I’m sure some of you more distinguished theologians drink better whiskey than I do. But I’m a housewife theologian in West Virginia. So we have a proclivity to one of the three wise men, Jack Daniels. There’s a four point process to Jack’s wisdom that I realized also makes for a good theologian. (As you can see, I’m having a little bit of fun here, try not to take me too seriously on this one.):
For smoothness, that is. Often, when one first discovers the beauty of good theology, maybe sparked by the introduction of the doctrines of grace, they enter what has been referred to as the infamous “cage stage.” They want to proselytize all their family and friends. But it backfires because the overzealous enthusiasm can be a bit of a turn off. A good theologian needs to be mellowed for smoothness.
Jack Daniels uses the process of dripping their whiskey through ten feet of sugar maple charcoal. God uses the ordinary means of grace of the preached Word and the sacraments. I’m thankful for both.
For character, of course. One of the elders in my church said something in Sunday School the other week that has really stuck with me. He was quoting John MacArthur, “It is not spiritual maturity to submit my will to Christ. It is spiritual maturity to will with Christ for that which He wills.” A mature believer delights in the sovereignty of God. This also makes reminds me that a mature theologian doesn’t just learn God’s truth for the sake of being right. They don’t find all the answers so that they can then practically apply them to their life and live as good Christians. A mature theologian longs to intimately know more and more about God. And the further they search and study, the more in awe they are of his magnificent beauty, holiness, power, goodness, and mercy.
Jack is matured in handcrafted barrels. How do they know when it is mature? Here’s the answer they provide on their website: “Just like with people, a barrel of whiskey doesn’t mature with age. It’s ready when it’s ready. We judge it with a sip.” Which leads me to our next point…
For flavor, baby. Theology is not a mere academic study. Sure, it is objective in the sense that God’s inerrant Word is our authority, revealing the Father, Son, and Holy Spirit to us. “All Scripture is breathed out by God and profitable for teaching, for reproof, for correction, and for training in righteousness” (2 Tim. 3:16). But theology is also relational. God’s Word is living, powerful, and effectual. A good theologian has tasted and seen that the Lord is good. And not only that, a good theologian then goes out bearing fruit. I am reminded of Colossians 1:9-10, “And so, from the day we heard, we have not ceased to pray for you, asking that you may be filled with the knowledge of his will in all spiritual wisdom and understanding, so as to walk in a manner worthy of the Lord, fully pleasing to him, bearing fruit in every good work and increasing in the knowledge of God.”
And for Jack, well, he is also known by his fruits, or vanillas, caramels, and toasted oak. The taste-testing process involves a sort of ‘which glass is not the same,’ routine to ensure the consistent flavor of ol’ Jack.
Because good quality is rewarded. Good theologians understand that the learning about their God is rewarding. It is a privilege to learn more about how we have been qualified by our great Redeemer, Jesus Christ, and will be awarded with his inheritance. Even now, we can run the race with perseverance for the prize. Good theologians hold fast for that great day when we will behold the ultimate reward, the beatific vision. We will no longer walk by faith, but by sight, as we behold the face of God.
Jack Daniels has fittingly received 7 gold metals since 1904. First St. Louis, then Belgium, England, and even Amsterdam has joined in awarding Jack for his goodness. But don’t confuse these seven gold medals for Old. No. 7. “Truth is, only Jack Daniel knows the true meaning behind Old No. 7. And we won’t be hearing from him any time soon.”
Theologians have a privilege that Jack Daniels drinkers do not. We do hear from God in his Word. We can turn to it whenever we want, it never runs out, and we don’t need to stop with moderate intake.
And there you have it: good whiskey and good theology. Just to sneak in a 5th point (because, after all, I’m a calvinist) good theology is covenantal. Although we can enjoy both good whisky and good theology alone, God has given his Word for his bride, the church. We are the body of Christ, called out to worship together, gifted to serve one another, and to receive Christ and all his blessings.
“And let us consider how to stir up one another to love and good works, not neglecting to meet together, as is the habit of some, but encouraging one another, and all the more as you see the Day drawing near” (Heb. 10:24-25).