In the January 24th issue of Southern Baptist Theological Seminary’s Towers magazine sits a review of Leonard Sweet’s recent book, Jesus Manifesto (p. 11). The review states that Sweet’s book “can be a good resource for young and old Christians alike.” The review was written by Towers managing editor Aaron Cline Hanbury who on his own blog recommends “grounded” Christians read Rob Bell’s book, Velvet Elviswhere Bell tells readers to study New Age mystic and tantric sex advocate Ken Wilber for three months for a “mind-blowing introduction to emergence theory and divine creativity [panentheism (God in all) and pantheism (all is God)]” (p.192 V.E.).
Leonard Sweet and Rob Bell are promoters of the “new” spirituality which ultimately leads followers away from the Gospel of Jesus Christ. On Sweet’s Jesus Manifesto website, Sweet tells readers that Christians have put too much focus on things like “doctrines” and need a “real experience” instead. This is the heart-cry of most leaders in the emerging church movement and can be a subtle trap that leads people away from the belief that the Bible is the unchanging sure and trustworthy Word of God.
Sweet clearly lays out his spirituality in his book, Quantum Spirituality, where he lists many New Agers such as Matthew Fox and Ken Wilber, calling them his “New Light” “role models” and “heroes” (see acknowledgments of QS). Some have questioned as to whether Sweet still adheres to what he said in Quantum Spirituality because it was written 20 years ago. However, Sweet still carries the book on his website, calling it a “spirituality classic” and has referenced to it in more recent books such as So Beautiful (p. 278). Sweet admits that QS is his “‘coming out’ book as a postmodern disciple.”
To show that Sweet still adheres to the beliefs he wrote about in Quantum Spirituality, may we draw your attention to Sweet’s 2010 book, Nudge. Sweet subtitles the book “Awakening Each Other to the God Who’s Already There.” This is taken from Thomas Merton who believed that God was in every human being and they just need to realize He is already there. Sweet quoted Merton inQuantum Spirituality saying “We are already one. But we imagine that we are not” (p. 13). This is where Sweet was talking about the TOE (the Theory of Everything, meaning the God in all things). It would make perfect sense that he would end that section of his book with that quote by Merton because Merton believed that God was indeed in all things. Listen to this quote by Merton:
It is a glorious destiny to be a member of the human race, … now I realize what we all are.… If only they [people] could all see themselves as they really are … I suppose the big problem would be that we would fall down and worship each other.… At the center of our being is a point of nothingness which is untouched by sin and by illusions, a point of pure truth.… This little point … is the pure glory of God in us. It is in everybody Conjectures of a Guilty Bystander, pp. 157-158, taken from A Time of Departing by Ray Yungen)
When Sweet’s subtitle of his 2010 book Nudge says “Awakening Each Other to the God Who’s Already There,” this isn’t referring to born-again Christians because they already know the Lord lives in them through Jesus Christ. He is referring to the human race, echoing his New Light leader, Thomas Merton, whom he did quote in Nudge when Merton stated: “The gate of heaven is everywhere” (Conjectures of a Guilty Bystander, p. 263). Bear in mind that the indwelling of Jesus Christ in the born again believer is an entirely different thing than what Merton and other contemplatives mean in “the God who’s already there.” This is not having Jesus Christ (God) living in you; this is you yourself being Divine (i.e., a panentheistic or pantheistic view of God). The Bible itself makes this distinction when it separates the Creator from the Creation (Romans 125).
So when Southern Baptist Theological Seminary editor suggests that a book by Leonard Sweet is a “good resource for young and old Christians alike,” does SBTS realize that when you get Sweet, you get Merton, and when you get Merton, you get panentheism.
Some people may say, “Well, Sweet’s book Jesus Manifesto doesn’t have the same elements as Nudge or Quantum Spirituality,so THAT book is OK.” But that doesn’t make any sense. Why recommend a book from someone who appears to be double-minded in his views? And both Nudge and Jesus Manifesto are published in the same year, so one can hardly say that Sweet changed his mind between the publications of the two books! The Bible clearly states that we cannot serve both God and man. At best, this presents utter confusion for readers and followers, leaving a hazy distorted view of the true Gospel. And by Sweet’s Jesus Manifesto website, the book is intended to help readers minimize the emphasis on “doctrine;” but doctrine happens to be the defining core of our Christian faith. Throw out doctrine, and you throw out the truth of God’s word, and faith becomes a free-falling escapade of heresy.
“No man can serve two masters: for either he will hate the one, and love the other; or else he will hold to the one, and despise the other. Ye cannot serve God and mammon.” Matthew 6:23-25