Following on from my post last week about Beer in the Letters of Martin Luther, I thought I would share a few more interesting stories about the great Reformer’s love for beer. My favourite Luther quote is one that I expressed myself many times when I was in the ministry:
I’d rather my people were in the alehouse thinking of church,
than in church thinking of the alehouse.
My congregation also appreciated this philosophy which resulted in many a Sunday evening trip to the Magdalen Arms where we would would discuss (amongst other topics) the finer points of amillenialist eschatology or how many squirrels it would take to fight a badger.
Luther, I think, would have approved. He himself enjoyed similar sessions with his students either at the local pub or in his home, where they would drink ale and discuss theology late into the night. His students later wrote up some of the discussions which became the volume “Table Talk“.
Indeed, it was a favourite passtime of Luther to drink and talk with his friends. He famously commented:
See how much he [God] has been able to accomplish through me, though I did no more than pray and preach. The Word did it all. Had I wished I might have started a conflagration at Worms. But while I sat still and drank beer with Philip and Amsdorf, God dealt the papacy a mighty blow.
He graciously played donwn his own part in the momentous events that were occuring and gives God all the credit, and he is also unashamedly honest about the amount of time he spent in the pub. A model, I feel, for any budding theologians today.
I close with another of my favourite stories about Luther. One of his biographers, John M. Todd notes that Luther had an enormous beer stein which had three rings encircling it which he named “the Ten Commandments”, “the Creed” and “the Lord’s Prayer”. He used to boast he could encompass all three with ease, and he would mock his friend Melancthon (the Philip from the previous quote) when he could not make it past the first ring. “Why, you are still stuck in the Law!” he would exclaim in what is surely the first joke in Protestant Theology.