The Gospel According to St. Arnold–Part 3

What Would Jesus Brew?


Welcome to an essential brewvana series. Discussing The Role of Beer in a Christian Life OR The Role of Christianity in a Beery Life, “The Gospel According to St. Arnold” will be a Wednesday feature here at brewvana for the next few weeks.

If you missed the Preface, you can find it here.

If you missed Part 1–I smell a Pharisee, you can find it here.

If you missed Part 2–St. Arnold, Beer and Church Connections, you can find it here.

What Would Jesus Brew?What would He brew? Well, we know he made wine. But to quote a popular bumper sticker to sort out our Christian beer dilemma: “What Would Jesus Do?” Borrowing guidance again (as we did in Part 1) from Daniel Whitfield’s, “Alcohol and the Bible,” let’s take a look.

Several of the Bible’s scriptures regarding wine involve Jesus himself. If Jesus is never to have sinned, we must drop the notion that drinking wine is a sin. Dispute over. He drank wine.

But prohibitionists are a determined lot.

“No, no, no,” some charge. It wasn’t really wine. If it was, then, grape juice, it seems a little odd that the Bible would contain warnings against drunkenness and the abuse of wine.

Those that admit the Bible’s wine to be alcoholic, but not to the level of today’s wine overlook the 20 references to people in the Bible getting drunk. Whatever the ABV, inebriation was an inherent possibility given the level of sugars with which God blessed the grape. Let’s call a spade a spade. Jesus drank alcoholic wine. Christians, then, shouldn’t consider imbibing a sin.

Not only do we have record that Jesus drank wine (sinlessly), scripture also states that He made the stuff–miraculously–at the wedding at Cana (John 2:1-11). (This is the part about Jesus that non-believers and beer drinkers particularly enjoy. Why Christians wouldn’t use this to witness, I’ll never know.) As the story goes, the celebration flowed so freely that the wine supply was nearly gone, something that would have meant intense embarrassment to the host. Further, it seemed unlikely that the guests would notice the difference between good wine and something boxed.

Mary asked Jesus to address the problem, and He obliged–with somewhere between 120 and 180 gallons. Call me a broken record, but it seems odd for a Christian prohibitionist’s (CP) argument to be taken seriously when this example of behavior of the faith’s cornerstone is recorded in scripture.

In further Biblical references to Jesus and wine, we learn that the Pharisees accused him of being a drunkard in an effort to discredit him–because he ate and drank openly (Luke 7:33). Three of the four Gospels record that Jesus “took the cup” to establish communion during the Lord’s Supper. As this was the Passover, Whitfield asserts that the cup would have contained wine.beery prayer

Our friends the Pharisees saw fault in Jesus’ tendency to hang around sinners. What did Jesus say? “Those who are well have no need of a physician, but those who are sick. Go and learn what this means, ‘I desire mercy, and not sacrifice.’ For I came not to call the righteous, but sinners.” (Matthew 9: 12-13)

While CPs frequently use the Bible to advance their arguments and preferences on others, it is clear that a comprehensive look at the Bible’s references to wine and strong drink (including those associated with Christ Himself) render these arguments cavalier and foolhardy.

These same opponents to the inclusion of alcohol in a responsible livelihood occasionally argue that modern-day drinking is far more prevalent and far more deadly. While I’d hasten to agree that driving a car while intoxicated runs a greater risk of death and extensive property damage than riding a mule or piloting a chariot, this concern is a cultural one, not a spiritual or moral one. Sin is a moral issue.

Conservative Christians have avoided striking moral issues from the Bible (adultery, for example), but against the Bible’s wishes, these same groups seek to add alcohol to the list of sins–despite the fact that it didn’t even make the Top Ten (the Ten Commandments from the Old Testament) or the Top Seven (Seven Deadly Sins from the New Testament).

Total abstinence won’t work, won’t help and won’t happen. Total education, starting in the home, stands to contribute an unfathomable benefit to this societal issue.

What would Jesus brew? Something deep and complex. And something that ages well. What would Jesus do? I think He would drink a beer. And I think he would speak kindly to those that drink beer. But in order to find a good answer to this question, we may need to delve into sex and money.


Coming Wednesday, December 26: Part 4 –Solving Christians’ Drinking Problems with Sex and Money


11 Responses to The Gospel According to St. Arnold–Part 3

  1. Jesse says:

    I love it that the wine that Jesus makes is clearly noted to be good wine. John, and the whole crew, recognized that some wine was better than others. I wonder how they rated it 🙂

    What would Jesus brew? Hell, I’m sure it’d better than anything we’ve had yet. Unless he’s over there helping out at Westy, in which case the answer would be: Westy 12

  2. Dave says:

    When we were in Germany a few years ago taking a jaunt down a river, the guide pointed out a small church with a pub attached. Seems the parrishoners would like to leave church and have a brew or two with their brothers and sisters. I’ll have to take another look at that picture to see if it was an Episcoplian church?

    About the Westy 12. I am saving my next one to enjoy on Christmas Day from my Westy glass. Sometimes the whole occasion just makes the beer taste that much better. (And thanks to my daughter for making the trek and bringing me back a few from her time in the Netherlands.)

  3. Tom from Raleigh says:

    What would JC brew? If he’s like most new homebrewers, he’d probably brew a pale ale or a dry stout along the lines of Guiness.

  4. Wilson,

    Thought I’d pass along what I wrote in regard to your series, and Jay’s recent comments, this afternoon –

    Again, terrific work!

  5. Seth says:

    Cool. I just came across this. It’s good to see others thinking about stuff like this. I think a lot of Christians’ negative attitudes about alcohol comes from mis-information and bad experiences. My dad is a tee-totaler because he was exposed to a lot of really bad alcohol-related situations growing up (i.e., drunken beatings). My mom has just flat out never been exposed to much alcohol, so she’s one of these people that almost believes you really can get drunk off of one drink! I’ve tried to talk to them about it some, but I don’t even really think it’s my place to try to sway them. They basically say “we think it’s best not to drink.” I can respect their position and they can respect mine. I don’t like it when people try to prove their position against alcohol biblically (i.e., “the Bible says you aren’t supposed to drink”), but if they say, “this is the way I prefer to deal with drinking” then that’s 100% cool with me.

    I especially see my peers (the 21-30 crowd) with a more balanced view toward it. There’s still a little bit of a stigma attached I think, but I frequently discuss religion, etc with friends at the local pub or at home over a beer. It’s pretty much a non-issue with most of my Christian friends my age.

    Thanks for the postings! I look forward to the next one!

  6. popthecap says:

    Wilson, this is a great series. I know it takes time to research, write, and reflect upon. Though many people are thinking about these issues, few take it upon themselves to address faith and alcohol as thoroughly and publicly as you have. Thank you for that.

    I am increasingly comfortable with my public role of Christian beer drinker. I rather enjoy it, and I bet lots of y’all do too.

    Those of us commenting on Brewvana may be able open the eyes of some agnostics and atheists to a contingent of beer lovers they might not have known existed. That’d be cool, simply because I get tired of the smug tone of some beer drinkers as they dismiss any talk of religion and faith (mostly online conversations, natch). Granted, “we” often bring this on ourselves via the far-too-visible-for-their-size teetotaler contingent, though I doubt any of us are in that camp.

    More importantly and more likely, each of us will likely have a major impact on how fellow Christians view alcohol. Too often, beer is vilified yet wine remains the beverage of the erudite and well-to-doo.

    For many years, my father-in-law used to allow wine in his home but not beer. This Thanksgiving at our house, instead of wine we drank Ommegang Abbey Ale. As I filled his glass, I told him something that I’ve been hiding from him for months: that I’m planning to open up a brewery next year. It took 15 years — not for me to plan the brewery (though some days it feels that way) — but 15 years for me to feel comfortable enough to have this level of disclosure, honesty, and transparency with this man I call Dad.

  7. popthecap says:

    “Well-to-doo? ”

    Arrgh. Time for a beer.

  8. Dave says:

    I’m enjoying the discussion. I grew up in the “drinking is a sin” culture and was OK with that then…didn’t really buy into it, mainly didn’t know better and didn’t care. My Dad was a school principal and I think he just didn’t want to offend anyone in the school…though he would still have the occasional drink at home. That gradually changed. I had my first beer in grad school; had a beer tasting there with a bunch of social psych doctorate students — blind tasting, statistical analysis, and the works — which got me thinking more seriously about beer. Began trying “different” beers. Then my brother and wife got me into homebrewing and I just keep going and going. Christianity, family, staying fit, beer, and brewing are all a part of my life. Folks who know me pretty much know that. I enjoy the paradoxes that seems to evoke in many. Like Popthecap says, “Christian Beer Drinker”…I can go with that.

  9. Wilson says:

    PTC: “Those of us commenting on Brewvana may be able open the eyes of some agnostics and atheists to a contingent of beer lovers they might not have known existed. That’d be cool, simply because I get tired of the smug tone of some beer drinkers as they dismiss any talk of religion and faith (mostly online conversations, natch).”

    My original intent was to de-lame-ify the thinking of Christians on the topic, but this is both possible and good, too.

  10. Jonathan says:

    I’m pretty sure that Jesus brews Samichlaus. In honor of Santa’s birth or something… But seriously, great series. As a Christian beer lover and brewer I’m enjoying the treatment immensely.

  11. […] If you missed Part 3–What Would Jesus Brew?, you can find it here. […]

Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in: Logo

You are commenting using your account. Log Out /  Change )

Google+ photo

You are commenting using your Google+ account. Log Out /  Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )


Connecting to %s

%d bloggers like this: