Theology on Tap

Many Christians have a problem with alcohol. Not a drinking problem, mind you. But I believe the issue of alcohol has become a major one within the church. Not because of its importance, theologically or practically. But because it’s such an obvious taboo. At least within my home denomination, the Seventh-day Adventist Church in Denmark, but I suspect in other places as well.

My mind turned to this subject once again when I came across Blaqenedwyte’s brilliant post, Theology on Tap. Controversial, indeed, but thought-provoking as well. I mean, why not?

Historically, most evangelical Christians have shunned alcohol, but none so vigorously as the SDA Church. I will glady give all due respect to the health message of our pioneers which was really ahead of its time in the late 19th century. Many people have met God through this focus and continue to do so in some parts of the world.

But times change, and Adventists no longer have a monopoly on healthy living–far from it. The stance of total abstinence from alcohol of any source may have been helpful in many cases, but does it really need to be a cardinal point any more? Furthermore, I personally find no Biblical mandate for complete abstinence.

This is dangerous ground to tread. Why? Because it has become a case of black and white (or maybe it’s always been). Nobody wants to talk about it. Sure, there’s talk. But no reality check. The embarassingly low membership rate of the Danish Abstinence Union (Dansk Afholdsunion) speaks for itself. It seems as if we’ve all closed our eyes to the fact that a large portion of our fellow Adventists find it perfectly all right to enjoy a glass of wine with a good meal. Maybe people are afraid to wake up and find that a couple of drinks is actually not the end of the world and never will be.

On the other hand, the minority who take this position (no official figures here–maybe it’s even 50-50) don’t want to bother raising the issue because of the sometimes very hostile remarks they’ve become accustomed to hearing whenever the curtain is drawn back just a little bit. Better to just stay silent, then.

Is this really a problem? Perhaps not. But there shouldn’t be dishonesty within a church, not even on relatively minor issues as this. Sometimes, especially among young people, it’s as if there’s an invisible line dividing the doers and don’ters, each group frowning upon the other’s choices. That certainly can’t be healthy.

United in Diversity. Sounds good, right. The question may be, how diverse should we be? But before we can answer that, we need a reality check. The real question to ask is: How diverse ARE we and what do we do about it?


Author: Kenneth Mollerup Birch

Living north of Copenhagen, Denmark. MA in Information Science. Interests include communication, internet, sociology, language, politics, religion, theology, travel, music, and food.

7 thoughts on “Theology on Tap”

  1. Ken, you bring up some very good points on the honesty within a body of believers as well as the desire to be united in Christ. I agree 100% that the consumption of alcohol is not a salvation issue and never will be. I think if Christians can show others how to drink responsibly, perhaps an opening to evangelize might open up. Great post and thanks for the link!

    Kenny (blaqenedwyte blog)

  2. I easily becomes a way to indicate that you are among the really holy adventists.

    If DAU would not demand total abstinence as a membership requirement – but rather soberness – I think danish adventists would be quite united in supporting a work to counter the problems of alcohol in society.

  3. When I first learned that our church leaders didnt drink any alcohol, I said to myself who have I got myself tied up with here. I had been at my church for alittle while and watched for any wierdness I didnt see any and felt the Holy Spirit around me. As I grew in he Lord I asked questions. One of the questions was why didnt the leaders and their wives drink? I was thinking just like what Kenny blogged about, that christians could show others how to drink responsibly. The answer given me was one I think on frequently “Romans 14:12-13” So then each of us shall give account of himself to God. Therefore let us not judge one another anymore, but rather resolve this, not to put a stumbling block or a cause to fall in our brother’s way.

  4. Setting aside religion for just a moment… We must be soooooo very careful with the alcohol issue. Alcohol is an addictive substance that destroys lives. “Millions” of people have died because of the use of alcohol (drinking and driving, alcohol poison, violence, etc.). “Millions” of people cannot even take a first drink, or else they will be addicted for life.

    With that said, we as Adventist Christians have a loving, heavenly Father, who has blessed us with the Word of God and the Spirit of Prophecy to guide us through the minefields of life. Satan is laughing his head off, when he hears professed Christians talking about how it is ok for them to use his addictive substance (alcohol and other drugs). As we truly surrender and sacrifice all to Jesus, we will begin to reflect His wonderful character.

    I’m not going to quote a bunch of scripture and Spirit of Prophecy… go study for yourself and allow the Holy Spirit to transform your life. May the good Lord bless you with a desire to be like Him.


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