American Evangelicalism, Light Beer, and Reformed Theology

Erik Raymond —  February 14, 2007

biblelight.jpg

People have described some of the contemporary practices within evangelicalism as being driven by consumerism. We can see evidences of this with many of the popular devices that are employed, whether it be in the altering of vocabulary, the transition from preaching to conversations, the emphasis upon felt needs rather than spiritual needs, the polling of unbelievers as to how church should be conducted, a deemphasis upon doctrine, a redefinition of Jesus as weak and effeminate, and an idolatrous portrayal of a God who’s love is able to trump his righteousness. Regrettably, all of these things are common today.

Even here in Omaha we have seen a confessionally evangelical church, with a history of teaching the Bible, hang up pictures of the Pope and encourage believers to be more like him. Proponents of this type of reproachable compromise argue that such things are done to attract the large Catholic community that surrounds the church.

In effort to create something that is universally accepted by all, even unbelievers and heretics, such people are unwittingly making themselves irrelevant. The church is supposed to be different, we are supposed to have distinct contours that reflect our God who has called out us of the world and given us the same message to proclaim to a world who does not know him.

Nashville is Ironically Similar to St. Louis

It is ironic to me, when considering this problem, that many evangelicals have much in common with an industry they despise. I see a great similarity between the American evangelical church and the major American Beer manufacturers.

Most beer people will tell you that aside from a few minor variances American Beer (particularly light beer) tastes the same. It lacks flavor, it is low in alcoholic content, and it is painfully watered down. American evangelicalism likewise has become incredibly bland, lacking a punch, and is too, painfully watered down.

I can go to the local Southern Baptist megachurch (Bud-Light) and receive the same flavorless biblical preaching that I can receive at the local E-Free megachurch (Michelob Light). This of course is with the exception of some variant marketing slogans and aesthetics.

It seems as though the evangelical church is learning ministry from the beer industry. They have a product that is so diluted and so non-distinct but is so well marketed that when people are in the mood for church they will imbibe without being offended, however, it will only make them feel better temporarily, untl the Sunday morning buzz wear’s off.

Calvinism the Import

On the other hand you have the Micro-Brews & imports. These guys are the Reformed wing of the church. They have unabashed loyalty to flavor,calvinus-beer.jpg historic craftsmanship, and integrity with the trade.

I once heard Jim Koch, the founder and CEO of Samuel Adams, say that “We make beer for people who like flavor. If you do not like flavor, you will not like Sam Adams.” (my paraphrase).

The Reformed movement cares more about the product than the consumer. The glory of God trumps the comfort of the ‘seeker’. It seeks to faithfully produce authentic and flavorful preaching, teaching and living to the glory of God.

However, just as Sam Adams, Guinness, and others are not for everyone, apparently the same is true with Reformed theology. Many people complain that Calvinists are too strong-minded, to doctrinal, too mean, and too much into theology.

I recently heard D.A. Carson say that Willow Creek has not grown in years and have now begun trying to jump into other streams to attract people. Conversely, Reformed theology is growing in this country (so are the Micro-brews and imports).

Apparently people like substance and authenticity. Instead of being flavored water, it is high time that the church, the very people who are supposed and expected to be different, would step up and be who they are called to be, distinct, refreshing, flavorful and enjoyable.

Erik Raymond

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Erik has been writing at Ordinary Pastor since 2006. He lives in Omaha with his wife and kids while pastoring at Emmaus Bible Church. Follow regular updates on Twitter at www.twitter.com/erikraymond

69 responses to American Evangelicalism, Light Beer, and Reformed Theology

  1. Thanks for the thoughts. Of course, it is far easier to accept your deconstructive comments (connecting American evangelicalism to light beer) than the constructive (connecting Reformed churches with imports and micro-brews). I tend to think that these distinctions come down to preaching the Gospel (imports and micro-brews) or not preaching the Gospel, or preaching some hopelessly watered down “gospel” (light beer). But, one could accuse my framing of this question of being “Reformed” in its own way.

    In any case, you made me want a Guinness…

  2. Thanks Erik for a great article that is right on. What a great comparison.

    Martin Luther’s wife Katie ran a beer brewery, and that is partially how Martin Luther was able to support himself in the ministry. He certainly never served up any theology LIGHT.

    Stan Ermshar

  3. I asked my wife to do the same thing.

    Her reply:

    Either Homeschool or Homebrew…can’t do both. :/

  4. For whatever it’s worth,
    my husband and I have always referred to bud-light as the urine of the gods.

  5. erik,
    Great correlation article. I am not sure what Christie’s point is with the home brew vs. homeschool. We homeschool our kids (well mostly Robin does) and I homebrew from time to time. I don’t know if you have tasted the fruit of my labor yet. I should have another batch ready in April. I love the Calvinus label. Do I have your permission to use it?

    Ellen,
    Urine of the gods…that is hilarious. :-) My taste buds would revolt if I swallowed such beer. I like it with flavor. ie. Sam Adams, Grolsch, Guiness, and now Calvinus Blonde.

  6. This is so funny.
    Erik, Thanks for the edification brew (ha, ha).

    No wonder our broad shouldered brothers (because we are standing on them) of the past met to discuss theology in pubs—it’s just so fun! Perhaps the comparison is all too relevant. We seem to enjoy discussing how grand ale or lager can be, and how urintanical light ‘beer’ is (I just made that word up in an attempt to be relevant). So it is with grand theology served with a head and no apology. Just reverse that for Bible Light.

    Cheers, my brethren!

  7. Hmmm . . . . . . . .

  8. erik…bring it brother…my goodness…someone make you mad this week? I say this in jest of course…great article; keep it up.

    I am currently fighting for the truth of Calvinism on my blog against a wayward article written against Calvinism from an indepedent baptist preacher…

    talk about having to control my emotions…

  9. Barry feel free to use the pic. Christie took it. The Bud-Light picture is of course doctored.

    Seth- I am in a great mood, no problems. Thanks for asking :/ I thought it was a perfectly fitting post for Valentine’s Day.

  10. I find it slightly ironic that you choose light beer (low alcohol content) to represent a group that often rejects all beer as being of the devil, though I imagine that may very well have been a deliberate choice on your part. :)

  11. Seth,
    Wouldn’t the Biblical thing to do be to write the Dr. a letter or talk to him in person to point out his error and give him the chance to repent rather than immediately go and publicly slander his name? You pointed out that he left the reader of his letter with a negative view of Calvinism. Isn’t that exactly what your response and later comments is doing to him and his ideas? I am, in no way, standing up for his beliefs, just noticing some inconsitencies with your practicing what you preach against.

  12. Javaguy…chill out dude…c’mon. It is perfectly safe and normal to interact with something someone publicly says and/or writes.

    By the way, are you confronting Seth? If so, shouldn’t you have “practiced what you are preaching” and written him or paid him a visit?

    MICRO BREWS RULE!

  13. bygrace…that is exactly what I was going to say…

    javaguy…
    if you believe in what you said you should have emailed me. But we must look at biblical examples of this practice. Notice that Jesus Christ called out the Pharisees in public; Paul names names and so does John in his third epistle by calling out Diotrephes. I believe they all do this with men who are public figures teaching in public so that all who heard their heresies would hear the refutation. That is all I am doing; refuting a public writing in the same way: in public. These public writings are damaging to people and because his publication is distributed I wanted people to have something to go to if they were curious. I am trying to be gentle and many people have told me that I am handling it correctly, but if you believe that I am attacking please let me know…

    thanks for your concern though javaguy, and hope all is well

  14. to all:

    sorry erik for taking this out on your blog…figured I would get these kinds of things on my blog…anyway…

    I did email Dr. Goetsch twice to three different email addresses…I called the school to find out how to contact him so that I wasn’t just “flying off the handle” without accountability…also, my pastor is reading the posts as well to keep me accountable…

    Keep up the fight for truth…

  15. Nice post. Theology is the stuff of life. At least new life.

  16. Seth, ByGrace,

    my deepest appologies. I am under alot of stress at work and my frustrations sometimes get the better of me and show through in other areas of my life. You have both shown tremendous patience and a willingness to call me out without condemning me. For that I thank you. I hope no damage has been done by my speaking before thinking.

  17. javaguy…

    no worries brother…that is the biggest problem with blogging…once you push send it is in cyberspace seemingly forever…

    Hope work slows down for you.

  18. I can’t believe so many professing Christians drink alcohol, and this is only ones on this blog.

    I’m in shock!

  19. Astute observations…I’m thirsty now.

  20. Javaguy…hehee…you are so funny. I love your zealousness and have been reading your comments for quite awhile. I feel like I know you man! Anyway, no problem.

  21. Armen,

    What is more shocking is to read of Jesus who “came eating and drinking” (Matt.11.19).

    (my tone here is in no way sarcastic, but sincere).

    erik

  22. Dear Mr. Raymond:

    I have never compared the anemic state of most modern Christianity with beer. This is the price I must pay for not being much of a drinker. (I also don’t really care much for beer, but after reading your comments I might want to reach for a more substantial brew than the cheap ones I have tried.) I once didn’t think much of Calvinism, but once I discovered the doctrines of grace I really changed my mind. I liken it to being hit by a train: nothing is the same afterwards; it changes everything.

    Thanks for writing. I will have to give beer another chance. This time one of the better brands. Maybe I will be hit by another train!

    Yours by the sovereign grace of God,

    Randall Walthall

  23. Erik, Just before linking to your site ,I was considering the similarity between popular “worship” and the Borg . The Borg were an alien race i encountered by the starship Enterprise on the program “Star trek The Next Generation”. Each individual was highly linked to the ships computer system, and there was no individuality at all.the all looked the same, thought the same, and spoke the same. In observing Our last church home as it went through the prosess of being Changed , I noticed the same result The music all sounded the same , all the lines in the music sounded the same, all the sermons sounded the same, and all the people said the same. The staff had no interest in those of us who were opposed to the new ways and we were encouraged to leave. No desent was tolerated it was all one big happy family and no one dared think for himself. The strong calvinistic pastor went off the deep end and was even illustrating his sermans with clips from “The Andy Griffith Show” It was the most discouraging events of my life. The church we are in know seems headed in the same way. We have been through 40 Days again and wlll have a change conference in April .I dont know how or where it will go but as for me and my house “we will not be assimilated”. Sola Deo Gloria, The Shadetree Theologan.

  24. ByGrace,
    Thanks for understanding. It is amazing how we seem to get to know one another without even ever having met. As I picture some of the regulars in my head, I give them characteristics and features which they may or may not possess. Then I think what characteristics and features others might imagine me having by reading what I write and I think, “man, I hope I look better than that!” Hmmm. . . do I feel an illustration brewing here?

  25. Just came across your blog, via Monergism.com. Great article, that really hit the mark.

    One comment. There are quite a few believers that had very serious problems with alcohol before Christ found them. I will never condem anyone for their use of beer, wine, etc., I would ask that you not glamorize it, or make it seem that those who choose not to drink are somehow ‘substandard’.

    Now that I have found your site, I will check back from time to time to see what you are up to.

    Your brother in Christ,
    John Holbrook

  26. Hi John,

    Glad you came by and I’m glad the article was enjoyable.

    I am definitely not aiming at glamorizing sin. I am thankful that according to 1 Cor. 6.10ff. we learn that God’s power transforms former drunks into washed saints to God’s glory. I am also mindful that there are some Christians who think it is sin to drink. I would not want to cause them to stumble at all. I would also not want to judge them, nor should they me (Rom. 14-15). In the same vein, I do not want to shrink from promoting a biblical worldveiw that agrees that everything made by God is good and should be enjoyed not forbidden (1 Tim. 4.1ff).

    So, again, thank you for the comment. This post was more to make a point in a mildly sarcastic way than to give a full treatment of alcohol. At any rate, I appreciate your words.

    Stop in again.

    erik

  27. I don’t see how we are helping anyone by doing anything less than disagreeing vehemently with those who think it is a sin to drink alcohol. Letting these people get away with this outrageously unbiblical belief is really condoning sin. For what these people are doing actually is saying that they are not sinners as long as they don’t sin. i.e, drinking is a sin. If I don’t drink I’m not a sinner. I just disagree with this position. I happen to believe that we sin because we are sinners. The anti-alcohol crowd, in my limited experience, believes that we are sinners because we sin. There is a huge difference. The anti-alcohol crowd actually has more in common with a Muslim than they do with a biblical Christian.

  28. Question,

    Why would Jesus tell people over and over to go and sin no more if he didn’t give them the ability to do that? If God gives us standards to live by that we are unable to maintain, then we have to assume that he intended for us to not live up to that standard. If that is the case, then which standards does he expect us to hold and which ones can we “fudge”on? I can already anticipate responses, but think about the fact that this was a command by Jesus – go and sin no more. He didn’t say – go and try not to sin anymore. We also know that God provides a way to stand up under any temptation.(1 Cor. 10:13)

    Sorry, I know this is a tangent. It just came into mind after reading some of these comments.

  29. Erik,
    I enjoyed your correlation and I believe it’s on the mark. FYI, there is a group of us “Rebel Calvinists” emerging on the West side of your state in Chappell and Sidney “Egypt”, Nebraska. We have recently split from a local church for exactly the reasons you mention. You can check out our new brand new church at http://gcfchappell.org/
    Dutch Calvinist
    Curt

  30. heineken light drinker February 20, 2007 at 6:11 pm

    Hmmm… what does that make a Heineken Light drinker?

    Erik, you said that the Church should be “distinct, refreshing, flavorful and enjoyable.” That sounds a lot more like a “Seeker Church” than the Reformed Church to me. And what of the Church in the U.K.; why is it so dead today?

    Is it not o.k. to “be all things to all men that [we] might save some” 1 Corinthians 9:22?

    I see both sides of the argument and I think the ‘conversation’ causes us to truly think about what we’re doing to reach people; and more importantly why we’re doing it. I just wish that it didn’t come at the cost of bashing other Christ centered Churches. But I guess that’s what Blogs are for…

  31. All you guys glamorizing Beer makes me sick and reminds me of a bunch of young frat boys, name dropping your favorite beers. Beer is poison, that’s why you get drunk. So Erik your comment about Jesus drinking, very dangerous Bro. You all should go read the MADD statistics. Even bringing beer up makes the enemy smile. Should have used Diet Coke and Regular Coke.

  32. Kreg,

    Perhaps you have forgotten that Jesus repeatedly used wine in his illustrations. What’s more, he even made wine in a miracle (Jn.2…btw, this was over 600 bottles of wine..that is a lot!)

    Your beer is poison statement does not represent a biblical worldview. You more resemble a neo-platonic dualist than a biblical Christian.

    I think it is far more dangerous to redefine the Jesus of the Bible in accordance with your own preferences than it is to adjust my own thinking to agree with him. To say that alcohol is poison makes you a practical blasphemer…your Christology gets hijacked by your prohibitionist hermeneutic.

    You reference the MADD statistics? You really showed your hand here. As a Christian the ultimate authority for me is the inspired word of God, which incidentally presents alcohol not as “poison” but a blessing from God, designed to be received with thanksgiving (Ps. 104.15).

    Regrettably, I think your view of the Bible makes the enemy smile. Just take the Bible at face value, let it form your thinking, and do not elevate a bunch of stats as your ultimate authority.

  33. Go Erik. Preach it brother (not in the frat boy way.)

    In Numbers 28 God commands offerings of food and drink:
    “7Its drink offering shall be a quarter of a hin for each lamb. In the Holy Place you shall pour out a drink offering of strong drink to the LORD. 8The other lamb you shall offer at twilight. Like the grain offering of the morning, and like its drink offering, you shall offer it as a food offering, with a pleasing aroma to the LORD.”

    and in Deuteronomy 14:
    “24And if the way is too long for you, so that you are not able to carry the tithe, when the LORD your God blesses you, because the place is too far from you, which the LORD your God chooses, to set his name there, 25then you shall turn it into money and bind up the money in your hand and go to the place that the LORD your God chooses 26and spend the money for whatever you desire–oxen or sheep or wine or strong drink, whatever your appetite craves. And you shall eat there before the LORD your God and rejoice, you and your household.”

    The LORD clearly does not find alcohol to be the “demon liquor” that fundamentalists would like to believe… why else would he tell people to buy and consume it with their tithe money if they were unable to make the long journey to pay their tithes?

    What makes the enemy smile is when Christians become smug and self-righteous because at that point they start to feel less of a need for Christ and they begin misleading new converts in the ways of legalism.

    Nan

  34. Yes! I have something to say!
    It sounds like you think drinking (beer/wine)is OK???
    It is not! Here is why.. Most people think the “wine” in Bible times was alcoholic. It was not. It was unfermented meaning it didnt have bacteria in it to turn it into an alcoholic beverage. Instead, the “wine” in Bible times was plain old grape juice –they only called it “wine” back then.
    Further, it is not right because Jesus would never put anything unpure such as alcohol into His body.
    And, the Bible tells us in many scriptures not to get “drunk”.
    IT ALSO tells us that we shouldnt do ANYTHING that could possibly cause another Christian to stumble in his walk. For example,if a new Christian sees us drink, they will think its ok and it could get out of hand for him and he could get drunk, become an angry drunk etc. In the same way, we shouldnt buy expensive cars, homes, etc so that others dont try and keep up with us and they end up in debt, not paying their tithes etc etc.
    I could go on and on why its just not ok to promote Christians drinking.
    I always wonder, why do some Christians really fight this issue…?Makes me think they want to try to justify themselves being able to drink. Why do you want to drink so badly anyway? How are we different from the rest of the world if were drinking and acting just like them? What kind of example is that?
    I have to say, Im hurt after reading this.

  35. I have to add one more thing…
    This is a “hot” topic. And very sensitive and can cause hurt, confusion, heated arguments, hate and for sure NOT brotherly love towards our brother and sisters in Christ.
    If you continue to “fight” then I KNOW where you stand.

  36. Candy,
    I’ll respond as a person who is quite conservative on this issue, yet in disagreement with some of your claims.
    If the wine that Jesus drank was truly non-alcoholic, then why did Jesus get attacked as a “drunkard.” Luke 7:34 “The Son of Man has come eating and drinking, and you say, ‘Behold, a gluttonous man and a drunkard, a friend of tax collectors and sinners!’ Now, clearly the Lord never got drunk because this is a sin, however He apparently did drink alcohol, and His enemies knew about it.
    I say this as one who chooses not to drink any alcohol and is not ashamed to encourage other fallen sinners to abstain. However, the extreme that you took things to is clearly unbiblical. I encourage you to continue to take a stand as one who does not drink but at the same time understand and point out that drinking small amounts of alcohol is NOT sinful. We can encounter a sinful world better if we are true to the words of Scripture.

  37. I figured you would fight this issue..so I do know where you stand thats for sure.
    I am not “claiming” anything wrong. Actually, you are so in the wrong, you have no idea. My tone is not agressive here, Im saying this with love but its hard to tell so thats why this issue shouldnt even be brought up on our blogs.
    Look, you cant take scripture from scripture and turn it into doctrine. YOu have to read ALL of the Bible to understand this issue.
    Also…I am extreme when it comes to the rules of the Bible (Gods rules). It is black or white. There are no gray areas. You cant just decide to pick apart some scripture and decide for yourself that its ok “to drink a little alcohol”. Its funny how some people seem to “bend the rules” to allow themselves to drink or do whatever.We can excuse anything and argue anything just to get what we want, as I feel you are doing.
    You are wrong about this.
    Further, whether infact you OR I am in the wrong about Jesus drinking or that its right for us to drink….the other point is this: we need to stand apart from the world, be a light, be different. How in the world can people see a differance in us if were just the same as everyone else. Are we not supposed to be an example?
    FURTHER yet…. Id like you to answer this: do you think its a good idea to post this sensitive topic on your blog WHEN it can cause hurt, confusion, anger etc towards fellow brothers and sisters in the Lord?
    No matter how we respond, even if we appear like we can banter back and forth without getting upset…in our hearts we can get upset. In other words, you CAN hurt others, just by using your blog to distort scripture to your advantage and border-line attack or hurt another.
    I think you should delete your post before anyone reads all of it.
    Were not showing a good example to be arguing issues in the Bible. Consider blogging about something more encouraging and uplifting.
    God bless!
    Candy.

  38. Candy.
    I don’t know where to start on this one…

    erik knows where I stand on this subject as I am very conservative in drinking, meaning, I don’t.

    I will tell you that you need to understand the whole counsel of God’s word to understand why erik and why any of us blog on subjects we blog on. Meaning, look to the most famous passage on this issue of discussing doctrine:

    Iron sharpens iron,
    So one man sharpens another.
    Proverbs 27:17

    the interesting thing about this passage of Scripture is to understand that when iron sharpens iron it does not always feel comfortable, actually most of the times it isn’t comfortable. But just because it isn’t comfortable you are saying that we should not do it, but Scripture speaks completely against your “admonishment” towards erik.

    Titus 1:9 tells us that the elder is there to:

    exhort in sound doctrine and to refute those who contradict.

    1 Peter 3:15 tells us to always be ready to give a defense for the hope that lies within us, (and then it tells us how to do this) yet with gentleness and fear.

    I feel that erik’s blog and many others really help me to understand the positions that I do not adhere to. You may want to always just talk about things we “agree” on but that is not what Scripture tells us to do all the time…we must sharpen one another.

    I will leave you with a verse that is very telling in our times about your topic at hand:

    Do not reprove a scoffer, or he will hate you,
    Reprove a wise man and he will love you.
    Give instruction to a wise man and he will be still wiser,
    Teach a righteous man and he will increase his learning.
    Proverbs 9:8,9

    I think that when blogging is done correctly we can learn a lot from each other and will understand the opposing side’s argument FROM SCRIPTURE, so that we will actually start forming more unity instead of more division…

    May God bless you and your endeavors with His people and His word.

  39. Candy,

    Actually Jim did not post this I did. I am not going to reset all of the ground that we have covered over the last year on this issue, it is free for you to puruse and go through (see the alcohol category here)

    I do fear that you have crafted a different Jesus than what God has given us in the Bible. Not only did Jesus drink, but he made wine (a lot of it too!…upwards of 600 bottles of it if you do the math).

    Wine in the Bible is seen as a blessing from God (Ps. 104.15) and that which God has approved:

    Ecclesiastes 9:7 Go then, eat your bread in happiness and drink your wine with a cheerful heart; for God has already approved your works.

    At the heart of your issue seems to be a desire to be different than the world. This is good and true. However, it is never to be at the expense of cross. In other words, we do not achieve sanctification by inventing extrabiblical standards and imposing them on ourselves or others so that we might appear godly. This practice is what made the Pharisees such vile hypocrites and is the source of the Colossian heresy and the same vein of the additions in Galatians. Further, the Apostle Paul warns that forbidding things such as this is a mark of a false teacher (1 Tim. 4.1-10).

    You ask this question:
    FURTHER yet…. Id like you to answer this: do you think its a good idea to post this sensitive topic on your blog WHEN it can cause hurt, confusion, anger etc towards fellow brothers and sisters in the Lord?

    I think the only people who get upset are legalists who cause hurt and confusion while promoting an unbiblical worldview and understanding of the cross. Paul tells young Timothy to point out these things (1 Tim. 4.6). Quite frankly, even if I abstained from alcohol I would post something like this, because it is my mission in life to see that Jesus Christ gets unmitigated worship and glory. This is at the expense of legalists who crowd out the power of Jesus’ sanctifying work.

    So the quick answer is no. I will not remove this post. This blog is not all about alcohol but it is all about being more impressed with Jesus. Sometimes Candy to become more impressed with Jesus we need to kick down the legalistic fences that we have erected that are crowding our pure view of the cross.

  40. Candy,

    Dear person, I love you, I smile at your knowledge and ability, A lot of people make statements without considering the whole chapter, They take a verse out of context. Your are so right.

    Your statement “”we need to stand apart from the world, be a light, be different. How in the world can people see a difference in us if were just the same as everyone else. Are we not supposed to be an example?”””

    NO, we are not, and yes we are, You can not bring people to Christ with words only with actions, Our lives ARE the only Gospel some others may ever read.

    For some people an upright, straight backed, non swearing, drink admonishing, person is what God will use to lead people to Christ.

    For others it is a beer drinking, profanity using, Christian that will lead people to Christ.

    We are all sinners, we are all Hypocrites, no one is better or worse in Gods eyes. God will use our talents and our shortcomings to bring others to him.

    There was man in the upper peninsula if Michigan who would go into the bars on Sunday morning and lead people to church. He would tell others in bars of what God had done for him.

    Personally in the past, If a Bible thumper came to my door and asked me to join him I would have said kindly, “no”

    But If a man of the world, sitting on a bunk of lumber witnessed to me of Christ, his words have WEIGHT!

    Dear Candy, We are to be the light of the world, Yes indeed. But we are not to be that beacon on a far of mountain peek, God wants us to meet those he wants saved where they are, even in the mud.

    Is it not better to talk to a prostitute of the redeeming love of Jesus than to snub them? Is it not better to sit in a bar and discussing salvation than to ignore the very least of these?

    Come with me Candy, get a little dirty, swear a little, and have a beer, God will use you for his glory, where ever he plants you.

    Your Brother IN Messiah,
    Rick

  41. Rick,

    That is the most ridiculous post I’ve seen. Absolutely we should talk to prostitutes, alcoholics, etc and not snub them…but we do not participate in the sin! You encouraged her to sin?!(“get a little dirty, swear a little, etc”)

    How much sin does it take to grieve the Holy Spirit?

    About a bite of a fruit!

    Ezekiel 36:24-29…God says, “You WILL BE clean…You WILL keep my ordinances!…etc, etc.” I don’t see any doubt in those passages.

    He doesn’t say, “I will convert you and then I HOPE you cooperate with your sanctification.”

    There is no such thing as a carnal Christian!

    It’s amazing that today we think God has the power to save us but He doesn’t have the power to seperate us from sin.

    The greatest evidence that you have been truly born again is that you can see throughout your life God cleansing you from your filthiness…not continuing in your filthiness.

  42. Josh
    Encouraging sin, that would be bad, I agree, And I would not do that,
    I guess you misconstrued what I meant. Get a little dirty would be to come down form the Ivory towers to the street, Get you hands dirty so to speak. So many people LOOK DOWN on the least of these. To many people look through stained glass instead of the eyes of Jesus. they throw a few bucks down, and yet do not lay hands on those who need the hands of Christ.

    Swearing. Hmm, I seem to be weak in that area, When I get mad at Hypocrisy I tend to use a few course words. I do not condone that. Once while having coffle with some business men a man that knew that using the name of the Lord in vain bothered me a lot. So when I asked for him to pass the cream I used the most embarrassing words I could think of. I was wrong, but the effect was there. He stopped using the Lords name in vain for a while. I am but a carpenter and sometimes when you smack your thumb with a hammer, the blue words are there. No excuse, I know.

    I agree there is no such thing as a carnal Christian. Rev Paul Washer addresses this in a video that only to well answers that subject.

    http://64.34.176.235/sermons/SID14002.wmv

    I ask you if you truly believe what you say Josh, Then why has God not taken from me my sin so that I can be pure? I have prayed on this and put this in God’s hand many times, to no avail. I am tired of sin, and yet I continue in my sin.

    Am I saved? :) Yes I am, How can I tell? The Holy Spirit uses me in Evangelization, Uses me as a Disciple, The holy Spirit comes onto me, indwells in me and you can feel the power, You can see the effect on others, change others. That warm glow that courses through your body, The light in your eyes that show others that your there for them and not yourself.

    So far the only answer I have received in Prayer is this, God needs a course man for a course mission.
    I repent, turn away, and yet sin comes yet again. sigh.

    Josh I hope you go to this site, and watch Paul Washer, It cuts to the heart of sin. I belive with all my heart what he says about carnal christians.

    http://www.sermonindex.net/modules/mydownloads/viewcat.php?cid=442

    God Bless you my Brother, A follower of the way accepts rebuke and Hard Truths as a Blessing.

    In Messiah
    Rick

  43. Rick,

    Thank you for clarifying.

    I have listened to every single one of Paul Washer’s sermons at least 5 times each.

    Very edifying!

    Currently, my favorite sermon by Brother Paul is “Regeneration and Self Denial”. If you haven’t listened to that one, I would highly recommend it.

    Blessings.

  44. JOSH YOU WROTE
    ( the other blog seems to be broken)

    Rick,

    It is wonderful how God is using you in the prison ministry. It’s very convicting knowing that I am just like those men apart from God’s grace. Actually, I would be much, much worse than them if God took away His grace from me.

    Question for you…
    The men that have become saved…did you declare them saved? How did you lead them to Christ? Did they say a prayer with you? Can you elaborate?

    Left by Josh on March 18th, 2007

  45. Wow. Im not sure what more to say. I stand firm that you Erik, Rick, Jim whoever you all are that are confused with scripture …and, trying now to twist my words and read different things into what I was saying.
    I agree with some things. I stand firm with my beliefs that drinking is wrong, promoting is wrong and wine in the Bible times was not alcoholic…no matter what you might think or say to me, I just cant agree with that.
    I guess we will all find out in Heaven one day.
    I agree people can talk about things in blogworld but you cant shed light to others when your not exactly correct about what your saying.
    I still believe you are off in your beliefs. What Im concerned about is other people reading this and following your beliefs. BTW, I wasnt saying to delete your entire blog, just this post about drinking. Because its misleading.
    I’ll pray for you guys and I dont think I will be back here anymore because its a little upsetting now.

  46. Clowns or beer? What’s the difference? They both are taking something Biblical and comparing them to something carnal. They both are presented in a medium designed for the uplifting of God and the preaching of His word. they both make comparisons to things that some people find offensive. The only difference I see is that clowns are’t regarded as sinful to most Christians nor do they posses the ability to become physically addicting.

  47. are you serious??? they are clowns! The whole point of being irreverent is achieved in the big shoes and red noses…c’mon man.

    “posses the ability to become physically addicting..” re beer.

    Alcohol is not bad in and of itself….people are bad and they abuse things, whether it be beer, food, sex, or sleep.

  48. Erik,
    Totally serious. Clowns are (to some) silly, funny, irreverent maybe. Beer is (to some) foul tasting, addicting, not appropriate for kids, etc.

    So what’s the difference?

  49. Is it the act, or the message? In other words, If you were to serve communion with beer instead of wine, if the heart was pure and the intent the same, if the purpose was to represent Jesus blood shed on the cross, would that be irreverent? Considering your view of beer, I would guess not. Honestly, I can’t think of a reason why you would do that, but the idea is still there. If someone uses clowns to illustrate a message, providing that message is pure, how is that different than using beer to illustrate theology? I sincerely would like to know your reasoning. There doesn’t seem to be a difference to me. If it is because it was actually performed in the church building, think about this: what is the church, the building, or the people? if it is because big shoes and red noses seem absurd to you, think about this: alcohol is just as absurd to others. Where there is no mention of clowns in the Bible, there is reference to not getting drunk in the Bible. WHY IS USING CLOWNS NOT APPROPRIATE YET USING BEER IS?

  50. Javaguy,

    I cannot speak for Erik, but I can understand why on the one hand he would be disagree with someone making a church service into a circus on one hand and the idea that drinking alcohol is somehow sin. A lot of it comes back to what you see as the purpose of the Sunday service. If church service is really no more than entertaining the masses and providing motivating and inspirational messages, then you probably have no problem with people dressing up as clowns and making a show out of a service. If on the other hand you see the main purpose of a service as being the preaching and teaching the Word of God to the people of God, so that they may be built up into the image of Christ, then you probably have a problem with anything that might distract people from the Word.

    I might add that I don’t necessarily think that it is wrong for a church to hold something like a circus or carnaval type of event (or even for Christians to attend one), but I just don’t think it belongs at the Sunday service.

    As for the beer issue, the point is that Bible does not say that alcohol is sinful, it says drunkenness is sinful. Personally, I think I would have a problem if they tried to serve beer instead of wine for communion, because the passover, and therefore the last supper, involve wine not beer. I also would not recommend serving alcohol at a church function, because more than likely there will be people there that are not saved, who will get drunk, and it will likely have an effect the church’s reputation even if that person was not a member of the church.

  51. Justin,
    I see your point about Sunday morning services, but where in the Bible does it say that our teaching of the Word is supposed to be different on Sunday mornings than it is in any other forum where we are spreading the Word? Such as a blog designed to make us more impressed with Christ? Honor the Sabath day and keep it Holy? If it isn’t Holy on the Sabath, why would it be Holy any other time?

    My problem with the beer thing isn’t the sinfulness of it. I am known to have a beer now and then myself. My thoughts would have been the same if Eric had copared theology to chinese noodles. My point about some people considering it sinful was to compare Eriks feelings about clowns to other peoples feelings about beer. What is the difference between making a point with clowns vs. making a point with anything else other than the fact that Erik thinks big shoes and red noses are absurd and beer isn’t?

  52. I have not been on here very much the last few days…

    These people knew what they were doing, there was a point. Clowns are typically the picture of silliness and anything but serious. Sunday morning service, particularly the partaking of the sacraments would usually be considered sober. So for these jokers to do what they do conveys an attitude of jest and comedy to the celebration and proclamation of the death of Jesus. What is funny about that JG? And that is the point. They do not go together.

    I compared evangelical theology (weak and non-distinct) to American beer (weak and non-distinct) it is an analogy. Jesus also liked to use alcohol analogies to make spiritual points as well.

  53. Erik,
    My point is that there are many people who would consider your analogy just as much of a mockery as theirs and while I don’t think we have to bend over backward to accomodate everyone’s oppinions, I do think that there is a lesson to be learned about what we each feel is religious and sacriligious. I don’t know what happened that Sunday with the clowns, but I am willing to bet that they did bring the focus back around to Christ’s sacrifice and the importance and reverence that communion holds. I can’t say that Jesus would or would not have made analogies between clowns and Christianity because they didn’t exist back then. But I can’t see what would have stopped him AS LONG AS THE FOCUS WAS BROUGHT BACK TO WHAT WAS IMPORTANT. That is the key. I could be horribly wrong and you be ever so right about this whole thing because I don’t know that they did do that, but if they did, then I really don’t see the difference between what they did and what you have done. Jesus used shepherds as analogies quite often and if I am not mistaken, shepherds were not held in the highest opinion back then. He compared what they did and how they treated their flock to himself. Is it not possible to compare what a clown does and how they view their audience to Him as well? The point is the focus and the intent of the illustration, not the illustration itself. As I said above, are we to take communion and Sunday morning services more seriously than the rest of our Christianity? Or is it ok to be less serious about it as long as we hold these things to be sacred?

  54. Let the Bible speak:

    Romans 14:13-22
    “13Therefore let us stop passing judgment on one another. Instead, make up your mind not to put any stumbling block or obstacle in your brother’s way. 14As one who is in the Lord Jesus, I am fully convinced that no food[b] is unclean in itself. But if anyone regards something as unclean, then for him it is unclean. 15If your brother is distressed because of what you eat, you are no longer acting in love. Do not by your eating destroy your brother for whom Christ died. 16Do not allow what you consider good to be spoken of as evil. 17For the kingdom of God is not a matter of eating and drinking, but of righteousness, peace and joy in the Holy Spirit, 18because anyone who serves Christ in this way is pleasing to God and approved by men.

    19Let us therefore make every effort to do what leads to peace and to mutual edification. 20Do not destroy the work of God for the sake of food. All food is clean, but it is wrong for a man to eat anything that causes someone else to stumble. 21It is better not to eat meat or drink wine or to do anything else that will cause your brother to fall.

    22So whatever you believe about these things keep between yourself and God. Blessed is the man who does not condemn himself by what he approves. 23But the man who has doubts is condemned if he eats, because his eating is not from faith; and everything that does not come from faith is sin.”

    Just a reminder.

  55. I forgot to emphasize verse 22 which I think should put an end to this discussion.

  56. I’d have to say “amen” to Romans 14:13-22. I know that Irish Calvinist is not a fan of “personal experience” but I think a personal experience that doesn’t trump scripture can serve to be useful. I have been dissappointed by the lack of sensitivity to the alcohol issue here, especially in light of Romans 14. There are many alcohol problems in my extended family, including an uncle who was drinking so heavily that he fell face down in a puddle after walking home from drinking at a friend’s house. He was found 4 days later dead. My brother has a big problem with alcohol and is a professing believer. Hearing this, I would be concerned with the license he might feel he’d get, hearing alcohol promoted so freely. I obstain from alcohol for the very fact that it has plagued my family. It would be insensitive for me to drink or promote it around those who can’t handle it. No I don’t think drinking alcohol is a sin, but in light of Romans 14:22, and for the concern of the weaker brethern, let us keep it to ourselves or be found in sin for promoting it openly.

  57. well I cannot recall the overall theme of the comments here but want to quickly address something in the last couple here.

    1) I am not aiming to be cavelier in my view of alcohol. I am just trying to be biblical, which does not seem to forbid.

    2) In addition to not forbidding alcohol, except in specific examples for specific people and times, the Bible presents alcohol as positive even in light of the potential for abuse. Jesus himself does not blush to use alcohol for illustrations as well as the object of his miracles and the contents of his cup at meals and social gatherings.

    3) the weaker brother is not the one who drinks too much (ie the drunk) it is the one who thinks that drinking is a sin (ie the one who does not drink). This is commonly confused. There are no examples of Christian alcoholics or drunks in the bible but folks who have been redeemed out of a drunken lifestyle to be controlled by the Holy Spirit. A drunk is not a Christian but one who is headed to hell (cf. 1 Cor. 6.9ff; Gal. 5.19ff).

    Jeremy, I hate to hear of the devastation of sin in your family. I can’t imagine the grief that this has caused. But at the same time Jesus ‘promoted it openly’ and did not keep it to himself (cf. Matt. 11.19). It is not the beer or wine that kills people (ultimately) but the sinful abuse of something (akin to food). I would challenge you as to what the most biblical thing to do would be 1) promote an unbiblical worldview (alcohol is bad) so I abstain, 2) tell family and friends that the abuse of alcohol is deadly and the tangible example of the perversion of God’s gifts (while also perhaps abstaining–for whatever reason, taste or preference, etc…). We want to love God supremely, honor his word unflinchingly, and love our neighbors (family) as ourselves…

    Hopefully this makes sense and does not sound cavalier.

    erik

  58. Erik,
    I honestly don’t think our views differ that much on this topic. My conviction, however, comes from vs.22. We are told that these things should be kept between ourselves and God. I have to fully admit that most of your original post was fine. You were comparing theologies to types of beers, not promoting beer itself. In that, you did nothing wrong. It was the discussions that followed which I felt were not appropriate because they clearly were not kept between God and the individuals. To be fair, the same goes for those who spoke against alcohol. The Bible says WHATEVER you think about these things, both positive and negative. I am curious what you think about vs.22. Should we openly discuss our thoughts on the sinfulness or lack there-of of alcohol or not? Like I said, I have come to realize that most of your original post was not wrong because you were not necessarily saying that alcohol was sinful or not sinful, you were just making a comparison. But what about the discussion that followed?

  59. I appreciate you referencing Rom.14. My understanding of v.22 is not that we have a silence about ‘alcohol’ either in practice or speech but that we do not unkindly brandish our convictions upon those who are weak in faith. Kind of like calling someone who does not drink “a stupid immature legalist” or something and then conversely the one who thinks it is sin calling the one who enjoys liberty “a drunken sinner”. I could be wrong, but in briefly looking through the posts that followed the statements re alcohol being ‘ok’ were in response to unbiblical statements in the comments, some of which were flat out inflammatory.

    BTW, I don’t think that v.22 calls Christians to not ever talk about alcohol like it is taboo or something, but rather to be careful and sensitive of others and their convictions.

  60. Thanks for the response. I see your reasoning, but I’m not yet sure if I whole-heartedly agree, though I doubt it is worth arguing over.

  61. Hi Erik:
    I agree with your reasoning about Rom 14. Calvinism IS the Gospel and anything that contradicts it including Arminianism, softy-Toffee Evangellyfishism, and even the current Reformed denoms of our day who have sold out Christ to the yoke of the law ain’t the Gospel.

    Let us as modern-day christians that have the same faith as Luther and Calvin have the courage and conviction to stand and say so. Oh, and by the way, if we have faith and the indwelling of the Holy Ghost, we will! Praise God.

  62. For great flavour and tast try Beck’s Beer.
    Evenkeeled and delicious!

  63. Im catholic (the vodka of religions), hey its not nice to throw things, stop it. Anyway, I dabble in the um?, other faiths just because they’re there and i can’t get enough. A catholic jesus freak!!!! Y’alls arguing apples and oranges. The important thing is we’re all getting drunk!!! Woohoo keg at JC’S!!! My main dabbling (this is a fairly light hearted blog so i’ll say it) in the bastard religions (please don’t take offense, i’m poking fun at our ridiculous differences) is a syndicated show out of Arkansas called “The Sheppards Chapel”. I dont even know what faith Pastor Murray is, but I respect him because in the Q & A part he specifically says he won’t answer questions about faiths only faith. Can’t we all get along? By the way for the record, if GOD was buying a six-pack. It’d be Natural Ice, twice as strong half the price. It’s 4 times the beer.

  64. Great post! I’m a little thirsty now…
    I must admit I enjoy light beer, however I do not enjoy light evangelicalism. I’ll stick with the light beer and the Calvinistic theology!

Trackbacks and Pingbacks:

  1. Kubecki.com » Blog Archive » Random Thoughts - 2/16/07 - February 16, 2007

    [...] Erik Raymond thinks a lot of American evangelicalism is like lite beer [...]

  2. ENGAGING CULTURE » A Beautiful Analogy - March 28, 2007

    [...] I can only wish that I wrote this. I have in fact thought it before. However, I lacked the time, talent, and knowledge of beer to write it myself. With that being said, enjoy this great analogy between beers and theological persuasions by Erik Raymond (a.k.a. The Irish Calvinist) People have described some of the contemporary practices within evangelicalism as being driven by consumerism. We can see evidences of this with many of the popular devices that are employed, whether it be in the altering of vocabulary, the transition from preaching to conversations, the emphasis upon felt needs rather than spiritual needs, the polling of unbelievers as to how church should be conducted, a deemphasis upon doctrine, a redefinition of Jesus as weak and effeminate, and an idolatrous portrayal of a God who’s love is able to trump his righteousness. Regrettably, all of these things are common today. [...]