Theology in the Pub

Rob Kerby, at Beliefnet.com, sketches some instances of theology occurring in pubs.

Theology at the Pub is a popular weekly event in Melbourne, Australia, aimed at “amateur theologians aged between 18 and 40 and any clergy who wish to enjoy a drink or two with anyone younger than the average parishioner.”

In Norfolk, Virginia, Holy Trinity Catholic Church regularly lists in the weekly bulletin “Theology on Tap” at a local bar and grill. There a regular crowd gathers to ponder Christianity over a glass of ale … or milk, whatever suits attendees, who often include local university students and sailors from the nearby base.

In New York City, Jay Bakker, son of disgraced televangelists Jim and Tammy Faye Bakker, preaches in bars while sipping on iced tea since he’s been sober for 14 years after a tumultuous childhood in front of TV cameras.

In Cheyenne, Wyoming, Uncle Charlie’s Grill and Lounge hosts a weekly “Bibles and Beer” discussion that routinely attracts people of all faiths – and even an atheist, reports Kevin Moloney for USA TODAY. “As many as 45 people have shown up, some toting Bibles. Some might have a drink; others stick to water,” he reports. “Some talk; others mostlylisten. There are only a few ground rules: Avoid debate and stick to the text to be discussed that week.”

The idea of Bibles and bars may be highly offensive to devout teetotalers and worrisome to recovering alcoholics. Aftre all, in some circles, it’s not a matter of discussion whether the wine Jesus miraculously made from water at the famous Cana wedding was actually unfermented grape juice.

Southern Baptist spokesman Dr. Richard Land says he’s never tasted beer and doesn’t want to. “While the Bible may be subject to various interpretations concerning alcohol consumption (as well as the nature of the beverage consumed), Southern Baptists’ understanding of the issue has been exceedingly unambiguous,” the jovial Land wrote in a recent column, noting that the convention has regularly passed anti-alcohol resolutions as far back as 1886. “We often have been reminded of the potent question from Charles Sheldon’s In His Steps: ‘What Would Jesus Do?’”

About Scot McKnight

Scot McKnight is a recognized authority on the New Testament, early Christianity, and the historical Jesus. McKnight, author of more than forty books, is the Professor of New Testament at Northern Seminary in Lombard, IL.

  • Derek Rishmawy

    Apparently Jesus would make wine. If there weren’t serious theological significance and inter-canonical resonances attached to the making of wine, I would also add that contextualizing would require us to follow him in his steps by making craft beer–IPAs and Stouts preferably.

  • http://www.johnhaselton.blogspot.com John Haselton

    A very interesting idea. I will have to see if I can give that a try.

  • Daniel

    What would Jesus do??? Well as one who ate and drank with sinners (slandered by his critics as being a glutton and a drunkard) I suspect he would make 120-180 gallons of fine wine (such that the Toastmaster and guests would be astonished that this couple would save best wine for last).

  • Abi Svoboda

    Recently, my brothers and I have begun a tradition when we get back together: Beer and Bibles. It keeps the family close :)

  • gingoro

    Derek Nah Jesus did not make wine, he made grape juice, this is a linguistic problem! ;)
    Pardon my sarcasm, I’m just jealous as I am gluten intolerant and can’t drink proper beer and the gluten free stuff is like most gluten free food tasteless and not worth eating or drinking.
    DaveW
    gluten free == gooten free == taste free or worse taste bad

  • Joey Elliott

    Wanted to share that this is happening at a very large scale in Indianapolis, and it is awesome! I’ve been humbled to be a small part!

    http://www.pubtheologyindy.com/

  • http://LostCodex.com DRT

    I’m going to have to report this to the SBC Issues blog.

  • paul

    Hey, I guess I’m one of those local college students (Regent University in Virginia Beach) going and listening to people lecture on theology at a bar. I’m not catholic, which is the denominational basis for the group, but I usually enjoy the discussions…and the Yuengling. Hailing originally from the South, I do respect the opinions of other Christians who for whatever reason choose not to drink, but I do hope it is becoming less of a point of contention–we should probably be talking more about obesity and heart disease down there anyways (i.e., Jesus certainly wouldn’t eat at KFC everyday).

  • Jerry

    Not exactly new though, the church I attended in the small town where I grew up started as a bible study in a bar then the bar served as a church before the church was built. The early Methodists were known for this. Perhaps the only real difference is the trendiness of having a pint while you talked.

  • http://pubtheologian.com Bryan Berghoef

    Great stuff. Beer and church go way back. Check out the excerpt of my new book: “Pub Theology: Beer, Conversation, and God” on Patheos.com, or find it on Amazon.com. Scot, would love your thoughts on it. Based on my own experience at pub theology sessions the last four years or so at a microbrewery in Traverse City, Michigan. Book is endorsed by John Franke and Phyllis Tickle, among others.

  • http://www.mindfuljustice.com Susi

    Catherine von Bora was brewer by trade. She had learned in the convent. There, they had also received permission to brew – and later brewed privatly. After she married Martin Luther (June 13, 1525) she was brewing at home. Martin raved about her brewing arts. He often was given beer by Princes and town fathers who paid it as marks of honor. At his wedding there was even a barrel ‘Einbecksches’. But the beer Catherine made, remained his favorite micro brew. When he was on the road, he wrote to his “dear maid Katharina von Bora and Lutherin Zulsdorf, my darling,” may you please send me “a Pfloschen of your beer as often as you can”. He threatened Catherine that if she hesitatet to send him from her beer, he would “try out new beers and not come home”. translated by me from, the German article http://www.bier-lexikon.lauftext.de/bier-brauen.htm
    Maybe send that to the SBC issues blog:)
    Prost an euch all, Susi

  • Sam

    To address the question “What would Jesus do?” I would say focus on what Jesus DID. Namely, spend his time among sinners and broken people. I think that if Jesus were here today he would probably spend more time in bars than in a church building

  • RobS

    I find myself halfway through a Sam Adams reading Jesus Creed and laughing…

    Love the blog… Scot & everyone… CHEERS ! :)


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