Monday, September 26, 2005

Leonard Sweet & Willis Harmon -- Metanoia/Transformation

In 1991 Leonard I. Sweet, a renouned neoevangelial leader, re-defined the Greek word metanoia in his book Quantum Spirituality: A Postmodern Apologetic (posted on-line at He wrote:

"Metanoia can mean, literally, 'after thought.' What metanoia does is turn our minds after the mind of God, transform our consciousness so that it is connected to the divine consciousness, tune us into a logos logic. In other words, metanoia enables a metanoized self to think God's afterthoughts. Metanoia bestows on the believer a Logos-Christ consciousness, a logos logic that is based not on dialectic and struggle, but on harmony and wholeness." (p. 63)

"Faith is the state of excitation of a set of metanoia-inducing, space-pervading fields -- a consuming-fire transformation of consciousness that reorients one's ambitions, motives, presumptions, and energies. 'Religion consists in an intercourse between ourselves and our Maker,' America's greatest theologian contended. Metanoia is the most transformative, explosive encounter one can have. In a metanoized self, a pilot light becomes a consuming flame. Theologian/feminist Sharon Welch describes it as a 'epistemic shift' of consciousness. Metanoia totally transforms one's life. It totally transforms the course of history." (p. 69-70) [emphases added]

This word was one of Willis Harman's favorites. He used the word to describe the total transformation of the spirituality of mankind. When addressing the 1979 Consultation, Harman explained his concept of METANOIA:

"Both in the culture at large, and in the fringe areas in the scientific community, the dominant science-technology paradigm is being challenged in a fundamental sense. Survey data indicate a significant cultural shift in the direction of more interest in spiritual and psychic matters, particularly among the better educated. The challenge amounts to a reconsideration of the outmoded 'warfare between science and religion.'... The growing suspicion is that traditional religion and conventional science alike are both partial and flawed, and due to be superseded by a more unified view of reality." (p. 34-35) An Evangelical Agenda: 1984 and beyond, copyright 1979 by the Billy Graham Center and published by the William Carey Library (Fuller Theological Seminary). [emphasis added]

The seeds of Theosophic syncretism were planted when Willis Harman's address to evangelical leaders in 1979 was not challenged. It began to produce recognizable fruit by 1991 in this work by Leonard Sweet. And it has now come to full fruit in neoevangelicalism today.

The Truth:

Obviously, these definitions above have far more to do with the doctrines of Theosophy than traditional Christianity. In the Bible metanoia is simply translated as repentance.

To refresh the spirit with a traditional understanding of repentance, here is Matthew Poole's Commentary on Hebrews 6:1:

Not laying again the foundation of repentance from dead works: "the first Christian principle or doctrine to be learnt, was that of repentance, which is the fundamental change of a sinner's mind, and, in that, of himself; it carrieth in it knowledge, conviction of sin by God's law, bitter sorrow for it, and full conversion of the soul to God from it, as it is described, 2 Cor. vii.9-11; as from all sinful works flowing from it while lapsed from God; dead in sins, which would have eaten out and destroyed their souls for ever, Rom. vi. 23; Eph. ii. 1,2." (p. 830)

"Now I rejoice, not that ye were made sorry, but that ye sorrowed to repentance: for ye were made sorry after a godly manner, that ye might receive damage by us in nothing. For godly sorrow worketh repentance to salvation not to be repented of: but the sorrow of the world worketh death. For behold this selfsame thing, that ye sorrowed after a godly sort, what carefulness it wrought in you, yea, what clearing of yourselves, yea, what indignation, yea, what fear, yea, what vehement desire, yea, what zeal, yea, what revenge! In all things ye have approved yourselves to be clear in this matter." ( 2 Cor. 7:9-11)

"Godly sorrow; that sorrow which is according to God, either commanded by him, (as sorrow for our own or others' sins, or for the judgments of God, as they are the indications of God's wrath and displeasure for sin,) or which he, as the God of grace, worketh in the soul, touching the heart by the finger of his Spirit, Zech. xii.10. Or, that sorrow whose end is the glory of God, in the reformation of the person sorrowing, by a hatred and detestation of sin, and a hearty turning from it." (p. 621)

Next: Harman synthesizes psychic science with religion!