by Warren Smith
Leonard Sweet is definitely one of the point men for today’s emerging/postmodern/Purpose Driven Church. As Rick Warren has aligned himself with Sweet, it is important to remember that Sweet has described former and present New Age figures as his “heroes” and “role models.” He has openly acknowledged that his quantum “new cell theory” understanding of “new light leadership” was formulated with the help of veteran New Age leader David Spangler. Additionally, Sweet describes mystical New Age priest Pierre Teilhard de Chardin as “Twentieth-century Christianity’s major voice.”1 And while Sweet’s almost “in your face” New Age sympathies are there for all to see, Rick Warren, and other Christian figures continue to hold him in high esteem. But it is just business as usual as Warren’s apologist tells us that “Doctrinally/theologically, Leonard Sweet is about as Christian as anyone can get.”2
In his 2009 book So Beautiful, Leonard Sweet underscores his quantum “relational worldview”3 by favorably quoting from William Young’s The Shack regarding relationship.4 He also tells readers to look to Margaret Wheatley’s Leadership and the New Science to further understand his quantum view on the “spiritual and social significance of relationship.”5 And he still continues to refer readers back to his 1991 book, Quantum Spirituality.6
While appearing to be somewhat of a 21st century renaissance man who leaves everyone in the wake of his postmodern intellect, Leonard Sweet’s “scientific” postmodern/quantum/New Age view on things raises some critical questions—particularly in regard to his association with Rick Warren. If Warren, Sweet, and other Christian leaders continue to move the church towards the New Spirituality, how will it ultimately play out? Will we see Warren, Schuller, Sweet, McLaren, and other “New Light” leaders signing a mutual accord someday affirming that God is “in” everything? Will that proclamation be based on new “scientific findings” from quantum physics? Will they explain that Pierre Teilhard de Chardin and the “God” of Neale Donald Walsch and William Young had it right—that “the sub-atomic reality” is that God is in every atom? That God really is—scientifically speaking—“in” everyone and everything?
But what about the inevitable reaction that will come from those referred to by Rick Warren as “fundamentalists”7 when they accuse Warren of flip-flopping? Will Warren defend his new worldview by repeating what he said at the Saddleback Civil Forum—that “sometimes flip-flopping is smart because you actually have decided a better position based on knowledge that you didn’t have”? Armed with seemingly scientific “facts” from quantum physics, will Warren defend his new worldview by stating, “That’s not flip-flopping. Sometimes that’s growing in wisdom”? Is this where Warren, Sweet, and other Christian leaders will try to take the church? Are they about to take a big “quantum leap” into the New Spirituality of a New Age that is based on the findings of the “new science”? Given the continued New Age implications of the emerging Purpose Driven movement, it would seem that this is a real possibility. (from A “Wonderful” Deception, chapter 13)
1. Leonard Sweet, Quantum Spirituality, op. cit., p. 106.
2. Richard Abanes, “Leonard Sweet, Rick Warren, and the New Age,” http://web.archive.org/web/20090315041827/http://abanes.com/warren_sweet.html.
3. Leonard Sweet, So Beautiful (Colorado Springs, CO: David C. Cook, 2009), p. 279, #118.
4. Ibid., p. 101.
5. Ibid., p. 256, #22.
6. Ibid., p. 278, #107.
7. Rick Warren referred to “Christian fundamentalism” as “one of the big enemies of the 21st century.” See: Paul Nussbaum, “The purpose-driven pastor,” Philadelphia Inquirer, Jan. 08, 2006, http://web.archive.org/web/20060522084523/www.philly.com/mld/inquirer/living/religion/13573441.htm?template=contentModules/printstory.jsp.
On May 23, 2005, Rick Warren spoke at the Pew Forum on Religion and stated the following: “Today there really aren’t that many Fundamentalists left; I don’t know if you know that or not, but they are such a minority; there aren’t that many Fundamentalists left in America. . . . Now the word ‘fundamentalist’ actually comes from a document in the 1920s called the Five Fundamentals of the Faith. And it is a very legalistic, narrow view of Christianity.” See: “Myths of the Modern Megachurch,” http://pewforum.org/events/index.php?EventID=80.