An Excerpt from Tamara Hartzell's new online book:
"Reimagining" God: Turning the Light off to Look for "Truth" in the Corner of a Dark Round Room
Below is a relevant discussion of the "new gospel" taught by Leonard Sweet and other evangelical and New Age leaders. Today's excerpt is from Chapter 5, p. 136.
Nazareth [is] the culmination of energymatter”
"The purpose of the church is to give form to,
"The Gospel According to" Anything and Everyone?
to put into
form and shape,
known as Jesus Christ"
hose who are choosing to put their faith in Oneness and its
panentheistic “God” and “truth” that are in
everyone and everything will see nothing “superior” about the truth of God’s Word nor see any “advantage” to having God’s Word. Rather,
they are attempting to “heal the divisions” between religions by looking for
and creating “the kind of coherencies and larger frameworks” that unify the religions/faiths/cultures.
Consequently, the “old” light of God’s written Word of truth is being replaced
with the “new light” of the collective “divine cocreativity”—i.e., collective “storytelling”—of today’s emerging interfaith community.
In this emerging
faith “relationship, not believing” and likewise “connectness rather than correctness” have indeed become central.
Since nothing is “false and wrong” in this new “light” of Oneness,
the need for beliefs to be “correct and
true” has been rendered irrelevant.
And, of course, with a panentheistic interfaith “God” of Oneness everyone can
look for “truth” wherever they choose to find it and even call it
“Scripture” and “the Word” and “the Gospel” if they so desire.
“Look not to one source, but to all sources,
and even to all of Life, for your definition and experience of the
Divine. Reject nothing, but also include everything.
“Do not say that the truth is
exclusively ‘here’ or exclusively ‘there,’ but, rather, that the truth is
‘neither here nor there,’ but every where.” (the seducing spirit
calling itself “God;” bold & underline added)[i]
is so advanced and so superior that
it can claim exclusive access or
advantage to the truth of God, and none so marginal or
inferior that it can be excluded.’”
(Leonard Sweet quoting Lamin O. Sanneh; emphasis added)[ii]
“New Lights spend their lives looking for the kind of coherencies and larger frameworks people need for unifying human experience, listening for the drumbeat of the Word amid the downbeats of the world.”
(Leonard Sweet; emphasis added)[iii]
“… Version 3.0
is the Third Testament, the Gospel According to … you.” (Leonard Sweet;
last ellipsis dots in the original; emphasis added)[iv]
“New Light embodiment means to be ‘in connection’ and ‘in-formation’ with other faiths. To be
in-formation means … to enlarge the community to include those whose conceptions of God differ from ours in form.…
“One can be a
faithful disciple of Jesus Christ without denying the flickers of the sacred in
followers of Yahweh, or Kali, or Krishna.
of evangelism ‘in connection’ with
others, and a globally ‘in-formed’ gospel, is capable of talking across
the fence with Hindu, Buddhist, Sikh,
Muslim … without assumption of superiority
and power.” (Leonard Sweet; emphasis added)[v]
“Not only did
God become incarnate at one time and in one place, thus becoming visible to the
earth, but the gospel gets incarnated in
every culture by design.…
is written in every handwriting. The world bears traces of the
handwriting of the Word.…
disciples treated with deep esteem those without
faith and those with other faiths because God is
active in their lives and we have something to learn from them.
Christians drew upon ideas, phrases,
metaphors, and customs of pagan cultures
as ‘seeds’ of the divine Word that become enfleshed in Christ and in the
church.” (Leonard Sweet; emphasis added)[vi]
another word for dis-incarnation. And
too few of these franchise ‘projects’ approached other cultures with the gospel
of love: ‘Jesus loves who and what you are, and wants to inhabit who
you are and what you are in such a way that it … blesses the world with new
understandings of who Jesus is.’”
(Leonard Sweet; emphasis added)[vii]
“God the Spirit
and Sustainer wants to work through New
Lights of the twenty-first century to
produce the Third Testament--our ‘new account of everything old.’
“New Lights’ mission in life, if they
choose to accept it, is to continue the
work of Scripture.…
“… Philip Hefner
captures wonderfully our simultaneous status as dependent creatures and free
agents in his recommendation that human beings be thought of as ‘created
co-creators.’” (Leonard Sweet; emphasis added)[viii]
is the highest collective form of divine
cocreativity.” (Leonard Sweet; emphasis added)[ix]
“What if we were
to think connectness rather than correctness?” (Leonard Sweet; emphasis added)[x]
[But Scripture says:]
“All scripture is given by inspiration of
God, and is profitable for doctrine,
for reproof, for correction,
for instruction in righteousness.” (2 Timothy 3:16)
“I charge thee
therefore before God, and the Lord Jesus Christ, who shall judge the quick and
the dead at his appearing and his kingdom; preach
the word; be instant in season, out of season;
exhort with all longsuffering and doctrine.
For the time will come when they will
not endure sound doctrine; but after their own lusts shall they heap
to themselves teachers, having itching ears; and they shall turn away their ears from the truth, and
shall be turned unto fables.” (2 Timothy 4:1-4)
“For we have not
followed cunningly devised fables, when we made known unto you the power and
coming of our Lord Jesus Christ, but were eyewitnesses of his majesty.… We have
also a more sure word of prophecy; whereunto ye do well that ye take heed, as
unto a light that shineth in a dark place, until the day dawn, and the day star
arise in your hearts: Knowing this first, that no prophecy of the scripture is of any private
interpretation. For the prophecy came not
in old time by the will of man:
but holy men of God spake as they were
moved by the Holy Ghost.” (2 Peter 1:16, 19-21)
“Even the Spirit of truth; whom the world cannot receive, because it seeth him not, neither knoweth him: but ye know him;
for he dwelleth with you, and shall be in you.” (John 14:17)
“For if he that
cometh preacheth another Jesus, whom
we have not preached, or if ye receive another
spirit, which ye have not received, or another
gospel, which ye have not accepted, ye
might well bear with him.” (2 Corinthians 11:4)
In today’s shifting Christianity, people believe they can just
correct Scripture by “rethinking” and
“reimagining” and “rewriting” it, so why would they see a need to be corrected by Scripture? Besides, “Yea, hath God said …?” Likewise, people
believe they can just “rethink” and “reimagine” God and His Son in the attempt
to fit them within the different religious/cultural contexts, so why would they
see a need for the doctrine of
Scripture that gives “the doctrine of
Christ” by which we have “both the
Father and the Son” (2 John 1:9)? Besides, a corner stone simply doesn’t work in the circle of relationship of Oneness. Hence the pursuit of “new understandings of who Jesus is” in a “Gospel”/“Third
Testament” that is “globally ‘in-formed’”
by other faiths/religions/cultures.
It is not at all surprising that people in this emerging faith of
Oneness want “the Word” “made flesh differently”—or
“reincarnated.” That is, after
all, the point. Without “another Jesus”
that is different from the Lord Jesus
Christ they cannot “heal the divisions” between religions. So this emerging
faith must change the Son of God—with
the help of man’s powerful imagination, of course. Sweet, who has actually been
praised as “[o]ne of the church’s most
important and provocative thinkers,”[xi]
“There is no
matter without spirit. There is no flesh without word. The height dimension of
faith teaches us that without the Word made flesh, there is no Word made power.
In every epoch, however, the Word is made flesh
differently. Energymatter is a
dynamic process … Logos
materializes in Pathos in forms fundamental to, shapes revelatory
of, the age.” (emphasis added, except to Logos and Pathos)[xii]
Christians drew upon ideas,
phrases, metaphors, and customs of pagan cultures as ‘seeds’ of the divine Word that become enfleshed in Christ
and in the church.” (emphasis added)[xiii]
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 energymatter
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. Informational communities exercise
both informative and performative functions. The informative function is to
impart ideas and to
communicate concepts necessary for the
life of the individual and the
“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
“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.
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.” (emphasis added)[xiv]
It is the true Lord
Jesus Christ Who is the only way to
the true God. A false “Jesus,” not to mention a “Jesus” that is made-up by man, can only lead to a false
“God.” And yet in today’s emerging faith of Oneness and its unifying mission to
create a new kind of “Gospel”/“Testament” through a new kind of “body” of a new
kind of “Christ” no one will think twice about today’s new “understandings” of
who “Jesus” is. Moreover, the panentheistic “God” of Oneness is in everyone
regardless of their beliefs and religion, so “people may genuinely
encounter God … without explicitly
knowing about Jesus of Nazareth.”[xv]
Since people in this emerging faith don’t even need to know Jesus, it clearly won’t matter what anyone believes about Jesus. And thus a false “Jesus,” “another Jesus,” becomes irrelevant as well.
So according to these pagan (“quantum”) “reimaginings,” “Jesus of
Nazareth [is] the culmination of energymatter”[xvi]
and “[t]he purpose of the church is … to put into form and shape, the
energymatter known as Jesus Christ.” “Energymatter is a dynamic process,” so
“[i]n every epoch … the Word is made
flesh differently … in forms fundamental to, shapes revelatory of, the
age.” Thus “the gospel gets incarnated in
every culture” and “ideas, phrases,
metaphors, and customs of pagan cultures” are seen “as ‘seeds’ of the divine Word that become
enfleshed in Christ and in the church.” And therefore:
mission in life, if they choose to accept it, is to continue the work of Scripture.…
of the church in the twenty-first century is to become … a seedbed in which the
texts and traditions of the faith recreate themselves in and through the body
until its molecular imagination is awakened
by a living God.
body of Christ is called to become the Third Testament.” (Leonard Sweet;
“Authenticity in postmodern culture must reflect this integration and wholeness.…
religions have something to do with the
whole, the totality. Parts have no existence apart from wholes.… This is
the essence of sin: Mistaking the part for the whole, or separating the part
from the whole.…
leadership is fundamentally gathering
communities together and building them up into a true body of Christ.”
(Leonard Sweet; emphasis added)[xviii]
“In fact, the genius of authentic Christianity is
its ability to integrate ‘pagan customs’ with Christian faith and practice.” (Leonard Sweet; emphasis added)[xix]
body of Christ is less an aggregate of persons than an aggregate of cultures; the
body of Christ is an ark of cultural organisms, each one contributing
something unique and indispensable to the body.” (Leonard Sweet; emphasis
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.” (Leonard
Sweet; emphasis added)[xxi]
communities will develop ritualized systems of relationship between the human journey and the nature of things. In the modern era worship was demystified and denatured. Postmoderns are driven by
desire to explore and celebrate an ever-deepening intimacy with the Great Mystery that is the universe. Liturgies of the
earth--fire, land, wind, and water--can
restore the biological and physical rhythms of the planet to our
computer-programmed consciousness. Outdoor earth rituals can also provide
worshipers with experiences of connectedness
to all earthlings: What the Sioux Indians call the creeping people, the
standing people, the flying people, and the swimming people. All earthlings must be incorporated into the body of Christ in more ways than
just through the ‘blessing of the animals.’ We must find ritual ways to
make earthlings’ presence felt, their participation solicited, their voices
heard, if the ideal of ecological worship
is to be realized.” (Leonard Sweet; emphasis added)[xxii]
Suffice it to say that in today’s emerging faith that is
unarguably a “make-it-up-as-you-go-along
process,”[xxiii] it will obviously be irrelevant that the “new understandings of who Jesus is” do not line up with the truth of Who the Lord Jesus Christ is
and what He did for us—i.e., the true Gospel of Christ—as recorded in God’s
Word of truth! Rather, it all merely becomes a “Third Testament.” And a cosmic
“Third Testament” that is made up in and through a cosmic “body” of a cosmic
“Christ” will indeed produce “new understandings
of who Jesus is.” It will
conveniently provide countless variations
of “the Gospel According to …”
This phrase sounds familiar. In fact, today’s shifting
Christianity, which has long since abandoned looking in the obvious place for
the truth about God and His Son, should be quite familiar with all the
never-ending absurd “reimaginings” associated with it. After all, according to
the new way of thinking:
“The truth of
thought is not dependent on its source: It’s the same truth whether from the
mouth of Jesus or the ass of Balaam. Truth as words is no different whether
from the utterances of Paul or the udders of a cow. It matters not.” (Leonard
“Look not to one
source, but to all sources, and even to all of Life, for your definition and
experience of the Divine. Reject nothing, but also include everything.
“Do not say that
the truth is exclusively ‘here’ or exclusively ‘there,’ but, rather, that the
truth is ‘neither here nor there,’ but every
where.” (the seducing spirit calling itself “God”)[xxv][emphasis added]
Incidentally, ideas that are pagan,
and concepts of “God” and of “Jesus”/“Christ” that are different from the Christian truth
of Who God is and Who the Lord Jesus Christ is, are only “necessary for the life of the individual and the community” in a community of Oneness. And a community of Oneness is a community that only has “life” if the divisive belief in the Lord Jesus Christ is “healed.” Thus, contrary to becoming
“cloaks of knowledge,” this emerging faith actually cloaks knowledge on purpose. And at the same time, what better way
to “heal” this divisive belief than with the pagan idea of a “God” and “Christ” that are immanent in everyone and everything? This way, it can “build anew the body of Christ”—not to mention
“the kingdom of God”—in its creation and formation of a storytelling interfaith community that “include[s] those whose
conceptions of God differ from ours
"For other foundation can no man lay than that is laid,
which is Jesus Christ."
I Corinthians 3:11
as quoted by Neale Donald Walsch, Tomorrow’s
God, p. 208.
Sweet, So Beautiful, p. 287; quoting
Lamin O. Sanneh, Whose Religion Is
Christianity? (Grand Rapids, MI: Eerdmans, 2003), p. 106.
Sweet, Quantum Spirituality, p. 51.
Sweet, So Beautiful, p. 37.
Sweet, Quantum Spirituality, pp.
Sweet, So Beautiful, pp. 165-167.
Sweet, Quantum Spirituality, pp.
Sweet, So Beautiful, p. 139.
Sweet, Quantum Spirituality, p. 101.
Sweet, So Beautiful, pp. 166-167.
Sweet, Quantum Spirituality, pp. 121-123.
Sweet, So Beautiful, p. 155.
Sweet, Quantum Spirituality, p. 124.
Sweet, So Beautiful, p. 204.
as quoted by Neale Donald Walsch, Tomorrow’s
God, p. 208.
Sweet, Quantum Spirituality, p. 65 and 121-123.
Republished with permission of the author. Several headings, the Bible verse at the end, and bold and color emphases were added to this text to enhance its re-posting. See also: The Mission of Creating "the Third Testament". Next subsection in Chapter 5 is titled "Dialoguing to the consensus/connectness/Oneness of today's new "truth"