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!