Quotes and Excerpts

Leonard Sweet

Futurist, Author, Emerging Church leader & Saddleback Church speaker

 Emphasis added in bold letters below

Quotes from Soul Tsunami: Sink or Swim in the New Millennium Culture (Zondervan, 1999).

"CHANGE OR BE CHANGED — In the old ecology of nature, change was seen as abnormal. In the new ecology of nature, change is life’s natural, normative state.... What works today won’t work tomorrow.... The wonder is that churches are not in more disarray. ... They are standing pat, opting to uphold the status quo rather than undergo the upheaval."

"Postmodern culture is a change-or-be-changed world. The word is out: Reinvent yourself for the 21st century or die." (p. 74-75)

In his endorsement on the front cover of Sweet's book, Rick Warren praises its message: "Soul Tsunami shows us why these are the greatest days for evangelism since the first century."

Note: Rick Warren invited Leonard Sweet to be a plenary speaker at the "2008 Saddleback Small Group Conference." Its announcement states:

"Prepare your church for spiritual growth and connectivity If you're looking to build a healthy, growing church... You won't hear vague theories and 'what ifs'--you'll get Saddleback's own proven small groups model and strategy for plugging in new members and creating disciples that are prepared for ministry." See Small Groups and the Dialectic Process



Quotes from Quantum Spirituality (online at http://www.leonardsweet.com/Quantum/quantum-ebook.pdf):


"So far the church has refused to dip its toe into postmodern culture. A quantum spirituality challenges the church to bear its past and to dare its future by sticking its big TOE into the time and place of the present....  Then, and only then, will the church not appear to be in a timecapsule, sealed against new developments. 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 these words, some of the last words poet/activist/contemplative/bridge between East and West Thomas Merton uttered:

"We are already one. But we imagine that we are not. And what we have to recover is our original unity." (p. 10)

Note: The new focus is on unity -- a worldwide oneness reflected in the growing union between the East and West -- and between the physical planet, all of humanity, and our spiritual God. Apparently, Sweet has replaced the "offense of the cross" with a passion for interfaith peace, unity and  possibility thinking. That point is well illustrated by the above statement by Thomas Merton, the popular Catholic author who popularized mysticism and died in Asia searching -- and experiencing -- the depths of Tibetan Buddhism.

"Mysticism, once cast to the sidelines of the Christian tradition, is now situated in postmodernist culture near the center. In part, the physics of David Bohm and Fritjof Capra are ways of responding to culture's having pushed it there. 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 (which Einstein called 'cosmic religiosity') is metaphysics arrived at through mindbody experiences. Mysticism begins in experience; it ends in theology....." (p. 76)

Note: Yes, mysticism leads to new belief systems -- but the spiritual guides behind those beliefs are the enemies of God and tormentors of humanity.

"According to the Oxford English Dictionary, to inform means 'to give form to, put into form and shape.' The purpose of the church is to give form to, to put into form and shape, the energy-matter known as Jesus Christ. New Light leaders, therefore, are in-formational connectors helping the body of Christ to become an in-formed church, an in-formational community." (p. 120)

"New Light leadership helps patches of information become cloaks of knowledge. Information brokering is central to creating community in postmodern culture, not to mention achieving synergic states of group consciousness. Association of Theological Schools president/divinity school dean Jim L. Waits, in his address at the seventy-fifth anniversary of the founding of Emory University’s Candler School of Theology, calls for clergy to move from their 'learned ministry' model to a '“knowledgeable ministry' model. 'Knowledge ministry' helps information become 'alive in the consciousness,' as Einstein put it...." (p. 121)

Note: But it's the Holy Spirit, not human philosophies or processes that makes God's Word come alive in a believer. It's certainly not by assessing the "energy flow" in a room, as Sweet suggests below. (See 1 Corinthians 2:8-13)

"Christbody communities must come to be seen as thermodynamic units in which the rules of the conservation and degradation of energy apply. Some preachers almost unwittingly do an energy analysis of a congregation, assessing the energy charge of a room, pinpointing the energy flow, and drawing strength from those hot spots from which energy emanates most powerfully....

"Reluctance to see communities of faith as information-processing systems and the refusal to assist people in exploring and critiquing the unexamined metaphors by which they live helps explain why oldline communities are in such a state of entropic decline and disarray. Yet entropies of information produce variety within a species as well as new species themselves. The second law of thermodynamics states that energymatter decomposes and, what is more, that the more entropy grows, the less the amount of usable energy. Since the total amount of energy and mass in the universe cannot change, the entropic consequence of the second law is known as evolution.

"A major New Light undertaking is the designing of newstream communities that can be 'in connection' and 'in-formation' with the spirit of Christ. Christ will be embodied for the postmodern church in information." (p. 121)

"The following are five gross premises of embodiment... that build anew the body of Christ for the postmodern era -- being “in connection” and “in-formation” with: (1) other Christians, (2) all creation, (3) one’s ancestors and ancestral memories, (4) other faiths, (5) technology....

[1] "With Other Christians: The first of these five untheorized observations is that New Light embodiment means to be “in connection” and “in-formation” with other Christians.... The church is fundamentally one being, one person, a comm-union whose cells are connected to one another within the information network called the Christ consciousness. No congregation or denomination can go it alone in being the body of Christ.... To be “in connection” and “in-formation” is to be related to other Christians and the shared culture of all Christians and to grow a set of organic relationships and coalitions around a common love for God [Christ consciousness?] ...

"Communities have souls, not just individuals. The modern era downplayed a biblical doctrine of salvation that had this communal dimension. In contrast, the New Light movement is concerned about the salvation of ensouled communities as well as individual souls, and the salvation of community souls relating synergistically to one another. ... The power of community is the energy of between: The synergizing of synergies in which “one [shall] chase a thousand, and two [shall] put ten thousand to flight” (Deut. 32:30).... (p. 122)

[2] "With All of Nature: Priests of Creation:...New Light communities extend the sense of connectionalism to creation and see themselves as members of an ecological community encompassing the whole of creation. “This is my body” is not an anthropocentric metaphor. Theologian/feminist critic Sallie McFague has argued persuasively for seeing Earth, in a very real sense, as much as a part of the body of Christ as humans.... The world of nature has an identity and purpose apart from human benefit. But we constitute together a cosmic body of Christ.... Creation spirituality is of tremendous help here in weaning us from this homocentric warp....

"Quantum spirituality bonds us to all creation as well as to other members of the human family. New Light pastors are what Arthur Peacocke calls 'priests of creation' -- earth ministers who can relate the realm of nature to God, who can help nurture a brother-sister relationship with the living organism called Planet Earth. This entails a radical doctrine of embodiment of God in the very substance of creation. The Oxford Dictionary of the Christian Church (1974) identifies the difference between pantheism and panentheism:

"Pantheism is 'the belief or theory that God and the universe are identical' panentheism is 'the belief that the Being of God includes and penetrates the whole universe, so that every part of it exists in Him, but... that His Being is more than, and is not exhausted by, the Universe.”

"New Light spirituality does more than settle for the created order, as many forms of New Age pantheism do. But a spirituality that is not in some way entheistic (whether pan- or trans-), that does not extend to the spirit-matter of the cosmos, is not Christian."  (p. 123-124)

[3] "With Ancestors in the Faith: "...Third, New Light embodiment means to be 'in connection' and 'information' with ancestors and ancestral memories. One of the most significant things that can be said about New Lights  is that they know their ancestors... for the sake of communal identity and integrity....

“'Memes,' a term first coined by Richard Dawkins, refers to culturally transmitted ideas and customs which have been implanted in the human brain by social interaction and historical development. One of the first things New Light leadership does is to learn the genetic/ memetic endowment and environment of a community." (p. 124-125)

[4] "With Other Religions... "Fourth, New Light embodiment means to be 'in connection' and 'information' with other faiths. To be in-formation means to know each other’s songs almost as well as one knows them oneself, and to enlarge the community to include those whose conceptions of God differ from ours in form. To be in connection means to be able to sing, not only selected stanzas, but all the verses...." (p. 129)

"One can be a faithful disciple of Jesus Christ without denying the flickers of the sacred in followers of Yahweh, or Kali, or Krishna. A globalization of evangelism 'in connection' with others, and a globally 'in-formed' gospel, is capable of talking across the fence with Hindu, Buddhist, Sikh, Muslim--people from other so called 'new' religious traditions ('new' only to us)--without assumption of superiority and power."129-130

"...It will take a decolonized theology for Christians to appreciate the genuineness of others’ faiths, and to see and celebrate what is good, beautiful, and true in their beliefs without any illusions that down deep we all are believers in the same thing."

"The American denomination boasting the most 'decolonized' official proposal for guidelines for effective interfaith witness is the Southern Baptist Convention. The recommended draft of these “guidelines” emphasized “not judging, not convincing, but witnessing.” “Witnessing” was defined as having to listen, “genuinely to run the risk of opening yourself to another person and to his beliefs.” ...'Recognize the ideal in all faiths, and the fact that most believers do not attain the ideals of their faith.' Sadly, the final document adopted by the Home Mission Board of the Southern Baptist Convention excised all the above statements.... The knowledge of the environments of other religions is a spiritual duty as well as an intellectual necessity for the formation of our own religious heritage. ...

"The tide of an exo ticized and orientalized theology is already at flood stage in New Age thinking partly because of modernist Christianity’s theological xenophobia.... An example of East-West integration that is less a subversion of the Christian tradition than an homage to it is the flourishing field of study known as transpersonal psychology, where the West’s emphasis on material processes of self-realization become mutually dependent on the East’s emphasis on consciousness journeys of self-annihilation.

"The interfaith embodiment of a quantum spirituality is based not on the Enlightenment search for what the world religions hold in common but on the multitudinousness and uniqueness of each particular vision of truth." (129-130)


The 10 links below all lead to Rick Warren's Ministry Toolbox at www.pastors.com

Rick Warren's Ministry Toolbox (3/19/2001): "This is the first of our Ministry Perspectives. Over the next few week's, we'll offer you articles by Billy Graham, Leonard Sweet, Adrian Rogers, Lee Strobel and many, many more."

Ministry Toolbox Endorsements: "...Soul Salsa by Leonard Sweet

A Generation Beyond Willow Creek: "Where to learn more: 'Faith Quakes,' by Leonard Sweet. 'AquaChurch: Essential Leadership Arts for Piloting Your Church in Today's Fluid Culture,' by Leonard Sweet."

Brian McLaren: the story we find ourselves in by Greg Warner: "[McLaren] began to re-examine the way he understood the gospel story, particularly the modern, rational formulations and apologetic evangelism he picked up from his Reformed background. '...I didn't know any other Christians who were struggling with these issues.'

      "He stumbled upon Truth Is Stranger Than It Used to Be by Richard Middleton and Brian Walsh (1995), and later the writings of Leonard Sweet. 'I was so relieved to find at least a few people talking about these things.' In 1998, he tried his own hand at voicing the new challenge for Christians with The Church on the Other Side.... But then he began to explore 'evangelism in a different key' with four books - Finding Faith (1999), A New Kind of Christian (2001), More Ready Than You Realize (2001), and his newest, The Story We Find Ourselves In (2003).

Ten Commandments for Postmodern churches: "EDITOR'S NOTE: The following books offer information about the ancient-future trend of Generation X worship or general trends about reaching postmoderns: '...'The Celtic Way of Evangelism: How Christianity Can Reach the West' ... Again' by George G. Hunter III. "Post-Modern Pilgrims: First Century Passion for the 21st Century Church" by Leonard Sweet

Len Sweet Ponders Connecting Generations Born 'Before' & 'After' Computers: "[Leonard] Sweet outlines a four-step transformation process he calls EPIC to enable the B.C. generation to communicate with A.C. natives. First, he says older adults must move beyond rational thinking about faith to focus on a relationship with Christ....  This culture is not looking for something to believe in. Their hunger is for the experience of a relationship with God."

    "The second step of EPIC, Sweet says, requires older adults to move from a performance-based mode of thinking and doing to a participatory, interactive model....

    "Third, Sweet says, natives respond to the gospel when it is presented in images rather than words. "How exciting to present Jesus, who is the image of God, to an image-based culture," he says. "... We must give them the right image through which to prepare for eternity."

    "Finally, Sweet says older adults must move from an individual to a connective approach to reach younger generations. "The essence of connectivity is, 'I can't be me without we,'" he says. ... Sweet, a former college president, says he experienced a major turnaround in 1987 when he moved from being a learned academic talking to other academics to become a learner. "Stop being learned people and become learners together," he urges.

     "...with the Internet, 'we now have generations who do not need authority figures to access information,' Sweet says. However, "I could argue these generations, more than ever, need authority figures to process and assess information."


Learn how to reach teens amid today's realities: "Author Leonard Sweet challenges youth leaders to move away from what is familiar in order to reach a new generation of kids, Herring said. Sweet writes about the concept in his book, 'Postmodern Pilgrims.' 'Sweet believes churches can be effective at reaching and discipling teenagers in a postmodern culture by becoming E.P.I.C. churches,' he added.

   "The concept of E.P.I.C. includes:

-- "Experiential. 'If churches are to effectively disciple postmodern teens they have to help them experience God.'...

-- "Participatory. 'Postmoderns are not going to simply transmit the tradition or culture they've been taught. They want to transform and customize it.' ...

-- "Image-driven. 'Think about how many churches today have logos. The best tool religious leaders can give postmoderns is a metaphor on an image.'

-- "Connected. '...The pursuit of individualism has led us to this place of hunger for connectedness to communities, not of blood or nation, but of choice."

Rick Warren's Ministry Tool Box: "'24 Transitions For Moving Into The 21st Century' by Leonard Sweet Futurist. Leonard Sweet says pastors should be aware of 24 transitions taking place as we step into the 21st century. This is a list you'll want to study."

Stuck in a closet with Leonard Sweet: "Rain pelted the campus of the small Baptist university where futurist, historian and author Leonard Sweet... was speaking at a regional pastor's conference. ...  There, with only a few interruptions, we discussed pop culture....

      "[RELEVANT magazine:] You've said a bit in the past about the church needing to use the medium of pop culture as a vehicle for the Gospel. Why is that?

      "[Leonard Sweet:] Because it's the Roman road; it's the road people are traveling on; it's the dominant global culture. For the church not to speak to pop culture, not to use images that come from it and sounds that come from it, smells that come from it, well ... that's not being very incarnational ... In order to incarnate Christ into the culture that is there, then we have to look to redeem pop culture.....

     "[RM:] But the church in the last hundred years hasn't changed much.

     "[LS:] And that's the reason it's been dying. It's been feeding off fruit that's decaying and rotten; nobody wants to touch it except for a few die-hards that have grown used to the rancid odor."

Now Ready for Prime Time Players: "The Emergent church is carried by its mission for change -- for Christians and the church.  ...a new leadership that is focusing on our youth is intent on changing the church, updating it for our times. Many of the youth are on an active search to experience their faith. While we cannot fault them for wanting this to be more real, they are listening to leaders who are apt to lead them astray by the simple fact that they are using other religious practices for the answers to their searching, not just the Scripture...

     The youth are often more than willing to reject the old doctrines and redefine what Christianity is. In this process of discovery, we see a deconstruction and what emerges is a reconstruction of their Christianity...  Thus, they believe they are making their faith their own, personal and in some cases unique, even to what the Bible presents.

     "Others have adopted a wider openness for other beliefs, that are originating in other religions and alternate spiritual beliefs and practices indicative of the new age movement (Leonard Sweet has this in his book Quantum Spirituality). ....We hear that we are out of touch with the times, the culture, and the consciousness change. All these sentiments are echoed by mystic universalist Matthew Fox who has said “Christianity has been out of touch with its `core,' its center, its sense of mystical practice and cosmic awareness." (The Cosmic Christ, p. 7, by Matthew Fox) ...

      "As Dan Kimball says “we must rethink virtually everything we are doing in our ministries.” On Rick Warrens internet site Dan Kimball writes “So, the emerging church is about is a re-imagining: re-imagining our preaching, our evangelism, and our worship services. A re-imagining of new types of churches and an opportunity to be rethinking all we do because we recognize that the next generation is at stake if we don't. (Ministry toolbox Issue #110 7/9/2003 Three Things to Know About the Emerging Church by Dan Kimball) ...

     "Henri Nouwen, a promoter of contemplative prayer and a universalist is referenced by Rick Warren in his book Purpose Driven Life (page 269). Henri Nouwen - “Through the discipline of contemplative prayer, Christian leaders have to learn to listen to the voice of love ...

    "For Christian leadership to be truly fruitful in the future, a movement from the moral to the mystical is required” (In the Name of Jesus, p. 6,31-32). We should expect more Biblical discernment from national leaders. ...Leonard Sweet in his book Soul Tsunami: Sink or Swim in New Millennium Culture says: “Postmoderns want a God they can feel, taste, touch, hear and smell--a full sensory immersion in the divine.”

Since Leonard Sweet often quotes David Bohm, this quote is significant to church transformation:

Bohm Dialogue : "...it is proposed that a form of free dialogue may well be one of the most effective ways of investigating the crisis which faces society, and indeed the whole of human nature and consciousness today. Moreover, it may turn out that such a form of free exchange of ideas and information is of fundamental relevance for transforming culture and freeing it of destructive misinformation, so that creativity can be liberated." David Bohm

Karl Rahner: A Brief Biography: "Rahner argued that we can know of God by attending to the movement of our knowing itself towards its objects.... Hence, the movement of our knowing, and the ultimate goal towards which it reaches, can be grasped only indirectly (or "transcendentally") as our thinking turns back on itself. Rahner identified the elusive and final "term" of this dynamism with God and contended that the same movement towards God is entailed in freedom and love. By conceiving God, who always exceeds our reach, as the horizon presupposed in the movement of knowing, freedom and love, Rahner provided a way for talking and thinking about God as 'mysterious,' that is to say, as a reality who is known, but only reflexively and indirectly—and perhaps not even consciously—as the ever receding horizon of the human spirit.

     "For Rahner, we are 'spirits' (oriented and able to know God) only through our being 'in the world.'... Conversely, God is rejected to some extent in every refusal of truth, freedom and love. In these cases, since the affirmation or denial is of a particular being and not necessarily directly cognizant of God or Jesus, it is quite possible that the true nature of the 'fundamental option' implicitly taken toward God’s self-communication (at the tacit or transcendental level) might be hidden or even denied (at the explicit or categorical level) by the person taking it."

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