How can we develop a biblical framework for understanding transformational education? The New Testament provides some keys for doing so. In this article, we look at the verb metamorpho through its uses by the New Testament authors in both the Gospels and in the Epistles. God provides an image and an invitation to his people to be transformed when Jesus Christ is transfigured before Peter, James, and John. Why was Christ transfigured, and how is it significant for transformational education today? How then can the apostles help us understand what this transformation looks like in our lives and the educational ministry of the church?
Key Words: metamorpho, transfiguration, transformation, Romans 12:1–2
I believe it was around 1997 when I was first introduced to Rodney Clapp’s A Peculiar People: The Church as Culture in a Post-Christian Society
(1996). Clapp argues that Christianity no longer serves as the dominant civic religion in America. Being a “young and restless” evangelical type myself, I was drawn to his fearless and almost merciless critique of certain evangelical establishments and leader types. I’d found his work to be most refreshing and restorative for the evangelical churches in America, so much so that I had all the graduating students in both undergraduate and graduate educational ministries programs at Wheaton College read the book and engage in lively discussions.
Yet it was not until recent years that I really started experiencing the consequences of the so-called post-Christian conditions in North America. You see, a few years ago I moved from the “center” of American evangelicalism to one of the two major outposts of a post-Christian America: New England. Somehow, I managed to convince myself and my family that “God was calling” us to leave the comfort of Wheaton, Illinois (the “center”, yet much less prominent than previous decades) to migrate to New England, especially Boston, as a “missionary unit” to the bastion of secular academia’s center for “Christ’s sake.” Little was I prepared for what was waiting for us in New England, the once center of Christianity and Christian learning in America.
This articles advocates for the renewal of Christian education as a culturally informative, formative, and transformative ministry of the Christian church in the third millennium. It proposes an intergenerational approach to counter the age-segregated character of contemporary life in the United States and globally.
Thinking through Christian education in a post-Christian world involves a broad approach that looks outward at society and culture, understanding
the dynamics of a world that is “smaller” and more complex than ever, and viewing the dominant world and life view of our day, postmodernism, through discerning yet not reactionary eyes. This approach also peers inward at the church, recognizing the global nature of Christ’s body and thoughtfully tackling how society may be influencing her instead of the other way around. It may also involve looking backward, seeing where we have come from as a society and as a church, and identifying patterns that may be repeating themselves, as well as looking forward by being mindful of the current trajectory of our culture and this latest generation. All these things are viewed in the light of God through theology. With this in mind, here are a number of resources that help with this multifaceted approach.
This is to be a reflection on how to understand the discipline of theology, and practical theology in particular. The reflection entails what it means to engage in practical theology in the educational ministry of the church. In the process, a modest proposal will develop for the trajectory of practical theology that is characterized as a lifelong habitus that every Christian of all ages is engaged in as a part of God’s kingdom. This habitus is propelled by what I propose as the Three Pillars of Christianity: the Great Commandment, the Great Commission, and the Great Communion. These biblical maxims reveal the identity of and calling for the people of God within the very ministry of the triune God in his kingdom on earth.
Upon briefly examining how the modern church in America has relinquished its soul to the soul of the nation, the author offers a future trajectory of the church from a vantage point of one who longs to see the church in America rediscover its roots and mission. By situating himself as one who has been involved in the educational ministry of the church, the author then puts forth a Trinitarian vision of the church and its educational ministry that involve the on-going process of cultivating the Christocentric identity, virtues and practices that are informed by the biblical narrative, which functions as the only grand narrative of God's eternal kingdom.