Someone asked Albert Einstein how a paradigm is formed and he responded with a story about monkeys...
A group of scientists placed 5 monkeys in a cage. In the middle of the cage was a ladder with bananas on the top. Naturally, every monkey’s first thought was to climb the ladder and grab a banana. Each time a monkey went up the ladder, however, the scientists soaked the rest of the monkeys with cold water. After a short while, any time a monkey moved towards the ladder, the others beat him. It did not take long before no monkey dared to go up the ladder regardless of the temptation.
The scientists then decided to substitute one of the monkeys. The first thing this new monkey did, of course, was to head towards the ladder. Immediately the other monkeys beat him up. After several beatings, the new member learned not to climb the ladder even though he never knew why.
Then, a second monkey was substituted and the same thing occurred. This time, though, the first monkey participated in the beating of the second monkey. A third monkey was changed with a similar result. Then a fourth was substituted and the beating was repeated. Eventually the fifth monkey was replaced. What was left was a group of five monkeys that never received a cold shower, yet continued to beat up any monkey who attempted to climb the ladder.
I imagine that if monkeys could talk and someone asked why they beat anyone who climbs the ladder, they would reply, “That’s just the way we do things around here.”
I can’t help but wonder how many of our modern “Christian” paradigms are not based in authentic, first-hand experiences with Jesus Christ, but instead, in traditions and second-hand teachings.
That’s not to say that traditions and second generation teachings are all wrong; but if the goal of Christianity is intimate, personal relationship with God, we also need to experience first-hand the love of God. Second-hand teachings and traditions can never replace first hand, experiential knowledge.
The reason we are so reluctant to examine our spiritual paradigms is because we have a tendency to view our theological framework (worldview) as a stone archway. If we remove a stone, even to examine it closely, we are in danger of our entire worldview collapsing. But pastor and author, Rob Bell, suggests that we view this differently (change our paradigm). Instead of our spiritual worldview being a stone archway, we might look at it as a trampoline, with our specific individual beliefs being the springs that keep everything balanced and in the proper tension. It is perfectly ok to remove a spring one at a time, hold it up to God’s Word, compare it to our real-life experiences, and discover what we actually believe and why. If, it turns out that what we were taught is accurate and meaningful and true, we put it back into place. But if it needs tweaking and polishing before we put it back on the trampoline, that’s ok too. In the mean time, the trampoline still functions fine.
It really is ok with God for us to seek authentic Truth and ask questions and search Scriptures for ourselves and develop a personal, real and intimate relationship with Him in the process.
Why are we generally so reluctant to examine our paradigms?
What is the problem if our spiritual paradigms are grounded more in religious tradition than relationship?