The 2007 Catalyst Conference will be taking place this October, and long-time colleagues Rick Warren and New Age sympathizer Leonard Sweet will be speakers.
Warren and Sweet have both been instrumental in helping set the stage for the emerging church movement. And even though Leonard Sweet has been an avid promoter of New Age ideas for a long time, Warren has shown continued support for him. In 1995, the two did an audio series called The Tides of Change. In the audio, they spoke of “new frontiers,” “a new spirituality,” and “waves of change.” In more recent days, with Rick Warren’s New Reformation and Global Peace Plan, those “new frontiers” have begun to come to the light.
A few years prior to The Tides of Change series, Sweet wrote a book called Quantum Spirituality.* This book reveals the nature of Sweet’s spiritual affinities as he talks about “christ-consciousness” and a “New Light” movement. Ray Yungen explains further:
In it [Quantum Spirituality], Sweet thanks interspiritualists/universalists such as Matthew Fox (author of The Coming of the Cosmic Christ), Episcopalian priest/mystic Morton Kelsey, Willis Harman (author of Global Mind Change) and Ken Wilber (one of the major intellectuals in the New Age movement) for helping him to find what he calls “New Light.” Sweet adds that he trusts “the Spirit that led the author of The Cloud of Unknowing.”
In the preface of the same book, Sweet disseminates line after line of suggestions that the “old teachings” of Christianity must be replaced with new teachings of “the New Light.” And yet these new teachings, he believes, will draw from “ancient teachings” (the Desert
Fathers). This “New Light movement,” Sweet says, is a “radical faith commitment that is willing to dance to a new rhythm.”
Throughout the book, Sweet favorably uses terms like Christ consciousness and higher self and in no uncertain terms promotes New Age ideology:[Quantum Spirituality is] a structure of human becoming, a channeling of Christ energies through mindbody experience.
The Bible does not describe Jesus Christ as an energy channeling its way in and through us. Without a doubt, this is New Age lingo. The wonderful thing about the Gospel that is presented in Scripture is that Jesus Christ is presented as a personal God who loves us and will have a relationship with anyone who, by faith, comes to the Father through Him. This is where the contemplatives have it wrong. They believe that through this meditative prayer they can reach God.
Sweet also tells his readers that humanity and creation are united as one and we must realize it. Once humanity comes to this realization, Sweet says:
Then, and only then, will a New Light movement of “world-making” faith have helped to create the world that is to, and may yet, be. Then, and only then, will earthlings have uncovered the meaning … of the last words [Thomas Merton] uttered: “We are already one. But we imagine that we are not. And what we have to recover is our original unity.”
Leonard Sweet is what could be called an Alice Bailey Christian because his views on the role of mysticism in the church are evident. He states:
Mysticism, once cast to the sidelines of the Christian tradition, is now situated in postmodernist culture near the center…. In the words of one of the greatest theologians of the twentieth century, Jesuit philosopher of religion/dogmatist Karl Rahner, “The Christian of tomorrow will be a mystic, one who has experienced something, or he will be nothing.” [Mysticism] is metaphysics arrived at through mindbody experiences. Mysticism begins in experience; it ends in theology. (from A Time of Departing, pp. 156-160)
A few years after Rick Warren and Len Sweet did the audio series together, Warren endorsed the front and back cover of Sweet’s book, Soul Tsunami.Of Sweet’s book, Warren said: “suggests practical ways to communicate God’s unchanging truth to our changing world.” However, the “practical ways” that Sweet shares in the book include a labyrinth and visiting a meditation center. Sweet also says in the book, “It’s time for a Post Modern Reformation,” adding that “The wind of spiritual awakening
is blowing across the waters.” He says that times are changing and you’d better “Reinvent yourself for the 21st century or die” (p. 75).
If Rick Warren is no longer in agreement with Leonard Sweet, then doesn’t he have an obligation to speak up publicly and warn people, especially in light of his previous role in helping to spread Sweet’s message? And if he does not support Sweet’s message, why would he speak with him at the Catalyst Conference, which will only further paint a picture of mutual spiritualities between the two men?
Based on Rick Warren’s consistent record of promoting contemplative spirituality (i.e., spiritual formation or mysticism), Warren is as much in support of Leonard Sweet’s teachings as he was in 1995 when The Tides of Change came out. And Sweet’s Reinvent or die theology is similar to Warren’s Resisters, Leave or Die.
The Catalyst Conference, incidentally, will be promoting contemplative in other ways too. Under the LAB called “Passion,” Mark Batterson will be teaching. A recommended reading list on Batterson’s website includes some of the most staunch New Age/meditation promoters like: Anthony Robbins, Jack Canfield, Eckhart Tolle, Henri Nouwen, Daniel Goleman (author of The Meditative Mind) and Mormon New Ager Steven Covey.
Erwin McManus will also be speaking at the conference. In a recent article, Erwin McManus: The Secret Behind the Secret, it revealed that McManus resonated with the new channeled film, The Secret.
On the Catalyst website it says the event will be a convergence of leaders that will shake you to the core. Unfortunately, we believe this shaking will drop unsuspecting participants (including thousands of young people) into the hands of deception. We hope the organizers of the event will come out in the open and admit that some of the speakers there have New Age proclivities and may pass these on to those in attendance.