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There are many instances in the Hebrew Scriptures (Old Testament) and Christian Scriptures (New Testament) in which ancient Israelites and/or Christians suddenly altered their beliefs, teachings, and/or practices in response to direct words from God, the statements of prophets, or the teachings of rabbis. They rejected the past and accepted new ways of thinking and behaving. This process is often referred to as progressive revelation -- the concept that God did not teach full theological, legal, moral, scientific, medical and other knowledge to humans in the beginning. Rather, God gradually revealed truths over a long interval, whenever humans were capable of absorbing them.

Beliefs differ among Christians and the followers of other religions concerning whether progressive revelation continues today. For example:

bullet Muslims generally believe that the Qur'an is God's complete and final revelation to humanity.
bullet The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints, the Mormons, accept new revelations from God as church beliefs and practices need to be altered. The two most notable revelations involved a command to end polygyny (one man with multiple wives ) and to end racism in the denomination.
bullet Other Conservative Protestants generally believe that progressive revelation ceased when the final book in the Christian Scriptures was written. The Bible is regarded as authoritative, complete and adequate to answer all of our questions.
bullet Liberal Protestants often see the Holy Spirit continuing to work in today's culture through progressive revelation of new truths -- often discovered by physical and social scientists. This is particularly true in the area of human rights and social action.

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Topics covered in this section:

bullet Introduction to progressive revelation
bullet Three paradigm shifts recorded in the Bible: Satan, sacrifices, holy days
bullet Three additional paradigm shifts Transferability of sin, afterlife, status of women (being written)

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Copyright 2003 to 2006 by OntarioConsultants on Religious Tolerance
Originally written: 2003-DEC-23
Latest update: 2006-AUG-17
Author: B.A. Robinson

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