New wine and new wineskins
I have been pondering of late on the significance of the text “no one puts new wine into old wineskins”, which was an idea that was often banded about by leaders of the charismatic movement of fifty years ago, as part of their raison d’être. The term has taken on fresh significance (for me) in this age of Corona. I am pretty sure there are many sermons to be found on the Internet on this text, but my understanding was that these words of Jesus were in response to the criticism that his disciples were more happy go lucky than John’s, who lived rather more austerely etc., and that he was bringing in new wine so to speak and given it is still fermenting etc., it couldn’t be contained in old wine skins that had no room to expand.
So join me if you will in my time machine, back 50 years, to when I was a young Christian and the Charismatic Movement had come to town as it had in many towns across the country. I’m not going to elaborate too much on what transpired; I have no doubt Christians who were around then have their own stories to tell about what went on. At the time, I belonged to a Bible believing church that took seriously the words of Jesus (although cynics might say they were selective in their choices). They were active in gospel preaching and just prior to what was to come they successfully sponsored an evangelistic crusade. Then the charismatic movement came to town. Among other things it helped wake up Christians whose approach to the faith was less earnest and sound than those who were in my church, whose views on such weak Christianity was antipathetic.
Going back to that time and reflecting on what happened next, some did have radically life changing experiences as a result of being baptised in the Holy Ghost and others opposed the movement (one of our elders told me – it was of the Devil). While it brought together Christians from different backgrounds, this “new” teaching also brought division, e.g. a two class system of “haves” (i.e. have been baptised in the Holy Ghost) and “have nots”. Lots of water has flown under the proverbial bridge since them. Some of the house churches that emerged at the time became new movements (denominations) and some re-integrated with mainstream churches. Lots of new controversies have since arisen among Christians (the history of the church is full of them) and the latest of which relates to “Corona”.
So let me return us to the current day and why wine is on my mind. One of my reading projects is “Romans 13 and Covid 19”, all 472 pages as well as links and resources to check out. I hope when I am through (although I confess right now I will likely skim through some of it) to do a review. But my impressions thus far are very favourable although while it ought to be read by the unenlightened, it does appear to be preaching somewhat to the choir – people like me who see the Corona pandemic as a scamdemic and moves by government to roll out and even mandate things like vaccines as part of an agenda initiated by the psychopaths who run the world (check out my recent do psychopaths run the world and does it really matter blog). Even so, it covers many important aspects of the Corona saga, including the false application of Romans 13 by many sections of the church and a recognition that there is a “deplorable” class of Christian that feel churchified disenfranchisement as a result of the actions being taken by those in church leadership. I have yet to read the authors suggestions, but here are mine.
“There is nothing new under the sun” is something the Preacher in the Book of Ecclesiastes was keen to remind his readers. The notion of needing new wineskins for new wine, called by the charismatics I encountered fifty years ago – and the call was repeated many times, applies as much today on the issue of Corona and the government agenda to stop churches doing what they are supposed to be doing today through lockdowns and imposing all sorts of rules in order to operate, as the part played by the gift of Tongues etc. was then! We find ourselves in a paradigm when the message (of the Gospel) has not changed, and neither has the churches commission to make disciples of all nations, but times are a changing and so must the way we do church (for some, there is no choice). The sad irony, was just as my own doctrinally sound church back then resisted ideas if changing the ways they did things, the biggest resistors today I have come across on subjects I have been crying out over, like Corona, have been the successors of that 1970’s charismatic movement!
Regarding what happened back then, I can see the legitimate concerns by both sides and recognise the then existing church structures were not adequate to address the valid issues raised by what was a move of the Spirit. Sadly, though, there has also been a tendency to throw the baby out with the bath water, to appear more relevant, as well as what we see now – acquiescence to ungodly government agendas. I have no doubt our God who is sits on His Throne is doing a new thing (it has even been thus), and that is evidenced by the refinement through various sufferings that members of the real church are experiencing, and the new wine that comes with it cannot be contained in old wine skins. My church back in the 1970’s is no longer operating and the same will happen to those churches that capitulate to the agenda the pyschopaths wish to impose on us, which in effect is to silence the church, except on matters that support the narrative they wish to push. The church ever is God’s idea when it comes to fulfilling His purposes for human kind. We need new wine and new wineskins. As for what the next generation of new wine churches will look like, I cannot say, but I have no doubt God will have His way if only we let Him.