Tuesday, January 31, 2006

Emerging: from Tradition to Transition to Transformation

In order to understand the Leadership Network's involvement with the formation of an Emergent Church movement, it is necessary to take a few posts to explain the bigger picture. There is a much broader historical and philosophical context in which to view this "paradigm shift" to an "emerging" church.

Last week Herescope examined the use of the term "paradigm shift." Today's post will look at the words "transformation" and "change." Both of these terms are integral to understanding the formation of the Emergent church.

There is a 3-step process that leads to "transformation." It begins with "tradition" and then enters through a phase of "transition" before finally reaching "transformation." This process is facilitated by the use of "change agents." The 1/25/06 Herescope post examined the three types of "innovator" described by Brad Smith of Leadership Network in his report. These three types of "innovator" -- Adapters, Revolutionaries and Groundbreakers -- fit the transformative model:

Tradition -- Adapters
Transition -- Revolutionaries
Transformation -- Groundbreakers


The word "transformation" is one of those words that has a double meaning. To the hearer it may call to mind Romans 12:1-2. To the speaker, it may mean something different altogether. Marilyn Ferguson introduced the new meaning of this word to the American public in her 1980 book that brought New Age Theosophy out of the closet and into the mainstream. In The Aquarian Conspiracy: Personal and Social Transformation in the 1980s (J.P. Tarcher, Inc.), Ferguson explains that the new meaning of this word is rooted in the heretical doctrines of human evolution:

"The term transformation has interesting parallel meanings in mathematics, in the physical sciences, and in human change. A transformation is, literally, a forming over, a restructuring. . . .

"And, of course, we speak of the transformation of people -- specifically the transformation of consciousness. In this context consciousness does not mean simple waking awareness. Here it refers to the state of being conscious of one's own consciousness. . . .

"Significantly, ancient traditions describe transformation as new seeing. Their metaphors are of light and clarify. They speak of insight, vision. Teilhard said that the aim of evolution is 'ever more perfect eyes in a world in which there is always more to see.'" (p. 68) [emphases added]

Ferguson's reference to the French Jesuit philosopher Teilhard de Chardin is important to note. Teilhard, censored as an apostate, postulated that just as man evolved from apes, that there would be an evolution of man to a higher order species he called homo noeticus (new man). This would be an evolution of consciousness, a collective cosmic blurp that would create a higher-order species of mankind. Marilyn Ferguson sums up Teilhard's beliefs when she stated, "The proven plasticity of the human brain and human awareness offers the possibility that individual evolution may lead to collective evolution." (p. 70)

Embedded in the modern usage of the word "transformation" is the idea of human evolution -- personal and corporate. This is the idea that mankind can perfect himself on Earth, that we can attain a higher-order level of spirituality, that we can facilitate our own evolution, and attain perfection by our activities.

The words "emergent" or "emerging" have to do with the evidence that new forms are arising from the ashes of the old -- that a new collective human consciousness is beginning to manifest itself upon the face of the Earth. That new human transformational forms are becoming evident as humans shed the old traditional forms.

Bear in mind that the use of the word "transformation" was borrowed by secular sources and has now become widely secularized. But, peel back but a few layers, and delve into the philosophy and context in which this word is being used, and one will discover evidence that the same evolutionary mindset is still at its foundation. Marilyn Ferguson describes the process by which this word entered mainstream acceptance. Today, there is a strong possibility that Christian leaders have embraced this term and its process, along with its embedded philosophy, without even thinking to question its source or its real meaning.


A key doctrine accompanying the idea of the evolution of mankind, is that of change. Change is necessary for personal, cultural and societal transformation to occur. Constant change is even better. Transformation leaders have been teaching people to accept the maxim that perpetual change is a necessary part of the modern world. Change facilitates transformation. Change, unfolding dialectically, creates a series of crises which propels the advancement of mankind forward to a cosmic collective whole.

There are three stages of change: traditional, transitional and transformational. These stages of change are embedded in the past 200-year history of modern social sciences, psychology, and philosophy. It is beyond the scope of Herescope to delve into this history, but for those who wish to understand the mechanics of this these three stages, we recommend a 4-tape video tape series by Dean Gotcher entitled "Research Seminar/Transitional-Transformational OBE/TQM/STW," available for $40 DVD or $50 videos at www.authorityresearch.com. This intellectual lecture series demonstrates that moving human beings from traditional to transitional to transformational is a manipulative process which has dire spiritual consequences. For readers who wish to understand the PROCESS of transformation, this video series is a must-see.

The goal of transformational change is to alter the human mind and spirit. This is done through a process of creating a state of "cognitive dissonance." New information is presented which is purposefully designed to conflict with old information. The intended result is that people abandon the traditional and begin to succumb to changing -- first through a transitional phase, and ultimately to transformation. The initial phase is often very seductive. Old values are discredited or broken down, which creates a crisis. New values, beliefs and behaviors are then explored during the transition phase, which is often highly affective in nature. New values become firmly grounded, replacing the old, in the final transformational phase. Marilyn Ferguson writes that "[c]onflict, pain, tension, fear, paradox . . . these are transformations trying to happen" (p. 76).

Marilyn Ferguson lists "four basic ways in which we change our minds when we get new and conflicting information" on page 71-72. She says that "paradigm change" in the fourth stage is transformation, which "can harmonize the [conflicting] ideas into a powerful synthesis. . . it relinquishes certainty." This is a perfect description of the post-modern maxim that there are no absolutes, that truth itself is evolving.

The Truth:

In the past 30 years evangelical leaders and seminarians have adopted the language and methods of "transformation." Christian leaders are being lured into the process by the initial degradation of the old (tradition). The process of transformation challenges tradition, and moves pastors through a transition phase towards the goal of attaining a "transformation."

Scripture teaches that there are two types of traditions: those traditions of men which supercede Scripture, which Jesus condemned in the Pharisees (Mark 7:7-8). And the good traditions which Paul spoke of in 2 Thessalonians 2:15 -- "Therefore, brethren, stand fast, and hold the traditions which ye have been taught, whether by word, or our epistle."

This transformational process begins simply -- by posing questions, challenging assumptions, and raising issues. But ultimately it intends to create a crisis in belief. Before succumbing to the rhetoric that characterizes the deconstruction of the old (tradition), pastors and leaders would do well to determine just how far that process intends to go. When it begins to erode Scriptural truth (doctrine) by supplanting it with new "transitional" doctrines, then it is time to stop.

"Go from the presence of a foolish man, when thou perceivest not in him the lips of knowledge." (Proverbs 14:7)

"For the word of the LORD is right; and all his works are done in truth." (Psalm 33:4)