Making The Transition: Epistemological Transitions And Resolution

If the knowledge and teachings from the Word of God deconstructs and overrides the established epistemological framework, the person will experience what is called an epistemological transition.  Alasdair MacIntyre states that the person’s, “…narrative will be brought to a point at which questions are thrust upon the narrator which make it impossible for him to continue to use it as an instrument of interpretation.”  In other words, God’s revelation of His Word will make it impossible for the person to depend on their previous manmade knowledge source and system.  As a result, the previous sources of knowledge are rejected and the Biblical narrative is received, which results in a change to their worldview and a change to their behavior structure, values and feelings. [1]  Like falling Dominos, the epistemological transition resulting from the Word impacts all aspects of the person’s life.   
After the epistemological transition has occurred, resolution takes place.  McIntyre comments on how this epistemological crisis is resolved.  He states that the new information must enable, “…the agent to understand both how he or she could intelligibly have held his or her original beliefs and how he or she could have been so drastically misled by them.”[2]  Within epistemological resolution, the individual then processes the old knowledge and its source in light of the new epistemology and his new worldview.  During the crisis the person did not experience a comprehensive equilibrium where there was rest and continuity between the sources of his knowledge, his framework, his worldview and his behavioral patterns.  In this epistemological resolution stage he now experience symmetry, which then allows him to reflect upon the journey that he has taken and the errors that he believed.  As reflection happens, a wide variety of emotions may emerge, such as: regret over the old system, anger about believing old knowledge, embarrassment over possible naivety, relief that the crisis is over, joy with their new perspective and excitement over seeing things from a fresh perspective.[3]

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[1] In Biblical terms the epistemological transition is known as repentance and conversion.  It is a change of mind and a change in direction.  As Christians we have major conversions and we can be converted daily.  According to Robert Overgaard (Personal Communication, July 29th of 2012), “The word for repentance, a change of mind, is a rich term…  It is richer than just knowledge because it takes into account the dimension of righteousness that leads to understanding truth and the need for a cleansing from blindness.”
[2] Alasdair MacIntyre, Why Narrative? Readings in Narrative Theology (Eerdmans Publishing, 1989), 140-141.
[3] There is a colloquial term used by Calvinist Christians called, “The Cage Stage.”  In this stage Calvinists contend that due to a person’s intense epistemological zeal (i.e. zeal resulting from the epistemological transition from Arminianism to Calvinism) that the best place for them is in a cage.  Reformed Baptist James White comments on this saying, I've seen it many times. The Cage Stage. A believer's eyes are opened to the majesty of God as the sovereign King of the universe, and their entire life is turned upside down. And for a while, they have more zeal than they have knowledge. We call it the "cage stage." That period in the experience of the new Calvinist where they would be better off kept in a cage until they can gain enough maturity to handle these vitally important topics aright. That time when they are more likely to hurt themselves, and others! You know, when they are all running around smacking someone upside the head with Pink’s The Sovereignty of God?"  (, Retrived July 28th of 2012)