When Jesus was walking around the Mediterranean landscape the social conditions were not all that different than today. Societies struggled with changing family and gender roles, sexual controversy, local resistance to unprecedented political power; tyranny and prejudice were rampant. Christianity was a budding cult, unifying varied beliefs and behaviors under one theology of shared love. I am talking about 100 to 400 AD, before the church became an institution and bureaucracy.
Many models found in today’s systems of education, government, health care, etc. are largely morally based on christian precepts. Today these social structures are crumbling under the weight of corruption, greed, power, laziness, etc. Our old wine skin is tattered. The principle glue holding us together as family, friend, society and nation is cracking. The seams of our structures are stressed and bursting not from new wine but often from a desperate need for new paradigms.
Have we forgotten or lost the original message of shared love?
Why is there so little room for experimental theology, why do we decimate our environment when we did not create it, why do our nations fight with weapons that are too big and too powerful making life and survival nearly impossible, why do our conflicts and divisions separate us?
Renaissance for the Christian Mind.
We live in a pluralistic world with no one answer! This is a good thing, it means there is lots of potential for Old Wine skins filled with New Wine. The Christian church has the opportunity to be a leader and example for petitioning peace between Judaism, Islam and other religious beliefs by rethinking the ancient message to ‘actually live the spirit of love‘. Since Christian, Muslims and Jews all use the same core information, It may be prudent to develop and focus on communicating the biblical message, ‘live in the spirit of love‘.
In this century, archaeologists in Egypt have dug up forgotten Gnostic texts; the treatise on Resurrection, the Mary Gospel, The Gospel of Truth, etc. Also, there is no doubt ‘unimportant or heretical stuff ‘ in the Vatican library needing to be read again. We needn’t be afraid to deviate from what has been accepted as orthodox to uncover what might be valued for today. What was rejected in the past may help us to unwind the mess we have in the present and give new light on our path to the future.
Our inability to discover our own unique theology is not all together our fault.
In the early church very few people could read or write, the mass was given in Latin around the world until 1964 and the church authorities have only recently encouraged any kind of individual study. In part, the New Testament and The Nicene creed have been the beginning and end product of the early christian community, they represent the core text and doctrine and have changed little in 1,600 years. They have been deemed the Master Story with little opportunity for any deviation from the format or the message. Is it any wonder we either need a new wine skin or new wine? Yes the interpretations have changed gradually over 1600 years but at the rate the world is changing today we might have to pick up the pace.
I am not suggesting we throw out the baby with the bath water only some of the water. Before the formation of Christianity as an institution,100 to 400 AD, there were many lively debates over the written sermons, oral history, text from the wisdom brothers and sisters, nomadic mystics and hermits.
Theirs was an informal church filled with discussion, paradox, passion, insights, visions, etc. One thing they all had in common was their insatiable desire to know the mystery behind the man we call Jesus Christ and His message to ‘live the spirit of love‘.
Fill you mind and heart with curiosity and hope asking; Will Old Wine skins filled with New Wine burst?