Leonard Sweet

From Wikipedia, the free encyclopedia:

Leonard I. Sweet is an American theologian, church historian, pastor, and author. Sweet currently serves as the E. Stanley Jones Professor of Evangelism at Drew Theological School at Drew University, in Madison, New Jersey; and a Visiting Distinguished Professor at George Fox University in Portland, Oregon. Sweet is a leading figure in the emerging church movement (though he has publicly disagreed with some of the positions taken by other leaders in the movement, such as his friend Brian McLaren) and is a major figure in discussions about Christianity's transition to postmodernity. Sweet is also an advocate of contextualizing Christianity into digital culture. He is regularly voted one of the most influential Christian leaders in America. Sweet is ordained in the United Methodist denomination.

Sweet is founder and President of SpiritVenture Ministries. His writings focus on the study of Semiotics (the study of signs and sign processes).

He has over 1000 published sermons, and currently is the chief weekly contributor to the lectionary-based sermons.com. Sweet has weekly podcasting on iTunes entitled Napkin Scribbles.

Sweet has served a term on the council of the American Society of Church History and was an associate editor of the Journal of the American Academy of Religion for ten years. He earned his Master of Divinity degree from Colgate/Rochester/Bexley Hall/Crozer and Ph.D from the University of Rochester. Sweet is the recipient of honorary Doctorates of Divinity from University of Richmond, Baker University, Lebanon Valley College, and Otterbein College.

  • Black Images of America, 1784-1870 (1976)
  • New Life in the Spirit (1982)
  • The Minister’s Wife: Her Role in Nineteenth-Century American Evangelicalism (1983)
  • Editor, The Evangelical Tradition in America (1984) (Reprinted 1997)
  • The Lion's Pride (1987)
  • Quantum Spirituality: a Postmodern Apologetic (1991)
  • Editor, Communication and Change in American Religious History (1993)
  • FaithQuakes (1994)
  • Health and Medicine in the Evangelical Tradition (1994)
  • Strong in the Broken Places (1995)
  • The Jesus Prescription for a Healthy Life (1996)
  • A Cup of Coffee at the SoulCafe (1998)
  • Eleven Genetic Gateways to Spiritual Awakening (1998)
  • Soul Tsunami: Sink or Swim in New Millennium Culture (1999)
  • >Aqua Church: Essential Leadership Arts for Piloting Your Church in Today's Fluid Culture (1999)
  • SoulSalsa (2000)
  • Postmodern Pilgrims: A 1st Century Passion for a 21st Century Church (2000)
  • The Dawn Mistaken for Dusk: If God so Loved the World, Why Can't We? (2000)
  • Carpe Manana: Is Your Church Ready to Seize Tomorrow? (2001)
  • A is for Abductive (2001)
  • Jesus Drives Me Crazy (2003)
  • Editor, The Church in Emerging Culture: Five Perspectives (2003)
  • Summoned to Lead (2004)
  • Out of the Question...Into the Mystery: Getting Lost in the Godlife Relationship (2004)
  • The Three Hardest Words In The World To Get Right (2006)
  • The Gospel According to Starbucks (2007)
  • The Voice from on High (2007)
  • The Voice: Genesis (2008)
  • The Church of the Perfect Storm (2008)
  • 11: Indispensable Relationships You Can't Be Without (2008)
  • Postmodern and Wesleyan?: Exploring the Boundaries and Possibilities (2009)
  • So Beautiful (2009)
  • Jesus Manifesto: Restoring the Supremacy and Sovereignty of Jesus Christ (with Frank Viola) (2010)
  • Nudge: Awakening Each Other to the God Who’s Already There (2010)
  • The Seraph Seal (with Lori Wagner) (2011)
  • Real Church in a Social Network World: From Facebook to Face-to-Face Faith (2011)
  • I Am a Follower: The Way, Truth, and Life of Following Jesus (2012)
  • Viral: How Social Networking is Poised to Ignite Revival (2012)
  • What Matters Most: How We Got the Point but Missed the Person (2012)
  • The Greatest Story Never Told: Revive Us Again (2012)
  • Jesus: A Theography (with Frank Viola) (2012)
  • Indispensable Relationships You Can't Be Without (2012)
  • The Well-Played Life: Why Pleasing God Doesn't Have to Be Such Hard Work
  • Giving Blood: A Fresh Paradigm for Preaching (2014)
  • Me and We: God's New Social Gospel (2014)
  • From Tablet to Table: Where Community Is Found and Identity Is Formed (2015)
  • Jesus Speaks: Learning to Recognize and Respond to the Lord's Voice (with Frank Viola) (2016)
  • The Bad Habits of Jesus: Showing Us the Way to Live Right in a World Gone Wrong (2016)
  • Mother Tongue:How Our Heritage Shapes Our Story (2017)
  • Meditation on Space-Time (2017)
  • Rings of Fire: Walking in Faith through a Volcanic Future (2019)

    Audio series




    Leonard Sweet's homepage: http://www.leonardsweet.com/
    His new website from 2015 is preachthestory.com

    In 2006 and 2007, Sweet was voted by his peers “One of the 50 Most Influential Christians in America” by ChurchReport Magazine, and in 2010, he was selected by the top non-English Christian website as one of the “Top 10 Influential Christians of 2010." His popular podcast, “Napkin Scribbles,” is widely quoted, and his weekly sermon contributions to sermons.com have made that site the top preaching resource for pastors in North America. For nine years, he and his wife wrote the entire content for the weekly preaching resource Homiletics. In 2005 Sweet introduced the first open-source preaching resource on the Web, wikiletics.com. Sweet’s microblogs on twitter and facebook rank as two of the most influential social media sites in the world. You can find some of Sweet’s talks on his youtube channel, www.youtube.com/lenssweetspots.

    Excerpts from A Response to Critics, by Leonard Sweet:

    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.
    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.

    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. ... 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...

    • Sweet in Quantum Spirituality: A Postmodern Apologetic, p. 106<
    • Sweet hailed Pierre Teilhard de Chardin as “Twentieth-century Christianity’s major voice”.
    • Sweet in Quantum Spirituality: A Postmodern Apologetic, p. 76: In the words of one of the greatest theologians of the twentieth century, Jesuit philosopher of religion/dogmatist Karl Rahner, “The Christian of tomorrow will be a mystic, one who has experienced something, or he will be nothing. Mysticism is metaphysics arrived at through mind-body experiences. Mysticism begins in experience; it ends in theology.
    • Sweet in Quantum Spirituality: A Postmodern Apologetic, p. 125: Quantum spirituality bonds us to all creation as well as to other members of the human family. ... This entailsa radical doctrine of embodiment of God in the very substance of creation. ... 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 Wonderful Deception, by Warren B. Smith, p. 106-107: In the Acknowledgments of Quantum Spirituality, Sweet expresses his deep gratitude and admiration to various "New Light Leaders". Included in this group are a number of New Age leaders, i.e. Willis Harman, Matthew Fox, Morton Kelsey, Ken Wilber and M. Scott Peck.

        I believe these are among the most creative religious leaders in America today. These are the ones carving out channels for new ideas to flow. In a way this book was written to guide myself through their channels and chart their progress. The book’s best ideas come from them.

      Sweet describes these three men - along with all the others - as "extraordinary" and "great" New Light" leaders:

        They are my personal role models (in an earlier day one could get away with "heroes") of the true nature of the postmodern apologetic. More than anyone else, they have been my teachers on how to translate, without compromising content, the gospel into the indigenous context of the postmodern vernacular.

    • Leonard Sweet acknowledges in Quantum Spirituality that he was privately corresponding with channeler David Spangler. In Quantum Spirituality, Sweet writes about what he calls his “new cell” understanding of New Light leadership, then closes his book by thanking Spangler for “his help in formulating this ‘new cell’ understanding of New Light Leadership.”
    • Sweet Writes in Quantum Spirituality, footnote #86, p. 312: I am grateful to David Spangler for his help in formulating this “new cell” understanding of New Light leadership…
    • Quantum Spirituality, pp. viii-ix, xi: Even though I had no idea where I was headed when setting out on my quest of the quantum, I did have some notion of who to take with me. Certain extraordinary people…. But some of those who led [me] into new light are: ... Matthew FoxRichard J. Mouw… Rowan Williams…. Morton KelseyM. Scott PeckWalter BrueggemannKen Wilber … Thomas Berry….
    • Quantum Spirituality, p. ix:Finally I trust that the Spirit that led the author of The Cloud of Unknowing [a spiritual guide on contemplative prayer in the late middle ages]… is present in this book’s dancing, everywhere and always.
    • In the Preface of Quantum Spirituality, p. 3, Sweet (referring to other New Agers such as Gary Zukav) says: "Unfortunately, little of this literature is known or celebrated in the religious community." Zukav's book, The Seat of the Soul, teaches people how to get in touch with their spirit guides.
    • Sweet in Quantum Spirituality, p. 13:  Then, and only then, will earthlings have uncovered the meaning of these words, some of the last words poet/activist/contemplative/bridge between East and West Thomas Merton uttered: "We are already one. But we imagine we are not. And What we have to recover is our original unity."
    • Sweet in Quantum Spirituality, p. 48: Philosopher Eric Voegelin's word "cosmion" refers to "a well ordered thing that has the character of the universe".  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.
    • Sweet in Quantum Spirituality, p. 62: Through the synergy of the divine-human exchange of energies, an unbelievable field of healing and transforming energy is rounded up and released in the universe. Humans are constructed out of mutually attracting energy particles with positive and negative charges. Negative or neutral charges too often dominate human contacts. Positive charges in the church are about as rare as “strange matter”--positively charged lumps of quarks know as “quarknuggets”--is in the quantum world. “Consciousness is catching,” psychologist/medical scholar/professor Frances E. Vaughan reminds us. Destructive, negative, constricting states of consciousness are caught as readily as creative, positive, expanding states of consciousness. All energy states are contagious.
    • Sweet in Quantum Spirituality, p. 76: Mysticism, once cast to the sidelines of the Christian tradition, is now situated in postmodernist culture near the center. ... Mysticism begins in experience; it ends in theology.
    • Sweet in Quantum Spirituality, p. 122: The church is fundamentally one being, one person, a comm-union whose cells are connected to one anotherwithin the information network called the Christ consciousness.
    • Sweet in Quantum Spirituality, p. 124: The world of nature has an identity and purpose apart from human benefit.  But we constitute together a cosmic body of Christ.
    • Sweet in Quantum Spirituality, p. 124:  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.
    • Sweet in Quantum Spirituality, p. 129-130: One can be a faithful disciple of Jesus Christ without denying the flickers of the sacred in followers of Yahweh, or Kali, or Krishna. A globalization of evangelism 'in connection' with others, and a globally 'in-formed' gospel, is capable of talking across the fence with Hindu, Buddhist, Sikh, Muslim--people from other so called 'new' religious traditions ('new' only to us)--without assumption of superiority and power
    • Sweet in Quantum Spirituality, p. 131: It will take a decolonized theology for Christians to appreciate the genuineness of others’ faiths, and to see and celebrate what is good, beautiful, and true in their beliefs without any illusions that down deep we all are believers in the same thing.
    • Sweet in Quantum Spirituality, p. 137: The church must provide postmoderns with an alternity of rituals by which they can turn and tune to one another and feel connected to the cosmos.
    • Sweet in Quantum Spirituality, p. 146: 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, Böhme’s light-filled cobbler shop, Plotinus’ fire experiences, Bodhisattvas with the flow of Kundalini’s fire erupting from their fontanelles, and so on. Light is the common thread that ties together near-death experiences as they occur in various cultures.
    • Sweet in Quantum Spirituality, p. 147: 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.
    • Sweet credits Matthew Fox in a footnote (p. 324) for inspiring his own description of the "cosmic body of Christ."
    • Sweet credits Matthew Fox in a footnote (p. 324) that refers to more books written by Fox and others regarding his Creation Spirituality Series.
    • Sweet acknowlwdges in Quantum Spirituality, p. 338 that he was privately corresponding with David Spangler.
    • Leonard Sweet in Quantum Spirituality: A Postmodern Apologetic, p. 63: Consciousness is even more than a causal reality. The ultimate realityof the universe appears to be consciousness, out of which energymatter arises.
    • Leonard Sweet in Quantum Spirituality: A Postmodern Apologetic, p. 63: Human minds are individual, but not singular or separated. They connect at some mysterious level not accessible to ordinary conscious awareness. God is the Spirit of the universe, the consciousness of the cosmos: its energy, its information, its thought.
    • Sweet in Quantum Spirituality, p. 148: 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.
    • Sweet in Quantum Spirituality, p. 253: Spirituality refers first of all to the universal gift of aliveness that exists within all religions and outside of religions.
    • Sweet in Quantum Spirituality: 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. 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.
    • A is for Abductive: The Language of the Emerging Church, with Brian McLaren and Jerry Haselmayer, p. 113: "... we will feel ourselves being pulled into the future by the magnet of God's will, God's dream, God's desire."
    • A is for Abductive: The Language of the Emerging Church, with Brian McLaren and Jerry Haselmayer, p. 130,  denfines fractals as "The way in which the whole is replicated in miniature in every part."
    • Sweet in Soul Tsunami, p. 34: The time to save God's Dream is now. The people to save God's Dream are you.
    • Sweet in Soul Tsunami, p. 74: Postmodern culture is a change-or-be-changed world. The word is out: Reinvent yourself for the 21st century or die.
    • Sweet in Soul Tsunami, p. 121: The coming together of the new biology and the new physics is providing the basic metaphors for this new global civilization that esteems and encourage wholebrain experiences, full-life expectations, personalized expressions, and a globalized consciousness.
    • Sweet in Soul Tsunami, p. 420:  Post-moderns want something more than new products; they want new experiences, especially new experiences of the divine.
    • Sweet in Soul Tsunami, p. 432:  Labyrinth walking is an ancient way of praying. Read Lauren Artress’s book Walking A Sacred Path: Rediscovering the Labyrinth as a Spiritual Tool ... go on one of the “pilgrimages” at Grace Cathedral’s “Veriditas: The World-Wide Labyrinth Project.”
    • Sweet in Soul Tsunami: Post-moderns want a God they can feel, taste, touch, hear and smell - a full sensory immersion in the divine.
    • Sweet in Nudge, p 28: When I am engaging with people of other religious faiths, I find myself unable to commit to their conclusions or agree with their assessments. Yet at the same time I come away encouraged by spiritual truths found in their traditions, thrilled by new insights into my own faith, and more passionate than ever about being a disciple of Christ.
    • Sweet in So Beautiful, p 37: MRI [Missional, Relational, Incarnational] is the operating software on which human life and faith were designed to run: Version 1.0 is known as the First Testament; Version 2.0 is known as the New Testament; Version 3.0 is the Third Testament, the Gospel According to ... you.
    • I Am a Follower is endorsed by Shane Claiborne and Dan Kimball.
    • In his 2012 book I Am a Follower, p. 233, Sweet quotes Sufi poet Kabir who says, “God is the breath inside the breath.” Sweet then makes the following blasphemous, pagan comment: “All of creation is made alive with the holy breath of the Creator. Breathing Yahweh breath is breathing the holy breath of life. Yahweh. … Our breathing and heartbeat are in tune with the name. Breathe in ‘Yah’ and breathe out ‘weh’ … I guarantee you will relax.”
    • From Tablet to Table is endorsed by Ed Stetzer, Frank Viola and Alan Hirsch
    • Bob Buford in an endorsement on www.leonardsweet.com:

      I think of Len Sweet as the icebraker for the 21st-century-church --- breaking a path through frozen ideas and methods to the new realities that are shaping the world to come.

    • Sweet in Soul Tsunami, p. 163: The key to navigating postmodernity's choppy, crazy waters is not to seek some balance or "safe middle ground", but to ride the waves and bridge the opposites, especially where they converge in reconciliation and illumination.
    • Leonard Sweet at Author's Corner, the1project Seattle 2014: "I also believe that Jesus pulls us from the future even more than he pushes us from the past."
    • Mother Tongue:How Our Heritage Shapes Our Story (2017)
    • is endorsed by Lynne Hybels.
    • Leonard Sweet wrote the foreword in Healing the Divide: Recovering Christianity's Mystic Roots (2013) by Amos Smith. Richard Rohr wrote the afterword and Cynthia Bourgeault endorsed it.

    From http://wordlessprayer.com/about.html:

    Suzanne Jackson [a Kripalu-certified yoga teacher and is the creator of the YogaSing Method] and Brian McLaren:


    Be Still and Know...
    Wordless Prayer is an invitation to a new prayer form. By weaving movement through prayer, the body, mind, and spirit combine into a whole body prayer bringing an innate connection to God, the creator. Poses from Yoga and QiGong and postures of silence combine to create a flowing river of moving prayer.

    Yoga (which means union in Sanskrit) originated in South Asia. Yoga helps practitioners to unify or harmonize their outer (physical) and inner (soul or spirit) worlds. It does so through a planned succession of physical postures.
    Tai Chi, Chi Gong, and related practices originated in East Asia. They also use postures or moves in a planned succession. Practitioners of these disciplines develop strength, balance, harmony, and flexibility in the body, and they experience inner benefits as well - reducing stress, promoting relaxation, and improving emotional health.

    Some may wonder if there is an inherent conflict between contemplative Christian faith and Yoga, Tai Chi, and related disciples. Can Christian contemplative practices be integrated with postures and movements originally developed outside the Christian community?

    In the tradition of Thomas Merton and many others, we believe that Christians have insights and practices to share with other faiths, and other faiths have valuable resources to share with Christians. But in the sharing process, each faith must maintain its own unique identity and integrity. In that spirit, we have sought to integrate compatible practices, insights, and resources in ways that will enhance your spiritual life, whatever your background and wherever you are in your journey.

    You may be Christian, Jewish, Muslim, Hindu, or Buddhist or you may be from a secular background, or alienated from religion due to some hurtful experiences in your past. You might consider yourself a spiritual seeker. Whatever your background, we believe this integration of physical postures and spiritual practices can help you develop both outer and inner harmony and balance to help us all deepen our love for our Creator, ourselves, and others.

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