a key New Age teaching—as is so much of what he wrote in Quantum Spirituality. In his “A Response to Recent Misunderstandings,” Sweet tries to dispel questions about Quantum Spirituality by saying, “Would I write the same book today? No. Would I say the same things differently? Yes. I started working on the book in my late 20s. I hope I’m older and wiser now.” But when it comes to the New Age implications of what he is teaching, he is not any wiser in regard to his previously stated New Age doctrine. In several subsequent books, Sweet reintroduces his New Age doctrine of immanence—that God is immanently embodied “in” His creation. For example, in his 1999 book Soul Tsunami, Sweet writes:
Postmodern evangelism is first of all telling people how special they are, how much God loves them, how unique each and every one of them is. The fourth-century theologian Athanasius said in one of his letters that God became one of us “that he might deify us in Himself.” Similarly, elsewhere he wrote that Christ “was made man that we might be made God.”7
In Sweet’s 2010 book Nudge: Awakening Each Other to the God Who’s Already There, he expresses in different words what he wrote in Quantum Spirituality about the “embodiment of God in the very substance of creation”:
An incarnational God means that God-stuff is found in the matter of the universe.8
In this same book he also wrote, “Nudgers help people discover their inner Jesus.”9 But God is not “in” everyone and everything. Jesus is not “in” everyone and everything. Sweet may seem to denounce the New Age, but what he is teaching is New Age. This is dangerous and unbiblical leaven. The apostle Paul lamented that it only took “a little leaven” to lure the Galatians away from the Gospel they once knew so well.
Ye did run well; who did hinder you that ye should not obey the truth? This persuasion cometh not of him that calleth you. A little leaven leaveneth the whole lump. (Galatians 5:7-9)
God states in the first commandment, “Thou shalt have no other gods before me.” The New Age “God” who is “in” everyone and everything is another “God” and therefore a false God. Contrary to Leonard Sweet’s teaching in Quantum Spirituality, God is not embodied in His creation. Contrary to his teaching in Nudge, “God-stuff” is not found in the matter of the universe, and everyone does not have an “inner Jesus.” Scripture is very clear. Man is not God because God is not “in” everyone and everything. In Jeremiah 16:20, God warned: “Shall a man make gods unto himself, and they are no gods?” In Matthew 23:12, Jesus warned, “And whosoever shall exalt himself shall be abased; and he that shall humble himself shall be exalted.” For further scriptural references on why God is not “in” everyone and everything and how this false teaching has entered both the world and the church, see my booklet Be Still and Know that You Are Not God.
2) Leonard Sweet describes the “Father” of the New Age Movement” as “Twentieth-century Christianity’s major voice”
Sweet describes heretical Jesuit Catholic priest Pierre Teilhard de Chardin—the “Father of the New Age Movement—as “Twentieth-century Christianity’s major voice.”10 In her best-selling New Age classic, The Aquarian Conspiracy, author Marilyn Ferguson describes Teilhard de Chardin as “the individual most often named as a profound influence by the Aquarian Conspirators who responded to a survey.”11 He is also the most frequently referenced New Age leader in her book. The Teilhard quote “This soul can only be a conspiracy of individuals” is found on the very first page of her book and inspired her to title her book The Aquarian Conspiracy. Ferguson wrote that “Teilhard prophesied the phenomenon central to this book: a conspiracy of men and women whose new perspective would trigger a critical contagion of change.”12
Evident in his posted “Response,” Sweet appears to be baffled by everyone’s concern about some of the things he is writing. He seems to take any criticism as a personal attack. But this criticism, if you will, is not about him personally, it is about what he is teaching. Jesus didn’t say “Get behind me Satan” to Peter because he thought Peter was Satan. He said “Get behind me Satan” because of what Peter was saying. And because Sweet describes the “Father of the New Age movement” as “Twentieth-century Christianity’s major voice,” I believe the Lord would tell Leonard Sweet the same thing today. This should become especially evident when you read the following unbiblical statements made by Teilhard de Chardin in his book Christianity and Evolution:
What I am proposing to do is to narrow that gap between pantheism and Christianity by bringing out what one might call the Christian soul of pantheism or the pantheistic aspect of Christianity.13 (emphasis added)
The cross still stands . . . But this is on one condition, and one only, that it expand itself to the dimensions of a New Age, and cease to present itself to us as primarily (or even exclusively) the sign of a victory over sin.14
I can be saved only by becoming one with the universe.15
I believe that the Messiah whom we await, whom we all without any doubt await, is the universal Christ; that is to say, the Christ of evolution.16
[I]f a Christ is to be completely acceptable as an object of worship, he must be presented as the saviour of the idea and reality of evolution.17
A general convergence of religions upon a universal Christ who fundamentally satisfies them all: that seems to me the only possible conversion of the world, and the only form in which a religion of the future can be conceived.18
Sweet’s affection for Teilhard de Chardin surfaced again in his 1999 book Aqua Church. After quoting a strong Bible-based stanza from the hymn “Jesus Savior Pilot Me,” Sweet follows it with a very revealing quote from Teilhard de Chardin. Teilhard stated that those who “see” Christ as he does understand Christ in “a much more magnificent way” than all those who went before him:
Christ is in the Church in the same way as the sun is before our eyes. We see the same sun as our fathers saw, and yet we understand it in a much more magnificent way.19
Really? Teilhard and his followers understand Christ in a much more magnificent way than their “fathers”? More than all the martyrs? More than the original disciples? This seems to indicate that Teilhard and Sweet and their “semiotic” emergent postmodern “Christ followers” are “seeing” something about Christ that the rest of the church does not see. Would Sweet have the church believe that Chardin’s seemingly updated New Age “Christ” is the real Christ? Is the “semiotic” Sweet trying to show us that if we adopt the New Age teachings of Teilhard, we, too, will “see” Christ in a “much more magnificent way” than the Christians who came before us? Sadly, it would seem that this is so.
Sweet seems to believe that with new understandings from quantum physics, a New Age/New Gospel/New Spirituality/Quantum Spirituality would enable Christians to see Christ in a much deeper and “more magnificent way.” The church would finally understand that the science of quantum physics proves that God is an energy force that interpenetrates and embodies His creation. Therefore, we are all “connected” because we are all “God” because God is “in” everyone and everything. Sweet argues that Christians of the past weren’t ready to deal with things like quantum physics, quantum wavelengths, and the New Age implications of a Quantum Spirituality that would totally transform their faith and challenge everything they thought they knew about being a Christian. In his 2016 book Jesus Speaks, Leonard Sweet writes:
The Holy Spirit brings Jesus’ voice to life through history, theology, science, and social experience. Jesus told the disciples, “I have much more to say to you” (John 16:12). In other words, Jesus was saying, “You can’t handle everything I have to say to you right now. Some of my truth has a wavelength, and it needs time, maybe even centuries, to play itself out.20
But this implies that God’s Word is incomplete and insufficient and therefore in need of new revelation. This is simply not true. Besides, when Jesus said “I have much more to say to you, He was talking to His disciples—not to the church today. It is also important to notice how Sweet conveniently squeezed “wavelength” into his interpretation of Jesus’ words to set up his Quantum Spirituality. But Jesus wasn’t withholding spiritual insights that would have to be delivered to His people two thousand years later. This kind of false teaching is an inherent part of the New Age deception. The fact is Jesus has already given us everything we need to know in His Holy Bible.
Jesus warned of false prophets who would come in sheep’s clothing (Matthew 7:15). And there would be those who honor Him with their lips, but their hearts would be far from Him (Matthew 15:8). He also warned of those who serve two masters (Matthew 6:24). Psalm 144:11 warns of vain men who deceive with the “right hand of falsehood.” In Psalm 12:2, David warned of those who speak with a “double heart.” In James 1:8, James taught that “a double minded man is unstable in all his ways. In 1 Timothy 3:8, Paul referred to these same men as “double-tongued.” For Leonard Sweet to exalt the “Father of the New age movement”—Teilhard de Chardin—and suggest that Teilhard’s way of seeing Christ is a “much more magnificent way” than our forefathers is to fall prey to our Adversary’s deceptive devices. One thing is for sure: The New Age movement hasn’t gone away—it has entered the church through men like Teilhard de Chardin and those like Sweet who exalt him as “Twentieth-century Christianity’s major voice.”
(3) Leonard Sweet Praises New Age leaders as his “Heroes” and “Role Models”
While some Leonard Sweet defenders argue that his postmodern “New Light” apologetic flies right over the heads of “Old Light” “fundamentalist” types, the facts tell a different story. But what one learns in reading Quantum Spirituality is that Sweet wants to transform biblical Christianity into a Quantum Spirituality that is, in reality, a New Age/New Spirituality. Without any apology, Sweet writes that he is part of a “New Light” movement, and he describes those he especially admires as “New Light leaders.” But many of Sweet’s “New Light leaders” are New Age leaders who are in the process of overturning biblical Christianity through obliging New Age sympathizers like Leonard Sweet.
Sweet’s New Age “role models and heroes”
In the acknowledgments section of Quantum Spirituality, Leonard Sweet expresses his deep gratitude and admiration to various “New Light leaders” whom he openly praises as “the most creative religious leaders in America today.” But many of these “New Light leaders” are New Age leaders. Included in this group are a number of men I was very familiar with from my years in the New Age—among them are Willis Harman, Matthew Fox, and M. Scott Peck. Sweet describes these three men—along with numerous other New Age figures cited—as “extraordinary” and “great” New Light leaders. He goes so far as to say that they are his “personal role models” and “heroes” of “the true nature of the postmodern apologetic.” Sweet writes:
They are my personal role models (in an earlier day one could get away with “heroes”) of the true nature of the postmodern apologetic. More than anyone else, they have been my teachers on how to translate, without compromising content, the gospel into the indigenous context of the postmodern vernacular.21
But many of the men and women Leonard Sweet cited have compromised the “content” of the Gospel by translating it into the “postmodern vernacular” of a New Age/New Spirituality. For example, Willis Harman, Matthew Fox, and M. Scott Peck have all played leading roles in the initial establishment and popularization of today’s New Age/New Spirituality movement. But rather than commending these New Age/New Light leaders, a self-professing Christian leader like Sweet should be warning the church about them. A brief look at these three “New Light” leaders and their teachings will make this very clear.
Willis Harman (1918-1997)
Willis Harman is listed as one of the most influential Aquarian/New Age conspirators in Marilyn Ferguson’s The Aquarian Conspiracy. Harman was a social scientist/futurist with the Stanford Research Institute and one of the chief architects of New Age thinking. He wrote the book Global Mind Change:The New Age Revolution in the Way We Think. A review by The San Francisco Chronicle on the front cover of the book reads: “There never has been a more lucid interpretation of New Age consciousness and what it promises for the future than the works of Willis Harman.”22
Matthew Fox (1940- )
Another one of Sweet’s self-described “role models” and “heroes” is Matthew Fox, a former Catholic priest who was dismissed from the Catholic church for openly professing heretical New Age teachings—teachings that include those of his revered mentor, Pierre Teilhard de Chardin. Fox, like Teilhard, teaches that all of creation is the “Cosmic Christ”—therefore the Cosmic Christ is “in” everyone and everything. In his book The Coming of the Cosmic Christ, Fox writes: “Divinity is found in all creatures.”23 and “We are all royal persons, creative, godly, divine, persons of beauty and of grace. We are all Cosmic Christs, ‘other Christs.’ But what good is this if we don’t know it.”24 Leonard Sweet actually credits Fox in a footnote in Quantum Spirituality for inspiring Sweet’s own description of the “cosmic body of Christ” and actually refers readers of Quantum Spirituality to Fox’s New Age book The Coming of the Cosmic Christ.25
M. Scott Peck (1936-2005)
M. Scott Peck, the late psychiatrist and best-selling author of The Road Less Traveled, is another one of the “role models” and “heroes” that Leonard Sweet cites in his book Quantum Spirituality. The Road Less Traveled was on the New York Times best-seller list for over ten years. In a subsection of his book titled “The Evolution of Consciousness,” Peck describes God as being “intimately associated with us—so intimately that He is part of us.”26 He also writes:
If you want to know the closest place to look for grace, it is within yourself. If you desire wisdom greater than your own, you can find it inside you . . . .To put it plainly, our unconscious is God. God within us. We were part of God all the time.27
When Matthew Fox’s The Coming of the Cosmic Christ was published in 1988, the lead endorsement on the back of Fox’s book was written by M. Scott Peck. Peck and Fox were obviously in New Age agreement. Peck, like Fox and Sweet, describes Pierre Teilhard de Chardin in glowing terms. He describes Teilhard as “[p]erhaps the greatest prophet” of the “mystical,” evolutionary leap that will take mankind toward “global consciousness” and “world community.”28 And it is this mystical New Age Christ of Pierre Teilhard de Chardin, Willis Harman, Matthew Fox, M. Scott Peck, and Leonard Sweet that challenges biblical Christianity today.
4) Leonard Sweet thanks New Age Leader David Spangler for helping him develop his Quantum Spirituality’s “new cell understanding of new light leadership”
If we want to possess a magic crystal for our New Age work, we need look no further than our own bodies and the cells that make them up.29—David Spangler, 1991
I am grateful to David Spangler for his help in formulating this “new cell” understanding of New Light leadership.30—Leonard Sweet, 1991
In his “A Response to Recent Misunderstandings,” Leonard Sweet states: “Because I quote someone does not mean I agree with everything that person ever wrote.” He goes on to say that “Some of the quotes I chose were meant to provide contrasting positions to my argument, some to buttress my argument, some even to mock my argument. The key consideration to whether I quoted someone was not ‘Do I agree with them?’ but ‘Does this quote energize the conversation?’ ‘Guilt by association’ is intellectually disreputable and injurious to the whole body of Christ.” But there is a big difference between “guilt by association” and “guilt by promotion.” Leonard Sweet is praising, thanking, and glorifying many of these New Age leaders—hardly guilt by association, especially when Sweet writes:
I believe these are among the most creative religious leaders in America today. These are the ones carving out new channels for new ideas to flow. In a way this book was written to guide myself through their channels and chart their progress. The book’s best ideas come from them.31
Ironically, one of the “channels” guiding him was an actual New Age channeler—David Spangler. A pioneering spokesperson for the New Age, Spangler has written numerous books over the years. His book The Revelation: The Birth of the New Age is a compilation of channeled transmissions that he received from his disembodied spirit-guide “John.” At one point in the book, Spangler documents what “John” prophesied about “the energies of the cosmic Christ” and “Oneness”:
As the energies of the Cosmic Christ become increasingly manifest within the etheric life of Earth, many individuals will begin to respond with the realization that the Christ dwells within them. They will feel his presence moving within and through them and will begin to awaken to their heritage of Christhood and Oneness with God, the Beloved.32
In a postmodern-day consultation that bears more than a casual resemblance to King Saul’s consult with the witch of Endor (1 Samuel 28), Leonard Sweet acknowledges in Quantum Spirituality that he was privately corresponding with New Age channeler David Spangler. Sweet even thanks Spangler for assisting him in forming his “new cell understanding” of “New Light leadership.”33 But as believers we are to “have no fellowship with the unfruitful works of darkness.” Rather than thanking them, we are to reprove and expose them (Ephesians 5:11).
(5) Misapplication of Quantum Physics: Trying to Draw Spiritual Truth From Physical Theory
Leonard Sweet—just like New Age leaders—tries to use Quantum Physics to prove that God indwells his creation.
The coming together of the new biology and the new physics is providing the basic metaphors for this new global civilization that esteems and encourages whole-brain experiences, full-life expectations, personalized expressions, and a globalized consciousness.34—Leonard Sweet, SoulTsunami
When we experience such a quantum of transformation, we may simultaneously feel that the whole of the New Age is happening right now, that we are on the verge of overnight transformation—the fabled quantum leap into a new state of being.35—David Spangler, Reimagination of the World
We have the epitome of a great science . . . quantum physics . . . Everyone is God.36—New Age Channeler J.Z. Knight, What the Bleep Do We Know
In his book The Tao of Physics: An Explanation of the Parallels Between Modern Physics and Eastern Mysticism, New Age physicist Fritjof Capra describes the union of mysticism and the new physics. He wrote “this kind of new spirituality is now being developed by many groups and movements, both within and outside the churches.”37 As an example of how this “new spirituality” is moving into the church, he actually cites one of Leonard Sweet’s “role models” and “heroes”—Matthew Fox.38
When Sweet refers to the new biology and the new physics as metaphors, he stretches these “metaphors” to the position of being actual fact. From his understanding of quantum physics, he asserts that all things are composed of energy and that this quantum energy must be God, hence God is embodied in all things. Yet, this metaphor falls on its face when we learn from Paul’s writings that God and creation are two separate things as is illustrated in chapter one of Romans: “Who changed the truth of God into a lie, and worshipped and served the creature more than the Creator” (Romans 1:25). Paul further exposes the error of spiritualizing physical creation showing that all things are not God, nor are they even spiritual. As he points out, the “earthy” is only temporary and will be done away with:
So also is the resurrection of the dead. It is sown in corruption; it is raised in incorruption . . . There is a natural body, and there is a spiritual body. . . . As is the earthy, such are they also that are earthy: and as is the heavenly, such are they also that are heavenly. . . . Now this I say, brethren, that flesh and blood cannot inherit the kingdom of God; neither doth corruption inherit incorruption. (1 Corinthians 15:42, 44, 48, 50)
Leonard Sweet and Rick Warren’s “New Spirituality”
In their 1995 joint presentation The Tides of Change, Leonard Sweet and Rick Warren had a quantum conversation as they discussed “waves,” “quantum metaphors,” “revival,” and what they were calling—even back then—a “New Spirituality.” Sweet told Warren:
Yeah, this is a wave period. I really love that metaphor of the wave and the wavelength. First of all, it is a quantum metaphor. It brings us out of the Newtonian world into this new science.39
Quantum waves, quantum wavelengths, quantum metaphors—all leading to a universal Quantum “God” and the Quantum New Age “Christ” of a New Spirituality, a New Worldview, and ultimately a New World Religion—a New World Religion that will be based on New Age teachings that have been labeled scientific but are, in reality, “science falsely so called”:
Laying up in store for themselves a good foundation against the time to come, that they may lay hold on eternal life. O Timothy, keep that which is committed to thy trust, avoiding profane and vain babblings, and oppositions of science falsely so called: Which some professing have erred concerning the faith. Grace be with thee. Amen. (1 Timothy 6:19-21)
Teilhard de Chardin, Leonard Sweet, and an ever-growing band of New Age sympathizers would have us believe that all those who preceded us in the faith were unable to “see” the big picture, because, after all, they didn’t have access to all the new scientific discoveries that we have today—scientific information that would have helped them gain the new spiritual understandings that Leonard Sweet claims to have acquired.
In that vein, Leonard Sweet, Rick Warren, and other Christian leaders are now teaching that God is in the process of bringing a new “Reformation”40 and a “great spiritual awakening” to the church. Sweet writes: “God is birthing the greatest spiritual awakening in the history of the church.”41 Yet this new reformation and great awakening Sweet heralds, is falsely founded on his hybridized New Age Christianity with its “radical doctrine of embodiment of God in the very substance of creation.”42 Ironically, while Sweet—as previously mentioned—encourages “a daily ritual” of standing in front of a mirror affirming “God is God and I am not,” he at the same time tells people that, as a part of creation, God is embodied in them. He also encourages people to be “nudgers.” He says “nudgers are not smudgers of the divine in people.”43 “Nudgers help people discover their “inner Jesus.”44
When the true Christ was asked what will be the sign of his coming and the end of the world, He said, “Take heed that no man deceive you.”(Matthew 24:4)—that many false prophets would arise and deceive many (Matthew 24:11). He specifically warned us to beware of false prophets who come in sheep’s clothing. He said we would know them by their fruits.
Beware of false prophets, which come to you in sheep’s clothing, but inwardly they are ravening wolves. Ye shall know them by their fruits. Do men gather grapes of thorns, or figs of thistles? (Matthew 7:15-16)
We must exhort one another daily. We must continue to preach the Word and not fall prey to those who would diminish the Word with their worldly wisdom, clever stories, metaphors, and false teachings. The Bible and our Lord Jesus Christ always have been and always will be sufficient for all our needs.
Preach the word; be instant in season, out of season; reprove, rebuke, exhort with all longsuffering and doctrine. For the time will come when they will not endure sound doctrine; but after their own lusts shall they heap to themselves teachers, having itching ears; And they shall turn away their ears from the truth, and shall be turned unto fables. (2 Timothy 4:2-4)
Regarding Leonard Sweet’s “radical doctrine of embodiment of God in the very substance of creation,” Jesus warns:
Ye hypocrites, well did Esaias prophesy of you, saying, This people draweth nigh unto me with their mouth, and honoureth me with their lips; but their heart is far from me. But in vain they do worship me, teaching for doctrines the commandments of men.45 (Matthew 15: 7-9)
To order copies of Leonard Sweet—A More Magnificent Way of Seeing Christ?, click here.
1. Leonard Sweet, SoulTsunami: Sink or Swim in New Millennium Culture (Grand Rapids, Michigan: Zondervan Publishing House, 1999), p. 28.
2. Warren B. Smith, A “Wonderful” Deception: The Further New Age Implications of the Emerging Purpose Driven Movement (Magalia, CA: Mountain Stream Press, 2009), p. 106.
3. Alice A, Bailey, The Reappearance of the Christ (New York, NY: Lucis Publishing Company, Lucis Press, Ltd., 1948), 1996, p. 150.
4. Benjamin Creme, The Reappearance of the Christ and the Masters of Wisdom (London, England; The Tara Press, 1980), p. 88.
5. Leonard Sweet, SoulTsunami, op. cit., p. 28.
6. Leonard Sweet, Quantum Spirituality: A Postmodern Apologetic (Dayton, OH: Whaleprints for SpiritVenture Ministries, Inc., 1991, 1994), p. 125.
7. Leonard Sweet, SoulTsunami, op. cit., p. 304.
8. Leonard Sweet, Nudge:Awakening Each Other to the God Who Is Already There (Colorado Springs, CO: David C. Cook, 2010), p. 157.
9. Ibid., p. 40.
10. Leonard Sweet, Quantum Spirituality, op. cit., p. 106.
11. Marilyn Ferguson, The Aquarian Conspiracy: Personal and Social Transformation in the 1980s (Los Angeles, CA: J.P. Tarcher, Inc., 1980), p. 50.
12. Ibid., p. 25.
13. Pierre Teilhard de Chardin, Christianity and Evolution (New York, NY: Harcourt Brace Jovanivich, Inc., 1971), p. 56.
14. Ibid,. pp. 219-220.
15. Ibid,. p. 128.
16. Ibid,. p. 95.
17. Ibid,. p. 78.
18. Ibid,. p. 130.
19. Leonard Sweet, Aqua Church: Essential Leadership Arts for Piloting Your Church in Today’s Fluid Culture (Loveland, CO: Group Publishing, Inc., 1999), p. 39.
20. Leonard Sweet and Frank Viola, Jesus Speaks: Learning to Recognize & Respond to the Lord’s Voice (Nashville, TN: W Publishing Group, an imprint of Thomas Nelson, 2016), p. 85.
21. Leonard Sweet, Quantum Spirituality, op. cit., p. viii.
22. Willis Harman, Global Mind Change: The New Age Revolution in the Way We Think (New York, NY: Warner Books, 1988), front cover.
23. Matthew Fox, The Coming of the Cosmic Christ: The Healing of Mother Earth and the Birth of a Global Renaissance (San Francisco, CA: Harper & Row Publishers, 1988), p. 154.
24. Ibid., p. 137.
25. Leonard Sweet, Quantum Spirituality, op cit., pp. 124, 324.
26. M. Scott Peck, The Road Less Traveled: A New Psychology of Love, Traditional Values and Spiritual Growth (New York, NY: Simon & Schuster, 1978), p. 281.
28. M. Scott Peck, The Different Drum: Community Making and Peace (New York, NY: Simon & Schuster, 1988), pp. 205-206.
29. David Spangler and William Irwin Thompson, Reimagination of the World: A Critique of the New Age, Science, and Popular Culture (Santa Fe, NM: Bear & Company Publishing, 1991), p. 62.
30. Leonard Sweet, Quantum Spirituality, op. cit., p. 312.
31. Ibid., p. ix.
32. David Spangler, The Revelation: Birth of A New Age (Elgin, IL: Lorian Press, 1976), p. 177.
33. Leonard Sweet, Quantum Spirituality, op. cit., p. 312.
34. Leonard Sweet, SoulTsunami, op. cit., p. 121.
35. David Spangler and William Irwin Thompson, Reimagination of the World, op. cit., p. 126.
36. What the Bleep Do We Know (DVD) (20th Century Fox, 2004, http://www.whatthebleep.com), transcribed by author.
37. Fritjof Capra, The Tao of Physics: An Explanation of the Parallels Between Modern Physics and Eastern Mysticism (Boston, MA: Shambhala Publications, Inc., 1999), p. 341.
39. The Tides of Change (A 1995 audio presentation with Leonard Sweet and Rick Warren that was part of an ongoing series called “Choice Voices for Christian Leadership,” distributed by Abington Press). On file with publisher.
40. Leonard Sweet, SoulTsunami, op. cit., p. 17.
41. Ibid., p. 34.
42. Leonard Sweet, Quantum Spirituality, op. cit., p. 125.
43. Leonard Sweet, Nudge, op. cit., p. 31.
44. Ibid., p. 40.
45. Leonard Sweet, Quantum Spirituality, op. cit., p 125.
To order copies of Leonard Sweet—A More Magnificent Way of Seeing Christ?, click here.
As we observe evangelical Christianity being drawn toward “the Mother Church” of Roman Catholicism, it is amazing to see how very few Christian leaders speak up about this. On the contrary, one after the next, Christian leaders are succumbing to this ecumenical, interfaith last-days apostasy of merging evangelicalism into the Catholic fold. Lighthouse Trails has reported on numerous examples of highly influential evangelical leaders heading in this direction: Rick Warren, Beth Moore, James Robison, and Ken Copeland to name a few.
Today, we received two different e-mails that provided information to show the continuance of this evangelical move toward Rome. In the first e-mail sent by Roger Oakland of Understand the Times, Calvary Chapel Costa Mesa senior pastor Brian Brodersen was brought to our attention. Brodersen is beginning an online YouTube series called Things That Matter. In his introductory segment, he explains that this new show is going to help believers see “the bigger picture of Christianity.” He says that too often Christians focus on issues that are not important. As we listened to his words, we couldn’t help but be reminded of the words of emerging church pioneer, Leonard Sweet, when he said:
“Christ is in the Church in the same way as the sun is before our eyes. We see the same sun as our fathers saw, and yet we understand it in a much more magnificent way.” (Aqua Church, p.39, emphasis added)
Sweet was actually quoting Pierre Teilhard de Chardin when he said this as Warren B. Smith points out in his book, A “Wonderful” Deception. What is this “more magnificent way” to which Sweet refers? We know what Chardin means by this, and based on our research on Leonard Sweet and the emerging church, Sweet concurs with Chardin. The “more magnificent way” of seeing things is the paradigm shift that brings all religions together as one, removing all “barriers,” and ultimately leading man to believe he is Divine.
Some may say this is a stretch to suggest that Brian Brodersen is thinking this way just because he says “the bigger picture of Christianity.” But is it really a stretch? As we reported earlier this year, Brodersen recently came out publicly promoting the Alpha Course leader, Nicky Gumbel, who is practically in the arms of the papacy and will take millions of Alpha Course participants with him. It was no small thing that a leading Calvary Chapel pastor endorsed Gumbel and the Alpha Course (if you aren’t sure what to think about the Alpha Course, read our recent article by Mary Danielsen and Chris Lawson). While Brodersen is not proclaiming that man is Divine, whether he realizes it or not, he is helping to remove the barriers between evangelical Christianity and Roman Catholicism.
What is this “bigger picture of Christianity” that Brodersen is talking about? Is he just talking about the Christianity that is beyond the Calvary Chapel borders? Of course not; that would be nothing new as many Calvary Chapel pastors, including CC’s founder Chuck Smith have acknowledged that the body of Christ includes believers outside of Calvary Chapel. Calvary Chapel has never claimed that the body of Christ was solely within their own walls. Time will tell what exactly Brodersen means by this “bigger picture of Christianity.” However, from our perspective, it stands to reason that Brodersen’s remarks would resonate with Rick Warren’s when Warren has stated on numerous occasions that Christianity does include the Catholic Church and that we should focus more on what we have in common than in what we don’t. In other words, the bigger picture of Christianity. That is what Warren means. In Brodersen’s Things That Matter segment, he expressed his concern that some in the body of Christ are focusing too much on “non-essential” issues. We are curious as to what those “non-essential” issues are, and we suspect one of those will be criticizing the Catholic Church.
The second e-mail we received today was regarding Calvary Chapel’s leading pastor Greg Laurie. The e-mail stated: “As a former attendee at Harvest Christian Fellowship [Laurie’s church], it saddens me that Pastor Greg gives validity to Mel Gibson. This post was on Pastor Greg’s Instagram.” The Instagram our reader was referring to shows a photo of Greg Laurie, his wife, and Hollywood actor Mel Gibson.
While this may seem to be of no significance at first glance, the message that Laurie included in his Instagram also stated: ” I have good news; this dynamic duo [Gibson and Randall Wallace] is working together on a follow-up of the epic film on the crucifixion of Jesus, The Passion. . . . I am really looking forward to a long-overdue movie about this topic from the man who created a whole new template for telling a biblical story on film, Mel Gibson.”
As veteran author and teacher Roger Oakland has documented in his book, Another Jesus, The Passion film was an attempt by Mel Gibson to “evangelize” evangelicals and drawn them “back to the Mother Church.” As Oakland pointed out, Gibson said:
The goal of the movie [The Passion] is to shake modern audiences by brashly juxtaposing the “sacrifice of the cross with the sacrifice of the altar–which is the same thing.”1
When Gibson says “the sacrifice of the altar,” he is talking about the Catholic Mass, which re-crucifies Christ repeatedly.
Oakland also wrote “The Passion of the Christ Motives Revealed” that brings out more evidence from Gibson himself that The Passion was intended to draw non-Catholics to the Catholic Church. Oakland stated:
The newly released “Definitive Edition” of Mel Gibson’s “The Passion of the Christ” confirms the film was produced with the specific purpose to promote a Roman Catholic agenda that would introduce viewers to the Roman Catholic “Mary” and the Roman Catholic “Jesus.”
One of the statements Mel Gibson made (brought out in Oakland’s article) regarding this Definitive Edition of The Passion was about Mary. Gibson stated: “[S]he was cooperating with this, salvific work. I tried to make that obvious.” You can read several other statements by Gibson with regard to his motive in doing The Passion in the article above.
Read this extract from Another Jesus titled “What Lies Behind Mel Gibson’s The Passion of the Christ,” and you will see that The Passion was an effort to bring “modern audiences” into the Catholic fold. There’s little doubt that Greg Laurie knows of this information from Roger Oakland. Roger was virtually the only Calvary Chapel figure (when he was part of Calvary Chapel) opposing the raving support the evangelical church was giving The Passion when it came out, and he was severely criticized for his opposition; and at the 2005 Calvary Chapel senior pastor’s conference in Murrieta, California, with Chuck Smith’s permission, a copy of Another Jesus was given out to each pastor in attendance.
Laurie’s recent praise on Instagram of Mel Gibson and The Passion isn’t the first time Laurie has shown that he sees “the bigger picture of Christianity.” In 2015, he publicly promoted New Age Catholic Roma Downey.2 And in 2011, there was the LifeFest event where he had no problem sharing a platform with a Catholic priest as you can read in our article “Green Bay Catholic Priest David Ricken leads Mass at Lifefest Before Joint Worship with Greg Laurie” and Roger Oakland’s article “The Pope’s New Evangelization Program: Bishop Ricken, Greg Laurie and Calvary Chapel. ” And, of course, most recently, we reported on The Gathering 2016 taking place this fall where Laurie and other evangelical leaders are coming together in an ecumenical event that has at least one pro-Catholic speaker.
There are too many instances to ignore anymore where Christian leaders are saying OK to joining up with the Roman Catholic Church. And sadly, there is too much silence and apathy from the ranks of the evangelical/Protestant camp. Few voices are speaking up, and when those voices are silenced, all that will be left will be the bigger picture of a false Christianity.
Celebrating the Atonement and the Resurrection While Promoting Contemplative – A Profound Contradiction
In 1922, liberal pastor and theologian Harry Emerson Fosdick stated the following words in his sermon titled “Will the Fundamentalists Win?”:
“It is interesting to note where the Fundamentalists are driving in their stakes to mark out the deadline of doctrine around the church, across which no one is to pass except on terms of agreement. They insist that we must all believe in the historicity of certain special miracles, preeminently the virgin birth of our Lord; that we must believe in a special theory of inspiration-that the original documents of the Scripture, which of course we no longer possess, were inerrantly dictated to men a good deal as a man might dictate to a stenographer; that we must believe in a special theory of the Atonement-that the blood of our Lord, shed in a substitutionary death, placates an alienated Deity and makes possible welcome for the returning sinner.”
Fosdick considered the doctrine of a blood atonement a “slaughterhouse religion”1
What this line of thinking is saying is that while Jesus’ going to the Cross should be looked at as an example of perfect servanthood and sacrifice ( the term servant leader is connected to this), the idea that God would send His Son to a violent death on the Cross is barbaric and would never happen. Thus, Fosdick (and those who adhere to this reasoning) rejects Christ as a substitute for our penalty of sin (“the wages of sin is death” – Romans 6:23).
In Roger Oakland’s book, Faith Undone, in the chapter titled “Slaughterhouse Religion” (see extract below), he shows where contemplatives and emerging church leaders hold to the same view. This is easy to understand how they could be like this when one understands the underlying panentheistic nature of contemplative prayer. In other words, contemplative mystics believe that man is divine (i.e., that God/divinity dwells in all creation – all humans in particularly). If man is divine, then he does not need to have anyone make atonement for him. A substitutionary death (taking a sinner’s place) on the Cross would not be necessary and in fact, would be an insult to man’s own divine nature. It would be humiliating. Like contemplative mystic monk Thomas Merton said (quoted by Leonard Sweet in Quantum Spirituality), if we really knew what was in each one of us, we would bow down and worship one another. He and other contemplatives say that man’s biggest problem isn’t a sinful nature; no, it’s that he does not realize he is divine. Do all these pastors and professors who promote contemplative figures realize this is what they are really promoting?
During this time of the year, when most churches are holding Easter services (traditionally in honor of the death and resurrection of Jesus), how many of these same churches are clinging to contemplative/emerging spirituality without even comprehending what it really stands for (and some do realize it). If Jesus’ going to the Cross and shedding blood was merely an act of service and sacrifice, an example for others to follow, and was not actually a substitutionary payment for the sins of humanity, then why celebrate Easter and the resurrection? It would make no sense. Those churches who cling to contemplative/emergent ideologies and practices should consider this. While they cling to one (contemplative), they’re on the road to denying the other (the atonement) . . . even if they don’t realize it.
Below is an extract from Faith Undone on “Slaughterhouse Religion”:
“The Cross is Barbarity & a Slaughterhouse Religion – So Says Emerging Church Leaders”
by Roger Oakland
In whom we have redemption through his blood, the forgiveness of sins, according to the riches of his grace. (Ephesians 1:7)
For he hath made him to be sin for us, who knew no sin; that we might be made the righteousness of God in him. (II Corinthians 5:21)
The heart and core of the Christian faith is based upon Jesus Christ’s shed blood at Calvary as the only acceptable substitutionary atonement for mankind’s sins. The Gospel message requires this foundation. The Bible says the wages of sin is death—thus every person alive should receive the penalty of spiritual death because none of us is without sin, since we are born with our sin nature intact. Satan hates the Gospel message. He understands what the Gospel means, and his agenda is to deceive mankind from understanding and believing so they can suffer eternally with him. While Scripture is very clear about the necessity of Christ’s death in order for us to be saved, some believe this would make God a blood-thirsty barbarian. Embedded within the structure of the emerging church is just such a belief.
Many in the emerging church movement would vehemently object if someone told them that emerging church leaders don’t like the Cross. They would jump up and say, “Yes, they do. I’ve heard them talk about Jesus and His going to the Cross. They say they love the Cross.”
Some emerging church leaders do say they love the Cross, but an underlying theme is gaining momentum among them. It says Jesus’ going to the Cross was an example of sacrifice and servanthood that we should follow; but the idea that God would send His Son to a violent death for the sins of mankind—well, that is not who God is. A loving God would never do that! Such a violent act would make Christianity a “slaughterhouse religion.”1 Liberal theologian and pastor of the Riverside Church in New York City, the late Harry Emerson Fosdick (1878-1969), believed that the doctrine of the atonement, where “Jesus suffered as a substitute for us” because of our sins, is a “precivilized barbarity.”2
In his book, The Modern Use of the Bible, Fosdick says that Jesus’ going to the Cross should be seen as an example of a life of service and sacrifice and not compared with “old animal sacrifices” and “made ‘a pious fraud’ played by God upon the devil.”3 In Fosdick’s book Dear Mr. Brown, he states:
Too many theories of the atonement assume that by one single high priestly act of self-sacrifice Christ saved the world.4
Fosdick ends that statement with a pronounced—“No!” He insists, “These legalistic theories of the atonement are in my judgment a theological disgrace.”5
Fosdick considered the idea that God would actually send His Son to die on a Cross to take our place to be the basis for a violent and bloody religion. He rejected the biblical message of an atonement and substitutionary sacrifice.
Fosdick was the pastor of Riverside Church of New York City from 1925 to 1946. While he has been long gone, his ideologies have remained intact and have drifted right into the emerging church. In October 2006, Riverside Church held the 5th Fosdick Convocation in honor of their former pastor. Two of the emerging church’s most influential teachers were there as speakers in honor of Fosdick—Brian McLaren and Tony Campolo.6 As I will show you, McLaren resonates with Fosdick’s view of the Cross.
False Advertising for God
In an interview, Brian McLaren questioned the idea of God sending His Son to a violent death, calling it “false advertising for God”:
[O]ne of the huge problems is the traditional understanding of hell. Because if the cross is in line with Jesus’ teaching then—I won’t say, the only, and I certainly won’t say even the primary—but a primary meaning of the cross is that the kingdom of God doesn’t come like the kingdoms of this world, by inflicting violence and coercing people. But that the kingdom of God comes through suffering and willing, voluntary sacrifice. But in an ironic way, the doctrine of hell basically says, no, that’s not really true. That in the end, God gets His way through coercion and violence and intimidation and domination, just like every other kingdom does. The cross isn’t the center then. The cross is almost a distraction and false advertising for God. (emphasis added)7
What an extraordinary example of faith under attack and the consequences of thinking outside of the box. If McLaren is right, all those who have ever lived and believed in Christ’s atonement have been misled and wrong. McLaren has taken the freedom to reconstruct what faith means by distorting the Scriptures, or worse yet, saying the very opposite of what the inspired Word of God says. This is blasphemy! McLaren also states:
And I heard one well-known Christian leader, who—I won’t mention his name, just to protect his reputation. ‘Cause some people would use this against him. But I heard him say it like this: The traditional understanding says that God asks of us something that God is incapable of Himself. God asks us to forgive people. But God is incapable of forgiving. God can’t forgive unless He punishes somebody in place of the person He was going to forgive. God doesn’t say things to you—Forgive your wife, and then go kick the dog to vent your anger. God asks you to actually forgive. And there’s a certain sense that, a common understanding of the atonement presents a God who is incapable of forgiving. Unless He kicks somebody else.8
That God Does Not Exist
This idea of rejecting God’s judgment placed on Jesus Christ instead of us is not exclusive with Fosdick or McLaren. In fact, such rejection is integrated into the teachings of many others. In 1991, William Shannon (biographer of Catholic monk and mystic Thomas Merton) said:
This is a typical patriarchal notion of God. He is the God of Noah who sees people deep in sin, repents that He made them and resolves to destroy them. He is the God of the desert who sends snakes to bite His people because they murmured against Him. He is the God of David who practically decimates a people … He is the God who exacts the last drop of blood from His Son, so that His just anger, evoked by sin, may be appeased. This God whose moods alternate between graciousness and fierce anger … This God does not exist.12
So in other words, according to Fosdick, McLaren, and Shannon, Jesus should be seen as a model of sacrifice to follow in our own lives, but to view God the Father as a judge against sin is not a proper view of God. Those who reject the atonement realize the greatest threat to their heretical views is those who take the Scriptures literally and seriously. Fosdick explains:
Were you to talk to that fundamentalist preacher, he doubtless would insist that you must believe in the “substitutionary” theory of atonement—namely, that Jesus suffered as a substitute for us the punishment due us for our sins. But can you imagine a modern courtroom in a civilized country where an innocent man would be deliberately punished for another man’s crime? … [S]ubstitutionary atonement … came a long way down in history in many a penal system. But now it is a precivilized barbarity; no secular court would tolerate the idea for a moment; only in certain belated theologies is it retained as an explanation of our Lord’s death … Christ’s sacrificial life and death are too sacred to be so misrepresented.13
This is another perfect example of how the emerging church turns doctrine it doesn’t understand into a mockery against Scripture and God’s plan of salvation. God’s ways are not our ways and to expect them to line up with our own human reasoning is ludicrous:
For my thoughts are not your thoughts, neither are your ways my ways, saith the LORD. For as the heavens are higher than the earth, so are my ways higher than your ways, and my thoughts than your thoughts. (Isaiah 55:8-9)
Former Catholic priest Brennan Manning has been a major influence in emerging spirituality. In his 2003 book Above All (foreword by singer Michael W. Smith)he quotes William Shannon almost word for word, regarding the atonement:
[T]he god whose moods alternate between graciousness and fierce anger … the god who exacts the last drop of blood from his Son so that his just anger, evoked by sin, may be appeased, is not the God revealed by and in Jesus Christ. And if he is not the God of Jesus, he does not exist.14
Dying for the Sins of the World
Marcus Borg [was] Distinguished Professor in Religion and Culture and Hundere Endowed Chair in Religious Studies at Oregon State University. He is a lecturer and the author of several books, some of which are Jesus and Buddha, The God We Never Knew, and Reading the Bible Again for the First Time: Taking the Bible Seriously But not Literally. While most would not consider him an emerging church leader, his thinking has greatly influenced the movement and its leaders. Brian McLaren says he has “high regard”15 for Borg; the two of them participated in a summer seminar series at an interspiritual center in Portland, Oregon, in 2006.16 Rob Bell references and praises him in Bell’s popular book Velvet Elvis.17 Walter Brueggemann, a professor at Columbia Theological Seminary and one of the contributors for Richard Foster’s Renovare Spiritual Formation Study Bible, considers Borg an essential part of the emerging spirituality. Brueggemann states:
Marcus Borg is a key force in the emerging “new paradigm” of Christian faith.18
Borg explains in his book The God We Never Knew that his views on God, the Bible, and Christianity were transformed while he was in seminary:
I let go of the notion that the Bible is a divine product. I learned that it is a human cultural product, the product of two ancient communities, biblical Israel and early Christianity. As such, it contained their understandings and affirmations, not statements coming directly or somewhat directly from God.… I realized that whatever “divine revelation” and the “inspiration of the Bible” meant (if they meant anything), they did not mean that the Bible was a divine product with divine authority.19
This attitude would certainly explain how Borg could say:
Jesus almost certainly was not born of a virgin, did not think of himself as the Son of God, and did not see his purpose as dying for the sins of the world.20
If what Borg is saying is true, then we would have to throw out John 3:16 which says God so loved the world He gave His only Son, and we would have to dismiss the theme of a blood offering that is prevalent throughout all of Scripture. In the Old Testament, it is clear:
For the life of the flesh is in the blood: and I have given it to you upon the altar to make an atonement for your souls: for it is the blood that maketh an atonement for the soul. (Leviticus 17:11)
But Borg rejects this emphasis:
To think that the central meaning of Easter [resurrection] depends upon something spectacular happening to Jesus’ corpse misses the point of the Easter message and risks trivializing the story. To link Easter primarily to our hope for an afterlife, as if our post-death existence depends upon God having transformed the corpse of Jesus, is to reduce the story to a politically-domesticated yearning for our survival beyond death.21
What is behind this mindset? Listen to one New Ager describe what underlies this line of thought:
Jesus was an historical person, a human becoming Christ, the Christos, is an eternal transpersonal condition of being. Jesus did not say that this higher state of consciousness realized in him was his alone for all time. Nor did he call us to worship him. Rather, he called us to follow him, to follow in his steps, to learn from him, from his example.22
Harry Fosdick would resonate with this. When he says, “Christ’s sacrificial life and death are too sacred to be so misrepresented,” he means that Christ is an example to be followed, not an innocent sacrifice for our guilt and thus worthy of praise and worship. Satan wants desperately to be worshiped and adored as God. He hates all that Jesus’ death stands for. Jesus Christ, God in the flesh, purchased with His own blood the lives of those written in the Book of Life.
The Bible says, “without the shedding of blood is no remission” (Hebrews 9:22), and also, “He appeared to put away sin by the sacrifice of Himself” (Hebrews 9:26). Are we to reject these Scriptures and other ones as well that speak of the atonement because it doesn’t sound logical? Scripture tells us that the carnal mind is at enmity with God. We need to recognize that the Bible is God’s revelation of Himself to man. It is our final authority, and we must adhere to the truth of its teachings.
Herein is love, not that we loved God, but that he loved us, and sent his Son to be the propitiation for our sins.… And we have seen and do testify that the Father sent the Son to be the Saviour of the world. (I John 4:10, 14)
To Lighthouse Trails:
What is “The Voice” translation of the Bible and what do you think of it?
Our answer (from a 2007 LT article):
According to an article in Christian Today, “New Bible Project for Young Generation Launched”, Thomas Nelson’s 2006 “Bible” project called The Voice is going full speed ahead. The project, announced by TN last spring, is a “re-telling of the Bible that consists of creative voices from historians to poets, storytellers to songwriters,” and is for young people who are “searching for new ways to explore the Bible, or who are seeking to read it for the first time.” The project will be a combination of books, music CDs, artwork and an interactive website. With the largest Christian publisher backing the project, there is little doubt that The Voice will reach countless young people and have a significant impact in many lives.
Unfortunately, the project turns out to be an emerging church creation, thus the foundation of it is marred from the beginning. Because mysticism, New Age ideology, and a return to Rome, are the building blocks of the emerging church, The Voice is going to be a spiritually dangerous conduit for adherents. Some of the emergent leaders involved in the project are Chris Seay (project founder), Brian McLaren, Lauren Winner, Leonard Sweet, and Blue Like Jazz author, Donald Miller. In last year’s press release by Thomas Nelson, Erwin McManus was also listed.
This month’s new release (the third book in the project) is called The Voice of Matthew, written by emergent/contemplative Lauren Winner (Girl Meets God and Mudhouse Sabbath).
Chris Seay, the founder of The Voice, is pastor of Ecclesia Church in Houston, Texas. A mission statement on the website illustrates the theology of the emerging church:
We believe that the Gospel impacts every area of a person’s life and culture. We reject unfounded categories that divide the world into uniquely sacred or purely secular. God is redeeming all of creation through Jesus.
We believe that the church exists for the world and not for herself – she is to introduce and usher in the Kingdom of God into every part of this world.
Saying that all of creation (e.g., all humanity) is redeemed is in direct opposition of the teachings of Jesus who said “strait is the gate, and narrow is the way, which leadeth unto life, and few there be that find it” (Matthew 7:14). And the belief that the church will usher in the Kingdom of God as opposed to Jesus Christ ushering it in with his literal return to the earth is indicative of the contemplative/emerging mindset. (It is also classic dominionism.)
The contemplative affinities of the contributors of The Voice will assure that mysticism will be an integral part of this project. This new version of the Bible has the potential to lead thousands, and possibly millions, of young people away from the words of Jesus Christ who said:
Verily, verily, I say unto you, He that entereth not by the door into the sheepfold, but climbeth up some other way, the same is a thief and a robber. But he that entereth in by the door is the shepherd of the sheep. To him the porter openeth; and the sheep hear his voice: and he calleth his own sheep by name, and leadeth them out. And when he putteth forth his own sheep, he goeth before them, and the sheep follow him: for they know his voice. (John 10: 1-4)
We contend that The Voice is not the voice of the Good Shepherd, nor is it the Word of God that says:
He that hath the Son hath life; and he that hath not the Son of God hath not life. These things have I written unto you that believe on the name of the Son of God; that ye may know that ye have eternal life, and that ye may believe on the name of the Son of God.” (I John 5:12-13)
To understand more about the emerging church and the new missiology, read Roger Oakland’s book Faith Undone.
George Barna and Frank Viola: Have No Problem with the “New Spirituality,” But Preaching, Pastors, and Pews Are Pagan
By Philip Gray
Free Lance Writer for Lighthouse Trails
In Pagan Christianity, Frank Viola and George Barna tell readers “Reading this book takes courage.” We couldn’t agree more, but not for the same reasons that Viola and Barna warn their readers. They tell us that it takes courage, not because of what the books says but because of what a Christian must do after he or she reads it (p. 253). We say it takes courage because of the misrepresentation the authors have given to Christianity and because the book is a smoke screen for the “new” spirituality.
Basically, according to Pagan Christianity, if you are a Christian and you have been participating in any of the following activities, you have been practicing paganism:
1. Meeting in a building for church
2. Listening to a sermon
3. Having a pastor
4. Paying that pastor a salary
5. Sunday School lessons
6. Sitting in a pew (or balcony)
7. Using a pulpit
8. Using some sort of order to the church service, which includes taking an offering, having communion, giving announcements, and singing songs of worship.
9. Dressing up for church
10. Having a choir
11. Altar call
12. Evangelized to save a soul
After reading this list, how did you rate on that? How many of these activities are you guilty of? Did you go to church last Sunday? Did you put on your best outfit? Did you listen to a choir sing? Did that neighbor you bring respond to an altar call to give his life to Jesus Christ? Did you sit and listen to your pastor teach or preach the Word? Well, according to Pagan Christianity, if you did, you are more like a pagan than like a Christian. Of these activities, Barna and Viola say: “Such practices are foreign elements that God’s people picked up from their pagan neighbors” (p. xx).
The point of this review is not to defend all of these practices in and of themselves. The point is to show that this book is another subtle stab at traditional Christianity, a stab that attempts to make Christians feel guilty for just about everything they do that has to do with going to church . . . everything that is, that is external. This book has absolutely nothing to do with the heart condition of man, nothing to do with sin and repentance but is merely a smoke screen to cover up the real issues that are plaguing the church today. For whether one dresses up for church or not, whether one gives a sermon or not, whether one sings or not, whether one gives an offering or not, and whether one sits in a pew or not, the issue that God looks at is the condition of the heart and not the outward appearances. One can sit in a pew and have evil intent in his heart; another can sit in a pew and be a godly humble man of God. It’s not the pew that makes him one or the other.
Judge not according to the appearance, but judge righteous judgment. John 7:24
[F]or the LORD seeth not as man seeth; for man looketh on the outward appearance, but the LORD looketh on the heart. 1 Samuel 16:7
Pagan Christianity says that “the great bulk of first-century practices have been removed from the Christian landscape.” The book tells readers that “such practices are presently being restored on a small scale by those daring souls who have taken the terrifying step of leaving the safe camp of institutional Christianity” (p. xviii). But the book never really tells us what those practices are, except to continually say it is something spectacular that excludes the above activities and includes small groups of people who stand around in circles, embracing, and sharing with one another their various thoughts, feelings, songs, prayers, and ideas – according to Viola and Barna, that is what makes a person a good New Testament Christian (i.e., nobody’s wrong, everybody’s right, all opinions are good, and we don’t need pastors or teachers).
While there is certainly nothing wrong, in and of itself, for a group of people to stand in a circle and share with one another, it is not a guarantee that the group of people will be abiding in God’s will in their lives. And, in fact, if Viola’s and Barna’s recipe for proper Christian living is acted upon, that group of people in the circle is probably going to be in trouble because rather than having the Word of God taught to them or preached to them by those who are called into the office of teacher or pastor, they will be “dialoguing” with one another, asking a lot of questions, and never coming up with any answers (because the postmodern isn’t supposed to have any actual answers – having answers offends).
What is the real agenda of Pagan Christianity? Well, this much we can say, it sure isn’t to warn believers against true pagan practices and beliefs such as eastern-style meditation, walking through labyrinths, doing Yoga, focusing on the breath, rejecting the atonement, and so forth. In a day when spiritual deception is at an all time high, when growing numbers of Christian leaders, churches, schools, and organizations are falling into the trap of practicing, promoting, and embracing mysticism and other New Age practices (disguised with Christian terminology, by the way), it hardly seems appropriate and wise to tell Christians to stop sitting in pews, stop having sermons (and pastors for that matter), stop meeting in buildings, end all Sunday School lessons, and by all means stop dressing up on Sundays.
Perhaps what is most distressing about this book is that there is an underlying sentiment that the “preaching” and teaching of God’s Word is not a New Testament practice and should be done away with. Perhaps this is the real message of Pagan Christianity. Rather than have the Word presented and preached as if it is an authoritative source for believers, get rid of all the venues in which it is presented (church buildings, sermons, pastors, pews,pulpits, etc.) as such and turn it into something we can all debate, dispute, question, challenge and reinvent.
What we would call Pagan Christianity is a perfect example of “missing the point.” But with Frank Viola co-authoring a book with New Age sympathizer Leonard Sweet and George Barna, a Rick Warren look alike with a dominionist agenda, is that really any wonder that they have missed the point?
I have preached righteousness in the great congregation: lo, I have not refrained my lips, O LORD, thou knowest. Psalm 40:9
The Spirit of the Lord GOD is upon me; because the LORD hath anointed me to preach good tidings unto the meek; he hath sent me to bind up the brokenhearted, to proclaim liberty to the captives, and the opening of the prison to them that are bound. Isaiah 61:1
Arise, go unto Nineveh, that great city, and preach unto it the preaching that I bid thee. Jonah 3:2
From that time Jesus began to preach, and to say, Repent: for the kingdom of heaven is at hand. Matthew 4:17
Notwithstanding the Lord stood with me, and strengthened me; that by me the preaching might be fully known, and that all the Gentiles might hear: 2 Timothy 4:17
Preach the word; be instant in season, out of season; reprove, rebuke, exhort with all long suffering and doctrine. 2 Timothy 4:2