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. Christians learned Old Wine Skins burst with New Wine. I am talking about 100 to 400 AD, before the church became an institution and bureaucracy. Those new believers burst with good news and hoped for change.
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.
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?
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.