No insight from sociology, psychology, or any other discipline will be scorned. Each will, in fact, be both sought and welcomed. But the guiding star of this enterprise will be nothing less than Christocentric study of scripture that can challenge the church to act out the meaning of Christ for this age.
Wineskins is committed to the stimulation of bold but responsible change in the church of God. The very title is taken from Jesus' parable about the ever-fresh gospel and its always-frail containers. He warned against putting "new wine in old skins" lest the skins burst and waste the contents. In his metaphor, the skins are the culturally-conditioned and time-bound experiences of the people who form the covenant community of God. When those receptacle-carriers of the heavenly message become fixed and inflexible, they no longer serve God's purpose effectively.
The gospel never changes. The redemptive message of God's work in Christ at Calvary is needed by people in every sector of today's global village. Europe and Africa, yuppie and homeless, sedate and trendy, "boomer" and "buster" - everyone needs the Good news. But the communications vehicles for that message may - no, must - adjust to time, place, and need. The church is a "communication vehicle" for the gospel, as much as television, printing press, or one-on-one evangelism methods. It is the oldest and most important vehicle for communicating Christ to the world. It achieves its end by reading and responding to its environment - just as any living organism does.
As the living body of Christ, the church's mandate is to be his faithful presence in the world. A "faithful presence" in Europe may well be an inappropriate one in Africa; an effective witness to yuppies would almost surely be tasteless and self-defeating with homeless persons; what touches the sedate will leave the trendy stone cold; and the concerns of a "boomer" are so often in conflict with her "buster" neighbor that what reaches her will miss the person next door by light years. The church must be light on its feet. It must address the spirit of time and place without absorbing it. The body of Christ must be an elastic wineskin for the gospel wine rather than a brittle liability to it.
We have no desire for this magazine to go where it is not wanted. It begins with a two-year commitment to publication and indeed may not extend beyond that. Just as churches need to discover a way to discard programs a methods that no longer work, so we begin Wineskins with a method already in view to terminate the magazine if its attempts prove to be unappreciated or counter-productive. Not one of us involved in starting this project needs something else to do. We believe there is an unmet need, and we hope to address it. Only if interest and support have brought us to a point of being self-sustaining by April, 1994 will there be a 25th issue of the paper.
We hope to allow a variety of constituencies and points of view to be heard in these pages. One need not agree with the editors of Wineskins on a litmus-test set of issues. We want to hear from people to our left and right, for we believe that discussion between too-narrow parameters cannot stimulate either the intellect or the soul. A man or woman need only be possessed of a genuine love for Christ to qualify for submitting articles to this journal.
Our background and commitment is to the Church of Christ that was born of the American Restoration Movement. Our goal is to move that group closer to the church of Christ revealed in Scripture. Restoration is a never-finished project, and we hope to stimulate its pursuit in our generation. Our list of writers will not be limited to our own heritage, for one of the most helpful things to a clear vision of ourselves will be to hear others' perspective on us and receive their counsel-rebuke humbly.
The three editors of Wineskins commit to the production of a Christ-centered magazine with thought, balance, and challenge in abundance each month. We affirm our intent to write practically for a broad audience and not technically for a handful of academics. We promise to undergird our efforts with earnest prayer. And we covenant with our readers to be positive rather than reactive in tone.
We ask for your assistance. Be aware of this project. Pray for God to direct it to his end and glory. Help us secure as wide a subscription base as possible. And read these pages with an unyielding commitment to the goal of revitalizing the church for today's challenge of lifting up Christ to the world.
To God be the glory!