The Search for God and Guinness.

I recently  finished a great book titled The Search for God and Guinness. It was recommended (thanks Jordan!) to me as a great look into the history of beer and the faith and generosity of the Guinness family. I love both topics (obviously God more than beer) and to find them both in the same title, I had to check it out.

Stephen Mansfield’s (author) primary objective was to explore Arthur Guinness, the Guinness family tree and what motivated their philanthropic tendencies. With 3 main branches of this family, broken down by profession, brewing, banking, and ministry, he expands on how they made such significant impacts on their world and circle of influence. In a nutshell, the Guinness family were faith driven, very giving and sensitive to the needs that they saw in their peers, their country (Ireland), and ultimately their world. Doers of the Word, not just hearers. Really it’s an amazing story of overcoming overwhelming adversity by going above and beyond to selflessly help those in need for now over two and one-half centuries. Read it! Be inspired.

One of the most intriguing aspects of the book, and the point of this post, was the history of beer and it’s support by the church.

Hold on, WHAT?!

Yes, beer, it’s brewing and social celebration was supported throughout history by Christian people! I don’t remember any flannel-graph beer mugs in my Sunday school lessons! Mind you, drunkenness was not nor has been supported in scripture, but the responsible consumption of fermented goodness, yes. Really, not until the 1920’s and America’s short vindication of all alcohol with the act of prohibition, did the church begin it’s no tolerance mission. Much changed in the church during this and the preceding decades in the way of legalism and is still suffering through this sickness today. Not enough room to go there in this post.

From it’s beginnings in ancient Egypt, to the early church, the reformation and beyond, beer has been an integral part of the social scene for God’s people. Jesus’ first miracle was in creating 180 gallons (900 bottles) of the best wine ever, out of water, for the attendees of a wedding TO ENJOY. Um, hello?

Many famous godly men including the legendary Martin Luther, John Wesley, John Calvin, Jonathan Edwards and other spiritual giants of the past were advocates for beer. In fact, they constantly thanked God for the provision of the frothy brew and likened it to one of His richest blessings. Pints were shared in taverns while discussing theology and the mercy of God. Kegs of beer were sent as gifts and stipends to preachers of the Word.

When questioned for his freedom in Christ displayed in his acceptance of beer and wine by the strict rulers in the Roman Catholic faith, Martin Luther (who by-the-way is one of the sole reasons you and I have a Bible today) responded, “Do not suppose that abuses are eliminated by destroying the abused. Men can go wrong with wine and women. Shall we then abolish and prohibit women?” Love it! Christ did not save us for a life of religious regulations, He saved us from a life of religious regulations.

So much more to the book than this, so much. Get it already! Read it! Be inspired.

The Spirit of God, some end-of-year self-motivation and this book have inspired me in so many ways; here are three.

1. One of our goals this year is to be more philanthropic (giving) of our time and resources. It’s a shame to fathom the amount of time and money we waste on ourselves and I’m burdened by this reality in our own lives. The Guinness brewery was the highest paying employer in Dublin in times of the countries greatest depressions. Their company benefits out-weighed what Google, Microsoft, and Apple can provide to their employees today without doubt. With the generous support of the Guinness board and the vision of the brewery’s doctor to eradicate sub-par living conditions, they were successful in providing healthy dwellings, education, and quality social activities for not only the thousands of Guinness workers but changed the whole city for the good. All with the heart of a servant for the betterment of humanity. As Jesus states in Luke 12, “To whom much has been given, much is required.” I have been given TONS (not financially per se) and it’s my turn.

2. I am impressed by how Arthur’s family was so missional minded. He began, his children followed, many lives were changed as a result. Modeled behavior at its finest. One of the greatest evangelists in history was Henry Guinness (a grandson of Arthur), who influenced more great men like Charles Spurgeon, Dwight Moody and William Booth (founder of the Salvation Army). I have been blessed with great Christian legacies and intend to pass that on as far as my influence goes. Both Traci and I come from grandfathers then fathers in ministry. Radically, I want to fan this flame and inspire others for Christ. I am blessed to lead my family in this quest. Now more than ever, radical is right.

3. I enjoy great beer and wine and am saddened by the dark stigma that surrounds the topic. To be grouped into the “drinkers” category in reference to those who abuse it, saddens me. I am free in Christ and am so thankful for ALL of His blessings. All things God creates are sacred. I love Dr. Pepper but only drink it on occasion, mainly because as they have so many empty calories. Likewise, beer is a special and restricted treat. [Side-note, dark beer has been proven over and over again that it’s actually great for your health “Guinness is good for you.” when consumed in moderation, Dr. Pepper however isn’t.] From this point forward, “Ryan drinks beer and wine.” is not a secret. By the way, I homebrew and am looking into hosting fellowship opportunities involving deep Bible studies and brewing. ;) To God be the glory.

In celebration of finishing the book and the revelations gained, there was only one thing that had to be done to properly finalize the impartation. I got out a tall glass. Rinsed it with cold water. Pried open a Guinness Extra Stout. Poured the beautiful, rich, dark-stout-goodness into the glass and let the micro-bubble carbonation rise while forming the tan colored, cream-textured head at the top. I brought the glass of Guinness to my mouth, parted my lips, tilted it and partook. Yum! Espresso and dark chocolate flavors accompanied by berry like bitterness from the English hops surround my tongue with a touch of dust-like dryness that developed through the swallow [smile]. All in honor my great Creator, his man, his faith, his likeminded family and their amazing influence.

Cheers to my God and to Guinness!

9 Replies to “The Search for God and Guinness.”

  1. Awesome! I love this post and find the history you described of the Guinness family so neat and intriguing! We aren’t keen to the taste of beer or wine, we have tasted here and there but I always end up gagging; and both of Justin’s grandpa’s were alcoholics so he prefers to stay away due to addictive tendencies he knows he is pre-disposed to. But I have always thought the stigma of drinker = bad Christians to be bizarre. That’s how I was raised and never really understood the reasoning… still don’t. I am going to get this book, several in our church would be very interested to read it, as most who attend are drinkers of the fermentation yuck (as I call it, LOL!) and struggle with the whole drinking and being a new Christian and what that means for them. Thanks for sharing this!

  2. Jennifer Dancer. you rock star blogger!
    to each his own right? i hate oatmeal! LOL. i totally commend the recognition and efforts to stay away from areas of weakness. to not have that conviction can be alarming. i really wish this were more spoken of. many americans are obese and cannot control their desired for overeating, yet ultimately return to all-you-can-eat restaurants. and i love that george “w” bush said the same thing when he took office. he had issues with alcohol and pledged to not partake in his area of leadership. that’s leadership at it’s best. finding the things that has fault your mission and dismiss them from their influence. definitely all things are permissible but not all thing beneficial comes into play in this area.
    you guys are awesome and we think of you often. blessings!

  3. I just read about this in the Focus on the Family magazine called Citizen. Yep, I’m a dork…read about all things political. It has been a really great reference to many of the issues facing us in America today and how to apply Godly/Biblical principals.

    There was a an article in October’s issue about Christians influencing the government and he stated “you can’t legislate morality.” I enjoyed this point because, on the topic of Prohibition, he goes on to explain that it is impossible to enforce moral standards on a population when those standards are more strict than the standards found in the Bible itself.

    Here is the whole thing: http://www.citizenlink.com/2010/10/the-bible-and-the-citizen/

    Great words Bro!

    1. awesome Christy! great article! i think most of us keep missing the main point to this Jesus “thing” and discipleship. quite simply it’s “model Him” and love as He loved. for some reason (maybe physiologically) we feel the need to regulate and order it all as if we are doing Him a favor. HA! i can’t help but to come back to the reality that Jesus came to destroy the political non-scense and out-right legalism of His day. He spoke honest truth and many hated Him. He did not back down but rose to the challenge. He accepted it and conquered it and for that we are forever indebted. “model Him” by loving others as He loved, that’s the main thing. i love the awakening for some many who are finally getting this in His church. to Him be the glory, honor and praise.

      you are a rock and i am so proud of you :)

  4. Great read my friend and brother–

    It is depressing on how so much of an overwhelming stigma is unleashed through the church (and) in the modern day against drinking but as you have pointed out, it was meant to be enjoyed aka water into wine. But that in turn reflects ones own ability to interpret (or “make up”) one’s own views from what the Bible is portraying.

    I personally do not know what I would be like it I didn’t enjoy fine beverages. We should never be associated with just drinkers (or worse alcoholics). It’s a learning experience and then when you get into pairing its a whole new game. I think there are just not enough words to separate the good and bad here.

    I just looked up Merriam Webster Thesaurus and looked up both the words “alcoholic” and “good” to see how many ways there are to describe the two. The actual word “alcoholic” had exactly 19 synonyms while the word “good” had ~263 synonyms. So I do think there just isn’t a word to describe who we are, since there currently is no middle ground. I will continue to deem the phrase, “Purveyors of Fine Beverages” as a solid title for ourselves.

    Love ya bro, great read, and seems to be a great book.

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