Bible Review 18:2, April 2002

Jesus the Teetotaler

How Dr. Welch put the Lord on the wagon

By Michael M. HomanMark A. Gstohl

Jesus drank wine (Mark 14:23–25; Matthew 26:27–29; Luke 22:17–18). He even produced wine: When the alcohol supply dwindled at the wedding in Cana, a youthful Jesus turned six jars of water—holding 20 to 30 gallons each—into wine (John 2:1–11). Pretty impressive for a guy’s first miracle.

For centuries, Christians have commemorated Jesus’ imbibition at the Last Supper by drinking wine during Holy Communion. The Catholic Church has always used wine during eucharistic celebrations, as did all Protestant denominations until just over a century ago. Martin Luther along with John Calvin and Ulrich Zwingli agreed that wine should be used in the celebration of the Eucharist.

Why then do several Protestant denominations in America—including many Methodist and Southern Baptist churches—claim that Jesus never drank alcohol?

Ironically, it was the European wine industry that put in motion the idea of a teetotaling1 Jesus, by financing Louis Pasteur’s research to find a method to destroy the bacteria that were spoiling their vintages.

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