Holt ministry celebrates its love of God - and beer

Discussion in '2008 Archive' started by Linda64, Mar 7, 2008.

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  1. Linda64

    Linda64
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    Church brews are 'making a statement'

    Matthew Miller
    Lansing State Journal

    Once a month, Brett Maxwell gets together with a group of guys, or mostly guys, from his church to talk about God and beer.

    And, where the beer is concerned, it's not all talk.

    The church in question is Riverview Community Church in Holt.

    The group, one of the church's many ministries, is RiverBrew, a place where believers can come "to worship God through appreciation of his creation" and "to resume the Church's historical role as making the finest beer in town," as the group's Web site puts it.

    "The goal of it is really to be an entry point to the church," said Maxwell, a 23-year-old ministry leader at the church, a homebrewer and a fan, lately, of stouts and India pale ales.

    "It's intimidating for someone to walk into a church having never been there," he said. "But if a friend invites them to go hang out, have a brew or two, and hang out with some of the guys from church, that's a much less intimidating environment."

    The group, started in May, also serves "a secondary function of making a statement about what we believe the Bible says about alcohol consumption," he said.

    And what they believe, in a nutshell, is that drinking alcohol is OK, even something to be celebrated, but getting drunk is not.

    'Culturally fluid'

    Riverview, a 2,100-member, non-denominational evangelical church, is generally theologically conservative.

    "We take strong stands where we see the Bible teaching on something," said Dan Price, one of the church's five pastors.

    But the church is also what Price called "culturally fluid." Service times have an "ish" after them. The music at services includes bluegrass and rock. Jeans and T-shirts are considered appropriate attire.

    "Where the Bible really isn't telling us what to do, we let freedom reign," he said.

    Culturally fluid or not, Price said, church leaders knew "some people's hackles would likely be raised" by a group so intimately associated with alcohol.

    But the church has ministry groups for archers, for runners, and for people who play strategy games, among many others.

    In the end, Price said, "we just saw this as another group where, instead of a bunch of guys sitting around wondering if people are going to ask about their feelings, they get to do something they'd enjoy doing anyway and also talk about Jesus."

    Which is more or less how it worked for Gary Rudnicki.

    "I'm not a big drinker," said the Holt man, who attends RiverBrew with his wife, Kim, "but the idea of making beer and doing it in a Christian atmosphere piqued my curiosity."

    He's enjoyed the conversations and, in moderation, the brews.

    "God put a lot of cool things on this earth," Rudnicki said.

    Rooted in history

    Early Protestant reformers Martin Luther and John Calvin didn't just tolerate alcohol, said the Rev. Jim West, author of "Drinking with Calvin and Luther!" "They reveled in it as a gift of God," he said.

    Luther "would talk about drinking wine and beer as imparting joy to the human heart," he said. Calvin said it was permissible to drink wine "to make us merry."

    And for centuries, he said, drinking was basically a non-issue in Protestant churches. In the United States, opposition to alcohol in Protestant churches didn't begin in earnest until the 1800s, growing up around the temperance and, later, prohibition movements.

    Still, many Protestants believe that drinking alcohol is a sin.

    David Garver, the pastor of Walker Bible Church in Lansing, is among them.

    "When it comes to alcohol, according to the word of God, a believer ought not touch it at all," said Garver, who refers to himself as "an independent fundamental King James Bible-believing Baptist."

    "That's just a fact."

    As for, say, Jesus turning water into wine during the wedding feast at Cana, Garver said the answer is simple: "The wine he made was not an alcoholic beverage."

    And, after checking through some notes, he rattled off a list of 10 reasons why that had to be the case, ranging from "The Lord Jesus did not come to cast a stumbling block before anyone," to "The Lord Jesus Christ would not have gotten glory from making drunk people drunker."

    Maxwell has a different reading of scripture.

    "Psalm 104, in particular, talks about it being a blessing. Isaiah 25 says essentially in heaven there will be a banquet and Jesus will be serving wine," he said, adding, though, that "the Bible is very clear that drunkenness is not the way God would have us live."

    Talking moderation

    Among other things, he said, RiverBrew is a place to talk about and model moderation.

    "One analogy we make often is, using the Bible as our authority, we see that there are a lot of people in our culture who don't use sex appropriately," he said. "And yet you don't find churches saying Christians should have no sex ever."

    There is a half-irreverent question hanging over an enterprise such as RiverBrew: What would Jesus drink?

    Maxwell, as it happened, had a less-than-irreverent answer.

    "I believe he would sit down with the people in the bar, and he would drink what they were drinking," he said, "and he would be happy to do that."
     
  2. sag38

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    Let the condemnation flow!!!
     
  3. Revmitchell

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    Proverbs 20:1 Wine is a mocker, strong drink a brawler; And whosoever erreth thereby is not wise

    Neither Pastors nor churches are perfect. Taking up those things that scripture speaks so clearly against is far from above reproach. This dabbling with alcohol is the equivilent to a man and woman who are married to other people going out to lunch or dinner or just meeting in the park. The justification is that they are just two people innocently meeting as friends. The real danger is that it goes much farther than that. Such behavior is not appropriate regardless of the supposed intentions. The potential is that many lives will be put into turmoil. Most would agree that such a risk is unnecesary and could be perceived to be more than it is. Thus failing to be above reproach.

    Alcohol is no different. Alcohol destroys the lives of many people. The potential for destruction is the same as supposed innocent liasons between men and women. And it fails to meet the requirrements to be above reproach. The drunks in the bars can look to churches who take part in this failed behavior and say "the church does it so I am ok". This brings the church into a reproach. Its testimony is no better than those in the bars.

    To futher exacerbate this sinnful behavior it has become a tool to "evangelize" by drawing a crowd through alcohol. Christ commanded us to go out and be a testimony of His death, burial, and resurrection. He did not command us to go out and pass out a six pack. We need to win them with the gospel. And in truth such a statement can be misleading. For it is not us who actually does the "winning". Only the Holy Ghost can reach into man's heart. And the gospel is the means by which He does that.

    Drawing crowds by way of worldly and secular means does just that. It draws a crowd. But the crowd is looking to come to God by their own way. The rich young ruler made an attempt to do that. Christ would not except his terms. The only acceptable means of reaching out to a lost and dying world is by way of the Word of God. "Faith cometh by hearing, and hearing by the word of God" Romans 10:17

    "God help us to know the difference between a crowd and a church" Dr. David Allen
     
    #3 Revmitchell, Mar 7, 2008
    Last edited by a moderator: Mar 7, 2008
  4. saturneptune

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    Several points.

    First of all, alcohol threads need to cease. It has been battered to death, and has become a mockery.

    The idea of using alcohol in a church is trying to mix the world with God. It does not work. The same principle holds (although to a different degree) by spending untold amounts of money on elaborate entertainment centers and recreation gimics to attract people to a church, instead of using the money for missions, or to help the poor.

    Finally, and I don't think this point will ever get through some thick heads, abstinence from alcohol is a result of a Spirit lead life, putting trust in Him to lead you each day and make you more like Jesus. In my life, that has lead to abstinence.

    As shown above, that is directly opposed to memorizing rules based on one's opinion of Scripture, and abstaining based on their own will. That is what the Pharisees did. Neither you, nor I, have the right to dictate to another brother or sister in Christ how the Spirit should have lead them just because it disagrees with you.
     
  5. webdog

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    You would have real problems with wine being used as an OT sacrifice, then. How dare we deem "worldly" what God does not!

    I bet those who rail against this man and his church have no problems with coffee in their churches! Can we say "hypocrite"?
    ...and in my life, it has lead AWAY from it.
     
    #5 webdog, Mar 7, 2008
    Last edited by a moderator: Mar 7, 2008
  6. just-want-peace

    just-want-peace
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    Maybe I've just been out of touch lately, but since when did coffee and alcohol become comprable?
     
  7. standingfirminChrist

    standingfirminChrist
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    When people began trying to justify their desire for that which God forbids.
     
  8. Revmitchell

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    They are not unless you need to reach to make a point that is invalid.
     
  9. KenH

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    A Christian is permitted to drink alcoholic beverages in moderation.
     
  10. saturneptune

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    You totally missed my point.
     
  11. standingfirminChrist

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    Scripture please?
     
  12. KenH

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    Christ Jesus having turned water into an alcoholic beverage - wine - should be sufficient proof for any Christian.
     
  13. standingfirminChrist

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    The Bible does not say that wine in John 2 was alcoholic.

    You are grasping, KenH.
     
  14. EdSutton

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    A Prophet, I presume.

    But I have noticed there is a 'roundup' of "the usual suspects" in progress, apparently.

    If we can find and encourage Martin Luther to join in, maybe he will baptize all of us in beer. :D

    Ed
     
    #14 EdSutton, Mar 8, 2008
    Last edited by a moderator: Mar 8, 2008
  15. saturneptune

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    It is really not a good idea to call someone a hypocrite. This is an exchange of ideas. Not agreeing does not define hypocrite.

    It being against the policy of this board, I wouldn't do it again.

    Have a nice weekend.
     
  16. Palatka51

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    I am not an advocate of the use of alcohol as a beverage. As medicinal use yes. As a replacement for non potable water maybe.

    One thing we have to remember about the European culture of alcohol consumption, in the Church and in the world, is The Plague. To drink the water would have been certain death but to brew beer and store wine which you could keep for a period of time without spoiling was in reality a godsend. Beer brewing saved many lives in those days and the storing of fruit juices was increased by allowing it to ferment. Lives were saved and for generations they freely drank beer & wine, adult and child alike. Until they realized that they had to clean up their act of the disposal of human waist into the streets and into the rivers. It is ironic that France was the first to build sewer systems (sense ancient Rome) that cleaned up their cities and the people became more healthy very fast.

    The European culture of alcohol drinking continues to this day.

    European settlers that came to the New World did not change their ways either. Even though the water here was pristine, and as cities grew they avoided the sewage runoff that plagued their European brethren. However the use of alcohol was quite common way into the 20th century. Alcoholic use bread violence in the cities and in the west as the people moved east to west.
    Much like in Europe, the first settlers of the west did not always have a ready source of fresh water and brewing beer in the plains was a way to preserve a potable beverage.

    As saloons and pubs throughout American became the hot spot of violence and the use of alcohol began to break up families and factories clamped down because of deadly accidents, alcohol intolerance began to spread.

    Churches began to speak against its use as a beverage of convince. Governments began to clamp down on its use and laws against its brewing my private citizens made American culture ripe for the pickings of major gang activities. The citizenry was so hooked on alcohol that they would defy any law passed to suppress its production.

    When an evil that is wreaking society is identified, the Church would be neglecting its duty if it did not preach against its use and distribution. Its use in the Church would be hypocritical if that Church has raised its voice against its use.

    If a person that drinks beer or wine that attends a fellowship that is intolerant to its use, they then should seek a fellowship that does not see its use as an evil to society. Instead you have folks causing dissensions that the world looks at and says "If that is what Church life is like I will have no part in it."

    I think that it just might be a good idea to have a church that has a micro brewery in its basement. It will soon run like an old west saloon. and instead of a Preacher of a Church in opposition having to preach to his congregation about the evils of alcohol, all a Preacher has to do is point to the church across the street and scold them for their sins. :smilewinkgrin:

    Then just maybe the world will see a difference in a life that is set aside for Christ.
     
  17. Palatka51

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    I will so far as to state that all the wine in the wedding was not alcoholic.
     
  18. dragonfly

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    What is this assumption based upon?

    The fact that the Pharisees accused Jesus of being a "wine-bibbler" convinces me that what Jesus and the disciples drank was, in fact, alcoholic. I don't think anyone could have gotten drunk on grape juice.
     
  19. Palatka51

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    The fact that the wine that was miraculously made by Jesus and that it was introduced at the end of the feast after all the provided wine was consumed.



    The Pharisees were always looking for a way to discredit our Lord and Savior. They accused him in association to embarrass Him before the multitudes that followed Him. The Pharisee did not know what He drank as they were too "righteous" to go in with Him while He was in the house of publicans and sinners.
     
  20. KenH

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    It is you, my friend, who grasps at straws on this subject.
     
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