Tertullian (c. 160-220 AD)
Tertullian strikingly compared the strong penalty of the Levitical priests to ministers in the Church. ‘For abstinence from wine withal has honourable badges of its own… So true is it, that such as shall have ministered in the Church, being not sober, shall “die”’.
(Tertullian, Fasts, Ch. 9, ‘From Fasts Absolute Tertullian Comes to Partial Ones and Xerophagies’, citing Leviticus 10:9) See also: Tertullian said Timothy NOT drinking would help his stomach (160-220 AD)
“Do not drink wine or intoxicating drink, you, nor your sons with you, when you go into the tabernacle of meeting, lest you die. It shall be a statute forever throughout your generations, that you may distinguish between holy and unholy, and between unclean and clean, and that you may teach the children of Israel all the statutes which the Lord has spoken to them by the hand of Moses.” (Leviticus 10:9-11)
‘42. Let a bishop, or presbyter, or deacon who indulges himself in dice [i.e. gambling] or drinking, either leave off those practices, or let him be deprived.
43. If a sub-deacon, a reader, or a singer does the like, either let him leave off, or let him be suspended; and so for one of the laity.
44. Let a bishop, or presbyter, or deacon who requires usury of those he lends to, either leave off to do so, or let him be deprived.’
(Ecclesiastical Canons 42-44)
‘42… This and the two following canons should be included in the number of the most ancient so-called apostolic canons. Their origin is unknown.’
(‘A History of the Christian Councils, From the Original Documents, To the Close of the Council of Nicæa, A.D. 325’, 1871 By Karl Joseph von Hefele, translated from German by William R. Clark, p. 476) Continue reading “Early church rules against drinking alcohol”