It is interesting that boundaries from country to country, denomination to denomination vary widely as to what constitutes a “good” Christian. In some countries like Norway, among my present associates there is no drinking, no smoking and so forth, while in Italy, wine and beer with supper is quite normal and then in England one may go so far as to have Bible studies in the local pub with a Guiness in hand (this makes it slightly difficult to turn the pages of their Bibles). Of course these observations are only generalities but this what I have encountered. I don’t know quite what to conclude so I don’t criticize any spiritual mores as long as believers are kind and exhibit Christian disposition, character and integrity. When it comes to lifestyles, I have seen very severe believers that were quite holy on the outside but on the inside as nasty as could be. Jesus, Paul and the New Testament are all pretty clear about what boundaries matter. The overiding principle is not to cause another brother to stumble and Paul said that if eating meat would cause his brother to stumble he wouldn’t touch it so long as he lived.
The Pharisees were very insistent on the details concerning certain observances, like special days, washings, cleansings, dietary laws and the like. Though strong drink is indeed dangerous (I am not advocating drinking at all), Jesus on the other hand made it clear that foods and drinks didn’t defile a person but rather that which is on the inside – that which came out of the heart. Paul went on to say that the kingdom had nothing to do with what a person ate or drank but the kingdom was actually a matter of righteousness, peace and joy in the holy ghost. The kingdom was not a matter of hair splitting over religious specifics.
Now, I say all of this because, while I am not an ale or stout drinker myself, some of my English brothers are and so we spent a couple of hours at the Tudor Barn discussing the matter of extending the gospel to the citizens of Eltham. All of this was done over a pint or two.