Leonard Sweet: Changing The Emergent Leopard’s Spots
Leonard Sweet and Stephan Joubert’s Emerging spots
The Bible is the most amazing, most awesome and most wonderful book ever written. No other book foretells and describes future events so accurately than the Bible. It even foretells how Stephan Joubert of ekerk and echurch fame will not be able to change his spots despite his emphatic denial that he and Leonard Sweet no longer bear the spots of the Emergent Church critters.
Jeremiah 13:23 Amplified Bible (AMP)
Can the Ethiopian change his skin or the leopard his spots? Then also can you do good who are accustomed and taught [even trained] to do evil.
Who could have guessed that not only the Bible but also a kiddy’s story written by Rudyard Kipling would relate to perfection how Stephan Joubert and Leonard Sweet never changed their spots – despite them having told us that they had discarded the Emergent Leopard’s spots – and have since learned to blend in with the usual run-of-the-mill critiques of the Emergent Church.
Could it be that Baviaan in Kiplings story advised them “The people (you have been misleading and have since wised up to your deception because you can fool all the people some of the time, and some of the people all the time, but you cannot fool all the people all the time) has gone away for a change and my advice to you (Stephan Joubert and Leonard Sweet) is to change too.” The question is – have they changed?
You may ask, “What on earth has this got to do with Stephan Joubert, Leonard Sweet and the Emergent Church?” Allow me to explain.
When some of the most prominent Christians and their discernment ministries began to expose Leonard Sweet and especially his controversial book Quantum Spirituality (1) he promptly disowned the Emergent Church and as the Emergent Church Leader began to criticize the Emergent Church.
Stephan Joubert joined the fracas surrounding Leonard Sweet and promptly defended his miraculous change from a spotted Emergent leopard to a spotless critter in an article he wrote on his site “echurch.” His defense is no longer available on his blog. However, Sweet’s response to critics is still available.
A Response to Recent Misunderstandings by Leonard Sweet
By Leonard Sweet
Being a follower of Jesus requires two things of me: 1) a desire to love Jesus with all my being 2) a devoted humility to please God–no if, ands, buts, or a comma between the “please” and “God.” My dream is to render both faithfully every day.
But Jesus-following and God-pleasing–not people-pleasing–can sometimes lead me up a hill, often carrying a cross.
It can mean being silent when accused, even refusing to defend myself or push back when my faith or character is unjustly attacked by brothers and sisters in the faith.
Nothing hurts more than being shot by friendly fire. Yet, I recognize that God can use my critics to humble me, teach me, and transform me and in so doing revitalize and empower my ministry even more so than before.
So despite the confusion and harm such onslaughts can seem to be either to me or to others around me, I welcome them from the sovereign hand of God and am thankful that they exist, especially in that they can help me to clarify the tenets of my faith and to reiterate my mission and ministry to others.
I take my commitment to those whom I may influence by my ministry very seriously. And it is for this reason that I pause now to address some issues of faith that are dear to my heart and important to the many followers of Jesus who look to me for guidance, hope and inspiration as we journey together in the path of Christ.
First, I thank the many of you, who have been kind enough to approach me with questions and queries on the misinterpretations of my theology by various ODM groups.
I also know that many of you have read many of my almost 40 books, hundreds of articles, and thousands of sermons and have therefore been confused by some of the comments made regarding my faith and ministry. I thank you for your faithfulness and integrity.
This short treatise, therefore, is for you, in order hopefully to put to rest any your concerns, your confusion, or your sadness at the “false teacher” accusations leveled my way.
Second, let me now take the opportunity to address some of these accusations—-to correct where misunderstandings have occurred, to concur if called for, and to adamantly restate when gross inaccuracies have altered the meaning of my writings and evangelism.
Let me say first of all that for me, New Age rhymes with sewage.
I have such a low threshold for Gaia worship that in the middle of the movie “Avatar” I had to take a break, so severe was my attack of Gaiarrhea. In fact, I have challenged “new age sensibilities” (which now are known as “integral spirituality” or “Enlightenment,” not “New Age”) for the way in which they goddify the self and expect others to orbit in a Youniverse that revolves around them as if they were a god.
“The Secret” of the universe is not that you can have life your way. “The Secret” is that Jesus is The Way (Colossians 3). Jesus did not come to make us divine. Jesus came to show us how to be authentically what God made us to be–human.
Because of the culture in which we live, I have encouraged the daily ritual of starting the day by standing in front of a mirror and saying: “God is God and I am not.”
I wrote a book 20 years ago called Quantum Spirituality, and a few years ago made it available as a free download on my website.
Back when “New Age” was a movement, I was inspired by the brilliance of the Apostle Paul in evangelizing pagans, to show how even New Agers, like atheists or other non-Christian groups, could be evangelized for orthodox Christianity if only we learn how to speak to them.
For example, the recovery movement language of “higher power” or “higher consciousness” can be turned into “Christ consciousness.” Instead of “New Age,” we might adopt and adapt the “New Light” language of Charles G. Finney, the founder of modern urban revivalism and the leader of the Second Great Awakening, who called his followers “New Light” evangelists because they used new methods like altar calls and hymns to bring early 19th century Americans to a saving knowledge of Jesus Christ.
Would I write the same book today? No. Would I say some things differently? Yes. I started working on the book in my late 20s. I hope I’m older and wiser now.
But this was the first book to examine the challenges confronting Christianity as it entered into the uncharted waters of a new postGutenberg, postChristian, postmodern culture, and I quoted and referenced New Age thinkers who seemed to “get” this cultural transition better than the church did while I outlined avenues of approach to their minds and hearts.
By quoting and referencing people outside the faith, I am doing nothing more than Peter, Paul and Jesus himself did. Paul circumcised Timothy and made a vow in the temple. Some Christians could have easily interpreted these actions as proof that Paul was a legalist. But he was simply being “a Jew to the Jew,” speaking their language to get their hearing, yet not compromising the gospel at the same time.
Because I quote someone does not mean I agree with everything that person ever wrote. Paul quoted pagan philosophers in the Book of Acts. Quantum Spirituality was the first book that broke up the text on a page and inserted side-bars and images and quotes, a feature which is now the norm for most books.
Some of the quotes I chose were meant to provide contrasting positions to my argument, some to buttress my argument, some even to mock my argument.
The key consideration to whether I quoted someone was not “Do I agree with them?” but “Does this quote energize the conversation?” “Guilt by association” is intellectually disreputable and injurious to the whole body of Christ.
It is doubly ironic that I am under attack for being Emergent or a leader in the “emerging church” movement when I am known in emerging church circles as one of its severest critics.
In fact, four years ago Relevant Magazine hosted and published a conversation between Brian McLaren, Tony Jones and myself where my “Include Me Out” critiques of the “emerging church” were aired and discussed, RELEVANT Issue #21 (July/August 2006) In panel discussions I have looked Brian McLaren in the eyes and lamented “The Unbearable Wrongness of Brian.”
The gospel is not simply about “principles of justice” but the person of Jesus, the very Son of God, born of the virgin Mary, who came to die for our sins, descended into hell, rose again on the third day, and is now seated with the Father while he lives his resurrection life in and through us by the power of the Spirit.
I elaborate this more in the book I co-wrote with Frank Viola, The Jesus Manifesto (2010). If wanting to be a “Jesus manifest” is what it means to be “mystical,” then I plead guilty. For I do believe in the present tense of Jesus: I do believe that “Christ is Alive!” I do believe that “We Serve a Risen Savior.” I do believe that “He’s in the world today.”
I can still call Brian McLaren (and others) my friends while critiquing their theology. The “emerging church” is a young movement grown old very quickly because . ..
- It is prone to cause political ruckus when it should be rocking the world for Christ;
- It is missing a hunger and longing for the salvation of others, a passion for others to fall in love with Jesus and the sense that there are things at stake here that have both earthly and eternal consequences . . .
- It appears more and more to be a new evangelical form of the old 70s liberation theology
- It makes the mistake of separating the Person of Jesus from His teachings
- It deconstructs everything, including the historic creeds of the church and the divine inspiration of the entire biblical canon
- It revels in spreading doubt more than faith
The founder of my tribe, John Wesley, found himself under attack by “discerning” ministers and ministries for being a Moravian “sympathizer,” an “enthusiast,” and for having a flaky theology of the “spirit.” Even though Wesley critiqued many aspects of Moravian theology, these “discerning” ministries felt Wesley had not condemned them vigorously enough and that he was thus a deceiver and a danger to orthodox faith.
In response, Wesley issued a public letter in which he professed to live peaceably with “all men” and was not prone to stir up controversy or defend himself.
He especially did not want to engage those with a hair-trigger for heresy, which was unbecoming of someone who followed Jesus. If Wesley ever felt moved to enter into a dispute, he stated, it would only be with “men of understanding” who actually read his writings and were capable of honest theological dispute.
Because he sensed his “discerning” opponent was a person of goodwill whose attacks were not slanderous and splintering but temperate and genuinely concerned with strengthening the body of Christ, he a issued lengthy reply.
There was (and is) enough of an unChristian culture in the church. Wesley did not want to add to it with his response; his only desire was to make the church more Christian.
It is in this spirit that I also write this response to all of the lovers of God and loyal followers of Jesus that I have come to know through my mission and ministry and hold in the highest regard.
I hope therefore I have done nothing with this treatise to divide the body in any way, but only to continue to nourish it as is always my aim and task as a Jesus followers. If I have, please, forgive me.
I also ask for correction from anyone who finds something I have written that misrepresents the texts and traditions of our faith. For I am passionate about the historic creeds of the faith (apostolic, nicene, chalcedon, etc.) and the authority and inspiration of Scripture.
While my roots are Wesleyan, I affirm what the Reformers taught about the centrality of Christ, the glory of God, and the truth of Scripture. As Augustine put it first, but Wesley made it famous: “In essentials unity, in non-essentials liberty, but in all things love.”
I collect Black Forest carvings and stories. Above the door to my study is a carved sign that reads, in German, “Peace and Joy to all who enter.” But I almost carved another sign in its place.
It was reputedly carved above the front door of an old German schoolmaster: “Dante, Luther, Goethe, Barth, Heidegger live here.” None of them live there, of course. But this old schoolmaster had so lived in communion with their ideas and ideals that it seemed as if they all shared his humble home.
I only want to write one thing over the doorpost to my heart and life: “Jesus Christ lives here.” (Online source).
Stephan Joubert responded to Leonard Sweets new spotless anti-Emergent garb as follows.
In the light of the above-mentioned reactions there can’t be any decent debate about the so-called “emerging church” (But you should read the following article which gives a good overview of the movement: http://www.pomofaith.com/the-emerging-church/).
For the record – it’s interesting that well-known leaders who originally used the term “emerging,” people like Erwin McManus and Dan Kimball, are no longer taking part in any so-called emerging conversations at all. In turn, Leonard Sweet, who created the term “emergent” distanced himself from this topic in a debate with McLaren and Jones in the magazine RELEVANT (21 Julie (sic)/Aug. 2006).
His unambigous words were: “Count me out!” I agree. In fact, I want to confirm the following about the “emerging church” with Leonard Sweet (See his article: “Answering my Critics – A Response”).
Have these two gentlemen been true and loyal to their new mantra “Count me out” and actually discarded their Emergent leopard’s spots?
The much-used phrase “guilty by association” is not such a bad yardstick to gauge one’s religious affiliations after all. Indeed, it gives one a very good idea of how the spotless minds of those who plead innocence while they still sport the same spots they allegedly discarded, really work.
Like Leonard Sweet who hails New Ager, David Spangler, Willis Harman, M, Scott Peck, Matthew Fox and other contemplatives as the “New Light Leaders” and among the most creative religious leaders in America today, (who) . . . . are . . . . carving out channels for new ideas to flow, (2) Stephan Joubert has his own little crowd of Emergent contemplatives whom he lusciously hails as “Today’s new saints [who] are those who in solitude find peace and quiet with God and manifest it in genuine ways.”
However hard they may try to persuade their followers that their association with well-known contemplatives and New Agers does not defile their own spotless anti-Emergent character, they need to explain why they are still tenaciously, happily and openly fraternizing with the leaders of the Mosaiek Church in Fairland, Johannesburg who are all full-blooded contemplative emergents. (Please see the billboard on the left announcing Leonard Sweet’s visit to the Mosaiek Church on March 10th, 2015).
THE CORE ELEMENT OF THE EMERGENT CHURCH
Before we continue, it is perhaps a good thing to remind ourselves what the core element or characteristic of the Emergent Church is. Of all the notable elements there is one in particular that sums up the Emergent Church – “silence is the first language of God” and its counterpart “practicing the presence of God.”
Thomas Keating, one of the most revered contemplatives in Emergent Church circles, including the Mosaiek Church, defines contemplative or centering prayer as follows:
Centering Prayer is a method of silent prayer that prepares us to receive the gift of contemplative prayer, prayer in which we experience God’s presence within us, closer than breathing, closer than thinking, closer than consciousness itself. This method of prayer is both a relationship with God and a discipline to foster that relationship.
Centering Prayer is not meant to replace other kinds of prayer. Rather, it adds depth of meaning to all prayer and facilitates the movement from more active modes of prayer – verbal, mental or affective prayer – into a receptive prayer of resting in God. Centering Prayer emphasizes prayer as a personal relationship with God and as a movement beyond conversation with Christ to communion with Him.
The source of Centering Prayer, as in all methods leading to contemplative prayer, is the Indwelling Trinity: Father, Son, and Holy Spirit. The focus of Centering Prayer is the deepening of our relationship with the living Christ. The effects of Centering Prayer are ecclesial, as the prayer tends to build communities of faith and bond the members together in mutual friendship and love.
Tony Campolo who was an honourable guest speaker from 19-21 February 2009 at the Moreleta Park DRC declared:
[M]ysticism [contemplative prayer] provides some hope for common ground between Christianity and Islam. Both religions have within their histories examples of ecstatic union with God … I do not know what to make of the Muslim mystics, especially those who have come to be known as the Sufis. What do they experience in their mystical experiences? Could they have encountered the same God we do in our Christian mysticism? (Tony Campolo, Speaking my Mind, p. 149, 150).
Since time immemorial man has devised his owns means and practices to climb up to God and enter into his presence. Cain tried it and the offering of his own efforts (good works) to enter into God’s presence was rejected outright. Contemplative spirituality is but an extension of Cain’s offering and therefore equally despicable and worthy of rejection. Moreover, it is also an extension of Adam’s and Eve’s pathetic effort to cover their nakedness (a symbol of man’s sins and transgressions) with aprons of leaves.
Contemplative spirituality tramples underfoot the only means to enter into the presence of God – i.e. through the blood of Jesus Christ.
For the life of the flesh is in the blood: and I have given it to you upon the altar to make an atonement for your souls: for it is the blood that maketh an atonement for the soul. (Leviticus 17:11).
Having therefore, brethren, boldness to enter into the holiest by the blood of Jesus, By a new and living way, which he hath consecrated for us, through the veil, that is to say, his flesh; And having an high priest over the house of God; Let us draw near with a true heart in full assurance of faith, having our hearts sprinkled from an evil conscience, and our bodies washed with pure water. (Hebrews 10:19-22).
It is another gospel espousing another Jesus and another unholy spirit and therefore worthy of Paul’s extreme indictment in Galatians 1:8-9.
But even if we or an angel from heaven should preach to you a gospel contrary to and different from that which we preached to you, let him be accursed (anathema, devoted to destruction, doomed to eternal punishment)!
As we said before, so I now say again: If anyone is preaching to you a gospel different from or contrary to that which you received [from us], let him be accursed (anathema, devoted to destruction, doomed to eternal punishment)!
STEPHAN JOUBERT’S NEW CONTEMPLATIVE SAINTS
ENTER NEW JUDAS-SAINT #A1 – Stephan Joubert
The following quote comes from Stephan Joubert’s book “Jesus, ‘n Radikale Sprong” and proves without any doubt that his theology is still solidly steeped in the Emergent Church, although he denies it.
Lives filled with reflection and silent contemplation. Innovative faith communities are increasingly returning to the original roots of Christendom.
Peoples’ deep need for a life changing spirituality in our hectic world is inspiring the rediscovery of precious disciplines from the early church in many places.
Reflective, apophatic prayer, as well as the spiritual reading of the Word (Lectio Divina) is once again the order of the day.
The revival of retraites, pilgrimages and visits to places of prayer and solitude is indicative of this worldwide quest in Christian circles for an innermost becoming part of the character of the Living God.
The new journeys of many Christians are those big inner directed journeys. Now it concerns the journey of the soul on its way to bigger peace and rest at the feet of God.
These quests are not only undertaken during the dark moments of the soul.
No, it is also undertaken as part of peoples’ normal spiritual discipline(-s) of dedication to God. It means that the present interest in retraites is complemented with the daily practice of these principles.
Many faith communities arrange special occasions such as silent services, daily communion and smaller gatherings in order to experience God’s presence, holiness and magnitude through spiritual disciplines of silence and solitude.
Christian meditatio and refelction on the Word in this context serve as travel guides.
Lectio Divina with its beautiful facets of oratio, contemplatio, lectio and meditatio aim to make the Word of God part of the believers metabolism so that it may be entrenched in their hearts and lives.
Today’s new saints are those who in solitude find peace and quiet with God and manifest it in genuine ways.
They are the silent voices of hope. Their own mysterious discoveries of God’s goodness is magnetic.
They are the new signposts who help people to find meaning in their lives.
They are endearing fellow travellers to God’s heart that leads people into new relationships with God.
People like Willem Nicol, Trevor Hudson and Johan Geyser are telling examples of this spirituality. (Emphasis added).
ENTER NEW JUDAS-SAINT #1 – Willem Nicol
Willem Nicol is a real humdinger when it comes to sainthood. In fact, he supersedes all the other Judas-saints, sorry, Joubert-saints. How did he receive his sainthood? Well, read the following quotes form his book “Gebed van die Hart” (Prayer of the Heart”) to see why he is such a pristinely honorable saint.
“There are people who on a daily basis experience what significance the Bible has for their spirit, . . . It is understandable that many of us do not enjoy the Bible any longer . . . especially the free spirits who are interested in meditation feel that the Bible is too restrictive.” Whatever your belief is, silence helps you to open yourself more to it (your faith convictions) and to be formed by them (Willem Nicol: “Gebed van die Hart” [Prayer of the Heart“]
Non-Christians are also invited, especially the ones who are interested in meditation. Many religions experience the value of silence in different ways, and insofar it is good, it actually does come from God, so that our experiences should open paths to one another and to Him. (4)
Perhaps we can now better understand why Stephan Joubert advises his fellow pilgrims in the Emergent Church not to return to the Bible.
One of his modern-day holy gurus taught him so. It boils down to the notion that the experience Christians and non-Christians have through silence and meditation, prepares the way for both to find one another and to open the doorway to God.
Contrary to this, Paul very distinctly says that it is only the blood of Christ and nothing else that opened the way to God (Hebrews 19:10).
Anything else being offered to us, other than the blood of Christ, as though it prepares and opens the way to God, is not only a foul polluted peace of dung but also blatant blasphemy.
Today’s saints like Willem Nicol who is “in” and not “out” with Stephan Joubert, does not believe, and says so very explicitly, that Jesus is not the only way to God the Father.
The above quote from his book “Gebed van die Hart,” unquestionably proves that he no longer believes that Jesus is the unique and only Way to the Father and that everyone – Christian and non-Christian – can gain access to the Father through contemplative disciplines such as silence and solitude.
Speaking of the twelve apostles, the Bible says that they were first-hand eyewitnesses of Jesus Christ’s death, burial, and resurrection and therefore the first signposts who pointed to the only Person who is able to give new meaning to people’s lives.
There is no such thing as new signposts with new agendas (steeped in contemplative spiritualties) who give new meaning to people’s lives.
The Gospel, once delivered to us by the apostles, is sufficient to do this and therefore worthy of defense (Jude 1:3). Today’s so-called saints cannot possibly be regarded as saints because they have already strayed so far away from God’s Word and his Truth, even to the extent that they have become perfect candidates for Paul’s anathemas in Galatians 1:8 – 9.
This serenely silent, contemplative Judas-saint admits that meditation can be an avenue for Satan and his demons to speak to you. In his book “Prayer of the Heart,” p. 97 he says:
“While waiting for promptings, your own inner self or even evil spirits may speak to you”
A former New Ager who had since repented and is now truly saved verifies Nicol’s observation in the horrendous experience he had with demons.
” … my spirit was roaming some of the farthest reaches of ‘heavenly light’ that I had ever perceived … I was surrounded by a virtually overwhelming luminosity-it was as if I was looking straight into the sun.
Waves of bliss radiated through my spirit. I was totally captivated by the power. Suddenly another force stepped in. It took me by complete surprise.
In the twinkling of an eye, it was like a supernatural hand had taken me behind the scene of the experience that I was having.
I was taken behind the outer covering of dazzling luminosity and there saw something that left me literally shaking for a full week.
What I saw was the face of devouring darkness! Behind the glittering outer facade of beauty lay a massively powerful, wildly churning face of absolute hatred and unspeakable abominations-the face of demons filled with the power of Satan.” (Richard Baer, Inside the New Age Nightmare, Huntington House, Inc., 1989:55).
This, dear reader and followers of the Mosaiek Church is what these so-called new saints are leading you into if you persist in listening to and obeying their false teachings.
Willem Nicol – a new saint who scorns and casts God’s Word from him like putrified dung? REALLY?
ENTER NEW JUDAS-SAINT #2 – Trevor Hudson
Trevor Hudson, the Joubert-saint who regularly preaches his saintly sermons at the Mosaiek Church in Fairlands, Johannesburg, is a panenthiest who believes Jesus is in everything and everyone and everyone and everything is in Jesus. This is what he said at the Mosaiek Church conference held at the Mosaiek Church in Fairlands, Johannesburg on 4 tot 5 September 2009 during Session 2 “Transfiguration: Up and Down the Mountain.”
As we go on this journey with Jesus into these experiences, we dis . . . – we use a big word here and just try and unpack it a bit – we discover the sacramentality of this universe, that this universe, this universe is like a sacrament; its like this whole universe is God’s holy land, because when they get up, you remember this, when they get up, what do they see? Do you remember? Go back to the story.
You read the story! What do they see when they get up? They see Jesus only. They see everything in Jesus and Jesus in everything, huh? . . . They see a Christ-shaped world.
They saw a Christ-shaped-world that is governed and controlled by the god of this world who has blinded the minds of them which believe not, lest the light of the glorious gospel of Christ, who is the image of God, should shine unto them? (2 Corinthians 4:4). Really?
They saw a Christ-shaped world that hates Him? Really? (John 15:18). Did Christ shape the world that hates Him? Trevor Hudson’s infamous assertion proves that the god of this world has indeed blinded his mind. How dare he say that Satan’s devastating and chaotic control of this world is Christ-shaped. Is Jesus Satan’s accomplice?
That was shocker number 1. Schocker number 2 is, does Trevor Hudson inspire his listeners to practice idolatry?
Please bear this in mind when I quote to you a few excerpts from Trevor Hudson’s book “Discovering our Spiritual Identity: Practices for God’s Beloved” (pp. 93-95) and decide for yourself whether he is promulgating idolatry in the form of “an image formed by the art and imagination of man.”
THE KINGDOM OF GOD IS MADE ACCESSIBLE THROUGH THE PRESENCE OF THE CRUCIFIED AND RISEN CHRIST, AND THIS PRESENCE NEEDS TO BE INVOKED IN ORDER FOR US TO EXPERIENCE THE KINGDOM.
Can you think of some external sign which, if strategically placed in your home or place of work, would encourage you to be more mindful of God’s nearby presence?
TURNING IN A CHRIST WARD DIRECTION
The meaning of the Greek word for repentance, metanoia, once again helps us here. It means “thinking about our thinking.” Whereas prior to conversion we lived our lives without reference to Christ, there is now the desire to let him be the center of our thinking and living. Regularly turning our minds toward him is one practical way of ensuring that this happens.
This does not mean thinking only about the Holy One all the time. This could have disastrous consequences concerning the tasks we have to accomplish. I like the story which David Sheppard, bishop of Liverpool. tells about himself. He was playing in a crucial cricket test match between Australia and England. He had recently been ordained as a priest.
In the outfield he dropped a vital catch. An Australian spectator shouted at him from the stands: “Hey, parstor, keep your eye on the ball and take your mind off God:’
We direct the mind Christward by frequently affirming the closeness of the Divine Presence. Whether washing dishes, doing housework, sitting in the boardroom. working on the factory floor or typing reports, we acknowledge God with us wherever we are.
These repeated affirmations may find their shape in a short prayer inwardly whispered, the recall of a biblical phrase, a silent pausing. Sometimes just repeating the name of Jesus centers our lives in that portable inner sanctuary where the Most High dwells.
This way of invoking the presence of Christ is made known through an easy-to-read little book called The Way of the Pilgrim. It tells the story of a Russian pilgrim peasant who repeated the name of Jesus wherever he went and describes the experiences that resulted from this practice. [Thomas says: Matthew 6:7].
With these little affirmations” we are not trying to generate or manufacture the presence of God. The bottom line has already been clearly established: in God we live and move and have our being. Or as Paul elsewhere reflects, “in him all things hold together” (Colossians 1:17).
Developing the practice of this mental habit means we are taking this truth seriously and acting boldly on it. There come times when dark circumstances, painful relationships and feelings of spiritual barrenness will mock our attempts at this practice.
In such moments. continuing with our affirmations demonstrates a trusting faith that there is nothing “able to separate us from the love of God that is in Christ Jesus our Lord’ (Romans 8:39 MV).
Habits of holy mindfulness are not easily formed. In their awkward early stages they need all the help they can get. Tangible symbols of the Holy help us in this regard.
Orthodox Russian believers place an icon in the corner of each room that communicates a sense of the sacred to anyone who enters. A business executive friend of mine writes out a biblical verse on his desktop pad. A stay-at-home mom plays a music tape of Taize chants while she dusts and sweeps. (Emphasis added).
Why do you need to invoke the presence of the crucified and risen Christ when He has already promised that He would never leave or forsake his true followers? You can repeat the Jesus Prayer and chant Taize songs until the cows come home but you will never invoke the presence of Jesus. He is seated at the right hand of God and every genuine child and follower of God is already in Him where He is seated at the right hand of God (Ephesians 2:4-6).
The irony is that Trevor Hudson refers to Matthew 28: 20 (p. 91) where Jesus made his immutable and infallible promise “And behold, I am with you always, to the end of the age” but then completely neutralizes the potency of Christ’s promise by declaring that his presence needs to be invoked in order for us to experience the Kingdom of God.
It’s more like saying: “Christ’s promises are irrevocably steadfast and true but we need to invoke his promises in tangible ways in order for us to experience his presence.”
And how do they aim to do that? Well, Hudson himself says that his presence cannot be generated or manufactured but that tangible symbols such an icon (Roman Catholic idol) in the corner of each room in your home or Taize chants are little affirmations that strengthen your faith in his promises.
When Jesus asked his disciples whether they also wanted to turn their backs on him and leave, Peter said: “Lord, to whom shall we go? you have the words of eternal life.” (John 6:68). He did not say: “Lord, give each of us a little icon (idol) of yourself and we will place it in a strategic corner of our home to serve as little affirmations of your words of eternal life. We desperately need to direct our minds Christ-ward by frequently affirming the closeness of Your Divine Presence”
No! Jesus Christ’s words (promises) are sufficient to carry his disciples through the debris, problems, inconsistencies, and complexities of this world right into the hereafter of eternal bliss and into the never-ending presence of God.
Did He not say that his followers should remind Him of his promises (Isaiah 62:6), not that He had forgotten them but that they should know and understand that it is the only way of affirming his promises?
His promises are not affirmed by means of external signs (Matthew 16:4), icons or chants but through his followers’ steadfast faith in his promises and their unwavering clinging to his promises, even to the extent that they remind him of his promises day and night.
This, however, poses a huge problem for the emergent fraternity, because they do not see the Word of God as a book of certitudes or certainties. To them the Bible (God’s Word) is in flux; whatever it says to you today is not necessarily what it may say to you tomorrow and yet both these sayings, although they may paradoxically seem to contradict each other, are both true.
It follows that you can never be certain but merely grapple with Bible truths that seem to be true and valid for today but drastically change the next day.
ENTER NEW JUDAS-SAINT #3 – Johan Geyser
Johan Geyser, the Lead Pastor of the Mosaiek Church is no mean saint himself. He is a saint par excellence who never had the guts to repudiate his little twin brother, Theo Geyser, for his scandalous remark “Maybe a sangoma (witch doctor) can be an opportunity to meet Jesus.”
ENTER NEW JUDAS-SAINT #4 – Leonard Sweet
If Stephan Joubert and Leonard Sweet have discarded their Emergent spots why don’t they both withdraw their books “Jesus a Radical Leap” and “Quantum Spirituality” and have them burned in public. That’s precisely what Eta Linnemann did. She caused quite a stir in 1978 when, due to a conversion experience in November 1977 according to her own statement, she renounced the historical-critical method, and asked readers to destroy her previous publications. (6).
In the introduction to his book “A Fresh Paradigm for Preaching “Giving Blood,” Leonard Sweet gives praise to two of today’s most influential contemplative mystics. He writes:
I cut my homiletic teeth on two literary giants – the liberal Presbyterian Frederick Buechner and the evangelical Baptist Calvin Miller. In my mind, they were the two master wordsmiths of the pulpit in the last half of the twentieth century. They modeled for me the art of great preaching, which brings together first and last things, which explores life and death in the common places of human life, which shows the dusting and washing side of love as well as entering the holy of holies of sacrifice, which sets memory against time, which showcases the strangeness of evil and the even greater strangeness of grace. (7)
Frederick Buechner who described one of the most prominent protagonists of contemplative spirituality “Eugene Peterson’s rendering of the New Testament . . . as wonderfully alive” (8) and Calvin Miller who said “Centering is the merger of two ‘selves’- ours and his [God’s] . . . [and a] . . . union with Christ,” are the gurus who modeled for Sweet the art of great preaching and proves that Lennie hasn’t revoked the Emergent Church at all. Like his buddy, Stephan Joubert, they are still smack-bang in the center of the emergent and contemplative spiritual cadre.
Today’s contemplative mystics are progressively resorting to symbols, metaphors, extra-biblical stories or narratives to enunciate the Gospel, presumably to accommodate the ever-changing landscape in a TGIF (Twitter, Google, Instagram, Facebook) global society. In his book “Giving Blood” Leonard Sweet explains this change as follows.
Before we can offer a sermon that bleeds, we need to prepare our blood in the lab. This book invites you into a homiletics lab where you can experiment with a new paradigm for preaching called ‘semiotic preaching.’ The semiotic method connects biblical narratives to indigenous cultural landscapes and their native languages of signs and symbols.
Semiotic preaching differs from traditional sermon building in its insistence on seeing the sermon itself as an incarnational medium.
Traditional textual exegesis is based on mining the ore of words to excavate the gems of “biblical principles,’ a biblical panning for nuggets of wisdom in one massive stream of words. Biblical semiotics, by contrast, is a form of spelunking the Scriptures while surfing the Spirit for resonant images and stories by which to live and for which to die in Christ.
Semiotic preaching is as much liturgical as it is exegetical. Are words the best conveyers of the divine? Or are experiences, intuitions, emotions, images, and stories more reliable and memorable? Far Jesus, parables were the most trustworthy purveyors of truth.
Semiotic preaching, really a new form of expository preaching, seeks to reconnect us with the stories, images, relationality, and resonance of the Scriptures as they were told, written, and intended to be received. In semiotic preaching, we return to the roots of our faith and to a method of conveying truth favored by Jesus himself.
No one can deny that symbols, allegories, and parables play a major role in Scripture. However, none of these symbols and parables are merely human inventions seeking “to reconnect us with the stories, images, rationality, and resonance of the Scripture as they were told.” Every single symbol, allegory, and parable were divinely inspired by God to convey deep truths in an uncomplicated, more understandable way. Preachers are obliged to stay within the ambit of these divinely given symbols and parables and never venture to devise and use their own symbols and parables to accommodate the culture.
To substantiate his stance on the use of new metaphors in “semiotic preaching” Leonard Sweet refers to the Medieval story of a pelican who revives her chicks with her own blood after the male had killed them. The story goes like this:
As young pelicans grow, they begin to strike their parents in the face with their beaks. Though the pelican has a great love for its young, it strikes back and kills them. After three days, the mother pierces her side or her breast and lets her blood fall on the dead birds, and thus revives them. Some say it is the male pelican that kills the young and revives them with his blood.
Pelicans live in Egypt. There are two kinds: one kind lives on water and eats poisonous animals like crocodiles and lizards; the other kind, with a long neck and beak, makes a sound like an ass when it drinks (this kind is called the onocrotalus). Some say that the two kinds are distinguished by other attributes: the kind that lives in water eat fish, while the kind that lives on islands eat dirty animals. The pelican has an insatiable hunger, and because its stomach cannot hold food for long, everything it eats is immediately digested.
The pelican is Christ, who humanity struck by committing sin; the pelican cutting open its own breast represents Christ’s death on the cross, and the shedding of his blood to revive us. The Aberdeen Bestiary adds that the hunger of the pelican signifies that “…the life of a hermit is modeled on the pelican, in that he lives on bread but does not seek to fill his stomach; he does not live to eat but eats to live.
Throughout the Old and New Testaments Jesus Christ is likened to a lamb and never to a pelican or any other animal to depict his humble submission to his Father, when He was lead to the slaughter on the cross. The reason for Him being depicted as a lamb becomes obvious when we read Acts 8:32. Now, let us replace “sheep” and “lamb” with “pelican.” The verse would then read as follows.
The place of the scripture which he read was this, He was led as a pelican to the slaughter; and like a pelican dumb before his shearer, so opened he not his mouth.
In fact, the pelican myth completely usurped the image of the lamb. Imagine referring to Him as “the pelican of God” instead of “the Lamb of God.”
But what is so wrong with this? – you may ask. Besides the fact that it is an imaginary or mythical characteristic of the pelican, it demeans and blasphemes the title God Himself had given to his Son – the Lamb of God.
Here’s what Widkipedia says about the pelican myth.
The self-sacrificial aspect of the pelican was reinforced by the widely read medieval bestiaries. The device of “a pelican in her piety” or “a pelican vulning (from Latin vulno, “to wound”) herself” was used in heraldry. An older version of the myth is that the pelican used to kill its young then resurrect them with its blood, again analogous to the sacrifice of Jesus. Likewise, a folktale from India says that a pelican killed her young by rough treatment but was then so contrite that she resurrected them with her own blood.
The legends of self-wounding and the provision of blood may have arisen because of the impression a pelican sometimes gives that it is stabbing itself with its bill. In reality, it often presses this onto its chest in order to fully empty the pouch. Another possible derivation is the tendency of the bird to rest with its bill on its breast; the Dalmatian pelican has a blood-red pouch in the early breeding season and this may have contributed to the myth. (Emphasis added).
It is obvious that Leonard Sweet is doing his very best to mythologize the blood sacrifice of Jesus Christ. And why shouldn’t he when he and his buddy, Stephan Joubert, are still in cahoots with the Emergent contemplative spirituality of the emerging false church?
Bear in mind that the pastors heading the Mosaiek Church in Fairlands, Johannesburg, including Stephan Joubert and Leonard Sweet who regularly appear with them as guest speakers, are all passionate admirers of Thomas Merton, the American Trappist priest, and mystic who blasphemed the cross of Christ and his blood in the following hell-deserving way.
This is a typical patriarchal notion of God. He is the God of Noah who sees people deep in sin, repents that He made them and resolves to destroy them. He is the God of the desert who sends snakes to bite His people because they murmured against Him. He is the God of David who practically decimates a people … He is the God who exacts the last drop of blood from His Son, so that His just anger, evoked by sin, may be appeased. This God whose moods alternate between graciousness and fierce anger … This God does not exist. (9) (Emphasis added).
If this is not a denial of the only true God who calls Himself the God of Abraham, Isaac, and Jacob, then I really do not know what is. Anyone who associates himself with heresies as dangerous as this is on a collision course with God.
Former Catholic priest Brennan Manning who has been a major influence in emerging spirituality is another heretic with whom the Mosaiek Church, Stephan Joubert, and Leonard Sweet love to associate. In his 2003 book Above All, he quotes William Shannon almost word for word, regarding the atonement:
The god whose moods alternate between graciousness and fierce anger … the god who exacts the last drop of blood from his Son so that his just anger, evoked by sin, may be appeased, is not the God revealed by and in Jesus Christ. And if he is not the God of Jesus, he does not exist. (10) (emphasis added)
Marcus Borg, yet another heretic revered by the Mosaiek Church in Fairlands, Johannesburg, spewed out the following hell-deserving sewage hogwash:
I let go of the notion that the Bible is a divine product. I learned that it is a human cultural product, the product of two ancient communities, biblical Israel and early Christianity. As such, it contained their understandings and affirmations, not statements coming directly or somewhat directly from God…. I realized that whatever “divine revelation” and the “inspiration of the Bible” meant (if they meant anything), they did not mean that the Bible was a divine product with divine authority. (11)
Jesus almost certainly was not born of a virgin, did not think of himself as the Son of God, and did not see his purpose as dying for the sins of the world. (12)
To think that the central meaning of Easter [resurrection] depends upon something spectacular happening to Jesus’ corpse misses the point of the Easter message and risks trivializing the story. To link Easter primarily to our hope for an afterlife, as if our post-death existence depends upon God having transformed the corpse of Jesus, is to reduce the story to a politically-domesticated yearning for our survival beyond death. (13) (Emphasis added)
Thomas Keating, one of the Mosaiek Church’s most revered heretics teaches the following satanically inspired lies:
“If you don’t want to become God, you’ve missed the boat. If you’re too humble to think you can become God, if you think you are not worthy, that is a false humility, because it’s not yours to decide.” (14)
“The four Gospels contain Jesus’ program for revolutionizing our understanding of the Ultimate Reality and hence of ourselves and other people, and
indeed of all created reality. This is the God that is manifesting who he is at every moment, in and through us and through all creation. Jesus’ teaching initiates us into how to take part in this cosmic adventure. For human beings, it is the most daunting challenge there is — the challenge of becoming fully divine. For to become human is to become fully divine.” (Emphasis added).
—-Fr. Thomas Keating, on www.incarnationalcontemplation.com
Leonard Sweet says, “Guilt by association” is intellectually disreputable and injurious to the whole body of Christ.”
This is what the Bible says about ill-founded associations and relationships.
Be ye not unequally yoked together with unbelievers: for what fellowship hath righteousness with unrighteousness? and what communion hath light with darkness?
And what concord hath Christ with Belial? or what part hath he that believeth with an infidel?
And what agreement hath the temple of God with idols? for ye are the temple of the living God; as God hath said, I will dwell in them, and walk in them; and I will be their God, and they shall be my people.
Wherefore come out from among them, and be ye separate, saith the Lord, and touch not the unclean thing; and I will receive you,
And will be a Father unto you, and ye shall be my sons and daughters, saith the Lord Almighty. (2 Corinthians 6:14-18)
The question, however, is whether the Mosaiek Church are genuine believers or just a bunch of religious/spiritual terrorists who are killing the souls of their unsuspecting victims – worse than the ISIS terrorists who are killing the bodies of their victims by beheading them and are unable to do anything more. (Matthew 10:28).
May God have mercy on their pitiful souls.
This video is for our Afrikaans readers.
1) Download: www.lighthousetrails.com/awdch11.pdf
2) In defense of his eulogy to New Agers and false teachers, Leonard Sweet piously said “Because I quote someone does not mean I agree with everything that person ever wrote. Paul quoted pagan philosophers in the Book of Acts. Quantum Spirituality was the first book that broke up the text on a page and inserted side-bars and images and quotes, a feature which is now the norm for most books. Some of the quotes I chose were meant to provide contrasting positions to my argument, some to buttress my argument, some even to mock my argument. The key consideration to whether I quoted someone was not “Do I agree with them?” but “Does this quote energize the conversation?” “Guilt by association” is intellectually disreputable and injurious to the whole body of Christ.” Quoting others to expose their heresies and quoting them to prove that they are among the most creative religious leaders in America who are carving out channels for new ideas to flow” is quite another kettle of fish. To suggest that Paul, Peter and even Jesus did the very same is akin to blasphemy.
3) Stephan Joubert, “Jesus ‘n Radikalew Sprong” (“Jesus, a Radical Leap,”) p. 199-200
4) Willem Nicol, “Gebed van die Hart,” p. 12, 14
5) “What does God think of us,” broadcast on SABC2 on April 24 2011 – See more at: http://www.discerningtheworld.com/2011/09/09/what-does-god-think-of-us-broadcasts-on-sabc2-830am-presented-by-theo-geyser/#sthash.nAoUaSTP.dpuf
(6) Eta Linnemann. Historical Criticism of the Bible: Methodology or Ideology? – Reflections of a Bultmannian turned Evangelical. Trans. Robert W. Yarbrough. Grand Rapids: Baker, 1990. 20pp.
9) William Shannon, Silence on Fire (New York, NY: The Crossroad Publishing Company, 1995 edition), pp. 109-110.
10) Brennan Manning, Above All (Brentwood, TN: Integrity Publishers, 2003), pp. 58-59.
11) Marcus Borg, The God We Never Knew (New York, NY: HarperCollins, First HarperCollins Paperback Edition, 1998), p. 25.
12) Marcus Borg, The God We Never Knew (New York, NY: HarperCollins, First HarperCollins Paperback Edition, 1998), p. 25.
13) Marcus Borg, “Easter About Life, Not Death” (Washington Post/Newsweek “On Faith” column, April 7, 2004, http://newsweek.washingtonpost.com/onfaith).
14) clip #17 in Fr. Keating’s 21 part series on what he calls “Integral Contemplative Christianity.” Part of a video series offered on Ken Wilber’s “Integral Life” website.
Thank you for your comprehensive analysis.
I don’t think Sweet has changed his spots really. Look at his choice
of words “energizing” and stuff like that. I am sure he is still for
contemplative spirituality. And that is dangerous even if you use all
the right words and preach the Gospel correctly. In Eastern Orthodox
monasticism where the Jesus Prayer is used, and also among those “in
the world” ditto there are sharp warnings about “prelest” (plani in
Greek) which is spiritual deception. This term covers everything from
a private “fancy” a personal perhaps secretly held delusion of some
sort, to major self deception, to demonic influence deception to outright
possession. One monk was persuaded to stop praying and just read books
by an “angel” who said he’d do his prayers for him. It took a while to
get him out of this. Another was tricked into worshipping a demon who
pretended to be Jesus. I think that was the incident that resulted in
possession, which wasn’t ended until his friends dragged him into a
church and threw him at the foot of the altar. These of course are extreme
situations. A monk reported to a priest that he used visualization in his
prayers, and was getting all sorts of visions and experiences. The priest
was horrified, especially on learning that a lot of monks on Mt. Athos
where I think this monk came from were doing the same. The priest advised
him to do his prayers without visualization, and the visions and experiences
Visualization is a major part of Roman Catholic “spirituality” and an
excellent article on this notes that most if not all of the visionary
experiences of RC saints have all the earmarks of prelest.
Most importantly, is the error of contemplative prayer and lectio divina.
These are credited to the Desert Fathers, but in fact this is wrong, and
most people don’t even know this. What the early monks called contemplative
prayer was like what David called meditation in the Psalms, not emptying
the mind to have a blank slate, but emptying it of everything except the Bible passages you are contemplating or meditating on. Lectio divina (a
Latin term I don’t know what the Greek term is) was not about getting into
a mood, “soaking” in the Scripture bit maybe using it for a chant and then
you’re off to regular life. It was about reading the Scripture in order to
put it into practice.
The modern versions date to Roman Catholic monastics, who overreacted to the rationalism of scholasticism, which is not proper rationality, but the ancestor to the cult of reason among secularists and atheists of the “enlightenment.” Instead of moderating it, they went whole hog in the
other direction. Roman Catholicism as we know it is a product of the Middle Ages of western Europe (mostly), and the once Orthodox Patriarchate of Rome had been drifting for a few centuries into various practices at odds with
the undivided Church. this plus the filioque bore fruit in the Great Schism of AD 1054. While I do not think RC lost all grace as many Orthodox think, it definitely was quenching The Holy Spirit as St. PAul warns not to do.
The major prelest like developments were after this. Including the notion of the Immaculate Conception (as distinct from living an immaculate life), papal infallibility, and of course papal supremacy. Rome had primacy meaning first among equals, a primacy of honor, but (maybe Latin had a different
connotation for the word?) Rome tended to treat this as supremacy more and more. Rome’s primacy in the church came not from petrine considerations, but from political considerations. Rome was the first city of the empire, so they thought it should be first city (not of origin but of honor) in the Church.