WHAT IS TRANSFORMATION?
& Sarah Leslie
In today’s neo-evangelical church, the term “transformation” is currently in vogue. Various churches and denominations claim to be undergoing “transformation.” This word no longer refers to the humble sanctification of the individual believer. Rather, it now refers to an orchestrated, systemic and revolutionary overhaul of the global church, including the “transformation” of cities, societies, cultures, marketplaces, and more.
We first encountered this usage of the word during the early 1990s, when “transformation” came to be associated with the massive plan to overhaul our nation’s education system. “Education transformation” was a term nuanced with esoteric meaning.—referring not only to the comprehensive “economic, social and cultural health of American society,” but also, in global education circles, to education in “higher order thinking skills” to facilitate the collective evolution of consciousness. We discovered that education reform gurus were using the term in the same way that the New Age Theosophists were using it.
New meanings for the word “transformation” entered the modern lexicon in the early 1980s. New Age author Marilyn Ferguson, who is credited with launching the “coming out party” for Luciferian Theosophists, extensively used the term. She defined it as “transformation of consciousness,” “a new seeing,” “conscious evolution,” and a “paradigm change.” Transformation was an essential part of the Teilhardian leap from “individual evolution” to “collective evolution.” Christian discernment author Constance Cumbey bluntly remarked that Ferguson’s type of “transformation” was “a euphemism for progressively deeper levels of demonic influence.”
There is currently a bait and switch going on in neo-evangelical circles. When evangelicals hear the word “transformation” bandied about, they assume it is a biblical word from Romans 12:2: And be not conformed to this world: but be ye transformed by the renewing of your mind, that ye may prove what is that good, and acceptable, and perfect, will of God. In fact, the traditional meaning of the word can be found in Matthew Poole’s Commentary from the 1600s, which exhorts: “Be you regenerated, and changed in your whole man; beginning at the mind, by which the Spirit of God worketh upon the inferior faculties of the soul….” Matthew Henry’s Commentary further expounds, “The progress of sanctification, dying to sin more and more, and living to righteousness more and more.” The Greek word for biblical “transformation” is metamorphoo, from which we get the English word metamorphosis: i.e., a complete change, such as a caterpillar turning into a butterfly. Biblical transformation, then, applies to an individual believer’s progress in sanctification.
When evangelicals hear the phrase “church transformation” they may think of the paradigm shift in liturgy, worship styles, music, mega-churches, etc. In reality, “transformation” is substantial and deep, intent on re-forging the very foundations of Protestantism, western civilization, and ultimately the governance of the entire earth. While lip service is being paid to the traditional definitions you read about above, in reality the word “transformation” now indicates a societal, cultural and global revolution. Here is one new definition which hints at the larger scale:
If this new definition of “transformation” sounds complex and obscure, it is. Unless you have been steeped in neo-evangelical doctrines, this will sound like mish-mash. To aid the reader, below is a nutshell synopsis of the new doctrines of “transformation.”
1. The term “transformation” is used to describe a planned, intentional “Second Reformation” (also called “New Apostolic Reformation”). An early proposal for a “second Protestant reformation” appeared in The Emerging Order (1979) by New Ager Jeremy Rifkin, who called for a re-definition of Genesis 1 to create a stewardship mandate for a dominion over the earth. Rick Warren, of purpose-driven fame, positively referenced Rifkin’s proposal for this new Reformation. Just this year Warren launched what he calls the “Second Reformation.” Other evangelical leaders calling for this new reformation include Ralph Neighbour, Bill Hamon, Luis Bush, C. Peter Wagner, Jim Rutz, Robert Schuller, Donald Miller and many others.
2) This “transformation” is not personal but is applied corporately to groups and entities. One example is: “Social transformation was defined as seeking positive change in the whole of human life materially, socially and spiritually, by recovering our true identity as human beings created in the image of God and discovering our true vocation as productive stewards, faithfully caring for our world and its people.”
3) This “transformation” is to be accomplished by a “mission” strategy of doing “whatever it takes” to launch political, social, and cultural reforms on a global scale. A philosophy of “the end justifies the means” has been embraced to accomplish these colossal goals.
4) Extremely sophisticated psycho-social marketing techniques are employed to facilitate this “transformation.”
5) State-of-the-art statistical measurement and assessment methods evaluate this “transformation,” judging “effectiveness” by pre-set, man-made criteria.
6) A plethora of intricate spiritual activities with new names, new techniques, new methodologies, and new doctrines purportedly cause “transformation” to take place in the heavenlies and then on earth. These include strategic-level spiritual warfare, identificational repentance, prayer evangelism, on-site praying, spiritual mapping, prayer walks, labyrinths, spiritual formation, and a host of other newly-concocted doctrines with corresponding activities. (The reader is challenged to find any of these in the Bible.)
7) A re-alignment of church hierarchical structures, not unlike network marketing, is said to be essential for “transformation” to take place.
8) These new authority and accountability structures must be superimposed between believers and God. The model is touted as a return to the early New Testament model, in which churches met in homes. In reality it is a data-driven model with a top-down hierarchy of authority and control. It is variously called cell church, G12, shepherding, House2House, etc.
9) This “transformation” dialectically thrives on a diet of constant change which is accelerating rapidly. Continuous change in the church is pointed to as “revival,” despite the fact that it utilizes business marketing methods such as Total Quality Management.
10) The claim is made that submitting to and participating in this radical and comprehensive “transformation” is necessary to fulfill the Great Commission. Thus “transformation” has been inextricably linked to the modern missions movement.
11) This “transformation” is said to be incomplete until the Bride of Christ is perfected on earth and “God’s kingdom is seen on earth as it is in heaven.”
12) Therefore, believers are told they are co-creators and co-redeemers, renewing the earth through their various “transformative” activities.
Neo-evangelical “transformation” doctrines integrate (or “contextualize”) Theosophy with Christianity for a hybrid new orthodoxy, sometimes termed the “emergent” church. Therefore, this “transformation” is fertile ground for all new forms of ecumenism, easily finding common ground with both cults and the occult. Popular neo-evangelical leader Leonard Sweet laid out this broader concept of transformational ecumenism in his 1991 book Quantum Spirituality: A Postmodern Apologetic.
Pertaining to this new-style, global-scale “transformation,” let the reader note that there is another Greek word translated as “transformed” or “transforming” into KJV English. This word is metaschematizo, which carries the root word schema which means “fashion,” from which we get the English word “scheme.” 2Cor. 11:13-15 carries this warning: For such are false apostles, deceitful workers, transforming themselves into the apostles of Christ. And no marvel; for Satan himself is transformed into an angel of light. Therefore it is no great thing if his ministers also be transformed as the ministers of righteousness; whose end shall be according to their works.
From “Transforming American Education: Reducing the Risk to the Nation,”
cited in the deliberate dumbing down of america by Charlotte
Iserbyt (Conscience Press: Ravenna, Ohio, 1999), p. 233-4.
© 2005 Lynn & Sarah
Leslie- All Rights Reserved
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Lynn & Sarah Leslie were publishers of The Christian Conscience magazine which covered education reform, cultural and spiritual issues from 1995-1998. They founded Conscience Press which published the deliberate dumbing down of america by Charlotte Iserbyt, Reinventing Jesus Christ and Deceived on Purpose (1st edition) by Warren Smith, and Strange Fire by Travers and Jewel van der Merwe.
Currently they sit on the board of directors for Discernment Ministries (www.discernment-ministries.org).
We first encountered this usage of the word during the early 1990s, when “transformation” came to be associated with the massive plan to overhaul our nation’s education system.