"Abstinence is not merely wisdom, it is obedience to Christ and holiness before God"Patterson's quote is an example of the problem Fundamentalism causes in the Southern Baptist Convention today. Patterson, like Lumpkins, places abstinence in the non-negotiable category of "obedience to Christ" and "holiness before God." To disagree with their Baptist Identity convictions is to argue with God Himself. This is precisely the reason the SBC is having a hard time in keeping young pastors engaged in Convention matters. The newest generation of evangelicals have more in common with the conservative theologian Gresham Machen who opposed Fundamentalism over fifty years ago because of what he called "the pietistic, perfectionist tendencies which include hang-ups with smoking, drinking alchohol, etc . . . ".
I commend Peter Lumpkins on publishing his new book. I also applaud his personal conviction of total abstinence. No Christian should question either Peter's commitment to Christ nor his personal convictions regarding alcohol. However, what Southern Baptists must resist is any attempt by Peter Lumpkins, Paige Patterson, John Sullivan and other Baptist Identity leaders to present total abstinence as the only view of alcohol compatible with "holiness." We all should respect total abstinence as a personal conviction of a brother in Christ, and we all should consider it an essential Christian conviction among those believers who are unable to drink alcohol without getting drunk, but if we allow any Baptist to present total abstinence as the "only" Christian and Baptist view on alcohol we are in danger of succombing to Fundamentalism in the SBC. I would much rather be personally led by the Spirit than by a man who claims his view is law for me.
For those who wish to comment regarding this post, please pay close attention to the subject matter. I am not writing about the pros or cons of total abstinence. The point of this post is that all of us must resist the easy temptation of equating our personal beliefs regarding tertiary matters on par with obedience to Christ, and demanding others comply with our views.
Only Fundamentalists do that.
In His Grace,