Anxiety Which Prozac And Jubilee 99 Pluralism Will Not Cure
Music as complex harmony or instrumental music or loud preaching creates spiritual anxiety which drives the audience to distraction and many to Prozac. However, Prozac cannot cure the burden Jesus came to eliminate. That was spiritual anxiety from religious ritual.
The exhilarating effect of music and wine always led anxious worshipers to believe that they had contacted their god - for a price. Wine is now a common "affect image" (Campbell) or mystical worship code to identify worship as an emotional experience. New wine without a new wineskin would be useless. Therefore, the "skin" parable is taken from the mouth of Jesus Whose gospel and Kingdom wasn't quite "ready for prime time."
However, the Biblical parable really says "don't put the new, unleavened juice of the gospel into the old wineskin of Judaism or paganism.
The old skin contains the leaven,
the pure juice will be leavened,
it will ferment and burst because the wine maker did not expect it to ferment.
By putting pure juice (the gospel) into a new, uncontaminated skin, the juice would not ferment.
The so-called new "paradigms" are really leaven scraped up from the garbage heaps of ancient Babylon. They will, have already, caused such ferment that the "ceremonially pure vessel of clay" into which Jesus put the pure juice or water of the word has burst at its seams. The result is the periodic division of churches of Christ into smaller and smaller splinter groups made to satisfy personal ego to triumph over the enemy.
Wine was normally stored unfermented. It might be boiled to sterilize it and increase the sugar content to keep it from fermenting. It was then put into sterilized jars and kept in a cool place such as at the bottom of a well or lake. Fermented wine was produced to get drunk on rather than being a primary food crop.
This wine was fermented in the vat and all impurities removed before bottling. Then, it would be put in fired clay vessels. The wineskin was not a permanent storage vessel for the fruit of the vine or even wine. Goat skins just taste terrible. However, it was an easy, portable way to carry it to the fields or on a journey. Because it would probably be sealed, if you tried to carry fermenting wine you would find both wine and skin lost. Most little boys knew not to do that.
The new methods express the concern of all of us but they may just be anxiety-ridden reactions. In the words of one publisher --
"I find the end of the millennium personally upsetting to many people. Lately we've been getting lots of manuscripts on how to change your life in ways that haven't really been tried before..."
Of Baby boomers, one editor said, "Right around the turn of the millennium they'll be going through their midlife crisis, whether they like it or not.
This will prompt them to undertake some inner searching --not the least the search for spiritual guides (channelers or vintners) to lead them out of the wilderness of midlife." (Jeremiah, David, Invasion of Other Gods, p. 153).
Perhaps without knowing it, we repeat the Israelite desire for "guides to lead us out of the wilderness and back to 'denominational' slavery in Egypt." This is not the security of Christ but the anxiety of a legalistic heart. Some need promises to keep and "shepherds" to guide them to restore financial power and the masculine gender.
Still others need a Jubilee to restore the land to the rightful "tribe." But first, we have to have a day of Atonement. Atonement is achieved when the "wineskin" stretches enough to be totally inclusive except for those who are exclusive.
Because the "fixers for a price" are always "the breakers for a price" the motive is always the need to totally reject and atone for one's own religious past. Unfortunately, the legal need to atone for our own sins includes the need to implicate the rest of the world. According to Jeremiah --
"We're very interested right now in books that focus on the breakdown (uniting with) of Judeo-Christian structures... books about the healing issues involved [with those who are rejecting their religious past]." (Jeremiah, David, Invasion of Other Gods, p. 153).
Break Down Those Walls
All of these are sincere ambitions to break down the walls. However, some walls are intended for protection. By breaking down the walls of the wineskin by opening it up we will introduce destructive leaven which will grow and turn our wine into vinegar. Unless we see ourselves as just "a bit ugly denomination" (many are) and feel the need to do what only God can do, we should just teach the Word and remain true to the Biblical and Restoration Movement idea: there should be no institution larger than the local congregation. Nor wineskins stretchable to hold fermenting egos:
"Today we tend to value tolerance so highly that we sometimes
advocate indifference toward competing religious loyalties.
We are likely to sympathize with Solomon's cosmopolitanism, or even with the compromising attitude of Ahab's generation, who hopped back and forth between opposing views.
But, as we have seen, Israel's prophets attacked the tolerant syncretism of the time
and insisted on a fierce devotion to Yahweh.
It has been rightly observed that 'intolerance in religion was not a characteristic of ancient peoples, and was only introduced into Israel by the prophets.' The flame of their conviction was kindled at the ancient sources of Mosaic faith, and burst forth like a consuming fire
at a time when the nation was in danger of being engulfed by Canaanite culture." (Anderson, Bernard, Understanding the Old Testament, p. 259).
If you want an example of a wineskin religion of anxiety look at the battle between the Jezebel and her musical worship teams and Elijah with his spoken words.
Of course, Anderson is speaking of women or effeminate domination of Israel which always included preachers or prophets singing, clapping, playing instruments and wounding themselves and their watchers trying to find the lost god and perhaps their lost gender.
It would indeed take a very "expansive" wineskin to contain both historical Judaism and Christianity. This perhaps led to a concern about the flood of new books where the credentials were superior but the message seemed destructive. Jeremiah's solution is to return to Scriptures to search for spiritual health. This might be a correct way to reject our religious pasts if it is destructive without the child-like lament, "You're one too."
"The author, the publishing house, the endorsements on the cover should be indications of the spiritual content of the book. However, even those sources may experience creeping heresy. I believe the study of the Scriptures and the Christian faith are the greatest sources of spiritual health." (Jeremiah, David, Invasion of Other Gods, p. 153).
Just remember that book writing and publishing is an occupation and not always a ministry. Prozac is one of the most popular drugs in the world. It is needed by many because of the spiritual anxiety created by legalistic preachers urging members on to doing great works so God will not get us. This was the burden laded on by the clergy and Jesus came to remove the anxiety by saying, "come aside and engage in some quiet discussion, meditation or prayer." The lilies of the field are not anxious and do not need religious prozac.
Click Here to see how various change agents are identical