by Norm Olson
Q. What about a new movement or thought among Christians known as transformation? Is it Biblical?
A. Is it Biblical? should be our constant question today with so many new programs, trends, and developments. We’ve seen the emerging church, dominion theology, postmodernism, seeker churches, the new pietism, pre-wrath, and open theism, just to name a few. We even have the head of a Christian radio network saying that Satan has taken over the churches, so believers should stay at home and worship—as though his dire picture holds true for all churches.
Denominations change their doctrinal statements and practices, often accommodating the world’s trends. One well-known evangelical denomination has held to the “personal and premillennial and imminent coming of our Lord Jesus Christ.” Now it is proposing to replace those first five words with “glorious.” Also, some time ago the denomination’s leader sent a memo to denomination pastors announcing that postmillennialism has become acceptable.
The denomination’s statement of faith has exhibited the group’s strong commitment to the inerrancy of Scripture. But now the group wants to become more “gospel centered,” which sounds noble except for possible ecuminicity.
For years this particular denomination has argued that the Bible and doctrine can be divided into essentials and nonessentials. But where does a cafeteria-style mentality lead? One member wrote in his blog that he hoped the denomination would continue by eliminating its teaching on an eternal Hell, since he believes the Scripture passages on it are vague.
We believe, in contrast, that all Scripture is profitable (2 Timothy 3:16) and that we are duty bound to declare the whole counsel of God (Acts 20:27).
I’ve digressed a bit in illustrating how fast doctrinal positions are changing. Many trends today have to do with ecumenism and the desire to succeed at all costs, even to discard once-held sound doctrine.
Transformation appears to be another attempt toward worldwide unity (ecumenism). As in many other movements, obscurity rules concerning who is involved in the transformation movement, what they believe, and how the movement operates. Don’t confuse this movement with the Biblical word “transformed” in Romans 12:2. As individual believers we should indeed be changed and empowered by the Holy Spirit, growing in grace daily. The transformation movement, in contrast, involves groups, and the idea is to “[do] whatever it takes to launch political, social, and cultural reforms on a global scale.”1 One report says the movement uses extremely sophisticated marketing techniques to facilitate this transformation.
For transformation to take place, spiritual activities with new names, new techniques, new methodologies, and new doctrines need to be used. Church hierarchical structures need to be realigned, and new authority and accountability structures must be superimposed between believers and God. The movement is said to thrive on a diet of constant change, and proponents believe that submitting to and participating in “transformation” is necessary to fulfill the Great Commission. Transformation is said to make possible “talking across the fence with Hindu, Buddhist, Sikh, Muslim . . . without assumption of superiority and power. . . . It will take a decolonized theology for Christians to appreciate the genuineness of others’ faiths, and to see and celebrate what is good, beautiful, and true in their beliefs without any illusions that down deep we all are believers in the same thing.”2
A scary aspect about these prospects is that they mislead undiscerning believers. For example, another evangelical denomination voted on these basic premises, and the resolution passed by 899 to 767. The issue was a change in that group’s doctrinal statement. The former statement said the denomination “disapproves of ministers or churches participating in any of the modern ecumenical organizations on a local, national, or international level in such a manner as to promote the ecumenical movement.”3 Commenting on the newly worded doctrinal statement, one pastor asserted that it is so broad, it could include homosexuals and Roman Catholics. All of this information and these actions remind us of still another Biblical use of “transformed,” this time concerning false teachers (2 Corinthians 11:13–15): “And no wonder! For Satan himself transforms himself into an angel of light” (v. 14). Let’s cling tenaciously to the Word.
1. Lynn and Sarah Leslie, “What Is Transformation?”
2. Leonard Sweet, Quantum Spirituality: A Postmodern Apologetic (Dayton, Ohio: Whaleprints, 1991), 130, 131.
3. Jewel Grewe, “Art. IX Sec. II in the Assemblies of God & the process of TRANSFORMATION.”
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