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Joined: 2006/9/16
Posts: 2692

 John Piper stirring the pot

A post by Pastor John Piper of Minnesota on Saturday, Sept. 30, has sparked a heated debate about the appropriateness of drinking coffee during Sunday church services.

"Can we reassess whether Sunday coffee-sipping in the sanctuary fits?" asked Piper on X, formerly known as Twitter.

Piper, a Baptist, is a theologian, pastor and chancellor of Bethlehem College & Seminary in Minneapolis.

Piper added that Hebrews 12:28 states, "Let us offer to God acceptable worship, with reverence and awe."

Piper's post has garnered over 1,000 responses, with some users appearing shocked at the very idea of bringing coffee into solemn church services — while others didn't seem phased in the least.

"I think we have bigger fish to fry, John. Personally, I'm in awe God puts up with me at all, Sunday through Saturday," wrote X user @Kellys_ex.

"There is a valid principle to consider here, whether or not you agree w/this particular application," noted another user, @NathanielJolly. "Those w/ a heart & concern for reverential worship & holiness should take some time to consider the principle."

Fox News Digital reached out to Piper for comment.

Said one Roman Catholic priest in response to a Fox News Digital query, "Who's drinking coffee during Mass?!"

In Roman Catholic, Orthodox, Coptic and certain Protestant denominations, adherents are required to fast from food and beverages prior to receiving the Eucharist.

Coffee inb church? Thousands of people thought about the issue after a prominent Baptist pastor posed a question on social media about its appropriateness. (iStock)

Each tradition has its own rules regarding how long adherents should fast, as their various websites noted.

Canon 919 of the Code of Canon Law states that those who will be receiving communion must fast from all food and beverages other than water for at least one hour prior to reception.

The fasting time frame used to be longer, Fr. Paul Hedman of the Archdiocese of Saint Paul and Minneapolis told Fox News Digital.

"For a long time, this fast was from midnight — 'breakfast' is when you ‘broke the fast,’" said the Roman Catholic priest. "In recent times, this was reduced to three hours and now one hour prior to receiving communion," he said.

In practice, this means that Catholics who will be receiving communion should not eat or drink about 20 minutes prior to the start of Mass, he said.

"While no Church law prevents someone who isn't receiving communion from eating or drinking at Mass, it would be unseemly for anyone to do so other than young children, as the sanctuary and nave of a Catholic Church are spaces consecrated specifically for worship," said Fr. Hedman.

Sarah St. Onge, who describes herself as Lutheran and is based in New York, wrote on X that she was "shocked at all of you," meaning those who defended the idea of drinking coffee during religious services.

St. Onge later clarified that while the strong language in her tweet was "in jest," she's still vehemently opposed to people bringing coffee to church — although she did not believe it was a sin.

"I have never said it's a sin to drink coffee in church, so no, I am not being legalistic, judgmental, whatever," she said.

"The average American church service lasts less than two hours," St. Onge also told Fox News Digital.

And the average person, she said, should be able to "manage two hours without having a coffee."

Some people argued on X that coffee in the sanctuary was completely fine and even in line with biblical teaching.

"'Worship' is about the community coming together. So yes, coffee (and of course tea!) absolutely fits — hospitality is a gift from above," Ryan Peter, an author and musician, posted in response to Piper's original query.

X user "Freedom Dude" said that drinking coffee in church "keeps my mind sharp and ready to receive the Word."

He added, "I see no problem with it as long as it's not a distraction."

Rev. Hans Fiene, pastor of Prince of Peace Lutheran Church in Crestwood, Missouri, is not in favor of church attendees drinking coffee during religious services.

"While the vast majority of Lutherans I know are coffee lovers, I've known very few who would ever think of bringing a cup of it into the sanctuary during the divine service," Fiene told Fox News Digital.

A social media post about the acceptability of having coffee during church services sparked a viral debate and thousands of replies on X (formerly known as Twitter). (iStock)

Fiene added that for Lutherans, "Holy worship is far more than a theological lecture. It's gathering to receive Christ's forgiveness, life and salvation."

He also said, "When God pours out these gifts upon us through His word and sacraments, that makes our sanctuary the holiest place on earth. Let's not turn our Father's house into a house of fair trade dark roast."

Not all clergy members who spoke to Fox News Digital about the issue are opposed to members of their congregations sipping coffee in the middle of Sunday services.

Fr. Chris Steele, pastor of St. Christopher's Episcopal Church in Dallas, Texas, told Fox News Digital that in his parish, "coffee seems to be the 8th sacrament."

The Episcopalians, he said, do not have formal rules in place regarding fasting before the reception of Communion. (There is no mention of fasting in The Principles of Canon Law Common to the Churches of the Anglican Communion, nor in the Episcopal Church's Constitution and Canons.)

"Being the coffee cop isn't a good use of my time."
— Fr. Chris Steele of Dallas, Texas

"There's a broad spectrum of practices," Steele said. "Some [people] do fast, but it's personal. Not many bring anything but water to the Eucharist, but during Morning Prayer on weekdays, it's common."

St. Christopher's, said Steele, has a "casual but reverent" approach to worship. "We're small and I'm busy enough that being the coffee cop isn't a good use of my time," he said.

The debate over coffee in church is a complete non-starter for the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-Day Saints, also known as the Mormons.

Coffee is strictly forbidden — at all times.

Coffee is one of several substances prohibited for members of the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-Day Saints. (iStock)

"In the early 1800s, God revealed a law of physical and spiritual health that we refer to as the Word of Wisdom," says the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-Day Saints on its website. "In this law, God details foods that are good for us to eat as well as substances we should avoid because of the harm they cause our bodies."

Coffee, along with tea and alcohol, are among the substances that members of the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-Day Saints avoid.

A rabbi based in Florida shared his perspective with Fox News Digital on the notion of drinking coffee during religious services.

"In Jewish tradition, prayer is an opportunity to dialogue with, praise and even make requests from Almighty God," said Rabbi Pinchas Taylor of Plantation, Florida, who serves as director of the American Faith Coalition, a not-for-profit organization focused on sharing the moral laws and spiritual values of the Hebrew Bible.

"Prayer is an exercise in humility, and sipping coffee during the prayer experience seems to be something casual and irreverent."

"Attending synagogue and praying with a congregation is geared to create the experience of approaching a king," Taylor also said. "With that in mind, we do things that help us get into that mindset. For example, we dress up in a way that we would, were we in front of a king of flesh and blood. We put on certain garb — not because God ‘cares’ what we wear, but to put ourselves in the headspace of standing before the King of Kings."

He added, "Prayer is an exercise in humility, and sipping coffee during the prayer experience seems to be something casual and irreverent, not befitting being in the focused presence of royalty … Overall, this seems like something that should be avoided."

(Article by Christine Rousselle, a lifestyle reporter with Fox News Digital).

Me: Well, whatever you think, you can't say the issue is not presently relevant.

David Winter

 2023/10/5 10:05Profile

Joined: 2006/8/10
Posts: 648

 Re: John Piper stirring the pot

My church banned drinking anything but plain water in the sanctuary because of fear of staining the carpet and/or pews and not because of anything having to do with unrighteousness. I totally agreed with their decision.


 2023/10/5 10:21Profile

Joined: 2023/6/24
Posts: 325


I think the fact that this is even a news worthy issue is revealing, and just goes to show how far removed people are from the reality of God.

The presence of the Rabbis comment should be most shocking, as our primary mission as the church is to provoke Israel to jealousy... sadly these issues even being issues is a dramatic failure.

 2023/10/5 11:09Profile

Joined: 2011/10/21
Posts: 1967
Dothan, Alabama

 Re: John Piper stirring the pot

Perhaps CRT is a bigger threat to his congregation than coffee ….🤔

While I have been blessed by the preaching of JP, JM, DP etc…
That was years ago and they each seem to have been infected by the popular social schemes of the current age-
Having said this Voddie seems to have remained founded in Biblical studies and has carried the torch as it were.
We should pray for these men to come to repentance 🙏🏻


 2023/10/5 11:24Profile

Joined: 2011/6/15
Posts: 523

 Re: John Piper stirring the pot

Docs - that article is just Piper stirring the coffee cup :P

This article discusses him stirring a bigger receptacle, in more tempestuous ways:

(it's also been discussed on "The Heidelblog", a reformed-oriented website)

 2023/10/22 5:19Profile

Joined: 2023/10/30
Posts: 1


I believe that the fact this issue is considered newsworthy is telling, highlighting how distant people have become from the concept of God's reality.

 2023/10/30 22:53Profile

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