Wednesday, June 26, 2013

What Would Jesus Drink: Adventures in Missing the Point

So, I'm a seminarian.  This means that during the school year I spend countless hours reading about, writing about, and discussing theology.  The topics available for discussion are endless, yet one contentious debate continually rises to the surface: what would Jesus drink?  There are, of course, other worthwhile debates about things like the incarnation, dispensationalism, and theodicy, but none of these debates bring about the same fervor and passion as that of pontificating upon what the son of god would drink while winding down at the end of long day.  Now I know there are those of you out there who are thinking, "Hello? Jesus drank wine.  Haven't you read John 2 and that whole wedding at Cana thing?  There are probably even those of you who believe that the wine was not fermented, and to that I say... well, never mind.

Yes. John 2.  I have read it. Several times. But I should have mentioned earlier the specifics included in the "what would Jesus drink" controversy revolve around a certain brand of brew... PBR.  Pabst Blue Ribbon is currently recognized as the hipster drink of choice and is popular among the college crowd, for its $2 price tag in your bar of choice on a Tuesday Saturday night.

Now it's time for me to confess.  I am a beer snob.  Well, I was, until I quit two well-paying jobs and enrolled in grad school as a full time student.

Some say that seminary is a calling, and following a calling usually involves some kind of sacrifice.  One of my sacrifices is that I now drink beer that I would not have touched a year ago, but I digress, sort of...

More important to this whole seminary journey is a dying to self. As this is not a super sexy concept, it's preferable to become distracted. I cannot blame my fellow seminarians for attaching a theological significance to Jesus' beer of choice. While this may seem like a concept of great significance, Paul, the guy who wrote a good portion of the New Testament, seemed more concerned with the whole dying to self thing. Jesus would probably agree.  (I'll let you know after I finish my New Testament survey class that comes in my second year.) So, every day, if I am taking my journey through this chapter of my life seriously, and some days I actually do, I have to make the decision to die to myself and my to ideas regarding god; especially those ideas that are my own creation.

What does this have to do with PBR?

The "what would Jesus drink" argument isn't new. It is an argument that has raged in many forms throughout Christian History.  People have been labeled a heretic over much less than believing that Jesus drank a certain kind of beer, and certainly, many were labeled heretics over much more. So, you see, this brew-ha-ha has just been repackaged for this time and cultural context.  Thus, I think it's less about what Jesus drank and more about how we want to re-create god in our own image and make god more like us. The question we might want to ask ourselves is not "what would Jesus drink?" We might want to ask "Do we want to be more like Jesus or do we want Jesus to be more like us? Are we guilty of assuming that Jesus only loves the people that we want him to love? Does he really judge those that we choose to condemn? Are we really in charge of such things?" Granted these questions will probably not be debated with the same zeal and intensity as whether or not Jesus would drink PBR, but I think they are good place to start if we really want to start being a community that accepts everyone, even those that don't act or think (or drink) like us.