Thursday, February 08, 2007

Beer and the Bible

The Journey is a relatively new church in the St. Louis area. As a way of helping The Journey to launch from being a small group of believers into a public church, The Journey was given financial assistance by a group of Baptists in Missouri. The Journey has had a wonderful beginning and there are a lot of formerly “unchurched” people that are now meaningfully connected to God and to a community of faith.

According to the St. Louis Post-Dispatch, this past October the annual meeting of Baptists in Missouri highlighted the good work that The Journey was doing and congratulated them. In December some Missouri Baptists became aware that one of the ministries that The Journey has successfully reached people with is a monthly discussion of theology at a local brewery.

Quick history: Baptists have for generations advocated abstaining from consuming alcohol. Traditionally most Baptists would be considered teetotalers. So, it is not surprising that the Baptists would find it inconsistent or even troubling that The Journey would accept their money and then use means to reach people that many of them would consider unbiblical.

It does raise the question of when is it appropriate to break with a tradition. Many tee totaling Baptists would concede that there is not a verse in the Bible that commands, “Thou shall not drink alcohol.” But, the tradition of abstinence is strong and there is a lot of medical and sociological data that confirms it can be a very damaging thing for people to drink. A lot of lives and families have been ruined by alcohol.

Senior minister, Darrin Patrick contends that they are compelled to go where people gather and share their faith rather than expect people to come to them for an hour on Sunday. He makes the case that Jesus was accused of being a drunkard and glutton because he attended parties where people who were disconnected from God were hanging out.

In my mind this is a great example of legalism. Legalism is when someone takes a practice or conviction that is good (avoid drinking alcohol and all the problems it can bring) and they make it a “law”. By “law” I mean, “You’re a good Christian if you abstain from alcohol. You’re a bad Christian if you consume it.”
The fact of the matter is that there are many solid, consistent, biblical Christians who drink a beer. Knowing that Baptists have a strong tradition of abstaining from alcohol The Journey probably should have skipped receiving the Baptist money if they wanted to be true to their conviction of reaching people in pubs.


Van said...

No, Scott. They should take the money and run. If Missouri Baptists have a problem then they will have to do what they will have to do. We need more churches like The Journey. I sure wish that was mine. I can't get my church to reach out to the 100s living next door in apartments.

Scott Brewer said...


Thanks for checking in.

I agree, we need more churches like The Journey.

C.R. said...

I see both sides of this issue. The Baptist Organization is merely trying to be responsible in who they lend money to, and as a "Christian Lender" they should be. However, now that the loan has been made, it will be a wonderful testimony of God's Grace and Mercy and His love for everyone including those in a pub. The Journey's website is a testimony of their faith and commitment to Jesus Christ. The Resource Page and the Essays are very inspiring. Perhaps the Baptist will be blessed by a humbling lesson they would not have learned any other way. Doesn't God work in awesome ways? Amen!