Sunday 20 March 2016

New wine and new bottle - consciousness and metaphysics - both needed, together, simultaneously. Either alone will achieve nothing: be a dead end

The reason why nothing seems to make a difference to the overall wrongness of 'things' is that the system we inhabit is buffered against change - We need new wine and a new bottle: both - if the wine is new but the bottle is old, the wine will be imbued with toxin; if the bottle is new and the wine is old we still drink the same poison.

The wine is consciousness - the mode of thinking; the bottle is metaphysics - the system of thought. Both need replacing.

If we try to attained higher, fuller consciousness with without a Christian metaphysics - as do the New Age, Perennial philosophers - we become just spiritualized, political, 'healing-orientated' mainstream Leftists. And if we try to be Christians without a new consciousness - like some evangelicals who achieve numerically impressive conversions - then we will express all the right beliefs but they will make no difference to the texture of our daily living we will be normal alienated, stultified 21st century bureaucrats.

To speak with harsh honesty, when it comes to the deep malaise of our time and our persons: Either wine alone or bottle alone is useless. 

The fact that we need to change both is why our civilization is winding-down and indeed actively destroying itself - and nothing seems to make a difference. The best spiritual teachers of modern times recognize this (I am thinking, from my personal pantheon, of Steiner, Barfield, Arkle and - currently - Naydler) they recognize that we need to be Christians and we also need to be mystics: we need both.

We need to be mystics in the sense that we cannot be 'normal' in our thought processes - we cannot think 'like other people'. Many Christians are resistant to this fact; but it is a fact nonetheless. If we are to live by the spirit in a spirit-denying and spirit-mocking world, Christians are necessarily going to appear weird, are going to think strangely and incomprehensibly to the mainstream masses. 

Our evidences, the perspective on things, cannot be mundane - we must (and I mean must) be open to the imagination and to non-perceptual communications - open, that is, to those matters which are directly-communicated to our inmost spirits. .

But also we must be Christian - our metaphysics must be Christ-centred; in this respect theological heresy seems to matter little or nothing* - it is the presence of Christ uniquely at the focus of life and the world which matters, not how we make detailed theological explanations of the nature and operations of Christ.

The necessity of Christianity is true for reasons given by revelation and indeed philosophy - but the evidence is easily seen in the ineffectuality or counter-productiveness - the chaotic and prideful lives of a multitude of non-Christian (or pseudo-Christian) spiritual thinkers. These are resistant to the necessity of Christianity and have 1001 reasons why they cannot allow such 'exclusive' claims - ultimately these reasons are secular, materialist, and anti-intuitive; they are excuses by which people cling to 'respectability' in the secular Left establishment.

But reality is exclusive. Christianity is true - so saying it isn't uniquely valid is unreal, untruthful, mistaken. A life based on such a gross error as the failure to recognize the centrality of that which just is central will be flawed deeply and fatally.

This is why being effective as a full Christian in the modern world is so difficult - we have born-into a false, nonsensical self-refuting metaphysics of anti-Christian materialist relativity which undercuts and renders pointless, meaningless and purposeless all the good things in our experience; and we (also) inhabit a profoundly alienated thought world - where we are trained-into a nihilist isolation and exile of our deepest selves - so life is unreal, people are unreal, and the situation is so unbearable that life is spent trying not to think about life (escaping into distraction, insensibility and intoxication).

The way out is therefore difficult - because we must simultaneously have new wine and new bottles- there can be no gentle and incremental process of piecemeal replacement - at any rate we must transform both together or neither will lead to the change we so much need and wish for.

We must have a different consciousness and we must understand ourselves in the world differently at the same time and in a mutually reinforcing way. Both. Together.

Difficult - but at least we know what we must do. And know that doing just the one or the other is - sooner or later and usually very quickly - a waste of time and effort: a dead-end.

* Note on heresy. Christians may be alarmed by my apparently casual attitude towards heresy; but, negatively, a focus on the necessity of the 'correct' set of beliefs about Christ has been massively counter-productive in the history of Christianity (causing schism, hatred, and with each side excluding innumerable exceptionally good and valid Christians from their definitions); while positively, if Christ is the centre of a belief system - and Christ is minimally understood as the Jesus of the Gospels who is son of the loving creator god - then this will surely suffice to exclude the bad-and-non-Christian heresies.


Anonymous said...


New wine - New bottles - you tell a hard, hard message for most people. True though it is, I'm glad this post is not the first of your posts that I have seen. The full-on Dr Charlton is strong liquor, not the watered table wine needed for a fledgling Christian just peering out of the nest. A few months ago, I'd have scuttled back into my egg-shell!

I couldn't agree more on the heresy point. Christ - Son of God - Saviour - these are the three essential, and are enough. Whether the trinitarians or the unitarians are right is immaterial to me. And there are plenty of other disputed doctrines. As far as I know, all Christian denominations, and even the Gnostics, believe the essentials. Christ is the centre - the core.


Bruce Charlton said...

@Seeker - "As far as I know, all Christian denominations, and even the Gnostics, believe the essentials. "

'Belief is a slippery word. The way I would put it is that the problems, which are real are not in the doctrines but come out in 'the fruits'. A large number of modern Christians will affirm Orthodox theologcal beliefs, but are very obviously shaping their practice to fit around their political beliefs - which take primacy. For example, they would be happy to entertain the idea that Jesus was not resurrected but they would get very angry at someone who attacked feminism, or anthropogenic global warming. For such Christians, modern Leftism is what is sacred, and the non-Left who are heretics. For instance, in the Church of England clergy you are allowed, even as a Bishop, to deny the Virgin Birth and be promoted to a high level - but you are not allowed to be a member of some (legal, alllowed to stand in elections) 'right wing'/ nationalist political parties.

In sum, as I said before, many modern Christians are deeply dishonest about their convictions - they are either decieving themselves, or lying for their own reasons.

But we both agree that the minimal definition of A Christian is a very small set of propositions.