What Would Jesus Brew?

In a bold move toward being more Christ-like I am going to delve into the wondrous world of drink-making… that is, brewing. With the help of a home-brewing kit from my wife I will test my skills at this time-honored tradition, and as a follower of Christ I am excited by the renowned group of spiritual giants that my beer-making and beer-consumption will put me in company with. My church just started a group called Theology @ the Taproom where we discuss theology and drink great beer as true Christians like C.S. Lewis and J.R.R. Tolkien would do. In fact, Theology @ the Taproom is starting off with a book written by Dorothy Sayers, one of the Inklings and a contemporary of Tolkien and Lewis.

Thankfully, the resurgence of microbrewing in the United States is helping to overcome the great loss and to resurrect the art of brewing. I personally long for the return to the glory days of Christian pubs where God’s men gather to drink beer and talk theology.
- Mark Driscoll, The Radical Reformission

Now, many Protestant Christian churches in America have been near-continually lying to their congregations for almost a century about what the Bible says on wine and alcohol. They deny that Christ both made and drank wine with his apostles despite overwhelming scriptural evidence. Not until fairly recently in US history has the newer church generation been mature and powerful enough to start casting out the feminism-driven romance with prohibitionism (alcohol is sin) and abstentionism (it’s not a sin but Christians should abstain) that has been perpetuated by “nearly-false” prophets. To be fair, not EVERYONE preaching such blasphemy does so from a Satanic heart… some are merely ignorant or mentally blocked by their legalistic upbringing… but never-the-less it is a sin to declare a sin something that is not.

Diligently do everything I command you, the way I command you: don’t add to it; don’t subtract from it.
- Deuteronomy 12:32 (The Message Bible)

It never ceases to amaze me how anyone (even people trying to pass off as Christ-followers) will re-write and re-interpret history and scripture to suit their own purposes. I’ve expanded on such in my previous post Chardonnay and Lean Pockets. Here’s a link regarding what the Bible says about alcohol [LINK] and a link that even specifically addresses Jesus drinking beer [LINK]. And yet another link on the history of beer in the Christian-influenced world [LINK].

If self-righteousness were an art form, many Protestants’ work would be in the Guggenheim!
- Brad Stine

Here is a little history refresher (taken from The Radical Reformission by Mark Driscoll) that I like to bring up every now and then:

  • Saint Gall was a missionary to the Celts and a renowned brewer
  • After Charlemagne’s reign, the church became Europe’s exclusive brewer
  • When a young woman was preparing for marriage, her church brewed a special bridal ale, from which we derive the word bridal
  • Pastor John Calvin’s annual salary included upwards of 250 gallons of wine to be enjoyed by him and his guests
  • Martin Luther once wrote of the Reformation, “While I sat still and drank beer with Philip and Amsdorf, God dealt the papacy a mighty blow.”
  • Luther’s wife Catherine was a skilled brewer, and his love letters to her when they were apart lamented his inability to drink her beer
  • When the Puritans landed at Plymouth Rock, the first permanent structure they erected was a brewery

It is a striking truth how scarce the above facts are within Protestant sermons in the US. And as if our myopic faith had no limit to its hypocrisy… our “teachers” often neglect the fellow brothers and sisters in Christ across the ocean who live in cultures not plagued by relics of abstentionism and having no temptation to re-write the Bible. They regularly drink beer and wine with such Christ-given freedom that American visitors from legalistic backgrounds often express great shock and discomfort, a testament to the false doctrine they were force fed from birth.

Some Methodist minister by the name of Welch invents grape juice in 1869 to replace communion wine and we’ve been suckling it ever since.
- Steve Mooradian

I’m no liberal Christian… I’m a politically conservative, theologically fundamental Christ-follower who happens to drink beer and worship in blue jeans playing electric guitar. And now I will brew… but with so many choices of fine ales and lagers I am left to ask myself… what would Jesus brew?

u comment i follow 22 Comments

  1. jessiecoates
    Posted September 30, 2006 at 3:02 pm | Permalink

    Yes, it’s all true. But what about ‘the brother’ who can’t drink with control, if our emcouragin drinking encourages him to drink we are to refrain. If everyone could just stop when they wanted to we would have no problem. But look at AA they say it is a disease and the safest way is never to start. What about the money it takes out of food budgets. If you are strong enough to drink and not get drunk please don’t encourage the young people who are not.

  2. Posted September 30, 2006 at 3:34 pm | Permalink

    jessiecoates :: I don’t encourage anyone to drink. I DO encourage people to discard bad theology and legalistic hypocrisy. Once shed, the Christ-followers realize their freedoms… and then at that point they can start making smart choices. Choices like… do I eat more dessert or not because I’m already a little too hefty…. or do I have another beer because I’ve already had one 30 minutes ago… or do I even have one at all.

    The brother who can’t drink with control has issues he needs to work out, and nobody should try and stumble him. But don;t misintepret what that means. For instance, if I’m spending too much time watching football because it is a serious temptation for me does that mean that everyone in my men’s group at church has to stop talking about the game when I walk in the door? Of course not… that would be just stupid. Because otherwise, by that same logic Christ could never have drank because somebody without self-control would have seen Him or heard about it and felt “encouraged” and gotten drunk.

    Being strong enough to drink and not get drunk is about the same as being strong enough to eat desserts at your meals and not get fat over time. No argument you make about alcohol cannot be used in the same manner about other things (like dessert) that the same anti-alcohol people have no problem with. This is the very definition of hypocrisy. Basically we need to stop trying to remake Jesus into what WE wish Him to be.

  3. Montane
    Posted September 30, 2006 at 10:15 pm | Permalink

    Jesus would brew a wheat beer. Even, perhaps, a fruit wheat (like Franziskaner lemon wheat or Sam Adams cherry wheat).

  4. Posted October 2, 2006 at 12:38 am | Permalink

    John Piper, a teetotaler himself, wrote excellent articles and sermons on the subject, like his Flesh
    Tank and Peashooter Regulations
    . I think it is fine if a Christian decides to abstain, and silly when others say that THAT is wrong or legalistic (without good reason). It is not silly to question motives though – and to get to the heart of the matter. And it certainly is wrong to call something bad that Jesus made and enjoyed (though that was wine and not beer, granted) :-)

    And that is why I was saddened by the recent decision by a lot of really good men in the SBC to encourage church-wide prohibitions (resolution found here). I felt like it was a step back. We would gain a lot of ground by cherishing true Christian freedom balanced with the expedience that Paul advocated in his freedom (Rom 14).

    Let us know how the brew turns out. Maybe you can start your own WarAxe Beer & Theology Pub.

  5. Posted October 3, 2006 at 1:50 am | Permalink

    10 02 06

    Hey Steve:
    Great post! I too lament over the ‘self deprivation as Christian’ theology. It makes little sense if one reads about the life and times of Christ. I even recall a story when he turned water to wine at a party! I have heard that there is a ‘time for all things’ and think that scripture definitely applies to alcohol. In any event, I wish you well in your brewing adventure. My husband and I’s project together is gardening, but we have been considering brewing as well. In either case, I think Jesus might drink a dark brew like a Guiness if he was contemplative and light ale if he was partying. This is purely speculation and I am sure he may have drank more wine than beer. I wonder if it was kosher wine? I haven’t tasted too many good Kosher wines though. Maybe the stuff back then was better.

    What neat dialog that the Theology At the Taproom will generate! Interestingly enough, many of the Catholic priests in my town have not abandoned pub patronage. One of the most beloved priests (RIP, God bless) Father Silva used to be a regular at St. Stan’s, which used to be the restaurant-brewery in town. Interesting the divergences between Catholocism and Protestenism is that regard.

    OK I am rambling. Hope you have a great rest of week:)

  6. Posted October 4, 2006 at 7:24 pm | Permalink

    Mike :: Argh… just the sound of “teetotaler” and “SBC” makes me shake and convulse. ;-) I still get Baptist nightmare flashbacks of them telling me music with the snare hitting the second and fourth beats of the measure is killing my brain, killing corn, urging me to fornicate, and plunging me into the dark abyss of Satanism. As Brad Stine would say… if you’re playing a rock record backwards then perhaps you DESERVE to hear a message from Satan. :-)

    I enjoyed the Piper piece… thanks for posting it. And not just because it featured naked Germans lying around. I did smile to myself when I found that I could take his apology for the change in his church by-law and substitute in “eating dessert” for “drinking alcohol”… again, another idea I stole from Brad Stine (also of German origin but never publicly naked in Munich – I don’t think).

    Actually, I felt a little bad for John, because he had to grunt out such an eloquent and loquacious logic-progression for merely convincing his hard-liners to use “free thought” rather than “law” in their behavioral worship… that it seemed equivalent to a Nazi environmentalist calling for an end to Jewish ovens because Jews emitted hydrocarbons when immolated. The analogy may not be precise, but I’m still chuckling about it. :-)

    I know that there are parts of the world where alcohol in general is more of a stumbler… in fact you may be familiar with one of those cultures *wink* (and indeed while I was over there I was offered drink by strangers quite too often)… but that’s where the beautiful and wondrous BRAIN comes in. :-)

    Yes, I am sometimes mildly floored, and other times drasticly vexed, at the disregard for Biblical ideals in favor of late 1800′s ideals. Why do we always fall back on the laws of men… like we’ve learned nothing in 2000 years. Maybe I’ll ponder that one over an Oatmeal Stout. :-)

    Thanks for your perspectives. They make me think harder.

    Oooh… hey, I just read the discussion after the SBC resolution… there’s some good stuff in there.

    mahndisa :: Some great insights! Perhaps I could examine the effect of particle acceleration on the respiration of the yeast? :-) I might be able to use Lorentzian time dilation to keep the beer colder, longer. (okay, now I’m being silly)

    I agree with you about the brews… especially the dark one for pondering deep thoughts. Yes, it is decided… at the next Theology at the Taproom I shall have an Outmeal Stout.

    And yes, I used to work at a restaurant back in high school and I can remember seeing priests from our local Catholic university come and have a beer with their meal. I remember thinking to myself that they were so un-Christ-like for doing so… what a little punk fool I was. Not I’m a big punk fool, but that’s not the point here. :-)

    MMmmm…. Oatmeal Stout….

    According to the Association of Brewers, the world’s finest Oatmeal Stout is brewed in Troy , NY by Brown’s Brewing Company. Brown’s Oatmeal Stout took home a Gold Medal at the World Beer Cup held in San Diego, April 2004 – perhaps the most prestigious beer judging event in the world.
    Malts : Two row pale, black, chocolate, flaked rolled oats, caramel
    Hops : Willamette
    Alcohol : 5.5%

  7. Posted October 7, 2006 at 10:05 pm | Permalink

    I think you’ve made a valid point about Scripture and alcohol. All that aside, I have heard many a tale of nasty alcohol stories and the damage that alcoholism can do to people and families. Right, right, right, dessert does damage, too. But, I get the feeling that, unless you’ve lived it, one cannot really *get* what this drug can do.

    Someone very close to me had an alcholic mother (and no, it’s not me). This woman has told me countless stories of embarrasment, verbal abuse, psychological abuse, parentification, adultery, fetal alcohol syndrome, suicide, cancer, and divorce that all stemmed from her mother’s alcoholism. I could relate some of these grotesque stories, but I am not sure it’s appropriate for your website.

    I ran a therapy group for women who struggled with relationship addictions(and related issues) and one theme that kept coming up was alcohol. Many of these women “acted out” only when alcohol was in the picture. Their relationship addictions were held at bay until their inhibitions were dropped.

    I guess my point is that I see this from a therapeutic perspective and, although you’ve proven that drinking is permissible Scripturally, I have serious concerns about the whole issue. First Corinthians 6:12 says, “Just because something is technically legal doesn’t mean that it’s spiritually appropriate. If I went around doing whatever I thought I could get by with, I’d be a slave to my whims.” (The Message)

    I’m open to more discussion on it.

  8. Posted October 8, 2006 at 8:45 am | Permalink

    Tara :: All valid points. Their is a potential for abuse of alcohol (as there is for abuse of anything) to have terrible consequences. Perhaps it would be wiser for the leadership of some of these churches to illustrate “correct” non-abusive drinking rather than patently beseech their congregations to follow an abstentionist pattern of behavior (that Christ himself did not follow) so that they won’t have to deal with the abuse factor. Otherwise, we could argue that anything in our lives that is a temptation, or that could be abused, should be banned or shunned. Someone on a newsgroup discussion mentioned that sex was often abused and led to many of the things alcohol abuse led to.

    The bottom line would be that only “abuse” of alcohol leads to any of the things you mentioned… not alcohol itself. Unfortunately, the part about “abuse” often gets tossed out of the equation by abstentionist church leaders who resonate with the idea that drinking alcohol is less holy. Abuse of guns leads to some bad things (worse than alcohol, really), but it’s not the guns that are the problem, and using a gun responsibly is a Constitutional, time-honored tradition that shouldn’t be abstained from no matter how many stories of tragedy come out of gun-crime victim groups.

  9. Posted October 8, 2006 at 4:19 pm | Permalink

    Steve: Also all valid points re: abuse. However, in my experience, it seems like a lot of Christians who are pro-alcohol do not ever talk about moderation. They make jokes and talk about alcohol like it’s their friend. They bring it up in every conversation. That doesn’t seem like balance. It’s one thing if someone actually enjoys the taste. It seems like a totally different thing to enjoy what alcohol can do to a body: lowered inhibitions, feeling “loosened up,” etc., etc., etc.

    Alcohol is such a common vehicle for abuse, as is sex and food and other things mentioned on this page. That is why I feel it is important to have a healthy, educated, balanced relationship with any of these things. Any addiction is going to result in that list of stuff in my last post (dysfunction, disease, death, etc.). I have seen plenty of addiction (of all kinds) and I guess that’s why I think that mature Chrisitans should model the balance. I do not see that balance re: alcohol in some of the circles I run in right now, if you catch my drift.

    [Do not read that last statement as an attack on you... I think your thread here is beginning to model balance. :) I am talking about other circles.]

  10. Posted October 8, 2006 at 9:18 pm | Permalink

    I catch your drift. :-) Balance is the key…

  11. Posted October 12, 2006 at 8:51 am | Permalink

    I too am a man of faith and love a nice cold one from time-to-time. The key is to not lose site of God. If it takes you one beer to lose site of God, then don’t drink the one beer. If it takes your six beers to lose site of God, then drink 5.

    I am an amber ale fan…

    What would Jesus name his beer?

  12. Posted October 13, 2006 at 8:23 pm | Permalink

    Waraxe,

    A couple of comments:

    1) Your argument loses strength when you are so vehement and you engage in ad hominem attacks. Decent Christians can disagree without getting angry and you sound very angry. Also, please check out my blog on the reasons why I do not drink: http://proseworthy.blogspot.com/

    2) jessiecoates had a good point that cannot be ignored. Case in point. I lead a small Bible study group and we often have refreshments–e.g., donuts, pastries, etc. I noticed one of our members many times did not stick around when there were refreshments but did participate when there were none. So we had a talk. I found out that she has a physical disability which causes her to have no control over her food consumption. As a result she a has a very regimented diet and avoids situations where she can’t control her food intake. Hmmm….what should I do. Should I infringe on the liberties of everyone else in the Bible study by saying we no longer will be eating during the Bible study? Or, should I say “well it’s her tough luck. She should learn to control herself. Why should everyone else suffer for her?”

    Which option do you think I took? I took the first and it was right. None of us need the pastries and it is better for her to have the Bible study and fellowship. Which is more important, fellowship or my liberty to eat pastries? The apostle Paul said he would never eat meat again if it offended one of his brothers in Christ.

    Which is more important, the liberty to consume alcohol or fellowship with a brother and protecting him from falling?

    Just a thougtht.

  13. Posted October 13, 2006 at 11:17 pm | Permalink

    Yeah, I am a little angry. I get angry at false teachings… and doubly so at ones attempted to be pushed into my brain at a young age. Sorta like jihadists do to their little varmints. Although I reread my post and didn’t find any ad hominem attacks… but there were a few broodus viperus attacks and a couple backsidem boot insertus attacks, but those I’m cool with.

    And don’t lose sight of what I condemn… and that is the calling of a sin what is clearly not by Christ’s own example. What bugs me is when people who aren’t comfortable with this part of Christ simply re-write or twist scripture to mold a more palatable Jesus that fits into their church’s ideology. That is heresy.

    Plainly, many in the Protestant church are teaching false doctrines of Christ’s character to conform with their own comforts. Drinking is no more a sin than eating or bathing or working. It’s only the “abuse” of such that becomes a sin. Actually, I like the way Mark put it above when he said the key is to not lose sight of God.

    Now we can argue about what causing someone to “stumble” is. That woman with no control… how does she exist? She must eat sometime, right? Whatever clever method she uses to eat, why not use that method for your refreshment time? If she can’t control her food intake why don’t you give her a set portion and then when everyone takes their portion you sit down in a different room from the food?

    And seriously… think about the crazy implications here. What if she was among the five thousand that needed to be fed… what the heck is Christ going to do? And I suppose the church should stop having potluck dinners, right… after all, it’s better to have fellowship with the entire church, including her, than to enjoy a delicious turkey dinner with gravy-soaked stuffing and hot mashed potatos without her. And holy smokes… what if she was at the last supper… she would have screwed the whole thing up!

    The Bible is full of references to Christ’s people enjoying food, and often feasts, together in fellowship. Do we reduce our fellowship to the lowest common denominators? I don’t think so. However, I do think that your particular decision with the Bible study was right… but to use it as a blanket warning against doing anything that might offend anybody is just downright politically liberal of you. ;-) There were brothers in Christ who were offended by Gentiles not being circumcised… do they follow Paul’s teaching and lop it off even though they were told they didn’t have to by other brothers in Christ? According to your illustration they should as to not offend… but this is another instance where the logic fails. And again, we’re not called to avoid offense. And btw, I couldn’t tell you how many Sunday mornings I have personally witnessed people “offended” by certain styles of worship they don’t approve of… but what would appear to be counter to Paul’s teaching was also completely within God’s will for the church.

    How does this reconcile with Paul’s teaching? Balance. Because there will never be a church where something won’t offend somebody somehow no matter which course of action you take, or even taking no action. Balance. And again… calling the use of alcohol, rather than the abuse of it, a sin is most definitely NOT balance. An entire church abstaining from any fellowship involving food is NOT balance. So… a line must be drawn somewhere… this is the “balance” part.

  14. Posted October 14, 2006 at 12:03 am | Permalink

    This is a great thread. Whenever I hear or read about the subject of Christians and alcohol consumption the first cry is usually for balance, and that is good. However, it seems like a lot of us get nervous at the mere suggestion that we, as Christ-followers, have any freedom at all to consume alcohol. That cry for balance itself may be imbalanced – if it is rooted in an unsure understanding of our true liberty as believers. But I agree that balance is always needed.

    I think the facts that you brought out in this post is excellent, especially these two:

    1. The call for teetotalling (sp) among Christians is a recent (mid-to-late 1800’s), culturally rooted phenomenon (although I am not so certain that it has its roots in feminism). This is important because we need to make the distinction between what is merely traditional and what has its roots in the teachings of the NT. Mandatory prohibition, I believe, derives completely from the former. Christ certainly drank alcoholic wine (and the current debate among pastors on whether his wine was alcoholic is completely unscholarly), and he even made it. The NT teaches only against its abuse and addition to alcohol.

    2. That we need to make a distinction between enjoying something and abusing something. We cannot decry something as bad because it is possible to abuse it. This deflects responsibility from the abuser.

    I have given this much thought because I live in a land where alcoholism is one of the leading causes of death, divorce and homelessness among men, and where people consume more alcohol per capita than in any other nation on earth. I have several close family members on my wife’s side who are outright alcoholics, some who frequently binge for literally weeks on end. I understand the issues.

    Balance, yes. Caution – absolutely. But let us not fight the vices of men with mere extra-biblical rules that are powerless to really help the situation. Legalism is a far-more dangerous abuse (of truth) that alcoholism is (of alcohol). And its end is far worse too.

  15. Posted October 14, 2006 at 7:39 pm | Permalink

    WarAxe et. al.

    It seems to me that some squishy words are being used. One term I picked up on in your previous post is “offend”. By offend I do not mean making someone upset, twisting their nose, hurting their pride or annoying someone. I do not think Paul used this connotation in the NT when he spoke of offending a brother.

    By offend, I think the apostle Paul meant “to cause to stumble into actual sin.” Just because someone does not like your freedom to down a few beers is not an offense. Your downing a few beers in front of a young believer who also happens to be a recovering alcholic could be an offense.

    I use the term offense strictly and I use narrowly defined examples. In the privacy of your home or with a group of friends who do not have alcohol as a stumbling block is not a problem. My example of the person in my Bible study group is defined only in the context of that setting. When I am with members of the Bible study group and she is not among them, I will freely partake of a pastry. However, in her presence, in deference to her situation I will refrain.

    As I stated previously, we cannot let material things or even our freedoms override our relationships with people.

    I am a little taken aback that this is such a big issue–the consumption of alcohol. I guess I just have not been paying much attention to the issue or it has recently mushroomed into something much larger.

    The issue for me was decided years ago for several reasons which I have posted on my blog at http://proseworthy.blogspot.com/. Alot of it had to do with my own inability to wisely consume alcoholic beverages, my families past and my sons’ futures.

  16. BlueDrew
    Posted March 1, 2007 at 3:31 pm | Permalink

    Thank U,.. as a fellow “child of God” I also want to reclaim the gift God gave us to partake of alcohol. Yes, it’s also true which others have noted about the seriousness of alcohol abuse. Yet, this is the point. We Christians must take back control of the “normal” use of alcohol and learn what it takes to enjoy moderated consumption of the brew. Just as the Church as finally taken back that Sex is a good thang,.. but under the control of Christian values!! Yet, once those controls are met,… yEaH BabY!! So, again, my point is, we Christians and the Church as a whole gave up the controls of enjoying drink to the secular community at large. It’s time we took the controls and definitions of moderation back where it started, God’s gift! Yes, it will take a long time to Discern what is good for you may not be good for a weaker Bro’ –But it is our Christian responsibilty to Learn (moderation) and Know (to each tolerance level) the difference. Amen!?

  17. Posted March 1, 2007 at 9:30 pm | Permalink

    Amen to that, bro. Wow, it sounds like you’ve got a lot of energy. :-)

  18. angie
    Posted May 15, 2007 at 9:18 am | Permalink

    AMEN!
    AMEN!
    AMEN!
    AMEN!

  19. Posted September 28, 2010 at 11:23 am | Permalink

    Awesome post man, I’m also I Christian that enjoys beer! Good luck with your brewing and let us know how it goes!

  20. Posted October 26, 2012 at 5:31 pm | Permalink

    Nice post. I used to be checking out continually this website and I’m satisfied! Extremely helpful info particularly the last aspect: ) I actually look after these kinds of info a great deal. I was trying to find this particular selected information for a while. Thanks along with all the best.

  21. Posted October 27, 2012 at 10:55 am | Permalink

    Hi, well the discussion about home brewing beer is lively. I agree with some of the points, beer is great, and also that people need to be restrained from drinking too much. I have seen the damage alcohol does in families as I am sure you all have.

  22. Posted May 4, 2014 at 11:30 pm | Permalink

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