Rick Warren has invited New Age proponent
Leonard Sweet to speak at the 2008 Saddleback Small Groups
Conference called Wired.
The theme of the conference is "Prepare your church for
spiritual growth and connectivity." Unfortunately, spiritual
growth and connectivity ala
Leonard Sweet could be a panentheistic, mystical dose of the New Age - and it isn't the
first time Warren has found comradeship with Sweet. As Ray
Yungen explains in
A Time of Departing, Sweet and Warren
came together in 1994 for their Tides of Change audio
series. Yungen describes Warren and Sweet's relationship as well
as Sweet's beliefs:
In the set, Warren and Sweet talk about
'new frontiers,' 'changing times' and a 'new spirituality' on the horizon. Later, in Sweet's 2001 book,
Soul Tsunami, Warren
gives an endorsement that sits on the back as well as on the
front cover of the book. Of the book, Warren says:
Leonard Sweet is a New Age evangelist. For Rick Warren to have
him as a speaker for the upcoming Wired conference is a blatant
move on Warren's part in his efforts to shift Christianity into
a New Age (or what he calls New Reformation) that will help lead
to possibly the greatest apostasy this world has ever seen. For
any church to still use Purpose Driven material and still
promote Rick Warren in any fashion makes that church just as
guilty as Rick Warren himself.
"Leonard Sweet ... suggests practical ways to communicate
God's unchanging truth to our changing world."1
Some of these "practical ways" include using a labyrinth and
visiting a meditation center.2 Sweet also says, "It's time
for a Post Modern Reformation,"3 adding that "The wind of
spiritual awakening is blowing across the waters."4 He says
that times are changing and you'd better "Reinvent yourself
for the 21st century or die."5
To better understand Leonard Sweet's spirituality, I would
like to draw your attention to a book he wrote a few years
prior to The Tides of Change audio set --
Spirituality. I highly recommend you take a look at this
book yourself -- Sweet has now placed the book on his website
at www.leonardsweet.com in a format easy to download, which,
of course, shows that he still promotes its message.
The acknowledgments section of
shows very clearly Sweet's spiritual sympathies. In it,
Sweet thanks interspiritualists/universalists such as
Matthew Fox (author of
The Coming of the Cosmic Christ),
Episcopalian priest/mystic Morton Kelsey,
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."6 Sweet adds that he
trusts "the Spirit that led the author of The Cloud of
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.8
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."9
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.'"10
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."11
It is this same mysticism (i.e., contemplative prayer) that
I believe Rick Warren is also promoting. Warren extends his
promotion and endorsement of Sweet to his pastors.com
a dozen times Sweet is referred to positively, including
an article featuring Sweet and another article written by
him. (from chapter 8,
A Time of Departing)
If you really want to know the direction Rick Warren is going
Leonard Sweet, Ken Wilber, and
Alice Bailey. That
will indeed show you a picture of the
Purpose Driven future and
sad to say the future of thousands of evangelical churches
around the world.
1. Rick Warren, Soul Tsunami by Leonard Sweet (Grand Rapids,
MI:Zondervan, 1999), cover.
2. Ibid., Leonard Sweet, Soul Tsunami, op. cit., pp. 431, 432.
3. Ibid., p. 17.
4. Ibid., p. 408.
5. Ibid., p. 75.
6. Leonard Sweet, Quantum Spirituality (Dayton, OH: Whaleprints,
1991), Acknowledgments, viii-ix.
7. Ibid., xi.
8. Ibid., Preface, p. 7.
9. Ibid., p. 70
10. Ibid., p. 13 in Preface.
11. Ibid., p. 76.