A Reformed minister was asked to lunch with three other ministers with whom he was not familiar. He arrived at the restaurant early, and while waiting, unthinkingly ordered a bottle of cabernet sauvignon.
When the other three ministers arrived he had already imbibed half a glass and heartily asked if they would like to partake of the Lord's "tender mercies." The three of them respectfully declined, but the Reformed minister could tell by their countenances that they were more than a little dismayed.
"Do the three of you have a problem with wine?" he asked.
One minister said that he believed that all alcoholic beverages were sinful and that Rome would have to melt into the Tiber before a drop ever touched his lips. The second indicated that because of the widespread abuse of alcohol that he had made a decision never to drink. He indicated that he was also concerned about the world's perception of him -- it was unconscionable that a minister of the Gospel should ever be associated with wine. The third minister said that the sole reason for his abstinence was that he did not want to offend the other two.
"Well, then," said the Calvinist, "I guess I am in an embarrassing spot. I wouldn't even want to offend the man who is afraid that he might offend. What would you have me do?"
"Why don't we all drink to abstinence?" said the teetotaler. "I'll order some water and we'll drink to abstinence."
They all heartily agreed, even the Calvinist. When the water arrived, and the glasses were filled, each took his turn.
"Here's to abstinence," said the first minister.
"To abstinence," seconded the second.
"To abstinence," toasted the third.
Then the Calvinist refilled his glass with the cabernet, lifted it to his lips, and declared: "Yes, indeed, to abstinence -- may it always be practiced with moderation!"
Friday, July 31, 2009
Abstinence in Moderation
Jim West, Drinking With Calvin and Luther, pp. 214-215: