Monday, November 2, 2009

Excerpts from My Reading...

Usually on Mondays when time, energy, opportunity, or inspiration all fall into place I like to share with you a paragraph or two from the book or books I am currently reading. As I share with you these “tid-bits” I hope to do three things; the first is to magnify the glorious character and nature of God by the wonderful writing that has been our privilege to meditate on for our spiritual growth; secondly, I want to be a blessing and encouragement to you who read these excerpts; and thirdly, I hope to encourage you to purchase these books for yourself or others in hopes of passing the blessing along.

I am currently re-reading The Institutes of Christian Religion by John Calvin, reading for the first time, John Owen’s Overcoming Sin & Temptation edited by Kapic and Taylor, and a very interesting third book called Drinking with Calvin and Luther: a History of Alcohol in the Church by Jim West.

I came across this book on John Bird’s blog called While We Sojourn. By the way if you haven’t read John or added him to your blog roll you should. At any rate I ordered this book and I read it Saturday from the time the postman brought it around noon until about 10:00 PM. It is only 215 pages long, but when I read, I read with my eyes, mind, and a pen. I stop frequently to think through a point, make sure I have understanding, make some notes, and I sometimes even argue with an author to try to understand him and/or make sure my understanding is biblical and defensible.

Needless to say first, this is not a book review (I may do that later); secondly I did enjoy this book. I think it would be a good read for everyone in the church today. Not for the purpose of changing your views or “side” in this “debate/argument” but to provide information and material for serious thought and discussion.

Well, enough of that. Here is this week’s excerpt from a most thought provoking book that I am currently re-reading:

And wine that maketh glad the heart of man...” (Psalms 104:15)

“Nowhere are we forbidden to laugh, or to be satisfied with food... or to be delighted with music, or to drink wine.” (John Calvin)

“We are jolly fellows, we Germans; we eat, and drink, and sing, and break our glasses...” (Martin Luther)

“...the truth is that Church history testifies that many good men – ministers of the gospel – joyously partook of drink to the glory of God. As such, it is shocking that hundreds of churches in America have pharisaical membership standards that actually debar Christians who drink alcoholic beverages. Likewise, Christian colleges often distinguish between viable and unviable students on the basis of alcohol-related questions on their applications. By so doing they have unwittingly created a barrier that would exclude Christ and some of his greatest ministers.”

The bible, of course, condemns winos as well as whiners. Drunkenness is sinful. The Christian is under the lordship of Christ, not Bacchus, the Greek God of wine. Christians should learn from the aphorism about wine: ‘A turncoat, first a friend, and then an enemy.’

The antithesis of being Spirit-filled is drunkenness, for Paul writes, ‘Be not drunk with wine wherein is excess, but be filled with the Spirit’ (Ephesians 5:18). The Spirit-filled Christian practices self-control. Although by the grace of God he drinks in moderation, he also drinks with unmoderated joy in his Creator.”

Taken from Drinking With Calvin and Luther, Jim West, (Lincoln, CA: Oakdown), pp. 19, 26

Interesting to say the least! What do you think?

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