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The foundation of all the work in this Church is grounded in the belief that Jesus Christ is Lord and Saviour and that all people need to come to a personal faith in Him and experience the reality of His presence in their lives. Outreach is our priority.
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Haye Road
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Rev. Martyn Smith
The Retreat, 104 Launceston Road
Cornwall, PL17 7JJ
Tel: 01579 383274
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Alcohol: An Elixir to Enjoy or an Evil to Evade?

The statistical evidence is quite shocking!  According to a 2016 Institute of Alcohol Studies Report, problems caused by alcohol costs British society over 21 billion each year, comprising 3.5 bn. costs to the NHS; 11 bn. in alcohol-related crime costs and 7.3 bn. in lost productivity.  About 38% men and 29% women in England are apparently drinking above the recommended safe limits of alcohol consumption on a regular basis.  Interestingly, alcohol is linked to over 60 different illnesses and diseases with about 33,000 UK citizens dying from alcohol-related causes each year.  As might be expected, the self-harm and misery that drunkenness and alcohol abuse can create ... has been condemned by Christian Church leaders over the centuries.

For the initial 1,800 years of Church History, alcoholic beverages, consumed in moderation, were a part of everyday life for the majority of Christians and were used when sharing in Holy Communion.  In this view - usually called 'moderationism' - supporters believe that alcohol is a gift from God that helps people to celebrate the joys of life.  Jesus' miracle [John 2:1-11] of turning water into wine at a wedding feast is often quoted to back this viewpoint which also concedes that drunkenness is sinful and needs to be avoided.  Heavy drinking and drunkenness are certainly consistently condemned in both Old Testament [eg Proverbs 20: 1; 21; 17; Isaiah 5: 11, 22; Jeremiah 23: 9] and the New [eg Ephesians 5: 18; Titus 1: 7; 2: 3].  Yet there are also some very positive Scriptural statements made about alcohol.  Psalm 4: 7 for example, makes a comparison between joy in the Lord with an abundance of wine which 'makes the 'heart glad'.  The supply of wine is considered to be a divine blessing [eg Genesis 27: 28; Deuteronomy 7: 13; Ecclesiastes 9: 7; Joel 2: 19-24] ... while a lack of wine is regarded more as God's judgment [eg Jeremiah 48: 33; Hosea 2: 9; Joel 1: 10]! Some of Jesus' parables feature wine, wineskins and vineyards [eg Matthew 9: 17; 21:  28-46]; Jesus spoke of His Father as the Gardener who tends the vine [John 15: 1] and Paul encourages Timothy to drink some wine for his stomach's sake [1 Timothy 5: 23].  Using such Biblical evidence for their view, Roman Catholics, Anglican, Lutheran and Eastern Orthodox Churches have historically been moderationists in their official stance with regard to alcohol.

In the mid-19th Century, some Protestant Church leaders advocated 'abstentionism', in the belief that, while alcohol consumption was not in itself sinful, total abstinence was the wisest and most God-honouring way to live.  Three arguments were [and still are] made to support this attitude.  It was seen as a positive way to avoid the risk of an alcohol-fuelled change in a person's normal perception and moral judgment ... as is warned about in Proverbs 31: 4-5.  There was also a belief that abstentionism enables Christians to be sensitive to fellow believers who consider imbibing to be a sin.  An extra powerful point favouring voluntary abstention, was the conviction that a stand had to be taken against the negative, costly results of drunkenness.

Taking a lead role in the 19th Century Temperance Movement, many Methodists felt that alcohol was the root of numerous social evils and saw temperance as fitting well alongside such doctrines as sanctification and perfection.  The abstentionist position is officially held today by Baptist and Pentecostal Churches, in addition to Methodists who continue to officially have a general ban on any alcohol being present on their chapel and church premises.

Almost directly opposite to moderationism, which we initially considered, is a third position on alcohol - 'prohibitionism'.

This attitude gave its name to a specific difficult period [1920-33] in American history, when the manufacture, sale and possession of alcohol was forbidden by law.  Christian prohibitionists believe that God requires abstinence from His people, viewing alcohol as an evil in itself.  Where Scriptural passages view alcohol negatively, prohibitionists tend to understand them to refer to potent alcoholic drinks.  Yet in texts that show alcohol in a positive light, they take them to mean non-alcoholic drinks such as fresh grape juice!  Christian groups adapting a prohibitionist stance today include the American Southern Baptist Convention and Seventh Day Adventists.

So what might we conclude as Christians today on the subject of alcohol?  Many would suggest that there's a need to challenge the popular culture [as illustrated in TV 'soaps'] which suggests that it is impossible to have a good time, to celebrate at a party or to handle disappointment ... without copious quantities of alcohol on hand!  As has been shown, a strong biblical case can be made for supporting both the moderationist and the abstentionist positions.  Whatever our personal view may be, perhaps we should follow the examples given in Luke 7: 33-44, which show a total respect between two men who had different views on alcohol ... John the Baptist who abstained and Jesus who did not.  Whether we choose to drink alcohol or not, let us remember that our body is a temple for the Holy Spirit to reside in [1 Corinthians 6:19; 2 Corinthians 6: 16] and we have an obligation to do all things to the Glory of the One who died to enable our forgiveness and rose again to give us life in abundance [eg Galations 2: 20; 2 Corinthians 4: 14; John 10: 10].

Wishing you a joyful and Holy Spirit-filled Easter,

God Bless,

Your Minister and Friend Martyn







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