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Jesus and Beer

WHY WOULD A CHURCH BREW A BEER?

Technically, we didn’t…although we did ask Big Sky Brewing to do it for us. In 2010, a year after establishing Imagine Missoula (a non-profit designed to meet the basic needs of our city's residents), we asked the owners of Big Sky if they would consider partnering with All Souls. We wanted to produce a great beer and donate the profits to Imagine Missoula - to help meet the needs of Missoula’s under-resourced.

Big Sky loved the idea and has been brewing seasonal All Souls Ale ever since. Each year, about $5000 is raised through this partnership to help fund Imagine Missoula. 

But isn’t associating with a brewery and a beer a bit risky? Wouldn’t it be safer to avoid a substance that is responsible for much of our city’s brokenness?

It's easy to think alcohol is the issue, and that by simply getting rid of it (or avoiding it), that will fix things. But Jesus views it differently – he insists that the real source of our brokenness flows from the dark desires of our hearts (not merely our external behavior). Consider Martin Luther’s view:

Do you suppose that abuses are eliminated by destroying the object which is abused? Men can go wrong with wine and women. Shall we then prohibit and abolish women? The sun, the moon, and the stars have been worshiped. Shall we then pluck them out of the sky? 

Sin and human desires are complex and varied. Luther reminds us we need to be very careful not to oversimplify brokenness or its solution. 

Whether it's lust for sex or addiction to drink, Jesus claims he can quench our thirsts, fulfill our longings - even transform our desires. So while alcohol may be part of the problem, we think it can also be part of the solution. 

We believe the church should be the place that most tangibly manifests Gospel renovation. As we grow in understanding grace, we should be: freed from fear of drink (what it might do to us), freed from reputation (what others might think of us), freed from our need to escape (to drown our woes or access “liquid courage”), freed to abstain if we choose (if addiction has been part of our story).

The church ought to be the place that illustrates the greatest of liberty – without lapsing into excess. A high calling to be sure. But can we settle for anything less?