Letters from Theophilus

" A Blog About Practical Theology. "

6.02.2009

Winebibber

Dear Reader,

Here's a great quote to get us on our way:
"A good local pub has much in common with a church, except that a pub is warmer, and there's more conversation."
-William Blake
Alcoholism is a sin. Period. The Bible is pretty clear on that point. We lose control. We become addicted. Something besides Christ becomes ruler in our lives. The Scriptures are plain in this.

Drunkenness is a sin. Period. The Bible is pretty clear on that point. We lose control. We say & do things we would not otherwise. Something besides Christ becomes ruler in our lives. The Scriptures are plain in this.

Alcoholism & Drunkenness are abuses of a substance.

Watching Porn on computers & DVD’s is abuse of a media.

This results in some preachers preaching against DVD’s & computers. They demonize neutral media because it is capable of being abused by people who struggle in such areas.

The same line of thinking is used with alcohol.

Touching the fruit on the tree becomes the sin instead of simply eating it. This is looked at, by some, as a wise approach. However, the result we see in this Creation Poem is that it doesn’t help. The Law stirs up the appetite for sin. Forbidden fruits create many jams.

I have a computer.

I have a DVD player.

I drink alcohol.

(*Disclaimer. Yes. I threw that in for shock value. I also know that your senses immediately got heightened. If you agree with me on this issue, you immediately got excited… “Finally, someone has said it!” If you disagree with me on the topic, you probably immediately felt a tinge of horror and disappointment and you quickly put on your glasses of preconception. You’ll now probably attempt to filter everything I say through your firmly secured set of beliefs. I want to invite both kinds of readers to step outside their emotional subjectivism and presuppositions and momentarily sit down for the ride. I promise I’m not trying to get you to drink a beer with me, but I want you to see through my eyes for a moment.)

I agree with drawing lines for one’s self where there is a loss of control or a developed weakness.

I believe personal convictions should be pursued with all deliberation & diligence.

That aside…

I also believe the Holy Spirit desires for us to grow in our faith.
I believe salvation is not just for the afterlife, but also within this life now.
I believe the goal of mission is ‘to be in the world but not of the world’‘to be not overcome with evil, but to overcome evil with good.’ To learn to live a life tempered with the Spirit. By the Spirit’s help, to walk in a sanctified life where moderation rules our passion and grace & mercy replace judgment. To integrate our beliefs with our actions (where our Orthodoxy begets our Orthopraxy).

When did we begin to diminish the redeeming power of the blood of Christ applied to our lives? When did it stop healing and delivering?
Why do we feel the need, as leaders, to draw general lines for people that neither the Bible, nor the Holy Spirit in their lives is drawing?

I’m ranting. That happens when I'm passionate about something.

"No animal ever invented anything as bad as drunkenness - or as good as drink."
-G.K. Chesterton

I met some Pentecostal friends in New Zealand that described beer with culinary flare, using adjectives like "nutty," “rich,” & “full-bodied”…etc. They loved the different flavors & nuances of beer, like a barista loves the characteristics & personalities of different coffees. I soon realized this was not merely a localized phenomenon. Christians from all over the Western World (France, England, Australia…etc.) who were devoted to sanctification, loved indulging in a good beer.

Retracing our steps throughout history, many of my favorite Christians drank beer & preached adamantly against drunkenness. CS Lewis, Dietrich Bonhoeffer, GK Chesterton, John Calvin, Martin Luther…You Name It!

Where did this anti-alcohol movement begin?

It seems that Billy Sunday, following the trend of the Holiness Movement, began to demonize it through his powerful preaching. America would never be the same.

While many thoroughly devoted Christians all around the world have learned Christian maturity through moderation, many of us here in America have drawn thick lines in the sand… In fact it seems like the lines evolved into walls and eventually into castles, surrounded by moats with machine guns lining the upper walls, waiting to obliterate anyone who would dare step foot near this ideal. When it comes to this issue, you’ll scarcely find a “Come let us reason together” mentality.

"Whoever drinks beer, he is quick to sleep; whoever sleeps long, does not sin; whoever does not sin, enters Heaven! Thus, let us drink beer!"
–Martin Luther

The trend of making inanimate objects into Satan continues today. I’ve witnessed people preaching against VCR’s, Perrier Water, & Red Handkerchiefs. I have witnessed people relegating holiness to every aspect of appearance from hairnets to tassels on the shoes. While these examples seem extreme & ludicrous to most of us, the same logic is employed in the anti-alcohol arguments.

I often am troubled by the parallels between our American church and the devout religious leaders of Jesus’ day.

I remember a famous Christian once saying that if Jesus returned to our world today, it would be the Christians who would crucify him…

I wonder if he was on to something.

It feels like, at times, we are so locked into our ways that we have forgotten how to open our eyes to The Way… and The Truth and The Life.
We are so focused one the noise of our Christian sub-culture…the blazing fire of our traditions, the howling winds of our peers’ voices, the earthshaking racket in our own heads, that we can’t focus in on God’s still small voice, calling us to forsake everything and follow him.

“Beer is proof that God loves us and wants us to be happy.”
-Benjamin Franklin

I will not take the time to perform a polemic for the use of Alcohol with moderation here, complete with chapter & verse. That’s been done countless times. If you want to read something along those lines, here’s a great place to start:

http://www.bible.org/page.php?page_id=988

But, my concern is primarily the legalistic idea behind it all. Here’s a few questions:

What does the Bible really say?
Do our presuppositions blind us?
Are we truly open to God’s truth?
Even when it clashes with our traditions?
Are we reading our own questions back into the text?
Why do we defend this point so strongly?
What is our motivation (pro or con)?
Faith or fear?
God’s gospel or our own traditions?
Who are we trying to appeal to?
Are we following God’s voice or man’s?

Ok, One last quote…

"Whenever the devil pesters you, at once seek out the company of friends, drink more, joke and jest, or engage in some form of merriment."
– Martin Luther

In His Grip,
Theophilus

4 comments:

powaypastor said...

If this is the start of your blogging career then you have a brilliant future. Thank you for your extremely thought provoking post.

Theophilus said...

Thanks for the kind words. We'll try to keep it coming.

Alina said...

I stumbled across this - nice work. We would do well to remember what it says in Colossians about not making up painful rules for ourselves but instead focusing on the things of Christ. I wonder why humans are so afraid of freedom!

Vince Larson said...

I agree with Alina... why do we tend to drive ourselves to a law? The only law we are supposed to follow is the Law of Christ, right?...

What does that mean to you guys: The Law of Christ?

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