"I went to Jerusalem to become acquainted (Gk. istoria) with Cephas" - Paul's words from Galatians 1:18.

Total Abstinence from Alcohol Is The Only Solution for the Christian Who Cannot Abstain from Drunkenness

John Gill (1697-1771) is considered by historians as the finest and most erudite Baptist theologian of all time. Spurgeon called Gill "my mentor in Israel," and told his pastoral students that "the world and the church ... both bow before Gill's erudition". Augustus Toplady, author of the classic hymn Rock of Ages, spoke at Gill's funeral and stated:

"Gill never besieged an error which he did not force from its stronghold, nor ever encountered an adversary whom he did not baffle and subdue."

In Gill's classic multi-volume work The Exposition of the Old and New Testaments, Gill commented on Paul's statement "Be not drunk with wine, but be filled with the Spirit" (Ephesians 5:18; updated with modern punctuation and grammar).

"The sin of drunkenness is a custom, or habit, of voluntary excessive drinking of any strong liquor, whereby the mind is disturbed, and deprived of the use of reason. Though wine is only here mentioned, that being the usual liquor drank in the eastern countries, the same (principle) holds good of any other strong liquor. Drinking for necessary reasons is not prohibited, nor is the drinking of alcoholic beverages for honest delight and lawful pleasure prohibited. It is the excessive drinking of alcohol that is forbidden. This sin is voluntary, and with design, and on purpose -- for sometimes persons may be overtaken and intoxicated, through ignorance of the strength of the liquor, and their own weakness. It is also a custom, or habit of excessive drinking, and not a single act. It is a series of actions, a course of living in this sin, and is what denominates a man a drunkard. It causes persons to be excluded from the communion of the church; and, without the grace of true repentance, (these persons) shall not inherit the kingdom of heaven. Many things might be said to dissuade people from drunkenness: it hurts the mind, memory, and judgment; it deprives of reason, and it sets a man below a beast; it brings diseases on the body, and it wastes the estate; it unfits for business and duty; it opens a door for every sin, and exposes to shame and danger; and therefore should be carefully avoided, and especially by professors of religion."

I love Gill's expositional abilities, and like Spurgeon, I consider this Baptist theologian an expositor without equal in his day or ours. There are some modern Southern Baptists who allege that total abstinence from alcoholic beverages is the only Christian and biblical treatment of alcohol. As stated before, personal total abstinence from alcohol as a conviction should be respected, but demands for personal abstinence by all Southern Bapists should be resisted. Why? There are four reasons:

(1). The Bible does not command total abstinence, but commands God's people to abstain from the sin of drunkenness.
(2). The historic Baptist position, as articulated by Gill, is that of moderation, not total abstinence.
(3). To totally abstain for the sake of others is wisdom and biblical Christianity, but to demand others totally abstain from alcohol for your sake and to meet your self-imposed standards is unwise and evidence of an extra-biblical religion.
(4). If one concedes to the wishes of those that all Southern Baptists be defined by their total abstinence from alcohol, then it will not be long before other extra-biblical standards will be used to attempt to define Southern Baptists.
(5). Our faith and practice as followers of Jesus Christ is best defined by the Bible and not any other religious standard.

There may be 50 percent of Southern Baptists who disagree with the above five statements, but I have yet to see any Baptist provide a definitive rebuttal to Gill's biblical and historic Baptist beliefs regarding the consumption of alcohol.

Until I do, I shall remain Southern Baptist, a believer in the inerrancy of Scriptures, a supporter of the individual who is convicted to totally abstain from alcoholic beverages, but a firm resistor to to that person who demands that everyone else in the Southern Baptist Convention totally abstain.

In His Grace,

Wade

82 comments:

pastorricky99 said...

well stated and i couldnt agree more...

Thy Peace said...

For a free copy (online reading) ...

John Gill's Exposition of the Old and New Testaments — his magnum opus.

Ephesians 5.
but be filled with the Spirit; that is, "with the Holy Spirit", as read the Vulgate Latin and Ethiopic versions; with the gifts and graces of the Spirit: some have been filled with them in an extraordinary way, as the apostles on the day of Pentecost; and others in an ordinary manner, as common believers; and who may be said to be filled with the Spirit, as with wine, or instead of it, or in opposition to it, when the love of God is shed abroad in their hearts by the Spirit, which is compared to wine, for its antiquity, purity, and refreshing nature; and they are filled with it, who have a comfortable sense of it, and a firm persuasion of interest in it, and are delighted with the views of it, and are as it were inebriated with it; and they are filled with the Spirit, in whom his grace is a well of living water, and out of whose belly flow rivers of it; and who have a large measure of spiritual peace and joy, expressed in the following manner.

Rev. said...

One might argue the historic *Southern* Baptist position is one of abstinence. It's impossible to argue the SBC has always abstained because the 1925 BFM states wine is to be employed in communion, but the many resolutions, etc., passed over the past 70 years or so indicate the majority of SBCers in that period have largely held that position.

Wade, what do you think of NAMB enforcing abstinence upon all those whom they support, endorse, etc.?

Rex Ray said...

I’ve been in a Southern Baptist Church for 77 years. Every church covenant that I REMEMBER had:

“To abstain from the sale and use of intoxicating drinks as a beverage.”

This includes the church I was a charter member in 1994. At present, I’m in the same church, and have been helping with a new church covenant for two years.

Even though I’ve never had a ‘drink’, I’ve not pushed for the old covenant because it would eliminate several deacons and possibly the pastor; not to mention a number of church members.

Is it right to use the ‘go along to get along’ strategy and how far do we go?

Rex Ray said...

Opps - 1944 (It must be that pain pill for a tooth-ache last night - couldn't walk straight. :))

child of grace said...

To insist upon abstinence for all is to impose a standard that would disqualify most of the patriarchs, all of the apostles, and Christ himself from SBC ministry.

It also elevates tradition over theology.

RRR said...

Sorry for the length of my comment but I just had to say it.

Wade said:
"The Bible does not command total abstinence, but commands God's people to abstain from the sin of drunkenness."

But Paul said: "It is good not to tear down the work of God for the sake of food. It is good not to eat meat or to drink wine, or to do anything by which your brother stumbles." Romans 14:20,21

The reality is if Wade says he has a glass of wine at dinner for the purpose of building relationships with a lost friend, he compromises his integrity in ministry and his Christian witness in our culture. (I'm pretty sure Wade explained that he did this in the past. If I am misrepresenting the situation I beg forgiveness in advance.)

But this scenario still presents a basis for explaining the argument that strong believers should never drink alcohol.

Some Anglican missionary friends drink alcohol as they work with Thai people. For a Christian to drink in Asian, and since serving in Africa I can include African, church cultures is tantamount to professing that one is not a true believer. Really, it's about that serious. (What will they think when they discover that the church they attend in the US freely accepts drinking?)

The Anglicans had whiskey on the counters in their kitchen when there were community events and Thai Christians were invited. They drank beer at a community outing attended mostly by Thai Christians. They and their ex-pat friends were the only people drinking.

I didn't conduct a survey and only God knows the damage done to their credibility as ministers of the Gospel in this area. But knowing my Asian friends and how they think, I know it must have been embarrassing, especially for those Thai Christians that worked in the Thai Anglican church for leaders in their church to consume even a little alcohol.

If I drink one beer each week with my Mexican food, I cannot say that "I don't drink."

To say that we need to drink so as to build relationships is not accurate. When Italian friends in Zambia insisted that we have a glass of wine when visiting in their home, we politely refused by saying that it would not be appropriate in the situation that we work in. They "kind of" understood, but were definitely not offended and I dare say may have at least had some respect for our convictions. If anything, refusing increased our witness credibility with them.

Many, many Americans have the same perspective on Christians drinking alcohol.
Even the typical lost American would be shocked to see Wade Burleson at the check-out counter at the local grocery with a six-pack of beer or bottle of wine. They might say, “Cool! Let’s party!” But his witness would likely be compromised.

There are other strong, practical reasons for NOT drinking AT ALL. If we do drink, we say that it’s okay. We lower the standard. We open the door to people drinking that would not other wise drink. We thereby increase the risks of abusive drinking.

PLUS, having been a heavy drinker two or three decades ago, I can assure you that it is a very rare occasion when even a social drinker who has a glass of wine at dinner does not have occasion to over-drink on some occasions. They then risk making stupid remarks and decisions while under the influence.

Of course Jesus drank wine and so did Paul. But not in situations which compromised the integrity of their witness and message. We cannot afford to drink in our situations and I bet that if Jesus and Paul were in our shoes today THEY would not drink even a sip.

Why in the world would we even explore taking this road of lowering our rhetoric about abstinence??

And yes, Jeff, I realize that I’m in danger of talking with a log in my eye again.

Tim G said...

Wade from your own words:

"To totally abstain for the sake of others is wisdom and biblical Christianity"

Case closed! Why would a Christian want to do anything that was NOT wise?

Rex Ray said...

RRR,
Thanks for saying all the things I wanted to say, and Tim G, I actually agree with your “Case closed”. Is the world coming to an end? :)

I think what RRR said about Jesus NOT drinking today is key that Christians should strive for a goal that gives a moral witness.

I think it hurts the witness of our church when one member’s name is in the paper for having received a liquor license – especially in a county that is dry.

Mormons ‘don’t’ believe in drinking, but about like “Always invite TWO Baptists to go fishing because ONE would drink all your booze.”

On a mission trip to Afghanistan, a Mormon seemed amazed I had never had one drink – that week he accepted Christ.

Lydia said...

Case closed! Why would a Christian want to do anything that was NOT wise?

Mon Oct 12, 03:48:00 AM 2009

I have some friends who have thrown out their anti statin drugs that were wrecking havoc on their bodies and are now taking 6-8 onces of red wine per day with better results. Is that wise?

Rex Ray said...

Kirkastan! Not Afghanistan – when will I learn to remember?

On the other hand, it’s like mechanic’s mistakes provides more work.

Good point Lydia,
It’s always better to choose the lesser of two evils. :)

Jason said...

The arguments for abstinence are rather poorly constructed and arise from social views associated with particular beliefs rather than Scriptural arguments. For example, while drinking is unacceptable in certain parts of the world by Christians (Asia and Africa according to RRR [Mon Oct 12, 03:15:00 AM 2009]), in England and many parts of Scotland and Ireland and Germany and France and so on it is openly acceptable. England has a strong pub culture in which a person does not seek to get drunk, but to partake of a nice meal and relaxation that involves (typically) a beer and occasionally wine. In Scotland, now days the pub is the place to watch football (soccer). (This is different from 10-30 years ago where pubs where a place to get drunk.) Going to someone’s home, even a Christian’s, for a party often involves wine or beer. No one is offended if you don’t drink or if you do, so long as you don’t become drunk. Drunkenness is condemned, but enjoying alcohol is not. There are very few drunk driving accidents because people respect the limits of their own bodies, and I know many people who when they go out with friends will have a designated driver who simply does not drink and no one pressures the person to do so. Even some of the strictest Christian groups, such as some Brethren traditions, accept drinking as a social aspect of life.

The Christian must always be aware of one’s social situation and, for reasons of witness, respect those traditions that do not conflict with God’s word. So drinking may be wrong in some situations, like Asia, Africa or certain circles in the US. But to rule out drinking everywhere because it is wrong in these places is nonsense.

I agree with RRR that ‘[t]o say that we need to drink so as to build relationships is not accurate.’ Nevertheless, it doesn’t follow that all drinking should be ruled out. There are places and reasons to abstain, but these places and reasons do not put drinking beyond the pale.

There are indeed ‘strong, practical reasons for NOT drinking AT ALL’, as RRR says, but only in certain situations. We are not ‘lower[ing] the standard’ if the standard, as Scripture states, is not to become drunk. We must maintain the high standard of no drunkenness, but eliminating drinking is not the solution. A parallel argument to RRR’s could be made with sex or food. Sexual acts are rising among teenagers, so we should therefore tell everyone that sex is wrong—that is how a parallel argument would look. Either eating or sex can be extremely dangerous, but none of us are going to say that we should stop eating or having sex in marriage.

The suggestion that a social drinker will on occasion over-drink is simply inaccurate. Some may, but others don’t. I know someone who this is never a problem because she simply does not drink more than a half glass of wine in an evening. Could she drink more? Certainly. But she has determined that this amount is sufficient for her to enjoy the taste of wine and to safely prevent her from ever having to much. And she did not learn this by trial and error!

Finally, the suggestion that ‘if Jesus and Paul were in our shoes today THEY would not drink even a sip’, made by RRR, reaches the highest level of historical speculation available. It simply cannot be proved, and to argue on these grounds is to not argue at all.

I apologise for the long comment, but hopefully it is helpful to the discussion.

Jason

jasonk said...

I think it has little bearing on the argument whether Asians or Africans or Americans equate drinking in moderation with a lack of Christian conviction. I suspect that John Gill, Wade Burleson, or others were not making that argument. Their argument is, and should be, "what does the Bible actually teach?" If any activity that we take part in causes someone to question our faith, then it is our fault, and the fault of generations before us, for not teaching the Bible in an accurate way. It is our fault for allowing tradition to creep into Biblical teaching. So, shame on us.

This is the fallout from the conservative resurgence. The CR stressed the inerrancy of Scripture. The CR forced young men to go back to the Bible, and actually read it. When we did that, we realized that some of what Baptists had been teaching for generations has no basis in Scripture. You can't have it both ways. If we believe in the inerrancy of Scripture, then we believe in the inerrancy of ALL of scripture.

Let's see...stand with RRR, Tim G, and other SBC traditionalists? Or stand with John Gill, Charles Spurgeon, and Martin Luther?
Now if you'll excuse me, I'm going to finish my cup of artificial stimulant (coffee, that is).

Rex Ray said...

Has anyone seen the reaction of their mate at the time of their death?

I saw mine the other day in the picture of this slide.

At the bottom was a sled made of a lawn chair with a mattress.

I heard my wife screaming and calling my name as she shook the mattress thinking I was dead in her hallucination.

John Daly said...

Yawn...stretch, did our host take Columbus day off and pull out an oldie but goodie post? Talk about tilling the same ground!

I attend a Bible study on Monday nights and the fellas all order their favorite brewski and I order my favorite coffee and then we proceed to dig into the Word.

Each Believer must demonstrate their own conviction in this matter and resolve to make the most God honoring and Christ exalting decision possible.

For me, it's much easier to not even give the hint or perception of doing something that might cause another to stumble but if I took that to the extreme then I would be missing out on some good Iron Sharpening w/ my bro's.

Hey anyone on Facebook, look your boy up!

http://www.facebook.com/NativeVermonter

Wade Burleson said...

Tim,

You remarked on my quote:

"To totally abstain for the sake of others is wisdom and biblical Christianity"

by saying, "Case closed! Why would a Christian want to do anything that was NOT wise?"

The others, Tim, are those weak in the faith and drunkards. It is always wise to abstain totally in an environment of people in the above two categories.

It is unwise to concede to the demands of those who believe themselves "holy" and "strong" that everyone else around them totally abstain.

To conform to their ideological wishes would only reaffirm them in their obtaining of righteousness by what they do or don't do--unless in love you choose to cover their sin and consider them weaker brethren.

Blessings,

Wade

Wade Burleson said...

John Daly,

Your agreement with me on this issue may cause you to yawn--but one day you will realize the deeper issue at stake rather than looking at only the surface one.

Wade Burleson said...

Rev,

NAMB and IMB policies on this issue should simply be changed to a covenant abstaining from drunkenness.

Otherwise, you are making many IMB missionaries in some countries liars--they are doing the Lord's work and drinking in moderation according to the local customs and culture. In Germany, it is local beer. In Chile, it is local wine. Etc...

By the way, when Baptists gathered to raise money for missionaries to India (William Carey), they met in the ale house that they owned, and the initial offering was tallied on the back of an invoice for liquor.

Some Southern Baptists need to wrap that little tidbit on paper in their pipe and smoke it (Rex).

:) Smiling.

Blessings,

Wade

Wade Burleson said...

One final note and I'm off for the day for ministry.

In no form or fashion am I saying that Christians SHOULD drink alcohol. That is NOT the issue.

I am saying clearly and with every fiber of my being that Southern Baptists should RESIST extra-biblical demands that EVERYONE totally abstain from alcohol.

To not resist those extra-biblical requirements would concede the SBC similar to Mormons and Muslims who get their guidelines for living from book and standards other than the Bible.

Tom Parker said...

Tim G:

Why would you demand of SB members what the Bible itself does not demand?

Jeff said...

RRR, I don't even respond, and I get mentioned. You gotta love it. :) I don't care about this topic. It's old news....

I know Wade has drunk some wine before so he really doesn't believe in total abstinence.

willoh said...

When Rome puts tradition above scripture we howl! When we do it it is just good sense.

I don't drink because i work with a lot of Alcoholics in recovery, and i do not wish to do something they can not. If I retire, i may just have A beer. Maybe not. But the Holy Spirit will Guide me, not the law of man.

Tom Parker said...

Jeff:

You said--"I know Wade has drunk some wine before so he really doesn't believe in total abstinence."

This post is not about total abstinence, it is about requiring of people what the Bible does not even do.

But, as you said you do not care about this topic.

Christiane said...

I believe that the use of wine has its roots in both scripture and tradition. The tradition of the Jewish people is 5000 years old.
Here is some information:


WINE was used in Judaic tradition:

The Talmud compares the Torah (first five books of the Bible), Jerusalem, the nation of Israel, and the righteous man to wine, a symbol of goodness. The Talmud says wine will have a special purpose during the Messianic Age (Berachot 34b).

In Judaism, the blessing over the wine also symbolizes the blood sacrifice during Temple times, just as the blessing over bread (hamotzi) sprinkled with salt represents the sacrificial offering (Leviticus 2:13).

Jeff said...

Tom, I really don't. It's not an issue for me. To be honest, I skimmed the post and misread Wade. I thought he said he believed in total abstinence. Thanks for pointing out my error.

Tom Parker said...

Jeff:

So do you admit by requiring total abstinence you are adding to the Bible? If you do there appears to be many more like you in the SBC.

willoh said...

True story, very relevant.
Bill was pushing 70.
born and raised Baptist.
Never touched a drop.
His doctor told him that several medicines could be eliminated if he had a glass of wine at bedtime.
He needed assistance at the State Store, being totally ignorant of alcohol.
He went home with his bottle.
His wife told him she would divorce him if he keep liquor on the premises or if it touched his lips.
Her preacher told her she did the right thing.
This is not following the Lord, the Word, or the Spirit.

Paul Burleson said...

Here are 7 ideas that are guiding principles for me and have helped me immensely as I developed my ethical and biblical approach to life. They are neither exhaustive nor infallible but they are mine.

1..Biblical standards are eternal in nature but must be clearly understood in meaning comparing scripture with scripture.

2..Some standards recorded in scriptural were personal in nature and local in understanding thus not eternal in application.

3..Non-biblical personal conviction standards should remain personal and not be applied to other christians.

4..Non-biblical personal conviction standards can change in time due to circumstances and leading of the Holy Spirit without sin being involved.

5..Silence on a subject in scripture should never be used for setting an eternal standard of right or wrong biblically.

6..Non-condemnation scripturally of a cultural phenomenon should NOT be used to draw a conclusion of right or wrong on a particular behavior or subject.

7..In preaching personal convictions on a non-biblical issue it should always be identified as personal only and not binding on anyone else. [Also see #3.]


As I said..helpful but not infallible.

Jeff said...

Tom, I do not admit to anything. I have already stated this is a non-issue for me. Read into that what you want.
Have a great day. I am too busy to play your games today. I need to do what Wade is doing engage in ministry. I'll leave the debate to you retired folks.

Tom Parker said...

Jeff:

How sad when confronted with the truth by someone else you always cry that they are playing games. How sad!!

BTW, it has been my experience that it is impossible to dialogue with you. Is it really all my fault?

Christiane said...

Dear LYDIA,

You wrote this to me on the last post: "Your empty platitudes of love and compassion after you castigage anyone who makes a profit might impress some but not me. I can read right through you: You hate conservatives. You do not fool me one bit. But I am sure it fools many others."

I have responded to you comments on the last post.
Please read it if you have time today. Love, L's

Lydia said...

You wrote this to me on the last post: "Your empty platitudes of love and compassion after you castigage anyone who makes a profit might impress some but not me. I can read right through you: You hate conservatives. You do not fool me one bit. But I am sure it fools many others."

I have responded to you comments on the last post.
Please read it if you have time today. Love, L's

Mon Oct 12, 01:39:00 PM 2009

L's you are quite welcome to post it on other blogs if you like, too.

Christiane said...

Hi LYDIA,

No need. My response is written to you, personally.

Love, L's

jasonk said...

John Daly,
You see this as Wade putting up a post that will draw a lot of readers, comments, and a little controversy. I see it as encouraging, and educational. I had no idea that John Gill dealt with this topic. It is refreshing to read it, and learn.
If you are so concerned with your reputation, is it wise for you to be hanging out in a bar, sharing a table with those who imbibe? AFter all, if someone sees you in there, they might get the wrong idea. But that, after all, is the problem with legalism. It never ends.
Perhaps you'd be more interested in a review I published this morning on my site, of my new coffee maker. Coffee being a more acceptable beverage that alters peoples' moods, at least among the legalists of the SBC.

B Nettles said...

RRR said: "They then risk making stupid remarks and decisions while under the influence."

So why do pastors and church leaders who are abstinent make stupid remarks and decisions?

B Nettles said...

RRR said: "Of course Jesus drank wine and so did Paul. But not in situations which compromised the integrity of their witness and message. We cannot afford to drink in our situations and I bet that if Jesus and Paul were in our shoes today THEY would not drink even a sip."

First, it did "compromise" Jesus' witness. He was called a drunkard. Now, whether it had a destructive effect or constructive effect is a different issue. Sometimes generating criticism from the appropriate crowd can be good.

The second sentence is pure speculation.

B Nettles said...

Rex Ray said: "Kirkastan! Not Afghanistan – when will I learn to remember?"

Rex Ray, do you mean Kyrgyzstan? When were you there. I lived there for a year in 93-94.

Tim G said...

Tom,
A person can do as they wish but why would a person want to do what the Bible says is NOT wise?

You sure took that thought and jumped a river did you not!

Wade,
Maybe you look at things too much from a perspective of legalism and miss the fact that when something is NOT wise, it should be taught as NOT wise. How come this sooo difficult?

Lydia said...

Maybe you look at things too much from a perspective of legalism and miss the fact that when something is NOT wise, it should be taught as NOT wise. How come this sooo difficult?

Mon Oct 12, 03:49:00 PM 2009

Tim, Willoh and I pointed out a situation where it IS wise.

And it can be backed up with scripture:

Timothy, take a little wine for your stomach.

Tom Parker said...

Tim G:

I said to you:"Why would you demand of SB members what the Bible itself does not demand?"

Your response to me:"A person can do as they wish but why would a person want to do what the Bible says is NOT wise?

You sure took that thought and jumped a river did you not!"

Tim, you are being legalistic and going beyond what the Bible says. Correct me if I am wrong you believe the Bible teaches abstinence and I am saying it teaches no such thing.

You are twisting scriptures in a way that supports your position. But you are not by yourself.

Ruddy said...

Bravo Wade! Well said.

By the way, what happened to your open ID options for comments?

Scott said...

I also have an open view of alcohol.

However, I will NEVER even consider ordering a beverage when out in public because I don't want someone to just use my action, with no context, to justify their own personal sin of drunkenness. I will, however, occasionally enjoy a beverage in the comforts of my own home freely with any guests who also happen to be there. However, I do have friends who are in total abstinence of alcohol so I will also abstain from alcohol in their presence because I wish to honor their personal stances and/or struggles.

Then again, I enjoy a beverage in my own home about two or three times a year with my work schedule.

Bill said...

The statement that all alcohol consumption is unwise is not an a priori truth. I understand the verse used to back that statement up, but not all interpret it that way. There are plenty of verses that counter it. If drinking alcohol was a sin, God would have told Moses to prohibit it in the Law.

Tom Parker said...

Bill:

I have a real big problem when people like Tim G. try to use one verse and say case closed. To me it is cherry picking.

Darby Livingston said...

"If drinking alcohol was a sin, God would have told Moses to prohibit it in the Law."

Good point. It's interesting that most arguments for abstinence are formed from a couple passages in the OT wisdom literature that are far from conclusive. The primary exception in the law is for certain exclusive groups of people as part of a bigger vow of service.

In the NT, the argument comes from extending a couple verses to the point where abstinence is the only "wise" position or the only one that can truly keep someone else from "stumbling" (though the same verses are rarely allowed to apply to all the fat preachers in the SBC).

Florence in KY said...

My one and only time to imbibe was when I took communion in the old city of Jerusalem, while attending a Lutheran church that was built during the crusades in the 1100's.

Tim G said...

Tom,
Me twisting? Hmmmm. I thought it was pretty clear.

Legalistic? No way.

Here is a thought:
Lay out every verse in the Bible that deals with strong drink, alcohol etc. Then notice the number of negatives vs. positives.
Pretty clear from that standpoint!

Lydia said...

Here is a thought:
Lay out every verse in the Bible that deals with strong drink, alcohol etc. Then notice the number of negatives vs. positives.
Pretty clear from that standpoint!

Mon Oct 12, 05:51:00 PM 2009

Paul did not do that with the OT when he told Timothy to take a little wine for his stomach. So, I do not understand your point.

Tim G said...

Lydia,
My point is when people pick out a verse that seems to justify or allow, many other verses can show that it is not the case. "A little for the stomach" is different than sitting down at a table and drinking one or two glasses with a meal. In fact, there is a huge difference.

Tom Kelley said...

Florence in KY said...
My one and only time to imbibe was when I took communion in the old city of Jerusalem, while attending a Lutheran church that was built during the crusades in the 1100's.


Florence,
Does that mean the Lutheran church was built during ther 1100's, or that you attended there during the 1100's?

(grin -- feel free to slap me silly for that)

Rex Ray said...

Bill Nettles,
Not only did I forget the name, I forgot how to spell Kyrgyzstan.

We were there in 2002. It was like going back a hundred years in time. The lumber we bought was moved by wagon and horses…but hey!...the wheels were automobile tires and my airplane did have a seat belt even if it was spliced with bailing wire.

I’m going to skip the logic for abstinence and just say a man is rich in the things he can leave alone.

Howee said...

It seems that liquor became a big issue for Southern Baptist after the war was lost and we became the Religion of the Lost Cause.For God to have allowed the south to lose must have meant that he was displeased with the excess drinking and cursing that had been taking place.

Terry Matthews has an interesting read on this.
http://www.wfu.edu/~matthetl/south/thirteen.html

Liquor and Race


Interestingly, there were only two areas where denomination and region seemed to be singing from different pages in the hymnal: the liquor question, and the place of the negro in Southern society.

The first issue was that of liquor. The making and consuming of alcoholic beverages had been routine in the colonial and antebellum South. As a matter of fact, these activities continued largely to be taken for granted down to the 1880's. Many have observed that the South was the heaviest drinking section of the country down to the Civil War, and celebrations of all sorts--including weddings and funerals--were marked by the loosening of inhibitions provided by whiskey and rum. Baptists and Methodists were just as apt to enjoy spirits as Episcopalians or Presbyterians. Similarly, no distinctions existed between the customs of the clergy and the lay people where alcohol was concerned.


But all this changed--owing to a complex host of factors--with the beginning of the Jim Crow Era in the 1880's. Complicity in the liquor traffic, whether as user, manufacturer or retailer, came to be regarded as a rank evil. One's position on this all-important moral issue went far toward identifying whether the individual was a Christian practitioner or not. Organized efforts to control or even outlaw the entire liquor business consumed a large portion of Baptist moral energies, a program which contributed a great deal to the achievement of statewide prohibition in most of the Southern states by 1919 when the 18th Amendment became law.


J Park

Tom Parker said...

Tim G:

You said--"Here is a thought:
Lay out every verse in the Bible that deals with strong drink, alcohol etc. Then notice the number of negatives vs. positives.
Pretty clear from that standpoint!"

It is not a matter of how many verses are for and how many are against. You are trying to say the Bible teaches abstinence and it does not.

It would have been very easy for the Bible to say Thou Shalt not Drink but it does not as much as you and I wish it had.

You are being legalistic about this issue!

Darby Livingston said...

"A little for the stomach" is different than sitting down at a table and drinking one or two glasses with a meal. In fact, there is a huge difference."

1) How can you justify this statement as anything more than your opinion? How can you say "in fact" before using an ambiguous term like "huge" to explain something? This whole point is one step above nonsense.

2) Who appointed you the one to determine that "a little for the stomach" is appropriate while one or two with a meal isn't? Where is the text that draws that line?

Christiane said...

St. Matthew 11:19
"The Son of man came eating and drinking, and they say,
'Behold a man gluttonous, and a winebibber, a friend of publicans and sinners'. "

We know that Christ made 'wine' and drank 'wine'. Some have suggested that it was 'only grape juice'.

But, how then, would Christ be accused of being a 'winebibber' if he did not drink wine?

When was 'grape juice' first made so that it would not ferment?
I thought that was fairly recent in history. I could be wrong.

Thy Peace said...

VTMBottomline [Paul Burleson] > CHURCH COVENANTS-----GOOD OR BAD?.
What follows started out as a comment on Wades blog but grew exponentially and, therefore, had to become a post on my own blog. I'm aware that some of my friends may disagree with me here but real friendships are never based on the necessity of agreement on all things discussed so I'm confident my real friendships WILL remain intact.
-----------------------------------
Pastor Wade comments on the above post:
We changed our church covenenant to a promise to "abstain from drunkenness" rather than the promise to "abstain from drinking alcoholic beverages" and lovingly discipline (mentor, teach and eventually--if there is no repentance--remove from membership) that person who makes it a practice to get drunk.
-----------------------------------
Reality Check [Mary Burleson] > Payback or Freedom?.
I think we got it from the old covenant or many scriptures in the Old Testament. If you will or if my people will...then I will (God speaking). We live by, we hear preached, and we base our Christian beliefs and living on performance based teachings.

Things like if you have a daily quiet time, God will bless you with a "victorious" day. This type of thinking leads to the opposite that if you don't, for some reason, have a quiet time, then bad things will happen. How sad! Or, if you've done some bad things, you will pay for it the rest of your life with guilt and shame
.

Benji Ramsaur said...

We should not be mastered by anything but Christ.

1. Not mastered by T.V.
2. Not mastered by sports.
3. Not mastered by money.
4. Not mastered by alcohol.

It is not justifiable to pick and choose from these kinds of options to say "Well, I'm not going to tell you to abstain from #'s 1-3, but #4 is a different story!"

The same logic that says "It is wise to abstain from #4 in order to not be mastered by it" can be applied to #'s 1-3 as well.

We are justified in teaching God's people to not be mastered by anything. We are not justified in teaching God's people people they must abstain.

To do the latter is to not trust the work of the Spirit in the believer's life in my opinion.

Sin comes from the "heart" according to Jesus.

Not the biology.

Benji Ramsaur said...

Before someone says "well, you've got to make money to make a living", let's go ahead and change #3 above to "motorcycles".

:)

Chris Ryan said...

Benji,

Exceptionally well put.

Lydia said...

My point is when people pick out a verse that seems to justify or allow, many other verses can show that it is not the case. "A little for the stomach" is different than sitting down at a table and drinking one or two glasses with a meal. In fact, there is a huge difference.

Mon Oct 12, 06:42:00 PM 2009

Well, ole Darby beat me to the point but this brings in all kinds of questions such as how much is 'a little' in Greek? It could be 1 and 1/2 glasses full or a teaspoon, or perhaps a quarter of a wineskin? And, How many ounces are in a standard Ephesus glass?

And then we have the whole probability of how large Timothy was and what would constitute too much for him. The legalistic possiblilites are endless

So where is the huge difference? And how do you know? Which brings us back to the whole point: It is about drunkeness.

BTW: What is your opinion on 6-8oz. of wine per day instead of anti statin drugs? Is that an issue that should disfellowship someone? Would an elder with high cholesterol have to go out of town, wear a disguise to buy this 'little bit of wine medicine'for his clogged arteries? :o)

Wade Burleson said...

Benji,

Well stated.

I'm a tad suspicious that--unlike T.V., sports and money--alcohol is seen by our brothers as inherently evil.

So, though I love your logic, our brothers who demand total abstinence from everyone else won't.

Chris Ryan said...

Wade,

I see your point. But I wonder how they justify calling something God created and partook of intrinsically evil.

Rex Ray said...

Ahhhhh! I wasn’t going to get involved, but I’m afraid many of you cannot see the difference between drinking drivers of a 18 wheelers and camels.

Do you want your aircraft pilot to have a few before takeoff or maybe a nip on the way?

As culture changes what was once OK may become a sin.

To keep saying, ‘Jesus did it’ makes me sick.

Try entering a restaurant wearing a sheet.

Darby Livingston said...

"Try entering a restaurant wearing a sheet."

If I do that, would it be okay then to order a sloe gin fizzy? Just asking.

btw, word verification is impitin. Srange to say out loud.

Chris Ryan said...

Ah, but Rex,

Does walking into a restraunt wearing a sheet constitute sin? Or does it simply violate cultural norm?

And if it is just cultural, where the culture isn't tea-totaling (which happens to be much of America: it is mostly church members who have been told Scripture forbids drinking who promote total abstinence today) then you aren't defying either cultural norm or Biblical mandate to have a drink in an appropriate situation (not before flying, not before driving).

I've never heard anybody say that alcohol is appropriate to any and all situations. So when it comes to the pilot, that strawman won't fly (bad pun intended).

One Salient Oversight said...

I occasionally drink. I was partially abstinent up until the age of 23 but after that I made a decision to drink alcohol.

I have never been drunk.

To me alcoholic beverages are a neutral thing, like cars. A car is not intrinsically evil, and nor is driving it, but it can be used for evil. Alcohol is the same.

I do not drink as a means of reaching the lost. I do not drink to make people think Christians are "cool". I do not drink as a way of rejecting legalism.

I simply drink because it tastes good. It's nice. It makes me feel a bit relaxed. I don't use it to "cope" with life. It's just one of life's little luxuries.

But I never get drunk. I know God's mind on this subject and there is a point - either in public or in private - when I will cease drinking.

I have imbibed alcohol with unbelievers who have gone on to get drunk. Had I joined them in their drunkenness my witness would have been badly compromised. Saying to a group of semi-drunk unbelievers that I have never been drunk was an interesting experience, not least the fact that I said it while drinking a glass of wine.

But I wasn't drinking with these unbelievers as a means of reaching them or by being culturally sensitive. I wasn't trying to teach them a lesson about Christianity. I was drinking because it was nice to drink with a group of friends.

Caroline said...

Agreed.

Debbie Kaufman said...

But once again Rex, Jesus did do it, and we have to look to scripture not culture.

Benji Ramsaur said...

Wade,

"I'm a tad suspicious that--unlike T.V., sports and money--alcohol is seen by our brothers as inherently evil."

If so, then that brings up a major problem with their position in my opinion:

Blame shifting.

I think Jesus is clear that sin comes from the heart. Therefore, I think to try and shift the blame for drunkenness [away] from the heart to the "evils of alcohol" is wrong.

The only place I know of in Scripture that even comes close to justifying the "alcohol is inherently" evil idea is Proverbs 23:30-35.

However, I think the "tarry long" in verse 30 is important to understanding what it is communicating.

The "tarry long" in context communicates to me that the person who loves alcohol too much will get bit by alcohol in the end.

Therefore, it still comes back to the heart in my opinion.

Christiane said...
This comment has been removed by the author.
Lydia said...

"I think Jesus is clear that sin comes from the heart. Therefore, I think to try and shift the blame for drunkenness [away] from the heart to the "evils of alcohol" is wrong."

Yikes. That almost sounds like Islam.

ezekiel said...

Lydia,

Add me to your list of folk that statins poison. My little is about 3 inches in a 16 oz styrofoam coffee cup every night. That is for the heart (dad, teetotaler passed at the ripe old age of 60 and never saw any of his grandkids)
and the 12 oz Budlight every day works some kind of miracle on my allergies. Don't know how, don't care. Not going to stop.

Tim G....I know. Hellbound right?

Rex Ray...folks around me don't have to worry bout flying but you better stay out of the front of my bulldozer.

For all you lawmen out there...ever heard of the New Covenant? Grace rather than law?

Col 2:13 And you who were dead in trespasses and in the uncircumcision of your flesh (your sensuality, your sinful carnal nature), [God] brought to life together with [Christ], having [freely] forgiven us all our transgressions,
Col 2:14 Having cancelled and blotted out and wiped away the handwriting of the note (bond) with its legal decrees and demands which was in force and stood against us (hostile to us). This [note with its regulations, decrees, and demands] He set aside and cleared completely out of our way by nailing it to [His] cross.
Col 2:15 [God] disarmed the principalities and powers that were ranged against us and made a bold display and public example of them, in triumphing over them in Him and in it [the cross].
Col 2:16 Therefore let no one sit in judgment on you in matters of food and drink, or with regard to a feast day or a New Moon or a Sabbath.
Col 2:17 Such [things] are only the shadow of things that are to come, and they have only a symbolic value. But the reality (the substance, the solid fact of what is foreshadowed, the body of it) belongs to Christ.
Col 2:18 Let no one defraud you by acting as an umpire and declaring you unworthy and disqualifying you for the prize, insisting on self-abasement and worship of angels, taking his stand on visions [he claims] he has seen, vainly puffed up by his sensuous notions and inflated by his unspiritual thoughts and fleshly conceit,
Col 2:19 And not holding fast to the Head, from Whom the entire body, supplied and knit together by means of its joints and ligaments, grows with a growth that is from God.
Col 2:20 If then you have died with Christ to material ways of looking at things and have escaped from the world's crude and elemental notions and teachings of externalism, why do you live as if you still belong to the world? [Why do you submit to rules and regulations?--such as]
Col 2:21 Do not handle [this], Do not taste [that], Do not even touch [them],
Col 2:22 Referring to things all of which perish with being used. To do this is to follow human precepts and doctrines. [Isa. 29:13.]
Col 2:23 Such [practices] have indeed the outward appearance [that popularly passes] for wisdom, in promoting self-imposed rigor of devotion and delight in self-humiliation and severity of discipline of the body, but they are of no value in checking the indulgence of the flesh (the lower nature). [Instead, they do not honor God but serve only to indulge the flesh.]

I guess skippin church to go fishin or horse ridin would culminate in a fiery death on the spot. Right, Tim??

I can almost guarantee that the damage done to your witness by adherance to a dead letter and all the death and condemnation that goes with it pales in comparison to any damage a glass of wine or a cold beer ever did. Are you guys ever going to repent of your dead works and seeking a righteousness of your own?

Rex Ray said...

Debbie, Do you “keep silent” in your church? Should that apply to blogs? And if you wear a sheet, be sure it’s … :)

Rex Ray said...

Ezekiel,
I wouldn’t want to the backside of your bulldozer garage.

(My father went halfway through the wall in his garage [no brakes]. My mother was so happy because he said he would buy her a new car if he put a scratch on the car. But alas, there was no scratch.)

Rex Ray said...

Chris,
If you hired a baby sitter, would you mind if they brought their beer with them? Or should a child see beer in the fridge?

How about? ‘Avoid the appearance of evil”?

If alcohol is OK, why is it illegal for minors to drink?

‘Woe be the man that gives his neighbor drink.’

Darby Livingston said...

"How about? ‘Avoid the appearance of evil”?

If alcohol is OK, why is it illegal for minors to drink?"

Rex, are you serious? Have you ever gone back for seconds in front of others? Avoid the appearance of evil.
Have you ever went above the speed limit? Avoid the appearance of evil.

And if driving is OK, why is it illegal for minors to drive? And if voting is OK, why is it illegal for minors to vote? And if working forty hours a week is OK, why is it illegal for minors to work full time?

You can do better than this.

Florence in KY said...

Hi, Tom,

I'm pretty old but not quite THAT old.

Love, FBY

Chris Ryan said...

Darby,
You beat me to it.


Rex,
"Avoid the appearance of evil." Okay. Is alcohol intrinsically evil? I hope not. Because they have it lots of medicines. And the Whisky River burger at Red Robin's restraunt is really good. The alcohol is cooked out, but it still has whiskey in the name so I probably shouldn't order it if I want to avoid all appearances, huh?

Let's cut it with the "hedge around the law."

As a single man, if I'm hiring a baby sitter I have far bigger problems than if the baby sitter is showing up with a beer. But in the spirit of your question, no. I'm not going to like it if they show up with a beer. Not because I wouldn't want the kid to see it, but because I don't know what happens to this person when they drink, and watching other people's children is not in my opinion a time that drinking is appropriate.

Did I ever say it was? Did I ever say that there was no time that a drink wouldn't be appropriate? No. It isn't appropriate before other's lives are placed in your hands (flying, drinking, baby-sitting, etc.). It isn't appropriate in front of those who struggle with alcoholism. It isn't always appropriate, but that doesn't make it wrong or evil. Wisdom is a good gift. So is everything that God has made, when used with God's wisdom.

As for the issue of minors, I'll let Darby's arguments stand unaided.

Louis said...

I apologize that I come to this conversation a little late, but nonetheless wish to respond to one of the more recent comments.

Rex: You quoted a portion of Habakkuk 2:15, which portion says: ‘Woe be the man that gives his neighbor drink.’ If that were all that particular verse said, then you might have a point; but in fact the full verse reads, "Woe to him who gives drink to his neighbors, pouring it from the wineskin till they are drunk, so that he can gaze on their naked bodies" (NIV). So that verse clearly does not sustain an argument for abstinence, but rather is a condemnation of those who use strong drink as a means of weakening the inhibitions of someone in order to take advantage of them.

We need to be careful to quote EVERYTHING a verse says, and not merely carefully excised portions of it which we then can use to bolster a biblically questionable position.

The fact that those who insist upon total abstinence are forced to employ such scriptural contortions in order to support their position, in fact reveals the biblical weakness of that position.

Just sayin'.

Rex Ray said...

Louis,
Thanks for pointing out the rest of ‘my quote’. I just remembered the part that I liked. :) And you’re right about only quoting parts of verses.

On the subject of drinking, Wade said on his father’s blog:
http://vtmbottomline.blogspot.com/2009/10/church-covenants-yes-or-no.html

“We changed our church covenant to a promise to "abstain from drunkenness" rather than the promise to "abstain from drinking alcoholic beverages."

I made a comment that the covenant we're working on said: “to abstain from harmful habits and appearances of evil…”

Even though I prefer our old covenant that said, “to abstain from the sale and use of intoxicating drinks as a beverage”, I like our new covenant that is STILL in the ‘works’ better than Wade’s because ours cannot be used to ‘preach it’s OK to drink.’

Even thought I like and respect Paul Burleson, I haven’t read his blog in a long time because he deleted a comment I’d made about our pastor.

I thought it strange the first time I read Paul’s blog last Sunday and our pastor had a comment (12/10/09 4:07) saying our covenant (we’re still working on) was completed two years ago.

Yes, I was going to talk to him yesterday but never got the opportunity. I’ll try again today. I think I know what his answer will be and I’ll believe it if he says ‘I don’t remember saying that.’

Or it may be like Wade saying Jesus was a Southern Baptists, [I’ll never forget :)] and him saying “Words sometimes don’t mean what they say.”

BTW, wonder if camel drivers killed as many as drivers do today would Jesus have said anything different?

My mother spent the last twenty years of her life in a wheelchair due to a drunk driver. He lost control and skidded sidewise into her lane.

If he never drank he would never have been drunk.

Would it be that women are second class Christians or the OK to drink attitude that influenced the local paper headlines to say? “WOMAN KILLS MAN”

John Notestein said...

If we move away from total abstinence, pretty soon you'll have Baptists wanting to dance and play cards. I've been in SBC churches for over 50 years, and we have been good at adding extra biblical rules. Like the Pharisees, we are more concerned about other peoples actions than their hearts or even our own hearts, and just wait to jump on them for breaking the rules. By the way, we don't seem to be as concerned when we're munching on that fried chicken or doughnut in front of people that have eating disorders.

Jape said...

Wade, thank you for writing with such straight-forwardness and truth. I've been a "baptist" for 36 years, and when I say that what I actually mean is that I have attended a baptist church for 36 years. I do not label myself as a "baptist" but rather as a bible-believing Christ follower. I don't care about denominational labels which didn't exist in Jesus' day. So I also do not adhere to standards put forth by churches or "religious" organizations that impose "extra-biblical" beliefs, as you call them. This is a great article.