Whenever we want to change what we believe or how we practice the faith, we decide it is time for a paradigm shift. Perhaps we fear admitting that we do not really want a paradigm shift but wholesale change. And in most cases, it is God we want to change and not simply the Church.
God is not into paradigm shifts. The whole of Scripture, from Genesis to Revelation, is but one narrative. This comes as a surprise to many who have come to see the Scripture as a collection of stories, mostly with morals to them or lessons to be learned. In this even the story of Christ is but one story, maybe the most important one but certainly not the exclusive one. Yet this is a flawed way to view the Scriptures and it leaves us open to the idea that the Word of the Lord is not forever but just for now.
As a little boy in Sunday school I was convinced that God was a reactor -- He was constantly upgrading and changing His game to meet the needs on the ground. Okay, so sin entered the world and screwed things up. God gave His Law and this was supposed to fix things on earth and give us an outline or pattern of what we needed to do to be right by Him. Okay, so that did not work. Sin was not contained and we did not become righteous. So God needed another option (a paradigm shift?) and He came up with sending His Son. Plan B or Option B worked. It all seemed so reasonable and normal because this is exactly how we work.
Except for one thing. God's ways are not like our ways. God knows what we do not. He did not shift gears or make a paradigm shift or change His plan. His plan was always Jesus. Even the Law points to Jesus. Before the foundation of the world, it was all about Jesus. He was and is and always will be the focus of God's saving will and purpose.
We like paradigm shifts. We look with the short view of a moment, a decade, a lifetime. We want to see what we cannot. We want physical assurances and signs. We don't want faith. We want proof. We want formulas and recipes for success (to get the outcomes we desire).
Okay. Same sex marriage and the embrace of all the gender identity stuff seems pretty solidly rooted. If we cannot change it and it seems our people are more and more under the sway of these changes to the fabric of society, we make a paradigm shift. It was bad but not it may not be. Pretty soon we have abandoned God and bought into lie that things change and God changes too. And it happens with all sorts of other things as well. We feel boxed into a corner and are not sure the truth is tenable any longer and so that truth changes. Abortion, evolution, homosexuality, etc... it is all about a disconnect between Scripture and our past.
The cost of paradigm shifts is that we lose the Gospel. If the Gospel is no longer about sin atoned for by the death of Jesus and about death overcome by His resurrection, then it is not the Gospel. If the Gospel is reduced to a pathetic and powerless love that can only accept, condone, and approve of what we want, then it is no Gospel at all. Paradigm shifts steal our hope and replace it with a feel good moment that will wear away and have to be re-established again as the world around us changes. We have lost our anchor and with it our hope and confidence.
Beware those who insist that in order to survive or in order to thrive, we must adopt a few paradigm shifts. . . this is not about fringe issues but about the Gospel itself. In the end we are left with a constantly moving target and a God who plays us. This is not the cross and empty tomb.