Terry Swenson grew up in an adventist home. In his youth he left God and the
church and was gone from God for 11 years, started living a very hard life. Once
he was shot and almost killed.
He spent educational time at La Sierra, and
then he finished up two degrees at Pacific Union College. He went for a year and
a half to Long Beach State. He went to seminary at Andrews University, and got
his graduate degree at George Fox University. Since 1998 he has been a
campus Chaplain at Loma Linda.
George Fox University and Leonard Sweet
The Compass Magazine:
I approached Andrews University, the seminary, doctoral
department and I said, “Look… ” I wanted to do a DMin, not a PhD, I wanted a
practical doctorate. And I approached them and they said, “Sure, we’d love to
have you. What do you want to study?” And I said, “I want to understand how the
church has worked, what modernism and postmodernism is, and how the church has
worked in both, and how we can effectively reach the postmodern mind.”
There was silence, and the person—I won’t say who it was—said, “Well, we don’t
have anything in that, but would you like to do a doctorate in Family
Ministries?” I’m like—yeah, I see you chuckling—I’m like, “Well, no, that’s not
what I want.” So I started looking around, I found a program at Fuller. And I
was working with Fuller because they had a degree that was dealing with that.
And I thought, “Well, good. Great, I’ll go to Fuller.” But as I researched
Fuller and the books that they suggested, I found that what they were taking
class material from was from George Fox University – which is a Quaker
university, actually—and in their department, the professors that were up there
were the ones that people writing the books that Fuller was using to teach from,
and I thought, “Well, why not go to the primary source?” And also, due to my
professional life and where I am at life at my age, Fuller was a five-to-seven
year program and George Fox, you could finish your Doctor of Ministry in three
years. They had a process you could do that, if you did it and you did your
work, and it was hard. So those are the reasons why I went to George Fox.
[Leonard Sweet] was one of the main
professors. I know that people have levelled criticism against the One Project,
because four of us have gotten degrees [from George Fox University]. At the
time, when I went, I went there and I met Alex Bryan. Alex Bryan and Michael
were in there for a while, but he [Michael] changed and didn’t finish his DMin.
And we met there in the… Our cohort was called, “Leading in the Emerging
Culture,” in other words, “How do you lead as a Christian in a postmodern
world?” There’s a lot of fear and misconstruing [of] what “emerging” means.
So, Leonard Sweet. Leonard Sweet is one that’s in the
conversation, he says he’s a futurist in all this. And so sometimes, Leonard
says some stuff that’s off the wall, but if you look at his books, “Jesus: A
Theography,” – I’ll use that one right there, I am a follower of those—is always
Christ—centered, biblical-centered. He comes from the Methodist church. In fact,
he sent his son to Adventist schools up there on Orcas Island and over to Walla
Walla. People don’t know that, very supportive of Adventist and understand what
we believe. But what happens is people look at some earlier books with all these
conversations these guys were talking about—which he doesn’t even go with
now—and they lump him together with that. So, there’s been a concern, like the
people who said, “Oh. Wait, Swenson, Brian, Gillespie,… Oh, they all went
emerging, Leonard Sweet has now infiltrated the church.” Which is not the case.
In 2010 he co-founded the1Project with, Alex Bryan, Tim Gillespie, Japhet de Oliveira and
- Interplace: The Circle of Belonging,
The Emerging Church
There’s a difference between “emergent” and “emerging,”
and then “emerging” is morphed into something else. So, emergent, the way most
people define “emerging” is what emergent was. Those guys, like—come on, too
much conference—Pagitt and
Brian McLaren and those people, that just
went off the deep end and went to… Those guys are off the wall. They were the
ones that say, “We’ll jump church, go meet in a bar,” or…
Brian McLaren has gotten very… The
criticisms levelled against Leonard Sweet are, justly, in my opinion—my
opinion—leveled against those guys, Doug Pagitt, Rollins, Brian McLaren.
Emerging… So that’s emergent and that’s their concept. The things that I totally
disagree with, and that I think what people are writing about is that.
And McLaren is probably the most prominent.
I don’t know where that guy went. His early stuff, if you read his first books,
they were very good. He was a pastor, but then all of a sudden, something
happened to him and he went somewhere. “Emerging” at that time, was just a
phrase saying… It was applied to postmodernism and the emerging culture of
postmodernism— secular, I guess you would say— it had nothing to do with any
religious connotations. And so, in the sense of leading in the emerging culture
was, “How do we lead in a postmodern time?” I think “emerging” – the term
“emerging”—has kind of merged with “emergent” and they’re lumped together. So I
think that’s where people get a difference.
When I pray, I’m not just going, “Om, Om” anything like
that. I’m like “Christ,” focusing on Him, God, or a passage of Scripture, that’s
the stuff we support.
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