Christians and Alcohol

Baptists in North America have a strong tradition of teetotaling piety. For Southern Baptists, however, the issue is a live one again as dissenters are making the case for Christian freedom to partake in moderation. In 2006, the Southern Baptist Convention passed a resolution promoting total abstinence, but the measure only passed after a debate with a vocal minority. The fact that there was even a debate is significant for a denomination that has been fairly consistent on this issue. The SBC has passed over forty such resolutions since 1886.

That is why the latest issue of the Criswell Theological Review is devoted entirely to the ethical question of “Christians and Alcohol.” The journal includes articles that represent both sides of the issue. Dr. Richard Land and Dr. Barrett Duke argue for the total abstinence position, and Dr. Kenneth Gentry argues for the “balanced use of alcohol” (p. 40).

Land and Duke’s article is available for download from the journal’s website. I think that you will find that what they present is not your father’s total abstinence argument. They do not claim, for instance, that the Greek word for wine really means grape juice. To give you an example of what I’m talking about, take a look at the following sentences which are taken right out of the article:

“Alcohol as a substance is not inherently evil” (p. 22).

“It is clear that the Bible does not condemn all uses of alcohol” (p. 27).

“In Paul’s day, it would have been very difficult for someone not to drink wine. The alcohol content made it one of the safest liquids to drink” (p. 29).

“It certainly appears that Jesus was not a Nazirite. In fact it seems that there were times when he drank beverages that contained alcohol” (p. 31).

“It is obvious that one can find instances in the Bible when people drank alcoholic beverages. While most of these are negative, some clearly are not” (p. 33).

“Scholars are in general agreement that the phrase referred to wine, and we are not claiming that wine was not used in the celebration of the Lord’s Supper” (p. 33).

If you want to find out how Land and Duke get from these statements to a total abstinence position, you’ll have to read the rest of the article. I hope you’ll order a copy of the entire journal and read the rest of them as well.

UPDATE! – The editor of CTR has also made available Dr. Gentry’s article which argues that the Bible allows drinking alcohol in moderation.

——————————–

John Piper has an old sermon defending the total abstinence position. He writes this:

For myself and my family the way I have decided to go is total abstinence. I also believe, in general, that this is the best way for all believers in America today to go. There are four basic reasons. As I describe them, I will try to make their biblical basis clear.

1. First, I choose not to drink because of my conscience. . .

2. The second reason is that alcohol is a mind-altering drug. . .

3. The third reason why I choose total abstinence is that alcohol is addictive. . .

4. The fourth reason I choose total abstinence is to make a social statement. . .

For these four reasons, then, I am a very happy teetotaler, and I think you should be too.

Read the rest here:

“Total Abstinence and Church Membership” – by John Piper

129 Responses to Christians and Alcohol

  1. Quixote April 21, 2008 at 8:23 am #

    Denny,

    Speaking of resolutions and the SBC, is it true that they intend this year to debate speaking in tongues, cessationist vs. continuist?

  2. Denny Burk April 21, 2008 at 8:25 am #

    I have no idea.

  3. Joshua April 21, 2008 at 9:02 am #

    While they might pass such a paper, I still know good Southern Baptists that will say its inherently evil. Though I am not Baptist any longer, when I turned 21 I sought God on the issue. I’d had my drink here or there before 21, as most people, however due to the fact it was now legal, and it wouldn’t be my parents letting me finish theirs or something, I sought God, through prayer and studying of the Bible. The verse that really stuck out to me was (I forget the reference), “everything in moderation.” And I take this to heart. I have gotten tipsy once, and thus by that accidental time, I now know my limit and I am very precautious about when, where, and how much I drink.

    I just wish other people could say the same. And I like the fact that the SBC is being real about this issue, I just wish it could teach that to some of its people.

  4. Vlad April 21, 2008 at 9:26 am #

    Does anyone think this paper puts any good arguments on the table? I just read it, and I gotta tell you, I think it is pretty weak. Yes drunkness kills people and yes the alchohol industry is wicked, but no one in the SBC (that I know of) is arguing for drunkeness and you can always buy your favorite beverage from local and socially responsible companies. At best, they prove drunkeness is wrong, but again, that is nothing new. It is statements like this that are so troubling from intellectual leaders in our denom:

    Those who cannot find chapter and verse to justify consuming alcohol still argue that their freedom in Christ enables them to imbibe.

    First, of course you dont need a bible reference to do something. I dont find a verse telling me it’s OK to drink caffeine, but presumably I am free to do that despite the economical exploitation of the coffee industry and the high caloric content of many coffee drinks. The Bible warns against greed and storing treasures but I dont need a bible verse to use money responsibly. Second, perhaps the reason we dont find verses in favor of drinking is because IT WAS THE COMMON PRACTICE. No verse saying “it’s OK to drink” was needed because people just did so. The verses that were needed (and are needed) are those saying it’s wrong to drink. Duke/Land are wrong to see this as counting against responsible drinking. I mean, that Jesus drank and gave people alchohol beverage to drink seems to “justify” alchohol consumption. Maybe a lower level alchohol wine/beer. Maybe locally grown so as not to support big and evil alchohol business. But nonetheless, it is reason think in following Christ we too can enjoy beverage alchohol and thus, the whole argument for beverage alchohol prohibition is really weak.

  5. Vlad April 21, 2008 at 9:59 am #

    “The verses that were needed (and are needed) are those saying it’s wrong to drink.”

    I meant to say get drunk here.

    -Vlad

  6. Lucas Knisely April 21, 2008 at 10:08 am #

    I’m printing off the article to read. If I have time I will write a lengthy response to this.

  7. D.J. Williams April 21, 2008 at 11:06 am #

    Vlad quoted (the article I guess)…
    “Those who cannot find chapter and verse to justify consuming alcohol still argue that their freedom in Christ enables them to imbibe.”

    I would say that Deuteronomy 14:24-26 and Psalm 104:14-15 are pretty good places to start our effort to “justify.” 🙂

    As for this “diluted with water” business, I think that Isaiah 1:21-22 casts this idea in a less than favorable light, since the passage compares diluted wine to impure silver, whoredom, harboring murders, and metaphorically, sin.

  8. Lucas Knisely April 21, 2008 at 11:20 am #

    Adding to D.J. Williams final point…. Jesus’ first miracle has a reference to a common cultural practice. And within the reference we hear that people get drunk from the wine. And then we hear that the wine made from water is “the good wine”. I wonder if the article, which I’m about to read, has anything to say about Jesus’ first miracle being one that probably ended in people getting drunk.

  9. Vlad April 21, 2008 at 11:27 am #

    I heard a great sermon recently where the pastor made the point that a life without Christ is like a wedding without wine!

    -Vlad

  10. Ferg April 21, 2008 at 12:10 pm #

    I wouldn’t mind if Jesus turned up at my wedding next week to make more wine, it’s so expensive!!!

  11. MatthewS April 21, 2008 at 12:29 pm #

    “For these four reasons, then, I am a very happy teetotaler, and I think you should be too.”

    One the one hand, those whose lives have been damaged by alcoholism (perhaps by the alcoholism of others) may find nothing redeemable in drinking. The sight and smell of alcohol may only mean bad things to them. We owe these people great consideration and deference.

    On the other, there are those who appreciate a nice wine with dinner or brew their own quality beer or whatever and who never go to excess.

    I react negatively to someone who does not know my place in life and is not personally involved in my life telling me what decision I should make on such an issue. “I am a happy teetotaler” is one thing; “I think you should be, too” is where I push back.

  12. D.J. Williams April 21, 2008 at 12:50 pm #

    MatthewS said…
    ““I am a happy teetotaler” is one thing; “I think you should be, too” is where I push back.”

    Amen a million times over.

  13. Frankly Mr Shankly April 21, 2008 at 12:50 pm #

    So, if Duke/Land realize that Jesus most likely or probably drank wine, how can they suggest a prohibition on all alcoholic beverage consumption as being either wise or holy and not impugn Jesus?

  14. Matt Svoboda April 21, 2008 at 1:50 pm #

    I’m only 20… I have no say. But if I was 21, give me a drink!!!

    Ok, but seriously. This article is not great, but it is a good step in the right direction.

  15. Brett April 21, 2008 at 4:36 pm #

    MatthewS,

    I echo D.J. Williams in saying “amen a million times over” to the above statement. That was my biggest issue with Piper’s statement. He’s basically throwing his convictions on everybody else. I mean, maybe I have a conviction not to watch tv because of some of the things on there and the waste of time it can often be, while also it can lead to slothfulness, sexual immorality, idolatry, etc. How many people would be happy if I said, “I am a happy television abstainer…I think you should be too”? I mean seriously, this is putting heavy burdens on other people’s backs at best.

    That being said, I grew up in a Southern Baptist church and I seriously thought until I turned 22 that even taking a sip of alcohol is a sin. It took a while for me to be convinced of the ridiculousness of that belief, but I certainly see it now. It’s just law and traditions. I understand the arguments of some abstainers, but do not push your convictions on me please. I enjoy having a beer when I’m grilling out or a glass of wine when I’m having dinner with friends. My wife likes having mixed drinks. Big deal? We don’t get drunk, it doesn’t violate our consciences, we don’t do it around weaker brothers/sisters, who cares?

  16. Steve April 21, 2008 at 7:05 pm #

    Friends, I have seen many Christian friends reap the ruin of alcoholism, destroyed marriages, destroyed lives because someone said to them “You have the freedom to do this.” They had grown up in legalistic Baptist homes… and this was the method of “coming out of” suppression and asserting their independance.
    I grew up in a home where alcoholism was expected. I was getting drunk at age 13! Converted at 17 I was nearly kicked out of the family for attending a Bible college.
    The problem you are experiencing is one of culture overshadowing personal (gospel- motivated) convictions.
    Pastors need to teach more clearly:
    Let folk know that they are saved by grace!
    Let folk know its dumb to drink!
    Let folk know that they could have on their consciences the deaths through stupidity induced by alcohol, and death through alcoholism of the people they encourage to drink.

    If you examine the causes of illhealth resulting in death you will discover that most people who drink wind up dying of “alcohol related causes.”

    Many friends and family members have died that way.
    John Piper says.. “One-half of all traffic fatalities are the direct result of the abuse of alcohol.” Ambulance officers say it is MUCH higher.. 95% of fatalities are either alcohol or drug caused.

    I recently conducted a funeral for a 45 year old who hadn’t touched drink since he was 24. He died of alcohol related causes. He killed his liver and his health through 3 years of binge drinking.

    When you encourage folks by your example to drink, you could very well be responsible for their deaths. No man is an island!

    Do you really want that on your conscience?

    I have the memories of many who have died in this way on my coscience for I wonder if had I warned them more severely, perhaps they would be alive today!

    Steve

  17. MatthewS April 21, 2008 at 7:19 pm #

    Steve,

    I agree that alcohol abuse has caused great damage. It is easy to commit to never drinking when looking at a coffin occupied by one of its victims.

    But if making rules for people to follow would remove the danger of them being hurt by sin, then the fruit of the flesh / fruit of the Spirit lists are misguided. However, making rules doesn’t work. Forcing your lifestyle decisions on someone else doesn’t work. Teaching people to be moderate, wise, led by the Spirit works. We all know people who have rejected “rules without relationship” (two of my brothers are in this category). None of us knows anyone who has ever been led by the Spirit to engage in such excess. So I say: don’t waste your time on rules that won’t work anyway. Instead, spend your time gently leading people to be Spirit-led and then celebrate the good fruit that results!

    PS It is a good idea to spend a little time in an AA, Celebrate Recovery, or other program that ministers to those walking away from such abuses.

    (Not trying to be combative. I think my comment sounds heated by I don’t mean it to be attacking.)

  18. Steve Grose April 21, 2008 at 7:37 pm #

    Matt… I think you didn’t read carefully my comment..
    “They had grown up in legalistic Baptist homes… and this was the method of “coming out of” suppression and asserting their independance….
    The problem you are experiencing is one of culture overshadowing personal (gospel- motivated) convictions.
    Pastors need to teach more clearly:
    Let folk know that they are saved by grace!

    I identified 2 problems.. “rules without relationships” (oh that is sooo emergent to express it that way… and also so legalistic… the gospel of grace is the motivator for sanctification.. not “relationship”… which can include all sorts of Christian, sub-Christian and non-Christian phenomena).
    There is the reaction to legalism… which is counteracted with a good dose of gospel..
    There is the danger of preaching liberty on alcohol consumption without making people aware of the very real dangers that threaten their homes, their lives and their families should they pursue this liberty.

    Sometimes rules come into force when people are not sensible enough to act responsibly.
    Steve

  19. Denny Burk April 21, 2008 at 10:37 pm #

    For those who are interested, the editor of CTR has just made available the article by Gentry, who argues that the Bible allows for drinking in moderation.

    Here’s the address where the article is posted.

    http://www.criswelljournal.com

  20. micah the pilot April 22, 2008 at 12:14 am #

    i am all for piper’s teetotaling convictions. i am even for piper adjuring his congregation and other listeners to pursue such thought as they reflect upon their own practices and convictions. but i am not for this policy alcoholic abstinence and i am glad that piper does not appear to push his conviction upon his flock as policy. policies like this make me wonder (as it has already been asked) whether jesus himself would be admitted or rejected from membership to the sbc.

  21. Stephen Newell April 22, 2008 at 5:40 am #

    Steve (#16),

    The facts behind your arguments actually contradict you.

    I posted on this issue after reading Frank Turk’s research on the issue. Not only do the facts render your argument void, they actually make the opposite inference; namely that one who drinks is more likely to die of non-alcohol related reasons than for drinking.

    Your argument is better directed at those who abuse alcohol. No one opposing this extrabiblical rule is advocating that everyone break out the funnels. Since you insist that abstinence apply to everyone, not just those who abuse, your argument smacks of legalism at worst, naivete and ignorance at the most polite.

  22. Steven April 22, 2008 at 6:59 am #

    Making resolutions on total abstinence is a waste of time. External rules have rarely solved the deep root of sinful behavior.

    Morover, condemning what scripture does not condemn, even if presented in a positive way, is an indicement about how the Gospel is understood.

    As Luther once famously said, just because a few struggled with drunkenness and sex, do we outlaw women and wine? I think not.

    An antitode to drunkenness begins with the Gospel. It is from the preaching of scripture that reveals a redemptive savior hanging on a cross that will indict those abusing their liberty in Christ, whether from drunkenness or gluttony.

    Secondly, removing the taboo and artificial laws againsts drinking will help from provoking people to sin. Law has a tendency to drive us to rebel against what the statute commands, and it also has a habit of creating self-righteousness in the person who succeeds in following that law.

    Let us put on Christ, and not waste time creating resolutions about not drinking.

  23. Brett April 22, 2008 at 7:05 am #

    Steven,

    I couldn’t have said it better myself.

  24. D.J. Williams April 22, 2008 at 7:16 am #

    Steve,

    I’m sure if we compare the numbers, far more people are in seriously ill health today from their gluttonous (a sin warned against in Scripture just as often and in the same fashion as drunkenness) eating habits then their drinking habits. Should we then all be vegetarians? Would you be willing to make this argument?

    Friends, I have seen many Christian friends reap the ruin of obesity, destroyed marriages, destroyed lives because someone said to them “You have the freedom to do this.” They had grown up in legalistic Baptist homes… and this was the method of “coming out of” suppression and asserting their independance.
    I grew up in a home where obesity was expected. I was indulging as a glutton at age 13! Converted at 17 I was nearly kicked out of the family for attending a Bible college.
    The problem you are experiencing is one of culture overshadowing personal (gospel- motivated) convictions.
    Pastors need to teach more clearly:
    Let folk know that they are saved by grace!
    Let folk know its dumb to eat fried chicken and cupcakes!
    Let folk know that they could have on their consciences the deaths through health problems induced by obesity, and death through obesity of the people they encourage to eat cupcakes and drink soda, which have no nutritional value.

    If you examine the causes of illhealth resulting in death you will discover that most people who eat fried chicken and cupcakes wind up dying of “heart related causes.”

    Many friends and family members have died that way.
    John Piper says.. “One-half of all heart attacks are the direct result of gluttony.” Ambulance officers say it is MUCH higher.. 95% of fatalities are either cupcake or fried chicken caused.

    I recently conducted a funeral for a 45 year old who hadn’t touched fried chicken since he was 24. He died of obesity related causes. He killed his heart and his arteries through 3 years of gluttony.

    When you encourage folks by your example to eat fried chicken and cupcakes, you could very well be responsible for their deaths. No man is an island!

    Do you really want that on your conscience?

    I have the memories of many who have died in this way on my coscience for I wonder if had I warned them more severely, perhaps they would be alive today!

    Now, obviously I make this “argument” with tounge firmly planted in cheek, but I hope you see that it is absolutely parallel with the argument you made against alcohol. Both arguments involve avoiding physically destructive sins of excess by eliminating even moderate use of the item in question. After all, I know of very few gluttons who eat nothing but salads, fruits, and grilled fish. Why would you not stress the importance of that lifestyle in restraining sin in the same way you stress a lifestyle of alcohol abstention?

  25. Quixote April 22, 2008 at 11:29 am #

    Just a thought…two groups of people in the Bible WERE TOLD TO ABSTAIN from alchohol: Priests and Kings. The NT refers to Christians as Priests and Kings…

    And one more thought: Since God is all about motive and matters of the heart, I would have to ask, WHY do people drink? For it’s not what goes into a man that pollutes him, but what comes from his heart. I would wager that most reasons for defending the right to drink would stem from a sinful motive. And then there are those who insist they drink just for the “good taste” of beer (must not be American beer), or a “good wine” with a meal. In those cases, I often doubt the veracity of their statement, and wonder if it’s not merely a smokescreen. There are other drinks that taste good that don’t have alchohol. And besides if there’s ANYTHING in our life that we fight for and insist we can’t do without…and that thing isn’t Jesus…we might want to take a deeper look.

    I’m just sayin’…

  26. Brett April 22, 2008 at 11:32 am #

    D.J.,

    I know you probably didn’t mean for it to be, but that’s one of the funniest blog posts I’ve seen in a long time!! After I read “fried chicken and cupcakes” for about the 4th time and thereafter I would just start cracking up! I’d love to see more posts like that! Now, I’m gonna go eat me some fried chicken and cupcakes, even though you tell me it’s dumb, I’m a sinner saved by grace!!!

  27. D.J. Williams April 22, 2008 at 12:02 pm #

    Brett,

    If God blesses KFC and Hostess, he’s going to have to apologize to Anheuiser-Busch. 🙂

    Quixote,

    Of course, one also couldn’t be a priest if one had facial disfigurement, and I don’t think we would deny people with a cleft lip entrance into the church. We’ve got to be careful not to overstretch an analogy.

    Why do I drink? Why do you eat cupcakes? You say it’s because they taste good, but there are other things you could eat that taste good but don’t lead to gluttony, like salads. I doubt the veracity of your statement that you eat cupcakes because they taste good, it sounds a lot like a smokescreen to me. And don’t come back defending your right to eat cupcakes like you can’t do without them, after all, they’re not Jesus. 🙂

    BTW – I’m honestly not trying to mock, I’m just hoping to demonstrate how silly these arguments sound when applied to other sins of excess, like gluttony. Humor is intended, vitriol isn’t.

  28. Quixote April 22, 2008 at 2:09 pm #

    DJ:

    Oh dear.

    First, who’s denying people entrance into the church based on old priestly laws? I’m saying that EVERYONE in THE Church (no denying anyone who doesn’t deny Christ) IS A PRIEST. I’m lost as to what you think I’m saying. I’m not deciding who gets to be a priest and who doesn’t. I was just citing the NT…which applies to all Christians. ???

    Second, how do you define gluttony? I think you’ve combined “gluttony” and “obesity.” I know people who are gluttons and are skinny as a rail, which means I could NOT eat cupcakes and ONLY eat salads and STILL be a glutton. (I just might not be fat.) So I think you’ve mixed up your terms/definitions.

    Regardless, I still don’t get your point. Cupcakes don’t lead to gluttony. Neither do salads. The heart of a man leads to gluttony. What he eats, how he eats…it’s all the FRUIT of the problem. To get to the ROOT of the problem, you’d need to know WHY he eats. And, that, is my point with drinking.

    I’m not offended by your mocking. I just didn’t get it.

  29. Paul April 22, 2008 at 2:26 pm #

    “And then there are those who insist they drink just for the “good taste” of beer (must not be American beer), or a “good wine” with a meal. In those cases, I often doubt the veracity of their statement, and wonder if it’s not merely a smokescreen. There are other drinks that taste good that don’t have alchohol.”

    As a beer and wine connoisseur, I take issue with this. Why? For a number of reasons that a lot of seasoned drinkers would agree with me on…

    1) getting drunk on a good, heavy belgian, irish or english beer would be suicide. You’d have to guzzle too many too quickly for your body to feel the effects. That’s probably why they make Budweiser, Miller and Coors such light beers, but I don’t drink those.

    2) getting drunk on wine is far easier than beer, but still, if you’re eating and sipping, it’s still going to take some effort to get drunk while your body is busy metabolizing food while you’re drinking. And it’ll be even slower if you’re sipping that wine and savoring it, as opposed to taking down a glass in one shot.

    3) “There are other drinks that taste good that don’t have alchohol.” Yes, but there are no non-alcoholic alternatives to the margarita (which does taste GREAT in really hot weather). There are no (decent) non-alcoholic alternatives to a good, heavy beer. And grape juice, yummy as some people might consider it to be, just doesn’t taste anything like wine.

    Personally, I admire anyone that does the teetotalling thing. It takes effort, and it takes someone with some pretty strong convictions to hold to it, especially in this laissez-faire culture that we live in.

  30. D.J. Williams April 22, 2008 at 2:27 pm #

    Let me try and clarify…

    Your first point was that the OT tells priests not to drink, and Christians are called priests by Scripture, so by implication Christians should not drink. I responded by saying that the OT also says that those with facial deformities cannot be priests, and since Christians are called priests by Scripture, does it then follow that those with facial deformities cannot be Christians? I’m making the point that I think you’re stretching that analogy too far and drawing conclusions based off of it that are not valid.

    Second, I define gluttony as eating to excess, just as I define drunkenness as drinking to excess. You implied that there is no good reason a Christian should drink. I drink for the same reason you eat a cupcake – because it tastes good. You saying that you are suspicious of that explanation as a “smokescreen” is just as suspect as me saying that your declaration that you eat cupcakes because they taste good is really a smokescreen for your sinful, gluttonous intentions.

    If you’re going to say that cupcakes don’t lead to gluttony (and I think you are right), then you must admit that beer does not lead to drunkenness. One can enjoy a beer just the same as one can enjoy a cupcake – just because you don’t doesn’t mean everybody else is lying to cover their sinful hearts.

    Hope that clarifies a bit.

  31. Quixote April 22, 2008 at 4:42 pm #

    I understood what you were saying, just not the point you were trying to make. Again, you are talking about rules that disallow people from becoming priests. I’m talking about rules given to people who are ALREADY priests. Am I dull, or is there a difference?

    I don’t think drinking leads to drunkeness anymore than a gun leads to killing someone. (Although without A alltogether, there’d be no B.) I was trying to say that if someone is fighting strongly for “their right” to drink, then perhaps the issue is no longer “the right to drink” but their need to fight so hard for it.

    Shouldn’t we be at the place where we lay down all “rights” and where we easily give up that which we hold strongly to (those things that are of this world)? Sure, you say, but God hasn’t asked that of us. Perhaps not, but if we’re fighting so hard to prove something is “okay” then perhaps it already has a hold on us and we should lay it down just the same. After all, we ought to not be mastered by anything.

  32. Steve April 22, 2008 at 6:22 pm #

    DJ Williams,
    Your mocking parallel most certainly highlights your ignorance of medical conditions related to alcoholism, and the current statistics in non Bible belt states (but as a youth minister in a Bible belt state one would hardly expect you to be aware of this).

    You have actually made my case for me.

    This last month I have sat with two of our young people up on separate charges that could jail them for a minimum of 5 years.
    One for resisting arrest and assaulting a Police officer.
    One for break and enter.

    Both were encouraged to drink alcohol by youth ministers.

    Both were drunk when they committed their crimes.

    Both will undoubtedly be raped in prison.

    They youngest is just 18.

    Thank you for the effective modelling that youth ministers like you have on our youth.

    Steve

  33. Paul April 22, 2008 at 6:36 pm #

    “Both were encouraged to drink alcohol by youth ministers.”

    That one doesn’t pass muster without details.

    I’ve been to some pretty liberal churches, and never once did I hear a youth minister say it was okay to drink.

  34. Quixote April 22, 2008 at 6:45 pm #

    Ask Jeremy Z what he thinks. Of course, the youth minister might merely be teaching that it’s okay to drink ONCE YOU’RE 21. But if he’s teaching “it’s okay to drink” then the youth are gonna be mighty tempted to start a tad early, don’t you think?

  35. micah the pilot April 22, 2008 at 7:22 pm #

    wow. this has gone amazingly weird. three things stand out to me:

    1. most recently is the idea that you should discourage youth from drinking, not because it isn’t okay for of-age drinkers to drink but because they youth can’t make (or learn to make) good decisions. maybe we should likewise teach youth that sex is bad and continue to grow up generations of adults who can’t discern between sex and their inappropriate desire for sex (which, it should be noted, is not all desire). i think bethlehem hosted a conference recently that approached that topic.

    let us teach youth to discern between right and wrong, good and better, and then let them learn to make these choices.

    2. does the relationship a christian has to christ, the head, which therefore makes him a priest of the same priesthood of christ (if i understand the argument proposed) then make that christian subject to all of the laws of old-testament priesthood? would that then bind me to all old-testament laws? i don’t know that paul thought this way.

    3. quixote, i challenge that you cannot watch a live baseball game apart from your sinful motives. what purpose can you have in watching that game? what “good taste” can you enjoy when spending three or more hours engaging in such amusement? you may say that “it’s not a sin to watch baseball unless your motives are wrong” but i doubt the veracity of your statement and wonder if it’s not merely a smokescreen.

    it may seem like a farce to consider such, but i think if you give it much thought you’ll soon realize that whatever justification you have to watch baseball is not too unlike someone having a drink, and whatever absolute condemnation you have for drinking is not too unlike absolute condemnation for watching baseball.

  36. Steve April 22, 2008 at 8:04 pm #

    I think its pretty obvious that when these guys asked me to appear with and for them in court before the Judge, that I counselled with them on several occassions at length about the causes of their behavior. Do you want the court manuscripts at their various hearings where these statements were made by their defence attorney? What a public disgrace that brings on the Christian church when that appears in court and in the press.
    I used to be a chaplain in a prison for 4 years (’87-’90). I worked closely with my good friend the drug and alcohol counsellor where we worked the AA program and the various Christian versions with the inmates.
    When it comes down to it, the greatest problem for youth is the poor example of Christian leaders.
    Steve

  37. Paul April 23, 2008 at 12:01 am #

    Steve,

    you’re dancing. What youth minister said that it’s okay for kids to drink, and what were they thinking?

  38. D.J. Williams April 23, 2008 at 7:57 am #

    Steve said…
    “Your mocking parallel most certainly highlights your ignorance of medical conditions related to alcoholism, and the current statistics in non Bible belt states (but as a youth minister in a Bible belt state one would hardly expect you to be aware of this).”

    Steve, I’m pretty disappointed that based on my ministerial role and the state I minister in you have assumed both that I am ignorant of the true perils of alcoholism and that I cavalierly implore my students to drink. I expect that kind of baseless ad hominem from the atheists I debate with on other blogs, but not from a fellow brother in Christ.

    If you’ve spent much time in Louisville, you know that one can hardly say that the city has a “Bible belt” culture. Moreover, I live and minister in the poorest zip code in the city and the most ethnically diverse in the state. I encounter alcoholics (not just statistics on alcoholism) on a weekly basis. I am fully aware of the destruction that abuse of alcohol can reap on a person, family, and culture, just as I am fully aware of the destruction that abuse of sexuality can reap on the same. However, I don’t counsel my students that alcohol and sex are evil. In both cases, I seek to exposit Scripture and teach them to rely on its wisdom to make Godly choices.

    Steve said…
    “Both were encouraged to drink alcohol by youth ministers.

    Both were drunk when they committed their crimes.

    Both will undoubtedly be raped in prison.

    The youngest is just 18.

    Thank you for the effective modeling that youth ministers like you have on our youth.”

    So, though you’ve never sat in on one of my Wednesday night Bible studies and never even met me, you’re going to insinuate that ministers like me are responsible for kids getting raped in prison? I believe you’ve overstepped the bounds of charitable debate here, brother. As Paul has stated, I’d be curious to know what exactly this youth minister was teaching from his own mouth, but in any case, he’s not me.

    Let me explain how I have approached this matter with my students. The topic of alcohol came up as we were going through the book of 1 Timothy on Wednesday nights and came to the “take a little wine” passage. After our regular exposition of the text, we set aside the next week to discuss the subject of alcohol and a Biblical approach to it. Since my senior pastor practices total abstinence (though he doesn’t apply it as a universal rule of faith), I asked him to take part in the discussion. We split our hour of study that evening in two, and the two of us discussed our different approaches to alcohol, and why Biblically we had arrived at these conclusions. We spoke together on our common ground (drunkenness is strongly condemned by Scripture, our imperative to submit to the government forbids underage drinking, and we should never parade our liberty in any area in a way that is destructive to a fellow brother in Christ), and then fielded questions from the students. I challenge you to interview my students and ask them what they took away from that night, and I garuntee you that you won’t hear one of them say that I “encouraged them to drink alcohol.”

    There is a way to discuss these things with teenagers in a way that leads to Godly wisdom, rather than imploring them “do not handle, do not taste, do not touch.” BTW, I attempted to make it quite clear that my intention was not to mock, but to use humor to illustrate a point. If I failed in that endeavor and was needlessly antagonistic, I apologize.

    Quixote,

    I’m simply making the assertion that not everything that applied to OT priests applies to NT Christians. That’s all. Per your comments on laying down rights, you give wise counsel that we should all think about regularly. I disagree with you that such a step is necessary or appropriate in this case, but I agree with your basic premise, and will keep those things in Micah has said it best – “we must teach youth (and endeavor ourselves) to discern between right and wrong, good and better, and then let them learn to make these choices.” Rather than give a man a fish, let’s teach the man to fish.

  39. D.J. Williams April 23, 2008 at 8:29 am #

    Oops, my last paragraph should say “will keep those things in mind” before referencing Micah’s comment. Micah, I promise not to keep anything in you. Also, garuntee is probably misspelled. I hate that word, but can’t help using it. 🙂

  40. Debbie Mosley April 23, 2008 at 10:03 am #

    Denny,
    I’m suprised you didn’t throw in a story of Carrie Nation. She lost her husband to drinking so she took a hatchet and went to the pubs and destroyed the liquar barrels then she preached on the prohibition of alcohol.

  41. Brett April 23, 2008 at 10:19 am #

    Denny,

    Now why in the world would you delete my post where I told Steve he shouldn’t have attacked D.J.’s character, yet you keep Steve’s post on here where he attacked D.J.’s character? That makes absolutely no sense to me.

  42. D.J. Williams April 23, 2008 at 11:18 am #

    Humourous aside: Commenting on this blog is always weird for me, since the ‘D’ in D.J. stands for Denny. Everytime someone addresses Denny in a comment, my mind’s first reaction before realizing that they’re not addressing me is “how’d you know?” 🙂

  43. Paul April 23, 2008 at 11:18 am #

    “Denny,
    I’m suprised you didn’t throw in a story of Carrie Nation. She lost her husband to drinking so she took a hatchet and went to the pubs and destroyed the liquar barrels then she preached on the prohibition of alcohol.”

    Yes, because prohibition did all sorts of great things, like give the mafia a foothold where it had absolutely none before. Everybody wants to ban everything, and nobody wants to think about the consequences. Where’s the eye rolling smiley when you need it?

  44. D.J. Williams April 23, 2008 at 11:19 am #

    Humorous aside 2: Humorous aside 1 was not intended to be British. Cursed U key!

  45. Brett April 23, 2008 at 5:34 pm #

    Steve,

    You made a baseless accusation on D.J.’s character that was uncalled for. You don’t even know the guy and are making judgments about him that are simply not true. You have an occupation that calls for much more skepticism and has caused much more harm that the youth ministerial role, so I would get the plank out before telling a brother about a speck (Denny, if you’re going to delete this, then you need to delete Steve’s post in #32 where he mocked D.J. and attacked his personal character and integrity, thanks).

  46. Steve April 23, 2008 at 5:45 pm #

    Take a breath gentlemen and grow up.
    Your public approval on this site of alcohol consumption is a model for your young people.
    You can do better than that.
    Steve

  47. Paul April 23, 2008 at 5:53 pm #

    Steve,

    post #46 is the very definition of legalism.

    Congratulations!

    Paul

  48. Steve April 23, 2008 at 6:17 pm #

    The spam filter stops one being able to pass a link to a site.. but some Baptist churches actively promote the use of alcohol even on their website.
    If you click on my name, above, you will see one.
    Steve

  49. Paul April 23, 2008 at 6:24 pm #

    Steve,

    NOT ALL CHRISTIANS ARE JUST LIKE YOU!

    thanks for reading.

  50. Steve April 23, 2008 at 6:48 pm #

    I am sorry that you are angry that I am not just like you Paul.
    May the Lord continue to work in your heart.
    Steve

  51. Brett April 23, 2008 at 7:21 pm #

    Steve,

    Just keep wrestling with the issue and let your answer come from Scripture and not from tradition. I promise not to judge and put burdens on you if you don’t do it on me as well. May the Lord continue to work in your heart.

  52. D.J. Williams April 23, 2008 at 7:58 pm #

    Steve said…
    “Your public approval on this site of alcohol consumption is a model for your young people.
    You can do better than that.”

    Just finished a great night of Bible study with those young people I am a model for. I would gladly stand behind my above comment (#38) and the actions I described in front of every one of them. Please seek to see my heart, brother, not a stereotype. Grace and peace.

  53. Paul April 23, 2008 at 10:00 pm #

    Steve says…

    “I am sorry that you are angry that I am not just like you Paul.
    May the Lord continue to work in your heart.”

    I wasn’t angry, and am not angry that you are not just like me. I am sure that Denny is glad that there’s only one me out there.

    However, I do get angry when someone tries to tell me (much less everyone!)how to live. The only beings who get to do that without my ire are:

    1) God
    2) My wife
    3) My parents, at least earlier in life.

    Steve, you’re just not on that list.

  54. Steve April 24, 2008 at 3:35 pm #

    I see, so the real issue is your personal autonomy and pride.. hubris?

  55. Paul April 24, 2008 at 4:47 pm #

    No Steve. Are you this judgemental with everyone, or only when you get to be anonymous on the internets?

  56. Lucas Knisely April 24, 2008 at 7:14 pm #

    I’m 6 pages into this article by Land and Duke, and I have to say… I’m already very disappointed in the tactics used in their arguments. I hope to write a response soon.

  57. Chris April 25, 2008 at 11:45 am #

    A couple questions for you…

    Does alcohol impair judgment and lower inhibitions?

    Are we more likely to sin with impaired judgment and lowered inhibitions?

    The choice seems clear to me and its not one of rules or legalism its one of being a strong witness for Christ and a witness against sin.

    Now I know some will say one beer/wine doesn’t affect me that way. I am in perfect control. Well you may be, though I would argue that you really aren’t, when are we ever?

    Another note: Would anyone here ever want to be a justification for someone else taking a drink? “They drink so it must be ok!”

    If we truly are to love one another we must be willing to sacrifice for one another. Alcohol kills in more way than one. Why any Christian would argue that it is ok is being completely selfish which is in direct opposition to our faith.

  58. Lucas Knisely April 25, 2008 at 12:41 pm #

    Chris,

    Do you even have a biblical argument? I don’t argue that drinking is okay out of selfishness, I don’t even drink and probably never will. I argue against rules created by man rather than God.

  59. D.J. Williams April 25, 2008 at 1:58 pm #

    Chris,

    Did the alcohol that Jesus, the apostles, and a host of OT saints drank impair judgment and lower inhibitions?

    Were they more likely to sin with impaired judgment and lowered inhibitions?

    The choice that seems clear to you apparently didn’t seem so clear to them. If it seems clear to you, that’s great, man, honor the Lord with your abstinence. But don’t say that the choice is clear in an across-the-board sense – you’re putting yourself at odds with Scripture when you do that.

  60. MatthewS April 25, 2008 at 4:25 pm #

    Good questions, DJ.

    Chris #57,

    Rules don’t keep people away from sin. Making the rule “never drink” seems very similar in my mind to the Pharisees making one rule after another to protect the Torah. We probably both know plenty of people who have been fenced in by rules but later chose to reject them.

    Being led by the Spirit, per Gal 5, is the solution for sinful desires. Making rules to block sinful behavior is not the solution for sinful desires.

    Further, the argument “If someone sees me drink at all, they might use that as an excuse to drink to excess” is only as effective as “If I fail to teach that person moderation he is likely to run to extremes given the chance.” Ultimately we have to live a Spirit-led life (per Gal 5, Col 3) and model wise behavior.

    Note that modelling wise behavior is not the same as creating rules for others. This goes back to my previous statement that “I am a teetotaler” is one thing, “You should be too” is where I push back.

    Chris, I don’t want people to live in excess and face the consequences of sin, either. I am just being realistic. Paul told us that the solution for sins of the flesh, including drunkeness, is to walk in the Spirit. Some people need to decide for themselves to never drink. This is a personal issue and we should all respect it. But you cannot make that choice for me. What you can do is lead me to be Spirit-led, meaning the love, joy, peace stuff.

    This isn’t exactly the same thing, but compare Col 3:23, “… they lack any value in restraining sensual indulgence”

  61. MatthewS April 25, 2008 at 4:31 pm #

    One more point: if rules worked, the Amish would free of substance and s-x abuse problems. However, they have the same problems everyone else does. Why? Sinful desires come from the heart. Such heart problems don’t need to be fenced in, they need to be crucified. New life must be lived by the Spirit.

    So, Sins of flesh: bad.
    Fruit of Spirit: good.
    Rules: not effective against sins of heart.

  62. Chris April 25, 2008 at 7:39 pm #

    I am not talking about rules I am talking about love. Love for Jesus, love for people!

    If I love God I wouldn’t want to even risk doing anything that MAY cause me to sin.

    If I love people I wouldn’t want to even risk anything that may lead THEM to sin.

    My scriptural basis for this is:

    “And if your right hand causes you to sin, cut it off and throw it away. It is better for you to lose one part of your body than for your whole body to go into hell.” – Matthew 5:30

    “It is better not to eat meat or drink wine or to do anything else that will cause your brother to fall.” – Romans 14:21

    “For you have been called to live in freedom, my brothers and sisters. But don’t use your freedom to satisfy your sinful nature. Instead, use your freedom to serve one another in love.” – Galatians 5:13

    Now get me wrong… we could apply this principle to many things but to pretend that its ok is wrong. It’s not about rules its about love.

    We are all good at justifying our actions, I am guilty of this more than anyone and not a single one of us lives a perfect life but to pretend that alcohol will not take our sinful nature and magnify it is a little naive.

    We all have to make our own choices in life, with Gods help we will make more choices that honor Him than we make choices that fulfill our selfish desires and pleasures.

  63. Trent G. April 25, 2008 at 10:10 pm #

    How ironic that Chris would quote from Romans 14 when the entire section is Paul telling the weaker brethren (those who abstain) not to judge the stronger brethren (those who partake in good conscience). Why are they called “weaker brethren”? Their faith is weak because they fail to grasp the implications of a gospel based solely on the grace of God. Instead, they cling to the old law and say things like “you don’t really love God or love your brother if you eat X or drink X”. This turns the gospel on it’s head because it makes man’s actions the deciding factor of who loves God instead of the acceptance of God as seen in 14:3.

    Chris, instead of quoting a passage that you mistakenly think gives you the right to pass judgment on fellow believers try reading the entire chapter of Romans 14. You’ll find it remarkably applicable to this discussion. Steve, feel free to do the same.

  64. Lucas Knisely April 25, 2008 at 10:42 pm #

    Chris,

    You risk causing brothers to sin just by posting your comments on here. Which means, according to your own argument, you should not post comments here. Do you see where this could lead? You can’t have any interaction with anyone because when you do, you run the risk of saying something or doing something that may cause them to sin. You aren’t perfect, and therefore must accept a life of total isolation.

    I’m being extreme only because your position, when taken to its logical end, becomes extreme. My main point is that the rule you are spelling out isn’t Biblical, it is legalism. Your own words defeat you….

    You said: we could apply this principle to many things but to pretend that its ok is wrong. It’s not about rules its about love.

    You can’t make these two statements back to back. You are creating a rule, ie: saying something is wrong and should be abstained from, and then turning around and saying, “it’s not about rules”. The inconsistency here deflates your position.

  65. Brett April 25, 2008 at 11:09 pm #

    Good stuff Lucas…good stuff.

  66. Steve April 26, 2008 at 4:57 am #

    Younger men, it saddens me that you have to caricature Chris as either a weaker brother or a mishandler of Scripture.
    I encourage you to be more careful of your handling of scripture, and more careful of your critical judgments of others.
    For both Chris and I, and many, many others, we do not have the luxury of being able to dispute what may or may not happen in the course of future ministry. I have planted 2 churches, and pastored 3 others.
    We have dealt with alcoholics on a daily basis for over 30 years. I currently pastor an inner city church for the last eleven years where the rate of alcoholism is 25% of the total population. The local funeral director tells me 50% of funerals have the cause of death on the death certificate issued by the doctor as “alcohol related causes.” I have been assaulted by alcoholics and drug addicts more times than I can remember. We have handled AA courses. there is only one run in this entire city, as people are much happier here to die of alcoholism than to get treatment.
    Today a neighbour is dealing with the death of his marriage through his 40 year old wife’s over indulgence (a couple of bottles of wine a day, which she’d rather have than the fortnightly medical treatment and prescriptions she has decided to forego rather than forego her grog). She grew up in a youth group where her youth pastor said it was ok to drink in moderation. Her husband’s father has run an inner city mission for alcoholics for 40 years.
    On the upside, We have seen alcoholics converted to Christ. Some have experienced miraculous complete release from their addiction at conversion. Others have not.
    To say that I am ignorant of Romans 14 would be ludicrous. I have preached through Romans now 3 times. This would mean .. 70 hours of preparation on Romans 14. Now I assume you guys have preached through this book once. Or maybe you think you might do this one day…
    Friends, in 25 years time, you too may view the problem of alcohol a far different way as the Spirit of God teaches you through the interaction of Scripture and life’s experiences a little more.
    Steve

  67. Lucas Knisely April 26, 2008 at 10:25 am #

    Steve,

    I pray God never allows me to arrive at a position that isn’t based on His authoritative word merely because of my good/bad life experiences. As I’ve said before, I don’t drink and probably never will. But I will never sit down and allow others to create rules based on their experience rather than God’s Holy writ.

    I have not attempted to caricature Chris as a weaker brother or someone who mishandles Scripture. However, if I were to claim that eating meat was wrong and attempted to use passages to defend my view, and ultimately misused some verses, I would expect people to disagree with me and thus by implication call my ability to handle God’s word into question. Disagreement is healthy, and it isn’t helpful to insinuate that those disagreeing with Chris are somehow wrong by default because they may call Chris’ ability to handle God’s word by the mere fact that they are attempting to refute his position. The mere fact that you are disagreeing with us calls our ability to handle God’s word into question.

    You hail your experience and time spent studying the word as some kind of a trump card to those of us who may have not had the same amount of time in the ministry/pulpit. This is basically the fallacy of the professional. So, a rampant heretic who studies God’s word for 50 years is somehow more right because he has put his time in?

  68. Chris April 26, 2008 at 10:28 am #

    When did this become about me?

    Listen… man is great at justifying his own actions as we see played out here.
    We tend to deflect the argument away from the issue when we have the weaker position and know we have the weaker position.

    Christianity is not about rules. Its not about obligation to a set of laws or rules. Its about God grace and mercy. And because of Gods great mercy we WANT to be obedient to God out of love and thankfulness, not obligation.

    We should WANT to stay clear of anything that may cause us to sin! We should WANT to stay clear of anything that may cause others to sin! Not out of obligation to rules but out of obedience and love.

    You say I am being judgmental but that’s far from the truth. I am a sinner, I make bad choices, sometimes knowingly sometimes unknowingly. I pass no judgment on anyone who drinks because I know my choices are far from perfect and its my life that I should focus on. But my brothers don’t kid yourselves here. Your decision should be based only one thing… sin.

    Can you say with certainty that drinking alcohol does not/would not lead you or others to sin?

    If you can then you are one of a kind and if not no amount of argument regarding grace or rules or legalism holds water becuase you are purposefully putting yourselves in a position to be disobedient to God.

    You can make this about me, about grace, about legalism but when you do that you are the one who weakens your already weak position.

  69. Chris April 26, 2008 at 10:41 am #

    And Lucas my position is extreme but our God is extreme. Scripture supports that over and over again. And yes when taken to this extreme it can become about legalism and rules. And so it is not possible to realistically apply the extremity of Gods expectations completely to our lives. We will always fall short. It is an ideal that we should aim for knowing we will never reach it nor have to because of what Jesus did on the cross.

    But does that mean we don’t try? Not out of obligation but out of obedience and love?

    There are so many things that this can apply to, I know, but drinking seems like one of the easy choices.

  70. Lucas Knisely April 26, 2008 at 12:21 pm #

    You have yet to make a sound argument from Scripture. You only continue to repeat yourself, and make statements like this:

    You can make this about me, about grace, about legalism but when you do that you are the one who weakens your already weak position.

    My position is weak because I attempt to live my life according to the authority of God’s word? Rather than your man made rule?

  71. Chris April 26, 2008 at 12:25 pm #

    Lucas I have to leave for the day but I will return and respond for sure. I appreciate your comments!

    One question: How do you interpret Mark 12:29-31?

  72. Lucas Knisely April 26, 2008 at 12:45 pm #

    Chris,

    Mark 12:29-31
    29 Jesus answered, The most important is, Hear, O Israel: The Lord our God, the Lord is one.
    30 And you shall love the Lord your God with all your heart and with all your soul and with all your mind and with all your strength.
    31 The second is this: You shall love your neighbor as yourself. There is no other commandment greater than these.

    If I start expounding on the depth of this passage, we will no doubt get off track.

    I do however, see very little room to insert “thou shalt never ever do anything that may cause another person to sin” or “thou shalt not drink“. The implications that you extrapolate from the “don’t cause your brother to stumble” passages are stretching it, and I don’t find it convincing enough to claim something is wrong (ie: drinking); especially when the Bible never condemns drinking.

    Your current mantra of, “don’t do anything that may cause someone to sin”, is so far reaching in light of man’s sinful nature. You can’t create a principle like that and pick and choose what actions you apply it to. Well I see drinking as bad, so I’ll use my principle to claim those actions are “wrong” because they may cause someone to sin. By implication your view says any action you approve of does not have the capacity to cause someone else to sin. Are you willing to claim that about every action outside of drinking that you engage in?

    In other words, you say drinking is wrong because it may cause someone else to sin. This means anything you approve of must of necessity not have any possibility of causing someone else to sin. This to me, in light of human sinfulness, is an impossible view.

  73. Ferg April 26, 2008 at 1:15 pm #

    After reading this post – I still haven’t changed my prayers from asking Jesus to change the water at my wedding into wine as it’s still extremely expensive!
    I have NO problem in providing people with wine at my wedding and I do so with a clear conscience knowing that God goes before me to give him Glory on our special day.

  74. Bryan L April 26, 2008 at 2:31 pm #

    Ferg:
    At my wedding reception we had no alcohol (even wine) although there was a bar in the hotel. Some of it was legalistic reasons that I had at the time for not wanting any, but mostly it was because I didn’t want some of our family members getting too drunk and acting a fool and messing up our wedding.
    : )

    We still had a wonderful, wonderful wedding (truthfully it was like a dream wedding).

    If it makes the wedding even better then more power to you. Hope your’s is awesome!

    Bryan

  75. jeff miller April 26, 2008 at 4:59 pm #

    If we really want to know and teach the Holy Scriptures well, we need to press toward understanding scripture on its own terms and in its own framework of thought. Otherwise we will be unconscious of the extent to which we are creating our own religion and forcing alien meaning on words, phrases, and even the whole God-given message.

    There is nothing called alcoholism in the prophetic scriptures. I am willing to ask if the whole idea is a false construct.

    This is not really asking too much.
    As true disciples we should (by now) be in the habit of re-orienting and re-submitting our concept of what the messiah should be to the actual teaching and person of Jesus, the only Messiah who is. After all we are here to encourage faith…in other words; we are here to encourage “loyal recognition” of Him. Islam, for one example, can convert people into alcohol abstainers but only those with faith in the Son of God will be unharmed by the second death.

  76. D.J. Williams April 27, 2008 at 12:16 pm #

    Chris said…
    “Can you say with certainty that drinking alcohol does not/would not lead you or others to sin?

    If you can then you are one of a kind and if not no amount of argument regarding grace or rules or legalism holds water becuase you are purposefully putting yourselves in a position to be disobedient to God.”

    If this is true and wise, then why did Jesus, the apostles, and the incredible majority of Old Testament believers not practice as such? You and the others who have argued a position of universal total abstinence have still not even attempted to answer that question.

  77. Chris April 27, 2008 at 6:01 pm #

    Lucas its all about that verse, if we had nothing else, that verse IS Christianity. If you think that you can drink and love God and love people in a way that is pleasing to God than drink.

    I know you have chosen not to drink and I thinks that’s a great choice.

    You are arguing that we should not have a rule against drinking. I agree, I keep saying its not about rules but some of you keep wanting to think that I am saying that because it makes you feel better about the position you have taken.

    The bottom line for me both biblically and personally is found in a simple question that no one wants to answer:

    Can you say with certainty that drinking alcohol does not/would not lead you or others to sin?

    Whats tragic about this conversation is not the different views on drinking but the attempted justification of actions as if its a decision that should only be made in light of a personal view or decision.

    Hate to tell you but its not about your feelings. Its not about you!

    And as far as Jesus drinking well… he’s God… he can handle it, his sinless nature precludes him from sinning with or without alcohol. As far as the people with Him I say when you are physically in Jesus’ presence have a drink!

    I am done with this issue here. People will do what they have already made up their minds to do. I will leave you with this…

    If you have prayerfully and consistently put this issue in Gods hands and have got an answer that its ok to to drink, then drink. If not, than you should offer this issue up to God with an open heart and then listen.

    God bless!

  78. Brett April 27, 2008 at 6:52 pm #

    Can you say that watching tv will not lead you or others to sin?

    Can you say that being on the internet will not lead you or others to sin?

    Can you say that driving in a car will not lead you or others to sin?

    Can you say that owning a business will not lead you or others to sin?

    Can you say that having money will not cause you or others to sin?

    This is a really bad argument, and some not so good theology follows it (Jesus was God so it’s okay for him to drink…huh?).

    I’m fine with you having a conviction against drinking and praise God for you. Just don’t push your convictions on other people and tell them they shouldn’t b/c “there just might be a possibility that you or someone else might sin.” This could be said of just about anything, and you can’t live your life in fear.

    Now I’m gonna go watch the race and drink some bud light!

  79. Bryan L April 27, 2008 at 7:03 pm #

    Bud Light?!!! Common Brett at least make it worth it with some good beer. All the arguments for drinking in moderation are in vain if your gonna turn around and drink Bud Light.
    Sheez I’d argue for teetotaling any day to keep people from drinking beer like Bud Light.

    Sorry but this is a conviction that should be pushed on others!!
    ; )

    Bryan

  80. Bryan L April 27, 2008 at 7:35 pm #

    Common? I meant “Come on”. my bad

  81. Paul April 27, 2008 at 7:36 pm #

    Bryan, no bad to be found there. Common and Bud Light go hand in hand.

  82. Chris April 27, 2008 at 8:03 pm #

    Brett you sound foolish! But that’s your right!

  83. Brett April 27, 2008 at 8:20 pm #

    Bryan,

    The Bud Light thing was a joke. I actually like shiner boch, alasken amber, and fat tire. Chris, you really think I sound foolish? It’s funny how most, even conservatives, on here have disagreed with you and said you sound foolish. But that’s your right!

  84. Chris April 27, 2008 at 8:28 pm #

    Well Brett fortunately it doesn’t matter to me who agrees with me or not or who thinks I sound foolish or not! Or who gets labeled conservative or not! In the end, we all will judged by our choices.

    You seem to enjoy beer so enjoy it. Just don’t kid yourself that its more than a selfish pleasure.

  85. Brett April 27, 2008 at 9:06 pm #

    The same can be said of soft drinks, twinkies, candy bars, bubble gum, television, computers, nice clothes, vehicles, shoes, beds, silverware…do I really need to keep going?

  86. cb scott April 27, 2008 at 9:21 pm #

    Brett, Can it be said that all the things you name can cause Fetal Alcohol Syndrome in an unborn child?

    FAS is epidemic in our society today. Why? Increased alcohol use among sexually active teen and young adult women.

    It is not known how much alcohol it takes to cause it. It is known to cause its greatest effects in the first trimester of pregnancy. Many women do not know they are pregnant for five to six weeks. Therefore it is critical for a sexually active female of child bearing years to abstain.

    One seminary president said it was unwise to use alcohol due to its danger. I say it is just stupid.

    It is stupid for sexually active females to drink in the child bearing age. It is stupid for their husbands to encourage it or to temp their wives to do so by doing it themselves. It is stupid for any pastor to tell sexually active females of child bearing age it is OK to use alcohol. It is stupid not to warn them of the dangers. It is stupid to drink alcohol before them as a spiritual.

    If you don’t believe it to be stupid; ask a FAS child. That is if he/she can carry on a conversation. If she could tell you she would agree with me. It is stupid.

    cb

  87. Lucas Knisely April 27, 2008 at 9:21 pm #

    Chris,

    You have failed to respond to anything I’ve said and have therefore affirmed my points with your silence.

  88. Brett April 27, 2008 at 10:01 pm #

    Nice educated response cb, maybe you should tell Jesus that it was stupid for him to drink. Maybe you should tell him it was stupid to supply the booze for a wedding party that would have had lots of young women of child bearing age present. Maybe you should tell Paul he’s stupid for telling Timothy to drink some wine. Maybe you should tell Jesus, the apostles, and the apostolic fathers that it was stupid for them to utilize alcohol for the Lord’s supper which women partook of.

  89. Brett April 27, 2008 at 10:22 pm #

    Let’s be honest guys, you can provide me with statistic upon statistic and disease upon disease from alcohol, but exegetically speaking, your argument falls up short every single time…no questions asked. An exegetical stance for abstinence of alcohol based upon what the Bible says simply cannot or will not ever happen. You have your convictions, statistics, and quotes, and that’s great for you guys and more power to you for abstaining. But I don’t abuse the drink nor will I let statistics or diseases from those who do abuse it keep me from partaking in it…period.

  90. Chris April 27, 2008 at 11:31 pm #

    Lucas it is you have failed but if it makes you feel better or superior (it seems to be important to you) to believe I somehow failed to defend my position by not participating in your straw man argument then so be it. I don’t need your approval to define or validate the position I have taken based on The Great Commandment. It’s clear both biblically and logically and if you were intellectually honest you would admit it at least to yourself. I appreciate your desire to take contrarian stances to flush out ideas and discussions but you often get lost in them.

    Brett what’s ironic is that your logical and exegetical position that the bible does not prohibit alcohol therefore it must be ok is an incredibly naive and ultimately legalistic position to take. By creating a set of rules about what’s ok based on what’s not specifically prohibited in Gods word is as legalistic as having a set of rules that are prohibitive.

    And as far as the naivete… Do we really have to go through all the things that the bible specifically does not address but that we probably agree would be wrong to do?

    (And btw Paul told Timothy to take some wine for medical purposes not for pleasure and since Jesus was sinless how could alcohol lead Him to sin which is the point I am making about the dangers of alcohol.)

    And ending your last comment with “period” shows just how immature and closed minded you are.

    Seriously I wonder if some of you really believe what you are saying or are just so set on a course of action, so set on protecting what you believe is your right that you are unable to see what an incredibly selfish position you have taken. You have no rights and you deserve no rights yet you fight for your rights. Don’t you know that when you are in Christ you have no rights apart from Christ? That it is no longer about you and about what YOU want?

  91. Brett April 27, 2008 at 11:39 pm #

    I’ve said enough

  92. D.J. Williams April 28, 2008 at 7:11 am #

    Chris said…
    “And as far as Jesus drinking well… he’s God… he can handle it, his sinless nature precludes him from sinning with or without alcohol. As far as the people with Him I say when you are physically in Jesus’ presence have a drink!”

    So – it’s okay to do things when in Jesus’ physical presence that it’s not okay to do the rest of the time? What’s your textual reasoning there? At any rate, this doesn’t have anything to do with all those OT believers who drank, or the apostles and Christians after Christ’s ascention. They weren’t in Christ’s physical presence, and they apparently didn’t find it unwise to drink. Were they “incredibly selfish?” What about someone who followed the command of Deuteronomy 14:26? Were they “incredibly selfish?”

    Here’s what I really don’t get…

    Chris said…
    “If you have prayerfully and consistently put this issue in Gods hands and have got an answer that its ok to to drink, then drink. If not, than you should offer this issue up to God with an open heart and then listen.”

    I agree with this statement fully. I believe that God has spoken through the Scriptures and given us that answer. I think this is absolutely an issue of personal conscience that will be different for different believers, and that’s okay. Yet, after making that good statement, you continue to condemn your brothers who drink as “incredibly selfish,” a direct contradiction to the command of Romans 14:3“Let not the one who eats despise the one who abstains, and let not the one who abstains pass judgment on the one who eats, for God has welcomed him.” I don’t despise you, Chris – I respect the decision you have made to abstain and encourage you to do so to the glory of God. Yet you have passed quite a bit of judgment on those of us who have come to a different conclusion based on Scripture.

  93. Lucas Knisely April 28, 2008 at 7:48 am #

    Chris,

    You said: “Lucas it is you have failed but if it makes you feel better or superior (it seems to be important to you) to believe I somehow failed to defend my position by not participating in your straw man argument then so be it.

    Chris I hope any careful reader will see that you merely repeated your poor argument rather than respond to any questions/criticisms that I had. You ignore what I say and therefore affirm it. Do you even know what a strawman is?

    You said:”I don’t need your approval to define or validate the position I have taken based on The Great Commandment.

    No, but you certainly need God’s approval. You have yet to make an argument from Scripture. Taking a passage about loving God and inserting your view that drinking is wrong is called eisegesis. That isn’t arguing from Scripture.

    You said: “It’s clear both biblically and logically and if you were intellectually honest you would admit it at least to yourself.

    If it is so clear both biblically and logically, then why are you having a hard time making a solid case from the Scriptures? Why do you ignore practically every question/criticism I’ve raised, only to accuse me of not being intellectually honest?

  94. Ellen Sichina April 28, 2008 at 8:17 am #

    Whenever we take scripture selectively, we run the risk of serious mistakes. There have been two scripture passages (Mark 12:30-31 and Galatians 5:13-14) that Chris shared, when challenged to make a sound scriptural argument that Christians should not drink alcohol. Yet responder after responder has failed to address these scriptures. Many relevant scripture passages guide believers:

    “Love the Lord your God with all your heart and with all your soul and with all your mind and with all your strength. The second is this: Love your neighbor as yourself. There is no commandment greater than these.” (Mark 12:30-31)

    “You, my brothers, were called to be free. But do not use your freedom to indulge the sinful nature; rather serve one another in love. The entire law is summed up in a single command: ‘Love your neighbor as yourself.'” (Galatians 5:13-14)

    “Jesus said to his disciples, ‘Things that cause people to sin are bound to come, but woe to that person through whom they come. It would be better for him to be thrown into the sea with a millstone tied around his neck than for him to cause one of these little ones to sin.'” (Luke 17:1-2)

    “Each of you should look not only to your own interests, but also to the interests of others.” (Philippians 2:4)

    Let’s take an example… Believers decide to exercise their freedom to drink, drinking in a restaurant, while two young people sit nearby. A young Christian teen, remembering the people drinking and seemingly having such fun, sadly reasons, “That’s what I need.” He drinks that night, then drinks the next week, then the next; he becomes severely addicted to alcohol. Driving home while drunk, he kills a family. After being sentenced to prison, he is raped. Sadly, he renounces Christ, never knowing the deep relationship with Christ that he could have had.

    Were these believers loving these neighbors as themselves (Mark 12:31)? Were they using freedom to serve these young people in love (Galatians 5:13-14)? Were they looking after the interests of these youth (Philippians 2:4)? We never fully know the fruit of our actions! Failing to know every person around us, whether they might be prone to addiction, whether they might be struggling to recover from addiction… where will we place our priority: personal freedom, or loving and serving God and others? Jesus’ two greatest commands (Mark 12:30-31) never place the priority on personal freedom. These indeed are hard teachings, especially when we desire to make personal freedom supreme!

  95. Lucas Knisely April 28, 2008 at 9:43 am #

    Ellen,

    I addressed the passage that Chris cited. And you, just like Chris, are using eisegesis rather than exegesis.

  96. D.J. Williams April 28, 2008 at 9:54 am #

    Ellen,

    It’s not that we don’t understand the point Chris was trying to make with those verses, it’s that we don’t think that they’re valid – namely because the same Spirit who inspired those words also inspired passages that demonstrate that drinking alcohol is not sin, and in fact, some passages even cast alcohol in a very positive light (Deuteronomy 14:26, Psalm 104:15). If your case is correct, and abstaining is really the wisest choice for all people, then were the disciples not following the wisest choice? Was Christ not following the wisest choice? The implications that you are trying to draw from passages such as Mark 12:30-31, Galatians 5:13-14, Luke 17:1-2, and Philippians 2:4 are not valid to us because they contradict the wide body of Biblical evidence that shows that Christ and his followers saw no contradicion between enjoying alcoholic drink in moderation and looking out for the weaker brother. So, if we’re going to take your Scriptural assersions seriously, you’ve got to explain how those assertions fit with the totality of the Biblical witness. So far, I’ve not seen anyone able to do that.

  97. Ferg April 28, 2008 at 12:17 pm #

    “Let’s take an example… Believers decide to exercise their freedom to drink, drinking in a restaurant, while two young people sit nearby. A young Christian teen, remembering the people drinking and seemingly having such fun, sadly reasons, “That’s what I need.” He drinks that night, then drinks the next week, then the next; he becomes severely addicted to alcohol. Driving home while drunk, he kills a family. After being sentenced to prison, he is raped. Sadly, he renounces Christ, never knowing the deep relationship with Christ that he could have had.”

    I am astounded at the logic of this argument. I wonder at my wedding this Friday should we not tell anyone that we’re looking forward to consumating our marriage because sex is a gift from God and it is to be enjoyed.
    taking your logic – a teen there could see hear how we’re looking forward to it, go out and see what it likes, become pregnant and have an abortion etc etc etc.

    rediculous.

  98. Chris April 28, 2008 at 12:50 pm #

    The breakdown here is the mistaken belief that anyone is arguing alcohol is a sin. The bible doesn’t say its a sin so neither do I. That’s not the point. My point is simple, I guess too simple for some here as they just want to make the issue more confusing than it really is and either broaden the scope of the argument thereby deflecting the issue or detail it to death so it gets lost and they don’t have to deal with it.

    I grow tired of this so hopefully this will be my last post on this issue (its hard to put the pen down sometimes 🙂 )

    If you can with good conscious say, not to me but to God, that your drinking alcohol still allows you to love God and love people in a way that is pleasing to God and doesn’t lead you or anyone else affected by your drinking into sinful actions, then drink away. Case closed! If not then I don’t see any other choice but to stop drinking. And if you still have to argue about it then either you DO have a problem with alcohol or you have problem with obedience. It’s not about me, it’s not about you, it’s all about God.

    If I have offended anyone by my tone or have spoken in disrespect I apologize. Passion about an issue is no excuse to not treat each other in absolute love and respect.

  99. Lucas Knisely April 28, 2008 at 1:15 pm #

    Chris,

    Need I remind you about your first comment?

    You said: “Why any Christian would argue that it is ok is being completely selfish which is in direct opposition to our faith.

    You’ve also continued to claim, with rhetorical questions, that drinking may cause someone else to sin and is therefore wrong.

    Changing your tune now only furthers my point that your argument is weak. You’ve got no option but to back pedal or leave the discussion at this point.

  100. Chris April 28, 2008 at 1:35 pm #

    Lucas thanks for the reminder! I am not following your logic about how I may have backpedaled or changed my tune.

    I believe I have been consistent with my position that alcohol lower inhibitions and skews our judgment and therefore will take our sinful nature and magnify it making it more likely to cause sinful actions/thoughts. In light of that it seems antithetical to loving God with all our heart, soul and mind.

    Furthermore drinking alcohol may, yes MAY, lead other into sin thereby also being antithetical to loving people. MAY is enough of a reason to abstain out of love for one another.

    I think you need to grow up Lucas and I say that in love! This isn’t an elementary school playground where we need to call each other out and prove who is the best logician and exegete or run home to mommy. This isn’t about us!

  101. D.J. Williams April 28, 2008 at 2:03 pm #

    Chris,

    I think what Lucas finds confusing (and I do too) is that you’ve made variations on both of these statements…

    1) If you can drink in good conscience while loving God and loving others, then drink.

    2) There is no way to do #1, since any possiblity for temptation is too much and thus anyone who drinks is “incredibly selfish.”

    #1 is a great statement. I applaud posts where you have demonstrated that sentiment. Yet when you call those who drink “incredibly selfish” and say “MAY is enough of a reason to abstain” (do you mean this in a universal sense or just for you?) this certainly qualifies as passing judgment on your brothers and failing to heed the message from Romans 14:3. So which is it? Do you really believe that some can drink to the glory of God, or are we all selfish?

    BTW – Great comparison in #97, Ferg. Really shows the unbiblical lengths the “weaker brother” principle can be taken to.

  102. Chris April 28, 2008 at 2:26 pm #

    Ah I see now!

    DJ I believe that if one looks at The Great Commandment as well as some of the other passages I posted (Matthew 5:30, Romans 14:21, Galatians 5:13) with the acceptance that all Christians must make that we are inherently sinful, it is not possible to drink in good conscience even if the bible does not specifically prohibit it.

    And so drinking then becomes only about a selfish pleasure and so the very least we should do is be intellectually honest enough to admit that.

    I guess I was trying to be too clever for my own good. I often fall into that trap! 🙂

    And I am not judging anyone. If I came across that way I stand corrected!

  103. Ferg April 28, 2008 at 3:01 pm #

    Thanks Denny (thats Denny J!), apologies for my typos – i rarely re-read my posts and just saw them there as i re-read it.

    “drinking…becomes only about a selfish pleasure and so the very least we should do is be intellectually honest enough to admit that.”

    I’m amazed at this comment. I’m not going to try to convince you to think otherwise. I just wish, like others in here, that you would see it is an individual decision. as with the other guys, in 100% behind you deciding not to drink. however I do find it offensive that you are effectively calling my wedding a day of sinful glee, as I will most definitely be having a glass of champagne, as will all my guests. I’m so excited that I get to declare infront of everyone I know what my Father in heaven has done for me. If you were one of my friends you would not be able to sit there not drinking and enjoy yourself. You would most likely sit there and pray for us who were drinking as you would think we are committing a dreadful sin by providing a complementary drink for those who want one.

  104. Lucas Knisely April 28, 2008 at 3:03 pm #

    Chris,

    You said: “I think you need to grow up Lucas and I say that in love!

    It is convenient that everyone who disagrees with you is selfish and or childish. You continue to prove that your position is untenable because you claim it isn’t about rules, but then you passively slide in rules. You say you aren’t judging, but then passively insult those who defend drinking as “selfish”, or you accuse me of being childish because I continue to point out that you defend a position that isn’t sound. Passive ad hominem attacks won’t refute my points anymore than your habit of ignoring them.

  105. Chris April 28, 2008 at 5:12 pm #

    Ferg first all congratulations on your special day!

    I do see drinking as an individual decision like everything else in life. But you haven’t read my posts carefully as you are seeing something that isn’t there which is a statement that alcohol is a sin, its not, I never said it was. It is interesting that you and others see that when it’s not there.

    I think you do yourself and your friends an injustice, not to mention myself, by suggesting that any of us need alcohol to enjoy your wedding or our lives. If you do then there really is a problem.

    And Lucas, my brother, I do hope that you eventually realize that’s its not about you… ever. I was calling all of us selfish but only you are acting childish here.

    We are starting to go in circles so that usually means it’s time to end the discussion for awhile.

    Thanks for the indulgence Denny!

  106. Brett April 28, 2008 at 5:42 pm #

    Just let it go Lucas…walk away. Truth does not need to defend itself.

  107. Bryan L April 28, 2008 at 8:47 pm #

    Brett,
    I’m glad it was a joke! : )
    I like Shiner (especially ’cause I’m from Texas). Lately I’ve really been liking the Black Shiner. Good stuff.
    Fat Tire is a little too toasty for me though and I haven’t tried the Alaskan.
    I prefer the Blue Moon beers (incl. the seasonal ones) as well as Paulaner and just hefeweizen or Belgian wheat beers in general.

    Bryan

  108. Lucas Knisely April 29, 2008 at 7:39 am #

    Chris,

    You said: “And Lucas, my brother, I do hope that you eventually realize that’s its not about you… ever. I was calling all of us selfish but only you are acting childish here.

    This is a typical response from someone who realizes they cannot address what someone else is saying. Instead of refuting any of the points I raised, you merely repeated yourself. When I pressed you on this fact, you resort to insults. This is done to either distract from the discussion or frustrate me into leaving or typing something I shouldn’t. Well I’m sorry to disappoint you Chris, but I won’t stoop to your level of weak argumentation and name calling. You argument stands refuted and my points unresponded to.

  109. Ellen Sichina April 29, 2008 at 12:53 pm #

    There remains a real refusal to address these very relevant scriptures (Mark 12:30-31, Galatians 5:13-14, Luke 17:1-2, Philippians 2:4, Romans 14:21). We must not divert attention.

    We must not disregard these scriptures! Let me encourage you to address each of these scriptures, as well as my questions. D. J., thank you for refusing to engage in personal attacks, as well as your heart to address this matter from the entire biblical evidence. You mention that Jesus and His disciples “saw no contradiction between enjoying alcoholic drink in moderation and looking out for the weaker brother.” Were this true, how can we explain the seeming contradiction with Romans 14:21? This verse expressly mentions drinking wine. When we examine scriptures, searching for Jesus and His disciples drinking wine before weaker brothers, and then leading weaker brothers astray or stumbling, we are left empty-handed. We might erroneously presume that we could never lead weaker brothers to stumble, yet Romans 14 refutes that presumption.

    We indeed are free in Christ, yet freedom in Christ demands great responsibility. Ferg argues that this may mean that he should not announce his excitement regarding certain aspects of marriage, because perhaps a teen could be led astray; he then proclaims this logic ridiculous. D. J. believes that this example represents “unbiblical lengths.” Yet when we examine Romans 14:21, where are these unbiblical extremes? We are told, “It is good neither to eat meat nor drink wine nor do anything by which your brother stumbles or is offended or is made weak.” Let’s repeat that… “anything.” These are God’s words. Ferg, should you have reason to believe that verbally sharing your anticipation might cause a teen to stumble, scripture encourages you that “it is good” not to take such action. Best wishes, Ferg, on your upcoming wedding!

    For the sake of our witness, for the sake of leading many to Christ, let me encourage every believer to reexamine this matter in light of Mark 12:30-31, Galatians 5:13-14, Luke 17:1-2, Philippians 2:4, and Romans 14:21. Whenever we speak and act, people may be watching. Whenever we, by drinking alcohol, might lead our neighbor astray or cause him to stumble, are we sufficiently serious about evangelism to relinquish that action? We must effectively share Jesus Christ!!

  110. Lucas Knisely April 29, 2008 at 1:46 pm #

    Ellen,

    You said: “how can we explain the seeming contradiction with Romans 14:21? This verse expressly mentions drinking wine.

    It also mentions eating meat. Paul tells us to eat whatever is sold in the meat market: 1 Corinthians 10:25 But according to your argument, we shouldn’t drink wine and we should become vegetarians.

    You continue to claim we haven’t addressed “relevant passages”, but your eisegesis doesn’t suddenly make them relevant. In fact, your lack of effort to explain how they condemn drinking exposes the true weakness of your position. This is an issue of conscience, plain and simple. Any effort to condemn drinking outside of conscience in our own lives requires eisegesis.

  111. Chris April 29, 2008 at 2:27 pm #

    Hey Ellen! I appreciate your approach here. You are right no has dealt with those verses only deflected. It really is an issue of maturity. I don’t agree with Piper on many things but he is spot on when he writes:

    “The mature believer does not ask: How many enjoyable things can I do and still not transgress God’s will? But rather: Is there anything at all that I can do or stop doing which will refine my ability to recognize and do the will of God. In general, drinking alcoholic beverages does not increase one’s sensitivity to the will of God. On the contrary, it weakens the intensity of our desire to be holy as God is holy. Therefore, I feel no need whatsoever to make wine or beer or any other alcoholic beverage part of my diet. It contradicts and threatens what I value most.”

  112. Ferg April 29, 2008 at 2:54 pm #

    Is it inappropriate to say that after reading this post I feel like i want a drink!!! :o)

  113. MatthewS April 29, 2008 at 10:12 pm #

    Ellen,

    At 100+ comments, I think this post has done its job and I probably am committing a blog sin to prolong it. However, you are asking for someone to deal with a set of verses. For what it is worth, here is a comment to the Gal 5:13 passage. Gal 5:13-15 tells us:
    1) We are free, 2) don’t use the freedom to indulge the sinful nature, 3) serve each other in love, 4) love your neighbor as yourself, 5) quit biting and devouring each other.

    This passage says nothing directly about about drink. It does say we are free. I doubt you think that applies here!

    2) Do not indulge the sinful nature: to say that drinking in moderation is indulging the sinful nature is in fact begging the question – assuming to be true what one is trying to prove is true. In other words, if drinking is sin, it is sin, but this phrase does nothing to prove that.

    3) Seve each other in love: perhaps you could serve me by sharing a drink with me (even though I rarely do drink) or perhaps I could serve you by not drinking around you do to your own preferences. It could go both ways. Would the original audience have ever understood this this verse to be against drinking? It seems a stretch to me.

    4) Love your neighbor as yourself: unless you assume that drinking is wrong, not sure how this applies. If I prefer blue to red, will you always wear blue, just for me? If I prefer you don’t drink, but another friend prefers you do, which one will you “love?” Again, without assuming that drinking is wrong, I don’t see how this phrase has much to do with it.

    5) Quit biting and devouring each other. It seems the Judaizers were laying down extra burdens on the Galatians. It was robbing their joy and leading to them being unkind to each other. I can see how this leads one to be careful not to lay down extra rules on someone but I don’t see how it says anything about not drinking.

    My exegesis here is a bit sloppy, really. Good exegesis requires you to consider the original audience and the original human author and the problem that was being addressed. It seems the situation for the Galatians was that Jewish Christians from Rome were preaching a new and improved, Jesus + Moses gospel, as opposed to the Jesus only gospel that Paul preached. Paul is telling them to knock it off. Paul links the Spirit, the cross, and faith to justification (and Abraham’s promise) and tells them no amount of Law-following helps one bit with justification (being righteous before God). Careful exegesis would bridge from our context to theirs and then back forward to ours to find the contemporary significance of that message.

    All that to say, I don’t think Gal 5:13-15 is a good passage to use against drinking unless you assume it is wrong from the outset, in which case you don’t need these verses anyway.

  114. MatthewS April 29, 2008 at 10:15 pm #

    hmmm, the first two paragraphs of my comment sound snippy. I am sorry. I didn’t mean to be unkind.

  115. Steve April 29, 2008 at 10:37 pm #

    Matthew,
    I would consider it an unkind act to model behaviour for young people that may (or may not) have very detrimental consequences for them later in life.
    Sadly, I live in a culture which is decidedly post-christian. The statements I hear repeatedly are.. “you Christians are no better than us… your pastors get drunk and make a disgrace of themselves just like we do.” Sadly I have to agree with them. If your Christianity doesn’t work at home, making you kind towards those who may fall into problems with alcohol, please don’t export it. We have enough trouble with inauthentic and unemphatic disciples as it is.
    Steve

  116. Brett April 29, 2008 at 10:53 pm #

    Steve,

    If I abused alcohol and got drunk, then I stand corrected. But I don’t. I enjoy drinking a beer or a glass of wine from time to time, I don’t get drunk, I don’t do it around weaker brothers or sisters, so enough with the pushing your own convictions on other people. It is considered a great offense in some countries if you don’t drink alcohol with them socially, so I suggest you never become a missionary to one of these places or the Gospel will be hindered because of your stance.

  117. Steve April 29, 2008 at 11:32 pm #

    Brett, not only am I a “missionary” in one of those places, I was born and raised here. My forebears introduced Rum as the basis of payment for the soldiers guarding the convict first settlers in this place. Google “Grose – Rum rebellion”
    I grew up in a non-christian family where not drinking was considered a greater offense than murder.
    However, most members of my family (12/17) came to acknowledge through my integrity in this matter the reality of the power of the resurrection, and have since come to know the Lord.
    Please share with us how many have come to know the Lord through your drinking?
    Steve

  118. Brett April 29, 2008 at 11:44 pm #

    Steve,

    I don’t play the number counting game b/c I think it’s fruitless. I will tell you that my non-Christian friends greatly respect me having a beer around them. They understand that i don’t get drunk, but they confess that they do not feel judged when they are around me b/c I have a beer with them. Also, we had a missionary speak to our class this semester that said he would be a social outcast if he didn’t go to the pub and drink a beer with people. The pub is essentially a place for him to meet people and talk about Jesus, and they would look at him as a weirdo if he did not drink a beer while there. Another missionary spoke and said that he went to China and had a meeting with high ranking officials there. They brought out a bottle of liquor that was hundreds of years old. These people would have been extremely offended had my missionary friend told them he didn’t drink b/c “it wasn’t a good Christian thing to do,” rather, he drank with them and had much fruitful conversation in a place where it would have been considered a shame and disgraceful to refuse to partake in it. I also know of a missionary that said after church, every Sunday, the pastors go to a pub, drink beers, and talk about Jesus amongst themselves and other people. They don’t get drunk, and it’s not a bad “witness” (whatever that means). Do I need to keep going, because I have plenty more. Actually, I don’t even know why I got back in this conversation, I’m finished.

  119. Steve April 29, 2008 at 11:49 pm #

    Reminds me of that kids game.. so you ain’t got a one yet?
    🙂
    Steve

  120. D.J. Williams April 30, 2008 at 7:09 am #

    Wow, Steve. Are you really challenging us to match your number of converts, as if your number of converts has anything to do with you? That’s dangerous ground, brother. Smiley face or not, I was really put off by that.

    I have had a friend comment that he finds it an unheard of concept that I drink without ever getting drunk. He has said he’s never met anyone like that before. If that’s not an avenue for the gospel, I don’t know what is.

    I have to agree with Matthew above – if we were actually modeling sinful behavior, then your critiques would be spot on. Since we’re not modeling sinful behavior, your critiques are not really relevant. As Ferg said, one might as well refrain from speaking about God’s gift of sex as enjoyed in marriage lest a teenager hear about it and seek to get a head start. The fact that Ellen finds this to be a good idea is frightening to me. I don’t mean any offense, but that’s how I feel. We need to seriously evaluate what it means to “cause another to stumble.” Talking about sex in marriage is not “causing someone to stumble” who goes out and indulges in it before marriage. Otherwise, God has violated his own command by inspiring the Song of Solomon. Likewise, celebrating responsible drinking is not “causing someone to stumble” who goes out and gets drunk. Otherwise, God has violated his own command by inspiring Deuteronomy 24:16 and Psalm 104:15 (BTW – note that nobody arguing the other side as even attempted to touch those verses). “Causing someone to stumble” is bragging constantly about the joys of sex with your unmarried friend and urging them in that direction. “Causing someone to stumble” is deliberately offering a drink to a recovering alcoholic. The imagery Paul uses of “stumbling blocks” would have conjured imagery to his original audience of one who lays down a rock in the path of a blind man – exploiting their weakness for personal pleasure or amusement. That is causing someone to stumble, and that is not what we’re doing or advocating doing.

  121. Lucas Knisely April 30, 2008 at 7:25 am #

    Matthew responded to one of the verses used, thus showing it to be un-supportive of the position, and Steve’s response is to repackage the same thing he said earlier.

    And D.J. picked up on something telling that I noticed earlier from this quote by Steve:

    However, most members of my family (12/17) came to acknowledge through my integrity in this matter the reality of the power of the resurrection, and have since come to know the Lord.

    Through your integrity in this matter?! I keep getting told this is a matter of maturity, and that I’m being childish and others are being selfish. Well it must be nice to sit up in an ivory tower of self proclaimed maturity, selflessness, and integrity. The pride that such a view stems from seeps through the cracks and is made visible through these little statements about maturity, childishness, and selfishness. Because the reality is, when you make a rule that God has not made, pride is at the root.

  122. micah the pilot May 4, 2008 at 8:30 am #

    One Tuesday morning, before 8 o’clock, I went to the library to check my e-mail. I had a message from a girl I’d met a few weeks before, and her e-mail mentioned a verse in Romans. I went down to the Circle K and bought a 40-ounce can of Miller High Life for $1.29. Then I went back to where I was staying, rolled a few cigarettes, cracked open my drink, and started reading Romans. I wanted to read the verse from the e-mail, but I couldn’t remember what it was, so I started at the beginning of the book. By the time I got to chapter 10, the beer was gone, the ashtray needed emptying and I was a Christian.

    sound advice:
    http://www.billygraham.org/DMag_SpiritualHelp_Article.asp?ArticleID=872

  123. Steve May 4, 2008 at 6:43 pm #

    g’day Micah,
    I’m not real sure what your comment was meant to prove.. that we ought to serve booze at every BGEA evangelistic event in order to loosen people up to make “decisions”? or “Every body that drinks millers should read Romans ’cause they are gonna die?”
    🙂
    Steve

  124. micah the pilot May 5, 2008 at 7:34 am #

    well, steve, if anything i think the implication would be to read AP’s advice. maybe to teach young men and women how to think. maybe we should show them how to live. maybe we should love them, pray for them, and let god be sovereign over them. the prodigal’s brother didn’t lack sin for all of his obedience and the prodigal didn’t lack forgiveness (and imputed righteousness) for all his repentance.

    i’m not clamoring for disobedience, but faithless disobedience i don’t think is any worse than faithless obedience. and i’m not against obedience (though i’m not sure that teetotaling is obedience). but i’m specifically for faithful obedience.

  125. micah the pilot May 5, 2008 at 7:41 am #

    actually, my position is closer to this: instead of teaching young men and women how to abstain and avoid (which are useful skills), let us teach them (or at least learn to demonstrate before them and teach them to practice themselves) discipline and self-control, which are of christ.

  126. Steve May 5, 2008 at 6:40 pm #

    Friend Micah, I too was saved from abuse of alcohol, but .. the debate is not over our attitude towards sinners. Compassion is the only attitude we can have.
    The debate is over whether youth pastors should encourage young people to drink.
    Steve

  127. Bryan L May 5, 2008 at 6:53 pm #

    “The debate is over whether youth pastors should encourage young people to drink.”

    Really? I thought it was just over Christians and alcohol in general. Who here was arguing that Youth Pastors should encourage their youth to drink? I don’t think anyone said that. I could be wrong though and I would like to be pointed to the comment where that was stated.

    I can’t imagine a youth pastor standing in front of a bunch of teens encouraging them to go out and drink and get wasted.

    Bryan

  128. Ellen Sichina May 21, 2008 at 1:15 pm #

    Lucas, when discussing my claims that these scriptures (Mark 12:30-31, Galatians 5:13-14, Luke 17:1-2, Philippians 2:4, Romans 14:21) are very relevant, you state that “eisegesis does not make them relevant.” Jesus’ greatest commands (Mark 12:30-31) are never irrelevant. Neither verse specifies exceptions. We dare not reinvent Mark 12:31 as “…Love your neighbor as yourself, except where drinking alcohol is concerned.” Romans 14:21 expressly mentions drinking wine. Since we are discussing Christians and alcohol, reason compels us to deem this scripture relevant.

    My friend, you severely distort my position, creating an extreme straw man argument and then charging me with eisegesis. Perhaps my real argument has been a real challenge to refute?

    Let us address your argument, which deems key parts of the New Testament irrelevant. Therein is the key problem with your argument. Whenever we take actions (e.g., drinking) that affect others, then Mark 12:31, Galatians 5:13-14, and Philippians 2:4 must be relevant.

    (Please forgive my delay in responding; seminary and ministry responsibilities have kept me very busy.)

  129. Ellen Sichina May 21, 2008 at 1:40 pm #

    Matthew, many thanks for your exegesis! We indeed are free in Christ, yet that freedom demands great responsibility. My argument keeps getting changed beyond recognition. We seem to agree that we are free in Christ and that scripture never states that drinking itself is necessarily evil, yet scripture says much more.

    Your comments on “Love your neighbor as yourself” marvelously illustrate where we differ. You state that “without assuming that drinking is wrong, I don’t see how this phrase has much to do with it.” Yet we dare not reinvent Mark 12:31 as “…Love your neighbor as yourself, except where drinking alcohol is concerned.” These verses are very relevant whenever we take actions that affect others.

    Steve shares the heartbreaking news that the rate of alcoholism in his area is 25%. Many people are struggling with alcoholism. These people are our neighbors! Here’s a question regarding Christians and drinking… What are we as Christians called to do, given these neighbors (Mark 12:31, Galatians 5:14, Philippians 2:4)? We might be tempted to disregard them, relishing our freedom, yet then we neglect the New Testament witness regarding love. “By this we know that we abide in Him, and He in us….” (1 John 4:13)

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