|Sweet was also a featured speaker at Concordia Seminary, St. Louis.|
They were proud to put the video on the air!
This selection below is from Sola Sisters:
I could be wrong about this - and I sincerely hope that I am - but based on Willard's own writing, I suspect that Willard holds to either "Christian Universalism" or "the Wider Mercy doctrine." And this leads me to Leonard Sweet, an ordained United Methodist pastor, who is another prominent writer/pastor/teacher today that I believe is also a Christian Universalist masquerading as a Christian. I actually know Leonard Sweet from my New Age days, having read his book Quantum Spirituality many years ago. While Sweet has attempted in some ways to distance himself from the New Age Spirituality movement, his teaching, language and vision for the church very closely mimic the New Age Spirituality vision for today's church (which is an ecumnical coming together of all faiths through a belief in a "oneness" that unites all mankind, and a downplaying of the exclusiveness of Christ's message). Sweet's teaching in Quantum Spirituality advanced the idea that God is "in" everything....a very eastern idea that is more correctly known as "panentheism." Sweet's books were very popular among my New Age friends who considered themselves "enlightened Christians." An "enlightened Christian" is someone that I would categorize today as a "Christian universalist," meaning it is someone who professes belief in Christ, but not the Christ of the Bible, with his narrow way and exclusive gospel message. No, the "enlightened Christians" believe that Jesus is their way to heaven...but that ultimately, all paths lead to God, and who are we to "put God in a box" and say that a good Hindu or Buddhist or Muslim couldn't find their way to heaven through their own faith tradition?
Here are some of Sweet's teachings from Quantum Spirituality, along with my commentary:
"The first of these five untheorized observations is that New Light embodiment means to be "in connection" and 'in-formation' with other Christians. Deeper feeling and higher relating go together. 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." p 122
"The power of small groups is in their ability to develop the discipline to get people "in-phase" with the Christ consciousness and connected with one another." p 147
"New Lights offer up themselves as the cosmions of a mind-of-Christ consciousness. As a cosmion incarnating the cells of a new body, New Lights will function as transitional vessels through which transforming energy can renew the divine image in the world, moving postmoderns from one state of embodiment to another." p 48
"Christ consciousness" was - and still is - a very prominent New Age Spirituality term used to describe a Christianized form of panentheism, which is the belief that God is "in" all things.
"A surprisingly central feature of all the world's religions is the language of light in communicating the divine and symbolizing the union of the human with the divine: Muhammed's light-filled cave, Moses' burning bush, Paul's blinding light, Fox's "inner light," Krishna's Lord of Light, Bohme's light-filled cobbler shop, Plotinus' fire experiences, Bodhisattvas with the flow of Kundalini's fire erupting from their fontanelles, and so on." p 235
Sweet is attempting to show here that the "light" of God has manifested itself in many different ways through many different cultures. This is contrary to the teaching of the Bible, which is that God chose to reveal truth ("light") through the Jews in the Old Testament times, with Christ being the culmination of this revealed truth in the New Testament. Born-again believers also have the privilege of bearing this light in a dark and fallen world. But, was there real "light" (i.e., truth) coming from "Muhammed's light-filled cave?" Or from the Universalist Quaker George Fox's mystical "light" experiences? Or from the "flow of Kundalini's fire" which was said to be the awakening of "serpent power" in the Hindu tradition? If so, then the Cross was a mockery, for what God would let his own Son die such a wretched, torturous death if all other paths to God were acceptable?
If I understand Leonard Sweet's latest book, Jesus Manifesto (co-written with Frank Viola), correctly, today's "Christian Universalists"seem to be hanging their hat on Colossians 1:19-20 as their proof text:
"For in Christ all the fullness of God was pleased to dwell, and through himto reconcile to himself all things, whether on earth or in heaven, making peace by the blood of his cross." (my emphasis)
A "Christian Universalist" would say, according to this verse, everyone ultimately gets saved through Christ. But is this not universalism? Because the idea is that all faith traditions have some version of the "light" that is in Christ (i.e., "Muhammed's light-filled cave," the "kundalini's fire," the mystic Quaker's "inner light," etc.) and all people will eventually be reconciled to Him.
But again, this would make a mockery of the Cross and of Jesus's own words:
"I am the way, and the truth, and the life. No one comes to the Father except through me." (John 14:6)
It is the preaching of the gospel message that saves lost and doomed sinners....and not the non-offensive message that all paths lead to God, and that the sincerity of one's beliefs are enough to protect one from God's judgment. And what is the gospel message that is so lacking from today's squishy, all-paths-lead-to-God universalism - "Christian" or "Wider Mercy" or any other kind? It is this:
There is a sovereign creator God who has made us, and owns us, and has a righteous claim on our lives. But we have sinned against this God who made us and takes care of us by breaking his moral laws....and without his merciful and loving intervention, we will die in our sins and be condemned to hell forever. It is a wretched, desperate situation. But God, being rich in mercy and loving-kindness, made a way where there was none: He has made a way for sinful man to be reconciled to a holy God. How could this be done? It seems impossible, given God's nature. We are sinful, wretched, depraved.....and He is pure, righteous and holy beyond our comprehension. And after all, the Bible itself plainly lays out the bad new for us in Proverbs 17:15:
"Acquitting the guilty and condemning the innocent—the LORD detests them both."
Will not justice be subverted if a holy God does both of these things - acquit the guilty (us) and condemn the innocent (Christ)? And yet, God - in his magnificent, unsurpassable wisdom - found a way to do just this thing without compromising his perfect, holy justice. He sent his Son, Jesus Christ, who lived a perfect life, never sinning in thought, word or deed, and who, because of this, was able to offer up his life as a ransom for many. I broke God's laws, and Jesus paid my fine in his life's blood so that I could be released from the rightful condemnation of the law. But this gift of salvation, though given freely, is narrow and exclusive. Only those who recognize their sinful wretchedness and need for a Savior, and repent and place their faith in Christ's atoning work done on their behalf, will see the kingdom of Heaven. The very first words of Jesus's public ministry (Matthew 4:17) were: "Repent, for the kingdom of heaven is at hand." Narrow is the way, and few be those who find it. But ah, the wretched, human heart, which hugs its sin and depravity close, and would rather perish, clinging stubbornly and unrepentantly to its "right" to determine how we may approach God.......