The Shifting Baseline Syndrome

To combat the disease of this shift, the Lord is calling His Church to return to a simple and uncluttered expression of faith.

Posted on

We are living in a time where many are believing and accepting various forms of deception as truth. This acceptance has occurred over time unnoticed and unchallenged. There is a definition that describes this descent into error.

In the mid-nineties, a marine biologist named Dr. Daniel Pauly used the phrase “Shifting Baseline Syndrome” to describe the lowering standards of expectation in the field of science. Pauly’s definition has gained acceptance to describe this phenomenon in areas of life beyond the realm of science.

In Shifting Baseline Syndrome theory accepted thresholds will shift over time in the absence of historic information and experience. As a result of these shifts, people will accept the conditions in which they were raised as the norm, and as truth.  This psychological, sociological, and spiritual phenomenon creates and defines the Shifting Baseline Syndrome.

To accurately interpret social and religious trends we need to have a baseline that does not shift with each generation. Honoring Scripture, expressions of selfless love, and a community of faith are hedges against these negative shifts.  A problem Dr. Pauly discovered was young researchers were setting the baseline of their data at the beginning of their careers instead of upon the most reliable and historic data. As a result, a gradual shift took place changing what was considered normal from a historic perspective to a faulty interpretation of reality. The shift created a downward trend in the reliability of available data. This trend could go unexamined and underestimated before its negative impact is realized.

We are living in a syndrome of a spiritual baseline shift that has been occurring for the last several decades. In medical parlance, a syndrome is the recognizable signs or symptoms that occur together alerting the physician to the presence of disease.

To combat the disease of this shift, the Lord is calling His Church to return to a simple and uncluttered expression of faith where our historic core is reaffirmed and becomes an anchor against the drifting that will surely happen if not addressed. Revisiting the historic creeds of the Church, the reliability of unchanging Scriptural truth, and the value of being a member in a community of faith committed to the Great Commission is where we will begin to halt the shift in our generation.


This is an updated edition of a post originally published on Garris Elkins

Featured Image by Paul Brennan from Pixabay

The views and opinions expressed by Kingdom Winds Collective Members, authors, and contributors are their own and do not represent the views of Kingdom Winds LLC.

About the Author

Garris Elkins is a Kingdom Winds Contributor. He and his wife, Jan, serve the global Church through writing, speaking, and mentoring. They live in southern Oregon, tucked away in the foothills of the Rogue Valley. Their shared desire is to have each person learn how to hear the heart of God and become a transforming voice in their culture.