Paradigm Shift

I read these words a few days ago from a book I am currently reading. I will leave the book and author anonymous for now. But these words were penned with regards to the author explaining how Jesus brought a paradigm shift in regards to our understanding of the kingdom rule of God.

True they are.

‘The term paradigm shift was originally used over forty years ago to explain the transition from an established scientific viewpoint to a radically new one… A standard paradigm, ordinary model, or traditional interpretation continues undisturbed for such a long time that we think of it as reality itself. Problems, anomalies, and things that do not fit tend to get swept under the rug of normalcy, until the mound gets so big that people start stumbling over it. But the set paradigm or normative model holds fast until a new vision emerges that explains not only all the older one did, but also those other discrepancies that the old model could not.’

And do not these words relate to every generation of history? How much more do these words relate to the unfolding of church history over the past half millenium? Since the great Reformation, within each generation, there has been a stirring by one or a few or a larger group, challenging the status quo, calling for a paradigm shift.

We should not partake of such for simply the sake of taking part in such. Movements are just movements. Revolutions are just revolutions. But if they are of God, they will have a lasting effect.

I am reminded of the words of one wise man:

So in the present case I tell you, keep away from these men and let them alone, for if this plan or this undertaking is of man, it will fail; but if it is of God, you will not be able to overthrow them. You might even be found opposing God!” (Gamaliel – Acts 5:38-39)

There are even now ‘mounds of normalcy’ that have been gathered under the rug. People have been stumbling over them and more are beginning to take notice. Change is our lot in life. We are called into a life of transformation and restoration. Let us, as we hear and are stirred by God, be challenged to bring about the transformative, paradigm-shifting of the kingdom rule of God.

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4 thoughts on “Paradigm Shift

  1. How ironic, I was just talking about Thomas Kuhn and his paradigm shifts just last night :-).

    I bet I could wager a guess as to who the author is, but I’ll leave it for now ;-). Although, you may find this link interesting, expositing Thomas Kuhn and paradigms shifts:
    http://www.philosophers.co.uk/cafe/phil_feb2001.htm

    Ironically, I just shared it with Scott Johnson moments ago as well. If you ever bump into scientific positivists, just expose them to Thomas Kuhn. Postmodernism FTW ;-).

  2. Sounds like Brian McLaren.

    As I understood Kuhn, paradigm shifts weren’t just changes in the content of a belief, but a change in the way the world was understood. I think of Neil Postman’s discussion of how the technology of the printing press transformed the world.

    [Loose paraphrase] After the printing press, it wasn’t just Europe plus the printing press; it was a whole new Europe.

    The printing press changed the way people interacted with reality. Previously, table fellowship (face-to-face communication) was the primary medium to view the world. With the printing press, black ink on white paper became the primary medium. This paradigm shift changed the way people viewed the world. Then, print was king. This gave way to the French Encyclopedists, who believed they would one day catalog all of the world’s knowledge in a series of books.

    There is something inherently reductionistic about written/printed language. In fact, it is far easier to dehumanize those we disagree with because writing causes us to reduce them to the to ideas: both the ideas they represent and our ideas about them. Misunderstandings still take place in face-to-face communication, but few mediums seem to bring out our nastiness than the printed word.

    This problem is most easily seen in the medium of our latest paradigm shift: the screen. Now screens mediate our world. The trolling we see on message boards, blogs, and Twitter magnify the nastiness we all missed in the printing press era, because now we have immediate access to a wider array of ideas (aka people).

    This whole issue of the emerging church is rather tired. The Church has always been emerging. The life of Christ is constantly being planted in new cultures across both space and time. Cultures change. Christ doesn’t. Christ’s life will incarnate differently according to the culture. We’ve been struggling with this since the Jerusalem counsel (or I guess when Jesus came and flipped the script prior to Acts 15).

  3. Rob –

    These words are significant:

    There is something inherently reductionistic about written/printed language. In fact, it is far easier to dehumanize those we disagree with because writing causes us to reduce them to the to ideas: both the ideas they represent and our ideas about them. Misunderstandings still take place in face-to-face communication, but few mediums seem to bring out our nastiness than the printed word.

    To unveil the author, it was John Dominic Crossan, one of the main Jesus Seminar founders.

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