This article will expose Leonord Sweet as a postmodernist who apparently is so caught up in his postmodern paradigm shift that he is unable to think clearly at all, let alone teach. On his The Double Ring Video by Leonard Sweet, Sweet's SoulCafe, 1998, Vol. 3 which I have transcribed here in totality, you can hear the bell toll twice announcing the demise of Christianity falling headlong into a global apostate end times false religion.
I want to go through Sweet's video line by line for accuracy, but first I want to make some general comments. Leonard Sweet is probably one of the only "intellegencia" that the Emerging Church movement has at the moment. The reason I say this is not because what he is saying is new, or earth shattering, or even applicable to Christianity. I say it because what Sweet is trying to do, in redefining postmodernism for a Christian context, will probably only convince postmodernists who have had their brains turned to mush by the New Age, TV, and most of what passes for "Christianity" in most modern mega-churches today. The younger generation has been systematically trained to shut off their brains and "feel" sideways instead of sharpening their God-given minds with the truth of God's Word. What Sweet is proposing is that Christians need to help along this postmodern worldview process by spouting the same nonsense as the world does at the moment. What Sweet is teaching is nothing less than Eastern mysticism, which I will prove in a moment.
But first I want to comment on his statements in the video (I'm sure this article will be viewed as a completely "modernist" approach to "reason" by the likes of Sweet).
One of the most fundamental distinctions between modern and postmodern culture is the language in the modern world--you had to go to the center. To do ministry in the postmodern world you have to go to the edge. In postmodern culture opposite things happen at the same time and they are not contradictory. The modern world created middles, it loved big middles. The modern world created a mass culture. Middle class, middle management. (The Double Ring Video by Leonard Sweet, Sweet's SoulCafe, 1998, Vol. 3)Of course there is no proof given for this thesis, other than to make analogies that have nothing to do with modernism. The facts of the "middle class" are currently as follows:
New study supports the hypothesis of a shrinking middle; the declining proportion of families in the middle has largely moved to the upper class, although the share of income held by the lower class has declined. This article describes the nature and results of such a sensitivity analysis. (http://www.bls.gov/opub/mlr/1988/05/art1abs.htm)The facts are that the middle class are now being categorized as upper class and the income of the lower class is also shrinking. Looks like the move is mainly from the middle to the upper edge, not from the middle to the lower edge. That there is dissatisfaction with middle management jobs is not a new issue. But to claim there is a great move from middle to upper or lower management positions or other jobs remains to be seen (unless companies play some kind of bait and switch by calling middle management jobs something else). Suffice it to say that Sweet's examples are basically pulled out of thin air in order to try to make a point, but the facts do not back up his claim that there is a big change due to the move from "modernism" to "postmodernism" in terms of business or the economy.
But let's look at Sweet's definition of modernism as the love of "middles" compared to how it is defined in the Merriam/Webster Dictionary:
A practice, usage, or expression peculiar to modern times; a tendency in theology to accommodate traditional religious teaching to contemporary thought and especially to devalue supernatural elements; modern artistic or literary philosophy and practice; especially : a self-conscious break with the past and a search for new forms of expression. (http://www.m-w.com/dictionary/modernism)For an excellent article of Modernism (which Sweet should have read rather than trying to redefine Modernism from a Postmodernist perspective) can be found at Wikipedia. It states:
The most controversial aspect of the modern movement was, and remains, its rejection of tradition, both in organization, and in the immediate experience of the work. This dismissal of tradition also involved the rejection of conventional expectations: hence modernism often stresses freedom of expression, experimentation, radicalism, and primitivism. (http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Modernism)Does this sound like loving the middle, "middle management" and "middle class" to you? So Sweet's basic thesis for this video is already in error.
The second idea is that the postmodernism world is on the cutting "edge" by believing that opposite things can happen and not be contradictory. To enlighten postmodernists, they are not the first people to discover this fact. This concept is called a "paradox" (someone or something with qualities or features that seem to conflict with one another) or an antinomy (a contradiction between two apparently equally valid principles). An antinomy exists when two apparently opposite things are both true. But Sweet's upcoming examples are not just of antinomies, but of oxymorons (something (as a concept) that is made up of contradictory or incongruous elements, conjoining contradictory terms). "Incongruous" means: lacking congruity; not harmonious; incompatible; not conforming; disagreeing. "Contradictory" means: a proposition so related to another that if either of the two is true the other is false and if either is false the other must be true. An oxymoron is two concepts that negate each other with reference to truth. An antinomy is two concepts that are both mutually true and do not cancel each other out. "Emerging Church" would be a good example of an oxymoron, since the Church is not emerging but is continuing since its inception in the first century. If the Church is "emerging" then it cannot be continuing. The term "Emerging Church" is therefore an oxymoron. But I digress.
The postmodernists are not on the edge unless it is the edge of idiocy mixed with egotism. This would be an antinomy in their case, both being true at the same time. If they think they are on the edge of some kind of greater understanding of the universe because they recognize the concepts of antinomy and oxymoron, they are Narcissistic egotists. If they think that they can understand the universe better by mixing the concepts of antinomy and oxymoron together as being one and the same, they are idiotic. If Sweet is a voice for postmodernists in the Church, then we are in bigger trouble than we all know.
What's happening in postmodern culture is that all those middles are flattening. And as a mitosis of the middles, as the middle gets almost non-existent, and the ends get huge. (The Double Ring Video by Leonard Sweet, Sweet's SoulCafe, 1998, Vol. 3)Since I have already debunked Sweet's attempt at the redefinition of terms in the first part, it would seem redundant to continue. But Sweet goes on to attempt to redefine the term "mitosis".
Mitosis: a process that takes place in the nucleus of a dividing cell, involves typically a series of steps consisting of prophase, metaphase, anaphase, and telophase, and results in the formation of two new nuclei each having the same number of chromosomes as the parent nucleus. (http://www.m-w.com/dictionary/mitosis)The cell does not "die out" when it reproduces, it becomes two like itself, exactly like itself! So what Sweet is saying, which he does not mean, is that modernism is spawning two "middles" on the "edge" called postmodernism. I don't think this was his intent. Sweet is misusing big terminology that his adherents are about as likely to look up in the dictionary as they are to read their Bibles daily. The point is that Sweet's analogy makes no sense because he is apparently tying to CONTRAST modernism with postmodernism. So far he is not doing a very good job. Perhaps using the term "meiosis" would have been better.
Meiosis: the presentation of a thing with underemphasis especially in order to achieve a greater effect : UNDERSTATEMENT; the cellular process that results in the number of chromosomes in gamete-producing cells being reduced to one half and that involves a reduction division in which one of each pair of homologous chromosomes passes to each daughter cell and a mitotic division. (http://www.m-w.com/dictionary/meiosis)We will see that Sweet does indeed teach that the ends justify the means. He is underemphasizing modernism using the Hegelian Dialectic (Thesis/Antithesis) in order to "achieve a greater effect" of elevating postmodernism to a higher way of thinking and being. But the effect of Sweet's New Age teachings end up reducing the number of true believers by division. This is what all false teachers do.
Romans 16:17 I urge you, brothers, to watch out for those who cause divisions and put obstacles in your way that are contrary to the teaching you have learned. Keep away from them.
Titus 3:10 Warn a divisive person once, and then warn him a second time. After that, have nothing to do with him.
You and I are both energy and matter. You and I are both spirit and substance. This double ring, and that's why I just say the postmodernist always rings twice, this double ring is pervasive in this culture, that's why postmodern culture loves oxymorons so much. (The Double Ring Video by Leonard Sweet, Sweet's SoulCafe, 1998, Vol. 3)It is true that we are both energy and matter, as far as we understand the laws of the universe today. This is not an example of either an antinomy or oxymoron, but two things which together make one whole and are both true. They are not contrasting or opposite, but are both part of the fabric of existence. We are also both spirit and substance, but Sweet forgets (on purpose?) to mention that we are more than just body and soul. We are a tripartite being; body, soul (mind) and spirit according to the Bible. This is evidence that Sweet is a dualist, not a tripartitist. Dualists do not understand one of the basics about human life: we are made in the image of God who is a Trinity, and our existence as tripartite human beings is a reflection of the Divine Nature of the Father, Son and Holy Spirit. But suffice it to say that body and spirit could be viewed as an antinomy, but certainly not an oxymoron. Sweet goes on to give a lot of examples of what he claims "postmodern culture" deems to be "oxymorons".
Let me give you some examples of the double ring phenomenon: at work, can you hear the double ring? What is light? Light is particle, light is wave. (Can you hear the double ring?) We're living in an "in your face society" and we want a "get out of my face society". (Can you hear the double ring?) The more private issues are, the more the media wants to make them public. (Can you hear the double ring?) Our televisions are getting bigger, and our televisions are getting smaller. People are throwing away more than ever before, and they are recycling more than ever before. (Can you hear the double ring?) People are getting back to nature, more unplugged, and people are getting more computerized, more high tech. (Can you hear the double ring?) Churches are getting bigger, and churches are getting smaller. (Can you hear the double ring?) The rich are getting richer and the poor are getting poorer. By the way, what are the two precise groups the church is least prepared to minister with? (Can you hear the double ring?) The sizes of homes people are building getting bigger, and family households are getting smaller. Can you hear the double ring? Americans spend the most money on decorations for two holidays: Christmas, where we celebrate love, hope, peace joy -- and Halloween, where we come to terms with the dark forces of the universe. We are living in this massive double ring, and to hit only one ring is to sound a half truth. (The Double Ring Video by Leonard Sweet, Sweet's SoulCafe, 1998, Vol. 3)To "hit only one ring"? What is that? Sweet uses the Hegelian dialectic at least twice in this list, once when he accuses Christians of not reaching out to the poor or the rich, and again when he makes an indictment that the Church is only selling half truths. This is the Thesis/Antithesis way of brainwashing Christians by vilifying the past and elevating the present. But let's examine what Sweet is calling oxymoronic.
Light is particle and wave, neither antinomic or oxymoronic. (The use of the repeated phrase "Can you hear the double ring" over and over again is a brainwashing technique). The argument about postmodernists not wanting an "in your face" society is also not oxymoronic. It is a clear choice, according to Sweet, that they want society OUT of their faces. On private issues, this is also not oxymoronic. It is cause and effect. It is about the media wanting to make a buck and the public crying out for more. There is nothing contradictory about this morass at all. TVs getting bigger with HDTV for home viewing, and TVs getting smaller like webcasts is also not oxymoronic. They are not contradictory, nor are they antinomical. Since there is more trash, the choice to recycle or throw things away is not oxymoronic. It is two options for the same trash. I don't know if you can call exercising in a park or taking a hike "getting back to nature" but taking a cell phone along is common sense, not oxymoronic. Talk to people in China or Africa about "getting back to nature". Churches are getting bigger because certain people want to play megachurch and study the "Purpose-Driven Life" instead of the Bible. Churches are getting smaller because the megachurches are draining the smaller churches who cannot out-entertain, out-latte or out-talkstory the megachurches. This is not oxymoronic, it is a choice people are making, and the move to big megachurches is often a bad choice. The rich and poor will always be with us. It is not oxymoronic to be poor or rich, only if you claim that you are both poor and rich materially at the same time, which is impossible. But apparently not in the universe of Len Sweet! Where has he been, anyway, when the major job of feeding the poor has been an ongoing mission of the Christian churches for decades? Who does he think IS doing a good job feeding the poor? UNICEF? United Way? What a joke. True biblical churches have always reached out to every class of people. This is diaprax. Just because a family chooses to have less children and build a bigger house does not an oxymoron make. Family size it usually a mirror of cultural sensibilities. House size is due to rising two-family incomes in the US and a desire to be in debt for the rest of one's natural life. This is not oxymoronic at all.
Now we come to some serious Eastern mystical dualism. We are led to believe, by Sweet, that Christmas and Halloween are either (1) oxymoronic or (2) antinomic. They cannot be oxymoronic because they are not the same thing. So apparently he means them to be antinomical, in other words they are the flip side of one coin, which would mean they look opposite but they are just a yin/yang expression of the good and evil "force". I didn't know that Halloween was about coming "to terms with the dark forces of the universe." Cue Darth Vader! I thought that Halloween is a corrupted, institutionalized, culturized version of All Hallows Eve, the eve before the Catholics, on All Souls Day, attempt to pray the dead out of purgatory? Silly me. But Sweet betrays his theology here. He is attempting to subtly teach that opposites are really both sides of one thing. This is Eastern mysticism. It reminded me of watching Baghwan Shree Rajneesh on TV in Oregon stating that "good is evil, and evil is good". Is this where Sweet is leading his postmodern minds full of mush? Apparently Sweet has been studying Eastern religions and the New Age rather than the Bible. Here are what some, in the tradition of Sweet, have been teaching for ages:
Evil is, good or truth misplaced. - Mohandas GandhiOr perhaps Sweet is trying to vilify the middle, while glorifying the ends?
Good is Evil & Evil is Good, Good is Good & Evil is Evil. - CristoILDiablo, Satanic follower
Yang cannot exist by itself; it can exist only when it is supported by yin. Hence yin is the foundation of yang. Similarly, yin cannot alone manifest itself; it can manifest itself only when accompanied by yang. Hence yang is the expression of yin. Yang controls the origination and enjoys the completion [of things] while yin follows the way [yang produces] and completes the work of yang. - Shao Yong (1012-1077), philosopher, Confucianism, Neo Confucianism, Supreme Principle Governing the World (Huang-Chi Ching Shu), 7A: 17a, in Wing-Tsit Chan, Chinese Philosophy, Chapter 29
There are two sides to every issue: one side is right and the other is wrong, but the middle is always evil. - Ayn Rand quotes (Russian born American Writer and Novelist, 1905-1982)In any case, this is Eastern mysticism and has nothing to do with the biblical definition of good and evil. Christmas celebrates the birth of Christ, though it too has pagan rituals mixed in. Halloween, as an expression in our culture, celebrates evil. Perhaps Sweet has not been around Christian children for awhile, but most Christians no longer celebrate Halloween because they have realized that it is not a harmless, storybook fantasy, but has been evolving into a day that celebrates evil. Most churches I know have switched over to a Harvest-type celebration instead for the kids where they are taught biblical concepts and offer up praise and thanksgiving to the Lord.
(Ancient, future church) (The Double Ring Video by Leonard Sweet, Sweet's SoulCafe, 1998, Vol. 3)This phrase is supposed to be some kind of backmasking, like the "do you hear the double ring" thing. But what does it mean? I believe it means he is trying to marry the ancient church to postmodernism. But this does not work because postmodernists do not understand the concept of objective reality, which they must be taught to understand or they cannot be saved, nor can they grow to maturity in Christ. We are not here to wed these concepts, but to contrast them and teach a generation a biblical worldview!
The heart of Christianity is a double ring. Jesus was fully God and Jesus was fully human. In Jesus the ultimate became intimate. Jesus is the Lion and Jesus is the Lamb. Jesus is Alpha and Jesus is Omega. In modern it was either/or. Postmodern, more than both/and, it's and/also. Can we in our ministry hit double rings and in the future multiple rings for the glory of God? Here is the fundamental challenge of ministry in a postmodern world, if you hug the middle of the road you're gonna be hit by both sets of oncoming traffic. (The Double Ring Video by Leonard Sweet, Sweet's SoulCafe, 1998, Vol. 3)Jesus being the God-man is not an oxymoron. This might be a good example of an antinomy. The Lion and the Lamb symbolism is neither oxymoronic nor antinomic. It is a typology of the attributes of Jesus Christ, Who is Himself neither an actual lamb or lion, but a glorified Man in Heaven with His Father at His right hand. Alpha and Omega can be an antinomy, but it is really an expression of His Divinity, his timelessness. Christians, from the first century through the Modernists did not see these ideas as either/or, but clearly understood the concepts of antinomy. That postmodernists think this is an oxymoron shows they are the ones who do not understand these concepts. How ironic!
Now we come to the crux. Sweet wants to marry Eastern mysticism and any other concept that strikes his fancy to Christianity in order to attract this postmodern generation. He doesn't just want "both/and" but wants "and/also". This is telling. If we take this to the logical conclusion, Sweet doesn't just want Jesus Christ to be God and man, but he also wants Him to be pantheistic, postmodern, tolerant of other religions, and intolerant of biblical, middle of the road Christians as he is. How can mixing everything together in a big pot be bringing glory to God? Hasn't Sweet read about how the Israelites tried to do this many times in their adaptation of other religions practices, and ended up bring judgment on themselves? The bottom line in this video is the statement "if you hug the middle of the road" (orthodoxy) then you will be hit by postmodern culture from both sides and will not be able to cope. The truth of the matter, if these postmodernists can even possibly understand objective truth, is that the only way Christians can be effective witnesses in a postmodern world is to stand for the truth of the Gospel and the objective, holy, inerrant Word of God. Sweet wants Christians to hide their light under a bushel of postmodern garbage so that they will fit in.
The upshot is ... what Sweet is teaching is clearly not oxymoronic, but take away the "oxy" and I think you will understand what I am talking about.