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In August, Moody Bible Institute lifted its alcohol and tobacco ban for its 600 full-time employees, following recent similar moves by Wheaton College, Huntington University, and Asbury Seminary.

Moody spokesperson Brian Regnerus said the change "came out of a desire in Moody's leadership to reflect a high-trust environment that emphasizes values, not rules," and to "require no more and no less than what God's Word requires."

"We are giving employees the freedom that God gives them," Regnerus said. "We trust that they have the wisdom and spiritual maturity to make appropriate choices for their lives and the communities in which they are a part." He also said that Moody is not advocating for alcohol use.

But some conservative Christians really are advocating for it.

Ben Smith, cofounder of Reclamation Brewing Company in Butler, Pennsylvania, said that for too long, American evangelicals have talked more about the "evils" of alcohol than its potential benefits.

"The craft beer industry has really boomed in the past 10 years and has shown people that beer isn't all about getting wasted," he said. "It's about admiring the beauty in it and seeing it as a gift." For Smith and the other founders of Reclamation (including his father, a Reformed Baptist pastor), craft beer is an art to be enjoyed, like all of God's gifts.

Peter Green, whose PhD research at Wheaton focuses on the theological significance of wine and vineyard themes in Scripture, says the Bible presents alcoholic drinks as an indicator and facilitator of human and divine relationships.

"The Old Testament is unambiguous that wine and other alcoholic beverages ...

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December 2013

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