HE was regarded the first Pope to make his resignation intentions known to the cardinals due to “lack of strength of mind and body.” Pope Benedict XVI made this pronouncement on February 11, 2013, while the resignation proper occurred on February 28, 2013. Other popes before him either resigned or were forced to do so. These include Pope Gregory X11 (1415) and Pope Celestine V (1294).
Though retired, Pope Benedict is still referred to as His Holiness, as he keeps the designation of Pope and still wears the papal colour of white. On March 13, 2013, the current Pope Francis took over office from him, while he moved into the newly renovated monastery, Mater Ecclesiae, before his retirement on May 2, 2013.
Recently, Pope Benedict clocked 88, and to celebrate the occasion, Pope Emeritus organised a cocktail, where invited guests drank beer. This generated some controversy, as some people wondered whether this act is not in direct opposition to Biblical injunction on alcohol. Did they really stray from the Bible’s position on alcohol?
For instance, Leviticus 10:9, says, “Do not drink wine nor strong drink, thou, nor thy sons with thee, when ye go into the tabernacle of the congregation, lest ye die: it shall be a statute for ever throughout your generations…”
Another portion of the Bible (Psalm 104:15) states “…and wine that maketh glad the heart of man…”
On his view on the issue, David John-Iheagwam, a worshipper with one of the largest Pentecostal churches in the country, said:
“I keep asking where in the scriptures it is said that a Christian cannot drink alcohol. But my pastor keeps referring me to the Old Testament, where it is said that you should give strong drink to those who want to die. And I asked him to show me the same thing in the New Testament, where it is stated. What did Jesus Christ say and do concerning alcohol? Jesus Christ drank wine in the Bible.
“The truth is that once church leaders take a particular position on an issue, they start looking for scriptures to back their position. Any scripture that does not support their position is deliberately ignored. They don’t refer to it. And so, if you belong to any of these denominations, you may not know that those aspects of the scripture exist.
“For instance, let me repeat what Jesus Christ said in Matthew 11:18: “For John (talking about John the Baptist) came neither eating nor drinking and they say he has a demon. But the Son of man came, eating and drinking and they say look at “a gluttonous man and winebibber” and elsewhere in Mark it says, “a glutton and drunkard”. Because John neither ate nor drank, what did the people say? “That the man was a demon, a possessed person. He was a mad man, as he didn’t eat, he didn’t drink. Jesus Christ came and was drinking with sinners. And what did they say? That He was a friend of sinners; that He was also a drunkard. Let me tell you, Jesus Christ’s goal was focused on winning souls and reconciling man back to God. He didn’t look down on anybody. If he went to a place, where people were drinking, He would sit with them. He ate and drank, but He was never drunk.
“If you are in doubt, please listen to this: when Apostle Paul was writing to the church in Corinth, he expressed his displeasure with the people there because they were getting drunk with the Communion wine and he cautioned them.
“And you discover that a lot of people like me that attend these churches drink. One of the things I’ve told myself is that I won’t pretend over something I do. There are some pastors and church members that drink secretly. Why should I take beer in the secret and come in the open to condemn it?
“For instance, if my pastor comes to my house and there is also another visitor, I would ask, “sir, what would you like to take? If he says water, I will give him that, and if he says beer and I have beer, I will offer it to him. However, the only thing is that you should never drink to the point of getting drunk. I like holding my own views on issues. And they know me in church that I am like that. I don’t hide my feelings. There are certain issues I don’t agree with the church, though I worship with them.
“What the Bible preaches is moderation; you can only abuse alcohol, when you take it excessively. Some churches believe this, while others are against it. In my church, they know that I don’t speak in tongues and I’m not going to pretend about it. I don’t believe it is compulsory for one to speak in tongues. If you read that scripture very well, it says that as the apostles were speaking in different languages, people around them heard these languages, but is it like that today? Why are those speaking in tongues today not readily understood by other members? If you are speaking in Efik or Ibibio, an Ibibio or Efik brother or sister should hear what you are saying, but it is not like that today. Let us be frank about it. If you speak in tongues and there is no interpreter, how do you edify the people because that is the purpose? The kind of speaking tongues I want are those spoken on the day of Pentecost. You speak a particular language, but you can neither understand nor interpret same; so edifying one another becomes a difficult task. It is better for me to pray in the language that I understand than confuse the congregation.
“That is one of the problems I have with Rev. Chris Okotie. He made a mistake, when he told the world that God told him he was going to be Nigeria’s President. If he had said that God told him that one day he would become president, it would have been better and face-saving. But he was specific and during the election, he got less than 50,000 votes and did not become president. We are now in 2016. So, the question I really ask is: Was it God that really spoke to him?
“Let me conclude with this: one day, something happened to me. I was in my room drinking beer, when one of my children came and said: “Daddy, don’t you want to go to heaven?” I didn’t answer him. Again, he said: “Daddy, you are drinking, don’t you want to go to heaven?” I just laughed over it and he left. Another day, he repeated the same thing: “Daddy, don’t you want to go to heaven?” Then I took time to explain things to him. I asked him: “Do they teach you in the church that a Christian shouldn’t drink beer?” He said ‘yes.’ So, I sat him down and lectured him on what the Bible says concerning alcohol. I told him that the Bible only says that a person shouldn’t get drunk and then asked him, ‘have you ever seen daddy getting drunk?’ He said ‘no’.
“Since then, you cannot tell him anything about beer. I have also made it known that drinking beer is not compulsory. I told him, ‘after all, your mom doesn’t drink; so it is not compulsory. You must not drink. But if you do, just don’t get drunk.’ I also told him that he must be an adult before he starts taking alcohol, if at all he wants to.
“So, let us give the people proper and accurate information. Even the normal food you take, do you know if you eat more than you are supposed to, you start experiencing constipation and things like that,” he queried.
What has a nutritionist and food technology expert, Mrs. Coker Dolapo, got to say about drinking of beer?
“Moderation is the watchword. Moderate intake of beer can positively impact the health and well-being of women.”
She added that though beer is an alcoholic beverage, but it can also be classified as food, because of its nutrient values. She listed these to include: carbohydrates such as dextrins and polysaccharides; proteins in the form of amino acids; load of vitamins comprising the B vitamins, vitamin C and folic acid, among others; such minerals as magnesium, potassium, silicon and selenium among others. Beer also contains such fibre as betaglucans among others.