Hymns & Hops in Greenville, SC

Greenville, South Carolina, has long been a bastion of fundamentalism because of the presence of Bob Jones University, but it is fast becoming a bastion of emerging churchism. A sign of the times is Hymns & Hops, which has grown from a gathering of 80 in 2016 to gatherings of over 1,000 in 2020. Hymns & Hops “creates the space for families and people to celebrate the Gospel through community, song, and drink.” The motto that is featured prominently on its web site is “Sing loud, die happy,” which sounds like the theme song for 2 Timothy 4:3-4. One of the testimonials says, “There is nothing like worship at a brewery.” The rapid change in attitude toward drinking among “Bible believing” Christians is a major sign of the times. Baptist pastor Charles Spurgeon said, “Next to the preaching of the Gospel, the most necessary thing to be done in England is to induce our people to become abstainers” (1882), and, “Those beer shops are the curse of this country–no good ever can come of them, and the evil they do no tongue can tell. The beer shops are a pest. The sooner their licenses are taken away, the better” (1884). According to Baptist historian Gregory Wills, since at least the mid-1800s Baptists have held “that a minister who drank alcoholic beverages was disqualified to preach” (The Southern Baptist Theological Seminary 1859-2009). When I was a kid growing up in a Southern Baptist church, evangelicals and Baptists in America did not drink and did not go to bars. Exceptions were rare. Schools such as Wheaton and Baylor had rules against drinking. By the 1960s, due to the influence of the loose, anti-separatist, New Evangelical philosophy, evangelicals were beginning to accept “social drinking.” In the 1980s and 1990s Contemporary Christian Music continued to push the boundaries of worldliness. In 1993, Michael W. Smith, one of the most prominent voices in CCM, complained in an interview, “You’re always going to have those very, very conservative people. They say you can’t do this; you can’t do that. You can’t DRINK, you can’t smoke. It’s a pretty bizarre way of thinking” (The Birmingham News, Feb. 1993, p. 1B). By the turn of the 21st century, many evangelicals were embracing drinking with enthusiasm. The book Listening to the Beliefs of Emerging Churches: Five Perspectives contains probably a dozen references to the joys of drinking. They all condemn drunkenness and call for drinking in moderation, but very few drunks have ever set out to become drunks. Commenting on Proverbs 20:1, Bruce Lackey, who played piano in bars before he was saved, said, “How is alcoholic wine deceptive? In the very way that people are advocating today, by saying that drinking a little bit will not hurt. Everyone admits that drinking too much is bad. Even the liquor companies tell us not to drink and drive, but they insist that a small amount is all right. However, that is the very thing that is deceptive. Who knows how little to drink? Experts tell us that each person is different. It takes an ounce to affect one, while more is necessary for another. The same person will react to alcohol differently in different situations, depending on the amount of food he has had, among other things. So the idea that ‘a little bit won’t hurt’ is deceptive.” “Wine is a mocker, strong drink is raging: and whosoever is deceived thereby is not wise” (Proverbs 20:1).

(Friday Church News Notes, January 22, 2021, www.wayoflife.org fbns@wayoflife.org , 866-295-4143)