What Can You Learn From A 250 Year Old Drink?

Writing about alcohol on a Christian web site is like mentioning fire in a crowded theatre: it is bound to create quite a panic. But something is happening this week that I felt I could not ignore. September 24th will mark the 250th anniversary of Guinness. What makes this an interesting event is not simply that it marks 250 years of brewing for Ireland’s national beer, but rather that the man behind the beer is so remarkable.

Many Christians will find it surprising to know that Arthur Guinness was actually a devout Protestant and lover of Jesus. As a Christian Guinness had a deep social conscience. He was concerned for others and as he knew of Jesus’ love for the least, so he saw his role as a follower of Jesus to care for others too. Of primary concern for Arthur was the widespread drunkenness among his fellow Irishmen. At that time the primary alcoholic beverages of choice were whiskey and gin, both of which were cheap and high in alcoholic content. This meant getting drunk was extremely easy. Arthur’s heart was grieved by the social ills that drunkenness had created and so he prayed that God would provide a solution. What makes Guinness unique is that in praying this prayer he was also willing to be part of the answer to that prayer if God would so choose to use him.

Guinness was an entrepreneur who, in 1759, decided to lease a poorly maintained and equipped brewer (St. James Gate in Dublin) for nine thousand years. What he would brew here was a beer, a drink relatively unknown in rural Ireland at the time, that was lower in alcoholic content (at least lower than their whiskey and Gin) and which was so thick that a person could only drink so many pints of it. Thus Guinness beer was born. The beer is like a meal, it is full of tons of minerals and other trace elements that makes it fairly healthy. And since it was so thick and filling getting drunk off of it was a bit more difficult. Interestingly, public drunkenness did decrease after Guinness had made its biggest impressions on the general populace.

Some will contend that no beer is good, and they would certainly be entitled to their opinion. Some have had such bad experiences with alcohol or with alcoholics that they will never give on this issue, and we must be sensitive to such friends. Nonetheless, whether you’re a drinker or not there is something we can learn from someone like Arthur Guinness.

Most likely none of us will have a 250 year old legacy (unless of course CAPC lasts that long), but we can all think like young Arthur. When Arthur leased St. James Gate he was only 34 years old, hardly a seasoned saint. But he had learned well from Jesus that Christians are to love others. Maybe you won’t solve the problem of public drunkenness in your town, but whatever problems you feel burdened by make sure you don’t simply pray about them. Be willing to be part of the solution to those problems, and in so doing share the love of Jesus.

So if you are a drinker, this week raise a pint to Jesus in thanks for Arthur. If not, take time simply to reflect on what he did. And all of us need to ask God, “How can I be the answer to something you want to do in my community?”

About Dave Dunham
  • http://ihaveadhd.blogspot.com Richard McElroy

    Don’t forget that even while being so heavy and thick, it has approximately the same amount of calories as a lite beer. Way ahead of his time, and didn’t have to make it taste like water to keep it low calorie.

  • http://thedesocios.com sdesocio

    Do you have an reference material for this article. Id love to check it out?

  • http://hesonlychasingsafety.wordpress.com Kiel

    Wow, thanks for sharing this info David! Great post!

  • Curt

    Great post David. Stephen Mansfield has written The Search for God and Guinness. It’s available now on Amazon and in book stores everywhere. http://tinyurl.com/nv5y52

  • David Dunham

    Thanks Curt for posting that. Also see “Arthur’s Round” by Patrick Guinness, that’s a good book too. Of course the basic story of Arthur’s purchasing of St. James Gate etc. can be found at the Guinness web site.

  • Dave Schroeder

    And check out your local store…Guinness is on sale right now!

  • David Dunham

    I want to be careful here and clear. My point in this article is not to suggest that eveyrone goes out and drinks some beer. I am not saying anything directly about alcohol one way or the other. Let each man be convinced in his own mind on that subject…I simply wanted to present for consideration a Christian from history not many know about.

  • Kim Quinn

    I think the interesting part of this was that his faith was also realistic. By that I mean he realized that he wasn’t going to eliminate the issue of drinking, and that he couldn’t stop people from getting drunk, but perhaps help with one of the consequences and lessen the amount of drunkeness. I think we could do a lot more to help our society if we applied some of his logic to societies problems. No we wouldn’t eliminate them, and no it’s not the ideal we would all like to see, but we might be able to help.

  • David Dunham

    Good point, Kim. He analyzed the problem from a practical perspective. I know Ben has advocated a similiar approach with the issue of abortion…or at least I think he has.

  • http://gailbhyatt.wordpress.com/ Gail Hyatt

    Here is another great blog post about the book: The Search for God and Guinness:
    http://joeljmiller.com/2009/09/the-search-for-god-and-guinness/

    Stephen Mansfield has done his homework. A really amazing story. (I got a sneak peak.) You can preorder the book now. Launch date is October 13th – only three weeks away!
    http://www.amazon.com/Search-God-Guinness-Biography-Changed/dp/1595552693/ref=ntt_at_ep_dpi_7

  • peter bartlett

    Being a college student who enjoys a drink every once in a while, I really appreciate the perspective from your article.

    I think telling this story is a cool way to engage the campus in something that it is clearly obsessed with(alcohol) and bring the conversation to a spiritual topic.

    Great article.

  • Pingback: Guinness is a Christian drink « Alice the Camel

  • David Dunham

    That’s a great thought Peter. If you do that we’d love for you to share your experience here and let us know how it worked.

  • http://www.benbartlett.blogspot.com Ben Bartlett

    I love the interest this article has gotten!

    And yes, David, that’s one key element of my thoughts on abortion (though not the same thing. Obviously the key difference is that alcohol is Scripturally acceptable in moderation, but sinful in excess. Abortion is always wrong, all the time.

    However, in both cases our approach needs to recognize that moral change flows from heart change, not the other way around.

  • http://newbreedofadvertisers.blogspot.com/ Sam Van Eman

    A well-told story, David. Makes me think of the woman selling health insurance to strippers.

    Keep up the good work here.

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  • http://blog.hafchurch.org/peter Peter P

    Great post.

    We in ‘the Church’ are often way too obsessed with finding the negatives in things and don’t take the time to sit back and see the positives both for the physical realm and the spiritual one.

  • http://www.bradruggles.com Brad Ruggles

    Great post! I found you through Shaun Grove’s linkage. I have always loved Guinness but never knew some of the back story. I also just ordered the new book “In Search Of God & Guinness” that talks about some of these same things.

    Love the site. Thanks for the great post.

  • Pingback: What We Can Learn from the 250 Year History of Guinness « Reformed and Reforming

  • Pingback: Do you Pray and drink Guinness? | The Blog o' Beer: Archive


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