Are You There, Vodka? It’s Me, Jesus (Part 1)

In the spring of 1521, Martin Luther stood trial before the Holy Roman emperor and the Diet of Worms (not to be confused with the act of feasting on a diet of worms).

He was charged with heresy and not aligning with the “truth” taught under the authority of the Roman Catholic Church.

Luther was, however, not under the belief that he was accountable to the church and the church alone.  He was accountable first to the truth recorded in scripture and secondly to the authority placed before him within the church. This belief cost him dearly in life but ultimately changed the world.

I can imagine this presented and enormous crisis of conscience for Luther for, as he stood trial, he was bound by his conscience and the teachings of the Word of God—teachings which didn’t align with that of the church.

It’s not an easy thought process through which one must work when one’s reading of the scriptures contradicts the way one has been brought up.

I grew up believing alcohol was a sin. I remember speaking with a friend with whom I went to high school and being in utter disbelief that this friend’s pastor would openly talk about having a beer after coming in from mowing the lawn.  I could not believe that a supposed “man of God” would commit such a despicable act…and do it regularly at that.

To picture such a loathsome substance touching the lips of a man on a Saturday who, with those same lips, would proclaim the Gospel of Christ on Sunday, I found to be an irreconcilable contradiction of ideas.

I remember being in youth group and when asked, justifying the abstinence of alcohol by stating that Jesus stated that He wouldn’t drink of the fruit of the vine until the Marriage Supper of the Lamb, so neither should we (Matt 26:29).

I then remember several months later watching my sister boldly take an opposing stance in the same type of forum and receiving a good verbal lashing from the leadership in the youth group in front of 250 or so onlookers (she soon began attending a different church).

I recall hearing that any time in scripture where wine or beer was mentioned in a positive context it was either non-alcoholic or contained so little alcohol that it was permissible. I remember hearing a youth pastor placing his stamp of ex-cathedra upon this statement by supporting his argument with his dad’s personal research on the subject.

I distinctly remember specific instances where I would judge people when I would see alcohol in their hand…of course my level of judgment was directly proportional to the perceived alcoholic content contained within the beverage. Wine and beer obviously weren’t quite as devilish as bad as tequila…the worst obviously being whisky and vodka.

But something happened to me in college. I began to take a less subjective look at the Bible. Questions began to form in my mind:

If alcohol was evil, why did Jesus make it at the wedding in Cana?

If wine in the Bible wasn’t alcoholic, why did Paul tell Timothy to take some for medicinal purposes?

At which point in the fermentation process does demonic influence occur?  Where in the Bible does it say fermented grapes are less demonic than hops or barley?

The questions were irreconcilable. Jesus, in fact, did make wine in Cana. Even more, it was his pilot miracle—the very thing which launched his ministry. Not only did he make wine, but according to scripture, he made good wine. The description of the wine being good generally lends to the quality of the fermentation process (as one doesn’t generally hear onlookers at a wedding making snide remarks about the quality of a grape juice).

Couple that with the fact that Paul did tell Timothy to take wine for his stomach, not grape juice and the fact that scripture is entirely silent on the point at which a fermented drink becomes demonic, and I could not help but wonder what scripture really was saying.

So, disregarding upbringings, the sincerely held beliefs of those with whom we grew up, the stance of the denomination of which we may be apart…

…standing solely upon the evidence provided in scripture alone (which should be the ultimate authority in guiding our beliefs in life)…

…what is it we should believe? What does God have to say about the bubbly?

Not only this, but if Jesus had been born to the people of the north (Nordics, Russians, etc.) would he have turned water into the allegedly filthy substance of vodka? Had he been born in the wild wild west, would he have conjured up some whisky? Had he been Irish, would he have turned water into an enormous vat of Guinness.

Luther has forever been immortalized throughout the pages of history as a pastor who stood against the mainstream and widely-held view of his church in exchange for upholding the integrity and authority of scripture alone. He addressed issues within the church which was in contradiction to the teachings of the scriptures.  And though, I am certainly not even close to holding a candle to Martin Luther (as I am not nearly as scholarly and speak very little German), I desire for the Are you there, Vodka?  It’s me, Jesus series to be a “95 Theses” of sorts. Though, certainly not nearly as well written, I’m sure, it will serve to be a revolutionary compilation on the theology of alcohol packaged down into nice little chicken nuggets of literary goodness. Hopefully forever giving some clarity on the subject.

Are you there, Vodka?  It’s me, Jesus will be a series of articles on TheoMag in the upcoming weeks addressing the biblical errancy of a view upholding the total abstinence from alcohol. I would encourage you, dear TheoMag reader, if something is said that ticks you off, don’t shut the computer and walk away cussing under your breath. Think, open the scriptures with me, research the sources I give and judge for yourself based off of nothing else except scripture if what will be in this series of articles is truth.  And if you have a thought, share it! Invite your friends to share as well. This will prove to be a theological tour de force.

 

Todd Korpi (@toddkorpi) and his wife Tara planted and pastor The Cathedral, a life-giving church in Flint, Michigan. Todd and Tara live in downtown Flint with their three daughters and a golden retriever named Karl Barth. Todd has a passion for helping urban church planters, particularly in the rust belt of the northern United States. He has a B.S. in Church Ministries from Evangel University and is currently finishing a M.A. in Global Leadership at Fuller Theological Seminary. His debut book, "The Life Giving Spirit: The Victory of Christ in Missional Perspective" is scheduled to be released in March 2017. Find out more about Todd and The Cathedral at www.thecathedral.is

57 Comments

  • Reply February 20, 2012

    Chris Davis

    Good intro. Looking forward to the series.

  • Reply February 20, 2012

    Dan Nettleton

    Korpi,

    I am excited to examine your 95 Theses on said subject. I want to make comment on my own personal position on this but will refrain in order to more deeply enjoy your treatise(s?).

    Suffice to say the thought of Jesus turning water into a vat of Guiness…..mmmmmm.

  • Reply February 20, 2012

    Apollojetick

    Beautiful, let the Oinos debate begin. Just kidding. Todd, again, I am left with the distinct feeling that you and I didn't get know know each other well enough. I am in full agreement with this. Should the "tap" hit the fan in response to this, I'll be right behind you.

  • Reply February 20, 2012

    Dusty Kat

    Great post Todd. I am excited for the series.

    Leo McGarry: You have an interesting conversational style, do you know that?

    Ainsley Hayes: It's a nervous condition.

    Leo McGarry: I used to have a nervous condition.

    Ainsley Hayes: How did yours manifest itself?

    Leo McGarry: I drank a lot of scotch.

    Ainsley Hayes: I get sick when I drink too much.

    Leo McGarry: I get drunk when I drink too much.

    • Reply February 21, 2012

      Korpi Diem

      hahaha, Oh Leo.

  • Reply February 20, 2012

    Greta Cornish

    Excellent. Australia has a heavy drinking culture (thanks, British ancestors!), so there is an interesting tension that occurs within the lives of Christians (especially when BBQs are organised for young adults – do we state 'BYO' or forbd a sneaky beer?). To not drink is in many ways considered 'unAustralian' – and to partake in a moderate beverage with one's neighbour in many cases speaks volumes more than a three point gospel talk.

    I had a conversation about this with one of my lecturers and he noted the dynamics of cultural thickness in regards to drinking – particularly with something like the 'thick' Italian culture, where food and wine have for centuries been social bonding agents. To prohibit drinking in a culture like this for the sake of the Gospel actually does the Gospel more harm, due to the perceived cultural role of alcohol as something that people partake in together in forming genuine community! Perhaps it is only in a 'thin' malleable culture, such as ours, that the question of alcohol becomes problematic…?

  • Reply February 20, 2012

    Josiah

    Great intro. I'm looking forward to the conclusions that come from the discussion.

  • Reply February 20, 2012

    Renee Shaull

    As a third generation Irish, Catholic alcoholic, I'm up for the on-going debate. Although, I no longer think you can "lose your salvation" over drinking alcohol, I can assure you that you can lose a lot. Unlike you, I was raised in a drinking family and, at age 18, lost my father to the effects of "a lifetime of drinking". It would take a book to tell of all the heartache I went through as a child due to drinking (and that was in a Church-going family). My own experiences with alcohol for the next 10 years rivaled my father's and culminated in my going to jail for drunk-driving at age 28. You stated in your blog that Martin Luther's "belief cost him dearly in life", I believe drinking alcohol has cost me dearly in life and literally cost many, in my family, "their very lives". I hope you will never fully understand (but hope you better understand now) why I took a stand against drinking back in our Youth Group days. I was surprised to hear that your sister was so hurt by that discussion but I disagree that we gave her "a good verbal lashing" and just for the record the actual size of youth group that night was closer to 90 not 250. Let's discuss the social, medical & scriptural implications, later on. PEACE!

    • Reply February 21, 2012

      Korpi Diem

      Hi Renee, Thanks for stopping by TheoMag! I certainly can't begin to understand the type of experience you had growing up, and would certainly never pretend to. There is no doubt that the abuse of alcohol has ramifications which can be severe and long lasting.

      I want to, first of all, make it clear that my desire throughout this series is going to be handling this topic as objectively as possible, inputting my opinion on a minimal basis. I want to engage this topic in a good biblical and theological discussion while attempting to leave as much of my own emotion out of it as possible. Granted, I'm human and prone to error, but my desire is to adhere as closely to this as possible.

      Please rest assured that throughout this series will intend to not tread disrepsectfully on experiences such as yours. I will be addressing the topic of moderation specifically in one of the articles in this series.

      Speaking to that night in youth group, my sister was in junior high–a time when we are all exceptionally sensitive to public humiliation. She was certainly not the type of person at that time to get up and be bold enough to voice her own opinion (especially in a setting which was hostile to that opinion) and did so in that open mic night under the covering of what Mike used to say: "there is no right or wrong answer." In the entire time we ran those open mic nights up until that point he opened every session under that context and abided by that principle even when people said some ridiculous stuff.

      But in this instance my sister was left out of that covering and allowed to be put out "on blast." And yes, that was one of the contributing factors as to why she ended up leaving the church and going to Emmanuel Baptist's youth group. Honestly I didn't remember who it was who had gotten up on stage until your reply, but with all respect intended, I feel as though, given the setting in which student's were allowed to voice their opinion without fear of recourse, it may not have been the best timing to speak in rebuttal. Like I said, however, I mean that with the highest respect intended.

      The size of the group is irrelevant, I believe, but for the sake of argument, from what I recall this was around my junior/senior year in high school which was shortly after youth group peaked at 285. Perhaps my memory has served me on the numbers of people in attendance incorrectly and the decline in attendance was sharper than what I recall, and I certainly can't speak to exactly how many people were there that specific evening, though I would disagree that it was only 90. I don't recall that group dipping below 125 or so until I left for college. Nevertheless, if it was sharply less than 250, I certainly apologize for my overestimate (blame it on the trade, lol).

      I certainly meant no disrespect in my highlighting of this point in my life but it eventually played a small role in forming how I look at this topic today and I can't speak for my sister but I would believe she feels the same.

      I hope you stop by during this series of articles and are willing to share your experience and opinions on the topic as I believe you can give valuable insight from a unique perspective.

      I love you guys and hope you're doing well. My regards to your lovely family. 🙂

  • Reply February 21, 2012

    Cuppy

    Nice piece, Todd!! Since we are all talking about our upbringings, I want to throw mine in also. I came from a family who drank in moderation and were sincere in their faith. Having such a growing up experience and then being thrust into a church culture which spelled alcohol "S-I-N" made for a rather interesting time at college. Its not that I wanted to drink, but more that I was surprised how narrow minded some Christians can be. Some folks have a family history which justifies their hatred of the "drink", but others walk into that prejudice just to be "holy".

    I think more than anything I was upset by how the opinionated views of christians can really distract and derail their compassion for the lost and their witness.

    Drink, or do not drink; don't assume Jesus would agree with you.

  • Reply February 21, 2012

    Chris Davis

    I've always thought a drink in moderation is permissible. Of course it varies for each person depending on family history, tolerance, etc.. however I do feel that as a minister there is a higher level of accountability and necessity to be distant from temptation. I don't judge those for drinking in the slightest bit. I personally know that I wouldn't lose my salvation over it and wouldn't feel convicted if I had a drink but I never want to be the cause of someone else's stumble.

    Sn- just a thought, the church is starting to loosen its stance on alcohol, how much longer until in marijuana?? I'm not for it but it seems inevitable. I can here it now, "there's nothing about it in the bible, and It's a plant that God created"

    • Reply February 21, 2012

      Korpi Diem

      Good point, Chris. I'll be talking about alcohol and the pastorate here in a couple weeks as the Bible specifically talks about the conduct of a "priest" in regards to alcohol…though I do believe we often fail to look at it thoroughly in context. How do you feel scripture supports your claim regarding alcohol and ministers? How do you view John Calvin's yearly 700 gallons of wine as a part of his pastoral compensation package?

      I agree with you that it varies based on one's own conviction. One certainly cannot say that it is wrong for a person to choose to abstain from alcohol…just as one would choose to abstain from "secular" music or watching "Keeping up with the Kardashians." There are certainly life experiences which would indicate a change in personal practice on alcohol…much like anything else in life. I was nearly in Gary, Indiana one time…as a result, I avoid Gary like the plague…but that doesn't mean it's wrong for anyone to visit, drive through, or live in Gary, Indiana. My life experience caused me to make an adjustment in the way I do things.

      • February 21, 2012

        Chris Davis

        Don't get me wrong, I'm all for Ecclesiastes 9:7 “Drink your wine with a merry heart.” But I believe as a minister we have to be sensitive to the frailty of the unbelievers (potential believers). If someone saw Reinhard Bonnke on a beer run, they'd probably be far less incline to take to heart the dynamic sermons that he preaches. It's not sin but could cause someone to miss out on the gospel message which in my mind is not okay. It's not a sin for a minister to partake however, if it has the possibility to detour anyone from salvation ministers should be willing to abstain for the greater cause.

        In 1 Timothy 3:1-7 when listing the qualifications of a minister we are told to be above reproach, drinking may not be a sin but drunkenness clearly is and the best way for a minister to be above the reproach of drunkenness is to abstain.

        John Calvin is entitled to his own opinion or in this case, Ale. But i would argue that in his culture and period f time it was far more acceptable and the social norm to drink. It's not as common place nowadays and could be more of a hindrance to those of weaker faith.

        Luke 1:15 speaks of the fact that Christ is to never drunk of wine or fermented drink, our goal should be to be like him in every aspect right?

        In Leviticus 10:8-9 the LORD said to Aaron, "You and your sons are not to drink wine or other fermented drink whenever you go into the Tent of Meeting, or you will die. This is a lasting ordinance for the generations to come.

        Ezekiel 44:21 forbids priests to drink wine when entering in to the inner courts, which again should be our desire…

        Again, I don't believe it is a sin in moderation but if the overall heart of a pastor is to bring salvation to those that need it, then why potentially put yourself in an instance to turn someone away? Let's be above reproach.

      • February 21, 2012

        Korpi Diem

        Lk 1:15 is about John the Baptist, not Christ. 🙂 Jesus both made and drank wine.

      • February 21, 2012

        Chris Davis

        Sorry. Misread. But from that one could argue if he was ordered to not drink and was one of the most influential figures in the bible how different are we? Again, I share your view but these are questions that continue to arrise on the issue.

      • February 21, 2012

        Dusty Kat

        Chris – I thought I'd chime in. John the Baptist also ate locusts and honey and lived in the desert. It's possible he could of taken a Nazarite vow (though thats not specified) or been influenced by the Essenes (an apocalyptic isolated society). Jesus was accused of being a "glutton and drunkard" (Matthew 11:18-19, Luke 7:33-34) because he partied with sinners and tax collectors. It's slightly amusing the contrast of socializing between Jesus and John the Baptist. Both were serving God (well one was God), yet socially on opposite ends.

        A life of asceticism (abstinence) does not equal holiness. God's leading to sacrifice or even indulge (enjoy) is what will make man holy and influential.

      • February 21, 2012

        Korpi Diem

        I would contend that Jesus was a more influential figure in the Bible. As was Paul (I base this off the fact he wrote most of the NT) and Paul's vino-ridden instructions to Timothy to consume wine only lends to the idea that he himself also drank wine…otherwise he was a pretty bad pastor, lol.

      • February 21, 2012

        Chris Davis

        Dusty kitty- I agree. Abstinence doesn't = holiness. Maybe John was ordered not to drink because he couldn't hold his liquor… Obviously he had to follow the path God set out for his life, I'm grateful mine doesn't involve locusts. Like I said before, this always has and always will be a topic that varies on an individual basis. If we all agree that the Bible is infallible and Holy Spirit inspired, I don't think it's a coincidence that it says "drunkenness" is sin, as opposed to having a drink. If this were a clear-cut deciding factor for our lives as believers I believe there would have been more straight forward passages pertaining to the topic.

      • February 21, 2012

        Dusty Kat

        Tru dat Christopher. Tru dat.

  • Reply February 21, 2012

    Tiffany Thorpe

    Thanks, Todd, for opening up the discussion.

    One of my favorite writings on this subject is in Robert Farrar Capon's book, "The Supper of the Lamb". He has a chapter titled, "Water in Excelsis" which is an interesting and thought provoking discussion of God's design for wine (hey that rhymed).

    It is so important not to disregard the hurt that has been caused by over-consumption of alcohol, but as those who are free from sin, we are free to consider and enjoy God's creation in a new light (Rom. 6:11). Paul's insight in Romans 14 is also very helpful in prayerfully considering how to enjoy our freedom in Christ and still care for the weaker brother.

    I have really enjoyed the experience of using real wine in communion, as I feel it's a beautiful connection to what Christ was illustrating in his first miracle, as well as in instituting this beverage as a way to remember him- the fact that there is alcohol in wine shows us there is a powerful substance within the drink. What better symbol for his all-powerful blood? Yes these things can be misused and distorted, but when our lives are transformed in him, we are able to experience a life richer and fuller in him. The moderation we must be ever so cautious to exercise with physical drink, we must utterly abandon with spiritual drink. If we drink, let us drink in the all-consuming power of his blood and be forever drunk by our savior- under his influence, so to speak.

    I think some of our difficulty understanding these concepts as evangelicals has to do with our lack of understanding of how symbolism actually applies to us practically. Spirituality is not a separate aspect of our lives. Walking in the Spirit requires attention to everything we experience in the mundane. Enjoying and respecting a glass of wine for its beauty and complexity can be an act of worship unto our Creator for his brilliance. Wine, after all, occurs naturally. The yeast is already present on the grapes.

    Besides, Martin Luther himself enjoyed a good beer, more than once in a while 😉

    • Reply February 21, 2012

      Korpi Diem

      Thanks for weighing in, Sis. Excellent thoughts and very well put. And you're right about Luther…he MADE a good beer once in a while too. 🙂

  • Reply February 21, 2012

    Matthew Baker

    Jesus first miracle is as a bar tender serving up the sauce. What is there to debate regarding Alcohol? Nothing.

    This is a conversation that will always be a subjection of convictions one way or another. The beer drinking brethren will summon the pharisees to get over their religiosity and the anti-alcohol apostles will chastise the drinkers. All in a ridiculous display of exerting wills over one another. See above? 🙂

    I err on the side of the beer drinking brethren but if you're in a context where your weaker brethren are offended by you your Corinthian exhortation is to 'get over it' and give up your right. That is if you are ministering to them. Eventually you will lead them out of the folly of their ways which posts like this certainly accomplish. So, to that I tip my hat. If you are in a context wherein there is no problem then 'eat and drink to the glory of God'.

    Regardless, don't live for the hypothetical person. The hypothetical alcoholic who might relapse because they see you drinking does not exist. In the unlikely event that they do exist, its there problem and conviction not yours. Do I have to stop eating red meat because of my vegetarian friends are offended? No. Will I offer them red meat? No. If I am out on my own and they see me eating red meat should I feel guilty? No. Your convictions are not those of others and those of others are not yours. No one should live that way.

    • Reply February 21, 2012

      Dusty Kat

      "Matthias for three!" – marv albert

    • Reply February 21, 2012

      Tara Korpi

      Beautifully said, Matt!!!

      I am looking forward to these articles Todd! I am hoping people remove their thoughts or philosphies or prejudice on this subject and look at scriptural truth.

      Farbeit for us to allow our perspective to thwart what the Bible says, or rather insert what it doesn't say. Bible or bust!!!! 😀

    • Reply February 21, 2012

      Chris Davis

      Touche' sir… touche'

      We're both in agreement on our own personal stances. Living in the Bible belt will cause you to feel that you may be stoned if you voice that opinion.

    • Reply February 21, 2012

      Korpi Diem

      Very true, my firend. The "weaker believer" notion I've always found comical because Prohibitionists are afraid of this imaginary group of people falling into Hell's flames because they saw a Christian (God forbid, a pastor) sipping a margarita at Applebees. And if they themselves are the "weaker believer" who would find themselves stumbling, aren't they positioning themselves as theologically submissive and therefore a pupil being taught at the hand of a moderationist? I think you hit the nail on the head with the idea that a "weaker believer" should only be weak for a season as the Body of Christ would surely rally around such a Christ-follower to see to it they are weaned off spiritual milk…

  • Reply February 21, 2012

    Chris Davis

    Question, if Christ made beer today what would it be called?

    • Reply February 21, 2012

      Matthew Baker

      Drinkwiser.

    • Reply February 21, 2012

      Tara Korpi

      delicious! 🙂 j/k j/k

      • February 21, 2012

        Jare Bear

        But seriously.

  • Reply February 21, 2012

    Jessica Redmond

    Fantastic article, Todd! Super excited to read the rest that are coming along the way. For now, I'm going to go drink a glass of wine and read my Bible. 🙂

  • Reply February 22, 2012

    Renee Shaull

    Todd, thank you for your kind words and incite. Please tell your sister that I am so sorry if I hurt or embarrassed her during that open-forum discussion, so many years ago. When I went up to present my side of the coin, my remarks were directed at the subject itself and not at one person, although at that age I can, now, see why she thought so. I know that I also felt distressed by the open forum debate on alcohol, seeing that I had three impressionable teenagers in the youth group. But truly, I meant no harm and if I had it to do over, I would have held my remarks, until I got home. Again, I am so sorry. With that said, I am still excited to continue this debate with you and here is my most recent thoughts and post to FB: PEACE!

    My earlier post on FB was inspired by an article called: Are You There, Vodka? It's Me, Jesus. I will not be going back to this blog (I changed my mind) because I feel so grieved after reading most of the comments. I was also grieved to see pictures portraying Jesus as a party guy and comments such as: “Jesus first miracle is as a bar tender serving up the sauce.” I thought I was reading a post from my unsaved brother. With that said, I’m going to try to have a thicker skin, in this debate. No condemnation for those who choose to drink in moderation but I have a problem with someone using the pulpit to influence others to drink. As a Co-Pastor of a growing church of young people coming out of addictions & abuse, I feel compelled to state what I know about alcohol (and not only my own experience with it but from a medical, biblical, & domestic, point of view). I believe the long- term ramifications of alcohol use (or any other drug) are too staggering to refute. I will be doing weekly posts on my Facebook debating this article. GRACE!

    • Reply February 22, 2012

      Korpi Diem

      Would you contest that that is entirely what Jesus did? I suppose Mr Baker could have more accurately portrayed Jesus as a brewmaster making the sauce, but I suppose I don't see how that is any "more" or "less" Christian? In fact, as true to the definition of "Christian" as we can get (one who is "like Christ") an actual description of the events which Jesus lived out himself could not be MORE Christian.

      I can empathize with your jadedness with the photos, but let's be honest: Jesus drank…it's in the Bible and we can tear those pages out all we want but it is a bonified recorded hitorical fact. So I reckon I don't understand how Jesus holding a beer with a smile on his face…or a picture where Christ is drinking a beer is any less "holy" or "sacred" than Leonardo da Vinci's depiction painting of "The Last Supper" where FIFTEEN wine glasses sit on a table where THIRTEEN people are shown (one of course being in front of Christ). This sounds more like a party than the pics our TheoMag editors conjured up. Is it the fact that it's beer (which generally has only as much if not LESS alcoholic content than wine) or is it because he's holding or drinking the beverage as opposed to it simply resting on the table tempting our Lord that makes our depiction unholy?

  • Reply February 22, 2012

    margaret flannery

    Interesting. Albeit disprespectful to picture Christ drinking in a fashion that would appear to be "boozing it up" in our culture. I was not raised in a church hat touted abstinence, but our pastor when questioned often said, "I've seen nothing good come from drinking." I think that pretty much sums it up. Since its a nervous system depressant that also inhibits behavioral impulses I can easily concur with his opinion.

    • Reply February 22, 2012

      Dusty Kat

      Hi Margaret. Thanks for joining in the conversation. Let us reason together. I agree that an excessive amount of alcohol will destroy a person's humanity. There is no hiding that. It ruins families, waist lines, jobs, pretty much everything. Yet, to advocate its uselessness based on a pastors recommendation is more discrete than it is biblical. The reality is alcohol is enjoyed in scripture. Jesus was considered a drunkard and a glutton among the Pharisees. Jesus turned water into wine. Paul advised Timothy to drink wine. If you are troubled by the pictures of Jesus drinking above then you may need to bring a blindfold to the great wedding supper. The issue here is not twenty-somethings trying to justify drinking, it's Christians trying to justify its complete damnation. And that's just not biblical. Let me know what you think Margaret. Blessings.

    • Reply February 22, 2012

      Korpi Diem

      Margaret, my question to you would be this: Is it the fact that Jesus is drinking beer and not wine that is disrespectful? Is it the fact that he is smiling while holding a beer in the other picture instead of frowning and looking somber as He was portrayed next to a glass of wine in Da Vinci's painting of the Last Supper? Or is it because it is easier to read that Jesus drank alcohol than it is to see it visually (allbeit photoshopped)?

  • Reply February 22, 2012

    Chris Davis

    To conclude all the points I've tried raising…

    In the life of being a Christian we were left a specific set of instructions in following Christ such as the 10 commandments and plenty of other commands but in scripture there is no specific verse spoken by Christ forbidding us to drink. If this were an issue that would potentially keep us from salvation you have to believe that there would be more clear cut scriptures to uphold that view. I don't believe that drinking is a sin but it's clear that drunkenness is. However, you can't get drunk if you don't drink. It's a topic that will forever vary on an individual basis. Some are convicted by drinking, so don't drink. Some aren't convicted by drinking, so to quote Ecclesiastes 9:7 “Drink your wine with a merry heart.”in moderation of course.

    If you are a minister who holds the view of drinking in moderation is permissible be prepared to defend that view.

    I come from a family of addicts, both drugs and alcohol. I've seen the effects of both and they have caused more pain than i can express through written words. If one does drink, it's important to know the ugly truths about it as well.

    Just because Christ drank wine doesn't mean that we HAVE to, it simply means that it's permissible for those who desire may enjoy wine and such so long as it doesn't hinder your relationship with God.

    Each person here holds there own opinions near and dear to there hearts and are very unlikely to change their minds, however lets all come with open ears and hear each other out.

    Let the discussion continue in the spirit of education and clarification, not slamming one another.

    • Reply February 22, 2012

      Korpi Diem

      Good thoughts, Chris. I hope that we can all approach this with open minds. My greatest fear is that people will sift this through pre-conceived notions rather than through the Word. Certainly not saying, I'm the legislator of what is and what is not biblical, but I would hope that at the end of this series scriptural truth is what triumphs.

  • Reply February 22, 2012

    Tim McCue

    I believe it is not only disrespectful but opposite of what Scripture teaches to picture Jesus drinking a beer with a crown of thorns on His head since Matthew 27 tells us…….

    (v29)They wove thorn branches into a crown and put it on his head, and they placed a reed stick in his right hand as a scepter. Then they knelt before him in mockery and taunted, "Hail! King of the Jews!"

    (v34)Here they offered Him wine mixed with myrrh; but He refused it.

    *KEY WORD is REFUSED, it doesn't say our Savior grabbed it and took a swig, the Bible says He refused it.

    .

    • Reply February 22, 2012

      Korpi Diem

      Hey Tim,

      Thanks for joining the discussion here. I can understand your shock with an image of Christ drinking beer. However, to give an accurate time-sensitive portrayal of the Jesus story, he had a glass of wine not all that long before he was hanged on the cross…at the last supper. To look at the scripture you gave in context he was offered the wine to numb his senses (though many translations don't say it was wine). He refused it not to set a historical precidence which we should follow but because it was symbolic of his dedication to taking our punishment for sin. By this title slide being used, a disrespect certainly wasn't intended and I stand by my editor's decision in using it. I suppose next week we could simply use Da Vinci's "The Last Supper" where Jesus is shown anciently somber with a glass of wine on the table? Since this painting has been around for 600 years it seems as though it's lost its "disrespectfulness."

      • February 22, 2012

        Tim McCue

        There is no "shock" with the image of Christ drinking beer, I've seen a lot more ignorant things in my lifetime, believe me. However, the Bible is CLEAR that after the crown of thorns was placed on His head, He refused the drink that was offered to Him. That IS in context and that is what the Scripture says. So, to show a photo portraying something opposing what the Scripture says is simply disrespectful. Not to me, but to God. Forget me, who cares if I'm desrespected, that's not my concern.

      • February 22, 2012

        Korpi Diem

        I would disagree that "ignorance" plays a factor in the selection of this photo (as the one who selected the photo is one of the most impressive theological minds I've had the pleasure of personally knowing). And though your statement is chronologically in context, in light of the scriptural portrayal of the event, it is somewhat flawed regarding the whole POINT of why Christ refused the wine (if that's what it was).

        Tell me, if that glass of beer were replaced by a bottle of vinegar would you be so upset? I would dare to say it's not the fact that Christ is drinking ANYTHING with a crown of thorns on his head…it's the fact that it's beer.

      • February 22, 2012

        Tim McCue

        If the glass of beer was replaced by ANYTHING, I would call it an error, yes. I'm not upset about any of this though, honestly. Just because someone disagrees does not mean they're upset. When the Scripture clearly teaches one thing and a Christian article is headlined with a photo that is clearly in error, that is disrespectful. Period. It doesn't matter how great of a mind chose it. It is an error, it is wrong. If there were a picture of Jesus being stoned to death rather than dying on the cross, I would call that an error also since the Bible clearly teaches otherwise. It's that simple. You can assign motives if you'd like, but that's on you.

  • Reply February 22, 2012

    margaret flannery

    Thanks Chris. Dusty: suggesting I wear a blindfold at the wedding supper? Come on. Not respectful of my comments. And actually there is an awful lot of scripture regarding drinking. Check out 1 Corinthians chapters 5 and 6 and maybe you will understand where those, like my Pastor, spoke from. Pretty strong words in those chapters.

    • Reply February 22, 2012

      Korpi Diem

      1 Cor 6 deals mostly with sexual immorality but there is a reference to DRUNKENNESS. Not drinking moderately…once again…as Christ himself did. So even if the Apostle Paul were to have said drinking was wrong (which he wouldn't have based off his instruction to Timothy) He would have been in error since Christ himself drank. And to that extent 1 Corinthians wouldn't have been admitted into the canon of scripture.

  • Reply February 22, 2012

    margaret flannery

    Todd: the cross deserves our utmost respect and reverence. To photoshop his image with the crown of thorns in a lighthearted manner is not presenting his ultimate sacrifice with the honor it deserves. I believe its important to be very cautious with depictions of Christ.

    • Reply February 22, 2012

      Korpi Diem

      Though I contend to potentially disagree, Margaret, I can certainly understand your viewpoint. Let's reign this back however to the discussion of the article itself rather than the picture presented in addition to the article.

  • Reply February 23, 2012

    Renee Shaull

    I agree with Tim & Margaret's comments and will compare scripture with scripture soon. PEACE

  • Reply February 23, 2012

    Renee Shaull

    Todd: I don’t think Leonardo’s painting of the Last Supper is holier than your friend’s picture, neither do I think it’s more accurate (maybe, a little more reverent but then again, maybe not). Nevertheless, to refer to Jesus as a “bartender serving up the sauce” is saying that we know “for sure” that the wine Jesus made had alcohol in it. (Which you can’t prove) But, I would contend that: It didn’t have alcohol in it (“instant fermentation” was another part of that miracle, if it did and not impossible for Our Lord, but something I just realized 🙂 But, I would still contend that it didn’t have alcohol in it for this reason: Jesus would not have encouraged drunkenness and since the Bible KJV says they were already well-drunk (in another article, not yours, someone said that this proved it had alcohol in it!-bad exegesis to say the least) but, if it was alcoholic wine, as you suppose, and even stronger than the first wine that they drank (again, your reasoning) that would mean Jesus was encouraging drunkenness! Jesus making stronger wine and serving it up to an already “tipsy” or drunk crowd does not sound like the Jesus we see in the word. Secondly, I think JESUS (as “King of Kings”) lived by His own Word: “It is not for kings, O Lemuel, it is not for kings to drink wine; nor for princes strong drink”. Proverbs 31:4 (KJV) Or: Proverbs 20:1 (NIV) “ Wine is a mocker and beer a brawler; whoever is led astray by them is not wise.” Only time can tell whether drinking will affect someone’s future & the future of their family. Ultimately, before the Lord they stand or fall. So, “be convinced in your own mind” and “have your freedom unto yourself” but be careful not to “use your freedom as a means to cause someone else to stumble”. That is my concern. PEACE!

    • Reply February 27, 2012

      Apollojetick

      "…that would mean Jesus was encouraging drunkenness! Jesus making stronger wine and serving it up to an already “tipsy” or drunk crowd does not sound like the Jesus we see in the word."

      "I think JESUS (as “King of Kings”) lived by His own Word: “It is not for kings, O Lemuel, it is not for kings to drink wine; nor for princes strong drink”."

      Using bad eisegesis after arguing bad exegesis is like shooting a man in the face after you scold him for picking on his little sister. You cannot infer things INTO the Word after mocking people who try explain OUT OF the Word…it's just bad karma! 😛

      If O.T. verses are on the table for holy living, may I ask you one question? Is your shirt a mixed blend of fabrics or just one? If N.T. verses are on the table for holy living, Renee, may I ask another? Are you wearing makeup or jewelry? Those verses don't refer to Christ's life, and using them as definitive examples against Christ drinking alcohol sets you up to not be able to talk in church, wear makeup, jewelry or mixed fabrics and … other things we don't need to cover (UNCLEEEEEAN!).

      There is no debate on Christ's drink of choice. It was fermented wine. The Gospels state it, no matter what bible verse you chose, it won't refute His drinking of fermented wine. People that use O.T. verses like that remind me of little children in nursery that insist the star shaped block will fit through the square hole. He was called a drunkard. The good wine gets people drunk and that's what He created. He had a million chances to correct people who saw him with secular people and state that his wine was actually koolaid, but he didn't…because it wasn't.

      I want one, JUST ONE, honest person to look at when prohibition hit the U.S. and when their denomination was founded and then look at the gospels and tell me that they aren't molding their belief's to fit the scriptures, they are actually molding the scripture to fit their belief's. I'll stand before Him with a brewski (which I hate, btw…yuck) and be infinitely more confident than others who lied to themselves and others about the scripture because it didn't look like what they wanted it to look like.

  • Reply February 26, 2012

    Beloved Barger

    Greetings all. In this instance, I’d like to hold my comments about a biblical stance on the consumption of alcohol, albeit this is the purpose & aim of the article & upcoming series. Furthermore I will hold those comments for later (should I choose to make them) simply because there IS more to come & suspect this article is more of an introduction of the topic for the series rather than a foundation of (objective) biblical support to arrive to a stance you can feel secure on…though I do expect this to begin to happen in the upcoming articles.

    If you are gracious enough to prepare to indulge me here, what I’d like to add my comments to is the digression concerning the editor’s choice of pictures accompanying the article. With respect regarding the comments of Tim, Margaret, & Renee, I challenge the act of easily finding offense as a result of the photos of Jesus with a drink in hand. While I can understand the initial attention it may draw and the notion to be cautious as to not disrespect or dishonor Jesus as Christ, I feel it is wise to examine the context surrounding these photos and the reason for which they are posted. Once you have done so, I think you can easily conclude there is no dishonor or disrespect intended or given/directed towards Christ (only offense singularly taken by the photo). Several signs of caution & exhortations are given in scripture on finding fault with one another & finding offense. (Psalm 119:165, Matthew 24:10, James 1:19, Jude 1:16) We are not here to find fault or become offended or go after one another as some of these previous listed verses in context speak of & as Chris mentioned earlier, but to edify through (gracious/loving) argumentation and discourse. In fact the photo, while grabbing your attention, in context is meant TO honor Jesus as the Christ. It is meant TO respect authority, as the context of the article makes clear the series is meant to give credence to the bible as the determinant for a proper stance on the consumption of alcohol.

    (Before moving on with the series we must accept that truth is not rightly subjected to our personal feelings or cultural trends although we might properly subject the application of truth within our culture so long as it does not distort it…more specifically that we are to glorify God and that his authority is ultimate. So instead we first subject ourselves to what scripture already gives authority to, which is itself & namely Jesus. “In the beginning was the Word, and the Word was with God, and the Word was God. He was with God in the beginning. Through him all things were made; without him nothing was made that has been made.” –John 1:1-3)

    As if I haven’t gone on long enough, let me employ some ‘compare and contrast.’ I believe it is difficult to conclude that biblical representations & depictions of God and Jesus Christ through things like Veggie Tales for kids & the widely popular Christian use of the Nativity scene are disrespectful. No, these are clearly meant to draw attention & serve as reminders and point to biblical truth & the supremacy of God, albeit the portrayals themselves are easily & often not entirely accurate according to the bible. The accuracy of the illustration as historic fact is less important than the accuracy of the truth for which it is used to elucidate. Jesus himself used fictional illustrations (parables) to convey truth. (Please don’t be too alarmed at this last sentence; I’m not trying to place the picture of Jesus with a brew in hand on the same level or above the parables/teachings of Jesus, but I think you can follow my logic here.) So I don’t think the argument that because it isn’t biblical so therefore is disrespectful can hold up. Finally I’m not advocating any picture or illustration can be justified by carelessly saying at the end, ‘God is supreme.’ But here (despite its accuracy) I see a picture of Jesus having a drink and holding a brew and smiling, not being drunk or advocating ungodliness or unrighteousness. The pictures by themselves don’t convey much otherwise.

    All that suffice to say I think, carefully considering the intention & what they are drawing your attention to, the photos within the context of the article are instead not really disrespecting Lordship but instead effectively giving authority to the Word.

    Thanks for letting me join in on the conversation, and I am encouraged to see everyone’s participation and can specifically appreciate people’s zealousness to ensure Christ is respected, honored, & held as Lord as He deserves.

  • Reply February 29, 2012

    Renee Shaull

    Hey, I just woke up after that long discourse. You guys sure can be long-winded. I think you miss Tim’s point. No matter what was in the glass, Jesus refused it. He refused to dull the pain, people. No one said he used it as a mandate not to drink wine… That’s why its a wrong depiction because He is drinking it! (although it’s a beautiful drawing). I’ll say more later, on about Jesus drinking habits (don’t get so excited) PS Wow, Apollojetick, no one has told me I had “Bad Karma” since before I got saved. Oh yes, my drug-addicted sister did last week, sorry.  Maybe, we should debate which religion we believe in. Let’s lighten up!

  • Reply February 29, 2012

    ericthiede

    Brother Korpi!  

    I’m glad to hear another brother/Pastor on the same page and view as myself.  I will not comment too much based on the fact that most people have expounded profusely on this topic.  However, my comment will be according to things in excess.  When dealing with this topic you must consider where you live as a person/family, what your belief systems are (as a nation), how others (in your nation) interpret such things, view such things, and what your testimony to such things will be interpreted as.  In these types of considerations (and I believe one of the posts eluded to the idea that certain pastors in Australia drink etc.) one must come to the realization that in America, we have become a country of – Everything in excess = success!  Meaning, I need a bigger television to feel accomplished, I need a better car to feel successful even though I’m already driving a BMW, its not good enough because I need a bigger/better one.  In order for me to feel a sense of pride I don’t go to the word of God in excess, I’d rather eat my full at a restaurant every week, after church, sweets every night (wednesday night presumably after bible study), or maybe even sit in front of the TV in order to feel relaxed or comforted.  Now, I find myself overweight, but its no big deal because I can go to the gym one of these days; I’m more lazy than before because I’d rather watch TV or play video games, my productivity has become counter-productive and I feel helpless.  I’d rather allow a little bit of more money in my pocket and keep it in my bank account for protection, maybe I’ll give this week, I mean I give my tithes, but ya know Pastor, I just can’t give anymore than that, Have you seen this economy?!  Now, please understand, these things in moderate proportions aren’t bad things, having a savings account is necessary (in proportion),  people need to eat, people feel a little dessert isn’t bad, a little TV won’t hurt anyone as long as its ‘controlled,’ but as soon as it comes to an alcoholic beverage, the church blows up like Ole’ Faithful!  So consider who you are as a person.  What does the bible say, not ‘just’ about alcohol in excess, but the things in your life that are more important?  One outstanding subject in lack is the lack of tithes and offerings!  This has dominantly impacted the church world because some people hold onto their pocketbooks so tight you would think if they dropped it their wallet would shatter on the ground!  Consider in your life what’s in excess, what is a negative effect because of ‘too much.’  If it’s alcohol then you need to stop!  Self-control is one of the fruits of the spirit that is avoided so much when it comes to things that are more blatant, i.e., obesity, laziness, living around the TV, unwholesome talk etc., but as soon as it turns to a ‘drink’ watch out, because this is what this scripture is talking about!!!   

    • Reply March 3, 2012

      Dusty Kat

      Great thoughts Eric! Very true.

  • Reply March 4, 2012

    Anna_25air

     

    I always enjoy reading the TheoMag. It challenges and intrigues my logic in interpretation of what the Bible says is Truth verses what is happening in our culture. I’m really looking forward to reading more about this topic. Thanks for your insight and biblically founded of opinion. I know you guys study and work hard to give a great word of encouragement and truth to the readers. You guys rock~

  • Reply March 4, 2012

    Thomas Thorpe

    I would like to join the discussion simply by speaking to those who would oppose alcohol based on a fear of what the substance can and has done to many lives. I don’t pretend to know first hand what alcohol abuse does to a family but I have talked to many people who have been physically, emotionally and sexually abused and assaulted because of it and it grieves me deeply. I would, however, like to caution those reading to not think of alcohol as the problem but our own sinfulness. 
    In Mark 9, Christ tells the disciples to cut off their hand or foot if it causes them to sin and what he means by this is not to remove external temptations (just ask Origen how that worked) but to turn the knife on one’s heart because that is where sin lies. Too often Christians, myself included, attempt to wall ourselves off from “the big bad world” but all we seem to accomplish is to lock in our sinfulness and rebellion toward Christ until it finds a chink in the armor and we are exposed. We need to remember that it is what comes out of a man that makes him unclean and not what goes in. 

    We also need to remember that we are to first and foremost love Christ and stand in awe at the Gospel. If for one minute our eyes move off of Christ and on to our own personal agenda we have sinned and are seeking to serve self and not Christ. 

    I have more to say on the subject but this post is getting long and I don’t mean overwhelm. One last thought for now is that if you find yourself being offended, stepped on, or hurt in this conversation, please take a step back and ask yourself if you are being hurt because you are making the conversation about you. A serious look into what the Bible says about a given topic should not lead to feelings being hurt but eyes being opened and a love for Christ growing larger. The Gospel is not about me, it is not about you, it is about God and His passion for His own glory and His desire to bring us along for the ride that we might catch a glimpse of His glory. 

    Thank you for starting a conversation, Todd. 

  • Reply September 16, 2013

    Joe Pickens

    Ha! Just saw that this was a 2y/o article… oops. It popped up in my current news feed on the site.

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