Paradigms

par·a·digm (pār’ə-dīm’, -dĭm’) Pronunciation Key n.

Middle English, example, from Late Latin paradīgma, from Greek paradeigma, from paradeiknunai, to compare : para-, alongside; see para-1 + deiknunai, to show; see deik- in Indo-European roots.]

  1. One that serves as a pattern or model.
  2. A set or list of all the inflectional forms of a word or of one of its grammatical categories: the paradigm of an irregular verb.
  3. A set of assumptions, concepts, values, and practices that constitutes a way of viewing reality for the community that shares them, especially in an intellectual discipline.

from the American Heritage Dictionary

I want to primarily make use of the third definition: A set of assumptions, concepts, values, and practices that constitutes a way of viewing reality for the community that shares them, especially in an intellectual discipline.

Religious beliefs and traditions clearly fall under this definition. Much of the Hebrew Scriptures (OT) and Net Testament develop, clarify, defend, and transform various paradigms. When Paul says, And do not be conformed to this world, but be transformed by the renewing of your mind, that you may prove what is that good and acceptable and perfect will of God. (Romans 12:2) he is speaking of shifting paradigms, from a worldly view, to a Godly view, which comes of and through a renewal of thought.

In the book of the Acts of the Apostles, we find several significant paradigm shifts. One is known as the “Conversion of Paul” – where Saul, a Pharisee and active oponent of the followers of Jesus has a sudden and unexpected encounter with the Risen Christ, is ministered to by the Holy Spirit through Annanias and other followers of Jesus, and comes to be the most active and passionate messenger for Christ in the first century of the church.

The Second big paragidm shift comes when Peter is opened to Gentiles (any non-Jew) coming into the church as full followers of Jesus – and without first becoming converted Jews. Peter’s paradigm shift here in Acts 10-11 comes less suddenly, but is no less dramatic for the life of the church, indeed for the world. God touched Paul as the leader of the ministry to the Gentiles, but Peter’s conversion was necessary so that the existing church might be opened to Paul’s ministry and the many believers who would come into the church through him.

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