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A history of Christians and alcohol

Interesting post over at Still Searching… here is a list of some historical things that have to do with the church and alcohol, taken from the new book Gray Matters…

  • 27–28 AD: Jesus performs his first miracle: turning 120- 180 gallons of water into wine at a wedding banquet in Cana (see John 2:1-11).
  • 30–31 AD: Jesus says of wine, “This cup is the new covenant in my blood, which is poured out for you” (Luke 22:20).
  • Second Century: St. Clement of Alexandria publishes Pedagogia, which included the first scholarly treatment of the subject of Christians and alcohol.
  • Fifth Century: St. Brigid of Ireland reportedly changes her dirty bathwater into beer so that visiting clerics would have something to drink.
  • Twelfth Century: Benedictine nun Hildegard von Bingen discovers hops in beer.
  • 1620: Ship carrying John Winthrop to Massachusetts Bay Colony also carries more than 10,000 gallons of wine and three times as much beer as water.
  • 1670: Hard cider a staple at ministerial ordinations in apple-rich New England
  • 1673: Increase Mather publishes Wo to Drunkards, in which he says, “Drink is in itself a good creature of God, and to be received with thankfulness, but the abuse of drink is from Satan, the wine is from God, but the Drunkard is from the Devil.”
  • 1736: The ill effects of gin in England lead Anglican clergyman Thomas Wilson to publish Distilled Spirituous Liquors the Bane of the Nation.
  • 1759: Arthur Guinness opens his brewery in Dublin; eventually uses money from its success to fund Christian charities, hospitals, and Sunday School programs.
  • 1770s–80s: Spanish Catholics plant first vineyards in California at missions up and down the coast.
  • 1805: America’s first temperance sermon, “The Fatal Effects of Ardent Spirits” is delivered by Rev. Ebenezer Porter in Washington, CT.
  • 1826: Revivalist pastor Lyman Beecher publishes Six Sermons on the Nature, Occasion, Signs, Evils, and Remedy of Intemperance, condemning liquor for “the moral ruin it works in the soul.”
  • 1840: The Washingtonian Movement, one of America’s first anti-alcohol organizations, is formed.
  • 1869: Methodist pastor Thomas Welch invents a method of pasteurizing grape juice so that it isn’t fermented. He persuades local churches to adopt this non-alcoholic “wine” for communion services, calling it “Dr. Welch’s Unfermented Wine.”
  • 1873–74: “Mother” Eliza Thompson—a devout Methodist—leads “crusade” of women protesting American drinking establishments.
  • 1874: The Woman’s Christian Temperance Union (WCTU) is formed.
  • 1893: Ohio pastor Howard Hyde Russell establishes Anti-Saloon League, a nationwide pressure group aimed at ridding the country of alcohol.
  • 1899: Carrie Nation attacks saloons with hatchets and sledgehammers and becomes an icon of female-led temperance movement.
  • January 17, 1920: Eighteenth Amendment goes into effect in America; Billy Sunday holds symbolic funeral service for “John Barleycorn.”
  • 1933: Twenty-first Amendment ends Prohibition.
  • 1933–1949: “The Inklings” convenes Christian luminaries like C. S. Lewis, J. R. R. Tolkien and Charles Williams at the Eagle and Child pub in Oxford for beer-aided literary discussions.
  • 1935: Christians “Bill W.” and “Dr. Bob” found Alcoholics Anonymous.
  • 1980: Televangelist Jack Van Impe publishes Alcohol: The Beloved Enemy.
  • 2000s: First “bar churches” begin popping up.
  • 2003: Wheaton College changes rules to allow faculty, staff and graduate students to drink alcohol in private, when not around undergrads.
  • 2009: Bestselling author Stephen Mansfield publishes, The Search for God and Guinness: A Biography of the Beer that Changed the World.
  • August 9, 2011: In blog post, evangelical pastor/author John MacArthur chastises the “Young, Restless, Reformed” community for their reckless approach to alcohol.

Read more here…

Interesting, isn’t it?  Anything you’ve learned from this list?

What stands out to you?

Todd



4 Responses to “ “A history of Christians and alcohol”

  1. Chris Shaffer says:

    Very interesting – I have always wondered about the progression regarding alcohol and people of faith. A couple things caught my attention: the information pertaining to “The Inklings” convenes Christian luminaries like C. S. Lewis, J. R. R. Tolkien and Charles Williams at the Eagle and Child pub in Oxford for beer-aided literary discussions.” and the first “bar churches” begin popping up in 2000. Seems like I remember something posted a while back about a pastor who got approval to do a Bible study in a bar and then was fired because he had a beer while at the study.

  2. Chris Shaffer says:

    I also remember being surprised as a young pastor, while attending a state ministers meeting, by a group of seasoned pastors that were talking about partaking of alcoholic beverages while away from their local community as long as it was 50 miles or more in distance – they called it the “50 mile rule.”

    Personally, I don’t believe that the Scriptures prohibit the consumption of alcoholic beverages but does stress responsible moderation and control. The following outtake from an article from the Chalcedon Foundation seems to convey how many Christians look at alcohol consumption:

    When all is said and done, we must distinguish the use of wine from its abuse. Sometimes in Scripture gluttonous partaking of food is paralleled with immoderate drinking of wine (Deut. 21:20 ; Prov. 23:21). But food is not universally prohibited! Sometimes in Scripture sexual perversion is paralleled with drunkenness (Rom. 13:13 ; 1 Pet. 4:3). But all sexual activity is not condemned! Wealth often becomes a snare to the sinner (1 Tim. 6:9–11), but the Scripture does not universally decry its acquisition (Job 42:10–17)! Each of these factors in life is intended by God to be a blessing for man, when used according to His righteous Law.
    It would seem abundantly clear, then, that the Scriptures do allow the moderate partaking of alcoholic beverages. There is no hesitancy in Scripture in commending wine, or embarrassment in portraying its consumption among the righteous of Biblical days. Wine is set before the saints as blessing and gladness (Deut. 14:26; Ps. 104:14–15), even though it may be to the immoderate and wicked a mocker and curse (Prov. 20:1; 23:29–35).

    What I would really like to know is two things: (1) how many of those holding positions in a church or religious organization consume some type of alcoholic product on a regular basis? (2) How many of those, who hold a position in a church or religious organization and drink alcoholic beverages on a regular basis, would admit it if asked?

  3. This article makes me thirsty.

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