Calvinist Spirits

Whatever their later American heirs thought of alcoholic beverages, the Reformers were lovers of beer and wine. For Luther, that goes without saying. Gisela Kreglinger shows (Spirituality of Wine) that Calvin’s views were the same as Luther’s.

“We have never been forbidden to laugh, or to be filled, . . . or to delight in musical harmony, or to drink wine” (quoted p. 55), Calvin write. Since “God created food, we shall find that he meant not only to provide for necessity but also for delight and good cheer. . . . In grasses, trees, and fruits, apart from their various uses, there is beauty of appearance and pleasantness of odor.” In support, he cites Psalm 104, which celebrates the wine that gladdens the heart and the oil that makes the face shine (quoted p. 55).

On that Psalm, Calvin commented, “Nature would certainly be satisfied with water to drink; and therefore the addition of wine is owing to God’s superabundant liberality. . . . Bread would be sufficient to support the life of man, but God over and above . . . bestows upon them wine and oil. . . . God shows himself a foster-father sufficiently bountiful in providing bread, his liberality appears still more conspicuous in giving us dainties” (quoted p. 56).

Ever one to practice what he preached, Calvin received as much as 250 gallons of wine annually from the Genevan town council (57).

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