There is one body and one Spirit—just as you were called to one hope when you were called—one Lord, one faith, one baptism; one God and Father of all, who is over all and through all and in all. (Ephesians 4:4-6)

An Emerging/ent/ence Shift Has Been Launched Concerning The Nature Of God

In this piece we examine a continuing shift within the egregiously ecumenical Emerging Church aka Emergent Church—morphing into Emergence Christianity (EC)—and its growing doctrine of panentheism. Simply put: pan=all; en=in, and theos=God. This is a false teaching i.e. myth that God created all the universe within Himself, and so, it is actually a part of Him. Below we will look at a bit from a book by EC theologian Leonard Sweet called Quantum Spirituality: A Postmodern Apologetic (QS), once available as an online e-book. 

First, here’s what we read about QS directly from Sweet’s own website:

Already called “a spirituality classic,” Quantum Spirituality: A Postmodern Apologetic is the book that launched what today is called “postmodern publishing” as well as Len’s ministry to postmodern culture. A book written in a circle, the reader is invited to begin anywhere, stop anytime, and end wherever.

This was Len’s “coming out” book as a postmodern disciple after his 1987 knockdown, drag-out Damascus Road encounter with God, who (as he describes it) “knocked me off my high academic horse and said, ‘Sweet, are you going to get a mission for the world you wish you had or the world that’s actually out there. (Online source, emphasis mine)

What we’ve just read is very important because, not unlike Purpose-Driven Popes Of The Carolinas Have Spoken, above we have the claim that God spoke to Sweet and gave him his “mission” resulting in Sweet’s “coming out” book QS. Pretty heady stuff, and Lighthouse Trails Research further tells us that “Leonard Sweet (endorsed by Rick Warren) thanks New Agers for helping him find this ” ‘New Light’.” For those who may not be familiar with Leonard Sweet Apprising Ministries qives you a little more pertinent background information from his website concerning:

Len’s three-ring mission: as a historian of American culture; as a futurist/semiotician who “sees things the rest of us do not see, and dreams possibilities that are beyond most of our imagining;” and as a preacher and writer who communicates the gospel powerfully to a postmodem age by bridging the worlds of academe and popular culture. In 2006 and 2007, Len was voted by his peers “One of the 50 Most Influential Christians in America” by ChurchReport Magazine.

Currently the E. Stanley Jones Professor of Evangelism at Drew University, Madison, NJ and a Visiting Distinguished Professor at George Fox University, Portland, Oregon, Len has been Vice President of Academic Affairs and Dean of the Theological School at Drew University for five years, Previous to Drew Len served for eleven years as President and Professor of Church History at United Theological Seminary, Dayton, Ohio. Prior to 1985, Len was Provost of Colgate Rochester/Bexley Hall/Crozer Divinity School in Rochester, New York.

Involved in leadership positions in the United Methodist Church, Len has been chosen to speak at various Jurisdictional and General Conferences as well as the 1996 World Methodist Congress in Rio de Janeiro. He also serves as a consultant to many of America’s denominational leaders and agencies. He is a member of the West Virginia Annual Conference. Author of more than two hundred articles, over twelve hundred published sermons, and dozens of books, Len is the primary contributor (along with his wife Karen Elizabeth Rennie) to the web-based preaching resource, sermons.com. (Online source)

As you can plainly see it’s not like Sweet is some kind of novice theologian. He has had ample theological training and experience to understand what Christianity is, and has been historically, as evidenced by his various training and works noted above. We also point out that one of Sweet’s other books is Carpe Manana (CM), and those of you familiar with the Church Growth Movement will recognize the name of Bob Buford, founder of Leadership Network.

Of Sweet’s book CM Buford says:

“I think of Len Sweet as the icebreaker for the 21st-century-church – breaking a path through frozen ideas and methods to the new realities that are shaping the world to come.” (Online source, emphasis added)

Another Christian leader more germane to our particular work here recently at Apprising Ministries is EC theologian and guru Brian McLaren who has written with Sweet and endorses CM as well. McLaren tells us:

“I am a better pastor and a better Christian because of Len’s brilliant and stimulating work. Carpe Manana is a…valuable continuation of the conversation he has been having with the church in America for many years.” (Online source, emphasis added)

Now In The EC The Whole Of Creation Is The Body Of Christ

So now we turn our attention more specifically to the “brilliant and stimulating work” emerging through this “conversation Sweet has been having with the church in America for many years” that by his own admission has made Brian McLaren such “a better pastor and a better Christian.” The following from Sweet’s QS comes underneath the subheading “With All of Nature: Priests of Creation”:

New Light embodiment means to be “in connection” and “information” with all 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.65 We are all earthlings. Indeed, in the biblical view of creation human earthlings do not stand at the apex of God’s handiwork. Above us are the angels.

The medieval great chain of being preserved this emphasis by placing humans at the midpoint, not at the peak. The world of nature has an identity and purpose apart from human benefit. But we constitute together a cosmic body of Christ. 66 (124, emphasis added)

If you turn to page 324 and check this footnote 66 you will see this idea originates from the well known mystic, and teacher of Creation spirituality, Matthew Fox in his book The Cosmic Christ: The Coming of the Cosmic Christ: The Healing of Mother Earth and the Birth of a Global Renaissance. Here’s a little bit of interesting information about A New Reformation , a more recent book by Fox, which will give you a little bit better indication what all of this New Light of the New Christianity of this “Emergence” is now morphing into:

In Fox’s new book called “A New Reformation!” he proclaims that we are in fact confronted with two churches: one expressed by the image of the Punitive Father, personified by a rigidly hierarchical church structure, repression of the feminine, spreading of homophobia and the elimination of internal dissent; and the other expressed by the feminine figure of Wisdom, personified by a Mother/Father God of justice and compassion. It is time for Christians to choose whom it will follow: an angry exclusionary god or the loving open path of wisdom. (Online source)

Concerning this idea of “New Light,” in his new book A “Wonderful” Deception, former New Ager Warren Smith tells us that not long after his Deceived On Purpose expose concerning Purpose Driven Pope Rick Warren came out:

I came across a book titled Quantum Spirituality: A Postmodern Dialectic written by Rick Warren’s “Evangelical” colleague Leonard Sweet. Also, around the same time, I was given a cassette tape set of a presentation Sweet had done with Warren in 1995. Their recorded discussion is titled The Tides of Change and was packaged as part of an ongoing series called “Choice Voices for Church Leadership.”…

Challenging pastors to make changes in their ministry to meet the emerging postmodern culture and the changing times, Sweet and Rick Warren present themselves not only as pastors but also as modern-day change agents. In their conversation together, Sweet enthusiastically remarked to Warren: “I think this is part of this New Spirituality that we are seeing birthed around us.” In listening to this cassette-tape series, I found it interesting that Leonard Sweet was talking about the birth of a “New Spirituality” with Rick Warren way back in 1995. 

Since 9/11, “New Spirituality” is the term that most New Age leaders are now using instead of “New Age Spirituality.” By simply removing the word “Age” from “New Age Spirituality,” the “New Age Spirituality” has suddenly become the “New Spirituality.” Emerging church figures like Sweet, Brian McLaren, and others are also employing the term “New Spirituality.” They use it to describe the “new” Christianity they are practicing as “New Christians” and “New Light leaders.” What has become clear over the last decade is that the “New Spirituality”–with its bottom line belief that God is “in” everything–is, in reality, the foundational New Age “hub” for the coming New World Religion.

 This panentheistic New Age/New Spirituality teaching that God is “in” everything will be the “common ground” melting pot belief that the coming New World Religion will ultimately rest upon. In The Tides of Change, it is clear that Rick Warren and Leonard Sweet are working toward a “New Reformation” of the church. But as I read Sweet’s book Quantum Spirituality: A Postmodern Apologetic, I quickly discovered that Sweet’s New Reformation is really just a New Age re-formation of biblical Christianity–a New Spirituality. And his New Age/New Spirituality take on things is just one more reason to be concerned about the further New Age implications that are already so present in Warren’s Purpose Driven movement. (Online source)

The Global Family Of The New Reformation Of Emergence Christianity

Anyone who has been following the whole of the seeker sensitive Church Growth Movement with its various sects, of which the Emerging/ent/ence Church is but one, recognizes this kind of language. So what we have here, with Leonard Sweet in particular, is a Christian theologian referencing a coming healing of our mother the Earth and the birth of the global family of God in agreement with a known teacher of New Age spirituality in the mystic Matthew Fox.

Again we see another clear reason why the vicarious penal substitutionary atonement would be of no concern to men like Sweet and McLaren because in a panentheistic world view all of creation—including the earth itself—is already all part of God anyway. Then Leonard Sweet, our postmodern EC “Christian” theologian, goes on to inform us in QS:

In an ecological model of the church, the earth is not separate from us; indeed, we are in symbiotic relationship with the earth. Creation spirituality is of tremendous help here in weaning us from this homocentric warp…[so] woven together are the destinies of heaven and earth that it is impossible for us to sin against one part of the body without doing damage to the whole body. No one suffers alone, as Pythagoras perceived when he said that if there is but one suffering soul in the universe, all other souls will be affected with suffering until that one suffering soul is restored to health.69 An ecological model of community is something on which even sociobiologists can agree with Christians.

God, you are my God, I pine for you; my heart thirsts for you, my body longs for you, as a land parched, dreary and waterless. Wilderness sojourner/psalmist David

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”70–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 OxfordDictionary of the Chnctian Church (sic)(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.”77 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. A quantum spirituality can in no way define God out of existence (124, 125). 

And then finally on page 261 Sweet finishes up his description of the New Light panentheism of the Quantum shift in theology of the postliberal cult of the EC when he tells us:

Quantum spirituality is nothing more than your “new account of everything old”–your part of the “I Am” that we are.

Now There’s No Real Need For A New Birth As We’re Already Part Of God

As this antichrist doctrine is taken to its logical conclusion, there is now no actual need for the Biblical doctrine of regeneration; in this warped and toxic view, if all creation is already a part of God then at best Christ’s sacrifice on the Cross simply reconciled the Global Family and its body—the cosmos itself—back to God. For this would have to be the interpretation forced upon verse 6 of our opening text by the panentheistic world view — one God and Father of all, who is over all and through all and in all.

But this text is only speaking to those believers who have been born again by the will of the Father through acceptance of the true Gospel of Jesus Christ and now are indwelt by God the Holy Spirit. In fact, if we have one verse alone from the Bible that destroys this whole panentheistic New Light argument it would be Romans 8:9 — You, however, are controlled not by the sinful nature but by the Spirit, if the Spirit of God lives in you. And if anyone does not have the Spirit of Christ, he does not belong to Christ.

We see here that this is a conditional statement, if the Spirit of God lives in you. Simple logic tells you that the possibilty then exists for the truth of the b part of this verse — if anyone does not have the Spirit of Christ, he does not belong to Christ. Therefore one is not in Christ, and if one is not in Christ then God is not in him. No, this New Light Quantum shift to panentheism by Emergent Church theologians is nothing new; it’s not light, and certainly isn’t Christian theology because it simply cannot be supported by the Bible.

See also: