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 pantheist aspect of Christianity.1 Pierre Teilhard de Chardin
Now I realize that, on the model of the incarnate God whom Christianity reveals to me, I can be saved only by becoming one with the universe. Thereby, too, my deepest ‘pantheist’ aspirations are satisfied.2 Chardin
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.3 Chardin
“[Pierre Teilhard de Chardin] is twentieth-century Christianity’s major voice.” 4 Leonard Sweet
(by Warren B. Smith from A “Wonderful” Deception)
“As Christian As Anyone Can Get”
Given all of Leonard Sweet’s New Age/New Spirituality sympathies, Rick Warren has continued to work with Sweet and promote him rather than separate himself from him and expose him as the Bible admonishes him to do:
And have no fellowship with the unfruitful works of darkness, but rather reprove them. (Ephesians 5:11)
There is an interesting twist here. Richard Abanes—Rick Warren’s most outspoken apologist and someone who has written extensively on the New Age—actually wrote an article defending Leonard Sweet and Warren’s involvement with him. In a 2008 article titled “Leonard Sweet, Rick Warren and the New Age,” Abanes writes:
Doctrinally/theologically, Leonard Sweet is about as Christian as anyone can get.5
Unbelievable! The man who consults with New Age leader David Spangler and describes [New Agers] Willis Harman, Matthew Fox, and M. Scott Peck as his “personal role models” and “heroes” is “about as Christian as anyone can get?” Perhaps Abanes has forgotten what he once wrote about Peck and Spangler in his 1995 book The Less Traveled Road and the Bible: A Scriptural Critique of the Philosophy of M. Scott Peck. In this book that Abanes co-wrote with H. Wayne House, in a section written by Abanes, he writes very forthrightly about Peck’s and Spangler’s involvement in the New Age movement. Describing both Peck and Spangler as “New Agers” and warning about their promotion of the New Age concept of “oneness,” Abanes writes:
Peck is echoing a concept found in Hinduism and Buddhism, namely, that all reality is oneness and that what we perceive to be individuality is an illusion . . . . The above concept is a major tenet of the New Age movement, as New Age spokesperson David Spangler demonstrates when he writes, “Oneness is a key concept. In a spiritual sense, the world has always been one. . . .”
Like all New Agers, Peck embraces the belief that realization of our oneness with God—or our own godhood—is essential to spiritual growth and freedom from problems. Attaining godhood is really the only reason we exist. Realization of our divinity is also the whole purpose behind evolution, which is another “miracle” to Peck.6
Given these strong warnings, why is Richard Abanes now defending Leonard Sweet from those who are concerned about Sweet’s enchantment with the same M. Scott Peck and David Spangler that Abanes had previously exposed as New Agers? Rather than taking Sweet to task for aligning himself with New Agers like Peck and Spangler, Abanes takes Sweet’s critics to task. Almost inexplicably, Abanes admonishes Sweet’s critics for suggesting there are New Age implications not only to Sweet’s teachings but also to Rick Warren’s involvement with Sweet. This seems to contradict his own past writings about Peck, Spangler, and the New Age.
As an apologist for Rick Warren, Abanes obviously wishes to protect Warren. But in this case he is hurting him more than helping him. In refusing to acknowledge the New Age implications of Warren’s involvement with a New Age sympathizer like Leonard Sweet, Abanes does a great disservice to the body of Christ—and to Rick Warren himself.
One final note of irony in regard to Richard Abanes, Leonard Sweet, M. Scott Peck, and the New Age. In the introduction to his 1995 book about M. Scott Peck, Abanes actually quoted from the journal article I had written about Peck earlier that same year. In my article, which was titled “M. Scott Peck: Community and the Cosmic Christ,” I described how Peck had initiated a spiritual “revolution” that was attempting to redefine biblical Christianity with deceptive New Age teachings that came in the name of Christ. Recognizing the validity of my warnings about Peck and the New Age, Abanes opened his book by favorably quoting me. He wrote:
Christian author Warren Smith notes in a 1995 article for the SCP Journal that Peck single-handedly “helped to spark a spiritual revolution that is still going on today.” Peck’s influence on the Christian church has been especially strong since his alleged conversion in 1980 to Christianity. Smith explains:
“His [Peck’s] writings over the last decade or so have also caused Christians to reexamine their faith in light of his teachings. His books are often found in Christian bookstores. There is no question that his writings and his endorsements of others have had a profound impact on the spiritual marketplace.”7
Doesn’t Richard Abanes see that the statement he quoted from my article back then is just as applicable today? That this same deceptive “spiritual revolution” is still going on? Only now, M. Scott Peck’s “spiritual revolution” is coming even more directly from within the church through New Age sympathizers like Leonard Sweet and others. (By Warren B. Smith from chapter, 11 of A “Wonderful” Deception.)
LTRP P.S.For those who believe that Leonard Sweet is “as Christian as anyone can get,” consider the following two quotes from Sweet and Brian McLaren’s book, A is for Abductive:
“This book would not have been possible without a deep compatibility of perspectives between Brian [McLaren] and me. – “Preface by Leonard Sweet” (p. 10) of A is for Abductive
“I needed to seek out some new mentors, and Len [Sweet] was the first on my list. “Preface by Brian McLaren” (p. 13) from A is for Abductive
1. Pierre Teilhard de Chardin, Christianity and Evolution (Harcourt, 1969), p. 56
2. Ibid., p. 128.
3. Ibid., p. 95.
4. Leonard Sweet, Quantum Spirituality(Dayton, OH, Whaleprints, 1994), p. 106
5. Richard Abanes, “Leonard Sweet, Rick Warren, and the New Age,” http://web.archive.org/web/20080214224312/http://abanes.com/warren_sweet.html.
6. Richard Abanes and H. Wayne House, The Less Traveled Road and the Bible: A Scriptural Critique of the Philosophy of M. Scott Peck (Camp Hill, PA: Horizon Books, 1995), pp. 28-29.
7. Ibid., pp. 2-3.