Leonard Sweet is fast becoming very popular in the Nazarene denomination. He has been invited to several pastor’s seminars around the country, and also makes regular speaking appearances at some Nazarene universities. Sweet is currently the E. Stanley Jones Professor of Evangelism at Drew University, Madison, NJ and a Visiting Distinguished Professor at George Fox University, Portland, Oregon. Sounds impressive, but who is he, and why is he in my Emergent Church/New Age Hall of Shame? And if he is, am I way off base to list him, or is something seriously wrong with Nazarenes and other Christians inviting him to speak at evangelical seminars, universities, and churches?
He is scheduled to be the plenary speaker at the Northwest Regional PALCON seminar for Nazarene pastors, hosted by Northwest Nazarene University. Yes, the same Northwest Nazarene University that had Dr. Jay McDaniel as a guest lecturer a few years back, whose talk was extremely difficult to get through, especially knowing that he was essentially speaking unchallenged to students at NNU. The same university that brought Brian McLaren there for his Everything Must Change tour, with his translation of John 3:16 meaning to save the earth, not people. So to me, no surprise that Sweet shows up at this school, for it is extremely sympathetic to emergent thought, contemplative spirituality (aka spiritual formation), New Agers and extreme liberal speakers.
He will also be a featured speaker at the National Worship Leader Conference this year, both at the Southwest Regional in New Mexico, and the East Regional in Pennsylvania.
Sweet is described at Lighthouse Trails Research as a New Age sympathizer. He is linked to many New Agers and promoters of contemplative spirituality, including Rick Warren, whose Purpose Driven Life book is full of New Age references and approving quotes. According to Zondervan, Sweet has teamed with Rick Warren for an audio seminar titled The Tides of Change, and is collaborating with Brian McLaren and Jerry Haselmayer for a church consulting corporation called Helix21. Sweet’s most famous book, perhaps, is Quantum Spirituality, which for whatever reason, was left out of the bio that was listed for PALCON Conference. Perhaps it was a “good” thing, because it is a strange book that speaks well of his New Age leanings, with his emphasis on the “Christ-consciousness”, and his fascination with the “New Light”.
He has been at Southern Nazarene University, where you can listen to audio clips from the Dream Big Seminar.
He spoke at Eastern Nazarene College a few years ago at a pastor’s seminar.
He was a plenary speaker at the Church of the Nazarene’s M3 Conference.
In my post from Nov 5, it tells of his sponsorship by the Northwest Nazarene District at a local Nazarene church, and also describes much of his New Age influence.
And on, and on, and on we could go with more appearances at Nazarene venues.
And from my friend at the sadnazarene blog, here is a post on how Sweet and other colleagues are coming out with yet another new Bible (The Voice), because apparently none of the present Bible versions fit their “emergent lens”, as they like to often say. On the site promoting The Voice it is described as “holistic”, “sensitive”, “beautiful”, “balanced”. Apparently the King James version and all the others are… what? Insensitive? Ugly? Unbalanced? So Sweet is probably just another of those folks who are just not happy with a literal, accurate translation of the scriptures, but instead want to put their post-modern slant to it. The KJV is just not good enough anymore to reach this new generation, is it?
In his own words, here is a writing by Sweet called A Magna Carta For Restoring The Supremacy Of Jesus Christ. Sounds good, but if you read it and are impressed, remember this:
But there were also false prophets among the people, just as there will be false teachers among you. They will secretly introduce destructive heresies, even denying the sovereign Lord who bought them—bringing swift destruction on themselves. Many will follow their shameful ways and will bring the way of truth into disrepute. In their greed these teachers will exploit you with stories they have made up. Their condemnation has long been hanging over them, and their destruction has not been sleeping. 2 Peter 1:21-2:3
For a review of some of his more extensive quotes, see Sandy Simpson’s article from his site Deception in the Church. In the meantime, below is Leonard Sweet’s Hall Of Shame poster. If any pastor goes to the PALCON Conference at NNU, you most likely will not hear Sweet’s most radical theories or spiritual ideas, especially from Quantum Spirituality and other books. Trust me, he is not your typical evangelical. In my opinion, based on all that I know, he’s not a good choice for teaching Christian pastors or lecturing on Christian spirituality. His New Age thinking is just not found in the Bible, so that in itself is a disqualifier. He should be shunned, not welcomed, as it is a scriptural command to do. But we ought to pray for him, and for those who continue to invite him to speak, especially to young immature Christians. As Pastor Tony preached last Sunday, a lion seeks it’s prey first from among the weakest, not the strongest.