Look out! Liberal brethren who have copied every other false religious practice from their denominational friends will undoubtedly seek to quench their thirst for adopting the latest popular spiritual craze by setting up a "Theology on Tap" church at a local tavern. Yes, according to the Peoria (IL) Journal Star (February 15th of this year), one of the innovators of this idea said: "Since there didn't seem to be much going on in a religious way for young Catholic adults, we thought it would be a good idea to bring religion where they gather" (all information is from page E6). "Where they gather" is in taverns or pubs.
Next to the title of this article in the middle of the page (in the "Faith & Values" section of the newspaper) appear these words: "Beer and the Bible? Why not! A new Peoria group lets young Catholics discuss their religion in a relaxed setting." It was bound to happen sooner or later. "Churches" have become more and more accommodating to keep their members in the past few years; this is simply one further step in becoming like the world. After all, if "gospel" rock and "gospel" rap songs can merge religion and popular culture, why not join booze with brethren?
Nearly thirty years ago this writer and another member visited a Herald of Truth contact. This husband and wife made glowing comments about the program, noting how different is was from other religious broadcasts. We could not, however, interest them in a Bible study or in attending worship with us. This couple enjoyed the privacy of their own home--and the amenities available: They were particularly fond of an alcoholic version of the fruit of the vine. Upon our departure, it was observed that they did not seem like fertile soil: "They seem to be content to watch their religious Sunday shows while they sip their wine and get soused," was our analysis. It seemed totally incongruous back then, but this couple was actually ahead of their time!
What might we expect to see next--Bible studies amidst slot machines in casinos? Perhaps discussion groups could meet for lessons in theology at certain tables in strip clubs. Or maybe someone could arrange for booths at the next Woodstock revival so that young people could smoke marijuana while they study. After all, we need to bring religion to where people are.
One woman said that "she believes the concept of joining alcohol and prayer is condoned by the Catholic Church and the pope." If so, it would not be the only thing he is in error on, but more will be said on their theology later. This lady insisted that some people "may be thirsty for the knowledge as well as a beer." Imagine someone proudly saying five years from now: "I became a devout Catholic down at the local tavern"!
This approach seems fraught with problems. First, there are some pragmatic considerations. How much are people going to remember while they are imbibing something that specifically affects the brain? Presumably, if each person consumed only a small quantity of alcohol, he would remember the material presented, but what about those who might consume five or six beers? How well are their thought processes going to function? How long will it be until this headline appears: "Drunk Driver Causes Accident on His Way Home from Bible Study"?
Of course, that possibility could be remedied by having one member of the group not drink. "Have a beer tonight, Sam?" "No thanks, I'm the designated driver for my Bible study group." Great! Is this the latest example of the old adage, "If you can't beat 'em, join 'em"? How long will it be until someone writes a book: Drug Evangelism--How to Convert People to Christ by Exploiting Their Vices?
The topic for this past Wednesday evening (Feb. 22) was "Stump the Bishop," which consisted of a question-and-answer session. That should not have been too difficult. Here are a few questions that someone should have asked:
"Why do you call yourself father when Jesus said not to call anyone on earth father?" (Matt. 23:9).
"How can you call yourself a bishop when the New Testament teaches that a bishop must be the husband of one wife?" (1 Tim. 3:1-5).
"How can the pope have authority on earth when Jesus said He had all authority on earth?" (Matt. 28:18).
"Why is the word oinos (wine) never used for the Lord's Supper in the New Testament (the fruit of the vine is the expression used)?"
The fact is that Christians are to be sober and vigilant--especially in detecting Satan's ways of reaching them (1 Peter 5:8). We are to be watchful for the Lord's return (Matt. 24:42). We are to exercise self-control (Gal. 5:22-23; 2 Peter 1:5-7). How can we do any of those things while imbibing something that immediately affects our minds, reasoning abilities, and good judgment?
Going to "where the people are" ought to have some limitations. Can anyone imagine that Paul, who tried to be all things to all people (1 Cor. 9:22), would have booked passage on a cruise ship for nudists (yes, they do have some)? How difficult it is to call people to holiness if we partake of the same corruptions they do! Let us live above the world (Rom. 12:1-2).
*Send comments or questions concerning this article to Gary Summers. Please refer to this article as: "THEOLOGY ON TAP" (03/02/03)."