Keeping People Happy

Let me start this post by saying how much I like Craig Groeschel and the good folks who bring you LifeChurch.tv every week. I’m reading Craig’s new book, “The Christian Athiest”, right now. It’s a great read, practical and confrontational, two things I value most in Christian books. The Life Church group is a brilliant model of “freely you’ve received, freely give” and I’ve used their free resources time and again.

I like Craig & co. so much I subscribe to their Youtube channel.

Recently he/they posted a series of videos where Craig answers a series of questions submitted by viewers/church folks. I was intrigued when he took on “Is it o.k. for Christians to drink?” and “What about tithing?” I was paying attention because the answer to both questions, if answered biblically, will provide a different answer than the traditional evangelical church answer on these topics.

In case you aren’t familiar with the traditional, non-biblical answer of the evangelical church the answer is “No.” on one and “Yes.” on two.

I’m going somewhere with this, stick with me. This is NOT anti-Craig or anti-Life Church.

Here’s the video, give it a watch and then we can talk.

So Craig says that biblically there isn’t anything wrong with drinking but then, realizing this will go down like a rat sandwich with his audience, he goes on to give them the answer they want, ie. don’t drink or you’ll turn into a reprobate.

This IS NOT my pro-drinking rant. (Though someone criticized me once for speaking about drinking beer from the front and making it sound like it was a positive experience) This is my PRO TRUTH rant. How can we expect people to walk in mature truth when we neglect uncomfortable truth for tradition?

Craig tells the truth – the Bible doesn’t say don’t drink. In fact, the Bible even tells us that Jesus and the disciples did drink wine and Jesus even produced wine, good wine, for the wedding banquet. But the video then goes on to show the evangelical stereotype. A yard full of Christian pastors reduced to thugs and hooligans by a couple bottles of beer. (Played for laughs but the message is still the same.) When a young girl asks for a beer and is told, “No.” Craig suggests we send a mixed message – if Dad can do it, why can’t I? Well, let’s just give her the keys to the car, make sure she has a vote or can choose elective plastic surgery for herself like any adult. Somethings are for “grown ups” – that’s NOT a mixed message. Ultimately his earlier biblical answer is over-written by the clear traditional message of the drama/comedy that follows – one beer will lead to drunkeness and an arrest (or the list of things he concludes the video with).

So what’s the big deal? The big deal is that it’s very sad that a truth teller like Craig Groeschel has to couch the truth in a lie in order to stay out of trouble and keep the numbers up for both the offering and attendance. Fans of Craig, like me, can list over a dozen times he’s literally invited people to leave their church if they don’t like where the church is going, what the church is doing and make room for new people who do. He’s demonstrated a willingness to offend. And that truth makes this video that much sadder. The pressure to conform to a traditional view, even while acknowledging the biblical view is so great that even Craig and the Life Church team fears how people will react to the truth. But Jesus wants us to grow up, to be motivated by our love for him and others and not our traditions. He wants us to live by the truth and be set free.

Can our relationships stand the weight of truth? Personally I know that they sometimes can’t.

Recently I’ve once again made the mistake of taking someone seriously when they asked me to speak into their lives, tell them the truth if I saw anything unhealthy. “I need someone to tell me the truth.” They said. Had they used the words, “keep me accountable” I would’ve begged off – been down that dead end road before. But they asked me to be at truth teller in their lives and I tried and they haven’t spoken to me in weeks. So, maybe Craig’s on to something. Maybe telling the truth and then affirming the myth is the better way to go?

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About brianmpei

Stumbling towards what comes next.
This entry was posted in book review, Christianity, Church, craig groeschel, Leadership, media, perception, Rant, religion, Teachers, tradition, truth. Bookmark the permalink.

17 Responses to Keeping People Happy

  1. Phil says:

    I found this funny. Being the guy in the uniform I know how people can get themselves in trouble from drinking. However my general observation of people who drink to much to the point where we have to show up, is that there is a deeper problem that causes this behaviour. Most responsible people can drink responsibly. Liquor is like a magnifying glass, it brings many issues in peoples lives to the surface if too much is drank. That’s why people get in trouble sometimes because they choose to confront their issues with some liquid courage. So I guess some one could say that truth can sometimes be found in alcohol. People just don’t know how to handle it and don’t deal with it properly when sober. I wish sometimes I could be as truthful and laid back in church as I am when I have had a few. I wish others would do the same. Not a pro drinking rant I know so I’m sorry. I think Criag is pleasing one type of people, church people, who are a culture all to them selves. Real people can see through this type of artifical living and see the truth.

  2. Nathan Rousu says:

    While Craig quotes 1Tim 5:23, he ignores the context of it. Listening to scholars like Gordon Fee or William Mounce, this verse fits in this section not because it is practical advice, rather it was a comment against the asceticism of the false teachers in Ephesus. In 1 Tim 4:1-4 Paul identifies ascetic practices (“abstinence from certain foods”) as ‘doctrines of demons’ taught by ‘hypocritical liars.’ Grounds such as this (and other passages like Col 2), I’d have to disagree with any teaching that promotes a ‘blanket asceticism.’

    Certainly, for various reasons, there are people out there who cannot handle alcohol. And for them, they do need to stay away. But that’s not grounds for blanket asceticism.

    Asceticism will not buy you holiness.

    I think another issue here is that our contemporary cultural values / hang-ups are being inserted into our understanding of the scripture. The ancient Jewish culture had quite a different attitude toward alcohol than we do. Alcoholic beverages had significant sacramental and social value. In Deut 14:22-27 we see that if one cannot bring their tithe to the temple that they are to spend the money on food and “strong drink” and celebrate with your family (and the local Levites).

    The scripture does not teach against the use of alcohol. But it does teach against drunkenness (and the forthcoming destruction) and it also teaches against promoting ascetic practices as a means to holiness.

  3. Michelle says:

    Yeah, it sucks that they presented drinking like an after-school special -i.e. worst case scenarios -you could get an STD or wrap your car around a tree- as well as stereotyping with a bunch of heavy boozers.

    As a former heavy drinker I should probably see his point, but I still think it’s okay as long as you control the drink and not the other way around.

  4. donna wigmore says:

    Wow, this is the first time I have seen Pastor Craig and it is hard for me to not think he is a dink, but if you like him Brian, I will give him another chance.
    This kind of crap is coming at people who are outside of the church and no wonder they stay away in droves.
    I like to celebrate life, drinking wine is a special part of that. Plus, I can screw up quite easily on nothing or coffee, daily.
    I am cranky today and I wish I had a glass of wine.

  5. donna wigmore says:

    …and another thing, the fact that is was a group of male pastors, no women, just set my teeth on edge…man I need a drink.

  6. nobusysignal says:

    I wanted to go the middle road on this, but I can’t. And Judging from all the other comments so far looks like my opinion is stand alone. I’m not better-than-thou folks that know me will attest to that. But when I look back over my life ( don’t worry I’m not about to start a drunk-a-log) and the lives of so many in my college yrs. my family (I believe there are generational curses) alcohol abuse runs rampant in my family on both sides and it’s a mess- it’s hard for me to see this as benign. Instant idiot just add alcohol. do you know what did last night? do you know where you WERE last night? I don’t know what the answer is to this question. I know this, the wine, the beer, the shots are not the sin. The sin is what’s produced after it courses through the human brain.

  7. njm says:

    Alcohol to drink it or not? I don’t like the taste of it, so for me to indulge in it, it’s not a problem. However, I have a problem when it comes to overeating. Oh, you say it is not the same, well it does have it’s negative consequences. So should everyone stop eating because I can’t handle it?

  8. greggmac says:

    People have such a hard time with a both/and way of thinking. I am a chronic alcoholic so for me to drink is insanity; however, for 85 to 90% of the populace who are not alchies/addicts there should be no issue with either drinking or not drinking. So that is that. LOL The video is ridiculous because only if every person (pastor) there were alcoholic could a scene like that arise; normal people do not turn into raving lunatics after a beer or two. This reminds me of the Reefer Madness movie.
    As far as telling people the truth when they ask I have found that until someone has been truly broken what they are really asking for is to have their illusions/delusions about themselves affirmed and to assure them that their problems are not of their own making. Until then to quote a great movie they should be told “You Can’t Handle The Truth” but I suppose that would be too much truth for them as well. I have just learned to get by with fewer friends. LOL

  9. Brad says:

    I am hoping that was an attempt at satire, but would think that some may not see it that way. And his list of when things went wrong, so I can agree with drinking and driving, and appreciate the fact that alcohol can impair better judgment, but beyond that, the mixed message to kids……..really? And throwing in STD’s…..wow, that was something. So anyway, I can see the fine line that some feel the need to walk in order not to offend, but agree with you that if you can’t be honest, than whats the point….its the same as living the lie of an alcoholic IMO.

    • brianmpei says:

      It’s a little like singing the right tune with the wrong lyrics. Eventually you’ll argue with anyone who knows the original lyrics and tries to correct you because we’ve all learned the wrong lyrics…

  10. Petra Hefner says:

    I can easily get in trouble without having the first drop of alcohol. There are also many things that can keep me distracted and unproductive, and can send mixed messages to my kids, like this computer (I think I’m addicted). However, I’ve not had alcohol in years because it isn’t beneficial. I come from a large family of alcoholics and know its ugly side. It’s ugly! So, I think we need a little discernment and common sense before we pop a can 😉

  11. Judy says:

    Ever read Jesus and Addiction by Don Williams? talk about truth. Not for the faint of heart or the dogmatic either one… (sometimes can be one and the same).

    Being the spouse of a recovering alcoholic, I know up close what it can do to people. But … in principle I do believe that a Christian can drink and still be a Christian. I choose not to do that out of respect for my spouse, because we spend a LOT of time together and we are each others’ best friend. So when we have a meal together I don’t imbibe. I also realize the culture in which I am living – the church culture that is – and I know that many people in that culture believe that Christians should never drink. Since I am also in visible ministry, and I don’t want any of them to stumble because of me, it’s one more reason for me not to drink.

    But there are those times – like when the sun is hot and the air muggy – oh well. A nice cold ice water with some flavored powder in it would quench the thirst just as easily. That way I can make two so hubby can have one. 🙂

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